Think about those times in your life when you have felt inspired to something really great. Where does that inspiration come from?
The Holy Spirit. God inspires us to do great things with our lives.
----Matthew Kelly

Welcome to The Not So Perfect Catholic!

Disclaimer: I am not a theologian, just a Catholic empty-nester trying to figure it all out. The views on this blog are my own.

How an Adoration Chapel Spawned a Miracle Halfway Around the World

This is the story of how a small, humble Eucharistic Adoration Chapel in the Southeastern United States spawned a miracle halfway around the world. The Chapel, sadly, is not a "Perpetual Adoration Chapel" because there isn't someone scheduled 24/7. My hope is that this story will change that.
A Monsignor from Nigeria has visited my parish for over a decade. From what I understand, he is friends with a couple who lived 2 hours away. They moved into the area, so when the priest visited, he kept coming back. He was so moved by our humble little Adoration Chapel that he began one in his home parish. There are now 11 Chapels in his diocese, all because he fell in love with our Chapel. But that's not the miracle.
The Monsignor tells us that there is a man in his parish who, for three years, stopped in as he went by the Chapel. He didn't stay long, maybe not even 5 minutes. Just long enough to say "Hi" to Jesus and to let him know someone knew He is there. One day, the man was on the roof of his house, and he had a tumble. The result: He broke his neck and his vertebrae. He was paralyzed with no hope of being able to walk again. A few months later, he was alone in his hospital bed when a man in white came in. He told the paralytic that he hadn't seen him in a while, and wanted to stop in to say "hi". When the man in white left, the paralytic got out of bed and walked around his room. His wife came in and saw him and yelled for medical personnel. When his wife asked what happened, the man said, "I don't know. A man in white came in and said he wanted to say "hi" and then I could walk."
I have said numerous times how much it makes my heart hurt that people walk by the Adoration Chapel and don't just pop in. Some people think they can't go in if they don't have an hour. Some people don't even realize Jesus is there, waiting for us with open arms. He's waiting for us to acknowledge He's there. My parish just finished 40 hours of Adoration leading up to Corpus Christi. One of our current priests is working hard for an understanding of Adoration, and the graces we receive from it.
Since the miracle occurred, the Monsignor said they have people, Catholics and Non-Catholics, stopping by the Adoration Chapels. In a country where Christians are being persecuted, I think Jesus is getting His message across.
Picture of a Eucharistic Adoration Chapel with text below: The Chapel that spawned a miracle halfway around the world

June Reads: Books Read During the Month of June

Are there some good books out there, or what? Unfortunately, my stack of books to read is growing instead of dwindling. Following below are brief reviews from books I read during the month of June. Get ready to add to your "To Read" shelf!

📗 Hungry Souls: Supernatural Visits, Messages, and Warnings from Purgatory      
     (Gerard J.M. Van Den Aardweg- TAN Books)
If you want to get a glimpse of purgatory and realize the importance of praying for the deceased, this is the book.  This book was fascinating. Purgatory is a difficult concept for Catholics and Non-Catholics to grasp, but this book did an excellent job of making that concept a little more concrete. There are saints' and laypersons' accounts of being visited, as well as how prayers and penance aided these souls during their time in Purgatory.
My recommendation: 👍

📗 Pope Joan (Donna Woolfolk Cross- Three Rivers Press)
Before I say anything about this book, I have to say that the author clearly states
that this book is fiction. In the back of the book, the author notes that there is some speculation that Joan was, in fact, a real person, and she makes some strong evidence to suggest that there may have been a Pope Joan. But, as I said, this book is fiction. Was there really a Pope Joan? That's just one of the answers we'll have when we get to Heaven!
My recommendation: 👍

