Happening NOW! Flooding AGAIN!

So. Hmm. It’s hard to know what to think or say about this currently happening flooding incident in Kingwood, TX and the greater Houston area. Some streets and homes are flooded again. It’s not as devastating as Hurricane Harvey two years ago, unless you are an unfortunate soul whose home or business is now flooded.

We tipped a table to divert water away from our back door so that it won”t threaten to flood the kitchen. It works really well. This photo doesn’t begin to reflect the state of my city right now!

In May, St. Martha Catholic School flooded. I was working that day in the detached building across from the PreK hallway. For hours I counted bricks between the flood waters and the bottom edge of the PreK hallway windows to gauge our chance of flooding too. Our hallway survived the May flood, but not so sure about today, because I’m so sad to report that the school is currently flooding again. AGAIN!

St. Martha Catholic School flooded in May, 2019

Please pray for my city as you go about your day. Be thankful when you get in your car and drive on a clear road and when you pick up your cell and don’t worry about power to charge it. Offer a prayer when you relax in your favorite chair which wasn’t ruined from flood water. When you sleep in your own bed, and turn on your TV and every station isn’t covering “Flash Flood Emergency” warnings, think about what you’re doing with your day, because a lot of people here are going to experience heartbreak and stress as they rebuild. And, be happy when your children are able to go to school because it didn’t flood!

I continue to pray for all of this mess. I also wonder what purpose this new devastation holds, I’m not gonna lie. But in the end, I’m going to continue to praise my mighty and loving Lord God. Here is my prayer of praise from parts of Daniel, Chapter 3:

52 Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our ancestors, praiseworthy and exalted above all forever; And blessed is your holy and glorious name, praiseworthy and exalted above all for all ages. 57 Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. 59 You heavens, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. 60 All you waters above the heavens, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. 62 Sun and moon, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. 64 Every shower and dew, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. 68 Dew and rain, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. 82 All you mortals, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever. 89 Give thanks to the Lord, who is good, whose mercy endures forever.” Amen [1]

In hope,

Peggy

[1] http://www.usccb.org/bible/daniel/3

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Thinking About Dad

My dad passed away on May 30, 2019. Several years ago I made two hurried trips to Ohio with funeral clothes packed, thinking that the inevitable was imminent. But, in Dad fashion, he’d pull a trick from his sleeve and come through the near death event to tell another joke or play another song.

This time “the call” was different, and once again I packed funeral clothes and flew to see him that very night. His last two days were shared with many who loved him. I was so grateful that he hung with us so many years that I rejected the feeling of deep grief in the week after his passing.

Now that a few weeks have gone, I am thinking deeply about Dad. I’m sad to no longer hear him answer the phone with a happy, “Hey, Peggy, how ya doin?” Dad loved his family. We lit up his life and he lit up ours. I miss him.

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Dad was an interesting guy. He loved music, played some instruments, spoke different languages, and had slight of hand “magic” tricks that left kids and grand-kids (and a few great-grands) baffled and amazed.

Dad and Mom at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church
Wickliffe, Ohio,
July 2018

Dad had a deep faith. He loved our Lord and the Mass. He believed that Jesus was his savior, and savored each opportunity to attend Mass and receive our Lord’s Body and Blood in the Eucharist. When I was about twenty, Dad, Mom, and I were Eucharistic Ministers at our parish. Dad was in charge of the schedule for the ministers to cover all the Masses, and for a few years we served together on Holy Thursday…the night we celebrate Christ giving us His precious Body and Blood at the Last Supper and saying, “Do this, in remembrance of me.” One year we stood side by side and distributed communion to the congregation. I remember that every year on Holy Thursday.

His love for our Lord and for the Mass really showed itself in his last years, when mobility issues prohibited him from attending church. He was grateful for those who brought him the Eucharist at home.

When Dad was admitted to the hospital this last time, he received the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. He had earlier expressed concern to me that he wanted an opportunity to go to confession. In receiving this sacrament he was anointed with holy oil, went to confession, and received Holy Communion. Mom was so happy for him. She sounded relieved. I was too, for that desire of his heart had been granted.

Thank you, Dad, for the laughter that was always part of our lives, for your creativity, and for the seed of faith which you strove to implant in us. You were faithful.

