Pull up a chair in my domestic church and let's chat!

I have worn many labels (Not in any particular order): Catholic, Wife, Mom,Gramma, Doctor, Major, Soccer Mom, Military Wife, Professor, Fellow.

All of these filter my views of the world. I hope that like St. Monica, I can through prayer, words and example, lead my children and others to Faith.
"The important thing is that we do not let a single day go by in vain without putting it to good use for eternity"--Blessed Franz Jägerstätter

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Episcopal Church Developments

For those who are following the turmoil of The Episcopal Church this is a very interesting video. It is a one hour video of a question and answer session with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori as she comments on the recent meeting of Anglican Primates in Tanzania. She is very articulate but manages to dance around most issues. She does express her adamant support for the homosexual agenda and for the blessing of same sex unions. She states that marriage is about the relationship between two people without regard for gender. For her, marriage is totally unrelated to biological reproduction. She views any compliance with the communiqué of Dar Es Salaam as a pause in the current direction of The Episcopal Church not a change in the course of the church. She refers to those who oppose this as “neuralgic” and “dissident”. She says those in the more developed West must wait patiently for their brethren in the less developed areas of the world to catch up with the enlightenment of TEC. She also states that she has no intention of pausing in the litigation over property against churches that have left The Episcopal Church. She states that Jesus is one option for salvation but not necessarily the only way.

Why do we care what the Episcopal Church is doing? Well, there are those within the Catholic Church who want the same thing. Especially within the United States there are those who would like to set up a parallel American Catholic Church that provides its own authority with little regard for Rome. Call to Action, Voice of the Faithful, and those “Spirit of Vatican II” folks all think they have more wisdom than that stuffy old bunch at the Vatican. So we must be vigilant in defending the authority of the Magisterium. Jesus gave the “Keys to the Kingdom” to Peter, not to a committee.

UPDATE: The lessons of the current Papal Lenten retreat are an interesting contrast to the above.

Planned Parenthood teams up with Sprint

Are you using Sprint as your wireless provider? You may want to reconsider..

Planned Parenthood Wireless is a new choice for your cell phone service. By signing up for this service, you will help preserve reproductive rights, and ensure access to comprehensive family planning and medically accurate sex education for women and families around the world. You'll do something you do every day – talk on your cell phone – and you'll be helping Planned Parenthood as 10% of all monthly charges goes to Planned Parenthood Federation of America, at no extra cost to you.

Planned Parenthood Wireless is powered by Working Assets, the progressive phone company that delivers quality phone service using the all-digital nationwide Sprint® network*. Since 1985, Working Assets has raised more than $50 million for progressive nonprofits, including $1.6 million for Planned Parenthood alone. You get great cell phone service, exceptional customer service, and the satisfaction of knowing that you are contributing to a worthy cause.

Make the right choice and sign up today. But choose soon – this offer is only good until March 31.

Angelus Message from Feb 25, 2007

After I wrote about how we should be listening to Rome a bit more, I thought I would try to be more diligent about linking to the Pope's addresses. Here is his Angelus address from last Sunday. I especially liked these words:

Contemplating the Crucified One with the eyes of faith we can understand in depth what sin is, how tragic is its gravity, and at the same time, how immense is the Lord's power of forgiveness and mercy.

During these days of Lent, let us not distance our hearts from this mystery of profound humanity and lofty spirituality. Looking at Christ, we feel at the same time looked at by him. He whom we have pierced with our faults never tires of pouring out upon the world an inexhaustible torrent of merciful love.

7th Grade CCD Students want to go to Confession More Often!

My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn. (Psalm 51)

I haven’t written too much lately about 7th grade CCD but it is progressing well. Last night I took the class to confession. Our parish is trying to establish the habit of frequent confession so we make it available during CCD every couple of months. Afterwards we returned to the classroom and the mood was jubilant. One boy commented on how “light” he felt. Several agreed they feel almost giddy as they exit the confessional. I was asked if we could do this more often. My teacher’s mindset suspected this might be a ploy to get out of class work so I reminded them we had lessons to accomplish in the classroom. One student suggested that if we finish lessons early we could ask Father to hear confessions.

Now I suspect that Father may not always be available for a round of spontaneous 7th grade confessions but the fact this idea was initiated by my students is humbling. The Spirit was truly at work last night. I do so want their parents to know how much the kids long for this sacrament. The good news is that our priests are scheduled to hear confessions every day except Sunday. We reviewed the schedule in class last night and I am hopeful some of these kids will bring their parents back to the confessional. As I have written before, my goal this year is to teach the children but also use them to catechize their parents.

Last year one of our priests gave some tips on making a good confession. He and his fellow priests of our parish had heard hundreds of confessions during Holy Week. I wrote about them here but I thought I would share them again.

1. Give an approximate length of time since your last confession. “A long time’ could mean anything. Was it three weeks, three months, three years, or three decades?

2. Tell the priest your station in life. Are you married, widowed, a student, working full time, etc. This gives the priest a chance to put your confession in context. (I had never heard this suggestion before, but it makes sense)

3. The priest needs enough information to understand the nature of the sin, but doesn’t need excruciating detail. “I violated the fourth commandment” is a bit vague, but a blow-by-blow description of an argument is unnecessary.

4. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is for absolution and forgiveness of sins. If you are looking for counseling or spiritual direction, an appointment with the priest in his office is better.

5. Any version of the Act of Contrition is fine. Feel free to make up your own if you can’t remember the formal prayer. Just express your sorrow and your intent to do penance and sin no more. (Has anyone else heard children say “ I am hardly sorry” instead of “I am heartily sorry”?)

Rich Leonardi has a good post on confession tips as well.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Catholic Cartoons

Because I am such a fan of Cardinal Arinze this caught my eye. Then I found out there is a whole collection of Catholic editorial cartoons at this site. Some of these are really funny.

Saying it is so doesn't make it so.

The New York Times pays tribute to Frances Kissling as she steps down from her post as president of Catholics for a Free Choice. I read the article, but to be quite honest, my stomach churned as I did so. This woman is definitely not Catholic and her organization is not Catholic. She acts as if being Catholic is akin to an ethnicity that one passively claims.

I’m so Catholic, I can’t get away from it,” said Ms. Kissling, who was once in a convent. “How I construct concepts of life, of justice, it all comes out of being Catholic.”

“The constant refrain in this office is, ‘Are we really Catholic?’ ” Ms. Kissling said here in a recent interview. “I know with every ounce of my being that you don’t have to agree with the positions of the church on issues of abortion and contraception to be Catholic.”

You know on one level she is right. The question is not whether or not Ms. Kissling agrees with the Church. The question is will she humbly obey the Church. Her strident support for abortion and contraception brings her status as a Catholic in communion with the Church into question. Her dismissal of any authority of the Church hierarchy shreds any pretense of being Catholic. Without “Catholic” as part of her organization’s name it would be just another pro-abortion advocacy group. By including “Catholic” she becomes a media darling that is standing up to that outdated bastion of patriarchy.

It is Lent so the charitable thing to do is to add Frances Kissling to our prayers. But also include prayers for the souls of all the children she helped kill with her support of abortion. Pray for all the people she led away from true Catholicism. Pray for the courage to speak up and take action to defend the Church and all of its teachings.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Catholic Carnival 108: Themes of Lent

As we enter our first full week of Lent, Catholics across the blogosphere are offering great posts for us to ponder.

Lent is a the home stretch for many candidates and catechumens preparing to enter the Church. 50 Days After offers his own Top 5 Reasons I am Catholic.

Deo Omnis Gloria offers an exploration of who died on the cross. Was it Jesus? Was it God? And why it had to happen.

Phatcatholic Apologetics offers a liturgical celebration of the Stations of the Cross, with content taken from St. Alphonsus Liguori and Franciscan University's liturgical guide for this celebration to provide people with an online way to walk through the Stations every Friday.

CatholicLand gives us a mega-post chock full of useful tidbits and necessary questions.

Fr. Ben Hawley, SJ treats us to The Good New of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus' Passion, Death and Resurrection make the Good News real and available to those who believe. But, what exactly is the Good News? If you had to explain it to a friend, what would you say? This post outlines the Good News, beginning with "God exists. God created us in God's image...," as I have experienced it in my own life.

