My Head is Spinning!

Please excuse the mind dump here but it has been a strange week and this is me keeping it real! I feel like I have done a 40 days worth of Lent in just 5-6 days. LOL!

My head is spinning!

Image by DWilliams (2015) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

If you are an email subscriber and opened the email for your private password for the month, you know that my computer crashed on Monday. I don’t know how it happened because I am very careful and have a very powerful anti-virus software. But it did. I think if I didn’t have the software it would have been worse but I it was bad enough! I wound up having to do a complete system restore to bring the computer back to its factory default. 🙁

It literally took all week because I had to do all the Windows updates from the last six years which was 260+ (and those didn’t even include the optional updates!). While updating, there were other problems because it was causing a drain on the computer’s RAM. And truthfully, I haven’t technically finished because I still have to reinstall my printers and some software problems.

On top of this, my poor husband’s work truck (18 wheeler) broke down in California. Not just once, however. Oh, no. It broke down THREE times! And the third time it broke down my husband was on one of the LA airport runways! To make it worse, while waiting for the truck to be prepared he feel and had to go to the hospital. It turned out that he “broke” his back. He chipped his tailbone but there is nothing they could do about it but give him some non-drowsy pain meds (so he can drive) and some other meds for sleeping. I just can’t wait for him to get home!

But, the BIGGEST reason my head is spinning is for a good thing! This weekend was the Catholic Writer’s Guild’s annual writer’s conference and I am SO GRATEFUL to God that my computer was fixed in time (mostly)! The conference went from Friday, 8:30am-10:30 pm; Saturday, 8:30am-10:30pm, and Sunday 12 noon-10:30pm! Each session was about an hour long with a half-hour buffer between. Basically, I sat glued to the computer for three days. 🙂

I absorbed A LOT of information and I have a lot to process. The conference covered everything from time management to social media to book cover design to literary revolution! I hope to share some takeaways soon after I’ve had time to go over my notes and make some order out of them.

Anyway, please say a prayer that Michael feels better soon! Thanks and God bless. 🙂

Mercy Bible Study: Session 1 Reflection

How did you make out with the readings? Interesting, right?! This is going to be a great study!

Mercy Bible Study Session 1 Reflection

Image by ToniaD (2015) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

In Session One, Fr. Mitch focuses on “human mercy” and broke each section down loosely based on three types of mercy: Wicked people whose mercy is really cruelty or merciless, so-called religious people whose mercy is selective (they will not forgive the “great sinners”), and the fact that people do not stay faithful to their commitment to principles, thus showing that God’s mercy is far greater than human mercy.

In writing about the wicked people who do not show mercy, Father points out the interconnection between mercy and forgiveness. You can not have one without the other. He uses scripture, especially Matthew 6:12-15. Father reminds us of Jesus’ words, “Forgive the wrongs done to you by a neighbor and your sins will be forgiven” (Pacwa, 22).

Next, Father Mitch goes on to relate healing with mercy and then finally he writes about how God’s mercy is infinitely more real and superior to human mercy. However, for this reflection, I want to focus on the aspect of forgiveness because it is something we (I) struggle with.

At the end of the chapter, one of the discussion questions is “What is the relationship of forgiveness to mercy? (pg 30)? Of course, when we read the chapter, we learn that the relationship between the two is everything. You can not have forgiveness without mercy and you can not have mercy without forgiveness. (Tweet This)

And yet, forgiveness can be SO HARD. When people hurt us (especially when we think the person hurt us on purpose), the last thing we think about is forgiving them. At least, not I! I grumble, nurse my wounds, and sometimes even wish revenge on the person. And yet, Jesus commands us to forgive, to show mercy. If we wish gain forgiveness we most offer forgiveness.

I guess, for some of us, our pride blinds us to the fact that we are sinners, too. We hurt people, either knowingly or unknowingly. We are in no position to judge or hold back forgiveness from others. Thus, is our mission in this year of mercy.

