Saturday, December 30, 2006

A Catholic Meme

Merry Sixth Day of the Octave of Christmas! And an anticipatory Happy New Year!

I thank the blogger at
for the basic material for this post.

I was a bit short on ideas. Not because I didn't have ideas, but because I have too many of them!

And I learned what a 'meme' is. It's the name for those quizzes people pester their friends with!

Here goes...


1. Favorite devotion or prayer to Jesus? I have become a fan of the Divine Mercy Chaplet over the past few years. I rarely miss a day. I also say the short prayer "O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Thine". I also say the Fatima Prayer as part of the Rosary. In place of a usual Act of Contrition, I say "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me a sinner".

2. Favorite Marian devotion or prayer? The Rosary. I was a late-comer to this, but say it daily now.

3. Do you wear a scapular or medal? Sometimes. I have a two year old who grabs and breaks chains, so currently I avoid them. When I can, I wear a crucifix and a couple of medals: Miraculous, and St. Cecelia.

4. Do you have holy water in your home? As a general rule - yes. Our font (stoup) is frequently found dry, but we usually have Holy H2O somewhere in the house.

5. Do you 'offer up' your sufferings? Usually. As one who lives with fibromyalgia, offering up suffering is not too far from my consciousness. I often wonder if that's why I have give me something to offer up.

6. Do you observe First Fridays and First Saturdays? Seldom. We tried to foster this devotion at our chapel, but due to the erratic nature of military life and the rather inconsistent availability of chaplains, it didn't go far.

7. Do you go to Eucharistic Adoration? How frequently? Occasionally. The priest who just left us would have Adoration a couple of times a year. We have rarely gone to other parishes. I am not aware of Perpetual Adoration in our area anywhere.

8. Are you a Saturday evening Mass person or Sunday morning Mass person? We usually go to the 11am Mass, but if the children have an activity (and we try to avoid Sunday morning 'activities') we will attend another parish on Saturday evening. I will usually attend Sunday anyway without our children, as we have commitments there.

9. Do you say prayers at mealtime? Always...even in restaurants or when we are guests at another's home.

10. Favorite Saint(s)? St. John Vianney, St Therese of Lisieux (who is related to my dh and our children), St. Joseph, St. Michael, St. Cecilia...

11. Can you recite the Apostles Creed by heart? Sure! In Canada, we have an indult to use it at Sunday Masses. As a rosary person, I use it there, too. I can do a fair job on the Nicene Creed, but it's rough. We are supposed to use that one on feasts, like Christmas, but it isn't always done. A friend recently decided to use the Nicene Creed with his Rosary, in order to learn it better.

12. Do you usually say short prayers (aspirations) during the course of the day? I say prayers of my own concocting. I rarely use aspirations.

13. Bonus Question: When you pass by a automobile accident or other serious mishap, do you say a quick prayer for the folks involved? When we remember.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Christ vs. Robin Hood

Allow me to digress in my very first line.

THANK YOU to the host of CBC's early weekday morning spot. She has just finished speaking to the film critic, Jesse Wente (which I may be misspelling). He was talking about the Nativity Movie that has just come out. He said it's goodness. What a surprise. How could it be anything BUT predictable?

He referred to Jesus being "immaculately" conceived. As I was gritting my teeth through his chatter about the movie, the hostess actually explained that the Immaculate Conception referred to the birth of Mary! She is correct, but I've never heard a correction like that! The reviewer agreed and then went on to say that Mary's "sister" was pregnant with John the Baptist. Oh well. I guess we can't really expect accuracy from our national radio station.

The reason for this blog is an 'essay' by a woman on the Christmas season. She maintained that despite the growing complaints about people not saying "Merry Christmas" but things like "Season's Greetings" or "Happy Holidays", we do not really celebrate Christ's birth.

She says that we cannot celebrate Christ's birth and have Santa Parades, or buy gifts. If we were truly celebrating Christmas, she opines, we would collect money for the poor, be ecologically aware, help at soup kitchens...

When did Christ become Robin Hood? Jesus is the one who said that the poor would always be with us. He is the one who, when the woman anointed him with expensive nard, chastised those who said she should have given the money to the poor instead of spending it on the ointment for him.

Jesus did help the poor. Remember the woman with the hemorrhage, or Mary and Martha when their brother died. He also recognized that he was worthy of adulation. Did not the Wise Men bring the young Christ gifts that could be seen as rather useless to a young child?

I won't mention the religious origins of Santa Claus, as that origin is rather far removed from what we see today. I will mention that Christmas IS the time when many give to the poor. They volunteer at soup kitchens and shelters. They ensure that their Christmas tree is chipped and composted at the end of its life...and decorate their own biodegradeable Christmas wrap.

Is commercialism rampant at Christmas? Yes, I think it is. I made a decision many years ago not to take my children to the mall at this time unless I had no choice. We put Santa in his place. Does this mean we do not celebrate Christ's birth? No, it doesn't. I will say that many who keep the season do not celebrate Christ's birth. It may be choice or ignorance. But many many people DO celebrate Christ's birth. We go to church...sometimes several the course of a couple of days. We also go to church every other Sunday. We also donate, volunteer, and try to walk gently on the Earth.

It does not have to be one or the other. My family and friends do a lot of volunteering at Christmas. We sing in choirs, we proclaim the Good News at Masses. In a way, we are like the woman who anointed Jesus instead of giving money to the poor. We volunteer to celebrate Jesus. There are other times when we will volunteer for the poor.

I once heard it said that in the process of keeping Christ in Christmas, we often end up keeping him ONLY in Christmas. It is the one time of year when many who do not recognize his sovereignty any other time suddenly find it very important to go to Church.

A friend of mine tells a joke about the miracle of the flowers. A man runs up to the priest and very excitedly says he's seen a miracle. The priest is intrigued. The man explains that last time he was in church, the flowers were lilies. Now, they'd changed to poinsettias!

I invite anyone reading this to take note of Advent this year. It starts on Sunday, December 3. Prepare yourself for Christmas as well as you prepare your home!

God Bless

Thursday, November 30, 2006

How Civilized are We?


During the first week of Advent, I attended the mission being held at our chapel. A mission is short series of talks (in this case three evenings) usually held by a visitor to the church, designed to inspire or catechise those present.

The visiting priest spoke on "Journeying" over the course of his three talks. I was able to attend only the 2nd talk, which was on Peter, the apostle.

The talk was very good. The point was that God loved Peter. Indeed, He started his Church on Peter. If we read scripture, we see that Peter had some rather noteable weaknesses or sins.

As we know we are all sinners, it should be very comforting to us to know that God loves us even when we sin. Without sin and reconciliation, we would not be able to experience God's forgiveness and mercy.

Many people grow closer to God when they are struggling against sin in their lives.

The talk swung a bit into the realm of impetuousness. Peter acted quickly and cut off the ear of a soldier.

Someone brought up the genocide in Rwanda...countrymen rising up against each other and killing many of them.

We speculated that many can act in very sinful ways when they find themselves under some sort of pressure.

Something occurred to me very strongly at this point.

We spent several weeks last year in Bosnia. This country is in central Europe, yet just a few years ago, its people were killing each other. Neighbour was rising up against neighbour. Where we were wasn't even a war zone!

I don't think we realize just how close any one of us is to participating in an atrocity of this sort. The veneer of civilization is very thin. If we scratch it just a bit, anywhere, we find human nature can be very cruel.

In the Balkans, many were killed or displaced due to religious differences. In Bosnia, Serbian Orthodox rose up against Catholics and Muslims. In what is now Croatia, Catholics rose up against the Orthodox.

This area is one of the oldest bastions of Christianity in the world! Yet the peaceful message of Christianity was dismissed so quickly and by so many when the opportunity arose.

In Rwanda, one ethnic group rose up against another, resulting in many deaths.

One common link here is that both of these areas had been ruled by another party. In the Balkans, it was Tito's regime that kept the lid on age old tensions. In Rwanda, the Belgians had colonized and used one group of natives to rule the other, resulting in rivalry.

Once the 'foreign' rule was gone, suppressed tensions rose quickly.

I did not care to take it up with the assembled group, but I remembered the "FLQ Crisis" in Canada in 1970. I"m not sure if it applies in quite the same way, but I'll speculate.

In 1970, the FLQ (Federation de Liberation de Quebec), a terrorist group, kidnapped and killed James Cross. They were trying to somehow gain Quebec's "freedom" from the rest of Canada.

The Prime Minister at the time, Pierre Trudeau, acted decisively and imposed the War Measures Act, which meant that the entire country was plunged into a situation where civil rights were restricted as they might be in a time of war.

I was a small child at the time, and living almost entirely across the country from where the action was, but I remember feeling afraid. My father, a member of the RCMP, Canada's national police force, was gone from home (battle readiness I suppose). I remember commenting to my mother some time later that they news kept talking about this situation long after the crisis subsided. She, correctly, told me that we would be talking about it for years to come.

In Quebec, the Church and the provincial government had made a sort of arrangement which, according to citizens of the province many years later, worked toward giving more advantages to the English citizens of the province than to the Francophone majority.

After the death of Premier Duplessis, this arrangement fell apart. The FLQ arose apparently to shake off the yoke imposed by either English Canada, or by the Catholic Church.

Soon, a separatist government surfaced in Quebec. The practice of Catholicism plummeted.

A couple of years ago, I was talking with my mother on the phone. She lives in the West. We are in Ontario. She made a comment about the 'big French families'. I had to break the news to her that those families were rare now. She was shocked. In fact, the birth rate in Quebec is lower than the already low rate for the rest of Canada. Large families have traditionally been synonymous with the practice of Catholicism.

