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, August 22, 2014

7 Quick Takes!

The youngest moved into the dorm this week! The 85 pound Lab/German Shepherd mix who shared his bed at night has decided he is lonely and wants to sleep with Mom, Dad, and the 65 pound Lab/Springer Spaniel mix who has already claimed a spot in Mom & Dad's bed.
The youngest moved into the dorm this week! Apparently so did my laundry baskets and laundry detergent. I guess I wanted new ones anyway.
The youngest moved into the dorm this week! But he is only 20 minutes or so down the road. And guess what?! I just got a job as an adjunct professor at the same university. I think I will be reclaiming some laundry baskets.
The youngest moved into the dorm this week! It is so hard to cook for just two people. I think it is time to invite the other empty nesters in the neighborhood to dinner.
The youngest moved into the dorm this week! And I think I should check the temperature of the Netherworld because he left his home bedroom and bathroom scrubbed clean and vacuumed!
The youngest moved into the dorm this week! I already miss him terribly. Praying for him and all the students starting school in the next couple of weeks.
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Assisted Suicide is not Authentic Compassion

My latest article is up at I address a bill being considered by the British Parliament to authorize physician assisted suicide. The article is being passed around a bit and the phrase that seems to be catching the attention is : "In every other instance, suicide is viewed as a tragedy...Why should it be any different for the disabled and dying?" 
I wrote and submitted this article before Robin Williams committed suicide. However, after the very public and passionate discussions of depression and suicide that followed his death, the publication of my article and that particular phrase has struck a chord with some. Here is an excerpt, but do go over to Zenit and read the whole article.
It is mental anguish, not physical suffering, that is the impetus for most patients requesting physician-assisted suicide. The legalization of assisted suicide suggests these fears are reasonable and hastening death is a viable solution. There is nothing compassionate about legalizing assisted suicide when it promotes such abject despair.
In every other instance, suicide is viewed as a tragedy. Those left behind often wonder what they could have done or said to prevent such an act of desperation. How could they have given the deceased hope and fostered a will to live? Why should it be any different for the infirm, the disabled, and the dying?
Instead of hastening their death we should be offering authentic compassion. The word “compassion” literally means to suffer with. We should be reassuring those who are tempted by assisted suicide that even though they are physically broken they have dignity and are cherished members of our human family. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Blessed Feast of the Assumption of Mary to All!

The Assumption of Mary by Pietro Perugino (1513)

Today is the Solemn Feast of the Assumption of Mary. This is a glorious day. Mary is the first to experience the resurrection of body and soul and join in the eternal joy of Heaven. But this is experience is promised to each of us who is saved through Christ. 

This feast day can be confusing for those who are not Catholic. The dogma of the Assumption does not make Mary a deity. It is not a new dogma that was invented by Pope Pius XII in 1950. The dogma of Assumption was promulgated in the Papal Apostolic Constitution MUNIFICENTISSIMUS DEUS on November 1, 1950 but it has been part of the Church teachings since the early centuries. It is part of the dogma of both the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. The wonderful folks over at Aquinas and More Catholic Bookstore have a nice, concise recap of both the dogma and the history of the celebration of this feast.

I would also recommend the reflections of  Fr. Dwight Longenecker on 10 Things To Remember about the Assumption of Mary.

And for those who are used to abstaining from meat on Fridays, this is a feast day so enjoy a burger in Mary's honor.

In all seriousness, today is a beautiful reminder of the glory that awaits all who abide in Christ.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

TBT: Sacramentals for college students...and college grads

It has become all the rage on Facebook to post TBT (Throw-back Thursday) items. These are usually old photos or accounts from "back in the day". I thought I would do something similar on my blog today. Back in 2006 I did a post on sacramentals for college students. As many college students are in the process of packing I thought I would re-share these thoughts from sending a son off to college:

