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A lost identity

I love my computer. I love the ease with which I can compose and correct. I love the ability to share my work with the touch of a button. So I have absolutely no nostalgia about the old typewriter. What I do miss, is hand-written communication. Every now and then I open a book and I will see a note in the front written by my mother. Even before I see the signature I know it is from my mother. Those particular loops and and lines are part of her identity. It has been almost three years since she died so the sight of her handwriting is what I have left now that I no longer hear her voice.

A recent such event got me to thinking about my own handwriting. I have very nice handwriting. I have made a great effort to avoid having "doctor's handwriting". Back when we were a military family on the move every couple of years and I was still practicing medicine I would be the new doc in town on a rather frequent basis. Inevitably, the office or clinic where I worked would get a phon…

Wrap it up!

A few years ago, at about this point in Advent, a priest gave some sound advice during his homily: wrap it up and focus on the true meaning of Christmas. You don't need to put up any more decorations. If you haven't gotten the Christmas cards written, then you don't send out Christmas cards this year. It's not a big deal. Sit down after Christmas and write notes to wish your family and friends a Happy New Year. Of if it doesn't happen then, resolve to send out Valentines wishes. Bake the cookies you enjoy baking but you do not need to make it a chore. There is no requirement to greet Our Lord with dozens and dozens of perfectly iced sweets. If you still need to wrap gifts, the recipients will be as happy with simple wrapping and a stick on bow as they will be with coordinating paper, ribbons, bows, and embellishments. It is time to make things simple.

As we close in on the Fourth Sunday of Advent, I am passing on this priest's advice to you. It is more importan…

The Washington Post and I agree on the China one child policy. Could we agree on more?

Quick! Check the temperature of Hell! The Washington Post editorial board and I are in full agreement! Yesterday, my article on the so-called changes to the China one child policy was published on the HLI Truth & Charity forum. In it I wrote:

Chinese population control policy is not ethically more palatable because the Chinese government now allows two children instead of one under certain narrow conditions...The Chinese government still forcefully inserts itself into the intimate marital relationships of Chinese citizens. The policy change still views children as commodities whose production can be regulated like any other commodity in a centrally controlled economy. Families exist at the pleasure of the state and for the sole purpose of the support of the state. Rearranging the superficial details of a policy built on a rotten foundation does not halt the moral decay. There is no cause for celebration and there should be no kudos for Chinese leaders until they completely abandon …

Word games from the culture of death

My latest article for Zenit is now published. You can read the whole article here. The culture of death is still obscuring the truth with word games. The latest addition to their double speak is "post-fertilization contraception".
Cognizant that these word games do not change the reality that preventing implantation destroys a human life, advocates of the IUD, morning-after pill, and regular hormonal contraceptives have downplayed the abortifacient nature of such birth control. But now there is a push to drop the façade and embrace prevention of implantation as an acceptable mechanism for birth control. Writing in the Journal for Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care, a team led by Dr. Elizabeth G. Raymond calls on the medical community to pave the way for the acceptance and development of new abortifacients. The first step is again a semantic maneuver with the adoption of the term “post-fertilization contraception” for medications and procedures that prevent implantat…

The Snark Factor: An examination of my blogging conscience

I entered the blogging world in 2006. It is hard to believe it has been almost eight years. This blog has gone through several iterations and I am sure will continue to evolve as long as I continue writing.

When I first discovered the Catholic blogosphere, I was so excited. I devoured blog after blog. Here was a community that shared my commitment to the Church in a way I didn't always see in my local parish. I jumped right in and made many friends. Many I have had the good fortune to meet in person.

Reflecting on these years of blogging I find that I am not reading near as many other bloggers as I used to. I am also not writing on my own blog as much as I used to. Some of this is because much of what used to show up on blogs is now showing up on Facebook. I am also now getting paid for much of what I write so things that I would post on my blog are being shifted to income generating venues.

But there is also a darker side to my slight retreat from the online blogging community. S…

An articulate and rightly reasoned response to Common Core

Over 100 highly esteemed Catholic Scholars have written a letter denouncing Common Core. They sent this missive to every Catholic bishop to urge them to reject Common Core for Catholic schools. Please take the time to read the entire letter. A most salient excerpt is this:

Common Core adopts a bottom-line, pragmatic approach to education. The heart of its philosophy is, as far as we can see, that it is a waste of resources to “over-educate” people. The basic goal of K-12 schools is to provide everyone with a modest skill set; after that, people can specialize in college – if they end up there. Truck-drivers do not need to know Huck Finn. Physicians have no use for the humanities. Only those destined to major in literature need to worry about Ulysses.Perhaps a truck-driver needs no acquaintance with Paradise Lost to do his or her day’s work. But everyone is better off knowing Shakespeare and Euclidean geometry, and everyone is capable of it. Everyone bears the responsibility of growing …

