30 November 2007

My name is Jane Doe and I'm a recovering Luddite

You first have to recognize you have a problem.

It took a long time to get there, but I think I finally hit bottom. I have been out of the tech field for several years and the distance has affected my personal life. Looking back, I can see how I got to this point, but am not so sure I want to reform.

I'm a Luddite of sorts. My husband is well into denial that he is a full-blown Luddite. I'm not totally against technology, but I don't want it to run my life. I don't want to be a slave to it and have it infiltrate every moment of my life.

No cell phones
No iPODs
No Blackberry
No laptop
No cable

Pretty much just an old PC with a slow dial-up modem and a cordless phone.

Then my tech-enabled brother showed up and started the 12-step program. See, he's totally tech savvy and is embarrassed that his sister is so Cro-Magnon. Especially since I used to work at Intel at one time. They've probably erased all evidence that I ever was employed there.

My brother has every gadget. Fast computer, cell phone, Ninetendo gamey things, Wii, etc. I'm not saying these are good, mind you, just that he's on one end of the tech spectrum and I'm on the other.

I'm not sad about it and don't really think I have a problem. A three year-old with an iPOD, now there's a problem.

So, what's a little brother to do when Big Sis is in the dark ages?

Buy her a cell phone.

Now I'm totally connected...or so the salesman said. I have a pre-paid cell phone that won't even work at my cabin, which is one place I might actually use it in case of emergency. The salesman was so confident and cocky that the area at my cabin was covered, and even my brother didn't believe me when I told him that there is dead air at our cabin. "Oh, no m'am, your area is in our coverage." I'm sorry, I wasn't going to let these two make me feel totally in the dark ages and ignorant, so I had him check the coverage area...since he offered to show me on their computer that can check any address GPS-like and just PROVE it's "covered."

Low and behold, upon closer scrutiny (zooming into the area where my cabin is) it shows a dead spot. In fact, the entire lake (which is nine miles long) isn't even on the map since it's all grey in the "not covered area" where my cabin is supposed to be. Not so smug now are ya boys! My brother merely responded that he couldn't believe that we are so completely backwards that we can't even get cell phone coverage at the cabin. It wasn't that the cell phone company was lacking, it was us.

That's the point. Greta Garbo had it right. When I'm at my cabin, I want to be alone. If I want to use the phone, I can always drive down to the end of the road and use the phone...that area is covered.

See, it's not so much that I'm a Luddite as it is I value my peace and quiet...quiet time with my family, not a gizmo.

29 November 2007

St. Matthew Bible Study - Lesson 10

After a break last week because of Thanksgiving, we picked up again with Chapter 10 of St. Matthew’s gospel.

Father Echert always mentions that Satan’s power is being curtailed more and more and that the effects of sin are being lessened. Here we start chapter 10 seeing that Jesus gave his apostles authority over unclean spirits, “to cast them out and to heal every disease and every infirmity.” God’s power is acting through the apostles. Jesus then sends out His apostles to “heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons.”

This ties in nicely with a quote in the study from one of my favorite saints:
Only after they had seen the dead raised, the sea rebuked, devils expelled, the legs of a paralytic brought to life, sins remitted, lepers cleansed, and had received a sufficient proof of his power both by deeds and words did He send them out.-St. John Chrysostom

Father said that even as Jesus transcends the Old Covenant, there is continuity into the New Covenant. We see this with the number 12. Previously, there were 12 tribes, now there are 12 apostles. It was important to the apostles to have 12, so Peter argued for a replacement to Judas. Lots were cast and through the power of the Holy Spirit, Matthias was chosen. This is when the Church was officially born. View the incorporation documents in Delaware ;}

Maybe you noticed that Peter’s name is always listed first in the bible and Judas is listed last. It was customary to list people by priority and I think it still is the way things are done.

Simon is renamed Peter, which was not a name that was known or used back then. Cephas is the Aramaic form of Peter, which is the masculine form of the Greek word for rock: Petros.

The Evangelists never used the first person in their writings, except for St. John who uses it in his epilogue.

Big point of this chapter is Jesus is fulfilling an Old Testament prophecy about gathering his lost sheep. These lost sheep are the ten tribes that were taken into captivity during the first Babylonian exile. They are referred to as Israel, while the two tribes that survived until the second captivity are called Judah, which consist of the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin. The ten lost tribes of Israel were in the northern part of the region and were later called Samaritans because they intermarried with the pagan peoples of the area (the capital was Samaria).

From Ezekiel, God says, “Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when some of his sheep have been scattered abroad, so will I seek out my sheep; and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. And I will bring them out from the peoples, and gather them from the countries…” (Ez 34:11-13). Jesus is now sending his apostles out to gather these sheep, the ten lost tribes. In fact, they are ONLY to seek the lost Israelites at this point and not evangelize the pagans and Gentiles. “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And preach as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Our small group discussed that it wasn’t until after Jesus’ resurrection that St. Paul was chartered with the job of preaching to the Gentiles. Never realized this.

