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Showing posts from May, 2007

It's Okay to Say "Because I said so!"

Amy Welborn posts about an overheard conversation between two women who are pre-K teachers. They were discussing the state accreditation process for pre-K programs.

The woman who'd been through it gave some tips. "Be sure you know the birthdates of the youngest and oldest in your room. They'll ask. You have to know it." "Always, always wash your hands. Come in the room, and the first thing, wash your hands." (can't argue with that). "Put up a bulletin board that's got all the children's photos on it that says something like 'Our school family.' They like that."

But here's what got me, and this is the part where I was so, so tempted to join in and just ask, "WHAT?" In hindsight, I should have. They wouldn't have minded, and it would have been enlightening.

They commiserated on the fact that state standards don't allow them to tell the children to walk in lines. I have no idea why and I have no idea what the a…

Hawk Encounter

This morning I went outside to walk through the garden and assess what damage the bunny, woodchuck and deer had done overnight. I noticed a lot of flapping of wings in the neighbor's back yard. The neighbors built a batting cage that is enclosed by netting. Apparently a hawk had managed to get inside and couldn't find his way out. He kept flying from end to end and getting caught in the netting. I got my boys and they worked for about an hour to help the hawk find its way out of the enclosure. It wasn't easy since they wanted to give those sharp talons and pointed beak plenty of room. Let me correct that. I wanted them to give those sharp talons and pointed beak plenty of room. I thought my testosterone filled college boys were a bit too cavalier in confronting the hawk. They could never get him to go back through the open door flap but they did lift the back wall of netting and eventually coax him out that end. One son did get a picture of him. He was not a happy hawk. …

What would you do?

I love having my kids involved in sports. There is a great deal to be learned from the hard work and commitment required to be on team. Many of life’s important lessons can be found in competition. Pope John Paul II acknowledged this when he set up the Vatican Office of Sports. Unfortunately, there is an ugly side as well. The pursuit of victory can lead to bending the rules and turning a blind eye to inappropriate behavior. The problem seems to be more acute in high school team sports and other competitive activities than in independent club sports. Perhaps that is because the high school team experience, whether it is the football team or the chess team, is so intertwined with high school social dynamics. Consider the following hypothetical scenario:

A high school athlete shows up at a team bonding party. It is at a senior team member’s home and is supposedly chaperoned. However, the team captain goes out and obtains beer for everyone. The athlete leaves as soon as she sees there is …

Support for Catholic Athletes

The latest issue of True Girl magazine pointed my daughter and me to Catholic Athletes for Christ. This group formed in response to Pope John Paul II’s call to evangelize the world of sports and his establishment of the Vatican’s Office of Sports.

Catholic Athletes for Christ (CAC) serves Catholic athletes in the practice of their faith and shares the Gospel in and through sports. We work with athletes at all levels of sport in an effort to promote a Catholic sports culture. CAC was formed in response to Pope John Paul II's call to evangelize the world of sports and his establishment of the Vatican's Office of Sports.

As St. Paul's epistles teach us, Christ is God’s true athlete and we are made perfect when, and only when, we imitate Him. John Paul II advises us that, "Every Christian is called to become a strong athlete of Christ, that is a faithful and courageous witness to His Gospel." We invite you to join us as an "athlete for Christ."

Ray McKenna,

8 Things Meme

Kitchen Madonna tagged me so here goes:

“Here are the rules: Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.”

1. I am a caffeine based life-form. Specifically, a coffee derived caffeine based life form. I use a Capresso coffee maker that grinds the beans then brews the coffee. My first cup of coffee in the morning needs to be from a ceramic or china cup. It is a bad day if my first coffee starts out in a travel mug and an absolutely horrible day if the first cup of coffee is held in cardboard or Styrofoam.

2. I love pretty dishes. Whenever the military packers come to move us they just stare at all the dishes and re-think how many dish barrel boxes they need. I have some very nice Wedgw…

Or Both?

In light of yesterday's post, I thought I would share something that just arrived in my inbox.


