Why Do We Have Original Sin if We Didn’t Eat the Apple? By Louis St. Hilaire 

Why Do We Have Original Sin if We Didn’t Eat the Apple?

By Louis St. Hilaire 

Louis St. Hilaire is the author of  That You Might Have Life: An Introduction to the Paschal Mystery of Christ and translator of The Literal Exposition of Isaiah: A Commentary by St. Thomas Aquinas (forthcoming from Emmaus Academic). A graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, he works as a web developer and digital editor for the St. Paul Center.

The original holiness and harmony of our first parents in the Garden of Eden that we read about in Genesis 2 is quite different from the life we know today. Genesis 3 explains how human beings lost this original state through sin.  

Like the story of creation told in the first two chapters of Genesis, the story of the fall in Genesis 3 uses poetic and symbolic language. This doesn’t mean that the story of the fall is just a myth, with no relationship to history or reality. The fundamental things about which it teaches us really did happen: our first parents were created in friendship with God, they did lose that friendship through sin, and profound consequences for the entire human race, which descends from them, did follow. However, just as with the first two chapters of Genesis, we don’t read Genesis 3 like a news report or a history textbook. Instead, we have to examine the figurative language in Genesis 3 to see how it reveals the theological significance of these events. 

God had warned Adam and Eve that if they were to eat of the fruit of the tree, they would die (Gen 2:173:3). This wasn’t simply a threat or a way of intimidating them, but a statement of the true consequences of choosing something other than God.  

Sure enough, as soon as Adam and Eve made the choice to disobey God, we immediately see a dramatic change in them. They didn’t drop dead on the spot. Physical death didn’t come immediately (although that, too, came in time). Instead, they experienced spiritual death. They lost their original holiness and justice. They lost the sanctifying grace—the life of God—that animated their souls. Then, having lost the harmony of original justice within themselves and between each other, they were suddenly ashamed of their nakedness (Gen 3:7). Having broken their friendship with God and believing Satan’s lies about him, they ran and hid from him (Gen 3:8). After that, when questioned by God, they pointed fingers at each other instead of taking responsibility for their bad choice (Gen 3:9–12).  

God, witnessing all this, foretold that their lives would now be marked by suffering, toil, and, finally, death (Gen 3:16–19). Likewise, because they could not abide by the limits set on them as creatures, they had to leave the garden (Gen 3:22–24). Thus, because of sin, suffering, and death enter human history, and in the following chapters of Genesis, we see the consequences of sin spread throughout the world (CCC 399–401).  

This is the world into which we are born—a world of suffering, sin, strife, and death. The sin of our first parents affects us all, and we can’t understand our suffering or our tendency to evil apart from this sin (CCC 403). We call the sin of our first parents and the resulting fallen state of human nature that affects every human person “original sin.”  

This raises an important question: How can it be that everyone, even today, is affected by a sin committed by someone else long ago?  

In order to understand the answer to this question, we first need to see that when Genesis tells us that all human beings are descended from a single couple, it teaches us a lesson about the profound unity of the human race. Today, we live in a society that is radically individualistic. It encourages us to see people as isolated individuals who are only responsible for themselves and their actions. But that’s not how God made us. He made us as members of closely interconnected communities, where responsibility is shared and the actions of a single person can affect everyone else dramatically. Because the human race is united in this way, when Adam and Eve lost the gifts of original holiness and justice, the entire human race lost them. The human nature that we receive from them as their descendants is deprived of these gifts. St. Paul, reflecting on this, says, “as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned” (Rom 5:12; CCC 404).  

That being said, original sin is not “sin” in the sense of a personal sin for which we are guilty. Rather, it refers to this deprived or fallen state. Our nature is not completely corrupted, but it is wounded. We are affected by ignorance, suffering, fear of death, and an inclination toward sin called “concupiscence.” This in turn leads to personal sins, for which we are culpable. In this way, sin affects us as individuals and as a society, distorting human social structures, and making us subject in many ways to the power of Satan (CCC 405–408). 

In a sense, original sin is the “bad news”: it explains why we are separated from God, why we tend to do what is wrong even when we know better, and why we suffer from conflict, unhappiness, and death. Because of original sin, human life is a battle. We were created in the image of God and meant to enjoy life with him, so we have within us a deep desire for the holiness and justice we lost. At the same time, we are afflicted by sin, its effects, and the power of Satan. As a result, our life is a struggle between competing desires, and we can’t overcome that struggle on our own (CCC 409).  

Fortunately, God doesn’t expect that of us. No sooner did man fall than did God promise to send a savior to rescue us, telling the serpent:  “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. (Gen 3:15) 

In these words, the Church recognizes the first promise of the Savior, Jesus, the descendant of Adam and Eve who would free us from the power of Satan (CCC 410). 

