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Sistas Weekly No. 3

Welcome to the recap of the Catholic Sistas blog for the week of September 10 – September 15! Hopefully you will find this new feature a helpful assist in keeping up with our wonderfully diverse posts. We wouldn’t want you to miss a thing!  😆

As part of our blogging schedule we have agreed, as a group, that we will not be doing individual blog posts on Sundays. Our week in review, Sistas Weekly, is set to auto-post so that we can keep holy the Sabbath and spend time with our families.

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Hey Catholics, Did You Know…?

The Sign of the Cross One day while perusing around Facebook, which I have a tendency to do, I came upon a great image posted in my newsfeed: (Image posted by the page http://www.facebook.com/TheCatholicChurch, maintained by http://www.uCatholic.com) Many of us Catholic Sistas (and friends) began discussing the image.  I was surprised by how many had never heard of this tradition!  I had actually been taught this while I was in high school, with a slight variation – to cross myself with 3 fingers (thumb, index, middle) as the sign of the Trinity, while bending the other 2 (ring and pinky) as the dual nature of Christ. Other ladies had their own ways that they were taught. Read more »

God’s Instruction Book for Parents

As parents, we are always looking for extra support in rearing our children as people of God.  I have collected a few quotes and would like to share those that always help me:   “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”  Matthew 3:17 I say this to my children often.  I want them to know that I love them with the unconditional, undying love of a parent—the love the Father showed to His own Son, Jesus. Read more »

 

Taking Your Enemy Off The Cross

“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven”. -Matthew 5: 44-45

Once upon a time I had a job outside the home, a career even. As a middle school teacher at a Catholic school, I enjoyed my job, but there were a few days out of the year I loathed. Two of these days were our staff retreats. You see there are few things more torturous to a teacher than to use one of her days without students, namely the day before Thanksgiving, as a day to put her in a room full of crabby women and insist she do ice-breakers and reflections. Read more »

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Finding My Path to Holiness

I stared at the simple white host in the monstrance and waited. It was silent and still in the small, brick building that served as a perpetual adoration chapel on the campus of Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio.  It was an ideal place for listening, and that’s what I was there to do.  I was in the middle of a crisis of sorts, and I had come to present my problem to the Lord and beg Him to show me the way. Read more »

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From Agnostic Theist to Seminarian: Part 4

Catholic Sistas welcomes the fourth and final installment of seminarian Craig DeYoung’s beautiful conversion story. You can click on the following links to reach the first, second, and third parts of Craig’s story. The last two months have been an incredible blessing. I had the opportunity, for the month of July, to make the 30-Day Exercises of St. Ignatius. The exercises were an incredible experience, during which I fell even more deeply in love with Jesus and He showed me how real His love truly is. He drew me deeper into the mystery of His desire for my heart, and called forth a greater self-gift. Read more »

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PURGE ALL THE THINGS!!!

I moved halfway across my state a month ago. And if you know Texas, that’s pretty far. In an effort to reconnect as a couple, my husband and I decided to leave a well-paying job for lower salary that would allow us to be closer to my family and significantly improve his family time. So, in 2 weeks, I had to pack up a 1300 sq. ft. house.

Read more »

 

The Seven Sorrows of Mary, our Mother

Seven Sorrows of Mary If we are temples of the Holy Ghost; if we are made members of the Body of Christ at our Baptism; if the Body of Christ is our Holy Mother the Church; how much more so then is Mary both our personal model as believers, and the model of the Church?

Read more »

 

Broken Childhood Healed by Christ

Rushing to my pew, quietly and quickly, I tried to go unnoticed. A shy college student, I had no one to really go to Mass with me – well, not as often as I wanted to go, which was daily. Pulling the kneeler down, I felt my knees hit the leather chocolate brown cushion, folded my hands in prayer and closed my eyes in adoration. Just a few minutes later, I heard little feet scuffling the tile floor of the center aisle; I didn’t have to open my eyes because I knew it was the Sanchez mother and her nine little ones. In admiration, as I heard the last set of feet pass my pew, I opened my eyes to catch a glimpse of this lovely family which stood out like a sore thumb at our parish of over 500 families because of the size of theirs. Read more »

 

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Catechism Emily Faith Formation Prayer Uncategorized

Hey Catholics, Did You Know…?

The Sign of the Cross

One day while perusing around Facebook, which I have a tendency to do, I came upon a great image posted in my newsfeed:

(Image posted by the page http://www.facebook.com/TheCatholicChurch, maintained by http://www.uCatholic.com)

Many of us Catholic Sistas (and friends) began discussing the image.  I was surprised by how many had never heard of this tradition!  I had actually been taught this while I was in high school, with a slight variation – to cross myself with 3 fingers (thumb, index, middle) as the sign of the Trinity, while bending the other 2 (ring and pinky) as the dual nature of Christ. Other ladies had their own ways that they were taught.

