Holy Father: Faith Includes Trust in the Dark Moments of Life

Pope Benedict XVI gives the final blessing at the Nov. 14, 2012 general audience in Paul VI Hall. Credit: Matthew Rarey-CNA.

Vatican City, Dec 19, 2012 / 10:12 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Benedict XVI continued his series of reflections on faith this Wednesday, saying that at times it includes an element of darkness.

“We encounter moments where God seems absent, his silence weighs on our hearts and his will doesn’t correspond to our own as we would like it to,” the Pope told pilgrims on Dec. 19.

“But the more we open ourselves to God, we receive the gift of faith and put our trust in him completely, the more he empowers us with his presence to live every situation in peace assured by his loyalty and love,” he said during his weekly general audience.

He emphasized that this happens after opening one’s soul to God through faith, just as Abraham did after he was asked to sacrifice his son and as Mary did when she had to watch her son be crucified. (Read more here.)

If You’re In the Mood for Giving …

Simcha Fischer, who blogs at National Catholic Register published a list of worthy charities for those of us who are in the gift-giving mood. Each of the charities she selected sounds like a place to put your money and know that it will be used for good.

I’m going to put a few charities from her list below, but be sure to give them all a glance.

If you have a few extra Christmas $$ and are in the mood to use them for good, check out Simcha’s article here.

First, my family’s favorite charity:

Save a Family Plan

I am blown away by their efficiency:  100% of your donations go directly to the poor.  They don’t just give the poor food and shelter; the help them invest to become self-sufficient.  We first partnered with a destitute family in India several years ago, and this family no longer needed our support years ahead of the projected schedule.  A top notch international NGO run by Catholics, serving poor Indian families of every caste and religion, and fully in allegiance with the Church (so you don’t have to worry that you’re accidentally funding abortions or something).

*****

Christian Foundation for Children and Aging 

Popular with many, many of my friends, this is a lay Catholic sponsorship program encouraging the dignity and well-being of the poor and marginalized in 22 countries around the world.

*****

Reece’s Rainbow  

A Down Syndrome adoption ministry with many programs to help families fund the very expensive adoption of children with special needs.  Many of these children are barely surviving in horrendous institutions, and there are so many families who would like to rescue them, but can’t afford it.  Full of wonderful, hopeful stories and easy ways to help.

*****

The Laboure Society  

This organization “assists aspirants to priesthood or religious life who find themselves unable to answer their call due to personal debt.”

*****

Amazima  

Amazima sells handcrafted jewelry made by poor women in Uganda, who are guided and educated on how to manage money to support their families

*****

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/simcha-fisher/charities-you-ought-to-know/#ixzz2FoxVhrAq

Bar Owner Collects Toys for Catholic Charities

Milwaukee, Wis., Dec 15, 2012 / 01:02 pm (CNA).- An elderly couple walks into Kip’s Inn and hands bar owner Kim Engebregtsen a plastic bag with a Barbie doll in it.

“Oh, thank you!” Engebregtsen said. “I needed this. This was the last thing on the list.”

She hugged the couple and directed them to the bar to enjoy some drinks with other folks from the neighborhood.

The list to which Engebregtsen referred was given to her by Catholic Charities with the Christmas wishes of five families, 27 people total.

“Whatever their wish is, we honor it,” she said, adding that since the bar started collecting gifts for Catholic Charities six years ago, every wish — and more — has been fulfilled.

Engebregtsen said one year a child asked for a bike, and through her collection, got a bike and a helmet. Another asked for a basketball, and he was given a ball and a pump.

“Once the ball goes flat, it’s no good,” she said. “These are kids that don’t have anything, so whatever they ask for, we get.” …

…  Engebregtsen’s motivation for gathering the toys stems from having been one of five children in a poor household.

“When we were kids, we were pretty poor,” she said. “We benefited from people’s generosity and actually through the Catholic Church.”

Engebregtsen and her family attended St. Peter Parish, Oshkosh, Wis. and she went to St. Peter School.

