Wednesday, October 31, 2012

THE VOTE - ELECTION PRAYER

ELECTION PRAYER

O St. Jude, please bring these election prayers to the throne of God:

I ask for the eyes to see others as sons and daughters of God. I ask for help in forming my conscience according to the Gospel so that I may both vote and act for the common good.

Give me the courage to stand up for the weakest members of society. The poor, the weak, the unborn. Give me the courage to re-examine my political loyalties and to be first a faithful follower of Jesus before I follow.

Remind me that my only true hope is in Jesus and that political power can never replace the the will of God and the mission of the Church.

For my own vote, help me to cast it in a way that is pleasing to the Lord. Help me to do it reverently and with a well formed conscience.

For these elections, Oh God, please bless us with the best leaders possible at all levels of government.

My vote is a small but important part of my Christian life. Help me to both vote and live by the Gospel putting my trust in Jesus alone.

Amen.

St. Jude, pray for me!

Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner! Amen.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Being Grateful

Focusing on gratefulness keeps us centered and helps ward off negativity.  Here are five little things we can do each day to nourish our sense of gratitude:

1.  Choose your friends wisely.

If you want to be more grateful, spend time with grateful people. Spend time with positive people to be more positive; joyful people to be more joyful.  If you strive to be spiritually strong, supportive, empowering, intelligent, energetic, and positive, seek those characteristics in others.

Help your friends develop more positive traits by living those positive traits yourself.  Know what kind of friends will help you nurture your soul, and set out to find some.

2.  Help your friends cultivate gratitude.

Before you say anything about a friend's situation, remember that everyone's situation is unique. I've seen it happen to myself and to my friends. They'll be perfectly happy until someone tells them they're being mistreated. Suddenly, they're upset.

Don't let your friends wield such power, and work to avoid wielding such power yourself.

Day by day, hour by hour, make a goal to avoid complaining about your life. Make a pact with your friends to cut the complaints from your conversations.

3.  Give the gift of gratitude to your children.
Help your children to be satisfied and grateful for simple, everyday things by giving thanks aloud.  Keep a Gratitude Journal in which, each day,  you record five or ten things for which you are grateful, and ask your children for contributions.  Give your children a journal of their own or keep a family Gratitude Journal.

4.  Say "Thank You."
Whom in your life do you appreciate?  Let them know, whether it's your mom, your kids, your friends, your husband, your child's daycare provider or the helpful woman behind the cosmetics counter.

Write thank you notes regularly - not just after a  gift exchange - and be mindful of all the ways you show your appreciation by the things you do in return.

Tell your kids how thankful you are for them. Jot a note to  each of your children in which you tell them how much you  love them, why you're thankful for them, and all the  ways they have enriched your life. This can be  something you give them now or after they have grown.

5.  Be mindful of the little things.
Today, strive to be aware of all the aspects of your personal, professional, and family life for which you are thankful.

Take a few minutes today to appreciate nature. Go for a walk and notice only those things that are beautiful. Whether you focus on the stars above, a distant mountain range, or the cottonwood tree in your backyard, try to notice the details. Give thanks for the beauty that surrounds us.

Regardless of whether you record these items, spend some time each day to focus on the little things in your life that make each day special.  Perhaps it's your child's toothless grin.  A warm home.  Delicious food enjoyed with family.

Together, let's work on focusing on what we have--not on what we don't have-- and all the ways we can help one another have more gratitude for the gift of life.

~Susie Michelle Cortright

Monday, October 29, 2012

THE CHILDREN'S BIBLE IN A NUTSHELL

The Children's Bible in a Nutshell

In the beginning, which occurred near the start, there was darkness, and some gas. The Bible says, 'The Lord thy God is one,' but I think He must be a lot older than that.

Anyway, God said, 'Give me a light!' and someone did.
Then God made the world.

He split the Adam and made Eve. Adam and Eve were naked, but they weren't embarrassed because mirrors hadn't been invented yet.

Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating one bad apple, so they were driven from the Garden of Eden.....Not sure what they were driven in though, because they didn't have cars.

Adam and Eve had a son, Cain, who hated his brother as long as he was Abel.

Pretty soon all of the early people died off, except for Methuselah, who lived to be like a million or something.

One of the next important people was Noah, who was a good guy, but one of his kids was kind of a Ham. Noah built a large boat and put his family and some animals on it. He asked some other people to join him, but they said they would have to take a rain check.

After Noah came Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jacob was more famous than his brother, Esau, because Esau sold Jacob his birthmark in exchange for some pot roast. Jacob had a son named Joseph who wore a really loud sports coat.

Another important Bible guy is Moses, whose real name was Charlton Heston. Moses led the Israel Lights out of Egypt and away from the evil Pharaoh after God sent ten plagues on Pharaoh's people. These plagues included frogs, mice, lice,bowels, and no cable.

God fed the Israel Lights every day with manicotti. Then he gave them His Top Ten Commandments. These include: don't lie, cheat, smoke, dance, or covet your neighbor's stuff.

Oh, yeah, I just thought of one more: Humor thy father and thy mother.

One of Moses' best helpers was Joshua who was the first Bible guy to use spies. Joshua fought the battle of Geritol and the fence fell over on the town.

After Joshua came David.. He got to be king by killing a giant with a slingshot. He had a son named Solomon who had about 300 wives and 500 porcupines. My teacher says he was wise, but that doesn't sound very wise to me.

After Solomon there were a bunch of major league prophets. One of these was Jonah, who was swallowed by a big whale and then barfed up on the shore.

There were also some minor league prophets, but I guess we don't have to worry about them.

After the Old Testament came the New Testament. Jesus is the star of The New Testament. He was born in Bethlehem in a barn.(I wish I had been born in a barn too, because my mom is always saying to me, 'Close the door! Were you born in a barn?' It would be nice to say, 'As a matter of fact, I was.')

During His life, Jesus had many arguments with sinners like the Pharisees and the Republicans.

Jesus also had twelve opossums. The worst one was Judas Asparagus. Judas was so evil that they named a terrible vegetable after him.

Jesus was a great man. He healed many leopards and even preached to some Germans on the Mount.

But the Republicans and all those guys put Jesus on trial before Pontius the Pilot. Pilot didn't stick up for Jesus. He just washed his hands instead.

Anyways, Jesus died for our sins, then came back to life again. He went up to Heaven but will be back at the end of the Aluminium. His return is foretold in the book of Revolution.

Why must we evangelize? Because Hell is real, and many people go there...

