31 October 2007

Happy Halloween!!!

Halloween 2006

Since Sunday, my son hasn't taken off his costume. I thought it would be a good idea to try it on to make sure it fit so we didn't have any last minute crisis. Ah, now I know why I see kids out with their parents dressed in their costumes days before Halloween.

This year, my son is going to be Spiderman. My daughter will be a princess. I thought my son was a horse last year, but he was a beetle or something creepy like that. My daughter was a lady bug. She's about ready to cry in this photo for some reason. I think it is because my MIL was standing behind me when I took this photo. At this age (14 months), my daughter would cry if my MIL was anywhere around. In fact, when my MIL came in the house that Halloween, my daughter was sitting in her high chair eating dinner. My MIL yelled, "Hello," as she stopped on the porch to take off her shoes. My daughter just heard her voice and burst out crying!

Busy day today. Have to dig out the trick-or-treat bags, clean the house (PIL will be here), get the candy in the pumpkin candy bowl and still manage to get dinner on the table. I'm fixing dinner just so my PIL don't think I starve the kids, since the kids could probably survive on just candy and adrenaline for the next 24 hours.

We'll spend some time with the PIL, then go door-to-door for awhile, then run over to my aunt's and then run to another aunt's/uncle's.

Days like this make me wish I had developed a hankering for alcohol.

Ghost in the Graveyard (from Martha Stewart)
Serves 1
2 ounces black vodka
2 ounces creme de cacao or coffee-flavored liqueur
1 scoop vanilla ice cream
Pinch of finely grated nutmeg, for garnish

In a glass, combine vodka and creme de cacao, and set aside. Place a scoop of ice cream in a highball glass, and slowly pour vodka mixture over ice cream. Garnish with nutmeg; serve immediately.

Have a wonderful, safe and fun Halloween!!

30 October 2007

Excavating Ostia

Ostia is where St. Monica died, supposedly in an inn. I wish I had thought about visiting the city when I was in Italy. Check out the Ostia-Antica website for oodles of information, a video, a quiz and some pics. The information below is from the site.

The ancient Roman city of Ostia was in antiquity situated at the mouth of the river Tiber, some 30 kilometres to the west of Rome. The shoreline moved seawards, due to silting, from the Middle Ages until the 19th century. Therefore Ostia is today still lying next to the Tiber, but at a distance of some three kilometers from the beach. Ostia is Latin for "mouth", the mouth of the Tiber. The river was used as harbour, but in the Imperial period two harbour basins were added to the north, near Leonardo da Vinci airport. The harbour district was called Portus, Latin for "harbour".

The remains of St. Monica
The first church of Aurea may have been built in the fifth century. The orientation was precisely the opposite of that of the present church. In the floor and around the church many graves were found. The church was renovated c. 700 AD by pope Sergius I, c. 800 AD by Leo III, and c. 850 AD by Leo IV. In 1430 the relics (of St. Aurea) were removed from the urn and taken to Rome, together with those of Monica (Acta Sanctorum, May I, p. 490).

Maybe if I start saving now, I'll have enough money to go with hubby and the kids when they are a bit older.

Ladies and Gentlemen - The Coasters

This is a very short two-minute clip on the Coasters that Vincenzo alerted me to. It's the song, Along Came Jones.

Most of their music was written by the songwriting and producing team of Leiber and Stoller. Unfortunately, several of the members met with tragic ends.

If the Coasters don't put a goofy smile on your face, then you need to go take the pig personality profile on my previous post to find out why.

Check out their website here.

You can check out more of the Coasters on YouTube...thanks Vincenzo, for the links!

29 October 2007

Pig Personality Profile

I'm not making this stuff up, folks!

My husband is taking two grad classes right now. Both are kind of heavy on psychology stuff and finding out what kind of person you really are through class exercises. I'd say he's becoming self-actualized, but I don't think he's learned about Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs yet.

No quiet moments of meditation required. No trips to the confessional.

I've always had an interest in this type of thing (personality tests), but outside of finding it novel and a fun momentary distraction, I haven't come across a real point or purpose. But, then whoever said we had to have a purpose driven life? The amount of time I spend on the computer is evidence enough of that.

Give this test a whirl. It won't tell you what kind of pig you are, but will tell you about your personality.

If you're not too embarrassed, let me hear your results.

Here's all there is to it:

Get a sheet of clean, white paper and draw a pig on it.

When you are finished, check the combox for your PPP analysis.

Don't peek!!

Draw a pig!!

Just do it.

No, I'm not joking!! Draw a pig!

28 October 2007

A day at the museum

Blue II, Georgia O'Keefe, 1916

We took the kids to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. I used to visit the museum a couple times a year, but hadn't gone since we had kids. There was a Georgia O'Keefe exhibit (runs until early January) that I wanted to see. It was a bit disappointing since there weren't any of her well-known works there, like the flowers and animal skulls, most of the exhibit was of her more obscure works. However, it was a good sampling of the various types of media she used. That's about all I could really say in favor of the exhibit. Kind of scant.

This painting is the one in the show that really made an impression on me. I was pushing my daughter in her stroller and came up around the side of this and it just struck me immediately as a baby in a womb. It really looks like a baby in utero, with a hand cradling its bottom and possibly one holding its head. The narrative next to this painting said critics panned it as being indicative of O'Keefe's gender and that it appeared to be a womb, but more recent "interpretations" had come up with other explanations.

What's wrong with it being a womb? Or a baby?

It's kind of a large painting, so it was striking and intimate. This was painted long before we had all the baby in-utero pictures that we do today. Pretty amazing. If I was pregnant, I think I might even get a poster of this for the baby's room.

Not too far away is the Frida Kahlo exhibit at the Walker Arts Center. That runs until January 20, 2008. I don't know if we will go to that one; we are mulling it over.

Relics, we've got relics

I recently won two third-class relics from Divine Mercy's blog. She often times has give-aways on her site...check it out for a chance to win some nice Catholic items. The relics I won are St. Monica (how appropriate!) and the Divine Mercy.

Thank you Divine Mercy, for the wonderful relics!

At her suggestion, here are some of my other relics. Sorry, the picture isn't the greatest, but I only have a cheapy digital and poor lighting!

The relics are:
Top row: St. Francis (I don't have any authentics or bona fides on this relic to know if it is a first- or second-class relic)

Second row: Divine Mercy and St. Monica (third-class)

Third row: St. Therese (S. Teresiae a Jesu Infante, Virg) First-class - ex ligneo, pulvere, mixto pulveri corpis, quem residuum prima capsa funeralis ("From the remains of the wood, mixed with the dust of the body, the residue of which was contained in the first coffin.")
St. John of the Cross (S. Joannis a Cr. Doct) Second-class - don't have authentics, but have a letter from the priest that obtained it that "The one of St. John of the Cross is only 2nd class. It is a piece of wood from a table which he used. No first class relics of St. John were available."

Fourth row: St. Laurence (S. Laurentii a Brund. Pr.C.D.) First-class - ex ossibus ("from the bones")
St. Catherine of Siena (S. Catharinae Senen.) Second-class - ex indumentis ("from the clothing")

I scanned one of the authentics below for St. Therese.

May revise post later with more info...don't have any time right now!

26 October 2007

Hoof marks on the roof

I almost forgot, it's Friday! With all the stuff going on in my family, being on the phone and relaying messages and such, it has started to wear me down.

Don't have anything really frivolous today, but a friend did send me a link to a cute webpage. It's called Santa Claus and Christmas at the North Pole. It was sent to me because it has oodles of Christmas cookie recipes. I've looked at some of them, but not too much of the rest of the site, so caveat emptor! There are lots of fun things on the site. Check it out if you're in the Christmas mood.

A hallowed eve

Being a parent is hard. Prior to having kids, things seemed so black and white. Things were right or they were wrong. The Church had spoken on just about everything that concerned me. I was going to say being a parent is hard mostly in trying to figure out the best course of action, but it's hard through and through.

The latest thing that is troubling me is Halloween. Some Catholic families don't celebrate it in the more secular way. Others only allow their children to dress up as saints. Still others go all out with decorations, parties and costumes.

I'm somewhere in the middle.

I understand the pagan connections to the holiday. I know about the horrible things that are done on this night by Satanists. I know of the Catholic connections to this day. But now that I'm a parent, knowing where to draw the line isn't so cut and dried. I am responsible for the souls of these little ones and I don't want to lower the bar, but I also don't want to cloister the kids from perceived spiritual dangers that I think can be dealt with if confronted head-on.

When I was a kid, Halloween was one of the great holidays. There weren't any decorations at our house other than the carved pumpkin, but the dressing up and going trick-or-treating kept us antsy all day in school until we were finally let out to run home and get ready. Back then, once the sun went down there were thousands of kids out in the neighborhood. My mom was the one who stayed home to hand out candy and never closed the door from dinner time until after 10pm, when several bags of candy would've been exhausted. Since my father was a closet artist, he would do the make-up for our costumes. The neighbors always wanted us to come by to see the "work" my father had done on us.

