Think about those times in your life when you have felt inspired to something really great. Where does that inspiration come from?
The Holy Spirit. God inspires us to do great things with our lives.
----Matthew Kelly

Who is TNSPC?

Friday, March 16, 2018

{SQT} We've Got a Cathedral!

I've been on Spring Break this week and my husband took the week off as well. Our initial plans to camp were put aside because I had weather concerns. We had flurries a couple of times this week, and I didn't want to camp and be cold. (Yep, I'm spoiled that way!) We took one day and went to the nearby city. I live in a young Diocese that is only 27 years old, so we didn't have a Cathedral, per se. The Cathedra was housed in an existing older church, so "we" built a Cathedral. It was dedicated just last week. As we were out & about one day, my husband asked where it was and wanted to see it. I watched part of the dedication on the internet, but seeing it in person was just breathtaking.


Statue of St. John Paul II on the side wall


View of the altar


The altar is made of marble from the same quarry as the marble Michealango used to carve the Pieta.
The tabernacle is repurposed from a church in the Netherlands. It is over 100 years old and weighs over 500 pounds.
The Baldacchino is actually made from wood finished in faux marble paint. 


In the dome, there are pictures of saints who are either American or are of nationalities found within our Diocese. These pictures were painted on canvas and then applied by hand to the dome. The main feature of the dome is the Sacred Heart of Jesus with Mary & Joseph on either side of Jesus. The 12 apostles are around the dome. In the 4 corners just under the dome are the 4 evangelists: Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John.


This picture came out a little blurry, but it is the back of the cathedral. We weren't allowed to go to the choir loft to see the organ, but the pipes were spectacular.


These statues are in the front of the Cathedral, just as you walk in:
Saint Faustina

Saint/Mother Teresa
I"m assuming this is St. Joseph? (Someone correct me if I'm wrong!)


The dedication stone

A close-up of the plaque. 
It is an absolutely beautiful church, and, in my opinion, one that rivals some of the churches I've seen in Europe.

I'm linking up with Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum for Seven Quick Takes.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Rejoicing with Grace in the Middle of Lent

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines grace as favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to be children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life. (CCC 1996) In RCIA this week, someone had a very good question: What is the difference between grace & blessing? The Catechism explains blessing as expressing the basic movement of Christian prayer; it is an encounter between God and man. In blessing, God's gift and man's acceptance of it are united in dialogue with each other, the prayer of blessing is man's response to God's gifts: because God blesses, the human heart can in return bless the One who is the source of every blessing. (CCC 2626) I interpret that to mean that through God's blessing, we receive grace. Please keep in mind that I am not a theologian and have never taken college courses on theology. This is just my simple mind trying to wrap my head around this week's Readings.

Rejoice in the middle of Lent?

The priests and deacons wear pink (or rose...the deacon is adamant that they are rose!) vestments this week. Lent is a time for confession, penance, and reconciliation. Here we are in the middle of Lent, and it's a day of rejoicing. (Enter record scratch here.) Wait...what? Yes, I said rejoicing. In the middle of Lent!  It's time to come out of the darkness to prepare for our risen Lord. To get to that, first, we have to relive his passion.  But, I'm getting ahead of myself. Today is the day to get a breather. Take a deep breath, look back on how you've been doing during Lent with your spiritual health, and get ready for the "heavy week". As I get older, Holy Week takes on more meaning. As I reflect on how my Lent has been going, I have work to do. Serious work. I slacked off this past week and haven't felt myself getting closer to God. I feel like I'm hiding in the darkness.

Coming Out of the Dark

When I was a child, I'm pretty sure if I did something I wasn't supposed to I would sneak and hide. (Getting sweets when I wasn't supposed to comes to mind!) We have a dog (who is actually my son's...she's our house guest until he graduates) who will run and hide under the bed when she's done something wrong. I think those are 2 pretty good examples of hiding in the darkness due to sin. (You might argue that dogs can't sin, but that's a topic for another day.) In the dog's case, once we cajole her and talk sweetly to her, she'll come out from under the bed. As people, once we're told it's okay and we're forgiven, don't we feel as if the darkness has dissipated? During his Homily, the priest said that Jesus came to bring light to the world. Lent is not about darkness so we shouldn't hide but instead come out into the light. As Catholics, we receive grace when we go to confession and are absolved of our sins. What an amazing blessing God has given us!

