All posts by catholicandchocolate

Chocolate Breath

This post is overdue especially because I partially named my blog site  chocolate.  For whatever reason, more emphasis had been geared to the other topics I wanted to share.

But let’s get back to chocolate. I have written how my love for chocolate began when I originally began to blog. My earliest memory is sitting in the back seat of my Mom’s car during a ride to pick up my Aunts from the Tucson airport.  I was eating a Hershey bar. I remember loving the flavor.  And as far as I can remember, it kept me pretty steady while we drove to pick them up.

Once my Aunts greeted me, they both realized the aroma coming from my breath and I probably still had some chocolate stuck around my mouth.  My Aunt Alicia at that point said I had chocolate breath and since I have been nicknamed.

As I grew older, my taste in chocolate has changed.  From a kid to an adult, it went from milk chocolate/very sweet to dark chocolate/less sweet.  I love the rich flavor of dark and the variety.  After years now of eating a piece of chocolate everyday, I had no idea that the medical world would see this as a good thing.  That is eating healthy high cacao rich chocolate is good for you.

In this section of my blog dedicated to chocolate, I’ll share the brands or desserts I have come to love.  If you follow my Instagram account, you will already see I post on this.

 

Chocolate Bars

The chocolate bars I list here are eaten out of pleasure.  Yes, some carry healthy benefits while others do not.  I’m not noting all the characteristics of each bar.  Only what I receive in flavor.  Some are Non- GMO while others well, are full fledged unhealthy.  But all are dark chocolate! I do list by my own ranking.

Endangered Species 72% Dark (West Africa) – on a regular basis, I have my go to chocolate bar.  In the evening, I like to nibble on this.  It’s not sweet, but flavorful, not bitter, but smooth.

Green and Black’s Organic Dark 70% (Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Indonesia, the Dominican Republic, India and Brazil) – this is slightly sweeter than the Endangered Species and the break off squares are nice and thick.  One square usually satisfies. Rich tasting.

Lily’s Dark Chocolate with Stevia Original – I really wasn’t sure how I was going to like this one.  The Stevia was making me think it was going to have a weird aftertaste.  But it doesn’t!  I liked the flavor so much that I have used the baking chips for cookies and they come out great!

Teuscher Dark 77% (Switzerland) – Can’t find this in Arizona.  I can either order or wait until I fly to New York and take a trip to their fabulous store at Rockefeller center.  This chocolate hits all the notes.

Perugina Bitterswseet Chocolate 70% (Italy) –  This taste like chocolate cake. More sugar in it but one square does you good. Perugina makes Baci, another chocolate treat.  One that I find too sweet, so when I came across this I had reservation and yet it’s fantastic!

Nibble Organic Dark 72% (Peru) –  Two ingredients only. If you are not into bitter, this isn’t for you. But I found its deep chocolate taste yummy.  It’s not a chocolate bar you can easily find.  I found it in Old Town San Diego at a coffee bar.  It is pricy, but the break squares are chunky.

Stonegrindz Chocolate Cinnamon Cayenne 66% (unknown) –  This chocolate company is based out of Scottsdale, AZ. I found them at a Chocolate Fair.  I’m not much into these added flavored chocolates such as this, but this one changed my mind.  I couldn’t find where they source their chocolate, but appreciate their otherwise informative website.

 

 

You are not God

Each December teaches me something — I am not in control! Patience is a virtue! It’s not about you! Jesus! But this time, a lesson came to me that still has been hard for me to accept.

Before I explain, I would like to share that my husband and I took this month of December to stay home instead of going on a holiday trip and do some remodeling to our master bath. Because it is December, a week job has turned into a month. Thank God we have another working shower!! With the work being done, I’ve had to stay put. Not so bad I’d say, because I took care of things. The stress with making the decision to remodel of course isn’t easy. Did we time this right? Should we have waited??

