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 J├Ągerst├Ątter

Friday, June 29, 2007

English and Latin Hymn Meme

Since I am talking about liturgical music, I will respond to this tag by Mrs. Jackie Parkes

Top Six Latin Hymns:

O Salutaris Hostia
Tantum Ergo
Stabat Mater Dolorosa
Salve Regina
Adoro Te Devote
Ubi caritas

Top Six English Hymns:

Immaculate Mary (Lourdes Hymn)
Jesus Christ is Risen Today
Hail Holy Queen Enthroned Above
Holy God We Praise Thy Name
Crown Him With Many Crowns
Faith of Our Fathers

Okay, anyone else who wants to play, please join in!

On a more positive note...

Here is a beautiful post from Fr. Dwight Longenecker that puts the Mass in perfect perspective. It is a needed antidote after a bit of ranting on liturgical music. Even when the music, the architecture, the homily, or something else about a Mass is less than ideal, the Truth of the Mass cannot be overshadowed.

I robed and walked in with the server and the deacon with a plea for forgiveness on my lips and an awareness that I was feeling weak and tired and I really had nothing to offer at all except my time. Then at the heart of the Mass was a tremendous silence. The liturgy of the Church was waiting to welcome me. Not my words, not my wisdom, not my clever thoughts, but the Word of God, the gospel of Christ and the liturgy of Holy Mother Church to gather me up and bear me along. I looked out at the faces of the faithful---nearly a hundred people who had turned up--were waiting for God, waiting for his Word, waiting for his presence. It was too much, and I felt quite overwhelmed by it all.

I needed to read this as I will be headed south to Virginia Beach this weekend and will be attending Mass in the Diocese of Richmond. In spite of the quirky innovations for which this diocese is famous, I will still hear His Word and receive Our Lord in the Eucharist.

A Little Rant

This week’s Arlington Catholic Herald has a front-page article on liturgical music. However, the title “Something for Everyone” tells you pretty quickly this is not an exploration of the rich musical heritage of the Catholic Church. This was not a discussion of the growing use of chant in area Masses. No, this was a happy-clapppy celebration that any kind of music is fine for the liturgy. Rock On!

Here is my written response:

As a regular reader and writer of Catholic internet blogs, I know that nothing will get the comments flowing like a discussion of Catholic liturgical music. Unfortunately, our Catholic musical heritage has been cast aside by many parishes following Vatican II. Your front-page article perpetuated the notion that “full and active participation” means the congregation must be singing along. This is erroneous. “Full and active participation” means the congregation must be fully present to the Mysteries of the Mass. The congregation should focus on the Mass rather than on personal pieties like praying the Rosary during Mass. Periods of silence do not mean the congregation is not participating. In fact, both Pope Benedict XVI and Francis Cardinal Arinze, Prefect of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, have spoken of the importance of sacred silence during Mass.

Tom Schafer from St. Bernadette Church was correct when he emphasized the importance of music as prayer. The liturgical music is never supposed to be a performance or a concert. It should inspire prayer, not applause. That is why it is preferable that musicians be located in a choir loft or to the side of the sanctuary if at all possible. Musicians must augment the Mass not distract from it.

In June 2006, Pope Benedict XVI called for an updating of sacred music that reflects the tradition of the Church: "This is why in the musical field, as well as in that of other artistic forms, the ecclesial community has always promoted and supported those who investigate new expressive ways without rejecting the past, the history of the human spirit, which is also the history of its dialogue with God."

Catholic Carnival 125 is waiting for you!

I'm a bit late getting this up, but do go take a look at this week's Catholic Carnival. Jen at Daughter of the King has done a wonderful job pulling together a collection of posts on "prayers, priests, and politics".

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Pondering Pigs

Hurray for CBS and Fox television networks. They refused to run this ad for Trojan condoms Of course, Planned Parenthood is upset that the networks won’t run an ad suggesting it is a great idea to have sex with a man you just met in a bar—provided he is using a Trojan condom.

Dawn Eden has a lively discussion of this going on at her site.

As the mother of three sons and one daughter I have my own perspective.

I think this commercial is incredibly sexist. Any woman who is sitting in a bar, looking for a sexual hook-up, and whose only concern is whether or not her prospective partner has a condom fits right in with the porcine crowd. It is not just men who can be pigs.

Can nice men and women meet in bars? Sure they can. Usually it is through mutual friends getting together at a favorite watering hole. Men cruising the bars and picking up women with bulging cleavage and hiked up skirts is an activity more akin to mud wrestling and is the proper purview of pigs—male and female. If you don’t want to meet pigs, don’t hang out at the pig pen.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

This is an easy "No Way!" for me

Speaking of parenting, there is one high school graduation ritual my kids will not be part of: Beach Week.

Far from the tiny campus of Sidwell Friends in Northwest, graduates found themselves in the custody of Rehoboth Beach police.

In all, there were 33 arrests, 25 of them are 18 to 19 years old, 8 are juveniles. And instead of spending Friday on the beach, they all went to court facing charges of underage possession of alcohol.

Officers arrested 33 people at a party on Philadelphia Street Thursday night. The headmaster at Sidwell Friends said he recognized some of the names as students who graduated this month.

After graduation, hordes of new high school graduates hit the beach for a week of sun, surf, booze, and sex, courtesy of Mom and Dad’s generous funding. Many parents focus on the sun and surf and conveniently ignore the booze and sex. I know the kids will be off to college in a matter of months and the temptations will be there. Yet, things like classes, clubs, and sports on the college campus offer an alternative to unfettered hedonism. Beach Week is nothing but a bacchanalian romp. Working on a tan is what the kids do when they are too hung over to move. The point of Beach Week is to see how high you can keep your steady state blood alcohol level, how many sexual encounters you can have, and how many stupid things you can do and live to tell about them. I used to work in an urgent care clinic on a Florida beach. I've seen the alcohol driven idiocy up close and personal. It is not a pretty sight.

