The end of a journey and the beginning of another…

I’m done!!!

Last month I took my 8th course at the Theology of the Body Institute and officially “graduated.”

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The work isn’t completely over though. I still need to complete a practicum consisting of several pages of journal entries and reflections on the entire Theology of the Body. I also need to submit 2 hours of recorded material of how exactly I will be using this certification. It’s a lot of work but I’m actually really excited about starting it. And thankfully, I have a year to complete it.

A few of my friends that I graduated with and I reflected on the past 8 courses and what we were thinking and feeling as far as emotions. And none of us really felt sadness at the end of this journey. I thought maybe that was strange but the more I thought about it, I think it’s because it feels more like a beginning of something rather than a conclusion.

I’ll miss my TOB buddies that I’ve met on this 4.5 year journey. Thankfully, our paths will cross again because the TOB world is pretty close-knit.

Speaking of my TOB fam, here are all of the Grads from this course:

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And here are ALL of my TOB family members, starting with my first course. Bonus points if you can find not just ME in the photos but “repeaters” in some of them too. Enjoy!

Theology of the Body 1 – June 2015

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Catholic Sexual Ethics – August 2015

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Love and Responsibility – May 2016

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Theology of the Body II – Into the Deep – June 2016

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Theology of the Body and the Way of Beauty – May 2017

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Theology of the Body and the Interior Life – October 2018

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Theology of the Body III and the New Evangelization – January 2019

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The Writings of John Paul II on Gender, Marriage and Family – January 2020

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Daily Mass Project – Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

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Wednesday, January 1, 2020 – Private mass at my friend Dawn’s chapel in her house, Lansing, MI (Yes, Dawn has a chapel in her house. Being a Consecrated Virgin affords her that awesome privilege!)

Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

Celebrant: Fr. John Whitlock

Homily Reflection: A homily geared specifically to the small audience of three women – myself, another discerner, and Dawn who was Consecrated to a Life of Virginity in November.  (Check out photos from this blessed event here as she and another young woman were both Consecrated by Bishop Earl Boyea)

Fr. John started out by saying that all of us are called to fathers and mothers. He then put forth a few questions for us to reflect on: How am I specifically called to be a mother, a spiritual mother? What does that look like in my life since I’m not married to an earthly spouse? The short answer – Imitate Mary, specifically focus on her relationship with Jesus. He asked us to focus on the times, as a Mother, the times of “being with” and “being without” Jesus.

For example, Jesus was with her in her womb. He was without her and Joseph when he was absent from them for 3 days while they sought him and found him in his Father’s house. She was with him for 30 years. But she was without him (at least at certain moments) throughout his public ministry. She was with Him while He was dying on the cross, but then she was without Him when he was in tomb.

Another way to imitate Mary is to acquire a motherly heart. Mary no doubt had moments of consolation and desolation and that’s not unlike what all of us endure in our spiritual lives. And during those moments of being with, those are the times of consolation. The moments of being without, those are the times of desolation.

He then had us think of the spiritual children who are brought into our lives for a time. Just like biological and adoptive parents, whose children are with them until they leave the nest, so we may encounter our own spiritual children who will be with us for a time before moving on. God does indeed bring people into our lives for a time. As difficult as it can be to let go, love doesn’t cling, it only gives. Jesus is the only One we cling to.

It can be difficult, especially in seasons of discerning your vocation, when it feels like Jesus is asleep on the boat, when it doesn’t feel like He’s speaking to us. Fr. John quoted an Archbishop who said, “At those times when Jesus is asleep on the boat, that’s when we should love Him even more.” Because He’s always at work in us. He’s there working in our soul.

Finally, Fr. John called us to pray for our spiritual children, “with and without” us.

Holy Moments: This was 3rd annual New Years Eve “retreat” with Dawn and other discerning women and I think it may have been my favorite. There’s really nothing quite like ringing in the New Year with Jesus and a few close friends. If you ever have the opportunity, I highly recommend the quiet and silence of a retreat as opposed to the fireworks and noise makers (depending on your season of life, of course). And for those of us who consider it a miracle that we can even stay awake until midnight on New Years Eve, this is the way to do it!

Mary, Mother of God, pray for us!


 

Daily Mass Project – Christmas Day and the Feast of St. John the Evangelist

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Our Lady of Good Counsel – Plymouth, MI – Christmas Day Mass – 12pm

Presider: A visiting priest who probably has a lovely name but I never asked so I don’t know. #HugeFail

Gospel: MT 1:18-25

Homily Reflection: Father reflected on how it must have been an exciting time for all the holy people back when Gabriel went to Mary. As they await her answer. And then the unbelievable JOY that took place at the moment of her fiat.  As Mary goes in haste to visit Elizabeth, what does she do but brings Jesus to Elizabeth. Fast forward to the Wedding at Cana. Mary takes the waiters to Jesus. It’s what Mary does – she brings people to Jesus. When talking about the angels going to the shepherds, Fr. said that God “unleashed the angels.” They are glorifying God now at this moment.

