Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Hand That Rocks the Cradle Rules the World

Blessings on the hand of women!
Angels guard its strength and grace,
In the palace, cottage, hovel,
Oh, no matter where the place;
Would that never storms assailed it,
Rainbows ever gently curled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world!

As a married woman, I often wonder what it would be like to be a mother. For a number of reasons, my husband and I have not been able to conceive, but it has not stopped me from praying and meditating on what type of person I would become when given the gift of motherhood.

The Essence of Authentic Feminine Life

These times of meditation have led me recently to turn to the lives of the women who throughout our Catholic history have demonstrated the essence of authentic feminine life by loving, nurturing, and in some cases relinquishing the very lives that grew inside of them for so many months.

Infancy's the tender fountain,
Power may with beauty flow,
Mother's first to guide the streamlets,
From them souls unresting grow—
Grow on for the good or evil,
Sunshine streamed or evil hurled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world!

And so on this Mother’s Day, I find myself reflecting on sanctification, not just my own but the means I would use to help my future children achieve such grace. I turn to the saints, because surely these lives of holiness honored by the Church will shed some light on this divine mission of motherhood.

Most certainly, I pause to reflect first and foremost on the great Mother of God, Mary most holy. With courage and strength, this young, simple girl said yes to a stupendous task — to bear the Messiah. I often reflect if given such a choice, how would I respond? It seems at times my own life is marked by distrust, my own agendas and an unwillingness to accept the life appointed to me by God. In contrast, Mary’s holiness is marked by an unwavering trust in God, a desire for His Will and a dedication to the life that she accepted. Even knowing she was the mother of the Divine, she stands as the model of the heroic, and very human, virtues of patience, faithfulness and generosity.

Sts. Anne and Elizabeth bring me great peace when I reflect on their lives. St. Anne, mother of Mary, persevered through 20 years of infertility, praying fervently to God to give her a child. Likewise, St. Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, had reached an advanced age without conceiving. I share their anguish, their doubts about God’s love, the thoughts of fear and abandonment, the speculation about this pain being some sort of punishment. They never lost faith and year after year, both women and their husbands would make their plea in the temple for the Lord to help them in their sadness. And when God’s time was right, their requests were granted. Both Mary and John the Baptist were conceived through the message of an angel. These women were distinctly mothers of sure faith, constant hope and abiding love. I pray for an increase in these virtues as I struggle each month with the reality of my own barren womb.

Giving Birth to History

Woman, how divine your mission
Here upon our natal sod!
Keep, oh, keep the young heart open
Always to the breath of God!
All true trophies of the ages
Are from mother-love impearled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

One of my great passions is venerating the great relics of the Church. I am captivated by their timeless preservation. If it weren’t for this next holy mother, I would have no place to go. St. Helena was the mother of the Emperor Constantine — a man who is remembered for his profound conversion and beginning the end of the Christian persecutions in Europe. While he was chiefly responsible for Helena’s own conversion to Christianity at the age of 63, her life following her conversion was one deeply dedicated to God. For the next twenty years of her life, she traveled the Middle East collecting the relics of the Passion, most notably the True Cross, and erecting churches and basilicas which would bear testimony to the truth of Christianity to this day. Her perseverance and courage provided a means for mothers, fathers, priests and teachers to teach the faith of Jesus Christ through a tangible, visual way.

I reflect on the life of St. Monica when I think of my adolescent years and the matriarchs in my life who sustained me in prayer. St. Monica had three children, one of whom later became a Doctor of the Church, St. Augustine of Hippo. If it weren’t for St. Monica, we might never have been able to console ourselves with the knowledge that, “our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee, O God” and the many other pearls of wisdom passed to us from this converted sinner, son of this holy mother. Loyal to a troubled marriage and faithful to this troubled son, St. Monica persevered with fortitude and piety in bringing about a metanoia in Augustine and witnessing to us that through Christian motherhood even the hardest of hearts can be penetrated.

There are mothers who know that their children are chosen for great things and try to move heaven and earth to assure they follow the will of the Father. It’s a quiet confirmation — a sort of knowing — that cannot be described, which a mother feels when her child is in her womb or the first time she gazes upon his or her face. St. Sylvia had that knowing — that her child was destined for greatness. By herself, she was a great defender against the heresies creeping up in her time, and when her son was born, the virtue of justice enveloped her when she saw his face for the first time. She raised him with a deep sense of justice — a virtue strong enough to make this young boy grow into the person we know as Pope St. Gregory the Great.

