A Sunday Reflection

“In this age, turning our backs on traditional Christianity is seen as original and a sign of free-thinking. What is truly original and a sign of free-thought is embracing tradition and love of Christ which stands in the face of this world and its idea of “values”.
The so-called Enlightenment of prior centuries has badly harmed Christians. One looks at the French Revolution and other revolutions that grew out of this movement and see how they have mocked and injured Christ. Brothers and sisters, we cannot free ourselves by breaking away from God’s hands, when we break away from God, we subject ourselves to the darkest form of slavery.
 Oh that we would give ourselves back to God! We were made for him to love Him and serve Him. When our service turns back on ourselves and becomes self satisfying, it is indeed slavery. But it is reward and preventable to be of service to Something greater. We are foolish to think we can ever break “free” of God. It is written in the Psalms “Where can I go from your Spirit. Where can I flee from your presence?” And the prophet Jeremiah did write “Shall a man be hid in secret places, and I not see him, saith the Lord? do not I fill heaven and earth, saith the Lord?”
He who made us will always be with us and any ideology which excludes Him seeks to take away our humanity and often does. Where else do we get our humanity but from Him. As did say Augustine of Hippo “Our hearts are restless, O God, untill they rest in you.”

from: http://thoughtsoflightinthedark.blogspot.com/2012/10/sunday-sermon.html

Rachel M. Gohlman is a convert to Catholicism from Evangelical Protestantism. She is the author of the “Misadventures of Cardinal Fratelli” series and is known on facebook for her apologetics work. She is a graduate from Bradley University in Peoria.

Lot's of Links for February Feast Days!!

I pulled together a huge number of arts, crafts and activities for Candlemas/the Presentation of our Lord, Our Lady of Lourdes Feast day, and St. Valentine’s Day. Come take a look and see if you find anything that you’d like to do with your kids to celebrate these holy days!
Here is the link to the Presentation/Candlemas crafts and activities. 
There’s lots of coloring pages, too!
 
Our Lady of Lourdes feast is on Feb. 11
You might like to take a look at these crafts and activities.
Celebrate Saint Valentines’s feast day before Lent starts!
Here is loads of Catholic printables for you and you kids!

Jennifer, is a wife and a mom of 9 kids (ages 14 -1) She spends her days homeschooling in PA. Whenever time allows, she blogs about the Catholic activities she creates with her kids. She likes to make all things fun with hands-on activities!  
Visit her at Catholic Inspired for more fun arts, crafts and activities, which are inspired by our Catholic faith! 

What Young Catholics Truly Want

Attention Pastors, Youth Pastors, Music Directors, Deacons and Catechists:

I have oft heard the complaint from you that “The young people aren’t interested in Catholic faith, they don’t come to Mass and they don’t volunteer to sing, lector or help with ministries…it seems there is little hope these days!”
I’ve come to tell you, there is hope! The young people can be drawn to Catholic faith, Mass, choir and any church-related ministry. You can get them interested!
The Problem:

