spirituality

A 7QT?!? I’m as shocked as you are.

Seven Quick Takes: Bits of Blogging Linkup with Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum

Bits o’blogging with a bunch of other bloggers, hosted by Kelly over at This Ain’t the Lyceum.

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March for Life: I’ve Lost Control Again: The only reason I have time to do this today is because my grade schooler is going to take a sick day (stomach discomfort and a purple-red sore throat… I see a strep culture in her very near future) and my teenagers are on a bus to the March for Life.

Why am I not going? Because I can’t find a bus willing to take me.  I have a life-threatening allergy to peanut proteins, so bad that I have ended up in the ER because someone ate peanuts around me.  Now, since I’ve started taking olive leaf extract, I’ve not had that kind of reaction, but I’m sort of gun shy about getting on a bus on a Friday full of faithful Catholics opting for the PB&J over ham sandwiches, it being Friday and all, and finding out that the OLE decided to stop working, but the only way to get me to an ER is to pull over on a jammed I-95 and hope an ambulance can get through, oh, and who’s gonna take care of my kids while I’m being whisked away?

Anyway, every group I’ve contacted about their bus said there’s no way they can ask people to avoid bringing peanuts, so I’m too much of a liability.  No MFL for me.  But the parish youth group is going, so our teens could go if they wanted to.

They wanted to.

I used to work and volunteer in youth ministry.  I now have kids of my own who are at an age to be involved in the youth ministry.  The other people’s kids I worked with in the ’90s-Y2K are now grown ups… and very, very few of them still practice the faith.

My eyes are open enough to know that where my teens are now may not be where they end up.

Oh, that’s hard.  Oh, that hurts.  It hurts enough when it is other people’s kids.  I don’t care if they don’t agree with me.  I do care if they think they’re escaping the suffering of this world by running into hell.  It’s like Ian wrote in “Decades”:

Joy Division, Hell, Crosses, and Letting Our Kids Go, by Erin McCole Cupp #7qt

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Where are the young men, the weight on their shoulders?Where are the young men, oh where have they been?
They knocked on the door of hell’s darker chambers.
Pushed to the limit, they dragged themselves in.        

Rather than just keep carrying the weight on our shoulders, asking God questions about it, hoping that if we just hold on, He’ll comfort us beyond our deepest imaginings… we ask to be let into hell.  In our hurt and fear, we trust instead that hell must be better than whatever pain we face now.

This has been breaking my heart a lot of late.  I can’t go into why without telling other people’s stories, stories not mine to tell. I have my own story to tell, of course, but that’s what this blog and my books are for.

But today my kids are Marching for Life.  I say that and then warn myself, “Today is not the end of the story.”  I think of my youth ministry kids, knocking on hell’s door. God, however, the God of all consolation, reminds me that today is not the end of their story, either.

None of them were ever “my” kids, anyway.  They were and remain His.  So I let them go, because that is Truth, and God is WHO AM. In other words, He is not fear. He is not lies.  He is not humans possessing other humans.  He is not control.

He is reality.  Sometimes reality hurts, but I’ll take reality over lies any old day.

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an-open-book

Open Book: Aaaaaand on that cheery note, I initially started this post to let anyone led back here from 7QT/TATL that the best kept linkup secret in the world of Catholic readers of books is Carolyn’s 1st Wednesday Open Book linkup.

It’s a really supportive community of Catholic book bloggers who are on the cutting edge of what’s going on with the present-day Catholic literary scene.  If you haven’t checked it out already, you really should.  Carolyn is a gracious host, and while, yes, Open Book has added to my already sky-high TBR pile, it’s also helped me weed out some stuff that I otherwise would’ve wasted time reading.

It’s not just Catholic books, either.  Admittedly, my time constraints limit my contribution to whatever we’re doing for that month’s Sabbath Rest Book Talk.  Still, several of the linkers blog what the whole family is reading, including the kids, and that’s where I’ve gotten some of the best-loved readalouds for my once-struggling reader.  She’s less-struggling now, in part due to the great recs from Open Book bloggers.

