Thursday, June 28, 2012

Suit Up!

God has this way of not-so-subtly beating me over the head with answers by bringing a person, Bible verse, or event into my life to teach me something.  I don't know about you, but after I heard that the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare, I was needing a little encouragement.  As I was wrapping up my prayer time, my current study (Woman of Grace by Michaelann Martin) took me to Ephesians 6:10-20, "The Whole Armor of God."  Yeah, reeeeeeeeeeeeeeally subtle, God. 

Paul, likely writing under house arrest in Rome, wrote these words of encouragement to his followers, urging them to be bold in their evangelization.  If I had the time, I'd create a video to post on YouTube with a James Earl Jones-like voice reading these words and the Chariots of Fire theme song playing in the background.  I don't, so just imagine inspiring music and James Earl Jones telling you to suit up:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his mightPut on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.  Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Stand therefore, having fastened the belt of truth around your waist, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the Evil One.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.  To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that utterance may be given me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.  
It's time to suit up.  Put on the armor of God:
  • truth
  • the breastplate of righteousness
  • the shoes of the gospel of peace
  • the shield of faith
  • the helmet of salvation
  • the sword of the Spirit
  • constant prayer

Got your armor?  Ok, good!  Join in the Fortnight for Freedom.  
The fourteen days from June 21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to July 4, Independence Day, are dedicated to this “fortnight for freedom”—a great hymn of prayer for our country. Our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power—St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, and the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome.  Culminating on Independence Day, this special period of prayer, study, catechesis, and public action will emphasize both our Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes around the country have scheduled special events that support a great national campaign of teaching and witness for religious liberty.
If you're looking for a practical way to be a prayer warrior, start your day with a Morning Offering.
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day in union with the holy sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of your sacred heart: the salvation of souls, reparation for sin, the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for the intentions of our bishops and of all the apostles of prayer, and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father this month.
The Holy Father's general intention for July 2012 is "Work Security.  That everyone may have work in safe and secure conditions."  (Isn't it ironic that the Holy Father's intention that we all be able to work in "safe and secure conditions" comes at a time that Catholic institutions in this country might be forcibly closed for not complying with the HHS mandate?) 

After you've started your day with the Morning Offering, continue to offer your actions, thoughts, and words to God in prayer throughout the day, whether it be in a moment of sorrow, joy, work, or rest.  Continue in this "little way" like St. Thérèse of Lisieux, prayer warrior of her day.  The Armor of God was enough for her, for St. Thomas More, and all of the other martyrs of the Church.  Trust that the Armor of God will be sufficient for you as well. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Don't Forget Our Priests on Father's Day!

When you're celebrating fatherhood on Sunday, don't forget to acknowledge the men you call "Father" as well!  Let us married folks and parents not forget that without these fantastic priests, we couldn't have had a nuptial Mass in the Catholic Church to start us on our vocation to marriage. 

Catholic Icing, a website full of Catholic resources to bring the Faith to life for your family, has some fun suggestions on how to acknowledge our priests on Father's Day.

"Cut a strip of black (felt), and glue on a little white square for the collar. Then just wrap it around any present for your priest and attach with some tape!"

Here's a "collar" on a bottle of wine:

If Father doesn't like wine, maybe he'd like some homemade cookies with a felt "collar" around the container.  If he doesn't like cookies, give him a gift certificate to the local Catholic bookstore, pay his green fees at his favorite golf course, purchase him a new liturgical vestment, or enclose a "good for one homecooked meal at our home on the evening of your choosing" gift card.  

Ask the kids to help make a card for Father, and write a heartfelt message thanking him for his life of service for the Church and the gift of his spiritual fatherhood.  

If he's tech savvy and checks his e-mail, send him a Collar-Holler or a Spiritual Bouquet from  If you've never seen their site before, take some time to check it out.  It's a wonderful initiative from Catholics Come Home to promote vocations and encourage the priests who have taken on the role of spiritual father.  Our priests are under more scrutiny than ever.  They need our support and our prayers.    

If you don't like any of the above ideas, do what these sisters did for this priest:

Happy Father's Day to ALL of the fathers out there--biological, adoptive, and spiritual!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Back to Reality and Janie's Sticker Chart

I've been MIA from the blogging world because I was on vacation.  No, I didn't go anywhere exotic or do anything earth-shattering.  I simply got to spend an entire week with Dr. Phil at home with us!  Hooray!  We got to do all kinds of fun stuff.  We worked on the landscaping in our front yard, and it already looks so much better.  I'll be sure and post pictures once we get everything planted and exactly how we want it.  We made a trip to the local Children's Museum and had a picnic lunch.  We visited a state museum on our alma mater campus and got to meet up with my sister, her kiddos, Philip's mom, and his little sister.  We had two weddings, and Janie loved seeing the "princesses" in their beautiful gowns.  We went with our playgroup to the zoo and had lunch by the seals.  My high school World Religions teacher was in town for a conference, and we were able to have him over for brownie sundaes.  What's cooler than watching one of your heroes color with your daughter at the dining room table?  I can't think of what else we did off the top of my head, but it was a fun whirlwind of a week with plenty of family time.  I'm sad to see it go, but it's nice to be back to my regular routine.  I had let the housework and cooking get away from me (and we know how THAT stresses me out!), so I've had a busy day getting back on track.  

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I'm currently re-reading "The Happiest Toddler on the Block."  Part of Dr. Karp's strategy for raising a happy toddler is spotlighting the good that they're doing.  One strategy is creating what he calls a "star chart."  You pick three behaviors to focus on (two that the toddler is already doing and one to work on).  Then, sit down when they're calm and explain that they're doing a great job at the two things and say you'd like to help them work on the third.  Let the toddler know that they'll get a star each time they do any of the three things.  Draw out the chart, allow the child to decorate it and pick out the stickers to make it their chart.  Display the chart where everyone can see it, gossip about their success, give bonus stars for extra cooperation, get your child's input for special rewards for every ten stars.  Redo the chart every few weeks and add new behaviors.

Since praise is very effective with Jane, I decided to create "Janie's Sticker Chart."  The two things that she does well already are sharing with Walt and waiting.  The third thing that we're going to work on is allowing Mom and Dad to put in her eye drops everyday.  (Unfortunately, Jane inherited her mom's "lazy eye."  It might be a cool party trick when you can control it like I can, but Jane can't, and she needs these drops to blur the vision in her strong eye and strengthen the muscles in her "lazy" eye.)  

We made the sticker chart this morning together while Walt took his morning nap.  Janie helped me pick out the images online for the different tasks, and we drew up a chart on Microsoft Word.  She retrieved it from the printer and helped me to put it on the refrigerator.  She is sooooooo excited about her chart, and she gets a big thrill out of putting her selected Sesame Street stickers up for her achievements.  It's pretty darn cute watching her puff out her chest and point at her accumulated stars for waiting, sharing, and putting in eye drops.  

Here's the chart:

Hopefully the sticker chart continues to be a smashing success, and we'll be able to go out for ice cream as a family when Janie gets 10 stars.  C'mon, Janie!  Mama loves ice cream as much as you do!