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Showing posts from September, 2006

This is not just a Catholic issue

Both Amy Welborn and Dominico Bettinelli have been covering the scandal in Delray Florida where two priests are alleged to have misappropriated millions of dollars. I have nothing to add to the news coverage but I do find the comments at both of these blogs interesting. Many attribute this corruption to the hierarchical structure of the Catholic Church or to ineffectual parish councils. Others blame a system that allows priests to stay in one place too long. There are intimations about a conspiracy among Irish priests to allow for such criminal activity.

Perhaps before we allow our vision to become too focused on ourselves, we should read this article by Laura Griffin in the Dallas Morning News.

Houses of worship by nature are built on trust, intended as places of God and good things. For that reason, they have increasingly become targets for people willing to abuse that trust by dipping into the coffers for themselves.

Ms Griffin goes on to detail a series of Protestant and Jewish worsh…

Another step in a new career

Can I say “writer” without feeling guilty now?

Since I retired from the active practice of clinical medicine, I have been tentatively trying to redefine myself as a writer. I have had moderate success with lots of editorial pieces published in various newspapers including both the Washington Post and the Washington Times. I do get paid occasionally for book reviews and I did have two essays included in Chicken Soup for the Military Wife’s Soul. However, now I have a regular gig.

I just received my advance copy of the October/November issue of True Girl Magazine. I have a column in this issue and am listed as the health editor. I will be a regular columnist in future issues to address health concerns of teenage girls.

True Girl Magazine is aimed at Catholic girls ages 12-19. It is full of fashion, fun and faith. Several of the articles are written by teens. All the pictures of girls are real teens wearing modest clothing. Information about Catholic devotions and saints are included. This…

Excellent Leadership by our Bishop

This week’s Arlington Catholic Herald contains a homily by Bishop Paul Loverde on unity within the Church. It was given at the Diocesan’s monthly Respect Life Mass. This is an excellent example of episcopal leadership with regards to life issues so do read the whole thing. However, the following words deserve special attention.

A similar challenge faces us today, namely, to foster true unity within the Church we love so dearly. The Church’s unity is at stake; not all those who call themselves Catholic accept and obey the Church’s authentic teachings, especially in the arena of moral living. We see clear evidence of this before us every day. For example, many legislators, at both the congressional and state levels, call themselves Catholic, but do not support legislation which would protect and defend human life from conception to natural death. They neglect, ignore and sometimes oppose the absolute truth that all human life is sacred from conception to natural death. Another example, …

Me...A Brainwashed Woman?

Once again the Richmond Catholic blog has piqued my interest. A thread not too long ago dealt with the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. While the thread was contaminated by a blog troll, it did offer some interesting insights. Now there is a discussion about a survey going out to the women of the diocese. The purpose is to see if the diocese is meeting the needs of its women. It is being administered by the Richmond Diocese Women’s Commission. This is the cause of the consternation since the members of this committee are purported to be dissidents supporting women’s ordination. Indeed the Women’s Commission web site includes a link to Future Church, a group known for its advocacy for women’s ordination. I also note the group makes prominent reference to St. Mary Magdala and asserts her leadership role in the early church has been suppressed by the Church’s male hierarchy. The Women’s Commission provides instructions for offering “spirituality” groups for women. I always get a…

CCD Week Three: What's Working

Our third CCD class was this evening. I wrote about the first week here. I must report that my door prize each week is really working well. Every week I give a door prize (a candy bar with a holy card). The children get one more chance to win if they do their homework or know the saint of the day. However, they get five extra chances if their parents write one or two sentences indicating something they learned by reviewing their child’s lesson. Last week I only had about three parents write a note. This week I had six parents indicate they had learned something. I only have twelve children in my class so this is great participation by parents as far as I am concerned.

