One Message. One Purpose. One People.

But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins - he said to the one who was paralyzed, "I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home."

He stood up immediately before them, picked up what he had been lying on, and went home, glorifying God.  Then astonishment seized them all and they glorified God, and, struck with awe, they said, "We have seen incredible things today." - Luke 5:24-26


Be watchful! Be alert!

Our culture promotes multitasking as a virtue, yet we see time and again, it does not produce the best outcome (Stanford Report, 2009).  In fact, living habitually in this fashion trains us to miss what is important.  In areas where we multitask, over the long-term, we fail to meet the goals that are meaningful.  For example, if we are distracted from important relationships, the depth of our love does not come to fruition (P. Mango, 2001).  Most assuredly, our children miss opportunities to know how much they mean to us (S. Sells, 2008).  Similarly, when we divide our attention, it is impossible to sincerely watch for our Lord and understand from scripture, fellowship and prayer all there is to learn (EWTN: Global Catholic Network).

As parents, the call to be equipped to teach our children (Catechism) has long lasting implications. Yet, the significance of our role as guides for our children can only come from a heart that is still (S. Chapman, 2007), attentive and self-reflective to identify the path to better parenting and fellowship with Christ.

Our Lord's message is simple:  "Jesus said to his disciples: 'Be watchful!  Be alert!  You do not know when the time will come'" (Mark 13:33).  In his message, I hear: Seek after the Lord.  Pay attention. Love deeply.  Know and teach your children, for there will come a time when I will call you to myself.  The gift you leave for family and friends, is a witness to the hope that is within (1 Peter 3:15).


7 Sacraments Revised to Include Holy Macaroni

I used to think my daughters' first words were absolutely awesome!  But now I'm thinking, that was a preview of coming attractions.

On the way home from school, which can be some of our funniest moments in the day, my daughters were enjoying some books purchased from our local Pauline bookstore.  As they fluttered from one book to the other, they both landed on The 7 Sacraments coloring and activity book, to which my oldest (age seven) began to recount what she is learning in school, soon followed by her sister (age five).  As I enjoyed watching them in my rear view mirror, sharing what they know, it wasn't long before they each tried to recall the Sacraments in order.  My oldest, started out with the Sacrament of Baptism.  She was doing pretty good and then the laughter began to mount as she struggled with "An-o-t...", "Anno...", "Ant-ooo...", "Anno-e....Annoying...of the Sick?!"

"Annoying of the sick?!" I busted out laughing.  Well, that was entertaining to both of them, so she continued and my youngest, parroted  her sister and stumbled at the end with, "Holy Macaroni?!"

By the time we got home, we were all chatting and laughing about Annoying of the Sick and Holy Macaroni.

Learning about our faith is a lot of fun and a challenge to translate it into a message that is Catholic for Kids; but in doing so, I am reminded of the simplicity of God's message, something our children need to hear and as parents, we need to be reminded about.

As we discover and re-discover our story in the Catholic faith, I can't wait to hear in what other ways they will help me to have a greater appreciation for the God of Wonders, as I try to learn more by taking their questions and observations and making them part of my challenge to find creative ways in our daily living to bolster the formation of our faith, to empower us to do God's work.

In keeping with our new understanding of The 7 Sacraments, I hope you will enjoy Marie's Macaroni and Cheese, renamed in our home as, Holy Macaroni.

Have a blessed day, as a parent, in finding your path to God's service to share his love with your children and neighbors.



Word on Fire

"Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  Keep on doing what you have learned and received and seen in me.  Then the God of peace will be with you" (Phil 4:6-9).


"Cross Culture"

"Sing to the Lord a new song of praise in the assembly
of the faithful.  Let Israel be glad in their maker,
let the children of Zion rejoice in their king..."
(Ps 149:1b-2, 3-4, 5-6a And 9b)

The beauty of our Catholic faith is contained & growing with purpose
in the youth we nourish at Christ's table. - CDHQ

"He Reigns"

"The Lord has done marvels for us.
When the LORD brought back the captives of Zion,
we were like men dreaming.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with rejoicing..."
(Ps 126:1b-2ab, 2cd, 4-5, 6)

Our Lady of Sorrows - Memorial

"Dearest virgin and Mother Mary, who could put your great sorrow into words?  Who could describe the tears you shed out of love?  Your dear Jesus has had his body nailed to the cross, and you, Mary, have had your spirit pierced by those same nails...Weep, then, my soul, as you look from the one to the other, from the Mother to the Son.  Take pity on the dear, gentle Lamb of God who has been subjected to such suffering in order to wash your filthy wounds.  And have compassion on his pure, immaculate Mother, who is afflicted and made bitter enough to die" (Father G. Savonarola, cited in Magnificat, 2011, p. 189).


