Archive for December, 2012

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Blog of the Year 2012

Just recently I was telling my husband that I wasn’t sure if I should continue blogging into the New Year. But yesterday, when I was finally able to get on my site again, I found that some of my blogging friends had nominated me for this award:

 

 

What kindness they’ve shown by acknowledging my very meager efforts to give God glory through this medium. In many ways they are part of the reason I keep on. It’s really from them I have gained insights, overcome apprehensions, seen another angle on a point of faith and walked away from the computer screen many a morning replacing a serious frown with a hope filled smile.

 

Thank you first to Nancy who blogs at  The Cloistered Heart and The Breadbox Letters. I can’t remember how we found each other, I only know it took just one visit to her site to realize I’d found a kindred spirit. Visits to either of her blogs will teach you how to focus on the only thing that really matters: our love for Christ above all. She manages this while being a presence on other blogs through kind and very encouraging comments.

 

Next, thanks to Patricia at The Holy Face of Jesus; she’s the best friend I’ve ever had whom I’ve never met face to face. There is a joy and sweetness reflected in her posts revealing the fruits of her meditation and praise before the Lord. That she shares them with us all is really a blessing we’ll only know fully one day in Heaven.

 

And to Karinann at Daughter of the King. There couldn’t be a more appropriate name for her blog, for as His daughter, she launches into the deep in her love for Scripture which I share with her.  Though far in miles, she’s in my heart and prayers every time I see her name in my comment box.

 

Now, I’ll name a few of my favorite bloggers and pass along the rules for the participants of this award:

 

1 Select the blog(s) you think deserve the ‘Blog of the Year 2012′ Award

2 Write a blog post and tell us about the blog(s) you have chosen — there’s no minimum or maximum number of blogs required — and ‘present’ them with their award.

3 Please include a link back to this page: — http://thethoughtpalette.co.uk/our-awards/blog-of-the-year-2012-award/(please don’t alter the rules or the badges!)

4 Let the blog(s) you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the ‘rules’ with them.

5 You can now also join our Facebook group — click ‘like’ on this page ‘Blog of the Year 2012′ Award Facebook group and then you can share your blog with an even wider audience.

6 As a winner of the award — please add a link back to the blog that presented you with the award — and then proudly display the award on your blog and sidebar … and start collecting stars…

Yes — that’s right — there are stars to collect!

Unlike other awards which you can only add to your blog once — this award is different!

When you begin you will receive the ’1 star’ award — and every time you are given the award by another blog — you can add another star!

There are a total of 6 stars to collect.

 

 

6-stars-image

 

Which means that you can check out your favorite blogs — and even if they have already been given the award by someone else — you can still bestow it on them again and help them to reach the maximum 6 stars!

 

Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.

—Proverbs 27:2

And now for the blogs, some old and new friends, who have been an inspiration to me because of their willingness to bring the light of Christ into a world so in need of His mercy and love. Thank you for your witness to the faith.

 

Nancy at  The Cloistered Heart and The Breadbox Letters

 

Karinann at Daughter of the King

 

Theresa at My Desert Heart

 

Patricia at The Holy Face of Jesus

 

Victor at Time for Reflections

 

Esther at A Catholic Mom in Hawaii

 

Blessings and Happy New Year to all new, old and yet to be made friends.

 

+PAX

 


posted by Caroline  |   8:21 PM  |   12 comments
Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Remembering the Precious White Desk

 

A post from Christmas past in memory of my earthly father whom I dearly miss:

 

 

I knew a little girl once who loved to write. She asked her dad for a little white desk that would fit in the alcove of her bedroom right under it’s window. In the solitary stillness of a winter’s night, she would slip out of bed and shuffle her pink slippers softly across the floor past her sister’s bed .. to that precious desk. There, she slowly opened the top drawer which held the steno pad and brand new pen her dad said were treasures for a real writer.

 

What should I write about, daddy?

 

Write what comes to you from the heart and write it so you wouldn’t be ashamed for anyone to read it, he told her.

 

So, she held the slim silver pen to the blue lined paper while, outside the window, snowflakes fell glistening on the panes like diamonds falling from heaven delivering her words. When the inspirations came she wrote and whether they brought laughter or tears, she recorded them all.

