Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Mike and I have a conversation going in the comments about embryonic stem cell research. He is being a complete gentleman and I only bring the conversation up here because his points are those which I see time and again in discussions. This is by no means a complete response to those points because I truly am inadequate to that task. However, by putting a few resources I have come across in the past I hope it will help to show another side to the argument.

One point that is mentioned is that scientists assure us the most promising advances in stem cell therapy will result from research with embryonic stem cells. There are really two issues here. One is that we still are talking about human life when we discuss embryonic stem cells; life that must be sacrificed in order to make medicine. The other issue is that one must trust those scientists' promises. With that in mind, I repost this information from a while back.
Clay Randall at Mental Pompeii has a fabulous post about embryonic stem cell research. As a doctor on his hospital's Ethics Committee he has the opportunity to live his convictions.
Note how NIH tries to minimize the fact that you're taking stem cells from an unborn person while at the same time trying to make the artificial distinction between fertilization occuring through sexual intercourse and fertilization occurring in the lab which is...well.....artificial. Perhaps they're hoping the the terms "trophoblast", "blastocoel", and "blastocyst" will disguise the fact that we're talking about a human being? While there is indeed "potential" in these embryonic stem cells, there is also potential in adult stem cells (umbilical cord, bone marrow, etc) which do not carry with it the same ethical considerations. Is it coincidence that rarely does the media discuss the problem of stem cell rejection by the immune system or the malignancies that can result?
Here are a wonderful article that Randall linked to which point out what I had read elsewhere but couldn't find lately ... adult stem cells are getting good results in research while embryonic stem cells have major problems, like a tendency to cause cancerous tumors. I have to echo Randall's questions on this. Why don't we ever hear this from major media?

  • The Wrong Tree: Embryonic stem cells are not all that by Wesley J. Smith
  • A more succinct discussion comes from Catholic and Enjoying It.
    Basically, there are two sources of stem cells: embryos and Other (such as cord blood). To get stem cells from embryos you must kill the embryo. It's a form of cannibalism. I don't oppose stem cell research. I oppose *embryonic* stem cell research. The real reason ESCR is vaunted is not because of it miraculous healing powers (there is yet to have been a single cure for anything) but because there's big money to be made in an industry where embryos are manufactured and then cannibalized for medical use.
    The only advances that have not come unstuck through side effects that in turn are debilitating seem to be those from adult or umbilical cord stem cells ... that I have read of anyway. In fact, just today The Curt Jester draws our attention to a case where umbilical cord stem cells will be helping mightily, without loss of life or limb to anyone.

    Mike brings up the possibility that a loved one or I might get Alzheimer's and that is rightly a concern in our family where both a great-grandmother and a grandmother died after suffering a long bout with that illness. Naturally it was quite distressing to everyone involved. So I have faced that for some time as a possibility for my future.

    However the embryonic stem cells are obtained, it means the destruction of a human life. I can't imagine choosing my comfort whether mental or physical over the life of another human being.

    The Anchoress echoes my own attitude toward any medical treatments that I might ever have cause to use.

    I’m sure I’ll hear, “Anchoress, you’re so mean! What about if someone can be cured of diabetes thanks to Embryonic research?” Really? Is it worth it? As I wrote here, we’ve lost touch with the idea that maybe we’re supposed to play a hand we’re dealt and grow from it. We don’t want to know, anymore, from suffering. Which means we don’t want reality in our lives. I think John Paul II was zreally trying to teach that to us, in his later years. Contrary to the collective wisdom, there is power in, and value to, suffering. It actually may be more important to “be” than to “do.”

    And I say that as a woman dealing with a chronic blood illness, and waiting to hear - finally - about a diagnosis that has taken a great deal of time to pinpoint. Both health issues are being looked into with ADULT stem cells, and that’s good news…I wouldn’t want any treatment derived from EMBRYONIC stem cells.

    Given the choice, I’ll take the harder road, and keep faith with the Creator. If you think I’m a fool, then so be it, I’ll be a fool. I won’t live my life at the expense of a life not allowed to live. Maybe - as this 16 year old has figured out, the time I get is all the time I’m supposed to have.

    I tend to want as little government involvement as possible in funding such things because I think that tends to make quite a few scientists jump on the funding bandwagon and forget their objectivity in order to get the bucks. I think of the global warming debate and how I have learned to distrust scientists precisely because they are going for the funds before the objectivity.

    Yes, much has come from government programs such as NASA. However, many of those results that we now enjoy in regular life (from such mundane items as Velcro on up to medicines) were not the point of the funding. The funding was to promote space exploration, going to the moon and various other astronaut-ly activities. The benefits to us much of the time were an application in a new area of things developed for other uses. I'm as happy as anyone to benefit from them. However, there is a world of difference between trying to explore space and destroying babies (a.k.a. embryos) for experimentation in medicine.

    Monday, October 30, 2006

    2 Corinthians Study: We Each Suffer in Our Own Way

    2 Corinthians 4:8-17
    Sometimes it is hard to remember that suffering hurts. By which I mean that we sometimes fool ourselves into thinking that if we really trust in God we will float past our sufferings; they won't bother us. At least I sometimes fall into this mistaken frame of mind. And then we wonder, where is our faith? What are we doing wrong? Nothing at all, as Paul reminds us.
    Paul rates his afflictions as "slight" compared to the joy of God's kingdom (4;17). Nevertheless, he does not give the impression of being a person who finds afflictions easy to bear (4:8-9). A man who sometimes feels "crushed" and driven almost to despair (1:8) has not found a formula for rising above his problems. Paul does not float peacefully over troubled waters. Sometimes, perhaps, the evidence of God's power at work in him is simply that he doesn't throw in the towel.

    A philosopher in Paul's day named Epictetus wrote that hardships show what a person truly is -- they expose the person's inner character. In Paul's view, difficulties reveal not so much our inner character as that of God. Our hardships are an opportunity for God to show his power (4:7, 10). This is not to deny the importance of human strength of character. From the hardships that Paul endured, it is obvious that he was a man of determination, endurance, and courage. But Paul recognizes that such human qualities are not enough. On a recent occasion, he admitted, he would have despaired if God had not intervened (1:8-9). He talks about God's encouragement frequently (1:4-7; 7:6-7; 13) because he needs it.

    Sunday, October 29, 2006

    Do You Know What Time It Is?

    Just a public service announcement, we're off of Daylight Savings Time and can "fall back" to our usual time.

    Ahhh, that extra hour never looked better than when we got up at 8:30 and realized it really was 7:30! Oh, the luxury!

    This feeling of general good will might have been enhanced by the fact that Rose spent yesterday evening and the night with a friend. Tom and I went to Kebab 'N Curry, rented the second dvd of Michael Palin's Himalayas, and just generally had a date evening which we really needed.

    It does sound as if we picked the most "old folks" dvd possible except that we also rented We Were Soldiers. However, after a very high intensity work week (with most of yesterday also spent at work), the last thing we needed was to see actual bloodshed which was how the movie opened. We opted for the peaceful route and I can highly recommend the series thus far for vicarious travel to fascinating places.