Please read this entire address by Archbishop Charles Chaput to college students on May 22, 2007. Then pass it on to every Catholic you know. These words are a clarion call to all Catholics, young and old. I kept highlighting excerpts to post here, and before you know it, I had highlighted nearly the whole thing. So accept these two excerpts for now then read the whole thing.

First this:

But the problem is that much of American culture right now is built on an adolescent fiction. The fiction is that life is all about you as an individual—your ideas, your appetites, and your needs. Believe me: It isn’t. The main interest big companies have in your wants and mine is how to turn them into a profit. Part of being an adult is the ability to separate marketing from reality; hype from fact. The fact is, the world is a big and complicated place. It doesn’t care about your appetites. It has too many of its own needs, and it won’t leave you alone.

God made you for a purpose. The world needs the …

"I'm sorry." is not enough.

Michelle has some good thoughts on Justice and Forgiveness.

The prosecutor's argument for sentencing:

"In this situation the state must look beyond the feelings only of the individuals who are most directly impacted by this event," Fisher told the judge. "Society has an interest in what is done beyond the feelings of the victims."

Forgiveness should not mean walking away from justice. This is not one man's crime against another man. This is one man's crime against society by breaking its laws.

This is something I think is all too often lost in discussion of crime and punishment. Justice is not retribution or vengeance. It is the fair and appropriate response that keeps a community ordered and civilized.

As a mother, I have had the situation where a child has disobeyed. Perhaps the offense seemed very personal, for example lying to me. Not only has my child broken a rule, but his offense strikes at my heart since it is a betrayal of my love for him. Now once …

Take Time To Remember

It is Memorial Day Weekend. If your family is like mine, there will be steady stream of activity. Somewhere between firing up the grill, prepping the boat, or taking a dip in the pool, please lift up our military in prayer. We have an all-volunteer force. Men and women are willingly responding to a call to serve our country, knowing that it could entail the ultimate sacrifice. This weekend, we especially honor those who have died serving the cause of freedom.

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine,
et lux perpetua luceat eis
Requiescant in pace. Amen.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May they rest in peace. Amen.

Allow Me to Offend You

Check the temperature in Hades. I am about to give praise to the Washington Post for its defense of free speech. Actually, the kudos go to Marc Fisher for his column in this morning’s paper. It seems that a University of Maryland student, Mia Lazarus, went into a campus convenience store to purchase a quick snack, but the clerk would not serve her because Lazarus was wearing a pro-Israel T-shirt and the clerk found that offensive.

Mia Lazarus put her chips and juice down on the counter and prepared to pay. But in the midst of the lunchtime rush, the cashier's eyes wandered to Lazarus's T-shirt, which expressed a political message that proved to be overwhelming for the clerk.

One glance at the words "Baltimore Zionist District" on Lazarus's "I Stand for Israel" T-shirt, and the cashier at the Maryland Food Collective, a crunchy grocery and sandwich shop in the student union on the University of Maryland's College Park campus, blurted: "Your shirt …

Serious Apron Day Thoughts

Today is a serious apron day. My house looks like a hurricane hit. Some of the chaos is going to stay because we are getting the outside of the house painted. They power washed it on Monday and will start painting tomorrow. The grill and all my plants have been brought inside. My potted plants from the deck are not “deer resistant” and I do not intend to offer a smorgasbord for the local wildlife. As it is, I have discovered that “deer resistant” does not mean bunny, woodchuck, and chipmunk resistant as well. Still, there are lots of little piles of clutter that need to be cleared and surfaces that need to be dusted. I also need to get my laundry out of the way so kids can get theirs done this evening. Four kids home means lots of folks vying for washing machine time. I’m a bit behind because just as we added two more people to the laundry queue, my old dryer died. Good news is that Lowes does next-day delivery. The replacement is now in place and up and running.

So why the apron? Putt…

Theology of the Snooze Button

Jen has a post about seeking God before seeking the snooze button. I was reminded of this post when I saw this.

