Category Archives: Being Catholic
My thoughts on life, the universe, and everything, through my 23-year-old, home schooled, joyfully Catholic eyes.
We’ve all seen it.
It hangs there, day and night, so patient and so faithful.
Maybe one day… it will think.
Maybe one day, she will pick me up and pray with me.
Yep, it’s that rosary you have hung on your rearview mirror.
While I’m quite aware the a rosary is an inanimate object devoid of feelings, thoughts, and emotion, the Mother you connect with when you pray her rosary is anything but. I’m just as guilty as the rest: I get in my car every day, and almost always I look right past my Mother’s roses to see what this world has for me, and what I’ll need to dodge to get to work in one piece.
But really, how hard would it be to reach that short distance between the steering wheel and the mirror and offer your mother a decade as you work your way through rush hour traffic? If you’re like me, you likely reach up there anyway to last-minute adjust the view before you take off. And if you make it a habit, maybe you’ll even become a kinder, less aggressive driver!
No one can calm you and protect you like a mother, and Mother Mary is the best of the best.
See you on the road!
“This is the night…”
This phrase is repeated frequently in the Exultet, the Easter proclamation, at the Easter Vigil Mass:
“This is the night when first you saved our fathers…
This is the night when the pillar of fire destroyed the darkness of sin!..
“This is the night when Christians everywhere … are restored to grace and grow together in holiness…
“This is the night when Jesus Christ broke the chains of death and rose triumphant from the grave.”
It goes on to sing of light, THE Light, Jesus Christ, the Light of the World.
The Vigil Mass begins outside where the Easter Fire is lit, blessed, and used to light the Paschal (Easter) Candle. This candle is symbolic of the Light of Christ, and as it is processed into the Church, we hear chanted “Behold the Light of Christ!” to which we respond, “Thanks be to God!” (The entire Easter Vigil is froth with ceremony, meaning and reason behind that ceremony, symbols, and realities. I wish I could delve into each facet of this stunning liturgy, but for simplicity’s sake, we’ll stick with the candle.)
The Paschal Candle from my parish – beautiful!
Each member of the faithful always has a small taper candle that is also lit from the Easter Fire via the Paschal Candle. The servers lit their tapers from the Paschal Candle and lit a few of the congregation’s candles. We then started sharing among ourselves, and the “Light of Christ” grew as it spread among His people! As we processed into the Church and the light continued to grow, a few things came to mind. First, we had to be willing to share our Light in order for everyone’s candle to be lit. Second, we had to be willing to receive Light from others, or our own would stay dark. Third, we had to protect our flame; walking too fast or a strong breeze would extinguish it.
I was blessed to attend this Mass with two of my most precious friends – Brianna and Mary.
Bri, Mary, and I arrived early to get a good seat, and waited anxiously for our candles to be lit by the Paschal Candle.
New Easter Fire! JOY!
When the Exultet was chanted, I was struck by the part towards the end talking about our candles, and the Paschal Candle. (If you would like to pray the entire Exultet, it may be found here.)
Let [this candle’s light] mingle with the lights of Heaven
and continue bravely burning
to dispel the darkness of this night!
May the Morning Star which never sets
find this flame still burning:
Christ, that Morning Star,
who came back from the dead,
and shed His peaceful light on all mankind,
Your Son, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
“Mingle with the lights of Heaven…” We’re a part of Something, SomeONE, much bigger than ourselves. We are a part of the Mystical Body of Christ! Our light DOES mingle with those of Heaven! The unity we have in Christ is expressed in simple fire. The flame is very much symbolic of our Faith, also. We must give of ours to others, learn from the faith of others, and guard our own faith fiercely, lest it be extinguished by the gales and storms of this life. Also, as Christ said in Matthew 5, we are not to hid our lights, but set them out to be SEEN by others! We are to give LIGHT to our surroundings!
Also, I noticed the word ‘bravely’ was used in relation to the flame’s fidelity to burning. It does take bravery to live a life of Faith before the scorn of the world. And be willing to face the scornful with love, and offer your flame to them! And may each of us guard and spread our light until the Morning Star, the Light of the World, Jesus Christ returns to claim His own! Take this Easter Fire, and Go Light Your World!
A happy, holy, and blessed Easter to you and yours!! Rejoice in the Lord!
He is risen!
He is risen indeed!
Ever heard that saying, “You are the only Bible some people will ever read?”
Well, sad as it may be that more people don’t read Scripture, it’s true. I confess to not reading nearly as much as I ought to, but the excuse I give my Spiritual Director is that I get plenty of the good stuff at daily Mass. (I mean after all, 4,591% of the Mass is a direct quote from Scripture, and the parts that aren’t allude to it!)