    Enjoy the extra hour!

    Saturday, October 28, 2006

    Halloween Countdown

    Time to buy the candy you'll be giving out next week. You will be giving out candy right? You're not one of those kill joys who hands out toothbrushes or boxes of raisins are you?

    And if you are then I just know that you either had a joyless childhood or have totally forgotten the fun of trick or treating. Here are a few of my favorite things to skip ... you can see the complete list at the source listed. They also tell you what you should give.
    ... or any other fruit for that matter. Not only is it disappointing as hell for a little kid expecting a Snickers, but there's a good chance it'll get smashed under the heft of the rest of the candy, leaving brown mush all over the candy they got from people who aren't total kill-joys.

    Those crappy lollipops they have at the bank
    They're free at the bank for a reason. Well, several reasons actually. The first being that they're almost free. You can get a two-ton bag of them at your local warehouse store for less than the price of one real Twix bar. The second reason is because they taste like crap.

    Anything you made yourself
    In your eyes, you're going out of your way to give kids a special and unique treat that goes above and beyond the normal fare. In their eyes you're giving them a crappy cookie that their parents will throw away as soon as they get home for fear of it containing razor blades. So, we guess this one is all right if you only give them to kids with neglectful parents. Or orphans.

    Possibly the crappiest item on the list, those little boxes of raisins never get eaten. People generally give them out under the pretense that they want to make kids healthier. In reality, they give them out because they hate fun. It's Halloween, let kids eat a friggin' Milky Way.

    New to the Blogrolls

    Actually, most are new, one is raised from the ashes, and a few had been inadvertently dropped during a blogroll rearrangement. Whatever. Enjoy!
  • Brandywine Books

  • Cardinal Sean's Blog

  • Evangelical Catholicism

  • Fast Forward Film Reviews

  • In the Light of the Law

  • Luminous Miseries

  • Old Testament Space Opera

  • Shouts in the Piazza

  • Standing on My Head

  • Trousered Ape
  • I Do Love Corny Jokes ...

    Your Halloween Costume Should Be

    Candy Corn

    Via Elvis.

    Friday, October 27, 2006

    Abandoning Yourself to God's Will ... When You're in a Really Bad Mood

    Y'all may remember that I told you Jen has some very good questions. She has one now ... go read it.

    Here's my answer:
    Having been in this situation just two days ago, and yesterday ... I am THERE on this feeling.

    In my case, abandoning myself to God means a couple of things. First, once I have realized the problem, I tell Him I need help (and yes, I tell ... not ask ... so you can see how much help I need!).

    Secondly, I turn to one of several prayers that I repeat like a mantra when I am feeling like that. Sometimes it is: "Jesus give me your strength."

    Sometimes it is a Hail Mary because I know she had days like this too.

    Sometimes it is: "Lord have mercy on my and bless (insert name of person I am annoyed at)." This prayer especially has the tendency to make me remember how I have habits that are JUST LIKE the ones that are annoying me in the other person. That goes a long way to making me calm down.

    Which prayer? Whichever comes to mind and it is usually one of these. But I hang onto it like a lifeline, over and over, until the moment (or moments) pass and I don't need it any more.

    That is the help that God gives me ... the right prayer to help me put my head down, BITE MY TONGUE, and get through it. And when I fail to do the above (sadly, this is often also but gradually getting less), He gives me the grace to recognize it and go apologize.

    Halloween Countdown

    DON'T FEAR THE REAPER: Jules has a few choice pumpkins as well as excellent quotes to help you combat the fear. Now that's my kinda post!

    FEAR THE MARTIANS: Librivox has two recordings of War of the Worlds available. One is solo, one has the chapters read by different people. I am listening to the group read. What can I say? I'm a groupie of various different voices ... Kara, Alex Foster (British accent y'all!) and ... Chip who can read the heck out of a story (try his reading of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and you'll see what I mean).

    Thursday, October 26, 2006

    Halloween Countdown

    Go ahead ... eat a spider. Gourmet magazine shows you how.

    If you're not in the mood to make or eat spiders, check out hi monkey where everything is Halloween-y right now.

    Poetry Thursday

    Back by popular demand here is another of Rose's poems. If I may say so, it is a perfect description of Rose who is always viewed as so quiet and expressionless by people she doesn't know well.
    A Song of Myself
    The notes all twine together, forming into song
    And though the beat keeps going, the melody seems wrong.
    The major chords are cold, boring, distant at their core
    But if you listen longer, you may hear something more.
    Almost nonexistent against the unmarked tune
    There’s a trill of something different making its debut
    Maybe a quiet laugh or a glint in the eye
    Then it disappears as if awaiting a reply.
    And if you sit quite still and listen hard so you can hear
    The notes will play again, this time with some good cheer.
    At first it just repeats as the volume starts to climb
    But the right kind of listener knows that good songs can take time.
    Then the pattern starts to change and the rhythm will increase
    As we begin to come to the crescendo of the piece.

    Wednesday, October 25, 2006

    The Very First Christian Missionaries

    In those days Mary arose and went with haste
    into the hill country, to a city of Judah.
    Luke 1:39
    In the scriptures Mary is a person of action but not frivolity; she does not pursue activity for its own sake. Rather she acts with God at His prompt and pace. Why did Mary decide to go to the home of Elizabeth? Undoubtedly the Holy Spirit, who had come upon her (Lk 1:35), unfolded the reason for the angel's reference to Elizabeth's pregnancy. Her state, as she considered what she should do was described by St. Peter Julian Eymard:
    The Word was in Mary's womb. He inspired His Mother to visit Elizabeth; Mary carried to John his Master and King. John could not come, for his mother was too old to undertake that journey; Jesus Christ went to him. He did the same for us: we could not go to God; God came to us."
    ... This is the first Christian missionary journey undertaken for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Unborn Jesus initiates it, He and his mother go out prefiguring the missionary journeys initiated by Jesus, when He sent out first the twelve apostles and then the seventy disciples two by two (Mk 6:7 and Lk 10:1). Christians traveling on mission, in pairs, had not only a spiritual and psychological purpose, but also an ecclesiastical one; the two together are in communion one with the other, experiencing Christ's power acting through them and their different gifts and talents. In the case of pregnant Mary, here we have the quintessential communion, the epitome of communion with Christ. Two lives intertwine in the messianic mission and the world's greatest love.
    Unborn Jesus Our Hope by George Peate
    Now that is a concept that never occured to me for all that I have been used to the idea of thinking of Mary as the first Christian. I am already quite fond of the rosary mystery where Mary goes to visit Elizabeth. It may be my second favorite, right after the wedding at Cana. But this adds a whole new dimension for meditation. Wow!

    Halloween Countdown

    Miss Cellania is having a Halloween countdown of her own which means loads of photos and links ... and jokes. I must recommend the one on the pumpkin post of a few days ago but I'll warn you that it is definitely rated R.

    Tuesday, October 24, 2006

    Odds and Ends

    What's happening in the HC household?