In hope,

Peggy

Read more about Holy Thursday and the Eucharist here:

https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/peggyangelino.wordpress.com/2864

Read more about the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick here:

http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/sacraments-and-sacramentals/anointing-of-the-sick/index.cfm

Posted in Catholic Beliefs, Death, Sacraments | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Flesh and Blood

What a way to start the day! Today’s Gospel reading at Mass is the linchpin of our Catholic faith. It is the passage that unites us, literally, as a church. Ironically, it causes such misunderstanding and division that some leave the church because they can’t bring themselves to believe.  Other religions call Catholics a cult (or worse) because we believe what it says and we do what it commands.  Things haven’t changed much since the time of Christ, have they?

I’m not gonna lie, I was just a bit giddy that I was able to attend Mass this morning and live out this very gospel teaching.  It is an imperative of our Lord Himself.  You probably know the passage:

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his Flesh to eat?”

Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my Flesh is true food, and my Blood is  true drink. Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood  remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.” These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
                                                                                                         -John 6:52-59

I have friends who believe the Bible should be interpreted literally.  They take their faith seriously and want to live as Christ taught.  But in this circumstance, they don’t believe that they should do what Jesus says in this passage. 

How is it possible that this one passage isn’t taken literally? His words are very clear. He doesn’t say this is a reenactment, and he doesn’t tell us to do it to “remember” him.  He says that “unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, you do not have life within you.” Read more about this in https://peggyangelino.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/body-and-blood/

Photo by Two-Eleven Photography

Jesus is present under the species of bread and wine. It is the same Christ who is offering this sacrifice that acts through the ministry of his priests. Only validly ordained priests can preside at the Eucharist and consecrate the bread and the wine so that they become the Body and Blood of our Lord. (CCC 1410, 1411) This was the Tradition and practice of the apostles and their successors from the very beginning.

Definitely check out this website for more on the Eucharist:
https://www.catholicscomehome.org/your-questions/church-teachings/the-eucharist/

The Catechism of the Catholic Church is the “official” place to learn more about the Eucharist .

Bishop Robert Barron has a DVD series on it, appropriately titled Eucharist.

In hope,

Peggy

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Thoughts from an Ancient Teacher

I really liked the lesson this morning when I read the Saint of the Day on my Laudate app.  Sometimes a thought hits home, you know?   The “studying” part of our faith is interesting to me, but this reflection reminded me that when I first received my catechist certificate, Cardinal Dinardo told us that “what we learned was not for head knowledge only, but we are to use it to build the Body of Christ.”

Here is the quote from St. Isadore of Seville, born in 560. Don’t forget to read the last paragraph!

Prayer purifies us, reading instructs us. Both are good when both are possible. Otherwise, prayer is better than reading. If a man wants to be always in God’s company, he must pray regularly and read regularly. When we pray, we talk to God; when we read, God talks to us. All spiritual growth comes from reading and reflection. By reading we learn what we did not know; by reflection we retain what we have learned. Reading the Holy Scriptures confers two benefits. It trains the mind to understand them; it turns man’s attention from the follies of the world and leads him to the love of God.

My Father-in-Law’s library was extensive.
He had as many or more books on faith as he did other subjects combined.

The conscientious reader will be more concerned to carry out what he has read than merely to acquire knowledge of it. In reading we aim at knowing, but we must put into practice what we have learned in our course of study. The more you devote yourself to study of the sacred utterances, the richer will be your understanding of them, just as the more the soil is tilled, the richer the harvest. The man who is slow to grasp things but who really tries hard is rewarded, equally he who does not cultivate his God-given intellectual ability is condemned for despising his gifts and sinning by sloth.

Learning unsupported by grace may get into our ears; it never reaches the heart. But when God’s grace touches our innermost minds to bring understanding, his word which has been received by the ear sinks deep into the heart. – from the Book of Maxims by Saint Isidore

Heresy is from the Greek word meaning ‘choice’…. But we are not permitted to believe whatever we choose, nor to choose whatever someone else has believed. We have the Apostles of God as authorities, who did not…choose what they would believe but faithfully transmitted the teachings of Christ. So, even if an angel from heaven should preach otherwise, he shall be called anathema. – Saint Isidore

http://catholicsaints.info/saint-isidore-of-seville/

In hope,

Peggy

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Confess Simply

Sometimes life is really hard, and sometimes we fail to live up to the expectations of our Christian faith. The Ten Commandments spell out a holy way of life for us, but daily stresses and temptations make it hard to do what we know is right all of the time. Agreed?