So, in noticing the differences, I decided to do a little homework and share some of the history of this interesting little tradition with you all!

Let’s go back to the 5th Century… when some heresies were arising…  Nestorianism and Monophysitism were taking aim at the nature of Christ.
Was he really fully human?
Was he really fully divine?
Or was he some sort of meshy-in-between god-like-man?

It was getting messy… so the Councils were called (Ephesus 1 & 2 and Chalcedon), heresies were shouted, excommunications were handed down, and the dust began to settle out.

Christ was ONE  hypostasis (person), but TWO natures.

CCC 469      The Church thus confesses that Jesus is inseparably true God and true man. He is truly the Son of God who, without ceasing to be God and Lord, became a man and our brother.

THUS… the SIGN OF THE CROSS began to evolve…

At first, Christians made a small cross only on their foreheads with their thumbs.  It seems that this began to change when the heresies mentioned above began to come to light… one thumb transitioned to two fingers – signifying the dual nature of Christ (like the picture above).  After that it seems many different traditions were spawned.

Here are some of the variations I came across:

~Touch your thumb and ring finger together and hold your index finger and middle finger together to signify the two natures of Christ.

~Hold your thumb and index finger together to signify the two natures of Christ.

~Hold your thumb, index finger, middle finger together (signifying the Trinity) while tucking the ring finger and pinky finger (signifying the two natures of Christ) toward your palm.

~ Hold your hand open with all 5 fingers — representing the 5 Wounds of Christ — together and very slightly curved, and thumb slightly tucked into palm

So Catholics… did you know this tradition?

Which method do you use?

 

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Apologetics Current Events Domestic Church Emily Faith Formation Ink Slingers Marriage Matrimony Sacraments

Defending Marriage

As Catholics, we all know the powerful spiritual nature of the Sacrament of Matrimony. In the Catechism we are taught:

1601 “The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.”

Defending the Sacramental nature of the union between a man and woman is not difficult. We have a clear path of solid teachings handed down through sacred tradition.

Defending marriage law in the civil arena is an entirely different story.

We’ve all heard the arguments:

“We’re not discussing Catholic moral theology, we’re discussing civil law.”
“Why does it matter what consenting adults do in their own bedrooms? Marrying homosexuals doesn’t affect YOU!”
“This is a civil rights issue!”

… and a quadrillion others, I’m sure. The fact is, it’s quite a complicated issue.

First, it’s important to separate the purpose of marriage from the effects of marriage in civil society.

The purpose of marriage, historically in civil society, was solely meant for the legal protection of the family that is built through the procreative act. Marriage is a contract that creates kinship between a man and a woman so that the basic building block of society, the family, can be legally protected. So fundamentally, the law, at it’s basic roots, is about protecting the potential that naturally, normally, and typically arises from having sex.

The word marriage is ultimately derives from Latin mātrimōnium which combines the two concepts mater meaning “mother” and the suffix –monium signifying “action, state, or condition.” Marriage is about the “action” that makes a “mother”… sex, and specifically procreative sex.

A few states in the US still require the marriage to be consummated, as a completion of the marriage contract. Yes, marriage is about having LEGAL PROCREATIVE SEX (procreative meaning that it is done in a manner that could bring about procreation – assuming fertility is present). Being fertile and actually producing children is never mentioned. Fertility is an entirely separate issue, less you begin to question the protection of the marriage contract. Of course marriage is also about a bond of love between man and wife. A wife is not a piece of property that can be bought or sold simply for the ability to procreate. Marriage, by law, must be consensual. But regardless, in the civil arena – marriage, at it’s very basic roots, is about protecting the legal rights to have procreative sex.

The effects of marriage in civil society vary from state to state and country to country. These are the laws that give entitlements to married couples. These entitlements often make sense when we consider that the family is the building block of the greater society. There are economic benefits that encourage families to raise up concerned citizens who will become productive tax payers in the next generation. There are privacy laws that protect our ability to share personal information within the family. There are legal restraints on who we can name as beneficiaries on financial products such as health insurance and retirement plans. All of these laws have been established over time, based on the desired effects that the civil community feels is important.

These effects of marriage are often voted on by our political leaders or decided upon in the court of law. Marriage is not defined by these effects, but it often takes on these attributes because it is the historical building block of society.