So Great the Gift of Love - Exaltation of the Holy Cross

I am not one to shy away from difficult topics, but I have to say, this one is difficult to write about, but it concurrently leaves me filled with joy and gladness.

On various occasions, I look to the natural world to teach my children about life.  On one occasion in particular, on a nature walk at Torry Pines State Park, I reintroduced the concept of life and death by pointing to the various plants and flowers in their different stages development.

As I anticipated, my daughters (now ages five and seven) quickly pointed to the young plants, as reflections of themselves.  Those were vibrant in color, fresh and with full promise.  Next, they found those that were older and less youthful to signify me, "especially with whiskers."  Those plants were mature, still reaching and obviously giving shade to the younger.  Then, they were able to point to the fallen and aged tree, signifying their grandfather who has died.

Sometime between then and about a week later, they remarked, "Papa, when you go to heaven, I will miss you.  I'll be very sad.  But, I will send you white balloons, because I love you."

As my daughters and I continue this discussion about life at various times, some more humors than others, as when they ask questions like:

If God is everywhere, is he on my head?

How do angel wings stay on?

I am mindful of how important this time is to have them learn of the hope and love we have in the Holy Cross, the very path to salvation and inexplicable fellowship with our Lord.  During these moments, I sense their reception to impressions, knowledge and affection they witness though me as I kneel at the Holy Cross, without which we have no hope. In their eyes, I see their trust in God to make good on his promise.  In their actions, I see their affection for Jesus, as just before I took them to school and they placed little wooden crosses in their sweater pockets today (without direction from me), they take the cross in each of the little hands and gave it a gentle kiss.  At these times, I am struck by the enormity of what we do as parents.

Thinking about that time when I will leave my children to the influences of this world is a difficult topic for me and my children, however it is a reminder that life is transitory and what I do and do not do for their spiritual development matters.

Why is this important?  In one study I read, a child's spiritual identity can be defined as:
the development of the non-material element of a human being, which animates and sustains us and, depending on our point of view, either ends or continues in some form when we die.  It is about the development of a sense of identify, self-worth, personal insight, meaning and purpose.  It is about the development of a pupil's 'spirit'.  Some people may call it the development of a pupil's 'soul'; others as the development of 'personality' or 'character'. (OFSED, 2004 as cited in Ruddock, 2010, p. 28)

As a parent, I hardly know how my children will ultimately relate to the Holy Cross in their lifetime.  Therefore, during the time I have with them, it is important to hear the Catechism's instruction:
Parents must regard their children as children of God and respect them as human persons.  Showing themselves obedient to the will  of the Father in heaven, they educate their children to fulfill God's law (2222).
I personally believe that educating children to the importance of their faith and on this day, in relation to the Holy Cross, is akin to helping children know their spiritual family's identity, history and hope.  Without that education, they are left as orphans to find their way back home on their own.  Taking the time to guide and show them they are members of a large family, fills each of us with hope and promise.

If events unfold in their proper course, I trust my daughters will remember to send white balloons after I have completed my work in this life; more importantly, they will remember in a deep, loving and personal way, they "who believe in him might not perish but might have eternal life" (John 3:13-17).  Then, Lord willing and someday if they are parents, they will carry joyfully forward the message of the Holy Cross and teach so great the gift of love to their own.


September 12, 2011

God's presence prevails through any challenge...

"Beloved: First of all, I ask that supplications, prayers,
petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone,
for kings and for all in authority,
that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life
in all devotion and dignity.
This is good and pleasing to God our savior,
who wills everyone to be saved
and to come to knowledge of the truth."

Life is Short. Make a Change

Legend: Orange - Countries in which the Peace ...Each morning we wake-up to new possibilities ahead; for some, especially young adults, the possibilities are a crafted by the dreams of others and not their own.  In that case, I have witnessed young people compliant but internally dejected, with the flame of enthusiasm quietly flickering, keeping warm expectations owned by others.

For other young adults, when they awake, it is to fully becoming who they see themselves to be today, tomorrow and into the future.  Only these young adults have more; it is a passion for what their heart's desire, sometimes to the chagrin of those who would have them do otherwise with their lives. It is a wonderful experience to witness young adults explore their possibilities and willing to pay the price of being who they truly are with no apologies as they move into areas of interest that enliven them and result in accomplishments that we are all the better for. So with that, I wish all the best to "W", who has discovered that being in a lab and filling a role of those unwilling to live their own lives,  isn't where her passion is; it is developing her skills to help people, possibly in the Peace Corps and then on to gaining additional education to work in nature conservancy around the world. "W", enjoy all the changes you will make!

