29 March 2010

The Crucifixion

The 5th Sorrowful Mystery: The Crucifixion


“When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals – one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:33-34

“It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.” Luke 23:44-46

Let this mystery teach us to be always faithful to God.

This Sorrowful pilgrimage now brings me here to this lonely hill. All the agony, the beatings and the bleeding have led me somewhere I do not want to go…somewhere I resist going with all my might.

The bitter truth is this: I really don’t want to die.

Will I walk with You along this distressing road only to shrink in fear when the moment comes? Lord, You know that is exactly what I do, time and time again. My spirit may be willing, but my flesh is so weak. I start out well enough and I pray “not my will, but Thine” because I love You. But then the choice comes, and I stop short of the dying. I choose to spare myself… instinct kicks in. But in sparing myself, I lose my life.

“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.” Luke 9:23-24

Clearly, there’s no getting around it. Following You means dying.

It means the death of my own will; in small choices, in big decisions, in little ways, in old habits. It means relinquishing my right to myself, over and over again, day after day.

I wonder, dear Jesus, what does a heart really sound like when it has died to itself? I think it sounds like this: “I am at His disposal – He can do with me just as it pleaseth Him, without even a thought of consulting me. I just want to be His own little one – if He so wants, otherwise I will be happy to be just nothing and He everything.”

How does a face look when the self has given up its rights? Like this: “Take whatever He gives and give whatever He takes with a big smile.”

Those are the words of Your faithful servant, Blessed Teresa. She put hands and feet to those words every single day while privately enduring the darkest interior pain. Is that kind of faithfulness within my grasp, Lord? Will I ever learn to lay my life down without reservation?

I am most definitely not Mother Teresa. My vocation is quite different, but the call is the same: take up my cross and follow Jesus. I’m still being called to die.

Today, my dying looks a lot like the mundane, thankless, routine chores around my house that I have no motivation to accomplish. Dying sounds like me not venting my frustration in anger just because I’m tired. Dying is me choosing patience and mercy over my “justified” hot temper. Dying is me forgiving the one who has hurt me – really forgiving; no grudge, no animosity, no hope of vindication…just release.

Dying is me, freely and generously, choosing someone else ahead of myself. Dying is making a sacrifice that hurts, and doing it with a full heart, asking nothing in return.

Dying is freedom. That’s what you want me to discover, isn’t it, Lord? That when I am emptied of myself and my own will, You fill me to overflowing with vibrant life. When I agree to die to myself, it’s my fear that’s burned to death, and real faith rises out of the ashes.

With You, there is only life. Even death can no longer harm me because Your wondrous cross has rendered it void and powerless.

You held nothing back. You willingly gave it all so that I could have abundant life. I desire that kind of faithfulness, Lord! Teach me to give my all, even in little things, and withhold nothing. Grant me the courage to carry my cross and submit to the dying it asks of me, and then I will live...truly live.

28 March 2010

Peter and Judas: A Lesson in Hope and Humility


“Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings Rabbi!” and kissed him.  Jesus replied, “Friend, do what you came for.”  Matthew 26:49-50

“Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”  “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “this very night you will disown me three times.”  But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.”  And all the others said the same.  Mark 14:29-31

Peter and Judas are not all that different, it seems.  They are almost the same story, but for two very different endings.  It could be our own story... which end will we choose?

Betraying Jesus wasn't the worst thing Judas did.  As painful as that offense was, it was not Judas' downfall.  His ruin came because he lost hope; he either did not believe in forgiveness or did not trust it would be given him or he decided he could not, would not forgive himself, and so he gave in to despair.  It seems like his despair was proof of his great sorrow for what he had done to his friend and Lord, but it's not the sorrow Jesus wants from us. 

Sorrow that is profitable for our souls leads us toward the One we have betrayed.  If our sadness is merely disappointment with ourselves for having failed (which is pride) then we will choose to beat ourselves into despair and call it our just punishment. But then, why did Jesus die?  If we can be punished enough to atone for our sin, then the Cross was a waste of perfect blood and Jesus a fool.

Jesus does not wait with a stick to beat me, nor does He unload on me a lecture about how I've failed.  It is not proof of my love for Him to dwell on my failures or nitpick my flaws and defects.  It is not proof of the depth of my sorrow to say, “I just can't forgive myself.”  If I cannot forgive myself, it simply means I prefer my wounded pride over His suffering.  He suffered greatly at my expense; He was crucified for my sake.  “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”  Isaiah 53:5

If I now refuse to receive His forgiveness and get up and try again, I am saying His suffering wasn't enough.  His wounds are insufficient for my healing.  The punishment He endured has brought peace for others, but not for me.  I may deceive myself into thinking I am humbling myself, feeling the weight of my sin and bearing it nobly, but Jesus grieves all the more because I choose despair over hope.

Judas' betrayal of Jesus was a truly terrible act, but it was not so different from Peter's denial of Jesus.  Both men surely felt great remorse, shame, and bitter sadness at what they had done to their Master and Friend.  Perhaps Peter wished for his own death just as Judas did, thinking for a moment it was the only way out of his guilt.  The only difference was that Peter chose hope, and Judas chose despair.  Judas refused the forgiveness he could have received.  His fate was not sealed by his kiss, but by his pride.

Every one of his disciples that night left Him, denied Him and betrayed Him in some way.  Judas' sin garners the most attention because it seems so much more scandalous than the others, but we miss the point if we only see his act of greed and not the true cautionary lesson.  They all abandoned Him in one way or another, just as we do.  They all betrayed Him to some degree, just as we do.  They all surely were sorrowful, scared, and filled with regret over their sins, just as we are.  But only Judas chose guilt over redemption.

