Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Vatican II

Earlier, I mentioned I had read the Catechism of the Catholic Church as part of this Year of Faith.  That was enormously helpful and educational.  Since then, I have been reading The Documents of Vatican II With Notes and Comments by Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox Authorities.  It has also been very rewarding, even though I'm only a bit of the way through.

Vatican II has always been a bit of a puzzle to me.  Obviously I was not alive at the time, so everything I've heard has been filtered by others.  While that is true of most anything, people have had incredibly different viewpoints on this council.  Many of the people I've spoken to seem to think that it was a great modernization and liberalization of the church.  Some are happy and some are unhappy about that.

As I've researched it on my own, I've discovered that much of what I've heard has been exaggerated.  The Council documents don't seem to make sweeping changes to the dogma of the Church, at least when I read them.  Maybe I'm not smart enough?

It would appear that some people have taken various ideas and statements out of context or taken them too far away from what was probably intended.  I've read that elsewhere.  It doesn't surprise me.  We do that all the time!

So, long story short, if you have been afraid to study Vatican II, concerned over what you might find, don't be.  It is part of our history and you can only help yourself and your understanding by reading the documents.  I got this book because the reviewers accused it of being super liberal or super conservative, which were major complaints in some of the other versions.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

More on the Eucharist

A while back I posted a video on the Eucharist by Scott Hahn.  He spoke in that video about the fourth cup and its link to the sacrifice of Jesus.  Here's another video focusing on this same topic with more details about this fourth cup.

What are your favorite resources on the Eucharist?

Friday, August 16, 2013

Quick Takes

None today!  I was going to write them this morning, but this was in my crawl space!  It seems to have siblings down there, so if you need a kitten they are there for the picking!

If you are wondering why they need to be removed, my two dogs have noticed them.  I don't think they dislike cats in particular, but these do tend to look like moving chew toys...

Monday, August 12, 2013

Believing God

Some are tempted to believe God does not exist.  We have no purpose here on this planet.  We are no better than the animals.  These people may be tempted by science to conclude this, even though science cannot prove or disprove God's existence.  I would imagine if you're reading this blog you are not in this category.

So let's say you do believe in God - what's the next best thing we can be tempted with?  I'm not CS Lewis and this blog is no Screwtape Letters, but I have to think if we can't be tempted to disbelieve God's existence altogether, doubting bits and parts would be almost as good.  Surely He didn't mean that, or surely He didn't really to this.  These are just ancient rules or ancient myths - God exists but this all is just made up.  We know better than to believe all that, don't we?

Do we?  Do we know better than to doubt the Eternal Word?  Doubt the God who willed the universe into existence out of nothing?  How can we believe in such a God and yet maintain our own intelligence and reason is enough to grasp His breadth and His depth and His wisdom?  Reason is enough to understand God exists, but is it enough to understand God?

We trust the builders of bridges and houses and airplanes with our lives, even though we do not fully understand their craft.  Why would we not trust God with our lives?

Friday, August 9, 2013

7 Quick Takes: Randomness

Welcome, welcome to my random collection of thoughts for Friday!  I find this post the hardest to write each week because I never know what I'm going to say.

I'm writing a novel!  That's not news, really.  I've been working on it for years probably now.  I enjoy world-building and exploring all the options.  Sometimes I even write scenes.  This week I've been enjoying my new novel-writing aid - Scapple.  This program, along with Scrivener, are the reasons why I'd get multiple monitors to go with my laptop.   I want to draw over THERE!  And see what's over HERE!  CHART ALL THE THINGS!  Multiple monitors would limit me in every other way though, so I guess I'll settle for my single screen.

It has been raining here.  And raining.  And then raining some more.  I mean the type of rain that floods basements in houses that don't have basements level of raining.  This apparently has forced one of my dogs to reconsider her essential nature (dog) and conclude she will melt if she exits the deck while it is raining.  This makes the kitchen the safest place to poop by this logic.  Which she did.

