Sorry for the hiatus!

My apologies for not posting before leaving, but we are on a hiatus until October 4! I am currently on my honeymoon in Rome, so you won't hear from me until we return. I will post some pics of Papa B and highlights of some of the sites when I am back.

Until then, God bless!

Daily Prayer Reflection: Can We Offer God Everything?

How numerous, O LORD, my God, you have made your wondrous deeds! And in your plans for us there is none to equal you. Should I wish to declare or tell them, too many are they to recount. Sacrifice and offering you do not want; but ears open to obedience you gave me. Holocausts and sin-offerings you do not require; so I said, "Here I am." Psalm 40:6-8a

Here I am, I come to do your will. That is all the Lord asks of us...all of ourselves. Yet, saying yes to the Lord is life-altering, and not always in ways we would anticipate or choose for ourselves. Today is the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. We need only to look at the life of Mary to see the unthinkable ways in which the Lord leads us if we offer ourselves to Him. Betrothed, not married, she became with child. In the early years of her marriage, she fled her home to provide safety, trusting Joseph was being led by God. She raised a son, whom she loved as her son and God's son, only to see him brutally murdered, unable to help him...and asked not to do so as his sacrifice was for a greater cause. For her faith and for her suffering she was greatly rewarded with protection throughout her life and a glorious assumption into heaven at the end of it.

Now, we're no Mary, that's for sure! Like Mary, though, we need to keep our eyes focused on the bigger picture. It is easy to get stuck in the little trying details, but when we step back I think most of us would agree that God's hand has blessed us more than we sometimes acknowledge. Today, let's let go of what we hold back from God, and following Mary's example, offer our whole lives to him with expectant faith and trust in his providence for us.

Daily Prayer Reflection: Is the cross a stumbling block for us?

...But we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block for Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. 1 Corinthians 1:20-25

That Christ allowed himself to be crucified is indeed a weakness in the eyes of the world. The great and glorious God-man subjected himself to the torturous and humiliating death of a criminal. Foolishness? Stumbling block? Or as St. Paul so beautifully explains in Philippians, a perfect act of total humility, not humiliation?

This is the question we must ask ourselves. Do we understand the necessity and power of the cross, some two thousand years later, or has it become once again a stumbling block that confounds us or a glitch in the story that seems a little far-fetched and foolish? In addition to the physical structure of torture, the cross refers to our own struggles and suffering. There is no denying that in this life, we have been and are separated from God. This separation brings with it inherent struggles, varying in degrees for everyone. Add to that this notion: to believe in Christ, to LIVE in Christ is not a comfortable life. It is one filled with choices, and as foretold in the Gospels, one in which we will have to bear our cross. We have a choice. We can embrace that suffering, recognizing its ability to unite us with Jesus, or we can allow it to become a stumbling block in our faith. We can call upon the name of Christ, who endured crucifixion, in our suffering, or we can try to alleviate it through our own means. In the end, which is the real foolishness?

Daily Prayer Reflection: Do We See Ourselves as One in Christ?

The Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces; The reproach of his people he will remove from the whole earth. Isaiah 25:8

On this day eight years ago, we - a new generation of Americans - experienced a tragedy that we'd only heard equaled in our history books. For the first time in our lives, American soil had been attacked in grand scale. The fear, the sorrow, the disbelief - it was all overwhelming for some. Even in challenge, the spirit of the nation moved toward compassion and unity, if only for a moment. And then...we turned to revenge. The dark side of trauma came to light - the anger, the suspicion, and blatant racism returned.

Those are choices we face every day. In the midst of trying times, our weaknesses gain a little strength. It is up to us to continue to call upon the Lord to give us strength, to dry our tears, so that we may choose always to live in the light of compassion and mercy, guided by the Holy Spirit and not by the powers of darkness that reside in anger and vengeance.