How tempting it is and how the enemy of our souls loves to deceive us into believing that the forgiveness Jesus offers is a fairytale.  It's crazy how we often choose to wallow in self-pity thinking it is humility.  It isn't.  It is the enemy convincing us to make a mockery of the Cross.  The truth is, we have sinned.  You have, I have.  You will again; I will again.  In big and small ways, we will all wound Him and run away.  The truth also is, He died knowing that; He died because of that; He died to heal that.  There is only one response from us that is needed, only one response that will benefit our souls; to run back to Him and try again.

Judas, upon realizing his sin, gave back his silver and ran to hang himself in a tree out of despair.  Peter, after weeping bitterly over his sin, ran toward the tomb where His Lord was buried, hoping.  And Jesus showed Peter extra care and tenderness through the angel: “Go, tell his disciples, and Peter...”

Was not the same compassion available to Judas?  Of course it was.  But like everything Jesus gives to us, it must be taken by us freely.  We can't cling to sin with one hand and forgiveness with the other, believing we are pious and humble.  And it is Satan, not Jesus, who berates us with our failings til we are stuck in prideful despair.  Judas only lacked hope because he lacked humility.

It doesn't matter how many times I fail or fall down or deny Him provided I run back to Him each time and humbly begin again without indulging in “oh, woe is me.”  Jesus knows I will do the very thing I vowed not to do; I will sleep when I promised to keep watch with Him; I will leave when I promised to stay.  Yet He is always waiting for me to return and ask for His grace once more.  This does not give me an excuse to sin or a “free pass” to go my own way, do my own thing and then come insincerely to take forgiveness when my conscience is guilty – that is simply rebellion. 

But if I truly desire to follow Him, if I say I love Him and mean it, then my sorrow over my sin must compel me toward Him, like Peter as he ran to the tomb. Seeing how Peter was received by Jesus, with forgiveness and love, gives each of us confidence that He waits for us with mercy and affection.

“Don't be anxious to condemn yourself every time you fall.  Instead, patiently, gently, pick yourself up and start all over again.  Why are you surprised when the weak turn out to be weak, and the frail, frail?  When you turn out to be sinful?  When you fall, be gentle with your frail, weak heart. Lift your heart gently, accept your failure without wallowing in your weakness.  Admit your guilt in God's sight.  Then with good heart, with courage and confidence in His mercy, start over again.”  St. Francis de Sales

 

27 March 2010

Praise!


"Hosanna to the Son of David!"
"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"
"Hosanna in the highest!"
Matthew 21:9

Holy Week is upon us!  I am looking forward to these days when we walk with Jesus through the agony, the pain, the abandonment, and death.  I can't help but wish that the whole word would stop and look on Him, bloodied and broken for us.  Wouldn't even the hardest heart be moved with sorrow?  This week will be a welcome diversion from all the craziness happening in our country.

I am Praising God today for...

Time to slow down and rest, even if it did come because I am sick.  This is when sickness is a blessing.

The spring weather that everyone else seems to be loving, even if I don't quite relish it.  I'm glad everyone enjoys the sunshine and warmth.

The anticipation of Resurrection!  

The unexpected gift I've been given this month that's come to me from across the globe... someone I've never met in person but who has blessed me so richly.  It's another way He says to me, "Yes, I see you and I love you."

The brand-new Catholic Online website that just debuted to the world!  Check it out -- it looks fantastic and is loaded with all kinds of great stuff!

My awesome husband who has let me get tons of sleep... and bought me some cold medicine and sore throat spray and even made me tea with lemon and honey.  God bless him...he loves me better than I deserve.

I hope your Holy Week is fruitful, restful, rich and meaningful.  When next we gather to Praise, it will be the greatest day of all!  Til then, His peace be with you!

Please share your Praises with me!

Blessings,
Jennifer

24 March 2010

Will the Real Statesman Please Come Forward?

I don't know who you are or where you live right now, but it's urgent that you show yourself immediately.  You are needed front and center – right now.


If you still think America is the greatest, most promising and blessed nation on earth and feel no impulse to apologize for America, then you are the person I'm looking for.

If you believe our Government should serve the people honestly, responsibly, with accountability; if you believe there should be less and less Government interference in our lives; if you believe those who serve as elected representatives should not make a lifelong career out of it, then you're the person I'm looking for.

If you understand that freedom isn't free, that blood is often spilled to protect our nation and you do your absolute best to ensure that blood is never spilled in vain while still protecting this nation from harm, then you're the person I'm looking for.

If you value the sacrifice of those who serve in our military and make sure they are never regarded with disdain or disrespect when they return home from deployment; if you make sure their families are not forgotten while waiting at home for their loved one's return; if you make sure our heroes' needs are met when they come home wounded and scarred; if you remember the ones who gave their lives; then you're the person I'm looking for.

If you understand the real meaning of the Establishment Clause and not the phony interpretation that says all things religious must be banned from the public square, then you're the person I'm looking for.

If you understand the holy nature of human sexuality and want to halt the destructive misuse of sex, the objectification of people for selfish pleasure, and preserve the dignity of sexual relations as God intended, then you are the person I'm looking for.

If you understand the holiness of marriage between one man and one woman,  essential to the foundation of the family and society, then you're the person I'm looking for.

If you insist that human life begins at conception, is sacred and loved by God; that the child in the womb is indeed a child, our neighbor, our fellow citizen whose rights are not less than our own; if you refuse to compromise your steadfast commitment to protect the unborn, and the disabled and elderly and terminally ill, no matter the cost, then you're the person I'm looking for.

If you are faithful in your own marriage and to your own family; if you live your private life with honor and integrity, then you're the person I'm looking for.

If you believe evil cannot be tolerated that some measure of good may come, then you're the person I'm looking for.


If you believe the government can and should provide for everything a citizen needs throughout his or her life, then you're not the person I'm looking for.

If you think that broken promises simply come with the Washington territory and since everybody else does it, so can you, then you're not the person I'm looking for.