We see that God’s grace and love are conditional in this verse, “And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you.” (Mt 10:13) And, in the next verse we see that those that are not willing to accept the apostles or their message are to be treated as spiritually unclean. “And if any one will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town.” This would’ve been an insult because the Jews would shake the dirt off their feet when leaving Gentile areas as a gesture indicating that the Gentiles were (ritually) unclean, so any Jew would recognize the significance of getting flipped the apostolic bird.

Father mentioned that the area back then wasn’t called Palestine, but the name originated after 135 AD when the Jews revolted against a weakened Roman Empire. The revolt was put down and the Romans called the Jews the name of their enemies, the Philistines, which then became the Romanized “Palestine.”

Father mentioned that the “council” mentioned in Matthew 10:17, was the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin consisted of 70 members and it isn’t known how they were chosen. Synagogue, which means gathering place, is not as old as the Jewish temple. After the 6th century, this system arose where you couldn’t offer sacrifice and it had no altar, but there were readings. Father said our Mass is a hybrid of the temple and synagogue because we have elements of both (readings and an altar/sacrifice).

Father Echert mentioned that all of the apostles, except St. John, suffered a martyr’s death. God doesn’t allow evil to triumph through this action, but brings a greater good out of it. What Satan would use to crush the Church actually serves to strengthen it.

In Matthew 10:23 we see some apocalyptic language, “…you will not have done through all the town of Israel, before the Son of Man comes.” In 70 AD the temple is destroyed, which signifies the initial fulfillment, on a small scale, of what will happen at the end of time. Josephus’ writings indicate that many considered the destruction of the temple to be the end of the world.

Another big point is the sword, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34) Father said we see here that actions have a cause and effect or action and consequence. He said God did come to bring peace, but that humanity rejected peace, and it was humanity that raised a sword against God. A mini-homily broke out. Father said that the world at large will not allow the Church to be at peace if it is doing its mission. If there is peace, there is something wrong. Things shouldn’t be quiet because that would indicate that we are in a false “capitulated” peace.

In our small group discussion, we see that Jesus equips His followers with the sword of the spirit…God’s word (Eph 6:17 and Heb 4:12). And that the God’s word is sharper than a two-edged sword.

We also see several examples of Jesus telling his apostles what to expect...persecution from Jews and Gentiles. They are not to fear those that can kill them physically, but to be wary of Satan who can "kill" spiritually. Also Jesus refers to the need to put God at the top, as our priority, "He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me..." Jesus is not anti-family, but reminds us that God should be more important in our lives. Father said this is true in our families when someone is not living according to the gospel. We are not to condone the behavior, but speak out kindly and compassionately.

"...and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me." Here we see a foreshadowing of the martyrdom of most of the apostles and an image of what is demanded of us to follow Jesus. The Jews of the day understood this reference since they were familiar with crucifixion. With Jesus, the cross becomes a symbol of triumph and hope instead of despair. The cross will now symbolize the glory of martyrdom..."God reigned from the wood."
Father also mentioned he drove his motorcycle for the last time this season last weekend and has now put it away until spring :) No more worries he won't be there for bible study because he had another accident.

28 November 2007

A faint whiff of Frankincense

Or warm stollen in the kitchen

I finally have gotten a plan together for what I would like to do bring Christ into Christmas in our home. Now that my kids are getting old enough to actively participate, there are many things we can do. Because of my genealogy interests, I wanted to incorporate cultural elements into the season, but quickly found when you're a mutt and not a purebred, you have a lot of cultures to account for! It wouldn't be possible to do them all justice, so this year I am focusing on my German and Swiss heritage, along with hubby's Germans from Poland/Russia background. Next year I think I'll try a weird combination of Irish/Welsh/Scottish/English and pray there won't be fighting in the house :)

We will light candles on the advent wreath. I just received a great book, The Catholic Home, Celebrations and Traditions for Holidays, Feast Days, and Every Day, by Meredith Gould. She is a Jewish convert to Catholicism and knows more about traditional Catholic things than I certainly do. Her book, along with a wealth of internet sites, provides some background on the Advent wreath. I will be learning my faith along with my kids.

Wreath - The eternal nature of God; the king who is coming and will come again in glory
Ivy - Clinging to God's strength
Holly - The crown of thorns
Bay - Victory over sin and death
Cedar - Eternal life through Christ
Violet - Penance
Rose/pink - Joy
Green (wreath) - Hope in God
First candle - Isaiah and prophets who foretold the coming of Christ
Second candle - The Bible
Third candle - Mary, the Mother of God
Fourth candle - John the Baptist, who called Jesus the "Light of the World"
Middle candle - Jesus, Light of the World

I also plan to get the store-bought Advent calendars that have the doors you open each day and get a piece of chocolate. We'll read the kids the bible verses each day and then let them have their chocolate.