Nature’s Witness to Intelligent Design DONALD DEMARCO

Nature’s Witness to Intelligent Design


I was finishing my morning coffee and nothing in particular was occupying my mind. A black-capped chickadee suddenly appeared before my eyes, walking alongside our front yard maple tree. It was busy, no doubt looking for food. At that moment it seemed to be operating with more purpose than I was. This tiny little oviparous vertebrate has a special knack for finding bird feeders. Consequently, it has become a rather popular bird. It also has the reputation of being “cute.” Its black cap and bib, white cheeks, gray back, and whitish underside make it distinctive and easy to recognize. This feathered creature was not only my morning’s entertainment but also a philosophical inspiration.

I am always impressed by the fact that animals, so magnificently designed to do what they are supposed to do, just go about their business and never stop to reflect on how marvellously created they are. When the chickadee arrives in fall, its brain neurons die and, along with them, old information. New neurons are formed so that new information can guide it through changes in the environment and their social flocks. Despite the small size of its brain, chickadee calls are complex and communicate information regarding other flocks as well as send out alarms. The more “dee” notes it uses indicate a higher level of threat. All this astonishes me, especially in the light of the fact that so many intelligent people deny that there is such a thing as Intelligent Design.

My early morning rapture took me back to my science days when I studied zoology. My text was Tracy I. Storer’s General Zoology. The author states, with no suggestion of amazement, that “in some moths the odor of a female may attract a male for a mile or more.” Could it have happened by chance that the male moth can distinguish the specific odor of the female among the innumerable smells that fill the atmosphere? It is like having a radio that is tuned to a specific frequency that is the only one needed to locate its mate. Is this synchrony purely a matter of chance? Imagine a telephone number imprinted on a child’s hand which corresponds to the telephone number of the person he is destined to marry? Would this be chance or design?


Ruminating further into the marvels of the animal kingdom, I came across the following: “The female butterfly carries a store of perfume weighing only 1/10,000 of a milligram, and she squirts [a] minute fraction of it into the air. These scent molecules can be detected by a male seven miles away.” St. Thomas Aquinas would have taken this fact in stride. In his Summa Theologica he writes, “We see that things which lack knowledge, such as natural bodies, act for an end, and this is evident from their acting always, or nearly always, in the same ways, so as to obtain their end, not fortuitously, but designedly.” And he is right: spiders spin webs, beavers build dams, ants form anthills, and bees make honey.

Let us consider the “coincidences” that are involved in leading to the ultimate mating of our butterfly: 1) a specific perfume is stored in the body of the female butterfly; 2) she has an organ that allows her to release the perfume into the air; 3) her instinct knows when to release the perfume; 4) the structure of the perfume molecules remain in the air while traveling over a radius of seven miles; 5) the male butterfly is able to detect the perfume; 6) the male finds the perfume alluring; 7) the male is able to track down the origin of the perfume; 8) the female accepts the male when he arrives; and 9) the complexities of mating itself.

All these factors must be simultaneously present so that the purpose of reproduction is achieved. For example, if the male butterfly does not find the perfume alluring, the chain is broken and reproduction cannot take place. If the butterflies are not equipped with the proper and complementary organs, the chain is likewise broken. Charles Darwin contended that changes in species happen one at a time. He has no provision for a multitude of factors becoming co-present at the same time. In his Origin of the Species, he makes the following statement: “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly be formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”

Darwin was an indefatigable student of nature. Despite his extensive knowledge, however, his evolutionary theory does not hold. It was a theory, not something that anyone could observe. He penned his classic in 1859 at a time when molecular biology had yet to be discovered. He was thus laboring under a severe handicap. He was trying to get the most out of natural selection and the survival of the fittest, but his contention—as he feared—did not allow for the simultaneous existence of a multiplicity of factors that could not have evolved one step at a time. The chickadee, the moth, and the butterfly remained an insolvable puzzle for him.

My tiny visitor fled but not before awakening me. For this I was grateful, though he will never be able to appreciate this fact. I expressed my gratitude to God for having created such a splendid creature while recalling the words of Gerard Manley Hopkins: “Glory be to God for dappled things… He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change: Praise him.”

By Donald DeMarco

Donald DeMarco is professor emeritus at St. Jerome’s University and adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College & Seminary. He’s a regular contributor to the St. Austin Review.

“Time” daily meditation from the Catholic company

The Catholic Company


“What is time, with regard to myself? It is my present and actual existence. Past time, or my past existence, is no longer anything, as far as I am concerned; I can neither recall it, nor change anything in it. The time to come, or my future existence, has not yet arrived, and perhaps never will arrive. I does not depend on me; I cannot count on it … No one is ignorant of these two simple truths, but very few draw from them the conclusions they ought to draw … This present moment, or this actual existence—from whom do I hold it? It is He who has preserved my existence from one instant to another, and who is preserving it at this present moment. Will He preserve it for me in the moment that shall immediately follow this one? I do not know; and nothing in the world can give me the assurance of it. Why has time been given to me? So that by it I may merit a happy eternity. I shall live forever: faith teaches me this; my reason even assures me of another life. The desire of immortality is implanted in the depths of my heart, and this desire, which God Himself has planted there, can never be frustrated of its object. I am, then, born for eternity, but this eternity will be happy or wretched … My fate for all eternity depends, then, on the use I make of time, and since neither the past nor the future is in my own power, it is quite true to say that my eternity depends always on the present moment. Now, at this present moment, what is my state? Would I like to die just as I am now?”

