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Showing posts from March, 2007

Walking In Memphis

Soon I will be walking in Memphis. Daughter and I are off for college visit. We will be attending St. Anne’s Church for Palm Sunday Mass then off to Graceland for a tour. Then the work begins as Daughter tries to see if she can picture herself studying and playing soccer amidst the blues and barbecue. Keep us in your prayers!

Welcome One and All

In a little over a week, thousands of people will come into full communion with the Catholic Church. If one makes a cursory perusal of the blogosphere one sees numerous conversion stories, old and new.

One making headlines is that of Daniel Herzog, the former Episcopal Bishop of Albany, New York. The Rt. Rev. Herzog retired as Bishop of the Episcopal diocese of Albany on January 31. On March 19 he announced to his former diocese that he was joining the Roman Catholic Church.

In his letter to Bishop Love, Bishop Herzog stated that his decision was based on more than three years of focused prayer and study.

“My sense of duty to the diocese, its clergy and people required that I not walk away from my office and leave vulnerable this diocese which I love,” he wrote. “I believed that it was my responsibility to provide for a transition to the future. Your subsequent election and consecration discharged that duty and has given me the liberty to follow my conscience, and now resign my orders a…

Pope Benedict XVI on St. Irenaeus of Lyons

In my efforts to promulgate greater familiarity and appreciation for papal teachings, I encourage you to read Pope Benedict’s Wednesday General Audience address from yesterday. He continues his teaching on the Patriarchal Fathers of the Church with an overview of St. Irenaeus of Lyons. This reflection is particularly relevant in light of the many candidates and catechumens making their final preparations to enter full communion with the Church.

Irenaeus is above all a man of faith and a pastor. Like the Good Shepherd, he has prudence, a richness of doctrine, and missionary zeal. As a writer, he aims for a twofold objective: to defend true doctrine from the attacks of the heretics, and to clearly expound the truth of the faith. His two works still in existence correspond exactly to the fulfillment of these two objectives: the five books "Against Heresies," and the "Demonstration of Apostolic Preaching" (which could be called the oldest "catechism of Christian do…

In Communion

Ebeth posts a wonderful essay by Deacon Keith Fournier on the inseparable nature of Christ and His Church.

How many Catholic Christians truly understand the implications of their own Baptism? How many have experienced the grace of identification with the Church as a “mother”, or the interior dimension of living in the Church as a “communion” of persons, flowing from the Communion of the Trinity? Is this all supposed to only be the experience of the “mystics”, the talk of the Saints and Fathers, or, is it supposed to be the truly common experience of every Christian? I believe it is supposed to be the common experience of all who bear the name Christian. In Catholic theology and practice, we teach -and we are called to practice - the truth that the early fathers, Saints and Councils throughout the ages have affirmed; to belong to Jesus is to belong to His Body. Our membership in the Church is a very real participation in the very life of God; what the Apostle Peter referred to as a “par…

Voice of Reason in HPV Vaccine Debate

Virginia Governor Timothy Kaine recommends changes to the recently passed legislation requiring all girls entering the sixth grade to receive the HPV vaccine.

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's amendment would eliminate the need for parents or guardians to submit written requests for their children to opt out of the vaccine, called Gardasil.

"While I believe that this vaccine shows great promise for preventing cancer, I believe that the decision to administer this vaccine should be made by parents," Kaine said in a statement.

I believe this is a very reasonable approach. As I wrote here, the decision to vaccinate does not belong to the state.

It is a Parenting Issue--Not Daycare

I certainly hope we are not spending too much money on this study. Its conclusions sure rank high on the “Well, duh!!!” meter.

Children who got quality child care before entering kindergarten had better vocabulary scores in the fifth grade than did youngsters who received lower quality care. Also, the more time that children spent in child care, the more likely their sixth grade teachers were to report problem behavior…One possible reason why relations between center care and problem behavior may endure is that primary school teachers lack the training as well as the time to address behavior problems, given their primary focus on academics.

Do you really think it should be up to primary school teachers to address the behavior problems? The ultimate responsibility of these behavior problems rests on the shoulders of the parents. Teachers should cooperate with parents in finding a solution to problems but parents should assume the leadership role.

It is study reports like this one that ign…

Solemn Feast of the Annunciation

“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be it done to me according to your word.”

Today is the Feast of the Annunciation. With Mary’s humble, unconditional obedience, the Word became Flesh. In yesterday’s Angelus address, Pope Benedict XVI marked the significance of this event with these words:

The Annunciation is a humble, hidden event that no one saw or knew except for Mary. But at the same time it is a decisive moment in the history of humanity. When the Virgin said ‘Yes’ to the Angel’s Annunciation, Jesus was conceived and with Him began a new era in history, which was eventually sanctioned by the ‘new and eternal covenant.

