Thursday, May 31, 2007

Tomorrow is First Friday

Just a reminder for those of us who are fasting for an end to abortion. Tomorrow's the day!

Bread From Heaven

The most recent of the series that has been running in our bulletin with excerpts from Sacramentum Caritatis
The Blessed Trinity and the Eucharist

The bread come down from heaven7. The first element of eucharistic faith is the mystery of God himself, trinitarian love. In Jesus’ dialogue with Nicodemus, we find an illuminating expression in this regard: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him” (Jn 3:16-17). These words show the deepest source of God’s gift. In the Eucharist Jesus does not give us a “thing,” but himself; he offers his own body and pours out his own blood. He thus gives us the totality of his life and reveals the ultimate origin of this love. He is the eternal Son, given to us by the Father. In the Gospel we hear how Jesus, after feeding the crowds by multiplying the loaves and fishes, says to those who had followed him to the synagogue of Capernaum: “My Father gives you the true bread from heaven; for the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world” (Jn 6:32-33), and even identifies himself, his own flesh and blood, with that bread: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh” (Jn 6:51). Jesus thus shows that he is the bread of life which the eternal Father gives to mankind.


In this passage Pope Benedict XVI traces the connection between Jesus and the Eucharist. In so doing, he makes it easier for us to understand the source of the apostles’ faith in Jesus as “the bread of life come down from heaven.” Their faith is the same that has been passed to us 2,000 years later and it is good to be reminded of the original sources. If we take the time to go read the scriptural references for ourselves they come to life even more as we see the context.

We also are reminded that God’s generosity to us knows no bounds. In the Eucharist Jesus does not give us a “thing,” but himself; he offers his own body and pours out his own blood. As Saint Catherine of Siena says, “We are purchased not with gold, nor merely with love’s sweetness, but with blood.” Jesus gives literally everything that he has and is. What is more, he does it every time Mass is celebrated which is something to contemplate before we go to Holy Communion.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Those random associated thoughts ...

... so I'm at my bank ATM this morning, right next to SMU, when I see a gaggle of high school cheerleaders walking to the campus. I remember that there's an annual cheerleading training camp that takes place for 4-5 days.

And then Rick Lugari comes to mind ... hmmm ....

Knitting a Dishcloth

Ever since I read in Mason-Dixon Knitting that they regularly knit dishcloths, I have been consumed by curiosity. How could that possibly work? Would the dishcloth actually be functional?

The driving urge to answer these questions was fueled by the fact that no matter where I look I can't find a dishcloth that isn't huge (maybe 10"x10"?) and also quite heavy. Quite difficult to get into little nooks and crannies of various utensils, lids, and so forth. I realize these things must be part of some sort of a general trend but all I wanted was the old style dishcloths that used to be so easy to pick up at the grocery store ... maybe 6"x6" and fairly thin so it is easy to manipulate in the sink.

Finally, this weekend I dropped into our local crafts shop, picked up a nice, inexpensive ball of Peaches and Creme all cotton yarn and took it home for experimentation.

Lo and behold, it worked! I cast on 30 stitches onto size 8 needles, knit up a half-linen stitch 6"x6" square, bound off, and tried it out. It was just what I wanted, bumpy enough to do good scrubbing, yet flexible and small enough to get to every corner that needed scrubbing. Tom washed the dishes last night (what a guy!) and also gave it the thumbs up.

It is the small victories that make everyday life fun. This small victory is good for many days as I look for more stitches to try out with my little square of cotton dishcloths.


Unborn Word of the Day: Michele Peate has begun a blog with the intention of:
Honoring the Unborn Christ Child, promoting the Gospel of Life, one day at a time… Each day you will find an inspirational pro-life quote of the day, with special emphasis on the Unborn Christ Child and the great hope we have in Him. Feel free to participate with comments, suggestions, and ideas!
She is the wife of author George Peate whose Unborn Jesus, Our Hope has been mentioned before here and here.

  • I am thrilled that Roz and Therese Z. at Exultet are back! These two have provided me with much inspiration in the past.
  • Remember Enbrethliel (sp?)? She's baaaaack ... just in a different setting.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day: With Many Thanks to Those Who Gave All For Us

I really have nothing to offer besides my whole hearted thanks and gratitude to those who gave their lives for their country.

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

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

Abraham Lincoln described our country, in his message to Congress in 1862, as the "last best hope of earth."
  • Memorial Day and the Mirror of Hope: Siggy says it well.
    ... There are really only two ways you can hurt someone. Take away their dignity or take away their hope. When a tyranny oppress a citizen, they take away dignity. When that oppressed citizen no longer believes that there are free and good people who care about them, there are left without hope. What is hope? Well, it is an average American, from an average place, that put on a uniform and fought to liberate oppressed people -- and then went home. ...
  • Moving tribute from an Englishman (via The Anchoress):
    ... when the Americans speak of freedom, we should not imagine, in our cynical and worldly-wise way, that they are merely using that word as a cloak for realpolitik. They are not above realpolitik, but they also mean what they say.

    These formidable people think freedom is so valuable that it is worth dying for.
  • If you want to look at a good way to connect this day to our faith, Way of the Fathers has just the ticket.

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

Saturday, May 26, 2007

What Tom's Reading

Just for a change of pace ... and so that y'all know what little tidbits of information I am being fed over time. He recommends both highly.

The Physics of Superheroes by James Kakalios
Evidently comic books get their physics right more times than not. Although I never heard of Ant Man or Atom Man until now ... and I now know just how Spider Man got his start. The physics is presented in easy-to-understand terms and is fascinating.

Great Tales from English History: The Truth About King Arthur, Lady Godiva, Richard the Lionheart, and More by Robert Lacey
I got this for Tom for his birthday and, flipping through it, was disappointed to see that it had in it what everybody already knew. Actually, that turned out not to be the case. Instead I should have been thrilled at how much English history I have inadvertently absorbed while reading a lot of theology. The interesting thing about this book, is that while I have impressed Tom by knowing the big picture about obscure historical figures, Lacey has all kinds of little details that I hadn't come across. Short chapters make this Tom's reading when taking a break from the physics book.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

A Mystery to Be Believed

Another from the weekly installments that have been appearing in our church bulletin. I can't believe I forgot to post this until now. I really have been enjoying the way that this is taking us through the document so slowly ... it makes me really think about each paragraph.
The Eucharist:
A Mystery to Be Believed

“This is the work of God: that you believe in him whom he has sent” (Jn 6:29)

The Church’s eucharistic faith
6. “The mystery of faith!” With these words, spoken immediately after the words of consecration, the priest proclaims the mystery being celebrated and expresses his wonder before the substantial change of bread and wine into the body and blood of the Lord Jesus, a reality which surpasses all human understanding. The Eucharist is a “mystery of faith” par excellence: “the sum and summary of our faith.” (13) The Church’s faith is essentially a eucharistic faith, and it is especially nourished at the table of the Eucharist. Faith and the sacraments are two complementary aspects of ecclesial* life. Awakened by the preaching of God’s word, faith is nourished and grows in the grace-filled encounter with the Risen Lord which takes place in the sacraments: “faith is expressed in the rite, while the rite reinforces and strengthens faith.” (14) For this reason, the Sacrament of the Altar is always at the heart of the Church’s life: “thanks to the Eucharist, the Church is reborn ever anew!” (15) The more lively the eucharistic faith of the People of God, the deeper is its sharing in ecclesial life in steadfast commitment to the mission entrusted by Christ to his disciples. The Church’s very history bears witness to this. Every great reform has in some way been linked to the rediscovery of belief in the Lord’s eucharistic presence among his people.


