When it comes to St. Valentine’s or St. Patrick’s Day, it seems everyone is Catholic. But when our culture takes these saints and turns their feast days into secular celebrations of fuzzy feelings or constant drinking the history of these saints can be forgotten.
St. Patrick, whom we remember on March 17th, is one of the most well known saints in our world today. The St. Patrick that we as Catholics celebrate was kidnapped as a teenager and sent from the British mainland to Ireland as a slave. He escaped back to Britain after several years, became a priest and then a bishop, returning to Ireland and helping to convert the people to Christianity.
So today, even if you’re dressing in green, wearing shamrock jewelry or go out with your friends, consider praying to St. Patrick and asking for his intercession in your life, particularly in these final few weeks of Lent.
How is your Lent going? Complaining much? In the Magnificat Lenten Companion for this year, Dr. Regis Martin had a great remark from Friday’s reflection. In regard to what he’d give up for Lent over the years, his wife would say that it doesn’t matter what you give up, as long as you give up grumbling about it.
As we approach the one-week mark of Lent, think about how you’ve handled your sacrifices so far. Have you been able to give up complaining about them or do you vent to anyone within hearing range about how difficult it is?
If you fall, pick yourself back up. The journey doesn’t end because you stumble and fall on the path. Blessed Lent!
ABC Network’s Once Upon A Time mixes science, magic and contemporary American life, as fairytale characters like Little Red Riding Hood and Snow White are banished, without memories of their old lives, by the Evil Queen to a place where, she says, there are no happy endings. A place that turns out to be a town in Maine called Storybrooke.
At this point in the series the characters have their memories back from their fairytale lives and magic has grown stronger.
In the most recent episode, “In the Name of the Brother,” a moral dilemma arises between some of the main characters over whether or not to help save the life of an outsider whose life is in danger after a car accident. One of the characters was wielding magic at the time of the accident and it is feared that this stranger will reveal the secrets of Storybrooke to the outside world.
The arguments go on about sacrificing his life in order to spare the town. Another character says that there is no real threat now and that any upcoming threats will be dealt with as they arise.
In our real world we are facing similar problems over upholding the dignity of every human life and the temptation to be only concerned with how we are inconvenienced.
Once Upon A Time is also very strong on the themes of the desire for love, the hope of redemption and the dangers of magic.
What have you seen on television recently that dealt with end-of-life issues? Was the dignity of every human life upheld?
In Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Letter Porta Fidei, Our Holy Father declared a “Year of Faith” from October 11, 2012, to November 24, 2013. During this year the Faithful are called to learn more about the Catholic Church and grow deeper in their love for Christ.
The Year of Faith began on the fiftieth anniversary of the beginning of the Second Vatican Council and the twentieth anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. We are encouraged this year to especially focus on studying the Catechism and the documents of Vatican II.
Many are heartbroken over the decision their family members and friends have made to leave the Church. Let’s try to make the most of this Year of Faith for ourselves and others by studying up on our Faith and praying more fervently for those we love who have left Holy Mother Church.
Every year at this time the controversy arises regarding greetings: Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Season’s Greetings, etc.
The default “Merry Christmas” so common to our culture a generation or two ago has typically been replaced in stores and other businesses by the generic “Happy Holidays” greeting.
Some Christians prefer to respond to “Happy Holidays” with a simple and defeated, “You too.” Others will push a “Merry Christmas” out or a “Jesus is the reason for the season” reminder. There isn’t any obligatory phrase but if you take one of the latter routes, try to make sure it comes off charitably. Perhaps by even including a “Thank you” before your “Merry Christmas.”
Recently I discovered a pro-active way of dealing with this. And so far it hasn’t failed. Simply make it a point to be the first of the two to greet. By wishing a “Merry Christmas” I’ve received no other response than a “You too” in reply. That way the “Merry Christmas” is out there, it can’t be taken as an obnoxious correction and you’ve proclaimed what you celebrate at this time of year in a little act of faith and perhaps even evangelization.
What attitude do you have toward the greetings of the season and how do you deal with them?
Pennsylvania native Taylor Swift is one of the most well known pop/country female singers on stage today. Her fourth album, Red, was released in October and earned the highest ranking in first week sales since 2002.
In a society where the airwaves are saturated with female artists singing for shock value or to make political statements, Taylor’s music sticks to simple themes — being in love, losing love, and celebrating life.
While the album certainly shouldn’t be canonized (even if that were possible), her songs are very refreshing in this age of false feminism and uncontrollable romantic urges.
Two songs on Red that particularly capture the power of self-control and the beauty in being a woman are “I Almost Do” and “Begin Again.”
