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

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

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

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Tortoise and the...

My morning adventure began before I had my first cup of coffee. It was not the usual caffeine-deprived morning adventure like turning the coffee maker on without putting coffee or water in it. No, this was a rescue mission.

First it must be noted that four dogs now abide in my home. Athena is my black Lab mix. She is purported to be a Labradinger--Lab and Springer Spaniel. I just know that she is smart and sweet but in this pack of dogs she comes off as the bossy big sister.

Then there is Hazzard. He belongs to my second son. He is a black Lab/German Shepherd mix. His ears always look like that. That is part of his charm. He is a great big teddy bear with a bark that is more of a bellow. He is a dog of few words but when he chooses to bark, it reverberates through the trees.

Chewy is my daughter-in-law's miniature Dachshund. Just call him Napoleon. There is nothing that the big dogs do that he does not try to do. He is insulted if you offer him a miniature toy. Somehow, he has convinced all the Labs he is really as big as he thinks he is. He is the alpha dog. When he barks, the Labs obey.

Finally, the star of my morning adventure is Bonnie. She belongs to my oldest son and has also moved in with us since he deployed to Afghanistan. She is a one-year-old Black Lab. She still has a lot of puppy in her. "All mach and no direction" pretty much sums up Bonnie.

The thing about having a pack of dogs in the house is that they function like a pack. There is only one thought per four dogs. If one goes outside, they all go outside. If one is hungry, they all are hungry. If one wants to play with the green and white chew bone, they all want to play with that very same green and white chew bone. It does not matter that there are at least four other green and white chew bones available. Only one specific bone can meet the desires of all four dogs.

This morning the dogs decided they needed to go outside. They thundered through the door as a giant black mass with a dot of brown mixed in. They did not get far. Bonnie caught sight of a box tortoise taking a morning stroll. I know that slow and steady wins the race, but it would have been in this tortoise's best interest to have moved more like a hare. Instead, he pulled into his shell, doing his best imitation of a rock. Alas, Bonnie likes rocks. She scooped up the tortoise and began running super-sonic circles around the yard. Assuming Bonnie had a desirable toy, the other dogs took up the chase. Bonnie's circles now included evasive actions with quick cuts and changes in direction. In the process she periodically launched the tortoise into a wild airborne trajectory only to retrieve him and resume her erratic running.

With the help of my son and a handful of dog treats I was able to convince Bonnie to give up the tortoise and I corralled the dogs inside. The tortoise lay motionless outside my back door. However, after about an hour, I noticed he poked his head out of his shell. A few minutes later, he was out of sight.

Unfortunately, he did not go very far. The next time I let the dogs out, Hazzard spied Mr. Tortoise beneath the wisteria bush. Bonnie was thrilled to rediscover her "toy" and the game began anew. I was quicker about getting her to give up the tortoise this time. I scooped him up and took him to the woods, outside the range of the dogs' wireless containment system. Bonnie was not to be deterred. Her back legs trembled as she withstood the shocks to pick up this most amazing "rock". Once again I was able to rescue the tortoise. This time I deposited him much farther out into the woods. I did not stick around to make sure he once again emerged unharmed from his shell. I am sure he is traumatized. I hope he finds the tortoise equivalent of a good cup of coffee or a shot of Jack Daniels.

Monday, April 25, 2011


Sometimes your bumper stickers send more of a message than you think. This weekend I was behind a car that had three stickers:

"Obama/Biden 2008"

"Save a live--Adopt! National Animal Rescue League"

"My body--my choice. Don't let grumpy old men take away your right to an abortion"

Friday, April 22, 2011

Divine Mercy Novena begins today

I hope you are able to take advantage of the Church's beautiful liturgies of the Triduum. They offer a perfect spiritual preparation to comprehend the reality of Christ's Passion, Death, and Resurrection. Overlapping this, is the beginning of the Divine Mercy Novena. You can find the prayers here. The Pray More Novenas web site will even email you the prayer each day.

