Thursday, November 14, 2013


Been there, done that. Very true.

VIGANO-MEDJUGORJE (CORRECTED) Nov-6-2013 (300 words) With photos. xxxi
Vatican envoy reminds U.S. bishops: No ruling on Medjugorje apparitions

Pilgrims pray at Medjugorje in 2011. (CNS/Paul Haring)
By Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Vatican ambassador to the United States has reminded U.S. Catholics that the Vatican has not recognized alleged Marian apparitions in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina, as authentic.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio, wrote to Msgr. Ronny Jenkins, general secretary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and told him the reminder came as one of the visionaries was scheduled to tour U.S. parishes.

He said the reminder was being sent at the request of Archbishop Gerhard Muller, prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which has said it was not yet possible "to state that there were apparitions or supernatural revelations" by visionaries in Medjugorje, Yugoslavia.

The letter said the visionary, Ivan Dragicevic, would make presentations about Medjugorje, where six village children said they first saw Mary in June 1981. Archbishop Vigano's letter said, "It is anticipated, moreover, that Mr. Dragicevic will be receiving 'apparitions'" during his parish visits.

Most of the Medjugorje "seers" have said the apparitions have continued every day for years. Three say they still have visions each day, while the other three see Mary only once a year now. All six are now married and have children.

A blog on the National Catholic Register site said Dragicevic's U.S. tour was canceled after the letter was sent. The blog included a photocopy of the letter sent to Msgr. Jenkins, and Catholic News Service confirmed the authenticity of the letter.

A Vatican commission of cardinals, bishops, theologians and other experts, working under the auspices of the doctrinal congregation, is studying the events at Medjugorje.

While the Vatican has said dioceses should not organize official pilgrimages to Medjugorje, it has said Catholics are free to visit the town and pray there, and that the Diocese of Mostar-Duvno and the town's Franciscans should organize pastoral care for them.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Father’s Soul Returns To His Body
While my body was at the hospital, the doctor completed all examinations and I was pronounced dead. The cause of death was bleeding. My family was notified, and since they were far away, the hospital staff decided to move my dead body to the morgue. Because the hospital did not have air conditioners, they were concerned that the body would decompose quickly. As they were moving my dead body to the morgue, my soul came back to the body. I felt an excruciating pain because of so many wounds and broken bones. I began to scream, and then the people became frightened and ran away screaming. One of them approached the doctor and said: “The dead body is screaming.” The doctor came to examine the body and found that I was alive. So he said: “Father is alive, it is a miracle! Take him back to the hospital.” Now, back at the hospital, they gave me blood transfusions and I was taken to surgery to repair the broken bones. They worked on my lower jaw, ribs, pelvic bone, wrists, and right leg. After two months, I was released from the hospital, but my orthopedic doctor said that I would never walk again. I then said to him: “The Lord who gave me my life back and sent me back to the world will heal me.” Once at home, we were all praying for a miracle. Still after a month, and with the casts removed, I was not able to move. But one day while praying I felt an extraordinary pain in my pelvic area. After a short while the pain disappeared completely and I heard a voice saying: “You are healed. Get up and walk.” I felt the peace and healing power on my body. I immediately got up and walked. I praised and thanked God for the miracle. I reached my doctor with the news of my healing, and he was amazed. He said: “Your God is the true God. I must follow your God.” The doctor was Hindu, and he asked me to teach him about our Church. After studying the Faith, I baptized him and he became Catholic. Following the message from my Guardian Angel, I came to the United States on November 10, 1986 as a missionary priest.  I am currently the parish priest at St. Catherine Of Sienna Parish in Orange Park, FL.

Monday, November 11, 2013


Finally Heaven
Heaven Next, my angel escorted me to heaven passing through a big dazzling white tunnel. I never experienced this much peace and joy in my life. Then immediately heaven opened up and I heard the most delightful music, which I never heard before. The angels were singing and praising God. I saw all the saints, especially the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph, and many dedicated holy Bishops and priests who were shining like stars. And when I appeared before the Lord, Jesus told me: “I want you to go back to the world. In your second life, you will be an instrument of peace and healing to My people. You will walk in a foreign land and you will speak in a foreign tongue. Everything is possible for you with My grace..” After these words, the Blessed Mother told me: “Do whatever He tells you. I will help you in your ministries.” Words can not express the beauty of heaven.. There we find so much peace and happiness, which exceed a million times our imagination. Our Lord is far more beautiful than any image can convey. His face is radiant and luminous and more beautiful than a thousand rising suns. The pictures we see in the world are only a shadow of His magnificence.. The Blessed Mother was next to Jesus; She was so beautiful and radiant. None of the images we see in this world can compare with Her real beauty. Heaven is our real home; we are all created to reach heaven and enjoy God forever. Then, I came back to the world with my angel.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


