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Premier Issue! August, 1997
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“A MOTHER’S PLACE ON THE NET”
There are a lot of mailing lists and cybersites of interest on the net today, but where’s a traditional Catholic mom to go to re-affirm Orthodox teachings and learn a variety of resources related to the faith? How about "The Catholic Mother’s Internet Connection" - http://www.qni.com/~catholic/mom.htm. This cybersite has been around for just over a year and has attracted thousands of traditional, orthodox Roman Catholic mothers on a surfing quest for good Catholic sites. The site has a variety of helpful resources, including: a list of traditional Roman Catholic websites to visit, a list of helpful practices that mothers may wish to establish within the home to teach the kids the Faith, a resource list of helpful books to establish a traditional Roman Catholic home library, a listing of sacramentals and other items mothers should have around the home and how to obtain them, and an opportunity to join a traditional Catholic mom’s email discussion group. The “Cathmoms” email group has grown to over 225 moms from around the world! Traditional Catholic moms of all ages are invited to join this exciting forum for discussing topics related to child-rearing and the Catholic faith.
Stop on by “The Catholic Mother’s Internet Connection” for a good dose of traditional and orthodox Catholic information!
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"WHY I CAN’T SAY A DAILY ROSARY....."
The Rosary is one of those traditional and momentous devotions that has been receiving less and less focus of late. The Post Vatican II generation of baby-boomers who’ve gone through inadequate Catholic schools and CCD programs often don’t even know how to say the Rosary properly. But the incredible need for us to continue saying the Daily Rosary, as requested in the approved apparitions at Fatima, must bring us back to this critical practice. In my travels and discussions at various Catholic workshops and gatherings, I get many excuses why the daily Rosary is so no longer prayed. I’m here to debunk these many excuses and provide practical hints to overcome each reason why it’s impossible to say the Daily Rosary.
EXCUSE #1: “I don’t know how to say a Rosary!” This is a popular one with the Post Vatican II folks who have forgotten or who never learned the proper format to say the Rosary. This one is pretty easy to get around - I was there myself several years ago. Just grab a leaflet or booklet with the prayers of the Rosary and carry it with you until you eventually get the prayers memorized. There are some terrific online places where you can get more information on the Rosary - just do a search on the title and you’ll find lots. Some will offer free literature upon request about the Rosary and how to say it.
EXCUSE #2: “I don’t have the time!” Well, to say a five decade Rosary, it only takes about 15 minutes out of your day, and you don’t have to even say all of it at once. Traditionally, the Joyful Mysteries are done on Mondays and Thursdays, Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesdays and Fridays, and Glorious Mysteries on Wednesdays and Saturdays, with alternation between the three mysteries on Sundays. You can split the decades of the 5-decade Rosary up throughout your day if it’s too difficult to find a straight 15 minute block of time. Lots of friends have found that praying the Rosary in the car at various times during the day or while commuting is also a good time to include a daily Rosary. Regardless, if you have time to listen to a morning news program, an favorite evening sitcom, or time to surf the net and spend hours in chat rooms or email discussion forums, then you’ve got time to say at least a 5 decade Rosary a day! ; )
EXCUSE #3: “I don’t get anything out of the Rosary” Somewhere along the line we’ve acquired the misconception that in order for prayer to be successful, it must ‘feel good’. Not all prayer will be a glorious and emotionally charged experience which allows us to feel warm fuzzies. Most prayer, in fact, is often ‘dry and arid’ feeling - but it is nonetheless very efficacious. When Our Lady gave the devotion of the Rosary to St. Dominic and later asked that we say it daily at Fatima, nowhere did She stipulate that we should pray the daily Rosary ‘if we get something out of it’ or ‘if it makes us feel good’. Her request was very simple - pray the daily Rosary - period! No other words were needed. We must do it for the simplest reason of all: She’s our mother and She asked us to do it. Our Lady never said we had to experience warm emotions every time we say the Rosary in order for it to be an effective channel of grace and blessings for us and for those for whom we pray.
These are the top three reasons that I hear explaining why we can’t seem to get back into the habit of praying a daily Rosary. The best remedy is this: ask the Blessed Mother to help you make this a staple of your daily prayer life and ask Her to show you how to do it. She will not fail in answering your request and you’ll soon find your spiritual life improving by leaps and bounds.
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STARTING EUCHARSTIC ADORATION - A STEP by STEP APPROACH
The Holy Father has requested that all parishes begin Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration (P.E.A.). This is a request that he implemented years ago when he started P.E.A. at St. Peter’s in Rome as an example. What is P.E.A.? It is the continual exposition and adoration of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The faithful are invited to sign up for a specific Eucharistic Adoration Holy Hour each week. There are a variety of ways that P.E.A. can be established within your parish. I’m here to share how we were able to get it going in our very young, Post Vatican II parish. Within our parish of young married couples and young families, most were not even familiar with the term “Eucharisitic Adoration” a few years ago. So starting up P.E.A was a monumental process which literally required years of education and recruiting.