Seriously.  Make with the clicky.

Oh, and if you want links to watch each Sabbath Rest Book Talk as it happens emailed directly to you inbox, I have a handy SRBT reminder sign up here.

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Les Mis: Last year we took the kids to see a high school performance of Les Miserables.  I love that show.  My grade schooler loves it, now, too.  At one point she wanted to have a Les Mis themed birthday party, which led to much hilarity (Let’s play Build the Barricade! No birthday cake, though.  You’ll have to break a windowpane to steal a loaf of bread, then go fetch water from the well all alone in the dark….)

I like to play music via YouTube when I do my morning chores, but I got sick of putting on Les Mis only to turn away from the dishes to find all three kids clustered around my phone screen instead of doing their chores.  So this week we borrowed the Les Miserable 10th Anniversary Dream Cast DVD from the library and had “dinner theatre” on Wednesday night (eating dinner in front of the TV).  It was fun!

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Stained Glass Cookies for Story of Civilization #homeschool #history #medievalStory of Civilization & stained glass cookies: I think I’ve blogged here however briefly about how much we love TAN Books’ Story of Civilization.  We’re on Volume 2, The Medieval World.  Truth be told, I’m not finding it as strong a program as Volume 1, The Ancient World, so I’m filling in a lot of the gaps with stuff I pull off of Pinterest.  Yesterday we made Stained Glass Cookies for our study of medieval architecture.  It was fun, and they were pretty tasty.  For the “glass,” I didn’t have any Jolly Ranchers in the house, so we made microwave glass candy the day before.

If you want to see more pics of what we do with SOC (and more pics of our ridiculous dogs), I post them on Instagram far more faithfully than I get them here.

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Duolingo: I’m dusting of my French.  Anybody want to join a French club? I ended up being “LaMereDeLe” on there, because apparently if you try to call yourself “La Mere de Les Jumelles,” it cuts you off.  Cheese-eating surrender monkeys.  Anyway, I could use other people with whom to practice, in preparation for…

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Pilgrimage: This year, God willing, we will be making a Marian pilgrimage as a family, with stops at Walsingham, Lourdes, and Knock.  I understand that Haut-Pyrenees/Provence are not like Paris, where, not only is the dialect different, but if you ask someone if they speak English, it’s all, “Non, non, je ne comprends,” but if you start out speaking in French, suddenly it’s all, “Ah! I speeek Eeeeenglish. Your, ehn, accent eeez not baaat.”  I speak from experience here.  Still, for my own mental joy, I’d really like to be able to talk to the car rental guy, the housing hosts, the server, etc., without them being annoyed by more ignorant Americans.

Anyway, pray for us, please? Meanwhile, if you have any prayer requests for us to carry with us, we will be setting up something more organized for collecting them, but go ahead an comment below while you wait.

eBook: Get Moving With the Nine Ways of Prayer of St. Dominic

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Get Moving is almost ready!  And here’s a little sneak preview of the cover!  The draft is on the editor’s desk as we speak.  You’ll get the finished product for free if you subscribe to my newsletter, but if you don’t want that annoyance, it’ll just be 99c on Amazon.

Okay, I’ve taken even more time than I planned.  Sick kid is still abed, but my usual dog walkers are on a bus, dressed in layers, heading for DC.  Pray for them.  And me.  And all of us.

 

Seven Quick Takes: Bits of Blogging Linkup with Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum

Have 7 quick things to say? Have 7 not quick things to say? Blog ’em up and link ’em up at Kelly’s place!

*Image credit: Björn S. [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
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A Body in Prayer: A Guest Post by Neil Combs

Welcome, Tomato Pie Fans! I’m taking a hiatus from blogging to finish the sequel to DON’T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME. Meanwhile, I have a series of guest bloggers taking care of the place. Let’s meet today’s guest, Neil Combs.

Neil Combs

Why Write A Body in Prayer?