Pink Bunny Catches Surf in San Diego

One of the delightful pastimes I enjoy with Coco-Meister (age 5) and her sister, Bea (age 7) is painting our imaginations with the antics of Bun-Bun, formally Pink-Bunny, and Carrots, Bun-Bun's partner in fun. Both of them are known to have pizza parties with the other stuffed animals between the time we leave for a walk to the market and back.

Today, we enjoyed Bun-Bun catching a surf as we drove along the beautiful coast from Encinitas to La Jolla. Bun-Bun was on a really cool surfboard and shouted, "Cowabunga!" as most bunnies would in all the excitement and ocean mist swirling about on a long wave.

Though Bun-Bun is an expert surfer, is able to host awesome pizza parties for guests of no less than thirty and has all the skills needed for midnight runs out for ice cream when we're all asleep, at times she has to remain incognito if other new seven-year old kids are around, since according to Bea, "They would make fun of me, if they knew I love Pink Bunny!"

Of course, the impulse for peer acceptance overrides any effort to reassure Bea other seven-year old kids have their own loves that are deeply important. So as any Papa would do, I make accommodations and have a nice place for Bun-Bun to sit and read in my blue backpack until all is clear.

I very much enjoy all the little adventures that Bun-Bun and Carrots get into; I particularly like hearing about their mischief before they are off to sleep or at the dinner table.

Research reports what parents know and that is how important it is to encourage and be apart of our children's imaginary lives. One study indicates, "[C]areful attention to children's imaginative endeavors...will empower children to develop an invaluable tool that can be a contributing part of their repertoire for understanding and contributing to their worlds" (Eckhoff, 2008, p. 185).

Maybe what is needed is parents getting together to throw a party for stuffed animals. Sorry, I mean our little family members at the next opportunity? That could be a lot of fun, a bunch of parents with their kids and all their friends who do extraordinary things.

Next time you are traveling along the coast, look out into the water, smile and wave to Bun-Bun. She'll enjoy seeing you and you just may get a "Cowabunga!" to remember.

"Every child is born blessed with a vivid imagination. But just as a muscle grows flabby with disuse, so the bright imagination of a child pales in later years if he ceases to exercise it." - Walt Disney

Eckhoff, A., et. al., Understanding Imaginative Thinking During Childhood: Sociocultural Conceptions of Creativity and Imaginative Thought. Early Childhood Education Journal v. 36 no. 2 (October 2008) p. 179-85

A Parent's Anguish

The look in this mother's eyes escalated toward fear. Every fiber of the father's presence went in to protection mode, as he fired like a bullet to his car. Both were in near frantic disbelief their son was missing.

I didn't expect my visit to the store on Saturday would require more time and effort than anticipated. Such is daily life, we go about doing our normal routine and then we are confronted with an unforeseen event. Do we get involved? Or defer to the conditioned belief, "Someone else will help..."

I walked up to the store with package in hand to return an item. My goal quickly changed from thinking about how to tell the clerk, "I don't have my receipt and want an exchange", to thinking about assessing what was happening within a sparse gathering of customers, and what might need to be done, if anything.

Something wasn't right according to the internal signals I was picking up with each step toward the store's entrance (Gavin de Becker, expert in evaluating threats and author of Protecting the Gift, I now recall wrote about our primal intuition that is hardwired for the benefit of our children; it is a sense you do not want to ignore, especially if you are a single parent). Customers were milling about, checking with each other as people do, sharing conflicting information, and passing to each other what they thought was occurring. In the background of their chatter, unfolding before their eyes, a mother was darting this way and that, back into the store and out into the parking lot again, calling out for her son, with each call growing louder and filling with panic. I heard the father from within the store yelling for his son to "Come here! Now!", apparently thinking his son might still be in the store and would appear immediately to his forceful command. I'm not sure when I did, but I checked for my cell and returned quickly to the car to retrieve it, knowing the police would need to be called if no one had done so.

A store attendant responded, "We are doing everything to help her...We have staff posted at every entrance..." to my question, "Is anyone helping her find her child?" Still, I could see the parents were in a panic and the father bolted to his car and headed home to find his son. Information was still being shared by customers in a flurry without clear indication as to what actually transpired. I heard in the murmur from one voice, "He was running around the store a little while ago..." From another, "Maybe he went to the car?" From yet another, "Maybe he's in the restroom?" And from yet another and no more reassuring or hopeful, questioning, "Could he be at home?" Customers' faces were empty and without certainty.

