Erika Marie


About Erika Marie

A simple Catholic wife & mama.


11 Movies We Watched in 2016 2

Alright, finally, two months later, I’m ready to share our list of movies we watched last year – you know, in twenty sixteen.

11 Movies We Watched in 2016:

We tried listing these in the order we liked them (the first one being our most liked.)

Arrival

This is my husband’s favorite movie from last year. He liked everything.

The unique  idea of a time and a language that is happening all in one instant instead of chronologically totally fascinated me. I remember getting chills as we watched this, not because the theatre was cold, though it probably was, because I had an eerie feeling the movie makers had somehow found the secret door to my mind and saw some of my inner most thoughts.

Without giving away the unexpected twist of the movie, I have to say my other favorite part was the way one character decided to embrace life, even with all the suffering and pain she knew would come with it.

Experimenter

This was definitely my favorite last year. It was a random Netflix movie I’d never heard of that turned out to be great. (Now available on Amazon, also.)

Experimenter paints a unique and abstract vision of social psychologist, Stanley Milgram’s, unconventional and controversial social experiments.

I’m a “people watcher”, I’ve always been intrigued by human behavior and the science of social psychology – the study of how people interact together. If you also find that fascinating or you’re in the mood for a random thinker movie, try Experimenter.

McFarland, USA

We watched this with our thirteen year old (gasp, did I just write that?) and we all really liked it. Maybe you think you’ve seen enough corny sports inspiration movies but give this a chance. We all are runners and cross-country has been part of mine and my husband’s life and now our daughter’s so we might be a bit partial.

Aside from the obvious “you can do it” theme of all inspirational sports movies, I also appreciated the lessons about diversity and showing a slice of what life has been like for migrants – how hard they have to work but also that they can become more.

The Fundamentals of Caring

This one has crass language throughout but, if you can get past that, it’s a really excellent film. You’ll laugh, you might cry, and your heart will feel all swelly with pride for the goodness in humanity. Watch it, you’ll love it. (Just remember, I did warn you about the language.)

Of Gods and Men

We’ve watched this twice now. Well, technically this was the first time watched it all the way through. My husband really, really liked it and so I wanted to give it another go.  It is slow-moving but…well that’s kind of the point.

It’s a movie about monks living in Algeria during a time of civil unrest. Somehow, in the midst of all that, they carve out a special place in the community for their religious community to live and serve the local people.

This is a simple movie that shows the beauty of prayerful work, loyalty, community and friendship.  Though they each have a chance to leave each other and save themselves, they all seem to ask the same unsaid question, “to where else would we go?”

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

This was a fun little “interlude” between the The Force Awakens and the upcoming Episode VIII, The Last Jedi (which apparently is plural!) Our daughter (who watched it with us) described it as much sadder and depressing that other Star Wars movies. I agree, it wasn’t meant to be uplifting but it was interesting watching that story branch from the previous storyline.    In case you’re wondering – no, you do not have to watch Rogue One to keep up with the other Star Wars movies. This is just a fun bonus for Star Wars fans.

The Walk 

I wasn’t sure how well I’d like this – I mean how interesting could a movie about a tightrope walker really be?It was surprisingly suspenseful, artistic, and historically interesting.

Jason Bourne

I always like me a good Jason Bourne movie. Fast, energetic, suspenseful. ‘Nough said.

10 Passengers

I had higher hopes for this one. The plot had exciting potential.The cliche relationship between the only man and woman was honestly a boring distraction from what could have been a much cooler movie. Still, I guess if you’re looking for a mildly exciting and interesting sci-fi/chick flick this might satisfy that mood.

11 Romero

I wanted to watch this before going to El Salvador last November.

Though I think some of the movie takes a few tangents from the true events, it still demonstrates a very accurate portrayal of who Archbishop Romero was and of the situation in El Salvador during that time. It made me appreciative of finding a Catholic church and not feeling afraid to pray and go to Mass safely.

