Monday, February 28, 2011

This makes me think... RIP Dr Bernard Nathanson

I know every facet of abortion. I was one of its accoucheurs: I helped nurture the creature in its infancy by feeding it great draughts of blood and money; I guided it through its adolescence as it grew fecklessly out of control….

I am one of those who helped usher in this barbaric age. I worked hard to make abortion legal, affordable, and available on demand.  In 1968, I was one of the three founders of the National Abortion Rights Action League. I ran the largest abortion clinic in the United States, and as its director I oversaw tens of thousands of abortions. I have performed thousands myself….

Abortion is now a monster so unimaginably gargantuan that even to think of stuffing it back into its cage is ludicrous beyond words. Yet that is our charge - a herculean endeavor.

Dr. Nathanson would later undergo an enormous change of heart and change of direction in his life, and become one of the foremost American pro-life spokeperson. A synopsis of his pro-life advocacy is here.

Dr. Nathanson also became a Catholic in 1996. He is being laid to rest today at a funeral Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. Archbishop Timothy Dolan will preside, and he posts his thoughts about it here.

UPDATE: The Archdiocese of New York has posted a pdf file of the homily for Dr. Nathanson, given by Fr Gerald Murray, here. 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Friday, February 25, 2011

If our heart seeks God in prayer, then prayer becomes the life of the heart.

I'm over at Catholic Exchange today, with some ideas from the Catechism of the Catholic Church on prayer... here's a snippet:

Christian tradition teaches widely about three forms of prayer: vocal prayer, meditation, and contemplation.  The Catechism says that all three have one basic trait in common: “composure of heart.” (CCC 2699).
Composure is the emotional make-up of the heart; it is largely the calmness or serenity that exists in our heart. Composure includes recollection of the heart – it’s memories. And what does the Catechism say best influences the composure our hearts? “Keeping the Word and dwelling in the presence of God.”(CCC 2699).
If our heart seeks God in prayer, then prayer becomes the life of the heart. It is where God renews our heart. It is a personal encounter with God, the One Who made our heart, mends our heart and expands our heart. But we have to be willing to be led, and receive his presence.
Each form of prayer, from vocal prayer to meditation to contemplation, yields a heart more open to God: an ever-deepening encounter with God, a deeper reception of the Word and Presence.
Read it all. 

The Fun Quotient... from Paris!

So, did you hear that I made an unexpected journey to Paris? 

My daughter Katie (who is studying in London this semester) met me there for a girl's getaway! (I had to skip last's week's Among Women, so I could go be "among women".) That's she and me atop the Arc de Triomphe... yeah, it was a bit breezy up there! 
(Eiffel Tower in the background.)

Katie and her new friend, "Mona" in the background. 
(You gotta get up pretty early to visit that exhibit with so few art patrons around!)

One of my favorite stops on the tour, the basilica on Montmartre, Sacra Coeur.  Read my Patheos column this week for mention of it. We went at night to get a lovely evening glimpse of the city from that high vantage point.  Perpetual Adoration has been going on there for 125 years! Amazing!

Oui, there was wine and cheese...

And cheesecake, and cafe au lait...

(There are more pictures still stuck in daughter's camera!) 
Have a good weekend!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Among Women #89- The Sacred Heart

In Among Women 89, I discuss my recent trip to Paris and Sacre Coeur, plus the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, as seen through the life of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque.  Also my guest is author Ellen Gable Hrkach, who is also a wife and a mother. She has suffered seven pregnancy losses, and she lovingly discusses this topic with us today.  It is a message of hope and healing, and I think many women will benefit from her sharing.

Also in this week's show, an invitation to send me your favorite Bible verses for an upcoming Among Women Special Edition!

Pilgrim Feet: Stompin' up the stairs at Sacre Coeur

My latest Patheos column, A Word in Season, touches on the beauty of making a pilgrimage, with a brief recollection of my recent trip to Sacre Coeur in Paris...

My feet hurt, and I am grateful. It’s a sign I’m still moving. And movement -- any forward motion -- even when slowed by aching feet, is pilgrimage-worthy.  
I am three months into a physical sojourn from surgery repairing a tendon in my ankle, from which my surgeon announced: “It will be six months until you feel better.”
Still, last week, armed with my trusty cane, and the encouragement of my 21-year old daughter, I flew to Paris for a reunion with her and a pilgrimage to a few sacred places I have loved. One of those places was Sacre Coeur, the basilica dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, where continuous adoration of the Blessed Sacrament has taken place for 125 years.
Set on the region’s highest hill, Montmartre, where tradition holds St. Denis (the first Bishop of Paris) and his 3rd century companions were martyred, Sacra Coeur commands sweeping views of Paris and its environs. And to reach it, it’s all up hill.
Together my daughter and I climbed the familiar mighty steps, thankful that my foot had healed enough to make the trip. Upon reaching the top, we found someone else had made the climb… a gentle beggar with no legs at the door of the great church. I placed an offering in his tin cup and proceeded inside, grateful even more for the gift of aching feet and the opportunity to kneel before the Blessed Sacrament. 
The rest is here. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

This makes me think...