And there is the mother of St. Dominic, Blessed Jane of Aza, who saw in a vision before she even conceived him that a dog with a burning torch in its mouth would come forth from her womb and set the world on fire. Of course, this prophetic dream foretold of the powerful preaching of St. Dominic which would converts hearts and transform souls. Blessed Jane and her husband Venerable Felix raised three other children who dedicated their lives to God.

Like Mother, Like Daughter

Blessings on the hand of women!
Fathers, sons, and daughters cry,
And the sacred song is mingled
With the worship in the sky—
Mingles where no tempest darkens,
Rainbows evermore are hurled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Likewise, Zelie Guerin Martin challenged her children in the ways of contemplative prayer, study of Scripture and languages. All five of her children pursued paths of sanctity, offering their lives to Jesus as religious sisters. The youngest of these girls is another Doctor of the Church, St. Therese of Lisieux. These two mothers are models of steadfast love — the willingness to give back to God what is truly His. They are symbols of encouragement and understanding for all parents whose children are called to religious life.

And finally, in this Mother’s Day reflection, I recall the mothers who protected life, forgave mercifully, and steadfastly pursued righteousness on behalf of their children. Saint Gianna Molla, a faithful Catholic mother and pediatrician, gave her life for her unborn child after discovering she had a cancer that could only be removed by aborting her daughter. Refusing such an end for her child, Gianna Emanuela is 44 years old today because of her mother’s unconditional love and sacrifice. Assunta Goretti witnessed the most horrible event a mother could bear when her twelve-year-old daughter Maria was brutally attacked by a family friend. On her deathbed, Assunta witnessed the faith and love which her parenting had nurtured. Maria forgave the boy that had mortally wounded her. Twenty-seven years later, Assunta would face this boy, now a man, who had killed her daughter. She too, spoke words of forgiveness: “If my daughter could forgive you, who am I to withhold forgiveness.” Both Assunta and the repentant murderer Alejandro would join the Holy Father in 1950 as he formally canonized Maria Goretti.

Reflecting on the lives of these sanctifying mothers, recalling their struggles and battles, both visible and invisible, it is frightening to imagine what lies ahead for me and for so many women in today’s world. But I am comforted in knowing that every Mass I attend, every intercession I implore, every petition I cry out to the mercy of God, is held in the company of these holy women who serve as models for the kind of mother I would like to be. St. Catherine of Siena, the twenty-third child of an Italian family, said that “If we become what God intended us to be, we will set the world on fire.”

So then, if the world rests in the playrooms, school yards and cradles of your life, then strive to be the mothers that God intended you to be, so the goodness of your children may set the world on fire. Happy Mother’s Day!

(The poem interspersed within this post is called "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle Is the Hand That Rules the World" by William Ross Wallace. It was first published in 1865.)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Years Resolutions

So, last night Tim and I held our annual Epiphany Party. It's how we really celebrate the Christmas season with the people we love the most. We have a few of our best friends over and we just laugh and be with each other, a ritual that gets us ready for the new year. We also exchange some gifts in honor of the Three Kings, the memorial that we celebrate at this time. This year one of our friends suggested that we start a new tradition and make new year's resolutions for EACH OTHER.

So we drew names out of a "hat" and went around a circle choosing resolutions of 1. spiritual; 2. physical; and 3. overall improvement. It was a really cool idea and I pray a way to keep us all accountable to each other, our spouses and most importantly our God. Most people make these new year resolutions about what's on the outside, but rarely resolve what's on the inside. I was surprised by what I thought were some REALLY good resolutions we made for each other. I realized that even though the year keeps us from spending a whole lot of time together, we know the things that are most important to each other and the things we need the most.

I thought the resolutions were right on. One friend suggested another friend spend more time in Adoration. Three small kids under 3 makes that hard, but needed. A challenge, but an important goal. Another resolution involved adding exercise to one friend's fairly sedentary lifestyle. Young and beautiful, getting out to walk or join a kick-box class would be just what she needed to help her physically. Two of us ended up picking our spouses. I was one. We definitely THINK we know what's best for the person we will wake up with for the rest of our lives, but having to say it aloud in front of all our friends was a real exercise in authentic charity and humility. It forced me to think that while I think I know what's best for my husband, I need ed to look at what was best for him through God's eyes. In that instant, I was reminded that loving him is not only good for me here on earth, but its my path to eternity. How will he get to heaven? I can help him. One of my friends who I've known for what seems like forever picked me. At one time, I would have said that he probably knew me better than anyone, but the last several years have found us going in different directions with regards to friends, how we practice our Catholic faith, and even how we communicate with others. But he picked me, and it surprised me how well he still knows me and knows what I need for myself and for my relationship with God. His resolutions for me were right on, gentle yet challenging. It surprised me, but didn't. (A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; he who finds one finds a treasure. Sir 6:14)

So, on this night, on this eve of a new year, and in the shadow of the celebration of the Three Kings presentation to Our Lord, their Epiphany, I hope my friends and I accept and embrace the gift we received last night - the Epiphany the Lord spoke to us through our friendships - to love mercy, do justice and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8).