Movies like these are harsh and hard to watch but they can help us know about the struggles and atrocities others have had to deal with and still do in many ways and places. We had thought about watching this with our 13-year-old but we’re very glad we decided not to since many of the scenes are so horrific and graphic.

We watched a few Netflix/Amazon Series last year:

Stranger Things

Mysteriously thrilling, nostalgicly fun for anyone who grew up in the 80’s. Watch out though, it gets kind of creepy.

House of Cards

I’m a little hesitant to admit we watched this. First, it’s got a whole lotta inappropriate content, we held the remote the whole time ready to fast forward when needed. I’ll admit it didn’t help with our growing cynicism about our American political situation. Let’s just say the writers of this series have a mastermind talent for inventing a very believable plot about the behind-the-scene relationships and corruption in government politics.

The Crown Netflix Original series

This was a nice series that we both enjoyed, maybe me more than my husband. It kind of fills the space in TV-series-watching left by the ending of Downton Abby. It’s got early 20th century fashion both in clothing and the setting, polished British accents, and all the propriety – and impropriety – that goes along. Like the rest of the world, the English monarchy intrigues me so I found The Crown both entertaining and informative, though I wonder how accurate it all is and I’m not sure this series would win the Queen’s “Royal Seal” of approval.

Man in the High Castle Season One

We watched this sometime last year, when my brain was foggy and numb with sadness. So maybe it wasn’t the best series to watch but I stuck with it nonetheless. I found it mildly entertaining and the suspense motivated me to keep watching even though it was hard to understand what was going on and, to me, it took too long to reach a point when I felt like maybe I was starting to at least grasp at the plot.

Well there it is, our 2016 Movie-Watching List. Now I can get started on movies we’ve watched this year. Any new suggestions?

 

(This post contains Amazon Affiliate links, Amazon sends me a little “thank you” from purchases you make via clicking on any of those links.)

 


Keep Your Kids Catholic: Sharing Your Faith and Making It Stick {Book Review} 2

While I’m still working on my movie update post (We watched too many last year), here’s a book review to keep my blog from completely falling into the dark internet abyss.

I asked my friend, Joel – father of 4 and an amazing Catholic elementary school teacher, if he’d like to read and review this book and so here it is! Thanks, Joel, for sharing!

Keep Your Kids Catholic: Sharing Your Faith and Making It Stick 

by  Marc Cardaronella

Parenting is hard. One of my good friends has an expression whenever we are commiserating about each other’s children and their idiosyncrasies: “They don’t come with owners manuals.” Navigating the minefields of raising a kid in the digital age is a daunting task. There is no roadmap because we’re all forging new paths in the here and now. Most of us are winging it. We’ve slinged together a game plan based off what our parents did that worked and what our parents did that didn’t work. Maybe we’re lucky enough to have some older siblings that we can learn from their parenting mistakes and triumphs. Hopefully, we’re plugged into a network of friends that can lend encouragement and advice.

But the reality is, many parents feel very alone and unsure of what exactly they are doing.  A lot of good parenting tools have gotten lost in the mix and not passed down between generations. This is especially true when we talk about passing on the faith. After all, for their parents, faith was such a private thing. It just wasn’t discussed. And that has left our generation of parents unsure of how exactly to pray with our kids, let alone how to help them develop a personal relationship with Christ.

Enter this book, Keep Your Kids Catholic: Sharing Your Faith and Making It Stick by  Marc Cardaronella, which the amazing Erika from over at Simplemama put into my hands and asked me to do a review for.  It is a quick, easy read that confirms many of the hunches you’ve already been feeling, puts forward reflections that open your eyes in new ways, and offers specific steps you can take to strengthen your family. I often find parenting advice books obvious or sanctimonious, but Cardaronella’s writing is relatable and beneficial.

One of my favorite points of the book was discussing how important it is for parents to articulate the faith. This is also really helpful advice for teachers. Cardaronella starts by describing Bl. John Henry Newman’s approach.
“Newman didn’t just give knowledge; he gave himself…When he discussed a topic, he not only gave the doctrinal understanding of the subject, he also gave the background of how he came to believe it. Most students will accept a doctrine as true because the Church teaches it. However, they’ll allow it to become part of their lives only if an instructor pulls back the curtain to expose personal convictions and motivations.

