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Showing posts from October, 2007

Not quite as planned

It is time to turn it over to the Holy Spirit. I reported here that I was going to moderate a discussion group on the book The Apostles by Pope Benedict XVI. Well it begins on Sunday and I am not sure if anyone is showing up. The publicity for it has not been what I expected. I thought there was going to be a full-page flyer in the bulletin but instead there are two lines in the bulletin under the Religious Education news. Understand that the Religious Education news section of our bulletin has always been for CCD news so no one reads it if they don’t have children in the CCD program. We do not have a culture of adult education in our parish so no one is expecting news for the general parish to be under the religious education banner. The flyer is posted on the parish web site but it takes three clicks to get to it and once again it is posted under the CCD news. On top of that, the parish web site is only a few months old and isn’t often used by the average parishioner in the pew. I s…

Mother-Daughter weekend in Williamsburg

I had a lovely weekend in Williamsburg with my daughter. The soccer tournament didn’t turn out exactly as we hope since they came in second instead of first in the State Cup, but as always I thoroughly enjoyed the time with my only girl. She has grown into such a young woman. While we still have lots of parent child interaction, “Please pick up your____, Don’t forget your_______, and Be home by_______” , she has also matured to where we can have some lively, interesting, conversations on a wide variety of topics. I took great pleasure in her observations after we attended Mass at St. Bede’s in Williamsburg.

This is a new church built in-the-round as is the style of the Diocese of Richmond. Unlike many of the round churches we have visited in this diocese, this church has kneelers, holy water, votive candles, and statues of saints. In other words, it looks very Catholic. The liturgy was also fairly orthodox. The wine was poured into individual metal chalices before the Eucharistic Pra…

Speaking of English Class....

For those who couldn't quite see themselves in the Math Diva t-shirt, try this one on for size. Barb, I thought of you when I saw this shirt!

Bring Back Some Works by the Dead White Males (and Females)

My daughter, a high school senior, is taking AP English. This class focuses on the study of literature. Unfortunately, the curriculum is so infected with political correctness and multiculturalism, the choice of literature leaves a great deal to be desired. My daughter, who has been an avid reader since her early elementary school years, finds this survey of literature abysmal. The books celebrate African, Asian, and Native American cultures while condemning all that belongs to Western Civilization. She started off reading Ceremony to raise her consciousness of Native Americans. She then went on to read The Road and see nuclear holocaust as the fruit of American policy. Next is When Things Fall Apart where she reads how Western colonialism destroyed African culture and drove the African protagonist to suicide. Upcoming titles include a Latin American drama, House of Spirits and the Oprah special, Beloved by Toni Morrison. Each of these may be interesting well-written books. However, i…

What He Said!

While I am talking about Religious Education, please read this pastoral letter on Confirmation by Bishop Corrada del Rio. I hope more diocese take on this evaluation of their confirmation preparation programs and make it more visibly the Sacrament of Initiation that it is meant to be. This discussion of the interrelatedness of the Sacraments is outstanding. Do take the time to read the whole thing, but here is a small excerpt.

We can see, then, the relationship of the Sacraments of Initiation to the liturgy and to the Call to Holiness. The sacraments draw humanity into the truth and love of God revealed in Christ, thereby disposing the faithful to live this love more deeply in their daily lives of Christian freedom and witness. The celebration of the sacraments are themselves supreme witnesses to the truth of the Gospel. Above all, this is true of the Eucharist, during which the Gospel message and the Church are made manifest (see SC 6-8, LG 26). The relation of Baptism and Confirmatio…

Here we go!

Anyone who has read my blog any length of time knows that I have been pining for some adult faith formation in our parish. I am happy to say the parish has responded to my request and is sponsoring a discussion group of The Apostles by Pope Benedict XVI. Yours truly will be moderating this gathering so if any of you are in the neighborhood and want to join our Sunday evening group, you can get more details here.

The Anti-Catholic U.N. agenda

I am so tired of absurd claims like this one.

The rapid spread in Latin America of the virus that causes AIDS is made worse by the Roman Catholic Church's stand against using condoms, a U.N. official said on Monday.

Excuse me. But what are people doing that they need condoms? Are they engaging in extra-marital sex? Are they engaging in homosexual activity? The Church doesn’t approve of these activities either. So is this UN official suggesting that people are ignoring the Church teachings on extra-marital sex and homosexual activity and taking to heart the Church ban on contraception, including condoms? Such allegations are no more than tactics to pressure the Church to fund condom distribution programs. The U.N. doesn’t care what the Church believes. It just wants Church money and resources to enable people to continue their immoral behavior without consequences.