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Okay, so my BIGGEST new year's resolution is to TRULY keep this blog up and to just frankly do what I do - communicate. So, I invite my old readers, who wonder why I don't post more, and my new readers who I'll be seeking out in 2010, to visit me here from time to learn about who is speaking the TRUTH, what the TRUTH really means, why we should care, and most of all where we can go to receive it!

I start by pointing to the ROCK, and listening to what the voice of the Catholic Church, the moral compass of society has to say on these matters. We'll start with prayer.

Pope Benedict XVI's general prayer intention for January 2010 is: "That young people may learn to use modern means of social communication for their personal growth and to better prepare themselves to serve society".

His mission intention is: "That every believer in Christ may be conscious that unity among all Christians is a condition for more effective proclamation of the Gospel".


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

More on Ecclesia Dei

Me thinks some things are happening in the Vatican. Several movements in the placement of Bishops to different offices as it relates to the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei".

The following is an English-language translation from the Italian of the Apostolic Letter "Motu Proprio data" of Pope Benedict XVI, "Ecclesiae unitatem".

Issued by the Vatican Press Office:

The document concerns the structure of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" which deals with questions involving the Society of Saint Pius X and which as of now becomes dependent upon the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The original text of the Motu Proprio is written in Latin:

1. The duty to safeguard the unity of the Church, with the solicitude to offer everyone help in responding appropriately to this vocation and divine grace, is the particular responsibility of the Successor of the Apostle Peter, who is the perpetual and visible principle and foundation of the unity of both bishops and faithful. The supreme and fundamental priority of the Church in all times - to lead mankind to the meeting with God - must be supported by the commitment to achieve a shared witness of faith among all Christians.

2. Faithful to this mandate, following the act of 30 June 1988 by which Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre illicitly conferred episcopal ordination upon four priests, on 2 July 1988 Pope John Paul II of venerable memory established the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" whose task it is "to collaborate with the bishops, with the departments of the Roman Curia and with the circles concerned, for the purpose of facilitating full ecclesial communion of priests, seminarians, religious communities or individuals until now linked in various ways to the Society founded by Msgr. Lefebvre, who may wish to remain united to the Successor Peter in the Catholic Church, while preserving their spiritual and liturgical traditions, in the light of the Protocol signed on 5 May last by Cardinal Ratzinger and Msgr. Lefebvre".

3. In keeping with this, faithfully adhering to that duty to serve the universal communion of the Church, also in her visible manifestation, and making every effort to ensure that those who truly desire unity have the possibility to remain in it or to rediscover it, I decided, with the Motu Proprio "Summorum Pontificum", to expand and update through more precise and detailed norms the general indications already contained in the Motu Proprio "Ecclesia Dei" concerning the possibility of using the 1962"Missale Romanum".

4. In the same spirit, and with the same commitment to favouring the repair of all fractures and divisions within the Church, and to healing a wound that is ever more painfully felt within the ecclesiastical structure, I decided to remit the excommunication of the four bishops illicitly ordained by Msgr. Lefebvre. In making that decision my intention was to remove an impediment that could hinder the opening of a door to dialogue and thus invite the four bishops and the Society of Saint Pius X to rediscover the path to full communion with the Church. As I explained in my Letter to Catholic bishops of 10 March this year, the remission of the excommunication was a measure taken in the field of ecclesiastical discipline, to free individuals from the burden of conscience constituted by the most serious of ecclesiastical penalties. However it is clear that the doctrinal questions remain, and until they are clarified the Society has no canonical status in the Church, and its ministers cannot legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church.

5. Precisely because the problems that now have to be examined with the Society are essentially doctrinal in nature, I have decided - twenty-one years after the Motu Proprio "Ecclesia Dei" and in keeping with what I had intended to do - to reconsider the structure of the Commission "Ecclesia Dei", joining it closely to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

6. The Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" will, then, have the following configuration:

(a) The president of the Commission is the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

(b) The Commission has its own staff, composed of the secretary and officials.

(c) It will be the task of the president, with the assistance of the secretary, to submit the principal cases and questions of a doctrinal nature for study and discernment according to the ordinary requirements of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and to submit the results thereof to the superior dispositions of the Supreme Pontiff.

