Letters From a Young Catholic

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

Monday, July 31, 2006

St. Ignatius of Loyola

In addition to being my birthday today, it is also the memorial of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Here is a beautiful prayer by St. Ignatius of Loyola that I found in the back of my Bible:

Take, O Lord, and receive my entire liberty, my memory, my understanding and my whole will. All that I am and all that I possess You have given me: I surrender it all to You to be disposed of according to Your will. Give me only Your love and Your grace; with these I will be rich enough, and will desire nothing more.

Twenty-one? Apparently.

Today I turn twenty-one years old. It's not exactly a milestone birthday (well, at least in Canada) but it's still hard to believe that I'm that old. Ok, I know that half the people reading my blog may resent that comment, but what I mean is that I'm really not a kid anymore. I can't even pretend to be a kid anymore. I guess I've got to face the reality that I'm "all grown up" now, although I know a few people who may not agree. For instance, my dad claims that the adult brain isn't fully formed until the mid-twenties so I guess I still have some growing up to do. The fact of the matter is, I don't feel grown up. In some ways I feel older than twenty-one but in many other ways I feel like I'm seven or eight years old. I sitll have a lot of work to do on the whole maturity thing. I guess you eat, you sleep, you live and you learn, and one day you wake up and, whether you like it or not, you're twenty-one.

Looking back on the past twenty-one years of my life I realize that I've been incredibly blessed. Probably in more ways than I even recognize. God has been incredibly gracious with me. It kind of makes me a little scared when I think about it though because I know that "every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required." (Lk 12:48)

I've had a lot of fun over the past twenty-one years too, including many memorable experiences. I went on an unforgetable trans-Canada road trip with my family when I was five. In grade ten I spent half the school year in Germany participating in a student exchange and made many friends there with whom I'm still in contact. I spent my first year of university studying in a castle in England. I travelled to Rome for Holy Week in 2004 with some friends from Germany. I spent a summer working as a camp counsellor and lifeguard at a summer camp for inner city kids with physical and mental disabilities in New York. I attended World Youth Day in Germany with my sister. For these and many other wonderful experiences I've had over the past twenty-one years I am truly grateful.

And so, I'm twenty-one. Where does that leave me? Well, I'll be graduating from university with a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in Modern Languages (focused on Spanish and French Literature) and Christianity & Culture (focused on Catholic Theological Studies) nine months from now (Ah! That's scary!). I've really enjoyed the past three years of university and I'm not sick of studying yet so I figure the logical conclusion would be to continue on with my studies. Now, that being said, what is logical and seems to make sense to me rarely fits into God's plans. He seems to have a sense of humour. So, I guess we'll just have to wait and see. . . I'm not too worried though. God has gotten me this far, I trust that he'll point me in the right direction.

As a side-note, one thing I never really understood as a kid was why birthdays celebrate the person who was born rather than the person who gave birth to them. When I was little I'd often be puzzled by this and I'd think to myself, "It doesn't take much effort on my part to get to my next birthday but it sure takes a lot of effort on my parents part to get me there." So on that note, I'd like to thank my mom and my dad for getting me to yet another birthday. They don't get all the credit though, they've got some pretty solid back-up from the Holy Trinity, the Blessed Virgin Mary, my guardian angel, and the saints.

Back in the Day

This is a picture of me twenty-one years ago. . . back in the day when I was still cute and innocent. A lot has changed since then.

And just for fun, here I am nineteen years ago on my second birthday. I think my parents would agree that I was still kind of cute but definitely not quite as innocent by this age.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Oma at Chartres

My Oma and Opa were up for dinner tonight and when I mentioned that I'd like to travel to Chartres some day the following little story came up. . .

My Oma used to be very proficient in languages before her mind fell victim to alzheimers. She was fluent in Spanish, German, French, English, and Italian. Oma also used to love history. She knew European history better than anyone else I've ever met. Needless to say, she was a very smart woman and well educated.

Well, one time my Oma and Opa were visiting Chartres, in France. My Oma decided that she wanted to take a tour of the cathedral. My Opa decided to sit down and wait for her. He figured the tour wouldn't be too long. Well, dear Oma tagged on to the first tour group she saw and followed the entire tour in French. Then she decided that she might learning something knew or different from a different tour guide and so she tagged on to a tour in Italian. Since she enjoyed that one so much, she tagged on to the next German one. Well, that was fascinating to her so she decided she might as well try the English tour. If you're going to do the tour in French, Italian, German, and English, you might as well do it in Spanish as well. . . after all was said and done my Opa had to wait quite some time for my Oma to be done following all these tours. I'm sure she learnt a lot about Chartres that day though! (And my Opa probably learnt a thing or two about patience!)


Pope Pleads for Mideast Cease-fire
An Ever More Grave Situation, He Says

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, JULY 30, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI appealed for an immediate cease-fire in the Middle East, hours after Israeli missiles struck several buildings in a southern Lebanon village, killing dozens, most of them children.

"In the name of God, I appeal to all those responsible for this spiral of violence, so that they immediately put down their weapons on all sides," the Pope told pilgrims and tourists today at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome. They had gathered for the recitation of the midday Angelus.

"In this moment," the Holy Father said, "I cannot help think of the situation, ever more grave and more tragic, that the Middle East is going through: hundreds of dead, many wounded, a huge number of the homeless and refugees; houses, towns and infrastructure destroyed; meanwhile, hatred and the desire for revenge grow in the hearts of many.

"I ask governing leaders and international organizations not to spare any effort to obtain this necessary halt to hostilities and so to be able to begin to build, through dialogue, a lasting and stable concord for all the people of the Middle East."

Fighting between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas is now in its 19th day.

Benedict XVI, who plans to spend most of the rest of his summer in Castel Gandolfo, said: "I appeal to all people of good to continue and to intensify the shipment of humanitarian help to those populations so tested and needy.

"We entrust this sorrowful petition to the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Prince of Peace and Queen of Peace, so venerated in Mideast countries, where we hope to see soon reign this reconciliation for which the Lord Jesus has offered his precious Blood."

Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us!

So, you say you're Catholic?

Earlier this week I received an e-mail from one of my regular blog readers asking me whether people who are baptised Catholic, but no longer practicing the Faith, yet claiming to be Catholic, are considered Catholic.

Good question. Case-in-point: In my first year of university I had a Catholic acquaintance who was constantly telling my Protestant friends how they were all going to Hell because they weren't Catholic and how being Protestant was stupid, etc.. etc.. etc.. His approach to these people seemed very arrogant and was not exactly what you'd be looking for in ecumenical dialogue. At the same time, this particular young man (by his own admission) was not a practicing Catholic. He'd been raised Catholic, attended Catholic elementary and high school, but was no longer going to Mass or participating in the sacraments. He certainly did not leave a positive impression of the Catholic Faith on our Protestant brothers and sisters in Christ yet presented himself to them as a Catholic who knew what he was talking about.

I know how frustrating conversations with such people can be. When talking with these people I try and remember first to be charitable in all that I say and secondly God's great mercy.

The general rule really is though: Once a Catholic, always a Catholic. Isn't that amazing? We can do the most horrible things, and yet God is always ready to extend to us his perfect mercy and forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The catch is, it's a gift that he freely gives, yet also a gift that we must freely receive. He won't force us to be a practicing Catholic. You can apostasize or be a heretic, and yet, the indelible mark on your soul remains. Once you're baptised, that's it. You can't undo it. If someone has apostasized and claims that they are no longer Catholic, although they were baptized in the Catholic Church, even though they may not consider themselves Catholic they still are in the sense that the mark on there soul is indelible. That's the beauty of the Faith. A person who has fallen away from the practice of the Faith for decades is always welcome back through the Sacrament of Mercy. Isn't that amazing? (I know I'm repeating myself, but really, think about it. . . isn't that amazing?!)

This is just my personal reflection and not a highly intellectual analysis of the question, but it seems to me that a non-practicing Catholic who continues to claim to be Catholic is indeed Catholic (albeit one who has separated his or herself from Christ and His Church). That we can commit such great offences against the love of God and yet he is always calling us back to Him blows my mind. A Catholic may not practice their Faith for years, or even decades, yet all that time God is calling them back to Him. God's mercy is so great. At any time someone who has rejected His Church can return.

