Monday, January 30, 2006

Music That Matters: Smell the Color Nine

A reader has suggested that I take a song a day (I'm going to do a song a week) and post the lyrics, encourage the rest of you to listen (sorry I cannot provide the song itself - copyright infringement) and write a few lines of reflection. So, in that spirit, and hopeful with THE Spirit, I present the first song of submission. The title and lyrics follow...

Listen to it here.

[Listening to: Smell The Color 9 - Chris Rice - Short Term Memories (4:10)]

Smell the Color Nine
by Chris Rice
Album - Short Term Memories

I would take no for an answer
Just to know I heard You speak
And I'm wonderin' why I've never
Seen the signs they claim they see
Are the special revelations
Meant for everybody but me?
Maybe I don't truly know You
Or maybe I just simply believe

'Cause I can sniff, I can see
I can count up pretty high
But these faculties aren't getting me
Any closer to the sky
But my heart of faith keeps poundin'
So I know I'm doin' fine
But sometimes finding You
Is just like trying to
Smell the color nine

Now I've never 'felt the presence'
But I know You're always near
And I've never 'heard the calling'
But somehow You've lead me right here
So I'm not looking for burning bushes
Or some divine graffiti to appear
I'm just beggin' You for some wisdom
And believing You're puttin' some here


Smell the color nine?
But nine's not a color
And even if it were you can't smell a color
That's my point...

I was introduced to Chris Rice after I purchased the Veggie Tales DVD, Jonah for my kids. He has a song on there, Billy Joe McGuffey, that my kids went nuts over. I looked him up and found other music he did that brought me back to my youth group days.

Smell the Color Nine focuses on faith. Knowing God is there when we we cannot prove it with our senses or reinforce it with a feeling of His presence. That seems to be the hardest thing of all for us. It's a Catch-22 situation many times. We ask the Lord for wisdom to know He is here, yet in order to ask for that, we have to already know.

Another good song which illustrates this is Barlow Girl's "Never Alone".

Catholic Schools Week

As a product and ardent supporter of Catholic Schools, please join me in celebrating Catholic Schools Week this week. From the National Catholic Education Association's webpage, I am sharing their fact sheet on what CSW is all about:

Fact Sheet - Catholic Schools Week - NCEA


  • What is Catholic Schools Week?
  • Catholic Schools Week is an annual national celebration of the important role that Catholic elementary and secondary schools across the country play in providing a values-added education for America's young people. Catholic schools are proud of their educational network that emphasizes intellectual, spiritual, moral, physical and social values in their students. Catholic Schools Week is a key part of the yearlong National Marketing Campaign For Catholic Schools.

  • When is Catholic Schools Week 2006?
  • Catholic Schools Week begins the last Sunday in January. In 2006 it will be observed January 29 through February 4.

  • What is the theme of CSW?
  • The theme of the 2006 Catholic Schools Week is: "Catholic Schools: Character. Compassion. Values."

  • What does Catholic Schools Week celebrate?
  • Catholic Schools Week celebrates education that goes beyond preparation for a secular life; it is an education that prepares students for a Christian life. CSW also celebrates the high standards of excellence and the quality of the education available to all students in Catholic elementary and secondary schools across the U.S.

  • What is the purpose of the Catholic Schools Week celebration?
  • The purpose of Catholic Schools Week is to build community awareness of, and involvement in, Catholic schools throughout the country. During this week, many dioceses and schools encourage parents to take full advantage of the benefits of local Catholic schools by enrolling their children in those schools. CSW is also an occasion for schools to interest citizens in volunteering their time and talents to the local Catholic schools.

  • Who sponsors Catholic Schools Week?
  • Catholic Schools Week is a joint project of the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Individual dioceses and local Catholic elementary and secondary schools develop and promote their own CSW activities each year.

  • How long has Catholic Schools Week been around?
  • The Catholic Schools Week celebration became an annual event in 1974. The first national Catholic Schools Week slogan was "Different Where It Counts--Message, Community, Service."

  • Where is Catholic Schools Week celebrated?
  • CSW is celebrated in communities across the U.S. that have Catholic elementary and secondary schools. State governors, big city mayors and small town councils have joined in to proclaim "Catholic Schools Week" in their localities year after year.

  • When is National Appreciation Day For Catholic Schools observed?
  • National Appreciation Day falls on the Wednesday of Catholic Schools Week (February 1, 2006). This event was founded in 1990 to encourage Catholic school supporters nationwide to showcase the great accomplishments and contributions of Catholic schools to our country. On this day in particular, advocates are urged to wear a button showing their support.

  • When is National Appreciation Day For Catholic School Teachers observed?
  • This day in honor of the 160,153 Catholic school teachers nationwide is scheduled on Friday of Catholic Schools Week (February 3).

  • What other audiences are saluted during Catholic Schools Week
  • Often schools will celebrate the parish family on Sunday (January 29); the community on Monday (January 30); students on Tuesday (January 31); vocations on Thursday (February 2; and faculty, staff and volunteers on Friday (February 3). Schools often set aside time during the week to honor grandparents.