He then mentioned to reflect on Joseph and Mary’s journey in these last days, finding no room to have their baby. They are tired and in desperate need. Maybe that’s how we’re feeling right now? Just glad that Christmas has arrived and tired instead of feeling that joy that we should be feeling. God says to let it go and rejoice! Joseph and Mary are at peace as they look at their child and don’t think about that tiresome journey it took to get there. Lastly, he said to go back in Scripture and place yourself at the scene of the nativity. “Open up your heart and soul like never before & invite Him in. Today, we celebrate His birth now and forever.”

Holy Moments: It’s Christmas Day at my home parish – The whole day was a holy moment.


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Our Lady of the Rosary – Detroit, MI – Friday December 27th – 5:30pm – Feast of St. John the Apostle and Evangelist

A true Daily Mass – A random Friday evening with about 7 of my closest friends. 😉

Presider: Fr. Marko Djonovic, Founder and Director of Better Way Detroit – a ministry that provides dignity to the homeless by offering work for pay to help beautify the city of Detroit.

Initial thoughts: I visited Holy Rosary about 8 months ago. (or maybe a year ago by now, I can’t recall). It didn’t have a crucifix and it didn’t have pews – so they’ve made vast improvement since the last time I was there.

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Homily reflection: Short and sweet. Father reminded us that John is the disciple that Jesus loved, that stayed with Jesus at the foot of the cross. He didn’t waiver in his trust and love for Jesus and that’s what God is asking us to do. To stay close and trust and love our Lord. To stand with Mary at his feet and imitate St. John in his spiritual companionship.

Holy moments: Seeing a few familiar faces in the pews. Mass was followed by adoration and confession. Not a bad way to spend a Friday night!

St. John the Evangelist, pray for us!


Up next week – The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God at my friend’s house – Yes, we had a private mass at her house in her chapel and I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

Daily Mass Project – 4th Week of Advent – Names, Kneelers and Nephews

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St. Albert the Great – North Royalton, OH – Fourth Sunday of Advent – Dec 22nd

Presider: Fr. Joshua Trefney, Parochial Vicar

1st Reading: Isaiah 7:10-14

2nd Reading: Romans 1:1-7

Gospel: Matthew 1:18-24

Initial thoughts: The one thing (besides having the most beautiful adoration chapel) that I always liked about St. Albert’s is that their bulletin has a little Lectio Divina for everyone to do for the following week’s readings. So this way, you aren’t just skimming the bulletin – you could take it home and pray with it.

I’ve been to this parish several times since it’s just down the street from my childhood home and I have met a very dear friend of mine in the pews here too. (Hi Ivi!) It’s a gorgeous parish and it is clearly thriving. They are also celebrating their 60th year which is crazy to think that I attended it as a kid (when we couldn’t make it to our home parish of St. Anthony’s) in the late 80’s in just their 28th year.

Homily reflection: Fr. Joshua preached on our names and how we come to be named. Clearly, our parents make this decision but there’s usually a meaning behind why they chose that particular name for us. (A family name, a unique spelling of your name, maybe they even prayed about it before naming you).

Sidenote: Whenever anyone talks about how they got their name, I tell them that according to someone in my family (this story has been disputed by my parents at separate times but SOMEONE said it was true) but apparently they were trying to come up with names for me and the phone rang, either Mom or Dad answered, the person asked for a Michelle, they told them it was the wrong number, hung up and said, “Michelle, that’s a good name. Let’s name her that!” I like to think the story is true even if they dispute its validity.

Back to the homily – Every name has a meaning. The prime example is Moses and burning bush talking to God and God reveals His name “I AM WHO AM.” I am the foundation of all reality, the Creator of the world and everything in it. God also reveals His heart to His people. Emmanuel has a meaning, “God with us.” God is always present and never abandons us. Jesus means, “God saves,” the Savior of the world. Our names define who we are, too.

Another sidenote: One of my most prized possessions is a little wooden plaque with my name on it that says “Godly One.” My parents had one for myself and my siblings and mine hung on my wall above my dresser and I would just stare at it, wondering, “Godly one? Me???” But I still have it to this day and it’s one of the few things I have kept from my childhood that hangs in my room. Who knows where Mom bought it but I will always treasure it.

Fr. Joshua concluded by mentioning that in the book of Revelation, it says that we will one day know the name GOD calls us.

