Friday, February 25, 2011

Easter Dress sneak peek...


These are the dresses for the little girls... before they are cut and sewn. Blue for Button and Pink for Jellybean. I found this beautiful Somerset Cottage fabric on sale for $3.30 a yard which is half price (at least).

My plan this year was to find a very simple pattern that can be dressed up for Easter with sweaters and hair flowers and then used all Spring and Summer. I don't have a lot of time so I'm going to eliminate linings (we'll use slips if necessary) and trim and just let the little girls be simply beautiful.

I own a couple similar patterns that I really like. I have made Easter dresses with a lovely pattern from Sense and Sensibility. It's a favorite of mine and rather simple but as I said, I'm cutting out the extra minutes this year. I thought about a pull-over style but said 'yes' to buttons at the last minute. 
And decided on this dress from Olabelhe...


It's actually a nightgown pattern but if I don't tell anyone, I'm sure no one will guess. Minimal yardage. Lots of flexibility with colors, patterns and uses.
It's also designed by a homeschooling mother so I'm very happy to support her family.

I think it's awfully nice that Easter is so late this year. There's a better chance for nice weather and a little more time to sew.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Pray, Play, Think, Link and Sew...

Pray

For Peggy Bowes, the author of The Rosary Workout. She is undergoing surgery today to repair a broken nose (ouch). But for that unfortunate setback, she'd be joining Team ALL FOR! in the Nun Run in March. (personally, I think she needs a better excuse, don't you?) ;-)

Loving Father, we entrust Peggy to Your care this day; guide with wisdom and skill the minds and hands of the medical people who will care for her. Grant that every obstacle to success be removed and that she may be restored to soundness of health and continue to grow ever closer to Your Sacred Heart.
Into Your hands, we commend her body and soul. Amen.
(adapted from a Prayer before Surgery at Catholic Online)

Play

The Dirt Pile has finally found it's purpose. I'm still dreaming of a grassy lawn. For now, this will do.
(There is no sound because I was inside. by the fire. in my fuzzy socks.)

video

Think

Related to the teacher protests underway in Wisconsin...

Only 39 percent of the eighth graders in Wisconsin public schools are proficient or better in mathematics, according to the U.S. Department of Education, despite the fact that Wisconsin spends more per pupil in its public schools than any other state in the Midwest. (more here)

Link


Poland's cassock-clad priests vie in "papal" ski race

Slaloming down the slopes in billowing cassocks in the tracks of their late compatriot Pope John Paul II, Polish priests vie for the "papal cup" prize in the annual clergy ski championships.


Each year ski-mad priests flock to Poland's southern Beskid Slaski mountain range bordering the Czech Republic to indulge their passion, as bemused fellow skiers watch them whiz by in their priestly garb....


(I can't even imagine. If I have a long skirt on, I trip going up stairs. These men are good.)


So far no nuns have taken up the challenge but Father Damian says the slopes are open to them too."If at least three show up one day, we'll create a special category," he vowed.
(I think all the nuns are running in the Nun Run, Father)
"Skiing in cassocks is also a way of demonstrating that the spirit and the body always go together, like the Latin expression 'Mens sana in corpore sano' (A healthy mind in a healthy body)," Sontag told AFP.
"We can do both, hold the rosary and ski poles, get down on our knees and on our skis," he said.
(Thanks for the link, Father B.!)

Sew

Bob Books zipper pouches.
We don't own the Bob Books sets but I know many who do. I can also think of several other book/school related items that are crying out for pretty pouches like these.
Head on over to Small Things to see Ginny's genius at work. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Friendly Fitness Competition... with excellent prizes! Updated!

‘I forget the past and strain ahead for what is still to come.  I am racing for the finish, for the prize to which God calls us upwards to receive in Christ Jesus.’ (Phil. 3:14)


Have you heard about the Nun Run yet? I know that some of you have already joined forces with Team ALL FOR! (our offsite team made up of anyone from anywhere) to make this year the best yet for the nuns... and to train the body to better serve the Lord.