Frequently, young Catholics feel ignored, not that they aren’t being pampered or praised or given special attention, I mean they are trying to tell you exactly what they like, what they expect from the Church, what they are yearning for deep in their souls… but you simply aren’t listening.
I am in my twenties, part of the tail end of what they call “the John Paul II generation” I came into the Catholic Church just as John Paul II went out. My RCIA class was on fire for faith, for learning and for yearning. We did homework, read our catechism, got on the internet, immersed ourselves in it all! The parish that nurtured this crop of oncoming-converts was steeped in reverence and awe for tradition. Not just going through motions and singing empty songs. On Ash-Wednesday, we proudly explained the odd mark on our heads, we debated Protestants on the Bible, we learned basic prayers- in Latin AND English. Sunday night Mass ensued in candlelit splendor, amidst clouds of incense and to the tune of Laudate Dominum. You could never look at these young people and say “They just don’t care”.
After RCIA and graduation, I returned home and attended what you’d call your average parish church. I descended from a world of splendor to bare walls, hurried Masses and barebones hymns. Still fervent in the sacraments, the Eucharist and the Early Church Fathers, I lived on. Come 2012, I attend a parish in central Florida. Art covered the walls, thank God, but it was rather bare art. Mass was still hurried and hymns still barebones. Something however was very familiar: no Latin during Ordinary time, nor during Advent, nor during Lent, no incense, no Laudate Dominum.
I spoke up once during choir practice (I’d since then joined the choir because I enjoyed singing and praising the Lord). I said “You know, I’d really like some Latin hymns…Maybe we can have some silence after Mass during Lent- you know for reverence…” I suggested to our priest once: “I think a Eucharistic procession around Christmas to celebrate the incarnation would be cool…” Deaf ears in reply. I was told by the music director: “We don’t do that anymore…Silence bores the congregation…” and by the priest “A procession would be inconvenient…”
What I gave was the opinion of a young Catholic- a real, live young Catholic. They didn’t want it.
The problem is all these pastors, youth pastors and music directors keep telling us young folk what bores us, what we really like, what we find interesting. And guess what, THEY’RE WRONG! If one listens to the young Catholic voice, one would find we are yearning for beauty, for tradition and for truth. Traditional Catholicism honestly fascinates us! We go all week hearing perky pop-songs, jumping techno and chatter that doesn’t leave a minute of silence. We go to church and we get exposed to the same exact things. Thus, of course we find it boring! Why should we go to Mass when we can stay home and sing “Gather us in”, listen to a preacher on tv and fill our rooms with noise? Young people are sick of the world. We long for a safe habitat where we can bow before God and think. We crave contact with ancientness, with a strong grounding, with strong Catholic identity. God’s people are chosen out of the world, set apart, destined for a heavenly home. We want a taste of that!!
What young Catholics want:

First, we wouldn’t mind if you listened… Stop telling us what we think and what we like.  Look at traditional Catholic parishes, they are overflowing with young people and traditional seminaries are crowded with young aspirants. The next generation wants precisely what your generation has put away and tried to hide from us. There’s a proverb: “The son longs to remember what the father longs to forget!” Remember it! We hate guitar Masses. We hate bare hymns and Masses that must be kept under 45 minutes. We want the red meat that is the 2,000 year old Catholic faith and not only that, we want to sink out teeth into it!
When young people see that Mass is not like the rest of the week, that it’s not like the world, that it requires us to think and act differently- as if we’re present when heaven touches earth, we will be interested. We will wander in with curiosity, saying “what glorious thing is this?” and we will stay there.
And this is not a dilemma that has gone unnoticed either.  An article on Catholicculture.org states: “The Roman rite was always different from all of the eastern rites, of course, but the sense of the transcendence of God, which once marked our liturgy strongly, seems rarely to find expression in our worship today. And we trashed, just trashed, a glorious tradition of liturgical music which the council fathers at Vatican II explicitly commanded be fostered. We replaced it with . . . On Eagles’ Wings.” I can tell you that many of our young people agree with this! Our generation is immensely attracted to the statements of Pope Benedict XVI that ask for a return to tradition in liturgy.  I hear countless, young Catholic college students, facebook-ers and bloggers begging: “Please, give this back to us.”
People can pretend that worship is a strictly spiritual matter, pretend that it does not involve shallow, physical things but the Mass is precisely opposite. It is very physical just like the union of two lovers is very physical. No sane person declares love is just a spiritual thing, that saying “My dear” doesn’t matter, that singing a serenade or reciting a sonnet doesn’t matter or that a candlelit banquet makes no difference. Our worship became VERY physical the moment Christ assumed human flesh. Catholics are people of the incarnation. We don’t go to Mass to philosophize and have Bible study- no, we go to Mass to taste and see the goodness of the Lord! Mass isn’t about social gathering- no, it’s about each soul receiving perfect union with God! Shouldn’t our pastors and music directors be showing us that? Shouldn’t our priests be saying with their actions and words and prayers: “Hey, this isn’t part of the world that bombards you with noise and ugliness, that constantly seeks to entertain you, this is heaven!”
Jesus Christ came to give the hungry world that which they were so long deprived of. He came to give meaning, to give mystery, to give us the awesome presence and tender love which is God. Jesus didn’t say “Let’s get the young people interested.” He said “Feed my Lambs.” So, I sincerely ask our pastors, youth pastors, deacons and music directors to give young Catholics a taste of heaven, give us mystery, give us that presence and awesome love of God. Hit us with a meaty Catholicism that makes us stop and think, that makes us truly perceive the miraculous thing that is happening at every Eucharist, and causes us to bow down and say “Truly this is the Son of God” “Truly this is the New Covenant” “Truly this is the Promised Land- our heavenly home”!
If you just listen, maybe you will hear…
Young people are crying out- answer them.
They are hungry- feed them.
They are burdened down- lift them up.
“O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusts in him.”
-Psalm 34:8