This chapter has challenged me. It has pushed me to remember my failings and to be more compassionate and merciful to those who most need it. What about you? What are your thoughts about the correlation between forgiveness and mercy? Was there something else in the chapter that struck a chord with you? Do share!

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Tweetable: Mercy Bible Study: Session 1 Reflection

You can’t have mercy without forgiveness or forgiveness without mercy

Why do Catholics Celebrate Ash Wednesday?

For many non-Catholics (and many NEW Catholics) Ash Wednesday can seem a little strange. Why would anyone want to walk around with ashes on their head all day? And many cradle Catholics have been going to mass and getting ashes every year without understanding why, as well.

Why Do Catholics Celebrate Ash Wednesday

Image by Balaska (2009) via Wikipedia, CCO Public Domain

What is the significance of Ash Wednesday?

Ash Wednesday is a day of prayer and repentance. We fast, we abstain from meat and we get ashes as a reminder of our human frailty. It is a day to remember the spiritual reality that surrounds us; we remember that our earthly life is only part of the journey. We will die and our bodies will “return to dust.”

Ash Wednesday is a gift. Yes, a gift. This day of repentance is a gift because it gives us the opportunity to take stock of our lives. It is almost like a “spiritual New Year” where we can assess our relationship with the Lord.

  • Have we grown in our relationship with the Lord over this past year?
  • Have I grown lax or lukewarm?
  • In what areas of my life do I need to change in order to become the person God wants me to be?

From this reflection, we can make “resolutions” or a plan of action for how we will spend our Lent this year. Instead of focusing on giving up coffee or sweets or whatever (which are good things in themselves), we can give up those habits or sins which are holding us back. Or we can make a plan to learn more about our faith or pray the scriptures more often.

Why Ashes?

There is a long history of the use of ashes as a sign of repentance. I encourage you to read the History of Ash Wednesday over at American Catholic.

As regards to the rite of ashes, it is very simple. We go up to the priest or whomever is distributing the ashes. He makes the sign of the cross (well, it should be a cross!) on our forehead while saying “Man you are dust and to dust your shall return” or a similar phrases. This phrase comes from Genesis 3:19

“By the sweat of your face shall you get bread to eat,

Until you return to the ground,

from which you were taken;

For you are dirt, and to dirt you shall return.”

Our Obligation

Ash Wednesday is not a holiday of obligation. We are not required to go to mass, but it is strongly recommended. And why wouldn’t we want to go if we are able?

We are obligated to abstain from meat and to fast today. The fasting requirement consists of one full meal and two smaller meals that equal one meal. No snacking or eating between meals. Of course, beverages are allowed.  Everyone over the age of 14 is required to abstain from meat and everyone between the ages of 18-60 are required to fast. (See Canon law 1250-1252) I think pregnant women are exempt, but not sure.

Related Links

Here are a couple of links for further reading.

New Advent

About.com

Fallible Blogma

I pray that today and your whole Lenten journey be a blessed and grace-filled time for you and your family!

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Tweetable: Why do Catholics Celebrate Ash Wednesday?

What are Indulgences in the Catholic Faith?

*I recently discussed why there is Purgatory. During my discussion, I mentioned that we can help the Souls in Purgatory by our prayers. Another way we can help us is through indulgences which I discuss in this re-post.

What are Indulgences in the Catholic Faith

One of my readers, Yiessa, asked me to “discuss the meaning of indulgences in the Catholic faith.” This is a good topic and a teaching of the Church that is sorely misunderstood by Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

What is an indulgence?

According to the Catechism of the Catholic church (scroll down to article 1471):

An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporary punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applied with authority the treasury of the satisfaction of Christ and the saints.

What does this mean? Let me see if I can explain it In layman’s terms, in the way it was explained to me by the sisters: When we go to the Sacrament of Confession and receive absolution our sins are forgiven and we are freed from the guilt of said sin; however, the effect of sin still remains on our soul, like a stain on our soul, if you will. This stain must be purified before we can be with God in heaven. When we “gain an indulgence” then that stain on our soul is either partially or completely taken away.