Conversion Diary has already explained the awesomeness of the blog Mama Knows, Honeychild.  If you have not gone to the blog, you should head there now.  It is funny in a possibly pee your pants sort of way, and includes far more pictures than my blog does.  I'd like to point your attention to a particular post: I Hate You, Victoria's Secret.

You're welcome.

I'm having friends spend the weekend, which is odd since we most likely will be here at opposing times.  This would normally cause panic, but I've known them for seven years.  They'll be lucky if they get clean sheets.  Have you ever noticed that?  New friends get the best dinner, best napkins, and cheesecake at the end.  Then they come over again, and you switch to the other napkins and offer some ice cream.  After a few years, you're just like "Um, there's no food in the fridge.  If you want chips, help yourself.  Could you feed the dogs?"  At which point they might as well be family, which is just plain awesome.

I joined a local hiking meetup group.  I can't seem to schedule one of the initial easy hikes on my calendar, so the only ones that are left are 7-8 mile excursions into the middle of nowhere in a different state.  That isn't a disaster waiting to happen for an introvert and people she doesn't know...

CrossFit.  Yes, I said it.  I joined it.  I've been to a newbie class and two introduction classes.  I do have to say they are not the crazy cult most of us want them to be since we're kind of jealous of the results.  The instructors have been nice and very focused on good form.  All the rumors about it being hard are true though!  It is all scalable, but you feel encouraged to push yourself.  So I've come home sore each time.

It did not escape my notice that after posting entirely random movie videos last week, I was invited to put a good blog post up on New Evangelists Monthly.  That kind of thing must be what the internet is looking for!  So here is another random movie video of something I'd like to see.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Mysterious Priest Shows up at Car Crash

Read this.  Seriously.

The Hannibal Fire Department showed up right after that prayer with fresh equipment and was able to finish the extrication. After getting Katie safely into the Air Evac helicopter, at least a dozen of the rescue workers turned around to thank the priest who was no where in sight. The highway had been blocked for a quarter of a mile during the hour and a half rescue, leaving no bystanders and no parked cars nearby. Lentz' family and friends are amazed by the story.

Oh my legs!

I went for a walk the other night and could not stop thinking about how sore my legs were.  I'd gone to a newbie CrossFit class two days prior and my legs were still a little unhappy with me.  I spent several moments fixated on the sensation in my lower legs.

While that was on my mind, I wasn't doing a good job listening to my friend who was also walking with me.  I tried to focus on her for awhile, and then realized that we weren't paying much attention to the lightning in the distance.*  It was pretty.

I'm sure if the lightning had been closer and we could have heard and felt the loud booms of thunder, we would have been a lot more interested by the lightning.  But since it was far off, we almost ignored it, in spite of its beauty.

Right there on the walk it occurred to me that we do an AWFUL job focusing on anything but what is affecting us right now in this moment.  I'd rather focus on my leg, then my friend, then the incredible display a few miles away.  And oh how often I forget eternity!

Is eternity frequently on our minds?  It is quite literally the most important topic of our lives, shouldn't we think about it a little more often?  I find that it isn't frequently on my mind.  There are other things to do and to think about.  The only "cure" I've found is prayer.  Obviously eternity is on my mind when I pray, but daily prayer puts it on my mind a lot more often.

It seems like my exercise program.  I don't often think of exercise, even though I've identified it as a primary goal in my life.  I schedule exercise, such as this CrossFit class, so that I remember.  I go to class and definitely remember exercise there!  And then after I'm slightly sore which reminds me of exercise.

Eternity is more important than our fitness level, so I suggest we all schedule a little more time in prayer.  I would expect our hearts and minds would then spend a little less time in the here and now and a little more time dwelling on the thought of forever with God.

*Safety note: I am aware if one can see lightning it is more dangerous outside.  There is no excuse for my behavior!  But it did make for a blog post.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Catechism in the Year of Faith

This is the Year of Faith, which marks the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  One of the recommendations is to read the documents of the Council and to read the Catechism.  I have recently completed reading the Catechism.

