Monday, June 03, 2019

Father's Day Gift Ideas

* Contains affiliate links.  No, that doesn't mean that the kids should leave the room.  Rather, it means that if you click on a link, and if you purchase something, I may get some financial remuneration for that click and buy.  All that means is that my kids will finally get to eat, just kidding but I may get something, just so you know...

Father's Day is right around the corner and if you are like me, you are probably reading this on the Saturday before Father's Day wondering why Amazon hasn't got that whole delivery within an hour or drone thing going on.  If it is the day before Father's Day, I may be able to help you out but I'd suggest bookmarking this article for next year.

Below you will find a list of ideas for dad on Father's Day.  These ideas are based on the things that I've received, bought, or coveted over the years.  They may not be right for your dad or baby daddy, or grandpa or baby grandpa (is that even a thing), but then again, they might.  If they are right for you and yours, you are welcome.

#10* - A Rugged Rosary from Real Life Rosary - Yes, am starting with a shameless plug for my own rosaries.  I'm not only the owner, I'm a customer.  Seriously though, this picture shows the rosary I carry with me everyday.  These rosaries will stand up to anything dad can throw at them.  They won't snag on stray thread in the pocket, rattle in the woods and spook that big buck, or make you think there's a cat in the dryer if it gets washed and dried.  If it ever breaks, send it back and it will be replaced, no problem!  Where else can you get a rosary that will last a lifetime for $7?



#9* - Nalgene Wide-Mouth Loop-Top Water Bottle - I've had my Nalgene for 10 years and I use it everyday.  It's rugged, I've even used it to roll on when trying to crack my back or massage my legs.  You can put warm or cool liquids in it.  I've put hot coffee in it with no ill effects on it or me...  Even if dad isn't a camper or backpacker, it's great just to have on the desk.  It holds 32 oz so dad can keep track of his daily water intake.  The only thing that has happened to mine is that the lid loop broke.  I bought a new lid for a couple of bucks, good as new.



#8* - French Press Coffee Mug - Yeah, that's right, a French Press MUG!!!  I have two and I seldom drink coffee any other way.  These mugs work just like a regular French Press but it is a mug.  So, put in your coffee grounds, pour in some boiling water, wait a few minutes, stir, put the press/lid on and begin pressing the grounds down, drink, and enjoy.  It makes incredible tasting coffee for one at a fraction of the cost of those sissy Keurig things.  This mug even has a hidden compartment for storing more coffee.  Dad will love it...as long as he doesn't like cream and sugar with his coffee, if that's the case, move along to the next idea....



#7 - Wilderness Expedition with Wilderness Outreach - Does your dad love the outdoors?  Does he love the mountains of the American West?  Does he love his Catholic Faith or growing in his Faith?  Does he enjoy work, asceticism, camping, praying, hiking, and brotherhood?  If so, an Expedition may be something to offer for Father's day. I've been on three expeditions and they are life-changing.  Click on the link to learn more.


#6* - A gift subscription to Audible - I love to read but I love it even more when someone reads to me. I don't always have time to read all the books I want to so thankfully there's Audible so that I can listen to the books while doing other things like walking, driving, or making rosaries.  The audio books are very affordable and yearly subscriptions make them even more so.  Plus, dad can listen on his phone, computer, tablet, or MP3 player!  My Audible library has hundreds of titles that I've purchased over the years.  With over 180,000+ titles, dad is sure to find a great book.  I'd recommend The Gates of Fire and The Count of Monte Cristo to start.


I hope these help you with your Father's Day shopping.  If this link is highlighted, that means you should click it and read on for the top 5 gift ideas.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Into the Night



The sadness of Christ,
For the coming sin,
This one shared his table,
His cup, once a friend.

Betrayal, deceit, and lies,
Who is it Lord?
Surely, it is not I?

One who sits and sups,
One who witnessed all,
One who values passing things,
One who Satan calls.

Betrayal, deceit, and lies,
Who is it Lord?
Surely, it is not I?

Upon his breast his beloved,
This morsel do you see,
To him whom I give,
One last attempt a friend to be.

Betrayal, deceit, and lies,
Who is it Lord?
Surely, it is not I?

The sin completed,
If only in the heart,
No turning back,
The night that here did start.

Betrayal, deceit, and lies,
Who is it master?
Surely, it is not I?

Back to the Son,
He follows shadow low,
The silver loses glimmer,
Upon the path he chose.

Betrayal, deceit, and lies,
Who is it rabbi?
Surely, it is not I?

