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.
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Monday, January 29, 2007
Nothing Comes Between Us and the Love of Christ
This is the reading a chose to read for my Oma's funeral Mass today.
"With God on our side who can be against us? Since God did not spare his own Son, but gave him up to benefit us all, we may be certain, after such a gift, that he will not refuse anything he can give. Could anyone accuse those that God has chosen? When God acquits, could anyone condemn? Could Christ Jesus? No! He not only died for us - he rose from the dead, and there at God's right hand he stands and pleads for us.
Nothing therefore can come between us and the love of Christ, even if we are troubled or worried, or being persecuted, or lacking food or clothes, or being threatened or even attacked. These are the trials through which we triumph, by the power of him who loved us.
For I am certain of this: neither death nor life, no angel, no prince, nothing that exists, nothing still to come, not any power, or height or depth, nor any created thing, can ever come between us and the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus our Lord."
(Rom. 8:31b-35, 37-39)
Please continue to keep the repose of her soul and the intentions of our family in your prayers.
If it weren't for these two priests, I wouldn't be here today!
Last week, when I was at school in the city and I knew that my Oma was dying, I went one afternoon to the Catholic cemetary where her brother, who was (and I suppose still is) a priest is buried to pray for him and to ask his intercession for his youngest sister. Most of the priests from our archdiocese are buried there.
My Oma first came to Canada after WWII because her older brother, Fr. Martin Mueller, an Augustinian priest, was already in Canada and he sponsored her to come over. He was at Sacred Heart Monastery in Ladner, BC. Shortly after coming to Canada she found a job as a teacher in a new paper mill town called Ocean Falls.
The second priest, Fr. Fouquette, is in large part responsible (or rather was an agent of God) for my grandparents meeting each other. My Opa came to Canada after WWII to make a new life for himself. After working on several farms and getting underpaid or not paid at all he ended up in Vancouver with $1.20 in his pocket and two suitcases in his hands. In a foreign land and not able to speak much English he found the Catholic cathedral and knelt down to pray at the back of the church, not knowing where to turn or what to do next. After praying some time he sat down in the pew. He had no idea what he was going to do next. One of the priests at the cathedral, Fr. Fouquette, approached him and asked what was wrong. My Opa explained to Fr. Fouquette that he couldn't understand him because he couldn't speak English. Fr. Fouquette promptly switched to French (he spoke French fluently) and my Opa explained his story to him. Fr. Fouquette then told him about a new mill that had just opened on the coast and suggested that my Opa try getting a job there. So, following Fr. Fouquette's suggestion he went and checked with the hiring agency and was hired on the spot. He returned to the cathedral to pick up his suitcases he had left with Fr. Fouquette and thanked him for telling him about the job. When he realized however that he didn't have money for the boat fare to Ocean Falls, Fr. Fouquette lent him $20 so that he could get there (that was a lot of money in those days). And so, my Opa moved to Ocean Falls and paid Fr. Fouquette back with his first paycheck. It was there that he met my Oma who was working as a teacher and because she spoke fluent French (she had studied French in university in Germany) they quickly got to know each other.
The moral of the story? When all else fails, find the nearest Catholic church and go pray!
Friday, January 26, 2007
Je t'aime Oma!
und das ewige Licht leuchte ihm.!
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon
Seigneur, donnez-leur le repos éternel,
et faites luire pour eux la lumière sans déclin.
My beloved Oma died last night at 11:20pm surrounded by loving family. My uncle and parents were singing her German folk songs, my Opa was sitting in silence, and I was quietly praying the Divine Mercy chaplet for her when she gave up her struggle to breathe. I was able to pray a litany for the dying and prayers of commendation which were in the back of my missal that I had with me as she breathed her last breaths. It was not easy being there but I'm glad I was.
Please pray for the repose of the soul of my grandmother, Irmgard, born January 11th, 1922, in Germany, died January 25th, 2007, in Canada.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace." (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)
This is a picture I took last weekend of my goddaughter in her oldest brother's lap. She's almost eleven months old now and absolutely gorgeous. She is such a blessing. Visiting her helped me keep things in perspective during this difficult time.
By the way, to anyone who was planning on seeing me at the Mark Shea talks this weekend, I won't be there obviously. I'm disapointed but there are some things that are more important in life. . .
