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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

When Life Gets in the Way

I want God to be an integral part of my everyday life. Hence the attempts at praying the Rosary daily. But in the last couple of weeks while I was working a temporary "part time" job for AOL, I was actually working every free moment I had.

Rosaries went by the wayside as I ate breakfast at the computer and then continued to work throughout the morning without a break. At night I fell into bed too tired to think, much less pray like I usually do. Only a brief, "All glory and honor are yours, Almighty God..." and then I was asleep.

I am done with those work deadlines now, so its time to resume my usual prayer habits. But what disturbs me is that they should have gone by the wayside at all. They should have stayed, and everything else should have gone by the wayside. I feel like life got in the way of prayer, and my entire state of mind seemed focused on earthly things. And I am disappointed in myself.

Do I pray because I have nothing better to do? Or do I pray because God is the first priority in my life? I think this little stint may have revealed the ugly truth. Ew.

Opus Dei has the right idea about living our faith out during the most mundane of tasks. I want to do that - see God in every detail. But it has not been working out that way for me these last couple of weeks. Its like I suddenly forgot all about God - that is how unconsciously it happened. I "woke up" two weeks later and realized I had somehow forgotten God during my busy time.

I feel so weak. And I don't want this to happen ever again. How do I avoid this in the future? How can I start living my faith even in the most mundane of tasks, even when life gets too busy for everything else? How do I accomplish that?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Ivy surprises me constantly with the things she says and does, especially when it comes to our faith. My husband asked her if she was Mexican (like her grandfather), and she said, "I'm not Mexican! I'm Caf'lic!"

But this morning really made me stop and think. I was irritated that I could not find her church shoes as we were rushing to get out the door for Mass. She likes to play dress up with them and tends to lose one of them at any given time. "Ivy," I said tersely, "When you play with your shoes and don't put them back in your closet, it makes me very frustrated."

"Twust in the Lord, mom. He will bless you and keep you," she said sweetly.

Ha! Out of the mouths of babes.... sometimes it takes a 3 year old to remind you of what you already knew, and to give you peace.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Byzantines

Today my husband and I went to the Divine Liturgy in the Catholic Byzantine Rite. The Divine Liturgy is basically the equivalent of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It was absolutely fascinating. There are many differences, and many similarities. Their prayers are similar, but the entire Liturgy is chanted, in English. There is a lot of incense used, and instead of kneeling they stand in joyfulness at the Resurrection.

In this particular church, the priest places a very strong importance on the children attending ("If there are no kids, there are no priests," he says). They are allowed to run amok in the church (within reason), make noise, and generally be kids.

During the Gospel they are rounded up and stand in front of the priest as he reads it. Then they venerate the Gospel. During the homily, they are again called forth to sit at his feet as he gives them a very short homily that is directed precisely at them as children - easy to understand, and to the point. Since today is the Feast of the Assumption, he showed them an embroidered icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary (known to the Byzantines as the Theotokos, or God Bearer) and explained that she was Assumed body and soul into Heaven. This short homily delivered, he said, "Okay? Alright. Scatter." The children scampered back to their parents, and then the homily for the adults was given.

There was such a natural feeling to it all. It was noisy, and slightly chaotic, and relaxed. Like, "Hey, dudes, we are all chillin' here with the Christ". Yet oddly enough, it was also extremely reverent. The icons and the whole church were stunningly beautiful.

The altar, which is Heaven, is screened off with a gold "Iconostasis" (basically a screen). In the center is a large gate, the "Royal Door" which is opened so that the priest, in persona Christi, can walk from Heaven to Earth and back and forth throughout the Divine Liturgy. On the sides are smaller doors that the deacons and altar boys walk through as needed.

Phillip whispered to me, "I understand why there can be hijinks in the Church. Its because their Altar is separate. No hijinks go in there, it is protected. So its okay if its a little unruly out here. This is considered Earth. And back there is Heaven."

We had left our girls at home with my parents, who are visiting. But I really regretted not bringing them, because they would have had a whole lot of fun. How many times can you say your kids have actual fun during the Roman Catholic Mass? It is not how I would describe that experience for the children. Reverent, yes. Holy, yes. Solemn, yes. But fun? Definitely not.