— Fr. Jean Nicholas Grou, p. 82-83

Here are eight ways we can show our kids what Christianity looks like. (Re-blogged)

Here are eight ways we can show our kids what Christianity looks like.



This might mean praying when your kids are asleep, so they may never know that you have this habit of prayer. But you will be a better mom and a better person because of it. And they will appreciate that change.



When you hear an ambulance while on the road, pray for the people who are hurting. Share what you’re thankful for that day on the way home from school by thanking God out loud. Kids will love to have a turn. When you hear about a sick friend, pray out loud: Jesus please bless so and so today. Make it normal to talk to God throughout the day.



You can discuss grievances or disagreements that you have privately, when your kids can’t hear. But teaching them to respect their relatives, especially their grandparents, is important.



Show them that Sunday is important. If your kids are little, Mass might be a stressful experience as they struggle to sit still and listen. But take them anyway. If you form the habit now, it will be easier to continue as they grow older.



Avoid gossip during your conversations with your friends. Gossip is so common and easy to fall into. But it does not respect the person gossiped about, and it eats away at the gossiper’s integrity as well. One way to truly love someone, especially someone you may not particularly like, is to consciously choose to speak well of that person.



Find a soup kitchen nearby to volunteer at together or roll down your window and talk with the guy holding the sign at the stoplight. Ask his name and how he’s doing. Then later you’re able to pray for him by name.



Try to be present to each circumstance you are in. Moms are great at multitasking, but sometimes we overdo it. Make time for the things that are important to do each day, and then don’t cross-pollinate. If it is time to recharge for you, do that. If it is time to spend quality time with your kids, do that as fully as possible.



They will notice how you speak about their dad, especially when you speak to others about him.

In little ways, we can live a life focused on Christ and that way, when we do talk with our kids about faith, it’s all the more convincing because we’re living what we trying to pass onto them.

Ten Ways to Prepare Your Heart for Holy Communion ED BROOM, OMV

Ten Ways to Prepare Your Heart for Holy Communion


By far, the most important action in life is your encounter with God, with Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. How? As a practicing Catholic, every day you can receive Jesus, the Bread of Life, in Holy Communion—His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.

In the Our Father we pray: “Give us this day our daily bread.” Giving a Sacramental interpretation to this phrase in the Our Father, it also means to give us this day Holy Communion in the context of Holy Mass.

Speaking without exaggeration, all of eternity would not be enough to prepare sufficiently to receive even one Holy Communion. Also, all of eternity would not be sufficient to render a worthy thanksgiving for one Holy Communion. The reason for this powerful assertion is the simple fact that Holy Communion is really God; it is Jesus, the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity in His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity!

Therefore, we offer ten short suggestions with the purpose of helping all of us to upgrade, improve, and perfect the disposition of our hearts when we receive our Eucharistic Lord. One Holy Communion could transform us into saints. Solid theology teaches us very clearly the concept of dispositive grace. The fault is not in the Sacrament which is God Himself, but rather in us, the human instruments and our lack of proper preparation.


  1. Fervent and Humble Prayer: “Lord, Strengthen My Faith!”

Faith can be compared to a seed; it must be watered and cultivated. It can also be compared to developing muscles in weight-lifting. If not done frequently and methodically, the muscle can easily degenerate into flabby tissue. Lastly, it can be compared to language arts and skills. By neglecting the practice of a new language, the language spoken becomes broken and incomplete.

As people say: “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” So it is with our faith; if we do not practice it and exercise it, then gradually it is lost. This being said, we must constantly remind ourselves that the Eucharist, “The Real-Presence”, is truly and substantially Jesus, the Son of God. A short but fervent prayer said frequently that can attain this goal is: “Lord, strengthen my faith.”

  1. Purify the Interior Window Pane of Your Soul

St. Ignatius of Loyola, as well as other saints, make the intimate and close connection between these two Sacraments—Confession and the Holy Eucharist. The Sacrament of Confession or Reconciliation cleanses and purifies the interior window pane of our soul of the ugly dirt and smut of sin. Then, after receiving absolution in which the soul is washed clean and becomes transparent through grace, the reception of Holy Communion will have a much more powerful influence and impact on the soul.

As the sun bursts forth with radiant abundance through a window made clean by Windex cleaner, likewise the light of Christ can explode with omnipotent graces in the clean soul. Jesus expressed it succinctly: “Blessed are the pure of heart; for they will see God.” (Mt. 5:8)

Of course, if one is in a state of mortal sin, one must make a sacramental Confession before receiving Holy Communion.