  • When did the National Marketing Campaign For Catholic Schools begin?
  • In 1991-92, NCEA and USCCB established a national marketing campaign, designed to promote Catholic schools year-round. Thus a theme and logo advancing Catholic education is used daily, not only during Catholic Schools Week.

    For more information contact: Barbara Keebler or Brian Gray 202.337.6232.

    Saturday, January 28, 2006

    One Bread, One Body - Reflection for January 28, 2006

    From Reflections.


    "Since you have utterly spurned the Lord by this deed, the child born to you must surely die." 2 Samuel 12:14

    We need Nathans and John the Baptizers to prophesy to a society wallowing in sexual sin. We don't hear much talk about the sins of adultery and fornication but only about the "new sins" of getting sexually transmitted diseases or getting pregnant. We used to hear about grace to overcome sexual temptations. Now we hear about condoms so as to be overcome by temptations. Who will stand not only for purity, but sanity?

    Who will speak of repentance and commitment to Jesus? We need Savior-education rather than safe sex-education. Who will love the adulterous Davids, Herods, and Herodiases of today enough to tell them the truth? Nathan's prophecy was accepted, and David repented. John's stand for purity was rejected, and he was beheaded.

    Whether our prophetic witness for purity is accepted or rejected, we must love people enough to warn them of their self-destructive sexual sin. The only "safe sex" is sex between a man and a woman in marriage. All other sexual relations cause extensive spiritual and psychological damage. In sexual relations, the members of the one become the members of the other (1 Cor 6:15-16). In marriage, this sexual bonding is good. Outside marriage, it is a bondage which damages the very core of a person's being. As bad as the damage caused by sexually transmitted diseases is, that damage is not as bad as the spiritual damage caused by fornication and adultery (see 1 Cor 6:18). We must repent, be pure, and prophesy for purity.

    PRAYER: Father, make me pure and prophetic.
    PROMISE: "Who can this be that the wind and the sea obey Him?" Mk 4:41
    PRAISE: St. Thomas used his brilliant mind for the service of his King.

    Thursday, January 26, 2006

    Hustler or Hustled?

    Here's a photo of a pair of billboards on the Robert Martin By-Pass in Richmond. I had to share.

    Please Read!!

    Unless you want telemarketers to call your cell phone, WITH YOU BEING CHARGED, you might want to go to the National Do Not Call Registry and sign up.

    Another Very Nice Catholic Blog

    If you get a chance go visit Viam Pacis. Scott has a very nice Catholic and prolife oriented blog.

    Coming Out of the Clogset

    Saw a news report on the NSA recently and realized something. Anyone who wants to know who I am and where I live and who my family is can easily to that no matter how anonymous I want to be. When I began blogging, I used a pseudonym, and was very vague. This blog, however, I decided to lay it all out there. Since I have done that, and have met some very nice people, I am opening the rest of my life for your browsing pleasure. I have deleted some posts from these blogs, but will begin posting to them regularly as I have the time. Like I have any time to do that now.

    Heads up: These blogs are rough! Most, if all, need reformatting and lots of TLC. So check back often. I'll eventually put links up in the left column.

    So, here they are in ABC order:
    3 Good Things A Day - Quick daily (yeah, right) posts of a favorite dinner table activity my family has. Focusing on the positive.
    Dachano's Phone - This blog I use to post pictures I take with my phone. I created it just because I though it was really cool to be able to do that.
    gadgets & gizmos - My newest blog highlighting the cool stuff out there that I'd love to get, but never will.
    Norton's News, Notes 'N' Nonsense - This blog is where I have posted general thoughts and ideas. My first blog.
    norton verse - My lame attempts at poetry. Actually I haven't written much lately, but it was a permanent place I could put them and not lose them.
    Parties and Pictures - I created this blog to showcase my family having fun and enjoying life, through pictures.
    Principal, Pokes & Ponderings - My attempt at creating a blog illustrating aspects of my professional life.

    The Pro-Life Issue

    I have been struggling with this post for a week or so now. In light of the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, and the amount of attention I have seen on other blogs dedicated to abortion over the last weeks, I have had to come to terms with my own complacency with this issue.

    I am an ardent supporter of pro-life. This comes from growing up in a family where the sactity of life was respecetd and often discussed. I remember the first conversation I had with my mom regarding abortion. It was one of many discussions I would have which illustrated true evil in the world.

    I have been very happy in my little isolated world growing up not knowing what atrocities were taking place around me. It wasn't really until the last presedential election that I began asking myself what I really believed on many isues and how I was going to stand up for those beliefs.

    As I mentioned in an earlier post, when I first created this blog, I have had difficulty taking a firm stance on issues in which I was uneducated. So, as I become more aware of real "truths" in this world, I am more comfortable discussing them.

    On the issue of pro-life, I have, in the past, kept many of my opinions to myself. I have had no real significant discussions regarding abortions or the politically left's description "pro-choice". But in reading much of the information out there on the blogshpere and other sites, I have become much more aware of both sides of the issue.

    I never had an issue in declaring that abortion was wrong. Morally and spiritually I know that. I was alarmed to find out, however, that there are so many "supporters" of abortion out there that I unknowingly supported. Supporters that I continue to support for the good things they do, say or offer. I was very saddened to see the Girl Scouts as being associated with Planned Parenthood.

