Sunday, September 26, 2010

A charge to Pious Men

Today's second reading seemed an excellent charge to Pious Men everywhere:

But you, man of God, pursue righteousness,
devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness.
Compete well for the faith.
Lay hold of eternal life, to which you were called
when you made the noble confession in the presence of many witnesses.
I charge you before God, who gives life to all things,
and before Christ Jesus,
who gave testimony under Pontius Pilate for the noble confession,
to keep the commandment without stain or reproach
until the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ
that the blessed and only ruler
will make manifest at the proper time,
the King of kings and Lord of lords,
who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light,
and whom no human being has seen or can see.
To him be honor and eternal power. Amen.
[1 Tm, 6-11]

Friday, September 24, 2010

I've been reading a book entitled Salt: A World History. I know, it sounds a little odd, but I'm a unit study girl from way back so the idea of pivoting a study of history around this one element common to all cultures seems logical to me.

Anyway, there's one brief section I want to share that speaks to a theme we've talked about here from time to time - the human longing for beauty. From a chapter on mines controlled by the Polish Crown it says that at first, working the mines was basically a death sentence in slave conditions. Men would climb down 50 ladders and use hand tools to dig out the precious mineral. It was so hot that men worked naked. Horses that worked the mines spent their entire lives underground. In spite of all that, miners worked to improve conditions in small ways.

In 1689, the mines began offering miners daily Catholic services at their underground place-of-work. the miners of Wieliczka began carving religious figures out of rock salt. Three hundred feet below the surface, miners carved a chapel out of rock salt with statues and bas-relief scenes along the floor, walls, and ceiling. They even fashioned elaborate chandeliers from salt crystals.
Apparently you can still visit there today. It's really pretty amazing!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Prayer in defense of the family

It was reported in yesterday's news that the Archbishop of Saint Paul/Minneapolis has recorded an 8 minute DVD outlining the Church's teachings defending marriage between one man and one woman, and that a copy will be mailed to each of the state's 800,000 Catholics.

Archbishop John Nienstedt stated "Our target is basically our Catholic people. To remind them of what we believe and why we believe it and why it's so important that they believe it." "We're not a political force," Nienstedt said, "but we are a religious force. So we think we should be part of the conversation."

Please read the details and join me in prayer that the DVD will be met with open minds and hearts that are willing to embrace the Truth. Pray also in thanksgiving for this courageous bishop and that he and all his brother bishops will continue to boldly teach the truth with clarity and love.

I suggest this Novena to the Holy Family:
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, bless me and grant me the grace of loving Holy Church as I should, above every earthly thing, and of ever showing my love by deeds.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, bless me and grant me the grace of openly professing as I should, with courage and without human respect, the faith that I received as your gift in holy Baptism.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, bless me and grant me the grace of sharing as I should in the defense and propagation of the Faith when duty calls, whether by word or by the sacrifice of my possessions and my life.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, bless me and grant me the grace of loving my family and others in mutual charity as I should, and establish us in perfect harmony of thought, will, and action, under the rule and guidance of the shepherds of the Church.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, bless me and grant me the grace of conforming my life fully as I should to the commandments of God’s law and those of His Holy Church, so as to live always in that charity which they set forth.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I ask in particular this special favor:
(Mention your favor).

Monday, September 20, 2010

The oil of gladness

Our church has just finished a yearlong renovation project. It is beautiful and today the bishop came to celebrate the re-dedication Mass. It began with the bishop accepting the keys from the pastor and blessing the water in the baptistry. I didn't see as much of it as I might have liked, because I was chasing a toddler unimpressed by miters and crosiers. There's one piece of the liturgy that I want to remember, though.
[click here to read the full post at Light and Momentary]

Image source

Art for Home Altars

I've been working on a little project to keep home altars (a.k.a prayer tables, sacred spaces, etc.) up to date in simple ways. I'm an absolute devotee of having a space like this in my home. It's a peaceful haven, a public witness, and a constant reminder to my family of the True Center of our lives. You can read more about the details here and here.