The “mystery of faith” that is the Eucharist is something that we may not really consider much when in the habit of going to Mass regularly. It is human nature for us to become dulled to splendor when it is presented time after time. However, Pope Benedict reminds us that we are participating in a reality that “surpasses all human understanding” in the Eucharist. We actually are partaking of the body and blood, soul and divinity, of Jesus Christ himself. Indeed, how is it possible to adequately understand such a thing? The answer is that we cannot understand it, at least not with the ordinary comprehension that we apply to everyday things.

Saint Augustine said, “I believe, that I may understand.” Our understanding of the Eucharist grows not through any proof or scientific understanding but because of God’s grace. By partaking in the sacraments which nourish our faith and keeping the fact of this “mystery” in our minds during the Mass we may be privileged to see just a bit better when Heaven comes to earth as the Eucharist comes to us during Holy Communion.
(13) Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1327.
(14) Propositio 16.
(15) Benedict XVI, Homily at the Mass of Installation in the Cathedral of Rome (7 May 2005): AAS 97 (2005), 752.
* Ecclesial: of or relating to a church

Tails Tales from the animal clinic

Hannah is finishing up her first week as a general assistant at a local veterinarian's clinic. She says that most of her duties consist of holding animals during examinations and walking dogs. However, the vet who hired her (there are four in the practice) enjoys training students and eventually wants her to assist some with surgeries. With that in mind, she has been an observer at three surgeries so far and covered herself with glory by not fainting although she has had to avert her gaze much of the time (understandably, I'd say!).

We get plenty of stories about individual animals, interactions with the office staff, and observations of the different ways to think about animals. All in all it is very good experience, especially for someone who is majoring in wildlife and fisheries. If there was possibly a veneer of excessive sentimentality toward animals in general it will be tempered with a layer of "real world" by the end of the summer. As someone who spent part of her childhood in the country where animals are valued but known for their proper place in the world, this pleases me.

Coming up: Dishing from the Cafe as Rose begins her new job next week bussing tables at a small 10-table cafe for a realistic sounding owner who is used to training high school students.

And the Learning Continues ...

Scroll down for update on this post.
In the Catechism of the Catholic Church we read:

“Thanks to the assistance of the Holy Spirit, the understanding of both the realities and the words of the heritage of faith is able to grow in the life of the church:

-through the contemplation and study of believers who ponder these things in their hearts it is in particular theological research which deepens knowledge of revealed truth.

-from the intimate sense of spiritual realities which [believers] experience, the Sacred Scripture grow with the one who reads them…” (#94)
I often don't check the comments for the blogs I visit. If you are like that too, please make an exception and read those for A Couple of Things I Never Realized Until Now. There is a wealth of good information there.

Possibly I'm the only one who needed the encouragement and instruction taking place there. Reading these comments made for a very inspirational and happy morning for me ... thanks y'all!

The reinforcement that spiritual reading is a religious devotion made me so happy because it is then that my mind and heart thrill to how God reveals Himself to us ... and, most of all, to me. That sudden recognition of spiritual reading as a method of conversation takes it from being an "interest" to being so much more. (I already knew this about the Bible, but never thought about it applying to other reading ... but how would it not? God's everywhere, after all.)
Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins,
Save us from the fires of hell,
Lead all souls to heaven,
Especially those in most need of thy mercy.
I say this prayer quite often and didn't think to connect it with my realization about just who is being prayed for when I pray for the souls in Purgatory who have no one to pray for them. Also check out Rick's comment about praying for the "person who is closest to getting out of Purgatory."

The article about John Lennon was interesting. To me it said not only that John was constantly seeking truth and guidance, sadly finding neither in Yoko, but also that John had an easily influenced nature. Tom and I have been talking recently about a couple of people we know like that. The thing is that if you can realize you are easily influenced, then your duty is to then make sure you keep yourself away from bad influences and only around good ones. Interestingly, he seems to have realized he was "easily led" as the saying goes, but not that Yoko was a terrible influence on him. Very sad.

Although I already was up to speed on Rick's reminder about that "heavenly beverage made of barley, sugar, yeast, hops and water" ... Ben Franklin says that one well.
Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to prosper.
Vehige, the initiator of that surprising idea (to me) of reading as a spiritual devotion, gives his routine and thoughts on practicing this devotion. Good ideas there, check it out.

I forgot to mention that when I am doing spiritual reading (meaning the Bible or the Catechism), I have my own routine. I begin by asking the Holy Spirit to come and instruct me; I use the "Come Holy Spirit prayer:
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.

O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.
That settles my mind on God from the beginning. So I am going to begin saying that prayer before I do my other spiritual reading.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Old World Kitchen

A most interesting cookbook and one that I review here.

Ok, all you John Lennon haters ...

... (we'll toss Yoko in there too), here's the real question.

Are you praying for his soul (and hers too?). He obviously needs it if he arouses all this negative commentary.

If not, get on it. No excuses accepted. :-)

Fill in the Cat

I love this!. Via Neatorama.

A Few of My Latest Crushes ...

This podcast is self-described as:
... as originally broadcast by Westwood One almost 20 years ago. Please note that this podcast is not a rehash of the Lost Lennon Tapes LPs (which excerpted the music only), but consists instead of the original shows (from vinyl and/or tape sources) in their entireties, with narration, interviews, sponsor spots, etc. The sound quality is good, not fantastic, but the content is still as interesting as when it originally aired in the late 80's.
John Lennon was an avid audio collector and had amassed hundreds of hours of audio tapes of different events from his life by the time he died. When going through them, Yoko felt they should be shared and called upon DJ DJ Elliot Mintz, a trusted friend who had interviewed John many times, to help broadcast them. I hadn't ever heard of these, although evidently they are a well known source for bootleg tapes with Mintz's voice edited out. That is a shame because some of his interviews with John are really fascinating.

Indigo Slam by Robert Crais
Last Detective, The by Robert Crais
Monkey's Raincoat, The by Robert Crais
Voodoo River by Robert Crais

As people may remember from my ravings over Les Roberts' books, I am a big fan of the hard boiled detective. My latest discovery is Robert Crais' Hollywood-based Elvis Cole. First of all, you've gotta love the name. Secondly, the Hollywood base makes for an interesting background. It is not glamorous. Quite the contrary, we see the sleazy underside to the slick facade that the movie industry would like to present to the world. However, Cole's cases are not entirely based in show business and he often has to travel in pursuit of the truth.

Sometimes a hard boiled detective (who almost always has a heart of gold) has a sidekick, sometimes not. The side-kick generally is harder, tougher, and less merciful than the detective. This is not always the case, as with Travis McGee's sidekick (John D. MacDonald, author), the kind and gentle Meyer who needs McGee to protect him when they come up against villains.