    My wife was in Girl Scouts growing up, and my daughter is involved currently. From the limited knowledge and involvement we have in that organization, it seems very positive to me. Locally, the leader is doing good things and involving the girls in civic and community activities.

    Additionally, Walt Disney and parent company ABC (or is it the other way around?) have ties to some folks with pretty liberal ideas and agendas. Both continually disappoint me with their recent releases (Deperate Housewives and the like).

    Knowing those organizations are involved with liberal folks and liberal agendas, the question is do I boycott them? And what does boycott mean? Not buy any of my daughter's cookies she's trying to sell? Throw away all of our VHS and DVDs made by Disney? No, I do not think so.

    I am a firm believer in the power of prayer. I think my part in this fight for pro-life is to become more educated, to inform others, and to pray. Pray alot.

    I might think twice before buying the next Disney DVD. But I think pulling my daughter out of her scouting troop and condemning all her friends for staying in, would cause more problems, not solve any.

    Sunday, January 22, 2006

    A Prayer for Thanksgiving

    For everything I am thankful for: my and my family's health, shelter and food, a free country, and the Church. From

    O God, of Whose mercies there is no number, and of Whose goodness the treasure is infinite; we render thanks to Your most gracious majesty for the gifts You have bestowed upon us, evermore beseeching Your clemency, that as You grant the petitions of them that ask You, You will never forsake them, but will prepare for the reward to come. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

    Friday, January 20, 2006

    Liturgical Fact of the Day: The Nicene Creed

    Found out something interesting yesterday. Since I have been attending daily Mass more regularly, I have noticed that the Nicene Creed hasn't been said. So I asked the Liturgical Director at my church why that is. His response:

    The Nicene Creed is only said on Sundays and solemnities like Holy Days of Obligation (i.e. Assumption, Immaculate Conception, etc.). It is not said for daily Mass or children's Masses unless that falls on a solemnity. We only profess what we believe on special occasions and Sunday being the special day of the week.

    Thursday, January 19, 2006

    Natural Highs

    Got this as an email. I've added a few at the end. Any other natural highs for you folks (put them in the commbox)?

    1. Falling in love.

    2. Laughing so hard your face hurts.

    3. A hot shower.

    4. No lines at the supermarket.

    5. A special glance.

    6. Getting mail.

    7. Taking a drive on a pretty road.

    8. Hearing your favorite song on the radio.

    9. Lying in bed listening to the rain outside.

    10. Hot towels fresh out of the dryer.

    11. Chocolate milkshake (vanilla or strawberry).

    12. A bubble bath.

    13. Giggling.

    14. A good conversation.

    15. The beach.

    16. Finding a 20 dollar bill in your coat from last winter.

    17. Laughing at yourself.

    18. Looking into their eyes and knowing they love you.

    19. Midnight phone calls that last for hours.

    20. Running through sprinklers.

    21. Laughing for absolutely no reason at all.

    22. Having someone tell you that you're beautiful.

    23. Laughing at an inside joke.

    24. Friends.

    25. Accidentally overhearing someone say something nice about you.

    26. Waking up and realizing you still have a few hours left to sleep.

    27. Your first kiss.

    28. Making new friends or spending time with old ones.

    29. Playing with a new puppy.

    30. Having someone play with your hair.

    31. Sweet dreams.

    32. Hot chocolate.

    33. Road trips with friends.

    34. Swinging on swings.

    35. Making eye contact witha cute stranger.

    36. Making chocolate chip cookies.

    37. Having your friends send you homemade cookies.

    38. Holding hands with someone you care about.

    39. Running into an old friend and realizing that some things (good or bad) never change.

    40. Watching the _______expression on someone's face as they open a much desired present from you.

    41. Watching the sunrise.

    42. Getting out of bed every morning and being grateful for another beautiful day.

    43. Knowing that somebody misses you.

    44. Getting a hug from someone you care about deeply.

    45. Knowing you've done the right thing, no matter what other people think.

    My additions:

    Listening to children laugh.
    Crisp, clear Fall days.
    Listening to nature.

    Reflection on Today's Reading

    From My Catholic Content:

    "A great crowd followed Him from Galilee." (Mark 3:7)
    Jesus usually healed people in crowded conditions, such as when the press of the crowd was so great that He had to get into a boat to avoid being pushed into the water (Mk 3:9). The woman with the twelve-year hemorrhage had to fight her way through a pushing and shoving crowd to touch Jesus' garment and be healed (Mk 5:30-31).
    Crowd control was also a problem for those who tried to touch the tassel of Jesus' cloak to receive healing (Mk 6:55-56). The men carrying the paralytic couldn't even get close to Jesus because of the crowd (Mk 2:2), but had to make a hole in the roof and lower the man through it.
    Healing still takes place in crowded conditions. The crowd for us is not so much outside as inside. Sin, fear, doubt, self-hatred, jealousy, unforgiveness, bitterness, and pride try to crowd out healing. We must fight our way through a crowd of interior obstacles to receive Jesus' healing. Stand out in the crowd. Touch Jesus.