Prayer. What is it, really? Am I doing it right? Am I doing it enough? Do I pray with just my words, or can I pray through my actions? These were just some of the questions I was asking about 5 or 6 years ago. I was still a fairly new Catholic and I was struggling with prayer. I recalled the verses in the Bible that said “…pray always…” (Luke 18:1) and “…pray continually…” (1 Thes 5:16) but I could barely find the time to say a morning and night prayer. I did a lot of soul-searching at that time, but more importantly, I did a lot of information searching; books–The Catechism of the Catholic Church, CDs, and Scripture–to find out what I could about prayer.

What began as a personal quest for a better prayer life became something I never would have expected… a book. See, I wasn’t an author, I was just a pharmacist who had an idea and insights I wanted to share. I started by sharing it with a men’s group I belong to. They encouraged me to write it down, and a journal slowly became a book. As I shared more, I realized there were a lot more people like me who wanted a better prayer life but just didn’t know how to get there.

A Body in Prayer first defines prayer, and then it helps to identify and break down the common barriers to prayer, like the ever popular “I just don’t have enough time to pray!” But then it talks about the many different ways we can pray. You see, I always thought of prayer as talking to God, but in reality, it is so much more. It’s a conversation between two people in a relationship, and if you think of your own relationships, you know much can be said without a word being spoken. My wife has always said “actions speak louder than words,” and the same is true in prayer, maybe even more so, because God sees all our actions!

It was that realization, that by including Christ in all the daily activities of life, I could pray more and pray better. I could use my whole body to pray, by focusing everything I did (work, fasting, or appreciating a sunset) on God. Suddenly my actions could say more than my occasional words of prayer ever did.

A Body in Prayer challenges readers’ perception of prayer, yet is written in a light, conversational style. It uses ten chapters based on body parts – hands, eyes, mouth, even stomach – to give simple, real life examples of how we can use our bodies, and our actions, to pray and truly become A Body in Prayer!

BodyInPrayerCoverNeil Combs grew up as a Lutheran, but was confirmed into the Catholic faith, along with his children, in 2004.  A Pharmacist by profession, he was drawn to working with youth, and has been involved in the Youth Ministry program at St Le’s church in Hilton, NY, where he lives with his wife, Mary. He is also an active member of the Knights of Columbus. Learn more about A Body in Prayer on Facebook.

Eucharist: A Guest Post from Michael Seagriff

Welcome, Tomato Pie Fans! I’m taking a hiatus from blogging to finish the sequel to DON’T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME. Meanwhile, I have a series of guest bloggers taking care of the place. Let’s meet today’s guest, Mr. Michael Seagriff, OP!

What Is Impossible For One Man to Accomplish By Himself Becomes Entirely Possible With Your Help!

ND ChapelYOU HAVE GOT TO DO SOMETHING VITALLY IMPORTANT!

At the end of this post, I am going to ask you to help get the poignant reflection of Father Mark set forth below into the hands of every Bishop and priest in this country. We can do it!

But first I want to share a few thoughts that have long been embedded in my heart.

That which is most essential for our sanctification and salvation is that which we most frequently ignore  – The Eucharist.

The late Apostle of the Eucharist, Father John Hardon, S.J., realized “that everything, everything, EVERTHING of our faith (indeed the virtue of faith itself) depends on our faith in God being really present with us today in both His human and Divine nature, united in His Divine Person in the Holy Eucharist”.

The time for mincing words is over. Current polls, as well as what we observe with our own eyes, make it clear that a majority (an overwhelming majority of those identifying themselves as Catholic, perhaps as much as 80 percent, including 80 percent of those few Catholics who bother attending Sunday Mass) no longer believe that our Lord is really, truly and substantially present Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Blessed Sacrament. The sad but truthful reality is that in far too many of our churches we have lost the sense of the sacred and an appreciation for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass that are essential for fostering and maintaining a belief in the Real Presence.

“The sanctity of the Christian people,” Pope Pius X wrote, “depends in large measure on the holiness of their priests.”  Neither we nor our priests can ever be holy if we fail to make the Eucharist the center of our daily lives. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen so candidly observed: “The moral rot of the priesthood starts with a want of lively faith in the Divine Presence, and the sanctity of the priesthood starts there too.”

