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Showing posts from October, 2009

Respect Life: Health Care Reform - Contact your Senators & Representatives Today

As we observe the end of Respect Life month, the House released their 1,990 page Health Care Reform bill that most decidedly does not respect life. In an unprecedented move, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USSCB) has delivered a solid written statement to all  Catholic parishes and congregations asking them to strongly send a message   to their U.S. Senators and U.S Representatives against the Health Care Reform bills in both houses of Congress.  Catholics should urge their political representatives to vote against the bills in their current form. The motivation of the USCCB is that they support health care reform that respects the life and dignity of all people, and these bills are in direct contradiction to that mission.  Congress, in drafting these bills, rejected several amendments that included bans on taxpayer funded abortion and a strong conscience clause to protect health care workers. Under the current health care reform bills, your tax dollars will go

Happy Birthday Stellan

In early July 2008, the woman we know as MckMama went for her routine 20-week ultrasound for her fourth pregnancy. She discovered that there was a problem with the baby's heart. From that moment forward, this blogging mother of MSC ( many small children; she has four) shared with her friends her fear, worries, determination, strength, and humbling faith. Through word of mouth, her blog grew beyond expectations. There is a whole community that follows McKMama via her blog or twitter. I've posted about her before during one of Stellan's previous hospitalizations. Two days ago Stellan's heart flipped into prolonged SVT and again things look very serious for him. I keep thinking about this "miracle baby." When they first learned about his heart condition, the doctors said they were 95% certain that he would be stillborn . Very few medical professionals actually thought this child would survive his birth (today, one year ago). Miraculously, he was born alive...

Urban Sprawl

While Lisa and I were growing up on the north side of Houston, our parents would occasionally shake their head wonderingly and say, “I remember when all of this was trees and the road nothing but a two-lane farm-to-market.” At the time, the county began a project that widened the FM from four to seven lanes across. Now, twenty plus years later, that area has bloomed and wilted, with dense commercial development past its prime. On a recent visit to my brother-in-law’s home in North Texas, we drove to Fort Worth, heading across on a road that I used to drive regularly to attend graduate school seventeen years ago. I remember well the two-lane blacktop with a wide shoulder where farm trucks and occasionally an 18-wheeler would pull over to let you pass. For two years I watched the changing seasons of sorghum, corn, and cotton being planted and harvested. Farmhouses dotted the landscape every few miles, especially this one little white house sitting on a slight rise surrounded by an ocea

Joy of a New Parish

My family currently belongs to a new parish that began celebrating mass as a community 16 months ago.  Moving from a parish with over 6,000 families to one that started with less than 100 was an eye opening shock to my system.  Our masses are small, personal with a nice sense of community in a gymnasium full of workout equipment.  The altar sits underneath the basketball hoop with our chairs lined up on the court. There are definitely perks to belonging to a growing parish, which now boasts almost 500 families.  We now have a CCE program, 3 masses with a separate choir for each, children’s liturgy, weekly adoration, a ladies guild and a wonderful group of Knights.    As the “amenities” keep growing, I think back to the churches I came from and remember how they felt.  And, as much as I love all the growth and new things offered, the “amenities” aren’t the reason to attend a church or belong to a parish.   It is the sense of spiritual community and family that makes me want to celebra

A Survivor from the Lost Generation of Catholics

The most recent book in my huge nightstand bookstack for me to finish reading was, “ A Survivor from the Lost Generation of Catholics” by Traci Matheu .   My interest in reading this book came about when I heard Lisa Hendey interview the author on Catholic Moments in 2008. Since I’m from that same generation of “lost Catholics” the topic really piqued my interest.  The author used this book as a personal journey of sorts. At times the chapters didn’t really seem to flow together, but individually, I enjoyed them. The author brought it all together finally in the last chapter. My interest in the book really perked up when I hit Chapter 4.  Faith Without Knowledge Cannot Grow .   This chapter is at the heart of what identifies us, the post Vatican II children, as the “Lost Generation of Catholics”.  We grew up without focusing on details about the Catechism or the deep foundation of our faith; instead our education focused on how much God loves us and the spiritual nature of faith. 

October 22

Lisa wanted to post a book review this morning, but I have insisted all week that I was going to write something about today and what it means to me. And now that the day is here, I'm still struggling to write it. I expect all of us have a special day where we remember someone we've lost. October 22 is that day for me. When I was five years old, my cousin died. It's been 33 years and I can't say exactly why this day still stands out to me. I suppose something about losing him embedded itself deep within me. We were living in St. Louis. He had an accident, was in hospital, and died about a week later. Mom told me many years ago where we were on that day and how we drove back to Houston while he was in the hospital, but did not attend the funeral. The funny thing is I can remember what we were doing the day of the accident, but I do not remember the drive back to Houston or being in Houston. I do remember Halloween a week later. I remember my cousin, though the memorie

