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PhriDay Phive: Catholic Gondor Edition

Well, I have 15 minutes or so before bed, so I will try to make this a quick one....because I may need all the sleep I can get before teaching tomorrow. A little known fact about me is that I teach science on Saturdays. I do it out of enjoyment than I do the pay... Trust me, if it were just about the money...I would not be getting up on Saturday mornings to teach when I could otherwise spend the rest of the night finishing season 2 of Downton Abbey (you all can thank Crescat for getting me hooked on this show).

  1. My cousins' first communion is tomorrow!!! Talk about a double whammy of all-that-is-good-and-Catholic! They're twins in case you were wondering...and they are two of my favorite little guys...even if they are quickly  making me look even more vertically challenged as the years go by. They're around 8 and nearly as tall as I am!
  2. My final for neuro was this I pretty much spent the greater part of this week holed up in my room with Neuro notes in front of me...chugging coffee and eating doughnuts. I cannot even begin to tell you how unhealthy I feel about all of it...but hey, it's finals. If my brain says it wants doughnuts, I cannot help but comply with its demands considering how much grief it's been through over the years...trying to maintain my geeky GPA. 
  3. I started reading St. Anne Catherine Emmerich's book on the Passion of Christ. OH MY GOODNESS. It is a GREAT read. Apparently, Mel Gibson used it to inspire some of the scenes of The Passion of the the scene where the Pilate's wife gives the Blessed Mother the bolt of cloth that is then used to wipe up the spilled blood of Christ. The small details like this one have certainly added quite a lot to my prayers since they make it easier for me to imagine Christ as a person...and all the other people in his life. As Catholics, we are not required to believe personal revelations such as the ones received by St. Anne Catherine...but can believe in them if they serve to improve our religious life and receive the "Nihil Obstat" seal of approval. I highly recommend reading her books.
  4. I started reading Judie Brown's "The Broken Path: How Catholic Bishops Got Lost in the Weeds of American Politics" and based on what I have read thus far...this work is almost prophetic considering when it was published and what we are going through now with the HHS mandate and subsequent media back lash. I will review the book more thoroughly here once I finish...but in the meantime, keep your seat belts on fellow Catholics (and all others next in line for persecution if we Catholics fail at defending our Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Speech). 
  5. Speaking of prophetic and defending stuff, I have started likening our battle against the increasingly anti-Catholic media, our not-so-tolerant leaders, and all those other people out on a mission to give us a hard Gondor's plight throughout much of Lord of the Rings. That's right, our current fight is like something out of a Tolkien novel. REALLY. I am serious. Think about it...Gondor has to fight the dark powers of Mordor nonstop for years and years as the rest of Middle Earth parties on. Eventually, the darkness of Mordor spreads to the rest of Middle Earth and spoils many a mead and Longbottom Leaf-laden party...and eventually King Aragorn rises out of obscurity to defeat evil. We all know the ending of this story. However, BEFORE this ending comes a part that we tend to overlook. Way before Frodo even set foot outside of his home in the Shire, Gondor was fighting Mordor nonstop to prevent the evil from spreading. There was a lot of struggle...and the White Council may have helped to some degree, but in the end it was Gondor that kept most of the fight going even though their numbers were limited and even though they needed more help than they were getting from the rest of the world. Somehow, Gondor was able to keep most of Middle Earth free from oppression and Sauron-styled fascism. It was long, they suffered a lot of losses, and they may have lost hope time and time again....BUT THEY NEVER GAVE UP. Eventually, everyone else woke up, realized what was going on (especially when Old Toby was confiscated by Saruman) and joined the fight. Sauron got his ass kicked eye tower collapsed and everyone lived happily ever after (or boarded a ship for the West). However, the lesson here is that we cannot give up when the fight is worth fighting even if our views are unpopular, and even when everyone else seems to hate us...because we're not here to be liked....and we have a long tradition (~2000 years) of making it through tough times...

With that said, ONE MORE FINAL TO GO!

...I totally just stayed up past my bedtime... (-_-)

Pax Vobiscum

Phriday Phive: Hope for the Future Edition

This week has given me reason to hope about the relationship between religion and science. I suppose I will explain as I go along.

1. For whatever reason, I've noticed quite a few flyers around my school regarding the HHS mandate and the alleged attack on "reproductive rights" and "women's health." Needless to say, some of the flyers weren't too tolerant about the other side of the "argument." In fact, I would even venture to say that some were outright offensive propaganda that tend to ignore a few important issues. It think Patrick Mahoney's status this Tuesday sums up the hypocrisy rather nicely:
Do you want to know the real "War on Women?" How about President Obama's Secret Service team paying women for sex? Maybe some of them the victims of sex-trafficking. How about a DNC and Obama Advisor saying women who stay home to raise their children never working a "day in their lives?" How about President Obama cutting $19,000,000 to a program that helped the victims of sex-trafficking? In light of this, I wonder who really cares about women?
2. I listened to a talk on the stem cell debate this week. For the first time, in a long time, the speaker did not spend the entire talk ranting about how the conservatives/religious/Republicans/etc ruined potential scientific discoveries. Unlike much of what is going on in politics (and in academia), it was a pretty fair talk that weighed the issue in an informative manner without any of the name-calling and anti-conservative remarks I've grown used to over the years. Also, there was a great level of honesty in his talk...and I truly appreciated it. I am really glad that I did not end up skipping the talk...I was seriously considering it considering my previous experiences with invited speakers talking about controversial topics...

3. I appreciated the talk so much, I ended up looking up some of the work by this speaker. WOW. Not only have they been able to make impressive contributions to science  and medicine...but THEY'RE A FELLOW CSG!!! Impressed with this news and the fact that this individual also spoke out against the HHS mandate, I was compelled to email this speaker and tell them a little about my own experiences as a pro-life Catholic scienge geek in an increasingly pro-abortion and pro-embryonic stem cell research world. I also added at the end of the email that I would love to talk with them if they ever had the time. I really never expect people to EVER have the time to talk with me...but decided to go out on a limb and try my luck anyway.

4. I checked my email...and got the following reply:
". . . .Your experience with the dominant academic culture mirrors mine. I would be delighted to meet with a kindred spirit. . . ." 
THERE IS HOPE FOR PEOPLE LIKE ME!!! If this person was able to make it big in science/medicine while still remaining true to the Catholic faith...then there is hope for me! These two sentences will certainly make any future attacks on my faith and prolife views a lot more bearable in the days to come. With that said, even if there's neon pink flyers up in every corner of Columbia insulting my religious/prolife is possible to rise up against this negativity and pursue both science and religion...without having to choose between the two. ALSO, I get to talk with them! Huzzah!

