Listen to God's voice at the foot of the crucifix." ~St. Gaspar del Bufaro~

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Hit The Jackpot With Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious!

Are you aching to fling open the doors of your womanly heart?
Are you dying to discover the recesses of your soul?
If the answer is "Yes," this book is for you!
Ok, ok, even if you aren't feeling all that dramatic, in my humble opinion, it's still a treasure chest of fine jewels, just waiting to be discovered...Truly, it is.
Needless to say, this book just hit the top of my favorite spiritual book list!
If you are a Catholic Mom or blogger, you may have seen it floating around during it's April Blog Tour.?  I didn't get around to read very many of the reviews, myself, but let's just say the Holy Spirit plopped it right down in my lap!  
It also landed nicely in the laps of 2 other dear friends as we were discussing the idea of reading a spiritual book together:)

We got together today to chat about it and the consensus...We all loved it!
It's deep, truthful, easy to follow, and straightforward.
In general, I think we all agreed that Pat Gohn was absolutely genius in her writing of this book, celebrating the gift of Catholic womanhood.  We hit the jackpot as we sifted through the many jewels of our faith, woven so naturally in the gift of femininity.

The core of the book is learning to live from the inside out, wrapped beautifully in a mantle of humility, specially designed by our Blessed Mother.
All three of us would recommend this book to Catholic women of every age and all women seeking the real meaning of their womanhood. 
In summary, one of my dear friends noted that if "women banded together in the fashion of this book, we could restore human dignity in the world.  The potential is at our fingertips..."
How's that for a challenge?
"Each woman's life, well-lived, might be the best gospel anyone will ever read."
(One of my favorite quotes from the book:)
Thank you, Pat Gohn!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Being Catholic And 3 Reasons We Are Standing Behind Boy Scouts

~Memorial Day, 2013~
The new ruling that the Boy Scouts of America will not discriminate against homosexual preference has been quite the talk in our family and in many media sources, since the recent decision.  If you haven't read up on it, you can read more and refer to the National Catholic Committee On Scouting and the ruling which states: The BSA proposed in its resolution that "no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone." Its membership standards for adult leaders remain unchanged.

It's no secret that our family is heavily involved in scouting.  My husband is the current Scout Master (Head Adult Leader) for our local troop, our oldest son is an Eagle Scout and 2 more sons are on their  way, God willing.  We have always believed in the value of scouting and it's moral ideals, hence our leadership and strong involvement.  In other words, we have good reason to be interested in this decision.  
When I first heard about the ruling, I admit that I was angry.  Mostly, angry that we even have to bring sexuality into play.  In our oversexed society, I really get sick of it.  Especially in a place that it shouldn't even be an issue, like in organizations that promote higher moral standards.  It did feel like an attack, to be honest.  Then my anger quickly turned to frustration and sadness as I read many Catholic and Christian articles and opinions that seemed very Un-Christian, legalistic, and downright hateful.  

As my husband and I delved into conversation and decision making for our family, we were thankful that the Boy Scouts of America weren't changing curriculum or funding sources, much like the Girl Scouts did in funding Planned Parenthood and promoting it in their curriculum.  The two decisions really can't be lumped into the same category.  Funding an organization that kills human beings made the easy boycott of the Girl Scouts, switching to American Heritage Girls for our daughters.
In this case, we came up with 3 reasons why we aren't jumping ship.  For now, we're standing behind the Boy Scouts of America.  

1.   As Catholics, the first and most important reason is Church teaching. More than ever, we are thankful to be Catholic...Thankful for a Church that has given us guidance for over 2000 years.  We consider ourselves devout Catholics.  NOT in the sense that we are perfect by any means but that we do our best to live out the fullness of the Church teachings.  It isn't easy and we do fail, but we do our best...And we keep trying.  In this sense, we turn to our church, trusting her to teach us how to live in the world.  

In regards to the homosexual act, itself, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

"Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex.  It has taken a great variety of forms through centuries and in different cultures.  It's psychological genesis remains largely unexplained.  Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as grave depravity, tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.  They are contrary to the natural law.  They close the sexual act to the gift of life.  They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity.  Under no circumstances can they be approved. CCC 2357"

Considering the act itself is not the issue at hand, we kept reading.  The next paragraph of the Catechism undeniably addresses the tendencies.  This was the "kicker" that shouted to our consciences: 

"The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible.  This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial.  They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity,  Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.  These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition." CCC 2358

There it is clearly stated that we are not to discriminate against same-sex attraction.  My husband, as the current Scout Leader felt strongly about this calling and direction for our family.  Here we have the opportunity to live out our faith, truly as God has asked us to do, with respect, compassion, and sensitivity to all persons.

Now sometimes as parents and adults, it's one thing.  But we can be Papa and Mama bears when it comes to protecting our children.  Ultimately, we understand that having a same sex attraction might be an orientation but it's not a predatory disease.  For my husband and I, we feel it is our responsibility to teach our children about the consequences of all sin and how best to strive for Christian perfection, often in a world that makes this very difficult.   However, it would be a huge judgement on our part if we assumed that all people who experienced same-sex attraction (especially children) were acting upon it.  Yes they may be struggling...As the Catechism teaches, it can be a heavy cross to bear, much like many sins can be, including our own.

