Monday, December 31, 2007

HAPPY NEW YEAR!


Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being. Each of us owes our deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light.

~Albert Schweitzer


Monday Highlights and Spiritual Insights



On This Day in Catholic History

Callistus III, [Alfonso the Borgia], Pope (1455-58), was born.

Birthdays

1919 - Tommy Byrne, American baseball player

1931 - Bob Shaw, Irish writer (d. 1996)

1943 - John Denver, American singer, songwriter, one of the most popular artists of the 1970's; released 300 songs. Some of his songs included: "Take Me Home, Country Roads", "Leaving on a Jet Plane", "Calypso", "Annie's Song", "Thank God I'm a Country Boy", and "Rocky Mountain High". (d. 1997)

1943 - Pete Quaife, English bassist (The Kinks)

1959 - Phill Kline, American politician from Kansas

1961 - Rick Aguilera, American baseball player

Image: Vita Mundi

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Movie Review: Juno




Juno opened here this weekend and I went to see it this afternoon. This film really surprised me! I had heard it was good, but I had no idea that it would be so funny, and, at the same time, so touching. It was obvious from the reactions of the audience (the laughter and the tears), I was not alone in my feelings for this film.

Ellen Paige plays Juno McGruff, a brainy but zany 16 – year – old, who decides to have sex for the first time with her best friend Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera), who is also a virgin. Naturally, she gets pregnant and after a frightening trip to the abortion clinic, Juno decides to give the baby up for adoption. At the suggestion of her girl friend Leah (Olivia Thirby), she checks out the want ads in The Penny Saver and discovers a picture – perfect couple to be the parents of her child -- Mark and Vanessa (Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman).

When Juno breaks the news of her pregnancy to her dad and stepmom, Bren (Allison Janney) and Mac (J.K. Simmons) they react in a calm and loving manner. They are older and wiser than some teen parents and seem to be understanding and genuinely concerned about their daughter, although it is obvious that they do not condone premarital sex. They do make some very candid comments, which are hilarious, and do not seem out of synch with the rest of the movie.

Mac goes with Juno to visit the would – be adoptive parents who, in addition to looking like celebrities, live in the perfect house in the perfect neighborhood, and are obviously more than capable of financially providing for the child. However, as Juno gets to know them better – she discovers their ideal relationship is not what it appears to be.

As we travel through the nine month journey with Juno, we learn that her wisecracks and jokes are a cover-up for her true feelings – deeper feelings she has about the pregnancy and the baby, the pain she is going through, and her feelings for Paulie. She is a sensitive, loving, unselfish young woman who faces the truth, thinks it through, and deals with it accordingly. We see the growth and maturity that takes place within her as a result of this experience.

This is a film I would like to watch again to laugh again, to cry again, to listen to the music again, and to analyze just a bit more. I enjoyed it that much and I think you will, too.

I give it 4 out of 4 stars and give it an A rating.

Juno" has been nominated for three Golden Globes, including best comedy, best actress in a comedy and best screenwriter.

This movie is rated PG – 13.

Previous Posts:

Juno, The Movie: A Film to See

Juno, The Movie

A Beautiful Christmas Blessing

Today I received one of the best gifts of the entire Christmas season - a visit from the Brothers - one of the Brothers of St. John from the Laredo monastery and one of the Brothers from the New Jersey monastery were here to visit. It is such a treat to visit with family!

We (The Oblates and the Brothers) enjoyed a wonderful supper together and engaged in long conversations about the family Community and the faith. My mind and soul are fed each time I see them (They always encourage such stimulating philosophical conversations on the faith.) and my heart melts. The charism of the Community is love and it radiates from each one of them in copious amounts.

Thank you, Lord, for this beautiful blessing!

Operation Rescue: Truth Truck Helps Couple Turn Away From Abortion

Wichita, KS - As late-term abortionist George R. Tiller opened his infamous abortion mill for the first Saturday in three years, Operation Rescue conducted sidewalk counseling and prayer in below-freezing temperatures.


One couple entered the icy parking lot as sisters from the Myers family sang hymns at the gate. A few minutes later, the couple left the abortion clinic, pausing for some time to consider the images of the aborted babies displayed in front of them on the Truth Truck. Sidewalk counselors report that the woman was overcome with emotion. The couple left and did not return.


We have no doubt that if faithful Christians had stayed home, the outcome for that pre-born child would have been tragic. We thank God for everyone who braved the cold and snow to stand as a testimony to Christ's love!


We rejoice in this change of heart and encourage those in the Kansas area to join Operation Rescue next Saturday, January 5, 2008, to offer help and hope to women who will be considering abortion at Tiller's clinic. This will be the last Saturday that the abortion clinic will be open for the foreseeable future.

St. Francis de Sales on Marriage

"The state of marriage is one which requires more virtue and constancy than any other; it is a perpetual exercise of mortification."

"Married people have need for two kinds of chastity; the one for absolute abstinence, when they are separated . . . the other for moderation."

~ St. Francis de Sales

Feast of the Holy Family


On this special feast day of the Holy Family let us pray that we may emulate their holiness in our own family. Say a prayer dedicating your family to the Holy Family. Pray also for all families and for our country to uphold the sanctity of the marriage bond which is under attack.

Prayer for the Feast of the Holy Family

Dear Lord, bless our family. Be so kind as to give us the unity, peace, and mutual love that You found in Your own family in the little town of Nazareth.

Saint Joseph, bless the head of our family. Obtain for him the strength, the wisdom, and the prudence he needs to support and direct those under his care.

Mother Mary, bless the mother of our family. Help her to be pure and kind, gentle and self-sacrificing. For the more she resembles you, the better will our family be.

Lord Jesus, bless the children of our family. Help them to be obedient and devoted to their parents. Make them more and more like You. Let them grow, as You did, in wisdom and age and grace before God and man. Holy Family of Nazareth, make our family and home more and more like Yours, until we are all one family, happy and at peace in our true home with You. Amen.

