Tuesday, February 26, 2013

 D, M, and C go sledding. Boys can be masculine without being crude, irreverent, or immodest.

A couple weeks ago, Pat Archbold started a discussion on boys and "cursing" at the National Catholic Register. I was late in reading the post, but thought that, as a mother of 4 boys, I should address this issue. I firmly believe that the double standard between boys and girls on moral issues has got to go.

Some commenters denied that cursing was a sin. Others said it should be expected of boys until they are civilized by their future wives.  Let's look at this issue rationally, instead of just emotionally. What do the Bible and the Catechism say? What is the example of Christ? Why is this issue important?

Monday, February 25, 2013

Partially Shaping Up Papal Conclave 2013

When Pope Benedict XVI announced his abdication from the Chair of St. Peter as of February 28, 2013 at 8 p.m. Rome time, attention started to turn to the College of Cardinals Conclave which would choose the next Vicar of Christ.  While Canon 332 paragraph 2 allows for Roman Pontiff to resign of his free will, this provision of Canon Law had not been exercised in six centuries.  This brought some question in the procedures of succession.

Sede vacante coat of arms
Ordinarily, the papacy becomes sede vacante on the death of the Pope.  It is de rigueur after Pope’s death for the Church to observe a period of mourning and to allow Cardinals from around the world to gather for their duty to act as electors of the next Roman Pontiff. 


 According to the 1996 Constitution Universi Dominidi gregis under Pope John Paul II, norms for the papal election were set to allow at least 15 days but no more than 20 day of sede vacante.   But there is a strong case to be made for amending that norm in the case of a planned resignation.

  Pope Benedict XVI gave 17 days notice of his intentions, which allowed Cardinals from around the world plenty of time to make their way to Rome.  In fact, a consistory (gathering of Cardinals) will be held on February 28th as a farewell to Benedict XVI which most of the Cardinals are expected to attend.

Recognizing these circumstances, Pope Benedict XVI has issued motu prorpio Normas nunnullas.  This motu proprio empowers the College of Cardinals to hold an earlier Conclave if all of the electors are present and if a majority of the electors agree.  This document does not mandate an early start date but merely empowers the Cardinals if they so choose to do so.


 There are two notable scratches from the Conclave’s roster.  Indonesian Archbishop Julius Cardinal Darmaatmadja, the 78 year old Archbishop emeritus of Jakarta, has announced that he does not plan to participate in the Conclave due to ill health.  Cardinal Darmaatmadja will be permitted to join the Conclave if his ill health resolves.  Scottish Archbishop Keith Cardinal O’Brien, the Archbishop of Edinburgh has just resigned his office amidst accusations of  a sex scandal involving “inappropriate acts” with fellow priests.   O’Brien’s abdication makes him ineligible as a Cardinal-elector for Conclave 2013 and leaves the United Kingdom unrepresentated amongst the voting Conclave.   As it stands, there will only be 115 Cardinal casting ballots.


Friday, February 22, 2013

What is mental prayer and how you can do it?

St. Therese of Lisieux. (Public Domain).
Catholics divide prayer into 2 broad categories – vocal and mental. Vocal prayer includes prayers written for recitation. Mental prayer is prayer in one’s own words.

St. Teresa of Avila wrote, “Mental prayer, in my view, is nothing but friendly intercourse, and frequent solitary converse, with Him Who we know loves us." St. Thérèse of Lisieux likewise wrote, “With me prayer is an uplifting of the heart; a glance towards heaven; a cry of gratitude and love, uttered equally in sorrow and in joy."

Catholics are generally comfortable with vocal prayer, but mental prayer can leave us at a loss. How can you spend 20 minutes or more in prayer without a pre-written text? How can you keep your prayer from becoming mere rambling?

Learn a method of mental prayer.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Prayer in the Digital Age: a review

3 of 5 stars false

Prayer in the Digital Age by Matt Swaim.
Copyright 2001, Liguori Publications. 138 pages.

Matt Swaim's Prayer in the Digital Age has some solid advice for users of digital media who want to improve their spiritual lives. At the same time, it gives a conflicting message about the importance of setting time aside daily to devote to mental prayer. Due to this significant shortcoming, I give the book 3 stars.

Read the full review.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

New book review at Catholicfiction.net

Buy from Amazon.com

I restrict book reviews on Contemplative Homeschool to those dealing with the spiritual life or home education. However, I volunteer to review Catholic fiction at Catholicfiction.net. My first review, on Rumer Godden's Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy, is being featured today. Please click through to read it and support new Catholic publisher Tuscany Press. A cautionary note: Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy deals with adult themes. Even the review is inappropriate for children.