As I noted above, it's easy to get frustrated with non-practicing Catholics who claim to speak as Catholics, and yet, really, our attitude towards them should not be one of frustration but rather of great charity. Love seeks what is best for another. For these people, the best thing for them is to be reconciled to Christ and His Bride, the Church, from which they have fallen away. Therefore, if we are truly treating these people with charity we will allow God to use us as instruments to draw them back to the practice of the Faith through our example, words, and deeds.

For many of us it's easy to pass judgement on non-practicing Catholics. Sometimes their offence against God seems very public and clear. It's easy to fall into the mindset of "Mrs. Jones stopped going to Mass. That poor women is living in mortal sin." But this is not the attitude of mercy and charity God calls us to. We're not to be the judges but rather are to imitate the love of Christ. We can do so by helping these people to see His great love for them in the Sacraments. It's also helpful to remember that no matter how seemingly small or great an offense is against God, any sin is horrific when compared to the charity of God. Rather than judging others who have fallen away from the practice of the faith we should examine our own consciences and realize that we, like them, are sinners who have greatly offended God. We are sinners, yet graced by God. Charity requires us to do what we can (whether it be through prayer, conversation, example, etc...) to draw these Catholics back to the grace we are blessed to receive in the sacraments which God also desires to bestow upon them.

I agree that the statement "once a Catholic, always a Catholic" causes challenges when considered in light of the scandals caused by non-practicing Catholics, particularly high-profile individuals. I think I'll save this one for another day though. Furthermore, like most Catholics, I have friends and family dear to me who are not only not practicing the Catholic Faith but who have clearly rejected Catholicism (and in some cases even God). If I were to propose to these people that they are still Catholic I'm sure it wouldn't go over very well. Neither would it go over very well with Catholics who have left the Church to join another religion. Yet, even with persons such as these we must never give up hope that they will return to Christ and His Church. Pray for them. Pray for them and never give up hope.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Metaphysics Anyone?

I was checking out my courses for the fall semester (which are all courses I'm excited about. . . yay!) on the university website when I noticed that my course with the least enrolled students is a third year philosophy course called Metaphysics of St. Thomas Aquinas. Now, come on people, you all know you want to take metaphysics. I promise, it'll be fun. And if you don't find it "fun" it'll at least be a good work-out for the brain. I have a feeling that it's one of those courses that will make my brain hurt but that will be worth it in the end. Ahhh, yes, the sweet memories of Philosophy of the Human Person last semester. What? Humans have an infinite capacity for knowledge? When you're trying to wrap you're head around readings from Aristotle, Aquinas and Wojtyla it's not so easy to accept that you apparently have an "infinite capacity" to learn this stuff. I felt pretty limited. Ugh. But good "ugh." One of those "ugh, that was tough reading but well worth it."

Anyways, all this to say, if anyone out there reading this blog happens to study where I study (and you know who you are) and has no good reason not to take metaphysics, come join me!

A Beautiful But Challenging Prayer

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, hear me.

From the desire of being esteemed,
deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being loved,
From the desire of being extolled,
From the desire of being honored,
From the desire of being praised,
From the desire of being preferred to others,
From the desire of being consulted,
From the desire of being approved,

From the fear of being humiliated,
deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being despised,
From the fear of suffering rebukes,
From the fear of being calumniated,
From the fear of being forgotten,
From the fear of being ridiculed,
From the fear of being wronged,
From the fear of being suspected,

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I,
That in the opinion of the world,
others may increase, and I may decrease,
That others may be chosen and I set aside,
That others may be praised and I unnoticed,
That others may be preferred to me in everything,
That others may become holier than I,
provided that I may become as holy as I should.

      - Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val

Further to my post. . .

Further to my post yesterday, I came across this quote today in In Conversation with God by Fr. Francis Fernandez (Vol. 4):

"The word commemoration harkens back to the Hebrew word which signifies the Jewsih feast recalling the flight from Egypt and the Covenant made on Mount Sinai. During this feast the Jews not only remember the past event but they continually renew it, generation after generation. When the Lord commands the Apostles, Do this in rememberance of me, he is not just asking them to remember a single moment. He is asking them to renew the sacrifice of Calvary.

The Covenant is renewed each and every day throughout the entire world whenever the Holy Mass is celebrated. The priest performing each Mass re-presents, that is to say, he makes present once again, in a mysterious manner, the same sacrifice which Christ offered on Calvary. The work of our Redemption takes place here and now. It is as if the twenty centuries separating us from Calvary had disappeared. The New Covenant of the Eucharistic Sacrifice becomes especially manifest in the moment of Consecration. It is at this moment that we should make heartfelt acts of faith and love."

Friday, July 28, 2006

The One Book

I wasn't exactly tagged by this meme (I picked it up off Pontifications) but since it's been such a long time since I've done one of these and this one looked like fun, I thought I'd give it a shot.

1. One book that changed your life:
C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

2. One book that you’ve read more than once:
St. Therese of Lisieux, Story of a Soul

3. One book you’d want on a desert island:
The Bible

4. One book that made you laugh:
Stuart Mclean, Home From the Vinyl Cafe

5. One book that made you cry:
Robert Munsch, Je t'aimerai toujours
(a.k.a Love You Forever)

6. One book that you wish had been written:
St. Teresa of Avila, Friendship with God

7. One book that you wish had never been written:
Brian McClaren, A Generous Orthodoxy (I tend to avoid reading bad books since there are so many good ones out there to get through that I don't have time for reading bad books. . . unfortunately, I was forced to read this one for a class that I was taking.)

8. One book you’re currently reading:
St. Alphonsus de Liguori, The Holy Eucharist

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read:
Karol Wojtyla, The Acting Person

And since I'm interested in their answers, I'll tag T.O. and Danny.

'Table' Not 'Altar'

Yesterday as I was helping my grandpa eat lunch (which was a two and a half hour ordeal. . .) I picked up the nearest reading material off the table which happened to be "The Church Herald," a magazine published "serving members of the Reformed Church in America." You see, grandparents I'm spending most of my time with this summer belong to the Reformed Church (they're Northern Irish Protestant. . . my dad's a convert). Anyways, I thought I'd give it a quick skim through. Between an article on drive-in churches where the congregation stays in their cars and watches the services on a large screen and an article on the ongoing discussion of redefining the Reformed Church's position on homosexual marriage, I found a "Question and Answer" section. Since I enjoy reading the Q & A's on EWTN, www.askfather.net, and Catholic Answers, I figured this might be interesting. . . it was.

This question stuck out in particular:

"Q: Why does our pastor avoid using the word altar to describe the communion table?
A: Altars, as we find them described in Scripture, are built for the purpose of making sacrifice to God. Animals were slain on the altars as offerings to God, so it was this model that was picked up by the pre-Reformation Church to describe communion as a re-enactment of the sacrifice of Christ, which made the use of the word altar appropriate.
However, one of the key ingredients in our Reformed understanding of the sacrament is that it is - as it was in the Upper Room - a meal shared around a table. For this reason the pastor presents the sacrament from behind the table, sharing the bread and wine, as well as the prayers and concerns of the congregation. At our Lord's Table the sacrifice of Christ is remembered, but it is not re-enacted. The sacrifice was a once-and-for-all event, sufficient for eternity, in the history of God's relationship with us. When we gather in remembrance, in communion, and in hope at the table, Christ is there with us, not as a sacrifice but as our risen Lord."

Ok. Where do I start. First of all, I obviously have no problem with the Reformed Church referring to the table at their communion services as a table because, well, that's what it is in their context. It's a table. Now, as for this pastor's explanation of communion in the "pre-Reformation Church" and why the Church uses the the word altar, it's not entirely on the mark.

As a simple practising Catholic who has much to learn about the Mass, a few things stood out to me right away. Firstly, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass isn't a "re-enactment" or a re-sacrificing of Christ's perfect sacrifice upon Calvary. At Mass we are witness to the Sacrifice of Calvary. It is that very Sacrifice which is made present on the altar, not a re-enactment. Therefore, the Mass does not contradict this pastor's statement that "The sacrifice was a once-and-for-all event, sufficient for eternity, in the history of God's relationship with us."