We do not need any more study groups or committees or commissions in the Catholic Church. All lukewarmness toward or outright opposition to the promotion of Eucharistic adoration and spirituality must cease. We need Bishops, priests religious and laypeople to get on their knees before their Eucharistic Lord. It is He, not any of them, Who will gift us with a deep, abiding, life-changing, sanctifying belief in His Real Human and Divine Presence here among us. Everything else we need or think we need individually or as Church will flow from Him.

Any notion that the answer to solving the myriad social and financial ills of our nation and world rests on political activity, social justice programs and governmental largesse must be jettisoned. The long-standing pattern of many Church leaders remaining deafeningly silent while increasing numbers of “self-proclaimed Catholics” publicly misrepresent what it means to be Catholic must change. The hesitancy and fear to clearly inform Catholics that they will lose their eternal souls if they persist in advocating, engaging in, supporting or voting for any one who supports such intrinsic evils as abortion, contraception, euthanasia, fetal stem cell research, human cloning, and homosexual marriage, has to end.

So what can we simple people do about all of this? Listen to the prophets among us. Among those voices resonating in the Church today is Father Mark whose love for our Eucharistic Lord and his brother priests know no bounds. His blog, Vultus Christi, is a must read for any one who loves God and wants to take His call to personal holiness seriously.

With the good Father’s indulgence, I am setting forth one of his reflections, one that I am asking everyone who may read this column to copy and give to your Bishops and priests – every Bishop and every priest in this country. Impractical and impossible goal, you say? You are right unless God wills it!

The simple man writing this blog entry is convinced that there is nothing of more value that any of us can do today than to pass the following reflection on as requested. Let everyone you know on Facebook, Twitter, Google+1, other social media, and all those who visit your blog know of this request. Add a link to this post to all the other blogs you visit. Let’s see God do the impossible because one humble priest has the courage to speak the truth and we simple people responded. God is counting on you!

Love’s Invisible Radiance

(By Father Mark – September 1, 2012 |

There are so many tabernacles on earth
where I am, for all intents and purposes,
like one buried, hidden, forgotten, and out of sight.
My divine radiance is diminished
because there are so few adorers
to act as the receptors of My radiant Eucharistic love
and to extend My radiance through space
and into the universe of souls.

Where there is faith in My real presence,
there will be adoration;
and where there is adoration,
there will also be an efficacious radiance of My presence
drawing souls to My Eucharistic Heart
and surrounding them, even at a distance,
with the healing influence of My Eucharistic Face.

In those places where I am exposed upon the altar
to receive the adoration, the reparation,
and the companionship of My friends
— and, first of all, of My priests —
My radiance is powerful and strong.
Faith, adoration, and love act as receptors;
thus is My power drawn out and made effective,
invisibly but really, in space and in time.
It was the same with My Sacred Humanity during My life on earth;
the faith and love of My friends
drew out the virtue of My Divinity,
and an invisible radiance acted in souls, and upon them,
bringing healing, holiness,
and many graces of conversion.

When I am adored in a place,
My hidden action upon souls is wonderfully increased.
The place where I am adored becomes a radiant centre
from which love, and life, and light
are diffused in a world in the grip of hatred,
and darkness, and death.

Chapels of adoration are not mere refuges for the devout.
They are the radiant, pulsating centres
of an intense divine activity
that goes beyond the walls of the place where I am adored
to penetrate homes, and schools, and hospitals;
to reach even those dark and cold places
wherein souls are enslaved to Satan;
to penetrate hearts, heal the infirm,
and call home those who have wandered far from Me.

For these reasons, the work of perpetual adoration,
or even of prolonged daily adoration,
is intensely apostolic and supernaturally efficacious.
Would that My bishops understood this!
But, alas, they put their trust in human schemes,
in plans devised by the worldly-wise,
and in programs drawn-up along shortsighted human principles.
And so they go, and they will continue to go
from failure to failure, and from disillusionment to disillusionment.

