Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year

Tonight is family time. We are playing games, eating appetizers, and giving each other ideas for resolutions for the New Year. Remember I am talking about a 5, 7 and 9 year old, and of course my wife and I. Very interesting.

Happy and Safe New Year!! See you in 2006.

Will You Testify?

Today's readings, especially the Gospel (Jn 1:1-18), brought forward a word I reflected on: testify.

Often I, in my role as a principal, am called to testify as to the attendance, behavior and grades of the students in my alternative school. The seriousness of this action is something I never take for granted or lightly. What I say oftenhas an impact on the what the judge decides. What I testify to reflects the truth, and I always try to find some positive in the student to whom I'm giving testimony.

In today's Gospel, we read that John was sent from God for testimony:

A man named John was sent from God.He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.He was not the light,but came to testify to the light.The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

Jesus was on trial His entire ministry. Who testified for Him? Of course there was John the Baptist. Various people in the crowds. The Samaritan woman. His disciples. His works. But above all the Scriptures testify to Jesus.

The Scriptures testify to the love, compassion and ultimate sacrifice of Jesus. We partake in that ultimate scarifice when we celebrate the Liturgy of the Eucharist. We have an opportunity to testify for Jesus EVERY DAY!

What will you do when you are called to the stand, "To tell the Truth, the whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth?" Will you testify for Jesus? I will.

"Lord Jesus, We are called to be witnesses to Your life, to Your sacrifice for us on the cross! Give us strength to give accurate testimony within our lives in our choices and actions. Help us to recognize You better at Mass and in others. We ask this through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen"

Ouch...I've been Tagged

My first tag, and it had to be a Weird Habits meme from Moneybags at A Catholic Life.

The rules as they were passed on to me:

Rules: "The first player of this game starts with the topic "five weird habits of yourself," and people who get tagged need to write an entry about their five weird habits as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose the next five people to be tagged and link to their web journals. Don't forget to leave a comment in their blog or journal that says "You are tagged" (assuming they take comments) and tell them to read yours."

My wife thinks this is really funny. She's got all kinds of weird things I do that I refuse to publish. However, here are a few I don't mind sharing:

1. I only eat chocolate cake in a bowl with milk and a spoon (like cereal).
2. I'm a talk radio junkie.
3. I defrost the windows on my car every morning with a Kool-Aid pitcher of hot water.
4. I am a pen freak. I love pens.
5. And my wife says I blink at people when I am being sarcastic.

What happens when I have no one I know well enough to send it to? All the people I have met this past week have been tagged. Am I "it" forever? That happened to me once on the playground in grade school - I was the last one tagged and the recess was over. I was "it" for the rest of the day.

I'll send it to Jay at Pro Ecclesia. Sorry, Jay.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Blogroll: My Other Blogs

Blogs I Visit Regularly

This past week my site counter went from 2 from last week to 170 hits this week! Praise God! Though this a personal journey, if what I am doing inspires, influences or in any way brings someone closer to Jesus, the time spent behind the monitor is worth it.

I'd like to bring you attention to some blogs that inspired me over the last months as the Holy Spirit has been working on me. Please visit them, read what they are writing and leave comments. I have also added permanent links to them in the left column. Thanks also to those who have let their readers know about this blog.


Reflection on Today's Readings

Today's readings are:
Reading I - Sir 3:2-7, 12-14
Responsorial Psalm - Ps. 128:1-2, 4-5
Gospel - Lk 2:22-40

There were several reading to choose from for Reading I. I'd like to just reflect on the one I cited above. As I read this, I couldn't help but think of the Beatitudes. It is written in the same if-then framework. And, too, they both are instructions for all of God's children.

Today's reading gives instructions to children, and to parents. I like the fact that to focus of the reading was preservation of the family. Fathers honoring their children, mother's authority over her sons. Instructions to children to honor their parents and if they do, their prayers will be heard, and live a long life and will be gladdened by children. It continues to say that children must take care of their parents in old age, when they are sick, and even if their mind fails.

Our society is not set up this way. I am seeing, not children caring for their parents, but parents caring for their grandchildren. Every day I am reminded by my students, by their very presence, that in today's society too many parents are refusing to honor their God-given responsibilities to care for their own children and abandoning them. How can we tell those children to honor their father and mother or grandmother or guardian when they have been abandoned?
"Lord, be with all expecting and existing mothers and fathers, that they may recognize their responsibility on caring for their own children, as You care for us. Give them the strength to raise their children so that in the parents' time of need their children may in return honor and care to them. We ask this through Your Son, our Lord. Amen"

The Gospel is very uplifting today. Again we see the focus on family, as The Holy Family goes to Jeruselem for the Presentation of Jesus. Luke tells us that when this was don, "they returned to Nazareth where Jesus became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him."