There’s a fix for this. It’s called Confession, aka the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Before you click away, let me just say, “I get it.” Who of us wants to tell our worst behavior to an unfamiliar priest, or worse, to a priest we know ?  That’s just, I don’t know….embarrassing.  So much for having it all together, making  good choices, being kind, peaceful, or generous.  We all blow it, but if no one else knows, we can quietly make our peace with God, right?

No.  Well, not exactly.

I’m going to make a bold statement.  We make way too much out of going to Confession.  No, I’m not downplaying or making light of the sacrament, but if the embarrassment or fear of going into a confessional keeps you from the sacrament, then you’re overthinking this.

Photo credit My Lovely Faith

Fr. Wade Menezes of the Fathers of Mercy says that when we go to confession, we should “confess simply.”  In other words, tell what you did and how many times you did it.  There’s no need to go into great detail. The priest doesn’t need to know the details and your simple confession protects him from the scandal of imagining the sin.  You don’t need to dwell on the details either, so the guilt of it doesn’t paralyze you or make you feel unworthy of the mercy of God.   The only exception to this is if there is an extenuating circumstance which makes your sin more serious.  Here is his example:  “Father, I lost my temper one time and hit a man. He was hospitalized.  And Father, the man was my brother- in- law.”   The extenuating circumstance is that the man he hit was his brother-in-law.  Any violence against a family member is a more serious offense and should also be confessed.

Photo credit My Lovely Faith

You will find mercy in the sacrament of Confession.  Do not stay away because of fear or embarrassment.  Let the priest guide you through the process. If you want spiritual direction along with your confession, you can ask the priest for an appointment so you aren’t rushed.  I’ve done this and it was easy to do.  Call the parish office and ask for an appointment for confession.

“Confession heals, confession justifies, confession grants pardon of sin. All hope consists in confession. In confession there is a chance for mercy. Believe it firmly. Do not doubt, do not hesitate, never despair of the mercy of God. Hope and have confidence in confession.” St. Isidore of Seville

“Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sin may be wiped away.” Acts 3:19 (NABRE)

So to that I say, “Go!”

In hope, Peggy

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Fast and Be Happy

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I don’t know about you, but during Lent I really like to “fast.”  Just kidding.  I don’t like to fast at all.  It takes a lot of effort for me to look pleasant and not wimpy when I don’t eat.  Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are hard, and I hope every year I won’t get a headache.  I DO recognize the importance of the practice though,  and  I WANT to like it for the spiritual benefit, but… you know… I like to eat.

Last year I heard about a very practical way to “fast” during the 40 Days of Lent.  It’s a simple practice called “The 5 Minute Fast.”

  • Give up something you want for 5 minutes. At the end of 5 minutes, if you still want it, give it up again.  Another 5 minutes goes by and so you give it again….or maybe now you don’t.  Either way, you have offered something up for Lent.
  • Each time you give something up, pray for something or someone.  Fasting is, after all,  a discipline to benefit your spirit and to remind you of your dependence on God.
  • Remember to be grateful.

Over the years I’ve practiced a form of frequent (not every day) fasting.  Usually I decide to fast from a snack, or more likely from a Starbuck’s stop.  These are little longings that I want but can really do without.  The “letting go” of little things helps keep me aware and grateful of the blessings I have.  I like this.

So here’s to Happy Fasting and a Happy, Blessed Lent.  For another lenten post, visit  Happy Lent.

For more reading on the meaning of fasting, visit the USCCB website  here.

In hope,                                                                                                                                            Peggy

Note:  I searched for the 5 Minute Fast online and found one site: ToJesusSincerely.com     Have you heard of this practice? If so, please leave a comment on its origin. Thanks!

 

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Three Reasons Catholics Are Bible People

 

The Catholic Church is a  Bible Church. Does that sound weird to you? Okay, so it isn’t how we normally talk about the Catholic faith, and I wonder why not?  Here are just three reasons why I think this is true.