As each second ticked away, I could see the mother begin to emotionally crumble; her other son about age nine stood by obviously feeling helpless and fielding questions from a few bystanders. I approached and invited the mother to sit down on the floor and she fell to her knees and melted into tears, fumbling with her cell and concurrently agreeing to call the police.

The call was placed and the police were informed of a missing child and given preliminary information while the mother continued to cry and leave a sobbing voice-mail for her son who might be at home, telling him, "If you are there, stay there! Call me!!"

On the phone, the dispatcher asked if she could talk directly to the mother and she was handed the phone and now had something to do; she could now take action instead of being helpless. Her last words to me and another bystander, father of two as well, was "Thank you!" with eyes reddened and tears streaming down her face, visibly shaken by the event. She was secure now, knowing something would be done, even if the outcome was still unknown, as she went with a police officer, who arrived in about seven minutes, outside the store to talk about what happened.

While the timeline is unclear about how events unfolded, the important thing for any parent, is to know he was found safe at home.
Many of us have been there, feeling that sense of dread when for a moment, or painfully longer for some, we have lost sight of our most precious gift. At those times, we must all support one another and assist when and if we can.

Getting from Second Grade to College via the Laundry Room

"I'm only going to the second grade!", was "Bea's" reply. I can hear my plan to, "Teach you how to do laundry, so you will know how when you go to college", wasn't as wonderfully embraced as I had hoped. But, I don't blame her. Who loves laundry? The initial objections lasted for about two minutes; stretching beyond one's limits (child or adult) is usually met with a few objections and resistance, until orientation, teaching and reinforcing occurs. And, since my grandmother started me at about the same age, I was not about to let this moment pass.

There were many age appropriate lessons here to be had, more than anticipated. There was sorting colors from whites; learning how to follow verbal instructions; working as a team to carry three full laundry bags from Point A to Point B; opportunities for the little ones to resolve conflict between themselves and working together to fill Life's Good washing machines, that now come complete with a "Super Wash" function, a necessity for any parent. My youngest, "Coco-Meister" (age 4) and oldest, "Bea" (age 7), each had their tasks.

Coco-Meister did quite well with following instructions and working as a team. She may be smaller than Bea, but she carries her own weight and then some. She especially likes pushing buttons and proclaiming, "I can do it by myself!" Bea only needed a little support on reading the menu of choices on the washers and found herself feeling a sense of pride when she was later able to give her sister some instruction. For Bea, there was the added benefit of working with money (in debit card form) and in telling and anticipating the progress of time. Both, as usual loved the round of "High Fives" (see Wikipedia for origins). And, the age appropriate lessons for me? I get to keep working on increasing my patience and learning how to translate adult-talk to kid-talk. In the end, spending time together interacting in the day-to-day adventure of living is second to none, in learning what my girls are good in, and where they and I need improvement.

As someone once said, children rise to the level of expectation (John Morefield, Recreating Schools for All Children. Johns Hopkins University School of Education) and I think the same might be said for parents, as I find myself challenged to think of creative ways to incorporate what they learn in school into our practical lives with the world as our classroom.

So here we are waiting for our wash to be done. I'm with my brand spanking new Toshiba NB505 netbook (in my favorite color of blue and purchased on sale at Best Buy) with the known universe at my fingertips, delivered via Verizon Wireless to a laundry room in sunny San Diego and they are sitting close by, enjoying the greatest invention for any kid (and parent), a box of Crayola Crayons and their favorite coloring books.
Personal thought: "Yes, Bea, you are only going into the second grade, but I bet college will be here before both you and I expect it. So, for the time being, dad is enjoying the moment, taking care of our daily needs, and enjoying you and your sister loving the new things you are learning and what will not last forever, your enjoyment of Crayola Crayons."

Update: At the end of the wash cycle, we had a lot of fun setting up a line of delivering laundry from washer to dryer. Later, the girls got experience in folding their own clothes (Yes, a clothes fight did breakout momentarily - But, it was fun)! By the end of this class, I got to hear, in typical kid fashion, "My arms are falling off!" and "Wow, this is so much work!" If nothing else, they are learning life takes some effort and "work" leads to pleasant experiences, as in the enjoyment of an evening meal and a relaxing stroll to the local market under a beautiful night sky.

Work and play...My kind of day!

In the Breaking of the Bread

"That very day, the first day of the week, two of Jesus' disciples were going to a village even miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred (Luke 24:13-14).

Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, [Jesus] interpreted to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures (27)... [T]hey urged him, 'Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.'  So he went in to stay with them.  And it happened that while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them.  With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him..." (29-31).