If you think it's okay to spend wildly obscene amounts of money that no one can even wrap their heads around when you don't have the money to spend; if you think debt is okay, or even good, or necessary, or smart, then you're not the person I'm looking for.

If you're used to getting your way by coercion, threats, bribery, manipulation, and outright lies, you're definitely not the person I'm looking for.

If you think more government is better government, then you're not the person I'm looking for.

If you think the government can do it better than private business, you're not the person I'm looking for.

If you're having an affair with your assistant or your best friend's spouse, or your nanny, or anyone else; if you're cheating on your family only to stand before us later with tears in your eyes begging our forgiveness, please spare us the trouble and drama.  Sit down.  You're certainly not the person I'm looking for.

If you're addicted to gambling or drugs or alcohol or sex or pornography, please sit down.  Don't even bother. 

If you have risen from a difficult past and forged a new path in your life; if you now live with honor, integrity, honesty, courage, and humility, even if you once fell down hard, don't be afraid.  You just might be the person I'm looking for.

I'm not looking for someone who's perfect; just someone who is truthful and trustworthy.  Someone who means what he says and says what he means.  Someone who has proven that when the rubber meets the road, he will not compromise or abandon right principles.

Are you that someone?  If so, I have a deal you can't refuse.  I want you to volunteer to be harassed and maligned by the media, made into a caricature of yourself and ridiculed, work yourself to exhaustion traveling all over the country, give a million speeches, raise crazy amounts of money, deal with crooked, power-hungry toads day in and day out, win the election and sign yourself up for more of the same every day for 4 years.  In return you'll have the chance to serve the greatest country on earth and maybe even bring about lasting, hopeful, positive change in our society; change that's based on truth, not campaign slogans.  If you can do all this, you'll have my deepest gratitude and appreciation.

So... do we have a deal?

23 March 2010

Two Treats for the Soul

Very cool website I just learned of:




Very neat visual tour I took today via The Anchoress (she has the best links!):


Enjoy them both.


22 March 2010

We Stood with Stupak; He Did Not Stand for Life

 from Catholic Online


I've had time to recover from what happened Sunday night, but I still feel sick to my stomach.  I always knew there was a chance that Bart Stupak would change his vote for some reason other than securing his amendment, but I honestly thought he would hold his ground and not waver in his defense of unborn children.  Senator Nelson's betrayal last year was very upsetting, but this... this is just so painful.

The trouble is, we citizens have no choice but to believe in our politicians.  We must risk trusting them to be true to their word, to their principles, to the promises they've made.  You and I cannot walk down to the front of that Chamber and cast a vote, so we must rally behind our Reps and Senators and ask everyone who shares our values to do the same. “Stand with Stupak!” we cried.  “Let him know we're with him and we appreciate all he's doing!”  He's the only thing left standing between life and federally-funded death right now!  And so, it seemed, he was.

Does this make us fools now?  Well, it sure makes me feel a little foolish, but I realize this morning that I did what I had to do, and what I will do again when there's a candidate who says he will stand up for the unborn.  We have no choice but to take the chance, knowing there's always the possibility that we will be betrayed.  Again, you and I cannot cast a legislative vote.  Our votes come later.

What happened last night sure felt like betrayal.  Not with a kiss, but with a slap across the face and a knife to the heart.  I never expected Stupak to do what he did, especially not at the very.last.minute.  It makes absolutely no sense to me that he would put his faith in an order that everyone else agrees isn't worth the paper it's printed on (particularly given the man who's signing it.)  Executive Orders cannot trump statutory law.  Surely Stupak knows this.  Surely he understands how easily the order can be rescinded and challenged in court.  He must understand all that because every one of his colleagues does.

So, what gives?  I wondered if it went something like this:  Stupak began to realize that Pelosi would have the votes she needed without him and his group and the bill would pass for sure.  He scrambled to find some way of mitigating the damage, lessening the power of the Senate language, putting up some kind of sandbag against the tide.  An Executive Order requiring Hyde be upheld... it was the last-ditch effort and he went for it.  A somewhat noble scenario, I suppose, but I still would rather have had him just stick to voting NO.

Then I watched as the vote happened, and I saw that the final count was only 219.  Stupak and his group made a difference, alright.  In the wrong direction!  The noble scenario I imagined went right out the window.  The final blow came when I watched him on CSPAN as the Republicans put forth the Motion to Recommit.  Stupak stood up and turned on his pro-life Republican colleagues in a way that left my jaw in my lap.  He called the motion an attempt to politicize unborn life rather than protect it.  He said it was Democrats who have stood up for the protection of unborn children, Democrats who have stood up for the principle of life, and he slammed his friends on the other side for attempting to derail the health care bill yet again.

He looked and sounded like a true party-line Democrat; no longer a champion of the voiceless and powerless and innocent.  Just a politician who had made a deal.  It was crushing to watch.  Gone was the smiling, steady, principled man I've been watching all these months, and there instead was a man who seemed very defensive, angry, and defiant.

Once again, someone we trusted has let us down.  And once again, cynicism and resentment grows where optimism and hope once lived.  I wonder if there really is anyone left in Washington who has honor and will not relinquish it for the right deal.  Is there anyone who will simply stand for LIFE, period, no matter the cost, no matter the fallout, no matter the sweet deal they're offered?  When it's not politically expedient to do so, is there anyone who will not compromise?

It's good to remember that the only man who ever lived that way was our Savior.  In Him, there is honor without compromise; in Him there is no risk of betrayal; in Him there is steadfast hope; in Him, there is LIFE.

In each of us, is the possibility of Judas.  I know for certain I have betrayed Him over and over.  I know for certain I have broken the trust of people who love me and believed in me.  I know I have caused others to regret having supported me in some way.

