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Showing posts from April, 2006

Quality of Life Judgments

I want to clarify some issues with the Andrea Clark case. If Andrea Clark communicated she was ready to have the ventilator removed or to discontinue dialysis, it should be done. It is within her moral purview to make that request. If she is unable to make that request, then the question should fall to the guardian entrusted with making these decisions for her when she is incapacitated. There is no moral dilemma if either Ms. Clark or her designated guardian opt to discontinue life support. The moral complexity arises when Ms. Clark's desire is to remain on life support and a hospital committee disagrees because they have made a quality-of-life assessment and found Ms. Clark's life "without meaning".

William May explains why quality-of-life assessments are inappropriate for determining who should live and who should die in his book Catholic Bioethics and the Gift of Human Life:

"Quality of Life" judgments are inescapably arbitrary and unjust. Different author…

Andrea Clark Case now Unresolved Again

Wesley Smith has posted the latest developments here. Andrea Clark will not be moving to Chicago. However, they have found another physician to assume her care and St. Luke's has agreed to delay the removal of life support until at least Tuesday to give this new physician a chance to make a thorough assessment. He quotes Lanor Dixon, Andrea's sister as saying:

St. Luke's has agreed not to pull Andrea's life support at least until Tuesday. On Tuesday, a committee of doctors from St. Luke's will meet to discuss how to proceed with Andrea's case. Andrea's new doctor--a doctor who shares our values about the sacredness of life--will take over her care on Tuesday and will fight for her right to live. Let us all hope and pray that the committee meeting on Tuesday is chaired by doctors who have a reverence for life and not a former abortionist like the St. Luke's ethics committee chair."

Resolution to the Case of Andrea Clark


The Houston Chronicle reports on the resolution reached between St. Luke’s Hospital and the family of Andrea Clark. A hospital in Chicago has agreed to accept her. As I reported in the update to this case yesterday, the family received the offer from the Chicago hospital yesterday. If the family agreed to move her yesterday, St. Luke’s would pay the transportation costs. If they waited until today St. Luke’s would pay half. If they waited until tomorrow or later, they would pay none of the costs. So while St. Luke’s is pointing out how generous they are to pay these costs, it should be noted that this is just a financial decision for them. It is probably cheaper for them to pay the transportation costs than it is to keep her in the hospital through Sunday when they planned to remove her from life support. Their declining financial contribution to the transportation costs supports this.

Significant points from the Houston Chronicle article includ…

Selling Victimhood

I just finished listening to the sales spiel of a young woman who is going door to door trying to get me and my neighbors to buy or renew a magazine subscription. Actually, she isn’t trying to sell the magazines. She is trying to sell her victimhood. You see she didn’t have all the opportunities she is sure I had. She is a poor, single mother of a two-year-old son and twin ten-month-old daughters. She is just trying to stay focused and keep her life on track. Won’t I please take an interest in her life and buy a magazine subscription. My neighbors took an interest in her life. She gets a 50% commission. Oh, please, please, please, won’t I just order a magazine?

She had nothing to say about the products I was supposedly buying. In fact, I didn’t even have to receive the magazine. I could buy a subscription for her benefit and donate the subscription to a women’s shelter.

I didn’t buy a magazine. She seemed stunned I couldn’t be guilted into a purchase. She recited all my neighbors’ names…

More about Andrea Clark

Wesley Smith of Secondhand Smoke and Amy Welborn of Open Book have hosted blog discussions of the case of Andrea Clark. I wrote about this case here. has a series of articles here. A quick summary is Ms. Clark is a seriously ill patient at St. Luke’s hospital in Houston, Texas. This is an Episcopal hospital. She requires a ventilator. Her family states she is coherent when she is not sedated from pain medication and she is able to communicate with them by moving her lips and blinking her eyes. They state she has clearly communicated she wants to continue with this treatment.

The hospital convened an ethics committee as they are authorized to do under Texas law. They determined her care is futile. Therefore, they want to remove life support and allow Ms. Clark to die. Once the committee’s decision is made, the family has 10 days to find alternate care. If they are unable to do so, they proceed with their course of action. In this case, the deadline is April 30.