Sunday, January 21, 2007
In paradisum deducant te angeli
Last night I went over to the hospital and stayed with my Oma from 8:00pm 'til 1:00am. I just sat with her and held her hand. I prayed the rosary out loud in French and then prayed vespers and then sang every hymn I knew the tune to from the hymns at the back of my breviary. And then I just sat there and prayed for her and told her that I loved her. I stayed with her until I started nodding off, then I went home and slept 'til 6:30am and came back. Besides going to Mass this morning and running home to pack I stayed with her until I had to leave to come back to the city this afternoon.
We gave her IV fluid hydration through the night, hoping that might help, but that didn't seem to improve her condition. Since the IV fluid wasn't helping we decided not to continue. This afternoon, shortly before I left, she received the anointing of the sick again.
I feel like I've been crying all day. Probably because I have been. Or at least most of the day. It was really hard to say goodbye this afternoon because I knew that it would probably be the last time I would see her alive. I love my Oma so much. I think the hardest thing in many ways though is watching my Opa suffer as he watches his wife dying. If I'm having such a hard time, I can only imagine what he's going through. Please pray for my Opa.
I wish I could be by my Oma's side during these last hours. . . days. . . but I needed to come back to school, especially since I might have to miss school for her funeral, depending on when that is. I'm glad I travelled home to see her this weekend though.
My Oma wasn't just a distant grandmother but rather was really another parent for me. I saw her almost every day growing up. I don't know what life is like without her. She's one of those few people in my life who's unconditional love for me I have never questioned nor doubted. I always knew she loved me.
I'm incredibly grateful for the gift of her in my life. And although it is difficult to watch someone you love approach death, I am grateful that at least she is not suffering. She is simply asleep and won't wake up. At least she does not seem to be in pain.
This is not easy. It's the first time I've watched anyone I know and love approach death. I've never had a loved one die.
Please pray for my Oma and my family. I don't think I'll be blogging much this week.
Saturday, January 20, 2007
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Mark Shea is Coming to Town!
Harrison just asked in a comment " Any cool Catholic stuff happening on the mainland on January 27th? I'm going to be over for the weekend." As a matter of fact Harrison. . . yes. Yes there is.
Mark Shea of St.Blog's fame is coming to town! Mark blogs over at Catholic and Enjoying It! [I'd put in a link but I'm a little slow at figuring out this new blogger...] He will be gracing us with his presence at our humble little college. . . well, the venue will actually be the nearby parish church. Here are the details for you (and anyone else who's interested. . .)
Saturday, January 27th, 10am to 1pm at St. Nicholas Parish
20675 87th Ave., Langley (Walnut Grove) BC
Tickets $15 at the door.
Mark will give two talks:
1. Behold Your Mother: Discovering the Blessed Virgin Mary
2. 101 Reasons Not to be Catholic: There are a million reasons not to be a Catholic and only one reason to be one. You be the judge. [Interesting title in my opinion...]
Registration starts at 9:30am.
(By the way, there's Mass at 9:00am if you're interested).
If anyone has questions about this event they can call Redeemer Pacific College at 604-888-7727 or leave me a comment/question.
If you're planning on attending this event let me know. I know there are some local bloggers coming out. We should go out for lunch after. . . anyone interested? :-)
I've been reading through the Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales this past week. Wow! What an amazing book. Amazing doesn't quite describe it. . . rather, what a profound book!
A few days ago I came across the following passage and it really stood out to me. Later in conversation, someone I was speaking with alluded to this same analogy. They didn't know that I was reading the Introduction to the Devout Life. It was kind of eery. One of those situations where you're thinking. . . hmmm. . . maybe God wants me to ponder this a little more.
And so, here it is. . . I thought I'd share with you so you too could ponder this wonderful analogy:
"Amid the difficulties you meet in the exercise of devotion, remember the words of our Lord: "A woman about to give birth has great sorrow, but when she has brought forth her child, she no longer remembers the anguish for joy that a man is born into the world." Within your soul you have Jesus Christ, the most precious child in the world, and until he is enterily brought forth and born you cannot help suffering from your labor. But be of good heart for these sorrows will pass and everlasting joy will remain with you for having brought forth such a man into the world. He will be wholly brought forth for you when you have wholly formed him in your heart and deeds by imitating his life." (St. Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life)
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Latin Mass in Vancouver
I came across this video today of Mass in Latin at our cathedral (Holy Rosary) in Vancouver, BC. I thought I'd share. I must admit, there is a certain mysterious beauty about Latin Mass.
