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Showing posts from November, 2006

Do we need pretty churches?

Why do we need pretty churches? A discussion on Richmond Catholic has digressed a bit from the placement of tabernacles to the general need for Catholic iconography in churches. Consider this comment:

I don't agree about the need for churches with icons. I grew up in a parish where we had Sunday Mass in the school auditorium. We had a movable altar and I never heard anyone comment that they did't feel like they were in the presence of the Lord during Mass. The parish church was several blocks away from the school. I attended Mass on a cruise ship...converted movie theater....I felt the presence of the Lord. What about Mass being said on battlefields and on battleships? Yes, I love all the icons, but it is ambience, not essence.

As I mentioned in the comment box, we must distinguish between times when Catholic symbols are absent out of necessity and when they are absent by choice. I frequently attend Mass at St. Raymond of Penafort parish on Saturday evenings. They celebrate Mass…

Feeling like Peter

I am feeling a bit like Peter. You remember how he tried to tell Jesus not to make the trip to Jerusalem? Part of me is telling Pope Benedict XVI to stay home. Why do you want to go to Turkey? There are some not-so-nice people there who really don’t like you. But I don’t want to be a stumbling block to the will of the Holy Spirit. If Pope Benedict feels called to go to Turkey, I will trust in Divine Providence.

The Vatican has a very nice summary of the goals of this trip. This journey is meant to be pastoral, ecumenical, and an opportunity for interreligious dialogue.

It is significant that the Holy Father’s first journey to a predominantly Muslim country begins in the very land from which Abraham, the common patriarch of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, undertook his journey of faith in God. It was from Harran, a village in present-day Turkey, that he set out in a spirit of total dependence upon God, trusting solely in the word that had been revealed to him.

The renewed memory of thes…

Rin Tin Tin Grin

As I watched a little bit of college football this weekend I kept seeing a commercial for an upcoming “news” story. It started out with a description of “your baby” having an underbite that caused eating problems. But it is fixable. For around $1200 “your baby” will be playing and eating normally. The catch: “your baby” is a dog. The fix is braces.

We are truly a very wealthy society that we can now put braces on our poodles. I usually don’t like to criticize how people spend their discretionary income. But orthodontia for the dogs seems a bit much. Perhaps my years of practicing medicine makes me especially sensitive to anything that looks like the squandering of our medical resources. Of course, it may also be that my youngest gets his braces this Friday. Having already been through the ordeal of braces with two older children I know this is a long-term commitment of time, care, and money. I just can’t justify making this same investment for a dog. Don’t expect to see any Rin Tin Ti…

Pray for the Pope!

The Knights of Columbus ask that all Catholics pray each day for the Pope as he journeys to Turkey. The following prayer was composed by Bishop William E. Lori, supreme chaplain of the Knights of Columbus.

Heavenly Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name, we humbly ask that you sustain, inspire, and protect your servant, Pope Benedict XVI, as he goes on pilgrimage to Turkey – a land to which St. Paul brought the Gospel of your Son; a land where once the Mother of your Son, the Seat of Wisdom, dwelt; a land where faith in your Son’s true divinity was definitively professed. Bless our Holy Father, who comes as a messenger of truth and love to all people of faith and good will dwelling in this land so rich in history. In the power of the Holy Spirit, may this visit of the Holy Father bring about deeper ties of understanding, cooperation, and peace among Roman Catholics, the Orthodox, and those who profess Islam. May the prayers and events of these historic day…

Rice 31, SMU 27

Rice 31, SMU 27

Perhaps not as significant to the national college football scene as the Texas A&M win I mentioned below, but this is a big game to my beloved Rice Owls. This seven win season gives Rice its first bowl bid since 1961. My freshman at Rice has seen nearly as many football victories at Rice during his first year as my husband and I saw in our four years at Rice.

Go Owls!

Texas A&M 12, Texas 7

Texas A & M 12, Texas 7

I didn’t get my oldest home for Thanksgiving. He had an important appointment in Austin. Even if I didn’t get to have my oldest home, I did enjoy the game. I do wish the television coverage had included the Corps of Cadets marching in. Of course, recognizing my son would be easy.


He’s the one with the really short hair.

