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

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

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

Monday, July 28, 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 makes it easier to ask for help. Pride gets in the way of my asking for help sometimes and I sound like a two-year-old, “My do it!!!”
Yet, even Jesus received help carrying his cross on the way to Calvary. Why shouldn’t I accept help with my own cross, whatever it may be.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

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 same theme that has been confronting me recently. We are not rounded up in the net in a random fashion. God has put us in this place and this time for a reason. We may not know the reason, but we can rest assured there is a plan. By our words and deeds we are supposed to help build the defenses against evil and help our neighbors swim with us towards Heaven.

Now this is fine as an abstract thought, but what does it mean in the concrete day-to-day world? First of all, it means keeping our eyes on the ultimate prize. While the waters of this earthly life may feel great, they will not sustain us for eternity. No earthly pleasure is worth our eternal salvation. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? (Mt. 16:26) Therefore, every decision, whether it is professional, family, political, or recreational, must be governed by whether or not it is good for the soul. Is it consistent with Church teachings?

In addition to caring for our own souls, we have an obligation to be mindful of the souls around us. Remembering that the good and the evil are all rounded up together, there are some really difficult folks muddying up the waters around me. I can see what they are doing and I don’t like it one bit. But if I just turn my back on them and remain satisfied that I am not doing what they are doing, I have failed in my mission. I have a responsibility first to pray for the conversion of all those who are living contrary to God’s law. Those advocating abortion, those who promote an unchaste lifestyle, those who worship materialism, those who preach moral relativism all need my prayers. And if the truth be told, I am muddying the waters with my own failings. If I trust God’s mercy will save me from my own sins, I must also trust that his mercy is also available to everyone else no matter how great their offenses. They only need the grace to accept this mercy and repent. So I have a responsibility to pray that they receive that grace.

One of the Spiritual Works of Mercy is to instruct the ignorant. That means I cannot allow myself to be ignorant. I must continue to study and pray and deepen my faith. I must also teach. I teach by example. My life must reflect God’s will. I will not inspire others to holiness if I do not model holiness. I also teach by accurately stating the Truth. It is very uncomfortable in our politically correct culture to speak out for absolute truth. But that is what we are each called to do. Life is sacred from conception to natural death. Marriage is only between one man and one woman and is a lifelong commitment. Getting to Heaven is more important than earthly fame and fortune. With charity and compassion, I am called to preach the truth of the Gospel: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn 14:6)

So I am going to keep swimming along trying to stay mindful of the Kingdom of Heaven. One of these days this net is going to be pulled ashore. My prayer is that both I and those whose lives I have touched will be judged keepers.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

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 of the front drawer were intact. However, the table looked like it had suffered a great deal of abuse. The finish was marred with numerous scratches, stains, and water rings. There were wads of old gum stuck under the tabletop. The thrift shop had put a price of $15.00 on the table, but Thursday they were taking 75% off of all furniture. That means it would cost a whole $3.75 to acquire this table. Sold!

My thought was that I could sand the abused surfaces and paint the table flat black. It would be great for storing a few board games in our game room. I am not much of an expert on furniture refinishing but I can slap on a coat of paint without too much trouble. I figured that by the time I bought the paint, sand paper, and table, I would spend less than $20.00 which fit fine in my budget. I got the table home and took out the electric sander. It was pretty simple to smooth out the surface. It was still pretty stained but that would be covered by the paint. I took the drawer out to sand the face and noticed a signature maker’s mark on the side: Henredon fine furniture. My $3.75 table was a Henredon table. This piece of wood furniture is worthy of a quality facelift. I don’t have the time, skill, or inclination to do this. If I invested in a professional refinishing job I would have a valuable piece of furniture. It would look something like this (I found a picture of a similar model on ebay):

But I don’t want a valuable piece of furniture. I want a sturdy table for the game room. I don’t want to worry that my investment is being marred by family living. So I did it. I painted that quality wood black. It looks great. It is exactly what I wanted.

