28 June 2007

Admonish the sinner

The Seven Works of Mercy, Caravaggio

Round hole; square peg. The two sides of my family are so dissimilar in their approach to things, it's jarring to talk to members of both in the same day. To simplify, my family is of German descent on my father's side and Irish descent on my mother's. There is a lot of Irish and Scottish thrown into the German side and Swiss German mixed into my mother's Irish side, but what remains in their way of thinking, to this day, is very different. One side would admonish the sinner in a not-too-delicate way, and then never speak to them again -- they are anathema. The other side would invite them in for tea, and in the course of polite conversation, gently dance around the distasteful subject forefront in their mind, discussing tangential subjects, but never really meeting the issue head on.

Family lore has it that my, born-and-bred, German Catholic great-grandfather on my dad's side, was disowned by his parents when he did the unthinkable. It was unimaginable and unforgivable: he married a, born-and-bred, Irish Catholic. (Actually, she was Scottish, but they were all the same to my father's family since she wasn't, heaven forbid, German! It was a foregone conclusion everyone in the family would all marry other German Catholics.) Although I really have my doubts about this story, and there technically isn't a sin involved (I can hear some of my ancestors rolling in their graves), it illustrates my German ancestors' mindset and their approach to discord, disagreement and confrontation. I refer to this branch of my family as the "Cut off your nose to spite your face" side.

In my Irish Catholic family, rules were still rules, but Paddy was a good man despite his short comings. Often times, Paddy was a good man even if Paddy broke all the rules and was unrepentant. I refer to this branch of my family as the "Ostrich with its head stuck in the sand" side.

Both sides, combined, make me a bit schizophrenic on this topic.

The voice of reason
According to the Baltimore Catechism, listed first among the chief spiritual works of mercy, we are bound to admonish the sinner when the following conditions are fulfilled:

When his fault is a mortal sin;
When we have authority or influence over him, and
When there is reason to believe that our warning will not make him worse instead of better.

My German branch has no problem with the warning the sinner. It's the part about doing it with charity and discretion that they miss. They tend to get out the well-used 2x4 and take no prisoners. Venture off the straight and narrow, innocently or not, and you hear about it. Loudly. Although behavior is no longer corrected in German in this generation, when it comes to my family, sailors certainly don't have a monopoly on the colorful language market.

Sometimes it seems, people take other people's sins personally, maybe as a matter of pride or how they think it may reflect on the family. If drunk Uncle Joe causes the neighbors to peek out their curtains to see what's going on, Uncle Joe is reprimanded and banished. It's harsh and unkind. We are told to love the sinner; hate the sin. To see Jesus in everyone. This isn't to be read as, "Ah, can't we all just get along?" No, not at all. A sin is a sin. But our compassion in these situations speaks louder and does more to bring the sinner out of his sin than ostracism and banishment ever will. Judgemental actions, by Catholics and Christians, tend to cause others to view us as hypocritical and hollow.

Then we turn to me beloved Irish side. Growing up, I bristled at this branch's inability to directly tackle the subject of sin. A quote by Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz (I could find no documentation on this, however), warns the faithful to be “careful that words like ‘caution’ and ‘prudence’ are not simply used as an excuse for inaction, inability, sloth, or cowardice which prevents us from sharing a truth with others.” So succinct, your Excellency, and so apropos. My impression is this branch assumes the person who should be admonished knows full well how the reluctant admonisher feels about the inappropriateness of the behavior, so why cause hard feelings by mentioning it. Someone needs to tell Uncle Joe, if he spent all day Saturday drinking, then Uncle Joe better not be going to Holy Communion on Sunday. And, if he tries to get up out of the pew to go, you better grab him by his suspenders, sit him back down, and whisper a few words in his ear. Too dramatic, but you get the point.

Standing in the middle of these two diverse approaches, I, sometimes, am able to see the benefits and pitfalls of both. I hope I get to the point where day and night balance; my reaction is measured and prudent. I need to resist my propensity to judge, act rash and say things that hurt more than help. I need to love the sinner, but realize that leaving him in his sin is not love nor charity. Even more than my family, I often get it wrong, just ask my confessor.

It is not charity to confirm someone in their sin.
Fr. John Corapi

From the halls of Montezuma

Since it's a busy day, with little time, I had seen this comment by Fr. Richard John Neuhaus in First Things, and thought it was interesting. I had known Congressman Keith Ellison, from Minneapolis, used Thomas Jefferson's copy of the Qur’an when he took the Oath of Office, but I wasn't aware of the connection to Jefferson and the Marine Hymn. Although I knew what the words of the hymn were referring to, I never put two and two together to realize that Jefferson was the president at that time. Ironic.

But then there is this delicious irony: [Keith] Ellison is pictured taking the oath on a copy of the Qur’an borrowed from the Thomas Jefferson collection in the Library of Congress. Now, as it happens, Jefferson had very definite, and less than complimentary, views about Islam and good reason for consulting the Qur’an. After American independence, the Muslim pirates of the Barbary Coast, as it was then called, waged a war of terror against American shipping, taking thousands of American sailors and civilians captive as slaves. Payments in ransom and tribute to the privateering Barbary states amounted to 20 percent of United States government annual revenues in 1800. Jefferson thought enough was enough. When he was the U.S. ambassador to France, he had had some experience in negotiating with Muslims and was not favorably impressed. In 1786 there were negotiations with Tripoli’s envoy to London, Ambassador Sidi Haji Abdrahaman. He was asked by what right he extorted money and took slaves. Jefferson reported to Secretary of State John Jay, and to the Congress: “The ambassador answered us that [the right] was founded on the Laws of the Prophet (Mohammed), that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have answered their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners, and that every Mussulman who should be slain in battle was sure to go to heaven.” After being inaugurated as president in 1801, Jefferson declared the U.S. policy to be “millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute.” In 1805, the Marines were sent in, marching across the desert of Egypt into what was then called Tripolitania, compelling the surrender of Tripoli and the release of all American slaves. Hence the U.S. Marines sing to this day: “From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli/ We will fight our country’s battles in the air, on land and sea.” It is not evident from the news accounts whether Congressman Ellison intended the choice of Jefferson’s Qur’an as a sign of his support for America’s current struggle against Jihadism.

Many of the Founding Fathers would not even recognize this place today.

27 June 2007

A Sally Field moment

Wow. I was wondering why I had an increase in people reading my blog. The National Catholic Register put me on their blog watch today!! Specifically, about my earlier post on naming children. (Update: If you're reading this now for the first time, you won't see my blog listed at the NCR site...it was just for the day. Check the site out for links to other great blogs).

Thank you!

"...I can't deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!"
Sally Field, 1985, upon winning her Oscar for Places in the Heart

Survey says...

This is snipped from an e-mail I got from Relevant Radio. It was from a Q&A about transubstantiation. Very disturbing. I think we need to start catechising Catholics about their faith!

In a 1992 Gallup poll, the majority of Catholics are confused in their beliefs about Christ’s presence in the Eucharist. According to this poll 70% of all Catholics hold erroneous beliefs about Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist:

30% believe they are really and truly receiving the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ under the appearance of bread and wine (Catholic Doctrine)
29% believe they are receiving bread and wine that symbolize the body and blood of Jesus
10% believe they receive bread and wine in which Jesus is also present.
24% believe they are receiving what has become Christ’s body and blood because of their personal belief.

The Holy Eucharist is Jesus himself and because of this the Eucharist is the heart of the Catholic faith.

Darwin was right - pets become people

Sponsor A Child

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Rosell from Philippines is one of the thousands of children waiting for a sponsor. For just 80 cents a day, you can give her a chance to escape poverty by providing her with some of life's basic needs -- education, health care, and nutritious food.


Sponsor A Pet

Tonia is a beautiful three year old tabby cat. Tonia was very shy when she first came to the ASPCA, but under the caring attention of staff and volunteers she has become more comfortable. She really adores having her head scratched and closes her eyes in ecstasy, and is happy to snooze on the pillows in the Urban Cat Habitat where she can usually be found. Tonia has been at the shelter for quite a while, but she knows the right person is out there who can appreciate all her wonderful qualities and respect her limitations. Might you be the one to open your heart to our lovely Tonia?

(I wonder when the New Evangelization will begin to include our beloved pets.)

26 June 2007

What's in a name?

That which we call a rose
Naming kids is not an easy job. Most parents think long and hard about the handle their kid will have for the rest of their life. Rightly so.

Way back in kindergarten, I remember our grade school counselor talking to our class. I don't remember the topic, but I do recall him saying that he and his wife reflected on their son's name, before settling on Aaron, because it isn't an easy name to nickname or tease. I just stood there and looked at him and thought, Huh?

Then I had kids of my own.

Fortunately, my husband and I had an easy time picking names. We had our children's names picked out before we were married. Oddly enough, we both liked the same names. They were family names. My family's. I never insisted on the names; it just came naturally. Honest.

My husband is a "Junior," too. I thought this would be a problem with his family, especially since our first-born was a son. However, my husband was having no part in naming his son after him with all the problems he had distinguishing himself from his father. Not in a "Now I'm a man and need a separate identity" sense, but in the "Gee, the credit report is all screwed up with your father's credit, now what do we do" sense. Problems still persist, related to them having the same name. We get many AARP fliers and senior citizen literature addressed to my husband. Fortunately, my parents-in-law didn't want to see their grandson carry on the name. Amen. At least we agree on something.