We were studying the composition of the Bible last week. For homework they had to fill out a worksheet and list all the books of the Old Testament and all the books of the New Testament. One student came in very confused because her Bible only had forty books in the Old Testament and the worksheet had forty-six spaces. I…

Keeping Your Kids Catholic: Chapter Two

See the discussion of Chapter One here.

Chapter Two: Why Kids Leave the Church

This chapter consists of three essays:

Why Teens Stop Going to Mass by William J. O'Malley, S.J.

Are We Reaching Our Youth by Mark Berchem

Why Young Catholics Leave, and What Parents Can Do About It by Bert Ghezzi

For Discussion:

1. Why do young people stop attending Mass? How do parents affect this choice?

All three essays in Chapter Two address this question. The broad answer is young people stop attending Mass because they have never internalized their faith. It is Mom’s Faith, or Dad’s Faith, or Grandmother’s Faith. Why don’t they take ownership of their Faith? Perhaps it is because they have never seen their parents take ownership of their faith? Fr. O’Malley writes:

If parents’ attendance at Mass seems to be a perfunctory and joyless fulfillment of form, if God is never spoken of in the home as a person with whom the parents have a real relationship, the teenager assumes that, even for the parents, the …

Back to School Night

Schools in Northern Virginia don’t begin until after Labor Day so we are just now getting into Back to School Night season. My turn was last night. I got the opportunity to walk through my seventh grade son’s schedule and spend a whole ten minutes with each teacher. It really isn’t very enlightening but it does put a face with the name of each teacher. My presence also provides extra credit points for his math grade.

Probably because this is my fourth time as a seventh grade parent I am feeling pretty relaxed. I know the drill. The biggest factor right now is teaching my son organizational skills. Each child has an assignment planner in elementary school, but the teacher tells the children exactly what to write in it. In middle school, the student must decide for himself what needs to be written in the planner. There are lots of helps including school web sites that keep a log of assignments, but it is still up to each individual student to take care of himself. Time management is alwa…

Mathematical Musings

Today’s Washington Post has an article about a food pantry in the nation’s wealthiest county, Loudoun County, in Virginia. It is a worthy topic to explore how amid the very wealthy there are those who are struggling to survive. I guess journalism majors don’t take much math. Or maybe my family is just a bunch of math geeks. In any case we were all embarrassed for the writer when we read the following statement in the Post:

Its median family income is more than $98,000 a year. Half of the county’s households make even more.

Uh, yes. That is what a median means:

The middle number in a given sequence of numbers, taken as the average of the two middle numbers when the sequence has an even number of numbers: 4 is the median of 1, 3, 4, 8, 9.

Even my seventh grader recognized that by definition half of the county’s households have an income above the median. The other half are below. And not everyone with an income below the median is frequenting the food pantry.

What the writer was really tr…

Novena to St. Michael the Archangel for the Safety of Pope Benedict XVI

Thanks to Stella Borealis Catholic Roundtable for the following prayer:

Novena to St Michael the Archangel for the Personal Safety of Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI.

Glorious Saint Michael,
guardian and defender
of the Church of Jesus Christ,
come to the assistance of His followers,
against whom the powers of hell are unchained.

Guard with special care our Holy Father,
the Pope, and our bishops, priests,
all our religious and lay people,
and especially the children.

Saint Michael,
watch over us during life,
defend us against the assaults of the demon,
and assist us especially at the hour of death.

Help us achieve the happiness
of beholding God face to face
for all eternity.

Saint Michael,
intercede for me with God
in all my necessities,

The personal safety of Our Holy Father,
Pope Benedict XVI, particularly on his
planned trip to Turkey.

Obtain for me a favourable outcome
in the matter I recommend to you.
Mighty prince of the heavenly host,
and victor over rebellious spirits,
remember me for …

Bible at the'Bou

I wrote a few weeks ago about our parish youth ministry summer activity, Mass and McDonalds. This week the diocesan newspaper, the Arlington Catholic Herald, highlights another of our parish high school programs, Bible at the ‘Bou. I am just so proud of our parish youth ministry. Keep up the good work, guys! You are in my prayers.

