Catholic Inklings

Musings and sharings on my devotion to an ancient religion.

Funky Christmas

When we talk about Christmas, or sing about it in carols, we always use peaceful and charming words—idyllic, really—to tell the story about how Jesus came into the world. It’s nice how our memory heals the reality of a situation… For us, looking back at that moment we see a peaceful, happy and really joyful scene. And it is—but maybe not so much for Mary and Joseph when they were going through it. Instead of being what we would consider an ideal setting for the birth of any one of our own children, it was God bringing good to a very wrong situation.

We’ve heard it all before about what a risk Mary took with her “yes,” we hear in the Gospel about how Joseph wasn’t sure what to do with the info he’d been given about the condition his brand new bride was in, we know there was no room at the inn, and how the holy couple had to make a crazy long journey at the very end of Mary’s pregnancy. I’ve been pregnant, and I can’t think of anything that would make me take a long ride on a donkey right before giving birth. When you put all of that together, and add in the turmoil of the time, it’s a terrible story—except that it’s how God chose to enter into the terrible circumstances of the human condition. Then, it’s a really cool story…

[Read blog on Catholic365]

Holy Family: Breaking Open the Word at Home

Being holy doesn’t mean that our lives are perfect, serene or easy. It means that no matter what’s going on, we love one another and try to help one another be our best.

I have always loved that on the day the Church celebrates the Holy Family—Jesus, Mary and Joseph—the Gospel is the story of when Jesus went missing. It’s a great story because it shows the care and concern that parents have for their children, the challenge that is parenthood and the real point of family life—to help one another to fulfill our destinies; to become what we are called to be. The Holy Family does this with mutual love, respect and patience. Mary and Joseph were truly scared when they couldn’t find Jesus. Mary said, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” They didn’t understand what he meant when he replied,“Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”, but they loved and cared for him all the same. Even though he was God, he “was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man.” This shows us a little glimpse into the Holy Family’s life—it wasn’t easy. It was a struggle. The Holy Family was poor, insignificant and real. This story is the last time we hear about Joseph—he may have passed away shortly after this, for all we know. Family life is not always easy—but when we trust in God and live God’s plan for us, it can make us more holy.

[Read blog on Peanut Butter and Grace]

Cartoons and You | Bigger on the Inside

Cartoons are awesome!!!

I’m routinely told by other adults, “I don’t watch cartoons anymore.”  Their loss, I say!  Cartoons are some of my favorite entertainment, and I love kids’ cartoons.  In fact, when the kids wander off and I still have them on, I get a pleading look and a semi-desperate question from my husband, “Do we have to keep watching this? The kids are in bed…”

When newcomers to the Doctor’s TARDIS first board the time-and-space travel machine, most of them say a variation of, “It’s bigger on the inside!” From without, it looks like a normal British police call box, but on the inside it’s infinite in size. This is not unique to the TARDIS—nothing transcends time and space like stories! Books, TV shows, movies, video games, comic books, music—they all contain way more than what appears at face value. This blog will glance into the deeper world of various media; particularly those consumed by kids. It’s not my place to tell parents what their kids should or shouldn’t watch or listen to, but I will tease out themes (be they useful or harmful), trends and faith images for your consideration. —Jen

When newcomers to the Doctor’s TARDIS first board the time-and-space travel machine, most of them say a variation of, “It’s bigger on the inside!” From without, it looks like a normal British police call box, but on the inside it’s infinite in size. This is not unique to the TARDIS—nothing transcends time and space like stories! Books, TV shows, movies, video games, comic books, music—they all contain way more than what appears at face value. This blog will glance into the deeper world of various media; particularly those consumed by kids. It’s not my place to tell parents what their kids should or shouldn’t watch or listen to, but I will tease out themes (be they useful or harmful), trends and faith images for your consideration. —Jen

The first cartoons were made for adults.  Naturally, they had appeal for all ages, but the jokes, references and subject matter were pretty grown up.  Even now, cartoon movies consistently add jokes “for parents” that are just plain messed up. My eldest son recently warned me that there were some very inappropriate things in the Disney movie, Cars (apparently, he thinks his mom is as virginal and innocent as the BVM). He was shocked at what he now understood.

Besides the fact that cartoons are some of the best stuff on TV, I’m at a particular advantage for liking them. Many parents, trusting that “it’s a kids’ show” will let their children watch cartoons without giving any thought to their message or content. Time and time again, I have been surprised, disappointed and, at times, horrified by some of the stuff marketed directly to children.

An Opportunity For Discussion

My kids aren’t very young—they’re 15 and 12—so we aren’t watching pre-k shows. The shows that are directed at their ages (and younger kids, too) include themes and issues that older kids are likely dealing with in school and social settings, like dating, relationships, attraction to others, parties, moral dilemmas, and problem solving. Except that some of the ways that these themes are presented are not what I want modeled for my children (especially since one is getting to an age when dating is an actual possibility), I’m always glad for the opportunity to have a chat about what they are seeing, what we believe, how they feel about it and how they might deal with it if they find themselves in this situation.

