Category Archives: Of Vice and Virtue


From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

1061 The Creed, like the last book of the Bible,[644] ends with the Hebrew word amen. This word frequently concludes prayers in the New Testament. The Church likewise ends her prayers with “Amen.”

1062 In Hebrew, amen comes from the same root as the word “believe.” This root expresses solidity, trustworthiness, faithfulness. And so we can understand why “Amen” may express both God’s faithfulness towards us and our trust in him.

1063 In the book of the prophet Isaiah, we find the expression “God of truth” (literally “God of the Amen”), that is, the God who is faithful to his promises: “He who blesses himself in the land shall bless himself by the God of truth [amen].”[645] Our Lord often used the word “Amen,” sometimes repeated,[646] to emphasize the trustworthiness of his teaching, his authority founded on God’s truth.

1064 Thus the Creed’s final “Amen” repeats and confirms its first words: “I believe.” To believe is to say “Amen” to God’s words, promises and commandments; to entrust oneself completely to him who is the “Amen” of infinite love and perfect faithfulness. The Christian’s everyday life will then be the “Amen” to the “I believe” of our baptismal profession of faith: May your Creed be for you as a mirror. Look at yourself in it, to see if you believe everything you say you believe. And rejoice in your faith each day.[647]

1065 Jesus Christ himself is the “Amen.”[648] He is the definitive “Amen” of the Father’s love for us. He takes up and completes our “Amen” to the Father: “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why we utter the Amen through him, to the glory of God”:[649]
Through him, with him, in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, almighty Father, God, for ever and ever. AMEN.

How many of us say “Amen” in a thoughtless or empty fashion? Do any of us really understand what it means when we say this?

I think paragraph 1064, of all of these, is most important for us to reflect on today. For God calls us all to live with integrity. That means that if we say something, we should mean it.

So what does it mean?

I think that when you say, or pray, “Amen,” you are saying a few different things:
1. I believe and adhere to my baptismal profession of faith and to the Creed.
2. I believe and am faithful to the entirety of the Truth that is God.
3. I am saying “Yes” to all that God is asking of me.
4. I pledge my faithfulness.
5. I consecrate my life. [Meaning that I set myself apart for the service and worship of God.]

We should be putting our entire selves into that word and offering ourselves as a gift back to the Father. Especially in our prayer. Prayer is not supposed to be a quick listing of all the things in my life that I want God to fix for me, with a quick “Amen” at the end. It should be a dialogue, a conversation, an encounter with the Father/Son/Holy Spirit who LOVES ME.

Yes, we should have all confidence and trust in God as the only one with power. Yes, we should know that He is all good and that He loves us and that this means that He always has our best interests in mind [even if those best interests may be painful or cost us]. Yes, we should remember that He always hears us.

But this is a love relationship.

I cannot see myself as disengaged from this. Prayer is never a one-sided affair. You can never think of prayer or encounters with God as a disconnected transaction, as an impersonal withdrawal from God’s Bank of Grace.

We need to give our entire selves back to Him in return. We need to engage our hearts. We need to enter into the relationship with the persons of God. Because God *is* a person — or, rather, three persons — and not a vending machine to feed my whims and desires.

We need to have integrity when we pray “Amen.” We need to recognize that it is an affirmation of our adherence to and reliance upon Him, the Almighty, who has done, is doing and will continue to do great things for us.

Our “Amen” should be an “I love You.”

Reflection on the Didache

I had just started reading the Didache and came across this passage:

“You shall not hate any man;
but some you shall reprove,
some you shall pray for,
and some you shall love
more than the breath of life that is in you.”

And I just stopped reading.

It caught my heart. My soul wanted to scream its assent to this truth.

This is what it means to love. This is what it means to be a total gift of self. This is what we are called to do.

Some you shall love more than the breath of life that is in you.

Of course, the rest of the message is important, too. We should not hate, we should pray for others, and, yes, we ARE our brother’s keeper and sometimes that entails reproving one another, but always with love.

