Archives for October 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday (set #114)

7 Quick Takes Friday

This week: The latest issue of New Evangelists Monthly is ready and calling you. In Christ Alone, beautifully sung in 7 parts by one guy. Gratitude and happiness are scientifically related. Girl Scouts, again. Families of fallen heroes forced to suffer for political interests. The actual individual and family cost of ObamaCare beginning to be felt. The Green Jobs Answer Man teaches us about green energy.

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New Evangelists Monthly

Issue #10, October 2013, of New Evangelists Monthly is ready for your enjoyment! Scores of faithful Catholic bloggers have contributed their very best pieces from September. This month brought these great topics: freemasonry, bilocation, world-weary, expectations, attraction, traditions, great books, cellarer, nothing new, mustard seeds, extremes, demons, be crazy, uncage, envy, humble heart, poor, fast & pray, bloggers, Mary, safeguard, flat tire, fertility, modesty, read anew, HS seminary, 50M names, listening, beauty, reverence, canons, stations, not mocked, the Word, organizing, devotionals, the devil, intercessory, pilgrimage, exceptionalism, uBaby, love, 3+2, converts, guardian angel, life 2013, Atchison, Pope Francis, facepalms, grief, contraception, St. Michael, O Jesu, truth, elephant, peace, really saying, immigrants, trust God, His will, messiness, accountability, sex and society, inspiration, backstory, spiritual dryness, infertility, deep water, melody of Christ, atheists, level head, organ donation, stewardship, sacrilegious, good wife, best movies, anniversary, blessed, God’s reflection, heresy culture, leaving BSA and SSP.

This monthly “meta-magazine” showcases faithful Catholicism from theology to family life and “everything in between.” Enjoy it now at

Read Now

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In Christ Alone is beautifully sung in 7 part harmony by David Wesley:

David has more of these (see his YouTube channel). He is not alone in making them…   it’s a genre (for example, see also Sam Robson, Julien Neel and many others).

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Showing gratitude to other people increases happiness. Want lasting, deep happiness? Give thanks to the one who gave you everything, including the your next breath and the next beat of your heart.

Spotted by Sherry Antonetti

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Girl Scouts Tears

Bad and good news, first the bad. The Girl Scouts USA leadership continues their long-running campaign promoting anti-life and anti-family positions. The good news according to a recent AP article is their membership is in an equally long-running decline.

I have written about the sad state of GSUSA in my (now updated) 2011 Loss of innocence piece. If you are interesting in scouting as the Girl Scouts once were, look no further than the American Heritage Girls.

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Military Coffins

This is a low blow. The Obama administration has been purposefully inflicting as much pain as possible upon the American public as possible in the hope that resulting anger will be directed at political opponents. Those efforts are already infamous, including threatening military priests with ARREST for the celebration of Mass.

Now we learn that families of fallen troops are being punished in their most difficult hour. Funds that normally go to them are being BLOCKED. This is money they need for funeral costs and to meet the casket of their loved one when it arrives at Dover AFB. Don’t think for one moment that his shameful act is out of the administration’s control.

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At least the ObamaCare roll-out has continued. This allows millions of Americans to finally afford health insurance, particularly the young people who often must forgo it. For example:

Obamacare Young Adult Costs

Families are “helped” too. According to a joint House-Senate report, their annual premiums will rise by $7,186. For more info, see this report. Maybe this has not worked out as promised, but Georgetown University student Sandra Fluke still gets her free condoms.

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Thank goodness for the millions of new, green jobs that will help us pay for our new healthcare costs while simultaneously saving the environment. Andrew Klavan investigates:

Some random thoughts or bits of information are worthy of sharing but don’t warrant their own full post. This idea was started by Jennifer Fulwiler at Conversion Diary to address this blogging need. So, some Fridays I too participate when I have accumulated 7 worthy items. Thank you Jen for hosting this project!

New Evangelists Monthly – October 2013, Issue #10

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Baltimore Catechism: on prayer

Baltimore Catechism

Lesson 28

303 Q. Is there any other means of obtaining God’s grace than the Sacraments?
A. There is another means of obtaining God’s grace, and it is prayer.

304 Q. What is prayer?
A. Prayer is the lifting up of our minds and hearts to God to adore Him, to thank Him for His benefits, to ask His forgiveness, and to beg of Him all the graces we need whether for soul or body.

