It’s been quite a while since I talked about what I’m hoarding away in my Pocketses, so I thought I’d do a sampling of those treasures tonight. Fasten your seatbelts, it’s gonna be an eclectic ride!
Let’s start with something sweet. This Peaches ‘n’ Cream Bars recipe is one that I wont be sampling any time soon, thanks to my new ketogenic diet program. But I’m posting it anyway, because I just love the very idea of it. And someday I will taste it, and it will have been worth the wait.
Here’s a little video that explores the meaning of dyscalulia:
What is happening to the Church of Our Savior in NYC is a terrible shame. It pains me – and I mean that literally! I feel it viscerally (so much so that speech eludes me) though I can’t explain why. Perhaps it is as an artist, certainly it is as a Catholic who values the spiritual benefit of sacred art. I must sit a while and pray on these things and give them to the Lord.
by Dr. Leroy Huizenga
By Steve Skojec
Just read this today by an editorial intern named Gregory Brown, at Public Discourse. It’s quite well written and thought provoking.
I am certainly convinced that there are many and complex reasons why an individual may not be able to connect with the biological sex with which they are born. They deserve to be taken seriously, and they absolutely deserve compassion. The greatest expression of compassion, in my view, is to assist them in becoming fully integrated humans, by helping them to realign their perception of self with reality.
There has been much social media outrage over the undercover videos exposing how Planned Parenthood is profiting from the post-abortion sale of human organs. Is there enough outrage? Is outrage enough? John Zmirak says no. What else can be said at this stage of history but Lord, have mercy. Help us, even now, to do what is right. Defunding Planned Parenthood is the very least we should do.
By John Zmirak
I don’t have much of a view from my walled, suburban back yard, but occasionally, if I am at my computer at just the right time of day, I can catch a glimpse of something glorious out the westward looking window by my desk. Tonight’s sunset was beautiful. Thank you, Lord.
For days such as these ….
…. yes, for days such as these, we give thanks for the sustaining hand of God the Father, and the mighty prayers of the Blessed Mother, who is often called Our Mother of Perpetual Help.
St. James the Apostle is sometimes called James the Greater. He and his brother, St. John the Evangelist, were the sons of Zebedee, and were the second pair of brothers Jesus called from their work as fishermen to be his disciples — the first two being Peter and Andrew (Mark 1:14-20).
Together with his brother John and St. Peter, he was witness to the Transfiguration of our Lord. Jesus called James and John the “Sons of Thunder”. Luke describes how they reacted when the Samaritans would not welcome Jesus as he was on his way to Jerusalem: “When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, ‘Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?’ Jesus turned and rebuked them…” (Luke 9:54-55).
At another time, they had the audacity to ask the Lord that they might be seated one on his right hand and one on his left in the Kingdom of Heaven. When he asked if they could drink the cup that he must drink, they boldly declared “We can!”. He went on to prophesy that they would indeed drink the same cup – that of martyrdom. (Matthew 20:20-28)
Our Lord’s words were fulfilled when James the Greater became the first of the apostles to be martyred. “About that time King Herod laid hands upon some members of the church to harm them. He had James, the brother of John, killed by the sword, and when he saw that this was pleasing to the Jews he proceeded to arrest Peter also” (Acts 12:1-3a)
The shrine to St. James the Greater, or El Senor Santiago, at Santiago de Compostela, has been a place of pilgrimage for many centuries. Read more about St. James.
Almighty ever-living God,
who consecrated the first fruits of your Apostles by the blood of Saint James,
grant, we pray,
that your Church may be strengthened by his confession of faith and constantly sustained by his protection.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
She is called “the Penitent”. St. Mary was given the name ‘Magdalen’ because, though aJewish girl, she lived in a Gentile town called Magdale, in northern Galilee, and her culture and manners were those of a Gentile. St. Luke records that she was a notorious sinner, and had seven devils removed from her. She was present at Our Lords’ Crucifixion, and with Joanna and Mary, the mother of James and Salome, at Jesus’ empty tomb. Fourteen years after Our Lord’s death, St. Mary was put in a boat by the Jews without sails or oars – along with Sts. Lazarus and Martha, St. Maximin (who baptized her), St. Sidonius (“the man born blind”), her maid Sera, and the body of St. Anne, the mother of the Blessed Virgin. They were sent drifting out to sea and landed on the shores of Southern France, where St. Mary spent the rest of her life as a contemplative in a cave known as Sainte-Baume. She was given the Holy Eucharist daily by angels as her only food, and died when she was 72. St. Mary was transported miraculously, just before she died, to the chapel of St. Maximin, where she received the last sacraments.