A very distant relation on my husband's side, who I correspond with because of my genealogy interests, just had a great-grandson. The kid's name was akin to Quiet Justice Smith. Seriously. How far we have come from picking kid's names to make their lives easier, or remind them that they are part of a family with a long history, and got on the track of picking names that will make their life hell, just to satisfy the parents' need for attention or individualism or the right to be a whackadoo?

I don't see many people petitioning the court to change their name to things like Apple, Moon Unit, Low Carbon Footprint, etc., but I'd bet the courts are going to see an increase of people wanting to get rid of these nasty things. Maybe the parents should have to set up an account to cover the future costs of therapy and legal expenses if they are going to do crazy things like this.

May the road rise up to meet you
My mother's Irish family followed naming customs for generations. The first son was named after the father's father. Second son after one of the father's brothers (or in some cases the mother's father) and the third son was named after the father. It didn't really matter for girls. They were free to have pretty much whatever name you wanted, as long as it was a family name and/or a saint's name.

On the other side of my mother's family, the Swiss branch, every boy, literally for centuries, was named Johan, Christian, Joseph, Lorenz or Philip, with the middle name being one of the other names not previously chosen as the first name. The girls had the choice of Maria (to honor the Blessed Mother) or Catherina as a first name, with Ursula, Magdalena, Barbara or Ana as a middle name. Maybe not very original by today's standards, but there was an overriding sense of family back then that is completely foreign in today's world. It was an honor to be named after Grandpa Joe.

When I was a kid, everyone had a "Christian" name. I didn't know too many Dweezils. Catholics named their children after saints. Or, if they were really trendy, would name their kid something of that generation's sensibilities and then, for the middle name, gave the kid the awful family name like Gertrude or Theodore. My dad's family is full of Theodores. And Hermans. My dad wanted to name my brother Wolfgang, but thank goodness mom won that argument.

I think I'm the last one in my family to loosely carry on the naming custom. My son is named after my grandfather and my father, which happen to be great saints' names and names of many other family members. My daughter is named after my mother and oodles of family. Good, strong saints' names. Oddly, no one in the family bats an eye at Quiet Justice's name, but I got some weird comments on my choices of names. Just not too original in my thinking or something.

Before we had childen, my sister-in-law gave me a list of names I couldn't use because they were names she might one day name her kids. Other than this being hugely presumptuous, it was unnecessary. I wasn't choosing from the era's most popular names, like Madison, or Kaitlyn and it's many spellings. The names my husband and I considered were merely the boring names no one else wanted.

The nearby parish printed a list of all the children baptized during the year. In this large Catholic parish, there were no other Marks and only a few Catherines. We could never hope to keep up with the Joneses. To each his own though.

An older post on Dappled Things had this to say:
The traditional imposition of the name takes place at a child's baptism (and so we have our English phrase "to christen," which means not just "to baptize" but also "to name"). The first thought in a Catholic parent's mind ought to be, "I want this child to have a Christian name." (And, recall, too, that "Christian name" used to be synonymous with "given name.") One's culture is really the only thing that limits the number of names a child can receive (some European royals and aristocrats have close to a dozen), although in this country we generally stick to two (the "first" and "middle" names).

What is a Christian name? It is most frequently a name that calls certain Saints to mind as the child's principal patrons. Some families choose at least one of the names based upon the Saint's day on which a child is born. Other families have certain Saints who are especially honored in their families, and they choose one of these. I've known some people who give the name based upon a private vow, ("St Anthony, if you let my baby be born safe and sound, I'll name him after you.") Or, one can use the patrons of some relative (which goes together with naming the baby after someone). It's also acceptable to use a Saint's surname as a given name: I've known people named Mayela (for St Gerardo Mayela), Vianney (for St Jean-Marie Vianney), and so forth.

When my children were baptized, their names were important since they were included in part of the ceremony. Those particular saints were entrusted with keeping an eye out for my kids. There is no Saint Raspberry Crisp to petition. Although, with the way kids are being named, there one day may be.

With a bad name you are already partly hanged.
A proverb

25 June 2007

Final resting place of the apostles - I
St. John
Selçuk, Near Ephesus, Turkey

Selçuk area: Bottom left is the Isa Bey mosque, top center is an ancient fortress and center right are the ruins of the Bascilica of St. John

The book I bought at the homeschool conference, Catholic and Loving It, has a list of the final resting places of the 12 apostles (p. 58). I have been to a few of these places, so this kind of interested me and I thought I'd blog about it.

St. John has always been my favorite. When I was pregnant with my son, I "named" his Guardian Angel, John, because John was the beloved apostle, full of charity and compassion, and I knew he would look after my son during a very rough pregnancy. After all, Jesus trusted John enough to look after His own mother.

What is now the countryside, just a few miles from Ephesus, are the remains of the Basilica of St. John (St. Jean Aniti). The bascilica, shown below in a recreation of what the church looked like, was constructed by Emperor Justinian in the 6th century. It stood over the believed burial site of St. John. St. John lived a long life, with reports placing him around 96-100 years old.

The basilica stood on the slopes of Ayasoluk Hill near the center of Selçuk, just below an ancient fortress. St. John's basilica was cruciform and roofed with six massive domes. The capitals facing the nave (central aisle, surrounding the tomb) bear the monograms of the Emperor Justinian and his wife Theodora.

Legend maintains that St. John wrote his gospel in Ephesus, then died on Ayasoluk Hill. Later legends developed that he was not really dead, but sleeping, and dust could even be seen moving above his grave as he breathed.

The traditional tomb of St. John is raised by two steps and covered with marble. The tomb was under the central dome, in the transcept.

The plaque says: St. John Mezari, The Grave of St. John.

The current entrance leads into the basilica through the southern transept. Originally, entry was through the oversize exterior courtyard atrium to the west of the nave, which led worshipers through the narthex and finally into the far end of the nave.

The brick foundations and marble walls have been partially reconstructed; if they were fully restored, the cathedral would be the seventh largest in the world. Recently, excavations east of the apse have revealed a key-hole shaped baptistery and central pool, along with an attached chapel covered in frescoes depicting the saints. Rampart walls around the church were constructed for protection from the Arabian attacks in the 7th - 8th centuries AD.

Baptistery, right side faces Jerusalem, left side faces Rome. People were baptised walking from right to left, old life to new life.

The bascilica's construction of stone and brick was very uncommon for architecture during this time. Sadly, however, with the decline in importance of Ephesus and after Arab raids, the basilica fell into ruins until the Seljuk Aydinoglu clan converted it into a mosque in 1330. The building was then completely destroyed in 1402 by Tamerlane's Mongol army. The ruined church was later pillaged for building materials, but recent restoration enables visitors to understand its size and visualize its former splendor.

The remains of St. John and the bascilica lie in the picturesque and bucolic Turkish countryside, very peaceful and serene.

24 June 2007

Buridan's ass

Heard in the classroom
Some of you may have heard about this in a philosophy, theology or psych class. It's kind of a philosophical mind game. The idea is not new and has been around for centuries, initially articulated by Aristotle. Aristotle used an example of a man, equally positioned between food and water, remained unmoved because he was as hungry as he was thirsty.

Taking the idea a bit further, Buridan's ass is the paradox named after the 14th century French philosopher, Jean Buridan, which states that an "entirely rational ass, placed exactly in the middle between two stacks of hay of equal size and quality, will starve since it cannot make any rational decision to start eating one rather than the other." Buridan also stated, however, the will could delay the choice to study the outcomes of the choice.

Heard on the street
Personally, I never really believed the ass was rational. I think the hay stacks are obfuscating the real choice, that being between life and death. The dumb donkey either eats or starves. Not hard to see the better of the two choices here. That the hay stacks are equal, actually makes them no choice at all. One is neither better than the other, nor is it a choice of one being different than another, since in both cases you are merely choosing parts of the same.

This relates to a math problem in many respects. Algebra. Once you can group like objects together and assign them one variable, you are further on your way to solving the problem. Instead of having fruits, vegetables, desserts and such, you group them all together under the heading of "Food" and move on with the rest of the equation.

Pro-choice and pro-life are not equally good positions. They, the analogous haystacks, are so dissimilar morally, philosophically, religiously, in their outcomes, and in their effects, that they cannot be lumped together. These positions are not of equal "quality." Most people would define death as a bad, maybe not even in a moral or religious sense, but to not be on the planet to do as you please -- for those folks who follow that kind of thinking -- would find that being dead isn't so good. Partying is better than not existing. So, the opposite is true; life is good. Then, there is no dilemma here, no room for fence sitting. Buridan's ass would have to move in one direction -- life, over the other -- death.

Unless he wasn't a rational ass to begin with.

23 June 2007

I think I'll try a Meme

Ray at Stella Borealis - Northland Catholic posted a Meme a few days ago. He didn't really tag anyone, but since I am dead tired and don't have much time, I thought I would do this Meme since I, at least, kinda, sorta, know the answers to this.

