Monday, April 19, 2021

A Fantastic New Movie-- "Resurrection" by Roma Downey




 What a wonderful new movie Roma Downey has produced! Resurrection is beautiful, artfully filmed, with great acting and fully developed characters. Its available on Discovery Plus and I think your whole family will love it!

The multiracial, multinational cast perfectly echoes the universality of the Church.

Powerful, jaw-dropping images will leave you newly inspired by the most incredible story of all time.

Full of direct Scriptural references along with dialogue that may very well have happened, Resurrection brings alive the Easter story. And since we are still in the Easter season for another month or so, what a perfect way to remind your family that we are still celebrating Easter! 

We see Mother Mary's powerful and enduring faith and Mary Magdalene with her deep and abiding love for the Lord. The transformation of the Apostles after Pentecost is truly inspiring as they change from followers who love Jesus but are desperately fearful to people on fire with the power of the Holy Spirit. The political maneuvering of Caiaphas and Pontius Pilate is as fascinating as it is disturbing.



Above, Roma Downey and her husband Mark Burnett discuss their new film with Raymond Arroyo. 

God bless Roma Downey and everyone who worked on this marvelous film. It is a faithful and inspiring depiction of the events that define our faith! Be sure to see it!! 

Monday, March 15, 2021

Forest Bathing-- It's a Thing!


 Forest Bathing. Does not the very name make you smile a little? You might ask what it is but I think we all get an immediate sense. A hot bath makes us relax. The warm water surrounds us and dissolves muscle soreness and tension. Now imagine what a beautiful walk in the woods can do. Forest bathing is a legitimate therapy in Japan and has been since the 1980s.  The Japanese term is shinrin yoku.

A lot of research has been done on "Forest Bathing," also called forest therapy. Personally, I prefer the term forest bathing. It's much more poetic. It's also the translation of the Japanese term and I have a fondness for all things Japanese.

Forest bathing has been proven to reduce the production of stress hormones, improve feelings of happiness, and free up creativity. It also lowers heart rate and blood pressure, boosts the immune system and can accelerate recovery from illness. Yes, it is said to do all these things. No small benefits, to be sure.

It's all about the phytoncides which are aromatic, antimicrobial compounds present in the woods.

I always thought it was just about being in the woods, enjoying nature, and immersing oneself in the glory of God. It is all that too. 

But there is a measurable biochemical component!

My husband and I have been taking regular walks in the woods since the pandemic. It's been great to get out, especially where there are so few people you can just keep your mask in your pocket for when you see someone coming. 

I noticed pretty quickly that my mood improves from these walks. There was a clear benefit to my mental health. I didn't even know about the physiological benefits.

Are you going stir crazy? Try a walk in the woods. It's calming. It's refreshing. And it has all these other measurable benefits. Your dog will love it too!


His glory fills all the Earth. Blessed be God. He is so good to us.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Word of God Sunday!!

On September 30, 2019 Pope Francis instituted the Sunday of the Word of God.

It was the liturgical memorial of Saint Jerome, 1600 years after his entry into eternal life. How appropriate! It was Saint Jerome, Father and Doctor of the Church, who famously said, "Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.

The Third Sunday of Ordinary Time was to be "dedicated to the celebration, study and dissemination of the Word of God." Today is the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time, Word of God Sunday, 2021. Pope Francis wrote:
A day devoted to the Bible should not be seen as a yearly event but rather a year-long event, for we urgently need to grow in our knowledge and love of the Scriptures and of the risen Lord, who continues to speak his word and break bread in the community of believers. For this reason, we need to develop a closer relationship with sacred Scripture; otherwise, our hearts will remain cold and our eyes shut, struck as we are by so many forms of blindness. Christ Jesus is knocking at our door in the words of sacred Scripture. If we hear his voice and open the doors of our minds and hearts, then he will enter our lives and remain ever with us.
The Holy Father explains that the Holy Spirit was not only operative in the writing of Scripture. He continues to shed light on the truth in the minds of readers. How often have we read a passage of Scripture and felt that the words directly reflected on a situation or challenge in our life today. The Holy Spirit continues to inspire and direct us as we read the Word of God. And let’s not forget that Scripture is an important element in the full armor of God.
Finally draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:10-17, NABRE)
The Word of God is the sword of the spirit! It is our weapon against evil. And is there any question that we are in the midst of a spiritual battle for the hearts and minds of God’s children? We need the sword! What can we as individuals do to grow in our understanding of the Bible and to greater appreciate the truth it contains? 

We could join a Catholic Bible study or subscribe to Catholic commentaries on the liturgical readings. We could make a point to spend more time reading the Bible as part of our individual prayer time. There are also daily Bible reading resources to guide us and to designate particular readings for each day.

 We could start a family Bible reading time with just a short passage, perhaps something that is included in our children’s Bibles. My pastor suggested suggested last year that we memorize a verse of Scripture a week. Not a passage, mind you, just a verse. He pointed out that by the end of a year we would have committed to memory 52 verses. A verse a week would not take much effort. A verse is about a sentence. How would we decide where to start? We could ask the Lord in prayer. Or He may already have told us. 