I love a good race, but since we won't be running in Arizona, it will be more difficult to challenge myself without competitors. Not that winning is the most important thing, but for those of us who like a good competition, it can be rather motivating! Lena and I both enjoy a little healthy competition, so we thought we'd spice things up a bit by offering prizes for the top finishers on the ALL FOR! team in both the 10k and 5k runs.

And we've found the perfect prizes...


The ladies at Mamas Movin' With Mary  have generously offered us two of their signature t-shirts to be awarded to the top category finishers. The Mama's have a simple but powerful mission:

Strengthen Your Body, Strengthen Your Soul

We are three moms who love walking for exercise. In 2009 we decided to train for the Columbus half Marathon. Our team walks took place on Saturday mornings and we often talked about how wonderful it was to take time for ourselves. Each week we prayed a rosary together and as our devotion to the Blessed Mother grew our hears became filled with peace and we felt a closer connection to our Lord. We began to fully appreciate and understand the phrase "To Jesus through Mary". With increased endurance and enriched faith we completed the Columbus Half Marathon and called ourselves "Mama Movin' With Mary".
It is now our goal to inspire others to take time for themselves and "Get Movin' With Mary".

A HUGE thank you to Veronica, Lisa and Juliet for their generosity and love of the Lord!
Want to be inspired? Go check out their website and read. Then register, share your own story and spread the word!

How to compete

After the race day is over, we'll have interested runners submit finish times and contact information with permission to post the numbers along with first names (or pseudonyms, if you prefer). 

*  Race day is Saturday, March 12th. 
*  Results will be accepted until Wednesday, March 16th.
You can submit results to either me (my contact info is in the left sidebar of this blog) or to Lena.
*  List and winners will be posted on Friday, March 18th.

UPDATED!!!
We're working on new categories with new prizes! We have received confirmation of donations from
Mamas Movin' With Mary
The Rosary Workout (Peggy Bowes)
Romantic Catholic Tees
With all these great prizes, we just had to add new categories... we'll keep in touch with updates!

First Place Prize: 
TBA

Second Place Prize: 
TBA

Third Place Prize:
TBA


Haven't registered for the race yet? Go to Lena's for more information.

Love Him Like a Brother...

Join me over at CatholicMom.com where I share some ideas on how to help our priests be everything God made them to be.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

As shiftless as Little Boy Blue...



I found this over at Laura the Crazy Mama and it made me feel so happy. I think I'll go hold my baby now... 

Babies Don’t Keep
By Ruth Hulbert Hamilton

Mother, O Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing, make up the bed,
Sew on a button and butter the bread.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I’ve grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue,
Lullabye, rockabye, lullabye loo.
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due,
Lullabye, rockaby, lullabye loo.
The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo,
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo,
Lullabye, rockaby lullabye loo.

The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
But children grow up as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs;
Dust go to sleep!
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Canadian government will kill baby Joseph on Monday...Updated



Why government health care is a seriously BAD idea...
The father of baby Joseph told LifeSiteNews, "Monday at 10:00 a.m. they will kill my baby.  There's no more humanity.  There's no more chance.  I've tried everything for him.  No more appeals, nothing.  I asked them, why not send him to Windsor and let him die at home?  They said they will give him injection, but I don't want to."

"I ask God, and maybe he breathe," he added.  "I do my best for my baby.  My son is not a criminal. to just let him die."
"They are taking my baby from me.  Where is the humanity?"
Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, who has been communicating with the parents, says this makes no sense whatsoever.  "I don't get it.  There's nothing here I get.  It makes no sense.  What is in this for the hospital and doctors?  Why would they bother doing this?  Is it that they want to simply say, we have control?  If it's about their control, then we're in serious trouble.  They now control when someone lives and when someone dies, and who makes those decisions and how those decisions are made."  
Schadenberg said the court appears to be saying that hospitals and doctors can make decisions for patients whether they like it or not.  "It's worse than the death panel concept that's being debated in the U.S.  It really is, it's much worse.  They're saying, 'We will decide.' They're not even going to converse with you.  'We have the weight of the Court, we have the financial bearing of a massive government institution to be able to force this on you.'"