📗 Knight of the Holy Ghost- A Short HIstory of G.K.Chesterton (Dale Ahlquist- Ignatius Press)
Yes, I knew who G.K. Chesterton was before I read this book...kind of. I knew he was an author, but this book delves into everything he was: The Man, The Writer, and The Saint. He was before his time; things that he said about the early 1900's still hold true today. For example, in the book What's Wrong With the World, he identifies four main things that are wrong with the world: big government, big business, feminism, and public education. His reasoning is that all of these things undermine the family, which is the basic unit of society, the thing that must be stable for society to be stable, the thing that must be strong for society to be strong, and the thing that is most under attack in our society today. (page 73) There are quite a few prophetic things that he wrote that are of specific interest.
The man was constantly writing, if not with pen & paper, then in his head. Constantly. If he wasn't writing books, he was writing poetry or articles for newspapers.  I was pleasantly surprised to read that G.K. is the author of the Father Brown series, which I have watched all the way through on Netflix. I had no idea he wrote the books, which now I think I have to start reading. 
Biographies are one of my favorite genres to read, especially one that is well written. I learned a lot about G.K. Chesterton by reading this short history, so much that I want to start reading some of his books. I dog-eared quite a few pages in this book so I can take notes on it and refer back to as needed. 
My recommendation: 👍

📗 Letters to a Suffering Church (Bishop Robert Barron- Word on Fire)
This little book packs a punch in explaining why, during this critical time in Church history, you should stay instead of jumping ship. Chapters touch on how this scandal is a "diabolical masterpiece", what scripture says about human sexuality, former history of scandals, dimensions of the treasure that explains why we should stay with the Church, and what we can do to fight for the Church. This is a short book (only 102 pages) and a very easy read. Bishop Barron hits the nail on the head when he says the Eucharist is the single most important reason for staying faithful to the Catholic Church. You can't find it anywhere else; and no wickedness on the part of priests or bishops can affect it. (page 74) One other thing about this book: it's free; you only pay shipping & handling. You can order it here.
My recommendation: 👍

picture of an open book held over water with the text "June Books" over the picture. Below the picture is the text "Review of Catholic Books read during the month of June"

I Have a Winner in the Catholic Planner Debate

Blue planner with different color markers above it and stickers sticking out of the planner
In a previous post, I compared two planners. At that time, I wasn't sure how my CTTY (Catholic Through The Year) planner was going to hold up. As a full-time public school Speech Language Pathologist, I travel between a couple of schools and my planner gets thrown into my bag at the end of the day. I wasn't sure how the coil binding was going to do as the year marched on, but I was extremely pleased with how well it held up.
My planner on the last day of school.
As you can see, the planner held up famously! It looks as good on the last day of school as it did on the first. I pre-ordered one for next school year as soon as I received the email that pre-orders began.

Advantages to Disc Binding

There are some differences, but I'd say the differences are definitely for the better! One major difference is the binding. Martina has given a choice of having the planner already punched for using a disc system, or, if you prefer, you can have the planner without holes so you can bind as you wish. She has also given a choice of colors for the cover.
I use the disc system for my therapy book at work, so I went with the disc. There are at least a couple of advantages for using the disc system

  1. If there are pages you won't use, it's super easy to take them out. You can save them in case you decide you want to use them, then it's really simple to put them back in the planner.    
    These are some pages that I don't think I will use, so I took them out.
  2. Don't like the way the planner is organized? You can rearrange the pages so they will be just the way you want them! 

Looking Inside the Daybook Planner

The monthly views have remained the same, but there are a couple of subtle changes in weekly views.
2018-2019 Planner
2019-2020 Planner
The Notes, Daily Examen, and Monthly Quote are on the opposite page from the previous one. A nice little feature has been added: bubbles to mark off daily water intake. There are 8 bubbles per day.

But that's not all you'll receive! In addition to the monthly/weekly views, you'll receive a bundle. This includes a whole slew of extras! There are some features that were in the previous planner:

The Spiritual Sketch pages were in the front of the previous version of the planner, but can easily be placed wherever you prefer them to be.

 The Monthly Devotion pages were just before the monthly and weekly views. Again, they can be moved wherever you prefer them.