Eight years later, we've moved on a little, especially if we feel we weren't personally affected. But then, can any of us truly claim that? How many of us know someone who lost someone, or someone who was safe but there? How many of us know someone serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, or someone who was lost there? In a bout of myopic self-centeredness, we might say "I am unaffected." We, however, belong to a greater body than our own - we belong to the body of Christ. In each others' misery, we are always affected...if we choose to acknowledge it.

Today, regardless of what side of the political spectrum we inhabit, let us once again put aside our own opinions and assurances. Let us pray instead for all those who lost their lives in that tragic day and in the years that followed, those who still mourn loved ones, those who are serving their country in the military and their loved ones...let us pray that we may see ourselves connected as one in Christ.

And perhaps even more difficult, let's remember to also pray for those who committed these atrocities and continue to use violence in the name of God.

Daily Prayer Reflection: Has the Golden Rule gotten tarnished?

Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. Colossians 3:12-14

But to you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you...Do to others as you would have them do to you. For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. Luke 6:27-32

Ouch. That is the only thing I think every time I read these words of Christ. Well, "ouch" and "d'oh!" I'd say many of us probably read this thinking...oops - I'll get it next time... Unfortunately, our lives aren't to be lived for "next time" - we're supposed to embrace this now. What really strikes me about this passage is not the Scripture alone, but the impression that people make when they actually live in this peace and kindness.

Off the top of my head, I can think of a handful of people whom I have never heard say a nasty word about anyone. That's not to say that they haven't been upset or frustrated. Instead, it is to say that their reaction was not one of gossiping or badmouthing those who were the culprit of their frustration. It's easy to judge, saying "oh, they're just fake!" And yet, there is this undeniable peace in their spirit that exudes an honest joy, even in their sorrow.

Today, that characteristic is, unfortunately, rare. Judgment falls before mercy and compassion. Pride edges out humility. Infatuation and addiction replace Love. Fear overcomes trust. This is not what Christ intended for those who call on His name! "Fear not!" "Love one another..." "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts..." That, dear friends, is what our Lord calls us to.

Faith, hope and love - it's not just a trite verse to be used at weddings - it is a way of life to be seated at our very core. It is a way of life that lets us lead with mercy, to love without fear, to live with the knowledge that all we are is by the grace of God, and what a privilege He has given us - each and every one of us. It is what helps us to live out that Golden Rule. Has the gold tarnished in your own life?

Fr. Leo Patalinghug of "Grace Before Meals" takes on Bobby Flay of the Food Network!

Father Leo Patalinghug believes that the key to a healthy family are healthy meals eaten together, and he's sending that message out through his web show, "Grace Before Meals." With 10,000 hits a day, Father Leo is able to share his wisdom and his family friendly recipes in order to feed his flock: body, mind and soul.

With dishes like Fusion Steak Fajitas, Father Leo is winning over his audience with every bite. But, will a little divine intervention help this Father when the Grill Master Bobby Flay heads into town on this episode of Throwdown?

To find out more about Fr. Leo and his ministry, visit the Grace Before Meals website at!

Watch the episode on the Food Channel tonight, September 9 @ 9 p.m. ET/PT or catch a repeat airing later in September!

Sep 10, 2009 @ 12:00 AM ET/PT or Sep 20, 2009 @ 11:00 PM ET/PT

Daily Prayer Reflection: Do we look for open windows when a door has closed?

But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. Isaiah 11:1

The poetic and vivid imagery of this passage in Isaiah serves to illustrate the wonder of God, that from this stump, he called forth a new shoot of life, and not only just a shoot, but one from which a delicate flower would bloom and blossom. When we see a stump in a field or yard, we hardly think "oh! I wonder what will grow there..." A stump is usually what's left of a tree that will be no more, and if you're camping, can serve as a great table or chair!