When we meet Jesus on any road we find ourselves in life, we may sense deep within there is something not quite "normal" and usual, something different that captures our senses beyond what we can clearly understand.  As Catholics, life in our "modern" culture is profound because of who we are in Christ.

In our homes, the manner in which we live our life is even more significant.  There our children look to us on the road of life for an interpretation, guidance and to understand the hows and whys of our faith, whether we clearly understand what we are hearing from the Lord in our midst or not.  Dads in particular have unique role.  Dr. Meg Meeker in her book (Strong Father, Strong Daughters) puts the importance of dads in a profound way:
"Think about the kind of dad you want to be.  Sure, it will take hard work.  But love isn't just about feeling good. It's about doing what you don't want to do, over and over again, if it need to be done, for the sake of someone else.  Love  is really about self-sacrifice.  At the beginning of [your daughter's life] she will feel your love. At the end of her life, you will be on her mind.  And what happens in between is up to you.  Lover her extraordinarily.  This is the heart of great fathering" (p. 76).
I have reflected on this particular paragraph often, in large part, because I see the effects in my own life.

During this Easter season, I received a beautiful gift just last night from my seven and four year old daughters, as we prepared to listen to contemplative music and snuggle before they were off to bed. We got ourselves ready, lit small votive candles, got our favorite CD and sat before our very humble alter; then my oldest enthusiastically announced she wanted to practice "giving the gifts" at church.  So we went to the kitchen, got a couple items and she practiced walking down the aisle, giving her gift and bowing. Her sister quickly followed giggling and enjoying the fun.

If that wasn't enough to grip my emotions, my oldest lead my youngest (on their own) to kneel with their rosaries in hand to pray; dim candlelight warmed and embraced them as soft music impressed upon and lifted my soul what was happening before my eyes, their own relationship with Christ was emerging.  Their nearly inaudible prayers was touching to say the least, and a reminder to me of the tenderness of their hearts and their openness to the Good News.

Each day after a long walk on life's road, we have an opportunity to fellowship and break bread with Christ and have our children at the table with us.  As we make the time to read the bible, pray and listen for God, fellowship with the Risen Christ and our children, it is not long before the foolish things of life continue to fade into the backdrop of whatever our culture deems "important", our eyes open and we recognize him clearly with God's grace.  Then, with children at our side, we will say as did the disciples, "Were not our hearts burning?!" within as Jesus becomes more real in all that we are.

Books Available at
by Fr. Benedict J. Groeschel

From Cradle to Cross and Glory

One hundred fourteen days ago, we celebrated the birth of Jesus; today on Palm Sunday, we learn the answer to know God's love working through adversity.

In today's readings, I am immersed (as I have been during this season of Lent) in the various scenes culminating in the crucifixion of our Lord, and ending undoubtedly with formidable guard securing his tomb (Matthew 26:14; 27:66).

With each line we read from scripture at Mass, I am off balance by fleeting emotions attached to each event that unfolds in the history of Christ's Passion.  The experience ranges between feeling disgusted to hear of betrayal; mystified to grasp an invitation to "Take and eat; this is my body" (Matthew 26:26; [1]); dismay to know personally both willingness and weakness; anger to read of injustice; fatigue to not know the "Why?" of God's plan; disbelief to learn of efforts to secure false testimony; grief to see innocence pummeled; sorrow to witness mocking, abandonment and death, and its impact to those who loved him.  As each scene unfolds into the next, my imagination sees our Lord and then mingles in the crowd of what was likely perfumed with the odors of gossip, speculation, fear and wonderment in a culture I can scarcely begin to understand from within our own today.

The time and place where our Lord walked is far removed. However, our Lord's path, we dimly understand today with God's grace, leads to glory; this time, not to glory under the Star of Bethlehem, but to a place by way of painful suffering.

But what is it that makes the suffering we read about make sense before we ever get to that special place of redemption?  After all, in our own lives, we face various types of stress, grief or crisis that challenge us and culminates in our own "cross" to bear, requiring us to employ skills to cope while understanding the spiritual aspect to what we are facing.  With each day that passes with a burden, do we not ask and nearly demand and search for answers that make sense and provide guidance? Do we, our friends, family or neighbors, not grapple at times with the emotional and practical impact of sin? Do we not want some preparation for what may befall our respective homes, such as suffering from disease, the grip of substance abuse, betrayal in marriage, death of a loved one, catastrophe or some other event or injustice? Sure we do.  Many times, we might even find ourselves depressed and succumbing to seemingly apparent and grievous conclusions without satisfaction.