We began several years ago by approaching our pastor and requesting an opportunity for weekly Eucharistic Adoration on Thursday evenings from 7 - 10 p.m. We already had several parishioners signed up and committed to each hour. When our Pastor saw that we had already arranged for coverage of the three hours a week, he readily agreed. Most of the time, he would come over and do the exposition and reposition of the Blessed Sacrament. On nights when he was unable to do so, a Eucharistic Minister was assigned the duty. The three hours a week worked well for many parishioners and after a few years, we were able to expand the program. Next we requested that we add daily opportunities for Eucharistic Adoration: Mon - Fri from 9 am to noon. Once again, we already had a handful of adorers committed to each hour, so the pastor agreed. As time progressed and an increased awareness of Eucharistic Adoration began to expand, we finally were ready to ask for the biggie: Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration. P.E.A requires a huge commitment on the part of a parish, because once it is instigated, it should not be discontinued. Slowly and prayerfully over the course of a few months, our parish prepared to begin the endeavor on January 1st.
Both priests were instrumental in encouraging the parish members to sign up for weekly Holy Hours during their sermons on “Sign Up Sunday”. After three weeks of sign-ups after all the Masses, we were able to begin PEA on January 1st, 1997! It has continued since then with occasional obstacles which we’ve prayerfully been able to overcome.
There are a number of wonderful websites on the net devoted to helping you begin P.E.A. in your parish - here is one you might want to check out:
http://www.pitt.edu/~aagst8/a.html - "The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist" website
These websites provide invaluable resources on how to properly get P.E.A. going, including the necessary forms needed for Sign-Up Sunday. The important thing to remember is that every parish should have some opportunity for weekly Eucharistic Adoration, and that often just requires a handful of enthusiastic parishioners who are willing to approach the pastor and ask. Once some form of weekly Eucharistic Adoration opportunities are established, it is then a natural progression to eventually get P.E.A. going as well.
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LETTERS to the EDITOR and OP/ED WRITERS NEEDED!
How something you’d like to get off your chest about a certain issue related to the Faith? Did you read something in Totally Catholic Ezine to which you’d like to respond or add ? Why not pen a Letter to the Editor or your own Opinion/Editorial and send it to me? I’ll print it in the next issue!
TRADITIONAL CATHOLIC CYBERSITES of INTEREST
Yes, “Call to Action” and a number of other liberal so-called ‘catholic’ organizations have websites now, but let’s not overlook the many wonderful Catholic sites which are totally devoted to the Pope and Rome. Of course, you probably all know about “E.W.T.N.” and “CatholiCity”, so I’m starting off this section to include more obscure, smaller sites you may not know about yet. Here are some of my favorites, and please email me with any additions you’d like to see in this section for our next issue:
The Immaculata Home Page (has nice apologetics information)
Fire4JC Homepage (has lots of neat prayers to download and print)
The Catholic Kiosk (a beautiful site with lots of interesting links to explore that are well catagorized)
“A CASE FOR NATURAL FAMILY PROCREATION” by Maria Compton-Hernandez
It wasn’t until my husband, Michael, and I decided we wanted to have a baby that we learned about the Creighton Model of Natural Family Planning, also known as The Ovulation Method. I had come to the realization that I knew nothing about my own fertility, so getting pregnant seemed a rather formidable task. A dear friend shared some information about Creighton Model NFP, and my eyes were opened to the realization that it was not “the rhythm method” anymore. Michael and I attended the introductory session together, and decided it sounded like just what we were looking for to truly plan our family.
The NFP sessions are taught by practitioners who have been schooled in the methodology of the Ovulation Method. The follow up sessions consist of 8 meetings over the course of the first year’s use, followed by yearly follow-ups as needed. The couple attends the sessions together, so that the husband can become involved in specifics related to charting daily signs of cervical mucus, which is the key to the identification of times of fertility and infertility. The classes stress the need for both spouses to acknowledge their combined fertility, so that responsibility is not placed solely on either the wife or the husband, as is the case with all forms of artificial contraception and sterilization.
Through the classes, we were quickly able to gain a rapid understanding of the signs of fertility I was previously oblivious to! We have used the Creighton Model of NFP for nearly ten years through a variety of life changes, including: achieving a pregnancy, post-partum, breastfeeding and annovulatory (temporarily not having cycles), avoiding/spacing pregnancies, post miscarriage, and even through a difficult time of infertility problems. Through it all, the Creighton Model provided us with the information we needed to make the necessary decisions regarding our family planning considerations. I was able to gain a wealth of knowledge about my own cycles through charting, and was even able to correctly diagnose the infertility problems (low post-ovulatory progesterone level) from my own charting and seek appropriate medical intervention, which corrected the problem and prevented another miscarriage.