Here are the rules: Share four things that were new to you in the past four years. Four things you learned or experienced or explored for the first time in the past four years. Then share four things you want to try new in the next four years.

Things that are new in the last four years
1. Kids and all that comes with them. Joy, tears, no sleep, diapers, my life is no longer my own!, smiles, goofy things, unexpected things, more joy.
2. Not working. Here's where I admit that I'm now a 40-something. I worked all my life, put myself through college, worked and worked, and now I'm not working...at least not working for pay. I work a LOT, just not in the same way. Stay-at-home moms supposedly are worth a zillion dollars. Actually, it's something like $138K.
3. Blogging, duh.
4. Being more active in my faith and spiritual life. I joined a bible study and have made conscious efforts to move forward with devotions, more frequent confession, adoration, etc.
5. Sorry, had to add this one. I started reading. No, I wasn't illiterate, maybe a bit ignorant in some respects! I just never enjoyed reading. I always had to be "doing" something, not sitting still. Maybe that's why I liked engineering and math...you're always solving problems instead of exclusively reading. I don't like movies because I can't sit still that long. My sweet husband and I are complete opposites in this regard. He is a poster child for Slugs on a Couch, if he's allowed!! No, I'm not saying he's lazy. Nothing of the sort, just that our leisure time pursuits are very different!

Things I would like to try in the next four years
1. I would like to finish my Masters in Engineering, but since I'm not working and don't have my employer to sponge off, I'm stuck. We can't afford the tuition. We can't even afford the books. Plus, I just don't know how I'd manage to do it with the kids. How do people manage to do grad school with kids? Amazing. I took a few classes with a lady who just had a baby and was taking a heavier courseload than I was!
2. Joining a chant group or the like. I can't really sing, but I'd still like to find out more about it. I am pretty musically inclined, just don't have a great voice, not even in the shower.
3. Adopting. Still mulling it over. Maybe a subject of a future post.
4. I would like to try something I don't even foresee. Things change so quickly that I am sure something will come along. I'm kind of a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none since I try many things but don't stick with much for a long period of time, other than genealogy. Genealogy is definitely something I have done for many years now. Once I get proficient at something I tend to tire of it. Must be that I watched too much TV as a child or something. Too much sun, too much candy?

Seeing as most of the people who read this blog don't leave comments (do ya think I bite?), I wonder if they would come out of the shadows and leave their own meme in the comments section! Novel idea! You can do it anonymously. I won't hunt you down or report you to the authorities. Otherwise, anyone who really wants to be tagged is officially tagged.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

22 June 2007

Excommunicated times two

Boy, I wish I had read Adoro's post and her comments before I ventured over to SSPI. Those guys have NO sense of humor. Yi, yi, yi.

At least with the Spirit of Vatican II folks, you could joke. Yikes. Not with SSPI!!

Here are the comments that got me excommunicated.

swissmiss said...
Excuse me, Rev. Father Michael. You bear a strong resemblance to Pinhead in the movie Hellraiser. Was that you doing some sort of mortification?

Rev. Fr. Michael said...
+ Rev. Fr. Michael A. Heidrich +

swissmiss said...
But, Reverend Father, you didn't answer my question. Your society might want to look into this type of thing. It might actually put a smile on your face.

Who do I write to about an appeal for my excommunication? [Edited from original to correct typos]

Rev. Fr. Michael said...


Swissmiss… EXCOMMUNICATED X2 (for gross disregard of the absolute authority of the office of the Parochial Vicar)
+ Rev. Fr. Michael A. Heidrich +

Oh Happy Day! The definitive pronouncement of Excommunication works for me.

Then they went and picked on St. Agnes Catholic Church. Them is fighting words, Herr Kommissar, Reverend Father Michael A. Heidrich.

I do have to add a funny.

My husband is in Texas at the moment. I talked to him earlier and told him I had been "excommunicated." Then I told him what I had said. He roared through the phone, "YOU SAID THAT TO A PRIEST!!!!!!!"

I'm still plastered to the floor laughing!!

My father was German. Or, was of German descent to be more correct. He was raised with German spoken in the home. He, at least, had a great sense of humor, "Father Heidrich." And, he wasn't insane. Guess that's the problem with the extremes...one side is too full of happy juice and the other completely lacks it.

(For those who don't know...SOVII and SSPI are both parodies. Father Heidrich is as much a priest as I am.)

The ends justify the meanness

I was out with the kids today and came across another bumper sticker. Maybe you've already seen it. Sometimes it takes awhile for things to move into our part of the country, so I might be behind times. But, it seems that

has been replaced with

Machiavelli always reminds me of the class I took at St. Thomas from Father Welzbacher. It was called, "Sin and Sinners in Dante's Purgatory." Everyone in the class had to take one of the cantos and do a presentation on it, then sit in the front of the class and be grilled by Father Welzbacher.

I can't, for the life of me, remember what canto I had. At the time, I lived in fear of Father Welzbacher. He ran a tight ship and I didn't want to disappoint. I especially didn't want him to think I was an idiot. If you didn't appear to know your subject very well and couldn't answer his questions, the longer you sat in front of the class and the more he grilled you. Hot seat is right.

Fortunately, I did OK on my presentation since he didn't interrupt, or have me clarify, or ask me any questions about the canto, while I was presenting. Then I sat in the dreaded chair, placed all alone in the front of the class. I was so nervous, I can't even remember the question he asked me!! I do remember the answer was Machiavelli. Which I got correct. Well, partly. I said Mach-a-velli to which he corrected me immediately with MACH-I-A-VELLI. Uh oh. A few demerits there. Then he asked me the work MachIavelli had written. The Prince. Then he asked me for a concise summation of the book. Ends justify the means. That was it. I was out of the hot seat like my pants were on fire!!

I had never read Machiavelli, either.

Thank goodness for priests like Father Welzbacher. He knows his stuff, can articulate what he knows and there's no foolin' him. It's one of my fondest college memories...at least now that it is way in the past, my college degree was printed and can't be rescinded!! At least, I don't think they can take it back.

The other thing this poorly catechised Cradle Catholic learned was the Memorare. Everyday, as soon as class started, we stood and said the Memorare. I had to learn it just to get through the class. It is now my favorite prayer. Thank you, Father, for learnin' me sumptin'.

BTW: For anyone familiar with UST, this was a J-term class. Others were taking stupid courses on soap operas (literally) and the like. No sympathy, I know, my suffering was self-imposed. What was I thinking???

A harbinger?

My hardworking husband is out of town in Austin, TX, where it has actually been cooler than here.

I get to be mom and dad for a few days, which means no luxury of a mental break. My husband is good about taking care of the kids when he gets home from work. After dinner, I go upstairs for a short break, while my sweet husband clears the remaining dishes into the dishwasher and rough-houses with the kids. On the nights that are bath nights, he is the one who handles them.

The past few nights I haven't had my mental health breaks after dinner. I don't think I've suffered too adversely, but you'd have to ask the children.

Last night, I tackled the baths. The other chores that are usually my husband's, I took care of, which were garbage and recyclables (hubby did most of the garbage and recyclables before leaving).

I was even brave enough to take the kids to the garden center last night. Things went well. My son, the extreme extrovert, was pushing his sister in a stroller while I pushed the shopping cart (this part was what made me apprehensive). Everyone we passed had to be told the story about "his baby" and "her boo boo." I think he told one sales lady the story twice, in great detail, in his kind-of-hard-to-understand kid voice. Ironically, there was a lady there from Texas with a great big Texas accent. She was very kind to listen to the treatise on how my son's "baby" hurt herself (see my earlier post with pics on my daughter's "little" accident). I don't know if my kids annoyed people, as they tended to get in the way sometimes, but they were pretty cute. You'd have to be a slug to not smile when my son begins his frequent orations about whatever is on his mind.

At bed time, I read them a story and said prayers, which my husband usually does. Got them into bed and only had to deal with my son getting up once to go to the bathroom. He uses that as an excuse to get out of bed even though he went to the bathroom just minutes earlier before getting put in bed.

Things seem to be going well.

Bad thing is, I woke up to find my scapular had broken and I don't have another. Aside from feeling odd because I'm not wearing a scapular, I hope it isn't the beginning of a rough day. Not that I'm superstitious. I think it's similar to losing your watch or your glasses (I don't wear either, so hope the analogy fits). Maybe it is more analogous to a cop being involved in a dangerous situation and they don't have their bulletproof vest.

Husband is gone. Scapular is broken. It just feels strange.

21 June 2007

Who's on first?

It's a complete disaster. First, they're married with children. Then, they're not. Now, they are again, except he's married to someone else already. What in the world is going on with annulments? Yes, he's a Kennedy, but that shouldn't matter, right? How Joe Kennedy got an annulment and his "ex"-wife got it unannulled, certainly muddies the impression of the whole process. No wonder non-Catholics, and some Catholics alike, are skeptical of what they call "Catholic divorce." Now, he gets to appeal the appeal. Stop the insanity! It's always somethin' with the Kennedys.