Surely the followers of Christ found themselves perhaps feeling dejected gazing upon a corpse in a silent tomb, then asking themselves with tear filled eyes and heavy hearts, "How can this be?"

When faced with the unthinkable, it is the unthinkable we must be open to by way of God's grace (2 Corinthians 12:9).  Moreover, we are not alone (unless we chose to be), nor without examples to overcome as we seek some means to help us get though life's beatings and traumas.  During this Holy Week, the answer for me is in what both Mary modeled for us, and likewise her son.

Let me explain.  Before the cradle, Mary asks, of the angel Gabriel, who tells her "[Y]ou will conceive..." (Luke 1:34), "How can this be?"

In today's reading, before the cross, Jesus "expresses himself in words similar to the cry of the righteous sufferer" [3], "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me..." (Matthew 26:39).

Both Mary and Jesus, facing life transforming events that extend before and beyond their human existence, respond, not with ruminations of some version of, "Why?", but instead with full and humble submission to God's unfolding and at times seemingly unknowable plan for the moment (which is different from The Church in God's Plan or God's Plan for us to have fellowship with him).

Mary asserts, "be it done to me" (Luke 1:38).  "Jesus, feeling anguish and distress..." [3] " obedience to the divine will" [4], totally "as he had taught his disciples" [3].

Therein is the answer, submission in obedience to divine God.  Both Mary and Jesus are examples for us in daily living.  As such, we are confronted to ask ourselves,  "Am I able and willing to live and teach my children such profound awareness?"

If unwilling, we remain subject to the influence of our time.  In our culture, the "will of man" without God finds the meaning of "submission" and "obedience", at best difficult to fathom, if not impossible. And while many of us believe in and have a relationship with God, we may find ourselves influenced none-the-less by the tendency to "Do it my way" and isolate from God's fellowship by "Not being a burden."  In the extreme, cutting ourselves off from any awareness of the creator that by his grace gives us breath, or ill prepared to appreciate the magnificence of the eternal God we worship.
"Personally, I take comfort in the fact that this is a one-way trip.  It motivates me to make this life count, raise my children right, to get involved in activism, to improve life for myself and others (especially my children) and to get as much pleasure as possible from this life that I can - without harming others" [5].
"[T]he average scientific man worships...a greater Deity than the average Christian... But the scientific man knows Him to be eternal; in astronomy, in geology, he becomes familiar with the countless millenniums of His lifetime.  The scientific man strains his mind actually to realize God's infinity.  As far off as the fixed stars he traces Him, 'distance inexpressible by numbers that have name'.  Meanwhile, to the theologian, infinity and eternity are very much of empty words when applied to the Object of his worshipHe does not realize them in actual facts and definite computations" [6].

From what I read in scripture, hear from my priest and know in my heart, God calls us to know him profoundly and wants us to give Jesus our burden (Matthew 11:30) and do it his way (John 14:6), so we can actually "realize God's infinity."  Oftentimes, we struggle so much, because we have yet to fully embrace the God given ability to simply, and quietly, submit to our creator's love and teaching.  Jesus and those we read about (Saints and Angels) can transform our lives (requiring a yielding heart, fellowship, reading, fasting and abstinence, repentance, prayer, confession, charity, good works, etc.).  And if we turn to each other for fellowship and prayer, help in our communities, and our faith in God's love, we find there are resolutions on the path to a place called redemption.  To be sure, there will be opportunities for living and suffering throughout life, but we can only get to glory, by cradle and cross and then in great humility begin to embrace what it means to love our God of Wonders.

To fully know God, it seems, involves getting to, "not as I will, but as you will."  And as we approach such a relationship with our creator, we grow in humble witness to the awesome power and meaning of what is yet to come in the days ahead, and what follows the broken seal of an empty tomb.
"Lord, you have satisfied our hunger with Eucharistic food.  The death of your Son gives us hope and strengthens our faith.  May his resurrection give us perseverance and lead us to salvation. We ask this through Christ our Lord" (Magnificat: Holy Week 2011, p. 41).

1. The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist (, Catholic Encyclopedia).
2. Stan Fortuna, CFR is a Catholic priest notable for his evangelical musical contribution...He is one of the eight original members of the Community of Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, a Franciscan order established by Cardinal John Joseph O'Connor in 1987 (Fr. Stan Fortuna, Wikipedia).
3. International Bible Commentary (1998, p. 1323).
4. The New Jerome Biblical Commentary (1990, p. 670).
5. Blair Scott, national communications director for the American Atheists).
6. Natural Law in the Spiritual World (Henry Drummond. 1883, p. 170).