“Hearts,” because the mere lifting up of the mind would not be prayer. One who blasphemes Him might also lift up his mind. We lift up the mind to know God and the heart to love Him, and in so doing we serve Him – the three things for which we were created. If we do not think of God we do not pray. A parrot might be taught to say the “Our Father,” but it could never pray, because it has no mind to lift up. A phonograph can be made to say the prayers, but not to pray, for it has neither mind nor heart. So praying does not depend upon the words we say, but upon the way in which we say them. Indeed the best prayer, called meditation, is made when we do not speak at all, but simply think of God; of His goodness to us; of our sins against Him; of Hell, Purgatory, Heaven, death, judgment, of the end for which we were created, etc. This is the kind of prayer that priests and religious use most frequently. As you might like to meditate – for all who know how may meditate – let me explain to you the method. First you try to remember that you are in the presence of God. Then you take some subject, say the Crucifixion, to think about. You try to make a picture of the scene in your own mind. You see Our Lord on the Cross; two thieves, one on each side of Him, the one praying to Our Lord and the other cursing Him. You see the multitude of His enemies mocking Him. Over at some distance you behold our Blessed Mother standing sorrowful with St. John and Mary Magdalen. Then you ask yourself – for you must imagine yourself there – to which side would you go. Over to our Blessed Mother to try and console her, or over to the enemies to help them to mock? Then you think how sin was the cause of all this suffering, and how often you yourself have sinned; how you have many a time gone over to the crowd and left the Blessed Mother. These thoughts will make you sorry for your sins, and you will form the good resolution never to sin again. You will thank God for these good thoughts and this resolution, and your meditation is ended. You can spend fifteen minutes, or longer if you wish, in such a meditation. The Crucifixion is only one of the many subjects you may select for meditation. You could take any part of the “Our Father,” “Hail Mary,” or “Creed,” and even the questions in your Catechism. Mental prayer, therefore, is the best, because in it we must think; we must pay attention to what we are doing, and lift up our minds and hearts to God; while in vocal prayer – that is, the prayer we say aloud – we may repeat the words from pure habit, without any attention or lifting up of the mind or heart.

305 Q. Is prayer necessary to salvation?
A. Prayer is necessary to salvation, and without it no one having the use of reason can be saved.

We mean here those who never pray during their whole lives, and not those who sometimes neglect their prayers through a kind of forgetfulness.

306 Q. At what particular times should we pray?
A. We should pray particularly on Sundays and holy days, every morning and night, in all dangers, temptations, and afflictions.

“Sundays and holy days,” because these are special days set apart by the Church for the worship of God. In the “morning” we ask God’s grace that we may not sin during the day. At “night” we thank Him for all the benefits received during the day, and also that we may be protected while asleep from every danger and accident. We should never, if possible, go to sleep in mortal sin; and if we have the misfortune to be in that state, we should make as perfect an act of contrition as we can, and promise to go to confession as soon as possible. So many accidents happen that we are never safe, even in good health; fires, earthquakes, floods, lightning, etc., might take us off at any moment. If you saw a man hanging by a very slender thread over a great precipice where he would surely be dashed to pieces if the thread broke, and if you saw him thus risking his life willfully and without necessity, you would pronounce him the greatest fool in the world. One who commits sin is a greater fool. He suspends himself, as I have told you once before, over an abyss of eternal torments on the slender thread of his own life, that may break at any moment. Do we tempt God and do to Him what we dare not to do to our fellowman because He is so merciful? Let us be careful. He is as just as He is merciful, and some sin will be our last, and then He will cut the thread of life and allow us to fall into an eternity of sufferings. “Dangers,” whether of soul or body. “Afflictions,” sufferings or misfortunes of any kind; such as loss of health, death in the family, etc.

*307 Q. How should we pray?
A. We should pray: first, with attention; second, with a sense of our own helplessness and dependence upon God; third, with a great desire for the graces we beg of God; fourth, with trust in God’s goodness; fifth, with perseverance.

