Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin

From the moment when Mary conceived the Son of God, filled with the Holy Spirit, wherever she went, there is also the presence of Jesus and the Spirit. Just look at what Elizabeth immediately experienced as soon as her very young cousin set foot in her house and greeted her. I have no idea of the timbre of Mary's voice, but I know well the efficacy of her presence. And this is not the only first for Elizabeth who has had many others: she is the first who, in the presence of Mary, is filled with the Holy Spirit; she is the first to exalt Mary on account of her maternity: "Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb!"; she is the first to recognize in Mary the Mother of God, calling her "the mother of my Lord"; she is the first to announce an evangelical beatitude: "Blessed is she who has believed."...

About Mary - She is the true and enduring Ark of the Covenant, that is, the dwelling place of God; actually she is more, because it is she from whom god assumed our human nature to live in our midst as our brother. To welcome Mary is the way to receive Jesus and the Holy Spirit. The first beatitude of the Gospel, "Blessed is she who has believed" is the beatitude of faith; to it corresponds well the last beatitude proclaimed by the risen Christ to Thomas: "Because you have seen and yet believed!" (Jn 20:29). Mary is the model of those who believe without having first seen.

About us - Perhaps we have not yet understood who Mary is; the various firsts of Elizabeth are our help and guide. To delude ourselves into thinking we can have Jesus and the Holy Spirit without going through Mary is not in conformity with the way established by God. Faith, not sensibility, tells us that salvation begins by welcoming Mary.

Father Gabriele Amorth, via Magnificat magazine. Father Amorth is the Chief Exorcist of Rome, Italy, and the author of four books about the Blessed Virgin Mary.
I love thinking about this because it is just the way that my friends and I are with each other. Rushing to each other to share joys and sorrows. It is a very "womanly" thing to do and not only does it exemplify all the things in the above excerpt but it shows Mary's and Elizabeth's humanity to me when they rejoice for each other's good fortune in being blessed by God.

Tags: , Christianity

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Lost Podcast Scoop

A few things from listening to the producers on the finale wrap-up podcast.
  • They weren't sure if it came across but it was supposed to be clear that when the magnetic surge was allowed to happen was the only time that the island was visible. Interesting eh?
  • They also have been lobbying to remove reruns during the season and show the episodes in blocks. Beginning next September the show will run 6 episodes which will run until the beginning of November and end in a mini-cliffhanger. Then they will go off the air for about twelve weeks and come back in February. After they come back the show will be on straight through with 17 straight episodes to the finale with no repeats.
  • For those of us who missed the monster in the last part of the show (and I know that I was one of those people) they give us the enigmatic statement, "There's a good chance that you guys saw the monster this year but just didn't realize that you were looking at the the end of next year you will realize what that means."
  • A fundamental rule on Lost is that they don't introduce anything until they know how it will resolve. (So much for the theories that they are seeing what their fans say and writing the show based on feedback.)

An Excellent Approach for a Common Question

One radio guy asked me, for the umpteenth time, "Don't tell me you take the Bible *literally*?"

Inspired by the Holy Spirit (I assume), it occurred to me to ask, "Which parts?"

He stared at me blankly, having no idea how to reply because, in point of fact, he did not know one frickin' thing about what is in the Bible.

"Do you mean the Psalms?" I pressed him. "Of course, I don't take them literally. They're poetry. Or do you mean I should not take it literally when it says that David hid from Saul in the cave of Adullam?"

He continued to stare blankly, then finally said, "Look, I don't know all that much about the Bible."

I am going to remember this because it works not only for clueless radio talk show hosts but also for total unbelievers.
Tags: , Christianity

The Power of Advertising

Lest anyone doubt it, consider the reaction of one of Rose's friends upon hearing that Hannah and Rose landed jobs at Target. "Cool! I wish I had a job somewhere great like that!"

Rose was dumbfounded. "Debbie works at an amusement park and gets to go on the rides free after each shift. Now that is a great job!"

Thanks to their truly inspired ad campaign, Target is the "in" place for Hannah's friends to shop. Tom and I admire that campaign. It is endlessly inventive and somehow they manage to keep changing the styles while retaining the overall feel so that it is instantly identifiable. Obviously it is doing a good job at changing public perception. Too bad for Hannah and Rose that we have been teaching them to see through ads since they were tiny ... they know Target is simply a discount store.

I wonder if Debbie would think the mandatory drug test within 24 hours of getting the job was glamorous also. The time limit meant that Tom had to hustle Rose down there promptly when they opened this morning so that she could make it to her last finals this morning on time. An interesting way to end the school year if nothing else ...

Of Knitting and Kings

On January 30, 1649, King Charles I thought so highly of a particular knitted bodice that he wore it to the scaffold on the day of his public execution so that it might be recorded for posterity in the inevitable paintings of the event. London was covered in about six inches of snow on that day, and the king was anxious to keep warm so that he would not shiver in the cold and be thought a coward.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Surprised by Jesuits

by James Martin, SJ
An elderly Jesuit who had spent many years in "the missions" smiled slyly when I mentioned the last rationale.

"You know," he said, "part of coming to know the international Society is discovering that Jesuits from other countries can be just as much of a pain in the ass as the American ones!"
In my six years as a Catholic I have heard one consistent thing about the Jesuits which is accurately echoed by the excerpt above. They always seemed to be the progressive trouble makers in any story, unless there was a stalwart traditional Catholic Jesuit in which case he was the target of the other trouble making Jesuits. More often than not when I had personal encounters and arguments spirited discussions about Catholic doctrine with other much more progressive people they would cite being taught by Jesuits to "question everything" as their authority. I found this just plain annoying when I had struggled my way through many questions of my own to get precisely to the traditional Catholicism that they had been handed on a platter and seemed to be spurning. None of this added up to making me very open to the way that Jesuits practiced the Faith.

Of course, the Jesuits did have those aforementioned stalwart traditionals that I could admire. They had staunch supporter Karen Hall who I have admired for some time so I felt I could trust her judgment. I even have come across blogging Jesuits who seemed like pretty good guys. However, this really did not sway my overall judgment of cautious observation and keeping an arms length from anyone who seemed too swayed by this group with dangerous tendencies.

Then I began reading this book and it literally and seemingly effortlessly brought me back to a place with God that I had been floundering trying to reach on my own.

In a way my floundering was brought on by too much information. Reading around St. Blog's one will see various devotions to different orders and their own individualized sorts of prayer and living. These would be written about with such affection that it seemed only natural to give them a try. After some time I discovered that none of these served me very well. Not only that, but somehow I had forgotten how to pray in the way that I used to when it was so effortless and fruitful. Thus began a period of that "floundering," of trying to remember what it was that I used to do to see God in everything and to pray without worrying about the mechanics.

Worse still was the fact that without any motivation I really was caring less and less if I prayed at all. Oh, I knew that was the way back to God and that personal relationship that I should be trying to nurture. However, with so many other things to attract my attention, not least of all this blog, it grew harder and harder to carve out that private, personal time. Added to this was the fact that, once I had accepted God's existence, I always had seen evidence of Him reaching out to me through all the encounters of my day and the things in my life. However, I had read several cautions about this sort of faith and trusting too much to our imaginations and so had been pulling back from that also. In short, I didn't know what to think or how to connect any more.

Then, one of my very best friends generously surprised me with some books from my Amazon wish list and included My Life with the Saints. (If you're not reading her blog then you're missing some of the most sincere and insightful writing around.)

The initial interest that made me include this book on my wish list had waned and honestly I began reading it mostly because the other book she sent was a much more challenging looking read. However, I soon became caught up in Martin's excellent story telling. He wove the saints' stories around his own progress through answering a call to the priesthood and the personal challenges it entailed. I will vouch for his skill in communicating enthusiasm by telling you that I actually wrote one of Thomas Merton's books on my "to read" list after reading the chapter about Merton's life. I have always thought Merton was quite a whiner and this was the first account that made me interested in trying one of his books beside The Seven Storey Mountain which I loathed. (Please don't tell me all the reasons I am wrong about Merton ... I honestly believe that he has a lot of value for all his devotees. We can't all like everyone and I venture to guess that there are saints I love who many would not like.)