As the years passed and the child grew to a young woman, that first treasured white desk was exchanged for a new one in a new house where it didn’t snow anymore; then for a brown one set on cinder blocks in a dorm room.

 

There were countless desks for her over the years…but none as precious as that white one where she wrote by the light of the winter snow.

I happen to know– that though this little girl is now a grown woman, she still writes from the heart on a white desk; praying that her earthly father, who has long gone to his eternal home, is proud of her.

She often thinks of him at Christmas.

And misses him.

 

+PAX


posted by Caroline  |   3:25 AM  |   4 comments
Sunday, December 23, 2012

Padre Pio: The sobs and wimpers of the infant God

 

….were the first offers to God for our redemption.

 

 

Far into the night, at the coldest time of the year, in a chilly grotto, more suitable for a flock of beasts than for humans, the promised Messiah – Jesus – the savior of mankind, comes into the world in the fullness of time.

There are none who clamor around him: only an ox and an ass lending their warmth to the newborn infant; with a humble woman, and a poor and tired man, in adoration beside him.

 

Nothing can be heard except the sobs and whimpers of the infant God. And by means of his crying and weeping he offers to the Divine justice the first ransom for our redemption.

 

He had been expected for forty centuries; with longing sighs the ancient Fathers had implored his arrival. The sacred scriptures clearly prophesy the time and the place of his birth, and yet the world is silent and no one seems aware of the great event. Only some shepherds, who had been busy watching over their sheep in the meadows, come to visit him. Heavenly visitors had alerted them to the wondrous event, inviting them to approach his cave.

 

So plentiful, O Christians, are the lessons that shine forth from the grotto of Bethlehem! Oh how our hearts should be on fire with love for the one who with such tenderness was made flesh for our sakes! Oh how we should burn with desire to lead the whole world to this lowly cave, refuge of the King of kings, greater than any worldly palace, because it is the throne and dwelling place of God! Let us ask this Divine child to clothe us with humility, because only by means of this virtue can we taste the fullness of this mystery of Divine tenderness. 
Merry Christmas, friends.
+PAX

 


posted by Caroline  |   10:49 PM  |   3 comments
Saturday, December 22, 2012

‘Dear Baby Jesus’

 

 

(EWTN News/CNA)  By Estefania Aguirre  

 

A Christmas letter that Pope Benedict XVI wrote to Baby Jesus when he was seven years-old demonstrates his devotion to the Sacred Heart and his desire to be a priest.

 

The letter is on display this Advent in the village of Marktl am Inn in Bavaria, where he was born.

“Dear Baby Jesus, quickly come down to earth. You will bring joy to children. Also bring me joy,” he wrote in the 1934 letter, published on the Church-affiliated Italian website Korazym.org.

 

 

“I would like a Volks-Schott (a Mass prayers book), green clothing for Mass (clerical clothing) and a heart of Jesus. I will always be good. Greetings from Joseph Ratzinger,” he wrote in German cursive hard writing called Sütterlinschrift.

The letter, found during the renovation of a house that Joseph Ratzinger’s occupied when he was a professor in Regensburg, was published on Dec. 18. The message was discovered in the estate of his sister Mary, who kept the letter after the Pope’s house was converted into a small museum dedicated to him.

 

 

In Korazym’s view, the “letter was uncommon for a seven-year-old since he did not ask for toys or sweets, which were always in front of the Ratzinger family’s nativity for his three brothers.”

The first thing the Pope wanted was a Schott, one of the first prayer books with the missal in German and a parallel text in Latin. At the time there were two editions in the country, one for adults and one for children.

But little Joseph also asked for “green clothing for Mass.”

 

 

The Pope and his brothers used to play the “game of the priest,” and their mother, a seamstress, would help them by making clothes similar to those worn by priests, according to an “Inside the Vatican” interview his brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, gave a few years ago.

He also asked for a heart of Jesus, referring to an image of the Sacred Heart, which his family was very devoted to.

His brother noted that “each year the Nativity would have an extra miniature statue, which was a great joy … We would go with dad into the woods to gather moss and twigs of fir.”

 

 

In his biography, Pope Benedict the XVI wrote that the volumes he received were “something precious and I could not dream them to have been more beautiful.”