The neighborhood was alive with people and lights from the houses. Everyone had a good time, except the occasional curmudgeon who turned off his lights and pretended not to be home. Some neighbors would open their garages and serve hot chocolate or booya. The moms at friends' houses always had a special bag of goodies for us, often times they included home-made cookies. There was little of the "tricks" and a lot of the "treats." Except, of course, the time the "bad kid" in the neighborhood blew up my next-door neighbor's mail box with an M80. And, there were stories of psychopaths putting razors in apples and a host of other dangers, but none ever transpired. Back then, there was a sense of communal fun and camaraderie that we just don't have today.

Now that I'm a parent, a Catholic parent, where do I draw the line? My parish has a Saints Party and all the kids have to be dressed as saints to attend. We have not attended any of those parties since my kids have only ever dressed as animals, not saints.

So, as a parent, where do I begin? Do I celebrate Halloween at all? My answer is yes. There is a great deal I can do to keep this a Catholic-themed holiday in my home. Since both of my parents have passed away, there is a big emphasis on the month of November. This is a great time to talk about Purgatory, the Communion of Saints, Heaven, sin and charity (for the Poor Souls). To shy away from this holiday because our secular society has made everyone scared of their neighbor and the Satanists and pagans do all they can to insult our Lord, seems to be a little too "cut and run" for me. With all the abuses surrounding Christmas: secularism, materialism, modernism, PCism, etc., I certainly hope the Christians don't allow their holiday to be hi-jacked and turned into something that doesn't even resemble the birth of our Lord. This is kind of how I feel about Halloween. I plan to use it as a time for family, faith and education.

Dressing as saints. I certainly don't have a problem with parents dressing their kids as saints. I am sure I will do it one of these years. But, I also don't have a problem with dressing up as an animal or even a super hero or cartoon character. No witches, ghosts or things like that, but to be a horse, as my son was last year, shouldn't bar him from the parish party. When I was a kid, everyone dressed as a gypsy, but guess this is too un-PC to do any more. However, I don't think kids should be allowed to dress as politicians...just too scary for most folks.

Our Halloween night routine consists of my PIL coming down from Wisconsin. They spend some time with the kids and then they man the house and hand out candy while we go door-to-door at some of the neighbors. Then we pack the kids in the car and head over to my aunt's. They get some pictures taken and delight Auntie before we are off to another aunt and uncle's. By this time, it is usually getting kind of late and we head back home to relieve my PIL of their duties. Since my kids are still pretty little, I usually spend some time praying to combat the abuses going on this night on my own. Once the kids are old enough, I think we will make it a family thing to cap off the night with prayer.

Then November novenas will begin for the Poor Souls. I hope to keep Halloween alive in our home with a Catholic spirit and some candy.

25 October 2007

Gospel of St. Matthew Bible Study - Lesson 6

This lesson is a continuation of the Sermon on the Mount (chapter 6).

We find Jesus being critical of a certain manner of almsgiving, fasting and prayer. He is not critical of the practices themselves, but He is critical of the abuses and hypocritical way they are done. The scribes and Pharisees had multiplied the laws until it wasn’t even possible to observe them any longer. These Jews held themselves in high esteem and looked down on their fellow Jews as the “accursed.” In their pride and hypocrisy, they became critical and self-righteous and saw others as inferior.

Jesus is addressing our motivation, since motive makes all the difference. In Matthew 6:2-4, it say, “Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your lefthand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Father Echert mentioned that, in fact, they used to blast trumpets to draw attention to themselves. Their reward is the flattery of others. The motive shouldn’t be so that God rewards us now or in Heaven, but it should be flowing from charity and love.

This ties in to how Jesus acted when he prayed. He shows that our relationship to God should be an intimate and private matter in regard to piety. In Matthew 1:35 and in Luke 9:18, we see Jesus rising early to go to a “lonely place” or seclusion for prayer. It is also referred to as praying “in secret.” It indicates that Jesus made prayer a habit and a priority to go off in private. (See also CCC 2602 and 2655). From our study, it says, “Even when it is lived out “in secret,” prayer is always prayer of the Church; it is a communion with the Holy Trinity.”

The Church teaches that the spiritual works of mercy are: instructing, advising, consoling, comforting, forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy are: feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned and burying the dead.

Father Echert talked about fasting and Pope John Paul II had this to say (from our study):
Penitential fasting obviously is something very different from a therapeutic diet, but in its own way it can be considered therapy for the soul. In fact, practiced as a sign of conversion, it helps one in the interior effort of listening to God. Fasting is to reaffirm to oneself what Jesus answered Satan when he was tempted at the end of his 40 days of fasting in the wilderness: “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Angelus, 10 March 1996

In Matthew 6:7 it says.”And in praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words.” Father said this is the line many Protestants take to mean we shouldn’t say the Rosary since it is a repetitive form of prayer. In context, what Jesus is condemning is the Gentiles, who at the time, were using incantations to conjure up spirits and perform magic. This was a pagan practice. Jesus is NOT condemning the meditative form of prayer in the Rosary (as Father Corapi says, you are merely praying the Scriptures). Father Echert brought up the wonderfully humorous story of Elijah and the 450 prophets of Baal as an example (1 Kings 18:17-46).

Jesus then goes on to teach the Our Father. Luke’s gospel has a shorter version, but Matthew’s version was adopted early on by the Church. Like the Beatitudes, it is probably another example where Jesus taught this several times in slightly different ways. The Our Father is in two halves; the first half is glorifying God and the second half petitions God for our needs.

This idea of God as Father was not new to the Israelites, but the familiarity of calling God by name certainly was. Israel may have been God’s “son,” but to call God “Father” was too personal, so the Our Father was kind of an alien concept to them. Father did mention that Jews and Muslims do not call God by name unless it is in a religious context.

“Our daily bread,” has a two-fold aspect. One is the things we need on a daily basis (temporal), like food and shelter. The other is spiritual as in the Eucharist. Both are forms of sustenance and are connected, since Jesus wants us to trust in God for all things.

To forgive others’ trespasses is a CONDITION OF HEAVEN. The debt we have been forgiven is much greater than what we could ever forgive of another. We have sinned against an infinite God who is all good, others have sinned against us (and God), but we are called to imitate Christ, and to not forgive shows an incredible lack of charity.

“Lead us not into temptation,” means to not tempt us beyond our ability to resist or endure.

Interestingly, Father talked about the whole, “For thine is the kingdom, power and the glory…” part that is added (Doxology). This was never spoken by Jesus. It came from an early manuscript where it was written in the margin. The Our Father was being used in the liturgy and somehow this got added in. (Am sure there is much more to the story here, but Father didn’t have enough time.)

During the Reformation, many Protestants worked with faulty manuscripts written in Greek. At the time, the Church did not allow these early manuscripts to be used since they were translated poorly and ended up with errors. The Church only allowed translations of St. Jerome’s Vulgate. Later on, you could use the original Greek or Hebrew texts. Father mentioned that the Church was criticized at the time for this, but now has been proven wise.

Mammon is an Aramaic word that means “wealth” or “property.” You cannot serve both because if you love one you will despise the other. You will be led astray.

Father mentioned that there is a shifting away from the Old Covenant ideas of righteousness being rewarded now, showing God's approval and sinners being punished now, to a more mature idea of a spiritual need to trust God and store up treasures in Heaven.

The rest of this chapter talks about being anxious and how this can be avoided by trusting God (this reminds me of the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy, “Jesus I trust in You"…one of my favorite prayers to say throughout the day.)

Our study has this quote:
Some sins rush to judgment in consciousness, while other remain hidden until the Last Day. We do well not to pass judgment on hidden things until the Lord comes, who will bring to light the hidden things of darkness.
-St. Augustine

24 October 2007

If you have a moment

Seems like all heck is breaking loose in my family. The phone has been ringing all night.

My eldest aunt (83) who had recently had colon cancer, fell awhile back and then suffered a stroke. She has been recouperating from the stroke and now my uncle, her husband, has suffered a stroke too. There isn't word yet on how serious the stroke is, but I know one side is affected to the extent his hand is limp.

Several of their children (including their spouses and children) have been evacuated from their homes because of the fires in CA. One family near San Bernardino and one in Crestline, near Lake Arrowhead.

Back in WI, another aunt (81), is recouping from breast cancer and chemo. She is having a rough time of it. Now my uncle, her husband, is in the hospital with something seemingly very serious (stomach cancer or colon cancer). Last I heard, test results are not in yet.

I am very close to these folks. My mother died about 20 years ago and these are her siblings. They have pretty much tried to fill in for my mom in my life. They are saintly, saintly souls with a deep faith.

My other aunt (82), who I am especially close to, just found a lump in her breast.

Please keep them in your prayers.

May Our Lady comfort them and their families. St. Rita, my designated hitter, it's the bottom of the ninth...

Stopping for some beauty

The talk of artistic turtles had me thinking...

