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Showing posts from March, 2010

Do Not Be Afraid

During this Holy Week I am distracted by the inflammatory articles condemning Pope Benedict.  The media has taken it upon themselves to report only half truths in order to sell their anti-Catholic message this Holy Week.  If you inwardly cringed upon seeing these news reports, do not be afraid to dig deeper and then defend the truth and the Pope.  The most enlightening information about this media created scandal is that t he New York Times article which started this hysteria did not accurately and fully state the facts in the Father Murphy case.   In the 1970's, the Milwaukee Diocese took action to remove Fr. Murphy from contact with children and purposefully did not give him a new pastoral assignment. The NYT leaves out the fact that the police were notified in the 1970's of the accusations. This is most definitely not a case of the Diocese hiding sexual abuse or moving a priest around to a new congregation. Jimmy Akin at National Catholic Register does a wonderful job la

Filling the Emptiness

Last week I attended one of my monthly Pastoral Council meetings. They begin just after the 7 p.m. Mass, and as I slipped into a pew for Mass it occurred to me that I’d been away a very long time. I’ve missed church for the last three weekends because of work travel and vacation. I realize there are people who travel extensively who use Mass Times to identify the nearest Parish to fit in their schedule, but my situation did not provide me with the opportunity. There have been times, especially during the summer when Sunday morning CCE is out, that I’ve missed a number of Sundays here or there. It’s easy to tell yourself you’re too busy, you deserve an extra hour of sleep, it’s just this once. The longer you’re away, the easier it becomes. Life keeps moving and you might not even miss spending that hour in prayer and communion with Christ. But before you know it, a hollow emptiness grows unaware. At some point during that simple weekday evening Mass, I became aware of that emptiness a

Health Care Bill - What's Left to Say?

I know we've been quiet here on Of Sound Mind and Spirit about the passage of the Health Care bill.  Since everyone is covering it from one side or another, what is left to say?  For Pro-life advocates, the passage is gut wrenching.  While I recognize that Bart Stupak, Democrat "pro-life" Congressman from Michigan, said he would vote for the Health Care bill even with tax payer funded abortion in it, never did I imagine he would hold out for so long only to give in for a worthless piece of paper and $700,000 for his local airport.  The Executive Order President Obama signed this week with no press allowed states the intent to continue the Hyde Amendment ensuring no federal funds may be used for elective abortions under the new Health Care bill.  But an Executive Order does not prevail when in direct contradiction with a federal statute.  If the legislative language in the Health Care bill is held to include abortion funding, which most believe it does, the statute wi

First Communion Memories and Stories Contest

Now that the vacation is over, Lisa and I are both gearing up for First Communion Season. Both of us have daughters making this big Sacrament at the end of April. Reflecting on it, this is a pretty big deal. This is their first major celebration sacrament since their infant baptism. Reconciliation isn’t really a “celebration” sacrament; the preparation, undertaking, and sharing of that sacrament is intensely personal. First Communion is an opportunity for the entire family – personal and church – to welcome a new member into Communion or being One with Christ. I forget the source, but I had someone explain coming to the Eucharist to me as our approaching not the church altar, but the table at the Last Supper. Christ is present and we come to Him. I think on that when I step from the aisle to go forward. My youngest daughter is very impatiently waiting for her First Communion. While she’s still mildly unnerved at the thought of eating Christ’s Body, she’s sees being allowed to receiv

On the Road Again

Once again, our blog fell silent for a week as we joined our combined families in our second 1800 mile caravan to the Trans-Pecos region of West Texas. Just like last year, Shelly & I planned to write and schedule posts in advance of our absence and expected to use this "vacation" as an inspirational opportunity for future posts. I guess we didn't learn from last year. If you've ever embarked on a similar journey, you know the amount of preparation and planning that goes into coordinating a driving trip of this length for four families: eight adults and seven children. All of the hustle settles down once we hit the road: the kids chat happily with their cousins, adults swap vehicles during stops, and there is a laughing banter back and forth on the walkie-talkies necessary for keeping in touch between cars. We stayed in the Marathon Motel and Chianti Mountains , before moving down the River Road into Lajitas for some Big Bend hiking and horse riding . On our l