I just learned that Joe Kennedy was NOT given an annulment. Like many, I'm not well-versed in this. Below is a brief summation of the subject taken from Canon Law blog:

"Now, as near as we can figure (oh, how I hate relying on the secular media here), Joseph Kennedy petitioned for, and received, at first instance a declaration of nullity regarding his marriage to Sheila Rausch. But Rausch apparently exercised her right under 1983 CIC 1417 to appeal directly to the Roman Rota, which would mean that the Kennedy-Rausch annulment case was not completed when it went to Rome. Thus the Rota sat as a tribunal of "second instance" (JPII, Pastor bonus, a. 128, 1) in which capacity it rejected Kennedy's petition. This annulment, then, was not so much "reversed" by the Rota, as it failed to win completion therein. Granted, the effect is the same, no second marriage is permitted Kennedy (or Rausch), but it's not as if Kennedy "had" his annulment for ten years, and then mean old Rome took away. Kennedy, it seems, never had his annulment in the first place. (Not that that technicality prevented him from marrying civilly, but, hey, he had already done that before Boston reached its first instance decision!)"

Best local news - Happy! Happy! Joy! Joy!

A few posts ago, I mentioned that Total Life Care Centers is moving into a new building which is only a few doors away from Planned Parenthood in Highland Park. I just received a comment on that posting that Archbishop Flynn is allowing TLC to have the holy sacrament reserved in the building. Great news!! Thank you, Archbishop Flynn, for allowing this!!! I hope it's only a matter of time before PP closes their doors.

Like Father Corapi says, spiritual weapons are needed for spiritual warfare!

20 June 2007

The reason for my hope

Every Sunday when you go to Mass, though it isn't obvious in a sensory way, a miracle happens. When a baby is born. Miracle. A wayward child comes back to the Faith. Miracle. The breath you just took. One of many miracles.

Lately, people have been caught up in all the bad that is going on. Concentrating on differences, pointing fingers, judging, choosing to see the negative side of things instead of appreciating what they do have. I tell my children to be happy with what blessings they have, while not always providing them with such a good example. I am, however, an optimistic person. Not a pie-in-the-sky optimist, but one who has had some rough patches and come out on the other end more assured of God's love and mercy than if I had never struggled. I think we have all been there.

It's certainly easier to blog about what's wrong...at least for me it has been. But this just isn't an accurate reflection of who I am, not completely. No, I'm not the most pious, prayerful, or devoted person on the planet and I am significantly malnourished in the virtues. Lately, God has certainly given me a glimpse of where I am on the piety scale. But, I have also learned that I do have a deep faith; I do look at things as half-full. And, I am trying. Trying not to stagnate.

My father and I used to have philosophical/theological discussions. It's one thing I deeply miss now that he has passed away. (Maybe it's why I'm doing this blog, trying to keep the conversation going.) One thing that troubled me when he was still alive -- still standing between me and all that is bad out there -- was if I would have the faith to be a martyr. Not such a irrational question in this day. It always surprised me that my father unflinchingly and unhesitatingly replied that I would. I didn't know this for myself since I was only aware my faith wasn't that strong. But, my father believed it.

People who have read my blog know that my daughter was cured of spina bifida. Spina bifida isn't one of those things that just corrects itself or goes away or was misdiagnosed. It was what it was, and that was a serious medical condition. I can't explain it away and I certainly don't want to. Others cleverly dance around the topic and come up with a variety of alternative explanations. I find this curious. Why is it so hard to believe in miracles when they happen to us every day? Happen to us in the quiet and in the shouts. Happen especially, or so it seems, when we aren't paying attention.

A priest we told about my daughter's miracle responded, "Thanks be to God. Every breath you take is a miracle." At first, I thought he was diminishing what had happened. But, actually the opposite was true. He was drawing attention to the fact that God is abundantly generous with His love, mercy and even His miracles. Jaded and oblivious, we wonder why God hasn't answered our prayers, given us what we want, eased our burdens. It's the forest and the trees. Perspective and perception can either clarify or cloud everything.

God let the Israelites wander for 40 years. Likewise, God finally lost His patience with my luke-warm Catholicism after nearly that long. Ripped from the calm that had been my life, God had a plan for me that was beyond anything that I could remotely hope to control or alter on my own. He let me know I wasn't the one in charge.

The past few years have been the most difficult, but also the greatest period of my spiritual growth. I am a Cradle Catholic just learning to crawl.

My daughter's miracle was a gift of God's mercy. It brought me a profound sense of humility I wish I could bottle, always remember, especially when I get too big for my britches. However, the real miracle I got out of the tribulation that has been my life lately, is an answer. The answer is that, yes, I could be a martyr. Not that I'm capable of doing it on my own. Ha, far from it. No, that's part of the miracle. I learned that when the going gets tough, seemingly beyond my ability to cope, God can be trusted. Trusted so much that He would give me the grace to get me through whatever comes my way and I don't have to worry about being in charge. That it will be easy isn't part of the equation, the cup might not pass no matter how hard I pray, but He will take care of me always.

Another miracle.

"Venerate the Lord, that is, Christ, in your hearts. Should anyone ask you the reason for this hope of yours, be ever ready to reply, but speak gently and respectfully."
1 Peter 3:15

Website of the day

With the new video out and her campaign in the lead...

I never really liked Hillary Clinton, and now I'm reminded why.

19 June 2007

Churches of my forefathers - I
St. Brendan's Cathedral, Loughrea, County Galway

Since one of my interests is genealogy, I have been to many of the places my ancestors are from. It's one of those hobbies people either really love or have no interest in. Despite the "swissmiss" moniker and the Swiss theme to the blog, I am really, overwhelmingly, of Irish descent.

My maternal great-great-great-grandfather came from County Galway, near the town of Loughrea. He and his wife had 16 children; 12 lived to adulthood and emigrated to America in the 1840s during the potato famine. They lived in a very small home (shown below), which has now been nicely refurbished and converted into a garage.

Although St. Brendan's Cathedral was not built until nearly 50 years after my ancestors lived there, I visited it a few years ago when I was in the area and some of my distant relations belong to this parish. It is the centerpiece of the town. If you are interested in architecture or stained glass, this is one cathedral to visit if you are ever in County Galway. It is filled with Celtic Revival sculpture, stained glass, woodcarving, metalwork and textiles.

St. Brendan’s Catholic Cathedral in Loughrea is arguably one of the country’s greatest contributions to European art of the twentieth century. It is an absolute must for anyone interested in modern Irish stained glass. The building was designed by William Byrne in 1897, and completed five years later. Its only unusual architectural features are its double transepts. But it is the decoration of the church interior that makes a visit such an enriching and spiritual experience. To explain its significance, one must realise that it was the result of a uniquely successful cooperation between an enlightened clergy who were prepared to reject tradition in favour of experimentation, and a vigorous and visionary layman who wanted to have Irish churches decorated by Irish artists and craftspeople, instead of being filled by outmoded foreign furnishings. That layman was Edward Martyn, who was born in Loughrea Parish. He was as passionate about setting up the Palestrina Choir and the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, as he was in assuring the creation of a new school of stained glass in Ireland, which in turn, was to lead to the opening of An Túr Gloine. It became one of the most influential stained-glass studios in the Ireland of the first half of the twentieth century. Trained teachers in this field were lacking in Ireland, so Martyn got English experts such as Whall and Childe to come and instruct budding Irish artists. It was these Englishmen who supplied some of the earliest windows, influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement in England. But the earliest window of all was by Sarah Purser, foundress of An Túr Gloine, and it was this studio which was to provide most of the windows over a period of fifty years, including Michael Healy’s marvellous Ascension and Last Judgment of 1936-40 in the West Transept. But Loughrea has a treasury of other crafts as well. The John Hughes statue of the Virgin and Child on a side altar is a symphony of controlled movement. One has to go back seven hundred years to find parallels for the remarkable series of historiated capitals by Michael Shortall telling of the adventures of St. Brendan, and of events in the history of the diocese of which he is patron. (Two of the capitals left uncarved by Shortall were completed by Tom Glendon in 2003, to mark the centenary of the cathedral.) Shortall was also responsible for the attractive bronze angels in the altar rails. Their marble accompaniments display Celtic motifs which remind us of the revival of ancient Irish patterns that were all the rage at the time. Metalwork designed by William Scott, and admired by the poet T.S. Eliot, is also in evidence.

Below is the Ascension by Michael Healy and St. Brendan by Sarah Purser

If it's not Boeing, I'm not going...
to the Paris Airshow

The Paris Air Show is under way, June 18-24, 2007. Makes me kind of misty. No, not for Paris, although it would be nice to have a vacation. It just takes me back to the days B.C. - before children - when I was working at Boeing. Ah, those were the days.

An Air France Boeing 747 at the 2005 airshow

Airplanes are my husband's true love. He knows more about airplanes than anyone I know. If he was single, instead of married with two kids, he would still be working at Boeing. He loved Boeing and loved his job. There is just something about working at a company that builds such marvels that gives you incredible job satisfaction.

Working at Boeing was really interesting, challenging and rewarding, but I certainly didn't have the passion for planes that my husband did. Boeing is a big behemouth with a culture and product line that changes slowly. I learned that when I went to work for Intel and the pace was never slower than a marathon (I preferred Boeing to Intel waaayyyy better). Boeing is the last great (commercial) aircraft manufacturer in the US. Airbus, its only rival, a consortium of European interests, has eaten up some of Boeing's market share. Reasons for this are enough for a thesis.