Where the personal aspect in this book came in, however, was when Martin began writing about Ignatius of Loyola and explaining the precepts of Jesuit prayer and theology.
In an Ignatian contemplation we attempt to place ourselves in a particular scene, often from the Gospels. In the story of the Nativity, for example, Ignatius asks us to imagine ourselves with Mary and Joseph on their way to Bethlehem: "to see with the sight of the imagination the road from Nazareth to Bethlehem, considering the length and breadth, and whether the road is level or through valleys and hills; likewise looking at the place or the cave of the Nativity, how large, how small, how low, how high, and how it was prepared."
I don't know how to express what a sense of homecoming and joy I felt at reading this. It was how I had prayed from the beginning, imagining how the dew on the grass felt when Mary arose from traveling overnight on the caravan to Elizabeth's, how the sunshine would have hit both of them warmly as they embraced at the Visitation. This was right. This was me. It was cemented by Martin telling how he had been unable to get into using his imagination in this way.
"Isn't it all just in my head?" I asked. "Won't I just make the people in my fantasy do what I want them to do?"

"Not necessarily," he said.

I sat there, confused.

"Let me ask you something," David said. "Do you believe that God gave you your imagination?"

"Sure," I said.

"Don't you think that God could use your imaginations to draw you closer to him in prayer?"
Yes! And Amen!* Though in the back of my mind I was finding it tremendously ironic that the order whose spirituality seemed to speak to me most was one that I distrusted. But that is in line with my experience also. Not only do I know much less that I usually think but God often is making a joke out of it at the same time. Which came home again just a couple of pages later.
Theologians often describe Ignatian spirituality as "incarnational." In other words, while it recognizes the transcendence of God, it is also grounded in the real-life experiences of people living out their daily lives.

It is a spirituality that reminds us that God speaks to us through prayer -- but also through our emotions, our minds, and our bodies. God can communicate through sexual intimacy, romantic love, and friendship. God can be found in Scripture and in the sacraments. God can show his love through your sister, your coworker, your spouse, your next-door neighbor, a teacher, a priest, a stranger, or a homeless person. Finding God in all things. And all people.
And through prompting a loving friend to give a book that leads someone back to the path she has wandered far from when she has lost her way. Just the way I experienced this morning and have recognized since God began calling me to him. Gosh darn it ... I think I have a Jesuit soul. For all the reasons I mentioned above, that ain't easy to admit, y'all!

For the first time in I don't know how long I was actually excited about prayer. I couldn't wait to get back to my "mind's eye" realizations, through God speaking to me through Bible flips. Just in case, I didn't get the point, today's morning psalm in Magnificat was one that Third Day had made into one of my very favorite songs, one that is on practically every Godmix playlist I make.
To you, O Lord, I lift my soul
In you, O God, I place my trust
Do not let me be put to shame
Nor let my enemies triumph over me

My hope is you
Show me your ways
Guide me in Truth
In all my days
My hope is you

I am, O Lord, filled with your love
You are, O God, my salvation
Guard my life and rescue me
My broken spirit shouts
My mended heart cries out...
Topping it off, with this song ringing through my head, I turned to the reading from Hebrews which spoke both to my feelings and to this book about saints which brought me to that point. It was to me that final push to point out that I was back on track.
Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. Because of it the ancients were well attested.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us 2 and persevere in running the race that lies before us.
Hebrews 11:1-2; 12:1
Of course, this is much more a personal testimony than a book review. I am not yet done but have had my eyes opened wide. Most likely that will not happen for most people reading this book. However, I can promise you a well told tale of Jim Martin's life and faith so far, always surrounded by that "cloud of witnesses" who watch, applaud, and help all of us on our way to our ultimate goal. You will find saints and people who are saintly but not yet accorded that spot on the calendar by the Church (such as Mother Teresa). You will find an inspirational story to help remind all of us that our searching is not in vain. If you are very, very lucky, you will find a nugget directed right at you that will help get you on track and turned in the direction you need to go.

I occasionally have been surprised by my own imagination enough to realize that God uses it to get your attention. From the time that I was idly wondering whether I was making something up or whether a thought came from God and had, "YOU SHOULD KNOW MY VOICE BY NOW!" sternly thunder through my stunned mind ... to the time that I was imagining myself on the hillside listening to the Beatitudes when meditating on the Luminous Mysteries and was startled to suddenly see in my mind's eye Jesus looking over at me and saying, "Come little sister" and patting the ground next to him so that I would learn more about the Beatitudes that I found so boring and uninspiring. These are things that it never occurred to me to invent ...
Tags: Christianity

Memorial Day: All the Things I Never Knew

Today our nation celebrates Memorial Day. Originally called Decoration Day, the holiday started spontaneously in 1866, when a drugstore owner in Waterloo, N.Y., sought to honor those who died in the recent Civil War. Townspeople joined Henry Welles' cause to commemorate the fallen, and they decorated the graves with flowers, wreaths and crosses.Today our nation celebrates Memorial Day. Originally called Decoration Day, the holiday started spontaneously in 1866, when a drugstore owner in Waterloo, N.Y., sought to honor those who died in the recent Civil War. Townspeople joined Henry Welles' cause to commemorate the fallen, and they decorated the graves with flowers, wreaths and crosses.

In short order, others joined around the country and by 1868, according to the History Channel: "Children read poems and sang Civil War songs, and veterans came to school wearing their medals and uniforms ... Then the veterans marched through their hometowns followed by the townspeople to the cemetery." Soon enough, heroes from other wars were honored as well, and the day became Memorial Day.

Abraham Lincoln described our country, in his message to Congress in 1862, as the "last best hope of earth."
Dallas Morning News
Well, I never knew all that! Maybe I should have but better late than never eh?

If you want to look at a good way to connect this day to our faith, Way of the Fathers has just the ticket.

Here's a really touching post about the day from an American living in Saudi Arabia.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Bryan Singer, We Miss You!

I didn't think the first two movies were that deep but after seeing this effort I can see I was obviously wrong. If you want to see the difference that a director makes be sure to watch the first two movies directed by Bryan Singer and then go see this one. For one thing as a typical Hollywood director, Brett Ratner obviously subscribes to the "blowed up real good" motto. Which gets tiresome after a while frankly.

Also, this movie seemed much more rushed as if it was cramming in a lot of pieces of the story without giving them proper time for normal reactions or even explanations to develop. For instance Professor Xavier was never given a chance to explain more of the reasoning for his actions in the whole "mental barrier" thing with Phoenix. He just spit out a few sentences of explanation and then told Wolverine not to judge him and to go away. It was very unsatisfying and left Prof. X in a very shaky moral position which I doubt was actually the case in the comic books.

Also there was an obvious moral lesson that I kept waiting to be pointed out but that never was. I expected Phoenix to see the family in the car on the bridge or to think more about the little innocent mutant in the laboratory ... and then to have a glimmering that they had become everything they hated about the normal humans. Perhaps with a sentence or two said to Magneto so he could see that he had turned into a Nazi (full circle, which would be nice, eh?). But no.

Nightcrawler is gone from the movie and he was one of my favorite characters (but you'd expect that from a Catholic, right?). Gabriel's addition in no way offsets that loss as his character has very little impact on the movie anyway.

Those things aside, however, if you were a fan of the movies I would still go see it. It is not a bad movie, just not a great one. There are some great moments such as the scene between Magneto and Mystique at the end of her confinement, Magneto's reaction to Professor Xavier's fate, and Rogue's decision about whether or not to remain a mutant.

It is a satisfying end to the series ... although the very end leaves the door open. Speaking of the very end, don't leave until after all the credits are done. There is a significant scene then and you don't want to miss it.

HC rating: *** Good despite lack of flubber

Tags: Movies

Friday, May 26, 2006

Because I'm a Risk Taker ...

... I'm going to talk about this podcast ... Daily Breakfast with Father Roderick.