More about this saint: St. Mary Magdalen (Feast day – July 22) Mary Magdalen was well known as a sinner when she first saw Our Lord. She was very beautiful and very proud, but after she met Jesus, she felt great sorrow for her evil life. When Jesus went to supper at the home of a rich man named Simon, Mary came to weep at His feet. Then with her long beautiful hair, she wiped His feet dry and anointed them with expensive perfume. Some people were surprised that Jesus let such a sinner touch Him, but Our Lord could see into Mary’s heart, and He said: “Many sins are forgiven her, because she has loved very much.” Then to Mary He said kindly, “Your faith has made you safe; go in peace.” From then on, with the other holy women, Mary humbly served Jesus and His Apostles. When Our Lord was crucified, she was there at the foot of His cross, unafraid for herself, and thinking only of His sufferings. No wonder Jesus said of her: “She has loved much.” After Jesus’ body had been placed in the tomb, Mary went to anoint it with spices early Easter Sunday morning. Not finding the Sacred Body, she began to weep, and seeing someone whom she thought was the gardener, she asked him if he knew where the Body of her beloved Master had been taken. But then the person spoke in a voice she knew so well: “Mary!” It was Jesus, risen from the dead! He had chosen to show Himself first to Mary Magdalen, the repentent sinner. (Read more about Mary Magdalene)
whose Only Begotten Son entrusted Mary Magdalene before all others
with announcing the great joy of the Resurrection,
grant, we pray,
that through her intercession and example
we may proclaim the living Christ
and come to see him reigning in your glory.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
If you google “Why I am Catholic” you will come up with a LOT of hits. It would seem to indicate that this is a pretty hot topic. You might even land at this website, which is devoted to Catholic conversion stories, or on the Patheos blog by Frank Weathers that is entirely focused on answering that question.
I have been asked time after time to tell the story behind my conversion to the Catholic Church, and always my response has been “I’m going to write about that… I’m working on it.” And it’s really true. I have started to write this amazing story more times than I can count. But it’s a colossal undertaking. It essentially encompasses my entire autobiography, my whole spiritual journey which started at birth, and really even before my birth, because it all started with my father — and my friends, that story is too big for me to tackle. I would need a more organized mind, a better memory, greater spiritual discernment and wisdom, and considerably more skill as a writer if I were to have any hope of doing it justice.
But it has occurred to me that maybe, perhaps, I can follow in Frank Weathers’ footsteps and go at this in a piecemeal fashion, examining some of the many questions that I found answered in the fullness of the Catholic Church and nowhere else. Fair warning: As I post about this from time to time, I will probably link to articles frequently, because I did so very much reading as I was converting. Just trust me when I say, if I post a link, it’s because another author’s explanation is better than anything I could come up with on my own. If you are really interested in my story, you’ll want to read the part of it that they wrote!
So here we go – the first installment of Nettie’s Story: Why I Am Catholic. I can’t promise that you will find “the last answer” to any question here; but I can promise that I will try to point you toward answers that I have found satisfactory – however clumsy, incomplete, and haphazard my attempts may be.
The word “credo” is Latin for “I believe,” the first words in the two creeds that are primarily used on a regular basis in the Mass: The Apostle’s Creed and the Nicene Creed. The first that I learned, and the first that I taught my children when they were still tiny, is the Apostle’s Creed, one of the earliest formal statements of Christian belief:
Credo in Deum Patrem omnipotentem, Creatorem caeli et terrae,et in Iesum Christum,
Filium Eius unicum, Dominum nostrum,
qui conceptus est de Spiritu Sancto,
natus ex Maria Virgine, passus sub Pontio Pilato, crucifixus, mortuus, et sepultus,
descendit ad inferos, tertia die resurrexit a mortuis,
ascendit ad caelos, sedet ad dexteram Patris omnipotentis, inde venturus est iudicare vivos et mortuos.
Credo in Spiritum Sanctum,sanctam Ecclesiam catholicam, sanctorum communionem,remissionem peccatorum,carnis resurrectionem,vitam aeternam.
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth;
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son Our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into Hell; the third day He rose again from the dead;
He ascended into Heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.
I suppose it was in the early 2000’s that I began to ponder the question in my mind (often as I was sitting in church, because my mind wanders and runs off on tangents that way): What do these words mean to me? What do they mean to this particular community of Christians? How is that different from what they mean to other communities of Christians? And most importantly, what did these words mean to the original authors, the apostles themselves and their earliest successors? That right there was the critical question. If what we mean when we say these words is different from what they meant in the beginning, why is that? And how do I know what the true meaning is?