In fact, Mary’s Yes was the perfect reflection of that by Christ when he came into the world as one can read in the way the Letter to the Hebrews interprets Psalm 39: “Then I said, 'As is written of me in the scroll, Behold, I come to do your will, O God' (Heb 10: 7).”

The Son’s obedience mirrors that of the Mother and thus, thanks to the meeting of …

A Busy Week for Guardian Angels

It has been one of those weeks. Four days ago I got the phone call that my daughter had been hurt in a soccer game. We spent the rest of the night in the emergency room. Her soccer was put on hold for a couple of weeks, but nothing too serious. She should have a prompt full recovery.

Even though my daughter couldn’t play, this morning we traveled to Richmond for a tournament. Just before the game, one of the mothers was visibly upset. She just received a phone call her son had been in an accident and was in the hospital. Details were sketchy. I offered prayers and we chatted about how we still worried when the kids were grown and far away. A follow-up call indicated her son would be okay in a few days. A few hours later I needed the prayers as I received the phone call that my oldest had been in a car accident. He called. He said he was fine. The car was totaled. I feel emotionally overwhelmed knowing how bad it could have been and how blessed I am that he is safe and sound.

I really a…


It is Spring! My garden says so. I am very successful this year with daffodils. I love their sunny yellow clusters.
The crocus are like hidden Easter eggs beneath the shrubs.

Unfortunately, the deer and rabbits have made short work(literally!) of my tulips. I planted these a couple of years ago and every year they make a valiant attempt to grow. However, they are far too tasty to the wildlife palates so I never get to see them blossom.

Continuing Education

Ebeth at A Catholic Mom climbing the Pillars discusses the perils of finding Catholic reading material.

There is so much information and people to learn from and those to NOT learn from that this is a challenge. For the past 2 years, I have been working on obtaining my Master Catechist certification. Through the diocese of my parish, we are supposed to go through a certain avenue of learning programs. One such avenue is Dayton University online learning. Dayton has become the most LIBERAL Catholic higher educational source I have ever seen. Be sure that if you take courses with them that you are prepared to fight the good fight in defense of celibacy and the priesthood, women NOT becoming priests, Sacraments remaining in the Church and NOT phasing out, Satan being a real entity, not just a mere illusion called the absence of God. Oh, along with this list of individualistic theology, CarolAnn, one of the facilitators for the courses on Ecclesiology that I took, came on my private email …

Soccer Lesson in Faith

This weekend was supposed to be an exciting one for my daughter. Her travel soccer team is going to be playing in a big tournament. She heard from three college coaches at schools she is very interested in attending that they would be coming to watch her play. This is the way college recruiting is done in soccer. They don’t watch you play for your high school team. They want to see you playing the higher level club soccer.

Unfortunately, things will not go as planned. My daughter does play for her high school team and in Tuesday night’s game she was injured. It is not a severe injury. She should be back to her playing form in a couple of weeks. However, that will be too late to showcase her skills at this tournament. She is feeling pretty heartbroken right now.

No doors have permanently closed yet. There will still be future tournaments. The question is whether or not these coaches will be available to see her then. It feels like a very good opportunity has just vanished.

My daughter had…

Please Pray

As the mother of three Boy Scouts, this story strikes very close to my heart. Please add Michael Auberry and his family to your prayers.

Blessed Mother, please wrap your mantle of protection over this child of yours.
St. George, please pray for Michael.
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us this day in battle,...

UPDATE: Probably nearly simultaneously with my posting this request for prayers, Michael Auberry was found after four days of being lost. The news story stays he was found just before 11:00 AM and I posted at 10:53. Thanks be to God for this joyous news.

These are really cool!

Take a look at Catholici Sumus for these great wristbands. I think these may find their way into an Easter basket or two.

Sounds of Silence

My house is amazingly quiet this morning. I am alone in the house for the first time in two weeks. First I had my son home from Rice University for spring break, and then the next week my son from Texas A&M was home for his spring break. They did overlap for a couple of days so I had one Mass with all my children in the pew. It was glorious!

I am not sure why I am so aware of the silence this morning. My boys did a good job of sleeping until the crack of noon every day so I really didn’t hear a sound from them in the mornings. Yet this morning their absence is palpable. It was a great comfort to my heart to have them so close.

So as I work I am filling the silence with music and consoling my heart with prayer.

Feast of St. Joseph

A blessed Feast of St. Joseph to all. St. Joseph is the Patron of the Universal Church as well as the Patron of Fathers and Patron of the Family. These words from a 1999 Angelus Address by Pope John Paul II are an excellent meditation for today:

Through the exercise of his fatherhood, Joseph cooperates, in the fullness of time, in the great mystery of salvation (cf. Redemptoris Custos, n. 8). "His fatherhood is expressed concretely in his having made his life a service ... to the mystery of the Incarnation and to the redemptive mission connected with it; ... in having turned his human vocation to domestic love into a superhuman oblation of self, an oblation of his heart and all his abilities into love placed at the service of the Messiah growing up in his house" (ibid.). To this end, God shared his own fatherly love with Joseph, that love "from [which] every family in heaven and on earth is named" (Eph 3:15).