The Arnolfini Portrait or The Arnolfini Wedding
Jan van Eyck c.1434

This used to be my favorite painting, back when I was in my early 20s. I always found it amusing and liked the details and symbolism. It is in the National Gallery in London. When my husband, brother and I were in London, I told them I wanted to see this painting. It was around closing time and we ran across town, ran in the Gallery, up the stairs to where the painting was. It was nice to see it, but I was disappointed, once again, at how small all the famous paintings are.

The National Gallery describes the painting as:
This work is a portrait of Giovanni di Nicolao Arnolfini and his wife, but is not intended as a record of their wedding. His wife is not pregnant, as is often thought, but holding up her full-skirted dress in the contemporary fashion. Arnolfini was a member of a merchant family from Lucca living in Bruges. The couple are shown in a well-appointed interior.

The ornate Latin signature translates as 'Jan van Eyck was here 1434'. The similarity to modern graffiti is not accidental. Van Eyck often inscribed his pictures in a witty way. The mirror reflects two figures in the doorway. One may be the painter himself. Arnolfini raises his right hand as he faces them, perhaps as a greeting.

Van Eyck was intensely interested in the effects of light: oil paint allowed him to depict it with great subtlety in this picture, notably on the gleaming brass chandelier.

For more on the work and to read about some of the symbolism, go here.

The Denial of Saint Peter, c. 1610
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio

Around the time my mother died, I really liked Caravaggio. I still do. His paintings remind me of a dark basement and all the feelings that invokes. I am sure some psychologist would find my liking the darkness of these paintings as some allegory to my mother's death, but really they are just great works that appeal to me no matter what is going on in life.

About Caravaggio from Wiki:
Caravaggio was considered enigmatic, fascinating, rebellious and dangerous. He burst upon the Rome art scene in 1600, and thereafter never lacked for commissions or patrons, yet handled his success atrociously. An early published notice on him, dating from 1604 and describing his lifestyle some three years previously, tells how "after a fortnight's work he will swagger about for a month or two with a sword at his side and a servant following him, from one ball-court to the next, ever ready to engage in a fight or an argument, so that it is most awkward to get along with him." In 1606, he killed a young man in a brawl and fled from Rome with a price on his head. In Malta in 1608 he was involved in another brawl, and yet another in Naples in 1609, possibly a deliberate attempt on his life by unidentified enemies. By the next year, after a career of little more than a decade, he was dead.

The School of Athens
Raphael, 1509–1510

One of my favorite artists is Raphael. This work is not tiny and is in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. I like the scale and perspective of the painting. Raphael is almost the opposite of Caravaggio with all the color and light that are in his paintings. However, sometimes they are too dreamy for me.

From Wiki:
Because it was positioned over the philosophical section of the library of Pope Julius II, The School of Athens shows the greatest philosophers, scientists and mathematicians of classical antiquity. Plato and Aristotle, the Greek philosophers that were considered most important, are standing in the center of the composition at the top of the steps. Plato is holding his Timaeus. Aristotle is carrying a copy of his Nichomachean Ethics. Their gestures correspond to their interests in the philosophical field — Plato is pointing upwards towards Heaven and Aristotle is gesturing towards the earth.

Diogenes is lying carefree on the steps before them to show his philosophical attitude: he despised all material wealth and the lifestyle associated with it. To the left, the man leaning on the block is Heraclites, meant to be Michelangelo. This figure was an afterthought: it was not in the original cartoon. In 1510, Raphael snuck into the Sistine Chapel to view Michelangelo’s work on the ceiling by candle light. He was so awed by the unfinished work that he added Michelangelo after the manner of his depiction of the Prophet Jeremiah, to show his respect for the artist.

Check out the Wiki link to see who all the philosophers are.

Back when I lived in Seattle, a co-worker and I dressed up as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. She was Michelangelo, and I was, of course, Raphael. I still have the costume...wonder if it would fit me.

23 October 2007

Maybe it's time

My 82 year-old aunt just bought a Prius. A silver one. She goes to pick it up today. My husband and I, along with just about everyone else, told her not to buy it. She's not a Greenie or anything, just one of those people who likes to be different, staying out ahead of the power curve, always doing something new and novel. It think it's what's kept her going all these years.

On the other hand, I'm a contrarian. I've denied it for years, but have now decided to embrace it since there is so much to be contrary to.

Except maybe cell phones.

Since I quit working almost five years ago to stay home with my kids, I have really checked out of the world of technology. I don't own a cell phone, iPOD or big screen TV. We cancelled cable about the time I got pregnant. Our cabin has no TV or phone.

The only technological thing I have is my TI 48GX calculator that served me well for many years of school and work. It uses "reverse polish logic" which I sometimes forget nowadays and then it beeps at me in disgust. Back when I was using it, I couldn't think mathmatically in any other way, but now I have to mentally "switch gears" just to use my calculator.

But, I am getting so close to changing my mind on the cell phone. The other night I was sound asleep when a dream made me wake up. Since I was hot, I got up and put on something lighter. Out of habit, I looked out the bedroom window when I saw the dome light in my car turn on. My car was parked in front of our house. It was 2:30am. I threw the window open and yelled out, "HEY!!!!!!!!" The gentleman who was prowling my car ran.

This isn't the first time I've caught a car prowler. Shortly after we first moved in I caught a group of kids prowling cars. There were four of them acting like it was Halloween with their pillow cases full of their loot. We actually caught these punks. Turns out they lived a few blocks over. When we turned the one we caught into the cops, the cops said something to the effect that, "Oh, they come from a good home." Good home, my hiney. There is much more to this story, but let's just say I put the fear of God into the punk.

Not long after that our neighbor caught a kid car prowling in the alley. To be apprehended by this neighbor would be especially scarey. My neighbor is an ex-felon, missing some fingers as a result of getting on someone's bad side, taking methadone for his (past) heroin addiction, covered in tattoos, manic-depressive and a quick, hot temper. That kid was lucky my neighbor didn't hurt him. Seriously. (Those neighbors have moved away).

Earlier this summer, I was sleeping with the windows open upstairs in our bedroom. I was just getting to sleep when I thought I heard a car handle (my husband thinks this is remarkable since I have hearing loss and tinnitus!). I looked outside and didn't see anything. Got back in bed, when I had a feeling I should look outside again. Sure enough, another car prowler. Woke hubby and we went outside. The kid was just down the street still prowling cars. We followed him for awhile, all the way to his house. Turns out this kid just lives on the other side of the alley down on the other end of the block. Cops couldn't do anything since we didn't see him take anything. Rummaging through cars isn't enough probable cause or something stupid like that.

And, then the other night when I woke up and saw the most recent car prowler. Hubby and I went outside again to survey our domain. Of course, the punky perp was long gone. I went around back to the alley while hubby stayed out front. Just as I was coming back around the house, I hear my husband talking to someone. Here's another car prowler! I don't know if they were together or if there were just two guys out prowling cars within a half a block of each other. Punks.

This idiot was prowling cars and didn't see my husband standing there. My husband asked him what he thought he was doing and the idiot said that he went to a party over on Grand Avenue with a buddy and they couldn't remember where they parked their car. Yeah, right.

With all the meth problems lately and now that I'm a mom, I'm reluctant to "apprehend" these guys like the first car prowler we caught. So, I went inside to get my keys so I could follow the guy in my car while my husband called the cops.

I couldn't find the guy, but hubby talked to the cops and they said that a car a few blocks down had had its window broken. The cops were taking this very seriously this time. They had two squads cruising the neighborhood. Don't know if they ever found the prowlers.

If we weren't so technologically challenged and had a cell phone, one of us could've followed the jerk and let the cops know where he was. Then we could've found out that he was from another "good home" just a block away, stealing from cars to either support his habit or to get enough money to buy the technological goodies that his negligent parents hadn't already indulged him in.

22 October 2007

Are you a jack-of-all-trades Catholic?

Thought I would do a little quiz. I'm not ambitious enough to think up questions of my own, so will use some questions from a game I have called, Catechic, The Catholic Trivia Game. This quiz isn't going to tell you if you are a trad or not, if you need remedial work or not, it's just is a smattering of questions. I couldn't pass this quiz myself. Answers in the combox. (FYI - Not that it matters, but the game doesn't have question categories, I just grouped some questions together.)

Grades are dished out as:
90% or better = A
80% - 89% = B
70% - 79% = C
worse than that and you can join me in revisiting our Catholic faith :)

Category: Music (for Ma Beck)
1. For what institution did Johann Sebastian Bach write his magnificent cantatas?
2. Who wrote the "Missa Solemnes?"

Category: Politics and world events (for Karen)
3. Which Catholic priest served on the House subcommittee investigating the Watergate affair?
4. Improvements in the plight of Catholics in Eastern Europe is a result of what policy initiated by Pope Paul VI?

Category: Philosophy (I got these two right!)
5. Which famous Austrian psychologist wrote Moses and Monotheism?
6. Who said: "God is dead?"

Category: Entertainment
7. Who directed the celebrated film, Seventh Seal?
8. In 1976, which Italian film maker produced Jesus of Nazareth?

Category: Scripture studies
9. What language was the first bible printed in the New World printed in?
10. What was the name of the sea upon which Christ walked?

