Thursday, July 9, 2015

Catholic Confession and the Gift of Reconciliation

According to the Catholic Bible Dictionary, by Dr. Scott Hahn, "repentance" is "a conversion of heart away from sin and toward God". So, it would likewise follow that if we are not repenting, we are living in sin and our hearts are turned away from God. Even if you are a regular "confession-goer", is there one sin - or maybe more than one - that gnaws at you from the deepest part of your soul?

It could be something from your past that you've even justified in saying you really didn't know what you were doing at the time. But then why does it continue to gnaw at you like a hunger pain? Your soul hungers for God, as we came from Him so we will return to Him, so it is intuitive that when we become aware of our sins - past or present - our souls become unsettled. We cannot expect to grow further in Christ with a tremendous weight pulling us down and farther from Him. In other words, you may feel that you are not growing in your faith and it may be because of an unrepented past sin holding you back from moving forward. Christ does not want us to be stagnant Catholics. We are a living, breathing Church - the living, breathing body of Christ!

As Catholics, we are so fortunate to have at our disposal the gift of the sacrament of reconciliation. Jesus is in the confessional, and He hears our confession, and He knows our hearts. It is vitally important - as in vital to our eternal livelihood - that we visit Christ in the confessional and repent of our sins through the priest.

Christ charged his apostles with this when He told them in Matthew 18:18,
"Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on Earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on Earth shall be loosed in heaven."

This is one of our seven sacraments - and a very underused one at that! And just why exactly is that???  I'll tell you why! It's not so easy to walk into a confessional with a priest you may know well and tell him something you've done that you are really ashamed of. It's just not easy! I will tell you that priests have heard it all! They are there to help you, not condemn you. The mercy of God is infinite and the priest is there to help you receive it - just as the apostles were. If you really would rather not visit your parish priest, remember that you probably have another Catholic church near you that you could visit. But go! Run! Don't walk!!!

You will not believe the unbelievably huge burden that will be lifted from your soul when you confess your sins. It is tough to get in your car, drive to the church, stand in line for confession, and think of your sins. That stinky old thing called "pride" tends to get in the way. Our pride is very strong - especially in this day and age of relativism. We tell ourselves that we're okay - everything's okay, everybody's okay, we're all okay! ... And nobody confesses their sins. It's archaic, right? Wrong! Nothing about Jesus is archaic for he is eternal, right?

Visit a confessional. You will thank God you did! Literally, you will walk out thanking God for his mercy. I usually leave a confessional like a dog leaves a bathtub - shaking off the last bit of dirt and then running and jumping for joy! That is how you will feel. Help yourself grow in your faith by shedding those past sins. They are only weighing you down. Don't let pride get the best of you. If you're still sitting on the fence, let me give you a visual. Remember where Satan ended up because of his pride?  Yeah, I thought that visual would help. That's not a good option! Go on, find out when your local parishes offer the sacrament of reconciliation and go cleanse your soul!!!

God bless you all and your families and remember you can connect with me more readily through my Facebook page,   "THE CATHOLIC LIFE"

Sincerely,  Katherine

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Jesus' Death and Burial Sites: Where Exactly Are They?

"Sepulchre: A small room or monument, cut in rock or built of stone, in which a dead person is laid or buried"

How is it that so many Christians are unaware of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre? I don't really have an answer to that, but I'm positive many do not know what it is or that it exists!

How would you feel if I said you could walk up to Calvary and see the spot where Jesus' cross went into the ground? What if I told you that you could then walk a short distance to the tomb where Jesus was laid to rest? Now how would you feel if you found out that they were in such close proximity to each other that it is all enclosed by a massive church? That's right - The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is alive and well in Jerusalem.

A birdseye view of the Church

I think when I first found this bit of information out, my mind was blown! I guess that I figured you could maybe go to the approximate spot where Christ was crucified, but the actual tomb? And it's all under the same roof? Now what about the actual stone where Jesus was laid to be prepared for burial, immediately after death? That's right you can see that stone. And it too is under the same roof! This is the stone our Lord's body was laid upon and was prepared for burial. Surely, Our Lady touched this stone as well? How many of her tears fell here?

The actual stone!

Remember the wealthy man Joseph of Arimathea who requested Jesus' body? He felt it should be properly prepared for burial, and he felt Jesus should be laid to rest in his (Joseph's) own tomb.