All is not lost for women and work

After reading Elizabeth Corey's article in the October issue First Things I felt compelled to once again wade into the work-vs-home debates. You can read the full discussion over at the Truth & Charity Forum.The premise for my position can be summarized by this excerpt:

 I would not characterize domestic and professional lives as equal callings. Instead, I would say we are each called to live out a vocation. Some will be priests. Some will be consecrated religious. Some will be married. Some will be single. Within these vocations, we also live out occupations. For example, a priest may also be a physician. A sister may also be a teacher. A husband and father or wife and mother may also work as a doctor, lawyer, teacher, or any number of other jobs. There is no doubt that the way we conduct our occupations will impact our vocations. Our challenge is to keep our occupations in perspective so that they never overshadow our vocations. Do head over to Truth & Charity and read th…

Rights vs Privileges

It is good news that within 24 hours of filing a law suit against the federal government for prohibiting Catholic practices including Mass, baptisms, religious education and counseling during the government shut down, the administration reversed course and notified the Thomas More Law Center that their clients would once again be free to practice Catholicism at the Kings Bay Naval facility.

It would have been instructive, however, to hear government lawyers argue their case. Only Catholics were barred from all activities--even lay run activities such as religious education. Other denominations were allowed to function unimpeded. Exactly how were they going to justify their judgment that Catholic religious practices were not essential and did not contribute to the morale and welfare of military personnel and their families?

Before we break out the champagne to celebrate this legal victory, it is time to take a sober look at the implications of this case. The fact that the freedom to ex…

The priorities of Senator Tim Kaine, my senator from Virginia

I am very disturbed because the Obama administration sees fit to stop Catholic Mass, baptisms, etc if they are performed by contract Catholic priests in the military, Even though these priests are willing to perform these functions without pay, the federal government has threatened them with arrest if they offer the sacraments. Active duty military priests can still offer the sacraments, so it is not a case of the worship facilities being closed by the shutdown.
I wrote to my senator, Tim Kaine about this. This is my letter:


The government shut down is supposed to happen because we cannot pay bills. It is not supposed to be political posturing to selectively shut down that which will inflict the most pain on the American people. This is an opportunity to look at every expenditure and evaluate if we need it or not. Shutting down parks that generate revenue and barricading monuments that are normally open without supervision is insane.

Now the Obama administration is forbidding contract …

A shout-out to blogging buddies, book buddies, and crossword puzzle lovers

My kids are gamers. Not the electronic kind. More the board game kind. Most of the time they are playing something that involves strategy, conquests, and "guns vs. butter" analysis. Currently a favorite is The Settlers of Catan. I usually leave them to it. I enjoy games as well but I lean more towards word games like Scrabble or Boggle or card games like Hearts or Gin. I absolutely love crossword puzzles. Last night my kids introduced my husband and me to a game that was perfect for all of us, Dixit.

This is a very simple game played with a deck of 84 cards. Each card has a charming whimsical illustration by Marie Cardouat. The active player looks at his hand of 6 cards and chooses one. Without revealing his choice to the other players, he offers a caption--word, phrase, sound-- that describes the card. Each of the other players then looks at his own hand and chooses a card that could fit this caption. The choices are all secretly submitted, shuffled, then displayed. Players…

Organ donation requires strong ethical principles

My latest article for Zenit has been published. In it, I look at the compromise of ethical principles for organ donation when the procurement system moves to "presumed consent". Under this policy, everyone is considered an organ donor unless they have actively taken themselves out of consideration. The state claims it owns your bodily organs and has the right to control their use for the common good. You are only borrowing them during your lifetime.

One of the key criterion for ethical organ donation programs is that donors must be fully informed and freely give their consent to be a donor. Removing the need for free and informed consent opens the door to abuses. This becomes more relevant as a utilitarian philosophy seeps into health care policy and practices.

Organ donation is a supremely generous, life-giving and virtuous act when done under strict ethical guidelines. Once the ethics breaks down, it quickly degenerates into a dehumanizing work of evil.

New School Year Resolutions

I am working on an article and the deadline is looming so after Mass this morning I planted myself at the local Panera's for some focused working. When I am at home there are so many distractions that make it easy to procrastinate. Laundry needs to be done, the bathroom needs to be scrubbed, dust on various bookshelves just screams to be cleared, and of course since Mom is home, everyone else who is home has a question/problem that needs to be answered.

