Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Gone 'Til Monday ...

... to a place with limited email and computer availability. See you next week!

I'm a Mathete?

No, not a MathLETE

TO very kindly gave me a Mathetes Award which is...
A brand new award being passed out. It is the Mathetes Award, created by Dan King of Management by God to recognize those who take to heart the Great Commission and further God’s Kingdom by creating more disciples for Him. According to Dan mathetes is the Greek word for disciple.
The rules for the award, as posted by its creator are as follows:
In the spirit of this award, the rules are simple. Winners of this award must pick five other “disciples” to pass it on to. As you pass it on, I just ask that you mention and provide links for (1) this post as the originator of the award (Dan King of management by God), (2) the person that awarded it to you, and then (3) name and sites of the five that you believe are fulfilling the role of a disciple of Christ.
I have to agree with TO when she observed that choosing disciples is extremely difficult - not because there aren't many options, but because there are SO many! But here's my five in no particular order. Congratulations, and display your Mathete Award proudly ...
  1. Scott Nehring at Good News Film Reviews
  2. Adoro te Devote
  3. Steven Riddle at Flos Carmeli
  4. Penni at Martha, Martha
  5. Hey Jules at Maced With Grace

Monday, September 24, 2007

Eat at Chili's Today ... Benefit St. Jude's Hospital

Rose and her friends are having dinner at Chili's tonight because all the profits will go to St. Jude's Hospital. Yep. 100% of all profits from the chain today go to St. Jude's Hospital.

Not a bad idea at all ...

Friday, September 21, 2007

Bleg ...

In response to this quote earlier in the week:
A young man who wishes to remain a sound atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere ... God is, if I may say it, very unscrupulous.
C.S. Lewis
This question was asked:
And what would some of those books be that a nice Catholic girl could recommend to her boyfriend, who was raised by dedicated atheists and who is letting himself be convinced by Sam Harris' and Richard Dawkins' latest books that there is no God?
Answers happily accepted in the comments box!

The Chicken Foot of Death?

I meant to bring this up earlier this week ... from the Prison Break season opener. Michael is now the one behind bars while Lincoln has to try to help break him out from the outside. Let's take a minute to pity Michael with only that back up ... Linc is great on decisive bashing in of heads but not so much a brainiac.

A nice little group is forming, an ironic one to anyone who knows the score ... the FBI agent, Teabag, Michael, and the corrupt prison guard all stuck in a South American prison so scary that the guards don't even go inside any more. As well as a little internal prisoners' government (dictatorship to be truthful) that enforces all their rules ... such as when you are given the "Chicken Foot of Death" (as we dubbed it) you must then fight to the death.

Hmmm ...

We'll see how this all goes ... they pulled it off last season with everyone out of prison. And I want to know what happened to that Hispanic prisoner on the run with his girlfriend and aunt (or mother?) stashed somewhere by the corrupt prison guard ... we never saw a thing about his story!

(not that I was looking for an excuse to post this photo again or anything ... absolutely not!)

Seeing Jesus at Prayer

I knew Jesus would go off to pray alone. You can't read the Gospels without seeing that constantly mentioned. However, it never, ever occurred to me that there were a few occasions that he had the disciples with him. What would they have learned about the nature of Jesus? What would they have learned about prayer ... and the Father ... and themselves?

Leave it to Pope Benedict to give us penetrating insights in Jesus of Nazareth. These two paragraphs are far apart and you must go read both sections about Peter's confession that Jesus is the Lord, the Son of God, (in answer to Jesus' question of who do the disciples say he is) and the Transfiguration for full clarity. Though in truth, the Pope's personal thoughts on Jesus are sufficiently deep water that I foresee reading this book many more times to fully plumb the depths.
In Luke -- and this is entirely in keeping with his portrait of the figure of Jesus -- Peter's confession is connected with a prayer event. Luke beings his account of the story with a deliberate paradox: "As he was praying alone, the disciples were with him" (Lk 9:18). The disciples are drawn into his solitude, his communion with the Father that is reserved to him alone. They are privileged to see him as the one who -- as reflected at the beginning of this book -- speaks face-to-face with the Father, person to person. They are privileged to see him in his utterly unique filial being -- at the point from which all his words, his deeds, and his powers issue. They are privileged to see what the "people" do not see, and this seeing gives rise to a recognition that goes beyond the "opinion" of the people. This seeing is the wellspring of their faith, their confession; it provides the foundation for the Church.