For additional prayers to the Holy Family,
go here and here.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

This One Comes "highly recommended"

You can read my most recently published book review on Infinite Space, infinite God by Karina and Robert Fabian here.

You don't have to be a Sci Fi fan to enjoy this one.



The Feast of St. Thomas Becket, Bishop and Martyr


St. Thomas Becket was born in London, England in 1118. His father was a Norman knight, Gilbert, who had become a prosperous merchant in London; his mother was also Norman, and he had at least two sisters.

Thomas was noted for his piety, his strong devotion to Our Lady, and his generosity to the poor. Richly endowed by nature, he was tall, handsome, strong, and athletic, with dark hair, pale complexion and a prominent nose. His sight and hearing were unusually keen, he had an excellent memory, and he was a gifted speaker and debater.

He enjoyed playing field sports as a boy, and as a young man, his energy, his practical ability, and his initiative exceeded his wisdom and his judgment. He was educated at the Merton Priory in Sussex and at the University of Paris.

When he returned to England at twenty-one, he obtained an appointment as a clerk to the sheriff’s court, where he showed great ability. He was determined to make it on his own in the world now that his parents were both deceased.

After three years, he was taken into the household of Theobald, the Norman monk-archbishop of Canterbury. The young Thomas gradually climbed up the ecclesiastical ladder of success via his charm, his generosity and his adaptability. He was ambitious, and refused no opportunity for advancement. He enjoyed having a "good time", but at all times his life was marked by purity and holiness. The archbishop assigned him the post of archdeacon, and, at the age of thirty-six, he was recommended by Theobald to the young King Henry as chancellor.

Henry II was a man of great ability and vigor with a genius for both leadership and organization, however, he was also self-willed, arrogant, demanding, and passionate. He was power-driven and was obsessed with obtaining complete control over every power in his kingdom. As his chancellor, Thomas had a personal fondness for Henry and devoted all his efforts to serve and please the young king. Thomas was very well paid for his work and spent his earnings lavishly on entertainment, luxurious clothing, extravagant meals, and on hunting. He never failed to work hard and act prudently on behalf of the king's interests. There is evidence that during this time he was dissatisfied with himself and his "worldly life".

In 1163, Theobald died, and the king secured the election of his friend, Thomas, as archbishop, confident that he would serve all his interests and meet all his demands. Thomas was reluctant to accept the office, and warned Henry that he might regret his decision. Eventually, he did agree to accept the office and when he did, something unusual happened. Thomas suddenly became an austere and very spiritual man, devoting himself wholly to the interests of the Church. He made it clear that he was now the faithful servant of the Holy Father.

A short time later, the inevitable clash with the king occurred. Henry reasserted all the rights of the monarchy, which had been claimed and exercised fifty years earlier. Since that time, however, the papacy had established the claim of the church to control matters such as the trial of clerics and the excommunication of offenders, and had asserted its right to hear appeals and decide all cases.

The archbishop and his king were in constant conflict, and affairs reached a crisis when the king demanded that Thomas agree to the Constitutions of Clarendon (1164. This document stated that all the customs of the past were now contrary to both the law of the Church and the practice of the papacy. Thomas hesitated, and for a moment gave way, thus breaking the solidarity of the bishops in their resistance. Then, at a council at Northampton in 1164 he reasserted his opposition and in face of threats of death or imprisonment, he escaped at night and crossed to France to seek the pope.

As archbishop, Thomas was in exile in France for the next six years, while he and the king and Pope Alexander III attempted to settle the controversy and restore peace to the church in England. Meanwhile Thomas, at the abbey of Pontigny and elsewhere, devoted himself to prayer and penance in what may be called a 'second conversion' from piety to sanctity.

When an uneasy peace was established in 1169, Thomas returned in triumph to Canterbury. Almost immediately, the King enraged by the archbishop's refusal to withdraw some censures, let words slip out that were taken to be a command to kill the archbishop as a traitor.

On December 29th, 1170, four knights from the court of King Henry II burst into Canterbury Cathedral as the Archbishop was on his way to Vespers. Just inside the cloister door, they murdered Thomas Becket, whose defense of the rights of the Church had angered the King. His last words were: 'I accept death for the name of Jesus and for the Church.'

The murder shocked the conscience of all Europe; miracles were announced immediately; the archbishop was canonized as a martyr by Alexander III in 1173; the king did public penance at his tomb, and much of what St Thomas had worked for all his life was accomplished by his death. Within three years, Thomas was canonized, and the shrine of St. Thomas of Canterbury has become one of the most popular destinations for pilgrims from all over the world.

Patron: Clergy; secular clergy; Exeter College Oxford; Portsmouth, England.

Symbols: Sword through a mitre; pallium and archbishop's cross; battle axe and crosier; red chasuble; altar and sword.Often Portrayed As: Archbishop with a wounded head; archbishop holding an inverted sword; archbishop kneeling before his murderers; archbishop being murdered in church.

The Becket Panel at Wymondham Abbey offers a visual meditation on the life of the Archbishop.

To take an online tour of Canterbury Cathedral go here.

You can sing a reflection with the words and music here.

Read St. Thomas Becket's homily in the cathedral on Christmas morning 1170 excerpted from T.S. Eliot's Murder in the Cathedral.

My Favorite Quotes from St. Thomas Becket:

"Many are needed to plant and water what has been planted now that the faith has spread so far and there are so many people...No matter who plants or waters, God gives no harvest unless what is planted is the faith of Peter and unless he agrees to his teachings."

"Remember the sufferings of Christ, the storms that were weathered...the crown that came from those sufferings which gave new radiance to the faith...All saints give testimony to the truth that without real effort, no one ever wins the crown."

Thomas said this to a friend on his way to ordination: "Hereafter, I want you to tell me, candidly and in secret, what people are saying about me. And if you see anything in me that you regard as a fault, feel free to tell me in private. For from now on, people will talk about me, but not to me. It is dangerous for men in power if no one dares to tell them when they go wrong."

