Thursday, August 31, 2006

Blog Design By ...

... the oh so fabulous, generous and talented Laura! Give her a hand folks ... isn't she fantastic?

Although the color changes showing up now are due to my tinkering and not Laura's design ... all shall be resolved in due time.

Also, as always when I change templates, Haloscan code is giving me fits ... comments will be back on eventually but for now I must run. Cheers, y'all!

Memoirs and the Family Tree

I mentioned my great-grandfather the other day.

A recap which probably only family members will care about: Charles J. Finger was famous in his own day, although that fame hasn't extended to the present day. My grandmother worshipped his memory and I heard countless stories about author Charles J. Finger. My grandmother told me that he was a regular correspondent with Jules Verne (or was it H.G. Wells?) and would write letters at a big table which my mother inherited and that stands in her living room today.

Looking around I was surprised to see that he has a mention in Wikipedia and the Encyclopedia Britannica (though I didn't subscribe to read the whole article). There's even a park named after him though that photo makes it look more like a field. Well, knock me over with a feather. Grandmama would be so proud.

This prompted my mother to reminisce about her days with her grandfather. I loved these memories of a little girl for her grandfather and of time spent in the country back then.
In reference to your entry about Charles J. Finger; I had no idea that he was so interestingly involved both in the literary and the down to earth business of making a living.

He was my grandfather, and I remember him as delightfully indulgent of a little girl. There was one afternoon when he encouraged me to look for a four leaf clover, and after finally inding one we went into the house and found another surprise: books! I can remember stealing up the lane to his separate office, which also included a pool table room where I played with the balls. I wasn't supposed to go up there and interrupt him, but of course I did. He died when I was seven years old, but his personal impact must have been immense because I remember him vividly (I'm 72), he was definitely a Leo personality although born in December.

The house was surrounded on two sides by what were known as sleeping porches, screened, and comfortable in Arkansas's hot summers. I remember having an outhouse to go to, and a freestanding "shower house" with cold sulpher water. There was also a wash house, which had its own walled yard (filled with cornflowers) for drying clothes. Neighboring ladies did the wash, and I seem to remember It having a hot water boiler. Lockers on the front screened porch of the house held wood for the cookstove on which water was heated, and I suppose for winter warmth. There was a stove in the middle of the house which heated some rooms; don't remember what the heat source was.

As long as I have started, I might tell more ... just because it's a bygone era. Cows were milked and the milk left to stand in wide pans on another screened porch, after which cream was skimmed for butter. My first food memory is of oatmeal, in an island of cream and topped with sugar.
My grandmother made wonderful plum jelly, quite tart, from wild plums that grew on the farm.

I never fell down a well, although often warned to stay away; they were just irresistable open holes in the ground, often with unfortunate rabbits floating there in.

There was a creek to wander along, always accompanied by one of the family Airdales. Along one side were shale banks where you could sit at the top and slither down on the seat of your pants for an exciting ride.

There were lots of freestanding stone buildings: my grandfather's office, my uncle Charlie's chicken house, the wash house, the shower, and my artist aunt Helen's studio with its two rooms, one of which was for serious drawing and the other of props for her Ozark themes( stone fireplace, milk churn, etc. )The studio and the house both looked west for beautiful sunsets. Apparently there was lots of cheap labor, and of course lots of stone. And speaking of milk churns, we did ours in a glass job where you could see the tiny flecks of butter emerging from the milk until it got too hard to crank.

A small flock of sheep were nutured here; I can still remember the way they smelled (hello... wet wool) as well as the bran they were fed. Once the ram butted me, and my grandfather bapped him on the head with a long pruning tool. And once I took Beverly, a small child, into the sheep lot, where everyone said she could have been trampled and killed. Also, speaking of Beverly, this was the farm where we were walking down the lane and she had to go to the bathroom, so I told her to go home. Unfortunately she walked by the entrance ... no one could find her ... a party was dispatched to see if she had fallen into the outhouse. Eventually an old gent who lived up the hill brought her home, and I hope he was very liberally tipped. The road was suspect, because at the top was a slaughterhouse, so trucks seemed to roar up and down.

I can remember Sunday afternoons when people would just show up at friends' houses and yell "Yoo-hoo". Then they would have to produce iced tea and chat. Oh, and what a yummy memory is the church fest where we had chocolate cake and ate it sitting on a swinging bridge over a creek.

Is this sounding just too Laura Ingalls Wilder? Well, maybe this was a step between her culture and and the time when you were born.

What a lot of memories! Maybe boring to you, but something you might like to know about my childhood years in Arkansas. Just think, I actually lived with these years ... no computers ... no hot water heaters ... and absolutely no air conditioning anywhere. There was running water.

The property was actually called "Gayeta Lodge", which I was always told meant "old soldiers' home".

What I Have "Failed to Do"

Idleness is a constant temptation to our human nature. Hitting the snooze button one more time, skipping or shortening our prayer, sitting back and letting others wait on us, not noticing what needs to be done, being content with a shoddy job, finishing what we prefer to do rather than being on time for a commitment, saying no to another’s pressing need—we all face temptations like this every day.
Read more at Word Among Us
This is the kind of thing that is my besetting sin ... literally! I struggle with it all day long. Which makes it rather frustrating if I go to confession and get a priest who tells me, "It's simple. Just set a schedule for yourself and stick to it." Well duh! Problem being that I have trouble with it!

However, even if I feel less than satisfied with the priest's advice, I still receive grace to give me extra strength to fight off these and other temptations and shortcomings, and absolution for all the times that I have failed and did not do what I should have.

Can y'all tell I'm working up toward going to confession soon?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Terrorists Are Getting Pretty Smart!

We're doomed!
Thanks to my brother for this one!
(Somehow I knew I should have put this caveat before receiving protests ... my brother is a retired soldier who has served in many areas including several assignments to Iraq and Afghanistan. It was making the rounds of his buddies who ... and this is only a guess ... I'd bet are in the military also.)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Novena to St. Michael, The Archangel: Day One

I am saying this for a friend's special intention.

Saint Michael the Archangel, loyal champion of God and His people,
I turn to you with confidence and seek your powerful intercession.
For the love of God, Who made you so glorious in grace and power,
and for the love of the Mother of Jesus, the Queen of the Angels,
be pleased to hear my prayer.

You know the value of my soul in the eyes of God.
May no stain of evil ever disfigure its beauty.
Help me to conquer the evil spirit who tempts me.
I desire to imitate your loyalty to God and Holy Mother Church
and your great love for God and people.
And since you are God’s messenger for the care of His people,
I entrust to you this special request:

(Mention your request).

Saint Michael, since you are, by the Will of the Creator,
the powerful intercessor of Christians,
I have great confidence in your prayers.
I earnestly trust that if it is God’s holy will my petition will be greated.

Pray for me, Saint Michael, and also for those I love.
Protect us in all dangers of body and soul.
Help us in our daily needs.
Through your powerful intercession,
may we live a holy life,
die a happy death, and reach heaven
where we may praise and love God with you forever.

Shine Your Light on Me, O Lord

Herod was the one who had John the Baptist arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married.