When Newman discussed a topic, he not only gave the doctrinal understanding of the subject, he also gave the background of how he came to understand it and why he believed it…Cardinal Newman’s cure was to transform the notional into the real-to engage the spectator, bring him or her off the sidelines of intellectual passivity, and impart an awareness of the intersection between life and religious truth. For him, the crucial question is not how is it true, but how is it true for you? How does it affect your life and what does it mean for your particular situation?”

The author’s tips to parents on how you can begin to articulate the faith to your kids:

Tell them why you believe something, why you didn’t use to believe but now you do, how your thinking evolved, what the turning point was, or why you think it’s important.

Cardaronella also offers a really good reflection on the Parable of the Sower. This was probably my favorite part of the book. He says it’s not really a parable about the seed, it’s all about the soil, and then leads us through a reflection of the soil in our home. To paraphrase these chapters: Break open the hard ground. Deepen your roots. Clear away the thorns. Till your fertile ground. You can improve the soil! Some of the seeds bear fruit, thirty, and sixty, and a hundredfold. If it’s all good soil, why doesn’t it have the same yield? Clearly some patches of soil are more fertile than others. How can you tend to your fertile soil to improve it even more?
Another great quote: “Of all the thorns, probably the most dangerous are the never-ending lists of activities and interests that capture our hearts. Religion is just one player in the tightly contested battle for time, attention, and energy. Usually religion loses. By far the biggest offender is sports. Let’s be honest, though; the responsibility for these thorns doesn’t rest with kids. Parents are the ones prioritizing sports and other activities over Mass, religious education, and devotional practices. I’m not saying kids shouldn’t be active, but time is a precious commodity. You have to weed your children’s schedule to allow space for God.”

These were just some of the quotes that I didn’t want to forget. I really liked this book and I think it could open up some great discussion among parents united in the trenches.

 

Thanks again, Joel, for reading and sharing your review of Keep Your Kids Catholic: Sharing Your Faith and Making It Stick by  Marc Cardaronella.

I enjoyed chatting with Marc Cardaronella on a CatholicMom.com CM Hangout and I encourage everyone to check out his book!

(Amazon Affiliate links included in this post, Amazon sends me a wee little thank you for purchases made via these links. )


Catching Up – Books I’ve Read, Reading, Hope to Read… 1

Well, hello.

It’s been a while, I know.

I’d like to blog again but it’s hard to know where to start after such a long hiatus. So I’ll start with books, since it’s easier, right now for me, to write about what others have written than to formulate words of my own.

I wish I could put together a Top 10 Books I read in 2016 like I’ve done in years past. Honestly, 2016 hardly exists in my mind, it’s too difficult to remember much from it.  I normally love reading but my mind’s been so foggy, I find it difficult to get through one page of a book before zoning out.

So I’ll just do my best to remember what I did read, what I’ve been trying to read, and what I’m hoping to start reading soon.

What I Did Read

Laurus by Eugene Vodolazkin

This was the only fictional work I read last year, sometime in February, after a friend’s enthusiastic recommendation. It feels like a dream now, my mind was still shocked and numb from my father’s unexpected passing just a couple months before that. I will say that I did really, really like this book. It was exactly what I needed at the time. Yet, I wouldn’t recommend it to just anyone. It takes place in old Russia and, though written and published in our own modern time (2012), it maintains an ancient air, as if it was written centuries ago, hidden in a deep Russian forest, and only recently rediscovered.  Similar to Kirstin LavransdattarLaurus is an epic portrayal of human frailty, constant seeking and the great pilgrimage that is life.

101 Tips for Marrying the Right Person: Helping Singles Find Each Other, Contemplate Marriage, and Say I Do by Betsey Kerekes and Jennifer Roback Morse.