Quebec no longer has Catholic schools. According to a Quebecois chaplain I knew, everyone in Quebec was baptised, but any formation after that was unusual. Baptism is as much a cultural practice there as it is in the rest of the country. Any connection to the Catholic faith is incidental.

I guess my point in all this is to caution against the Church becoming associated with any ruling party. I believe that the Church should speak out strongly against its members who participate in evil practices, in order to avoid the appearance of collusion on the part of the Church.

Human beings are weak, as was Peter. We can get caught up in emotions and practices that are evil very easily when we do not have strong leadership...and sometimes even WITH strong leadership. We need strong leadership from our Church to help us preserve the veneer of civility when so much around us may be drawing us into places we should not go.

God Bless

Friday, November 24, 2006

A life of consequence

Wow. November is nearly done and soon we will re-enter the season of Advent. Time seems to be flying so fast this year!

Last weekend, my husband, two daughters and little son attended a local hockey game. We haven't been to one in several years, so it was a treat!

My youngest daughter, who has a sense of style that is all her own, was decked out in a pink jacket and very fuzzy pink mittens. She did look rather sharp.

As we were waiting in line to have our hands stamped, we passed a man with Down's Syndrome. Where we live, this is not at all unusual as there are good facilities for assisted living in this area.

What was unusual was that he quickly whipped his arm around my daughter's shoulders, said something about the colour pink, and gave her a kiss on the cheek! She was rather tickled.

As I passed behind her, this fellow gave me a light punch on the arm and told me my daughter was special. I told him I agreed and said he was special, too. He told me he knew that!

As we watched the game, we noticed this fellow and a friend of his, also with Down's Syndrome, enjoying the game thoroughly and dancing to the music played when the game halted for some reason. I realized I remembered this pair from games several years back. Their joy in life was so clear.

I have always been familiar with people living with Down's Syndrome. My mother's step-sister, who is about 8 years older than I am has Down's. I have always been familiar with it. It does not bother me in the least.

My aunt has lived nearly her whole life with my grandmother. In recent years, she has taken residence with a sister, while my grandmother resides in a seniors' home. She is now in her 90s and wisely considered that my aunt should learn to live with someone else before her own death.

As people with Down's go, I gather my aunt is very highly functioning. She taught herself parts of several languages, drew quite well, played music, had a sense of humour (which could be rather harsh on those who displeased her in some way!)and learned to cook simply by observing her mother who did not think her capable of doing the task.

My younger children do not know my aunt, as they have lived their entire lives 1000 miles away from her, but when my older children were small, my aunt was very attentive to them.

She has been such a blessing to my grandmother. She has given many people pause with her witty observations coming from an obviously 'challenged' body.

As she is now, I think, over 50 years of age, she has reached a good age for someone with her disability. Her health is good though, and she doesn't have the common ailments of others with her characteristics. If she is like her female forbears, she will live a long time yet.

I find it so amazing that some would not have allowed her to be born.

When my grandmother gave birth to her, she chose my aunts names so that her initials were 'JEM'...a jewel.

A friend of mine has a young daughter with Down's. My friend was not of advanced age when she had this child, so it was unexpected. Not knowing that Down's children often are lacking the reflex to nurse, my friend happily breastfed her, giving her the very best thing the baby would need.

My friend attempted to network with other parents of such children, but was very upset to see that these other families stopped having children after they gave birth to their 'jem'. My friend believes strongly that all children are a gift from God. She has gone on to be very gifted and now has three children younger than her jem of a daughter!

I think we really do not know what we do when we start practicing the sort of eugenics that would not allow these, or other children with challenges, to have life.

God help us!

Thursday, November 16, 2006


Happy Thursday

I think I have experienced a miracle this week.

As I've mentioned before, I am involved in liturgy preparation at my parish.

Lately, we've had a 'personnel change', for lack of a better term, at the parish. Along with this, and not too surprisingly, some changes occurred in liturgical practice.

Unfortunately, these were changes that brought us further away from liturgical norms, rather than closer...and closer is where we've been heading for the past 5 years or so.

This is distressing to those of us who are interested in good liturgical practice (which I will readily admit is not the majority of the congregation...but the Church has never been a democracy. My feeling is that the congregation should at least know what good liturgy IS...before they decide whether they like it or not!)

I had a disheartening occurrance, when a priest I looked forward to working with, and who is very interested in good liturgy, got moved away.

My liturgy team had some good people, but not all were willing to be educated about 'best practices', and of course these did not come already trained!

I faced my first meeting flying 'solo' with great trepidation. So, I started a Novena.

A Novena is a prayer, or set of prayers, usually said over the course of nine days. At times these may be said over a multiple of nine days, or done over nine hours (called a power novena). The word 'novena' comes from the Latin word for nine. It is based on the Apostles praying for nine days in the Upper Room.

Novenas are usually directed to one member of the Trinity, or the Blessed Mother, or to a particular member of the Heavenly Host, ie. A Saint.

I made my novena, in this case, to the Holy Spirit. I made up the prayers myself, although there are several ready-made novenas to the HS. My novena, as it turned out, would end on the day of my meeting.

Well, the Sunday before the meeting, one of the team members told me she didn't really want to be doing what she was doing. This surprised me a bit, but I said we'd find someone else then. On Monday, a friend came over to visit and in the course of chatting, expressed interest in the ministry newly without a leader. Hmmm. She didn't know anything about the situation. I asked her if she'd like to lead it. She said she would.

This effectively gives me a team which is VERY interested in liturgy and willing to learn. Our 'bosses' have not changed, but I think as a unified voice for the Church's teaching, my team might be strong and effective.

So, on the last day of the Novena, Tuesday, I went into the meeting confident. The other members accepted the new person. They all know her and most have worked with her before, quite successfully. This meeting, as it turned out, was also without a rep from the chaplains, who all happened to be at a conference. So we had a chance to talk and get some things in the open. It was a great meeting.

Things looked brighter than they have since our priest left. News from his new location tells us that he is greatly needed there. God knows what he's up to!

I would like to mention that other novenas I've prayed have brought rather dramatic results. I've prayed to St. Joseph, patron of husbands and fathers. I say a novena beginning or ending on the ordination dates of priest friends I have. This is addressed to St. John (Jean) Vianney, the patron saint of confessors (priests).

I do this to support the ministry of these priests. I've discovered that many priests have their ordination dates in May!

I have said a novena to this saint on my own behalf and have suddenly become aware of areas of sin in my life. He is, after all, the patron saint of confessors, which is who we confess our sins to!

This is a rather old-fashioned devotion in the eyes of some, but I recommend taking a look at it.

God Bless


Wednesday, November 08, 2006



Yesterday, I taught a baptism preparation class. Not a new thing for me.

My 'method' is to give a short course in Catholic parenting. Most of the couples I see are not regular churchgoers. Many are not sacramentally married.

Yesterday afternoon, I was washing the dishes in the kitchen. At my feet, I saw a shred of an advertizer my 2yo had destroyed.

There was an ad for clothing. I saw the last part of the word "sacrifice" on the paper. I had to think for a minute what the word sacrifice had to do with sweaters. I realized it must have been an ad exhorting the reader that they didn't have to sacrifice quality for price, or something like that.

I initially thought that this was a mis-use of the word. But given how the word is often used today, it's not such a bad usage.

But we've wandered away from the original meaning of the word.

In my talk to the young parents, I emphasize to them that their children are part of God's plan to get them into heaven. Children cause parents to see outside themselves. As I thought of this yesterday, I realized I could say that parents make 'sacrifices' for their children. Beautiful tie-in...

The word sacrifice comes from two latin words. the 'fice' part comes from the latin word 'to make'. The 'sacri' part comes from the latin word for 'holy'.

Sacrifice means to make holy. Wow! So it makes sense that parents make 'sacrifices' for their children. What they are giving up is being made holy, just as the parent is being made holy by doing the giving!

We Catholics also use the word sacrifice when we talk of the "Holy Sacrifice of the Mass".

Modernists (a friend calls them the liberazzi)don't like this word, as it calls up images of the crucifixion of Christ which aren't pretty. The Mass is called a meal, by these people.

Certainly, the Mass is, in part, the sharing of the meal: the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus, as He commanded in the Gospel of John. But the Mass is also celebrating the sacrifice Jesus made for us, to enable us to go to Heaven. At Mass, the meal is made holy, and indeed WE are being made holy.

I wonder just how we got to the meaning of simply "giving up" for the word sacrifice.

May we all, in some way, share in Christ's sacrifice today!

God Bless.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Saints and Souls

Hello again!

This past week saw the Church celebrate two very important dates on its calendar: All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day.

All Saints', the original reason for Halloween which was once called All Hallows (Saints') Eve, is the day in which the Saints, known and unknown are celebrated. That includes all those who are still working out their salvation...the Church Militant...which would be you and me.

We are all called to perfection in Christ. We are called to be holy. In other words, we are called to be saints!

While the Church has never and will never say that any person is in Hell, they do, from time to time, declare that a certain person is in Heaven. These are the Canonized saints whose names may be used in the canon of the Mass. In truth, anyone who makes it to heaven is a saint, whether canonized or not. There are countless saints known only to God.

All Souls' Day is the day in which we remember and pray for the dead. Some of those dead will have gone to Heaven. Some will still be having the rough edges worked off in Purgatory. For those in Purgatory, we offer prayer which we hope will shorten their stay there. Those prayers may also shorten OUR stay there!