The Menu

I don’t experiment too much with our turkey dinner menu, but it has evolved over the years. Cooking the turkey is the easy part. Getting all the side dishes ready so everything is done together is the challenge.

Of course we are eating turkey. The first Thanksgiving dinner I ever cooked was during my first year of marriage. I had my Doubleday Cookbook. I looked up “how to cook a turkey”, followed the directions, and ended up with a picture perfect roasted bird. I used the beer-and-butter basted recipe. Since we aren’t beer drinkers around here the beer for the turkey was always a special purchase. For the last few years I have just used sherry or another wine I have on hand and it has worked fine.

I make dressing—not stuffing. And it is made out of cornbread, not white bread. This recipe has evolved from my Aunt Vee’s recipe. The key here is to have a well-seasoned turkey broth made from the turkey neck and giblets. I do not chop up and include the liver and gizzard in the dressing. My …

Parenting with Love

You must read this essay. Simon Barnes, the chief sports writer for the Times, writes a remarkable, love-filled account of his life with Eddie, his son with Down's syndrome:

Some bits are hard, some bits are easy, some bits are fun, some bits are a frightful bore. That’s true of life with Eddie, it’s also true of life with Joe. But you don’t even begin to break it up into categories: it is the one endless, complex business of being a parent. You don’t go into parenthood to make sure that the benefits outweigh the deficits: you go into it out of — brace yourself but no other word will do — love.

Parenthood is not really about the traditional round-robin Christmas letter: Jasper is school captain and is having trials for Middlesex at both cricket and rugby and played Hamlet in the school play of the same name, while Oxford and Cambridge have both offered scholarships. He has just passed grade ten on the cello. Parenthood is not about perfection, it’s much more interesting than that: i…

Bless Us O Lord....

As usual, Jen at “Et tu, Jen” asks a question that makes me think.

Why is it so firmly embedded in Christian culture to pray before eating but not before receiving other life-sustaining gifts?

I know that I am very uncomfortable if I sit down to a meal with others and we do not say grace. Now I will not say that if I am eating alone I always say grace, but definitely if I am eating with someone else it feels awkward to dig in unless I have given thanks. Thirty years ago when I was just getting to know the man who would someday be my husband, I invited him over for dinner. As the two of us sat down at the kitchen table we hesitated and squirmed a bit. I realized he didn’t feel right eating without saying grace either. We bowed our heads, recited “Bless Us O Lord…” and enjoyed the first of many meals together. My mother-in-law used grace as a screening tool for her children’s dinner guests. She would invite them to say grace. If they began “Bless Us O Lord” she knew they were Catholic. So…

Maybe it Was Just a Botched Joke?

The New York Times interview with the presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, is making the rounds of the blogosphere. This quote in particular is garnering attention:

How many members of the Episcopal Church are there in this country?

About 2.2 million. It used to be larger percentagewise, but Episcopalians tend to be better-educated and tend to reproduce at lower rates than some other denominations. Roman Catholics and Mormons both have theological reasons for producing lots of children.

Episcopalians aren’t interested in replenishing their ranks by having children?

No. It’s probably the opposite. We encourage people to pay attention to the stewardship of the earth and not use more than their portion.

So Catholics are now a bunch of uneducated, environmentally hazardous, baby makers? Actually this statement is very interesting in light of the American Bishop’s assertion that 96% of married Catholics are using contraception. Maybe this was just a “botched joke…

I am so proud of our priests!

I have written so many times about how blessed we are to have the three priests assigned to our parish. Each serves the parish in his own unique way. This past week’s National Catholic Register features a great profile of our youngest parochial vicar, Fr. James Searby. (For a limited time the print version of the National Catholic Register is available online).

Today at Holy Spirit parish, where he’s served since being ordained in June 2005, Father Searby brings that sense of holy adventure to youth — and makes promoting confession a keystone of his priestly ministry.

“He has a great zest for life and particularly seems to connect with young people,” says Father Edward Hathaway, pastor of St. John the Baptist Church in Front Royal, Va. “They’re attracted to him for his enthusiasm as a priest and his love for the Church, which is evident.”

Holy Spirit’s youth minister, Christine Najarian, sees that process constantly unfolding. “He gets kids excited about seeking the Lord and growing in h…

The Bishops Have Spoken. Spread the Word!

