Thursday, March 31, 2011

Heading to West Point

I'll be heading out to West Point today to give a presentation tonight to the women there. I am looking forward to meeting them!

I'll be speaking about our culture and all of the demands for perfection women are faced with. We'll reflect upon what we can do about it all to find a proper balance and to find peace.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Invisible World

"Angels are mysterious and strange and invisible, but they’re also our fellow creatures—and they’re essentially living part of their lives on earth in order to help us," according to author Anthony DeStefano. He also said "the devil is always trying to deceive us. Not only is it an extremely effective tactic for trapping us, but it also mocks God at the same time."

Have you seen this new book? It's great! Do you want to be enlightened more about Angels and demons? I have a copy of the book and have started reading it, trouble is, I can't put it down! You might think that's a good thing. Well, it is. But it's a big problem when you have a lot of writing work to do yourself. But, until I can read the entire book (might take a while due to my many writing projects), I want to offer you a wonderful interview with the author, Anthony DeStefano as well as some pertinent information.

Oh, and here's a trailer to watch:

And a blurb from Doubleday:

The mystery of a spiritual world has intrigued us for ages. Is there a reality that exists beyond the senses? And can an invisible spiritual world actually become visible? Best-selling author Anthony DeStefano answers yes with certainty. The Invisible World: Understanding Angels, Demons, and the Spiritual Realities That Surround Us explores the existence and meaning of this unseen, yet very real world.

Though the pages of The Invisible World are rich in poignant stories and tangible applications, DeStefano eschews anecdotal evidence and offers instead a depth of theological and biblical evidence as he takes readers on a journey to an unseen world inhabited by God, angels, demons, Satan, Heaven, and Hell.

An interview with Anthony DeStefano, Author of The Invisible World

Q: The Invisible World is a book about understanding angels, demons, and the spiritual realities that surround us. In a world that is so visual, why tackle such a murky subject?

A: That’s really the whole point. What I tried to do in this book was attempt to render that spiritual world a bit less murky and a bit clearer for people. My hope is that, by doing this, these invisible realities won’t seem so unfamiliar in the future. And the more familiar they are, the easier it will be to understand them and to have absolute faith in their existence.

Q: What do you say to skeptics who believe the invisible spiritual world is just a superstition?

A: Quite the contrary. To me, the greatest superstition is what Deepak Chopra calls the “superstition of materialism.” That’s the superstition that says that everything in life—our ideas, our philosophies, our religions, our accomplishments, all our notions of honor and love and mercy and hope, all our art and music, all of the deepest mysteries of science and faith, all the longings of the human heart—is simply the result of the random dance of molecules in our brain! Now to me that is superstitious and a denial of logic!

One of the great things about the invisible realm is that you don’t have to be a “religious fanatic” or the follower of some cult to believe in it. You can be a level-headed pragmatist. You can be a realist. You can even be a cynic. You certainly don’t have to check your brains at the door before entering this world. And you don’t have to be afraid that deep thinking is going to nullify what you learn there. This book is not merely based on warm-hearted anecdotal evidence. Everything I talk about in this book is based on solid theology, informed by common sense and logic, and backed up by biblical scholarship and the universal teaching of the Christian church over the past two thousand years.

Q: Unseen spiritual realities are rarely analyzed from a Christian point of view. What is the reason?

A: I think there are some Christian books on the market that focus on invisible realities, but not many of them are written in a way that speaks to the general public. In other words, there are books on God, the angels, demons, grace, etc., but unfortunately, most of them are heavy theological works that are rather long and dull. I think the reason for this is that Christians sometimes forget that theology can be exciting and compelling and wonderfully interesting for everyone—not just scholars, academics, and theologians.

Q: You’re not a priest or pastor; in fact, you’re a writer and businessman. How did you get in touch with this topic?

A: I think it is precisely because I am a practical person that I wanted to write about these topics in a way that everyday people could understand. As a thinking human being, I’m naturally interested in the ultimate questions concerning life, death, and the spirit. I think everyone is. After all, we’re all headed in the same direction down the same river. So I think it’s a very practical subject to be interested in because it concerns all of us. But as a practical person—someone involved in business and running organizations and hard work—I’ve been frustrated by the lack of books on these kinds of spiritual topics written in a no-nonsense, understandable way. Basically, I try to write my books in order to fill what I perceive to be a void.

Q: If we are going to explore the invisible spiritual realm, how can we tell the phony from the authentically supernatural? Is there a way to be sure about what is real and what is superstition or even fraud?