    PRAYER: Jesus, may I not let myself be intimidated, blocked, or discouraged, so that I can touch You.
    PROMISE: "My wanderings You have counted; my tears are stored in Your flask; are they not recorded in Your book? Then do my enemies turn back, when I call upon You." Ps 56:9-10P
    RAISE: Crowded with thoughts of fear, anxiety, and distress, Lisa received a healing at Mass during the "Our Father" when she recited the phrase, "deliver us from evil."

    Wednesday, January 18, 2006

    Novena for Christian Unity

    Anyone want to join in on the week-long novena for Christian Unity? (Hat-tip to Moneybags at A Catholic Life)

    [Listening to: As It Is In Heaven - Michael W. Smith - Reflections Disc 1 (5:13)]

    Reflection on Today's Readings

    Todays readings, are wonderful. The first reading describes the classic Bible story of David and Golliath. The Gospel is one of the classic examples of Jesus tripping up the Pahrisees as they try and trap him into doing "work" on the Sabbath.

    The story of David and Golliath, or David and the Philistine, has some very important points to make that are above and beyond what we learn as kids about this story. First and foremost, we see that David, having put his trust in the Lord, was up against tremendous odds in anyone's eyes. Yet, David knew the Lord would keep him safe. David announced before his ultimate victory over the Philistine, "All this multitude, too, shall learn that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves..." (1Sam 17:47)

    This statement is important to remember when we, as a nation or individually, feel that "might is right". That by overcoming our foes with any kind of might other than the might of the Lord puts us in a dangerous place. It is much easier, often, to settle differences or win our own "battles" with the sword than with the power of God.

    Today's Gospel reminds us (from an earlier reading) that the Sabbath was created for man, not man for the Sabbath. Jesus healing a man's withered hand in today's reading illustrates that we should do good whenever and whereever we can. There is no "day of rest" when it comes to doing God's works. How lucky we are to have healthy minds and bodies to be used for the glorification of God and His Son! Let us do it each and every day!

    What a Glorious God We Have!

    We got snow today and they called off public schools. That in of itself is something to praise the Lord for. But, hidden behind white veil wonder is an amazing story of trust in the Lord. Let me explain.

    Today was supposed to be the day KECSAC, one of the agencies that helps fund my school and thus one of which we are accountable to, was to visit (or monitor) my school in their annual audit. Preparation for this monitoring visit is extensive on my part. Being my usual procrastinating self, I started preparing just last week. The monitoring requires my staff and I to gather a tremendous amount of paperwork to show we are doing what is outlined in our Memorandum of Agreement. I was fretting over this pretty badly on Monday (a day we had off for MLK, Jr. Day).

    In this situation, I calmed myself down and asked the Lord for guidance and focus. AT THAT MOMENT, THE ANXIOUSNESS WENT AWAY! I'm talking about a very physical sensation of tightness in my chest, much sighing and lethargicness JUST WENT AWAY. Poof. Just like that.

    I slept well Monday night. Got alot of work finished yesterday. But at about 4:00, my printer died. No more documents. I was sure my anxiety would return. It did not. I went to Mass at 6:00 pm, had a meeting at 7:00 pm with some church folks, spent a relaxing evening with my wife and kids and woke up to snow!!!

    My school system rarely closes school. In fact, I got an email from the superintendent yesterday reviewing one and two hour delays - just in case.

    So, ultimately, I had to reschedule the monitoring visit for later this month which will give me time to get my printer fixed and be better prepared for the visit.

    I know this isn't changing water to wine or anything so dramatic. But to me this series of events was a true testament to the power of prayer and the glory of God.


    How ironic is it that on today, the scripture verse for the day is:

    Philippians 4:6-7
    Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

    Monday, January 16, 2006

    Congratulations Moneybags!!

    Inserted ever so quietly in this post is Moneybags' intention to enter the priesthood! I would have missed it if my mom didn't point it out to me last night!

    Please visit this post on his blog, A Catholic Life and let him know how supportive we are of his decision! What wonderful news!!!

    I think a prayer for vocations is in order (from EWTN):

    O Holy Spirit, Spirit of wisdom and divine love, impart Your knowledge, understanding, and counsel to youth that they may know the vocation wherein they can best serve God. Give them courage and strength to follow God's holy will. Guide their uncertain steps, strengthen their resolutions, shield their chastity, fashion their minds, conquer their hearts, and lead them to the vineyards where they will labor in God's holy service. Amen.

    [Listening to: Open My Eyes - Rick Springfield - Reflections Disc 1 (1:20)]

    Coming up...

    My faithful and dedicated readers:

    I wanted to ensure you that I have not fallen off the face of my Frappr (that's fun to say aloud), or map. I am swamped at work and have some major deadlines I am working towards. In the meantime, I have some reflections mulling about in my mind.