I have not set bishops over My flock
to govern, and to teach, and to sanctify, out of their personal abilities
and by making use of the wisdom of this passing world.
I have set them as lights upon a lampstand
to shine in every dark place,
and I have equipped them with supernatural gifts and divine power
to accomplish that for which I chose them
and set them over My Church.

Woe to those bishops
who trust in purely human solutions
to the problems that beset My Church.
They will be grievously disappointed,
and many souls will fall away
because they have neglected to take up
the supernatural weapons I have prepared for them
in this time of spiritual combat.

My presence in the Blessed Sacrament
preached, and confessed,
and surrounded by adoration, love, and heartfelt reparation
is the single greatest remedy for the evils that afflict My Church
and for the sorrows that weigh so heavily upon My priests.

My ways are not your ways,
nor do I act according to the principles of worldly success.
I act in the silent, humble, hidden reality of My Eucharistic presence.
Adore Me, and the radiance of My Eucharistic Face
will begin to change the face of the earth,
even as it heals My priests, calls sinners home to My Heart,
and enlivens the hearts of those grown weary and sad
(like the disciples on the road to Emmaus)
with a spark of divine vitality and with the fire of My Eucharistic love.

I speak to you in this way not only for you,
beloved friend of My Heart,
but also for those who will receive these words, ponder them,
and out of them draw the inspiration
to love Me more generously, more fruitfully, and more joyfully.
I speak to you for the sake of My priests.
You will be astonished at the reception given to these words of Mine.
Many souls of priests will be quickened and consoled by them.
Many priests will be moved to spend time
in the radiance of My Eucharistic Face,
and to abide close to My pierced Heart.
This is My desire for them.
I want to draw all My priests into the radiance of My Face
and, then, into the sanctuary of My open Heart.

(From In Sinu Iesu, The Journal of a Priest)

About Our Guest

MikeSeagriffHeadshotMichael Seagriff practiced law for 30 years, as a general practitioner,  prosecutor, criminal defense attorney and Administrative Law Judge. His vocation as a Lay Dominican created an insatiable desire to learn, study, live and share his Faith. He has authored  five books: Forgotten Truths To Set Faith Afire! – Words to Challenge, Inspire and Instruct, I Thirst For Your Love, Fleeting Glimpses of the Silly, Sentimental and Sublime, Pondering Tidbits of Truth (Volume 1) and Pondering Tidbits of Truth (Vol. 2). When not writing, pursing a newly discovered interest in photography, or spending time before the Blessed Sacrament, he enjoys experiencing the pleasures of this earthly life with his loving wife Lonnie, their three children, their spouses and four grandchildren.

He blogs at Harvesting the Fruits of Contemplation.

Interview with Working Mother Erica Goppold

Here at Tomato Pie, we’re celebrating the release of my biblical historical fiction ebook “Working Mother” by celebrating the working mothers among us.  Today is the feast of St. Basil the Great, patron saint of hospital administrators and other sorts who branched out into multiple fields based on where God wants him.  In honor of this day, let’s meet working mother Erica Goppold!

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Erica Goppold

Tell us a little bit about your family. 

We are a family of 3, including my husband, me, and our 9 year-old son, Matthew. We also have 2 small dogs and 3 fish. I am a degreed educator and registered nurse, my husband is an electrical engineer, and Matthew is a 4th grader at a Montessori school. We keep ourselves busy with Matthew’s nearly year-round travel baseball schedule, and love to travel to different amusement parks and beaches in our “free” time. My husband often travels for his work, so it is a lot of just Matthew and I during the week. It works for us, as we are all 3 used to it.

 

Imagine you’re at a dinner party.  Someone asks the question, “So, what do you do?”  What’s your answer?

Honestly, just as when I just read this question, I literally LOL. Simply put, I am an aide in an emotional/Autistic support classroom of our local elementary school. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you what I “do” or encounter in the course of a day. Some days I am run pretty ragged by the time I get my own darling off the school bus in the afternoon….AND I am not utilizing any of my 3 college degrees to do it!! I work as support staff for right now, so I do not have the extra responsibilities that come with a professional role. I get to walk out at 3:30 and be truly done with my work for the day. I need that at this point in family life.