So I think we are going to make an effort to go to Mass there again in the coming months so they can experience it.

Another difference between them and the Roman Rite is that the children take Communion immediately after Baptism. Unlike how we go through classes and preparation, they go straight into it and are Catechized from the time they are itty bitty little ones. I saw a 5 year old go up and receive, and I was feeling all shocked and awkward, wondering if I should tell her mother. I thought, "What if they are running so amok that a kid sneaks through and takes Communion when they are not supposed to?!" I asked her about it afterwards and she explained that this is how the Byzantine Rite works.

There are so many other interesting things about it - the smells and bells, the many, many  Kyrie Eleisons, the mode of receiving the Eucharist, etc. But it would take forever to explain it all. All I can say is this: If you ever have a chance to go to a Byzantine Divine Liturgy, you should. You may feel out of place and awkward at first because you don't know what do to, but then you find that no one is really staring, and they don't seem to care if you are doing it "right". It helps if you have a friend who goes there and can explain things to you. It fulfills your Sunday obligation and they are in full Communion with the Holy Roman Catholic Church (in fact, they pray more times for the Pope that we do at our Mass!) Its a learning experience, and is a way to begin to grasp just how rich our faith is. Its easy to think in terms of "Novus Ordo" and "Extraordinary From", but I suddenly realize that there is so very much more out there. My mind has been opened.

Friday, August 13, 2010

A Joyful Martyrdom

My Catholic blogging buddy, Andrea, posted here about praying for the ability to withstand persecution and to joyfully embrace martyrdom if it comes. Although martyrdom seems frightening for our earthly selves, through the grace of the Lord we may be transformed and find it a blessing to have the opportunity to demonstrate our love of Christ. Some accounts of the martyrs talk about their joy and radiance as they die for Christ. Some had even prayed for it, that the Lord would bless them with martyrdom.

Michael Voris or the Vortex on Real Catholic TV talks about such an eventuality in this video. It gave me the chills to think about it but it also fortified me. I, too, pray that I will be strong enough to always stand by my faith, especially if I am put to the test.

This program is from

Side note: Who were the very very first martyrs to die for Christ? The Holy Innocents were the first born sons who were murdered by King Herod as he tried to find and destroy Jesus.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

In the Confessional

I try to go to Confession frequently. My husband Phillip and I take turns every other Saturday. One of us watches the kids while the other one drives to Confession. Going weekly would be better, but at least this way, whichever one of us is going to Confession has some quiet time to pray, contemplate, and do a proper examination of conscience.

One of the recurring things I have to confess is the way in which I lose my patience with my children. I immediately feel terrible when it happens, but there are times that it comes so quickly and the words shoot out of my mouth before I have even formed a thought. 2 seconds before it happens I have no idea it is about to happen. I cannot seem to control the reaction. This always coincides with lack of sleep. The less I sleep the more likely I am to snap. And I am always immediately regretful.

The problem, actually, is not just snapping at them or saying things that are less than loving and kind. Though its wrong to talk to them like that, what I think is worse is the anger in my heart. I just get so angry, and it flares up in a millisecond with a force that is so overwhelming that it bursts forth in words and tone.

I sort of think that if you have to confess the same thing regularly, then something is not right. How can I keep making the same mistakes over and over? I always resolve to never do it again. And then I do.

However, I console myself with the fact that each time it happens and I confess it, it takes longer and longer for me to fall into the same sin again. Maybe eventually with the help of the Lord I will master it completely. In the meantime, I am grateful for the Sacrament of Confession. Through it I am renewed, washed clean, and given bright hopes for the future.

As a side note, when I went through RCIA my sponsor and pretty much the entire class taught that we did not really need to go to Confession, or shall I say "Reconciliation". They showed us a video once of how to confess, and it was a face to face confession that took the form of a conversation. "Hey, Father, how are ya? Did you see the game yesterday?" None of this, "Forgive me Father, for I have sinned." In my opinion, this brings focus and attention to the priest as a person instead of In Persona Christi and creates a light hearted social interaction that should have no place in the confessional. The sinner comes with weight on his or her soul, to be absolved and to come closer to God - not to shoot the breeze with the priest. The interaction should reflect the seriousness of the situation. But that is just my opinion, and I know that I am not in the majority.

