Saturday, December 27, 2008

Octave of Christmas – Feast of St. John the Evangelist

Octave of Christmas – Feast of St. John the Evangelist
By Randy Sly

Catholic Online (
St. John sometimes described himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved. To this “son of thunder” as he and his brother James were named, relationship was everything.

WASHINGTON (Catholic Online) – James and John, the sons of Zebedee, left their father and the fishing trade first to follow John the Baptist. Later, they were called to follow Jesus, who named them “the sons of Thunder.” The younger brother, St. John would become the one who writings revealed Christ’s divinity as none other.

John was included in the inner circle of Christ’s followers. He was present for the miracles, healings, the transfiguration and the teaching ministry of Jesus from the beginning. Even at the cross he remained while others fled, standing next to the Mother of God, whose care was entrusted to him by the Jesus who hung above the two. He, along with Peter, discovered the resurrection of Christ. Read the rest here.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

Luke 2:1 - 14 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Hodie Christus natus est

Hodie Christus natus est:
hodie Salvator apparuit:
hodie in terra canunt Angeli,
lætantur Archangeli:
hodie exsultant justi, dicentes:
Gloria in excelsis Deo,
et in terra pax hominibus bonæ voluntatis:

Christmas Eve

'O come, O come, Emmanuel (Veni, veni, emmanuel)'

Monday, December 22, 2008

An Introduction to Priests for Life

Fr. Frank Pavone, of Priests for Life, was in Harrisburg for a Pro-life Mass at the Cathedral in October. For many years, I have admired his work with this pro-life organization. Some of my children and I were privileged to meet him and pray to end abortion with him at the nearby Abortion Clinic.

Be inspired as you catch the vision of Priests for Life to end abortion and build the Culture of Life through the Church.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

More on Advent - Key of David

A friend of mine pointed me to a really great website by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf called What Does the Prayer Really Say? Today's post tells about the Key of David and sheds light on what is often a stumbling block to Protestants in considering Catholicism, that of Jesus giving Peter the keys to the kingdom. Read it here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Gregorian Chant

"Conversion is like stepping across the chimney piece out of a Looking-Glass world, where everything is an absurd caricature, into the real world God made: and then begins the delicious process of exploring it limitlessly."
- Evelyn Waugh

One of the things I am exploring is Gregorian Chant. As a music major in college, I learned about this beautiful music in Music History class. And had not thought much about it since then. Listen to this exquisite music. I am wondering how Christians got from this to worship and praise music . . .

My New Church


My Presbyterian Church did not observe Advent. I had loved Advent as Lutheran and really missed it. Now, attending a Catholic Church, I have Advent again.

Click here for a good site to learn more about Advent.

I love the music of Advent. I found this lovely rendition of one of my favorite Advent hymns -
Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming sung by Frederica von Stade.

Books About Catholicism - My Book list

Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved to read. I take a topic and jump right in! That's how I learned about homebirth, homeschooling, and most anything in which I have been interested.

Although most of my reading about the Catholic faith has been done within the past year, many years ago I read a book which influenced me greatly; A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken.

Van, an American, studied at Oxford after WWII and became friends with C. S. Lewis, who greatly influenced his conversion to Christianity. His book, A Severe Mercy, tells that story, as well as the story of his great love with Davy, his wife, and is in the top five best books I have ever read (I read this in college and have re-read it many times). Van's subsequent book, Under the Mercy, which I read about 5 years ago, is the chronicle of his Catholic conversion. Van's writings, more than any others, prompted my initial inquiries into the Faith.

In an interesting twist of events, on an email list where listers discuss Van's writings, I expressed interest in possibly converting and asked if any Catholics on the list would be willing to answer some questions. Floyd Newman responded. Floyd is the godson of a writer, Sheldon Vanauken, having converted in his 20's when Van was still living. His story is told in the book, The New Catholics, one of the books listed below, which Floyd kindly gave to me.

For what it's worth, my reading list follows. You might choose a title and join with me in learning your Christian heritage.

A Severe Mercy - Sheldon Vanauken

Under the Mercy - Sheldon Vanauken

The Little Lost Marian and Other Mercies - Sheldon Vanauken

Rome Sweet Home: Our Journey to Catholicism - Scott Hahn and Kimberly Hahn

Evangelical is Not Enough - Thomas Howard

Lead, Kindly Light: My Journey To Rome - Thomas Howard

On Being Catholic - Thomas Howard

The Night Is Far Spent - Thomas Howard

The New Catholics: Contemporary Converts Tell Their Stories - Dan O'Neill

The Catholic Mystique: Fourteen Women Find Fulfillment in the Catholic Church -Jennifer Ferrara and Patricia Sodano Ireland

By What Authority?: An Evangelical Discovers Catholic Tradition - Mark Shea

This Is My Body: An Evangelical Discovers The Real Presence - Mark Shea

Surprised by Truth: 11 Converts Give the Biblical and Historical Reasons for Becoming Catholic by Patrick Madrid

Surprised By Truth 2: 15 Men and Women Give the Biblical and Historical Reasons For Becoming Catholic - Patrick Madrid

Crossing the Tiber: Evangelical Protestants Discover the Historical Church - Stephen K. Ray

The Lamb's Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth - Scott Hahn

Reasons to Believe: How to Understand, Explain, and Defend the Catholic Faith - Scott Hahn

Journeys Home - Marcus Grodi

Home at Last: 11 Who Found Their Way to the Catholic Church - Rosalind Moss

Answer Me This - Patrick Madrid

Handbook of Christian Apologetics: Hundreds of Answers to Crucial Questions - Peter Kreeft and Ronald K. Tacelli

