Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Do I Have Love?

Adapted from and inspired by the quote shared on BiblicalWomanhood.com...

If all of my room is spotless and sparkling
and I have a lace bed quilt and lovely flowers all around
but I can't speak kindly to my family,
I might as well have dust and dirt on all sides.

If I am able to make quilted Victorian table-runners
and set a table fit for a king
but I don't show respect to my father,
I might as well have a stained tablecloth and paper plates.

If I can plan, prepare and cook a six-course meal
and serve it in style with skill and poise
but I'm not thankful to God for my daily bread,
I might as well be eating a microwave dinner.

If I am able to be a gracious hostess to friends,
and love to serve a tea in rosebud teacups
but do not have a heart of compassion for Christ's poor,
I might as well serve tea in styrofoam cups.

If I possess all the powers of charm and manners,
and a closet full of stylish apparel
but cannot get my hands dirty in service of others,
I might as well have a wardrobe of rags.

If I have all in place and order in my room and home,
and appear to all eyes to be organized and confidant
but don't place each day in the hands of my God,
I might as well not have that day.

If I have been given numerous gifts and talents,
and can dazzle all around with my skill
but have not love,
I am nothing.

I Corinthians 13: "If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, it is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails."

Sunday, August 19, 2007

This Weekend's Focus

I seem to be doing plenty of public speaking lately! And I think today was the first time I've had the privilege of being at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass four times in one day. :) As the new DRE of our parish, I spoke and took registrations at each of the Masses this weekend. Since this new position is going to receive a lot of my time, energy, and focus this year, I thought it would be fitting to share my speech text. Not that I want to burden you with too many of these...

Anyway, if you would, please keep my role and our program in your prayers. Thanks!!

Good morning! As Father mentioned, I am Claire Halbur, and I am delighted to be your new Director of Religious Education here at St. Joseph’s. The past two years, I have been privileged to work with our Religious Ed Program here as a teacher and assistant to our former Director. It is fitting and Providential that I am now able to move into the role of Director for 2007-2008. I have been able to get to know many beautiful families here the last two years, and the Lord has placed a special mission on my heart to serve the families of our parish in this way.

I am convinced that this work of Religious Education – specifically, forming our children in the Faith - is a very important one in the Church today. Our children and young people are growing up faced with bigger challenges and bigger temptations than any generation before. The Truths of our Catholic Faith are their weapon for living a life of happiness, of fulfillment, and of peace – both here, and forever in Heaven. Parents: you want happiness, fulfillment, and peace for your children, don’t you? The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that “parents receive the responsibility and privilege of evangelizing their children”. This means that teaching the Faith to your children is ultimately your job. I beg you, take seriously your right and duty to raise up your children in the Faith.

We are here at St. Joseph’s to assist you in this task. The Catechism tells us that “The parish is the Eucharistic community and the heart of the liturgical life of Christian families; it is a privileged place for the catechesis of children and parents”. We do this through the Catholic Education offered here at our school, and for those children of our parish who attend Public School, through our Religious Ed program for grades 1 through 8. I must mention that the Diocese requires a minimum of two consecutive years of Religious Education classes in preparation for First Holy Communion or Confirmation. However, it is very important that your child receive the full 8 years of classes for their formation to be as complete as possible, and for them to be well-equipped to face the challenges of young adulthood in today’s society.

We have a great volunteer staff of Religious Ed teachers and assistants who love the Lord, love His Church, and love His children. The books we use are a wonderful, family-centered curriculum, and have been endorsed by primary Church leaders, including Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul II, and Cardinal Ratzinger – now Pope Benedict XVI. In addition, many unique and wonderful activities are part of our program here: monthly family nights, monthly RE Masses in which the children get to specially participate, and a beautiful Christmas play that involves every student in the program. We are focused on giving your children the riches and traditions of our Faith, in all their fullness and beauty. Students of our program learn about the Church year and learn many beautiful Catholic devotions such as the Holy Rosary, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, and Benediction.