Furthermore, with our knowledge that at Mass we witness the singular Sacrifice of Christ upon Calvary we know that our participation in the Mass is more than a meal shared around a table.

Since I'm highly unqualified to be explaining Christ's sacrificial presence in the Mass, I'll turn to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

"[What is this Sacrament Called?] The Holy Sacrifice, because it makes present the one sacrifice of Christ the Savior and includes the Church's offering. The terms holy sacrifice of the Mass, "sacrifice of praise," spiritual sacrifice, pure and holy sacrifice are also used, since it completes and surpasses all the sacrifices of the Old Covenant." (1330)

"In the New Testament, the memorial takes on new meaning. When the Church celebrates the Eucharist, she commemorates Christ's Passover, and it is made present the sacrifice Christ offered once for all on the cross remains ever present. "As often as the sacrifice of the Cross by which 'Christ our Pasch has been sacrificed' is celebrated on the altar, the work of our redemption is carried out."(1364)

"Because it is the memorial of Christ's Passover, the Eucharist is also a sacrifice. the sacrificial character of the Eucharist is manifested in the very words of institution: "This is my body which is given for you" and "This cup which is poured out for you is the New Covenant in my blood." In the Eucharist Christ gives us the very body which he gave up for us on the cross, the very blood which he "poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." (1365)

"The Eucharist is thus a sacrifice because it re-presents (makes present) the sacrifice of the cross, because it is its memorial and because it applies its fruit:
[Christ], our Lord and God, was once and for all to offer himself to God the Father by his death on the altar of the cross, to accomplish there an everlasting redemption. But because his priesthood was not to end with his death, at the Last Supper "on the night when he was betrayed," [he wanted] to leave to his beloved spouse the Church a visible sacrifice (as the nature of man demands) by which the bloody sacrifice which he was to accomplish once for all on the cross would be re-presented, its memory perpetuated until the end of the world, and its salutary power be applied to the forgiveness of the sins we daily commit." (1366)

"The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice: "The victim is one and the same: the same now offers through the ministry of priests, who then offered himself on the cross; only the manner of offering is different." "In this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and is offered in an unbloody manner." (1367)

"The Mass is at the same time, and inseparably, the sacrificial memorial in which the sacrifice of the cross is perpetuated and the sacred banquet of communion with the Lord's body and blood. But the celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice is wholly directed toward the intimate union of the faithful with Christ through communion. To receive communion is to receive Christ himself who has offered himself for us." (1382)

"It is in the Eucharistic cult or in the Eucharistic assembly of the faithful (synaxis) that they [priests] exercise in a supreme degree their sacred office; there, acting in the person of Christ and proclaiming his mystery, they unite the votive offerings of the faithful to the sacrifice of Christ their head, and in the sacrifice of the Mass they make present again and apply, until the coming of the Lord, the unique sacrifice of the New Testament, that namely of Christ offering himself once for all a spotless victim to the Father." From this unique sacrifice their whole priestly ministry draws its strength." (1566)

To better understand the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass it's also well worth taking your time to read paragraphs 1356 to 1381 from the Catechism of the Catholic Church on The Sacramental Sacrifice Thanksgiving, Memorial, Presence.

It's interesting to note that I came across this article on the same afternoon that I began reading The Holy Eucharist by St. Alphonsus de Liguori. I'm only on page 37 but so far it's a fantastic book. He begins the book with a "Short Explanation of the Prayers of Mass" which I'm finding fascinating. Why didn't I ever learn this stuff in catechism class when I was younger? I think that doing a better job of explaining the Mass should be a priority for catechists at all levels. Anyways, although I've just begun reading the book, I'd highly recommend it. Maybe someone out there who has read the whole book could second that recommendation. . .


(This beautiful picture is courtesy of Fr. Tim's blog. . .well, technically courtesy of his brother in-law, Orlando.)

Fr. Tim Finigan over at The Hermeneutic of Continuity is celebrating his 22nd anniversary of the priesthood today. Please keep him and all our priests in your prayers.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Quote of the Day

"Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day's own trouble be sufficient for the day." (Matthew 6:34)

Change of Scene

When I'm away at school it's easy to get to Mass, go to Adoration, pray the rosary, etc. . . where I study I'm blessed to be surrounded by a strong group of Catholic friends who are equally passionate about the Faith and really support one another in living out the Catholic Faith. In addition to this, the Archdiocese I live in has regular events for young adults and many opportunities for us to get together with Catholic friends from different parishes throughout the Archdiocese.

When I'm away at school it's not uncommon to go to Adoration with friends in the middle of the night, go to morning Mass with a handful of my peers, or go for rosary walks with some of my closest girlfriends. While I'm at university I live literally a few houses away from the nearest Catholic church. I live closer to the church than the priest! I can literally role out of bed and be at Mass in three minutes from when I wake-up (ok, so I've tried this a few times. . .). Let's face it, when I'm away at school it's convenient and relatively easy to lead an active spiritual life. I've got friends to pray with, easy access to daily Mass, and a chapel with the Blessed Sacrament in the Catholic college I attend.

That being said, I'm not at school right now. While I'm still able to get to daily Mass (most days) and I've been trying to maintain my prayer life, over the past month I've realized that it takes a lot more effort when I'm away from the supportive community I'm used to, when I'm the only person in my age group at Mass, when I don't have friends around who would love to go to Adoration or pray the rosary with me. At first I felt a bit alone and like a fish out of water moving away for the summer from this supportive environment I'm used to while I'm at school, but then as I perservere in an effort to maintain my spiritual life I realize more and more that maybe it's not such a bad thing. Maybe God's asking me, "Will you be faithful when it's not easy? When it's not convenient?" Maybe God's challenging me to open my eyes to see more clearly the Body of Christ beyond the strong close-knit community I'm used to. Maybe God's asking me, "Are you really in this for the long haul?"

Sure, it's a bit lonely up here in small-town-middle-of-nowhere without my friends and the convenience of living in such proximity to the nearest parish and having access day and night to a chapel with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament but it's alright, I'm not going to complain because I am beginning to see God has a purpose in drawing me out of that setting for the summer. For a few months I'm pretty much on my own here, and while I really appreciate and value the community of faith I have while I'm away at school, I'm starting to see that this might not be a bad thing. . .

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


I haven't had a day off for weeks so I arranged for someone to take care of my grandparents for the day and went out boating with my family. It was a beautiful day out on the water and I didn't get sunburnt too bad (which is a miracle). These are some of the pictures we took today. It was a great day at sea but after twelve hours out on the boat followed by a run tonight I'm pretty exhausted and am heading off to bed.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Hail Mary

"The Hail Mary well said - that is, with attention, devotion, and modesty - is, according to the saints, the enemy of the devil which puts him to flight, and the hammer which crushes him. It is the sanctification of the soul, the joy of the angels, the melody of the predestinate, the canticle of the New Testament, the pleasure of Mary, and the glory of the most Holy Trinity. The Hail Mary is a heavenly dew which fertilizes the soul. It is the chaste and loving kiss which we give to Mary. It is a vermilion rose which we present to her; a precious pearl we offer her; a chalice of divine ambrosial nectar which we proffer to her."
St. Louis de Montfort, True Devotion to Mary, p. 159


I've just discovered another great priestly blog out there. The blog is called Orthometer and it belongs to Fr. Erik Richtsteig from Utah. At the top of his blog it says "Orthometer, n. A device for determining orthodoxy." I hope a measure up.

Wedding Time!

Well, back in the spring I posted about the upcoming ordinations. . . now for some wedding bliss.

Antonia, a fellow Catholic blogger all the way from England is getting married in less than a week. Just reading her blog is making me excited for her. Please pray for her and her fiance as they prepare for this great sacrament.

Monday, July 24, 2006

She's Back!

My sister's back from the Special Olympics National Summer Games, and as you can tell, she did well!

What Does He Require of Us?

