Saturday, January 26, 2013

Our Purpose in Life: A Catholic Perspective

I hear (and read) friends' questions such as "Who am I and what do I want out of life?" and "What's my purpose? Do I need a purpose?" I guess I've been too busy lately to contemplate these questions, or maybe it's just that I haven't needed to. After all, I know who and what I am, a child of God. But I don't like to see people floundering. I know how that feels.

When I decided to blog about these questions, I was at a loss as to how to answer them in a clear and eloquent way. On my own I came up with this:

My purpose, as a Catholic Christian woman, wife, and homeschooling mom, is plain--to serve God and my family, and to help others in various ways, i.e. praying, volunteering, donating food, clothing, or money to organizations that help the needy.

But not everyone has those particular vocations. What is the basic Catholic answer?

I did an "image" internet search-- "Catholic who am I." (I rarely Google in grammatically correct language.) The results were interesting: a few cards with variations of "I am a Catholic. In case of an emergency, call a priest" (because we need the blessing of the sick and/or Reconciliation), photos of priests holding signs saying "We can't wait for health care that protects life," and a many Rosary pictures, and other things (including some not so nice sentiments).

My favorite was a C.S. Lewis photo with a quote:

“I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.”

Of course, C.S. Lewis wasn't Catholic, though he was one of the greatest Christian apologists in recent history.

So, the verdict is-- We are called to seek the Sacraments, defend life, pray, and (if C.S. Lewis is correct) do things that are difficult, uncomfortable, or downright unpleasant. Gee, that doesn't square with what the world tells us--"Do whatever makes you feel happy."

I don't know how "happy" I feel when I'm cleaning up a child's throw-up at 2am. I don't always feel like donating money to feed the poor or volunteering my time to organize some homeschooling group. I mean, I get gratification in knowing I was useful in some way, but it's not always a barrel of laughs, or as C.S. Lewis puts it, "a bottle of Port." (What the heck is port?)
And I really don't think it felt pleasant for the martyrs who were shot, burned, beheaded, or ripped apart by lions.

I heard a guy on Catholic radio a couple years ago who reminded us to pray for the Lord's guidance concerning our vocation. To ask Him to make His will our will. I pray that for my children, who are still discovering their calling. I think it's a wise prayer, one that would benefit everyone. The trouble is, many in the world today don't want to surrender to God. That's too bad, because God is pretty dang smart (actually, "smart" doesn't begin to describe His mind) and he loves us more than we can ever comprehend. Look what He's done for us!
Pieter LastmanThe crucifixion, 1616Museum het Rembrandthuis

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Modern Catholic Fairy Tale

I'm participating in a Fairy Tales Retold Reading Challenge at Debz Bookshelf. I've begun the challenge with Catholic author Regina Doman's young adult novel, The Shadow ofthe Bear, a retelling of the story "Snow White and Rose Red." You can read the original Brothers Grimm fairytale at Regina Doman's web site.

The Shadow of the Bear is set in modern day New York City and contains no magic, but it maintains a fairytale-like feel. Here's the official blurb from Amazon.

When Bear, a mysterious young man, lands on Blanche and Rose Brier’s doorstep in New York City, the two sisters have conflicting opinions on whether or not he is dangerous. Even as Blanche learns to trust him, her fears that Bear’s friendship threatens their family prove terrifyingly true. A modern retelling of the classic Brothers Grimm fairytale.

Doman writes for Catholic teens, but this forty-two year old mom enjoyed its gripping suspense and compelling characters. I read it with my eleven-year old twin daughters and they were transfixed. We flew through it in a matter of days. My Daphne got up as 6am just to continue reading! Today we finished it and, because we were on Kindle, immediately got the second book in the series, Black as Night.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Divine Mercy, Dirty Windows, and Spelling

"My daughter, be diligent in writing down every sentence I tell you concerning My mercy, because this is meant for a great number of souls who will profit from it."

~These are words our Lord said to Saint Faustina.

My twin girls and I had the privilege of attending a talk by Joan and Dave Maroney, from the Divine Mercy Ministry. Here's a link to Joan and Dave's website. It was a program geared toward children, but I am certain the adults got much out of it as well. I know I did.

The visuals were stunning--a replica of the Shroud of Turin, slides (many of Saint Faustina), music, and of course a large copy of the Divine Mercy image. Here's the Shroud of Turin website.

I bought a copy of Saint Faustina's diary. Did you know that she wasn't such a good speller? Well, at least I have that quality in common with her. Now I need to acquire the actual saintly aspects.

Here you can see the Divine Mercy window sticker on my patio door. I took this at night from the outside, looking in. Seeing the evidence that I have a spotty window reminds me of something Father Robert Barron said on one of the Catholicism DVD episodes.

When you're driving away from the sun, you don't notice how dirty your window is. When you're driving toward the sun, every speck shows up. (I'm paraphrasing, but you get the point.) It's that way with Jesus. When we're striving to get close to him, we notice our sins more.