It just seems like Judas is alive and well everywhere in Washington.  It seems he shows himself every day, with every deal that's made.  Sunday night, however, was a truly heartbreaking appearance, with devastating consequences.  And we, the electorate have very significant choices to make in the future.  When next we have the opportunity to vote, we must start voting more carefully and more bravely.

But we also must risk trusting again.  We have to believe, again and again, that those we send to that awesome Chamber will find the courage to be true.  We will surely be let down again.  But cynicism will be a greater threat to our cause than Judas.  We can be sorrowful and even rightfully angry, but we will have to take a chance again on someone who says, “I'll stand and fight with you.”  We'll have to rally ourselves again, lend our support again, then watch with guarded hope to see what happens.

And when our hopes are dashed once more, we have to simply start all over again.  Dust off the cynicism and resentment, and remember that He who sits on the throne is still in control. “We trust in the name of the Lord our God.”  “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him.” 

I'm not sorry I stood with Stupak.  I'm sorry he didn't stand for Life.


No Honor in Washington


"You traded 30 years of pro-life law for a promise from the most pro-abortion President in history."  
Mike Pence to Bart Stupak.

21 March 2010

Praise!



"Hear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Guard my life, for I am devoted to you." Psalm 86:1

Mindful of the significance of this day for our country and the terrible things that may come as a result, I definitely need to Praise the Lord for all He has done, and all He will do, and all He is.

I am Praising God today for:

A fun day yesterday with my family. Busy, packed, and no time to even sit down, but it was a good day.

Seeing a room full of laughing, happy-screaming, smiling children running and jumping and sliding and swinging and climbing and thinking, "This is what LIFE sounds like."

Some extra sleep that was desperately needed.

Good books to read.

The road to my first year of formation as a Daughter of St. Francis de Sales... this is so wonderful, so blessed, so rich and encouraging for me.  This is a huge present wrapped in a big red bow for me from my Father.

For Bart Stupak and the others who are holding steady, refusing to be bought or bribed to change their vote on this monstrous health care reform.  Thank God for them, may He bless and protect them and keep them strong.

For every American who is praying today for a victory for LIFE.  Lord God, hear the cry of Your people today, and win this battle for us.  Let this bill be defeated for the sake of LIFE.

On that note, let's remember that God is in control and no matter what happens, He will never forsake us.  Somehow all things will work together for good to them that love Him.  If we are to begin a time of great trial and sorrow, He will walk with us.

But let's pray and hope that will not happen.  May God bless the U.S. and have mercy on us.

Please link up below and share your Praises with me and everyone!  Have a blessed day!


20 March 2010

Pelosi Misleads and Deceives: St. Joseph Would Not Approve

from Catholic Online

It sure is an interesting – not to mention a critical -  time to be a Catholic in America.  The headlines this past week have talked about a “Holy War” going on within the Church between those who want the health care bill rejected and those who want it passed.  The bishops have made strong and clear statements about the “fatally flawed” nature of the Senate bill and said in explicit terms that the bill must be rejected by all faithful Catholics.  Sadly, their statements were answered by several groups of so-called Catholics who flat out defy the wisdom and leadership of the Church and insist that the only right thing to do is pass the bill.  Included in this defiant group were nuns from a small number of religious orders who published a letter stating their opposition to the Bishops and their support of Obama's plan.

This isn't simply a ping-pong game between two equally worthy opponents.  This isn't a back-and-forth debate between two equally morally sound arguments.  This is a manifestation of the spiritual battle between truth and lies.  There is a right and a wrong here, and the distinction is not murky.

The Catholic Church teaches that human life is sacred from the moment of conception to natural death, period.  One cannot support the mythical “right” to abortion and claim to be a faithful Catholic.  One cannot tolerate legislation that uses federal dollars to pay for the execution of the unborn and claim to be a faithful Catholic.
 
Whatever other good this legislation may produce will come with innocent blood on it.  The ends do not justify the means.  On this point, there is no wiggle room; no freedom to “agree to disagree.”  Humility and obedience ask each of us to heed the instruction of our Bishops on matters of such grave moral importance, not arrogantly and defiantly dismiss them outright.

Chief among those who call themselves Catholic while openly defying the Bishops and the Church is Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  She has spent her political career lobbying and voting for abortion “rights” in utter disregard and contempt for the Church's teachings, all the while claiming to be a faithful Catholic.  She manipulatively trots out her Catholic faith for press conferences and interviews, enjoying the glowing support of other so-called Catholic groups, publications, and politicians who defy the Church as openly as she does while they profess how precious their faith is to them.

She wears her Catholic upbringing lovingly around her neck like a trophy charm and then publicly distorts, misrepresents or just plain ignores Church teaching when it suits her purpose.  In doing so, she causes scandal after scandal as she confuses the American public and even the faithful about the Catholic Church.  She holds herself up as an example of a “modern” Catholic woman and uses her status as a Catholic to give false cover to her immoral and anti-Catholic pursuits.

She is not a faithful Catholic; she is a scandalous dissident.  She is also terribly ignorant of the Catholic faith she claims to have been raised and educated with – a fact she made plain at Friday morning's press conference.  It was a great day in the Church year; the day we remember and honor St. Joseph, the man charged with caring for our Blessed Mother and our Lord.  An honorable, humble, faithful, obedient man who gave us the ultimate example of earthly fatherhood.

Pelosi stood grinning before the press and proclaimed it to be “the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, the day we pray to St. Joseph, pray to benefit the workers of America.”  Then she added that “that's exactly what this health care bill will do.”

Once again, Nancy, you got it all wrong.  As The Anchoress so perfectly put it: 

“First off, Nancy, this is not the feast day of St. Joseph the Worker.  That feast day is May 1, and it is a simple (and optional) memorial.  TODAY is the Solemnity of St. Joseph in his role as the Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Provider and Guardian for the Child Jesus.  A solemnity is not an optional feast day, and Pelosi, who was educated by religious sisters and went to a Catholic college, should know that.”