However, coming off the shower completion, I caught a cold. And for whatever reason, no matter how I try to avoid getting sick, I can bank “losing” about 5 days. My husband looks at me with compassion, but I can see it on him that he is bummed since it impacts his Christmas cheer. He also sees how I could use some fun considering how these past weeks have been, not all having to do with the remodel.

To add, all those commitments I wanted to keep, Advent exercises, the baking, lunch/dinner dates, etc. get canceled.

With this downtime, I have had time to reflect which is the most important thing I did this whole month.

Referring back now to a lesson learned, it has to do with my response to a loved one and recognizing I am not the book of wisdom.

For years, I’ve giving my ears, heart, hands to my loved one in the same capacity and in the same way. Whenever there’s a crisis, I’m there. This past year has been the toughest and even though, I kept my response in the way I thought our Lord wanted me to, I realized this last time it felt exhausted.

Most of the time when I tried to help, I would end up feeling sick and stressed. Almost like it was flung onto me and left to harm. I don’t think my loved one wanted this to be but also never took notice of it. This time, I felt I had to step away.

Then within one week as I searched and prayed after this last incident, I received 3 confirmations. One direct in prayer, one from a person who had no idea of this issue, and one from a homily. This let me know a change had to become and that I am not God!

As much as it saddens me that even after I confronted this cycle to the loved one, a reaction of anger and bitterness ensued. No matter how I try to clarify or reason, it will be looked at as not loving or not being Christ like.

But I’m not God. My tactics, speech, countless hours, have not changed my loved one to convert their soul. It’s not that I’m saying all I tried is wasted, but that my response must change or I too will be damaged. My loved one has to change in the manner our Lord wants them to and not be satisfied only with peaceful words that come out of my mouth.

I can’t make life better. Only Jesus can. I can’t make you change. Only Jesus can. I can’t take your pain. Only Jesus can.

I trust in God and will continue on how He wants me too. That I can’t change or stop people from doing things that harm. I can only love and point to Him.

May our God who is all merciful break the chain that keeps you from seeking His knowledge.+++

There’s something about October

There’s something about October.

Here it is again!

The start of its splendor.

Rises to our recollection of what once been.

The heart wrenched news.

Their suffering dues.

All come reminding, their last days here.

Like dying leaves surrounding, our hearts go onto longing, their lives in many ways.

Why is it Dear Lord these souls ached or perished at the time of these orange skies?

How much they are missed.

Til we see them next, please keep them ever by your side.

The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena

Around August 15th, about the time the news broke out on Cardinal McCarrick and the priest sex abuse scandal, I had just received my copy of ‘The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena.  For some reason, right before this horrific news hit, I felt compelled to read it.  Even though I have read many books on St. Catherine, this one I hadn’t.  This book is the one big source to her total being.  It is odd to me that I hadn’t read it and yet now was the most perfect time to read it.

Quite frankly, I wish I could post a pic of each page and upload her text so you can just skip what I have to say about it and read what was written.

For those who don’t know about this book or St. Catherine, her life’s purpose in a nutshell had to do with reform of the Church. This book is the essential piece to the work she performed to help rid the Church of bad clergy.  Much of St. Catherine’s life was a selfless act of humility and servitude. All she wanted was for others to come to Christ and to defend the Church. Two things I hold dear in my heart.  However, I am no way near selflessness. But thanks to God, through St. Catherine, He used her at a time when much revolt was occurring and educated her to evangelize the masses during it.

St. Catherine was gifted with such openness to have our Father God speak to her.  With that, he gave her multiple “talks” on how to respond, how to pray, what to teach/pass on, how to stay on course of the faith, etc. during the time of purging and restoration.

The dialogue is based on “bad clergy” and Our Lord’s response to that.  He often refers to them not as bad clergy but priests who rather “self love” than to love God.

God’s speech to St. Catherine defines who follows Christ and those who don’t. He points out to her what He sees in both.

This excerpt is identifying those who are full of self love. From the book: “…nor the three vows which he promised to observe at the time of his Profession; he swims in the tempestuous sea, tossed to and fro by contrary winds, fastened only to the ship by his clothes, wearing the religious habit on his body, but not on his heart.”