Sidekicks also often act as comic relief since they often know the detective better than he knows himself. My favorite sidekick is without question is Hawk, Spencer's sidekick (Robert Parker, author). Cole's sidekick, Joe Pike, is a thoroughly violent fellow, who has toned down any personality to the point where a twitch of the mouth is like a belly-laugh. That's a little too reticent for him to be an interesting character to me. However, he also is an efficient sounding board.
I said, "She hired me to do one thing, and now I'm doing another. She hired me with every expectation that I would protect her interests, but now I'm taking this in a direction in which her interests are secondary."

We ran past a high school and shopping centers, Pike and me on our side of the street and the black runner on his, our strides matching. Pike said nothing for several minutes, and I found comfort in the loud silence. The sounds of our breathing. Our shoes striking the pavement. A metronome rhythm. Pike said, "You didn't fail her. You gave her an opportunity for love."

I glanced over at him.

"You can't put something into her heart that isn't there, Elvis. Love is not so plentiful that any of us can afford to reject it when it's offered. That's her failing. Not yours."

"It's not easy for her, Joe. For a lot of very good reasons."

"Maybe." ...

The light changed. Pike and I pushed on, and the miles crept behind us and the night grew late. We came to a park of soccer fields and softball diamonds, and we turned north, running along the western edge of the fields, and then west again, heading back to the river and the hotel. We had been running for almost an hour. We would run an hour still. Pike said, "Are you still thinking about her?"


"Then think about this. You've taken her as far as is right. Wherever she's going, she has to get the rest of the way on her own. That's not only the way it is. That's the way it should be."

"Sure Joe. Thanks."

He grunted. Philosophy-R-Us. "Now stop thinking about her and start thinking about Rossier. If you don't get your head out your ass, Rossier will kill you."

"You always know how to end the moment on an upbeat note, don't you?"

"That's why I get the big bucks."
Voodoo River by Robert Crais
Moment of Truth by Lisa Scottoline
Killer Smile by Lisa Scottoline

I am not generally a fan of John Grisham style stories where the lawyer solves the mystery, although I must admit that Runaway Jury, based on one of his novels, is a favorite movie. However, these two books by former trial lawyer Scottoline won my heart with their portrayal of lawyer Mary DiNunzio. She's a Philly girl, born and raised, with Italian Catholic parents living in a row house. These are a softer style than someone like Grisham or Scott Turow but the mysteries are good and the character development pleasing. Scottoline writes about other characters from the same all female law firm Rosato and Associates and I'm curious to see if I like the other characters as well as Mary DiNunzio. Fun, lawyerly fluff and perfect summer reading.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me ... from Doubleday

Yep. That's right, Jesus of Nazareth showed up in the mail from Doubleday. I was cooking dinner and Rose opened the box for me while I excitedly told her to "Hurry!" I had to stop stir-frying chicken right then and there and dance while Rose read the front jacket flap in her best Ten Commandments trailer voice.

I won't be able to begin reading it until tomorrow (discipline is good for me, I must remember that). But I can't wait.

(My birthday isn't until Friday, but I'll take this as a birthday gift anyway!)

As the Blog Turns ...

Actually, the show I just was watching is called Blogs of Our Lives ...

Adoro te Devote took the time to introduce us to the characters in her favorite soap opera. I was quite surprised and pleased to show up as the friendly, cookie baking, down home neighbor. (Let me just set this knitting down and pour you another cup of coffee ...) Check it out. She's got quite a turn for story telling and you might find some blogs you haven't run into yet.

Spiritual Attack and St. Michael's Help

Oh yes. I believe in spiritual attacks, and I believe that I have been spiritually attacked.

I do not think such attacks are rare. But I think the devils rarely use the showy stuff. Why shout when whispering will do? And when they bring out the showy stuff they risk calling too much attention to their own existence...
Peony made that comment over at Et Tu, Jen on a post which was soliciting questions about whether spiritual attacks were real or imaginary. That has always been my experience also, of the small temptations. Sometimes, oddly enough, I actually can step back mentally, look at my feelings and behavior and recognize that I am being "pushed" to think one way or another ... or at least it feels like it. That is enough for me to be able to shove the thoughts and emotions away and move on. Now, if only I could always recognize such times ... or did not contribute myself without any spiritual attacks at all. Oh well ...

As for the quite spectacular spiritual attacks, I have never been privy to those. Thank the Lord! I believe I mentioned Recovering Dissident Catholic's post about a spiritual attack. It linked to a story of attack that I remembered, that of Adoro Te Devote's encounter via tarot cards. They are quite frightening accounts.

Then on Saturday night I had a nightmare that was so vivid, so evil, so completely horrifying that I woke up terrified to even turn my head in case I would see what I had been dreaming about. I am used to bad dreams. I remember many of my dreams and quite a few have to do with stressful situations or even scary things. Everyone in our family is used to hearing that I had another "haunted house" dream. These come out in times of extreme stress.

This was different. I have never been so terrified. Somehow I was both wakeful and also half asleep. Every time I began to sink back into sleep the dream would pick up at the same exact spot that scared me awake in the first place so I would pop awake and away from it instantly. The first thing that flashed across my mind when I woke was "attack" and never has anyone so fervently prayed Hail Mary's, Our Father's, and ... especially ... the St. Michael prayer. This was the prayer that finally did it for me. I could see, in my mind's eye, St. Michael and my guardian angel with large, business-like swords held high in a state of readiness. And when I went back to sleep the dream continued but in a more normal fashion.

Was it a spiritual attack? Or just a very vivid dream? I don't know. However, whatever it was I never have been thrown into the arms of prayer such as I was that night.

I was unsettled and upset the entire day which is also not a normal occurance. I know a dream is just a dream and don't let them bother me later. I was afraid to go to sleep last night. Tom, bless his heart, felt for me (although I didn't mention the "spiritual attack" factor that kept flashing through my mind) and whenever I woke up in the night, he did too, asking, "A bad dream? Are you ok?" What a guy!

Before I went to sleep I said the St. Michael prayer and also put my guardian angel on alert. No problems at all. Normal sleep and dreams resumed.

This is a prayer that it is good to know no matter what sorts of dreams you have. If I can memorize it then so can you, believe me!

St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

We Have a Word For It ... And Here's Why

A little brand name info, courtesy of the Word Origin Calendar.
The German car company by this name was founded in 1899 by August Horch. Horch, however, was prevented from using his own name in this company because of trademark conflicts with his first company, which he had named after himself. Therefore, he translated the German word horch, which means "to listen," into Latin, yielding "Audi."

This giant electronics company got its name from its first generation camera. Produced in 1934 in Japan, the camera was called the Kwanon, a Japanese name for a Buddhist goddess. A year later, the name was changed to its modern spelling so that the product would not seem too old fashioned.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Friday, May 18, 2007

Stitch 'N Pitch Nights

Stitch N' Pitch brings together two American traditions — Baseball and the NeedleArts. Come to a ball game and knit, crochet, embroider, cross-stitch and needlepoint. Sit among friends, family and colleagues and cheer on your favorite Baseball Team.

This event is for ANYONE who has an interest in the perfect double play — NeedleArts and Baseball; beginners, intermediate and experts are all welcome.
You can check out the scheduled nights and teams here.

Me? Mmmm, no way. But I know there are tons of baseball fans out there. Now, football ... that would be something I'd consider.