So what is a parent thinking when he sends a child into such an environment? Is it really a reward to send your children into a den of iniquity? Is it reasonable to endorse a week where staying out of jail, not getting pregnant, not getting an STD, and not ending up in the local emergency room are marks of success? You would never suggest to your child that he go play dodge-the-cars on the freeway. Why would you suggest he go play dodge-the-consequences at Beach Week?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Parents Pay for Parenting

In light of my earlier post, I found this news article interesting:

While the Freddie Bell James school - named for D.C. socialite and professional etiquette consultant Freddie Bell Jones, Thomas' grandmother-in-law - does not teach morals, "we do teach values," Thomas said.

"It's the small things," Thomas continued, "Like when you're at a grocery store, putting the shopping cart back instead of leaving it in the parking lot. Or knocking before you enter a room, or saying 'please' and 'thank you.' When you borrow something, returning it in the same condition. Respecting other people's opinions.

"It's about having integrity. They're not 'save the world' changes, but they're courtesies, and that makes a difference."

I wonder how much parents are paying someone else to teach their children to say "please" and "thank you".

I thought I was a little bit edgier than that!

Online Dating

Is Paying Parents the Answer?

This morning’s Washington Times ran this column by Bill O’Reily. He reports on a move in New York City to bribe bad parents to do what is right for their kids:

Now there is a move in New York City to bribe bad parents. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has set up an anti-poverty initiative, financed by private donations, including his own, that would pay bad parents to do things that good parents do without thought.

For example, if a parent takes a child to the dentist for a checkup, that parent would get $100 for each kid the dentist sees.

If a parent secures a library card for the child, that warrants a $50 payment.

Attending parent-teacher conferences, another $50.

The program would also give money to kids who perform well in school.

Under Bloomberg's initial offering, 13,000 poor families would be eligible to get the cash, which could add up to $6,000 a year.

Is this really the level to which our society has descended? We now have to pay parents to be parents? Unfortunately, I don’t think this would make a bit of difference in my community. You can read about the parenting issues in my neck of the woods here. We have an abundance of mothers and fathers who have abdicated their roles as parents, but money will not motivate better behavior. Everywhere you look you see families who are materially wealthy but morally bankrupt. My daughter went on a school sponsored overnight trip. The one girl who had just received a jaguar for her birthday tried to steal the hotel pillows. Other girls on this trip loudly proclaimed it was too boring to have a boyfriend and not have a sexual relationship. Girls showed up to an awards banquet looking like they had put on their slips but forgotten to put their dresses on. The list of such examples is endless. How do the parents of these kids respond? They just give a sheepish grin, shake their heads, and say, “kids will be kids”.

Faced with this sort of parenting, it is understandable that schools try to fill the gap and provide formation in areas that have no business being taught in schools—sex education being the primary example. It becomes very frustrating for those of us who still act like parents to have to convince the school to let us do our jobs.

Much of this stems from the feminist movement that tried to convince us that taking care of children was somehow inferior to career success. Wanton consumerism tells us that two incomes are necessary for the lifestyle that we deserve. Being a parent is seen as creating the right image—the perfect Christmas card—rather than as a valuable lifetime vocation. Kids are just an acquisition—like the “right” car, or a house in the “right” neighborhood.

I don’t have any great answers. I can’t claim to be a perfect parent. I just know I am on my knees praying for the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit to get me through the next parenting challenge. I am so grateful for the other parents who are kneeling alongside of me. I wish a few more would join us.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Garden Survivors

The battles continue in my garden. The bunny remains at large. A groundhog had joined forces with him. In fact this groundhog had established a bunker just outside my front door. My oldest son, with all the cunning of Wile. E. Coyote, has been setting traps for my furry adversaries. The groundhog became a prisoner on Friday. He was transported to a local park several miles away. I am hoping he is not equipped with a sophisticated homing device.

In spite of these enemy assaults, some plants in my perennial garden are thriving.

Daisies! I have an abundance of daisies. I was supposed to have a variety of coneflowers joining the daisies, but the coneflowers were too tempting to the enemy. Apparently my daisies are not as appetizing. They do make lovely bouquets.

This is a John Paul II cultivar of clematis. I am so happy because I planted this three years ago and this is the first year it has bloomed. I think it is because I learned to properly trim the ends to stimulate blooming.

Every year I buy two or three Easter lilies to decorate the inside of the house. Then after Easter I put them in the garden. This year most were nibbled to a nub but this little clump survived.

This blue speedwell is another survivor

This lone coreopsis bravely blossoms

A clump of lavender and a large catnip bush provide some herbal flowers.

I love the colors of the red monarda (bee balm), hybrid lilies, and blue monkshood

Finally,these hydrangeas are beautifully filling vases in my home.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Pray For Us

Asia News has this very distressing report from China.

Next July 16th pilgrims and faithful from Henan will not be allowed to go on pilgrimage to the sanctuary in Tianjiajing. The government from the province of Henan has in fact decreed that the historic sanctuary dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel will be blown up with dynamite; a complete ban on Catholics organizing their annual pilgrimage; a complete ban on any religious gathering or function being celebrated in the area. A statue of the Virgin, over one hundred years old, is destined to be destroyed along with 14 stations of The Way of the Cross which punctuate the entrance to the shrine…

Faithful from the diocese of Anyang have launched an appeal through AsiaNews: “We ask all our brothers and sisters in the Lord – they say – to pray for us and spread our message to all the faithful of the world”.

