Skip to main content


Showing posts from July, 2008

The Catholic Word is "Cross"

My spiritual director—who, as fate would have it, is on vacation this month (like the proverbial New York City psychiatrists, spiritual directors apparently take off most of July and August)—gave me a marvelous piece of advice last month when I complained of stress.

He is a humble priest in his seventies who punctuates his admonitions with the dangling question "yes?"

"Remember," he said, "that 'stress' is not a Catholic word, yes?

"The Catholic word is 'Cross.'"

I found this bit of wisdom at Dawn Eden’s blog. (Please keep Dawn in your prayers as she continues her medical treatment for thyroid cancer.)

I need to keep this idea close at hand. It is much more peaceful to call my challenges a cross instead of referring to them as stress. Stress implies that I am spinning my wheels with no progress. Carrying my cross says I am moving forward. It may be slow progress. It may be painful progress. But it is progress, nonetheless. I think it also …

A Fish Tale

Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a net thrown into the sea,
which collects fish of every kind.
When it is full they haul it ashore
and sit down to put what is good into buckets.
What is bad they throw away.
Thus it will be at the end of the age.
The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous
and throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.

Our parish is blessed with priests who are great preachers and today was no exception. Father took the above Gospel and reminded us that the Kingdom of Heaven envelops all of us—saints and sinners and everything in between. At the final judgment the angels will sort the good fish from the bad. In the meantime, we are all swimming together. Please also note that the fish are not sorting themselves out. It is not my job to make any decisions about who belongs in the saint bucket and who belongs in the sinner bucket. It is my job to seek holiness and leave the sorting to God.

Father continues that s…

Truly Priceless

If you cringe and cry at the thought of quality wood furniture being painted over with flat black paint, you may not want to read any further. Do understand that I didn’t do this wantonly. It just seemed the right decision.

This all began when I went poking around one of the local thrift shops. If you live in Northern Virginia and enjoy the treasure hunt of thrift shops, you should check out Yesterday’s Rose in Fairfax. I was actually looking for a microwave cart. Our cart that was a very cheap, imitation wood, put-together model was finally giving out after over twenty years. I am also in the process of trying to spruce up our finished basement and make it more of a living area and less of the place we put any and all excess stuff. As I am making my way through the haphazard maze of cheap dinettes and odd chairs I noticed a wooden lamp table stuck under a chrome and glass table. This table looked like it was solidly constructed. There were no gouges or deep nicks. The dovetail joints …

Forty Years Later

On July 25, 1968, Pope Paul VI released his prophetic encyclical Humanae Vitae. His words were ridiculed, denounced, and ignored. His own bishops and priests did not have the courage to stand firm against the cultural tide and champion the wisdom contained in Humanae Vitae. Today we witness the devastating results of this failure. We see a society that is plagued by the scourge of abortion. We see a contraceptive culture that views children as acquisitions rather than gifts from God. Parents are willing to kill their unborn child when they detect imperfections. We see rampant sexual promiscuity. We see fifty percent of all marriages ending in divorce. We see numerous children who are born out of wedlock and never know the benefit of having a father in their lives. Pope Paul VI predicted these dire consequences:

17. 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 …

Operation Evangelization

I try to keep up with what is afoot in the Anglican Communion. The current Anglican turmoil serves as a serious harbinger of danger as it follows the path advocated by many dissident (read “spirit of Vatican II”) Catholics. It has been heartbreaking to watch the Anglicans move farther and farther from Rome and become way too cozy with moral relativism. Currently, many of the world’s Anglican bishops are meeting in Lambeth for their once-a-decade gathering. It is a tumultuous gathering with nearly one third of the Anglican bishops boycotting the meeting because of the disagreements with the American and Canadian churches. The Church of England struck a blow to reconciliation with Rome when it endorsed the ordination of women as bishops just days before the conference began. As part of the conference program, Cardinal Ivan Dias, Prefect of the Roman Catholic Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples addressed the Anglican bishops. His speech was a masterpiece of evangelization. Rea…

Catholic Carnival 182 is waiting for you!

