Friday, June 13, 2014

Happy Abba's Day

In the U.S., Father's Day is celebrated on June 15th, the same day the Church honors The Most Holy Trinity. No doubt, the focus of the liturgy will upon the Holy Trinity, yet earthly fathers and the men who play a fatherly role in the lives of children will be recognized with affection at Mass. As with any holiday, secular or religious, there are quiet pangs of emptiness for those who have lost someone that would have been a big part of the special day. On Father's Day, families will be seen walking into church or the local diner, hand-in-hand, laughing and teasing one another. To all who recognize a father in the group, a smile will be offered with the greeting of "Happy Father's Day!" For people who have lost a father due to death, or as is often the case, by choice - there can sometimes be the feeling that the day cannot end fast enough. We recently celebrated Mother's Day in May, and I am certain there were many who missed that special woman in their lives, no longer at the family table during celebrations. Haven't we all had countless occasions when something special happens and we reach for the phone, only to realize that we can no longer call them on the phone to share a bit of good news?

Image by arztsamui/

By the Grace of God, we as Christians have a direct connection to our family in Heaven - the Communion of Saints. It is always our hope that our loved ones on earth will one day join the heavenly angels and saints, yet we humans still mourn our loss on earth.  It is no coincidence that Christ gave His mother to the Church through John, for safe keeping. She is our mother in Heaven, always interceding for us and drawing us closer to her Son. In turn, Christ certainly caused quite a stir by referring to God as Abba! He even gave us a model for prayer to His Father! On this Father's Day, I'd like to remind all who read this and miss their earthly father, or do not have a father in their life for another reason, that you DO have a father. Your Father in Heaven loves you immeasurably, will never give up on you, is slow to anger and rich in kindness. So if you have no father to buy a gift for or make a telephone call to, never yield to despair. Ask God to comfort your heart, and fill any void. He made everything in the world and beyond for YOU. Sure, earthly dads help you learn to ride a bike, and help put food on the table, but your Heavenly Father gave you the world.

God, our Father,
we ask that you bless all men
who are fathers on earth to your children.
In a special way, we think of those who
no longer have a father in their lives. Hold them in your arms 
when they long for a fatherly embrace, protect them and keep them
as only a loving father can. We also pray for boys and men 
who are not yet fathers, but will be some day. 
May they teach their children to know your Divine love, 
and to trust in your Providence until they are reunited with 
you in paradise one day. We ask these things in the name
of your Son, Jesus Christ.


Friday, June 6, 2014

Tobit's Dog: A Book Review

At the beginning of 2014, I decided to set the goal of 25 books to have completed by the end of the year. I say completed because I suffer from what my husband affectionately refers to as 'shiny ball syndrome.' In other words, I am easily distracted like a dog who is focused on something, only to catch a glimpse of a ball out of the corner of her eye and chase the ball, completely forgetting about the last object of interest. I love reading and keep track of my book collection and progress using the website Goodreads. Goodreads reminds me today that I am currently reading three books at the same time, down from four due to a late-night finish of a novel yesterday. It takes a REALLY good book to keep my interest and Tobit's Dog is that book.

Tobit's Dog

Tobit Messager is a black man living in the U.S. south during the Great Depression. As if being poor and struggling to care for his family were not enough, he had to face the many horrors of persecution so common during that dark time in our history. Due to nothing other than the color of his skin, Tobit was treated like a pariah.As a Catholic, he was unable to attend Mass because of the great distance between churches in an area where Protestantism was commonplace. Though unable to be part of the larger Catholic community, Tobit kept the faith alive and never gave into despair. In the novel, he faces unbelievable hardships, yet he never succumbs. Always doing the right thing, even when doing wrong would be easier and less painful to him and his family, Tobit chooses a path of charity and honor. The dog? Okra is a mutt who was discarded along with his littermates. Like Tobit, he is always faithful and can be relied upon in the most dire of circumstances. The rest of the characters in the book are well fleshed-out. Some characters you fall in love with; others you can't help hoping that God will mete out His punishment - now. 

This novel is a message of charity in the face of hatred; trusting in God's will despite being thrust into the the worst situations imaginable. This is not a light-hearted read, so if you are looking for a fluffy inspirational story, this book is not it. The horrors that people like Tobit faced are on full display in all of their ugliness. Violence within the storyline plays a vital role, and it is within those gut-wrenching moments that I found tears streaming down my cheeks. I was touched to the core by the strength and honor of the main characters in the book. Tobit never considers himself a victim, a trait that often appears to be non-existent today. 

Delightfully written, Tobit's Dog is the rare book that left an indelible stamp on my heart. The descriptions of people, settings, and situations paint just enough in your mind. I felt like I was right there with the Messagers as they faced life, though the book is never heavily weighed down with unnecessary words. There are clear Catholic undertones throughout the book, yet never preachy, and is equally approachable for people of any background. My only suggestion (after you get your hands on this book!) is that if you don't remember much about the book of Tobit in Sacred Scripture, read it AFTER you read Tobit's Dog

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Book Review: The Last Days of Jesus by Bill O'Reilly

I recently read The Last Days of Jesus: His Life and Times by Bill O'Reilly. If I were to rate the book using a five-star system, I would give it 3.5 stars. 

