Thursday, December 30, 2010

Year-End Stuff that Caught My Attention

Top 10 Vatican Stories, counting back from #10 to #1:

Here's the wise and ever-astute Elizabeth Scalia's take on 8 Big Stories that Shaped 2010.

Lisa Hendey's posted her Most Fascinating Catholics of 2010 over at Faith and Family. (Yours truly is an astonished listee.)

One of my favorite stories from this year was quite recent... in the Catholic-Spiritual-Life department comes this news from Green Bay Wisconsin about the previous appearances of the Blessed Mother to Adele Brise, in 1859, taking place just shortly after the appearances at Lourdes. There's a slide show here.

My favorite song of the year goes to "Better Than A Hallelujah" sung by Amy Grant, but penned by that perennial Catholic songwriter and performer, Sarah Hart, and Chapin Hartford.  The song is up for a Grammy nomination.

And, totally unrelated, but just cuz I love photography, here are three entries:

And going forward into the calendar New Year, here's George Weigel, keeping an eternal perspective, along with biblically-based "resolutions"from Patrice Fagnant MacArthur.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Among Women #83- More on Mary (Mariology + the latest approved Marian Apparition)

Among Women 83 features a conversation with Maura Hearden, PhD, from DeSales University, regarding topics in Mariology... In keeping with the Christmas season, we specifically look at why Mary's virginity was necessary for the Incarnation. We also discuss Mary's marriage to Joseph and the life-giving love of the Holy Family.  Finally, Dr. Hearden gives us her own take on the news of a Marian apparition site recently approved "worthy of belief" in the diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Also profiled in this episode, the life of St. Genevieve, patron of Paris, who by her prayers and example as a consecrated virgin, helped avert disaster from a menacing Attila the Hun!

Monday, December 27, 2010

This makes me think.... about a new order of things...

The woman has conceived the Child, sheltered him under her heart, and has given birth to her Son. The world has come under a different law. All these are not merely one-time historical events upon which our salvation rests. They are simultaneously the model figures and events that announce to us the new order of things, of life, of our existence.

---Fr. Alfred Delp,  SJ, Advent of the Heart, Seasonal Sermons and Prison Writings, 1941-1945. 
Fr. Delp was imprisoned and executed in a Nazi death camp in 1945.

Image credit:  Our Lady of Mount Carmel with the Infant Jesus, at the Carmelite Chapel, Peabody, MA, taken by yours truly.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

O Come Let Us Adore Him!

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given...
Isaiah 9: 6

No one, 
whether shepherd or wise man,
can approach God here below 
except by kneeling 
before the manger at Bethlehem
and adoring him 
hidden in the weakness 
of a new-born child.

(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 563.)

Merry Christmas, 
from our house to yours!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Word in Season: "Behold!"

Up at my column over at Patheos today... a look at one of my favorite words from the Bible...

Behold makes me perk up and pay attention. Simply defined, behold means to see, to gaze upon, to observe, to have vision.
Whenever I find it in the New Testament, I always watch what happens next.Behold is like the sound of the drum roll you hear when the theater curtain pulls back revealing center stage. Behold is my cue to tune in, to get ready, and see what unfolds.
The rest is here.


Here's something worth sharing with other Catholic friends... 

Did you know that you can subscribe to the Catholic Newsletter from Patheos? Just click here and then follow the prompts. (Be sure to check the Christian-Catholic box in order to receive the Catholic Newsletter, and save your changes at the bottom of the page.)

Then your newsletter will arrive in your email inbox, looking like this sample photo.  

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Among Women -- on vacation this week!

The Gohn Kiddos
Circa 1995

No podcast this week! Too busy getting ready for The Big Day! 

Hope you are enjoying the Christmas season with those you love! I'll be back next week on December 28th!  

Feel free to browse the Among Women archives via our Master Index.

Merry Merry!

Monday, December 20, 2010

This makes me think... incarnationally

The truth is 
that only in the mystery
of the incarnate Word
does the mystery of man take on light.

For Adam, the first man,
was a figure of Him Who was to come,
namely Christ the Lord.

Christ, the final Adam,
by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love,
fully reveals man to man himself 
and makes his supreme calling clear.
It is not surprising, then, that in Him
all the aforementioned truths
find their root and attain their crown.

He Who is "the image of the invisible God" (Col. 1:15),
is Himself the perfect man. 

