Tuesday, December 18, 2007

To Rockford!

Driving north from St Louis through the plains of Illinois brought us to the beautiful retreat center in Rockford Illinois. As we left the highway and started further out into the county, the roads became rougher, the trees thicker, and the snow whiter. By the time we arrived at the hidden retreat center, we wanted to stay. The lights from the windows lit up the the thick snow covering the entire landscape, including, rather unfortunately, the sidewalk. With just a few close calls, however we made it into our rooms, dropped off the suitcases that you have heard tell of before, and then followed the bright flashing sign somewhat incongruously proclaiming the whereabouts of the Christmas shows. The large room was set up for dinner, and was decorated tastefully with a peaceful nativity scene, and several bright Christmas trees. It only took a few small touches to ready the stage for the night's performance. We had a large group of people that night, enjoying prime rib (which we partook of following the show) and hopefully our show too. The next night had a more family feel, but was also a dinner theater setting. We were able to leave everything set up from the night before, although we did change the program. Originally we performed Who Killed Christmas and Making Room, the story of the innkeeper's wife on the very first Christmas and how she came to eventually find room for the Holy Family in her life. The second night the St Louis cast performed their version of Who Killed Christmas and we performed not only Making Room but also Sarah's Christmas Secret, our pro life drama with a holiday twist. Both nights went well, and we very much enjoyed our time in Rockford! An added surprise to our weekend of events was an invitation to be interviewed on the Catholic Radio Station - which was so fun! They told us we'd be able to get the interview via the website, so check it out at http://www.1440wrok.com/index.php ...

Christmas Brain: All You Need For Christmas

Our first show of our Christmas tour was a night filled with quotable quotes, but one took the cake. We drove from our home base in St Louis to Gerald, Missouri for St Gerald's parish PSR night. The first act, performed by members of the St Louis cast, is called "Who Killed Christmas" and stars Mrs Scrooge, who throughout the course of the play is taught how to keep Christmas alive in her heart. She gets pretty crabby before her metanoia occurs however. The somewhat rowdy kids present in the audience kept up a lively commentary on the action throughout the play. When they were asked at the end what Mrs Scrooge needed to do in order to learn her lesson, one particularly bright child shouted loudly: "Take her brain out and give her a Christmas Brain!" Ah, the wit of youth. Now just to find a reputable brain surgeon...

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

"Two Guys"

One response from two Middle School Guys...

Youth Leader: What did you think about the play and the message?

Guy #1: I thought the play was actually pretty good and thought that the acting was you know very good and they really got the message across because everything was very clear and straight-forward and not very hidden…

Guy #2: Yeah, I think they gave us a lot of information about abortion and what it’s like and why you shouldn’t do it and the purpose for the play and all the consequences that happen if you have an abortion or if you have the baby…

Guy #1: And the life of the mother who has the abortion and all the pains they have to go through…

Youth Leader: And what do you think about your role as young men?

Guy #2: Umm… I think we should think twice about people having sex and when we’re ready to have it and what’s the right time…

Youth Leader: Excellent. I want to thank both of you for having the courage to come and talk to me. Thanks a lot, ok?

Resources and Information...

There are a lot of questions Elizabeth and I need to find the answers to: what are more consequences of abortion for the mother? Are there statistics for the number of women who suffer after the abortion? What do they do with the bodies of the babies after surgical abortions? How does abortion affect the father? These and other questions were raised from these kids. I encouraged them to go online and research some good websites to find out the facts. Here were some that I found...

Go to http://www.priestsforlife.org/ for a list of information, including 'abortion alternatives,' 'abortion photos,' 'fetal development,' 'partial birth abotion,' and 'Q&A on Abortion'..... this is a great website with lots of information. You can also check out the American Life League at http://all.org/ ... they also have a lot of great information and give you a lot of ideas to remain active in the pro-life movement in your area... Maybe http://www.silentnomoreawareness.org/ could give you more insight... And lastly, if you are interested in going to the March For Life in Washington DC, use your American voice and tell our governing officials that America WANTS TO BE PRO-LIFE! Check it out at http://www.marchforlife.org/ or for the Walk for Life in San Francisco go to http://www.walkforlifewc.com/event.htm ...

Silence is Acceptance. Speak Out! Be Heard! Choose Life!!!

Travel Time!