After reading and reviewing 101 Tips for a Happier Marriage: Simple Ways for Couples to Grow Closer to God and to Each Other , Betsey emailed me last Fall and asked if I’d like to read their newest book, 101 Tips for Marrying the Right Person. I really enjoyed the layout from their first book with a very short one-page reflection for each tip, it was very easy to read and the tips were simple and easily applicable. After reading through this new one, providing 101 tips for those who aren’t married yet, I enjoyed it just as well for the same reasons as their first.

Obviously I’m married already and don’t have to worry about dating anymore (thank goodness!), I still found the tips very interesting and helpful. I lent it to a single friend who said that while she’s not really ready for a book like this quite yet as she’s not seriously dating anyone right now, she still enjoyed the ease of reading the tips and could tell it could be useful to someone in a more serious relationship.

I’d recommend this book as a gift for a single friend or family member – as long as they are open to it!

Still Reading…

Marry Him and Be Submissive by Costanza Miriano T

My friends at Tan Publishing reached out to me and asked if I’d be interested in checking this one out. I have to admit, the title itself is quite provocative and I can see why there’d be a wee bit of controversy over it. Apparently it has caused quite a stir in Italy where Costanza lives so my curiosity won out and I said I’d give it a go.  I’ll report back soon.

Fearless: Conquer Your Demons and Love with Abandon by Sonja Corbitt

One day I went to the mailbox and there was a package with this beautiful book smiling up at me. Ave Maria Press knows what I like and I’m happy to get a chance to share another of Sonja’s books. If you have heard of or read Sonja’s book, Unleashed: How to Receive Everything the Holy Spirit Wants to Give You, you know Fearless is another outpouring of Sonya’s Spirit-filled love for Christ and His Beloved – YOU. In Fearless, Sonja invites readers to lay out their fears and doubts that pose an obstacles to their spiritual relationship with God and the people around them. With this book, Sonja provides a guide to Catholic Woman to help us overcome our spiritual fears and live a life full of love and joy and trust

33 Days to Merciful Love: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat in Preparation for Consecration to Divine Mercy

Speaking of Trust, I just got this book and my husband and I are going to try and work our way through it togethers. We read/prayed Gaitley’s 33 Days to Morning Glory together and we have done several Marian “To Jesus Through Mary” consecrations over the years so I’ve been looking for something that focuses specifically on a consecration to Jesus directly. I thought about trying his Consoling the Heart of Jesus but this Merciful Love seems simpler and hopefully a little easier for us both to get through together.

And I’ll add another plug for The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion: A Book of Daily Reflections our CatholicMom.com book.  

Now just because I’m one of the published authors doesn’t mean I have a bias, I really am enjoying this book! I try to sit and read the day’s reflection in the morning or whenever I can sneak in a quiet moment. The reflections are always so applicable to my own life and struggles and they provide much encouragement and guidance for personal reflection. 

Going to Read:

Station to Station: An Ignatian Journey through the Stations of the Cross by Gary Jansen

The great people at Loyola Press reached out last fall and asked if I’d like to read and review this. Christmas is still lingering but Lent will begin soon and I’m looking forward to reading this as a Lenten reflection.

Counting by 7’s

And, because one can only read so many spiritual and religious books, I needed to throw in a good fiction read for good measure. My daughter, 7th grade, read this and really, really likes it. I think I started it a while back and now I hope to finish it.

It’s fun that we both get to read the same books now that she’s getting older. At the same time, the world of Young Adult literature can be a scary place but it gives me a good excuse to read books along with her and then we can talk about it together.

Well, that’s my life-in-books update for now. I’m working on a Movie update next! I know at least one person who’ll be excited about that. 🙂

 


Touring El Salvador – Programa Velasco Educating and Empowering Children & Families 3

Last week, my daughter and I traveled to El Salvador for my younger brother’s wedding, it was an amazing experience!

I’m so thankful we got to join my family in El Salvador and get to know my brother’s wife, her family, and El Salvador. It was a trip I’ll definitely remember!