Some fear this book because it looks big and complex.  I've heard it is too "hard" to read, but I did not find it to be so.  Perhaps one could go deeper with the reading if they were so inclined or able, but I didn't find it hard to read at all.  I had several "Oh!  That's why that is." moments while reading it.

Where you can find the Catechism:
Online at St Charles Borromeo Catholic Church

You can also purchase the USCCB Catholic Catechism for Adults.  We used this in an RCIA class I helped with.

Toward the end of the book, I found the below section on prayer.  I'm including it as a sample!


2725 Prayer is both a gift of grace and a determined response on our part. It always presupposes effort. The great figures of prayer of the Old Covenant before Christ, as well as the Mother of God, the saints, and he himself, all teach us this: prayer is a battle. Against whom? Against ourselves and against the wiles of the tempter who does all he can to turn man away from prayer, away from union with God. We pray as we live, because we live as we pray. If we do not want to act habitually according to the Spirit of Christ, neither can we pray habitually in his name. The "spiritual battle" of the Christian's new life is inseparable from the battle of prayer.


2726 In the battle of prayer, we must face in ourselves and around us erroneous notions of prayer. Some people view prayer as a simple psychological activity, others as an effort of concentration to reach a mental void. Still others reduce prayer to ritual words and postures. Many Christians unconsciously regard prayer as an occupation that is incompatible with all the other things they have to do: they "don't have the time." Those who seek God by prayer are quickly discouraged because they do not know that prayer comes also from the Holy Spirit and not from themselves alone.

2727 We must also face the fact that certain attitudes deriving from the mentality of "this present world" can penetrate our lives if we are not vigilant. For example, some would have it that only that is true which can be verified by reason and science; yet prayer is a mystery that overflows both our conscious and unconscious lives. Others overly prize production and profit; thus prayer, being unproductive, is useless. Still others exalt sensuality and comfort as the criteria of the true, the good, and the beautiful; whereas prayer, the "love of beauty" (philokalia), is caught up in the glory of the living and true God. Finally, some see prayer as a flight from the world in reaction against activism; but in fact, Christian prayer is neither an escape from reality nor a divorce from life.

2728 Finally, our battle has to confront what we experience as failure in prayer: discouragement during periods of dryness; sadness that, because we have "great possessions,"15 we have not given all to the Lord; disappointment over not being heard according to our own will; wounded pride, stiffened by the indignity that is ours as sinners; our resistance to the idea that prayer is a free and unmerited gift; and so forth. The conclusion is always the same: what good does it do to pray? To overcome these obstacles, we must battle to gain humility, trust, and perseverance.


Facing difficulties in prayer

2729 The habitual difficulty in prayer is distraction. It can affect words and their meaning in vocal prayer; it can concern, more profoundly, him to whom we are praying, in vocal prayer (liturgical or personal), meditation, and contemplative prayer. To set about hunting down distractions would be to fall into their trap, when all that is necessary is to turn back to our heart: for a distraction reveals to us what we are attached to, and this humble awareness before the Lord should awaken our preferential love for him and lead us resolutely to offer him our heart to be purified. Therein lies the battle, the choice of which master to serve.16

2730 In positive terms, the battle against the possessive and dominating self requires vigilance, sobriety of heart. When Jesus insists on vigilance, he always relates it to himself, to his coming on the last day and every day: today. The bridegroom comes in the middle of the night; the light that must not be extinguished is that of faith: "'Come,' my heart says, 'seek his face!'"17

2731 Another difficulty, especially for those who sincerely want to pray, is dryness. Dryness belongs to contemplative prayer when the heart is separated from God, with no taste for thoughts, memories, and feelings, even spiritual ones. This is the moment of sheer faith clinging faithfully to Jesus in his agony and in his tomb. "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if dies, it bears much fruit."18 If dryness is due to the lack of roots, because the word has fallen on rocky soil, the battle requires conversion.19