And it seems that's not the only big anti-life action in Canada this week as a Catholic priest sues LifeSiteNews for $500,000 in an effort to shut it down. Fr. Raymond gravel is suing the pro-life organization for libel, insisting that it was the sites reports about him that cost him his position in public office and his position as chief catechist for his diocese. 

This is the same priest who publicly stated in 2004 that “I am pro-choice and there is not a bishop on earth that will prevent me from receiving Communion, not even the Pope.”

Thank God the Vatican took action against him forcing him to reveal his truest colors as an enemy of life. That it took this kind of intervention before his bishop would remove him is outrageous.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Ex Corde Ecclessiae Academy blog


I've started to put a few items of interest over at our home education blog. I'm not really in the "flow" of it yet but that will come once I have the format to my tastes. (In my free time, of course.) In the meantime, I do have a couple useful items and links there. Blossoming Joy will continue to include homeschooling items but I need one place to find, store and share links, project ideas and resources more easily. Come join me there? And if you have places and people you love to visit, please drop me a line there with the info!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Your Invitation to Run for a Cause! The Nun Run!


I have NOT ARRIVED.
I am far from the finish line.
But I am on CHRIST'S TEAM.
His love ignites me.
...His power fuels me.
His mission compels me.
I AM COMMITTED to Christ
and to this race.
I will run STRONG and run LONG.
Who will join me?
Team ALL FOR! 



Please join us in participating in the 2nd Annual NUN RUN 2011 - March 12, 2011.




The Nun Run will be held in Tempe, AZ but you do not have to live in AZ to participate.  It will benefit the Our Lady of Solitude Monastery and the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration (Mother Angelica’s Order) in AZ.

Team ALL FOR! will be participating as a Shadow Team and will NOT be running in AZ.  As a member of Team ALL FOR!, you will run wherever you are are and participate as a Shadow Runner.

You can select to run a 10K Run, 5K Run/Walk, or 1 Mile Walk.

Lena is the captain of our Team ALL FOR! shadow team. The creation of this team is a fruit of her current journey and the first official activity is the participation in the Nun Run.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Catholic Fitness



I know that there are many of us blogging mamas who have committed ourselves to weight loss and better health in 2011. I started my own postpartum fitness journey at the beginning of January. After alluding to my health and fitness goals in a December post, the good Lord sent me Lena, a fellow Catholic homeschooling mom, to be my accountability partner (the very same day). Since then, we've been working hard toward our toward our goals (physical and spiritual) ALL FOR Jesus through Mary.

When I initially wrote about my fitness goals, I had no idea how fruitful this partnership and journey would be. While we both have very specific physical targets, I think the greatest area of challenge and growth has been with my spiritual fitness.

Lena and I came up with a fitness motto for the year and have been encouraging each other to finish the race for Christ. My heartfelt thanks to Lena! But first and foremost to my Heavenly Father Who knows what I need and always provides.



‘I forget the past and strain ahead for what is still to come.  I am racing for the finish, for the prize to which God calls us upwards to receive in Christ Jesus.’ (Phil. 3:14)


Shortly after we began, I discovered that another Catholic mama, Cecilia, had similar goals and had invited the blogging world to join in her own race. I have been following her personal blog, Little Saints in the Making, for a while but now she has added another one, dedicated to Blessed Mother, and journaling her commitment to taking care of her body, her Temple of the Holy Spirit. In her first post, she shares that the Sacred Scriptures have helped redefine and strengthen her resolve this year...

Do you not know that your body is temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Cor. 6:19-20)

She writes:

"Your body, my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. Glorify God in your body. What does Glorify God in my body really mean to me? Does it mean get on a diet, lose the weight and workout 24/7? Nah..
Glorify God. I was bought with a great price, you were bought with a great price. How do we say Thank you when are given something? We take care of it. No one has ever or will ever give you a gift greater than what Christ gave us.
So as I said, it hit me or maybe it was the Holy Spirit trying to speak to my deaf ear/heart, I have to Glorify God in my life through my works, my heart, words and my body. I can't let another year go by with the same not taken care body (high weight) and truly give Thanks to God.
So now what? where do I go? I am busy person, so are you?(I am writing this through a few days of busy work).
Do I join a gym? Go on a diet?
No, I get my magazine and read in bed in a winter lazy day. But what I found , was God's way of showing me How or at least the start of my How in Glorifying God."


