Catholic Meme Monday— Issue 25

Hope you had a Christmas! 🙏😊

Time for another Catholic Meme Monday.

It’s a beautiful moment.
Dinosaurs 🦖 or #Christmas 🎄?
Amen!
One of the best lines from The Office. 😆😆😆
‘Tis the season for Jesus.
Ancient Jewish bumper stickers.
Waiting…still waiting.
Soooo epic. 🙂
😆😆😆
A belated Advent meme. 🙂
One epic Venn diagram. 😁
“For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” —1 Corinthians 15:21-22.
Best gift to give is Jesus.
Oh death 💀☠️ where is your sting?

That’s all I have this week. Stay alert for next week’s Catholic Meme Monday. Receive updates straight to your email inbox by subscribing to The Simple Catholic blog.

Thank you for sharing!

The Simple Catholic’s Second Christmas Card

Happy First Anniversary of the inaugural Chicoine Family Christmas Card!

This year my parents are too tired and busy (it seems like adults are always tired) to pitch in to help. And my siblings get too distracted doing art, playing carwash or swinging around like Spider-Man. It’s up to me (again) to provide an accurate summary of our year.

I’m going to turn three soon and I like to share my wisdom I learned over the past year along with trying to make my boring family seem interesting. We will go in age order (I hear that phrase all the time— especially when it comes to opening presents).

Mommy

This year has been the most challenging year of teaching for mommy. She teaches between two buildings. I don’t know their names because I’m a toddler and get easily distracted (wanders off to leap off the couch with siblings).

Mommy is the best and I love her very much. She helped me get speech and OT therapies. And she lets me eat off her dinner plate! She and daddy talk a lot about the basement (it’s getting finished) and enjoys coffee. I think she needs it to stay awake because my brothers and sister wear her out.

Mommy also loves helping everyone learn and enjoys decorating our new home. She also gives great hugs!

I think mommy’s greatest accomplishment this year is helping me learn this year!

Daddy

Daddy still works evenings. He has to take naps in the morning. I enjoy spending time with daddy because he takes me to the library, watches Blippi with me, and cuddles with me.

I occasionally still try to obtain a sip of his coffee. Daddy doesn’t like this for some reason. Maybe my siblings also wear him out like they make mommy tired. But the times I do get to taste coffee it is awesome!!! I feel so fast and powerful.

Daddy still writes for his blog and includes some of my antics in it. He recently mentioned something about Tea with Tolkien but I don’t know what that means. Maybe he wrote something for them.

Probably the most important of daddy’s accomplishments is giving me horsey rides. It’s fun!

Noah

Noah is in fourth grade at “the school whose name I don’t know” (again because I’m a toddler and get easily distracted with details). He played soccer in the spring and fall. According to my parents, Noah scored his first goal in soccer. I wasn’t there because I was too busy playing with toys at home.

Noah loves Marvel superheroes (we jump around like Spider-Man a lot lately) and loves reading. He also finds long division fun and leads the family in creative play.

I think Noah’s greatest accomplishment this year is rocking my to sleep in the rocking chair. I love my big brother!

Amelia

Amelia is in second grade at “the school whose name I don’t know”. She loves drawing and creating unique things out of paper, cardboard, tape, and other craft supplies. Some of her neatest creations this year were a cardboard platypus and a picture of Wanda (Scarlet Witch). Daddy thought the Wanda drawing was amazing.

Amelia has made a lot of neighborhood friends. (and Noah too). Noah and her learned how to roller blade. I am learning and wear one skate 🛼 to travel in the living room.

My sister is the best because she loves me and helps me get dressed, brushes my hair, and usually lets me play with her toys.

Amelia’s most important accomplishment this year is painting my fingernails. I love my sister!

Josiah

Josiah is a kindergarten at the “school whose name I don’t know”. He is adjusting pretty well to the elementary school life. He has receives speech, OT, and PT therapy at school which help him a lot.