Sunday, January 14, 2007
All Praise and Glory be to God!
(This is a picture of the chapel at St. Clare's Monastery (Poor Clares) in Mission, BC. The picture is taken from the extern of the chapel. In case you're wondering, that's the tabernacle fixed in the grill. Ok, I must admit I thought it was a little weird at first, but then again, hey, at least it's in plain view and not hidden in some corner. Has anyone ever seen this arrangement before? Is it common in cloisters?)
Thanks be to God for His many blessings. He is so gracious. I think that is the theme of my weekend. In fact, I think that is the theme of my life.
Friday my new laptop arrived. I know that we shouldn't be too attached to worldly goods, but after struggling with a dying laptop last semester I'm truly grateful that I was able to purchase a new laptop. I didn't think I was going to be able to afford one but in the end, for various reasons, I was able to. Thanks be to God. Really. I'm serious. Thanks be to God for my new laptop.
Friday afternoon we had Eucharistic adoration at the college. I wasn't sure how many people were going to show up but we ended up having a good turnout. While I tend to spend at least some time in prayer each day before the Blessed Sacrament there is something that truly strengthens your faith and seems to make you all that more aware of just who is before you when you kneel in adoration with others. Kneeling with a couple dozen of my classmates, peers, and even professors before Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament I am given great hope for the future of the Church and I am reminded that although we all come from different backgrounds and have different stories our eyes are all fixed on the same Person, the same eternal goal. I thank God for having graced me with the great blessing of many friends who share this same perspective, who know that in the end, all that matters is that our life is rooted in a love of He who is present in the Blessed Sacrament.
This weekend I went and visited the Poor Clare Sisters in Mission. What a grace it is to visit them. These women spend their lives in prayer. While we're sleeping in the middle of the night they awake to pray for us, the Church. Sometimes I wonder where we'd be without the graces we receive through the contemplative religious throughout the world constantly interceding on our behalf when we do not have the strength, time, desire, motivation, to do so ourselves. What a radical life they live indeed. In a world that many do not believe in God and our societies have wholesale rejected Him, to live a life dedicated entirely to the work of prayer through a supernatural relationship of love with God seems insane. Those who don't believe in God must think these brothers and sisters who choose a life of contemplation and prayer are insane. Truly, it would be insanity if God did not exist. If prayer had no power to effect change it would be madness. But O, that the world would recognize the reality of God, that the world would know the power of prayer, and they would see that the life of contemplation and prayer is not insanity but rather a great gift. While visiting with the Poor Clares I discovered a quote from St. Francis that I had never heard before. . . "We must pray until we ourselves become prayer." How beautiful.
Please pray for our consecrated religious who's often hidden lives bring great strength and grace to all the members of the Church. Please pray for my friend, Donne, who is preparing to enter the Poor Clares this coming April.
After visiting the Poor Clares I stopped by for a quick visit at Westminster Abbey, a Benedictine Abbey I tend to visit a lot. Anyways, I stopped by and said hello to some of the priests I know. I found out that it's the 95th Birthday of their oldest monk, Fr. Crysostom. Apparently, although his health is ailing and he is getting weaker, he concelebrated Mass this morning. Wow. At 95. Just think of all the sacramental graces that have flowed through those hands!
Another blessing for me this weekend was reading The Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales. I'm about 2/3rds of the way through and I just started reading it yesterday. I plan on finishing it this afternoon. Wow! I think this may very well be one of my new favourite books. Do you ever pick up a book and start reading it and think "Gee... it's kind of eery how relevant this book is to my life." This is one of those books. It's as if I were to sit down with St. Francis and give him a list of the top things that I am struggling with, that concern me, and that I have been pondering, and he systematically wrote a book to answer to these things. This book is so good I can hardly put it down. I'm reading through it cover to cover right now but I know that I will be turning back to it again to ponder many of the different sections.
And to top off this grace filled weekend I'm going to a staff "Christmas" (ok, I know it's a little late) party tonight for the small Catholic College I attend (and work at organizing "Student Life" Activities. . .).
All that being said, I've been fighting a horrible cold for over a month and now am on some prescriptions to try and get rid of it so if you'd pray for me that my cold would go away I'd be most grateful!
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Check out Orthfully Catholic.
Tremendous Value of the Holy Mass
"At the hour of death the Holy Masses you have heard devoutly will be your greatest consolation.