Last week the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops wrapped up their meeting in Baltimore. They published some very important teaching documents. You can download them here. I think the two most significant documents are Married Love and the Gift of Life and Happy Are Those Who are Called to His Supper: On Preparing to Receive Christ Worthily in the Eucharist. These documents are written for the entire body of the Catholic faithful. The first document on married life outlines the Church’s teaching on married life and its ban on contraception. The second document on the Eucharist clearly states the dogma on the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist and goes on to teach that we must be in a state of grace to receive Communion. It outlines conditions that would make us ineligible to receive Communion. Many have criticized the failure to specifically list use of contraception as an obstacle to receiving Communion. While I would have preferred to see such a statement, I think th…

The Family Catechesis Model

I have often expressed my frustration with the CCD as school model of religious education. Over at Amy Welborn’s blog, a commenter offered an intriguing alternative:

As a brand-new DRE at a solid, but small, parish who is now this year (under my inexperienced watch...pray for us!) transitioning into a completely different religious education system, I suggest that others take a look at what we are doing and the program we are using. Individual families who are struggling to find a decent RE program at your parish, read this too!

At my parish are using the Family Formation program out of St. Paul's church in Ham Lake, MN (this is Jeff Cavins' parish, btw, and his family has used the program too!). For us, as an entire parish, to join up with St. Paul's and utilize this program has been remarkably easy, logistically - but there is a huge shift in our philosophical thinking about RE that we are having to make, which is very challenging to our parents.

Take a look at the Family F…

Keeping Your Kids Catholic: Chapter Nine, Part Two

Chapter nine, part one is here.

Chapter nine of Keeping Your Kids Catholic by Bert Ghezzi discusses bringing a Catholic approach to the world. In the first post on this chapter we discussed bringing Catholic values into our societal concerns. The second part of this chapter address bringing Catholicism into youth culture.

This book was published in 1989. Most of the essays were written in the early eighties. The concerns about youth culture touched on drugs, alcohol, sex, and teen music. The offensive tunes list included Cyndi Lauper’s “She Bop”. Well, things haven’t gotten any easier in the last twenty years. Add increasingly raunchy television and the internet to the drugs, alcohol, sex, and teen music. And teen music has gotten a whole lot more vulgar than Cyndi Lauper’s “She Bop”. So what do you do?

I wish I had perfect answers. Part of the challenge is to pick your battles wisely. Values and standards must be consistently enforced but some issues are more critical than others. My …

More on Infant Euthanasia in the UK

I am happy to report that the Vatican has weighed in on the issue of infant euthanasia in Great Britain.

Speaking with Italian reporters, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care, deplored the “cruelty” of a proposal to allow newborns with severe handicapped to be euthanized in the United Kingdom.

The cardinal noted that the position of the Church “is unchanged, life does not belong to man but to the Lord. The life of an innocent being cannot be taken either by direct or indirect means. Euthanasia is never permissible. This goes for the terminally ill and for children, including those born with serious problems.”

According to Cardinal Lozano, “Ending the life of an innocent person, even if it is a premature baby who is gravely ill, is the equivalent of euthanasia, and this is an illicit action, as well as an act of cruelty.”

Cardinal Lozano also emphasized that the Church does not teach that doctors must use disproportionate means or medicine…

Keeping Your Kids Catholic: Chapter Nine, Part One

Chapter eight is here.

Chapter nine of Keeping Your Kids Catholic by Bert Ghezzi is subtitled Communicating a Catholic Approach to the World. It is very appropriate that this falls near the end of the book. Through the first eight chapters we have talked about why we teach our children about the Faith, how we teach our children about the Faith, and what we teach our children about the Faith. Now we take this Faith and put it into action. I am going to divide this chapter into two posts. The first will deal with instilling Catholic social principles. Tomorrow I will address keeping Catholic values in the youth culture.