“We were able to attend the school without paying tuition,” she said. “The parents of our classmates, they were very generous. They exposed us to things that we wouldn’t have been otherwise exposed to.”

She was grateful for gifts her family had received when she was a child and after growing up, she fell into this toy tradition by accident.

“The first year we collected for Toys for Tots and when I went to go drop (the gifts) off, they said the deadline had already passed so I took them to Catholic Charities and they were really happy to get the gifts,” Engebregtsen said.

Shortly after that, she received a call from then-Archbishop of Milwaukee Timothy M. Dolan, now cardinal, thanking her and asking if he could come to the bar to pick them up.

“It’s exciting that he’d go out of his way to stop at a small neighborhood bar to thank us for what we’ve done,” she said.

On that day she remembered Cardinal Dolan sitting at the bar and ordering a Budweiser.

“He told my bartender not to tell anybody and she said ‘Why? You can’t have a beer?’ And he said, ‘No, don’t tell anyone it’s Budweiser,’” Engebregtsen said, laughing at the memory.

The tradition of the archbishop coming to the bar to receive the toys continues with Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. (Read more here.)

Unseemly haste …

The funerals are not finished.

Why did the President rush this country into a divisive debate about gun control before the victims of this tragedy were buried?

Why the unseemly haste?

Couldn’t he have given this country time to grieve before pushing us into another political fight? Would it be so hard to wait a few days?

Christmas is in four days.

Why didn’t he at least give us time to bury our dead and be together with our families at Christmas before forcing another battle on us?

Just a little something to cheer your souls …

The Nativity display in Warren, Mich. after it was installed by John Satawa on Dec. 15, 2012. Credit: Thomas More Law Center.

Warren, Mich., Dec 18, 2012 / 04:01 am (CNA).- A 67-year-old tradition of placing a nativity scene on a public median in Warren, Mich. has been re-established after a four-year legal battle involving the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

“John Satawa was persistent enough to follow through,” CNA was told Dec. 17 by Richard Thompson, president of Thomas More Law Center, which represented Satawa, the crèche’s caretaker.

Satawa is “an individual citizen who was not going to disappear silently into the night, but was going to fight the decision of the road commission to maintain this tradition that had been going on since 1945,” Thompson said.

The crèche was erected again Dec. 15 by Satawa, his family and friends, and local Boy Scouts, after the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decided in his favor on Aug. 1.

While the nativity scene was being erected, Warren police controlled traffic as well-wishers gathered, carolers sang Christmas songs, a priest from nearby St. Anne’s Catholic Church blessed the display and passing motorists sounded their horns in approval.

In 2008 the Macomb County Road Commission received a letter from the Freedom from Religion Foundation objecting to a private citizen placing a nativity scene on a 60-foot-wide median.

They claimed the crèche violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment, and the county immediately ordered the display removed.

Satawa had gotten permission for the crèche several times, and in 1995 the local police department finally gave him a blanket permission to erect it in the future, so that he would not feel it necessary to ask again.

On March 9, 2009, after receiving the Freedom from Religion Foundation’s letter, a highway engineer for Macomb County, Robert Hoepfner, wrote to Satawa denying him a permit to resurrect the manger scene and only citing reasons related to the establishment clause for the denial.

Satawa then sued the Macomb County Road Commission for violating his rights under the establishment and free speech clauses of the First Amendment, and the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The district court found in favor of the county, but its decision was reversed by an appeals court. (Read the rest of the story here.)

Finding Normal

It’s still Advent.

Christmas is right around the corner.

We have to pull ourselves out of the grief cycle and find normal again. This isn’t easy. It’s never easy. But after a season of repeated tragedies layered on top of a tumultuous political campaign, it’s even harder.

Finding normal is the work in front of us.

Advent is a holy season of self-examination and repentance. Those activities seem especially fitting in this week after Sandy Hook. We need to use these days of prayer to draw closer to our God and seek His comfort and His direction.