My brother was an amazing tour guide and scheduled our whole trip so that we not only celebrated their wedding feast but we also learned so much about El Salvador – it’s history and economic situation, how the people live and work (or not) – and we took in the lush beauty of the land and the delicious tastes of the local foods. (Especially the pupusas – did I mention those already?)

Today, I want to share about one of the places we visited: Programa Velasco

My brother’s friend, Annie Boyd-Ramirez, is the co-founder and executive director of Programa Velasco. I’m so proud of my brother and his heart for service, especially for people who are often forgotten or unfairly treated. He’s always been a “helper” but I think he really found his heart for service while studying in the Jesuit education system, with Ignatian spirituality at its base, which led him to El Salvador – where he also met his wife! So it was only natural that one of the places he’d take us would be to a charitable organization.

He set up a special time for all of us to come check the place out. Annie and Allison Ramirez, the in-country program coordinator, were such gracious hosts! They shared the story of Programa Velasco and answered our many, many questions. If you think I ask a lot of questions, imagine a room full of my relatives and me in one room. They even fed us delicious pan dulce (sweet bread pastries) made by one of their program participants, and lunch too – complete with a 7. earthquake for a full El Salvadoran experience.

Programa Velasco’s mission is “To educate and empower children and families to create social change in El Salvador” .

It works to achieve this mission with its three main programs: Children’s Scholarships, Family Support Services, and Women’s Empowerment Project.

The Children’s Scholarships program provides financial support for children to enroll in the child development center run by ANADES, the New Dawn Association of El Salvador, a non-profit organization that has been providing support to the people of El Salvador since 1990. The development center provides a space for children, ages 18 months to 6 years, to receive care, early-learning education, and three nutritious meals a day so their parents can work to provide for their family.

The Family Support Services provides education to the children but also for the families with monthly workshops on various parenting topics as well as access to an on-site psychologist and counseling services.

The Women’s Empowerment Project supports El Salvadorian women entrepreneurs and, as it says on their website, “attempts to reduce the effects of gender inequality and marginalization experienced by Salvadoran women.” The current cultural environment of El Salvador offers little in the way of equal work opportunities for women and they are often mistreated

You can learn more about the area of El Salvador which Programa Velasco is situated as well as a bit of the history of El Salvador on the “Where We Work” page. Though the situation in El Salvador is extremely difficult and complicated, people like Annie and Allison and organizations like Programa Velasco are doing what they can do. Their description at the bottom of that page summarizes this point very well:

Programa Velasco seeks to respond to the reality here [in El Salvador] in the way that we can – by taking small steps and “planting seeds that will one day grow”. We cannot end the violence and fear in which people live, but we can create safe spaces for children to learn, laugh and grow, and spaces for parents to start to let go of the fear and stress they live with in the daily struggle to stay afloat.

We cannot fully change the economic structures that keep the poor impoverished, but we can offer women entrepreneurs opportunities to invest in themselves and their small businesses, to gain technical and leadership skills to keep moving forward. Child sponsors and other donors offer their friendship, support, and solidarity, and together we all seek to move forward and create pockets of hope in the midst of this harsh reality.

Visiting Programa Velasco and meeting Annie and Allison and learning about the good work they do left a deep impression on me. I invite everyone to check out their website and learn more about what they do, read and listen to the program participants’ stories, and even consider donating to their program.

You can send in a one-time donation or set-up as a monthly donation , or you can designate which of their three programs you’d like to sponsor.

To give you an idea, a $35 monthly scholarship includes:

Access to the early education child development program, 2 meals and a snack per day, 2 medical check-ups per year, and individualized case managemetn and psychological services.

Ok, unsolicited promotional plug over…now the pictures!

After Annie and Allison shared their story, they took us on a tour of their beautiful facilities. In their words, the campus of Programa Velasco is a small “oasis” in one of the more underdeveloped and impoverished areas of San Salvador. (I didn’t know this at the time, that area, called San Ramon, is “one of the most marginalized and dangerous urban areas in San Salvador”! It didn’t feel like it while we were there though.)