Yet, in this passage, it is precisely from a stump that this new life springs. God can pull forth life out of things that we never could. Perhaps that is why so many people, drowning in their own humanity, simply choose to give up. It is so easy to think "no more can come of this", when something seems "over and done with." That is not the mind of God. There is no end, only new beginnings. With God, new life springs forth from what seems to be the deadest tree, if only a vine to wrap around it and reach new heights.

As the old saying goes, "When God closes a door, He opens a window." I myself like to add a wee bit more to that - when God closes a door, He opens a window, but we still have to jump out. Do we look for those windows and take the plunge or spend so much time looking back at the door we don't feel the fresh new breeze blowing into our lives?

Mass Prep: God chose those who are poor to be heirs of the kingdom...

Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; With divine recompense he comes to save you. Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared. Isaiah 35:4-5

Show no partiality as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. For if a man with gold rings on his fingers and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and a poor person in shabby clothes also comes in, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say, "Sit here, please," while you say to the poor one, "Stand there," or "Sit at my feet," have you not made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil designs? James 2:1-4

And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him off by himself away from the crowd. He put his finger into the man's ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, "Ephphatha!" (that is, "Be opened!") And (immediately) the man's ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly. Mark 7:32-35

Jesus continues to challenge our way of thinking in this world. When we are deceived by the apparent importance of people, God chooses the "lowly" to transform our minds, if we only listen. This weekend, allow the Word of God to penetrate your heart, ask that Christ might cure our own deafness and blindness to those things he is trying so desperately to reveal to us. Let us come renewed in Christ to see one other through his eyes alone, and not by the measures of this world.

Come Holy Spirit!

AIDS, Africa and the Catholic Church

There is no denying that the AIDS pandemic is still a serious issue in Africa. There is also no denying that the Church's stance on the use of condoms has come under attack by those acting in an effort to bring the spread of the disease under control. Recently, one scientist came on the scene to back up what the Holy Father has been saying all along - condoms may actually contribute to the spread of the disease, not the prevention of it.

Uh...what? Yes, I know, it doesn't seem a logical statement at first glance. The researcher, however, was pointing out the psychological, rather than physical, attributes of promoting condom use as a remedy. Promoting the use of condoms for "safe sex" gave people an unwarranted confidence in the safety of engaging in sexual behavior so long as a condom was used, increasing the likelihood that they would be less careful, and increasing the possibility of spreading the disease. Likewise, it was shown that in countries where the cultural attitudes toward sex were first addressed, efforts to decrease the spread of the disease was far more effective. (Read the full article here)

More recently, a delegate of US Bishops visited South Africa and saw firsthand the effect the church-run programs were having on those affected by HIV/AIDS. In a great example of how church and state can effectively work together, the Bishops visited with the staff of the US embassy in Swaziland to arrange for US government funding of these church-run programs. "The U.S. President's Emergency Plan for HIV/AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, provides extensive funds for the AIDS projects run by the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference, which includes the bishops of Swaziland, South Africa and Botswana."

To read more on the work being done by the diocesan clinics visited by the Bishops, read the full article at Catholic News Service.

Finding Faith on the Battlefield...

God's time is God's time. God's ways are God's ways. And sometimes, those times and ways are completely unexpected. In the midst of chaos and violence, Cpl. Andrew Roy, Jr. found his way back to Christ and the Eucharist. Not only that, but in the middle of Afghanistan he is now leading others to explore the possibility of that reunion as well. When God comes in power, our transformation is unbelievable!

(from Catholic News Service)
Roy, who never made it past his first Communion to confirmation until adulthood, struggled with understanding and embracing his faith for most of his life, until this deployment to Afghanistan with the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division.
"In May, he was bringing in books to disprove God's existence, and now he's willing to fight for it," said the Rev. Jeff Masengale, a captain and a Southern Baptist chaplain.

"I just wanted to rile things up," Roy told Catholic News Service.
But over a three-month period, discussions between the two men led Roy back to his Catholic roots. Recently, he decided to turn his private research into a catechism class for other soldiers on this forward operating base, or FOB. READ MORE

Daily Prayer Reflection: Do we recognize our need for God?

