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It's time for our new challenge! I spent some time going through the month of July looking for a basic theme but kept coming up short. There are so many feast days of such incredible saints like St. Ignatious, St. Mary Magdalene, St. Bonaventure, St. Kateri Tekakwitha, St. Veronica, St. Maria Goretti, St. Thomas More...and the list goes on!
So, after much deliberation, we've decided to make this summer month's challenge based on all of these incredible saints. Considering that there are so many to choose from, one could easily do a challenge every week, making it simple to get those creative juices flowing! We can't wait to see what you've created!
Please don't forget to take a picture and send it in with our submission form. We can't wait to see it!
Lately it has become more and more difficult to listen to the events going on in the world around us. Sadly, there are times when I even turn my head because I just can't take hearing another word or seeing another image. Why is this??
I've spent some time wondering why I struggle with this so deeply, and I believe that some explanations have finally begun to surface. And, aware that I am not the only one combatting this issue, I thought I would share some of my personal revelations in the hope that perhaps they may provide a sense of solidarity in thought and prayer.
Perhaps first and foremost, I find that the biggest obstacle for me is the awareness that so much of the pain, suffering, and misery that occurs is so unnecessary. In case you are wondering how I could feel I have the right to make such a comment, I believe it is because I sadly join the ranks of those who have been there, those who have experienced these particular kinds of suffering - the kinds that occurred because of our connection with sin.
I admit that I happen to hold a bit of a checkered past, and not in a good way. I hurt people and let them hurt me. I fell face-first into the culture of darkness and understand well its draw.
However, I also now understand something that goes far deeper: the needless and completely unnecessary pain and misery that exists in this culture. This pain that I am referring to would not be considered redemptive per say, although Jesus has the power to make it so if we, on our part, were to actually offer up this suffering. The kind of misery that I refer to is that which is the direct result of sin.
Yes, I recognize that technically all suffering is the result of sin. But I'm not referring to the suffering that occurs so directly due to the sin of our first parents, like sickness and death for example. What I am pointing out is the suffering that is more recent, more acute, as a result of the act of sin, the environment of sin, and being surrounded by a climate of brokenness that filters in its dillusion mostly sadness and heartache.
And I think that this is where my problem begins. My heart aches for these people - my people. I long to reach them and show them that there is another way.
It is so easy for us to get angry and denounce those that we hear about on TV and cyberspace, especially in our current political climate. Thoughts of "Are they crazy? Can't they see what they are doing? They claim to be Christian or, at the very least, American, but their actions are horrific and prove otherwise" can't help but pass through our minds. And this is the cruz: in a way they are crazy. But not necessarily crazy in its immediate interpretation. Their hearts have been crazed with a sickness of dillusion that the devil has done well to deceive. He is the master at it, and without exposure and a full dousing of extraordinary grace, these people are lost to it. Many of them, if not most, have no clue that there is even another way. And, if they have heard of any, they believe that we are the ones suffering from a dillusion. How could anyone find happiness in something or someone that can't be seen and demands so much?
Likewise, if they are tempted to believe at all, this knowledge would demand change, and their already hardened hearts either confound them from figuring out where to begin, or convince them that change would be impossible.
I have mentioned before that I have been attempting to spend more time in getting to know the Holy Spirit in a more intimate way. Astounding things have happened in my life since I have begun doing this, with one in particular that directly affects this topic. As I spend time with the Holy Spirit as I would a friend, I have several times been completely filled with an intense love for those who do not know Him. The Holy Spirit has revealed in astonishing clarity the depth of His love for those who suffer needlessly. When I experience this, I long to run out and tell everyone I meet about this boundless, unconditional Love - yes - Love with a capital L. I want to run to the city streets and hug every soul I see in the hopes that each hug would somehow communicate even a small drop of this Love, because it would be all they would ever need.
I know...for some of you I may have just appeared to go off of the deep end. When I was younger (or maybe even a few years ago), I might have felt concern or doubt in hearing such words myself.
