University Life!

Well, I moved out and have been living in a university residence for four weeks now. The homeschooler is alive and in fact, thriving! I’ve certainly learned a lot in the past few weeks, about myself, my family, school, city life, and people in general.

#1.  Homeschooling can prepare you for life ‘in the real world’.

September 7th dawned bright and sunny, and the whole of creation seemed cheerful that morning. I was feeling anxious, though. It was my first day of school. Ever. With the exceptions of a driver’s ed course and giving a presentation to some fourth graders on composting, I had never even set foot in a classroom before. So as I left the residence, I recalled Julie Andrews singing “I Have Confidence” in The Sound of Music and by the time I reached my first class, I was feeling much better. This ‘real school’ thing is not as hard as I thought it would be, and all 6 of my courses are going very well now.

Because I have some dietary restrictions I opted not to eat at the cafeteria. So that means buying my own groceries and cooking for myself on top of school. Good thing I have lots of practice in this area! Cooking for the family over the past four years has certainly paid off. Grocery shopping and budgeting are not new to me, but I am still learning to check flyers for savings, use the store rewards card, and avoid impulse buys. The nearest grocery store is a 15 minute walk from my residence, so I can combine exercise and errands into one trip.

Learning to manage my time throughout my high school years was the biggest blessing in disguise. Although it was difficult at the time, it prepared me for living on my own and university life. In high school I used a study technique called the Pomodoro technique. I do 25 minutes of studying/writing/reading, take a 5 minute break, and repeat. A few hours of studying go by very quickly this way. I can complete projects way before the deadline if I manage my time and exercise self-control. Weekends are my time to catch up on laundry, cook for myself, or spend some time with friends, which leads to my next point…

#2.  Have a support system.

There is no way I would be coping so well if it weren’t for the support of my friends here in the city. My family lives 3 hours away, so Mom has been texting me often to make sure I’m doing alright and sometimes the fam-jam will call me or Skype message me because they miss me quite a bit. This contact with them is great, but it doesn’t replace real life contact. Thankfully, I’ve got friends here in the city and in the past few weeks, we’ve gone for walks, had coffee at various shops, gone swing dancing, went for a beer after Adoration, and sat on a park bench watching the sun set and the city lights come on. This support system has kept me optimistic and I know that no matter what struggles I face, I am not alone. 

#3.  Prayer life is vital.

vital:  adj, essential to or supporting life; necessary to existence. From the Latin vita meaning life. 

Indeed it is. When planning out my day, I set aside 45 minutes for prayer in the morning. Angelus, morning offering, Rosary, and some time in silence can be fit into this block. I find that this time in prayer is a good way of preparing for the day and fortifying myself through God’s grace. I feel WAY better when I start my day like this. Because of my class schedule, I can’t make it to daily Mass, but I try to go to Mass or Adoration at some point between Monday and Friday. I need to recharge and be filled by my Savior.

That’s all I have for reflection now. Praise God for all the blessings He has given me! Not everything has been perfect, but His love endures and overcomes even the greatest sorrows. Remember that He loves you and nothing can separate you from that love!

 

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A Better Lent Than Last Year

Over at The Catholic Gentleman, Mr. Guzman has a post on 7 Ways To Have A Good Lent. Check it out, cause it is solid awesomeness. Also on that page is a link for a worksheet, which can help you make … Continue reading

What I wish I had said

I spent a good part of my summer at camp. By “a good part”, I mean six weeks. First there was Camp St. Louis, then Captivenia, then more Camp St. Louis, then Ignite to finish things off. It was a great summer. I met wonderful people and got to counsel a lot of great kids. They always make me reflect a little on my own life, too. In the younger kids I see the innocence of faith and the simple, pure love that Christ wants all of us to have. In the older kids, those in their early teens, I see that same struggle that I felt not so many years ago; that struggle for power within them. “Will I serve God or not? What is my choice?”

Many of these kids come from Catholic homes and no doubt, they hear it in church or at school: the Church has called for a New Evangelization. Of course, they don’t know exactly what this means, or how to carry it out. There is the evangelization that must take place outside of the Church, but there is also the evangelizing within the Church that must take place. The point that I want to focus on the most is the first one: showing those in the secular world the light and beauty of the Catholic faith.

The best way of doing this is by example. If you practice virtue and live as the best Christian you can, people will notice and take interest in your religion. You must practice your faith to the fullest! Become a living saint! That is how you draw people to Christ.

