Friday, September 30, 2005

The Shining Redux

The Shining the way you never imagined it. Pure genius. Don't miss it!

Great Google Links, Batman!

It seems that Spero News is coming right along as a content provider. And more people are figuring that out all the time. Pretty good considering they just got started in April or May!

Mortification, Part I

Just the word, "mortification," sounds terrible doesn't it? However, it is not such a bad thing at all and nothing "extra" for the practicing Christian who wants to draw closer to Jesus. I am going to put this reading up in three parts to make it easy to digest.
Mortification prepares the soul to listen to the Lord and to follow his Will: If we want to reach God we will have to mortify the soul and all its powers (St. Jean Vianney). Mortification can convert our souls into the good soil that will bring the divine seed to fruition. We have to weed out and burn those thorns that tend to flourish in the soul -- laziness, egoism, envy, curiosity ... This is why the church recommends that we review our spirit of penance and mortification on Fridays. This spirit will lead us to be more generous in our invitation of Christ on the Cross. Closely related to mortification is that happiness which we all find so necessary.

Anyone who intends to live his Christian faith seriously needs to put off the old nature with its practices (Col 3:9). This old nature consists in the variety of bad inclinations we have inherited from Adam. It is the triple concupiscence which we need to control through the exercise of mortification (A. Tanquerey). Mortification is not recommended as a negative action. On the contrary, it is meant to rejuvenate the soul. Mortification makes the soul better disposed to receive supernatural gifts. It also helps us to make reparation for our past sins. This is why we frequently pray to the Lord to grant us emendationem vitae, spatium verae paenitentiae, a time of true penance and reformation of life (Roman Missal). By means of the Communion of Saints we give help and strength to other members of the mystical body which is the Church.
Coming tomorrow: the first of three main areas for daily mortification.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

I Concur.

Your Blog Should Be Yellow

You're a cheerful, upbeat blogger who tends to make everyone laugh.
You are a great storyteller, and the first to post the latest funny link.
You're also friendly and welcoming to everyone who comments on your blog.

Via Culture Shock and the blondelibrarian.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Do Y'all Think So?

Your Blogging Type is Social and Responsible

You enjoy blogging and do all you can to advance the blogging community.
From helping friends set up blogs to getting rid of spam - you take a leadership role.
A super blogger, you tend to blog regularly. You'd hate to disappoint your audience.
And always appropriate, there's no way you'd blog something too personal!

There were only four questions so it is short and sweet ... but I don't know if it is right or not. (I'm finding it difficult to evaluate my own style in this for some reason.) Via Fructis Ventris.

Monday, September 26, 2005

I Actually Stuck It Out to the Bitter End

... and there is an end. Enjoy!

Via ukok.

My Latest Spero News Article

Quick! What's For Dinner? ... a couple of cookbook recommendations for getting dinner on the table with a minimum of effort ... and recipe samples.

Leave Her at the Altar

Tim Burton is one of our favorite directors. The Nightmare Before Christmas is one of our favorite movies. However, Corpse Bride left us cold.

The animation was good. The voice talent was great. However, the story was extremely simple. Also, the look of the entire movie, both in the land of the living and the land of the dead was so dreary and sepia-toned that I almost fell asleep a few times. Tom said he had the same problem. As an additional irritation, the intended comic relief of a maggot (that lives inside the corpse bride's head) sounded a strident and obnoxious note that belonged in a different movie altogether.

It was not a bad movie and not a bad way to pass the afternoon. However with matinee tickets for four costing $22 my advice is to rent it later. Save your money for Serenity next weekend ... or for Wallace and Grommit the weekend after that (for more first rate animation).

HC rating: *** Good despite lack of flubber

Question The Second

As a follow-up, is there an Old Testament person who you particularly identify with? We're not picky about this ... "person" is either a character or an author. just any old person that resonates with you...

My answer is in the comments box.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Mass Thought - The Funny One

Phil 2:1-11

Brothers and sisters:

If there is any encouragement in Christ,
any solace in love,
any participation in the Spirit,
any compassion and mercy,
complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love,
united in heart, thinking one thing.
Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory;
rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves,
each looking out not for his own interests,
but also for those of others.

Have in you the same attitude
that is also in Christ Jesus,
Who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
which is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Kneeling at the altar rail, waiting for the priest to move down the line to me, I was looking at Jesus on the crucifix, pondering the second Mass reading. I thought of all the ways that Jesus showed us how to live in humility and, once again, was struck by the fact that he had covered every circumstance I'd find myself in.

"Wow, you were so perfect at being humble," I thought.

"Well, I am God," flashed the thought into my head.

Touche! Which pretty much explains why I was kind of giggling when the priest moved over and stood in front of me.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Update: Sharon's Baby

Y'all may remember this couple's choice of life for their unborn baby, despite the fact that she may only live an hour or two. I found out today that the situation has changed. The baby actually has a different genetic problem than the one originally diagnosed. She will live but will be severely retarded, maybe being able to progress only as much as being able to feed herself.

That doesn't change a thing for this couple's decision. They are firmly on the side of life. In fact, when I asked how Sharon was feeling right now, Joanette told me that one of Sharon's gifts is to have a hugely positive outlook no matter what the circumstances. And that is just what she and her husband need right now.

So let's continue to storm heaven for God to give this couple the graces they will need with their baby. And, I'm not at all shy about asking also for the miracle of perfect physical and mental health for this baby either. Let's go for the whole enchilada!

Further reading on the subject:
Power of the Powerless by Christopher De Vinck is the book that made me really, truly understand the sanctity of life even when it is under circumstances that common sense might dictate as providing no "qualify of life."

Also, ukok has a very powerful post prompted by the situation with Sharon's baby.

How to Unite a Divided Country

The Anchoress has the answer and I think it just might work. Go check it out. This is too, too funny.