Just Go

Communal penitential services are a perfect time to prepare yourself to receive the grace given to us through the Sacrament of Penance. Or, go to confession at your parish's scheduled time. If that doesn't work for you, call the parish office and make an appointment for the priest to hear your confession. Just go to prepare yourself for Holy Week.

During the Homily, Father mentioned that as Christians, we continue to be drawn to God. I momentarily got distracted by Audrey Assad's song coming to mind:

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Time to Clear Out

Flashback to Wednesday afternoon. I pulled out my Magnificat to read the Gospel for Sunday before RCIA. The problem was, there were 2 different readings. Are we in Year A or B? I just chalked it up to God just wanting me to listen as it was read during RCIA, only this week we didn't have the Gospel reading and discussion we usually do. I shrugged it off because surely the USCCB will tell me exactly which one to read. Sunday morning I pulled up USCCB on my tablet, but it didn't tell me which one to read. I was a little frustrated. So, I pulled up my email, because my Blessed is She email will have the Readings listed. And it did. I did a little chuckle when I realized That the Gospel tells about the time Jesus went into the temple with a whip, overturning tables and yelling because it had been turned into a marketplace. That pretty much calmed my frustration pretty quickly. I found it interesting that God let me feel so frustrated before reading the Gospel. I know the frustration I felt was just a minuscule fraction of what Jesus felt.

It had to be over the top

The Gospel this week is a story we all know. It's the story about when Jesus gets mad. Honestly, this has always confused me, because Jesus is perfect and, to me, should never get mad. Losing your patience is a sin, right? Looking at it right now, at this moment, I get it. He did what he had to in order to make the people see what they were doing. He had to "overexaggerate" if you will. If he had just walked in the temple and politely said, "Okay, you guys. This is my father's house, and what you're doing is not allowed in here, so pick up your merchandise and get your animals out of here", they would have looked at him and laughed him out of the temple. No, it took something over the top for them to see just how serious this was.

The "Aha Moment"

During his homily, Father took notice that Jesus drove out the sheep and the oxen; however, he told the ones with the doves to just get them out of there. I can picture Jesus looking at them with compassion and quietly telling them to get the birds out. I never realized the significance of the birds, or that Jesus treated them differently. Father explained that when people came from all over for the Passover, some traveled a great distance. The animal to be sacrificed had to be unblemished, so I imagine that those travelers couldn't chance bringing an animal, only to have something happen to it before the sacrifice. They bought unblemished animals in Jerusalem. The doves were less expensive, so the poor were the ones who purchased them. Therein lies the explanation as to why Jesus gently (in my opinion) told those sellers to take the doves out.  And that was my "Aha moment" of the day.

Clearing out your temple

Our parish priest is such an amazing homilist. I'm always eager to hear his homilies when I find out he is the celebrant for Mass because I know it's going to be good.  They aren't long, but they are short, sweet, and to the point. Not only that but relatable to the here and now. This week's homily was no different. In relating the Gospel to today, he said that Lent is a time of cleaning out your temple. It's now that we refocus on what is important: not the material things or selfishness, but getting right with God. He said, now is the time to "clear out what gets in our way so we can rejoice with a pure heart." 
We are just about halfway through Lent. Father's words have given me a sense of urgency; I am nowhere near ready to rejoice with a pure heart. I'm getting there. Every time I think I'm on the way I have a setback, but I always seem to get back on the right track. Maybe that's what Lent is all about: the ups and downs, the trials and rejoicing. God definitely doesn't let me too proud of myself! Especially lately, He's keeping me humble!
How is Lent going for you? Are you ready to rejoice with a pure heart or are you sensing the urgency as I am?