The inimitable Sister Mary Martha offers some great Lenten reflections in several posts beginning here. However, this one is my personal favorite.

Along the same lines, Barb at SF0 Mom takes the dread out of Lent and replaces it with hope. If you think Lent is hard, try meditating on what Jesus went through for our sakes

Lent is a time for family growth and development as well as individual spiritual growth. My Domestic Church has thoughts on reading the scripture as well as a Lenten goal for her toddler.

Kevin Miller reflects on Temptation, Faith, and Jesus. This is a reflection on the Mass readings for the first Sunday of Lent, focusing on the importance of faith in Jesus when we experience temptation.

Andrew at Pondering the Word found himself prepared rather than surprised by Lent this year.

Some thought provoking posts are not specifically Lenten in topic, but good Lenten reading nonetheless.

Last week I wrote about Bishop Wuerl’s campaign to bring Catholics back to the confessional. It may be the first step many Catholics need to rediscover their faith.

Eve at A Catholic in Steinbach likens using God’s gifts to further His will to a game of catch with God.

Nick Basehore offers this letter from a military officer who served in Iraq. Both the letter and the comments are thought provoking.

Dan at Believe and Profess reflects on the necessity of motivating his students by training their wills in addition to their intellects.

Aggie Catholic (Gig ‘em!) has some thoughtful words about the meaning of Choice.

What else should we be reading and watching?

Catholic Fire highly recommends the movie Amazing Grace. This is a movie review of Amazing Grace with links to movie trailers, information on how you can help put an end to modern day slavery, and information concerning the main character's relationship to Catholicism.

Blog from the Core has a great set of links to Cardinal Newman’s Lent-related sermons.

Perhaps because Pope Benedict XVI made love a theme of this year’s Lent, there are several posts on marriage.

A Guide to Raising Great Kids talks about the dynamics of in-laws.

Sarah talks about trying to balance her own private activities with her family activities. During Lent it is good to reflect on “Are we doing too much?”

Married and Catholic offers three wonderful posts. This one outlines how her husband’s entrance into the Church strengthened her own faith. In What does it Mean to Be Married she uses the example of her grandparents to beautifully illustrate the permanence of marriage. (Hankie alert on this one. I get tears in my eyes just thinking about it.) On the other end of the spectrum, a local radio station is running a promotion to get a man and woman to fall in love over the phone and marry in six weeks.

Red County California takes a second look at one newspaper columnist’s advice about (Re)Marriage after 50.

Indulgences and the Church Suffering

Yesterday we completed Day 6 of our 40-day Family Consecration Retreat. This retreat follows a pattern of a reading by Pope John Paul II, a reading from True Devotion to Mary by St. Louis de Montfort, a Scripture reading, a review of a catechetical topic, and a family recitation of one decade of the Rosary. Without the decade of the Rosary, the program only takes between ten and fifteen minutes. The Rosary only adds another five minutes so it really isn’t a huge commitment of family time. It is very doable, even for our busy family.

The catechetical topics have been varied. The last two days have reviewed the practice of plenary and partial indulgences. My husband is a convert to Catholicism and I sense his discomfort as this topic is broached. Shadows of the Reformation dance in his head. My 1960’s and 70’s catechesis is not that sharp on this subject so I struggle to reasonably explain the practice. I am always wary of letting my Catholic devotions and practices slip into the realm of superstition and I think the concept of indulgences lends itself rather easily to that. It can sound like we are saying “Follow this simple magic formula and you will wipe out your time in Purgatory!”

When in doubt, pull out the Catechism. Entry 1471 says:

The doctrine and practice of indulgences in the Church are closely linked to the effects of the sacrament of Penance.

What is an indulgence?

“An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints.

An indulgence is partial or plenary according as it removes either part or all of the temporal punishment due to sin.” The faithful can gain indulgences for themselves or apply them to the dead.

In truth, if we approach indulgences like an accountant with a ledger we miss out on the value of this practice. This isn’t a matter of settling accounts. We really don’t know how long our temporal punishment or purification in Purgatory will be. In fact we don’t even know how time is measured in eternity. Almost any devotional or holy act, done with the proper disposition, can be worthy of an indulgence. Certain practices the Church finds particularly valuable are singled out for the faithful. The prescribed conditions the Church outlines sound like so much legalese but in reality are a way to make sure we approach the practice with a prayerful heart and proper understanding. So we should see the practice of indulgences as a way to join ourselves as the Church Militant with the souls in Purgatory, the Church Suffering. You never know whose suffering soul your piety releases. It could be your own.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Experts Have Spoken

When we went to bed last night the weather forecast called for a wintry mix today with up to two tenths of an inch of ice accumulation. We awoke to a light dusting of snow. As we left for Mass great big heavy white flakes of snow were falling. The weather forecast had been adjusted to a possible one inch of snow accumulation. By the time we returned from Mass there was at least two inches of snow in the driveway. My husband and children cleared the driveway. Then did it again about an hour later. Then my two children cleared the driveway one more time. The weather forecast was again adjusted and called for 1 to 3 inches of snow. After the fourth time of shoveling the walk and driveway and looking at our deck with a good 8 inches of accumulated snow, I am happy to report the weather forecast has once again been revised. It now calls for 4-8 inches of snow. CCD is canceled for tonight. The school district has not made any decisions about school for tomorrow. After all, the weather forecast says the worst should be over by midnight tonight. It should be fine by morning. You think so?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Molded by Mary

We are on day 5 of our 40-day family retreat for Family Consecration to Jesus through Mary in Union with St. Joseph. The pattern for our retreat is to listen to a reading from Pope John Paul II’s writings then a passage from St. Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary. Today’s reading from St. Louis de Montfort was especially poignant:

Walk in Mary’s immaculate way. Take the divine practice I teach. And you will find Him. Night or day, you will seek Him in a holy place, and you will see Him clearly. There is no night in Mary, since there has never been any sin in her, not even the least shadow. She is a holy place. She is the holy of holies, where saints are formed and molded. Note, I pray you, that I say the saints are molded in her. There is much difference between making a statue with hammer and chisel, hewing it out of wood or stone, and the method of casting in a mold. In the first method the sculptor has much toil. He spends much time, and he may make many blunders. In the second, he works swiftly, without much effort, and without the possibility of marring what he molds. St. Augustine calls Our Lady “the mold of God.” He who is cast into this mold is soon molded into Jesus Christ; and Jesus Christ is molded in him.

The metaphor of being molded into Christ rather than hewn into the image of Christ is very significant. To be molded means we must totally surrender ourselves and melt our own will. We then accept the form of the mold. To be hewn into Christ’s image means we still try to retain our own rigid will and work Christ’s image around it. Such an image will always be imperfect.

During this time of Lent let our acts of self-sacrifice and self-mortification melt our will so that we may be formed as Christ through Mary.

Friday, February 23, 2007


Virginia has now entered the ranks of those attempting to mandate the HPV vaccine for pre-pubescent girls. I have written extensively about this here. This week’s National Catholic Register has an article about the vaccine controversy and the Texas governor’s executive order for vaccination.. (Only subscribers can view the online article.) Unfortunately, the article seems to mix those who oppose the mandate of the vaccine with those who oppose the vaccine itself. Those who oppose the vaccine itself come across as shrill and hysterical, predicting increased promiscuity if girls are protected from HPV. I fall in the former category and want to clarify my view of the vaccine.

1. This vaccine is ethically produced. It has the potential to prevent infection with the four subtypes of HPV that are associated with 99% of the cases of cervical cancer.

2. This vaccine does not prevent all forms of cervical cancer. It does not prevent other sexually transmitted diseases, including venereal warts caused by different subtypes of HPV. It does not prevent pregnancy.

3. Women will still need regular pap smears. The only difference between women who have been vaccinated and those who have not is the vaccinated women have a greater chance of having normal pap smears.

4. HPV transmission is not a risk in the school setting or in any community setting. Therefore, HPV prevention does not meet the public health threshold to require mandatory vaccination for school attendance.

