Friday, March 29, 2013

Treasured Gift {Good Friday}

"If we wish to understand the power of Christ’s blood, we should go back to the ancient account of its prefiguration in Egypt. Sacrifice a lamb without blemish, commanded Moses, and sprinkle its blood on your doors. If we were to ask him what he meant, and how the blood of an irrational beast could possibly save men endowed with reason, his answer would be that the saving power lies not in the blood itself, but in the fact that it is a sign of the Lord’s blood. In those days, when the destroying angel saw the blood on the doors he did not dare to enter, so how much less will the devil approach now when he sees, not that figurative blood on the doors, but the true blood on the lips of believers, the doors of the temple of Christ.

If you desire further proof of the power of this blood, remember where it came from, how it ran down from the cross, flowing from the Master’s side. The gospel records that when Christ was dead, but still hung on the cross, a soldier came and pierced his side with a lance and immediately there poured out water and blood. Now the water was a symbol of baptism and the blood, of the holy eucharist. The soldier pierced the Lord’s side, he breached the wall of the sacred temple, and I have found the treasure and made it my own. So also with the lamb: the Jews sacrificed the victim and I have been saved by it."
~From the Catecheses by Saint John Chrysostom, bishop (AD 344-407)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Holy Thursday {Do WHAT in memory of You, Jesus?}

Now we leave Lent and enter the Sacred Triduum liturgy which begins with Holy Thursday's Mass of the Lord's Last Supper and concludes with the celebration of Jesus' Resurrection.  On Holy Thursday, Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist, the Holy Mass and the priesthood.  Although it's not a holy day of obligation, we wouldn't miss this Mass for the world.  Let me try to put this into perspective:
{Jesus' Passion, Death and Resurrection} = the culmination of the entire liturgical year
Followed by 8 days of celebrating the Resurrection {Octave of Easter}
Followed by 50 days of Easter Season leading us to Pentecost!

You might ask: Why not just skip ahead to the joy of the Resurrection at Easter?  Buy some candy, fill some cute little baskets and get ready to party!  But let's get real: what sense does the Resurrection make without the Crucifixion?  And what sense does the Crucifixion make without the Last Supper?

Dr. Scott Hahn is a shining star, but Jesus' True Presence, veiled in the Holy Tabernacle, is exponentially brighter!
I recently had the pleasure of attending a few lectures on the Eucharist given by Dr. Scott Hahn, a former Catholic-basher, and successful protestant pastor, whose quest for Biblical truth led him to the place he LEAST expected to find it.  Dr. Hahn himself says that a Catholic was the "last thing on earth I ever planned to be."   And: "I would have been in the hospital with broken ribs from my laughter..." at the idea of becoming Catholic.

I was inspired to hear Dr. Hahn:
The Eucharist is the key that unlocks the Gospel."
The devout Jews witnessing Jesus' crucifixion would not have called it a sacrifice, they would have called it an execution. 
In order to make sense of the events of Friday, one must to go back to Thursday...

Jesus' Jewish apostles were very familiar with the Passover ritual.  Clearly, Jesus stepped outside the box when he broke with the established and well known tradition and instituted the New Covenant (New Testament).

Jesus gave clear instructions: "DO this in memory of me..."

Jesus did not say 'write this in memory of me.'
Jesus did not say 'read this in memory of me.'

The New Testament was a sacrament LONG before it became known as a document~ according to the document
The New Testament (collected books of the Bible) never refers to itself as such, rather when the apostles and followers of Jesus referred to the "New Testament," they were speaking of the Eucharist!
Food for thought on this Holy Thursday!

More Scott Hahn on YouTube

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Holy Week or Hell Week?

God truly gives us freedom to choose.

Life or death. 

Good or evil.

Each day.

Each minute of each day.

We either choose to follow God, or we choose to reject Him and follow His adversary, the enemy.

Choose well, friends!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Rocky says, "Some podcasts make my day!"

Listen to this one on TRUE WORSHIP, given by Father Mike Schmitz at the University of Minnesota Duluth's NCCM:

Thanks for all your prayers for Billie ~ with the blockage resolved, she is expecting to be released from the hospital and get back to vacationing on Kauai very soon!    

Tim arrived safely after nine hours of air travel and is currently drinking bad coffee whilst recovering from a poor night's sleep inside the rental car parked at the hospital.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Palm Sunday {Prayer Request}

Pope Francis carries woven palm fronds as he walks in a procession at the beginning of Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican March 24. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis celebrated his first Palm Sunday Mass as pope March 24, telling an overflow crowd in St. Peter’s Square that Christ’s death on the cross is a source of eternal consolation and joy.
“A Christian can never be sad. Never give way to discouragement,” the pope said in his homily, assuring listeners that with Jesus, “we are never alone, even at difficult moments, even at difficult moments when our life’s journey comes up against problems and obstacles that seem insurmountable, and there are so many of them.” (from CNS)
Today these words of Pope Francis give our family special consolation, as Tim departs on a just purchased one-way-ticket to Hawaii to be at his mother's side.  Billie is in hospital with an intestinal blockage on the third day of a long-awaited vacation on the island of Kauai.  We received the call from Tim's dad this morning, a call that came much too early on this Sunday morning for anything but urgent news.

UPDATE Monday: The intestinal blockage resolved without surgery!  Tim arrived safely and is with his parents at the hospital.

Two years ago, we flew home from Italy on Palm Sunday, the final day of our family pilgrimage after attending Mass at Santa Susannah.  How time flies!

