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

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Renew Your Commitment to Humane Vitae

Tomorrow, July 25, marks 39th anniversary of the issuance of Humane Vitae by Pope Paul VI. Archbishop Rigali of Philadelphia takes this very seriously. He asked all the priests in the archdiocese to make this beautiful encyclical the topic of their homilies this past Sunday. His recent letter The Word Became Flesh: Married Love and the Gift of Lifewas included in every parish bulletin. I pray that someday every bishop sees importance of this landmark Church document.

It was not trivial for Pope Paul VI to issue Humane Vitae amidst the backdrop of the 1960’s. It ran counter to everything the pop culture of “free love” was promoting. Reading this document thirty-nine years later, the wisdom of Pope Paul VI is humbling. If only we as a society had heeded his words nearly four decades ago. His description of the consequences of contraception were prophetic:

7. Responsible men can become more deeply convinced of the truth of the doctrine laid down by the Church on this issue if they reflect on the consequences of methods and plans for artificial birth control. Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law. Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.

Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone. It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife.

Perhaps each of us would do well to make time to read Humane Vitae either today or tomorrow. Then we should reflect on how we take to heart these principles in our marriages, in our family lives, and in our interactions with our culture. Renew your commitment to God’s gift of human life.

(H/T to Annals of Desire for the link to Archbishop Rigali’s letter)

Monday, July 23, 2007

Division worse than heresy?!

If you have followed my blog for a while, you have read about the tribulations of the Anglican Communion. The Episcopal Church has the Communion in a quandary over many things, most especially over the ordination of a bishop who is living in an openly homosexual relationship. Part of the problem is the Anglican Communion has never really had a Catechism so there is no specific source to outline exactly what the Anglican Communion believes. They recite the Nicene Creed, but the Creed doesn’t cover everything. To remedy this, the Anglican Communion is working on an Anglican Covenant that will offer instruction on very specific issues, including issues of sexuality. This does not sit well with the Anglican Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, Alan Harper.

Speaking in his address on the Feast Day of St Mary Magdalene, he said he had come to believe that “division is a greater sin even than heresy”.

Specifically with regards to the Covenant he says:

Archbishop Harper said that unless it were “open and generous and broad” it may simply turn out to be a “further means of obstruction; a boulder, rather than a lever to remove what obscures and impedes our access to the truth that sets us free”.

So it is better to speak what is false than to speak the truth and risk alienating those who will not accept the truth? The more I read of the Anglican Communion, the more I appreciate our Catholic Magisterium. Jesus knew exactly what he was doing when he handed the keys to Kingdom to Peter.

Those who serve and Those who don't

I’ll be honest. When I saw the cover story for today’s Washington Post Magazine I wasn’t sure I had the stomach to read it. After all, the Washington Post is rarely a friend to the military. They ran the story the under the blazing title

US and THEM: As mistrust, resentment, and misunderstanding grow between the civilian and military communities, can America wage a just and effective war?

In reality, this article written by Kristin Henderson, a Navy chaplain’s wife, is amazingly balanced and well written. Please read the entire thing. There are many well-made points like this one:

Less than half the civilian population believes military leaders can be relied on to respect civilian control of the military, according to surveys by the Triangle Institute for Security Studies, an academic think tank in North Carolina. Never mind that 92 percent of military leaders still insist their civilian masters should have the final say on whether to use military force. And while nearly two-thirds of military leaders believe they share the same values as the American people, only about one-third of their civilian counter-parts agree. The vast majority of civilians believe service members are intolerant, stingy, rigid and lacking in creativity. More than 20 percent report they'd be disappointed if their children joined the military. Before the invasion of Iraq, the editorial boards of major newspapers endorsed the use of force, yet a search turned up no calls for Americans to join up to support the effort. President Bush urged civilians to go shopping.

"The military is at war, but the country is not," warns University of Maryland sociologist David Segal.

Or this one:

Contrary to a common misperception, minorities are only slightly overrepresented in the military, making up 35 percent of service personnel compared to about 33 percent of the general population.

Overall, recruits tend to come from small towns. And, while these small towns often have a boarded-up factory, family incomes indicate that those joining the military are the upwardly mobile working middle class.

There's clearly some self-selection going on, too, because nearly half of all Army recruits are following in the footsteps of a parent who has served. We seem to be creating an American warrior class.

Finally, these words by Chuck Hagel ring very true:

He sits back. "Second, I don't think you want a free society where you've got a very clear difference between the people and the paid professional military, kind of the guns-for-hire type, and whatever trouble we get into we'll just send them over."