Now that we have covered the definition and effects of marriage in society, let’s consider the current climate on the institution of marriage.

Those who promote so called “same sex marriage” often claim that they simply want the same effects or attributes opened to same sex partners that are available to married couples. As much as we, as Catholics, would love to fully implement a Catholic understanding of the family in society (and we do have the ability to voice that opinion through our votes), many of these laws may not be in our control. In fact, there are many ways around the established laws that open same sex couples up to quite a few of these effects. In many ways it’s hard to argue with certain things – like medical privacy laws. It is perfectly fine to be compassionate with all our brothers and sisters in situations like this. This is why it’s important to fully distinguish that these legal effects of marriage do not fundamentally DEFINE the idea of marriage.

However, there is another side that the promoters of “same sex marriage” are desiring to take on… and that is the very fundamental meaning of marriage itself. This is where we, as a civilized society have to draw the line. Opening up marriage to same sex partners would be slapping the government’s approval on sexual perversion. It would be teaching our children and all future generations that, according to the law, “marriage” is just about sex for pleasure. That’s all it is. It would be telling them that “some marriages are for procreating but others are not”. And this is really all coming down to the ACT of sex. And the ACT of sex is twofold by NATURE, by DESIGN. Yes, sex is an expression of love between two people, but it is also the ONLY means to natural procreation between those same two people, built into the very design of human beings. Marriage is a legallity that protects that institution of the family that is built through the ACT of sexual procreation. Anything else would be a perversion of the very meaning of marriage.

So as discussions arise, as they are very likely to in today’s political climate, remember to fully distinguish the fundamental meaning and purpose of marriage from the effects it has had on civil laws. Remember that we are allowed to each voice our own opinion on how we feel civil society should uphold the institution of the family through the effect of civil laws, but that these effects do not then, in turn, redefine the very meaning of marriage.

 

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Apologetics Current Events Doctrine Emily Evangelization Faith Formation Ink Slingers Reversion

Practice What You Preach! Believe What You Profess!

The Diocese of Arlington, Virgina recently announced that, as part of the world wide celebration of a Year of Faith within the Church, they would be requiring a Profession of Faith for all catechists and teachers of the Faith.

It’s hard to imagine that something like this should even be necessary. Why would anyone want to TEACH or be in a role of AUTHORITY in a faith that they didn’t wholly believe to be true? Yet, this new requirement is already causing some to be upset.

We all know there are plenty of Catholics who struggle with Church teachings. There is nothing wrong with having difficulty understanding or following what is right in every way. We are all sinners who fail miserably to live up to our aspirations of holiness and morality. But therein lies the crux of the issue.

How do we know what holiness and morality are?

Isn’t this why we turn to the Church in the first place? We put our trust in those who teach the faith to be a model and an example, to help shepherd and guide others along the way of our faith. If the catechists who teach us the Faith are not following the same moral compass as the Church, confusion arises and souls are not properly formed.

I’ve witnessed a former Director of Religious education write public letters to the editor of the local paper about her personal frustrations over the Church’s teachings on the male priesthood and contraception. I have known Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion to rant and rave against the Church’s pro-life teachings and stance on Holy Matrimony. It’s mind-boggling that these things can even happen! How are people who are so torn about the teachings of the Faith even drawn into positions of authority and leadership in the very institution that they, themselves, have publicly questioned and condemned?

My mind twists and contorts to understand their motivations. Our faith and the morals of the Church are not enacted by some sort of democratic vote, as if the Bishops of the Church even have the ecclesiastical authority over these sorts of issues! It’s almost humorous to watch the fruitless ranting.

From an article in The Washington Post:
Arlington’s Diocesan spokesman Michael Donohue said, “I can’t imagine there are many [teachers] who have issues with the Church’s teachings on faith and morals,” Donohue said. Asked about polls showing that the majority of American Catholics use artificial contraception, forbidden by Church doctrine, he said he “found it hard to believe” that anyone who had concluded that a Church teaching was wrong would want to teach it.

It IS hard to believe. But evidence proves otherwise.

So I find it extremely comforting to see a diocese make this a requirement, despite how shocking its necessity even seems. I hope this becomes standard practice for other dioceses, so that we can rest knowing and trusting that those who shepherd and guide others through the Faith are themselves adhering to those same beliefs. Without this foundation we would be a community of hypocrites.

Yesterday’s First Reading (Jeremiah 23:1-6) may be all too timely…

“Woe to the shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture, says the LORD. Therefore, thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, against the shepherds who shepherd my people: You have scattered my sheep and driven them away. You have not cared for them, but I will take care to punish your evil deeds. I myself will gather the remnant of my flock
from all the lands to which I have driven them and bring them back to their meadow; there they shall increase and multiply. I will appoint shepherds for them who will shepherd them so that they need no longer fear and tremble; and none shall be missing, says the LORD.”