5. After this bit of inspiration, I came across one of the best images ever via The Catholic Church Facebook page:
With that said, it has been a good week....even if I ended up having to drive through a couple of pot holes and ditches.

Pax Vobiscum

Umm...maybe it's a sign?

After my post last night...what are the chances that I would come across this story today first thing in the morning?

In any event, whether it is a sign or not, I still find it encouraging. Maybe I will email Anne Kissane Engelhart for advice on book titles. I wonder what she would think about "An Epic Book of Badass Catholic Saints for Kids" aka "A Child's Collection of Catholic Saints." Here's the video link:

Pax Vobiscum

PhD Pick-Me-Up

This comic totally just made me feel a little bit better about PhD madness in general. For more of Jorge Cham's hilarious (and all-too-true) comics, please check out PhD Comics. These comics, in general, are a great pick-me-up for any PhD student on the brink of sleep deprivation/stress/work/homework/studying/failed experiment/PI-induced madness.

Pax Vobiscum fellow lab rats.

Crazy Idea...

As you all know, I've been taking a Photoshop course and it has proven to be quite an experience. I have been enjoying quite a lot and have come to the conclusion that I am not as hopeless with technology as I once thought I was. I am seriously considering taking another Photoshop/Illustrator/other fancy art software course this summer and may need to save up a bunch of money to get Photoshop (apparently, if I jump through enough hoops...I may be able to get a student discount through Adobe).

With all this in I sat through an excruciatingly difficult neuroscience paper in recitation tonight... (as I questioned why I even went into science in the first place)...

...I had a crazy thought...

...about writing and illustrating a book titled "An Epic Book of Badass Catholic Saints for Kids." I know the title may need a little bit of work...perhaps "A Child's Collection of Catholic Saints" would be more age-appropriate. On the other hand, considering how badass my drawings tend to be...that may not be the best title. Well, I have plenty of time to think about it as I continue with my PhD studies...but it would be an awesome alternative to all this science. I am having one of those "questioning major life decisions" weeks...along with a lot of other PhD students as FINALS approach.

The truth is, some days I just don't feel that science is the field for me...not so much because of difficulty. I can handle the material. What I don't like, however, is some of the attitudes I encounter as I delve deeper into my education. It just seems like there's too many people in the field that are in the sciences for the wrong reasons. There's too many people that just don't love it in the way that it should be loved. Of all the instructors I've had in the past 2 years or so (including courses where instructors were rotated), I have to say that the vast majority lacked a lot of that passion for the subject that I am trying so desperately to hold on to as time passes. Maybe it's the end-of-semester blues. Maybe it's the fact that I've spent so much of my post-high school days in school as friends and family my age are getting married and starting families. Maybe it's the fact that I'm approaching 30 and I am still walking around with a backpack, band tees, and socks/sandals (closed-toe sandals, of course, due to lab regulations). Maybe it's the fact that I can't finish watching season 2 of Downton Abbey as I study for the approaching finals....

 Okay, enough feeling sorry for myself and enough questioning life decisions...Back to badass things.

Incomplete Sketch...but even so....
Mace + Dragon Shield = Badass
I am still working on my latest "doodle" of Joan of Arc (I use that term loosely considering how little I've worked on it since...forever ago).

I think I may have to doodle some more saints as I think through this thing...but it feels like it may be a good idea.

Pax Vobiscum

".....but tears of joy, because I'll be with my God in a short time.'"

If you only read one thing on the BBC news site...let it be this story. Not only will it encourage you, but it will give you a good example of what it truly means to be an Athleta Christi.  US Army Chaplain Father Emil Kapaun was captured by enemy soldiers during the Korean War and forced to live a life of starvation, frostbite, and disease in abominable conditions. Through it all, however, his faith remained strong and he proved to his fellow men that God truly works in mysterious ways...even when it looks like the world is falling apart around you. Catholics today certainly should  look upon this priest as a hero as well as a good example of what it means to be a true servant of God. He is on his way to sainthood and, based on his story, may be a great person to intercede for those of us who are tempted to lose hope in a world that grows increasingly hostile towards men and women of faith. This man is also, according to the article, possibly in the running for a Congressional Medal of Honor. I hope he gets both....and that more people may one day be inspired by his story. 

Here's a link to the article.... and and excerpt below:

Father Kapaun
"On 2 November 1950, Father Kapaun made the decision that led to his death.
The Korean war chaplain was in the middle of a firefight, with the American forces overrun by Chinese soldiers outside a crossroads town called Unsan in North Korea.
Lighting forest fires to frustrate US reconnaissance planes, the Chinese surrounded the Americans and pressed in, attacking with small arms, grenades and even bayonets.
Meanwhile, Chaplain Emil Kapaun, a Catholic priest from a farming village in Kansas, gathered the wounded in a dug-out shelter made of logs and straw.

When American officers ordered the able-bodied to retreat, Father Kapaun, a 35-year-old captain, refused to leave the wounded.
As the Chinese soldiers began lobbying grenades into the dug-out, Kapaun negotiated a surrender. 
"Father Kapaun had several chances to get out," Warrant Officer John Funston later told a Catholic priest who collected accounts of Fr Kapaun's actions in Korea, "but he wouldn't take them." 
His capture and forced march northward with hundreds of other American prisoners was merely the beginning of Father Kapaun's trial, an ordeal that ended in his death from starvation, cold and lack of basic medical care at a prison camp in North Korea six months later.
For his heroism, a group of Kansas politicians are pushing to have him awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, America's highest military decoration. 
Reports of Kapaun's selfless bravery have got him short-listed for another rare high honour: the Catholic church has named Kapaun Servant of God, the first step toward sainthood, and the Vatican has opened a formal inquiry into whether he merits canonisation."

The Cutest Padre Ever!!!!

No, this isn't a post about a cute "Father What-A-Waste" or anything like that... It's cute as in "little, cute kid playing mass" kind of cute.

I'm not sure if everyone has already seen this already...but I have to share it anyway! It's just TOO adorable to not share! I could not help but LOVE how cute this video was! This is Isaiah pretending to be a padre with a padre play set! The costume, the mass toys, the Mickey Mouse "Missal," and how tiny the little guy's just TOO CUTE! I love it!!! Enjoy!

We need more kids like this...and more parents to encourage "little padres." To find out more about Isaiah and his proud daddy (Brandon Vogt), check out The Thin Veil.