I have to admit the title of the first essay in this chapter, Raising Kids with Concern for Social Justice by James D. Manney, is one that I approached with trepidation. Unfortunately, the term “social justice” has been hijacked by those within the Church who wish to downplay any concern for the liturgy. “Why are you worried about the vessels used at Mass or adherence to t…

Solebury School and Planned Parenthood are Old Friends

Last week I published an update about the controversy sparked by the Solebury School field trip to Planned Parenthood. Well, I happened upon a little more information today. It seems that this is not the first partnership between Solebury School and Planned Parenthood. Back in April, Solebury School students organized a 5K run to benefit Planned Parenthood. Specifically, this run would benefit the Planned Parenthood Rainbow Room. As the web page proclaims:

“As Solebury School students, we value the importance of equal rights for all in every community. We embrace the spirit of inclusiveness and equality that exists at Solebury School and the community of the Rainbow Room.”

What is the Rainbow Room?

The Rainbow Room strives to provide a supportive, and empowering environment for LGBTQ youth and allies to come together for social, educational and recreational activities. We value the leadership and active participation of youth in program planning and operations.

Its newsletter includes ar…

Anglicans Endorse Infant Euthanasia?

This is a case where I believe there is great confusion over the terms being used as well as their meaning. The headline reads, Church Supports Baby Euthanasia. “Church” in this case refers to the Church of England. However, the story reveals the definition of euthanasia and exactly what the Church of England is advocating is very fuzzy.


THE Church of England has joined one of Britain’s royal medical colleges in calling for legal euthanasia of seriously disabled newborn babies.

Church leaders want doctors to be given the right to withhold treatment from seriously disabled newborn babies in exceptional circumstances.

Their call, overriding the presumption that life should be preserved at any cost, follows that of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecology, revealed in The Sunday Times last week.

Exactly what is an “exceptional circumstance”? What “treatment” will be withheld? An anencephalic child has a condition incompatible with life. Death is imminent though it cannot be deter…

Playing and Praying

I am afraid blogging has been sparse the last few days. Soccer dominated the last week, culminating in a major tournament this weekend. Yesterday was a perfect day for soccer. Temperatures mild and the sun was bright. My daughter’s team got in two games, winning the first and tying the second. The second team should have been awarded the Tonya Harding sportsmanship award. Their young coach has a win-at-all-costs attitude and encourages vicious play. We have played them several times in the last few months and every time it seems that one of our players is carted off the field due to a brutal late illegal hit. Sometimes the referee sees the infraction and issues a yellow card and sometimes he doesn’t. Yesterday was one of the times he missed the call and it was my daughter that was carried off the field. Needless to say I became somewhat of a mother bear and there were many uncharitable thoughts running through my head as I examined the visible cleat marks on my child’s calf. Fortunat…

A Solebury School Rebuttal

You may remember that a couple of weeks ago I blogged on a secular private school in Philadelphia that took its students on a field trip to Planned Parenthood. Apparently, the school has been taking quite a bit of flak for this outing and the students and faculty are just plain tired of it. This prompted a Solebury School student to anonymously comment:

As a student at Solebury School, I'd like to point out something. This trip was not supposed to be political. It was intended as simple observation of the activism implemented by the pro-lifers. I find it ironic that you say that the students were not being shown the pro-life activism when that was the entire point of the trip. In fact, I'd say that the students were exposed to the pro-life message more than any pro-choice one.
Personally, I believe that every woman should be allowed the right to a safe abortion without someone else's dogma being shoved in her face, but that isn't my point here. My point is that my teache…

Keeping Your Kids Catholic: Chapter Eight

Chapter seven is here.

Chapter eight of Keeping Your Kids Catholic by Bert Ghezzi is subtitled Training Kids in Catholic Morality. This begs the question, “What is Catholic morality?” Do you know what the Church teaches on morality? Does it matter in your life? The answer to these last two questions should be an emphatic “Yes!” Unfortunately, many Catholics have never really learned what the Church teaches or why it teaches what it does. Without that knowledge it is very difficult to pass on truly Catholic morality to one’s children.