Because there can’t be more than one true meaning. That would be nonsense.
So I went looking for answers – or more precisely, I went looking for the truth. (Autobiographical note: One of the things that has always made me giddy with delight is listening to (or reading) debates and dialogues about theology. In my teens, I used to sit and listen to the men of our church discuss theology, philosophy and apologetics as long as I possibly could. To say I was fascinated would be a gross understatement. I was a through-and-through fan-girl.) In those days (the early 2000’s), I was reading a tremendous amount from Reformed theologians as well as blogs where Reformed pastors commented (and argued) at length. I confess that I lurked. I was a consummate lurker. I lurked, and then I went and found the blogs of some of the commenters, and I read and followed their comments, and so on and so on.
Over time, I noticed something interesting and surprising. Being Reformed blogs, while the general level of discussion was usually blunt, the commentary was uniformly vitriolic about the Catholic Church. That was a bit off putting – I couldn’t understand the seething hatred, especially from men who purported to be spiritual leaders and shepherds. But what surprised and interested me most was the calm, rational, and charitable response consistently given by Catholics who commented there. I was intrigued, I was drawn in – especially when it seemed that there were no good Reformed responses to the Catholic position, for all the sound and fury. I wanted to know more about these Catholics, what their background was, why they were so patient, loving, and unflappable in the face of this kind of opposition.
So I went, as was my custom, and found the blog of the primary Catholic interlocutor on several of the Reformed sites, and that’s when I fell down the rabbit hole, so to speak. I discovered Principium Unitatis: A blog dedicated to the reunion of all Christians, and then in 2009, Called To Communion: Reformation Meets Rome, where I got a front row seat in watching dialogue unfold between (primarily) men who were almost all trained in Reformed seminaries – but half of whom had gone on to become Catholic. What could be more fun for a theology geek like me? By that time, as much as I had read, I was pretty well convinced of the truth of the Catholic position, and reading lengthy, footnoted articles about Catholic doctrine, followed by comment threads that ran into the hundreds and thoroughly answered every conceivable objection raised, helped greatly in solidifying my understanding of the Church with which I now wanted desperately to be fully united.
As I mentioned it was 2009, and I was eagerly reading and learning as fast as I could. And then the unexpected happened. On April 8th, 2009, Wednesday morning of Holy Week, my father, a permanent deacon in the Reformed Episcopal Church, died. There is much about that time that is burned into my heart; but perhaps the most profound experience of my life occurred during Easter morning worship with the King of Glory Reformed Episcopal Church family. Surrounded by this tightly knit family of believers, united in mourning the loss of both a spiritual and earthly father, yet inexplicably, unimaginably, raising our hearts in praise to our Heavenly Father for the great hope of all hopes given to us by His Son’s death and resurrection, I was lifted up to Heaven during that service – and experienced the time-transcending worship of the communion of the saints! I understood in that moment what the creed really meant, and I was flooded with an almost blinding joy, followed by surpassing peace.
About a year and a half later, our family entered RCIA, and at Easter Vigil in 2011 we were received into full communion with the Catholic Church – and on that day, the longing of my heart was fulfilled.
Of course, I haven’t stopped reading and learning! I’ve consumed a few dozen books in the last 5 years. And although I don’t quite have the time to keep up with the Called to Communion articles and their comboxes, I have several favorite authors I find helpful and I squeeze in some reading when I can. Just this morning I read a particularly excellent article on the topic of the Communion of the Saints that prompted me to finally begin this process. I urge you to go to National Catholic Register and read
by Mark Shea
For those who are interested in further exploration and reading, about this or any other “Catholic question”, drop me a note in the comment box and I will be happy to either answer, or (more likely) direct you to competent authors who can do a better job than yours truly.
23 Woe to the pastors, that destroy and tear the sheep of my pasture, saith the Lord.
2 Therefore thus saith the Lord the God of Israel to the pastors that feed my people: You have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold I will visit upon you for the evil of your doings, saith the Lord.
3 And I will gather together the remnant of my flock, out of all the lands into which I have cast them out: and I will make them return to their own fields, and they shall increase and be multiplied.
4 And I will set up pastors over them, and they shall feed them: they shall fear no more, and they shall not be dismayed: and none shall be wanting of their number, saith the Lord.
5 Behold the days come, saith the Lord, and I will raise up to David a just branch: and a king shall reign, and shall be wise, and shall execute judgement and justice in the earth.
6 In those days shall Juda be saved, and Israel shall dwell confidently: and this is the name that they shall call him: the Lord our just one.