My brother is obsessed with carwashes and garbage trucks. My dad even for a membership to a “carwash whose name I don’t know” (editor’s note: the carwash membership is for Silverstar Car Wash). Josiah plays carwash or garbage truck most days. He sometimes even lets me help him set up the car wash!

Josiah also got to help the garbage truck worker put the can in the back of the truck. He was so excited. He makes me laugh like no one else. My brother is great at distracting my parents so I can achieve my shenanigan quota for the day (some days I worry I won’t hit my goal)..

Josiah’s biggest accomplishment for this year is teaching me how to cut with scissors and helping me draw. I love my other big brother!

Avila Catherine Geraldine

Why do I get my full name displayed? It’s the least I deserve considering I spearheaded my family’s Christmas letter (again).

I don’t go to “school whose name I don’t know” in fact I don’t go to school—yet. Mommy and daddy say I will be going to early childhood starting in January. It will be at a different school that my siblings go to. To avoid confusion I will call it “different school whose name I don’t know”.

This year was one of adventure and growth for me. I learned so many new words and skills. Speech and OT therapies have helped me so much.

I still struggle with the “wigglies” at Mass. My parents have to take me out a decent amount because of how loud my worship is.y reasoning is if Jesus is God and he saved us why not shout it from the pew (I can’t reach a rooftop. Plus my parents stop me even when I stand on a table. They aren’t fun).

Live your life to the fullest. Thank the people who helped you grow and learn. Count your blessings and your stuffed unicorns. And don’t waste time learning the names of schools whose name you don’t know.

Love,

ACGC— Muffin Miscreant, Coffee Culprit, and Adventure Seeker

P.S. Special thanks to my daddy for editing the Chicoine Family Christmas Card. I paid him in hugs.

Thank you for sharing!

4 Reasons Why Crying Out to God is Essential for the Spiritual Life


Editor’s Note: Post originally published on June 16, 2017.


Emotions ran high in my family yesterday. I struggled with a stressful situation at work and my son fell off his bike and scrapes his knee—a meltdown ensued. Feelings are part of the fabric of what it means to be human. I am not proud to admit this, but I have greatly failed in keeping my feeling in check during the past couple weeks.

On my drove to work this morning, words from a Christian song over the radio jogged a thought I had about prayer and our communication of God. I pondered how natural it is for humanity to complain when things do not go your way. How do we overcome the sin of complaining? Listening to the song lyrics I realized the answer is incredibly simple—cry out to God!

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Using examples from the Scriptures, excerpts from Saint John of the Cross’ Dark Night of the Soul, and my own personal experiences I give 4 reasons why “crying out to God” is not complaining but rather an essential part of the spiritual life.

Lesson from Lamentations

Latent within the Old Testament, Lamentations is not among the first books that pop into my mind for having spiritual insight. I usually think of Proverbs or the Book of Wisdom. Lamentations is a collection of five poems that act as a woeful reply to the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C. Both individual and communal prayers of sorrow are found in this book. For my purposes today I will only focus on Lamentations 3:19-31 (click on link to see the full Bible passage) which contains an individual lament.

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The inspired writer of Lamentations speaks directly to me in this passage. His words, “Over and over, my soul is downcast,” calls to mind my state of mind and relationship with God over the past several weeks. I was downtrodden and I frequently wanted to give up. Interestingly enough, I actually pondered the fact that there is a glimmer of hope in my situation. The writer of Lamentations is prophetic again when he states, “I tell myself, therefore I will hope in him. 25The LORD is good to those who trust in him, to the one that seeks him; 26It is good to hope in silence for the LORD’s deliverance.”

Crying Out to God in Psalm 22

According to Mark 15:34, Jesus cries out to the Father in similar fashion as the book of Lamentations and myself when I encounter the stresses of life. The evangelist writes, “And at three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?”* which is translated, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

These words used to befuddle me.