John had said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”

Herodias harbored a grudge against him and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so. Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man, and kept him in custody. When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him.

She had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday, gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee. Herodias’ own daughter came in and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests.

The king said to the girl, “Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you.” He even swore many things to her, “I will grant you whatever you ask of me, even to half of my kingdom.”

She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?”

She replied, “The head of John the Baptist.”

The girl hurried back to the king’s presence and made her request, “I want you to give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist.”

The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her. So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head. He went off and beheaded him in the prison. He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl. The girl in turn gave it to her mother.

When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.
Mk 6:17-29
It's interesting that today is the Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist who, as scripture makes abundantly clear, was killed for speaking the truth, shining God's light into the dark, hidden corners of powerful people's lives.

For me, this comes in conjunction with week 6 of the Online Retreat, which directs us to look at our lives to find our sins, the things that keep us from God ... and to do it while asking for God's grace. This makes it clear that we can't do it alone. We need God's help to look at ourselves straight, clearly, without hiding from the truth. We have to ask Jesus to shine his light on us to see what is true.

I look at Herod, who doesn't know quite what to make of John but who is intrigued. Possibly if he had been able to stand up to Herodias, been less worried about his reputation, he would have become a disciple of John and eventually Jesus.

I look at Herodias, who knows perfectly well what she has done wrong but is willing to kill, and involve any number of others including her own daughter, in order to not have to face her wrongdoings.

I look at Herodias' daughter, who is so unable to tell right from wrong that she has no problem asking for the death of someone at her mother's behest.

Last, but surely not least, I look at John who cares not for the consequences but continues to do what is right even at the ultimate cost to himself.

Can I be like John who is willing to let the light shine on and through him? Perhaps, with God's grace, I can ... surely, I must at least strive for it.
... Herod was attracted to your words, yet he was unwilling to let them pierce his heart. How often do we do the same? Because he feared ridicule from his guests, Herod put you to death, even though he considered you a “righteous and holy man.” And don’t we ourselves remain silent sometimes, allowing others to pay the price for our lack of courage?

You heralded with boldness that Christ was the Lamb of God. You were fearless in calling Herod to conversion and a change of life (Mark 6:17-18). Please intercede for us, too, when we would rather do anything but speak the truth. Pray that we might have the conviction to be loyal witnesses for Christ in every area of our lives. So often we need a push to speak out! Please ask Jesus to give us the words to say, as well as the wisdom to know when to speak them...

Monday, August 28, 2006

I don't even like Family Guy ...

... but this cracked me up.

Edge of the Sea ... a Russian Mission

I still lament the loss of Mary Herboth's wonderful blog and count myself lucky to be on her email list. She sends this request which I, in turn, present to you for consideration. Here is the blog for the mission she writes about.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I'm writing to you today to share a simple story of a missionary priest in Russia and to ask for your help. I need the help of fellow Catholics that may be willing to help out a friend in need. I have a friend, Fr. John Gibbons, who is a Franciscan missionary priest in Russia who needs our generosity.

Fr. John is living east of Siberia and is the only priest within a hundred miles. In fact, He is one of only a few Catholic priests in Russia at all. His work is not glamorous. He does not work with orphans or any other group that would invoke our deepest sympathies. He is a humble parish priest doing what parish priests are doing all around the world every day: he says Mass, hears confession, and shares in the life of those he pastors. The only difference is that he is doing it in place where priests were forbidden for so long that the Catholic faith was almost destroyed. Now he is starting again to answer the call of the Lord to preach and to baptize to the ends of the earth.

He arrived in Russia three years ago but has been in his parish for one year. His rectory is very small and very poor - so poor, in fact, that I feel that it is a shame to see our priests - or any human being - living in such conditions. He has no indoor plumbing, he uses an outhouse, gets water a block away, and he chops wood for heat. This is especially a sacrifice in a place where the temperature is below zero six months of the year. He lives like this to be "in solidarity" with the people who live in the same impoverished conditions. Our donations are not likely to change these things. What we give will help to bring Christ to them.

Fr. John is there to bring the Gospel to a people who were denied the Goodnews for many years. He is there to build a church - following the call of St. Francis - he is the prime example of "the missionary" that John Paul II spoke about in his letter on the Missionary life, "The special vocation of missionaries "for life" the model of the Church's missionary commitment, which always stands in need of radical and total self-giving, of new and bold endeavors."

Hearing about Fr. John is a grace for us too. It gives us a concrete way to contribute to the missionary Church, "...individual believers extend the reach of their charity and show concern for those both far and near. They pray for the missions and missionary vocations. They help missionaries and follow their work with interest."(JPII, RM)

Fr. John is in the United States right now to renew his visa and to raise awareness of the mission Church in Russia. He is here "to beg", as he says, "like a good Franciscan." When I heard the story of my long-time friend and saw the photos of his life I was moved to help. I made a decision to do two things 1) to share his story and 2) to simple ask every Catholic that I know to offer $10 for this mission.

$10 is not much. We spend that much at Starbucks or McDonalds or without even thinking about it. However, $10 for Fr. John's Mission would be much better spent. If enough people respond we can offer Fr. John a gift that will make a difference to his 50 parishioners. Just think, if we raise $5000 that will be $100 per person. With that Fr. John can buy bibles, catechisms, books, food, medicine or anything that his mission needs. Furthermore, I know that he can count on a few prayers to go with the donation. He says that the prayers are far more important because through prayer all his needs are met.

What About American Folk Songs?

About a week or so ago, I misheard Hannah. I can't remember what she really said, but what I thought she said was "goober peas." Which almost worked because we were talking about the Civil War but not quite.

After the gales of laugher died down, Rose asked why goober peas would make me think of the Civil War. Because of the song, of course. What song? Huh?

Here we go again.

Many times either Tom or I has hummed a few bars or sung a line or two of a classic American folk song (She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain, Sweet Betsy of Pike, This Land is Your Land) only to draw a complete blank from both girls.

Both he and I remember all too well singing those songs in the bi-weekly music class in the fourth or fifth grades. If you lived in Kansas as I did back then you also learned some special Kansas folk songs which your class could perform for the monthly PTA meeting ("She's My Sunflower," *clap, clap, clap*).

Not these days. These days, Rose and Hannah explained, these days you learn folk songs from other countries. Rose giggled and said, "Mom, Mom, Mom, American folk songs aren't good enough! You've got to learn something from South Africa, even if you don't ever remember what those words mean!"

She broke into a lilting little song and Hannah dumbfounded me by joining in perfectly.

Now I don't particularly mind if they know South African folk songs. I, myself, learned Frere Jacque at a tender age as part of that age's multiculturalism effort.

However, is it too much to ask that all that multiculturalism include our own country? I know the politically correct answer but my own answer is a typically American, "Hell no!"

Saturday, August 26, 2006

148 Left ...

2,996 is a tribute to the victims of 9/11.

On September 11, 2006,
2,996 volunteer bloggers
will join together for a tribute to the victims of 9/11.
Each person will pay tribute to a single victim.