5. This vaccine has not established a long enough safe use history to plunge ahead into mandating this vaccination.

Therefore, my own recommendation as well as that of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Catholic Bioethics Center, and other medical organizations, is to support voluntary immunization. If this vaccine is such a good deal, parents will choose it. I find it very interesting that Planned Parenthood, the organization that jealously guards a woman’s right to choose abortion as a private medical decision even when that “woman” is a minor, does not support this same woman’s right to make a private medical decision about getting the HPV vaccine. Planned Parenthood strongly supports mandated vaccination.

One Small Step Into the Confessional, One giant Leap of Faith

Yesterday’s WashingtonPpost ran an article about Bishop Wuerl’s very public campaign to draw the faithful back to the Sacrament of Confession. As would be expected from the Post, it really did not capture the essence of the sacrament. The author kept equating going to Confession with psychotherapy and self-help groups. The article closed with this testimonial from a DC Catholic:

Damiana Astudillo, 33, a researcher who lives in Mount Pleasant, said she hasn't been to confession in a decade because she is turned off by what she sees as paternalism among church leaders.

"The Catholic Church is unwilling to adapt to the modern world. They're still hung up on the dogma of ancient times, and life is very complex today," she said yesterday on L Street NW. "I've grown to believe a priest is a man, and he doesn't have the power to forgive. Confession and a prayer? That doesn't work for me anymore."

Doesn’t this just scream for increased adult catechesis? Now some have taken this to mean that there is no point in getting more folks into the confessional if they don’t understand what they are doing. I disagree. Confession is a Sacrament. It is a visible sign, instituted by Christ, to give grace. Even if the penitent approaches the Sacrament of Reconciliation with imperfect understanding, graces will flow. Maybe the grace received will soften a heart or open the eyes of faith enough that an increased understanding of the Church and our Faith will be possible. Maybe some need the grace received from Confession to be receptive to catechesis.

Pope Benedict is pushing Confession as well.

Vatican, Feb. 19, 2007 ( - At a February 19 meeting with confessors, Pope Benedict XVI remarked on how the “limitless renovating power of divine love” is realized in the sacrament of Penance.

The Holy Father was speaking to the father-confessors of the Roman basilica and the officials of the Apostolic Penitentiary, led by Cardinal James Stafford. He told them that the priest, as confessor, is an “active instrument of divine mercy.”

The task of the confessor, the Pope said, is to help the penitent “recognize the gravity of sin,” and resolve to avoid sin in the future, while provide “the comfort and consolation of Christ.”

“How many penitents find in confession the peace and joy they were seeking for so long!” the Pope said. He encouraged priests to help the faithful use the sacrament properly. To do so, he said, confessors must learn as much as possible about the background of their people, the problems they face, and the spiritual problems they encounter.

Above all, the Pope continued, “We cannot preach forgiveness and reconciliation to others if we do not experience these things personally.” He encouraged confessors to make frequent use of the sacrament themselves, so that they too have a fuller appreciation for the forgiveness offered by Christ through his priestly ministers.

The sacrament of Penance, the Pontiff concluded, “is a specific ecclesial service to which we must give priority."

Those of us who are spending time in the Catholic blogosphere have to remember that the vast majority of Catholics in the pews are not so immersed in Catholic thinking and teaching. Give them the opportunity to crawl before they walk or run. Maybe the step back into the confessional is just the baby step they need to begin moving forward in faith.

Even the Pope Struggles

Lella, at the Papa Ratzinger forum offers a wonderful collection of questions and answers between the priests of the Diocese of Rome and the Pope.

VATICAN CITY - There were moments of hilarity this morning in the encounter between the Pope and the priests of the Diocese of Rome in their traditional start-of-Lent appointment.

Benedict XVI made some offhand remarks that provoked applause or laughter from his audience, responding to some of the questions placed to him in his second Q&A session with them as Pope. He innovated this practice at their first encounter last year.

Laughter broke out when the pope cited St. Augustine, saying he was 'torn away' from his intended life of meditation and prayer to immerse himself all day in his episcopal tasks and so only had the nighttime left for prayer. But he followed that by saying:

"I must confess a personal weakness. At night, I find it difficult to pray. I just want to sleep," he said to much applause. "Nevertheless, it is really necessary to find some time for the Lord. It's easier said than done, but we must try to spiritualize our work."

You don’t know how much I needed to hear that even Pope Benedict has to struggle with just wanting to crawl into bed sometimes. Actually for me it is more the struggle to crawl out of bed. So put the coffee on! With the help of the virtue of diligence and a little caffeine we will conquer sloth!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Keys to the Kingdom

And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter. We acknowledge and praise God for the teaching authority of the Magisterium. Beginning with St. Peter, each successive Pope, guided by the Holy Spirit, has carried the mantle of this authority. Some have carried it better than others. Each has been burdened with his own set of human frailties.

The office of Pope is not just a titular role to lead the rites and ceremonies of the Vatican. The Pope is the Vicar of Christ. He is the shepherd of the Church. I am not sure that many of us are paying attention to his voice.

We hear sound bites from the mainstream media when the Pope comments on a controversial topic and his words are deemed newsworthy. But our Popes have given us a treasure trove of teaching of which too many Catholics are ignorant. Did you know the Pope offers weekly teachings in his Angelus Address and his General Audience discourse? The Pope speaks to the entire Church, not just to the clergy or learned catechists in academia. The General Audiences, the Angelus Addresses, the Encyclicals, Pastoral Letters and other teaching documents are all available on the Vatican web site. Just look under papal archives.

Pope Benedict XVI is a gifted teacher and I find his writing especially instructive. His first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, can be read over and over with each reading offering new insights.

Now if you are reading Catholic blogs, you have already made at least some commitment to keep yourself abreast of Catholic news and Catholic teaching. Unfortunately, you are in the minority of those sitting in Catholic pews. Our priests need to be referencing these teachings as they speak from the pulpit. Every parish web site should carry a link to the Vatican. Every diocesan newspaper should print at least a summary of one of the papal weekly addresses. We are Roman Catholics. Today as we celebrate the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, let us renew our efforts to stay connected to the one who holds the "keys to the Kingdom".

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

He Loves Me!

Every year Lent seems to develop a theme for me. A couple of years ago when Mel Gibson’s The Passion was hitting the big screen, the concept of redemptive suffering permeated my Lent. As I review a few of last year’s blog entries, God’s mercy and forgiveness was the common thread of my reflections.

Beginning with Pope Benedict XVI’s Lenten message, this year’s Lent is about God’s love.

With a more fervent participation let us direct our gaze, therefore, in this time of penance and prayer, at Christ crucified who, dying on Calvary, revealed fully for us the love of God

Yesterday’s Mass readings pushed the message a little farther. Because of God’s infinite and unfathomable love, we can let go and trust Him. The first reading from the Book of Sirach exhorts us:

Trust God and God will help you; trust in him and he will direct your way;

In our responsorial psalm (Psalm 37) we heard:

Trust in the Lord and do good, that you may dwell in the land and
be fed in security
Take delight in the Lord, and he will grant your heart’s requests.

As I mentioned before, we have started a 40-day family retreat in preparation for total consecration to Jesus through Mary in union with St. Joseph. Yesterday’s retreat readings included this from the Gospel of St. Matthew 6:31-34:

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well. Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.

Do you think God is trying to tell me something? I can be such a worrier. If I am not careful, a whole litany of “What if’s” can crowd my thoughts. But if I really believe John 3:16,
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life,

I can have the confidence that God truly loves me enough to meet my needs. The Incarnation, Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ should make it clear that there is no request of mine that is too great for God’s love.

To paraphrase Sally Fields: He loves me. He really, really loves me!

Catholic Carnival 107 is up!

Writing and reading blogs can be time consuming and more than one blogger has pondered giving it up for Lent. However, Catholic Carnival 107 is sure to set get your Lenten spiritual journey off to a great start. Take a look!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Faith in Phoenix

Well, I took my laptop to Phoenix, but I just never got around to blogging. I did keep reading, but things were busy. First the soccer news: The girls played well and made it to the quarter-finals before being eliminated. This was a very competitive tournament so I think they should be proud of their showing. As an added bonus, the temperature was in the mid 70’s all weekend so our frozen toes actually thawed out for a while. Of course, that did make yesterday’s return to ice and snow a bit brutal.