Lest we forget that we are all sinners.  Strike me down now if I should ever believe that those with same sex attraction were lesser human beings than I or not created in the image and likeness of God.  Everyone deserves to be treated with human dignity and there by His grace of God we go.  We are not so proud to think that this ruling would effect our children any more than the threat of being in the presence of children from broken homes or coming from any other place of moral imperfection. 

2.  For our family, the benefits outweigh the risks.  In our local troop, the good adult leaders that our sons have been exposed to, far outweigh any negative influences.  They are good men that have influenced the character of our sons in numerously positive ways, really beyond measure. We do not take for granted the blessings we've received.

The ruling that scouts will not be excluded based on sexual preference is one issue but the Boy Scouts have not changed their pledge to keep up their standards of behavior. They are called to be morally straight in the sense that ideally, scouts aren't acting upon or engaging in any sexual activity, regardless of orientation.  

We have also heard people discussing fear about sleeping arrangements on outings.  Our experience is that lots of kids don't want to sleep in a tent with other kids based on many personality preferences and differences. This kind of juggling isn't a new concept.  Once again the benefits outweigh the risks.
3. You can't win a battle from the outside.  As 2 former military people, my husband and I both know that you only retreat for 2 reasons...1) to give up ground  or 2) to refortify your position and move forward again.  The bottom line for us is that we are not ready to give up our ground.  The many benefits that Scouting offers, far outweighs the issues at hand.  Retreating does far more harm, in our case, than moving forward as the salt and light that we are called to be as good Christian soldiers, even in organizations that aren't necessarily Christian. 
Boy Scouts of America does not proclaim to be Christian but embraces the spirituality of many denominations with a belief in God.  Staying with the Scouts lends us an opportunity to shed light and be a positive example to our fellow man.  Sometimes this, alone, is good practice and it's easier said than done!
Many people claim that this is only the beginning of a "breakdown" or continued assault against the organization.  
At this moment in time, we just aren't willing to make assumptions.  Instead, we choose to see it as a continued opportunity to be tolerant and loving of many different types of people.  This within itself is not a new challenge for us or our children, regardless of sexual orientation.  Loving our neighbor, while not compromising our beliefs, isn't so easy.  Sometimes, it's a huge trial right within the folds of our own church, where the odor of judgement can choke the best of us! 
Referring to Mother Teresa, a spiritual warrior and lover of the dignity of the human person:
 "If you judge people, you have no time to love them."
To be honest, I'm frightened to post this, lest I be judged...

But I'm willing to take the risk as we just aren't giving up on an organization worth fighting for!

Here is another response regarding the new policy.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Happy Mama...

Need I say more?
Feeling blessed with all the chicks in the nest:)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Fruit and Fuel of the Holy Spirit

A generous parish family has a Pentecost party every year.
It's always nice to socialize with church families and celebrate one of the biggest Church feast days of the year, next to Easter of course.  
I like to look at it like a "coming out" party.  The apostles could finally come out of their fearful hiding places because the Holy Spirit gave them the courage to move forward, live their faith, and spread the Good News.

We have the most amazing strawberries at a local fruit stand, practically walking distance from our house!  
I thought this fruity Holy Spirit dove was a fun thing to bring to the party.  It was a super simple design:) It also serves as a visual reminder that the Holy Spirit fuels us to come out of our own hiding places.
I shared it over at Catholic Cuisine as an idea to celebrate Confirmation as well.
(I'm making it again for my son's Confirmation party this weekend)
Just as our dear priest said in his homily, Pentecost is not just a thing of the past, it's the here and now.
For that reason, Pentecost is a great reminder for all Christians to come out and live Godly examples...Not always in words but in actions.
I know for me, it's a great time to get motivated when sometimes it's just easier to hunker down and not "go out" of my comfortable box, so to speak.
The Holy Spirit helps me get unstuck when I get mired down and gives me the fuel in my soul tank to live as I should.  Without it, I'm on E, for empty!
+May the force (of the Holy Spirit) be with you, too!+

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Soul Stamp

For selfish reasons, I just love when my children receive a new Sacrament.  Not only do they receive abundant graces themselves, it's also an opportunity for the whole family to strengthen our faith...Most importantly, we, the parents!  As Catholics, we are not "once saved." We are saved through our Baptism, of course, but our salvation is an ongoing process; We believe our lives are a series of constant and continual conversions.  The Sacraments are one of many blessed opportunities to experience a new conversion, to revisit the gifts of our faith, and renew our commitment to the greatest Giver.
I've heard it said before that "Once a Catholic, always a Catholic." It's no wonder when we receive a permanent, indelible mark on our souls, received through the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation.  From these special moments forward, we are always recognizable by the Father...And the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  We are loved. Soul Stamp! Permanent gifts are given. 
Of course we have free will not to practice our Catholic faith but in doing so, we deny such beautiful gifts so lavishly poured upon us.   For goodness sakes, it makes sense that we aren't at peace until we are back on the home page. We are restless until we rest with God. {Home in the Church}.  (St. Augustine) 
In a nutshell, we are marked by God. We are His forever. Our souls are stamped. He loves us so much that he gave us many gifts through the Sacraments...Not just one gift but many. Whoa, I saw this in a new way ...A realization of the many gifts freely given to us by God Himself, specifically through the Sacrament of Baptism and strengthened in Confirmation.  How many times have I squandered these gifts? Oh My!  Yes, I was "one of those."