We will honor them by remembering their lives,
and not by remembering their murderers.

There are only 148 victims left to be assigned to bloggers and the organizer is trying not to assign more than one victim per blogger unless absolutely necessary to reach the goal.

I am proud to say that I will be honoring the life of Captain Daniel O'Callaghan, age 42, a firefighter who died heroically and was found with his set of Knights of Columbus rosary beads in hand.

If you'd like to sign up or just read more about this project, go to here.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Did You Cry?

The most frequently asked question about getting Hannah settled in at A&M.

The answer is ... not really though I do have a tendency to get a bit teary eyed at the oddest times. Now, whether that makes me a good mother or a bad mother I am not sure. I don't feel like boo-hooing but there is a nostalgic, melancholy feel to everything as we all adjust to having that big gap where Hannah has always been until now.

We had a good and easy trip (both ways), finally figured out how to get Hannah into her dorm room (4th floor, NO ELEVATOR y'all! Thank heavens for sturdy, polite young co-ed men who will haul boxes!), and the only crying on-site was when I glanced over my shoulder as we were leaving and could see on Hannah's face that she was trying not to break down. Which I did quite well at (the NOT breaking down part) until I was driving away and then I did sniffle a bit.

Hannah's roommate is just about the nicest girl you could ask for (she was the one who was waiting with box-carrying guys ... a good roommate obviously!). Hannah got together with some of her high school friends and they were hanging out together last night when I called.

So far the worst sufferers are the animals. Pepper (our Great Dane/black Lab mix) kept rushing to the front window and barking wildly at any cars that slowed down. I think he felt Hannah might be getting dropped off by a friend.

The cat may never be the same having to depend on the rest of us lowly mortals for enough affection to get through the day! She was not in her usual spot this morning and then appeared looking all rumpled as if she'd woken late and bolted out of her spot without a morning toilette. She then swarmed onto my lap and purred loudly (not the usual routine I assure you).

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, to A&M We Go!

Yep, today's the big day when we load the station wagon and head to College Station.

in my absence, here are a few things I found interesting.

Crusin' for a Bruisin' ... poor Tom Cruise, how will he provide for his family now that Paramount has given him the boot for his bizarre behavior?

Crunchy Con ... I read enough reviews of this book to feel that it was way too defined for me. I figured reading all those definitions would just send my blood pressure soaring. Then Steven Riddle began praising it. That's a sign of how much I trust his judgement ... I began to reconsider my position. Not to worry though! Deeper into it he has run into the same sorts of thoughts that I had when reading the reviews ... here and here. Whew!

Autumn Reading Challenge ... oh Mama T, how you influence me! First she numbered the books she read. What an interesting idea. Me too! Then she also gave brief summaries of them. Another good idea ... though I am less thorough about that than she but ... me too! Now she tells about how her Summer Reading Challenge went. Another good idea to assign oneself some of those books that have been taking up shelf space for a long time but not getting read for whatever reason. She's getting ready for her Autumn Challenge and that's another idea I am turning over in my mind. I like it. I like it a lot. For one thing it means making a list. And I am all about lists.

New Way to Harvest Embryonic Stem Cells ... American Papist has the story as well as lotsa links. I am reserving judgment. It looks like a good deal ... but lets see what everyone says and give it some time.

The Rules Aren't Changing, They're Being Applied ... canon lawyer Ed Peters has an interesting post about this.

The Dictatorship of Artificial Contraception ... Nate reminds us where the fundamental base of the culture of death begins.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Catholic Home: Better Than Ever

by Meredith Gould
For many of today's Catholics, the ethnic customs that celebrate the birth, life, death, and resurrection of the Christ have been lost, forgotten, or abandoned for the sake of assimilation. And while folk traditions are neither a substitute for faith nor compelling evidence for reverence, they do help to stimulate and sustain awareness. We have to start somewhere.

I believe that celebrating Catholic customs in the domestic church can serve to reenliven Catholic identity in ways that Mass attendance simply cannot, although I, for one, miss Mass when I miss Mass...
I did a brief review of this book previously at Spero News along with a few others which I find helpful in celebrating liturgical holidays through the year. Now I see that the paperback edition has come out and in looking through it I am reminded of just what a treasure it is to any family that wants to have daily devotion as part of their lives.

Even if you are well versed in reinforcement of Catholic liturgy through home traditions Gould's book serves as a good reminder of following the liturgical calendar through the year. I really appreciated having everything supported by a quote from the Catechism and the author's Jewish heritage adds nice depth to showing the customs as completion of Jewish tradition. Certainly I appreciate her breaking ordinary time into two sections so that the book's order of contents follows the year.

Gould also has a nice touch on regular daily devotions such as reminding us that simply dressing up and dashing out the door to be on time for weekly Mass just isn't enough. How about looking through the Sunday readings first so we have a bit of a frame of reference for what we will be hearing? She offers good, solid advice about such things as daily family prayer, regular Scripture reading, and much more. These things are the reason I give this book as a wedding gift to Catholic couples more than any other.

The publishers took the opportunity to revise the book while they were coming out with the paperback edition. I didn't even notice until flipping through and comparing the two just how often the liturgical colors had been gotten wrong in the first edition. The author mentions this in the forward and I feel for her humiliation.

They also took the opportunity to add an appendix with all the names of Mary ... an amazing list and I had no idea that such a thing would fill so many pages! It would provide ample material for meditation just considering those titles and how Mary, as the first Christian, is worthy of our imitation.

The layout also has been tidied up some. Not that the previous layout was bad at all, but comparing pages you can see how they fixed awkward page breaks. That is probably something only someone who has worked in graphic arts for so long would notice in the first place but it will make the book flow more smoothly in reading.

The liturgical colors information was the most necessary revision but the other changes just make the book easier to use and a more valuable resource than ever. Highly recommended.


Continuing yesterday's exploration of Tonypandy.
Presently Grant put his hand out, wordlessly, and Carradine gave him a cigarette and lighted it for him.

They smoked in silence.

It was Grant who interrupted the sparrows' performance.

"Tonypandy," he said.

"How's that?"

But Grant was still far away.

"After all, I've seen the thing at work in my own day, haven't I?" He said, not to Carradine but to the ceiling, "It's Tonypandy."

"And what in the heck is Tonypandy?" Brent asked. "It sounds like patent medicine. Does your child get out of sorts? Does the little face get flushed, the temper short, and the limbs easily tired? Give the little one Tonypandy, and see the radiant results." And then, as Grant made no answer: "All right, then; keep your Tonypandy. I wouldn't have it as a gift."

"Tonypandy," Grant said, still in that sleep-walking voice, "is a place in the South of Wales."

"I knew it was some kind of physic."

"If you go to South Wales you will hear that, in 1910, the Government used troops to shoot down Welsh miners who were striking for their rights. You'll probably hear that Winston Churchill, who was Home Secretary at the time, was responsible. South Wales, you will be told, will never forget Tonypandy!"

Carradine had dropped his flippant air.

"And it wasn't a bit like that?

