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.

A Quotable Thankful Thursday

 
I'm sippin' my coffee out of my "Thankful" mug, thinking about what I'm most thankful for this week.

  • A couple of cool mornings this week. I usually walk in shorts and a sleeveless shirt but swapped it for a t-shirt those mornings. Unfortunately, it didn't last...today it was back to sleeveless.
  • New, free books!
Well, technically they aren't "free" because I send in a small donation to Dynamic Catholic every month to help keep the evangelization going. In return, I receive new books from time to time, and monthly videos from the founder, Matthew Kelly (see one of his quotes at the top of the blog page) and Alan Hunt.

Today's entry from The Wisdom of the Saints: I believe though I do not comprehend, and I hold by faith what I cannot grasp with the mind. --St. Bernard of Clairvaux

  • Which brings me to my next thankful: my Faith. That probably should go without saying, but I love the beauty of the Catholic Church. I love that I can receive Jesus every.single.day. I also love that our Protestant brothers and sisters have taught us how to evangelize. I truly believe that, especially through converts, the Church is learning how to "get out there and do something" instead of keeping it to ourselves. Or, maybe I'm just more aware of it. Or it could be because I have chosen to surround myself with the Church. 
    This is a statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Fountain. It hasn't been working in several years but a couple of men got it up and running this week and put a bench in front of it. Just in time for the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (which is tomorrow). The Solemnity of the Birth of John the Baptist is usually on June 24th (6 months before Christmas Eve) but since the Sacred Heart is on the 24th, St. John's Baptism was celebrated on June 23th. 

  • Beautiful sunrises on my walk. 

I turned around as I walked across the street and saw this beautiful scene. During my morning walks, I say the Rosary (if you aren't Catholic, you may be interested to know that the reason the prayers are so repetitive is so that you can meditate on different parts of Jesus' life) and meditate on Jesus' life followed by listening to the daily Mass Readings and a reflection. This morning (again, keep in mind it's the Solemnity of Birth of John the Baptist) went right along with the "Thankful Thursday" theme. The readings were Isaiah 49:1-6, Psalm 139, Acts 13:22-26, and Luke 1:57-66, 80; all about knowing that God made each of us with a plan in mind. 

The reflection I listened to was (again) perfect for this Thankful Thursday:
The more you are grateful and give praise to God, that is a measure that you've grown in humility. ---Dr. Tim Gray, PhD, The Augustine Institute

Thanks, Rebecca, for traveling with us as we learn to become humble!

Steamy Thankful Thursday

 
Time for some gratitude! Head over to Knit By God's Hand to get a huge dose of thankfulness from other bloggers!

It's been a hot and humid week, y'all! As in, when I walk out the door to walk around 6 a.m., the humidity slaps me in the face. We're talking "real feel temps" in the triple digits because of the humidity. It's days like this when I'm thankful I'm in East TN and not in SC anymore. 

This should go without saying, but thank God for air conditioning. I'm not pleasant to be around when I'm uncomfortable, just sayin'. So, thank you, Mr. Carrier for your invention!

On that same topic, I'm thankful for alternate cooking/baking options. I'm trying to cook supper using the air fryer, slow cooker, and electric skillet instead of turning on the oven. So far, so good! 

I'm so thankful for being able to catch up with childhood friends! I met a friend for noon Mass and then lunch. When I looked at my watch, it was almost 4:00. We've seen each other briefly at church but haven't had time to talk. I think we could have sat at the table for at least another hour or two. 

I'm in a huge spiritual slump right now. There is a Catholic site "Formed" that has a lot of videos ranging from Bible studies to movies to books. I decided to do a self-retreat using one of the book studies to get out of this long dry spell. And it's working, so thank you, Formed!

And thank you, Taylor Tripodi, for the gift of your talent and beautiful voice. This song expresses what I've been going through for months!

Slowing Down for a Thankful Thursday

 
Time for some gratitude! Head over to Knit By God's Hand to get a huge dose of thankfulness from other bloggers!