Many love songs we hear today contain messages about loving someone or needing someone too much to stay away from him or her. But in “I Almost Do” Taylor sings to a former lover about how much she wants to talk to him when he contacts her but that the situation is too difficult and so she doesn’t respond.
In “Begin Again,” Taylor mentions how she appreciates her new love interest being a gentleman at a cafe, helping her into her chair. She sees the beauty in being a woman and in letting a guy do little things for her.
What other songs have you heard recently that celebrate the God-given differences between men and women?
Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus+, social networks are some of the most popular sites online. One aspect similar between them is the ability to post brief updates on your thoughts and life. It’s a quick way to find out what’s up with the people you’re most interested in checking up on. They could be anyone from your co-workers, friends, relatives or high school classmates you haven’t talked to face-to-face in more than 20 years.
There are many positive and negative aspects to social networks, but for now let’s just take the simple updates (also known as microblogs).
There seem to be a few general categories for these types of updates:
1.) Good news
2.) Neutral news
3.) Bad news
4.) Calls to action
Certainly it can be a fine thing to share the above types of news with others, but understanding the types you tend to write will help you better understand yourself and your thinking.
Do you tend to share the good stuff that happens to you? Does it make you feel a bit superior or feel better about yourself? Are you simply grandstanding without realizing it?
In regard to neutral news, to what end do you announce on the Internet your full itinerary for the day? Is social networking ingrained in you? Are you lonely and want to share the little things in your life with others through status updates?
Do you relate bad news for people to empathize with you? Is it a way to wallow in your own sorrows?
Do you promote candidates or issues you feel strongly about? Do you try to rally the troops? Out of all forms of status updates out there, these could be the most beneficial. Of course, it depends on how often you do it and if others in your social network are of the same mindset. But surely social networks have helped to strengthen people in their convictions as well as to divide them.
It’s one thing to know how you operate (be it with social networks or other aspects of your life) and it’s another to know why you operate a certain way. Take some time to think about why you post what you do. Think about the type of post you gravitate toward. It may help your personal improvement and attitude on life.
It’s been about a year since the new translation of the Roman Missal took effect. Is your opinion less or more favorable than earlier on? Are there parts you love while you still have trouble with others?
The Gloria and the Nicene Creed still get me, but I got the hang of pretty much everything else — except the music, apparently. During last month’s fall fund drive Mass I realized I have no clue how to sing the new translation parts. And I quickly discovered that I wasn’t the only one. If your parish is singing them regularly, be grateful. For the rest of us it may take much longer to learn.
On November 10 we celebrate the feast day of St. Leo the Great.
St. Leo was born in Tuscany, Italy, around 400 AD. He was pope at the time Attila the Hun invaded Rome. As St. Leo pleaded with him to leave Rome unharmed, Attila had a threatening vision and left the city in peace. St. Leo is also one of the 33 Doctors of the Church.
The following is an excerpt from one of St. Leo’s sermons.
Although the universal Church of God is constituted of distinct orders of members, still, in spite of the many parts of its holy body, the Church subsists as an integral whole, just as the Apostle says: “We are all one in Christ,” nor is anyone separated from the office of another in such a way that a lower group has no connection with the head.
In the unity of faith and baptism, our community is then undivided. There is a common dignity as the apostle Peter says in these words: “And you are built up as living stones into spiritual houses, a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices which are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
And again: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of election.” For all, regenerated in Christ, as made kings by the sign of the cross. They are consecrated priests by the oil of the Holy Spirit, so that beyond the special service of our ministry as priests, all spiritual and mature Christians know that they are a royal race and are sharers in the office of the priesthood. For what is more king-like than to find yourself ruler over your body after having surrendered your soul to God? And what is more priestly than to promise the Lord a pure conscience and to offer him in love unblemished victims on the altar of one’s heart?
In spite of the flashy, high tech entertainment we receive through film, television, the Internet and tiny music players, theater is still preserved through playhouses, Broadway shows and various stage productions.
Catholics are taking advantage of theater to evangelize while entertaining. The founder and president of St. Luke Productions, Leonardo Defilippis, performs his one-man act plays around the nation. Just this month, with his performance of the life of St. Maximilian Kolbe, he’s covering parts of Washington, South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado and Texas.
You may be familiar with the production company because of its film Thérèse, based on the life of St. Thérèse of Lisieux.
Kevin O’Brien is the founder and artistic director of The Theater of the Word, Inc. He hosts the EWTN television program The Theater of the Word and travels the country performing evangelistic plays as part of his ministry. His productions include “Adam and Eve Go to Marriage Counseling,” “The Body of Christ,” and “The Journey of St. Paul.” This month his itinerary takes him to Illinois, Missouri and Maryland.
Have you seen Leonardo or Kevin in live performances? What do you think of this form of evangelistic entertainment?