To the sons of Adam 
He restores the divine likeness 
which had been disfigured from the first sin onward.
Since human nature as He assumed it was not annulled,
by that very fact
it has been raised up
to a divine dignity in our respect too.

For by His incarnation 
the Son of God has united Himself 
in some fashion 

He worked with human hands,
                       He thought with a human mind,
                                    acted by human choice and
                                             loved with a human heart

Born of the Virgin Mary,
He has truly been made one of us, 
like us 
in all things except sin.

--Gaudium et Spes, par. 22, from the Documents of Vatican II.

(Um, emphasis and crazy poetic form mine.)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

This struck me in today's Scripture...

Readings: Is 7:10-14; Rom 1:1-7; Mt 1:18-24.

This week we hear the word of "Emmanuel" ("God with us") foretold in Isaiah and echoed in the Matthew's Gospel, that was geared for a Jewish audience that was familiar with the prophecies of Isaiah.

This truth of God-with-us is something we Catholics really understand, especially through the grace of the sacraments... most poignantly through Baptism, where we are baptized in the Name of the Father, Son, and Spirit, as well as in the Eucharist.

To my mind, our lives are to be lived as a holy echo of that presence of God in our lives. I pray that we may truly reflect the light of God-with-us. What a privilege! And what a responsibility. Therefore, we understand the need we have for the ongoing grace that we receive from the sacraments.

From Benedict XVI:

Through him we have received the grace of apostleship, to
bring about the obedience of faith, for the sake of his name,
among all the Gentiles, among whom are you also, who are
called to belong to Jesus Christ; to all the beloved of God in
Rome, called to be holy.
Rm 1:6-7a
The world needs God— 
not just any god 
but the God of Jesus Christ, 
the God who made himself flesh and blood,
who loved us to the point of dying for us, 
who rose and created
within himself room for man.
~Homily at Chrism Mass, Holy Thursday
April 13, 2006

New redesign, with my latest Advent piece

This one's for the Moms... it's all about maternity and Momma Mary!  Check it out.  (Also I read it live as part of the most recent podcast.)

Friday, December 17, 2010

My latest at Catholic Exchange: what the Incarnation says about God & us

Here's a taste:
As God reveals Himself and his love for us via the Incarnation, he reveals much about the humanity to which we belong:  we are now enlightened by Christ.  Having once been darkened by the sin of Adam, human life is restored and re-dignified to an even greater height than when it was first made in the image and likeness of its Maker.
Humanity now counts the face of God among its own.
Read it all here.

The Fun Quotient... the fun with water-&-music edition- ya just gotta see it to understand.


If you've never seen how a Glass harp works, here's a fellow who gives you the basics...

And Robert Tiso is a master... here's something from "The Nutcracker" in keeping with the season...

If you are still looking for more, Pachibel's Canon in D performed by Tiso, is 7 minutes long.  He does all 4 parts in a split-screen video which is cool. Find it here.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Presence of Another... wonder regarding Advent, Maternity, and the Eucharist

Inspired by the Christmas cards I bought this year, my weekly column at Patheos discusses the mysteries of life in the womb, the incarnation of Christ, and the dynamism of the Real Presence of the Eucharist.  Here's an excerpt:

Mothers come to know their biological children in a way that defies proper explanation. This heartbeat and these first stirrings are an advent of that first encounter face to face.
And mothers expectantly await the meeting of this tiny one they know somewhat dimly, and yet intimately.
Presence. Heartbeat. Blood. Life. Relationship.
These are not just the proximities of maternity; they are the stuff of the once-invisible and inexpressible God entering our humanity and cleaving to us in ways unimaginable yet tangible. They hail Immanuel, “God-with-us”, (Is 7: 14, Mt 1: 23.)
And Mary gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths,                            and laid him in a manger… (Lk 2: 7.)
What started with Mary’s maternity has ramifications for all of us.
Mary’s precious womb contained the Body of Christ.
Two millennia later, Christians still recognize the Eucharist as becoming the true Body and Blood of Jesus. (Jn 6:53-56)
Eucharist is the sublime privilege of receiving Jesus inside our very selves bodily. 
Read the rest over here.


Did you know that you can subscribe to the Catholic Newsletter from Patheos? Just click here and then follow the prompts. (Be sure to check the Christian-Catholic box in order to receive the Catholic Newsletter, and save your changes at the bottom of the page.)

Then your newsletter will arrive in your email inbox, looking like this sample photo.  