What I liked: The easy to read format enriched with informative illustrations, maps, and historical timelines. The author described the culture, regional lifestyles, religious beliefs, and political issues of the time period very well. 

What I didn't like: Though a Catholic, the author didn't use a Catholic translation of the Bible for reference. He said that Jesus died in 36 AD, which is not correct. Mary Magdalene is referred to as a prostitute, which is often alleged but no proof exists that it was indeed the case. The title of the book is not a good choice, as the author covers the entire life of Christ. Much of the story told by the author is shared with a great deal of poetic license, filling in the blanks left by historical texts and Scriptures with a likely story line.

This is a good book for adolescents and up, but should be accompanied by Sacred Scripture and good catechesis.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Catholic Apologist Pens Book: Pope Francis Explained

Available for $6.99 in Kindle format
Click on the image above to visit Amazon or HERE to purchase in .pdf for only $2.99.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Catholic Schools and Planned Parenthood Revisited

Do you think it is acceptable for Catholic schoolchildren to attend an educational conference that is co-sponsored by Planned Parenthood? I don't, and I'm one of a few fish trying to swim against the current. Previous documentation of the story is HERE in a 2012 +Ponderings+ entry.

Here is the permission slip sent home from the only remaining Catholic K-8 school in Genesee County:

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Pro-Aborts Offer "State of the Uterus" Address

Sadly, the headline is not a joke. Their video message, which I've decided not to embed on +Ponderings+, is this (my words, their message):

"The objectification of women must stop. We will use an object which resembles a uterus to teach this lesson of respect for all women. Women are objects (bonus points when they resemble reproductive organs) when we say they are, and that objects are used to is especially important when mocking people with antiquated and barbaric values."

I will let you decide if you want to go to YouTube to search for the video. Screenshots below of the video with title, and a snip from the transcript.

*This is a screen-shot of the video and not the actual video. Go to YouTube and search under the name to view it. 


From a 2012 post, girls selling chocolate suckers in the shape of a vagina in order to 'raise awareness of violence against women.' (From +Ponderings+ post found HERE.)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

'Gimme Shelter' in U.S. Theaters January 24th

In February of 2008, I posted about Several Sources Shelters. Today, as I write this, thousands of people are marching in Washington, D.C. at the March for Life. 'Gimme Shelter' promises to be a gritty look at true life struggles of young women who find themselves pregnant in less-than-ideal circumstances. We are called to not only fight for the life of the child, but to show undying compassion toward the women who face the most difficult intersection of their lives. We can help. P.S.: the message of the film is pro-life and I'm hoping the secular media won't notice until it is too late.

Synopsis: "A pregnant teenager flees life with her drug-addicted mother and ends up living on the street before being welcomed into her first real home in Gimme Shelter, an extraordinary tale of survival and redemption inspired by actual events. For 16-year-old Agnes "Apple" Bailey (Vanessa Hudgens), life has been a constant struggle to overcome the harsh reality of a subsistence existence with her abusive mother, June (Rosario Dawson), and June's string of lowlife boyfriends. When she finds herself pregnant and alone, Apple temporarily takes shelter with her biological father, Tom (Brendan Fraser), a wealthy Wall Streeter living in a New Jersey mansion with his wife Joanna (Stephanie Szostak) and two young children. But Apple's inability to adjust to her new circumstances, and her refusal to terminate her pregnancy, soon force her back onto the streets. Desperate to find a haven for herself and her unborn child, Apple reluctantly agrees to move into a suburban shelter that houses other pregnant teens. Emotionally scarred and unable to trust those who want to help her, it seems unlikely that Apple will be able to adapt to the shelter's strict rules and high expectations. With her safety and that of her unborn child at risk, Apple must find a way to break the shackles of her unhappy past and embrace the future with clarity, maturity and hope. Inspired by the real-life, David-and-Goliath story of Several Sources Shelters founder Kathy DiFiore, award-winning writer and director Ronald Krauss wrote his original screenplay while spending a year in a shelter for pregnant teens, and based his poignant screenplay on the lives of several of the shelter mothers. Gimme Shelter stars Vanessa Hudgens (High School Musical franchise, Machete Kills), Rosario Dawson (Sin City, Trance), Brendan Fraser (Crash, The Mummy), James Earl Jones (The Great White Hope, Star Wars franchise), Ann Dowd (Compliance, Side Effects) and Dascha Polanco ("Orange is the New Black"). Also appearing in the film are several real life shelter mothers, their babies and Kathy DiFiore. The film is produced by Krauss and Jeff Rice (End of Watch, 2 Guns). Director of photography is Alain Marcoen (The Kid with a Bike, She is Not Crying, She is Singing). Production designer is William Ladd Skinner (This is the End, Pirates of the Caribbean franchise). Costume designer is Ciera Wells (All is Bright, Damsels in Distress). Executive producers are Paul Hellerman (Pulp Fiction, The Mexican) and Scott Steindorff (The Lincoln Lawyer, The Human Stain)."

'Gimme Shelter' Facebook page
National Catholic Register article on the film
Several Sources Shelters