Once again we are reminded of how difficult it is for many of the world’s Catholics to freely practice their faith. Yet in the face of great personal risks they do not abandon the Church.

Let us pray. May the intercession of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, St. Therese of Lisieux, and St. Teresa of Avila bring strength and consolation to these persecuted Catholics.

Off to Work Camp They Go!

Today my daughter will join 500 other teens for a week at the Diocesan Work Camp. They will be repairing homes of the needy in rural Orange, Virginia. They will give up their cell phones, iPods, and other electronic devices for an entire week. My older boys also participated in this program and found it to be extremely valuable. I think it is so important for young people to put a human face on the poor and needy. They need to see beyond the name of the charitable organization to which they donate money. They need to look into the eyes of those in need and see Christ. In addition to doing construction projects, the work campers will spend their evenings attending Mass, in Eucharistic Adoration, going to Confession, and listening to many inspiring speakers. Our bishop, Bishop Loverde, wrote a nice reflection on this project in this week’s Catholic Herald.

This is not always easy. The youth of today confront enormous pressures — pressures I could not even imagine when I try to compare them with my own childhood. Today, our youth face the temptations of materialism, drugs, alcohol, pornography and physical intimacy, to name but a few. Yet by their courageous and faith-filled lives, they exhibit great hope. Next week, this inspiring group of young people will build not only ramps and walls, but solid foundations for lives committed to Jesus Christ, and to all those He came to reveal divine mercy and love, especially to the poor and the needy.

Please keep these young people in your prayers.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Catholic Carnival 124 is in full bloom!

Sarah has done an absolutely amazing job with Catholic Carnival 124 this week. Using a garden motif she is presenting an absolutely gorgeous bouquet of posts. Go and take it all in!

Adult Religious Education Bleg

Amy Welborn is writing a study guide to accompany the new book on the Apostles written by Pope Benedict XVI. It sounds perfect for an adult education program. There will be twelve sessions, one for each Apostle, and each session study guide will include an opening prayer, questions for discussion, questions for reflection, and a closing prayer. This of course brings me back to my never-ending quest to establish meaningful adult education in our parish. While it would be wonderful to have our priests provide all the education we need, the truth of the matter is they do not have the time. So books with study guides, video programs, and audio programs that can be easily implemented as adult ed programs by volunteer catechists are essential.

This brings me to my question for you:

What pre-packaged adult education programs have you participated in that you thought were especially useful and enjoyable?

They need to inspire discussion but not be so nebulous that the program becomes the blind leading the blind. They need to be faithful to the Magisterium. The series on Keeping Your Kids Catholic that I have linked on the sidebar is an example of a book with study guides program that I enjoyed. I am especially interested in programs that address family issues, Church history, and apologetics.

Thanks for your help!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Kitchen Madonna Apron Give Away

Kitchen Madonna, that undeniable queen of the kitchen apron, wants to give you one of her beautiful apron creations. Leave a comment on the post linked above and convince our dear KM that you deserve the lovely Stella Maris apron. You can see her full line of aprons here. I own the very beautiful and rather demure “Elisabetta Has Espresso with Eloise” but I think I will be needing to add something a bit more daring to my apron wardrobe. Elisabetta Digs the Daisies may be next on my list.

Driving Home a Few Points

I’ve been thinking about driving quite a bit lately. First of all, we have five drivers in the house and three vehicles. This means I am doing a bit of advanced logistical planning to make sure everyone has a way to summer school, soccer practice, work, piano lessons, Scouts, and social events. And I thought our pace of activities would slow a bit once school was out!

However, what really concerns me is having my three oldest children out and about in DC metro traffic. Anyone who has ever driven in this area knows that a great many of the drivers view traffic laws as mere suggestions and assume these rules do not apply to them. It is necessary to be ever vigilant and on guard. As an experienced driver, I find driving around here challenging. For the inexperienced it can be fatal. This is especially true when alcohol is involved. Once again our community has suffered its annual graduation party tragedy.

And so the defining image of the 2007 graduation season will be a white convertible Volkswagen Cabriolet, upside down, its roof gone, and four young lives gone with it. Two 18-year-old West Potomac graduates and two George Mason University students were killed late Thursday when their car suddenly veered into the path of a tractor-trailer on a ramp from the Capital Beltway. A fifth teenager, a 17-year-old West Potomac student, was hospitalized after being cut out of the wreckage. She was released yesterday afternoon, authorities said.

I must be clear that the accident investigation is still ongoing and there has been no evidence released that the driver was drinking. However, alcohol was found in the car and none of the five occupants of the car were of legal drinking age.

I wish I could say I have the answer to stop the senseless loss of life in auto accidents by teens. I don’t. Rich Leonardi reflects on this as well.

Unfortunately, if anyone suggested bumping back the legal driving age by one year, every cheap labor-dependent retailer from here to Bentonville, Arkansas would flood the nation's statehouses with lobbyists offering statistics about how much safer teen-driving is than, say, teen chainsaw-juggling.

I do have some suggestions.

1. Be an uncool parent. Know where your kids are going, with whom they are going, and what they are doing. Make them check in when they change locations. Have them home by midnight. Nothing good happens after midnight. Wait up for them so they know they will have to face you when they walk in the door.

2. Do not buy your teen a sporty car. If you buy a car that looks like it belongs on the NASCAR circuit your teen will drive it like a racecar driver. All of my teens have driven the family minivan. It doesn’t get many style points, but it doesn’t tempt them to imitate Jeff Gordon either.