Like every child, Jesus learned about life and how to act…

Family Prayer: Imperfect yet so precious

We have completed day 24 of our 40-day family retreat for Family Consecration. I was skeptical that we would really keep this up. And I confess not all evening sessions have been conducive to peaceful contemplation. Fatigue, anxiety over pending homework, and the general business of the day have intruded. Several evenings we have been missing one or more members of the family. There have been two or three evenings when we found it impossible to gather. I really feared that once we broke the chain of nightly prayer and reflection we would not restart. Yet I have found after missing a session, all members of the family are eager to resume.

While the readings from both John Paul II and St. Louis de Montfort are profound, I look forward to the family Rosary more than anything else. The retreat started out asking for a single decade. Then we noticed that one day the instructions required two decades to complete our evening session. Then a few days later we said three decades. Now we are up …

Attention! You have an Important Message from Pope Benedict XVI

Did you know there is a hierarchy to papal documents? Of course, an ex cathedra statement is the highest form but this has only been used a handful of times. The most recent ex cathedra statement was from Pope Pius XII when he formally defined the dogma of the Assumption of Mary. Following that is the papal encyclical. Next in teaching importance is the Apostolic Exhortation
Pope Benedict XVI just released the Apostolic Exhortation, Sacramentum Caritatis. Actually, the full title is:


Did you notice that this document is addressed to bishops, clergy, consecrated persons, and the LAY FAITHFUL? That’s right. Pope Benedict XVI is talking to you and me. This document is not meant to be only read by those with collars who then filter it on to us. This is critically importan…

S.O.L.--It's not what you think

The Washington Post KidsPost section has an article on the standardized tests being given to middle school students now in order to comply with the No Child Left Behind legislation. Actually, it is not an article about the test. It is an article about the hoopla that surrounds the test. Lee Middle school held an elaborate pep rally complete with the school counselors dressed as superheroes. The idea was to pump the kids up to bring their A-game to the test.

Excuse me. Does time spent clapping and rapping really raise test scores? I naively thought that a teacher would teach a subject to the best of his or her ability. The students would be assessed for a minimum level of competency. If a significant number of students did not reach this minimum level, it would signal the teacher or the curriculum needed to adjust. However, this approach throws the entire education establishment into a frenzy. Because the students’ performance is actually a test result for the teachers and school system…


Boy, does my house smell good! I am just about finished with the last six Irish whiskey cakes for the annual parish youth group fundraiser. This weekend they will be selling theses yummy cakes after every Mass to finance their trip to the Diocesan Work Camp. My daughter will be joining the group this year so I am providing twelve cakes for the sale. Don’t think I am going to share the recipe. That is proprietary information. I do believe our parishioners look forward to this annual event. Even those who gave up sweets for Lent can indulge in one of the cakes since they freeze very well. So if you find yourself in Annandale, Virginia this weekend, feel free to stop by Holy Spirit Catholic Church and pick up one of these culinary creations. They are a perfect dessert for St. Patrick’s Day.

Angelus Address March 4, 2007

The Pope’s Angelus address from this past Sunday is now translated into English on the Vatican web site. Here is a nugget to ponder today:

Dear brothers and sisters, prayer is not an accessory or "optional", but a question of life or death. In fact, only those who pray, in other words, who entrust themselves to God with filial love, can enter eternal life, which is God himself.

Personal Piety

Rich Leonardi writes of his transition to receiving Communion on the tongue. This is not a required transition. Rich in no way suggests it makes him more Catholic than those who receive in the hand and it certainly doesn’t offer more grace than receiving reverently in the hand. But predictably, someone objects to this practice with the words “I don't understand why people like you think that your way is always better. And that you are in someway a better Catholic.”

I cringe at that comment because it is such sentiments that keep me from wearing a veil. Personally I find the idea of wearing a veil appealing. I know it is not mandatory. The Church neither encourages nor discourages it. It is not nostalgia for the doily covering I wore as a child. No. It is a desire to mark my unique womanly vocation within the Church. At the same time it is a personal reminder of the necessary humility with which I should approach Our Lord. There are a couple of things that stop me. I don’t know that…

Spirit of the Liturgy

Much will be written across the blogosphere over the next few days as reports of the spectacle from the Diocese of Los Angeles known as the Religious Education Congress trickle in. This gathering is known for its dissident speakers, inappropriate Communion vessels, elaborate liturgical dancers, and other dramatic innovations that could only come from the land of Hollywood. I realize it is Lent and I need to be charitable in my comments--hate the sin but love the sinner and all that. So I guess my commentary will actually be the words of Pope Benedict XVI. When he was Cardinal Ratzinger he wrote the book Spirit of the Liturgy. This is the final paragraph of the first chapter.