In a couple hours I made real headway on my article. I didn't finish it, but I have a good idea of where I am going. This progress was made in spite of being surrounded by the constant din of parents and children having one last outing before school begins tomorrow. All of my children are either in undergraduate college studies, graduate school, or out in the work force. I realized that I miss the fervor of the first day of school. Fresh new binders, neatly stacked paper, perfectly sharpened pencils, a plethora of pens, markers…

Preparing your adolescent for a trip to the doctor.

My most recent post for the Truth & Charity Forum is up. In this post I take a look at the latest statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics with regards to emergency contraception. Bottom line is they are for it. Any girl. Any Age. No cost. No parents. This policy joins their recently released statement that states homosexuality must be accepted and supported and there should be no attempt to encourage abstinence education for any adolescents because it would marginalize homosexual teens. Add to this the resolution passed by the American Academy of Family Physicians in support of the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples. And of course there is always the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology who has never met an abortion or hormonal contraception method it didn't like. The truth is that American professional medical associations have shed their advocacy for sound medical practice and become shills for the liberal sexual agenda. Anything that might…

Just one more year!

We do not replace our cars very frequently. Basically, we buy a car and drive it until it is no longer road worthy. Alas, our 2001 Chrysler Town & Country minivan is approaching that point. This vehicle has over 150,000 miles on it. The power doors quit working long ago. The air conditioner is flagging. The electrical system has gremlins and seems to be in need of an exorcism.  At this point, nearly every repair costs more than the car is worth so we are at that point where any time something goes wrong we ask ourselves if it is time to throw in the towel and send this vehicle off to minivan Heaven.

The latest issue was the driver's side window. We knew, after our experience with a 1990 Dodge Caravan, that the car would not pass the safety inspection unless the window goes up and down. We also knew that the repair bill to make the current minivan's window work would be astronomical in comparison to the value of the vehicle. It would effectively become a working window with…

The conversation on cohabitation continues

My Truth & Charity article on cohabitation has garnered nearly 10,000 views and 550 likes on Facebook. As is expected, when an article gets a lot of circulation the critics will eventually come out. One commenter, Monica, dismisses my article because she says new research shows cohabitation does not play as large a role in divorce. Other factors come into play.

I think Monica missed the whole point of the article. As I explained in my response:
I stand by the facts presented in this article. Nowhere did I state that cohabitation is the only factor contributing to the increased divorce rate. And the point of this article is not that cohabitation contributes to divorce. Rather, the issue is what do Catholics believe about cohabitation and marriage and do Catholic weddings reflect this belief. Catholics who faithfully wait until after the wedding to live together should be supported and encouraged by celebrating their wedding with the full Nuptial Mass. It is an injustice to these Cat…

And the two shall become one

I am sipping coffee and enjoying the morning quiet after the most amazing day yesterday. My daughter got married and the wedding and reception were everything we could have hoped for. Out of town guests began arriving on Thursday. After three trips to the airport we had gathered my oldest son, his wife, and their two children, as well as my dad and my brother. The house was full but not as full as the joy in my heart.

Festivities began the day prior with the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. My husband's parents were added to the group as we met to go to the rehearsal dinner at Trummers on Main in Clifton.

The whole gang

 My husband, myself, and our brood

    John David bonding with Granddad

 Nothing compares to the sweetness of a grandbaby falling asleep in your arms

The next day was the big day! All the bridesmaids met at our home and helped Marie get dressed.
Marie with her brothers just before leaving for the Church

Marie glowed as she walked down the aisle and my eyes were a bit mo…

Justice for those who wait

On several occasions I have mentioned our pastor's policy of requiring all couples to live apart for three months before they are married. The Truth & Charity Forum just published one of my articles that discusses this policy as a matter of justice.

My pastor is not denying the Sacrament of Matrimony to anyone. He is acknowledging that the full Nuptial Mass is a grand and solemn celebration to mark a transition in the lives of the couple. It is only fair to recognize the very real and distinct differences between those who make this transition after the wedding and those who make it before the wedding. Please read the whole article here.

Just eat the yogurt!

Athena is my black Lab mix. She is six years old now and much more settled than she was as a puppy. What she has not outgrown is her tendency to make questionable digestive choices. Cardboard is a major food group for her--especially empty toilet paper rolls. I cannot even begin to list the various vegetable, animal, and mineral entities that she has found outside and ingested. Most of the time her sturdy Lab stomach handles the insults just fine. But every now and then her gut rebels. This usually means a middle-of-the night or early morning awakening to her tummy loudly rumbling,squeaking and squawking followed by a trip outside. The best cure for her indigestion is yogurt. Half a cup or so and she is good to go. Interestingly, it is a chore to get her to eat the yogurt. She sees me holding a bowl of yogurt and she is hightailing it back to bed or hiding behind a table. So I put a little on my finger and dot it on her lips. She licks it off. I dot some more and she reflexively licks…

Living Life

A nice lady and friend of my in-laws bought a Corvette when she was much younger and a bit more adventurous than she is now. Age and mobility issues have made climbing in and out of the Corvette impractical. It is a 1991 convertible and only has 44,000 miles on it. She begs you to take it off her hands for a minimal sum. What would you do?