2008 Roe V. Wade Memorial Events

Wichita, KS — Operation Rescue will be sponsoring two local events in Wichita, Kansas, to memorialize the 35th Anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that decriminalized abortion in America.

Remembrance Service Saturday, January 19, 2008 at 7:00 PM 3013 E. Central Avenue, Wichita


This special service of remembrance will be held in Operation Rescue’s new national headquarters, located in the FORMER Central Women’s Services abortion building. Service will feature a dedication of a Memorial to the Pre-born. Please come and remember what God has done in Wichita! Tour the building that has been redeemed for God’s Glory!

35th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade Candlelight Vigil Tuesday, January 22, 2008 from 6- 7 PM Outside Women’s Health Care Services, 5107 E. Kellogg Ave., Wichita


Please come and remember the innocent children whose lives have been sacrificed, and pray with us for an end to abortion. Bring a candle or a flashlight, and your friends and family!

Contact Operation Rescue at 316-634-1037 for more information.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Operation Rescue Demands Board of Healing Arts Reform In Wake Of Overdose Deaths And Abortion Charges

Newman calls Board “actions” too little, too late

(Topeka, Kansas) Operation Rescue is calling for radical reform of the Kansas
State Board of Healing Arts amid scandals involving Board ineptitude in the handling of complaints against a doctor indicted on Federal charges of unlawfully prescribing medication that may have led to 56 overdose deaths and an abortionist charged with multiple counts of violating state laws.

Thursday, the KSBHA recommended that the medical license of Stephen Schneider be suspended since his “continuation in practice constitutes an imminent danger to the public health and safety.” However that recommendation has no timetable for implementation. The Schneider complaint languished at the KSBHA since 2004. The recommendation was issued only after headlines revealed the Federal charges, spurring outrage from legislators over the KSBHA’s glacial pace of operation.

Complaints against abortionist George Tiller, filed in October, 2006, have yet to see action even though Operation Rescue was notified in September that the case was scheduled to go before a “review board.” Tiller was charged with 30 criminal counts related to illegal late-term abortions last December, which were dismissed without being considered on their merits. Two judges ruled there was probable cause to believe Tiller committed those crimes. In June, Tiller was charged with an additional 19 counts of illegal late-term abortions and faces a grand jury investigation slated to begin on January 8. Meanwhile, Tiller continues to operate without restriction.

“Late-term babies continue to die at Tiller’s abortion clinic in spite of laws that should protect them. The charges in both cases should have prompted suspension of licenses long ago,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman. “The system is broken. It seems only public embarrassment can prompt any action out of them. The only way to insure public safety is for a massive overhaul of the Board. We pledge to work with legislators to get this done.”

Operation Rescue calls on the Kansas Legislature to implement the following reforms:

1. The immediate firing of KSBHA Executive Director Larry Burning and Chief Counsel Mark Stafford, who have made endless excuses for Board ineptitude but done nothing but perpetuate the problems.

2. Removal the appointment process from the governor ( currently Kathleen Sebelius) and mandate that future appointments to the KSBHA to be made by a joint legislative committee to avoid cronyism, which has characterized past appointments and created an unsafe medical environment in Kansas.

3. Overhaul the complaint process to include deadlines for various stages of the process, more frequent meetings, more interconnectedness between the KSBHA and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, and a broadening of the Board’s ability to independently investigate suspected problems in the medical community.

Via Operation Rescue.

Friday Highlights and Spiritual Insights

Baby Jesus in the Manger

On This Day in Catholic History

1622 - St. Francis de Sales, Bishop of Geneva, died. (b. 1567)

Birthdays

1763 - John Molson, English-born Canadian brewer (d. 1836)

1842 - Calixa Lavallée, French-Canadian composer (O Canada) (d.1891)

1856 - Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the United States, Nobel laureate (d. 1924)

1922 - Stan Lee, American comic book writer

1932 - Nichelle Nichols, American actress and singer; Her most famous role may be that of communications officer Lieutenant Uhura aboard the USS Enterprise in the popular Star Trek television series.

1954 - Denzel Washington, American actor

1972 - Adam Vinatieri, American football player

Google Earth Gregorian: A Child is Born unto us




Via EJG at God+Tube.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Today's Intercessory Prayers

Today I am praying for the following intentions:

The Holy Father's special intentions.

For Dawn Eden.

For Leticia's prayer request for a premmie baby premie baby named Alanna with Down Syndrome in Crouse Hospital in Syracuse. The hospital is pressuring Alanna's parents to pull the plug.

For continued healing for Christina.

For the repose of the soul of Benazir Bhutto.

For Jackie's special intention for Tony.

For Seminarian Matthew's special intentions.

For Bill's special intentions.

For a renewal of the culture of life in our country.

For world peace, an end to war in the Mideast, and the safety of our military.

For all the prayer intentions at One Came Back.

For all previous prayers intentions mentioned here and for the special intentions of all my readers.

Image: Our Father...

Catholic Carnival 152 Merry Christmas One and All

is up and is being hosted by the delightful and entertaining Ebeth at A Catholic Mom Climbing the Pillars.


Check it out here.

Image via Ebeth.

Thursday Highlights and Spiritual Insights

Image: Gloria in Excelsis Deo

Feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist

Today's Mass Readings

The Third Day of Christmas

Christmas Meditation: A New Birth for Each One of Us

On This Day in Catholic History

1944 - Sister Sara Salkahazi was killed by the Arrow Cross, the Hungarian allies of the Nazis, for hiding Jews in a Budapest building used by her religious order, the Sisters of Social Service. In 2006 she was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI.

1983 - Pope John Paul II pardoned Mehmet Ali Agca, the man who shot him. The Pope visited Mehmet Ali Agca at Rome’s Rebibbia prison and personally pardoned him for the 1981 assassination attempt.

1994 - Four Roman Catholic priests, three French and a Belgian, were shot to death in their rectory in Algiers, a day after French commandos killed four radicals who had hijacked an Air France jet from Algiers to Marseille.