We visited the classrooms where the kids were engaged in various activities. They all loved seeing visitors!

Lunch time – Hora del almuerzo!

Like all Latin American culture, El Salvadorans use art, often times with murals, to teach and show their history and ideas. The pictures below of the mural in the child development facility represents the “rights of a child”.

ANADES and Programa Velasco believe every child has a right to:

(left to right) good nutrition, peace and stability (security), good health care…

… (left to right) A family, education…

I can’t remember now but I think that second picture represents the right to a place to live and land maybe and the last one (on the right) is the a child’s right to recreation. At first I chuckled at that one because my kids seem to get plenty of recreation but then I thought about it more and recreation really is important and special and kids oftentimes, don’t really get enough of it.

This is random but I really liked their recycling bins. (There are recycling bins all over the city)

After touring the development facility, they arranged for us to visit the home of one of the families who participate in the Children’s Scholarships and the Family Support Services.

Penelope graciously welcomed us into her home and shared how Programa Velasco has helped her family. With the help of generous donors, three of her four children are currently enrolled at the childcare development facility. Her sweet baby – whom I got to hold! – will also go there as soon as he is old enough.

Annie Boyd and Penelope and her baby, Arielle (I’m guessing on that spelling)

Penelope shares her story, with Annie translating.

After visiting with Penelope, we went down to the ANADES dining room and were served a delicious meal of cooked chicken, rice, and veggies. This also happened to be the American Thanksgiving Day so we all wished each other a Happy Thanksgiving, chicken is close enough to turkey. 🙂 This was the first Thanksgiving all my family were together in many years!

While we were sitting there, suddenly we all thought someone was moving our chairs when I realized it was an earthquake – temblor! Until recently, I had never experienced an earthquake in Kansas but we’ve been having more in the past few years and had a bigger one (a 5.something) in August that freaked me out. Knowing we were both closer to the ocean here and in a volcanic zone made me wonder if this earthquake would do more than shift some picture frames. Somehow, we all remained calm but inside I was ready to get up and get out of there. Thankfully, there was no need to panic and we laughed off the tension and continued eating.

After lunch, they invited a woman from their Women’s Empowerment Project, Esmerelda, to come and share about her businesses and how Programa Velasco has helped her.

With Programa Velasco’s support (through the support of generous donors), Esmerelda was able to attend and complete the education and certification process to become a certified massage therapist. She’s opening her business in December and is so excited to begin her own business!

We were all inspired and moved by Esmeralda’s joy and gratitude for how Programa Velasco has helped her not only achieve her goal of starting her own business, but growing in her own self-esteem as a woman who can now do something to support herself and her family.

Her and her daughter also work together to make and serve fine pastries, like this delicious cheesecake she brought to share with all of us!

Again, I’m thankful to my brother for setting this time up for Annie and Allison to share about Programa Velasco and the great work they do to help support families and women of El Salvador.

The number and variety of charitable organizations locally and globally often times overwhelms me. Especially around this time of year, it’s agonizing deciding who to support or not. For me, before deciding which organizations and groups to support, I like to know where my money will go.

Meeting Annie and Allison, seeing the actual place and meeting the children and two of the women in the program, was truly amazing and inspiring. Take it from someone who has “seen with her own eyes”, if you decide to support Programa Velasco either by your prayers or through any generous monetary gift, your offerings and donations will most definitely be used for good.

Next, I’ll share about our tour of the home of Blessed Archbishop Oscar Romero and the church he was martyred in.


He is Our King, we His Kingdom

I’m a people watcher. I like to observe people’s behaviors, hear their thoughts, and try to discover who they are.

The ways of the world intrigue me, fascinate, and bewilder.

We, humans, are so interesting – unique, yet predictable, innovative yet, repetitive.

Sometimes, I feel like we are in the same story over and over again. The actors and scenery change but the backdrop and main storyline stay essentially the same.