"The actual facts are these. The rougher section of the Rhondda valley crowd had got quite out of hand. Shops were being looted and property destroyed. The Chief Constable of Glamorgen sent a request to the Home Office for troops to protect the lieges. If a Chief constable thinks a situation serious enough to ask for the help of the military a Home Secretary has very little choice in the matter. But Churchill was so horrified at the possibility of the troops coming face to face with a crowd of rioters and having to fire on them, that he stopped the movement of the troops and sent instead a body of plain, solid Metropolitan Police, armed with nothing but their rolled-up mackintoshes. The troops were kept in reserve, and all contact with the rioters was made by unarmed London police. The only bloodshed in the whole affair was a bloody nose or two. The Home Secretary was severely criticised in the house of Commons incidentally for his 'unprecedented intervention.' That was Tonypandy. That is the shooting down by troops that Wales will never forget."

"Yes," Carradine said, considering. "Yes. It's almost a parallel to the Boston affair. Someone blowing up a simple affair to huge proportions for a political end."

"The point is not that it is a parallel. The point is that every single man who was there knows that the story is nonsense, and yet it has never been contradicted. It will never be overtaken now. It is a completely untrue story grown to legend while the men who knew it to be untrue looked on and said nothing."

"Yes. That's very interesting; very. History as it is made."

"Yes. History."

"Give me research. After all, the truth of anything at all doesn't lie in someone's account of it. It lies in all the small facts of the time. An advertisement in a paper. The sale of a house. The price of a ring."

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Happy Birthday Hannah!

If I had my way (as well as unlimited time) Hannah's cake would look like this. However, that's not gonna happen. She selected this classic combination of Southern Ginger Cake with Buttercream Frosting. Mmmm ... We'll go out for seafood first. We'll be taking her to college on Thursday but I'm glad she opted to stay home for a few extra days so we could celebrate her birthday first.

(This post will be left at the top of the blog all day so scroll down for any new posts.)

The Thunderer

If you read this out loud you will get the most benefit from it.

God’s angry man, His crotchety scholar
Was Saint Jerome,
The great name-caller
Who cared not a dime
For the laws of Libel
And in his spare time
Translated the Bible.
Quick to disparage
All joys but learning
Jerome thought marriage
Better than burning;
But didn’t like woman’s
Painted cheeks;
Didn’t like Romans,
Didn’t like Greeks,
Hated Pagans
For their Pagan ways,
Yet doted on Cicero all of his days.

A born reformer, cross and gifted,
He scolded mankind
Sterner than Swift did;
Worked to save
The world from the heathen;
Fled to a cave
For peace to breathe in,
Promptly wherewith
For miles around
He filled the air with
Fury and sound.
In a mighty prose
For Almighty ends,
He thrust at his foes,
Quarreled with his friends,
And served his Master,
Though with complaint.
He wasn’t a plaster sort of a saint.

But he swelled men’s minds
With a Christian leaven.
It takes all kinds
To make a heaven.

From "Times Three" by Phyllis McGinley


It is with a joyful and humble heart that I announce to you this day, on the memorial of the Queenship of Mary, the decision to pursue a vocation to the religious life as a sister - currently with the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal. Today marks four months of active discernment following an almost indescribable experience in which I 'just knew' God was calling me to Himself in this most intimate way.
She has more about her discernment to this point. Go congratulate her and keep her in your prayers. Woohoo!

40 Million School Books Can't Be Wrong

One of the pleasures of revisiting favorite books from long ago is the changed perspective that one brings from the passage of years. I read and reread my favorites of Josephine Tey's mysteries when I was in high school ... Daughter of Time, The Franchise Affair, and Brat Farrar.

Rereading them all recently I discovered that not only were did they hold up splendidly as mysteries and portraits of a certain time in England, but that Tey used each to put forward specific commentary about issues in which she evidently took great interest.

Brat Farrar, a wonderful tale of a stranger carefully coached to enter a family as the heir who supposedly committed suicide many years ago, is also a love letter to English country living and horses.

The Franchise Affair, which I will post excerpts of later, is a tribute to the solid goodness of the English character as well as an exposure of the problem of media abuse. (More of that later.)

The Daugher of Time, my personal favorite of the three, was written in 1951 and considers the problem of history being rewritten to reflect the prejudices of those who come into power later. Tey tells the story through Inspector Grant who is laid up in the hospital with a broken leg and who becomes fascinated with a contemporary portrait of Richard III that bears no resemblance to the jealousy-ridden multiple murderer of Shakespeare's play. With the help of an American scholar, he applies his detective's mind to discovering the truth about what kind of man Richard III truly was and who actually killed the little princes in the Tower.

She introduces the idea of "Tonypandy" which deserves to be better known and which is the topic of this excerpt.
"Forty million school books can't be wrong," Grant said after a little.

"Can't they?"

"Well, can they!"

"I used to think so, but I'm not so sure nowadays."

"Aren't you being a little sudden in your scepticism?"

"Oh, it wasn't this that shook me."

"What then?"

"A little affair called the Boston Massacre. Ever heard of it?"

"Of course."

"Well, I discovered quite by accident, when I was looking up something at college, that the Boston Massacre consisted of a mob throwing stones at a sentry. The total casualties were four. I was brought up on the Boston Massacre, Mr. Grant. My twenty-eight inch chest used to swell at the very memory of it. My good red spinach-laden blood used to seethe at the thought of helpless civilians mowed down by the fire of British troops. You can't imagine what a shock it was to find that all it added up to in actual fact was a brawl that wouldn't get more than local reporting in a clash between police in strikers in any American lock-out."

As Grant made no reply to this, he squinted his eyes against the light to see how Grant was taking it. But Grant was staring at the ceiling as if he were watching patterns forming there.

"That's partly why I like to research so much," Carradine volunteered, and settled back to staring at the sparrows.

To be continued ...

Monday, August 21, 2006

Does Everyone Know What Day It is?

Prison Break starts today!

Rose's hopes of seeing any of the Prison Break cast as they filmed around Dallas this summer have not been fulfilled. However, there is much more of the season to film, we have seen signs on a nearby thoroughfare telling the crew where to park, and hope springs eternal. In the meantime, watching the show will do just fine.

Know Thyself

If we don't take a good, honest look at ourselves we can never move away from what keeps us from God or toward doing His will.
... it is vitally important to acknowledge and name our sins. This is not simply a morbid exercise designed to make us feel bad about ourselves; it is, rather, an honest attempt to identify those parts of our lives that need improvement. No one can grow in any way, be it as an athlete or intellectually or spiritually, unless he or she becomes aware of mistakes and wrongdoings. So the purpose here is to become more deeply aware of our guilt and the negative effect it has on our relationship to God and on our ability to become good people. ...our prayer (paradoxically) is that we might feel the pain of our sins. This is not an end in itself, but, rather, a means to the greater end of resolving to avoid our sins in the future. If we wish to avoid mistakes, we must begin with the resolve that they are truly serious, and this resolve must be on both an intellectual and an emotional level. In short, we want to develop a repugnance for sin and a love for doing the will of God. ...