Do you know anyone who has names for their suitcases? Well, I don't either, which may explain the strange looks we got from people yesterday in the airport baggage claim station. We left Florida yesterday for a twenty day tour through three midwestern states, accompanied by a surprisingly large collection of suitcases. For artistic effect, I would like to decribe the suitcases as being of "all shapes and sizes and colors," but alas, we are not nearly so fortunate as to own the vast kaleidescope of bags that would legitimate such a claim. Maybe in our next lives.
Where was I?
Oh yes. So there we were waiting for our luggage to appear from within the dark mysterious innards of the aiport and be spewn forth onto the long black tongue so unpoetically called the "conveyer belt." We had a running commentary as each successive bag passed us: "OoOo, thats a cute one," "Wow. Now that's what I call purple," "Look at that girly polka dot one. I wonder whose that is... Oh, sorry, sir," and so on. After having loaded up our little cart (for which we paid three dollars, btw. Prices these days.), with five enormous suitcases, there we stood whispering to eachother: "Where's Rachel? We are missing Rachel. I hope she's not lost. We've got the two Sarah's, but that Rachel... OH! There she is!"
And so, our apologies to those poor souls with us in the airport who were perhaps wondering what sort of people packed their children in with their clothes and hairdryers. Not to worry: we just name our suitcases.

Oreos: Double Stuff Inside = Double the Fun

Ah yes. Oreos. With double the white stuff in the middle. How come no one ever thought of that before? Wait, am I off track? Yes... well, we have returned from a 'Rachel: Lost and Found Performance' in Tampa. We traveled the Sunshine Skyway (beautiful!) to get to St Patrick's Church in south Tampa, and arrived with plenty of time to unpack. The stage was a cute little stage, still set up in the Hollywood theme from a school performance a few weeks ago. In fact, from the entire ceiling hung large silver stars, glittering in the light. The stars got to stay, but the faux brick wall backgrounds gave way to a large chalkboard, and a few chairs and tables. We travel lightly with Rachel, so beyond shuffling tables and constructing a makeshift dressing room, we were good to go. There weren't that many people there, but it was a good mix of all ages, from middle school through highschool and adult. A few of the small group leaders afterwards reported some good discussions, although the response wasn't has strong as we had hoped for. Its a humbling experience to realize that all success is in God's hands, no matter how hard we try. At a certain point, only God knows what effects our words may have in the future. And thats what we all have to hold on to: the knowledge that God works all thing unto good. Even if the present circumstances we are in seem dark, there is always something to look forward to. Even if there seems to be no way out of the temptations of peer pressure in our schools - temptations to drugs, alcohol, and unchastity, there is something very worthwhile just out of sight.
Which brings me back to the oreos: if you had a huge ginormous double-stuffed oreo to your right and a bunch of little tiny so-called "fun-size' oreos to your left, which would you choose? Well, the big one is surely better. Why take the little sensual pleasures now, if you can just wait a little more for a greater good? To put it another way, why would a martyr choose a painful death rather than easy life, if all she has to do is throw a little incense to false gods? Why do I or anyone of you care about saying no if we are asked to take a drag or have a drink or sleep with someone? Whats the big deal with just having fun, about worrying about our clothes and friends? We aren't bad people... right? Well, maybe those things are fun-sized (at least, people call them fun-sized, when really we all know that they would be a lot more fun if they were twenty times as big) but they aren't the best we can get. In the Bible, Jesus calls us to be perfect "as the Heavenly Father is perfect." This doesn't mean we've blown our chance at perfection if we fall into sin or give in to those nagging temptations, but it does mean that we are asked to try to imitate Jesus and Mary and the saints and live the way they did. But first we have to know who they are. We have to read the lives of the people we call saints because they lived in the same world we live in and practiced heroic virtue. We have to read the Bible to know what Jesus said we have to do and to know what He promises us in return. We are promised something amazing, an eternity (think about that one: eternity. Forever and ever and ever. No end. On and on and on.) of happiness with a God who loves us unconditionally in exchange for a few short seconds here on earth. No matter how long middle school or highschool lasts, it will end. Will you look back on it and see how many missed opportunities you had to get to know the God you will spend eternity with? How many "fun-sized" oreos did you waste your time with when all you had to do was look around the corner to find that humongous, mammoth, spectacular Double Stuff Oreo?

Friday, November 30, 2007

Young Pro-Lifers...

+JMJ+
Come Holy Spirit!

Last week, after Thanksgiving Break, Elizabeth and I traveled to Ft. Lauderdale, and performed for the Religion Classes of Saint Mark Catholic Church. Our first show, for the younger audience (5th and 6th grade), met with some mixed reactions, mostly because, I think, abortion is a tough topic to speak about. As a matter of fact, one of the questions from the leaders was asking us to describe what an abortion is, just in case some of the kids didn't know what we were talking about. And, to be honest, the question really surprised me. It was a great question, and needed to be answered delicately, but honestly. Some people may think that young kids shouldn't have to know about abortion or what it is, but I disagree. We need to equip our young people with the truth. We need to tell them the right answers before it's too late - because pro-choice activists get a hold of them so young, and those kids really have no chance, because they've never been told that abortion is wrong, or why it is wrong. Now don't get me wrong - I'm not saying pull a five year old aside and try to explain death and murder of children to him, but a child reaches the age of reason at age 7. They at least should know that they can pray for babies and for their mothers. They should know that there is a struggle out there, and to not be afraid of it. Don't instill fear in these kids, but give them a chance against the lies that surround them - at school, on the radio, on the television, in the school classrooms and hallways. And as they get older, talk about the problems, the confusion, and the fact that a human person is a human person. We need to help them - not scare them, and not allow them to remain ignorant. The youth director had told us that because of the sensitive subject matter she wasn't positive that the show would be appropriate for the younger audience. Yet, she was sure she had made the right choice, precisely because the kids aren't getting the facts from school or even at home often times, and someone has to be able to talk to them about these topics.