"Go, the Mass is finished." This means, not "OK. You have discharged your weekly obligation. Now go live Monday through Saturday as you wish, then come back and worship for another hour."  Rather it means "Go -- and carry with you, out of this church into your daily routines, all that you have meant and done here."  That is, here in the Mass you knelt before the Lord, and by your gestures you placed yourself under his Cross (you crossed yourself how many times?), and you spoke words which declare your readiness to obey his Word, and you partook of the Great Offering itself when you received the Host and sipped from the Cup. What did all this mean?

Well, among other things it identified you as his child, his servant, his priest; and as such you identified yourself as someone who is prepared to make his whole life (household chores, driving in traffic, sitting in committees, doing schoolwork or factory work, being with your family and friends) an offering to God, which is what we human beings were created to do. You are not your own. Your work is not your own. Your world is not your own. It belongs to the Most High; and our highest dignity as Homo sapiens is to "return" it all to him as an oblation, consciously, volitionally, intelligently. 

---Thomas Howard, If Your Mind Wanders at Mass

Friday, February 18, 2011

Polycarp is not a fish....

This week, my column A Word in Season features a look at the life and death of the great saint and martyr, Polycarp.

Here's a tease:

Imagine experiencing the satisfying aroma of bread baking in the oven when you should be observing a hideous death; imagine one man's life being consumed by the Eucharistic majesty even as he prepares to breathe his last.
Everything about Polycarp's life declared: "I am a Christian."
Ok, now go read the rest here.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

On why I may not be able to post Among Women this week...

A rather wonderful opportunity turned up for me to do some unexpected travel with my daughter who is studying abroad....

A few of the sights we'll be seeing while I'm away...

And the best one of all...

Image credits

Monday, February 14, 2011

This makes me think...

Once and for all, a short rule is laid down for you: 

Love, and do what you will.

If you keep silence, do it out of love. If you cry out, do it out of love. If you refrain from punishing, do it out of love. 

Let the root of love be within. From such a root nothing but good can come.

--- St Augustine, Sermon on 1 John.


Friday, February 11, 2011

The Fun Quotient... Boston Terrier edition

And just cuz we need some beach bigtime around these snowed-in parts...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

What happens when two friends get to talkin' about Mary...

If you were a fly on the wall in my kitchen a week ago, you would have witnessed an animated conversation with Maria Morera Johnson, my friend and colleague at SQPN. We were having a mighty good ol' time discussing sacramentals... both the ones we hold in common, and the ones that differ according to our cultural, ethnic milieus.

Maria hails from being raised mostly in the South, with a Cuban-American background, and I come with a third-generation Irish-French-Polish heritage, having been in the Northeast all my life.

We are two very different women, and yet, our love for the faith and our devotion to our Momma Mary really paves the way for a sisterhood in Christ and moments of collaboration that are really fun to share...

Since that conversation, and some successive emails, two columns at Patheos have been the fruit...

The first was this column from me on sacramentals, last week, looking at the subject from a catechetical standpoint as well as my experience...

And now, this latest column, with Maria Johnson as a guest in the same space, bringing a tender reflection on the subject of Our Lady of Guadalupe...  and the truth of how she really is a mother to us all...

Here's a snippet...

I have fallen in love with a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe. “She” stands just to the right of the altar in our parish chapel, solitary and without the bright sunburst that we associate with Guadalupe. She is posed with hands in prayer, wearing a sweet look that matches the serene, simple and muted colors of her robes. Her stillness and the simplicity inherent in her design quiets me. I find peace when I am before her.
I am Cuban-American. Like many Hispanics, religious iconography and jewelry appeal to my senses. They are more than sacramentals to aid our daily worship, but objects d’art. Our icons are bright, often rustic or primitive and imbued with a beauty that transcends the actual piece, particularly in the relationship that we develop with it, whether for sheer love of beauty, or because the icon represents a special devotion or cultural identification.
It is easy to misinterpret that relationship as idolatry since outwardly we shower those objects with attention and affection. To be honest, sometimes there may be a little superstitious confusion mixed into these bonds, particularly within older generations who have not benefitted from the sound and earnest catechesis of recent years. I recognize, too, how these small but meaningful cultural idiosyncrasies might appear to our sisters and brothers in Christ who do not share an identical background or history.
Culturally, I come from a sensory-driven people drawn to the deep rhythms of music, strong scents, and shiny pretty things. To be Hispanic and Catholic means to embrace, passionately, all of the physical reminders of our faith

Enjoy the rest of it here. And listen to last summer's recording of Maria sharing about her life and new media on Among Women 62.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

On being more mindful in my conversational life...