It was a very busy weekend with four soccer games scheduled for Saturday and Sunday but we did find Mass near our hotel. We went to Sacred Heart Catholic Church in a rather industrial area of Phoenix near the airport. It was a very nice Mass with the baptism of a young boy who looked to be about a year old. The small congregation was predominantly Hispanic and was very pious in the celebration of the Mass. It was clear who the matriarchs of the community were because as young men entered the sanctuary they made a point of greeting and offering a kiss to these women. The priest obviously takes his role as teacher very seriously. Good, solid, basic catechesis accompanied the readings as well as the baptism. After reading the wikipedia article linked above, I learned the church has an historic place in the Phoenix Hispanic community. However, the congregation still struggles financially. I guess the Bishop’s Lenten Appeal is going on in many diocese across the country and even this financially disadvantaged community was asked to make a sizable contribution. Father asked every household in the parish to contribute thirty dollars over the next year. Now thirty dollars over a year doesn’t sound like that much to many of us. I’ve been known to spend that on coffee in just a month. But it was clearly a stretch for many present. And the head of nearly every household present held up his or her hand to receive a donation envelope. Their willingness to give was inspiring.

Please keep the members of this parish in your prayers. They have a strong faith but they also face many struggles.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Enthronement of the Image of the Holy Family

Last night we completed Step 2 in our Family Consecration plan. We enthroned a picture of the Holy Family in our home. We followed the format provided by the Apostolate for Family Consecration. We began with a reading from the Gospel of John 17: 15-19.

I am not asking you to remove them from the world, but to protect them from the Evil One. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. Consecrate them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world, and for their sake I consecrate myself so that they too may be consecrated in truth.

We placed our picture of the Holy Family in a prominent place. We read the Family Covenant with the Holy Family Prayer. Then we prayed a rosary together. Each of us has a copy of the Daily Consecration Prayer to offer each morning.

Most Holy Family, unite my daily life with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Accept all of my spiritual and material possessions as my seed of sacrifice offered to the Sacred and Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, in union with St. Joseph. This shall be my commitment in life, in death, and in eternity. Amen.

Our family retreat begins on February 20. Even if you cannot make the retreat, consider the prayer above as a wonderful morning offering. The destruction of families is leading our culture away from God. The strengthening of families by uniting them with the Holy Family will lead our culture back to God.

Just call me Snowbird

It is truly a singular joy for me to watch my children play soccer. I am off to another soccer tournament this weekend. However, this time there is more to look forward to than just the beautiful game of soccer. We are headed for the warm sunshine of Phoenix. After two days of being snowed in here in Virginia, I am so ready to thaw out.

We are planning on attending either the noon Mass at Sacred Heart parish or the 1PM Tridentine Mass at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish.

Please keep my daughter and her teammates in your prayers. This is a very important opportunity for college coaches to watch them play. Pray that they can play their game for the Glory of God and that all avoid injuries.

Pope John Paul the Great (former soccer goalie) please pray for us!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Welcome New Readers

Somehow I got linked over at Buzzfeed and have been getting quite a few readers from there. Welcome! I am guessing this may not be the kind of blog you are used to. I am Catholic, faithful to the Magisterium, and constantly growing and developing my faith. I invite readers along for the journey. Liberal and conservative are political labels and not really appropriate for discussing Catholicism. You might be interested in what it means to be in communion with the Church. I hope you enjoy your stay at my blog.

New York City Taxes at Work

Leave it to New York to have an official city condom.(Do go to the link and see the video).

If you need to buy flowers or chocolate for your Valentine on Wednesday, you're on your own. The condoms, however, are free courtesy of New York City.

Taking advantage of the holiday for lovers, Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration was to unveil the official city condom in midtown Manhattan, where volunteers were to hand them out free at Fifth Avenue and 50th Street.

The health department's condom program already distributes 1.5 million free condoms each month, but the regular wrapper doesn't allow for tracking the effectiveness of the effort. Officials hope that will change with the new design, which is said to revolve around a subway theme, with different colors for the various train lines.

Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden recently told The Associated Press that the distinctive wrapper will provide the opportunity to include questions about the condom on the city's annual health survey.

Now I guess they are not at all worried about offending the sensibilities of the Catholics in New York. As artificial contraception, not to mention extra-marital sexual activity are expressly forbidden for Catholics, this is definitely an affront to our faith. I wonder if they would be similarly insensitive to Jews and Muslims and hand out the official New York City pork sandwich to those who are hungry.

(H/T to Gerald for the link)

A Love Letter

Today, February 14, as our thoughts turn to love and we share tender thoughts and red paper hearts with those who are special to us, don’t forget the most supreme expression of Love:

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Pope Benedict XVI reminds of this in his 2007 Lenten Message:

Dear brothers and sisters, let us look at Christ pierced in the Cross! He is the unsurpassing revelation of God’s love, a love in which eros and agape, far from being opposed, enlighten each other. On the Cross, it is God Himself who begs the love of His creature: He is thirsty for the love of every one of us. The Apostle Thomas recognized Jesus as “Lord and God” when he put his hand into the wound of His side. Not surprisingly, many of the saints found in the Heart of Jesus the deepest expression of this mystery of love. One could rightly say that the revelation of God’s eros toward man is, in reality, the supreme expression of His agape. In all truth, only the love that unites the free gift of oneself with the impassioned desire for reciprocity instills a joy, which eases the heaviest of burdens. Jesus said: “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself” (Jn 12:32). The response the Lord ardently desires of us is above all that we welcome His love and allow ourselves to be drawn to Him. Accepting His love, however, is not enough. We need to respond to such love and devote ourselves to communicating it to others. Christ “draws me to Himself” in order to unite Himself to me, so that I learn to love the brothers with His own love.

Do read the whole thing.

Since the Pope has made love the theme of his Lenten message, maybe a slow, steady, reflective reading of Deus Caritas Est(God is Love), Pope Benedict XVI’s first encyclical, would be a good start to your Lenten reading. Just read one paragraph a day. I recommend doing this first thing in the morning so the ideas can just percolate through your thoughts all day. Remember, Ash Wednesday is just one week from today! Don’t let Lent catch you by surprise.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Is it Teaching or is it Political Indoctrination?

Andrew Yarrow provides a pathetic tale of one school’s political bias creeping into the elementary social studies lessons. His own fourth-grade son who attends a gifted-and-talented magnet school in suburban Washington DC, was assigned a “Human Values Chart”. Eight supposed contemporary American values were presented in contrast to eight traditional Native American values. So what does this curriculum claim contemporary Americans value?

So, what were some of these values? For "nature," this magnet-school curriculum sheet proclaims Americans believe they "must conquer, dominate, and control nature, as God commanded me to do through Adam, and as is necessary for my survival." Leave aside the environmentally absurd theological sleight-of-hand and the nonseparation of church and state. For at least a generation, poll upon poll and politician after politician have declared it our duty and goal to preserve -- not destroy -- nature, and serve as environmental stewards for future generations.
On "property," my son and his fellow fourth-graders were told Americans' "life goal is to acquire as many material possessions as possible: A good house, several cars, a camper, a motorcycle, a boat, and a swimming pool are things that I'd like my family to have." Again, it is doubtful Junior really would like Mom on a Harley or to vacation in a trailer park. And, while consumerism may have run amok in the last half-century, few Americans would explicitly agree with Michael Douglas' famous line in the movie "Wall Street" that "greed is good."
On child training, despite the kindly 60-year legacy of the late Dr. Benjamin Spock and the more recent legacy of permissive, helicopter parents, the "Values" sheet declares Americans "believe children must be made to feel guilty if bad and must be spanked if necessary." It is doubtful one could convene a quorum of psychologists to say making children feel guilty is good. Moreover, many, if not most, Americans are far from the days when corporal punishment was widely practiced.

Contrast this with the curriculum presentation of Native American ideals:

Once again, aside from the niggling fact that Native Americans, like all Americans, are far from monolithic in their beliefs, the "right" answers were the mostly cuddly, and mostly historically untrue, nonmaterialistic, nature-loving values that supposedly preceded European and African settlement of America.