I wish I knew more of Jesus growing up. I imagine him acting like any other boy at the time, playing, helping his parents, learning. I wonder how much grief he gave Mary? How proud were Mary and Joseph while he was growing up? Or were they saddened because they knew what was to going to eventually happen to Jesus - the suffering and humiliation he would endure.
"Lord, as parents we thank You for the wonderful gift of our children. Give us strength as we raise them as one of Your children. Help us to find time to watch them with the same wonder and joy with which they see You and the world. Keep us mindful of our ministry as parents and the awesome responsibility You have given us. It is through Your Son, Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen"

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Catholic Tuneage

OK, I'm 38 years old, so I really feel "out of it" when I discover "new" music. In an earlier post I referred to a time in my life when I was searching for something and thought I had found it in a Protestant, evangelical group os peers in high school. One of the things that atracted me to that group was the music they were listening to. I remember bands like Petra and atrists like Amy Grant and Steve Taylor (funky). I liked the melody and especially the lyrics. Eventually, I graduated from high school and from that group of people.

Recently, within the last two years, I re-discovered "Christian Rock" on an alternative syndicated radio station called Air1. There I was exposed to bands like dcTalk (and the individual band members' solo acts - Toby Mac and Tait), the Newsboys, Barlow Girl, etc. My kids have grown up the last 2 1/2 years listening to that alone. They love it, and it gives me great joy to hear my youngest ask me to "crank the radio" when Tree 63's Blessed Be Your Name comes on the radio. After awhile, though, the station had a very Protestant feel about it. Not that that is a bad thing, but I felt there had to be more out there.

With the ease of a few google searches I found Catholic Tuneage. At this site I was able to sample Catholic Alternative Rock and see what was out there. Within the last few hours I have found some amazing bands - Cheer Up Charlie, Keith Roberts, Backyard Galaxy, and Plain Jane. I never knew these bands existed! Great melodies and lyrics that lift up the Liturgy, Sacraments, and Magisterium of the Church!

If you never have heard of these bands, you really need to take a few minutes and listen to some of the samples I have listed below. Let me know if you have ever heard of these bands, or if they are as new to you as they are to me. In addition, if you have any other bands you think I'd like, let me know.

Gotta listen to these samplings: (all are links to Sacred Heart Radio in Windows Media Player format for high internet speed connections)

Cheer Up Charlie

Plain Jane

I'll post more samplings as I have time.

St. Peter of Alexandria, Martyr

Here's some informaiton I found regarding my Saint of the Year at Catholic Spiritual Direction:

SAINT PETER governed the Church of Alexandria during the persecution of Diocletian. The sentence of excommunication that he was the first to pronounce against the schismatics, Melitius and Arius, and which, despite the united efforts of powerful partisans, he strenuously upheld, proves that he possessed as much sagacity as zeal and firmness. But his most constant care was employed in guarding his flock from the dangers arising out of persecution. He never ceased repeating to them that, in order not to fear death, it was needful to begin by dying to self, renouncing our will, and detaching ourselves from all things. St. Peter gave an example of such detachment by undergoing martyrdom in the year 311.

REFLECTION.-"How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!" says our Saviour; because they are bound to earth by the strong ties of their riches.

Other descriptions are here, here, here, here, here, and here.

I thought it interesting from Wikipedia ...

He is revered as a saint by both the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Coptic Church

Maybe by learning more about him, I can learn more about the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Coptic Church.

I Got Picked

Moneybags has posted the saint pairings on A Catholic Life. St. Peter of Alexandria picked me, and both St. Camillus de Lellis and St. John of God picked Kathy! More on those saints in a later post.

Rosary and Books

The picture at the title of this blog came from an encourgement greeting card that Ambassador Cards put out. I received it, blank, from my mom to give it to someone who was down and out a few months back. I never sent it, but still intend to. I scanned it last night and incorporated it into this blog and my desktop. The picture was just so interesting and reflective of what I think represents me right now. The books represent learning, and of course the rosary represents the Church. That's what this blog is all about, my growth in my faith and the teachings of the Church.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

For Green Thumbs

Received this as an email today and thought it worth sharing.