Next Stop Purgatory
After the visit to hell, my Guardian Angel escorted me to purgatory. Here too, there are seven degrees of suffering and unquenchable fire. But it is far less intense than hell and there was neither quarreling nor fighting. The main suffering of these souls is their separation from God. Some of those who are in purgatory committed numerous mortal sins, but they were reconciled with God before their death. Even though these souls are suffering, they enjoy peace and the knowledge that one day they will see God face to face. I had a chance to communicate with the souls in purgatory. They asked me to pray for them and to tell the people to pray for them as well, so they can go to heaven quickly. When we pray for these souls, we will receive their gratitude through their prayers, and once they enter heaven, their prayers become even more meritorious. It is difficult for me to describe how beautiful my Guardian Angel is. He is radiant and bright. He is my constant companion and helps me in all my ministries, especially my healing ministry. I experience his presence everywhere I go and I am grateful for his protection in my daily life.

Saturday, November 9, 2013


A Visit To Hell
First the angel escorted me to hell. It was an awful sight! I saw Satan and the devils, an unquenchable fire of about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, worms crawling, people screaming and fighting, others being tortured by demons. The angel told me that all these sufferings were due to unrepented mortal sins. Then, I understood that there are seven degrees of suffering or levels according to the number and kinds of mortal sins committed in their earthly lives. The souls looked very ugly, cruel and horrific. It was a fearful experience. I saw people whom I knew, but I am not allowed to reveal their identities. The sins that convicted them were mainly abortion, homosexuality, euthanasia, hatefulness, unforgiveness and sacrilege. The angel told me that if they had repented, they would have avoided hell and gone instead to purgatory. I also understood that some people who repent from these sins might be purified on earth through their sufferings. This way they can avoid purgatory and go straight to heaven. I was surprised when I saw in hell even priests and Bishops, some of whom I never expected to see. Many of them were there because they had misled the people with false teaching and bad example.

Friday, November 8, 2013


One Priest’s Sobering Account Of The Afterlife!

Fr. Jose Maniyangat
For your discernment - A priest who saw heaven, hell, and purgatory on 4/14/85.  The following is not a story coming out of the rumor mill. The priest whose testimony is given below is the pastor of a Catholic Church in Florida.
Please go to our Courageous Priest Facebook page and like us.  Thanks.
Background On Father Maniyangat
A priest who saw heaven, hell, and purgatory The death experience of Father Jose Maniyangat Francais-Espanol Fr. Jose Maniyangat is currently the pastor of St. Catherine of Sienna Catholic Church in Orange Park, Florida. Here is his personal testimony:
I was born on July 16, 1949 in Kerala, India to my parents, Joseph and Theresa Maniyangat. I am the eldest of seven children: Jose, Mary, Theresa, Lissama, Zachariah, Valsa and Tom.. At the age of fourteen, I entered St. Mary’s Minor Seminary in Thiruvalla to begin my studies for the priesthood. Four years later, I went to St. Joseph’s Pontifical Major Seminary in Alwaye, Kerala to continue my priestly formation. After completing the seven years of philosophy and theology, I was ordained a priest on January 1, 1975 to serve as a missionary in the Diocese of Thiruvalla. On Sunday April 14, 1985, the Feast of the Divine Mercy, I was going to celebrate Mass at a mission church in the north part of Kerala, and I had a fatal accident. I was riding a motorcycle when I was hit head-on by a jeep driven by a man who was intoxicated after a Hindu festival. I was rushed to a hospital about 35 miles away. On the way, my soul came out from my body and I experienced death. Immediately, I met my Guardian Angel. I saw my body and the people who were carrying me to the hospital. I heard them crying and praying for me. At this time my angel told me: “I am going to take you to Heaven, the Lord wants to meet you and talk with you.” He also said that, on the way, he wanted to show me hell and purgatory.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Want to Find God? Meditate

 Given 30 seconds to say what is most important in life, it’d be simple: give yourself to God.
God gets a mixed review, obviously a favorable spin from religious or spiritual types, but still one with vague undertones of uncertainty. The advice I gave sounds good but what does it really mean, why is it important, and how should one go about doing it?