I have since learned that Jesus was invoking the psalmist’s lamenting words in Psalm 22. The psalm begins as a sorrowful prayer to God but similar to Lamentations 3 it ends with hope [see Psalm 22:23-32]. Reading these words, the Holy Spirit connected the dots for me on this subject. Verse 30 references homage toward God on bended knee and I already was planning on talking about how lament leads to kneeling before God even before I read Psalm 22!! The movement of the Holy Spirit is mysterious yet true.

Dark Night of a Soul

Saint John of the Cross was a great mystic of the Catholic Church during the 16th century. His spiritual work Dark Night of the Soul is as relevant today as it was when it was originally written. I will only focus on the dark night of the purgation of our senses and tie it to the theme of crying out towards God. The major characteristic of this dark night is the soul finding no pleasure or consolation in the things of God. I find myself occasionally in a “spiritual rut” where I do not receive consolation or experience direct joy from God.

St. John tells us to not worry,

“It is well for those who find themselves in this condition to take comfort, to persevere in patience and to be in no wise afflicted. Let them trust in God, Who abandons not those that seek Him with a simple and right heart, and will not fail to give them what is needful for the road, until He bring them into the clear and pure light of love” (Chapter X no 3).

Like the writer of Lamentations, John of the Cross, reminds us purgation is necessary to increase our holiness and awareness of God.

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Skinned Up Knees Leads to On Bended Knee

This week my wife and I added training wheels to our son’s first bicycle. We taught him the fundamentals of pedaling and coaxing him when he got frustrated because they were “too heavy”.

Things were going well. He gained momentum and cruised on our neighbor sidewalk for about 50 feet.

Suddenly he hit a raised section of the sidewalk and toppled off his bike. Tears immediately streamed down his face. My wife added a Band-Aid and after a few minutes of reassurance had him get back on the bike to try again.

falling off bike.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

How does this common childhood experience relate to the spiritual life? Oftentimes we get metaphorical “skinned up knees”. Gossip in the workplace or stressful family events damage our relationship with God. True growth is not without pain—both in learning to ride a bike and deepening our spiritual life. Having undergone lots of skinned up knees in learning to ride my bike it makes it easier for me to be on bended knee in prayer to thank God for going through the school of trials to learn more about Him.

The difference between complaining and lamenting is the former lacks the virtue of hope. Complaining is more self-centered in orientations whereas prayers of lament focus communication with our Divine Creator. Do not be ashamed to cry out to God but remember that while it is a necessary step in the spiritual process– it is only the beginning. May we always ask the Holy Spirit to lead us toward prayers of thanksgiving after a season of lament!

Related Links

4 Reasons to Never Worry—Trust God Will Provide

Prayer― Catholic Answers

7 Ways to Shield Yourself against Anxiety!

Arrow Prayers: A Powerful Way to Cry Out to God

Thank you for sharing!

Catholic Meme Monday— Issue 24

Hope you had a Gaudete Sunday! 🙏😊

Time for another Catholic Meme Monday.

A belated Gaudete Sunday meme. 💖💕
Monday Mirth. 🙂
Legitimate debates. 🙂😆
A week I look forward to every year!
But can you really have too much chocolate?
🍫🍫🍫🍫
A feast some get mix up. 🙂😆
Classic Moses and tablet humor.
Best Catholic meme ever!!! 😆😆😆
🎵🎶 The more you know 🎶🎵
More Monday Mirth (and belated Saint Nick’s Day humor). 😆
Hope you have a joyful week. 🙏

That’s all I have this week. Stay alert for next week’s Catholic Meme Monday. Receive updates straight to your email inbox by subscribing to The Simple Catholic blog.

Thank you for sharing!

Siphoning Sanctity? How to Reconcile Mark 5:21-43’s Peculiar Passage with Reality

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on July 4, 2018.


Having taught high school Old and New Testament in the past and being a cradle Catholic, the newness of the Good News found in the Bible sometimes gets taken for granted. During the Liturgy of the Word for Sunday’s Mass, the Gospel reading actually penetrated my theological torpor and liturgical listlessness. Mark 5:21-43 details two healing stories in one gospel proclamation. The evangelist began with a synagogue official named Jarius pleading to Jesus to save his daughter near death.