Does that make sense? Let me use an analogy with my son as an example. When my son breaks a house rule, such as have a temper tantrum or disobeys me, when he is remorseful and says sorry I forgive him. However, there is still a consequence for his actions. He goes in timeout or loses a privilege to “make satisfaction” for his bad behavior. As far as sin goes, sins have consequences and even though we are sorry and forgiven for our sin we still have to face the consequences of our actions – which is what “temporal punishment due to sin” means above. We go to purgatory to be purified and “make satisfaction” for the effects or stains of sin on our souls. When we perform the acts of indulgence it is as if we are making satisfaction here on earth as opposed to doing so in purgatory.

You see, God is all perfect and all holy. All that is not perfect and holy cannot enter heaven. When we die in the state of grace but still have the “remains” or “stain” of sin on our souls we go to purgatory to be purified before entering the full glory of heaven. Through the grace of Christ, and through the authority of the church, when we gain indulgences we have the opportunity to have some or all of the stains removed from our souls so that we can either lessen our time in purgatory or bypass purgatory all together.

What indulgences are not…

The New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia gives a good explanation of what an indulgence is not. It says,

To facilitate explanation, it may be well to state what an indulgence is not. It is not a permission to commit sin, nor a pardon of future sin; neither could be granted by any power. It is not the forgiveness of the guilt of sin; it supposes that the sin has already been forgiven. It is not an exemption from any law or duty, and much less from the obligation consequent on certain kinds of sin, e.g., restitution; on the contrary, it means a more complete payment of the debt which the sinner owes to God. It does not confer immunity from temptation or remove the possibility of subsequent lapses into sin. Least of all is an indulgence the purchase of a pardon which secures the buyer’s salvation or releases the soul of another from Purgatory. The absurdity of such notions must be obvious to any one who forms a correct idea of what the Catholic Church really teaches on this subject.”

In other words, a person can’t buy their way out of purgatory through indulgences, a person can’t have his or her sin forgiven with indulgences and a person can’t use indulgences as an excuse for sin: “Oh it doesn’t matter if I do ____. I can just get an indulgence and wipe it away.”

Indulgences are a gift that God has given us, through the authority of the Church, to help us on our road to heaven. It is meant to help us prepare our souls to be in the presence of the eternal and all holy Trinity. We should make use of this gift as often as we can!

I hope this helps. To read more about indulgences and help you deepen your understanding of them, next week I will post several links for further reading. And in another post after that, I will explain the difference between partial and plenary indulgences and the requirements for receiving an indulgence.

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Tweetable: What are Indulgences in the Catholic Faith

Product Review: Saint Scripts Series 3

I have had the privilege of reviewing a few of the products from Equipping Catholic Families such as Journey with the Saints, Lingo Bingo, and Super Saints. Andrew had a lot of fun with those products; therefore, when Monica offered me the chance to review the Saint Scripts Series 3, I readily agreed.

To be honest, when I first downloaded the product, I thought maybe they were a little too young for Andrew. He is 10 now and he is not into coloring very much. He has also gotten a little picky about what games he likes to play so I was concerned that he may give me a hard time about coloring/using the Saint Scripts. Wrong! I was way wrong. Andrew LOVED these cards!

Saint Scripts 3 Saint Brendan

Andrew looking through the cards

When he saw me cutting out the cards he said, “Oh, these are just like the other saint games we have!” Then he ran to get his colored pencils. It did my heart good to see him enthusiastically reading about each saint and then deciding that he wanted to color in Saint Brendan and Saint Gemma.

Saint Scripts Series 3

Andrew coloring in the blank cards of St. Brendan and St. Gemma

I haven’t gotten them laminated yet, but for now we are using the cards as flash cards so that Andrew can get to know some of the saints. I am also thinking of printing out a second set so with can use them as a sort of saint “go-fish” card game. (Go-Fish is still one of Andrew’s favorite card games!)

