Wednesday, October 30, 2013

An Update and Some Links

Next month, I will again be attempting to write 50,000 words in 30 days as part of Nanowrimo.    I have never before succeeded, but I don't let pesky things like that stand in my way.  I will keep you updated as time goes on!

Here are some links you might find helpful as we pursue the week!

15 Tips to Help Your Prayer Life

Cardinal Dolan's 10 Step Guide to Holiness

Small Acts of Simple Faith

What Every Catholic Needs to Know about Vatican II

Prayer as Warfare

Friday, October 25, 2013

7 Quick Takes

You probably think I'm a well organized person with a perfectly planned blog.  It would make sense, given my profession.  Sadly, you are wrong.  I rarely know what I'm going to do for 7 Quick Takes until I write them, and sometimes not until after.  Today I've decided to use the ten minutes I have to tell you about some of the awesome things I've learned (or relearned) at JP Catholic in my Intro to Scripture class.  Some of these may be full blog posts later, so stay tuned!

I've learned a lot about how Jesus actually existed.  Of course I knew He did exist because I believe He did and He's the Son of God, but I've learned a lot about the arguments for His existence outside any Christian school of thought.  Non-Christian writers and historians wrote about Him, and it is almost impossible to believe He's just a figment of the apostles' imagination.

Did you know there's been disagreement over the order of the Gospels?  For most of history we have thought Matthew was written first.  All the early Christians write about it being written first.  Here lately several have decided Mark was written first.

Then again, several think the Gospels had to be written after 70AD because otherwise how would they have been able to foretell the destruction of Jerusalem?  Aside from that whole God angle, that is.  I now know arguments in favor of a date before 70AD inherent in the text.

I love how Jesus accomplished His mission in the most unexpected ways.  During the temptations, Satan offered everything that we might want or might think the King of the World would need.  Feed the hungry.  Be invincible.  Be in charge!  And instead He goes off to die on a cross.  This is not how we would have planned it.   But look at how amazing the outcome is!  I need to let Jesus be in charge of the planning.

It had never crossed my mind how linked Jesus' baptism is with Jesus' death, aside from they both occur in His life.  They're like massively linked and the implications for our own baptism and resurrection are wonderful!

 I've always been a fan of Mary of course, and I've read all about the Immaculate Conception and Assumption, but I've never had it all click together until now.  Just this week the lecture included a long section about Mary as the Ark of the New Covenant.   I'd heard that before too, but now I can find it.  Luke and John clearly wanted to identify her as such.  It isn't just some additional idea later came up with by pious Catholics.

I'd never thought about how entirely odd it is that an angel appears to Zechariah, a righteous man and a priest, in the temple of all places, and he totally didn't believe it.  Out of all the places and all the people you'd expect an angel to appear to, a priest at the temple has to be high on the list.  He's even a good guy - it says so right there in Luke.  This isn't some random jerk who just likes to be in charge.  Meanwhile the peasant girl is all like "Yes."

The final thing I've learned I'd like to share is how much I really love all this.  I really enjoyed reading the Bible before, but the more I dig the better it gets.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Yay Sunday!

Today is the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time.  Readings are here.

Last night, we celebrated the Rite of Acceptance in RCIA at the afternoon Mass.  The candidate I am sponsoring is a wonderful lady, dedicated to finding the will of God.  I'm blessed to be able to help her on this journey.  Will you pray for her and the rest of the candidates and the catechumens?

The readings today start with Moses and Joshua taking on Amalek.  The armies of Amalek had not been kind to Israel, and would attack the rear of the Israelites and kill the weak and ill that could not keep up.
17 Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye were come forth out of Egypt; 18 How he met thee by the way, and smote the hindmost of thee, even all that were feeble behind thee, when thou wast faint and weary; and he feared not God. ~Deu 25:17-18

Friday, October 18, 2013

7 Quick Takes

Make sure to check out all the other great entries this week at!

In last week's Quick Takes, I focused on things I have learned about CrossFit.  I have not learned seven new things, but wanted to update readers that my original assumptions regarding what it might feel like to tear one's palms while doing pull ups were incorrect.  First, I thought this would not happen with gloves.  But it can!  If the gloves are slightly too big.  Second, I thought I'd be able to tell when it happened.  It hurt pretty much the whole time, so I don't know when it happened.  Third, I had assumed liquid bandage did not A) hurt or B) fall off easily from the hands.  All of these ideas - WRONG.