... Luke is the only one of the Evangelists who begins his account by indicating the purpose of Jesus' ascent [for the Transfiguration]: He "went up on the mountain to pray" (Lk 9:28). It is in the context of Jesus' prayer that he now explains the even that the three disciples are to witness: "And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white" (Lk 9:29). The Transfiguration is a prayer event; it displays visibly what happens when Jesus talks with his Father: the profound interpenetration of his being with God, which then becomes pure light. In his oneness with the Father, Jesus is himself "light from light." The reality that he is in the deepest core of his being, which Peter tried to express in his confession -- that reality becomes perceptible to the senses at this moment: Jesus being in the light of God, his own being-light as Son.
Jesus of Nazareth by Joseph Ratzinger (a.k.a. Pope Benedict XVI)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Insanely Busy ... or Just Insane?

I guess only the people I work with can say that for sure. One thing is certain ... I'm grateful for the work, but St. Joseph interceded to a degree that I'm not sure I'll survive!

Overheard ...

A regular at our Scripture study set us all to laughing. She attended a retreat last weekend and the priest said to her, "These people are bringing self-help books to read on retreat. That's not what we're about here!"

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Because I'm a Sucker for Angel Stories ...

... like those found in Joan Wester Anderson's books ... go check out the excerpts for each.

Via Salve Regina who dishes you up a nice excerpt to get started.

More Relating to That "Boot Camp" for Love

My morning's reading of Jesus of Nazareth (yes, I'm finally back to reading it) dovetails perfectly with yesterday's personal revelation. I think someone's trying to tell me something ...
Let us recall that the parable of the vine occurs in the context of Jesus' Last Supper. After the multiplication of the loaves he had spoken of the true bread from heaven that he would give, and thus he left us with a profound interpretation of the eucharistic bread that was to come. It is hard to believe that in his discourse on the vine he is not tacitly alluding to the new wine that had already been prefigured at Cana and which he now gives to us -- the wine that would flow from his Passion, from his "love to the end" (Jn 13:1). In this sense, the parable of the vine has a thoroughly eucharistic background. The parable of the fruit that Jesus brings forth: his love, which pours itself out for us on the Cross and which is the choice new wine destined for God's marriage feast with man. Thus we come to understand the full depth and grandeur of the Eucharist, even though it is not explicitly mentioned here. The Eucharist points us toward the fruit that we, as branches of the vine, can and must bear with Christ an by virtue of Christ. The fruit the Lord expects of us is love -- a love that accepts with him the mystery of the Cross, and becomes a participation in his self-giving -- and hence the true justice that prepares the world for the Kingdom of God.

Purification and fruit belong together; only by undergoing God's purifications can we bear the fruit that flows into the eucharistic mystery and so leads to the marriage feast that is the goal toward which God directs history. Fruit and lo e belong together: The true fruit is the love that has passed through the Cross, through God's purifications. "Remaining" is an essential part of all this. In verses 1-10 the word remain (in Greek menein) occurs ten times. What the Church Fathers call perseverantia -- patient steadfastness in communion with the Lord amidst all the vicissitudes of life -- is placed center stage here. Initial enthusiasm is easy. Afterward though, it is time to stand firm, even along the monotonous desert paths that we are called upon to traverse in this life -- with the patience it takes to tread evenly, a patience in which the romanticism of the initial awakening subsides, so that only the deep, pure Yes of faith remains. This is the way to produce good wine ...
Jesus of Nazareth by Joseph Ratzinger (a.k.a. Pope Benedict XVI)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

About Last Weekend's Gospel Readings

The parable of the Prodigal Son is my absolute favorite parable. Period. However, I also love the preceding two parables of the lost sheep and lost coin.

If anyone is interested I have links here to previous posts from when I was studying Luke.

The Lost Sheep
The Lost Coin
The Prodigal Son

A few details about William Barclay, upon whose study the above posts are based.

Boot Camp for Love

Don't know why this stuck with me so vividly but I was listening to Fr. Dubay's series on contemplation* this morning ... he said that the whole point of life is that we are here to love. Through everything we do, whether it is fixing dinner, doing our jobs, whatever we are doing at the moment ... we are here to love.

Now it isn't as if I haven't heard that before ... what is it the Catechism says ... something like we are here to know, love, and serve God on in this world and to be with him in the next.

Somehow that comment of Fr. Dubay's combined with the vision of Odd Thomas's girlfriend, Stormy. Odd isn't sure what awaits ghosts beyond this world but his girlfriend, Stormy, has a vision of an army of souls on some great mission in the next world. She calls this life "boot camp" and tells him that it is intended to toughen us up to serve in that army.