For the Garden of Your Daily Living

Plant three rows of peas:
1. Peace of mind
2. Peace of heart
3. Peace of soul

Plant four rows of squash:
1. Squash gossip
2. Squash indifference
3. Squash grumbling
4. Squash selfishness

Plant four rows of lettuce:
1. Lettuce be faithful
2. Lettuce be kind
3. Lettuce be patient
4. Lettuce really love one another

No garden is without turnips:
1. Turnip for meetings
2. Turnip for service
3. Turnip to help one another

To finish our garden we must have thyme:
1. Time for each other
2. Time for family
3. Time for friends

Water freely with patience and cultivate with love. There is much in your garden because you reap what you sow.

Reflections on the Feast of the Holy Innocents

Today is the Feast of the Holy Innocents. I remember talking with my mom when I was in high school, when I was going through that Protestant, evangelical phase, about where unborn, aborted or unbaptized babies go when they die. It was one of the only times I can remember my mom crying at my insistance that if those babies weren't "saved" then they'd go to hell. I was adamant and right! After all I was a teenager with teenager wisdom and I knew more than anyone!

It is sad now to think of how arrogant and self-righteous I was during that time.

Of course, now, I realize that I know very little - and I only know what the Lord wants me know when He wants it.

Since then, I have always kept Limbo close to my heart - even incorporating it into the phase system I have implemented for my students at my school.

Here's the essence of an article I found a couple of weeks ago from Catholic News Service when I was toying with the idea of creating this blog. It seems appropriate today to share it with you. Click here to read it all.:

The fact that God loves his creatures so much that he sent his Son to die in order to save them means that there exists an "original grace" just as there exists "original sin," Father Kelly said.

The existence of original grace "does not justify resignation," or thinking that everyone will be saved automatically, he said, "but it does justify hope beyond hope" that those who die without having had the opportunity to be baptized will be saved.

Pick me! Pick me!

Happend upon this site at A Catholic Life from a link at Happy Catholic. I feel as anxious as I did on the St. Mark School's playground 30 years ago waiting to be picked for the kickball team! I'll let you know who picks me when I find out.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Guadalupe Bling

Isn't it nice to know that the Virgin is in such high demand this Christmas season. Marketing the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe and "buying" into it only perpetuates the contradictory message society is selling. You too can have the Blessed Bling on the block:

The Mexican version of the Virgin Mary is on the Scottsdale nurse's $300 belt, threaded through her low-rise jeans. Her dark-skinned face shines on a silver buckle surrounded by green stones.

Self-described Virgin addict Elisa Walker, who is not religious, has spent at least $4,000 on crosses, paintings, key chains and statues, which range from 4 inches to 6 feet tall.

Twenty- to 70-somethings are snatching up $189 to $360 belt buckles, rings, T-shirts and chokers at Barbwire Western Couture boutique in Scottsdale.

Priests such as John Bonavitacola hope that those who latch onto Guadalupe's image keep in mind her message of compassion. "If they really knew the message, which is really concern for the poor and outcast, they might not be so quick to cash in on it," said Bonavitacola, of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Tempe.

The real message from American Catholic online:

In these days when we hear so much about God's preferential option for the poor, Our Lady of Guadalupe cries out to us that God's love for and identification with the poor is an age-old truth that stems from the Gospel itself.

St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology: Beginner Course #2; Lesson #1 - Discussion

In my effort to understand the Mass better, I am taking this online course from the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology. It is a beginner's course, but what better place to start than at the beginning. As I read and finish a lesson, I will post my answers to the discussion questions here.

All this information came from the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology. I do not want anyone to think I put this together. I am just reflecting and responding to it.

Beginner's Course No. 2:
The Lamb's Supper: The Bible and the Mass
Lesson One:
A Biblical Introduction to the Mass

Discussion Questions

  • What we say and hear in the Mass comes to us from the Bible. Give some examples.

  • · The Sign of the Cross (Ephesians 1:13; Revelation 7:3; Matthew 28:19)
    · Lord, have mercy... (Psalm 51:1; Baruch 3:2; Luke 18:13,38,39)
    · Holy, holy, holy... (Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 4:8)
    · The Lamb of God... (John 1:29,36)

  • What we "do" in the Mass, we do because it was done in the Bible. Give some examples.