3. A driver’s license is a privilege, not a right. You, not the state, determines when your child is old enough to drive. My rule: boys do not get a license until their Boy Scout Eagle project is done. That means my oldest was a high school senior and my next one was a high school junior before they got their licenses. My daughter was also seventeen and a junior. Even once they have their license, driving privileges can be revoked. In Virginia, I can just call the DMV and with no justification other than my parental preference my child’s license will be suspended for six months. The credible threat of such a phone call makes a very big impression.

4. The state of Virginia says teens must have their license for one full year before they can drive after midnight, carry more than one passenger or use a cell phone while driving—including one with a hands-free option. If these are not your state laws, make them your parental laws.

5. Light a candle, get your Rosary out, and pray. In spite of everything you say and do, teens can and do make mistakes. My oldest totaled his car at college a few months ago. He replaced it once he came home for the summer. I made sure he had our parish priest bless his new car. Sometimes seatbelts, air bags, and prudent driving habits are not enough.

In addition to my suggestions, the Vatican has offered a few tips for motorists.

"Cars particularly lend themselves to being used by their owners to show off, and as a means for outshining other people and arousing a feeling of envy," it said.

It urged readers not to behave in an "unsatisfactory and even barely human manner" when driving and to avoid what it called "unbalanced behavior ... impoliteness, rude gestures, cursing, blasphemy ..."

Praying while driving was encouraged.


I drove to New Jersey for a soccer tournament this past weekend. I wish several of the drivers I encountered along I-95 as well as the New Jersey Turnpike had seen this Vatican document before they took to the road. I found my travels this weekend were a definite challenge to my virtue of patience and constituted a near occasion of sin! Prayer was a necessity.

Friday, June 15, 2007


Does anyone else see a problem with this?!

Planned Parenthood Reports Record Abortions, High Profits

By Randy Hall Staff Writer/Editor
June 15, 2007

( - Despite a drop in donations and the first fall in income from clinics in its history, the nation's biggest abortion provider made a high profit last year, thanks to the American taxpayer. Pro-lifers want this to stop.

During its 2005-2006 fiscal year, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America performed a record 264,943 abortions, attained a high profit of $55.8 million and received record taxpayer funding of $305.3 million.

Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

"I promise you in the excessive mercy of my Heart that my all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the First Fridays in nine consecutive months the grace of final perseverance; they shall not die in my disgrace, nor without receiving their sacraments. My divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment" (Jesus to St. Margaret Mary).

Today is the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Did you know that in 2002, Pope John Paul II declared that on this feast day the Church would pray for the sanctification of priests?

Take some time today to reflect on the infinite love and mercy pouring forth from Christ's heart and repent for the times we have wounded this Sacred Heart with our sins. Then offer a special prayer for our priests that they may reflect Christ's boundless love through their holy lives and faithful service.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Conversion Story--Sort of

I have been asked a couple of times how I made the transition from casual cafeteria Catholic to a faithful-to-the-Magisterium Catholic. It is easy to say it was by the grace of God, which is true, but the question begs more of an answer than that. A few more details and the answer still seems incomplete. Browsing through the Catholic blogosphere, one finds numerous blogs written by converts. Et Tu by Jen, Happy Catholic by Julie D., and The Dawn Patrol by Dawn Eden are some of my favorites. A common characteristic in these blogs is the inclusion of a conversion story. I am truly in awe of converts because they had to make the very bold decisive move to become Catholic. As a cradle Catholic, my “conversion” has been much more subtle. Over many years I gradually moved from being a passive observer of faith to an active seeker of faith. I cannot point to any event that triggered a great epiphany. I can point to many little nudges that pushed me to fully embrace Catholicism.

I started out with a good baseline. I grew up in a Catholic family. I went to a Catholic high school. Mass was part of every significant event in my life. Just as a convert to Catholicism must make a definitive choice to join the Church, it would have been a radical choice to call myself anything but Catholic. It was as much a part of my identity as brown eyes. But in some ways, that is how I looked at it. Just as I didn’t have to do anything to keep my eyes brown, I didn’t see anything I had to do to keep myself Catholic. I went to Mass every Sunday and even some weekdays, but I hadn’t really integrated my faith into my personal and professional life.

College was definitely not a time for strengthening my faith. The Catholic student center was all about getting an emotional response. The music, the liturgy, the retreats were all about fellowship with each other and getting that warm fuzzy feeling. The “liturgy director” was very vocal about tearing down any semblance of a traditional Catholic liturgy. I once stopped by the center in the evening and was surprised to find some sort of service going on. As I peeked in I saw the sanctuary was full of young men with close- cropped beards. I figured out later that the liturgy director was using the student center to run a gay ministry. In many ways I felt more comfortable when I attended the high church Episcopal service at the very traditional looking Episcopal Church across the street. But I just couldn’t let go of that Catholic identity.

Once I started medical school my faith got a good swift kick in the pants. Becoming a doctor either thrusts you to your knees or convinces you, you are God. For me it was the former. I truly felt dwarfed and humbled by the sheer immensity and gravity of medicine. As a doctor I was invited to impact the lives of others in a most profound and intimate way. I felt so inadequate. Our medical discussions of bioethics seemed so shallow. I was searching for a moral authority greater than professor who presented everything in relative terms. About this time, Pope John Paul II was making himself seen and heard in a way that no Pope before him had ever done. I was seeing him call Catholics to a Catholicism that was something more than an activity occurring within the church walls on Sundays. I was discovering that my Catholic identity required a Catholic response. Rather than feeling constricted, I felt liberated. My medical reasoning was moored to something solid and unchanging. I also learned to pray as I saw patients and performed procedures. Viewing myself as the instrument of God’s healing power strengthened my diagnostic and therapeutic abilities. Even though I rarely mentioned God to my patients, I knew I was involved in His work and ministry.