 New Pages in the Bundle

 In addition to a Daily Examen on the weekly view, there is a more extensive Examination of Conscience included. This takes the 10 Commandments and breaks them down for a more thorough examination.
There are 5 pages of "to do list". With the disc, I can move a page from week to week so I don't forget anything.
 A "mood tracker" and "habit tracker" are included, 1 for each month. Will I use the mood tracker? It's doubtful at this stage in my life, but I definitely see how it could be very useful for NFP.

 There are note pages all of the place in this planner. Very helpful, indeed! Again, with the disc system, I can pop these pages out and in where I need them. If I had to pick one thing I didn't like about this planner, it would be that there are no lines on these pages, just graphs with dots. It's definitely not a deal-breaker for me!
I absolutely love this feature! I can write the names of the books in my ever-growing stack of books to read, then color them when I finished it. Great idea to include this page!
There's one thing I added on my own: a pocket for my stickers. I took a piece of card stock, punched it using my disc puncher, folded the bottom up a bit then stapled it. I had to trim the side off a little before I stapled it, but I think it will do. (If you don't have a disc puncher, you can use a single hole puncher, punch the holes in it, then clip an opening to fit it on the disc.)
There are additional bundles that are available for purchase: Household Management, Homeschool, Blogger, and Fitness. There are also half-sheet bundles to help with meal-planning, self-care, to do, and organization. AND, there are blank pages available: graph, blank, lined (yay!), and dotted. 

Is this the perfect planner for you? I honestly can't answer that question; what's best for one person may not be the best for another but I would definitely give this one a try. At $40, it is less expensive than another popular Catholic Planner, and in my experience, holds up much better. Now the question is: Will the discbound hold up as well as the coil bound? I'll be able to answer that question better at the end of the school year, but at least I know if it doesn't, I can take next year's planner down to an office supply store and have them bind it for me. This is absolutely, hands-down, the best planner I've used!

There is an option to download Daybook as a pdf for only $12. I'm not sure how much it would cost to have a professional print it out for you but if you have a  decent printer, this may be the option for you.
blue planner with different color markers above it and stickers sticking out of the planner with the text "And the winner is" below the planner

Is Jesus Really Present in a Wafer?

Picture of communal hosts in a paten with the quote under the picture: the faithful, encouraged by Holy Mother church, come to adore Christ hidden in the Blessed Sacrament" taken from the book 100 Holy Hours for Women (TAN Books)
Photo by Josh Applegate on Unsplash
While looking through some Instagram posts, this comment on a priest's post caught my eye: Jesus isn't in a wafer. At first I chuckled, but then I felt sad for the person who posted the comment. I felt sad because he thought he had to post that comment. I felt sad that he doesn't know The Truth. I prayed for him that one day he will come to know Jesus in the Daily Sacrifice of the Mass.
Another reaction I had to the post was Oh! But He is!

The Long(ish) Answer

Yes, there are "wafers" (hosts) on the altar, but during the Mass, something spectacular happens: Those "wafers" turn into the Body of Christ with the priest being in persona Cristi. During the Consecration, the priest says the same words that Jesus himself said during the Last Supper (in bold):
Take this, all of you, and eat of it,
For this is My Body,
Which will be given up for you.
and:
Take this, all of you, and drink from it,
For this is the chalice of My Blood,
The Blood of the new and eternal covenant,
Which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Do this in memory of me.
In 4 different books of the Bible, the verse is identical: This is My Body. (Matthew 26:26, Luke 22:19, Mark 14:22, and 1 Corinthians 11:24). As the USCCB website points out:  As St. Thomas Aquinas observed, Christ is not quoted as saying "This bread is my body" but "This is my body". (Summa Theologiae, III q. 78, a. 5)  

Mary & Joseph's Adoration was hidden in Nazareth in their home. They couldn't go out and announce to their neighbors that their son was God. We adore Jesus as He is hidden in the tabernacle, in the Holy Eucharist, but we can go out and tell people we adore Christ in the Eucharist. We don't have to be quiet about it as Mary & Joseph had to.

