Mary as Hero

Tuesday, March 25, 2014 12:02 PM Comments (25)

Has it ever occurred to you that Mary is a hero? I think it occurred to Tolkien.  As Joseph Pearce points out in his 2003 piece on Christian themes in Tolkien, it's no coincidence that the One Ring was destroyed on March 25.  Pearce says:

The significance of this date will not escape the attention of Catholic scholars, though it is certainly overlooked all too often by Tolkien's non-Christian admirers. Tom Shippey, an Anglo-Saxon scholar and Tolkien expert, states in his book, The Road to Middle Earth, that in "Anglo-Saxon belief, and in European popular tradition both before and after that, March 25 is the date of the Crucifixion." It is also, of course, the Feast of the Annunciation,...READ MORE

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Desperately Seeking Spring

Thursday, March 20, 2014 1:06 PM Comments (11)

Somewhere underneath the dark, jagged crust of ice outside my window, my crocus and daffodil bulbs are waiting.  Maybe they're even sprouting, but I'll never know, with all that snow.  Suspended somewhere in the middle of that same snowbank is the sled we abandoned halfway through the winter, because it was too cold to go sledding; and frozen to the top of that snowbank is the bag of garbage we flung there when we couldn't find the garbage can, because it was buried in an even bigger, awfuller snowbank.  Bag of gargage as white flag:  you win, winter. You killed us all.

But no! It's the first day of spring. It's International Happiness Day! I refuse to mark this day by writing about frozen...READ MORE

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Why We Can't Have Baptisms During Lent

Tuesday, March 18, 2014 11:19 AM Comments (44)

Did you just have a baby?  Did you call the rectory to schedule a baptism?  Did you hear that you'll have to wait, because they don't do baptisms during Lent?

At first, this may not make sense to you, but I assure you, there is a very good reason for this policy.  You see . . .

Lent is all about acknowledging our fallen nature and appealing to the Holy Spirit for help in conquering sin. Lent is about remembering that sin has wounded and weakened us, and that we are in desperate need of God's grace and salvation. We can gain this grace by engaging in ancient practices which engage both the body and the spirit, and we emerge refreshed and reunited with God, humbly giving thanks for His...READ MORE

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Beyond Ashes

Thursday, March 13, 2014 12:28 PM Comments (19)

It has come to my attention that many parishioners, and even many music directors, are not especially happy to find themselves singing "Ashes" every Ash Wednesday -- but they feel that there is no alternative. It's sort of like the way we eat turkey on Thanksgiving at our house. Nobody really enjoys it, but it's hard to imagine doing anything else on that day.

But no.  There are lots and lots of wonderful Lenten hymns to be found, even if your church isn't trained in polyphony.  Best of all, these hymns not only avoid heresy, they are actually rich lessons in doctrine and even in Bible history, if you pay attention to the words. Here's an example, where the first verse gives you a quick...READ MORE

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Jesus Isn't Fair

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 11:19 AM Comments (59)

Teaching catechism to little kids is a deliciously straightforward enterprise. You get to tell them wonderful, captivating stories, and then drop the bombshell:  "And guess what?  It's all true!"  And they are delighted. When those same kids get older, though, you will find yourself stretching your apologetics muscles a bit more -- at least, you will if you're doing it right!  If the kids have no questions, it means you're not conveying the urgent, glorious strangeness of our Faith.

As I prepped the younger kids for their first confession, one of my seasoned students started to scowl.  She knew all about original sin; but, from the vantage point of her teenage years, it suddenly struck her...READ MORE

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Making Ashes Out of You and Me

Thursday, March 06, 2014 1:03 PM Comments (32)

What a shame that Ash Wednesday comes but once a year. For many of us, that's the only opportunity we have to experience what many people consider the lyrical poet Thomas Conry's masterwork. Let's take a closer look.

The first lines are something of a ruse, are they not? Listen:

We rise again from ashes, 
from the good we’ve failed to do.
We rise again from ashes, 
to create ourselves anew.
If all our world is ashes, 
then must our lives be true,
an offering of ashes, an offering to you.

We are lulled by the conventional rhyme scheme, ABABABB, into expecting that the theme will be conventional, as well.  The speaker cannily completes the rhyme by using the same word, "ashes," three...READ MORE

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Allow Me to Inspire You This Lent

Tuesday, March 04, 2014 3:15 PM Comments (24)

Our college chaplain used to encourage us to take on thoughtful penances for Lent -- but not to tell everyone what we had chosen.  "It's not . . . " he would say, carefully, screwing up his cherubic face (and we knew he was going to bring out the big guns). . .  "It's not helpful."

And he is right.  A sacrifice is a personal thing, and nothing good can come of telling other people what you've decided to do for Lent.

He had nothing to say, however, on the subject of telling other people what to give up for Lent. So that's what I'm going to do. 

  • To anyone in the secular media attempting to write a story about the Catholic Church: give up winging it.  Listen, the Church is complicated....READ MORE

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Reading Suggestions for Lent

Thursday, February 27, 2014 2:40 PM Comments (12)

If you're going to find a book for Lent, you have less than a week left to find it!  Here are a few suggestions:
 

Through the Year with Pope Francis:  Daily Reflections A collection of short excerpts from the talks and writings of Pope Francis, paired with questions and reflections that draw out an encouraging or challenging idea for the day.  A good accompaniment for daily prayer -- or a "bathroom book" that anyone in the family can pick up and browse through.

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis What I'm currently reading aloud to my kids, ages 11 and up. It's a bit over the heads of some of them, but it's lively and entertaining and full of "Ouch, that's familiar" moments.

The...READ MORE

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About Simcha Fisher

Simcha Fisher
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Simcha Fisher, author of The Sinner's Guide to Natural Family Planning writes for several publications and blogs at I Have to Sit Down. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and nine children. Without supernatural aid, she would hardly be a human being.