Friday, January 31, 2014

Girl Scouts and Planned Parenthood - Are the Cookies Finally Crumbling?

They come to your door, or stand outside Wal-Mart, fresh faced, smiling little girls - selling their cookies. It's an image as American as apple pie - yet the Girl Scout (GS) cookies may finally be crumbling. Not because of anything the girls have done, but because their leaders have colluded with the devil's handmaids. For many years now, faithful Christians have begun to notice feet of clay in the foundation of the Girl Scouts of America (GSUSA). And even amid the certain danger of exposing the innocent to the nefarious - denials are given, excuses are made, and a blind eye is turned - by the Girl Scouts (GS), by churches, and even by parents. Let's gather some facts:

Birds of a Feather - Associations Matter 

Making the connections.
World Association of Girl Guides and Girls Scouts (WAGGGS): Don't be fooled into thinking your Girl Scout's dues go solely into local coffers.  GS helped found WAGGGS, making up 25% of their membership and paying approximately $1 million in dues, per year.  What's done with that money isn't up to you or your daughter. What it does do, is to free up a huge chunk of cash to use toward things such as promotion of promiscuity, birth control, and abortion - worldwide.

Planned Parenthood (PP): GS associates and co-ops with Planned Parenthood. No matter who denies it, the pictures speak more than a thousand words. Add the fact that this is becoming more blatantly common and deniability becomes less feasible and the deception more apparent. Our little girls are becoming a demographic targeted by feminist activists, such as Marlo Thomas and Amy Richards, in their recent promotion for the pro-abortion documentary, MAKERS.  Turning a blind eye is now the only option for those who still won't see the clearly outlined facts.

Josh Ackley, a past Media Relations and Spokesperson for GSUSA: As we drill down further, we discover Josh Ackely who was charged with setting the course for promoting “positive images of women and girls” through the Healthy Media Campaign. As a member/founder of the defunct homopunk band “The Dead Betties, images of him are more than a little disturbing. According to Wikipedia, they are profiled in the book Homocore: The Loud and Raucous Rise of Queer Rock. Currently, Ackley is still employed by GSUSA in another capacity.

Kelly Parisi, current Media Relations and Spokesperson for GSUSA: Past Vice President of Marketing and Communications at MS Foundation for Women, who according to their own website, contributed more than $1 million to abortion advocacy in 2012. According to a article, "it was during her tenure at the Ms. Foundation that Parisi joined in a national campaign to punish the Susan G. Komen Foundation for trying to defund Planned Parenthood" due to pro-life concerns. Continued selection of this type of immoral activist should be enough to scare off any discerning parent. What could possibly excuse employing such a persons?


The denials and deception continue, however. As you can see from a Girl Scout Q & A page, creative wording and semantics play a large role in calming parental fears. Although individual girls don't hold membership in WAGGGS, her larger troop (through association with GSUSA) does. Although individual dues don't go directly to WAGGGS or their diabolical efforts favoring abortion and such, each smaller entity feeds into the larger one. The fungibility of funds creates a means by which every individual is a part of the larger picture. Money makes its way from your daughter, to her troop, on to GSUSA, and then to WAGGGS in the form of dues - said money now goes into the larger coffers which fund immoral activity. There - the connection has been made!

Investigation, But is it Enough?

Many groups exist today, in an effort to keep our children safe from unholy alliances and those who would try to sully their purity. Yet the effort is slow to take off. The USCCB has become involved and are in dialog with GSUSA, I'm told. Individual priests and bishops have taken steps to remove GS from their parishes and dioceses. But there is also much foot dragging. Why? It's a question I ask myself often. As we languish in a seemingly endless abyss of waiting, we are given excuses, semantics, and outright denial. Yet the facts speak more loudly. How many concerned parents have called their youth director, their pastor, their bishop? Surely there is an urgent need to remove the GS from reaching our daughters. Their very moral development is at stake. And once that line has been crossed - especially when it's way too early - that bell just can't be unrung. Is it really worth the chance?

“We must exercise a critical vigilance and at times refuse funding and collaborations that, directly or indirectly, favour actions or projects that are at odds with Christian 
anthropology.” Pope Benedict, Address to the Pontifical Council Cor Unum (1-19-13)

Let's face it; no matter how small the frog, he makes a ripple in the pond. We don't have to physically hand money to an abortionist to be complicit in promoting abortion. When we cooperate, in any aspect of a questionable organization, we are a part of the machinations of said group - and their activities. Once we become aware of illicit alliances, we become culpable. Isn't it time to take the abundance of facts we have been given and make the morally sound choice? No amount of denial, creative talk, or wearing of blinders is worth risking the honor of the daughters we have been given. Stand up for their innocence and purity. If we don't, who will?