The Apostles didn't understand when Jesus said, A little while and you will no longer see me, and again a little while later and you will see me. (John16:16) During a homily, the priest said that if we look in other people we see Jesus. In people we don't like, we should see Jesus. That makes perfect sense. They wouldn't see Jesus after his Ascension but would see Him through the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. We see Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. What a privilege to be able to partake in this most Holy Sacrament! To be able to see Jesus in the "wafer".

In the book 100 Holy Hours for Women (Mother Mary Raphael Lubowidzka, TAN Books), I read at least a couple of quotes that say it much better than I am able:

  • The great love of our Savior hidden in the Holy Eucharist is, indeed, above the comprehension of the world that Jesus embraces with His perfections. (page 28)
  • Exalted above the Heavens, He conceals HImself under the appearance of bread and wine, for the purpose of giving Himself to souls and of strengthening them with His body and blood. (page 29)
Bottom line: We can't understand how Jesus is present in the host. It is a complete mystery that can only be explained by faith. Receiving the Eucharist and truly believing that He is present strengthens our faith.

The Short Answer

So, the short answer to the question Is Jesus in a wafer? would be "no". But the long answer: After the "wafer" has been consecrated, He certainly is. He is also present in the chalice which before consecration was wine.

Picture of communal hosts in a paten with the text Is Jesus really in a "wafer"? below the picture

Podcasts: My Top 10 List for the Catholic Woman

Smartphone with white earbuds on a table with the text: Top 10 Catholic Podcasts
Photo by William Iven on Unsplash
Lately, I've been listening to a lot of podcasts. Instead of having the radio on in the car, I turn on a podcast. A friend told me about a Christian podcast, so after that, I started looking for some Catholic ones. I was a bit surprised at how many good ones there are out there! Here are a few that I found that I really enjoy listening to; they're not just for Catholic women.

1. Abiding Together
     This one is my top podcast! 3 women: 2 laypersons and 1 Sister who are friends
     share their faith and open up their hearts to their listeners.

2. Bible Study Evangelista
     How I love Sonja Corbitt! A Southern Baptist turned Catholic, she knows the Bible
    and can bring it down to my level. Every time I listen to an episode I learn
    something new and find myself saying "Wow!"

3. Catholic Momcast
     If you're familiar with CatholicMom.com, you'll want to listen in. I like that the
     hosts of this show have older children, so they are more relatable to me than
     "younger" shows.

4. Ask Father Josh
    Father Josh is a young priest from Louisiana who humbly starts each podcast by
    saying that if his advice isn't helpful, you can reject it.  I will often listen as I'm in
    the park & I wonder if the people I pass wonder why I'm laughing. (It's usually
    when he breaks out in song and then doesn't know the words.)

5. Jesus Calling
     This isn't a Catholic podcast, but it doesn't matter. Uplifting stories about how
     God is working in the lives of some people you may have heard of.

6. Shoot the Shitake
     I had the pleasure of meeting Father Leo Patalinghug a few years ago. He's also
     known as the "cooking priest" who won a throwdown against Bobby Flay. His
    guests are sometimes controversial but he doesn't shy away from asking tough
    questions.

7. Jeff Cavins
     I just started listening to this podcast, but I've already found that a lot of what     
    Jeff says hits home. I find myself wanting to take notes on most of his episodes.

8. Fr. Mike Schmitz
     Who doesn't love Father Mike? This is a relatively short podcast that is his youtube
     clip in podcast form.

9. Pints with Aquinas
     Matt Frad's Australian accent is easy on the ears, but he gives some great insight
    into the Catholic Faith.

10. The Tightrope
     Just have around 5 minutes? This is quick but very thought-provoking. The
    description says this podcast "takes 3 to 5 minutes to see and embrace the
    opportunities embedded in our busy, messy lives that are meant to help us move
    towards heaven." that would just about sum it up!