In the d…

Bird Blog Update

Well, what a surprise. I knew the purple finch couple was acting feisty today. The Leyland cypress is visible from my office window, but actually backs right up to a family room window. As I peered into the branches from that window I saw a small nest filled with gray “fuzz”. Suddenly, Mama and Papa finch showed up and that fuzz developed wide open beaks! Five baby birds were eagerly awaiting dinner. Talk about sibling rivalry. There was no sharing here. The beak that was open the widest and reaching the highest is the one that got fed. After the feeding frenzy was over and the parents left to replenish the food supply they curled back up into a mass of gray downy feathers. I must say that even though Papa didn’t seem to help much with the nest building, he is certainly doing a great job feeding the kids. Mama sits on the nest keeping them covered and Papa is doing most of the feeding, though sometimes they do share the task. Needless to say my productivity was a bit down today. But k…

Bird Blog

I would never consider myself an expert ornithologist, but I love watching and identifying birds. Our current home backs up to a wooded park so the bird watching is primo. This past Christmas I received the perfect birdfeeder. Actually it is three feeders. It is a tall cast-iron pole with three shepherd hooks. One holds a feeder of safflower seeds. One holds a feeder of salted peanuts. (This is a favorite of the woodpeckers) One holds a suet feeder. I was able to place it where it is clearly visible from the kitchen window but in a clearing so it is inaccessible to the squirrels. I also have a tube feeder of niger seed mounted to the back deck railing. This has a steady stream of goldfinches and purple finches. I am not sure if it is the nearby availability of the birdfeeders, but something has made the Leyland cypress tree outside my office window a veritable housing development for the birds.

The lower branches are home to a mourning dove couple. A little higher up a purple finch c…

Euthanasia in a Texas Hospital?

Please read this post on Amy Welborn’s blog as well as the discussion following it. Also read this link.

The gist of the story is that Andrea Clark has been critically ill at St. Luke’s hospital since November. According to her family, she is not comatose nor is she brain damaged. She does require a ventilator and dialysis. She communicates by moving her lips and blinking her eyes. An ethics committee at St. Luke’s Hospital (an Episcopal hospital) has determined that her quality of life does not merit further care and her continued medical care is futile. The family states Andrea clearly communicated her desire to continue life support until she dies naturally. Her family concurs with this decision. However, according to Texas law, the ethics committee has the final say and is legally free to override the family’s decision. Once the ethics committee makes their decision, the family has ten days to find another hospital to care for the patient. If they cannot do so, the hospital procee…

A Blogger's reflection on proclaiming the Gospel

My trusty daily Mass companion, The Magnificat (which, by the way, you can order from the link to your left) had one of those meditation’s today that makes you think God is poking you in the ribs and saying, “Did you get that?”. I enjoy reading the meditation during my reflection after Communion. Today’s offering was written by Father Antonin Gilbert Sertillanges, O.P. He was a Dominican priest who died in 1948. He speaks to the idea of proclaiming the Gospel:

Anyone who loves Jesus Christ seeks forthwith to communicate him to others. Once charged with electricity, he transmits the current. To him in whom dwells the fullness of the Spirit, every spirit connected with him is a transmitter….

The preacher is of no account spiritually, if he himself is not holy. People might say: “He spoke very well” (a theatrical success), or: “He is right” (a university success). But the silent adherence which results from the contact of souls communicating in God, transmitting the flame from one to the o…

Church Etiquette

I was looking at the web site of St. Mary Margaret Catholic Church in Winter Park, Florida. Included was a page on Church Etiquette. I think this needs to be published in most parish bulletins around the country. Read the whole thing here. One of the passages that struck a chord with me was the following:

Leaving Before the Final Blessing:
Leaving church before the dismissal ignores another important part of the Liturgy. At the dismissal, we celebrate our commission as set forth by Jesus Christ himself. In that, Jesus’ last words to his disciples were “Therefore, go out and make disciples of all nations….. And behold, I am with you until the end of the age.” Matt 28:19-20. Our liturgy has a beginning (“In the name of the Father …”) and an end ("Let us go in peace to love and serve the Lord…").

To leave immediately after Communion is to treat church like a fast food restaurant where we come and go as we please. We live in a fast-paced world where we seem to be hurrying from pl…

Confession Tips and Divine Mercy Sunday

I have mentioned before our priests have really been encouraging us to take advantage of the sacrament of Reconciliation. Today our priest congratulated us on responding to this call. Four priests were hearing confessions during Holy Week and each spent at least 9 hours in the confessional to accommodate all the penitents.