“To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written, which no one knows except him who receives it.” Revelation 2:17.

Holy moments: I had to confirm I wasn’t hearing things when, during the Eucharistic prayer, Fr. Joshua added the names of “St. Raphael and St. Dysmas” after St. Albert. Turns out they’re his patron saints. I have recently learned a lot about St. Raphael the Archangel and so I thought that was a little “sign” that perhaps I was really supposed to be at this particular mass. Plus, it occured at a moment when my mind was wandering (oops!) and this was probably God’s way of hitting me on the head to pay attention.

St. Raphael, pray for us!


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St. Charles Borromeo – Parma, OH – Fourth Sunday of Advent – Dec 22nd – Noon mass

Yes I double dipped. And I’m not sorry. 😉

Readings: (See above)

I really wanted to go because my nephew was serving and I sat in the pew with my other nephew which was such a treat. Proud, proud auntie!

I did however manage to sit in a cushioned pew!! Ha! Apparently only a few pews have cushioned seats. Wow, what a treat! It’s the little things…

Presider: Fr. Lou Thomas, Parochial Vicar

Homily Reflection: Well finally, someone preached the homily I have NEVER heard before on St. Joseph but always wanted to. I was just talking to someone about the “house of David” thing and how it just baffled me: Jesus is from the house of David…but it’s Mary’s DNA that’s in him, not Joseph’s. Right? So how can we really say He’s from the lineage of David if that’s Joseph’s line and not Mary’s? That has bothered me to the point of tears in praying about it because I felt like I was questioning the entire Incarnation. Fr. Lou explained that in those days, it’s not like anyone would ever question family lineage by DNA. There was literally no difference between a biological father, a foster father, a guardian father, etc. You’re the father? You’re the father. Period. So that really helped me understand it better.

Holy Moments: The sign of peace with my 6’2″ nephew and watching my other nephew serve and carry the cross. “I volunteered to carry the cross for you, Auntie!” My heart was leaping. Also, the Communion Chant was “O Holy Mary.” SO beautiful and one I know I’ve never heard before in my other mass experiences. And kudos to the violinist. I’d love to hear a violinist at every liturgy. Outstanding job!

St. Joseph, pray for us!


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Church of the Holy Angels – Bainbridge, OH – 9am – Monday December 23rd (Chapel mass)

My former parish! I saw some good friends I hadn’t seen in quite some time. Always nice to see familiar faces.

Gospel: Luke 1:57-66

Presider: Fr. Max Cole Pastor and Deacon Vince Belsito

Homily Reflection: Deacon Vince gave a great homily about the question in the Gospel, “What will this child be?” He used a real life example of the only child in the chapel for mass that day and asked the mother if she ever wonders what her child will be. Deacon Vince is a teacher so he always wondered that of his students. Heck, I’m still wondering what will become of me and I’m 41!

In the meantime, he asked that we reflect on that question and I remember thinking, “I don’t need to write any of this down because for sure I’ll remember it.”

Well, I can’t recall anything else from that homily so that’s about it. In my defense, I wasn’t preparing to blog about it so that’s my excuse.

Holy Moments: During the prayers of the faithful, the priest asks for the people in attendance to speak their prayers out loud if they wish so it’s always interesting to me to hear what specific prayers people are asking for. There was always one woman when I would attend there who every single mass would pray “For the lost souls and those separated from the church, that the light of God shine upon them.” So even if no one felt like speaking up, she would always say that, without fail. This particular mass was for a gentleman’s mother who passed and so he spoke up and thanked everyone for supporting him and thanked us all for praying for her. So while some may say it’s a distraction to others to hear all of these prayers being said out loud (one at a time of course), I did appreciate hearing from him since I could remember her when it came time for the Eucharist.

Bonus material: So here’s a question to ponder: If you have a chapel with kneelers, should they be used? I noticed that only a few of us knelt during the Eucharistic prayers and everyone else remained standing. Maybe this is because in the Worship Space, there are no kneelers. So it’s what people are USED to. But, I was told by a priest once: “If you have kneelers, you use them.” Why not have the presiding priest simply suggest, “If you are able, please kneel?” That would seem to solve that issue. Speaking simply for myself, it helps me enter in more fully to this mystery that I’m about to take in the precious Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord. I can reflect and think about that much more deeply when I’m in a posture of humility, is all I’m saying. Feel free to comment and tell me otherwise!

In the meantime, my prayer is that someday a tabernacle will be placed in the sanctuary. And maybe some kneelers too. 😉

Our Lady, Queen of the Angels, pray for us.


 

Daily Mass Project Returns – 2nd & 3rd Week of Advent

Merry Christmas to you all. It’s been almost two months since my last post and as I’ve mentioned before, I despise it when people have blogs and only blog literally a few times a year. Irks me to no end.