Since I have to get out of bed and drive my husband to the carpool lot, I can’t really hit the snooze button. But when I return home and the kids are already off to school, it sure is tempting to crawl back between the covers and catch a few more Z’s. Yet if I put the coffee on and keep plugging, my day goes so much better. There is something to St. Josemaria Escriva’s words:

Conquer yourself each day from the very first moment, getting up on the dot, at a set time, without granting a single minute to laziness. If with the help of God, you conquer yourself in the moment, you have accomplished a great deal for the rest of the day. It's so discouraging to find yourself beaten in the first skirmish.

This sentiment is the basis for self-mortification and “offering it up”. We are made very aware of this during Lent when we give up something as part of our spiritual practice. Ho…

Thoughts on Evangelization

About a month ago I was engaged in some discussions about “Evangelical Catholics”. For that reason, this article from Zenit caught my eye.

LONDON, MAY 20, 2007 ( ).- A new report on church attendance in the United Kingdom suggests that many Britons have no connection with organized religion, and that the majority of those who identify themselves as Christian never go to Church.

The Christian relief and development agency Tearfund released the report "Churchgoing in the U.K." in April, which revealed that more than half of those polled claim to be Christians.

Monsignor Keith Barltrop, director of the Catholic Agency to Support Evangelization (CASE) of the bishops' conference of England and Wales, tells ZENIT in this interview that the key to successful evangelization in the modern world is renewing a sense of confidence among Catholics in their faith.

Q: How did the decision by the bishops of England and Wales to establish CASE three years ago herald a change in the …

A Book Meme

Ebeth from A Catholic Mom climbing the Pillars tagged me for this book meme.

How many books do you own?

To many too count! I think we have bookshelves in every room in the house and still have stacks of books looking for a home.

Book(s) I am reading now:

1.The Spirit of the Liturgy by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

Books I've read recently:

1.The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
2.Time and Again by Jack Finney
3.Finding Noel by Richard Paul Evans
4.God’s Invisible Hand: an interview of Francis Cardinal Arinze by Gerard O’Connell
5. The Complete Works of Flannery O'Connor

Five Books That Mean a Lot to Me:

1. My Bible
2. The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis
3. Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkein
4. Bread Machine Magic by Linda Rehberg and Lois Conway
5. Keeping Your Kids Catholic by Bert Ghezzi

This was fun! Instead of tagging, I will just invite anyone else who would like to play to post a link to your answers in the comment box so we can all take a look.

They Do Play Soccer in the Convent!

My husband has always said (with only a smidgen of seriousness) he hopes to send our only daughter to the convent. This is not a high-minded support of vocations. This is his fatherly reluctance to share her affections with any mortal man. Over the years as our daughter’s passion for soccer grew, the convent didn’t seem very likely. This is the daughter who insisted on wearing soccer shorts under her ankle length First Communion dress. Then I came across this picture.

The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist is one of the fastest growing orders in the country. They have been profiled in both the Catholic and the secular media. This is from their mission statement:

By living this strong sacramental and liturgical prayer life, we hope to:

Attract and form women to be faithful religious serving the Church for the good of souls, especially through the total gift of themselves as spiritual mothers and brides of Christ. Establish and support Catholic schools steeped in the rich …

If that is what you mean by support, please take it elsewhere.

How many ways can John Edwards tick me off? First he supports anti-Catholic bigots. Now he is urging his supporters to use Memorial Day as a day of anti-war activism.

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards is calling on his supporters to turn this year's Memorial Day into a day of antiwar activism, saying that the best way to honor the troops is to demand an end to the Iraq war.

Never mind that this is the day we are supposed to honor those who have given their lives in the service and defense of our country. I believe James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal puts it best:

"Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards is calling on his supporters to turn this year's Memorial Day into a day of antiwar activism, saying that the best way to honor the troops is to demand an end to the Iraq war," the Washington Post reports. Edwards, who voted for the war, has set up a Web site for his effort.

Andrew Sullivan has observed of Edwards, "He's pretty, he has fl…

Take Me Out to the Ballgame!

I wish I had heard about this earlier. Last night at the Washington Nationals baseball game it was Stitch and Pitch night.

