A lot of Russian cars come equipped with dash-cams. Why, you ask? Well, Russian roads are not the most civil and the last hope for many drivers to protect themselves against insurance fraud, hit and run drivers, and drivers getting out of their cars and assaulting you (yep, it happens!)
Needless to say, dash-cams are popular. And they’ve captured some gruesome accidents, which I hear is a thing among Russian YouTube videos.
But Russian dash-cams have also captured the best of humanity. So, I can’t help but share this video of Russians helping old ladies cross the street, getting children out of the street, getting cars out of snowbanks, etc. I’ve watched this over and over and it brings to mind our Savior’s words, “your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father (Matthew 5:16).
Blessings be upon all our Russian brothers and sisters.
Most evenings before I go to bed, I say my night prayers. And at times I say the Compline prayers. And in those prayers we are to examine our conscience. Some do this by reflecting on the events that transpired that day. Or we could do as the USCCB puts on their page and examine our conscience based on the ten commandments or in light of Catholic social teaching.
Both of those are excellent ways to examine one’s conscience and at some point, I’ll go into these methods in more detail. But for a daily examination I like to ask myself 3 questions (among many) that were taught to me by a member of the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites.
Question #1: What did I do for Jesus today?
I ask myself what I did for Jesus. What did I do for others?
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me,naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’Then the righteous* will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Use this question as a prompt to look at the positive things you did for Jesus.
Question #2 What could I have done for Jesus today?
So many things are in one’s power to do. Every Sunday at Mass, we confess not only to the things we did but the things we failed to do? What did I fail to do that I could have done?
I often fail to do things I could have done.
I often fall into sin.
So, I reflect on these things that I could have done but didn’t.
But it’s not about beating yourself up over it.
It’s about building awareness and mindfulness so that you are vigilant the next time a similar situation arises.
Question #3 What am I doing to make God visible in the world?
Do I share the faith with others? Am I a living example of the Faith? Do I glorify the Lord with my life?
Do I pray for others?
Prayer is an essential part of life. Prayer is that conversation with God.
So when I look at whether my life is glorifying the Lord or not, inevitably I ask myself, “Am I a person others ask to pray for them?” ”Did anyone ask for my prayers?”
It was a beautiful afternoon, the sun was shining, and I was rushing to get home from work to take my wife to our scheduled 29 week sonogram.
Our first child was born at 32 weeks weighing only 2 pounds 13ounces, so with this pregnancy our doctor wanted to take extra precaution to ensure everything was going well. As far as we knew up until this point everything was normal. We were about to find out that our entire world was about to change.
As the sonogram was being performed I could see the concerned look on the nurses face. She said she wanted our doctor to come and have a look to make sure she wasn’t missing anything.
He double checked her findings and had a look for himself. Then he dropped the news that hit us like an atomic bomb.
My wife’s amniotic fluid was almost completely gone, and our son had not grown since the last sonogram which was a month earlier. We were going to be rushed to the hospital for an emergency c-section.
As the tears strolled down my wife’s face I could only hold her hand and try to assure her that things were going to be ok. But I knew that this was serious, and I had questions for the doctor that were better off in private so not to worry my wife in her stressed state.
I asked ” Doc, I need to know what we are really facing here. What’s your diagnosis in this type of situation? I don’t want to walk into this blindly. I need to be prepared.”
He said ” to be honest…it doesn’t look good, but the one advantage your son has is that his brother was small, and a fighter. So I have to believe that Sebastian will be the same.”
He gave us his recommendation for the hospital most prepared to handle this type of pregnancy and we agreed. So the next step was to have monitoring done and wait for the ambulance to arrive for transport. University hospital is in San Antonio about an hour away from where we live.
So while we waited I organized to have our son Alijah picked up by a family member all the while trying not to show my concern and fears.
The last thing I wanted to do was scare our little boy who is only three years old. He was already crying for his mommy and I knew I had to keep him as calm as possible to get through this.
Before I knew it the ambulance had arrived and was ready for transport.
I had called my brother, God bless him, and he was already driving down to meet me. So I gave my wife a big kiss and hug, let her know that everything was going to be ok, and prepared to meet them at the hospital with my brother.
As we arrived I could clearly see the severity of the situation. Doctors were everywhere looking at sonograms and having private chats. All we could do was wait and stay in good spirits under the circumstance.
They prepped us for the procedure and said they wanted the pediatrician to come and speak with us.
As she arrived, I knew this was a conversation that my wife and I didn’t want to have but deep down knew was coming.
She asked us,”what are your expectations of what is going to happen here tonight?”