The second show ran smoother with sound and technical equipment (no faulty microphones this time!) and the show was for 7th grade and higher. These kids responded really well and paid close attention to the story, and were very sensitive to the subject matter. After the show, they too asked a lot of great questions. Even some regarding feminist perspectives and women's rights... what do you say to a woman who argues that it is her right to keep or destroy this child? If it is within her body, it is her body and she has the right to say what happens to her...? ...so the premise of this argument is that her body is her 'property' and it is therefore her right to decide what she will do with the 'fetus' within her? Well, I guess I would argue... the baby has those exact same rights. The 'tissue' in question is actually the baby's body - a human body at that - with a blood flow that is separate from the mothers, and a heart that beats apart from the mother's. A woman provides the protection and nourishment that is necessary for survival, but we all need protection and nourishment, no matter what stage in life we are at. It's a faulty argument, based on the belief that a mother's body is somehow more important that the child's. They are both human, and equal. The mother is more developed, but the child's development and fight for survival is proof of his desire to live.

Another question was, "who decides when the baby becomes a human?" THAT was a fantastic question - actually one that the pro-choice argument hinges on... but the answer is simple.

Yet before we answer, imagine this: let's say that out of that whole room of 200 grade schoolers and high schoolers, we would allow one young man to determine when human life began. What if he decided that all children 12 and under no longer have the right to live, because they are not capable of what teenagers and adults can do... half of that room would march to their deaths. Well, what if I were the ultimate authority on when a human life should begin... I'm 24 years old, with brown hair and eyes. What if is said that anyone in that room with blonde hair or blue eyes had to die, because they were not like me, and clearly not old enough to understand the ways of the world (WWII anyone? Hitler and the Aryan Race?) Then over half of that room would not have walked out of that room that night. Well, that's the point. What human is actually capable of making that 'choice'? What man or woman out there should be given that kind of authority? The fact is that humans ARE HUMAN from the moment of conception. What else could they be? Just because they can't think rationally yet, doesn't make them unhuman... after all, we could say there are living persons who don't think rationally. We can't say that because their bodies are not fully developed then they are not human - after all, most humans don't have perfect bodies or limbs. Or soldiers who come back from war with broken bodies, lost limbs, etc? They are still human, regardless of their deformity - we all know that. Why can't an unborn baby be human, too? Some doctors will push the humanity question really far, and claim that a baby is not a human until 3 days after it is born. Sometimes a couple weeks after they are born, on the condition that the parents still want it... it's all too arbitrary. And there are too many facts.

Only God can decide when a baby becomes human, and science proves it. If we look to biology, the answer is not debatable - life begins at conception. All the genes and chromosomes are present for a human life to begin. So, in answer to your question: God decides. -God bless, Mary

