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Novena for a Rebirth of Chastity and Purity July 18 – 26, 2014

June 17, 2014

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Join the Marriage, Family and Life Office in praying a novena for chastity and purity in the world. We will begin this novena on Friday, July 18, 2014 in preparation for the USCCB’s NFP Awareness Week and complete the novena on the feast of Sts. Joachim and Anne.

The prayers for the day on each day of the novena will be posted here daily at CatholicHotdish.com and the complete novena may be found at archspm.org on the event’s page.

Mary, our Mother, perfect model of purity and chastity, pray for us.

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The Temperate Feast

May 13, 2014

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Celebrating the Easter Vigil at the Cathedral of St. Paul.

Celebrating the Easter Vigil at the Cathedral of St. Paul.

By Patrick Conley

During this past Lent, I was engaged in a host of disciplines, including abstinences (some old, some new), fasting, prayer, almsgiving, etc., and indeed these disciplines continue to reap spiritual benefit in my life…it was a good Lent, as it were.

That said, one of the most profound lessons I have learned from this year’s Lenten journey did not actually come from within the Holy Season of Lent itself, but rather from Easter. Clearly there is — and should be — a sharp contrast between the disciplined, penitential, fasting season of Lent and the celebratory, exuberant, feasting season of Easter. And therein lies the rub: while I’m becoming more practiced at fasting, I have discovered that I don’t know how to feast.

Sound peculiar? Feasting…you know, living it up, having fun, celebrating. You’d think it’d be easy. Who can’t do these things? Well, apparently, I can’t. Not, anyway, as it’s meant to be done under the auspices of faith.

Here’s what I mean: somehow I have made the great Feast of the Resurrection of Christ into a casting off of Lenten discipline to the extent that it has become a willful turn to the manifold vices of sensual overindulgence. Overeating. Overdrinking. Reengaging bad habits. Letting my thoughts and my gazes wander astray. In sum, Easter “feasting,” sadly, is little more than a holy excuse for unholy behavior. As an aside, I am now keenly aware of the depth of influence common, secular perceptions about the meaning of “having fun” have had on me!

Clearly, this is not what is intended in marking the stark contrast between Lent and Easter, between the Cross and the Empty Tomb. The death of Jesus occurred that I might be set free from my sinful overindulgence. He was raised that I make partake in new, divine, eternal life. What bitter irony that I then return him to the Cross by my actions—and how utterly shameful that I do it in the name of his Resurrection. Kyrie, eleison!

Upon reflection, what my feasting has been sorely lacking is virtue. The good things from which I abstained during Lent can, and indeed should, be embraced again when Easter arrives…but I need to embrace these things in the new freedom found in the Risen Christ: one wherein my lower appetites and passions submit to the higher faculty of virtuous reason.

More specifically, the appropriate Easter feast is one governed by the virtue of temperance: using those good things created for us, but using them appropriately—to indulge, but not to overindulge. The teeth of temperance is in knowing that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing—and living accordingly.

In the divine economy, the more we live a temperate Easter feast, the more we are liberated from our old ways of sin, and the more we are freed to revel in the joy and fulfillment of Easter.

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Pray, think and then speak

April 11, 2014

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By Kristen Soley

Fasting from unkind words is a fruitful opportunity that is borne of love. For many of us, this can be far more difficult than simply passing on that decadent chocolate dessert or seconds on our favorite entree.Pray think speak

Have you ever witnessed an exchange such as this: One child exclaims, “Oh look, the sky is clear and blue today!” Sibling responds, “No, there are some clouds, see? Hello!” Or, “I just finished this coloring page, look!” Sibling responds, “That character is blue, not red.”

A good rule of thumb is pray, think and then speak.

There are a plethora of reasonable responses to any situation or statement. Positive feedback and / or silence are oftentimes the most difficult.

Ephesians 4:29 has this wisdom, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear” (NASB).

We should employ this in all of our exchanges because it benefits everyone. If your spouse misspeaks on a trivial matter, pray, think and then speak. Don’t correct your spouse, especially in front of others. We all make mistakes. “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you” (Luke 6:31, NASB).

If your response doesn’t benefit the person or situation, help the person avoid sin, or build up the kingdom of God in some way, remain silent. When you take this approach, watch and enjoy the transformation in your home and relationships.

Mother Teresa encourages us to use words that “enlighten and inspire, bring peace, hope and joy; and to refrain from self-defense and every word that causes darkness, turmoil, pain and death.”

Fasting from unkind words is a powerful way to build up the kingdom of God. And we can achieve it if we simply pray, think and then speak.

Soley and her husband, Nate, live in a small town where they home-school their seven children, who range in age from 12 to 1. Before becoming a stay-at-home mom, she worked in information technology for a consulting firm in the Twin Cities. The family attends St. Mary parish in Waverly. Soley has a website, kristen.soleyfamily.com, and blogs at kristen-soley.blogspot.com.
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Share your Easter stories with The Catholic Spirit

March 14, 2014

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Being initiated into the Church this Easter season?Share your story with The Catholic Spirit

We’d like to hear what brought you to the Catholic faith.

What are your Easter traditions?