But it is this last part that speaks to me. God is calling me to abandon myself to Love of Other, and, in this moment, my will is beyond eager to wring out every drop of life within me — every breath in my body — to be Love, to do Love and to show Love to another. At the moment, this is particularly directed at that person whom the Lord has placed upon my heart to intercede for, on a continual basis; but I can feel, on the margins, the sense that as I grow in this, I will be called to expand my gift of love, of utter self-abandon, to others. For this is not just a gift to this one person, or to these several people, but it is ultimately a gift, if you will, to the Lord Himself. A small response to the enormous outpouring of love which he bathes me in daily.

As I have said before, “my struggles for holiness are no longer merely for my own sanctification, but because prayers of holy men and women are more efficacious (James 5:16, 1 Peter 3:12).” And so, the deeper I grow in holiness, the more I am able to truly love. The more that I can open myself to love my neighbor — love as an active verb, a decision of the will — the more my will is conformed to the Will of the Lord and the more I will be receptive to and attentive to the perpetual presence of His Love for me.

Something like this:

God loves me –> I respond with love for neighbor and God –> I am more aware of God’s love for me :||

“You shall not hate any man;
but some you shall reprove,
some you shall pray for,
and some you shall love
more than the breath of life that is in you.”

God Bless!

My New Name: Zoomie McLawBreaker

Why is this my new name? Because yesterday, I got my very first speeding ticket.
As a co-worker notes, “Aww! And you’ve been practicing for so long! Congratulations!”

I need to go on record first as saying . . . I totally deserve this. Not only was I speeding, really speeding, but I have a habit of speeding, which has been getting worse in the past few months.

Not just in the car, but it’s kind of like a theme in my life: a hundred miles an hour . . . right up until I smash into the brick wall and collapse or something. I’m usually a girl of extremes. I live passionately and fully and with great enthusiasm. I am stubborn and joyful and am a good problem-solver. I struggle with things like patience, although I don’t hold a grudge and tend to be okay with forgiveness. I love to give and I love to love — and these I do as much as I can, usually without thought to what it might cost me. (Which, of course, is not good if you are my accountant, but I really don’t care about having any money in the bank. I just hope to be able to pay my bills. After that, if I have a zero balance, but the people I care about are happy, then I’m all good with that.)

Some of these are good things, some are not. A little more balance in my life would probably, objectively, be a good thing, but I am not good with that.

I am not upset at all about my speeding ticket. I think God allowed me to get that speeding ticket. I think I probably needed to get that ticket. I tend to have little regard for my own well-being. I tend to be careless with myself, or rather, unconcerned. This frequently gets me into trouble.

Over the past month or so, I’ve had problems with chest pain and shortness of breath which have had me in and out of the ER, and even admitted to the hospital. I can’t run anymore and it takes me a lot longer to get anything done.

I think God’s trying to tell me to slow down, in a couple different ways.

The Blood of Christ

A friend e-mailed me, asking if I would serve as Eucharistic minister this weekend in her place, which I gladly accepted. I arrived early to sign up for a spot, but when I arrived, all the “bread” positions were taken (why they call it “bread” and “cup,” I have no idea, because we only go up into the sanctuary after consecration, so shouldn’t they be “Body” and “Blood” positions?).

I have only ever given out the Body of Christ, and ever since that first lecture in RCIA when Fr. John was speaking about dropping the host or spilling the consecrated wine, I have been terrified of doing either. I am still concerned when holding the Body of Christ, but, as a non-liquid, He is less . . . wiggly . . . in this way than the Blood. That, and I have nightmare daydreams about little kids grabbing the cup from me and spilling.

When I saw that I would be doing a “cup” position for the first time, I was kind of freaking out. After all, it wasn’t my choice to be a Blood minister. I had thought that eventually I would choose to try being a Blood minister (okay, there’s gotta be a better term for this) . . . you know, when I was ready. I told several of the other Eucharistic ministers with me that this was my first time — looking for reassurance. They were all very nonchalant about it, so I was left unvalidated in my fear. Adding to my sense of unease was the fact that I had been listening to the Bible on CD on the way in to church, and I was in the middle of Leviticus, where they are talking about splashing the blood on the altar. Which I really didn’t want to do today.

I was doubting my abilities to adequately protect Him until He was safely consumed and united with the faithful. Silly me, right? I mean, obviously, Jesus can take care of Himself. But, you know, I worry anyway. So, I was praying about this — trying to ignore my fear and trust that God wouldn’t have anything bad happen.