Birthdays

1717 - Pope Pius VI (d. 1799)

1822 - Louis Pasteur, French scientist (d. 1895)

1896 - Louis Bromfield, American writer (d. 1956)

1901 - Marlene Dietrich, German actress and singer (d. 1992)

1906 - Oscar Levant, American pianist, composer, and actor (d. 1972)

1956 - Karen Hughes, Republican politician from the state of Texas. She served as the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs in the U.S. Department of State with the rank of ambassador.

1976 - Fernando Pisani, Canadian/Italian ice hockey player

1983 - Cole Hamels, American baseball player

A Christmas Meditation

Each year Christmas is for us a feast of unity with the Father, of unity with the Holy Spirit, and of unity with the Word Made Flesh. It is this presence of her child, her God, that took hold of Mary and plunged her into an immense thanksgiving, for God was accomplishing marvels in her in giving Himself completely to her, as a little child is completely given and completely relative to His mother. Mary is mother in a stronger and more profound way than all other mothers (this is the summit of maternity), in the sense that her son, her little child, is given to her by the Holy Spirit and resembles her in a unique way. He is all hers, and He gives her the light which allows her to gaze upon Him, to contemplate Him, and to be wholly absorbed by His presence and by His silence.

Let us ask Mary that we, too, be absorbed by this presence and this silence that we belong wholly to Jesus and that this feast of the Nativity be a great grace for us, a new starting point in our complete gift to Him, this gift that has something of the eternal about it and is constantly renewed if our life is totally given. For it is Jesus Himself who takes possession of our whole heart, of our whole self. Beloved Son of the Father, entirely turned towards the Father. And He desires that during this approach to Christmas each of us be absorbed by His birth in a new way, so that we might be entirely turned toward the Father, thanking Him for giving us His beloved Son in such a poor and humble way, in order that we ourselves may be transformed by Him.

~ Fr. Marie - Dominique Philippe, OP, Philosophy Professor, Founder of the Community of St. John


Image: Blessed Mother and Christ Child

Happy Feast Day of St. John the Apostle!


Today is the feast day of my Community -- the feast of St. John, the Apostle. St. John is also my patron saint and the saint I try most to emulate in my daily life.

St. John, a fisherman, the son of Zebedee, and the brother of St. James the Great, was called to be an Apostle by our Lord in the first year of His public ministry, and he travelled everywhere with Him.

St. John is known as the Beloved Disciple, the Apostle of Love. Why was he identified in this way? John loved Jesus greatly, and he demonstrated a meek, mild, tender, humble, and peaceable disposition that made him very much like Our Lord himself. Also, his singular privilege of chastity, his virginal purity rendered him worthy of this more particular love.

As St. Augustine explains, "He was chosen by our Lord, a virgin, and he always remained such. Christ was pleased to choose a virgin for his mother, a virgin for his precursor, and a virgin for his favorite disciple. His church suffers only those who live perfectly chaste to serve Him in His priesthood, where they daily touch and offer His virginal flesh upon the altar."

At the Last Supper, Jesus allowed John to rest upon His breast. John is the one apostle who never abandoned Jesus, but stayed by Him to the very end. John was the only Apostle present at the Crucifixion and stood at the foot of His cross. It is there that Jesus entrusted His mother to the care of His friend. Consequently, John took Mary into his home, loved her, and cared for her as if she were his own mother.

Upon hearing of the Resurrection, he was the first to reach the tomb; when he met the risen Lord at the lake of Tiberias, he was the first to recognize Him.

St. John spent his later life in Jerusalem and at Ephesus. He founded many churches in Asia Minor. He wrote the fourth Gospel, and three Epistles, and the Book of Revelation is also attributed to him. Brought to Rome, tradition relates that he was by order of Emperor Dometian cast into a cauldron of boiling oil but came forth unhurt and was banished to the island of Pathmos for a year. He lived to an extreme old age, surviving all his fellow apostles, and died at Ephesus about the year 100.


St. John's Teachings

Here is what our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, had to say about St. John's teachings in his General audience for 09/08/06:

If there is one characteristic topic that emerges from John's writings, it is love… John, of course, is not the only author of Christian origin to speak of love. Since this is an essential constituent of Christianity, all the New Testament writers speak of it, although with different emphases. If we are now pausing to reflect on this subject in John, it is because he has outlined its principal features insistently and incisively. We therefore trust his words.

One thing is certain: he does not provide an abstract, philosophical or even theological treatment of what love is. No, he is not a theoretician. True love, in fact, by its nature is never purely speculative but makes a direct, concrete and even verifiable reference to real persons. Well, John, as an Apostle and a friend of Jesus, makes us see what its components are, or rather, the phases of Christian love.

The first concerns the very Source of love, which the Apostle identifies as God, arriving at the affirmation that "God is love" (1Jn 4,8; 16). John is the only New Testament author who gives us definitions of God. He says, for example, that "God is spirit" (Jn 4,24) or that "God is light" (1Jn 1,5). Here he proclaims with radiant insight that "God is love". Take note: it is not merely asserted that "God loves", or even less that "love is God"! In other words: John does not limit himself to describing the divine action but goes to its roots. Moreover, he does not intend to attribute a divine quality to a generic and even impersonal love. He does not rise from love to God, but turns directly to God to define his nature with the infinite dimension of love. By so doing, John wants to say that the essential constituent of God is love and hence, that all God's activity is born from love and impressed with love: all that God does, he does out of love and with love, even if we are not always immediately able to understand that this is love, true love.