    This is what I have planned:

    • A series of five reflections related to the sanctity of life (an idea I received from Fr. Jim's homily this past weekend)

      1. Protection of the unborn and their mothers

      2. Care for the terminally ill

      3. Scientific research which respects basic human values

      4. Defense of those most vulnerable (mentally ill, handicapped, and Down's Syndrome)

      5. Defense of those most vulnerable II (death row)

    • Reflections on nature and the presence of God

    • Reflections on spending quality time with family and friends

    • Reflections on the daily readings

    Sunday, January 15, 2006

    I got Frappr: UPDATE

    Sounds like personal problem, doesn't it? Well, I signed up during Christmas break, but haven't done much with it. All I know is that when I logged in this morning, the line "You have no friends" seemed bigger and flashing and very obvious (it probably was the light hitting the screen).
    Anyway, if you are signed up with Frappr, "stick" yourself on my map, won't cha?
    My Frappr


    Here's my Frappr Map. Thanks, Moneybags, for the hint.

    Saturday, January 14, 2006

    New Blog Addition!

    Starting Afresh From Christ is a blog I routinely visit. Franciscan Sister Ava-Maria has wonderful insight. Her words are very soothing at the end of a hectic day. Go visit.

    I have posted a link to the left as well.

    Follow Me

    I'm back! After a very busy week, I have found some time this morning to post something substantial and reflective to the blog.

    Today's readings are very specific. In the first reading, God has Saul anointed king of Israel. No training. No warning. In a phrase, Drop what you are doing Saul and follow me. The Gospel illustrates a similar point. As Jesus is teaching he calls to Levi, among others, and says, "Follow me." And Levi does. Without hesitation.

    It is one thing to say the words, "I will follow you Jesus." In the scheme of things, it is easy to follow Jesus they way we think He wants us to. Doing some of the things we think might be inconvenient and "sacrifices" for Jesus are actually tremendous opportunities and privileges. For example:

    We might feel like going to daily Mass, and it cutting into our schedule and routine, is a sacrifice and therefore pleasing to God. Well, that might be true, but how wonderful it is for us to be able to go to Mass so often! How glorious it is for us to be able to travel in a warm and comfortable car, listening to inspirational Catholic radio or cds, with our families or by ourselves, and be with the Lord Jesus IN PERSON every day! Why wouldn't we do that? That is not a sacrifice.

    A sacrifice is travelling miles on foot, in harsh weather, under the penalty of death, to attend Mass once a month.

    A sacrifice is quitting your job, leaving your family, giving everything you have to the poor and following Jesus.

    A sacrifice is rotting in jail for having the courage to stand up for Jesus in a place where it is illegal.

    We have it very good here. We have truly been blessed in this country. What great opportunities we have been by God!

    Are you ready to get up and go when Jesus walks by you and whispers, "Follow me."

    Wednesday, January 11, 2006

    National De-Lurking Week

    Created by Paper Napkin to encourage readers who are too shy to leave a comment to speak up, De-Lurker Day has been extended to an entire week. That way everyone has a chance to work up the courage to speak up.

    I'll leave this at the top of the blog each day for those who wish to comment...

    Father James Sichko

    I have referred to my pastor of St. Mark Church, Father James Sichko, a few times in in this blog. He is a great homilist! As he mentioned in the school Mass this morning (which my 1st grade daughter read an intention!), Jesus told hundreds of stories. That was the way He got many of his points accross. Similarly, Fr. Sichko often illustrates the points of the Gospel with personal stories of his own. This is one of his many gifts.

    On many occasions, Fr. Sichko will travel around the country as a much sought-after speaker. Many of his stories come from those travels.

    Now you can hear Father Sichko's stories for yourself! He has compiled a set of four cds containing many of his stories which are motivational, spiritual and uplifting.

    If you would like to purchase any or all of his cds, please email him by clicking on his name throughout this post. The cds are $5 each, or $20 for the entire set.

    I'm also putting a link in the left column. Just click on the picture of the cd to email Father Sichko for ordering information.

    I might even be able to talk him into putting a sample on this blog....

    Tuesday, January 10, 2006

    How does this blog look?

    I recently looked at MCR using the Firefox browser and I noticed that my borders were pretty tight. How many of you use Firefox and how many use Explorer? Why would the page come up different in each? Anyone else experience that?

    If you know how, I'd like anyone to "capture" a picture of my blog and email it to me. I'd like to see what you see. Thanks.

    Sporadic Blogging

    Hello faithful readers. I wanted to let everyone know that, though I haven't been blogging as much lately, this has been a great week so far in my prayer life. With an uplifting and insightful email I received from one of my readers, I seem to be out of my "funk".

    The rest of this week is going to be very busy, and while I may not post frequent blogs, I will attempt it. I may, through the magic of my laptop, create blogs ahead of time and post them in the mornings when I get to work.

    Anyway, keep coming back to check. I haven't given up on My Catholic Reflections.

    How do you all at A Catholic Life and Happy Catholic (two blogs I read every day) find the time to post so frequently?

    Monday, January 9, 2006

    St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology: Beginner Course #2; Lesson #2 - 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 Two: Given For You: The Old Testament Story of Sacrifice

    Discussion Questions

    1. What is the first sacrifice recorded in the Bible?

    2. The first sacrifice recorded in the Bible were those of Cain and Able, Adam and Eve's sons (Gen 4:3-4):
      In the course of time Cain brought an offering to the LORD from the fruit of the soil,
      while Abel, for his part, brought one of the best firstlings of his flock...