I had this sudden mind's eye view of this world as our boot camp to learn love. In all that we do, no matter the circumstances, we are here to learn to love as perfectly as possible. Because that is what we will do in the next life ... God is love and if we are to be with him then it makes sense that the lessons we learn here have love as the main subject.

As I said, a no-brainer for most everyone but it lit up my brain for the morning.

*Generously provided by EWTN last month; can be found at Into the Deep for downloading. This month's special downloads are from Fr. Pacwa about the prophets. Also highly recommended.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Interesting Questions for Roman Catholics

Over at Internet Monk. He's a good guy who consistently defends our status as Christians to those who would claim otherwise ... go help him out with some answers.

And While I'm Busy Being Outraged* ...

... let's toss in a little outrage for this silliness.
For three years it has been a simple way for hospital visitors to make a difference while they wait.

Patients and relatives - indeed anyone handy with a pair of needles - have been asked to knit a small square to be turned into blankets for local charities.

But that was until the health and safety brigade heard what was going on.

Although no one has so much as nicked a finger as a result of the scheme at Congleton War Memorial Hospital in Cheshire, officials have decided the knitting needles are too sharp to be used safely.

Instead, anyone looking to while away a few minutes must ask permission at the hospital's reception before being handed the supposedly hazardous equipment. ...
I know that England invented the nanny but they don't need to take on the role for everyone, thanks. (Though that's just as bad as what is being proposed in L.A.)

Thanks to Class Factotum for this one.

* source of my original outrage ...

Now That's Good Reading

I have been very remiss in not posting book reviews lately. Wanting to writing something complete and worthy of these books, I've been holding off until I had time to do them justice. I am just so darned busy that I think I'd better do something incomplete to point you in the direction of these finds ...

TERRITORY by Emma Bull
If I hadn't read this recommendation from Maureen at Aliens in This World, I'd surely have scoffed at the premise. Set in Tombstone, Arizona, when the Earps and Clantons and inexorably heading toward that famous showdown at the OK Corral, Emma Bull tosses in some sorcery into the mix as an underlying source of tension. Told from the point of view of typesetter Mildred Benjamin and drifter Jesse Fox, this story puts a new twist on the Western genre. As odd as the combination of Western and magic sounds, Bull has a subtle touch that reminds me of Connie Willis or Barbara Hambly at their best. Strong on personality and sense of place, Bull tosses us into the action in midstream so we have to pick up what's going on from the characters' mind which just makes it all the more intriguing. Highly recommended.

AURALIA'S COLORS by Jeffrey Overstreet
Another one that's difficult to explain, this was a complete surprise. A queen is jealous of the other three great Houses of the land. She convinces the king that to make their House they must collect all art, and indeed everything containing color, to themselves. The people are relegated to giving up their treasures and wearing only whites, grays, and browns, with badges of honor for their sacrifices being the only color in their lives. An orphan girl, found as an infant in the wilderness by outlaws, has a talent for crafting colors that do more than look beautiful. This innate talent unsettles the imposed order and sets in train a violent change for the king and his people.

There is no way I can adequately describe this book except to say that what sounds like most outrageous fantasy is actually grounded in the underlying hard reality of those "truths" recognized by all great storytellers. I am loathe to say too much for fear of deriving readers of the pleasure of discovering these underlying themes for themselves. I read this book in three days because every time I picked it up I simply could not put it down.

Author Jeffrey Overstreet gives credit to many recognized great authors for being his inspiration but I think it is fair to say that this is not derivative. He has crafted something completely new that shows us those old realities of which we all need to be reminded through art. Probably my highest tribute is to say that this book can be enjoyed by everyone, whether simply lovers of fiction or those who look for, as Overstreet says, "a glimmer of his [the Great Artist] glory in these pages." I eagerly look forward to the next installment of this trilogy.

By the way, Overstreet is a film critic for Christianity Today and one whose vision in viewing movies I trust implicitly. His nonfiction Through a Screen Darkly is highly recommended also.

The best tribute I can give this book is to say that I don't need to be convinced that it is ok for kids to read Harry Potter ... and yet I read the entire book, with interest. I originally picked it up thinking that I could look it over with a mind to recommending it to friends that are wary, as are many Christians, of the magic found in the stories.