"And when evening had come, since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus."  Mark 15:42-43

Holy Saturday at the tomb of Jesus

Here is a photo of the entrance to the tomb of Jesus. Can you imagine being in there? Can you imagine what you would feel?

"Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb where no one had ever been laid."  John 19:41

All awesomeness right there!

I think it is a bit shocking to find out for the first time it is all under the same roof. The distance from the cross to the grave was not a huge one. Perhaps, he could have seen the tomb from the cross?  What would Jesus have seen from his view?  He would have seen the people down below him jeering him. He would have seen the Roman guards completely at ease with what was going on - casting lots for his garments. He would have seen his beloved apostle John, Mary Magdalene, and his mother, the Virgin Mary, there at the foot of the cross crying... praying.

Mosaic inside the church

You can go there to Jerusalem and see this all. It's definitely on my bucket list! I might add that if you are thinking of going on a pilgrimage, look into going on one with Steve Ray or Fr. Mitch Pacwa.  I've always said that when I get the time and money, I would only go on their tours. Steve Ray is a Catholic convert and apologist. He gives tours to the Holy Land year round. His pilgrimages always look like such fun!!! He usually posts multiple videos from his tours.  Here is the LINK to his website. Fr. Pacwa is a host of multiple shows on EWTN. He is a Jesuit priest and accomplished scholar. Here is the LINK to his events page. It looks like he'll be giving a tour to the Holy Land this upcoming Christmas!

Here are two parting photos showing the floor plan of the church as well as a drawing depicting how the church is built on the actual sites.

God bless!  ~+Katherine

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Holy Thursday and The Upper Room

The mass on Holy Thursday marks the end of Lent and the beginning of the Triduum - from the evening of Holy (Maundy) Thursday to the evening of Easter Sunday.  In the mass,  we celebrate three things: the washing of the feet (signifying a humility to service and the institution of priesthood) just as Jesus washed the feet of his twelve apostles, the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist just as Jesus instructed his apostles to eat his body and drink his blood as the new covenant, and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament just as Jesus instructed his apostles to stay with him and keep watch in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Garden of Gethsemane today

So where did that last meal take place - the famous supper at which Jesus informs his apostles that one of them would betray him, the famous supper at which Jesus institutes the Eucharist, the famous supper at which Jesus institutes the priesthood, the famous supper that which has been painted and interpreted over and over for the last two thousand years?

Well, Scripture tells us in Luke 22: 7-13 ...
Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it." They said to him, "Where will you have us prepare it?" He said to them, "Behold, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him into the house which he enters, and tell the householder, 'The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room, where I am to eat the Passover with my disciples?' And he will show you a large upper room furnished; there make ready." And they went, and found it as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover.

It has traditionally been called the Cenacle - or "supper room" translated from Latin.  It was an upper room in a house in Jerusalem on Mt. Zion.  This upper room was also the same place in which the apostles stayed and prayed after Jesus' Ascension and before Pentecost (when the Holy Spirit entered the room).  It was also the same room in which Jesus appeared to his apostles immediately following his resurrection, showing them his hands, feet, and side. It is the same room in which Jesus instructs his apostles that any sins they forgive will be forgiven and those that are not, will not (thus the institution of the sacrament of reconciliation).  This upper room was key to the early Church.  In fact, many scholars even refer to it as the "first church".  It served as a safe house for Jesus and his beloved apostles in his final hours and the days following his death and resurrection.

Today it is a room you can visit; however, it is a room that was built most likely in the 12th Century on top of the ruins of a 1st century synagogue/church.  Below are a few pictures to give you a better view.  May you all have a blessed Holy Thursday. May your love for Christ grow even more in the next three days!  ~+Katherine

The Upper Room as it probably looked in the 1st Century.

Stairs leading up to the Upper Room today.

Inside the Upper Room today

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Holy Thursday and Judas Iscariot

On my Facebook page this morning I posted a current picture of the site of Judas Iscariot's suicide.  I think at this time of year, especially, it is imperative that we be as close to Jesus as possible.  Since most of us cannot walk the actual roads he walked, we can at least visit them through cyperspace - thank goodness for the internet!