However, there are really no words to actually explain what happens when one experiences the Holy Spirit in like ways. I can say that I do understand Pentecost more profoundly now. Leaving the room where they had been hiding, the Apostles were compelled to rush through the streets, speaking the truth as the Holy Spirit prompted them. No longer were they confined by their fears. The result? Thousands were converted, starting an avalanche of conversions that would continue to present day.
The Trinity is in love with each of us. We often experience and discover the love of the God the Father. We hear about the indescribable love of Jesus Christ the Son. And we have been told about the boundless love of the Holy Spirit that we have experienced through the Sacraments. Each of these realities of love are considered separately on a regular basis.
But, I propose a new reflection for some: Imagine being loved to such an unfathomable degree by three Persons! Have we really spent time thinking about it in this way? I know that I haven't.
And I have been missing out all of these years.
Such reflection may be almost impossible to grasp, but if we were to even understand it minutely we should be greatly comforted.
May the Love of the Trinity be made known to each of us. May it inspire us to believe that change is possible and needless suffering can be eased. May our lives that bear the mark of the Holy Spirit be not afraid to proclaim His name to the rooftops, prompting an avalanche that will touch every soul.
And may the Holy Spirit rush in an avalanche over this battle-torn world, filling every crevice with His healing and exhilarating promise of new life!
Sooo....summer is here and in full swing! (This mom says Yay!!) Although I am still waiting for it to calm down a bit, I know that there are moments when we may be looking for other ideas and things to keep the kids busy during those down times or rainy days. At one of our reader's suggestions, we've decided to put up a Lego and Craft Challenge up for the summer. This year we have decided to change it up a bit and put our summer challenges on a monthly schedule with a broader idea base that can inspire different takes throughout the month.
So here is this month's theme:
June - a month for Popes!!
The feast days for several popes occur this month, including the feast of St. Peter, our first Pope! Make a creation that celebrates any of our blessed popes who have sat upon the seat of Peter.
We would love to see some of your creations on this theme! :)
Feel free to make a Lego creation, sand castle sculpture, painting or anything that tickles your artistic fancy.
And, as always, we'd LOVE it if you would take a quick picture and upload it to our Catholic Challenge Zone above.
The possibilities are endless. God bless your creative juices as you praise Him through your works!
The love that St. John Paul the Great had for teens and youth was no secret. He understood all too well that the success of the Church and bringing the Good News to the world lies with them. But his love for them went even deeper than bringing Christ to the future human race. He sincerely and deeply desired each child and teen to experience the joy that only Christ can give - one that, if experienced authentically, can wipe away even the darkest sorrow on this earth. This great Pope knew this deep joy and was living proof that it is possible and even expected to attain.
So, when Autotunes created this cover song, my affinity for it was instant! I LOVED how they literally tuned the Pope's words, spoken by himself, to fit the song phrases. The song stuck with me the second I heard it! In fact, it is because I heard my two daughters singing it to themselves today that I realized that I should put this out on a blog post. I HIGHLY recommend playing it for your teens and youth. They will come away with a glimpse of the great love he has for them and will remember verbatim some of his famous speech phrases.
It's an awesome win-win!
Hope you enjoy it; but be warned that it will likely not leave your head for the next week!
We love getting comments on things here at the blog or on our YouTube channel! We had a great comment from a teacher who shared her success in using the Sacrament Song in her classroom, requesting that the lyrics be available. We completely agree, so here is a PDF version of the lyrics.
Feel free to download the lyrics by clicking on the image above, but keep in mind that the copyright is pending. :)
God bless your Saturday!!
Did you ever wonder how often things actually go as planned? I know that God allows this to increase our reliance on Him, although when things get repeatedly in the way it becomes necessary to discern if we are getting in the way of God's plan or the evil one is really unhappy with what we are doing.
This has certainly been the case with this video! Forced to make this discernment, we've decided that although the evil one is likely an unhappy camper about our focus on the Trinity, this has also been a test of perseverance as well.
This very simple, supposedly quick video was created as a way to inspire kids to look for ways to understand the deeper mysteries of our faith in the world around them, specifically using the idea of the Holy Trinity. It has taken a week and a half to finally get it posted after crazy issues with iMovie, corrupt files that required reshooting of footage, and YouTube full-blown public shut-down on uploads (a major complication for YouTube that just happened to occur as we were uploading).