    ROSE - following the smashing success of their Julius Caesar musical, she and her friends have decided to make a musical about The Scarlet Letter. A school assignment? Nope. They're just doing it. So Rose has been writing songs (her lyrics set to Disney tunes) for a couple of weeks.

    HANNAH - too much science can force big decisions. She's changing her major from zoology to wildlife and fisheries. Other than that she's having a grand time at A&M, although still counting down the weeks to Thanksgiving (as am I, truth be told).

    TOM AND I - this is our very, very, very busy time of year at work. We're trying that duck trick of looking serene while paddling like hell below the surface.

    HOUSEHOLD FAVORITE QUOTE OF THE MOMENT - "Grant stood by me when I was crazy, and I stood by him when he was drunk. Now we stand by each other always." Sherman (Can you tell that Rose had to do a paper on Sherman and a powerpoint report on Grant? We are well schooled and quite a bit fonder of both those guys now that we have been inundated with information for some time.)

    Some Gems for You

    I mentioned before that I was working my way through the episodes. I have gotten to the end and can highly recommend this DVD. It has a very inspirational view of the discernment process and the problems that people encounter along the way, whether it be well-meaning family members, friends, circumstances, or their own fears. I also especially appreciated the extra features which showed an episode about a candidate whose discernment process didn't get aired. It was just as interesting as the others and I was just as involved as I was with the other guys in seeing what his decision would be. The commentary from the priest who worked with the show about different aspects to the priesthood from faith to celibacy were good and I think would be reassuring to family and friends of someone who was interested in discerning a call to the priesthood. Highly recommended.

    UNBORN JESUS OUR HOPE by George Peate
    I usually don't recommend a book that I have not read but must make an exception in this case. I received this wonderful book yesterday and can tell after simply reading the first chapter that it is a real treasure. The premise of the book is to carefully and prayerfully consider the fact that Jesus spent 9 months in utero ... and that Jesus' time there still echoes throughout our lives today. I'm not sure how else to describe it and I know that sounds rather dry, so will direct you to The Pew Lady's glowing review which was what made me interested in the book to begin with. The author has a way of bringing forth ideas that make so much sense but that never occurred to me that you can be sure I will be sharing excerpts in the future. Definitely I will be recommending this to our Perpetua & Felicity Book Club as an Advent selection to read.

    While I'm making one exception of raving about a book I haven't read completely I might as well make another ... this book is a gem. The 101 stories that Sister Patricia has gathered range from short and simple to longer tales but all of them bare the writers' souls in one way or another in telling how reconciliation has set people free and filled their lives with grace. These are interspersed with various articles by more professional writers that offer insight from personal perspectives as well. This all adds up to a very practical book that can be read through or dipped into for goodies on a regular basis as I am doing in the evenings before I go to bed. I am sure you'll be seeing excerpts showing up here from this book as well. Highly recommended.

    Jen has a very good basic list of Catholic books in pdf format. It is a compilation of the recommendations made to her of good reading for RCIA. I have read a surprising number of the books on that list and congratulate her and her advisors for coming up with such a solid list.

    Monday, October 23, 2006

    Quick Book Reviews

    ISN'T IT ROMANTIC?: An Entertainment by Ron Hansen
    Natalie is a French girl who is enchanted by all things American and takes a sight seeing trip designed to show her the real America. She is pursued by Pierre, her boyfriend, who is definitely not a fan of America but who is determined to get her to decide if she will marry him. They wind up in the tiny town of Seldom, Nebraska, where a comedy of language, relationships, and cultures ensues. Light, frothy, and a very quick read. I wouldn't buy it but I definitely would recommend it for checking out of the library and losing touch with reality for a little while.

    THE HISTORIAN by Elizabeth Kostova
    SPOILERS at the bottom
    I really enjoyed this book about various people, all historians, on the hunt of the infamous vampire Dracula. It is difficult to believe that this was the author's first book. She deftly managed to contantly keep the reader on tenterhooks between two or three intertwined stories through the entire 600 page length. As befits a book with such a title there is plenty of history, especially of the Ottoman empire and the Balkans. I literally raced through the last hundred pages to see the outcome of the various groups' convergence on their goal.

    However, upon reflection after finishing the book I have two big problems which possibly other readers can help me resolve ... I do so want to love the book in its entirety. And this is where the spoilers come in.

    First - I feel that to have a book given to the daughter at the end is cheating. Did they not watch Dracula turn to dust before their eyes? I think they did. It would have been much stronger to leave it that way.

    Second - it seems to me that the main premise of the book is actually a huge hole in logic. For Dracula to deliberately give various historians that dragon book and then go to such lengths as killing those near to them in order to dissuade them from following up any research ... and then for the distribution of books to have the ultimate goal of luring historians to him to catalogue his treasure? No, no and no. Supposedly he was brilliant. If his agents are indeed all over the world, watching those promising specimens of historians to see which would serve his purposes best ... then why not just make off with whichever seems best at the time, discarding them once they have done all they can? That is the vampire way. Certainly it is Dracula's way.

    Although I must say that I truly enjoyed the overall reason Dracula turned to vampirism ... because he despaired of salvation and then turned to surrounding himself with things. Very fitting.


    Rose really wanted to see this one on the big screen so she and I went this weekend. It was a very straightforward story and not too difficult to see where it was going. However, we enjoyed it nonetheless. The film captured the feel of China in the days when only the Chinese held sway and the lush photography filled the eye (especially in the countryside scenes).

    It is the story of a Chinese hero and martial arts fighter, Huo Yuanjia, who discovers that he must conquer his pride to truly understand what it is to be a great man. Wanting to follow in his father's footsteps as a martial arts expert, he is denied training because of his asthma. After he grows up, Huo takes great pride in defeating enemies but his pride is his undoing as he thinks that the measure of a champion is mere physical prowess. This attitude brings great tragedy upon his head and, broken, he winds up in the countryside among the simple people. Naturally, they teach him (blessedly without "wise man" style platitudes) to find himself and to know what is truly important in life. He goes from being a braggart to being wise and peaceful. Upon returning to his home, he finds that the British have been demeaning the Chinese as "weak men of the East" and takes on four of their champions to show that is not the case. Oh, after founding a premier martial arts school which promotes oneness and self knowledge ... natch.

    Standout performances come from Sun Li as a blind girl in the countryside and Dong Yong who portrays Huo's best friend. It is no Hero, but then, what is?

    Also, Rose and I perhaps had a different context when viewing this than other people in the theater with us. I was thrilled because, after doing ChinesePod lessons daily for some time, I actually understood many words and phrases of the dialogue. Sometimes even entire sentences! Woohoo! Rose recognized several kung fu moves that she has learned. Also the weapons used in the challenge scenes matched those that hang on the wall of her kung fu school.

    Bottom line: there is much to be enjoyed about this film but it all is right on the surface. Don't go looking for too much more than what you see. Highly enjoyable nonetheless.

    (HC rating: Good despite lack of flubber)

    Halloween Countdown

    Georgette gives us two good Halloween preps with Hauntings and Catholic Ghost Busters and then follows it up with Catholic Ghost Stories. Check it out!

    Saturday, October 21, 2006

    Halloween Countdown

    We'll put a "two-fer" out there for the weekend.