At the same time, we have the work of preparing for Christmas. We have presents to wrap, food to buy and houses to clean. If we have little children, it is our responsibility to create Christmas for them. Remember that Christmas is more than presents and feasting. It is the birthday of our Savior.

Once more Americans have to find normal and live normal after a national tragedy has taken normal away from us. We will find normal in everyday things; in the cleaning, wrapping, praying and confessing of real life.

Healing comes from loving and living. It is in the warmth of our friendships and families; the safety of our homes. The dailiness of life will heal us, if we let it. Our resilience is in our faith and our ability to trust that even when things go wrong they are somehow also going right.

It is still Advent.

Christmas is coming.

And America is trying to find normal, once again.

Pray to St Michael

The prayer to St Michael seems especially relevant today.

YouTube Preview Image

The Pain that Passes Understanding

Christ gives us peace that passes understanding because life can give us pain that passes understanding.

Peter Wiebe and his family lost their precious son and brother, Jesse, to cancer. Peter shares his journey of grief and faith in a WordPress blog he calls Threshold of Heaven.

I met Peter and his blog when I started Public Catholic a few months ago. He’s been a blessing to me and at the same time a challenge. The challenge lies is accepting the pain he shares while knowing that there is nothing I can say or do to ease his burden.

Peter Wiebe wrote a wonderful letter to Jesus Tuesday. I’d like to share it with all of you, particularly with those who have lost a child. They are one with Peter in this pain that passes understanding. It’s a private club no one wants to join. Only Christ on the cross can sanctify this loss, this sorrow.

Thank you Peter for sharing your walk with the rest of us.

I am going to reprint the entire letter, with Peter Wiebe’s permission. You can read it in the original, as well as learn about Jesse Wiebe’s life here.

Dear Jesus,

It’s just over two years now since our lives turned upside down. It’s hard to believe we are facing our second Christmas without Jesse. I don’t believe that you caused Jesse’s cancer, but you certainly could have prevented it from happening or cured it after the fact.

I believe the Bible when it tells me that all authority has been given to you both in Heaven and on the Earth. I don’t think I could believe in you if you were either powerless to prevent/cure Jesse’s cancer or just indifferent to his suffering. You did, after all, weep at the tomb of your friend Lazarus even when you knew that you would raise him from the dead. I choose to believe that you care despite the fact that you did not act the way I had hoped.

I don’t understand why you didn’t answer our prayers for Jesse’s healing. Neither do I understand why on so many nights when we pleaded with you to ease Jesse’s suffering, his suffering actually got worse. It felt like you ignored our prayers. Anna and I really felt along with David when he said, “How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?”

While I suppose I could have hardened my heart toward you and filled up with bitterness and resentment, I could not find it within myself to do so. Early on during Jesse’s cancer I looked around the children’s ward and saw so many others with cancer; it never seemed right to me to ask the question “Why us?” rather I was left with the impression “Why not us?” It was a profound realization for me.

While my faith in you has been stretched exceedingly, it has not broken. I echo the words of one of your disciples when You asked him if he wanted to go, “You have the words of eternal life, where else could I go?”

With Jesse’s death, my whole vision of the Godly family I would build collapsed. The business, that was a part of that vision, failed the year after Jesse’s death. We also lost our home church, where we once were esteemed and had ministered for nearly a decade. And yet, despite our trials, I still have hope in you. You are my Saviour, and I am glad. I cling to the promise in your Word that says, “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.”

I have not only lost, but also gained since Jesse’s death. I have gained a deeper understanding of suffering in the lives of believers. I have also gained a better understanding of what it means to have an eternal perspective. When I remember the terrible heaving of Jesse’s chest as he struggled for every breath, I imagine what it was like for you as you struggled to breathe on the cross. Then I know you understand. I am grateful, too, that Jesse will never have to stand and weep at the grave of someone he loves. He has truly been spared much pain and suffering here on Earth.