I will just ignore the fact that beneath those coats of black latex is a potential heirloom waiting to be exposed. Maybe some future generation of thrift shop shoppers will discover this table and give it the treatment it deserves. A crystal vase will grace its newly polished surface. Until then, it is going to hold the tools for family time: dominoes, cards, Cranium, and Trivial Pursuit. And truthfully, such times are the real treasures in life.

Friday, July 25, 2008

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 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.

Limits to Man's Power

Consequently, unless we are willing that the responsibility of procreating life should be left to the arbitrary decision of men, we must accept that there are certain limits, beyond which it is wrong to go, to the power of man over his own body and its natural functions—limits, let it be said, which no one, whether as a private individual or as a public authority, can lawfully exceed. These limits are expressly imposed because of the reverence due to the whole human organism and its natural functions, in the light of the principles We stated earlier, and in accordance with a correct understanding of the "principle of totality" enunciated by Our predecessor Pope Pius XII. (21)

Concern of the Church

18. It is to be anticipated that perhaps not everyone will easily accept this particular teaching. There is too much clamorous outcry against the voice of the Church, and this is intensified by modern means of communication. But it comes as no surprise to the Church that she, no less than her divine Founder, is destined to be a "sign of contradiction." (22) She does not, because of this, evade the duty imposed on her of proclaiming humbly but firmly the entire moral law, both natural and evangelical.

Since the Church did not make either of these laws, she cannot be their arbiter—only their guardian and interpreter. It could never be right for her to declare lawful what is in fact unlawful, since that, by its very nature, is always opposed to the true good of man.

In preserving intact the whole moral law of marriage, the Church is convinced that she is contributing to the creation of a truly human civilization. She urges man not to betray his personal responsibilities by putting all his faith in technical expedients. In this way she defends the dignity of husband and wife. This course of action shows that the Church, loyal to the example and teaching of the divine Savior, is sincere and unselfish in her regard for men whom she strives to help even now during this earthly pilgrimage "to share God's life as sons of the living God, the Father of all men." (23)

Why don’t you mark the fortieth anniversary of this document by reading it today? Reading this document should also be part of every pre-Cana program. Forty years ago our society did not listen to Pope Paul VI. We need to listen now.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

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. Read the whole thing, but this is one of the more remarkable passages:

The theme of evangelisation must be considered in the wider context of the spiritual combat which began in the Garden of Eden with the fall of our first parents, in the wake of fierce hostilities between God and the rebel angels. If this context is ignored in favour of a myopic world-vision, Christ's salvation will be conveniently dismissed as irrelevant.

The spiritual combat, described in the Books of Genesis and Revelation, has continued unabated all down the ages. St Paul described it in very vivid terms: "We are not contending against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Eph 6:12). This combat rages fiercely even today, aided and abetted by well-known secret sects, Satanic groups and New Age movements, to mention but a few, and reveals many ugly heads of the hideous anti-God monster: among them are notoriously secularism, which seeks to build a Godless society; spiritual indifference, which is insensitive to transcendental values; and relativism, which is contrary to the permanent tenets of the Gospel. All of these seek to efface any reference to God or to things supernatural, and to supplant it with mundane values and behaviour patterns which purposely ignore the transcendental and the divine. Far from satisfying the deep yearnings of the human heart, they foster a culture of death, be it physical or moral, spiritual or psychological. Examples of this culture are abortions (or the slaughter of innocent unborn children), divorces (which kill sacred marriage bonds blessed by God), materialism and moral aberrations (which suffocate the joy of living and lead often to profound psychic depression), economic, social and political injustices (which crush human rights), violence, suicides, murders, and the like, all of which abound today and militate against the mind of Christ, who came that "all may have life, and have it in abundance" (Jn 10:10). Two vital institutions of the human society are particularly vulnerable to such a culture of death: the family and the youth. These must, therefore, receive the special attention, guidance and support of those whom the Holy Spirit has placed as shepherds of the flock entrusted to their pastoral care.