Thanks to Catholic Mom for this heads-up!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

8 Random Things About Me

Nick tagged me with this one. I'm not sure how random these will be because y'all already know a lot of my random stuff but here goes:
  1. I always preferred real food for breakfast ... soup, sandwiches, leftovers ... and still prefer a quesadilla or bagel with pimiento cheese to cereal or pancakes.
  2. I read around 700 words per minute ... if I'm pushing it for the test it will go up to around 900.
  3. You can read while washing dishes ... and knitting ... and brushing your teeth ... and cooking ... I do it all the time.
  4. I'm a Jayhawk
  5. I have green/brown hazel eyes
  6. I had pneumonia for two weeks when I was in 6th grade.
  7. I'm afraid of the dark.
  8. My favorite color was blue for most of my life but for about three years ago it changed to green.

See This Afghan?

Yep, the one on this book cover. This is the one that Rose would like me to make for her. Who can blame her? It looks fantastic.

However, I think I'd better start now because this is likely to be a lengthy project ... in two years I can give it to her to begin her sophomore year in college.

(By the way, I picked Cables Untangled: An Exploration of Cable Knitting up from the library and it looks really good. The author does have a tendency to want to cover every square inch of any sweaters with as many cables as possible which always looks rather crowded to me. Also, there is that tendency to give aas many of the instructions as possible using charts instead of written instructions. Naturally, having learned to read patterns long ago when everything was written out I understand that method much better than those darned charts. However, aside from those little quibbles, it has some nice, simple projects and all the explanations are good. I have never been afraid of cables and enjoy the variety they add to a project, but this book looks as if it would still the fear that I hear lurks in the hearts of beginners ... for expert instruction in mastering the art of cables give this book a try.)

In other afghan knitting news, I finished Hannah's afghan a couple of days ago, washed and dried it ... and it held together! Exciting! I'm trying to remember to take a photo to post ...

Thinking Blogger Award

Much thanks to Jean at Catholic Fire (another favorite "thinking blogger of mine) who graciously gave me a Thinking Blogger award. Now if only she lived close enough that we could actually sit down to that cup of coffee and piece of pie (make mine cherry!).

In turn, here are my thinking bloggers which I carefully compiled earlier. Thanks again Jean!

They Have a Word for It ... And We Don't

Biritululo (Kiriwana, New Guinea)
Comparing yams to settle disputes. In New Guinean culture, the code of behavior is that nobody talks about what everybody knows concerning sensitive subjects. Breaking this code results in violent disputes. They present their yams at these moments. Yams are so important in Kiriwana that people boast about their own supply to the point of violence. Settling the fights with yam displays calms everyone down.
This puts a new take on "mine is bigger than yours" ... though I never understood that argument either.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Walking With the Dead

Felix Faure (1841-1899), the sixth president of the French Republic who, in true Belle Epoque spirit, dies in the arms of his mistress -- endearing him to the French populace in a way that his policies never did. His bronze figure is raised slightly and turning as if, waking, he can't figure out where his paramour has gone.
Permanent Parisians
There is something that I simply love about wandering through graveyards, reading the headstones and looking at the monuments. I picked up this love from my mother who I remember wandering graveyards with on a vacation trip to New England. Later, when I visited Europe, New Orleans, and Galveston, all of which have a generous sprinkling of fascinating graveyard monuments, I wandered whenever I could through the memorials. Some tell their own sad story of disaster when many family members are buried within days of each other or similar tragedy when a newborn and mother are laid side by side in the same week. However, part of the fascination is wondering about the lives of those who went before us.

Perhaps my lifelong attraction to cemeteries is the reason I dearly love to occasionally reread this series of books. They are illustrated guides to some of the interesting cemeteries of the London, Paris, New York, California, and Italy. Written with charm and verve, the authors guide readers and potential sightseers amongst interesting, unusual, and famous grave memorials of the famous and anonymous. The photographs are in black and white but still retain their appeal.
Before settling down to his arduous labors Darwin set about finalizing his one decisive prescription: "Marry, marry, marry. Q.E.D." His choice was Emma Wedgewood; not surprising since the Darwins and Wedgwoods seemed always to be marrying one another. It was a case where "the perfect nurse had married the perfect patient," for Darwin was frequently ill. With age his complaints grew worse and he spent more time in illness and convalescence. It has never been clear whether Darwin's illness was more or less hypochondriasis. Certainly he loved the attention of his doting Emma as did their many children who were also not loath to be sick.

Darwin's children grew up true Darwinians. They could hardly not, for the house smelled for eight years of the barnacles Charles was busy noting and dissecting, causing one of the young children to inquire about a neighbor, "Then where does he do his barnacles?" ...
Permanent Londoners
Much of the undeniable entertainment of these books is from the prose stylings of the authors who somehow maintain a careful balance between respect for the dead and an irreverent enjoyment of poking holes in any pretensions of those who history has put on a pedestal. In the meanwhile, the reader is absorbing quite a bit of history in a most enjoyable fashion. We discover little tidbits about famous personalities that never would have gotten across otherwise. Especially entertaining is the sometimes incongruous juxtaposition of final resting places for those who were rivals when alive which, of course, the authors lose no time in pointing out. Occasionally, not much is known about the person buried but the memorial is so memorable that it is shown and described in detail. Highly recommended.

Behind the Newcastles, in the small Chapel of St. Michael, is hidden one of the more extraordinary monuments of the Abbey. Executed by Louis Francois Roubillac, it is a memorial to Lady Elizabeth Nightingale (1704-1731) who died after a miscarriage. Lady Nightingale languishes while her horrified husband, Joseph Gascoigne Nightingale, supports her and tries to stave off Death's poisoned dart with his upraised hand. Death, attacking from beneath them, is a dramatic enshrouded skeleton. It is said, with perhaps more hope than truth, that a burglar who once broke into Westminster Abbey saw the scene and fled, terrified.
Permanent Londoners

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


I wasn't that fond of the book. It was rather predictable. However, the movie trailer looks really great.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Sacramentum Caritatis: Truth and Freedom

Continuing the series that began last week in our church bulletin, here is the second excerpt. I thought I'd share it again ...

I was particularly struck by this: “Jesus is the lodestar of human freedom: without him, freedom loses its focus, for without the knowledge of truth, freedom becomes debased, alienated and reduced to empty caprice. With him, freedom finds itself.” This is true in so many ways in our lives. If we aren't basing what we do on the truth that is Jesus, we are basing everything on a false base ... like the man who built his house on sand.
The Eucharist:
The food of truth
2. In the sacrament of the altar, the Lord meets us, men and women created in God’s image and likeness (cf. Gen 1:27), and becomes our companion along the way. In this sacrament, the Lord truly becomes food for us, to satisfy our hunger for truth and freedom. Since only the truth can make us free (cf. Jn 8:32), Christ becomes for us the food of truth. With deep human insight, Saint Augustine clearly showed how we are moved spontaneously, and not by constraint, whenever we encounter something attractive and desirable. Asking himself what it is that can move us most deeply, the saintly Bishop went on to say: “What does our soul desire more passionately than truth?” (2) Each of us has an innate and irrepressible desire for ultimate and definitive truth. The Lord Jesus, “the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6), speaks to our thirsting, pilgrim hearts, our hearts yearning for the source of life, our hearts longing for truth. Jesus Christ is the Truth in person, drawing the world to himself. “Jesus is the lodestar of human freedom: without him, freedom loses its focus, for without the knowledge of truth, freedom becomes debased, alienated and reduced to empty caprice. With him, freedom finds itself.” (3) In the sacrament of the Eucharist, Jesus shows us in particular the truth about the love which is the very essence of God. It is this evangelical truth which challenges each of us and our whole being. For this reason, the Church, which finds in the Eucharist the very centre of her life, is constantly concerned to proclaim to all, opportune importune (cf. 2 Tim 4:2), that God is love.(4) Precisely because Christ has become for us the food of truth, the Church turns to every man and woman, inviting them freely to accept God’s gift.


