Saints

St. Joseph the Worker, Pray for Us!

Today is the feast day of St. Joseph, foster father of Christ, who is renowned for his work ethic. It is also the official start of Pope Francis’s ministry as he celebrated his inaugural Mass today! As a member of St. Joseph’s Parish and a huge fan of people name Francis, this is a big day for me. I think it’s terribly appropriate that the two intersect because it’s time for our new Pope to really get to work! It’s time for the lot of us to get to work, really.

Then he saith to his disciples, The harvest indeed is great, but the labourers are few.                                             

–Matthew 9:37

If you don’t think the world is in desperate need of the Gospel, you haven’t been keeping up with the news. In the news, I see nothing but heartache, despair, animosity, and hopelessness. It’s time for us to spread a little hope and show the world what love actually is!

 

Prayer to St. Joseph the Workman402884_117115251769190_160324476_n

Composed by Pope St. Pius X

O Glorious St. Joseph, model of all those who are devoted to labor, obtain for me the grace to work conscientiously, putting the call of duty above my natural inclinations, to work with gratitude and joy, in a spirit of penance for the remission of my sins, considering it an honor to employ and develop by means of labor the gifts received from God, to work with order, peace, moderation and patience, without ever shrinking from weariness and difficulties, to work above all with purity of intention and detachment from self, having always death before my eyes and the account that I must render of time lost, of talents wasted, of good omitted, of vain complacency in success, so fatal to the work of God. All for Jesus, all through Mary, all after thine example, O Patriarch, St. Joseph. Such shall be my watch-word in life and in death.

Amen

Categories: Chasing After God, Saints, Year of Faith | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

A.L.L. Book Review: The Ultimate Saints Guide to the Immaculate Conception

When I bought Scott’s Kindle Fire for Christmas, I had a fair amount of $$$ in my shopping cart, which I suppose is what prompted Amazon to offer me 20$ off a yearly Prime subscription. In addition to free shipping and Amazon Instant Video, I receive one book each month to read for free on one of my Kindle devices from the Amazon Lending Library(A.L.L.). As of the date of this posting, this book is available for free to any Amazon Prime members with a Kindle device.

 

The Ultimate Saints Guide to the Immaculate Conception

by Dan Quinn & John Quinn

Back in September, I shared with great delight that my sister was starting RCIA classes! Unfortunately, a few weeks ago, Betsy advised me that she could not accept the Immaculate Conception. She is continuing RCIA classes for now (it goes without saying–please pray for her!) but will not be joining the Church at this time. I wasn’t sure how to approach the topic with her, so imagine my delight when I stumbled upon The Ultimate Saints Guide to the Immaculate Conception!

For those of us who are Protestant converts to the Catholic Church, our relationship with Mary can feel more like a mother-in-law relationship. It’s awkward and strange, and sometimes it just feels wrong. After all, we were raised to believe that veneration of Mary is sinful. The Immaculate Conception did not become dogma until 1854, which leads many people to believe that is a new theory propagated by the Catholic Church, but that couldn’t be further from the truth, as this book reveals.

 The Ultimate Saints Guide to the Immaculate Conception is really just a wonderful compilation of writings from Saints. The Quinn brothers begin by defining what the Immaculate Conception is (which far too many of us confuse with something else entirely), then telling the story of St. Joachim and St. Ann, taking from the revelations of St. Bridget of Sweden, St. Elizabeth of Shenau, Ven. Anne Catherine Emmerich, and Ven. Mary of Agreda.

Next up, a defense of the dogma of the Immaculate conception by St. Robert Bellarmine. St. Robert dishes up the usual fare: Mary declares that all generations will call her blessed, the woman clothed with the sun of God’s radiant grace can be no one else, and so forth. My favorite scriptural reference, of course, is the foreshadowing in Genesis 3:15:

“I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed, and she shall crush thy head.” 