I had a pretty stark sip of reality last Thursday (can’t say that I recommend the stuff…tastes like tar…), and I realized how true that old saying is. My dear friend Brianna (to whom I just realized I owe a blog post or five) was telling me about a conversation with a coworker. Bri had just passively made the comment that she’d be clocking out early Friday so that arrangements could be made for her absence. Now Bri, much like myself, is pretty obviously NOT the go-out-get-wasted-on-the-weekends type, so her short workday at the end of the week caused a slight arousal of curiosity. Bri shared that she’d be going to Good Friday Services (yes, it IS a service… it’s the only day of the year there is NOT Mass in the Catholic Church), then staying in town to see Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” with students from the local University. Her coworker went on to ask what the story was, anyway. She’d never heard it.
Once Bri got over the shock at meeting someone in EAST TEXAS (aka, the “Bible Belt”) who’d not heard the story, she invited her to come along.
After talking about it together, I realized that the way Brianna lived and worked was giving a beautiful testimony to her Faith in Christ and His Church. She was the Word of God that her coworker could read.
When we write the Word of God on our hearts, and most importantly, LIVE like its written there, we are being missionaries to a spiritually third-world country. I think we ought to follow the beautiful example of Mother Teresa to serve the poor on our street and at our door: the Poor in Spirit.
“It has been made manifest that YOU are the Epistle of Christ, ministered by us, and written down, not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, and not on tablets of stone, but on the fleshly tablets of the HEART.” 2 Corinthians 3:3 (emphasis added)
I go to daily Mass whenever I can, and last Monday was no exception. Mass was business as usual (as ‘usual’ as the Mass ever is – it’s Heaven on earth!). Right before we moved to the Altar to receive Communion, the lady’s phone began to ring in the pew ahead of me. She frantically tried to fish the offending technology out of her purse to silence it, but by the time she dug it out the ringtone had run its course. It made me smile to hear the tune it played: “When the Saints go Marching In.” While the poor lady reddened, I began to consider the comparison between the cheerful melody we just heard and the action we were about to do. We were about to march up to the altar and partake in the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. As Mother Angelica of EWTN is fond of reminding the faithful, we are all called to be saints. The “saints-in-the-making” at Mass that day were marching in to meet Jesus Christ, the Ultimate Saint-Making Machine.
I shared this thought with the phone’s owner after Mass, and she seemed pleased that God used her phone’s lack of manners to move a heart closer to sainthood.
Pretty church in the picture, right? … Can you tell what the windows are? … Yeah, I can’t either…
Stained glass is pretty interesting stuff. You have to see it with light behind it to see any of the beauty. Otherwise, it’s just confusing dark shapes with no seeming pattern or order to them. When the light is in the right spot though… WOW! They’re gorgeous!! No other window can even come close!
When we act apart from Christ, confusion is about the best we get… But! When we act with the Light of Christ behind us, it’s gorgeous! Just like no other window can compare to a stained glass window, so too no ordinary life can compare to a saintly life! And if you think a simple stained glass window is pretty stunning, there is no comparison between it, and a life lived for Christ.
A little Irish boy in Catechism class, when asked what a saint was, pointed at a stained glass window of St. Patrick, and said, “A saint is someone the Light shines through.”
How can you reorient yourself so the Light is behind your stained glass window of life?
Ladies, this is an EXCELLENT article on how we can help our brothers stay holy! READ!!
Note to Men: Brothers, in preparing this list, I stress that the desire for holiness should be one’s own, fueled by the Holy Spirit…
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So which one came first? The egg or the chicken?
Growing up in a Catholic, homeschooling family, I was exposed to the lives of the saints from very early in my life. Mom got countless tapes of the saint’s lives presented as dramas, and as a child these were a favorite. I think I broke more than one of those old cassette tapes from over-use. I especially loved that so many of the saints would get up early for daily Mass, and the lives they led bore such beautiful witness to Christ and His Church. I never realized HOW or WHY though.
In my child’s mind, these men and women were saints, so they went to daily Mass, because that is what saints do. Holy people just do holy things. It never occurred to me that it was going to daily Mass that MADE them saints. Those holy men and women were not so much different from me. When they were going to Mass, praying, working, loving, and struggling, they were not saints yet. It was in the going to Mass often, praying the rosary, and calling out for the help and graces that the Sacraments bring that gave them the strength to become saints and gain Heaven. Holy things made them holy people.
They didn’t pray often or go to daily Mass because they were saints. They became saints because they prayed often and went to daily Mass.
So, I would say the chicken came first.
Just like every chick needs its mother hen to care for it, keep it warm, and feed it, we need Holy Mother Church to care for our souls, and keep us spiritually warm and fed.
This is the stuff that true courage is made of…
“It happened that seven brothers with their mother were arrested and tortured with whips and scourges by the king, to force them to eat pork in violation of God’s law.