“It is highly doubtful that St. Joseph, who was faced with an unimaginable event, one fraught with challenges, things unknown, social questions, difficulties and sacrifice, would be a happy endorser of a “life-affirming health care bill” that includes the federal funding of abortions, sterilizations, contraception – undoubtedly down the road – euthanasia.”

Yes, she actually called this bill “life-affirming” and had the gall to brag about the children she'd hijacked as political props this past week to sell her deadly bill:  “Little children, babies as young as six weeks old to talk about what it means to them.”  How crass can she get?  Babies?  The same class of citizens who will be killed in record numbers at our expense after her “life-affirming bill” is passed?  Now she wants us to hear them “talk about what it means to them”?  How about hearing their silent screams, Nancy?

But she didn't stop there.  She went on to gush about the letter sent to Congress by NETWORK, signed by 60 leaders of women religious who broadcast their opposition to the Bishops and their support of the bill.  “Every order you can think of was there saying they wanted us to pass this life-affirming legislation.”

She conveniently made no mention of the Bishops' repeated admonishments concerning the bill, nor of the letter from the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, representing thousands of sisters from over 103 different orders who stand with the Bishops against the bill in defense of Life and authentic Catholic teaching.  Authentic Catholic teaching is simply of no use to Pelosi.

The shamelessness and deviousness with which Pelosi twists authentic Catholicism into some kind of fetching dog that goes where she commands and brings back the moral approval she needs to market her anti-life, sacrilegious, evil undertakings to the rest of the world is evidence of someone who wishes not to serve the Lord and His Church, but to undermine and silence it.

Our decisive shepherd Archbishop Chaput said this week: “...If the defective Senate version of health care reform pushed by congressional leaders passes into law – against the will of the American people and burdened by serious moral problems in its content – we'll have “Catholic” voices partly to thank for it.  And to hold responsible.”

Let's start by holding Pelosi responsible.

19 March 2010

Call Congress Now

Here's a great site for finding the number for your Reps in Congress. Call them today, email them today, Twitter them today, bug the heck out of 'em today!


There is still hope that "The Bill" can be defeated if we raise enough heck.
Pray, people.  And be not afraid!  God has not fallen off His throne or fallen asleep or thrown up His hands in exasperation.  Somehow, all things will work together for good to them that love Him.

Bless y'all today.  Looking forward to the Stations of the Cross tonight.  God bless the U.S.A.

18 March 2010

Do Not Be Fooled

Do we adequately appreciate the gift we have in Archbishop Chaput?  (You know what I see in him?  A future Pope.)

He has once again spoken in clear terms about the Health Care bill, setting the record straight after the "Network" of loony nuns came out with their letter publicly rejecting the Bishops' stand on the legislation.  Confusion, dissent, and misinformation spreads... enter the voice of a true leader.

"Don't be fooled... nothing has changed... the Senate bill is fatally flawed... Catholics cannot support this bill."  Period.

God bless you, Shepherd Chaput.

Related:  God bless the sisters of the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious for issuing a public statement that the loony nuns who think the abortion language in the Senate bill is just a "technicality" do not speak for them!  Thank you, sisters!

Soul Food

From a wonderful priest in Austria I've been blessed to "meet" through email, I share this with you:

The cross without love is heavy; Love without the cross is empty.



I think that about says it all.


17 March 2010

What is Needed is Trust

I couldn't possibly say it any better than she did, so just go read this post from The Anchoress.
Read the whole thing.  Every word.

Actually, I couldn't have said this at all.  I lack her wisdom, insight, and steady faith.  But she is right, and there is nothing to be gained from fear.

We may have to hunker down and ride out the storm for a long time to come, but the sun will shine again someday.  God has a plan.  Do not be afraid.




15 March 2010

Keep Walking: Carrying the Cross

4th Sorrowful Mystery: The Carrying of the Cross

“Finally, Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha.) John 19:16-17

Let this mystery teach us perseverance and patience.



He was still standing after a brutal flogging that should have left him dead. His flesh is already mutilated and profusely bleeding, and His body is weak and shaky from the blood loss. Yet somehow, He withstands the pain and keeps going. I wonder if maybe the soldiers, besides being irked, weren’t just a little impressed that He was still alive after all they’d done to Him.

Maybe that’s why they enlisted some help for Him and made Simon carry the cross the rest of the way to Golgotha. “A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country and they forced him to carry the cross.” Mark 15:21

But whether Jesus could walk or not, they were determined in their cause. Nothing was going to stop them from their final goal of execution.

Jesus persevered. So did Satan.

Satan was every bit as determined as Jesus that day and he was getting plenty of help from those blood-thirsty Roman soldiers. In this battle between Love and Evil, it was beginning to look like Satan would prevail.

Thus far he had succeeded in shredding Jesus’ body and utterly humiliating Him. Not a bad day’s work for a fallen angel.

(Ah, but things are not as they seem! Evil was about to be soundly, eternally defeated.)

I wonder if it must have been tempting for Jesus to just lie down on the dirt road and die right there. Completely sapped of strength and in agonizing pain, I wonder if He thought, “I can’t take another step.”

How many times have I had that thought? It seems to me that my cross is getting too heavy, or I have been carrying it for too long, and I can’t take another step. I feel weakened by some harsh blows, and it looks as though the enemy is winning.

In faithful obedience to the Father’s will, Jesus persevered. So must I. Though it seems the enemy is scoring too many points against me, I must remember he has already lost. Though I’m sapped of strength and in pain, if I remain faithful, Satan will not prevail.

“Keep walking,” Jesus says to me. “I will carry you when you are weak. I will never leave you. I have been to hell and back for you, and there’s nothing to fear.”

“Keep walking.”