Category: Miscellaneous
11. Father Louis, a Trappist monk who instructed the world with his writing from Gethsemani, was also known by what name?
12. Which Greek word describes the ongoing spiritual formation of newly baptized Christians?
13. What is the name for the official visit each diocesan bishop makes to the pope every five years?
14. What Iowa city has a name which means "of the monks" in French?
15. What city is called the "Rome of Protestantism?"

BONUS: Name four famous Catholic artists whose names have become associated with turtles.

If you got more than four right, you know WAY more than I do :) Give yourself a cookie.

20 October 2007

Let them eat peanuts

Thanks, Vincenzo for the apropo pic!

Like I've said before, I don't usually venture into politics, but found this quote kind of interesting. It's from, "The Art of Victory," by Gregory R. Copley. I had never thought about it this way before. I was way too young to vote for Carter, but remember asking my father who he was going to vote for. I told him I liked Carter because he seemed like a nice guy...and he was a Navy man, so that had to count for something, right?

A military man without a plan, how dangerous is that?

It is often said of President James Earl Carter (1977-1981) that his only vision was the attainment of the presidency, and that he had no strategy for his country or his office beyond his election. Indeed, it seemed as though his only mission, having attained the presidency, was to continue to run for the next election. Having no comprehensive vision, no articulated posture other than self-righteousness, he squandered the strategic position which his country had already attained, so that a quarter-century later his failings still haunted his successors and the global strategic environment. Carter epitomized the leader who believes that his victory lies in the mere attainment of leadership and power, rather than believing that the attainment of leadership is merely a tool to attain victory for his people.

Then there are others, who believe that the attainment of power and authority is a tool to ensure control over a population, whose task is then to serve as the tool for the leader's own greater victory. German Fuhrer Adolf Hitler, Iranian "Supreme Leader" Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, the USSR's Josef Stalin, and even the United States's president Bill Clinton were modern examples of such leaders, even if the actions of Clinton were nowhere near as barbarous as those of the others. But each saw victory as a solely personal thing, and their population as pawns to their own ambitions.

We are still dealing with the messes these gentlemen made. It does seem that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

And we have an election coming up. Oy.

“No drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society. If we're looking for the source of our troubles, we shouldn't test people for drugs, we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed and love of power.”
P.J. O'Rourke

18 October 2007

Another pesky quiz

It's frivolity Friday! Another quiz! I am weak!

What Kind of Cross are You?

You are the Celtic Cross: This cross was first made out of stone and is often found atop hills, in front of castles and in graveyards throughout Ireland and Scotland. The stone was carved with various symbols including a circle or halo (representing eternal life) and variations of the celtic knot.
Take this quiz!

This first cross had me thinking that I subconsciously picked the answers that produced this result, since I'm overwhelmingly of Irish descent (No, not Swiss, sorry). I was hoping for a unique cross, so I tried again.

What Kind of Cross are You?

You are St Brigid's Cross: St. Brigid is an Irish saint who hand-wove a cross out of rushes she found by the river. She made the cross while explaining the passion of our Lord to a pagan man.
Take this quiz!

Ergh, I must just be Irish through and through. Can't seem to get away from it.

The Dominican Rite

With all the interest in the Traditional Latin Mass, one wonders why the distinction of calling it the 1962 Mass or the Mass of Pope John XXIII. I think sometimes we Romans forget there are many rites within the Church and ours happens to be just one of them.

When we lived in Seattle, we spent a lot of time looking for a Mass that wasn't full of abuses. In my experience, the West Coast tends to do a lot of experimentation. Can you say Archbishop Hunthausen?

After spending some time at an incredible Byzantine Catholic Church (St. John Chrysostom), we found a church that offered the Dominican Rite. While we loved the Byzantine Church, Roman Catholics typically have a hard time adjusting to this rite, which is more a way of life than anything. Masses are much longer and there are many Holy Days of Obligation. Very rigorous if you are used to the once-a-week-for-just-an-hour obligation. While the people of the parish were very welcoming, the pastor was actually kind of hostile toward Romans. So, we finally found our way to Blessed Sacrament for the Dominican Rite Mass, which is said in Latin with all the bells and smells a girl could want. As the priest entered, they would sing the Asperges, which is my favorite part of the Mass aside from the Consecration.

Supposedly, the Dominicans were abandoning this ancient rite in favor of the Roman, and the Dominican Rite Mass was brought to an abrupt halt while we were attending in Seattle, but I did find that there are some Dominicans that have been given permission to continue on with the Rite.

Our Church is very rich and blessed in so many ways. Get out and attend some of the other rites to see that there is much the Church has to offer!

I looked at Wiki and found oodles of rites I had never heard of before. Below is a list of some variants of the Roman rite that are now defunct:

* The Sarum Rite (more properly Sarum Use), a defunct variant on the Roman Rite originating in the Salisbury diocese, which had come to be widely practiced in England and Scotland around the 1530s, while the Protestant Reformation swept across continental Europe; practiced alongside limited other variants such as the Use of York, Lincoln Use, Bangor Use, and Hereford Use.
* The Cologne Use, used in the diocese of Cologne (German: Köln) prior to 1570.
* The Lyonese Rite of the diocese of Lyon, France, which some consider to have been (rather than Milan) the centre of diffusion of the Gallican liturgy.
* The Nidaros Use, long defunct, based mainly on imported English liturgical books, used in pre-Reformation Norway.
* The Uppsala Use, suppressed during the Reformation, formerly the dominant variant of the Roman Rite used in northern Sweden.
*The Aquileian Rite, a defunct rite originating in the former patriarchate of Aquileia in northern Italy.
* The Benevento Rite, a defunct Latin rite originated in this city in Italy.
* The Durham Rite (defunct: Durham, England)

It also listed some rites said by religious orders:
The following previously existing rites of Mass, distinct from the Roman Rite, continue to be used on a limited basis by the permission of ecclesiastical superiors:
Carmelite Rite
Cistercian Rite
Dominican Rite
Premonstratensian or Norbertine Rite

The Catholic Encyclopedia applied the word "rite" also to the practices followed (to some extent even now, a century later) by certain Roman Catholic religious orders, while at the same time stating that they in fact followed the Roman Rite:
Franciscan Rite
Friars Minor Capuchin Rite
Servite Rite

For some info on the Dominican Rite, click here or here.

Distinctive marks of the Dominican Rite
Again, from Wiki
Only the most striking differences between the Dominican Rite and the Roman are mentioned here. The most important was in the manner of celebrating a low Mass. The celebrant in the Dominican Rite wore the amice over his head until the beginning of Mass, and prepared the chalice as soon as he reached the altar. The Psalm "Judica me Deus" was not said and the Confiteor, much shorter than the Roman, contained the name of St. Dominic. The Gloria and the Credo were begun at the centre of the altar and finished at the Missal. At the Offertory there was a simultaneous oblation of the Host and the chalice and only one prayer, the "Suscipe Sancta Trinitas". The Canon of the Mass was the same as the Canon of the Roman Rite, but after it were several noticeable differences. The Dominican celebrant said the "Agnus Dei" immediately after the "Pax Domini" and then recited the prayers "Hæc sacrosancta commixtio", "Domine Iesu Christe" and "Corpus et sanguis", then followed the Communion, the priest receiving the Host from his left hand. No prayers are said at the consumption of the Precious Blood, the first prayer after the "Corpus et Sanguis" being the Communion. These were the most noticeable differences in the celebration of a low Mass.

In a solemn Mass the chalice was brought in procession to the altar during the Gloria, and the corporal was unfolded by the deacon during the singing of the Epistle. The chalice was prepared just after the subdeacon had sung the Epistle, with the ministers seated at the Epistle side of the sanctuary. The chalice was brought from the altar to the place where the celebrant was seated by the subdeacon, who poured the wine and water into it and replaced it on the altar. The incensing of the ministers occurred during the singing of the Preface. Throughout the rite the ministers also stood or moved into various patterns rather different than those of the old Roman Liturgy.

P: Asperges me
C: Domine, hyssopo, et mundabor: lavabis me, et super nivem dealbabor.

Misere mei, Deus, secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto, Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen

17 October 2007

Food, glorious food!

Don't care what it looks like --

I am hoping to get started on my Christmas shopping. Years ago, I would've had it done already, but kids have a way of giving you other priorities.

I would really like to buy some of the Mystic Monk coffee. I just don't know who I would give it to. Most of the people on my list aren't huge coffee drinkers, or they have to drink decaf...which you can get from Mystic Monk. I hate coffee or I would just get some for myself. I do like the smell, just can't stand the taste.

My dad's family used to give each other fruit cakes, of all noxious things. My aunt (mom's side) actually makes them and has people begging for them. I don't like jello or jellied candies or chewy candy, so fruit cake is not for me. Way back when, I think my family used to order some fruit cakes from some Trappists in Oregon.

You can get other items from various monasteries. Some sell fudge, but I make my own fudge and give it as gifts. I used to always make boxes of goodies for everyone, but having two kids brought that to a dramatic halt.

Maybe music.