Let’s cut to the chase. Life on earth isn’t easy. Even when wealthy or healthy, people may be miserable. With no way to know what’ll happen one minute to the next, control and security are illusory. Money, power, fame, sex, etc. promise happiness but inevitably disappoint because they lead nowhere. And more, they distract us from realizing the truth about life:

We are not meant to find lasting happiness on Earth. It isn’t home. We’re immortal souls temporarily incarnate in bodies and here solely to learn, grow, and awaken spiritually. After spiritual awakening, we graduate from the earthly school of life and return to our divine home of omnipresence.

Understand that these aren’t just my fanciful ramblings. No savior ever preached, “Increase thy net worth” or “Be thou a sexual dynamo.” Rather, they taught that life is a journey of maturation, a process of spiritual growth that culminates in reuniting with the source of unending joy- God. So stop chasing toys, creation, and turn your attention toward the divine Maker.

Why is this important? Because we all seek happiness, and lasting fulfillment is only found in God. Everything we think provides joy is either a mental projection or reflection of inner soul joy. Nothing produces joy; God is joy. As one gets warm by approaching a bonfire, so to is lasting happiness gained by going to its source, Spirit. All else withers, God alone endures.

Inspiration Archives: Alan Pritz

Sunday, November 3, 2013


5 Creative Ways You Can Recharge

We have all heard about how important it is for our physical and mental health to take time to recharge and unwind to reduce stress. But we don’t often hear how important it is to our creative side. Nor do we seem to hear about “creative” ways to unwind. In order to stay fresh and generate new ideas, it is vitally important to recharge. With that in mind, here are some more creative or unusual ways to get your creative juices flowing again.

Do something different that uses your creative side, your imagination, and your brain. While this might sound obvious, most of us often need a reminder to actually do something that taps into our creativity and expressiveness. Sing, paint, dance, take photos, learn a new instrument, learn to sculpt, or learn to design landscapes. Do anything that takes you out of your familiar zone and into a new one. If you don’t know where to start on your own, sign up for a class.

Daydream. Much has been written about how daydreaming is essential for writers and artists because some of their best ideas come that way. But, it’s also essential for anyone who wants to de-stress and re-charge themselves and their creativity. Famous daydreamers including Newton, Einstein, and Edison came up with their greatest ideas via daydreams.

After daydreaming, go out and do something fun. When we are having fun the best parts of ourselves come out. When we are having fun we don’t feel stress, and release the stress that we started with. So go ahead — jump on the bed, dance at a concert, visit a museum, draw with crayons, call a friend. There is no “right or wrong” way to do this — do what YOU think is fun.

Write or journal without thinking. Just write, free flow to get out your feelings. It opens up your brain and lets things come out. Some ideas to get you started: write down all of the things you are happy about or are grateful for, list your dreams, your fun to-do list, all the things you have dreamt of doing but haven’t.

Grab a piece of paper and pen, and start writing. Free writes can tap into ideas we didn't realize we had.

Stop multitasking! Put those electronic devices down, stop checking those texts and emails, and just pick one creative thing and focus on it. I find that when I focus on something, even something as mundane as weeding or making a to-do list, I forget everything else and find the ideas start to flow again. I not only release the stress, but clear my mind, and I am better able to finish my work or finish writing something that I am stuck on.

What are your processes for recharging and awakening the creative side?

Friday, November 1, 2013


10 Ways to Alkalize Your Body Today

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Acidity has been linked to pain, excess weight and many other health issues. Fortunately, making your body more alkaline (the opposite of acidic) is easy.  Here are 10 ways to alkalize your body for more energy and vitality:
1. Start your day with a large glass of water with the juice of a whole, freshly-squeezed lemon. While lemons may seem acidic, they have the opposite effect on your body as it metabolizes them.

2. Eat a large green salad tossed in lemon juice and olive oil. Greens are among the best sources of alkaline minerals, like calcium.

3. Snack on raw, unsalted almonds. Almonds are packed with natural alkaline minerals like calcium and magnesium, which help to balance out acidity while balancing blood sugar.