Since Jesse is now in Heaven with You, I often wonder what he is up too. Down here, there are plenty of conflicting views about Heaven and our resurrection. I wish you would have clarified that better in your Word. But the glimpses that you do give us into Heaven and the afterlife give us great hope of a joy filled reunion with Jesse.

In closing, Lord Jesus, please continue to have mercy on us as we walk the path before us. Bless us to know you more and more as the day of our own death approaches. Help us to be a blessing and a comfort to those you would send across our path. Help us to train our remaining three boys in your grace for as long as they remain in our care.

Please bless Jesse for us and tell him how much we all love and miss him.

Even so, Lord Jesus, come.

Peter Wiebe 2012

She’s My Mother So Be Careful What You Say About Her

Monday was my anniversary.

My mother had a turn for the worse yesterday.

My doc did some “work” on Gimpy the Foot a week ago today.

I have to submit all the titles I want for the legislation I want to introduce by Friday.

I moved to a different residence and things are a mess and I can’t do nuthin’ because of Gimpy.

I’m teaching a class at a local university.

 

There are benefits to being so busy and out of it.One of them is that I miss a lot of the trendy, anti-Christian trash that’s floating around. I for sure missed the news that some guy has written a book attacking Our Lady.

I’m glad I got to not know about this for a while. To mis-quote Sara Teasdale, “for every sweet, singing hour of peace count many an hour of strife well lost.” In my situation, I think that’s Sara, saying that ignorance can be bliss.

Fortunately, the inimitable Mark Shea, who blogs at Catholic and Enjoying It, was aware and taking action. He’s written a great discussion about this book, which begins “My autopsy of Colm Tóibín’s The Testament of Mary, this Christmas’ assault on the gospel from our now utterly predictable Manufacturers of Culture.”

I’m glad Mark saw it first. He’s better at this sort of thing than I am, and it sounds as if this particular book deserves evisceration at the hands of the best.

Mark’s comments here on Patheos, which are titled Not My Mother, say:

My autopsy of Colm Tóibín’s The Testament of Mary, this Christmas’ assault on the gospel from our now utterly predictable Manufacturers of Culture.  Just a little taste:

In terms of content, the book is a by-the-numbers hatchet job written in sensitive, spare, and poetic diction for the delectation of UK and New York Chattering Classes and dipped in a bath of relentless, willful sadness and bitterness. The basic premise is that it has been 20 years since the crucifixion, and Mary is one pissed-off hag, sounding for all the world like a nun in iron grey, short-cropped hair and sensible shoes who has seized the microphone in a We Are Church group process breakout session and is now on the third hour of an extended free association monologue, grousing bitterly about the patriarchy.

(Read more here.)

 

 

Pope Benedict: Christmas is more than a party

I had just clicked on “buy” for a couple of Christmas gifts when I saw this reflection by the Holy Father.

In this buy, buy, buy society of ours, we all need reminding that, while Christmas is a time of rejoicing, feasting and fun, what we are celebrating is the coming of the Son of God.

Read the Pope’s thoughts on this below and have a blessed Sunday.

 

 

Vatican City, Dec 9, 2012 / 07:25 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Pope asked Catholics to prepare for Christmas amid a consumerist society by listening to the voice of John the Baptist, who teaches us to celebrate Christmas as more than a party.

“Our aim today is listening to that voice to give space and welcome to the heart of Jesus, the word that saves us,” said Pope Benedict XVI from his apartment window to pilgrims gathered below in St. Peter’s Square.

The Pope asked Catholics to “prepare to see with the eyes of faith the humble stable of Bethlehem, God’s salvation, in this time of Advent.”

“In the consumer society, in which we seek joy in things, John the Baptist teaches us to live in an essential way, so Christmas is experienced not only as an outward party outside, but as the feast of the Son of God who came to bring peace, life and true joy to people.”

“John plays a great role, but always in relation to Christ,” said the Pope on Dec. 9, following the feast of Mary’s Immaculate Conception.(Read more here.)


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X