I'm asking for a CD of Mozart's Requiem this year. I haven't been a big classical music buff, but don't want my kids to be weaned on 80s music. Certainly not rap. Aside from not really considering rap to be music, it's all just angry stuff. I'd like to try to infuse a little culture into our lives, something beyond Dean Martin and the Coasters.

When my son was a newborn, I used to put him to sleep while listening to Chant. I had some rad trad friends who said I would turn him into a priest, like it was a bad thing. I said as long as he's a good priest, what's the problem! (At this stage however, I seriously doubt my son will be anything other than a pro wrestler.)

I know I will probably end up buying gift cards for several people. It's what they want, but it's so impersonal. Makes my life easy, but it just further diminishes things to a gift card swap.

Any suggetions?

16 October 2007

Returning to a whiter shade of pale

No, this isn't about my fading sun tan.

We are getting trees. When we first moved into our house, we had big, glorious and grand Elm trees on the boulevard. Not any plants or bushes in the yard because things were so shady, but we had trees.

I love trees. Growing up, my dad planted numerous trees in our yard. Meanwhile, we had neighbors who didn't want any trees marring their property. I don't get it. Currently, we have a neighbor who detests trees. He wants his yard to look like a park, just grass. Nothin' but grass.

About four years ago, the city came through and dug up the streets. Seriously ripped up everything. Neighbors were all concerned about the beautiful trees that lined the street. The City said that they would have their contractors be very, very careful, but some of the roots might be disturbed.

Uh huh. That's an understatement.

A short time later and the city had a red line around three trees in front of our house because they were dying. Dutch Elm disease or something. Yeah, right. Soon the trees were gone and we were left with stumps.

My yard, which had been completely shade and didn't allow anything to grow, was now a hot desert. I started gardening shortly after my kids were born and planted a bunch of full-sun perennials in the front (which faces due south). This was the third summer for some of the plants and things were just getting to a point that I actually liked the smattering of things growing in my yard.

As an aside, I planted an English-type garden with an assortment of plants that are falling all over each other and not respecting each others' personal space. I have to resist the urge to separate them and establish some sort of order and discipline amongst the flora. My father was big into Japanese gardening and this type of thing would've given him a heart attack. Too messy and random. Kind of goes against my nature, but I do like how it is starting to look.

Just when I got my sun loving plants, after a little trial and error, pretty much arranged the way I like them, the city decides to put in new trees. They were supposed to do it awhile back, but never did. Our next door neighbor was poised to go buy some trees himself and plant them. Now we have been notified that we are getting "Emerald Lustre Norway Maples."

Not to be an ingrate since I love trees and can't wait to get them, but a MAPLE? We went from an elm to a maple? Some of the trees my father planted in our yard were maples. A big, propeller-laden, rooty Silver Maple took over the back yard and a smaller, but still good-sized purple-red (Japanese?) Maple in the front yard. I love maple trees, as long as they are in the neighbor's yard.

I looked on the internet to find out more about the type of maples we were getting. It's on the top ten list of trees to avoid! Argh! There are pros and cons of the tree, but some of the bad things are a nasty root system, dense shade and limb breakage. The city says they want to plant a variety of trees so that diseases like Dutch Elm don't wipe out all the trees in the city in one fell swoop, but I think the real reason they picked these trees is that they got them on clearance at Bob's House of Trees.

But, beggars can't be choosers and I am still thrilled we are finally getting some trees. It will take awhile for these monsters to buckle the sidewalks and kill all my plants. By that time, the city will come through and dig up the streets again and we will be back on the list to get some new trees.

15 October 2007

Surely you MUST be joking, Mr. Feynman

I hope to be old and senile by then, with my daughter a cloistered nun and my son a priest. Unless, of course, all forms of religion have been banned...

Forecast: Sex and Marriage with Robots by 2050
By Charles Q. Choi, Special to LiveScience

Humans could marry robots within the century. And consummate those vows.
"My forecast is that around 2050, the state of Massachusetts will be the first jurisdiction to legalize marriages with robots," artificial intelligence researcher David Levy at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands told LiveScience. Levy recently completed his Ph.D. work on the subject of human-robot relationships, covering many of the privileges and practices that generally come with marriage as well as outside of it.

At first, sex with robots might be considered geeky, "but once you have a story like 'I had sex with a robot, and it was great!' appear someplace like Cosmo magazine, I'd expect many people to jump on the bandwagon," Levy said.

What a bunch of depraved lemmings!

And, what was the analogy your parents always used to say about jumping off a bridge if all your friends did?

For the rest of the article, go here.


The starkly titled: M78 Nebula
NGC 2068 (also known as M78) is a reflection nebula in the Orion constellation. Hot young stars in the nebula's center illuminate and (to a much lesser extent) ionize the surrounding gas. Further out, dark clouds of dust prevent much of the scattered light from reaching us, creating a complex pattern of light and shadow. This star-forming region is only about 100,000 years old.

Mapping the heavens. Pretty incredible. I was looking at the U of Washington website and they had an article about the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. Here's what their webpage has to say:

Simply put, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) is the most ambitious astronomical survey ever undertaken. When completed, it will provide detailed optical images covering more than a quarter of the sky, and a 3-dimensional map of about a million galaxies and quasars. As the survey progresses, the data are released to the scientific community and the general public in annual increments.

The SDSS uses a dedicated, 2.5-meter telescope on Apache Point, NM, equipped with two powerful special-purpose instruments. The 120-megapixel camera can image 1.5 square degrees of sky at a time, about eight times the area of the full moon. A pair of spectrographs fed by optical fibers can measure spectra of (and hence distances to) more than 600 galaxies and quasars in a single observation. A custom-designed set of software pipelines keeps pace with the enormous data flow from the telescope.

The SDSS completed its first phase of operations — SDSS-I — in June, 2005. Over the course of five years, SDSS-I imaged more than 8,000 square degrees of the sky in five bandpasses, detecting nearly 200 million celestial objects, and it measured spectra of more than 675,000 galaxies, 90,000 quasars, and 185,000 stars. These data have supported studies ranging from asteroids and nearby stars to the large scale structure of the Universe.

I really need to take another astronomy class. So cool.

14 October 2007

American Prometheuses

My husband is taking a class in project management. He has to do a speech about the Manhattan Project and apply the project management ideas he is learning in class to the Manhattan Project. I'm not taking the class, but I'm not sure this is such a good idea. Why take a modern perspective of things and superimpose it on something that happened a generation before most of the people in the class were even born? Seems to invite unfair criticism and put a revisionist spin on things. It's like reading the bible sitting in our comfortable houses with running water and electricity and not placing things in context.

The whole Manhattan Project thing made me think of J. Robert Oppenheimer and what a complex character he was. Brilliant theoretical physicist, but possibly too distracted to reach his full potential. One time Communist. A Hindu Jew. Father of the Atomic Bomb, but at times seemingly conflicted about his involvement in the Nuclear Age. Beloved professor. Mistrusted friend and colleague. Famous for misquoting Hindu scripture when he said of his nuclear involvement,
"Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."

But, someone who has curiously been the recipient of revisionist history is Margaret Sanger.

Championed as the founder of what was to become Planned Parenthood, many people today are unaware of her racist ideas and support of eugenics.

I found it interesting that she, like some other current hollywood types, threatened to leave the country if Kennedy was elected president. From wiki:

During the 1960 presidential elections, Sanger was dismayed by candidate John F. Kennedy's position on birth control (Kennedy did not believe birth control should be a matter of government policy). She threatened to leave the country if Kennedy were elected, but evidently reconsidered after Kennedy won the election.

Maybe Oppenheimer's misquoted quote was addressing the wrong person.

12 October 2007

Hot off the press

I just received a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church last Friday. I'm a bit behind the power curve considering this is my first Catechism and I am now striding into middle age.

Last year, during Jeff Cavins' bible study, we were supposed to get a copy of the Catechism for a reference and use it to answer our study questions. But the weekly study questions that we would discuss in our small group typically only had one question where you needed the Catechism, so I would just use the internet (since you can get the Catechism online at various sites.) This year, however, the bible study I am taking requires the Catechism to answer at least five of the ten questions. Initially, in my short-sighted way, I found this irritating because I figured the questions should come from the section of the bible we were studying, not the Catechism.

Then the light went on and I realized that these bible study authors were pretty smart fellas. One of the admirable strengths of some Protestants is their ability to quote from scripture, whereas Catholics haven't been instructed in this manner. Having the Catechism is one of the best, if not the BEST, ways to learn our Faith and see how biblical it is.

How I managed to get this far in life and not have a copy is amazing and almost scandalous. Now I use the Catechism all the time. For someone who's not such a great apologist and a poorly catechised cradle Catholic, the Catechism is a great apologist tool. Every paragraph spells out what the Church believes on a particular subject AND cites the scripture that underlies it. But, you knew that already. Sometimes it takes me awhile to get on board.

In Local News
And, another thing I just received from Ray is this picture of Terry Nelson and his evil twin, Terry Nelson.

I'm not sure if that is Terry on the right or left, and Ray didn't clarify. It's hard to tell from the picture.

