Saturday, February 28, 2015

Once Saved, Always Saved and Ezekiel

As any Bible reading Christian knows, a frequent theme throughout scripture is doing good - not evil. From the Ten Commandments to the Beatitudes, we are given rules and actions to emulate. It can't be a coincidence, then, to consider ourselves purposefully instructed to continue our quest for sainthood. We mustn't slack; we mustn't rest on past laurels - we are admonished to take the path less taken, the hard road.

Remember the young man, who kept all of the commandments but pressed Jesus for the way to Heaven? (Mark 10:17-22)

In keeping with this mindset, I find myself wondering about our Protestant brethren who cling to the 'once saved, always saved' philosophy. That's the point that leapt to mind when I heard the reading from Ezekiel during yesterday's Mass.

"But if a wicked man turns away from all his sins which he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness which he has done he shall live. Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, says the Lord GOD, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity and does the same abominable things that the wicked man does, shall he live? None of the righteous deeds which he has done shall be remembered; for the treachery of which he is guilty and the sin he has committed, he shall die. "Yet you say, `The way of the Lord is not just.' Hear now, O house of Israel: Is my way not just? Is it not your ways that are not just? When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, he shall die for it; for the iniquity which he has committed he shall die. Again, when a wicked man turns away from the wickedness he has committed and does what is lawful and right, he shall save his life. Because he considered and turned away from all the transgressions which he had committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die." Ezekiel 18:21-28

If we remain kind, I wouldn't mind a charitable discussion on this topic. What say you?

Friday, February 20, 2015

Foster Vocations - Chasuble For Your Little Priest

Our little guy loves to play Mass, so I made him a chasuble (just the right size) to enhance his experience. After posting a few photos here and there, I received a request to make one for my friend's grandson. He enjoys going to the local Catholic book and gift shop, trying on the full sized vestments. My friend thought it would be nice to have one, in his size, instead.

She wound up purchasing the fabric in four colors - green, purple, red, and white - and I'll make two of each. One set will be for our Simon and the other for her grandson.

I'm considering making these and offering them for sale, but am offering this how-to post for those of you who are handy with a sewing machine. That way we can all encourage our little boys to play priest and foster vocations should they receive the Call.

Materials for the Chasuble and Stole

(makes two chasubles and matching stoles)

2 yards of fabric in the desired liturgical color - I started with green, for Ordinary Time. If you're like me and like to take shortcuts, using knit fabric will save hemming time since it doesn't fray.

1 spool of thread in the matching color

1 roll of gold-colored Duck Tape (easy, cheap, and surprisingly nice looking) or 10 - 12 feet of trim (more expensive, more authentic).

Construction of the Chasuble

  • Fold fabric in half, width-wise (not the way it was folded on the bolt), and cut into two pieces. 
  • Next, cut a strip of fabric about 5 or 6 inches wide, along the selvage on one side of the fabric. This will become the stole.
  • Keeping the fabric folded width wise, also fold it lengthwise. Cut out a 5 1/2" hole at the center corner. This is your neck opening.
  • Open the fabric and lay across a table top to prepare for adding the trim.

  • According to preference, add trim/Duck Tape. I created mine by measuring 6" down from the center of the neck and 5" from the shoulder edge to form a 'V'. Next, I placed a long strip from the center of the neck to the center bottom. You could also make a cross or leave plain. It might be fun to have input from your little 'priest' and do some research.
  • The next step is to hem all raw edges. Since I use a knit, I simply turn in 1/4" and stitch - no need to turn under twice. Since the trim goes to the edge of the chasuble, you will be stitching through it as well. This will help keep it secure and in place If your fabric is not knit, you could also us pinking shears along the raw edge before hemming. You might also want to use a zigzag stitch.
  • When both the neckline and outer hem are stitched, iron backside of chasuble, taking care not to overheat the areas covered with Duck Tape trim. I use a steam setting and cloth.
  • As a final step, I have found it beneficial to carefully iron the underside of where the trim is. The heat causes the Duck Tape to conform to the fabric, giving a textured look. I'd also imagine that it will help to bond the trim to the fabric.

Construction of the Stole

  • Take the piece of 5" fabric you cut from the side of the chasuble and determine the type of stole you'd like to make. Some are curved and fit around the back of the neck, while others come to a point and are worn slightly below the neckline, down the back.
  • The curved type of stole can be made by cutting a curve, similar to the neckline of the chasuble and the stole that comes to a point can be created by stitching a 45 degree line at the center. 
  • Now you can either hem the stole, all the way around, or cut with a pinking shear. 
  • Using small pieces of Duck Tape, you can also make tiny crosses at each end or one at the center of the tapered stole.