Pax Vobiscum

Belated Phriday Phive

Okay, so I completely forgot about posting my Phriday Phive update. I suppose, given my emphasis on the Divine Mercy novena since Good Friday...I will let myself off the hook. I have completed my novena and asked God to give away any indulgence associated with the novena I prayed. I asked Him to give the indulgence to the soul out there that is most in need of it. I trust in His mercy enough to be at peace with this request and feel that if I do end up needing an indulgence in the next life...perhaps some other kind soul may help me out through a prayer or having a mass said for me.

Well, this week has been a busy one!

1. I started taking a Photoshop course at the neighborhood art museum...and I LOVED the first day. I am tempted to buy the whole Photoshop CS5 suite even if it does cost a small fortune....or maybe I will wait it out...

2. As far as tax time went, I did not end up doing so nicely. In fact, between the state tax and the federal tax...I owed a couple of thousand dollars. Thankfully, I was able to come up with the funds for it...even if it does make me queasy just thinking about it. So...yeah...I will definitely have to wait for the Photoshop purchase.

3. I gave a presentation on Monday for Journal Club. The topic of the paper was radiation hormesis...which is a pretty cool theory. However, the author of the paper put it lightly...a nut. Needless to say, I had a good time discussing the paper even if I had to take some time to decipher the paper and put a presentation together.
The Doctor trying to fool a few Daleks into thinking the Jammie Dodger
in his hand is actually a Tardis Self-Destruct Button.
Speaking of the Doctor, imagine my disappointment when I found
 out they were filming Doctor Who in Central Park as I was in the city
 analyzing data in the lab!!!!
4. I stopped by the local British shop and stocked up on all that is good and British. I took requests from friends and before I knew it... I had a basket full of pasties, Jammie Dodgers, Penguins, Allsorts, Jelly Babies, a Union Jack, Mars Bars, Maltesers, and Dandelion Burdock soda (I'm hooked!).

5. After mass today (my updates go up to today...), I stopped at my friendly, neighborhood consignment shop to have a look around. I found a collection on...get this...MANTILLAS!!!! I picked up two beautiful mantillas made of black lace. They also had a few white ones, but I already have a white mantilla so I tried not to splurge too much. However, as I decided on the mantillas I eyes wandered to a pair of beautiful Victorian-esque black leather boots. I had a moment of weakness and ended up buying them. The price wasn't too bad...but after tax time...I intended to be a bit more frugal. However, I know from experience that something like these boots need to be bought right away...especially if they fit like a dream.

Pax Vobiscum

Divine Mercy Novena Home Stretch

Alright everyone, we are in the home stretch of the Divine Mercy Novena. To those who have prayed, or at least tried to pray the Divine Mercy Novena with a faithful heart, here's information on the Indulgences associated with this Novena. To be truthful, I am not too learned in the lore of Indulgences...but I do know enough to say that they aren't the "tickets to heaven" that people tend to mistakenly believe. However, the EWTN website has a pretty informative page on Indulgences  (for more information CLICK HERE).

Well, I went to a pretty great confession yesterday and the padre (Fr. Jim Chern) was extremely generous with me when it came to time. It's been a while since my last thorough confession, but I am really happy that he was able to set aside the time for me yesterday. My full-time PhD student schedule isn't necessarily the best when it comes to making it to the Sacrament of Reconciliation at various churches (time conflicts, distance, etc...just doesn't allow it to work out). I am truly grateful for having a friendly, neighborhood padre that allows me to take part in this sacrament...and really hope that you all either know or will know a fantastic, understanding priest like Fr. Jim.

Below are the final parts of this Divine Mercy Novena related to the Indulgences.

Summary of the Decree of Indulgence
O God, your mercy knows no bounds and the treasure of your goodness is infinite..." (Prayer after the "Te Deum" Hymn) 

"The paschal mystery is the culmination of this revealing and effecting of mercy, which is able to justify man, to restore justice in the sense of that salvific order which God willed from the beginning in man, and through man, in the world" (Encyclical LetterDives in misericordia, n. 7).
"And so with provident pastoral sensitivity and in order to impress deeply on the souls of the faithful these precepts and teachings of the Christian faith, the Supreme Pontiff, John Paul II, moved by the consideration of the Father of Mercy, has willed that the Second Sunday of Easter be dedicated to recalling with special devotion these gifts of grace and gave this Sunday the name, "Divine Mercy Sunday" (Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, DecreeMisericors et miserator, 5 May 2000).
Plenary indulgence
I. The usual conditions for every plenary indulgence:
  • sacramental confession [according to previously issued norms, within abut 20 days before or after] 
  • Eucharistic communion [according to previously issued norms, preferably on the day, or the days before or after] 
  • prayer for the intentions of Supreme Pontiff [certain prayers are not specified]
II. The specific conditions for this Indulgence
On Divine Mercy Sunday
  • in any church or chapel, in a spirit that is completely detached from the affection for a sin, even a venial sin, take part in the prayers and devotions held in honour of Divine Mercy
  • or, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed or reserved in the tabernacle, recite the Our Father and the Creed, adding a devout prayer to the merciful Lord Jesus (e.g. Merciful Jesus, I trust in you!")
Partial Indulgence
A partial indulgence, granted to the faithful who, at least with a contrite heart, pray to the merciful Lord Jesus a legitimately approved invocation. [e.g. Jesus I trust in You. My Jesus mercy. or any other approved invocation]
Those who cannot go to church or the seriously ill
Conditions for a Plenary Indulgence:
  • totally detesting any sin, 
  • the intention of fulfilling as soon as possible the three usual conditions of confession, communion and prayers for the Holy Father
  • recite the Our Father and the Creed before a devout image of Our Merciful Lord Jesus 
  • pray a devout invocation to the Merciful Lord Jesus (e.g. Merciful Jesus, I trust in you).
If it is impossible to do even this:
  • with a spiritual intention unite with those carrying out the prescribed practice for obtaining the Indulgence in the usual way and 
  • offer to the Merciful Lord a prayer and the sufferings of their illness and the difficulties of their lives, with the resolution to accomplish as soon as possible the three conditions prescribed to obtain the plenary indulgence.
Duty of priests
Priests who exercise pastoral ministry, especially parish priests, should 
  • inform the faithful in the most suitable way of the Church's salutary provision [of a plenary indulgence].
  • promptly and generously be willing to hear their confessions [this does not necessarily have to be on Divine Mercy Sunday itself, since that is not a condition for the indulgence]
On Divine Mercy Sunday, after celebrating Mass or Vespers, or during devotions in honour of Divine Mercy, 
  • lead the recitation of the prayers
  • when they instruct their people, gently encourage the faithful to practise works of charity or mercy as often as they can

Read more at EWTN's Divine Mercy Novena Information Pages

Divine Mercy Novena Day 9

Today we are asked to pray for the lukewarm souls of this world. These souls could be those of nominal Catholic, "Cafeteria Catholics," the "Hatch, Match, and Dispatch" Catholics, and every other thing in between. In some ways, these people have it easy. Though these people may have some faith...they are like the seeds that fell in the rocks in Christ's parable of the sower. These people may have enough faith to consider themselves Catholics and enough faith to follow some standards of Catholicism...but their faith can be easily shaken when life hits hard times. Their faith can also be shaken by the lies of the media, the scorn of the militant atheists, and the world's blatant disdain for any form of holiness.