Marriage and children gave another nudge to my Catholic faith. My husband was raised as an Episcopalian, but we both knew we needed a united faith life for our family. He didn’t feel like he left the Episcopal Church for Catholicism as much as the Episcopal Church left him. He had been raised to believe in the True Presence in a high Episcopal church so it really wasn’t much of a stretch to swim the Tiber. We attended Mass every Sunday, put our donation in the collection plate, made sure the children were baptized, and appeared to be just a regular Catholic family. However, I would also say we were pretty complacent about being Catholic. Three kids in 3 ½ years, my beginning medical career in the Air Force, his beginning career as an Air Force pilot all pretty much overshadowed any initiative to deepen our faith.

Then came Desert Storm. We had three children, ages 4, 3, and 1. We were both active duty. My husband deployed in January of 1991. I was on standby to deploy. My mother had to come live with me because I had to be ready to leave with only a few hours notice. I was an emotional wreck. My husband was flying F-16 combat missions over Iraq. I was at risk of being called away from my kids. I just felt like I was losing my grasp on everything I loved. I began praying the Rosary daily. Of course, I prayed for my husband’s safety, but I also found myself praying for the ability to accept whatever God had in store for me. That willingness to surrender to God’s will was pure grace. I would say that those months of Desert Storm were as close to a dramatic life-changing event as anything else that has ever happened to me. I was never called to deploy, but I was spiritually ready. It turned out that this was a time of deepening faith for my husband as well. He returned home on Sunday, March 17, 1991. I picked him up at the hangar early that morning. I had attended Mass the night before, thinking that he would be in no condition to go to church after flying home on the transport aircraft. Yet to my surprise, he was adamant that he get to Mass that Sunday morning. It was a very emotional experience. I guess we had both seen how transient this earthly world is and how important it is to keep reaching for the eternal. After Desert Storm, it was so much easier to talk to each other about faith and how our faith impacted our family decisions. It was no longer something relegated to its own compartment, but something becoming more and more integrated in our lives.

In the years that have followed we added one more child and had multiple military moves bouncing from East coast to West Coast to the Deep South to the Midwest and back to the East Coast. Every location has had its own unique set of opportunities and its own unique set of challenges. We have found over and over again that by keeping Christ and His Church as our center, as our touchstone, we have been able to maintain our balance in this topsy-turvy world. The challenge is to never feel like we are “good enough” Catholics. I think the military lifestyle of frequent moves strengthened our family bonds since our little domestic church is the one constant in an ever-changing environment. As a family, we push each other to reach the next level of faith. We are still learning and still growing in our faith. If I were going to summarize our family guiding philosophy it would be let our actions in this world be guided by our focus on living with Christ in the next world. The best way to maintain that focus is through Christ’s own One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Magisterium and Authority

I started to write a response in the comments of my previous post, and the response grew to such an extent I decided to just make it another post.

This is in response to Pat, who comments about the authority of the Magisterium:

Re faithfulness to the magisterium - personally I am faithful to God, my Saviour. The magisterium guides me in that faith but they do not own the truth. Thanks to the gifts of the Holy Spirit all baptized Catholics have the ability and responsibility to grow in the understanding of our faith and share that with the rest of the Body of Christ, which is the Church. We each do it a little differently - but that makes being a member of the Church interesting and life-giving.

Actually, Pat, I cannot agree with your characterization of the Magisterium. A little over a year ago I wrote a post "To Be Catholic means to Accept Church Authority." I am afraid the link to Alvin Kimel's piece in this post no longer works because he has changed his Pontifications blog address, but I still think my post provides some important points. (The Pontifications post was entitled Letter from an Enquirer so if anyone knows if that post is still accessible, I would love to have the link. It was truly a masterpiece in apologetics) The Magisterium is the teaching authority of the Church, given to the Church by Christ when he placed Peter as the head of the Church. We trust that the Holy Spirit keeps this teaching authority free from error in all matters of faith and morals.

Pope Benedict XVI affirmed this in a Wednesday audience:

In the person of the Apostles, charged with the celebration of the Eucharist and the forgiveness of sins, the Church has been made the sign and instrument of the Kingdom of God in our midst. Christ can never be separated from the Church; through the Church he remains ever present in his people, and in a special way in the successors of the Apostles.

Therefore we cannot take the teachings of the Magisterium lightly. Christ gave us the Church to preserve His Truth. Otherwise the truth becomes like the children's game of telephone where a phrase is whispered from one child to another and ends up entirely different from the starting words. As faithful Catholics we must seek the grace and the humility to defer to the wisdom of the Church and its teaching authority, the Magisterium. Otherwise we just set ourselves up as our own little individual magisteriums.

Of course this is where someone will always bring up the issue of conscience. I suggest every Catholic read Article 6 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church in its entirety. Paragraphs 1776 through 1802 deal specifically and thoroughly with the issue of conscience. It is important to note, that while we are exhorted to follow our conscience the Catechism clearly states that our conscience is not just “how we feel” about an issue. We have a responsibility to form our conscience. Paragraphs 1790 -1792 state:

1790 A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience. If he were deliberately to act against it, he would condemn himself. Yet it can happen that moral conscience remains in ignorance and makes erroneous judgments about acts to be performed or already committed.

