Thursday, February 28, 2013

St. Bridget Meditation Prayer & Reflection: The Circumcision

by M. J. Joachim

Begin by praying one Our Father and One Hail Mary.

Eternal Father, through Mary’s unblemished hands and the Divine Heart of Jesus, I offer You the first wounds, the first pains and the first bloodshed as atonement for my and all of humanity’s sins of youth, as protection against the first mortal sin, especially among my (children, grandchildren, etc.) and relatives.

Addressing God as “Eternal Father” is an authentically, warm salutation. Yet, in this prayer, we don’t address Him by ourselves, but through “Mary’s unblemished hands and the Divine Heart of Jesus.” Talk about powerful forces meeting in the middle, on behalf of my soul!

I am the giver in this prayer, giving a gift to God the Father, a gift that isn’t actually mine to give, had my Eternal Father not given it to me in the first place.

Wounds on our Savior – not just any wounds, but His very first wounds, those of His circumcision, where He shed blood for me, for the very first time.

I have to believe this was a most holy event, shrouded in the mysteries of all things sacred. I have to understand and accept once again, that Jesus (the second person in the Holy Trinity) became man for my sake. It’s not mentioned in the prayer. However, it is necessary to reflect on this, if I am to fully appreciate the essence of the gift I am giving.

Bloodshed and atonement – together they provide the means to blot out sins of youth and protect against the first mortal sins, not only for me, but for my children, grandchildren (etc.) and relatives.

Oh God, I am eternally grateful for all you have given to me and those I love.

Thank you for visiting Being Catholic.

M. J.

Photo credit:  The Circumcision, Luca Signorelli (1450 – 1523), PD – US
©2013 All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Refocusing on the Prayers and Meditations of St. Bridget

by M. J. Joachim

I’ve been praying a particular daily devotion for a few years now. Lately, however, I’ve found myself rushing through it – busy, busy, busy…funny how life gets that way sometimes. In an effort to breathe more vitality into these prayers and reconnect with the beautiful spiritual nature of this devotion, I’m going to spend the next few days sharing these prayers, along with my own personal reflections on them, with you.

When I first discovered these prayers, I needed them very much. A lady I hardly knew handed me the prayer card and said, “You need this more than I do.” She was bringing Communion to the homebound. I was visiting and taking care of my mom during her knee replacement. Those visits have a way of connecting souls without saying a word. She was right. I needed these prayers and I can’t thank her enough for passing them onto me. It is my pleasure now to share them with all of you.

They are titled, The Twelve Year Prayers of St. Bridget on the Passion of Jesus. An opening prayer and seven daily prayers invite participants to reflect on the Circumcision, Suffering on the Mount of Olives, Flogging, Crowning of Thorns, Carrying of the Cross, Crucifixion of Jesus and Piercing of Jesus’ Side.

According to the prayer card I received, “This devotion was pronounced good and was recommended by the “Sacro Collegio de propaganda fide,” as well as by Pope Clement XII. Pope Innocent X confirmed this revelation as being from Our Lord.”

Promises made to those who pray this devotion are as follows:
  • The soul who prays them suffers no Purgatory.
  • The soul who prays them will be accepted among the Martyrs, as though he had spilled his blood for his faith.
  • The soul who prays them can choose three others whom Jesus will then keep in a state of grace sufficient to become holy.
  • No one in the four successive generations of the soul who prays them will be lost.
  • The soul who prays them will be made conscious of his death one month in advance.

Opening Prayer
O Jesus, now I wish to pray the Lord’s Prayer seven times in unity with the love which You sanctified this prayer in Your Heart. Take it from my lips into Your Divine Heart. Improve and complete it so much that it brings as much honor and joy to the Trinity as You granted it on earth with this prayer. May these pour upon Your Holy Humanity in glorification to Your painful wounds and the Precious Blood that You spilled from them.