When I left Boeing, I was working in Manufacturing Research and Development. Prior to that, I worked on the 777 program in the systems areas including flight controls, mechanical-hydraulics, and environmental controls. There is nothing like being in on the ground floor of a new product, especially one that is so large and complex as a plane. At the roll out, a big production in itself, I had an incredible sense of pride, along with thousands of others, who had gotten this machine from paper...to parts...to the sky.

I hope Boeing garners some big orders at the airshow. Airbus seems to be having a rough time as of late. Northwest Airlines, a perennial purchaser of Airbus products, has announced it will buy Boeing planes, 787s, the next time around. 'Bout time.

777 flight controls - part of the plane I worked on

18 June 2007

Did Horace have a back up plan?

This weekend, while we were at our cabin we took the kids over to the beach club on a nearby lake to swim (we were guests of my parents-in-law as my PIL retired to the area, along with most of my husband’s family). Swimming at the beach club is easier than swimming in the lake when you have little ones, although the seclusion of the lake is becoming more and more appealing.

I’m not sure how I should’ve handled the situation that presented itself. This mom thing is hard. Before kids, I was so decisive, so clear headed. Now, situations I never expected happen, the kids do things I could never have dreamed and I fumble through the situation badly. If my children do something wrong in public, I correct the behavior, but often times forget to apologize to the wronged party. Some situations just leave me speechless. There is no play book, no text with answers in the back; I am out of my league with no experience to draw from.

It was after dinner on Friday night and pretty quiet at the beach club since everyone from the city hadn’t yet arrived at their cabins or it was too late for them to head to the beach club. Our family pretty much had the pool to ourselves. The kids loved it and were having a great time. So were we, until another family arrived.

At first glance, I thought it was a grandmother, her son, two daughters and two grandchildren. Turns out it was a grandmother, her two daughters, one of the daughter’s children and the other daughter’s girlfriend. Yes, they were lesbians and everyone initially thought the girlfriend was a boy. Her hair was cut into the military “high and tight” buzz and she wore masculine clothes.

While my family swam around, these two proceeded to get very chummy in the pool. I was so caught off guard; I didn’t know what to do. Pack up and leave? Say something? What? I chose to stay and provide an example of what a family is. Granted, my children are quite small, too small to even notice and that pacified my anger a bit, but even if they had been a heterosexual couple, they were too close for my comfort.

What’s more is that grandma was so proud of her brood that she was taking pictures of her daughter and her girlfriend. Actually, she was only taking pictures of them, not any of her grandchildren. Odd, very odd. The sister had no problem letting her children interact with them, swim with them, etc. Her children were right at that age to know something was off.

The little girl, who must’ve been around nine, asked her aunt if she and her “friend” loved each other. “Of course,” she answered, “You love your mom, don’t you?” What a bunch of side-stepping BS. Loving your mom is nothing remotely like this. And, don’t be parading your “love” around so blatantly if you’re not willing to call a spade a spade. The kid isn’t stupid. What a cop out.

Such an affront to the rest of us. It’s hard to remember to love the sinner and hate the sin when they are rubbing the sin right in your face and before your children. At lunch today I had on EWTN where Father Corapi was talking about homosexuality and how it’s an attack on the family. What isn’t an attack on the family? There is nothing that society offers that buoys the family. Only from within the confines of the family and the Church are we sustained.

And I thought the woods of northern Wisconsin would be a place to find respite.

17 June 2007

A tale of two cities and their friend L. Ron Hubbard

A big ol' Minnesota Nice welcome to our new neighbors, the Church of Scientology. Guess they couldn't stay on the other side of the river as the view is better from over here. They purchased the old Science Museum building in downtown St. Paul.

I wonder if I can cut the ribbon with Tom and John? A Catholic can be a Scientologist, right?

The Science Museum...Scientology...As John Candy would say, "Is there some co-inky dink here?"

How does that go again?

Amnesty International is tip-toeing around the issue of abortion. It seems they may be the only ones listening to the double-talk coming out of their mouths. The Vatican has denounced their recent flip-flop on abortion, or abortion rights, or reproductive rights, or human rights or whatever the heck they want to call killing babies, without actually saying that.

It's like a discussion I had once with a relative of my husband's. She argued that other women haven't been given the same "opportunities" that I have (Margaret Sanger would be so proud), so that rationale, in her mind, justifies abortion. Sounds like she's implying babies are an "inconvenience." Hmmmm. Let's see. I come from a great BIG CATHOLIC family, on every side, for generations. I went to college and had a good job. Try to imagine me coming home (hypothetically!) and telling my parents that I was pregnant. I can't fathom many other things that would've wounded my parents more. Would I have been justified to have an abortion in that case knowing the devastation it would've caused to my family and my future? A baby certainly would've been "inconvenient" at that time of my life and severely limited my "opportunities."

According to Catholic World News,
The Holy See has broken off an alliance with Amnesty International "after its pro-abortion about-turn," the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace has indicated.

In an interview with the National Catholic Register, Cardinal Renato Martino, said that the Holy See is ceasing donations to Amnesty International as a result of the group's public advocacy for abortion. He urged Catholic donors to reconsider gifts to the organization.

The Italian cardinal said that the Vatican's decision was an "inevitable consequence" of the new policy Amnesty has adopted. He said that policy is a betrayal of the original mission of the human-rights organization.

In London, the executive secretary of Amnesty International, Kate Gilmore, insisted that the group "has never promoted abortion." She said that Amnesty favors "states respecting women's reproductive rights, allowing women in certain circumstances to reach their own decisions." She said that Cardinal Martino has misunderstood the purpose of Amnesty's new "Stop Violence Against Women" campaign.

Gilmore also told reporters that Amnesty International has not received “funding from the Catholic Church or from organizations that depend on the Catholic Church.” The organization does, however, receive many donations from individual Catholics.

In his interview with the National Catholic Register, Cardinal Martino recalled that during the Cairo conference on population, the UN member-states reached an agreement that abortion should not be accepted as a means of family planning. He rejected the idea that legal abortion should be included under the heading of "reproductive rights."

However, the cardinal-- who served for years as the Vatican's representative at the UN-- observed that proponents of legal abortion have waged an aggressive campaign for legal acceptance. "The abortion lobby is continuing its propaganda," he noted.
Isn't "allowing women (or men) in certain circumstances to reach their own decisions" pretty much like giving a rubber stamp on "anything goes" morality? Isn't this moral relativism? Come to think of it, I'm probably related to some poster children of Moral Relativism. (Yes, they know who they are. We've been having this discussion for nearly 20 years now. Goodness, I must be old!)

Happy Father's Day

To my husband, may God give you many more years to enjoy Father's Day. We have been blessed with two beautiful and independent kids.

To my father, may God bless you abundantly.

You taught me to be independent while still protecting me.
Taught me to be strong and stand on my own two feet, but also to be compassionate.
Taught me to persevere even when I didn't think I could.
Provided an incredible example of how a man can be the head of the household but still have a soft side and be deeply religious.
Showed me the joy of a great sense of humor.
Taught me to swim, to draw, to ride a bike, to drive a car.
Never meddled in my life with your ideas of what I should do and how I should do it, but supported me in my decisions and admonished me when I went astray, primarily when it came to religion.
Told me you were proud of me...many times.
Showed me how to have a stable marriage.
Taught me it was OK to fight back if attacked, but never tolerated your kids starting a fight/being a bully.
Gave me what it takes to be a contrarian, but also showed me it wouldn't be easy.
Worked hard, never complained, despite the BS that swirled around you.
Treated my husband like another son.
Loved my mom, insanely.

I wish you were here to see your grandchildren, but know you are looking out after all of us. I miss you so very much.

14 June 2007


It looks like I'm going to miss the Chesterton Conference. I had been looking forward to it, too. But, after the busy month we have had so far and the continued pace I expect for the rest of the month, we are heading to the cabin today. My husband has to go out of town much of the following week, so we need a little family time. Plus, it's going to be so hot this weekend that the cabin sounds like a good place to be.

May you all have a blessed weekend and stay cool!

13 June 2007

Preparing to be a lawyer or a politician?

The other day, my son, charming as he is and all of 46 months, went into the kitchen when I was busy doing something in another room. The kitchen is off limits and he knows that. When I came near the kitchen, I heard him scramble out into the dining room as fast as he could. Here's how the conversation went:

"Mark, were you in the kitchen?"
Mark looks down and away. "No," he says sheepishly.
Me, turning up the volume a notch. "Mark, were you in the kitchen?"
No reply.
I sit down on the couch and tell him to come stand in front of me.
"Mark, look at me. You need to tell me. Were you in the kitchen?"
Mark is looking me in the eye and says with all earnestness, "Don't ask me that question!"
I go from being mad to giggling.
I ask again, very calmly this time since he's making me laugh. "Mark, I need to know, were you in the kitchen?"
Mark, again in all earnestness, "I can't answer that question!"

I don't know if this is something innate in children or if he is secretly watching some lawyer shows on TV or just what is behind this. Cute and scary all in one.