A: It’s very difficult because the topic is so subjective. That’s why, in my book, I don’t indulge in wild speculation or relate hundreds of anecdotes and stories that may or may not be true. I stick to what has been revealed in Scripture and the authentic teaching of Christianity over twenty centuries. I feel strongly that, if I didn’t stay within these parameters, it would be too easy to drift into the worst kind of make-believe.

Q: The Invisible World explores the existence of angels. Angels have captured our imagination in a special way. Why do you think that is?

A: I think part of the fascination is that, while angels are completely different from us, i.e., they’re pure spiritual beings, they are also right here with us on Earth, helping us, guiding us, and protecting us. In other words, we are intrigued by angels because they are powerful and wonderful creatures, but also because part of their job is to really get involved in our lives—to really “get their hands dirty,’’ so to speak, in the affairs of human beings. Angels are mysterious and strange and invisible, but they’re also our fellow creatures—and they’re essentially living part of their lives on earth in order to help us. So although they’re very far away from us, they’re also very close. It’s the proximity that is fascinating, I think.

Q: You also explore the idea of the devil. “The devil made me do it” is a cliché that people often use with humor. Can it be true? How does the devil actually tempt us?

A: Of course it’s true. The devil does tempt us. And the devil really exists. He is spoken about many times in Scripture. He’s not a “theological construct,” as some academics have theorized. He’s a real being. As far as how he goes about tempting us, as the movie The Exorcist correctly says, “The attack is psychological.” And moreover, it usually involves deception. Satan, says Scripture, is a liar and the father of all lies. Understanding lying is the key to understanding the nature of the Evil One and the nature of spiritual warfare. Think about it. If God is Truth, and the devil hates everything about God, then naturally the devil is going to want to mess with the truth. What could be more offensive to God than to get us to act in a way that completely contradicts God’s identity? What could be more insulting than for us to be persuaded to act in a way that is diametrically opposed to everything God stands for? That’s why the devil is always trying to deceive us. Not only is it an extremely effective tactic for trapping us, but it also mocks God at the same time. So deception is the foundation of all demonic strategy—it’s the devil’s modus operandi.

Q: If the devil and the demons are so powerful, how can we ever hope to combat them?

A: It’s very simple. In order to protect yourself from spiritual realities that are harmful or evil, all you have to do is unite yourself to God. Union with God is the ultimate and absolute defense mechanism against all spiritual attacks. In the presence of grace, evil runs, hides, flees. That’s a fundamental spiritual law.

Q: And how can we invite positive spiritual forces into our lives?

A: One of the very best ways is to pray. Prayer puts you in direct contact with the creator of everything, including the whole spiritual realm. It’s like being plugged into an electrical generator. Prayer is the great spiritual conduit. A super-highway to Heaven! Prayers go up to God, and he sends spiritual graces of all kinds down to us. The best thing he sends to us, of course, is himself!

Q: What was the biggest insight you had during your research for The Invisible World?

A: The biggest insight for me was that when you look at the invisible world from the Christian perspective, it’s actually much more interesting and provocative than when you look at it from all the fictional and new-age perspectives you see in the majority of books being published. As everyone knows, there are many books out there on paranormal activity and ghosts and goblins and all the subjects Hollywood makes scary movies about. But the simple, age-old Christian teaching on angels, demons, the devil, grace, God, and what’s going to happen at the end of the world are so much more exciting and eerie. And what’s more—they are true. They are not make-believe. And you can really believe them.

Q: How can faith in the invisible world help us live our day-to-day lives in the visible world?

A: If you only pay attention to visible realities, i.e., the world of the senses—then you are doomed to live only half a life. And the half you do lead is bound to be shallow and meaningless. Why? Because the most important things in life are invisible: love, honor, trust, faith, emotion, passion, philosophy, God. The hidden realities of life affect everything you do—whether you know it or not. They affect how you conduct your business, what kind of person you decide to marry, how you raise your children, how you look at suffering, how you face death. The invisible is the lens through which you filter all the experiences of your life. By learning about the invisible world, your life will become much fuller and richer and more balanced. Also, if you have a strong faith in the invisible world, then no amount of suffering—physical, mental, or emotional—will ever be able to destroy the profound inner sense of peace that you’ll experience on a daily basis.