Plinko with the Happy Saints!

This converted to Catholic classic game has been renamed!
Please check out Plunk! with the Saints!
for 10 ways to use this printable and the tutorial for how to make the game!

Does anyone remember Plinko? It was on The Price is Right…which began in 1956, was revamped in 1972, hosted by Bob Barker and since 2007, is now hosted by Drew Carey. Plinko was a cool game where these little disks are dropped at the top of a steep platform with little pegs.  Depending on which path the disk zigzags down, money was won by which exit route the disk took. It looked like this:

Look at that pink carpet!
How about playing PLUNK! to learn about the SAINTS?

I’ve had my eye on the little Happy Saints for a while and now that I finished my Happy Saints Tokens Tutorial, (adding these awesome Saint images to poker chips) I present…Plinko with the Saints!

I ended up making the PLUNK! with the SAINTS game with an empty picture frame and double suction cups from the dollar store.      
    
 
I also put a few little graphics together for my PLUNK! PRINTABLE that you will also find in my PLUNK! tutoriall at Equipping Catholic Families. This printable does not include the awesome Happy Saints, but it does have a cool Saint Token Template that I think you will find helpful for other Saint crafts and activities as well! 




Monica is a wife, Mom of 5+ kids, a designer, an architecture school survivor, an author and a crafter who thinks it’s cool to be Catholic! Check out the Arma Dei Shoppe for solid Catholic, fun teaching tools and gifts to celebrate and teach the Catholic Faith and subscribe to Equipping Catholic Families for family-building and Faith-centred crafts!

Year of Faith and October Saints Link-Ups and Resources

Join us at Equipping Catholic Families for the first ever Year of Faith Link Up!  Add your reflections, activities, Catechism teaching strategies and other Year of Faith posts here and help us build an awesome resource!

Do you have activities, crafts, celebrations or reflections on any of the awesome OCTOBER saints?
Please link your ideas at Cele-LINKY with the SAINTS: OCTOBER
and check out the ideas of other Catholic Bloggers!
Watch for a Cele-LINKY: ALL SAINTS Edition coming soon at Equipping Catholic Families.
Monica is a wife, Mom of 5+ kids, a designer, an architecture school survivor, an author and a crafter who thinks it’s cool to be Catholic! Check out the Arma Dei Shoppe for solid Catholic, fun teaching tools and gifts to celebrate and teach the Catholic Faith and subscribe to Equipping Catholic Families for family-building and Faith-centred crafts!

How do you see God the Father?

How do you know Jesus?  Do you ever imagine what it was like, walking around with Jesus, listening to His Stories, receiving you with His warm Eyes, gentle words and loving smile?

I have often tried to imagine what a talk with Jesus would be like, face to Face.  I have compiled all of my favorite traits in the people I love and extrapolated them, in their most perfect form to build my profile of Jesus. I have had a few superheroes in my life to draw from.

 
How do you see God the Father? I heard once how our relationship and impression of God is influenced by our human fathers and our other human relationships.  I think as I have matured in my Faith, I have recognized that my default image of God was that of a Judge, keeping a list and checking it twice.  I have even expected a little rolling of the Eyes as I confessed the same sins and issues at each confession.

One time, I asked my spiritual director about this very same thing.  I said “What is Jesus doing, each time I confess the same sin or struggle…over and over.?” I think I suspected that the Lord must be getting as tired of this as I was, maybe shaking His Head a little bit, smirking or mouthing the words ‘again!?’