  1. Never Take the Gift for Granted!

A very pervasive temptation for those who have easy access to daily Mass and daily Holy Communion is to simply take the Lord for granted. As posted on the plaque in many sacristies as a reminder to priests: “Celebrate this Mass as if it were your first, your last, and your only.” Good advice for lay-people also: receive every Holy Communion as if it were your first, your last, and your only!

  1. Arrive on Time, or Early

Would you arrive late for a supremely important appointment—with the Pope, or President, or new boss on your new job, or in the fifth inning in a World Series game? Of course not!

Therefore, in a parallel sense, we should not arrive late at God’s House for the greatest event on planet earth—the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. If you are always late, then at least strive to come early for Holy Mass. As Saint Ignatius reminds us: “Try to order the disorder in your life.”

  1. Have Your Own Intentions

Normally in Parish Masses, the priest will mention the Mass intention at the start of the Mass—often for a deceased person, an anniversary, or for the intentions of a person still living. However, this does not exclude you from offering your own private intentions. You can load the altar with as many intentions as you like. God has no limits and He loves generous souls who ask Him for much. Often we receive little from the Lord because we ask for little.

“Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you.” (Mt. 7:7-8)

  1. Suggested Intentions

As mentioned above the intentions are limitless. You can ask or beg the Lord for whatever intentions you have in your mind and heart. Still, strongly to be recommended would be three:

  • 1) pray for the souls in Purgatory;
  • 2) pray for the conversion of sinners;
  • 3) pray for your own conversion of heart!

As Jesus said to Saint Faustina: “Ask with bold confidence… ‘Jesus I trust in you!’”

  1. Participate Fully

The Dogmatic Constitution on the Liturgy from the documents of the Second Vatican Council, Sacrosanctum Concilium (1963) exhorts the faithful in the context of the Mass to participate fully, actively, and consciously. In Mass we must not be passive participants, as if we were in a movie theater, but rather active members of the Mystical Body of Christ.

In other words, we should give responses clearly and enthusiastically, listen attentively to the Word of God, and assimilate the doctrine transmitted through the preaching of the Word of God. We are not called to be spiritual-benchwarmers, but actively engaged in Mass.

  1. Receive Communion With Reverence

The most important moment of Mass is the reception of Holy Communion. Approach with humility, reverence, confidence, and beg the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the grace to receive Jesus with great love, trust, confidence, and hunger for holiness.

  1. Thanksgiving

If you have no impending obligations, then stay after Mass to thank the Lord for coming to visit this poor sinner. All of eternity would not be sufficient to prepare our soul to receive the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings. Also, all of eternity would not be sufficient to render the Lord Jesus adequate thanksgiving. Saint Pope Paul VI suggests the Rosary after Mass as an excellent way to thank Jesus in Holy Communion, through the Heart of Mary.

  1. Become a Eucharistic Missionary Like Mary

After you have received Jesus in Holy Communion, and made your thanksgiving, then imitate Mary who, after receiving Jesus into her Heart in the Annunciation, went in haste to bring Jesus to her cousin Elizabeth in her need. Therefore, bring the presence of Jesus to others! Also, strive to bring the many lost and wandering sheep back to the fold, back to the Good Shepherd, back to the Catholic Church and its Sacraments.

O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine, All Praise And All Thanksgiving Be Every Moment Thine!

By Fr. Ed Broom, OMV

Father Ed Broom is an Oblate of the Virgin Mary and the author of Total Consecration Through the Mysteries of the Rosary and From Humdrum to Holy. He blogs regularly at Fr. Broom’s Blog.

What Priestly Celibacy Means Fr. Gerald E. Murray

What Priestly Celibacy Means

Fr. Gerald E. Murray

The publication of From the Depths of Our Hearts – Priesthood, Celibacy and the Crisis of the Catholic Church written by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Robert Cardinal Sarah, caused great unease among promoters of the ordination of married men to the priesthood in the Amazon region (and, surprise, everywhere else). Now that the controversy over the joint authorship has receded, it’s worth looking at what the two distinguished churchmen actually said on the subject.

Because they present an eloquent defense of the fundamental evangelical and pastoral value of priestly celibacy. Their essays remind us that the celibate priesthood in the Latin Church is not a merely contingent choice made in a less enlightened period, nor a convenient managerial strategy for avoiding inheritance disputes and reducing clergy costs.

Celibacy is a radical call to those who would represent Christ to his people in persona Christi capitis, in the person of Christ the head of His Mystical Body, to embrace wholly Christ’s entire way of life. To discard this requirement would be to deprive God’s people of shepherds after the heart of Christ, the chief shepherd, who laid down His life for His sheep not simply at the crucifixion but at every moment. Celibate priests bring Christ to the world in a way that powerfully proclaims that He is worth the total gift of one’s life.

When I read an advance English translation of the book, I was deeply moved, especially by Cardinal Sarah’s reflections on his own pastoral experiences.