4. Drink an almond milk and berry smoothie with added green powder like spirulina, chlorella, or other greens. Choose almond milk over cow’s milk, since the latter is acid-forming.

5. Go for a brisk walk or some other exercise. Exercise helps move acidic waste products so your body can better eliminate them.

6. Breathe deeply. Ideally, choose a spot that has fresh, oxygen-rich air. And, sorry Febreze, Glade, and all the other so-called “air fresheners”: air filled with these scents is not what I’m talking about here.

7. Go meat-free for a day… or longer if you like. During the metabolism of meat, there is an acid residue left behind.

8. Skip the sugar-laden dessert or soda.  Sugar is one of the mosyogt acidic foods we consume. You need over 30 glasses of neutral water just to neutralize the acidity of ONE can of soda.

9. Add more veggies to your diet. No, potatoes don’t count. But sweet potatoes are a good choice (provided you’re not slathering them in sweeteners or butter).  Asparagus, squash, peppers, and other vegetables are also excellent choices.

10. Sprout it out. Add more sprouts to your daily diet. They are extremely alkalizing and supercharged with nutrients and energy-boosting enzymes.

Subscribe to my free e-newsletter World’s Healthiest News to receive monthly health news, tips, recipes and more. Follow me on Twitter @mschoffrocook and Facebook.  Adapted from The Ultimate pH Solution by Michelle Schoffro Cook.  Copyright Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD.

10 Tips for Creating an Alkaline-Acid Balance
Try Alkaline Foods to Feel Better
4 Essential Alkaline Recipes

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013


4 Ways States Could Spend Big Tobacco’s Money

Just 15 years ago, tobacco companies were told to give $246 billion over 25 years to state governments. During this lawsuit, Mississippi led the pack, with the state attorney general, Mike Moore, filing the first state lawsuit against the tobacco companies, and not without good reason.
While, at the time, the tobacco companies could hold individuals accountable for their choice to smoke and thus not having to pay out on individual lawsuits, Moore contested that, since the states had to cover medical bills for low birthweight babies, heart disease, lung cancer, emphysema, and other tobacco-related health problems, that big tobacco should have to foot some of that bill. He won in the largest civil litigation settlement in history.
Now, about $100 billion of that $246 billion has been paid to states. Part of the settlement money was supposed to go to public service announcements like the infamous Truth campaign and smoking cessation programs, but lots of it came without stipulations, meaning that state governments could use the fund in whatever way they chose. This meant that every new governor could tap the fund dry for things other than anti-smoking public service announcements and/or education.
It could be worse. In Mississippi, as in many states across the nation, teen smoking is down 50 percent and adult smoking is down 25 percent. For that, we have public service announcements, prevention programs and cessation support groups to thank — many of which are funded by the tobacco settlement. However, these funds could be put to better use to make even more of a difference. Here are some more ways states can spend big tobacco’s money to make even more of a dent in their profits.

1. Develop Better Quitting Techniques
Nicotine patches, electronic cigarettes, nicotine gum, prescription medication — all of these methods have proven effective for some who are trying to quit smoking. However, many people don’t quit or delay quitting because it’s hard to do. If the money from big tobacco could fund research whose sole goal was to develop ways to make it easier to quit smoking, more people might take the plunge into a smoke-free life.I

2. Start Publicly-Funded Fitness Centers
Total health is not just about not smoking; it’s about getting a good workout and fueling your body with the right stuff. Many athletes I know wouldn’t touch a cigarette because it would be detrimental to their athletic performance. I also know just as many people who have addictive personalities and, once they realized how good going to the gym could make them feel — and how much better it made them feel than smoking did — decided to quit smoking once and for all.
In fact, a 2006 study in Austria found that people who attempt to quit smoking are more likely to do so if they follow an exercise routine. Publicly-funded fitness centers could aid in reducing smoking by involving kids in free fitness courses at a young enough age that they understand health and wellness before it’s too late, and it can motivate others to stop smoking or not start in the first place.

3. Bring Anti-Tobacco Education into Elementary and High Schools
I cannot stress this enough: stopping the smoking epidemic starts with prevention as the most important element. D.A.R.E. or Drug Abuse Resistance Education has been around since I was in grade school — almost 20 years ago — and, while the program is wildly popular, it has actually been found to be ineffective. We should avoid popular programs like D.A.R.E., but spend the money into more effective programs.
Effective programs should target teenagers, who often start to smoke because they feel insecure and stressed out, and they think cigarettes will make them look cool and reduce their stress level. Programs that take into account cultural and peer issues students face and use those issues to show students how to make smart choices.  This would be a great way to spend big tobacco’s money.

