Letters From a Young Catholic

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

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Goodbye, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Adieu

Lent is upon us.

I'm disappearing from the internet for this coming Lenten Season. I know it's almost cliché on St. Blogs, but I will be giving up the blogging for the next little while. I will continue to use e-mail and use the internet as necessary for academic research and for my part-time job, but in so far as blogger, instant messanging, etc. . . is concerned, I'm going to be disappearing for the next six weeks.

If you want to get in touch with me, check-up on me to make sure I'm still alive 'n kickin', if you have any questions, or if you have any prayer requests, feel free to contact me at dilexitprior@gmail.com . If you write me I promise I'll answer. I'll still be checking my e-mail fairly regularly.

May you have a blessed and holy Lenten pilgrimage.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Urgent Prayer Request

I've been speaking with a close friend of mine tonight and he is requesting prayers for his wife and unborn child. She was experiencing extended bleeding and just found out today after visiting the hospital that she is three weeks pregnant. They will have an ultrasound tomorrow morning to find out whether or not it is an ectopic pregnancy and whether the baby is still alive or not. Please pray for this young Catholic family. They were surprised that they are expecting since their first child is only five months old but are now praying hard for their unborn child.

St. Gianna Molla, pray for us!

Examination of Conscience

LAMLand made a request for a good "short" Examination of Conscience. This is one that I find helpful for a daily Examination of Conscience. I like the way this one is divided and it is short enough that it isn't likely to lead you to scrupulosity if you're using it for a daily examination but it's long enough that it's pretty thorough. I also find that it touches on the sins many of us stumble upon regularly and leaves out those ones most of us, by the grace of God, avoid (i.e. Have I murdered someone?). While we're on the topic of examining our conscience, it's a good idea to start Lent off with a good confession.

Daily Examination of Conscience

With regard to God
Do I pray enough, and when I do pray, do I give my full attention and reverence to my prayer?
Am I fully reverent in church? Do I distract others at prayer?
Do I pay proper attention to my daily prayers, even the small ones like Grace before Meals, prayer before class, etc.?
Do I use God's name outside of my prayers?
Are any of the jokes I tell lacking in reverence?
Am I making sufficient effort to get to know God better and give him the proper place in my life?

With regard to others
Am I unkind or cruel to others in thought, word or deed?
Do I harbour dislikes of other people, or envy them for something?
Am I thoughtful enough and helpful and patient with others?
Do I take away people's characters, telling stories, true or false, about them?
If I have taken away a person's character, have I tried to restore it?
Am I really obedient to those over me and the laws they make?
Do I spoil my obedience by being slow, unwilling or sulky about it?
Am I disrespectful towards my parents, elder brothers and sisters, teachers and those to whom I owe respect? Do I talk about them, when they are present or absent?
Do I give bad examples to others in any way?
Am I sufficiently thoughtful to those who need me in a special way - the sick, the old: do I play my part in helping people?
Do I obey the rules and laws of the school, office, country?

With regard to myself
Am I a show-off, conceited and proud?
Am I out for my own ends only - selfish, and sulky when I don't get my own way?
Do I keep myself fully occupied and therefore prevent temptation?
Am I greedy and ungenerous - thoughtless of others?
Am I angry or impatient with others, insufficiently controlled?
Have I deliberately thought or said anything impure or really vulgar?
Have I failed to stop reading something bad for me, or watching unsuitable TV?
Have any of my actions been in the slightest way impure?
Have I joined with others in sin, or given bad example?
Am I truthful in every way, or do I exaggerate to make myself bigger in the eyes of others? Have I cheated in any way, been dishonest?
Have I stolen anything or borrowed without permission?
Have I made restitution for anything I have taken in the past?
Am I a good companion to others?

I wonder. . .

I wonder how many Catholic families will be eating up all the cookies, brownies, ice-cream, and candy in the house today and tomorrow before Lent arrives. . . enjoy it while you can . . . store up the energy for Wednesday.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Archbishop Raymond Roussin Podcast Re: Porn

Archbishop Raymond Roussin has posted a podcast regarding the issue of the proliferation of pornography on mobile phone services in Canada.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Lenten Message

You know you go to a solid Catholic college when. . . someone photocopies dozens of copies of The Holy Father's Message for Lent 2007 and leaves them out in the foyer for students to pick up as they go by.

Ash Wednesday Question. . .

Wednesday I will be going to the Funeral Mass for the grandfather of a good friend of mine. This may seem like an odd question but. . . do you think they'll have the imposition of ashes at the Funeral Mass (since it is on Ash Wednesday)?