It was night, as always is,
When going away from Him,
Away from the Light, into the darkness,
The black pit of selfish sin.

Betrayal, deceit, and lies,
Who is it LORD!?
Surely, it is I.

FROM THE SAINTS - "These things are written that we bear not malice towards those who injure us; but rebuke them and weep for them; for the fit subjects of weeping are not they who suffer, but they who do the wrong. The grasping man, the false accuser, and whoso works any other evil thing, do themselves the greatest injury, and us the greatest good, if we do not avenge ourselves. Such a case as this: some one has robbed you; have you given thanks for the injury, and glorified God? by that thanksgiving you have gained ten thousand rewards, just as he has gathered for himself fire unspeakable. [...] Wherefore Christ also repaid him who was about to betray Him with everything opposite. He washed his feet, convicted him secretly, rebuked him sparingly, tended him, allowed him to share His table and His kiss, and not even by these was he made better; nevertheless (Christ) continued doing His own part." - St. John Chrysostom Hom. on St. John #71

Click here to read more from James M. Hahn - Blog  -  Books



* Contains affiliate links.  No, that doesn't mean that the kids should leave the room.  Rather, it means that if you click on a link, and if you purchase something, I may get some financial remuneration for that click and buy.  All that means is that my kids will finally get to eat, just kidding but I may get something, just so you know...

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Book Bundle A


We need to clear off some of our shelf space in the house so we're offering book bundles.

Book Bundle A includes
Fighting Mad: Practical Solutions for Conquering Anger by Dr. Ray Guarendi
The Moviegoer by Walker Percy
The End of the Present World and the Mysteries of the Future Life by Fr. Charles Arminjon
Dangers to the Faith: Recognizing Catholicism's 21st Century Opponents by Al Kresta
Darwin's Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design by Stephen C. Meyer

Retail Value: $85.83
Buy Now for $40 plus $14.95 Flat Rate Priority Shipping






Click here to read more from James M. Hahn - Blog  -  Books



* Contains affiliate links.  No, that doesn't mean that the kids should leave the room.  Rather, it means that if you click on a link, and if you purchase something, I may get some financial remuneration for that click and buy.  All that means is that my kids will finally get to eat, just kidding but I may get something, just so you know...

Habit #6 of Holy Catholic Families

(Click here to start from the beginning)

Habit #6 - Synergize




We host a monthly Rosary and Dessert at our home where we invite families to join us in praying the rosary. This time of prayer is followed by delicious desserts and an afternoon of fellowship. Lately we’ve been inviting families to spend more time in our home by following the Rosary and Dessert with dinner. It allows for more time for the adults to get to know one another and the kids to play.

At one of these recent events a lady commented on all the hustle and bustle going on in the kitchen. She was observing 8-10 adults and nearly 30 children glide in and out of the kitchen preparing food, serving food, and all without a mess. She said, “it looks like you all are dancing a choreographed dance. Kids duck, plates go up, spoons dish out, it’s amazing.”

That is synergy. It is when two or more work together to make something better than one could make alone. It’s the flight of geese. It’s the symphony. It’s the championship team. It’s the EMT’s, firefighters, and law enforcement saving lives together. It’s everyone doing their best, working together to make something great happen, even if it is just a “dance” in the kitchen at dinner time.

Yet synergy doesn’t just happen, at least not in the human realm, naturally. Everyone must have a common goal. The “dancers” must know their moves. They must also know their strengths and weaknesses.

For a family to synergize the members need more than just each other and awareness of their special skills and abilities. They must also be immersed in the grace of God. To paraphrase terribly, the family that prays together, synergizes together.

Does your family synergize? When I think about this question as it relates to my own family I would be tempted to say, “rarely”. However, perhaps my idea of synergy (and yours) is misplaced. Synergy is not perfection. It is not everyone getting along all of the time. Synergy is not the postcard-perfect family picture at Christmas time (how do people manage that?).

If we look at the image of the geese above we see a moment of synergy. We see a moment in time where everyone is clicking. The lead goose is cutting through the air creating an updraft for those behind. This in turn makes the flight easier for the two behind him. Their updraft makes it easier for those behind and so on. The flock behind, enjoying the ease of flight because of those in front are in turn lending their voices to encourage those in front. When the lead goose needs a break, he falls back in formation and another takes his spot.

Yet, again, this is a snapshot. We do not see the sick one that cannot keep up and must land for a time. We do not see the splintering of the flock and how now there are two weak flocks rather than one. Synergy is wonderful, it’s a goal, but it’s not a constant. The championship team may lose a game on its journey to greatness. Members of the symphony may hit the wrong notes. Families are filled with people, living stones that occasionally sin, splinter, and hit wrong notes.