Once again I am touched by the magnanimous gesture of Jesus’s Heart. I pray. He holds my prayer in His Sacred Heart and makes it the best prayer in the entire world – improving and completing it with God’s omnipotent love. He unites my prayer to the Father and Spirit, making it one with the Holy Trinity. He gifts my prayer to all mankind, that they may benefit from imperfect words uttered in haste or spoken out of habit. He glorifies His painful wounds through my all too human actions, offered in love – but ever imperfect, as is the state of my condition as a member of the human race. Jesus pours out healing from the wounds He suffered on our behalf, and we are blessed. I am blessed…

By His love, mercy and sacrifice for my soul.

Thank you for visiting Being Catholic.
Until next time, I wish you every good thing.

M. J.

Photo credit:  Vestiture of St. Bridget, Lorenzo Lotto (1480 – 1556), Web Gallery of Art, Oratorio di Villa Suardi, PD - US
©2013 All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Lord, hear our prayer…

by M. J. Joachim 

They are those moments that define your life, seemingly innocent events that knock you to your core, making it impossible to ignore how truly sensitive you really are…loving much will do that to you every time. 

People are hurting. Most face their fears every day, while dismissing the pain around them. As a species, we’ve become well adept at muddling through, denying it (whatever it may be) to keep on going, until one day, we simply can’t escape reality anymore. 

We end up screaming, but we can’t hear our own voices. The noise is deafening to those around us. They see it, not knowing what to do – each man must walk his own path. Each path is a winding road with boulders, unknowns and a destination.

Recently, the unknowns for two very special people in my life have revealed themselves. Perhaps it is a glimpse of what’s to come, or maybe it’s merely a trial with limited impact. Regardless, I must pray. I am not alone, however, and I ask that you join your prayers to mine, God’s will be done with peace, comfort and hope in whatever is to come.

Thankfully, their screams beckoned action from the outside world, God’s comfort showing them, they are not and never will be alone. For now, there is great uncertainty. For now, we wait, pray and trust that all is as it should be and everything will be okay – the power of prayer in earnest.

Thank you for visiting Being Catholic.

M. J. 

Photo credit:  M. J. Joachim
©2013 All Rights Reserved

Monday, February 25, 2013

Called to Serve through the Power of Love

by M. J. Joachim

The answer is love. People are hurting – broken, all around us. Everywhere we look, people are clinging to hope with no guarantees. Upon closer inspection of our own lives, it is easy to see the etched lines, where breakage threatens to surface, shattering our worlds. Yes, we too are hurting, but not so much that we can’t do our part to ease the pain of others.

Yet I am still drawn to love through so many sources. My recent choice of books brings me back to the basic, necessary concept, of love. My husband and I are watching Cadfael on the television these days. Again, love seems to be the overriding theme. Helping others more than ourselves, living without reservation for our fellow man. Being fair in our judgment and discernment and offering comfort to everyone – be it through a kind word, open heart or willing service, ever attentive to their needs.

What gains a man to conquer other men, empty and devoid of feeling for their plight? How do such men survive, willing and inflicting suffering on others? For it is not glory or gratitude they receive from men, but rather contempt and blatant disregard. Emotions run high, until they are numbed to the point of no return – at which time they no longer cast against their own soul. For they have fought the enemy and survived.

Yes, it is trial and tribulation while we live – often at the hands of those with little to no respect for human life. We stagger and fall under their oppression. We get back up again with wobbly knees and stand tall, turning our backs on their cruelty and misplaced power – for no man dominates another, except by the power of God.

Once again, love is the answer. For it is the power of God that allowed Herod’s false power to be one tool utilized for our salvation through the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord. It was man’s cruel response to the only thing that ever should have mattered, and God’s ultimate gift that made everything okay, despite the misguided ingratitude of men.

Thank you for visiting Being Catholic.
Until next time, I wish you every good thing.

M. J.

Photo credit:  The Crucifixion (Genoa), Simon Vouet (1590 – 1649), PD – KONST, PD - US
©2013 All Rights Reserved

Friday, February 22, 2013

Catholic Popes: Pope Pius I (Our 10th Pope)

by M. J. Joachim

The idea that Christianity was meant to replace, as opposed to fulfill, Judaism seems to be one of the most widely spread controversies during the foundation of the early church. So far, all the popes we’ve covered have had to deal with numerous groups – confused by Christianity to the point of forcefully challenging it, and trying to rid society of such a problematic system.