True Meaning of Easter

With Palm Sunday just ahead, you still have the opportunity to immerse yourself in meaningful reflection and meditation on the Passion of our Lord. There is still time to order a copy of The True Meaning of Easter , an audio CD containing the scripture of the Passion combined with excerpts of classic recordings by Archbishop Fulton Sheen. You will be touched and moved by the words of Bishop Sheen, as he provides thoughtful reason and understanding of the scriptures. When the movie “The Passion of the Christ” first appeared in theaters, I heard repeatedly how watching this movie would change me and my understanding of the Passion & Resurrection. But I challenge that these recorded passages by Bishop Sheen are more moving, more passionate, and more thought-provoking. I must admit that before receiving this recording I had never heard of Bishop Sheen, but I have since learned that he was a true pioneer in Catholic broadcasting. He used the “new media” of radio and television to spre


Oh, what a beautiful morning! Oh, what a beautiful day! I've got a beautiful feeling Everything's goin' my way. - lyrics by Rogers & Hammerstein I can't help singing at the top of my lungs this morning. It seems to me that Spring has arrived almost overnight. Last week the Houston Rodeo trail riders came into town through the cold wet rain and everything looked gloomy. This week the grass is growing, the trees are budding, and the azaleas are blooming. I looked at the azaleas on Monday and saw nothing to lead me to believe there would be blooms by the end of the week, but yesterday afternoon we returned from school/work and spied two blooms, with dozens more loosely wrapped just waiting for today. The birds have returned; I awoke this morning to the brilliant composition of a multitude of songbirds in the backyard. Even my husband, laying beside me, commented that we were being sung awake. Our backyard feeder attracts cardinals, house finches, chickadees, blue ja

Lenten Activities for Children

I thought I would share a few Lenten Activities my children are working on this year. For the first time we made homemade pretzels this year. It was only recently that I discovered that the making and eating of pretzels was a Lenten tradition dating back to ancient times .  The kids were surprised and thrilled to learn that the criss-cross shape of the pretzel is symbolic of arms crossed in a prayer position.  Now, to be fair, when I say we "made" pretzels, I must admit we were not extremely successful.  While they tasted OK, they were horrible to look at.  I think we missed a step somewhere in the new recipe.  It was still a great time and my kids, my two nieces, and I  had a wonderful time making a huge mess in the process. It was so much fun that I hope to make it a yearly Lenten tradition in our house, but with tastier results. One of the most popular activities the kids have done so far is the 2010 Lenten Calendar - 40 Crosses from Catechist's Journ

Finding the Balance

Bryan told me a story he’d read years and years ago about a worry tree . The main character (a man) would come home from work and hang all of his worries on the tree before entering the house to spend time with his wife and kids. It’s a story I’ve tried to emulate in my own career. Finding the right balance for myself, my husband, my kids, and my career took a lot of thought and work. So what’s the secret? Staying organized? Being a type A personality? Loving what I do? It’s all about focus. When I’m at work, I mentally shut off the part of my brain that is thinking about meal planning, grocery shopping, softball practice, vacation plans, and library book due dates. When I lock up the office and walk to the car, I switch gears. I mentally shut off the part of my brain that wants to continue thinking about reference questions, document processing, catalog data entry, exhibit outreach, and meetings. When I’m at work, I’m at work and when I’m at home, I’m at home . And i

It's Not to Late for Lent

At Mass yesterday, our priest pointed out that we find ourselves suddenly about halfway through Lent.  He asked us how our Lent was coming.  Are we following through with our resolutions?  Are we fully preparing for Christ's passion and resurrection?  Or, do we keep promising to start tomorrow?  Reflecting on his homily, I can honestly say that on a few resolutions I am definitely following through.  I have made a pillowcase for the 1 Million Pillowcase Challenge and filled 10 bags for the 40 Bags in 40 Days , I pray daily for the 40 Days for Life and am actively reading Consoling the Heart of Jesus .  I've also been pretty good about working with the kids through their Lenten activities, diligent about turning off the TV each night by 10 p.m. and not talking on my cell phone while driving. However, some of my more personal, spiritual resolutions are not going as well. These are the ones I struggle with every year.  I want to pray a daily rosary, attend a weekly adoration a