Mission Sunday

This past Sunday the church celebrated Mission Sunday. In past years I have sat through many a homily delivered by a visiting priest responsible for a foreign mission in some part of our world. His homily always extolled their good deeds and suffering, ending with a request for a generous second collection. So I settled into the pew with my envelope, check enclosed, waiting for our guest. But no visiting priest proceeded down the aisle, only Father Matthew. He delivered a wonderful homily for Mission Sunday. He reminded us that Mission Sunday is not just about the second collection and giving money to foreign missions. It is about our personal contribution, asking to become more like Jesus, who washed the feet of his disciples to teach them to serve. Jesus wants us to spread God’s Love. How can we serve Him? Each answer will be unique and we must listen for and find the answer that fits you. Father Matthew challenged us to be Missionaries within our own families, praying togethe

Support a Catholic Speaker Month: Teresa Tomeo

Our contribution to Support a Catholic Speaker Month is Catholic author, media consultant, and professional speaker Teresa Tomeo . If this post sounds a bit formal , it's because I didn't know much about Teresa until I started my research. I recognized the All Things Girl books as ones that Lisa considered buying as a Godmother gift for my "tween" daughter. As I learned about Teresa and her calling, I'm now intrigued and think I want to do a little more reading or listening. I think you will be interested in her message also. Teresa received a bachelor of Applied Arts in Journalism from Central Michigan University and went to work as a radio and TV news reporter and anchor woman primarily in the Detroit area. According to her own website bio , she first received recognition for her radio news reporting and anchor work. In 1988, she moved to TV news, working as a reporter/anchor. Her assignments covered some of the most significant stories of the 1990s, inclu

A Silent Observer

Yesterday I finally listened to the Among Women podcast for the first time.  I met host Pat Gohn back in June at the Catholic New Media Celebration and only now have gotten around to listening to her work.  Her recent podcast included an interview with a young lady named Kathleen Fitzpatrick , who described her journey with an unplanned pregnancy and how that unexpected blessing has affected her life in ways she couldn't have imagined. Years ago, I had a dear friend who was faced with an unexpected pregnancy while still a young woman.  At the time she took her pregnancy test, I remember sitting with her just stunned and silent.  I had no words or reassurance for her. The next day, she had her pregnancy confirmed by a health clinic and received a referral for abortion.   I am ashamed to say that I stood by while she chose to end her baby’s life the day after she knew he existed.   In my mind, I know that I was young and ill-prepared to face this difficult issue, but in my hea

Don't close your eyes

Earlier I received The Meal Box by Bret Nicholaus and Tom McGrath from Loyola Press . The set is designed to inspire faith-based family conversations around the dinner table. It looks like a deck of playing cards and each card contains a fun question on one side and a "food for family thought" tip on the reverse. The Family Thought on our very first card read: I recall how long it took to learn how to hit a baseball. As he pitched ball after ball my way, my father would chant, "Keepy your eye on the ball." But fear had me closing my eyes and swinging blindly. In your life, what does fear prevent you from seeing? My seven-year old daughter played her first season of softball last Spring. So I asked her if she had ever closed her eyes when the ball was pitched to her. "Heck no*," she replied "I'd be afraid if I closed my eyes the ball would hit me right in the face!" Don't close your eyes or life might hit you right in the face!

The Meal Box

Last month, I received a new product from Loyola Press called The Meal Box .  The description in the Loyola Press catalog intrigued me because it sounded like something my family could enjoy together … Family conversation at mealtime just got a lot more fun—and a lot more faith-filled—with The Meal Box, the perfect antidote to family dinnertime drudgery. We have not been disappointed with this box of 54 cards, each with a creative question to spark family dinner table conversation.  These questions are great and appropriate for all ages (my own kids are ages 3-7 yrs old).  They ask creative and open ended questions that are sure to start a fun conversation at the dinner table or anytime you choose.   Last night, we answered the question, “If you could release a helium balloon with a message card attached to the end of the string, what message would you write for the unknown recipient to read?  The kids had never heard of this tradition, so it gave my husband and I a chance to te

Daily Trips to Italy

In honor of Columbus Day and our Italian cultural heritage, I want to share a fascinating Italian resource with you. Whether you've been to Italy or only dreamed of going some day, you can have a little bit of Italian culture and history arrive in your email box every morning by subscribing to the Italian Notebook. Various contributors provide short vignettes of local history, interesting places, food, wine, archeology, art, etc. on a daily basis. Learn about places like San Pietro in Valle, an 8th century cloister, monastery and church in the Nerina Valley, a living chess match in Marostica, a medival city near Verona , discover walk through bakerys in Rome , and marvel at the works of Raffaello in Urbino . My favorite notes come from GB, the editor, when he shares recipes and stories from his "girlfriends" (the youngest is 78). Each note includes a link to a map of Italy, with all of the notes pinpointed. So if you're planning a trip (for real or only in you