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Among Women #82 - Joining with Mary in Advent

Among Women 82 celebrates the Advent season as we walk it and try to understand it through Mary's role in our life.  To do that, Pat shares a beautiful Advent poem, and some reflections about Mary's maternity and mothering of Jesus, and how that intersects with the mystery of the Eucharist and with our own lives.

We also welcome back Karen Edmisten who shares about her spiritual life and her mothering. She also reads seasonal excerpts from her new book, Through the Year with Mary. (A great gift for the new year!)

Find Karen's books here, and her blog here.

Among Women takes a break next week during Christmas, and returns on December 28 with a new episode.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

From Podcast Host to Interviewee: Catholic Vitamins' Deacon Tom & Dee turn the tables on me!

It was a pleasure to be interviewed by Deacon Tom Fox of the Catholic Vitamins podcast.  You can find the podcast here, or over at iTunes... look for "Vitamin J" for "Journey."

Thanks Tom and Dee, for your friendship and your wonderful ministry!

This makes me think.... Advent music break!

I love every single verse of this hymn...

First heard this on what-is-now an ancient album song known as "The Painter" where brother Terry and John Michael teamed up, over 20 years ago. I still have to hear it during Advent.
(This one is for all the guitarists out there.)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Am I not here, I who am your Mother? 
Are you not under my shadow and protection? 
Am I not the source of your joy? 
Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, 
in the crossing of my arms? 
Do you need something more? 
Let nothing else worry you or disturb you.

---Our Lady to Juan Diego

The miraculous image, which is preserved in the Basilica
of Our Lady of Guadalupe, shows a woman with native
features and dress. She is supported by an angel whose
wings are reminiscent of one of the major gods of the
traditional religion of that area. The moon is beneath her
feet and her blue mantle is covered with gold stars. The
black girdle about her waist signifies that she is pregnant.
Thus, the image graphically depicts the fact that Christ is
to be "born" again among the peoples of the New World,
and is a message as relevant to the "New World" today
as it was during the lifetime of Juan Diego.

--from the Vatican website.

Photos and information about the Guadalupe Shrine in Mexico City here.

While today is indeed the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Third Sunday of Advent takes prominence in the Liturgical Calendar at Sunday Mass.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

This struck me in today's Scripture...

My take on the Third Sunday of Advent is here. But, here is a snippet that discusses the First Reading from Isaiah: 

The imagery in Sunday's First Reading from Isaiah, recorded centuries before the first coming Christ, hints at this coming joy.
The desert and the parched land will exult; the steppe will rejoice and bloom.
They will bloom with abundant flowers, and rejoice with joyful song. The glory of Lebanon will be given to them, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the LORD, the splendor of our God . . .
Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you . . .
Those whom the LORD has ransomed will return and enter Zion singing, crowned with everlasting joy; 
they will meet with joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning will flee (Is. 35:1-2, 4, 10).
As always, there is much to meditate on, but the simple phrase that captures my attention as we come to this Sunday with joy is that once-and-future hope that the prophet gives about one day coming back to our true homeland, "crowned with everlasting glory."
And I wonder if we could envision ourselves on that special Day, would we live any differently than we do now?
After all, rejoicing, as a verb, means it is something that we do.
Read the whole thing here

A beautiful hymn that shares the meaning of Gaudete= "Rejoice!"

Translation of the Hymn "Gaudete! Gaudete!"

Gaudete! / Rejoice!
Gaudete! Christus est natus / Rejoice! Christ is born
Ex Maria virgine / Of the Virgin Mary
Gaudete! / Rejoice!
[Christus est natus] / [Christ is born] ..........[x3]

Tempus adest gratiae, / The time of grace has come
Hoc quod optabamus; / That we have desired;
Carmina laetitiae / Let us devoutly return
Devote reddamus. / Joyful verses.

Gaudete! .......... [x2]

Ergo nostra contio, / Therefore let our song
Psallat iam in lustro /; Now be sung in brightness
Benedicat Domino: / Let it give praise to the Lord:
Salus Regi nostro. / Greeting to our King.

Gaudete! .......... [x2]

Tempus adest gratiae, / The time of grace has come
Hoc quod optabamus; / That we have desired;
Carmina laetitiae / Let us devoutly return
Devote reddamus. / Joyful verses.

Gaudete! .......... [x2]


Words from Pope Benedict:
Here is your God,
he comes with vindication;
with divine recompense
he comes to save you.
Is 35:4

Christian joy thus springs from this certainty: God is close,
he is with me, he is with us, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness
and in health, as a friend and faithful spouse.