Sarah writes, citing Pope Benedict XVI’s address to the clergy of the Diocese of Bolzano-Bressanone: “How could a Christian community understand the priest if it is not obvious that he is ‘removed from the common sphere’ and ‘delivered to God’? How could Christians understand that the priest gives himself to them if he is not entirely given over to the Father?”

He continues: “In early 1976, when I was a young priest, I traveled to certain remote villages in Guinea. Some of them had not had a visit from a priest for almost ten years, because the European missionaries had been expelled in 1967 by Sékou Touré. . . .I will never be able to forget their unimaginable joy when I celebrated Mass, which they had not experienced for such a long time. Allow me to state forcefully and with certainty: I think that if they had ordained married men in each village, they would have extinguished the Eucharistic hunger of the faithful. They would have cut the people off from that joy of receiving another Christ in the priest. For, with the instinct of faith, poor people know that a priest who has renounced marriage gives them the gift of his spousal love.” (Emphasis added)

As a celibate priest, Sarah knew the Lord’s gift of peace given to those who have left behind the blessing of wife and family, to follow Him: “How many times, while walking for long hours between the villages, with a briefcase-altar on my head, under the blazing sun, I myself experienced the joy of self-giving for the Church-Bride. . . .How I would love it if all my confreres could someday experience the welcome of a priest in an African village that recognizes Christ the Bridegroom in him: what an explosion of joy!”

Sarah continues:

The ordination of married men would deprive the young churches that are being evangelized of this experience of the presence and of the visit of Christ, delivered and given in the person of the celibate priest. . . .A plan that would consist of depriving communities and priests of this joy is not a work of mercy.  As a son of Africa, I cannot in conscience support the idea that people who are being evangelized should be deprived of this encounter with a priesthood that is fully lived out. The peoples of Amazonia have the right to a full experience of Christ the Bridegroom. We cannot offer them ‘second-class’ priests. On the contrary, the younger a Church is, the more she needs an encounter with the radical character of the Gospel.

Perhaps the most patently objectionable reason given at the Synod on the Amazon for doing away with the requirement of priestly celibacy is that the people of the Amazon do not understand celibacy. Sarah is at his best when addressing this patronizing judgment: “Through the instinct of faith, the faithful of all cultures unfailingly recognize Christ offered for all in the celibate priest. Consequently, I would like to express my deep indignation when I hear it said that the ordination of married men is a necessity since the peoples of Amazonia do not understand celibacy or that this reality will always be foreign to their culture. I see in this sort of argument a contemptuous, neocolonialist and infantilizing mentality that shocks me. All the peoples of the world are capable of understanding the Eucharistic logic of priestly celibacy. . . .Is it reasonable to think that God’s grace would be inaccessible to the peoples of Amazonia and that God would deprive them of the grace of priestly celibacy that the Church has guarded for centuries as a precious jewel? There is no culture that God’s grace cannot reach and transform. When God enters into a culture, he does not leave it intact. He destabilizes and purifies it. He transforms and divinizes it.”

Sarah then zeroes in on what is going on in these discussions: “Some Western missionaries no longer understand the profound meaning of celibacy and project their doubts onto the Amazonian peoples.” (Emphasis added) I would add that it is not just missionaries who fall into this way of thinking.

The rejection of the celibate priesthood by influential churchmen is a sign of the erosion of the supernatural sense in our times. The reaffirmation of the value of celibacy by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Cardinal Sarah is a providential gift to the Church

The Unexpected Graces of Offering Daily Prayer for Others by SHERRY ANTONETTI

The Unexpected Graces of Offering Daily Prayer for Others


Saint Paul urges us to “pray without ceasing,” though the translation from Greek means, not that we pray without stopping, but that we keep returning to prayer.  We constantly rededicate ourselves to talking with and listening to God.

Most of us start with the route prayers: Grace before meals, Hail Mary’s, Our Fathers, or the occasional rosary. Some of us also pray like chain smokers when there’s a crisis, one rosary after another. However, dedicating your prayer life to others requires something other than an organic response to others’ needs.  It must be willed.

Last year, as a method of deepening my own prayer, of forcing me to go beyond the ordinary and the organically inspired, I offered to pray for whosoever asked, every day on my Facebook feed. Admittedly, I felt more than a little awkward, posting the question, “May I pray with you?” I knew I had friends who were atheists, friends who didn’t pray, and folks who were friends of friends, who didn’t think much of religion, much less prayer.

As with all things with God, what we receive is always more than we asked, and in excess of what we expect.  I had planned to just post the link each day during Lent, but the needs kept coming, such that the practice became almost expected.  Over the course of the first forty days, the asking grew easier every time I asked, and harder those times I forgot. Acquaintances became friends, friends grew closer, and people I’d not known well became people I wished I’d known better sooner.  People who didn’t pray, asked for prayers.

People who met only because of the petitioning, began praying for each other. When a crisis occurred (and several did), people rallied, both in tangible and spiritual acts of prayer for those they never met in real life, except through the daily dialogue of Facebook.  It became a virtual community.