One of the easiest ways to keep your prayer center up to date is with free (or almost free) art from religious calendars and the internet. We've posted lots of art and art links on this blog over the years and will continue to do so (we're big fans), so keep checking in for more.

For ease of use nothing beats a clear acrylic free-standing frames available from those gigantic discount stores. They're very inexpensive and the art can be easily changed by just sliding it out - no assembly required! My favorite size is 8 X 10, but they also come in smaller sizes that would be suitable for holy card art, inspirational quotes, Christmas card art, etc.

To begin with, I'm planning to print this piece by Domenico Feti of a boy and his guardian angel. The Feast of the Guardian Angels is coming up on October 2 and I like this strong, kind angel pointing the way to heaven. The demon fleeing the scene is a nice reminder of Who's in charge!

To capture this image, I will right click on the picture and chose the "Copy Image" option.

From there, open a word processing program like MS Word or MS Publisher and paste it onto a blank page by either hitting Ctrl and V or Paste Special on the Edit menu. I haven't tried it, but assume Open Office programs would work the same way.

This particular piece pasted in as an 8 x 10, so I just need to print and slide it in my frame. I recommend heavier paper if possible so it doesn't wrinkle if you use it more than once. When you're done with it, if you're like Lucy just neatly file it away. If you're like me, put it in a box with the other 100 pieces and shuffle through them every year to find it.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

An appeal for an intelligent, well-instructed laity

"I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it, who know so much of history that they can defend it"
Blessed John Henry Newman (as quoted by Pope Benedict XVI at the Mass for his beatification)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Today's Word: Beatification

Tomorrow marks the last day of Pope Benedict's visit to England, and the day on which he will declare John Henry Newman as "blessed", which brings us today's word:

Mother Theresa's Beatification (source)
Beatification (bee·at'·uh·fi·CAY·shun) A recognition that a holy person is in heaven and interceding on behalf of the faithful. This is the last step before canonization (being made a saint). In order to be beatified, there must be proof of one miracle obtained by the person's intercession (except in the case of martyrs).

After beatification, the Blessed may be publicly invoked (Masses and the Divine Office said in their honor, inclusion in the Litany of Saints, etc.) in their local dioceses (and in their order, if they were a religious), but they are still restricted to only private devotions throughout the Universal Church until they are canonized.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

St. Ninian's Tartan

I'm a bit of a fabric-fan, so I read with interest that a new tartan has been created for Pope Benedict in honor of his visit to Scotland tomorrow.
As is fitting for such an important gift, every detail is rich in meaning:

The white line on blue field draws upon Scotland's national colours while the green reflects the lichens growing on the stones of Whithorn in Galloway. It was there that Ninian first brought the gospel of Jesus Christ to Scottish shores over 1,600 years ago.

The white lines are also accompanied by a pair of red lines, reflecting the colours of Cardinal Newman's crest. And finally, the thin yellow lines in the tartan, together with the white, reflect the colours of the Vatican.

Each white line on the green contains exactly eight threads, one for each Catholic diocese in Scotland. There are 452 threads in the design from pivot to pivot, representing the number of Catholic parishes.

Wouldn't this be a great gift for that nice Catholic gentleman on your Christmas list?

I can't find any details about purchasing such a thing,
but will post an update if I discover anything.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Today's Word

It's possible that this is an error that is specific to my parish, but most often I hear the entire room in which Mass takes place referred to as "the sanctuary." In reality, what they probably mean is the nave.

Sanctuary (SANK-tshoo-ehr-ee)
A sanctuary is the holiest part of a sacred space. It's the place containing the altar (or the high altar if there are several). The sanctuary is the center of the liturgical ceremony, and is set apart by a raised floor, altar rail, distinct decorations, etc.

Nave (NAYV)
The nave is the central, open part of a church reserved for worshipers. This word is from the Latin, navis, meaning ship and speaks of the image of the Church as the Ship of Salvation. We members are the passengers being safely guided through the stormy waters of life. Isn't that a beautiful image?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Today's Word

While on vacation this summer, I attended Mass at a church with beautiful stained glass windows of the Parables.