And how does that hurt anybody besides the guns for hire?

"It disconnects the people from the kind of commitment and sacrifice that goes into this. You ask the question, so what? So what is: You then raise another generation of Americans thinking they have no obligations, thinking they have no responsibilities, thinking that they're born into this world as an American so we'll pay these kids over here to go join the armed forces. That's the real danger here. Service. Citizenship. What is the responsibility of a citizen?"

A difference between the military population and the general population that I have observed is the higher percentage of the military who actively profess a religious faith when compared to the civilian population. I do not know of any surveys that back up this perception but I would not be surprised if there were some. I do not think that military service promotes religion. Rather, I believe those who are drawn to military service are the same people who acknowledge a power far greater that themselves. They can recognize a cause greater than their own personal desires. They understand and respond to the call to serve. Do I think we should go back to the days when everyone has to do their time in the military? No. I do think that a great many young people would do well to spend a year or two serving their country in some fashion.

My father served as an Air Force officer. I served as an Air Force officer. My husband still serves as an Air Force officer and has flown over thirty combat missions during his career including this one. His grandfather, his step-grandfather, and his uncle were all career military officers. My oldest son expects to be commissioned as an officer in the Army next year. I guess we qualify as part of that “American warrior class”. I firmly abhor war. But I value freedom. I know freedom comes at a cost. I hope those elitist parents who shield their children from military service because it is somehow beneath their station in life to serve someday look into the eyes of those who willingly serve America. Perhaps then they will recognize patriotism and heroism. Perhaps their perception of their own stature and importance will diminish. Perhaps they will appreciate a cause greater than self-indulgence.

This post is also found here.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

A rescued "Aggie" in the garden

My garden and deck plants survived my absence. It does look like a little weeding, deadheading of daisies, and watering are in order, but overall, it looks pretty good. I’ve been writing about my struggles with the wildlife as we battle in the garden. I bought a beautiful dianthus earlier this summer because it was the perfect maroon and white of Texas A&M. My son is a rising senior there. He proudly wears his senior boots in the Corps. In his honor I wanted this flower in my garden. I tried to pick a spot that had been relatively untouched by critters and it did survive for about three days. But then I walked into the garden and it was nibbled to a nubbin. I dug up the remaining plant and have been nursing it in a pot on my upstairs deck. Therefore, I am thrilled by the sight that awaited me as I returned from Texas yesterday. Two beautiful maroon and white blossoms stood proudly at attention and several buds looked like they would bloom any day now. Take that, Mr. Rabbit! I don’t know the official name of this dianthus variety, but I think "Aggie" sounds like a good name to me.

The Book

We arrived back in Virginia late last night and it was such a joy to be home. My youngest did not accompany us to Houston since he was at Boy Scout camp and I swear he grew a couple of inches in the ten days I was gone. Our trip home was much easier than our trip to Houston since we flew back instead of driving. My oldest son’s car is now waiting for him at my parent’s home when he returns to college from Army training.

Traversing airports yesterday convinced me that all of America has its nose in a book. Not just any book, but THE BOOK: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It was everywhere. At a minimum, I think ten percent of the flying public was reading Harry Potter. I even saw airport security guards walking through the terminal, reading the book as they ambled along. I am hoping they were on their breaks and not supposed to be keeping an eye out for suspicious activity. My second son and my daughter were traveling with me and I offered to buy them a copy of the book that was readily available at all the airport gift shops. They declined, but did sneak a peak at the book’s ending. They enjoyed the series when the early books were first released, but have moved on to other genres over the years. Now if it was a new Terry Pratchett book, I am sure I would have been making a purchase.

I absolutely do not want to raise the great debate about whether or not Catholic kids should be reading these books. I respect every parent’s right to make this decision for his or her own children. I know what my child’s spiritual foundation is. For my children, I saw absolutely no problem with them enjoying this fantasy. You know what your child’s spiritual foundation is. You make the call for your own child.

In any case, I think all the hype surrounding the release of the final installment of this series can be declared a marketing success. I am very happy our pilot and co-pilot took time out from reading Harry Potter to fly our plane. At least, I think they did. Maybe that explains the bumpy landing as we touched down in Baltimore.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Bishop Morlino prompts thoughts on Obedience

Argent points out this response to the Summorum Pontificum by Bishop Morlino of the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin.

Obedience opens door to freedom

The Motu Proprio of our Holy Father decrees a determination that he has made in his office as Supreme Teacher of the Church, and I have solemnly and publicly promised to be faithful in my obedience to the Successor of the Apostle Peter. Pope Benedict indicates that his judgment in this matter is designed to free bishops from constantly making such prudential judgments in frequently changing circumstances.