Along with his letter is another one by then 10-year-old Georg, who wanted sheet music for a song and a white chasuble, the outer vestment worn by priests when they celebrate Mass.

A third letter by “Mary,” a 13-year-old who wanted a book full of drawings, was also discovered.

According to Korazym, “the letters were all on one sheet because the Ratzinger family was not rich.”

 

 

Pope Benedict and his family lived in Aschau am Inn, a small town west of Munich, from 1932 to 1937.

“The Pope was very glad to find the letter and its contents made him smile,” said his secretary, Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, when he inaugurated the small museum at the end of summer.

“For him, the smell of musk still belongs to Christmas,” he added.

 

 

PAX  

posted by Caroline  |   2:36 PM  |   3 comments
Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Best Weapon Against a Wicked Foe

 

 

There is a war raging. And as long as God’s kingdom is spread on earth, we will never be free of the ‘malevolent spirits under the command of Satan.’  *

 

Then, what kind of weapon works against such a wicked foe who desires to kill, steal and destroy life in all it’s forms ?

 

Will a gun work? I had one of those once, I told the story here. I had every intention of using it to defend my body should another physical threat ever become real again. After the terrible tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, news stories now tell of a run on guns, ammo and the state of Tennessee considering a bill to fund training and arming teachers. Gun ownership is a passionate subject, but that’s not the goal of my discussion. It is a second amendment right and it’s proper use in a life and death situation can and does save lives …

 

But, does it defeat the enemy? What is it we want to achieve by arming our teachers with concealed weapons? Protection of our children, people say. Ah….now we have to expand the conversation a bit, because if it’s protection of the children you really want–

then achieving that is about more than guns…much more powerful…and yes, it involves God.

 

The question of what to do about the relentless, senseless violence in our society is a very valid and necessary discourse…but, unless we as a nation acknowledge that there is a sovereign God who knows the intimate nature of the human condition because He Himself entered into it through the incarnation, unless we acknowledge that He alone has the cure for the heart of man because He redeemed it on the cross, unless we stop trying to fill the void of our confusion with rhetoric, fame, tweets, viral videos, money, entertainment, booze or…guns, we’re going to wind up circling around the same wagon over and over again.

 

For the nation and kingdom that will not serve God shall perish;

those nations shall be utterly laid to waste.

—-Isaiah 60:12

 

The Holy Father reminds us in his latest book,  The Infancy Narratives,

 

Man is a relational being. And if His first fundamental relationship is disturbed—his relationship with God—then nothing else can truly be in order.

 

Nothing is in order in our society because our fundamental relationship is so disturbed that when the enemy shows up we have no armor on and what’s worse, we don’t know even know what the war is about.

 

There is no weapon of man able to defeat the principalities and powers of this present darkness. You might take one of his minions out temporarily, but only until the next one shows up. We are battling against the ‘spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places’ and nothing but putting on the whole armor of God will help us withstand the evil day.

 

I’d rather have a gun, some might say. OK, so have a gun. As long as we teach our children, grandchildren and anyone who will listen,

 

  • how to get their lives right with God,
  • what the real battle is,
  • and how to be strong in the armor of God, because we’re not contending against flesh and blood..
For therein is our only real and true protection for this life and the next.
What then, is the armor of God and how do we put it on?

Put on God’s whole armor [the armor of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies], that you may be able successfully to stand up against [all] the strategies and the deceits of the devil.

 

For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.

 

Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place].

 

Stand therefore [hold your ground], having tightened the belt of truth around your loins and having put on the breastplate of integrity and of moral rectitude and right standing with God,

 

And having shod your feet in preparation [to face the enemy with the [a]firm-footed stability, the promptness, and the readiness [b]produced by the good news] of the Gospel of peace.

 

 Lift up over all the [covering] shield of [c]saving faith, upon which you can quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked [one].

 

 And take the helmet of salvation and the sword that the Spirit [d]wields, which is the Word of God.

Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty. To that end keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints (God’s consecrated people)

—Ephesians 6: 11-18 AMP

 

 

One day , when the Lord comes again, these ancient foes will face their final destruction, but until then, we are enlisted in His army. The mightiest weapons are accessed on our knees.

And God supplies them.

 

St Rose of Lima, pray for us.