I'm over at Catholic Mom today...talking about talking, and listening to what people say in answer to the question, "How are you?"

Here's some for starters:

For the last two months I have had my foot in a cast. This post-surgical immobilization is needed for the healing of a torn tendon in my ankle. Every time I am out in public these days friends, acquaintances, and even strangers stop to ask me, “What happened?” or “How are you?” And I politely tell them and thank them for their concern.
Recently, I was in a situation that truly impressed on my heart just how important it is to stop and intentionally ask the people in my social milieu and workplace the simple question, “How are you?”
At a recent church function, a woman who is a longtime acquaintance came up to me and expressed her loving concern for my predicament as I hobbled along.  For the fifth time that night, I had to explain myself, and I was getting a little tired of my on-going narrative.  I gave her the 60-second version of my story.  Knowing she was a nurse, I mentioned how wonderful it is to have great people like her in healthcare to suffer with the likes of me! As I thanked her for loving concern, I wondered aloud with her, how many people in this room with us have hurts and burdens that we cannot see… and if anyone rushed up to them to ask how they are doing?
At that moment, my friend’s eyes grew wide. She dabbed at a tear as she pushed back her glasses. So I asked the obvious: how are you? And then I listened.
Read the rest here. 

Among Women #88- The National Catholic Singles Conference!

Among Women 88 considers the single life and offers encouragement in the face of challenges. Today's guest is Anastasia Northrop the Director of the National Catholic Singles Conference Feb 25-27. Together we discuss a few themes of Theology of the Body as they apply to the single life. Plus we discuss the line up of speakers and events related to the upcoming NCSC.

In our saint segment, we look at today's feast day that celebrates the life of St Josephine Bakhita, who once was a slave after she was kidnapped during her Sudanese childhood , and was later a free woman who chose religious life.

Monday, February 7, 2011

This makes me think...

Joy is prayer, joy is strength,
joy is love,
a net of love by which to catch souls.

God loves a cheerful giver;
he gives most who gives with joy.

The best way to show your gratitude
to God and to people is to
accept everything with joy.

A sister filled with joy is like 
the sunshine of God's love,
the hope of eternal happiness,
the flame of burning love.

Never let anything so fill you with
sorrow as to make you forget
the joy of the risen Christ.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Among Women #87- Two Dorothys - Gift of God

Among Women 87 tells the stories of two women named Dorothy... one a saint and martyr for the faith, and one a woman who has been living a long and faithful life despite an unexpected trauma-- being the lone survivor of a deadly car crash that took the lives of 3 other people.  It's a program about being faithful and mindful of the love of God no matter what!

Don't forget, I'm preparing another listener-input Special Edition of AW--this time on the Bible! Send me your favorite Scripture verses, and an explanation of why they are special to you...  details here.

The Fun Quotient...

This has been floating around the internet for sometime, but I still love to watch it!  Especially after a long work week, its nice to envision those holy hands of God rushing under my own sagging shoulders!  What a lift!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Sentimental about Sacramentals

Maybe you have some favorite sacred blessings, objects, or practices that enrich your daily faith walk. That's what my column over at Patheos is all about...

Now and again as I work and perform my chores I hear a faint jingle from the small cross and miraculous medal I wear around my neck. Some people see them as nothing more than jewelry, nice charms on a gold chain. To me, they are cues to my identity as a Christian, one with a particular devotion to the Blessed Mother...
All these tangible, wearable sacramentals are outward signs that remind me who I am and whose I am. They bring my faith, hope, and love alive.
Despite their name sacramentals are not sacraments. Nor are they lucky charms or magical talismans. I harbor no superstitions about them as no powers accompany them. Yet they do reflect all the special graces I have already received, pointing to the gift of God’s on-going presence in my life...
Sacramentals illuminate the sacred in every day. Given to us by the Church in the service of the sacraments, they remind us of the graces we hold dear, and the God who holds us near. They dispose us to divine life found in daily life, like loving tokens of friendship between God, the communion of saints, and us.
Popular piety surrounding sacramentals, when properly aligned with the faith of the Church, help us grow in our devotion to God.
 Rest the rest here.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Warning Label: Open only if you've made a mistake

2 Corinthians 5:17: Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come.

H/T The women at Own It
Matthew 8: 2-3: And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, "Lord, if you will, you can make me clean." And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, "I will; be clean." And immediately [the] leprosy was cleansed. 

Here's a thought.

The new Roman Missal (click & learn about the coming changes):

Watch Catholic TV here! Find Women's programs: "WINGs" and "Woman at the Heart of the Church"

A Lovely Reminder for Every Day

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Ship a Cake, and Share a Blessing