Pope Benedict clearly is wise; obedience according to the mind of Christ always opens the door to true freedom. I am joyful to act in obedience to the Motu Proprio of Pope Benedict, and I am grateful to have been freed from the limitation of my own judgment.

What an inspiring example of humble obedience Bishop Morlino has offered to his flock. Obedience is very difficult for us 21st century Catholics. We feel so intelligent, so advanced, so knowledgeable that we are loathe to subordinate our own analysis to the Wisdom of the Ages. Our superior reasoning abilities should lead us to the correct conclusion. It is irrational to defer to Church teachings if our own logic trail leads us to an alternate end point.

I sometimes imagine how my household would look if I allowed my four children to set the standards of behavior. Do you really think they would voluntarily put strict limits on computer games and television shows? Do you really think they would have naturally drifted to weekly Mass attendance without initial parental authoritative dictates? My youngest sees the world through thirteen year-old eyes. His judgment is based on the experiences of a thirteen year-old boy. His conclusions may truly be logical based on the scope of his knowledge and understanding. That does not mean they are correct.

In the same way, our own logic is based on our very short and incomplete earthly experience. Our perceptions and analysis are susceptible to gaps in our knowledge. Of course, like my thirteen year-old, I view my scope of understanding as quite complete. I do not always have the wisdom to see that I am missing something. Therefore, when my personal deduction leads me to a different conclusion than the 2000 years of wisdom of the Church, humility requires me to acknowledge my limitations and seek to reconcile my views to the Church. Even as I don’t fully appreciate the reasoning behind a given Church teaching I am called to humbly obey the Church. I must also to continue to search for the understanding that brings my personal conviction in line with Church teachings. It is horribly arrogant to dismiss Church teaching as erroneous based on our own cursory first pass of logic.

Obedience is not the abandonment of reason. Rather, obedience calls for the strenuous application of reason. If we struggle to obey a precept of the Church, it is a sign that our reasoning is deficient and we are called to redouble our efforts to understand.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Children or Dogs?

Since I am visiting family in Houston this week I am reading the Houston Chronicle instead of the Washington Post. Not that I can really tell much difference. Both are reporting on the winning hometown soccer team and losing hometown baseball team. Both have editorial pages that swing to the far left. I will say the Houston Chronicle has a much better selection of daily comics than the Washington Post. Other than that, there is not much to distinguish the two papers. Consider this screed by Neal Pierce from today’s Chronicle:

BELLAGIO, Italy — Will Planet Earth be able to handle the mega-surge of people pouring into the cities of Africa, Asia and Latin America?

Back in 1950, there were 2.2 billion of us, mostly spread across the world's rural areas. Today the United Nations estimates world population at 6.6 billion. Half live in cities where an accelerating human flood of rural people — many desperately poor — generates slums, endangers water and sewage systems, and breeds local misery and potential pandemics.

If today's birthrates continue unaltered, U.N. figures suggest there could be 11.7 billion people by 2050.

There is some good news here. Birth rates have declined as rural people migrate into cities and have fewer children than farm and rural families typically do. The mid-range population expectation for 2050 is 9.1 billion.

And humans have the power to effect huge change on our future numbers, Joel Cohen, head of the Laboratory of Populations at Rockefeller and Columbia universities, told a global Urban Summit, assembled by the Rockefeller Foundation, here two weeks ago.

If women, on statistical average, have half a child more than now predicted, Cohen noted, then the world population will soar to 10.6 billion. Conversely, if they choose to have a half child less, then the global population will rise to a comparatively more manageable 7.7 billion.

Already, decisions by families to have less children have brought us back halfway from the unprecedented fertility surge that increased world population by over 2 percent a year in the late 1960s.

Never mind that the birth rates of many European countries fall below population replacement levels. Curse those fertility surges! And will someone please explain how women decide to have half a child more or half a child less? (Actually, I do understand this is just the lingo of statisticians, but I find such phrasing rather comical.)

Of course such an article fits right in with this story in today's Chronicle about daycare for dogs.

Most day-care dogs spend their time in an air-conditioned playroom — few of these pampered pooches are accustomed to being out in the heat and humidity for long — although many offer a small outdoor yard for additional play time and calls of nature. In the suburbs, where land is less expensive than in the dog day-care nexus of Inner Loop Houston, many have large lawns.

Prices average $20 to $30 a day.