Brown has many sensible recommendations to ease parents' fears and to help them evaluate whether the books and motives are right for their children. Perhaps the greatest accomplishment is that she has written a passionate defense of the necessity of fantasy for both children and adults. It is that depth that makes this book much more than a single subject "Harry Potter" book. Moreover, she manages to go beyond quoting the "usual suspects" of C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton. She has done her homework. For those who are leery of Harry Potter and his gung-ho supporters, I must add that Brown comes from the stance of one who was equally leery and forbade her children the books ... until she began investigating them, which in itself is an interesting and instructive tale.

Easy to read, this book is also a bit addictive as I kept picking it up after long absences due to the distraction of other books. I thought I would only glance through it, and then would find myself sucked in to read yet more. Highly recommended even if you don't have any problems with the Harry Potter books.

This is a wonderful little handbook that should make life easier for those who wish to pray the office of the hours or would like a resource for other devotions such as the Eucharist, Holy Name of Jesus, Sacred Blood of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the Seven Joys and Seven Sorrows of Mary. There are some introductory sections but these are succinct and the book is mostly devoted to the prayers in text that is large enough to be read in dim light (which can be especially helpful during Adoration or in other such situations). My one problem with this book is that Storey seems to assume everyone automatically knows what the "five hours" of prayer are. He refers constantly to them but never says what they are. Or if he does, it is impossible to find them as I have scoured the book looking. At any rate, that is a minor problem compared to the resource that this book is and I recommend it.

THE GENIUS OF JOHN PAUL II: The Great Pope's Moral Wisdom by Richard A. Spinello
This is a comprehensive look at Pope John Paul II's moral vision set against the moral relativism of the modern world. This is a dense book, which is why it has taken me a very long time to work my way through it. However, it is well worth if for anyone who wants to better understand just how well the late pope's views stand up to criticisms of prominent dissenters. More than anything we are reminded that JPII's continual focus on the dignity of the human person is the basis for not only his writings but, at the most basic level, it is also a reflection of the basis of our Catholic faith. This book deserves a much more in-depth review. As I said, I have put off writing and finally posted this because I just can't make the time I need to do it justice. Read Jeff Miller's Amazon review for a more thorough treatment of the book. Highly recommended.

Not That I Want to Say That American Workmanship Has Gone to Hell in a Handbasket ...

... but I really am faced with unavoidable evidence of that very thing. Within the last year our 1-1/2 year old Kenmore dishwasher stopped having a real dryer cycle ... rather than pay for the repairs we have simply decided to live with it. Not that big of a deal although very annoying in an almost new appliance.

Now, within the last week:
  • Our 10-year-old washer's bearings have burned out and would take $1,600 to fix (yes, you read that right ... Maytag, hang your head in shame!)
  • Our Maytag dryer now won't turn off so that we have to set a timer to go stop the clothes from being frizzled
  • Yesterday, our 2-year-old Kenmore refrigerator's compressor suddenly gave out ... and Sears (Sears!) can't get a repairman available until Wednesday! Not that I mind camping and cooking out of a cooler but I like to plan it so that I don't have things like lettuce and shrimp to deal with ... and not in my own kitchen, thanks.
This all just goes to support the GE repairman who came about a month ago to repair our 1982 oven. He looked at it and shook his head and said, "They don't make them like this any more. This is good solid workmanship."

From 1982? That is not what I'd look at as a time representing the bastion of good, solid American workmanship ... but we now have the evidence to prove it scattered all over our house.

Remember the 1970s when you figured you'd take your American car back to the shop several times after you bought it so they could get it to run right? Obviously, the appliance makers are in that same trough of lackluster workmanship. I really don't want to have to have two of everything so that when one is broken you can fall back on the second. It's one thing if I had a Jaguar ... but sheez.

C'mon America, where's your pride?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

A Bleg for Julie from Sotto, Sotto ...

...but can you think of any Catholic bloggers who live in Nashville?

We might be (gasp) moving there, should my husband get a job offer in the next few weeks. Finding a good parish with a school is the first thing I'd like to do if that happens...then we can think about where to live.
If you've got any scoop on the place go let her know!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Mother Teresa, Stephen Colbert and Fr. Martin

All together in this this clip ... ok, Mother Teresa is only there in spirit ... absolutely hilarious, needless to say.

Responses to Certain Questions ... Concerning Artificial Nutrition and Hydration





First question: Is the administration of food and water (whether by natural or artificial means) to a patient in a "vegetative state" morally obligatory except when they cannot be assimilated by the patient’s body or cannot be administered to the patient without causing significant physical discomfort?