    Savage Chickens, which is a daily "must" for me, will be featuring Halloween cartoons every day until Halloween as well as have a contest.

    Ellen has been a fan of all things horror since she was small. She discusses classic and modern horror movies, literature, etc. including related genres of thrillers and mystery. She does a very good job of looking at these. Give her a listen.

    Friday, October 20, 2006

    Halloween Countdown

    Where better to prepare for Halloween than at All Halloween Blog which is where I found this delightfully seasonal poem.
    A haunted hallway with candles a glow
    A secret door to where? no one knows
    Candy by the door, lightning all around
    Mist becoming thick slowly moving all through town
    And suddenly we hear them, singing in their way
    Moaning, screaming, laughing...bleeding on the hay
    The laughter ends abruptly, with the sounds of screams
    On a night such as this, we celebrate Halloween

    The Devil Has Quoted Scripture

    You know, in all the arguments I have heard for why the Magisterium and Tradition are a must in conjunction with Scripture ... I have never heard it put this way. And yet it makes more sense to me in a very basic way than those other arguments. Brilliant. Leave it to David Scott, eh?
    Early church leaders insisted that the Scriptures be read and understood within the context of the church's tradition. They had learned by experience. Many of the problems and heresies of the early church had stemmed from a rejection of this principle, as charismatic leaders and sects advanced wild theories and fanciful speculations they said were based on the Bible.

    "The Devil himself has quoted Scripture texts," Jerome noted ruefully, referring to Satan's temptation of Jesus in Matthew's Gospel. "We could all, while preserving the letter of Scripture, read into it some novel doctrine."

    But God did not send his word into the world only to leave it alone to be interpreted according to the whims, dictates, and tastes of whoever heard it. That is why the word was given to us in the church. This is the message of a dramatic scene in the Acts of the Apostles. The Holy Spirit tells the apostle Philip to strike up a conversation with an official of the queen of Ethiopia's court. Seated in his chariot, the official is reading the prophet Isaiah. "Do you understand what you are reading?" Philip asks. The official replies, "How can I, unless someone guides me?" So Philip interprets the Scriptures -- "starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus." Then the man asks to be baptized.

    For the early church, and for Catholics today, the Bible was meant to be read with the apostles, in the church. As Peter said bluntly, "No prophecy of scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation." The apostles alone had learned the proper reading of Scripture from the mouth of the Master. They alone had been given what Paul called "the mind of Christ" and the Spirit to guide them deeper into its truths and mysteries. This understanding in the Spirit had been passed on to the bishops, who were entrusted with the apostles' "own position of teaching authority," as St. Irenaeus, the great apologist and bishop of Lyons, said in the second century.
    Catholic Passion by David Scott

    Thursday, October 19, 2006

    Reality Check

    This should be shown to every girl you know ... and some of the boys too. We all need a shake up to understand what is real.

    Via The Daily Eudemon.

    Halloween Countdown

    Tweedlesketch is celebrating 31 days of Halloween with original monster cards. These are really great! Via No Blasters.

    Marriage and Self-Sacrifice

    I think my relationship with my wife is the best chance I will ever have to love my neighbor as myself. My success or failure as a lover will show most clearly with her. She is my best occasion for self-sacrifice, the bloodless martyrdom of daily life. My children also demand self-sacrifice, and on a greater scale, but there is a mandatory element to my fatherly efforts. They are my children; their dependence on me is nearly total. To neglect them would be an obvious moral failure. Even when they are at their worst, I do not wish they would raise themselves. Deirdre is another story. She is far more autonomous; she took care of herself before we married. I sometimes wish that she would do for herself some of the things she asks of me. I like to sit and read and be left alone. Overcoming that wish to the point of granting her requests cheerfully, or even anticipating them, is a small but constant opportunity for charity.

    She is my best lesson in the pain of sin. The relative innocence of children may make them ideal candidates as earthly stand-ins for God. When you sin against them, the injustice of it shines forth -- they're just kids. But Deirdre loves me as on other, and I her. When I sin against her -- when I break a promise, speak a cutting word, or fail in my duty -- I see the pain in her face, and the ingratitude of it hits home. How can I wound one who loves me so well? I see the wild incongruity of it: I love her so much in my better moments, the good she does is the source of so much of my happiness; how can I forget this?
    Swimming with Scapulars by Matthew Lickona
    Anyone who has been married for any length of time knows this one, kids or no kids. But Matthew Lickona puts it so clearly and so well that it was a really good reminder for me of the fact that we are living our faith every day, all the time, with the people who are closest to us.

    Wednesday, October 18, 2006

    Halloween Countdown

    (Because there's nothing for kicking off a Halloween countdown like some really bad jokes...)

    How do you fix a broken pumpkin?
    With a pumpkin patch.

    What do you get when you cross a vampire and a snowman?

    How do witches keep their hair in place while flying?
    With scare spray...

    Do zombies eat popcorn with their fingers?
    No, they eat the fingers separately...

    What did one ghost say to the other ghost?
    "Do you believe in people?"

    What do you call someone who puts poison in a person's corn flakes?
    A cereal killer...

    Why do mummies have trouble keeping friends?
    They're so wrapped up in themselves...

    What kind of streets do zombies like the best?
    Dead ends...

    What is a ghost's favorite mode of transportation?
    A scareplane...

    What type of dog do vampire's like the best?

    What does a vampire never order at a restaurant?
    A stake sandwich...

    What is a skeleton's favorite musical instrument?
    A trombone...

    What do birds give out on Halloween night?

    Why do vampires need mouthwash?
    They have bat breath...

    Why did the Vampire subscribe to the Wall Street Journal?
    He heard it had great circulation...

    Tuesday, October 17, 2006

    Learning From Our Family

    *headslap* This is so basic but makes so much sense. Why has it never been explained to me this way before? That family example may be the best I have ever heard.
    Establishing a canon did not mean the bishops started handing out Bibles. Most people in the fourth century did not know how to read, and it would be another thousand years before the technology for mass-producing books was developed. For centuries the Scriptures were circulated in hand-copied manuscripts and guarded lovingly by local churches.

    But even if they could have put a Bible in each person's hands, the successors of the apostles would never have thought that to be sufficient. Scripture was never envisioned as standing apart from the church in which it was born, apart from the tradition -- the new way of life handed on by the apostles.

    The Catholic does not limit the word of God to only the words found in the Bible. As St. Bernard of Clairvaux said, the word is "not a written and mute word, but the Word which is incarnate and living." Catholics are not "people of the book." We are children of the witnesses, begotten of the words and deeds of those who first saw the Lord.

    Parents do not raise children only by lecturing them about right and wrong and repeating stories and words of wisdom handed down from long-dead relatives. Instead, they build a home life in which the family's character and values are passed on as much by shared experience and example as by words. It is the same with the family of God, the church. Our life in Christ grows not only through reading the words of our ancestors in the faith, but also by doing the things they did, sharing in the rituals and practices they received from Christ.
    Catholic Passion by David Scott

    Chock Full of Songs That Makes Us Roll Our Eyes

    Sent to me by ever so insightful, Laura H.