The Church, however, remained steadfast and resourceful in her early days, gaining great power and influence, thanks in large part to emperors supporting her endeavors. As we know, not all emperors did so. Consequently, many apostles and believers were sacrificed and martyred for their faith in Christian Catholicism.

“Pius I was the first of the listed popes to have functioned as the single, or sole, Bishop of Rome.” (Lives of Popes, McBrien) Prior to this interval, even though there was one particular pontiff and head of the Church, leadership appeared to be more group oriented, as in a Board of Directors vs. Sole Proprietor of a company or business.

Worthy of note is that numerous references indicate Pope Pius I established the rules of conversion from Judaism to Christianity. Christian teaching gained momentum during the reign of Pope Pius I, while heresies and heretics combating the faith, were reprimanded and excommunicated as necessary.

By most accounts, Pope Pius I is said to have reigned from 140 – 155 (give or take a year or two). Some sources indicate he was born a slave, though this is cause for debate in other sources. A few references state that Pope Pius I built one of the oldest churches in Rome and was martyred. Conflicts to both of these statements arose in my research, so it remains unclear on these points.

Thank you for visiting Being Catholic.
Until next time, I wish you every good thing.

M. J.


Lives of the Popes, McBrien, ©1997

Photo credit:  Wikipedia, PD – US
©2013 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Claude de la Colombière, Confessor to St. Margaret Mary – Visionary of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

by M. J. Joachim

Imagine if you will, a young nun performing her daily duties, while having strange visions and hearing voices in her head. She is completely devoted to Christ, second guessing these things, perhaps considering them a spiritual trial. Plagued by the visions and words she’d hear, Sr. Margaret Mary speaks to her Mother Superior, a woman who is cautious, but has some vague belief in what she might be saying.

Meanwhile, all the other nuns start to notice something is different about Sr. Margaret Mary. Intentionally or not, they begin to ostracize her and treat her unkindly, thinking she’s just a little too weird and not as much like they are as she should be.

Mother Superior tries to help by providing a knowledgeable confessor. Unfortunately, the particular priest she chose believes Sr. Margaret Mary’s visions are of the devil and indicates this must be a test from God. Sr. Margaret Mary is already very frightened, but this makes her all the more anxious.

France was having a difficult enough time dealing with break-offs from the Church. Reformers, Protestants and various other groups were challenging Catholicism – wars were highly charged, many in the name of defending God.

Here’s this little nun, utterly confused and full of self-doubt in the worst way, until one day, Fr. Claude de la Colombrière was sent to preach at the Visitation convent. Sr. Margaret Mary was instructed (in her heart – she heard a voice again) to confess to Fr. Claude, who immediately affirmed her apparitions and supported her cause to spread devotion to the Sacred Heart.

True story! This is how it all started. Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus has become one of the most widely honored and loved devotions in the Catholic Church, because one holy and devout priest, gave a simple nun, who most people thought was crazy, the benefit of the doubt!

That’s all for now.
Thank you for visiting Being Catholic,

M. J.

Photo credit:  Claude de la Colombière, Public Domain
©2013 All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

St. Jean Eudes, Founder of Public Devotion to the Sacred Hearts

by M. J. Joachim
St. Jean Eudes was a humble priest, devoted to serving the public and promoting devotion to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Catholics were severely oppressed in France, during the time Fr. Jean Eudes faithfully ministered to those in need of his services. “In addition to the activities of an incessant and many-sided apostolate, he wrote a number of valuable books, which rank him among the most prolific ascetic writers of the seventeenth century.” (Preface – The Sacred Heart of Jesus)

According to Catholic Culture, “St. John Eudes (1601 – 1680), however, is the founder of the modern public devotion to the Two Hearts,” in reference to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. “It was his mission to organize the scriptural, theological, patristic, and liturgical sources relating to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary and to popularize them with the approbation of the Church.”

St. Jean Eudes was practicing, promoting and writing about devotion to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, before St. Margaret Mary beheld her apparitions about it. As the author of the liturgical worship and Divine Office of the Sacred Hearts, he worked with St. Margaret Mary in establishing the universal Feast of the Sacred Heart within the Catholic Church.