    3. Who is the first priest mentioned in the Bible?

    4. Melchizedek, king of Salem was the first priest of the "God Most High" (Gen 14:18):
      Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine, and being a priest of God Most High, he blessed Abram with these words:

    5. Why did Moses originally ask Pharaoh for permission to leave Egypt?

    6. Since sacrifice was central to the Israelites' worship of God, Moses asked the Pharaoh of Egypt for permission to go into the desert to make a scarifice. Of course, the Pharaoh refused, and scolded Moses and Aaron for asking such a thing (Ex 5:3,8,17):
      They replied, "The God of the Hebrews has sent us word. Let us go a three days' journey in the desert, that we may offer sacrifice to the LORD, our God; otherwise he will punish us with pestilence or the sword."

      Yet you shall levy upon them the same quota of bricks as they have previously made. Do not reduce it. They are lazy; that is why they are crying, 'Let us go to offer sacrifice to our God.'

      Pharaoh answered, "It is just because you are lazy that you keep saying, 'Let us go and offer sacrifice to the LORD.'

    7. What did the Ark of the Covenant contain?

    8. The Ark of the Covenant contained signs of God's covenant (Heb 9:4) - the tablets of the 10 Commandments (Ex 40:22), Aaron's priestly staff (Nu 17:25), and some of the manna upon which the Israelites fed in the desert (Ex 16:32-33):
      in which were the gold altar of incense and the ark of the covenant entirely covered with gold. In it were the gold jar containing the manna, the staff of Aaron that had sprouted, and the tablets of the covenant.

    9. Where was the Ark housed when Israel became a kingdom?

    10. The Ark was housed in the Temple in Jerusalem when Israel became a kingdom.

    11. What are the five basic types of sacrifice prescribed in the Old Testament?

      • The Holocaust - an entire animal burnt on the altar as a "sweet smelling oblation to the Lord" (Lev 1:3-17, 6:8-13).

      • The Cereal or Grain Offering - milled wheat mixed with oil and incense and usually offered in conjunction with other sacrifices (Lev 2:1-16; 6:14-23; Num 6:14-17; 28:3-6).

      • The Peace Offering - an animal sacrifice in which the fatty parts and kidneys are burnt on the altar and the meat is consumed by the offerer and the priests (Lev 3:1-17; 7:11-36).

      • The Sin Offering - an animal (young bull, goat, lamb, turtledoves, etc.) offered to atone for sin and purifies the sinner (Lev 4:1-5;13: 6:24-30).

      • The Guilt Offering - a ram offered in atonement for desecration or some offense against a neighbor (Lev 5:14-18: 7:1-10).

    12. What is the todah sacrifice?

    13. The Todah is a "thank offering". Psalm 40:1-11 is classified as one of the todah.

    The Weekends

    This past weekend was difficult. While it was relaxing, spending time with my family and going to Mass, it was a difficult time for praying. I slept in both Saturday and Sunday and didn't have the time alone to pray and reflect on the readings like I had planned.

    On Friday I listened to a podcast of Sunday Night: Live with Father Benedict Groschel from the January 1, 2006 broadcast on EWTN and reflected on his discussion of conversion. In fact, it was interesting that Father Sichko touched upon the same topic of conversion in the Homily Saturday afternoon. Both talked about, not necessarily conversion of non-Catholics to Catholocism, but they elaborated on conversion of Catholics within the Church.

    I guess that's what I am going through now - a conversion. The enthusiasm I felt over the Christmas Season as waned - a kind of post-Christmas blues, so to speak. I know I need to pray for the Holy Spirit's guidance and fire on a daily basis - it's just so difficult to do with "everyday life" getting in the way.

    I was up earlier this morning, able to read today's readings and write this post. I hope to post more today and have some time for reflection....Keep me in your prayers.

    Friday, January 6, 2006

    A Comment from ND EnvrioChick

    The following comment by ND EnviroChick to an earlier post of mine - the Cheer Up Charlie video "Pray" - was important enough, I think, to bring forward as a post. So, with her permission:

    The abortion statistics are quite disheartening; I was equally disheartened by the statistics on divorce, HIV, and even the amount of TV that kids watch, particularly since I see what is on TV nowadays. But back to the issue on abortion.

    The New York Times online had an article on illegal abortion in Latin America (where Catholicism is the dominant religion) today. This author was making the argument that criminalizing abortion doesn't decrease the number of abortions occurring, it just increases the mortality rate from illegal abortions. The article suggests that Catholic taboos on both birth control and legalized abortion lead to very high rates of illegal abortion and maternal mortality.

    What struck me about this article, and continues to confuse me about this topic in general, is that people seem to place blame for death by illegal abortion on the Catholic Church for its stance on life... that the Catholic faithful are in this position because of their beliefs, but Catholic beliefs also include abstinence before marriage, and natural family planning as an alternative to birth control for married couples. So I have to wonder: is this a relgious obedience issue because Catholics don't condone birth control and abortion, or is it a LACK of religious obedience issue because young men and women are engaging in activities that lead to "unwanted" pregnancies in the first place?