I bet this school presents the Walt Disney production of Pocahantas as historically accurate too.

Bottom line is read all of your child’s school work. My seventh grade son recently came home with an English assignment involving prefixes and their meaning. For example, contra means against or opposed to. For the prefix homo the teacher gave the word homosexual and as a definition stated it meant two people of the same sex getting married. For the prefix dys she used the word dysfunctional and defined it as a family that fights a lot. Needless to say we had some re-education to do that night.

It's Catholic Carnival Time!

Carnival 106 is up at Sarah's. Lots of good posts for every need and interest. Blessings and thanks to Sarah for hosting this week

God has it figured out--not me!

Yesterday I wrote about the importance of including both the devotional and the active as part of our faith. I must pray, study and reflect, but then I must put my faith into action in the world. Of course, writing that piece was a form of reflection and I began to wonder if I could be doing more of the action thing. I am a reader and a writer so it seems very natural to study and reflect. Prayer gets worked in there too. But I am not so sure I get my hands dirty enough in the action part. It is very easy to write a check and I know it is appreciated. Yet I find it much easier to sacrifice money than to sacrifice time. So I did some praying yesterday in Mass for some guidance.

I was thinking I probably could take some time to do some really deep digging in our closets and get some clothes and coats to our local homeless shelter. Maybe I could figure out one morning a week to volunteer at a food pantry. Of course after Mass I was immediately sucked into the daily grind of managing the household and I took no initiative to look into the “feed the hungry” or “clothe the naked” opportunities. Then last night as we are finishing up the dinner dishes I got a phone call. Our DRE was on the line. It seems that a high school student has just entered the RCIA program and would like to enter the Church at Easter. He has been raised as a fairly nominal Christian. She was wondering if I would be willing to give him some one-on-one teaching to help catch him up with the rest of the RCIA class? I think our DRE has figured out that I don’t know how to say, ”No” to her. Well, I did pray for something else to do. I guess this is an answer to that prayer. To instruct the ignorant is one of the spiritual works of mercy.

Once again I am reminded it is His will not my will that I need to be heeding. I thought I had it all figured out. Then God said, “Go ahead and clean out your closets, but what I really need is for you to teach.” Pray for this young man as he begins this conversion process. And pray that the Holy Spirit will guide me through his instruction.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Almost--- Sigh.

Alas! I was actually nominated but whoever submitted the nomination did not include a category so my blog cannot be considered for an award. Oh well. We'll try again next year. In any case, there are lots of really great blogs that are eligible for awards so go take a look.

Authentic Catholic Charity vs Social Activism

This week the Anglican Communion primates are meeting in Tanzania. It could be one more step towards a formal schism of the communion. The media simplistically paints this as division on the issues of homosexuality. In truth, the division is much deeper. The question is about the reality of sin. The presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church voices her view in this interview published in USA Today.

"It's no longer the social norm to be a Christian," Jefferts Schori says. Her answer isn't to ramp up on orthodoxy but to reach out to all ages and cultures with Christlike social action.

Critics say she equivocates on essential doctrine — the necessity for atonement and the exclusivity of salvation through Christ. They cite interviews in which she has said living like Jesus in this world was a more urgent task than worrying about the next world.

"It's not my job to pick" who is saved. "It's God's job," she tells USA TODAY.

Yes, sin "is pervasive, part of human nature," but "it's not the centerpiece of the Christian message. If we spend our time talking about sin and depravity, it is all we see in the world," she says…

Indeed, asked about her critics, Jefferts Schori doesn't blink. She leans in, drops her voice even lower and cuts to the chase.

She sees two strands of faith: One is "most concerned with atonement, that Jesus died for our sins and our most important task is to repent." But the other is "the more gracious strand," says the bishop who dresses like a sunrise.

It "is to talk about life, to claim the joy and the blessings for good that it offers, to look forward.

"God became human in order that we may become divine. That's our task."

Of note is that the centerpiece of Bishop Jefferts Schori’s message to her flock is the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

Contrast this with the words of Pope Benedict XVI:

“The Misericordias,” he continued, “are the oldest type of volunteer organization to have arisen in the world.” The group, according to its founder was formed, “to give honor to God with works of mercy towards neighbors, with the utmost anonymity and totally without cost,” the Holy Father pointed out.

The Pope reminded the group how, in man’s final encounter with the Lord, “He will ask us if, in the length of our earthy existence, we provided food for the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty; if we welcomed the stranger and opened the doors of our hearts to the needy. In a word, at the final judgment God will ask us if we loved, not in an abstract way, but concretely, with our works.”

Citing St. John of the Cross, he recalled that, “at the end of our lives we will be judged by love,” and continued by affirming that, “love is a language which goes directly to the heart and opens it to faith.”

“I exhort you,” the Holy Father said, “to always be ready to respond when you are asked for the reason for the hope which is with in you.”

The Pope also reflected on the important work the group does in preserving the “Christian roots” of Italy and Europe. The Holy Father affirmed that, “the Misericordias are not an ecclesial aggregation, but that its historical roots are unmistakably Christian.”

To maintain its roots, the Pope emphasized the need for carrying out “periodical moments of qualification and training, to study evermore the human and Christian motives of our activities.”

“The risk,” he added, “is that volunteering can be reduced to a simple activism. If instead the spiritual weight remains vital, you can share with others much more than just the material goods they need, you can offer to your neighbor facing difficulties, the gaze of love which he needs.”

In other words, our good works must be within the context of our Faith. Charitable action divorced from our faith is merely social activism. The time spent in prayer, study, and reflection is essential to our works of mercy. Those who wish to present faithfulness to Scripture and Tradition, recognition of sin, and atonement as diametrically opposed to serving our neighbor are grossly in error.

I would love to think that somehow the primates in Tanzania will see this error and perhaps even think about bridging the Tiber. Unfortunately, those who follow Bishop Jefferts Schori’s ideology seem to control much of the Anglican Communion and certainly the vast majority of The Episcopal Church. Do keep our Anglican brethren in your prayers. There will be much sorrow in their hearts if their divisions cannot be healed.

But also be on guard in our own Church. There are many within our “social justice” ministries that scoff at our Catholic devotions. They see them as a waste of energy and resources. They are willing to compromise Catholic doctrine and teaching in order to relieve earthly suffering. As Lent approaches, let us keep this in mind as we give alms to those in need. Let us offer more than mere social activism. Let us offer authentic Catholic charity.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

A Providential Homily

I don't normally read blogs on Sunday morning before Mass. However, this morning I had a few extra minutes and found myself reading this:

How can we be cursed? Let’s count the ways! We can be cursed with an inattentive spouse, rebellious children, busybody in-laws, impatient creditors, sickly and lazy co-workers, an over-stuffed schedule, a small salary, bad insurance coverage, no retirement plan, insomnia, depression, binge-eating, binge-drinking, another form of emotional illness, another form of addiction, repair bills, tax bills, grocery bills, tuition bills, car payments, house payments, and so on and so on. We can also be cursed with spiritual apathy, a hard heart, a weak will, an easily fooled intellect, a bag of vices and not many virtues, a love of money and all the seven cardinal sins. So, we can be cursed physically, spiritually, intellectually, emotionally, financially, and domestically. And how does this happen? How do we end up cursed? Jeremiah says, “Cursed is the one who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the Lord.” When we expect our blessings to come from the flesh—other people, other flesh—we, in effect, turn from God and look to a creature to give us what only the Father can give: abundant, fertile blessings, everything we need to live and thrive. Blessings may come through other flesh, but they always originate with God—He is the only source, even if one of us might do the heavy lifting.

If I were to ask you to name your blessings, to call out the great things that God has done for you, how many here I wonder would call out: God has blessed me with poverty! God has blessed me with hunger! God has blessed me with mourning and tears! God has blessed me with hateful neighbors who exclude and insult me! How many here could lift up their curses in thanksgiving and praise God for their troubles? Are you prepared to give God thanks for your failures, your diseases, your daily crashes and crippled faith? It is no easy thing to celebrate weakness, destitution, illness, emptiness, and despair. It is no easy thing to lift your eyes to heaven and say, “Thank you for my trials, Lord, thank you for my suffering!”