If you'll notice, a lot of the podcasts are hosted by Ascension Presents, so check out the other podcasts they offer. These would be great to listen to while you're traveling, or just doing your daily chores. What are your favorite podcasts?
Smartphone with earbuds on a table on the top section. Text in the bottom section: Podcast Suggestions for Catholics.

What Has Happened to Respect?

Photo by Ric Rodrigues from Pexels
What has happened to respect with the Church? My parents raised all of their children to be respectful when attending Mass, and to be respectful to the clergy and religious. When did people forget how to act during Mass?

Modesty, Mouthies, and Name-Calling

At a recent Confirmation practice, one of the Sponsors (who I estimate to be in his late teens/early twenties) walked into the Sanctuary with a big cup of soda. I asked him politely if he would take the cup out of the Sanctuary. He did, but I was at the receiving end of some glares. I mean, really? You're going to disrespect Jesus by bringing that in the Sanctuary and by sipping on it? Our Eucharistic Chapel has a sign on the door:
Do people not understand that our Lord is present in the Holy Eucharist? Sure, He may be hidden away in the tabernacle, but check the red candle, people!

A Catholic Priest got slammed (and his account taken down) on Twitter for requesting that women cover their shoulders when attending Mass. Granted, most of the people angrily responding to him probably weren't practicing Catholics. His reasoning could have been communicated differently: Instead of saying it was to "protect the purity of the men", he could have said, " out of respect for the Holy Eucharist". Some tweeters are calling for women to show up to Mass in his parish wearing tube tops. REALLY??? You're going to disrespect Jesus like that? Oh, how the devil is surely eating this up. It's not okay to come to Mass in ripped jeans (no matter how much they cost you), short skirts/shorts, or with half of your upper body/stomach exposed. IT'S. JUST.NOT. Show some respect!

It's also not okay to chew gum during Mass. You may not have technically had anything to eat 1 hour before Communion, but you're about to put Jesus in your mouth. Wrigleys and Jesus don't mix. I was especially appalled to see a grown woman chewing gum while in the line to receive Communion. Did she swallow it, or did she receive the Eucharist with the gum still in her mouth? I was equally appalled to see a later elementary-aged child smacking away on his gum while in line for Communion.

And what is with people calling priests & nuns/sisters by their first names, deleting "Father" or "Sister"? I read an article written by a Sister of Mercy. When the commenters mentioned her name, they left off "Sister". Out of my mother's 7 siblings, 3 were priests and 1 was a nun/sister. My grandmother called each of them "Father" and "Sister". There was no calling them by their given or chosen name. I've spoken with people who have aunts and uncles who are priests and sisters, and they all call them by their name, leaving off their title. The sister at my parish and I have become close friends. She told me I didn't have to call her "Sister" but I told her that I certainly did. Yes, I know some priests have done some horrific things, but that doesn't change the fact that each of those men and women consecrated their lives to Jesus. The Sisters have married Jesus, and the priests have married the Church. That in itself is something to be respected.

Just pure ignorance...

I just don't get it. I don't understand where this is coming from. It has to be a lack of education. People are just ignorant of what the consecrated host really is. They are ignorant about how they should conduct themselves in the house of the Lord. I've heard, "Jesus doesn't care how I come to Church; he just cares that I'm there." True to a point, but would you go to a banquet with holes in your jeans or in a tube top? There are times when I don't wear my "Sunday best" to Mass, and there are times I show up to Daily Mass in a t-shirt, but you certainly won't see me in ripped clothing or with part of my upper body showing. Even when I was a lot younger, I wouldn't have dared to show up to Mass like that. Why wouldn't you be respectful to Him who gave his life for all of us so we will have everlasting life? It's time we started educating people (in a non-judgemental way) to respect the Church.
picture of tattooed man with hands in prayer in front of his face with the text below: Respect: Let's get it back!