14 March 2010

Why I Will No Longer Support Girl Scouts



They'll soon be knocking on my door, tempting me with my favorite box of cookies, and with a sad heart I will say no.  With all due respect to the many, many great Girl Scout troops out there and their wonderful leaders, I simply cannot support the Girl Scouts anymore, and I propose that all Catholics carefully and prayerfully consider whether this organization still fits in the framework of authentically living our faith in the world. 

I don't say this lightly and I mean no disrespect to the moms and girls around the country who are part of vibrant, positive and generous troops who serve their communities with pride.   However, it's time to seriously examine the leadership of Girl Scouts on a national level and honestly evaluate their message and agenda.  I believe it's time to make a painful break for the sake of our daughters.

What I've learned over the last year tells me that the Girl Scouts organization has taken a very liberal feminist and pro-homosexual turn, and more disturbing, a sharp turn away from acknowledging God.  For example, since 1993 the Girl Scouts USA curriculum now reads, “Girl Scouts of the USA makes no attempt to define or interpret the word “God” in the Girl Scout Promise.  It looks to individual members to establish for themselves the nature of their spiritual beliefs.  When making the Girl Scout promise, individuals may substitute wording appropriate to their own beliefs for the word “God.”
While many will argue that Girl Scouts is simply respecting the beliefs or non-beliefs of its members, who come from varied backgrounds, this “tolerant” oath denies the One True God, allowing a girl to swear her oath to a tree or an animal or anything else she chooses to substitute for the word “God.” 

I'm also disturbed by the treatment of our nation's flag at the 2008 Girl Scout National Council Session and Convention.  The traditional flag ceremony was trashed, as was the playing of our National Anthem.  Flags of all nations were brought in bunched together to Chicago and Earth, Wind and Fire tunes.  That just doesn't' sit well with this Army wife.

My greatest concern lies with the Girl Scouts curriculum called “Journeys.”  This new program steadily leads the girls down a path of moral relativism toward the New Age.  (An excellent review of “Journeys” can be read here.)  Having read through the highlights on the Girl Scouts website, I'm left with the distinct impression I've just joined a Zen-yoga, environmental, defeat global warming, free choice, girl-power, modern feminist think-tank.  There's lots of talk about “women's issues”, environmental issues, empowerment, and the new “globalism”, but no mention of God and very little of country.

By the time the girls reach grades nine and ten, they are introduced to “Girltopia.”  This book emphasizes the disparity between the sexes, particularly when it comes to jobs and wages, and asks, “How could everyone create a Girltopia?”  The text then praises three different books on the subject of utopias, including, The Gate to Women's Country, by feminist author Sheri S. Tepper, who also happens to be the Executive Director of Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood.

In grades 11 and 12, the curriculum is called “Your Voice, Your World: The Power of Advocacy.”  The most disturbing part is that at the bottom of each page is a “Voice for Good”  featuring women meant to be role models for the girls to follow.  More than 50 women are named, and only 3 are women of faith, including Mother Teresa.

Mainly, these “role models” are feminists, lesbians, existentialists, communists, and Marxists.  Here are just a few examples:
  • Elizabeth Gurley Flynn:  labor leader, activist, feminist, founding member of the ACLU and chairwoman of the American Communist Party.
  • Simone de Beauvoir: existentialist, French author of feminist books including The Second Sex, key player in France's women's liberation movement.
  • Billie Jean King: retired tennis champion, sued for palimony by lesbian girlfriend while she was still married, first prominent professional athlete to come out as homosexual.
  • Betty Friedman: feminist writer on Girl Scouts' board of directors best remembered for 1963 book, The Feminine Mystique, primary founder and first president of the National Organization for Women (NOW), founder of the National Women's Political Caucus, strong opponent of abortion laws, founder of the National Abortion Rights Action league, or NARAL, active in Marxist circles, spoke in favor of “homosexual rights.”

Excepting, of course, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, these are not women I want held up as role models for my daughters.  Yet these are the women whose lives and works are chosen by Girl Scouts to inspire and motivate our young girls into advocacy.  Advocacy for what?  Abortion, homosexual rights, and male-bashing, liberal feminism?  No thanks.

Praise!

If you're new to MCH and this meme, it's all about giving the Lord praise on His day.  The Lord inhabits the praises of His people, and it is good for us to think back on the week and recall the many gifts He's given us, both large and small, and then give Him thanks and praise.  I hope you'll join me in offering a sacrifice of praise to our God.  Grab the Praise! heart and link up!


"This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."  Psalm 118:24

I am Praising God for:

An answered prayer and longing of my heart... it's not always easy to make new friends when you relocate all the time, and I seem to find it more difficult than others.  But God has crossed my path with a wonderful new friend and I am deeply grateful.  Thank you, Jesus.

Interior quiet and stillness, and the fact that I am less afraid of it than I used to be.  I am less inclined to panic and become anxious, and I'm actually looking for the blessing in it.  I don't mind solitude -- I actually crave alone time, but when my heart feels empty, I can get frightened.  But God is teaching me something new.  Praise Him.

For my family... despite the moments of chaos and impatience and stress, I can't imagine living on this earth without those 4 people.  Thank you, God, for blessing me so.

For Lent... for sacrifice... for the wonderful, brutal cross on which the Prince of Glory died for me.

For the yellow flowers suddenly blooming in my front yard.  I didn't plant them and I have no idea where they came from, yet there they are.  I think they're daffodils.  Whatever, they're pretty.

For the mocha I'm looking forward to!

That He has helped me get through this week somehow... I have been extremely tired, much more so than usual, and I have zero energy to do anything.  I desperately need strength and He has been carrying me.

For all of you who stop by to visit and share your Praises!

God bless you and keep you this coming week, and I pray your Lent will continue to be fruitful and meaningful.  Glory to God!