I also write reviews at Goodreads. I will slowly be adding reviews (as time permits) on many living books we use for homeschool. Look for recommendations to pair with specific Bible stories, virtue studies, or historical periods. I also review literature and non-fiction books for adults. Please join my circle of friends and share your favorite books with me as well!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Meditation for Ash Wednesday

Fingernails scrubbed clean as latrines
in the army, this symbol
of a man dirties his thumb
with our skin, the powdery ash riding high
on his pores, not sinking in
before he sketches the gray
of our dirt-birth across a brow
we were born to furrow.

Listen to the sound of forgiveness:
the crossing of skin, the cult-
like queuing up to explode
in ripped whispers, “Lord,
have mercy, Lord, have
mercy, Lord, have mercy.”

And we want it. And we take it
home with us to stare back
from a lover’s forehead,
to come off in a smear on the sheets
as we roll onto each other’s skin,
or to wear like a bindhi this medal of our not winning
each day we wake to the worlds
we are and are not.

And when we wake too early
before the light of just-becoming-day
sneaks in on us, and we stand lonely, deceived
into piety, scrubbing away the grime of our humanness
like fierce fierce toothbrushes on latrines
in the army, there it is still,
raw with our washings:
the human beneath.

Fine-tune your spiritual focus for Lent

I want to trust in God like a little child trusts his parents--just as St. Therese did.

Did you choose a specific virtue to cultivate for a New Years' resolution? Try making a concrete step in that direction a focus for Lent, which starts tomorrow.

In January, I wrote how I was working on trust this year. I've been practicing trusting God when I sin, following the example of St. Therese. It's becoming routine. I can't tell you how much freer I feel. When I have a bad day of yelling at my kids or otherwise being selfish, I no longer beat myself (figuratively speaking) over it.  I trust God to take care of it, and even to bless me (not because of my sin, but because of my trust).  My faith is stronger as well.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Papal Resignation

Benedict XVI upon his election April 19, 2005 [AP photo: Domenico Stinellis]

It was a shock to the world the Pope Benedict XVI (ne Josef Ratzinger) offered a letter of resignation today from the Papacy during a consistory which was just slated to canonize three saints.  Benedict XVI was elected pope April 19, 2005 and at age 78 was the oldest Pope elected to the Chair of St. Peter.  Cardinal Ratizinger had developed a reputation as a doctrinaire  Rottweiler as he headed the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (the office of  Holy Inquisition) during most of Pope Blessed John Paul II’s  26 ½ year reign . Benedict XVI surprised critics as being a gentle German Shepherd during his nearly eight year tenure leading the Catholic Church.

Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation will take effect as of February 28, 2013 8 pm Rome time. There will be a two week period when it will sede vacante and then the College of Cardinals will meet to vote on who will become the next Pope.

Pope Benedict XVI Crest
Pope Benedict XVI had hinted at the possibility of resigning during an interview with a German journalist in 2010 if he did not feel that he was physically or mentally capable of fulfilling the mission of the papacy.  Some had speculated that Benedict XVI might resign at the conclusion of the Year of Faith, which is slated to end November 24th.  Yet Benedict XVI heeded his prayerful examination of conscience and chose the end of February.  This could be symbolic as the announcement was made on the same day as the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes which is also the Church’s World Day of the Sick.  However the date also coincides with the signing of the Lateran Pacts (1929), when the Republic of Italy recognized the sovereignty and independence of the Vatican City state.

In his letter of resignation, Pope Benedict XVI noted:

 After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. 


Generally, the Papacy is considered a calling to one's Earthly end.  Pope Blessed John Paul II's difficult health decline from Parkinson's Disease and the effects of his 1981 assassination attempt was a object lesson on the dignity of human life and natural death, the redemptive value of suffering and some might argue martyrdom.  One can draw lessons from Pope Benedict XVI's  "intentional grounding" as a selfless act which demonstrates humility and the desire to best serve the Lord in building the Kingdom of God.

READ MORE at DCBarroco.com

Friday, February 8, 2013

Beg, borrow, or steal buy: Fire Within

Fire Within

In this occasional series of posts, I recommend resources for you and your family in 100 words or less. More detailed reviews may come later.

Read the review of Fire Within.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Do You Know Where Your Sins Go?

Do you know where your sins go?

We are all parts of one body...one community...one society.

 Everyone of us belongs, there is not one single life set at a higher or lesser scale in the bare facts of human life. I don't care who says otherwise....it's not so.

Just think about this:  "12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit."

We are all baptized in to one body...one society...one world.  ONE

24b"But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honour to the inferior member, 25that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. 26If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together with it."

Do you see this?  "If one member suffers, all suffer together with it."   Do you see that if one member sins and lives under many sins, the entire body suffers under the same many sins.  Sin is a hurt, a pain, and it truly is damaging to self and others around.