Book Review: Girl Arise

Picture of the book on a wood background
I was a little leery of the term "Catholic Feminist" because of its negative connotation, especially with an ultra-conservative as myself. What exactly does that term mean? Claire Swinarski clarifies the term in her book, Girl, Arise!

To be a Catholic Feminist is to love the Church and to love our sisters, those next to us in the pew and those on the other side of the world. (Introduction, page xiv) Basically, our idea of a "real Catholic woman" has to change. This phrase takes on different looks because we're all different; God has given us gifts and calls us to use them in our unique way.

Getting Involved

There were a couple of things that bothered me at first.
1) She used the word y'all in the introduction of the book. My initial thought: She's a southern woman! Wrong. It always irks me just a little when a non-Southerner uses that word. But, she did spell it correctly and even used it appropriately so I'll cut her some slack! After doing a little bit of digging I discovered that she spent some time at Tulane University in New Orleans, so I'm okay with her using that word.
2) In the 2nd Chapter, Claire references a biography on Dorothy Day. She then asks, "Where are the Catholics when it comes to sex-trafficking, immigration issues, along with sexual harassment, equal pay, and rape culture?" Inside my head, I was screaming "NCCW!" (National Council of Catholic Women) (One look at their Commissions page and you'll see everything CCW is involved with at the local, deanery, diocesan, and national level. Want to get involved? CCW is the perfect place to start!) Claire did go on to say she has had supporters of these topics on her podcast. I didn't see any hosts from NCCW as I took a quick look over past episodes, so maybe that may be a suggestion?

Claire challenges women in Chapter 3 when thinking about serving: 1) To serve is to be like Christ. 2) Don't run away. 3) Recognize the service you're already performing. She continues to say that we can't act as Christ's presence if we're afraid of a five-letter word. (page 29) But, what is that word? Labor? Serve? Maybe I'm just daft, but I had a hard time figuring that out, even after I re-read that section several times.

Staying True to the Catholic Faith

I really liked how Claire discussed women of the Bible as leaders. When she brought up the point about women not being priests, I have to admit I held my breath. But, she did an excellent job of providing alternative ways women can be leaders in their own parishes. She stayed true to the Church on this topic.

Reading the Chapter on pro-life, I can tell this is an issue that she feels strongly about. She has definite opinions and is able to back them up with good, solid reasoning (at least to me). I love, love, love this line on page 49: Adoption is incredibly complicated and difficult. But it doesn't end a life. It begins a new family.

Stepping Away

At one point in the book, Claire suggests that it's okay to step away from the noise, no matter if it's Church organizations, social media, or a community. I couldn't agree more. Your relationship with Jesus is so much more important and as she says, all of those things will be there once you get right with Him. Think about it: Most Nuns/Sisters, Brothers, and Priests go on annual retreats. As a single/married woman/mom, why don't we do that as part of our vocation? We all need to step away from the world for a while to rejuvenate our relationship with Christ. Fr. Josh Johnson says he takes a day from time to time where he turns all electronics off. He lets people know ahead of time that his phone won't be on and he won't be checking emails or social media. We all need that time to turn off the noise and listen.

Claire calls us to action in our own communities. We shouldn't think spouting off on Twitter or Facebook is enough. She devotes a whole chapter to describing what loving your neighbor doesn't look like(pages 86-89) and gives suggestions on how to remedy it.

Conclusion

In conclusion: Claire makes some excellent points all throughout her book. But why do we have to give ourselves the title of "feminist"? Aren't all of her suggestions what all Catholics and Christians should be striving for? Maybe it's just the fact that she's a 20-something Catholic woman and I'm a 50-something Catholic woman, but just seeing the word "feminist" kind of gets under my skin. I think I would rather call myself a  "Real Catholic Woman". Once I got past the whole "feminist" terminology, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would definitely recommend it to other Catholic women...whether I perceive them to be "real" or not!
Picture of the book on a wood background with "Book Review for Real Catholic Women" on peach background on bottom of  Pinterest Pin.