How many U.N. sponsored chastity programs are there? The Church would better serve the people and stop the spread of AIDS…

A Legacy of Virtue

Then he told them a parable.
“There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest.
He asked himself, ‘What shall I do,
for I do not have space to store my harvest?’
And he said, ‘This is what I shall do:
I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones.
There I shall store all my grain and other goods
and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you,
you have so many good things stored up for many years,
rest, eat, drink, be merry!”’
But God said to him,
‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you;
and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’
Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself
but is not rich in what matters to God.”

Today’s Gospel reading is a familiar parable. Perhaps it is too familiar. It is very easy to tune this out and say, “Oh, I know this one. No need to pay much attention.” That is why I am very thankful to Fr. Gould, the priest who said Mass this morning. He offered a new twist to think about. It is especially timely considering m…

I Am Not the Enemy

We are the parents. God gave us our children. It is our responsibility to see that they are properly nurtured in mind, body, and soul. So why then do the state, the schools, the medical community, and even the parish religious education offices think we are incompetent? Why do I feel like I have to ask permission to parent my child?

The latest assault on parental authority comes in Maine. A school-based health clinic will now dispense oral contraceptives and contraceptive patches to girls ages eleven to thirteen. The girls must have their parents’ permission to use the clinic services, but once that permission is given, parents are not notified of what types of services are utilized. They will be dispensing powerful hormones to newly post-pubescent girls and their parents won’t have a clue.

What is the message this clinic is sending to the students? How about, Your parents don’t really know best. Their teaching is irrelevant. You make your own decisions and we will help you do what you …

Pope Benedict XVI on St. Eusebius

Argent has a very good translation of Pope Benedict’s Wednesday General Audience teaching on St. Eusebius. As you may remember, Pope Benedict is using his Wednesday General Audiences to provide excellent catechesis on the early Church Fathers. Do read the whole thing, but I was especially struck by these words:

Like the Apostles, for whom Jesus prayed at the Last Supper, the pastors and the faithful of the Church 'are in the world' (Jn 17,11)but not 'of the world.' Therefore, the pastors, Eusebius reminds us, should exhort the faithful not to consider the cities of the world as their permanent dwelling, but to seek the future city, the definitive Jerusalem in heaven.

This 'eschatological reservation' allows the pastors and the faithful to keep an authentic scale of values, without ever yielding to the fashion of the moment and to the unjust demands of prevailing political power.

The authentic scale of values, Eusebius's whole life seems to tell us, does not c…

A Catholic alternative to the College of Holy Cross conference

The actions of Jesuit-run College of the Holy Cross have saddened and angered many Catholics. The school is sponsoring a conference on teen pregnancy featuring Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts as part of the program. Bishop Robert J. McManus, in whose Worcester diocese Holy Cross resides, has issued a statement condemning the conference. In defiance of the Bishop’s statement, Holy Cross refuses to cancel the appearance of representatives of Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts.

Dawn Eden writes on her blog, that not only is the college continuing its support of a platform for Planned Parenthood’s message, the college refused to provide space for an alternative presentation on the Church’s teachings on sexuality.

A Holy Cross alumnus, a current student, and my employer, the Cardinal Newman Society — whose mission is to renew and strengthen Catholic identity at America's 224 Catholic colleges and universities — asked Holy Cross to grant a venue fo…

Prayers for Elizabeth Clark

The Apostolate for Family Consecration is a tremendous resource for families trying to live as a Domestic Church. I just received the following letter from the founder, Jerry Coniker. Please offer your prayers for the recovery of his granddaughter, Elizabeth Clark.

Dear Members, Cooperators and Friends of the Family Apostolate,
This is a message for prayers for my granddaughter Elizabeth Clark, daughter of Sheri and Joe Clark.
Elizabeth was in a head-on car accident on September 27, which is Gwen's birthday. She is still suffering in the hospital. It is a miracle that she survived. Her ankle was twisted like a corkscrew - the doctors said it would have been better on her if it broke. They reset it after 3 ½ hour surgery and hopefully it proves successful. Also, one of the vertebrae in her neck was hit hard and they hope that they don't have to do surgery.
But the worst part is that because of the laceration in her liver, it is still not fully operating. They are trying to keep her…

Works of Mercy in the Domestic Church

Many years ago I attended a seminar about youth ministry. The nugget I took away is that teens that keep their faith are the ones whose families attend Mass together every Sunday, who pray together, and who do charitable works together. The first two are not surprising, but the third item is one that I would like to explore a little more.

The Church gives us a very succinct guide to charity in the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.

The Corporal Works of Mercy

Feed the hungry
Give drink to the thirsty
Clothe the naked
Shelter the homeless
Visit the sick
Visit the imprisoned
Bury the dead
The Spiritual Works of Mercy

Admonish the sinner
Instruct the ignorant
Counsel the doubtful
Comfort the sorrowful
Bear wrongs patiently
Forgive all injuries
Pray for the living and the dead

Notice that both Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy are important. We must not focus on one to the exclusion of the other.