Now, I doubt that saying that would inspire them. More likely, they would run screaming in the other direction. So thank God I didn’t give them that lecture. But I wish I had said something to them, now that we’re after the fact; something along these lines: when you are among others who know you are a Catholic, you become for them a representative of the Catholic Church. There is a little food for thought. When an artist goes to paint someone’s portrait, he wants his representation of that person to be as true to life as possible. Likewise, we should try to represent the Catholic Church (or even further, to represent Christ Himself) to them.

Powerful Love

I was at Adoration a few nights ago and I was reflecting on something that happened when I was eleven or twelve. At that time my mom was expecting her sixth baby and she was having a few health problems, so of course, our whole family started praying for her and the unborn baby. Her health problems became a bit more serious and I got really angry at God. First I thought He didn’t care about our family and He was just ignoring our requests, but over time I became more angry and quit believing in Him. I ended up getting very depressed. I kept the hurt inside of me and put on a happy face when I had to, but when I was alone I cried everyday and wanted to die. When my baby sister was born about four months later, I felt that maybe there was hope. All glory be to Him who knew that my conversion would have to be based in the intellect! I found my little sister to be truly miraculous. Anyone who has seen a newborn baby has likely marveled at the tiny fingers and toes, and this was true for me as well. Deep down I knew that something so small and perfect had to have been created; it could not have happened randomly or by mistake. In this way my belief in God was restored. God moved my soul in many little ways that summer until finally, about a year after I originally denied Him, I committed my life to serving Him alone.

Anyways, as I was reflecting on this a few nights ago I realised something. Jesus KNEW that I would deny Him when He offered up His Body and Blood at the Last Supper and on Calvary, yet He suffered it anyways. I was absolutely blown away by this thought. Love like this is powerful and basically impossible to comprehend! Just thought I would share this little thought with everyone….God bless!

This one is about chickens. Yes, chickens.

A bit of back-story first: a few weeks ago we moved our laying hens into their movable summer coop, which we tow ahead every few days. It allows them more fresh grass to eat than they would get at their winter coop. Around the summer coop we set up an electric fence which keeps the coyotes at bay. In a nearby pen, we also keep several llamas and alpacas. Due to their hatred of anything dog-like, they will chase coyotes away as well. However, we had a small problem with our chickens this year.

Chickens are creatures of habit, and shortly after we moved them out of the winter coop, three or four hens decided they wanted to go back. So they hopped over the electric fence and started on their way. We had already closed up the winter coop by that time, so they ended up living on whatever they could find around the barnyard. Now for the interesting part.

As I was heading out on my walk today I heard one of these chickens making a good deal of noise in the llama and alpaca pen. I walked a little closer to the fence so that I could find out what the matter was. I saw a coyote running away with a chicken in his mouth, and a llama chasing him. Once the coyote saw me climbing over the fence, he dropped the chicken and ran off with a little clump of feathers in his mouth. Sadly, the damage had already been done and the chicken was dead.

So what did I see in all this that made me want to tell you about it? Permit me to use a little analogy scenario. Say the summer coop, guarded by the electric fence, are the Catholic Church and Her teachings. The chicken is a soul and the winter coop is its former way of life; that is, before making its home in the Church. The llama is this soul’s guardian angel and the coyote is the devil (hey, its just an analogy!). When a soul ignores the Church’s teachings and hops over them as though they are only optional, it’s aim (though seemingly unintentional) is to go back to it’s old way of life. The soul can try to make do and live the best it can, but nonetheless, outside the Church it is far more weak and vulnerable. It’s guardian angel can only protect it from so much before the devil claims it for himself.

The chicken’s story had a rough ending: it is dead and nothing can bring it back. But for Catholics who have left the Church there is still a chance; they can still come home and make peace with God. Please, if you are a Catholic who has been away from the Church for a long time, know that God still loves you and wants you to belong to His son’s one flock. God bless you!

“Rend your heart
and not your garments.
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
and he relents from sending calamity.”
Joel 2:13, NIV

Why there should be no such thing as a Traditional Catholic

Or for that matter, liberal Catholic, charismatic Catholic, or any of the other labels that Catholics these days give to themselves. The word “catholic” means universal, but why does the Church today seem so divided? In almost any given parish … Continue reading

The case for Communion on the tongue

Let’s get something straight here: the Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord, right? Right. And we receive the Eucharist at Mass, right? Right again. And because we love Him and want to show reverence for Him, we should handle the Eucharist as much as possible before consuming it, right? Uh…

Where I live, there is no real problem with Communion on the tongue versus Communion on the hand. All the priests we have had in the past fifteen years have been okay with either way of receiving. This is good, as I have read that in other parishes, some people are even refused Communion by the priest when they want to receive on the tongue (by the way, it is against canon law for a priest to do this). So how, after several hundred years of receiving Holy Communion on the tongue, did the Church gradually slide into receiving mostly on the hand?