Fear not, faithful readers.  While I do have pictures, I will not post them here.

I've started my coursework at John Paul the Great Catholic University, beginning with Introduction to Scripture I on a track to get a Certificate of Catholic Theology.  I am really loving the class!  I did forget how much time a college class takes though.  I read a lot!  It helps I can download the lecture to my phone and listen to and from work.

You can do a video course online through this school called Pillars of Catholicism.  That's actually how I found them.

I'm helping out as a sponsor with RCIA this year.  Tomorrow, the lady I'm sponsoring does the Rite of Acceptance.  She's decided she wants to continue the path to becoming Catholic, which is kind of astounding considering who she got stuck with as sponsor.  I feel like I've been slacking!  Pray for her as she continues this journey.

I went hiking last Saturday with a Meetup group.  It was a lot of fun and I met some new people!  This was my view at lunch.

I have found this week I've suddenly become busy enough I make a mess of the kitchen faster than I get it cleaned.  There's no point to this Quick Take, except to say if you're coming over to my house you have been warned.

What do people do to sleep when they workout in the afternoon?  I workout from 4-5 three times a week and cannot go to sleep until midnight or later on those days.

Last weekend I also went to a Pumpkin Patch with a wonderful family and their wonderful three year old.  I have to say it was more fun than the hiking!  I climbed and jumped and played all over everything - a feat I must blame on my recent working out.  That's why I don't mind the torn up hands or the lack of sleep.  I felt ten years younger and able to play!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Blessed are they

In Pope Benedict's book, Jesus of Nazareth, he discusses the Beatitudes.  I highlighted a section relative to this one in particular:
Matthew 5:10  Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Pope Benedict says
The people who are persecuted for righteousness' sake are those who live by God's righteousness - by faith.  Because man constantly strives for emancipation from God's will in order to follow himself alone, faith will always appear as a contradiction to the "world" - to the ruling powers at any given time.  For this reason, there will be persecution for the sake of righteousness in every period of history. 
This caught my attention at this time in this place because of the subtle and not so subtle ways we are persecuted for our faith.  I often find myself asking why that happens and grow frustrated when it feels like those in power are against us.  It isn't an oddity though - this is perfectly normal behavior for the world.  We are the odd ones.  We are the ones out of place.  And we always will be.  May we always live up to it!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sunday Sunday!

Today is the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time.  You can find the readings here.  I always find that Mass goes better if I've read the readings ahead of time, and even better if I've researched them ahead of time.

Let's look at what happens before the first reading.  This is from 2 Kings 5.
Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable, because by him the LORD had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper. And the Syrians had gone out by companies, and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she waited on Naaman’s wife. And she said unto her mistress, Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy. And one went in, and told his lord, saying, Thus and thus said the maid that is of the land of Israel. And the king of Syria said, Go to, go, and I will send a letter unto the king of Israel. And he departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment. And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, Now when this letter is come unto thee, behold, I have therewith sent Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy. And it came to pass, when the king of Israel had read the letter, that he rent his clothes, and said, Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy? wherefore consider, I pray you, and see how he seeketh a quarrel against me.

And it was so, when Elisha the man of God had heard that the king of Israel had rent his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, Wherefore hast thou rent thy clothes? let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel. So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha. And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean. But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage. And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean? Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.

And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him: and he said, Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel: now therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant. But he said, As the LORD liveth, before whom I stand, I will receive none. And he urged him to take it; but he refused. And Naaman said, Shall there not then, I pray thee, be given to thy servant two mules’ burden of earth? for thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the LORD. In this thing the LORD pardon thy servant, that when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon: when I bow down myself in the house of Rimmon, the LORD pardon thy servant in this thing. And he said unto him, Go in peace. So he departed from him a little way.
Now we know more of the story when we go on Sunday!

Did you know the first reading and the Gospel reading are linked?  They go together.  Often the second reading goes well too, but for the most part that just goes in order through the letters.

Friday, October 11, 2013

7 Quick Takes - CrossFit edition

If you came here expecting 7 random things about how better to surrender to God, I apologize.  Those posts are on different days.  This post is all about 7 things I have learned about CrossFit in the whopping two months I've been doing it.