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Questions

The Edge group had such good questions that we decided to post them. Here are the ones we can remember:
Q: "If a twelve year old girl was raped, what would you say to that?"
A: It is a terrible situation for the girl, a traumatic time for her during which she needs support and a lot of help. She has to know that it is not her fault, and neither is it the baby's fault. Two wrongs don't make a right. Rape is a terrible wrong, but killing the life that is now growing inside of the girl will not make things right. The girl, and her parents or friends who may encourage an abortion, should know that the baby is a new and innocent human life who does not need to die. I have a friend whose mother nearly had an abortion in a similar situation, but decided at the last second to keep her baby. Because of that choice, I now have a beautiful friend who has helped heal her mother from the pain she experienced. Life is beautiful and women who find themselves pregnant either through rape or by a mistake should know that they do have a choice: a choice to keep their baby. They do not need to feel alone or trapped by their circumstances, but feel free to carry to fruition the beautiful life they carry within their bodies.
Q: "What are some examples to prove that the baby is a human? I am writing a paper for school."
A: Well, even the simplest of biology texts can show that the baby is human even when really tiny - from the moment of conception. Each of us started out in the same way - from a human mother and father, with human DNA. We all looked exactly as we were supposed to even when we were just a few weeks old, and we all grew into the people we are now, not into a dog or a cat. Each stage of development is how we are supposed to look at that age. We are never simply a blob of cells, each of those cells has a specific role to play in the growth of every human. You can watch the ultrasounds of babies sucking their thumbs, of moving away from pokes and uncomfortable positions. The baby has her own blood system her whole life. She receives nourishment from the mother's blood, but the mothers blood does not flow in her body. Her heart beats, her brain is alive, her fingerprints are formed. Everything that is necessary for that tiny human to become a big human is present, and simply needs time to develop - just like we all needed time to develop. That doesn't mean unborn humans are any less human - just because they are not fully developed yet. Look it up in your Biology Book: Child/Baby/Fetal Development - it is so amazing! They have pictures and everything! video
Q: "How much does an abortion cost?"
A: It differs from clinic to clinic, but typically the price is between 300 and 500 dollars. The price also depends however, on the type of abortificient she chooses to use: surgical, chemical, with pills, etc.
Q: "Do abortion doctors ever try to persuade the mother not to have abortion?"
A: In the clinics where that is their job, the doctors do not. They know that the mother has already made her decision and feel they have no need to provide her with options. Other doctors in hospitals or their own practices might offer alternatives, and there are many pregnancy crisis centers that will talk over the options with any woman willing to listen. Adoption is frequently a road taken. There are some couples who cannot have children, and would love to adopt a baby from a mother who cannot care for her child.
Q: "How common is the post-abortion depression as portrayed in this play?"
A: Very common. There are numerous studies published in this topic. The women actually do feel a loss in their life that they didn't expect would happen following an abortion. In fact, this play was inspired by real stories about women who suffer terribly after having an abortion. Sadly, it is just real life drama put on a stage.
Q: "I heard about a case where a pregnant mother was murdered, and the murderer was charged with killing two people. How is abortion legal if the killing of an unborn child then was called 'murder'?
A: Exactly. The laws are not consistent. In the Scott Peterson case, he was charged with the murder of his unborn child. Also, in cases of vehicular homicide, the death of a pregnant woman counts as two deaths, not one. But if an abortion doctor takes the life of a child, that's legal and he gets paid for it. ... Can anyone explain this one? We sure don't get it.
Q: "Don't abortion doctors feel guilty for what they do?"
A: Some doctors in hospitals are required to perform abortions or they will lose their jobs. They might feel like its OK to do some abortions just to make it through their schooling. They try to convince themselves that it's not so bad. Others leave the hospital to start their own practices or try to find one that does not make them do abortions. Sometimes a doctor who has been doing abortion for a long time will suddenly realize that what he is doing is wrong and stop. (Look up Dr. Bernard Nathanson - he is a former abortionist and has written a couple books on the topic, describing how terrible the procedure is and how traumatic for doctors, nurses, and for the women going through them, a side that is never talked about in public.) You will see ads on TV talking about the quick and easy abortions with happy people, but the reality of abortion is a lot uglier than you would want to imagine.
video
Q: "If a woman considering an abortion approached you, what would you say to her?"
A: A woman in that situation needs to know she is loved and that she is not alone. She does not need to be condemned or shouted at. You have to understand that she is probably lonely and scared, and most likely feels like she has no other choice. Maybe her boyfriend has left her, or maybe he doesn't know that the baby is a part of him just as much as it is part of her and so also feels like he has no right to choose life. Find out why the woman wants to abort her baby's life. Sometimes it's because she has no money to raise a child. This woman should know that there are lots of places that can help her financially. Crisis pregnancy centers have donors and volunteers who offer safe places for the mother. They can give her baby food and diapers and give the mother all the prenatal care she needs. There are also homes for unwed mothers that will care for both the mother and the baby. There are childless couples who will adopt babies whose mothers cannot care for them. Most of all, though, the woman has to know how beautiful it is that she is able to carry a new life inside of her, something men and even angels cannot do. She is sharing in the creative power of God and no matter how trapped she feels now, the child is filled with love for her and will increase the love she shares with all the people around her. Many women decide against having an abortion later look back and cannot imagine having gone through with it, considering the beauty and joy of the child they now have. - Elizabeth

Its Fantastimagical!