I've organized an Ash Wednesday Mass at the college which will be held earlier on in the day so I will probably already have a nice black smudge on my forehead by the time I go to the funeral Mass so it's not really a big issue, but I'm just kind of curious.

Cascade Falls

I went hiking yesterday with some friends up above Cascade Falls. It was beautiful to be out in the woods and get some fresh air. My family goes hiking quite often and when I was a kid I used to whine and complain and definitely resist going hiking. Don't tell my parents. . . but as with many things they made me do as a child, I am now grateful they made me going hiking.

Yesterday was overcast but it wasn't raining so I can't complain. It was only about fifteen minutes up to the falls but then we hiked another two hours up an old logging road over a mountain and down into the valley where the river that led to the falls flowed down. We weren't expecting snow. Towards the end we were up to our knees in snow. Good thing it wasn't too cold. On the way up there were several rockslides across the old logging road that had creeks flowing down them and so I was jumping from rock to rock trying to avoid the water. By the time we came back down I was soaking wet already from going through the snow so I just walked straight through the creeks. Unfortunately I didn't have a change of dry clothes in my car. Silly me. Oh well. All in all it was a beautiful day and wonderful to get out in the fresh air. We were hiking for about three and half hours which isn't that long but it was steep so I definitely can "feel" it this morning.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

What is Important then Oma?

For those of you who have been reading my blog for a while, you might remember that I spent this past summer in my hometown helping care for my ailing grandparents. At the end of the summer, when I was preparing to leave to return to my studies, I visited my Oma to say goodbye. It was the end of August, and though at that time Oma was already very confused, she knew who I was and could understand what I was saying.

When I explained to her that I had to return to my studies she asked me "Why?" "Because I want to study like you did," I explained. My Oma was very well educated for her era; she had studied for a masters in French Literature in the years following WWII. "Because studying is very important," I answered. "You always told me that studying was important." "That's silly," she said. "Studying is silly?" I asked curiously, for she had always highly valued education. "Yes, you forget everything," she said. "Don't go back to university. Stay rather here with me." "If studying is silly, what is important then Oma?" I asked. Her reply was simple yet profound. "To know that you are loved."

My Oma spent years studying in university at a time when very few women pursued post-secondary education. Later, as a housewife and mother of four she would spend most of her leisure time reading history and literature. She knew European history better than anyone else I've ever met, could quote epic poems at length, and spoke five languages fluently. Yet, as she approached the end of her life, she was accutely aware that the vast knowledge she once had was slipping away. As Alzheimer's began taking over her life she realized that in the end it is not how many books you've read in your lifetime or the knowledge you have accumulated that is most important, for in perspective, these things are all fleeting, but rather, it is the recognition that you are loved that will have the most enduring impact on your life.

I pray that as she lay dying three weeks ago she knew that she is loved. I pray that she knew that she is loved by her family who surrounded her, but most of all that she knew that she is loved by the author of love Himself. When all is said and done, may we too know that we are loved, for after all, "dilexit prior," "He first loved us" (1 John 4:19).

Real Love

Today is "Valentine's Day." It's day for roses and fancy dinners and lots of kisses. At least, that's the image our modern society portrays. Today however, I've been reflecting upon a different image, I've been reflecting upon the most important lessons in love I've been taught.

This past year I learned a lot about love as an observer to my grandparents relationship. This year, as I watched my Oma's condition deteriorate I saw in my Oma and Opa's relationship the finest example of human love I have ever witnessed.

Spoon feeding your wife of over fifty years, for two hours a meal, three times a day
. . . that is love.
Sitting for hours on the couch holding her hand and telling her that you love her as she cries out in fear
. . . that is love.
Sleeping only three hours a night because your wife is screaming through the night
. . . that is love.
Kissing her on the lips and professing your love for her as she makes her way to bed for another sleepless night
. . . that is love.
Giving up your bed in the hope that your wife will sleep better there alone
. . . that is love.
Allowing dozens of strangers into your home so that your wife can be well cared for
. . . that is love.
Telling her you love her when she no longer knows who you are
. . . that is love.
Spending twelve hours a day by your wife's side when she's in respite care (the purpose of which is for you get a break)
. . . that is love.

The list could go on. . .

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Perseverance in Prayer

"Unless the seed is sown the ears of wheat do not grow; if we do not ask, we shall not receive the graces we require. In so far as we intensify our demands, we identify our will with that of God. It is He who truly knows the depths of our need, of our utter poverty. At times the makes us wait so that we might be better disposed, so that we will desire those graces more earnestly and fervently. On other occasions He rectifies our petition and grants us what we really need. And yet there are times when He does not grant us what we are asking for, because, perhaps without realising it, we are actually asking for comething that is harmful, something that has presented itself to our will under the appearance of some desireable good."
- Fr. Fernandez, In Conversation With God, Vol. 3, p. 262

Quote of the Day

"Your sanctification depends upon doing your reading for this course."