Road trip! Now that my hubby has retired all the grown kids have laid claim to our extra vehicles. When I head off to work I leave him behind with no transportation. So we were in the market for something in which he could toodle around town. What better vehicle for a retired test pilot than a Corvette. So amidst all the wedding preparations we flew down to Houston and picked up some new wheels.

We did have time for some fun. We stopped in at the Rice University art gallery and saw "Unwoven Light" by Soo Sunny Park.

We ate at Freebirds


We stayed at a Holiday Inn Express


And we arrived safely home so all can play with Dad's new toy.






I&#…

A kitchen table chat in Canada and thoughts about cohabitation

Yesterday I was privileged to be a guest on the Canadian Radio Teopoli with Fr. Bill Trusz. We chatted for an hour about the assaults on marriage, much as I had outlined in my latest HLI Truth & Charity forum article.  You can listen to the interview here by clicking on the  "listen to previous shows" button then clicking on the July 17 show.

I was very happy to once again cover the ground demonstrating that the current push to redefine marriage is only the latest in a continuum of assaults on marriage. We also talked about what we can do to stem the tide of marital perversions. The most important thing we can do is to joyfully and faithfully live our married lives. We need to project an infectious glee so that those around us say, "I want whatever they have." And what we have are marriages based on God's natural law.

"Preach the Gospel always. Use words if necessary." This quote is attributed to St. Francis of Assisi.  The challenge is to discern…

30 days and counting

The church is reserved, the readings are chosen, the music is selected. Invitations have been sent, responses received. She has her dress. The caterer, reception venue, DJ, florist, cake baker, and photographer are all arranged. So what could be left to do? Oh my!

There are so many little details. The constant question from the male folks in our household is, "You do that for a wedding?" The program needs to be finalized and printed, favors need to be assembled, and crafty elements of centerpieces need to be finished.

Table seating needs to be arranged so that place cards need to be printed. This is an interesting exercise. The guests are coming from all different phases of life. Some overlap, but many don't. Some are friends from high school. Some are friends from college. Some are work friends. Some are neighbors. Some are church friends. Some are family. Some are his. Some are hers. So do you mix them up? Sort them by relationships? Sort them by politics? Sort them by…

Open and shut

From this morning's Magnificat:

O Lord, you have told us to knock and the door would be opened to us. You yourself are the doorway into everlasting joy. Open your way before us a we set out on this day's journey and guide us to our journey's end, that, when evening comes, we may enter the courts of your presence rejoicing.  Sometimes Mt 7:7 makes people think of God as the great Santa Claus. If you just keep knocking on the door he will give you everything your little heart desires. The truth is that God loves us too much to open doors that are not in our best interest. I once saw a photo of a closed door with the caption,"When God closes a door, it is time to stop banging your head against it and figure out what He really wants you to be doing."

One of life's great challenges is trying to figure out which doors are open and which doors are closed. Sometimes God does close a door. If that is the case then there is no purpose in continuing to try to jimmy the l…

Irony: Washington Post reports on media bias

This article ran in this morning's print edition of the Washington Post under the headline: Al-Jazeera: Covering news or shaping it? I find this comical since it would be just as relevant to write a similar article under the headline Washington Post: covering news or shaping it?

Now I do not know if Al-Jazeera is really biased and loyal to the Muslim Brotherhood and ousted Egyptian president Morsi. I am really irritated that Al-Jazeera took over the broadcast rights to La Liga soccer so I have to search through Wiziwig for an online streaming source for Barcelona matches. Other than that, Al-Jazeera has little impact on my life.

What I do know is that the Washington Post, the New York Times,USA Today, and most other major news sources in the United States serve as nothing more than mouth pieces for the liberal ideology. Only after the presidential election do we get any coverage of the Benghazi scandal. They had to be shamed into covering the Kermit Gosnell trial. Sandra Fluke get…

Another battle in the same war against marriage

Some may look at the current defense of marriage against its redefinition to include same-sex couples as a unique struggle. Actually, it is only the latest in a long line of assaults against marriage. We can actually see a related attack in the Gospel when Jesus says:

He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so." (Mt 19:8) In my latest article at the HLI Truth & Charity forum I look at relatively recent attempts to conform marriage to man's will instead of God's will. You might be surprised to see that the Holy Father was writing in defense of marriage in 1880. Please wander on over to the Truth & Charity forum and read the whole thing.