He then said after hearing so many confessions he thought he would offer a few pointers.

1. Give an approximate length of time since your last confession. “A long time’ could mean anything. Was it three weeks, three months, three years, or three decades?

2. Tell the priest your station in life. Are you married, widowed, a student, working full time, etc. This gives the priest a chance to put your confession in context. ( I had never heard this suggestion before, but it makes sense)

3. The priest needs enough information to understand the nature of the sin, but doesn’t need excruciating detail. “I violated the fourth commandment” is a bit vague, but a blow-by-blow desc…

Pro-condom groups offend Russian Sensibilities

I think the whole world is talking about condoms!

Lyudmila Stebenkova, a member of the Moscow municipal legislature is calling on Putin to limit the activities of international groups advocating the use of condoms to prevent AIDS.

"They even show children how to put on a condom!" she complained.

Shocked by a
UNICEF film distributed to Moscow schools, Stebenkova urged the Moscow legislature -- which, like the national parliament, is controlled by United Russia -- to vote in favor of an appeal calling on Putin to limit the activities of international anti-AIDS groups in Russia.

A draft text of the proposed appeal to Putin has received the backing of Patriarch Alexy II, head of the Russian Orthodox Church.

She should see what passes for sex education in United States public schools!

Catholics and Condoms

Seems there is lots of talk about condoms today. Mirror of Justice offers a piece from Commonweal debating the cost of the Church’s ban on condoms. Supposedly retired Cardinal Martini says condoms are okay to prevent the spread of AIDS from one spouse to another.

Okay, the doctor in me has to say this. Condoms are not completely effective in preventing AIDS. Yes, they decrease the likelihood, but they do not reduce the risk to zero. This is from the Center for Disease Control Web Site:

The surest way to avoid transmission of sexually transmitted diseases is to abstain from sexual intercourse, or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and you know is uninfected.

For persons whose sexual behaviors place them at risk for STDs, correct and consistent use of the male latex condom can reduce the risk of STD transmission. However, no protective method is 100 percent effective, and condom use cannot guarantee absolute protection against any STD…

One Step Forward for a Catholic University

After recent controversies at Villanova and Notre Dame, it is good to see a small step in the right direction by a Catholic University. The Washington Post today reports that Georgetown University will drop the links to abortion services from its Women's Center webpage. Todd A.Olsen, vice-president for student affairs at Georgetown, stated in a letter to Patrick J. Reilly of the Cardinal Newman Society that the links would be removed and the university tried "to ensure that we provide a broad array of resources and services in a manner...consistent with our Catholic and Jesuit identity."

Even a small step forward should be welcomed and congratulated.

Iced Tea in a Blizzard

Karen Hall at Some Have Hats responded to a meme requiring six random revelations about herself. The one that caught my eye was “I would drink iced tea in a blizzard. In fact, I have.” I have much the same feeling, though it isn’t shared by too many here in NORTHERN Virginia. My family’s roots are in Texas and Louisiana and I have spent much of my adult life living in the southeastern United States. Iced tea is a staple of life. Now, I prefer mine unsweetened and garnished with a sprig of fresh mint. My heart does skip a beat when the waitress asks me “sweetened or unsweetened” when I order my tea because I know I have returned to the promised land where that brewed elixir over ice is appreciated.

A couple of decades ago or so, I was newly married. I left my comfort zone in Dallas and followed my husband to Upper Peninsula Michigan. I had much to learn about life in a northern clime. My husband tasked me with buying a snow blower. Excuse me! I had never heard of such a contraption an…

A Catholic Perspective on Professional Sports

Please check out Christus Vincit for a Catholic perspective on baseball as well as other professional sports. Too funny!
(H/T to argent for the link)

Soccer Mom that I am I couldn't help but notice that the MLS was left out of this exercise. Here are the MLS standings:

Eastern Conference Standings

Finn’s Kansas City Wizards (3-0-0)
McCarrick’s DC United (2-0-1)
O’Mallley’s New England Revolution (1-1-1)
Meyer’s New York Red Bulls (0-0-3)
George’s Chicago Fire (0-1-2)
Campbell’s Columbus Crew (0-2-1)

Western Conference Standings

Grahmann’s FC Dallas (2-0-1)
Chaput’s Colorado Rapid’s (1-1-1)
Mahony’s Los Angeles Galaxy (1-1-1)
DiNardo’s Houston Dynamo (1-2-0)
Mahony’s Chivas USA (1-2-0)
Nierderhaur’s Real Salt Lake (0-2-1)

Pray for teenagers and for their parents too!