We both stood silently for a moment, and then I said, ” well, by no means do I want to upset my wife, I love you hunny, but judging from everyone’s reactions this evening and what I’ve gathered from your conversations I can only assume that you believe our son won’t survive the delivery…let alone the night.”
“You are correct”, she said and the tears flowed like rivers from our faces instantaneously.
The feeling of your heart sinking into an abyss of fear within a split second is something that no parent should have to go through, and I pray that no one reading this should ever have to experience it.
So we all prayed together, and then my wife Amanda was taken to be prepped for surgery as my brother and I were left to wait.
For the next few minutes as I waited my mind was haunted by the worst thoughts imaginable, and the thought of losing our son, to trying to explain it to our other child was unbearable.
Then I got the word they were ready for me to come in…..
My wife was already fully prepped for delivery and the doctors were in the process of performing the c-section. I held my wife’s hand tightly trying to keep her calm, and I prayed like nothing I had ever done before.
I heard the doctors say he was out, and immediately they carried him over to a table in the corner of the room. I never heard my son crying…only silence, and for the next few minutes, which felt like eternity,it remained that way.
Then I specifically remember one of the doctors say” his heart rate is stable”, and the look on her face was of complete amazement.
That expression is forever burned into my mind, and as I later found out she was the respiratory tech on duty.
The team briefly wheeled Sebastian over so we could have a look at him.
I told him,”your mommy and daddy love you very much Sebastian, and God is with you”. At that moment he turned his little head over, opened his eyes, and looked right at us. That was the moment I knew in my heart that he was here to stay despite everything we were all about to face.
On January 16th, 2013 we gave birth to Sebastian John Haas weighing 1 pound 1ounce, measuring 10 inches long.
The fact he had survived the delivery was the first of many miracles of God that we would witness over the next few months.
My dear brother was waiting in the room we were assigned and I met him in there and gave him the news that Sebastian had made it. All we could do was cry, and give our thanks in prayer as we waited for my wife to be brought back.
That first night might possibly have been the longest night of our lives.
With our first born we had thought we experienced the worst. How wrong we were..we just didn’t realize it yet. He had no real complications, and only spent a month in NICU. This journey we had just embarked on would take us beyond anything our imaginations could have prepared us for and would test every ounce of our beings.
As soon as I was allowed, I went to see Sebastian. I was completely shocked by his small stature and the volume of wires, tubes, and other devices hooked up to him.The doctor told me he was the size of a 22 week old and one of the smallest they had seen there before. I prayed over him in his incubator, and thanked God for this wonder blessing we had just been given.
Over the next few weeks little Sebastian would face more adversity than most of us will ever in our lifetimes. His strength is a testament to Gods loving mercy, and would be the thing that inspired me to keep my strength in my darkest hours.
As my wife was still recovering I was lucky to be off of work for a few weeks, thanks to my boss, so I was at the hospital for several hours each day.
I stayed very informed of his status and made sure I asked plenty of questions and did my own research at night when I could.
It turns out after my wife’s placenta had been analyzed, that she has a rare disease called Placental Floor Infarction. This causes fibers to grow over her placenta restricting blood flow and nutrients from reaching the baby.
It progressively gets worse with every pregnancy, and it explained everything we had gone through with our first son and now Sebastian.
All in all Sebastian over the first few weeks was staying stable. He was hooked up to a ventilator and receiving TPN intravenously. He did test positive for the flu and a common cold from birth which the doctors had never seen before and had been fighting it continuously, but he was showing signs of improvement.
Then when we think things are looking up we get hit with another bombshell.
The doctors said he had a level 1 hemorrhage in his brain and felt that his liver function was failing. He had not had a bowel movement in the first few weeks of life despite their attempts to help and his bilirubin levels were starting to go up rapidly.
His total bilirubin level would end up reaching an astonishing 32, which one specialist told me was only seen in patients with end stage liver disease.
The hospitals testing was extremely limited for Sebastian. Still at one pound he was receiving multiple blood transfusions every day, and most tests require 4cc of blood which in his case would kill him.
So specialist after specialist analyzed him and after about a week the verdict was in. They believed he did indeed suffered from end stage liver disease caused by a genetic syndrome and that I should prepare my family for the worst.
My heart immediately sank and all I could do was cry.
So needless to say my drive home late that night was one of the worst of my life.
Though my heart did not want to believe what I had been told I did sit down with my wife and explained the situation. We cried over several cups of coffee and I don’t think we slept for the next few days after. Not to say we were getting much sleep anyway.