Some offer Web cams, allowing owners to check on Fido from afar. That's proven so popular that Molly's Mutt House limits people to five minutes on the Mutt Cam at its Heights location.

"A lot of people keep it on all day," owner Molly Gill said. "Everybody watches, even their friends from other countries."

Consider that more evidence that dogs have become surrogate children.

"We've got a lot of single people, and their dog is their child," said Debra Sullivan of Jackson's Place in Montrose. "We have married people that have no children, and their dog is their child."

Many customers want their surrogate children to be tired at night.

"When dogs can stretch and get their energy out, it's a lot less stress and less work on the owner," said Jenny Bacon, office manager of Midtown Doggy Daycare.

Daycare. Braces. Health insurance. Who needs children when you can spend your money on a dog? How sad that our culture views parenthood as a self-serving act that can be replaced by owning a dog. How counter cultural it is to open oneself up to God’s gift of life and generously offer one’s life to the vocation of parenthood.

Perhaps those advocating for tighter population control and those substituting owning a dog for having a child should consider the words of Mother Teresa:

How can there be too many children? That is like saying there are too many flowers.

Monday, July 16, 2007

On This Rock

I joined my parents for daily Mass this morning. There was both a different feel and a sameness to attending Mass 1500 miles from my home parish. Their band of daily communicants gathered in the small Eucharistic adoration chapel instead of the larger sanctuary. The congregation was primarily composed of retirees instead of mothers with children. The altar server was an elderly gentleman in street clothes instead of young boys in cassock and surplice.

Yet the variations could not obscure the oneness. In both parishes we hear the same Word of God and make present the same Sacrifice of Christ. In both parishes we partake of the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ. It is very comforting to know that I can find Christ, truly present, in any Catholic Church.

This is the message promulgated by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in its most recent communication.

It is possible, according to Catholic doctrine, to affirm correctly that the Church of Christ is present and operative in the churches and ecclesial Communities not yet fully in communion with the Catholic Church, on account of the elements of sanctification and truth that are present in them.[9] Nevertheless, the word “subsists” can only be attributed to the Catholic Church alone precisely because it refers to the mark of unity that we profess in the symbols of the faith (I believe... in the “one” Church); and this “one” Church subsists in the Catholic Church.

While elements of this communion may be found in other faith communities, the wholeness of Christ’s Church exists only in the Catholic Church. Those are strong words. They are very difficult for a culture accustomed to eschewing absolutes. We are far more comfortable allowing each to worship (or not worship) as he pleases and according equality to individual preferences. Yet Christ did not build his Church on shifting sand. He did not leave the particulars to be worked out by a committee of his disciples with each free to fashion a Church after his own preferences. Rather he founded His One, Holy Catholic Apostoic Church on a rock. A rock named Peter.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Catholic Carinival time!

Embracing Motherhood is hosting this week's Catholic Carnival. I am on the road and don't have much time for writing, but there is some "don't miss" reading over at this week's Carnival.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Going Back To Houston

Road trip to Houston starts tomorrow morning. Hopefully we will be paying a visit to Kitchen Madonna along the way. Blogging may be sparse for the next week or so. Keep us in your prayers as we traverse America's interstate highway system.

For the Love of Christ

Catholic Mom of 10 tagged me for this meme:

Those tagged will share 5 things they love about Jesus.
Those tagged will tag 5 other bloggers.
Those tagged will provide a link in the combox here with their name so that others can read them

1. Jesus’ Divine Mercy: He never gives up on me no matter how imperfectly I behave. He is always ready to forgive and let me start over…and over…and over….

2. Jesus taught us the perfect prayer:

Our Father, Who art in heaven
Hallowed be Thy Name;
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Amen.

For me “Thy will be done” is the most poignant phrase in this prayer.

3. Jesus lived perfect love. He emptied Himself completely on the cross for us out of His love for us.

4. Jesus lived in perfect obedience to the Father.

5. Jesus offers his healing power to anyone who had faith, no matter how unworthy they seem.

I tag:

Kitchen Madonna

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A Merciful Response

The first Spiritual Work of Mercy is to instruct the ignorant. This instruction must be done with charity and compassion but also with clarity. It should always be accompanied by prayer.

Here is a bit of evidence that prayer works.

Father Darrin Connall, rector of Bishop White Seminary in Spokane, is one of the priests who worked with the sisters as they made their journey home to the Catholic Church.

At first, he "was kind of shocked" the sisters were interested in talking to him, he said.