  • · Kneel (Psalm 95:6; Acts 21:5)
    · Sing Hymns (2 Maccabees 10:7,38; Acts 16:25)
    · Gather at the Alter (Genesis 12:7; Exodus 24:4; 2 Samuel 24:25; Revelation 16:7)
    · Have incense (Jeremiah 41:5; Revelation 4:8)
    · Give the Sign of Peace (1 Samuel 25:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:26)

  • Why is the Bible alone able to give the Mass its life-transforming power? The Bible is the actual Word of God which gives the Mass its power to deliver what it promises to bring us into communion with the real and living Christ.

  • Name some of the details about the Last Supper that are similar in Matthew, Mark, Luke and Paul.

  • Each report that the Last Supper was during the Jewish Passover, was in close quarters with the Apostles, was the last meal Jesus had with His Apostles, and occurred the evening before His death.

  • What evidence do we have that the "two-part" structure of the Mass and the use of the Old Testament in the Liturgy comes from Jesus?

  • >From His example we see that upon His Resurrection, Jesus appeared to two disciples on the road to Emmaus and explained the Old Testament to them (Luke 24:13-35, 44-48). Then, like at the Last Supper, Jesus sat a table, takes, blesses, breaks and gives the bread to those gathered (Luke 22:14-20). This event alone gives us the evidence for the two-part structure of the Mass - the Liturgy of the Word and Liturgy of the Eucharist.

    Monday, December 26, 2005

    Praying the Rosary Daily

    I prayed the Rosary twice daily when I worked in Clark County. It took me 22 minutes to drive to work - from doorstep to doorstep. My radio didn't work, so I got into the habit of praying the Rosary. But I know I was doing it all wrong.

    Since I was driving, I couldn't read my card to pray/meditate on each mystery at the end of each decade. I kinda put my own intentions in where the mysteries went. I said all the OF, HM, GB, Fatima, and HHQ in the right order. My goal for the new year is to walk each morning for 30 minutes and say the Rosary then - with the correct mysteries.

    I found this site and liked it so well, I have put a permanent link to the left, under the KoC link. It answers any question you have about the "Crown of Roses". It has a rosary program, so you can say it on the computer, or keep up with the prayers.

    Also, if you do not have a rosary, or know of someone who needs one, look here, here, here, here, or here for free ones.

    St. Stephen, the Martyr

    Today is the Feast Day of St. Stephen, the Martyr. St. Stephen is the patron saint of St. Mark's ministry Newman Center at EKU.

    Since I have been reflecting on each day's readings and saints, I have learned so much in the last week or so! For Christmas, Kathy got me (and her) two Scott Hahn books; The Lamb's Supper and First Comes Love. I am already 1/2 way through The Lamb's Supper - what an eye-opening and awe-inspiring book!

    Today's readings surely have a significantly different tone than those of the past week. In the first reading, from Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-59, we read the story of St. Stephen, is courage, power and ultimate sacrifice.

    The Responsorial Psalm reminds us of of the utter devotion we need to have in God and to be willing to pay the ulitmate price, as St. Stephen did!

    In today's Gospel Jesus says to the disciples:

    Beware of men, for they will hand you over to courts
    and scourge you in their synagogues,
    and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake
    as a witness before them and the pagans.
    When they hand you over,
    do not worry about how you are to speak
    or what you are to say.

    You will be given at that moment what you are to say.
    For it will not be you who speak
    but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

    Brother will hand over brother to death,
    and the father his child;
    children will rise up against parents and have them put to death.
    You will be hated by all because of my name,
    but whoever endures to the end will be saved.

    How wonderful it is that we are reminded - the day after we celebrate Jesus as a baby entering this world, and the day after we are focused on the faith and commitment of the Holy Family - that the Church lays out for us in Scripture today the difficult task we have ahead of us as Christians! And, no matter how difficult the task may be, no mater how ultimate the sacrifice is to pay, the Lord will never abandon us and will send the Spirit to speak through us!

    Praise be to God! Have a great day!

    Sunday, December 25, 2005

    Joseph, the father of Jesus

    Such faith Joseph had in today's reading! I know the focus of today is on Jesus and His coming into the world, but all day yesterday, while I was wrapping and wrapping and getting ready for today, I was quietly reflecting on Joseph and his role in the Holy Family.

    In today's reading, the following part leapt out at me at Mass yesterday afternoon:

    Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
    yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
    decided to divorce her quietly.
    Such was his intention when, behold,
    the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,

    Joseph, son of David,
    do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
    For it is through the Holy Spirit
    that this child has been conceived in her.