Response: Yes. The administration of food and water even by artificial means is, in principle, an ordinary and proportionate means of preserving life. It is therefore obligatory to the extent to which, and for as long as, it is shown to accomplish its proper finality, which is the hydration and nourishment of the patient. In this way suffering and death by starvation and dehydration are prevented.

Second question: When nutrition and hydration are being supplied by artificial means to a patient in a "permanent vegetative state", may they be discontinued when competent physicians judge with moral certainty that the patient will never recover consciousness?

Response: No. A patient in a "permanent vegetative state" is a person with fundamental human dignity and must, therefore, receive ordinary and proportionate care which includes, in principle, the administration of water and food even by artificial means.

* * *

The Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI, at the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, approved these Responses, adopted in the Ordinary Session of the Congregation, and ordered their publication.

Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, August 1, 2007.
Here is the original.

The Curt Jester has many more links to related writing, including to a lengthy commentary by the CDF on this subject.

"Back of the Bus" Christians? No Way.

In the past couple of weeks I have encountered both Protestant friends and strangers who feel that the Catholic emphasis on the Church as the full depository of Christ's revelation is a put down, that Catholics consider them "back of the bus" Christians, that their prayers mean nothing.

Plainly put, this is against Church teachings, as stated in the Catechism, specifically from paragraph 817 on in this section (yes, I realize that is most of the section ... read it anyway).

Sadly, the way that some people put forward the Church as the "One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church" is quite often uncharitable and argumentative to say the least. It is one thing to state and explain the truth, but quite another to rub it in someone's face like a bully with a handful of mud.

Red Neck Woman mirrors my own feelings, indeed my own condition, shockingly accurately. Certainly, in her conversion story, she states my stance much better than I could (I have added emphasis below.) The Church is not something to be flourished at others triumphantly. It is a gift that we wish to share, because everyone deserves something so wonderful as what we have found.

Here's the bit that pertains to this subject. However, her conversion story is well worth reading in its own right so click over there and do so.
I still am uncharitable, arrogant, and have an appalling lack of humility and it is only by the immense Grace of God that I am only slightly less so now than then. I want it clearly understood that I believe that the Fullness of Faith rests in the Catholic Church and that all of God's faithful children belong in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. He has lead me home to the shelter of His Church and given me the gift of the Magisterium and the Sacraments and by His merciful kindness I will persevere to the end and continue to grow in holiness. That does not mean however, that I consider myself a better Christian than any of my Protestant brothers and sisters. They are my brothers and sisters in Christ and I am frequently and regularly humbled by their holiness. I am know without a doubt that there are many of my Protestant brothers and sisters who are better and holier Christians than I am and when you compensate for my lack of humility I am certain that the number is even higher than I acknowledge but just as I am a better Christian because of my submission to the Fullness of Faith in the Catholic Church they could be better too. I fervently pray for complete unity among all Christians and I believe that is only possible within the Roman Catholic Church.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Aurora Update

Jane writes:
At this point, the procedures which were used by PP during the application process are being questioned. It seems that PP may have been somewhat deceptive in the way paperwork was completed. I'm sure this type of behavior by PP comes as a complete shock to you all.

Please continue to pray for the city council as they will have the final say regarding the occupancy permit. The lawyer who is investigating is unlikely to have his research completed in time for the opening on the 18th so it looks as though it will at the very least be delayed.

There are two big events coming up this Saturday. One is the "Jericho March" around the facility and the Pro-life Baby Shower to benefit three local crisis pregnancy centers. Please keep these events and the people working at them in your prayers.
You can read more about the events here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

September 11: Our Memories and Our Determination

Much of this is reposted and somewhat updated from last year because I think this stands as the tribute I want to make. I will update it as I come across other tributes.


I see that last year, I got an email last week mentioning that a deadline was September 11. Maybe it's silly but seeing that date attached to a deadline shocked me. No reason not to have it be a deadline but it seemed ... somehow ... irreverent to have the usual business of the day on that date.

This year a similar thing happened, except that since I remember September 11 was a Tuesday and happened around 9:00 in the morning, I was stunned momentarily when making a vet appointment for our dog. I commented on the fact that it would be September 11 and the young receptionist had an indifferent silence and then merely encouraged me to continue making the appointment, which stung even more than the memory.