7. With this decision I wish in particular to show paternal solicitude towards the Society of Saint Pius X, with the aim of rediscovering the full communion of the Church.

To everyone I address a pressing invitation to pray ceaselessly to the Lord, by the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, "ut unum sint".

From Rome, at St. Peter's, 2 July 2009, fifth year of Our Pontificate.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Summary of Encyclical, "Caritas in Veritate"

So for those of you who don't have the time to read through the Pope's new Encyclical, here is a summary of the text.

For a blog that is centered on calling attention to Truth, I am so excited to be able to share this with everyone:

From the Vatican Press Office:

The Encyclical published today - which comprehends an introduction, six chapters and a conclusion - is dated 29 June 2009, Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles.

A summary of the Encyclical released by the Holy See Press Office explains that in his introduction the Pope recalls how "charity is at the heart of the Church's social doctrine". Yet, given the risk of its being "misinterpreted and detached from ethical living", he warns how "a Christianity of charity without truth would be more or less interchangeable with a pool of good sentiments, helpful for social cohesion, but of little relevance".

The Holy Father makes it clear that development has need of truth. In this context he dwells on two "criteria that govern moral action": justice and the common good. All Christians are called to charity, also by the "institutional path" which affects the life of the "polis", that is, of social coexistence.

The first chapter of the Encyclical focuses on the message of Paul VI's "Populorum Progressio" which "underlined the indispensable importance of the Gospel for building a society according to freedom and justice. ... The Christian faith does not rely on privilege or positions of power, ... but only on Christ". Paul VI "pointed out that the causes of underdevelopment are not primarily of the material order". They lie above all in the will, in the mind and, even more so, in "the lack of brotherhood among individuals and peoples".

"Human Development in Our Time" is the theme of the second chapter. If profit, the Pope writes, "becomes the exclusive goal, if it is produced by improper means and without the common good as its ultimate end, it risks destroying wealth and creating poverty". In this context he enumerates certain "malfunctions" of development: financial dealings that are "largely speculative", migratory flows "often provoked by some particular circumstance and then given insufficient attention", and "the unregulated exploitation of the earth's resources". In the face of these interconnected problems, the Pope calls for "a new humanistic synthesis", noting how "development today has many overlapping layers: ... The world's wealth is growing in absolute terms, but inequalities are on the increase", and new forms of poverty are coming into being.

At a cultural level, the Encyclical proceeds, the possibilities for interaction open new prospects for dialogue, but a twofold danger exists: a "cultural eclecticism" in which cultures are viewed as "substantially equivalent", and the opposing danger of "cultural levelling and indiscriminate acceptance of types of conduct and lifestyles". In this context Pope Benedict also mentions the scandal of hunger and express his hope for "equitable agrarian reform in developing countries".

The Pontiff also dwells on the question of respect for life, "which cannot in any way be detached from questions concerning the development of peoples", affirming that "when a society moves towards the denial or suppression of life, it ends up no longer finding the necessary motivation and energy to strive for man's true good".

Another question associated with development is that of the right to religious freedom. "Violence", writes the Pope, "puts the brakes on authentic development", and "this applies especially to terrorism motivated by fundamentalism".

Chapter three of the Encyclical - "Fraternity, Economic Development and Civil Society" - opens with a passage praising the "experience of gift", often insufficiently recognised "because of a purely consumerist and utilitarian view of life". Yet development, "if it is to be authentically human, needs to make room for the principle of gratuitousness". As for the logic of the market, it "needs to be directed towards the pursuit of the common good, for which the political community in particular must also take responsibility".

Referring to "Centesimus Annus", this Encyclical highlights the "need for a system with three subjects: the market, the State and civil society" and encourages a "civilising of the economy". It highlights the importance of "economic forms based on solidarity" and indicates how "both market and politics need individuals who are open to reciprocal gift".

The chapter closes with a fresh evaluation of the phenomenon of globalisation, which must not be seen just as a "socio-economic process". Globalisation needs "to promote a person-based and community-oriented cultural process of world-wide integration that is open to transcendence" and able to correct its own malfunctions.

The fourth chapter of the Encyclical focuses on the theme: "The Development of People. Rights and Duties. The Environment". Governments and international organisations, says the Pope, cannot "lose sight of the objectivity and 'inviolability' of rights". In this context he also dedicates attention to "the problems associated with population growth".

He reaffirms that sexuality "cannot be reduced merely to pleasure or entertainment". States, he says, "are called to enact policies promoting the centrality and the integrity of the family".