In Matthew 26:14-16, we read that Judas plots to hand over Jesus to the chief priests. During the last supper, Judas gets up and goes to meet with the priests.  Jesus then goes to the Garden of Gethsemane with the remaining apostles to pray.  While he is there, Judas leads the chief priests, scribes, and elders to Jesus and betrays him with the infamous kiss.  Judas had told them he would identify Jesus with a greeting of a kiss on the cheek. Immediately, Jesus was arrested and crucified the very next day.

Matthew 27: 3-10 describes how Judas feels guilty over Jesus' death sentence.  He goes back to the chief priests with the thirty pieces of silver and says "I have sinned in betraying innocent blood."  Their reply is, "What is that to us?" Basically, they couldn't have cared less.  What was done, was done. Hearing their reply, Judas throws the silver down at their feet, flees, and hangs himself.  Matthew 27: 8 states, "Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day."

Judas is sometimes an overlooked character in these final hours. We tend to look at the big picture, as we should, but he is also very important.  This morning, I saw an old clip of Fr. Benedict Groeschel from EWTN, and he really summed it up best.  You see, God asked for human help through Mary in bringing His own flesh and blood TO earth, and he asked for human help in bringing him FROM earth. He asked for Mary's hand in his birth. He also had human help in his death - not only with the priests, scribes, elders, and the myriad of others, but with one man who betrayed him.  Judas was one of the twelve. Jesus knew it would be Judas who would betray him.

Jesus answered, " It is he to whom I shall give this morsel when I have dipped it." So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Juda, the son of Simon Iscariot. Then after the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, "What you are going to do, do quickly." ~ John 13: 26-27

The Field of Blood exists to this day. A Greek monastery sits on the exact site of Judas' hanging.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Ave Maria!!! Cancer Free!!!

Yesterday, on the Feast of the Annunciation, as we celebrated the announcement of the most wonderful news from Archangel Gabriel to Mary that she would give birth Jesus, the son of God, I received the best news of my life.  I am cancer free!!! The past couple of weeks have been rough as doctors have used words like "very concerned" and "bizarre" when viewing my mammogram images. With four children, and three of them still very young, my mind traveled to the unimaginable.  With so many women being diagnosed with breast cancer, and so many of them not making it, the suspicion of my doctors was unsettling, at the very least.

If I said I am unchanged or life goes on as usual now, I would be lying.  My life is forever changed.  I cherish every moment with my family.  Petty things have become just that - petty.  I see things with different eyes - literally and figuratively.  For example, I notice with much more intensity every leaf on every tree, the breeze, the warmth of the sun, the smells, every movement my children make.  I laugh harder and love more intensely.  For some reason, within the past two years, I have stared down my own mortality.  The first was a horrific miscarriage in September 2013 when I almost bled to death on the floor of my bedroom.  Last week, as I lay on the biopsy table, I couldn't believe I was back in that space.  How was it that I, a reasonably young and healthy mother of four, was staring my own mortality in the face.  It is said that hardships in life are God's way of showing us humility and redirection towards Him.  I have found this to be true!  There is nothing more humbling than almost dying or facing the notion that your life might be ended earlier than you'd like, only to be given that second shot at life. You have a heart filled with gratitude and you can only thank God.

Aside from lessons learned, I did have an amazing, or you could say "awesome", experience during the biopsy.  As I lay on the table, I was experiencing pain and I was scared and began to cry.  It is very uncomfortable and a very unsettling test.  I don't normally have pain in a mammogram, but I did with this. At the moment I thought I might scream or pry myself from the machines, I prayed to Jesus for help.  I immediately saw Jesus in the Eucharist! It was so bright and brilliant.  My body went completely numb.  I felt absolutely nothing.  I was at complete peace.  Seriously, I felt nothing.  The doctor and nurse assured me they were getting a great sample because I was so calm.

As my husband was driving me home, I received a text from a priest friend of mine who gave me a message that carried me through the weekend waiting on the results.  He told me that during Mass, he presented me to "Jesus the Healer".  He said he heard Jesus tell him, "All will be well."  It is no accident that as Father presented me during the sacrifice, I was seeing the Eucharist.  God sees no time or space.  I was sharing in that same sacrifice as part of the Body of Christ, which is THE reason for Mass.  Those words carried me through the weekend and I knew all would be well.  Late yesterday afternoon, I received the wonderful news that indeed all WAS well.  I think I'm still in shock, but I will tell you that nothing will ever be the same.