These people may be be innocent of the same sins that cause us to fall...but they do not have the same support system that we do. They may forget or begin to scorn the sacrament of reconciliation. They may ignore the teachings of Christ that make them uncomfortable...and ultimately give into temptation out of ignorance or misunderstanding. They may be too lukewarm to defend their own faith when it is attacked...and they may ultimately pull a Saint Peter and deny Christ before the eyes of their foes. Saint Peter saw what he had done and rectified his slip by preaching Christ's word and laying down his life in the name of Christ....but this is not always possible for those who wander far from Christ when their faith is too weak to come back. Today we are called to pray for the lukewarm souls. We are called to pray that they may listen to the soft whispers of God's call.

I used to be one of those lukewarm souls. I went to mass out of habit rather than faith. I used to question Christ's teachings and modeled my own error-laden religion after the parts of Catholicism I liked. I was still "catholic" but I was certainly not Catholic. It took an act of God to literally wake me up from the life I had chosen. My faith formation after that ended up leading to my complete reconciliation with Church teachings. It hasn't been easy and I am sure my beliefs aren't very popular in a world so full of corruption and evil....but they are true and they have brought me closer to God. It is possible that some kind soul out there prayed for my complete conversion of heart, but I may never find out until I meet them in heaven one day. However, had it not been for this small, but still divine, intervention in my own life, I would still be a lukewarm Catholic. Please take the time to pray for the conversion of another soul who may need a prayer or two to turn closer to God. You may be the first or last prayer needed to make this soul burn with a yearning for God and a desire for holiness. If you have a soul in mind, feel free to pray for them...but keep your heart open for the conversion of another, unknown soul in need of some extra help on their journey to God. Who knows, they may turn out to be the next St. Augustine?!

I may sound a bit selfish here, but I am hoping my prayers will lead to the full Saint Paul-like conversion of another Catholic geek....I'd love to talk science and theology in-depth with more people!
Day 9
"Today bring to Me the Souls who have become Lukewarm, and immerse them in the abyss of My mercy. These souls wound My Heart most painfully. My soul suffered the most dreadful loathing in the Garden of Olives because of lukewarm souls. They were the reason I cried out: 'Father, take this cup away from Me, if it be Your will.' For them, the last hope of salvation is to run to My mercy."
Most compassionate Jesus, You are Compassion Itself. I bring lukewarm souls into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart. In this fire of Your pure love, let these tepid souls who, like corpses, filled You with such deep loathing, be once again set aflame. O Most Compassionate Jesus, exercise the omnipotence of Your mercy and draw them into the very ardor of Your love, and bestow upon them the gift of holy love, for nothing is beyond Your power.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon lukewarm souls who are nonetheless enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. Father of Mercy, I beg You by the bitter Passion of Your Son and by His three-hour agony on the Cross: Let them, too, glorify the abyss of Your mercy. Amen.

Pax Vobiscum

Divine Mercy Novena Day 8

As followers of this blog know, I am a steadfast believer in Purgatory and I have a special place in my prayers for the souls of purgatory. They are up there with a  few major private intentions, the unborn, and the souls of those who either do not know God or want to be separated from Him for whatever reason. I even carry a holy card with the Holy Souls on it in my wallet. 

I know I am no great theologian, but it is my understanding that the souls of Purgatory know best what it is to yearn for God. They have, in some way, experienced God after their death...but are not yet able to be in His presence for all eternity. Feel free to read a more in-depth reflection on my earlier post about the souls of purgatory. The souls in Purgatory may have been too imperfect to be admitted into heaven right away....but they know God and know what it is to be separated from Him...and they know why they are separated from Him. They long for him with an intense longing that cannot be described or even experienced by those still on  Earth. Whenever you read about saints that have come in contact with God, you read about these people experiencing ecstasies and indescribable joy. 

I myself have had a few mini-encounters with God...and can honestly say that I long for the next I can only imagine how much I would long for God if I ever experienced what the souls of Purgatory experience. They are that much closer to God than we are...but being that close INTENSIFIES the longing and, as a result, INTENSIFIES their suffering. Since the Holy Souls are not really able to pray for we are called to pray for them. Though this isn't part of the Divine Mercy Novena, I would also recommend offering up any daily struggles and bits of suffering for these souls as well.  

Day 8
"Today bring to Me the Souls who are in the prison of Purgatory,and immerse them in the abyss of My mercy. Let the torrents of My Blood cool down their scorching flames. All these souls are greatly loved by Me. They are making retribution to My justice. It is in your power to bring them relief. Draw all the indulgences from the treasury of My Church and offer them on their behalf. Oh, if you only knew the torments they suffer, you would continually offer for them the alms of the spirit and pay off their debt to My justice."   
Most Merciful Jesus, You Yourself have said that You desire mercy; so I bring into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls in Purgatory, souls who are very dear to You, and yet, who must make retribution to Your justice. May the streams of Blood and Water which gushed forth from Your Heart put out the flames of Purgatory, that there, too, the power of Your mercy may be celebrated.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls suffering in Purgatory, who are enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. I beg You, by the sorrowful Passion of Jesus Your Son, and by all the bitterness with which His most sacred Soul was flooded: Manifest Your mercy to the souls who are under Your just scrutiny. Look upon them in no other way but only through the Wounds of Jesus, Your dearly beloved Son; for we firmly believe that there is no limit to Your goodness and compassion. Amen.

Pax Vobiscum

Divine Mercy Novena Day 7

Most of the priests I've ever met have changed my life for the better in one way or another. One of the priests I have gotten to know during my college years introduced me to the Divine Mercy chaplet. I had drifted towards it on and off through the years and am sure that I have had leaflets and cards given to me over the years. However, I never really prayed it more than once or twice. However, when he introduced me to it during confession...he made this devotion come alive for me. The next thing I know, I am looking it up online...downloading pdfs of Sr. Faustina's diary, buying Divine Mercy chaplet cards....and spreading this devotion. This devotion centers on Christ's mercy for us...regardless of how sinful or imperfect we are. It centers on second chances, redemption, and unconditional love that seeks to create saints out of sinners. Today we are called to pray for those who, like this priest, devote time and energy into glorifying God's mercy and saving as many souls as possible.