Yes it was! A perfect word (thanks to Nicole!) for a great experience in Land O'Lakes Florida! We performed our pro-life drama "Sarah's Secret" for Our Lady of the Rosary's LifeTeen and Edge groups on two successive nights. The first night was for the LifeTeen group. We had around 150 highschoolers. We were able to transform the church hall into a stage complete with a dressing room (with a chalkboard blocking one doorway with the warning: "Dressing room! No entrance!") The lights and sound went really well (although they had mikes for us, we forgot to put them on!) and we had some great volunteers to run them for us.
The next night was a performance at 6:30 for the Edge group, 110ish 7/8 graders. We made a quick Wal-Mart trip to pick up batteries for our camera (which had given out on us the night before) beforehand, and arrived at the chuuch at 6:10. Whew! Close! But we had everything set up from the night before, so we were fine. Or so we thought. For the second scene, I'm supposed to come on with a birthday cake, singing to my daughter, and telling her to blow out the candles. After the opening scene, I dash backstage to change into the next costume, and I can't find the cake! Now what!? I searched and searched, praying, "Please, God! Find the cake!" I hear my cue, and steady myself to go out without the cake, but still singing "happy birthday," and just hope that between the two of us we can cover the missing lines. Then I hear Mary, calling in her little girl voice, some of the sweetest words I have ever heard: "Oh! Mommy baked a cake for us! And here it is right here!" What relief! We carried off the transition without skipping a beat! We were laughing about this afterwards, because on stage Mary was prattling away with her tea set, and when she saw the cake, she could just imagine me frantically searching for the thing, and was trying to figure out a smooth way to let me know she had it. God is so good! He has such a sense of humor. He gave us a bit of a scare, but covered for us anyways!
Afterwards, the kids had really great questions, and the q&a lasted for a while. We were able to talk with a lot of the Core member and kids as well and several of them helped us pack up our props and costumes.
Think the night was over? Not even close! Time to get down and dirty with the volleyball team! No one was keeping score, and a good thing that was too, because we were ...hmmm... 'occasionally' inaccurate with our aim. Ok, occasionally is perhaps too kind a word, but we had a blast! It was indeed fantastimagical! -Elizabeth
video

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Happy Birthday...

+JMJ+
Come Holy Spirit!

We've started working on the Christmas Shows. I love Christmas! We are touring in December. If you are interested in the shows, see the calendar HERE: http://www.thewordinc.org/calendar/calendar.htm

I love Christmas. Birthdays. Anniversaries. Parties like these celebrations are so beautiful and so meaningful. It got me to thinking...

Think of the thousands of years humans have lived on this earth. Imagine how different we all are: the times other people lived in, where they came from, what they ate, what they wore, what they did for fun, what they did for work… and no matter who they were, or what they did, right or wrong… there are a few things we all share in common – all of us… One spiritual resemblance between every person who has lived on earth is this: that we are made in the image and likeness of God. That God has given us life, and we are invited to live with HIM in heaven forever after we die… each of us. How we respond to that invitation is up to us. Regardless, God loved each one of them, and loves each one of us…

Yet, one physical resemblance between us all is this – our day of birth. The day we entered from our mother’s wombs and saw the world for the first time. It’s the first time our mother got to meet us, the first time she got to see what we looked like. Our birthday is our day to celebrate: "hey world! I’m here! I made it!" Each year we stop and celebrate a person's life, what he did this year, how much he changed, and much he grew. It gives us an excuse for us to stop and tell our loved ones how much we love and care about them…

We have this day in common with every person who has ever been born! As different as we all live and work and dress, we all share this one day.

Yet, this one day is exactly what separates us from every aborted baby – from the unborn. This is one day they are never allowed to share with us. They shared life on earth, because from the moment of conception they are human, they are real, they are alive. But they never got to share a day of birth. So, tonight, we offer a tribute in memory of all the friends, the relatives, the children, the loved ones we never got to meet… tonight we remember all the birthdays that never were… they are not forgotten. Their memory inspires us to speak their names, and tell the world what it is missing. We have to speak out and share their stories. We have to reach out to the mothers and fathers that are suffering silently. It is our duty to proclaim the dignity of human life! To demand the right of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to all those in the womb. We must protect life from conception to death. We must stand up. Silence is acceptance. We must speak out and be heard. We must choose life, and unite those babies with the rest of mankind, and give them a birthday that will change the history of the world. God bless, Mary

Monday, November 12, 2007

12 Apostles...

+JMJ+
Come Holy Spirit!

The Twelve Apostles were called by Jesus Christ to be His hands and feet in this world. He called them out of their every day lives and He taught them face to face. These twelve heard His voice and knew what He looked like. They watched God walk on the earth He created, among His own people. Jesus then commissioned these twelve to 'go out to all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.' And they did...

Last Thursday night we witnessed an amazing show of faith - but this show was not on a stage. Sure, we, the MSP performed on a stage under lights with music and costume, but what WE saw, sitting on the seats in front of us, were twelve disciples of Christ, who came together for the cause of life. Their faith was something inspiring...

'Imago Dei' is St. Leo University's pro-life group, begun only last year by a freshman girl. I don't know whether or not there has ever been a pro-life group here before. It is composed of students who unite for those made in the image and likeness of God, begging and pleading the world around them to respect the lives of all humans, from conception to a natural death. They, like the first Apostles, have been called by Christ to be witnesses of the truth to a culture that would rather not hear it. They have been called to share the life and love of Christ in the streets, in their dorms, in their classrooms. And maybe they won't lose their life for these truths, but they will sacrifice much to stand in opposition to what is legally accepted and condoned.