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Lepers & Saints

During RCIA, we start out by reading the next Sunday's Gospel and having a discussion. Sometimes it can be very interesting to see what stood out for some people.  This week, there were varying opinions: was the leper being prideful when he was healed? Why did Jesus tell him not to tell anyone? What was the "cleansing what Moses prescribed" (Mark 1: 44)?

The Cleansing Process

After reading Leviticus 14 1:32, I realized what a long, arduous process the cleansing is. It wasn't a quick sacrificial ceremony, rather, it took days. It begins with 2 live birds and cedar wood, scarlet yarn, and hyssop. 1 of the birds is slaughtered over fresh water, then the live bird (along with the other materials) is dipped into the blood. The person is then sprinkled 7 times with this blood. The person is then allowed to go back to his house, but he can't go in it just yet. He has to stay outside for 7 days (I'm assuming this is so that the house can be declared "clean"...the rest of chapter 13 of Leviticus discusses that process.), when he has to shave off all hair, wash his clothes, and bathe in water. On the 8th day, 3 lambs are brought before the priest: 2 male and 1 female. One of the males is sacrificed, with the blood being put on very specific places on the one being cleansed. Then, oil that also was brought is placed on specific body parts of the person. Next is a purification offering. Verses 21-32 discuss the cleansing process for someone who is poor, which I imagine a lot of lepers were since they were banished from the community and their families were shamed. It was an interesting read, for sure!

What's the Connection?

During the Readings during Mass, I thought of how the 3 Readings were intertwined. I think some Sundays I have a hard time fitting the 3 together, but not this week. The First Reading (Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46) touches on what I described in the previous paragraph. It seems a bit spliced to me, reading the whole Chapter makes more sense. This Reading gives us a glimpse of what it was like to have leprosy. Just a glimpse, though. Lepers were banished from their communities; their families looked upon with shame because it was believed that leprosy was brought on by the sins of the leper. Can you imagine? These days, leprosy is known as "Hansen's Disease", and, according to the CDC, can take up to 20 years to develop. It is treatable, and the CDC estimates 150-250 people in the U.S.A. contract the bacterial infection per year. (Hansen's Disease-CDC)
The Second Reading doesn't seem to have a connection between the First Reading and the Gospel, but after I listened to it and read it again, there's definitely a connection to the Gospel. Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1) and See that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself... (Mark 1:44) As part of our discussion at RCIA, we talked about not doing things for recognition (there's that theme again!). Jesus could have told the leper to run out and tell everyone about his great miracles, but that wasn't his purpose for becoming man and being on the earth. He didn't want people to think he was just about being a healer, a miracle worker. He wanted his physical healings to take a back seat to his true ministry: healing the souls of the people. He calls us to imitate him today, to do things for the right reason: to glorify God and not to call attention to ourselves.

A Hero or a Crazy Man?

St. Damien of Molokai was a Belgian priest who, when his brother fell ill before going on a mission to Hawaii, took his brother's place. He learned of a leper island with no structure. He helped, not only with the structure, but building houses and a chapel. More importantly, he helped with their souls. He eventually contracted the disease after living within the community for 16 years and succumbed to leprosy at the age of 49. There are reports that, upon his passing, all signs of leprosy vanished from his face. Upon statehood, Hawaii selected to have St. Damien as one of its representatives in the Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol. When accused of immoral behavior by a Protestant clergyman, St. Damien was defended by Robert Louis Stevenson in his Open Letter to Mr. Hyde. (Franciscan Media) Father Damien was ordained in Hawaii...when he first arrived, he was not a priest. He was only supposed to minister in Molokai for a few months but asked (along with some of the inhabitants) to stay. Even though leprosy is not highly contagious (as was once thought), Father Damien did not pay attention to hygiene which contributed to his contracting the disease.
Want to go on a pilgrimage? In 2015, there were still a few dozen people living in Kalaupapa, which is now a National Historical Park. This includes mostly park employees. Visitors are limited to 100 per day (no one under 16 is permitted) and they have to be invited by either the park employees are the remaining inhabitants. Kalaupapa is accessible only by mule or hiking. There is a long-term plan for the park to be opened up for tourists.