Friday, October 26, 2012

Billy Graham on Life, Marriage, and Freedom

Billy Graham on Life, Marriage, and Freedom


Billy Graham led a national evangelical ministry through the era of the Religious Right without ever becoming a part of it. Like his contemporary Chuck Colson, Graham’s ministry was never primarily political, focusing instead on spiritual and cultural teaching and boots-on-the-ground service to those in need. Of course, the strength of Graham’s conviction coupled with his widespread influence inevitably resulted in political fallout, yet his priorities were clear: Jesus first.

Now in his nineties, Graham’s influence takes on a different nature. Limited by age and health and the need for rest, he speaks rarely. So, on those infrequent occasions when Graham is compelled to teach, his students strain to listen.

Recently, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association took out the following ad in the Wall Street Journal. In just a few words, Graham reorients the Christian moral compass, with true north pointing towards life, marriage, and religious freedom.

Image from the Wall Street Journal

Graham will be criticized for this ad. Critics will say he has sacrificed his witness to the Gospel by making a blatantly political statement in the weeks prior to a presidential election. They will wonder why he hasn’t made similar statements about their issue. These detractors are wrong. Sometimes the Truth has political ramifications and a Christian social ethic prioritizes some issues over others. As Election Day draws near, Graham has provided a reminder of what is at stake and how Christians should act.

*Note: To date, Billy Graham has not signed the Manhattan Declaration. I don’t know the backstory or even if he was invited. Given the outreach that was made to Christian leaders, I assume he was and declined. (Many express agreement with the Declaration but choose not to sign, for a variety of reasons.)

10 Reasons Why Obama’s Next 4 Years Would Be Worse Than the Past 4 Years


Blog Latest Post

10 Reasons Why Obama’s Next 4 Years Would Be Worse Than the Past 4 Years

It’s exactly two weeks until America decides whether to give Barack Obama four more years or to elect a new president, Mitt Romney.

The presidential debates have concluded. Early voting has already begun in many states. America is deciding right now who will be the next President.

The latest poll shows a slim majority of Catholics now support Mitt Romney (49%-47%). Four years ago around this time I wrote blog post after blog post predicting what would happen if we elected Barack Obama over John McCain. I believe my predictions have largely come true.

Now I’d like to give 10 reasons why we should be afraid of what a second Obama term would mean for the issues Catholics care most about (he has helpfully mapped out some of what he plans to do — more of the same, but worse — if given four more years).

Reading these reasons should motivate us a) if we are in a swing state, to vote, to volunteer and to work to convince our friends, family and neighbors to do the same and b) if we are not in a swing state, to still vote and to contact our friends and family in swing states to do the same.

The 10 Reasons:

1) Barack Obama has been the most pro-abortion president in history. He has not signed a single piece of pro-life legislation since taking office. If given four more years, he will continue to veto pro-life legislation and nominate pro-abortion supreme court justices and judges.

2) Barack Obama now supports same-sex marriage, despite promising in 2008 that he supported traditional marriage. Many of his top donors are radical pro-gay marriage activists. If given a second term, Obama will continue to unilaterally stop defending laws protecting marriage (like DOMA), will actively aid efforts to repeal laws protecting marriage at the state level (he has already opposed every effort to protect marriage at the state level since taking office) and will nominate supreme court justices and judges who are in favor of redefining marriage.

3) Barack Obama is an enemy of religious freedom.
The view put forward by his administration in the courts (and all the way up to the Supreme Court) is that religious freedom is a purely private matter that has no right to exist in the public square. The HHS mandate forces religious individuals and institutions to violate their conscience. If given four more years, President Obama will oversee the implementation of the full set of Obamacare’s mandates, and we will witness even more violations of religious freedom and conscience.

4) Barack Obama’s foreign policy has supported taxpayer-funded abortions abroad, has done nothing to address China’s heinous one-child policy, has promoted LGBT rights abroad and has undermined religious liberty –particularly the religious liberty of Christians– around the world and in the Middle East. The U.S. delegation at the United Nations will be emboldened to impose the Obama administration’s position on abortion, religious freedom, and same-sex marriage on developing countries around the world.

5) Barack Obama is an enemy of the Catholic Church. Even beyond Obama’s flawed view of the First Amendment, the President has intentionally surrounded himself with Catholics who proudly tout their dissent from the Church’s teaching. He has employed truly anti-Catholic figures in his administration and has personally been disingenuous in his dealings with the Catholic Church and Cardinal Dolan. If he wins four more years he will attribute part of that victory to taking on the Catholic Church and (in his mind) beating it. He will search out other ways to oppose it.

6) Barack Obama is an unflinching ally of Planned Parenthood. In addition to personally seeing to it that Planned Parenthood is funded with federal money whenever states have attempted to defund its millions of dollars in subsidies, Obamacare and other federal programs he has championed will collaborate with Planned Parenthood towards an ultimate goal of making America’s largest abortion provider synonymous with “women’s healthcare.” If Obama wins reelection he will attribute it in part to Planned Parenthood and massively expand its already significant influence and political footprint.

7) Barack Obama’s policies disproportionately hurt the underprivileged. Despite all the talk this cycle about the middle class and small businesses, the reality is that over the past four years America has witnessed a surge in poverty and unemployment, which has disproportionately affected the underprivileged. If Obama could do anything to fix this situation he would have already done so, instead he has massively expanded dysfunctional welfare programs which are not a solution to America’s poverty crisis, and has demonized Catholic and religious charities that do more on the ground to serve these communities. Four more years will only add to the hurt they are experiencing.

8 ) Barack Obama’s policies are impoverishing all Americans and reducing all of our prospects. The President has shown himself incapable of reigning in spendings and reducing our deficits. The trickle-down effect of this massive government waste is less opportunity and fewer resources for the private sector to invest and grow. Americans are already adapting to this “new normal” and four more years will further entrench this growing sense that our best days are behind us. This is not the legacy our children and grandchildren deserve, and it is not why our parents and grandparents came to this land. We can do better and the President has shown that he does not know how to accomplish this.

9) Barack Obama’s rhetoric is aimed to divide and foster animosity. Remember “Occupy Wall Street” and how the President never condemned its excesses? Have you noticed that the centerpiece of Obama’s plan to tackle our debt and deficit is to soak the rich with more taxes and to promote envy among the rest of us? Have you noticed how Obama’s reelection campaign has focused almost exclusively on painting Mitt Romney in as negative a light as possible? All of these decisions are deeply, deeply harmful to our public discourse and to our democratic compact. They are UnAmerican. If Obama wins reelection this way it will teach the dangerous lesson to future politicians that divide and conquer is the path to victory and power.

