Update on the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises Retreat via Podcast

Saint Ignatius of Loyola

The Ignatian Spiritual Exercises Retreat via Podcast began tonight (also see earlier post) and I found out a bit more about how this is going to work. The audio will be available at 8pm Eastern and 7pm Central Monday through Friday nights via BlogTalkRadio. You can listen to or download the file at BlogTalkRadio (here’s the link to the Spiritual Exercises Kickoff Show), subscribe to the show’s RSS feed, or subscribe to the iTunes podcast. But the audio will be available immediately at BlogTalkRadio;  it’ll show up on the iTunes feed generally about a day later. (Of course, after I posted this, I found that iTunes does have the first show up already at 9:48pm CT. Oy.) Gary keeps the file size small enough to make it easy to download but large enough for pretty good quality. (It’s spoken word so you can get away with that.)

I listened to the first part of the retreat while grabbing a quick dinner (at a place with wifi) on the way home from a few hours out on the sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood today. Now I’m home and as soon as I post this update, I’m going to finish listening and do the meditations, which aim at helping us discern God’s will in and for our lives. And, as they say, that’s just what the doctor ordered. Doctor of souls, that is.

After that, it’s beddie-bye time for me. I promised the dogs we’d go to the park in the morning before Mass, then it’s back to the sidewalk and 40 Days for Life. (Good thing I got new walking shoes today. My feet feel so much better!)

Treat Yourself to an Ignatian Retreat During Lent via Podcast

Saint Ignatius of LoyolaI’ve been wanting to make a retreat for some time now with the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, but have not been able to be away from home for as long as a month or even a week. And I just missed a weekend Ignatian retreat in a nearby town, didn’t find out until it was over. Plus there’s that little matter of not being able to afford to give even a small stipend to the retreat center for the great gift of the Exercises. But I really want to do this. I’ve never made a retreat of any kind and I know I need to do it.

Gary Zimak to the rescue! Gary, of Following the Truth, has decided (and was prompted by the Holy Spirit) to offer the Spiritual Exercises through his podcast via iTunes or BlogTalkRadio during Lent, starting Monday, Feb. 27, through Good Friday. (See promotional YouTube video below.)

Problem solved! And no excuse either. I don’t need to go anywhere, I can just download the podcast and listen on my iPod or computer, any time and as many times as I want to. For free. And I can keep these podcasts and make a retreat a month from now or next year or five years from now.

This is a God-send. A real God-send! Thank you, Gary! I’m looking forward to this. God is so good!

Something different for Lent: Don’t just say you’re prolife, prove it

40 Days for Life, Praying, Fasting, Keeping Vigil, to End Abortion in our World

My favorite time of year is not spring or summer or fall or winter. It’s Lent. I enjoy Advent and Christmas. And Easter, of course. But Lent is the season I look forward to all year. Especially since I started participating in the 40 Days for Life campaign to end abortion. There are two campaigns per year, one in the fall and one in spring. The current campaign coincides with Lent, as it did last year. This is a time of penance, fasting, prayer and alms-giving (don’t forget the alms-giving!), and spending time in peaceful prayer vigil out on the sidewalk during these forty days is a wonderful way to enter more fully into the spirit of the Lenten season. Continue reading “Something different for Lent: Don’t just say you’re prolife, prove it”

Seeing The Face of Christ in the Face of the Other, Prayer by Jim Pinto, Jr.

The Face PrayerTired of people taking you to task for daring to speak up about the teachings of Christ and His Church? Feeling overwhelmed by overly zealous secularists insisting that you should be silent in the public square? Tempted to respond to insulting remarks and absurd accusations with a few angry retorts of your own? Then this prayer by Jim Pinto, Jr., is for you. And for me.

The Face Prayer

Heavenly Father, I embrace your grace this day,
So that I might not:
Think of another,
Speak to another or
Touch another,
without first looking for
Your Face in the other.
I ask all this through
Jesus Christ:
God Incarnate,
God with Skin,
God made Poor,
God with a Face. Amen!
 Jim Pinto, Jr.

Jim (of At Home with Jim and Joy on EWTN Radio) is a Pastoral Associate with Priests for Life and National Coordinator for the Missionaries of the Gospel of Life Lay Associates. I see Jim and Joy at almost every pro-life event I attend (and saw them at the Cathedral when Fr. Robert Barron spoke there about his new series Catholicism). The more I get to know them, the more I am drawn to their warmth and their obvious love for Christ and His Church. I’m also drawn to their pro-life spirituality. The Face Prayer was written by Jim. You can read more about the Theology of the Face and sign up for a free prayer card at their site. 

Seek First the Kingdom: Challenging the Culture by Living Our Faith, by Donald Cardinal Wuerl

Seek First the Kingdom, by Donald Cardinal Wuerl(I mentioned in an earlier post that I’m writing a series of posts as I read a truly important book that was released at the end of 2011, not long before the infamous HHS Mandate was announced. The following is the first installment in the series. All excerpts are taken from Seek First the Kingdom: Challenging the Culture by Living Our Faith, by Donald Cardinal Wuerl, Our Sunday Visitor, 2011, Kindle Edition. Get the book from Amazon. Preview or buy the Kindle version.)