What she discovered was a program called the Rosary Workout and she has been faithfully following it and recording her progress for us... with us. Dig into her blog a bit and I'm sure you'll be as inspired as I was. She understands that fitness is not just about beautification or strength of the body, but about purifying our temples so that we may be free and strong to serve Christ faithfully. One feature I particularly like is her selection of Monday Mortifications and her challenge for us to do the same. This Monday, she challenges us to consider the Heroic Minute, which is when we rise, without hesitation, at a fixed time. Ironically, I had only the day before been telling my children about this... and interiorly excusing myself from the commitment! I'm exhausted! I'm sick! I don't need to do it... I'M LAZY! 

Today, I thank God, once again, for the unexpected friendships with which He has provided me - even though some of us have never (and may never) meet in person - sisters who will never stop loving me and challenging me to love Christ more and more every day.

 * I must also give a huge digital hug here to my CAST sisters (and Daffy in particular) who have never met me but have never hesitated to love me so generously. You all know who you are! You ladies have taught me how to love more deeply and strive to more closely imitate Christ in his generosity. You have blessed me and raised the bar for me and I will always be grateful beyond words. Deo Gratias!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Baby...

Mama's Littlest Valentine
3 months

Saturday, February 12, 2011

St. Valentine's Day Vigil for Victims...

"It's time to strip Planned Parenthood of the $363,000,000 of taxpayer funding they take in every single year."


"We're standing up for life and for love."


Thursday, February 10, 2011

St. Valentine's Day Activities, Gifts and Links...



Keep it Christ-centered... it is, after all, a Catholic feast day. It is about remembering to tell people they're loved (and giving them chocolate), but more deeply rooted in the kind of passionate love that would give a man the courage to offer his very life for another. Some people feel a little left out of the festivities if they don't have a significant other on a day that celebrates love. Perhaps they wouldn't feel that isolation if they were told that the day really celebrates the love of a great friend of Christ who was neither married nor seeking to be married. The heart of St. Valentine was with Christ... and his love for others stemmed from that primary devotion.

It is somewhat irritating to have such a beautiful feast co-opted by secular culture... but there's no reason we can't take it back for Christ. And it's so much fun for the kids to celebrate with gifts and treats. Here are some ideas to make it special.

Cell Phone Charm with swarovski crystal heart and medal
I made a pro-life charm (below) using a blue crystal heart and a precious feet medal.


Other combinations that might be nice:
*red heart with sacred heart medal
*light blue heart with miraculous medal
*pink heart with St. Therese

Need a pretty gift box? 
Make one out of paper. The kids and I have been making these for years out of old greeting cards or specialty papers. (Video tutorial here)

Valentines
Looking for Valentine's for a child to hand out? How about a holy card?
These St. Valentine cards from CatholicPrayerCards.org, which include a prayer and bio of St. Valentine on the back, are perfect...


... Or choose the Sacred Heart of Jesus (or any other image) and print your own message on the back. Some excellent saints' quotes on love can be found at Catholic Fire.

Or have the kids paint or draw pictures of the sacred heart. If you need lots of cards for friends and family, scan the image, and print in smaller sizes. (See Crash's work at the top of this post)

You could also make some of these little cookies (among my absolute favorite goodies) and use a holy card as a tag.

I found the following ideas while poking around my favorite blogs...





Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Homeschooling consolations

Homeschooling is a wonderful way of life but it is also pretty challenging at times. Sometimes it takes a while to see progress. Sometimes we're a little too close to the action to notice progress. Here are a couple encouraging moments from the week...


Consolation #1

Overheard during independent Math work...

Crash: (groaning) I wish that I didn't have to do this at all.

Professor: But just think... you need to know how to do what you're doing now really well so that you can get to the really FUN Math like I'm doing!

Crash: (sighing) I know. I guess I'm getting pretty good at this anyway.

