A quick howdy, a word count update, and something for the Year of Faith

What They PromisedJust taking a break from NaNoWriMo to say a quick howdy, y’all. Howdy, ya’ll! :D

The writing is going well, I’m really loving it. Yes, it’s work, yes, the dogs are driving me crazy. Yes, I’ve had to deal with home maintenance and “improvement” and “handy” men. Yes, it makes me wanna say ARGH and GROAN and other things not quite so nice. Oy! But the writing is coming along and I really am enjoying it. And only partly because I’m doing NaNo on a 13″ MacBook Air with backlit keyboard but that certainly does help. ;)

What I GotOkay, diving back into the story now or I may dive into my bed instead. Oh, that is tempting. To sleep, perchance to dream, to dream some NaNoWriMo scenes, aye, that’s the stuff! ;)

Oh, my word count! Promised an update, didn’t I? Drum roll, please! Word count on the sixth day of noveling insanity is (envelope, please): 11,908 exceedingly excellent and oh-so-exquisite words! Woohoo! Yeah, that’s what I’m talkin’ about! Well, yes, it is what I’m talking about, of course it is. This is a word count update, after all. (Okay, perhaps I don’t need that third pot of coffee after all. Ahem. But I do have two pies in the kitchen. What am I thinking, I can’t eat pie this late at night! But…it’s pie! Is it ever really too late for pie?)

And lest you think that I’ve yammered on all this time and not said one thing about Catholicism on this supposedly Catholic blog, lemme lay this on ya: Jeff Cavins has been posting a series of short videos for the Year of Faith entitled, “The Rabbi-Disciple Relationship. There will be 5 parts, 3 are up so far as of tonight. View them on the Catholic Year of Faith website or sign up on that site to receive the videos in your email inbox. These are quite good. Highly recommended! Good night, y’all! Peace!

Paul was Catholic, a marvelous podcast by Taylor Marshall

Updated Oct 17: Dr. Taylor Marshall (Howdy, fellow convert!) wrote a book called The Catholic Perspective on Paul which I devoured when I discovered it. (The ebook was released in Nov 2010 so it was sometime after that but I don’t remember when.) (Links to book and ebook below)

I’ve discovered that the author has a related podcast [dead link removed] on his site, Paul is Catholic [dead link removed]. I have read the book and listened to the podcast, and I can say without reservation that both of these receive the status of Highly Recommended! Plus I really like the podcast icon. ;) During this Year of Faith treat yourself to an easy and effective way to deepen your knowledge of the Bible and the Church with these excellent resources by Dr. Taylor Marshall. Peace be with you.

Paperback

Kindle

Full disclosure: When you make purchases through my Amazon affiliate links (or my general Amazon link) on this site, I may make a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you for your prayers and support!

Why does the Year of Faith last 410 days instead of 365?

(A post for the Year of Faith) Several people have asked this question: Why does the Year of Faith last 410 days instead of 365?

Answer: Part of being Catholic is learning to think with the mind of the Church. She thinks liturgically about time, which differs from the civil (as in secular, not as in polite) measuring of time. The Church measures time from one liturgical or spiritually or historically important event (historically important to the Church, that is) to another, not a mere length of 365 days that carries no meaning beyond the amount of time it takes the earth to revolve once around the sun.

Looking further I found this quote at Catholic Culture.

“The opening and closing dates of the Year of Faith carry special significance. October 11, 2012, will mark the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican II, and the Vatican notes that the special year should be “a propitious occasion to make Vatican Council II and the Catechism of the Catholic Church more widely and deeply known.” November 24, 2013, will be the feast of Christ the King, and the CDF underlines the importance of using the year to encourage Catholics to share the precious belief in Christ as the redeemer of the mankind.”

The dates of liturgical celebrations, even the release of documents, generally correspond to a significant date on the Church calendar or in her history. Look at a few encyclicals and other publications and you’ll see what I mean. For example, here’s what you’ll find at the end of Pope John Paul II’s encyclical, the Gospel of Life:

Given in Rome, at Saint Peter’s, on 25 March, the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, in the year 1995, the seventeenth of my Pontificate.

Catechesis by Pope Benedict XVI for the Year of Faith

I wrote in an earlier post that Pope Benedict XVI had announced that he would begin a series of weekly catechesis during the Wednesday audiences for the Year of Faith. At the time of my post I did not have the link to a source for those audiences. I found it just now in the news section at the Vatican website. Weekly General Audiences by Pope Benedict XVI. On that page you’ll also find the weekly Angelus address. Full texts.

Stayin’ Alive, Spiritually Alive, that is: Keeping The Precepts of the Church

Only Five Precepts of the Church(A post for the Year of Faith.) There are only five precepts of the Church and every Catholic should know them. Let’s take a look at them as found in the Catechism, second edition, Part 3, Section 1, Chapter 3, Article 3, starting with paragraph 2042, without the commentary, just the precepts. And notice that the subtitle of Article 3 is: The Church, Mother and Teacher. The Church is your Mother. She has something to say to you. Listen up!