I have gone back and forth about completely deleting the site. But then something happens and I’m back to blogging on a temporary basis.

I have also expressed a few times that nothing made me happier than to do The Daily Mass Project almost 3 years ago now. 85 parishes in a year and a half and it was absolutely the most fun, most fulfilling project I have done. And it’s STILL on the bucket list to convert all the blog entries into a PDF or ebook or an actual book. Someday…

It was something that gave this site some purpose and I know a few friends had asked if I would ever start it up again here in Detroit. There’s really no way it can happen on a regular basis, BUT, I am going to try to blog about the masses I do make it to that aren’t at my home parish of OLGC. And it turns out, with Advent and Christmas and New Years, I have already attended a handful that could use a little blog.

So for the next few weeks, I hope you enjoy this temporary resurrection of the DMP.


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St. John Neumann – Canton, MI – Second Sunday of Advent – December 8th 2019, 6pm

Celebrant: Fr. Mark Livingston, Pastor

I first visited SJN almost a year ago and wrote about that mass here.

This time, since it was a Sunday mass and not a daily, the experience was much different.

1st Reading: Isaiah 11:1-10

2nd Reading: Romans 15:4-9

Gospel: Matthew 3:1-12

Initial thoughts:  It struck me as a parish that’s very similar to OLGC (where I belong) in that there are projector screens that advertise upcoming events and such. There are cards in each pew that encourage you to take notes during the homily, and the cantor announced at the beginning to “greet your neighbor and ask if they have a prayer request.”

Well, I introduced myself to my pew neighbors and asked the people behind me if they have any prayer intentions and they both said, “No. But thanks for asking!” I couldn’t help but laugh a little because I was kind of hoping THEY would ask me what MY prayer intentions were. And I had a big one so I thought well, God knows my heart so I’ll just keep this intention to myself.

So this was the first mass I was using my new Every Sacred Sunday journal and it has been well worth the money. There’s space to take notes for the homily but there’s also space to write prayers of thanksgiving and another space for your prayer intentions. There’s also room to do some Lectio Divina with all of the readings too. So for any hubbies out there looking for a belated Christmas gift for your wives….Just sayin!

Homily Reflection: Fr. Mark emphasized 3 aspects of who we are in regards to the readings: Baptized, Chosen and Temples of the Holy Spirit.

Baptism: Individually and collectively we members of the Body of Christ and John the Baptist baptism was about emptying ourselves. Jesus’ baptism is about emptying completely and being filled up with Him.

As far as being Chosen, all of us have been chosen by God. All are called, but maybe some unbaptized people haven’t placed themselves up for adoption. (I loved that point!)

We know we are all filled with the Holy Spirit and all of the gifts and graces that the Lord has given us. But why? So we can live the life for heaven and be with Him forever. God doesn’t want us to live a quasi-happy life. We are to live the life of heaven, NOW.  Sometimes we don’t feel like we’re living heaven now. So that’s when we need to ask for healing and come back to the Sacraments. To repent and ask the Lord to stir a flame in us. Father then mentioned that he pictures us all with tongues of fire above our heads and to pray to give us MORE of that. “Make the temple shine! Stir a flame in me! Re-inkindle all your gifts in me and help me to live in your light and truth.”

Holy Moments: Right before the Eucharistic preface, Father Mark asked us to focus on what was about to happen; to place all of our petitions and prayers right there at the altar to be transformed and to focus on what God is trying to say to us. I think it may have been one of the best masses as far as keeping my attention fixated on every word he spoke. I think it also helps sometimes, when we are at mass that isn’t our “normal” parish. I find it easier to drift in daydream land when I’m in a familiar place.

He also mentioned in the homily (or at some point because I wrote it down) to picture Jesus before us and ask Him to speak a word of love to us after we receive Holy Communion. I’ll keep mine to myself but let’s just say, that’s now my new favorite post-communion prayer.

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So someone needs to ask Fr. Mark or someone at SJN what the meaning is behind this stained glass window. Inquiring minds want to know. My money is on that it’s an homage to the working class and that’s St. Joseph the Worker. Right? Maybe?


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St. Frances Cabrini – Allen Park, MI – Third (Gaudete) Sunday of Advent – 8am

Celebrant: Fr. Steve Mateja assisted by Fr. Luis Flores, Permanent Deacon

1st Reading: Isaiah 35:1-6A, 10

2nd Reading: James 5:7-10

Gospel: Matthew 11:2-11

Initial thoughts: I’ve been here before but not for an 8am mass. The set up is a little odd with rows of pews on all sides facing the sanctuary. And apparently no one likes to sit in the first few rows of any Catholic Church because they were bare up until 10 minutes to 8. And even then just a handful of folks sat in them.  I love the silence of an 8am mass. Literally counted 2 children in attendance. Awesome.