Some days, the stories hurt; a son struggling with mental illness, a suicide, a car accident, a flood, a divorce, an incurable disease, a death.  Other times, the petitions rang like songs; for graduates, weddings, babies and birthdays.

A year later, I stopped posting daily but it felt like I’d left a critical part of my day off the to-do list.  Something in me refused, despite discovering friends, watching the fruit of answered prayers and knowing we should be praying with and for each other constantly, to continue the practice except when inspired.  Like a runner who stops running, and finds the need to lessen after a time, I found myself slack.

My own will remained insufficient to the task to restart the habit.  Finally, it came to my dimmed soul, to ask for help praying.  To ask my guardian angel to pray, ask my confirmation saint, ask favorite saints, ask those I love who died before me. Ask those who prayed with me during the year. Even the Gospel that week reminded me, “Hey, doofus, ask!” It grew easier, but it wasn’t until I received the gift of someone else’s prayers that I understood something of what that year meant to those who asked for petitions for themselves.

That particular week included a car accident, a trip to the ER for one child, and the normal turmoil parents endure from adolescents (three different ones) on three different nights. We faced worry, frustration, and no small amount of exhaustion. I felt beyond spent. My heart wailed.

The words, “They are out of wine,” floated up into my head, and I knew it in my bones.  I typed “May I pray for you today?” into a post, wondering if I could manage a few Hail Mary’s for whoever posted.  Several people typed “Yes,” and added that they would pray for me. I had said nothing about needing prayer.  Here was the Holy Spirit offering consolation, telling their hearts to minister to mine.

The next day, in the mail, came a card from a friend I’ve only known online. She’d spent an hour in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament for my family.  She didn’t know all the scrapes and emotional bruises of my week, but the Holy Spirit tapped her on the heart to pray for me, and she’d prayed.  I felt so grateful, that little card buoyed me all day and into the next three.  I looked at it and reread it, and considered the reality, what a gift she’d given.

We cannot know all the crosses each person carries, but we can like Simon, help carry them by our prayers.  We cannot heal every ill, or solve every problem, but we can minister to those suffering like Veronica, with our petitions.  We can weep with the women who wept.  We can stay awake in the garden with the one who feels alone, even if it’s only online. One almost feels giddy at the idea of countless people, offering their prayers for people’s sufferings, for their cares.  Imagine, if we all knew, other people were praying for us, for our lives to be blessed. Prayer for others is the gift of time, it is the gift of love.  It is always an offering of self, willing the good, willing God’s will for someone else.

The prayer card from my friend remains in my purse.  Her gift brought me back to my own weakness.   I needed to cease needing to feel it, in order to do it daily.

The understanding came while encouraging my twelve-year old daughter to study for exams. I told her “None of us want to take tests, all of us endure them.”  Most preparation for any test involved being willing to put in the time. Leaving her to her studies, I thought about other disciplines: exercise, cleaning up, reading, writing, parenting, relationships.  Everything in life of deeper value, required a form of daily discipline, irrespective of feeling.

I could almost see Saint Peter rolling his eyes at me and giving a not so subtle clearing of the throat to point out where the defect in my own prayer life lay. Most of what is required of any of us in cooperating with God’s will is willing our will to be His.

“Be serious and sober minded so that you will be able to pray.” “Be serious.” I thought about the discipline of exercise, study, and writing. People who are serious about fitness worked out daily, no matter what.  People serious about scholarship, researched beyond the minimum.  Writers wrote daily, inspired or not. No excuses. People serious about a friendship with God, they need to talk and listen daily. “Be sober,” was a not so subtle hit over the head, not to dwell in the land of feeling with respect to my relationship with God and willingness to pray.  I needed to “just do it.”

Praying with others and for others, changes how one prays and why one prays.  We begin by praying for the person’s intentions, we grow in prayer to the point of praying for the person his or herself.  Pray even when you don’t feel it because this world aches and bleeds and mourns.  This world needs more prayer, not less, more people praying the good of others, not fewer.

Trust the Holy Spirit to bring great good out of all that we offer and know that offering and actually engaging in prayer for others fulfills both the mission and creates the missionary community. God uses prayer as a means to bring us always into deeper relationship with Him, and each other. END QUOTES

The Catholic Church is everywhere, really. (Re-blogged)

The Catholic Church
is everywhere, really.

Her footprints and fingerprints
can be found all over the world
and throughout history.

You can’t even drink
a cappuccino to escape her.


After all, the word cappuccino
comes from the brown habits
worn by Franciscan friars.

(The hood was referred
to as the cappuccio.)


Nope, you can’t even claim
that science contradicts her.

How about the
Big Bang theory.

You might be surprised to know
that this theory was first proposed by
a Catholic priest, Fr. Georges Lemaître,
although it was later misattributed
to Edwin Hubble.


Fr. Georges suggested that God may
have created the universe through a
“Big Bang,” or what he called the
“expansion of the universe.”