Thursday, August 17, 2006

John Rhys-Davies ... My Hero

From a Jeffrey Overstreet interview during a Lord of the Rings publicity tour.
Jeffrey to JRD:
How much of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Catholic beliefs and perspective resonate with you?

John Rhys-Davies:
I’m burying my career so substantially in these interviews that it’s painful. But I think that there are some questions that demand honest answers.

I think that Tolkien says that some generations will be challenged. And if they do not rise to meet that challenge, they will lose their civilization. That does have a real resonance with me.

I have had the ideal background for being an actor. I have always been an outsider. I grew up in colonial Africa. And I remember in 1955, it would have to be somewhere between July the 25th when the school holiday started and September the 18th when the holidays ended. My father took me down to the quayside in Dar-Es-Salaam harbor. And he pointed out a dhow in the harbor and he said, “You see that dhow there? Twice a year it comes down from Aden. It stops here and goes down [South]. On the way down it's got boxes of machinery and goods. On the way back up it’s got two or three little black boys on it. Now, those boys are slaves. And the United Nations will not let me do anything about it.”

The conversation went on. “Look, boy. There is not going to be a World War between Russia and the United. The next World War will be between Islam and the West.”

This is 1955! I said to him, “Dad, you’re nuts! The Crusades have been over for hundreds of years!”

And he said, “Well, I know, but militant Islam is on the rise again. And you will see it in your lifetime.”

He’s been dead some years now. But there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of him and think, “God, I wish you were here, just so I could tell you that you were right.”

What is unconscionable is that too many of your fellow journalists do not understand how precarious Western civilization is and what a jewel it is.

How did we get the sort of real democracy, how did we get the level of tolerance that allows me to propound something that may be completely alien to you around this table, and yet you will take it and you will think about it and you’ll say no you’re wrong because of this and this and this. And I’ll listen and I’ll say, “Well, actually, maybe I am wrong because of this and this.”

[He points at a female reporter and adopts an authoritarian voice, to play a militant-Islam character:] ‘You should not be in this room. Because your husband or your father is not hear to guide you. You could only be here in this room with these strange men for immoral purposes.’

I mean… the abolition of slavery comes from Western democracy. True Democracy comes form our Greco-Judeo-Christian-Western experience. If we lose these things, then this is a catastrophe for the world.

And there is a demographic catastrophe happening in Europe that nobody wants to talk about, that we daren’t bring up because we are so cagey about not offending people racially. And rightly we should be. But there is a cultural thing as well.

By 2020, 50% of the children in Holland under the age of 18 will be of Muslim descent. You look and see what your founding fathers thought of the Dutch. They are constantly looking at the rise of democracy and Dutch values as being the very foundation of American Democracy. If by the mid-century the bulk of Holland is Muslim—and don’t forget, coupled with this there is this collapse of numbers ... Western Europeans are not having any babies. The population of Germany at the end of the century is going to be 56% of what it is now. The populations of France, 52% of what it is now. The population of Italy is going to be down 7 million people. There is a change happening in the very complexion of Western civilization in Europe that we should think about at least and argue about. If it just means the replacement of one genetic stock with another genetic stock, that doesn’t matter too much. But if it involves the replacement of Western civilization with a different civilization with different cultural values, then it is something we really ought to discuss—because, g**dammit, I am for dead white male culture.

You do realize in this town what I’ve been saying [is like] blasphemy…

…but we’ve got to get a bit serious. By and large our cultures and our society are resilient enough to put up with any sort of nonsense. But if Tolkien’s got a message, it’s that “Sometimes you’ve got to stand up and fight for what you believe in.” He knew what he was fighting for in WW1.

[With that, he departed our appreciative and applauding table, saying:] Try and put verbs in my sentences.

Romantic ABCs

I have been meaning to post this for some time. Yes it's corny but often the best things in life are simply because they are so obvious that they have become cliche. That doesn't make them any less wonderful when your spouse springs one on you.

Also, this has been much on my mind because we are having a meeting tonight with interested couples who attended our first marriage retreat. We will be discerning which roles we will undertake in presenting the retreat all on our own (hopefully, if all roles are filled) with no outside help. A big part of what we discovered on our own retreat was the need to be more romantic.

So without further ado ...
Always kiss each other hello and goodbye. Be there for each other -- always. Create an environment of love. Do it. Escape from the kids. Fight fair. Give of your time. Handle with care. Inspire your partner with love. Judge not. Keep your good memories alive. Listen to her. Make love with your partner's needs foremost. Never go to bed angry. Offer to handle an unpleasant chore. Praise him. Quality time isn't just for the kids. Respect her feelings. Say what you feel when you feel it. Tell her you love her every day. Every day. Understand your differences. Valentine's Day is every day. Walk together; talk together. EXcite your partner as only you know how. You can never say "I love you" too often. Zero-in on his little passions.

Choose a letter. Follow the corresponding piece of advice this week. Choose a different letter next week.

Achieving Perfection

Aaargh! Can we do that? Even the saints have their faults (the oft-mentioned St. Jerome's crabbiness comes to mind instantly). However, this excerpt can give us a better focus on just what achieving perfection means.
[Jesus said,] "You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Mt 5:48)

To praise, reverence, and serve God is to achieve our perfection as human beings. Jesus' command is difficult, though: no one is perfect. And so immediately we must recognize that Jesus is not calling us to some antiseptic kind of life, in which we are afraid to do anything by our very humanness, we are capable of being loved by God and thus capable of loving as God loves. The quote above about being perfect comes after Jesus' command to love our enemies, suggesting that our perfection lies precisely in our ability to mirror the kind of love that God has for all of us.

There is nothing we must do in order to be loved by God. There is nothing we must achieve, nothing we must change, nothing we must seek before God loves us; it is already an accomplished fact because God created us in order to love us. Our perfection is simply our desire to respond to this already accomplished fact, to make our lives great because we are capable of it.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Created for God's Own Delight

God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them ... And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. (Gn 1:27-31)

... our truest, deepest selves were created by God simply for God's own delight in creating us. Each human being is a unique work of art; God throws away the mold after making each one of us. What this suggests, then, is that our lives have unique ways of praising, reverencing, and serving God -- even when we are unaware that we are doing it. I marvel at the array of talents and lifestyles out there, especially those that are completely foreign to me because they remind me how varied are the ways that people can praise God. Some people praise God through their friendships; others through their art; others through their perseverance; others through their work. In short, when we are most ourselves, doing what we are capable of doing, we are praising God.
When I read this I was suddenly seized with the idea that some of our most prominent characteristics, perhaps those which provide us with the most embarrassment (say, for example, extreme enthusiasm ... just to mention what could possibly apply to ... ahem ... me) actually might be the very things that God specially built in. That he might ... delight in someone showing all that enthusiasm. Not that I'm embarrassed (exactly) of being enthusiastic but it can lead to all sorts of awkward situations and does bring knowing glances from those who can recognize me in the throes of a new passion for something. Certainly, it has led me many times to rush forward where angels fear to tread.

But the idea that God is enjoying it, that if it is used to serve Him, in whatever way ... that was eye opening. And welcome.