Share the special ways you observe Christ’s death and resurrection.

The Catholic Spirit would like to hear from you and possibly highlight your story in our Holy Week and Easter issue, April 10.

Please email the following information to Jessica Trygstad, assistant editor, at trygstadj@archspm.org:
  • a brief description of your story
  • name
  • parish
  • daytime phone number
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How the movie ‘Gravity’ is an allegory of the Christ story

February 27, 2014

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By Bob Busch

(Warning: spoilers ahead.)Scene from movie 'Gravity'

I highly recommend the movie “Gravity.” I found it to be a riveting space-survival story, and, whatever the filmmaker’s intent, also an allegory for the Christ story.

“Gravity” is set in low-earth orbit in the present day. The movie’s heroine, Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), is not a professional astronaut. She’s only aboard the space shuttle to deliver her research work, a new set of eyes so the Hubble Space Telescope can “scan to the edge of the universe.” Her colleague, Matt Kowalski (George Clooney), is a veteran astronaut on his last mission before retirement.

While Kowalski marvels at the beauty of the earth brimming with life below, Stone has turned her back to it. Her spirit died the day her young daughter died in a tragic accident, and she’s since buried herself in her work. Disasters ensue, and all but the two perish. And then Kowalski gives the supreme sacrifice so Stone might live. Stone is now alone and struggles to survive against insurmountable odds.

To me, “Gravity” is a movie masterpiece, both as a space story and as a spiritual metaphor for the Christ story. Kowalski represents Christ. Stone represents us, humanity. The voice from the Houston ground crew represents the voice of God. Contact appears lost when disaster strikes, and the astronauts’ pleas to “Houston from the blind” represent humanity’s pleas to an unseen and unheard God.

Kowalski’s sacrifice in the untethering scene represents Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Stone exclaims humanity’s cry: “But I had you!”

Abandoned and alone, literally and figuratively out of fuel, Stone despairs in the Upper Room of her marooned space capsule. She laments that no one will mourn for her, and she dismisses praying since she’s never prayed in her life. Bereft of hope, she chooses death by turning off the capsule’s oxygen.

Then the key scene: the miraculous visitation by Kowalski. He enters directly through the Upper Room capsule door. Is Kowalski a low-oxygen hallucination or a dream, or is this truly a resurrection visit from the divine? Whichever, the visit changes everything for Stone.

She’s now found the reason and purpose to go on. We see her Pentecost as she turns on the oxygen and breathes new life in the spirit. We see her re-entry from space, complete with tongues of fire as the space debris descends into the atmosphere. We’re witnessing the descent of the Holy Spirit onto man.

Whether she burns up in the next 10 minutes, or lives to tell the tale, she’s now fully embracing life’s every moment. She emerges from her water landing and her space-capsule womb, representing rebirth of body and soul. She crawls from the water onto the shore, representing man’s evolution to a new life in the spirit.

She clutches at the sand, uttering the simplest and most perfect prayer: “Thank you.” They are the movie’s final words. Finally, she marvels at life all around before walking off into the distance to begin her life anew, on this earth and life eternal.

As I look back at the movie, I ask what Stone was searching for in outer space. To me, she was searching for the key that would open the door, between heaven and earth, which stood between her and her beloved daughter. Her search for that key represents humanity’s search to be with God.

Nothing of this world proved to be the key that brought her to her daughter. Humanity’s greatest technologies failed and fell away. No solely human effort or idea or human being came to the rescue. The one and only key that opened the door was not of this world, but rather of the divine. It did not come from within Dr. Stone, but through a relationship with another. It was not earned through her efforts or intellect, but was freely given as a gift.

The one key that opened the door was Kowalski, symbolizing Christ. His sacrifice and resurrection was the key that allowed her to transcend the bonds of this world, to connect with her child. When she finally spoke to her daughter, she did not do so directly, but rather, through Kowalski: “Tell her I love her, and I’m not quitting.” Jesus is the intermediary who opens the door between heaven and earth.

Once the door opened, where did it lead? Not to a God residing somewhere “out there” in the heavens of outer space. As the movie’s opening credits state: “Life in space is impossible.” No, God is life, and life resides right here, at home. God is in the ground crew. Stone looked for the answer at the farthest edge of space. In the end, she found the answer was right here all along, in her own backyard.

And the rescuing voice that immediately called out to her, when her craft broke through the clouds, as she re-entered the land of the living? It was God’s voice in the Houston ground crew, calling out to her, amidst the other radio clutter symbolizing life’s daily distractions that keep us from hearing God’s call. Houston had appeared to her as an unresponsive dial tone when she had called, unseen and unheard. But Houston had been there all along, calling out to her, wanting to be with her. Only when she entered her new life in the spirit was she able to hear God’s ever-present call: “I’m here! I’m coming to rescue you!”

When Stone says “thank you” at the end, who is she thanking? An abstract God? A low-oxygen hallucination of her own making? I don’t think so. She’s thanking a very real God, made fully human and yet fully divine, through Kowalski (Christ). Jesus renamed Simon as “Peter,” meaning “the rock,” and like her namesake, Dr. Stone goes forth to the ends of the earth to share her new life in the Spirit.