We know which passages are dear to us, the ones that address our wounds and our sins, the ones that fill us with love, encouragement and hope. I will start there. There are advantages to having Scripture passages memorized. Sometimes we are in situations where it is very comforting to be able to pray to ourselves a passage of Scripture. When I can’t sleep, for instance, I like to recite Psalm 23 ("The Lord is my shepherd…"). To combat negative thinking I recite Philippians 4:8.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (NABRE)
There was a time when if a negative thought came to my mind I would immediately recite that passage. It truly helped to overcome a bad habit. The Holy Spirit was working on me. I’m sure each of us has favorite Scripture passages. I know I do, but only a couple of them are memorized. I guess it’s time to get to work. And Word of God Sunday seems a perfect time to start. 

Thanks be to God that the Holy Father has designated Word of God Sunday to focus our attention and prayer times more intently on the truth of the Inspired Word, an important way that God uses to speak to us and to guide us. May we take up this Sword of the Spirit, this heavenly weapon, to defend the truth and to keep ourselves on paths that lead to holiness. 

What ideas do you have, for yourself or for your family, to spend more time on the study of the Word of God?

Copyright Rosemary Bogdan  All rights reserved.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Defending the Unborn-- We Go On


March for Life in a previous year. Copyright Rosemary Bogdan. All rights reserved.

It is with sadness that I reflect today on the pro-life policies that our new president, President Joe Biden, will be undoing.
March for Life in a previous year. Copyright Rosemary Bogdan. All rights reserved.

March for Life in a previous year. Copyright Rosemary Bogdan. All rights reserved.

President Biden is expected to remove the ban on federal funds for organizations that promote and provide abortions and eliminate the Hyde Amendment. He will also restore federal funding for Planned Parenthood that was removed by President Trump. This despite the fact that millions of Americans strenuously object to tax money being used to fund abortion. These moves will NOT contribute to the unity he claims he wants. It will instead antagonize every pro-life citizen of this country.

According to the Life Institute 1.5 billion lives worldwide have been lost to abortion in the last 50 years. Yes, billion with a B. And 60 million American lives have been lost since 1973, according to Right to Life. According to Human Coalition, the number of American babies' lives lost is greater than those lost in all American wars combined.

That is a lot of people. We will never know what they might have contributed to mankind, what their discoveries might have been, how many lives they would have touched. Surely there were people who would have been great saints. The loss is absolutely mind-boggling-- the loss of individual human beings and the wounds inflicted on the women, who surely did not fully understand what they were doing.  Lord have mercy. Women wounded be abortion might want to reach out to Rachel's Vineyard, for help and healing.

This year the March for Life 2021 will be virtual. It will be January 29, 2021 and a small group of pro-life leaders in Washington will represent us all. But you can watch online! Sign up for the livestream HERE. You can also "attend" the Rose Dinner on the evening of the 29th, 7:00 PM. Tickets are $25. Tim Tebow will be the keynote speaker. There will be a free class called Capital Hill 101 on Thursday, January 28, from 9:00-10:00 AM. Reserve a spot online. There will be no in-person March for Life this year. Hopefully, next year. At least we can stay warm at home this time. :-)

There will be many local events remembering Roe v. Wade. I will be spending a half hour praying at Planned Parenthood in my own hometown. Let's do what we can. 

Let's pray for hearts to be changed, for lives to be saved, and for women to be protected from the violence of abortion. We've been here before. Let's defend the unborn by speaking out, by helping women in crisis pregnancies, and most importantly by fervently praying for an end to abortion.




Monday, November 16, 2020

Covid, Connectedness, and the Body of Christ

 


It’s been several months now since we were told to stay home, to maintain six feet from people and to have no contact with others outside our household. It’s been hard on everyone. I remember when the first two weeks were extended to four. I remember thinking we can’t do this. It’s too hard. It’s painful. Yet we all realized it was necessary, that this was a serious pathogen spreading like wildfire while horribly claiming the lives of many, especially the most vulnerable.

I found myself wondering why the shutdown was so distressing — to everyone. After all, it was a break from our usual routines. In some ways the quiet was kind of nice. And yet it felt very wrong. The 95-year old father of a friend of mine said it was worse than WWII and the Depression. Even introverts felt the distress.

My four-year-old grandson exclaimed in frustration, “For years I was allowed to go in people’s houses!”

2020 0617 RBogdan 2

My own pastor, at our first Mass back, almost tearfully explained how much he had missed us. As I thought about that, and how much we had missed him and each other, it occurred to me. There is a profound spiritual explanation here. Christ, in the person of the priest, had been separated from the bride, his church. This is not only an awful break from Mass and the sacraments for a couple months. It is a deep and hurtful separation from what is supposed to be a union, a bodily togetherness.

Scripture and Catholic teaching frequently refer to the church as the Body of Christ. A body is not a spiritual presence. It is a physical presence.

For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts don’t have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another. (Romans 12:4-5)

Individually parts of one another? Is this why the distancing is so distressing? It feels as though our very selves are being separated? Just as the parts of the body cannot be separated without damaging the body, perhaps the individuals in the body of Christ, who are all one as Scripture tells us, cannot be separated like this without breaking something, without disturbing a certain grace or spiritual tie that is supposed to radiate between us.