Like throwing a pebble in a still pond.....the ripples spread out far and wide causing tension in the quiet pond.  Disturbing the calm and beauty which is desirous and best.

When we go against natural law, against the Ten Commandments, or the two greatest commandments of love, we sin.  Sin is an act, a choice to go against good and kindness in a hurtful manner.  It does effect others, even to those whom we have not thought of.  We never know who is looking, watching, being effected by our own personal life choices....we will never know completely.  God made us this way, relationships are what we are made for.  Relational people, constantly interacting and reacting to each other.  That is who we are.

So when one lies about another, it is not just between these who people, which is the first ripple in the pond, but it effects those nearest to them as well....the second ripple, and so forth.

If you have seen the classic movie, "It's a Wonderful Life" with Jimmy Stewart, you will remember how many lives were affected by his not being born.  This is a perfect example of how one person can and does affect the society.   So does their sins.

Look through the New Testament and see that every single page consists of Christ forgiving and or talking about sin and our being saved from the effects of sin.  He came down and joined us for this precise thing, to free us from sin and save us from Satan.  Nothing has changed, the war is still being waged against sin, sin is still what we need to be cured of.

So, now do you know where your sins go?  Like the pebble in the pond, your sins go out into the community and causes tension, disturbing the body.  This is why in every parish, the priests strive to be available for confession.  Call your pastor today and make an appointment if you can't make it on Saturday.

Do it for you, but do it for the Body.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Mary pondered all these things--do you?

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and Saints by Pietro Novelli. Photo Credit: Wikipedia.

There are many types of devotion to Mary. Carmelites honor Mary by imitating her. In particular, they imitate her way of meditating on the great things that God has done.

Luke’s Gospel tells us twice that “Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.” She was the first contemplative Christian.  What did she ponder? What God had done for her, and what He was doing in and through her Son.

Here are some concrete ways you can live a more contemplative life, following Mary’s example.

Continue reading.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Errors that people attacking the Catholic Church often make, # 1

Magnification of the Church’s wrongdoings and their unfair application.

“But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” – Matthew 6:15

“Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.” – Corinthians 4:5

That horrors and crimes occurred within or via the Catholic Church is no secret to anyone who’s ever read a history book. In fact, these appalling events do discourage many from seeking the positive things Catholicism offers. Sometimes we are so outraged at the negative that we won’t or can’t look at the good.
While there is no justification for wrongdoings committed by people in the Catholic Church, there is an explanation. 

It began in the Garden of Eden, continued through the history of God’s people, Israel’s Kingdom and into Jesus’s days on earth. Jesus removed the death-sentence wrought by our sins but He never removed sin itself. Every person has free will to choose good- or evil.

God’s own people whom He created, called out of slavery and redeemed have perpetuated most-vile, sinful acts. The same happens in the Catholic Church. Time and time, those choosing sin despite their high-calling as saints, clerics and missionaries, disappoint God. Indeed, many Christians probably didn’t make it to heaven. Even for them the gate is narrow.

It’s hard dealing with any church or ministry that violates the Gospel it claims to preach. This also includes other churches besides the Catholic one. When faced with humanity’s great capacity for evil, one must cry with Jesus on the cross: “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.”

The anti-Catholic role is refusal to take Christ’s attitude. Instead some people fester at the Church’s shortcomings and use them to attack Catholics living today who had no hand in them at all. When refuting the Church, they bring up sin after sin using them as ammunition. Nothing can undo the Crusades; every Catholic must apologize for it. Every Catholic must wage a personal war against immoral clergy or else he is just as guilty. This attitude is unfair and damages truthful dialogue.
The Christian apologist, G.K. Chesterton has said: “Any opponent of the Roman Church in history must acknowledge that in addition to producing great infamies, it produced great saints.”

Fairness is seeing good as well as bad. Just like humans, organizations made up of humans are both righteous and wicked. The truth is, Catholic Church leaders have already voiced apology for past wrongdoings. Faithful Catholics in our time have never declared an inquisition or burned a heretic. Like most Christians, they want to live holy lives and spread the Gospel- and gladly would work with fellow-Christians.
Those sitting in judgment of the Catholic Church should remember they themselves will account to God for every word and deed- and pray that God is more forgiving.

~Rachel M. Gohlman is a convert to Catholicism from Evangelical Protestantism. She is the author of the "Misadventures of Cardinal Fratelli" book -series and is known on facebook for her apologetics work. She is a graduate from Bradley University in Peoria.

Friday, February 1, 2013

John Paul II's Prayer of Trust

Jesus, I trust in You! With God nothing is impossible! What is especially possible is conversion, which can change hatred into love and war into peace. And so our prayer becomes all the more insistent and trusting: Jesus, I trust You!

A prayer of Pope Blessed John Paul II.