As I reviewed his final round of packing I made sure he had a good supply of sacramentals. He received a small desk-top crucifix for graduation. He has at least one Rosary. I kept pressing holy cards on him. St. Michael, St. Monica, St. Augustine, St. Benedict. He had already packed his Bible. 
He is very patient with me as I fret about his spiritual well-being. I really am not worried. He seems to be pretty grounded in his faith. I was also interested in his take on all the Catholic paraphernalia I was sending with him. He told me appreciated it but he would let his Catholicism publicly unfold gradually. He said, “If I wear my Faith too conspicuously I hear minds shut as I approach. It is better to let them discover my Catholicism after they know other things about me first.” 
I do understand his point. I don’t expect him to make a shrine in his dorm room. If the holy cards occupy a place in his desk drawer, that’s okay too. I know he will see them occasionally and remember his mom and a whole bunch of saints are praying for him. I hope he will then remember to say a prayer too.
This was written in the early years, as I was just starting to send children to college. Now my baby is starting his junior year in college. Would I do anything differently? Not really.  So far, everyone is exiting college with a faith at least as strong if not stronger than when they entered. But my son was very wise when he said he would let his Catholicism unfold gradually. No need to hide it, but there is also no reason to wear it like a flashing neon sign. Catholicism should be something organic to who we are, not an awkward add-on.

Now my children are building their own nests and I have to admit I still add to their collection of sacramentals. When I returned from Italy this summer I had a new Rosary for every child and grandchild. Holy cards make great bookmarks. I still want to remind them that Mom and the saints are still praying for them.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

School Daze for us Martha types

In just over a week it will be back to school for me. Of course it is a different sort of back to school when you are the teacher instead of the student. Once again I will be teaching Anatomy & Physiology at the local community college. However, I am also adding George Mason University to my teaching venues. I will be teaching three sections of the Anatomy & Physiology lab.

In addition to the teaching I have added Catholic Stand to my regular writing gigs. And I am hoping to revitalize this blog a bit. I still have a monthly column at and I still contribute to the HLI Truth & Charity Forum.

A few days ago I blogged about my empty nest. I guess this is what happens when you no longer have soccer practice, Scouts, high school science projects and college applications to oversee. I am one of those who has a problem sitting still.

So my struggle during these upcoming months of empty nesting is to face the quiet time. I will force myself to look away from the computer with its never-ending stream of pro-life issues that need to be addressed as well as the lectures and lesson plans that need to be polished. I will sip my coffee slowly in the morning and indulge in a glass of wine in the evening every now and then. I will stop bustling like Martha and try to listen like Mary.

When LIfe Begins and Why it Matters

Head on over to Catholic Stand and read my latest article about when life begins and why it matters. 

Friday, August 08, 2014

Gratitude in Public

Saying Grace by Norman Rockwell

Recently, Mary's Gourmet Diner in Winston-Salem, NC was in the news because the staff often offered a 15% discount to patrons who publicly offer a prayer before eating. Even a simple silent bow of the head before chowing down could earn the discount. It was just a feel good story.

Apparently, not everyone felt good about this practice. The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has forced the restaurant to discontinue the discount on the allegation that it is illegal and discriminatory. Rather than become embroiled in a lawsuit, the restaurant has discontinued the discount.

Well, patrons may not get a discount, but they should still feel free to take time to bow their heads and thank God for the food in front of them. I say grace any time I sit down to a meal. It doesn't matter if I am by myself at the kitchen island, with my family around the table, or at a public restaurant. When we are in public we merely take a moment to bow our heads and quietly recite the classic Catholic grace, Bless Us O Lord and these thy gifts. If I am out with friends who do not usually say grace, I do not insist that they join in or even call attention to the fact that I say grace. I just pause before digging in and silently acknowledge my gratitude to God.

There should be no embarrassment or apologies for this pre-meal ritual. I am not offended by those who choose not to pray and they should not be offended if I opt to offer thanks for my meal. I do not know why the public display of religion is so offensive to some people that they feel the need to shut it down. I understand why Mary Haglund chose to discontinue the discounts for praying. It is asking a lot of a small business owner to endure the litigation of militant atheists. While the intolerant FFRF may have stopped the financial rewards earned by prayer, they cannot touch the spiritual rewards. And maybe folding your hands in public even when there is no tangible immediate gratification will serve as a witness to others that serving God is more valuable than a 15% discount on a meal.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

The case against oral contraceptives continue to grow!