St. Claude de la Combiere, for those remembering reference to him earlier this week, was St. Margaret Mary’s confessor. His role in determining the validity of her apparitions comes into play, and will be expanded upon in a future post.

It is important to note that St. Jean Eudes stressed the unity of the hearts of Mother and Son, in his writings and establishment of liturgical worship surrounding them. Think of the bond between these two souls – one divine, the other chosen to be His holy Mother. More importantly, it was the force of strongest love that brought these two together.

Jesus was born of Mary to fulfill love’s purpose and offer salvation to all souls. “Since His love is boundless, He would be ready to lay down His life throughout the whole universe as He did upon Calvary. Since His love is eternal and infinite, He would be ready to make the sacrifice over and over again, if it were possible, and with infinite suffering.” (St. Jean Eudes)

Devotion to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary is one of the most popular in the Catholic Church. It is a natural response to the omnipotent love we have received from God. Lest we forget the promise of the Giver, it is necessary at this juncture to share the promises Jesus made to St. Margaret Mary, during His apparitions expressing the desire for people to be devoted to His Sacred Heart.

  1. I will give them all the graces necessary for their state in life.
  2. I will establish peace in their families.
  3. I will bless every house in which the picture of my heart shall be exposed and honored.
  4. I will console them in all their difficulties.
  5. I will be their refuge during life and especially at the hour of their death.
  6. I will shed abundant blessings upon all their undertakings.
  7. Sinners shall find in My heart a fountain and boundless ocean of mercy.
  8. Tepid souls shall become fervent.
  9. Fervent souls shall rise speedily to great perfection.
  10. I will give to priests the power of touching the hardest hearts.
  11. Those who propagate this devotion shall have their names written in My heart never to be blotted out.
  12. I promise thee, in the excessive mercy of My heart, that My all-powerful love will grant to all who communicate on the first Friday of the month for nine consecutive months, the grace of final penitence; they shall not die in My displeasure nor without their sacraments: My divine heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.

Thank you for visiting Being Catholic.
I’ll look forward to seeing you again soon,

M. J.

Photo credit:  Jean Eudes portrait, PD – US, PD - OUD
©2013 All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Profound Meaning of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

by M. J. Joachim

Perhaps the most profound thing about the Sacred Heart of Jesus is that it emphasizes God’s mercy and desire to have a personal relationship with people. Growing up with “fire & brimstone,” I can assure you, God was to be feared much more than loved.

The entire concept evades me. Here is our God, who sent His only son to be crucified for our salvation. How do you reasonably fear someone like that? Is there any validity in casting God as a villain, when throughout the Bible, He exposes such villains, reprimanding them in turn?

The Church was frustrated and in turmoil when Jesus revealed the importance of His Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary. In fact, the institution was trying to keep control of a situation, while Jesus was responding in love, showing the wounds He suffered and carried in His heart of hearts on our behalf.

Finding Jesus in the Temple, the fifth joyful mystery of the rosary, btw, readily comes to mind. This God called to account the Pharisees misusing their power in the name of worshipping God. There was no fight. He simply loved them into deeper understanding, acknowledging that some would be incapable of understanding at all. Some would actually make a conscious choice to be blind.

The Catholic Church is an amazing organization, so long as it remains true to the faith it represents. Throughout our history, we’ve sometimes missed the opportunity to show Christ’s love as He taught us, by focusing on His sacrifice and mercy.

However, if one examines history a little bit closer, it’s easy to see that Christ was not a force to be reckoned with, until His mission was completely misrepresented. (The Gospel of Matthew 21:12 comes to mind, where Jesus drove out the people buying and selling in the temple.)

One cannot serve two masters. The Sacred Heart of Jesus is about love, sacrifice and salvation. It is not about power, control or financial gain, posterity and security. 

Conflict arises when people miss the point and get off track. Jesus quickly calls them back to the truth, through invocation and devotion to His Sacred Heart.

Thank you for visiting Being Catholic.