    Monday, October 16, 2006

    The True Religion, the One Way of Salvation

    Jesus is more than a great religious teacher, and his church is not merely one religious institution among many. Catholics believe that the church is the true religion, the one true way of salvation. All other religious figures and institutions are incomplete in comparison to the Catholic Church. How could they not be, if Jesus really is who he said he was, as Catholics believe?

    The ancient religions of the world -- especially Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam -- contain much that is beautiful, noble, and true. And these religions, especially, continue to impel people to heights of holiness, wisdom, and love. Catholics believe that all that holy and true in these faiths is a gift of God, a reflection of the desire for God that he places in every human heart. But no matter how sublime the other religions of the world, only the Catholic Church contains all the gifts that God wants to bestow on his children. Only the church can bring us to divine life...

    This is, after all, what Jesus taught. He said that no one can go to the Father except through him. To be saved we have to be born again of water and Spirit in baptism. To have eternal life we have to eat his flesh and drink his blood in the Eucharist. Salvation, as our Lord revealed it, means meeting him in his church, which he established to continue his saving presence in history.

    However, whom Jesus saves may not be limited to those we see being baptized and made a part of the Catholic Church. Those whom Jesus saves, those who are really "in" the church, remain a secret known only to God. "In the ineffable forethought of God, many who appear to be outside are within, while many who seem to be within are without --- the Lord knows his own," Augustine once observed.
    Catholic Passion by David Scott
    This is why we can be ecumenical while simultaneously believing that the Catholic Church is the one true path.

    Friday, October 13, 2006

    Who Needs Prayer Wheels ...

    ... when you've got these? Now that's classic Engrish.

    Finding Freedom in the Bonds of Love

    The walls of the house signify the boundary enclosing the particular place where these few people are engaged in enacting the rite of love, that is, of exchanged life. They experience it under many forms: the love of the parents for each other is one form; the love of the mother for her son, say, is another, and for her daughter another; and the father for his daughter and for his son; and the older brother for the younger sister, or the older sister for the younger brother. There are a dozen variations on the theme, but the same theme; namely, that we find real life where mutual responsibility and commitment turn out to be forms of joy. It is love that liberates the participants for this. Love sets them free from the calculating and jockeying and tallying up of scores that we find in mere politics, where we have to protect people with half-measure such as equality and rights and self-determination. Love opens onto a vastly more splendid order of things; and the forms of love at work in an ordinary family are like introductions to this splendor.

    This family bond is there in the fabric of ordinary human life, giving us all this chance to participate in the Real Thing. All forms of love furnish this chance in one way or another, of course --love for one's country, or for one's community, or one's master or friend. Wherever love operates, there we find some exhibition of the principle. But the obvious place where we find the natural occasion for the whole race to enact the rite is the household -- in other words,in the biological family.

    No one supposes that these four or five or six people are a select breed, tailored to get along with each other perfectly, or picked because they are better than anyone else. Rather, it is as though the great lesson in love that we must all learn sooner or later has been made obvious, easy, and natural by being carried along in the arms of sheer biology...
    This just seems to continue the message from yesterday about God putting us right smack in the middle of the place we need to be to learn what we need to know. Once again, we've just got to recognize it to help us get the most advantage from the lesson.

    Thursday, October 12, 2006

    Adoration Prayers ... Another Chance!

    I will be in adoration ... yes again! lucky, lucky me! ... for an hour early Saturday morning. If anyone would like me to take a special intention to Jesus for them just send me an email (julie @ glyphnet . com) with "Adoration" in the subject line. I'll already have all those from my Prayer Journal and also those that I took with me for last week.

    Quick Book Reviews

    A shoemaker who lived in Capernaeum while Jesus was there writes his musings in his journal. Among his entries are included thoughts about personal encounters with Jesus and his disciples. The author clearly has incorporated some of the insights and thoughts he has had during his long practice of Ignatian contemplation, which involves putting yourself in the scene when reading the Gospels. Much of it is quite effective in terms of helping the reader imagine where Jesus might have stayed, the sorts of jokes the disciples would tell, how one might speak personally to Jesus in passing, and so forth. The author, of necessity, invents much of Jesus' dialogue during the aforementioned examples and, for the most part, it works.

    I had a much more difficult time when the author invented additional parables for Jesus to use as thought provoking examples for his disciples. Not surprisingly, the added parables were much shallower than Jesus' own and jolted me out of the story as I mentally contrasted it to the real parables. They read like parables I would have made up myself and that is no recommendation, believe me. There was a similar lack of depth and originality in most of the shoemaker's insights. I think this book could be useful for those who would like some help in putting themselves "in the scene" with Jesus but it didn't really grab me with any new insights or thoughts that I haven't seen elsewhere.

    ... I have always been a reader; I have read at every stage of my life, and there has never been a time when reading was not my greatest joy. And yet I cannot pretend that the reading I have done in my adult years matches in its impact on my soul the reading I did as a child. I still believe in stories. I still forget myself when I am in the middle of a good book. Yet it is not the same. Books are, for me, it must be said, the most important thing; what I cannot forget is that there was a time when they were at once more banal and more essential than that. When I was a child, books were everything. And so there is in me, always, a nostalgic yearning for the lost pleasure of books.
    This author understands me. And I understand why she wrote this unusual book which is a love letter for those who have read and reread Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Rebecca, and similar classics. It is a double tale wound around the story of a young woman, Margaret, who has been tapped to write the biography of Vida Winter, a very famous and reclusive writer who has never told anyone a single truth about her life story. As the author's tale unfolds, Margaret begins investigating the truth from her side. I couldn't put this book down. Highly recommended even though I feel the author pulled an "Agatha Christie" toward the end when Vida Winter's true identity is finally revealed. But I love Agatha Christie books as well so it all works out. Not perfect but a thoroughly enjoyable read.

    You don't have to take my word for it. Steven Riddle has a much more thorough review here.

    This book was lent to me by a much younger friend with the recommendation that she and her husband both really loved the book. I could tell as there were numerous bits of paper marking favorite passages and underlined mentions of authors for further investigation later. I also could understand their enthusiasm. This is a lively and well written book from Matthew Lickona, a young husband and father, who examines his life and roles thus far through a Catholic viewpoint. Lickona is thoroughly orthodox yet also that most welcome of people who live in the world but not of it ... which is to say he's real. I thoroughly enjoyed this book although I am well past the age where many of the insights are new. However, even with that said, I still gleaned several thought provoking ideas and plan on suggesting this book to my Catholic women's book club which has a range of women from young singles to grandmothers. I think they will all enjoy it. Highly recommended though much more for people in their twenties or thirties.

    For a daily look at Matthew, check out his blog.

    I just had the pleasure of getting some books to try from the library and finding that they all look so good I'm having a hard time deciding which to dive into first.
    • Isn't It Romantic?: An Entertainment by Ron Hansen ... a French couple tries to find the real America and winds up stranded in a tiny town in Nebraska. Light and fluffy looking ... my favorite kind of quick read.