Your Voice Needed on Health Care Reform

The threat of the current Health care bill passing still looms large over all of us.  In its current form, it provides for a federal funding of abortion, raises health care costs for all of us, and drastically increases taxes on all working families. We must press on and not give up.  It is imperative to bring the pressure on the House members who have a chance to stop this bill in its tracks.  If your own representative is on the fence or says they will vote for the bill, let them know where you stand.  Call their office, both the DC office and/or a local office.  Take a few minutes out of your day and walk into a local office for your representative.  Let them put a face to your opposition.  Senator Jim DeMint from South Carolina recommended on the radio yesterday, gathering a few friends to accompany you on a visit to your Representative's local office.  For even greater impact, call your local newspaper or television station for coverage of your visit.  Follow up with th

The Courage of Senator Bunning

This week, Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky took a couragous stand in the Senate .  For four days, he blocked the passage of a bill that contributed an additional $10 billion to our national debt due to  Congress not providing a way to pay for the bill before enacting it. For his actions blocking the extension of unemployment insurance costing taxpayers another $10 billion in debt, Senator Bunning has been excoriated in the main stream press.  In reality, he deserves praise for standing up for the future of our grandchildren. The basis for his objection was a law recently passed by the Democrat controlled Congress and signed by President Obama called "Pay-Go".   This legislation calls on Congress to pay for spending bills without adding to our national debt.  This $10 billion extension of unemployment flies in the face of that Pay-Go law.  While watching CNN rip Bunning apart on Tuesday, the question I found they repeated over and over was, "Why now?"  The anchor

Stations of the Cross

Sunday morning, our CCE students were invited to watch the middle school CCE students perform a living Stations of the Cross . Like many others, our parish offers the opportunity to pray the Stations of the Cross every Friday during Lent, but I’ve only attended this living version with my CCE students. Eighth graders portray Jesus, Mary, Simon, Veronica, the guards and the women, with a narrator introducing each station and reciting a prayer about that station. When Jesus is crucified, a lone guitarist played Were You There When They Crucified My Lord , a beautiful haunting melody. The song played again at the end when they placed the stone in front of the tomb. I love that our church offers this opportunity to the younger students to witness the stations acted out. Growing up in a world of media, television, video games, our children are surrounded by visual learning. What better way for them to understand and develop their spirituality, so that as adults they too might feel the des

Texas Independence

The hostilities known as the Texas Revolution did not begin on March 2, 1836, but the day marks our formal and official Texas Independence Day. On March 1, 1836, fifty-nine delegates representing the settlements in Texas gathered at Washington-on-the-Brazos for the Convention of 1836. On the first day, George Childress introduced a resolution calling for independence . An earlier Declaration made on November 7, 1835, had announced that the principle intentions of the conflict against Mexico were to restore the Mexican Constitution of 1824 and achieve separate Mexican statehood for Texas. Though the members had hoped for popular support for the Texan cause from the other Mexican states, by the time the Convention of 1836 gathered, the men determined that Independence was the necessary outcome. Fellow-Citizens of Texas: The enemy are upon us. A strong force surrounds the walls of the Alamo, and threaten that garrison with the sword... Now is the day, and now is the hour, when Texas ex

Working Mom

I was having a conversation with Lisa this week about her new regular column at Catholic Mom . I’m so proud of her in how she’s developing as a writer and I’m impressed with her Little Moments and insights about daily events. She wanted to know when I’d be submitting regular columns to Catholic Mom. She seemed surprised when I told her that I don’t really feel like a “Catholic Mom.” And I don’t. When someone asks me who I am or what I do, Mom is not the first response that comes to mind. I’m simply “Shelly” and the titles that follow are complex. After years of developing and evolving my own self-identity as a daughter, sister, college student, graduate student, employee, Archivist, wife, sister-in-law, mother, and Catholic, I never considered myself just one of those things. Because I had a career that I loved first, and did not have the choice of leaving it when I had my first child, I’ve never really thought of myself as “Just a Mom.” I’ve always been a “Working Mom.” I’ve

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