Random or Intentional Detail in the Gospel of Mark?

On the way toward Jarius’ residence, Mark inserts a random tangent. He tells of the woman afflicted with a hemorrhage for a dozen years! Jesus heals this poor woman, and the passage concludes with Jesus raising Jarius’ daughter from the dead.

questions

Reflecting on this passage the following questions invaded my mind:

  • Why does Mark insert a seemingly random story within a healing story? Could he not simply detail the healing of the hemorrhaging woman after completing the passage on the healing of Jarius’ daughter?
  • Does this Gospel reading contain the strangest sentence uttered by Jesus: Who has touched my clothes? Is he not omniscient and all-knowing as God?
  • Power flowing from Jesus…what a peculiar way to describe the healing incident?

These questions initially perplexed me, however, when I had time to think about the passage and re-read the evangelist’s words and interpret in light of the teaching of the Catholic Church I learned of the deeper more spiritual meaning hidden within Mark 5:21-43 and how it relates to my life today.

Christ Willing to Save All—Social Status does not matter

Sandwiched between the beginning and the end of the healing of Jarius’ daughter, Mark inserted Jesus’ encountered a woman suffering from a blood disorder. After careful review, I noticed the juxtaposition between the two individuals. Below is a chart that showing the differences in how Jarius’ daughter and the unnamed woman came to learn about Jesus.

Jarius’ Daughter Woman Suffering Hemorrhage
Young Older
Prestigious Family Poor
Father’s Intercedes Actively Passive Request for Healing
Saw Jesus Heard Jesus

John Paul II declared, “[O]nly in Christ do we find real love, and the fullness of life. And so I invite you today to look to Christ.” Certainly, Mark 5 demonstrates people who recognize the importance and power of Jesus.

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Encountering the Power of God

According to the evangelist, “And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone forth from him, immediately turned about in the crowd, and said, ‘Who touched my garments?’” Obsessed with superheroes, I recently received Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game from my wife for Father’s Day. Along with my passion for this geeky deck-building game, I have rented a slew of comic books from the library as well.

While my fandom seems random to the discussion of Mark’s Gospel, I need to provide a little backdrop to my thought process after hearing the priest read Mark 5:30. The first thought that popped into my head, “I did not know Rogue made an appearance. Sapping or draining of power is the hallmark of that X-Men character. Marvelously [no pun intended], merely grazing the cloak of Jesus healed the woman right away.

rogue.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

Joking aside, the healing power of Jesus is quite amazing. Previous consultation with doctors failed to ease the woman’s suffering. The passage that may be interrupted as a “power loss” of Jesus is not meant to infringe on his divine nature. On the contrary, Mark, like the other Synoptic Gospels, never dispute the divinity of Christ, he was utilizing language that his audience would be able to understand.

Jesus—Hope in Face of Despair

Mark 5:21-43 also focuses on hope in a seemingly hopeless situation. After healing the woman with a hemorrhage, Jesus arrived too late—at least that was what the crowd thought! Urging Jarius to accept his daughter’s fate the onlookers declared, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” Men of little faith and tenacity would have resigned themselves to start the grieving process. Yet Jesus urged the synagogue official to not be afraid.

According to Saint Pope John XXII, “Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.” From the onset of this Gospel reading Jarius actively sought the aid of Jesus and pleaded for the return of his daughter to life when all looked hopeless as she appeared to linger in the shadow of death. Below is a link to a story about Jesus providing miraculous healing to another young daughter—prematurely born!

uniqueness

 

 

 

 

Uniqueness of the Individual

A final thought that crossed my mind when reflecting on Mark 5:21-43 was that Jesus focuses on the present moment with grace, love, and resolve. Even on the way toward healing a prominent religious official’s child, Christ paused to listen to the needs of an ordinary, poor woman. Saint Mother Teresa said, “Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.” Do not worry about the past nor the future only concern about the need of God’s children in front of you.

This is exactly what Jesus did in Mark 5:25-34. He noticed the presence of the sickly woman. And Christ stopped to show mercy the person in need at the present moment.