Father God shares with St. Catherine that there are priests performing evil acts.  Some so far into it, they can’t even turn away or find God’s mercy.  So they continue to stay in their sin and filth.  He instructs St. Catherine to pray for them. Pray they come to ask for God’s mercy before they die and how worse is it for a Priest to commit their abuse and never have asked God for forgiveness then for anyone who has committed the same abuse.

He goes onto telling St. Catherine that as much as we despise these “priests” who are causing evil in the Church and letting it fester, that we not lose sight that they are still Priests.  To not slander their name or mock them. But to instead pray. To remember, they are priests and that they are His.

He tells her: ” You should love them therefore by reason of the virtue and dignity of the Sacrament, and by reason of that very virtue and dignity you should hate the defects of those who live miserably in sin, but not on that account appoint yourselves their judges, which I forbid, because they are my Christ’s, and you ought to love and reverence the authority which I have given them.”

After I read this, I completely understood it. It hit my soul….”of course.”  These Priests are under attack.  And some weak, they don’t even know it anymore. There are layers to these crimes committed and are being committed and who they affect.

Vow, Priest, sin, (mercy) >>>Church, Eucharist, faithful, (salvation).

It is not that Our Lord does not want us to be angry at what they’ve done, but to center on the problem that is causing this awful sin and that is the Devil himself.  The devil and all darkness is whom we are fighting.

The words and imagery used by Our Lord to St. Catherine speak with love and ferocity. His words are nothing but love and how awful it is for those who lose sight of it. What happens to us when we lose sight of Christ in our lives? Our world becomes foggy, we become clouded by our sin, our hearts are clogged.

This book came at the right time.  And since, I keep seeing clergy to the faithful, refer to St. Catherine as a reference on how to go forward. She is thrust out on the forefront again. Rallying the faithful to stop and recognize who we are in this fight against the evil that is in the Church by those who for far too long have kept it hidden.  The struggle seems the same but it is new to us. The push to make change or to put an end to the darkness is slowing happening. The task seems overwhelming. But if we take into account, this book, and its bits of instruction, we can plow through.  Let’s stay on the Ship.

St. Catherine of Siena, pray for us. +++

What is Truth?

So Pilate said to him, “Then you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”

Pilate’s response has been ringing in my head these days. I’ve been thinking about his response in relation to current events. The illusionist is working many angles from religion to politics to family relationships. I understand this is nothing new. But what seems different to me is the loss of respect in people’s attempt to defend their truth.

The lines of facts are skewed and there are many who use them to benefit a cause/point no matter if there is validity. If they believe them to be true, that’s all that matters. Reason or logic to a situation isn’t taken into consideration and what seems even worse is that people don’t care what that might mean to the person/persons it affects.

Credibility weakens when facts are skewed because the person/persons where respect was once given is thrown out the window too.  Seeing this more towards the Church.  The mocking and the not taking seriously the Church’s position to everyday moral questions by Catholics and Non Catholics. However, it is not just the Church authority that is suffering. There is a string of other high regard positions of people under attack as well. From school teachers, law enforcement, business leaders, medical professionals, pharmaceutical industry, political office, etc. Never have I felt credibility to not be important to possess, but it seems from recent events, accountability and respect are becoming blurred and the attempt by the devil is to make people lose sight of order and control.

The biggest example is from Church leaders. Certain clergy are still visible doing things that they shouldn’t be. The faithful, from my assertion, are moving on knowing there’s only so much they can do or put their time and energy into the fight. The visible results are slowing being seen. It’s not that nothing is being done, but it might appear to some it isn’t changing.  I feel all must share and care to inform others change will take time.

Now going back to the truth, if you don’t show honor to ones truth, then you must side with the opposition and therefore you’re the enemy. Sensitivity and boundaries seem to not work for everyone. If you’re not for them, you’re against them. People want you to not take away their ideals, but are not understanding that’s what they’re doing to you.  Some news line is fed out and people, without further researching, believe it. They never look past it and then begin using it as a weapon of defense on something that is not true.