St. Damien Prayer: (Diocese of Honolulu)

Damien, brother on the journey, happy and generous missionary, who loved the Gospel more than your own life, who for love of Jesus left your family, your homeland, your security and your dreams.

Teach us to give our lives with joy like yours, to be in solidarity with the outcasts of our world, to celebrate and contemplate the Eucharist as the source of our own commitment.

Help us to love to the very end and, in the strength of the Spirit, to persevere in compassion for the poor and forgotten so that we might be good disciples of Jesus and Mary.


Sunday, February 4, 2018

"Me Time"

Searching for Jesus

The reflections I read about today's Gospel (Mark 1:29-39) were about knowing that God gave you a purpose, or that we should always seek Jesus. Even Pope Francis got in on it:
The Homily was given by the Bishop through a recording (Bishop's Appeal Sunday), and he mentioned how we should all search for Jesus. He said that some people find Him at an early age, and some search their whole lives. I fall into that last category. Sometimes I feel like we're playing "hide & seek"...I find him and have a great relationship with him, but then I go through a dry period & I feel like I lose him for a time. Are you with me?

Not my take

Interestingly, though, that's not what I got out of the Readings. In the First Reading  (Job 7:1-4, 6-7), Job is talking about his sufferings. I remember those nights that seemed to go on forever...walking around the room or rocking a newborn. Just me & my baby for what seemed like hours, especially since I was so tired and just wanted to go to bed. Seeing the sun coming up was such a relief. Then it would seem like a blink of an eye that the day would be gone and I would pray for the baby to sleep all night. Thankfully, I didn't have very many of those nights; maybe that's why I remember them so vividly.
Fast forward to now...the babies are grown men and those sleepless nights are a distant memory. Every now and then, though, I will have a sleepless night thanks to the dogs. When I'm up, I'm up and there are nights when I can't go back to sleep. Nights when I lay back down, staring at the clock, knowing I have to get up in "X" amount of hours. Those nights don't seem as long as they did when I had babies to comfort. Oh, but the days! There just isn't enough time in the day to accomplish all I need or want to.

But I'm so tired!

In the Gospel, Jesus healed a bunch of people, then got up at the crack of dawn to pray. He had to be dog-tired after all of the healing he did the day before, yet he got up to spend time with God. Those mornings when I just want to stay in bed? Yeah, I'm going to have to remember this Gospel.
My parents were almost always the first to get up in the mornings. They never stayed in bed because they were tired. If they were still in bed after we got up, they were ill, and they were never ill. (A slight embellishment...they were rarely ill!) Once they were empty-nesters, they attended Daily Mass every day except Sat. (mom said that was their day to "sleep in"...sometimes until 8:00!) My mom would wake up around 6:00 every morning, go into the kitchen, and pray and read the day's readings. My father was raised on farms, so he had always been an "up and at 'em" kind of guy. There wasn't a lazy bone in either of their bodies. But I know they had to be tired. Just like Jesus was.

Early to bed; early to rise

What kept them going? It had to be the promise of salvation. Some mornings I can't wait to get up and see what the day's Readings are. Other mornings, I want to hit the snooze and take just another 15 minutes before I get up. Then I remember the passage in Matthew Kelly's Resisting Happiness where he talks about hitting the snooze button being the first resistance of the day. So, I get up and get on with my day. There's definitely something about being the first one up in the house. It's always been my "me time". Just me and the dogs, trying to get my act together for the day. My days definitely go smoother when I have that time to pray and read. Some mornings there isn't a whole lot of reflection going on, and on my Adoration days sometimes I'm a little slack because I know I'll have an hour that evening. Some days I have more to pray about than others because, well...3 grown boys. The worrying never stops, y'all.  I can definitely "feel it" when I don't have that time in the mornings. After reading the Gospel this morning, I guess even Jesus needed his "me time"!
So...what about you? When is your "me time"?

