Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Book Review: The Mass by Cardinal Donald Wuerl

The Mass: The Glory, the Mystery, the TraditionThe Mass: The Glory, the Mystery, the Tradition by Cardinal Donald Wuerl

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cardinal Donald Wuerl’s book The Mass is a 212 page volume which delves into the mysteries we encounter each week as we head to church.   Each part of the service is examined in depth from preparing for Mass to the dismissal.   The people and other parts of the service are discussed, such as explaining the function of the cantor.   Also, parts of the church are mentioned, such as the Tabernacle.   Even the vestments are explained.

This is a fantastic book for those who are new to the Church.   One thing I particularly enjoy about Cardinal Wuerl’s style of teaching is he starts at the basics, but it’s in a style that no one feels talked down to when he is explaining something.  Even when you think “I know that”, his wonderful style is such that you will still gain something new from enjoying this book.

This book also has a number of photos so you aren’t guessing as to what is being discussed.  In the chapter “The Great Amen”, the chalice and paten are mentioned as being elevated, and there is a photo of Cardinal Wuerl doing just that — what better way to know exactly what is being taught as by seeing it.

As Catholics, Mass is just what we do.  But WHY do we do it?   This book delves into that, and not only is it an informative book, but one that could easily be a springboard for mediation as the meanings behind the rituals are explained.   For example, making the sign of the cross at the beginning or the end of a homily is a way of asking God to help us make the message real in our hearts.  (While not all people do this, I found this example to be especially interesting!) So many times things become habit rather than meaningful.  I would highly recommend this book to any Catholic to try and bring the original intent of each ritual back into the forefront of your mind, and hopefully you will enjoy Mass as never before.

FTC disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book from the publisher to review.  All opinions are my own.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The tree isn't up, but the bed is down

It feels like forever since I've posted anything but a review.  It's 1 in the morning, and my boyfriend and I just prayed together.  Since we met online in February, that's often been part of our goodnight routine.


Something that has felt so lacking in my life this year.  

On August 12th, I had strep throat and a horrible sinus infection.  Nevertheless, I had to drive my mother to dialysis.  I went to tell her I was up at a little after 9 in the morning and see what help she needed before I got myself ready enough to drive her the 20 minutes.  I often would spend the extra time in the library bumming wifi, but that morning I was so sick I was going to come home and come back to bed.  But my plans changed instantly -- and life changed in a moment.  I went into her room and found her on the floor.  Instead of driving her 20 minutes to dialysis, I drove her an hour to the E.R.  She was in the hospital for a week, then into a rehab facility, then back into the hospital where they gave her a 10% chance of living.  From there she was transfered to another hospital, one in a "big bad" city about 2 1/2 hours away.  (Remember I live in a town of 1500 and any city of about 25,000 or more is a "big bad" city! ha!)  I burned every Hilton Honors point I had earned in over 10 years to be near here.  (Thank God I had enough that I wasn't worried about how to pay for a hotel room.)  She came home from the hospital and from rehab just after Thanksgiving.

It's been a hard year for a lot of people.  Some have had a much worse year than we have.  I have two online friends and a friend from college who have lost children this year.  Their year has been much harder than ours.  But ours hasn't been easy.   It's been a harder year for Mom than it has for me (physically at least).  She didn't realize she was on a ventilator for 11 days.  Eleven LONG days that she thought was two.  My boyfriend came in (he was living in Virginia at the time) and we were in Pittsburgh for eight of those days. 

I finished up my pre-Christmas eBay sales tonight.  Now what?   Not one light is up, not one gift is wrapped.  I did a great month on eBay.  Still $700 shy of what I had hoped, but I had set my sights really high this month. However, when my mother got a hospital bed this year, the bed she had been using was moved to the living room.  It's finally down.   A living room without a spare bed in it.  Some people will see Christmas decorations as a tree, stockings, and a nativity scene gracing the mantel.   This year I see a Christmas decoration as a spot where a bed is no longer standing.  The mere fact it was there and is now gone is a miracle -- or at least symbolizing a miracle that my mother survived being so sick this summer.

A week from now we'll be at Grandpa's.   I didn't want to go.   My mother insisted.  She wants me to meet Grandpa  (my boyfriend's grandfather)   She said she can get along okay without me because some people will be coming in to help out.  I am scared.  When I saw her on the floor, I don't think anything will erase that image from my mind.  She never asks me to check on her in the night, but yet I felt like "if only" I had.

Life is returning to normal.  I don't know what that new normal is quite going to look like.  I just know right now it looks like an empty spot in the living room where a bed stood.  There is no tree, but there is no bed.  And for me, that's all the Christmas decoration I need this year. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Apps for Holiday Sharing and Gift ideas from U.S. Cellular

FTC disclaimer:  This is a sponsored post by U.S. Cellular.  I am part of their blogger team, and I only recommend items and services I use myself.

U.S. Cellular offers a FREE PRINTABLE Parent Child agreement to help you discuss safety of the Internet, cell phone usage, limits, and courtesy with your teen or tween.  You don't even need to be a U.S. Cellular customer to access this, although I have been for 10 years and highly recommend them. 

’Tis the Season . . . To Instagram the hot cocoa that your grandmother makes with real chocolate.  To Tweet a photo of Uncle Ed’s crazy Christmas Sweater.  To upload a Vine video of your little nephew opening his gift and jumping with joy. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Review and Giveaway: The Promise DVD

The Promise: Birth of the Messiah, The Animated Musical is exactly what it sounds like it is -- an animated musical.   Using the Biblical narrative of Jesus' birth from the book of St. Luke, this DVD presents a fresh look at the birth of Christ.  I was highly impressed with how much was included and how much it stayed true to the Biblical content.  This is one Christmas DVD where you won't find talking animals or such because the true story is so amazing that you really don't need anything that didn't really happen.

Something I really enjoyed about this DVD is the relationships.  I never thought of the reaction of Mary's parents.  While I had thought about Joseph's reaction before, I never considered how Mary's parents feelings to their daughter being chosen by God for such a special role in history.  Also, in the movie, Mary sings to Baby Jesus and calls him her King.  I never considered if she explained to Him who He was or if it was totally revealed by God to Him that He was to be the Messiah.

Watch the trailer:

The one thing I did dislike about this DVD was I think if you weren't very familiar with the story it would be difficult to follow.  If you are showing it to children, I would read through the entire Biblical account first -- including Simeon, Elizabeth greeting Mary, as well as Luke chapter 2 which is commonly read at this time of year.  A friend said he felt like he had watched an opera about the birth of Christ.  Personally I wouldn't go that far, but these are not songs your children will sing constantly (which is a huge plus considering how annoying some songs are in children's DVDs.)

Overall, I think this is a very well done portrail of Christ's birth.  While is says it is for children, I think anyone would enjoy this because of the quality and how closely it follows Scripture.  It is a DVD I think families would enjoy year after year!

Connect with The Promise:
The Promise Website
Glorious Films on Facebook
Glorious Films on Twitter

Purchase The Promise:

Win The Promise:

(Terms and conditions, United States only, 18+.  Must respond to winning e-mail within 24 hours or another winner will be chosen.  Giveaway ends December 8 at 11:59 pm)

"Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products with services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising"

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