There are Alternatives:

Girl Scouts: For many, the benefits of scouting are woven into the very fabric of their being. This scandalous outrage doesn't mean you can't offer your daughter a scouting alternative. Here are a few options:
American Heritage Girls
Little Flowers Girls Club 

Cookies: Even those tempting, once a year, guilty pleasures have an alternative. With a bit of shopping, I've found my favorite Samoa cookies at the local Family Dollar store – under a different name, of course. Keebler's Coconut Dreams are also a newly available alternative. Others, such as Thin Mints, were also on the shelf. In perusing Pinterest, I have also found recipes for making your own.

With such damning evidence and wholesome alternatives, can we afford to wait any longer. After connecting all the pieces, what possible reason to remain with the Girl Scouts exists?

The post, Girl Scouts and Planned Parenthood - Are the Cookies Finally Crumbling? first appeared on Catholic Stand

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Catholic Blogger Network Birthday Giveaway - We Have a Winner!

Congratulations to the Winners of the Catholic Bloggers Birthday Giveaway!

We have selected 21 winners to each receive one of the 21 awesome prizes!
The prize given away by Designs by Birgit was this lovely St. Sofia veil.

drumroll please…

And the winner of the St. Sofia veil is, L. Jasmin ! Congratulations! Your prize will be shipped tomorrow and you should receive it in the next few days. Happy veiling!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Removing Life Support - 8 Reasons the Munoz Decision Was Wrong

By now you've most likely heard about the brain dead Texas mother, whose life support was removed recently - even though her pre-born child was still depending on it for survival. Many have weighed in on this heartbreaking story. The multitude of comments I have read have been provocative, morally based and/or well thought out, while others were heated and emotionally charged. I've read, pondered, debated and discerned. Below I've listed eight conclusions to which I've come.

1. The mother, Marlise Munoz, was irreparably damaged - physically. Her own life would most likely never improve. Removing extraordinary medical measures from her body seems to have been a licit act - had she not been pregnant.

2. Since Mrs. Munoz wasn't the only person to be considered, however, a different set of criteria begged to be used. Almost certainly, she lacked the physical ability to recover but within her womb lived another person. This pre-born child was living and growing. She had her own unique set of God-given rights.
3. Texas law, justly, has called for sustaining the life of the mother if she is pregnant. In the Munoz case, judicial manipulation countermanded this ethically based law.
4. Baby Munoz's life had been maintained, within her mother's womb, for nine weeks already. This wasn't a case of asking for extraordinary means after the fact. The medical intervention, needed to assist the continuing life of the child, was an on-going treatment. Removing this treatment, once implemented, was morally different from not having initially begun it.

5. Whether or not this little baby girl was suffering from physical or mental defects had no licit impact on the morality of this case. Physical or mental perfection has never been an acceptable criterion for the right to life.
At 20 weeks* - the Munoz baby was 23 weeks. 
6. Pre-born children of similar gestational age (23 weeks) have historically been found to be viable. Maintaining life-support on the mother for a few more weeks would have significantly improved the potential outcome for this pre-born little girl.
7. Instead, removing life-sustaining treatment had the direct effect of death - the ceasing of the life of a pre-born person. On the other hand, a Cesarean Section would have given the child an opportunity to live. Had the baby died under this circumstance, it would have not have been morally objectionable.

8. Had baby Munoz been born via C-Section, she would have had the opportunity to receive the sacrament of Baptism. I have found this aspect to be morally incomprehensible.

While I realize this situation was fraught with emotional difficulty for the Munoz family, I contend their decision was the morally wrong one. As understandable as it is that they would want to bury and mourn this loved member of their family, their emotional desires resulted in a morally illicit choice. Had they waited just a while longer, the fruit of their union – a little girl, posthumously named Nicole – could have continued to be a living legacy of their love. Rest well, Marlise and Nicole Munoz. May God, His Mother Mary, and the Angels wrap their loving arms around you.

In a related story, a brain dead mother sustains twins - while on life support - until their birth at 25 weeks. They are slowly improving and her family is grateful for their lives.

NOTE: For a study of mothers on life-support, and the outcome for their babies, see:

* What Does A Fetus Look Like at 20 Weeks?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Low Carb - Easy, Inside Out Egg Rolls

As a carb-o-holic, I'm always trying to create recipes that feed my eclectic tastes in food - but without the offending carbs. Since egg rolls rank as one of my favorite guilty pleasures, I decided to find a 'legal' way to eat them. The resulting recipe combines all of the goodness of the egg roll without the actual 'roll' - in other words, it's the filling without the  carb-filled outside.