  • You shall attend Mass on Sundays and on holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor.
  • You shall confess your sins at least once a year.
  • You shall receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season.
  • You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church.
  • You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church.

There. Now that wasn’t so bad, was it? Only five precepts and they’re brief, too. Blessedly. (Heh. A little Church humor. Very little. Ahem.)

Now why do you suppose the Church wants you to attend Mass on Sundays or to confess and receive the Eucharist at least once a year? Because, like any good mother, she just wants you to drop in once in a while so she can see your face before she forgets what you look like? Well, maybe. But mostly to keep you spiritually alive! Read these words in paragraph 2041 right before the list of precepts.

“The precepts of the Church are set in the context of a moral life bound to and nourished by liturgical life. The obligatory character of these positive laws decreed by the pastoral authorities is meant to guarantee to the faithful the very necessary minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort, in the growth in love of God and neighbor…”

You see, to keep alive spiritually you must attend Mass every Sunday, confess and receive the Eucharist at least once a year. (Notice that you can attend Mass without receiving. This is important. If you’re not in a state of grace, you should not even think about presenting yourself for Communion. But you still must attend Mass!) You must also observe the days of fasting and abstaining, and help provide for the needs of the Church. This is the bare minimum for your interior, spiritual self to stay alive. If you are not meeting this bare minimum in your life, you may be in danger of dying spiritually. And if all you do is the bare minimum, then you’ll be barely alive spiritually, too.

When someone says, “Oh, I’m not religious at all but I’m very spiritual,” I have to say, “Oh, really?” Because I know that person is probably not spiritual at all. Most of the people who say things like that to me only concern themselves with things of the world and the body and the body’s appetites. They don’t go to church, don’t see why they should; don’t mortify their appetites, again, they don’t see why they should; they don’t practice self-control; they don’t confess their sins and they don’t receive the Eucharist. And, of course, they don’t give anything to their church because they don’t even have a church. Because…they’re “spiritual, not religious!”

Oy ve! Tell me how they can be spiritual! What do they even mean when they say it? Do they mean they believe in spirits? What kind of spirits? Spirits of good or spirits of evil? Do they mean that they practice spiritualism? Play with Ouija boards? (And why does that word end in an “a” instead of an “i” or an “ie” or “ee” or something? I never hear anyone pronounce it “Wee-ja”, it’s always “Wee-jee” board.)

Oh, they’re very spiritual. So spiritual that they will go to almost any lengths to avoid suffering. Mortification? Why, they’re mortified at the thought of it! And not in a good way!

He is the Vine, we are the branchesChrist said that He is the Vine and we are the branches. If we cut ourselves off from the Vine, we will shrivel and dry up. If we cut ourselves off from the Eucharist, we have no life in us. If we turn away from the ordinary means of grace in the sacraments, how do we expect to receive grace? If we don’t mortify our appetites, how do we expect to preserve or increase in grace? If we don’t confess our sins after sinning, how do we expect to get back into a state of grace so we can continue to grow and have a real and not imaginary spiritual life?

And that, I think, is all too often the problem: People imagine that they are spiritual and that they have a spiritual life when they don’t know the first thing about spirituality at all.

So stop imagining that you’re a very spiritual person and go to confession and get into a state of grace and get to Mass and and control your appetites and stay in the Vine and really be spiritual! Because your Momma says so. Momma Church, that is!

The full text of paragraphs on the precepts can be found online, paragraphs 2041 – 2043.

Vine passage from Gospel of John 15:5:

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”

Pope Benedict XVI begins new weekly series of catechesis for the Year of Faith

The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, a true gift to the Church from The FatherUpdated Nov 1 2012 to add link to Audiences. Pope Benedict XVI announced a new series of weekly catechesis during the Wednesday audiences for the Year of Faith. Below I’ve posted the first paragraph of the announcement. Read the rest of the story at the National Catholic Register or at Rome Reports. Link to weekly General Audiences, texts in full. Short video below.

From Pope Benedict XVI’s Weekly Audience, St Peter’s Square, October 17 2012

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today I will introduce the new cycle of catechesis, which will be developed throughout the Year of Faith that has just started and interrupt – for this period – the cycle dedicated to the school of prayer. With the Apostolic Letter Porta Fidei I chose this special year, so that the Church would renew its enthusiasm to believe in Jesus Christ, the only Saviour of the world, revive the joy of walking on the path that He has shown us, and witnesses in a concrete way the transforming power of the faith.

Read the rest of the story at the National Catholic Register or at Rome Reports.

Vote, Resources to Help You Form and Vote Your Catholic Conscience

The election grows nearer but I still hear some Catholics say that they have not yet decided who to vote for. So I put together a short page of resources to help you vote your Catholic conscience. Sadly, many have not yet formed their consciences, and many Catholics do not even know what that means. The Vote page will help you begin. First, start learning your faith (this is the Year of Faith, after all)! Then live it. Everywhere. Yes, in the voting booth, too. If we don’t do everything as Catholic Christians, then our faith is so much wind, as in, hot air.

Resources to Help You Form and Vote Your Catholic Conscience so you can LIVE your faith.