God forgives you all the venial sins which you are determined to avoid. He forgives you all your unknown sins which you never confessed. The power of Satan over you is diminished.
Every Mass will go with you to Judgment and will plead for pardon for you.
By every Mass you can diminish the temporal punishment due to your sins, more or less, according to your fervor.
By devoutly assisting at Holy Mass you render the greatest homage possible to the Sacred Humanity of Our Lord.
Through the Holy Sacrifice, Our Lord Jesus Christ supplies for many of your negligences and omissions.
By piously hearing Holy Mass you afford the Souls in Purgatory the greatest possible relief.
One Holy Mass heard during your life will be of more benefit to you than many heard for you after your death.
Through Holy Mass you are preserved from many dangers and misfortunes which would otherwise have befallen you. You shorten your Purgatory by every Mass.
During the Holy Mass you kneel amid a multitude of holy Angels, who are present at the Adorable Sacrifice with reverential awe.
Through Holy Mass you are blessed in your temporal goods and affairs.
When you hear Holy Mass devoutly, offering it to Almighty God in honor of any particular Saint or Angel, thanking God for the favors bestowed on him, etc., etc., you afford that Saint or Angel a new degree of honor, joy and happiness, and draw his special love and protection on yourself.
Every time you assist at Holy Mass, besides other intentions, you should offer it in honor of the Saint of the day."
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
News from Germany
Yesterday I received a Christmas letter from a friend who is studying in seminary in Bonn, Germany. I met him while in Germany in highschool on student exchange. We ended up going to Rome for Holy Week with a couple other friends in 2004. My friend reports that they are still reaping the fruits of World Youth Day 2005 in Germany and that he is looking forward to his deaconate ordination next year, in 2008, and Deo volente, his priestly ordination the next year. Yipeeee...I think an ordination is a good excuse for a trip to Germany, don't you?
First Day of Classes
“Of what use to me is all I learn in school if I do not become holy?”
~ St. Francis de Sales
Monday, January 08, 2007
Guess who. . .
(a.k.a Pope Benedict XVI)
I've already read this book but I had borrowed it previously from a friend and now I actually need to own a copy (which isn't a bad thing) for my Church & Sacraments class this semester.
The heart of virtue: Lessons from life and literature illustrating the beauty and value of moral character by Donald Demarco
This book was recommended to me by a priest I know.
Pilgrim Fellowship of Faith: The Church as Communion by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (a.k.a. Pope Benedict XVI)
This is another book we're reading in Church & Sacraments this semester.
Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton
One of those books I've been meaning to read for a long time.
Deep Conversion / Deep Prayer by Fr. Thomas Dubay
A friend strongly recommended this book to me. I've read own several other books by Fr. Thomas Dubay that I've found both helpful and interesting.
Now I just need to turn on the gas fire place and curl up with a good book, a blanket, and a cup of tea.
[A is for apparitions - your favorite]: Lourdes
[B is for Bible - the one you read most often]: Ignatius - Revised Standard Version
[C is for Charism - the one you would most like to have]: umm. . . no idea. . .
[D is for Doctor of the Church - your favorite]: St. Thomas Aquinas
[E is for Essential Prayer - What's yours?]: Salve Regina (Hail Holy Queen_
[F is for Favorite Hymn]: Panis Angelicus
[G is for Gospel - your favorite author?]: John
[H is for Holy Communion - How would you describe it, using one word?]: Incarnate
[I is for Inspiration - When do you feel most inspired by God?]: In Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament
[J is for Jesus - When did you first meet Him?]: Oct 6, 1985. Well, that was our first formal meeting at least.
[K is for Kindness - Which saint or person has most inspired you by their kindness?]: St. Martin de Porres
[L is for liturgical year - your favorite time in the liturgical cycle?]: Holy Week
[M is for Mary, the Mother of God - Your favorite term of endearment for her]: Our Blessed Mother
[N is for New Testament - Your favorite passage]: "Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." (Phil 4:6)
[O is for Old Testament - Your favorite Book here]: Pslams
[P is for Psalms - your favorite]: Psalm 139
[Q is for quote - saint quote]: "In this trying time that our country is going through we Catholics and especially we students, have a serious duty to fulfill: our self-formation." -– Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati
[R is for rosary - your favorite mysteries]: Sorrowful
[S is for Saint - the one you turn to in time of need - not including the Blessed Virgin Mary]: St. Maria Goretti
[T is for Tradition - your favorite Catholic tradition]: Eucharistic Adoration
[U is for university - Which Catholic University have you attended or are currently attending?]: Redeemer Pacific College
[V is for Virtue - the one you wish you had]: charity (out of this one virtue the others will flow...)