In the Gospel today, our Lord said: “I have come to set the earth on fire.” That is exactly what we are trying to do here – set your children’s hearts on fire with love: a love that will transform their lives. We are here to help you raise your children to be saints.

We are taking registrations after all the Masses this weekend in the back of Church. I encourage you to stop by our table after Mass to register, or to pick up information for yourself or for a friend. And those of you who are grandparents in the congregation: are your grandchildren being brought up in the Faith? Take a registration packet for them!

I look forward to meeting many of you. Thank you for your time, please keep me in your prayers, and know that you remain in mine. God bless you.

Good enough to be from Chesterton

or from one of those other great philosophers. Actually, it's a bit from an email from a friend of mine (a philosopher-theologian in the making -- those are his majors). It was so profound, I asked for permission to share it...

So don't be frightened by the long task ahead of us. Don't be scared away by the fear that you might not be strong enough yet. You are only called to live one day at a time. God will never let the cards be stacked against us too hard. He will never let it be harder than we can handle. And the amazing thing is, in this war, our Commander already won, all we have to do is stay on His side.

The first time I read that, I thought Wow. And I went back, and read it again. And an amazing peace settled over me as I let it sink in. Our Commander has already won. If only we would remember that more often. Our task, really, is simple: All we have to do is stay on His side.

Amen! Deo Gratias.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Master Baker

...or the One Who can bring beauty from brokenness, life from ashes, healing from frailty, strength from weakness. We received the following in an email today, and it reminded me of a similar post I wrote last year: Theology and Cake.

Sometimes we wonder, "What did I do to deserve this?" or "Why did God have to do this to me?" Here is a wonderful explanation!

A daughter is telling her mother how everything is going wrong: she's failing algebra; her boyfriend broke up with her and her best friend is moving away. Meanwhile, her Mother is baking a cake and asks her daughter if she would like a snack, and the daughter says, "Absolutely, Mom, I love your cake."

"Here, have some cooking oil," her Mother offers.

"Yuck," says her daughter.

"How about a couple raw eggs?"

"Gross, Mom!"

"Would you like some flour then? Or maybe baking soda?"

"Mom, those are all yucky!"

To which the mother replies: "Yes, all those things seem bad by themselves. But when they are put together in the right way, they make a wonderfully delicious cake! God works the same way. Many times we wonder why He would let us go through such bad and difficult times. But God knows that when He puts these things all in His order, they always work for good! We just have to trust Him and, eventually, they will all make something wonderful!"

Let us continue learning to trust Him!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

My Extempore Speech Text

Well, extempore speaking was quite an experience! Mom and Dad were great - Mom worked really hard phone calling offices for me last week to see if an internet connection would be possible, and Dad got it all set up for me when we got there. So there I was, in a tent outsite the 4-H building, all set up with the laptop, printer, and internet... I sat there before going in to get my topic and prayed that God would be glorified. Two of the three topics I pulled from the envelope were what I call "fluffy", so, though I knew it would be a challenge, I opted for the third -

Support: The US should remain involved in the Middle East peace talks

I came out with that slip of paper and began typing away. (By the way, I hadn't known before going that you are told whether to support or oppose the issue... I think it would've been much harder for me to speak in opposition to it! Not that I really have a strong personal position either way on the issue, but coming up with some convincing opposing arguements to this one would have been difficult, I think).

I ended up not receiving the "Superior" ribbon -- chiefly because I exceeded the 4-6 minute time limit by 41 seconds. So one good thing I learned was - have a stopwatch on the podium. :) (With coming from camp and all, this was forgotten until it was too late to procure one). The judges, though somewhat critical, were still positive in their critique and offered many good suggestions. I sensed that they disliked my more "philosophical" approach and wanted more facts and statistics... but overall, it was an excellent experience and one that I would not be afraid to do again. Truth to be told, the ribbon to me doesn't matter that much to me... I described it to several people as "just the cherry on top". The experience, the learning, the challenge, the reaching beyond one's comfort zone, the act of tackling something you said you'd never do, being able to take constructive criticism, learning how to "think on your feet", how to take a topic not-of-your-choosing and run with it... all these are worth so much more to me than the award. The look on Mom's face was priceless when she hugged me right before my ascending the podium and told me, "You're brave -- this is something I don't think I could ever do. I'm so proud of you!"