4. Develop a Reward System for Remaining Smoke-Free
Kids and adults both love being rewarded, especially for things they are already doing. Actually, the reason smoking is so addictive is because it tricks the body’s reward system into activating itself. Why don’t we spend some money working on a real reward system that will reward people for not smoking rather than the fake rewards we get from smoking? It would be a complicated thing to do, but if states could develop a reward system for non-smokers with the money big tobacco pays them, it could be cheaper than healthcare costs for those who do smoke.
Why not give non-smokers a refund check at the end of the year, or a little something extra like a gift card or free month at the gym? Rewards help people stay on track, and remind them to do what’s right for themselves.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


7 Countries That Still Kill “Witches”

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You know how the long-ago witch hunts were stupid and hateful? What a relief those days are over.
Except they’re not. In many countries, people are still killed on suspicion of witchcraft. United Nations experts cautioned in 2009 that murders of women and children accused of sorcery were on the rise. Following are just a few of many examples from around the world.

1. Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia’s religious police department has an official Anti-Witchcraft Unit that it dispatches to catch sorcerers and break their spells. In 2007, the Saudis executed an accused sorcerer. A woman awaiting the death penalty for alleged witchcraft died in prison.
Like the New England witch hunters of yore, those in Saudi Arabia use magic as a convenient excuse to silence inconvenient people. Accusations of sorcery have been leveled against foreign women working as domestics for Saudi families who charge their employers with sexual assault, according to Saudi Arabia expert Christoph Wilcke.

2. Tanzania
This east African country killed approximately 600 elderly women on charges of witchcraft just two years ago. The Pew Forum on Religious and Public Life found a strong and pervasive belief in magic among Tanzanians. It sometimes leads to reverence rather than murder. One woman who claims to be a witch charges between $20 and $120 for services including medical cures and exorcisms — in a country where the average income is under two dollars a day.

3. Gambia
Gambia’s dictator Yahya Jammeh rounds up, tortures and kills his citizens under the pretext of hunting for witches. Amnesty International estimates that at least six people died after Jammeh’s minions forced them to drink a mixture of unknown substances. Dozens more hallucinated and suffered severe and lingering pain. Those who survived suffered shame from the accusation in a country where people believe in and condemn witches.

4. Nepal
Last year a mob burned an accused witch alive after a shaman said she killed a boy. Their faith in the shaman suggests that Nepalis believe that sorcery can be used for good, but the punishment for black magic is death. This year another mob beat a 45-year-old woman to death based on accusations that she cast a spell on a neighbor’s daughter. The Nepali government is not on board with killing witches: police arrested three women suspected of participating in the murder. In the past it sentenced men to 20 years in prison for killing a woman suspected of practicing black magic.
5. India
Last June, a primarily female crowd killed two women believed to have murdered several children through witchcraft. As in Nepal, police arrested people suspected of participating in the mob. Some Indian states have adopted laws banning violence against people suspected of witchcraft.

6. Papua New Guinea
A crowd tortured and murdered a young mother accused of killing a boy through sorcery. They burned her alive before a large audience, some of whom broke off to chase police away before they could intervene. The prime minister lamented that violence against women is increasing because of the popular “belief that sorcery kills,” despite a law that specifically prohibits burning suspected witches.

7. Uganda
After burning a man’s house down and driving him from his village, locals tied him up and beheaded him for alleged witchcraft. While Ugandans kill some suspected witches, they pay others to help them with things like ensuring job security.

This is a small sampling of countries where natives believe in witchcraft and kill people for it. While the governments of some nations, including Saudi Arabia and Gambia, embrace this belief and use it to their own ends, others are working to end it. Either way, accusations of black magic empower people to eliminate individuals they dislike and to terrify others into conformity.
It all makes Halloween witch costumes a little less funny.

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Last year just before Halloween, Our Lord asked me to give a talk on Halloween. I did not do it. Last week He reminded me I need to give it and be obedient.