It was, in fact, the Lady of Grace statue at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cathedral in Oklahoma City that I was gazing upon when I suddenly, completely out of the blue, understood the “whole Mary thing.” There she was, her foot on the serpent, crushing his head, and a light bulb went off. I had read books, prayed, and finally just resigned myself to uncertainty, but in that moment of quiet reflection, I just got it.

My favorite section by far is the writings of Church fathers on the Immaculate Conception. Going back to the first century, to St. Andrew, the Apostle, we have writings of Church fathers supporting the dogma that Mary was full of grace and therefore did not fall into sin. While the idea that Mary was withheld from sin from the moment of her conception is not universally acknowledged, there is evidence that although she was capable of sin, because of the grace given to her, she did not succumb to it.

I especially liked this quote:

“Purity is understood by the absence of what is contrary to it, and, therefore, a creature may be found, than which nothing can be more pure in created things, if it be defiled by no contagion of sin; and such was the purity of the blessed Virgin, who was exempt from original and actual sin. But she was beneath God, inasmuch as there was in her the power to commit sin.”

St. Thomas (8th Century Church Father)

The Quinn brothers also dive into the visions of St. Bernadette at Lourdes, and St. Catherine Laboure of the Miraculous Medal. The story of Lourdes is particularly important to me because that was the story that helped me to accept Mary as Mother and advocate, along with my light bulb moment. It’s very difficult to deny the events at Lourdes, and if the events are true, then what Mary said there was true. St. Bernadette was so poorly educated, and so sickly, but she was also so devout. I just find it difficult to doubt her story.

Overall, I think this is a marvelous little reference on the Immaculate Conception, especially for converts who need a little help with getting to know Mary a little better. As far as being just the thing I needed to convince Betsy….No. I’ve been there. She needs an AHA! moment, a light bulb experience. No one can contrive that for her. Arguing with her won’t change a thing (trust me, you don’t want to try). So, if you’re trying to convince a Protestant, this is a must-have tool, but there’s no magic bullet as far as I’m concerned. Of course, with all matters of faith, sometimes our hearts just have to find a quiet spot where they can sort it out for themselves.

Categories: Amazon Lending Library Reviews, Saints | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Repatronizing: What Happens to the Saint You Cast Aside?

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When I was going through RCIA 6 years ago, I was unable to attend classes because I had to work every Sunday. I had make-up sessions with the deacon who was leading the class and every Sunday, Scott brought home copies of the day’s lessons for me to look over.

I hate to default to my most over-used excuse, but I was busy! I was working as a supervisor at a call center and I hadn’t quite figured out the law of diminishing returns, so I put in entirely too much overtime. I’ve admitted before that I didn’t prepare myself properly for confirmation, but that in no way invalidates my confirmation. I just have to, you know, catch up every now and then.

So when it came time to choose a saint, I had a difficult time. Finding a patron is a horrible experience. You have to, to some extent, define yourself. The patron of nurses certainly won’t do for someone who faints at the sight of a syringe! So who am I?

I wasn’t sure. I picked St Theresa Benedicta of the Cross because, well,…I don’t know! There! I’ll say it! I just picked one! Go on and judge me if you like!

Years later, I was reading up on St Francis. I absolutely adore St Francis of Assisi. I have such a longing to live a simple life, to not be caught up in material things. So, I called my sponsor and asked him if I could change my patron saint.

At which point he scoffed at me for being such a dreadful Catholic and told me I should seek out the patron saint of indecisiveness. Hence the title of this blog, in which I seek to be a better Catholic.

I decided that St Francis would be my new patron anyway, scoffing or not. I was happy with that decision and promptly put a St Francis statue out on my front porch. When the wind knocked him over and decapitated him, I bought another. Recently, I knocked him over and his head went rolling off as well, but that’s really another story. St Francis made a wonderful patron for me, especially since I am an avid quilter and he is the patron of needleworkers! Perfect! If only I had taken the time to pick the correct patron in the first place.