We need to defend marriage against all assaults, not just the most recent one.

Conserving and Preserving

I am in full summer canning mode these days. Actually, it would be summer canning, drying, and freezing mode.

My dehydrator has been busy drying mint for later use and drying lavender blossoms, rose petals, and hydrangea petals for potpourri.

Basil is harvested for pesto which will be frozen.

A combination of herbs and jalepenos from my garden and fruit and tomatoes from the farmers market are combining for some wonderful canned goods. I am not worrying about adding pectin to my processed fruit. According to my go-to cookbook, How to Cook Anything by Mark Bittman, if you heat anything to 224-degrees it will jell. Maybe. Everything has thickened but I am not sure if I would call it jelled. Cherries did. Strawberries, not as much. But that is ok. There is a name for jam that is a bit runny. It is called conserve. It still tastes great on a hot biscuit or over some Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream.

Last Saturday after my farmers market run I went to Target and bought some more canni…

What can it hurt?

Friday evening, the vigil of the Feast Day of St. Thomas More, American Catholics began a Fortnight for Freedom. Today our priest spoke extensively about St. Thomas More and his deep abiding faith. He was willing to die for his faith. He refused to sign a statement approving of King Henry VIII's divorce from Katharine of Aragon. Nor would he sanction the marriage of the King to Anne Boleyn. His friends and family pleaded with him to sign. What would it hurt, they asked, if he just signed the document. He didn't have to really believe it. Just put his name to it and his life would be saved. Yet, Thomas More would not compromise the integrity of his faith even if it meant he would be killed. He would not risk his soul for earthly treasures.

Some will dismiss the current Fortnight for Freedom as political grandstanding. Why should the Church raise such a fuss? What would it hurt to just accept the HHS mandate and pay for contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients? Isn't…

Gathering daily flowers

I love my garden. Sometimes I can bring in armloads of peonies or hydrangeas, or daisies and make large impressive arrangements. Some mornings, though, my garden yields something much smaller. This morning I picked a single rose, a few white pansies and some sprigs of lavender. This little nosegay resting beside my sink is very calming. Not as flashy as a table centerpiece quality arrangement, but still beautiful.

It is a good reminder that sometimes I want to do great and wonderful things, but my resources and energy are not enough. Occasionally my day's work looks like a dozen long stem roses. But most days, a single rosebud is all I can muster. And there are definitely days where I am lucky to gather a yellow dandelion.

I cannot solve world hunger but I can support the local food bank. I cannot rid the world of sickness but I can bring a meal to  a sick friend. Some days it is an accomplishment to just smile at the person standing next to me in the grocery store line.

Today I…

Connecting the dots in a contraceptive culture

The dots are out there. My latest Zenit article looks at the alarming increase in breast cancer among women ages 25-39. What is the etiology of this meteoric rise? The rapid rise in breast cancer among young women correlates well with the rapid rise in hormonal contraceptive use as well as the increased incidence of abortion. There are also numerous studies showing direct relationships between breast cancer and contraceptives and breast cancer and abortion. These published articles also found that the women most affected are women in the age 25-39 demographic and the effect is most pronounced the younger women start using contraceptives.

So why are health care policy makers establishing clinics inside schools to hand out contraception to girls as young as 12 and 13? Why are we making the Plan B hormonal abortifacient available over the counter for these girls? Why has the HHS declared these carcinogens to be essential health care for women and so necessary that their provision trumps …

Loving both puppies and porcupines

Weddings and funerals bring out interesting family dynamics. Seemingly mature adults are reduced to the level of squabbling toddlers. Decades of perceived insults and injuries rise to the surface and “That’s not fair!” rings through the air. Sometimes literally. Sometimes through hurtful remarks. Sometimes through passive-aggressive behavior. 
I thought about this as I read this beautifully written essay, Love the Sinner, by Bernadette O'Brien. Consider this paragraph: “You can’t blame me for hating my mother-in-law—if you knew what she’s done to my family….” “How could anybody condemn us for expressing the fullness of our love for each other, just because we haven’t had a little ceremony and exchanged rings?” “The Joneses are simply unbearable—if we do talk about them behind their backs, it’s all true, anyway!” “It doesn’t hurt anybody if I look at pornography.” Excuses for sin are always some kind of rationale to explain why the sinner ought not to be punished. The focus is stil…