Day 7

Today bring to Me the Souls who especially venerate and glorify My Mercy, and immerse them in My mercy. These souls sorrowed most over my Passion and entered most deeply into My spirit. They are living images of My Compassionate Heart. These souls will shine with a special brightness in the next life. Not one of them will go into the fire of hell. I shall particularly defend each one of them at the hour of death.
Most Merciful Jesus, whose Heart is Love Itself, receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who particularly extol and venerate the greatness of Your mercy. These souls are mighty with the very power of God Himself. In the midst of all afflictions and adversities they go forward, confident of Your mercy; and united to You, O Jesus, they carry all mankind on their shoulders. These souls will not be judged severely, but Your mercy will embrace them as they depart from this life.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls who glorify and venerate Your greatest attribute, that of Your fathomless mercy, and who are enclosed in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. These souls are a living Gospel; their hands are full of deeds of mercy, and their hearts, overflowing with joy, sing a canticle of mercy to You, O Most High! I beg You O God:

Show them Your mercy according to the hope and trust they have placed in You. Let there be accomplished in them the promise of Jesus, who said to them that during their life, but especially at the hour of death, the souls who will venerate this fathomless mercy of His, He, Himself, will defend as His glory. Amen.

Pax Vobiscum

An Urgent Pro-Life Prayer Request for Brazil

"Hi, Barbara.
I'm a fan of your blog. I don't know if you remember, but I made a comment once about mantillas.

The reason I'm writing today is a sad, but hopeful one. I'm from Brazil and our Supreme Court is currently deciding about the right to abort anencephalic fetus. And we are losing by 5x1.

Tomorrow, the last 5 justices will vote. We still have a chance and our bishops have called us to pray and do vigils for the children.

As a fellow catholic, a fellow lusophone and a fellow human, I'm asking you to say a prayer for us in Brazil. We are in great need.

Thank you for your time and your blog,
Children of Brazil, you are in my prayers!


Divine Mercy Novena Day 6

The more time I spend on this planet, the more I realize that we have destroyed a lot of what was once great. Though the NYC skyline is pretty at times, I highly doubt that it would ever compare to the majestic beauty of a waterfall surrounded by forests and blue skies. The same goes for so many other things...

It seems like the world has gotten increasingly corrupted by greed, a growing sense of entitlement, and a general disrespect for all walks of life. We live in a world where "ethicists" are now debating the ethics of post-birth abortions (essentially, the killing of babies). Meanwhile, we have peaceful, pro-life protests blacked out by a media that prefers to feed stereotypes and sell sex. Don't even get me started on how much the world has ruined sex and human dignity by plastering scantily-clad women and men all over the subway billboards, magazines, etc. We are taught to regard lust as true we continue to blame the increasing divorce rate on this outdated notion of "marriage." We have a president who is attempting to teach bishops his own version of what the Church teaches or does not he attempts to win the women vote from masses of gullible militant feminists. (Little do they know that he's using them as a means to an end...)

We have the world emulating celebrity addicts as if they were something truly they seek to denigrate people like Mother Teresa. We are no longer shocked when we see our culture embracing extramarital affairs, drug abuse, and violence as it turns words like "chastity," "patience," "humility," "faith," etc. into something outdated or dirty. I have even come across people who have the gall (or ignorance) to say that Christ is pro-choice....because there's nothing like a son telling his father that the life he just created needs to come to a violent end for the sake of "women's rights."

The world is certainly out of control....and Christ probably saw all of this coming as he suffered for our sins and gave up his life for us.

Today, we are called to pray for the people who give us hope. These are the innocent souls of children and the meek, humble souls of those who put God's will before their own. These souls have somehow managed to survive in a world that is so determined to destroy them....and they need our help. Therefore, let us pray that these beautiful souls and people continue to give glory to God even if they are surrounded by negativity and corrupted notions of "good" and "evil." Let us pray that the innocence of children will not be corrupted by industries out to make a dollar at any cost. Let us pray for meek, humble souls that are tormented daily for their faith and refusal to stand down from the constant attacks on life, chastity, and faith.

Day 6
Sr. Faustina...a truly beautiful and humble soul.

Today bring to Me the Meek and Humble Souls and the Souls of Little Children, and immerse them in My mercy. These souls most closely resemble My Heart. They strengthened Me during My bitter agony. I saw them as earthly Angels, who will keep vigil at My altars. I pour out upon them whole torrents of grace. I favor humble souls with My confidence.   

Most Merciful Jesus, You yourself have said, "Learn from Me for I am meek and humble of heart." Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart all meek and humble souls and the souls of little children. These souls send all heaven into ecstasy and they are the heavenly Father's favorites. They are a sweet-smelling bouquet before the throne of God; God Himself takes delight in their fragrance. These souls have a permanent abode in Your Most Compassionate Heart, O Jesus, and they unceasingly sing out a hymn of love and mercy.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon meek souls, upon humble souls, and upon little children who are enfolded in the abode which is the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. These souls bear the closest resemblance to Your Son. Their fragrance rises from the earth and reaches Your very throne. Father of mercy and of all goodness, I beg You by the love You bear these souls and by the delight You take in them: Bless the whole world, that all souls together may sing out the praises of Your mercy for endless ages. Amen.

Pax Vobiscum

Divine Mercy Novena Day 5

I don't always understand why some people leave the Catholic faith. The more deeply I've delved into it...the more inseparable we became. As I delved deeper, I found the answers to the inner rebellions I had and ended up seeing why the Church stands behind her teachings...regardless of strict or out-dated as popular media seems to paint them. Not too many people take the path I've taken and no path is the same. Some paths lead you closer to the religion of your childhood...and others lead you farther away. This is something I've had to come to terms with as I continued on in my professional career. As much as I hate using stereotypes, I cannot help but feel that religion isn't a big thing for many of the people in my field and even in neighboring fields.

As I've grown older, I have known people that have taken all sorts paths. I have known people that have drifted to and from the Catholic faith (sometimes, there's even one or two that seem to yo-yo back and forth between Catholicism and other faiths). Sometimes they leave it for another faith...and other times they leave it for...well, something else entirely. Sometimes people give in to the world's negativity regarding mass attendance, organized religion, new mass translations, etc. etc. etc. As someone who has followed a path in life where one does not find too many uber-religious folk, I have encountered a lot of people with a lot of different stories. Not all of them were Catholic and not all of them were Christian. They came from different walks of life and from different faiths...but stopped being an active part of that faith for some time. AND YET, I cannot help but sense that some of them aren't as happy as they thought they would be when they first started out in their journey....