--Angelus, December 16, 2007

Catechism Trivia & History

Do you know the history of how the Catechism of the Catholic Church came to us?  Do you know who was the mastermind behind its text and organization?  Find out here in this post over at Amazing Catechists in my column on some of the trivia about the CCC that most folks have never known.

Here's a tease:

Just for a moment, consider that this global task began in the late 80s before widespread use of email and electronic reference texts and tools existed.  Not only that, you pretty much would want to hire a spiritual Superman for the job, given the impact this work is going to have. 
Imagine the job description:  
Wanted: Excellent communicator with a genius level understanding of Catholic doctrine and theology, coupled with a passionate fidelity to orthodoxy. Candidate should possess a pastor’s heart and concern for those who teach and learn the faith. Success as a published author a must!
There is more here.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

O Mary, What a Wonder! Our Lady Of Good Help Apparition Site Approved!

The leader of the Diocese of Green Bay, Bishop David Ricken, has approved apparitions of the Blessed Mother that once took place at what is now Our Lady of Good Help in Robinson, Wisconsin.  There's more information in the links below. The announcement was made on Dec. 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception.  What a gift for the Church in the U.S. !!

Here's the news bulletin from the Diocese of Green Bay, where the apparitions originated.

An article from The Compass, the diocesan newspaper in Green Bay.

Here's a slide show of the apparitions site.

Other links about this:

Thomas Peters (American Papist)  -nice video from Relevant Radio on this link!

Jimmy Akin


Third Week of Advent: that pink candle! And more!

My column, "A Word in Season", gives my musings about the pink candle and some of the context for Gaudete Sunday, the Third Sunday in Advent, (or Joy Sunday as we call it in our house -- the Sunday we begin to decorate our home and look a bit more Christmas-y as we continue our Advent devotions.)  
Here's a snippet:
A common sight in Advent, the pink or rose candle lit on the Third Sunday is a harbinger, a signpost, a little light that stirs the imagination. Something is a little bit different this week . . .
And what are we paying attention to? A respite from purple candles?  Um, in a way, yes.  But there is a much bigger picture, a broader context than ambience and church décor.  Like so many visuals in the Mass, color is just one of the things that corresponds to the liturgical season, always pointing to a deeper truth.
If the purple candles are to remind us of the penitential and preparatory season of Advent, then the pink or rose candle is there to remind us of the soon coming joy of Christmas and the future joy of Christ's coming again. Therefore, the object of our love and devotion should animate our penance, prayer, and service.

 You'll find the rest here. And you'll find earlier columns here.  Interested in subscribing to this column? Do so here. I'd be much obliged to have you as a regular reader.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Pause for this: Ave Maria - on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Over the years I have come to read and write many tributes to the Blessed Mother.  But in this season of waiting and watchfulness, I found this true story of "a living nativity" very touching. I also thought it sweet that the woman's name was Maria, Mary's namesake, even though the writer never names herself in this piece (let alone her blog), I appreciated this identification: "and for a moment, I had walked in Mary’s footsteps, and felt closer to her than I had ever before." Go read it.  Even better, add a soundtrack to the piece by clicking on the video below to hear the music Bocelli's soulful rendering of this Ave Maria as you do...


BTW, If you missed my article discussing the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, you'll find over at my column, "A Word in Season" on Patheos.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Among Women Podcast #81: Choosing Faith Amid Suffering, Part 2

Among Women 81 continues the conversation with our guest, Peggy Clores, in the conclusion of a two-part interview. This week, Peggy  shares her faith story as it intersects with her son's leukemia diagnosis.  Together, we talk at length at what it means to cling to faith when suffering threatens to overtake us.  Part 1 is here.

St Lucy, an early Christian martyr whose feast day is December 13, is also profiled.

Don't forget that Among Women is an affiliate of SQPN, and December marks the annual giving campaign to support the mission of SQPN and Catholic podcasting. If Among Women is a force for good in your life, please consider making a year-end gift to SQPN. (While AW does not receive any funds directly, it does benefit from its affiliation in SQPN's line-up.) Please make a donation here. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

New TV Show tailored for women coming in the Spring '11: Catholic View ...

More details about The Catholic View for Women.  Give them your input!