My opinion is that oral contraceptives are following a path parallel to tobacco products. Initially they were presented as something healthy and enjoyable. The government endorsed it. Corporate interests churned out the propaganda and suppressed reports that something might be amiss.

But the case against oral contraceptives is growing quickly. In my latest article at the HLI Truth & Charity Forum I take a look at the latest study that links hormonal contraceptives and breast cancer. This is a large, well designed study and its results need to be widely disseminated. Women have a right to know that the little pill they take every morning may be doubling or even tripling their risk for the more aggressive pre-menopausal form of breast cancer. I found it interesting that the pill that was most dangerous was the triphasic pill that tries to mimic the natural rhythm of estrogen and progesterone of a woman's reproductive cycle. Man cannot replicate what God has created so perfectly.

So why isn't every major news outlet and every women's magazine highlighting these risks? Why does the lead author of this study hesitate to claim that her study is sound enough to support clinical recommendations? I think it is because the corporate interests like Planned Parenthood and the pharmaceutical industry as well as radical feminists have declared that anyone who disparages contraception is waging a war on women. They are perpetuating the myth that only women who render themselves sterile can be truly successful.

Please head over to the Truth & Charity Forum and read the facts. Then spread the word. The real war on women is being waged by those who because they are more interested in their financial interests and their ideology, seek to keep women ignorant of the risks posed by contraceptives.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

End of an Era

Today marks the last day I will be the mother of a teenager. My youngest turns twenty tomorrow. My oldest turned 13 in 1999 so I have been doing this teenage thing for a while. I don't have any great words of wisdom or profound reflections. I survived and my kids survived the teenage years so it is very doable.

Looking back, I guess our teenage years were relatively tame. We didn't have a lot of drama. I don't remember a lot of sulking or pouting. There was never any arguments about going to Mass. I didn't even have any issues with what they wore. Time spent on the computer and video games probably created the most tension but it wasn't that significant. I do remember a lot of praying, at least on my part. You think you are going to get more sleep once your babies get older. But then they get a social life and then they learn to drive. I cannot count the number of candles I lit and the Hail Mary's I said for their safety and for them to use good judgment.

My kids and I learned that friends matter and when the Air Force moves you around a lot your best friends may be your family. Also, surrounding yourself with friends who strive for what is good makes resisting temptation much easier.

A decade ago I was in the middle of at least three and often four soccer games every weekend. In addition there were Scout activities, music lessons, Church youth group events and school. I relished that time. I looked forward and thought how empty my life would feel without the hustle and bustle.

Well I am there now. My adult children still play soccer but do not expect to see Mom on the sidelines. And you know what? There is no emptiness at all. Instead, I look at them all grown up and feel overwhelmed by love and gratitude. And just because they are out of the nest doesn't mean I stop being their Mom. The praying never stops. I still light candles and offer Hail Mary's.

So here's to the end of an era. By the grace of God and with the support of a little wine, a lot of coffee, and an immeasurable amount of prayer, we made it.

Friday, August 01, 2014

St. Alphonsus and the virtue of diligence

Today is the Memorial Feast of St. Alphonsus Liguori, founder of the Redemptorist Order of priests and brothers. St. Alphonsus was a prodigy who could master almost any subject placed before him. By the age of sixteen he was a lawyer. However, after ten years without losing a case he made a mistake and lost a significant legal dispute. He had an epiphany and realized that the accolades of men were meaningless compared to the Glory of God. He left the practice of law to become a priest. He was a prolific writer and was eventually declared a doctor of the Church.

Of course, many virtues can be attributed to this brilliant saint. However, the one that struck me today was diligence. St. Alphonsus Liguori could not stand the thought of a moment being wasted. Every free moment was put to good use praying, writing, reading, or teaching. I think I need a picture of St. Alphonsus to place near my computer as a reminder to think before I plug in. Am I being productive or am I just whiling away the minutes and hours on the mental chewing gum of the internet? Are my words adding to the Glory of God or are they just noise added to the cultural din?

St. Alphonsus Liguori is the patron of confessors, moral theologians, and lay apostolates. I think I might also invoke his intercession when I sit down to the computer that my time will be used productively and my work will serve God's will.