"....Our Hearts are Restless Until They Rest in You..."

When it comes to spiritual journeys, I do what I can to help and understand those who are still journeying. I still put my hiking boots and walking stick to good use as I continue in my own I can hardly criticize someone else for taking another path. Who knows, as different as this other person's path may may lead to the same destination. Today we are called to pray for those who may not be on a path that leads them closer  to Christ....because they may just a little help with their compass as they continue on their journey towards being the next St. Augustine (author of the quote above).

Image from
(Probably a good starting place for fellow journeying folk.)
"Today bring to Me the Souls of those who have separated themselves from My Church and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy. During My bitter Passion they tore at My Body and Heart, that is, My Church. As they return to unity with the Church My wounds heal and in this way they alleviate My Passion." 

Most Merciful Jesus, Goodness Itself, You do not refuse light to those who seek it of You. Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who have separated themselves from Your Church. Draw them by Your light into the unity of the Church, and do not let them escape from the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart; but bring it about that they, too, come to glorify the generosity of Your mercy.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls of those who have separated themselves from Your Son's Church, who have squandered Your blessings and misused Your graces by obstinately persisting in their errors. Do not look upon their errors, but upon the love of Your own Son and upon His bitter Passion, which He underwent for their sake, since they, too, are enclosed in His Most Compassionate Heart. Bring it about that they also may glorify Your great mercy for endless ages. Amen.

Pax Vobiscum

Divine Mercy Novena Day 4

Where would we be without C.S. Lewis...and so many others who did not know God at some point in their lives or another? Sure, we would have still had G.K. Chesterton and a number of other more contemporary Christian writers and apologists....but it would not have been the same without The Chronicles of Narnia? No Aslan! No Voyage of the Dawn Treader! No Prince CASPIAN! I can't imagine it would be too easy for another Christian writer to explain things as well as C.S. Lewis explained them...because Lewis (unlike many other Christian writers) KNEW what it was like to look at God from the other side of the fence. He knew exactly what kind of synonyms he needed to use and what arguments needed to be made.

When we are called to pray for those who do not know God, I think of C.S. Lewis and all of the kicking and screaming he went through before he welcomed God with an open heart. I think of the impact he made on the world and how he has influenced so many individuals throughout time. Today, we are called to pray for people such as Lewis, the people of this world who do not yet know God...the people who will change the world once they do know God. I can't wait to see what the next C.S. Lewis has in store for the greater glory of God!

Day 4
"Today bring to Me those who do not believe in God and those who do not know Me, I was thinking also of them during My bitter Passion, and their future zeal comforted My Heart. Immerse them in the ocean of My mercy."

Most compassionate Jesus, You are the Light of the whole world. Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who do not believe in God and of those who as yet do not know You. Let the rays of Your grace enlighten them that they, too, together with us, may extol Your wonderful mercy; and do not let them escape from the abode which is Your Most Compassionate Heart.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls of those who do not believe in You, and of those who as yet do not know You, but who are enclosed in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. Draw them to the light of the Gospel. These souls do not know what great happiness it is to love You. Grant that they, too, may extol the generosity of Your mercy for endless ages. Amen.

Pax Vobiscum

Divine Mercy Novena Day 3

Today is Easter, which is awesome. Part of the reason that makes mass on Easter so awesome is all of the people you see crowding the pews. Some of us regular churchgoers (myself included) can sometimes be tempted to grimace a little when we encounter the lack of parking and pew space due to this influx. We may even grumble a bit when we see the hordes of people going up to receive the Eucharist. HOWEVER, one of the great things about having all of these people in mass is that these people ARE THERE WITH YOU. That's right, regardless of how busy they may be on weekends, and whatever excuse they may have to skip mass on any other given Sunday (Christmas aside).....NO EXCUSE was able to hold them back from mass this Easter. All of extra people there today would not let all of those excuses get in the way of celebrating such a wonderful moment in history when God became man, when Son died for our sins, and when Christ came back from the dead to complete the story of our salvation. This faith, as wavering as it may be on any other given day, is present today when all of these people take part in this celebration with their fellow Catholics...with Christ (who is present in the Eucharist), and many others around the world. THIS IS GREAT...I just wish they could come more often.

Fortunately, for us, Christ does not forget his faithful regardless of how much faith they may have. Regardless of whether or not they are full of faith or running on faith fumes, Christ reminds us to pray for them all (yes, even the guy who stole your parking spot by the church parking lot exit....). Today we pray for all of the devout and faithful souls. We pray for those whose faith is strong as well as the faithful who may need a little bit of help strengthening their faith. Feel free to pray today with the most devout person you know in mind (who knows what demons they are battling in their own spiritual lives) or the least devout person you know (perhaps all they may need is a little nudge towards Christ).

Day 3

For the devout who stand at Christ's cross daily and for
the faithful who are there for this birth and resurrection

"Today bring to Me all Devout and Faithful Souls,and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy. These souls brought me consolation on the Way of the Cross. They were a drop of consolation in the midst of an ocean of bitterness." 

Most Merciful Jesus, from the treasury of Your mercy, You impart Your graces in great abundance to each and all. Receive us into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart and never let us escape from It. We beg this grace of You by that most wondrous love for the heavenly Father with which Your Heart burns so fiercely.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon faithful souls, as upon the inheritance of Your Son. For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, grant them Your blessing and surround them with Your constant protection. Thus may they never fail in love or lose the treasure of the holy faith, but rather, with all the hosts of Angels and Saints, may they glorify Your boundless mercy for endless ages. Amen.

Pax Vobiscum

Feliz Páscoa!

In other words, Happy Easter! Christ has risen!
In other words, "Where, o death, is your victory?"- Corinthians

Pax Vobiscum!!!

Divine Mercy Novena Day 2

Again, I encourage everyone to stop on by EWTN to get more information on this beautiful Novena. While you are at it, I would like to encourage everyone to read up on Sister Faustina. I started reading the Kindle-friendly pdf version of Sister Faustina's diary "Divine Mercy in My Soul" brought to you for free by the Saint Patrick's Basilica ebook library. Feel free to stop by and pick up this ebook or various others by noted theologians such as St. Thomas of Aquinas, St. Augustine, and others. I finally bought a paperback version of Divine Mercy in My Soul after Lord Faramir of Gondor's demise led to a massive deletion of all of my bookmarked pages. I opted for the paperback because even if the bookmark falls out, I can always flip through and find my place. I cannot do this with my Kindle.

Today's novena prayers are for the souls of the priests and other religious. Believe it or not, they often need our prayers...especially in a world that grows increasingly hostile towards those who choose God over more earthly  pursuits.