10) Obama will no longer care about being reelected. Obama has tempered his goals in his first term because he desperately wants to be reelected. If given four more years without having to be accountable to the American people, we can only imagine what’s in store for us. Obama clearly thinks a great deal about himself and wants to create a legacy for himself. He clearly believes he knows better than everyone else. He will also have his sense of inevitability restored if America gives him a second shot after having a close call in this election. Obama, like a good liberal, believes that some things are inevitable, including same-sex marriage, state-subsidized abortions, reduced religious freedom, a privatized and atomistic faith community, the rise of centralized government, a post-American world and forced equality — and he will see it as his confirmed mission to hasten the coming of these things if he is given four more years to deliver his version of hope and his idea of change like he promised four years ago.

He will try to do all these things, I promise. That’s why we can’t afford four more years worse than the four we’ve just had.

That’s why we have to vote and break out of our comfort zone to convince as many others as we can to vote to prevent this future from becoming reality.

We have two weeks. We all have a responsibility to do our part.

You can start by sharing this post with your friends and family my email, facebook and twitter.

God bless us. With His help, we will shape our future for the better!

Obtained from The Catholic Vote

MEDJUGORJE - HOLY MOTHER'S MESSAGE TO MARIJA

Today, October 25, 2012, Our Lady appeared to the visionary Marija and delivered the following message for the world: 
 "Dear children! Today I call you to pray for my intentions. Renew fasting and prayer because Satan is cunning and attracts many hearts to sin and perdition. I call you, little children, to holiness and to live in grace. Adore my Son so that He may fill you with His peace and love for which you yearn. Thank you for having responded to my call."

Blessed be,

Abbey  

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

MESSAGE FROM THE BLESSED MOTHER TOMORROW

Tomorrow is the 25th so don't forget to come by and see our Heavenly Mother's message to the world. I absolutely delight in reading them and try my best to follow her urgings.  I have been reading my Bible more and I am seeing things in Isaiah that God professed and it ties in dramatically with the precarious positions of all of the nations in the Middle East.  People have to listen, they have to turn their face to Jesus and ask forgiveness with deep sincerity and follow Him from now until they die.  I am so happy in the Lord.  I prayed and cried and then sang hymns of praise to Him ending it up by throw my arms up wide and shouting "oh I feel so good, I am so happy, so so happy! Praise God and His Holy Name!"

What about you?  Any experiences toward conversion?  It's not idle talk, you know.  The oldest book in this world is THE BIBLE and it is our guide to our salvation.  You'd be amazed at some of the things you will read. It will lift you, it will cause you to call someone and mend fences, it will bring more love out of your heart than you knew was there!

Ladies and Gentlemen, you have nothing to lose by turning your hearts around, and you have EVERYTHING, here and in the hereafter to gain.  PLEASE, PLEASE, turn your hearts to the heavens and read your Bible every day.

My lecture for today has ended.  Peace be with you; my peace I give you,
Abbey

Priests' group creates Catholic voter guide mobile app

A screenshot of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy's voting app.

.- The Confraternity of Catholic Clergy has released a non-partisan voting guide for Catholics in the form of a free mobile device app.

“With Election Day soon approaching, it is imperative that the lay faithful take their right to vote seriously,” Fr. John Trigilio, Jr., president of the San Diego-based fraternity, said Oct. 4.

“This Voting Guide is totally non-partisan. It neither favors nor disavows any political party or candidate. What it does is present gospel values and moral principles of the natural moral law to enable the Catholic voter to evaluate any candidate, issue or pending legislation.”

The Catholic Voting Guide app, developed by the Indiana company Little i Apps, is available at no cost for iPhone, iPad, Android and Windows smart phones and tablets.

The guide specifically focuses on six issues: right to life, religious liberty, sanctity of marriage, private property, access to necessary goods and war.

“The right to life and religious liberty are the two most sacred inalienable rights human beings possess from their Creator and no state or federal government can take it away,” Fr. Trigilio said. “Voters must take into consideration politicians’ positions on life and liberty and not just presume their own personal stand is sufficient.”

The app includes a reflection on Catholic duties in the voting booth. It draws on the 2011 U.S. bishops’ conference letter “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” and a 2004 letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith written by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger before his election as Pope Benedict XVI.

A Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who supports intrinsic evils if the voter intends to support those acts, the app says. Likewise, a conscientious voter may vote for candidates less likely to advance morally flawed positions or to advance other societal goods only when all candidates hold a position in favor of an intrinsic evil.

Fr. Trigilio said the confraternity hopes that Catholics will use the app for every election and will use it to keep current on pending legislation which “could impact our most cherished values.”

The Confraternity of Catholic Clergy has over 500 U.S. priests and deacons as members, with fellow confraternities in Australia and the U.K.

Catholic News Organization

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

THIS DAY'S THOUGHT & VERSE


    
    
This Day's Thought


 
Not long after September 11, I was on a panel with Elie Wiesel.  He asked us to name the unhappiest character in the Bible.  Some said Job, because of the trials he endured.  Some said Moses, because he was denied entry into the Promised Land.  Some said Mary, because she witnessed the crucifixion of her son.  Wiesel said he believed the right answer was God, because of the pain he must surely feel in seeing us fight, kill, and abuse each other in the Lord's name.

Madeleine Albright
This Day's Verse
 
I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry.  He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.  He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.  Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.
 
Psalm 40:1-3
The English Standard Version

Saturday, October 20, 2012

ARE CATHOLICS CHRISTIANS?

This is a rather long piece; however, I urge you to read all of it.  The Catholic Church was the FIRST church. I also searched for a line of other churches that stemmed from The Church.  You won't be disappointed.  This is REAL APOLOGETICS!

Blessed be,
Abbey




I have an Evangelical friend who asked me:

"what is the difference between Catholics and Christians?"


I had to scratch my head for a few moments because it never occurred to me that some people didn't think Catholics are Christian. I think it is good that Evangelicals and Catholics have lively discussions on the interpretation of Scripture. Evangelicals do that with each other all the time. That's why there are so many different denominations. However, I have a big problem with any organization that says "Catholics are not Christians," because they are ignoring the history of Christianity. The name Christian predates all Protestant and Evangelical Churches by over a millennium. Many Evangelicals who think that Catholics are not Christian may be surprised to learn they accept the authority of several Catholic councils every time they pick up their Bible. The Bible didn't fall out of the sky, spiral bound with an NIV sticker on it. It has a rich Catholic history.

Any time spent studying the Church Fathers will make it abundantly clear that early Christian beliefs were Catholic. Their complete unity over the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is only one example.

Why do you call yourselves Catholic, and not simply Christian?

