Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ask Ellen: Can you give me a resource I can use with my family to engage in Mass more fully? Joan

Cavins, produces a great resource every year.  It takes the Sunday readings for a year and creates activities and prayer that you can do as a family.  I have done it with my kids at Sunday dinner and I was pleased to see how much more they understood what was read at Mass after engaging in the activities.

Cycle C begins in Advent so this is the perfect time to buy it and begin.  You can find it at:  You can download it and be ready to go when Advent rolls around. 

If you decide to use it with your family, please let me know.  I’d love to be able to share with Emily how it has enriched your family.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

- Ask Ellen: I am currently pregnant with our first son and I was as well a teacher (before now)in my previous life, like you. I just wanted to say that I admire your vocation to motherhood, as I find myself constantly praying for wisdom as I embark in this new role. I guess that I was just wondering if you felt like that too when leaving teaching behind.

Thanks so much for getting in touch with me.  Congratulations on your pregnancy.  It is one of the most exciting and terrifying times of your life, I assure you.  I also had very mixed feelings about leaving teaching behind.  I loved my students and coworkers and was very afraid of the isolation of new motherhood.  The first few months were very difficult as I learned about my daughter and adjusted to life away from the workplace.  But I will also tell you that even now, more than 12 years later, I look back on the first few months as the best of my life.  Even though I had a son later and I love him dearly, those first few months of just my baby and me were priceless.

I have not regretted my decision to stay home once.  Sure, some days were lonely and the world doesn't value my choice as much as I did.  But for me and my children it was the right thing to do.  You are ahead of the game as you see motherhood as a vocation.  A life-long one at that.  I will be praying for you as you make the transition.  I hope you will keep in touch and let me know how it goes.

I appreciate your kind words about my work.  I am blessed to be able to do it all from home.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Ask Ellen: You mentioned that you practice Lectio Divina in your podcast interview. Can you tell me more about that? Jay.

Firstly, Jay, thanks for taking the time to listen to the podcast.  I really enjoyed being a guest on Among Women.  If you didn’t get a chance to hear the interview, it can be found here:

In the interview, I said that Lectio Divina is one of my favorite ways to pray.  Lectio Divina is an ancient Catholic tradition that brings to mind the fascination with New Age mediataion.  Catholics have been practicing meditation for centuries with one major difference fro the New Age stuff that is so popular today: Lectio Divina is centered on God.  In the process you prayerfully use Scripture to enter more deeply into prayer with God.

Before beginning the process, it is important to set aside the space and time.  As I mentioned in the podcast, silence is essential.  That was very difficult for me in the beginning.  There are four stages to Lectio Divina.

The first is simply reading.  Choose a passage of Scripture that interests you.  Read it slowly and prayerfully.  Read it as if God is speaking just to you.

The next step is to meditate on the passage.  Focus on a word or phrase that jumps out at you.  As I mentioned in the podcast, I will often write the phrase down and carry it with me all day.

Next, speak directly to God.  Tell Him what you understood and what was over your head.  Be honest.  Reveal your thoughts and emotions.  Unload what is bothering you.

The last step is to contemplate.  Just be in God’s Presence.  Be open to what HE is saying through the passage and how He is speaking directly into your life.

This is a powerful way to center your day on God and your relationship with Him.  I encourage you to give it a try.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Ask Ellen: Who is the patron saint of art? Anna.

I have to admit, Anna, I had to look this one up.  Officially it is St. Catherine of Bologna.  Her feast day is March 9th.

I think she was named the patron saint of art because she painted the many glorious visions she saw.  She also drew lovely pictures that were contained in manuscripts.

She lived a very private and simple life.  She died when she was 49.  Eighteen days after her death, the people reported a beautiful fragrance around her grave.  It was discovered that her body remained untouched.  It is now housed in the Chapel of the Poor Clares in Bologna.  You should get your dad to take you there.  Get some spaghetti while you are there.

A great way to honor St. Catherine would be to have an exhibit of your art on her feast day.  You could have some fun party foods and celebrate the gift of art in your life.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Best Of....Ask Ellen If I am divorced, that means I can’t receive Communion, right? Lisa.

Thanks for the question, Lisa.  This is one of the most misunderstood things in the Church today.  Yes, you can receive Communion if you are divorced.  You may not receive if your marriage hasn’t been annulled and you are involved with or married to someone else.

In the eyes of the Church, a legal divorce does not end the marriage.  It is still a sacramental marriage (meaning a sacrament took place)  So you can receive Communion as you did in your married life. (assuming you are free from any other mortal sins).

The problem becomes when you are involved with someone or remarry without an annulment.  See, cause in the eyes of the Church you are still married to person number one.  Therefore, you aren’t free to marry anyone else. 

In order to do so, you must seek an annulment.  This is a process the Church uses to decide whether or not a sacramental marriage occurred.  Many times and for many reasons it might not have been a sacramental marriage and it is annulled.  This means you are fee to remarry and to continue to receive Communion.  Does that make sense?  If not, I encourage you and anyone else with questions about annulments to ask your parish priest.  If you are unable to do so, contact me and I will put you in touch with someone who can help.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Ask Ellen: Are Catholics even Christians? Julie.

I do not usually answer questions as forcefully as I will this one but it pushes my buttons.  Yes, Catholics are Christians and anyone who told you we aren’t was telling you a lie.  All Catholics believe in Christ which is what defines a Christian.  But there is more to it.

Catholics are different from all other Christians in that we do not belong to a denomination.  All other Christians denominated from Catholicism.  The term “catholic” means “universal.”  From the very beginning, the Church spread universally.  In the Early Church, if you were Christian, you were Catholic.  It was that simple.  That is all there was.

The Catholic Church was founded by Christ Himself.  He made Peter the Rock on which He built the Catholic Church.  This Church is apostolic, meaning it has been passed on through unbroken succession for the last 2000+ years.

All other denominations broke off from this one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church and were founded by a man or woman.

So, yes, Catholic are Christians.  I would go as far as to say the original Christians.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Ask Ellen: What is Gracie's favorite color? Lexi.

What a cute question, Lexi.  A lot of times we see Gracie wearing her school uniform which is a blue plaid.  Do you wear a uniform to school?  If you do, you might agree that it isn’t your favorite thing to wear and might not be a color you would choose.

If you look at the strips, you might notice two things.  For one, Gracie likes her pajamas.  I think comfort is very important.  She also wears pink shirts a lot.  I think Gracie likes to bring color into the world.  Remember when she said she was “a pink candle girl in a purple candle world”?

We will probably see more colors and trends as Gracie grows.  I think she would want you to bring color anywhere you go too.  When you wear a bright color this summer, think of Gracie and smile, ok?