The message I received was: Halloween is not of Me. No costumes, witches, goblins, makeup to cover insecurities that people feel. My Name and Holiness is desecrated on that day. Black masses and witch’s brew mix with total evil and tear apart the family values that so many of My People try to form all year long. Satanic music blares over loudspeakers. They think it is acceptable but it is not. Tons of literature saturate the classroom, libraries, and bookstores.  Parades of costumes glorify the untruth. Stores fill their shelves with grotesque items.

It is the same with movies and posters on Halloween. They are evil and not of Me. I do not profess My Love with weapons of destruction such as swords that people carry. Snakes and tarantulas are as lowly as the serpent that tempted My Son in the desert. He is the same serpent that tempted Adam and Eve in Paradise. My Son was strong and you should be, too. You need to give a talk on the evil that abounds rather than participate in their shenanigans.

A candlelight service to the dead is respectful. There should be more of them.

The following is taken from a talk I give on Inner Healing at Prayer Healing Ministry and also included in the Life in the Spirit Seminars:

Lord, for any dabbling in the occult: horoscopes, crystals, crystal ball gazing, Ouija boards, tarot cards, fortune telling, tea leaves, palm reading, gambling, sorcery, hypnotism, new age, ESP, telepathy, psychic healing, some martial arts, some yoga, believing in UFO’s -- free me. For dealings with supernatural forces, secretive phenomena, Celtic beliefs, leprechauns, four-leaf clovers, good-luck charms, Halloween, Jack o’ lanterns, ghosts, poltergeists, witchcraft, sorcery, skulls, voodoo dolls, love potions, books and movies that talk about these subjects, especially the Harry Potter books – unbind me.

For familial diseases that have been passed down through my ancestors in my blood line to the next generation, especially those that surface between the ages of 12 and 16 – break that generational curse right now, Lord.  For any type of sin that may have been transferred to me just by touching or listening to those with evil spirits through the radio or television, Internet, vile movies, lustful pictures, pornography, heavy-metal music – I plead the Blood of Jesus to cleanse me.

Lord, for the sin of omission, I ask forgiveness. For those times I sat back and failed to evangelize, to stand up for Christian beliefs, for not sharing with the needy, not going to church – I ask you to make me bold in the Spirit.

On the brighter side, I put this on my Small White Hearts blog: being a Christian is like being a pumpkin. God lifts you up, takes you in, and washes all the dirt off you. He opens you up, touches you deep inside, scoops out all the yucky stuff –including the seeds of doubt, hate, greed, etc. Then He carves you a new smiling face and puts His light inside you to shine for all the world to see.

God bless.

Norma Morrison
October 29, 2013
Given to St. Kateri Prayer Group
Permission to share