Day 2
"Today bring to Me the Souls of Priests and Religious, and immerse them in My unfathomable mercy. It was they who gave me strength to endure My bitter Passion. Through them as through channels My mercy flows out upon mankind."
Most Merciful Jesus, from whom comes all that is good, increase Your grace in men and women consecrated to Your service, that they may perform worthy works of mercy; and that all who see them may glorify the Father of Mercy who is in heaven.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the company of chosen ones in Your vineyard -- upon the souls of priests and religious; and endow them with the strength of Your blessing. For the love of the Heart of Your Son in which they are enfolded, impart to them Your power and light, that they may be able to guide others in the way of salvation and with one voice sing praise to Your boundless mercy for ages without end. Amen.

Pax Vobiscum

Divine Mercy Novena Day 1

I know I am super-late with this...but Good Friday is the day to start off the Divine Mercy Novena. Please check out this site for more information on praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet and on the Novena itself. Also, feel free to check out an earlier post on this blog regarding the Divine Mercy Chaplet. My apologies for the terrible as it sounds I completely forgot about the novena! I knew Divine Mercy Sunday was next weekend...but I completely forgot about the novena until I chanced upon another blog. Mea culpa!

Day 1

"Today bring to Me all mankind, especially all sinners,and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy. In this way you will console Me in the bitter grief into which the loss of souls plunges Me."

Most Merciful Jesus, whose very nature it is to have compassion on us and to forgive us, do not look upon our sins but upon our trust which we place in Your infinite goodness. Receive us all into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart, and never let us escape from It. We beg this of You by Your love which unites You to the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon all mankind and especially upon poor sinners, all enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. For the sake of His sorrowful Passion show us Your mercy, that we may praise the omnipotence of Your mercy for ever and ever. Amen.

Pax Vobiscum

Phriday Phive: Last Leg of Lent Edition

Well, it's almost that time of the year again....EASTER. With Easter, comes the Triduum...and the end of Lent. My sister initially invited me to these sacred services a few years back and I went on a whim. I got hooked. Needless to say, I have been trying to get to these ever since.

1. Unfortunately, I missed most of Holy Thursday mass. I had class and recitation tonight, so I was only able to get back around 20 after 8 and then I had to walk to the church. This is no easy feat when it is cold and you find yourself having to walk past two abortion clinics.Fortunately, I did end up making it to the end of mass and got to see (and hear) a beautiful procession of the Eucharist around the church as the choir sang a lovely hymn in Latin.

3. Much to the chagrin of any militant feminists, eugenicists, pro-abortion folk, and Kathleen Sebelius, I prayed for the unborn as I walked past the abortion clinics. I prayed the St. Michael prayer in English and the St. Benedict prayer in Latin to help rid those places of the evil that preys on women in desperate situations and the evils that prey on certain minorities and socioeconomic statuses. I also prayed for the lives of the unborn, forgiveness for the mothers who chose abortion, and a change of heart for the people who work at these places and any mothers in danger of choosing death over life.

2. On a lighter note, I have signed up (and paid for) a beginner's photoshop class at the local art museum. I am so excited about trying this out! Who may even lead to comics for this blog (assuming,of course, that I can get used to all this newfangled technology).

3. I got a new scapular! It's at least 3 times the length and sturdiness of my old scapular (which was one of those freebie-type of scapulars). My new scapular is sturdy, and made of leather (or faux leather at least) lined with wool. I've been wearing it since I found it and really like it. I have to admit, however, that I cannot get rid of my old (and very tattered) scapular. I kept the old scapular in my pocket instead.

On a related note: 
Does anyone out there know what to do with old scapulars? 
Can you toss them? Is there a special way to dispose of them?
My scapular, just to clarify was never blessed...just worn quite a lot.

4. I realized that I live near a place that sells British goods. Needless to say, I got a monster-sized Cornish pasty there. I also tried Dandelion and Burdock soda...which was DELICIOUS. I may even venture to say that it is my new favorite soda.

Tasty deliciousness!!!
Image from kitchen-delights @blogspot

More tastiness! I could not help it!
5. I discovered Ballykissangel and I now have a new show to watch on Amazon Prime....along with the rest of Downton Abbey...You can thank the Crescat's hysterical posts for getting me hooked on this show. SO MANY SHOWS AND NOT ENOUGH TIME TO WATCH THEM ALL!!!

Pax Vobiscum

Putting the Palm in Palm Sunday

I love Lent. I love the opportunity that this season gives us to reflect and come closer to God. I love Ash Wednesday, meatless Fridays, and all the other reminders this season gives us to help us come closer to God. I   love how this season gives us several weeks-worth of opportunities to improve our spiritual lives and develops new habits that ultimately help us become better people.

I also love Palm Sunday. During the readings in mass today, I left the missal on the pew and simply listened to the scripture unfold before me. I imagined the woman anointing Christ with the oil from the alabaster jar. I imagined the indignation of the apostles as they rebuked her for wasting such an expensive item. I imagined Christ's response to her faith and remorse...his acceptance of her gift and his appreciation for her act and faith. I imagined Christ accepting all of this and this acceptance giving her a sense of peace. I imagined the comfort she must have felt when someone as holy and wonderful as Christ...someone who had ridden through the streets as people from all walks of life greeted him with palms and love. I imagined his acceptance having a great impact on her life...especially because she had been deemed imperfect and unworthy by so many others. Perhaps it was this reconciliation that bothered Judas...this willingness for Christ to simply love a woman like this...this willingness to accept such a frivolous child-like gift.

Yes, the jar of oil was ridiculously expensive and the money it was worth could have been used for a lot of great things. However, Christ saw beyond the value we put on material things. He saw, instead, the intense love and faith behind this woman's act...and he was moved by it. Perhaps it was this acceptance and forgiveness that ultimately led Judas to give in to that temptation that ultimately led to his betrayal. Perhaps he saw Christ's acceptance of this woman and so many other sinners before her as an act of betrayal and it was this love for the lowly that set him over the edge. We may never know.

So here's a little known fact about me...I, for the most part, cannot make a palm cross to save my life. Over the years, as my sisters mastered the art of folding the Palm Sunday palms into sturdy crosses that decorate the house for the next year (or longer), I end up giving up on the crosses I attempt and weaving it into rings....folding them up...tearing them into thin strips...and then placing them on some piece of furniture to act as some form of decor. Though I did manage to weave a palm into a mini-basket when I was in fifth toils are often in vain. I simply, for whatever reason, could not figure out how to make a cross. The closest I ever came was making crosses that fell apart into crumpled pieces of palm once I let go....

One of the only crafts I ever failed at...time and time again....
It only LOOKS this easy...