A Very Timely Prayer

Argent has this prayer from St. Pope Leo XIII on her site. It is so perfect for these times that I had to offer it as well.

Pope Leo XIII's Prayer of Consecration for the Human Race

Most sweet Jesus, Redeemer of the human race, look down upon us humbly prostrate before Your altar. We are Yours, and Yours we wish to be; but, to be more surely united with You, behold each one of us freely consecrates himself today to Your Most Sacred Heart. Many indeed have never known You; many too, despising Your precepts, have rejected You. Have mercy on them all, most merciful Jesus, and draw them to Your Sacred Heart.

You are King, O Lord, not only of the faithful who have never forsaken You, but also of the prodigal children who have abandoned You; grant that they may quickly return to their Father's house lest they die of wretchedness and hunger.

You are King of those who are deceived by erroneous opinions, or whom discord keeps aloof; call them back to the harbor of truth and unity of faith,…

Keeping Your Kids Catholic: Chapter One

Welcome to our first discussion of the book, Keeping Your Kids Catholic by Bert Ghezzi. Below are my thoughts on the first chapter. Feel free to add your own ideas in the comments box. If you want to offer your thoughts on your own blog, just link to your blog in the comment box.

The first chapter of Keeping Your Kids Catholic is a single essay by Dolores Curran. The book is nearly twenty years old so some of the phrasing like “We are the Church” sets my teeth on edge. Also, Ms Curran's more recent writing has veered off into a very feminist vein making her a darling of the likes of Sr. Joan Chittister so I wouldn't seek her out as a current advisor. Yet the gist of her commentary in the book is as true now as it was twenty years ago: “Teaching religion is parents’ business and must begin in the home.”

1. What obstacles do parents face in deciding to introduce their kids to the faith?

I think the way that question is phrased gives the first clue to the “obstacles”. If Faith is v…

One More Thing...

I was going to write something substantial on the brouhaha over Pope Benedict’s words calling for a both Faith and Reason to enter into inter-culture dialogues. However, I am just too weary of the whole thing. Wesley Pruden in today’s Washington Times sums up my thoughts:

Benedict reminds his hysterical critics that he merely quoted the Byzantine emperor, Manuel II Palaeologus, much as he might have cited Hitler, Stalin or even Godzilla: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and then you shall find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith that he preached." He did not say, as some of the Muslim hysterics are saying he said, that Mohammed was evil. Even the emperor, however much he might have thought it, did not say that. It was the spreading of the faith by the sword that is evil. Who but a crazed jihadist would argue with that? "Faith" by the sword is an oxymoron, anyway, since faith, like love, is embraced only…

Priestly Podcasts

One of our priests has his own web site up and running. It includes podcasts of his sermons. Fr. Searby is a very dynamic priest and very influential with our youth. He encouraged parents to tell their children away from home at college about his web site in an effort to keep these young people connected to the Faith. I thought I would pass along Fr. Searby's web site since I have heard recently that like me many of my readers have recently sent their children off to college. In addition to the podcasts, Fr. Searby has a section of his site dedicated to supporting high school and college aged youth in their pursuit of virtue.

I Must Not Hate

Pictures like these are all over the internet. Some are saying Pope Benedict XVI made a grave mistake to make comments that would provoke such a violent response. I disagree. The Pope is not a politician. He is the Vicar of Christ. He is bound to speak the truth. If the truth causes turmoil, then so be it.