    Joseph, being a righteous man, was, by divorcing Mary quietly, allowing his betrothed to escape the shame of being pregnant. What a situation Mary and Joseph must have felt themselves in!

    When the angel cam to tell Joseph not to be afraid, was he saying, do not be alarmed or anxious? Was he saying do not be afraid for Mary?

    As a father, I remember how anxious, alarmed, and afraid I was when I was at Humana Hospital ten years ago after Kathy had just had Nicholas.

    Once again I come back to the faith someone has in God. Previous posts have focused on Mary, Elizabeth and Hannah. How faithful, and faith-filled Joseph was.

    As I enter 2006, it is my prayer that I can become as faith-filled as those we have encountered in the Word within the last few days.

    Merry Christmas readers!

    Saturday, December 24, 2005

    Busy Day

    Today's readings are full of "protection" the Lord provided to his chosen people. Today, though, as I wrap presents and celebrate our Lord's birth, I will be reflecting Joseph, his commitment, his frustration and what I suppose was his alienation at this time, the eve of Jesus' birth.

    Merry Christmas. I might be on tomorrow evening.

    Friday, December 23, 2005

    What is my role?

    I think that being unsure of what my role is in the Church has led me to a greater desire to find that out. Once upon a time I thought I may become a priest. That thought now, of couse is absurd. With a wife and a family and another job, I think my ministry lies elsewhere - as a parent.

    In the reflection of today's reading, it mentions:

    Though ordained priests are called to purification and greatness before Christmas, religious and lay Christians, including parents, are not off the hook. Parents share a baptismal priesthood (Catechism, 1546; 1 Pt 2:5, 9) and are in that sense "priests" of their domestic church, their home (see Catechism, 1666). God is purifying all baptized Christians. All are called to submit to God's purification and open their mouths to proclaim God's praise (Ps 51:17).

    So Kathy and I are priests in our "domestic church". We have both been more vocal and confident in our own faith within the last year. It will be exciting for she and I grow and minister to our children in 2006!

    Thursday, December 22, 2005

    The Reason for the Season

    A good article by Amy Welborn in NRO reminding us that Christmas has a darker, and more serious side. She says in it:

    The really traditional Christian remembrance of the Nativity is not about sweetness. It is about awe, fear, and trembling, and it is shot through with hints of suffering to come.
    Mary, with a scandalous pregnancy. Joseph, courageous enough to take her on despite it. A birth among farm animals. The threat of death, from the very start, necessitating flight. Mary, told by the prophet Simeon that because of her son, her soul will be pierced by a sword (Luke 2:35).
    We view the elements of the story in a nostalgic haze how sweet to be born with the goats. But is it? Is it sweet? Would you want to give birth among goats?
    How charming that Mary and Joseph had to wander before and after the birth of the child. Charming until you remember the reasons why, the doors shut in the face of a heavily pregnant woman, the threat of death from a jealous king.
    Look at it closely, with clear eyes. At every turn in this story of this baby there is threat and fear and powers circling, attempting to strike at the light.

    I've stopped saying "Happy Holidays".

    Merry Christmas

    Refelction on today's readings

    Todays' readings (if you are reading today you can click on the 'Today's Readings' link to the left and see them) have much joy and sadness in them.

    Reading I
    Sm 1:24-28

    In those days,
    Hannah brought Samuel with her,
    along with a three-year-old bull,
    an ephah of flour,
    and a skin of wine,
    and presented him at the temple of the LORD in Shiloh.
    After the boy's father had sacrificed the young bull,
    Hannah, his mother, approached Eli and said:
    'Pardon, my lord!
    As you live, my lord,
    I am the woman who stood near you here, praying to the LORD.
    I prayed for this child, and the LORD granted my request.
    Now I, in turn, give him to the LORD";
    as long as he lives, he shall be dedicated to the LORD.

    She left Samuel there.

    Lk 1:46-56

    Mary said:
    My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
    my spirit rejoices in God my savior;
    for he has looked upon his lowly servant.
    From this day all generations will call me blessed:
    the Almighty has done great things for me,
    and holy is his Name.
    He has mercy on those who fear him
    in every generation.
    He has shown the strength of his arm,
    and has scattered the proud in their conceit.
    He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and has lifted up the lowly.
    He has filled the hungry with good things,
    and the rich he has sent away empty.
    He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he remembered his promise of mercy,
    the promise he made to our fathers,
    to Abraham and his children for ever.