Whereas, in the past, the traditional areas of evangelisation were the heart and the home, health and education, care of the sick and the aged, we cannot ignore the new horizons which must be illumined by the light of Christ. Recalling St. Paul's preaching about the "unknown God" in the Areopagus of Athens, we must be aware of the many modern Areopagoi which need to be evangelised today: among these are notably the mass media, the world of science and technology, of politics and social communications, of refugees and migrants, and others.

Then there is the vast gamut of non Christian religions and cultures, with their varied scriptures and sages, prayers and symbols, places of worship and ascetical practices, each exerting a deep influence on the thoughts and life-styles of its followers. This mosaic of religious and cultural -isms is now complicated by a deep questioning about man's identity and purpose in life, rising from the human and social, as well as the physical sciences. While this soul-searching questioning about human life and purpose could be an appropriate context for the proclamation of the Gospel, many answers being proposed in our post-modern world have become disconnected from authoritative sources of moral reasoning, ignoring the transcendental dimension of life and seeking to make God irrelevant. In the Western world, which is increasingly becoming distanced from its Christian traditions and roots, a context of moral confusion has ensued, and sound Christian ethical and moral principles and values are under threat from various quarters.

In the face of such a world context, we Christians - and Bishops, in the first place - can ill afford to remain on the sidelines as passive spectators, or to fall back on a purely maintenance mode, trying to cling on to worn-out clichés, and hiding our light under a bushel (cf Mt 5:15). True to our mission to be "salt of the earth" and "light of the world" and "leaven in the dough", we must be pro-active, and not merely reactive, in reading the signs of the times and projecting our missionary thrust, firmly convinced that He who holds the destinies of humankind in His hands has promised to be with His disciples till the end of time. And hence, as a Chinese proverb goes: "Instead of cursing the darkness, let us light a candle".

You may notice a theme in my most recent blog posts: God calls each of us to a mission; each of us has a unique role to play in Salvation History; each of us must discern our vocation. I didn’t plan to make this the message of the week. It just seems this concept keeps popping up all around me. It is like a spiritual call to arms. The Holy Spirit is saying, “Forward march!” As part of the Church Militant, I guess I better salute smartly and get going!

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 it out there" and we know that "out there" is wrong, in good conscience can we be silent?

qui tacet consentire videtur or

He who is silent appears to consent.

There are many more good thoughts to ponder at the Carnival so head on over and enjoy!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

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 and everything, who no longer does anything but affirm us. . . . The figure is transformed from the 'Lord' (a word that is avoided) into a man who is nothing more than the advocate of all men."

We all know people -- friends or family members or both -- who think about Jesus in these terms. It's hard to avoid. Our culture has given Jesus a make-over. We've remade him in the image and likeness of secular compassion. Today he's not the Lord, the Son of God, but more like an enlightened humanist nice guy.

The problem is this: If Jesus isn't Lord, if he isn't the Son of God, then he can't do anything for us. Then the Gospel is just one more or less interesting philosophy of life. And that's my first point about how we need to live in a secular age: We have to trust the Gospels and we have to trust the Church that gives us the Gospels. We have to truly believe that Jesus is the Son of God and the son of Mary. True God and true man. The One who holds the words of eternal life. If we aren't committed to that truth, then nothing else I say tonight can make any sense.

Second point: Jesus didn't come down from heaven to tell us to go to church on Sunday. He didn't die on the cross and rise from the dead so that we would pray more at home and be a little nicer to our next-door neighbors. The fact that you smile when I say these things means we know intuitively how absurd it is to imagine a privatized, part-time Christianity.

The one thing even non-believers can see is that the Gospels aren't compromise documents. Jesus wants all of us. And not just on Sundays. He wants us to love God with all our heart, all our soul, all our strength, and all our mind. He wants us to love our neighbor as ourselves. That is, with a love that's total.