Homily Reflection: (Given by Deacon Luis) I was hoping for a homily given by Fr. Steve since he’s being sent to a parish in Macomb County in town called Armada. I’m told that’s very far away. And looking at Google maps right now, it is confirmed: It’s super far away. So since we wouldn’t be seeing him until a long-distance Daily Mass Project in the spring perhaps, this was my chance to hear him preach. Alas, it was not to be. But, the Deacon gave a nice homily and had I known I’d be blogging about it, I would have taken better notes. Overall, the theme was rejoicing and joy, considering it was Gaudete Sunday. He says (and I’m just guessing that he’s right) that the word “rejoice” appears in the bible over 300 times. He also mentioned the difference between being happy and being joyful. Happiness is the feeling we get whereas joy is based on faith, and faith is a gift from God. Joy comes from the heart and God won’t take that away from us. God has this amazing love for us that should compel us to pray everyday, “Lord, use me in whatever way is needed.”

Holy Moment: Not so much a holy moment as much as just funny that during the sign of peace, I was SO FAR AWAY from people, these pews are ridiculously long and people are SO spread out, that no one made their way over to me to give the sign of peace, we all just sorta gave that look that says, “Oh hey, peace be with you, I’m sure you’re a great person but you are just so darn far away and I just don’t feel like making the effort to take the 10 steps to walk over to shake your hand and you may be sick anyways and I don’t want to catch whatever it is you have so peace be with you okay?” 🙂

I just happened to read one of Fr. Steve’s last bulletin entries a few days before and in it he said that upon his arrival there a year ago, he had asked everyone to pray one Hail Mary a day for him specifically. I guess a lot of the parishioners kept that promise. And so now I am trying to say one Hail Mary for Fr. Steve, especially during this time of transition.

You should all be praying for our priests, by the way. And if you aren’t, get on it. They need them and WE need them.

Here’s a great one from the CLE diocese that’s a prayer for priests and seminarians:

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St. John Vianney, patron of priests and seminarians, pray for us!


Next week: I visit 3 familiar parishes in Cleveland – Church of the Holy Angels in Bainbridge, St. Albert the Great in North Royalton and St. Charles Borromeo in Parma.

Fearlessly Faithful

I had the awesome privilege to hang with some 400 Catholic women a couple of weeks ago in Cleveland for their First Annual Cleveland Catholic Women’s Conference called Fearlessly Faithful.

I knew several women who were part of the team that brought this conference together and being from the CLE, I was excited to support it, even before I knew who was going to be there, where it would be held, and who would be speaking.

It was well worth the 2 hour and 45 minute drive for some sisterhood time, a time of rest and to be fed spiritually, and to hear from some amazing speakers.

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The day was emceed by Brooke Taylor, who has an awesome podcast called Good Things Radio. She’s a speaker, writer, radio personality and super Mom. I love listening to her show as she interviews guests from all different states of life – religious, ordained, single, married, husbands and wives, authors, etc. She’s been hosting pilgrimages to the Holy Land for a couple of years and hosts a women’s retreat called Arise, which I am very stoked to attend for the first time next year in June. (Ladies, if you’re interested, I think there are still some spots left —> Click here to read more about it and purchase a ticket).

The first speaker of the day was Mary Bielski whom I did NOT manage to get a photo opp with nor did I get a chance to speak with her to meet her, but, alas, it’s a #FirstWorldCatholicProblem.  I had heard her name from some of my Theology of the Body friends years ago as a popular national speaker and youth minister. So I was really excited to hear what she had to say.  Her talk was called Fearlessly His and it was all about our identity. It wasn’t your typical, “Hey ladies, you’re a beloved daughter of God, dontchaknow?” She went deep, she got personal, she got raw and it was really good to dive deep into these waters.

She also talked about the Model of Identity, which is SO needed today in our culture which is clearly having an identity crisis. This 3 step model looks like this:

  1. Relationship – We come to know each other in an interpersonal relationship. We don’t look inward to “find ourselves,” we look up.
  2. Identity – Jesus received His identity from the Father. We received our identity from Him.
  3. Mission – He was sent to live it out right after His Father identified Him as His beloved Son. We are sent on mission as well.

Mary pointed out that today, in our culture, the model is reversed:

  1. We move/take action
  2. We declare our identity
  3. We try to form relationships

Another way to say it is: “I do, I have, I am.”

It’s very much an American thing to identity someone by what they do for a living instead of who they ARE; a beloved child of God.