Except that I demand bipartisan sexiness. The Dems are gonna have all the fun. Come to think of it, the Republican guys are gonna have the best time of all. And what are we conservative women left with? John Kerry? I think not!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Resource Spotlight


Check it out. This is a page that would be very cool to have as your home page. It is already set up with daily Mass readings, a saint of the day complete with quote, headlines from both Yahoo and Catholic news sources, weather, a Catechism reading and more. It even has a link to a podcast so you can listen to the Mass readings.

You also can personalize it with sites that you like to check a lot. Some blogs are already listed to make it easy to add their headlines to your home page (such as The Curt Jester, Kathy Shaidle, Bettnet, and more) but it is easy to add whatever links you please.

I definitely am going to be playing around with this in the days to come to get it just right.

Messing Around With God's Word

25 The Sermon on the Mount

Much of Jesus’ teaching was brought together when, seated on a hillside, he spoke to his disciples about life in the kingdom of God. He taught that true happiness comes from having the right attitudes. Those who are humble, concerned about the world’s sinfulness, gentle, devoted to goodness, merciful, single-minded in God’s service, and peace-lovers will be blessed by God. Those of his followers who are persecuted in this world should rejoice, because they will have a rich reward in the next.

Jesus emphasised that he had not come to destroy the moral demands of the Jewish Law but to fulfil them. He taught that it is not enough not to commit murder; the anger which can lead to murder must be set aside too. It is not enough not to commit adultery; lustful thoughts must be set aside too. It is not enough to keep only our solemn promises; we should always mean what we say.

The Jewish Law taught that retaliation should be proportionate to the harm done - an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth - but Jesus taught that we should love our enemies and that we should return good for evil, turning the other cheek when others attack us.

He went on to say that ostentatious piety and charitable giving are wrong; both piety and giving should be between ourselves and God. No-one can serve two masters; it is impossible to serve both God and money. God knows what people’s needs are and will supply them, in the same way as he provides food for birds and glorious clothing for flowers; we should not be anxious but should trust him. We should not judge others; for we shall be judged to the degree we judge. It is difficult to find the way to the kingdom of heaven and there will be those who will try to mislead us. We should assess others by the moral and spiritual quality of their lives.

He summarised the whole moral teaching of the Old Testament in the command to treat others as you would like them to treat you.

Jesus said that anyone who acts on his words is like a wise man who built his house on a rock. When storms came the house stood firm. But anyone who does not act on his words is like a man who built his house on sand. When storms came the house fell, and the ensuing devastation was great.

Matthew 5 - 7
That's a sample of the new 100 Minute Bible. UK publishers have managed to get the entire Bible down to 57 pages and say it can be read in 100 minutes.

They admit that they have sacrificed poetry for clarity. Well, isn't that so very modern of them. Who needs all those extra words and verbal images that the Holy Spirit inspired men to write over thousands of years? Pffft. We don't have time for that stuff any more.

Personally, I notice that this sample serves to remove me from Jesus' presence. No more is he speaking directly to me as he has done throughout the Gospels ("but I say to you..."). I have enough trouble getting the path clear to be in Jesus' presence already. I don't need this stripped-down, economy version of the Bible to get in my way too. No thanks.

Via LAMland and People of the Book.

Hurricane Rita Blogging

My prime two sources are:
  • Minivan Mom: also has a list of other Houston area bloggers who are on-line for the storm.

  • What Is and Never Should Be (aka Minivan Dad) who has been taking photos to record the desertion of Houston.
Gen X Revert also has a list of Texas bloggers up.

To My Fellow Dallasites ... GET A GRIP!

Reminder to all those living in our fair city: the hurricane is not coming here. There is no need to run to the gas station, wait in line for an hour to fill your tank, and then go on to strip the local grocery stores clean of water, batteries, and bread. (Did y'all hear the news anchors laughing at you? And deservedly so I might add...I saw those interviews where you were musing about laying in "emergency supplies.")

The most it is going to do is rain (and rain and rain) ... well, maybe some wind also.

So the next time you want to panic, resist. Then I will not have to go to three fuel-less gas stations in order to fill my tank with super premium at the fourth one (which is all that you greedy-guts left them).

Because, I actually was out of gas and envisioning being stranded by the side of the road because y'all are such idiots! (Lord have mercy on me and bless them...)

We now return you to our regularly scheduled programming.

St. Pio

Today is St. Pio's feast day. I just love this guy, an Italian priest who knew how to throw his head back and laugh, who would scold a famous actress for being shallow, who suffered the stigmata for over 50 years, who knew (and could see) his guardian angel from the time he was a tiny child, who could bilocate and read souls, who was one of the greatest saints in living memory ... and who I share a birthday with (although his was 70 years earlier - May 25).

I haven't had time to prepare a post about him but luckily TSO and Jean have done a splendid job, complete with links for further information. Be sure to drop by their blogs and see the take that each of them has on this great saint.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Houston Is Proving Why the New Orleans Levees Were So Important

You just can't evacuate a huge city in a short time. Tom's mother and his brother were in the car for 6 hours. They left at 4:00 a.m. to try to avoid any traffic possible. They finally gave up as traffic was at a dead stop.

It took them 10 minutes to drive home.

10 minutes.

Granted there was no traffic on the way back but still ... that is ridiculous.

Her house is not in a bad spot and hopefully it won't flood. We are more worried about an 80 year old lady with a history of heart problems possibly being without electricity for an extended period of time. (On the other hand, she might finally get warm enough as no one can sneak behind her back to turn the air conditioner down to ... oh ... 85).

UPDATE: Tom found traffic camera sites for Houston and also the state highway conditions. It isn't as if the state of Texas isn't trying to help people get out.
  • Interstate 45 has all lanes going north (maybe one frontage on one side is going south) from Houston almost to Corsicana (one hour south of Dallas). It is still packed.
  • Interstate 10 has all lanes going one way from Houston towards San Antonio until just outside of SA.
This kind of evacuation just isn't feasible in a short time. Period.

