Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Tuesday Ten Book Review

I finished my first book of the year!! Most years (in recent memory) I read one maybe two books the whole year. I'm on a mission to read more this year. My first book was Matthew Kelly's The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic.

I was hesitant about this book because I find Matthew Kelly very repetitive. I'm sure it's a technique in his speaking that helps to drive home a point but I find it hard to read his writing when he is constantly repeating the same thing. I found this book to be much less repetitive than my previous experiences with him. Not that it didn't still have some repetitiveness, it was just less so.

This book was given away at my parish on Christmas weekend. We weren't around then, but I was able to pick it up the next weekend when we were back in town. I started reading it out of curiosity (since I was a bit hesitant at first) and ended up being drawn in. And I ended up liking the book a lot and I believe I got something out of it.

I was surprised to find out that his research showed that only about 7% of Catholics are the ones that are the most likely to be the volunteers, primary financial contributors, and most dedicated Catholics in a parish. Only 7%! He was expecting to find that number to be 20% to correlate with the 80/20 principle (80 percent of the work is done by 20 percent of the people--usually a business principle, but I've seen it applied in many other areas as well). Instead only 7% of the people do about 80% of the work in a Catholic Church.

As I continued reading I realized that I probably do not fall into that 7%. Few of us do. That was a bit eye-opening, to say the least! With this book Kelly was trying to make the case that we as Catholics could change the world just by increasing that number by 1%. But how?? That's where the four signs came in.

In short, he broke down the four signs to prayer, study, generosity, and evangelization. Anyone who has ever  done a Cursillo retreat will recognize three of these signs and honestly I think generosity can be folded into evangelization. But what I like is that he broke these four signs down and made them seem simple.

I'm almost out of time (wow ten minutes isn't very long!), but I wanted to say that I sort of disagree with him on one small point (and I'm out of time, but I'm going to finish this one thought anyway). In his last chapter he summarizes the points of the book and speaks a little to the erosion of the Church in our modern time. He is pushing for a revival of sorts and mentions that the Church could crumble without it. I understand what he is getting at and why he goes this direction, but we shouldn't forget that Jesus Himself told us that His Church would never fall. Yes, it may deteriorate a lot due to negligence on the part of the people and outside forces trying to break us apart, but I think there will always be a Church until the day Jesus comes back and there is no longer need for a human Church. What I think Kelly was trying to emphasize here was that we need to work on building the Church up and being unapologetic in our Catholic faith. I can agree with that. But I was just struck by his mention that the Church could disappear.

And that's all I got. Overall, a very good book and I recommend it. Sorry I ran over my ten minutes! If you're interested in this book you can find out more about it at www.dynamiccatholic.com.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Non-Resolutions-In-Late-January Post

If you remember, I took a short break from blogging beginning at the end of November. It wasn't a complete break since I still added an occasional  post here and there and continued writing over at Catholic Sistas. The break was really a good way to just focus on other things for a while without feeling any pressure to keep something new and fresh going on here.

Plus ... well ... I just had a lot going on.

And I still have a lot going on. Somehow there is always something.

Regardless, I am picking up writing again when I can, but I liked not feeling like I had to write something. Not that I have any pressure from anyone but myself, but myself can be pretty demanding sometimes. Myself is learning to be less demanding and I am reconsidering what I want to use this blog for.

I want this blog to reflect more who I am. Yes, I did read Jen's post about being authentically yourself, but no that is not what inspired me to think about this. It was actually on my mind during my little blogging "break" in December and I spent a bit of time reflecting on that. Jen's post helped articulate what was already in my head and I so appreciated that because she is definitely more articulate than I am.

I don't yet have any plans for what I am doing next. But I have a lot of things in my life I want to work on. So I think for starters, while I am going to try and get back to blogging on a regular basis, my "schedule" may be a little less than it has been in the past. Not that I was even a daily poster anyway. I know it helps to post as regularly as possible, but I don't think my mission is to gain readers. So if you're here, great! I hope you stick around. If I get new readers over time, that's great too. I hope those who are here enjoy reading what I post. But I'm not going to be trying to be a "big time" blogger.

That's one thing that will help the pressure I tend to put on myself. As for everything else in my life ....

I'm not a fan of New Year's resolutions. I've done them in the past, they never last long. It's now the end of January anyway, so we're way past the period where everyone posts about how they are not making New Year's resolutions and instead doing x, y, or z, blah, blah, blah. So consider this my non-resolutions for the foreseeable future.

I have a new goal to be done with any sort of emailing, blogging, blog/internet reading, or Facebook time by 11 o'clock each night. I managed to do this for a short period in January and then I got sick and my desire to follow any self-imposed rules fell by the wayside. Whatcha goin' to do.

If I can do the above, I also plan on doing a little bit of reading from an actual book (or maybe the Kindle) before bed. The goal is about 5 pages or so from a good Catholic book. I also added a new tab at the top of the blog to my reading list for the year. Feel free to check it out.

Speaking of good Catholic books ... I am not looking for recommendations. Sorry. I actually have tons of good books that I've never read. I'll be lucky if I read 12 books this year and I guarantee I have more than that around the house. [Probably mostly still in boxes because we have nowhere to put books currently, but I'll figure that out as I go.]