Easy Inside Out Egg Rolls

1 lb. sausage* (either regular or Italian)
3 T minced celery
3 T minced onion
3 T soy sauce (or more, to taste)
2 T sesame seeds (optional)
1 T ground ginger
1/8 t garlic powder
1 egg, beaten
4-6 cups Cole slaw mix
black pepper, to taste

Brown sausage and then add celery, onion, and garlic powder. Beat egg and cook in butter, leaving flat and not stirred. Turn once. Chop and add to mixture. After all ingredients are cooked to desired state, add Cole slaw. Cook until wilted - about 5 or 10 minutes.

Serve and enjoy!

Save to your recipe box or print on AllRecipes (dot) com

*Easily adapted for Meatless Friday - sub shrimp for sausage.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sanctity of Life Sunday - The Baby's Choice

As is the case every January, we've seen a flurry of pro-life activities. The 41st Annual March for Life, in Washington D.C., was vibrant and attended by hundreds of thousands of pro-life faithful - despite frigid weather. The 10th Annual West Coast Walk for life, held under sunny skies, had an inspiring number in attendance as well. In addition, recent polls show the pro-life position to be in the majority among citizens of our country - ever ticking upward. Laws have been passed, clinics have closed, and more abortion mill employees have been converted. A definite impact is being made.

All in all, we're seeing a groundswell of motion toward a growing culture of life. Even as we continue to work in God's vineyard of Life, we are beginning to see more and more fruits. Yet we must remind ourselves that the time frame isn't ours - it belongs to God. Some of the effort may be ours - and we're charged with doing our utmost - but the victory will ultimately be His, too. A recent homily expressed our battle perfectly. As in the battle between Sampson and Goliath, the earthly effort may be ours, but the fight and ultimate victory belong to God. The most powerful weapons at our disposal are not of this world, but belong to the spiritual realm. God guides our battle plan and only when we allow Him to lead us, the enemy - death - be defeated. Just as a stone slayed the giant - our battle will be won through faith, not forces of this world.

As we rise up in defense of the babies, let's be inspired by the humanity they share with us. They are human individuals - carrying characteristics common to us all. The 'choice' seen by abortion supporters actually belong to the human child, hidden in the womb. She has her own two eyes, nose, mouth and beating heart - ten fingers and ten toes. She is a unique God-created person. Her God-given rights are the same as yours and mine. Were we to consult her, her choice would undoubtedly be LIFE!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

7 Favorite Pro-Life Posts - Remembering the Unborn on January 22

Today is the 41st anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision. Here we are, 55 million dead babies later and still we're advocating for the unborn - but we are making some amazing headway. In keeping with today's theme, I've gathered some of my favorite, or most popular, pro-life posts. I hope you'll join me in marking this day with the unborn in your prayers and in your heart.

Are You Smarter Than a 4-year-old? 

This post shows how kids, unfettered by preconceived notions, 'get it' when it comes to the humanity of the unborn.
Thinking of the unborn as individuals, personalizes the picture of abortion for me. Those millions of faceless babies - represented by crosses, memes, or other pro-life tactics - could have been, should have been just as amazing as any one of us.

When a Pro-Life Victory Doesn’t Mean You’re Winning

At 20 weeks all babies feel pain, yet legislation has excepted babies conceived in rape and incest as well as including a 'life of the mother' clause. This type of incremental thinking may not be the way to go...

Let's Stop Nitpicking Abortion

Instead of getting lost in the details, we should consider the big picture. The humanity of the unborn, now irrefutably proven by science, is all the consideration we need to apply. All pro-choice arguments are thus moot.

Pope Francis Wants a Mess? Let's Stir Up Some Pro-life Passion

Pope Francis was quoted as telling the attendees at World Youth Day to 'make a mess' and 'take the Church to the streets'. Of course, my instant reaction was to find a way to inspire and encourage pro-life advocates to become foot soldiers for Life.

The Unborn as Lazarus

The plight of Lazarus was not due to anything the rich man did to Lazarus - the sin came from inaction - because he also didn't do anything for him. How do we measure up in regards to the unborn? Are they on our 'action list'?

Abortion Takes a Human Life - What More Needs to Be Said?

There has also been much talk about exceptions, when it comes to the pro-life issue. Some say that it’s okay to compromise, that babies born with defects, conceived by rape, or who endanger their mother’s health are somehow less worthy of being saved. They are expendable. Of course, we know this isn't so.

If you enjoyed the stories and the accompanying pro-LIFE memes, join Designs by Birgit on Facebook. I freely share hundreds of my memes with anyone willing to post them.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Congrats to Catholic Bloggers Network for Their 2nd Anniversary - Prizes!

In honor of Catholic Bloggers Network's 2nd Birthday we are hosting a spectacular GiveAway. Check out all of the great prizes below. Entering is easy, peasy - via the RaffleCopter at the end of this post!

I'm contributing a beautiful St. Sofia veil for the occasion and there are also two gift cards!!! 

Check out the Other Prizes Below


This St. Sofia veil is part of this GiveAway!