"Stitch and Pitch" games, sponsored by the National NeedleArts Association, bring knitters to Major League Baseball games -- 23 of them this season. The events are designed to promote knitting, but they also have a profound effect on conversation in the grandstands. In most of RFK Stadium, the talk Monday night was of the Nats finally sweeping a series this season. But up in section 518, among stitchers, the conversation was . . . different…

Downstairs, near a barbecue stand in the stadium's concrete walkways, Barbara Paley, the NeedleArts Association's marketing expert, was explaining the cosmic meaning of Stitch and Pitch.

"The rhythms of baseball and the rhythms of the needle arts fit together perfectly," she said. "They're both timeless. There's no time limit."

I grew up watching baseball. I have a souvenir bat from th…

Catholic Carnival 119 is waiting for you!

Catholic Carnival 119 is packed with lots of great reading from many blogs I had not been to before! Thanks to Stevenfor hosting. One post that stands out for me is this one, The Ten Most Important Issues Facing the Catholic Church in America. This list could and should inspire a treasure trove of new posts in the Catholic blogosphere.

Well, this is probably all the posting from me today. I'm off to pick up my oldest son from the airport as he returns from Texas A&M for the summer. My nest will be complete. Oh, happy day!

Democrats continue their anti-Catholic activities

First John Edwards thinks anti-Catholic bloggers are suitable for his campaign staff. Then nominally Catholic Patrick Leahy takes a swipe at the Catholic Church. Now, House Democrats think they can dictate to the Pope how to lead the Catholic Church.

Eighteen House Democrats, led by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), are responding to Pope Benedict XVI’s statement that indicated he would support Mexican bishops if they were to excommunicate Mexican legislators who voted last month to legalize abortion in Mexico City.

The Pope made his remarks last Wednesday during a news conference aboard a plane before he was to begin a five-day visit to Brazil.

“We are concerned with the Pope’s recent statement warning Catholic elected officials that they risk excommunication and would not receive communion for their pro-choice views,” the lawmakers said in a statement issued yesterday. “Advancing respect for life and for the dignity of every human being is, as our church has taught us, our own life’s missi…

Church of the MDG

It is easy to pick on the Episcopalians, and I want to be clear that is not what I am trying to do right now. They are going through some tough times as the leadership of the church pulls away from traditional orthodox Christianity and moves towards a secular agenda. To get a feel for this, take a look at the Easter Message from Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori.

As this Lent draws to a close, take a careful look at your life. Where has God been at work during this fast? What new life can you discern?

For my own part, I will celebrate the new life that has been growing hidden in the lives of leaders in this church. We are blessed with leaders, lay and ordained, who are increasingly aware of their God-given ministries to lead this people into fuller participation in God's mission of healing the world. I celebrate the work of God expressed in the gathering of Anglican women at the United Nations in late February and early March, who were able to say to the world that attenti…

Karen Stohr Responds

Karen Stohr responds to those who are critical of her support of pro-abortion Catholics as commencement speakers for Catholic institutions. This statement seems to most characterize her position:

We also want to remember that the moral status of abortion/ESC research does not immediately transfer to the act of voting to support or uphold legal abortion/ESC research (or voting for people who vote to support or uphold legal abortion/ESC research.)

I believe Dr. Stohr is seriously mistaken. Recent statements by Pope Benedict XVI can leave no doubt that a public official who votes to support or uphold abortion or embryonic stem cell research commits a gravely immoral act.

Catholic officials have been debating for some time whether politicians who approve abortion legislation as well as doctors and nurses who take part in abortions would subject themselves to automatic excommunication under church law. The pope was asked where he stands on the issue during the flight to Brazil, in his first …

Is it a Scandal?

Mirror of Justice posts an op-ed piece on commencement speakers for Catholic schools. The author, Karen Stohr, disagrees with her alma mater’s decision to rescind an invitation to U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill to deliver the commencement address. Sen. McCaskill is an ardent abortion and embryonic stem cell research supporter. I have excerpted a portion of Professor Stohr's comments below. You can read her entire essay at the link above.

No, the real moral concern must be that having McCaskill as a commencement speaker somehow would constitute an endorsement of her views by a Catholic
institution. But is that the case?

