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From mouths of babies

Joan_of_Arc_miniature_grade_20171103-230103_1

There are two methods of evangelization. One where you’re trying, and one where you’re living. Both can be valid and effective to varying degrees. Let’s focus on the second one for a moment. Children are experts, here. When you are very young, you don’t really care about offending people. You say what’s in your heart without any of the barriers that prevent adults from doing the same. The following story is an example of what can happen when you share your faith in all honesty and innocence.

I was always an—outspoken—child. I’m still a blunt adult, to a lesser extent. When I was about five years old, I was in kindergarten in a public school. A few quick facts about me: I am an immigrant, English is not my first language, and I grew up in a beautifully Catholic family, where Faith and life were intertwined. For me, at five, there was no difference between being Catholic and being alive.
There were many difficulties I encountered, that first year in the US. When, for example, I was told I couldn’t wear my mom’s wooden cross (my comfort object) to school because it might offend people. Yet I noticed the Jewish boy could wear his yarmulke, and the Muslim boy could have his prayer beads. I didn’t understand. Maybe I resented them a bit for it, or was jealous. My peers would use English against me on the playground, which didn’t help. They mocked me when I confused words, or had ‘English only’ games to exclude me. Some threw dirt and gravel at me if I tried to join. As a result, I developed a much closer bond with my teacher than with any of them. I remember trying to stay inside with him, rather than go play on the playground, things like that. I also had an assortment of crazy winter hats he’d tease me about, but that’s another story.
He was a kind man, and he’d ask me questions about what life was like at home and, knowing me, I’m sure I’d overshare without a qualm. Now, naptimes at this school were ridiculous. They expected us to sleep by putting our heads on the desk instead of laying down. I could never fall asleep. My teacher noticed this, and one day he asked me what I did that kept me quiet. I told him I talked to the Virgin Mary and prayed Hail Marys. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, honestly. I didn’t know he was a fallen away Catholic, and I wouldn’t have cared if I had known.
That year, for Halloween, I was either Raggedy-Anne or a cat, I can’t quite recall. But I do remember that my sister was Joan of Arc, and that I thought that was an infinitely cooler costume than mine. It gets a bit hazy here, because I can’t remember if I lied to my teacher and told him I’d been Joan of Arc, or if I just bragged about the costume. I think of him and his family every Halloween.
Later, when I was older, I learned that this was a turning point for him. Me being myself, showing him that life and faith aren’t separate, sparked curiosity. That curiosity brought him to church, and God did the rest. We only need to open a small door. We don’t need to push or prod or preach, although some people do seem to need that. Don’t hide what you’re living in your faith! Live it with pride and joy! Being Catholic means being joyful. Not cheerful, that’s different. We can’t always be cheerful. But joyfulness is a gift. It’s a warmth that stays constant if we choose to embrace it, and it can light fires of hope and of faith in other people of we don’t hide it. Five-year-old me could have sat on the playground and cried every day. Instead, I made a friend in an unlikely place, and through that God changed lives. Not only the teacher’s, but his family’s as well. Be filled with joy, and you will find that you fill others with the same. 

The Nature of Worship
Lack of charm

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Tara Brooke
28 June 2022

Wow!!!  Yes, that is the correct word to begin this blog post!  I think I am still in shock!  On the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus our country just experienced the overturning of an almost 50-year-old law regarding abortion.  Roe vs. Wade was overturned!  

One You May Have Missed

Family Life
Marriage
The other night I was reading this cute book to my daughter before bed called, “I Love You All Year Long.”  It goes through each season of the year, and how the mother loves her child in each season. It’s March here in Colorado, so the idea of swimming and beaches with sandcastles seemed very appealing. Yet, the raking of leaves and hot apple cider on a hayride did not have the same draw. After giving it more thought, I realized that a hayride and hot cider is so exciting and refreshing after a hot summer of drenching in sweat! Currently we are getting a spell of warm weather here and the kids have been playing outside every day, which makes me long for summer. But how exciting was it to get the kids bundled up to go play in the first snow! That’s what I love about the seasons here. They are always changing, which allows us to appreciate the unique opportunities each season presents us with. This is much like the seasons of life that we find ourselves in. Sometimes like spring, they are full of new wonders and are very colorful. But they can also be rainy, keeping us indoors. Sometimes like summer, our lives are very dry, needing constant watering, even though we are busy doing lots of things. In fall, we rake out the dead leaves and really celebrate the changing of seasons. The different colored leaves of autumn are one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen! Then come the holidays during the winter, filled with anticipation, parties, and family time. But the days are cold and dark. Every season of life has its ups and downs. Even our spiritual lives reflect these same truths – we have dark nights where we feel far from God, we have spring times of faith when we are filled with hope. Sometimes our prayer is dry and needs lots of water, and other times we rake out the dead of sin and can see the fruit of our efforts. But there is always something we can gain from each season. We need these ups and downs to not take a particular state for granted. If we can recognize these different seasons, we can appreciate what they bring, and look forward to the next change. The only constant, like in the book, is that God loves us in each season of our life. Our goal is to love him back the same in each. At my brother’s wedding several years ago, Fr. Brady opened the Mass with the words, “The only tragedy in life is to not become a Saint.” We will experience tragedy – cancer, death, betrayal, poverty, etc. But redemption and our reward in heaven overcome all of these. On the other hand, missing the opportunity for holiness in each of these trials is the real tragedy, as God offers us grace continuously, no matter the external circumstances. Missing out on an eternity in heaven? That’s the worst. Not feeling like you are a Saint? Neither did many of the saints. A saint is anyone in Heaven, whether the Church has publicly recognized him or her or not.  We are all called to be saints. What do all saints have in common? They never gave up in each season of life. They clung to grace to get back up again when they fell, and they embraced God’s constant love in each of these ups and downs.     

 

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