Fr. Georges Lemaître

The secular world benefits from the Church
on a daily basis without even knowing it.

For example, even though none of us want
to be in a hospital, we’re certainly glad
they exist when we need them.


But did you know that the Catholic Church
was the one to invent hospitals
as we know them today?

Early hospitals (we’re talking 4th century)
were called basiliasnamed for Saint Basil—
due to his efforts to establish health care
centers all over the Roman empire.


The world might be hostile
to the truths of the Faith and
the reality of God’s Church, but
the fact iswell, there are some
surprising facts out there.

101, to be precise.

And that’s just for starters.

It’s time to read something
that will delight and inspire you.


Let Fr. Meconi take you through 2,000 years
of amazing achievements by the Church
and her many sons and daughters.

Excellent details I had not
been aware of…great resource

Superb book, high quality and very informative.
The narrative is well written and the art work
wonderful. Highly recommend this book!

Filled with glossy images and
arranged chronologically, this is a
reliable guide through centuries of
Church figures, facts, and fun.

It’s the ultimate Catholic
coffee-table book.


Did you know…?

· It wasn’t Martin Luther who started the Reformation

· One Catholic signed the Declaration of Independence. Who was it?

· The “Devil’s Advocate” is a real position that is still held in the Church. What is this role for?

· There is a man whom the Church considers to be both a great teacher and a heretic. Can you guess who?

· The Catholic Church made great contributions to the study of mathematics. Find out how!

· Catholicism has inspired some of the world’s greatest art. (Michelangelo, anyone?)


“…the Catholic Church has survived
horrible popes and violent dictators, and
has been home to billions of sinners in need
of a community where they could finally
know love,”
 says Father Meconi.

“Each of us is surrounded by Catholic
events and images, often unaware of
how the Faith has formed our culture.”

The Spiritual Life is Still Possible After Motherhood by ALLISON AUTH

The Spiritual Life is Still Possible After Motherhood


“The saints were those who sank themselves in their work, and so sanctified both themselves and it.”

– Hubert van Zeller, Holiness for Housewives (and Other Working Women)

The “Unholy” Years

Ispent a solid four years immersed in postpartum, pregnancy, anxiety, and depression. One of the worst parts of those years was my sense of spiritual failure.

I was constantly at home with babies who seemed to be tearing me away from my spiritual life instead of making my life holier. I struggled with the guilt of not attending daily Mass, not quiet time, neglecting to say my morning offering, or going months without visiting the adoration chapel.

I knew motherhood was supposed to be good and holy, but it didn’t feel that way to me. I wasn’t doing all the external practices that used to make me feel like a good Catholic, so I kept my distance from God.

God was trying to teach me something new in this season of life: that it’s not all about me. I was, in fact, praying more often than I thought, only it didn’t look the way it did when I was a youth minister. St. Thérèse wrote, “For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.” I was looking toward heaven with a cry — that’s for sure! And I was never more aware of my weaknesses and trials than during that time.


What I couldn’t see back then was that those longings to change, even if it felt as if nothing was happening, were indeed changing me over a period of years. In those days of glaring inadequacies, all I could bring to God were my deficiencies. What I didn’t know was that those “nothings” were all that God wanted me to bring.

This article is from a chapter in the book Baby and Beyond. Click image to preview other chapters or to order your copy.

St. Faustina’s spiritual director once told her, “Comport your­self before God like the widow in the Gospel; although the coin she dropped into the box was of little value, it counted far more before God than all the big offerings of others.”

The poor widow, the blind man, the beggar, the prostitute, the good thief: we were all coming to God totally inadequate with nothing grand to give. But that’s precisely when God fills in those empty spaces with His grace and life. It’s in our deficiencies that we give God room to work.

On the other hand, the rich man and the Pharisees: they thought they had it together because they followed the laws and had impressive accomplishments. Only, Jesus couldn’t care less about those accomplishments on their own; He wanted the gift of their whole being in love. He wanted the good and the bad, their successes and failures.

When we are filled with self, and think we’ve got this moth­ering thing down on our own, there is no room for God. When we are emptied of self, then God can fill us with His divine life. It’s in these times of postpartum mother­hood that we experience this self-emptying so poignantly, yet too often we despair and conclude that we must be failing.

But what if that’s just where God wants us to be? What if He wants it to seem as if we are failing at this mothering thing, just so we can realize how much we need Him, in the same way our babies rely on us to meet their needs?

One night, as I was journaling, I wrote that my faith is so weak. God spoke to me through Scripture and reminded me: “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Cor. 12:9).

When I am weak, then He is strong. A postpartum spirituality is the recognition that we are nothing without God. We must bring to God our nothingness and let Him fill the spaces with Himself; His divine life, His grace.

It took me years to figure it out, but He was asking me to find His presence in the ordinary tasks of motherhood.