This FABULOUS GIVEAWAY is sponsored by the following

In addition to the $45 and $40 Amazon Gift Cards, we are giving these

Catholic Printables
...and these Popular Printables:

Catholic Gifts
and these Awesome Catholic Gifts!

(pick TWO from: Mary, Blessed Mother Saint Therese of Lisieux Pope Francis Saint Joseph
Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Saint Anne Saint Anthony Saint Brigid of Ireland Saint Catherine of Siena
Saint Cecilia Saint Christopher Saint Clare Saint Francis of Assisi Saint George Saint Gianna
Saint Joan of Arc Saint Jude Saint Mark Saint Maximilian Kolbe Saint Michael the Archangel
Saint Patrick Saint Paul Saint Peregrine
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Sanctity of Life Sunday - Created in His Image

And the Lord God formed man of the slime of the earth: and breathed into his face the breath of life, and man became a living soul. Genesis 2:7
The Lord God Our Creator distinguished us from all the other creatures of the earth by forming us from dust and breathing an eternal soul into our bodies. We are His children, and as such occupy a unique place in this life and in the next. When pro-abortion people speak of the unborn, they attempt to dehumanize them - an effort to diminish their place in society. This perverted attitude toward the unborn has lead to a society no longer respectful of the human person nor his soul. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014 will mark the 41st year of legalized abortion. Let us never forget that we are God's chosen ones, carrying His breath, in the form of an eternal soul within our being. Even at fertilization that soul has a destiny - to live as a child of God and to love and serve Him alone. May we aid society in recognizing this aspect of humanity by our prayers, love, and education of others. God bless those who will be participating in the 41st Annual March for Life and all other pro-life activities scheduled in our efforts in calling attention to the need for the respect of all life. As we are told in Romans 8:31, "What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who is against us?"

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Don't Get Caught Up in Being Left Behind

Guest Post by Nicholas Hardesty


What does Jesus mean when he says that, when the “Son of man” comes, “two men will be in the field; one is taken and one is left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one is taken and one is left” (Mt 24:40-41)?


Tim LaHaye’s Left Behind books popularized the notion that this passage is a reference to “the rapture,” the taking up into the air of all true Christians before the tribulation takes place so that they can dwell in a parallel kingdom in heaven while the rest of us hapless souls struggle against the anti-Christ on earth. But, this is not Catholic teaching, and I think there is another interpretation that fits better.

Immediately before the passage cited above, Jesus makes a reference to Noah and what took place when God drowned the whole world with a flood. In many ways, that was an end-times event for everyone alive at that time. Jesus compares that event to what will take place upon the Second Coming. He says:

“As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they did not know until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of man.” (Mt 24: 37-39)

Four Horsemen of Apocalypse by Viktor Vasnetsov, 1887
These words of Jesus provide the context for what he says next, when he says, “two men will be the field,one is taken and one is left,” and so on. This means that, just as the wicked in Noah’s time were “swept away,” one will be “taken,” and just as Noah’s family was spared, the other will be “left.” This passage you are asking about does not refer to some being raptured and others being “left behind.” Instead, it means that, when Jesus comes, some will have their life taken from them, and others will live. This is the effect of the General Judgment, which the Church says all men will experience when the Son of Man finally comes again.

This passage also means that our day, our time here, does not always come when we expect it. God may call us home even amid the mundane chores of every day life (working in the field, grinding at the mill, etc.). Jesus’ words remind us that we must always be ready, for “of that day and hour no one knows” (Mt 24:36).

As with every difficult Scripture passage, it is important to utilize the context of the passage, and to always read Scripture with the mind of the Church. Let’s make sure that we are making ourselves ready so that on “the day of Christ Jesus,” we will be found fit to live forever with Him.

More work from Nicholas Hardesty, aka "phatcatholic" can be seen on his blog at, phat catholic apologetics.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sanctity of Life Sunday - But What Can I Do?

Tragically, abortion has been around for decades now. Pro-life advocates and prayer warriors have worked tirelessly - and still abortion is readily available for the puniest of reasons. Were we not faith-filled people of God, it might be easy to lose heart. But we labor on, doing our best, because we know we are not alone. We have a God Who truly cares for us and for the unborn. It's not our duty to garner results easily measured by human means. Rather, it's our duty to do our best - to give our all.

This January will mark the 41st year of legalized abortion. There will be marches all over the country and the Annual March for Life in Washington D.C. will again produce hundreds of thousand of participants. At a local level, there will also be commemorative Masses said in every diocese in our country, as well as in many parishes. We have an opportunity, then, to personally participate in petitioning God on behalf of our innocent brothers and sisters. They are in mortal danger, even as they reside in what should be the safest place on earth - their mothers' wombs.