    • The Salaryman's Wife by Sujata Massey ... a mystery being solved by the Japanese-American heroine living in Japan. Mystery and exotic locale.

    • The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova ... a modern vampire tale (does everyone remember that Dracula is one of my favorite books?) that follows three timelines, one in the 1930s, one in the 1950s, and one in 1972.

    2 Corinthians Study: Affliction, Suffering, and Comfort

    2 Corinthians 1:1-7
    I really like it when we can get the nuances of the original language from Scripture. Often, as we can see below, it conveys so much more than the mere English translation gets across. The definitions below all much more active expressions of how we experience and deal with suffering than what comes to my mind when simply reading the verses with no knowledge of the original Greek.
    (i) Paul writes as a man who knows trouble to those who are in trouble. The word that he uses for afflictions is In ordinary Greek this word always describes actual physical pressure on a man. R.C. Trench writes, "When, according to the ancient law of England, those who willfully refused to plead had heavy weights placed on their breasts and were so pressed and crushed to death, this was literally thlipsis." ...

    (ii) The answer to this suffering lies in endurance. The Greek word for this endurance is hupomone. The keynote of hupomone is not grim, bleak acceptance of trouble but triumph. It describes the spirit which can not only accept suffering but triumph over it ...

    (iii) But we are not left to face this trial and to provide this endurance alone. There comes to us the comfort of God. Between verses 3 and 7 the noun comfort or the verb to comfort occurs no fewer than nine times. Comfort in the New Testament always means far more than soothing sympathy. Always it is true to its root meaning, for its root is the Latin fortis and fortis means brave. Christian comfort is the comfort which brings courage and enables a man to cope with all that life can do to him ...
    *Barclay is not a Catholic source. Read here for more info about him.

    Wednesday, October 11, 2006

    Bleg: Toronto Resources Needed to Offer to Mother and Unborn Baby

    I received this request ... anyone know where to go for resources to help this 23-year-old woman and her unborn baby?
    She wants to let the baby live, but is under a lot of pressure to have an abortion and does not have a lot of resources on her own. She really needs help from someone or a group in her area (Toronto).

    I've been searching online for the Toronto equivalent of the White Rose*, but haven't been able to find anything yet. I'm sure there is something like that. I was wondering if someone on here with better connections within Catholic Charities or the Toronto area might know of a good place I could refer her to.
    If anyone wants to email me rather than answer in the comments box, my email is julie[at]glyphnet[dot]com. Thanks!

    * White Rose Women's Center is a Catholic crisis pregnancy center providing pro-life education, counseling and aid.

    Wasting Time? You Say That Like It's a Bad Thing.

    I got this from Hannah. As she warned me, there is one surprising and shocking moment toward the beginning but it goes on to be downright hilarious. Therefore, I'm passing that warning on and, because I like to live on the edge, I'm posting it here for all to enjoy.

    Gym class

    Update: Evidently some find the whole thing to be shocking ... so I will elaborate on the warning ... mock shooting included.

    Waving From the Cloud of Witnesses: Dorothy Day

    The Christian life is certainly a paradox. The teaching of St. John of the Cross (which was for beginners, he said) is of the necessity for detachment from creatures; of the need of traveling light through the dark night.

    Most of us have not the courage to set out on this path wholeheartedly, so God arranges it for us...

    We try to escape, of course, either habitually or occasionally. But we never can. The point I want to make is that a woman can achieve the highest spirituality and union with God through her house and children, through doing her work, which leaves her no time for thought of self, for consolation, for prayer, for reading, for what she might consider development. She is being led along the path of growth inevitably. But she needs to be told these things, instructed in these things, for her hope and endurance, so that she may use whatever prayer she can to cry out in the darkness of the night.

    Here is her mortification of the senses:

    Her eyes are affronted by disorders, confusion, the sight of human ailments and human functions. Her nose also; her ears tormented with discordant cries, her appetite failing often; her sense of touch in agony from fatigue and weakness.

    Her interior senses are also mortified. She is also with her little ones, her interest adapted to theirs; she has not even the companionship of books. She has no longer the gay companions of her youth (their nerves can't stand it). So she has solitude, and a silence form the sounds she'd like to hear -- conversation, music, discussion.

    Of course there are consolations and joys. Babies and small children are pure beauty, love, joy -- the truest in this world. But the thorns are there -- of night watches, of illnesses, of infant perversities and contrariness. There are glimpses of heaven and hell.
    On Pilgrimage by Dorothy Day
    I like that point about God arranging for us what we need in our everyday life. We must be open to it so that we can take full advantage of what we are being offered though. Otherwise it is just inconvenience, pain, and suffering without any of the redemptive possibilities being used.

    I am greatly indebted to the friend who, upon hearing that I was not fond of Dorothy Day, sent me this book as well as Praying in the Presence of Our Lord: With Dorothy Day by David Scott, which largely consists of quotes by Day. I also would like to add that Scott's introduction about Day's life is the only one I have ever read that was not a turn off.

    I had begun to suspect it was not so much that I did not like Dorothy Day as that I had never read anything that she had written, but only things that others wrote about her. Reading these books proved that suspicion to be correct. Dorothy in person is nothing like the persona presented by others, who I had begun to mentally label "Social Justice Dorothy." Reading her is like looking at a Catholic Madeleine l'Engle whose books about her life and faith I find interesting and inspiring but incomplete.

    Both books are highly recommended.

    Tuesday, October 10, 2006

    Feeling Blue? Try This.

    Guaranteed to put a smile on your face and tears in your eyes (but good tears).

    Monday, October 9, 2006

    The Devil and Me

    I know I have to be careful with the devil. I don't want to shunt off my personal failings onto him -- my evil is my own. Satan won't be around at the judgment to share the blame. But I don't want to discount his power and influence, either. To ignore him is to let him move unseen, which is exactly where he thrives. I don't want to be cocky with him. I sympathize with the old tradition of not saying his name, for fear of giving him an inroad. But neither do I want to cower before him. I believe I have power over him; the thing is not to suppose that the power is my own.
    Swimming with Scapulars by Matthew Lickona

    World's Fastest, and Possibly Most Interesting, History Lesson

    Who has controlled the Middle East over the course of history?

    See it before your eyes in 90 seconds.

    Via TSO.

    The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few ...

    ... that quote never has seemed more meaningful than now, has it? And, frankly, neither has this commentary on it from In Conversation with God.
    Early Christianity grew up in a world which seems very much like our own. It boasted abundant material means but suffered from great spiritual poverty. The early Church had the necessary vigor to protect itself from paganizing influences. It was also vibrant enough to transform a worldly civilization from within. The world today seems no more difficult to evangelize. At first sight it may appear to be closed to Christ. Yet if we are firmly united to the Lord as the first Christians were, we can be sure that the transformation will take place once again. How well are we succeeding in our efforts to transform the people around us, the members of our family, our friends, our colleagues at work?

    The world is in need of many things. But there is no doubt that it is in great need of apostles who are holy, cheerful, loyal to the Church and eager to make Christ known. The Lord is calling for us to work in his fields: Pray, therefore, the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Prayer is the most effective means of winning new apostles (Josemaria Escriva). Our apostolic zeal has to be manifested, first of all, in a continuous prayer of petition for new apostles. Prayer always comes first.