As a father of four young children, my focus is frequently divided between juggling the various needs and adventures of my kids growing up. What I learned to devote my attention and time to the present moment and act with love instead of worrying about the various needs and whether it will be adequate or not.

The genius of the Gospel message centers on the individual first. Siphoning sanctity cannot occur as love multiplies not divides when more and more individuals come into your life.

family circus

Thank you for sharing!

3 Ways I am Exactly Like the Rich Young Man in Mark’s Gospel

 

Jesus and the Rich Young Man


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on October 12, 2015.


As a cradle Catholic, I grew up hearing the story of the Rich Young Man in Mark 10:17-31 several dozen times. However, it was not until this past year where I was able to truly understand the meaning of this passage. During this last year, I have encountered God through my suffering and specifically showed me have I often display the attitude of the rich young man. In today’s post, I will briefly talk about 3 ways I lacked what Jesus desires from each of us.

I believed that I was a good-goody Catholic

What I mean by this statement is that I often thought of how holy I was because of my support for traditional Catholic values: I vote pro-life, I don’t commit adultery, I always go to Mass on Sundays, and I definitely committed no major sins. I truly believed that because I was a good person that was enough to encounter Christ in a satisfying way. Let’s reflect on Mark’s words in 10:20, “Teacher, all of these [commandments] I have observed from my youth”. His thought process sounds eerily similar to mine! But that brings me to my second reason for being just like this young man.

I could not give up control of “control over situations”

I always interpreted Jesus’ response to the man (see Mark 10:21) in a purely materialistic light. I felt that because I could control the amount of my physical possessions that I could not possibly fit into the same category as this unfortunate youth. I am actually a neat-freak. I hate clutter and am OCD about junk and cleanliness. I live in moderation and don’t live outside my means. But the problem is that I did not give up MY CONTROL. I always wanted to be in control of the situation and though I followed all Catholic doctrine I truly was not letting God in control.

Jesus and Rich Young Man Stained Glass

I possessed a certain despair just like the Rich Young Man after his encounter with Jesus

I thought that I knew my path in this life.  Even when I got my dream job teaching in a Catholic school, I still felt despair. When I encountered Christ, I still could not give up control of my situation.

During this past year my family and I suffered immensely:

  • Our son was abused at the first daycare we took him to in our new city
  • Our daughter suffered from multiple ear infections,
  • We lost our 10-week unborn child.

I was driven to grief counseling I had sunk so low in my faith.

Encountering Jesus Lead to Transformation

Here is where my story changed for the better. Amid this intense and painful suffering, God showed me the greatest love possible. He wanted for me to rely on Him fully. When this happened, I was finally able to do something the Rich Young Man in Mark’s Gospel never did. I gave up all my “possessions” and control I totally relied on God for His love to envelope me. See, I still maintained the sacraments and belief in all Catholic teaching, but the difference is that I had faith IN GOD to help me in my situation. Previously, I tried to be simply a “good person” and seek a joyous life. It is impossible to have authentic joy in this life without encountering God and ultimately accepting Him as your savior.

I finally realized in my heart what my mind already knew. To truly be holy I needed to follow God’s commandments AND ask Him to help me on a daily basis. To paraphrase a personal hero of mine, St. Francis de Sales, “Work as if everything depends on you and pray as if everything depends on God”.

christian pilgrim

I am still on my pilgrim journey toward Heaven, but God made me realize that my dream to teach the faith will be fulfilled—just not in the ways I expected.  And I hope to continue writing my story on a regular basis to draw fringe Catholics to the Church. I truly want people to experience true joy in their life!

Related Links

2 Reasons Why Jesus’ “Failed” Miracle is the Turning Point of Mark’s Gospel

The Story of the Rich Young Man: Is There Hope For Us? 

Homily on the Rich Young Man by Bishop Robert Barron

Siphoning Sanctity? Reconciling Mark 5:21-43’s Peculiar Passage with Reality

 

Thank you for sharing!

