Sunday, February 2, 2014

Presenting the Mass

Since today is the feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, our parish priest celebrated Mass with a small addition. He gave us a Presentation of the Mass. What does that mean exactly? It is very simple, hopefully not controversial, and highly educational. He explained the "whats" and the "whys" of Mass. I know, I know. I can hear the statements now: "But I'm a cradle Catholic. I KNOW what the Mass is." However, even though I've gone to church every week for many, many years, am a Catholic author and teacher and Editor-in-Chief of an online Catholic magazine, I still learned something new this morning. I think everyone there did.

At the beginning, he told us instead of a long homily, he was going to explain why he is doing something or why our responses are important. It may have been a little unorthodox, but the gift he gave us was monumental and certainly served Christ. He gave us a better understanding of what is happening at Mass. When we get the meaning - the true meaning- of something, it means more to us. We're not just going to say a few prayers and mumble some responses. No!

We are clearing our souls of venial sins,

 praying in unison with the saints and angels,

 and participating in the miracle that joins heaven and earth.

People of all different levels in their faith journey were there. We will never know the lengths of this great service caused today. There could have been a person who usually misses Mass, but made it today. Imagine the good it did if anything Father said today touched this person's heart. That goes for everyone there. We all learned something new, all grew a little more and hopefully deepened our faith a bit more. Two thousand years ago Mary and Joseph gave gifts in celebration of Jesus' Presentation. Today, our priest did the same.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Thread

Sometimes people hurt us. It may be people close to us or acquaintances. No matter who it comes from, if the attack is a personal one, it hurts just the same. As humans, we often run through a range of emotions when this happens: Anger, discontent, hurt and frustration. These are all normal, human reactions especially if the offender's actions are chronic.

However, as Christians we are called to a higher behavior. Jesus calls on us repeatedly to "forgive" each other.In Matthew18:21 He tells us we should forgive not 7 times, but seventy times seven. In the Lord's Prayer it even states, "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." These are meaningful words-we are asking God to forgive us the way we forgive others. So if we expect God to be merciful to us, we must be merciful to others.

But, not only are we called to forgive those who hurt us, but we are called to pray for them.Praying for those who hurt us seems like a daunting task. Pray for the person who called you those degrading names? Pray for that person who bullies you? Yes! Hurtful people probably need many prayers.

However, this really is as much for us as it is for them. Prayer pulls us closer to God and brings us in His presence. Often times, an offense may be so hurtful that we may be "hanging on by a thread" before giving into the temptations of anger, depression, anxiety, and loneliness. But, I have noticed the times I've been at that point that prayer is the one thing that keeps the "thread" intact. If we pray enough, our hearts will soften, and we let go of the desire for revenge. Instead of a racing mind on "what to say the next time I see them," our hearts and minds will be at peace. Sometimes it may take a few "Hail Marys", other times it could take much more.  But once we have prayed, we can rest peacefully knowing we did right by God and our offender. The peacefulness in our hearts is a much better feeling than the snapping of the "thread" we've been hanging on to.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Why is the Mass so Important

Even the most devout families hear it from the kids:

 "But Moooommmm, do we have to go? Again?"

"We just went last week."

"We go every week!"

And so went our discussion at breakfast this morning. I discussed how attending Mass is something God asks of us, how it is part of the ten commandments, and how it is the only time during the week in which we participate in the Miracle of the Eucharist. After all, we are responsible for our choices. God will not force us to go to church,. He will not force us to choose Him. However, when we make a choice, we also choose the consequences of that choice.

Some were not impressed, and once again it turned into  a "Well, we're going to Church, deal with it," situation.

We make our way to church, with some grumbling along the way. We pick our seats and kneel down in prayer before Mass starts. Part of my prayer was that my children see the benefit of the Mass and why it is so important. I finish my prayer and sit in the pew. I lean over and whisper to the kids, "I want you to be sure to pay attention to what Father says during the Homily." My hope was that in paying attention, the may see some spiritual benefit in going to church in  addition to Holy Communion. I hoped they would hear something that made them "get it".

The time for the Homily came and I was flabbergasted. Did God just answer my prayer? Already? The Homily was mostly about the importance of a funeral mass (tying into today's Gospel) but the priest also stressed why the Mass is important. He stressed Mass and general prayer (for example a prayer service) are not equal. Mass is The Great Prayer. THE prayer. Why? Because we are joining our living and spiritual brothers and sisters in witnessing the miracle of the Eucharist. Mass is the highest form of prayer.

Our priest gave several examples illustrating all his points.During this homily, I watched my children's hearts soften as they began to understand that the Mass is more than an obligation in which people talk and sing for an hour. As Mass continued, I was in awe. Once again (it happens often) being at Mass addressed an issue I have been struggling with. How wonderful that what I had just been teaching my children at breakfast, had been reiterated by a respected priest.

Thank you God for hearing my prayers once again. And thank you for the gift of a devout and holy priest!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Pope Francis and His Recent Comments

I start the day as any other day. Open my Facebook, scroll down my newsfeed when I see it. Is that a photo of Pope Francis on my friends' pages? For my devoted Catholic friends, I find it no surprise. I see it all the time. But my friends who disagree with,dislike, and/or oppose Catholics? Wow, I say to myself in a brief naive moment. Then I read the quote one more time. "If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and is of good will, who am I to judge him?"

Now I get it. Pope Francis had proved their point. It's obvious,isn't it? Pope Francis said that it is okay to live out the homosexual lifestyle. He just said it: "Who am I to judge?" 