I got an email that said:

"I am wondering if you are truly Christian then why do you call yourselves Catholic? Believers were called Christian in Acts 11 & no other denomination or religion."

I could ask the same question, "why do Baptists, Pentecostals, United, Methodist, or even nondenominational communities use those words and not simply say Christian?" The word Catholic was used by the year 110 A.D. to distinguish the Church of the Apostles from heretical teachings. St. Ignatius of Antioch, was a disciple of St. John, along with St. Polycarp. The Church historian Theodoret says Ignatius was consecrated bishop by St. Peter, the apostle, who was the first bishop of Antioch before returning to Rome.

Ignatius was martyred in Rome under Emperor Trajan's rule. It was during the journey to Rome that he wrote his famous letters that contain invaluable information about the early Church. He was the first to document the term "Catholic" in its current form to describe the Church. It means "universal". Ignatius' use of the word shows it was in common use. His is the earliest extant writing which has "ekklesia katholicos" where Catholic is an adjective modifying "Church" in the nominative. In Acts 5:11 and 15:22 we find "holen ten ekklesian." It is derivative of the same root as katholicos and is in the nominative and is translated as "The Whole Church" and then in Acts 9:21 we find εκκλησια καθ'ολης (ekklesia kathholes) and here Catholic is also an adjective, but it does not modify "Church" because it is in the wrong case . In this case it modifies the words following it. Best translated as "the Church throughout the whole of..."

Catholic, referring to the Whole Church was a term in common use at the time but Ignatius' writing is simply the oldest still existing text which contains a specific form of the phrase we still use today as a proper name. That of "ekklesia katholicos," which means "Universal Church". The terms "holen ten ekklesian" which means "The Whole Church" and "ekklesia kathholes" which means "The Church throughout the whole of" were also in use, and by the Apostles no less.
The Catholic Church defined the "Trinity" and fought the heresy of "Arianism"

In 325 A.D., the Catholic Church discerned the Holy Spirit's voice for the doctrine of the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Ghost, three person's in one). Yup, "Trinity" is a Catholic doctrine that predates the Evangelical community by 1200 years. That word isn't even in the Bible. The Catholic Church protected Christianity from the Arian heresy that almost gutted Christianity in the 4th century when many began to believe Jesus wasn't "fully God" and "fully human."

The Catholic Church protected the Bible

The Catholic Church protected the Bible across the ages until the Gutenberg press was invented. Century after century, Monks in Monasteries faithfully copied Scripture. It would take each monk ten years to copy one Bible and thousands of faithful Catholics dedicated their lives to this work. Catholics protected the Bible over the centuries of wars, famines, plaques, the fall of Rome, fires, and threats from all sides. This was long before any other denomination existed.

The Catholic Church chose which books to include in the Bible

In the Synod's of Hippo (393 AD) and confirmed it at Carthage (397 AD). The non-Catholic Bible scholar Peter Flint, who won "best popular book" from the Biblical Archeology Society for his translation of the Dead Sea Scrolls, tells us that there was no Bible until 397's when the Catholic Church decided on what books belong there. Before that there were hundreds of letters and the Septuagint. He said:

"Without the Catholic Church you have no Bible!"
(Peter Flint - Protestant translator of the Dead Sea Scrolls)

The history of the decisions for books to include in the Bible is here.

Even the word Bible is not in the Bible. It was coined by Catholics. It means books from the Greek word βυβλος-byblos meaning "papyrus", from the ancient Phoenician city of Byblos which exported papyrus, the "paper" of the day. We love the Bible. Honest!

Do Evangelicals have a direct connection to the early Church independent of Catholicism?

The modern Evangelical movement is a result of numerous splits that occured after the Reformation, in the 1500's. The only other Churches not to be in union with Rome before that are the Orthodox Church which split off in 1054 A.D., and Coptic Church (431 A.D.). There were also various heresies that came and went, such as Arianism that said Jesus was not fully human AND fully God.

Some Evangelicals claim they have a direct connection to the early Church of the first centuries that bypasses Catholicism. If that is so, I would think the beliefs of modern Evangelicals would reflect the beliefs of the early Church. However, any time spent studying the Church Fathers will make it abundantly clear that early Christian beliefs were Catholic. The Church Fathers believed in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, honoured Mary, had elaborate ceremonies, prayed for the dead, respected the Church hierarchy, baptized babies, apointed bishops, recognized Peter as the Rock, built the Church upon him with successors and followed a rich tradition of Christianity. That was the Christianity of the early days, and is the Catholic Church of today. A timeline of the Catholic Church from 1-500 A.D. is here. Beginning with the apostles, century after century, Catholics died so that Christ's message would reach the nations. Yes, we are Christians, the originals.

Whether or not someone agrees with Catholic doctrine is their prerogative. But all who look at history will admit that Catholics are clearly Christian. "No one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit" (1 Cor 12:3)

Jesus has called Christians to unity "that they may all be one, as you Father, are in me and I am in you." (Jn 17:21) I hope we can love one another as He has loved us. (Jn 13:34).

Jesus Christ is Lord of all. If you have never made a personal decision for Christ, I beg you to do so now. It was the best thing I ever did. Here is an article that shows you how to do that.

In the early Church, in the Bible, wasn't it called "the way?"

Mark Bonocore answers: The early Church was called BOTH "Orthodox" and "Catholic." St. Ignatius of Antioch, a disciple of the Apostles, calls the Church by both these names as early as A.D. 107. The term "the Way" was used by Jewish Christians to describe the Christian Faith of the New Covenant to non-Christian Jews. From the Jewish Christian point of view (and indeed from the point of view of both the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church today) the Church of Jesus Christ is not something separate from Israel, but is the true Israel --the true manifestation of the Chosen People (see Gal 6:16, 1 Peter 2:9-10, etc.). This is why the Eastern Church is correct to refer to the saints of the Old Testament as "St. Abraham" and "St. Moses," etc. For, we are not a replacement for Israel of old, but an unbroken continuation of Israel under the promised King and Messiah of Israel, and His Church is His Kingdom of Israel, expanded to include all the Gentile peoples of the earth. And so, in Acts of the Apostles, when you have Jewish Christians addressing their fellow Jews who are not yet full Christians, you will see them refer to it as "the Way" --that is, the true manifestation of Israel --the "sect" that truly represents Israel, as opposed to the other Jewish sects (the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, Zealots, etc.) who did not recognize the true King of Israel, Who is the only "Way" --the "Way, the Truth, and the Life." But, when Gentile Christians spoke of the Church, they stressed its truth and its universality; and this is why and how the terms "Orthodox" and "Catholic" were applied to the Church. And those two terms exist today.