Most Christians have prayed the Lord’s Prayer. As a young Methodist my parents helped me memorize it and we prayed it every Sunday as part of our worship service. As a New Ager I used a form of it in a daily meditation (don’t laugh, or do laugh, but know that I was earnestly searching for truth even if I had no idea how or where to find it). Later as a Buddhist I opened each and every meditation session with the words “Our Father” because I never could accept the atheism of Buddhism. I suppose over the years I gave some thought to this idea of praying to “Our Father”. But I gave almost no thought at all to what it meant to pray that His kingdom would come, even though I said those words, too, every time I said the rest of the prayer. I didn’t even know what the kingdom was.

So what is the kingdom? Is it a metaphor and nothing more? I will allow the Cardinal to speak to that himself:

In the course of this book we will consider the kingdom in some detail. We’ll look at Jesus’ sayings, the apostles’ doctrine, and the tradition of the Church. What we’ll see is that Jesus was not simply speaking symbolically when he announced the kingdom. This was not just a preferred metaphor. He was urgent and specific about what the kingdom was and what it wasn’t, who was in it and who was outside it, and about how one could get in it and stay in it. His kingdom had distinguishing characteristics.

If he had been speaking metaphorically, it would have been an ill-chosen metaphor, since it brought suspicion and persecution upon him, his apostles, and many followers down through the ages. The Romans did not fear a metaphor. Nor did the Persians. Nor have any of their successors in the business of the persecution of Christians. These earthly powers killed Christians because they knew the Christians were serious about a certain king and his kingdom, and they considered that kingdom a threat to their own. God’s kingdom was serious business.

Yes, serious. Then and now. I can’t tell you how serious I have gotten about my faith since I first heard about the HHS Mandate and the ramping up of attacks on religious freedom here in the U.S. This past Friday I bought myself an early Easter gift to celebrate my 16th anniversary of being received into Holy Mother Church: a brand new beautiful Daily Roman Missal, first one I have ever had. With that purchase I also made a commitment to attend Daily Mass. It’s part of my preparation for what I see coming, part of my putting on the whole armor of God, diving deeper into discipleship, getting ready to do my part for the kingdom. For my King. To do that I need, among other things, to understand more fully what the kingdom is, because, as Cardinal Wuerl writes:

[I]n our own day the kingdom is often misunderstood and misconstrued, even by Christians. Some do try to dismiss it as a metaphor — a symbol of what the world would be like if more people would be nice to one another. People should be nice to one another; but the kingdom of God is not reducible to niceness. Others bring it up when they want to suggest that Christians are secretly disloyal to the current regime — that the Christian “kingdom” is somehow a code word for theocracy.

In every election year, it seems, we find the kingdom suffering violence and taken away, far away, from its original intention. Political parties and candidates like to claim, or strongly suggest, that their agenda is the valid way to apply the Gospel in the world. When they do, secularists will then step forth to argue that religious people have no right whatsoever to “impose” their beliefs by speaking up in public.

We should be prepared for this; and as Christians we should be prepared to give an answer to both errors, to make the necessary distinctions, and to call people to account for their use and misuse of the kingdom of God.

I often deal with personal attacks on the Church and myself from people I interact with online and in person, and get a fair share of honest (if misinformed and confused) questions and (sometimes) accusations from friends and family. These confrontations are happening with more and more frequency. All the more reason to learn more about my faith, to practice my faith, to live my faith, at a deeper level than ever before. This is why I’m studying the faith, as, indeed, I was before, but with renewed fervor. Why I’m returning to my earlier practice of attending Daily Mass. Why I’m reading this book. And why I’m sharing it with you.

I hope you’ll join me as I seek to learn more about the kingdom and about our role in that kingdom. And I hope you’ll pick up a copy of your own and share it with your family and friends. We need all Christians and all people of good will to stand up and speak out now, to do what is right. To do that, we need to know what is right. First things first. I’ll share what I learn with you here on the blog, both as I continue to read Cardinal Wuerl’s book and as I continue to grow in discipleship.

Please pray for me and know that I am praying for you. Peace be with you, now and always.

Seek First the Kingdom: Cardinal Wuerl’s newest book could not be more timely

Seek First the Kingdom, by Donald Cardinal WuerlSeek First the Kingdom was published on Dec 2 2011; in light of recent events (the HHS Mandate, among other things), it could not be more timely and strikes me as being prophetic. I downloaded the Kindle version tonight after seeking in vain for it in stores around Birmingham for two days. I’m still reading the foreword by Mary Ann Glendon, former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, but I can already tell you, as I had suspected, this is an important book. (Brief video at end of post or watch on YouTube.)

I’m going to write about the book here and post it (as opposed to writing about it and never getting the writing out of rough draft stage on my laptop) as I read it because we need the guidance of our bishops now. We need to remember, when it’s tempting to allow ourselves to get caught up in political action and issues and arguments and worry, that Jesus told us something that we tend to forget. Or neglect. He told us to seek first the kingdom of God and that then all these things that we need will be added unto us. But we have to put first things first.