Parable (from the Catholic Encyclopedia):
The word parable signifies in general a comparison, or a parallel, by which one thing is used to illustrate another. It is a likeness taken from the sphere of real, or sensible, or earthly incidents, in order to convey an ideal, or spiritual, or heavenly meaning. It abounds in lively speaking figures, and stands midway between the literalism of mere prose and the abstractions of philosophy.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Today's Word

This weekend, I had the pleasure of attending Mass at a beautiful old church that has been closed for the past seven years and is being reopened and restored to house a newly established group of Franciscans. Their bare feet and rough wool habits led to some discussion about what makes them different from the diocesan priests we usually see, and like most good conversation, that led to learning something new, which in turn leads to Today's Word.

Evangelical Counsels
The vows (promises) of poverty, chastity, and obedience taken by those in consecrated life. These vows were first made in the twelfth century by Saint Francis and those in his newly established group, and now form the basis of the life and conduct of all religious communities.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Thrifty Gifts: Recycling Edition

(I plan to save my other Thrifty Gift ideas for a little later in the year, but this one requires a bit of planning, so I'm posting it early.)

When my kids were elementary school aged one of their favorite "toys" involved a box of stuff that easily could have qualified as garbage. And a roll of tape. We called it the junk box (creative group, aren't we?), and it was filled with things like plastic strawberry baskets, toilet paper tubes, small yogurt tubs, bits of yarn, Popsicle sticks, bubble wrap, foam trays (but not meat trays - I don't think you could get them clean enough), Pringle's cans, rubber bands, chenille sticks, oatmeal containers, plastic lids, paper plates, thread spools, old greeting cards, etc.

It was a very fluid inventory, but the one constant was tape. I'd recommend the cheapest cellophane tape you can find and lots of it! Duct tape and packing tape are helpful for projects that need a bit more support, but since the entire cost of this gift is in the tape, you can keep the price pretty reasonable. Put everything in the right sized box and share it with your favorite creative 7-year-old. I happened to find a copy of the book pictured above to jump start some ideas, and there are lots of similar publications if you actually want to spend money on the gift, but really, it's not necessary.

What is it with kids and tape? I'm pretty sure I could not find an intact roll of tape in the house for the first 10 years of my life as a parent. It helped to be able to remind them that their tape was in the junk box.

  • My copy of the book was free from an online book exchange, but it's also available at Amazon.
  • It's not uncommon during the Christmas shopping season for stores to offer great deals on tape (sometimes even free).
DISCLAIMER: Consider your recipient carefully. Not everyone will appreciate you giving their children a box of recycling, but if you know a kindred spirit who will see the potential, this is a fun, creative idea. I have a godson who's 5, so I'm just saving the choicest pieces of junk so far, but in a couple year I know he's going to LOVE it!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Today's Word

I had the pleasure of holding a newly baptized baby recently and was reminded once again that one of the best smells ever is that of chrism on a infant's head. Surely if The Goodness of God could be bottled, it would smell like these blessings of life and salvation and grace!

Chrism (KRIH-zuhm)
Typically a mixture of olive oil and balsam, chrism is consecrated by a bishop for use in anointing at Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Orders, and the blessing of an altar.

Writing this reminded me of an article I read at Faith and Family where a reader recommended a candle that smells "remarkably close to this scent."

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Holy Father's Prayer Intentions for September

General Intention: The Word of God as Sign of Social Development
That in less developed parts of the world the proclamation of the Word of God may renew people’s hearts, encouraging them to work actively toward authentic social progress.
Missionary Intention: The End of War
That by opening our hearts to love we may put an end to the numerous wars and conflicts which continue to bloody our world.
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I offer You all my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day
for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart,
in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
throughout the world,
in reparation for my sins,
for the intentions of all our associates,
and in particular for the intentions
of the Holy Father for this month.