My priest friend just gently responded “smiling”.

 
YES!  That’s what we do, for the most part, with our kids, right?  Hopefully?

When our toddler climbs into the fridge to grab the pickle jar..for the gazillionth time?

(OK, after we save the pickle jar from crashing to the floor and pull the child out of the fridge and close the fridge door, hoping the suction in the door will just be a little too strong for him next time?)

 

When a toddler decides to draw with a marker on any available surfaces including walls, furniture and skin?

When a toddler decides to explore what his snack will look like if he tries to play it in the DVD player or computer?

When a toddler finds the chocolate cake that was reserved for tonight’s birthday celebration and decides to taste a handful?

When a toddler, drawn by the bright blinking light decides to turn off the computer, change the settings of the dishwasher or stereo?

Yes, each of these scenarios mysteriously sound like our 5th child Adam…

When a child must be extracted from some shiny thing in the Walmart aisle…

When you find the stack of dirty laundry under a child’s bed or his un-emptied lunchbox from Friday…

When a teenager forgets to call or neglects a chore…

When a teenager insists that she absolutely needs the latest release of her current favorite band…

OK, there may be a slightly less virtuous Prodigal Father response immediately, out of surprise, and looking at the fixing and cleaning attempts ahead …or rehearsing the familiar script of responsibility or materialism… but we don’t love them any less, despite our human response.
How much more loving, (thank God!) is our loving Father as he yearns to draw us closer to Himself, smiling at our efforts to overcome our struggles?
 
A beloved pastor once described how children would run to him after Mass and when he hugged them, they would be enveloped by his priestly vestments. 

I can still see my daughter scramble up into the arms of our beloved Fr. Dan, eagerly awaiting a word or a smile.

I see my two youngest kids, as they run to their Dad’s arms: a grand homecoming regardless if it followed a long day of work….or a 30-second trip to the garage.

 

I recall the words written to me on the inside of a favorite book:  “remember….you are unconditionally loved by God and sustained at every moment by His Grace.” 

Someday I hope to run into the Arms of God, to be received and completely enveloped by His Dazzling white robe-clad arms, with child-like Faith and confidence that I am His Beloved Daughter with whom He is well pleased.

 





Monica is a wife, Mom of 5+ kids, a designer, an architecture school survivor, an author and a crafter who thinks that it’s cool to be Catholic! Check out the Arma Dei Shoppe for solid Catholic, fun teaching tools and gifts to celebrate and teach the Catholic Faith and subscribe to Equipping Catholic Families for family-building and Faith-centred crafts! 
 

 

 

 

A Catholic Courtship Story

I recently read a lovely book called Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship. Since it was nearing our 9th wedding anniversary, this book got me reminiscing about my own courtship with my now husband. And, because reading/hearing about how God brings a couple together always inspires and uplifts me, I thought I’d share our story in the hopes that you will share yours. 😉

To begin this story, I have to back up a bit. As most of the people who know me, or who read this blog regularly, know that I spent a number of years discerning a religious vocation. I entered the convent after recently returning to the faith, firmly believing that I was called to religious life. Yet, there was an underlining <em>something</em>, a doubt that I suppressed. Like I said, I had only a couple years before returned to the faith and I wanted to do “something big” to show my love to the Lord. I thought it was to sacrifice family and become a religious sister.

Over the years, the signs that my vocation was marriage and to have a family firmly showed themselves, so during Holy Week 1999 I returned home. It was a bittersweet time. I loved the sisters but knew I had to live the vocation God was calling me to. I began to pray for a spouse.

My prayers weren’t answered until a couple of years later. I like to have a good time, but I’m no party girl. Doing the whole “club scene” or going to bars isn’t my thing. A couple of people tried to set me up but that wasn’t my thing, either. Then I started hearing stories of different couples who met online.

I wasn’t sure if that was my thing or not, but as a birthday present to myself, in 2002 I signed up for Ave Maria Catholic Singles. After filling out my profile, and doing the search, my now husband’s profile showed up. And then again. And then again. And then again. 🙂 Finally, I got up the courage to send him a message.