I will be offering this novena in a special way for my mother. It was her favorite devotion. This is also an appropriate time to remember Pope John Paul II. He will be beatified on Divine Mercy Sunday.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Ascent Towards Holiness

I began Lent with thoughts from Pope Benedict about how this liturgical season was supposed to find us different at Easter than when we began on Ash Wednesday. Lent is a time for moving us towards holiness. As we enter Holy Week, Pope Benedict XVI also reflects on holiness. Do read the whole thing. It is the perfect reflection to keep in mind this entire week. Here is a snippet:

Our procession today is meant, then, to be an image of something deeper, to reflect the fact that, together with Jesus, we are setting out on pilgrimage along the high road that leads to the living God. This is the ascent that matters. This is the journey which Jesus invites us to make. But how can we keep pace with this ascent? Isn’t it beyond our ability? Certainly, it is beyond our own possibilities. From the beginning men and women have been filled – and this is as true today as ever – with a desire to “be like God”, to attain the heights of God by their own powers. All the inventions of the human spirit are ultimately an effort to gain wings so as to rise to the heights of Being and to become independent, completely free, as God is free. Mankind has managed to accomplish so many things: we can fly! We can see, hear and speak to one another from the farthest ends of the earth. And yet the force of gravity which draws us down is powerful. With the increase of our abilities there has been an increase not only of good. Our possibilities for evil have increased and appear like menacing storms above history. Our limitations have also remained: we need but think of the disasters which have caused so much suffering for humanity in recent months.

The Fathers of the Church maintained that human beings stand at the point of intersection between two gravitational fields. First, there is the force of gravity which pulls us down – towards selfishness, falsehood and evil; the gravity which diminishes us and distances us from the heights of God. On the other hand there is the gravitational force of God’s love: the fact that we are loved by God and respond in love attracts us upwards. Man finds himself betwixt this twofold gravitational force; everything depends on our escaping the gravitational field of evil and becoming free to be attracted completely by the gravitational force of God, which makes us authentic, elevates us and grants us true freedom.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Advice for the new Catholic family

In just two short weeks there will be many new Catholic faces in the pews. Thousands of candidates and catechumens are completing their preparation to enter full communion with the Catholic Church. While their preparation has covered the basics, learning about the faith is the work of a lifetime. Many of these converts are not entering alone. They have families who may or may not be familiar with what a Catholic family looks like. What is a Catholic family supposed to do? Of course (We hope!!) their preparation has covered the big points about marriage and children. But what are those little things that should make a Catholic family different?

The series I did several years ago on Keeping your Kids Catholic (It is linked in the sidebar) goes into a lot of details. However, I would love to know what simple advice you would give to a new convert about creating a Catholic family. How do you establish a Catholic identity within your home?

My advice is that you first establish you are a Catholic family by attending Mass every Sunday--rain, shine, and soccer games notwithstanding. This puts Christ at the center of your family life. All activities revolve around Him and are subservient to Him.

Secondly, pray together. Begin with grace before every meal--even those meals you eat at a restaurant. It doesn't have to be conspicuous or loud. It just needs to be a few seconds of bowed heads and everyone saying "Bless us, O Lord,…" Any words that thank God for the blessing of this meal are appropriate, but I would recommend learning the classic Catholic grace:

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

It immediately puts you in solidarity with other Catholics. Also, a family can never pray the Rosary together enough. Don't worry if this seems impossible at first. Begin with a single Hail Mary together. Then eventually increase to a decade of the Rosary. With a little persistence, your family can pray the Rosary together. I promise you will not be disappointed in the results.

Incorporate the liturgical calendar into your family life. Put a Catholic calendar up in your home and keep track of both the major and minor feasts and celebrations. There is so much more to the liturgical year than just the holy days of obligation. The various feasts and memorials are wonderful tools for learning about the Communion of Saints.

Finally, give your home a Catholic look by including religious items such as a crucifix, religious picture or statue of a saint in your home decor.

So, dear readers, what advice would you offer a newly minted Catholic family?

Sunday, April 10, 2011


All of the crosses and statues were covered today. Fr. Z offers a beautiful explanation of Passiontide. Please take a few minutes and read it. It will prepare you to explain the liturgical season to those who may not understand.