Let me restate this. Professor is doing Algebra right now which he truly thinks is really "fun." Then he tells his little brother (who thinks Professor is the coolest boy on the planet) how he should work hard to get to the "fun" stuff. And little brother (who would be happiest playing cowboys and knights all day long and loves to holler and run about) believes the older brother and buckles down to work.

This is most unexpected and wonderful.

Consolation #2

Crash, the wild and crazy (but wonderful) child with a teeny tiny attention span, started practice with his club volleyball team this month. At his age, most kids do tend to be little scattered and most of his teammates are silly and do not pay attention well. I assumed he'd fit right in. However...

... While he is still his energetic self on the court, he is also surprisingly mild and attentive when compared with his peers. His siblings reported the remarkable behavior after the first practice and I noticed it clearly after attending practice myself. It took a great deal of will power not to rush onto the court and shower the boy with motherly kisses.

This is also most unexpected and wonderful.


Thank you, Jesus.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Feeding Large Families - French Toast Sticks

French toast sticks -- One of my favorite make-ahead recipes. Very tasty. Freezes beautifully and heats up in a snap in the oven or microwave for snacks, meals or up-at-dawn-pre-tournament food. 

Two Loaves of Texas Toast 

Plus a Dozen Eggs... and this and that (recipe below)


Equals LOTS of french toast


An hour later... *sigh*


This recipe used to go a whole lot farther. I found it on a once-a-month cooking website several years ago. I would pack it up in freezer bags and take out portions as needed. As you can see, I'm going to have to increase my recipe quantities.

Highly recommended. So yummy that my littlest one doesn't even use maple syrup. (The secret is the 3 cups of sugar and maple syrup IN the batter... but eggs are nutritious... just think about all the eggs and you won't feel guilty.)

French Toast Sticks

12  Eggs
3   cups Confectioner's Sugar
1.5  cups Milk
2/3  cup Maple Syrup
1.5  tsp Ground Cinnamon
38 pieces or 2 loaves of Texas Toast  (or 48 pieces of regular white bread if you prefer but I think it comes out too floppy) cut into 3 or 4 strips (I do 3)
Butter

In a bowl or large dish, beat together the eggs, sugar, milk, maple syrup and cinnamon with a fork or wire whisk until well blended. Dip each bread strip into the egg mixture, coating completely. In a large skillet or griddle, melt 1 Tbs of butter over medium heat. Cook the bread strips a few at a time for 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until golden, adding more butter as needed. 

The batter needs to be whisked each time you fill the griddle since the cinnamon and maple syrup tend to sink.

(Cooking goes MUCH faster if you have a large griddle. Mine sits over two burners and I'm done in a fraction of the time it used to take me.)

Serve immediately or allow to cool, then cover and chill until ready to serve. Freeze. When ready to serve, reheat in the oven or toaster oven for 5 to 7 minutes or until heated through. If you are short on time, the microwave works. I prefer them toasted but kids seem to be far less particular. Some even like them cold and snitch pieces from the fridge.

*note* This recipe is not easily done with baby in arms. Resist the urge. Plan well. 






Monday, February 7, 2011

How to forgive anyone...


When you look at me, what do you see? Do you see the woman God made me to be or the broken sinner bent on thwarting His beautiful plan?

When you look at me, what do you feel? Do you feel gratitude for how He has worked in my life? Or do you feel the pain that I have caused you with my words and actions?

Does it have to be one or the other? Can we see both... looking through the scars and woundedness to a place of innocence and joy?

You see me as I am now. As I present myself to you. As I hurt you or comfort you, show my face or hide my heart. But do you see me as I was meant to be? And will you call me forth to come into my own?

If you struggle with forgiveness, I can offer you a way to find it... an opportunity to uncover that place in your heart that can't fight mercy. It's a little exercise. I can't promise it will work. I can promise you that God will work... even if you can't feel it yet...

Find a photograph of the one you wish to forgive. Not just any photograph, but a very early one... or maybe two or three if you can manage. One of infancy, another of toddlerhood, perhaps another at about 3 or 4 years of age. Baptismal photos are good... or in the mother's arms. If you do not have an actual picture, imagine a small child. If you do not think in images, find a picture of an unknown infant and imagine that the child in the photo is the one you are trying to see.