The Good news is that we have been rescued, we’ve been adopted and we have the power that comes from the Father to rebuke the lies that the world feeds us.

She also said something that was very similar to something I had recently read in my Women’s bible study and that was this:

Jesus didn’t come to make bad women better. He came to make dead women fully alive again. 

I think I want to put that on a t-shirt.

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The second speaker was Fr. Pat Schultz and there’s no need to even try to summarize his awesome talk entitled Fearlessly Forgiven and Restored because he recorded it (YAY for technology!) and you can listen to it here:

Fr. Pat’s talk was similar to Mary’s in that he really wanted us to know that God is saying to us: “You are a beauty to be revealed.” We were encouraged to expose and silence the voice of the accuser, to unleash love no matter our state in life, to nurture life and live out our feminine genius whenever possible. Beautiful and inspiring! I would encourage you to explore Fr. Pat’s Vimeo channel to hear his homilies and other talks as well. They are stellar.

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The final talk was from Laura Mary Phelps. I did miss the first part of her talk, entitled Fearlessly Sent, but I did manage to catch the bulk of it. She had encouraged us to check out one of my FAVORITE books called “Into Your Hands Father”  by Wilfred Stinnison. It’s all about doing the will of the Father and how to know IF you are doing that, because, let’s face it, it’s difficult to discern if we’re really doing what God the Father wills for us or following our own selfish desires. I have half of that book highlighted – it’s THAT good.

I also loved her point about suffering and how it’s not written in the Bible anywhere, “This too shall pass.” That’s something we say to one another in difficult and challenging times of trial and suffering, but it’s not really…true.

An actual scripture to cling to is 2 Corinthians 4:17 which says:

“For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,” which Laura “translated” into: “The suffering you’re in now is necessary to get you to the place of awesomeness that’s coming.” 

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In between speakers was what I considered probably the BEST part of any Catholic Conference and that’s Adoration and Confession as well as Praise and Worship.  I think 17 priests from around the diocese made themselves available to over 400 women who wanted confession, while we were divided into groups to sit in front of Jesus while the lovely and talented Taylor Tripodi blessed us with her beautiful voice and musical gifts.

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To wrap up, I wanted to share this I Declare card that I received at a Holy Hour for women at my parish over a year ago and I’ve kept it in my Bible ever since and refer to it daily. It’s from the women’s Bible study Walking With Purpose and the image is from the chapel in Magdala of the hemorrhaging woman called “Encounter.”

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Those declaration statements are so powerful when we not only pray with them, but we need to actually believe them and take hold of them in order to live these truths out in our daily lives. Because speaking from experience, we have a lot of women (and men) believing the lies. The lies of “You’re not good enough, you’re afraid, you’re weak, you’re not pretty enough, you’ll never belong…” etc.

These declarative statements are the antidote to those lies. I would encourage any woman struggling with her identity to pray with these often.

When we trust in God’s providence, when we believe that God is a good Father, and when we are receptive to what the Holy Spirit is telling us about the truth of our identity in Christ, that’s when we can live truly Fearlessly Faithful.

Until next time…be blessed!

Longing For Some “Magnificent Desolation”

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A few weeks ago marked the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 and landing on moon. I caught a few ads for some documentaries in the days leading up to it but it wasn’t until someone Tweeted out this link that I went from “Oh that’s interesting,” to “Oh my gosh I’m obsessed with this and I must get my hands on anything to do with the moon and the space program!!!”

The creator of this amazing website, Apollo 11 in Real Time is my new favorite person. His name is Ben Feist he created this website (not sure how long it took him but it had to be quite some time) that allows you to enter into the mission at any point. From an article and interview with him:

The website replays NASA’s Apollo 11 mission as it happened, second by second. The coverage begins 20 hours from the launch, which took place on July 16, 1969, and continues until just after Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins stepped aboard the USS Hornet recovery ship on July 24. It does so using all of, and only the media from the mission — photos, film footage, television broadcasts and more — all synchronized to Ground Elapsed Time, the mission’s master clock.

“If you want to see a certain photo, for example, the whole experience jumps to the moment the photo is being taken. If you’d like to research one of the lunar samples you can find it at the moment the sample container is being filled,” Feist described.

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So after texting my family and telling some friends about this amazing website, thinking this is literally the coolest thing I’ve seen ever, I found this gem of a podcast on YouTube called “Apollo 11: What We Saw” hosted by Bill Whittle. It’s 4 parts at an hour each, but worth every minute. Bill takes you through the entire history of this mission but also includes all the science-y stuff that makes it all possible.