I don't have time to listen every day but will "tune in " at least once a week and more often if I can. Father Roderick is a Dutch priest who has a wonderful command of English, American-style. In fact, his English is so good that on the few occasions when he mispronounces something it is quite a surprise to me.

Here's the main thing about Father Roderick though ... the guy is so darned cheerful and nice. Now, I realize that is the same thing that people say about me so you know I already feel a bond with him. You only have to listen to the time he was under suspicion by the airport security guards because of his podcasting. Yes he sounded a little exasperated. But he was still much nicer than I would have been. Certainly there would have been a bad word or two slipping around if I'd have been in that situation. But no, he treated it like a high adventure.

As if that weren't enough, he loves pop culture. I mean, he loves it! Battlestar Galactica, The Simpsons, movies, science fiction ... so how can I not go for that? Right down my alley.

Then we have his extreme love and enthusiasm for the Church. Ok, 'nuff said.

It's like lookin' in a mirror, y'all. Except that the poor guy isn't from Texas. But, hey, nobody's perfect!

Now, you may be wondering, what does this post have to do with risk taking? Well, I noticed some hits coming through from an unfamiliar source and tracked it down. Lo and behold, Happy Catholic evidently has been featured on Daily Breakfast.

You could have knocked me over with a feather.

So I'm downloading that episode and don't know whether he said something good or ... not. I'm really not taking that much of a risk. Like I said. He's a nice guy.

Seriously, give him a try. If daily is too much for you too then check out Catholic Insider. Because one podcast just isn't enough for him (overachiever!) although that one isn't daily.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

About That Serving of Guilt ...

I have gotten some email about this post about guilt. I have also seen a few posts with ponderings generated by it.

This is all good and well except for the fact that, as far as I can tell, only a couple of people have done the requisite reading I requested to really understand what I was trying to communicate.

This is really important to me because without it we are all haring off using our own perceptions about the definition of guilt and that is part of the point of the post ... to understand it better.

So I am reposting the items that I was hoping people would read first ... if nothing else you are depriving yourselves of some excellent food for thought by skipping them.
  1. The Dangerous Prayer of Blessing by The Anchoress
  2. Shame, the Arab Psyche and Islam by Dr. Sanity
Because otherwise, y'all, I'm not gonna discuss that post. They are that important to understanding what I was attempting to say. (It doesn't mean that you can't disagree with me over what I wrote but without common ground on the background there is just no way to move ahead productively.)


Lawyers and Prayers Urgently Needed

Paraphrased from an email I received from someone who has been helping with this situation.
Alicia at Fructus Ventris has been describing a rather frightening situation.

Briefly: Alicia's friend, Nancy, is a midwife as well, and the mother of 12 kids. About three weeks ago, all the kids were removed by Phoenix Child Protective Services, based on an allegation against their 18 year old son. This includes a nursing baby taken from his mothers arms. When the baby was briefly returned to them, he had a black eye and enough of a bruise on his head that an ER doc wanted him to have an MRI to rule out a skull fracture. CPS then took him back and placed him in the same place where these injuries occurred in the first place.

You can read about it indepth here, here, and here.

The bottom line is this: They DO NOT need a letter writing campaign. That might just make matters worse. What they need is an attorney licensed to practice in Arizona. Right now they are using public defenders but a good lawyer might be able to settle this in a couple of weeks, according to an attorney who was consulted.

If anyone knows of one who could possibly help in this matter, please let Alicia know as soon as possible.

Anyone else out there might like to join in a prayer for the family.

St. Jude, the Church invokes you as the universal patron of things despaired of. Pray with us, blessed apostle, for Nancy and James Sandrock, and their beloved children. They need a lawyer to help them in their hour of great need. We pray that they find one, and that the truth of their plight be exposed. We implore you, St. Jude, to use your special place in heaven to help this family go on when their will and resources fail.

Archangel Michael, join us in this battle against the forces of darkness bent on destroying this family. Help them defend against all assaults, and to maintain their strength during the coming weeks. Defend the youngest and most innocent against any ill that might befall them.

Mother Mary, St. Joseph, go to the parents. Guide and comfort them, and help them expose the truth. Lend your protection and succor to them and their youngest especially. Keep them safe and warm in their parents' stead.

We trust in the mercy of Christ, and pray in his name, Amen.

Ahem ... It's the Third Most Important Day of the Year Again!

First is Easter, then is Christmas, then is ... my birthday!

Some people ignore their birthdays or don't want much fuss made. Not me. I OWN my birthday ... just something about it. Everyone in the household knows it too. (To be fair, they all regard their birthdays to be the third most important day of the year.)

Hannah showed the proper spirit last year when she was filling out a job application on Sunday and asked me what the date was. Then she answered her own question with, "Oh, wait. It must be the 22nd because I know Wednesday is the 25th." Yep, just like Christmas. All other dates are figured around this one.

Also it is Padre Pio's birthday which is very cool.

I'm thinking it is time to drop by Royal Thai for my birthday dinner. Something about this warm weather calls out for Asian food.

I am having Hannah and Rose make me a favorite cake that I used to choose often when I was a kid ... chocolate cake with mint frosting and then with unsweetened chocolate poured over that. Heavenly, y'all!

Now I want to show y'all the birthday card that my mother sent ... it is perfect for me ... tranquil to counteract my busy month and has that Asian feel which I love so much. Enjoy!

I am enjoying the heck out of my gifts so far...
  • Thanks Cathy! You made me laugh!
  • Thanks Bender! You made me drool!
  • Thanks Siggy!. Good thing they come two to a package, eh?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Lost: Answers Tonight?

"We are going to tell you why the plane crashed," Lost executive producer Carlton Cuse tells Newsweek of the season finale. "We're going to explain what happens if you don't push the button. And we're going to resolve the Michael-and-Walt story." Just as last year's finale expanded our scope of the island's boundaries, this year's will expand its relevance, writes the magazine in an interview with the cast of the ABC hit drama.
The producers were saying on the podcast that they weren't going to make the mistake they did last season of revealing nothing much during the finale. So let's see ...

WOW ... they weren't just a whistlin' Dixie!

I think that "he" is Henry Gale. That was a surprise!

Michael and Walt ... good riddance. After the way that Michael killed and betrayed to get to Walt the soppy music played at their reunion didn't move me in the least. I didn't care a bit.

How can The Others be "the good guys?" Is this in their minds? Or are the "bad guys" really, really worse?

What happened to Locke and Eko and Desmond after Desmond turned the key?

How about Desmond's flame having those guys looking for the magnetic anomaly? Did she start to track him, found that anomaly before when his boat disappeared and has been looking ever since?

Also, we now understand what happened to the plane don't we?

The Answers to the "Big" Questions

A little thought on where to find those answers ... can be found at the Catholic Catechism Dialogue Blog. I am just grooving on this part of the Catechism y'all!

Can You Be a "Good" American and a "Good" Catholic?

There's quite an interesting discussion going on in the comments box of this post which was generated by a quote from Teddy Roosevelt about immigration. Don't discuss here but go join in if you're interested.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Science and God

Over at the Catholic Catechism Dialogue Blog we're at the point where it spells out what the Church thinks about science and where faith fits in ... check it out.

Teddy and Immigration

Teddy Roosevelt, that is. Via my brother.
"In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag... We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language... and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."
Theodore Roosevelt 1907

Why Refuting Da Vinci Matters

Amy Welborn has her review of the movie up. Interestingly, it varies from most reviews in that she goes into the historical inaccuracies more than anything else. As she already knows, the regular movie critics have taken care of the problems with the movie as entertainment.

For those who say that it's just a movie (or fictional book) and that no one takes it seriously, check out an early comment on that post made by Gabriel. He obviously went to a great deal of time and trouble to post his refutations of Amy's analysis of inaccuracies. Similarly, this bit of email she received shows other ways that criticism of the movie or book can be taken in these politically correct times. I found the email to be the most astonishing, frankly.

Things like this just make it even more obvious that knowing the facts (or lack thereof) behind that particular story do matter very much indeed.