There you have it! A wonderful encouragement for little priests of the future - or daddies in the
making who want to share with their own kids some day.

I'd love to see your photos if you decide to make a chasuble for your special little man. Share!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

It Couldn't Be Easier Potato Soup

I created a potato soup recipe a while back and, while it's delish, I found myself wanting to simplify this particular meal one Friday recently. As I rummaged through the pantry, I had an aha moment - why not just use a can of soup as a starter and then make it my own? So here's what I came up with. It's cheap, it's easy, and the boys say it's very tasty.

Couldn't Be Easier Potato Soup

1 can Nacho Cheese soup
3 cups almond milk
1 cup sour cream
6 small potatoes
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon of minced onion
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon Lawry's Seasoned Salt (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon black ground pepper

Wash potatoes and cube, leaving the skins on. Place in steamer on stove-top and cook until tender. You can also boil them if you don't have a steamer. Combine soup, almond milk, and sour cream in crock pot (set on high) and whisk until smooth. Add spices to crock pot - either as listed or to taste. Drain potatoes and add them and butter to the crock pot. Using a potato masher or fork, smash potatoes until they are reduced to large lumps and/or desired consistency is achieved.

VoilĂ ! That's it - ready to serve as soon as the potatoes are added. Serve with garlic toast or bread sticks for a quick, hearty meal. Great for Fridays or Lenten meals.

Reduce your setting to warm and you can feed your family in shifts, since the soup will be ready to serve all day. Great for snow days when a quick warm-up would be appreciated, with little effort or time required.

Note: Stores well and can be frozen. Use regular milk if you prefer.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Lenten Roundup for You and Your Family

With Lent only a couple of weeks away, there has been a flurry of activity on Catholic blogs and Facebook. As good Catholics we know that this penitential season, leading up to Easter joy, is long - especially for children. Our goal is to lovingly teach them the benefits of holy patience, self denial, and giving.

My goal here is to compile a list of various activities, meals, and devotions to assist families in making their Lenten experience a positive one for all members. I've also included some thoughts about social media.

I'd like to invite you to share your ideas here. As you comment on this blog, I'll add your ideas, posts, and links below.

Let's Get Started With Lenten Inspiration

For starters, you can read about Why I'm Not Leaving Facebook for Lent. As an electronic evangelization tool, there are few more powerful ways to share your faith!

Lenten Devotional Crafts

Stations of the Cross Craft - There are several different ways you can use this craft, once it's completed. It could even be taken to church as a devotional tool for littles.
Easter Egg Rosary - This simple, inexpensive and effective craft combines reciting a nightly decade of the Rosary with some good actions and creativity thrown in for good measure.

My Lenten Journey - Here I used various links to coloring pages, Stations of the Cross carousels, and other ideas to create a Lenten Journey Book for Kids.

Lenten Friday Meals

Garlic Alfredo Shrimp - An easy, creamy Alfredo sauce creates a tasty addition to seafood and broccoli. Bonus - this dish is also low carb!

Hearty Crock Pot Potato Soup - This crock pot recipe can be prepared ahead of time, yet accommodates busy families with varied schedules and eating times. Comfort food at its finest!

Quick 3 Ingredient Pasta Meal -'s Friday and the troops are hungry, but I've simply been too busy to worry about cooking...that is until the rumbling bellies begin to sound! Here's a quick solution, using only three ingredients.

Tantalizingly Tasty Tuna Salad - an easy, rich tuna salad that lends itself well to sandwiches or scooped onto a bed of lettuce. Packed full of veggies and other good things, this is kid friendly and healthy. It's also low carb, if served without bread.

Meatless Pierogies Stroganoff -  This recipe can be served over pasta, potatoes, or rice as well. Another tasty comfort food recipe sure to be a family favorite!

It Couldn't Be Easier Potato Soup - Starts with a can of Nacho Cheese Soup and tastes delish. So quick and easy, they'll come back for more.

Okay! Here Are Lenten Posts From Others

What are you waiting for? Share your links with me in the ComBox and I'll add them here!

Emily from Our Home...Under Mary's Mantle is certainly not lacking ideas on how to fully immerse your family in Lenten devotions. Click over to For The Love of Lent…  for some great inspiration!