Won't you join a local parish hosting a pro-life Mass? It might just mean you've taken part in saving a life!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Cancer, the St. Peregrine Novena, and a Miracle

As a victim of breast cancer, who has been in blessed remission for eight years, the fresh diagnosis (or recurrence) of a friend strikes cold fear in my heart. Once you've been a part of the cancer club, your life is never quite the same. Fortunately, I've been given the grace of faith and a husband who is part knight in shining armor and part court jester. These gifts from God have carried me through the worst (and best) of times.

Today we begin the Novena for the Intercession of St. Peregrine. As I dedicate my prayers to two ladies who were diagnosed within the past year (Holly and Jennifer), I also pray for continued remission for both my daughter, Erika, and myself. I am also prompted to recall a special, personal miracle to which I have been privy.

Our twenty-eight year old daughter was diagnosed with BRCA-1 breast cancer when she was 20 weeks pregnant. After rejecting the idea of abortion (of course) and finding doctors who treat pregnant cancer patients, she underwent chemotherapy. After the birth of her healthy daughter, she suffered through more chemo, countless surgeries, and permanent nerve damage. All in all, the result was a blessing, though - a healthy baby and a cancer free mother.

Not long after the baby was born, there was a huge scare. There was a lump in Erika's breast! Not ones to take these things lightly, we went straight to the oncologist's office for advice. Since her doctor was out, Erika was seen by my oncologist, who confirmed that there was cause for concern. The lump, when manipulated, featured ominous characteristics. As luck often has it, this occured on a Friday, so we were told to go home and come back to been seen and scanned on Monday.

What a dread-filled weekend! No matter how strong your faith or your resolve, our human frailty brings much trepidation - especially considering the fear of the unknown. And so the cyber drums were set to beating. Prayer groups were contacted, friends were discretely informed, and most of all, the Passionist Sisters were contacted. The prayer board, checked by all of the sisters, would relay this urgent need for prayer. A young mother, with two small children and a husband of just a few years, is a valued treasure to the world and to her family. I have no doubt that multitudes of fervent prayers went up that weekend.

Fast forward to Monday and Erika and I once again traveled to the oncology office - this time to seek the advice of her own doctor. Sitting in the exam room, Erika robed in her flimsy paper gown, we prayed and worried. When Dr. M entered, he stoically got right down to the business of a thorough palpitation of the offending area. Again and again he searched. Nothing! There was no large lump. There was no small lump. There was a blessed nothing!

As we traveled back home, in a stupor of joy and disbelief, we pondered what this meant. We had all felt the large lump - Erika, her husband, me and most of all my experienced oncologist. It had been there - but now it wasn't. Needless to say, many thanks went out that day - to God for His infinite mercy on a young family, to the countless friends and strangers who had prayed, and to the Passionist Sisters who I have no doubt had their share of petitioning for a miracle.

Erika is not without pain - the permanent nerve damage and neuropathy have caused her to lose her job. Yet she is cancer free and her little chemo baby is a very healthy, precocious 4 year old who, along with her almost 6 year old brother, has a mommy to call her own.

Won't you join us as we pray the St. Peregrine Novena? You will have the optional opportunity to publicly share your petition, to post to social media, and to ask your friends to join. Cancer is a frightening diagnosis and prayer is a powerful weapon. Let's join together to pray for victims, families, cures, accepting graces and even a happy death - if that be His Will.

+   +   +

St. Peregrine Novena Prayers

Dear holy servant of God, St. Peregrine, we pray today for healing. Intercede for us! God healed you of cancer and others were healed by your prayers. Please pray for the physical healing of…(Mention your intentions) These intentions bring us to our knees seeking your intercession for healing.

We are humbled by our physical limitations and ailments. We are so weak and so powerless. We are completely dependent upon God. And so, we ask that you pray for us…

Find the Original Here:

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The 12 Days of Christmas - The Twelve Articles of the Apostle's Creed

The 12th Day of Christmas

Deuteronomy 11:18-21You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. And you shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. And you shall write them upon the doorposts of your house and upon your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth.

By the time we get to the 'Twelve Drummers Drumming' in the 'Twelve Days of Christmas' we pretty much feel like we know this song. Repetition has a way of doing that. It's why we teach our children to parrot 'Please' and 'Thank you' when they are young. Not because we are raising our children to be parrots, but because we are raising them to be civil, and have such actions become second nature to them.

It was the same for ancient Israel, God's first born, who was called to image God to the other nations. He had to hammer away at the basic truths of the covenant He made with his people, so that his children would have it encoded in their hearts and souls, and the faith would not be a one-generation wonder, but rather a heritage for all times and all peoples and all places.

For the same reason, the Church drums into us the Twelve Articles of the Apostle's Creed so that it will be second nature to us and so that, when we are gone, our children will carry the torch of faith to their children and their children's children until King Jesus returns. May the Christ-child enter our hearts anew to prepare us to walk through the death of Good Friday to the Life of the Resurrection!