 

 

+PAX 

 

 

  * Ignatius Catholic Study Bible notes


posted by Caroline  |   6:59 PM  |   2 comments
Sunday, December 09, 2012

The Infancy Narratives

 

 

 

I suppose I’m on a bit of a blogging hiatus. Every now and then, tired catches up with me and I need to find a quiet corner, collect all the books I’ve set aside because I’ve been too busy, and be still enough, especially in this Advent Season to know– that He is God.

One of the books I’m enjoying is Pope Benedict’s third and final volume in his Jesus of Nazareth series, this one entitled,

The Infancy Narratives. Like my other two volumes it is marked up and starred, reflecting the Holy Father’s ability to unlock the deep wisdom hidden in the Scriptures and writing it in a way accessible to anyone who will open the Bible and follow along.

 

It is after all, as he says, a story for today as every generation longs to find meaning in life and to understand what Jesus’ mission and ministry was really all about.

 

From the section on, The Conception and Birth of Jesus According to Matthew:

 

Man is a relational being. And if His first fundamental relationship is disturbed—his relationship with God—then nothing else can truly be in order.

 

This is where the priority lies in Jesus’ message and ministry: before all else, He wants to point man toward the essence of his malady, and to show him — if you are not healed there, then however many good things you may find, you are not truly healed.

 

 

So, while I may occasionally post, time out is sometimes necessary, especially in this Holy Season to be sure I’m seeking healing in the right order.

 

And I pray this for you and your family as well.

 

+PAX

 


posted by Caroline  |   6:52 PM  |   4 comments
Saturday, December 08, 2012

Ineffabilis Deus

The Immaculate Conception

 

(Vatican Radio) On the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception it is tradition for Benedict XVI to pay homage to Mary by the statue of Our Lady near the Spanish steps in the heart of Rome.

 

A feast day Pope Benedict XVI has often referred to as a great one , highlighting how in her sinless perfection , Mary is a great sign of hope for the Church and for the world. In Pope Benedict’s very words: ” a sign of the marvels that God’s grace can accomplish in us, his human creatures: In these days of Advent, in company with the holy and immaculate Mother of God, let us prepare to welcome her Son into our lives and into our hearts”…

 

A Feast day which falls each year on the 8th of December, a couple of weeks ahead of Christmas.

 

And which refers to a dogma proclaimed by Pius IX in 1854 by the title of ‘Ineffabilis Deus’, which defines the belief that Mary, by special divine favor, was without sin from the moment she was conceived.

An idea that came as a result of a complex theological debate over the centuries in part because some theology felt it might contradict a major tenet of the Catholic faith: the universality of redemption

 

However as we know when Pius IX proclaimed the dogma he quoted quoting from Saint Luke’s account of the Annunciation and the Angel Gabriel’s ” Hail Mary, full of grace”. Understood as a recognition that Mary must always have been free of sin …

 

In an effort to bring you a more in depth explanation join Benedictine Abbot Timothy Wright as he shines the spotlight on this special day:

 

 

+PAX

 

Photo source


posted by Caroline  |   1:25 AM  |   2 comments
Tuesday, December 04, 2012

St John Damascene Defender of the Faith

[Saint John Damascene]

 

ST JOHN DAMASCENE  

PRIEST AND DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH

(c. 675- c.750 )

 

This is an Arabic icon of St. John surrounded by the words of his hymn in Arabic.

 

John was the son of a Christian representative to the court of the Muslim caliph. But, after he inherited his father’s post, he resigned his government job to become a monk– then later a priest near Jerusalem. I bet there are a few government workers today who wouldn’t mind trading in their post for a cell in a monastery somewhere. Anyways…

 

A scholar, who was a renowned homilist, he was nicknamed the “the golden speaker.”  He’s also considered a forerunner to St Thomas Aquinas for the summary of theology he wrote entitled,  ”The Fountain of Wisdom”.

Just after John entered the monastery of St Sabas, the iconoclast (breaker of icons) heresy reached it’s height. This was the heresy that denounced the veneration of images. Here’s why I find him so relevant for today. This is still a criticism many Catholics find themselves ambushed with by those who are absolutely convinced we worship statues.