Friday, April 08, 2011

A business must be able to fail in order to succeed

Finally. Some common sense words about the economy.

No vouchers but yes to abortion

President Obama and his Democratic colleagues in Congress took away school vouchers from the children of Washington DC. Now they are willing to withhold pay from the military and other federal workers in order to ensure that the most dangerous place for a child in Washington DC is in his mother's womb.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

More about those "grass roots activists"

The ever vigilant Thomas Peters, aka American Papist, took my post from yesterday and ran with it. Read his post and see how it looks like Planned Parenthood may very well be behind the hiring efforts to increase the number of pro-abortion "grass roots activists".

His summary:

So, let’s recap: Mere days before a major pro-abortion Congressional lobbying day in Washington DC, an organization that has worked with Planned Parenthood before posts an advertisement named “PP DC CL” in a local Craigslist job section to hire people willing to “fight the anti-choice Congress.”

In other words, this very well may be yet another example of our tax dollars at work paying for Planned Parenthood to pay people to … get us to pay them with more of our tax dollars.

Pastoral means causing both smiles and tears

Fr. Robert Araujo offers a cogent critique of Marquette University's decision to offer "domestic partner benefits" for its homosexual employees who are in legal domestic partnerships registered with the clerk of their county. This policy only applies to homosexual couples. It does not include heterosexual couples in registered domestic partnerships. The University's president explains this move:

"If we are truly pastoral in our application of the Jesuit principle of cura personalis, I asked myself if I could reconcile that with denying health benefits to a couple who have legally registered their commitment to each other.”

My granddaughter just learned to giggle. This may sound like a non sequitur and the ramblings of a proud Gramma. I will give you the latter but stay with me here. Do you remember when your baby first giggled? You would do absolutely anything to elicit that chuckle. You made funny faces, played peek-a-boo, and otherwise thoroughly humiliated yourself. Nothing made you happier than making your baby happy. However, as your precious little one grew, bringing a smile gave way to teaching important lessons. Giving in to every demand for sweets and toys would certainly bring smiles but a good parent knows there comes a time to say "no". There may be a tantrum. You steel yourself against the tears. The first few times you may even cry a little too. But you know the value of these lessons is worth the tears. The smiles will come again and in greater number because you are saying "no" now.

The president of Marquette University claims he is being "pastoral" with his support of homosexual relationships. Unfortunately, this is often the claim of those who condone behaviors that are contrary to Church teaching. To them, being pastoral means always eliciting giggles and never causing tears. Yet as every parent knows, such a strategy is a pathway to raising a spoiled brat. What should a Jesuit university do? Fr. Araujo suggests they look to the guiding principles of the Jesuits:

Whoever desires to serve as a soldier of God beneath the banner of the cross in our Society, which we desire to be designated by the name of Jesus, and to serve the Lord alone and the Church, His spouse, under the Roman pontiff, the vicar of Christ on earth, should, after a solemn vow of perpetual chastity, poverty, and obedience, keep what follows in mind. He is a member of a Society founded chiefly for this purpose: to strive especially for the defense and propagation of the faith and for the progress of souls in Christian life and doctrine, by means of public preaching, lectures, and any other ministration whatsoever of the word of God, and further by means of the Spiritual Exercises, the education of children and unlettered persons in Christianity, and the spiritual consolation of Christ’s faithful through hearing confessions and administering the other sacraments. Moreover, this Society should show itself no less useful in reconciling the estranged, in holily assisting and serving those who are found in prisons or hospitals, and indeed in performing any other works of charity, according to what will seem expedient for the glory of God and the common good.

In other words, you do not bend or break the teachings of the Church because you want to keep everyone smiling. Being a good pastor or a good parent means you are going to make some people cry.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Hiring "grass roots activists"

I found this in the jobs section of the Washington DC Craigslist. It seems the pro-abortion side is hiring mercenary "grass roots activists" for up to $535 per week. Next time you see a pro-abortion protest it would be good to find out how many of those carrying signs are paid protesters. I wonder whose deep pockets are really paying for this.