Those who see me in the street run far away from me. I am likea dead man, forgotten, like a thing thrown away. But as for me, I trust in your, Lord, I say: "You are my God. Let your face shine on your servant. Save me in your love." Psalm 31: 13, 15, 17

The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to him, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them." Luke 15:1-2

Ahh, the Pharisees...always missing the meaning in the moment, lost in their own righteousness. If we are honest, we have a lot of moments like them too, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not. The sinners and tax collectors (could there be a more unworthy bunch?) were all rapt with attention listening to Jesus, this man who actually gave them the time of day. Yet the Pharisees came only to judge, with no effort to listen to his teaching until it was pointedly directed at them. Even still, Jesus has reminded the Pharisees before that those who are well are not in need of a physician, yet, the lesson has not sunk in. This time, Jesus tells them that the Lord rejoices more over the repentance of one sinner than the existence of many righteous who have no need of repentance (or think they have no need of repentance).

In contrast, the Psalmist is quite clear of his own dire condition. "I am like a dead man..." He knows his own weakness. Even in that weakness, though, his trust remains in God and the ability and desire of the Lord to save us, if only from ourselves.

Today, let us ask ourselves if we are more like the Pharisees or the Psalmist. Let us pray that in true humility we might always see our need for God and find our strength in Christ. Amen.

Daily Prayer Reflection: What Do We Deem as Greatness?

The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted. Matthew 23:11-12

What is our motivation for doing what we do? Sometimes in the larger things, we may feel that we come with noble motives, but what about the smaller everyday things? When we work, what is the purpose of what we do? Is it to feel accomplished, to be able to recommend ourselves, improve our own status? Or do we seek to be of help and to serve those around us, seeking instead the greater end over our own recognition?

This is the heart of what Jesus is telling his disciples, and continues to tell us today. It's easy to get caught up in thinking that a job is "ours", that no one else could do it or do it better at the very least, that we are the best at something - the most generous, the most loving, the best parent. Christ implores us to look beyond ourselves, to realize that our glory is aligned with His. Everything we do - work, school, family life - all of it is in service to one another, and in service of Christ. When those things are in jeopardy, we naturally feel the need to promote ourselves. Yet, the greater glory, it sounds like, is in continuing to serve selflessly and trusting that the Lord will provide all the recognition and promotion we need. It may not look as we want it to, but all will be well in the end.

Grant us rest, O Lord, from the worries in our hearts and help us to seek our greatness in You alone. Amen.

Sex & Prayer: [Pillow]Talk is Cheap...

Let's pray instead!

Ok, so if you're familiar with Scripture, you know that this is not a new concept. In the book of Tobit (one of the Catholic books not found in protestant bibles), Tobiah and Sarah pray before "consummation" the night of their wedding for Sarah to be set free from the demons that have plagued her. As a result, Sarah is set free and Tobiah does not join Sarah's other husbands in an early grave.

The Catholic Church has always held that sex is sacred - thus the Church's teaching on sex before marriage. The sexual encounter was created by God to be shared by man and woman to physically form a communion of persons. (Much more on that in John Paul II's Theology of the Body or any breakdown of that teaching.) Essentially, it allows us to participate in a special way in the unitive and creative powers of God, creating our own little trinitarian experience of husband, wife and Christ.

That is a little lost in today's world, and I'm sure there are many out there who will take issue with the synopsis of that teaching. The point is this, though - sex is, and always has been in the eyes of the Church, a form of prayer if entered into with the right mindframe. To create a written prayer for couples...well, perhaps that's a little strange, though maybe we have reached a point where having such a prayer will remind husbands and wives (and all others), that sex is not just a pastime or entertainment. Perhaps it will remind us that the sexual union of two people has a much deeper meaning, however adamantly we may try to downplay or deny that.

Read the full article here.

Scripture Symposium Talks Now Available on iTunes!