Nothing like a good ol' guilt trip. Context: "Church and Sacraments" class discussing the role of the laity.

Ash Wednesday Coming Up

Thanks be to God for young zealous priests!!!

One of the youngest (and newest) priests of our archdiocese has agreed to come to the college to celebrate Mass on Ash Wednesday. This is a huge blessing since for many of the students our classes conflict with the Ash Wednesday masses at the nearby parishes and/or we don't have vehicles and since the campus is on old farm land and not exactly in town if you don't have transportation getting to Mass can be difficult. There are no classes scheduled between 11:00am and 11:45am however so it's a perfect slot for Mass and everyone can get to it! Yipeee!!!

On that note, just a reminder - Lent starts in a week. You might want to start thinking about it and coming up with a few ideas as to how you will observe this coming Lenten Season.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Interesting Google Search

According to my sitemeter someone came across my blog today by googling "god has chosen her to be a roman catholic christian because." Now, if only they'd fill in the words after 'because' for me. . . this could be quite interesting. . . it fits very well with the fact that I've been spending a lot of time this past week reflecting on the countless and amazing gifts of grace God has freely poured out upon me. I must admit, such reflections often leave me wondering "why?"

Porn Upsets Our Archbishop!

"Canadian Press
VANCOUVER – The Roman Catholic archbishop of Vancouver is considering cancelling contracts with Telus after the phone company began making pornography available through its cellphones.

Canada's second largest phone company now offers pornographic photos and videos to its customers and confirms it has been receiving complaints from upset customers.

Telus introduced the service in January. In doing so, it became the first wireless provider in the country to offer pornographic photos and videos at $3-4 each.

Archbishop Raymond Roussin is upset, saying the move takes the "accessibility of pornographic material further into the public realm."

Roussin told The B.C. Catholic newspaper that the move is especially ill-considered because of the problems pornography is causing in society.

"Given the increasing awareness about the problem of sexual addiction to pornography through Internet access, and the abuse that this perpetuates of vulnerable persons, Telus's decision is disappointing and disturbing."

But, said Telus spokesman Jim Johannsson, the company is not breaking the law nor is it providing something that has not been available on cellphones for some time.

"We have the utmost respect for (Roussin's) perspective but the reality is that adult content has been available on cellphones equipped with web browsers for the past several years with no controls of any kind," Johannsson said.

"We feel that the responsible thing to do is put in place age verification controls and to ensure that the content complies with all provincial standards and regulations and is legal for download in Canada," he added.

Johannsson said the material available for download is not considered obscene under Canadian law.

The B.C. Catholic, the official publication of the archdiocese, reports the archbishop plans to raise his concerns with parishes and schools throughout the Archdiocese of Vancouver.

He is also considering directing Catholic institutions to terminate their contracts with Telus Mobility.

As of last week, the company had received more than 135 complaints, a number which continues to climb, Johannsson said."

(Thanks T.O. for pointing this out. . .)

Theology of the Body

I have a question for those of you who are daily Mass types. . . has anyone been hearing homilies related to the Theology of the Body this past week as we've been reading through the first few chapters of Genesis during the readings at Mass? I haven't, but every time I hear these chapters read my mind seems to drift back to Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body.

If you have no clue what I'm talking about and I've peaked your interest, look up the Theology of the Body and you'll find a theological treasure.


I'm living in the thrill of the unknown. Really, there's something exciting about being at a threshold in life and not knowing what lays ahead. And by the way, as a note to self [and others out there], it's when you try and figure it out that the unknown gets stressful. There's something profoundly true about the cliché statement "Let go and let God."

Catholic Blog Awards

Apparently someone nominated me. . . much to my surprise, I've been nominated in the "most spiritual" category. I don't know how I fell into that category. Scanning the list of other blogs in that category, I'm flattered by the nomination but I think you should really go vote for someone else!

All that being said, the voting for the Catholic Blog Awards is now up and running so go vote!!!

www.catholicblogawards.com (ok, so someone needs to teach me how to do links on the new blogger!)

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Gee, I'm old. . .

You know you're getting 'old' when your highschool friends start sending you pictures like this one. . .

This is a picture of my "date" from my highschool prom holding his newborn son. He and his wife just had their first baby on Friday. Gee, I'm getting old. . .