There were times in my life that I ignored the gifts and even so much as tried to send them back.  Nope, didn't work.  The gifts remained.  They sat there waiting for me to look at them, dig down deep, open them up, adore them, be grateful for them.  God waited patiently and lovingly, as He always does for his children.  He never takes back His gifts or His soul stamp.   

His mercy endures forever.
Now I do my best to appreciate those gifts, hoping to never take them for granted again. As my second son prepared for his Confirmation, I was reading about the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit.  They jumped out at me, not just as words to memorize for Catechesis, but vitamins to strengthen us for our journey.  They're spiritual self-help, real, tangible, instructions and helpful hints for how to live.  I'm saying that again for myself...How to live.  We aren't just Catholics by name but it's how we live our lives that count.  I'm always trying to talk the talk to my children while most importantly, reminding myself that I need to walk the walk, live by example.  Note to self: Children watch more than they listen! 
(Can you tell they aren't listening?:)
In the midst of keeping things real, we were really excited as the time came for our son to receive the Holy Spirit. 
Everyone was ready and eager for this exciting day.  
Ohhhh, what a very special moment it was...
His soul was stamped and mine was dusted off and shined up again.
A faith ignited,
A faith renewed.
"It was not you who chose me, says the Lord, but I who chose you."~John 15:16~

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Topsy, Turvy, Terrific!

May is here already!
 Time is zooming by, as usual.  
The weather where we live makes me want to be outside all. the. time.  I know that is such a blessing when God's playground hollers for our company.
we found a park nearby that we have promised to visit at least once a week.  The readers in the family want to make it their new reading nook.

"Some" of us had a fun OUTing, there recently.
While missing the other members of the family, we still made the best of things:)
I really *love* how these photos turned out...
But there's one, little, "if only."  "If only" our whole family unit were in them!
Can I just say the I really miss those days when all 5 kids were in every photo?
It has me feeling topsy turvy.  
I know that time in our life has officially passed but I just miss it.
It's a new phase now...A new place.
We have a young adult growing out of his teens this year and an older child who is quickly growing into a young adult.  At the same time, we still have youngers who are still sweet and innocent, though growing just as quickly.  I am really, really, trying to savor every moment!
As for precious moments, this Mama recently had a lovely opportunity to visit our college son.  He's doing great and we are so proud of him:)  He's on the Dean's list and heading to Rome for a semester in August...
[This college has an amazing campus of its own right outside of Rome!]
I have to say that it is an amazing blessing to witness your own children living so much better (including making better decisions) than you did at their age!  
I am beyond grateful.
My oldest daughter went along to be my travel buddy and we had fabulous mother-daughter time!
We arrived just in time to see the last of the famous Texas Blue Bonnets (State Wildflower) in bloom.  They are so pretty!
These 2 photos were taken on my son's campus.  I just love "the tower" in the background...Students call it the beacon of hope:)
Princess loved experiencing her first college campus!  

Big brother enjoyed showing us around...
He loves the intimate class {round table} setting.
Princess loved the peaceful surroundings:)

A bonus to our travels was a visit with some Texas friends.  Patty and I met in the blog world and connected "real life" when our son first left for this college near her home. It's so fun to meet a fellow blogger and even more of a blessing to form a lovely friendship.  As Patty said herself:  "Friends are good medicine."  True indeed.  
God places just the right people in our paths according to His good timing and plan.
One of the neat things about this time around was that some of our children got to meet up in "girly heaven."  
Can you guess where?
It was such a fun morning, to say the least! This bunch is a sweet family to hang out with, let me tell ya:) And the boys DID survive! *wink*
With the tides of change, bonus blessings always abound...

Speaking of... This trip I finally got to meet Charlotte, from Waltzing Matilda!  We met prior to and (had the chance to chat) after a beautiful Cistercian Mass near the college campus.  {The college my son is attending is also the Alma Mater for Charlotte and her husband:)} It won't come as a surprise that she and her family are just beautiful, both inside and outside the blogging world! 
There are so many of you that I'd love to meet!  Maybe someday... If not in this world, maybe the next:)
It was a wonderful trip with good memories to cherish.
For now, I will be happy with the topsy turvy.  
We might not always be together but together we will always be.
That's the goal, at least:)
Through it all, I'm finding that even the topsy turvy is pretty darned terrific!
+God is good+

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