When we find something wonderful and true, what is the first thing that we do? We rush to tell our friends about it. We can’t wait to share it with others. Indeed, we know from scripture that this is the case quite often when people met Jesus. He is the ultimate truth and word spread quickly everywhere he went. Andrew immediately went to tell his brother, Simon Peter (John 1:40-43). Philip went to tell Nathaniel and bring him to Jesus (John 1: 44-46). Surely, as St. Augustine says above, this is because we all passionately desire the truth. When we actually find truth it is such a revelation to our longing hearts that we want others to know of this treasure also. No wonder the Church constantly proclaims that the Eucharist, the Christ, is there for all to know. The truth, in fact freedom itself, is there in our midst.

There is much food for thought packed into this single paragraph. Reading slowly, phrases leap off the page and demand our thoughtful consideration. Which of us can ignore truth and freedom at such a basic level? As revealed through Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, they become a wellspring of inspiration for contemplating God.
(2) Saint Augustine, In Iohannis Evangelium Tractatus, 26,5: PL 35, 1609.

(3) Benedict XVI, Address to Participants in the Plenary Assembly of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (10 February 2006): AAS 98 (2006), 255.

(4) Benedict XVI, Address to the Members of the Ordinary Council of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops (1 June 2006): L’Osservatore Romano, 2 June 2006, p. 5.

All Our Questions Answered ...

... in this clever AbeBooks campaign. Check out the other titles. You're sure to find one to tickle your funny bone.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Happy Birthday, Dear Rose!

I can't believe I forgot to put up a cake for Rose's birthday today. My only excuse is that I was busy shopping and I think that we'll all agree remembering birthday gifts is much more important than a photo of a cake!

What would we do without our sweet, smart, funny, clever Rose? I don't want to even think about it. I am simply grateful that God picked us out to be her parents. She is sweet 17 today.

We'll be going to Royal Thai as her choice for a birthday dinner. Mmmm, mmmm, good! She chose a cake I've never made so we'll see how it turns out. Yellow cake, cherry filling, marshmallow frosting. It is a cake designed more for a President's Day celebration but since she's been studying like crazy for her AP History test and we've been talking about presidents all week ... I suppose it seemed like the right choice this year.

We'll let you know how it tastes!

What are those 10 Prayers?

The ones that God always say yes to ... I've been asked and luckily Disputations just put them up so I didn't have to hunt them down.
  1. God, show me that You exist.
  2. God, make me an instrument.
  3. Gos, outdo me in generosity.
  4. God, get me through this suffering.
  5. God, forgive me.
  6. Give me peace.
  7. God, give me courage.
  8. God, give me wisdom.
  9. God, bring good out of this bad situation.
  10. God, lead me to my destiny.

Next Up: "R" Rating for Eating a Cheeseburger

Cheeseburgers are so unhealthy, you know. Just like smoking ...
The Motion Picture Association of America announced Thursday that smoking will be considered when rating movies and "depictions that glamorize smoking or movies that feature pervasive smoking outside of an historic or other mitigating context may receive a higher rating."

Smoking will become a factor in decisions by the Classification and Rating Administration, along with sex, violence, language, nudity, drug abuse and other elements.

"There is broad awareness of smoking as a unique public health concern due to nicotine's highly addictive nature, and no parent wants their child to take up the habit," MPAA Chief Executive Dan Glickman said. "The appropriate response of the rating system is to give more information to parents on this issue."
Yeah, yeah, to get the obligatory comments out of the way, I don't approve of teens smoking, yadda, yadda, yadda.

But an "R" rating for smoking? This from the esteemed board that gave Spanglish a PG-13 rating so that when we were watching it with Rose we were treated to an unmistakable scene of Adam Sandler and Tea Leoni having sex.

Give me a freakin' break.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Give Me Peace

... this prayer -- God, give me peace" -- is a little bit different. God will say yes to it all right, but the rapidity and clarity of his response are going to depend a lot more on your relationship with God. ...

Is God still going to say yes to this prayer? You bet he is! But he's going to do it on his terms. He's not in the business of helping people live in denial. His "peace" is not some magical, divine anesthesia administered simply to make you feel good. It's the real thing. It's deep. It's lasting. It's wonderful. That's why when you ask him for peace, he's not just going to give you a Band-Aid when what you really need are stitches. He's not just going to help you cover up the problem, when what you really need is to treat it. God's going to give you peace, but he's going to do it by helping you restructure, rearrange, and rebuild your life so that it fits into hisperfect plan. And that may take some doing.

You see, the kind of peace we're talking about goes way beyond mere emotions. It has to do with being in union with God. Ultimately, that's the definition of true peace. It's the awareness that, no matter what else may be happening around you, everything is going to be okay, because you're doing what God wants you to do. ...

On the other hand, if you're "wrong" with God, it will be impossible for you to have a peaceful life, no matter how hard you try. Why? Because God is the source of peace. If you're in rebellion against him, then you're going to be in rebellion against peace itself. It makes sense that your days are going to be filled with chaos, stress, worry, and anxiety. They have to be. Deliberate sin, by definition, excludes peace. Therefore, eliminating the stress in your life depends, in large part, on how successful you are in eliminating any big conflicts you have with God.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Dear Elliot ...

I have never seen "blessed are they that mourn" so beautifully illustrated as in 99 Balloons, the "diary" of a family's love and joy taken in their baby who proclaimed God's presence without ever uttering a word. (Much thanks to Bridget for pointing to this video.)

This was the perfect counterpoint to the low I felt after reading the jubilant editorials about "progress for women's health" in the Dallas Morning News acclaiming Mexico City's legislation of the right to abortion.

I have a feeling that my First Friday sacrifice will be going on for more than a year, because the U.S. is just one step in a world wide struggle which is going on in the spiritual world as well as through visible legislation and courts. Moloch does not give up easily. You know what? Bring it. St. Michael, defend us and pray for us ...

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Gone Haulin'

Haulin' Hannah and her stuff back from A&M. Hard to believe she is done with her freshman year! Strange to think of her being home for months and months. But a GOOD kinda strange!

See y'all on Thursday!

Loving Zeke

An extraordinary story, documented by the Kansas City Star, about a family whose whole goal was to love and welcome the little one who would die soon after birth. Via The Anchoress.

Show Me You Exist

... when we lift our minds and hearts in humility and say to God: "Please show me that you exist. ... Give me some sign that you are really up there somewhere" he is only too happy to respond -- sometimes with a speed that can astound us. ...