Here are the links he used:

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Hurricane Rita Tracker

The WSJ Storm Tracker is being updated continually. Via The Anchoress.

Big Bang or Big Bloom?

The Meaning-Full Universe by Benjamin Wiker is one of the best articles I've ever read arguing that the universe is not meaningless as many scientists claim. Don't miss it if you are at all interested in this subject (just to give you an idea ... Tom is not at all interested in this whole idea but when I told him some of Wiker's analogies he asked me to print it out for him to read). Via Antioch Abouna, which is a pretty interesting place to look around also.

Finding the Sacred in the Secular

Just can't get enough of the wood song by Indigo Girls. Playing it over and over and over ... except occasionally alternating with Jeremiah (lyrics for that will be coming later). (heads up to Dan M., I think you'd like this one)

the wood song Lyrics

the thin horizon of a plan is almost clear
my friends and i have had a tough time
bruising our brains hard up against change
all the old dogs and the magician

now i see we're in the boat in two by twos
only the heart that we have for a tool we could use
and the very close quarters are hard to get used to
love weighs the hull down with its weight

but the wood is tired and the wood is old
and we'll make it fine if the weather holds
but if the weather holds we'll have missed the point
that's where i need to go

no way construction of this tricky plan
was built by other than a greater hand
with a love that passes all out understanding
watching closely over the journey

yeah but what it takes to cross the great divide
seems more than all the courage i can muster up inside
although we get to have some answers when we reach the other side
the prize is always worth the rocky ride

but the wood is tired and the wood is old
and we'll make it fine if the weather holds
but if the weather holds we'll have missed the point
that's where i need to go

sometimes i ask to sneak a closer look
skip to the final chapter of the book
and then maybe steer us clear from some of the pain it took
to get us where we are this far yeah

but the question drowns in its futility
and even i have got to laugh at me
no one gets to miss the storm of what will be
just holding on for the ride

the wood is tired and the wood is old
we'll make it fine if the weather holds
but if the weather holds we'll have missed the point
that's where i need to go

Light Blogging Forecast

For the immediate future anyway. I'm way behind schedule because on the way to school the car started overheating so we pulled up with windows open and the heater on full blast. Called the tow truck. Waited for Tom. Got to gab for half an hour while waiting with a friend I've been neglecting ... so YAY, it is an ill wind that blows no good.

Currently: MOANING (big time) over messing up the lesser used second VCR and not getting "My Name is Earl" on tape. Thank goodness that Chris (works with us) got it on tape and will let us borrow it). Whew! I have always depended on the kindness of other VCR users!

Later ...
  • Some book reviews
  • Mrs. Darwin's FABULOUS Sausage Jambalaya (I'll steal hers and post on GG for my own reference)

Question, The First

Is there a New Testament person who you particularly identify with? I think about this a lot ... maybe because there are a couple of folks who I just "feel" when I am reading about them. My answer is in the comments box.

CLARIFICATION ... "person" is either a character or an author. just any old person that resonates with you...

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Meanwhile in the Kitchen

A fantastic recipe for Classic Lasagna and some hot links to stories about things like UK doctors calling for a ban on kitchen knives. All over at Glad Gastronome.

Going Nowhere ... Very ... Very ... Slowly ...

These are my "My Dinner with Andre" action figures and what you can do is re-enact that whole scene with the two guys having dinner. I've been waiting for-they're really rare- for the set from Das Boot.
Corky St. Claire (Waiting for Guffman)
I know what Corky really needs to round out his collection ... The Station Agent action figures. They can sit in chairs and on benches, occasionally take a stroll on train tracks, and, even better than My Dinner With Andre ... they'll hardly talk at all.

This movie was such a wasted opportunity. Stand out acting, fabulous location, great premise ... it even had trainspotting which Tom has been a fan of since spending time in England. The only thing missing was much of a story. We didn't need a lot. After all, we loved Lost in Translation and, heaven only knows, you aren't given much to go on there. Sometimes these very slow movies all come together at the end so we waited and waited and ... fizzle.

HC rating: ** More boring than church.

Oh, the Movies We've Seen

This is definitely a little movie but quite an enjoyable bit of fluff for all that. After his girl friend breaks up with him, an ad man decides that he needs to break out of his mold. He tries out for the local community theater production of Cyrano de Bergerac and winds up getting cast as the lead. He becomes more and more absorbed by acting while simultaneously being attracted to the actress playing Roxanne. At times this is determinedly quirky but as this is a love letter to acting and the theater that is forgivable. Look for Patty Duke playing twins. (This will only make sense to anyone who ever saw The Patty Duke Show). We didn't discover it until the credits were running and it doubled our fun.

HC Rating: *** Good despite lack of flubber

Hannah came home from a "shindig" raving about this movie, "It's so much better than The Matrix!" No one in our household is a huge fan of that movie so the bar for our expectations was not set all that high. This movie paid off in spades for style and, in our opinions, bettered The Matrix for plot.

Combining elements of Fahrenheit 451, THX-1138, 1984, and Brave New World, it is set in a post-WWIII world where humans dose themselves at regular intervals with drugs that repress emotions so no one will hate and, therefore, hurt others with war. However, naturally, the down side to this is that there are no positive emotions either. Christian Bale portrays Preston, a top-level "cleric" (a.k.a. fabulously trained killing machine) who finds and destroys "sense offenders" who have stopped taking their drugs and are indulging in books, art, music and the like. Preston accidentally misses a dose one day and finds out what he's been missing. His partner, Taye Diggs (yes, ladies, now the truth about why I raced to rent this movie is out!), is ambitious and on his trail as he tries to conceal his burgeoning emotions while still indulging in them. There is more to the plot (albeit not a lot more) but the overall message and ending was much more positive than in The Matrix and ... stylish fighting out the wazoo! 'Nuff said. Mind candy but quite a treat anyway.

