By: Natalie Plumb
This week marks the week when we celebrate our sisters in Christ: National Catholic Sisters Week.
And boy are they a dynamic group to celebrate.
God uses His children particularly in their uniqueness…
From the Little Way of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, who taught us how beautiful simplicity can be…
To the big ideas of Mother Angelica, who penetrated a media otherwise dominated by secular broadcasts…
To the contented hearts of the nuns we haven’t even heard about yet.
This column originally appeared in the Arlington Catholic Herald.
By: Christina Capecchi, Catholic Herald Columnist
When Mary Margaret Gefre’s boyfriend drove her to the train station in their small North Dakota town, the 19-year-old farm girl didn’t tell him where she was headed on that brisk December day, clutching a small bag containing a rosary, her childhood prayer book, a few dresses and a pair of shoes.
She was bound for a cloistered convent in St. Paul, Minn. She was going to become a nun.
Today, at age 84, she marks the passage of that heart-wrenching winter by three feast days.
It was Dec. 28, the feast of the Holy Innocents, that her boyfriend, Baltzer, took her to the train station, giving her a peck on the cheek before driving away. The dark-haired young man had won her over with his deep faith and gentle ways. “I was sure he was going to be my husband,” she told me. “I could envision a happy life with him, babies.”
It was Feb. 2, the feast of the Presentation, that Mary Margaret officially entered the Sisters of St. Joseph’s community, a bundle of hopes and fears. In the open fields back home, she could see for miles: Every sunrise engulfed her, every cloud floated overhead, every star pierced the midnight sky. But in the city, trees crowded in on her. “I felt imprisoned,” she said. “It was sort of like the end of world.”
It was Feb. 14, the feast of St. Valentine, that Mary Margaret received a love letter from Baltzer. Her superior, Sister Sara Claire, already had read it and handed it to Mary Margaret soberly. The sight of his neat cursive and urgent plea to come home opened a floodgate of emotion. “It all came back to me. I had to do lots of thinking. It was very hard to give him up, but I just knew my call by then. In my heart I felt that this was my home.”
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Posted in From the Arlington Catholic Herald, Natalie Plumb | Tagged Arlington Catholic Herald, child, Christ, Christina Capecchi, cloister, community, feast day, God, habit, Little Flower, Little Way, Mother Angelica, National Catholic Sisters Week, novice, nun, sister, Sisters of St. Joseph's, St. Therese of Lisieux, unique | Leave a Comment »
By: Natalie Plumb
If she hadn’t agreed to write her column in advance on “Bought with a Price,” Arlington Catholic Herald columnist Elizabeth Foss likely would not have read its contents. But what she discovered when she took on the task was that Bishop Loverde has much more to offer than a pointing finger.
You can order your own copy of “Bought with a Price” through the diocesan website or Amazon Kindle.
This column originally appeared in the Arlington Catholic Herald.
By: Elizabeth Foss, Catholic Herald Columnist
Shortly before this column was due, I received a note from the Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde’s office explaining that he was planning to reissue his 2006 pastoral letter, “Bought with a Price.” The note went on to say that I might recall that letter and that this reissued letter was updated and full of practical suggestions, a study guide and a plan of life. It was destined to be a great resource for families. Attached for my convenience was an early copy in case I was able to write a column for the first week it was released.
Sure! A great resource for families, something new for me to read, a good reason to get a little extension on the column deadline so I could work over the weekend, all lined up to agree that I’d be happy to write on the bishop’s topic of choice. I didn’t recall the 2006 letter at all, but that didn’t deter me. I’d planned to write about a Lenten plan for families. This should work with that, right? The note said it’s a great resource for families.
I never looked to see what the pastoral letter addressed. I agreed to write about it without ever opening the 80-page PDF to see the subject. As I committed my weekend to it, I didn’t even know it was 80 pages.
It’s about pornography. I’ll admit right here that I would not have read this letter if I hadn’t promised to do so, sight unseen. Who wants to sit in her car during the only bright sunshine of the week, in the parking lot of the soccer field during warm-ups, and read what a celibate man has to say about porn?