    Perhaps I am just old, unhip and naive, but I don't understand how a Catholic believer would feel comfortable enough to flout the rules enough to have unwed sex, but not comfortable enough to flout the rules to obtain birth control methods to do so. Yet, according to this article, these same faithful who are pregnant because of the taboo on birth control are then seeking illegal abortions and dying as a result. So the ONLY part of Catholic Magisterium that these faithful follow is lack of use of birth control? I don't buy that.

    It seems to me that if the faithful really were faithful, the abortion rates would plummet and death from illegal abortions would plummet because there would be no need to seek abortion in the first place. It is only when we pick and choose the parts of Catholicism that we WANT to follow and ignore all of the "uncomfortable" or "inconvenient" doctrines and policies that we end up in the kind of situation that we see in Latin America.

    Any Saint Prayer

    Moneybags has generously posted a "Prayer to Venerate Any Saint" for those who were picked by a saint for 2006. He's still taking names for the Saints of the Year project, where a Saint chooses you for the year. He's had some pretty amazing results. Go check it out!

    Wednesday, January 4, 2006

    Are you a Stereotype Maker or Breaker?

    [Listening to: Only One - Cheer Up Charlie - Singles (03:33)]

    I was listening to a podcast The Court Jester pointed me to via Happy Catholic's coment to an earlier post of mine on Catholic music last night. In it Brad DeRosia, lead singer for Cheer Up Charlie made a comment about about 19 minutes into the interview about his struggles when he was considering becoming Catholic. He says:
    For us it was a huge stumbling block when we were thinking about this whole Catholic do we resolve the Catholic" problem....we were Baptists to this point....we thought there was some truth here [in the Catholic Church] we'd go up to somebody who was excited about thier faith and we'd say, "Hey you guys worship Mary!" and they'd go, "No we don't". So you'd keep asking them and they would say, "Well, you got to talk to your priest." That is a stereotype maker, not a stereotype breaker...

    That for me was a core reason I am trying to know more, read more, and pray more. I want to be comfortable and knowledgeable in answering questions others have about the Church.

    It's like computer knowledge. You have heard the phrase, "I know just enough to be dangerous." I knew just enough about the Church and my own faith "to be dangerous" to myslef and to others.

    What are you? Do you know just enough to be dangerous? Are you a stereotype maker? Or have you, as a Catholic, taken the extra step in learning more about what you say you believe, about what you profess to God every Sunday in the Nicen Creed?

    Tuesday, January 3, 2006

    Tagged Once Again

    I want to play kickball now!

    Year End / New Year Meme

    The Year End/New Year meme consists in conducting a brief evaluation of 2005 and then moving on to making plans for 2006. It involves answering these simple questions.

    What was your favorite movie in 2005?
    I don't think I went to the movies in 2005.

    What was your favorite book in 2005?
    Started reading A Lamb's Supper. Liked it the most so far.

    Slightly richerThinner or fatter?
    Fatter. Working on that.

    What kept you sane this past year?
    My wife and family and my "spiritual renewal" that spawned this blog.

    Which personal accomplishment in 2005 are you most pleased with?
    My new position at my new school.

    What resolutions have you made for '06?
    To pray more, to exercise more, to read more Catholic literature, and to eat better and less.

    Which bad habit are most motivated to break?
    To take my physical life, my spiritual life and my family for granted.

    What are you most looking forward to in 2006?
    Growing closer to Christ in the Church.

    Wow, that didn't hurt (much).

    Tag, Happy Catholic, your it.

    I Did Not Know Him

    Well, I found out that if I'm to get up at 5:00 am, I need to go to bed before 11:30 pm. I wasn't able to start my day off like yesterday, but I did get some time in to reflect on today's readings and pray the Novena for the Unborn (day 6).

    Today's Saint of the Day is the Most Holy Name of Jesus. It is interesting that we would focus on Jesus' name today when we see that in today's Gospel, John says, not once, but twice: "I did not know Him." (Jn 1:31-33). In a very real sense, John's Gospel does not have any indication of the kinship between he and Jesus as we see in Luke's Gospel. But John's entire purpose in life was to prepare Israel for Jesus' coming. So, in another sense, John did know Christ much better, I think, than those who may have actually met Him. Having discovered that the real question for reflection is, "Do any of us really know Jesus?"

    I think I was familiar with who Jesus was. I knew His story, or the history of Jesus as any cradle Catholic does. I knew what I needed to do and what was expected of me. I did what I was comfortable doing - and that really didn't include talking about Him or really even saying his name. There, I said it, I was uncomfortable in actually saying "Jesus". But I don't think I really knew Him. In fact, even now, I'm still getting to know Him every day. It's a process, getting to know Jesus. Like with any relationship, knowing of someone and actually knowing them takes effort, time, and proper communication (prayer).

    My Lord Jesus: On this day celebrating Your Most Holy Name, I praise Your Name! I continually long to really know You better. I ask You to forgive me for being afraid to say your Name in the past and to give me the strength and perserverance to proclaim Your Name now and in the future. It is in You Name, Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen.

    Monday, January 2, 2006


    Got this from a friend this afternoon as an email. I'll put it up here to get my 5 quota in...

    When there is nothing left but God, that is when you find out that God is all you need.

    Take 60 seconds and give this a shot! All you do is simply say the following small prayer for the person who sent you this.