Life in a Jar: Remembering Irena Sendler

Irena Sendler was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1910. Her father, a doctor, died during a typhus epidemic in 1917. She attended Warsaw University, but was dismissed for failing to comply with Jewish segregation laws. When the Germans invaded Warsaw in 1939, Irena began helping Jews with food, shelter, and false documents. Her position as an administrator at the Warsaw Social Work Department allowed her to develop a network of 24 helpers who rescued children and found them hiding places in Polish homes, convents, and orphanages. In her role as a social worker, she was permitted to enter the Warsaw Ghetto. For a three month period in the summer of 1942, she worked to smuggle out children, including infants. When the underground group Zegota organized that fall, Irena headed the children’s division. She carefully documented the names of the hidden children in jars and buried them, so the children could be reunited with their true families after the war. They saved the lives of 2,500 ch

Respect Life for the Elderly and Infirm

My Granny and Birdie Respect Life Month is not only about the vulnerable unborn, but also the elderly and infirm.  While you follow and pray for the 40 Days for Life movement , please pray for, and assist or visit our elders, who deserve to be treated with dignity and integrity as they are no longer able to care for themselves. The best column I’ve read   reminding us to care and visit the elderly and infirm came from Deacon Tom Fox, a podcaster with Catholic Vitamins , writing as a guest columnist for Catholic Mom .   He reminds us, “visiting the sick, the elderly, the confined – and showing them the dignity inherent in each human being – that’s a part of respect for life… whether the recipient knows or understands or not.”    What an important statement for each of us involved and praying during this Respect Life Month.  How do we show Respect for Life to the elderly and infirm in our lives?  Do we treat them with the dignity they deserve even if they do not remember or u

Parish Priests

Are you close to the priest at your parish? Do you feel as though you could approach him with any thoughts, concerns, or problems you are having in your life? Shelly and I have discussing this topic for a while. After we began our blog and have been meeting so many Catholic families and priests, we realized neither one of us has a personal relationship with our parish priest. At my old parish, we had three priests, three permanent deacons and over  6,000 families. It was tough to get any one on one time to get close to the clergy. However, my husband and I were close to one of the Deacons. He counseled us while engaged,  performed our wedding, ceremony, and then baptized each of our kids. After ten years at that parish, we moved a couple years ago, and discovered our favorite deacon was also moved to help start a brand new parish in our new community. What fortune. After some time, he left the new parish and I am here without being close to the priest. We still keep in touch with Dea

Sacraments for Children

This week we're reviewing the Three Brothers/Three Sisters Tote Set from the Catholic Company reviewers program. The set includes seven books about the Sacraments, an Activity prayer card, and a deck of playing cards in a sturdy canvas tote just the right size for young children. After reading through the books, I asked my ten and seven year old daughters to read them. They happily went right to work. My ten year old says they are too young for her, but my seven year old really enjoyed them - especially Betty Says, "I'm Sorry!" A Story Celebrating Reconciliation and John's Special Sunday! A Story Celebrating Holy Communion. Four of the books feature three brothers, while the other three books feature three sisters. The stories are simple and appropriate for kids 3-7 years old. Instead of suits, the deck of 52-cards features four matching cards of the sacraments and people involved. The "How to Play" card gives the directions for Go Fish, bu

40 Days for Life Update from Houston

At the beginning of this "Respect Life Month", I received an update from 40 Days for Life with the following message.... I received a report from Houston that was both eye-opening and heartbreaking.  People participating in the 40 Days for Life vigil watched as a young man who appeared to be in tears walked into Planned Parenthood with his girlfriend and her mother.  When they left some time later, he was most certainly crying -- and obviously quite upset. I'll let one of the prayer vigil participants pick up the story... I watched him head down the street, alternating  between wiping the tears from his face and punching  the buildings in anger and frustration as he passed  them. Eventually he headed back toward the parking  lot. As he approached, I went to him first. All I  could think to say was that I was so very sorry for  his loss. He began to cry again. Then a truck pulled up leaving the parking lot with  his girlfriend and her mother inside. The girl's 

Praying for Spousal Conversion

Every year as our church starts a new RCIA class, I pray that my husband will attend and be moved to commit to joining the Church. I pray, I ask others to pray, but I actually haven’t really discussed it in depth with him or prayed with him about this decision. And every year, another class of RCIA starts and ends without him joining. As it is that time of year at our parish again, I’ve mentioned it to him, passed on the information and have been fervently praying for his spiritual conversion. As I sat Sunday waiting for Mass to begin my thoughts wandered to my reasons for wanting him to join so badly. Do I really want him to truly spend the time and get to know God, or is it about joining the Church to be with the kids and I? Why is that introductory meeting of RCIA so important to me? Am I hoping they can reach him on a spiritual level and talk to him about faith in a way that I, as his wife, have been unable? Why have I not been able to fully share my faith and that of the Ch

We Have a Winner of our Bringing Up Geeks Giveaway

My husband helped me out and randomly chose a number for a winner last night. for our Bringing Up Geeks Review and Giveaway .  Congratulations Melissa!   If you will send me your address at soundmindandspirit[at]gmail[dot]com or on FaceBook, I'll get your new copy of Bringing Up Geeks in the mail to you.  I know you will love this book as much as I do!  Thank you to everyone who entered in our September giveaway.