You do. I did. This letter is so well-written, so worth reading. I started by cutting and pasting quote-worthy passages onto a blank document. Before I’d finished, I had more than a thousand words of quotes. I thought about just mailing those in and calling it a weekend. It didn’t take me long to recognize that instead, I need to persuade you, dear reader, to just read the whole thing.
Click here to continue reading this Arlington Catholic Herald column.
Posted in From the Arlington Catholic Herald, Natalie Plumb | Tagged 2006, addiction, Amazon, Arlington Catholic Herald, Bishop Loverde, Bought With a Price, buy, Church, diocese, edition, family, feast day, healing, hope, industry, Kindle, letter, March 19, men, pastoral, pastoral letter, porn, purchase, St. Joseph, version, women | Leave a Comment »
By: Erin Kisley
The week began on a sweet note (sorry, I know we’re all fasting today) with a cake tasting at our favorite bakery, Buzz. I’m not really a sweets person, so the experience was not nearly as pleasurable for me as it was for Joe. If he had it his way, we would’ve chosen our entire wedding cake flavor to be “cookie monster.” Thank goodness I stepped in and talked him into red velvet and lemon. Our wedding guests can thank me for that one!
Next on the week’s agenda was to plan our honeymoon. Originally, this is the first thing Joe wanted to do, even before booking a reception site (surprise, surprise). I kindly (of course) let him know I thought there were more important items to tackle first, but we would get to it. After days of helplessly Googling, “inexpensive all-inclusive safe Caribbean resorts,” we decided to meet with a travel agent on the recommendation of a coworker. After meeting with him for 1.5 hours, we were so thrilled that we were ready to call up Fr. Gee, marry that evening and fly to Mexico the next morning.
Sadly though, I don’t have a passport and my wedding dress was still being held hostage at David’s Bridal. So, as we floated off of cloud nine back to earth, we decided waiting until June 27 might be the more prudent decision. But, at least we know that on June 29 we’ll be landing in the Mexican Riviera to enjoy seven days and six nights of sun and fun!
Joe and I capped the week off with a class in Natural Family Planning. Much to my surprise, as I sat on the computer researching wedding ideas before the class, Joe took the NFP textbook off the table and began reading it. (Men, this will score you big points!)
Sadly, though, I think he may now know more about female fertility than I do… Not only was the class a helpful introduction (I would encourage everyone to attend the classes prior to marriage; visit here for details on how to do so in the Arlington Diocese), it was dully, to my surprise, a mini reunion with three of my Chancery co-workers. I am not kidding. Three of my co-workers who were recently engaged were at the same NFP class.
Yes…preparation for marriage is full of surprises and you’re sure not always ready for them!
This is the third installment of Erin’s weekly Wednesday series on marriage preparation and its inherent struggles. An engaged woman at the humble age of 26, Erin hopes her experience will encourage and teach. Her final posts will culminate in the event that marks the purpose of it all—taking her wedding vows and tying the knot on June 27, 2014.
Posted in Erin Kisley | Tagged bakery, bride, Buzz, cake, Caribbean, Chancery, class, cloud nine, co-worker, coworker, David's bridal, dress, female, fertility, groom, honeymoon, male, Marriage, Mexican Riviera, Mexico, Natural Family Planning, NFP, prep, sweet, travel agent, wedding, wife | 1 Comment »
By: Deacon Marques Silva
WHAT!?! You have never heard of malasadas? That is unacceptable! You have been shamefully deprived. Let me explain…
To most of the Catholic world, today is Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday. Both names are used to designate the day prior to Ash Wednesday, and each has its own unique connotation and reason for celebration. Fat Tuesday, for instance, is celebrated by all Catholics and some Protestants. The name predated the Reformation and recalls the tradition of eating special rich foods before the fasting season of Lent.
Shrove Tuesday comes from the Old English word ‘shrive’ meaning to obtain absolution for one’s sins or to repent. It is the preparation that the Church encourages in order to enter into the season of Lent. It connotes a readiness for battle against the world, the flesh, and the devil. It is also appropriate for those individuals, cities, and countries who are more…well, rowdy…during their Mardi Gras celebration. In New Orleans and Brazil, massive lines for Confession after a week of partying are not uncommon.
The only place to buy your malasadas in Hawai’i .