No matter how God decides to answer this prayer, your reaction is going to be "How in the world did that happen? How could this possibly have come about? It just doesn't make sense. I didn't plan it. I didn't do any work. I didn't make any phone calls. I didn't do anything." There will be a growing conviction in your mind and in your heart that there must have been some other force at work. And more important, there will be a growing conviction of the presence of this force.

This is a critical point to understand. The wonder that you'll feel when this prayer is answered will not be the same as what you feel when you experience an ordinary, everyday "coincidence." Everyone has experienced coincidences and weird occurrences in their life. This will not be like them. This will be a direct experience of God's grace, and, as such, it will piont directly to the one who is behind it -- God.
Yep. That's pretty much how it was for me.

Monday, May 7, 2007

A Closer Look at Sacramentum Caritatis

I have to admit that when I read Sacramentum Caritatis, I did it as more of a "duty" than anything else. Consequently, I zipped through it, marked it off my list and moved on.

Shame on me.

Our church began something new this week ... the first of a series of weekly excerpts that made me read slowly, think carefully, and realize the beauty and truth-packed goodness of this document. I'm not sure if anyone else read it but I certainly was glad that I was forced to take another look. I am going to put the excerpt up here and share with y'all as well. (And yes I typed this ... that is how much I love y'all!).
Loving Us to “The end”
The sacrament of charity (1), the Holy Eucharist is the gift that Jesus Christ makes of himself, thus revealing to us God’s infinite love for every man and woman. This wondrous sacrament makes manifest that “greater” love which led him to “lay down his life for his friends” (Jn 15:13). Jesus did indeed love them “to the end” (Jn 13:1). In those words the Evangelist introduces Christ’s act of immense humility: before dying for us on the Cross, he tied a towel around himself and washed the feet of his disciples. In the same way, Jesus continues, in the sacrament of the Eucharist, to love us “to the end,” even to offering us his body and his blood. What amazement must the Apostles have felt in witnessing what the Lord did and said during that Supper! What wonder must the eucharistic mystery also awaken in our own hearts!


The reverent and tender words above call us to reflect on the Eucharist as Jesus’ eternal love for us in this offering of his body and his blood.

We might expect to find this sort of inspirational commentary in a devotional. What a surprise, then, to find that this is the introductory paragraph of Pope Benedict’s recently released report on the bishops’ synod on the Eucharist held in 2005. Or as it is more formally titled:

[Sacrament of Charity]

As formidable as that title sounds, this introductory paragraph shows us that we are being given an intimate look into how Pope Benedict and the bishops reflect upon the Eucharist itself. As the Holy Father says, further into the exhortation:

... I wish here to endorse the wishes expressed by the Synod Fathers (11) by encouraging the Christian people to deepen their understanding of the relationship between the eucharistic mystery, the liturgical action, and the new spiritual worship which derives from the Eucharist as the sacrament of charity. Consequently, I wish to set the present Exhortation alongside my first Encyclical Letter, Deus Caritas Est,** in which I frequently mentioned the sacrament of the Eucharist and stressed its relationship to Christian love, both of God and of neighbour: “God incarnate draws us all to himself. We can thus understand how agape*** also became a term for the Eucharist: there God’s own agape comes to us bodily, in order to continue his work in us and through us” (12).

That is much more what could be expected as an introduction and yet it comes five paragraphs into the exhortation. Clearly Pope Benedict wishes to first plunge us into the heart of the matter which is the complete and self-sacrificing love of Jesus for each of us through the Eucharist. Which is exactly as we should wish also.

(1) Cf. Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae III, q. 73, a. 3.
(11) Cf. Propositio 1.
(12) No. 14: AAS 98 (2006), 229.

* Sacrament of Charity. (Caritatis, meaning “charity,” is from Latin and translates in this case as “Christian love..”)
** God Is Love.
*** Agape is from the Greek and was used by the early Christians to refer to the self-sacrificing love of God for humanity, which they were committed to reciprocating and practicing towards God and among one another. One example of this is found in Matthew 22:37-41, when Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment and answered “’Love (agape) the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love (agape) your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

This is the first of a series of weekly excerpts from Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis. You are encouraged to read the entire document. The Vatican link to that document as well as to Pope Benedict’s first encyclical can be found on the website,

Siggy and the Butterbell

He went a-Googlin' and found ... this!

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Red Beans and Ricely Yours*

The New Orleans Jazz Festival is going on right now and that works out thematically with music and conversation in our household over the last couple of weeks. Rose's innovative English teacher (the one that had the movie assignment about Heroes, Anti-Heroes, and Underdogs) wanted them to examine how one thing leads to another. They have been examining that in literature and he wanted them to look at it through music.

There was a list of artists to choose from whether by genre or decade. Each student had to choose one to write a paper about and also work with a group to put together a presentation featuring six artists. Five had to be from the provided list and one could be added by the group. Rose absolutely loves jazz and chose Louis Armstrong for her paper. They wound up discussing Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., and Glenn Miller (the addition because there was no "big band/swing" artist which was the commercial element of the genre). Admittedly Sinatra and Davis aren't really jazz but the list was deficient in that area (at least from our point of view, but then when are we ever happy with a list?).

So we have been getting a lot about Louis Armstrong's life. I already loved him but now also respect him immensely. As for Sinatra, I had a somewhat tarnished view of his life so it was nice to hear of his devotion to his children, immense charity (he gave away around a million dollars in his life ... when asked why, he said something like, "I keep throwing it out there and God keeps giving it back..."), and so on.

Rose's love of jazz began years ago when she heard the Smithsonian set, The Jazz Singers 1919-1994, that I got for Tom one year. The older and scratchier ... the more authentic ... the more she loved it. She had plenty to draw on for her report and we heard plenty of jazz around the house all week.

Consequently, I can't get Jazzola out of my head; a very early song that is a favorite of ours ... and very catchy too...
Come, jazzers, gather 'round,Photo of Jim Europe
Jazz lovers from every town,
I've got something that I'd like to introduce you to,
It's new!
It's got a funny name
That's sure to win its fame;
With your kind attention
I will mention
Its many charms to you:

They call it "Jazzola!"
Nobody knows its origination,
It's just a dance full of syncopation,
And if you crave a new sensation,
Come with me,
You will see,
Strange sights from the land of harmony!
Old folks and young folks cry for Jazzola!
It's like a tonic, take it with each meal;
How good you'll feel!
My old granddad heard the news,
Dropped his cane for dancing shoes!
The whole world's going crazy 'bout Jazzola!

Just take your sweetie sweetPhoto of Noble Sissle
Out for a jazzy treat,
And she'll love you like she never did before;
What's more,
No need of fine wine,
You'll have a much better time,
Get those jazz musicians,
Choice positions
To play it o'er and o'er!

Just ask for "Jazzola!"
Nobody knows its origination,
It's just a dance full of syncopation,
And if you crave a new sensation,
Come with me,
You will see,
Strange sights from the land of harmony!
Old folks and young folks cry for Jazzola!
It's like a tonic, take it with each meal;
How grand you'll feel!
Old men who are out of step
Find Jazzola gives them pep;
The whole world's going crazy 'bout Jazzola!

Nobody knows its origination,
It's just a dance full of syncopation,
And if you crave a new sensation,
Come with me,
You will see,
Strange sights from the land of harmony!
Old folks and young folks cry for Jazzola!
It's like a tonic, take it with each meal;
How good you'll feel!
Old men who are out of step
Find Jazzola gives them pep;
The whole world's going crazy 'bout Jazzola!