Synergy is a goal but perfect synergy only happens in Heaven. While we are here, while we are on our journey, our flight toward Heaven, synergistic moments will help propel us forward. We’ll address ideas to help foster synergy in your family in the 5 Practical Steps of this Parent Connection. For now though, don’t fret if your family doesn’t synergize every moment of every day. Be open to God’s grace working in the life of your family. Be open to seeing even those small moments of synergy like when the kids are playing quietly together or when the family is simply together eating a meal. Little moments of synergy, moments of grace are the “words” of encouragement from the Lord urging us ever onward and upward towards our Heavenly home.


Memory Device - 1+1>2

To help remind us that synergy is more than simply the sum of people involved we use the memory device 1+1>2. It reminds us that when we work together we can find a better way. Too often we only approach things in life as either “my way” or “your way”. Synergy offers a “better way” or a “higher way”. It grows directly from the exercise of Habit #5 - Seek First to Understand, then to be Understood. When we synergize we understand the other’s solution and they understand ours and we all feel understood. Once this task is accomplished, a higher way will often reveal itself.


Faith Connection - Living in a state of Grace

Living a synergistic life in our families means living in the state of Grace. This state of Grace is a life lived within the Sacraments. Frequent reception of the Eucharist can strengthen the life of God (grace) within each family member. This Most Blessed Sacrament strengthens us for our journey and can make us more Christ-like. It truly is the “source and summit of the Christian life” as the Catechism tells us. Frequent recourse to the sacrament of Reconciliation helps free us from the things that weigh us down, the sin that hinders our flight toward Heaven. These two sacraments are our wings on this journey. Frequent reception of these sacraments can help us live a synergistic life, a life of Grace.


Sacrament Connection - Holy Orders (God+Priest+People)

We can see synergy and our memory device clearly in the sacrament of Holy Orders. This sacrament is crucial for synergy with each other and God. In all of the sacraments, most often administered through the priest or deacon, we can see that the sum is much larger than its parts. The sacraments require synergy with God, His priests, and each other. Baptism requires God, His minister (priest or deacon)*, and us. If we think about it carefully, so do all of the other sacraments. Holy Orders is the sacrament that helps facilitate synergy in our lives. It is the sacrament that joins us to God in the life of Grace through all of the other sacraments.
*in cases of necessity, anyone can baptize (see CCC 1256 for more information)


Virtue/Vice Connection - Lust/Chastity

Lust causes us to use others for our own purposes and/or pleasure. It is anti-synergistic. It is a sin that sees the other not as a soul created in the image and likeness of God destined for Heaven. Rather it blinds us to this reality and causes us to use others instead of working with the other toward Heaven. Chastity on the other hand allows us to see others (and ourselves) for who we truly are, Children of the King. Chastity helps us see clearly the goodness and dignity of others and prompts us to help them on their journey toward Heaven. Living a chaste life helps us to love others as God loves them and walk with them or rather fly with them toward the Lord!


5 Practical Steps

  1. Conduct experiments to show that your family members need one another and that the family is stronger when they are together.
  • Experiment #1 - ask your children to tie their shoes with one hand. It can’t easily be done. Now ask someone to lend a hand to the other. Although it may still be difficult to tie the shoe, working together it can be done!
  • Experiment #2 - give your child(ren) a popsicle stick and ask them to break it. This is easily done. Now give them 4-5 stick and ask them to break them all at once. This is a difficult feat even for the strongest. Help them to see that together, as a family, you are stronger than anyone alone. This is also a good opportunity to remind your children and spouse that everyone is in this together and that they should never feel alone. If they have a problem they are dealing with (work, school, addiction, etc.) they shouldn’t be afraid to seek help. Together the family is unbreakable. Satan likes to break us one by one, it’s the only way he can do it!!
  1. Plan a meal together as a family. Allow each person to come up with a favorite dish and work together to synergize the menu. Help each person contribute to the creation of the meal, homemade placemats, etc.

  2. Host a family talent night. Allow each member to show off his or her talents. Encourage members to be creative and show talents that perhaps the rest of the family hadn’t seen before. Help all to see how unique gifts, no matter how seemingly insignificant, contribute to the beauty of the family.

  3. The next time there is an argument in the family use the Synergy Action Plan - 1) Define the problem. 2) Listen to the other. 3) Share your views. 4) Brainstorm many different solutions. 5) Find the best solution - the higher way.