Just eight days ago I asked readers to pray for young drivers. Well, at this morning’s Mass we learned that a 17-year-old young man in our community died last night when he ran his car into a tree. The full details have not been released but it is suspected that alcohol was a factor.

After Mass, while I waited for my youngest to complete his altar server duties, I prayed for this young man and especially for his family. As a mother of three teens, I identify with the grief and anguish this young man’s parents must be feeling right now. I then prayed even harder for my own children. I think back to my own high school years. Teetering on the edge of adulthood is such a precarious perch. I now realize why my mother seemed to be constantly praying when I was a teenager. I am certain it was her prayers and God’s grace that saw me through those turbulent times.

Parenting a teenager must be worth some extra credit points on the path to sainthood. It is a continual act of faith. You have to be…

Does fidelity to the Church compromise the intellect?

There is a wonderful series of articles on the topic Authority and Reason at Mirror of Justice. The gist of the debate is do we compromise our intellect if we accept Church authority? The most recent post by Michael Scaperlanda is brilliant. In spite of his professed humility, Professor Scaperlanda provides an eloquent defense of subordination of one’s own intellect to the Wisdom of the Church.

To quote Winnie the Pooh, “I am a bear of very little brain.” I am bounded by my own intellectual limitations, my education, my family, my culture, my biases, my preferences and desires (both ordered and disordered), my will, my profession (we are, I think, a profession of rationalizers), and this particular and very short moment in history in which I live my life. As a bear of very little brain, I must rely on the authority of others to help guide me through life, even (and maybe especially) life as a practicing intellectual.

For most of my life, I thought that I had placed my trust in the Ch…

Pope Benedict XVI, Teacher

Lots of discussion today about the one year anniversary of the election of Pope Benedict XVI. Amy Welborn has a very nice reflection.

I remember the death of Pope John Paul II as a real test of my faith. I was in college when he was elected. My faith had matured and blossomed under his papacy. He was the only pope my children had known. How could he be replaced? Then just when the anxiety would reach a peak an inner voice would say, “Hello, there. Where is your faith? No matter how charismatic, holy, and influential John Paul II was, he was still just a man. We are not the Catholic Church of John Paul II. We are the Catholic Church of Jesus Christ. Christ himself promised the Gates of Hell would not prevail against His Church.” So I had to trust. I reminded myself this Church had survived for 2000 years. It had enjoyed great popes and good popes and it had endured the not so good. I had Christ’s promise it would continue.

I was thrilled with the election of Cardinal Ratzinger because …

Did Lent Make A Difference?

Here we are on the Tuesday of the Octave of Easter. Lent is behind us and we are now free to enjoy the Alleluia of Easter! We joyfully proclaim the Gloria at Mass. Oh, it is so easy to revel in the Resurrection that Lent becomes a shadowy memory. I am once again free to indulge in a Starbucks coffee. The question is, did Lent change me? Am I different this Easter than I was last Easter because of Lent?

I hope I am changed. I think I am changed. I did take time to study and reflect on the Liturgy. My appreciation of the Triduum services was much deeper because of it. I am anxious for next year when I will try to take advantage of the Chrism Mass and a Tenebrae service that I was unable to attend this year.