One need never fear praying for a person who may actually be in Hell. A person in Hell will not be helped by prayer. Their destiny is already set. Any prayers directed that way will be used to help someone who still has hope of Heaven.

Our churches often have a Book of the Dead available for the month of November so people can write in it the names of their deceased loved ones. These dead are remembered at Masses throughout November.

I will not get into a discussion here on "Last Things" which are our destinies of Heaven or Hell. Nor will I enter into an apology of Purgatory. Many have gone before me who have done a fine job of that. Maybe I'll tackle it another day.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

I'm back...

Yesterday, I finally had a chance to present my Catholic books to the local Catholic teachers. I have been trying for four years to become a vendor. Others have been trying to help, but I finally got in this year. I am thankful.

It was an interesting day. I got to see, in passing at least, most of the teachers, educational assistants, principals and other employees of the Catholic school board.

There is an area within the board boundaries which is known for its "conservative" approach to the Catholic faith. Some people would just say that these people are faithful to the teaching of the Magisterium of the Roman Church. I suspect this to be true. I could almost tell who these people were by their dress. I could also tell by some of their book choices!

I noticed, of course, that many of the teachers did not come near my table, and I was the only book vendor. Some teachers would likely be near retirement and would feel no need to add to their collections. But I wonder at some of the young teachers...

As it turned out, the line up for lunch wound right in front of my table. Some spent the time they were 'captive' browsing. Some had actually done the 'Judas Shuffle', a phrase which I believe Scott Hahn coined to describe people who left Mass immediately after receiving Holy Communion, instead of waiting for Mass to end. By leaving early, these people beat the line up for lunch. But they missed the end of the "Lamb's Supper", the Eucharist. Hmmm.

I also heard comments as people browsed the books. Some looked at the books on morality with a sneer, or they picked up a book, glanced at it and tossed it down dismissively. This seemed to be particularly evident with the "Love and Life" books by Colleen Kelly-Mast. I only heard one group of teachers all day which considered buying any of the morality or Theology of the Body related books. Of course these books would be at odds with the prevailing societal attitudes on the subject. It would also be a very different approach to the subject than is given in the books published by the Canadian College of Catholic Bishops, who have given us wonderful documents like the notorious "Winnipeg Statement"

It would, sadly, also be at odds with the lifestyles many of these people have. A few years ago when I worked in several schools as an emergency supply teacher, I was quite appalled at some of the conversations that took place in the staff rooms. Teachers were pregnant out of wedlock, or co-habiting without benefit of marriage. I wonder how it is that these teachers can pass on the life-giving Truth our faith holds, when they don't know it themselves.

There were some bright lights though. One teacher, who has known our older children, congratulated me for considering homeschooling our youngest one from the very beginning of his schooling. He also seemed glad to hear that our middle daughter was at home...and this man teaches at the Catholic High School! His own children are homeschooled.

The most involved book conversation I had all day was with a woman who was looking for some sort of devotional herself. We spoke about the varied writing styles of JP II and Pope Benedict XVI. She bought a book which some would consider rather heavy, but which contained some writings of Sts. Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, St. Francis de Sales and Thomas a Kempis. Another teacher dashed up to me later in the afternoon and asked me, completely out of the blue, when Mary's birthday was! I think I was settling an argument.

By the way, the birthdate of the Blessed Virgin is on September 8, given that the Feast of the Immaculate Conception is on December 8.

I am very glad to have had the opportunity to be at this event, which is held annually. I look forward to next year, when I will bring a bigger float, some different books, and, hopefully, a credit card system that works.

I also hope that perhaps something I sell will help someone to take a second look at Church teachings he or she finds difficult to live by.

God Bless!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Life Issues

God's blessings to you all!

Last Thursday, my husband and I attended the annual dinner for the local Right to Life group.

We went to this a couple of years ago and had a nice time. We were away last year, but when I heard that Michael Coren was speaking this year, I HAD to go!

Michael Coren is a journalist who is a syndicated writer for some Canadian newspapers. He is also and author, and a recent convert to the Catholic Church.

He did not disappoint! He is an entertaining speaker, and definitely lets us all know how he feels on the issues he addresses.

In the case of this dinner, the issues were Life issues...abortion, and euthanasia in particular.

I cannot speak for the denominations present, but I would like to address the Catholic teachings on these issues, as I understand them.

The Catholic Church is the only mainstream Christian church which has consistently taught that a) Life begins at conception (not implantation, as is often argued) b) We do not have the right to deliberately end a life, either at its beginning or at its end, therefore induced abortion and euthanasia are not something the Church permits for any reason.

That life begins at conception is part of the reason the Church also cannot allow the use of abortifacient forms of birth control, such as The Pill, IUDs and diaphragms. (The Church does not allow any other form of deliberate pregnancy prevention either, but the other forms do not fall into the abortifacient category, so I will not deal with them here).

Euthanasia is often touted as humane or compassionate. As God is the author of life, only He has the right to end life. We do not have to look far to find examples of people with no 'reason' to be alive. They may have been chronically ill, severely handicapped or mentally incapacitated. But in this group are also those who have given and received great love. There are those who, although mentally affected, are used by God to teach the "wise" great lessons. Some have even become canonized Saints.

Families have stories of their elderly members who, although weakened by age, managed to dispense wisdom to the other family members, sometimes despite chronic pain. These people are often the 'praying arm' of their families and parishes.

Who are we to decide when to end a life? Who can know the mind of God? Is this degeneratively ill person here in order to allow someone to learn how to love him or her? Is someone in need of lessons in compassion? Is the ill person themselves in need of lessons in humility? Patience? We don't know.

To my mind, abortion is a self-evident evil. I know, however, that I seem to be far from the majority in this. It is certainly not reflected in our national lack of ANY regulation concerning abortion. Imagine! In Canada, a small person can be aborted, killed, up to the very last days of in utero development!

People do not realize the connection between abortion and birth control. It is relatively recently that countries have allowed access to abortion. Some still do not allow unrestricted access.

What people also do not realize, is that NO major Christian Church (and I'm not aware of any minor ones either!) allowed any form of birth control until the Anglican church allowed it for grave reasons. This happened at the Lambeth Conference of 1930.

I would like to point out that the Muslim religion does not allow birth control or abortion either. And they're supposed to be the 'bad guys'?

At this point in time, the only major Christian Church to withstand public pressure to give in to abortion and birth control is the Catholic Church. I will add here that I do know that there are many non-Catholic Christians who, as individuals and in some cases parts of their denominations, also eschew BOTH abortion and birth control...but usually birth control is not seen as an evil.

So what is the issue with birth control? Well, as mentioned above, some forms are abortifacient (they cause a very early abortion by allowing the woman's body to shed the fertilized egg before it implants). These would be seen as abortion is seen.

Other forms of birth control are still interfering with God's work of starting and ending life. It is strange to me that people who strive to have God in control of their lives, will not allow Him to be in charge of their reproductive lives! But in a society which can allow the death of a child within its mother, why should we see the value of children outside their mother?

It strikes me as sad that when someone is talking about the value of planning their family naturally, they lose credibility when it is found that they have more than three or four children!

What people do not understand is that many people WANT lots of children and view them as gifts, not problems.

Even when I was at the doctor expecting my last child, they asked what form of birth control I was using. I said none. Then I clarified that we had used Natural Family planning, but this pregnancy was not a failure of the method. They don't have a category for that, I don't think.

This is a rather scattered view of some life issues. I will explain Natural Family planning another time. Good night!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Greetings in Christ!

Late last week, I had the privilege of receiving one of the healing sacraments. In other words: Confession, Reconciliation, Penance. Those names are all aspects of the one sacrament of forgiveness.

This is probably one of the least favourite sacraments. Arguably the other is probably Holy Orders!

Confession, as I tend to call it, is the act of publicly (to a priest) naming sins, and, hopefully, being absolved of those sins.

People tend to avoid this sacrament, often putting themselves in grave danger of being "guilty of the Body and Blood of Christ" as St. Paul said, by receiving the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist unworthily. The avoidance is akin the avoidance many people have of the doctor's office. They may well suspect they are ill, but don't want to hear it said aloud, as if this somehow makes the illness non-existent.

The illness dealt with by the sacrament of Reconciliation, as it is usually called at present, is the spiritual illness of sin. We all do it. If anyone has doubts, they only have to read Scripture to hear that "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God". Taking that sin into the confessional and speaking it aloud to the priest is a difficult thing to do.

Sin falls into two categories, Venial Sin and Mortal Sin. Venial sin is the type that damages, but does not break, the relationship between God and His people. Mortal sin, on the other hand, breaks the relationship between God and His people.

This is actually a scriptural distinction, although many are not aware of this. 1 John 5:17 (RSV): All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin which is not mortal. {KJV: "not unto death"}

The Church teaches us that all mortal sin must be confessed sacramentally in order to be absolved.

Venial sin can be absolved in several ways. During the Mass itself there is more than one instance when venial sin is absolved. We may say during Mass "I confess to Almighty God and to you my brothers and sisters that I have sinned through my own fault: in what I have done and what I have failed to do and I ask Blessed Mary, ever virgin, all the angels and saints and you my brothers and sisters to pray for me to the Lord, our God." This is in the Roman Canon, now called the first Eucharistic Prayer. In the Tridentine Rite, we would say "Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa" (By my fault, by my fault, by my most grievous fault) and acknowledge our sin. Just before Communion we now acknowledge our imperfection and say "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I ("my servant" in Scripture)will be healed.