The Ordinary

In my seventh year of motherhood, with four children at home, my new spiritual director recommended that I read the book The Reed of God by Caryll Houselander. I had shared with this priest that I struggled to relate to Mary in my motherhood. She seemed aloof to me, too perfect to imitate. All my life I had wanted to love her as others around me did, but it didn’t come easy. Then I read this book, and a whole new way of looking at Mary was opened to me.

Mary’s life was actually very ordinary, much like mine. We don’t know the details of her life, but we can imagine they were similar to ours — nursing in the middle of the night, teaching the baby Jesus to walk, talk, and obey Joseph. She was a homemaker, shopping in the village and preparing meals for her family. She supported Joseph in his work as a carpenter. Nazareth was a small, lowly town. Nothing good or fancy would come from there, others had said (see John 1:46). Caryll Houselander wrote:

Yes, it certainly seemed that God wanted to give the world the impression that it is ordinary for Him to be born of a human creature.

Well, that is a fact. God did mean it to be the ordinary thing, for it is His will that Christ shall be born in every human being’s life and not, as a rule, through extraordi­nary things, but through the ordinary daily life and the human love that people give to one another.

Caryll Houselander, The Reed of God

Even though, while caring for an infant, there are times when Christ seems far from you and quiet time seems hard to come by, Christ is actually very near. Christ is as close to you as He was to Mary when she was caring for Him — changing His diapers and shushing His crying.

To be like Christ is to grow in love, and other than the marital embrace, there is no human love like a mother’s love for her child. She gives of herself over and over again, without asking anything in return. So that yes to God in caring for your children imitates Mary in her yes to God in caring for Jesus.

Finding God at Home

As my frame of mind shifted from praying in church to praying at home, I had to figure out what that would look like. I now know that if God wanted motherhood to be filled with holy hours and church events, He wouldn’t have created babies to be so needy. But your baby needs you the way you need God, meaning all the time! Then I came upon the book Holiness for Housewives, written by Hubert van Zeller, a priest who was a spiritual director to many housewives. His simple guidance helped me to see the holiness in my everyday chores.

The only thing that really matters in life is doing the will of God. . . . Your whole business is still to look for God in the midst of all this [housework, daily tasks, and so forth]. You will not find Him anywhere else. If you leave your dishes, your housekeeping, your telephone calls, your children’s everlasting questions, your ironing, and your invitations to take care of themselves while you go off and search for our Lord’s presence in prayer, you will discover nothing but self. . . .

So it is idle for you to complain about the drawbacks to spirituality that you find in your particular vocation. There is nothing that you are up against that God has not given you the grace to surmount. You can, if you want, turn the monotony and the drudgery and the distraction into an expression of love.

In her diary, St. Faustina recounts her struggle, while on kitchen duty, to drain the pot of boiled potatoes. The pot was too heavy for her, and often the potatoes spilled out. So she began to avoid the potatoes at all cost, and the sisters noticed. What they didn’t notice was that St. Faustina was willing and wanted to drain the potatoes but lacked the strength. She prayed to God about her weakness, and He told her He would give her the strength starting tomorrow. The next day, St. Faustina volunteered to drain the potatoes and accomplished it with ease. When she lifted the lid, she discovered the pot was filled with roses, and she heard a voice within her say, “I change such hard work of yours into bouquets of most beautiful flowers, and their perfume rises up to my throne.

Motherhood offers us the same opportunity: to turn our scrubbing toilets and changing diapers into bouquets of flow­ers. I was reminded of this once when I was steam cleaning the floors and Timothy, a five-year-old at the time, saw the steam rising off the mop head. He told me that if I put prayers on the steam, they would rise to heaven like incense. How wonderful a thought — my prayers rising to heaven on steam while I clean the floor!

“Your whole purpose, then, is to work out a way of praying that directs every effort towards God — and to work out a way of directing effort so that everything becomes a prayer.”

Van Zeller, Holiness for Housewives

And even though the quiet times seem few and far between, I have surprisingly discovered over the years that there is a lot of time to be contemplative in raising children, as my thoughts rise to heaven while I do my ordinary, everyday chores.

This article is adapted from a chapter in Allison Auth’s latest book, Baby and Beyond: Overcoming Those Post-Childbirth Woes. It is available as a paperback or ebook from your favorite bookstore or online through Sophia Institute Press.

You can read an excerpt of Dom Van Zeller’s Holiness for Housewives here on CE, in the article “Let God Enrich Your Free Time.

The Winter of My Soul by Tim McGee

The Winter of My Soul

by Tim McGee

It is winter
With the sharpened beauty of a double-edged sword
A blanket of icy frost sparkles even in the dimmest light
Yet the chill of passing through it unnerves me
Forged and polished treasure separating joint and marrow
Justly judging mind and heart
My stony heart is no match for hardened alloy
Pierced so to root out what does not lead to You
A wound intended to reveal the fullness of Your beauty
A redemptive suffering to prepare for Your glory
Grant me Your strength as You purify me
Through the winter of my soul