I know I am not as changed as I wanted to be. I had really hoped to emerge from Lent with a new commitment to discipline of my mind, body, and soul. Okay, I am a little more disciplined in some things. But I still find it hard to get myself out the door and to daily Mass on time. Ho…

Villanova Controversy Continues

I have blogged and commented on blogs about the obligations of a Catholic University. Last week Amy Welborn wrote about a controversy regarding a pro-life memorial on the Villanova campus. At first it seemed that in spite of a few objections to the memorial to victims of abortion because it might “offend” non-Catholics on campus, the board of trustees was expected to approve the placement of the memorial statue. Well, such obviously Catholic behavior at a "Catholic" university is not to be. Read the most recent developments here.
I have sent my response to the Villanova administration:

Please note that it is very difficult to find a major Catholic university willing to proclaim itself in alignment with Catholic teachings. I cannot imagine any reason to hesitate to approve the Maternal Bond memorial for the Villanova Campus. As a Catholic parent of four children I will certainly be watching the actions of the board as an indicator of whether or not Villanova is a courageous C…

True Femininity

In today’s Gospel, Matthew recounts how Mary Magdalan and the Other Mary met the Risen Christ as they left the tomb. Jesus first revealed himself after the Resurrection to these two women. He charged these women with spreading the news to his disciples. Our parish priest spoke this morning of how this act enshrined the dignity of women. It was women who would first be the bearers of the news of the Resurrection and messengers of the Truth for mankind. Pope John Paul II understood the unique role of women when he spoke of the “feminine genius” in his Apostolic Letter MULIERIS DIGNITATEM. Yet today’s cultural view of feminism often seeks the opposite of true Christian femininity.

Naomi Schaefer Riley writes of this in Friday’s Wall Street Journal Opinion Journal. She asserts that today’s feminism is unnecessarily pushing women into dangerous situations. This is brought to the forefront with all the allegations and counter-allegations surrounding the Duke lacrosse team. I have no idea wha…

He is Risen! Alleluia! Alleluia!

One of several lovely hymns we sang at this morning's Easter Mass:

Be joyful, Mary, heav'nly queen,
Gaude, Maria:
Your Son who died was living seen,
Alleluia, Laetare, O Maria!

The Son you bore by heaven's grace,
Gaude, Maria:
Did all our guilt and sin efface,
Alleluia, Laetare, O Maria!

The Lord is risen from the dead,
Gaude, Maria:
He rose with might as he had said,
Alleluia, Laetare, O Maria!

Then pray to God, O Virgin fair,
Gaude, Maria:
That He our souls to heaven bear.
Alleluia! Laetare, O Maria!

He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! Alleluia!

They laid Jesus in a Tomb

Last night I watched the Passion of Christ. Not the Mel Gibson version. This was the parish high school youth group performing their annual Living Stations of the Cross. Imagine a dozen or so high school students devoting a huge chunk of their spring break to planning and rehearsing this reenactment of the Passion and Crucifixion of Jesus. Son #2 had the role of Jesus. Little Sister was part of the jeering crowd. (You know pretending to show contempt and disdain for her brother sure came easily to her!) As always, it was a very prayerful and moving presentation. The Stations ended with number XIV, Jesus is laid in the tomb. This is where it should end on Good Friday. Some are uncomfortable with leaving the Stations with Christ in the tomb. After all, the story doesn’t end there. How true. But our celebration of the Triduum doesn’t end there either. There is no closing blessing at the end of Holy Thursday’s Mass of the Lord’s Supper. That is because the Triduum is a single event th…

The Triduum has Begun

He is doing something right. I have mentioned several times on this blog that we have a new pastor. Since the arrival of our new pastor there have been some changes. We got rid of the OCP Music Issue and are now using the St. Michael’s hymnal. At least once per month we are using some Latin responses in the Novus Ordo. We now have confessions six days per week. We have a weekly Holy Hour with Exposition and Benediction.

I believe the fruits of these changes were visible last night. The first Mass of the Triduum was packed. I have never seen it so well attended. The parking lot could not hold all the vehicles of Mass attendees. The church was perhaps not as crowded as it will be Easter Sunday, but it was filled enough that latecomers had to sit in the balcony. And what a lovely service. All three of our priests concelebrated the Mass with our pastor as the primary celebrant. Six high school young men were altar servers. The music was beautiful. Clear voices with minimal instrumental …

White shoes on or after Easter

Thanks to Mama T at Summa Mammas for this interesting option for Easter footwear. I know it meets the criterion of white shoes on or after Easter, but--I don't think so.

One last Lenten Confession thought

Cardinal James Stafford, major penitentiary, gave a moving homily at a Holy Week penitential liturgy in St. Peter’s Basilica. In it he offered the following examination of conscience:

-- Do I turn from pride, envy, and ambition and follow Jesus' way of humility? The choice between pride and humility is made concrete by my attitude toward Scripture. Am I docile and open to the Word of God? Am I ready to be judged by it rather than to judge it myself? Do I spend a disproportionate amount of time in reading newspapers and journals, watching television and using the Internet in comparison with the time spent reading and meditating upon the sacred Scriptures?