Burpees suck.  They make the rest of the workout look doable in comparison, and every stage of the workout is measured by how many more burpees to go.  Oh sure, you'd think it be easy.  Fall down, get back up.  Getting back up is a lot harder after like the 5th rep, and falling down becomes dangerous if you're so tired you don't control your head and do a literal faceplant.  This is even better if your box (what they call the gym) has that industrial black workout matting that makes it apparent to everyone you either just stopped your body with your chin or the priest on Ash Wednesday missed your forehead by quite a bit.

The first rule of CrossFit is everyone you know must know you are in CrossFit.  I had this impression before I began, and had decided I would not be like that.  Crazy people.  There's no need to randomly drop what gym I go to in everyday conversation.  And yet here I am, blogging about it.  The Kool-Aid comes in multiple flavors, and is hard to ignore.

People, especially on the internet, either LOVE LOVE LOVE CrossFit or HATE HATE HATE CrossFit.  I'm talking the kind of passion normally reserved for political arguments, disagreements over how best to discipline children, and debates regarding what Pope Francis really said in his interviews.  CrossFit is either the best thing ever invented in the HISTORY OF EVAH, or it is the most ridiculously dangerously excessive thing you could do to yourself all while setting a horrid example for your children (who you won't be able to provide for when it kills you).  You will either have a wonderfully fulfilling life or ALL of your muscles will explode at random while working out.

Okay, well, most of the people aren't quite that bad.  But seriously - those with opinions have them.

The people there are ridiculously friendly and learn your name (or try to) immediately.  They're very encouraging, no matter where you are in your fitness level.  There is a standard though and they will correct you if you fail to attain it.   It is a little like how church should be.

I can do more than I think I can.  When I started in August, I could not bring myself to even try a box jump to a 20" height.  I had visions of catching my toes on the edge, banging my shins and knees on the top of the box, and doing a face plant into that lovely black flooring on the opposite side.  I came home that night and taped a ribbon across a door at 20" and then jumped over it several times.  Two classes later, I did my first box jump.

You'd think at that point I'd be good to go, but no, the doubt again interfered and since that day I've been stepping up on the box each time the workout called for box jumps.  This Tuesday, encouraged by another member in my class, I tried again.  Eight box jumps later I was without any scuff marks on my shins or my face!

If you're going to catch a wall ball with your face, turn your head so it doesn't hit your nose.  Laugh like you did it on purpose.

I feel amazing.  The type of amazing that makes you stop weighing yourself and just smile when you feel an actual muscle in your arm.  The type of amazing that makes you not want soda anymore.  The type of amazing that improves posture, health, and self confidence.  I seriously love the results I'm seeing in the mirror, in how I feel, and in how I think about myself and my capacity for challenge.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Isaiah 53

Who hath believed our report?
And to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?
For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant,
And as a root out of a dry ground:
He hath no form nor comeliness;
And when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
He is despised and rejected of men;
A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief:
And we hid as it were our faces from him;
He was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he hath borne our griefs,
And carried our sorrows:
Yet we did esteem him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities:
The chastisement of our peace was upon him;
And with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned every one to his own way;
And the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
Yet he opened not his mouth:
He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before her shearers is dumb,
So he openeth not his mouth.
He was taken from prison and from judgment:
And who shall declare his generation?
For he was cut off out of the land of the living:
For the transgression of my people was he stricken.
And he made his grave with the wicked,
And with the rich in his death;
Because he had done no violence,
Neither was any deceit in his mouth.
Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief:
When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin,
He shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days,
And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied:
By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many;
For he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great,
And he shall divide the spoil with the strong;
Because he hath poured out his soul unto death:
And he was numbered with the transgressors;
And he bare the sin of many,
And made intercession for the transgressors.
I just wanted to share this again.  In case you'd forgotten.  I'm finishing up Isaiah this week and I always read and re-read this chapter many times on my way through.  Even with minimal knowledge of the Bible, it has always been easy to see how this lines up with Jesus.  And the more I learn, the better it becomes!