To me, it is sad that the best tribute I saw in the newspaper was a paid Open Letter by a local car dealer. It is too long for me to include in its entirety and I hope that they will post the ad for people to read at their website. If you have The Dallas Morning News, it is on page 3 of the Metro section.
... But I also recall that for a few short weeks, America came together. Republicans, Democrats and all the other parties were united in the message GOD BLESS AMERICA. I saw more American flags flying than I had ever seen in my life. People who had not owned a flag in years flocked to stores to put one in front of their home, their businesses and in the back of their pickups. for those few short weeks, we put aside our personal problems and focused on helping those killed in this brutal attack.

Now six years later, I wonder where all those flags are? My guess is that most are in their closets gathering dust along with those feelings we felt on that fateful day. ...

Find time today to reflect on the day we were attacked. At 9:03 AM today, the time of the last plane crash in Pennsylvania, all my employees will gather in front of my dealerships for a moment of silence to honor those who innocently died that day. I hope you'll find the time to do the same or feel free to join our family ...

If you do nothing else this year, take a few minutes and watch this tribute. Remember what it meant ... what it means still.

Who can watch this, perhaps the best of the tributes and not remember vividly all that we felt? I watch it and I still cry. By the way the web site and their cd are now archived at The Smithsonian Institute.


That time is always mixed for me with images of hospitals and personal emotions in another way because Tom's father had a massive stroke two days after September 11. We left the girls with friends and drove to Houston for what proved to be a harrowing time. No matter what else was happening, the television in the hospital was on, whether with the sound on or not.

Here is a sample of what others were living through as we watched in horror.
In my dress and non-sensible shoes I climbed (my grandmothers will forgive me) in the least dignified fashion, over the barrier. I crouched next to a man with a green striped oxford cloth shirt. I helped him cut it with my Swiss Army Knife scissors so he could put a piece over his nose and mouth. We shared water. He tried to use my cell phone to call his wife or girlfriend. It didn't work. Everyone started praying. Jesus' rang out all around me. I didn't care. My prayer was to see Andrew and Aaron again. This moment was the only time I thought I was going to die.

I kept thinking about the crying woman with the screaming baby. I kept hearing babies crying--no adults...how do you protect a 6-month old from all of this damn ASH?

It was hard to breathe. I couldn't always see the water, so close by, maybe eight...ten feet down? It was so dark. I thought, very carefully and precisely:
  • I could jump in the water if the fire comes.
  • I could get some debris and hold on and float to Brooklyn...I think that's where the current goes from here.
  • There is no debris to use. I haven't seen anything larger than my fingernail fall to the water.
  • I could jump in the water and swim.
  • I don't know how cold the water is. How long could I last? How fast is the current? How much deeper would my breaths be in cold water? Is it better to stay on the land?
  • How do I get back to Brooklyn? My husband and baby are there.
  • They're going to bomb the Brooklyn Bridge next aren't they?...and then the Statue of Liberty...and maybe The Empire State Building and Central Park...if they're trying to break us, they'll go there. They'll hit the places we love.
We heard the fog horns of the ferryboats. The man to my right panicked and thought the ferry was going to hit us. Everyone got up fast and then realized we were better off under the edge again. We shared our water bottles and started climbing back down. Silence closed in around us and I could hear tiny pieces of debris and ash plink into the water.

At some point I looked up and to my left and could see the white disk of the sun above me. I tapped the Muslim man next to me and pointed up. Our eyes smiled at each other over our handkerchiefs. Briefly there was blue in front of me then it was gone again.
excerpt from Heather Ordover's firsthand account
(she was a teacher at a school next to the towers)

For some reason, the image that sticks with me from driving down there and back, aside from all the American flags, was the beat up pickup truck with the gun rack and Confederate flag stickers that had "We are all New Yorkers today" written on their windows. For a Texan to write that ... well, at that moment we realized that the terrorists had no idea what they had done.


NPR's StoryCorps recorded many rembrances of those who lost loved ones in the September 11 attacks. Go to the link and select the September 11 category to listen to them.

“He was tough on the outside—big, big, soft guy on the inside.”

“When I met Michael I was 14 years old.”

“When he was five, we went into a candy store…”

“When I used to hug him, the whole world disappeared…”

“Her eyes sparkled to me. One day they were blue; the next day they were green.”

“He was a high adventurer.”