HC Rating: **** Nine thumbs up!

Monday, September 19, 2005

Pope Approves Barring Gay Seminarians

Catholic World News reports:
Vatican, Sep. 19 ( - Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) has given his approval to a new Vatican policy document indicating that men with homosexual tendencies should not be ordained as Catholic priests.

The new document-- which was prepared by the Congregation for Catholic Education, in response to a request made by the late Pope John Paul II (bio - news) in 1994-- will be published soon. It will take the form of an "Instruction," signed by the prefect and secretary of the Congregation: Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski and Archbishop Michael Miller.

The text, which was approved by Pope Benedict at the end of August, says that homosexual men should not be admitted to seminaries even if they are celibate, because their condition suggests a serious personality disorder which detracts from their ability to serve as ministers.

Priests who have already been ordained, if they suffer from homosexual impulses, are strongly urged to renew their dedication to chastity, and a manner of life appropriate to the priesthood.

The Instruction does not represent a change in Church teaching or policy. Catholic leaders have consistently taught that homosexual men should not be ordained to the priesthood. Pope John XXIII approved a formal policy to that effect, which still remains in effect. However, during the 1970s and 1980s, that policy was widely ignored, particularly in North America. The resulting crisis in the priesthood-- in which one prominent American commentator observed that the priesthood was coming to be seen as a "gay" profession-- prompted Pope John Paul II to call for a new study on the question.

The Congregation for Catholic Education prepared the Instruction after soliciting advice from all of the world's bishops, from psychologists, and from moral theologians. A draft of the Instruction was then circulated among the Vatican dicasteries concerned with the issue, notably including the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The pending release of the Instruction, in the face of certain criticism from liberal forces in America and Western Europe, demonstrates the determination of the Vatican to improve the quality of priestly ministry, and to protect the Church from some of the scandals that have recently shaken the Catholic community-- and no doubt deterred many men from entering priestly training.

Informed sources in Rome indicate that the Instruction probably will be made public after the Synod of Bishops, which meets in Rome from October 2 through 23.
I will mention that one of the advantages of having an internet subscription to CWN is that you get email notices about news of this sort as well as access to the full story. It is well worth the money.

Don't Miss This

Are you suffering from mild to severe conscience pangs? Are there blockages in your moral life? Are you selfish and uncharitable? If you answer yes to one or more of these questions you might be suffering from hardening of the heart. This is an extremely serious condition and you must go to the right doctor immediately. If not correctly treated immediately upon death you might suffer something far worse than just heart burn, though burn is an apt metaphor....
The Divine Physician gives his credentials, outlines the benefits of coming to him, and introduces us to his associates ... even has a photo ... hilariously done but with the truth all over it by (who else?) The Curt Jester. Zip right over there and read the entire thing.

As God Is My Witness, I Will Never Do Gauge Swatches Again!

You know, I used to knit sweaters all the time, long ago in my pre-children days. I never once checked the gauge. I just knit and the patterns worked. So why when prepping for this poncho I decided to suddenly get all proper I don't know.

However, I did it and found (quelle horreur!) that I needed needles three sizes larger than called for. Whew! Good thing I checked the gauge. So, what with my fits of knitting passion alternating with fits of total neglect it took a year to get the darned thing done. But, hey, it is ready just in time for Rose to wear it when (and if) the cooler weather hits Dallas. Right?

I finished casting off last night and before weaving in the loose yarn ends had Rose try it on. It looked really great. Except, you guessed it, that two of her friends could have fit into it with her. Aaaaargh!!!

Luckily I liked knitting it and was considering making one for Hannah also if she deemed it fashionable enough. So I will not be beat by this stupid (although totally cool looking) poncho. We will be getting more yarn. I will use the called for needles and try not to have all those times of neglect. So let's see if I can get the time down to ... oh ... maybe six months.

Liberation from Nature

... the idea of liberation -- if we may indeed call freedom the common denominator of the modern mind and of our century -- has also fused very powerfully with feminist ideology. Woman is now considered the real victim of oppression. Therefore, the liberation of woman is the core of every activity undertaken for the sake of liberation. You might say that, here, political liberation theology has been superseded by an anthropological one. What is meant by liberation in this instance is not simply liberation from imposed societal roles but, ultimately, a liberation that aims to free man from his human biological determination. A distinction is now drawn between the biological phenomenon of sexuality and the forms it has taken in history, what one calls "gender." But the call for revolution against the whole historical shape of sexuality leads to a revolution against the biological givens as well. The idea that "nature" has something to say is no longer admissible; man is to have the liberty to remodel himself at will. He is to be free from all of the prior givens of his essence. He makes of himself what he wants, and only in this way is he really "free" and liberated. Behind this approach is a rebellion on man's part against the limits that he has as a biological being. In the end, it is a revolt against our creatureliness. Man is to be his own creator -- a modern, new edition of the immemorial attempt to be God, to be like God.
Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI)
in an interview with Pete Seewalt,

The Salt of the Earth

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Remember Zork?

(Just admitting you recognize the word "Zork" dates you.)

Here's a text-based adventure story about Hamlet. I have only played a bit of it but it sure brings back those memories. Now, I just have to figure out if there are any grues hiding behind the tapestries. Via Catholic and Enjoying It.

Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Numbers 21:4-9; Psalm 78:1-2,34-38; Philippians 2:6-11; John 3:13-17

I really love the connections that are made between this incident with Moses putting the serpent on the pole so that any who were bitten by the poisonous snakes could look upon it and be healed ... with Jesus telling Nicodemus "And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

This meditation from The Word Among Us makes the reason we should care about that connection even clearer so I am reprinting it in full here.
What a strange feast this is! We are so used to seeing crucifixes in our churches and homes that we may not have forgotten how shocking it is that Christians reverence the instrument used to kill our God. Would the relatives of a death row inmate display a picture of the electric chair in which he died?