For those who are struggling with the Catholic Church, I suggest this simple prayer:

"Lord Jesus, I love you and I surrender my life to your Holy will. Would you mind sharing with me your heart about Catholicism? Steer me to sources that can answer my questions the way that you would have it. But most of all touch my heart and share with me your feelings about the Catholic Church."


I pray you'll find where God wants you to be, and I'm confident that your simple prayer, something like the above will lead you there. Let me know how it turns out. I'm confident that He will steer you to the Church that has been with us since the apostles, and that ministries that come and go with fervent, magnetic and dynamic personalities will lose the sparkle, and will appear lack lustre in the simple ageless experience of Jesus in the Eucharist.

SAINT PAUL OF THE CROSS


St. Paul of the Cross

St. Paul of the Cross
St. Paul of the Cross

St. Paul of the Cross was born at Ovada in the Republic of Genoa, January 3, 1694. His infancy and youth were spent in great innocence and piety. He was inspired from on high to found a congregation; in an ecstacy he beheld the habit which he and his companions were to wear. After consulting his director, Bishop Gastinara of Alexandria in Piedmont, he reached the conclusion that God wished him to establish a congregation in honor of the Passion of Jesus Christ. On November 22, 1720, the bishop vested him with the habit that had been shown to him in a vision, the same that the Passionists wear at the present time. From that moment the saint applied himself to repair the Rules of his institute; and in 1721 he went to Rome to obtain the approbation of the Holy See. At first he failed, but finally succeeded when Benedict XIV approved the Rules in 1741 and 1746. Meanwhile St. Paul built his first monastery near Obitello. Sometime later he established a larger community at the Church of St. John and Paul in Rome. For fifty years St. Paul remained the indefatigable missionary of Italy. God lavished upon him the greatest gifts in the supernatural order, but he treated himself with the greatest rigor, and believed that he was a useless servant and a great sinner. His saintly death occurred at Rome in the year 1775, at the age of eighty-one. He was canonized by Pope Pius IX in 1867. His feast day is October 20.

from Wikipedia

Paul of the Cross
(3 January 1694 – 18 October 1775) was an Italian mystic, and founder of the Passionists.

Biography

Saint Paul of the Cross, originally named Paolo Francesco Danei, was born on 3 January 1694, in the town of Ovada, Piedmont, between Turin and Genoa in the Duchy of Savoy in northern Italy.
Paul, a son of a wealthy merchant family experienced a conversion to a life of prayer at the age of 19, after a very normal and pious life. His early reading of the "Treatise on the Love of God" by Saint Francis de Sales and the direction he received from priests of the Capuchin Order taught him the primacy of love and at the same time the need to go beyond our own images of God. It became St Paul's lifelong conviction that God is most easily found by us in the Passion of Jesus Christ. He saw the Passion of Christ as being the most overwhelming sign of God's love and at the same time the door to union with him. His life was devoted to bringing this message to all and founding a community whose members would do the same.

"I am Paul of the Cross in whom Jesus has been crucified"
-St. Paul of the Cross[2]
When he was 26 years old, St Paul of the Cross had a series of prayer-experiences which made it clear to him that God was inviting him to form a community who would live an evangelical life and promote the love of God revealed in the Passion of Jesus. In a vision, he saw himself clothed in the habit he and his companions would wear: a long, black tunic on the front of which was a heart surmounted by a white cross, and in the heart was written "the Passion of Jesus Christ". On seeing it, he heard these words spoken to him: "This is to show how pure the heart must be that bears the holy name of Jesus graven upon it". The first name Paul received for his community was "the Poor of Jesus"; later they came to be known as the Congregation of the Passion of Jesus Christ, or the Passionists.

Portrait of St. Paul of the Cross

With the encouragement of his bishop, who clothed him in the black habit of a hermit, Paul wrote the rule of his new community (of which he was, as yet, the only member) during a retreat of forty days at the end of 1720. The community was to live a penitential life, in solitude and poverty, teaching people in the easiest possible way how to meditate on the Passion of Jesus.

His first companion was his own brother, John Baptist, who was ordained to the priesthood with Paul by Pope Benedict XIII on 7 June 1727, in St. Peter's Basilica, Rome. After ordination they devoted themselves to preaching missions in parishes, particularly in remote country places where there were not a sufficient number of priests pastorally involved. Their preaching apostolate and the retreats they gave in seminaries and religious houses brought their mission to the attention of others and gradually the community began to grow.

The austerity of life practised by the first Passionists did not encourage large numbers, but Paul preferred a slow, at times painful, growth to something more spectacular. His main aim in the community was, as he said himself, to form "a man totally God-centred, totally apostolic, a man of prayer, detached from the world, from things, from himself so that he may in all truth be called a disciple of Jesus Christ."


Monastery of the Presentation in Monte Argentario, Tuscany.
The first Retreat (the name Passionists traditionally gave to their monasteries) was opened in 1737 on Monte Argentario (Province of Grosseto); the community now had nine members. Paul called his monasteries "retreats" to underline the life of solitude and contemplation which he believed was necessary for someone who wished to preach the message of the Cross. In addition to the communal celebration of the divine office, members of his community were to devote at least three hours to contemplative prayer each day.


During his lifetime, Paul of the Cross was best known as a popular preacher and a spiritual director. More than two thousand of his letters, most of them letters of spiritual direction, have been preserved.
He died on 18 October 1775, at the Retreat of Saints John and Paul (SS. Giovanni e Paolo). By the time of his death, the congregation founded by Saint Paul of the Cross had one hundred and eighty fathers and brothers, living in twelve Retreats, mostly in the Papal States. There was also a monastery of contemplative sisters in Corneto (today known as Tarquinia), founded by Paul a few years before his death to promote the memory of the Passion of Jesus by their life of prayer and penance.