The father-son team that created “Gravity” acknowledges many other spiritual paths throughout the film, from references to Buddhism to the Ganges River that is at the juncture of the Muslim and Hindu worlds. However, whatever the intent, to me, “Gravity” is a space movie that also serves as a beautiful metaphor for the Christ story.

Busch resides with his wife and three children in Minneapolis, where he raises money for new medicines development and doctor training at the University of Minnesota Health. The family attends the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis. He can be reached at robertbusch27@gmail.com.
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Crashed Ice construction

February 7, 2014

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The track is being constructed. Follow along with photos of the construction on The Catholic Spirit’s Facebook page. The Crashed Ice competition will take place February 22 at the Cathedral of St. Paul, National Shrine of the Apostle Paul.

 

Photo by Michael Pytleski / The Catholic Spirit

Photo by Michael Pytleski / The Catholic Spirit

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Matt Birk to sign copies of his new book at Saint Patrick’s Guild

January 28, 2014

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BirkBookCoverA little over a year after Matt Birk and the Baltimore Ravens emerged victorious in the Super Bowl, Matt will be back home in the Twin Cities signing copies of his new book All-Pro Wisdom.

Birk, a former player for the Minnesota Vikings and graduate of Cretin-Derham Hall in St. Paul is a committed Catholic and active in the pro-life, pro-marriage and religious freedom movements.

When: 10:30 – Noon, February 8

Where: St. Patrick’s Guild
154 Randolph Ave
St. Paul, MN 55105

 

Read more

Matt Birk: NFL great, faithful Catholic and . . . author

Super Bowl champ speaks to men about defending faith

Faith on fire – Archdiocesan Youth Day draws 1,600

Video and Photos: Minnesotans rally for religious freedom

Pro athletes thankful for life lessons learned in CAA

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9 days, 4 high tech ways to pray to end abortion

January 17, 2014

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9days-day1-color-ENGThis year, to mark the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the USCCB has made available four different ways to engage in a novena for life:

  • App for iPhone or Android
  • Daily text messages
  • Daily emails
  • Online novena page

To sign up for any or all of these, visit the 9daysforlife website.

The USCCB also has a People of Life Facebook page which includes a 9 Days for Life event page.

 

More about 9 Days for Life

9 Days for Life: Get your information here! Kathy Schneeman on what’s going on locally

A day to march for the unborn and a culture of life Archbishop Kurtz of Louisville, Ky on the pro-life efforts of the Church nationally

Nine days of prayer part of Roe v. Wade anniversary General information from Catholic News Service

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‘The Catechism of Hockey': not just for sports fans

December 10, 2013

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It doesn’t matter whether you have season tickets to the Minnesota Wild or don’t know what to call that black disc thingy on the ice rink. In her book “The Catechism of Hockey,” Alyssa Bormes will help you understand the complexities of the Catholic Church using hockey analogies.

Cat of Hockey CoverSkeptics, take heed. Bormes is the first to admit she knew very little about hockey before writing the book. (Her “technical adviser” is a friend’s son and bonafide hockey player.) But for me, who has only a fascination with hockey because of the fights, the parallels Bormes makes between the sport and my faith make complete sense. (Sports enthusiasts, please don’t dismiss my opinion just because I proclaim my sports apathy. Surely, between my Gopher hockey fan of a brother and my husband, who takes an interest in everything from football to curling, I know how important sports are.)

Bormes compares going to “the box” in hockey to going to the confessional. She suggests that we’re at our best in the confessional; our worst was when we were sinning. The redemption found in the confessional brings us back to playing at “full strength.”

She pushes us past the analogies and makes us question why we don’t put as much fervor into our faith as we do our beloved sports:

“In hockey, families will sacrifice physically, spiritually, and financially. . . . We rarely ask our children to physically and spiritually sacrifice when it comes to the Faith. This is exactly why offering it up has been relegated to a type of Catholic humor. Yet, suffering for the Faith doesn’t break the souls of our youth, it elevates them. There is a great satisfaction in having given everything — putting the heart into it. When our youth learn to serve, to really offer up, to be Christ to others, they experience a new sort of victory.”

web.Alyssa BormesBormes merges two worlds that are often separate, but shouldn’t be. People talk about the game after Mass, but do they ever talk about God during the game? The book has been lauded as an unconventional evangelizing tool. And rightly so. Her approach makes people ask themselves: What am I doing to live my faith, to share my faith?

What gives merit to the book is Bormes’ personal story of how she took a 17-year hiatus from the Church only to return with gusto — speaking about her faith publicly, studying in Rome, receiving a master’s degree in Catholic studies, leading retreats and teaching Catechism.

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Boy joins Pope Francis on stage, steals the show

November 1, 2013

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This story was all over the internet. Here are a couple of videos:

A child walks near Pope Francis as he addresses pilgrims in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Oct. 26. The pope addressed an estimated 100,000 people taking part in a Year of Faith celebration of family life. CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters

A child walks near Pope Francis as he addresses pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Oct. 26. The pope addressed an estimated 100,000 people taking part in a Year of Faith celebration of family life. CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters

 

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