What is the difference between mortal and venial sin? For a sin to mortal, it must involve grave matter and the sinner must have full knowledge of the sin and give it full consent.

It's pretty hard to commit a mortal sin accidently. In actuality, what is a mortal sin for one person, may be only a venial sin to another if they are ignorant of what they are doing.

Now, should ONLY mortal sins be confessed sacramentally? You might hear different things from different people. I think it is good to remember that no sin can enter heaven. If we persist in venial sin, we can find ourselves sliding into mortal sin without much thought. In a way, unrecognized venial sin desensitizes us to more serious sin. One speaker I heard likened unresolved venial sin to a callus that can grow over an irritation on our skin. It can make the irritation less irritating, and cause our conscience to go into a sort of hibernation.

Many people develop a devotional relationship to the sacrament of reconciliation. At one time it was not at all unusual for people to go to confession every week, before they received the Eucharist at Mass. Now, many people do not do the bare minimum, which is reconciliation once a year. Some people, however, go to confession regularly, monthly or even weekly.

Are these people greater sinners than other people? They may actually be less sinful. People who confess often get into the practice of monitoring their behaviour, with a mind to change what needs changing. They may do a daily examination of conscience, which has them deliberately reviewing the day's activity.

Regular confession to one confessor (that would be the priest) helps to expose recurrent behaviours and helps to eradicate them.

Some of our Protestant brethren take issue with confessing sins to a man and having him absolve. After all, priests are sinful people too, right?

Scripture very clearly gives the ability to bind and loose on earth and in heaven to the apostles (Matthew 18:18). By apostolic succession, this ability has been passed on to the priests of today.

The one actually absolving the sin is Christ. We say that the priest, when absolving sin, is acting 'in persona Christi Capitis'. By virtue of his holy orders, the priest is binding or loosing, in this case sin.

I try to receive this sacrament frequently. Frequently enough? I don't know. Sometimes, I feel very light when I am absolved. Sometimes I don't feel much of anything. But I am always touched when I hear the words of absolution. It is a tremendous gift. I can tell you quite cleary what my most persistent faults are! I confess, I mess up, and I confess again. I do not confess as a 'cop out' as some would say. I confess what I truly want to change.

Occasionally, and it is rare, I have been 'talked out' of a sin. The circumstances around what I saw as a sin were such that Father did not believe my behaviour was actually a sin. That can certainly give one a moment of thought!

Unfortunately, it can happen that the confessor does not believe in the confession of venial sin, and will discourage this practice. These men are really robbing the penitent of a great tool for achieving holiness! In a society which seems to like to tell us or show us that nothing is sinful, it can sometimes be a quite a challenge to take up the call to holiness.

I would challenge whomever finds himself (or herself) reading this to consider going to confession soon. For a Catholic, this is one of our most valuable gifts.

God Bless

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Hello friends

I apologize for my lapse in posting here. We've had computer trouble, now apparently mended, and I am also working on a posting that is actually requiring some research, and it's far from finished yet. In the meantime...

A very dear priest-friend of mine once said that Catholics do funerals very well. Sadly, we tested this comment once again this week.

Canada is at war. The troops in Kandahar province of Afghanistan are suffering what seems to me to be a high number of injuries and deaths over there. An inside source tells me that there is a news blackout regarding the injuries. For morale, I suppose.

The deaths cannot be hidden.

On Friday at our chapel, I sang in the choir for the funeral Mass for a soldier, and member of our chapel parish. Although I did not know the family personally, I had certainly seen them frequently. This was about the hardest funeral I've ever been involved with. I was not the only participant who felt very drained when it was over.

Catholic funerals are not what people generally think of when they think of funerals. There are similarities of course, but also many profound differences.

The Catholic funeral is less a memorial to a life ended than it is a celebration of new life with God. In fact, the only two times a person will have the large Paschal (Easter) Candle lit for him or her during the lifetime, is at the person's baptism and at his or her funeral.

What is the connection between Easter, Baptism and the Funeral? The Paschal Candle, which should be brand new each year (and incidently is the only candle in the church required to be wax, specifically at least 51% beeswax) is lit during the Easter Vigil Mass each year. It is lit from a special fire made for just this purpose. The light from this candle symbolizes Christ's light of salvation given through His resurrection from the dead. The candle is plunged into the water to be blessed at this Mass as well.

So, the candle is a sign of Christ's resurrection. It stays lit during every Mass of the 50 day Easter Season.

When a person is baptized, they are baptized into Christ's death and resurrection. The pouring of water on the one being baptized symbolizes, among other things, death! This is seen somewhat more clearly if the baptism is done by immersion. Coming out of the water symbolizes rising from death as a new creation in Christ. Infants being baptized have the stain of Original Sin removed. Adults, or anyone over the age of reason, have Original Sin and any sin they've committed (Actual Sin) up to that time, removed. This symbol is further exhibited when the newly baptized are clothed in a white garment.

When a baptized person has died, Catholics believe that he is passing into everlasting life. "You raise the dead to new life in the Spirit" go the words to the Kyrie we chanted at this funeral when we asked for Christ's mercy for the dead and for ourselves. The funeral pall draped over the casket is a reminder of the white garment given at Bapism!

I'm not sure, but I surmise that this is why the Catholic military funerals I've seen do not drape the casket with a Canadian flag. My understanding is that the flag may be placed on the casket before burial, but not within the Mass.

Catholics do not properly have a Eulogy at a funeral Mass. The priest or perhaps a Deacon as I saw at another funeral, will deliver the Homily, as at a Sunday Mass. This homily will almost always give those at the Mass examples of what kind of a person the deceased was. Sometimes funny stories, collected from friends and family in the days before the funeral, are related. But always, in my experience, the emphasis is on eternal life. Family and friends are usually given other opportunities to share stories of the life of the deceased. This can happen before or after the Mass, at a wake or at a reception.

We are a Church that prays for the dead. We believe the dead are "alive in Christ". In John 11:25, Jesus says "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"

So death of a believer is a type of resurrection. This is the Easter connection.

I am not sure I've ever been to a Mass that did not involve incense. Before the casket is taken from the church, the deceased is commended to God. The casket is blessed with Holy Water and is incensed. Holy Water is another reminder of Baptism and incense is symbolic of our prayers rising to God. At Friday's funeral, we sang a short song during the incensing which wished the deceased a greeting of angels when he entered heaven.

As hard as this funeral was for the choir, who must sing on, often through choked back tears (on a personal note, I saw that the deceased had surviving him a son who was only about as old as our youngest, which us under three), we can only imagine what this was like for the family, who we saw throughout. The choir left with headaches, the family, who appeared very strong in Faith, left with heartache, which cannot be cured with an aspirin.

God Bless

Sunday, September 03, 2006


Today at Mass, Father's homily really made me think.

That is a good thing, and really not SO unusual!

He was discussing liturgy and the rules. He mentioned scrupulosity, that sin of seeing sin where none exists. Made me a little nervous.

I will readily admit to finding great comfort in rules. They give our lives structure and a certain level of predictability.

I have been called pharisaic, that is; like a Pharisee.

The Pharisees were a sect in Judaism who took great interest in the many laws that existed for the Jewish people. Jesus took them to task. This can be a troublesome text for people like me, until some light is shed on it.
The Pharisees were very caught up in the letter of the Law. By losing sight of the reasons behind the law, the 'spirit' of it, they became incapable of the love that is necessary for the just functioning of a society.

Scripture tells us that we are to love the law. We are to love the Lord's precepts (another word for rules). Jesus came not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it.

God gave us His Church so that we would not be without leadership when Jesus ascended to heaven. The Church is the Body of Christ. We are a part of the Body of Christ. The Church (the Body of Christ) gives us rules. As we love the Body of Christ, we are to love the Church and love the rules. Oh, did I mention that Jesus Christ IS God in the form of the Son?

Part of the problem is that people present the discussion as if it's an either/or thing. You either love OR you follow the rules. This is certainly not the case.

As confirmed adult Catholics, we are REQUIRED to admonish the sinner. That is one of the Spiritual works of mercy. We can't admonish the sinner if we don't know right from rules.

Father's homily was referring mostly to liturgy. Liturgy has rules. It's very easy to dismiss the rules as bureaucratic, hierarchical, outdated, outmoded, irrelevant. Who's to know? Does God really care if we follow the rules the Church gives us for liturgy? Will the people know any different?

I think of the Parable of the Talents in the Gospel of Matthew where we hear "Well done good and faithful servant. You have shown you can be trusted in small things. You will be trusted with greater things."

Following faithfully the directions on the timing of, say, the Communion song seems to many people like a very small thing indeed. But there are reasons behind it. We should be faithful to that small thing.

But if the song starts three seconds late, or even early, do I bite off the head of the music leader? Of course not. If she truly does not know, at some point direction will need to be given. If she gets it right 14 weeks out of 15? Ignore it. She knows how it's supposed to work.

If I know that someone is falling into grave sin, do I let it go? Well, if I am certain the person knows better, it is entirely possible that my pointing out a sin would be no help. It might even make matters worse.

If the person is ignorant of the sinfulness of his action, the loving thing IS to point out the sin. How loving is it to have a person persist in sinfulness that may endanger his soul?

I've known people in positions of authority and guidance who ignore blatant sin, because, well, the sinner is so wonders if that might be a temporary condition. And what of the soul of the person who did not admonish the sinner?

We are not in a time and place that much likes being told what to do. I think we have lost sight of how rules help us function more smoothly as a society.