Well, for starters, it was one of several liturgical changes that were made shortly after the Second Vatican Council (a great article to read can be found here). It started in Holland and although the pope, Paul VI didn’t originally want to, he granted them permission and the Holy See established seven regulations regarding Communion on the hand. In the late 70’s, Communion on the hand came to America.

Now before I start ranting, let me just say that I have nothing against the people who receive Holy Communion on the hand. However, I have many objections to the practice of it.

 

1. It does not foster an attitude of love and reverence towards Our Lord.

To quote the afore-mentioned article:

In 1950, 87% believed in the Real Presence. Today, that number has plummeted to a mere 34%.

I’m not saying that the reception of Holy Communion on the hand is the only reason for this statistic. There are a host of other reasons for it. But I think that this is one of them. Out of respect for Christ, we should refrain from handling the Eucharist more than we actually need to. This is God we’re talking about, people! Don’t tell me that receiving on the tongue is too good for Him. 

2. It is more likely that the Eucharist will be dropped or abuses may occur.

When the Eucharist is placed in a person’s mouth, the physical aspect of digestion begins once the saliva touches it (remember the soda cracker science project back in grade three?). Soon, the sacramental presence is completely dissolved. When the Eucharist is received on the hand, the communicant has to place it in their mouth, but here is the problem: many choose to take their time in doing so. When the rules for receiving Communion on the hand were layed out, part of it was that the Eucharist was to be placed in the mouth while still standing in front of the priest. However, many begin walking away before consuming it, and this can lead to problems. There are a number of satanic cults that use the Eucharist in their ceremonies, and the reception of Communion on the hand makes it easy for anyone to walk up in the line, take it, and put it in their coat pocket when they get back to the pew. My second cousin from Ontario was telling me how when he was serving a high school Mass, he had to tell a classmate to consume the host as he had tried to walk back to his seat with it.

As for dropping the Eucharist, this can happen under either method. Heck, the day of my First Communion I ended up dropping the host and I was receiving on the tongue (thankfully, it was saved by the wonderful altar-boy with the paten). I learned that the tongue has to be out a certain distance, but once you know that, you know it for life.  

3. It can foster dislike or hatred towards Catholics who prefer to receive on the tongue.

This isn’t really a big one where I come from, but in other places it can be. Sometimes people who kneel and receive on the tongue, pray the Rosary daily, or attend Mass during the week are seen as “tradsters”, “old-school Catholics”, or sometimes “rad-trads”. Along with poor catechesis, it is one of the things that breeds resentment between Catholics who want to be good and Catholics who want to be holy. There is a difference, you know, but that is for another post.

4. Many saints throughout the ages have shown support for Communion on the tongue.

St. Hippolytus: “The Body of Christ is meant to be eaten by the faithful, not to be treated with irreverence.”

St. Basil the Great: “The right to receive Holy Communion in the hand is permitted only in times of persecution.”

St. Thomas Aquinas: “The dispensing of Christ’s Body belongs to the priest for three reasons. First, because He consecrates in the person of Christ. But as Christ consecrated His Body at the Supper, so also He gave It to others to be partaken of by them. Accordingly, as the consecration of Christ’s body belongs to the priest, so likewise does the dispensing belong to him. Secondly, because the priest is the appointed intermediary between God and the people, hence as it belongs to him to offer the people’s gifts to God, so it belongs to him to deliver the consecrated gifts to the people. Thirdly, because out of reverence towards this sacrament, nothing touches it but what is consecrated, hence the corporal and the chalice are consecrated, and likewise the priest’s hands, for touching this sacrament. Hence it is not lawful for anyone to touch it, except from necessity, for instance if it were to fall upon the ground, or else in some other case of urgency.”

Blessed (soon to be saint) John Paul II: “In some countries the practice of receiving communion in the hand has bee introduced… However, cases of deplorable lack of respect toward the Eucharistic species have been reported, cases which are imputable not only to the individuals guilty of such behavior, but also to the pastors of the Church who have not been vigilant enough regarding the attitude of the faithful towards the Eucharist.”

“There is an apostolic letter on the existence of a special valid permission for this [Communion in the hand]. But I tell you that I am not in favor of this practice, nor do I recommend it.”