A Photo of my Catechism Crammed Full of Bookmarks

I’ve been reading the catechism as part of the Year of Faith. Of course, I’ve also been reading the catechism since it was released in English when I was working at a Catholic bookstore…when I was still a Buddhist! :O Seriously, I love this little book. I take it with me everywhere. It’s either in my car or in my bag or in my hands. And when I’m working on something else, I often cast longing looks at it until I can get back to studying it. The photo below shows my much-used and much-loved paperback copy after (yes, after) I cleaned out a bunch of old bookmarks to make room for new ones during this new year of study.

My paperback copy of the catechism
And this is after I cleaned out a bunch of old bookmarks

Note, October 31, 2020: Since the Year of Faith ended years ago most of the links I had at the end of this post are no longer active, so I deleted the entire paragraph. See the Resources section for up-to-date materials. And I’m planning a re-vamp of that whole section, too. In the planning and gathering information stage now.

The Year of Faith, Journeying Toward God in the Barque of Peter

Year-of-Faith-PacwaI don't know about you, but I try to be a good Christian, a devout Catholic. I try to practice my faith, to do what I am supposed to do, to love my Lord and my fellow man. I try. Well… Okay, sometimes I try. And sometimes I don't try at all. I just act like I don't even know anything about Christianity and I charge ahead like a water buffalo–wait, do water buffalo charge? Oh, you know what I mean. Don't act like you don't. You go to confession and Mass (if you're a Catholic, and if you're not, then you pray or give testimony and go to your community's worship service or whatever your community calls it or does) and you resolve to do better, to remember yourself and your commitment to the Lord, to change, to allow Him to change you, to rely less on your stubborn self and more on Him. Journeying Toward God in the Barque of Peter And yet you do the same thing, time after time, the same thing you did last time and the time before that, and the same thing you have been confessing since you went to your first confession, no matter how many years ago that was. And you're still doing the same thing! Oh, maybe you catch yourself now and then, but for the most part you are still losing your temper the way you always have and about the same things and at the same people.

ARGH! What's a (supposed) disciple to do?!

Well, I'll tell you what this wannabe disciple is going to do. The same thing I have been doing. The same thing I will keep doing and having to do. I will pick myself up off the floor again and go to confession and go to adoration and tell the Lord that I am sorry and ask Him to forgive me and ask Him to help me. Again. And, yes, I have already asked Him that, I know I don't have to wait until I go to confession and I don't wait until I go to confession to talk to the Lord. We talk a lot. Well, mostly I talk and He tries to get a word in edgewise and sometimes I shut up and let Him. Sometimes He tells me the most beautiful things. And sometimes I even hear what He says. Yep, sometimes I actually listen.

All of which leads to the heart of my post: the Year of Faith which our Holy Father announced a while back and which began on October 11 2012. Pope Benedict has asked all the faithful to study anew the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the documents of the Second Vatican Council, so that we may deepen our knowledge of our faith and of our Church and of our Lord. So that we may deepen our love for Him Who is Love. And how else can our love for God grow if our knowledge of Him does not also grow? And how can our knowledge of Him grow if we do not make an effort to know the Truth He has revealed to us? And how can we know the Truth He has revealed to us if we do not trouble ourselves to listen to His voice in the teachings and liturgy of the Church He Himself gave us?

We are all of us embarking on a journey, setting out into the deep. The Lord will guide us on our way, the Lord Himself Who is the Way and the Truth and the Life. He is the only Truth that is worth knowing. May the Lord richly bless you and yours during this Year of Faith and may His peace be upon you forever and ever. Amen.

AND it came to pass, that when the multitudes pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Genesareth, And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And going into one of the ships that was Simon's, he desired him to draw back a little from the land. And sitting he taught the multitudes out of the ship. Now when he had ceased to speak, he said to Simon: Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said to him: Master, we have labored all the night, and have taken nothing: but at thy word I will let down the net. And when they had done this, they enclosed a very great multitude of fishes, and their net broke. And they beckoned to their partners that were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they were almost sinking. Which when Simon Peter saw, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying: Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For he was wholly astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken. And so were also James and John the sons of Zebedee, who were Simon's partners. And Jesus saith to Simon: Fear not: from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And having brought their ships to land, leaving all things, they followed him. — Luke 5:1-11, Douay-Rheims translation.

Learn more: Read more about the Year of Faith at the official website or at the USCCB or at EWTN and many other places too numerous to list. Read Porta Fidei (the Door of Faith) or the transcript of the Homily at the Opening Mass of the Year of Faith, both by Pope Benedict. Other resources include a Catholic Bible study guide by Fr. Mitch Pacwa (Kindle version or paperback) and daily brief readings in the Catechism delivered to your email inbox and also available online. This is truly a wonderful resource and I have enjoyed my mornings with the Catechism very much since this program began on Oct 11. We're not far along yet and you have plenty of time to join in. Please do! You can join in the discussion on the site and learn a lot that way and share what you know, too. You can also find the entire set of sixteen documents of the Second Vatican Council online at EWTN.