You may also enjoy:

The 12 Days of Christmas - Day 1 Through Day 8
The 12 Days of Christmas - The Nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
The 12 Days of Christmas - The Ten Commandments
The 12 of Christmas - The Eleven Apostles

Note: I am blessed to be receiving one of these reflections, from a deacon friend, each day. He tells me he doesn't know their source but makes simple edits as he deems necessary. Do you know the original source? Please share if you do.

2014 Catholic Bloggers Link-Up Blitz

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Twelve Days of Christmas - The Eleven Apostles

The 11th Day of Christmas

Matthew 11:16-19But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places and calling to their playmates, 'We piped to you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.' For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon'; the Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Behold, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.
If we see the faithful Apostles in the eleven pipers piping, we can begin to enter into the true rhythm of life that is our faith; a faith for which the height and breadth and depth has no limits, being 'in Christ'. G. K. Chesterton once observed that if you see something condemned loudly for being too tall and too short, too black and too white, too round and too square, too fat and too thin, you may be sure that it is very good.

The Catholic faith comes in for a great deal of this sort of criticism, and it always has and will continue to do so until the King returns. 

Beginning with the Pharisees who complained that Jesus was too gluttonous and John the Baptist too ascetic, the Church has been attacked for every contradictory reason imaginable. It's too liberal/conservative, too masculine/feminine, too spiritual/earthbound, too flexible/inflexible. It refuses to change and it's constantly changing; it idolizes/despises Scripture; etc. etc. etc.

What these critics fail to grasp is that the eleven Apostles who saw the Resurrection were piping a tune that answered exactly to the rhythm of life, not laying out a neat diagram that fits the theories of ideologues. The Church, as a result, is always at cross-purposes with the best laid plans of men. Yet her wisdom eventually and certainly prevails, for it is the wisdom of the Spirit who indwells her!

Note: I am blessed to be receiving one of these reflections, from a deacon friend, each day. He tells me he doesn't know their source but makes simple edits as he deems necessary. Do you know the original source? Please share if you do. 

Friday, January 3, 2014

Sanctity of Life Sunday - Resolving to Save the Unborn

The Christmas Season is in its last days. We've celebrated the birth of Jesus, the Holy Family, Mary Mother of God, and the Holy Name of Jesus. Today we move on to the Epiphany and then finally, next Sunday, the Baptism of the Lord. All of these feasts evoke an image of new life, a welcoming family, and unconditional love.

In a world sometimes deplete of empathy for those who make others feel burdened or uncomfortable we need to remind ourselves of the intrinsic value of Life - all Life! God, alone, is the author of Life. He, we are told, called us by our name before we were even born. Let's take His welcoming and unconditional love as an example of how we need to love. With the newborn year, let's resolve to do more - all we can - to save more unborn babies. Let's give them, and their parents, a welcoming world filled with unconditional love!

Let's resolve to same MORE unborn babies this year!

The 12 Days of Christmas - The Ten Commandments

The 10th Day of Christmas 

Exodus 20:1
And God spoke all these words …

 If we see in ten lords a-leaping a reference to the Ten Commandments, we are struck by a rather awesome thought: the Ten Commandments were spoken to us by God through His prophet, Moses. Another even more awesome thing is that we can understand them!

A Being who invented the mysteries of quantum physics and the impenetrable enigma of every cell in our bodies; who fills time and space like water overflowing a bottle; needn't -- once you think about it -- have done either. But He did both. And because He did, we began to know him solely at his urging. In the giving of the Ten Commandments, his word was spoken through Moses. In the birth of Jesus at Christmas, his Word became Incarnate in the New Tabernacle, Mary. In the giving of the Holy Spirit, his word was written on our hearts. This is the truest use of that most abused term: Awesome!!

You may also enjoy:

The 12 Days of Christmas - Day 1 Through Day 8
The 9th Day of Christmas - 9 Fruits of the Holy Spirit 

Note: I am blessed to be receiving one of these reflections, from a deacon friend, each day. He tells me he doesn't know their source but makes simple edits as he deems necessary. Do you know the original source? Please share if you do. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The 12 Days of Christmas - Day 1 Through Day 8

The 1st Day of Christmas

Psalm 91:3,4
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence; he will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
Every once in a while the Old Testament looks a bit far afield to give us imagery for God's love and care. In Psalm 91 we hear one such example. God is being likened to a bird guarding its young. The image of gigantic wings overspreading us and shielding us from harm is a comforting one. And, to be sure, there are times when God does prevent harm and suffering from befalling us.