As I said, you have to read the whole thing to really appreciate its brilliance. It is sophisticated enough for my twenty-year-old to be impressed and straightforward enough for my fourteen-year-old to read it and say, “So it really isn’t what we choose to do with our life, but what God chooses us to do.” Bingo!

After you read it, pass it on to all the young (and not so young) people who are making decisions about the direction of their lives.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Catholic Carnival 181

Do pay a visit to Alexa at Frank,in a Sense & Mirth and enjoy the stunning job she did with Catholic Carnival 181.

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 received from the Lord. Our greatness will depend on how we correspond and how we stand before the eyes of God
Father Gabriele Amorth.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

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. "That includes McDonald's, and we stand by and support our people to live and work in a society free of discrimination and harassment."

You can watch McDonald’s commercial supporting the gay pride march in San Francisco here.

For those of you with children, let me assure you that participating in this boycott will make a very positive impression on your children. Depending on their ages, you don’t have to go into great detail as to why you no longer eat at McDonald's. All you have to say is they are now supporting ideas and actions that go against the teaching of the Catholic Church.

Many years ago when my children were elementary-school age and below, Cheerios cereal was a pantry staple. Then we found out General Mills was a supporter of Planned Parenthood. I stopped buying General Mills products and my children did not participate in the “Box tops for Education” promotion. The Catholic schools in our diocese stopped participating in this promotion as well. It was tough for my kids to give up this breakfast favorite. But it also taught my children that all of our actions must be consistent with our Catholic principles. Now that my children are young adults, they each tell me that the boycott of Cheerios made an important impact on their view of faith in action. I am sure that those of you who forgo Happy Meals will teach a similar lesson.

Monday, July 14, 2008

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.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

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 that occupy our "normal time."

There's another kind of response, although usually short-lived—an inexplicable shudder of excitement, as if a clarifying moment of calamity has swept away everything trivial and tinny, and placed before us the challenge of important questions.

The truth of the matter is each of us has a limited number of days on this earth. Each of us is called to participate in Salvation History in a unique way. This paragraph from the same essay applies to every one of us—not just those who are suffering from a terminal illness:

Through such trials, God bids us to choose: Do we believe, or do we not? Will we be bold enough to love, daring enough to serve, humble enough to submit, and strong enough to acknowledge our limitations? Can we surrender our concern in things that don't matter so that we might devote our remaining days to things that do?

The next time I feel anger, frustration, or fear, I hope I can remember that every challenge, great or small, is an opportunity for virtue.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

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 make sure women have access to affordable health care, including affordable reproductive services. I thank you for your endorsement and your leadership."

This marks only the second time in Planned Parenthood's history that the Action Fund has made an endorsement in a presidential campaign. Last month, the board of the national Planned Parenthood Action Fund voted unanimously to recommend endorsing Senator Obama. That recommendation was ratified by Planned Parenthood's local action organizations, which represent the interests of all 100 Planned Parenthood affiliates.

If you want to glimpse the intrinsically evil force that founded Planned Parenthood, take a look at this post by Dawn Eden. You will see Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger in a 1957 interview with Mike Wallace. Do watch the whole thing but this exchange clearly illustrates Margaret Sanger's support for eugenics.

WALLACE: Do you believe in sin -- When I say believe I don't mean believe in committing sin do you believe there is such a thing as a sin?

SANGER: I think the greatest sin in the world is bringing children into the world--that have disease from their parents, that have no chance in the world to be a human being practically. Delinquents, prisoners, all sorts of things just marked when they're born. That to me is the greatest sin -- that people can -- can commit..