And we have to do our part to build up the kingdom, too. We cannot let ourselves fall for our ancient enemy’s new (old) trick: telling us that we have to keep our Catholic Christian selves to ourselves and in our Church on Sunday and out of the public square and out of our public lives. No matter how many people are going around proclaiming the good news that Christians are being shoved out of sight and out of mind, it just isn’t true. Because we are not going to let it be true. We can’t afford to let it be true. But it will be, if we don’t stand up and speak out and speak truth, in love but firmly. And for us to speak the truth with love and firmly, we have to be united with Christ. We have to get serious about our faith. We have to know our faith. And we have to live our faith.

Because if we don’t live our faith, we are going to lose it. That’s something we cannot afford to do. And the world can’t afford for us to lose our faith either: If we lose, the world loses, too. We need more Christian witness now, not less. We need faithful, loving, informed, intelligent Christian witness.

Get this book. Get ready. Get to it!

A few words to and for Fr Corapi in this season of Lent

Fr CorapiFr. Corapi, I have been praying for you since I heard the news that you had been placed on administrative leave after a complaint against you [not involving sexual abuse of a minor, for anyone else reading this]. This evening I have been reading Fr. Groeschel’s book, Arise from Darkness. I know you have preached for years and have plenty of material of your own to turn to, as well as the Bible. And who knows how extensive your library must be? Still I would like to recommend this slim little book to you in what must seem to be a time of persecution, betrayal and suffering. All things happen for a reason and you and I both believe in Divine Providence. And look at the timing: We are in the beginning of the second week of Lent! God has called you to enter into His Divine Son’s Passion and Cross in a way you may not have been called to enter into it before. Continue reading “A few words to and for Fr Corapi in this season of Lent”

Who is to blame for the culture of death?

Christ is the True Manna from HeavenWho is to blame for the culture of death? Not atheists or progressives or democrats or republicans or pro-choice advocates. No, according to Dr. John Cuddeback in his talk, Spiritual Warfare: The Battle for Life in a Culture of Death, we Christians have no one to blame but ourselves. For we have forgotten who we are. We have forgotten to put on the mind of Christ. We have forgotten how to pray. We have forgotten that prayer is necessary to the life of the Christian. We have forgotten that the Eucharist, the highest form of prayer, is absolutely necessary to the life of the Christian. Prayer and reception of divine grace in the sacraments is not optional, not something extraneous to the Christian way of life but is absolutely central to it. Continue reading “Who is to blame for the culture of death?”

The Catholic conscience, formed, informed and the difference between the two

It’s quotes like the one below that keep me writing at this blog. The writer of the article has decided that she can be pro-choice and Catholic. Boggles my mind. It’s like saying “I believe in God, I believe in Christ, I believe in the Holy Spirit, I believe in the Bible, I believe in the Ten Commandments, I believe that murder is immoral…unless you choose to murder a baby. Then it’s a choice. And if my conscience is okay with it, then it’s okay.” The idiocy of the entire article is stunning.

Continue reading “The Catholic conscience, formed, informed and the difference between the two”

How not to do sidewalk discipleship

Picture this: a car pulls into the abortion mill parking lot, a young woman at the wheel. A group of people standing around talking outside run to intercept her, calling out as they scamper toward her. How do you think this makes the woman in the car feel? Now picture this: two groups of people standing around talking outside the clinic notice the woman’s car pulling in and both groups high tail it over to her, both groups intent on intercepting her before the other group can have their say. True, one group cannot step onto the abortion mill property, and that group is actually acting out of love, wanting to offer hope and help to the woman, but if you were her sitting inside the car, watching all these people scampering toward you, how would you feel? Do you think you would find the whole experience disturbing? I know would. I found it disturbing when I witnessed it. Continue reading “How not to do sidewalk discipleship”

The feast day was another special day for me

The Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary has been a very special day for me for years now. And yesterday was another special day to add to the list. A very intense day of prayer and witnessing. I felt so blessed to have been taking part in the vigil outside one of our local abortion clinics. (We have two, that I know of.) My prayer life has been needing a jump start and that’s just what it got, lemme tell ya! Thank you, Blessed Mother, I needed that! I don’t think I’ve ever prayed so many Rosaries and Chaplets in a day in my whole life! I feel like I’ve been on retreat, and in some very intense spiritual combat (inner and outer, more about that another time). The whole vigil experience has been like that, but yesterday was especially powerful. Continue reading “The feast day was another special day for me”

The path of sidewalk discipleship

Today I didn’t get to go to Mass up at EWTN. Well, I could have, but I stayed up much too late blogging so I slept too late. But I can’t let that happen tonight because tomorrow is the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, a day that has often been an important one in my spiritual journey. On at least two separate occasions I’ve had major experiences/events happen on the day of the Feast; I didn’t even notice the date until later. I take this as a sign that our Blessed Mother has heard and answered my request that she take my hand and show me the way to her Son. There are so many ways she’s helped me over the years. These days I am asking her specifically to help me as I pray on the sidewalk outside the abortion clinics in town during the 40 Days for Life prayer vigil. Continue reading “The path of sidewalk discipleship”