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Showing posts from March, 2006

What if the Press admitted its biases?

In today’s Washington Post, Michael Kinsley offers an interesting proposition: Let the American press drop any pretense of objectivity.

Opinion journalism can be more honest than objective-style journalism, because it doesn't have to hide its point of view. All observations are subjective. Writers freed of artificial objectivity can try to determine the whole truth about their subject and then tell it whole to the world. Their "objective" counterparts have to sort their subjective observations into two arbitrary piles: truths that are objective as well, and truths that are just an opinion. That second pile of truths cannot be published, except perhaps as a quote from someone else.

One could make the argument this change has already occurred. Right now I subscribe to the Washington Post, the Washington Times, the National Catholic Register, Our Sunday Visitor, and The Economist (Yes, I do know The Economist is from the British not American press). Each of these publication…

Islam a Religion of Peace: Truth or Delusion?

Evidence of Things not Seen discusses the decision by Borders Books not to sell the latest issue of Free Inquiry magazine because it contains the inflammatory cartoons of the prophet Muhammad. The reason given by Borders is that it would compromise the security and safety of its customers. Evidence of Things not Seen points out that Borders has no qualms about selling material offensive to other groups. Is this sensitivity to Muslims really disingenuous?

If the concern is really about causing offense to a religious group then ,yes, I would call it disingenuous. However, I think Borders is really worried about safety. Catholics do not become murderous rioters over the publication of a plethora of anti-Catholic tomes. Radical Islamo-fascists do.

Read the commentary by M. Zuhdi Jasser from today’s Washington Times.
Then read this article by Jesuit Priest Samir Khalil Samir. Finally read this by Richard Cohen in the Washington Post. Three different publications with different political agen…

Christ is Calling. Are We Listening?

After too many days of anxiety and anger, I am letting go of the angst. Christ’s Church, the Holy Catholic Church, will survive all the misguided deeds of men. I am still not in agreement with adding girls to the altar server pool in Arlington, Virginia. However, I will trust God to overcome any obstacles this move produces.

My thanks to Fr. Guy Selvester for his post today. It made the transition from anxious dread to confident hope much easier. He quoted Pope Benedict XVI : each generation, Christ calls individuals to take care of His people; in particular He calls men to the priestly ministry to exercise a paternal function. ... The priest's mission in the Church is irreplaceable. Therefore, even though some areas suffer a shortage of clergy, we must not lose the conviction that Christ continues to call men to the priesthood.

The point is, Christ will continue to call men to the priesthood. Even if girls serve at the altar, Marty Haugen directs the music, and liturgical dan…

Catholic Communities at non-Catholic Colleges

My neck of the woods is just abuzz with excitement over George Mason making the Final Four. At the beginning of March Madness there was some discussion about the Catholic schools doing well. Georgetown, Gonzaga, Boston College, and Villanova all advanced. Of course some of the discussion was whether or not these were really Catholic schools. Many of the schools’ activities are blatantly at odds with the Church teachings. Now George Mason is a completely secular, public state university. However, if a parent is looking for a school that provides an orthodox nurturing Catholic environment, George Mason is a good choice.

The George Mason St. Robert Bellarmine Chapel community is vibrant and growing. They are aided by theFOCUS ministry. Thursday night suppers draw upwards of 75 students. There are multiple Bible studies. Several young men in the community are discerning priestly vocations.

My son has found a similarly dynamic Catholic community at Texas A&M. St. Mary’s is a very orth…

All will be welcome on Easter Sunday! (And other Sundays too!)

Three Sundays from now tens of thousands candidates and catechumens will come into full communion with the Catholic Church. However, just as importantly, three Sundays from now there will be many cradle Catholics in the pews who attend Mass on no other Sunday during the year. Are we reaching out to them? Elena Curti takes a look at programs in Great Britain to help lapsed Catholics return to the Church.