Then came the homily. Our associate pastor was the one celebrating this Mass; however, our pastor came out to tell us of a situation in the archdiocese which has recently become public. As I reflected on the matter, I was made even more aware of the significance to me of being the one who would be providing access to people to the Blood of Christ. Because it is the Blood of Christ which washes away our sins and effects our reconciliation with God. True, that we receive the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus under either/both species; however, it is a stronger sign (for me anyway) in drinking of His Blood.

I felt, particularly at this time, that it was a time where everyone affected — our parish, the archdiocese — needed to be immersed in Christ. It was a time for reconciliation, healing, and most of all, for love. Whatever the truth of the matter, there are two people directly involved — both of which are hurt — and many other people indirectly hurt. This really hits home demonstrating the devastating effects of sin and how sin is a community affair — not limited to the involved parties.

I pray for God’s will to be done in regards to the situation, for His healing hand to be on the minds and hearts of everyone affected, and that the Holy Spirit works within us all so that we can love, show love and be love to all those who need it — especially in this matter. I pray that this will not divide us as a community. I pray that we will continue to have faith and trust, and leave the judging in His hands.

I do feel that I have a particular vocation, and it sometimes expands in scope, and I believe that in this case it includes this situation. Please pray for my compassion, empathy and strength, and the capacity for rendering whatever aid God asks of me.

So, I felt blessed to be able to participate in this way, in this specific Mass, being entrusted with the Precious Blood of our Lord. Somehow, it all tied together perfectly for me in a way which confirmed to me God’s presence. As was very recently pointed out to me, I am in His hands always — and that goes for every single one of us.

Sorry to be so vague.

— In His Love

Joyeux Mardi Gras!!!

The time of the year for the world to show it’s seamy underside as we spend a day reveling in our sin, in our shackles, in our imprisonment before reconciling ourselves to God and following Him in the path to true freedom tomorrow on Ash Wednesday. But today, as we gather our beads and eat our paczki, we should be aware of our sin and of the way in which our sin binds us and restricts our freedom. Which is why I am wearing a prison-stripe T-shirt today. This is truly a day to rejoice, for it is the last day of our enslavement! Tomorrow will bring a new season of renewal and conversion. I love Lent. I believe it holds incredible grace for us — we just have to cooperate with that grace.

As an aside, there are certain ethnic groups traditionally spotlighted today: the Polish people for the paczkis, and the Creole people with the huge Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans. As a little French girl with some Native American blood, I think that I should qualify as a Creole. 🙂 At least for the party, right? 🙂

Please remember in your prayers today René LaMourt, a friend of mine who passed away just after returning from a deployment at sea, about 11 years ago on February 28, 1998. Please also pray for Sheri, a friend of a friend, who committed suicide last Thursday.

Laissez les bons temps roulez!

Lessons on Love

I know that I’m messed up in many ways, but particularly in the area of love. I frequently think and feel that I have no value, sometimes even that I am not quite a person. Spiritually sick, I know. I’m working on it, but I’m not really sure how to go about getting better. For me, my worth and my loveableness (is that a word? well, it is now!) are entirely wrapped up in how useful I am to others. I have been so deeply mired in the culture of death that wrong-thinking follows me everywhere and colors all of my interactions, as I suspect it does for many people, if they really critically look at how they relate with others. But sadly, most people do not think and do not really examine their actions and thoughts except on a superficial level.

Don’t think that I am exempt from this! Ha! But, I want to work on going deeper than just superficial things to really attack the heart of the matter. I don’t want to be sick, but I suppose that I can’t keep my head in the sand when it comes to my sins and the various ways in which I just don’t get it.

It is pretty much safe to say that I am messed up, topically, on anything that has to do with the Theology of the Body. It’s very hard to give a gift of yourself when you don’t think that your self is anything worth giving. If I am nothing important, than giving me to someone else isn’t that great of a gift.

Okay, that’s definitely a work in progress, and one that is just beginning at that. On to love, since that topic is intermeshed in the whole Theology of the Body topic. Obviously, I need a lot of help to learn what it means to truly love another person as God loves. Sure, I’ve had experience with the warm fuzzies, and with wanting good things for others, but to truly love as God loves, it needs to go beyond that.