And what a strange reading this is! God punishes complainers by sending poisonous snakes, relenting only after Moses pleaded with him. Then, God tells Moses to erect a remedy very much like the idols of their pagan neighbors!

The poisonous serpents that wreaked such havoc among the people are a good symbol for the people’s sin. They see no harm in complaining against Moses. They have no idea how poisonous their negative attitude is. But God knows that they’re really rebelling against him—the One who liberated them from their enemies, led them through the Red Sea, and fed them in the wilderness.

By mounting the serpent on a pole, Moses forced them to see their sin for what it was: rebellion that poisons their life as God’s chosen people. God wanted to teach and purify them, not to destroy them. So he made it possible that as soon as they acknowledged their sin, they were already looking at his merciful means of forgiveness.

When we gaze upon the cross, we also see our sins. Ours is the disrespect that strips the dignity of those who disagree with us. Ours is the indifference that condemns others to suffering by denying them meaningful work at a living wage. Ours is the stubbornness that silences the voices of contemporary prophets.

But we also see something else: God’s remedy for our sin. We see the outstretched arms of the one whose love is undying and unconditional, the one who forgives his enemies and promises paradise to all who repent. So the cross is a fitting symbol for Christians. Like a wedding ring, it reminds us of our Beloved’s fidelity. Like a child’s handprint or an ancestor’s heirloom, it makes present the one who has passed from our physical sight. Let’s exalt the cross today in our prayer!

“Father, thank you for providing the only remedy for our sins. Help me to acknowledge my need for you and so experience the fullness of your redemption.”

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

I Never Promised You a Rose Garden

The purpose of our lives in this world is not comfort and security but training; not fulfillment but preparation. The world is a lousy home, but a good gymnasium. It's like an uphill bowling alley. The point is not to succeed in knocking down all the pins but to train our muscles. We misunderstand the point of this world if we expect it to be happy...

We cannot know what God's purpose is in each event, each detail. But we can know that every event, each detail, is part of God's purpose. Everything is grace. Job's sores were grace. Job's abandonment was grace. Jesus' abandonment ("My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?") was grace. Our abandonment is also grace.

Our attitude toward that fact should not be a passive resignation, because our activity too is part of that grace and divine plan and purpose. Our active struggle against suffering and every form of evil -- physical, psychological, and spiritual -- is part of God's will for us and part of our growth and learning. But at the same time as we say no to suffering, death, disease, and diminishment, we also say yes to God's hand behind it, and to God's wise and loving plan that includes in its plot both our sufferings and our efforts to conquer them...
Lessons from the saints about suffering
by Peter Kreeft (found at Thunderstruck)
Between Hurricane Katrina and the death of baby Susan Torres I've had various questions put to me about good and evil, suffering and joy, basically about the human condition. Go read the entire article. Kreeft says it so much better than I can. After all, a lot of what I know I learned from reading his work. Via LAMland.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Always Remember

Four years seems like a long time ago.

Until you watch this ... all the way through.

Then the tears fall and it is as if it happened yesterday.

11 September 2001
Dedicated to the men, women and children who lost their lives;
those brave people who gave their lives,
and the Heroes that responded to the emergency.

I will never forget.

They Remember Sept. 11

How I Remember It - a beautiful and moving tribute by Minivan Mom.

"I was getting ready to leave for work..." - The Balance Sheet

"It was the perfect morning for me, until I found a headline at the Drudge Report. The North Tower had been hit by a plane..." - Newton at Oh How I Love Jesus.

A short photo essay about Sept. 11 and what it has led to by Patrick Ruffini. Via Suitable for Mixed Company.

The Heroes of September 11, 2001 - How We Can Honor Them by Catholic Fire.

9/11 Remembered by Lost in the Cosmos features a link to Bishop Haverland's Pastoral Letter the day after the attacks.

“The pictures of airplanes flying into buildings, fires burning, huge structures collapsing, have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness, and a quiet, unyielding anger. These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed; our country is strong.

A great people has been moved to defend a great nation. Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shattered steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.” – President George W. Bush, September 11, 2001 Address to the Nation
Sept. 11 Links at Polipundit posted by Lori Byrd.

"One of the few calls I did take required an interpreter so I got on the line to AT&T’s translation service and my call was taken by a lady in the Dominican Republic. As soon as she heard my American voice, she cried out to me, “Oh my God, where are you? Are you okay? We have all been so worried.” Confessions of a Wayward Catholic.

September 11 Remembered, Part One and Part Two from Sigmund, Karl and Alfred. Not your average remembrance but definitely worth reading as it is very true.

Never, Never Forget - Michelle Malkin's incomparable roundup.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Photo Diary From Inside New Orleans

This amazing photo diary was kept by a New Orleans resident from before Katrina until he evacuated. There are a lot of photos but it is really worth going through and reading his commentary. Most interesting to me were the photos of the statue of Jesus standing behind the St. Louis cathedral (I hadn't seen any that showed just how many trees fell before and how amazing it was that the statue was left standing), his comments about the media, and his adventure once they decided they had to evacuate. Via Bettnet.

One of the Most Touching Things I've Read

TAJI, Iraq, Sept. 9, 2005 — Iraqi soldiers serving at Taji military base collected 1,000,000 Iraqi dinars for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Iraqi Col. Abbas Fadhil, Iraqi base commander, presented the money to U.S. Col. Paul D. Linkenhoker, Taji Coalition base commander, at a Sept. 5 staff meeting.

“We are all brothers,” said Abbas. “When one suffers tragedy, we all suffer their pain.”