He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
Micah 6:8, RSV

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Go Read a Homily

If you're just killing time surfing the Internet right now I highly recommend going and reading Fr. Stephanos' homily for today. His homilies are well worth the read (check them out at One Monk, his other blog).

Because He Still Loves Me

Tonight, like most nights, I went and visited my grandparents who live down the street from us to check in on them, see how their day went, and say goodnight. My Oma had already gone to bed but was still awake so I snuggled in next to her and asked her how she was doing. Her health has really declined over the past few months and she can't really carry on a conversation any more but if you speak to her in German or French (which she speaks more fluently than English) she'll usually interact a bit. Tonight she looked at me as I lay next to her and said "J'ai un bon mari." (I have a good husband). "Oui, c'est vrai," (Yes, it's true.) I agreed. "Il est le meilleur," (He's the best.) my Oma said. "Pourquoi?," (Why?) I asked. "Parce-qu'il m'aime toujours," (Because he still loves me.) was my Oma's answer. She then closed her eyes and went to sleep.

What a simple but beautiful answer she gave me. She may not be able to carry on an extended conversation but sometimes a few words can say alot. If I ever marry, I pray that fifty-four years, four kids, and thirteen grandkids later, when I can barely walk and need help eating I will be able to say with perfect confidence that I have a good husband because he still loves me.

New Theology of the Body Translation

According to the little paragraph at the top of my blog "I'm passionate about the Theology of the Body." This much is true. It is therefore my duty to point out to you that the new translation of the Theology of the Body by Pauline Media has now been released.

John Paul II’s The Theology of the Body remains a masterwork of Catholic teaching — an invaluable guide to understanding the spiritual communion of life, love, marriage, and sexuality. But previous editions of the work were based on individual Italian transcriptions of the 129 catecheses the Pope delivered between 1979 and 1984, resulting in many translation inconsistencies, inadvertent omissions, and intentional edits. While they were theologically true and pedagogically helpful, nevertheless these editions lacked the coherence originally conceived by Cardinal Karol Wojtyla.Pauline Books and Media presents The Theology of the Body: A New Translation Based on the John Paul II Archives, a brand new translation based on a previously unknown version of the text discovered in Vatican Archives by acclaimed biblical scholar Michael M. Waldstein, Th.D. Now, for the first time in 22 years, the true beauty of The Theology of the Body can be appreciated.

Something else to add to my "wishlist".

Free Will and Discernment

LAMLand has a good post up on Free Will and Discernment. She (along with Peter Kreeft) makes a good point that following God's will doesn't mean that He's going to take over your free will.

Prayer and Penance

This is just a friendly reminder for the Faithful who read my blog that Pope Benedict XVI has asked that today be a day of prayer and penance for peace in the Middle East, particularly in relation to the ongoing conflict between Lebanon and Israel. Our God is greater than any war or conflict. Pray for peace with great faith and trust in the Lord.

Faced with worsening situation in the Middle East, the Holy See Press Office has been directed to communicate the following:The Holy Father is following with great concern the destinies of all the peoples involved and has proclaimed this Sunday, July 23, as a special day of prayer and penance, inviting the pastors and faithful of all the particular Churches, and all believers of the world, to implore from God the precious gift of peace.In particular, the Supreme Pontiff hopes that prayers will be raised to the Lord for an immediate cease-fire between the sides, for humanitarian corridors to be opened in order to bring help to the suffering peoples, and for reasonable and responsible negotiations to begin to put an end to objective situations of injustice that exist in that region; as already indicated by Pope Benedict XVI at the Angelus last Sunday, July 16.In reality, the Lebanese have the right to see the integrity and sovereignty of their country respected, the Israelis the right to live in peace in their State, and the Palestinians have the right to have their own free and sovereign homeland.At this sorrowful moment, His Holiness also makes an appeal to charitable organizations to help all the people struck by this pitiless conflict.
Vatican Information Service 20 July 2006

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Cohabitation Ends in Separation

I'm not surprised by this.

It reminds me of a conversation I had with someone several months ago. I ran into a friend from highschool I hadn't seen for several years. We were going to the same place so I offered her a ride and as we were driving we were filling each other in on life in "the real world" now that we'd both moved out of town and gone off to university. She told me she'd just broken up with her boyfriend she'd been living with for three years and she looked at me and said "You know what? I'm twenty and I feel like I'm divorced." I think that pretty much sums it up.

Good Clean Fun

A little boy was listening to a long and excessively boring sermon in church. Suddenly his eye the red sanctuary lamp caught his eye. Tugging his father's sleeve, he said, "Daddy, when the light turns green can we go?"

"Family Planning" and Biology

Ugh... the Biology course I'm working on right now is called "Humans in the Ecosystem" and as a part of this course I had to read an entire chapter on "The Problems of Overpopulation and Reducing the Total Fertility Rate." Really, by the end of it I was so upset.

Here's just one quote of many that made me mad:

"Family planning services do not try to force people to limit their family sizes but rather attempt to convince people that small families (and the contraceptives that promote small families) are acceptable and desirable."

Please, please, can I write a Theology of the Body paper for this course? A sentence like that is just asking for it. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that the professor for this course which I'm taking through distance education from a secular university probably doesn't have a Theology of the Body paper in mind in terms of the essay assignment for this unit.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Beloved Pope John Paul II

I was sorting through some pictures on my parents computer tonight when I found this one. It is a picture I took of our beloved Holy Father Pope John Paul II when I was in Rome for Holy Week and Easter in 2004. This picture was taken at the Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum on Good Friday. I personally found this to be one of the highlight's of Holy Week in Rome (other than Easter obviously!) since the crowd wasn't as large as at the other liturgies. It seemed that everyone was very solemn and prayerful at the Stations of the Cross. You had the feeling that every person there was there for the same reason and that it wasn't just a crowd of tourists. It seemed that almost a third of the people at the Stations of the Cross were either wearing cassocks or religious habits, that was a big clue that it wasn't your average crowd of tourists.

It was a real blessing to be in Rome for Easter in 2004, particularly as it turned out to be the last Easter in which Pope John Paul II would actively participate in the liturgies. Coming across this picture made me miss even more this holy man who has had such a huge impact on my life. I take comfort in knowing that he is still actively shaping me through the writings and teachings he left behind, and probably even more through his intercession.

Amazon Suggestions

For those of you who order from Amazon, have you ever noticed their little personalized suggestion books that show up at the top of the page when you log in? It seems like a good strategy. I've got to agree that I like the books they suggest for me. The thing is, often they're books I already own! For instance, today they suggested to me The Navarre Bible: New Testament, The Catechism of the Catholic Church, and In Conversation With God. All three of these suggestions are already sitting on my bookshelf. In fact, all of them are books that I refer to frequently.

On a day like today. . .

It's been a long time since I've written one of those "I'm procrastinating" posts. Well, as I sit here on a beautiful sunny gorgeous warm summer day trying to write an essay on energy and matter pathways in the biosphere (don't ask me. . .I'm clueless. . .) for a correspondence Biology course I can think of a few other things I'd rather be doing. How about going to the beach for instance. I'm literally a two minute walk from the beach right now. But nope, I'm stuck in my grandparents basement trying to figure out Biology instead. If you're thinking to yourself, "Why is she taking a Biology course?" you're not the only one. I'm asking myself the same question. You see, my university requires everyone, regardless of your major, to take certain "core requirements." The point is to give you a well rounded education in a variety of disciplines in addition to your major. It sounds like a good idea. Until you have someone like me who would prefer to study Literature and Theology trying to figure out sciences. I decided to do it correspondence because at least this way I don't have to face it in the Fall. Now, that strategy only works if I actually sit down and do the work during the summer. Considering it's almost the end of July and I haven't completed a single one of the four assignments nor started on the major project for the course I don't have high hopes of getting it done before September. Unless I really get motivated at some point. At some point soon.

Nice Surprise

When you think you've got $54 in the bank to last you to the end of the summer it's a nice surprise to check online and find unexpectedly that one of your significant scholarships has been deposited directly into your bank account. Thank-you! I wasn't worried I was going to starve since I'm living at home for the summer but I was going to run out of gas money pretty quick. I'm sure other students out there can relate.