No doubt you are thinking about now: Father is cracked! He’s gone off the rail and is running on his last rim! Not at all. I’m preaching the gospel. And sometimes that means starting with the strange and racing head-long into the stranger still. Jesus teaches the Twelve that all those we routinely think of as cursed—the poor, the hungry, the mournful, the despised—all of them are, in fact, blessed with riches, satisfaction, laughter, blessed by the Christ of the Father and made holy in their imperfection. Jesus plainly teaches his apostles that on the day we are excluded and insulted and denounced for his name’s sake, we are blessed. And so, on that day we must “rejoice and leap for joy…!” In other words, we must give God praise and thanksgiving for how we have suffered, how we have failed, how we have been injured and diseased. And not only that—we must thank Him for our enemies, for those who made us suffer, for those who injured us or dis-eased us.

This is the Way of Perfection: to surrender to God wholly, entirely, now and forever, your curses and blessings, your health and your death, your goods and all your debts; to submit your strength, your courage, your stamina and grace, all of your mistakes, successes, your warts and your shiny smile, your wallet or purse and checkbooks, your children, grandchildren, and anyone else you love: place them and place yourself under the eternal strength and sheltering love of the Father, trusting and hoping in His Word to us—Christ Jesus—that we are freed in His grace, perfected in His love, and brought to Him in His power and glory. And that no VISA bill, car payment, nosey mother-in-law, surgery, or toothache possesses the power to poison the blessings that come from His hand to your heart, if (if!) you love…and love excessively, wastefully, painfully all that and those you have willed (up to now) not to love. Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is in the Lord!

How providential! This morning's Mass had an audio recording of Bishop Loverde promoting the 2007 Bishop's Lenten Appeal. I know it is never pleasant for either clergy or laity to give/hear fund raising homilies. I understand the necessity of these appeals. I made my pledge to the appeal a couple of weeks ago. But no matter how the homilist tries to tie the quest for funds into the Sunday readings it feels stretched and false. Therefore, I am grateful that I found a real homily for this Sunday.

Thanks to Argent for this most Providential link!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Family Consecration

The Cardinal Arinze podcasts I mentioned in my previous post are produced by the Apostolate for Family Consecration. This is a wonderful ministry seeking to strengthen families in our Catholic faith. They have numerous programs and resources to support your family vocation. As we see the evil that besets the world it is easy to become discouraged. Yet through this apostolate the Church militant is strengthened family by family.

I have a rather ambitious suggestion for Lent. The Apostolate for Family Consecration is all about dedicating your family to the Sacred Heart of Jesus through Mary:

You are about to enter upon the most powerful spiritual adventure for you and your family in your pilgrimage of faith on earth. That adventure is following Pope John Paul II on the journey to union with God through Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary, in union with St. Joseph.

Early in his life, Pope John Paul II made his Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary according to the formula of St. Louis de Montfort. This union with Jesus through His Mother has been the guiding force for his priesthood, episcopate and papacy, giving him the strength and wisdom to have led the universal Church into the Third Christian Millennium of hope. Pope John Paul II is an inspiration to us all at this crossroads in history, and we believe his teachings will go on until the end of time.

This is a four-step process. First there is an online video, The Message of Hope, you watch as a family. Secondly you enthrone an image of the Holy Family in your home. The video, Holy Family image and the ceremony are all available at the consecration web site. Now comes the ambitious part:

Step three is a 40-day family retreat. While you can do this anytime during the year, the Apostolate for Family Consecration will begin a world wide webcast on February 20. Each day there will be a reading and reflection. You can find the podcast on iTunes. Just search the iTunes store for “family consecration”. You can also purchase a book from the family consecration web site for a written version of the retreat. On day thirty-four you make your formal consecration. The remaining six days reflect on this commitment.

Step four is a commitment to life-long faith formation. We can never become complacent in our faith and think we are “good enough”. We must constantly push ourselves to spiritually grow and develop. Go ahead and get started on steps one and two so you will be ready to begin step three on February 20.

Imagine the power of thousands of Catholic families praying together for forty days. It can be life-changing and world-changing.

UPDATE: My family and I just completed the first step, watching the video Message of Hope. If there was any doubt about the value of Family Consecration before we watched the video, we are definitely on board now. Give it a try!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Cardinal Arinze and Leadership

After wallowing in the mire of politics over the last twenty-four hours I need to immerse myself in something morally uplifting. Today I listened to Parts III and IV of Cardinal Arinze’s discussion of Deus Caritas Est. I had listened to it before but there was a section I needed to hear again. Cardinal Arinze discussed the idea of ascending and descending love. Pope Gregory the Great used the imagery of Jacob’s ladder to explain this. We must ascend the ladder towards heaven as we reach for God. Then we descend the ladder to give to others what we have received. If one is to lead others, he must first present himself to God. He must establish a prayer life that lifts him up to God. Moses entered the tabernacle time after time to spend time with God before he led the Israelites.

My oldest is in the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M. He plans to enter the Army when he graduates in a little over one year. Leadership is an integral part of his college education and experience. I had to share Cardinal Arinze’s thoughts with him. If he expects to lead others, he must first present himself to God. He must keep is spiritual life in order if he expects his leadership to be rooted in firm, morally righteous ground. His leadership must be a conveyance of God’s power, not his own.

Perhaps that is why there is so much cynicism associated with the current political scene. We need statesmen who lead not for their own power but for a cause much greater than themselves. Instead we have an overabundance of politicians who are completely focused on popularity and poll numbers.

I highly recommend the Cardinal Arinze podcasts. You can subscribe to them here.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

These People are Defending John Edwards

An organization which call itself Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good sent out the following communiqué to major Catholic writers like Mark Shea and Amy Welborn. (I didn’t get one. I’m still just part of the amateurs. Sigh.)

I saw that you've been covering this story; and wanted to give you a different perspective on it than you’ve seen from some other Catholic groups. While we certainly find some of the writings of those junior staffers repulsive, I think most Catholics have a different take on this. Happy to talk.

Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good Executive Director Alexia Kelley issued the following statement today in response to the controversy over the John Edwards campaign’s hiring of netroots consultants who had made insensitive remarks regarding Catholicism:

"Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good condemns these and all religiously intolerant remarks. We accept Senator Edwards' assurances that he too was offended by comments made by recently-hired staffers and that religious intolerance has no place in his campaign. Catholics comprise more than one quarter of the U.S. public, and neither John Edwards nor any other candidate can afford to take this constituency for granted."

"We hope this unfortunate incident will initiate a deeper conversation on the part of all presidential candidates regarding the broad range of issues and values of primary importance to the Catholic community, including the Iraq War, a concern for the poor, human life and dignity, the availability of health care, and a commitment to the common good."

The director of this group is Alexia Kelly, a former campaign staffer for religious affairs for John Kerry. She covered similar issues for the DNC. Please note that as she lists the broad range of issues and values of primary importance to the Catholic community she conveniently leaves out pro-life issues like abortion, euthanasia, and embryonic stem cell research. A look at their web site shows all the Catholic clergy and religious who represent them. Not exactly a brilliant collection of orthodoxy. I am particularly amused with the bio for Patricia A. Daly, OP. Please note the pearls around her neck. Is there something wrong with a nun wearing a crucifix or a miraculous medal? Oh, wait! That might give away that she is supposed to be Catholic.

Patricia Daly is a Dominican Sister of Caldwell and serves as the Executive Director of the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment, an organization of 35 Catholic Dioceses and Religious Congregations in the NY metropolitan area. Sr. Daly represents these institutional investors to the national Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, a consortium of religious organizations holding more than $110 billion in investments. Sr. Daly engages companies and investors on environmental, social and corporate governance concerns, with a particular focus on global warming.

I am so happy to know that Sr. Daly is ready to take on the evil corporate giants over global warming. I am sure she would be just as tenacious in defending the right to life from conception to natural death. It was just an oversight that wasn’t mentioned.