In short, it was another beautiful moment (moments) of looking with eyes of trust towards my Father, placing the whole endeavor in His Hands, and being able to close my eyes afterward and thank Him for stretching me.

In case you should be interested in reading my speech text, here it is...

“'I wish for peace on earth… I do
I hope that war will cease to be,
and death will end his horrid reign
allowing us to breathe
But in one place, I will admit
I wish to bring a blessed peace: The heart of man
But not the heart of any single human…
Peace, ruling in our collective heart
could transform all manunkind into what it was initially: Mankind.'
Although I can’t remember the author of this quote, it is relevant to the topic I selected this morning: Support for the United States remaining involved in the Middle East Peace talks.

Peace is a subject that is on our minds – and our lips – continually. The position of the US in regard to conflicts in other countries is a hotly-debated one – both on an individual and national level. Our great nation is in both a wonderful and precarious place with regard to the power of our actions, home and abroad. There is constantly a battle of wills going on – we all want peace; we just have conflicting ways of hoping to achieve it.

The current process of Middle East peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians began in 1991 after the first Gulf War. There was a focus on withdrawal from various areas in exchange for promises of peace. From 1991 till now, there has been a running cycle of treaties, declarations, agreements and changes of rulers.

September 11’s rocking of our nation is what really prompted our involvement in this whole process. On June 24, 2002, President Bush declared 'peace requires a new and different Palestinian leadership so that a Palestinian state can be born.' On April 30, 2003, the United States, the U.N., European Union, and Russia presented a 'Roadmap' to Palestinian statehood within three years. At the time, it was not implemented.

The process of the US being involved in Middle Eastern politics is a touchy, but I think necessary one. Are there risks involved for us by “putting our nose in”? Always. But there are also always risks involved by not getting involved. Our nation has been incredibly blessed with wealth, a relatively stable political and social system, a great deal of homeland security, and a great deal of power to influence the rest of our planet. The fact of the matter is that we can choose to either use this wealth, stability, and power to reach out and help the struggling nations of our world, or not. And by struggling, I’m talking politically, economically, and practically. Is prudence called for? Of course. Much as we’d like to, we simply can’t solve all the world’s problems. There will continue to be war, strife, hunger, pain, and so much more. But I firmly believe it is a right and a duty of ours to use the greatness of our nation, to the best of our ability, to transform those who have not been so blessed.

Our country was founded on the chief principles of Faith, Family, and Freedom. I think we take these too much for granted. When we have been given good gifts, we must be willing to reach out a hand to those who have not been. The fact is that there are people everywhere – just like us, in that they are “ordinary” citizens of a country – who are living lives of brokenness. I believe our involvement in the Middle East peace talks is step, a hand reaching out because we care about the victimized citizens of these countries. It’s most often these innocent ones who suffer. Because we go about our daily lives here filled with comfort and convenience does not mean we can forget how different life is elsewhere.

So in short, should the US remain involved in the Middle East peace talks? I believe so. This is not to say that every move we make, or have made, has been a wise one, or that every decision is either. But so much is about the motives. When I did my Extempore Speech at the county level this spring, I spoke on the “3 people I would most like to meet in the history of the world, and why”. The three individuals I choose to speak on were very diverse and different, but had one great things in common: their selflessness. It was the thread that tied them all together. I think is poignant that this thread can be tied in to this topic also.