UPDATE: Never mind. I just got an e-mail from my university saying that my payment for the Fall semester is due by August 4th. That pretty much brings me back down to an empty bank account. Ah, the joys of being a student.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Young People Needing to be Encouraged?

Survey Says Budding Vocations Need Support
One in 10 Youths Feel Call; Forget it Within Months

ROME, JULY 20, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Lack of support seems to be one of the main reasons why young people do not answer the call to consecrated life.

On Tuesday, the Italian newspaper Avvenire published an article entitled "Young People and Vocations," based on a survey, conducted by the Italian institute Eurisko, of one thousand young people between 16 to 29 years of age.

The study showed that 10 youths out of 100 feel at some point a call to the priesthood or religious life (male and female), but the majority abandon the idea after a few months.

Among the reasons for so many failed vocations is that 71% of young people said they had no friends who had the desire to consecrate themselves to the Lord.

Twenty-nine percent felt called after a personal experience, such as a visit to a monastery, a pilgrimage or a spiritual retreat.

Avvenire lamented that the data reflected the fact that abandonment of the call was followed above all by "the abandonment suffered by young people."

Another reason for failed vocations is that young people feel they must give up too many things, for example, marriage, to which is added the fear of loneliness.

The Italian newspaper highlighted young people's need for someone to support them, as a recent study of the survey revealed that 70% of the young people interviewed could not mention a man or a woman who represented a point of intellectual reference.

Thus, the newspaper concluded, "There is a crisis of vocations also because there is a crisis of credible guides."

Just to Let You Know

Pope Calls for Penance, Prayer This Sunday
For Immediate Cease-fire in Middle East

VATICAN CITY, JULY 20, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Given the escalation of violence, Benedict XVI has named Sunday as a day of prayer and penance for peace in the Middle East.

A communiqué issued today by the Vatican press office said the decision was due to the "great concern" with which the Holy Father follows "the fate of all the affected peoples."

With this initiative, the Pope invites "the pastors and faithful of all the particular Churches, and all believers of the world, to implore from God the precious gift of peace," explained the Vatican communiqué.

In particular, the Bishop of Rome appeals for prayer to the Lord "for an immediate cease-fire between the sides, for humanitarian corridors to be opened in order to bring help to the suffering peoples and for reasonable and responsible negotiations to begin to put an end to objective situations of injustice that exist in that region."

According to the Pontiff, "the Lebanese have the right to see the integrity and sovereignty of their country respected, the Israelis, the right to live in peace in their state, and the Palestinians have the right to have their own free and sovereign homeland."

The communiqué ends with Benedict XVI's appeal "to charitable organizations to help all the people struck by this pitiless conflict."

Front Page News

"Michelle Lynch was one of hundreds of people in fantasy garb at last weekend's Diversity Festival. Shingle Beach and surrounding campsites were filled with fairies, sprites, angels, demons, DJs, musicians and vendors for the fourth annual event. The total fire ban was lifted for the area, allowing a beach bonfire and fire spinning displays."

This picture took up half the frong page of our local community newspaper yesterday. Ummmm... maybe I should stay inside after dark.

Rosary Walks

See, the Holy Father takes rosary walks with his closest friends too! :-) I knew that I'm not the only one who thinks that rosary walks with friends is a great way to spend time. This post is especially for a special friend who goes on rosary walks with me almost every night during the school year. I'm praying for you!

LAMLand's Top Ten Clues

Inspired by my own Top Ten Clues that the Family Living in this House is Catholic, LAMLand has gone ahead and made her own Top Ten Additional Clues that the Person Living in this Apartment is Catholic. I personally like her number 9. and would love to get my hands on one of those pins.

What further evidence is there out in St.Blog's of Catholic identity in places of residence?

Story Time

Well, today is yet another day with the grandparents. One thing I've found to be a real blessing this summer is that every day I get to hear new family stories. As the youngest in my family (and the youngest grandchild) it's really special to hear the many stories about when my older siblings and cousins were younger and the trouble/adventures they got in to.

Please pray for my grandfather. He is becoming increasingly weak.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Question of the Day

How do you discern between your will and the will of God? How do you know when they are the same, when they differ, and when they differ, which is which?

Be generous. . .!

"Be generous in giving your life to the Lord. Do not be afraid! You have nothing to fear, because God is the Lord of history and of the universe. Let grow in you the desire for great and noble projects. Nourish a sense of solidarity: these are the signs of the divine action in your hearts. Place at the use of your communities the talents which Providence has lavished on you. The more ready you are to give yourselves to God and to others, the more you will discover the authentic meaning of life. God expects much of you!"
- Pope John Paul II in the Message for
World Day of Prayer for Vocations, 1996

Pope John Paul II on Truth

"Be faithful to the truth and to its transmission, for truth endures; truth will not go away. Truth will not pass or change."
- Message to U.N. Journalists, 1979

Pope John Paul II on Mercy

"Mercy in itself, as a perfection of the infinite God, is also infinite. Also infinite therefore and inexhaustible is the Father's readiness to receive teh prodigal children who return to his home. Infinite are the readiness and power of forgiveness which flow continually from the marvelous value of the sacrifice of the Son. No human sin can prevail over this power or even limit it. On the part of man only a lack of good will can limit it, a lack of readiness to be converted and to repent, in other words persistence in obstinacy, opposing grace and truth, especially in the face of the witness of the Cross and Resurrection of Christ." Dives in Misericordia, 13.

Cookie Monster

I seem to have been bitten by the cookie monster bug and have been baking cookies for the past few days. The ironic thing is that I don't particularly like sweets and I definitely don't like chocolate. I've been giving the cookies away to worthy causes (grandparents, priests, large families, etc. . .). If you lived in my area you would be eligible to receive cookies. . . unfortunately postage is too expensive for me to start mailing them out. I'm running out of people to give cookies to but I still feel like baking.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Special Olympics Nationals

My older sister is away this week competing at the Special Olympics National Summer Games in Brandon, Manitoba as an athlete on Team BC. She is a swimmer and will be participating in several events throughout the next few days.

Special Olympics Canada is a non-profit organization "dedicated to enriching the lives of Canadians with an intellectual disability through sport." It provides sport training and competition opportunities for 31,000 athletes of all ages and abilities. Special Olympics Canada seeks to enrich "the lives of Canadians with an intellectual disability through sport." I volunteer as a coach for the Special Olympics swimming program down in the city where I go to school. I first got involved in the program in my hometown when my sister started swimming with Special Olympics.

Over the past year I have been encouraged in many ways by watching my sister prepare to participate in the National Summer Games. When she was told almost a year ago that she had qualified to be a member of Team BC she was extremely excited. She hasn't stopped being excited about it since. Yesterday, when I dropped her off at the airport she was quite literally bouncing up and down and had the biggest grin on her face.

Living with a disability is never easy. Through sharing in my sister's life I've particularly had the opportunity to see what it is like to live with an intellectual disability when you know that you have a disability that makes you different from others, unable to interact in the same way as your peers, and yet you just want to be a normal kid, adolescent, or young adult. My sister has taught me many lessons in life. She has shown me great courage and demonstrated determination, drive and focus in the face of great adversity. She has taught me not to take the little things in life for granted. She is one of those rare people in life who I know will always be there for me and freely expresses her unconditional love for me. She has a tendency to speak the truth bluntly, with little concern for political correctness, which is refreshing, and she often reminds me not to take for granted the gifts, skills, and opportunities God has given me. Among her unique gifts she has an amazing memory (which is great for me, considering I'm the kind of person who looses everything!).

Through her participation in the Special Olympics program I have seen her grow in self-knowledge and confidence. This is really important for someone with an intellectual disability. She is truly proud to be representing our province at the national competitions and rightly so. She has worked hard to get a place on the team. She has been really focused in preparing for the National Summer Games. She's definitely can swim faster than I can right now, although I swam competitively when I was younger. It brings me great joy to know how excited she is to be participating in the National Summer Games and I'm proud of her for how hard she has worked to get there.