I want to share an extraordinary short video with you all on the Mass.  There is a particular quote in there that made me cry when I saw it over the weekend.

"Without doubt, the Lord grants all favors which are asked of Him in Mass, provided they be fitting for us." ~ St. Jerome

It too was not a coincidence that I would see this over the weekend.  God is always in conversation with us, we just need to listen.  Life is so precious and as always, I place my life in God's hands.  Praise God!!!  Thank you Jesus!!!  Ave Maria!!!  Hail Mary!!!

Go make today the best day of your life!!!  ~Katherine

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Brilliance of Spring and the Life Jesus Brings

Are we living each moment of our lives - really living them - and savoring all that God has given us?  Do we see the beauty around us? Well, down here in South Florida a usually obscured and often overlooked tree comes center stage.  Every year, I drive around my town like a crazy woman on a mission to find as many of these blooming trees as possible ... because the magic only happens once a year!

It is a "yellow tab" or Tabebuia Chrysotricha.  I search and search to see if I can spot all of them because I don't want to miss this annual colorful show - and it is always around Easter time - which is perfect. They are so beautiful up against the blue sky!  The yellow is so brilliant that they stand out from areas of the street that you've never even noticed before.  The rest of the year, their leaves are a silvery green, the trunk is pretty scrubby, and they really just blend into all the greenery.  You'd never notice them the other eleven months of the year.  But it's difficult not to notice this!

They are like God telling us that Easter is around the corner and Jesus lives!  These trees are so vibrant, you can't help but think of life and the living and everything you're living for.  They speak to my soul.  They just put a smile on my face.  Wherever you are, even if there is snow on the ground right now, seek out the beginnings of Spring when it comes.  It is revival, new beginnings, and life.  This too is what Jesus brings us: revival, new beginnings, and life!  May God continue to bless you all during this Lenten season, and may you see God in all you encounter each day.  Easter is around the corner!!!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Early Spring Gardening in South Florida

By the time you read this, it will be March 1st, and as I sit here and look out the window at the rain, I am reminded that our intense summer rains and scorching heat are just around the corner.  March is the time to fertilize!!!  March is the time to get out there and do heavy gardening, preparing your yard and gardens for the summer.  This will include raking, fertilizing, and sanding the grass, trimming hedges back by about a third, and fixing all your garden beds.  You should probably also look into saving money for a company to come out in May or June to trim your trees for hurricane season.

For the lawn ...

We have three large live oaks on the property and they drop all their leaves twice a year.  I've been raking for the past couple of months!  All those leaves will completely destroy your lawn.  They are too heavy and dense for the sun and rain to reach the grass, so you will need to get out there and rake those off your lawn.  As soon as you rake, hit your grass with a Southern weed & feed.  This will kill the weeds that have crept in during the holidays.

After raking and weed & feed, look for bare patches in your grass and fill them in with play sand.  Yes, you read that right.  Go get a few bags of play sand from Home Depot and pour it on the bare spots.  Rake it smooth and within a few weeks, your grass will shoot runners all over the top of the sand filling it in nicely.  It's so easy for our lawn to have its soil depleted down here with all the rain and the electric blowers.  Those blowers are great for getting debris off your lawn, but they're also great at blowing away your soil.  Our Florida grass grows best in sand, so don't be shy with it!  This year, we are going to have to order a dump truck of sand to be delivered to our property - yes, the oaks have done that much damage!

Now that you've taken care of your lawn, walk your property and take a good look at your garden beds.  Is the soil depleted?  Is there any mulch left?  What do your plants look like?  My garden beds are in dire shape.  The oak leaves have really wreaked havoc this past year, so my garden beds look dingy and tired and my lawn is in bad need of sanding.  Just last week, I completely overhauled a corner garden bed of ours and would like to share with you the process I used & always use when fixing my beds.

Here is a step-by-step for a garden bed ...

Rake out all the leaves and pull any weeds or old/dead plants.  Assess the size plot you have and map out how many plants you would like to put back in (you might want to make a drawing & bring it with you to the garden center).  In my case, I bought three different colors/types of flowers - blue, red, and lavender.  You also want to consider the color of greenery - there are dark greens, sage greens, and yellow-greens.  Consider the colors with the color of your house and driveway/walkway.