    Father, God bless all my friends in whatever it is that You know they may be needing this day! And may their life be full of your peace, prosperity and power as he/she seeks to have a closer relationship with you. Amen.

    Then send it on to five other people, including the one who sent it to you. Within hours you caused a multitude of people to pray for other people. Then sit back and watch the power of God work in your life.

    P. S. Five is good, but more is better.

    Leave a comment so I know you "sent this on", linked back to it, or at least said the prayer.

    On Family and Marriage

    Papa Ratzi Post posted this article on the Vatican's response to Italian politicians wanting to give legal recognition to unmarried couples. The Vatican's response:

    "The family has always been at the center of attention of my venerable predecessors, especially John Paul II," Benedict said in St. Peter's Basilica. "He was convinced, and reiterated it many times, that a crisis within the family comes at the grave detriment of our civilization."

    I did it!

    I woke up this morning at 5:00 (actuall 5:10), walked for 20 minutes while saying the Rosary. Got to work by 6:30. Read and reflected on the readings. Said the Novena for the Protection of the Unborn (day 6). Ready for work at 7:00!

    Praise the Lord!

    Make Straight the Way of the Lord

    Today's readings remind us that, like John, we aren't worthy to untie the straps on the sandals of Jesus. As great and important as John was in proclaiming the coming of the the Lord Jesus, the Messiah, John remained humble and knew his place.

    This reminds me of the homily given last Sunday (actually on Saturday afternoon) by Father Jim Sichko. He told us the story of a gift he received for Christmas - a plaque. The last line of the plaque read, "Lord, help me to stay out of your way."

    The Lord has a plan for each of us, and it our job as proclaimers of the Word that is Jesus to make straight His way. Not to get in His way.

    "Lord Jesus, help me today to know and do Your will. Keep me humble as your servant and give me the strength to proclaim the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ. Through Jesus Christ I pray. Amen."

    As an additional prayer today, as I reflect on the readings, I am also reminded of the the beautiful prayer of St. Francis of Assisi:

    "O Lord, make me an instrument of Thy Peace!
    Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
    Where there is injury, pardon.
    Where there is discord, harmony.
    Where there is doubt, faith.
    Where there is despair, hope.
    Where there is darkness, light.
    Where there is sorrow, joy.

    Oh Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
    to be understood as to understand;
    to be loved as to love;
    for it is in giving that we receive;
    it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
    and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life."

    Have a great day everyone.

    Sunday, January 1, 2006

    Added a Blog

    Found another blog I really enjoy. SFO Mom - check it out.

    New Year.....

    Well, back to work tomorrow. Actually, I was working last week as well, but tomorrow the students and teachers/staff are back. The break was nice - allowed me to create this blog and take on some life-changing challenges. Just a coincidence that it is the beginning of 2006 (right, nothing seems to be a coincidence lately - everything has a purpose). Hopefully I'll be able to continue to blog and pray the way I intend starting tomorrow.

    My plan is:

    • Wake up at 5:00

    • Walk on the treadmill (which I haven't used since we bought it in 12 months ago)

    • Say the Rosary while I walk

    • Take shower and get ready for work

    • Read the daily readings and blog (either at home or work)

    • Be ready for work at 7:00 am

    We'll see how it plays out tomorrow morning. I do know that yesterday I had time to do a Rosary, continue the Novena for the unborn that Moneybags initiated, and reflect on the Readings, and blog my reflection and had a great day! Today, though, I woke up late (up too late on NY Eve) and didn't have my prayer time this morning. I did do the Novena, and read the Readings, but was not able to reflect or blog that reflection and had an OK day.

    Keep me in your prayers, and I will keep you in mine.

    Minute Meditation - Collection

    The following Minute Meditations posts come from Every Day is a Gift.

    I have enhanced each post with a picture of the person/saint who is quoted from each daily meditation and a link to the Bible quotation. Enjoy.

    Minute Meditations - February 25
    Minute Meditations - November 12
    Minute Meditations - November 11
    Minute Meditations - September 17
    Minute Meditations - September1
    Minute Meditations - August 26
    Minute Meditations - August 22
    Minute Meditations - August 12
    Minute Meditations - August 9
    Minute Meditations - August 2
    Minute Meditations - August 1
    Minute Meditations - July 31
    Minute Meditations - July 21
    Minute Meditations - July 20
    Minute Meditations - July 19
    Minute Meditations - July 18
    Minute Meditations - July 17
    Minute Meditations - July 13
    Minute Meditations - July 10
    Minute Meditations - July 3
    Minute Meditations - July 2
    Minute Meditations - July 1
    Minute Meditations - June 30
    Minute Meditations - June 29
    Minute Meditations - June 26
    Minute Meditations - June 23
    Minute Meditations - June 9
    Minute Meditations - June 7
    Minute Meditations - June 6
    Minute Meditations - June 4
    Minute Meditations - May 27
    Minute Meditations - May 24
    Minute Meditations - May 20
    Minute Meditations - April 29
    Minute Meditations - April 7
    Minute Meditations - April 6
    Minute Meditations - April 5

    From My Inbox - Collection

    The following are links to posts I created from items I received via email from a variety of sources.