I will admit that given the lack of time we have had lately, getting this "quick" video done had became very frustrating and disheartening to say the least. We have some much more complicated (and exciting!) videos in the planning stages and can't wait to get started on those, but this last video of craziness attempts to bring with it a bit of doubt and trepidation for these future ones.
However, I say...Fear Be Gone! (Imagine a superhero voice...)
We are here to do God's work - no more, and no less! :)
So here is this short unassuming video about searching for the Holy Trinity...we hope the kids enjoy it and are inspired to search for more correlations on their own!
Happy Feast of the Holy Trinity!!
I have a distinct memory from when I was a kid that centered on the Trinity. I had just overheard two adults talking about how hard it was to wrap their minds around "three Persons in one." I remember feeling shocked and confused. Without considering that I might be out of place due to my youth, I assured them that it wasn't hard at all to understand it! Somewhere I had gotten the image of a three-bladed fan that I correlated with the Trinity, and I shared this with them. Although they appeared to be impressed, my guess is that they were likely patronizing me a bit. However, that memory still lingers, and I have thought about it often throughout my life. Were those two church-going adults truly confused about the three-in-one concept, or were they actually puzzled about one of its deeper mysteries?
This feast is one of the few feasts designated in the church that centers on a specific mystery. I think that this is perfectly understandable given that it is so central to our faith.
Personally, I think that the Trinity is mindboggling.
There is so much to learn and so many avenues to follow in exploring its depths that one could easily spend a lifetime searching and only cover part of it.
For those who love learning and the thrill of discovery, the Trinity is a perfect go-to. Revelations abound, so getting into this intense mystery provides lots of reward for those explorers willing to dive deep.
And for those of us not feeling the call to take that plunge quite yet, there is still so much to gain in just touching the surface. Understanding the Trinity is to understand who we are. Unearthing some of its truth means we can find some of the answers to the questions of why we are here, what we are called to be, and where we need to be going. We all need these answers. The whole world needs these answers.
So let's not be afraid to take a chance and stick our toe in the pool! I think we'll find the water cool and inviting, drawing us ever deeper into an understanding not only of God but of ourselves as well!
"You sure are quiet back there," I said, looking at my 8 year-old guy through my rear-view mirror. My son has inherited my gift of gab, so silence lasting longer than two minutes prompts immediate questioning.
"Are you OK?"
We had just left unicycle practice early to pick up a load for our small store, deliver it then head out to a concert that our girls were playing at an assisted living facility in a neighboring city. Coming off of yet another busy day the day before, I figured he was probably pretty tired.
I watched as he gathered his thoughts, unprepared for the unorthodox statement he was about to make.
"You know, you can only levitate if you have the Holy Spirit."
My eyes widened with this unusual observation that seemed to come out of nowhere. Unsure of what to say, I couldn't help but smile.
"You're so right," I nodded in agreement.
"Yeah. I mean, I think that only the Holy Spirit can give us superpowers. What other ones can we have?"
I had to think for a second about that one.
"Well, we can bilocate. Many saints have been documented doing that, like St. Martin de Porres."
"What's that?" he asked, getting excited.
"Well, it's when a person is documented to be at more than one place at one time."
We talked a little more about this concept and then moved on to other superpower possibilities. Interestingly, almost every power he could come up with that might be found in a modern marvel movie could be equated with the workings and gifts of the Holy Spirit. As often happens, a statement from the faith of a child precipitated an incredible conversation that explored our faith in ways I would never have considered.
To speak in his lingo, it was very cool.
I realized after I got home that our conversation had occurred on the weekend of the birthday of Christianity: the Feast of Pentecost. Suddenly, the conversation had become even cooler.
You see, I love Pentecost. It is AWESOME. Literally.
