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Archive for June, 2007

*That a beautiful little Catholic Parish resides less than a mile from our family condo. Can you just imagine my glee?! 🙂 All these years of traveling to that same vacation spot and I never realized the church was there!! The Mass was slightly different than what we’re used to….a little more latin, but that was a pleasant surprise for us.

*That I really can feel at home anywhere, in any Catholic Church. Much of the population in Fort Lauderdale is Latino so occasionally the priest would say something in English and repeat it in Spanish but the form of the Mass was very familiar.

*That doughnuts seem to be the preferred food following Mass during the coffee/fellowship time at parishes up and down the eastern seaboard.

*That not all parishes use the same type of wine. (I’m convinced they were using a dessert wine…..quite a surprise for the palate!) On a related note, the “Runningkids” claim the consecrated host (wafer) was tastier in Florida. I think they’re just looking for an excuse to go back sooner!

*That hotter daytime temperatures and the amount of “flesh revealing” apparel worn at Mass have a direct correlation. (It’s good to be back home!)

*That Rosarys with glow-in-the-dark beads really do exist.

*That to be on my knees as the bread and wine are consecrated into the body and blood of Jesus is a humbling and moving experience no matter where I am or what language is being spoken. Jesus is the same – yesterday, today, tomorrow, here, there, and everywhere.

It was a great trip but it’s also always good to be home. Now…….to tackle the laundry. 😉

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Headed South

Later this week we will travel south to Florida for our family vacation. Every summer, we head to Ft. Lauderdale for a week, give or take a few days. One year ago, it was on those same sandy beaches I was walking as I was coming to grips with the realization that the Catholic Church might be a very real and unavoidable option for me. The fact that I spent much of the week glued to EWTN after the kids were in bed- we don’t get cable at home – should have been my first clue!

This will be our first trip as a Catholic Christian family and, hence, our first real “taste” of the universality of the Catholic Church. I’ll confess, in the past, that even though we vacation in the same spot every summer, we never went to the effort of finding a church there. Maybe it’s because it’s not so easy to find an Anglican Church or maybe we weren’t sure we would be comfortable with the worship style of the many protestant churches nearby. This time I am excited to go to Mass on vacation. We may still be uncomfortable with the worship style but that’s not what we’re after. We will be seeking the sacraments. It amazes me that anywhere along our trek from our state to Florida, we can stop at any number of Catholic Churches and be at home. This year, that is one of the most exciting aspects of our vacation for me because the universality of Catholicism is partly what drew us to it.

I don’t know how much I’ll post while away, if at all. During the day, we will obviously be on the beach and in the evening, it will just depend on what’s showing on EWTN! 🙂

For the traveling Catholics out there, this website gives Mass times for cities nationwide. I’m secretly hoping I can figure out a way to get here, to Fr. Longenecker’s parish for Mass.

Bon Voyage!

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There is a void that I carry in my heart. At one time, it was a huge and painful distraction in my life. It doesn’t matter what, specifically, my void was is because you may have one too. The details may be different but our emotions are probably very similar. All of us have experienced disappointment or unfulfilled desires in some way or another. I remember noticing as I became more and more Catholic, that this tender place in me grew less and less raw. I truly believe it was because the fullness and wonder of all God had for me in His Church and in His sacraments filled my unmet longing and even made it pale in comparison. It didn’t take the place of it, but it did satisfy my soul deeply and gave me profound peace. (Please don’t think I’m saying it isn’t possible to experience the Lord’s peace outside of the Catholic Church. There were definitely times as a non-Catholic Christian when I experienced God’s peace but never to this degree of depth and healing.)

The Catholic Church has much to say on suffering. Recently I decided I wanted to understand it better so I bought a copy of Does Suffering Make Sense? by Russell Shaw.

I’m not even half way through with it yet but here are a few snippets:

“…the world…is incomplete, a less-than-perfect place where bad things happen not because of divine malevolence but because of the incompleteness of creation” pg. 29

“we tend to regard suffering, not evil, as the worst thing there is and to be more anxious to avoid the former than the latter” pg. 32

Does this guy know me?!? 😉

“In fact, not only does God bring good out of evil, he brings about a greater good than if the evil had never occurred. One might say that God is constantly remodeling creation in order to draw it through the chaos and pain of evil to a state of perfection higher than if his original plan had been left intact, uncontradicted by the evil choices of creatures and the consequences flowing from them.” pg. 34

Looking back, I can see this in my life but it’s so hard when you’re in the midst of it.

“The teaching of the beatitudes is that suffering and happiness are not incompatible; suffering can contribute to happiness. It is true that the happiness of those who suffer is manifestly, not complete: fulfillment comes only in Heaven. But the happiness of those who suffer for love of God begins here below.” pg. 56

I’m just so amazed by God’s trustworthiness. I have a friend who likes to say, “God is good. All the time, God is good.” So true, so true.

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We’re in sight of the finish line. I sat down last week and strategically counted out how many more days of school we need to do until we can close up those grammar books and place them on the shelves to gather dust for the summer. No, I’m not one of those year-’round-we’re-always-in-learning-mode moms. I know they exist because they write inspiring books and have great blogs. I just don’t know any of them personally. (OK, maybe one – I think she has a giant tadpole on her kitchen counter beside her rack of freshly baked bread! 😉 ) Anyway, just mere hours after my impressive calculations were complete……I had an idea….one that would add more days on to our studies. NO! I LOVE the sensation of my brain turning to mush as I read my Southern Living Magazine while the Runningkids splash in the pool! But I ask you (as I was asking myself when my great idea hit) how can our study of Ancient Civilizations and the Early Church be complete without at least a brief overview of the heresies that existed during that time!?!?

“Why study the heresies,” you wonder?

Think of the person you most love. (Jesus doesn’t count for this exercise.) Now imagine folks are spreading lies about this person. These lies are subtle and often difficult to distinguish from the truth…but they’re still lies. You would certainly want to defend your beloved with more than a simple “Hey, that’s not true!” You would want to understand the lies so that your defense could be truthful, specific, and persuasive.

“And count the forbearance of our Lord as salvation. So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures.” 2 Peter 3:15-16

I doubt any of these men who were twisting scripture saw himself as ignorant or unstable. In fact, I would assume many of these men were probably well-meaning, good, passionate men in search of the truth. I’m sure they thought they were speaking the truth in love – perhaps even doing the Church a favor….when actually they were tweaking the truth. I think that’s frightening. And that’s why it’s important to me that I and the Runningkids understand the Great Heresies that plagued the Early Church. These were attacks on Jesus, our beloved Savior, and on Christianity. Variations of some of these heresies still exist today, although they may go by a different name. We need to be able to recognize them.

Initially I thought this post would be just a quick overview of some of the heresies but it became clear that explaining heresy is the stuff from which entire books are written. So I now have Hiliare Belloc’s Great Heresies on the way to me from Amazon.com. In fact, an email in my inbox today is telling me it will arrive at my door just days before our family heads south, to sunny Florida, for a week – nothing like a good book about heresy for a little brain candy by the pool, huh? I think I’ll pack my Southern Living just in case! 😉

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