But it is even more beautiful to realize that, in the Incarnation, the wings of God are not gigantic -- but are rather small and fragile like a partridge's -- or like us. Then the wings shield us -- not by hiding us -- but by showing us how to fly and escape the fowler's snare, as Jesus escaped the deadly pestilence of the grave. His faithfulness shows us not how to hide from suffering, but how to suffer like Him and gain the resurrection. That is, after all, why He came into this world and why we especially remember this during Christmas. So celebrate the Life that has conquered death in the newborn Christ Child, who came to teach us how to love in every circumstance each and every day. 

The 2nd Day of Christmas

Luke 2:22-24And when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, 'Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord') and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, 'a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.'
'Two turtledoves' is a Christmas gift as old as Christmas. It was the gift the Holy Family offered in sacrifice when the day came for Jesus' circumcision. It was the sacrifice of the poor. The Holy Family could not offer much monetarily. But they offered themselves in their sacrifice -- the only sacrifice that God seeks of us.

Most difficult of all, in the unfolding of the mystery of the Incarnation, they offered their Son, who would teach us how to die to ourselves and live for others. Let's receive that gift, for indeed it is the only gift of life!

The 3rd Day of Christmas

1 Cor. 13:13
'So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.'
The French would have us believe that their hens' eggs are of the highest possible quality, and given the reputation of their cuisine let's assume this is so. Hence an analogy for the greatest of the 'supernatural' virtues -- faith, hope and love -- is not too far amiss in a gift of 3 French hens.

Our 'True Love' shows us the reality of love in the Kingdom: a love that shows the worth of every individual; a love that puts the needs of others above our own; a love that asks nothing in return; a Love that loved us before we ever knew Him.

A Love that stretched out His arms -- on the Cross -- and calls us to the same self-sacrificing love. It is the most powerful force in all creation, for only such a love can change hearts. As we reflect anew on the coming of Christ this Christmas season, our center must be on this calling to love by He who loved us first!

The 4th Day of Christmas

Matthew 9:9As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office; and he said to him, 'Follow me.' And he rose and followed him.
The four Gospel writers could be thought of as the original 'four collie (black) birds.' Like all such talkative critters, collie birds are members of the thrash family and learn to call by being called. Before they met Jesus, the Gospel writers had nothing in common: a tax collector and collaborator with the Romans; a young man at loose ends; a Gentile doctor hundreds of miles away from Judea; a fisherman eking out an existence on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. But then, one by one, they were called, just as St. Matthew was -- and they found their voices and answered.

In the call of Jesus there is more than one kind of revelation. For Jesus does not merely reveal the Father to us. He also reveals us to ourselves, and is so doing, reveals our need for others. That is, being made in the image and likeness of the Trinity is not merely personal, though it is indeed that; it also is communal, i.e., families, cultures, nations and the like are also part of the image and likeness of our God.

Further, all of the created order -- seen and unseen -- in some way reflects that image and likeness. Hence the immense diversity of the Family of God (which is to say we are a catholic people), yet we are one people of God, being united through Christ into the Bride of Christ. Christ, our Bridegroom, fills his Bride with great gifts, especially the Holy Spirit, so we indeed may be known as holy. And as St. Matthew and the other apostles learned to call by being called, they have continued to call others into the Family.

In saying 'Yes' to Jesus the evangelists found that they could speak in their own voices to the world. They also found that, for all their individuality, they could speak as one in a common love and a common mission. That's why they went out into the world to call people into the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and why we called to do the same. 

The 5th Day of Christmas

Joshua 1:8
This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success.
Five gold rings actually referred to ring-necked pheasants, but if we stretch the analogy a bit we can still see the focus of rings, which is to remind us of our commitment to someone. The five books of the Law point out to us that our faith is not some abstraction based on moral writings, no matter how good those writings may be. Rather, our faith calls us into a permanent relationship with God, a covenant relationship. These five books recount the beginnings of that relationship, noting we are made in the image of God, that we have fallen from grace, that God aims to save us, and that we often work at cross purposes with Him even when He wills our good, since we can be a 'stiff-necked and rebellious people.' They remind us that despite these failings on our part, God still wills our good and is determined that we shall have him, for He will never abandon us.

The whole point of the command given by Joshua is for Israel to remember we are in that relationship with God. The paradox of the command is that Israel will discover through long centuries of attempts the deepest lesson of the book of the Law: namely, that it cannot be kept in our own power and strength; and that we need help in the name of Jesus the Christ to reestablish our relationship of grace, and to help us remain in that relationship.

The 6th Day of Christmas

Genesis 1:31And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, a sixth day.
Ancient pagan myths often looked to the hatching of a gigantic cosmic egg for the beginning of the universe. Six cosmic geese-a-laying seemed as reasonable as anything else when confronted by the gigantic spectacle of a universe that was both here and yet incredibly strange and impossible looking. But, of course, as charming as a cosmic egg is, sooner or later, annoying questions intrude on such folk stories. Questions like 'Which came first the cosmic goose or the cosmic egg?' start to needle us. If the universe comes from an egg where did the egg come from? And if the egg came from a goose, where did the goose come from?