As always, Andrew wanted to have his say about the product and he said, “I really like the cards. Reading about the saints was fun. I don’t like to color but I didn’t mind coloring a couple of the saint cards. I want to use the cards to play a card game.

He also told me to give the product four (4) stars and I agree. The Saint Series 3 is lovely and would be a fun addition every catholic household. 🙂 *

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Tweetable: Product Review: Saint Scripts Series 3

*Thanks to Monica for providing me a complimentary copy of the Saint Scripts Series 3 printable. I was not required to give a positive review. My opinions are my own.

Our Home Education Curriculum for 2015-2016

I can’t believe that Andrew is officially in fifth grade. How did that happen?! In any case, in honor of his first day of school, I thought I would share what we will be doing this year.

Curriculum2015through2016

Over the last few years we tried several different things: including Catholic Heritage, and a mix-up of several sources. Personally, I loved Catholic Heritage but it was too workbook heavy for Andrew. He is all boy – very physical and needs to be actively involved with learning. I also needed to supplement the program a bit too much for our needs. Therefore, I stopped using this program after first grade and started to put my own classical curriculum together for a few years.

Now that Andrew is in fifth grade, I feel like I need to settle down and get more “academic.” I want to make sure that I do all I can to help him success in high school and beyond. I also feel like what we have been doing needs some tweaking again. Of course, all plans are subject to change, but here are our initial plans:

1. Our curriculum will be centered on Mother of Divine Grace. I am behind in getting him registered, but will be doing so this week. In particular, I will be signing Andrew up for some of the video classes which I hope he will love.

2. For math, we will continue with the Right Start Math program. We have been using it for a couple of years now and Andrew does really well with it. It is loaded with manipulatives and minimal with the worksheets. (Although, Andrew still moans and complains when he has to do them!)

3. For spelling, we are using All About Spelling. Andrew is behind and struggles with spelling. I’ve tried just about everything I can think of and I am so glad we found this program. We worked through level one in May and June and by the end, Andrew had already improved quite a bit. After we get through level two, I think I will do an in-depth review of the program.

4. For grammar, we may be continuing with Kiss Grammar. It is a free, all-inclusive, and in-depth grammar program. Andrew isn’t a huge fan of grammar in general and particularly thrilled with this program, but we are either going to stick with it for another year or use the grammar course through Mother of Divine Grace.

5. To supplement, and for extra help, we will be using currclick.com. There are a ton of free and paid clubs, classes, etc. that I plan to have Andrew participate it. This website comes highly recommended my one of my homeschooling co-op friends so I can’t wait to give it a try.

As for physical education, Andrew has “gym” for an hour once a week with our homeschool co-op, he also does hockey 3x week, and basketball 2x week. There will also be activities, classes and field trips with the co-op.

That’s about it! Looking at it, it looks like a lot, but most of the classes are only 15-20 minutes, so I am expecting it to be doable. If not, I will tweak/change as necessary.

If you are looking to homeschool or looking to tweak your current program, I hope posting my curriculum gives you some ideas.

 

First Friday Devotion

I sometimes feel like September is a “mini New Year’s” because the kids are going back to school, summer is fading into fall, and there is a “newness” of sorts in the air. New clothes, new shoes, new supplies, and a new chance to begin again. Do you get that feeling too, or is it just me?

Since posting the saints and feasts for September on Monday, I starting thinking that the fall can also be a new opportunity to start fresh spiritually, as well. If you let your prayer time go by the wayside, now is a great time to get it going again. As you prepare for your fall schedule, make sure you add time in to pray alone and/or as a family.

FirstFriday

Image by gracemazzaurbanski (2013) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

One way to do this is to commit to the First Friday Devotions. It is a very simple devotion and the only “requirement” is to go to Holy Mass and receive Holy Communion. Of course, there are other practices worth doing if you have the time.