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Emily Faith Formation Ink Slingers Prayer

Bear with me… it’s time to get habitual.

I’m really bad about habits.

I TRY, I really do!  I’m extremely motivated and have very pure, good, and holy intentions of maintaining a routine.  But, none the less I often fail.

When I first started writing here I was inspired to start a “word of the day” theme.  Well, like most New Year’s Resolutions, that habit really didn’t sink in.  So… I’m declaring a “DO OVER”!  Right here and now.  (at least… for now… we’ll see how long this lasts!)

{{{drum roll}}}
Today’s “word of the day” is BEARS.
{{cymbal crash, clank, ca-ch-ch-ch-chink}}

Yeah… there were bears.  In my garage.
If you recall from my previous BAT story, I don’t get along well with wildlife in my house.

So, I guess it’s not widely known that there are bears in Florida.  We actually have our own species here… the Florida Black Bear.  We live very close to a local state park and our area is notorious for having these wild neighbors wandering through the neighborhoods and digging through trash cans for food.

Our neighborhood, in particular, has had a lot of recent bear activity – so much that our neighborhood Facebook page is filled with daily sightings.  My husband, being more alert to these types of things, had been trying to remind me to keep the garage door closed – out of concern for his family.

Well, this is where we get back to the whole topic of HABITS.  I had been in the habit of mindlessly opening the garage every time I run the dryer (our dryer vents into the garage and the hot, muggy, humid air isn’t ideal to keep trapped inside the garage).  It was 7:30 at night, and my husband was away working with his new business partner.   Suddenly he gets a phone call on his cell phone from our neighbor, who happened to be pulling into her driveway.

(screaming)
“THERE ARE BEARS IN YOUR GARAGE!  Two of them!  And they’ve opened your refrigerator!  And they’re drinking MILK!”

My poor husband was so confused, because he knows he *closed* the garage before leaving, and his darling wife would *never* open it after the millions of reminders he had hoped were sinking in.
Yeaaaah.

Well, long story short – our neighborhood security guard was able to scare them away and back into the woods.  We only lost a few items – a gallon of milk, a gallon of tea, and a half-dozen sodas.  There were huge bear paw prints on our garage refrigerator… thank goodness they hadn’t opened the freezer where we have a decent stock of meat and fish!  All I know is that I will NEVER mindlessly open the garage door again, I don’t care how hot it may get in there from the dryer vent.

Forming new habits takes DISCIPLINE – or a sudden shock to your system.  Lent is good – it can serve as the yearly “shock” that we need to form new spiritual habits.  But, Lent doesn’t last all year.  So, how DO we form new habits in our lives?

The Catholic Encyclopedia on NewAdvent.org provides some nice insights:

The main factors in the growth of habit are:

  • The number of repetitions, as every repetition strengthens the disposition left by previous exercise;
  • their frequency: too long an interval of time allows the disposition to weaken, whereas too short an interval fails to give sufficient rest, and results in organic and mental fatigue;
  • their uniformity: at least change must be slow and gradual, new elements being added little by little;
  • the interest taken in the actions, the desire to succeed, and the attention given;
  • the resulting pleasure or feeling of success which becomes associated with the idea of the action.
Honestly, it sounds like a really rough workout routine… my muscles are already starting to ache.  Unfortunately we don’t always have trainers hovering over us screaming… COME ON, ONE MORE SET!  LET’S GO GO GO!!!!!  We have to find ways to quietly and privately form prayerful habits during our daily routines.

As a family, we pray before meals and before bed.  We give blessings to our children and ask God to be with them as the leave for school in the mornings.  During my day I try to listen to the daily readings podcast, and maybe squeeze in a rosary or a divine mercy chaplet on my drive home from work.

Prayer seems to come naturally when we are going through turmoil or pain, but what about those moments when prayer doesn’t come easily?  Having these habitual prayers in place helps when as we go through those times in our lives when our prayer lives seem to be in a drought.  It becomes so ingrained in what we do on a daily basis, so that, even during those “dark nights” when we can’t seem to find the right words to say, we can at least turn to our routines for a sense of comfort.

How do you incorporate prayer into your daily routines?

And, just so you know, I have officially broken my bad habit of leaving the garage open.  The bears can keep on walking… no food for you here!… And my husband can breathe a sigh of relief that I’ve FINALLY gotten the message.