Friday, February 2, 2018

{SQT} Seven Random Things

I'm joining in with Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum for another round of Seven Quick Takes. Today  I have some random quick things:


What I'm reading: I'm actually reading a couple of things right now. As I mentioned in this post, a Sister recommended Interior Freedom (Jacques Philippe). I'm taking it slow so I can really digest what he is saying.
I'm also reading Created to Relate (Kelly M. Wahlquist). This is the winter book club with WINE (Women in the New Evangelization). I'm not doing so great with participating in the online discussion, but the book is very interesting. The premise is how we, as women, are created for relationships. Anyone who thinks there is no difference between how men & women are made needs to read this book! 


What I'm listening to: Audrey Assad's I Shall Not Want. Every. Single. Day. I need to hear the Litany of Humility every morning.


What I'm watching: After all of the violence and questionable Netflix I watched over the snow week, I've switched gears. A.D. Kingdom and Empire is incredible. Roma Downey & Mark Burnett have brought the apostles to life. I can't get enough. I wish they had slowed things down a little, though. It seems a bit rushed & I want to relish what I'm watching!
I'm also watching Victoria on Amazon Prime. Season 2 is on PBS but I always forget to watch it so I may have to catch up with a free trial!


What I am praying:  The Novena to St. Monica for one of my grown sons. The worry never goes away, y'all. I have given it to God, but there are times when the concern, the anxiousness, the worry takes over.


What I am baking: My SIL shared a recipe she found on FB last week. I tried them; they are heavenly! When I first saw the name (Kentucky Brownie BOMB Bars) I thought they might have bourbon in them, but no. No bourbon. But delicious just the same!


What I'm writing: Over on my "personal blog", I'm revisiting my October trip to Ireland. Our pilgrimage to Knock was published on Monday. Want to read it? Click here.


Best quote I heard this week:

Friday, January 19, 2018

{SQT} A Week of Snow Days

I actually have time to join other bloggers at This Ain't the Lyceum for a Seven Quick Takes post! Since I've been off of work all week (one of the perks of working for a southern school system that includes some mountains!), here's how I wasted a week's worth of time spent my time:


I was able to begin most mornings with an extra cuppa. And it was marvelous. I sat my butt down in front of the tv and watched my favorite local news team, checked email and Facebook, all while sipping my Publix Raspberry Chocolate coffee with Amaretto coffee creamer from a real coffee cup (not a travel cup!).
I love my coffee cups! This is one of my favorite.


One of the things I said I wanted to do more of this year is write. So, that's what I did this week. I not only caught up on my speech blog, but I wrote ahead and have next week's post already scheduled. I have 2 posts scheduled on my personal blog...I'm finally getting around to writing about my October trip to Ireland. I'm spacing those posts out and posting on Mondays and Thursdays. My SIL & I saw so many things that it's going to take a while (and several posts) to go through it all.
Our first leg of the trip (Dublin) is "live" on the personal blog.