[Read blog on pbgrace.com]

Mercy Door

In this Jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis has called upon the Church to be a witness of God’s mercy to the world. Mercy is kindness that isn’t deserved. It’s forgiveness unearned. That’s what God’s love is all about. While on the cross, Jesus asked the Father to “forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Lk 23:34) If you read the Gospels, this kind of mercy is rampant in Jesus’ personal encounters. Jesus recklessly, extravagantly lavished mercy on people who everybody else had either hated or just written off.

Across the world, parishes have been participating in the dedication of Mercy Doors decorated with symbols of God’s invitation of love to all people. It is a Jubilee tradition to cross thresholds and to return home (Leviticus 25). God’s mercy invites all who have been away—physically and spiritually—from God to come home again and experience the forgiveness and reconciliation of Christ. Our churches are meant to be the homes that children of God can return to, to be welcomed, loved and accepted. They are meant to be a threshold that people who have felt estranged from a sense of community to find the embrace of God.

[Read blog on Catholic365]

Sorry For What I Said When I Was Hungry

Have you seen the Snickers commercials where an overly hungry person is acting like a tyrannical maniac? My favorite is the one when a bunch of guys are playing football and one gets hungry and isn’t himself—he’s Betty White. He has a Snickers and is restored to himself. There are several variations on a meme going around the Facebookasphere that says “Sorry for what I said when I was hungry.” I can say for myself that, when I’m fasting or didn’t remember to eat, I can be a bear! We really can get out of sorts when we haven’t had the nourishment that we need.

We celebrate the gift of Eucharist every time we have Mass, but we need to periodically to bring attention to what we might allow to become commonplace or mundane (as the Church does on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ). Because we are so blessed with access to the Eucharist pretty much whenever we want it, we have the potential to forget what it is that we are receiving.

[Read blog on Catholic365]

The Force Awakens | Bigger on the Inside

Warning: May contain spoilers!!!

At the end of Return of the Jedi, it seemed as though all would be well across the galaxy—the Emperor was defeated, the Death Star destroyed and Darth Vader was redeemed. The Rebel Alliance was ready to usher in a new era of peace as hope spread across the planets. They conquered some pretty hefty bad guys, but the reality of evil remained—and it was bent on spreading.

The Force Awakens picks up about thirty years after the battle on Endor. The Rebels had, since the battle, established the New Republic, calling the citizens of all planets throughout the galaxy to participate in this new democracy after the Old Republic had been corrupted by Emperor Palpatine and his allies.

There’s been some speculation as to what about The Force is being awakened—is it awakened in an individual or individuals, or had it been inactive and is now back in play? That hasn’t been revealed yet. But, however it shakes out, the title suggests that The Force is going to be a main character in this movie. The battle between the deliberate use of The Force for good and for evil will take main stage.

[Read blog on pbgrace.com]

Who Wants To Live Forever?

Stories about eternal life on earth abound in sci-fi and fantasy; I think of the Dúnedain from The Lord of the Rings, That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis, many a Star Trek episode, and the list could go on… The Highlander movie and TV series, however, is a favourite of mine. My family will attest to my random singing of “Who Wants to Live Forever”by Queen, or shouting out the catchphrase “there can be only one!” during battles with… well, anyone who will battle me.

 

The theme of immortality is also a constant in Doctor Who, since the Doctor is essentially immortal. Though there were two recent episodes that dealt with immortality head on—”The Girl Who Died” and “The Woman Who Lived.” In the first episode, a young Viking woman named Ashildr dies to save her village from aliens using a helmet that the Doctor modified. Feeling sad for her poor, grieving father, and perhaps guilty for his part in it, he decides to bring her back to life. He uses a modified microchip (he’s really into modifying alien tech in this episode) to bring her back and gives her a second one to use on someone else so that she will not be alone—because there’s a catch to this remedy—she will be immortal.
“The Woman Who Lived” picks up in Ashildr’s adulthood, several hundred years after her encounter with the Doctor. We find her so jaded, broken, and lonely from the solitude of her immortality (she never did use the second microchip) that she has been living a life of crime.

[Read Blog on Geekdom House]

Being Restored in Christ | Breaking Open the Word at Home

Today’s first reading from the prophet Baruch offers the image of Israel who had been led off in slavery being returned to their homeland in security, making the path easier for us, and “…God is leading Israel in joy by the light of his glory, with his mercy and justice for company.”

In the second reading, Paul prays for us that our “…love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value.”

And in the Gospel, Luke recalls a passage from the prophet Isaiah, similar to Baruch, which invites us to prepare the way of the Lord. In our preparation, God will remove the obstacles that would prevent us from being with God— “Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”

Here is the point: When we make an effort to invite Jesus into our hearts, God begins to remove anything that would stand between us and God. God wants to be close with every one of us—God is always there, waiting for us to turn to him. When we do—when we seek to become what God dreams for us to be—God helps us in every way to get there.

[Read blog on pbgrace.com]