Missed the 2nd Annual Scripture Symposium in August? You can download the edited sessions on the Genesis Ministries page in iTunes!

Scripture in Our Daily Lives (iTunes download* | listen online)
by Sr. Sarah Burdick, S.G.L.

Sr. Sarah Burdick shares her wisdom on how Scripture has played a great role in shaping who she is today. Hear her real-life stories about the importance of drinking in the Word, struggles in living it out, and the power of the Word to convert us when we least expect it.

Jesus, Prayer & Scripture (iTunes download* | listen online)
by Dr. Peter Williamson

Dr. Peter Williamson takes us through a journey in Luke's gospel, exploring the way Jesus prays, teaches us to pray and the centrality of Scripture in the life of Jesus himself. Be drawn into the life of the Word by his exploration of the texts, relating the living Word of God to our everyday lives and the life of Christ.

*Choosing the iTunes download will open up the iTunes application on your computer.

Daily Prayer Reflection: What crushes our spirit?

For thus says he who is high and exalted, living eternally, whose name is the Holy One: On high I dwell, and in holiness, and with the crushed and dejected in spirit, To revive the spirits of the dejected, to revive the hearts of the crushed. Isaiah 57:15

Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I call to you all day long.
Bring joy to your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you.
Hear my prayer, O Lord; listen to my cry for mercy.
In the day of my trouble I will call to you, for you will answer me. Psalm 86:3-7

There are so many of us out there walking around with heavy hearts, the weight of the world on our shoulders. Whether it be grieving the loss or sickness of a loved one, dejected by the injustice in the world, or fearful of what the future may bring, we each carry our own burdens...or do we? Sometimes in the midst of anguish, we forget that there are others out there who suffer with us. Though each one's agony is of their own variety, and it is not quite truthful to say we know fully what the other is going through, the fact still remains that we suffer together. More importantly, the fact remains that we suffer with Christ. Christ before us, Christ beside us, Christ behind us - whatever we need.

I am perplexed at how the "faithless" can get through the many struggles of life without the solace of knowing that someone walks beside them. I suppose in the end, I won't know the answer to that question entirely, and it would be presumptious and arrogant to say that in some way, they simply are blinded to an inherent faith that exists within (no matter how much I believe that). It only goes to emphasize, though, that we, who have kinship with Christ through our baptism, should remain ever mindful that when we feel dejected, that when we want to scream, there is always someone there to pick us up and to listen. The end we have in mind may not be the end He has in mind for us, but He is always there to show us His love and mercy if we seek it and open ourselves to the possibility of it.

Lord, have mercy on us now and always!

Daily Prayer Reflection: Are we seeking to become like gods, or belong to God?

A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Quiet! Be still!" The wind ceased and there was great calm. Then he asked them, "Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?" They were filled with great awe and said to one another, "Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?" Mark 4:37-41

For centuries, there seems to have been a struggle between science and religion, one battling with the other, when in reality, they truly flow together if seen in the right perspective. Science flows from God as God is the Creator of all things, and God's wonderful artistry and imagination can be seen more clearly through the lens of science...if we keep it all in perspective.

In today's day and age, we are more and more inclined to try to control creation. Genetic engineering, weather manipulation, element creation...I can't help but wonder, are we trying to take over the role of God? It is the age-old temptation since the beginning of humanity - the serpent continues to whisper in our can BE like God...when the truth is rather that we can never be God as we are His creation, not His equal. We belong to God.

Through the example of Christ, we are asked to "be like" God, but not in the sense that we can "be God" - we are asked to put on Christ, to love as God loves, to humble ourselves as God did in taking on human form, to live and die with us. When the serpent whispers in our ears, tempting us to think we can become gods ourselves in this life, let us hope that the Holy Spirit answers back reminding us that we possess something greater than that temptation - the promise to live with God in all His glory by no merit of our own, but rather through the sacrifice, love and mercy of Jesus Christ.