It is hard for many of us not to feel like the other brother in the story of the Prodigal Son. Here we have been attending Mass faithfully all year long. Now on the greatest feast of the year we have to fight for pew space with these folks who have been sleeping in or playing golf the rest of the year. Don’t you feel a “That’s not fair!” welling up? I had a friend who suggested we hand out tickets to Easter Mass on Palm Sunday. Yet, that is not what our Lord wants. His Passion and Resurrection was for the redemption of all of us: the Daily Mass attenders, the Sunday Mass attenders, and…

Raising real Adults

Dominico Bettinelli has an interesting post about a blogger needing advice on how to be a grown up. It does seem strange that one would have to ask that question. Yet there are plenty of examples of petulant defiant chronological adults who seem more on the maturity level of two-year-olds. I admit my husband does have a T-shirt that reads “You are only young once but you can be immature forever!” and another reading “As bad as the kids”. Still, despite his best efforts, maturity found him and I would classify him as a real adult.

Actually, it found both of us because our parents modeled adulthood for us. They prioritized their lives around faith and family. Responsibility was not a dirty word. I hope we are doing an equally good job of modeling for our children.

A central feature of being an adult is being able to turn one’s gaze outward and realizing you are not the center of the universe. My children have been required to address adults with a “yes ma’am” and “yes sir” since they wer…

Oh, those poor 20-somethings! They can't afford their Starbucks habit!

First published here 3/24/06

Charlotte Allen at Inkwell posted a short discussion of two new books, Strapped by Tamara Draut and Generation Debt by Anya Kamenetz. These books are supposed to pull our heartstrings because those poor college-educated 20-somethings are having such a hard time making ends meet. I mean they have run up their credit card debt with life’s little necessities like trips to Paris and the perfect wedding. If only this age group could politically organize as well as the AARP. Then we could have tax-payer subsidies to fund their lifestyle.

Oh those poor babies! Quick—someone organize a telethon, marathon, or concert! Sorry. I just can’t generate a lot of sympathy. I am so far on the other side of this generation gap that they are going to have to address their latte fund shortfall without my help. You see these kids grew up with a lot of creature comforts. They can’t fathom that their lifestyle has to change now that they are responsible for the bills.

I know colleg…

Arlington Bishop Yields to Political Correctness

First published here 3/22/06:

Look what the Bishop has done! After I wrote so glowingly about the benefits of using only boys as altar servers, Bishop Loverde has caved to political correctness and opened the door for altar girls. The good news is that is up to the discretion of the pastor to include girls. There is a big discussion of the issue going on at Amy Welborn’s blog. The response of those who live in the diocese is overwhelmingly opposed to the introduction of girl altar servers. There is no liturgical reason to exclude the girls. The problem is it will discourage the boys from participating. From these boys come our priests. Lincoln, Nebraska now stands as the only diocese that excludes girls from being altar servers.

After daily mass today the congregation was abuzz with the news. There is a sense of betrayal and bewilderment. We have a system that is working. A quick poll of those at Mass this morning determined that each of the three parishes in a ten-square-mile area ha…

To Be Catholic Means To Accept Church Authority

First published here 3/17/06:

To be Catholic means to accept Church authority. The Pontifications blog has offered a masterpiece in Catholic apologetics on this matter. An “Inquirer” wants to become Catholic but cannot bring himself to convert because of the Catholic church’s stance on divorce, birth control, abortion, homosexuality, and women as priests. Alvin Kimmel gently points out that the Inquirer is asking the wrong questions. The question is not does the Catholic Church believe in the Inquirer’s personal positions on societal and moral issues. The question is does the Inquirer believe the Catholic Church is the Church founded by Christ with Divine Authority. Until he can answer this question, it is pointless to wrestle with the others.

Mr. Kimmel states the crux of the matter: For the Catholic, the decision to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and the decision to accept the authority of the Church is one decision. They cannot be separated, for the risen Christ will not be …

When the Right To An Abortion Becomes A Duty To Abort

The term slippery slope has become almost a cliché when speaking of bioethical issues. However, that is the term that comes to mind when reading Rick Garnett’s post on the Mirror of Justice Blog. He interviewed Professor Lisa Schiltz about the social acceptability of aborting a child with Down’s syndrome or other disabilities. Professor Schiltz is the mother of a son with Down’s syndrome. She speaks of the pressure put on pregnant women to abort their children with disabilities:

Not only have many come to accept that a woman faced with such news is justified in aborting her child, some now go further and insist that she has a duty to abort.