Do you think He mentioned this portion of Isaiah on the Road to Emmaus?
Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:  Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
Luke 25:27
I just love this chapter.  Thank God for our Lord Jesus Christ!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Smart does not equal Saved

Did you know that this:
Matthew 4:6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
References this:
1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
2  I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress:
My God; in him will I trust.
3  Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler,
And from the noisome pestilence.
4  He shall cover thee with his feathers,
And under his wings shalt thou trust:
His truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
5  Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night;
Nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
6  Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness;
Nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
7  A thousand shall fall at thy side,
And ten thousand at thy right hand;
But it shall not come nigh thee.
8  Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold
And see the reward of the wicked.
9  Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge,
Even the most High, thy habitation;
10  There shall no evil befall thee,
Neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
11  For he shall give his angels charge over thee,
To keep thee in all thy ways.
12  They shall bear thee up in their hands,
Lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
13  Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder:
The young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.
14  Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him:
I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.
15  He shall call upon me, and I will answer him:
I will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him, and honour him.
16  With long life will I satisfy him,
And shew him my salvation
I brought up Psalm 91 in Logos as Pope Benedict references it in Jesus of Nazareth.  He is linking it to the temptation story in Mathew and Luke, so I already knew the connection.  But it is still cool my software links so well.

That isn't the point of this post.  Satan uses the Bible to tempt Jesus.  Satan is a scripture scholar of the highest degree.  Pope Benedict goes elsewhere (and much deeper) with his analysis, but I try to see this as a reminder that brains alone won't get you anywhere but trouble.  A relationship with God is the only thing that will prevent us from becoming awesome scripture scholars who work for the Father of Lies.  I find this to be especially important for me, as I love studying the Bible but fail to pray as much as I ought.  What a probable pitfall!
5  Trust in the LORD with all thine heart;
And lean not unto thine own understanding.
6  In all thy ways acknowledge him,
And he shall direct thy paths.
7  Be not wise in thine own eyes:
Fear the LORD, and depart from evil.
(Proverbs 3:5-7)

Friday, October 4, 2013

Father Barron Comments on the Pope Francis Interview

7 Quick Takes - Welcome October!

I was sitting down to write random things and I realized it is time for 7 Quick Takes Friday at Conversion Diary.   Yay 7 Quick Takes!

It has been a bit of a time since my last blog post.  Since then, I've done enrolled in a Certificate of Catholic Theology course!  Woo hoo.  It starts soon.  I'm very excited about it and have been reading the required texts ahead of time.  That's how happy I am! 

(Don't worry Dad, I'll use proper grammar for any papers I do there.  Promise.)

I think the last time I posted, there was a picture of a deer.  I went back and saw FIVE deer the next time.

Also since the last blog update, I purchased some amazing Bible software, Logos.  They have a Catholic specific package, Verbum.  A little pricey, but it is amazing stuff!  Everything is linked together, so when you read the Catechism it will link to other texts from the Bible to early Church history.  I can pull in the lectionary and fully research Sunday's readings ahead of time, spanning from early commentary to later commentary.  There are also graphs, which you know makes me happy.

Have I mentioned I started CrossFit?  I mention it now because it is sure to come up again and again.  I had rejected the idea of joining it in January, when I told my doctor "It just seems a little excessive."  And it is. In a good way.  It is my new most favorite cult ever.  Where else do you pay to go be miserable and get smacked in the face with a 10 lb wall ball and actually be happy about it?  It is insane.  And awesome all at the same time. 

I've been stalking all the top athletes on YouTube.  I bought a book that will help increase my mobility - a term I'd not actually heard of two months ago.  I am going to reward my participation with more gym clothes.  Clearly a cult!

Seriously, I sent the following FB message to a close friend just last week:
Will you tell me if/when it goes from "It is cool Julie found a new hobby that improves her health and mental well being all while preparing her for the future" to "someone needs to tell Julie she isn't actually an awesome athlete, she's spending too much time/money on a hobby that she's overdoing and hurting herself and her relationships with, and/or that she seems to care more about her hip flexibility than she does the resurrection?"

Everyone is all crazy over Pope Francis and the ridiculous coverage the media gives him.  Which is to say he gives a 12,000 word interview and they badly misquote a single sentence out of context to prove their political agenda.  Here's the perfect cartoon to lighten our anxieties.

Turkeys, turkeys, turkeys!  Boy do I have turkeys!  Last year on Black Friday, I bought three.  Why?  I don't know.  They were on sale.  Also, my company gave me one.  So I have plenty of turkeys.  I made one last Sunday and then used it to make turkey soup and awesome turkey broth.  I leave the carcass and veggies in a crockpot for days to get all the good stuff out of the bones and then freeze the liquid in ice cube trays for easy use later.  I'm going to have a lot of broth!

Go here and read the best obituary ever.  May our own be so glorious someday.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!