    That cry of the Son of God, lamenting that the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few, is always relevant. How it tears at our heartstrings. That cry came from Christ's mouth for you to hear too. How have you responded to it up to now? Do you pray at least daily for that intention of his? (Josemaria Escriva).

    Saturday, October 7, 2006

    Cool Weather and Monarch Butterflies

    What beautiful weather we are having right now. I actually was comfortable in a long sleeved shirt when standing outside chatting with a friend after Adoration. The cool weather is accompanied by those deep blue skies that just seem to come with Autumn.

    Even better, as we stood we saw one huge, glorious Monarch butterfly after another floating through the air around us. Driving home, sometimes I would see as many as ten in the skies over the road ahead. It must be that annual migration to Mexico coming through ... it is really wonderful to have all those butterflies drifting in and out of your sight everywhere you go.

    Join This Valiant Pro-Life Stand

    Ms. magazine is running the names of 5,000 women who are boasting they had abortions. Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, which publishes Ms.says, "We have to get away from what the politicians are saying and get women's lives back in the picture." They are sending the signatures to Congress, the White House and state legislators.

    Amy Pawlak thinks that we should focus on the lives of the unborn, who are the real victims of abortion, no matter what Ms. Magazine says.
    Help me create a petition that will put the one in Ms. to shame. Email this post to every man and woman you know. Email your names and cities/states to me. I'll compile them and send a petition to Congress - a petition with the names of people who think women (and their unborn children) deserve better than an abortion.

    I want to get more than the 5,000 signatures Ms. is boasting it has...

    ... if you are a woman who considered having an abortion but chose not to, I'd like to hear from you and your story.
    Please do go to her blog to read the entire post.. I will be emailing this to many of my friends and encourage y'all to do the same.

    Friday, October 6, 2006

    No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. (John 15:13)

    Marian Fisher, 13, is said to have stepped forward and asked her killer to "shoot me first," in an apparent effort to buy time for her schoolmates.

    Rita Rhoads, a Mennonite midwife who delivered two of the victims, told ABC News she learned of the girl's plea from her family. What's more, her younger sister, Barbie, who survived the shooting, allegedly asked the gunman, Charles Carl Roberts IV, to "shoot me second," Rhoads said.
    I read this in the morning paper and my eyes filled with tears. What more Christian love could we ever see than those young girls offering themselves in an attempt to save their classmates?

    When I heard of the shooting in the Amish schoolhouse I was horrified just like everyone else. What could be worse than for our modern, scarred society to spill over into a society that is the epitome of innocence? How many times did I hear someone say that those children would have no idea what to do? (What a sorry and revealing fact about our society that our children have been drilled against such a possibility.)

    I was not as upset for the Amish in the aftermath of the tragedy as I have been for the families from other school shootings. Mostly, I think, because I felt that if anyone was equipped to come through horror and loss it would be the Amish who center their lives around God. Yes, it would be terrible to endure but they have God and their community. That is a lot more than I ever felt assured was possessed by survivors of other such events.

    I read about the heroism of those two girls. I thought about the Amish and what an example of living the Christian faith of true forgiveness they are showing our country. I wondered if anyone would see it that way who needed to change their way of life. Most probably would just note it as a noble thing and then forget it.
    He spoke to them another parable. "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened."
    I paged through the rest of the newspaper.

    Never have I felt more ensconced in a decadent society; never more akin to the Christians in first century Rome.

    Here was the review of Martin Scorsese's newest movie, which our family felt sure would have all the gore, violence, and sex that was not included in the original Hong Kong movie he had copied.

    There was the special magazine called something inane like "Be Who You Are" with a photo of Rose O'Donnell and her partner, arms around one another, their wedding rings prominently displayed. Inside was one article after another, featuring as many celebrities as possible, that glorified living the gay lifestyle.

    Reports abounded of trials for all sorts of horrible crimes, many committed against the most vulnerable in our society. It went on and on.

    All this was against a backdrop of those two girls offering up their lives for their friends. Never had it been so glaringly obvious that it is important for Christians to remain the leaven, the yeast, that Christ called for. We are called to be the witnesses through our actions and our words that there is a way of freedom that many have forgotten; that some truths are absolute.
    I can say that I never knew what joy was like until I gave up pursuing happiness, or cared to live until I chose to die. For these two discoveries I am beholden to Jesus.
    Malcolm Muggeridge
    I daresay that all Christians recognize the absolute truth in Muggeridge's words. The mystery is that just as they contain absolute truth, that truth is translated in different ways to different people ... God deals with each of our unique souls in the way that we understand best.

    We can't tell from moment to moment in what way we will be called to witness to that truth. If it is simply through living a Christian life as best we can by not snarling at the person who cuts into line ahead of us on a bad day, speaking up to a close friend about a touchy subject that may change forever how they view us, or stepping up to offer ourselves as a sacrifice.

    That is the way that we make sure those who need the message aren't allowed to forget the example they are being given by the grieving but forgiving Amish. We repeat it over and over and over ... through our actions, our words, and our lives. Until they are encountering Christ's truth and love everywhere they turn.

    It is not easy. Especially since sometimes the people that need to be reminded so desperately of Christ are the ones we see in the mirror. But we are called to be saints. Both for our own sakes and that of the people around us.

    Those two girls were superbly equipped to live Christ's truth in every way. I pray that my own children are as well equipped for the trials they encounter in their lives. I pray that I am.

    Oranges and Practical Christianity

    "...Some of the old ones still refuse to see that my method is better than theirs. The only thing that will convince them is when I get three oranges to their one, and sell them for twice the price because they are full of juice. But we'll show them in the end."

    "You puzzle me," said Meredith frankly.


    "What have oranges got to do with the human soul?"

    "Everything," said the bishop flatly. "You can't cut a man in two and polish up his soul while you throw his body in the trash heap. If the Almighty had designed him that way, he would have made him a biped who carried his soul in a bag round his neck. If reason and revelation mean anything they mean that a man works out his salvation in the body by the use of material things. A neglected tree, a second-rate fruit are defects in the divine scheme of things. Unnecessary misery is an even greater defect because it is an impediment to salvation. When you don't know where your next meal is coming from, how can you think or care about the state of your soul? Hunger has no morals, my friend."
    The Devil's Advocate by Morris L. West

    Thursday, October 5, 2006

    What is Adoration?

    Now that's a good question and one that I didn't think to explain when mentioning that I'd take prayer requests this weekend when I go to Adoration.
    Eucharistic adoration is a practice in the Roman Catholic and some Anglican Churches, in which the Blessed Sacrament is exposed to and adored by the faithful. When this exposure and adoration is constant (that is, twenty-four hours a day), it is called perpetual adoration. In a parish, this is usually done by volunteer parishioners; in a monastery or convent, it is done by the resident monks or nuns...