My RCIA sponsor never, ever would go to Confession. The last time he "confessed" was in a communal absolution of sins where you put your sins on a paper that went into a basket and they all got burned or something hippie like that. Then the priest gave communal absolution for those sins.

I think calling it Reconciliation diminishes the seriousness of the sins we commit. While I am at it, let me say I am also not a fan of the face to face Confessions. I am already nervous about it every time (yes, even though I go frequently!) so when I have to do it face to face I feel even more nervous. Give me a screened confessional booth any day.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Rewards for the Rosary

I have been struggling to get my Rosary said every day, and usually I either miss saying it or I say it late at night before bed (probably the worst time of the day to try and do it!) So this past week I decided to start saying it in the mornings after breakfast, and that way I would be alert and focused, and my daughters could sit with me and pray along as best as their young hearts can.

Well, a couple of mornings ago Ivy was too distracted to sit with me, she just wanted to play. I said my Rosary and moved on with the day. When she realized it was over, she asked if I would help her pray a Rosary using the cute child sized rosary beads she was given for her baptism. Of course, I was happy to oblige. She seemed antsy throughout, and I asked her if she wanted to stop. "No," she said. "I want to do all of it, the whole fing." She continued to fidget, so I stopped. "Are we done?" she asked. "No, but you aren't paying attention so I figured I should stop."

"No, no," she insisted. "I am paying attention and I want to do the whole fing." So on we prayed, and after we were done, she bounced up and said, "Can I have my princess vitamins now?"

I said of course, and went to go get them. "Ah, that's what I want!" she said happily.

"Did you pray the rosary just so you could get your vitamins??" I asked. And the cheerful reply was "Yeah!"

Since the other routine we changed this week was that I started giving her vitamins after the Rosary instead of after breakfast, she figured she would have to do a Rosary before getting her candy-like vitamins!!

Oh well... maybe somewhere along the way the habit will be instilled in her, even if her 3 year old brain does it for a specific and immediate physical reward for now.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Latin Mass Magazine

We subscribe to an amazing magazine called The Latin Mass - The Journal of Catholic Culture and Tradition. We look forward to it every time. If you don't already subscribe, I highly recommend it.

Some of the articles are pretty heavy, theologically speaking, but there is always something new to learn. The last issue we received contained an article by Dr. Alice von Hildebrand, the wife of philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand. In this thought-provoking article titled, "Messa Tridentina", there was this astute observation, which really made me think:

"One thing which has preoccupied me from 1969 on is that those (whether Bishops, Priests, or lay people) who are fiercely antagonistic to the "old" (in the negative sense) Mass are often the very same people who dissent from Church teaching starting with their opposition to Humanae Vitae - the first link in a chain of disastrous attacks on the natural law and the Church's holy teachings (let us recall the tempest triggered by Humanae Vitae) - and who favor (in the name of of justice and democracy the ordination of women while denigrating the awesome privilege of women to give life. This is an observation that I submitted to then Cardinal Ratzinger whom I had the privilege of seeing several times before he became Pope (and once afterwards in a private audience). I have reasons to assume that he saw the point I was trying to make."

Let us recall the Humanae Vitae is an encyclical by Pope Paul VI reaffirming the Church's teachings on human life and birth.

The article makes a slew of other highly cogent points in regards to the traditions of our Faith. I wish I could share the entire thing with you, but perhaps instead I can direct you to this page that contains sample articles for the Latin Mass magazine.

I would recommend any Catholic who takes their faith seriously to subscribe to this magazine. Even if you do not prefer to worship at the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, the articles are sure to enlighten and educate us all.

And for those of us who do long for a Traditional Latin Mass, especially here in Las Vegas, it will at the very least show you that you are not crazy. There are places where it exists as the norm, and there are people out there who think just like you!