"The economy needs ethics in order to function correctly", the Holy Father goes on, and "not any ethics whatsoever, but an ethics which is people-centred". This centrality of the human person must also be the guiding principle in "development programmes" and in international co-operation. "International organisations", he suggests, "might question the actual effectiveness of their bureaucratic and administrative machinery, which is often excessively costly".

The Holy Father also turns his attention to the energy problem, noting how "the fact that some States, power groups and companies hoard non-renewable energy resources represents a grave obstacle to development in poor countries. ... Technologically advanced societies can and must lower their domestic energy consumption", he says, at the same time encouraging "research into alternative forms of energy".

"The Co-operation of the Human Family" is the title and focus of chapter five, in which Pope Benedict highlights how "the development of peoples depends, above all, on a recognition that the human race is a single family". Hence Christianity and other religions "can offer their contribution to development only if God has a place in the public realm".

The Pope also makes reference to the principle of subsidiarity, which assists the human person "via the autonomy of intermediate bodies". Subsidiarity, he explains, "is the most effective antidote against any form of all-encompassing welfare state" and is "particularly well-suited to managing globalisation and directing it towards authentic human development".

Benedict XVI calls upon rich States "to allocate larger portions of their gross domestic product to development aid", thus respecting their obligations. He also express a hope for wider access to education and, even more so, for "complete formation of the person", affirming that yielding to relativism makes everyone poorer. One example of this, he writes, is that of the perverse phenomenon of sexual tourism. "It is sad to note that this activity often takes place with the support of local governments", he says.

The Pope then goes on to consider the "epoch-making" question of migration. "Every migrant", he says, "is a human person who, as such, possesses fundamental, inalienable rights that must be respected by everyone and in every circumstance".

The Pontiff dedicates the final paragraph of this chapter to the "strongly felt need" for a reform of the United Nations and of "economic institutions and international finance. ... There is", he says, "urgent need of a true world political authority" with "effective power".

The sixth and final chapter is entitled "The Development of Peoples and Technology". In it the Holy Father warns against the "Promethean presumption" of humanity thinking "it can re-create itself through the 'wonders' of technology". Technology, he says, cannot have "absolute freedom".

"A particularly crucial battleground in today's cultural struggle between the supremacy of technology and human moral responsibility is the field of bioethics", says Benedict XVI, and he adds: "Reason without faith is doomed to flounder in an illusion of its own omnipotence". The social question has, he says, become an anthropological question. Research on embryos and cloning is "being promoted in today's highly disillusioned culture which believes it has mastered every mystery". The Pope likewise expresses his concern over a possible "systematic eugenic programming of births".

In the conclusion to his Encyclical Benedict XVI highlights how "development needs Christians with their arms raised towards God in prayer", just as it needs "love and forgiveness, self-denial, acceptance of others, justice and peace".

Friday, July 3, 2009

Tomb of St. Paul

Okay, so I need to start blogging...I'm going to start with blogging about things that I think are representative of Truth - the evidence of the answer that Pilate sought...

I'll start with the discovery of the Tomb of St. Paul. This morning in the Holy See Press Office, Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, archpriest of the papal basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls, and Professor Ulderico Santamaria, director of the scientific laboratory of the Vatican Museums, hosted a presentation on the sarcophagus of St. Paul.

The following is the VPS report which was just released:

" Cardinal Cordero explained how two years ago he had suggested to the
Pope that the tomb of St. Paul be subject to a scientific examination. Benedict
XVI accepted the proposal but ordered that the outcome only be announced at the
end of the Pauline Year. Hence it was necessary to keep the results secret until

Professor Santamaria dwelt on the technical aspects of the
survey, explaining how a small hole was made in the sarcophagus through which a
probe was then introduced. Fragments of blue linen, purple linen interwoven with
gold thread, grains of red incense and bone fragments were discovered. Carbon
dating on organic elements from these finds suggest that they belong to a person
who lived in the first or second centuries. "This", the Pope said on 28 June
during the closing ceremony for the Pauline Year, "seems to confirm the
unanimous and uncontested tradition that these are the mortal remains of the
Apostle Paul, and it fills our heart with profound emotion".

The cardinal also explained how the Pope does not exclude the
possibility of undertaking a more detailed examination of the sarcophagus of St.
Paul. However, he went on, the Holy Father did not wish this to take place
during the Pauline Year because, in order to open the sarcophagus, it would be
necessary to dismantle the papal altar and the thirteenth-century baldachin by
Arnolfo di Cambio which, he concluded, would be a difficult and delicate

Here is a link to a National Geographic news article:

So, more truth to come...

Friday, May 22, 2009

Getting ready for a week in LA...