Prayer to Saint John the Evangelist

O Glorious Saint John, you were so loved by Jesus that you merited to rest your head upon his breast, and to be left in his place as a son to Mary. Obtain for us an ardent love for Jesus and Mary. Let me be united with them now on earth and forever after in heaven.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Today's Intercessory Prayers


Today during my Holy Hour in Eucharistic Adoration I prayed for the following intentions: (Please feel free to join me in praying for these special intentions.)
For the special intentions of the Holy Father.
For the priests, brothers, and seminarians I have spiritually adopted and for all deacons, that they will emulate St. Stephen in his strong faith and love of the Lord.
For the special intentions of Fr. J.M.
That our country and our world will show, through their actions, a deep respect for the sanctity of all human life.
For the closing of all abortion mills, especially Tiller's late - term abortion mill in Wichita.
For world peace and the safety of our military.
For those who are suffering in any way that God will fill them with His peace and comfort and give them the graces to to persevere on the path that He is leading them.
For Linda W. and Sue who are both in advanced stages of cancer.
For John, the father of 10, who is in the hospital with a brain aneurysm and just had another heart attack.
For Mike and Michael that God will guide them and lead them Home.
For special blessings for Maureen and Henry.
For M., who committed suicide, and for healing for his grieving family.
For the healing for W.H., who is recovering from surgery.
For Susan and Heinz, whose 14 - year - old cat passed away on Christmas Day.
For all the special intentions at One Came Back.
For Bill's special intentions.
For the intentions of all my readers.

Happy Birthday!


Have a beautiful birthday, Esther!
Praying for many blessings for you!



Wednesday Highlights and Spiritual Insights


Image: Mater Mea

Today's Spiritual Quote
: "The Church is not our way of finding answers to our religious quest for the Truth; it is the method through which the Truth becomes humanly present to us."

On This Day in Catholic History


1948 - Cardinal Mindszenty was arrested in Hungary and accused of treason and conspiracy.

2006 - The Vatican called on retired Bishop Fernando Lugo to give up his plans to run for Paraguay's presidency or face canonical sanctions. Lugo said he had already resigned from the priesthood to lead a planned opposition alliance and challenge conservative President Nicanor Duarte of the Colorado Party in elections scheduled for May 2008.

Birthdays


1914 - Richard Widmark, American actor

1921 - Steve Allen, American comedian (d. 2000)

1927 - Alan King, American comedian (d. 2004)

1927 - Stu Miller, baseball player

1940 - Ray Sadecki, Major league baseball pitcher

1947 - Carlton Fisk, American baseball player

1954 - Ozzie Smith, American baseball player

1979 - Chris Daughtry, American singer

St. Stephen, First Deacon and First Martyr

St. Stephen was the first deacon as well as the first Christian martyr. All that we know of him is contained in the Acts of the Apostles, chapters 6 and 7. In Acts 6:5 seven men were selected and specially ordained by the Apostles to take care of the temporal relief of the poorer members. Of these seven, Stephen, is the first deacon mentioned and the best known. The Church had, by selecting him for a deacon, publicly acknowledged him as a man "of good reputation, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom" (Acts 6:3). He was "a man full of faith, and of the Holy Ghost" (vi, 5), "full of grace and fortitude."

Certain Jews, members of the Synagogue of Roman Freedmen, debated with Stephen but proved no match for the wisdom and spirit with which he spoke. They persuaded others to make the charge of blasphemy against him. He was seized and carried before the Sanhedrin.

Stephen spoke to the crowd and recalled the mercies of God towards Israel during its long history and of the ungratefulness by which, throughout, Israel repaid these mercies. “[Y]ou always oppose the holy Spirit; you are just like your ancestors” (Acts 7:51b). His speech provoked the anger of his audience.

But "[Stephen], filled with the holy Spirit, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and he said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God....’ They dragged him out of the city, and began to stone him....As they were stoning Stephen, he called out, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit....Lord, do not hold this sin against them’” (Acts 7:55-56, 58a, 59, 60b). Little did all the people present, casting stones upon him, realize that the blood they shed was the first seed of a harvest that was to cover the world.

Stephen's supposed tomb was discovered by a man named Lucian in 415, which spread his cult when his relics were taken to Constantinople and Rome. Some of these relics included some of the stones that killed him.

St. Stephen's name means "crown," and he was the first disciple of Jesus to receive the martyr's crown. He is the Patron saint of: coffin makers, deacons, headaches, horses, masons, stone masons, Germany, Owensboro, Kentucky, and Prato, Italy.

Read Pope John Paul II's 2003 Angelus Message for the Feast of St. Stephen.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Interview with Author Michael D. O'Brien on his new Novel - The Island of the World


A Sequel to the Best Seller Fr. Elijah is Being Contemplated

Q. Tell us about the story to give readers a sense of it.

O'Brien: The Island of the World is the story of a child born in 1933 into the turbulent world of the Balkans and tracing his life into the third millennium. The central character is Josip Lasta, the son of an impoverished school teacher in a remote village high in the mountains of the Bosnian interior. As the novel begins, World War II is underway and the entire region of Yugoslavia is torn by conflicting factions: German and Italian occupying armies, and the rebel forces that resist them - the fascist Ustashe, Serb nationalist Chetniks, and Communist Partisans. As events gather momentum, hell breaks loose, and the young and the innocent are caught in the path of great evils. Their only remaining strength is their religious faith and their families.

Q. Is this primarily a historical novel, or perhaps a political one?

O'Brien: No, it is neither, though of course history and politics play important roles in the story. Its primary focus is on persons, dramatized through the life of a person, a soul. However, the history that is part of the plot recounts accurately what happened, and as such the book may be somewhat controversial. For more than a century, the confused and highly inflammatory history of former-Yugoslavia has been the subject of numerous books, many of them rife with revisionist history and propaganda. The peoples of the Balkans live on the border of three worlds: the Islamic, the Orthodox Slavic East, and Catholic Europe, and as such they stand in the path of major world conflicts that are not only geo-political but fundamentally spiritual. This novel cuts to the core question: how does a person retain his identity, indeed his humanity, in any absolutely dehumanizing situation?

MORE from LifeSiteNews.Com

Related Post: Wednesday, December 19, 2007, New Movie Project: Fr. Elijah

A Blessed Christmas to You!


Jesus is the Light of the World


"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world."

~ John 1: 1 - 9

May His light warm your heart and fill it with the peace of His presence and the joy of His love this Christmas and throughout the New Year!