Also, most of those protesting have not read the full text of the Pope’s remarks. They are reacting to what someone told them the Pope said. In fact, I would be surprised if most of the Mainstream Media who are writing the reports have read the complete version of the Pope’s address. It is a very sophisticated scholarly address. One needs a working knowledge of European history to understand the references to the now infamous Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus. Of course, Pope Benedict was not speaking to a class of twelve-year-olds. He was speaking to a gathering of scholars in a university setting. His audience had the background necessary to appreciate the historical reference…

Rush Hour Examination of Conscience

Yesterday morning it was raining steadily here in Northern Virginia. My children left for the bus stop as per usual. I was just getting ready to brew my coffee and settle in with some reading when the phone rang. It was my daughter calling from the bus stop. The bus had not arrived and it was now only thirty minutes until school started. Okay, coffee would have to wait. I threw on a pair of jeans and drove to the bus stop. I picked up my own children plus one and headed out into the traffic.

Now D.C. suburban traffic is miserable on any morning, but make it a rainy morning and it is worthy of redemptive suffering. Add to this several hundred teenage drivers headed towards the high school with me and it qualifies as one of the circles of Hell. As I was creeping through an intersection there was an oncoming car trying to make a U-turn. I stopped to let him proceed. Before I could clear the intersection and follow this car the light changed. A truck came barreling through the intersectio…

I think I understand them a little better now

Okay, now I think I am starting to understand. I participate fairly regularly in the discussions on the Richmond Catholic blog site. Though this isn’t my home diocese, I do visit pretty frequently. This diocese is home to many “innovative” liturgies. Tabernacles are often out of sight (and out of mind). It is common to see a cross without a corpus. The language of the liturgy is often altered to avoid using male pronouns for God. (God’s rather than His) The most recent discussion has degenerated a bit, but has come down to talking about the True Presence of Christ.

There is a contingent of commentators who see no difference between Christ’s presence whenever two or three are gathered in His name and the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Their comments run like this:

I am shocked that you believe adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is MORE important than caring for God's people. I believe they are equal. Aren't we supposed to see Christ in each other. Disregard or give les…

CCD Week One

I think Pope Benedict XVI must be reading our CCD book. His lecture at the University of Regensburg discussed the relation between faith and reason. Wouldn’t you know that is the first lesson of seventh grade CCD as well. Don’t worry. I didn’t try and duplicate the Holy Father’s dissertation. We are using the Faith and Life series from Ignatius Press. I really like it. The teacher’s manual is very user friendly and there are lots of references to the Catechism to back up the lesson. The end of each chapter has a series of questions and answers to solidify the important points of the chapter. For example from Chapter 1:

Q.1 Using reason can man know with certainty that there is a God?
Yes, using reason man can know with certainty that there is a God, on the basis of his works (CCC 50)

Q. 2 Can man understand God’s plan through reason alone?
No, man cannot understand God’s plan through reason alne. Man must also rely upon faith and God’s revelation (CCC 50)

Regular readers know that I am b…

This Mother Needs Prayers

Stacy Dow, a young British single mom, is seeking compensation from the British National Health Service because her five-year-old daughter is alive.

Five years ago, at the age of 16, Miss Dow discovered she was pregnant. After much soul-searching and fearing she could not cope with premature motherhood, she went to Perth Royal Infirmary for an abortion.

But seven weeks from term, she was told that one of the foetuses had survived the abortion and in August 2001 she gave birth to a baby daughter, Jayde.

Cash-strapped and unemployed, Miss Dow hoped the £250,000 compensation would help her to raise the child, now aged five. But last week at Perth Sheriff Court, Sheriff Michael Fletcher rejected the bid against Tayside University Hospitals NHS Trust, saying patients could not expect a legally binding contract with their doctor.

Where to begin? Does Miss. Dow realize what her actions are saying to her daughter? “I wanted you dead. I paid someone to kill you. They didn’t do it, so now I am stu…

Pope Benedict's Message to Parents and Teachers

Amy Welborn has a translation from German into English of a homily given by Pope Benedict XVI on September 10 at Vespers in the Munich Cathedral. First Communicants, parents, and teachers were in attendance.

Dear parents! I want to heartily invite you to help your children believe and to accompany them on the way to Communion, which continues on after First Communion, on their way to Jesus and with Jesus.