“His sister idolized him.”
The Anchoress remembers too ...
I haven’t forgotten. I have too many firefighter friends to ever forget. I haven’t forgotten watching the tape of the first Tower burning and saying to my pal, over the phone, “it’s a beautiful clear day; no plane is going to accidentally hit the WTC - this is NOT an accident,” and both of us gasping because, just as I said it, the second plane hit. I haven’t forgotten because my husband was on a plane that morning, traveling on business, and for a little while we didn’t know what flights we were looking at, exploding before our eyes. Those of us who had loved ones in planes heard about the Pentagon, and about a plane going down in Pennsylvania - there were reports (false) that a carbomb was discovered outside of the Supreme Court. My friend called me back, pleading and in shock - “what is happening, what is happening in our country!” Finally the phone call from my husband, trapped in Atlanta, and I was able to call my kids schools and tell the offices, “please, please tell my kids that their father wasn’t on any of those planes, that he is alright!”
Who can read this article by one of our national treasures in painting with words and not be swept back in time?
Flight 93 flight attendant Ceecee Lyles, 33 years old, in an answering-machine message to her husband: "Please tell my children that I love them very much. I'm sorry, baby. I wish I could see your face again."

Thirty-one-year-old Melissa Harrington, a California-based trade consultant at a meeting in the towers, called her father to say she loved him. Minutes later she left a message on the answering machine as her new husband slept in their San Francisco home. "Sean, it's me, she said. "I just wanted to let you know I love you."

Capt. Walter Hynes of the New York Fire Department's Ladder 13 dialed home that morning as his rig left the firehouse at 85th Street and Lexington Avenue. He was on his way downtown, he said in his message, and things were bad. "I don't know if we'll make it out. I want to tell you that I love you and I love the kids."

Who among us does not stop, whether a tribute is seen or not, and remember where we were, what we were doing, at that heart-stopping moment when everything changed?
I turn on the TV and watch as the plane slowly flies into the Tower.
Hail Mary, full of grace
My daughter wanders downstairs, shoes in hand,
Turns to look at what has me transfixed on a weekday morning.
The Lord is with thee.

A time when even the most public figures struggled with what it meant to be "normal" and "go back to work. When we remembered what united us more than what divided us? When we felt our humanity.

I plucked these photos from those found at The Doctor is In.

I am very glad that Project 2,996 happened year and that I saw so many heartfelt tributes done for so many different kinds of people. It reminds me that the number of people who died is not just a number. Each was a soul, valuable in the eyes of God and to the people all around them. Valuable to us.
"All of you saw today what happened in New York. Consider how many firefighters died today. You will never be able to claim that you don't know what this job is about. Every single day you go out there you don't know what's going to happen or if you'll make it home. Those who responded today planned to go home after their shift...and instead, we're going to be watching funerals of firefighters for weeks. You know what this job is about and you know the risk. So after witnessing something like this, if some of you, or all of you, choose not to come back tomorrow, we will all understand."

I continue to be struck by the hard, ongoing work done by others to keep us safe, of the many months of patient work that go in to discover conspiracies still underway.
The 4th of July isn't the day the 13 Colonies won their independence from Britain; it's the day they declared their independence. On the 4th we celebrate their eventual victory, but more than that we celebrate the resolve, vision, and determination which led to that victory.

Today, September 11th, we remember those thousands of innocent American civilians who died in the brutal attack on the Twin Towers. But 9/11 is more that. It is the day we resolved, as a nation, not to knuckle under to the terrorist threat -- and more than that, to stomp it out.

We must not turn 9/11 into a simple day of remembrance. We have not earned that blessing.

We must not lose our determination.

We remember not only to honor the victims. We remember also to fuel our determination which can sink low after a seemingly long "safe" time. We need also to remember that time when the things that divided us seemed so much less important than the things that unite us. When we were one people, when hurting any of us hurt each one of us.

We must never forget.

Monday, September 10, 2007

From Rock 'N' Roll to Deus Caritas Est to Merton

I recently listened to "A Hard Days Night" again, and while I did think of love and even Lisa again, I was staggered by another revelation: rock and roll is a Catholic art form. The connection between the two seemed so obvious, I felt like Chesterton when he was asked what he liked about Western civilization. He didn’t know where to start.

I know, I know: This will take some explaining. Allow me to try. I’ll start by observing the obvious. ...
It takes guts, imagination, and sense of abiding love to connect rock 'n' roll and Deus Caritas Est, but Mark Judge does a fine job. Go read it.

The Anchoress tipped me off to this and said she thought it was right down my alley. She was right, as well as her comments being to my liking as well (no surprises there, eh?). She was put in mind of Thomas Merton's well known comment.
I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now that I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.
Thomas Merton
I must admit that I rarely think of Merton's statement but now that I think of it I do have similar moments, not that they are as sublime or universal as Merton's ... nor do I usually think of them for long afterwards unless prompted as I am today by The Anchoress.