Saint Paul of the Cross was beatified on 1 October 1852, and canonized on 29 June 1867 by Blessed Pius IX. Two years later, his feast day was inserted in the Roman calendar, for celebration on 28 April as a Double. In 1962 it was reclassified as a Third-Class feast,[3] and in 1969 it became an optional Memorial and was placed on 19 October, the day after the day of his death, 18 October, which is the feast of Saint Luke the Evangelist.[1]

An excerpt from a letter from Saint Paul of the Cross

It is an excellent and holy practice to call to mind and meditate on our Lord's Passion, since it is by this path that we shall arrive at union with God. In this, the holiest of all schools, true wisdom is learned, for it was there that all the saints became wise. Taken from a letter written by St. Paul of the Cross

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Lesson From God

Every experience God gives us, every person he puts in our lives, is the perfect preparation for the future that only he can see.
Corrie Ten Boom
~*~
There are no coincidences, nor fate.  God plans each of our lives in advance for the day. He is already working on our tomorrow's, so today is behind him.  If someone you have not seen in a while runs into you somewhere, God put them there.  Yes, even vehicle accidents, God chose you to have this experience for a reason.  All in all, how we deal with our lives, moment to moment, every day, gives God a gauge of what kind of Christian we are.  Are we true to His word.  Do we pray every day in the quiet and alone?  Do we offer assistance and not brag to others about what we have done?  This is part of being pious.  The only person you need to think about is God.  There are many, many books of life in heaven.  They must reach millions of miles, but his angels put entries into our book of what we have done, how we have sinned, the good and the bad.  On judgment day, God will have our book of life before him and that is where we will be judged.  But, our God is loving and merciful.  Praying for forgiveness every day is imperative, for we all commit sin every day in some way, even sins of which we are unaware, so that is why you need to pray every day for God's forgiveness and that of Jesus Christ.

Have you ever felt a presence, perhaps a hand on your shoulder, guiding you where you are going?  "Be still and listen, and know that I am God."  One of the greatest Psalms that is a tool for you and I every day of our lives.  I have not yet "heard" him talking to me, as many people have, but I am waiting patiently for His voice.  I do get "feelings" in my gut as to decisions and such, and I believe these are from God.  God gave me keen instincts, and I follow them.  I have never failed in following my gut or my instincts.

Open your hearts today! Accept Him, accept Jesus Christ, accept the Holy Spirit to fill you with His love! Read your Bible every day before you pray.  Everyone can find 30 minutes that they waste watching reality t.v. or sports or anything else.  Instead, give 30 minutes out of your 24/7 to Him every day.  The voice of experience is telling you that you will never be sorry.

I have never lived such a happy existence as since I was brought to conversion.  I find myself talking about Him everywhere I go.  I love telling the good news to everyone!  And I walk around my day and a thought that needs prayer pops into my head and I immediately say a prayer.  Some days, it seems I'm praying all day.

Thank Him for your challenges, for He allowed them to happen to make a change in your life, or to make you a stronger person.

God bless and keep you in the palm of His hand!
Abbey

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Pope Benedict on Christian Unity

Christian unity is very, very important. It was important to Jesus himself, who prayed at the Last Supper that Christians would be united--so we ignore his wish at our peril!
Unfortunately, over the centuries, Christian unity has been broken by heresy and schism.
Now Pope Benedict, in the footsteps of recent popes, is working to restore Christian unity.
The effort to restore full unity among the different groups of Christians in the world is known as "ecumenism." There has been a great deal of work done toward this goal in recent years. Some of it has been good; some of it has been bad.
Pope Benedict gave a speech in which he explained his thoughts on ecumenism.
Let us learn from his wisdom by putting his remarks in a Q & A or "interview" format.
Here's what we'll learn:
1.     Why Pope Benedict thinks ecumenism is important.
2.     How it relates to the "Year of Faith" he called for in 2012-2013.
3.     The dangers we must avoid in ecumenism.
4.     Why the issue of authority, including the Magisterium, is so important in ecumenism.
5.     Whether we should shy away from controversial issues.
6.     What to make of ecumenical documents that haven't been approved by Rome.
7.     How the global assault on Christian morality affects ecumenism.
 
When you're done reading what Pope Benedict wants us to know about ecumenism, be sure to use the share icons at the bottom of the "interview" to let your friends know! (As always with the Secret Information Club, whisper as loudly as possible!)
 
Your pal,
 
Jimmy Akin
Secret Info Club Poobah

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Apostles of Our Lady of Kibeho


My dear friends,

Maybe you have come to my retreats before, and I am always grateful for your beautiful comments you give. I am hosting a weekend retreat next month, November 9-10th in Ohio and New Orleans on November 16-17th, but you may or may not already know that my special guest is going to be one of the visionaries from Kibeho! These are retreats are an answer to many people’s requests whohave asked me to spend more time with me, to speak more about Forgiveness of self and others, about Faith, about Our Lady of Kibeho, and to share our own stories, and pray together.

To see and meet Valentine in person is a remarkable opportunity for all of us. Valentine’s story is very interested in so many ways. She is the only one of the seven who is still receiving annual messages every May 15th, publicly. She started to have apparitions of Our Lady on May 15, 1982 when she was only 9 years old. Soon after, she started to have an apparition of Jesus that stopped in public, on March 20, 1993. I was there with hundreds of other students from college, and we were among over 20 thousand people. That apparition took place after Valentine fasted for 12 days without eating and drinking. It was a sad day for all of us who saw her saying goodbye to Jesus in tears, begging Our Lord to take her with Him. Happily though, Our Lady still appears to Her; she told her long before that she would be the last to receive messages from Heaven, and she still has an apparition to this day on May 15th of each year. It lasts about 4 hours, and it occurs in her native language, Kinyarwanda, even though she lives now in Belgium.

When she first moved to Belgium, a number of miracles happened during the apparitions right in her own home. Since then the Catholic Church in Belgium has graciously opened their doors for her to have apparitions there. During one apparition, one miracle that happened right in front of the parish priest occurred when Mary told Valentine that “She is never separated from Her Son, Our Lord,” and then Valentine saw Our Lord coming from behind Our Lady, and she screamed tears of joy how she missed Him, and then He told her that “He wanted to show her His true presence in the Eucharist and to prove she is truly having apparitions of His Mother, and that He truly has appeared to Kibeho even though they have not approved His apparitions.” Jesus then descended in the hands of Valentine into a form of Eucharist that was seen by everybody who was there, and it was filmed and photographed. Later the priest of the parish took the Eucharist and kept it for a while before Valentine was called to receive it. It was after this miracle that the doors of the church were opened to her apparitions.

I have to mention here that, although the church approved Our Lady’s apparition in Kibeho, they have not yet approved Our Lord’s apparitions. He also appeared in public to the second visionary, Anathalie Mukampazimpaka who was only approved for receiving Our Lady’s apparitions and not those from Jesus; however, the church has not denied that these apparitions of Our Lord did occur. They have never denied or negated the apparitions of Jesus to Valentine and the other visionaries as false. The conclusion of the Bishop was that the investigations would be continued later because of the turmoil that hit their country, but so far found nothing to say they are not real. We must trust the wisdom of the church and pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to guide them. In the meantime, pray for our own eyes to be opened. Our Lady and Our Lord warned us to what was going to happen to Rwanda and how to avoid it, long before the church could approve those apparitions, the genocide would not have happened. You will not only hear her speak, but you will get the chance to ask her questions, receive a blessing from the Oil Our Lady gave her. I hope to see you all there.