I also think that in the Church, of all places, where we are called NOT to conform to the patterns of the world, would be a place where rules would be respected.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

Good evening.

Today is, as the title indicates, the Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Ordinary time simply means 'ordered' or 'numbered'. It does not mean 'unremarkable' or 'boring'. Sundays which are not in Ordinary Time are in other seasons of the Church calendar which would be Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter seasons. In that case a Sunday would be called "The Fourth Sunday in Lent" or something like that.

It comes as a surprise to many that there is no 'First Sunday' in ordinary time. I do not know why. Many a new liturgical minister has been befuddled by this!

Today is the Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time, but we were blessed today with a Mass that was not at all ordinary.

We had three priests and a deacon celebrating Mass. And it wasn't a wedding or funeral. This is rather unusual at any rate, but in our military chapel it is exceedingly rare for many reasons. The priest who was the main celebrant even commented on how unusual it is for all these men to be ANYWHERE at the same time!

This is the first time I"ve seen our new deacon, who is still in the process of moving in. He was ordained less than a month ago. It is also the first time I've seen a deacon 'in action'. There are specific parts of the Mass reserved for deacons.

I will also add that there are two types of deacons. Temporary deacons are men on their way to Ordination as a priest. Permanent Deacons are men who may be married with families. By their ordination they make the statement that they will not re-marry if their wife dies. This is similar to the priests in the Eastern Rite churches. Once they are ordained, they may not marry.

It was a lovely Mass today. Father commented that it would be hard to claim a vocations shortage here.

With our one altar server, who is also an adult, it made for an all-male team in the sanctuary, which is all too rare.

We in the choir numbered only four, and even then that was only when both my husband and I were not being called upon to tend to our little one! Nonetheless, I gather we sounded pretty good. We got applause after Mass.

I do NOT like getting applause. The glory is to be to God. We are not entertainment. But still, it feels nice. Did that make any sense?

Our music leader has been making heavy use of a few songs over the past couple of weeks. The small congregation is slowly learning them and starting to sing better. There was a fellow here this week visiting his daughter who was a wonderful, if temporary, addition to the musical side of the congregation. We decided he had to join the choir, but unfortunately it would be too long a commute!

All in all I came away feeling particularly blessed today. I hope this feeling oozes out to the community so they will join us!

God Bless

Monday, August 21, 2006

AIDS boondoggle

Happy Monday!

What follows is some disjointed mental meanderings...

Well, the Aids conference held in Canada is over. Deep Breath. What a mess this seems to be.

The devil is tapdancing in some pretty high places it would seem by some of what has surfaced in the "fight against AIDS"

I've heard it called a pandemic. What is a pandemic? (the first definition that showed up) says this:

Widespread; general.
Medicine. Epidemic over a wide geographic area and affecting a large proportion of the population: pandemic influenza.
A pandemic disease.

The Spanish Flu of 1918-19 is listed as a pandemic. It killed 20 million people world wide in ONE YEAR.

AIDS deaths worldwide since 1981 (that would be twenty five years) is 25 million, according to Another site says 20 million, yet another 23 million.

Let's say that there are 900,000 deaths each year since 1981.

This is what the WHO says about cancer rates worldwide:

Cancer by the Numbers
Lung cancer is the most common cancer worldwide, accounting for 1.2 million new cases annually; followed by cancer of the breast, just over 1 million cases; colorectal, 940,000; stomach, 870,000; liver, 560,000; cervical, 470,000; esophageal, 410,000; head and neck, 390,000; bladder, 330,000; malignant non-Hodgkin lymphomas, 290,000; leukemia, 250,000; prostate and testicular, 250,000; pancreatic, 216,000; ovarian, 190,000; kidney, 190,000; endometrial, 188,000; nervous system, 175,000; melanoma, 133,000; thyroid, 123,000; pharynx, 65,000; and Hodgkin disease, 62,000 cases.

How come AIDS gets as much attention as it does? It isn't such a big deal compared to cancer.

We hear a lot about AIDS prevention. Usually, the other word seen with that is 'comdoms'. Condoms are too porous to stop a virus. There has to be something better than that.

There is.

Uganda managed to get it's AIDS rate down below 6%. The employed the chastity principle. This is, I believe the best progress yet made. Ah. Yes, but chastity is so unpopular! And no one makes much money off of it. And by golly, it calls for self control. Can't have that!

If all these people talking about AIDS really cared about lives, they'd do what worked.

I think there's an agenda or two, or ten, at work. Apparently sex trade workers (I think we used to call them prostitutes?) used the opportunity to ask for more rights or something. Huh?

I guess I get tired of the shrillness, the intolerence that seems to be associated with this movement. We need to find treatments for those who are ill, but also, we need to prevent this disease.

I guess I'm not the only one. Tony Clement said there was no point saying anything at the conference. He said it was not a place for rational discussion, and that it had become too political.

When will there be rational discussion? The Catholic Church is very active in hospices which help people dying of AIDS and other diseases. They are also promoting prevention by calling for chastity. This means abstinence from sexual relationships if you are not married, and faithfulness to ones spouse if you are married. Oh, and of course to be married means that there is one man and one woman involved.

The Church is more than willing to help those attracted to members of the opposite sex develop a lifestyle of chastity. There are many who have done it and continue to do it.

But it still comes back to self control, doesn't it?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

On preparing a dresser for painting

Today I gained a deeper insight into our youngest daughter. She is eleven and is currently more than half way across the country from us.

Dh has decided to paint her dresser in the fashion he is painting her desk and bed. My part in this is to clear out the clothing and scrape the stickers off of the outside.

I must give a little background to this girl. She was homeschooled last year in part because I knew her socializing during class was giving the teacher a pain. I also know that she has a little trouble staying 'on task' which didn't help either.

In my daughter I had also seen a flash of spirit time and again that I did not want extinguished by the wear and tear of constant harping by a teacher, regardless of how necessary the chastising might be for classroom peace.

I expected a challenge as I proceeded to work at home with our daughter.

Yes, staying on task was a challenge, but with fewer distractions, this got better. Dd got to the point where if she knew she was easily distracted that day, she'd go and work in her room. By the end of the year she was turning in very good Math and grammar assignments. This was progress!

She is also 'artsy' Nearly everything in the house has paint on it, from her being struck by inspiration, but not remembering (yet again) to protect her work surface, or clothing.

As I took clothes out of her drawers, I was first struck with her organization. Her clothes were sorted by colour rather than purpose! I suppose this makes it easier for her to make sure she matches!

I was surprised at how little detritus there was at the bottom of the drawers. Given that I frequently find her socks stuffed in strange places around the house, I figured I'd find odd things stuffed in her drawers. Not the case at all.

I did, however, find an exacto blade in one drawer and a pair of pliers in another. Not so odd for this gal. She loves to fix things and do woodwork.

Her mind is always working. She often has ways to fix things I am ready to throw out. I know this is why she can't focus sometimes. She's thinking about something far more interesting.

As I worked to clear off the dresser, things got a little tougher. What is trash and what is treasure? Beads, pretty stones, tiny dolls' shoes. Dead tissues I took the liberty of throwing erasers, math erasers, crayons...coloured craft (aka popsicle) sticks. Coloured glass. A keychain with the Blessed Virgin on it. Her crucifix from the Chapel when she was confirmed (so she DID still have it!)

There were few stickers on the dresser when it came down to it. I was thankful for that!

My girl is growing up. I can catch a glimpse into the woman she will be. Probably not like me. She will paint, drive nails, and 'putter'. She will do crafts and draw as she is already doing so well.

I do hope she remembers what she teaches herself so well now. Her prayers, her catechism, and how to appreciate little things in pieces of coloured glass.

God Bless

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Culture Crisis

Happy Sunday!

Dh and I recently returned from a brief trip to New Brunswick to drop our eldest daughter off for her first year at university.

We did the 'to' part of the trip as quickly as we could, given that we also had our 2 year old with us.

The 'from' trip took a little longer. We stopped just to look at some of the lovely things we saw.

The bulk of our travel time was spent going through the province of Quebec. We were mainly on secondary highways, so there were many small communities along the way. It was easy to find a place to stop when we needed to.

Something that is very notable as one passes through Quebec is that it has been strongly influenced by Catholicism. Even tiny villages contain lovely old church buildings. These are often well preserved and look now much as they did when they were built, sometimes 200 or more years ago.

Along with these church buildings are names...St. Eustache, St. Simon, St. Louis de Ha! Ha! (no, I'm not kidding). Many of these saints are obscure, at least to a 21st century Anglophone. But in among those are St. Jean Chrysostom, St. Thomas d'Aquin, Notre Dame de/du (and here you may fill in the blank...du Lac? de Grace? All titles are referring to The Blessed Virgin, the Mother of Christ, Jesus, God. There are personal names like Rosaire (rosary).

As I listed the saints' names, I saw as well references to sacraments and other religious themes.

I would venture that in North America only California boasts as many religious references in its geography as Quebec. Think carefully: Sacramento, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Junipero Serra...

Sadly, the Church has lost much, perhaps almost all, of its influence on the people of this province. Attendence at Mass is very poor. Some historic churches have started charging admission in order to keep them up. As far as I know no one is so crass as to charge to attend Mass, but sightseers can be charged. There are not enough parishioners to support the churches. I understand that sometimes there really is no parish at all...just a building relegated to a historic spot.

Even among the other Canadian provinces, Quebec ranks about the lowest for birth rate, which means it is well below replacement level. What happened to the Church here? You know...the Church that demands its followers not use birth control?