This week I'm thankful for:
  • A job that allows me to have summers off. When the boys were young, that meant we could do things during the day, or do nothing. The only schedule we had was when we had supper and baseball practices/games.
  • Drives in the mountain with the hubby. We took a drive to my "happy place" (a.k.a. Cades Cove) but got caught in a bear jam for about an hour. The plan was to drive halfway through Loop Road then take a road that just opened back up after being closed for 6 years and take the long way home. But because somebody wasn't very smart with their kids (hence the bear jam) we ended up taking a side road, driving to the other side of the loop, then taking another side road to double back and eat lunch at my hubby's favorite lunch spot in the cove. 
  • Wading in mountain streams. I haven't done this in years! The water was so cold that it took my breath away at first.
  • God's creation. From little frogs in the mountains to Red-Bellied Woodpeckers outside of my window, I'm always amazed at what He has created!


  • Irish Brown Soda Bread. I'm trying to tweak a traditional bread recipe, but it still doesn't taste the same as it did when we were in Ireland. It's good, especially with Irish butter, but it just isn't the same!

My motivation level is right at zero these days but I can still find some things to be thankful for!

What Should We Expect?

Photo courtesy of Viktor Hanacek, Picjumbo

So much is happening in the news lately (the year is 2022) that is giving us evidence that the devil is attempting his last stand. What should we expect with parents not letting God into their homes, shutting Him out, and thinking they can do everything on their own?  When children have never stepped foot in a church, let alone known what one is? (I had a student ask me "What's that?" after seeing a picture of a church.) When children grow into adulthood without being able to take control of their feelings and work out their frustrations and anger, then take those feelings out on innocent people? 

Getting it Right

Following the school shooting in Uvalde, TX, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick hit the nail right on the head: "Evil will always walk among us...It's God that brings a community together. If we don't turn back as a nation to understanding what we were founded upon and what we were taught by our parents and what we believe in, these situations will only get worse." (The New Yorker

Sister Lucia de Santos (one of the Fatima visionaries) stated in a letter to Cardinal Carlo Caffarro of Bologna that the final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and the family. Do not be afraid, because anyone who operates for the sanctity of marriage and the family will always be contended and opposed in every way, because this is the decisive issue. (Rorate Caeli, Inside the Vatican, Aleteia) From the inception of the popularity (for lack of a better word) of artificial birth control in the 60's, we've been on a snowball course with the implications growing larger and larger until now we have school/mall/store shootings that seem to be unexplainable. Is restricting guns an answer or is that just a bandaid? 

Lack of Respect

I blame the lack of respect for human life on the fact that parents aren't taking their children to church. They aren't educating them about God. They're more concerned with extra-curricular activities, the latest video game, and material things. They've shoved God out of their lives and the devil is taking full advantage of his chance, of his crack in the door. He's pushing it wide open and is loving every minute. In my blog post What Has Happened to Respect? I discuss the lack of respect during Mass. Ignorance, just pure ignorance. Parents aren't making sure their children are attending Faith Formation (i.e., CCD) and, more importantly, aren't educating themselves. Parents can't teach their children the beauty of the Catholic Faith when they don't know it themselves. 

During a trip to Ireland, I took my husband by St. Mary's Well in Killarney. My SIL and I found it when we were there a few years before. On the previous trip, it was just beautiful but we commented on how sad it was that it was tucked away behind the buildings, in a parking lot. I was surprised when I went right to it with my husband. I was shocked at the unkemptness of it. There was trash, cigarette butts, and even some defecation on the steps. We didn't linger because of that, but what a pity. I sincerely hope that how we saw it isn't its normal state...we were there the day after St. Patrick's Day.  For heaven's sake...this is a destination of pilgrimages since the 1300s and a place of baptisms and cures!

St. Mary's Well, Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland 2017

The Bottom Line

What it all boils down to is the parents and their belief that they aren't the parents but are their children's friends. They refuse to parent the children; they refuse to put their foot down and tell them they're going to church. Maybe they're just tired and need Sunday to rest. That is certainly what God wants us to do, but only after we've given Him the worship and praise that He deserves. In order to be a practicing Catholic, one of the precepts is that we attend Mass every Sunday and on Holy Days of Obligation. But that's the minimum

I'm guilty of allowing my children decide if they wanted to attend youth group after making their confirmation. If I had to do it over again, I would have insisted on it. There are so many things I would do differently if I knew then what I know now. I feel that they have a good base with their faith, but that's another blog post. Getting back to the expectations of today's youth: it all boils down to the lack of God in families. I've heard the Catholic media blasting public education. Being a public educator, it makes my blood boil to hear the criticism of public education and the encouragement of homeschooling. I work with some very strong Christians who demonstrate their faith in the schools by being caring and kind to all students. 