Dig holes where you want the new plants to go - wider than the plant and as deep as the plant is.  You may want to water the soil before digging to loosen it up a bit.  Digging in South Florida can be difficult as you will encounter rock, shells, and roots of neighboring plants or trees.  If you're having a lot of trouble, you may have to step back a minute, take a look at your garden, and rethink you map of plants.  Keep in mind that if you are planting plants in a row, you can dig a trench and place the plants in.  Either way, back fill after you plant them and push the soil down around the plant so that there are no air pockets.  Once all the plants are in the ground and planted, shake some fertilizer pellets around the base of all the plants.  I used Miracle-Gro for flowering plants.  Water the plants to moisten the ground and the fertilizer.

Next, grab those heavy bags of mulch and begin adding the mulch an inch or two thick around all the plants.  I like to use cypress mulch as it is natural to our area and has a pretty color and nice smell.  I don't like the "colored" mulches as they lose their color and that color ends up in our soil, canals, and water.  Try to find something natural.  Another nice one is eucalyptus.  Don't completely smother the base of the plant - you want it to breathe a bit.  Once the mulching is done.  Step back and admire your new garden!  Finally, you can add in the fun touches like statues, garden flags, a potted plant, stepping stones, small garden gates, bird baths, etc.

If you're a Catholic family like me, you will have small children at home who will want to be in on the project.  I suggest doing the bulk of the work on your own, but plan something they can do to help.  My four year old daughter dug holes and put the flowers in.  She had an absolute ball!!!  Remember to add in small garden features that will be fun for children such as a walking path, a fairy house, a frog home, etc.  This will promote a love of gardening with your children that will last a lifetime.

Here are my befores and afters:

BEFORE #1:  Looking from my house's walkway down onto the corner garden.
It's looking tired, lacks color, and does absolutely nothing to enhance my home.

BEFORE #2: Looking towards the house onto the garden.
I had a lot of leaves to remove - as well as the old red flowers (their time had sadly come).
The red flowers were vinca - or periwinkle.  They thrive anywhere - great for So.FL!

The new side entrance to the garden.  Mostly used by the kids :)
The new red flowers are begonias and the blue ones are lobelia.

Looking down on the garden from the house's walkway.
I made this small area of stone set in sand because of water run-off
from the house during our heavy rains.  If I mulch here, the mulch just
runs all down into the bottom of the garden as it's a slight decline down the yard.

Another view from above - a new garden flag adds color to any garden!
The green grassy plant is liriope, which is VERY hardy.  If you fertilize it, it will
bloom in July with little purple flowers.

Up close shot of the stones in sand.  The plants in pots are old - had them for years!
They are society garlic and I still need to give them a bit of attention!  They will also bloom  light purple.

A child's view of the garden entrance … a charming stepping stone to greet them,
as well as flowers of varying colors and a bunny await their arrival!

Along the front of the garden, you can see solar lights, the new walking path
for the children, the new garden gate, and some touches of purple.
What do you think?  I would love to hear your comments either here or on the Facebook page!!!

Don't let gardening intimidate you no matter where you live.  Do your research on native plants to your area, assess your yard and garden, and make a game plan!  Some things will fail, that's okay … but you will have fun in the process and you will learn.  Go spend some time in the dirt and you will spend time with God.  He is there in all His marvelous creation!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Roast Chicken with Potatoes 'n Onions

Hey there!  How are you all doing with your Lenten journey?  On a previous blog, I wrote about keeping yourself healthy - mind, body, and soul.  It all goes together.  You can't leave one of those components out.  Here is a delicious, filling, and nutritious recipe for your family.  It is earthy and real and you will have so much satisfaction knowing you made it all yourself.  It has the winning combination - meat and potatoes but without the fat from red meat.

I have been making this roast chicken recipe now for years and it is definitely a favorite of my family's, as well as being a favorite of guests.  You just can't beat that earthy flavor of roasted meat and potatoes.  Soooooooo comforting and oh so yummy!!!  Since I am learning how to add recipes to my blog, please bear with me as I do not yet have a "print"button with the recipes. I guess y'all will just have to copy it down by hand!  *gasp*  No, I promise I will learn how to get that pesky feature on the blog for easy printing.  Without further ado…

Roast Chicken with Potatoes 'n Onions

4 lb (approx) roasting chicken
Spice mix (salt, pepper, sage, thyme)
Olive oil
Yukon gold potatoes (about 5 good size potatoes)
1 large white onion ( I like sweet onions )
1 lemon
1 cup white wine (can use cooking wine)

Buy a roasting chicken that is somewhere around 4 lbs.  I have bought larger, but it's difficult to find them too much larger when you're buying free range ones organic ones.