This is not a do-it-yourself project. The teaching office of the Catholic Church, the Magisterium. leads the Catholic flock down the path of authentically Catholic faith and morals. Ideally, Magisterial teachings would be clearly proclaimed by our bishops and priests from the pulpit and in pastoral writings. Sometimes this happens effectively and sometimes it does not. Every home should have a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I also recommend…

We Do Not Make the Eucharist Real

As is the pattern over at Richmond Catholic, the discussion centers around issues of the liturgy. Hand holding during the Our Father, methods of “passing the peace”, and the vessels used in Holy Communion have all surfaced in the discussion. Predictably, someone complains there should be no discussion of these issues while babies are starving and wars are being waged. However, one recent comment pushed the “don’t worry about the worship service because we have social justice issues to address” argument a bit far:

Eucharist is nothing if it doesn't nourish us and allow us to go out into the world and make it a better place.

Sorry, but we can add nothing to the Eucharist. The reality of the Eucharist, the True Presence of Christ, is completely independent of our response to it. He is there—Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. Our lack of response cannot negate this.

As I mentioned in the comments at Richmond Catholic, it is a false dichotomy to claim concern about the liturgy takes away fr…

Purgatory on Earth

Dear Lord,

Thank you for this beautiful sunny day. The fall leaves outside my window are stunning. I realize the colorful display should make up for the fact that the temperature is now below 50-degrees and feeling much colder with a brisk northern wind. It is, after all, November and this is Northern Virginia so such temperatures should not be surprising. I suppose that I have been in a state of denial, not believing the colder temperatures would once again return. Never mind the fact that a good portion of my family is still calling that region known as Texas home. Never mind the fact that they are still indulging in Bluebell Ice Cream. Never mind the fact that they do not feel the need to put on at least three layers of clothing to go outside and pick up the mail. I will savor the reds and golds of autumn now and will not begrudge my Texas kin the joy of bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush covered fields next spring. I will welcome the opportunity to rake the fallen leaves since it wi…

Anglican Turmoil Should Be a Warning for Catholics

Amy Welborn quotes the London Times on the discord in England between some of the current Anglican clergy and the former Archbishop of Canterbury:

The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey of Clifton, has been banned from one of the oldest cathedrals in Britain after accusations that he has become an “instrument of disunity”.

Lord Carey, who has become a champion of orthodoxy in the Anglican Church since stepping down from the top job in 2002, was due to speak at Bangor Cathedral, North Wales, in February. The Dean of Bangor, the Very Rev Alun Hawkins, is understood to have imposed the unprecedented ban because he feels that Lord Carey has become a “divisive force” and has been “disloyal” to his successor, Dr Rowan Williams, who was born in Wales.

Closer to home, The Washington Times writes about The Episcopal Church and the upcoming consecration of Katharine Jefferts Schori as the new presiding bishop.

Since her election June 18 at the Episcopal General Convention in Ohio, an unpre…

Reading Rome

I am at a stage in my life when I have the luxury to really study my faith. My children are all in school. They pack their own lunches and do their own laundry. I’ve retired from practicing clinical medicine so I can trade in a few of those medical journals for different reading material. The beauty of this is that I now have time to discover the rich treasure of Church teaching contained in Vatican documents. I am not exactly leading a life of leisure. My home and family just have different demands now so I can fit the reading in more easily.

What bothers me is not that I didn’t take the time to study these documents earlier. Rather, I am frustrated that I really didn’t know they existed until now. They are not difficult to read. Cardinal Arinze recommends using encyclicals and apostolic letters as spiritual readings. Instructions from various Vatican congregations like Cardinal Arinze’s Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments are also valuable teaching tools…

Keeping Your Kids Catholic: Chapter Seven

Chapter Six is here.

How fitting that we discuss chapter seven of Keeping Your Kids Catholic by Bert Ghezzi on All Saints Day. This chapter is subtitled Rooting Kids in the Catholic Heritage. Studying the saints is an ideal way to establish the history of trials, tribulations, and triumphs of our ancestors. The saints are role models for us as we make our own journey towards Heaven. By looking at both the ancient and the contemporary saints we see the unbroken continuum of the Faithful. We state every Sunday we believe in the Communion of Saints. These holy men and women are not just historical figures. They are current members of the Church Triumphant and are eagerly waiting to add their prayers to ours if we but only ask. For any Catholic value there is a saint that exemplifies it. St. Maria Goretti is known for her virtue of chastity. Blessed Mother is our model of perfect humble obedience to God. St. Joseph offers us a guide to being a strong father and family provider. St. Theres…