All such attempts to just propel merely natural cause and effect relationships into infinity are doomed by such questioning. Sooner or later, one has to look -- not for a natural cause (which always requires another natural cause) -- but a supernatural cause which requires nothing in nature for it to exist. The author of Genesis understood this. And remarkably, he was virtually the only person in antiquity to have done so, though we understand today he was aided in this by the Holy Spirit or such truth would have remained hidden.

In the elegant, spare words of Genesis: 'In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth', a creation from nothing which seems not to have occurred to most people in the ancient world. Nearly always, the gods begin their work of creation by molding some primordial glob into various creatures. In Genesis alone do we see God bringing everything into being from nothing. Instead of six cosmic geese, we have six days in which God begins with nothing but himself and, by day's end, is wiping His hands on His apron with all the satisfaction of a great artist pleased at work well done. He is still pleased. That's why creation still exists.

The 7th Day of Christmas

Acts 8:14-17Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit; for it had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.
Using 7 swans a-swimming to reflect the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit, brings us to St. Luke's account of the Christians in Samaria, an account which puzzles many people. It has lead some to make a division between sacramental baptism (it's just a ritual) and 'true baptism in the Holy Spirit.' But this is to misread the passage. The Samaritans who became Christians were -- like all Christians -- baptized and, like all Christians, had received the Holy Spirit thereby.

But this does not mean that the story was over. It never is. For as long as the Christian Tradition has existed, there has been a second sacrament of initiation -- Confirmation -- which asks God to pour out the fullness of the Holy Spirit on the believer and empower him with the gifts of the Holy Spirit for the work of mission in the world and the task of becoming mature in Christ.

It is this sacrament which we see being given in St. Luke's account. It is a sacrament filled with the quiet power of God. As the New Year approaches, let's ask God to fill us anew with the power of the Holy Spirit that so that we may live out the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit and become what we are each and all called to become -- a saint in the One Family of God!  

The 8th Day of Christmas

Isaiah 61:1-2The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn.
The eight maids a-milking reminds us of the eight beatitudes espoused by Christ. And the fact that the 8th day of Christmas falls on our secular New Year's Day suggests the newness of life that the beatitudes offer us -- an inside look at how we are called to live in the Kingdom. New Year's Day can then be seen as pointing to the coming age, when not just the year but all eternity will be offered us brand new and shiny and full of surprises!

And unlike this life, we will not have to watch as the whole thing rusts and falls apart before our eyes. When that Day comes, the beatitude described by Christ will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea, and the things we have only glimpsed herein will be made permanent and universal. What will it look like? This is beyond us for now ('… eye has not seen...'). But what will be there will include the beatitudes Jesus described in the Sermon on the Mount -- the call to how we should live now -- and will live as citizens of the fullness of the Kingdom to come.

But where this world necessitates that the good person be patient and kind in the face of cruelty, there will remain only the patient person, not the cruelty. Good will be expressed finally and completely, revealing to all that good is not dependent on evil to exist, but rather that evil was dependent on good. The captive will be liberated; the tears wiped away. The Good News will be life in the Trinity!  

 Note: I am blessed to be receiving one of these reflections, from a deacon friend, each day. He tells me he doesn't know their source but makes simple edits as he deems necessary. Do you know the original source? Please share if you do.

The 9th Day of Christmas - 9 Fruits of the Holy Spirit

Galatians 5:22,23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law.
The nine fruits of the Holy Spirit that St. Paul mentions in his letter to the Galatians are like the Nine Ladies of the old Christmas song, meant to dance, not just sit there. Fruit is, after all, to be eaten. More than that, good fruit tastes wonderfully sweet. Some of us tend to approach the fruits of the Spirit in a mood of onerous legalism. We 'do good works' in the pinched and cold righteousness of a Puritan, handing out a coin to a beggar in the hope of 'doing our duty.' We approach the life of grace with a Minimum Daily Adult Requirement attitude that asks, 'What's the least I have to do -- the absolute bare minimum -- that will get me to heaven?' 

Little Lady Dancing
Yet our true calling as Christians is light years from such an attitude. Christ came to give life abundantly, not sparingly. The only limit to His graces is our ability to receive them! This fundamental generosity of Our God is at the heart of the fruits of the Spirit. An exultant exuberance that sees virtue not merely as a job to be slogged through, but as a sweet good thing to be tasted and to be savored, is the kernel of all His Gifts. On this 9th day of Christmas, we are called to 'taste and see the goodness of the Lord!' 

Note: I am blessed to be receiving one of these reflections, from a deacon friend, each day. He tells me he doesn't know their source but makes simple edits as he deems necessary. Do you know the original source? Please share if you do.