For availability on remaining seats, please visit my website at www.immaculee.biz/immaculee-event-tickets

FORGIVENESS


FORGIVE YOURSELF! I used to read the scripture below and scoff. The part about ‘forgetting what is behind’ seemed like a trite bumper sticker platitude you read in traffic. I used to think that whoever wrote that must not know what I’ve been through. 
"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." – Philippians 3:12-14
 The truth is, we can’t forget what happened: the mistake that replays in our mind; the words we wish we could take back; the betrayal and hurt they caused. The disappointment and loss we’ve faced, last year, last month. last night.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

THIS DAY'S THOUGHT AND VERSE

    
    
This Day's Thought


 
To pray is to change.  This is a great grace.  How good of God to provide a path whereby our lives can be taken over by love and joy and peace and patience and kindness and goodness and faithfulness and gentleness and self-control.

Richard J. Foster
This Day's Verse
 
He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea.
 
Psalm 102:17
The New International Version

Monday, October 15, 2012

If you want to be President, .. . .

On August 20, 2012, Obama said: “If you want to be president of United States, your life is an open book.” OK, let’s see his

1) original, long-form 1961 Hawaiian birth certificate — sealed
2) Marriage license between Obama’s father (Barak Sr.) and mother (Stanley Ann Dunham)— not found, not released
3) Obama’s baptism records — sealed
4) Obama’s adoption records — sealed
5) Records of Obama’s and his mother’s reptriation as US citizens on return from Indonesia — not found, not released
6) Name change (Barry Sotero to Barack Hussein Obama) records — not found, not released
7) Noelani Elementary School (Hawaii)— not released
8) Punahou School financial aid or school records — not released
9) Occidental College financial aid records — not released.(These records were, however, subpoenaed but Obama lawyers succeeded in quashing the subpoena in court. No other Occi records have been released.)
10) Columbia College records — not released
11) Columbia senior thesis — not released
12) Harvard Law School records (not mentioned below, but not released)
13) Obama’s law client list — sealed
14) Obama’s files from career as an Illinois State Senator — sealed
15) Obama’s record with Illinois State Bar Association — sealed
16) Obama’s medical records — not released
17) Obama’s passport records — not released

Friday, October 12, 2012

VICE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE

"When a wise person debates with a fool, the fool rages and laughs, and there is no peace and quiet."
~Proverbs 29:9

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

AN OLD WORK IN PROGRESS - My Fourth Attempt at Writing about Myself

Some of my older readers probably recall my attempt at writing "my story" in hopes that it would eventually be completed up to present and published.  I have lived a very "full" life and it's going to take some dedication to complete it, but I must. It's been hanging over my head and heart for years.  People who know me think they know me, but they have no idea the travels my life has taken on and all of the things that molded me into the Child of Christ that I have become.  I do not have a title yet, but in the writings, I am Jasmine.