What is the prevailing attitude in your parish or community in regards to the Traditional Latin Mass? Do you have a regular Sunday Tridentine Mass?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Miracles of the Eucharist

I went to an Apologetics class last night. The topic was the Real Presence in the Eucharist. We looked at what other Christians believe, and then we looked at the scriptural evidence for what we believe. One of the points that I would think is hard to argue against is that if it were a symbol, as Protestants believe, why would the disciples say, "This teaching is hard. Who can accept it?" and they left. Then Jesus asked his apostles, "Will you leave too?" And the apostles say "Where would we go, you have the words of eternal life" (I'm paraphrasing John 6 here). If it were symbolic then the disciples would have no problem and it would be easy for them to stay! But it was so shocking and difficult for them that they stopped following Jesus!

Anyway, the class was really interesting, and at the end of the class we talked about Eucharistic Miracles, where the Body and Blood appeared in their real and natural form (as opposed to under the appearance of bread and wine).

The reference was to the Eucharistic Miracle at Lanciano, Italy. This website states, in part, states:

"Ancient Anxanum, the city of the Frentanese, has contained for over twelve centuries the first and greatest Eucharistic Miracle of the Catholic Church. This wondrous Event took place in the 8th century A.D. in the little Church of St. Legontian, as a divine response to a Basilian monk's doubt about Jesus' Real Presence in the Eucharist. 

During Holy Mass, after the two-fold consecration, the host was changed into live Flesh and the wine was changed into live Blood, which coagulated into five globules, irregular and differing in shape and size. 

The Host-Flesh, as can be very distinctly observed today, has the same dimensions as the large host used today in the Latin church; it is light brown and appears rose-colored when lighted from the back.
The Blood is coagulated and has an earthy color resembling the yellow of ochre."

The website goes on to detail various scientific studies, but the one that both shocked me and made my heart burst in love for Him was this one:

The Flesh consists of the muscular tissue of the heart.

How truly amazing and beautiful is that!!!

Masters of Chant or Masters of Sacrilege?

I just stumbled upon this musical group Gregorian - Masters of Chant. It was an unpleasant surprise.

What a perversion of Catholic chant. The sad thing is that although this musical group has gained popularity, chant in the liturgy has not (in my Diocese and many others). You almost don't hear it at all in Catholic churches here in Las Vegas. I myself lead a small chant group, which is confined to Vespers once a month and the odd special Mass. But we have yet to be asked to chant by an actual priest. The priests would shut us out of the liturgy entirely, it seems.

This is an absolute shame, when you consider that chant has existed to uplift and inspire us for many centuries before Vatican II. Our Holy Father has said in his Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis that chant should be employed as the norm in the liturgy. The Holy Father goes unheeded.

Chant is prayer. Chant is worship. So what is this group worshiping? Could it be money, fame, and pride?

I once heard a visiting Opus Dei priest say that we are made to worship. We want to worship. It is a part of us as human beings. And when you remove God from our lives, we end up worshiping something anyway.

What do you worship?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Welcome to The Mantilla Diaries

Hello! I don't really know what I am doing with this blog yet. I already have a daily blog called Las Vegas Mama (which you can access via my profile). Since the Las Vegas Mama site is really just for entertainment purposes I do not generally discuss my faith there.

But I take my faith very seriously. I just don't like to shout it from the rooftops.

About me...

I am a Catholic convert - I was baptized in 2006 when I was pregnant with my first daughter. I didn't know I was pregnant yet, but everyone kept saying how I was glowing - and they all thought it was due to the baptism!

My faith journey has been a long one. Too long to go into here, I would say. But I had never been baptized before, had no religion whatsoever, and was into a lot of evil things. Except back then I didn't think they were evil. I would even go as far as to say I didn't know they were evil.

If you had known me before I was interested in God, you would be shocked at my complete turnaround. I have my husband to thank for that, because it was he who catechized my while we were dating. He was God's gift to me (insert joke here about men being God's gift to women)!

And here I am now, 10 years after meeting my husband, going to church every Sunday, going to confession every other weekend, and yes - wearing a mantilla to church!

Welcome to The Mantilla Diaries.

My daughter pretending to be at Mass