These 12 students have a tremendous and beautiful responsibility, because people are usually not willing to hear that an unborn fetus is really a human, and that abortion is murder. And it kills not only the child, but in so many ways, the mother as well. Yet grief and sorrow over aborting a baby is not politically correct, so mothers (yes, they are still mothers) live in silent shame with their forbidden grief, burying a secret that is too terrible to tell. 'Imago Dei' exists to fight against and expose the lies of a pro-choice game.

The truth is, abortion kills Someone - with a body, with a soul, with a heart, with a Name. To abort or terminate a life, humans voluntarily murder other humans, and get paid for it. Mothers opt for death instead of life because, often, they have no other choice (isn't that ironic? A woman is 'pro-choice' often because she has no other choice). And mothers need to be told that there ARE alternatives. They need to be told there are people who WOULD raise her child and care for him. Other mothers must be told that forgiveness is possible. Tell a woman considering an abortion that she has options, she has choices, and that she and her baby will be loved - they are loved.

There are so many lies spun around us, and this group is one that is untangling an ugly web and letting the light shine through. That young freshman girl saw the need for a pro-life influence at her school, and she did something about it. She inspired other people to join her. Jesus commissioned only 12 to take His Message to the whole world. I have no doubt those twelve, by God's amazing grace, will save many many lives and give many others His Truth.

Can you imagine what our United States of America could be if more disciples for life spoke up and made themselves heard? God bless, Mary

Friday, November 9, 2007

Immokalee...

+JMJ+

Last week we performed "Rachel: Lost and Found" for Our Lady of Gaudelupe Youth Group in Immokalee Fl. We got there early and started setting up in the church hall. It was not a large place and had only a small stage without a sound system for us to use and no lighting system either... that is, until we brainstormed up a solution! Using our crafty Liberal Arts minds, we looked about and found two house lamps. So far so good. A step in the right directon, but they both lacked one essential ingredient: light bulbs! With a volunteer from the parish, we stole, ahem, borrowed, two bulbs from the restrooms and overcome that obstacle. Where to put them... one occupied a seat in the front row (lucky it!) and the other rested securely on top of a tall cardboard box, complete with an aluminium pan as a shade/light magnifier. The sound system we had a bit more trouble with. We could speak loudly enough, but the whirring fans and echoes from our music gave us a run for our money. We turned the music low enough for our voices to be heard, but then it was so low we couldn't hear any of the cues. So we just went on without them and all was well.
As for the crowd, we expected 40 or so people, but ended up with 75! Yet there were plenty of chairs, and the more ears to hear the message the better!
With so many kids, the game at the end got a bit out of hand during the organization stage, but once we got started, everyone got into it and we all had a great time. There were a few kids who were clearly attentive and others who saw the whole thing as a joke, but if even one soul was touched or one seed planted, then we can count the evening as a success.
God be praised!

MSP Picture

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Calling All Future Saints of America...

+JMJ+
Come Holy Spirit!

Tonight my guardian angel and I made up a game. It's called "The Future Saints of America." The students formed into teams, and I asked Catholic Trivia questions, and the winning team received a bunch of candy and were officially titled the 'future saints of America...'

It's really amazing to be able to travel all over the US and have a glimpse into the lives of young Catholics, and share just a moment in their lives. The Catholic Church is alive and well in the hearts of the young people! I always wish I could be at these classes for longer, to be able to talk to people and hear their stories and how God is working in their lives. My favorite part of the night is when someone comes up to me after a presentation and says how much they love God, how much they learn from being with their youth group, and how they have taken the Faith as their own, and how much it means to them.

It was especially beautiful tonight, on the eve of the Feast of All Saints. Tonight is really such a holy night for the Church, for tomorrow we celebrate all the people who have gone before us and are rejoicing in Heaven forever. We can't let scary halloween festivities get in the way of the holy night. Over 150 kids gave this night for God, and came to Religion Class to hear a talk on angels and saints instead of attending costume parties and going trick-or-treating.

I am realizing more and more how much our Faith is such a gift. The knowledge of God and Catholicism is something we cannot take for granted. If we believe, then we must learn as much as we can about our Faith, that we might be able to know WHAT we believe, WHY we believe it, and then pass this faith and love of God on to others. That's what the job of the future saints of America is: to love God above all things and to do His Will.

Where are the future saints of America? ... Look around. Look in a mirror. YOU! Dear future saint of America! Don't sell yourself short on what the world may offer you. Don't think you can't become a saint. The world is waiting for you, and for your love of God to be shared. Other future saints need your guidance and example. You better believe He is calling you...



Tomorrow (November 1st) is their day. Maybe one day it will be ours, too.

God bless, Mary

Monday, October 29, 2007

Ta da!