11 October 2007

Gospel of St. Matthew Bible Study - Lesson 5

Notes from class covering the fifth chapter of St. Matthew's gospel.
Topics are the Sermon on the Mount - Beatitudes.

Father Echert saved the punch line to the end of class and that is that the overall message of the Beatitudes is that we will be satisfied, but not here. Things will be made perfect, but not yet. Up to this point, the Israelites were expecting the Savior to come and create a glorious kingdom on earth where he would reign like a typical king and things would be perfected and they would be satisfied. When Jesus came and said, "Whoa, not so fast. Not here, not now," they were angered and this is part of the reason they sought to crucify Him.

The fifth chapter starts out with the Sermon on the Mount, which is believed to be an area just to the north of the Sea of Galilee. It was not a mountain, like Mount Sinai, but more of a hill (or even a natural amphitheater as Jeff Cavins mentioned during last year's study). Parallels are drawn between Jesus and Moses. Moses went up on Mount Sinai to receive the law and Jesus preaches His new law from the top of this mountain. Previously, only Moses, as the mediator, could touch the Holy Mountain or God would strike any living thing dead. Jesus is the new mediator. The previously hidden sacrifice of the temple is now far more visible and accessible. The veil will be torn in two, so there will be more access, but still the altar is holy and the priest alone is allowed on the altar and in the tabernacle (makes you pause and think about the EMHCs. If only Moses was allowed to touch the Holy Mountain and others would be struck dead, what is in store for those EMHCs that unworthily, pridefully and haphazardly distribute Communion? I wonder if they understand the GRAVITY of what they are doing and the HONOR of being in the presence of the PERFECT SACRIFICE. I am sure much is expected of them and I hope they are cognizant of it.) Although God is now more approachable and accessible, He is still to be given His rightful place.

Jesus' new law supersedes and perfects the Mosaic Law. He BUILDS, not replaces, the moral commandments of the Mosaic Law. The Old Covenant, as St. Paul says, is obsolete. The ritual law pass away, but NOT the moral laws. The prior ritual laws were there because the people needed them (like children need structure) because they had been unfaithful over and over. God set them apart for their own spiritual well-being and gave them these ritual laws to help them remain faithful. Now Jesus is coming and doing away with these rituals (more childish ways) and calling His disciples to perfection.

From our class notes, it says that Catholics see the Sermon on the Mount as a call to perfection. Others see it as an impossible ideal or an interim ethic view. The theory of the impossible ideal is a 16th century reaction to the perfectionist view and it was pronounced by, who else, Martin Luther. The Sermon on the Mount is designed to teach that the law condemns the entire human race. No human being can claim never to have gotten angry, never to have had lustful thoughts, never to have coveted, etc. Luther believed that Jesus' teachings are designed to show Christians their own inability to save themselves, and to cause Christians who realize this to throw themselves on God's mercy. Albert Schweitzer developed the interim ethic view. The Sermon on the Mount is the product of failed apocalyptic enthusiasm that imagined the kingdom of heaven to be no more than a few years away -- describing how Christians are to live while waiting for the dawn of the celestial kingdom. Schweitzer believed that the kingdom never came and that Jesus, in a strange and desperate attempt to force God's hand, got himself crucified and died without rising again. Have at 'er, there Albert.

Jesus being on the mount also parallels David and Mount Zion. Father didn't talk about this at all, but from our class notes it mentions that the OT prophets "understand the Davidic covenant to be an expansion and development of the Mosaic covenant. The covenant mediated through Moses establishes a nation, while the covenant with David establishes a kingdom to rule not only the people of Israel but all the Gentiles as well." Jesus has now come to establish His Church, which includes the Israelites and the Gentiles. Some symbolism that Father didn't mention is that the mountain is indicative of the high standards of the New Covenant. Moses brought the law down from the mountain to the people; they weren't able to ascend or meet God at His level, showing that the Old Covenant was a lower form of law and is now superseded by the New Covenant, perfected and exemplified by Jesus.

Father mentioned the Beatitudes mean blessing or even happiness, although he cautioned about interpreting it as happiness because it could lead to poor understanding. Happiness can be spiritual or temporal. The will or soul is content in having acquired some good or "rest" (these ideas are from St. Thomas' Summa Theologica). A good may NOT be an objective good (Father's example was bank robbing, the robbers are "happy" they got the loot, but it isn't a good). Sin seeks a "perceived" good or a good disproportionately. The saints were able to perceive "goods" and put them in the correct order (spiritual goods above temporal). They were willing to give up a temporal (temporary) good for a higher spiritual (eternal) good. We are given the grace and conscience to discern a false good from a true good. This is why it is important to form your conscience correctly. The Beatitudes speak about spiritual blessings - higher ordered goods (supernatural) and speak of postponing temporal blessings until we enter Heaven.

St. Luke's gospel has a similar account, often called the "Sermon on the Plain." Scholars argue whether the events are the same or not. Father mentioned that Jesus preached for three years and undoubtedly said the same thing over and over, so the accounts could be of different events. He likened it to giving a homily at three different Masses on the same day. The message would be the same, but the actual words used may differ slightly. For example, Luke's gospel account mentions, "Blessed are the poor," but Matthew's says, "Blessed are the poor in spirit."

As Jesus started preaching, he sat down, which is the typical posture for a Rabbi to use when teaching and speaking from authority.

An aside that Father didn't mention is that the Beatitudes follow a specific pattern, with each blessing building on the prior and the beatitude of spiritual poverty being the foundation of all the others. The first seven beatitudes correspond to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Poor in spirit means we are called to humility and aware of our need for God's grace and mercy. Wealthy or impoverished people can both be spiritually poor; spiritually dispossessed of material and worldly goods.

Those who mourn doesn't just mean mourning for the dead. It means to mourn our sins against God, humanity and original sin that brought this separation from God upon us. We are aware of the just punishment of God and accept it. Father said it could be read as those who "mourn over sin."

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Father said that this is a "condition of Heaven." We must pray for our enemies and their salvation, must forgive, not judge. He cited some passage from Shakespeare (maybe Karen will know this) in Hamlet where the murderer held off killing the King because he heard the King say a prayer of remorse and figured the King was, at that moment, in a state of grace. The murderer wanted to wait until the King was no longer in the state of grace to kill him to ensure his damnation. Pure evil!

"Blessed are the peacemakers" doesn't have much to do with being a pacifist. Father mentioned that when Jesus appeared to His apostles, He didn't get all fire and brimstone about getting back at the folks that crucified Him. The first thing He said was "Peace be with you." He was giving them God's peace and showing that through what He did, mankind can be reconciled with God and we are to spread the message of this peace (reconciliation with God) to others.

"You are the light of the world." Indicates what must happen in the Church, we must be a beacon in the world, evangelizing by our example, doing good works. The Israelites often failed and adopted the ways of the pagans around them instead of converting them, so God had to isolate them. In the Old Covenant, there were physical walls of the cities to keep the pagans/Gentiles out. In the New Covenant, there are spiritual walls that we are to use to keep out the way of the world, but we are to be examples, lights, to draw people in by what they see.

"For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." The scribes and Pharisees were the ones who most perfectly kept the covenant. They went overboard and applied the strict laws that were meant for the priests to all. Jesus is saying that they paid great attention to the temporal and we should have as much zeal for the spiritual.

Although Father didn't mention it, verses 21-48 are called the "Six Antithesis" where Jesus says, "You have heard it said...but I say to you..." Here He is showing He is the new Moses and the lawgiver of the New Covenant. Within these verses, Father said, it shows we will be judged for INTENTION too, not just actions as in the Old Covenant. More is given in the New Covenant and more is expected. There is a new standard and God will provide the grace to resist.

Verse 22 uses the word "fool" but Father said the correct translation is moron. You are not to call someone a moron (which comes from the Greek "moronos" or something phonetically like that!) but even St. Paul calls unfaithful people "fools" in Corinthians.

In verse 38, it says "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." This is OT justice and was perfectly acceptable to God. It did limit what you could do, since you were only allowed one tooth, not two, for that would be vengeance. The punishment had to fit the crime. The New Covenant tells you to turn the other cheek. We are now called to charity, which transcends justice. God will take care of the justice, we are to concern ourselves with charity.

Next week we don't have class, but come back the following Thursday for Chapter Six.

10 October 2007

Diversions on a cold day

I didn't want to be the last one on my block to do this...

1. YOUR ROCK STAR NAME: (first pet & current car)
Shalom Civic

2.YOUR GANGSTA NAME: (fave ice cream flavor, favorite cookie)
Chocolate Chocolate Chip

3. YOUR “FLY Guy/Girl” NAME:(first letter of first name, first three letters of last name)
M Lam

4. YOUR DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, favorite animal)
Green Kitten

5. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you were born)
Therese St. Paul (Is that a religious name or what!??)