    The host is displayed in a monstrance, typically placed on an altar. The Blessed Sacrament may not actually be exposed, but left in a ciborium, which is likewise placed on an altar. This exposition usually occurs in the context of a service of Benediction or similar service of devotions to the Blessed Sacrament. In services of perpetual adoration, parishioners volunteer to attend for a certain period of time, typically an hour, around the clock. Because of the difficulty of maintaining twenty-four hour attendance, many parishes no longer provide perpetual adoration. In many parishes, the Blessed Sacrament is reserved in an enclosed tabernacle so that the faithful may pray in its presence without the need for volunteers to be in constant attendance (as must be the case when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed).
    This is all based around the Catholic belief that the Eucharist is the body and blood, soul and divinity of Christ. So when you sit with the Eucharist, you are sitting with Jesus Himself. (Much more information can be found here.)

    I remember being intensely curious about this practice about three years ago. I ordered and read No Wonder They Call It the Real Presence: Lives Changed by Christ In Eucharistic Adoration which just fueled my curiosity. (I highly recommend that book, by the way. You can read an excerpted chapter here.)

    About three weeks after I finished reading the book I had an opportunity for Adoration and the result was ... nothing. Oh, it was peaceful and nice but that was all.

    Upon subsequent occasions I have had much more of a connection, words popping into the back of my mind, answers to questions about a course of action to take, the sort of thing that leave my husband shaking his head. He is not exactly disbelieving but just ... shakes his head. He's used to my crazy ways. I don't need adoration for that. It happens quite frequently in front of the tabernacle during Mass.

    You can simply sit peacefully with Jesus the entire time, read a devotional book, write in a journal, that sort of thing. It depends on the person. No matter what, the experience is one of peace. That is pretty much a universal result. And if you mention that to my husband he won't move his head at all ... except to nod in agreement!

    All Those Initials

    A reader asks:
    Could you explain all the initials some of the Catholic groups use. I know SJ is for Jesuits, and OSB is for the order of St Francis but what is OP and are there others??
    I, myself, have wondered that same thing from time to time. It is like a secret code.

    Gradually I picked up on the fact that SJ does not stand for Social Justice as one might think from many Jesuits' writing but is for Society of Jesus (aka Jesuits).

    On Wikipedia I found OSB means Order of Saint Benedict.

    However, I was unable to find a source that has a list of all those various initials that orders string behind their names. Granted I did not put tons of time into it but did look around Catholic Encyclopedia, Wikipedia and Google.

    Anyone know of a good spot to find those? Or perhaps we should compile a list here and I'll stow it away for future reference?

    Ask and you shall receive ... what knowledgable commenters we have here!

    Living in the Present Moment

    ... We can waste our time by doing whatever we want instead of what God wants. For example, we might spend time at our place of work when we are needed at home. Conversely, we might choose to read the newspaper when we should be working. The life of each man and woman exists in the present moment. these are the only moments which we can truly sanctify. The past and the future only exist in our imagination. The memory of our past can inspire us to acts of contrition or thanksgiving, yet even these prayers take place in the reality of the present.

    We should not become overwrought by future events because they may not come to pass. In any event, we will have the grace of God when we need it. The secret to building the city of God within us is this: we have to build on a brick by brick basis in the reality of the present moment. (Ch. Lubich, Meditations) This is the only time which God gives us to sanctify. Hodie, nunc. We must live the present moment with love, with full concentration. What a wonderful offering this will be to the Lord! Let us not miss this opportunity.
    This was a big hurdle for me to overcome. I have a vivid imagination and could bring myself to tears quite easily by imaging a future where Tom and the girls were gone, etc. So silly of me but there you go. By keeping the above precepts in mind my life has been much simpler ... and it gets easier with time and practice, y'all.

    Wednesday, October 4, 2006

    I Don't Know About Y'All But We're Ready for Lost

    A little something for everyone in that photo, eh? Also, Kate is supposed to be finally choosing between Jack and Sawyer. Word is that she chooses Sawyer since a mystery woman is going to take up all of Jack's time. Let me think, Jack or Sawyer? No contest, even if Sawyer is a frog squasher ... I'd take that bad boy any time over boring Jack.

    The Baby's Father? Uhhh ... Zeus! That's It, Zeus!

    Listening to History According to Bob, it turns out that was a common claim in the Greek days for unwed mothers who became pregnant. This seems to me to be a little tough on the child as far as the great expectations that would surely accompany a god's son later in life, but what a clever story for the unwed mother to produce!

    St. Francis is So Holy ...

    ... he intercedes for us with God when we've done something to his beloved animals like this ...

    and this...

    and this ...

    For the scoop on St. Francis on his feast day, and tributes from those who are more reverent than I, check out Georgette who has four really good posts about St. Francis.

    Also swing by Laura H's to see some more good posts about St. Francis. Especially of note are the avatars Laura made of this much loved saint.

    2 Corinthians Study: Our Union With Jesus' Sufferings

    2 Corinthians 1:8-11
    I always have meant to study one of the books of the New Testament besides the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles but never have. Luckily I was given 2 Corinthians: Power in Weakness (Six Weeks With the Bible) and that gave me the impetus to dig out my other reference books to start going through 2 Corinthians. How interesting that this is Paul's most personal book and that it focuses so much on suffering.

    As always, I'll be sharing those bits and pieces that hit me between the eyes such as the commentary below which is from the above mentioned book. I especially like the point it makes about our feelings. I think sometimes that we think that feeling bad about something is like a lack of faith and trust in God. Paul is our example that such thinking is not right.
    It may be easier to see God's kingdom advancing in the world through Paul's suffering than through ours. Constantly making missionary journeys and enduring persecution, Paul labors and suffers in his apostolic efforts to bring the good news about Jesus to people. Very few of us have Paul's focused sense of Christian mission. Our hardships and pains tend to be more ordinary, less "apostolic" than Paul's. Rather than being arrested and beaten for preaching the gospel, we lose a job or a loved one, or suffer rejection by a spouse or child, or develop a debilitating disease. Can these sufferings be a sharing in Jesus' suffering? They can, because Jesus has united us with himself. Because we are united with him by faith and baptism, we are members of his body. Thus he shares the sufferings encounter, and our sufferings become ways of sharing in his sufferings -- and opportunities to experience his encouragement.

    Often, when things go wrong, we do not feel close to the Lord. But notice that Paul does not say that in his recent troubles he felt a powerful sense of connection with Jesus. Actually, he says that he felt "utterly, unbearably crushed" (1:8). It does not sound as if he had a sense of close attachment to Jesus then -- or, if he did, it does not seem to have given him serenity. For Paul, as for us, suffering is suffering. Sometimes what is most painful for us is the apparent absence of the kind God who previously showered us with blessings. In some cases -- the sickness of infants, for example -- we may simply be incapable of imagining how God might ever use such suffering for good. But again, Paul does not suggest that we can always grasp how our sufferings are a sharing in Christ's or how they will serve the coming of his kingdom.

    It may be worth reflecting that, if our union with Jesus' sufferings is unseen and deeply mysterious, that does not make it different in principle from every other aspect of our relationship with him. In the Christian life, we always proceed on the basis of faith...