As far as I can tell this is just another group that has hijacked the name Catholic. Take a look at Mark Shea’s response to them:

Anything less than an immediate firing of these skirted Klansmen is a clear indication the Edwards is utterly unfit for the White House. Don't be whores for this dirtbag. Stop making excuses and demand that he get rid of these clownettes.

In my humble opinion, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good should read Nominal Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good of the Democratic Party.

Then again--Those Catholics really shouldn't have taken offense

John Edwards has decided to keep the vulgar Amanda Marcotte on his campaign staff after all. After it was reported that he was firing her the liberal blogs and other commentary were ferocious in their criticism. They vowed to work against him if he caved in to conservative pressure. I guess it seemed politically astute to offend the segment of the population that wasn't going to vote for him anyway instead of angering the segment that might vote for him. His actions are directed entirely by politics with no regard for what is right and honorable.
John Edwards said Thursday that he was offended by the "intolerant language" of two employees of his presidential campaign, in writings on their personal Web logs, but he said they would remain with the campaign.

"They have both assured me that it was never their intention to malign anyone's faith, and I take them at their word," Edwards, a former U.S. senator from North Carolina, is quoted as saying in a news release. "We're beginning a great debate about the future of our country, and we can't let it be hijacked."

So I am not supposed to be offended when the Catholic Church is referred to as an ancient mythology that justifies misogyny? How overly sensitive of me. As I said yesterday when I first wrote on this, you know a man by the company he keeps.

UPDATE: Welcome to Buzzfeed readers who found my blog from their link.

He Said, She Said

As I perused my daily dose of blogs I found Sarah’s post to be my must-read of the day! It seems those bath crayons given to the kids have found their way to her shower. She and her husband use them to leave notes of information and affection. What a sweet and creative way to keep in touch!

Figuring out how to communicate is such a challenge in any relationship. I don’t know if this is true with all men, but the Y-chromosome members of my household are not very receptive to subtle or even not-so-subtle hints. One of the older boys came home from a youth group meeting and said, “I think this girl was flirting with me. She programmed her phone number into my cell phone.” You think so?! Another time a high school son was perplexed when he got off the school bus. “This girl just keeps talking to me. I answer her questions, but she just keeps talking.” That’s right. She doesn’t care what your answers are. She just wants your attention. Reading the subtext is not one of their strong points.

Of course expecting the subtext to be read is a hindrance to communication as well. Have you ever set up a secret test for someone and then been hurt when they didn’t pass? For example, if he really misses me when he is out of town he should call every night. Now I never explicitly communicate this expectation to him. But if he doesn’t call, I am hurt. How reasonable is that?

I think about this as St. Valentine’s Day approaches. Early in our relationship I had certain expectations. My husband did not. We had what I termed our annual St. Valentine’s Day massacre. I wanted roses, chocolates, and champagne. He thought all the fuss over a day in February was silly. After twenty-three years we have evolved into a comfortable routine. On February 14 we exchange cards and I may make a special meal or dessert. He surprises me with flowers all year long. We remember to say “I love you” many times every day. I’ve learned to tell him what I am hoping for. He’s learned that even if my expectations appear inefficient and redundant to his engineering psyche, it doesn’t hurt to indulge me a little.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

John Edwards Campaign Staffer Alert

Please read this item about the woman John Edwards just hired to supervise his presidential campaign blog. Amanda's Marcotte has a definite bias against religion in general but also has a putrid animosity towards the Catholic Church in particular. Her writings include a piece entitled "FAQ ON THE CATHOLIC CHURCH’S ‘CRAZY’ TEACHINGS ABOUT BIRTH CONTROL". Her comments are too vile for me to put on my blog pages but you can read them at National Review Online As they say, you can tell much about a man by the company he keeps.

(H/T to Gerald for the link)

UPDATE: According to Salon the Edwards campaign has fired blogger Amanda Marcotte. They received a great deal of negative press from bloggers, the Catholic League, and conservative columnists.

(H/T to Argent for the info)

UPDATE II: Tales of Amanda Marcotte's demise have been greatly exaggerated. John Edwards has been assured she meant no offense by her hateful, bigoted, vulgar remarks.

In Communion with the Church

I read this post on Mirror of Justice a couple of days ago and have been mulling a response ever since. Steve Shiffrin addresses a statement from the recent meeting of the US Conference of Catholic bishops, Happy Are Those who are Called to His Supper. This document states those who receive communion must be in communion with the Church. Mr. Shiffrin then asks what does it mean to be “in communion” with the Church. He cites a litany of statistics to illustrate how many American Catholics and priests disagree with Church teaching on morals. He then writes:

What would happen if the Conference made a statement with no wiggle room, maintaining that if you did not agree with the Vatican on all of the issues above and many others, you should not receive the Eucharist (or say mass if you are a priest)? I am uncertain about what the relevant priests would do. But regarding the lay population I suspect a small percentage would stay in the Church and not partake in the Eucharist. Many would leave the Church. And most would simply ignore the Bishops.

I am curious what people think. Assuming their attempts to change minds about morals are for the most part futile, should the Bishops try for a smaller American church filled with people who agree with what they take to be the truth? Could they achieve a church that was homogeneous in belief even if they tried? Why are they not trying for a smaller church? The Vatican won't let them? They don't want it? Alternatively, is the Holy Spirit using the People of God to tell the Bishops something that they do not yet get? Or have the Bishops struck the exact right note?

First of all, statistics about who agrees with Church teachings and who doesn’t agree with Church teachings should serve merely to direct our efforts at catechesis. Molding doctrine and moral teachings to poll results is in the style of the Episcopalians and we can see how this is faring for them.

Secondly, the Church doesn’t ask for agreement but for humble obedience. Therefore, these various statistics are misleading. For example, let’s say a woman cannot quite get her head wrapped around the Church’s teaching on contraception. She is still praying and reflecting on it, but if asked if she personally agreed with it she might say no. However, if in spite of her misgivings she still humbly submits to the Church’s authority and does not use artificial contraception she is still very much in communion with the Church.

The bishops and clergy have a job to present the Truth. They do not adjust the message to manipulate membership numbers or to make the teaching more palatable. Christ himself when declaring that his followers must eat His Body did not back down from the Truth when disciples left saying, “This is too hard.”

These are only my meager thoughts. Robert Araujo, also at Mirror of Justice, has given a much more eloquent response. Please read his entire post but here is a sample:

God has called His people to holiness and to fidelity. What pollsters, interest groups, lobbyists, or individual theologians suggest and argue is nice to know. But, what God asks of us is pretty clear. When we need help to determine what that is, our Holy Mother the Church is there to help. Each person through his or her baptism has a role in evangelizing—going forth to bring the Good News to those who have not heard it. But, ultimately it is up to each of us to accept it or not. That is the free will God has given everyone; it is up to us to exercise it with fidelity. But if we chose not to on any particular occasion through our own insistence that my conscience, right or wrong, is the voice I follow, God will still be there to welcome us home if our sincere intention is ultimately to seek His forgiveness, understanding, and mercy.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Catholic Carnival 105

Head on over to Kicking Over My Traces for Catholic Carnival 105. As always there is great variety in the posts. I am sure you will find something that strikes a chord. I am partial to Jay's post on Praying for our Priests.

Blogging in a Vacuum

For the last couple of weeks site meter has been lagging terribly. Today it is the worst it has been. Right now it says it is over 900 minutes behind. I didn't realize how much I depended on the site meter numbers to feel connected with the blogging community. I can watch the numbers go up during the day and know that I am really sharing my thoughts with someone. Fortunately, enough folks are leaving comments that I can tell readers are still out there. However, I will be glad when their system is back up and running. I like the feedback of knowing a particular piece resonated and was shared with many.

A Gadget Worth Having

I am always a bit leery of gadgety kitchen appliances. (Remember the Salad Shooter?) So often they just take up room in the cupboard because it is not worth the effort to use and clean them. One appliance that has become a mainstay of my kitchen, however, is my bread maker. In fact, mine is used so often that my second son was amazed that his dorm kitchen wasn’t stocked with one. He has remedied that and now has an inexpensive model to impress his buddies with pizza dough and cinnamon rolls.