Until next time, I wish you every good thing,

M. J.

Photo credit:  San Michele Santa Margherita Maria Alacoque, Giovanni Destefannis, GNU Free Documentation License
©2013 All Rights Reserved

Monday, February 18, 2013

Physical and Spiritual Communion

by M. J. Joachim

The Eucharist, the sacrament of our salvation accomplished by Christ on the cross, is also a sacrament of praise and thanksgiving for the work of creation. In the Eucharistic sacrifice the whole of creation loved by God is presented to the Father through the death and the resurrection of Christ. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1359)

Quotes like the aforementioned remind me of a story I read long ago about St. Margaret Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I don’t remember the title of the book, nor do I remember exact phrases and words therein. What I do remember is that exercising spiritual communion took on new meaning for me.

In a particular part of the book, St. Margaret Mary asked our Lord about not being able to receive frequent communion, because she was so sick. Jesus told her a story about a cup filled with gold and a cup filled with silver. He asked her which was more precious. She told Him that both were extremely precious, so she couldn’t be sure. Jesus explained to her that she was right. Both silver and gold are very precious indeed – just like receiving Jesus physically through the sacrament of Holy Communion, or receiving Him spiritually by inviting Him into one’s heart.

The point is that we can and always should have Jesus with us, through communion with Him. While it is true that we should receive Him frequently at Mass through the Eucharist, we also should receive Him as often as possible through the exercise of asking Him to enter our hearts through Spiritual Communion.

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque was born in 1647 in France, at a time when divisions from the Catholic Church were becoming more and more problematic. The protestant movement to separate from the Church was strengthening, while a few heresies were rearing their ugly heads, as well.

Margaret Mary suffered the loss of her father when she was only eight years old, and was sent to live with some nuns in a convent, because her mother did not have the means to care for all seven of her children. During her time in the convent, Margaret Mary also suffered a severe rheumatic illness, which kept her in bed for several years.

Her illness prevented her from attending Mass on a regular basis, which grieved her very much, since she was unable to receive Jesus through the sacrament of Holy Communion. Perhaps this relates to the part I remember so well in the book I read. Jesus consoled Margaret Mary assuring her that her love for Him did not go unnoticed, and that she was in fact communing with Him quite frequently on a very personal level.

St. Margaret Mary became a nun. Saints Margaret Mary, and Jesuit priests and writers, Jean Eudes and Claude de la Columbiere, were chosen to promote devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, during this difficult time in our Catholic Church history. “On repeated occasions, Jesus appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, a Visitation nun, in France, and during these apparitions He explained to her the devotion to His Sacred Heart as He wanted people to practice it.” (EWTN Devotionals)

Throughout this week, I will be sharing more about devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, as well as writing a biographical post on our tenth pope. Please join me on this journey and share your thoughts and feelings in the comments.

Thank you for visiting Being Catholic.

Until next time, I wish you every good thing,

M. J.

Photo credit:  Batoni Sacred Heart, Pompeo Batoni (1708 – 1787), PD - US
©2013 All Rights Reserved

Saturday, February 16, 2013

God’s Creation at Work in My Backyard

by M. J. Joachim

I spent some time in the garden today, and simply have to share what I found!

I didn’t plant these daffodil and hyacinth bulbs here. I actually pulled all mine from a completely different area of the garden last fall, and planted them in pots, way on the other side of the yard.

My broccoli plants fascinate me. They were first planted last spring, over where the new daffodils and hyacinth are growing now. I transplanted them last summer, since most of them survived the extreme heat of summer here (110+ degrees from July – September), and they seemed to need a bit more shade. They’ve been producing for nearly a year now. I leave some to flower. The bees love them and never bother me when I water.

My cabbage and snow peas are preparing for a fabulous spring harvest. I’ll admit to eating the outside cabbage leaves for the past few months already.  Oh, and check out these radishes. We’ve been eating radishes for months now. I’m letting these go to seed and flower, for the bees and other little critters that visit my yard.

As for these potato plants…

Their arrival is always a surprise to me. This is the second year I’ve found large, healthy potato plants growing in my compost pile. Last year’s crop was positively delicious.

Isn’t God and everything He creates absolutely amazing?!

Until next time, I wish you every good thing.