With this video series coupled with the real-time website, I came away with a new appreciation for the entire space program. I don’t know if people born long after we landed on the moon can truly grasp just how momentous this feat was until you really learn about the amount of resources, the amount of people (400,000!) and the courage it takes to fly a rocket into space, not quite knowing if this is all going to work!

And the fact that it DID and the entire world was watching. And WE, the United States, we did it first. That’s what Buzz (or perhaps Neil or Michael, can’t recall which) said in an interview – that people came up to him and said, “WE did it!” Not “You did it,” but WE meaning the country.

Sidenote: I had no idea Michael Collins didn’t land on the moon. He was in the ship that was to take them back after Buzz and Neil left the surface. He said he was okay with that, just chillin and orbiting around the moon.

From Wikipedia: Since he would be the active participant in the rendezvous with the LM, Collins compiled a book of 18 different rendezvous schemes for various scenarios including ones where the LM did not land, or it launched too early or too late. This book ran for 117 pages.

The sheer amount of intelligence and smarts to land on the moon is just incredible when you stop to think about it.

And that’s what I did that entire anniversary weekend to the point where I think I became (and still am) a bit obsessed with it. I think it’s because it contains something for everyone: History, nostalgia, adventure, rockets, fire, outer space, the unknown, exploration, team work, and most of all just plain FUN!

Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon after Neil Armstrong, uttered the phrase “Magnificent desolation” to describe the lunar surface. And when you hear them both describing the feel and the look of the surface, and then you see the photos and video that they took, it’s like you are really there with them. No wonder Cronkite choked up on camera when he saw them land and was speechless.

Maybe it’s just being connected to this point in history that I wasn’t alive for and that no one except these two men got to experience that explains this obsession, this longing to see what they saw and to be there. And to see the Earth from their viewpoint too. Can you imagine? Looking at EARTH from such a distance.

I would guess that this is the most prime example of that expression:

“The pictures don’t do it justice. You just had to be there.”

In the meantime, I’ll have to be satisfied to look out my window on a clear night and stare up at that beautiful magnificent desolation from down here until the day comes when I’ll be able to see ALL that God created.

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Doing the will of the Father – St. Cyprian

I read this in the Liturgy of the Hours that I pray every morning and came across this last week. I wanted to share it for several reasons:

  1. If I blog about it, that means I can easily refer back to it. It certainly beats writing this on post-it notes
  2. It’s a long “checklist” that I’m pretty sure I’m not doing 100% but would like to.
  3. I’ve been wanting to write about something for a few weeks that would strike the heart of everyone, not just a select few and this appears to be something we can all strive for.

So here goes!

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The following is from a treatise on the Lord’s Prayer by Saint Cyprian, bishop and martyr.

All Christ did, all he taught, was the will of God. 

  • Humility in our daily lives
  • an unwavering faith
  • a moral sense of modesty in conversation
  • justice in acts
  • mercy in deed
  • discipline
  • refusal to harm others
  • a readiness to suffer harm
  • peaceableness with our brothers
  • a whole-hearted love of the Lord
  • loving in him what is of the Father
  • fearing him because he is God
  • preferring nothing to him who preferred nothing to us
  • clinging tenaciously to his love
  • standing by his cross with loyalty and courage whenever there is any conflict involving his honor and his name
  • manifesting in our speech the constancy of our profession and under torture confidence for the fight
  • and in dying the endurance for which we will be crowned

This is what it means to wish to be a coheir with Christ, to keep God’s command; this is what it means to do the will of the Father.”

St. Cyprian, pray for us!

Debating Abortion…200 Characters At A Time

So anyone who follows me on good ol’ Twitter can see that I occasionally will engage with abortion supporters in an effort to have a fruitful dialogue. I have learned to pick and choose my battles carefully, not bothering to really engage or tweet at someone who is clearly just trying to stoke the flames. I do try to see if there’s some logic behind someone’s response to the most divisive issue of our day.

With all of the heartbeat bills and restrictions being passed in various states lately, the conversations are dissolving into shouting matches, but I do find that there’s hope for a resolution to this. And I’ll be the first to admit that Twitter is not the best place to have this debate but honestly, sometimes you can really have great conversations in 200 characters or less. (For those who aren’t familiar with Twitter, you only have about 240 characters to make your point before you have to keep replying. It’s not like a comment box on Facebook or an email where the characters are limitless).

What follows is NOT one of the fruitful dialogues, unfortunately. But what I just wanted to give readers was a glimpse into what, as far as I can tell, rational, sane people are saying about abortion. In case you didn’t know, the days of “safe, legal, and rare” are LONG GONE. Abortion is now being touted as on demand, plentiful and good.