Hold the Facebook share button for a second. Is that what the Pope was saying or was that the liberal spin on what he said.? Would a Pope-CAN a Pope - change the teachings of the church? The answer, my friends is no. 

So, what did he say? The quote above is just part of his statements. When asked about homosexual priests living a celibate life, Pope Francis said, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” 

Read more:

People seem to forget, Same sex attraction and homosexuality is not the sin.It is the ACTIONS we do that are sinful.  Orientation is one thing, actions are another. If you are gay (you're orientation), who is to judge? If you act on those desires (action), then it is a sin and must be confessed and turned away from. If you live a chaste, celibate life, and are following the Lord, then who is to judge? 

This does not only apply to homosexuality.It applies to every sin. We are all guilty of sin. It is not what we think about that is sinful, it is the action of that sin (lie,steal,cheat, hit, hurt, kill,swear,missing Mass, worshiping idols, etc) that is sinful. Everyone of us is guilty of sin and in need of God's mercy. All of us deserve His love and forgiveness including homosexuals.That is what our leader was teaching us. 


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Praying for our priests

This is the second week in a row that my local parish priest emphasised how the Gospels of these 2 weeks and Pope Francis' inaugural wish tie together. What was that wish? That we, the members of the Church, take care of each other. We should take care of each other the way the Good Samaritan took care of the injured man on the road. We should take care of each other by showing hospitality the way Martha and her sister Mary did in this week's Gospel. He is right. We should do these things. Many times neighbors do not treat each other well. One might make life difficult instead of easier for the other. But that is not what we are called to do. In contrast I've seen another neighbor help a family just by bringing their trash to the curb when the family was with their child in the hospital battling a serious illness. That IS what we are called to do.

However, I want to take this a step further. I feel we should extend this care and hospitality to our priests. Our priests sacrifice everyday to bring us God's Word, the Eucharist, His Mercy and forgiveness, and many other things we don't "see". Several times in confession a priest will ask at the end, "And please pray for me,"
Wow. Our priests need our prayers and support. They not only face the battles, prejudices and injustices in daily life, but they face a spiritual battle. Remember, they bring us the life-saving Eucharist. They are on the front lines of the battle! They need our prayers.

Now, having heard that call from the pulpit to take care of each other, I felt a deeper call. A call to take care of our priests. How can I do that? Prayer. I plan to incorporate all priests in every prayer I utter and every prayer in my heart.

We are all called to live in Heaven with God and to become saints. If I ever reach that, God willing, I will continue to pray for our priests. They need us. And even more so, we need them

Sunday, July 14, 2013



July 15, 2013 --

Jennifer Gladen, Editor-in-Chief of My Light Magazine announced the latest issue of the magazine is now live online. “We’ve made many changes and improvements this time,” stated the magazine’s founder, “and I think you’re going to love it!”  

Ms Gladen announced several new departments including the new special nonfiction section titled God’s Amazing World. “This is exciting,” the Editor-in-Chief said, “to highlight God’s creation like this and at the same time, teach the children all about how it works.” In addition to this new department, there is also a section for Devotions, Bible stories, and Catechism studies. “There’s something for everyone,” Gladen stated.

Perhaps the newest item to the magazine is the Children’s Submission. “My Light welcomes submissions from children in addition to our authors and illustrators,” Gladen said. “With a parent or guardian’s permission, children may submit a story, poem, prayer, or artwork.” More information on submissions for children is available on the website.

The entire My Light team worked tireless hours putting the new look together. “It’s been a rough road,” stated Gladen, “but like the winning team that we are, we pulled together and came out with another super issue of My Light Magazine.”

For more information about My Light Magazine, please visit
And their blog


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas is Hope

Christmas is a time of hope. It may be hard to remember that this year in the aftermath of the shooting in the Connecticut school. Too many young, innocent and heroic lives were taken just days before Christmas. We see devastation, sorrow and pain all over the nation. We feel for the families who lost their children, sisters, brothers, and cousins. How will any of them ever get through this?

But...just as in Jesus' ultimate suffering - this is not the end of the story. First, these children are probably spending their Christmas with our Lord Himself. Are they huddled by the manger? Are they telling Him all about their families on Earth? Are they celebrating at the ultimate feast where there are no kiddie tables - just one big table?

 Meanwhile, back here, in the aftermath of the shooting, people are bringing a part of Heaven back to Earth. In Heaven there is love. Lots of love. As I read the news, peruse Facebook, and talk with friends and family, I hear stories of people banding together to "do something" to ease the people's suffering in CT.
                                                        ©2012 Jacqueline Gladen

I know a preschool family gathering hearts with messages of love to send to CT. I learned of a project being done to create glittery snowflakes to decorate the CT kids' new school. There are prayers and Masses, being said. There are laws being looked at. There are children creating art and writing poems for these families. There are groups protecting the funerals.  Everyone is pulling together and showing love.

This, my friends, is Hope. This is what Jesus brought into the world 2,000 years ago. This is real compassion to help those who need it most. When these families feel so alone, the country is showing them they are not. Jesus feels our pain. He knows what the suffering of the innocent is like. He shared His sacrificial cup with them, but now they are sharing in His glorifying feast.

Jesus came here to bring hope to us all. And after seeing the country coming together to ease the pain in CT, I still see Christmas Hope amidst all the suffering going on.  God bless the families in CT. God bless His helpers easing the suffering. And  "God bless us, everyone!"