Tracy from A Slice of Smith Life shares a ton of ideas in her post, Christmas is Over, Feast Days and Lots of Lent Posts! Take a look and be inspired!

Chris from Campfires and Cleats has a mega post, 
7 DIY Lenten Crafts & Books ~ Wreaths, Crown of Thorns, Mercy Crosses, Crucifixion Art, Books, just chock full of ideas. You won't leave her blog without some great ideas!

If you're looking for something that's all neatly planned out and ready to use, you have to check out Monica's Family Rosary for Lent this year? New Mysteries of the Rosary Craft Kit! over on Equipping Catholic Families.

Are you looking to begin the good habit of saying a family Rosary? Then Jennifer's Lacing Rosary Set - Get a Good Habit Started! will offer you a great project. Check out Catholic Inspired for other, equally great ideas. Jennifer posts often.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Abortion and Class Discrimination

When we think of discrimination we often leap to an image of race. Yes, race discrimination is certainly an atrocity and we see it often - even in the choice of location for abortion facilities and the percentages of those affected. That abortion centers are primarily located in poorer, black neighborhoods has been documented. After all Margaret Sanger's intent was to eliminate the 'human weeds' among us - all the way to eugenics.

There are other classes of people who are cast aside when it comes to shielding babies from abortion, however. As a society, we've come to accept the abortion 'exceptions'. That small, but nonetheless worthy, segment of society is those who were conceived in rape or incest.

This is a deeply flawed attempt to deflect from the real issue of the humanity of any unborn child, by employing hypotheticals. “What about the rape or incest conceived child?” we are asked. If we allow ourselves to be distracted from the main issue - the humanity of all of the unborn - we do a diservice to humanity and to the unborn.. If we stray from the reality of the humanity of the child, we endanger our message – all life is precious. In the eyes of God, the wanted and the 'unwanted' are equally worthy. We must not allow our message to be diluted or we surrender to a world that will always allow abortion in some instances.

Classes of Discrimination

A child conceived in rape is no less human; she is no less a child of God. She is a gift to the world, brought about in a horrific way, but not at the expense of her worth. Her mother underwent a traumatically violent experience, yet this has no bearing on her right to live. The sins of the man who violated her mother could never be justly rectified by another act of violence against an innocent.

And what about the complete, yet developing baby before she hits the 20 week milestone? Again, if we allow our resolve to become dependent on specifics, our message is diluted. If the child couldn't feel pain, would it be okay to kill him? Of course not! That's why I'm uncomfortable with setting criteria for the worth of preservation. A child will turn away from a prodding tool in the womb when he is much younger than 20 weeks, but even if he didn't would he be any less human?

Tools of Division

Divide and conquer. Deflect and confuse. These are the tools of abortion advocates. We must not allow them to weaken our case. It's easy to become distracted but, in order to do the most good on behalf of our littlest brothers and sisters, we need to stay on course. All unborn children are human - at fertilization. They all have a God-given right to life, as individual people with souls. 

Whether they are at the earliest stages of development, how they were conceived, and if they feel pain really isn't the issue. These are simply details that can be applied to their description - just as they can be described as black/white, male/female, blue/brown eyed, Catholic/agnostic, or heterosexual/homosexual. These descriptive details have absolutely nothing to do with their worth or their rights. 

Let's support all humans. No exceptions, no distractions, and no compromise!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Amazing Facts About the Miraculous Life of the Unborn

My passion for prolife advocacy is pretty obvious to anyone who even marginally knows me. As an art major in college, I honed not only my creative side, but my public relations skills. These two gifts made the perfect combination for all of the jobs I have ever held - from Executive Director (x2) of a prolife organization to Field Representative for Congressman Ron Lewis (R-KY) who was truly prolife.

Back in the day my favored media consisted of pencils and paper or paint and canvas. As the world become more computerized, the use of graphic design and photography stepped up as the media of the day.

As our family grew and extended into grandchildren, I picked up my camera and compulsively documented their every move. Those babies just make me smile. So it was a natural progression to seize the day and share my images in an effort to win hearts for life. 

This series of 10 Amazing Facts about the unborn was born of an effort to modernize my prolife posters. I experimented with dimension while using photos of now 6 year old Simon. The facts were taken from an article that appeared on LifeSiteNews (my favorite prolife publication).

The first step to changing hearts for life, is educating the public with facts and soft images. We need to humanize the unborn.

I hope you enjoy these posters and consider sharing them to your Facebook friends from my album here.