Moment by Moment Listening for the Lord

There is no more poignant a moment than to stand in church with my child standing at my side and hear, "Remember, Man is dust, and unto dust you shall return" (Welcome to Lenten Season).  The heart is both excited at the opportunity to share the love I experience in relation to our heavenly father and sobered to realize how eternally important this moment is to myself as a father and my children.  The implications for the community of today and in the future are no less important.

This view is not unique, is spoken of in Holy Scripture (Proverbs 22:6) and is known among our contemporaries.
  • "[C]hildren who reported they had a warm close relationship with their parents, were less likely to rebel against religious teachings...Parents are the most important influence...sometimes more indirect than direct..." to the child's religious socialization process (Ralph W. Hood, Jr., Peter C. Hill and Bernard Spilka. The Psychology of Religion: An Empirical Approach, 2009: 117).
  • "A Christian world view, however, must transcend our head knowledge and permeate our souls.  Research clearly indicates that a biblical world view, morality and character become real in one's life through close relationships, one of which is our relationship with God.  Close human relationships, particularly with authority figures, are also crucial to help students see what it looks like in real life to live out integrity, a biblical world view and, most of all, love" (Todd W. Hall. Spirituality at a Crossroads. Biola Magazine, Fall 2010).
  • "A teen with adequate support network of friends, family, religious affiliations [emphasis added], peer groups or extracurricular activities may have an outlet to deal with everyday frustrations.  But many teens don't believe they have that, and feel disconnected and isolated from family and friends.  These teens are a increased risk for suicide" (Matthew K. Nock, About Teen Suicide.
  • "Don't neglect your child's spiritual development...The lessons of self-discipline, humility, community, and God are all worth any resistance you may encounter..." (Erika J. Chopich, Do Children Need Religion.
  • When we neglect tradition, we lose the powerful framework of the liturgical calendar as a means of nurturing Christian identity and hope...Children are 'overhearing', 'overseeing', and 'imitating' the faith [positive and negative behaviors of those around them] whenever they are given chances to do so...[E]ffective formation requires the engagement of the family and the congregation as an extended family of faith, creating opportunities for relationships with multiple adults who are also being formed in faith" (Karen-Marie Yust. Theology, Educational Theory, and Children's Faith Formation: Findings from the Faith Formation in Children's Ministries Project).
  • "Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children in the faith, prayer, and all the virtues.  They have the duty to provide as far as possible for the physical and spiritual needs of their children" (Catechism of the Catholic Church: 2252).
As parents, our children come to know how close or how far is God from our whispers that appeal to him for guidance in "penance, reflection and fasting" as we kneel in humility, be it at church or just moments before we sleep.  It is by all that we say and do, or don't say and don't do, that their innocence is first introduced (or not introduced) to a living and merciful God.  So I am challenged with conviction that my daughters come to know the great love their God in heaven has for them by who I allow God to transform me into being.  What is more important than to submit to our creator or this role as a parent who has the task of modeling a living, growing and humble faith?  Absolutely nothing.  And the first fruit is apparent, for when my children are asked, "Who loves you more than Papa?" they reply enthusiastically with conviction, "Jesus!"

After returning to our place in the pews, among our brothers and sisters in Christ, each of us on a path listening for the Lord, I am mindful of the emotional, physical associations taking place in my daughter's tender memory and hearing.  She looks about, quietly asks questions and finds her place in our Magnificat, owning the multi-colored ribbons of blue, green, purple, red and yellow bookmarks.  She studiously attempts to read and follow, periodically brushing away my pointing finger guiding her interest, as if to say without words, "Papa, I can do this. I'm on my own."  Alternatively, my arm is around her and she snuggles close and rests, and I'm even more thoughtful for the Lord's awesome presence we feel. She will remember these moments long after I am gone and waiting for her, her sister and all we love in heaven.  These moments will replay in her memory faded, but the depth of love and conviction will be there for her, as coins of great price to redeem in any situation she will face in life. I waste not the moments to hold her close with a father's love and concern for her developing faith.

Yes, this is a sobering time, sitting here in the fellowship of our Lord's affection answering the call for "penance, reflection and fasting" and I am prayerfully thankful for the call.

Today we begin...and in the days that follow, growing closer to God, moment by moment listening for the Lord as he hears our whispers.  During this season of Lent, what is God calling you to do?  Who is God calling you to be?  Listen and become, for your children are doing the same.
So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us.  We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20).