The Invisible World: Understanding Angels, Demons, and the Spiritual Realities That Surround Us
by Anthony DeStefano
Doubleday Religion ~ March 15, 2011
Hardcover/208 pages/ISBN 978-0-385-52223-6/$19.99

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Praying for Our Priests

Image borrowed from the website: Spiritual motherhood of Priests

Your Little Lenten Steps

What little steps are you taking this Lent? What are you doing with your children? We don't have to make great big sacrifices to please God this Lent. Little things offered with great love are very pleasing to God according to St. Therese, Blessed Mother Teresa and many other saints.

Fasting and abstinence can be incorporated into each one of our days. We can fast and abstain from little pleasures, such as an extra helping of food, a dessert, a TV show, a game for the kids, time on the Internet, and anything you may enjoy. For example, you can cut short a hot shower or bath as a little mortification and offer the small sacrifice to God.

 Will you remember to pray for our priests each day? They sure need our prayers.

What "little" things are you doing or do you plan to do this Lent?

Archbishop Timothy Dolan

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Happy feast of St. Joseph!

Happy feast of St. Joseph! Ask for his intercession for your family. His prayers are powerful!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

CatholicTV - America's Catholic Television Network

CatholicTV - America's Catholic Television Network (a mention of my book: The Domestic Church: Room by Room)

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Saint Patrick's "Breastplate" Prayer

I bind unto myself today

The strong Name of the Trinity,

By invocation of the same,

The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this day to me for ever.

By power of faith, Christ's incarnation;

His baptism in the Jordan river;

His death on Cross for my salvation;

His bursting from the spicèd tomb;

His riding up the heavenly way;

His coming at the day of doom;*

I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power

Of the great love of the cherubim;

The sweet 'well done' in judgment hour,

The service of the seraphim,

Confessors' faith, Apostles' word,

The Patriarchs' prayers, the Prophets' scrolls,

All good deeds done unto the Lord,

And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today

The virtues of the starlit heaven,

The glorious sun's life-giving ray,

The whiteness of the moon at even,

The flashing of the lightning free,

The whirling wind's tempestuous shocks,

The stable earth, the deep salt sea,

Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today

The power of God to hold and lead,

His eye to watch, His might to stay,

His ear to hearken to my need.

The wisdom of my God to teach,

His hand to guide, His shield to ward,

The word of God to give me speech,

His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,

The vice that gives temptation force,

The natural lusts that war within,

The hostile men that mar my course;

Or few or many, far or nigh,

In every place and in all hours,

Against their fierce hostility,

I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan's spells and wiles,

Against false words of heresy,

Against the knowledge that defiles,

Against the heart's idolatry,

Against the wizard's evil craft,

Against the death wound and the burning,

The choking wave and the poisoned shaft,

Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,

Christ behind me, Christ before me,

Christ beside me, Christ to win me,

Christ to comfort and restore me.

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,

Christ in hearts of all that love me,

Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,

The strong Name of the Trinity;

By invocation of the same.

The Three in One, and One in Three,

Of Whom all nature hath creation,

Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:

Praise to the Lord of my salvation,

Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Mother's Lenten Strategies

At the start of the penitential and holy season of Lent, we might have found ourselves scrambling to figure out what to “give up.” We have given up desserts, candy and possibly TV in the past. But maybe we’ve decided to switch our emphasis this year.

And just what is penance anyway? In Vatican II’s Apostolic Constitution on Penance, we read, “Penance therefore—already in the Old Testament—is a religious, personal act which has as its aim love and surrender to God: fasting for the sake of God, not for one’s own self.

“It [the Church] insists first of all that the virtue of penitence be exercised in persevering faithfulness to the duties of one’s state in life, in the acceptance of the difficulties arising from one’s work and from human coexistence, in a patient bearing of the trials of earthly life and of the utter insecurity which pervades it” (Chapter 3).

For mothers, why not consider the obvious when contemplating the proper penance? As parents, we have heard our youngsters ask for our undivided attention. When my daughter Mary-Catherine was two years old, she used to put it this way, “Mommy, turn your face here!”

I remember on one occasion when she precociously explained to me the little game that she had been playing with her doll. I had been listening to her every word, as I busily folded my family’s laundry, trying to catch up with that never-ending chore before the next batch needed to be tackled. But to Mary-Catherine’s mind, I had just been folding towels. She wanted eye contact. She wanted my attention. Her persistence paid off because I eventually got the point and stopped what I was doing, left the mound of laundry for a short while, and put my daughter on my lap for a wonderful conversation.

Of course, we know our tasks in the home are never really complete and that we are on twenty-four hour call to our children’s needs. Yet, this Lenten season would be an ideal time to slow down. But is this notion even possible? There is so much to accomplish within the home and it’s difficult to slow down the pace for fear of getting even further behind.