    Mary remained with Elizabeth about three months and then returned to her home.

    In the first reading, I find it extaordinary that Hannah, after she prayed to God for Samuel and he granted her request, that she was able to "give him back to God". I am unsure, since I have not read the rest of the scripture following the reading, if that is a metaphor for dedicating him to God, or if she meant it literally. In any case, she left Samuel there. I have a hard time leaving my kids with a sitter much less alone next to sacrificed animals. How great her trust in the Lord must have been! I long for that level of trust, but I fear I am too controlling.

    The second reading is really one of joy and sorrow. How wonderful Mary must have felt knowing she was chosen to give birth to God the Man! How EXCITED she must have been! And also, how sad she must have been knowing what lay ahead for her only son. How much suffering he would endure. I know there is no love like that a parent has for the child. How great her love must have been for God, whom she trusted entirely, and whom she gave her life to.

    Both readings illustrate the high and low of giving of oneself to God. How can I ever reach that level trust and surrender? How interesting it is that God not only calls Mary to give her life in bearing and raising Jesus. This is something he cals all of us to do - to give of ourselves willingly and freely and totally.

    But, how many of us would be able to give up our children as well? It is in that message I think God is asking more of us...

    Wednesday, December 21, 2005

    Biblical Theology

    As a cradle-Catholic, my experience in reading the Bible, let alone knowing what it really means, has been limited. In high school I remember hanging out with the "Bible Study" group in an effort to find what I was craving. What I found, with that mostly Baptist group was valuable. I saw the Word in a different light. We weren't just reading the Bible, but we were "studying" it. Actually it was more like interpreting it. I didn't really read the Bible too much, just used the concordance and found scripture which related to the theme of what we were going to study.

    From there I fell away from both the Word and from the Church for a time while I was in college. Recently, though, within the last two or three years, I have had a similar desire to know more. I started to listen to Alternative Christian radio, finding the lyrics and melody to my liking. I was tired of the crap I was hearing on the commercial stations and was drawn to something with more substance.

    Within the last two years, I have become more active in my local parish, serving as Pastoral Council Chair and getting to know our pastor, Father Jim Sichko on a level I had not known other priests. He is my age, very energetic and has been transforming our Church back into a traditional Catholic Church with attention to reverence and Church teachings.

    So the desire grew.

    I began looking into places I could futher my knowledge of the Catholic Church, her teachings, her history, and what I as a Catholic needed to do. I joined the Knights of Columbus - but never went to a meeting. I still wasn't reading the Bible, though I did get through the first half of Genesis in a lame attempt to begin reading it from cover to cover. Still I had no guidance in reading it.

    Note here that I have a BA in English, my teaching certification, an MA in Educational Leadership and am principal of a small Alternative school for at-risk youth. I know how to read. I love to read. I even began reading DC Talk's books on Martyrs and their evangelical book on the formation of the United States. Still, I didn't feel like I was getting what I needed to have.

    I pray occasionally - the Rosary mostly, when I am in my car. I still don't feel like I am dong that right. I asked Father Jim for books I can read to further my knowledge and understanding of the Mass and the Church. He pointed me to a few. I have yet to buy them and read them.

    I have always felt inadequate when discussing the Church with other people - especially with recent converts to the Church who have recently delved into the teachings. I am jealous of that. That desire and fresh understanding of what it means to be Catholic.

    Then I found a website by Scott Hahn called the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology. He offers on this site beginner, intermediate and advanced online courses on biblical theology. He has archives of old courses to download and study. Their mission statement reads:

    The St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology is a non-profit research and educational institute that promotes life-transforming Scripture study in the Catholic tradition. The Center serves clergy and laity, students and scholars, with research and study tools from books and publications to multimedia and on-line programming.Our goal is to be a teacher of teachers. We want to raise up a new generation of priests who are fluent in the Bible and lay people who are biblically literate. For us, this means more than helping people to know their way around the Bible. It means equipping them to enter into the heart of the living Word of God and to be transformed and renewed by this encounter. We read the Bible from the heart of the Church, in light of the Church's Liturgy and living Tradition. In this way, we hope to help people experience the heart-to-heart encounter that Jesus disciples experienced on that first Easter night, when they knew Him in the breaking of the bread: Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked to us...while He opened to us the Scriptures? (see Luke 24:13-37 )

    I think this is what I have been looking for. So, my goal is to work from the beginning. To relearn what I was taught in Catholic school. To begin again. Pray for me as I begin this journey. I don't know when I'll find the time - but I think it is important that I make the time and effort.