Ah, those pesky Scandihoovians

For all my Scandinavian friends, it's almost time, once again, for the great Nordic Fest near Luther College in Iowa.

Like I've said in the past, I am NOT of Scandinavian descent. Some how I managed to stumble into their festivities a few years ago when I was in the area researching my stout German heritage. It was the hottest, most gosh-darn-awful, humid, nasty weekend of the summer and all the Scandihoovians in the Midwest had descended on the town like a truck load of smelly lutefisk. There were no hotel rooms. None. In the middle of no-where Iowa.

My husband and I were too tired to drive much further, so I suggested trying Luther College to see if they might have a dorm room available. Yup, ya sure dey do. Holy bratwurst! A good Catlick Kraut amongst all those Scandy Lute-erns.

Well, our fine accomodations included a room with two plywood "bunks," a bath down the hall and no air conditioning. It was the most miserable night I have ever had. There was no breeze, nothing. Just heat and Scandihoovians.

Happily, I will not be joining them this year. However, I can understand if you want to be amongst your people. Get your hotel rooms booked early or you just might be stuck in a dorm room near a cranky Kraut.

The Nordic Fest is July 26, 27, & 28, 2007
In Decorah, Iowa, just a troll's stroll into Iowa across the MN border.
Velkommen Friends...Nein, Auf Wiedersehn, meine Norske Freunde. Machs gut!

A chicken and its egg

I know I just missed his Feast Day, but this sums up my thoughts for the day. St. Philip is becoming one of my more favorite saints the more I learn about him.

St. Philip Neri once gave this penance to a gossipy penitent:

On one occasion, when a woman confessed to him her love of gossip and spreading slander and scandal and asked him how she could cure herself of the habit, he replied: "Go to the nearest market-place, buy a chicken just killed, and pluck its feathers all the way as you come back to me." Greatly astonished, she did what he asked, and returned to him with the plucked chicken. "Now go back," he said, "and bring me all the feathers you have scattered." "But I cannot," she replied, "that is impossible. I cast the feathers carelessly and the wind carried them away. How can I recover them?" He answered: "You cannot. And that is exactly like your words of scandal. They have been carried about in every direction. You cannot recall them. Go and slander no more."

(A chicken has about 12,000 feathers.)
(I saw several versions of this quote, but this one is from Saints of the Day

And, also words of St. Philip Neri:
"A joyful heart is more easily made perfect than one that is cast down."

12 June 2007

To be or not to be - that is a Beatle's question

I really don't get the mindset of pro-choice people. Yoko Ono is running around telling reporters that she considered aborting her son, Sean. Even if you considered abortion, even if you were planning abortion, why would you be so callous as to talk about it knowing your child will learn of it? She talks about Sean as "it" and how she left the decision up to John Lennon. So selfless to let John make the decision.

No Mother's Day card for her next year.

This link has the article and other comments that pretty much sum things up.

The pot and that proverbial black kettle

I don't usually venture out into politics and the like, but found this swipe by Dan Rather about Katie Couric kind of interesting, in a weird, hypocritical, nutsy kind of way.

When I was in grade school, just after Vietnam, I had to write a report, if I remember correctly, on a person in the news. Well, I did that one better and wrote a report on the newsman himself, Dan Rather. I was young, very young, and Dan Rather was who I saw on TV each night. As I got older, I was able to see him for what he is, warts and all. It wasn't until recently that he really sullied himself and left CBS with his tail between his legs. Now, he's sniping at Katie Couric. Not that I'm a fan of Katie's...no, no, no. I couldn't stand to watch the Today show, mostly because of Bryant Gumble, but once he left I realized I wasn't a fan of Katie's either.

A quote from the article, "Rather attacks Couric 'Dumb it down, Tart it up'."

As already noted on NewsBusters, former CBS anchor Dan Rather appeared on Monday’s edition of "Morning Joe" and lobbied for a "a strategic withdrawal from Iraq." He also found time to twice bash his "Evening News" successor Katie Couric for dumbing down and "tarting up" the news. After giving the standard caveat that Couric is a "nice person," he went in for kill. Speculating on the program’s declining ratings, Rather complained to MSNBC host Joe Scarborough that "the mistake was to try to bring the ‘Today’ ethos to the evening news and to dumb it down, tart it up in hopes of attracting a younger audience."

Dan might not have "tarted" things up, but he dumbed things down himself by further disgracing the already questionable enterprise of TV news. The decline at CBS might be the legacy Couric inherited from Rather. Despite all his left leanings, I kind of always rooted for Dan Rather. I would watch him instead of Brokaw or Jennings just because I had done that report ages ago. However, in the end, I couldn't stomach him anymore and turned to Jennings before just turning off the national news altogether.

Total Life Care Centers - Getting Closer

Last week, I took a few items to the Total Life Care Center in Highland Park. I was happy to learn that they will be moving about two blocks east. This puts them almost next door to Planned Parenthood. TLC has about 20 facilities in MN and WI offering a variety of services:

We provide a safe place to voice your pregnancy concerns and learn more about alternatives to abortion to help you make fully informed decisions about your pregnancy.

Ultrasound services are offered at several Centers. Pre-natal clinics are offered at two Centers in Minneapolis. Limited medical services, such as STD-testing and immunizations, are offered at some Centers. All medical services are provided by licensed medical specialists who care about you.

If you are familiar with the area in Highland Park, there is a Planned Parenthood on Ford Parkway, across from the library. Currently, TLC is just down the road on Ford Parkway, but in a pretty nondescript locale and it has NO parking. TLC is going into the old Grand Array store, which is on the corner of Ford Parkway and Kenneth. They will be a stone's throw from PP. I had hoped they would buy the old Burger King that was right next door to PP, but that will become a Dairy Queen. I don't understand how people tolerate this evil right in the middle of a neighborhood...right next to a park, shops, the library and families. I pray TLC makes their presence known and felt.

It seems they are trying doing what Father Corapi said, as this isn't the first time they have moved close to an abortion mill. Father said that if there was a place for Eucharistic Adoration right next to an abortion mill, the mill would eventually close down. Hopefully, having TLC next to PP will begin to have an effect. Now they just need Adoration there!

11 June 2007

Brother's keeper

The house across the street and down the block is still empty. It's been empty since Christmas Eve. The story doesn't really start Christmas Eve, maybe it ends there, although I certainly hope that's not the end.

My brother and his family were visiting from Switzerland last Christmas. We were having a big Christmas Eve dinner and planned to open presents that evening. As I was getting dinner prepped, two police cars stopped in front of the house across the street. Pretty soon, a coroner pulled up. Because the weather was so mild, my son and husband were outside playing. I opened the door and told my husband to be sensitive of the situation going on because I didn't want my son to see a bad scene.

During the seven or so years we have lived here, we have gotten to know most of our neighbors. We've gone to block parties and our kids play with other kids in the neighborhood. The man who owned the house across the street was older and kept to himself. He didn't socialize. He seemed very healthy, always out for a walk and active. I would see him walking down by the Mississippi and all over the neighborhood. He seemed to take pride in himself and his home.

Suddenly, the grass in his yard started to grow long. Not just long, but never got cut. He kept different hours, up late into the night (I was dealing with nursing a baby who didn't sleep through the night, so would see his lights on at odd hours while I was up with the baby). I didn't see him walking as much. Something was wrong. I thought he might be sick.

I thought many times of taking him over some food, seeing if he was OK, but was too shy and reluctant. When I was a child, I remember schlepping food all over the neighborhood that my mother had made for a family who was touched by illness or death. Often times, my mother didn't even know the family, but had heard of their situation. She cooked and I delivered. So, when things seemed odd with the neighbor across the street, I thought of making him some food.

But, I didn't make any food. The thought kept nagging at me, but I didn't know him. Other neighbors who lived next door or who had lived in the neighborhood longer must know him better and if they weren't doing anything and they weren't concerned, then I shouldn't meddle.

Then Christmas Eve came and they took his body out. The neighbor next door to this man was sobbing, other neighbors were standing outside on the sidewalk in a somber mood, passing along the story. He had committed suicide.

Seems he had some financial problems. He had lived in the house for many years. Some even said he grew up there. He was estranged from his family and seemingly had no friends. Now the bank was foreclosing on him.

I've never been there, so depressed or in despair that I have even remotely considered suicide. I can't imagine the horror of coming to that point. I wept for this man, but also for missing the opportunity to let him know that I had been thinking about him, that I worried about how he was, but I had let stupid things stop me from showing charity and compassion to a stranger.

The "For Sale" sign has been in the yard for months. No one is buying the house. Maybe they can sense the sadness. Even the neighbors comment about how the house looks "sad." Every day, I see the house and have a sense of regret. Despite how insular our lives have become, we still need to pop our heads up and look around. We are called to take care of our brothers.

We have other elderly neighbors. Now, I keep tabs on them and check on them. Even if I don't know them, I am always reminded by the house across the street about how things might have been different.

And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?
Genesis 4:9

10 June 2007

Home Sweet (Hot) Home

I am exhausted. Drove all the way to Canada. Well, nearly. Then, we turned around and came back.