There are times, for instance, when I am walking into work and I am prompted to look with great affection on everyone I pass as well as drop a little prayer for each. The raucous smokers outside the building in their little sheltered area, the person shouting into the speaker at the credit union drive through, the sweet-faced girl in the bathroom, the anxious looking man waiting in the office next door for an appointment, the old couple carefully making their way to the eye doctor's office ... somehow all are precious in a way I never would normally feel. It is a sublime feeling let me tell you.

Is this my doing? Pfft! No way. Which is why I say that I am prompted ... it is a grace. And one that you'd think I'd remember when I am cut off in traffic and madder than a wet hen at the idiot driving like that. Which is why I am not Thomas Merton. Maybe I'll remember it next time though ...

Reaching Out Our Hand to God ...

In the Gospel reading for today, from Luke 6:6-11, we read:
On a certain sabbath Jesus went into the synagogue and taught,
and there was a man there whose right hand was withered.
The scribes and the Pharisees watched him closely
to see if he would cure on the sabbath
so that they might discover a reason to accuse him.
But he realized their intentions
and said to the man with the withered hand,
“Come up and stand before us.”
And he rose and stood there.
Then Jesus said to them,
“I ask you, is it lawful to do good on the sabbath
rather than to do evil,
to save life rather than to destroy it?”
Looking around at them all, he then said to him,
“Stretch out your hand.”
He did so and his hand was restored.
But they became enraged
and discussed together what they might do to Jesus.
I always have thought of this in terms of Jesus challenging the Pharisees, however, in my morning devotional reading I see that the Fathers of the Church looked deeper. Which was just what I needed to hear. Just in case it is what you need too, I share it below.
Some Fathers of the Church have seen in these words of the Lord, Stretch out your hand, the need to exercise the virtues. Saint Ambrose comments: Stretch out your hand often by doing favors for your neighbor, by protecting form harm one who suffers under the weight of calumny; stretch out your hand to the poor man who begs from you; stetch out your hand to the Lord,asking pardon for your sins. This is how you stretch out your hand, and this is how you will be cured. We do this by performing small acts of the virtue we are seeking to acquire, taking small steps toward the goal we wish to reach. If we concentrate on what we are doing, God does wonders through our seemingly small efforts. If the man with the withered hand had placed his reliance on his own previous experience rather than on the word of the Lord, he might not have done the little our Lord asked of him, and perhaps would have spent the rest of his life with his disability uncured. Virtues are formed day by day. Sanctity is forged by being faithful in details, in everyday things, in actions which might seem irrelevant if not vivified by grace ...

The man with the withered hand was docile to Jesus' words. He got up in the midst of everyone as the Lord had asked him. He listened to his words telling him to stretch out his diseased hand. Spiritual direction is geared to the Holy Spirit's intimate action within the soul, unceasing suggesting small conquests which dispose us to receive additional graces. When a Christian does all he can so that virtues develop in his soul (removing obstacles, distancing himself from occasions of sin, fighting resolutely and decisively at the first appearance of temptations) God then generously supplies new help to strengthen incipient virtues; He grants the gifts of the Holy Spirit which perfect the habits already formed by grace.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Oil of Charity

For me, this is the essence of how we are to live our life in Christ ... certainly it is how we will show Him to others.
The theological virtue of charity has to illuminate all our acts, everywhere and in every moment: when we are feeling well and when we are sick, when we are tired, in moments of failure; when we are with people we get on with well and also with those we find more abrasive or difficult; at work and at home; in a word always. The well-disposed soul has always got a lively, firm and resolute determination to forgive, to endure, to help and an attitude that always moves it to perform acts of charity. If this desire of loving, and of loving disinterestedly, has taken root in the soul, it will have the most convincing proof that its communions, confessions, meditations and its whole life of prayer are in good order and sincere and fruitful (B. Bauer, In Silence with God).

The oil that keeps charity alight is prayer that is attentive and full of love: intimacy with Jesus. It is not hard to see what charity is often not practised even by many people who call themselves Christians. But if we then consider things from a supernatural point of view, we can also see what is the rood cause of this sterility: the absence of a continuous and intense, person-to-person relationship with Our Lord Jesus Christ, and an ignorance of the work of the Holy Spirit in the soul, whose very first fruit is precisely charity (J. Escriva, Friends of God).

Saturday, September 1, 2007