Monday, October 28, 2013


Open the Doors

Karen Gargamelli
Vacant convents offer a new opportunity for service
Christ in the City missionaries clean up the courtyard of Seton House in Denver, July 2012. Nearly 30 missionaries from across the country moved into the former convent to begin work serving the homeless.
We live in a unique time of possibility and hope. Although the number of women religious is dwindling, they remain the lifeblood of our church, and their convents are holy and fertile ground for new communities of faith. My suggestion: Keep the convents. Open the doors to lay people. Welcome migrants and the homeless. It is a simple plan with a simple mission as old as the church itself: Form local communities of faith where people can practice the works of mercy and grow intellectually and spiritually.
In New York City each night there are approximately 55,000 men, women and children who are homeless. As a housing attorney, I know that thousands more face (and fight) eviction each day. Rather than look to the state to meet the need for shelter, Peter Maurin, co-founder with Dorothy Day of the Catholic Worker movement, suggested that clergy and laity set aside rooms within their own homes for hospitality. Maurin, following St. Jerome, called them “Christ rooms.” The Catholic Worker movement, as originally intended, relied on small acts of service and hospitality by millions of Catholics. Dorothy Day wrote in 1938: “When we succeed in persuading our readers to take the homeless into their homes…then we will be known as Christians because of the way we love one another.”
This call to hospitality is not burdensome, but an opportunity. The Catholic Church is the largest landowner in New York City, and there are nearly three million Catholics in this archdiocese. We have the space in New York—and elsewhere. In many cities across the country, where there were 20 sisters living in a convent in 1980, now there are only two or three. Floors of bedrooms with beds, nightstands, closets and desks are ready for use. Kitchens with industrial-sized pots and stoves with extra burners—all sturdy and scrubbed—are waiting to serve. Bathrooms are ready to offer hot showers. Moreover, convents are often connected with and accessible to parishes, which can offer many resources. The community members could pay (fair) rent, bringing much needed money to struggling parishes or congregations. In this way, we could act as good stewards of the land and safeguard and cultivate the property God has given to the church.
Although convents are equipped for volume and there is a tremendous need for housing, I am not advocating for packed houses. The works of mercy are not “operations” or “programs.” The goal of our work must be love. The community’s growth must be guided by the Holy Spirit and be the result of reflection and dialogue.
Many people in the church have heeded the call to service and justice, but lack community. So we kindly and humbly turn to those religious who have served before us and ask: If you are no longer using the convents and rectories, could lay Catholics help form supportive communities and offer hospitality in these spaces? Lay and religious could live together and learn from one another. In this way, we can create a continuum from strong and vibrant communities of vowed religious to a strong and vibrant community of lay Catholics, and we could discover new ways to conceive of “religious” and “lay.” There may be new kinds of vows and new commitments. The evangelical councils of poverty, chastity and obedience will take on new meaning. Rather than professing lifelong vows, there could be shorter commitments—like two, five or 10 years.
Too often the activities and practices we are called to—like offering hospitality, tending a garden or visiting the imprisoned—are nearly impossible when we must rely on our own resources. In these communities Catholics, working low-paying but critical jobs, could share resources. We could take turns caring for a guest, share the responsibility of maintaining land or share a car, making the burden lighter on each individual. When we share our talents and training (as nurses and doctors, lawyers and teachers, social workers and journalists) with the community, we multiply our resources and increase our ability to serve and work for justice.
Meister Eckhart wrote: “And suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new and trust in the magic of beginnings.” I have been discussing the concept of these communities for years, and have experimented with living out these values in a variety of ways with various levels of support from friends, family and the church. To my great surprise, the idea recently received support from another source. In September, Pope Francis visited a refugee center in Rome and said that empty convents and monasteries should be used to house those in need. These empty spaces, he said, “are not for the church to transform into hotels and make money from them. Empty convents are not ours, they are for the flesh of Christ: refugees.” Once we were overjoyed when the windows of the church were thrown open. Today we are experiencing a new moment in our church: Pope Francis has called for us to open the doors, too.
Karen Gargamelli, a former volunteer with the Dominican Sisters, is co-founder and staff attorney of Common Law, a legal education and services organization in New York City.

Saturday, October 26, 2013


15 Surprising Uses for Baking Soda

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From green cleaning to personal care, baking soda is a little scrubby dynamo! Check out these 15 surprising uses for baking soda.

Eco-friendly cleaning supplies and green beauty products are expensive, and they tend to come in disposable plastic packaging. Next time you need to wash your hair, scrub pots and pans, or even get crafty with your kids, grab that cardboard box of baking soda instead!
Related Reading: 17 Surprising Uses for Vinegar
When you’re making your own supplies with baking soda, you get to choose exactly what ingredients go into it. You can also choose to use reclaimed packaging to reduce waste. These are some of the containers I like to use when I’m making baking soda cleaning and beauty products:
  • old baby food jars
  • used, cleaned mason jars or other glass food jars that I’ve washed well
  • reclaimed spray bottles
  • used shampoo and conditioner bottles (just rinse out really well)
For me, storing what I make in reclaimed containers is as important as creating a healthy product to go inside it. What upcycled containers do you like to use when you’re whipping up homemade cleaning and beauty supplies? Let’s swap storage tips in the comments!
You know that baking soda is great for cooking, and you probably already use it in some unconventional ways, like to deodorize your carpets or even brush your teeth. Baking soda’s basic pH and natural grit make it perfect for all kinds of cleaning. Check out these personal care and green cleaning uses for baking soda.