Truly, thanks be to God, for He is helping me with this. It has long been the case, (or at least nearly as long as I’ve been Catholic, so about a year and a half or so) that I’ve felt that God has given me a specific person to teach me what it means to love another. I didn’t want to like this person, much less love him. I would have been perfectly happy to avoid this person and interact with him on a need-only basis. Nothing against the person at all, but I was uncomfortable in his presence and a little frightened of him — for no reason — and had made up my mind to minimize interaction.

Well, we all know what happens when we tell God our plans. I think He’s still laughing at me.

So, God made it so that I came to love this person. He is my example and my lesson. It isn’t just that by watching how he interacts with people that I learn what it is like to give of yourself to others, even though he is a good example in his own actions as far as I can tell. But it is more that God has so put him on my heart, that I can’t help but learn, despite how messed up I am. Believe me when I say that I can objectify anyone and take anyone for granted and be as mean and self-centered as anyone else. Except with this person.

And, because I am just that sick, I tried. That’s right, I’ve tried to see if I could think bad things or fantasize inappropriately or something like this. Not that I particularly wanted to sin, or to invite temptation or anything — that wasn’t my intention — but I didn’t know what this was and I wanted, I suppose, to probe the depths of my sickness and see just how sick I was. “Am I **this** bad??” But no. Yes, with other people, there is no end to my imagination. But with this person, I cannot go there. I try to think of these things, and the thought just slips away from me like a greased bubble. What an awesome grace that is! Truly! I wish I had that for everyone! I was concerned, too, for a while that I had some sort of sick obsession or fixation, but this has absolutely nothing to do with romantic love and doesn’t have a selfish aspect to it that I can tell. It doesn’t have anything to do with what I can “get” from the relationship. I am just thrilled with the fact that he exists. And how wonderful it is to know that even through death, there is the possibility of seeing that person again in Heaven. Assuming that I make that Purgatory cut-off.

For this person, I always want what is good for him, even if that is not what is also good for me. I have true concern for him and he is the only person that I automatically pray for every day. Not that there aren’t other people that I pray for every day, because I do have several people that I pray for on a daily basis.  The difference is, for this person, it’s not something that I think about. I can’t help but pray for him daily. It’s not a burden or a box to check or an afterthought or a list or anything like that, but a concern to make sure that God knows to take care of this person. I am constantly bringing him before the Lord in prayer. God probably laughs at me for that, too. 🙂

Truly, Thank You, Lord, for this. If I am paying attention, I can try to catch myself in my interactions with others and substitute this other person to see if my actions and thoughts are truly loving. If I would react differently, then I know that I am being less than truly loving, and that I need to adjust what it is that I am doing.

So, what prompts me to write all of this today?  Not really for the sake of telling you all this.  Actually, it is quite embarrassing to me. I think people will take it the wrong way, or think that I do have some weird, disordered attachment. So, if it were up to me, I wouldn’t say anything. But, this morning, I think I was taught another lesson, and if I am to relate that to you, then I needed to give you some background. Sorry it took so long, but that’s the way I roll. 🙂

Not too long ago, I was in a conversation with a group of people, and the topic eventually came around to this person. Nothing was said which was bad, and everyone there truly liked and cared for this person, but for some reason it was unsettling to me. I didn’t really have anything to contribute to the conversation, and was mostly listening, and maybe, somehow that was worse. Like I was hearing things I didn’t need to hear. Again, not that I was hearing dark secrets or anything like that, but just — I don’t know — personal things that either should come from him directly, or not at all. It was a passing feeling that I managed to brush off. Feelings come and go, and I know that the people there loved him as well, so it must just be that I was being silly, because it was all benign.

Then, this morning on the way to Mass, I was recalling this conversation, and for whatever reason, I just felt heartsick about it and felt like I should apologize to him. For exactly what, I wasn’t sure, but it felt a little bit like…a violation, perhaps. Ooh, just typing that sounds so harsh. And it wasn’t like that. Don’t think anything bad about the people in the conversation. I think it has much less to do with them, because their comments really were benign, and more to do with the fact that God is using (again) this person in this situation to teach me a lesson about love.

