Category Archives: Catholicism

5 Things You Should Do at the End of Mass

In my five years of blessings as a contributor at ATX Catholic, I have taken one post per year to write something that is not a review. Instead, I write about something a little closer to my heart. They’re more like the things I post at my personal blog.

  • In my very first post, I introduced myself and expressed a desire that we not just show our Christianity through our love, but through perhaps more obvious signs.
  • In 2012, I wrote about media discernment for Catholics. Yes, I still watch Grey’s Anatomy. I’m in until the bitter end at this point.
  • In 2013, I wrote about preparing for Mass. I still do all of those things, although I’ve moved my pre-Mass readings a little earlier, and I read the Gospel in Spanish.
  • In 2014, I gushed about why I love Augustinian spirituality. I’m still enamored with Augustine.
  • Last year, I wrote about preparing for and going to Confession. I’m still a sinner.

So first, I offer a big thank you to ATX Catholic for having me as a contributor for such a long time, and a thank you to everyone who has been reading, even if this is your first post.

red door

Welcome! Welcome back! Stay for the rest of this post… and for the rest of Mass.

This year, I’d like to share my tips for what to do at the end of Mass.

Read them at ATX Catholic.

For Women Only… and A Little Bit for Men (Review: “Discovering the Feminine Genius”)

I finally found a book about women’s spirituality that is (a) not about single life and (b) one I like! That is a rare find. I read (and write) a lot about being a single Catholic woman. There’s a market for it. There’s also a need for materials that explore women’s spirituality, but that usually turns into stuff for moms. I stop short of demanding that everyone cater to my needs, but it stings to feel left out. I am delighted to share that, through the kindness of a good friend, I stumbled across the book I’ve been looking for: Discovering the Feminine Genius: Every Woman’s Journey, by Katrina J. Zeno. In it, I finally began to discover what this whole “feminine genius” thing is about, how it applies to me, and how it fits into my real life and relationships in the light of the Theology of the Body.

Zeno begins her book with basic questions of identity formation, the same thing that starts plaguing us in adolescence. We all ask, “Who am I?” Zeno’s revolutionary (at least to me) answer is that we are first daughters of God, and then the bride of Christ. One of the nice things about still being single is that I’ve had no other choice than to form my identity as a woman without a man, as a daughter of God rather than the wife of my husband. (I also have a fantastic earthly father.) Zeno shares her own process of learning to find a new identity when the plan she’d built so carefully started to unravel. Her skill as a writer and storyteller is apparent; she starts with her own story, but she never made me as a reader feel disconnected just because my story is different than hers.

circle of women

photo by Ashley Webb

Read the rest at ATX Catholic.

Mercy, Justice, and the Truth (Review: “To Render the Deeds of Mercy”)

I don’t understand the Jubilee Year of Mercy, but I’m trying to. I love learning, so, as I said on my panel during the ATX Catholic Retreat, I’m taking this year as an opportunity to learn what mercy means. I encounter tons of media already, so my learning mostly consists of keeping my eyes and ears open for any discussion of what mercy means. I’m especially curious about how it relates to forgiveness and justice. We’ve got three words, so there must be some room within there for shades of meaning and nuances of the Faith.

My latest foray into understanding mercy comes from one of my favorite magazines, First Things, and one of my favorite authors, Mr. William Shakespeare. Maybe my buddy the Holy Spirit tossed this one into my path, since this is the only Jubilee Year of Mercy I’m aware of, it was just Pentecost, and it was just the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth. Then again, maybe I just read widely and Bishop James Conley, of the Diocese of Lincoln, is just a timely writer, offering us “To Render the Deeds of Mercy.”

Cristo Redentor statue

The title, as well as the essay’s opening, comes from The Merchant of Venice. Portia’s monologue that begins “The quality of mercy is not strain’d” is often considered poetic in and of itself. As Bishop Conley notes, it is also theological. By pointing out that experiencing the fullness of God’s justice would leave us all goners, so it’s a good thing we have God’s mercy, Shakespeare connects us to similar thoughts by St. Anselm:

Anselm concluded that both punishment and mercy are a part of God’s justice. We are justly punished because we are sinners. And God is just in mercy because mercy reflects the goodness of God’s nature. Anselm wrote: “When you [God] punish the wicked, it is just, since punishment agrees with their circumstance; and when you spare the wicked, it is also just; since mercy befits your goodness.”

I have to say, that’s the first time I’ve ever heard mercy connected with justice in a way that makes sense to me. Read the rest at ATX Catholic.

Pentecost, Inspiration, and Hope

It’s almost Pentecost! I developed a great relationship with the Holy Spirit when I was in undergrad, so Pentecost is one of my favorite feasts. For some reason, it pulls other people who like to dress liturgically out of the woodwork: we all wear red. Join me on all the other Sundays! It’s awesome!