6. YOUR STAR WARS NAME: (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first)

7. SUPERHERO NAME: (”The” + 2nd favorite color, favorite drink)
The Blue Coke or The Blue Margarita if you want an alcoholic drink

8. NASCAR NAME: (the first names of your grandfathers
Michael Mark or Mark Michael

10.WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother’s & father’s middle names )
Anne John

11. TV WEATHER ANCHOR NAME: (Your 5th grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter)
Smith Stockholm

12. SPY NAME: (your favorite season/holiday, flower)
Spring Mallow

13. CARTOON NAME: (favorite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now + “ie” or “y”)
Strawberry Shirtie

14. HIPPY NAME: (What you ate for breakfast, your favorite tree)
Croissant Evergreen

15. YOUR ROCKSTAR TOUR NAME: (”The” + Your fave hobby/craft, fave weather element + “Tour”)
The Genealogy Sunshine Tour

09 October 2007

Encounters at that farpoint of the continuum

Further musings on whether Matthew was the first gospel written or if Mark was.

I tell you, my father was a sage. If there ever was a difference of opinion (Catholic dogma aside), he would say, "Well, you know, we can't all like chocolate ice cream." So true, dad. (I think he was a vanilla man.)

Well, chocolate ice cream is my favorite, but on the following subject I think I'm falling into the "Matthew is earliest camp."

I did manage to get the New Jerome Biblical Commentary from the UST library and read the chapters on the Synoptic Problem and the Q Source. I also, over the weekend, just started reading Fathers of the Church, by Mike Aquilina. And, along with the Jerome Commentary, I checked out One Gospel from Two, Mark's Use of Matthew and Luke, by David Peabody (with Cope & McNicol), just to balance out Jerome.

Here's my take on things, considering I'm NOT a theologian, not a biblical scholar, and I have only taken a few weeks of the bible study (which doesn't really address this issue. In fact, the issue popped up based on a slightly-more-than-off-hand comment that Father Echert made), read a few chapters in the Jerome Commentary and the intro and a little bit more from the One Gospel from Two book. My summation of these books is that this issue isn't going to be resolved in this lifetime (certainly not by me) and it could be argued until the end of the world without anyone budging an inch. From the sidelines, it seems that the Matthew camp says one thing and cites its passages, the Mark camp says the opposite and cites some other passages. He said - he said, in a sense. This did nothing for a non-biblical scholar like myself, other than to make my head hurt, confound me and make me wish I had never endeavored to climb this contentious mountain.

However, this doesn't mean I haven't resolved things in my own mind. Remember chocolate ice cream, folks. This is my opinion and this hurdle is something I cannot get over, so am making a conclusion based on this stumbling block.

My stumbling block is that I don't believe in Q. Also known as the "Q document." (Sorry, John de Lancie, yours was a great character.) I am a Quatheist.

A bit of background on the Q document from Wiki:

The recognition of 19th-century New Testament scholars that Matthew and Luke share much material not found in their generally recognized common source, the Gospel of Mark, has suggested a second common source, termed the Q document. This hypothetical lost text —also called the Q Gospel, the Sayings Gospel Q, the Synoptic Sayings Source, the Q Manuscript, and in the 19th century The Logia— seems most likely to have comprised a collection of Jesus' sayings. Recognizing such a Q document is one of two key elements in the "two-source hypothesis" alongside the priority of Mark.

The two-source theory is the most widely accepted solution to the Synoptic Problem, which concerns the literary relationships between and among the first three canonical gospels (the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke), known as the Synoptic Gospels. Similarity in word choices and event placement shows an interrelationship. The synoptic problem concerns how this interrelation came to pass and what the nature of this interrelationship is. According to the two-source theory, Matthew and Luke both used the Gospel of Mark, independently of one another. This necessitates the existence of a hypothetical source in order to explain the double tradition material where there is agreement between Matthew and Luke that is not in Mark. This hypothetical source is named Q for convenience.

Mike Aquilina's book did far more to advance my opinion than the other two books and Mike's book didn't even address this issue. It showed that the early Fathers were very concerned with showing a continuation, a hand-off, between the Apostles to the Apostolic Fathers, and from the Apostolic Fathers to the next generation on down. These Fathers clearly touted their connections to the Apostles as proof of their validity, established clear lines in their pedigrees and built their reputations. They painstakingly developed early churches and liturgies, reading from the Apostles during Mass from the moments these words were placed on paper. They were very, very careful to preserve the incredible and infantile Church that was now in their hands. They used the weapons they had at their disposal to combat heresy, disobedience and confusion. These weapons were the gospels and books of the New Testament.

So, who then was the author of Q? Why would such an important book of the New Testament, that two other gospel writers supposedly relied on, not appear anywhere in the written or oral history of the Church? Why was this important book lost or not preserved, especially by the Fathers? Why would not even a fragment of the book remain when we have scores of other Gnostic gospels that exist? Why wasn't this book in the canon, since it must've been inspired to a large degree to have two other inspired authors rely so heavily on it? Why wasn't this book used as part of the liturgy when even books of lesser "importance" (those written by early church Fathers, martyrs and saints) were put forward to be included in the canon and were heavily used in the 1st century liturgies?

There are other more scholarly arguments in the One Gospel from Two book, but these are the questions that plague me and make, in my mind, the existence of Q implausible.

The Fathers handed down a vast Catholic Tradition to the subsequent generations, all the way down to the 1500s when a German, Martin Luther, appeared on the scene and decided the way things had been done previously were in error. The Fathers also handed down the Matthew first idea until the 1800s when another German decided what had been previously believed was wrong. I know, this isn't a real argument, but why should we suddenly abandon an idea that was held for nearly two millenia, especially by Fathers who actually knew the Apostles?

The idea of Markan priority, from what I understand, is not completely dependent on Q, but the ideas are heavily interwoven. At this stage, I just have a hard time believing that not even a shred is known about Q, except a 19th century hypothesis.

Knowing humans as thou doth, Captain, wouldst thou be captured helpless by them? - Q

08 October 2007

With stops at Purgatory and all points beyond

Although it's hard to believe, November, the month for remembering the Poor Souls, is quickly approaching. Numerous saints have been visited by the Poor Souls, often asking them for prayers or Masses so that they will be released from Purgatory, or like St. Perpetua, who saw her younger brother as he was released from Purgatory because of her prayers.

I have no doubt that the Poor Souls can come to us to plead for prayers or to thank us for our fidelity and assistance.

Scorch marks from a Poor Soul on The Imitation of Christ, Rome

One of my favorite blogs, Our Lady's Tears, has had several great posts about Purgatory. She encouraged me to write this post about my father's experiences.

My father was a Third Order Carmelite for many, many years. He had a wonderful devotion to Our Lady and the Poor Souls. He said the Daily Office and a daily rosary. Most afternoons, my father could be found laying on the couch in the living room, deep in prayer. Often times, because of how long he had been lying on the couch and how still he was, I thought he was asleep. However, he was just busy with his daily prayers; many of the prayers were for those who had petitioned him with their intentions.

Before his death, my father told me of an experience he had while in prayer. He was, like he normally was, laying on the couch in the living room saying his rosary. He became aware of a presence, that he described as female, across the room from him, although he could not see it with his eyes. He said the presence moved towards him and even though he was laying on the couch and it wasn't physically possible, he said it felt like the presence hugged him with so much love and gratitude that it was suffocating. So overwhelmingly beautiful and incredible that it was suffocating. The instant my father acted like he was suffocating, the presence was gone. I could tell my father was disappointed he reacted as he had and that had brought about the quick departure of the Poor Soul.

I know my father had various experiences in his life and was not quick to talk about them. I would bet I am the only one he ever told this experience to, primarily because I believe he thought the soul that visited him might be my mother. Although he didn't say it, in his typically understated way, I could tell that the mention of the presence being a woman held great weight in what he was trying to convey to me.

If it was my mother, what an incredible gift that would be to both of them.

My father had one other experience with the Poor Souls that he told me about, but he didn't tell me much about it other than he was aware of a soul thanking him and being grateful. That's all my father would say as he was very humble about talking about things like this.

The Poor Souls are in need of Masses and our prayers. A great blog dedicated to them is Friends of the Poor Souls. Start preparing now for your November novenas.


Prayer of Saint Gertrude the Great


Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the Universal Church, those in my own home and within my family.

05 October 2007

The Book of Irreverent Revelation

The Letter to the Obvious

Britney Spears lost custody of her kids, may check into a posh celebrity rehab and missed her day in court because she was too busy getting a Frappuccino at Starbucks.

Senator Larry Craig isn't going to resign.

Marion Jones took steriods.

The City of St. Paul is planning to tear down the luxury river front condos, also known as the jail.

The Vikings lost...to the Packers.

If your kid ever pushes someone, it will be the daughter of your bible study group leader.

If your 82 year-old aunt ever gets locked out of the house, it will be as soon as the kids finally are taking a nap.

Don't listen to your husband when he tells you that you don't need to prime paneling before you paint it.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, like picking up toys and thinking that they will stay in the bins this time.

Sometimes, what you assume is water, really isn't.

Have a good weekend everyone. We're on our way to close up the cabin.