13 March 2010

A Barren Heart: God is in the Desert

 from Catholic Online


I'm not one to mince words:  I hate the desert.  I have spent too many years of my life living in deserts, and I absolutely hated it.  Sand, especially when it's blown around by strong winds, has a very distinct smell that permeates everything which I find most unpleasant.  Cactus I can do without.  Desert critters and creepy-crawlies I can most certainly live without!  And the heat... the relentless, oppressive heat.  It dries you up and sucks the life out of you.  No, the desert is only good for scorpions, snakes and cactus.  Give me cool temperatures, green grass, tall trees, a colorful autumn and a white winter and I'm a happy gal, thank you very much.



While “exiled” to the Mojave Desert a few years ago, compliments of the Army, I would often grumble to our priest how I hated the desert and everything about it, to which he would reply with a sneaky grin, “But Jen, God is in the desert.”  I would usually shoot back, “Why can't God be in the mountains or the trees and lakes and green grass and the snow?”  “Oh, He's there, too, but He is more fond of the desert,” my priest would insist.

Well, God may be fond of the desert, but I am not.  So it is much to my chagrin that I find myself back in the desert lately, without having moved from my tree-surrounded home.  Something has taken over my heart and even my mind.  I can only describe it as desolation.  I feel as barren and dry as the most unforgiving desert on earth.  

The landscape of my interior has no flowing water, no color, no fragrance, no softness or beauty.  Just barrenness and silence.

I long for inspiration, but it does not come.  I plead for some variation, some highs and lows, but all remains flat and dull.  Gone are the passionate feelings I delight in, the profound movements of my heart that let me soar and dive and soar again.  What I wouldn't give even for tears and sadness, but even they seem to have left me.  For someone like me who wears her heart on her sleeve, the absence of feeling is unsettling.  It's rather like a car without gas and it's hard to move forward.

It is easy to be disturbed by the barrenness and alarmed by the silence.  Who among us wants to hear silence at the end of our prayers?  Who finds it easy to come faithfully to sit with emptiness and offer praise to God when He seems to have vanished?  It is tempting to be scared and self-pitying, turning inward to lick my poor heart's wounds and wonder if God has given up on me.

Yet, I sense something else – a resolve to sit with the emptiness and listen to the silence.  Something deep within is calling me to trust in the goodness of this dry season.  If God has chosen this desert for me for now, I will follow Him into it.  I don't believe I go there alone; He is leading me.  If He is testing my faith, then I, too,want to find out what stuff it is made of.  I may be loathe to admit it, but I think my priest friend was right:  God is in the desert.

In the desert there are no distractions, nothing to please my eye and tempt me to look elsewhere.  It is a hostile environment in many ways, and my creature comforts do nothing to fill the desolation, so I am compelled to turn to the Lord, hungry for relief.  At first the silence is deafening and jarring, but if I lean into it and accept the stillness, then I may finally be able to hear His gentle voice again.

That is my hope and prayer for this barren Lent.  That by His grace, I just might learn to walk steadfastly with Him through this spiritual desert, growing in trust and obedience.  Whether He speaks or not, I will pray.  If I feel nothing at all, I will praise Him.  If my mind is a void and my heart empty, I will just quietly bow before Him with humility and gratitude for all He has done.

It's a struggle because it requires a repeated act of my will, which isn't easy to muster when the heart is arid.  Lazy flesh is being asked to learn greater discipline; a faint heart is being urged on to courage; a spirit full of me is dared to risk being emptied, trusting in Him to fill the void with His own spirit.

As the one who cried out in the desert, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths” also said, “He must become greater; I must become less.”  John 3:30

I would not choose this barren place were it up to me, but I pray that I may be found faithful in following Him through it and that it will bear great fruit.  The words of Isaiah bring me comfort and hope:  “See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”  Isaiah 43:19

If today your experience is anything like mine, walk into the desert, sit with the emptiness and the silence and do not despair.  He has promised, “The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom...Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.  The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs.”  Isaiah 35:1,6-7

Yes, God is in the desert.



11 March 2010

Imperfections



Some favorite words of wisdom from St. Francis de Sales:

Let us not be disturbed at the sight of our imperfections, for our perfection consists in fighting against them.  And how can we fight against them without seeing them, or overcome them without encountering them?  Our victory consists not in being unconscious of them, but in refusing to consent to them; and not to consent to them is to be displeased with them.

(Introduction to the Devout Life, 1:5)

Live Jesus!

09 March 2010

Crowning With Thorns

3rd Sorrowful Mystery:  The Crowning with Thorns



“They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him.  And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!”  Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him.  Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him.  And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him.  Then they led him out to crucify him.”  Mark 15:17-20

Let this mystery teach us to accept mockery and scorn for being disciples of Jesus.


Humiliation, in one form or another, is part of the package.  It is only avoidable if we decide to deny Christ.  In other words, we can either accept humiliation for the sake of our Savior, or live as hopeless worldly cowards.

This cuts right to the core of my insecure heart.  I long to be accepted, well-liked, sought after, validated, successful, etc.  All the things the world says are good and desirable.  It certainly seems easier to get along in the world when you are not scorned for holding an unpopular belief.  And it feels a lot less lonely to have the company of friends rather than be an outcast.

It’s not easy being a follower of Christ in a culture that feeds on public opinion and popularity.  It requires moral courage and conviction.

We’ll never have it both ways.  If we’re truly following Jesus, we are going to be mocked.  We will be the object of scorn and ridicule.  We are going to be dismissed as closed-minded, prudish, old-fashioned, intellectually-stunted, bigoted, fanatical, and yes, un-cool.  If we’re not being treated as such, perhaps we’d better reexamine our lives and our faith.

If we don’t stand out from the world, if we don’t seem any different, then we could be in serious trouble.