Bob Edwards, the scientist who created Great Britain's first in vitro fertilization baby, gave a speech a couple of years ago at an international fertility conference in which he said, "Soon it will be a sin for parents to have a child that carries the heavy burden of genetic disease. We are entering a world where we have to consider the qua…

Peggy Noonan and Embarrassing the Angels

First published here 3/3/06:

Yesterday, Wall Street Journal columnist, Peggy Noonan, published a beautiful essay about the need to take a stand for human dignity in our culture. I have very little to add to Ms. Noonan’s words, other than a “Bravo! Well said!” I hope you agree.

Some may argue that the coarseness of today’s culture is liberating. We are no longer constrained by the silly social protocols called manners. In reality, these behavior standards are meant to provide a framework for civil interaction between people. They recognize the essential human dignity of every person, regardless of station in life.

I expect my children to say “Please” and “Thank-you”. A waitress once pulled me aside and complimented my children’s manners. She said she didn’t hear “please” very often when taking food and drink orders. I thanked her for her kind words and assured her many people were just preoccupied and would be more polite if they thought about it. Soon afterwards, a teenage boy joined…

I Don't Think That is What The Bishop Really Meant!

First published here 3/2/06:

Archbishop Wilton Gregory spurred some discussion at Dominico Bettinelli’s blog over the appropriate dress for Mass. I know Bishop Gregory was trying to sound welcoming to all those young teens in his Archdiocese when he said he doesn’t care what they wear to Mass, but I think he must be a little naïve to have given such latitude to their attire. I am certain he does not want to see cleavage or midriffs, jeans cut so low they defy gravity to stay up, buttocks hanging out of shorts or mini-skirts, or pants so baggy we are treated to a substantial view of the boxers beneath. I really think he was talking more about whether you should be in dresses or nice slacks rather than jeans. Do you have to have “church shoes” or are running shoes okay? I really do believe what he was wanting to communicate was he was comfortable with teens arriving at Mass looking like teens with the assumption that these teens would be dressed modestly. After all, none of the immo…

Catholic Charity is more than Alms-Giving

First published here 2/26/06:

Right now I am in the middle of organizing the income tax information. This provides an opportunity to review the year’s charitable giving. This issue of charity seems to be popping up quite a bit lately. Pope Benedict XVI’s first encyclical addressed Charity directly. His Lenten Message does as well. As Lent approaches we are called to serve the season with penance, prayer, and alms-giving. But charity is far more than the alms-giving I have recorded for the benefit of the IRS.

Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta is the purest vision of Charity in the modern world. She sought to alleviate the suffering of the poorest and weakest because she saw the face of Christ in each of them. Her love of Christ was expressed in her love for neighbor. Indeed she herself felt the worst poverty was not to know Christ. Pope John Paul II expressed this same idea when he said, “The temptation today is to reduce Christianity to merely human wisdom, a pseudo-science of well-bein…

A Frightening Pro-Abortion Essay

First published here 2/10/06:

It is with great trepidation that I admit the topic of abortion into my blog. It is a subject about which I am passionate. I am unapologetically pro-life. I hold sacred all human life from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death. I have been a family practice physician for over twenty years. I have nurtured life in the womb and witnessed life’s final breath. It is a very slender thread that separates life and death. I also humbly acknowledge that we humans are not wise enough to decide when that thread should be cut. That decision belongs to God alone.

The reason I fear introducing the subject of abortion into my personal blog space, is because the discussion can quickly turn uncivil. Abortion is an emotion laden topic. The posts often deteriorate to personal attacks on either supporters or opponents of abortion. So why would I introduce this into what has been thus far a fairly innocuous space for pleasant discussion? Well, Amy Welborn’s bl…

Our Daughters Deserve Better than Barbie or Bratz

First published here 2/10/06:

“Barbie is a bimbo!” Apparently, my daughter uttered these words years ago in her pre-school class, much to the horror of the teacher and her Barbie-loving classmates. I have to take credit (blame?) for her attitude. Barbie is such a hyper-sexed caricature of women. This is not an image I wanted my daughter to idolize. I am sure I said something to the effect of “You are way too smart to play with Barbie.” And it is very possible I added the line “Barbie is such a bimbo!” (Remember talking Barbie’s declaration that math class is too tough!) And of course my daughter repeated these words without hesitation.