If you can’t make it to Mass, you can certainly make a spiritual communion and say a small prayer such as “Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Thine.” Or, if you read this too late to go to Mass, mark the First Fridays on your calendar now so you won’t forget for next month.

While you are at it, tomorrow is First Saturday, so mark it on your calendars now to head to mass. (There are other requirements for First Saturday devotions which you can read here.)

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Tweetable: First Friday Devotion

Product Review: Super Saints Craft Kit and Giveaway

About the Super Saints Craft Kit

The Super Saints Craft kit is a set of 54 saint cards that gives families a fun way to learn about the lives of the saints. It also comes with rules for two games, Super Saints Stats and Super Saints Showdown.

Super-Saints-cover-54

My Comments

In the past, I have reviewed two products from Equipping Catholic families, Lingo Bingo and Journey with Jesus: Sacraments. Therefore, when I had the opportunity to review the Super Saints Craft kit, I was happy to do so. In addition, because I enjoyed Lingo Bingo and journey with Jesus, I had high standards for the kit. I am happy to report that the Super Saints Craft kit not only met my expectations, but exceeded them.

Now, I didn’t  have the time or have the chance to professionally print the cards at Staples or Office max, so I printed them out myself. I pretty much used up all my ink, but I wanted to try out the cards and get the review up in time for you to participate in the giveaway. It was worth it, and I’m glad I printed them out; however, I highly recommend you get them professionally printed and laminated so that they are sturdier and easier to play with.

And play we did! It was a lot of fun to play the games and I learned just as much as Andrew did about the saints. The craft gift is a game that we will play over and over again. The cards are adorable and contain simple and interesting facts that are easy to memorize.

Also, I can see the cards as being very versatile. For example, I am thinking that I may print out two copies of the cards and using them as Catholic version of “go fish.” They can also just be used as simple flash cards. I am pretty sure that those who are more creative than I will come up with better ideas of their own.

So, as you may have guessed, I definitely recommend the craft kit and give it four (4) stars.

The Giveaway

To celebrate the release of these Super Saints Craft Kits, Monica is hosting a giveaway. You can win a $40 gift card for any of the Catholic printables on equippingcatholicfamilies.com. The giveaway ends tomorrow (Thursday, August 20) at 11pm, so don’t delay in getting in your entry!

 

Have You Seen These “Dolls From Heaven?”

They are so cute! Seriously, they make me almost wish I had a daughter. LOL!

StTDoll

St. Therese

This doll of St. Therese is the first in a line of dolls to be created by the Kiczek family. The Kiczeks are a Catholic, pro-life family seeking to help raise up a generation of future saints! Besides the doll, there are even accessories, a book about St. Therese, and an additional outfit for purchase.

The additional outfit is an adorable “Sunday Best” outfit:

StTDoll2

The doll is affordable and no doubt will be a source of inspiration for your girls in helping them develop a relationship with the Lord.

You can preorder the book here and you can find more about the dolls here. (Make sure you watch the promotional video.)

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*I am NOT being compensated for this post nor am I an affiliate for this product. I am promoting these dolls because I think they would make a great addition to any Catholic family. I also love to do my part in supporting pro-life, catholic families. 🙂

Sunday Snippets: A Catholic Carnival (06/14/2015)

Sunday Snippets

It has feels like it has been forever since I’ve participated in Sunday Snippets! Now that I have graduated, I am happy to be back. Hopefully, I will be able to get back into regular and consistent blogging and participating here. I missed it!

So, to play catch up, here is the rundown of my post from the last few months:

Book Review: Together With You

Book Review: An Amish Cradle

The Saints and Feasts in June 2015

You Are Marvelous in His Eyes (Some encouragement for those who are struggling)

Book Review: Not Cool

The Sacred Heart = Compassion (must watch video!)

Blessings!