For another review that I found interesting, check out Michael Novak at NRO's reaction.
I think I have never for two-and-a-half hours felt so surrounded by decadence and hostility toward Christ.
Via Insight Scoop.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Graduation, Texas Style

Hannah was one of only three students to present something during graduation. Her theology teacher chose her to select and read a psalm during the invocation at the beginning of graduation. The boy next to her was chosen to write and read a prayer. They both did a beautiful job and were quite poised. Needless to say, we were so proud that she was chosen and she received many compliments both on her presentation and her psalm choice which I thought was a good reflection on what we must remember throughout life.

The third student? Oh, right, well, there was a valedictorian speech which was excellent as well. But what can I say? I'm partial!

These photos are fuzzy because they are still shots from our video camera taken of the Mega Tron, one of two on which the graduation was shown. Yep. Mega Trons. Graduation took place in a mega-church rented for the occasion. It holds 4,000 people and is probably the most comfortable auditorium I have ever been in.

Almost 300 students graduated with every single one of them having a college announced as they walked across the stage ... except for one student. He was the only student who got everyone's full attention (face it, you can't clap full force for every student when there are so many). What he received was prolonged applause, foot stomping, and cheers of approval. He almost got a standing ovation. That boy was joining the Marines. We saw him afterwards walking out with a relative (perhaps an older brother?) whose arm was around his shoulders. That man was in full dress uniform with rows of medals on his chest. What a proud legacy for that boy to carry on. And I was quite proud to have seen him get such whole hearted approval from the crowd.

Afterwards we went to a party at the home of one of Hannah's best friends. I don't know what the other grown ups did. Tom and Rose and I hung out in the living room where all the graduates and their friends were. And we managed to do it without putting a crimp in the festivities. Not bad eh? They were just so much more fun than the people our age so ... we indulged ourselves.

Now, about this church. I don't know if anyone else saw the King of the Hill episode this season when they were looking for a new church to attend and wound up at a mega-church. I was quite curious to see what this church was like, never having been to a mega-church before. We soon found out that mega-churches must have certain characteristics on common with one another because we felt as if we were walking through the King of the Hill episode. There was an elaborate daycare, a cafe, glossy meeting rooms, and that auditorium where services were held ... wow, it was slick! As we said, we could all be quite happy going to a concert there.

As Catholics it was a bit daunting to imagine worshipping there. Rose said that no kneelers and no pews added up to no church for her. We looked at the shuttle signs for far parking lots and the enormous auditorium and Tom wondered, "How does anyone get a sense of community here?" Thinking of King of the Hill, I thought that maybe people formed smaller communities within their larger ones, really just as we do. Our masses are spread across many times and, depending on which one we attend, we will always see someone we know. But it is our smaller community within the larger one of our parish. No big conclusions about mega-churches ... just what we felt and experienced while we were there.

Back to the graduation, it occurs to me that I didn't say anything about the school itself. I have already pointed out the many excellences of Bishop Lynch. What can I say except that we are grateful that they so vigorously support the "Catholic" in the education they are giving their students. For specific examples you can go here, here, and here. Part of that is due to the generally outstanding calibre of teachers they have. Of course, no place is perfect but it is teachers like this who show our kids that you can have a civil level of discourse and strongly disagree without coming to blows, or even disliking each other later on. It hasn't been necessarily easy to afford but Tom and I agree that our best investment to date has been sending our children to Bishop Lynch High School.

Getting Back to Essentials

The ever-essential Anchoress has an outstanding post that looks back on President Bush's accomplishments. She has not been surprised by much of it and what has surprised her just shows how consistently George W. Bush is a man who does what he says he will do. What is heartbreaking about this post is her lamentation, which is right on target, that his base has turned and attacked him for that very consistency to his word.
Imagine that. Imagine being the guy who has given his base one splendid nominee after another, in all manner of posts, make a nomination he thinks appropriate only to find that “base” coming out with both guns, defaming his nominee and directing all manner of insult at himself. President Bush is nothing if not loyal; his loyalty is often his downfall. When he asked for a little trust (which he had surely earned) a little loyalty and a little faith, from “the base,” he got kicked in the groin, over and over again, for daring to think differently, for falling out of lockstep with his policy-wonk “betters.”

That had to be bitter, for him. At that point Bush, unchanged in essentials, might have wondered if his conservative “base” had become a bit over-confident and loose-hipped, so cock-sure of their majority (not that congress used it) so certain of their own brilliance that they were beginning to believe they didn’t need him; that he wasn’t conservative enough, after all, and that the next president was going to be the solid, “uncompassionate” conservative they’d really wanted all along. The president who had delivered one gift after another to his base asked them to trust him, and his base sneered.
Do go read the whole thing if for no other reason than to remember all the great things that he has done.

My Myopia is Showing

I'm very surprised you haven't yet mentioned anything about the Maciel decision by the Vatican which is HUGE news!

The RC has been recruiting among STA parish members. They have a school, The Highlands, in Irving.

Please put something up.
Your wish is my command.

Honestly, I've seen everyone talking about this but haven't read too much of it. It slid under my radar as do many of the Catholic happenings around.

However, now that it has been called directly to my attention, I'll direct y'all to American Papist who have been keeping a close eye on the whole thing with links to all the pertinent commentaries ranging from canon lawyers to news organizations to mainstream news reactions:

A Little SEX Problem

Knitting and a love of yarn are often inextricably linked. On the web, shopping for yarn is known by the acronym SEX, which stands for Stash Enrichment eXpedition. The daughter of one passionate knitter had a dream where, after knocking on her mom's door repeatedly to no response, she walked around to the side of the house. There she saw windows breaking out as yarn poured from them. Forcing open the front door, she found the entire house filled almost to the top, with her mom swimming through the yarn.
Knit Bits: 2006 day to Day Calendar
excerpted from A Passion for Knitting.
Thereby proving, perhaps that I am not a hardcore knitter because it is one of the few areas of my life where I am perfectly content to finish one project before getting the supplies for another. Now if only I could stop buying cookbooks...

A Healthy Serving of Guilt

One cannot get the full impact of what is being said here without reading the reference articles by The Anchoress and Dr. Sanity, both linked to below. Please make the effort to do so.

Here's an interesting reaction I received to my link to The Anchoress' excellent post about obedience to God.
"No gay man or woman should have to submit to violence or public scorn and disrespect because they were dealt homosexuality."

Violence no. Public scorn and disrespect...okay.

Isn't this like saying that I was "dealt" a sexual proclivity towards cheating on my wife? If we're removing choice in sexual practices then I can easily make the claim that since men were clearly built to attach themselves to multiple partners that some men are driven to do so at a greater steam than others. Why should they have to be punished by society for the hand they've been dealt? Pedophiles are drawn to children, should they not surrender (although I'm comfortable with violence being brought out on them)? Sexual activity is what it is, an activity. It has meaning and it is important but it is a choice, in most cases two consenting people don't accidentally have relations. It involves intent and through intent one makes choices regardless of their impulses. The above statement seems to state that gays do not have a choice when they do. If no gay man or woman should submit to disrespect or public scorn, then they are held to a different standard than straights since straights are not allowed to ignore their urges.

Overall the post and the concepts in it I agree with. This particular section causes me some concern on what you're meaning.
This email came from a person I respect and really like but with whom I usually spar quite a lot although not about subjects of this seriousness. Needless to say, he was quite shocked when I told him that I agreed ... at least basically.

I think that actually what he is getting at is the need to restore guilt to our culture for certain activities which are just not healthy, both for the individual and for society as a whole. This was jump started by my memory of a discussion of shame versus guilt by Dr. Sanity which I found quite enlightening. Here's a bit, but do go read it all because this snippet is not enough to get across the entire point.
Guilt is an emotion that rises after a transgression of one's own or cultural values. Guilt is about actions or behavior; while shame is about the self. There is an important psychological difference in saying to someone that their behavior is bad; as contrasted with saying that they are bad. The former leads to guilt; the latter to shame.