That next week a leading geneticist from San Antonio came to evaluate our son and I, along with my brother, were luckily able to be there when she arrived. After closely examining him she said that there was nothing she could see in her years of experience that led her to believe he had a genetic syndrome or metabolic disorder of any kind.
That was the spark of hope we had been waiting for so desperately!
As the days passed, by a true miracle of God, Sebastian’s bilirubin levels started to come down slowly. The doctors could not explain why and I could see that they were still scrambling for answers.
Within 3 or so weeks his levels had dropped from 32 down to around 5.
He has been eating regularly, with consistent bowel movements and has been off the ventilator with great success. Now, this isn’t to say the set backs haven’t come and gone.
One day while I was standing right beside his incubator, the nurse on duty was doing a routine hands on when the phone rang. She walked away and out of habit being a two time NICU parent I looked up to check his vitals and noticed his heart rate dropping rapidly. I immediately looked over at him, saw his eyes rolling into the back of his head, and noticed his ventilator had become disconnected. Without hesitation I notified the nurse, reached in and connected it myself. That was the experience I feel gave me the NICU nerves, a condition I dubbed that every time you hear a bell or whistle go off sparks anxiety in a parent.
A few weeks ago Sebastian had had a staph infection from an old line, a partially collapsed lung(which had happened before) and became ill. Unfortunately, one night just as I had walked in his heart rate dropped dangerously low and he was unable to bounce back on his own. They had to perform CPR twice to bring him back up and all I could do was pray and sit there helplessly. He did have to be put back on the ventilator for a week or so until his little body could recuperate and regain his lung function.
Since then, he is still on oxygen but improving well. He has started to bottle feed very slowly but showing good signs. Today he is exactly two months old and he now weighs 2 pounds 3 ounces. We are hoping that within the next month we will have the opportunity to bring our baby home.
The prayers from family, friends, and strangers are countless and my wife and I can not thank every one enough. We thank our Lord most humbly for the blessing of both our children and without Him none of this would be possible.
I look forward to writing again to keep everyone updated with Sebastian’s improvements and I sincerely hope that our story gives hope to any family going through the same thing that miracles are real.
Don’t ever give up hope for the love and mercy of God is more powerful than you can imagine! Remember to thank Him continuously and those around you for their support. This is something that no one can go through alone.
If you are someone going through this know that our prayers are with you and God is by your side every step of the way.
May the love and peace of God be with you all and thank you for your time.
There’s an excellent series on art on Catholic TV called The Way of Beauty. There are many episodes, but I found this last episode particularly interesting, as it called for a culture of beauty. And a culture of beauty is sorely needed.
Alexander Brian Arredondo was born Carlos Luis de Los Ángeles Arredondo Piedra on August 25th,1960. He is a Costa Rican-American and a long time peace activist and an American Red Cross volunteer. After Mondays tragic bombings at the Boston Marathon he is now known around the world as ”the man in the cowboy hat”.
The other week, I had the privilege of going to a mosque. There, Catholic high school students and Muslim high school students had the opportunity to ask each other questions about each other’s faiths. It was a worthwhile exchange and important in this day and age to work towards mutual understanding. As the Vatican II document Nostra Aetate says:
Since in the course of centuries not a few quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Moslems, this sacred synod urges all to forget the past and to work sincerely for mutual understanding and to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom
While we were there, someone asked our thoughts on Pope Francis and it brought to mind the story of how Pope Francis’ namesake, St. Francis of Assisi, met Sultan Malek al-Kamil during the Crusades and the implications it had for Christian-Muslim relations.
Th story goes like this:
In 1219, the city of the Damietta, a large Muslim city in Egypt, became the focus of the Fifth Crusade. Bloodshed abounded in the city as the armies fought. St. Francis who had gone with the crusading army had a different idea. He would go directly to the sultan.
Historians are of unsure of St. Francis’ intentions. Some say Francis had gone to the sultan on a mission of peace to end the war. Others say he went there to convert the sultan to Christianity or suffer a martyr’s death.
But one thing we do know is this: St. Francis sought dialogue with the sultan. He sought to meet him person to person. And meet him he did. Francis and a member of his order, Brother Illuminatus, crossed enemy lines. Who knows why they weren’t killed. But they were given an audience with the sultan.
No one knows what was said between the two men. We just know they talked. It’s possible they didn’t even understand each other as they probably spoke different languages. But we can assume it was a respectful dialogue because I doubt St. Francis would have made it back alive if he had insulted the Prophet Mohammad.
And so when the encounter was over, the sultan let St. Francis go back home.