It is not in good shape...that is for sure.

How did this happen? Well I think it is self evident that European and North American cultures seem to be actively trying to shed any semblence of a Christian society. But Quebec was built around Catholic influence more than almost anywhere else.

It is a case, and I put this succinctly as I claim no deep knowledge of the province's past, of government and Church getting more than a little cozy with each other. I have spoken to people who would have been only children at the time of the end of the Duplessis era. The resentment of what had gone on was deep and strong.

What is left of the Church in Quebec is struggling. A friend who is a seminarian in Montreal tells me that seminarians who wish to follow what Rome teaches, as opposed to the disobedient version they are expected to learn, are forced to hide their orthodox tendencies and play along with their misleading shepherds. As they are ordained, they can be obedient to Rome...if they are strong enough and stealthy enough to survive their seminary time.

God be praised that there are such seminarians. There is hope.

Another church worker I know who is also from Quebec, told me that in Quebec everyone is baptized. The pity is that the Church is still a cultural entity...families have always had their children baptized...but in recent times they seem to have forgotten why. There is no follow up. No catechesis (religious education), no attendence at Holy least not until it's time for First Communion. Perhaps it is because of the bad taste left in the mouthes of les Quebecois at the end of the Duplessis era. They are ignoring the Church at a higher rate than even other Canadians. And the Church for the rest of us isn't so healthy either.

We who are somewhat (or perhaps much) better off as far as our parish situations go must not be complacent. The Church that Christ left us which is to last for all time will not necessarily last everywhere for all time. Ephesus, the place where tradition tell us the Blessed Virgin ended her earthly existence, does not have a Christian community to speak of at present time. Check out the present condition of the Church in many of the places mentioned in the New Testament. Not pretty.

My family was recently in Bosnia and Herzogovina, a place where Christianity was first introduced by St. Timothy, the same one mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles. One priest we met there said it was the last generation for the Catholic Church in this area. This would be the same Church St. Timothy taught.

We must all realize that the Church is bigger than the weak, sinful humans who work and worship in it. Duplessis may not have had his head on quite right with regards to how his government worked with the Church, and whichever clerics cooperated in what went on were obviously not representing the Church to the people the way they should have. They will have a lot to answer for, I'm sure.

You know that a Church has really fallen when you see ciboria (cups, usually golden, which hold the hosts, the Body of Christ, in the Catholic Mass) in antique stores and flea markets. There is so much of this consecrated material in such places that to purchase it and return it to parishes which are still vital would by impractical, if not impossible.

God Bless

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Madonna House (part 2)

I'm back!

From the lakeshore, we went to the chapel and vespers (Evening Prayer). My friend had suggested I take one of the few seats around the chapel's edge. She would sit with most of the residents on the floor.

I had only seen the chapel before when it was empty. Now, it was very full of life. I was handed a binder and psalm-book as I went in and found a seat. I would have had great difficulty getting myself up and down from sitting on the floor!

As my friend had warned me that she would not be sitting with me, she jokingly added that I'd better not embarrass her. About the first thing I did when getting settled was to drop my psalm book on the wooden floor!

The chapel is lovely. There is an iconostasis at the front of the chapel behind the altar. The glimmer of the sanctuary lamp can be seen only dimly from where we are. Icons of the apostles line the wall above the iconostasis. There are also icons of The Blessed Virgin and Jesus, of course.

I see a series of brass bells hanging from a T-shaped pole near the altar. I assume these bells would be rung at the Consecration during a Mass.

The ceiling of the chapel is a mesh of wooden beams rising to the point of the roof. Everything seemed to gleam. This chapel was well loved and well cared for. The wood was heavily varnished and spotless.

Vespers were a treat. There were no instruments but the human voice. Psalms were all chanted in what seemed to be perfect four part harmony. It was truly lovely. The chants were simple enough for me to follow, even with this being my first time here. The woman I sat beside actually commented that I must have been here before. When I said I had not, she said "Well you must be a musician then!" I 'fessed up. I do love being able to sight read music!

After vespers, everyone trooped over to the main house for dinner. I kept on the jacket I had put over my rather bare shoulders when we were in the chapel.

We were seated at a table set for 6 people. There were two priests already seated and they stood up as my friend andI came to sit down. We were later joined by the woman I'd chatted with in the chapel and another woman.

Conversation was pleasant. I was jokingly chastised for not being up on my GK Chesterton readings. We spoke a little about Beloc. It turned out that one of the priests and the woman from the chapel had spent a good deal of time in a couple of MH missions in York, England and in Russia respectively. Having been to Europe myself for the first time last year. We shared a lot of our observations.

The meal was simple but very good. We had cold roast beef, new potatoes, carrots, zucchini salad with a cold strawberry and walnut pudding for desert. I am told that meat is only eaten on Sundays here. After dinner we had tea.

Conversation was a big part of this time for all the diners it seemed. Everyone seemed very relaxed and happy.

By the time dessert was served, I was beginning to melt. There were no bare shoulders in the room so I didn't take off my jacket...

After dinner, the Rosary was recited. Although it began and ended in English, the three 'inside' decades were in French, an African language, and Russian.

After the Rosary, good-byes and thank-yous were exchanged and we went on our way to return home.

It was a lovely relaxing day. I do hope to be able to do it again and perhaps bring other friends. My friend has a list...

God Bless

Monday, July 31, 2006

Madonna House (part 1)


I had the opportunity to visit with a friend, what can really only be described as a commune called Madonna House

Madonna House consists of men and women, including a number of priests, who live prayerful lives together as celibates. They grow their own food, including eggs,meat, milk and cheese according to principles (which as I read them sound like organic farming!) laid down by their foundress, Catherine de Hueck Doherty. They also sell books and donated items to raise money for their own missions.

Catherine's cause for sainthood is being examined and promoted by those in Madonna House, and others.

MH is also a Catholic community.

There are many MH communities throughout North America and around the world, but the first one was the one I saw yesterday.

I had been here before, but I only saw what visitors usually see. A quick tour of the main house, the museum, the bookstore and the used goods store. Yesterday was a treat as I went with a friend who had spent a year there. I got to see some areas not usually seen by visitors.

First, we drove out to the farm. As we droved I realized that MH covered a lot more territory than I'd realized, even though I"ve been there on at least two other occasions.

We were given a tour of the farm. I patted horses for the first time in years. I saw their Ayreshire and Holstein dairy cattle. I saw the sheep and their 'guard llama' named Dudley.

One wonders if the name 'Dudley Llama' was one of several puns I caught as we toured the various farm buildings. The buildings are named for various saints. The farm buildings definitely show a sense of humour. The walk in freezer was called St. Isadore (try saying that with a long 'I'). The hay barn was called St. Timothy. St. Lawrence O'toole I need to tell you? I even noticed an icon of the Transfiguration in the cheese making room of the dairy. I didn't have the nerve to ask if it was a commentary on what happened to the milk.

Farming techniques are really only recently starting to be mechanized. Scythes are still used to cut long grass and hay. Hay tongs still hung in the barn. The foundress believed that by employing simple, non-mehanized techniques, the people would be prepared for any conditions they may encounter as they were sent on missions.

The little chapel on the farm was lovely. The altar was handmade by residents of MH. I suspect the cover on the Tabernacle was also a local creation. Icons were seen almost everywhere and reflect the strong influence the Eastern Rite of the Catholic Church had on Catherine Doherty, who was born in Russia.

We went back toward the main house before the peanut butter cookies, being baked by one of the farm residents, were ready. My friend had an appointment. On the way, we picked up another friend of hers and I got a tantalizing and brief look at the archives for MH. In a community where toilet facilities do not include running water (although they are immaculate), the archives had climate control, and alarm system, and a very professional and up-to-date looking set of mobile shelving.

A book that caught my interest in the computer room was called "The Mass of the Future". It was copywritten in 1947! I would love to get a chance to read it!

After dropping the friend off at the staff house, which is a school converted to dormitories, we proceeded to my friends appointment. While she went in, I was to sit at the lakeside in one of the wooden chairs (I avoided the Muskoka chairs as I wasn't sure I'd be able to climb out of them!) under the shade of several trees. I had been given a copy of "Apostolic Farming" by Catherine Doherty as I said good-bye to those we met at the farm. I proceeded to read the little book and enjoy the coolness of the breeze.

I knew from experience that MH residents are very quick to notice visitors. They guard their privacy carefully and visitors paths are guided. I had been coached by my friend as to what to say if anyone approached me in her absence.

Well, the hour passed, and the only notice anyone appeared to take in me was an elderly lady who walked by and waved in my direction...and kept going.

At this point, I'd better leave off for now and put my family to bed. I will finish this tomorrow!

God Bless

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Redemptive Suffering

Hello again;

Perhaps it's because of a phase of life I find myself in, but the Church's teaching on redemptive suffering is coming to mind a lot lately.

Although I know I've had the symptoms for some time, it has been within the past two weeks that I've had a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia. As I understand it, this is not degenerative, but it will come and go, posing some challenges to daily existance as it does so.

In the past, I have met Christians of the Protestant variety who seem to believe that if one is truly saved, truly redeemed and truly believes in Jesus and His healing power, one will not suffer physical pain or illness.

This is not a scriptural notion. It is certainly not the teaching of the Catholic Church.

We are a fallen people. We have all sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. Because of sin, our own and those of our first parents, Adam and Eve, we are subject to such inconveniences as illness.

Catholics believe that illness can be put to work for our own good and the good of others. We call this redemptive suffering.