We were up by Bigfork, MN, which just happened to be celebrating its centennial. The trip up was long, but the kids did remarkably well. We crammed everyone (and a portable crib) into our Honda Civic instead of the van because we didn't want to spend $200 on gas. I'm the designated driver, so my husband read some stories to keep the kids occupied and we only needed one stop in Moose Lake. I was hoping the kids would fall asleep, but they didn't do that, of course, until we were only about five miles from where we were going. Once we got settled in the cabin, I got my daughter to take a nap, but my son was far too interested in running around outside. While my daughter was napping, my husband's cousin (once removed) took us out on their four-wheelers for a tour around his property.

Didn't have much time to do anything since we decided to go to Mass that night (Saturday). I had wanted to attend Mass Sunday morning, but got conflicting information on the time for Mass. Didn't want to assume Mass was at 9am, when it was really at 8am and then have to try to make it back to the cities to catch a late Sunday night Mass. Turns out the anticipated Mass worked out best anyway. Everyone was too tired to get up early on Sunday morning. It's been ages since I've been to a Saturday night Mass.

The church was kind of sparse, but the people were dressed nicely (only a few people in jeans), the tabernacle was nicely adorned and there was a tabernacle/altar light, too. All in all, they were quite reverential. I've attended many Masses in very austere churches that were done very reverentially. Unfortunately, my kids were the distraction this time.

When my son doesn't get a nap, he is like Jekyll and Hyde. My normally pretty sweet kid becomes someone else's child! During the Mass, I had to repeatedly correct him; tell him to be quiet. To which he screamed, "I DON'T WANT TO." Not being a patient person, my son was removed from the Mass three times. And, my daughter, who is just starting to walk, was really tired of being cooped up all day and wanted to crawl around. So, she had to be taken out, too. To all the poor people who had to put up with us at Our Lady of the Snows in Bigfork, I am sorry!! Sometimes the planets don't align the way I would like them to.

Oh, and before we left for the weekend, my daughter did a severe face plant into the sidewalk in front of our house. (Not much blood, in fact, none from her nose, just lots of crying...lots and lots of crying.) She looked just terrible and before Mass started, the priest actually came over to talk to us to find out what had happened. Other people were concerned and even stopped us and asked us what happened to her. I didn't get any "Bad Mom" looks, so that helped, because I really didn't need any snarky comments after having just wrangled my children during Mass for the last hour!

Got home to a hot house, actually just the upstairs where our bedroom is. There was a call from my Aunt Mary telling my my cousin just had her baby, a boy. We are going to go visit tomorrow night. My cousin had lost a set of twins last year when she was over five months along. This time, things were getting a little dicey near the end, so it is a blessing everyone is doing very well! My Aunt Marie had her cancer surgery. It was just a lumpectomy, stage 1, no lymph nodes involved. I haven't heard if she still has to have radiation, but I pray she doesn't. My Aunt Rita, who had a stroke, is doing much better and is now talking. Initially, she couldn't even talk and had a hard time remembering people. Now she has a hard time reading, but is going to get some rehab therapy. Seems like prayers are being answered. It's been a hard time in the family with all this going on lately.

Am proud to report that we survived the weekend and had a good time. Now, if there was just one weekend this month that I didn't have to run somewhere, that would be nice! Hope everyone else had a good weekend.

Oh, one more thing. Wood ticks were everywhere. Just before we left for Bigfork, I had read about what someone did to remove ticks. They took a cotton ball covered with liquid soap and placed it over the tick and supposedly the tick came off rather quickly. Well, my husband got one stuck on the top of his foot and we tried this. It worked within five seconds!! So easy!! Try it the next time you get a tick...hopefully, it will work as quickly.

07 June 2007

Up North

This weekend my husband and I are taking the kids and going "Up North" to stay with my husband's father's cousin (that would be my husband's first cousin once removed). I don't really know these folks and they live a hellishly far way away. They live somewhere up around the Iron Range, not a place I frequent if I can help it, and not nearly as close as our cabin in Northern WI. But, we are going. My husband really wants to go since he has a small and very unclose family that he wants to get to know better. I have a large and too close family. So, to honor my husband's (insane) wishes, I have to pack just about everything we own and remember to always have a smile on my face! Oy.

10 things I will try to remember this weekend:
1. Stay away from mosquitos and deer flies, especially ones big enough to fly off with one of the kids
2. Stay away from poison ivy
3. It's only for the weekend
4. They really are nice people and hubby's family isn't that big that we will have to do this many more times
5. Keep the kids away from just about everything in the not-childproofed home
6. Ask if they have a place they want me to throw dirty diapers, goopey kid things, etc.
7. Try not to yell at the kids/husband all the time or risk being thought of as a bad mom/wife
8. Don't drink any alcohol, even if the situation is desperate and seems to require it
9. Kids will be kids, husbands aren't afforded same consideration
10. Pray

Obviously, I'll be away from blogging for the weekend. Have a good weekend and say a little prayer (or two) for me, will ya?

"Killing the Environment with Birth Control"

Last weekend I was at the University of St. Thomas for the Catholic Home Education Conference, and picked up a copy of the St. Thomas Standard, A Publication of Conservative Student News, Inc. (They didn't have this publication when I attended CST, and, in fact, I thought I was grabbing a copy of the Aquin.) The headline on the Standard was, Killing the Environment with Birth Control, by Amie Kieffer.

I was quickly skimming the article as my husband and I walked from Murray Hall to the Field House. The paragraph that caught my eye was,
What if endangered species like the polar bear, caribou, or the blue whale decided they had other plans and reproducing their own kind was certainly not one of them. However, they wanted to keep having intercourse -- so, they started taking birth control. Whoa, wait a second -- they can't do that!!!

Although it wasn't the point of the article (animals being physiologically affected by birth control chemicals polluting the environment was), it made me think about humanity and its arrogance. Here we are, looking at the animals, and thinking we know so much better then they do about what is proper and just for them. Granted, we were given dominion over the animals, but my point is: What must God think of us? How arrogant we are to mess with what He created -- ourselves and our sexuality -- and think it is our right, our perogative, and our privacy. When the shoe is on the other foot and we are thinking the animals are silly in this hypothetical situation, we certainly don't look so smart. Portions of the world are depopulating because of our "knowing better" and wanting to be in control. How long will it be before God puts us on the Endangered Species List?


I was chosen by St. Matthew the Apostle.
St. Matthew is my blog's Saint of the Year. Seminarian Matthew was kind enough to do the pickin' and asked me if I had any connection or stories about St. Matthew. Well, now I do! The bible study I attend, Called by Faith (see below), was debating whether to study Revelation or the Gospel of Matthew this coming fall. I really, really wanted to study Revelation. However, the group chose the Gospel of Matthew. I was really disappointed. Very disappointed. I guess this is St. Matthew's way of tapping me on the shoulder and letting me know that I'm sure to get a lot out of the study. Thank you St. Matthew, for opening my eyes!

This weekend, the Church of St. Agnes will dedicate its social hall in honor of Monsignor Schuler immediately after the Corpus Christi procession.

The Holy Father was unhurt, thanks be to God, after a German man tried to jump into his jeep. The story was all over the news and Father Z blogged about it a few posts ago. Am sure you heard about it. Way to go Swiss Guard!!!!

Dr. Ray Guarendi, heard in the Twin Cities on Relevant Radio 1330AM, can be seen on EWTN this week and next doing a series called, "What Catholics Believe." It is a point-counter point format with Father Kevin Fete (sp?). It airs at 5pm CST.

The priests of Miles Christi are having Silent Ignatian Retreats at various places throughout the US. (I received their flier but am unfamiliar with them, maybe you are.) "The Spiritual Exercises are a silent retreat based on the well-proven method of St. Ignatius of Loyola. The Priests of Miles Christi, devoted to the preaching of these Ignatian retreats, frequently offer them in a weekend format. Throughout the centuries, the Spiritual Exercises have shown to be an excellent means of sanctification, highly praised by Popes and Saints."

A new book on St. Monica is out. St. Monica, The Power of a Mother's Love, by Fr. Giovanni Falbo is available from Pauline Books and Media. "Using extensive excerpts from the writings of St. Augustine, notably from his Confessions, Fr. Giovanni Falbo sheds new light on Monica’s patience, sweetness, and unwavering determination. This mother never yielded in her efforts to see her beloved son find comfort and peace in God, and she endured countless sacrifices and health risks in her quest to help Augustine embrace the faith. Monica’s quiet wisdom and courage, coupled with her earnest tears and prayers to God, bore fruit she could only have dreamed of.

“Monica is a shining example for families today, bringing them courage and hope by guaranteeing that with the grace of God, good will, and perseverance, any difficulty can be overcome in building a true Christian family founded upon the values of the Gospel”— Fr. Giovanni Falbo

This title includes an index of references to Monica within St. Augustine’s works. It also features black and white photos of basilicas and churches honoring Monica and Augustine."

Adoremus Books has a coupon for 20% off your entire order. Discount code STP67, which is good until 2 Jul 2007. Also, free shipping on orders over $25.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Hastings, MN, is hosting Exodus and First Corinthians, part of the Great Adventure Bible Study by Jeff Cavins. Classes are on Thursday nights from 7-9, starting 20 Sep 2007. Cost is $75 before 1 Aug 2007, or $85 afterwards. Also, Called by Faith is hosting the Gospel of Matthew bible study with lectures by Father Echert at St. Augustine's in South St. Paul, starting at the same time. Cost is $60. See my earlier post for more information.

"Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to that arrogant oligarchy who merely happen to be walking around." - G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, 1908
A quote in honor of the Chesterton conference coming up June 14-16 at the University of St. Thomas.

06 June 2007

In the words of Bill the Cat - Ack!!!!!!!!

A week or so ago, I did a post on chain mail spam. I must've upset the cosmic balance because I woke up to find another one of the awful things in my e-mail. I do not like these things. I especially DO NOT like this one. It is completely idiotic and offensive. Do people really believe this? Even now that everyone must've received something like this in some form, do folks still think they are going to get that million dollars or super blessing if they comply with these goofy things? What is the psychological make up of someone who starts this kind of nonsense?

Thbbbt! Hair ball! Thbbbt! Thbbbt! Cough! Thbbbt! Gag!

Here it is........

I am picking 12 women (who have touched my life) and whom I think
would want to participate. I hope I chose the right twelve. Please
send this back to me (You'll see why). In case anyone is not aware,
Saint Theresa is known as the Saint of the Little Ways. Meaning she
believed in doing the little things in life well and with great love.
She is also the patron Saint of flower growers and florists. She is
represented by roses.

May everyone who receives this message be blessed. Theresa's Prayer cannot be deleted. REMEMBER to make a wish before you read the prayer. That's all you have to do. There is nothing attached. Just send this to twelve people and let me know what happens on the fourth day. Sorry you have to forward the message, but try not to break this, please. Prayer is one of the best free gifts we receive. Did you make a wish yet? If you don't make a wish, it won't come true.

This is your last chance to make a wish.

St. Theresa's Prayer:
May today there be peace within. May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith. May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content knowing you are a child of God. Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us.

Now, send this to 12 people within the next 5 minutes. And remember to send this back. I count as 1...you'll see why. Suggestion: copy and paste rather than forward. The joy of life is living it.

The thing is now safely in my trash bin. I know, I'm such a spoil sport.

05 June 2007

June Mystery of Faith - Sacred Heart

Being a cradle Catholic who was raised in the post-VII Church, there is much I don't know about the richness of my religion. My faith is in its infancy in many respects and I am working to change that. I was looking for a book that contained information on Catholic home traditions that I could start with my children. I found a book at the homeschool conference, Catholic and Loving It, Traditions for a New Generation, by Sabitha Narendran and Andrew Salzmann, that covers many Catholic traditions. I'd link to it on Amazon, but it just was released this month and wasn't yet available. Anyway, it is kind of light in its content and discussion of various things (since what Catholic topic couldn't be a doctoral thesis), but at least it talks about the various traditions and then you can go do more digging yourself. One thing I just learned from the book is that June is the month associated with the Mystery of the Sacred Heart and the Feast Day comes with an indulgence.
From the text, p. 39:
Popular images of the Sacred Heart can seem "weird," juxtaposing Christ's sugar-sweet facial expressions and bloody, tortured heart. Yet behind whatever cultural barriers separate us from this devotion, lies the central truth of the heart of Jesus: God loves us with a human heart and a human love, with a love that extends through pain and death, "even death on a cross," to offer us redemption.

The Feast of the Sacred Heart falls nineteen days after Pentecost, which is this coming Friday. (There are many aspects of Devotion to the Sacred Heart, ie: First Fridays, enthronment, etc., I'm only going to deal with the Feast and the Indulgence.) Many Catholics prepare for this Feast by beginning a Novena to the Sacred Heart on the Feast of Corpus Christi, which is the Thursday of the week before. On the Feast of the Sacred Heart itself, one can gain a plenary indulgence by making an Act of Reparation to the Sacred Heart (along with the usual requirements of Confession, Communion and prayers for the Holy Father).

Act of Reparation to the Sacred Heart / Actus reparationis

Most sweet Jesus, whose overflowing charity for men is requited by so much forgetfulness, negligence and contempt, behold us prostrate before Thee, eager to repair by a special act of homage the cruel indifference and injuries to which Thy loving Heart is everywhere subject.

Mindful, alas! that we ourselves have had a share in such great indignities, which we now deplore from the depths of our hearts, we humbly ask Thy pardon and declare our readiness to atone by voluntary expiation, not only for our own personal offenses, but also for the sins of those, who, straying far from the path of salvation, refuse in their obstinate infidelity to follow Thee, their Shepherd and Leader, or, renouncing the promises of their baptism, have cast off the sweet yoke of Thy law.

We are now resolved to expiate each and every deplorable outrage committed against Thee; we are now determined to make amends for the manifold offenses against Christian modesty in unbecoming dress and behavior, for all the foul seductions laid to ensnare the feet of the innocent, for the frequent violations of Sundays and holydays, and the shocking blasphemies uttered against Thee and Thy Saints. We wish also to make amends for the insults to which Thy Vicar on earth and Thy priests are subjected, for the profanation, by conscious neglect or terrible acts of sacrilege, of the very crimes of nations who resist the rights and teaching authority of the Church which Thou hast founded.

Would that we were able to wash away such abominations with our blood. We now offer, in reparation for these violations of Thy divine honor, the satisfaction Thou once made to Thy Eternal Father on the Cross and which Thou continuest to renew daily on our Altars; we offer it in union with the acts of atonement of Thy Virgin Mother and all the Saints and of the pious faithful on earth; and we sincerely promise to make recompense, as far as we can with the help of Thy grace, for all neglect of Thy great love and for the sins we and others have committed in the past. Henceforth, we will live a life of unswerving faith, of purity of conduct, of perfect observance of the precepts of the Gospel and especially that of charity. We promise to the best of our power to prevent others from offending Thee and to bring as many as possible to follow Thee.

O loving Jesus, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mother, our model in reparation, deign to receive the voluntary offering we make of this act of expiation; and by the crowning gift of perseverance keep us faithful unto death in our duty and the allegiance we owe to Thee, so that we may all one day come to that happy home, where with the Father and the Holy Spirit Thou livest and reignest, God, forever and ever. Amen.

A partial indulgence is granted to those who recite this prayer. A plenary indulgence is granted if it is publicly recited on the feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. This prayer was prescribed to be recited on this feast by Pope Pius XI.

Devotion to the Sacred Heart had been practiced for ages, but it took the onset of Protestantism and the errors of the Janeists, before God rose up another saint. Margaret Mary Alacoque was a simple nun of the order of the Visitation in Paray-le-Monial, France, founded in the early in the seventeenth century by St. Francis de Sales. The order was known for their humility and selflessness and Margaret Mary excelled in these virtues.

In December of 1673, and covering a period of eighteen months, Margaret Mary began to have experiences that began while she was kneeling in the chapel. She felt encapsulated by the Divine Presence, and heard the Lord inviting her to take the place which St. John had occupied at the Last Supper. The Lord told her that the love of His heart must spread and manifest itself to men, and He would reveal its graces through her.

"And He showed me that it was His great desire of being loved by men and of withdrawing them from the path of ruin into which Satan hurls such crowds of them, that made Him form the design of manifesting His Heart to men, with all the treasures of love, of mercy, of grace, of sanctification and salvation which it contains, in order that those who desire to render Him and procure for Him all the honor and love possible, might themselves be abundantly enriched with those divine treasures of which this Heart is the source.

He should be honored under the figure of this Heart of flesh, and its image should be exposed...He promised me that wherever this image should be exposed with a view to showing it special honor, He would pour forth His blessings and graces. This devotion was the last effort of His love that He would grant to men in these latter ages, in order to withdraw them from the empire of Satan which He desired to destroy, and thus to introduce them into the sweet liberty of the rule of His love, which He wished to restore in the hearts of all those who should embrace this devotion."..... "The devotion is so pleasing to Him that He can refuse nothing to those who practice it."

from Revelations of Our Lord to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

Needless to say, like so many saints before and after her, when Margaret Mary went to her Mother Superior to tell her about what had happened, she was reprimanded for her presumption. The stress began to impair her heath and she became so ill that those around her feared for her life. Eventually, the Mother Superior reconsidered Margaret Mary's story and vowed that if her Margaret Mary's life was spared, she would take it as a sign that the visions and messages were truly from God. When Margaret Mary recovered, the Superior asked some theologians to hear Margaret Mary's story. The priests concluded that Margaret Mary was delusional. Another priest, Father Claude de la Columbiere, a Jesuit who was assigned as the confessor at the convent, talked to her and was completely convinced of the genuineness of the revelations. Through Father Columbiere's writings about Margaret Mary's experiences, the Devotion to the Sacred Heart finally began to spread throughout Europe.

Her feast day is October 17.

The June Prayer (noted in the Catholic and Loving it book) from the Raccolta, 263:
O most holy Heart of Jesus, fountain of every blessing, I adore you, I love you, and with a lively sorrow for my sins, I offer you this poor heart of mine. Make me humble, patient, pure and wholly obedient to your will. Grant, good Jesus, that I may live in you and for you. Protect me in the midst of danger; comfort me in my afflictions; give me health of body, assistance in my temporal needs, your blessing on all that I do, and the grace of a holy death.