The amount of money is small in American dollars - roughly $680 - but it represents a huge act of compassion from Iraqi soldiers to their American counterparts, said U.S. Army Maj. Michael Goyne.
Via In Iraq for 365.

Friday, September 9, 2005

When MIT Came Knocking ...

Hi Julie,

I am a researcher at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I am working on an 'in-depth interviews' project with people of all ages from different communities across the country, and their relationship with technology.

I am very much interested to talk with you about your blog. I'm in Dallas this week. For your convenience I'm including a link to the school and to my research center.
Now there's an email you don't get every day. Tom and I checked it out and Grace really was from MIT, working on her dissertation, and interviewing bloggers around the country.

So, what the heck. Why not give it a whirl? Last Friday Grace came to our office and later to our home and taped all about blogging, Julie D. style. I think I now have an inkling of what it might be like to be the subject of a documentary. She'd ask questions and we'd talk about my answer some. Then I'd give the answer again for the camera, always watching out of the corner of my eye for the "cut" sign that I'd talked enough and also trying to keep in mind the original question.

The funniest thing.
(And I wasn't even there for it.) Grace filmed me walking out of my office to my car and driving away. On the way I got some very curious looks as you can imagine with my one person entourage dogging my steps with her camera. I told a couple of men by the door, "It makes me look important, doesn't it?"

Grace said that on the way back in, these two men stopped her and said, "Who was that?"

"What?" said Grace. "You didn't recognize her? That's Julie D. I thought everyone knew her."

"Oh, yes, of course," the men nodded wisely.


Thought provoking things.
Did I think that blogging was an inherently anti-social activity given that you are actually alone when you are communicating with your "on-line community?" No, I don't (though I could tell that Grace didn't agree and we discussed this at length). Although more people can join in, I equate blogging to letter writing. Yes, you can use to avoid society if you want, but that applies to a whole lotta activities. (that is the short answer...)

How is Julie D. different than me? Truth to tell, I never thought of Julie D. as being a different persona but she's a bit nicer than I am. While I may rant and rave to my family while working out an issue, Julie D. tends to keep her cool better (the public versus private life thing).

Most surreal thing.
Filming me typing on the blog in my office while I played a song by The Killers. I am not sure I will ever hear that song again without thinking of Grace circling me, zooming in close on the keyboard, etc. It's really hard to just keep on doing what you're doing without looking at that camera.

The "at home" thing.
Grace filmed us playing Pounce (a great card game that I have been meaning to fill y'all in on for a long time). Good thing we weren't playing for points because she also was talking to Tom and the girls about if they read the blog (which they do), am I a social person (this got a loud laugh and many stories about how much I talk to everyone), why Rose would never want to live anywhere but Texas (does this need explaining? I didn't think so.).

An enlightening thing.
Grace said that there was a blogging couple in Vermont who had much the same attitudes that I did about blogging not being an anti-social activity. What makes that interesting at all was that she said, "they're about as different from you as they could be" (translation: liberal, Democrat, I'm guessing "not Catholic", fill in the blanks from there). That was very reassuring on a basic level. We may believe in totally different methods to get to our goals but that people with such a different mindset had the same basic practicality and common sense gave me a sense of hope for our polarized country (yes, yes, patting myself on the back so hard does hurt my arm some).

The unexpected thing.
After filming, Grace started asking about how I got to be such a "woman of faith" (I really felt as if I should be wearing a long shapeless black dress whenever she said that). So, well, y'all know me by now right? (ahem ... HAPPY CATHOLIC!) That kind of question just leads to faith sharing and more faith sharing. I must not have scared her too badly because we wound up having rather a heart to heart over various large issues of belief.

The final thing.
It was fun. And I liked Grace. If you're reading this ... stay in touch!

Hurray for Bollywood

Director Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham) gives Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen the Bollywood treatment. Bright colors, song and dance breaking out at a moment's notice, romantic entanglements and humorous characters abound. Chanda manages to stay close to the basic story, even to the point of keeping the sisters' names similar (Maya instead of Mary, etc.). It was handy that both Hannah and Rose had read the book recently (I hate to think how many years it has been since I cracked the covers of that book) so they had a great time pointing out when the story deviated (less often than you'd think).

It is a lighthearted piece of fluff that will entertain once time through well enough. I don't think I'd care about seeing it again although it did make me want to rent Monsoon Wedding for another viewing. If you liked Bride & Prejudice at all, do give Monsoon Wedding a try if you haven't seen it. It is a more complex and authentic view of India and Bollywood. Or, for Austen fans, you can look for the next Indian movie going on my list to try, I Have Found It, an adapted version of Sense and Sensibility.

Thursday, September 8, 2005

Happy Birthday Mary!

This is one I know my non-Catholic friends will have a little trouble with! "Why," they will ask, "does the Catholic Calendar include a day commemorating the Nativity of Mary? It's not like anyone knows what her real birthday was! And she's not Jesus, so why do this?"

All true. She is not Jesus. We do not know the real date of her birth.

We don't actually know the date of Jesus' birth either, come to that.

So, why bother?
I have not had time to write anything about this Feast of the Nativity of Mary. Thank goodness The Anchoress did ... and, naturally, much better than I would have anyway. She has a lovely and eloquent answer to that question that you really should go read.

If I was totally on top of things I'd be serving a birthday cake for Mary today ... good thing she's an understanding mother who knows that I've had too many back-to-school parents' night things coming up to fit in cake baking. So I will just wish her Happy Birthday and be thankful that she said, "Yes" to God for us all.

We Are More Than the Sum of Our Bumper Stickers

This post has been making the rounds.
I did not stop to help a * supporter today.

I had no idea how deeply my hate for that man ran. My lack of an interaction, with a * supporter is still haunting me a couple of hours later.