That was years ago, and I’ve thought very little about the whole thing ever since. About a week ago, I decided to use Jennifer Fulwilers Saint Name Generator to pick a patron for the year, something I haven’t done before. I said a prayer, hit the button and…

St. Theresa Benedicta of the Cross.

StTBenedicta-231x300

Not again.

Categories: Chasing After God, Saints | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

The Saints are Stalking Me!

The Battle of Rebecca vs. Cigarettes continues…

So. I’m sure you’re wondering how I’m doing with smoking. This was never intended to be a blog about quitting smoking, but God works in mysterious ways. I started on the nicotine patch Sunday. It was my husband, Scott’s idea to do so. We had a full day ahead of us, going out of town to visit my family for a birthday party and then back in town just in time for a birthday party with his family. I knew Sunday was going to be rough but dear Scottie refused to delay another day. He put on his patch. I put on mine. Let the suffering begin.

I’m really proud of the fact that I only had 8 cigarettes that day. It was an incredibly stressful day. It was the wrong day to even try to reduce, much less quit.  Good gravy, if you’d offered me a crack pipe, I probably would’ve smoked it.

Monday was better. I didn’t smoke, but I felt fluish and shaky all day. Tuesday was no better. Wednesday, I decided the patch wasn’t doing me any good so I didn’t put it on.

Wednesday was a very bad day.

This is where the saints come in. Oddly literally.

Shortly after I began my quest to grow closer to God, I became more and more convinced I needed to simplify my life. When I look back at my little one bedroom apartment I had when I was single, it seems unreal to me that Scott and I have somehow managed to fill a 3 bedroom house to the brim. I’ve made a few attempts to “de-hoard” the house, but we’ve still got a long way to go. Right along those same lines, we’ve been trying to save money for our upcoming trip to Hawaii, which has brought to light how wasteful we are with our money.

As I was digging through my wallet, searching for cash one day, I found something I forgot I had: A prayer card for St. Clare! It was like a little confirmation: “Yes, you’re on the right track. Simplify, cast aside your quest for earthly things and continue to chase after God!” A few days later, after countless hours of shopping and searching, I decided not to buy a new purse, but to get an old one out of the closet instead. I have about 4 or 5 purses altogether, so buying another would be wasteful. I picked a purse out of the closet stash and what did I find inside? A St. Francis prayer card. “The right track indeed.”

Stalking you? Beloved, we went down this road a loooong time before you ever got on it!

The day of Scott’s Great Aunt’s funeral, I sat down to watch the daily mass that evening, but that day’s mass wasn’t available, so I watched the previous day’s mass. This is unusual for me to do. For some reason, I’ve very particular about watching today’s mass or doing without. The previous day’s mass was the memorial of St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe, whom I had never heard of before. Yes, I’m a horrible Catholic who doesn’t know my saints. Well, since meeting him, I can’t seem to shake the guy.

I keep seeing him mentioned on blogs, Scott watched a documentary about him (right after I originally heard his story, before I blogged about it or said anything to anyone), my sister-in-law mentioned him the other day. Suddenly, the guy is everywhere!

Then came Wednesday.

A Brief History of Quitting

Let me give you just a little bit more back story. I’ve quit smoking before, but I think the longest I ever went without was just shy of a month. Maybe right at a month. I’ve used reduction a few times, but never actually quit after reducing cigarettes. The nicotine patch has been the only thing that ever got me through a full day. A few years ago, I was in the hospital for 4 days, and wasn’t able to smoke, but most of the time, they had me on a nicotine patch, plus, I’m sure the saline drip helped out. (I love a saline drip! They’re so refreshing!) Last Saturday, I did make it through the workday, but I smoked before I left for work and after I got home.

So, in the 12 years since I started smoking, I’ve never had to go even a full day without some sort of nicotine. I was not prepared for the harsh jolt of nicotine exiting my body.