Why Saint Ambrose’s Sweet Life Can Combat the Saltiness of the World


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on December 7, 2020.


Living in the 4th century A.D., St. Ambrose was bishop of Milan during a tumultuous era of Church history. His road to ordination was an interesting journey. The sudden death of the current bishop of Milan in 374 A.D. left the bishop’s seat open amid the climate of the Arian heresy. Ambrose, an unbaptized believe in Christ and charismatic figure, appealed to all sides of the Arian debate.

Saint Ambrose of Milan

Baptized as a Christian in his mid-thirties, Ambrose soon after received the Sacrament of Holy Orders and shepherded the peoples of Milan of the reminder of his life. Today I wish to highlight 3 reasons why I believe St. Ambrose is still relevant to Christians in the 21st century.

You catch more flies with Honey than you do with vinegar”

There exists a legend within the hagiography of Ambrose which tells of a bizarre encounter with bees. As an infant, it is purported that several bees hovered over the head of the saint as an infant. The bees left Ambrose unharmed with honey atop his head. His parents interpreted this an a divine sign and foretelling of his ability to eloquently speak and unite differing factions. For this reason, Ambrose became known as the patron saint of beekeepers and bees.

According to Mike Aquilina in The Fathers of the Church: An Introduction to the First Christian Teachers, “He was unanimously elected bishop, winning the votes of both Arians and the Catholics…an intellectual, he could move the movers and shakers of Latin culture. It was he who finally persuaded the stubborn Augustine to proceed to Baptism [I will expand in this later on!] “ (p. 166). Sweetness and kindness of speech is equally important to proclaiming truth. Ambrose found a balance between charity and truth. As result he was an effective teacher and administrator of the Catholic Church.

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Model of the Episcopate

Along with Ambrose’s ability to teach truth in a charitable manner, he remained steadfast as a guardian of the teaching of the Catholic Church—one of the most important functions of a bishop! Because of his sweetness of speech, Ambrose built up enough rapport with the secular leaders of his time that when the time came to stand his ground his words packed clout.

Ambrose graciously, but sternly, declined Emperor Valentinian’s invitation to a Church Council that bishop believed the secular leader had no authority convening. The sainted bishop stated,

And how, O Emperor, are we to settle a matter on which you have already declared your judgment, and have even promulgated laws, so that it is not open to anyone to judge otherwise?…if anything has to be discussed I have learned to discuss it in Church, as those before he did. If a conference is to be held concerning the faith, there ought to be a gathering of bishops, as was done under Constantine, the prince of august memory, who did not promulgate any laws beforehand, but left the decision to the bishops…

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Master of the Master

According to R. Thornton in St. Ambrose: His Life, Times, and Teaching, St. Ambrose had a significant impact on arguably the most influential theologian in the history of the Catholic Church—St. Augustine of Hippo.

In fact, Augustine talks of Ambrose’s influence in Confessions Book VI Chapters 1-8. “The bishop of Milan was at least the guide of the guide of the theology of the West,” stated Thornton (St. Ambrose: His Life, Times, and Teaching p. 125). To put it in modern lingo, St. Ambrose was the Qui-Gon Jinn to Augustine’s Obi-Wan Kenobi!!

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In the age of social media, our world needs holy men and women to demonstrate truth in a charitable way. Proclaiming truth without kindness will never convert unbelievers’ hearts. St. Ambrose is a reminder and role model for our society that charitable dialogue is possible.

For me personally, I need daily reminders to wed truth with charity. Remembering St. Ambrose’s life provides me with a guide on how to interact peacefully in a secular world. The sainted bishop’s ability to network with a myriad of people is another example of how he is still applicable to our society of marketing, social media, and age of internet. The next time I notice an buzzing bee on a summer’s day I will be reminded of the sweetness of truth exemplified by Ambrose!

Honey Bee

Related Links

Prayer of St. Ambrose

Saint Ambrose— Catholic

St. Ambrose’s impact on St. Augustine: Excerpts from The Confessions

Thank you for sharing!