Mysteria: Gregorian Chants

A Happy and Blessed Lent - Living in the Light of Truth
by Apostleship of Prayer

Kids' Daily Offering Prayer
by Apostleship of Prayer

Four Year Old Avoids Slammer by Confession

Walking out of Staples after our run for office supplies, my four year old's sister yells, "Paaaaaaapaaaaaa!  She took a candy and you didn't see!"  As we were busy that morning, I turned mildly annoyed to my youngest, with packages in hand and immediately stopped struggling to find my car keys, while herding the kids along through the maze of pedestrians to our car.  She was looking pretty sheepish.  With her little head turned down in that look of "Darn, he caught me!" and her sparkling eyes up my way, I could see she was experiencing embarrassment.  She was also upset her sister turned her in.   At the same time I could see her little wheels turning and wondering what was next, now that her fantasy of sugar bliss wasn't so sweet.

"Babe, what did you do?" I asked in that kind of low sing-song tone, reserved for the kids to discern, "Something is wrong and Papa's going to take care of it."  This time, I didn't get that, "Nothing...", which I've been really working hard on to remove from their spontaneous replies to hiding mischief.  Instead, I got an immediate, albeit reluctant, confession, "I got this." Her soft voice matched the pace of her slowly pulling from under her arm a likely warm by now multi-colored jawbreaker on a stick.  My reply was an intentional tone that was affirming the confession, mixed with need for action, resulting in, "Babe, I know you wanted that.  But, we didn't pay for it. Honey, we need to go back in, and return that.  It doesn't belong to you."  She complied with some hesitancy, due to her not knowing what to do.

On the way in to the store holding hands, I gave her some quick instruction, which I had to repeat only about two times.  "When we get to the lady, you hand her the candy. Say, I took this and I'm sorry."  Her sister in the background was like most sisters singing up the ultimate punishment, "She could have gone to jail!"  So, now experienced in multi-tasking and manging with some degree of success two conversations at once, I reassured my youngest, "Honey, you are not going to jail." To her sister, "Sweetie, stop that; she's not going to jail.  But, I really appreciate you taking care of our family and doing what is right" (Although I do wonder why she waited until we were outside the store before telling me).

The clerk we saw just moments before was very inviting, but also had that question on her face of, "What did I miss in my customer service?" as I approached her register.  I pointed to my little one to re-orient the clerk's attention.  With arm outstretched, candy in hand, walking toward the clerk, we could all hear a fairly good attempt to make amends. My little culprit was now back on the straight and narrow and comforted by the clerk's, "Thank you, Honey, for bringing that back."  On the way out of the store, I picked up my darling and my oldest trailed behind. I continued with "Thank you, Sweetheart for telling me what you did (I left out the part, after your sister busted you).  Let's tell Jesus your sorry." She did and I increased the affection.  "Later, we'll pray about this. Okay?"  She replied with a smile and apparently wondering, "Okay, I think?"

Her sister needed a few more re-orientations to the fact that jail was not in the immediate future.  Now upon reflection, I can see from a child's point of view, that would be pretty cool, to visit a jail by way of police car and sirens just for the fun of it.  Heck, I'm thinking since I know my daughters, even jail is better than "Nappy time", which was a few hours away (Napping: Children and Adults).  After this, we were back on track for the remainder of the morning, all in good spirits.

Side note: I wonder if my little one took Staple's new advertising to heart, "That was easy!"  Maybe in another context, but not when Papa is around and sister is looking for something gone wrong.

As most parents know, it is difficult to deliver messages that are clear while on the run, but I have found immediate, specific and short messages best, preceded with establishing a history of a lot of hand holding, high-fives, praises for accomplishments, tickling, hide-peak-and-sneak and just plain acting silly.  These seem to make the "messages" and "teachable moments" go over a lot better and they feel better for everyone, resulting in a very quick recovery time from "corrections" and return to the practical stuff of the day mixed with silliness.

That evening, before they drifted off to sleep, we chatted about where we saw God in our day, what we are thankful for and what we could do better.  Of course, this was followed by a lot of hugs and kisses and reading from the Magnificat, usually when I'm not too exhausted and there aren't too many "I'm thirsty", "I'm hungry" (again), "I have to go potty" or "I want my bear...rabbit. No, the other one" cycles of patience testing. If you don't know what I mean, see Goodnight, Junior, by Veggie Tales for an animated version of my experience (but with two girls)!

God bless,

Ed - Known this week as "Popsie-Wapsie" to my kids.

Prayer for the Evening:
I will espouse you to me forever: I will espouse you in right and in justice, in love and in mercy (Hos 2:21). 

Teaching Children Moral Behavior

Amazing Grace
Rhema Lil - Gospel Singer - Age: 8
Rhema lost her mother, Wendi Marvanne,
to ovarian cancer on November 8, 2008.


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