Now close your eyes and pray. Beg the Lord to help you SEE. Beg Him to help you have COMPASSION. And MERCY. Ask the Holy Spirit to flood your mind and soul and vision... that you  may only see now through God's eyes. And that you may be able to forgive.

Open your eyes and examine the pictures before you. Imagine holding that infant. Look into the eyes of the child and SEE the innocence and the beautiful plan that God intended. Think like a mother. Think of all of the hopes and dreams that you would have for such a little person. See the little one smiling up to you and reaching. See baby fall... and the tears... and running to dry them and kiss them away.

God's baby. God's little one. At this moment, that little heart is in your hands. Now, even if you don't feel it, Say out loud:

You are His beautiful child and I forgive you for His sake. 

I have done this a few times. All times but one it was an accidental (providential) moment. Once, I was sent a childhood photograph by a person who had hurt me. Perhaps she knew me well enough to know the effect it would have. It was her First Holy Communion portrait and her eyes were shining with a beautiful innocent joy. I could SEE her for the first time and all bitterness left my heart. Forgiveness does not always mean reconciliation but it is still necessary. There is still brokenness. There is still division. But I cannot see the radiant face of God's little girl and withhold my forgiveness. The image from that photograph has not left me.

I found a picture of my own childhood one day and really LOOKED for the first time. And I wept at what I saw because I saw what I thought was lost. Then I knew that He still SEES and loves and forgives His little girl. He always has the face of my innocence before Him.

We aught to do this for each other. I mean, that we should continually see each other through the Father's eyes and recall each other to our purpose... to the image in which we were made. We should practice seeing what may be hidden and calling out to the little soul in hiding.


"Only when we see God’s presence in each other in the small ways are we then able to progress to other areas where we are called to love." (from a homily by Deacon Franz Dool)

Mother Teresa of Calcutta saw our Lord in every person. I am not so good as that. The mother in me sometimes needs to start with a baby picture.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Bishops willing to go to jail to stop immoral laws

No, not the US bishops. (Wouldn't that be something though?) The Filipino bishops have announced a "civil disobedience" campaign against proposed reproductive health laws.

In short, these bishops are willing to go to prison in order to stop a law that will allow sale of abortifacient contraceptives, family planning programs in schools and deny conscience protection for health-care workers.

Now that's some holy backbone.

Read more at CatholicCulture.org.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Home Economics for Boys


The Professor is none to fond of folding laundry, but when he does it, he does it extremely well. I didn't realize how good he actually was because he'd fold and put away (shocking) before I could catch a glimpse. Recently, however, he forgot a pile of t-shirts on the edge of the couch. I could not figure out which of my lovely children was capable of producing such a tidy stack. I stood stunned and eventually shouted...

"WHO folded that laundry???"

The kids all thought someone was in trouble. "Not me!"  "I didn't do it!"  "I didn't touch the laundry."

The Professor walked in and said, "I did that. Why do you ask?"

"YOU did it? How did you learn to do that?"

"Remember that YouTube video on Japanese t-shirt folding you showed us a couple years ago?"

"I just thought it was kind of clever... I honestly didn't think you'd actually use it! Well, congratulations. You officially fold laundry better than your mother."


"I know. I'm faster than you are, too."

"Uh huh... maybe you should take over all folding duties."

"No thanks. I'd rather hold the baby while you do the laundry."


Now, maybe you aren't that impressed because you are wonderful with laundry, but let it be known that I am a lousy folder. It is one of my least favorite household duties. I have never learned to do it properly and I rush through it. Things get all bumpy and for the most part, I don't really care. But my teenage son has raised the bar and I headed back to YouTube to find that video. I found a bunch of them. For all kinds of shirts and clothes. In fact, I think that will be our school for the day: Clothes Folding 101. Maybe I'll start to discover more little piles of beautiful laundry all over the house! :)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

"the boundaries of chastity"

By now, most attentive Catholics have probably read Fr. Euteneuer's statement clarifying the circumstances of his removal as president of HLI. Add me to the number of faithful who were very disappointed, once again, by a trusted shepherd. You can also count me among those who were expressly relieved. Relieved? At sin?