I was on my home and was on the ramp getting off the highway. I saw a mini-van on the side of the road. There was a lady standing next to the van and in her arms she held her child. I can only assume her mini-van had broken down. I don't know, perhaps with so many gad stations being out of gas, she had also run out. I slowed down and started to pull over to offer her a ride. At the very last second I noticed a "W" sticker on the back of her vehicle and I sped up and drove off.

I feel really bad as a human being. That child is not responsible for their parent's belief system. They are innocent and do not deserve to be out in the heat. (It is warm but not so bad that they would even break a sweat) I try not to punish people for what they believe.

On the other hand, so many hateful thoughts went through my head. I wondered how a person could see what was going on in NO and still have one of those awful stickers on their car. How could they support an awful excuse for a human being that has let our country down and is letting Americans die after they have made it through the storm? How can someone be so blind and so stupid?

I thought that if she loves * so much, maybe he would come along and help her the same way he is rescuing all of those poor people in the weather stricken part of our country. Let's see what her hero can do for her.

I never did go back. I was so upset with that sticker and with the fact that someone would support an idiot who is so clearly running our country into the ground.

So why am I writing this? It is not to boast, I really feel bad about passing this child and not picking up their mother. Perhaps it is for a catharsis of sorts? That would be an educated guess. I suppose it is because I feel conflicted and I am writing this to try and sort through what I am feeling. There are two emotional sides, for me, on this incident and neither seems completely right or wrong to me. Even writing this, I am still not able to work through what happened. I feel like I am floating between right and wrong and am unable to grab either side.

Thanks for listening.

Of course this woman's honesty has been applauded by some people (notably in her comments boxes) and condemned by others (notably in various conservative venues).

I was fascinated by her honesty and, of course, appalled that we have become so polarized that we would be judged worthy by our bumper stickers. Interestingly "Bush" has become such a dirty word that she could not bring herself to type it out. This makes me think of something that Hannah's history teacher told the class. He said that people who personally hate Bush are a little wacky because they don't know him personally at all and the teacher was pretty sure that Bush didn't know these people. Good point. How often do we identify the policies with the person and transfer that dislike onto someone who (most likely) is doing the best they can? (Worth reflecting on for those of us who weren't too fond of Bill Clinton.)

Looking further into it and reading through the comments, I came across her further thoughts on the subject.
In fact after actually being able to write it out and think it over, I was 100% wrong and would take it all back if I could. In fact my response, to the first person who answered my post, was that I did wrong and that I will be picking up a person no matter who it is next time. That does fall within reason - I may offer to call the police for a male who is stranded.

I am not someone who usually stops to think about something before helping someone. I just talked to my husband about taking in people from NO who needed help. There were no strings attached as to how people voted, etc.... He did feel uncomfortable since we have two small children so we have donated money and I have contacted someone I know, from NO, to offer any assistance we can give to them or their family.
Good for her. That's an important step forward in remembering that if we define ourselves solely by our political parties then we are limiting ourselves into being less than human. We must all remember that we are human beings in this together. As for the people responding who are telling her that she was right in the first place, well, they have such a narrow view of life that I feel nothing but pity for them. Lord have mercy on me for the times I have forgotten the big picture ... and bless them.

Tuesday, September 6, 2005

Hands of Christ: Katrina Relief

Bloggers are taking time to encourage their readers to contribute to a relief agency of their choice for victims of Hurricane Katrina.
  1. Pick a charity. (My favorite relief charity is The Salvation Army but there are over 200 charities listed.)
  2. Make a donation, by phone, by mail, or by internet.
  3. Go to this page and log your contribution.
Here is Instapundit's round up page and the TTLB Katrina Relief page where you can see the blog leader board.

FINAL NUMBERS (as of 1:40 p.m.)
$ 1,199,620 was donated through the blogburst of 1,805 blogs from 34 countries. OVER A MILLION DOLLARS! Wow, I am knocked out here.

Happy Catholic readers contributed $1,230! I couldn't believe it when I read that number ... $1,220! You guys ROCK!


This is His Church...

From a certain point on you waged a campaign against the theologians and also reacted with increasing severity to internal theological criticism. One of your main sayings is: "This is His Church and not a laboratory for theologians."

I wouldn't want to battle theologians, because then I would, after all, be fighting against myself. Theology is a very important and noble craft, and the theologian's activity is very important. Criticism and being critical is also part of that. What I did campaign against is a theology that loses its criteria and thus no longer performs its service rightly. Just what we were saying: We are servants and don't ourselves determine what the Church is. This is the decisive point for me. However, this expression, "it is his Church and not ours," is really a fork in the road for me; to acknowledge that we do not excognitate what the Church is but that we believe that He wants her and that we should try to recognize what He wants with her and place ourselves in this service.
Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI)
in an interview with Pete Seewalt,

The Salt of the Earth

Monday, September 5, 2005

Romantic Tips

Kid Stuff
Rediscover and nurture the "child" inside of you. It's the key to your creativity, spontaneity, sense of wonder and joy.

When's the last time you watched cloud formations? Take your lover for a walk in a field. Find an unobstructed view. Flop down on a hilltop. What do you see in the clouds? What do you imagine?

Surprise her with a little "Trinket Gift" hidden inside a McDonald's Big Mac container.
Surprise him by hiding a favorite stuffed animal inside his gym bag.

Seventy-eight percent of all women love stuffed animals.
[Note: I am not one of that 78 percent.]

Most men love gadgets, electronic stuff or tools ... "boys' toys." Men never really grow up -- our toys simply get more expensive.

Get a favorite toy from his childhood: A toy, book, report card or picture from the wall. (Call his parents; they'll love to be a part of this idea.) Wrap it up and include a touching note.

How Can We Love As God Loves?

Jesus taught that as God loves us, so too are we to love him -- and one another. How is this possible? Some days it seems hard enough to love ourselves, let alone other people -- or even God -- wholeheartedly! But God knows how he created us. He hasn't given us an impossible mission. How we do it is to ask him to fill our hearts with his love. Then, that love will start flowing back to him in praise and out to others in acceptance, forgiveness, and service...