Down the chimney

Today I will be making the Christmas gift list for my husband's family. We used to draw names, but then the family started to get so large and people weren't always in the same place at one time that I was elected to do this because I mentioned that you could just throw the names in Excel and use the random number generator and create a list of givers and recipients.

I don't know if my husband's family really believes I do this random number deal and that it's all legit. Some have complained that they got the same person as last year. Well, there are only about 15 people in the list and there are restrictions placed on who can buy for who (parents can't get their own kids, kids their own parents, so with only four different families, the actual number of people any one person can get is very limited.)

Parents still buy gifts for their kids and kids for the parents, but back before the family got sooooo large (sarcasm folks, this is a very small family compared to mine) everyone bought gifts for everyone else. Huge expenditure. Finally, practicality and reason set in and the name drawing scenario reared its ugly head. We now get a name and have to buy that person a $35 gift. In some families, they have a limit of $10 and it has to be a NON-practical gift. The limit had been $25, but people complained they couldn't buy a nice gift for such a measly amount.

However, everyone was still expected to by my nephews gifts. The amount of presents they received at Christmas (from everyone!) was obscene. Literally, a mound of presents sat in the middle of the room just for my nephews to devour.

It is happening with my own kids. I have put limits on things and asked that people buy the kids books and other items we need for homeschooling, but still this materialism is rampant. Actually, in this family materialism substitutes for love in many ways. The grandparents want to show everyone they are loved by buying everyone gifts they cannot afford, gifts that are charged on their credit card and don't get paid off for years.

As much as it irritates me that they do this, it would irritate me if they didn't. What an odd Catch-22. I don't expect big expensive presents for my kids, but I do expect a present. When did this happen to me? It's a case of they bought my nephews huge, massive, expensive and obscene presents and they better at least get my kids something. Not a big something, but something. Maybe I do sense that their giving is a form of love because they are kind of emotionally distant and disconnected otherwise.

For Christmas I want this idea to disappear. I was raised in a big family. Our grandparents (mom's side) were wonderful and showered us with love, but they didn't buy us gifts outside of one at Christmas. I used to have to thank my grandmother on my dad's side for the two dollars she sent me at Christmas, one for my birthday and one for my Christmas gift. I don't want my kids to become materialistic OR to have any expectations of others that I seem to have been infected with lately.

Maybe, this year, I should find an old antique copy of "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens, my most all-time favorite book, and give that as my present to whomever I am expected to buy a present for.

Hopefully, they will read it and regift it to someone, and gradually less materialism will surround Christmas.

04 October 2007

Gospel of St. Matthew Bible Study - Lesson 4

Continuing with my notes from class. Father covered the fourth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew today. Not as many notes this week. This chapter deals with Jesus going out into the wilderness/desert to fast for 40 days/nights before He begins His public ministry. Here we find the devil tempting Him.

Some contrasts and similarities are highlighted in this chapter.
We see the temptation and obedience of Jesus strongly contrasted against the disobedience of Israel.
Both Israel and Jesus are called God's son.
Both Israel's and Jesus' temptations are preceded by a baptism.
Jesus is tempted for 40 days/nights, and Israel for 40 years. From our bible study last year, we learned that the number 40 is indicative of a period of testing.
And, Father mentioned that the Gospel of Luke does not have the three temptations in the same order. Not significant, just making note of it.

The 40 days are commemorated by the Church at Lent.

Big theme: Jesus is the New Adam, the New Moses and the New Israel. Jesus has come to reverse the curse of Adam (from St. Paul's epistle to the Romans).

Adam (and Eve) was made sinless and was not inclined to sin. This is part of what makes his sin so terrible.

My question is, if Adam, Eve and Mary (along with Jesus) were all created without sin and had no concupiscence or inclination to sin, what would cause Adam and Eve to sin, but not Mary (or Jesus)? They all had free will. If Adam and Eve were perfectly happy, what would make them sin? I guess, similarly, what would make the angels sin since they had perfect knowledge of the consequences of their decision? From my post yesterday, the answer to the angels is pride, and this seems to hold true for Adam and Eve, who want to be like gods. (Higher than all reconciliation must the Will will, which the will to power is - Nietzsche)
I don't get the distinction. If Jesus was never able to sin and neither was Mary (I was told this by a veddy veddy orthodox priest that Mary had free will and was conceived without sin, but she was "preserved" from sin.) what's the deal with Adam and Eve? (Off on a tangent here.)

Father said that if the devil was not in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve would've (could've?) remained sinless, but God allowed the devil in. Hmmm. Then Father went on to discuss a bit about the fallen angels, and once again, I could swear he's reading my blog (which isn't the case, but quite a coincidence...again). He talked about the envy of the angels, which I mentioned in my post from yesterday. Father said that the fallen angels are eager to tempt souls out of envy; their never-ending envy of humanity and the happiness that they cannot have. Well, guys you knew what you were doing when you rebelled. Guess misery does love company.

Father said angels can't change their minds, God gave them grace and the knowledge they would need to make a decision for all time (irrevocable).

Adam and Eve are not just creative tools used by the prophets in the bible, but Church teaching is that they were real and are our forefathers. Further, the representations of Jesus in modern movies (Father was hinting at the DaVinci Code) that show Jesus having lust for Mary Magdelene are pure fantasy because Jesus never had ANY inclination to sin.

Significant to note that when Jesus was in the wilderness fasting for 40 days and nights, he suffered terribly. It wasn't just hunger from missing dinner, it was hunger that only was possible to endure because God sustained Him. Any other human would've died weeks prior. Strong parallels are being drawn here between this suffering and the agony in the garden. We see in both cases Jesus is tempted, suffered terribly and is ministered to by angels. These are the only two times this happens. Father noted these two events of incredible suffering are like "bookends" of the public ministry of Jesus.

Curiously, we come to the devil and see a not-so-well-known reason for him tempting Jesus. The devil has limited knowledge and power. It is well beyond ours, but it was amusing to hear how limited the devil is. The reason the devil tempted Jesus is that the devil was well aware of scripture, he knew God had promised a Savior that would crush the devil's head. He had a strong feeling that his number was up. Previously, he had tried, unsuccessfully, to eliminate "the line of the woman," so he was interested to find out who Jesus really was. He was UNCERTAIN if Jesus was the Son of God. His temptations, in part, were to get to the bottom of the question and find out for himself if this was the one who would be his undoing. The devil is not omniscient. He can observe but is limited to what God allows him to know. He cannot go into a soul or intellect, he cannot read our mind. The devil cannot "see" divinity (hey, this relates to the "evening knowledge" from my post yesterday!).

As far as the temptations go, the devil wants him to perform a miracle by turning a stone into bread. Father said that while the devil could make a stone look like bread, he cannot change a stone into bread because this is a creative act and only God can create. (Performing a miracle here would tip off the devil as to who Jesus really was.) Father mentioned that the devil is appealing to a good here, which is bread would satisfy a hunger, but mixes lies with some truth. Here Jesus is able to overcome the temptations that the Israelites weren't, with Jesus quoting scripture from Deuteronomy that points back to the warnings given to the Israelites for disobedience. The test shows that earthly things are not the goal, but the Bread of Life.

The second temptation, where Jesus is to throw himself down and have the angels save him, represents the human desire for fame and notoriety, "'He will give his angels charge of you', and 'On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a STONE.'" Father noted that the word scandal means to trip on a stone. Interesting.

While Jesus tolerated the above temptations, when the devil tells Jesus to bow down and worship him and he will give Him all the kingdoms of the world, Jesus won't put up with blasphemy, since you are to worship God alone, and tells the devil to "Begone." This temptation represents our desire for power.

During the temptations, Jesus quotes from Deuteronomy. From the Catechism regarding the significance, "The evangelists indicate the salvific meaning of this mysterious event: Jesus is the new Adam who remained faithful just where the first Adam had given into temptation. Jesus fulfills Israel's vocation perfectly; in contrast to those who had once provoked God during forty years in the desert, Christ reveals himself as God's Servant, totally obedient to the divine will."

Peter was also called Satan in Matthew 16:21 because Peter wanted to do his own will not the will of God.

Jesus, after the death of John the Baptist, withdrew to Galilee. Here is where the tribes of Zebulun and Naptali had been before the Babylonian Captivity. Not much is left of the Jews here since it has been nearly 700 years since the captivity (721 BC). Jesus goes here to begin his ministry, indicating that He has come to restore the lost sheep of Israel (Matthew 15:24) and begin to undo the curse.

Many of the disciples had been followers of John the Baptist and had heard and learned about Jesus. They probably had meet Him and sat and listened to Him preach prior to the event we find in the gospel, where Jesus calls them (Peter and Andrew) and they IMMEDIATELY follow Him. Father said the synoptic gospels wanted to stress the urgency, but it wasn't as if they had just seen Jesus for the first time. They went from disciples to apostles; they would represent Jesus at some point.

When Jesus begins His ministry, He began "teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and infirmity among the people. So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them." Father mentioned that the devil now knows Jesus is GOD and Jesus is beginning to displace the devil where ever He goes by healing the sick and undoing the curse.

Stay tuned for next week, Chapter 5.