Mother Mary Katrina, head of the community at that time and one of the sisters who has left Mount St. Michael, "explained to me," he said, "that through studying the teachings of the church, and listening to" Sacred Heart Radio, operated in Spokane by the Poor Clare Sisters, several of the sisters realized that what they were reading and hearing "sounded incredibly Catholic."

"They began to have questions about their theological position," he said.

Father Connall is convinced that a prime mover of this event was prayer.

When Spokane Bishop William S. Skylstad invited the Missionaries of Charity to establish a house in Spokane, part of his request was based on the area's poverty -- not material poverty but spiritual poverty, particularly in regard to schismatic groups such as the community at Mount St. Michael.

In October 2005, the Missionaries of Charity took the names of the sisters at the Mount and began to pray for them, said Father Dan Barnett, pastor of St. Patrick Parish, where Mount St. Michael is located and where the Missionaries of Charity have their convent.

His parish also conducted "a stewardship of prayer campaign," he said. "One of the stewardship intentions was reconciliation with Mount St. Michael. Some months later, I received word that some of the sisters (at the Mount) were really questioning the validity of the sedevacantist position."

Some of the sisters attended conferences given to the Missionaries of Charity on Thursday evenings by Benedictine Abbot Adrian Parcher, now pastor of parishes in Colfax and LaCrosse, Wash. At Mount St. Michael the sisters had been told "there were no more women religious in the world, but they saw the Missionaries of Charity, in full habit, living a form of religious life more radical even than theirs," said Father Connall.

As the sisters learned more, and asked more questions, they encountered nothing but patience, compassion and understanding, said Mother Marie de Lourdes.

Bishop Skylstad "could have written us off, or made some public statement" ordering Catholics to stay away, "but he didn't," she said. "He didn't condemn us. He patiently waited, understanding of our plight, supportive, prayerful, in a Christ-like spirit of love."

(H/T to Kellyfor this wonderful story)

Today’s release of this document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith must also be understood in light of our call to mercifully instruct the ignorant. The mainstream media is focusing on this as a divisive document with headlines like Pope: Other Christians not True Churches What the document really says is:

Second Question: What is the meaning of the affirmation that the Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church?

Response: Christ "established here on earth" only one Church and instituted it as a "visible and spiritual community"[5], that from its beginning and throughout the centuries has always existed and will always exist, and in which alone are found all the elements that Christ himself instituted.[6] "This one Church of Christ, which we confess in the Creed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic […]. This Church, constituted and organised in this world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the successor of Peter and the Bishops in communion with him"[7].

In number 8 of the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium ‘subsistence’ means this perduring, historical continuity and the permanence of all the elements instituted by Christ in the Catholic Church[8], in which the Church of Christ is concretely found on this earth.

It is possible, according to Catholic doctrine, to affirm correctly that the Church of Christ is present and operative in the churches and ecclesial Communities not yet fully in communion with the Catholic Church, on account of the elements of sanctification and truth that are present in them.[9] Nevertheless, the word "subsists" can only be attributed to the Catholic Church alone precisely because it refers to the mark of unity that we profess in the symbols of the faith (I believe... in the "one" Church); and this "one" Church subsists in the Catholic Church.[10]…

Fifth Question: Why do the texts of the Council and those of the Magisterium since the Council not use the title of "Church" with regard to those Christian Communities born out of the Reformation of the sixteenth century?

Response: According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery[19] cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called "Churches" in the proper sense[20].

The Holy See, through the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is instructing those not in full communion with the Church that they have elements of truth and sanctification, but they are missing crucial elements. It is charitable and merciful to invite them into the fullness of Christ’s Church that is found only in the Catholic Church. How could we let them persist in ignorance? It is not surprising that Pope Benedict XVI would authorize such a statement. His very first address as Pope warned of the dangers of moral relativism. We cannot say that this sect has a truth that is complete for them while another sect has a different truth that is equally complete for them. There is only one Truth. Christ gave us only one holy apostolic Church to safeguard that Truth through the ages.

Therefore, we need to be firm and clear yet charitable in our proclamation of this Truth. It is sometimes tempting to write off those who call themselves Catholic but openly dissent from Church teachings. I know I have on more than one occasion suggested these folks should just pack up and go find a denomination more to their liking. I report on the events of the Episcopal Church because they are harbingers of what could happen if we followed the path of these nominal Catholics. While it might make life within the Catholic Church in the United States a bit less stressful if these dissidents packed up and found their way to the Episcopal Church as is often the suggestion promulgated in the comment boxes of Catholic blogs, the truly Catholic response is to gather these wayward Catholics into our daily prayers. We should follow the example of Bishop Skylstad and persist in our prayerful pursuit of these souls.