We have had our first official performance of the new season!
It was for a youth retreat in Ocala, Fl. On Saturday, we got an early start to the day (think rising at 5:45 am! Eek!) , since we had a four hour road trip ahead of us, plus a McD’s stop… ☺ It was a bit drizzly and cloudy out, but that didn’t dampen our enthusiasm or that of the kids we performed for! There were about fifty of them from 6 different parishes in the Ocala/Tampa area. They were a really great group, very attentive and very lively. Perhaps too attentive though, as I quickly found out. In the play we did, I start out as the worldly narrator and at one point I ask the kids to give me some examples of what you need to be perfect. The idea is to get them to say cars, money, fancy clothes, lots of friends, etc, to set up for my next lines. Unfortunately (fortunately?) they were too smart for me. One kid raised his hand, and said “No one is perfect.” “You need to love Jesus” was another one. Rats. They spoiled my lines… What was I supposed to say? “No, no, no, guys, you’re supposed to be worldly and answer all the wrong things….” And so confuse them? And yet I couldn’t stay in character and admit they were right either. Ah, well, the difficulties of life on stage. ☺
The rest of the play went well. Both the youth leaders and the youths loved Mary’s performance as the perfect girl whose little falls lead up to a big fall, and who at the end finally returns to Jesus and His Love. One boy asked me if I was the devil. It was amazing to see how seriously they took the play, and how much they really do understand. One of the kids came up to us to compliment us on the simplicy of our set and props. "I was able to really focus on the story," she said. Another one raised his hand during the little talk I gave after the play. Expecting a question on the real meaning of perfection, I knodded at him. "Can I have that bracelet?" he asked instead, pointing at one of our props... Yes, kids are indeed a serious bunch.
We ran an icebreaker game (Immaculata, a fast-paced version of Musical Chairs) later in the day, and also gave out white paper roses to help remind the kids about the theme of the retreat: making good choices. Those roses looked so simple… but tell that to our hands after rolling, folding, and trimming, fifty of them, petal by petal, stem after stem! Ah me! Ok, fine, so I don’t really merit too much sympathy…
It was a great experience! May the Holy Spirit work His wonders and inspire us all to love God more and more!
Elizabeth

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Eden's Fall... to her knees.



+JMJ+
Come Holy Spirit!

I just finished reading "The Thrill of the Chaste" by Dawn Eden. Wow. It is an excellent book. As a young single woman, hoping and praying for marriage one day, this was exactly the encouragement I would hope to find, yet is so rarely found on the shelves of our bookstores. Eden is a woman who has tried to live according to the socially acceptable norms of life and relationships, yet found that road to be exactly what it is: deceptive and leading nowhere. She discovered the very serious and scarring consequences of the lifestyle that magazine pictures and stories don't dare to publish. She picked herself up from a promiscuous past and through the mercy and forgiveness of God, found the strength to return to the Foot of the Cross and walk the straight and narrow way to salvation. It's hard. It's uncool. It's countercultural, and she knows it, and often times pays the price for living as a Christian in a world that won't tolerate morality or standards. In my eyes, Eden is an inspiring woman and great writer, who does a fantastic job of relating to her readers. She doesn't condemn. She isn't graphic in her details, but she is very honest and witty. She has a deep conviction for what she writes, and because she believes what she says, you respect her and thank her for her wisdom. She's funny, too. I laughed out loud many times. It's a great great book. She knows the problem and offers the answer, and walks her readers through life, pointing out the good and the bad. I learned a lot from her, and was very inspired.

Chastity and purity are virtues hardly talked about, and rarely practiced. There's too much pressure all around us to allow us to remain chaste and pure. I would go so far as to say we are EXPECTED to be promiscuous, uncontrollable, "free" creatures without any sense of morality. We are prudes or stupid or 'there is something wrong' if we desire to wait for marriage. Purity is uncool to talk about, and anyone who does is sure to be made fun of and criticized. I just met a man a couple days ago who told me it is IMPOSSIBLE to be chaste... and he actually believed that.

Living a chaste and pure life is hard - but it is by no means impossible.

I'm waiting... (am I allowed to say that? Will people laugh at me? Will they believe me? Shoot. Do I really care? I'm proud to say that...) I'm waiting. I pray everyday that I will be strong enough to remain chaste and pure. I want to save myself for my husband. I want to be in a holy and pure relationship that is strong and centered on Christ - not blinded by emotions and feelings and - dare I say it? - self gratification and sin. Not that I'm perfect, because I'm not - for sure. I fall. I sin. I go to Confession. But I, like Dawn Eden, believe in God's mercy and that He has a plan for my life - one that is far more beautiful and fulfilling than I could ever plan or hope for. I am His, first and foremost. And I pray that I can be faithful to Him in every way, and that I don't believe or give into the seductive and easy lies of the world. They promise fulfillment and happiness. That couldn't be any further from the truth.