Please, go to church with your children for the Sunday Eucharist. You will see: This is no wasted time that holds the family together properly and gives it a focus. The Sunday becomes more beautiful, the whole week becomes more beautiful, if you attend God's service (Mass) together.

And please, also pray together at home: at meals, before going to sleep. Praying not only leads us to God but also to one another. It is a force of peace and of joy. Life within the family becomes more special and of greater importance when God is there and His presence is experienced, lived in prayer.


Remembering and Praying

This day cannot pass without acknowledging the horrible evil that befell our country five years ago. I cannot view the images without feeling like I was punched in the gut, so I tend to avoid them. Yet, I cannot avoid or deny the reality of that day. The barbarous, heinous acts of September 11, 2001 were acts of unadulterated evil. Their perpetrators were the embodiment of evil.

Some object to the title “War on Terrorism” when we speak of our country’s struggle to combat those who support such atrocities. I am really not worried about what we name our cause. We are not seeking a “clash of civilizations”. We are engaging in a clash for civilization. A civilized society cannot survive when such evil is tolerated.

For the victims of 9/11 I pray:

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord. And let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

In remembrance of this day I pray:

St. Michael the Archangel
Deliver us in battle thi…

Called to be a Domestic Church

Mirror of Justice offers a transcript of Archbishop’s Wuerl’s homily at Catholic University of America. He celebrated Mass to mark the beginning of the school year at CUA. These words need to be spoken on every Catholic college campus.

We should not be surprised if life on this campus is different than what we would experience on some other university and college campuses. By definition, The Catholic University of America family is committed to the exploration of human intellectual advancement precisely out of a lived tradition rooted in the word of God — the wisdom of God. Thus as a university family, we are committed to values and the recognition of the place of virtue in our lives as we develop and face the challenge of personal individual choices and decisions.

By its very definition, the Church will always be countercultural. The beginnings of the kingdom of God breaking into this world will necessarily be in contrast with the wisdom and values of the world. What the living traditi…

Southern Belles

The Kitchen Madonna is highlighting a book that sounds like such a hoot! Being Dead is no Excuse: The Official Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral, by Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hayes. Now I am not what you would consider a Southern Belle. I definitely have southern roots. I expect iced tea to be served all year round. I prefer unsweetened tea, but I love to hear sweet tea offered. All soft drinks are referred to as Coke. Grits mixed in with my scrambled eggs and hot fluffy biscuits is a breakfast made in heaven. I do not wear white shoes after Labor Day or before Easter. Children saying “Yes, ma’am” and “yes, sir” is music to my ears. So I can claim a few Southern inclinations, but I am definitely not “Junior League” (if you don’t understand the Junior League reference, read Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood!)

I did, however, marry into a family of absolutely lovely Southern Belles. My first clue of this came soon after our wedding. After our wedding I dutif…

Such a Tyrant!

I mentioned before the Dueling Blogs of Richmond. I really enjoy the Richmond Catholic blog. I respect that it thoughtfully seeks solutions to Diocesan issues rather than just takes pot shots at those who disagree. The Other Blog is not updated regularly and seems to be filled with a lot more ad hominem attacks. I only read it if I am directed there by someone else’s comment or blog. Occasionally someone from The Other Blog joins the comments at the Richmond Catholic blog. Recently, the discussion was about maintaining a “diverse community of believers”. I commented that diversity cannot extend to Church teachings. We are one holy, Catholic and apostolic Church. Being Catholic means accepting Church authority. I was very surprised then when someone who disagreed with me surmised that I must be a real tyrant with my children.

Well, my response is to plead guilty. Oh, I am a tyrant! The kids go to Mass every Sunday. From the time they were small we have said family prayers. Poor thing…

Do we need Catholic Schools?

Both Dom Bettinelli and Amy Welborn comment on the elaborate and expensive renovations going on at Catholic high schools in the Boston area. Both wonder if these schools are really focusing on the correct mission for a Catholic school.