By their nature, educational institutions are places where controversial ideas find a platform. I am a faculty member in the philosophy department at a Catholic university. Every semester, I assign my students readings that conflict with Church teaching, alongside traditional Catholic sources; indeed,
I cannot teach philosophy any other way.

At its core, education consi…

Wear Your Apron on Monday, May 14!


Right now, women across the United States and the blogosphere are searching thrift stores, ebay, and their mother's linen drawers for aprons to wear May 14th. Some are making their own. Wearing their aprons inside and outside of their homes, Apron Moms will celebrate their pivotal role in making a house a home.

As the search for domestic bliss continues, a search that includes cleaning and decluttering, cooking tasty nutritious meals, educating children, and the care and feeding of husbands, women will celebrate the difference they make in the lives of their families. They know an apron is like a uniform that conveys authority, unconditional regard, and motherly wisdom all at once. Apron Moms know aprons are about cooking and cleaning but they are also about emotional availablity, hospitality, and femininity.

On Monday, May 14th, apron wearing women will drop children off at school, go to the post office and grocery store, and greet their families at the door wearing th…

Sleep is not in a mother's job description

I’ve been rather slow about blogging this week and to tell you the truth, I think it is because I am a bit sleep deprived. Monday night my daughter was out and about leaving encouraging messages on the cars of all the seniors on the high school soccer team. Tuesday was the last regular season home game and it is tradition for the younger players to honor them in this way. In any case, she didn’t get back home until around midnight. Tuesday night my son who had just arrived home from college met up with his old high school buddies and they decided to go to the late night showing of Spiderman 3. He didn’t return home until after 1:00 am. Last night this same son joined his new college buddies as they drove towards New York City for a couple of days of sightseeing in the Big Apple. Of course I stayed awake until I knew they were safely ensconced in New Jersey. Now I don’t have to stay awake for all this. My being awake will have no impact on what happens when the kids are out of the hous…

Reflections of a 7th Grade Catechist

This evening my CCD class meets for the last time. It has been a good year but I am happy to see it end as well. It has been truly exhausting. For several months now I have been teacher, Catholic cheerleader, “mom”, and taskmaster to a dozen middle schoolers. And in the end, I’m not sure it matters too much. I would love to think I inspired or motivated these kids in their faith. But the truth is my tiny little weekly encounter is insignificant to the lessons being taught in their homes.

Probably about five or six of the kids come from strong Catholic homes. I know they attend Mass every week and their faith is talked about at home. What we did in class reinforced the teaching of their parents. Being Catholic is a family focus for them. When I mentioned patron saints, novenas, the Rosary, feast days, or specific prayers, they didn’t give me blank stares. I was speaking a language they had heard before.

Another four or five kids attend Mass most Sundays but I am sure that is the extent o…

The Catholic Carnival is Up!

Please run on over toPostscripts from the Catholic Spitfire Grill for this week’s Catholic Carnival. Lots of great posts from a very wide variety of blogs. Esther at A Catholic Mom in Hawaii is after my gardening heart with a post on a Mary Garden. She links to this resource which could keep me reading for hours on end. It is her fault if I get nothing else done today. Matthew at A Catholic Life has a well written piece on the Errors of Centering Prayer. That one may inspire a blog post of my own if I can pull myself away from all the reading about Mary Gardens. Do go over and look at the whole menu of posts in this week’s carnival. What a feast!

Hollywood Nuns

Sister Mary Martha has a cute post reflecting on nuns in the movies. Her favorite is Heaven Knows Mr. Allison with Deborah Kerr. She also mentions Audrey Hepburn in A Nun’s Story, Mary Tyler Moore in A Change of Habit, and the worst of the bunch, Whoopi Goldberg’s Sister Act.

This got me to thinking about other movies depicting nuns. There is The Singing Nun starring Debbie Reynolds. This was a pleasant movie that highlighted both the conflicts and rewards of religious life. If only the real life story of Sister Luc Gabriel was as uplifting.

Two Mules for Sister Sara joins Clint Eastwood and Shirley MacLaine. While Shirley MacLaine plays a nun the entire movie, it seems there is more to her than a calling to the religious life.