The Hidden Manna: A Theology of the Eucharist by Father James T. O'Connor

An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine - Cardinal John Henry Newman

Ronald Knox As Apologist: Wit, Laughter and the Popish Creed - Milton T., Father Walsh

Catholic for a Reason: Scripture and the Mystery of the Family of God (Catholic for a Reason) - Scott Hahn and Leon J. Suprenant

The Fathers of the Church, Expanded Edition - Mike Aquilina

The Mass of the Early Christians - Mike Aquilina

Worthy is the Lamb: The Biblical Roots of the Mass - Thomas J. Nash

Catholic for a Reason II: Scripture and the Mystery of the Mother of God, Second Edition (Catholic for a Reason) - Scott Hahn and Jr. Leon J. Suprenant

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Studying Catholicism

My husband is Roman Catholic. I have at times belonged to the Lutheran Church, and most recently, the Presbyterian Church. After almost 28 years of marriage, I am immersed in the study of Catholicism. I am finding out that much of what is said of Catholics in Protestant circles is not true, or at least, a misunderstanding; a very different way of looking at theology.

Twenty three years ago when our eldest son was born, Jack and I went through the very painful process of deciding where David would be baptized. That process took months and many prayers, tears and anguish, much discussion, sometimes very heated discussion, as well as counsel from both my church (at that time, Lutheran) and Jack's church (Roman Catholic). Many times I was not sure our marriage would survive. Finally, the decision was made to bring up our children as Protestants. Once that decision was made, over the past twenty three years, I have never once heard my husband complain about that it.

But inwardly, my husband has suffered much. He has never felt he could share his Catholic faith with his children. Over time he has realized how important that faith is to him. He has felt guilty for making that decision so many years ago, regretting it many times. And I have felt guilty and torn, as a Protestant wife and mother, believing that the husband was the head of the home, but not really allowing my husband to be that head. Our children have felt torn between us.

Some of the children have now said that when Daddy went to 8 AM Mass, they used to ask him if they could go along. Because of our agreement, Jack usually said no. One older son asked almost exactly one year ago, "Mom, why do we celebrate the Reformation if Dad is Catholic?"

Over the past few years, I have read the conversion stories of some prominent former Protestants: Scott Hahn, Sheldon Vanauken, Thomas Howard, Barbara Curtis, and Cathy Duffy. Upon learning of these Protestants that converted to Catholicism, I began to read and ask questions. What brought them to make this change? Don't Catholics pray to Mary? What about the Pope? Do they really believe Jesus is present in the Eucharist? I began to read more stories of Protestants who have converted, sometimes lay people and sometimes ordained ministers who gave up their livelihoods to convert to the Catholic faith. I have been reading history. I have been reading the writings of the early Church Fathers, finding out that what they believed sounded a lot like the Catholic Church.

If you have ever wondered just what the Church believes, here are some fine web sites with great resources.

Here at New Advent, you will find the Catholic Encyclopedia, Summa Theologica ( The theological masterpiece of St. Thomas Aquinas), Church Fathers( Letters, speeches and books from the earliest Christians) Holy Bible ( The Douay-Rheims version, with hyperlinks to the Catholic Encyclopedia) How to Recite the Holy Rosary and Catholic Links( A growing directory of good Catholic websites).

A major Apologetics site. Includes a large number of pamphlet style questions and answers about the Faith, as well as sample articles from the magazine.

Former Presbyterian minister, Scott Hahn's website: this one is really good!. The St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology is a non-profit research and educational institute that promotes life-transforming Scripture study in the Catholic tradition. The Center serves clergy and laity, students and scholars, with research and study tools — from books and publications to multimedia and on-line programming.

Our goal is to be a teacher of teachers. We want to raise up a new generation of priests who are fluent in the Bible and lay people who are biblically literate. For us, this means more than helping people to know their way around the Bible. It means equipping them to enter into the heart of the living Word of God and to be transformed and renewed by this encounter.

We read the Bible from the heart of the Church, in light of the Church’s Liturgy and living Tradition. In this way, we hope to help people experience the heart-to-heart encounter that Jesus’ disciples experienced on that first Easter night, when they knew Him in the breaking of the bread: "Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked to us...while He opened to us the Scriptures?" (see Luke 24:13-37 )

Saturday, December 13, 2008

What Christmas is All About

My Children's Choir Christmas Concert

Last night was my Children's Choir's 4th Christmas concert. The first two years I had only a Children's Choir. Last year I added an audition only Concert Chorale. In September, I added a Preparatory Choir for ages 5-8. I couldn't have been more pleased with the performance of all my choirs! Altogether, 42 children sang in the concert!

Children’s Choir
Personent Hodie . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Traditional
Arr. John Leavitt
This Is The Truth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . R. Vaughan Williams
Carol of the Shepherds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Derek Holman
Sweet was the song the Virgin sang . . . . . . . . . .Eleanor Daley

Preparatory Choir
Come Along with Me to Bethlehem . . . . . . . . Frank W. Klos
Shepherds Come A-Running . . . . . . . Traditional Polish Carol
O Come Little Children . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Johann Schulz

Concert Chorale
The Holly and the Ivy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Traditional
Arr. Betty Beraux
Christmastide . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .David L. Brunner
Angels did Sing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Steven Rickards

Children’s Choir
Ding Dong! Merrily on High . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Howard Cable
Jesus, What a Wonderful Child . . . . . . . . Traditional Spiritual
Arr. Rollo Dilworth
Hush! The Holy Child is Sleeping . . . . . . . . . Dan R. Edwards
Angels! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19th Century French Carol
Arr. Ken Berg
On Christmas Night . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Traditional English
Arr. Jody W. Lindh