Monday, July 09, 2007

An Episcopal Leader Speaks out about a Pregnant Colleague

Talk about hostility! Chris Johnson at Midwest Conservative Journal points out this post by Elizabeth Kaeton of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark. Rev. Elizabeth Kaeton is an Episcopal priest and the president of the standing committee of the Diocese of Newark. She is a lesbian who has a partner referred to as her spouse on some websites. She apparently has six children and four grandchildren, but does not endorse heterosexual couples following suit as you can see from this excerpt from her post:

There is one woman, an Episcopal priest married to an Episcopal priest, whose writing sometimes flat out scares the BeJesus out of me. She is pregnant with their fourth child, the youngest of whom is not yet one year old. They are using "Natural Family Planning" - letting "God decide" on how many children they will be blessed with and resigning themselves to gladly take whatever God gives them, giving God the praise and glory.

She gets lots of support from women who have made similar choices, all giddy with what they describe as Christian love and the Holy Ghost. Everyone seems positively ecstatic about this new pregnancy while this poor woman writes about how she doesn’t have the energy to clean her house or herself or her children whom, she muses with mild curiosity, might get their feet cut on the cereal bowl one of them smashed this morning which she simply hasn’t had the inclination to clean up.

The women commenting on this have nothing but giddy high praise for her. I can only read so much before I have to reach for some dry crackers. Apparently, you can experience "morning sickness" by proxy.

Umm . . .Can you say, "Irresponsible?"

Okay, then. How about "Madness"?

Don’t believe me? Think I’m overstating my case? Well, after reading a few of her entries, I have seriously considered calling the local authorities.

I swear to God, one of these days you are going to read about this woman loading herself and her six kids in her mini van and driving them all into a nearby lake. Or, drowning them, one by one, in the bathtub and then lining their lifeless little bodies in a perfect row on their perfectly made beds in their perfect suburban home.

Of course, she’ll say that "God told her" to do it. Postpartum depression will be the postmodern villain. From the days even before Lizzie Borden, female hormones have always been an easy scapegoat. If the writers of Genesis had known about them, PMS would have been specifically named as one of the results of "The Fall."

Neighbors and church members will appear on the five o’clock news and say what a "lovely family" they were and how shocked, (SHOCKED!) they all are. One woman will shake her head sadly and say how her husband was "devoted" to her and the children. Another will wipe a tear from her eye and report that they were such "committed Christians" who were dedicated to "home schooling" their kids. And I can guarantee that someone from her church will opine that there is so much pressure from "those feminists" to pull families like this apart.

At the precise moment at which someone says something about "the power of Satan" is exactly the point when I’ll throw up my hands and run screaming from the room. Let me tell you something: This woman doesn’t title her Blog, "an undercurrent of hostility" for nothing.

In fact, you know what? That hostility is the only thing that gives me hope. Right now, it’s misdirected against feminists and liberals and everyone in the Episcopal Church who doesn’t march, lock-step to "Onward, Christian soldier," but she’s smart enough to know better.

I know she is. She knows she is. I just pray she gets the courage to push through the heavy fog of the false sense of nobility which has become the warm-fuzzy blanket she pulls around her to ward off the insecurities whispered in her ear by her . . . um . . . "religion."

So being open to life is irresponsible? A sign of madness? Read her whole post and you will see that when her granddaughter said she wanted to grow up and be a mommy this Episcopal leader felt great disappointment.

When my youngest was about four, I took him to the dentist for the first time. My older children had seen this dentist several times so he knew I was a physician and my husband was an Air Force pilot. At the time I was working a couple of weekends every month at a local urgent care center. In the course of conversation with my youngest the dentist asked my son what his daddy did. My son proudly proclaimed, “He flies jets!” Then the dentist asked my son what his mommy did. “She does the dishes!” I admit that at first there was a tinge of disappointment. After all, wasn’t tending to lacerations, heart attacks, and broken bones just as cool as flying jets? But then I realized this was exactly the response I wanted. My son saw me as his mom, first and foremost. I’m just a mom who has a little more medical training than most.

I have to admit that words like those written by Rev. Kaeton can make my blood boil. I have had to fend off my share of comments about how I am wasting all that medical education by choosing to be at home with my kids. But rather than responding to Rev. Kaeton with anger, I will include her my prayers. I pray that she will someday see that humble obedience to God’s will and God’s plan is true liberation. I will also pray for the pregnant Episcopal priest that Rev. Kaeton maligns in her post. I know how hurtful it is when professional colleagues do not respect your response to a vocation greater than your career.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Proper Music

In light of my recent little rant, please read the following interview from the Adoremus Bulletin. Here is an excerpt:

Adoremus: Tell us about the Communio Project and why it is important.