Part of the reason I get such good use out of my bread maker is that I have the right cookbook. Bread Machine Magic by Linda Rehbrg and Lois Conway has been used so much that I had to buy a second copy since my first one was literally falling to pieces.
I have also rejected the notion that my bread maker is for baking bread. Oh, it makes some lovely loaves of bread. But the real value is the dough making function. I make pizza dough, cinnamon rolls, calzones, French bread baguettes and all kinds of dinner rolls. Once you have homemade whole wheat hamburger buns it is nearly impossible to go back to the store bought variety. Making the dough in the bread maker means minimal prep and mess in the kitchen. The only effort goes into shaping the dough into the final product.

My husband did all the research and bought a Zojurushi brand machine for me. I love it. It helps to have a quality bread maker if you do plan on baking loaves in the bread machine. However, for making dough I have found an inexpensive model works quite well.

Here is my Cinnamon Roll recipe taken from Bread Machine Magic.


3/8 cup milk
3/8 cup water
1 egg
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 Tbsp butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 ½ tsp yeast

Place all ingredients in the bread pan, select Dough setting, and press Start.

(I told you making dough is easy!)


Basic Sweet Dough

5 Tbsp melted butter
½ cup brown sugar

1 Tbsp melted butter
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp brown sugar

Pour the melted butter for the glaze into one 9x13x2-inch pan or two round cake pans; sprinkle with brown sugar.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into an 8x14 inch rectangle

For the filling, brush the melted butter on the dough. In a small bowl, combine the granulated sugar, cinnamon, and brown sugar; sprinkle over dough. Starting with long edge, roll up dough; pinch seams to seal. With a knife, lightly mark roll into 12 even sections. Slide a 12-inch piece of dental floss or heavy thread underneath. By bringing the ends of the floss up and crisscrossing them at the top of each mark, you can cut through the roll by pulling the strings in opposite directions. Place rolls cut side up in prepared pan. Cover and let rise in a warm oven 30-45 minutes. (Hint: To warm oven slightly, turn oven on Warm setting for 2 minutes then turn if off and place covered dough in oven to rise. Remove pans from oven to preheat)

Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Bake 25 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and immediately invert rolls onto a large platter or serving dish.

Now I like my rolls a bit smaller so I roll the dough into about a 20-inch rectangle and cut it into 24 rolls.

Once you have put the rolls into the prepared pan(s) you can cover them with foil and freeze. The night before you plan to serve them for breakfast, take them out of the freezer and leave them on the counter, still covered, so they can thaw and rise. When you get up in the morning they are ready to just pop in the oven. These frozen, unbaked rolls make a great hostess or housewarming gift.


Yesterday as I was leaving Mass I saw Father out in the parking lot wearing only his alb in spite of the frigid weather. He was busy sprinkling holy water both inside and outside of someone’s new car. I guess I never thought to do that with any of the cars we have owned. Now that my kids are driving it sounds like a great idea!

It got me to thinking about our tradition of sacramentals and having items we use blessed .I did get a supply of candles blessed for Candlemas. I try to have any rosaries, Bibles, or religious pictures I give as gifts blessed before I present them. I know many people get their homes blessed. Why do we do that?

This is from my son’s CCD book, The Life of Grace from the Faith and Life Series, Ignatius Press(highly recommended, by the way):

Sacramentals help us to be ready to receive grace and cooperate with it. They give us grace by the prayer of the Church and our own cooperation.

What about you? How do you use sacramentals and blessed items? I think it would be fun to see what items people like to have blessed.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Housekeeping Meme

Rosemary tagged me for the Housekeeping meme. Housekeeping is definitely not my strong suit, but here goes.

Aprons- Y/N- If I am going to be cooking a lot, for example getting ready for a party, making Christmas cookies, Thanksgiving dinner, etc. Also, if I am doing a major pick up session since I love the big pockets of an apron for putting change, toys, etc found out of place in one room and and carrying them to their proper destination.

Baking-- Favorite thing to bake: Christmas cookies. Probably because almost anything done in the Christmas spirit is fun, but also because my family is so happy when I bring out their favorite varieties. Each family member has his own personal favorite.

Clothesline- Y/N: No. I am very happy to pop things in the dryer.

Donuts-- Have you ever made them? No. I do make homemade cinnamon rolls that are a real hit. Making the dough in the breadmaker makes them a relatively easy treat. If I am really industrious I will make batches up ahead of time and put them in the freezer. You then just take them out the night before, let them thaw and rise on the kitchen counter, and in the morning they are ready to just pop in the oven. A pan of these unbaked, frozen, pre-made rolls is one of my favorite food gifts to give.

One homemaking thing you do every day—Dishes! Of course I usually cook dinner too. Oh, and make my bed. Kids are responsible for their own. Wish I could say they always made it.

Freezer-- Do you have a separate deep freeze? We have a freezer in the garage. It is an upright freezer not the chest type that I usually connect with the term deep freeze.

Garbage Disposal-- Y/N? Yes

Handbook—For recipes I go to Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Anything. For everything else I just do a Google search.

Ironing--Love it or hate it? Hate it. I tend to iron as needed. The kids and my husband iron their own clothes as needed as well.

Junk drawer--Y/N? Where is it? One drawer in the kitchen holds all sorts of miscellaneous stuff but I try to keep everything in little trays so we can see what is in there.

Kitchen: Design and decorating? We just moved into our home about 2 ½ years ago. The kitchen is very large and roomy and was well decorated when we moved in. I love the granite island in the center. However, I would like to get solid surface counter tops (they’re Formica laminated counters now) and remove the pink and blue striped wallpaper and paint the walls a bold burgundy. Since we are soon to have our third child in college as well as many other spending priorities, that dream is on hold.

Love: What is your favorite part of homemaking? Definitely cooking.

Mop Y/N: Yes, but probably not as often as I should.

Nylons:Wash by hand or in the machine?: washing machine in a mesh bag.

Oven: Do you use the window or open the door to check? I open the door.

Pizza-- What do you put on yours? My favorite has homemade pesto sauce made from the basil I grow on our deck in the summer. Then I add shrimp, tomatoes, mushrooms, and artichoke hearts. I make a whole wheat pizza crust. (again, using my breadmaker for the dough)

Quiet-- What do you do during the day when you get a quiet moment? Blog, pray, read a newspaper (We get the Washington Post and the Washington Times every day), work the crossword, read a novel, etc. Actually most of my non-internet reading is done as I shuttle kids and wait for them at their activities.

Recipe Card Box Y/N? Yes, but my favorite recipes are copied into a little recipe book. I have had to buy a new book and recopy many of the recipes since the old one was becoming dangerously fragile. In our numerous military moves, that recipe book is one of the items we carry ourselves and don’t trust the movers to transport.

Style of house: Typical Northern Virginia Colonial

Tablecloths and napkins? I keep a vinyl tablecloth on the kitchen table to ease clean up and we use paper napkins.

Under the kitchen sink-- organized or toxic wasteland? I wouldn’t call it a toxic wasteland but it is not as organized as it could be. If it is for cleaning, it is probably stored there.

Vacuum-- how many times per week? Once if I am lucky for much of the house. However, I have a Roomba which I try to use regularly for the kitchen, dining room and entryway. Believe me, it really works! If they ever find one that does stairs, it will be a must have.

Wash-- How many loads of laundry do you do in a week? I personally do about four loads, but the family probably does ten loads per week.

X's-- Do you keep a daily list of things to do and cross them off? No. I’ve tried, but I can’t keep up with the list.

Yard-- Who does what? I am responsible for all the flower beds and the big perennial garden that covers most of our back yard. I do often engage the muscles of my sons and husband for heavy tasks. We pay for a lawn service to take care of edging, mowing, and whatever else they have to do to keep the weeds and critters under control.

Zzz's--What is your last homemaking task for the day before going to bed? I turn off lights and check the doors. However, at Rosemary’s suggestion I looked into the Flylady. Wow! Her methods deserve their own blog post! So for the last few days I’ve been cleaning the kitchen sink before I go to bed. You know it really works!

It looks like most of my favorite homemakers have already been tagged, so I am going to just open this up to everyone. If you want to have a go at this meme, consider yourself tagged!