I'm also taking a new look at what I'm choosing to read. I'm not anywhere near the spiritual level required to read some of the books that I have; books that were purchased because they looked so interesting and came so highly recommended. I'm being more realistic with myself. I get bogged down in some of those books. I need to take a step back and read something I'm going to get more out of, something that will lead me down the right spiritual path, something that will prepare me for higher levels of spiritual reading down the road. I think I'll be a lot more successful this way.

Finally, I need to get up when my alarm goes off in the morning (as opposed to an hour later) and spend at least 15-20 minutes in prayer. If I don't do it then I won't do it at all. I know, because I haven't. It's really a very simple solution to a problem I've been struggling with for a very long time. And yet, I can't seem to implement it.

These things are all works in progress. I think over the next year you'll see more posts on how I am progressing in this area and where I am struggling. It's a journey, I know we all have challenges on the journey and I welcome your thoughts and experiences in your similar struggles during the year.

And with that, I will say goodnight. Because it is already way past 11. C'est la vie!

Friday, January 25, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday, no. 51


~1~

I have never been to the March for Life. We were supposed to go in 2009, but we lost Zachary just a few weeks before and it was not a good time to go on that kind of a trip. One day I hope to make it there.

~2~

I was able to listen to part of the opening Mass at the Basilica in DC. Mainly I was interested in the homily, since listening via radio to a 45 minute procession isn't that interesting. Well, the music was good. One thing struck me in particular as Archbishop O'Malley was speaking:
A society that allows parents to kill their children will allow children to kill their parents.
This is a scary thought. Abortion leads eventually to greater acceptance of euthanasia. This is our future.

~3~

Hearing the Archbishop say this reminded me of this quote of Blessed John Paul II from 1996:
A nation that kills its children has no future.
~4~

If you are interested in following the March fro Life live, Catholic Sistas has some of our writers there. They will be tweeting form the event and using the hashtag #SistasMFL13. Search for it on Twitter to get live updates. We're trying to spread the word too so others will use it too. You can use it even to ask questions and maybe someone who is there can answer for you. I'm not a frequent user of Twitter, but I do find that to be a cool feature of Twitter. 

~5~

The Archbishop also mentioned something else in his homily that caught my attention: for every one child that is adopted there are 100 abortions. That just stuns me. Wow! I knew that the increase in abortion in this country had an effect on adoption placements, but hearing that number really puts it into perspective. 

~6~

This needs no words:

~7~

On Friday afternoon I'll be a guest on the Mike Allen Show once again. The show is on at 5pm eastern, I'll be on at 5:30 with Mike. You can listen in by going to the Real Life Radio page and clicking on the "Listen Live" button.

For more Quick Takes, head on over to Jen's blog Conversion Diary.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Ethan (l) and Peter (r) in their new sweater vests
Thanks, Aunt Mary!

Suave Peter

Ethan, figuring out how to use the spoon.


Why are you so excited, Mom?

Spoon, what spoon?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

3rd Annual Ask Them What They Mean By "Choice" Blog Day

In all the testimonials I have ever read or heard from someone who has had an abortion, there are some commonalities in all of them. First of all, they all felt like they did not have a choice. Secondly, they thought, at the time, that abortion was their only choice. And finally, they wish someone had told them that there was a better choice.

It is heart breaking to read those stories or hear those testimonials. You can see the regret on their faces, you can feel it behind their words.

Didn't have a choice.

It was the only choice.

I wish someone had told me I had a different choice.

It is not a choice when you tell a pregnant woman who finds herself in an unplanned pregnancy situation that her only choice is to have an abortion. Especially not when her other choices aren't explained to her fully. And especially not when the only choice she is presented with is not given with all the information.

Is that what you mean by "choice," pro-abortion advocates? Do these women truly understand the choice they are making?

You may think they do, but do you really know. Do they understand that there is a separate individual developing inside of them who already has a beating heart? Do they understand that this "choice" will stop that beating heart and murder that developing human? Do they understand that this "choice" is major surgery, what the complications are, what the risks are? Do they know that post-abortive women have higher rates of suicide than other women?

If the answer is no to any one of those questions (and probably a litany of others), then these women were not given a choice.

Choice is not advocating for one method for all women. Abortion is not a "one-size fits all" solution to every unplanned pregnancy. And no one should have to make a "choice" without all the information in front of them.

I don't know what your definition of choice is, pro-abortion advocates, but it is not the same one I use. I believe that if women were given ALL the facts about abortion and told with complete honesty what ALL their choices were, we wouldn't have lost over 55 million babies in the last 40 years.

This post was written as part of the 3rd Annual Ask Them What They Mean By "Choice" Blog Day hosted by Jill Stanek.
This post is also linked up over at Catholic Bloggers Network.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Writing on Marriage

I'm over at Catholic Sistas today writing on the vocation of marriage. I explore the five characteristics of a vocation as they pertain to marriage. Did you know that marriage is considered a vocation? Here's a very short excerpt (I don't want to give too much away):

Marriage, too, is a vocation. I think this is too easy for many of us to forget. And for many of us, we might not have ever been taught this concept. I wasn't and it has taken awhile for this concept to fully unfold for me. And I’m sure I still have a long way to go. So, how is marriage a vocation? To answer this we need to look at the characteristics of a particular vocation.
Click here to read the whole article.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Christmas and Snow

Peter is excited!

Ethan is trying to figure out why there is paper on everything.

All the cousins in matching jammies!

Back home and it snowed!



What is this stuff?



Heading back in.