The worship of the golden calf is a self-generated cult. When Moses stays away for too long, and God himself becomes inaccessible, the people just fetch him back. Worship becomes a feast that the community gives itself, a festival of self-affirmation. Instead of being worship of God, it becomes a circle closed in o…

Recommended Lenten Reflection

We are on Day 13 of our 40-day family retreat for Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary in union with St. Joseph. The first twelve days have spoken of the Spirit of the World. Now we are called to a deeper knowledge of ourselves.

Ask for the graces to humble yourself as a spiritual child of Mary and ask her to help you to renounce your own will and to realize that God has a plan for your life, one that is better than you could ever imagine. Whether it be in sickness or health, you just need to strive to know and accomplish God’s Will. Our Lord said in Matthew 7:21, “Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

Mary is the perfect model for doing God’s Will. She will form you into His image and likeness if you let her. Your most precious Mother will protect you if you let go of your self-will and let her take possession of you.

Even if you are not participating in this retreat, I encourage you to…

Trust and Faith

Oh, we are impatient people. We want to understand things and we want to understand them right now! Give me the staff summary sheet or white paper and let’s move on. This is fine for the CEO or government official, but it is not the way to approach our faith.

This weekend I will meet with a young man who has decided to enter the Church. He is entering the RCIA program a little late so I am going to do some one-on-one time with him to catch him up with the RCIA class. I’ve been mulling over what I really need to tell him. What is the essential nugget he needs to know? Do I start with the Eucharist? Do I start with God’s love and mercy? I’ve been developing the ideas of what does it mean to be Catholic and what does it mean to be in communion with the Church for over a year as I’ve posted on my blog. Stay with me here and let me see if I can take you down the short but very challenging road I think this young man needs to traverse to be ready to enter the Church. He has been baptized so …

Prayer Requests

As you say your prayers today please remember one of my daughter's soccer teammates who suffered a serious head injury last night. She is hospitalized but stable.

Also pray for Bill who was diagnosed with lung cancer. He is well known and loved by the youth of our parish as a CCD teacher as well as a substitute teacher in the local public school.

Coffee Comments

I have mentioned on more than one occasion I am a caffeine-based life form. A proper cup of coffee is essential to start my day and a little java keeps me plugging away when the afternoon doldrums hit. Right now I am sipping St. Peter Claver all day blend coffee from the Oregon Jesuits. I mentioned these St. Ignatius blend coffees here. The St. Peter Claver blend is a very smooth coffee. For my first cup in the morning I think I need to brew it a bit stronger. However, later in the day it is just right. Perhaps the St. Francis Xavier French Roast will be better as my morning choice. This is certainly good coffee but I am not so impressed that I feel the need to switch from my customary Larry’s Beans order. I do think these Jesuit inspired coffees would make great gifts for my Catholic coffee-drinking friends.

In other coffee news I just read that McDonalds beat out Starbucks in a coffee taste-test show down. Apparently McDonalds changed its coffee formula and has greatly improved sinc…

A Miraculous Pro-Life Effort

Read this article from the Arlington Catholic Herald but be prepared for tears in your eyes and chills up your spine. Fr. Stefan Starzynski has followed the guidance of the Holy Spirit and started the Paul Stefan Home for Unwed Mothers. Learn of the inspiration for this project and the seemingly miraculous events that made it a reality.

During a pilgrimage to Israel in February the following year, Father Starzynski found himself in the Prophet Elijah’s cave praying for a release of the Holy Spirit and for the hopeful project. Upon his return to the parish, Father Starzynski celebrated a Mass, which culminated with a healing service. During the service he felt inspired to tell his congregation that five parishioners who were present would donate $1,000. After the generous act of faith was made, the concrete plans for a home for unwed mothers would commence. As it was divinely ordained, the very next day what the priest had prayerfully predicted came true. Upon receiving exactly $1,000 f…

The Papal Lenten Retreat

Argent has a report on the Pope’s Lenten retreat. It is being led by Cardinal Biffi. Contrast the cardinal’s words with those of Katharine Jeferts Schori posted below.

Quoting the work "Three Dialogues on War, Progress and the End of History," Cardinal Biffi told his listeners that "the Antichrist presents himself as pacifist, ecologist and ecumenist."

"He will convoke an ecumenical council and will seek the consensus of all the Christian confessions, granting something to each one. The masses will follow him, with the exception of small groups of Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants," he said.

The cardinal added that Solovyov says in that work: "Days will come in Christianity in which they will try to reduce the salvific event to a mere series of values."

Or perhaps to a series of Millennium Development Goals?