It has been said that if you truly love a person, then you have an infinite desire to know everything about that person. I know that is true for me, but this felt like the wrong way to go about getting information. Again, completely benign, but it cut that person out of it. If love is to have a relationship with another person, than some information should come out of interaction with that person directly. Kind of like if I decide to have a relationship with a particular saint, and I research the saint and talk to people about that saint, but never actually engage that saint in conversation or pray to him or her. There’s something wrong with that interaction. Not that the research or the conversation about the saint was bad, but that there was something lacking. An absence of intimacy. Or a detachment which shouldn’t be there.

A lesson to me that a person is not a thing to be loved, but a person to be loved — which is a particular lesson for me. Let me say again, how truly glad I am that I God gave me this person, and that He is using him in this way. Please, Lord, bless him and keep him in Your love.

For Argument’s Sake…

I found this article linked from Ironic Catholic’s blog:

ROME (Reuters) – An Italian couple who were caught having sex in a church confessional box while morning Mass was being said have repented and made peace with the local bishop.

The couple, in their early 30s, were detained by police earlier this month after they had made love in the confessional box in the cathedral in northern Cesena. They were cautioned for obscene acts in public and disturbing a religious function.Their lawyer said they had been drinking all night and realised they had gone too far.

The lawyer told the area’s local newspaper on Wednesday the couple met with the local bishop on Tuesday night, asked for his forgiveness and that he had given it.

Last week the bishop celebrated a “Mass of reparation” in the cathedral where the confessional box incident took place to make up for the sacrilege.

Okay, now calling all canon lawyers, etc., who may come across my blog — kindly pick this apart for me, the almost-still-a-neophyte Catholic and explain all the ways in which this was wrong, and in what ways might it be in very poor taste, but not technically wrong.

I suppose first, we should determine whether the act itself was a sin.  Was this a married couple or not?  Let’s assume, for argument’s sake, that they are married.

During Mass.  Obviously, really poor timing.  I mean, it’s great to give yourself to your partner and renew with your bodies the vows that you made at your wedding, but how does that compare to actually taking the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ into oneself?  If people (including me sometimes, eh) really got it, what was taking place during the Mass, they would be lining up for miles, prostrating themselves in front of the Lord and going out into the world and shouting from the rooftops that they received the Creator of the Universe into their very person.  I have heard of other things (most notably, confession) taking place during Mass, so other things can kind of be there, but Reconciliation is another sacrament, which is to say another encounter with Jesus.  Sex with your spouse — not a sacrament.

Point two:  the article states that the couple had been drinking all night.  I think that an inordinate consumption of alcoholic beverages is a sin, and more to the point, how can you truly make a sincere gift of yourself if you are plastered out of your gourd?  I would think that that would interfere with your will, and cheapen the encounter to a pleasure-only experience.

Point three:  we are not really loving our neighbor, are we?  I mean, it might be fine and all for a married couple to have sex, but there is a huge ICK factor for the people who need to use that room following them.  I would hope that they were quiet, but there is the possibility that they, um, disturbed people attending Mass.  Again, not loving your neighbor there.

What does this say about people’s understanding of the Theology of the Body? 

Okay, I’ve given up the first three points that crossed my mind.  Now, it’s your turn!


I think it’s highly amusing the length to which I will go to justify my toys. Take this Blackberry for example, I got it for a variety of reasons, but really it’s not essential to life. Hopefully, I will use it in a positive manner and be able to do things like post from WYD, etc.

So now I will have GPS and stuff and actually know what’s on my calendar.

Still a Crackberry though — I’ve gone Evil Empire!

Speeding and the Mosaic Law

Yesterday, I got a chance again to attend Fr. John’s Bible study.  We are currently going over Galatians.  Particularly yesterday, we were talking about being justified through faith versus being justified by following the Mosaic law.

 With a law, there is the concept that if you break the law, you will incur a penalty.  The example given was that the speed limit is 70 on M14, and if you happen to go 90 and get caught, there is a stiff penalty.  (Of course, he says that he doesn’t know this from personal experience….)

Hmmm….  Now, I do happen to speed along M14…daily….  Keeping that in mind, let’s continue with our studies, shall we?

He goes on to say (not verbatim, but in essence) that a law makes you aware that you need help.  That there’s nothing wrong with the law in itself, but something wrong with my capacity to keep it.  And also that a bad place to be is to live under the illusion that I’m fine.

Oh great.  So, nothing wrong with a speed limit, but there is something fundamentally wrong with the fact that I habitually do not observe it.  And that I think that my action in this regard is okay, is a deeper sickness within me.


