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

Belated Christmas greetings. Also, music.

As I write this, it is practically my favorite sort of December weather outside: fifteen degrees below zero (Celsius), fluffy snowflakes falling, frosty trees, and just a little breeze giving a “nip” to the air. This is one of those wonderful wintery days that brings classic Christmas card images to mind. The kids and I will probably go sledding this afternoon, but for now I have piano to practice.

 

Ah yes, I am a pianist. This is a detail I haven’t spoken much about on the blog. I started piano (under duress) when I was five years old, and I changed teachers a number of times. I am currently playing Grade 9 repertoire (Royal Conservatory). Music is one of the things that gives me a reason to get up in the morning. Even listening to it can leaving me feeling refreshed, in awe, or with a new outlook on life in general. The latest piece I am working on is Mozart’s 1782 Fantasia in D Minor. Exciting, really. To God be all the glory. 🙂

Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
    praise him with the harp and lyre,
 praise him with timbrel and dancing,
    praise him with the strings and pipe,
 praise him with the clash of cymbals,
    praise him with resounding cymbals.

 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord.     Psalm 150:3-6, NIV

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

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!

Make 2014 a year for learning!

bookstack

While I was reading my daily dose of Catholic blogs over on Big Pulpit, I came across something cool. Please note, I’m only saying its cool because I’m one of those scholarly young Catholics who like to read more about the Catholic faith (and because Vatican II fascinates me 😉 ). Nonetheless, its good for all Catholics to try and learn more, and what better time than the new year!

The cool thing I found was a reading plan that takes you through all of the Vatican II documents in fifty-two weeks. Each reading is a few paragraphs long (be warned: parts of it can be a little difficult to understand) and you only have to do one reading per day. You can find these documents online, or you can use the handy-dandy link I have included below.

For the reading plan, click here.

For links to the documents, click here.

May God bless each and every one of you!

A Psalm for Advent

Out of the depths I call to you, Lord;
Lord, hear my cry!
May your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.
If you, Lord, mark our sins, Lord, who can stand?
But with you is forgiveness and so you are revered.

I wait with longing for the Lord, my soul waits for His word.
My soul looks for the Lord more than sentinels for daybreak.
More than sentinels for daybreak, let Israel look for the Lord.
For with the Lord is kindness, with Him is full redemption,
And God will redeem Israel from all their sins.

Psalm 130

Another anniversary…

Today is another special day for me. Not only is the Solemnity of All Saints; its my anniversary with Jesus.

On October 31, 2010, after almost a year of doubt and disbelief in God, I was struck by how much He loved me, even when I didn’t deserve it. I decided to come back into the fullness of the faith and follow Jesus. So the very next morning I started out by praying the Rosary and asking Mary to pray for me, and almost every day since then I have prayed the Rosary. I also promised God that I would remain pure according to my state in life, practice virtue (especially charity), and I would always strive to do His Will. As time went on, I gradually started adding more and more prayers to my daily routine, so that now I pray and read the Bible for almost an hour a day.

After a few months of praying a daily Rosary and a couple of other prayers, I started to see changes in myself. I went to Confession more frequently. Before that decision to follow Jesus, I would only go to Confession two or three times each year, but once I saw myself for who I truly was (a sinner), I realized how much I needed His mercy. Another effect was the desire to learn more about my faith. A new family had started attending Mass at our parish, and I learned that they attended Mass in Latin occasionally. Prior to that, I had never even heard of such a thing! So I looked through all of the Catholic books on our bookshelf, researched on the computer, and found a few answers. One of the websites where I found the most information is Catholic Answers Forum. I met lots of wonderful people on this forum who attend the Latin Mass and could give me a few answers to my questions. Soon, I saw that there were many other things that I didn’t know about the Catholic faith, like that the USA has more holy days of obligation than Canada, and that Saint Therese’s parents were beatified. I will freely admit, though, I still have lots to learn.

God has greatly blessed me, both in the past three years and on this special day. He gave me the life and strength to rise early and praise Him, the sunrise this morning was absolutely glorious, and most importantly, He has given me the hope of seeing Him in heaven someday. Praise the Lord!

Why this blog exists

Today I learned that I have been posting on this little blog for one year. On this first anniversary, I find myself wondering one thing: why? Why did I create this blog? Why did I pick that strange brown background when everyone else is going with white (okay, maybe not everyone)? Why didn’t I quit? Why did I bother to continue, even when the pages were not getting as many views or likes as I had hoped?

In all honesty, I’m not sure exactly why I started a blog. I am not a strong writer, I’m not really all that funny, I’m not a well-versed apologist or evangelist, I can’t write long, intelligent posts about important topics, and I am not very diligent when it comes to posting regularly. Out of all this, however, I found a reason to keep blogging.

st_therese (2)

Yep, Saint Therese of Lisieux. Heres the reasoning behind it.
Saint Therese was a simple Carmelite nun. During her short life on earth, she didn’t do amazing things like heal the sick, write great books, or reform orders of monks. She didn’t travel across the world proclaiming the Gospel to the poor, or start schools and hospitals that would change the lives of thousands of people. She simply loved God in all that she did and through that simplicity she attained sanctity. She didn’t have to do great things; only small things with great love. This teaches us something very important. Often, as Catholics living in the time of the New Evangelization, we start believing that we have to do something big to spread the Gospel, like travel to foreign countries as a missionary or feed all the poor and homeless in our hometown. As Saint Therese shows us, this is not necessarily true. Yes, we need foreign missionaries and people who care for the homeless, but not everyone can do these things. As 1 Corinthians 12:28 states,

Some people God has designated in the church to be, first, apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers; then, mighty deeds; then gifts of healing, assistance, administration, and varieties of tongues.

Saint Paul points out that there are different positions in the church that need to be filled. Not everyone can have gifts of healing, or no one will teach. Not everyone can be a prophet, or no one will have the gift of administration. God calls different people to different ministries in life. Now for a little story.

Most of my homeschooling friends don’t plan to enter college or university right after high school. Instead, they want to do missionary work for a year or two. I’m the odd one in the bunch, though. Because I want to be a piano teacher when I grow up, I need to keep my piano skills sharp for getting into university, and this is nearly impossible to do as a missionary. I can trust, though, that because God is calling me to a different job, I will still be able to evangelize in some way. While I was wondering about this last fall, I thought about starting a blog. At first I had some doubts: what if I don’t like it after a while? What if I make a mistake in some line of philosophy and a really smart person comments on my failure? What if no one reads my blog? What if my posts are too long or too short? After a bit of of thought, I decided that if it would be something giving glory to God, then He would provide all that I needed. So after sorting out some kinks, I started blogging. It doesn’t get read much, it doesn’t look fancy, and it isn’t run by a computer smart person, but I trust that if God wants me to evangelize in some small way right now, then maybe this is it.

One more note: to everyone who has followed, liked, or commented on my blog during this past year, thank you! You have encouraged me to continue blogging even when I didn’t feel like it. Please keep it up, and God bless you all!