No Signs

Mark 8:11-13
"The Pharisees came forward and began to argue with Jesus, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. He sighed from the depth of his spirit and said, "Why does this generation seek a sign? Amen, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation." Then he left them, got into the boat again, and went off to the other shore."

Ok. Ok. I get it. I'll try and lay off the begging for signs. . . so, Lord, about that neon flashing sign I was asking for earlier today. . . let me retract that request.

Friday, February 09, 2007

random meme

I'm rewarding myself for having finished the book I was supposed to read today by doing this meme I picked up from Lamland. After the meme, on to my Latin translation homework. . .

1. a cuddler? Sure.
2. a morning person? Very much so. Up and rearing to go in the morning. I never sleep in.
3. Are you a perfectionist? Probably. Ok, being honest, yes.
4. awesome? I don't understand this question.
5. addicted to anything? Not that I can think of.
6. in your pajamas? Not right now.
7. left handed? Nope.

1. friend you saw: Diane (since I live with her. . .)
2. phoned? Actually got through to: Fr. Justin. Left a message: Sabine.
3. sent email? Parents
4. message received over myspace? I don't use myspace.
5. instant messaged? Anthony

1. wore: Jeans, red sweater, gray sweatshirt (ok, so I was really cold)
2. mood: must get school work done
3. today is: busy
4. got any plans: Latin, visit Jesus, dinner with my Opa at my aunt and uncle's, go to my cousins' high school musical

1. number: 5
2. colour: blue
3. season: summer

Qs and As

q: What was the 1st thing you did this morning?
a: jumped out of bed, morning offering, shower

q: Last thing you ate:
a: homemade granola bar

q: Do you have anything bothering you?
a: Vast amounts of school work and no motivation. I'll get through it though.

q: What's the last movie you saw?
a: 18 Again (don't waste your time. . . horrible movie)

q: Where is the last place you went?
a: The Catholic church down the street (morning Mass)

q: Do you wish upon stars?
a: No, but I like looking at them

q: Are you a friendly person?:
a: Yup. I'm a pretty friendly/outgoing kind of person.

q: Where did you sleep last night?:
a: In my bed.

q: What color shirt are you wearing?:
a: Red sweater & gray sweatshirt

q: Do you have more guy or girl friends?
a: Hmmmm. . . probably about the same.

q: When was the last time you really cried?
a: Last week.

q: What was your last thought before you went to sleep last night?
a: "Will I really wake up and do homework at 5:30am when my alarm goes off?" (No. I slept until 6:30am)

q: What are you about to do?
a: Latin translation homework.

q: If you could drink anything right this second, what would it be?
a: The peach herbal tea that I just made.

q: What's your job position called?
a: Student Life Intern / Undergraduate Student

q: What's your favourite month(s)?
a: August

q: What was your elementary schools mascot?
a: I don't think we had one.

q: what's your favourite bottled water?
a: I don't waste my money on bottled water.

q: What will you be doing at 9pm tonight?
a: Probably at my cousins' high school play

q: Did you attend your high school prom?
a: Yes. (And my date from my high school prom just had his first baby this morning!!! (well, his wife just had a baby!!!))

q: Did you go to someone else's prom?
a: No.

q: Do you prefer coffee or tea?
a: Coffee

q: Something red within 5 feet?
a: The Spirit of the Liturgy by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

q:ever done the electric slide?
a: No. Don't know how either.

q: How much french do you know?
a: I'm fluent in French. I went to a Francophone school (everything in French) growing up.

q: Ever crash a car, been in an accident?
a: Depends on your definition of "crash".

q: Do you look good in yellow?
a: Don't think so.

q: Do you sing?
a: Sure I sing.

q: Ever sing in public?
a: In choir in highschool.

q: Least favourite color?
a: orange

q: Ever had dippin dots?
a: Yes. They're the little tiny balls of ice-cream.

q: How many driving tickets have you had?
a: None.

q: Do you own your own house?
a: No.

q: At what age do you want to get married?
a: I don't think we should put God on a schedule for these things.

q: How many kids do you have/want?
a: Dozens and dozens and dozens. Just kidding. We'll see.

More to come...

"Catch-up" Sacramental Preparation

I have a huge task upon me. Well, huge in my opinion, and huge in the sense of importance and potential for impacting peoples lives.

I had to stop teaching catechism this semester because catechism classes were at the same time as an evening course that I have to take before graduating (and since this is my last semester I couldn't put it off. . . ). The director of the parish religious education program however contacted me and asked if I would be able to help prepare some children who are "behind schedule" on their sacraments to make their First Confession and receive their First Holy Communion at the Easter Vigil.