The purpose of guilt is to stop behavior that violates a self, family or societal standard. Guilt keeps score on excesses or deficits of behavior deemed undesirable and is expressed in regret and remorse.

Eventually for the shame-avoidant person, reality itself must be distorted in order to further protect the self from poor self-esteem. Blaming other individuals or groups for one's own behavior becomes second nature, and this transfer of blame to someone else is an indicator of internal shame.

Most psychological theorists (Erikson, Freud, Kohut) see shame as a more "primitive" emotion (since it impacts one's basic sense of self) compared to guilt, which is developed later in the maturation of the self. Without the development of guilt there is no development of a real social conscience.
This is basically what The Anchoress was getting at also; the need to avoid shame for homosexuals. It can be difficult to disassociate shame and guilt, especially when dealing with a hot button topic like homosexuality. However, as my correspondent points out with his examples, we do seem to be able to do it.

To carry the concept further, we seem to be able to do this also with alcoholics and others with addictive personalities. We can and do enact legislation, put into place support programs, and publicly condemn the behavior while supporting the individual in rehabilitation. Where our society becomes disfunctional is about anything sexual which does not show something which we can prove is physical harm. Somehow, even though it can be widely acknowledged that divorce, sexual addition, pornography, and other such behavior is harmful to the individual and their families, it doesn't carry the same social weight of other aforementioned problems. However, these problems and the resultant fallout for the family members are some of the unspoken things that everyone knows. When one gets to bigger issues such as homosexuality and abortion it as if society itself has gone blind, wanting proof, proof, and more proof. And the proof is never good enough.

Would bringing back guilt help keep these things in check? It is an interesting question, even if one could accomplish such a thing, which is an interesting question in itself.

Please note that I am not advocating shame here. I am talking about guilt. It seems to me to be similar to making the jump that we all managed from years ago when a drunk at a party was an amusing spectacle who was often left to weave his way home ... to the attitudes of today where alcoholism is treated seriously as dangerous to everyone but the alcoholic person is viewed with compassion as someone who needs to be helped. Part of that jump is accomplished for the alcoholic by knowing society's views and how he or she is expected to make a serious effort to control those dangerous impulses. As The Anchoress says, we are sometimes dealt a stinking card in life but we still must live with it the best we can. How much easier is this when society lends a helping hand without empowering the destructive impulses?

While pondering all this I read the following in Thomas Dubay's Evidential Power Of Beauty. He was speaking of impediments to perceiving beauty but this equally applies to the questions raised above.
Comments von Balthasar:
The Biblical concept of "making blind" (with all its variations) can have meaning only if it is related to something which is objectively visible, something which could and would have to be seen in the appropriate circumstances. The French expression cela creve les yeaux (It's as plain as the nose on your face — literally, this is so obvious it pulls your eyes out) here acquires an unexpected impact: what dazzles to the point of blinding is precisely what is most perfectly evident and which meets with violent negation. (Cf. Rom 1:20ff). This is important for the understanding of scandal. It is not the object's invisibility which creates uncertainty and finally results in a failure to see on the part of the subject. It is, rather, the prior judgment we make that the thing in question cannot be what it claims to be which responsible. The true scandal is the arrogant attitude that opposes one's subjective opinion to the objective evidence.
This penetrating analysis may be rejected as outrageous by those to whom it most applies. Egocentric people do not enjoy being exposed as being dogmatic, as flying in the face of evidences to which they have no intelligent response. They hold what they hold mainly because it suits their chosen lifestyle or because their dogmatic premises will not allow another answer. Contemporary examples are not lacking. The intellectual bankruptcy of the current pro-abortion movement is plain to any informed student of the question when we compare the competent and compelling scholarship over the years in hundreds of articles and studies in Human Life Review and other pro-life periodicals and books with the meagerness of serious moral thinking in the pro-abortion camp, we find no rational explanation for the latter's refusal to see the light. What we do find are shabby slogans and transparent euphemisms that substitute for thought. It's no accident that abortion has everything to do with sexual lifestyles.
What does it take for our society to drop the blinders on subjects like homosexuality and abortion? Because it is only society that can reinforce a helping of guilt and it does seem to me that a healthy serving of that is what we need.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Media Reporting: Old Versus New

Columnist Steve Blow has been busy defending media against reports of excessive negativity, especially in the case of the Iraq war. To prove his point, he went back and read some newspapers from World War II. Guess what? Oh, you already know. He found much more even handed reporting. Here's a bit but do go read it all (free registration required).
But after several older folks mentioned to me how different the news coverage was back during World War II, I decided to check that for myself. Going into our archives, I looked to see how this newspaper covered that war.

I suspected I would find one of two things -- either unflinching reporting much less rosy than the oldsters remembered, or blatantly soft, upbeat coverage that would never fly today.

But what I found was something else -- both.

Looking back at those old newspapers, I found a combination of unvarnished, often-grim stories and a regular leavening of hopeful, inspiring stories. And I must say, the effect was quite refreshing.
This dovetails quite nicely with a similar discover about science journals made at Lofted Nest. Here's the summary but do go read the findings from this month which are listed.
I wonder, more and more frequently, just what science has become. When my issue of Scientific American comes in the mail, I find myself reading the "50, 100 & 150 Years Ago" section first and enjoying the wonder and optimism of the magazine's past. Articles about underwater photography from 1856, advances in railway engine design in 1906 and the discovery of the antiproton in 1956 show science at its best: captivating, opening frontiers of thought and exploration, drawing our spirit and intellect into the future.

But the current articles, though sometimes interesting, are often the opposite: they no longer captivate, but depress; rather than opening frontiers into the future, they paint a darkened picture of what is to come.
Is this the current mindset of our nation? Are we all so depressed about the future that it is reflected in our media? Or is it a result of the tactics used to sell papers, with more and more shocks and revelations required to gather our interest? Possibly it is a combination of both.

It seems to result in a growing cynicism and lack of optimism that is not healthy at all, whether for an individual or a society. One can easily see why people marvel after going to Third World countries and seeing joy present despite squalor and poverty. It is what Mother Teresa put her finger on when she talked about the spiritual poverty of the West that is worse than the physical poverty of the less fortunate countries.

How does one combat this?

I know of only one answer for that. (Y'all already know this one too, right?) It is to know and love God. It is to trust Him when He says that He has a better way, even if you can't understand what he is getting at when he is remaking you.

It is He who gave me a spirit of optimism and joy when before I fit in all too well with society in my basic reactions to everything. I was mentioning this to the girls last week ... that I used to be automatically pessimistic and cynical about everything. They were quite surprised and Hannah said, "I don't think my friends would believe that." Honestly, it is getting difficult to remember it myself.

However, I think it is a testimony that we can preach through our actions, without words. Living our optimism and joy out where everyone can see it is the best evangelism ever. Not to mention being quite a nice antidote to the poisonous pessimism that is spread by media today.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

You Can't Always Get What You Want ...

I am not proposing that the whole world take a look at the cards in their hand and “fold.” To surrender is not to fold. It is to play the hand you’ve been dealt - to take it as far as you can, in faith and obedience (there’s a word you never hear anymore…)

Sometimes you have to play aggressively and even radically. No child born should have to “surrender” to racist treatment because they were dealt a skin shade others may not appreciate. No gay man or woman should have to submit to violence or public scorn and disrespect because they were dealt homosexuality. But perhaps part of our whole human experience is meant to contain a moment wherein we say, “okay, God, you dealt me this hand. I don’t particularly appreciate it - it’s not the hand I would have chosen. Therefore, I’ll let you play it, I’ll follow your lead and trust that it will not come up a stinker.

Tough to do…it goes against our every instinct. And yet, this is what Christ lived out for us. His trial, torture and death were NOT what his followers had in mind. It did not meet their expectations. It thwarted all their plans and turned their desires into nothingness. And they had no choice, they had to just deal with it, accept it, live through it. And on the third day, Christ rose, and the entire world was made new, due to that surrender - due to playing a hand no one really wanted to see dealt, faithfully, and to completion.
If I quoted all I wanted to from this truth-filled post that boldly speaks what so many do not want to hear, then I'd put the entire thing here. Go see what The Anchoress reveals in The Dangerous Prayer of Blessing.