  4. Imagine that your family is stuck at your home for a week. Ask your family what sort of synergy is available in your family to make it through or even enjoyable. Create a list of contributions each family member can make. Create a chart like below to get started. Write each members name across the top and fill in contributions below each name. For example, under mom - Great cook, tells great jokes, can sing, likes to hike, etc. and so on for each member.
Mom Dad Billy Susan
Good Cook Funny Jokes Guitar Player Good Singer
Good at Games Likes Outdoors Good Reader Like Crafts
Likes Hiking Likes Building Likes Puzzles Likes Cards


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* Contains affiliate links.  No, that doesn't mean that the kids should leave the room.  Rather, it means that if you click on a link, and if you purchase something, I may get some financial remuneration for that click and buy.  All that means is that my kids will finally get to eat, just kidding but I may get something, just so you know...

Saturday, April 06, 2019

Trapped by Truth















The Truth haunts me in the dark,
Has kept a hold and left His mark.
Black and still,
Both heart and mind,
Grasping, searching, wanting.

Leave all behind and walk away,
No God, no Truth, the voices say.
Tears run cold,
Down cheeks of steel,
Wanting, needing, fading.

Light is near but felt not seen,
Suffering makes the senses keen.
An empty space,
A template blank,
Fading, waning, breathing

No escape, to whom shall I go?
Face, facade nothing to show,
Keep up the dance,
Step back in line,
Breathing, crying, running.

Inescapable snare with death like hold,
Escape is death and flesh grown cold,
Held until the fever goes,
The nails and wood are kissing,
Running, resting, living.

I wrote this poem about 13 years ago in a place of darkness and personal sin yet shortly before going to confession.  As much as I have wrestled with God over the years, He has me trapped and I'm glad.  He holds me tight as the fever of sin ravages my soul, never letting go of His love for me.  This fever will never leave until it is time for me to enter eternity where I will run with joy, rest in peace, and live in eternal light, the Truth that here I do not fully comprehend blinded as I am at times by my fever.

Click here to read more from James M. Hahn - Blog  -  Books




* Contains affiliate links.  No, that doesn't mean that the kids should leave the room.  Rather, it means that if you click on a link, and if you purchase something, I may get some financial remuneration for that click and buy.  All that means is that my kids will finally get to eat, just kidding but I may get something, just so you know...

Thursday, April 04, 2019

A Home Tenebrae Service

After returning to the Church in 1998 I found that I couldn't get enough of the beauty and rituals.  I
loved the "smells and bells" so to speak. 

One of my favorite liturgical seasons has always been Lent.  I love the austerity and penitential nature.  I'm convicted by the Stations of the Cross, the deep readings chosen for Sundays, and parish missions.

Of all of the observances of Lent, by far my favorite is the Tenebrae service.  It is far more difficult to find a Tenebrae service today but done well, it's power stays with you forever.

Imagine if you will the evening of Good Friday.  You have been fasting and abstaining.  Perhaps you attended the Stations of the Cross or the Good Friday Liturgy, kissing the Cross and receiving Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament at 3PM.  You return to the Church in the evening and see that the Church remains bare.  The statues are covered, hiding and mourning.  The altar is stripped as Jesus was.  The Church, in the waning hours of sunlight is growing darker, no lights are on and the Church reminds you more of a tomb than a womb.

Upon the altar stands a candelabra (a hearse) holding 15 candles in the shape of a pyramid.  This is the only day it is used.  The glow of the candles illuminates the sanctuary and the cold altar supporting it.  As you sit in the silence of the ever-growing darkness the form of a fellow parishioner rises and proceeds to the Ambo.  From there he or she reads from Sacred Scripture.  When finished, the parishioner walks to the hearse, extinguishes a single candle and returns to the pew.  A moment of silence follows until another parishioner repeats this process.  The church grows darker and darker.

Finally, the parish priest, who's outline you recognize, approaches the Ambo.  He reads the final reading.  He removes the last candle from the top of the hearse and carries it out of the sanctuary. 

The church is now in total darkness and silence.  Your eyes have grown accustomed to the darkness and you see the outline of the hearse on the altar, you can hear fellow parishioners around you breathing softly.  Suddenly, three loud, powerful knocks fill the Church as though the very walls are coming down and the hairs on your head and arms stand on end.  You see the shadow of the priest return to the altar, returning the last candle to it's position, unlit.  All depart in silence, it is finished.

Our Home Tenebrae Service "altar".
It truly is a moving and powerful service and I have often been brought to tears by it.  It's a great final meditation on the Passion of Christ and funeral service of sorts.