This makes me think.... about St Nick

Happy St. Nicholas Day!
O good holy Nicholas, 
you who brought joy to children, 
put in my heart the spirit of childhood
about which the Gospel speaks. 
Teach me how to sow
happiness around me.
From the Catholic Encyclopedia at New Advent:

(Also called NICHOLAS OF BARI).
Bishop of Myra in Lycia; died 6 December, 345 or 352. Though he is one of the most popular saints in the Greek as well as the Latin Church, there is scarcely anything historically certain about him except that he was Bishop of Myra in the fourth century....
The following places honour him as patronGreeceRussia, the Kingdom of NaplesSicilyLorraine, the Diocese of Liège; many cities in ItalyGermanyAustria, andBelgium; Campen in the NetherlandsCorfu in GreeceFreiburg in Switzerland; and Moscow in Russia. He is patron of mariners, merchants, bakers, travellers, children, etc. His representations in art are as various as his alleged miracles. In GermanySwitzerland, and the Netherlands, they have the custom of making him the secret purveyor of gifts to children on 6 December, the day on which the Church celebrates his feast; in the United States and some other countries St. Nicholas has become identified with Santa Claus who distributes gifts to children on Christmas eve. 
His relics are still preserved in the church of San Nicola in Bari; up to the present day an oily substance, known as Manna di S. Nicola, which is highly valued for its medicinal powers, is said to flow from them.

image credit

Saturday, December 4, 2010

This struck me in today's Scripture...

Readings: Is 11:1-10; Ps. 72:1-2,7-8,12-13,17. Rom 15:4-9; Mt 3:1-12

You could say that the power of the Holy Spirit acts as the bookends that the four Sunday readings rest between.

The First Reading opens thus from Isaiah11:

On that day, a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse,
and from his roots a bud shall blossom.

The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him:

a spirit of wisdom and of understanding,

a spirit of counsel and of strength,

a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD,

and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD.

These verses are where the Church classically lists as the Gifts of the Holy Spirit: Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Strength (also known as Fortitude), Knowledge, and Fear of the Lord.  And the Church adds Piety, as it is implied by a life of faith.

These are the Gifts we received in Baptism and were completed in us in Confirmation. We cannot advance in the spiritual life without these gifts.  They come straight from God. We did not earn them. We did not win them.

These seven gifts from God put us in touch most profoundly with the Holy Spirit…which means these graces are meant to sanctify us.

Sanctifying graces are those that are aimed at making the recipient holy.  So, stop and read this:  “Sanctifying grace gives the soul the radical ability to take in the face to face vision of God in the next life.”- Fr. William Most
When we live those gifts well, we grow closer to our Lord and to his people.
Lets’s review the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit. What are they?  Wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, fortitude, piety and fear of the Lord.
The first four gifts are for the mind: aiding the mind by the intellectual growth of the faith of the person: wisdom, knowledge, counsel, understanding.  When these gifts are working well, they are efficacious in our lives -- battling the forces of ignorance, distractions, false idols, or inner blindness…
The other three gifts deal with the heart: fortitude, piety and fear of the Lord enrich the soul's affectivity – that means your emotional life. They enable us to stand faithful and firm.
When all these gifts of the spirit are operational  in some measure in our life, the whole person, in mind and heart, is drawn to beatitude and fullness of life with, in, and for God.
The Gifts of the Holy Spirit enables us to live the Christian life. With them we can reflect the life of Christ in us. Through them, we mirror Christ.

Now, in the Gospel, there is much to ponder in a strong sermon from John the Baptist… but what caught my attention was, again, this mention of the Spirit, from Matthew 3:
I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, 
but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I.  I am not worthy to carry his sandals.  
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
With Jesus comes the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit empowers us, or more specifically, when we allow the Holy Spirit to empower us, and we don’t thwart his leadings, we can lead lives of virtue and service, peace and justice, and great faith, hope and love.  We see all of these things extolled in the Sunday readings… if you read them in full.

Some thoughts from Pope Benedict:

Justice shall be the band around his waist,
and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.
Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the kid;
the calf and the young lion shall browse together,
with a little child to guide them.
-Is 11:5-6

Advent is particularly suited to being a season lived in communion
with all those who—and thanks be to God they
are numerous—hope for a more just and a more fraternal world.
In this commitment to justice, people of every nationality and
culture, believers and non-believers, can to a certain extent
meet. Indeed, they are all inspired by a common desire, even if
their motivations are different, for a future of justice and peace.

-Homily in Celebration of the First Vespers
of the First Sunday of Advent, December 2, 2006

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"

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