I caught up on Netflix and I'm not ashamed to admit it! There were new seasons on some of the shows I watched:
Peaky Blinders. Since the show is about a mob, there's violence. If you can get past that, you'll like it. (Sidenote: My SIL & I past Cillian Murphy-who plays the lead character- as we walked to our hotel our last night in Ireland. I didn't realize who he was until the other day when I caught up on this show. Probably a good thing...I would have chased him down if I realized it!)
Disjointed. Kathy Bates is an attorney turned shop-keeper...of a dispensary in So.Cal. If you can get past the pot-smoking and f-bombs, you'll like it. 
Broadchurch. This is a BBC show that is just marvelous. David Tennant (Dr. Who) plays one of the main characters. Every time you think you have things figured out, there's a twist.  This season was no different. Excellent show!
Travelers. I started watching the new season but haven't finished. It's kind of a weird show...the travelers inhabit people's bodies who are scheduled to die and take over their lives. (Told you it was weird!) Eric McCormack (Will & Grace) plays the lead in this one.
Episodes. This is a new show I'm watching; I don't know how I missed this one before.  It's another BBC show: a couple writes a successful British show and is asked to bring the show to the USA. After they agree and move to LA, they find that the British show won't fly here and it gets a total make-over. Matt LeBlanc (Friends) plays the lead actor (as himself) in this one. It's a little over the top, but I'll finish watching this one. The show portrays Hollywood with extramarital affairs and "embellished body parts".
There were some shows that I just couldn't watch:
Ozark. I was given the recommendation to watch this one from a friend. Jason Bateman is a financial advisor who is laundering money for a cartel. After his partner embezzles millions of dollars from the cartel guy (and is shot), Marty (Bateman) makes a deal with the cartel to turn the $8 million to $500 million in 5 years. He takes his family to the Missouri Ozarks and gets to work. I just found this show disturbing. (Yeah, I know...go figure. I can watch Peaky Blinders and Disjointed with no problem but find this show disturbing!) My husband liked it and continued to watch, but I had to stop after 4 episodes.
Grace and Frankie. I watched the first 2 seasons, but for some reason, I just can't keep watching. 
Hinterland. Another British show, but this one is exceptionally dark and bloody. I couldn't get past the 2nd episode.
I probably didn't make the best choices with the shows I watched!


After 2 days of not setting foot outside of my house, I had to run a couple of errands in town. As I left WalMart, I thought about what day it was (yep, I really had to stop & think!) and realized it was Thursday...a day when my parish has noon mass. (My parish is across the street from WalMart.) I had enough time to go home, put things away, slap some makeup on, and get back over to the church for mass. It was exactly what I needed yesterday after throwing somewhat of a pity party for myself, I was reminded that I am in my profession to help children...not for recognition. This was even after a previous post I had written.  I would have sworn that the priest had been in my head that morning because he said the exact same words I did: jealousy, negativity, and focus. You've gotta love when that happens!
We still have snow on the ground, but the main roads are clear.


This little ragamuffin requires quite a bit of attention.
This is our house guest until June...hopefully.
She's in, she's out. She goes out and doesn't want to come in, so I leave her out until she starts barking. She belongs to one of our sons who realized after he took her that he can't have her in the house where he's living. She can be really sweet, but she's a pain the butt since she's not 100% house-trained and is over a year old. 
She was napping next to me, then woke up and moved over with her "nap head"!


Last Friday, my principal allowed me to take a half-day to attend the mass funeral of a family friend whom I have known my whole life. Today I will attend the funeral mass for a friend of my parents. One of the precepts of the Catholic Church is to bury the dead. That doesn't mean to actually dig a hole and literally bury them, but to attend masses and pray for the repose of their souls. As bad as this sounds, I was relieved that we didn't have school today so I could attend the mass. I just feel in my heart that I need to be there as a representative of my parents. So, I'll have to get out of my jammies, get showered, and appropriately dress for the mass. It's not the most favorite thing I've done this week, but I'm glad I can be there to show support for the deceased's wife. 


There were some things that I halfway did:
I cleaned up our back spare bedroom. I really should have done a better job, but I did get all of the stuff off of the bed. I'm bad about putting stuff on the bed, thinking that I'll come back later and put it where it belongs. But then I close the door and forget about it and it piles up.
I kept the kitchen clean, but I didn't reorganize the pantry. I don't think it needs it since it's only been a few months since my kitchen was complete.
My pantry "before"
My pantry "after"
But you know what? I don't feel an ounce of guilt for not doing some things that really need to be done! Maybe I'll save that for our next round of snow days!

The Sacred Heart fountain at church is partially flowing, partially frozen. 

This was day 3...there's a saying that if snow is on the ground for 3 days, it's hanging around waiting for more.