In all seriousness, Pentecost gives me an opportunity to pray for discernment and to reflect on virtue and the gifts of the Spirit as I pray the Original Novena between Ascension Thursday and Pentecost Sunday.

fire_flames

A few notes:

  • A novena is nine consecutive days of prayer for a particular intention. Some novenas require the same prayer for all nine days; some add a reflection that changes day by day.
  • The origin of the novena is the nine days that the apostles and Mary spent in prayer between Jesus’ ascension into heaven (which we just celebrated) and the descent of the Holy Spirit.
  • We call the celebration of the descent of the Holy Spirit “Pentecost” after the Jewish feast of the same name, which was occurring at the same time. The people from various regions and countries listed in Acts 2:5–11 were in Jerusalem for that feast.
  • In most of the U.S., the celebration of the Solemnity of the Ascension was moved to Sunday. The timeline of the Pentecost novena does not change.
  • I like to pray the Novena of the Seven Gifts. There are plenty of other options. It’s the timeline, not the prayers, that makes this novena the novena.

Therefore, I am steeped in contemplation on and with the Holy Spirit right now. It is in this spirit (pun intended) that I offer my reflections on the Holy Spirit, hope, and encouragement.

[Read the rest at ATX Catholic].(http://atxcatholic.com/index.php/2016/05/pentecost-inspiration-hope/)

Redemption Through Reflection (Review: “Remembering God’s Mercy”)

We all have memories of things we’d rather forget. Some things are embarrassing. Some are painful. Some are traumatic. Dawn Eden is no stranger to the latter, as she revealed in her previous books about chaste love (The Thrill of the Chaste and its recent Catholic edition) and about healing sexual wounds with the help of the saints. Many times, we are tempted to avoid even thinking about terrible things we have experienced. For those who experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), just not thinking about it is not an option. Rather than try to avoid these memories, Eden encourages readers to redeem their pain. The One who redeemed our fallen human race can take our painful memories and turn them into opportunities for purification. With some help from St. Ignatius of Loyola, Pope Francis, and a few other heavenly witnesses, Eden offers Remembering God’s Mercy, a rich guide to healing memories and opening ourselves up to the grace of God.

flower-letters-memories

Public domain image from Pixabay.

Read the rest at ATX Catholic.

How Bad Catechesis Happened and How to Fix It (Review of Msgr. Charles Pope)

You can take the teacher of out of the classroom, but you can’t take the teacher out of the heart. It has been many years since I taught full-time. I still have the heart of a teacher. My work with RCIA while I was in campus ministry was one of the best ways I’ve discovered to combine my background in education, my love for Jesus Christ, and my call to serve the Church and the world. Classroom teaching and campus ministry aren’t things I’m interested in doing full-time right now. Someday, though, God willing, I hope to get married and raise up some little souls of my own. I might not be the one who teaches my children how to write a five-paragraph essay (although I absolutely still could), but I hope to be one of the ones who teaches them about Jesus.

child-reading-bible

CC0 from Unsplash.

When I was in grad school, it was impressed upon us that parents are the primary educators of their children. As Catholic school teachers, we were outsourced labor. Valuable, enthusiastic, subject-matter expert labor, but outsourced nonetheless. Ideally, parents would educate their own children in all things, and especially in the things of the Lord. It is this point that Msgr. Charles Pope of the Archdiocese of Washington stresses in his recent essays about the four big mistakes we’ve made with catechesis and how to fix them. Although, there is no cure-all solution to generations of catechetical weakness, his idea is a step in the right direction.

Read the rest at ATX Catholic.

We Are All Teachers of Virtue (A Response to Archbishop Cordileone’s “Knowledge, Virtue, and Holiness”)

You may remember the news headlines about Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. They focused on the bristling of some archdiocesan school teachers at the prospect of having to sign a statement affirming their support of the Catholic faith. As a former Catholic high school teacher myself, I thought it was much ado about nothing. I signed a similar statement when I was teaching. It was made clear to all us faculty that, as part of the mission of our Catholic school, we were expected not to do anything to publicly contradict Church teaching. Furthermore, the Catholics among us were expected to be examples of adult faith, and all of us were there to educate the whole person.

That was true when I was a teacher by profession, and it remains true now that I am only a teacher at heart.

books on stairs

The bottom line is that Catholic education ought to be about more than just testing, numbers, and classrooms. As I learned in ed school, we teach students subjects, so we teach students first. Do you realize that, as an adult (or even a member of your parish’s youth group mentoring younger kids), you are a teacher, too?

I recently read the full text of an address that Archbishop Cordileone gave at a convocation of Catholic high school teachers, titled “Knowledge, Virtue, and Holiness”, just over a year ago. I found it inspiring. It spoke to my heart as a lifelong educator and as a Christian. I hope to share some of the archbishop’s inspiration with you.

Read the rest at ATX Catholic.

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