-- Have I been lacking in poverty of spirit and thus have been unable to hallow the name of God among men? Have I placed my happiness in the possession of external goods? Have I encouraged those in doubt and error to follow what is true and good?

-- Have I been lacking in the meekness which prays that God's kingdom come and that…

Even Pro-Lifers shouldn't use the Mass as a form of protest

Gerald Augustinus has an interesting post about an incident last year involving Cardinal Mahony and pro-life demonstrators. My first reaction is very much like Gerald’s. I am outraged that a pro-abortion politician is being honored in Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral in Los Angeles. I am disgusted that openly pro-life young people were not welcomed. Cardinal Mahony’s open arms welcoming reception of rainbow sash protesters makes this even more unsavory.

However, after reflection, I don’t know that I can give the pro-life group a complete pass on their actions. I cannot tell from the news article if they were trying to enter the cathedral for a Mass or for a civil ceremony. No group should use the Mass for protest. There is no excuse for Cardinal Mahony to honor a pro-abortion politician at the cathedral. However, his poor judgment is not justification for compromising the sanctity of the Eucharist. It is scandalous and disgraceful to use the reception of Our Lord in Holy Communion fo…

Pray for Young Drivers!

Well child #3 just got her learner’s permit. She has actually been eligible to do this for nearly nine months, but we just never found time to sit in the DMV for hours. So far none of my children have been chomping at the bit to drive. I am very happy about that. Saves some on the insurance premiums and saves a bundle on the wear and tear to my nerves. When they are driving I am in a constant state of prayer. I can't count the number of Hail Mary's that have accomanied my children's driving excursions. It seems like the news reports a teenager killed on the roads at least once per month. As I leave my neighborhood I pass two roadside shrines along the suburban thoroughfare that mark the site of a fatal accident involving a teenage driver. Most of these accidents are single car crashes related to driver inexperience, high speed, and all too often alcohol.

The Washington DC Metro area is not a fun place to drive. A few months after I moved here, my dentist asked me if I was …

An Alms-giving Quandry

I know that during Lent we are supposed to engage in alms-giving and I have been trying to do so. However, if I am going to offer my money I want to know it will be used wisely. That is why I have such mixed feelings about all the solicitations for charity with little trinkets, note cards, address labels, or even shiny pennies. Part of me says if I make use of the gifts I should thank the group with a donation. However, I really don’t have time to investigate every one of these organizations and I am hesitant to just throw my money at anyone who asks. What do you do?

Outside My Circle of Orthodoxy

I get frustrated with wayward liturgies. I am enjoying my Lenten reading. (Letter and Spirit by Scott Hahn) I am pleased to see our parish paying attention to the Divine Mercy devotion. I am not excited about altar girls in the diocese and am relieved our pastor has decided not to expand our altar server corps to include girls. I am thrilled to see our new hymnal chock full of traditional hymns and Latin responses. I can share these sentiments with my Catholic blogging friends and the friends I see at daily Mass. However, when I leave my little circle of orthodoxy, my opinions are met by blank stares. Many of my Catholic friends aren’t convinced they need to show up at any Mass much less be concerned with the liturgical correctness of the Mass. They are still judging the Church by the standards of our culture instead of judging our culture by the standards of the Church.

Those of us who received the bulk of our catechesis after 1965 missed out on basic tenets of our Faith. Religion tu…

America's Worst Generation?

Curt Smith wrote in yesterday’s National Review Online that today’s generation of kids, in contrast to the Greatest Generation of World War II, may be America’s Worst Generation.

visit any mall to see the contrast. Teenagers jostle the elderly. Few boys open a door for girls. And girls are too busy dressing like an MTV Video "ho" to notice. Dialogue is a contact sport; English superfluous to profanity. What's the matter with kids? Gaucherie is their DNA. Recently I called the wife of a national pollster "ma'am"; she reacted like Dracula at the sign of the cross.

Another statement that caught my eye was

A University of California at Berkeley survey of middle-class children from age 5 to their early 20s says that discipline helps manners and mores. Raised right, you act right.