Having a deep desire to play my part in changing the world and bringing the Good News of Christ to a thirsty world, I take the story very personally. I love to envision myself on both sides. How amazing it would have been to be on the side of the Apostles so filled with the Holy Spirit that their fear of mortal danger and rejection was replaced with a burning fire to spread His love, literally converting thousands of people from countless ethnic and religious backgrounds. And then to be on the side of the traveler, confused and in awe of the language barrier that was suddenly and magically broken, allowing any listener within earshot to hear the Apostles' words in his/her own language. Would I have believed immediately, or would I have needed time to process and work through the mysterious happenings I had just experienced?
Either way, today I am part of that story, as the Holy Spirit continues to fill and move me to search for Him and spread His truth and love. We are all part of that story, whether we know it or not.
Where are you at in your relationship with the Holy Spirit? Given the carnal nature of God-made-man, Jesus tends to be an easier person of the Trinity to develop an intimacy with. This was the case for me until just the last couple of years, when the Holy Spirit made Himself more known to me. Getting closer to the third person in the Trinity has been an unexpected and crazy journey, and one that I hope to reveal more about as I blog here in the future.
For now, I urge you to take a leap of faith and pursue the Holy Spirit, if you haven't already. For certain, if you are open to His promptings, you will experience life in a way that you never have before.
God bless you in this journey! The Trinity is so intense and deep, offering unfathomable love, wisdom, and peace in more ways than we could ever come in contact with on this earth. Let's work together to step out in faith, becoming all that were created to be!
What a weekend! Celebrating both the Feast of the Ascension and Memorial Day: what an incredible combination.
If I were to take both days and look for a commonality, one very quick and easy one comes to mind: a theme based on the word GO.
On the day when Jesus ascended into heaven, He gave us the Great Commission. This commission, put into its simplest form, could be summed up in the word "Go."
Go and make disciples of all nations. Go and spread the Good News to my people. Go and be My light to the world.
When the angels approached the disciples who were waiting and staring at the sky, they reminded the Apostles to go and wait for the Paraclete that would be coming to them. This Paraclete would provide them all they needed to go forth and carry out Jesus' Commission.
It can be hard to fathom why God would choose His now-flawed creation to be co-redeemers in the grand plan of Salvation. One could wonder why He didn't just stay and be our earthly King, leading us clearly on the right path. Leaving detailed theological answers to those with far more brilliant minds, I will only state the fact that He did, and you and I are that creation. You and I are purposely chosen to help save humanity.
Now, switching gears for a minute, let's consider Memorial Day. It is a day in which we honor those who died so that we might have freedom. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? These precious creations of God responded to the word "Go," leaving the comforts of home and familiarity to enact their commissions. They understood the risks that their commissions held, but offered it all for the sake of helping to save humanity from the evil at work in the world.
What would happen if each of us responded to our commissions from Jesus with the self-abandonment and offering of their lives that these men and women did? No doubt, the world would be a VERY different place. There would be so much less pain, substantially fewer problems, and a greatly diminished existence of heartache. The visibility of God's reign and dominion would be significantly clearer and peace and joy would take deeper root in humanity.
The point here is pretty obvious. We need to GO!!!!
As we remember those who gave their lives for our freedom as well as reflect on the Ascension, let's not be afraid to put it all out there.
It's time for us to GO.
Let's get out there and complete our commission and fulfill our purpose. You and I were created for a reason.
Are you with me?
Then, get ready...
Photo Attribution: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=129718&picture=american-flag-and-blue-skies
Last year we made this cute balloon project made with things around the house. It went so well and we had so much fun!! I thought it would be worth re-posting since we received several comments last year expressing how much fun it was for other families.
God bless you and I pray you have a BEAUTIFUL and grace-filled Holy Feast of the Ascension!!
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Be With Us, Holy Spirit!
Enjoy some songs to help us become closer to the Third Person in the Trinity!
If a song's title includes (family recording), please refer to the blog entry on 3/8/16 for info...
Hi! I'm a Catholic mom who loves to encourage and support others in their journey to live the beauty of our Catholic faith in a modern world. It can be a struggle, no doubt, but God has given us the tools we need! Join my family (both immediate and extended!) and me as we take on this incredible journey of our path to holiness.
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