Now my daughter is a high school teenager of whom I am very proud. We have absolutely no arguments over her clothes. (Other than trying to get them off the floor and out of the laundry baskets). She is a very attractive young athlete, who chooses to dress modestly. I don’t give avoiding Barbie all the credit for her modesty. Rather, avoiding Barbie was…

A Legacy of Virtue

First published here 2/4/06

Two quotes have been on my mind recently. The first is from the will of actress Grace Kelly’s father, Jack Kelly: I can give you only worldly goods…but if I had the choice, I would give you character

The second is attributed to E.C. McKenzie: The worst danger that confronts the younger generation is the example set for it by the older generation

If I had found these quotes when I was just starting out as a parent, I hope I would have been smart enough to post them on the bathroom mirror so that I read them every morning as I started the day. The gift of children comes with this awesome responsibility to instill strong moral values in them. As Jack Kelly realized, character cannot be bequeathed the way material wealth is passed on from one generation to the next. It is molded, shaped, and modeled. And as E.C. McKenzie points out, the example set by parents is the single biggest influence on our children.

When I taught third grade CCD, we were discussing the T…

A Nagging Mom Explains

First posted here 2/3/06

One of my boys just completed the last requirement for the Boy Scout rank of Eagle Scout, the highest rank in the Boy Scout program. It is a great honor and a great accomplishment to reach this pinnacle. Let me also say, that behind every Eagle Scout is a parent, usually a Mom, with a little more gray hair from the coaxing, cajoling, and just plain nagging it took to get an adolescent boy to keep pushing and complete the path to Eagle. I jokingly told my son I expect to receive my Nagging Mommy Merit Badge at his Eagle Court of Honor.

It takes a lot of energy to be a Nagging Mom. When the children were very little, I was like a set of training wheels. I was constantly there, making corrections and shielding them from disasters. The older they get, however, the harder it is to keep them from falling. Most of the time they are riding the bike without training wheels. I am still always there if they need me. I offer suggestions. I cheer loudly when the ride is succ…

It'sMy Job, Not the School's Job, To Teach My Child About Sex

First published here 2/2/06

There was a time in my life when I understood calculus, differential equations, and advanced physics. Now, however, those brain cells have been permanently deleted. Therefore, I am happy to have someone whose advanced math and physics brain cells are still intact teach my children the wonders of integrals, vectors, and quantum mechanics. On the other hand, it is my job to teach my children about sex and sexuality. Because of this, my 10th grader is now happily engaged in a study hall each day, rather than sitting through the “morally neutral” presentation of human sexuality offered by this quarter’s health class. The public school program pays lip service to abstinence but with a “wink, wink, nudge, nudge” says, “Here is the rest of the story.” They proclaim to the students, “You are not ready to have sex now!” Okay. When will they be ready? The program can’t say “after marriage” because that is a moral stricture and this program is ---all together now—“mor…

Boys Only For Catholic Altar Servers

First posted here on 2/1/06

Perusing my blog entries, I am concerned that I am doing way too much complaining. I don’t like the music, , The Da Vinci Code is offensive, and Catholic Schools Week is divisive. So what is working well in my Catholic community?

Actually, what is working well is something I would never have expected to be so positive. The Diocese of Arlington, Virginia allows only boys to be altar servers. When we moved here several years ago, my first reaction was a panicked, “What about my daughter?” After living with the program for a few years I have gone from a knee-jerk, “That’s not fair!” to a real appreciation for the program.

Our parish has over 120 boys from the 5th through 12th grade participating as altar servers. We have at least two altar servers at each of two daily Masses, and six altar servers at each of five Sunday Masses. We also have at least two altar servers for the weekly Holy Hour on Wednesday nights. We always have altar servers for weddings and fune…

A Sampling of Catholic Churches

First posted 1/28/06:

I mentioned before that finding a church while traveling, is an adventure. Truly, you never know what you will find. My children and I travel frequently for soccer tournaments. We have been doing this for seven years and have never missed Mass because we couldn’t find a church. We have discovered some interesting churches over the years. I know we are “one, holy, apostolic Church” but that doesn’t mean each parish doesn’t put its own spin on Mass.

One Sunday we found ourselves at Mass with the choir being led by a country gospel music singer. The recessional required us to sing something along the lines of “Ain’t God Great” then the right side of the church jumps up and yells “Yee” then sits while the left side of the church jumped up and said “Haw”. Great for pre-school or aerobics class but not so great for Mass.