Christmas Midnight Mass






It has always been a tradition in my family to celebrate Christmas at Midnight Mass. Our parish church is so beautifully decorated I wanted to share the beauty with you. The large Fontanini nativity set is my favorite.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Beautiful Christmas Music!



Christmas special 1987 Julie Andrews, Placido Domingo in Salzburg Austria, where he sings a beautiful rendition of 'O Holy Night'.




Julie Andrews, Christmas 1987, with Placido Domingo, and the late, lamented, John Denver. Lovely Salzburg, Austria, plus The Domingo family. Listen to the entire medley to hear it all - it's just gorgeous!

CHRISTMAS EVE REFLECTION



Luke 2: 1 - 14

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town.

And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.

While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear.

The angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger."

And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."


Reflection

Everything works together to deepen the mystery of this new presence in the solitude of Christmas night, making it more intimate, more divine. Joseph and Mary's outward poverty is, as it were, the guardian of this mystery. If Joseph and Mary had looked like they were rich, people would have made room for them in the inn because of Mary's condition. They would have turned out other less important guests; they would have found a way to keep them and the mystery of the birth of Jesus would no longer have this solitude and silence. It would have happened in the midst of noise. This is not the way in which God visits our earth! On the contrary, poverty must prepare the way and push aside all those who seek only earthly possessions, all those who think only of settling on earth.

When it comes to the mystery of the Incarnate Word's first visit to this world, poverty has done its job so well that there is no one left except Mary and Joseph. When poverty is loved and accepted, there is true solitude. It is this solitude of Mary and Joseph that Jesus comes to live, and to reveal, to give, and to surrender Himself.

~ From The Daily Gospel with Fr. Philippe, OP (Priest, Philosophy Professor, Founder of the Community of St. John) compiled by the Sisters of of St. John

Sunday, December 23, 2007

What's Your Personality Type?

You Are An ENFJ

The Giver

You strive to maintain harmony in relationships, and usually succeed.
Articulate and enthusiastic, you are good at making personal connections.
Sometimes you idealize relationships too much - and end up being let down.
You find the most energy and comfort in social situations ... where you shine.

In love, you are very protective and supporting.
However, you do need to "feel special" - and it's quite easy for you to get jealous.

At work, you are a natural leader. You can help people discover their greatest potential.
You would make a good writer, human resources director, or psychologist.

How you see yourself: Trusting, idealistic, and expressive

When other people don't get you, they see you as: Bossy, inappropriate, and loud


I found this on Margaret Mary's blog and it has been awhile since I have taken this. At least it seems somewhat reliable - I am the same type I was when I last took this test. The only thing I question here is "loud" - that part doesn't sound at all like me.

My 4th Blogiversary


Today is my 4th anniversary of blogging. In commemoration of this special occasion, I would like to share my joy with all those who read my blog. These roses are for you with my thanks and gratitude for stopping by to visit.

Sunday Highlights and Spiritual Insights



Fourth Sunday of Advent

Today's Mass Readings

Advent Meditation with Video

Today is Day Eight of the Christmas Novena.

On This Day in Catholic History

1988 - Pope John Paul II met with Yasser Arafat at the Vatican. The pontiff told the PLO leader he believed Palestinians and Jews had "an identical fundamental right" to their own countries but that both must reject violence, including terrorism and reprisals.

Birthdays

1582 - Severo Bonini, an Italian composer, organist and Benedictine monk, (d. 1663)

1935 - Paul Hornung, American football player (Notre Dame)

1938 - Bob Kahn, American Internet pioneer

1971 - Steve Stenstrom, American football quarterback

Advent Meditation with Music Video Illustration



Gospel: Matthew 1:18 - 24

When the angel says, "For that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit", he is underlining the fact that she obeyed the will of God, and that her relationship with Joseph remains the same. It is not she who chose to be Mother of God -- God chose this for her, and she accepted it. The angel, therefore, allows Joseph to receive Mary and to love her in a new way but which is nonetheless in continuity with His first love for her.... "She shall bear a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus." Each of these words from the angel carries weight and allows us to understand the role that God is giving to Joseph. Naming a new-born child is something that comes under the authority of the father, and in doing this the father acts as God's instrument; for, to name a tiny child is surely to point him already in a certain direction. And we are told how Joseph is to name the child: "You shall call His name, Jesus, for it is He who shall save His people from their sins."


~ From The Daily Gospel with Fr. Philippe, OP (Priest, Philosophy Professor, Founder of the Community of St. John) compiled by the Sisters of of St. John

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Welcome Home, Tony!


Former British prime minister Tony Blair has converted from Britain's established church, Anglicanism, to Roman Catholicism.

Today's Intercessory Prayers



Lord, You are the joy and the peace of all who hope in You.
Shower us with Your graces, Lord, and hear our prayer.

King of peace, send your spirit upon those who rule,
so that they take special care for the poor and destitute.
Shower us with Your graces, Lord, and hear our prayer.


Lord, Light of our lives, fill the hearts of all Your people with hope during this holy season and draw all Your children to Your tender and merciful heart. Bring Your children home to You - both those who have drifted away from You and those who do not know You.

Shower us with Your graces, Lord, and hear our prayer.

For all those who are sick, those in nursing homes, in hospitals, or imprisoned, show them Your love and compassion.

Shower us with Your graces, Lord, and hear our prayer.

Lord, we pray for healing for Leticia's daughter, Christina, who is in the hospital with double - pneumonia. We also lift up her parents and family for peace and comfort.

Console those who are treated unjustly and those who suffer from discrimination due to age, disability, religion, race, and status, that they may win recognition of their rights and dignity. Shower us with Your graces, Lord, and hear our prayer.

We pray today, especially for those who are most discriminated against in our society today -- the innocent and voiceless unborn -- that the senseless killing of the innocents will cease and the right to life will be granted to all.

Shower us with Your graces, Lord, and hear our prayer.
For my brother, Michael, a single parent, and his son, for a special intention this Christmas Season.