For the Portuguese who live on the island of Madeira (my peeps), it is traditional to eat malasadas. It is basically the Portuguese version of the doughnut. Krispy Kreme and Dunkin Donuts – HAH! – peasant food to the Portuguese. Large batches of these warm succulent yeast balls, deep-fried in oil – ‘til they are golden brown, and then coated with sugar (Mmmmmmmm!) were made to use up all of the butter and sugar prior to Lent.
This early 1800s tradition also made its way to Hawai’i (also my peeps), who, in fact, have named Fat Tuesday, Malasada Day. I have extremely fond memories growing up and gorging myself on malasadas. And if you live in Hawai’i, the only place to buy your malasadas would be from Leonard’s Bakery (A friend I met at the Chancery, Matthew, would definitely agree!)
Now, don’t shake your head in disgust. This was an act of charity. Someone must be pressed into service to assist in using up all the butter and sugar from the plantations prior to Lent. I was just assisting in our Lenten preparation. Hey! Don’t hate the player, hate the game.
Being that my wife is Croatian and Welsh, I need to address the traditions handed down to her through the Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Today, is also known as is known as Fastnacht Day. The fastnacht is a fried potato dough that is served with dark corn syrup. Wikipedia, I cannot believe I am using it, shares that in:
John Updike‘s novel Rabbit, Run, the main character remembers a Fosnacht Day tradition in which the last person to rise from the table would be teased by the other family members and called a Fosnacht.
Even prior to the reform of the Second Vatican Council, there was an ongoing liturgical reform at the turn of the century concerning Lenten observance. For Latin Rite Catholics, the pre-Lenten preparation included the removal of all dairy and rich ingredients such as eggs, milk, and sugar, before the fasting season of the Lenten 40 days. The liturgical fasting emphasized eating plainer food and refraining from food that would give pleasure. In many cultures, this means no meat, dairy, or eggs.
Additionally, one could possibly understand the darker and more pagan side of Mardi Gras, with its lesser known tradition of rampant acts of carnal knowledge. Why? The Latin Rite, for a number of centuries, included refraining from marital relations during the Lenten fast.
So there you have it. Three key traits of this day:
- Eating something fried and lots of it (preferably malasadas);
- Going to confession; and
- Preparing to begin your Lenten observance.
Have a great day and use today as a call to arms. Tomorrow, we go to battle!
Posted in Deacon Marques Silva | Tagged 40 Days, Catholic culture, Confession, donuts, eating, fastnacht, Fat Tuesday, Hawai'i, Lent, Leonard's Bakery, malasadas, Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, traditions | Leave a Comment »
By: Sr. Clare Hunter
In a world where parents can choose to abort their child, yet:
- Killing a pregnant woman is a double homicide;
- There is no such thing as gender, but we fight for a woman’s rights;
- It’s a baby if you want it, but a product if you don’t;
- Marriage is no longer marriage and sexual intercourse has nothing to do with producing a new human life;
…It is refreshing to have a logical conclusion emerge.
This 2012 Slate article describes how two philosophers in the Journal Of Medical Ethics gave a pro-choice argument for infanticide — or delicately termed “after-birth abortion” (the words don’t even make sense). The piece is terrific and argues that the philosphers’ arguments are not a threat to those who call themselves pro-life, but only a threat to those who go by pro-choice.
It brilliantly illustrates this quote by Flannery O’Connor: “When tenderness is detached from the source of tenderness, its logical outcome is terror.”
O’Connor then shares the famous conclusion with Walker Percy that “tenderness leads to the gas chamber.” In the name of tenderness, killing children pre- and post-birth is the most loving thing to do. It is the only choice in some nations.
Once we reject God and His natural law, then creation becomes obsolete. The Enlightenment rejected mystery. Modernity rejects God. Now in Post-Modernity we finally come to what is left to deny: the mystery of God’s love and most precious image — man.
There should be no shock that infanticide has become an option. When human life is based on opinion, and the value of a person is dependent on convenience, productivity and cost, then it follows that there is no way of defining and protecting human life.
Once you believe you can kill a child before it is born because it is handicapped, then it is logical to be able to do so after it is born. …Or a bit later, when the child might become terminally ill, as is the case in Belgium, where a child can commit suicide. …Or in the Netherlands, the state can kill a child regardless of parental consent. This is what must follow once you believe that killing a life can be justified.