I know that she will have a lot of fun at the competition and no matter how she does in her races, it's an achievement to have made it that far. When she left I told her that what was most important wasn't how she places in the races but that she has fun and swims her personal best. I'm sure she will.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Beautiful Evening

What a beautiful evening! After leaving my grandparents this evening I came home and had a nice long bath. I then went out to deliver some of the cookies I had made earlier to my goddaughter's family. She's a little young yet to be eating cookies, but her siblings seemed most grateful (at least judging by how many cookies they ate!). I hung out with them for a couple hours, playing with the kids in the backyard, changing poopy diapers, and just joining in on good ol' family fun. I ended up on the couch reading The Velveteen Rabbit to the three oldest kids. . . by the end of the story the three year old had fallen asleep snuggled up next to me. As always, it was a real blessing to spend time with them. Once everyone was tucked in to bed I snuck out myself and headed home. On my way home though I decided to stop by the beach to catch the end of the sunset. I ended up praying the rosary sitting on a log on the beach, watching the sun set over the ocean, mountains, and dozens of small islands nearby.

Thanks be to God for beautiful days such as today full of many simple blessings!

Cookies! Yummy!

I was in a baking mode this morning so I made six dozen of these cookies (I doubled the recipe). I stuck a couple dozen in my grandparents freezer, I'm bringing another couple dozen to a large family I know, and I dropped off a dozen with a card at the rectory for our new assistant pastor who just got here a few days ago.

The cookies turned out great and tasted yummy. I got them out of health cookbook my mom had on her shelf (I guess the brown flour and the oatmeal qualify them as 'healthy') but don't let that scare you, they taste good.

Oatmeal Cookies

1 c. (165 g) raisins
1 c. (327 g) water
3/4 (164 g.) oil
3/4 to 1 c. (136 g to 181 g) packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 t (4.8 g) vanilla extract
2 1/2 c. (300 g) whole wheat flour
1 t. (3g) baking soda
1 t. (5.5 g) salt
1 t. (2.27 g) cinnamon
1/2 t. (1.5 g) baking powder
1/2 t. (1.1 g) ground cloves
2 c. (162 g) rolled oats
1/2 c. (59.5 g) chopped pecans

Combine raisins and water in saucepan. Simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes or until raisins plump, stirring occasionally. Drain, reserving liquid. Add enough water to reserved liquid to measure 1/2 c. (118.5 g). Combine oil, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla in bowl; mix well. Add reserved liquid; mix well. Stir in flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, baking powder, cloves, oats, pecans and raisins. Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 400 F (200 C) for 8 to 10 minutes or until brown. Remove to wire rack to cool. May substitute 3/4 to 1 c. honey for brown sugar. Yield: 78 servings.

Ok, so, supposedly it yields 78 servings for a single recipe but those must be pretty small cookies then. I doubled the recipe and ended up with about six dozen cookies. I also skipped the whole raisin thing because, well, first of all, not everyone likes raisins, and secondly, it just sounded like unecessary work to me. I substituted the raisins for chocolate chips. Much better.

Prayer to Our Lady of Mount Carmel

O Most beautiful flower of Mount Carmel, fruitful vine, splendor of Heaven, Blessed Mother of the Son of God, Immaculate Virgin, assist me in this my necessity. O Star of the Sea, help me and show me herein You are my Mother.

O Holy Mary, Mother of God, Queen of HEaven and Earth, I humbly beseech You from the bottom of my heart to succor me in this necessity. There are none that can withstand Your power.

O show me herein You are my Mother. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee.

O show me herein You are my Mother. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee.

O show me herein You are my Mother. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee. Sweet Mother, I place this cause in Your hands.

Sweet Mother, I place this cause in Your hands. Sweet Mother, I place this cause in Your hands.


Sunday, July 16, 2006

O Baby!

Just because she's so cute, here's a picture I took of my goddaughter last night. In case you're curious, she's the baby I'm holding in my profile picture.

Papa Plays Piano!

Blessing Generator

I can see this as being very useful for ecumenical dialogue meetings and inter-faith conferences. Thanks for the suggestion Fr. Finigan.

Love for the Priesthood

"Our Lord, who is present among us in many ways, is so particularly in the person of the priest. Every priest is a great gift of God to the world. He is Jesus who goes about doing good; he cures illnesses, he brings peace and joy to men's minds; he is the living instrument of Christ in the world. He offers Our Lord his voice, his hands, his whole being. At Mass, he renews in persona Christi the redemptive Sacrifice of Calvary itself. He makes Christ's Redemption present and effective within history. Pope John Paul II reminded the clergy of Brazil that Jesus identifies himself with us in such a way in carrying out the powers he conferred upon us, that it is as if our personality disappears before his, since it is He himself who acts through us. It is Christ who changes the substance of bread and wine into his Body and Blood at Mass. And it is Jesus himself who, in the sacrament of Penance, utters the authoritative and fatherly words 'your sins are forgiven.' It is He who speaks when the preist, carrying out his ministry in the name and in the spirit of the Church, announces the Word of God. It is Christ himself who cares for the sick, for children and sinners, when he enfolds them with the love and pastoral care of the sacred ministries. A priest is of more value to mankind than the entire material universe. We must pray constantly for the holiness of priests, helping them and sustaining them with our prayer and our affection. We must see Christ himself in them."
- Fr. Francis Fernandez, In Conversation with God, Vol. 4.
Mary, Queen of Clergy, pray for them!

Saturday, July 15, 2006


I picked 11 litres of rasberries in my grandparents garden today. I gave some away and froze most of them but I still have a lot of rasberries. Does anyone out there have any favourite recipes they'd care to share?

False Prudence

"Prudence would not be true prudence if, having given due consideration to the facts, it chose the cowardly way of not making a decision that involved risk, or caused us to avoid facing up squarely to a problem. The attitude of the person who allows himself to be led by human respect in the apostolate and lets opportunities slip, while he waits for other opportunities that may never arise, is not a prudent attitude. Saint Paul calls this false virtue prudence of the flesh. It is a false virtue that asks for more reasons and considerations before giving God what He asks of us personally. It is what causes us to worry excessively about the future, and gives us a reason for not being generous here and now. It is what always makes us find some excuse for not deciding to commit ourselves fully."
(Francis Fernandez, In Conversation with God, Vol. 4.)

Friday, July 14, 2006

Top Ten Clues

I spent the first part of this past week quarantined at home with the flu. Once I was starting to feel better I also started to get bored. Lying in bed can be boring after a few days. That's when I came up with the idea for this post.

Top Ten Clues that the Family
Living in this House is Catholic

1. There is a holy card of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Child next to a recipe for Strawberry Scones above the kitchen sink.

2. There are dead palms on the wall. Palms from Palm Sunday. These must not necessarily be, although frequently are, tucked behind a crucifix.

3. You find several hymnals and a missal stacked on top of the piano. Note the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Child on the above shelf.

4. You open the cupboard to pull out the bread mixer, and lo and behold, you also discover a bottle of holy water. Always have holy water on hand. In case you're wondering, no, the residents of this household do not bake with holy water.

5. Is that a bowl of candy sitting on the coffee table? Nope, a bowl of rosaries.

6. When you find a crucifix in almost every room in the house and above every bedroom door, that's usually a pretty big hint.

7. When you find holy cards of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary in the bathroom, that's a really really big clue.

8. A pile such as this which includes holy cards of saints and funeral cards along with a little prayer book provides further evidence.

9. When a glance at a random bookshelf and finds you looking at books like these, chances are they're Catholic. If you take a closer look at the bookshelves around the house you'll obviously also find several bibles, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, along with many classics written by the saints.

10. When the above evidence has been carefully considered, when upon examining the artwork present in the house one finds several icons, that is also a very important clue.

Upon careful consideration of the above listed evidence, I have come to the conclusion that those residing within the house in which these pictures were taken are Catholics. This is not an exhaustive list of all the potential evidence of Catholicism that one may find in a family home but these clues do lead me to conclude, beyond any reasonable doubt, that this particular family home is indeed belonging to a Catholic family.

West Coast Scenes

These are some pictures I took around here over the past few weeks that I finally downloaded tonight. I'd thought I'd share with you the beauty and majesty of God's creation that surrounds me.