Thank you for visiting Being Catholic today,

M. J.

©2013 All Rights Reserved

Friday, February 15, 2013

Catholic Popes: Pope Hyginus (Our 9th Pope)

by M. J. Joachim

Turmoil and heresy appear to be the themes of Pope Hyginus’s reign. Christianity was beginning to make its move to center around Rome. Cerdo and Gnostic Valentinus were posing severe challenges, to the point that Cerdo was actually excommunicated from the Church, for denying Christ and claiming there were two gods – one good, the other cruel.

Gnostic Valentinus was on a Christian path, when by all accounts, he started his own spiritual movement, “Valentinus was one of the most influential Gnostic Christian teachers of the second century A.D. He founded a movement which spread throughout Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Despite persecution by the Catholic Church, the Valentinian School endured for over 600 years.” (The Gnostic Society Library)

Philosophy also seems to be a huge theme during Pope Hyginus’s pontificate. He himself was considered a philosopher, “Hyginus was a Greek from Athens with a background in philosophy. (Lives of the Popes, McBrien) By all accounts, it is implied that Hyginus philosophical background influenced his leadership in the Catholic Church, during its early years and formation.

Dates of Hyginus’s papacy are unclear, though, for the sake of clarity, records state he was pope from 138 – 142. Claims that he was a martyr are also disputed. Some records indicate he was a martyr and is buried near St. Peter’s tomb, while others say there is little or no evidence to back this up.

Pope Hyginus is listed as a saint in the Catholic Church. His feast day is January 11.

Thank you for visiting Being Catholic.
Until next time, I wish you every good thing,

M. J.

Photo credit:  St. Hyginus, Bocachete, Public Domain
©2013 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Regarding Ash Wednesday & Lent

by M. J. Joachim
Did you get your ash in church yesterday? Millions of Catholics throughout the world arrived in droves, to be marked with the sign of ashes on Ash Wednesday this year. Various words relating to turning toward Christ, following the Gospel, from dust whence we came, etc., accompanied the imprinting on their foreheads by priests, deacons and lay ministers.

For the next 40 days, the rest of the world has a reprieve from Catholic misbehavior! We’ve started our Lenten season, and everyone promises to be ultra good.

We won’t eat too much. We won’t drink too much. We won’t gossip, complain or swear. And to top it all off, we’ll give up eating meat on Friday’s, and maybe even fast a little.

Growing up Catholic, I watched this ritual play out every year. Thank God my dad never gave up smoking! That would have been far too painful for the rest of us, I can assure you.

Later on in life, I was exposed more to the liberal side of things. It’s about feel good, not sacrifice – psycho-babble putting a positive spin on it.

In reality, Ash Wednesday is a checkpoint for Catholics. It’s a day to reflect and remember who we are and what we are about. It’s the beginning of a season of reflection about who we are in relation (and in our relationship) with Christ and our faith. Ash Wednesday is not a Holy Day of Obligation, for those who might be wondering.

These outward signs are notions to help us build and foster that relationship, while improving our own lives. They’re not meant to be trivial bragging rights, glum sacrifices or painful exercises. They’re meant to help us become better people; if they don’t do that, they shouldn’t be practiced at all. If all they do is create pain for the people around us, because we truly aren’t ready to give up, whatever it is we give up, it makes perfect sense to skip the torture chamber and make everyone happy all around.

Ash Wednesday and Lent are opportunities in the Catholic Church. They’re invitations, much like when Jesus called his apostles to follow Him. “What good can come from a Nazorean?” (John 1:46) Take a gamble and find out!

Thank you for visiting Being Catholic,

M. J.

Photo credit:  Ashes imposed on forehead of Christian on Ash Wednesday, Jennifer Balaska, Public Domain
©2013 All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A – Zing through My Blogs Part 3

Welcome to part 3 of A – Zing through My Blogs. WritingTips (Part 1) was a fun place to start this little trek, followed by Effectively Human (Part 2).

As implied on Effectively Human, this blog has gone through a bit of a growing cycle. It’s the blog that challenges me to let it all hang out. Faith is personal, after all, and if we’re lucky, we become better human beings by including a spiritual element to our lives.

No offense to those who don’t believe in God. I do, and since this blog is titled Being Catholic, you can assume this blog will be based on faith and my spiritual journey.