“Attention,” thinking of what we are going to do. Before praying we should think for a moment what prayer is. In it we are about to address Almighty God, our Creator, and we are going to ask Him for something – and what is the particular thing we need and seek for? No one would think of going to a store without first considering what he wanted to buy. He would make, too, all the necessary preparations for getting it. He would find out how much he wanted, and what it would cost, and bring with him sufficient money. He would never think of going in and telling the storekeeper to give him anything. Now it is the same in prayer. When we have thought of what we want of God, from whom we can obtain it, and of the reasons why we need it and why God might be pleased to grant it, we can then kneel down and pray for it. We should pray to God just as a child begs favors from its parents. We should talk to Him in our own simple words, and tell Him the reasons why we ask and why we think He should grant our request. We should, however, be humble and patient in all our prayers. God does not owe us anything, and whatever He gives is a free gift. We should not always read prayers at Almighty God. If you wanted anything very badly from a friend, you would know how to ask for it. You would never ask another to write out your request on paper, and then go and read it to your friend. Now, that is just what we do when we read the prayers that somebody else has written in a prayerbook. Try, therefore, to pray with your own prayers. Of course when the Church gives you certain prayers to say – as it does to its priests in the divine office – or recommends to you such prayers as the “Our Father,” “Hail Mary,” and “Creed,” you should say them in preference to your own, because then the Church adds its petition to yours, and God is more likely to grant such prayers. I mean, therefore, that we should not always pray from prayerbooks, and hurry through the “Our Father” that we may give more time to some printed prayer that pleases us. Our prayer should be a conversation with God. We should, after speaking to Him, listen to what He has to say to us, by our conscience, good thoughts, etc.

I must warn you against some prayers that have been circulated by impostors for the purpose of making money. They pretend that these prayers were found in some remarkable place or manner; that those who carry them or say them will have most wonderful advantages – they will never meet with accident; they will be warned of their death; they will go directly to Heaven after death, etc. If there were any such wonderful prayers the Church would surely know of them and commend them to its children. When you find any prayers of the kind I mention, bring them to the priest and ask his opinion before you use them yourself or give them to others. Never buy prayers or articles said to be blessed from persons unknown to you. Persons selling such things are frequently impostors, who by suave manners and pious speeches unfortunately find Catholics who believe them. These persons – sometimes not Catholics themselves, or at least very bad ones – laugh at the superstition and foolish practices of Catholics who believe everything they hear about pious books, prayers, or articles.

In the early ages of the Church, when the enemies of Christ found that they could not refute His teaching, they began to circulate foolish doctrines, pretending that they were taught by Christ, and thus they hoped to bring ridicule upon Christianity. So also in our time many things are circulated as the teaching of the Catholic Church by the enemies of the Church, in hopes that by these falsehoods and foolish doctrines they may bring disgrace and ridicule upon the true religion. Be on your guard against all impostors, remembering it is a safe rule never to buy a religious article from or give money to persons going about from door to door. If you have anything to give in alms, give it to some charitable institution or society connected with the Church, or put it in the poor-box, and then you will be sure it will do the good you intend. Remember, too, that all the religious articles carried about for sale do not come from Rome or the Holy Land, and you are deceived if you think so, notwithstanding the assurance of their owners.

“A trust” – with full confidence that God will grant our petitions if we really need or deserve what we pray for. It is a fault with a great many to pray without the belief that their prayers will be answered. We should pray with such faith and confidence that we would really be disappointed if our prayer was not granted. Once when Our Lord was going about doing good, a poor woman who had been suffering for twelve years with a disease, and who, wishing to be healed, had uselessly spent all her money in seeking medical aid, came to follow Him. (Mark 5:25). She did not ask Him to cure her, but said within herself, “If I can but touch the hem of His garment I know I shall be healed.” So she made her way through the throng and followed Our Lord till she could touch His garment without being seen. She succeeded in accomplishing her wishes, touched His garment, and was instantly cured. Our Lord knew her desires and what she had done, and turning around told the people, praising her great faith and confidence, on account of which He had healed her. Such also should be our confidence and trust when we pray to God for our needs.

“Perseverance.” We should continue to pray though God does not grant our request. Have you ever noticed a little child begging favors from its mother? See its persistence! Though often refused, it will return again and again with the same request, till the mother, weary of its importunity, finally grants what it asks.