ADDITION: Speaking of Ignoring the Truth
Check out this revised liturgical form being discussed by Episcopalians ... for God, Our Mother. I guess this is an example of what happens when we keep chipping away at the truth of things to satisfy ourselves. Ick.

Proud Mom Alert

Yesterday was the high school convocation for seniors. Hannah found out that she had the highest biology test results of the entire school in the Science League tests. Now, that was unexpected! And a wonderful surprise. It's looking as if she may be right on target in wanting to become a zoologist.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Here's Hoping for At Least 22 More Wonderful Years

I remember when the storm blew in during our wedding reception. The sky turned black and it was raining cats and dogs.

Raymond and Thelma, my grandparents, came hurrying over to us and said, "We want you not to worry about this storm. It's a good omen. It poured rain on the day we got married too."

Now that made it a good omen. You never knew a more compatible, devoted, and loving couple than my grandparents.

I think it is an omen that has come true for us. My mother-in-law once said that she had never seen a more compatible couple than Tom and me.

All I know is that I love him more and more with each passing year. I pray that our daughters can find husbands who bring out the best in them the way that Tom has done for me just by being himself ... cheerful, sunny, funny, smart and loving. If so then they each will feel like the luckiest woman on earth, just as I do.

The "Heroic Minute"

Many good Christians develop the habit of giving their first though of the day to God. The "heroic minute" follows: it facilitates the Morning Offering and getting the day off to a good start. The heroic minute. It is the time fixed for getting up. Without hesitation: a supernatural reflection and ... up. The heroic minute: here you have a mortification that strengthens your will and does no harm to your body. If, with God's help, you conquer yourself, you will be well ahead for the rest of the day.

It's so discouraging to find oneself beaten at the first skirmish. (Josemaria Escriva, The Way)

Although we don't have to follow any particular formula when saying the Morning Offering, it's good to opt for some habitual way of living this practice of piety. Some people like to recite some simple prayer they learned as children or as adults...

Apart from the Morning Offering, it's up to each of us to decide what other prayers we'd like to say when we get up: perhaps some other prayer to our Lady and a prayer to St. Joseph and to our Guardian Angel. It's also a good moment to call to mind the resolutions we made at the examination of conscience the previous night, asking God for the grace to put them into effect that day.

Almighty Lord and God, protect us by your power throughout the course of this day, even as you have enabled us to begin it: do not let us turn aside to any sin, but let our every thought, word and deed aim at doing what is pleasing in your sight. (Divine office, Morning prayer, Monday, Week 2)
Why is it that getting up on time should be so very difficult? It truly is a heroic thing for me. The times that I really concentrate on this, I usually have to ask my Guardian Angel to help me remember to get up. It works every time ... but of course you have to keep wanting to get up in the morning!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

It's a Girl!

Congratulations to Dom and Melanie!

And Now For Something Completely Different

This actually is for Rose who has been known to reverently utter, "Absolutely gorgeous" when watching Prison Break.

She's not the only one.
He is solar-eclipse hot (don't look at him straight on -- you'll go blind!). With a heritage listed as African, Jamaican, English, German, French, Dutch, Syrian, and Lebanese, he's like an Exotic Ken doll come to life.

We first saw him on Popular and Joan Of Arcadia, where he made us feel seriously uneasy. We couldn't quite put our finger on it, but he was somehow too perfect-looking to crush on. (We like our men hot, but not too hot, and with some flaws we can relate to, thank you very much.) With that vacant stare and almost robotically calm voice, he didn't seem quite human...

So just how essential is it that we have one more wicked-hot actor walking the streets? Would we really miss Miller if he went back to his home planet? Prison Break -- the show that finally realized the only way to make a guy that scary good-looking less frightening is to lock him up in maximum security -- goes on summer hiatus today. We're about to get a taste of how bad Miller withdrawal would be.
We also first saw him on Joan of Arcadia where he played the devil's cohort. It was the only time we've seriously had to worry about cheering for evil.

Again, let me say ... just doing this for my dear daughter ... and I'll toss in ... revering God through admiring His handiwork.

Thank You God ... For My Big Mouth

... knowing that Christ has given me gifts now to be used for Christ. So he gives me gifts, I use them for Him or I use them for myself. I used to use them for myself and I realized that I get much more joy trying to use the gifts for Christ because He gives us all different gifts. Some people have the gift of prayer, healing ... I was given a big mouth. So I could either use it for myself or for Christ. I find it's better to use it for Christ. And I think that's why He gave me a big mouth.
This quote is from a very engaging Irish fellow, John Gunn, interviewed on EWTN: The Journey Home podcast (you can find it on iTunes). He is honest and forthright ... and I love his big mouth! It makes me feel better thinking that my propensity to speak up is a gift. Hopefully I will use it always, as Gunn says, for Christ.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

How Does She Do That?

Once again, The Anchoress says what I'm thinking ... but so much more eloquently. Nice to know someone who calls it like she sees it, even when it means disagreeing with those like Michelle Malkin.

Pruning That the Rich Man May Enter Heaven

Just a train of thought that came to me and not intended for anyone else ... unless it strikes you personally. In which case, help yourself!

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.

He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.

You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.

Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.

I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.

Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned.

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.

By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.
This was the gospel reading last Sunday and is again today. Between our Bible study and the Sunday homily many concepts were discussed: that Jesus is the living sap that feeds us, how branches intertwine to make community, etc.

However, I was truly struck by this commentary from Father Cantalamessa, preacher to the Pontifical Household, about pruning. It takes a totally different route and was quite enlightening to me. He is a consistent favorite of mine and perhaps this will strike y'all as well. Do go read it all but here's my favorite part.
One must have the courage to make choices, to put some secondary interests to one side to concentrate on the primary. To prune!

This is even truer in the spiritual life. Holiness is like a sculpture. Leonardo da Vinci defined sculpture as "the art of removing." The other arts consist in adding something: color to the canvas in painting, stone on stone in architecture, note after note in music.

Only sculpture consists of removing, of taking away the pieces of marble that are in excess, so that the figure can emerge that one has in mind. Christian perfection is also obtained like this, by removing and making useless pieces fall off, namely, desires, ambitions, projects, carnal tendencies that disperse us and do not let us finish anything.

One day, Michelangelo walking through a garden in Florence saw a block of marble in a corner protruding from the earth, half covered by grass and mud.

He stopped suddenly, as if he had seen someone, and turning to friends, who were with him, exclaimed: "An angel is imprisoned in that marble; I must get him out." And, armed with a chisel, he began to work on that block until the figure of a beautiful angel emerged.

God also looks at us and sees us this way: as shapeless blocks of stone. He then says to himself: "Therein is hidden a new and beautiful creature that waits to come out to the light; more than that, the image of my own son Jesus Christ is hidden there, I want to bring it out!" We are predestined to "be conformed to the image of his son" (Romans 8:29).

Then, what does He do? He takes the chisel, which is the cross, and begins to work on us. He takes the pruning shears, and begins to prune us.
Certainly, in my mind, it goes hand in hand with Rick Lugari's comments about how we are blessed beyond our own knowledge. I think that oftentimes we feel we are being pruned or carrying a heavy cross when we truly are just experiencing regular daily life for which many people of the world would give a lot to be able to live as we do. Not that God will not prune us using daily life. Of course, He will and does. However, I think that oftentimes what we, in our luxury, mistake for deep pruning is just cutting a few twigs.
I'm not complaining...not at all. The reason I'm painting the picture (perhaps more than I would normally care to) is to point out that I still think we have it easy. Very easy, indeed. It's not like we don't feel overwhelmed more often than not, but in comparison to much of the world and throughout history, it's a cake walk.

And here's some proof that all of us in this conversation have it far more easy than we think: We're all sitting here at a keyboard reading and typing away. Everyone should ask themselves just how much time they spend at their computer doing leisurely things like reading and writing blogs, etc. throughout the day. How about going to the movies, restaurants, watching TV, watching sporting events, reading books...?