He promptly wrote back to inform me that he was currently discerning marriage with someone else. Okay, I thought, that door is closed. But, EVERY time I went to the singles site his profile would show up as a 100% match.

I started communicating with a couple other of people and tried to ignore Michael’s face every time he showed up. Several weeks later, I received a message from him. The relationship he was in didn’t work out and he wanted to know if we could chat. I said yes. 🙂

We started emailing through Ave Maria’s messaging system. We clicked right away in our emails and I had a good feeling about him. And the funny thing, the day after Michael and I started messaging the other guys I was communicating with dropped off the face of the earth. Literally. Our communications had been friendly and going well, but they instantly stopped writing, their profiles were gone, and I never heard from them again. It was as if they never existed!

A week after we started emailing, Michael asked if he could call me. I gave him my number and when he called we talked for over an hour. When we hung up, I said out loud, “This is the man I am going to marry.” I just knew. It was as if the Lord Himself was telling me this. Of course, I continued to pray about it, and every time I did, I had this “knowing.”

A week later, Michael asked me out on our first date. Our first date was May 1, 2002, the feast of St. Joseph the Worker. I have a strong devotion to St. Joseph, so I took this as a good sign. So much so, I was ‘dumb’ enough to let him pick me up from my apartment instead of meeting him at the restaurant!

What can I say? Our connection went deeper. We talked at the restaurant over two hours. Left the restaurant and we talked some more. A week later, we met each other’s parents. Six months later, on his birthday, Michael asked me to marry him.

His proposal was so special. He didn’t take me to a restaurant or to our favorite spot to propose. He took me to church. We went to the local church which had perpetual adoration. After we were praying for a while, he whispered to me to close my eyes. “Why? I don’t want to,” I said. “Just do it,” he said. So I closed my eyes and after a few seconds he told me to open them. He had placed the ring on the top edge of the pew in front of us. When I saw it I started trembling and I looked over at him. He knelt on the kneeler and said, “In the presence of God, Carol, will you marry me?” Obviously, I said yes. We prayed for a couple of more minutes before going to share the news with our families and continue to celebrate his birthday.

Nine months later we were married. Two years later we had Andrew. Like I said above, it hasn’t always been easy. But God has always been faithful. Both of us have grown and changed and we’ve been through some very rough times, BUT we trust in the Lord and know that the Lord has brought us together for His purpose and glory.

Your turn. How did the Lord bring you and your spouse together?

(Photo Credit)

Painted Wooden Saints…with a Purpose!

Over at Equipping Catholic Families, I have been looking for ways to
convert secular activities and board games to be Catholic! 

After finally painting little wooden peg dolls, I have found all kinds of ways to introduce them into family activities, integrating both family members and favorite patron saints!

A favorite is our Saints-2-Go travel pack! 
I think that these will be handy in our travels!
We’ve used the little characters in our favorite board games,
further integrating our favorite patron saints into our cast of family characters.
The possibilities are endless! 
More converted-2-Catholic Board Games



I am a wife, Mom of 5+ kids, a designer, an architecture school survivor, an author and a crafter and I think it’s cool to be Catholic! Check out the Arma Dei Shoppe for solid Catholic, fun teaching tools and gifts to celebrate and teach the Catholic Faith and subscribe to Equipping Catholic Families for family-building and Faith-centred crafts!

Crafts to make in August

The Passion of John the Baptist {Aug. 29}

Passion of John the Baptist {Aug. 29}

{Aug. 6}

St Jane Frances de Chantal
“Love of Neighbor” {Aug 12}

{Aug. 10}

Jesus is in the Eucharist! Straight Line Art Project

St. Clare of Assisi

{Aug. 11}

St. Clare of Assisi
{Aug. 11}
Mary’s Heavenly Altar
 See how to create this grotto.

Assumption {Aug. 15}

July Saints!

Check out this DIY photo-collage technique with a home scanner!
Watch for a special Catholic I Spy Link-Up and Contest available soon hosted by Jennifer at Crafolic and Monica at Equipping Catholic Families.
Link up your favorite SAINTS posts at the
CeleLINKY with the SAINTS!  
Lots of room in July….and April and June!!