However, this blog is not limited to me, me, me…

I’m fascinated by the early church, church history, popes and numerous other things related to the Catholic Church and faith. Because of this, I’ve immersed myself in research on a variety of topics relating to Catholicism, including biographies of the popes (I believe we’re on #9 – I’ll be posting about him before the week is finished), church news & activities, prayers, bible study etc. etc. etc.

Naturally, faith lends itself to inspiration, expression and talents. Creativity knows no bounds where I’m concerned, which is why I started Lots of Crochet Stitches.

What began as a simple idea of making patterns and stitches easier for everyone to understand, has grown into one of the best things I ever started. Go on now. Check out A – Zing through My Blogs, Part 4 on Lots of Crochet Stitches. This isn’t merely crochet tutorials. This is my true creative artistry at work, analyzed, fine-tuned and shared on a blog.

Thank you for visiting Being Catholic,

M. J.

©2013 All Rights Reserved

Monday, February 11, 2013

Pope Benedict XVI Resigns

by M. J. Joachim
It seems fitting to join the barrage of online information regarding Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation. He’s the first pope to do so since the early 1400’s.

I’ve always wondered how top leaders handle aging and the toll it takes on one physically and mentally, with their responsibilities. Effective leadership demands a clear mind and heart – physical woes can be adapted, but the mind and heart must remain intact, with full clarity of all faculties.

For whatever reason, advanced age being the one cited by the Pope, it gives me a deep sense of peace knowing Pope Benedict made a thoughtful decision as a true global leader. In determining what is best for the Catholic Church and our faith, he opted to step down, because in his heart of hearts, he knew he couldn’t continue as he needed to.

Pope Benedict also said he will continue to serve through a life of prayer. This gives me great comfort. Never underestimate the power of prayer. This world may look like the here and now, but there is so much more to it – things the eye cannot see, unless it looks through the lens of the soul.

Please pray for Pope Benedict XVI and for our future pope also. Easter is a season of renewal. Catholics throughout the world will be celebrating this year, with a new pope ushering in a season of change. May it please God to bless this anticipatory time in our Church.

Thank you for visiting Being Catholic.
Until next time, I wish you every good thing,

M. J.

Photo credit: Benedict XVI, Kancelaria Prezydenta RP, GNU Free Documentation License
©2013 All Rights Reserved

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Praying through Nightmares

by M. J. Joachim
Two very simple prayers, the Prayer of the Miraculous Medal and an utterance from Divine Mercy, are my lifelines throughout my daily life.

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

Jesus I trust in you.

These are the words that sustain me when nothing else will.

Last night I had a nightmare – I rarely have dreams, let alone nightmares. Shaking, I quietly prayed these words, then turned to my husband and said, “I’m scared.”

He hugged me. I continued praying quietly, so as not to disturb him further. He asked if I was alright; I told him yes, but that I’d had a nightmare. He held me tighter and we both went back to sleep.

This morning I woke up early. As I made the coffee and thought about my nightmare, I prayed my favorite words. I was okay and I knew it. Peace was within reach, even though the nightmare had scared me terribly.

Working through my thoughts throughout the day, with computer ever at my fingertips, I looked up the symbolism of my dream. It was about a power struggle – I was working out changes which would make me a healthier soul.

I say soul because the things that hold me back most in life, are scars I had no power to prevent. They are wounds, imprinted deeply – wounds that left an indelible mark, pains and fears that have held the power to diminish my capacity to be who I was created to be.

This is my path, the journey I was born to take. At times, it is my cross and curse. Last night’s nightmare proved I’m not invincible. Yes, I’m tough. I’ve had to be, but I’m not made of steel. I made choices in my dream, choices that didn’t prevent the pain, but empowered me to stand up and walk, in spite of it.

For years, I’ve carried wounds from the past into my present and future…not like a badge of honor – more like I didn’t know what else to do with them. They were a part of me. They made me who I am contributed to who I have become. God made me who I am, and God alone has the power to mold my soul.

That’s all for now kind followers.
Until next time, I wish you every good thing.

M. J.

Photo credit: Miraculous Medal, Catholic Church, Public Domain; Divine Mercy Sanctuary, Vilnius, Alma Pater, GNU Free Documentation License
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