Rather, living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, with the proper functioning of each part, brings about the body’s growth and builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:15-16)

Here we have a reference to ligaments. Connective tissue! Ligaments connect bones to bones. Is the description of the body of Christ more than just a metaphor about our interdependence?

We may be more connected to each other than we realize. We are not just lonely and missing our friends and family.

Maybe the separation feels so awful because it is spiritually and mystically tearing us apart.

We all wince when we think of loved ones in a hospital without visitors and we gasp at the idea of funerals with only immediate family. We know that this is not as it should be. When people we love are hurting we want to be near them, physically near them. We give love and support by our physical presence.

At a funeral even more support is given. We want to hug those who are grieving. We want to sign the guestbook so the family will know we were there. We want to bring flowers, cards, gifts, all examples of our physical reality. We do these things because we know that those grieving are lifted up and supported by these gestures. We help them continue to stand and put one foot in front of the other. When we cannot do these things we can all feel that something is wrong, a ligament is broken. Something is missing in the metaphysical union of the body of Christ. Our emotions feel off balance. Our psyche feels out of sorts.

There are many parts, yet one body. (1 Corinthians 12:20)

When the pandemic ends may we individually come to a deeper understanding of our oneness and our responsibility to build each other up in love. As ligaments hold bones together, may we embrace our unity and realize how important it is in God’s plan. We are indeed one body. May we never forget or again take for granted this profound truth.

When the pandemic ends, will we have a greater appreciation of how each individual is connected in love in the body of Christ?


This article first appeared on Catholicmom.com

Copyright 2020 Rosemary Bogdan
Photos copyright 2020 Rosemary Bogdan. All rights reserved.


Tuesday, June 16, 2020

It's Not Good For Man To Be Alone...

My sister wearing one of the tens of masks she sewed for health care workers. She's so cool.
I am so tired of the pandemic that I have started calling it by a term my friend Mary used, "the dampenic." It's not really swearing, right? Just a juxtaposition of letters. She saw this expression on a lovely site by Susan Branch. And it relieves me of a little of the antagonism I feel toward the awful Covid-19. The dampenic.

It's not as bad as it was. Things are lightening up a little.

I was talking to a neighbor (with a street between us) the other day and actually referred to the good old days. You know, the times when we could have people over, have potlucks, sit around laughing and without masks on.

How much I took for granted, the friendships, the ties, the togetherness!

The Body of Christ has been torn apart by a stupid microorganism from a bat. A BAT! We have been separated from the Eucharist (until just recently in my state), and separated from our friends, our family, and all those dear to us.

It is not good for man to be alone! We are not supposed to be this way. We are communal creatures. We belong together. And maybe we are not supposed to do research on bats. Or eat them for heaven sakes!! Or whatever happened. Please excuse the bad attitude.

When it all ends, and I'm sure that it will, may we all be a little more humble and grateful for all those wonderful relationships and times together that I for one completely took for granted. May we hold our loved ones tightly and live just in this day.

We never know what tomorrow might bring. Who would have thought this? Every day is a gift. And I live in hope always because my God reigns and He has a plan. Always.

Blessed be God.


Monday, April 27, 2020

Strange Times...


What strange times these are. If someone had told us seven months ago that a virus previously unknown would infect the entire world and we would all have to stay indoors for weeks or months to keep from getting sick, would we not all have said, "Come on! That's not going to happen!" And yet here we are. In some sort of bizarre fantasy...except that it's real.

The isolation is driving us nuts. Is it not? How we long for and even need physical contact with other people. It's distressing to be isolated. Parents my age long to be with our children and our grandchildren. Even though we can see them on Zoom and FaceTime it's not the same. I find myself asking will I not be able to hug my grandchildren for months? Kind of rips our hearts out, doesn't it?

We are physical beings, bodily creatures. The Mass on live stream? Well, it provides some comfort. It's an opportunity to pray at the same time as other members of our parish community. We are praying at the same time, but are we praying with them? In a sense, yes, but it does not feel that way because we are NOT with them.

A live stream Mass is so much better than nothing, but in many very real ways it just falls short in comparison to physically being present at the Sacrifice of the Mass. There's a reason why watching a a Mass on TV is not a fulfillment of the Sunday obligation. We are dispensed from our Sunday obligation by our bishop, but we are not told that watching a live stream Mass takes its place. Because it doesn't. We are not attending Mass. We know it. We can feel it. And we are starving for the Real Presence of the Eucharist. Yes, the Presence. Not the live feed. Not a photograph. The actual Presence.

I'm not saying that our separation from the Eucharist is not important or required in a pandemic. I'm trusting that it is and leaving it to the epidemiologists to guide us. They are the experts and, conspiracy theories aside, I don't see any reason why they would not faithfully guide us where the facts take us. There are so many unknowns. We must acknowledge the unknowns.

Still, I hope our shepherds will think creatively and boldly, as I believe my pastor and many other priests are, to bring the Eucharist, especially the reception of the Eucharist, to the sheep. We need Jesus so badly. We especially need Him now.