One of the brothers, speaking for the others, said: “What do you expect to achieve by questioning us? We are ready to die rather than transgress the laws of our ancestors.” At that the king, in a fury, gave orders to have pans and caldrons heated. While they were being quickly heated, he commanded his executioners to cut out the tongue of the one who had spoken for the others, to scalp him and cut off his hands and feet, while the rest of his brothers and his mother looked on. When he was completely maimed but still breathing, the king ordered them to carry him to the fire and fry him. As a cloud of smoke spread from the pan, the brothers and their mother encouraged one another to die bravely, saying such words as these: “The Lord God is looking on, and he truly has compassion on us, as Moses declared in his canticle, when he protested openly with the words, ‘And he will have pity on his servants.'”
When the first brother had died in this manner, they brought the second to be made sport of. After tearing off the skin and hair of his head, they asked him, “Will you eat the pork rather than have your body tortured limb by limb?” Answering in the language of his forefathers, he said, “Never!” So he too in turn suffered the same tortures as the first. 1 At the point of death he said: “You accursed fiend, you are depriving us of this present life, but the King of the world will raise us up to live again forever. It is for his laws that we are dying.”
After him the third suffered their cruel sport. He put out his tongue at once when told to do so, and bravely held out his hands, as he spoke these noble words: “It was from Heaven that I received these; for the sake of his laws I disdain them; from him I hope to receive them again.” Even the king and his attendants marveled at the young man’s courage, because he regarded his sufferings as nothing.
After he had died, they tortured and maltreated the fourth brother in the same way. When he was near death, he said, “It is my choice to die at the hands of men with the God-given hope of being restored to life by him; but for you, there will be no resurrection to life.”
They next brought forward the fifth brother and maltreated him. Looking at the king, he said: “Since you have power among men, mortal though you are, do what you please. But do not think that our nation is forsaken by God. Only wait, and you will see how his great power will torment you and your descendants.”
After him they brought the sixth brother. When he was about to die, he said: “Have no vain illusions. We suffer these things on our own account, because we have sinned against our God; that is why such astonishing things have happened to us. Do not think, then, that you will go unpunished for having dared to fight against God.”
Most admirable and worthy of everlasting remembrance was the mother, who saw her seven sons perish in a single day, yet bore it courageously because of her hope in the Lord. Filled with a noble spirit that stirred her womanly heart with manly courage, she exhorted each of them in the language of their forefathers with these words: “I do not know how you came into existence in my womb; it was not I who gave you the breath of life, nor was it I who set in order the elements of which each of you is composed. Therefore, since it is the Creator of the universe who shapes each man’s beginning, as he brings about the origin of everything, he, in his mercy, will give you back both breath and life, because you now disregard yourselves for the sake of his law.” Martyrdom of Mother and Sons Antiochus, suspecting insult in her words, thought he was being ridiculed.
As the youngest brother was still alive, the king appealed to him, not with mere words, but with promises on oath, to make him rich and happy if he would abandon his ancestral customs: he would make him his Friend and entrust him with high office. When the youth paid no attention to him at all, the king appealed to the mother, urging her to advise her boy to save his life. After he had urged her for a long time, she went through the motions of persuading her son. In derision of the cruel tyrant, she leaned over close to her son and said in their native language: “Son, have pity on me, who carried you in my womb for nine months, nursed you for three years, brought you up, educated and supported you to your present age. I beg you, child, to look at the heavens and the earth and see all that is in them; then you will know that God did not make them out of existing things; and in the same way the human race came into existence. Do not be afraid of this executioner, but be worthy of your brothers and accept death, so that in the time of mercy I may receive you again with them.”
She had scarcely finished speaking when the youth said: “What are you waiting for? I will not obey the king’s command. I obey the command of the law given to our forefathers through Moses. But you, who have contrived every kind of affliction for the Hebrews, will not escape the hands of God. We, indeed, are suffering because of our sins. Though our living Lord treats us harshly for a little while to correct us with chastisements, he will again be reconciled with his servants. But you, wretch, vilest of all men! do not, in your insolence, concern yourself with unfounded hopes, as you raise your hand against the children of Heaven. You have not yet escaped the judgment of the almighty and all-seeing God. My brothers, after enduring brief pain, have drunk of never-failing life, under God’s covenant, but you, by the judgment of God, shall receive just punishments for your arrogance. Like my brothers, I offer up my body and my life for our ancestral laws, imploring God to show mercy soon to our nation, and by afflictions and blows to make you confess that he alone is God. Through me and my brothers, may there be an end to the wrath of the Almighty that has justly fallen on our whole nation.”
At that, the king became enraged and treated him even worse than the others, since he bitterly resented the boy’s contempt. Thus he too died undefiled, putting all his trust in the Lord. The mother was last to die, after her sons.”
2 Maccabees 7:1-41