I know how often I still try to lessen my humiliation or even dodge it completely.  It costs dearly sometimes to stand firm in my faith, to go against the current societal tide, to defend the truth that others say is irrelevant.  But my sweet and humble Savior quietly listened to the vile mockery spewing from the soldiers’ mouths and thought of me.  He decided that my soul was worth the humiliation.  He could have sucked the air from their lungs with just a thought in his mind and silenced them, but He loved me – He loved them – more than He minded being insulted by those ignorant buffoons.

Discipleship will exact a price…at the very least, humiliation and scorn for His sake.  Someday it might even cost our lives.  But what is the cost of the alternative?

07 March 2010

Praise!

"The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.:  Isaiah 12:2

The Lord has indeed been my strength in many ways this week, and that gives my heart a song to sing.  

Praise You, Lord Jesus, for carrying me through this past week.  Thank you for Your patience and gentleness in the face of my weakness.

Praise You, Lord, for birthday parties and cupcakes and balloons and the beautiful little birthday girl who's growing up way too fast.

Praise You, Lord, for gorgeous weather that promises spring is right around the corner.

Praise You, Lord, for messages from good friends that make me laugh out loud.

Praise You, Lord, for the sweetness of sharing my life with a man who really loves me.

Praise You, Lord, for the energy to get some housecleaning done!

Praise You, Lord, for the coming week and the things I'm looking forward to.

Praise the Lord with me today... join me in lifting a song of praise to our God.  There is none beside Him!  Use Mr. Linky below and share your Praises!

God bless you richly!
Jennifer

04 March 2010

The Scourging

2nd Sorrowful Mystery:  The Scourging at the pillar

“Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged.”  John 19:1

Let this mystery teach us purity, and to accept God’s will.

Flogging… they used a whip made of several strips of leather that were embedded at the ends with pieces of bone and lead.  No Roman limitation was placed on the number of lashings inflicted, and often the victim didn’t survive the flogging.  Jesus did.


 “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5 


Every blow from that cruel whip was for my sake.  Every vicious tear in His flesh, every drop of precious blood that flowed was for my healing.  Every agonizing moment of pain He endured was to secure my peace.  His punishment, my freedom.


My impurities are not beaten out of me; they were beaten out of Him.



God deals with me gently and patiently, always with love.
 
I can’t even fathom the harsh treatment Jesus received in my stead.  He must have screamed in pain, but He never protested.  He never even tried to whisper a plea to the Father, “Stop!  Please stop!”

He would do anything to rescue a lost child.

Me.

You.

03 March 2010

Archbishop Chaput: Hero of the Faith

Archbishop Chaput speaking to health care professionals in Houston (but these words are really for all of us!):

"The first thing all of us need to do – and I mean bishops, priests, deacons, religious, mothers and fathers, mechanics, lawyers, shopkeepers, business executives and doctors – is to ask God for the gift of honesty," he said.

"We need to examine our hearts with real candor. And we need to ask ourselves how 'Catholic' we really want to be. If the answer is 'pretty much' or 'sort of' or 'on my own terms' – then we need to stop fooling ourselves, for our own sake and for the sake of the people around us who really do believe. There´s no more room in American life for easy or tepid faith."

I love this wonderful man because he speaks the truth unapologetically.  He's a straight-shooter and not afraid to live his faith out loud.  If we all took our cue from him, our nation would be a drastically different place.
God bless Archbishop Chaput!

The Agony

1st Sorrowful Mystery:  The Agony in the Garden

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”  An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.  And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.  Luke 22:42-44

Let this mystery teach us true contrition for our sins.

True contrition… it seems to me that before we can have true contrition, we have to first truly understand that we have sinned.

I think our self-obsessed, modern, “enlightened” culture would very much like to proclaim Sin as an archaic, prohibitive concept whose time is over.  Moral restrictions, clearly defined standards of right and wrong, and consequences for violators are all antiquated notions wrongly imposed on people of free will. 

To dare to suggest that Someone outside ourselves, higher than ourselves has the authority to define right and wrong, good and evil, and then establish the just punishment for wrongdoing, well, that’s practically blasphemous in this age of moral relativism.

How can we be truly sorry if we’re not thoroughly convinced we’ve done wrong?  Okay, maybe we can admit that we’ve sinned, but we haven’t done anything truly terrible, so it’s not really that bad.  It can’t be that big a deal.

Think about that scene in the Garden again.  Jesus was in so much anguish that he sweat blood as he prayed!  He asked God to change the plan and find some other way, so it’s obvious this Sin problem is a very big deal, indeed.  The torture He was about to suffer wasn’t due to something small or trivial. 

But I can’t help wondering… what grieves Him more – that we sin, or that we try to cover our sin, make light of it, and even delight in it? 

Is it the arrogance that inhabits our sins and causes us to deny that we haven’t just broken a rule or made a little mistake – we have sinned against a perfect and just God who also happens to love us beyond our comprehension?!  Our sin is aggravated by prideful indifference.  Insult is added to injury. 

Why?  Because it is scary as all hell, literally, to fully grasp the gravity of our own sin and the consequences of it, and were it not for the Cross and the unspeakable love of the Father, none of us could bear it.  Contrition that begins out of fear of the just punishment for sin is a good place to start, but God isn’t satisfied with leaving us there.  He wants to overwhelm us with His love; that crazy, illogical, endless love that took our hideous sin upon His perfect Self and endured our punishment for us. 

We no longer have anything to fear.  Now we are free to be repentant out of sorrow, not terror or despair.  We can face our wretched condition and own up to our sins honestly, because what awaits us is forgiveness, not wrath.  Once that reality takes root in our hearts, then gratitude inspires us, humility enables us, and LOVE compels us to true contrition.

 “Blessed is he who transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.  Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.  When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.  For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.  Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.  I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord” and you forgave the guilt of my sin.”   Psalm 32:1-5
 
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.  Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.  For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.  Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge…Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me and I will be whiter than snow.”  Psalm 51:1-4, 7 


©2010 Jennifer Hartline

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