These spices are all you need for this bird!!!

Prepare your spice mix in a small bowl and set aside:
2 T kosher salt
1/2 - 1 t pepper (however much pepper you like)
1 t dry sage (I usually just eyeball it - you could use more here too)
1 t dry thyme (same as sage)

Here is the spice mixture all mixed together.

On a cutting board, cut a lemon and a large onion into wedges.

I did not have a large enough onion on hand - you can add another small onion.
I just went with this as I was in a hurry!

You will use about half the lemon and about half the onion.  The other half of the lemon you can use for a tall glass of cold iced tea, and the other half of the onion will be thrown together with the potatoes to roast.

You will need to pull the onion segments apart for roasting.

Wash your potatoes and set them on paper towels to dry them off.  I usually use half a bag of yukon gold potatoes.  Cut the potatoes into about 1-1 1/2 inch wedges/chunks.  They shouldn't be perfect - this is a rustic meal!

Aren't these gorgeous???!!!
I usually use yukon gold potatoes - which roast so beautifully,
but these little beauties were at the store and I couldn't resist!

Throw the potatoes into a large bowl.  Take the remaining onion and pull the segments apart and throw them into the bowl.
Liberally coat them all with olive oil and some of the spice mixture.  Now get your hands in there and mix them all around.

Here are these gorgeous taters all oiled up and spiced up!!!

Rinse the chicken under cold water, remove any innards, and set breast down on a bed of paper towels. Dry it all over.

Spray your pan with some non-stick cooking spray.  I use a 10 x 13 pan.
Rub the side of the chicken that's facing up with olive oil - be generous.  Liberally sprinkle with your spice mix.
This is the bottom side of the bird before flipping over and spicing up the top!

Liberally sprinkle spice mix to the inside cavity of the chicken and place breast side up in your pan.
Stuff the chicken with your lemon and onion chunks - about three or four pieces each.

All stuffed and ready to infuse the meat with lemon and onion goodness!
Oil the top (breast side) of the chicken and liberally sprinkle the chicken.  Give her a pat just for good measure!  :)
Pour the potatoes and onions all around the sides of the chicken.
Pour about a cup of white wine (yes, you can use white cooking wine) into the bottom of the pan without washing off the spices from the potatoes.  Oh yes!  White wine and chicken and potatoes and onions and sage and thyme will fill your home with the aroma of the best home cooked meal - EVER!!!

Oh my goodness, can you stand it???!!!
Roast this bird at 350 degrees Fahrneheit for 20 minutes/pound.  So, if you bought a 4 lb chicken, you will roast it for 1hr and 20 minutes.  When it's done, take out of the oven and let it rest for about ten minutes.  Remove the potatoes from the sides of the pan and place in a separate serving dish.  Keep them warm by gently tenting them with foil.
Remove the lemons and onions from the inside of the chicken and discard.

Roasted and caramelized potatoes and onions - mmmmmmm!!!
Place the chicken on a large cutting board.  Carve the breasts out first and set aside.  Carve out the thighs and legs and set aside.  Flip the bird over and remove any meat from the underside.  Throw away the carcass (I'm not "foodie" enough to save the carcass to make homemade chicken stock - lol!)
Cut the breasts into slices and remove all meat from the legs and thighs.  Place all the meat on a serving plate and drizzle pan drippings over all.  (You could strain the drippings into a separator first if you're really watching the fat.)

All that hard work really payed off!!!  Look how beautiful that chicken is?
Can't you just taste it now???

All you have to do is serve this with something green - a salad is usually the easiest as the chicken is taking up the entire oven.  Here is the simple salad I whipped up … (butter lettuce, tomato, cucumber, feta, and homemade salad dressing)

Although, you could roast asparagus in the oven while the chicken is resting.  Whatever green you like - serve it up and you have a complete meal!!!  I will blog about my super easy homemade salad dressing in a future blog - so look for that!