Please pray for Billie and for Cliff, too.  Thanks!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Rocking Rome {Pope Francis}

A Jesuit and an Argentinian, our newly elected Pope Francis stepped onto the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica yesterday to greet the whole world and to unite us in prayer.  Pope Francis' sudden entrance into our hearts and our lives as the leader of Christ's Church on Earth is a moment we won't soon forget...

An ordinary home school Wednesday became an extraordinary day in an instant, when a text message from alerted us:
White smoke!  We have a Pope!...Pope to be announced on TV soon.
Simultaneously, Zachary received a text from a friend alerting him to the breaking news, and began searching the Internet for validation of the spectacular announcement.

We quickly turned on our TV and tuned in to the Eternal Word Television Network for full (and fully Catholic) coverage of history in the making.  A long wait ensued, about an hour, during which the reporters bantered on about the various 'known' details of our new shepherd and his background.  The suspense almost sickening, we anxiously waited for the announcement while making quick phone calls to friends and family to spread the news.

Peter was in his pre-algebra class a few blocks away ~ we called the teacher and left a message for Peter to 'call home immediately.'  Sharing family news like this could not wait until after math class, and once Peter heard about the papal election, he asked to be allowed to leave class and return home to watch the historic events unfold on TV.  Zachary offered to shuttle him home, and since we weren't sure when the new pontiff would enter the scene, we pointed a laptop camera at the TV and Skyped Zac's mobile for an audio feed  during his short round trip to collect Peter.

When our new pope's name was broadcast from St. Peter's balcony in Latin, we initially (mis)understood him to be a Cardinal Francis somebody, not a Pope Francis, and for a minute or two we speculated upon our own US Francis Cardinal George.  Very soon the name followed in English: Jorge Mario Bergoglio; now Pope Francis, and another wait ensued as we excitedly anticipated catching our first glimpse of our new papa.

Not long after Pope Francis' debut on the balcony, Zachary found a newly launched Wikipedia page, which offered gleanings of our new pope's life and background.  Some of our initial curiosities satisfied, we were also gratified by news that as a bishop, our pope refused honors and expenses like housekeepers and private transportation, preferring to cook and clean for himself and ride public transportation.

Pre-conclave speculation with Nerf bullets
The boys had speculated for weeks on which name the new pope would take. Alas, not one of them nailed it although many Nerf bullets were fired at our prominently displayed papal poster in playful attempts to gain insight on future nomenclature by targeting papal head-shots from the past.  No one in our sphere guessed that the new pope would be a Francis! 

Their friendly wagers may soon be lost to memory, but the exciting Roman events of yesterday and 'meeting' our new pope via TV during a what began as an average home school day won't soon be forgotten.  Vive la Papa!

Tim and the boys study papal history in preparation for the conclave.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Germany in July {Zachary's Next Adventure}

Three generations together at Holy Mass on Laetare Sunday 2013
Technically it's still winter, but since the University of Notre Dame's spring break occurs this week, we'll call it spring and celebrate Zachary's brief visit home.  With Zac's second semester at ND well underway, he continues to enjoy intensive German studies and won a grant to study in Munich, Germany this summer.

We knew studying abroad was on his radar, and are thrilled at this opportunity for Zachary to participate in a one month German language immersion program in Munich at the Goethe Institut.  The fact that he will travel and study on a grant awarded by ND's Center for the Study of Languages and Culture (CSLC) sweetens the deal financially speaking.

Zachary and Joseph with Grandma Billie and Grandpa Cliff
Zac will return home after his final exams in May for a few weeks prior to his departure for Munich, and return again for a few weeks in the summer.  This will not be Zachary's first time as an international solo traveler, as he departed Italy a few weeks before the family on our pilgrimage in 2011 to be home for community college classes.  Living alone in Europe for a month will be a first; but promises to be a fine (if foreign) adventure for our first born son.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Spiritual Adoption {Cardinal X}

As the Cardinals' Conclave draws near, we are all called to be especially prayerful, and Catholics around the globe are united in fervent daily prayers and sacrifices for the Cardinals and for our Church in this time of transition.  A clever new approach to aid in this universal call to prayer involves adopting a Cardinal with a click at

Our family gathered 'round the laptop before our evening prayers last night to join the over 300,000 faithful (and counting) who are linking up to pray for a specific, randomly generated Cardinal.  As we awaited the name announcement, we mused about the possibility of being given the Cardinal who will be named the next successor to Saint Peter at the conclave's conclusion.

Of all the Cardinals to be assigned, to our astonishment we were granted the Archbishop of Krakow, Poland, the 'boss' of our dear friend Father Michael Pio.  We received this announcement and photo in our inbox to confirm our adoption:
You have adopted this Cardinal:
Stanislaw Dziwisz, from Poland, born 1939-4-27.
He's been a Cardinal since 2006-3-24 and his function is: Archbishop of Kraków, Poland
Tim's paternal family ancestry is saturated with Poles, so our spiritual connections to this newly adopted Cardinal Dziwisz are also in the blood.  In fact, during at least one of my pregnancies, Tim lobbied for the name Stanislaw in the event of the birth of a boy, to carry on a family name.  I vehemently declined, but now that we've adopted Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, I guess Tim's wish has finally been granted.

In another randomly generated adopt a Cardinal experience this morning, our friends from France were given a Cardinal from France!  Which Cardinal will you adopt?

Please pray with us!
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Father, send down your Spirit over the conclave. Let the Holy Spirit inspire the hearts of the cardinals, that they may choose the man most pleasing to You, as Successor of Peter and Your Vicar on Earth. May Mary, Your Mother and Mother of the Church, be our Advocate. Amen.