[W is for Way of the Cross - Which station can you most relate to?]: Veronica Wipes the Face of Jesus
[X is for Xaverian Brothers - Do you know who they are?]: Yes. They are the religious brothers of St. Francis Xavier.
[Y is for your favorite Catholic musician]: Franz Schubert
[Z is for Zeal for the faith]: I hope so!
Anyone else is welcome to join in on the fun.
. . . and if not . . .
Putting Socratic Logic to Work
Well, this past week when I was doing my lifeguarding courses I was doing some specialized training for lifeguarding waterpark facilities (think water slides, wave pools, etc...). The students in the course were divided into groups and asked to come up with a definition for "waterpark". Members of my group proposed such things as "an Aquatic facility with a wave pool" or "a swimming pool with waterslides".
This is where Socratic Logic kicks in. Wave pools are not essential to all waterparks, neither are waterslides in fact. I told them that we had to find the essential difference between waterparks and other aquatic facilities to come up with an answer. I said this essential difference must be universal to all waterparks if we are going to use it to define "waterpark". They looked at me like I was crazy.
In the end, they realized I wasn't so crazy when the instructor pointed out that not all waterparks have waterslides nor do all waterparks have wave pools.
See. You need philosophy to be a lifeguard.
Life rolls on...
After seven days in a row of 10-12hrs/day at the pool I'm done with my lifeguarding courses.
Classes start again tomorrow. I only have four courses this semester (Latin [yes...again...more...], German, Church & Sacraments, and Christian Worldview. Then I'm done. Yipeeeee. The courses this semester won't be too hard. And I've been taking six courses a semester all through university and now only have four courses in this last semester. In other words, I need to get a job to fill my time and to make money. Yeah, unfortunately the "real world" is soon upon me and since I've decided I'm not going to go to graduate school right away this fall I need to find a job. Hopefully lifeguarding. I have previous experience so hopefully that should help me get a job. Doing something. Anything. Well, not anything.
Anyhow, I've got a busy day.
Thursday, January 04, 2007
When You Don't Understand. . .
This week has been a bit of a crazy week for me and I really wanted to go to Mass the other day but I was only going to be able to get to an evening Mass. So I searched the archdiocese website for any parishes nearby that might have an evening Mass. I found one twenty minutes away and so I decided to go. The website failed to tell me though that Mass was going to be celebrated in another language. Not that I really care. It was a neat experience. . . and it was the same Jesus.
Now, I've been to Mass before in Spanish, French, German, Italian, and Latin. Some of these languages I speak better than others, but I was able at least to pick up on words and identify what the Gospel was and even piece together some of the homily in each of these languages.
This Mass I went to this week though was completely different. Wow. I had no clue what was being said (besides 'cheating' a bit with my missal...). To be honest, I still don't know what language it was. Perhaps Korean. Perhaps Mandarin or Cantonese. Perhaps Vietnamese. I don't know. Something Asian.
I was definitely "out of place" at the Mass. The priest apparently picked up on that though because when I went up to receive communion he didn't say whatever he was saying to everyone else but raised the Blessed Sacrament and said "The Body of Christ." Ok. So I guess my pastey white skin gave me away.
But like I said, it was the same Jesus, so I really didn't mind. It was interesting though.
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
(Taken from a daily e-mail I receive (published by Regnum Christi) with the Gospel and a short meditation on the Gospel.)
Keep your eyes fixed on Christ
This message has been brought to you by a ten hour day at a wave pool practicing lifeguarding skills followed by evening Mass. Obviously not a perfect analogy because Jesus is the one who's going to be rescuing me, not me rescuing Him. But I think you get my point. If this doesn't make sense, I blame the chlorine "overdose".
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
Lifeguarding - Moses Style
Monday, January 01, 2007
Happy Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary!
Life is a bit crazy here for me right now. I'm back from visiting family for Christmas but I'm working on recertifying my lifeguarding credentials (I'm hoping to get a job at a local pool in the new year) and am very busy (and tired!) with that. Then classes start again next week.
I won't be blogging much this coming week, but Deo volente, I'll be back.