We all have it made...we're just spoiled brats (certainly I am...if that shoe doesn't fit any of you, don't wear it).
That is why we must be careful to discern with dispassionate eyes and minds, just what is happening in our lives. I think that ours is what I recently heard called a "dry martyrdom" ... one that is all the more difficult because it is so internal. We must struggle against secular society, against the riches that tempt us to idolize them, against our own laziness or various temptations. No wonder Jesus said that it was difficult for the rich man to enter heaven. In his time so many of us would have been labeled as rich. And we know those struggles, understand why he said it.

All the more reason for me to remember to cling to that vine to which I have been grafted, to ask (even though with fear and trepidation, for I am no braver than anyone else) for God to chisel away what does not reflect Jesus Christ in me. Lord, hear my prayer.

Lord Hear Our Prayer ...

Let us pray to the risen Christ in whom all thirst is slaked:

R: Give us living water to drink!

You are the vine, and we the branches: bear in us the fruit of life - R

You are the rock in the desert from which the waters flow, and we the thirsty: cool our weary souls with the living waters of your Holy Spirit - R

You are the living Word, and we those who hunger to hear: bring life to those who grope for a sense of purpose in life - R

Our Father ...

Ever-living God, you have given us the water of life to drink through our risen Savior, vine, rock, Word. Make us so thirst for him that we will turn aside form all lesser thirsts, through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.
Personal intentions:
  • Maureen's friend
  • Little Jack, 8, who has brain cancer
  • The Anchoress' health
  • MaryAnn with brain cancer
  • My brother's job
  • Klaire's CRHP team, readying themselves for discernment
  • General intention: the too-busy and stressed-out

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Lord Hear Our Prayer ...

In a world divided, let us pray for the Spirit of peace:

R: You hear your children's appeal

God of peace, make peace among those at war: R

God of justice, make right what we have made wrong: R

God of goodness, make holy what we have turned to our own selfish ends: R
Personal intentions:
  • Maureen's friend
  • Little Jack, 8, who has brain cancer
  • The Anchoress' health
  • MaryAnn with brain cancer
  • My brother's job
  • Deb's request for little Emma
  • Klaire's CRHP team, readying themselves for discernment
  • General intention: families

Well Why Didn't You Just Say So: &

The "ampersand," a familiar keyboard symbol, represents a shortened version of a cumbersome phrase. As the phrase was first used, it was "and per se and," or more literally, "and in itself and." In a much simpler form, this just means "and." The symbol derived from the Latin word et, which means "and" — its form evolved from the two separate letters, E and T, gradually merging into a single new character.
The Word Origin Calendar
And I for one am grateful that it did. "and per se and" ... cumbersome is not the word.

Calling Mothers with Large Families

These days anything over three qualifies as a large family I suppose.

A discussion is going on over at Et tu Jen that life today is so hard without traditional family groups living together to help watch the kids, etc., that it is only normal to limit families to a few children.

This is your chance to have a charitable, perhaps eye-opening discussion about it so head on over there.

The Trinity

Another blast from HC's past.

This is one of the descriptions of the Trinity that almost lets me wrap my brain around that whole mystery ... almost. Also, one of the best descriptions ever of the family's inner essence.
Our thoughts and our loves, the two distinctively human acts that no animal can perform, issue forth from us but do not become distinct persons unless aided by the flesh. In God, they are so real that they are the two additional Persons in God: God's word, or self-expression, is so real that he is the second person in God, and the love between Father and Son is so real that he is the third Person. Human creativity, both mental and biological, is the image of the Trinity. That is one reason why the family is holy; it bears the intimate stamp of the very inner nature of God, the life of Trinitarian love, the two becoming three in becoming one.

Monday, May 15, 2006

We'll Be on the Lookout

Prison Break will be filming its second season in Dallas, beginning around the middle of June. We don't hang around the places where celebrities are likely to be spending any off hours. But it'll be fun to keep an eye out anyway.

Reading this morning that President Bush will be speaking to the nation tonight about the immigration bill, I was struck by the idea that all over America, people were saying, "Not during 24! Please, no!" If the President is wise he won't try to compete with Jack Bauer. Let's face it. Who really can?

Because how can we leave that out if we're discussing television? How Stuff Works has an interesting rundown of The Dharma Initiative.

Back to Basics: Sacred Tradition

God's word is more than letters on a page or sounds to the ear. His word is creative. When God speaks the word it happens. For example, the book of Genesis in the Bible tells us that God created merely by saying the word: "God said, 'let there be light,' and there was light."

Catholics believe that the Word of God is found not only in the Bible but also in the unwritten or spoken word — Sacred Tradition...

It took some time between what Jesus actually said and did from when the Gospel writer put it on paper (actually on parchment), so what took place during that period? Before the written word was the unwritten or spoken word. Just as in the Old Testament, things happened and were said long before they were written down, so, too, in the New Testament. Jesus preached his sermons and worked his miracles, died on the cross, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven long before anyone wrote it down. No one took notes while he preached. No letters were written between Jesus and the apostles. Sacred Tradition predates and preceded Sacred Scripture, but both come from the same source — God.

The New Testament is totally silent on whether Jesus ever married or had children. The Bible says nothing about his marital status, yet Christians believe he had no wife and kids. Sacred Tradition tell us that he never married just as Sacred Tradition says that the Gospels number only four...
Catholicism For Dummies by John Trigilio
Honestly, the Sola Scriptura way of thinking just doesn't make sense to me. For example, nowhere in the Bible that I can see is our understanding of the Holy Trinity spelled out. Where did that come from, if not from except divine revelation which has been passed down by Sacred Tradition? When it comes to taking the Bible at its word as so many seem to insist on ... how about the part where Jesus tells everyone that they must eat his flesh and drink his blood (the words used mean "gnaw") so almost everyone leaves ... and he lets them go. No arguing or saying it was symbolic. Not even any behind-the-scenes different explanation as he so often gave to the disciples after everyone was gone. If we really want to get basic, how about what the Bible itself says is the holder of truth?
I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these instructions to you so that, if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth.
I Timothy 3:14,15
At the Catholic Catechism Dialogue Blog, a former Protestant minister points out that Protestants have their own unacknowledged form of Sacred Tradition.
One. Protestants do not in fact make the Bible only their sole pillar of truth. No, they don't. They recall, study, emulate and if honest with themselves venerate the teachers of the founders {and there are several of them with several conflicting understandings of what the Bible alone teaches} of their Protestant faith. The Bible alone is not the actual sole guide.
That never occurred to me until he mentioned it but does ring true.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

For Mothers' Day


Mary Cassatt, The Child's Caress, Source

I am not a fan of Mothers' Day. It is too much of a manufactured holiday. For Mary we have the month of May as well as other special feast days. For me ... my birthday is the day.

However, I do not begrudge the enjoyment of the day to all who are fans so ... Happy Mothers' Day!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Got 4 Tunes and a Shallow Plot? Let's Call it Opera!

Rose got this movie yesterday for her birthday and we watched it last night. Interestingly it was so very operatic ... gorgeous sets, melodrama, haunting music (through quite similar to each other somehow ... they all seemed to run together and I could recognize them but had a hard time telling them apart also), glorious voices ... which did not necessarily make for the best movie ever. I think it was definitely a chick flick in that way.

We wisecracked our way through it and at one point I apologized to Rose for being so flip about a movie she obviously loved. She grinned and said, "Oh I know exactly what this movie is. But I love it anyway." Don't we all have movies like that? I didn't love this one but it was certainly entertaining enough.

The one thing it did leave me with was a desire to go see some real opera. My mother used to take us when we were in junior high and it engendered a love that has never left me. I never passed that on to the girls which I regret. At one point, Rose said, "I love this exchange. Listen to all three songs interweaving and then coming together." Classic opera at that point. Guess I'll have to check out what the Dallas Opera is up to when their new season starts and plan a field trip!