Did we really need a university study to tell us that?

If children behave like spoiled brats the blame lies squarely on the shoulders of their parents. Don’t blame “society”, the media, or…

April is National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month. David Lehman has a delightful piece in the Wall Street Journal Opinion Journal about the joys and benefits of memorizing verse.

There are in fact many ways to teach poetry. Possibly the best method is the most old-fashioned one: learning by rote. It may seem counterintuitive in the age of Google, but if the goal is to convey the pleasures of poetry, it's hard to do better than to memorize great poems and recite them aloud for the edification of others…I know, however, that the students, even the ones afflicted with stage fright, will ultimately enjoy the process and revel in the moment of recitation. And they will almost certainly learn more about a Shakespeare sonnet or an Emily Dickinson enigma by committing it to memory than by writing a paper analyzing the structure of the former or the characteristic use of dashes in the latter.

My mother-in-law is gifted with the appropriate poetic verse always on the tip of her tongue. My husband, while not as …

How Should I Approach Liturgical Abuses?

I’ve written about this before, but a couple of articles brought it back to mind. A few months ago my daughter and I happened upon a church in the diocese just south of our home diocese. We walked into a wide open auditorium room with folding chairs. There were no kneelers. Of note, this is not a temporary arrangement but the final configuration of the sanctuary. We entered through the central main entrance and found no holy water. There were no saints, no stations of the cross, no crucifix, and no visible tabernacle. In other words, it was completely void of any traditional Catholic imagery. The gathering congregation was quite noisy as they all chatted in the sanctuary. Suddenly the lights blinked twice. The room quieted and the entrance hymn and processional began. To my surprise, a digital screen behind the altar began to display “inspiring” landscapes. These views changed throughout the Mass. The Eucharist used “home baked bread” for the Blessed Sacrament. At the end of communion…

How Secular Can Notre Dame be, and Still be Catholic?

If you walk into my house and observe my family I hope you know a Catholic family lives here. Statues of saints nestle amongst the plants in the front flower beds. A crucifix hangs over the front door and in virtually every room. The periodicals scattered about include The National Catholic Register, Our Sunday Visitor, and The Magnificat. There is probably a rosary on one of the family room end tables. Open the kitchen cabinets and copies of the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy are pasted on the inside of the door. As we set the table to enjoy our plenty I want to remind us of the need to serve others. We will always say grace at meals. Dinnertime conversations will include news of the day and comments about what the Church thinks about the issues. You will find us at Mass every Sunday. No excuses. (Other than childbirth. Two of my kids were born on Sundays)

On the other hand, you will also see artwork that is not religious in nature. Our periodicals include the Washington Post

One more thing about Confession....

This is sort of a postscript to my first post today. Fr. Guy Selvester at Shouts in the Piazza offers a poignant perspective on Judas Iscariot. Judas Iscariot’s great sin was not in his betrayal of Jesus. It was his failure to repent and ask for God’s Mercy. Isn’t that the most liberating thought? No sin or failure is too big for Christ’s Divine Mercy. All we have to do is repent and ask. It almost makes me giddy to think about it.

Well, if you are all geared up for confession but need a refresher course, take a look at the National Catholic Register online resources. Fr. Jim Tucker at Dappled Things also has some helpful information.

So what are you waiting for? Get in line. Father has an unlimited supply of Christ’s Mercy and it is yours for the asking.

Ten Days until Easter. Time to 'fess up!

Today is April 6. Ten more days until Easter. Have you been to confession yet? If not, it is time to get going! Here is a powerful reflection on one person’s experience with the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Recently, I received the Sacrament of Reconciliation from our new pastor. He has been in the parish for about nine months, but until now but I had always found myself confessing to one of the parochial vicars. Our pastor has brought some changes to the parish that I heartily endorse. As with all change it has ruffled some feathers, but I really believe the parish will be stronger for it. His demeanor has been a bit scolding sometimes so when I found myself in his line for confession I approached with a bit of trepidation. Yet, when I found myself in the confessional I was struck with the joy and love he exuded as he administered the Sacrament. He did not deny or minimize my failings, but he responded with compassion and mercy. I truly felt Christ’s Divine Mercy. I realized this ma…

The Court has Spoken: Liturgical Music Matters!