Facing temptations in prayer

2732 The most common yet most hidden temptation is our lack of faith. It expresses itself less by declared incredulity than by our actual preferences. When we begin to pray, a thousand labors or cares thought to be urgent vie for priority; once again, it is the moment of truth for the heart: what is its real love? Sometimes we turn to the Lord as a last resort, but do we really believe he is? Sometimes we enlist the Lord as an ally, but our heart remains presumptuous. In each case, our lack of faith reveals that we do not yet share in the disposition of a humble heart: "Apart from me, you can do nothing."20

2733 Another temptation, to which presumption opens the gate, is acedia. The spiritual writers understand by this a form of depression due to lax ascetical practice, decreasing vigilance, carelessness of heart. "The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."21 The greater the height, the harder the fall. Painful as discouragement is, it is the reverse of presumption. The humble are not surprised by their distress; it leads them to trust more, to hold fast in constancy.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Convert Journal - New Evangelists Monthly

Yesterday I received an email asking me to participate in the New Evangelists Monthly August issue.  I'd never heard of such a thing, but what a wonderful idea!  I selected my best post from July and shared that link there.  Other Catholic bloggers have done the same.  You should go check it out!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Friday, August 2, 2013

7 Quick Takes

It has been a rough week here with the disappointing test results from last weekend.  I'm okay, but I haven't done much productive.  And I don't intend to start now!  So, here are seven random videos I've found to be enjoyable or useful.

Ender's Game is quite possibly my favorite book.  I rank it up there with The Lord of the Rings.  That said, I think it is important to note I do not expect this movie to be as epic as the LOTR movies.  Also, the movie will be different than the book.  It has to be.  That is no reason to panic.  I just hope it is a good movie that captures the spirit of the book.  The enemy's gate is down.

Catching Fire.  Oh, yes.  Two trailers.  I prefer the second one.  It has my favorite scene from all three books - the point I literally decided staying up all night to finish the second book was the only option.  Can you guess what it is?

Hobbit!  Yes, this is coming out this year too.   This isn't just like the book and I don't care.  What a fun movie!  And what great music!

You probably are thinking I really like going to movies.  I don't.  It is quite rare, but I will be going to the movies above, possibly opening night if I can.  But I'm not all about movies.  Sometimes I'm just in it for fun.  I watched this video with a 3 year old, which made it WAY MORE FUN.

I may have already mentioned this, but you need to add this music to your workout playlist.

Another movie thing, I know.  I seriously am not that into movies!

Look.  Here's a video about God!  And the Hobbit...

And for some random fun.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

God's Will be done...

I posted about some exams and my future for 2014 here.  You can see there I failed them then.  I took them again this past weekend.  While I performed much better, I still failed.

I consider them to be a success though, as I prayed throughout the exams.  Remembering that God's will should be done and not mine is a far more important task than passing some tests to pursue my goals.

Something happened after the test I did not expect.  On my way out, I felt somewhat compelled to go speak to a man I'd just seen fail.  His wife was still testing.  I'd overheard him say they were both unemployed and had seven kids.  I had no idea why I wanted to talk to him, only that I should.  And the only thing I could think to say when I got there was, "Are you a Christian?'

If you don't know me, you don't know that I would normally have a bit of a longer transition there.  I just didn't know what else to say and out it sprang.  He said yes, and so I told him the quote from the post in June in which I shared my failure with you all.  "God has not called me to be successful; He has called me to be faithful."  We had a lovely and encouraging chat, and both of us were a lot less disheartened by the end of it.

Do not for a moment think I came up with this on my own.  I was far too tired, and honestly disappointed, for my introvert brain to think up a grand plan to go speak with some complete stranger about God.  By the time I got to my car I'd realized that I had prayed for God's will to be done on that day.  In my short-sighted little mind, I'd limited that prayer to the test itself, to the time I was engaged in the activity I thought was important.  God's will was bigger than the few moments of my test.

This is true during every moment of our entire lives.  Our scope is so limited we may only see what is before us, and maybe not even that.  But God sees it ALL.