It is once again time for a new Catholic Carnival. Joe at Ho Kai Paulos is hosting this weeks edition. I haven't made my way through all the entries, but with a title like "Naked Bloggers" I had to read Elena's post. She talks about our obligation as Catholic blog readers to always speak the truth:

The entire thing has made me think not so much about Catholic blogging, but more about Catholic blog reading! As a Catholic blog readers, I think we always carry around the obligation to speak the truth, (in love certainly) when we are confronted with immoral or even sinful actions. Indeed the catechism tells us:

1868 Sin is a personal act. Moreover, we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate in them:
- by participating directly and voluntarily in them;
- by ordering, advising, praising, or approving them;

Catholics it seems then have a little problem. It's fine to be a faithful follower of a blog, but when that blogger "lays i…

All Christian--All the Time

There are times when one of our bishops really hits one out of the park with his words. I think Archbishop Chaput did just that with his address at Theology on Tap held in conjunction with World Youth Day. His words are a very good follow-up to my post from a couple of days ago. You have to read the whole thing. I can’t excerpt a section and do it justice. However, consider the following an enticing sample:

We can't really answer that question until we get some things straight about what it means to be a Christian. And that means first getting some things straight about Jesus Christ. This is another one of the by-products of our secular age: we don't really quite know what to think about Jesus anymore. A few years before he became Pope Benedict XVI, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote something that is unfortunately very true. He wrote: "Today in broad circles, even among believers, an image has prevailed of a Jesus who demands nothing, never scolds, who accepts everyone…

About Us

One of the best investments I have ever made for my prayer life is a subscription to the Magnificat. It offers me daily devotions, Mass prayers and readings, and pieces of spiritual reflection. The mediation for today is too good not to share:

About Mary—“Humble and great, more than a creature,” was the way Dante defined her. She possessed none of the requisites of human greatness. Her sole value lies in the fact that she was chosen by God to play a role of superior importance to any human exaltation whatsoever (who has the power to raise a woman to the dignity of Mother of God?) and she always corresponded fully with intelligence and freedom, to the will of her Lord.

About us—Each on of us has also been thought of by God from all eternity and must accomplish that salvific role, for ourselves and for others, which God assigns to us and makes known to us through the various circumstances of our lives, as well as through the “talents” (material goods and personal gifts) which we have rece…

McDonald's Does Not Make Me Smile

I can’t remember the last time I ate at McDonald’s but I can tell you there will be no McDonald’s in my future as long as they equate opposition to same-sex “marriage” and opposition to the gay agenda as hatred.

The American Family Association (AFA) launched the boycott yesterday because McDonald's joined the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce several months ago and placed an executive on the group's board of directors, in addition to donating to the chamber.

The association asked McDonald's to remove itself from the chamber but the burger-maker declined, leading to the boycott. "We're saying that there are people who support AFA who don't appreciate their dollars from the hamburgers they bought being put into an organization that's going to fight against the values they believe in," Tim Wildmon, the association's president, said yesterday.

"Hatred has no place in our culture," McDonald's USA spokesman Bill Whitman said. "…

Colors of Summer

There is nothing wrong with either my camera or your computer monitor. That watermelon really is that yellow. It is also very sweet and tasty. This is one of my finds from Saturday's farmers' market. I enjoy the taste, but it takes a little getting used to the color. I keep expecting it to have a lemony flavor.

I still have a bumper crop of daisies in my garden. But I am now able to add purple coneflowers and yellow rudbeckia (black-eyed Susan) to my bouquets.

An Opportunity for Virtue

I have to admit, I really knew very little about Tony Snow until I began reading his obituaries and eulogies this weekend. I recognized the name and knew he had been part of the political scene, but before today, I could not tell you that he had once been President Bush’s press secretary. I didn’t know he was Catholic. I didn’t know he had a family. After reading this essay he wrote last summer, I wish I had known him better.

Picture yourself in a hospital bed. The fog of anesthesia has begun to wear away. A doctor stands at your feet; a loved one holds your hand at the side. "It's cancer," the healer announces.

The natural reaction is to turn to God and ask him to serve as a cosmic Santa. "Dear God, make it all go away. Make everything simpler." But another voice whispers: "You have been called." Your quandary has drawn you closer to God, closer to those you love, closer to the issues that matter—and has dragged into insignificance the banal concerns …

Know Him by the Company He Keeps

Just in case there is any doubt:

Washington, DC – The Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the political and advocacy arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, today announced its endorsement of Sen. Barack Obama for president of the United States.