Has this “freedom” from the “Source of tenderness” brought us greater happiness? Has the rejection of moral absolutes, of natural law and basic biology brought about a more loving and peaceful world? Not by a long shot.
We have ample proof that exterminating the unwanted, sick, weak, handicapped and irritating races did not improve Nazi Germany, Russia, China, Syria or the United States of America. But it has brought about the killing of untold numbers of innocent victims — all in the name of compassion, choice and progression. The logic that eliminating human life is the solution is not logical.
Why is it that in our amazingly advanced technological world, our only solution to problems continues to be killing human beings? Call me crazy, but I would think it would be logical for a human person — who started out being a human person when sperm from a human male and an egg from a human female united — would get that all human beings come about that way, too. I would think it would be rather logical for human beings to help other human beings not to kill human beings.
Can we call the experiment over yet? Killing human beings is not making sense.
Posted in Sr. Clare Hunter | Tagged after-birth abortion, baby, Being, Belgium, child, double homicide, egg, Enlightenment, experiment, exterminate, fertile, Flannery O'Connor, gender, God, human, infanticide, killing, logic, modernity, mother, natural law, Nazi Germany, Netherlands, person, pro-choice, pro-life, race, Slate, tender, value, Walker Percy, woman's right | Leave a Comment »
By: Rev. Paul Scalia
Sin divides. The first sin divided us from God, from one another, and from our very selves. In a world wounded by sin we encounter division at every turn. The harmony intended by our Creator is lost in this fallen world. But most painful is the contradiction and division of sin we experience within ourselves.
Perhaps Saint Paul put it best: “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Rom 7:15). We live at cross purposes with ourselves. Our bodies and souls — intended for harmony — war against each other for supremacy. Our passions rise up and overrun the intellect and will, dragging the rational soul along in their petulant pursuits. Left unchecked, the wound of sin leads us to ever greater dissolution. We become increasingly at war with ourselves, prey to whatever passion rules us. We have no center, no unifying principle, no unity.
This dark picture of sinfulness helps us appreciate a second dimension of holiness: wholeness. Grace, the means of all holiness, brings unity. By His grace we are reconciled — re-united — yes, with God and others, but also with ourselves. Our divided selves become whole again. God is simple. Holiness brings us a share in His simplicity. Simplex fac cor meum, prays the psalmist (cf. Ps 86:11). Unite my heart, as one translation has it. Literally, make my heart simple. A divided, conflicted heart is the legacy of sin. A heart whole and entire is the patrimony of the saints.
We grasp and desire this aspect of holiness more than otherness. We may not want to be other, but we do instinctively (and at times painfully) desire to be whole. This is the lesson of our Lord’s miracles, and why so many went out to Him. The physical healings of some — of the blind, the deaf, the lame, etc. — manifest the spiritual wholeness He has come to bring all. More astounding than a paralytic walking is a sinner being sanctified. As much as we might long for physical health, we desire spiritual wholeness much more profoundly.
Our divided selves become whole again.
The life of grace — the life lived according to God’s will and Sacraments — accomplishes this wholeness within us. “The Christian soul who is seriously following the grace of his prayer should find himself increasingly at one within himself” (Dom Hubert Van Zeller, OSB). This requires our cooperation with grace. And more than cooperation, because the human will and God’s grace are not equal partners. Grace is paramount. To receive this new integrity of soul, this re-integration, we must yield to God’s grace, truth, and way of life.
Now this is where it becomes difficult and we draw back. We would perhaps tolerate some division in our souls rather than respond to the demands of wholeness. To be whole we must surrender all. We must bring all aspects of our lives — prayer, work, play, family, friends, and even our failings — to the Lord. To the degree that we bring only parts, bits and pieces to Him, we will be divided. He alone brings about the unity we desire, but only when we make Him the center of everything. If we place Him off-center, then our lives will proceed oddly, like a bike with a wobbly tire or a car with bad alignment.