Tucker: The idea is to put the Mass Propers back into liturgical circulation in Catholic liturgy, starting with the Communion chant. Let me explain what I mean.

Every Catholic knows the problem, but not everyone knows its source or solution. During Communion, the most contemplative and introspective time of the Mass, we are often confronted with the demand that we sing a hymn, usually a contemporary standard like “One Bread, One Body”. Music directors have some sense that they are supposed to do this. Seminars leaders have told them this for decades. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) seems to provide support in referring to a Communion song.

Now, in the usual experience, no one sings. Certainly no one wants to slog a hymnal up to Communion. Mostly, the demand that we sing during Communion violates our sense of the moment that calls for internal rather than external participation. As a result, some music directors despair and just have the choir sing alone or play some mood music. They really don’t know what else to do.

Adoremus: The GIRM (§87), as adapted for the United States, gives four options for the Communion chant; the first option is “the antiphon from the Roman Missal or the psalm from the Roman Gradual as set to music there or in another musical setting”. How does the Communio project respond to this?

Tucker: GIRM §87 gives four options: the official antiphon, a simple substitute for the same, an approved song, or something else suitable. The first option is the one that provides the clue to the ideal: the Communion antiphon from the Graduale Romanum (Roman Gradual) for sung Masses or from the Missal for spoken Masses.

What is the Graduale Romanum? Most Catholic musicians today have little or no idea. What it is, in fact, is the official liturgical book for the choir.

The official version of the Graduale, published by the Solesmes Monastery, is always in Latin. It has been with us since the earliest years of the Church.

The Graduale includes a chant that changes every week called the “Communio”. In other words, there is a piece of music that is prescribed for Communion by the liturgy itself. It is a name for one of what are called the Propers, which are the texts of the Mass that change from week to week. When Vatican II called for Gregorian chant to be given primacy in the liturgy, it was calling for the Propers to be sung as a priority over anything else. The distance we’ve traveled from that is well illustrated by the fact that most Catholics, including musicians, have no idea what the Propers even are!

So we gain a clue from the previous paragraph in the GIRM, §86, which says: “While the priest is receiving the Sacrament, the Communion chant is begun”. Notice that it says the Communion chant, not a Communion chant. What this actually refers to is the Communion chant from the Graduale. How many parishes do this? Not many but the numbers are growing.

What the Communio book does is to collect all the antiphons and psalms into a single book for easy use.

Once again we find the “Spirit of Vatican II” obscured the true intent of Vatican II. Pope Benedict XVI, with his Summorum Pontificum, has freed the use of the Tridentine Mass. His hope is that the wider use of this beautiful liturgy will inspire more reverence and attention to liturgical details in the Novus Ordo Mass. I too hope for such a blending. A good beginning would be the rediscovery of our rich heritage of liturgical music.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Accepting Rather than Extending the Invitation

I often struggle with the vice of pride and the virtue of humility. I can try to assume complete control of my life because I know I am really quite competent. Of course, I do graciously invite God to come along. It is the proper thing to do, you know. How arrogant I can be! It is not up to me to invite God. He has already extended the invitation. It is up to me to accept. That is why this post really resonated with me.

One idea stuck with me from a conference I attended. The speaker talked about two ways of looking at life. First, you can see that God is a part of my story. He might be a big part or a little part but He is out there. Conferences are when a speaker challenges you to make God a bigger part of you story when he starts to get crowded out be regular life. The second way of looking at life is not where God is not a part of the story. That really comes back to the first case because removing God completely from our thinking is really just something we do for a while. Something always happens to bring thoughts of the transcendent back.

The second view of life is to see yourself as a part of God’s story. That may seem like a small change at first but when you think about it you begin to see the difference is huge. The question of how much of a role God should play in my life goes away. My life is a gift from God and it is a joy and a privilege for it to be given significance by God. So the question becomes, how much of my life has been honored with an importance in God’s story? The answer is all of it. Amazingly enough even seeming insignificant private thoughts can become very powerful. If we choose to use them in prayer or worship we can change the world.