As you can see, it’s an old story:

 

“From John’s writings: “Since there are certain people who find great fault with us for honoring images of our Savior and our Lady, let them listen to the inspired (St) Basil, so versed in Theology: The honor paid to the image rebounds to the original, and the original is the thing imaged from which the copy is made. Honor given to holy fellow servants gives proof of love for the common Master. This is our written tradition”.


“His defense of the icons caused him to be hated by the persecuting emperors. The Iconoclast were not content with making their case with word and pen. They rampaged about, entering churches, knocking down and defacing sacred images. John felt obliged to challenge this destructive heresy and its accompanying violence. He did so in a series of treatises defending the church’s longstanding tradition. He encouraged the veneration of icons, not obviously as objects of divine worship, but as aids to devotion and sanctification. Due largely to his work, the Iconoclast heresy retreated into history.”


Doctors of the Catholic Church

 

What’s that old saying ? The more things change, the more they stay the same. John lived under Muslim rule most of his life; some eminent scholars say he lived close to 100 years old. He was a staunch defender of the church’s understanding of images whose daily life consisted of prayer, obedience and virtue. He had a deep devotion to the blessed mother and consecrated all his sufferings to her Son, who died for all .

 

Next time you’re ambushed, don’t be caught off guard. Tell them to study history…

Tell them about St. John Damascene…

 

 

Come and let us drink of that New River,

Not from barren rock divinely poured,

But the Fount of Life that is forever

From the Sepulcher of Christ the Lord,

Yesterday with Thee in burial lying,

Now today with Thee aris’n I arise;

Yesterday the partner of Thy dying.

With Thyself upraise me to the skies.

 

— St John Damascene

 

+PAX



posted by Caroline  |   2:49 PM  |   2 comments
Monday, December 03, 2012

St. Francis Xavier and My Boat to China

 

 

ST FRANCIS XAVIER, PRIEST

(1506-1552)

Francis Xavier died in 1552 while waiting to be smuggled into China where he had dreamed of evangelizing. Through a sovereign series of fortunate events he had surrendered his plans to be a scholar in favor of becoming a missionary.

 

He met St Ignatius of Loyola, as he was about to embark on his career as a theologian and sensed a divine call to join him in the newly forming Society of Jesus. In 1534, he became one of the original seven members of the the Jesuits. One year later he was ordained a priest. Ignatius was about to do what seemed a given; deploy Francis Xavier as a teacher, but reluctantly decided to send him to India to replace a brother who had taken ill.

 

 

Unskilled in evangelism and languages, he never thought of himself as a candidate to be the ”feet” of the good news of the gospel to foreign lands, yet by his preaching and example he led tens of thousands of converts to Christianity in only one decade.

What I love about St. Francis’s mission strategy is that it was…simple. Upon arriving in a village, he gathered the children and like a heavenly pied piper introduced them to Christ using songs, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer and the Ten Commandments. Then he would send them out to help reach the adults in the villages. Once the people confessed belief on the Creed, he baptized them.

 

 

I’ve sat in many evangelism committee meetings listening to well meaning people brainstorm on the best methods, the best curriculum, the” how to’s” of bringing people into the church.

Here’s the best method for winning souls to Christ modeled for us in the life of this great saint.

 

“Here I am Lord. Send me where you please, even to India.”

 

I  have had a heart for the people of China since I was a young girl.  Before I was married, I begged the Lord to please let me serve Him there. But, here’s the thing. God does the calling…we do the following. It wasn’t meant to be for me.  My mission field today is probably a lot like yours. It begins in my own house, then extends to the community, the nation and the world through prayer and sacrificial giving.

 

We are all called to mission by virtue of our baptism. Where we are called is up to the Lord. That we are called is for us to submit to as His faithful servants.

 

Don’t miss your boat.

 

” If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. Anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.”

 

—-Mark 8:34-35  NJB

 

 

+PAX

 

 


posted by Caroline  |   3:28 PM  |   4 comments
Sunday, December 02, 2012

Ancient Expectancy

 

Henry Ossawa Tanner - The Annunciation, oil on canvas,

1898

Philadelphia Museum of Art

 

When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming. By celebrating the precursor’s birth and martyrdom, the Church unites herself to his desire: “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

 

—CCC 524

 

 

+PAX

 

 

 


posted by Caroline  |   2:24 PM  |   0 comments

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