Reason # 3:  Bible Studies.  For years I attended a very well known non-denominational Bible study. I was intimidated at first with the women who could recite chapter and verse of key faith issues. But after a while I realized that most of them knew less than I thought, and what we learned, we learned together. What’s more, as the study progressed I became more confident in what I already knew, because I knew our faith stories and learned of our salvation history long ago through the Catholic Church . I’m grateful for my experience with that particular study, but the one I attended within my own parish community caused my knowledge and faith to grow too.  Catholic churches do offer studies and  I’m very grateful for  The Cornerstone Scripture Study. It is educational and also builds community within your local church. Visit http://www.thecornerstonescripturestudy.org.   The Little Rock Scripture Study is another option. https://www.littlerockscripture.org/P1020369

Reason #2:  Scripture is proclaimed at each and every Mass.  Passages from the Old Testament, Psalms, New Testament and Gospel are read and “broken open” for us in the homily. Maybe we take for granted what we hear so often, but really, what we have is priceless.   Scott Hahn is now an author and professor of theology and scripture, but when he was a Protestant minister  he experienced his first Mass. By his own admission, he believed that the Mass was the “ultimate sacrilege” and he attended as an observer only. In The Lamb’s Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth, Hahn describes his life changing experience.

“As the Mass moved on, however, something hit me. My Bible wasn’t just beside me. It was before me-in the words of the Mass! One line was from Isaiah, another from the Psalms, another from Paul. The experience was overwhelming. I wanted to stop everything and shout, “Hey, can I explain what’s happening from Scripture? This is great!” Still, I maintained my observer status. I remained on the sidelines until I heard the priest pronounce the words of consecration: “This is My body…This is the cup of my blood.”

“In less than a minute the phrase ‘Lamb of God’ had rung out four times. From long years of studying the Bible, I immediately knew where I was. I was in the Book of Revelation, where Jesus is called the Lamb no less than twenty-eight times.”

As a result of his knowledge of the Bible and his experience that day, Scott Hahn became a Catholic Theologian.  Can you imagine turning your life and career upside down like that? His story reminds me NOT to take our amazing Catholic faith for granted.

Reason # 1:  The Bible was inspired, written, compiled and defended in the earliest days of the church.  This was when the church was one body, before the Reformation and the divisions of Martin Luther, John Calvin, and the countless factions that separate us today.  This early church was the catholic, or universal, church. The Catholic Church of today is this same historic church and for the gift of the Bible it gave us I am ultimately grateful.

In hope,                                                                                                                                                           Peggy

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Beauty is Important

Welcome to our brand new Holy Family Chapel. Today after Mass I spent a few moments here. When it was dedicated in September, I wasn’t able to attend morning Mass for a couple of weeks because of work and various commitments. I couldn’t wait to get there. Psalm 63 kept going through my head,

O God, you are my God, it is you I seek! For you my body yearns; for you my soul thirsts, in a land parched, lifeless, and without water. I look to you in the sanctuary to see your power and glory. For your love is better than life; my lips shall ever praise you!

Psalm 63: 2-4

“I look to you in the sanctuary to see your power and glory.” Do you seek him out in a sanctuary? Does your body long for him in Holy Communion? Do you see his might and his power in creation? Do you value his love more than life itself?

Holy Family Chapel was built with so much thoughtfulness. Many of the “articles” of our faith were once used in our original church and chapel, now too small for our growing community. The gold candlelight hanging above the tabernacle hung above that same tabernacle in our original chapel. The Stations of the Cross and candlesticks came from our original church. The huge cross was made from the pews of the original church.

Beauty is important. What better way to honor God than to offer back to him the work of our hands, using His own creation? For me, sitting here among the beautiful “articles” of our faith, and in the presence of the Lord, I feel deep reverence for God. This reverence inspires me to pray more deeply and peacefully. I am truly peaceful here.

I pray that you find a beautiful place to worship and pray with reverence and peace.

In hope, Peggy

Note: Holy Family Chapel was constructed with a financial gift from a parishioner of St. Martha’s. I hope she is rejoicing in Heaven each time her beautiful chapel is used for Mass and Adoration.

Posted in Catholic Beliefs | Tagged , ,

Giving up my Freedom

There is a friend in my life that requires a lot of attention.  She doesn’t demand selfish attention, but the helpless, increasingly demanding attention of one suffering the effects of advancing dementia.  I am part of a small, beautiful “band of women” that daily help this friend with her most basic physical needs. 