Not too long ago we arrived at the church to find a great big auditorium-like room. There was no holy water,no kneelers, no saints, no crucifix, no stat…

Find Catholic Mass even when Traveling

First published 1/27/06

There is no such thing as a travel dispensation. Even when you are away from your home parish, you are expected to take advantage of your Sunday opportunity to attend Mass. With most communities offering a Saturday evening vigil Mass as well as Sunday Mass, there is really no excuse for missing Mass while traveling unless you are backpacking beyond the reach of civilization. It takes just a little planning and effort on your part. The question is, “Do you really want to go to Mass?”

Why should we worry about missing Mass while traveling? Well, the easy answer is “’Cause the Church says so!” Missing Mass is considered a serious sin. Jesus told Peter Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven (Mt 16:19)so we must take the edicts of the Church quite seriously. Still, this is a child-like level of understanding. The more mature answer is we have a responsibility to maintain our relationship with God. Like any relationship, if it is neglected, it weaken…

Silent Prayer

First Published 1/26/06
Recently I wrote about how distracting I found most modern liturgical music. This past Sunday, I attended a no-music Mass. Our parish eliminated the choir as well as hymns from the 7:30 AM Sunday Mass. This sounded rather stark to me, but my youngest was assigned as an altar server to this Mass so we gave it a try. It was lovely. I had forgotten how prayerful silence is. My senses relaxed and my heart and mind could just be in God’s presence. After a particularly hectic week, I don’t need more noise in my life. I need quiet peace.

Silence can be intimidating. I am much more comfortable using my personal prayer time to say a Rosary, to offer petitions, to ask for intercession, or to read Scripture. I get uncomfortable when there is an “awkward silence” in my conversation with God. However, sometimes I need to just shut up and listen. How am I ever going to get God’s side of the conversation if I won’t let Him get a word in edgewise. Therefore, I have to think of …

Sing a Joyful Song of Catholic Music

First posted 1/16/06 at

I admit it. I am somewhat of a traditionalist when it comes to music during Mass. I love good rock and roll as much as anyone. My cell phone ring is Led Zeppelin. However, as we gather and celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass, I want something that conveys the awe, reverence, and majesty of the Mass. In my humble opinion, much of the liturgical music written after 1970 just doesn’t fit in that category. Most of it is impossible for congregations to sing together. The musical intervals and rhythms are too complex for unrehearsed participation and often change from verse to verse to fit the forced rhymes of the lyrics. The lyrics are stylized versions of scripture, gender neutral nature worship, or sappy poetry with the literary quality of greeting cards. The congregation ends up just standing there with open hymnal and awkwardly lip syncing. Many give up and don’t even open the hymnal and pretend to participate. Apparently I am not alone in my disdain for the m…

Bluebell Ice Cream Heaven

Because my previous site seems to be having major technical difficulties, I will be moving some of the more popular posts from that site this site.

First posted 1/24/2006:

For now I am living in the Washington D.C. suburbs. I love my home. I live near woods and all manners of wildlife appear outside my window. I am beginning to appreciate the cycle of four seasons I really didn’t have in my Texas home. I have wonderful friends in the area. There is a powerful faith community here. But I just don’t know that I can really put down roots and retire here. You see, there is no Bluebell Ice Cream.

Now if you are a Bluebell Ice Cream fan, you are nodding your head right now. For those of you who are looking puzzled, let me explain. Bluebell Ice Cream was originally produced at a little creamery in Brenham, Texas. This little creamery has grown into a major commercial enterprise. Of course, any ice cream produced in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, has to incorporate the taste of heaven. …

A little publicity and a new home for Catholic Mom

What a surprise! Before I even finished my first cup of coffee this morning I was seeing my name in the Washington Post. The follow-up article on the introduction of girl altar servers in the Arlington Diocese included quotes from the blogosphere. My comment from Amy Welborn’s Open Book blog was highlighted. If you want to know what I really think about girl altar servers, please take a look at this. After all my unpublished letters to the Washington Post editor, I was surprised to see my opinion in print.

In other news, I am grateful to Eric Scheske for mentioning my blog in the National Catholic Register. Also to Kelly Clark for a nod from The Lady in the Pew.

I have been blogging for just a short while. I really just happened on to it by accident. I like the format of this site better than my former site so we will see how it goes. If you have been reading me regularly, I hope you didn’t have too much trouble finding me at my new cyberspace home. If you are new to my blog, welcome! I…