1791 This ignorance can often be imputed to be personal responsibility. This is the case when a man “takes little trouble to find out what is true and good, or when conscience is by degrees almost blinded through the habit of committing sin. In such cases the person is culpable for the evil he commits.

1792 Ignorance of Christ and his Gospel, bad example given by others, enslavement to one’s passions, assertion of a mistaken notion of autonomy of conscience, rejection of the Church’s authority and her teaching, lack of conversion and of charity: these can be at the source of errors of judgment in moral conduct.

Therefore, each of us must answer the questions: Do we believe the Catholic Church is who she proclaims to be? Do we believe she is the one true Church, founded by Christ, and given the teaching authority to preserve His Truth? To be Catholic is to assent to this. To give this assent is hard and requires grace. With this grace and through prayer and study, our assent grows more fervent. Yet our assent is never complete. We spend our entire lives trying to formulate the perfect “Fiat!” as was uttered by the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Annunciation. Humble obedience to the Magisterium is but a first step.

Friday, June 08, 2007

New Age Conference Sponsored by Old Age Nuns

David Hartline asks a very good question: Why are so many women’s religious orders sponsoring this “New Age” conference?

Here are a few excerpts from the program:

Erectus Consciousness with Kirkpatrick Sale
Erectus Consciousness is embodied in a love of nature, respect for all species, life in harmony, and spiritual connections to Earth. This session features a discussion of the tribes today that live with this perception, the movements today that operate with some of it, and the experience of it by many ordinary people. Participants will have the opportunity to discover how that 2-million-year-old consciousness—that deep identity with nature—still lives within them.

An Earth Theology – Earth Spirituality in Action with Jim Schenck
While all aspects of our lives need to become Earth Centered, it is clear that our spiritual beliefs have a way of coloring whatever we do. Our awe and wonder of Earth need to enhance our spiritual beliefs and support our actions rooted in Earth Wisdom. In this session Jim will reflect on God, Life and Death in terms of an Earth Spirituality and will look at how our beliefs can transform and guide our actions.

Vision and Action with Starhawk
To remake the world, to challenge the structures of power that create inequality and injustice, we need courage and vision. In this workshop, Starhawk helps us find the inner tools that can free our imaginations to envision a society that serves life and honors diversity. We will find sources of strength and renewal of spirit in Earth and the cycles of nature. Starhawk draws on her experience with earth-based spirituality, feminism, permaculture, and nonviolent direct action to teach tools and skills that can help us be effective agents of change.

And just who is sponsoring this pagan drivel?:

Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration
Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati
Franciscan Sisters of Mary
Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration
Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, KY
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, Cincinnati Region
Sisters of Providence, St. Mary-of-the-Woods, IN
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg, IN
Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania
Sisters of the Precious Blood
Ursuline Sisters of Mt. St. Joseph
Racine Dominicans
Sisters of St. Joseph of LaGrange, IL
Sisters of St. Joseph of Wheeling, WV
The Well, Sisters of St. Joseph, LaGrange, WI

A few of these sponsors had links to their web sites. A look at these sisters shows them to be middle aged or older. None are wearing habits. Which made me think about that second collection for retired religious that comes around every year. I have always contributed because in my mind I pictured Sr. Mary Joseph, dressed from head to toe in a habit and sitting in a wheel chair. She was the dedicated faithful sister who brought the truths of the Faith to the world around her. I now realize that the retired sisters are just as likely to look like Sister Starship who spent her life learning about reiki and contemplating “earth wisdom”. I will continue to support the retired religious, but I think I will be more selective as to who gets my financial contributions. Instead of just throwing money into the generic retired religious pot, I am going to contribute directly to specific orders that I know have been faithful to the Magisterium.

UPDATE: Here are some links to faithful orders that deserve our support!

Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist
the Nashville Dominicans
Sisters of St. Joseph the Worker
Sisters of Life
Apostles of the Interior Life

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Find Mass even when you are on vacation

As the school year ends, many families are hitting the roads for summer vacations. I just want to remind you that vacation is not a reason to miss Mass. I thought I would link to one of my older posts to help you find Mass when you are traveling. Attending Mass when you are away from home can actually be part of the vacation adventure. Don't miss this opportunity.

New to the blogroll

Welcome to Mrs. Jackie Parkes and her blog, Catholic Mom of 10. She offers us a faithful Catholic perspective from the United Kingdom.

In Preparation for The Feast of Corpus Christi

This Sunday we celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi. The National Catholic Register jogged my memory of the important teaching document published by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops after their meeting this past November. Based on this document, the Register came up with this short quiz about the Eucharist. Take the Register quiz and see how well you understand the Sacrament of the Eucharist, the Source and Summit of our Faith. (Answers are at the Register link above)

1. What do we believe about Holy Communion?

2. In what three ways are we united to Christ in Communion?

3. Who may receive Holy Communion?

4. Should we ever refrain from receiving Holy Communion?

5. How can we prepare to receive Holy Communion more worthily?

6. May those who are not Catholic receive Holy Communion in the Catholic Church?

7. May Catholics receive Holy Communion in other Christian Churches?

Question #5 is interesting. The Register provides the following answer:

The bishops suggest practices for our day-to-day life, before Mass and at Mass. Day to day: regular prayer and Scripture reading, fulfillment of the duties of your state in life, daily repentance of sin and regular confession. Before Mass: prayerful recollection, one-hour Eucharistic fast, appropriate dress. At Mass: active participation.

Getting to Mass on a bit early so we can mentally put ourselves in the presence of Our Lord is so helpful. Planning and preparation allows us to arrive at Mass in a peaceful rather than harried state of mind.