In light of the recent scandals in the Church, I do have to say that I was relieved that his public confession at least in no way indicated a criminal act. Sin is sin... I'm not downplaying that.  When he was first removed, I thought of a dozen terrible possible scenarios that might be behind it. We have seen a lot of truly horrific things happen through the hands of our clergy in the last few years. So, yes, I was at least partially relieved. A sacramental Confession was made. And God is a God of mercy.

Father's actions have cast a shadow on all of the good work he has done for the pro-life movement and the Church. It is terribly sad. I can't fathom the evil he faced on a daily basis between his work fighting the murder of innocent babies and exorcisms. I'm sure the demons he spent his time fighting are rejoicing. But one thing the forces of evil cannot contend with is God's MERCY. And in that, they have surely been defeated. Unlike some other high profile priests who have fallen, Father Euteneuer offered a humble and public apology and intends to remain a Catholic priest and continue to serve Christ in obedience to his bishop. Repentance. Forgiveness. Obedience. Mercy. Thank God.

This unfortunate incident can do us all a service in highlighting the great need for prudence in our dealings with members of the opposite sex, particularly our priests. For women, spiritual direction does not justify excessive, isolated time alone with a priest. Even if we do not see a danger for ourselves, in charity, we aught to take precautions in defense of his purity. His collar is a sign of his vocation; it does not mean that he is not tempted. What can we do to help our priests stay pure? Even simple things like moving a meeting location to a more visible area can be done while still having the benefit of guidance. Or making meeting time brief to force focus. Or recognizing that our emotional attachments are stronger than they should be... and backing off. Let us not be a hinderance to priests but fight for them like they are one of our own children.

There is a current thought in some Catholic circles that a sign of true spiritual progress is when we can be in the presence of temptation and feel nothing but gratitude to God; that continence is not the same (or as elevated) as virtue;  that we aught to be able to intentionally look upon the flesh without danger; that "custody of the eyes" is fine for some but not best for any.  Some very popular speakers teach these ideas. I may be considered old-fashioned, but I prefer the maxim of St. Josemaria Escriva regarding preserving holy purity in the face of temptation...

"Don't be such a coward as to be 'brave'. Flee!"

No one is above the kind of fall that Fr. E. just publicly confessed. If I think I am, then I am already halfway in the clutches of the enemy who would love to catch me off guard. How easy it is to get in the door if the watchman is asleep, convinced that no evil will come. Beware of placing so much trust in yourself that you forget to RUN when you need to. Even St. Thomas Aquinas did not look gratefully upon his temptress and marvel in the goodness of God's creation, or even politely offer her the door... but chased her off threatening with a burning brand!

Have I ever experienced a strong temptation to break my vows. No. Do I think I will ever fall in this way? No, I don't. Did Father? I seriously doubt it. I intend to remain faithful to my marriage vows to my dying day. In order to make sure that happens, I need to consciously stay out of unsafe situations and get out of the ones I may find myself in.

There's a similar principle in self-defense classes. Before teaching you how to karate chop your way out of an abduction, the experts will teach you the two primary weapons of self-defense:

#1 -- Don't put yourself in unsafe situations.


#2 -- RUN! Get Away!

Once the criminal has you in his clutches, he doesn't easily let go. Only in movies do the svelt, skinny chicks beat the stuffing out of gigantic career bad guys with guns.

Perhaps many of us have imagined ourselves joyfully wearing a martyr's crown (angelic tough chicks who kick the stuffing out of sin!)... only to be defeated by a chocolate chip cookie, or laziness, or gossip. And we imagine that we would never, ever fall in such a way as Father...

Let us be vigilant for ourselves. For our children. For the Church. For our holy priests... 

...And give thanks to God for his mercy and for granting Father E. the humility to repent and begin again in obedience. Father's work saving little lives through HLI may be over, but God has allowed for the salvation of his soul.  Jesus went to the Cross just for that reason. Blessed be the Lord!


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