I hope this recipe finds you and your family well.  Please drop me a note here or on my Facebook page and let me know if you made it and how it turned out.  If you roast chickens regularly too, how do you make yours?  We would all love to hear!!!

May God continue to bless you and guide you during this Lenten season.  Stay healthy - mind, body, and soul!  ~+  Katherine

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Mind, Body, and Soul Lenten Program!

Are you tired?  Do you feel like your body is "out of whack"?  Or maybe it's just your mind … or your prayer life.  We are just so darn busy these days that it is really easy to forget to lead a balanced life.  I was reading an excellent article recently about how our body and soul are one.  Christians often forget this.  Our soul is not this type of ghost running around inside our shell of a body.  The body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.  They are one.  Our spirituality and what we do with/to our bodies are woven together from the same thread.  You can read the article here.  It is much more in-depth and a very beautiful article.

Pharmakeia, Contraception, and the Interior Life

Having read that, my mind wandered to the upcoming Lenten season.  It begins next week on Ash Wednesday.  I realize that I have a very difficult time keeping my mind, body, and soul balanced as a busy mom of four.  I know I'm not the only one out there!  It's easy to forget to exercise, eat right, and pray daily.  Each day that passes - each night I lay my head down on my pillow - I remember something I had wanted to do during the day and had forgotten or my day was just too full.

This Lent, I would like to change that.  I'm proposing that this Lent, we pay close attention to our minds, bodies, and souls with activities that we can easily accomplish.  When we close our eyes at night during the forty days of Lent, we should feel content as our minds have been stretched, our bodies were well-fed and exercised, and our soul was fed with the Lord.

For the mind:
Set aside thirty minutes each day to read, write, journal, or complete a crossword/sudoku puzzle.  Believe it or not, when you look at your day, you will find some time to stretch your mind.  It might mean you will be turning off the television.  Horrors!!!  Television may be good for zoning out, but reading and daydreaming are better.  Start now seeking out what book you will be reading during Lent.  I recommend anything by Saint John Paul the Great, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, any of the saints' works, or something more contemporary from Dr. Scott Hahn, Patrick Madrid, Matthew Leonard, Johnnette Benkovic, Jennifer Fulwiler, or Teresa Tomeo.  Start now doing your research and pick that book!

I'll be ordering this book - I hear it's great!

For the body:
Since you've turned off the television and carved out thirty minutes for reading, why not carve out another thirty minutes for exercise?!  I understand this might be a difficult one, especially for those of you who work full-time away from the home, but it's one you should really try to accomplish.  When I exercise, my day goes so much better.  I would recommend exercising in the morning when your energy level is at its highest.  Take a good look at your days and see when you can squeeze in some exercise.  You may have to get up earlier before the kids wake - but you won't believe how good you'll feel if you do that.  Exercise doesn't have to mean a rigorous run or exercise class or weight training at the gym.  Although all those are awesome, you may not have the time or ability to do those.  Try walking around the neighborhood.  Drive the neighborhood first and find a good route and exactly how  far your route is.  Try to walk at least a mile a day.  If you are unable to walk, gentle stretching, sit-ups, and push-ups right in your own family room are just fine.  The point is to not be sedentary all day every day.  Get up and breathe some life into those bones and muscles of yours!!!

Get to steppin'!

Along with exercising, goes eating healthy.  I would have to say, my number one rule for my family is to try to stay as far away from boxed/packaged food as possible.  If it comes from the earth, it's likely that it does not have additives and preservatives.  The boxed foods are killers - filled with all kinds of things that are not naturally from this earth.  If you are interested in losing weight, I would suggest the "Lose It" app.  It is wonderful for keeping track of the calories you're actually ingesting.

Lose It tracks your daily caloric intake - you can even scan the barcode on food items!

Overall, stick with:
whole grains, lower carbs (than you're probably used to), fruit as snacks, organic granola bars and cereal bars (my family likes the Cascadian Farms chocolate chip, as well as the blackberry graham), real cheeses (and not a lot of them), lean meats (without steroids and nitrites), fish, salads with homemade dressing (the bottled dressings have all kinds of unnatural ingredients), roasted vegetables, soups (preferably homemade), etc.