The Result of the Encouter
Though the encounter did not bring peace, it had some major implications on Christian-Muslim relations that reverberate in today’s age.
When Francis returned home, he even amended the Franciscan rules, saying that those who feel called to go to Muslims should be allowed to do so.
In 1272, a sultan allowed the Franciscans to settle in the Cenacle in Jerusalem. In 1342, Pope Clement VI named the Franciscans the custodians of the Holy Land “in the name of the Catholic church.
And Francis appreciated some things about Islam such as how they pray and these things did show up in Francis’ prayer life.
Francis encouraged a ministry of presence – living peacefully among Muslims – which serves as a model for Catholics today…Meeting the sultan confirmed to Francis that we are all brothers and sisters. Neither converted the other and yet they met each other as men of God.
And as we all hear the story of Francis and the sultan, consider it when we meet “the other”. Some people nowadays ask us to view Muslims and people of other faiths as the “other.” But if we follow St. Francis’ example, we can see that mutual respect and living in peace do not betray the Faith but makes us disciples of it.
For a more academic treatment of the story, you can read more here.
As we pray before this meal we are about to receive my Lord,
let us remember all those who are restless from the unbearable pains of thirst and hunger.
Before we lay our heads down to rest, let us never forget the many men, women, and children who tonight have no place to call their home.
When we kiss and hold our own children close, let us forever be mindful of those who are neglected, and may never know a parent’s gentle caress.
Suffering and alone, so many of our brothers and sisters need not only our prayers, but our true acts of charity.
Be with them all our ever-merciful and loving God, and guide us to a course of action so that we, with our own talents and love, always seek to contribute to their well being.
So that no person shall bear the freezing cold, or blistering heat without warmth or shade to comfort them.
Let us continually feed the minds, bodies, and spirits of our children so they shall never have to endure the agony of starvation, hopelessness, or lack of education.
Open our hearts, and raise our voices dear Lord our Savior, so that we may mend the hearts of others who have not the strength themselves to cry out for help.
Unite us in your love my Lord, so that our eyes may truly be opened to the needs of all those around us, and that every day we strive to create justice and equality for all of those who are called Your children.
On October 11th, 2012, the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council (11 October 1962 - 8 December 1965) and 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI called for a Year of Faith. During the Year of Faith, he called on Catholics around the world to rediscover the precious gift of Faith and share it with others.
Catholic State of Mind is our way of sharing our faith with others and at the same time deepening our own faith. As recent converts to the Catholic Church, we are, In the spirit of Pope Benedict’s intentions (and continued under Pope Francis), seeking to continue our faith journey and deepen our encounter with Jesus Christ.
We ask all of you, our readers, to join us on our journey during the Year of Faith.
While on this journey during this Year of Faith, we will read again the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the documents of the Second Vatican Council By doing this, we seek to become true disciples of Jesus Christ and serve our fellow man.
As Pope benedict put it:
‘Intent on gathering the signs of the times in the present of history, faith commits every one of us to become a living sign of the presence of the Risen Lord in the world. What the world is in particular need of today is the credible witness of people enlightened in mind and heart by the word of the Lord, and capable of opening the hearts and minds of many to the desire for God and for true life, life without end.’ Porta Fidei, 15
Read the entire Apostolic Letter, Porta Fidei (The Doors of Faith)
Feel free to share our pics to promote the writings of Vatican II. Just please let people know where you got it from.
As with any Catholic who lives in the modern age, I use my iPhone/iPad quite a lot. But I’ve never been one to think that technology is a hindrance to one’s spirituality. When used properly, it can add to your spiritual practice. I use apps for many purposes but mostly to aid me in spiritual readings and prayer.
So, I’ll share with you the best Catholic apps for spiritual study and prayer. I have downloaded and tested many apps, but these are the ones I use the most and the ones I think help me the most. I’ve put links for each app. Most are universal apps, but those that aren’t, I have provided links for both the iPad and iPhone versions. Do not look at this as a static list. Some apps will be more useful now and others later. I, myself, will update this list as time goes by–as new apps emerge and others fade away.
I call this the little app that could. It’s got everything–readings, prayers, Latin prayers, confession topics, etc. And it’s improving all the time. This is one of my go-to apps and it’s FREE. Can’t go wrong with that. Catholic Mass Times Church Directory – CatholicWeb, LLC (iPhone only)
I couldn’t live without this app. Everytime I go on a trip or Catholic roadtrip, I use this app to find the nearest church for mass. It’s the same as the masstimes.org web site.
One thing I can tell you from experience is CALL the parish before going. I once left standing outside a 6PM mass with about 10 others–all of whom had no idea that mass was moved to the parish down the street .