So in this thread, I responded to a young woman named Lynne (I blocked out her screen name even though her profile is public) who said something about “children should only be born if they are wanted.” Notice how she never uses the word “mother” or “female” or “woman” when referring to pregnancy. This is not by accident. Pro-aborts and the left carefully construct their terms so they never acknowledge the sexual difference. Thus, they use the phrase “pregnant person.”

The sexual difference is being erased, folks!

Anyways, I responded with a question:

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Lynne had responded that she didn’t believe my last sentence was truthful about men not leaving before abortion and contraception came on the scene. I then tried to help her understand that contraception turns women into objects for use because you are erasing your fertility. I admit I could have done a better job explaining this but the fact remains, that before the Pill, if you had an affair, you took a risk that your indiscretion would be found out if the woman became pregnant.  With the Pill, people could have consequence-free sex, which led to an increase in infidelity and divorce. And when birth control fails, as it frequently does, it leads to an unplanned pregnancy, which leads to – duh – abortion.

Lynne didn’t respond to this and just called me a crazy person because I didn’t believe in contraception and in her mind, “contraception prevents abortions.” I then sent her this study from the pro-abortion research arm of Planned Parenthood, Guttmacher, that proves that contraception does not prevent abortions as much as one is led to believe. She didn’t reply. Pesky facts. 😉

In a separate thread Lynne had said that babies shouldn’t be born unless they can be “properly taken care of.”  She responds by saying she is a social worker so she considers herself an expert in this.

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Her comment about people believing the lie that “abortion is awful” struck me in particular. So I decided to define what an abortion is to her. To which Lynn retweeted my definition and took it upon herself to “shout her abortion.”

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I was going to exit the conversation at this point, but the fact that she is trying to promote abortion as being “great” needed a response:

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Thus ended our Twitter “conversation.”

This is just one encounter and no, I don’t sit there for hours wasting time “tweeting” to people who clearly are not going change their mind. It’s really not about that. It’s about planting a seed here and there. Because if she truly is post-abortive (yes, people do LIE on social media so it’s entirely possible she tweeted “Abortion is great” to get a reaction), she is in need of mercy and healing, which is why I sent her the Project Rachel Twitter handle. She also deserves to be told the truth.

And just look at her sad response about her parents “shouldn’t have been able to reproduce.” She isn’t the first pro-abortion person to say something along those lines. I wanted to be able to at least plant a seed that plenty of women regret their abortions. But, as you can see, she called those testimonials “bull****.”

Sadly, the abortion debate is only getting more and more volatile. This little twitter conversation between myself and Lynne is extremely TAME compared to the absolute hatred and evil coming out of people’s mouths (or keyboards in this case).

Case in point: I came close to tears watching this encounter at a pro-abortion rally in D.C. The woman screaming is in desperate need of healing. You can see it and hear it in her voice as she lashes out at the young woman holding a pro-life sign in front of her. My heart breaks for her:

Abortion supporters lash out at pro-lifers at #StopTheBans protests

The final video in that article is the one that truly breaks my heart. Her reaction to just scream vulgarity is NOT A NORMAL response. I want to find this woman and hug her. She is in so much pain. But she’s clearly not in a place to hear the truth.

So now for some good news.

An actress on a show I used to watch called “The Good Place” recently tweeted about how great her abortion was. She then proceeded to give her opinion on foster homes and how “cruel” that situation is. Well, that didn’t go over too well with the adoption/adoptee’s on Twitter who responded with their inspiring stories of choosing life:

The people whose lives you suggest aren’t worth living? They can hear you.

And finally, a really great thread initiated by a supporter of abortion.

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She was clearly expecting crickets to her tweet, but was ratio’d* badly as you can see. *Ratio’d means the replies, in this case 13,500, far outnumbered the amount of Retweets, in this case 1,500.

The common misconception among pro-abortionists is that anyone who is pro-life is “really only pro-birth. Once the baby is born they don’t care!” This is the typical go-to response from pro-abortion people. I’ve gotten it several times. But what this woman didn’t expect were the onslaught of responses from pro-lifers, which you can read about in this article:

Pro-lifers really do care about single moms, and it shows

So this is just a little peek into Twitter and the abortion debate today. As volatile and divisive as it is getting out there, I remain very hopeful that Roe is going to be overturned and the decision goes back to the states. While making abortion illegal will not stop it from happening, the day is coming, and I believe it’s coming very soon, when abortion will be unthinkable.

Pray for Lynne, pray for that woman in the video, pray for scales to fall off the eyes of all people who have been duped into believing the lie that abortion is good.

Ask the Lord to forgive them. They know not what they do.

Note: I am compiling a list of pro-life resources, books and articles on the facts of abortion for my blog. In the meantime, both websites listed above Live Action and Secular Pro Life are great starting points.