And while we are called to put forth our best efforts in bringing peace to struggling nations, we have to remember that peace anywhere begins at home. In our homes and in our hearts. We must continually revaluate whether or not our moves here reflect the same generosity we are striving for abroad. Mother Teresa of Calcutta spoke words of wisdom to our country when she said:

'The greatest destroyer of peace is abortion

because if a mother can kill her own child,
what is left for me to kill you and you to kill me?
There is nothing between.'

Looking inside ourselves is the key. Mother Teresa’s powerful words are a perfect closing thought for us this morning. This one woman, who will go down in history for her contributions to world peace, reminded us: 'If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.' Thank you."

Soli Deo Gloria!

Friday, August 10, 2007


Yay! I'm finished the Suzuki Violin Book 1 Teacher Training Course. These two weeks have certainly been intense... but I've been able to learn and grow so much. As this time in my life our Lord seems to have called me to serve through my love of children and music by teaching it to them. And I love that with the Suzuki program, it's not just about learning to play the instrument -- it's about developing a beautiful heart. Perhaps at some point I'll share a few of the written assignments that I completed as part of the course here, to help better explain the philosophy and approach of this method.

It's so amazing how the days here seem to have sped by, and yet have at the same time gone so slowly! It seems like yesterday that we arrived, and yet it feels like we've been here forever. And we have done so much each day that by the time late afternoon comes, morning seems like a long, long time ago. There were days when I would exclaim "Was it really this morning when we did such-and-such?". Such is the never-solved paradox of time, I suppose! Thanks be to our good God Who gives each moment to us. May we wisely choose how we spend each of them.

The next big event around the corner for me is speaking (tomorrow morning, no less) at the Illinois State Fair. If you remember to offer a prayer for me sometime around then, that would be so appreciated. I'm going to be doing an Extempore Speech -- meaning I'm handed a topic when I get there and 45 minutes later, have to speak on it. Definitely a practice of The Rebelution's motto "Do Hard Things". :) You see, through all my years of public speaking with 4-H, etc. I always said I would/could never doing an extempore speech. It's now my final year as a 4-H member, and I decided for the county contest in Feb. that I would tackle the thing I "could never do". It ended up being a great experience and... I was selected to go to State Fair. So it's the whole nine yards now. :) I am going to have to speak on a current event (will be handed three from a hat to choose from) -- I just hope it's something I'll know what to say about. :) I'm actually looking forward to it, though...the exercise of pushing yourself "outside your comfort zone" is so freeing -- and so good for learning how to trust Him more. I'll be sure to update here on what happens...

Now, it's off to pack my bags!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

A Sunrise Update

I don't have the seconds for anything more than "Buenos Dias" and "Que tenga un buen dia"! Most mornings here the sky has been rather overcast when I wake at 5:30, but this morning I was [pleasantly] startled to see an orange glow across the sky when I opened my eyes...a lovely sunrise. It hasn't lasted long (almost gone already), but oh! What a treat.

May your day be full of the glow of the Master!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Greetings from the Point!

Well, today I finally got an internet connection set up here at Stevens Point! There is so much I could write, but it's 10:30 right now and 5:30 tomorrow morning comes early. Last week was great but intense. It's like we're on a little "musical planet" here!

The absolute best part is that there are some lovely churches nearby, and one that has a daily 6:45am Mass (hence the rising time) which works perfect for us to walk and get back in time for classes. We've been blessed with gorgeous weather, bright, vivid days, and beautiful calm nights. It drizzled a bit today, but that was still beautiful.

Oh, and I have to clarify, since I was informed on the first day...what I'm doing is technically called teacher training and registration (not certification). Apparently, it can't offically be termed that because of the structure of the course. They said that only in Europe is it set up to be legitimately called "certification". Even the faculty here are not "certified" (though many have their Masters or more in Music and they are of course trained and re-trained)... interesting, hmm?

If this week is anything like the last, I can't promise I'll have any time for posting, but whether I do or not...Pax Christi!