The logistics of charting are very simple and even the busiest of moms can do it. It consists of checking for the most fertile signs of cervical mucus which may be present at several times throughout the day (when a woman normally would use the restroom). Keeping the chart (recording the most fertile sign at the end of each day) is something that can actively assist the husband in becoming more involved in the method. Whether it is the husband or the wife who makes the daily chart recordings, the important thing is that both partners fully understand the implications of what is being charted. The Creighton Model NFP chart is very visual, including stickers which correspond with the daily recordings and provide for a simple glance to see if the day is fertile or infertile. We keep our chart in a place where it is easy for both of us to access so that there are no “surprises” when the lights go out about if it’s a “safe” time for intimacy or not. . We both know from day to day if we are fertile or not, and base our actions accordingly.
One of the things that attracted me to the use of this particular method is that there are no thermometers. The best sign of fertility is cervical mucus, and so the charting is based solely on this most reliable sign, as temperatures can often prove to be effected by outside circumstances. For a busy woman, finding no need to fiddle with thermometers was an added convenience to using the method. We have found through ten years of use that the method is truly reliable in avoiding/spacing a pregnancy. Statistics show that, used appropriately with adequate instruction, this form of NFP is nearly 99% effective to avoid a pregnancy. It is a sobering thought for us, though, when we see our time of fertility come and go during cycles when we wish to avoid a pregnancy. It is, after all , forgoing the creation of a new soul.
By far, the most exciting time to use NFP is to achieve a pregnancy. It is quite a thrill to be able to adequately pinpoint the time of ovulation with such certainty that 75% of couples who use the method to achieve a pregnancy will do so the first cycle, 90% of couples within 3 cycles, and all couples without fertility problems by the 6th cycle. While the average couple often will “hit and miss” for months trying to achieve a pregnancy, even without fertility problems, the Creighton Model allows for timely planning of pregnancies when necessary. Being a school teacher, I was able to plan pregnancies to coincide with the school year, thus granting me an extended maternity leave during the summers off. There is nothing so joyful as seeing a successful pregnancy achieved through my own chart. As the days go by and there is no sign of a menses, the delight of taking an in-home pregnancy test is something I treasure with each child.
The incredible wealth of knowledge which a couple gains by using NFP goes far beyond the physiological information gained about the couple’s reproductive systems. There is a deeper calling for NFP couples, as they acknowledge that they are truly giving all decisions regarding the size of their family to God Almighty, and cooperating with His plans by acting on the use of knowledge given to them through the daily charting. The wonderful added benefit of increased communication between spouses can be seen by the fact that less than 2% of NFP couples get divorced. The health benefits of being able to spot possible health problems, as well as avoiding the use of chemicals, drugs, devices and surgery, are drawing in a large percentage of non-Catholics to become Creighton Model NFP users today. Their is also an abundance of information which can be gained from charting that proves extremely helpful in dealing with a variety of forms of infertility. Since infertility has risen to about 20% of all couples, this method has proved to be another successful tool in diagnosement and treatment.
NFP has become a way of life in our home. My daughters occasionally will see me doing my observations (mothers rarely get to go to the bathroom alone with little ones around!), and I take those opportunities to educate them on a most simplified level about what it all means. Fr. Torraco spoke of the “mysticism of charting” in his article. This term immediately made sense to me. There is no greater wonder for a couple than knowing that on any given day they have the knowledge which will enable them to make decisions about whether or not they will have a baby. What an incredible gift this knowledge is. I have heard naysayers comment on what a burden it must be to have to chart everyday. This would only be true if you consider knowledge a burden. NFP liberates us as Catholic couples, giving us the extraordinary awareness of understanding the gift of procreation which the Father so generously bestows on us.
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SAINT OF THE MONTH
St. Maria Goretti (1890-1902). Born near Acona, Italy on October 16, she was the daughter of a farmworker. She suffered martyrdom when she was stabbed to death on July 6 by Alexander Serenelli, son of her father’s partner. He resided in the Goretti home and had long tried to seduce the beautiful young maiden, who had vowed her chastity to Our Lord. She was canonized for her purity in 1950 by Pope Pius XII in the presence of her murderer, who completely reformed his life after he had a vision of Maria. Her feast day is commemorated on the day of her martyrdom, July 6. She is recognized as a saint of Purity and the Youth. (SOURCE: Dictionary of the Saints by John J. Delaney, 1980 , Doubleday Books)
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About the Editor: Maria Compton-Hernandez is a Catholic author and lecturer. Her books include, “The Catholic Mother’s Resource Guide’ is a best-seller for Faith Publications, “A Crash Course in Apologetics for Catholic Mothers”, and "The Catholic Parent's Guide to the Internet".
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