How many of you out there are also managing difficult health situations in your own circle of family and friends?  I know you’re there, because I can name you.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I’m rather embarrassed to say this, but I have been struggling with just a little bit of resentment at each new demand and request made of us on behalf of this friend.  I mean, sometimes I think, “Again? Another thing to do?”  Seriously, I’m embarrassed to admit this.

(You may wonder why I admit it, if it’s so embarrassing? I’m getting to that.)

Recognizing that this attitude is neither good nor helpful to me or my friend, I’ve been having heart to hearts with the Lord about it.   Through prayer, I’ve come to realize that the more I am required to do (for this friend) that is not my choice, the less control I feel I have over my own time.

 I’m not in control, and I don’t like that.  That’s the ugly bottom line. I like to be helpful and volunteer, but only when I want to and when it’s convenient. 

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

If only life were that accommodating.

How many times are you called to care for someone, and the increasing demand takes its toll on your generous spirit? You love. You accept the responsibility. You want to be generous, and yet something nags at you. 

May I humbly suggest that your love and good sacrifice do not go unnoticed in the world. We recently had a young woman join our little “band of sisters.”  When she learned of all we were doing for our needy friend, she wanted to join us.  Our work was attractive to her and she WANTED to be a part of us.  Go figure. This was stunning encouragement to me, and helped me to change my perspective. Yes, responding to increasing demands appears to limit my freedom, but I can choose to freely give up my freedom for the sake of our Lord and his kingdom.

When our sacrifice is viewed as attractive, we can be pretty sure we are reflecting God’s love.  This is living out the faith. This is the “work” which is our witness in the world.

Photo by fotografierende on Pexels.com

To all of you who give up your freedom to respond to someone’s needs, I see your sacrifice. Your life is attractive.

“This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

John 13:35

In hope,

Peggy

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The History of the Catholic Church May Not Be What You Think

Do you know the real history of the Catholic Church? If you’re like me, you know the highlights, but if anyone challenges you with past faults and (ugh) corruption, you feel a bit unprepared to defend the faith.

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I have a really interesting book that I want to share with you! This book tells it like it is, setting straight wrong ideas perpetuated over the years, but straight shooting about corrupt practices that crept into church life throughout history. I was fascinated reading about Catholic life in the Middle Ages and the Reformation period. Even more interesting to me was the chapter on the Catholic Church in the New World and the Anti-Catholic sentiment in America, right from the start. Religious freedom? No, not if you were Catholic.

People of God: the history of Catholic Christianity [1] is easy to read, with short segments that highlight the culture of the time and the struggles to live the faith in daily life. (Don’t we all struggle to live our faith in this culture?) I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Read and defend the faith!

It’s easy to buy the updated version on Amazon!

In hope, Peggy

[1] Gilles, Anthony E. People of God: the History of Catholic Christianity. St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2000.

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The Lost Art of the Genuflection

I had so much fun thinking about this post. Granted, I was thinking about it right before Mass started, but, moving on…

I love watching people enter for Mass. One such day I just couldn’t suppress my amusement as kids AND adults maneuvered through funny contortions meant to be a genuflection. Didn’t we all learn this for our First Communion?

Okay, so in my bemusement I decided to give a little history and tutorial on how to genuflect.

Genuflect: Literally “to bend the knee.” It is a profession of dependence or helplessness, and humility. “By such posture of the body we show forth our humbleness of heart.” [1] Catholics often genuflect to show reverence to our Lord and to the altar. We adore and kneel “before the divine Love that became man in Jesus Christ.” [2]

Let me run through a couple of my favorite variations, as seen any given day at Mass.

The Leftie

The Leftie: Most popular variation. Genuflecting with the left knee down was actually used to pay honor to kings and emperors. The right knee down is reserved for God alone as a sign of worship. [3]

The Pop

The Pop: Halfway down and a little energetic pop up. Most often seen in children and most often accompanied by a half Sign of the Cross.

The Half Slide

The Half Slide. Similar to The Pop, halfway down,but instead of standing up afterward, hands go on the pew seat and slide directly in. Another variation seen in young children. Elizabeth (above) graciously demonstrated this.

The Right Way

The Right Way: Right knee to the floor while making a Sign of the Cross like you mean it! This is the correct form of the genuflection and the one we learned and practiced over and over again in second grade until it was right. Didn’t you?