    The debate over married priests

    With a new pope comes the need for continued debate over old issues. I am on the fence on this issue, as I am with many issues in my own faith. Often I do not feel confident enough in the Church's teachings to have an informed opinion. You'll find that any commentary I give on related Church issues will often not be very strong. I hope to change that as I learn more and grow more comfortable with my own faith.
    Anyway, here is the latest on the debate on married priests from Catholic Online

    Church needs debate on married clergy, celibacy, Irish prelate suggests
    DUBLIN, Ireland (CNS/Press reports) An Irish bishop has called for a debate within the church on the issue of married clergy and its understanding of celebacy.
    In an interview published in the Dec. 18 Sunday Tribune here, Bishop Willie Walsh of Killaloe said that there was room for both married and celibate priests in the church and that he believes that this might happen in the future.
    Bishop Walsh said that the celibacy rule has led to many priests leaving the priesthood to pursue relationships, and that they have been a great loss to the church.
    "There is room for both priests who are married and celibate priests in our church," he said. "I have known some very fine priests who have left the priesthood because they found the challenge of celibacy not life-giving for them.
    "Obviously each one of us longs for love and intimacy in our lives, because without that we live alone and in isolation. Unless in some way celibacy is a generous gift to others and to God, it is meaningless. If we see celibacy simply as abstaining from sexual intimacy, then it is negative, not life-giving," the bishop said.
    But there are many priests who think celibacy is a positive aspect of their vocation, the bishop said, adding that he knows priests who give love, time and service with "amazing generosity" and that "some of them wouldn't be able to give as generously if they were married."
    "If a priest is married, then obviously his first concern will be for his wife or family. But that is not to say that a married priest would not give as generously as a celibate priest," the bishop said.
    Church officials have repeatedly and strongly defended the Latin-rite rule on priestly celibacy. The late Pope John Paul II called it a timely challenge for contemporary society and said allowing a married priesthood may create bigger problems than those it intends to solve.
    Ten years ago, Bishop Brendan Comiskey of Ferns made similar calls, and was then supported by Bishop Walsh.
    On that occasion, Bishop Comiskey was summoned to Rome to explain his remarks for saying that the issue of mandatory clerical celibacy needed to be discussed, noting that to end the drop in vocations the Latin-rite Catholic Church must allow a married priesthood.
    ``Where there is no priest there is no Eucharist, and where there is no Eucharist there is no church,'' he said in an interview published in the June 11, 1995, Dublin Sunday Tribune.
    Bishop Walsh said, in a June 12, 1995, radio interview, he saw no contradiction in being a priest, a husband and a father at the same time. The bishop said he had no problem about considering changes in ``any particular church law at any time.''
    The decrease in vocations is ascribable ``in some part but not in great part'' to celibacy, he said, adding that the major factor in declining vocations is a diminution in faith and spiritual outlook.
    Bishop Comiskey was called to the Vatican in July 1995, and never again called for a debate on celibacy.
    Bishop Comiskey, a U.S. citizen, resigned as bishop of Ferns in April 2002 over allegations that he failed to protect children.

    The seeds are the people

    I went to the children's Mass at 8:30 this morning. I love going to the school Mass. The energy of the children and the way Father Jim relates to the kids really starts my day off on a positive note. Bringing up the Word before the Gospel with the children singing "Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path..." gives me goosebumps and almost brings me to tears every time I hear it.

    Today, Father had candy canes for the kids with the right answer instead of mini chocolate bars - in celebration of Christmas and the Advent season.

    Today's reading and homily to the students was very good. Father brought a student up to the alter and had him walk around. Father noticed, in that exuberant way he does, that the boy's shoes were flashing. After a little drama of Father trying to put on the boy's shoe, he made a really good point to the kids - that though we cannot explain how the shoe lights up, it still brings us great joy. Similarly, the coming of Jesus on Christmas brings us great joy, though there are things we may not be able to explain.

    Oh, and he gave the kids a Christmas present - they get to get out school early today. (they already had that, though)

    Thursday, December 1, 2005

    Blogroll: My Catholic Blogs

    These are some Catholic Blogs I visit very regularly, and I would encourage you to do the same.