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha

"Known as the "Lily of the Mohawks", and the "Genevieve of New France" an Indian virgin of the Mohawk tribe, born according to some authorities at the Turtle Castle of Ossernenon, according to others at the village of Gandaouge, in 1656; died at Caughnawaga, Canada, 17 April, 1680.
Her mother was a Christian Algonquin who had been captured by the Iroquois and saved from a captive's fate by the father of Tekakwitha, to whom she also bore a son. When Tekakwitha was about four years old, her parents and brother died of small-pox, and the child was adopted by her aunts and an uncle who had become chief of the Turtle clan. Although small-pox had marked her face and seriously impaired her eyesight and her manner was reserved and shrinking, her aunts began when she was yet very young to form marriage projects for her, from which, as she grew older, she shrank with great aversion.

In 1667 the Jesuit missionaries Fremin, Bruyas, and Pierron, accompanying the Mohawk deputies who had been to Quebec to conclude peace with the French, spent three days in the lodge of Tekakwitha's uncle. From them she received her first knowledge of Christianity, but although she forthwith eagerly accepted it in her heart she did not at that time ask to be baptized. Some time later the Turtle clan moved to the north bank of the Mohawk River, the "castle" being built above what is now the town of Fonda. Here in the midst of scenes of carnage, debauchery, and idolatrous frency Tekakwitha lived a life of remarkable virtue, at heart not only a Christian but a Christian virgin, for she firmly and often, with great risk to herself, resisted all efforts to induce her to marry.

When she was eighteen, Father Jacques de Lamberville arrived to take charge of the mission which included the Turtle clan, and from him, at her earnest request, Tekakwitha received baptism. Thenceforth she practised her religion unflinchingly in the face of almost unbearable opposition, till finally her uncle's lodge ceased to be a place of protection to her and she was assisted by some Christian Indians to escape to Caughnawaga on the St. Laurence. Here she lived in the cabin of Anastasia Tegonhatsihonga, a Christian Indian woman, her extraordinary sanctity impressing not only her own people but the French and the missionaries. Her mortifications were extreme, and Chauchtiere says that she had attained the most perfect union with God in prayer.

Upon her death devotion to her began immediately to be manifested by her people. Many pilgrims visit her grave in Caughnawaga where a monument to her memory was erected by the Rev. Clarence Walworth in 1884; and Councils of Baltimore and Quebec have petitioned for her canonization. On 22 June 1980, she was beatified by Pope John Paul II; her feast day is celebrated on 14 July." (Source)

That darn question. . .

Over these past few week I've discovered my number one Pet Peeve of being back in my hometown for the summer. For some background, it's a small('ish) very rural town. I was born and raised here until I left for university. My parents were raised here. All four of my grandparents live here. In other words, everywhere I go I run into people I know or at least people who know me (through my parents or grandparents). The following conversation takes place on almost a daily basis:

Random Person: "Hi! How's it going? I haven't seen you for a long time. What have you been up to?"

Me: "It's going well. I've been away at school."

Random Person: "Oh, where are you studying?"

Me: "(insert university name)"

Random Person: "What are you taking there?"

Me: "I'm doing a double major in Christianity & Culture and Modern Languages." [To which I then get an puzzled look and I go on to explain. . .] "It's essentially Theology and Foreign Literature, concentrating on French and Spanish Literature." [To which I then sometimes have to add an even further explanation as to what Theology is.]

Random Person: "Oh, and what do you plan on doing with that?"

Me: "I have absolutely no idea."

Ah yes, I have absolutely no idea. Many options, but no real idea. Every day I run into people at the grocery store, at church, or going for the walk at the beach who ask me this dreaded question "What do you plan on doing with that?" and every day I have to admit that I'm clueless. That's ok though? Right? Right? God knows. Phew. See, God's just helping me work on this whole trust thing. It's really quite humbling actually to have to admit that you have no idea where you're heading.

Ah well. Recently I've been thinking a lot about discerning God's will and all that jazz and have surrendered myself to the fact that what's most important is that I follow God's will each day in the present moment and that if I'm doing this He'll eventually sort out my future for me. See, if I ask "What does God want of me today?" and then I do that, then that will put me where He wants me to be tomorrow. I don't know if I'm making any sense at all and maybe this is just random rambling on my part but I sincerely trust that if I am living in God's will in the present moment then I don't need to worry too much about the future. I think sometimes we get so preoccupied asking trying to discern what God is asking of us in the future that we forget He has a plan for us in the present moment.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Friend Visits Benedictines

A "real life" friend of mine recently returned from spending a week with the Benedictine sisters at the Abbey of St. Walburga in Colorado. She just discovered my blog today, which meant that I in turn discovered her blog, Confessions of a Young Catholic (can you tell we're friends? hehehehe). On her blog she'd posted about her time spent with the sisters, outlining a typical day for her with the Benedictines. So, if you're thinking about going to visit the Abbey of St. Walburga in Colorado this is apparently what's in store for you. It doesn't sound too painful does it? Well, besides the 4:20am wake-up call!

I'm sick.

I've spent the past three days in bed with the flu. Ugh... I'm so sick. Getting all four of your wisdom teeth out and then having the flu all within one week is no fun. I'm still alive but definitely not feeling too great right now. I have a poster of La Pieta in my room and I've been looking at it as I've been lying in bed feeling sick and thinking to myself "Yeah, I'm definitely a wimp." I'm going back to bed now.

Friday, July 07, 2006


I'm doing alright with my recovery. Still not eating anything that needs to be even remotely chewed because I don't even want to deal with the holes in the back of my mouth. I had watered down apple sauce last night and my mom has been making me peanut butter, banana, and milk shakes for protein. I've also been trying out some organic veggie/fruit drinks to get some vitamines. I'm following the dentist's directions for recovery down to every little detail because I don't want to get any infections. I hate rinsing my mouth with warm salt water but I'll do whatever it takes. I'm back to caring for my grandparents today, this is earlier than expected because my recovery is going well and so far today we haven't had any problems. I'm able to talk and open my mouth (but don't make me laugh or smile, that hurts) and the swelling isn't as bad as I thought it would be. My only complaint is that when you can't chew at all it makes for a pretty extreme diet (juice and watered down applesauce. . . I might try some soup stock later today. . .).

I'm doing well though. As a friend told me in an e-mail she sent today, "don't worry, St. Maria Goretti will take good care of you (and of course our little lady Mary and the big Guy too!)"

Thursday, July 06, 2006


A personal friend of mine and seminarian for the archdiocese in which I live has recently revived a blog he started back in 2004 called VanCatholic. He is the seminarian behind the Christ the King Seminary Vocations Promo Video which has been growing in popularity and fame around St.Blog's over the past few weeks.

Dave resurrected his blog with an interesting post on the Communion of Saints, particularly in relation to the community of St.Blog's.

National Catholic Register

Earlier this past week the kind sisters over at Moniales OP pointed out to me that my blog had been mentioned in an article called "Young, Catholic and Connected" in this past week's Arts and Culture section of the National Catholic Register. I was a bit surprised by this considering my blog doesn't exactly have a high volume of visitors. Nonetheless, I'm quite honoured. I just tracked down the article today on Totus Pius, another young Catholic blog it mentions.

Prayers to St. Maria Goretti

In honour of her feast day, here are some prayers to St. Maria Goretti:

Prayer to St. Maria Goretti
Charming Saint Maria, and true child of Mary the Mother of Jesus, you were so young but already so strong in resisting a cruel tempter and preferring to die a martyr. How Greatly we need today - when chastity is often discarded - more modles and intercessors like you! Multiply faithful Children of Mary for her glory and that of her Son. Amen.

Prayer to St. Maria Goretti
St. Maria Goretti, strengthened by God's grace, you did not hesitate, even at the age of eleven, to sacrifice life itself to defend your virginal purity. Look graciously on the unhappy human race that has strayed far from the path of eternal salvation. Teach us all, and especially our youth, the courage and the promptness that will help us avoid anything that could offend Jesus. Obtain for me a great horror of sin, so that I may live a holy life on earth and win eternal glory in heaven. Amen.