I just spoke with the person in charge of the catechism program yesterday and here's the deal . . . I have six children, ranging in ages from 9 to 12 years old who have never been to Confession nor received Communion. I have five one hour sessions to prepare them for both these sacraments before Holy Week. Our first session is next Thursday.

If you were me and had five hours to teach these children to teach them essentials of these two great sacraments what would you do? How would you approach this challenge? I want it to be interesting for the children and I want them to understand that this isn't a "one time event" but that these sacraments sould become a central part of their life. Unfortunately, I also realize that these children have a very limited background in the Faith and many of them haven't grown up going to Mass on a regular basis up to now (otherwise they would have already received these sacraments). The reality that they are not familiar with the basics of the Faith nor with the Mass makes this task all the more challenging.

Any tips or suggestions?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Life of a Catholic Student

Here's a typical example of my life as a Catholic university student. I'm excited about this coming weekend. There's so much going on.

Tonight we're hosting a workshop on NFP (Natural Family Planning) at the college. Yipeee! Actually, quite honestly, learning about NFP with your closest friends can be quite entertaining. Really. It's a far better source of entertainment than going to a comedy club. Last year when we had a similar session we were all laughing so hard we were crying. Who knew NFP could be so entertaining. . . we do restrict the session to women however since. . .well, most of us are not married yet. It's interesting however that many of the guys are encouraging their female friends to go.

Tomorrow I'm helping a friend and her family move. In the evening I'm driving out to my aunt and uncle's to have supper with them and my Opa who has come down to the city for a visit. We'll be going to my cousins' high school production of the musical, The Music Man, after dinner.

Saturday we have a speaker coming to give some talks on marriage at the college. I'm helping organize this. And then Saturday night we've got a movie night. . . any suggestions of movies to watch? I'm looking for an entertaining, engaging, thought-provoking, non-morally offensive, movie for 18 - 30 year olds mixed company.

Sunday I'm looking forward to visiting with some friends I haven't seen for a while and going to a silver jubilee Mass for one of the sisters at the Poor Clares in Mission. The archbishop will be the main celebrant. I imagine their tiny little chapel will be quite crowded.

Somewhere in the midst of all of this I have a couple midterm exams to study for. I'm starting to lack motivation for my school work but I will try and discipline myself to perservere to the end these last few months.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Reason #10002349 I Love Being Catholic

I am currently reading Pilgrim Fellowship of Faith: The Church as Communion by Cardinal Ratzinger (a.k.a. Pope Benedict) for a Theology course I'm taking this semester called Church and Sacraments.

Early on in the book I came across this wonderful quote:

"There are no foreigners in the Church; everyone is at home everywhere, and not just a visitor. It is always the one Church, one and the same. Anyone baptized in Berlin is just as much at ome in the Church in Rome or in New York or in Kinshasa or in Bangalore or wherever he may be as in the Church where he was baptized. He does not need to report his move; it is all the one Chuch."

This is something I have experienced while travelling. I love the fact that no matter where I am in the world, I can simply look up the nearest Catholic Church and go to Mass and I feel perfectly at home. No matter where I am I can have this intimate encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist in communion with my brothers and sisters in Christ. The people sitting next to me at Mass in some little German village or in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris are just as much my brothers and sisters in Christ as the familiar faces in my hometown parish. The Jesus Christ I encounter in the Mass in Rome or New York is the same Jesus Christ present in the tabernacle at the parish down the street from where I live. Doesn't this just leave you in awe? It leaves me in awe.

Sixty-three and counting!

Today is my paternal grandparents' sixty-third wedding anniversary! Sixty-three years and counting! Wow! Thanks be to God for this great example of lasting love in my life!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

True Freedom

“Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.” -Pope John Paul II

Friday, February 02, 2007

Anglican Hot Cross Buns?

I was looking through a new cook book that appeared in our kitchen this week when I came across a recipe for hot cross buns. Above the recipe was written "It is said that these buns were first created by a 12th-century Anglican monk, who placed the sign of the cross on the buns in honor of Good Friday." Now, I'm a little confused. Wouldn't an Anglican monk before the Reformation have been in fact a Catholic monk?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Three Months to Go

Three months until graduation. Everyone has been asking me, "What do you want to do when you graduate?" However, that's not the most important question. The question that I'm asking is "What does God want me to do when I graduate?"

Thought for the Day

Sometimes, what seems like two steps backwards in our eyes is indeed one step forward in God's plan for us.