But then what do we do after we receive Communion? Do we return to our pews and prayerfully reflect on the awesome gift we have just received? Or do we return to our pews and watch the communion line to see who is present and what they are wearing? Or perhaps we are busy mentally planning the rest of our day’s activities? I have found that learning the Anima Christi prayer and reciting it as soon as I return to my pew helps me focus on prayer after Communion and keeps me from being distracted by the activities around me. This prayer is from the 14th century and is a traditional prayer for after Communion.

Soul of Christ, sanctify me Body of Christ, save me Blood of Christ, inebriate me Water from Christ's side, wash me Passion of Christ, strengthen me O good Jesus, hear me Within Thy wounds hide me Suffer me not to be separated from Thee From the malicious enemy defend me In the hour of my death call me And bid me come unto Thee That I may praise Thee with Thy saints and with Thy angels Forever and ever Amen

I really like it when the choir provides only an instrumental accompaniment or a simple chant during Communion. I can focus on my own personal prayer much better when I do not have the words of a hymn in the background. I also find silence broken only by the rhythmic responses of “Amen” as communicants receive the Blessed Sacrament very conducive to prayer after Communion. While the Mass is a communal event, the time after Communion is a time for individual prayer and reflection within the Mass.

I challenge each of you to take the time to reflect on the Mystery of the Eucharist in preparation for this Sunday’s feast. Read the USCCB teaching document. Focus on the miracle that occurs at each and every Mass. Let us truly be happy we are called to His supper.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Keeping Kids Catholic

I updated my Blogger template so you may notice a few subtle changes. I am neither skilled nor brave enough to mess with the template too much. I would like to call your attention to the new link on the sidebar that says Serial Posts. Last fall I did a series of posts on the book Keeping Your Kids Catholic by Bert Ghezzi. My readership has markedly increased since then so if you are one of my newer readers you may have missed it. I have gathered all the posts together under the one link Keeping Kids Catholic. This book has been one of my most helpful resources over my nearly 21 years of parenting. I hope you find the discussion of this book beneficial and enjoyable. If you would like to add comments to these older posts, feel free. It is never to late to joint the conversation.

A Raffle for Life!

Danielle Bean is sponsoring a raffle in support of St. Gianna Maternity Home in Warsaw, ND. Do take a look. Personally, I am hoping to win one of Kitchen Madonna's aprons!

Near occasion of sin in the garden?

I’ve been meaning to write about my own attempts to subdue creation when I ran across Jen’s post for today about Brother Scorpion and Sister Mosquito.

I admire the simple beauty of his lovely Canticle of the Sun, and am really trying to find that sort of ecstatic joy in God's amazing creations that are all around me. And, indeed, some days I too feel overjoyed by simply noticing Brother Sun and Sister Moon. It really starts to break down, however, when I see Brother Scorpion on my kitchen floor. I know that these are God's amazing creations and all, but I am not at a level of spiritual maturity when I can appreciate God's creations of the stinger- and pincer-having variety in my house.

I have made references to my ongoing battle with the woodland creatures as I try to grow my perennial garden, but I would now say that I feel I am in an outright war. Unfortunately, my enemy is of the cute little furry ilk that makes folks go “Oh, how sweet!” so I am not getting a lot of support for my campaign. I have planted only deer-resistant varieties of flowers and I think for the most part the deer are leaving my garden alone. However, there is a long eared cotton tailed varmint that is wreaking havoc with my rudbeckia (black-eyed-Susans) and my dianthus. The music of Wagner is playing in my head as I hum “Kill the wabbit! Kill the wabbit!” For most of my life I have been an ardent ophidiophobe but at this moment, a large black snake sounds like a welcome ally.

I did not have this problem in years past, but in years past I owned a cat that wandered my property leaving his predatory scent for all the rodents and lagomorphs to smell. In reality he was a confirmed pacifist who gladly shared his cat food with the birds, but the garden-eating critters did not know that. His demise this past fall has left my garden vulnerable. I hesitate to get another cat because of my very active bird feeders. I really don’t think I can adequately interview a cat and determine his instinct for hunting. I think my Ghandi-like cat was an aberration of the species.

Which brings me back to my quest for a hungry snake. My next-door neighbor has a hole by her front porch that is nearly six inches across and into which she has seen slithering a black snake that is at least three inches in diameter and several feet long. I would like to lure said snake over to my yard around sunset and invite him to await a tasty morsel. Is it wrong to covet my neighbor’s snake?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

New and Improved 4x4 Meme

Barb tagged me for this a couple of days ago.

Here are the rules: Share four things that were new to you in the past four years. Four things you learned or experienced or explored for the first time in the past four years. Then share four things you want to try new in the next four years.

1. Blogging! About eighteen months ago I was looking for a way to increase my freelance writing. I started out on a generic blog host that promised “loads of money” from advertising. Now that was a joke! In the process, I discovered the Catholic blogosphere. I switched to the more user friendly blogspot site and have been tapping away at my keyboard ever since. I’ve made lots of friends, grown in my faith, shared my faith, and even have gotten some leads on paying writing gigs. Definitely one of the highlights of the last four years.

2. I sent kids off to college. Beginning in the fall of 2004, my oldest child left the nest for college. The second one followed in the fall of 2006. Looks like the third one heads out fall of 2008. Fourth one still has a few years. Yea! Empty places at the evening dinner table and missing faces on Thanksgiving and Easter tug at my heartstrings. But I am very proud of my kids. So far they have their heads and hearts in the right places. I’ve always prayed for them, but I am praying a bit harder when they are out from under my wings.