 

How do you think God uses your job to help shape you into all He made you to be? 

I often am asked “how” or “why” I do the job I do. Why don’t I pursue the professional roles I have trained so hard for and work to maintain licensure in? I truly feel called to the school and job I am in. I landed in the position by chance, while I was not even looking for work (I know, some people would give their right arm for a job.) I took it, and the children just grew on me in a way I could have never imagined. I do not make a lot of money, but I can tell you the rewards are bountiful. I like to think I make a positive difference in the days of some of these children as well. I identify as more spiritual rather than religious, and I feel that something bigger than I can explain has put me where I am supposed to be right now.
What benefits (besides the economical) have you seen to your family that are a direct result of your work away from home? 

My son is diagnosed with Aspergers (high-funcitoning Autism) and ADHD. Through my job, I work alongside professionals in the fields of special education and various other areas of expertise, whom I learn volumes from. I take home many ideas in dealing with certain behaviors, goal-setting, driving motivation, etc. I feel empowered by what I learn and experience in a day and can apply at home. I also enjoy being surrounded by other individuals who care for and embrace these children. The love and acceptance they show, gives me hope in a sometimes harsh world that my son will be ok.
How do you balance any guilty feelings you might have in the tension between your workplace and your homespace? 

Mommy guilt is the worst kind of guilt. I miss out on volunteering in my son’s school during the day, which he reminds me of since I used to be there a lot before taking this job. Mostly, I just tell myself to shut up when it kicks in. I feel like no matter which path I choose as a mom, the guilt will find me in some way. I can be home and involved in his every move (he’s my only one–he would be hyper-focused upon), and what service does that do him? I can work, and maybe miss some school functions, but I am spreading my wings and being myself for several hours each day. The benefits outweigh the negativity for me.
What is one thing that you would ask the people in your life to do to support you more? 

I wish I had support in the sense that I have friends and family who like to comment on the fact that I work despite that fact that I “do not have to.” Admittedly, our pantry would still be well-stocked and our vehicles full of gas if I did not work. However, my choice to work is a personal one, and it certainly does not bring us any undo harm. That and “mommy wars” need to stop. The grass is always greener. Whether you choose to stay home or “lean in,” we are all equal as moms caring for our children. Let us embrace each other’s’ differences and choices.

 

Thank you, Erica!  

Are you a working mother?  So was (and is) the Blessed Mother!  If you enjoyed this interview and would like to celebrate working motherhood some more, please consider getting a copy of my $.99 historical fiction ebook, “Working Mother.”  

Review: Strange Gods

This book was an answer to prayer.  Rather, God provided an answer to prayer through it.  Strange Gods:  Unmasking the Idols in Everyday Life by Elizabeth “The Anchoress” Scalia is a book that I picked up at the Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show back in August. I was hesitant to crack it open at first because, well, I already know I have two idols that rule way too much of my life (those being food and social media, AKA the gods of comfort and ego).  I really dreaded going through the agony of finding yet more and having my nose rubbed in it, if you will.

No nose rubbing, people.  None.  It’s more like Elizabeth Scalia stepped out of the screen, put her arm around my shoulder and said, “God loves us both so much.  You keep turning away.  I keep turning away.  Let’s turn back towards Him together.”  The tone was always one of camaraderie, never of condescension.  The mood was one of hope in the face of the despair that is so easy to claim after repeated failings.

The timing of my reading even ended up being fortuitous.  I’m an abuse survivor, and I was going through (another) period of self-doubt of, “Am I doing the right thing, or should I just shut up and keep the peace so I can be a part of something again?”  It’s taken nearly twenty years to train my heart in the face of such thoughts to wait upon the guidance of the Lord to answer such questions.  You know what?  He always pulls through, usually within a day or two.  This time was no exception.  I really don’t want to spoil anything for readers, but I’ll just say that the answer to that question was in Chapter 9.

As scared as I was to read this the first time, that’s how eager I am to go back and read it again.  Most of the review copies I pick up at CMN get lent out to my friends after I’ve read them.  Strange Gods will not be one of those.  Go get your own!