J-A-Z-Z-O-L-A, Jazzola!

* How Louis Armstrong signed letters.

Friday, May 4, 2007

"Of course, if you give a beggar a dollar they call you a chump."

Ever since I saw this photo at Barcelona Photoblog I have had the feeling that I'd soon be reposting my soap-box speech about giving to the poor.

Then today I read:
  • Internet Monk asks (rhetorically one assumes since he then goes on to answer his own question): “Question: “Should I give money to people on the street who ask for it?” You know it isn't a good sign when someone ends up apologetically with "I know I sound like Scrooge ..."
  • Today at the Mission sees his point but does not agree.
As for me, St. John Vianney said it in a nutshell.
There are those who say to the poor that they seem to look to be in such good health: "You are so lazy! You could work. You are young. You have strong arms."

You don't know that it is God's pleasure for this poor person to go to you and ask for a handout. You show yourself as speaking against the will of God.

There are some who say: "Oh, how badly he uses it!" May he do whatever he wants with it! The poor will be judged on the use they have made of their alms, and you will be judged on the very alms that you could have given but haven't.
For the long version (that would be how I say it), you can read Welcome to My Soap Box.

(Before making any comments contrary to St. John Vianney's, I request that you read my post linked to above to see how I came to my position on this subject. Thanks!)

LOST: When Shamans Can't Perform

Here's what I want to know.

Why is Locke so danged freaked out that when Ben keeps mocking him for not being able to kill his father, that he can't think of the real reason that a perfectly decent man wouldn't do that ... because he's better than The Others, than Ben, and they've devolved into Ben's little cult.

Try throwing that in his face! Whether true or not, at least it gives him a moral superiority edge.

But no ... they didn't do that.

They turned Locke into a wuss.

I also have to say that Rose LOCKED (ha!) it ... she figured out practically instantly that Locke's father was the con artist that ruined his parents' lives and Sawyer's as well.

Also, how stupid Locke's father, the original Sawyer, was. He just couldn't keep his big mouth shut, could he? Just had to show Sawyer how he could keep pushing those buttons. Of course, then his button got pushed ... forever.

It's First Friday!

Time to cowboy up for the littlest victims.
We are three bloggers who also live in the Dallas area. We are deeply committed to ending abortion in this country. To that end, we have committed ourselves to the following: On each First Friday for the next eleven months, we will fast and pray before the Blessed Sacrament for an end to abortion. This will culminate at the annual Dallas March for Life in January of 2008, where we will join our bishop and the faithful of this city in marching to the courthouse where Roe was originally argued.

We ask anyone reading these words to join us. Fast and pray with us each First Friday, no matter how far removed you are from Dallas. Spend some time in Eucharistic adoration, and implore Christ to end this curse. We especially ask other Dallas area bloggers and residents to join us, at least in spirit. If you would rather not fast, then pray for those of us that do.

Dorothy Day and the Little Flower

For those who don't know, St. Therese of Lisieux's promise to send roses as a sign of her intercession from heaven led to the affectionate nickname, the "Little Flower." It also reflects her devotion to the little way (that we cannot all do great deeds but all can be holy in the little things in our lives). The flower that she sends most often as a sign are roses.
But the psalmist also says, "In death there is no one that is mindful of thee." So it made me happy that I could be with my mother the last few weeks of her life, and for the last ten days at her bedside daily and hourly. ...

One morning I prayed to the Little Flower, whose picture is over the foot of my bed, that she would especially look after my mother. I reminded her of her own grief at her father's long dying. That night Julia Porcelli brought me some dried blessed roses. The next day, a friend brought a tiny bouquet with lace paper about it made up of roses and carnations, and my mother greeted it with a smile and held it in her hands a few times that afternoon.

A week later, when I went to Poughkeepsie to visit my three aunts, one of whome is a Catholic, and to go with them to offer up a Mass of thanksgiving for my mother's most peaceful death, we came out of St. Peter's Church that misty morning to be greeted by a brilliant roes in the garden next to the church. And when we arrived home for breakfast, there was a bouquet telegraphed to us from Florida, and in the center of the fall flowers were two lovely roses. The Little Flower was prompt and generous indeed in her message.

I wrote the account because I like to show my gratitude by telling others of such favors. Perhaps, too, it may comfort others who have sore and lonely hearts over the approaching death of a near one. "Life is changed, not taken away," and what a glorious change in these sad times, after a long and valiant death.
On Pilgrimage by Dorothy Day

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Tornado Sirens Should Only Be Sounded if There is a Tornado.

Not that you'd think this is something we'd need to tell the City. But there you go. High winds, nope. Dark skies and driving rain. Nope. Even hail. Nope.

It is a tornado siren!

That makes two storms in the past three weeks where some idiot has sounded the siren ... with no tornado being sighted within earshot. Last night a tornado wasn't even on the weathermen's minds.

This Kansas gal is mighty tired of bolting for the safest spot in the house when whoever-it-is jumps the gun.

Enough with crying wolf, already!

Reminder: Tomorrow is First Friday

Time to those of us who are joined in this commitment to fast and pray for an end to abortion. Get ready to cowboy up, y'all.

A Particular Love

It is hard to believe in this love. In a book by Hugh of St. Victor, which I read once on the way from St. Paul to Chicago, there is a conversation between the soul and God about this love. The soul is petulant and wants to know what kind of a love is that which loves everyone indiscriminately, the thief and the Samaritan, the wife and the mother and the harlot? The soul complains that it wishes a particular love, a love for herself alone. And God replies fondly that, after all, since no two people are like in this world, He has indeed a particular fondness for each one of us, an exclusive love to satisfy each one alone.
On Pilgrimage by Dorothy Day
I wonder if it is not also that we sometimes feel that God loves others more than He loves us. That was the feeling I got from a comment that sparked a very good post over at The Wine-Dark Sea. The comment about being single was to the effect that being single was no vocation at all.
A thwarted vocation - whether to religious life or to marriage - is a painful cross, no matter why a person has to live with a thwarted vocation.
Go read Melanie's post for a good, thoughtful response to that approach. I'd say it myself but she already did it for me.

I sent a link to that post to a group of women that I belong to and got a very insightful response from Erin that I am excerpting below because I think she has a perspective that no one has touched on yet in the "singles" conversation.
Sure, single life can be viewed as a vocation, and there are lots of single folks who choose to remain so for various reasons. But for a lot of people, single life is kind of a default state of being neither married nor religious. There's no sacrament sealing you in the single life, no vows - you just are single.

I think a healthier way of viewing single life is not to categorize oneself as separate from being married or religious but to recognize God calls us to take on several different roles within one's life - both sequentially and simultaneously. Sure, I'm single, but I'm also called to do well in my work and as a volunteer at STA. I'm called as a daughter and sister and friend and dog-mommy. These roles overlap with those of married and religious folks. I just don't have the role as wife or religious or mother.

I suspect the blogger's frustration is that many churches aren't that great about ministering to singles...

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Reading: 5 Practical Skills

As a voracious reader it never occurred to me that a guideline to reading would be necessary. Even when there was that great series of ads about reading that featured tips about reading, I read someone's guidelines about skimming (maybe it was Bill Cosby?) and already was way ahead of them on the technique.