St. Paul tells us that he dealt with a chronic condition. Scripture tells us that Timothy did, too. Surely if simple faith in Jesus' ability to heal were sufficient to effect a cure, these Godly men would have been the first beneficiaries of such a miracle. They weren't, yet Jairus' daughter, who may not have ever heard of Jesus, was brought back from the dead...because of her father's faith.

When we are suffering in some way (and it does not have to be an illness of body, or even physical pain. Mental pain will do, too) we can "offer it up". We can add it to the suffering Jesus endured on the cross. Why would we do this? Well, St. Paul says in Colossians "Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church".

This can be seen as a very bold statement, but there it is. How is it that Christ's sacrifice is somehow incomplete?

As I understand it, this lack of completion is due to the ongoing nature of Christ's sacrifice. I mentioned in an earlier post the difference between Kairos time and Chronos time. Chronos time is what we know so well; Time that goes in a straight line and does not repeat. Kairos time is God's time. He can see all of past present and future at once. So Jesus is suffering now, in the same sacrifice He made over 2000 years ago. We join with His sacrifice when we offer Him the use of our afflictions.

This can be to various effects. Pain may be offered in reparation for ones own sin. It can be offered for someone one knows. It may be offered for the general 'pool' of redemptive sacrifice and therefore benefit someone in Purgatory or someone not yet born. How suffering is used is up to God (although I suppose he may take suggestions!). Only occasionally does God reveal the use of a particular person's pain.

Knowing that our pain may have a role in someone's salvation does make it possible to rejoice in our suffering, however major or minor it may be.

God, I ask you to give me the grace to bear my discomfort with dignity and joy. When it is your will that this pain be taken from me, give me the wisdom never to forget what it meant!

God Bless

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Hello again!

My husband and I were out with our two youngest children last evening. We were picking wild blueberries.

Imagine! In the 21st century, is is still possible to get food for free. And organic food at that.

The blueberries are abundant this year. I have been told of a woman who over two days has picked 25 quarts of them!

Things such as this are a gift of God. We do nothing to prepare gifts like this. They are just given to us. All we need to do is to find them.

I do not think most people are aware of Divine Providence. What is it?

Divine Providence is how God cares for us. If we let Him.

I have a good friend who made the decision (in conjunction with his wife!) at his marriage, to keep the family God would give him entirely on Divine Providence. He and his wife would later consecrate their family to Our Lady of Guadalupe.

What did this mean? It meant that the couple and later their family would rely totally on God for their needs. Imagine! No salary. No regular income.

Could you do it?

I do not think everyone is called to this kind of radical faith, but I think we can be awed by this sort of trust. We might even be rather impressed by how well it worked! My friend's wife died a few years ago and I did not meet her. I have heard many a tale of their life together.

This family had a music ministry. They travelled quite widely within Canada and even internationally, as a family and as a couple after the family was grown.

A large part of this sort of trust in God's providence is humility. God works through other people. Peoples' kindness and generosity, and the family's own creativity is how the family raised four faith filled children. But the family had to be willing to accept the gifts they were given, or to rely on their own talents to 'barter' for something they needed. How many are too proud, even when they are in need only temporarily, to ask for or accept help?

How does this differ from a sort of unofficial welfare?

As I see it, the basic difference is that this is a consecrated lifestyle. The couple made the decision after much prayer and spiritual direction. It was not done to enable a slotheful lifestyle. One way of looking at it is that it was partly done to allow others to do God's work.

Was it entirely easy? From what I hear, there were more than few difficult times. The key was trust and prayer. They had what they needed.

Those of us who do not feel we are called to this rather radical sort of trust also need to examine our lives. Are we certain we are not being called to this sort of example? If we are sure it is not for us, how can we train ourselves to rely on Divine Providence in our own 'ordinary' lives?

There are many ways to do this. First make sure you are 'prayed up' as some Protestant friends of mine would say. Stay in touch with your Father...and your Mother, Mary. She knows all about trust, as she relied on God to get her through what was, after all, the very unusual situation of her pregnancy by a Heavenly Father. She also knew about the practical bits of running a household on very little.

Look at your lifestyle. Are you working as much or more for 'wants' rather than 'needs'? Perhaps your children would rather have your time to play a game at home than the skating lesson you work extra time to pay for. Are you trusting God with your fertility, allowing to be born the children He thinks you should have? If you are part of a couple which has decided at some point to permanently end your fertility, are you being called to reverse this? Or can you make some other sort of reparation, such as assisting a large family in some way? Adopting a child? When you have a decision to make, do you even call on God for input?

If you are a single person, are you collecting things you can't 'take with you' when you die? Is there time and money you could spend on a worthy cause rather than on collecting the latest gadget or trendiest wardrobe item?

So how did I get here from picking blueberries? Free material gifts, like food, are from God, whether we go and find them in the woods or someone gives them to us. It's something to remember.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Politics and Abuse

Hi Folks

It is a surprise to few, I can imagine, that 'church' and 'politics' often appear together.

I have never belonged to a parish that did not have 'politics'. I have often wondered why...even as I frequently found myself in the middle of the fray.

As Christians...I think any Christian, not just a Catholic Christian, we are to seek holiness. We do this by imitating Christ to the best of our abilities.

I suppose part of the issue is that we all have different abilities! Also, we do not have the benefit of Divine Nature...we've only been given a human one.

People all have their own ideas of how things should go. How should the Mass look? What should the music sound like? What does the choir wear? The altar servers? Boys? Girls? Albs? Cassocks? What should we serve after Mass? Do we serve anything? What do we do with children during Mass?

And so we begin the politics. Someone figures he or she has the ear of the pastor. Or perhaps one just figures they can influence the pastor in a preferred direction. A strong willed soul starts speaking for a group (often not enumerated!) it "WE want this...WE don't like that". Who are we?

Perhaps the busy people in the parish become clickish and don't really invite others to enter their ranks. Perhaps a particular minister is unnapproachable and kind of runs his or her own show.

I have a fantasy of a parish led by a strong, confident priest with lots of energy and lots of time on his hands (remember, I did say this was a fantasy) who can see that all the workers in the parish are trained in the philosophy of ministry, and then well trained in their particular ministry. Further in this fantasy are workers who wish to learn, and who respect authority....SCREECH!

Okay, perhaps I"m delusional. Authority? What authority?

Now we get into the area of abuses...

One of the wonderful things about the Catholic Church, particularly those of us who thrive on active parish work, is that we have authority to fall back on. The way I see it, the Vatican writes documents, the Bishops read them, adapt what they are permitted to adapt, pass the info on to the priests, who use this information and pass relevent parts on to the lay ministry. No, I"m not really delusional...really.

Here's the reality check...I've never seen this happen as it should. Currently, I volunteer in a small parish in a military 'diocese'. This diocese has somehow managed to entrench many practices which are not in accord with the expressed guidelines from on high. Wow. Talk of politics!

When you have members of such a diocese who educate themselves in writings from Rome, or even writings from the national group of Bishops (who, unfortunately are not always to be relied upon to enforce what Rome requires) in such a diocese or parish, you have a recipe for much anguish.

I am one who firmly believes that if there is any possible way to follow Vatican mandates, they should be followed. In a military environment, occasionally some things are not possible. But is a parish in a small city really a military environment? It's not "in theatre" or "in the field" even if we are affiliated with the military. So do the rubber rules given to the military really apply?

When once I enumerated some of the odd practices of our parish to an email group, I got a reply from someone in Boston who said even in her notorious city, what I related sounded very bad.

I have been accused at times of trying to push my 'opinion'. I will state categorically that my opinion, when it comes to Vatican mandates, does not matter. Neither does a given priest's opinion. This relieves us of much responsibility. We are told how things should be. All we need to do is to make it happen.

It is unfortunate, (now, this IS my opinion) that in liturgy, we don't have too many binding documents. This leaves a lot of room for creativity...and strife.

I suspect that under Pope Benedict XVI we will be given a little more guidance. Currently, the Pope is making his taste in liturgical music known. Some of us are cheering. But it's pretty hard to reverse 40 years of musical freedom. I"m not sure if it can even be reigned in. As much as I'd love to be singing it, I cannot envision a Mass in our parish being chanted in the Gregorian fashion. Understand please, I am not calling for a Tridentine (from the Council of Trent...priest facing the same way as the people) Mass. The current Mass done in a reverent fashion is wonderful too.

How many know that we laypeople are supposed to be able to recite or chant the Ordinary of the Mass (those parts which are the same from week to week) in Latin? Where do I get this information? From the Vatican II document Sacrosanctum Concilium! Yes, folks...Vatican 2.

Yet I grew up being told that Latin was forbidden in the diocese in which I lived.

People are people and where two or more get together, opinions will be in the midst. So where is room for Jesus, who promises to be there?

But I am absolutely certain that by following the instructions we do have, we are submitting to an authority, the Church, which is a good thing. We will also have a lot fewer arguments.

So, hierarchy, how about helping the laity out with this?

God Bless

Monday, July 10, 2006

Lectio Divina


Over the past few weeks, the seminarian who is working in our chapel this summer has started and leads us in what is called Lectio Divina.

All of us involved at the beginning were unfamiliar with LD, other than the name. I am under the impression that there may be other forms of it, but here I will tell you what we do.

Lectio Divina means "divine reading". A thumbnail of the technique would be to say that we s-l-o-w things down, in particular scripture reading, and repeat it s-l-o-w-l-y a few times, and then meditate and contemplate. This was a common practice among the Desert Fathers, I am told.