If you are interested, read Dawn's book. There are other great ones out there, too, but she wrote something beautiful here, and it should be read...

God bless, Mary

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Our Plays

Our plays bring the truth before the eyes of others to let them experience with the characters the dynamic and real-life consequences of issues such as abortion and loss of purity. These are not issues to be debated intellectually but are personal ones that touch each of our lives at one point or another. The plays are not meant to be preachy or sentimental, but are intended to show how much we all stand to lose when one of us chooses abortion or chooses to succumb to the temptations of the flesh. We must realize that the choices we make do not just affect our own lives and bodies but are part of a larger picture, one in which others are painted as well.

“Do you see them? The little girls who never got to play. The little boys who never had their chance to save the world. The friends we never had, the loved ones we never got to meet.” Sarah’s Secret

Mission: Possible!

+JMJ+

Come Holy Spirit!


The media is the most dominant and influential force in the lives of countless people over the world. So it makes sense, that if we want to reach people, we would use it. Using the powerful venues of music, theater, and film we present 2,000 year old beliefs in forms people relate to today. Entertaining audiences of all ages, we perform two-woman plays with themes that include pro-life, chastity and modesty, as well as direct a fashion show. Our focus is aimed at highschoolers and middleschoolers, who are so often the victims of the onslaught of impurity and the lack of faith that our modern world glorifies. The youth are at the front lines and we look to them as the soldiers for Christ. So, we are young people reaching out to young people, hoping to inspire and challenge others to pick up their cross and follow Christ.

As a theater company, we bring words to life on the stage. As Catholics, we bring Christ, the Word, to life every day through our actions. As a Catholic theater company, we aim to bring the Word to others, both showing them and learning ourselves how to make our faith real and present in our everyday lives.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Off To A Great Start!

Whew, here we are Monday after our first showcase performance as The Morningstar Players! Our director Kevin flew down from St Louis to run a week of rehearsals. They got pretty intense! One 5 minute scene took almost two hours to get through! On Wednesday, he decided that it would be a great idea to perform in front of an audience on Friday afternoon. Uh oh! So we ran through our plays again and again, straightening out the kinks, identifying the 'moment,' and fixing another detail each time, until finally Friday came!
We set up a little stage area in our office, complete with sound (from a computer!) and lights (from directed desk lamps!). The people filed in a little past three o’clock, and took their seats with expectant chatter. Mary and I stretched and cleared our throats… and off we went!
It was an amazing experience! Working in front of a crowd like that really brought the scenes to life. We taped the rehearsals and the performances for our records and to complete our World Youth Day application. Hopefully we will send that in soon and see what happens!
Elizabeth

Friday, September 7, 2007

Starting up!

Hi! As we go through the first steps of planning and organizing this new endeavor, we’ve realized that in order to be true missionaries of God’s Word we need His help! So we looked up the patron saint of actors and found St. Genesius. God and His Church have always provided us with special mentors, or patron saints, who experienced life in this world and who can help us reach Heaven by following their example. The expertise of St. Genesius was acting, and under his guidance we hope to live out our faith and bring it into the world!
St Genesius was a Roman actor in the fourth century. As a pagan, he decided that a good way to ingratiate himself with the anti-Christian Emperor Diocletian was to perform a play mocking Christianity. A true actor, Genesius wanted to play his part realistically and so he went in search of Christians to learn the secrets of their rites. Genesius grew fascinated with the idea that baptism washed away sins and gave Eternal Life. The performance arrived and in front of the emperor, Genesius played the part of a sick man calling out for baptism. When the actor-priest asked what the sick man wanted, Genesius asked for baptism. As the waters of mock baptism poured over his head, Genesius was filled with grace and proclaimed his belief in Christ. Diocletian was furious and ordered Genesius tossed into jail. He was tortured to make him take back his words of faith. He refused even through the most brutal of pains and was finally beheaded. He is buried in the Church of St. Susanna, the official representative church of the United States in Rome.
May the example of this courageous martyr inspire us all to use our gifts to express God’s Word! Even if we are not called to give our lives to God through martyrdom, we can give our lives to Him by “acting” out His teachings in our daily lives. Like Genesius, we can do “research” to better “perform” His will by reading books about our faith or about our own patron saints. Do you know the story of the saint you were named after? Or who the patron saints of athletes, artists, singers, or even of TV are? Look it up!
Elizabeth

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Meeting and Rehearsing in Florida

Today we began to rehearse for our new season of shows. And we are very excited! More later ...

Friday, July 13, 2007

First Entry!

Welcome to the blog of Mary LaHood and Elizabeth Bauer - the Morning Star Players! We will start posting our exciting adventures as touring actresses for the Faith beginning in September! Please check back often and be sure to leave comments. God bless you all!