~*~

ONE
Family is everything.  That’s my thinking.  I am guilty of not appreciating those three words until now as it is that I have so little time in which to make up to those whom I love most the long absences in my youth, lack of care and love of family then that I have now.  This saddens me.
My life began quite dysfunctional.  My mother was loose, my father was in the service and was a cheating womanizer.  I was passed around the family from birth until my Mother and Daddy adopted both my sister and me at ages 4 ½ and 3, respectively.  My Mother still says to this day, “I didn’t think we were ever going to stop you from cursing!”  My birth mother loves to proudly say, “WHAT? Well, you didn’t get it from me!” I can only laugh where I used to argue and be angry.  How can you be angry at an 83 year old woman?  Even though she and her ex-husband literally signed their children away, it is something that I have attempted gently on numerous occasions to beg the truth from her.  I am worried about her salvation and she is becoming quite feeble, suffering from OCPD and a worn out heart.  Yet, it is something she denies to this day.  I’ve given her every opportunity to fess up, you know.  But she won’t.  Why?  She knows the Lord and she knows she will answer for her transgressions; perhaps, since she has never taken responsibility for anything, she feels exempt?  She has never taken any responsibility for anything in her life, so why should I “expect” a big change in this area?
Why am I angry?  My Mother and Daddy were sent from God!  I was saved from a completely awful, dysfunctional and abusive family, thanks to my Grandmother.  Granny D was the Matriarch if ever there was one.  When my vision of the perfect lady was shot down after her death, I could only chuckle a little inside at my naivete!  Now I know why it was always so easy to talk to her about things I felt I could not share with my parents.  I felt Granny D was my contemporary.  There are just some things that are passed down through the gene pool, and unless you are very consciously aware of their presence, you don’t do anything to head it off and end up suffering in the end.  I am the Queen of Suffering!  I am the Fool; the one who repeats the same mistake over and over, even though I should know what’s coming, the hurt and rejection, the tears and slow mending of my heart again.
People try to flatter me.  “Oh, you’re such a survivor!  “I could never go through what you have and kept my sanity intact!”  “You are the strongest woman I’ve ever met!”
I think, “I’ll trade places with you!”
My birth mother had remarried and she had delivered my baby brother, Bud, when my sister and I were taken to my aunt and uncle’s home about an hour’s drive away near the local air base.  My uncle was in the U.S. Air Force and my aunt had a job on the base working for the Bureau of Reclamation.  Their marriage was four years old and they had no children.  In fact, I later learned, my aunt was unable to carry a child to term. 
I recall bits and pieces of that day so long ago.  I remember getting out of the car, dropping my tattered and dirty doll on the ground, trying to keep up with Granny D as she walked up a hill carrying a suitcase,  just one small suitcase containing my clothes.  When she entered my Aunt Suzanne and Uncle Ben’s duplex, she sat down my suitcase and said, “Here’s Jasmine.  If you want her, you can have her.”  Those few words are all that my Aunt Suzanne remembers from that day.  They blew me away!  I wish I’d asked her about this in more detail before she had her stroke eighteen months ago.  It has been fifty-five years now, and memories fade even in those who have not had something as debilitating as a stroke happen to them.
One week later, the events would repeat themselves, except this time, it was my sister, Celine, who came through the door with Granny D.  Granny D said that she was on her way to Mobile, Alabama, and was taking Celine to live with our father.  Uncle Ben would have none of it.  He told Granny D that we, my sister and I, would not be separated, that Celine would also stay with them.
My memories of the beginnings of life with Aunt Suzanne and Uncle Ben are scattered and few.  I recall my sister’s birthday party when she turning age five, and, believe it, it was the first birthday party that she’d ever had, thanks to Aunt Celine.  I have one photograph from that party, Celine sitting at the head of the table and a birthday cake in front of her.  There were balloons, five or so children and party hats for everyone.  In the center side chair at the table sat my mother with a smile on her face.
I recall vaguely that my father came through the front door and he was dressed in tan shirt and pants, what they called fatigues in the Army.  I don’t recall that he stayed long; he’d come for Celine’s birthday.  It would be the last time I would ever lay eyes on him, except for a few photographs that my birth mother decided to send to my email about ten years ago.  He died without my ever seeing him again, although we did have brief email and telephone exchanges, which I will elaborate on more later.
An agreement that my sister and I would stay with Aunt Suzanne and Uncle Ben for two weeks turned into one month, then two, three and finally, we had been with them for a year.  Aunt Suzanne was thrilled with having two little girls.  She would buy outfits for us that were matching in every way except color.  For Easter, we had the frilliest dresses I’d ever seen. I thought, “we must be rich!”  We had lace headbands, white gloves and shoes, and white socks trimmed with lace.  We also had little purses made of white lace that were shaped like an umbrella.  Oh how I loved my umbrella purse.  I’d never had a purse in my life.  And we wore GLOVES, WHITE GLOVES!  Wow! That was really something. We were headed to church which is something that made me wary because of the lack of exposure to the Bible and religion in general.  And when Uncle Ben pulled out his camera, we posed together proudly, Celine and me.  Then he’d begin filming with his new 8mm camera and boy were we prissy.  In fact, Uncle Ben encouraged it!  He thought it funny and he knew how much fun Celine and I were having.  I have that video, as well as over 300 of them that were taken over the years that I had transferred onto DVD’s for us a few years ago.  That's me on the right in the photo and my sister on the left.
After Celine and I had been with Uncle Ben and Aunt Suzanne for a year, Uncle Ben approached my birth mother (his own sister), “We’ve had these girls for a year.  We’ve grown attached to them and I don’t want you just coming and snatching them away on a whim.  You must make up your mind about these girls!”
In the end, my birth parents both decided to allow Uncle Ben and Aunt Suzanne to adopt us.  How could two people just give away two of their children?  And, what about my baby brother, Bud?  My mother had remarried, to a very gruff and haughty man who worked at the steel mills.  I learned years later that “he hated Celine for some reason.”  He had no qualms about giving us away.  He wanted his own children with my mother; however, he would not relent and “allow” my mother to let go of Bud.  “Oh no, Bud’s a boy and Bill would never let me give him up!”, exclaimed my birth mother.  Life would have been so different if we’d had Bud around to grow up with us.  But, he was left with my mother and her jerk of a husband, and they went on to have a girl and then another boy.
My birth mother and Bill lived on a farm about 45 minutes outside of town.  It was a rather large farm where Bill and his family were raised.  They planted and raised fresh vegetables which were picked and crated when ripe, and then it was a big day – off to market in the city to sell their crop.  The truck would be so loaded you’d think some of the produce would fall off.  Bill always made Bud help him in as soon as he was old enough to understand about picking the ripest produce.  Bud was probably about age 6 by then.  He was also made to get up at 4 a.m. and pile into the truck with Bill to travel to market.  Bud had a hard upbringing.  As you will see later; my heart hurt for little Bud many times as he was growing up, and the memories that are stirred when I see him in the videos as a young boy when he came to spend time in the summer with his two sisters, me and Celine.
After the end of living one year, as required by law, with Uncle Ben and Aunt Suzanne, they filed for adoption of me and Celine.  A lady from the Department of Social Services visited our  home twice, also required by law, to inspect, ask questions and ensure that the home was safe, clean and that Celine and I were happy children.  I don’t recall these visits, but my Mother talked to me about them not too many years ago.
As far as I know, we were very happy where we were. We had never had so much loved showered on us, and also, so much discipline.  My Daddy never spared the rod, and my mother’s role was to stand at the door and say “that’s enough!” when she felt the punishment of a belt across our behinds had been sufficiently rendered.  I wasn’t used to being spanked or belted.  Of course, my feelings were so hurt.  I remember that after a punishment and the crying had stopped, Uncle Ben and Aunt Suzanne would explain to us why we were punished so that we would remember it and never make the same mistake that caused such wrath again. They would tell us how much they loved us and that was why they had to punish us, so that we would remember our indiscretion and never repeat it.  Their hearts were always, always, in the right place.
I recall one night after Celine and I had gone to bed, I woke for some strange reason and I heard the flip-flop of my daddy’s (uncle’s) house-shoes coming down the dark hallway.  Their bedroom light was on and I was just lying there looking through the doorway.  Well, there was Uncle Ben, butt-naked walking into his room.  I do not know if I said something or moved, but something got his attention and he came in that bedroom in his boxers and tore up my behind because I was awake when I should have been sleeping, and I had seen him in the raw.  As you see, Uncle Ben/Daddy had a low tolerance level, or was he just trying to break a pattern of behavior that he felt unacceptable?  I would find that answer and many others after years and years of feeling intimidated by Uncle Ben/Daddy.
When the day to appear in Family Court arrived, Uncle Ben and Granny D went to the courthouse together.  Aunt Suzanne said years later, “I couldn’t bring myself to go and watch someone sign away their children, even as badly as I wanted you.”  I think it was that, and also that she was afraid they would get there and my mother and father would change their minds.  What happened in the courtroom was fairly routine.  My mother and father stood before the judge and he asked them each, “Do you understand that once you sign these papers, you are giving up ALL rights to your children, forever?”  Each of them affirmed that they understood.  The adoption papers were presented and each of them signed willingly.  The judge wished my Uncle Ben, now my Daddy, well and the case was dismissed and the documents sealed.  Aunt Suzanne applied for new birth certificates for Celine and I showing herself as our Mother and Uncle Ben as our Father.

I remember the day that they suddenly said, “don’t call us Aunt Suzanne and Uncle Ben anymore.  You are to refer to us as Mother and Daddy.”  Well, this sure took some getting used to.  And I never even wondered “why” this change had taken place.  All I knew was that I had been there a very long time and I was happy, well cared-for, and LOVED!  Oh, we slipped a lot saying “Aunt” and “Uncle” and before long, we were told that if we did not refer to one of them in the proper manner, there would be punishment to pay.  Eventually, the habit was broken and they were our Mother and our Daddy.

~*~
 
This is only the tip of the iceberg .........
 
Abbey