3. I did a book signing. I had two essays published in Chicken Soup for the Military Wife’s Soul. When the book editors came through this area doing book promotions, I joined them for book signings. It was such an enriching experience to listen to the stories of the military members and their spouses who stopped by our display to buy a book. My stories may be the ones in the book but their stories are the ones that really moved my heart.

4. I actually relocated to the Washington DC suburbs nearly five years ago, but in the last four years I have explored some of the lesser-known sites. The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is my favorite stop in the DC area. I also visited the National Building Museum and the Evening Parade at the Marine Barracks. Definitely put these on your agenda when you travel to DC.

What is on my agenda in the next four years?

1. Read the documents of Vatican II. I’ve recently discovered the Papal Encyclicals and other documents coming out of the Vatican. I’ve discovered that they are written for all of the Faithful to read, not just a handful of learned clergy and theologians. I think much of the confusion following Vatican II resulted because too few people actually read what the Council wrote and just relied on the interpretation of the documents by others, many of whom had agendas very different from the actual Council.

2. Get a certification in bioethics from the National Catholic Center for Bioethics in Philadelphia. I think I will pursue this in about a year. Not sure exactly what I will do with it, but hopefully I can find a way to combine my training as a physician, writing, and teaching.

3. Find an exercise program I can really stick with. I have an elliptical trainer at home and do use it sporadically, but I just need to figure out a routine that keeps me at it every day.

4. Help begin/maintain a vibrant adult education program at our parish. My dream is to catechize the adults of the parish so that the children come to CCD with a firm foundation of Faith formed in their homes. That may take longer than four years.

I tag:

Ebeth at Catholic Mom climbing the Pillars

Rosemary at A Catholic Mother’s Thoughts

Jen at Et Tu?

David at Apostolate of the Laity

Anyone else who wants to play along, please feel free!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Just a wee bit confused

Christopher Johnson at Midwest Conservative Journal, an Episcopal blog, offers this piece on the Rev. Dr. Ann Holmes Redding. I was going to comment, but I'm not sure what I can say that doesn't sound snide and snarky. So just read Christopher's post and then follow his link to the Washington State Diocesan publication for the whole article. It seems Rev. Redding is an Episcopal priest who claims to be both a faithful Episcopal Christian and a faithful Muslim.

“We Christians, in struggling to express the beauty and dignity of Jesus and the pattern of life he offers, describe him as the ‘only begotten son of God.’ That’s how wonderful he is to us. But that is not literal,” she continues. “When we say Jesus is the only begotten one, we are saying he’s unique in some way. Islam says the same thing. He’s the only human aside from Adam who is directly created by God, and he’s different from Adam because he has a human mother. So there’s agreement—this person is unique in his relationship to God.” Christianity also says that we are all part of the household of God and in essence brothers and sisters of Jesus. Muslims take the figurative language of “only begotten,” make it concrete and contradict it: God “neither begets nor is begotten."

“I agree with both because I do want to say that Jesus is unique, and for me, Jesus is my spiritual master,” Redding says.

How on earth did the diocesan newsletter decide to highlight this gravely erroneous theology in such a positive manner? I suppose we Catholics have our own members who have veered off into New Age practices or into Eastern spirituality. I still have a hard time imagining that even our most liberal of bishops would approve of a melding of Catholicism and Islam. I would hope such heresy would be quashed immediately and never be presented as an acceptable alternative.

A Clarion Call To Go To Daily Mass Today

I was feeling a bit lazy this morning and thought I might skip morning Mass. Then I read this.

An armed group gunned down and killed Fr Ragheed Ganni and three of his aides. The murder took place right after Sunday mass in front of the Church of the Holy Spirit in Mosul where Father Ragheed was parish priest.

Amy Welborn links to more information here.

Fr. Ragheed spoke these words in 2005:

"People could not believe what had happened. The terrorists might think they can kill our bodies or our spirit by frightening us, but, on Sundays, churches are always full. They may try to take our life, but the Eucharist gives it back."

"On December 7, the eve of the Immaculate Conception, a group of terrorist tried to destroy the Chaldean Bishop's Residence, which is near Our Lady of the Tigris Shrine, a place venerated by both Christians and Muslims."

"They placed explosives everywhere and a few minutes later blew the place up. This and fundamentalist violence against young Christians have forced many families to flee. Yet the Churches have remained open and people continue to go to mass, even among the ruins".

"It is among such difficulties that we understand the real value of Sunday, the day when we meet the Risen Christ, the day of our unity and love, of our [mutual] support and help."

"There are days when I feel frail and full of fear. But when, holding the Eucharist, I say 'Behold the Lamb of God Behold, who takes away the sin of the world', I feel His strength in me. When I hold the Host in my hands, it is really He who is holding me and all of us, challenging the terrorists and keeping us united in His boundless love."
"In normal times, everything is taken for granted and we forget the greatest gift that is made to us. Ironically, it is thanks to terrorist violence that we have truly learnt that it is the Eucharist, the Christ who died and risen, that gives us life. And this allows us to resist and hope."

How on earth after reading this could I pass up the opportunity to receive Our Lord in the Eucharist? The only thing this costs me is an hour of my time. I quickly got dressed and arrived at Mass fifteen minutes early. I used that time to pray for the Chaldean Catholics who are suffering so much persecution by Muslims. I also prayed for Fr. Ragheed and the deacons who were killed as well.

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

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

There is no religion that is of God that would condone this heinous crime. Therefore, I also fervently prayed at the end of Mass:

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host -
by the Divine Power of God -
cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.