Unfortunately, it's presentation and observance has fallen into disuse.  So, wanting to give my family some sense of the impressive nature of the service, I designed a similar Tenebrae service for use in the home.  It consists of 7 candles instead of 15 and uses readings focused on the Last Supper, Crucifixion, and Death of Jesus.

Feel free to download it here and use it with your family!  I hope you enjoy it.  Feel free to share your experience with us in the comment section or send us an email.

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* Contains affiliate links.  No, that doesn't mean that the kids should leave the room.  Rather, it means that if you click on a link, and if you purchase something, I may get some financial remuneration for that click and buy.  All that means is that my kids will finally get to eat, just kidding but I may get something, just so you know...

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

The Little Resurrection and Taking Up Your Mat

Throughout the years I have experienced many different types of Lent.  I've experienced the "I probably would have made a good monk" types of Lent.  I've survived the "is there even a God" types of Lent.  There have been Lents where I experienced the consolation of the Lord daily on my journey.  During other seasons of Lent I have felt the dry, barren absence of the Lord right up until the Easter Vigil.

Thankfully each Lent is different and the Lord meets us where we are and where we need Him.  This Lent has been one of the most difficult for me.  My prayer life has been weak.  My resolutions to "give up" things have been laughable.  Yet, I'm filled with hope and joy because Lent isn't over.  Like this life, there is opportunity to change, to do better, to try again right up to the last minute.

That is also the great gift of Reconciliation.  We are able to confess our sins to God, to start anew, and to do this over and over as needed.  It's a little Resurrection available to us in this life!  It's a great gift that allows me and you to die once more to our sins and be born again. 

I know without a doubt that as I walk toward that confessional my tempter is throwing a fit.  He is threatening, pleading, accusing, and mocking.  I also know without a doubt that as I walk out of that confessional he is plummeting to hell, for a time.  He will return and our battle will continue, often over the same sins.

Recently during a time of reflection before Confession, the Holy Spirit helped me to realize that a few of the sins I was preparing to confess I have been struggling with for well over 24 years. Yes, that is a long time. Yes, I want to be healed of those. Yes, I have prayed for healing for much of that time. Yes, I have asked others to help me. Yes, I know, in a way, what the man at the pool in today's Gospel was going through.

For 38 years he had wanted to be healed. For 38 years he had prayed for that healing. For 38 years he had asked to be put in the pool but someone always stepped in his way. He never gave up and neither will I.

There are many lessons in today's Gospel. First, I can learn patience and perseverance.  The man in the Gospel struggled for 38 years.  So far I've struggled with some sins for 24.  However, we're not keeping score by years.  This struggle with sin or physical ailments can teach us to be patient with ourselves and others.  This same struggle can teach us to persevere because God looks at the heart of our effort rather than the "success".  The true "success" comes not when we overcome these obstacles but when we accept them as our cross and, more importantly, trust in the grace of God to help us with that cross.

Another lesson is that there are far worse things than physical ailments and problems. It is striking when Jesus appears out of the shadows and whispers to the man, "Look, you are well; do not sin any more, so that nothing worse may happen to you." I want to cry out, "what could be worse than being in that state for 38 years!!!?" Yet I know that something worse could happen to him and to me.

Finally, I can see in Jesus' action that there is no wrong time to do the right thing. Charity trumps everything in the end. The reaction of the Jews here is heartbreaking.  In response to their question, "why are you carrying that mat on the Sabbath," the man replies, "The man who healed me told me to take up my mat and walk". The Jews reply, "who told you to take up your mat and walk."

They completely miss the picture. They don't ask who healed the man, how he was healed or anything about his healing. The question is concerned with the law alone and their hearts remain closed. They remain in their sin. The once paralyzed man is now free and those who think they are free remain paralyzed by hard hearts.

During the remainder of this time of Lent let us strive toward healing.  Let us do what we can but also let us patiently and persistently ask the Lord for healing, even if it is for the thousandth time!  Let us all experience the "little Resurrection" of the sacrament of Reconciliation and may all those we meet rejoice in Lord's healing power as we continue to carry the "mat" of daily life.

"Any time is the right time for works of charity..." - Saint Leo the Great, pope


Click here to read more from James M. Hahn - Blog  -  Books



* Contains affiliate links.  No, that doesn't mean that the kids should leave the room.  Rather, it means that if you click on a link, and if you purchase something, I may get some financial remuneration for that click and buy.  All that means is that my kids will finally get to eat, just kidding but I may get something, just so you know...

Father's Day Gift Ideas