For example, whenever an election year comes and new candidates are elected, there are reactions from all “sides”. Obviously, the ones who voted for the winners celebrate with great excitement filled with “hope” for a better future, a better country, better jobs, better healthcare, better everything.  Those who voted for the candidates who lost wake up the next morning in a fog, dejected and depressed and filled with a deep sense of foreboding for the future, for the country, for jobs, for healthcare, basically everything is going to be a disaster and all life, as they knew it, is over.

Happens every. single. time. Over, and over.

Through all our human history, leaders have risen and fallen.  People repeatedly put all their faith and hope in one person or a certain group of people, hoping this one might be the one that finally brings order, peace, and security.

Occasionally, we’ll get leaders who fulfill those dreams well – for a time – until the winds of change blow in and the people decide they want something different and better.

Recently, I’ve been spending more time reading the books of the Bible. I’ve been paying closer attention, seeing beyond the words and noticing the recurring theme weaved in and through its pages. The Bible is really an amazing book, if you think about it beyond its religious value. It’s the only book, that I know of, that compiles such a great span of human history – human anthropology and psychology – in one place.

It’s composed of many individual stories, written from the earliest years of humanity through millenniums of time and human experience. Each book, though written by different authors, differentiated by various times and cultures, is essentially the same story written over and over with different characters and scenery.

A person, or a group of people are lost, hungry, oppressed or suffering, hoping and waiting for someone to save them. 

Interestingly, when that help comes, it’s often scrutinized, doubted, and finally rejected by the majority – especially by the current leadership of the time.  We see it over and over in the Old Testament and by the time the “Promised Savior” does come, the people are so hardened and jaded they do not recognize him or accept him.

The people were expecting a king – a worldly general – to come and physically rescue them from the oppression of the Romans. But Christ did not come to us as a king of this world, but for another.

My kingdom does not belong to this world… (Jn 18:36)

Today, we, the Church, celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King. Admittedly, in the past, I’m not sure if I really grasped the significance of this feast day or considered how appropriate its timing is.

In the Church liturgical year, it marks the end of a liturgical year – the “Year of Mercy” – as we prepare for a new year beginning on the first Sunday of Advent next Sunday. (Yes, already!)

For our country, and as what goes on here affects the rest of the world, this marks a time of transition from the current leaders of our government to the newly elected candidates.

Once again, people from all “sides” are either very excited or at least satisfied with the election results, believing the elected leaders will bring a hopeful future; or, they are incredibly dissatisfied, stunned and even depressed thinking of what these new leaders mean for the future.

I found it very interesting when I read Catholic Culture’s explanation that, “The Feast of Christ the King was established by Pope Pius XI in 1925 as an antidote to secularism…intended to proclaim in a striking and effective manner Christ’s royalty over individuals, families, society, governments, and nations.”

Pope Pius XI saw the same problems in 1925 that we grapple with now. We all want a savior – someone who will make life easier, free-er, better.

But, like the people in 1925 and the Israelites thousands of years before us, we are looking in the wrong place, to the wrong people.

Christ, the God who became one of us, suffers with us, died and rose again in Glory – He. He is our King. He is our Lord and Master. He is our Savior, the only One who can really, truly, and completely satisfy our greatest needs and deepest desires.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t vote or try to improve our world by electing good leaders and establishing good laws and policies. The Holy Spirit works through all of us to bring goodness into the world.

And I guess that’s part of my point.

Aside from all the grumbling and protesting we hear leading up to and following each election, I’ve also noticed a recurring resolution each time:

Be the Change. Be the Good.

We look to Christ as the One, True King and Ruler of the world. And He, in turn, looks to us – to you and me – as the people who will proclaim Him to all the land. He elects us to carry out His Mission, to bring Truth, Beauty, Justice, and Love to the world.

He is our King. We are His Kingdom.

The coming of the kingdom of God cannot be observed, and no one will announce, ‘Look, here it is,’ or, ‘There it is.’ For behold, the kingdom of God is among you. (Lk 17:20-21)

The leaders of the world will come and go, empires and nations will rise and fall, laws and policies will amend and adapt.

Christ, the King, remains, always. 

Christ King[1]

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