St. Monica prayed seventeen years for the conversion of her son St. Augustine. St. Augustine’s father was a pagan, and Monica, his wife, prayed seventeen years for his conversion, and he became a Christian. Just about that time her son Augustine, who was attending school, fell in with bad companions and became a great sinner. She prayed seventeen years more for him, and he reformed, became a great saint and learned bishop in the Church. See, then, the result of thirty-four years’ prayer: Monica herself became a saint, her son became a saint, and her husband died a Christian. If St. Monica had ceased praying after ten years, Augustine might not have reformed. We never know when God is about to grant our petition, and we may cease to pray just when another appeal would obtain the object of our prayer. So we should continue to pray till God is pleased to grant our request. Some say their prayers are not heard when they mean to say their prayers are not granted; for God always hears us. But why does He not always grant our request? There are many reasons: (1) We may not pray in the proper manner, namely, with attention, reverence, humility, patience, and perseverance; (2) We may ask for things that God foresees will not be for our spiritual good. This is true even for things that seem good to us, such as the removal of an affliction, temptation, or the like. It often happens that God shows us His greatest mercy in not granting our prayers. Suppose, for example, a father held in his hand a bright and beautiful but very sharp instrument, for which his child continually asked. Do you believe the father would give it if he loved the child? Certainly not. The child thinks, no doubt, it would be benefitted by the possession of the instrument, but the father sees the danger. As God is our loving Father, He acts with us in the same manner. (3) Our prayers are not granted sometimes that we may learn to pray with proper dispositions, and God withholds what He intends finally to give, that we may persevere in prayer and have greater merit. Have you ever observed a mother teaching her child to walk? What does she do? She goes at some distance from the child and holds out an object that she knows will be pleasing to it, and thus tempts it to walk to her. When the child draws near she moves still farther away, and keeps it walking for some time before giving the object. This she does, not through unwillingness to give the article, but in order to teach the child to walk, for she loves to see its efforts. When it falls, she lifts it up and makes it try again. So, too, God teaches us to pray; and though He loves us, He withholds His gifts, that we may pray the longer, and thereby afford Him greater pleasure.

308 Q. Which are the prayers most recommended to us?
A. The prayers most recommended to us are the Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary, the Apostles’ Creed, the Confiteor, and the Acts of Faith, Hope, Love, and Contrition.

309 Q. Are prayers said with distractions of any avail?
A. Prayers said with willful distractions are of no avail.

“Distraction” – that is, when we willingly and knowingly think of something else while saying our prayers. It would be better not to pray than to pray with disrespect. If there is any time at which we cannot pray well, we should postpone our prayer: for God does not require us to say our prayers just at a particular time; but when we do pray, He requires us to pray with reverence and respect. We would pray well always if we reflected on the great privilege we enjoy in being allowed to pray.

Convert Spotlight: Joel Garrison

Convert Spotlight

Joel Garrison (Tim Roufa IRL) is a revert. That is, a “cradle Catholic” who had fallen away from the faith and has now returned. Technically, reverts are not converts. Technically, I am not either as I was validly baptized although not Catholic. I lump us all together because technicalities aside, all of these groups share similar characteristics. That is, separation from the true Church and joining / returning to find she really does embody the fullness of Christianity.

There is almost a script that many reverts follow. It goes something like this: baptized Catholic as an infant, attended Catholic schools, religious ed, Mass. Received first communion and was confirmed. Graduated high school and went to a Catholic college. Stopped going to Mass. Fell away from the Church and took a different path either as a “none” or as a Protestant. Life changes happen (e.g. marriage, children or death of a loved one) and the Church of their childhood is rediscovered. They are amazed to find a richness, depth and truth that – despite all that Catholic “education” – was never learned.

While that is my general observation and individual cases vary, FWIW I draw some conclusions: (1) catechesis of our children is terrible, starting with their parents who always have the primary responsibility to teach the faith and (2) many supposedly Catholic colleges are radically secular institutions with only a shallow Catholic veneer where we unwittingly send our kids to loose their faith. This is a big topic for another time, but if you have children approaching college age, educate yourself starting with the Newman Guide to choosing a genuine Catholic college.

Joel (sorry, stepping now off my soapbox and regrouping) follows the “script” with an interesting twist. That is, he was far more serious about his faith while growing up. He thought about the priesthood and once won a essay contest on “what the Eucharist means to me.” Joel rejoins the script in college (state colleges in his case), that is — slowly falling away. He later met, fell in love and married a “non-denominational” spending years in that ecclesiastical community. Inconsistencies eventually raised concerns for them both and led them to search for the true Church.