However, for those to whom reading doesn't come quite as easily, there now is a very handy guide from Nick Senger at Literary Compass called ROMAN Reading: 5 Practical Skills for Transforming Your Life through Literature. This is a free e-book that can be downloaded as a pdf. It is simply but attractively formatted and has some very good ideas to improve reading habits. (Ok, I will probably never do the outlining idea, but it is an idea worth knowing about should one be doing a more serious study of a book than I tend toward).

He also has set up a blog devoted to ROMAN Reading that is worth checking out.

Here is a bit of one of the tips ... and yes, I already did everything in here but I had to figure it out for myself. You have this handy guide to help you along.
Here are five ways to improve marking in books:
  1. Use a pen, not a highlighter. You can't write words or sentences with a highlighter, they're too thick. As I mentioned in ROMAN Reading, my preferred pen is the green Sanford Uniball with the microfine point.
  2. Use the white spaces. Those empty spaces on the title pages and at the beginning and end of chapters are perfect for recording notes, outlines, summaries and various thoughts about what you're reading.
  3. Use symbols and shortcuts. Try using an exclamation mark (!), asterisk (*) or question mark (?) in the margin to save time.
  4. Mark entire paragraphs with brackets. If you want to mark an entire paragraph, don't underline the whole thing, just draw a bracket or a set of vertical lines along the side. That way you can still circle certain words or phrases within the paragraph.
  5. Don't overmark! One reason to mark a book is to be able to find things again. If the entire book ends up being green, you've defeated the purpose.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Just Because I Love These Two Photos ...

That Jules took.

Math Monday ... on Tuesday

Click on the photo to enlarge.

Surprised by Prayers

Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To: Divine Answers to Life's Most Difficult Problems
by Anthony DeStefano
... One thing that you learn as you progress in the spiritual life is that God is a God of perfect timing. Since he is able to see the "big picture," he knows just when you should move on and when you should stay where you are. And sometimes before you move on he has to "arrange" a thousand different details in order to make that move possible. That arranging takes time.

People who travel frequently on airplanes know just what I mean, because they have experienced the frustration of "circling." Usually this happens near the end of the flight, just when you're most anxious to get off the plane ... you've gone into the dreaded holding pattern... The point is that, despite the frustration of the passengers, and despite the pilot's ability to freely control his aircraft, another entity -- air-traffic control -- has made an over-riding decision to prevent the plane from landing. And there's just nothing that anyone can do about it.

The very same thing often happens to us in life. We can decide what we want to do and where we want to go, but God is still in charge of "air-traffic control." He sees everything on his omniscient radar screen -- the weather, the airport, all the other planes in the area. Sometimes, for reasons he may or may not disclose, he decides that the best thing for us to do is remain in a "holding pattern." While we're busy circling, he's busy clearing obstacles, solving problems and moving people around until things are just right. Then and only then does he permit us to come in for a safe, smooth landing.
I received Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To: Divine Answers to Life's Most Difficult Problems by Anthony Destefano in the mail about a week ago. At first glance, the title made me think it was another of those "Gospel of Prosperity" books. You know the sort I mean. The ones that tell us if we only pray this special prayer or act in a certain way that God will reward us with piles of money and riches.

I almost didn't pick it up.

In my insular way, actually my way of protecting myself, I didn't like the fact that it was endorsed by Christians I'd never heard of, except for Cardinal Martini who I had heard of but not for anything that I liked in the way of interpreting scripture.

This raised my alarm level even more.

However, I recalled the many times that I have almost rejected a book that I later found to be full of spiritual riches, so I ventured to read the introduction. Looking in vain for scriptural references in the text (another alarm bell going off), I flipped to the back where I found an entire section of end notes consisting of nothing but one scriptural citation after another. After that was a bibliography. True, it did have a Rick Warren book listed (yet another alarm bell clanging) but many more references were to writings by St. Augustine, C.S. Lewis, and others who I trusted to be sound spiritual advisers if taken properly in context. Additionally, looking through the acknowledgments section, I saw that Destefano's parish priest who he admired greatly was Fr. Pavone who I also trust to be a sound guide.

Somewhat reassured, I gingerly began reading, fully on alert and ready to toss the book at a moment's notice if my fears of being led astray came true.

What a pleasant surprise to discover that this was not only engagingly written but decidedly on track in terms of leading us to God through what God wants for us instead of the other way around. In fact, by chapter two I was reading with a pen nearby to mark significant sections and telling Tom that, so far, I wanted him to read it ... and the book club ... and everyone I knew.

It takes an extraordinary book to turn my fears into such enthusiasm in a short time. I soon realized that all the things that rang my alarm bells, beginning with the title, were specifically designed to call out to the very people who tended to be attracted by the "Gospel of Prosperity" books. In fact, I could think of two people who this book would be perfect for as it take those "I want" impulses and turns them outward so that we are focusing on what God wants instead of what we might think is best.

I had a couple of things that I thought might be problems for those reading the book and wanted to bounce them off of someone else. Luckily, Tom was interested and began reading it. He is about halfway through and the really interesting thing is that our various objections were things that the other person always thought were not a problem. For instance, I was somewhat amused that the chapter about the prayer "God, outdo me in generosity" talks almost exclusively about ... money. DeStefano does point out that God may repay you in other ways than monetarily but he always comes back to the cold, hard cash in the end. However, Tom didn't have a problem with this as he thought the author had adequately offset possible moneygrubbing with talk about intentions and motives.

Tom, on the other hand, was bothered that he didn't know what authority the author was basing his claims on. This was among the things that had sent me early on to the end notes and bibliography which had greatly reassured me. Furthermore, as I read on with increasing approval I never found anything that went against the Church's teachings. (So, for what it's worth, it has the "Julie D." stamp of approval.) Tom didn't have anything specific to mention on this front, just that he wanted to know where these ideas were coming from (I told you he's Catholic to the bone, haven't i?). By the way, this book was specifically written to be able to be used by Christians in general, not simply Catholics. Any Catholic comments found within are simply in reference to the author's own experiences or some similar situation.

All in all, we could find nothing wrong and a great many things right in this book. Furthermore, Tom also could think of a couple of people right off the top of his head that might benefit from it. (As can The Anchoress; check out her review.)
So often the dreams we have are all about us and our desires and insecurities and vanities. They don't take God's wishes into the slightest account. Everyone has heard stories about unhappy movie stars, drug-addicted rock stars, disgraced public officials, and suicidal authors. All these folks achieved their dreams and yet they all came to the same unfortunate end. Why? One of the reasons is probably that their dreams did not coincide with their real purpose. They wanted something so badly -- maybe it was fame, maybe it was riches, maybe it was power -- but they failed to consider that perhaps this was the last thing they really needed, the last thing God had destined them for. Instead of trying to ascertain God's will through prayer and discernment, they essentially "forced" their key into a lock it was never meant for; they twisted it, struggled with it, pushed and jammed it -- until finally it broke off.

There's no need for that ever to happen to us. God knows the deepest desires of our hearts. He knows what will give us the greatest pleasure and the most profound happiness. Remember, he's the one who created us -- he's the one who crafted the key -- so he knows best what kind of lock it will fit into.