For my dh Bill's special intentions.

For those priests and seminarians we have spiritually adopted, for their special intentions.

For all those who are most in need of our prayers.

For all the prayer requests at One Came Back.

For all previous prayer intentions mentioned here and for those of all my readers.

Advent Meditation: Let's Sing Our Magnificat



Throughout her whole life Mary lived in an attitude of gratefulness and thanksgiving. Her Magnificat burst forth in the presence of Elizabeth, but it was ever present in her soul. Mary lived in such poverty that she always recognized God's free gift of love for her. If we were poorer, if we had a greater sense of our littleness, of our poverty, and if we recognized that everything is free, that the Lord has given everything to us, then we would more often be in an attitude of gratefulness. We would always look at Jesus, thanking Him for being there, for loving us, and for gathering us into His love. We should always be thanking Jesus, thanking Mary for protecting us and for keeping us faithful to responding to His love.

Let us ask the Holy Spirit to give us this attitude of thanksgiving with Mary, our Mother, so that with her, we can always sing our Magnificat.

~ ~ From the Daily Gospel with Fr. Philippe, OP (Priest, Philosophy Professor, Founder of the Community of St. John) compiled by the Sisters of of St. John,

Friday, December 21, 2007

Angelic Music

Seraphim - Ave Maria (Gregorian)




Listen to the angelic harmony of Seraphim as they sing the Gregorian rendition of Ave Maria. This selection is from their new Marian album entitled "Hail, Queen of Heaven" which is produced by David Phillips.

What Christmas Tree Are You?

You Are a Cranberry and Popcorn Strung Tree

Christmas is all about showcasing your creative talents.
From cookies to nicely wrapped presents, your unique creations impress everyone.

Server Problems (Update)

I have been having some connectivity problems with my Internet server and a technician won't be able to come out for awhile, so please bear with me. I will continue posting as often as possible, but instead of high speed internet, it's more like I have dial-up, so it's been taking twice as long to post things and to edit my posts. Also, when this blasted thing froze up on me yesterday for the umpteenth time, I turned it off and lost some of your comments. I have switched things to another server address, so feel free to post any comments that you don't see published. I apologize for any incovenience. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Update: The technician was here yesterday and replaced our modem -- it seems that there was a recall on that type of modem. I also added something from google to speed things up on the Internet, so things are going more smoothly now. Thanks for the your patience.

Friday Highlights and Spiritual Insights

O' Antiphons~December 21 From: EJGcatholi



O'Dayspring, Brightness of the everlasting light, Son of justice, come to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death!

Optional Memorial of St. Peter Canisius, priest and doctor

Read my post on St. Peter Canisius, priest and doctor, which includes a brief bio, quotes, and a prayer here.

Today's Mass Readings

Today is Day Six of the Christmas Novena.

On This Day in Catholic History

1118 - Thomas Becket, Lord Chancellor of England and Archbishop of Canterbury was born. (d. 1170)

1597 Peter Canisius (b. 8 May 1521), Dutch-born Roman Catholic reformer, died.

Birthdays

1401 - Tommaso Masaccio, Catholic Italian painter (d. 1428)

1872 - Don Lorenzo Perosi, Catholic Italian composer of Sacred Music (d. 1956)

1892 - Rebecca West, English journalist and novelist (d. 1983)

1915 - Werner von Trapp, member of the Trapp Family Singers (d. 2007)

1922 - Paul Winchell, American ventriloquist (d. 2005)

1954 - Chris Evert, American tennis player

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Juno, The Movie: A Film to See

Juno is back in the news again now that it's getting closer to the release date, which is Christmas. The film critics love it. Roger Ebert, of the Chicago Sun Times has this t0 say about it: "Jason Reitman's "Juno" is just about the best movie of the year. It is very smart, very funny and very touching; it begins with the pacing of a screwball comedy and ends as a portrait of characters we have come to love. Strange, how during Juno's hip dialogue and cocky bravado, we begin to understand the young woman inside, and we want to hug her."

Jill Stanek has an updated review of it here. She calls it "the film pro-aborts will hate."

Previous Post with video: Juno, The Movie

Celebrity Jamie Lynn Spears Makes Decision to Keep Baby

Jamie Lynne Spears, the 16 - year - old sister of Britney Spears, has announced that to OK! Magazine she's pregnant, and has decided to keep her baby.

As to her decision, Spears told OK! "I think my whole life I would have to live with knowing what I did or what I didn't do."

Spears discouraged sex before marriage saying, "I definitely don't think it's something you should do; it's better to wait. But I can't be judgmental because it's a position I put myself in.

But, she is ready to live up to the consequences of her actions. "I'm the one who has to live with it for the rest of my life," she says. "I put myself in this position, an adult position, so I have to act like an adult and take responsibility for what I did."

Get the whole scoop at LifeSiteNews.Com and learn the reactions of Georgette Forney, director of Silent No More. To read the interview at Ok Magazine, go here.

Thursday Highlights and Spiritual Insights



Video: O' Antiphons~December 20 via EJGcatholi at Love To Be Catholic.

Thursday of the Third Week of Advent

Today is the fourth of the O Antiphons. O sublime majesty of the coming Redeemer! To Him has been delivered the key, the government of the house of David (Is 22:22). Boundless is His power over the graces and privileges of the Church, over the souls and hearts and the wills of men. He holds the destiny of the Church in the palm of His hand. He is Master of the storms that arise to destroy the Church and the souls committed to her. He is capable of dealing with the false principles and the errors that threaten her doctrines. He has overcome the devil and his associates, the world, the flesh and its tribulations. To Him all power is given (Matt. 28:18). "He shall open and none shall shut" (Is 22:22). Against the power that is His all other forces are powerless. The destiny of souls and the government of the Church are placed in His hand. He is the Lord of all. O Key of David, I believe in Thy power; and in the many difficult situations that confront the Church and my own soul, I place my trust in Thee.