Wednesday: The Day of Doom

By the time I arrived at work on Wednesday, it had already been about 12 hours since I had removed my nicotine patch the day before. It wasn’t long before I realized that the patch had been doing quite a bit of good, actually. I was visibly rattled, I kept jumping up and walking around, my chest became tight, it was hard to breathe, my hands were shaking. I went back to the ladies room at regular intervals to pray a decade on the rosary, offering up my little suffering for those suffering from major drug withdrawals. Despite the poor circulation in my leg, focusing on that pain hasn’t motivated me nearly as much as focusing on the pain someone else is going through from giving up heroin or crack or meth.

At lunch, something just broke inside me. I was exhausted from fighting the cigarette cravings. My blood felt as if it were boiling in my veins. I knelt down in the ladies room floor, fumbling with my rosary. I need help. Help! I grabbed my phone and hit search button. “Patron saint drug addiction,” I typed. My jaw dropped when I looked at the first page of results.

“Wh-what?” I asked. There he was again! I actually went back and forth for a minute or two (you’ve seen the name of this blog, right?) before my soul cried out “St. Maximilian Kolbe! Pray for us!!!” In my heart, I gathered those suffering from drug addiction around me and threw myself into my Aves, as I begged St. Maximilian to kneel with me. I burst into tears, ragged from exhaustion. I poured my heart out, but when the 10 Aves were done, there was peace.

Help along the way.

Scott and I went to the Catholic book store the next day and I picked up a St. Maximilian prayer card and a medal. I told Scott about what happened and what he had to say took me by surprise.

Scott: Maybe he’s trying to help you.

Me: Yeah. With quitting smoking.

Scott: That, too. But maybe he’s trying to help you with your blog.

Me: *Puzzled little face.*

Scott: Didn’t you read up on him? He’s the patron of journalists. He did a newsletter and a magazine and had all sorts of printing presses and equipment….

Well, obviously my blog needs all the help it can get, as can my poor abused lungs. However, I learned an additional lesson. The next time I see a saint is stalking me, I’m going to find out everything about them so that I may be able to ascertain why they are stalking me. Naturally, they’re trying to help. However, if I know what they’re trying to help me with, perhaps that can save tears later.

Categories: Chasing After God, Everything Else, Saints | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

St. Clare of Assisi

As the army of Frederick II approached San Damiano, home of the Order of Poor Ladies, I’m sure the air was filled with terror. The soldiers intended to raid the convent–to what end? These women had no treasures, but I can imagine their worst fears. As they came near, the nuns carried their leader, frail and sickly, out to the walls of the convent where she placed the Sacrament of the Eucharist on the wall. “O Lord, protect these Sisters whom I cannot protect now,” she prayed. Suddenly, the soldiers became frightened and changed course. The Poor Ladies of San Damiano were safe.

St. Clare of Assisi (July 16, 1194 – August 11, 1253) was one of the first followers of St. Francis of Assisi. Her father had arranged for her marriage when she was 15, but at 18, she chose to go against his wishes to create a new order of nuns, based on the principles of poverty Francis taught. The Order of Poor Ladies, known later as the Poor Clares, ate no meat, wore no shoes, performed manual labor and depended on donations for their needs. Their order was cloistered at San Damiano and Clare herself never left the walls of the convent. Clare was ill for most of her life, but still cared for and supported her sisters as well as Francis and his friars. When Francis fell ill, Clare tended to him until he died.

One Christmas Eve, Clare was too sick to go to mass. As she lay in bed, she was able to see the mass on the wall of her room. For this, she is the patron of television. Mother Angelica, founder of EWTN, is of the order of the Poor Clares.

Patron of eye disorders and television.

Read more about St. Clare here.

Prayer to St. Clare

God of mercy, 

You inspired Saint Clare with the love of poverty.
By the help of her prayers
may we follow Christ in poverty of spirit
and come to the joyful vision of Your glory
in the Kingdom of heaven.
We ask this through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.

Amen.

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