I think this is a good follow on to my recent post on marriage as a vocation. Rather than viewing my marriage as the whole and God as a subset of it, I need to see God as the whole. My life, my marriage, my family are part of God’s story—part of God’s plan. It is not my prerogative to invite God into my marriage. Instead, it is my place to offer up my marriage, my family, indeed my life to His will. Everything I am and everything I have already belongs to God. It is up to me to live my life in a way that acknowledges Him as the one true source of everything. St. Therese of Lisieux understood this as she wrote of her “Little Way”. No action is too small or insignificant to be offered as a prayer. I need to take to heart my morning offering and present to God my every thought, word, and deed.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Independence Day Catholic Carnival is up!

I know I am a bit late on this, but it's never to late to celebrate a good thing. And this week's Catholic Carnival at A Catholic Mum Climbing the Pillars is definitely a good thing. Go take a look!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Marriage is not the Purview of the Human Resources Department

I keep hearing this radio ad that makes me so sad. It begins with a woman citing all her positive attributes. She is physically fit and attractive, intelligent, financially secure, and professionally successful. But, alas, she has not found the right life partner. Who has time to seek out a relationship with all the demands of a career? The ad answers this dilemma with a plug for a national matchmaker service. It is not an ordinary online dating service. Think of this company as your “recruiting firm for your personal life”.

This makes me sad because it reduces the concept of marriage to the equivalent of finding a good accountant. If you can’t take time away from your job to find a relationship, what makes you think you will make time to nurture a relationship? Careers are wonderful pursuits, but careers will not get you to Heaven. Discerning God’s call for your personal vocation leads you to Heaven. Your career must fit within that vocation.

The divorce rate among Catholics mirrors the general population. Perhaps this would not be so if we did a better job of emphasizing the concept of marriage as a response to a Divine call. We do not marry simply because it is our preference to marry. We marry because we respond to God’s call to serve Him through the vocation of marriage. It should be a response that is just as deliberate as the response of those called to the priesthood or religious life. It should be undertaken only after serious discernment.

After the wedding, husband and wife must continually recommit themselves and their marriage to God. Family decisions should be accompanied by prayer and the question, “Does this action serve God’s purpose?” Imagine what our communities would look like if this were the driving principle of family behaviors. I know that I have often fallen short of this ideal. I also know that my pre-Cana classes did not teach this concept. It was only many years into my marriage that I realized God was calling my family to a communal holiness as well as calling me to an individual holiness. This is what Pope John Paul II addressed when he used the term “Domestic Church”. I would like to see more words from the pulpit about the formation and sustenance of the “Domestic Church”. Perhaps if more couples thought about their marriage as a Divinely inspired vocation, rather than merely an earthly occupation, we would see a precipitous decline in the divorce rate.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Welcome Home!

I just returned from three days of soccer in Virginia Beach. As manager of my daughter’s soccer team I have some responsibilities on these soccer trips that are above the usual parental duties. Keeping track of the team player documents and making sure everyone knows when and where they are supposed to meet can be a little stressful. This weekend we had two players who managed to arrive in Virginia Beach without their uniforms so that was an additional little crisis to manage. However, I managed to keep a pretty even keel throughout the weekend.

This morning, however, I am back into the domestic fray. I am afraid the keel is not quite so even. I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that we currently have five drivers at home and only three vehicles. Normally, I take my husband to his carpool pick up site and I keep the car. This week his carpool is down to two people so he asked to take our Prius so he could use the HOV lane. Fine. We can manage for a few days. I arrived home from Virginia Beach just before midnight last night. Before crawling into bed, I asked Dear Husband if he had the keys to the minivan. “No, I just have a Prius key. Second Son has the minivan key.” As Dear Husband got ready for work this morning, I asked again if he had a minivan key. “No, I just have a Prius key.” Great. I hop out of bed around 7:00am and get ready to take Youngest Son to his soccer training. I go downstairs and wake up Second Son to get the minivan key. “I don’t have the minivan key. I gave it to Dad”. I have not had my first cup of coffee. The trek to Second Son’s bedroom took me through the basement living area that has become the lair of College Sons. Let’s just say it was not a sight to see in a caffeine-deprived state when another minor crisis is brewing because the function of a keyless minivan is reduced to that of a lawn ornament. I expressed my displeasure in unmistakable terms and soon all four of my children were up and trying to soothe the savage beast. My oldest son gave me the keys to his car. I poured a cup of coffee then took Youngest Son to soccer training.

While in route, I called Dear Husband at work. For the third time I asked if he had a minivan key. He again answered, “I only have a Prius key.” (Did anyone hear a cock crow?) He then put his hand in his uniform pocket and said, “Oh! I do have the minivan key.” Welcome home!