What I'm saying is this: Don't blame the education system. Don't blame the guns. Blame the fact that God is not a part of these people's lives. How wonderful would our society be if we did return to the understanding of what this nation was founded upon. We have to stop pointing fingers at each other because our beliefs are different. We have to ask God to "cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the earth seeking the ruins of souls". (From the Prayer to St. Michael) We have to come together to fight the evil that is trying so desperately to destroy not only our nation but our earth. Maybe, just maybe if we did that, we'd have a fighting chance.

FMF Writing Prompt: Danger

 
Five Minute Friday: Kate provides a word every Friday. The writer sets a timer for 5 minutes and writes whatever comes to mind.

DANGER

Just look around. Just watch the news. It's there. You understand what's happening, why can't others see it? The family is in danger. This is the evil one's last quest: to destroy the family. With every protest, with every shooting, with every lawmaker who goes against the law of God, it becomes clearer. The family is definitely in danger. 

In a letter to a Cardinal, Sister Lucia (one of the visionaries from Fatima, Portugal) confirmed that the devil's last "hoorah" will be on the family. But what's to protect the family? We have to bring God back into families. Parents must parent, and in doing so bring God back. Forget about the sports training, forget about the video games. Just PARENT. Parents need to take their kids back to church, and they need to go as well. They need to learn about their faith, whatever it may be. It doesn't matter if you are Jewish, Protestant, Catholic, Buddhist, Hindu, etc.

There is a real danger out there trying to destroy us and keep us from Christ. What will you do about it?

Stop back by on Monday for an expanded post on this subject!

Thankful Thursday Summer Break

 
Time for some gratitude! Head over to Knit By God's Hand to get a huge dose of thankfulness from other bloggers!

This week I'm thankful for:

  • Daily Mass. Seriously. I've been getting up around 5:30, doing my 30-minute walk, and then getting ready for Mass this week. Well, except for Tuesday because there's a noon Mass on Tuesdays and Thursdays so I can sleep in a little bit. Our priests give amazing homilies (kind of like sermons but shorter!) that feed me for the rest of the day. 

  • Surprise suppers with one of my sisters. One night my husband felt like eating a burger so we went to a local place where our youngest son took us on our anniversary. We walked in and one of my sisters was sitting down! She invited us to sit with her ladies' motorcycle group. We had a great time!
  • TV binging. I don't have time to binge during the school year, so I've taken advantage of not being motivated to do anything around the house to binge on Downton Abbey in preparation for the new movie. I've moved on to The Last Kingdom. I should include the internet here, also. It's interesting to google events or places in the show and see the real history. 

  • Garden vegetables. Well, not quite yet but they're coming! The squash that our youngest son planted has taken over the little garden beside our porch. There are some tomatoes on the vines and some squash as well...now we wait for them to ripen!

  • Early morning sightings of the ducks. The male was hanging around the fountain a couple of mornings. It's so sweet to see the couple together and to see how the male watches out for the female to protect her.


Summer breaks are the time for me to be able to slow down and really enjoy this life that God has given me!

Praying with Scripture: Romans

While reading the First Reading for Daily Mass one day, it occurred to me that Romans 12:9-16 would make a beautiful prayer. I read through it again, this time turning it into a prayer:

Lord, let my love be sincere and allow me to hate what is evil and hold on to what is good.
May I love others with mutual affection and anticipate others in showing honor.
Do not allow me to grow slack in zeal but to be fervent in spirit so as to serve You.
May I rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, and persevere in prayer. 
Remind me to contribute to the needs of the holy ones and to exercise hospitality.
May I bless and not curse those who persecute me, rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 
Help me to have the same regard for others and to not be haughty but associate with the lowly. 
Do not allow me to be wise in my own estimation. 
I ask this through Jesus Christ, my Lord, and Savior.

If you would like to print this prayer, click below and save and/or print to add to your prayer collection: