KITCHEN TABLE CHATS

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, April 29, 2008

Catholic Carnival 170

Steven at Book Reviews and More gives us this week's Catholic Carnival. Once again there is a fine array of great Catholic posts. Make your way over and sample a post or two or three. Enjoy!

Journalistic Integrity?

I’ve written several posts about the HPV vaccine. I think the vaccine is ethically sound and has the potential to be a very good strategy for combating the spread of HPV and its sequela, cervical cancer. However, I am firm in my belief that the decision to use this vaccine belongs in the hands of the parents or the patient herself if she is of age. The state has no place in this decision making process.

Michelle at Rosetta Stone shares my opinion on this. She has also blogged a few times on this topic. However, her most recent post offers an even bigger topic. She was interviewed by an ABC news reporter who read her HPV blog posts:

I don't have a problem with a parent making that choice for their child (although I do fear that parents are overly trusting and ignorant of the risks, including death). I'm not saying my children will never receive the vaccine, and I can think of reasons why they should get it. My problem is with governmental interference and the use of my children as human lab rats.

After several minutes of making my point and sticking to it, Mr. Goldman thanked me for my time, but he admitted he was looking for someone who was basically just opposed to the vaccine because they felt it would encourage their children to have sex.

There you have it. This mainstream media reporter was going to keep interviewing people until he found someone who said what he needed to hear to advance his agenda. All contrary opinions would be conveniently left out. Only those that fit his preconceived story line would make it to print. Keep that in mind every time you read or hear “man-on-the-street” quotes. These journalists may claim they are reporting news. The truth is they are manipulating news.

There is just something about this vaccine that brings out the worst in people. The manufacturer, Merck, was shamelessly pouring big bucks into lobbying efforts to make this vaccine state mandated. It turns out there is a competing vaccine on the horizon and Merck was trying to get a jump on the competition by being the only vaccine available when the mandates took effect. I noticed that one of my first posts on the topic caught the eye of Merck. I received a lot of comments on that post supporting my position against a state mandate for this vaccine. Suddenly, an anonymous commenter claiming to be a physician showed up arguing in favor of a state mandate for the vaccine. My site meter showed this anonymous voice was posting from New Jersey, right near Merck headquarters. I guess it could be a coincidence. However, my hunch is this was a Merck troll trying to drum up support. I am not suggesting Merck is any less ethical that any other pharmaceutical company, but they are certainly in the news a lot for their questionable practices. That is why I want want to see a multi-year safety profile before I have my daughter vaccinated.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Most Confusing Sacrament--This Was A Surprise!

I haven’t written too much about my 7th grade CCD class this year. It is actually going pretty well. The joint sessions with the parents have gone great. The kids have been a bit rebellious at times, but nothing unexpected for middle schoolers.

Yet, the last two weeks have weighed heavily on me.We just finished covering the seven sacraments in detail. Which sacrament do you think was the most confusing for my students? About which sacrament do you think they had the most erroneous ideas? It wasn’t the Eucharist. They really didn’t blink an eye when I told them about the True Presence. They had no questions about how what appears to be bread could actually be the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ. There were no problems with Confession either. In fact, several of them enthusiastically witnessed to the great feeling of relief and joy following the Sacrament of Reconciliation. No. The sacrament that caused the most consternation was Holy Matrimony.

The students had a very hard time understanding the difference between the civil legal concept of marriage and the sacramental concept of marriage. The picture of marriage that the Church is offering them is not what they are seeing and hearing. For each of the sacraments we have covered the proper form, matter, and minister. For Holy Matrimony the proper matter is a baptized Christian man and a baptized Christian woman who each have the proper disposition and intent for married life. Part of that proper intent includes being open to the gift of life. The complete self-giving love of marriage should mirror the love of Christ for His Church. This is a lifelong commitment.

Of course one of my students asks, “What about gay marriage?” I explain there cannot be such a thing. “Oh yes there can. Not in Virginia but Massachusetts has gay marriage”. Then the other objections and challenges to the holy image of marriage come pouring forth:
“My aunt has been married and divorced three times. Marriage doesn’t’ have to be for your whole life.”

“My sister lives with her boyfriend. You don’t have to get married.”

“You don’t really have to have children. You can if you want to.”

“My teacher at school said homosexual relationships are just as important as heterosexual relationships so it isn’t fair to discriminate and treat them differently.”

“Lots of famous people have babies and don’t get married so I don’t see what the big deal is.”


The school “family life education” classes (school district euphemism for sex ed), the celebrity tabloids, movies, television, and the experiences of family and friends have already formed a grossly disordered image of marriage for these twelve and thirteen year olds. In two short class periods, I cannot peel back all of these misperceptions. I sent the following email to the parents:

Last night we covered the second sacrament of service, Holy Matrimony. Actually, I think the class discussion went very well. However, I did see there was more confusion about this sacrament than any other we have studied. It is very clear that our secular culture's view of marriage has strongly influenced your children's perceptions of marriage. We are going to continue discussing this topic next week as we cover the lesson on chastity. I strongly encourage you to carefully review last night's lesson with your child. It is summarized on our class web site. I also urge you to read paragraphs 1638-1666 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This will greatly help you answer your child's questions.


Next month my parents will celebrate fifty years of marriage. The month after that my husband’s parents will celebrate fifty years of marriage. I am very grateful that we each are blessed with a strong model of marriage to guide us. I hope we can be equally effective mentors for our own children. After teaching this class it is clear that many children do not have strong role models for marriage.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Pope Benedict's Secret

The National Catholic Register has a very good piece by Fr. John Bartunekthat looks at the amazing appeal Pope Benedict has for Catholics. He is a quiet man. He doesn't have the dramatic flair of Pope John Paul II. Yet he is irresistible. Why? Consider this:

If every Catholic hoped as deeply as he does in the power of God’s grace, and if every Catholic strove as valiantly for that same unbreakable integrity between belief, word, and action, then the Church itself would begin to exercise a power of attraction strong enough to draw forth from this turbulent, secular age, a renewed, vigorous, and truly Christian, culture.

Catholic Carnival 169: Pope Benedict XVI Wrap-Up

We belong to the Lord has a wonderful Catholic Carnival waiting for you. Not surprisingly, there are a great many posts about the recent visit of Pope Benedict XVI. So if you find yourself missing Papa or you want to ponder the impact of his visit a little longer, head on over for a great selection of posts.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Thy Kingdom Come

Last week was an exciting time to be Catholic in the United States. Pope Benedict’s visit energized the faithful. Now what? Well, in addition to rereading and reflecting upon his various sermons and addresses, the Pope has asked us to pray. And he was very specific about how he wants us to pray:

The Pope urged the more than 58,000 people gathered in Yankee's Stadium today for the last major event of his five-day visit to pray "in the Lord’s own words: 'Thy Kingdom come.'"

"This prayer needs to shape the mind and heart of every Christian in this nation," he said. "It needs to bear fruit in the way you lead your lives and in the way you build up your families and your communities.

"It needs to create new 'settings of hope' where God’s kingdom becomes present in all its saving power."


Imagine if every Catholic household gathered every day to pray the Our Father together. Pray it as part of your grace before meals. Pray it as your bedtime prayer. But pray it together. I can’t help but believe that such a practice will strengthen our families, strengthen our communities, and strengthen our Church.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Man the Life Boats!

A frequent occurrence in my life is that lessons from multiple sources will converge into a common theme. The most recent convergence began last week as I read Fr. Robert Araujo’s response to Fr. Thomas Reese’s essay on reforming the Vatican. Fr. Araujo responded in such a cordial manner to Fr. Reese’s suggestions that the Vatican needed to operate more like a secular institution. He clearly refuted Fr. Reese’s many errors, but it was always done with an abundance of charity. I was humbled by his generous spirit.

This morning I was reading one of my favorite blogs, Midwest Conservative Journal (MCJ). This is an orthodox Episcopal blog that chronicles the trials and tribulations of today’s Episcopal Church as it strays from the Faith handed down from the Apostles. I read this blog because it is well written and the criticisms are often laced with an unbeatable sense of humor. It is important to keep an eye on the happenings of the Episcopal Church because it is a harbinger of what happens when one focuses on earthly values and expects a church to conform to the culture rather than expecting a culture to rise up to the standards of the Church.

Much has been written at MCJ about the recent papal visit. I found this post quite interesting. Some Episcopalians are wondering if the Pope’s words at the ecumenical gathering were aimed directly at them:

Benedict decried the "splintering" of Christian churches over "so-called ’prophetic actions' that are based on a hermeneutic not always consonant with the datum of Scripture and Tradition." Such actions, he said, cause Christian communities to "give up the attempt to act as a unified body, choosing instead to function according to the idea of ’local options,’" thus losing their connections to Christians in other times and places. Some, but not all, interpreted that as a veiled reference to controversy in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.

Most of the comments on this blog come from Episcopalians or former Episcopalians who are disgusted, hurt, and angry with the current Episcopal leadership and the direction in which these leaders are taking the Episcopal church. Many cheered on Pope Benedict and averred that his words were most definitely a warning shot across the bow. Some went so far as to say it was more of a well-deserved cannon shot below the water line. The best comment however, came from one of the MCJ’s regular Catholic commentators:

Wasn't a shot at all. It was the sound of life rafts inflating after being thrown over the side.


Then I went to Mass and the priest gave an absolutely wonderful homily. We went to a parish that is not our home parish. Before the priest began his homily he asked us to pray with him that his lips would only speak the truth and our ears would be open to hear the truth. We then all prayed a Hail Mary. I don’t know if this is his regular custom, but it certainly does make one focus on the homily. He then began to talk about Heaven. He made it quite clear that Heaven cannot be entered if one’s heart is full of pride. One does not cross Heaven’s threshold with an air of superiority or self-righteousness. Purgatory is populated with those who try. They need an attitude adjustment before entering the pearly gates.

So what did I learn from these events? I am an evangelist and a catechist as I write this blog, teach religious education classes, or just explain my faith to those I meet. I must go about this with charity. I must make sure that my words and actions do not appear to be a shot across anyone’s bow. Rather, I want to be manning a life boat.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Welcome to the USA and Happy Birthday Pope Benedict XVI

Thanks to Esther for this graphic!

I am so excited! The Pope arrived safe and sound yesterday evening. Don't forget to offer a prayer of thanksgiving and continue to pray for the Pope's journey. May his words touch many hearts in spite of the barrage of Catholic naysayers. I will not be attending any of the papal events, but my daughter will be attending tomorrow's Mass at the Washington Nationals stadium. I truly believe the impact of this visit will unfold over many years. There will be conversions. There will be discernment. Pray that many souls will be open to Christ's graces and blessings.

Aggie Catholics has the transcript of the Pope's address to President Bush and to the American People at today's welcoming ceremony.

Catholic Carnival 168

The Pope is visiting the United States and suddenly it is fashionable to be Catholic. However, much of what is touted as Catholic is a far cry from faithful Catholicism. Catholic Carnival 168 to the rescue! Ebeth at a Catholic Mom Climbing the Pillars hosts this great collection of authentically Catholic reflections. Enjoy!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Hope to Begin Again

Hence there are also disputes, disagreements, and controversies among saints. And I find this very comforting, because we see that the saints have not “fallen from Heaven.” They are people like us, who also have complicated problems.

Holiness does not consist in never having erred or sinned. Holiness increases the capacity for conversion, for repentance, for willingness to start again and, especially, for reconciliation and forgiveness.--Pope Benedict XVI discussing the disagreement between Paul and Barnabas in his book, The Apostles

Actually, what I find quite comforting is that Pope Benedict finds this quite comforting. If the Holy Father is seeking solace for his imperfections I shouldn’t feel too bad that I don’t feel like I have it all together either.

The past few days have been pretty harried. Nothing too major. A home improvement project is sputtering. A child came home with that dreaded announcement: “I have a school project”. The dog is alternating between acting like a two-year-old and acting like a teenager. (Actually, those two are not that different) My patience is stretched to a fine thread. I would not use the word “charitable” to describe some of my responses lately. But there is hope for my quest of holiness—if only I am willing to repent, reconcile, forgive, and start again.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Doctors of Life in a Culture of Death

This article at First Things resonates loudly with me.

In November 2007, the Committee on Ethics of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) published Committee Opinion # 385 entitled, “The Limits of Conscientious Refusal in Reproductive Medicine.” The committee opinion sought to “maximize accommodation of an individual’s religious or moral beliefs while avoiding imposition of these beliefs on others or interfering with the safe, timely, and financially feasible access to reproductive health care that all women deserve.”

Unfortunately, the balance struck by the committee between the right of conscience of physicians and the reproductive health care of women so emphasizes patient autonomy that it turns physicians into medical automatons forced to act against their best ethical and medical judgment. As pointed out on March 14, 2008, by Health and Human Services secretary Mike Leavitt: “The ACOG ethics report would force physicians to violate their conscience by referring patients for abortions or taking other objectionable actions, or risk losing their board certification.” Put simply, committee Opinion 385 could be the end of the pro-life doctor.


I am not an OB-GYN doctor. I was trained and board certified as a family physician. But, it was this sort of thinking that made it very easy to walk away from clinical medicine. (this sort of thinking coupled with dealing with insurance companies and the ever present threat of lawsuits) As part of an Air Force family on the move I was never in a position to set up my own practice. I was always an employee. I wanted to practice medicine in a way that left me free to be the mother I wanted to be and to be true to my Catholic principles. After we made our last move I just didn’t see the point of collecting yet another state license (I’ve had eight so far) when the prospects of finding a part-time out-patient only job that would allow me to adhere to my conscience were virtually non-existent. You can’t just walk in and say, “I want to work part-time; you pay the malpractice coverage and the tail coverage; I am not going to prescribe contraceptives or refer patients for vasectomies and tubal ligations. I won’t refer for abortions. I won’t prescribe the morning-after pill; etc.” From all accounts, my previous employers and patients thought I was a great doctor. But I wasn’t great enough to go anywhere and make those kinds of demands.

I have no regrets. It was the right time in our lives for me to leave clinical practice. I have moved to the writing and teaching mode and hopefully will be getting some advanced training in the field of bioethics. However, I worry about the younger doctors that follow me. Actually, I worry more about the bright, principled potential doctors who turn away from this profession because they don’t see it as compatible with their ethical standards. The Catholic Medical Association offers support and serves as a voice for Catholic physicians. But I don’t think the controlling forces of America’s medical machine are listening.

St. Luke, Pray for us!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Papal Visit Drinking Game

Last Sunday our parish priest warned us the Mainstream Media would be pulling out all the major dissenters to provide commentary on Pope Benedict's visit to the United States. We could almost make it a Catholic drinking game: Everyone has to down his glass and pour another round whenever a major media outlet trots out Fr. Thomas Reese, Fr. Richard McBrien, Fr. Andrew Greely, or Sr. Joan Chittister. We can probably at least take a sip whenever we hear from the spokesperson for Call to Action, Voice of the Faithful, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, or Womyn Priests.

Update: As Paul points out in the comments, the rounds of this game could go by fast and furiously. Therefore, you may want to consider a non-alcoholic beverage. I thought about shots of espresso but that would probably keep me wired until Pentecost. So I may be chugging orange juice. Also, before you drain your glass, remember to say a prayer for the success and safety of the Pope's journey as well as a prayer for the enlightenment of whichever Catholic naysayer prompted you to quaff your beverage.

Update #2: If you want to see authentically Catholic coverage of the Pope's visit, go to the EWTN website. They have streaming live video of the major events as well as faithful analysis.

My Kind of Earth Day Shirt

After writing this post and then listening to all the environmentalists supporting voluntary extinction for the human race in order to save the planet, I just love this T-shirt.




You can find it at Promo Presto.

(H/T to Creative Minority Report for the link)

Catholic Carnival in Spring

Sarah is enjoying springtime as she brings us this week's Catholic Carnival. She has provided a veritable bouquet of Catholic writing. Do wander over and enjoy the springtime fresh ideas!

Catholics Come Home

Catholic News Agency is reporting on a new lay apostolate, Catholics Come Home.org

In less than three weeks, 3,000 Catholics returned to the Church in the Diocese of Phoenix due to the effort of a new lay apostolate, CatholicsComeHome.org. The program consists of a website and commercials aired on local television that effectively portray the truth and goodness of the Catholic Church.

In an interview with CNA, Catholics Come Home, Inc. founder and president, Tom Peterson explained that the ads are designed to take people to the website, CatholicsComeHome.org, where they can find answers to questions about Church teachings, and also to put them into contact with their local parish to be led home, back to the Catholic Church.

Intrigued, I went to the web site for Catholics Come Home.org. You have got to check out this site. Watch their two commercials, “Epic” and “Movie”. They both brought tears to my eyes. Then share this site. Most especially, share it with a lukewarm or lapsed Catholic. The Pope’s upcoming visit is going to stir those who have drifted from the Church. This web site is a wonderful way to nudge these wandering souls back home. I’ve added a link to this site on my sidebar under Catholic Links You Should Have.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Peter Kreeft: The GK Chesterton of Our Times

Peter Kreeft is one of the most gifted Catholic writers of our time. Fortunately, he is also one of the most prolific. My husband suggested that Peter Kreeft may very well be the G.K. Chesterton of our time. I don’t think that overstates this man’s potential influence. David Hartline at The Catholic Report links to one of Dr. Kreeft’s recent lectures. It is a sobering analysis of our current culture, a clarion call to action, and a message of hope that the culture war can be won if we turn to our faith and ask for and accept God’s grace.

We should challenge ourselves to give Him fifteen minutes a day in totally focused prayer, and gradually work our way up to even more prayer time. It will change our lives. We need to stop doing and just be. But, it is difficult, for we are addicted to our "time-saving" ways.

The enemy fears prayer as much as Dracula fears the crucifix. Dracula takes blood; Christ gives His Blood. Dracula focuses on "my body;" Christ gives His Body in the Eucharist. Abortion is the anti-Eucharist, the perfect "sacrament" of the Culture of Death.

What Can We Do to Win the Culture War?

First and foremost, we must have faith, and we must feed that faith through:

1. Contemplative prayer

2. The sacrament of confession

3. The Eucharist

Weapons and Tactics:

We must give a "Yes" response to God, just as Mary did: "Be it done to me according to Thy word." We must let God into the deepest parts of our lives and of our being. Please be a saint.


If you are looking for more of Peter Kreeft’s writing, I have to recommend Catholic Christianity. This is his comprehensive study of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. If you are looking for something for the middle school to high school age group, you have to read Because God is Real. This is a phenomenal book that offers straight answers that young people can understand without ever being condescending or sappy. As Peter Kreeft said, he did not write a book for young people. He wrote an adult book that young people can understand. This book is perfect for those studying for Confirmation as well as their parents. In fact, in the introduction, Peter Kreeft tells the young reader to make sure his parents read this book too. My son and some of his Confirmation buddies are starting up a group study of this book.

Peter Kreeft describes our times as a "Spiritual Hiroshima". Yet he is not a prophet of doom. He affirms there can be no defeat when we align ourselves with God. The question is do we have the courage and the will to do so.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Do You Assist At Mass?

Did you assist at Mass this weekend? When you read that question, did you think I was asking if you were an altar server, a reader, an usher, or an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist? Truthfully, we are each called to assist at Mass. We are called to pray the Mass reverently. We are called to offer our own sacrifices with the sacrifice on the altar. We are called to receive Holy Communion if we are properly disposed. From the EWTN teaching library:

363. How should we assist at Mass?

We should assist at Mass with reverence, attention, and devotion.

(a) There are different ways of assisting at Mass devoutly: using the missal to follow the priest, saying the Mass prayers as found in a prayer book; singing hymns; and the like.

364. What is the best method of assisting at Mass?

The best method of assisting at Mass is to unite with the priest in offering the Holy Sacrifice, and to receive Holy Communion.

(a)It is evident from the words of the priest himself that we do unite with him in offering up the Holy Sacrifice. After the Offertory he turns to the people and says: "Pray, brethren, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God the Father Almighty." In the second commemoration of the Canon of the Mass he says: "Remember, O Lord, Thy servants . . . for whom we offer, or who offer up to Thee, this sacrifice of praise . . . "

The phrase “assist at Mass” rather than “attend Mass” is rarely used anymore. It was more common in the pre-Vatican II days. Yet this phrasing captures the concept of full and active participation touted by Vatican II much better than saying, “attend Mass”. The priest offers the Sacrifice of the Mass. We assist him with our own prayers and sacrifices. By merely saying we attend Mass we put ourselves in the role of passive spectators. The Mass becomes a spectacle to observed. Perhaps that is why some seek to “liven it up” with happy-clappy music and liturgical dance. Perhaps that is why some priests feel the need to become stand-up comics. After all, the congregation showed up. They need to be engaged by something.

Yet the Mass is not about those of us in the pews. The Mass is about the awesome supernatural event that occurs on the Altar. The sacrifice of Calvary is made truly present. Heaven and Earth are joined. Saints and angels gather about the altar at the moment of Consecration. By faithfully assisting at Mass we share in the fruits of the Mass. Again, from the EWTN teaching library:

(b) Besides the purpose for which the Mass is offered and the effects that it produces, there are also special fruits of the Mass. The fruits Of the Mass are the blessings that God bestows through the Mass upon the celebrant, upon those who serve or assist at it, upon the person or persons for whom it is offered, and also upon all mankind, especially the members of the Church and the souls in purgatory.

(c)The measure of these blessings depends especially on the dispositions of those to whom they are given.