13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall[a] of hostility, 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby bringing the hostility to an end.17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; 18 for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord;
I know them, and they follow me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
30 And the apostles coming together unto Jesus, related to him all things that they had done and taught.
31 And he said to them: Come apart into a desert place, and rest a little. For there were many coming and going: and they had not so much as time to eat.
32 And going up into a ship, they went into a desert place apart.
33 And they saw them going away, and many knew: and they ran flocking thither on foot from all the cities, and were there before them.
34 And Jesus going out saw a great multitude: and he had compassion on them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd, and he began to teach them many things.
Birthday photo shoot today with my lovely daughter.
Today we celebrate my second-born daughter’s final birthday of her teens. She is 19 today. XIX years of age. It boggleth the mind of a mother.
This has been a year of recognition for Megan. While she continues to express her artistic nature in many ways, including singing in the Cathedral choir, novel writing, and drawing, she has found a new focus and purpose in life. It has been a beautiful thing to see her discover in herself a gift for and delight in interacting with young children through her work in after-care. She is a wonderful big sister to her active and high-strung four-year-old little brother, with a special bond of love and communication. She’s been his pre-school teacher for the last few months, and I’m indebted to her for the foundation she’s laid for me, as I will be taking over in the fall when her college classes begin. I am so happy to see her zeroing in on early childhood education as a career path that ignites her enthusiasm!
Wishing I could give my girl a suitably fabulous gift – like world travel, or a car with air conditioning. Alas, I have not the means. I am ever-grateful for the day God brought you to us, and for the strong, beautiful, creative woman you have become; and I will continue —
6 Being confident of this very thing, that he, who hath begun a good work in you, will perfect it unto the day of Christ Jesus. — Philippians 1:6 Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)
While I do think there are degrees of persecution, and as of yet no one in this country is being threatened by systematic enslavement and beheading such as Christians in the Middle East are experiencing daily at the hands of ISIS, still, there is a rapidly growing antagonism in the U.S. to Christian religious expression. Stories of Christians losing their jobs for expressing their deeply held religious convictions, being attacked in the streets, spit upon, cursed, and reviled, and this kind of blind hate, flow across my feed on a daily basis. Today it brought to mind this passage:
12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory,[e] which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you.[f] 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, a criminal, or even as a mischief maker. 16 Yet if any of you suffers as a Christian, do not consider it a disgrace, but glorify God because you bear this name.17 For the time has come for judgment to begin with the household of God; if it begins with us, what will be the end for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And
19 Therefore, let those suffering in accordance with God’s will entrust themselves to a faithful Creator, while continuing to do good.
We should prepare ourselves for what is to come. This is truly a post-Christian society. “Do not be surprised!” May we draw closer to our Blessed Lord, and join our sufferings, whether large or small, with His, and to His glory.
Saturday we stayed close to home, mostly by necessity since the ferocious looking skies not only threatened rain, they fulfilled their promise repeatedly. Between thunderstorms, Geneva and I tried to go for a driving lesson, which was only moderately successful since we came all too soon to a portion of the road with standing water and mud that I did not want to risk driving through even with the Izuzu Rodeo. The venture wasn’t a total loss, as Geneva got to honk at cows lying in the road, and also experience the joys of fishtailing.
Back at the ranch, I was outside looking at the skies, when I turned and managed to get my camera barely focused as a canine melee erupted between Gwinny, Ambrose, and the neighbor dog, Lucky. Gwinny was remarkable put out for some reason, I guess she thought the proud little Chihuahua needed to be taken down a peg. It didn’t take much — she’s pretty convincing when she wants to be.
The afternoon brought some quality time at the shooting range. I can’t believe it’s been so long since I actually got to fire my Ruger… need to practice more often, I hit 8/10 the first clip, and then 2/10 the second. Not so good. The kids had a good time, as always, and mugged for the camera when it wasn’t their turn to shoot.
Our last night of the weekend, July 4th, the skies were just starting to clear, but the firewood was too wet to bother with a campfire. We ended the day with sandwiches and chips, and a walk down to the mud canyon with the dogs and Junior. He got thoroughly muddy jumping and splashing in large puddles in the road, and came back to the cabin shivering but happy. The only glimpse of sunset the whole weekend was over a mesa far to the south.
We planned to get up around 4 Sunday morning, but we all kind of woke up about ten minutes early and thus were on the road before sunrise. We made it to the bottom of the Salt River Canyon by 7am, which afforded us a little stop to run the dogs and get the wiggles out (though not one which involved fording the river, thankfully). Despite the rainy weekend, we were all well satisfied with our get away, and so thankful as always for time together, and a safe ride home again.