And finally, for all of you with knee, hip, or back issues, a bow to our Lord and the altar is respectful, too. 😉

Way to go!

A huge thank you to my friend Chris with Two Eleven Photography and to her lovely family for helping me with this post.

In hope, Peggy

[1] https://www.catholicherald.com/faith/your_faith/which_knee_should_i_genuflect_on_/

[2]“485.” YOUCAT English: Youth Cathecism of the Catholic Church, Ignatius Press, 2011, p. 266.

[3] http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06423a.htm

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Notre Dame and Celebrating Holy Thursday

Today I’m minutes away from leaving for Mass. It’s Holy Thursday, the start of the Easter Triduum, and this Mass is a true celebration. We’re celebrating the Institution of the Eucharist, when Jesus broke bread with His disciples on the night before he died. Read Luke 22.

Holy Thursday 2019
Sts. Martha, Mary and Lazarus Catholic Church, Kingwood, Texas

I’ve recently come to understand so much more about this incredible gift of the Eucharist. Jesus, in His infinite love for us, gives His body to us. He offers His body to us. In response, we receive Him into our own body. Through the Eucharist, Jesus consummates his love for us, in the gift of his body to us. Our response is to receive him and to offer our love back to him.

This is the foundation of our faith, given to us by Jesus himself. Read John 6.

Yesterday I read a pastor”s “take” on the reason Notre Dame burned. His subtle suggestion was that if the Roman Catholic churches in France remain empty, then the churches were only good for timber (to burn.) I was offended, I assure you. My protective armour toward my beloved faith went up.

I don’t disagree with his assessment that churches are losing the faithful. They are. The question is why? The Holy Spirit has not left the church. The Sacraments and most especially the Eucharist have not left the church.

I think it’s hard to be Catholic. People want what they want, and when they disagree with what the church teaches, they leave.

Then there are those who leave for the dynamic pastor or cool music of the corner church. While I understand the enticement of this, I don’t understand how it is more important than receiving in my body the very Body of my Lord. I can’t get that anywhere else but through the Catholic Church.

I wonder what our church would look like if Catholics would stay and build up the Body of Christ as Catholics instead of leaving for other churches? We need their gifts and we lose so much when our brothers and sisters leave us. I invite you to come back to the Eucharist as fast as you can get here.

In hope,

Peggy

If you have an interest in revisiting your Catholic faith or learning what it is about, churches around the country generally have programs to address your questions after Easter. Contact your local church.

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Atrocities: Ash Wednesday Reflection

In my childhood home there was a bookshelf filled with encyclopedias, poetry books, and two photo journal books of the Normandy beaches, bombed cities, and concentration camps of WW II. The atrocities depicted in those pages were explicit, and my mom told me I shouldn’t look at them. But I did look. I wanted to know but couldn’t understand how that brutality could be allowed anywhere or for any reason. By looking at those pages, I felt (even at a young age) that I was showing respect for the victims by recognizing the injustice perpetrated on them and that I was sorry for them.

I would ask myself this question, “Would I have spoken up for them? Would I have gone underground, joined a resistance, or like Irena Sendler, smuggled children out of the ghettos in a wagon and saved them?” That question has defined my life actions, at least in part.

It’s Ash Wednesday and as I sat and prayed about what I’d “do” for Lent this year, I thought of the atrocities that our Lord Jesus endured during his trial and crucifixion. I thought of Veronica, who was bold enough to burst into a death march to offer a tiny bit of comfort to a beaten, condemned man.

The question I ask myself now is this, “Do I live my life with the compassionate boldness of Veronica?”

There are many atrocities happening today; abuse, human slave and sex slave trafficking, gang violence, abortion. I still want to know and can’t understand how we allow this for any reason.

Today I’m going to the altar to receive the sign of the cross in ashes on my forehead. The outward sign of my humanity will be my personal reminder of the injustices perpetrated on victims today. The decisions I make during Lent to “pray, fast and give alms” will reflect the deep respect and sorrow I have for these victims. I pray that this awareness informs and energizes my actions.

Mary at the Foot of the Cross
Altar Cross at the home of the Sisters of the Sagrada Corazon in Valldoreix, Spain Photo by Peggy Angelino

If you are looking for something to “do” this Lent, here is a Lenten reflection series that is available for daily emails as “The Best Lent Ever.”

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In hope, Peggy

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