Let’s jump into Joel and Jamie’s (his wife) story at that point:

I don’t think I can ever fully and accurately convey to you how anti-catholic my wife truly was, but this strange turn of events can only be attributed to the Holy Spirit moving her. My prayers became even more fervent. It was clear to me that God was leading her somewhere, down a road that neither of us ever expected to travel, and one which I never thought I’d see again.

Her investigation into Orthodoxy lead her to looking into Catholicism. In Catholicism, she found the fullness of all of those teachings she found lacking in other faiths. Of course, she kept most of this to herself as she studied privately. Outwardly, she was becoming more and more distraught and resolute in her decision to not go to church. She would say, “there’s no church out there that teaches all truth. The only one that even comes close is the Catholic Church, and I am not going to be Catholic.”

I began to study on my own, first orthodoxy and then Catholicism. I read anti-catholic sources and found, to my surprise, the same intellectual dishonesty I had seen years earlier in the “grape juice” pamphlet. I seriously studied the accusations leveled against the “unbiblical” Catholic Church. To my surprise, I found the answers to all of my questions, and finally, after so many years, I learned what the “fullness of the faith” truly meant. I prayed and prayed and prayed that my wife would come to the same conclusions, but I did not want to influence her choice. This was a journey she needed to make on her own in order for it to mean anything.

In the meantime, Jamie continued with her studies independently of me. One day, she opened the door. “Oh,” she said, “if you only knew how close I was to becoming Catholic, if it just wasn’t for the Pope!? Having done a lot of research on my own, I asked her if she would be willing to study a verse for me. She agreed. I opened my Bible to Matthew 16:16-20. I asked her to read it to herself and tell me who the rock was, and what she thought it meant to be given the power to bind and to loose.

Coming Home

During this time, I decided to go to Mass for the first time in over 10 years. I asked my wife if she minded if I took the children with me. She agreed, but she stayed home, not wanting to make a commitment to anything yet and not wanting to do anything remotely Catholic until she had spoken to her parents to let them know her decision. She respected them deeply and wanted to let them know where she stood before she moved ahead in her journey.

As we drove to the church, I prepared my kids. They had never seen anything like a liturgical worship service. The preacher at our former church wore a shirt and tie and we all called him by his first name. There had been no opening procession, no crucifix, no creed and no prayer responses.

I let them know that this church would be weird to them, but that if they had any questions, to ask me and I would do my best to answer them. During Mass, I was amazed that I still remembered the responses and was struck by how powerful and beautiful the liturgy was. The young priest that was celebrating Mass showed a true love for his ministry and delivered a powerful sermon. I felt, after so many years, that this was what it was to truly worship God. It was, to put it simply, an amazing and life-changing experience.

Immediately after Mass, as my children and I walked outside, I prepared myself for the questions I knew were sure to come: “Why was the preacher wearing a dress? Why were all the people talking together? Why was the preacher holding up that round thing? What’s up with the bells and the chanting?”

Amazing Grace

Instead, only my daughter, the little girl who saved my life, spoke. She looked up at me with her gorgeous little eyes and said, simply, “I like this church. That just felt so…   right.” So simple yet so articulate, my sweet little princess had summarized my newly restored faith.

As we exited the church, I saw Father Mike Foley, the pastor of the church. Fr. Mike had known my family since we moved to Florida 25 years prior. Just a year before, he had flown to Pennsylvania to preside over my brother’s wedding, which had been the first and only time I had seen him in 10 years until that fateful day. He was standing all alone, which was unusual because Fr. Mike typically drew a crowd whenever he was around. It was as if he was waiting for me, even though he had no way of knowing I would be there and no reason to expect I would ever step foot on the grounds again.

As soon as he saw me, he opened his arms like the good shepherd he is and offered a hug. I cried and told him I wanted to come home. I made an appointment with him for later in the week, at which time I made my confession and he welcomed me back to the church that Jesus founded. That next Sunday, I received the Eucharist for the first time in over 10 years, and I have not been the same, inside or out, since.

Jamie’s comments strike a chord with many of us converts. While searching for the Church, we look everywhere. We don’t know where we will find it but do “know” it isn’t Catholicism. Of that we are certain. When it turns out to be the one place we were sure it could not possibly be, we never quite get over the surprise and how blessed we are to be led here by the Holy Spirit – despite our best attempts to block Him.

Joel’s complete story is on his blog: Reasonable Belief. Read it at A Reversion Story.