Lilies of the Field was a hallmark of Sidney Poitier’s film career. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his starring role. This was the first time a black actor won the top male award.

Can you think of any more recent movies that focus on women religious? W…

Evangelical--a loaded word

Not too long ago I was engaged in some discussions about the term “Evangelical Catholic”. Those associated with groups and movements who describe themselves as “Evangelical Catholics” couldn’t understand why such language raised the hackles of many Catholics. As an explanation, consider the negative response of “Evangelical Christians” when Frank Beckwith, the president of the Evangelical Theological Society, recently came into the Catholic Church. The following response is from Dr. James White, Director of Alpha & Omega Ministries:

Let's ponder the hypothetical situation of a President of the Evangelical Theological Society converting to Roman Catholicism in the midst of his tenure. In 1998 I attended the national meeting of the ETS in Orlando, Florida. At one of the sessions some of the founding members were being asked questions about why they did certain things, why they wrote the statement of faith as they did, etc. A woman asked a question of the panel. "Why did you…

Cause for Joy

From today’s Magnificat:

It is in this very situation that all of us, and especially our children, adolescents, and young people, need to live faith as joy and to savor that profound tranquility which the encounter with the Lord gives rise. The source of Christian joy is the certainty of being loved by God, loved personally by our Creator, by the One who holds the entire universe in his hands and loves each one of us and the whole great human family with a passionate and faithful love, a love greater than our infidelities and sins, a love which forgives. This certitude and this joy of being loved by God must be conveyed in some palpable and practical way to each one of us, and especially to the young generations who are entering the world of faith. —Pope Benedict XVI

For someone who was labeled “God’s Rottweiler”, Pope Benedict XVI sure spends a lot of time talking about joy and love. It is so very easy to get sucked into the vortex of ranting. Modern liturgical music is abysmal! The s…

Bluebird of Happiness?

Calling all ornithologists! I love watching all the varieties of birds at my bird feeders. I have two finch feeders that are usually populated with goldfinches and purple finches. Today, however, there was a new visitor. Using my Peterson Field Guide it looks like a Mountain Bluebird. Of course that would be unusual to see here in Virginia, but the guide does say that occasional wanderers are spotted east of the 100th Meridian. I have seen occasional Eastern Bluebirds, but they have a reddish belly. This one is just brilliantly blue all over. I did snap a picture which I've posted. He is at the bottom of the feeder. One of our typical goldfinches is on top. If anyone can give me an identification, I would appreciate it.

UPDATE: I believe the mystery bird is actually a blue grosbeak or an indigo bunting.

"What Next, God?"

I am a planner. I set goals. I want to keep on schedule. When I exercise, I want to know how far I go, how many calories do I burn, and what is my pace. Everything is calculated. I guess that is the math/science part of my brain at work. This is great for being productive and organized. However, it leads to great anxiety when the data is skimpy and I can’t work out an algorithm to model what comes next.

The problem comes when I forget that God is the lead engineer on this project. He doesn’t give me the big picture. I am just a subcontractor. He sets me up with one task. Before I expand this task or push on to another I need to check in with God to make sure I am following His blueprint. Sometimes I get carried away, thinking that I have the master plan all figured out, and just keep going my merry way. Of course that means I usually run into a solid wall where I think there should be a door and I realize I wasn’t following God’s instructions at all.

We are reminded of this in today’…

Feast of St. Joseph the Worker

Today is the second of our yearly feasts honoring St. Joseph. From Catholic Culture:

The feast of St. Joseph the Worker was established by Pope Pius XII in 1955 in order to Christianize the concept of labor and give to all workmen a model and a protector. By the daily labor in his shop, offered to God with patience and joy, St. Joseph provided for the necessities of his holy spouse and of the Incarnate Son of God, and thus became an example to all laborers. "Workman and all those laboring in conditions of poverty will have reasons to rejoice rather than grieve, since they have in common with the Holy Family daily preoccupations and cares (Leo XIII)."
Today is a good day to apply ourselves to our daily tasks with the virtue of diligence. Let our labors be a prayer and sacrifice to Our Lord. May we also say a special prayer for all those whose faithful, hard work make our own lives more comfortable.