If you're a snacker, look for:
Veggies and hummus, fruits (strawberries are low in calorie), pretzels, natural popcorn, rice cakes, peanut butter (again, look at the ingredients), mixed nuts (although high in calorie), dry cereals (go for all natural ones), raisins and dried fruits, yogurt (frozen too), applesauce, and hardboiled eggs.

Look how all that healthy food looks so delicious!  All natural, all from the Earth,  all from God!!!

For the soul:
I think each of us is guilty of not praying enough and definitely not doing enough acts of charity.  This Lent, I propose you pray before getting out of bed in the morning, as well as in bed at night before you fall asleep.  One wonderful way to start your day is by reading Fr. Robert Barron's Lenten reflections sent right to your phone.  Fr. Barron, in case you are not familiar with him, is singularly converting the world to Catholicism by evangelizing through the truth and the beauty of the Catholic Church.  I have signed up for the daily lenten reflections and can't wait for my first one!
Sign up here!!! FREE Daily Lenten Reflections from Fr. Barron

Along with praying morning and night (which could be a short prayer or as long as praying the rosary), I propose visiting the Lord in adoration at least one time a week.  I have written many times regarding the benefits from attending adoration.  Find out when your parish has adoration hours, and make it a point to go!  If you've never gone, or not in the habit of going, I will tell you that going there for the first time is intimidating and definitely feels outside your comfort zone.  I have even gone and said, "Lord, I don't know why I'm here, but I'm here.  I feel you calling me."  I think that's what Jesus wants.  He wants us to be there with him - communicating with him.  Sometimes I have nothing to say at all and just sit in silence … and listen.  Sometimes, I hear him and sometimes I hear nothing.  However, I hear Him later.  He will make Himself known to you.  It may not be on your timetable, but He will.  One last thought on adoration - if your parish's hours are not convenient for you, find a parish's that are.  Some parishes have 24 hour adoration!!!  That's convenient for everybody.

Our Lord is waiting for you...

Along with adoration, I propose daily mass.  If this is not possible for you, how about a weekday mass one time a week?  You won't believe how much better your day will go!  Again, find a parish with hours that are compatible with your schedule.  There is a great website for United States mass times as well!  I think it is also an app.  Their website is here:  Mass Times

You'll be surprised you won't be the only one at daily mass!

Along with praying, adoration, and daily mass, comes confession at least once during Lent. That's right.  I said it!  Get yourself over to a confessional and confess those sins!  Come on, those sins are weighing you down like weights around your ankles.  Slough it off and start out right.  Think of how much better your Lent will go if you visit a priest and confess right at the beginning of Lent.  Don't wait until Good Friday!  Here is a wonderful printable brochure entitled, How to Make a Good Confession.

For those who don't understand the sacrament of confession, this picture says it all!

Acts of charity might be the toughest to squeeze into our busy schedules.  If you have time, visit a hospital and see about their volunteering policies.  You can also visit you local Respect Life center, a nursing home, soup kitchen, St. Vincent de Paul Society, etc.  If you can't find something, ask your priest.  Prison ministry may also be available and a calling for you.

Defend life from conception to natural death!

Lastly, don't forget that you are obliged to fast and abstain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.  You are also obliged to abstain every Friday during Lent.  How about fasting every Friday as well?  You will align yourself with the sufferings of Christ … and who knows, it might help with the waistline as well?  Fasting is very biblical.  It can be found mentioned in the Bible several times and for several different reasons: in secret, for humility, for God's intervention, and to overcome addictions, for example.

For humility

I have written a lot here, but we Catholics have a responsibility to take care of ourselves as a temple of the Holy Spirit.  Lent is a wonderful time to begin good habits for your mind, body, and soul.  Take advantage of the remaining days before Ash Wednesday and write down a "do-able" attack plan.  What will your strategy be?  How can you incorporate these good habits into your daily lives within the Lenten 40 days?  Plan now so that Ash Wednesday will be the start of great lifelong habits!  Please leave me a comment and let me know your plan, as we can all learn from each other.  What book will you be reading?  How much exercise and what type will you be doing?  How will you alter your eating habits?  How will you be spiritually growing closer to our Lord???  I am challenging you to the Mind, Body, Soul Lenten Program.  Our Lord is challenging you to treat yourself as the temple of the Holy Spirit that you are!