I would like to see the concepts of the Corporal and Spiritual Works…

Holding Parents Accountable

I sure wish there was enforcement like this in Virginia.

ROCKVILLE, Md. - Which is worse? Hosting a party where a teenage girl is left alone where she passed out in her own vomit? Or not knowing she was there? Either way, a Montgomery County man faces 22 criminal counts for allegedly helping his child host a party where there was underage drinking, according to police and prosecutors.

George Barberi of Damascus faces charges ranging from reckless endangerment, which carries a possible five-year jail term, to something called 'maintaining a disorderly house.' That's a charge that basically amounts to providing a place for underage kids to drink. The party took place in August.

Having received the phone call that says “Mom, come get me. There is beer at this party” while my child was at a chaperoned party for a school-sponsored activity, I would love to have had the fear of law enforcement on my side. In spite of all the proclamations against underage drinking made by our schoo…

An example in humility

I lived in California for three years in the mid 1990’s. I don’t know if it is the proximity to Hollywood or there is something in the water, but California can be a truly challenging cultural experience. In California was the first time I ever went to a shopping mall and felt viscerally frightened of teenagers. My oldest came home from kindergarten and asked when my husband and I would be getting divorced. He was the only child in his class that did not have divorced parents so he assumed it was inevitable. Looking at the Catholic leadership in that area includes the likes of Cardinal Mahoney and Bishop Brown. (Don’t get me started on those two!) So when blogs started broadcasting that the Bishop of San Francisco had given communion to men in drag who were mocking women religious, I could only shake my head and pray that we will eventually be liberated from such liturgical nonsense.

However, I am heartened to find that the Bishop of San Francisco, Bishop Niederauer, has offered a v…

Parents Matter

The Yahoo headline reads Study: public and private school students test at same level.

Students at independent private schools and most parochial schools scored the same on 12th-grade achievement tests in core academic subjects as those in traditional public high schools when income and other family characteristics were taken into account, according to the study by the nonpartisan Center on Education Policy.

Reading further, the press description of the study actually contradicts this headline.

The study looked at 1,000 low-income students from cities who are part of a nationally representative sample of kids surveyed over a period of years, along with parents and teachers, as part of a federal research effort.

In trying to determine whether the type of high school attended by a student made a difference academically, the new study tried to separate out the effects of income; earlier eighth-grade test scores; parental expectations; whether parents discuss school with their children and w…

Cats in the Cradle...

I've long since retired, my son's moved away
I called him up just the other day
I said, "I'd like to see you if you don't mind"
He said, "I'd love to, Dad, if I can find the time
You see my new job's a hassle and kids have the flu
But it's sure nice talking to you, Dad
It's been sure nice talking to you"

And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me
He'd grown up just like me
My boy was just like me

This song by Harry Chapin was one of my favorites in high school. It had a haunting melody and was easy to sing along. I didn’t realize the poignancy of the lyrics until many years later when I became a parent. I am the model for my children. My behavior, my priorities, my values are their normal. Do I know what I am teaching them?

Apparently, too many parents have abdicated their job as role model. So much so that Senators Barack Obama and Dick Durbin have introduced legislation to make federal money available to schools that need to teach thei…

"Outrageously" Pro-Life

National political happenings seem like hometown news when you live in the Washington DC suburbs like I do. This past Monday, the Diocese of Washington celebrated the annual Red Mass to mark the beginning of the Supreme Court’s session. Justices in attendance included Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr., and Justices Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Stephen Breyer, and Samuel Alito, Jr. One justice who was definitely not in attendance was Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. She described her feelings about the Red Mass with these words:

Before every session [of the court], there's a Red Mass. And the justices get invitations from the cardinal to attend that. And a good number of the justices show up every year. I went one year, and I will never go again, because this sermon was outrageously anti-abortion

Justice Ginsberg, you knew you were going to a Catholic Mass. You had to know the Catholic position on abortion. Were you really surprised by what you heard? Are you really s…

O, Angel of God

Angel of God,
my guardian dear,
To whom God's love
commits me here,
Ever this day,
be at my side,
To light and guard,
Rule and guide.


Today is the Feast of the Guardian Angels.

Pope John XXIII had a wonderful reflection on the Divine Gift of our Guardian Angels:

According to the teaching of the Roman catechism, we must remember how admirable was the intention of divine Providence in entrusting to the angels the mission of watching over all mankind, and over individual human beings, lest they should fall victims to the grave dangers which they encounter. In this earthly life, when children have to make their way along a path beset with obstacles and snares, their fathers take care to call upon the help of those who can look after them and come to their aid in adversity. In the same way our Father in heaven has charged his angels to come to our assistance during our earthly journey which leads us to our blessed fatherland, so that, protected by the angels' help and care, we may avoid…