Prayer Before a Dance
Dear Saint Maria Goretti! The world teaches that we must please others in order to be popular. Conscience demands that I please God more than one who asks an evil thing in the name of false love. Teach me by your example to instill into others a real respect for modesty and purity. Through your powerful intercession, help me to make of this evening an occasion for helping others to become spiritually stronger. Grant that others may see in me reason to change their ways, if that be necessary, and that I may have the courage to resist any temptation to sinful conduct. Let others be led closer to Jesus and Mary by my example. Oh Little Saint who wanted to be popular only with your Divine Master and His Blessed Mother, help me to imitate you. Amen.

Prayer Before a Date
Dear Little Saint Maria Goretti! Teach me that God must be my first love and that all other love is based on Him and Him alone. Obtain for me the grace to cease toying with the occasions of sin and to remember that my body and the bodies of all in grace are temples of the Holy Spirit, destined someday for a glorious resurrection. Through your beautiful example teach me the value and dignity of Christian modesty. Grant that I may never be the occasion of dragging others into Hell, by suggestive words or evil deeds of any kind. Through the merits of your Martyrdom, obtain for me the grace to turn aside from sin, no matter what the cost, so that one day I may enjoy Heaven with you and all the other saints. Amen.

Official Prayer to St. Maria Goretti
Oh Saint Maria Goretti who, strengthened by God's grace, did not hesitate even at the age of twelve to shed your blood and sacrifice life itself to defend your virginal purity, look graciously on the unhappy human race which has strayed far from the path of eternal salvation. Teach us all, and especially youth, with what courage and promptitude we should flee for the love of Jesus anything that could offend Him or stain our souls with sin. Obtain for us from our Lord victory in temptation, comfort in the sorrows of life, and the grace which we earnestly beg of thee (here insert intention), and may we one day enjoy with thee the imperishable glory of Heaven. Amen.

Prayer to St. Maria Goretti for Those Suffering from Abuse
Dear God, we ask you to help all those who suffer from abuse. Help them find healing and peace in their life. May Maria Goretti who was strengthened by Your Grace join with us in prayer for healing of all victims of abuse, particularly those abused as children or young adults. Grant us your Love that we might reach out to them in Your Name with hope in times of trial. As Maria prayed for her attacker, grant us the grace to pray for the true conversion of all involved with the abuse: that they might seek Your Mercy through prayer and penance. Loving God, pour into our hearts and lives your healing Spirit, that the sacredness of every human person might be respected and protected as the precious image of God. Help us to live in the peace which Maria Goretti had found in Christ and in the love of his mother Mary. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayer to St. Maria Goretti for Survivors of Abuse
Dear God, we ask you to help us find healing and peace in our life. Grant us hope in these times of trial. May Maria Goretti who was strengthened by Your Grace join with us in prayer for healing of all victims of abuse, particularly those abused as children or young adults. Fill us with your Love so that as Maria prayed for her attacker, we too might have the courage to pray for the true conversion of our abusers: that they might seek Your Mercy through prayer and penance. Loving God, pour into our hearts and lives your healing Spirit, that the sacredness of every human person might be respected and protected as the precious image of God. Help us to live in the peace which Maria Goretti had found in Christ and in the love of his mother Mary. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayer to Saint Maria Goretti
Heroic and angelic Saint Maria Goretti, we kneel before you to honor your persevering 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 kneel humbly in Holy Penance; and with the absolution of the priest may the torrent 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. Amen.

St. Maria Goretti

Today is the feast day of my confirmation patron saint,
St. Maria Goretti.

It is well known how this young girl had to face a bitter struggle with no way to defend herself. Without warning a vicious stranger burst upon her, bent on raping her and destroying her childlike purity. In that moment of crisis she could have spoken to her Redeemer in the words of that classic, The Imitation of Christ: "Though tested and plagued by a host of misfortunes, I have no fear so long as your grace is with me. It is my strength, stronger than any adversary; it helps me and give me guidance." With splendid courage she surrendered herself to God and his grace and so gave her life to protect her virginity.

The life of a simple girl - I shall concern myself only with highlights - we can see as worthy of heaven. Even today people can look upon it with admiration and respect. Parents can learn from her story how to raise their God-given children in virtue, courage, and holiness; they can learn to train them in the Catholic faith so that, when put to the test, God's grace will support them and they will come through undefeated, unscathed, and untarnished.

From Maria's story carefree children and young people with their zest for life can learn not to be led astray by attractive pleasures which are not only ephemeral and empty but also sinful. Instead they can fix their sights on achieving Christian moral perfection, however difficult that course may prove. With determination and God's help all of us can attain that goal by persistent effort and prayer.

Not all of us are expected to die a martyr's death, but we are all called to the pursuit of Christian virtue.

So let us all, with God's grace, strive to reach the goal that the example of the virgin martyr, Saint Maria Goretti, sets before us. Through her prayers to the Redeemer may all of us, each in his own way, joyfully try to follow the inspiring example of Maria Goretti who now enjoys eternal happiness in heaven.

from a homily by Venerable Pope Pius XII at the canonization of Saint Maria Goretti.

When I originally chose St. Maria Goretti as my patroness for confirmation I did so somewhat naively, based on the fact that she was martyred at the age as I was being confirmed. I was also attracted to her purity, simplicity, and uncompromising love of God.

Over these past few years though, as my own faith has slowly matured, my appreciation for and devotion to St. Maria Goretti has also developed. St. Maria Goretti has increasingly become for me a model of extraordinary virtue and holiness, as well as a dear friend. Recently I have been developing a growing relationship and friendship with this special saint.

As a young woman, St. Maria Goretti is obviously a model for me of chastity, purity, and modesty. She helps me to open my eyes to the true beauty of holiness. She reminds me that there is no room for compromise when it comes to obeying God's commands. She models for me what it is to live with a clearly formed and sensitive conscience.

St. Maria Goretti is also a great model of love. First and foremost is her love of God, which she clearly shared with her friends and family. Her yearning for Christ in the Blessed Sacrament reminds me never to take a single Mass for granted. Her faithful obedience to God reminds me to always be attentive to His will above my own. Her self-sacrificial love for her family, particularly for her mother and siblings, reminds me to move beyond mere words of affection to practical acts of charity towards my own family. She is a model of selflessness and an imitation of the love of the Suffering Servant.

St. Maria Goretti's commitment to learn study the Faith in preparation for her First Communion, though she could neither read nor write, remind me never to take for granted the many opportunities I have been given to formally study the Faith. Furthermore, her simplicity reminds me that although I have been given the opportunity to read many books and study theology at the university level, this knowledge of the Faith is worthless unless it is first and always rooted in a sincere love of God.

Moreover, St. Maria Goretti's simple faith of a child reminds me that unless we become like little children we shall not enter into the kingdom of God. Her pure and simple love of God and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary remind me to hold firm to the foundations of the Faith.

St. Maria Goretti is also a great model of courage as she faced her own martyrdom with humble confidence in God. This example helps me to carry the crosses, sufferings, trials, and burdens of my own life trusting in God and praying for the grace of the same courage exemplified by my patron saint. Furthermore, her sincere forgiveness for her murderer as she lay lying on her death bed and her apparent intercession on his behalf from heaven remind me that the love of God for those who may sin against me is always greater than any pain that has been caused to me and that I am called to share this love with them through forgiveness.

St. Maria Goretti is an example and model for me in many ways and is also one of my dearest friends among the communion of saints. I know that she watches over me and intercedes before God on my behalf. May this simple, virgin, martyr intercede for all of us that we may come to imitate her purity and chastity, but above all else, her ardent love of God.

Saint Maria Goretti, strengthened by God's grace, you did not hesitate, even at the age of eleven, to sacrifice life itself to defend your virginal purity. Look graciously on the unhappy human race that has strayed far from the path of eternal salvation. Teach us all, and especially our youth, the courage and promptness that will help us avoid anything that could offend Jesus. Obtain for me a great horror of sin, so that I may live a holy life on earth and win eternal glory in heaven. Amen.