I have a terrible time slowing and quieting my mind. Three things I MUST not do before bed if I wish to have a good sleep are to have a fight with someone, drink coffee, read liturgy books (no, I'm not kidding). I'm told by a friend that I have a mind like a terrier. Once it clamps on to something, it doesn't let it go.

So, I thought LD would be difficult for me on that count.

Five of us, including the seminarian, were at the first meeting. We had already been sent a teaching on LD so we would have an idea how we would proceed. We were also instructed that the Gospel reading for the following Sunday would be used as the scripture reading.

The teaching laid out the plan: Scripture would be read slowly three times by one person. Then there would be a meditation. This took the form of a reading about the passage by a well-known writer. This was also read at about half the speed one would normally read aloud. The next division was to pray. Then we contemplate.

For the purposes of group LD, one person had a watch. A quiet bell was rung when we changed 'modes' at 10 minute intervals.

This is how it worked out. We met and the two of us who would be reading aloud were assigned our reading. We started with five minutes of silence. We then recited the Lord's Prayer at a pace to match breathing. After this, we begin.

All is utterly silent except for the reader and the bell (or drinking glass and teaspoon, as in our case!).

I discovered that is is rather difficult to read aloud at half speed! Try it sometime.

During the 10 minute 'prayer' segment, we try to "hear" God speak to our hearts as we think about the Gospel we have just heard. We may also feel called to share the prayer aloud. During the contemplation segment, we think about God. Some get some rather suprising insights at this time.

When one is very familiar with Scripture, one may also have other pertinent scripture readings come to mind. One may just say the number of the reading aloud (assuming you can find the reading when you want it!) and the others may look it up and read it to themselves.

After this is all over, we usually sit around for a few minutes in a stupour and as we 'wake up' (no one has ever fallen asleep...really) we discuss what may have happened. Questions about the procedure may be asked.

I was surprised at how easily I could quiet my mind the first time. I did find, however, that toward the end of the 40 minutes I kept having to reign my mind back in as it started to plan the following day.

It's been a little more difficult since. I do not do it daily on my own, which might help.

Praying LD on ones own allows a little more flexibility. The seminarian says he tends to skip the 2nd and 3rd step and goes straight to contemplation. Each segment can be as long or short as one wishes.

I'm not sure how we'll keep this up after 'our' seminarian leaves. I do hope someone takes it over!

God Bless

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Good Afternoon

I had the pleasure of sharing my morning with three young people of my aquaintance. We met for Morning Prayer (part of the Liturgy of the Hours) and then went for breakfast at a local restaurant.

One of these people is a young man who entered the Church this year. The mastermind, as I understood it anyway, was another young man who is currently studying to be a priest. The third is a young woman who is in university.

It is always a joy to share faith stories with people. To see young people so focussed and themselves joy-filled is 'over the top'.

I have to add here that two of these people are less than half my age. I am forced to think of where I was at their ages. I am impressed by all of them.

Praying the Liturgy of the Hours is pretty much second nature to all of us. The Second Vatican Council strongly encouraged lay people to take up this practice. It is slowly growing, but still rather scarce among the laity. Clergy and those in consecrated life are required to pray at least some of the hours by virtue of their vocation.

I"m not sure I'd even HEARD of the LOH when I was in my 20s! So it was very neat to just sit and pray together. We were, literally, all on the same page!

Do not be put off by stories of empty seminaries and bad behaviour in the Church.

Bad things do happen...everywhere. I agree that the Church should be held to a higher standard, but it's still made up of sinners. This can include spectacular sinners.

But the seminaries and convents in faithful dioceses are starting to fill up again. Many are already full to over-flowing. Now that the bad stuff has been brought to light, it can be dealt with, and is being dealt with.

The Church has gone through and survived bad spells in the past. These times tend to produce great Saints.

I'd say the future is bright.

The future is bright.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Over the past few days, there have been several articles having to do with liturgy which have come to my attention.

These articles are coming from high places. People like the Pope and his assistants are spending a lot of time thinking about the fundamentals of liturgy.

The 'forbidden' word Latin has been mentioned a few times. One article reminded us that Sacrosanctum Concilium (SC) did not call for a total abandonment of Latin. In fact, while mentioning that the vernacular language may be used, it tells us that all Catholics should know the Ordinary (Parts of the Mass, such as the Gloria and the Holy Holy) and common prayers in Latin.

I remember the day I first read this part of SC. It was almost like a blow. As a teen in the Archdiocese of Vancouver, I was told that the Archbishop had banned the use of Latin. I do not wish to speak ill of the dead. In truth I do not know if Archbishop Carney actually said that. It didn't matter. No Latin was ever used.

I had studied Latin for a couple of years in a Catholic school. It did not frighten me, as it seems to do to others. I wanted to hear it in Mass. I can't tell you why. I'd never heard it before!

It was through the miracle of the internet that I met a woman (Hi B!) who started to teach me about REAL liturgy...and it was through her, indirectly, that I began to read CS.

Some of my friends thought this woman had created a monster. Perhaps she did. My hunger for good liturgy often overrode my good manners. I began to learn, to teach (whether people wanted to hear it or not) and to demand liturgy as the Church REALLY teaches it.

I am originally a music minister although I am currently only loosely associated with a choir. It never really leaves you, though. So the other article that is foremost in my mind caught my interest.

Pope Benedict has reinstated a music director in Rome who was removed from his position during the time of Pope John Paul II. This music director is very much of the traditional school of Catholic Music. Latin again...polyphony...chant.

So are we going to finally get some rules with regard to liturgical music? One can surely hope. One of my larger 'thorns' with regards to liturgical (or pseudo-liturgical) music is that so much of the published vernacular music is just not very good. There is so much of praising the created (us!) rather than the creator. So much is not singable by your average pew-sitter.

A little tangent here. One of the liturgical mantras is 'participation'. The entire congregation should sing. But much music is too high, too complicated, or changed too frequently. To be fair, much classical liturgical music is not singable by the congregation at large. So where does this leave us?

I think current liturgical thought should re-evaluate the idea that everyone should sing everything. Okay, they don't really say that, but it is surely implied! Some music can legitimately be a 'shut-up and listen' piece. (I borrowed that phrase from someone on an email list I belong to. Sorry, don't remember whom.)

As it stands now, a whole lot of new vernacular music for the Ordinary of the Mass is going to have to be written or adapted to accomodate changes in the Sacramentary. Even if an existing piece can be adapted, will the setting (tune) suit the newly reverent words? Of course those fortunate enough to still be familiar with Latin settings will likely find their learning curve much less steep!

Gloria tibi Domino!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Blessed Burnout

Hi Folks

Today I'm setting out on a little mental ramble around ministry, committment, and burnout.

It's that time of the year. People are looking at what sort of responsibilities they want to place on themselves or divest themselves of for the coming year.

At least that's how it is in a parish.

Our parish is small and highly mobile. Every Fall there is a scramble to fill those last remaining vacancies in ministry positions which weren't filled in the Spring when people who had held them started to move away.

And every year there are the guilty feelings that come when you realize that there are some people you only WISH would move away. But that's another thing entirely.

So often within a parish (and I can't think of a single one, in my experience, which has been different) many jobs fall on few shoulders.

Some people are just better at assessing their own circumstances and knowing when to say 'no'. Some people just don't wish to be involved...sigh.

And some people just love what they do so much that it overwhelms them and they say yes to everything and everyone...sigh.

Some people might be able to handle this. Retired people...single people...sometimes. But most of us cannot although we may try!

It is so hard to say 'no' to a good cause.

But even work for Christ will be too much if it's not where God really wants you to be. If it IS where God wants you to be, He'll give you what you need to make it happen. Maybe superhuman strength and endurance. Maybe great delegating skills. It's His call.

Discernment is something many of us are not very good at. Discernment is the ability (in this context anyway) to decide with God's guidance, which step we are to take next.

If that should sound easy, I assure you it is not. How do you know when God has spoken? You don't, ultimately. You may actually 'hear' a voice. You may 'feel' an answer. Someone may come to you with a proposition that just screams out that it's your answer. Your answer may come in the form of spiritual direction. You may not feel or experience anything at all. God might just be leaving the decision entirely to you.

If things seem to work out fairly well, that might be confirmation you've made the correct choice. But having things become difficult can be a sign you're on the right path too...If a parish has been used to doing something incorrectly for a long time, there WILL be resistance to change, even if that change is, ultimately, good. If you are following Church directions, you are almost certainly on the right track.

One thing I have seen happen is when things always seem to go VERY well, all the time. This can be a sign that something is very wrong. Fulton Sheen, quoting someone named Finney Peter Dunne said that religion should "comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable". If that be the case, it would seem that someone will always be in some amount of distress on account of ones efforts in ministry.

It's dealing with this that can contribute to burnout.

A wise priest I once knew told me, shortly after I began my liturgy studies, that as I was learning, I would seek change...and that I would encounter resistance. He was surely correct on both accounts. At times I even challenged him, respectfully of course.

Sometimes, at this time of the year, the wisest thing for a person to do is to take time off...This gives one a chance to rest and review ones accomplishments. It also gives others a chance to develop and hone their skills as they replace you.

One of the hardest things to do is to watch something you've worked hard to accomplish fade away, because no one, or maybe no one with your particular skill set, steps in to fill a leadership void.

Ah, humility. Things come and go. God alone is eternal. Our efforts will not last forever. Sometimes they don't even last a year.

Such is life in ministry in a highly mobile parish. Discern your call anyway!

God Bless