Unity in Christ brings peace. Saint Augustine famously spoke of peace as tranquillitas ordinis — the tranquillity of order. So also the soul, when well ordered towards Christ in every regard, has tranquillity, peace. The saint is a peacemaker because he is whole and entire, at peace with himself. Indeed, such interior peace is one of the most attractive things about the saint. We desire and long to have that for ourselves, so we are drawn to one who already possesses it.
Any eccentricities we may encounter in the saints come not from not from a lack of interior unity but from their contrast to the world. Saint Francis’s poverty strikes us as extreme not because he was out of whack, but because of the world’s wacky addiction to possessions. Saint Philip Neri’s antics appear absurd not because we was out of line but because our vanity is. So even the saints, the peacemakers, those men and women whole and entire, encounter some opposition. Because as peaceful and whole as we may become, the world is still fallen and divided.
To the degree that we bring only parts, bits and pieces to Him, we will be divided.
We lack peace because we fragment our loyalties and thus divide ourselves. “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand” (Mt 12:25). We pledge loyalty to Jesus Christ, but then chase after a million and one offerings from the world. We desire peace, but then shunt to the side the only One Who can establish it.
We find holy wholeness only when we sacrifice all other loyalties and make Him the center of all. This summarizes both the gift and the task of holiness. The gift is that tranquillity of order, that interior peace we desire. The task is to yield to grace — taking every aspect of our lives and submitting them to Christ, where alone they find unity and we find peace.
Posted in Rev. Paul Scalia | Tagged Catholic, Christ, Creator, gift, God, grace, holiness, holy, Jesus, life, Lord, order, other, passion, peace, peacemaker, Sacrament, saint, Saint Augustine, Saint Francis, Saint Paul, Saint Philip Neri, sanctity, self, sin, soul, spirit, surrender, truth, unity, vanity, Way, who, whole | 1 Comment »
By: Erin Kisley
Last week we crossed another item off the list: the disc jockey! It seemed rather innocuous (so I thought). Along with the contract, the DJ included a sample reception itinerary and a questionnaire for us to fill out regarding songs for our entrance, our first dance and other special wedding traditions.
As we began to fill out the questionnaire, I saw the words “father-daughter dance.” All at once, my heart began to beat at twice its normal rate, my body temperature began to rise, and my breathing became heavy and labored.
On the line where I’m supposed to write his first and last name, I scribbled the word: “deceased.”
It’s been almost five years since I lost my dad following his 4-year battle with cancer. Anyone facing a similar loss knows that even though people stop asking, it doesn’t quit hurting. This will be the first time, besides a graduation or holiday, that he is noticeably gone. I’m particularly private when it comes to this area of my life, but on my wedding day, it will be on display for all to see.
My first thought was to scrap the idea of special dances altogether, only including the couple’s first dance. But, after drying my tears, I thought to myself: “Denying Joe a dance isn’t going to heal the pain of not having one.”
So, as I walk down the aisle (in four months!) arm and arm with my mother, my emotions will be mixed with sadness, joy and gratitude. I will mourn the loss of my father in an acute way, but I will also be aware of the gift of faith that he and my mother passed on to me. A gift that guided me in choosing this amazing man waiting for me before the altar of God.
My father’s death is a reminder as we begin our marriage, that we are a gift to each other and that our time here on earth is measured. We are meant for a far greater destiny. So as I ponder my future with Joe, I think: “I can’t wait to one day introduce Joe to my dad in Heaven (God Willing).” But then again….I’m sure that my father already knows him and I believe that he had a hand in guiding me to him. I think they would’ve been good friends. Well, as friendly as a dad can be to his new son-in-law…
This is the second installment of Erin’s weekly Wednesday series on marriage preparation and its inherent struggles. An engaged woman at the humble age of 26, Erin hopes her experience will encourage and teach. Her final posts will culminate in the event that marks the purpose of it all—taking her wedding vows and tying the knot on June 27, 2014.
Posted in Erin Kisley | Tagged cancer, Catholic Church, chastity, dad, deceased, engagement, family, father, fiance, God, hand, heaven, husband, life, Marriage, mother, Music, Natural Family Planning, NFP, parish, pastor, planning, popped the question, prayer, pregnancy, prep, preparation, reception, ring, Sacrament, series, special dance, vow, wedding, wife, woman, young adult | 5 Comments »