If this is a new idea, you might want to take a few minutes to consider what He is delighting in that you haven't properly appreciated as a God-given trait or talent. It is truly enlightening.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Another Saint for August 15: St. Alipius

I just finished reading a really fantastic book about saint, Saints Behaving Badly: The Cutthroats, Crooks, Trollops, Con Men, and Devil-Worshippers Who Became Saints by Thomas J. Craughwell. A full review will come later but I thought that I'd share a few excerpts (imagine that!) before then.

I never knew that St. Augustine had a very close friend, Alipius, who was so addicted to blood sports (gladiatorial combat to the death) that it was all consuming. Alipius was so addicted that when his friends tired of attending, he would go and lure new innocents to attend with him. It's an odd thing that Alipius was such a good friend of Augustine's that he followed him to Milan and Carthage, became a Manichean along with him ... but none of Augustine's entreaties could sway him from his addiction. Here is where my admiration for St. Ambrose, already great because of his influence converting Augustine, becomes even greater. I can't imagine what an unbelievable speaker he must have been. As Craughwell tells us:
Drawn by Ambrose' reputation for eloquence, Augustine began attending the bishop's masses. And where Augustine went, Alipius followed. Ambrose's sermons fell on fertile ground. After a period of private instruction with the bishop, Augustine and Alipius -- along with Augustine's illegitimate son Adeodatus -- were baptized by St. Ambrose on the night of the Easter Vigil, 387.

When Alipius renounced the Manichean heresy for the Catholic faith, he also gave up the amphitheater. Strengthened by the grace of the sacraments, he never went to the gladiatorial games again.

Baptism seems to have drawn Alipius and Augustine even closer, with careers that followed identical paths. They both entered the priesthood and returned home to North Africa, where Augustine was named bishop of Hippo and Alipius bishop of their hometown, Thagaste. ...
Did you see who else was baptized along with Alipius and Augustine? Augustine's son ... and I may have read that before but certainly didn't remember it at all.

I like thinking of St. Augustine having such a good friend for his whole life. Certainly, I think that Alipius deserves to be better known. His fight against his obsessive nature (you'll have to read the book to see just how hard he fought and lost) is one that lends his intercession to many of us these days.

Monday, August 14, 2006

When Zombies Attack ...

... will you know what to do?

How about if you're stuck in traffic when alien robots begin attacking your city?

Or if you've become a camp counselor ... at Crystal Lake!

I didn't think so.

Thank goodness for the Geek Survival Guide. Why without this invaluable podcast I'd never have thought of putting batteries in my sock to make a Flail (-2).

(If none of this makes sense, then thank your lucky stars. You are not a geek. Sadly, I was laughing so hard that I almost rolled off the couch.)

Read Me a Story ...

... over at Spero News. I wrote a post about sources of free audiobooks before but this article is expanded and clarified (hopefully!).

Entering Into God's Presence

... God’s love is constant. It is always fresh and new. It is exhilarating not only because of the way it makes us feel but because of the new horizons it opens in our lives—the way it explains who we really are and why we’re here in the first place. Everything else melts away, and we are caught up in an experience that words alone cannot describe, an experience that changes us from the inside out.

How to Enter into God’s Presence. As awesome and intimidating as this may seem, it’s really not all that difficult to enter into the presence of the Lord and experience his love. On the contrary, Jesus longs for us come to him. He actually enjoys being with us and delights in pouring his love upon us—even more than we long to receive it! Whatever roadblocks exist are generally related to our own sin, our own lack of repentance, or our own complacency.

Of course, it is possible to experience God’s presence without putting in any effort at all. After all, that’s what happened to Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:4). But it is far more common to be touched by God when we are in prayer. That’s what happened to Isaiah (Isaiah 1:1-6), to Zechariah (Luke 1:8-11), and to Peter, James, and John (9:28-29). So let’s take a closer look at prayer and ask how we can become more open to God’s touch in our lives.

Passionately seek him. Because of the demands of everyday life, it can be very easy for our faith to become too regimented. Like the Colossians, we can fall into legalisms and lose sight of faith’s primary goal: to ground us in a loving experience of Jesus. If you feel that your prayer has become somewhat mechanical or dry, go before the Lord and say, “Jesus, I want to know you. Come shower me with your love. Transform my life into whatever you desire. I am yours.” The truth is, we all need to cry out to the Lord like this every day—throughout our days, but especially when we are in prayer.
I have been returning more and more to that spot in my own life. Thanks to the on-line retreat making me more aware of God in the everyday, all around me, I have rediscovered that longing to know Jesus better. Yes, I already knew it and, yes, it is a no-brainer ... but "knowing" and "living" are two different things. It is all too easy to become lukewarm, for me anyway, and it is exciting to be pulled out of it back into a more familiar communion with my best and truest friend who wants nothing but my own good.

Soy? No Way ...

... half and half or nothing.

Oh. Wait.

That's being dogmatic and picky isn't it?

You Are a Soy Latte

At your best, you are: free spirited, down to earth, and relaxed

At your worst, you are: dogmatic and picky

You drink coffee when: you need a pick me up, and green tea isn't cutting it

Your caffeine addiction level: medium

Via a good slug of black coffee a.k.a. Georgette.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Some Good Weekend Reading

The Jelly Pinched Wolf has some interesting posts up about Mel Gibson and The Crucible, The Grapes of Wrath (finally someone says what I've always thought about that darned book), and the various critiques of Cars.

I'd have linked to him sooner but kept forgetting to drop by since I'm really hooked into Bloglines for saving story links for later ... if he'd just turn on his RSS feed I'd have a better chance of keeping up. However you get there though it is well worth reading. Check it out.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Take Some Creativity, Music, Eight Treadmills ...

and turn the sound up!

If the above doesn't come through for some reason, here's a link to the original.

Canticle of Brother Sun

Most High, all-powerful, good Lord,
Yours are the praises, the glory, the honor, and all blessing.
To You alone, Most High, do they belong,
and no man is worthy to mention Your name.
Praised be You, my Lord, with all your creatures,
especially Sir Brother Sun,
Who is the day and through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor;
and bears a likeness of You, Most high One.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars, in heaven
You formed them clear and precious and beautiful.
Praised be you, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and serene, and every kind of weather
through which You give sustenance to Your creatures.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water,
which is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom You light the night
and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.
Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth,
who sustains and governs us,
and who produces varied fruits with colored flowers and herbs.

Praised be You, my Lord, through those who give pardon for
Your love
and bear infirmity and tribulation.
Blessed are those who endure in peace
for by You, Most High, they shall be crowned.

Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death,
from whom no living man can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin.
Blessed are those whom death will find in Your most holy will,
for the second death shall do them no harm.
Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks
and serve Him with great humility.