There are countless sources out on the internet feeding people garbage that they believe in and end up falling in the trap. Untruths about the President, the Pope, government programs, crimes, etc. They tend to not go further into fact checking and become paralyzed with fear.  It’s awful and scary.  I truly believe that if they spent more time in their faith, practicing, their eyes would see what is truth and what are lies. I’m grateful Our Lord has me where I am, but I know I need to get deeper rooted.  I feel it for the sake of my own family.

The best I and others can do is help our brothers and sisters know what to focus on and where to take our fears. The world is changing fast and those around us may not see what their eyes are losing sight of.

I believe

For almost these past two months, there has been increase in news exposing the darkness in the Catholic Church. It feels like each week, there is more news to prove, it’s worse than what we thought the day before.  Personally, I receive the bulk of my news through Twitter. The national news isn’t even reporting in the speed Twitter is feeding it.  The news sources I cover are reputable Catholic news agencies, along with Catholic reporters/journalists, theologians, speakers, public figures, etc.

At this point, I feel like where I’m at in information, is a bit numbing.  I’m stunned and shocked.  But as I pointed out earlier in a previous blog, the aid of reading from St Catherine of Siena’s writings to Catholic bloggers, experts of the faith, have channeled me with direction.  Attentiveness to the daily Mass readings, and thanks to God, the rosary for reparation for the Church that began a novena on the Queenship of Mary, have been key to me in clarity.

However, I felt the need to write about some of my feelings on particular responses I’ve read from the ‘faithful’.  A part of me is a little apprehensive about sharing my thoughts because I don’t want to come off as one who thinks I have attained all faith and knowledge. I clearly have not!  But the other side of me, is well…getting a little fed up with Catholic folk on sharing their voices about their Catholicism.

For example, and I mainly see it on Twitter, are comments shared by celebrities, writers, politicians, etc, who express they have just had it with the Papacy, Cardinals, and just think the whole tie to identifying oneself Catholic is questionable.  That the disgust, mistrust, no firing of the Cardinals is quick enough, Pope Francis isn’t stepping down, is all enough to leave the Church.

There are people blurting out all these things to the faithful not ever recognizing their responsibility to them.  I’ve written a few responses to them saying, bluntly, stop feeling so victimized and get out there and fight.  Fight for those who are victims of priest sex abuse, for those who only have faith because of where/how they live is dire, for the good priests having to push through it all and be everything to everyone right now, for the bad priests who cannot see past “self love” and are not aware to ask for God’s mercy, for the faithful at your parish who are family, for the Catholic Church as a whole who is the Body of Christ. You, me, everyone. We need to be strong!

It blows me away and I have to be careful about this thought, and I know we are all at different stages of our faith, but besides that, those who are vocal about their indecision are not 4th graders. They’re educated. They’re intellectuals. They should recall all those scriptures covered in Mass that they have attended and know what they are supposed to do!  All those readings are life and guidance!

I mean, even if you did not have all the knowledge, why wouldn’t you seek answers by what you have been taught and why you are Catholic in the first place??  That’s all I’m saying. The Eucharist is the number one reason. The number one very big reason. How is it that easy to walk away?

In no means, am I perfect at my faith. I do not know everything. I’m a 47 year old woman.  I practice and seek each day. But for something as so sacred as our faith in which Jesus entrusted to the Apostles by the Holy Spirit to the Church to be given to us, how can we all sound so flaky about our response when we deal with crises.

Multiple scripture verses come to mind:

Luke 9:23 – Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

Ephesians 6:10-12 – Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.

1 Peter 5:8-9 – Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for [someone] to devour.fResist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings.

1 Corinthians 12: 27-31 – Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it. Some people God has designated in the church to be, first, apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers; then, mighty deeds; then, gifts of healing, assistance, administration, and varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work mighty deeds?Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts.

 

Recite the Nicene Creed.  You don’t follow men. You follow Jesus and the Church He gave us! Fight!