An incredible app. The New Testament reads like one of those old radio plays. It’s the RSV translation, my preferred translation, with a forward by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Great for listening to in the car or at home. It’s a little pricey at $20, but I’ve never regretted spending a dime on it.
If you want a treasure trove of Catholic thought, then this is the app. It includes the Douay-Rames bible, prayers, liturgical calendar writings of the saints, and more. I’m not kidding around–the information in this app would run you hundreds or thousands of dollars if bought separately. It has a lot of good bookmarking features for reading. The only drawback to this app is the presentation. I don’t like reading on it as much as I do other apps. But when I do read, I mostly do so on my iPad. They updated the app recently and it looks MUCH nicer on the iPad.
iMissal used to be my go to app for Sundays. I can’t tell you how many times someone would tell me not to use my phone during mass, only to be embarrassed when I showed them it was the missal! True story. It has the mass readings and a nice calendar. I don’t, however, use this app much anymore because the readings and calendar are on other apps, which are free and iMissal is not free. In fact, I’m still a little upset that I “upgraded” to the saint of the day in-app purchase, only to realize later that I could get the same information from other apps for free. But to be fair, iMissal has one advantage in that the interface is much nicer than the free alternatives. Mary – Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception
Love this app on Mary. Talks about the Marian doctrines and consecration to our Blessed Mother. Got this after reading 33 Days to Morning Glory by Fr. Michael E. Gaitley. The Marians of the Immaculate Conception created the app. Oh, and it’s free!
This app has a TON of prayers. I am always discovering new prayers that have made their way into my private devotions. Best of all, there are multi-lingual prayers in the app. And yes, I’ve used the app with non-English speakers during a mixed prayer group and that alone was worth the price! iBreviary Pro Terra Sancta – NetGuru S.r.l.
Want to say the liturgy of the Hours? Don’t want to pay for the books? Don’t want to pay for an app? Then, this is the app for you! I’ve used this off and on (when I’m not using my books) to say the Divine Office. And it’s a beautiful app to boot!
Want audio when saying the Divine Office? Then, this is the app for you. I’ve also used this app. It’s a bit pricey, but it does give you audio. I found this useful when I was alone and didn’t want to feel “alone” when I recited the Divine Office. A very nice app.
Breviarium Meum allows you to pray the traditional (1962) Latin breviary of the Catholic Church wherever you go. You can download the texts up to a week in advance, so you can pray even when you don’t have a network connection. A parallel English translation of the breviary and an collection of Latin prayers and blessings are also included. Pray the breviary you know in a new way, or get to know for the first time the Roman Liturgy in the Usus Antiquior, considered by Summorum Pontificum as a precious treasure to be preserved and made accessible to all the faithful.
I like this app, though I don’t use the 1962 breviary. The only downside is that the iphone and iPad apps have to be purchased separately. It’s a drag but the apps aren’t too expensive.
Non-Catholic Apps that I still find helpful to my faith life
Pray Always is an Orthodox prayer app. And though it’s not Catholic, the wealth of treasures in these prayers is incalculable. I have found the prayers of our Orthodox brothers and sisters are rich and deep. I think every Catholic can benefit from these prayers.
A good app that has a lot of information on our Eastern Orthodox brothers and sisters, including images of some incredible icons. For those interested in iconography alone, this app is worth exploring.
The Glo Bible! A bible for the digital age. All I can say is WOW! This is probably one of my favorite bible apps. It’s got maps, videos, and study notes. Since this is Protestant bible, there are only Protestant translations, so no NAB or RSV (CE). But it does have the NIV, KJV, ESV, and others. And, of course, you can’t read the complete bible, as the deuterocanonical books are missing. Also, all the study notes are Protestant. So, no links to Church documents, Catholic commentary, or writings of the saints. But I’ve been in contact with the people who make the Glo bible and they tell me they are working on a Catholic edition. When that comes out, it WILL be my favorite bible app.
OK, this one is an app for Buddhist insight meditation practice. But for Catholics who have a set time period for prayers and meditation, this app can be very helpful. I usually set aside some time for prayer–whether it’s 30 minutes or an hour. so, why use this app and not your phone timer? The cool thing about this app is that you can set bell intervals.
So, for example, I will do some Lectio Divina. I start reading and meditate on the words. I set the timer to go off every 15 minutes for an hour. When the interval bell goes off, I read again for deeper meditation. It allows your prayer and meditation to flow rather than having to reset timers all the time. You can keep your focus on your conversation with God rather than on keeping time. And that makes this app very important to my prayer life.