There is so much being written about the Catholic Church’s interaction with civil authorities. The Catholic League is suing San Francisco for violation of the First Amendment because the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a resolution condemning the Vatican. Of course this is the same city that condemned a gathering of evangelical Christian teenagers as disgusting. Catholic Charities in Boston has stopped doing adoptions because the state insists they place children with homosexual couples. State agencies are pressuring Catholic hospitals to provide services that are inconsistent with Catholic teachings. The list goes on and on.

Rick Garnett at Mirror of Justice writes of a case where the courts have said interference in Church affairs is not within their jurisdiction. It seems a Mr. Tomic was the music director at a Catholic Church in Peoria, IL. There was a dispute with the Bishop’s assistant over music selection. Mr. Tomic was fired. His replacement was a younger person. Mr.…

Stay-at-home-moms a drain on society?

Oh the Dutch! This is the society that has been the world’s leading proponent of euthanasia. It is bringing us the Groningen Protocols to legalize killing seriously ill babies and disabled adults. Now it is going after stay-at-home-moms. Dominico Bettinelli’s blog points out a Dutch politician who wants to penalize women with college degrees who want to stay home with their children because they are "destroying capital". Sharon Dijksma, a Dutch member of Parliament, proposes a substantial financial penalty for women choosing not to enter the work force. This is motivated in the Netherlands by the state funded education system. The state does not think it has gotten its money’s worth from these women it educated. However, a more serious underlying premise of this proposal is that women who stay at home to care for their children offer no societal benefit. What greater “capital” is there for a society than its future generations? Does the Dutch Labour Party really believe ra…

Soccer Parenting Primer: The Early Years

Ah, soccer. The spring season began this past weekend. The sweet sounds of soccer cleats slapping the leather ball and the referee’s whistle fill the air. I have been watching kids play soccer for nearly 15 years. All my children have played soccer at various levels. It is a wonderful game with so many positive lessons for children. Volumes are written about teaching children soccer. However, not nearly enough is written to instruct parents about being soccer parents. Writer that I am, I cannot tolerate this void. Therefore, I will expend a few words on the topic of soccer parenting.

The Early Years

Your child may really be an athletic prodigy. However, as you lace up his or her cleats, please dispel yourself of any notion that today’s game for five-year-olds has any bearing on his future college scholarships or professional soccer career. The purpose of these five-year-olds playing soccer is to run around on the field and have a blast. In the process they will learn the very basic pri…

Catholic Guilt

Catholic Guilt. That phrase gets thrown about a lot. Sometimes in jest. Sometimes in a pejorative tone. What does it really mean? Catholics are called to measure every aspect of our lives against an absolute standard of right and wrong. We are encouraged to make an examination of conscience daily. We must own up to the times we have fallen short of this standard. We confess them in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, receive God’s forgiveness and try again.

Our standard of right and wrong is absolute. However, life often comes at us in shades of gray. Catholic Guilt is that twinge of discomfort we feel when our actions fall in the gray zone. It is the sense that we need to think again and be sure we are doing the right thing.

I just hung up the phone from another call soliciting a charitable donation. My mailbox is full of requests for money to feed hungry children. I can’t take care of them all. But am I doing enough? That is the question Catholic Guilt makes me ask.

Today’s Gospel readi…

Loud Peeps over Easter

In St. Paul, Minnesota a secretary at city hall decorated the City Hall lobby with a stuffed bunny and colored eggs and a sign that said “Happy Easter”. This was done at her expense. No city funds were used. Tyrone Terrill, the city’s human rights director had the display removed for fear of offending non-Christians. (Do you think he has plans to address the “offensive” name of his city as well?) Well, the jocular people of St. Paul have responded by covering the base of a City Hall landmark statue, the Vision of Peace, with boxes of those sugar rush inducing marshmallow chicks and bunnies known as Peeps. A small laminated sign renames the statue the “Vision of Peeps”.

In my own neck of the woods, the Fairfax County park authority is having numerous events to celebrate an unnamed spring holiday. Multiple spring egg hunts and visits by the Bunny have been scheduled. In fact, Lake Accotink Park isn’t even hiding eggs. They are sponsoring a “bone hunt”. Doesn’t that sound like fun? As …