I think it would be a good idea to go back to speaking of assisting at Mass. Perhaps this simple change in our language will help to convey the true Spirit of the Liturgy. The question will no longer be “What did I get out of Mass?” Instead we each will ask, “What did I give to the Mass?”

Saturday, April 05, 2008

You've Got to Be Kidding

Since we became dog owners a couple of months ago we have discovered just how many different ways you can spend money on your dog. Now I want my dog to be healthy and happy so I will happily spend money on a good quality dog food and necessary meds like heartworm prevention and flea control medicine. I also like to keep my furniture and shoes intact so I make sure she has a good supply of chew toys. However, you will never ever see me splurging on a wig for my dog. Apparently some people do. You can get wigs, hair extensions, and hi-lites for your canine coiffure.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Catholic Carnival Time!

Bryan Murdaugh brings us this week's Catholic Carnival. What a great collection of posts. I really had to laugh when I read the post St. Raffle, pray for us! Our parish is in the middle of a 5-car raffle fund raiser and I know my children would be invoking the intercession of "St. Raffle" if they thought about it!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Fur Elise


Athena, our labradinger, is full of surprises!

It is Tough to Be Catholic

Please take the time to read this post from Red Neck Woman and this post from Erika and the comments from this post. Take your time. I’ll wait.

Then consider my experience a couple of weeks ago. I was attending a social gathering of ladies. I would consider most of those attending more of acquaintances than close friends. One woman was discussing a recent wedding. She was perturbed that the priest was adamant during the rehearsal that the readers bowed as they came up to read. I merely commented that the priest felt compelled to ensure proper reverence was given especially if the tabernacle was located in the sanctuary. She didn’t think the priest needed to be so picky. Well, this unleashed a diatribe of mean priest stories. Interestingly, most of those offering stories call themselves Catholic. I had no idea so many in this group were Catholic. We heard about the Baptism where only one of the parents was Catholic and the other was Jewish. The Jewish in-laws were present at the Baptism. And can you imagine, in this Catholic Church during a Catholic sacrament this Catholic priest clearly stated the Catholic teaching about the necessity of Baptism for salvation? How insensitive to the presence of the Jewish in-laws. And you know the younger priests are the worst. They are so “rigid”. Of course there was the “former Catholic” who declared she left the Church when a priest proclaimed in his homily that women should not work outside the home. She is a mother with a career so she obviously couldn’t stay in such a church. I didn’t offer much of a defense other than to say priests are human and they each have strengths and weaknesses. Should I have said more? I didn’t want to cloud the evening with an argumentative discourse on religion.

Somewhere in this experience and these recent readings there is a theme. I can’t quite put my finger on it but all of this seems to be pointing in the same direction. I guess the easy analysis is there is a whole lot of ignorance out there and we catechists and evangelists (which we are all called to be) have a big job before us. But I think the issue is bigger than that. It is more than just a lack of education in the faith. There are so many who think they know what the Catholic Church is and what the Catholic Church teaches. They haven’t read the Church documents or studied the writings of the Church fathers or read the analysis of modern faithful Catholic authors or even read the teachings of our modern bishops and popes. Their whole schooling in Catholicism is based on anecdotal rants like I heard at my gathering. This ignorance is rampant among Catholics. And you know what? They don’t want to know anything differently. To acknowledge the true teachings of the Church would be to acknowledge the counter-cultural demands of our faith. To accept these teachings would mean they have to challenge themselves. And that is too hard.

For example, if you really understood and accepted the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, would you separate yourself from it because one priest gave a homily that you didn’t like? I actually know the priests at the parish of this “former Catholic”. I can almost guarantee you that none of them ever preached a woman shouldn’t work outside the home. I can guarantee that they preached about the sacredness of the parenting vocation. Your responsibilities as a parent far outweigh your career advancement and success. Every mother with a career outside the home (myself included for many years) spends a lot of time second guessing herself as to whether or not she is balancing the demands of work and home properly. To have these doubts raised at Church was probably uncomfortable. But rather than use the teachings of the Church as a gauge to judge her career decisions, this "former Catholic" chose to leave a Church where those uncomfortable issues would be raised. She says she is so much happier to be someplace with peppy music and lots of hugs. It is just so comfortable.

But there is the rub. Christ doesn’t call us to be comfortable. Christ calls us to pick up our cross and carry it with Him. Read the Beatitudes. We will be poor and meek and hungry and mournful and persecuted. And this is a good thing! Christ calls us not to seek earthly comfort but rather eternal joy. His Church, the Catholic Church, is tough.