"The Planned Parenthood Action Fund is proud to endorse Barack Obama for president of the United States," said Action Fund president Cecile Richards. "He is a passionate advocate for women's rights, and has a long and consistent record of standing up for women's health care. As president, he will improve access to quality health care for women, support and protect a woman's right to choose, support comprehensive sex education to keep our young people healthy and safe, and invest in prevention programs, including family planning services and breast cancer screenings."

On a conference call today with Planned Parenthood Action Fund members from all across the country, Sen. Obama said, "As president I'll…


The political season is in full swing and David Bowie keeps singing in my head. Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes seems to be theme song on everyone’s lips. Change is the motto of Barack Obama. No mention of change from what or to what. Just change. In his book Orthodoxy (first published in 1908) G.K. Chesterton had something to say about such a mindset:

It is true a man (a silly man) might make change itself his object or ideal. But as an ideal, change becomes unchangeable. If a change-worshiper wishes to estimate his own progress he must be sternly loyal to the ideal of change; he must not begin to flirt gaily with the idea of monotony. Progress itself cannot progress. It is worth a remark in passing, that when Tennyson, in a wild and rather weak manner, welcomed the idea of infinite alteration in society, he instinctively took a metaphor which suggests an imprisoned tedium. He wrote—Let the great world spin forever down the ringing grooves of change. He thought of change itself as an unchangeable…

These Thy Gifts

Nothing steeps me in gratitude like a trip to the farmers’ market. Every Saturday morning from May to October growers from Virginia and West Virginia congregate in a nearby commuter lot and sell their wares. It is a carnival atmosphere with the colors and smells of fresh food in abundance. Quail Creek Bakery from West Virginia offers an array of tantalizing baked goods. The Blue Ridge Dairy sells the most magnificent fresh mozzarella cheese. The apple wood smoked mozzarella is heavenly. It is a struggle to limit myself to what I can use in the coming week. Beginning last week I have been able to get sweet corn—picked on Friday and sold on Saturday. Cook it the same day and no added salt or butter is needed. The taste of the naturally sweet corn is enough.

Surrounded by such a bounty I am humbled to be afforded so many blessings. I really should be grateful even when my table is set with food from the local grocery store. Though, for some reason, seeing the fruits of the earth gathered…

A Blueprint for Your Domestic Church

Since the early 1990’s, I have often referred to Bert Ghezzi’s book Keeping Your Kids Catholic. I did a serial discussion of this book when I first started blogging. (a link to this discussion is on the left side bar) While I still heartily recommend this book as a must-read for every parent, I have a new book to add to the list. I mentioned a few days ago that I was reading Catholicism & Society by Rev. Edward J. Hayes, et al. The more I read of this book the more I appreciate the very concrete, practical guidance it gives for building and strengthening the Domestic Church. Consider this:

Is your home a Catholic home? Do Jesus and Mary have an important place in your family? Consider the following checklist and decide:

Are morning and night prayers a daily occurrence in your home?
Do you say grace before and thanks to God after meals?
Do you say a family Rosary every night?
Do you carry a Rosary at all times?
Do you wear a religious medal or a scapular?
Do you read and discuss the Bible…

A swimmingly delightful Catholic Carnival!

I've been a bit negligent in linking to the Catholic Carnivals lately so it is time for me to get back on track. If my last post makes you think of summer, the swimming lesson theme of this week's Catholic Carnival #179 will have you donning your swimsuit and heading for the pool. Before you go, take some time to dive in to the great selection of Catholic reading hosted by Building the Ark.

A Gardening Dream

I have always dreamed of having a garden with such an abundance of flowers that I can cut all the bouquets my heart desires and still have flowers adorning the outside garden. This year my dream is realized. When we moved into this house four years ago, the steeply sloped back yard was covered with a prickly cypress ground cover. Yuck! Most of it died after the first winter we were here so I relished ripping those plants out. But with what do I replace them? I love perennials because I want something that will be fruitful and multiply. It has been slow going since I am contending with heavy clay soil, deer, and bunnies. It is still a work in progress but this summer I am reaping armfuls of daisies as well as hydrangeas, coneflowers, lilies. Take a look!(click on the pictures for a better view)
This is the view from my deck.

Most of the daisies in the back came from this bed in our side yard. See the yellow canna lilies as well?

As we move closer you can see that there are more than just …