How My Car Teaches Me About God, Parenting and Myself

I went to Mass this morning in a pretty good mood, about half-way into my trip, I put on a Podcast talking about what happens during Mass.  I am actually not sick today — feeling pretty good physically; so that helped my happy mood, too.  I was running a little late and walked into church just a few seconds before Mass began.  Literally, I walked in the chapel just ahead of Fr. John and probably caused him to have to wait for me at the baptismal font.

I usually have a very difficult time with distractions during Mass.  Not that I don’t want to be fully engaged, but Fr. JJ thinks that I may have a little bit of ADHD, and I keep having to bring myself back to what is occurring in front of me.  My mind wanders so very easily.  But today, I managed to stay mostly focused (by the grace of God, certainly).  As Mass continued, I became increasingly joyful, almost to the point of grinning.  (I try not to do that, though — wouldn’t want Father to think I was laughing at him or something.)  I became so joyful, that I was worried about after Mass for a moment, because I intended to ask Fr. John about the outcome of the vote in the Michigan senate (?) about partial-birth abortions, and it just wouldn’t do to be smiling when one asks about that sort of thing.

After Mass, I caught him and he asked how I was doing (“Very, very good!  You?”) and then he paused when I asked about the partial-birth abortions and said that he hadn’t heard anything other than they were supposed to vote on Wednesday, but didn’t, then they were supposed to vote yesterday, but didn’t — and to keep praying.  He started inching towards the door (and his car) again, while I remained behind to talk to a friend whose wife is due in just a few weeks with their second child.

As I left and approached my car, I saw something concerning.  I stopped and looked at the passenger side and there was one — no, two — vertical dents in the door.  Obviously, someone had hit my car with their door.  My car is not quite 5 months old, and it’s the first new car I’ve ever had.  I stood there for a second, feeling the dents, waiting to feel anger — for surely that has always been my response to things like this — a visceral, self-righteous hatred of the negligent offender.  To my surprise, that anger…never came.  I was still happy and joyful, and I didn’t understand why.

So, I pondered this.

First, I thought about how even though it was important to me, it was just a thing.  And things will come and go.

Second, I don’t have control over anything other than my own actions.  I can try to protect my car, but there is going to be a time (quite frequently) where I am not around and it is going to be on its own, for better or for worse.  I have to learn to let go and not try to cling or control all situations.  Worry and anger aren’t going to change anything, and they aren’t going to prevent anything — so, why be anxious?

Third, as I looked at my car, I felt sorry, and I think I actually said something to it like, “I’m sorry this happened to you, but I still love you just the same.”  Now, I’m not really in love with my car.  Certainly, I like it and I enjoy it, but I’m not obsessed with it or anything like that.  So I thought about what I said and realized that in a way, this might be how God feels about us.  He may be sorry that bad things happen to us, and sorrowful when we sin, knowing that we are hurting ourselves, but He loves us anyway — despite our dents.  And in the end, when we go home, we may look at one another and see all of the dents that we have and praise God all the more for His mercy and His grace and His aid to help us through all the rough patches during our pilgrimage here.

Fourth, I wondered at the power of the Eucharist, for certainly this grace that was given to me to look beyond myself and my interests had to have come from Him.  It *had* to be due to the presence of God dwelling within me.  What an amazing thing that is!  I hope that I am always open to having Him work through me, and to be able to reflect His love onto others.  To not only work towards, but to desire to conform myself to Christ.

Finally, I prayed for the person who dented my car.  Perhaps they were having a really bad day and they need prayer to help with whatever situation they were/are in.  Perhaps it was an accident and they felt horrible about it, and they need to know that it’s okay, that they can slip up and still be loved by God and by their neighbors.  Perhaps they were just negligent and uncaring, in which case I pray that God will open their hearts to a sense of communion with others and work on their heart to make them desire to fully be a part of the Body of Christ.

Then, I looked at myself, and wondered if maybe this wasn’t just a small beginning into understanding what it means to lead a Christian life, and to want the good for others and to die to self.  For certain, it is only a very, very small step, but just maybe I’ll be able to take something away from this experience and be able to apply it in the future in a positive way.

Have a joyous, blessed day!  🙂