You can also read Margaret Sanger's Plan for Peace here. (Scroll to the bottom of the page) Her main points were:

Second, have Congress set up a special department for the study of population problems and appoint a Parliament of Population, the directors representing the various branches of science: this body to direct and control the population through birth rates and immigration, and to direct its distribution over the country according to national needs consistent with taste, fitness and interest of individuals. The main objects of the Population Congress would be:

a. to raise the level and increase the general intelligence of population.

b. to increase the population slowly by keeping the birth rate at its present level of fifteen per thousand, decreasing the death rate below its present mark of 11 per thousand.

c. to keep the doors of immigration closed to the entrance of certain aliens whose condition is known to be detrimental to the stamina of the race, such as feebleminded, idiots, morons, insane, syphilitic, epileptic, criminal, professional prostitutes, and others in this class barred by the immigration laws of 1924.

d. to apply a stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation to that grade of population whose progeny is tainted, or whose inheritance is such that objectionable traits may be transmitted to offspring.

e. to insure the country against future burdens of maintenance for numerous offspring as may be born of feebleminded parents, by pensioning all persons with transmissible disease who voluntarily consent to sterilization.

f. to give certain dysgenic groups in our population their choice of segregation or sterilization.

g. to apportion farm lands and homesteads for these segregated persons where they would be taught to work under competent instructors for the period of their entire lives.

Planned Parenthood continues to honor their founder by calling their "highest honor", the Margaret Sanger Award.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


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 groove; and so it is. Change is about the narrowest and hardest groove a man can get into.

I wonder if Barack Obama has ever read Chesterton?

UPDATE: Here is a good analysis of the "changes" Obama seeks.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

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 and sold directly by the farmers makes my food seem more Providential.

You can see our trip today yielded plenty of sweet corn, blackberries, peaches, cheese and a variety of breads. Look at the size of those blackberries! I bought three little boxes of these. One box is for us to snack on.

The other two boxes have already been baked into a pie.

The only proper response to such a banquet is:

Bless us O Lord and these thy gifts which we are about to receive from thy bounty. Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

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 often?
Is your home dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus?
Is there a crucifix hanging in a prominent place?
Do you ask God’s help in the solution of family problems?
Do you have a sick-call set for Communion or Anointing of the Sick?
Do you attend church as a family?
Do you go to Confession regularly?
Do the children attend a Catholic school or Catholic religious instruction program?
Do you have religious instruction at home?
Are there Catholic periodicals in your home?
Do you have a crib at Christmas?
Do you send out cards that indicate Christmas is the birth of Christ?
Does Christmas mean the coming of Christ or a chance to get gifts?
Does Easter Sunday mean the resurrection of Christ or new clothes?
Do you ever invite lonesome or needy people into your home?
Do you ever provide a basket of food to a needy family, not just at Thanksgiving and
Christmas but during the rest of the year?

This is not an all-encompassing or exhaustive checklist. Every item is not a requirement set in stone. But do the items on this checklist fit the ambience of your home? Perhaps some of the items give you ideas for ways you can strengthen your family’s Catholic identity. Before you decide to do an extreme makeover of your Catholic family, keep in mind the principles of Pizza Dough Spirituality. Lasting change is accomplished with small incremental nudging changes. If you don’t say a family Rosary every night, can you say one decade every night? If not, can you say one Hail Mary every night? You decide what is a realistic step forward that you can accomplish. But don’t become complacent once this baby step is mastered. Take the next step. Make your home a true Domestic Church.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

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 daisies. Click on the picture and you will see the purple butterfly bush, blanket flowers, speedwell, a white easter lily, and hints of yellow coreopsis and red bee balm.

The speedwell (also known as Veronica) is the blue flower on the left. The blanket flowers are the yellow and orange flowers on the right.

From this angle you can see the purple clematis, a few yellow coreopsis and the bee balm (aka monarda). The bee balm flower always reminds me of a Dr. Suess illustration. I have both vivid red bee balm and a more maroon variety.

The hydrangeas are in full bloom on the other side of the house and they also make gorgeous bouquets.

I have both mophead and lace cap varieties. I didn't plant these. They came with the house. What a bonus!

But the real bonus is being able to add these splashes of color to cheer the inside of my home.