This sounds really bad, but I spent most of mass working on my cross. Don't worry, I still paid attention to mass (and allowed my imagination to run free simply imagining Christ's Passion and imagining myself in the Gospel as the padre and parishioners read on). I am pretty great at multitasking when it allows my hands to make things, so I guess you can say that I prayerfully worked on the cross as I listened and envisioned Christ's sacrifice and love. I split the tough edges of the palm into tough twine-like pieces and tore them off. I then folded one of the palms (I had two or three) over itself and took the ends, folding them so that they fit perpendicular to the first piece. I wove them into each other to form a center to the cross that resembled a Celtic knot. It looked cool, but it wasn't finished. As the Roman soldiers placed the crown of thorns on Christ's head, I took one of the tough twine-like pieces and wove it around the top and base of the cross. It looked like a mini crown of thorns as I worked it. It did not seem to fit into the cross, but with enough work, it started blending into the whole appearance.

Forget awesome Celtic knot cross, my cross (once shaped with the threading of the tough palm edge) began to resemble a wooden St. Benedict cross necklace I own (it's a wooden teutonic cross with the St. Benedict cross and prayer medal in the middle). I modeled it a bit and had a crazy idea to make it a bit more like a maltese cross. I did this by splitting each of the 4 ends a few times, as I imagined the curtain of the temple tearing from top to bottom after Christ's death on the cross. The twine-like threads and Celtic knotting in the middle kept everything tightly bound at the center. By the time we were kneeling during the transubstantiation miracle part of mass, my cross had been complete for some time. However, I held onto it as I prayed.

I fell in love with it. In my own mind, it was perfect. It was so beautifully made...and I HAD MADE IT. It was the first cross that did not fall apart on itself by the time I had finished it. It looked absolutely awesome and I could not wait to give it a place of honor in my house or lab desk. I was SO excited about this cross.

Toward the end of mass, as we were collecting our things, one of the women sitting behind me tapped me on the shoulder. I thought I had dropped something. However, it turned out that she really liked my cross and was offering me her own palms with the hope that I could make her one as well. Without a second thought and much to her delighted surprise, I offered her a trade. I parted with my awesome cross and took her palms. Yes, it was the first cross I had ever finished successfully. Yes, I fell in love with the cross and had awesome plans for it. However, she really liked it and I knew there was nowhere near enough time for me to make another one. Also, the readings were over and I could not be inspired to create another cross with as much prayer, love, and faith as I had had while I listened to the Gospel and worked through the first cross. I handed over my cross and explained to her that it was the first cross I had ever made. She was as surprised as I had been and I loved seeing her so excited about it. Her happiness (coupled with the Divine Mercy medal she wore) made it all worth it.

So what did I do with the palms she had given me? Well. I gave those away too. I thought of my Tio Ze during mass and felt compelled to visit his grave. I asked my dad if we could visit the grave at some point, but he ended up taking us all that very day after mass. We never found the grave. It is still recent and may not have a marker on it yet considering the fact that the cemetery only puts stones on the graves well after the ground has settled. Also, there were a number of new graves there...making it a lot harder to find the right one. However, as I looked for my uncle's grave, I found the grave of my cousin...his son. This cousin had been born with the same illness I had as a newborn. However, unlike me, this cousin had not survived beyond 5 days. Though I never knew this cousin (he had died well before I was born), I always felt a special tie to him. I could not help but cry when I stood before the grave, moved with pity for a child that had only lived a few days. I had crafted another cross between mass and our trip there and I left it nestled in a potted plant that had been left at his grave. I know he's in a better place now (my uncle had seen him along with my grandparents as he was passing away), but I cannot help but wish that I had gotten to know him.

I made a tiny, fragile cross out of the last bits of palm that I had gotten from the woman behind me. This one I left with my mom. We have a photograph of hers on a small table by the window in our living room. Behind her picture is a huge bouquet bouquet of red-hued flowers I bought at Michaels a year or so ago in a huge (and very beautiful) vase/candle centerpiece I won at a bridal shower. I placed the cross by this centerpiece, right next to the palm circlet I had woven together last Palm Sunday after failing miserably at my attempt to make a cross.

Pax Vobiscum

Why Have You Abandoned Me?

Spoiler (in reference to the title): He never did, has not, and never will...

I sometimes write down Bible references I see on t-shirts, etc on the subway or on the street. These will either be referenced as soon as I get to a computer...or they will disappear forever in my messenger bag aka The Bermuda Triangle.

I was cleaning out my bag and right after finding 2 long-lost tubes of Chapstick and more forgotten Ricola lozenges than I should ever have floating around in my bag...I chanced upon a cell phone pocket case that I had created some months ago. On it, I had written Psalm 62:2. I don't remember writing this down or where I got it from...but I looked it up.

Forget just sharing 62:6, here's the whole psalm (Douay-Rheims version, because that's how I roll):

Psalm 62
[1] A psalm of David when he was in the desert of Edom.
[2] O God, my God, to thee do I watch at break of day. For thee my soul hath thirsted; for thee my flesh, O how many ways!
[3] In a desert land, and where there is no way, and no water: so in the sanctuary have I come before thee, to see thy power and thy glory.
[4] For thy mercy is better than lives: thee my lips shall praise.
[5] Thus will I bless thee all my life long: and in thy name I will lift up my hands.
[6] Let my soul be filled as with marrow and fatness: and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips.
[7] If I have remembered thee upon my bed, I will meditate on thee in the morning:
[8] Because thou hast been my helper. And I will rejoice under the covert of thy wings:
[9] My soul hath stuck close to thee: thy right hand hath received me.
[10] But they have sought my soul in vain, they shall go into the lower parts of the earth:
[11] They shall be delivered into the hands of the sword, they shall be the portions of foxes.
[12] But the king shall rejoice in God, all they shall be praised that swear by him: because the mouth is stopped of them that speak wicked things.

King David in Prayer
by Pieter de Grebber

I have my King David moments. I never sent a love interest's significant other to the front lines so that I could go on a date with them...or anything like that. However, I have sinned. I have repented...and, like David...I always came back to God regardless of how many times I go through this cycle of sin and repentance. Fortunately for us, God is pretty good at understanding our hearts and will always be there for us even if we think He's given up on us. He never gives up on us even in our most desperate moments. We give up on ourselves long before God even considers abandoning us. He certainly would have never sacrificed his son in order to save us if we weren't worth saving or if we truly were lost causes. 

Don't let doubt cloud your mind and never let it consume your hope. God has always been with you and will continue to be with you for the rest of your life and beyond. Just trust in Him. 

Pax Vobiscum as we embark on this holy week