~Via Catholic Culture.

Today's Mass Readings

Today is Day Five of the Christmas Novena.

Advent Meditation: Fr. Philippe, O.P.

On This Day in Catholic History

107 - Ignatius of Antioch, third bishop of Antioch, was martyred, according to tradition, under Trajan and is commemorated on this date (b. ca. 35).

2002 - Pope John Paul II brought Mother Teresa (d.1997) closer to sainthood when he approved a miracle attributed to the nun.

Birthdays

1629 - Pieter de Hooch, Dutch painter (d. 1684)

1868 - Harvey Firestone, American automobile pioneer (d. 1938)

1881 - Branch Rickey, baseball executive (d. 1965)

1898 - Irene Dunn, a Catholic American actress and singer of the 1930s and 1940s, nominated 5 times for the Best Actress Oscar; ( Cimarron (1931), It Happened One Night (1934), Theodora Goes Wild (1936), Love Affair (1939) I Remember Mama (1948), (d. 1990).

1918 - Jean Marchand, French Canadian trade unionist and politician (d. 1988)

1932 - John Hillerman, American actor; nominated for Golden Globe Awards for Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV in 1982, 1983, 1985, 1987 and 1988 for his role in Magnum, P.I. He won the award in 1982.

1944 - Bobby Colomby, American musician (Blood, Sweat & Tears)

1949 - Cecil Cooper, Major League baseball player

1982 - David Wright, an All-Star Third Baseman in Major League Baseball who plays for the New York Mets.

Advent Meditation: Fr. Philippe, O.P.

Gospel: Lk 1:26 - 38

When the angel speaks to Mary, she is "greatly troubled", anxious, but this is so she may receive these words with a totally new heart ... to be as little as possible before the Father, before the Will of the Father for her. She doesn't argue, Mary must teach us this littleness.

To perfectly observe all the rules is fine, but we want to have the heart of a child, instead of seeking and measuring our perfection. Our perfection is not so much! We must be like little children, always starting afresh, and live by the Word of God. God's Word allows us to be truly children of God totally docile to what He is expecting from us. Let us consider the docility of the Virgin Mary: she does not look at her perfection. It is very beautiful to see the Holy Virgin as a very little child before the Father, with only one desire: to fulfill perfectly what the Father requires from her and not her own project. Mary has no project: she is too poor, too little, she is too much in the hands of God to have a project for her own life. Let us ask Mary for a faith that will allow us to be very little before the Father's Will for us, that we may respond fully and totally to His Will.

~ From the Daily Gospel with Fr. Philippe, OP (Priest, Philosophy Professor, Founder of the Community of St. John) compiled by the Sisters of of St. John, 2007
Posted by Jean M.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

New Movie Project: Fr. Elijah

Another movie project has been announced. This one is based on the Michael O'Brien book, Father Elijah. I love this book and I'm looking forward to the movie. Michael O'Brien is one of my favorite writers and I have envisioned his books as movies for some time now. If it's done well, we can expect to see a spectacular film soon.


H/T to Marcel at Aggie Catholic.

Lucky Seven Meme

T.O. at LAMLand tagged me with the Lucky Seven Meme.
The rules are as follows:

1) Link to the person that tagged you, and post the rules on your blog.

2) Share 7 facts about yourself that you think most people don't know.

3) Tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.

Wow, after blogging for nearly four years now, there probably isn't much left to tell about myself, but here goes...

1. In the winter, I love eating gingerbread with a dollop of frozen non-fat vanilla yogurt on top and enjoy drinking peppermint or spearmint tea with it.

2. I love to dress up at Christmas time and wear my green velvet three piece ensemble - with a sleeveless, sparkly top, a long sleeved jacket, and a long skirt, with jewelry. This is one of the few times of the year I wear jewelry. (I typically wear my miraculous medal with my scapular rather than any jewelry.)

3. About 14 years ago, I sang in three music groups in my former diocese.

4. My favorite books at age 12 were: (1) St. Augustine's Confessions and (2) The Agnostic.

5. As a junior in high school, I wanted to be a Spanish interpreter for the U.N. If that didn't work out, I wanted to be a professional writer.

6. In high school, I had an English pen pal and a Japanese pen pal.

7. My cat sleeps at the foot of the bed, usually near or on top of my feet at night. If I get up, she does, too.

I tag:

Deb

Leticia

Elena

Ebeth

Sarah

Denise

Marcia

Blogging Blessings



Deb of UKOK's Place has come up with a wonderful way to express appreciation for other bloggers.

I have been blessed by Deb and now it's my turn to bless three bloggers.

The idea… it’s a game of tag with a difference, rather than looking inwardly, we look outside ourselves and bless, praise and pray for one blog friend. By participating in this endeavour we not only make the recipient of the blessing feel valued and appreciated, but we are having some fun too. We’re going to see how far the blogging blessings can travel around the world and how many people can be blessed! Recipients of a blogging blessing may upload the above image to their sidebar if they choose to. To read more about the blogging blessings go here.

I bless Margaret Mary, Donna Marie, and Therese because just knowing them is a blessing to me. Each of them are kind, warm, loving ladies who live out their faith in their daily lives. Deb, I would have chosen you, too, but Esther beat me to the punch and blessed you first. Well, I can assure you that you're in my daily prayers for blessings. There are other bloggers I would like to select to be blessed, too, but I will try to be good and stay within the limits.

Here is my prayer for Margaret Mary, Donna Marie, and Therese:

May the blessing of almighty God, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, come down upon you and remain with you forever (and may Our Blessed Mother Mary protect you with her mantle of peace, joy, and love.) Amen.
Now, it's your turn to:

a) bless 3 blog buddies each.

b) Include the ‘God Bless you’ image in their post.

c) Explain briefly why you selected the people you are blessing.

d) pray/include in the post the prayer for the recipients of the blessing.

e)Then type in the com box of Deb's post that a blessing has been sent to the three you have chosen to bless so we can keep track of how many blessings are being given.

Thanks for playing!