Before I say anything else, I first must say I graduated from Bishop Kelley Catholic High School and had a wonderful experience. I believe that experience was crucial to my holding on to my Faith through my early adult years. My older children have attended Catholic schools when they were available and had very good experiences. Still, my enthusiasm for Catholic schools has waned considerably in recent years.

Since moving to Northern Virginia, I have seen that the Catholic High Schools are prohibitively expensive. They seem no different than a secular private prep school. The parish grade schools are interesting. I see our parish pouring huge sums of money into a building project for the school. Yet I rarely if ever see the school reaching out to the pari…


This morning I was catching up on Gerald Augustinus’ blog. One thread had a particularly disturbing comment by “Elizabeth”:

Yesterday I was unfortunate enough to sit through a Mass by a Grumbleton wannabe. I'm sure this priest eats up everything Grumbleton has every written or said.

(Father) Xyz began the Mass with:

“For those of you unfortunate enough to know me, I am Xyz
For those who are fortunate to not know me, you will soon find out why.”

For the penitential rite:

“We gather to show our gratitude to God. Let us think of what we are grateful for.”

During the homily the priest told the congregants:
• ”the Church teaching about women not being ordained is stupid. The Church is saying they (women) are unclean.”
• “homosexuals who want to make love to each other are not welcome in the Church, this is stupid.”
• “it doesn’t matter what form of dress you wear to Mass, shorts and flip-flops are fine”
He lifted his alb, (no chasuble), to show he had on shorts.

• “Anyone who any of this bothers i…

School Daze

Summer is officially over. The yellow school bus just picked up my twelve-year-old and sixteen-year-old. Big Sister is excited. She is now an upper classman. However, she is also grimly aware of the academic grind that begins today. In such a giant school there is very little room for innovation and creativity. There is a lot of pressure to perform and meet the test norms. This is the last year for resume enhancement before sending off the college applications. This is not a criticism. It is a wistful acquiescence to the reality of the situation. Her education will be adequate in most areas and really good in a few.

Little Brother is so nervous. Like his oldest brother, he is on the slower end of the growth curve. Everything and everyone looks really huge to him. He sat down with his big sister and they plotted his routes through the ever-changing maze of school hallways. I say ever-changing because the school is undergoing huge renovations. When it was first built it fell victim to t…

The Sacraments as Missionary Work

Amy Welborn has a translation of Pope Benedicts remarks to a group of parish priests from the Diocese of Albano. I really love what he says about the priest’s duty with regards to the sacrament of Baptism:

In the parish, I would say that we have three fundamental tasks which arise from the nature of the Church and of the priestly ministry. The first is the sacramental service. I would say that Baptism, preparing for it and the task of giving continuity to obligations taken on at Baptism, already brings us in contact even with those who do not fully believe. It is not a task so much to preserve Christianity, but a challenging encounter with people who probably go to Church rarely.

And so, the task of preparing for Baptism - opening up the souls of the parents, relatives and godparents to the reality of Baptism - already can and should be a missionary commitment that goes beyond the confines of those who are already 'faithful.'

In preparing our parishioners for Baptism, we must mak…

Lost and Found

Today was the school orientation day for my rising seventh grader. He will be attending middle school for the first time. Actually he will be attending a “secondary school”. This four-thousand student beheamouth of an educational institution houses seventh through twelfth grades. Seventh and eighth graders are considered middle schoolers. My son and his neighborhood friend were going to ride the bus. It was pouring down rain as Ernesto’s remnants eased through Virginia. I sat in the minivan with them at the bus stop, waiting and waiting. When we could wait no longer without risking their being late I drove them into school. I chalked it up to a new school year transportation snafu.

The boys were going to ride the bus home. The orientation was over at 11:20 this morning so around noon with the rain still beating down I drove back to the bus stop to give them a lift home. I waited and I waited. By about 12:30 I was beginning to get a little concerned. I called the school. Whoever answer…