-- Francis of Assisi
No one says it better, except possibly that wonderful song of praise in Daniel, and there is no better way to launch into appreciating what God has created for our delight than reading this canticle. I know that it makes me look with new eyes on nature every time I step outside.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Panning for Gold

This will be a helpful image, throughout our retreat. Imagine a stream, with water rushing by all the time - a pretty good image of our busy lives. Imagine putting my pan - a sieve or screen - into the water. What happens? I get a pan full of stuff. As I shake it a bit, some of the smaller debris falls through the screen and I can look at larger stones that were in the water. And there in my pan, I discover a piece of gold. The message: I won't get that piece of treasure, just sitting by the edge of the stream peering into the water. I have to pan for it - sort out some portion of my experience and go deeper into it. And remember, if I discover some kernel of gold, it would be very important to weigh it - write it down and perhaps share the grace with others...
I found this such an apt image that it has stuck in my mind since last week. I also needed that reminder that we must be involved and active in the process, not just sit on the side of the shore watching everything rush by.

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Tell Me Again

Tell me the story again, Grandfather.
Tell me who I am.

I have told you many times, Boy.
You know the story by heart.

But it sounds better
when you tell it, Grandfather.

Then listen carefully.
This may be the last telling.

No, no, Grandfather.
There will never be a last time.
Promise me that.
Promise me.

I promise you nothing, Boy.
I love you.
That is better than a promise.

And I love you, Grandfather,
but tell me the story again.

Knots on a Counting Rope
Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault
Henry Holt and Company
New York, 1966 and 1987
From week one of the 34-Week Online Retreat where, in true Ignatian form, we begin our spiritual autobiography.

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

It's a Christian Thing

I got an email from a Protestant friend yesterday, asking if a book I mentioned, The Ignatian Workout: Daily Spiritual Exercises for a Healthy Faith, was something that anyone would benefit from or if it was just a Catholic thing.

Of course, there are Catholic elements to anything that has the word "Ignatian" in it because St. Ignatius was .. well ... Catholic.

On the other hand, so far, this is really something that any Christian can benefit from in terms of opening up their eyes to techniques of using our imaginations to be aware of and converse with God. The author's main focus is on comparing Ignatian prayer techniques with the mindset of athletes and coaches as they attempt to achieve important goals in their chosen fields. Surprisingly, even though I am far from athletic, it is a mindset that anyone can relate to and is quite helpful in motivation for prayer.

That also goes for the Pray-As-You-Go prayer podcast and the 34-week On-line Retreat that I am doing. They also are based in Ignatian teachings but I haven't noticed any particular emphasis that would be specific to Catholics. I haven't been listening with a "critical" ear to catch any Catholic references but believe me when I say that it is focused primarily on each soul and their connection with God, rather than anything to do with a specific Catholic orientation.

I would strongly encourage anyone who is interested, not only Catholics, to check out these resources. I may begin sharing bits of the various weeks' readings from the online retreat when they hit me just right.

With that in mind, I also must say that I have benefited greatly in the last week from a podcast called Into The Deep. It is a conversation between three Catholic men about various methods of growing closer to God. In their own words:
Into The Deep is a podcast designed to be a resource to those who wish to spread the saving message of Jesus Christ as faithfully transmitted by the Church. This means that it is applicable to every Baptized Christian, as we all share a common commission to evangelize the world.
I have listened only to the sections on Detachment, Methods of Prayer and Obstacles to Prayer but have found them immensely helpful and easy to listen to (and, yes, sometimes they make me laugh ... and that doesn't hurt either). As these three men are Catholics there are various mentions of such things as the rosary but overall the parts I listened to would again help any Christian desirous of strengthening their prayer life.

For those who are either curious about or critical of such Catholic things as the rosary and saints, I would highly recommend Lure of the Saints: A Protestant Experience of Catholic Tradition" by Jon M. Sweeney, which I reviewed for Spero News. I thought it was a brilliant explanation of how many of these "Catholics-only" practices have a much broader application for all Christians. It also has an eye-opening description of the basic difference between how Protestants and Catholics see the big picture ... a good friend who converted to Catholicism says it is the best description that she has ever read for the difference between her former Lutheran mindset and her current Catholic one.
The Protestant imagination focuses on the gulf that separates us from God, while the Catholic view is of the sacramental nature of all that is around us. It is no wonder that while Protestant spirituality focuses on the Word of God (preaching it, hearing it, applying it) in order to repair the separation that divides us from God, Catholic spirituality focuses on finding, lifting, and releasing the Spirit of God that is sometimes hidden or latent in the world around us. This is the world as sacrament, the world incarnated...

Where the Protestant approach to the Spirit is to analyze its meaning, the Catholic approach to the Spirit is to imagine its depths. Where the Protestant mind stops and pulls the strands apart, the Catholic mind makes further connections and intertwines the strands...
The Ignatian technique is all about intertwining the strands and making the connections. I hope that if this idea appeals to you that it will merit further investigations no matter what your Christian orientation.

A note from the author of The Ignatian Workout tells a bit more about the not specifically Catholic nature of the book:
I've seen mentions of the book on Episcopalian and Mennonite websites-- the former offering the book as recommended reading on their website, the latter using it for a youth group retreat. So no, it's not just a Catholic thing!

Back to Basics: Communion of Saints

It isn't just talking about saints in heaven but the entire Church.
... The term communion of saints is rich in meaning. It refers to the fellowship or community that exists between all the members of the Church. Three levels are traditionally identified.
  • The Church Triumphant: Saints in heaven
  • The Church Militant: Believers on earth
  • The Church Suffering: Souls in purgatory
Catholicism believes that death can't sever the ties that bind the members of the Church, because the soul is immortal and only the body can die. So Catholics believe that the ties and connections that link them together in life continue in death. The beloved dead are still connected to the living and still love the living as much as they love the dead. Even though the body is dead, the immortal soul is very much still alive and in existence.

Saints in heaven: The Catholic Church believes that the saints are ordinary and typical human beings -- with faults and failures, talents and gifts, vices and virtues -- who made it into heaven not by being perfect but by persevering.

Believers on earth: The third tier of the communion of saints is the Church Militant, the believers on earth... The term militant refers to a spiritual warfare against sin and the devil. Catholics believe that their fellow man is their ally, not their enemy. The devil and sin are the real enemies... The spiritual battle is for souls -- to rescue them from sin and evil.

Souls in purgatory: Purgatory is an often-misunderstood Catholic doctrine. It isn't considered a spiritual jail or hell with parole. And Catholicism doesn't teach that everyone goes tot purgatory. On the contrary, the Church believes that many people are purified or purged, hence the term purgatory, in this life. For example, the Church believes that many innocent persons who suffer from disease, poverty, or persecution are living their purgatory now, and when they die, they probably go straight to heaven. The same goes for people who live an exceptionally good and holy life -- no need for purgatory. But the Church believes that most everyone else, although not bad enough to go to hell, aren't good enough to skate into heaven with no need for some introspection and purification... Known as the Church Suffering the souls in purgatory are definitely and absolutely going to heaven, not just yet...

According to the Church, purgatory is like a suburb of heaven. It's close enough to hear the laughter and singing, smell the sweetness in the air, and feel the warmth nearby, but far enough away to remind everyone that they haven't yet arrived.