We have only to ask. No special prayers are necessary. Simple words, spoken quietly, even silently, are sufficient. It's that easy, because God is so good.

Saturday, September 3, 2005

If You're Not Reading the Interdictor, You Don't Really Have the Big Picture About NOLA

The Riverwalk may be on fire (shopping mall at the river at end of CBD/Quarter). Everytime we talk to the police, we hear about sniper fire at the fire scenes. I cannot confirm that there is any. This is all hearsay, but it's coming from the police. The police we talk to, while consistent about claiming there is sniper fire, are conflicted about whether it's police sniper fire trying to take out arsonists or criminal sniper fire trying to take out police and fire rescue teams. Again, this is rumor for now, but we're hearing a lot of this rumor.

Now this is something that requires tact, and I do not have much experience with reporting, but I think the world needs to know how overwhelmed the police are out here: I have reports from 3 different police sources that 2 police officers have committed suicide. Out of respect for their families, I will not name them or go into detail. Truly tragic how bad things are. I sincerely hope I did the right thing in reporting this.
Read the ongoing journal of The Interdictor.

Also, the owner of Intercosmos (Interdictor's employer) sends a plea for working space to use until New Orleans is rebuilt. Read about it here.

Friday, September 2, 2005

Katrina Info and Links

I will leave this post at the top of the page for a while.
Scroll down to see any new items.

These are some of my favorite links for the scoop on everything going on with the aftermath of the hurricane.

  • Terry Teachout's page
    People who are blogging from the scene of various places the hurricane hit. Some were blogging by Blackberry after their power went out during the hurricane.
  • New Orleans Times-Picayune live blog
    They have impressed everyone in the country with their excellent live-blogging. They are continuing and posting messages from evacuees and those looking for them.
  • Michelle Malkin
    She has about four posts that are constantly being updated covering relief efforts and all sorts of news.
  • Kathryn Cramer
    Really thorough posting on the overall situation. Worth reading through her posts.
    The Interdictor
    Live-blogging from the middle of New Orleans with an internet connection (he works for an ISP), food, water, firearms and a diesel generator. Via The Donegal Express.
  • Wikipedia's Katrina New Orleans page
    An excellent page showing the progression of the hurricane and aftermath in New Orleans and explaining the ongoing process. (Keep in mind that Wikipedia is written and edited by the public but this page does seem very accurate.) Some good external links are at the bottom of the page.

Thursday, September 1, 2005

More Katrina Info

The extent of the disaster can be seen in the fact that Dallas is about 9 hours from New Orleans on a good driving day and our hotels and emergency shelters are housing refugees from the hurricane's devastation. Houston is bearing the brunt but DFW is opening area arenas for refugees also.

Texas has declared a month's moratorium on having to produce any records for refugee children so they can go to school in the meantime. Some children started attending Texas schools today.

  • Children's socks
  • Similac with iron
  • tshirts
  • towels
  • medicine for children (cough syrup)
  • underclothing: male, female, children
  • soap
  • toothpaste
  • toothbrushes
  • coloring books/crayons
  • pillows
  • blankets
  • diaper wipes
  • diapers
  • deodorant
  • work gloves
  • rubber gloves
  • flashlights and batteries
  • insect repellant
These items need to be dropped off at 9216 Harry Hines Blvd. and Shore Crest on Mon-Sat: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. or Sun 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Bishop Lynch has also opened its doors to any Catholic high school student from the New Orleans or Biloxi area. At least four families have already contacted the school, and their children will be integrated into classes until such time they can return to their homes. If you know of a family in need, please have them contact our Admissions Director, Ann Martin via the Bishop Lynch website at

Penni at martha, martha is having a fundraiser for Fish and Crystal. She also has a PayPal donation fund set up in her sidebar for those who are their friends but can't attend (which would be a whole lot of us blogging buddies!). If you know them and want to help drop by and check it out.

Ruining Yet Another of Rose's Favorite Songs

This caught my ear a few days ago in song shuffle. It's my new favorite (until the next one comes along, of course). For someone who is so word oriented I think it is funny that I listen to songs for their sound for a long time before paying attention to most of the words.

Last night I suddenly really listened and was shocked to find a deeper meaning than I thought. See what y'all think but this might be the coolest "sacred found in the secular" song to come along yet. (Poor Rose. She hates it when I do that. "Why do you have to kill everything I love?")
"All These Things That I've Done"
(by The Killers)

When there's nowhere else to run
Is there room for one more son
One more son
If you can hold on
If you can hold on, hold on
I wanna stand up, I wanna let go
You know, you know - no you don't, you don't
I wanna shine on in the hearts of men
I want a meaning from the back of my broken hand

Another head aches, another heart breaks
I am so much older than I can take
And my affection, well it comes and goes
I need direction to perfection, no no no no

Help me out
Yeah, you know you got to help me out
Yeah, oh don't you put me on the back burner
You know you got to help me out

And when there's nowhere else to run
Is there room for one more son
These changes ain't changing me
The cold-hearted boy I used to be

Yeah, you know you got to help me out
Yeah, oh don't you put me on the back burner
You know you got to help me out
You're gonna bring yourself down
Yeah, you're gonna bring yourself down
Yeah, you're gonna bring yourself down

I got soul, but I'm not a soldier
I got soul, but I'm not a soldier

Yeah, you know you got to help me out
Yeah, oh don't you put me on the back burner
You know you got to help me out
You're gonna bring yourself down
You're gonna bring yourself down
Yeah, oh don't you put me on the back burner
Yeah, you're gonna bring yourself down

Over and in, last call for sin
While everyone's lost, the battle is won
With all these things that I've done
All these things that I've done
If you can hold on
If you can hold on

AZ Lyrics