Wednesday, December 10, 2014

St. Luke's Mission of Mercy - Helping out Locally at Christmas (and anytime)

There are bell-ringers everywhere you go this time of year and some choose to donate to the Salvation Army. For some Catholics, this is not without controversy. Some point to the fact that the Salvation Army finds abortion to be acceptable in many situations as a reason to withhold support. (I maintain if you use abortion viewpoint as a litmus test of support, there are a lot of other religions you would have to exclude). Others have been busy packing and shipping boxes full of items for Operation Christmas Child. Again, some have concerns about this program. I believe that giving is a very personal thing and would never tell someone which organization they can support and which they cannot. There is one local Buffalo mission that has been making a big difference in the lives of others since 1994.

[Divine Mercy Image]

St. Luke's Mission of Mercy is located on Walden Avenue in Buffalo. At this past Thanksgiving, they distributed 2,600 bundles of food. Each bundle included two bags of dry/canned goods including rolls, potatoes, vegetables, macaroni and cheese, cookies. Folks also received perishable items including meat, butter, milk, frozen desserts, etc.

  • They serve two meals per day, six days a week and one meal on Sunday. 
  • They provide shelter for men and women of all ages who otherwise would have no place to lay their head.
  • They provide housing for many families in need.
  • They provide a house for men recovering from addictions.
  • They provide donated clothing, household items, small appliances to anyone in need. 
  • They maintain contact with those who have needed their support in the past, including prison ministry and support for those transitioning from imprisonment to life outside of prison.
  • They offer their church for the burial of Catholics who would have no other place to go, donating the time of their choir and facilities. 
It is my experience that they are always in need of new socks, gloves, hats, coats, hygiene products, medications, prayers, and time. They rely solely upon the generosity of others and if you are looking for a local organization to support, please consider St. Luke's Mission of Mercy. 

Donate HERE

To volunteer, contact them HERE


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Accidental Marriage by Roger B. Thomas - Book Review


I was intrigued when I read the description of the new novel published by Ignatius Press, The Accidental Marriage. How would a Catholic publisher cover the subject matter of a man living an actively gay lifestyle, fathering the child of a woman living with her lesbian lover, and they end up raising the child together? I often remarked to my husband that this was going to be a difficult book to review as I read it. Difficult not because the book wasn't a good one, but due to the complexity of the subject matter. I was hoping that the novel wouldn't be heavy-handed on either end of the spectrum of this controversial topic, and I was not disappointed. 

Scott and Megan are friends who enjoy lunch together on occasion. During one of their visits, Megan mentions that her partner wants Megan to have a baby. Scott offers to father a child for the couple and not long after she becomes pregnant, the relationship between Megan and her partner ends. Scott does what comes naturally to him and takes Megan in, marrying her so that she would have medical coverage during the pregnancy. The struggle for each of them to maintain emotional boundaries is palpable. Each of them are so immersed in their sexual lifestyle and identity, they bristle against obvious natural consequences from the situation they've found themselves in. 

There were no preachy moments in the book. It is neither pro, nor anti-gay. The characters are well-developed and likable. I found myself cheering for them, feeling a parental urge to hug them and tell them it would all work out okay in the end. Certainly each of us have struggled with identity, fought against what we knew we longed for and needed. Scott and Megan are no exception.

If you are interested in a book club study/discussion guide for this book, there is one available HERE

I give The Accidental Marriage 4 out of 5 stars. 

_______________________________________________________

The Catechism of the Catholic Church on homosexuality:

2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered."They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops statements on homosexuality are HERE

Catholic Answers Tract on homosexuality is HERE

Pope Francis stated that same-sex marriage is 'anthropological regression' HERE

Cardinal Bergoglio (now Pope Francis) on same-sex marriage HERE


  

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Catholic365.com - New Catholic Website

A new website is online, and making its debut in June 2014, Catholic365.com is churning out articles promising to be faithful to the Magisterium of the Church. Give it a look and if you like what you see, be sure to share their page and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.




*See my article on End of Life Care HERE

Since writing this article, my grandmother passed away. After yet another bout with dehydration/UTI/sepsis, she was finally eating and drinking fairly well. She ate her favorite meal - a turkey dinner and had some soda. According to her caregivers, one moment she was alert and the next moment her head slumped and she was gone. We fought for her right to appropriate care up to her final week in this life. It never got easier to communicate our wishes clearly, or to have them received (and carried out) the way we wanted them to be. It is my hope that others will find support and comfort in my articles on the topic, and as always, I welcome comments or questions either below this post, or in the blog e-mail: catholicponderings@yahoo.com 

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/freedigitalphotos.net

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.

+Amen

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.

*If you are interested in a book club study/discussion guide, there is one available HERE

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.