 

So there you have it: four reasons for Communion on the tongue. In my opinion, it seems pretty clearly spelled out. Saints and holy people have encouraged it, and because it has been almost discontinued in the United States and Canada, irreverence and abuse levels have risen. Reception of Holy Communion on the tongue is a little way of expressing true love and adoration for God, which in turn, makes us holier.

I have decided my position. I leave it to you to decide your’s based on the points presented.

God bless!

My new patron saint

Dina_Belanger

Learning about new saints is a fun little pursuit of mine. I try to learn a good deal about the saints because  while their lives were not perfect examples, they show us how to rise above the cultural and secular expectations and become holy. That is my ideal.

Anyways, my latest “find” is the Canadian nun and mystic known as Blessed Dina Belanger. You can read her whole story here (the site I have linked to is devoted to the stories of mystics and is faithful to the Magisterium). I find her story interesting for a number of reasons:

1. She was Canadian, like me.

There aren’t a lot of saints (or beatified persons) who were born and raised in Canada, so I find the stories familiar, in a way. When they mention the cold of a winter night or a city in a nearby province, I can sort of see the story playing out in my mind. It becomes familiar in that way and I don’t forget it.

2. She had a temper, also like me.

Just getting it out there: I had an awful temper when I was younger. As a baby I would scream for quite a long time without quitting, and as I got older (being the oldest) I got a little spoiled. So now I also have a holy person that I can relate to in this respect.

3. She chose “death rather than defilement”. 

When she was admitted to the Sodality of Our Lady she took the motto “Death rather than defilement”. This shows what a strong will she had, just like many of the other young saints of the Catholic Church. And finally…

4. She was a pianist.

There have been many saints and holy people who have played an instrument or sung a good deal during their life, but I think Bl. Dina Belanger is different. She didn’t just play piano for a few years. She persevered and became a very accomplished pianist (I can say this as a pianist who has read about her credentials. St. Cecilia is invoked as the patron saint of musicians, but I think that if she is ever canonised, Bl. Dina Belanger ought to be the patron saint of pianists. Just my two cents. 😉

So may God bless you and Blessed Dina Belanger pray for you!

Setting successful goals

I am terrible at setting goals. I can make to-do lists galore and simply end up crumpling them up at the end of the week while saying, “Well, I don’t really need to do that,” and it simply doesn’t get done. However, I have found a way to change that.

Over the past few weeks I have been listening to podcasts by this wonderful fellow named Dr. Taylor Marshall. In each podcast he gives (among other things) a tip that will help you to be more productive or just improve your life in general. In one of the podcasts he suggested just making a few goals for every day. You write down one or two things to do in the morning and one or two things to do in the afternoon. This is how I write mine out.

Jan. 23

AM

( ) Sew on quilt

( ) Practice 30 min. of piano

PM

( ) Do catechism with kids

And that’s it. Just a few things each day and I can say that doing this has definitely improved my life. Why? Because it helps you to focus on the most important tasks and then when they are finished you have time to focus on other things. So if you want to improve your productivity, I suggest you try this.

Until next time, God bless!

All in the name of “equality”

So apparently there has been some rumbling and shaking on the earth due to the recent remarks of Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson. He paraphrased 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (which is supposedly equivalent to “hateful speech”) and as a result he is being removed from the show. Now the “vast majority” of Duck Dynasty viewers who support gay marriage and homosexuality will get their wish and will finally be able to watch a TV show that supports all of their beliefs with exception.

Ah, 21st century America. Land of truth and religious freedom.

But see, here’s the part that I find ironic. The LGBT community can say whatever they want to the Christians who object to their view.

“You bigot! Christian sucker!”

“Its all about love, man. Can’t you see that?”

“If two people love each other, who are you to say they can’t get married?”

And so on and so forth. Its all fine and dandy for the media because they can show all of these liberated, happy people kissing and having a good time. It all looks really good, therefore it must be good.

But when a Christian says something along the lines of, “Well, I don’t believe that same-sex marriage is right,” the LGBT activists will jump on it with, “Well don’t force your religion/beliefs on us!” Heck, I’m surprised they haven’t accused WordPress itself of being anti-gay just because it puts a red squiggly line under “LGBT.”

Great. So they’re entitled to total freedom of speech and Christians aren’t?

Right. Whatever happened to, “one nation under God?”

No clue. *sigh* And all of this is in the name of “equality.”

Duck Dynasty patriarch suspended from show after anti-gay comments

Duck Dynasty star refuses to back down on ‘anti-gay’ remarks

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11