For those who want a quickie but not to sit through the movie, Occupation: Girl did one of her trademark movies in 15 minutes which is, as always, hilarious (you must be registered with LiveJournal but it's free).
Some Underground Lair

CHRISTINE [waking up]: What the crap is this musical monkey box? And I’m in a… swan bed? Whatever. So. Let’s see. I remember… a lot of candles…

A LOT OF CANDLES: *flicker*

CHRISTINE: …a horse…

HORSE: Neigh, baby.

CHRISTINE: And a big lake, and a boat… and some guy.

THE PHANTOM: [writing music]: Mornin’.

[She goes over to the Phantom and touches his face and he seems to dig it.]

CHRISTINE: So, I’m gonna take your mask off.


CHRISTINE: Peeling it off as we speak.

THE PHANTOM: Ten-four.

CHRISTINE: It’s totally coming off.

THE PHANTOM: Sure, have a party.

THE MASK: *comes off*

(HC rating: Good despite lack of flubber)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Speaking of Over the Hedge

Here's the official Othercott spot with more info than simply urging you to go see a different movie than the Da Vinci Code. Scroll down for 10 "other" things to do on or before May 19th.

Me? Ahem ... I'm not gonna comment about Over the Hedge any more, however, that will be our wedding anniversary weekend as well as Hannah's baccalaureate mass and graduation weekend.

Movies are the last thing I'll be thinking about!

Dance, Dance Evolution

Got six minutes to watch the Evolution of Dance? Via Quiet Life.

Rose is Sweet Sixteen

Our sweet, smart, musical, savvy, sensitive Rose ... how can she really be 16 and getting ready to learn to drive? How time flies (trite but so true).

We'll be celebrating Tex-Mex style at Marianos. For the grand finale, she has chosen chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting (can't believe I found a photo for it though ours will be round not square). Mmmmm....

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

TAR: Monkeys!

Getting close to the end and I was very happy to see that MoJo got eliminated. I really could not stand her whining and crying a minute more. I feel that the Frat Boys will probably win but would be happy with either of the other two teams actually.

And, we loved the dear little monkeys ... I can only imagine what that shrine area must smell like! Whew!

"Now I understand why Sawyer squashed that tree frog"

So said soft-hearted, animal-loving Hannah upon finding out that the very loud, "whirring" sound she's heard all night for the last two nights is a frog outside her window. It's been driving Tom and her crazy. Me? I didn't even notice it until she asked what it was. Talk about tuning out...

In a World Where Mermaids Are Viewed as Sweet ...

... and where the first trailer for Lady in the Water was so innocent seeming and even boring, there comes this trailer that gives us a totally different view altogether. Not so nice after all. But interesting looking...

The Problem of Evil

Working my way through Peter Kreeft's Fundamentals of the Faith, I continue to be struck at how well he summarizes answers to common objections to the existence of God. While the existence of evil never particularly was something that struck me as a reason there could not be a God, it clearly is one of the main objections. In fact it is one of the only two objections that St. Thomas Aquinas could find. (The other was the apparent ability of natural science to explain everything in our experience without God.) You can find Kreeft's chapter on evil here. What I liked most were his comments on the philosophical problem of evil.
Finally, what about the philosophical problem? It is not logically contradictory to say an all-powerful and all-loving God tolerates so much evil when he could eradicate it? Why do bad things happen to good people? The question makes three questionable assumptions.

First, who's to say we are good people? The question should be not "Why do bad things happen to good people?" but "Why do good things happen to bad people?" If the fairy godmother tells Cinderella that she can wear her magic gown until midnight, the question should be not "Why not after midnight?" but "Why did I get to wear it at all?" The question is not why the glass of water is half empty but why it is half full, for all goodness is gift. The best people are the ones who are most reluctant to call themselves good people. Sinners think they are saints, but saints know they are sinners. The best man who ever lived once said, "No one is good but God alone."

Second, who's to say suffering is all bad? Life without it would produce spoiled brats and tyrants, not joyful saints. Rabbi Abraham Heschel says simply, "The man who has not suffered, what can he possibly know, anyway?" Suffering can work for the greater good of wisdom. It is not true that all things are good, but it is true that "all things work together for good to those who love God."

Third, who's to say we have to know all God's reasons? Who ever promised us all the answers? Animals can't understand much about us; why should we be able to understand everything about God? The obvious point of the Book of Job, the world's greatest exploration of the problem of evil, is that we just don't know what God is up to. What a hard lesson to learn: Lesson One, that we are ignorant, that we are infants! No wonder Socrates was declared by the Delphic Oracle to be the wisest man in the world. He interpreted that declaration to mean that he alone knew that he did not have wisdom, and that was true wisdom for man.
Another reposting as I continue to listen to Peter Kreeft's audio offerings and want to share with y'all just how inspirational and mind expanding I find his thinking.

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Literary Post of the Week

By William Shakespeare

Spit. Hiss.

Shut your mouth before I hit you.

I can be civilized now that a man has bossed me around.
I love you madly, Petruchio.


Miracles: Evidence of God's Existence

If I were an atheist, I think I would save my money to buy a plane ticket to Italy to see whether the blood of Saint Januarius really did liquefy and congeal miraculously, as it is supposed to do annually. I would go to Medjugorge. I would study all published interviews of any of the seventy thousand who saw the miracle of the sun at Fatima. I would ransack hospital records for documentated "impossible", miraculous cures. Yet, strangely, almost all atheists argue against miracles philosophically rather than historically. They are convinced a priori, by argument, that miracles can't happen. So they don't waste their time or money on such an empirical investigation. Those who do soon cease to be atheists -- like the sceptical scientists who investigated the Shroud of Turin, or like Frank Morrison, who investigated the evidence for the "myth" of Christ's Resurrection with the careful scientific eye of the historian -- and became a believer. (His book Who Moved the Stone? is still a classic and still in print after more than sixty years.)
Interesting idea isn't it? Just go check out the facts for yourself on those miracles and trust the evidence of your own eyes. It takes someone with a very open mind or a determination to prove the miracles false to go check them out. I think such people are much rarer than is commonly believed. Certainly, most atheists I know would not investigate but just argue from what they already know to be true.

By the way, I highly recommend Who Moved the Stone.

(Reposted from a long time ago ... I just like it too much.)

Monday, May 8, 2006

More Choices For That Pesky Da Vinci Code Movie

Yesterday I wrote about choosing between the Da Vinci Code and Over the Hedge movies as has been suggested to show Hollywood that we ain't gonna take it anymore.

My problem largely was that there are no good movie alternatives and Over the Hedge just looks so dreadful to watch that I thought a boycott and staying home would be better. In answer to a question about why my sudden dislike for Over the Hedge I must say that it is not sudden at all. I have loathed that movie ever since seeing the first trailers. It looks like the worst of "dumbing down, scatalogical" movies directed at kids. Think "Madagascar" put in the woods. Ugh! There just hasn't been any reason to mention it before now. Believe me, if you had to listen to me mention every movie trailer that looks terrible we'd all be here for a very long time.

Nehring the Edge talks about the superior effectiveness of a "buycott" and says that even paying for Over the Hedge while not seeing it would be a better alternative. I like the "buycott" idea but in response to saying that a boycott doesn't ever work I have noticed this morning that there has been a lot of talk about Mission Impossible III's relatively low box office numbers which has been attributed to Tom Cruise's self-inflicted over exposure and resultant lack of appeal, especially to women.

College Catholic via the comments boxes mentions that it might be important for Christians to see the Da Vinci Code so that they know what they are arguing about if asked questions after someone has seen the movie. He mentions paying for a different movie and then going to see the Da Vinci Code instead. I think that I've seen that idea before (though it may have been at his place, just can't remember).

Personally, after having thought about it for an evening I think that if I had to go see a movie I'd plump for Flight 93. It is an option that would still be at the movies most likely. Also, wouldn't it be nice to see a resurgence in box office numbers for a movie that promotes good movie making, heroism, and right ideals in place of the Da Vinci Code?