Personal Care Uses for Baking Soda

1. Wash your hair. With just baking soda and one other non-toxic ingredient, you can wash your hair without harsh (and expensive!) shampoo. Get the deets here!
2. DIY Deodorant. Combine 1/4 cup baking soda with 10 drops of your favorite essential oil for the easiest homemade deodorant ever. To use, just get some of the powder onto your fingers, and rub it gently into your pits, then brush off any excess baking soda.
3. Make a face scrub. Baking soda makes a great scrub for normal skin. Click here for 3 DIY face scrub recipes, including a baking soda scrub for normal skin. The tiny grains can be harsh on sensitive skin, so if your skin is delicate you’re better off sticking with a sugar or salt scrub instead.
4. DIY acne remedy. Combine baking soda with just enough water to form a paste, and dab it onto your blemish at bedtime, then wash it off in the morning. Since baking soda is a salt, you don’t want to put it onto a blemish that’s popped, because it will sting like crazy.
Related Reading: 10 DIY Winter Skincare Recipes
5. Dry shampoo for your dog. Is your dog a little stinky, but you don’t have time to do a proper bath right now? Sprinkle baking soda onto your pup’s fur, then use a brush to work the baking soda in and out of the fur. You want to brush until there’s no baking soda left, then wipe her down with a dry towel.
6. Treat your feet. Make a paste of baking soda, water and a little lavender or chamomile essential oil to exfoliate your feet.
7. Treat a UTI. If you feel the symptoms of a UTI coming on, check out how to use baking soda as a natural remedy. I’d still recommend following up with a doctor, because an untreated UTI can turn into a kidney infection, and that is bad news. Just as some UTIs don’t respond to certain antibiotics, some will need a little more than baking soda to get rid of them.

Clean stainless steel. Next time your stainless steel cookware has stubborn, stuck-on food, sprinkle some baking soda onto your sponge before scrubbing. It cuts the grease, and the granules help scrub the mess away.
9. Get the smell out of glass jars. Have you been saving old sauce and pickle jars for crafting? Glass is porous, so it tends to really hang onto odors. Here’s how you can use baking soda to get rid of any soaked-in smell in glass jars!
10. Safely clean baby toys. Whenever I clean my son’s toys, I worry about soap residue, since every toy goes straight into his mouth when I hand it to him. It turns out that you can use a mixture of 1/4 cup baking soda in 1 quart of water to clean baby toys much more safey.
11. Deodorize upholstery. Put down the toxic Febreeze! Next time your sofa is a little bit stinky, sprinkle on some baking soda, wait 15 minutes, then vacuum it away. Your room will smell great without spraying harmful chemicals into the air.
Related Reading: 4 DIY Clean Laundry Tips
12. Make non-toxic water colors. Combine 2 tablespoons baking soda, 2 tablespoons flour, 2 teaspoons sugar, and 2 teaspoons water. Mix it up really well to create your paint base. Divide up the paint base, then use food coloring to get whatever colors you want to use.
13. Clean your shower curtain. Do you feel terrible every time you have to replace your plastic shower curtain? A sponge, a little water, and a sprinkle of baking soda can help get the hard water and mildew stains off to prolong its life.
14. DIY laundry detergent. Baking soda is a key ingredient in making your own inexpensive, DIY laundry detergent. Click here for the recipe.
15. Scrub produce clean. Want to get the pesticides and wax off of that apple? Use a little baking soda and water to scrub, then just rinse the baking soda away.
How is Baking Soda Produced?
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Becky Striepe

Becky Striepe is a freelance writer and vegan crafter living in Atlanta, Georgia. Her life’s mission is to make green crafting and vegan food accessible to everyone! Like this article? You can follow Becky on Twitter or find her on Facebook!


+ add your own
4:41PM PDT on Oct 16, 2013
I hear it cleans human hair too but I haven't had the courage to try
4:30PM PDT on Oct 16, 2013
thank you
3:13PM PDT on Oct 16, 2013
1:36PM PDT on Oct 16, 2013
Irina Brenner Irina B. 
  • send a green star
    1:56AM PDT on Oct 16, 2013
    Arm & Hammer; poor man's cancer treatment. Sodium bicarbonate helps to save countless lives every day. A baking soda/molasses combination causes a drastic pH alkaline spike that oxygenate cancer cells to their demise. Since cancer cells thrive by fermenting sugar, the molasses is the bait that allows baking soda's alkaline influence to enter and oxygenate them.
    5:27PM PDT on Oct 15, 2013
    I have two favorite uses for baking soda. For splinters and thorns, make a paste of baking soda and water, put some on the splinter or thorn and some on the pad of a Band-Aid. Apply the Band-Aid and usually the splinter will be out within 12 - 24 hours. The second use is as a non-toxic goo-remover (label adhesives, masking tape, etc.): Two parts baking soda, one part vegetable oil. You can either scrub it off or do it the easy way, let it sit for a day or so and the gluey mess will just wipe away (or come off in the dishwasher).
    2:22PM PDT on Oct 15, 2013
    good to kno

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