Or, as some people would like to think of it, it's like being stuck in traffic on the day before Thanksgiving. You know for certain that you're on your way home, but you just don't know when.
Catholicism For Dummies by John Trigilio

This is too brief a discussion of a teaching like Purgatory. For a little more reading, here is a post I put together a while back.

Monday, August 7, 2006

What's Up with Us

All kinds of anticipatory things going on round here ...
  • Rose starts school on the 15th. That sent her into overdrive finishing the book she had assigned herself for summer reading: Crime and Punishment. She loved it. "Wow, what a great book. You'd hate it, Mom, so depressing until the very last page ... but so good." Now she is plodding through her summer homework. I still think it's wrong to assign work over the summer.

  • Hannah is off to Fish Camp this morning. That took us most of the weekend to accomplish. (Fish Camp: a four day A&M freshman camp for learning traditions and making new friends. Higly recommended by one and all.) She left this morning, driving with a friend, at 4:45 (yes 4:45, which meant we were up at 4:00!). Thinking about Fish Camp sent her into a spiral of hard reality about being separated from boyfriend for the school year ... which was not helped by a discussion with boyfriend during which he thought that maybe they should break up but then left it in the air until "after Fish Camp." Thanks so much, boyfriend. There's nothing like dealing with that fallout especially when Hannah's already freaking about leaving home in general. So that took most of my extra time and energy this weekend.

  • Beyond Cana (marriage enrichment retreat) ... any couples who attended the retreat are welcome to be part of the ongoing retreat teams, whether on a support or core team. Since we have three couples who are getting it started in our parish, more are essential to being able to pull this off, especially when considering that two of the couples have small children. A gratifying number of them liked it so much that they want to help bring it to others. We're pumped about it! There was a party on Saturday for everyone to get together and just hang out. These people have some of the most adorable little ones I've ever seen.

  • Knitting ... I really am hating knitting with the Lion Brand self striping yarn but am only halfway through one sock and Rose loves the colors so ... must ... push ... through. Luckily I am loving the Plymouth yarn I am using for the afghan so that makes a nice break. What I really have my eye on for a pair of socks is Bunny Hop ... there is just something so soft sounding about this angora blend yarn. I'd like to make these socks with it.

  • I'm beginning Week 3 of the 34-week On-line Retreat along with a couple of friends. So far it is really going well. Working hand-in-hand with this is the fact that I'm also reading The Ignatian Workout: Daily Spiritual Exercises for a Healthy Faith and using the Pray-As-You-Go prayer podcast. As both are based in Ignatian spirituality, it is all working together to make this a very fruitful beginning.

Saturday, August 5, 2006


Blue must have had many friends. No man as generous of himself as he could have been long without them. Yet, he seems to have had few intimates. Friendship was one of life's fine things to him, and yet he did not look upon it altogether as the rest of us do. Sometimes, I think, he was a friend out of charity. Once, I gathered from his conversation, he had been mistaken in a friend. But he looked back on the treachery of the man he loved more with kindness than with pity, and more with pity than with grief. "Friendship, at worst," he once said to me, "is an investment. Your friend, no matter how he may turn out in the end, is an addition to your life. He brings some things, and whatever his disloyalty, these things he cannot take away."

Friday, August 4, 2006

What a Groaner!

Stay to read the post but go for the headline ... from one of the best punsters I know.

Wordly Wise

Fascinating! From the Word Origin Calendar.
In Old French, the verb muchier meant "to hide" or "to lurk." The English version appeared in the 1800s, but it was first used to mean "to sneak" or "to be truant," before the meaning evolved to a different sense, "to beg."

The Latin compound word perdonare is formed from per-, meaning "thoroughly" and donare, meaning "to give." In Old English, both parts of this word were swapped for their English counterparts, for-, meaning "completely," and giefan, meaning "give," creating a new term matching the original in meaning.

Back to Basics: Priestly Celibacy and Priest Shortage

This was fascinating to me because as many times as I've heard arguments back and forth about this issue, I never saw the traditions that are observed by the Eastern Catholic Church explained.
... if a pope decides to change, modify, or end mandatory celibacy for the Western church, the Church would still maintain and follow the same tradition observed by the Eastern Catholic Church concerning married clergy. Among the married clergy in the Eastern Church, marriage must come before ordination, and if he's ordained unmarried, he must remain unmarried:
  • Ending mandatory celibacy would only affect those yet to be ordained. Celibate priests who're already ordained wouldn't be allowed to marry.
  • Seminarians would have to decide before ordination whether they wanted to be married. They'd have to find a wife prior to their ordination or remain celibate.
  • Anyone having aspirations to be ordained a bishop would have to remain celibate.
  • Catholic priests who were ordained celibate and then later left the active ministry to get married would not be allowed back into the active ministry as a married priest.
Catholicism For Dummies by John Trigilio

Loving a Mosquito

"What a Christian you are!" he [Blue] exclaimed. I think he was a friend to the fellow out of kindness. "I suppose you consider the exhortation 'love your neighbor' a figure of speech. You would love only the lovable. Did you ever try to love someone who was mean, petty, shallow, selfish? Try it."

I told him I was wiling to try to love a villain but that I could not arouse any affection for a mere annoyance, an irremediable nobody. "I think I could love a lion," I said, "but I doubt very much if I every could love a mosquito."

He regarded me seriously. "You consider yourself too much," he returned. "You could love a great enemy. Any healthy man could. Men have boasted that they were to be slain by Caesar. But one needs more than vanity to love a ... a ... what you call a mosquito."

He meant, I suppose, that I needed special graces in charity and fortitude. But the topic to me, being a poor Christian as Blue intimated, was distasteful. I let it drop.
I have my fair share of mosquitoes in my life. Even more humbling, what if I am someone's mosquito? Not even annoying enough to be considered "Caesar" as Blue points out. Something to keep in mind when attempting to love the buzzing pests that God has put me next to on a daily basis.

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Love Made Visible

Go watch this video of Team Hoyt. Bring a hankie but don't let that stop you.

Then be sure to visit their website and especially the who are we page.

I have seen this all over the place but just now had the time to watch. Most recently at The Summa Mamas and I think that it originated at Catholic and Enjoying It.


This is so very true although it was food for thought for me that there could be a good sort of posing ... as long as one maintains one's humility.
Most of us like to pose. And most of us when we pose are found out. And most of us, accordingly, suffer. Yet there is something to be said for posing. All poses reveal imagination. Some reveal vanity, to be sure, and some reveal humility. Every poseur does not deserve the black name of hypocrite. We meet a man who is playing at being hero or saint. The man may be tired of himself. He may know in his heart that he is not so good or great as he might be. His pose is an attempt at nobility. We laugh at him. But we are laughing at ourselves. It is because most of us are such poseurs to ourselves that we so readily find a poseur out.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

I Wasn't Interested in That DVD Until Now

Listening to the Lost podcast as they answer questions at Comic Con (yes, I need a fix that bad) it was mentioned that the second season DVD has an extra feature where they edited together every insult that Sawyer ever has given. I'm laughing just thinking of it.
Sawyer: If this was a scary movie I'd be with a hot chick. Not you Barbar.
Hurley: It's Babar.