In actuality, our children are happy to have us bustling about the house while they are at play. They are content knowing that we are in sight nearby. They feel secure in our presence, confident that they can call upon us at any time which seems to be usually when we are up to our elbows in a project!

Wouldn’t it be nice, though, if we could just stop what we are doing and take a break to enjoy our children and allow them the time to be truly with us.

During a season of quiet, of prayer, fasting and reflection, we can please our Lord in a very natural way as mothers, by going about what we do each day and lovingly caring for our children in an ordinary yet extraordinary way.

So, although out of necessity, perhaps we have learned the art of preparing and cooking an entire family meal, or changing a diaper, and folding a load of laundry, while engrossed in a telephone conversation with a close friend, or maybe we accomplish some tasks at times even one-handed while we check our email or tend to something important on the Internet. But, we need to slow down and let go a bit to give our full attention to our children. Take the phone off the hook if necessary, at times, and unplug from some technology for a little peace and quiet in which to enjoy your family.

Playing a short game, watching a family show or spiritual movie together, or reading an uplifting story to our children are welcome changes. A brisk walk in the fresh, cool air are not only refreshing and fun, but will help to bring us all closer together by allowing time to bond, converse and just be together. And these can be teachable moments, too.

An important part of our schedule should be a slot for some individual time with each child. Some crazy busy days it may be only for ten or fifteen minutes each night, sitting on the bed, saying prayers, and talking briefly about the day and what’s coming up tomorrow. Children appreciate the expression of genuine interest in their schooling activities, social situations, and their life in general. When they are running in from an activity, let’s be sure to grab them and sit them on our laps for a few minutes to exchange information about our days or just cuddle even for a moment before they are off to a new adventure. Let’s be sure to make the time for them as much as possible. Lent seems to be a perfect season to strive a bit harder to make this happen.

Family meetings; held either weekly or from time to time, can offer each member the opportunity to express what’s on his or her mind. A prayer can begin your meeting with a chance for each member to offer a petition. This would also be an ideal time to discuss as a family what to do to help the less fortunate during Lent and throughout the year. There’s always the local soup kitchen; there may be elderly neighbors who could use a hand with shoveling snow in those parts still experiencing winter weather and for those of us who live in the colder areas. Perhaps one of the children can baby-sit for a single mother who needs a break. Depending on age, children can come up with some great ideas too.

Taking the time to praise our children is certainly essential. As mothers, we responsibly correct and teach our little ones. We must not forget that they also need our compliments, praise and attention. And, without a doubt, they need our unconditional love, our hugs and our kisses.

Of course, Lent is also a time to remember the role prayer plays in our lives. Above all, we need to make our life a prayer. Our encounter with God begins within our family, where He in His Divine providence has placed us to care for our families. We can recall Blessed Teresa’s beautiful words, “Love begins at home.”

The season of Lent can help us to work at becoming better mothers if we offer God the sacrifice of generously giving of our time, our love and our very selves to be present to our families. We are given forty days for extra nurturing and love, forty days in which we can serve our Lord, present in our little ones. Our Lord has told us, “Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take as your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me to drink…” (Matt. 25:34-36). We can be comforted knowing we are serving our dear Lord in our family.

Enjoy your Lenten journey!

Know someone who needs to come home?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

What are your plans?

Ash Wednesday is fast approaching. What are your plans for Lenten prayers and traditions in your domestic church? I'd love to hear.

I'll be posting some tips and things soon.

God bless!


Thursday, March 3, 2011

How to build your domestic church

Would you tips on prayer and ways to build up your domestic church of the home? Below is my article in the Our Sunday Visitor Newsweekly...

The Catholic presence stretches around the globe, and its numbers are increasing worldwide, according to statistics from the 2011 Annuario Pontificio (“pontifical yearbook”). Approximately 1.18 billion belong to the big Church, the Body of Christ. In many cases they are also living in one of the countless little “domestic churches” all throughout the world.

But what actually constitutes a “domestic church”? Let’s take a quick look at the beginning of the Church’s founder’s life. Jesus himself was born into the heart of a family, a little domestic church consisting of his mother, Mary, his foster father, St. Joseph, and himself. Wherever the Holy Family set up their home — in the stable in Bethlehem for a time, in Egypt or in Nazareth — their domestic church moved right along with them simply because their domestic church consisted of the three of them.

Down through the ages, as people were converted and became...(Continued here at OSV)

If you like the article, please click "like" at the bottom of the article. If you'd like to comment here or on the OSV website, please do.

Enjoy and may God bless you!