I've never made a Jesse tree before. Maybe way back in CCD we did, but I don't remember ever doing this. There are ornaments you can print out on the internet or some you can make and your kids can color. Of course, all of the ornaments are steeped in symbolism, which is very neat. They also have the daily bible readings to go along with this. May have to combine these with the advent calendar readings this year.

In Germany, they celebrate Christmas on December 6, which is the feast of St. Nicholas or St. Nicholas' Day. I don't want to move our Christmas, but do want to emphasize the bishop instead of the jolly man in the red suit, so will do some things for St. Nicholas' Day.

According to a website:
As in many other European countries, on the eve of Dec. 6th children place a shoe or boot by the fireplace. During the night, St. Nicholas, the patron saint of children, hops from house to house carrying a book of sins in which all of the misdeeds of the children are written. If they have been good, he fills the shoe or boot with delicious holiday edibles. If they have not been good, their shoe is filled with twigs.

I've also heard that depending on the child, there may be candy tied to a twig, sending them the message that their behavior was borderline! We have some old wooden shoes from my husband's great grandfather that I will set out by the fireplace. Also, St. Nicholas used to quiz the children on their catechism/prayers and knowledge of the faith before they got anything in their shoes. Will have to try something like that with my son.

From Meredith Gould's book (p. 20), she mentions this is done by European and Canadian Catholics, who have their children write letters to the Christ Child on December 5. "These little notes, which, admittedly may include requests for presents, are left on the windowsill for St. Nicholas to pick up and deliver."

I have several very nice manger scenes/creches. But have one that is fairly large that I will put in front of the fireplace. The kids will probably enjoy doing this and I'm sure it will be a challenge to keep them from playing with it!

From a website I found: Heilige Drei Könige (the “Wise Men,” “Three Kings,” the Magi) in German. To this day, the initials of the Three Kings — C+M+B (Caspar/Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthasar) — plus the year are inscribed in chalk over doorways in German-speaking countries on the eve of January 6 to protect house and home. (Although historically the three letters are supposed to come from the Latin phrase for “Christ bless this house”—"Christus mansionem benedicat"—few of the people practicing this custom are aware of this fact. We have done this for many years, since St. Agnes has always provided blessed chalk and the blessing prayers each year. This is one of my favorites.

I'm still debating if I want to make any special German items. I've never been a big fan of German food. Don't really care for sausage. Always made the stuff for my dad, but no one else really eats these things and hubby's family wouldn't know stollen if it bit them! Maybe this year I'll just go easy and bake all the usual things instead of trying to incorporate too much!

There is much more that could be done to add a German flair to things, but for this mom, this is plenty! I also heard that in some countries that the Feast of the Immaculate Conception is treated as another Mother's Day and moms get the day off and are treated to breakfast in bed, no chores, no responsibilities. I may push for this...

27 November 2007

A story of a girl and her car

My 82 year-old aunt bought a Prius last month. My husband suggested that she pick a different car. So did my uncle, her BIL, whom she listens to because he used to teach auto mechanics. It wasn't so much the car as it is my aunt.

My aunt always likes to have the new thing. She's generally very sensible and certainly can take care of herself. She never married, so has learned to get along on her own. So, last spring when she started talking about buying a Prius, I did my best to dissuade her, but knew it was only a matter of time before a Prius pulled up in front of my house.

Summer came and my aunt spent a great deal of time at the cabin. I usually check in with her daily, but when she's at the cabin, I only talk to her when she comes back to the city for something. During this time, there was no talk of buying a Prius. I thought maybe she had put the idea out of her head.

Silly me. I had forgotten how my aunt is.

Once her cabin got closed up for the season, which was on a Sunday, she went to the Toyota dealer and bought a Prius on Tuesday. Since no cars of the color she wanted were on the lot, they had to order one. Within a few weeks, she pulled up in her Prius.

She had had trouble getting it home from the dealer. Somehow she bumped the windshield wipers into the "on" position and was driving down the freeway with them constantly on and spraying fluid. I don't know how this happens, but I don't doubt that it did. My aunt pulled off the freeway and sat in the Cub parking lot reading the manual on how to shut off the wipers. No luck. So, she continued on home with them still running.

In the process of driving, she managed to re-bump the wipers and shut them off.

When my brother was here, we went shopping and he bought her a cell phone for Christmas. He felt better that she now had a way to call someone if she needed help. I thought it was probably better to let my brother be with his naive notions of having all the bases covered with my aunt. I'm very close to her and know that you can never think of all the possibilities that she will get herself in to.

This time, however, it happened while my brother was still here.

The day after he bought my aunt her cell phone, we were sitting around when the phone rang. It was my aunt. Her car was being towed. Something was wrong with it. We were to meet her at her house.

My brother was happy that the cell phone had already come in handy. Wrong.

My aunt had gone to Rainbow Foods to get a few items. She later said that when she started the car, it kind of jerked and coughed, but once she got going, all was well. She left the Rainbow Foods parking lot on University Avenue and pulled out onto Snelling (for everyone outside the Twin Cities, Snelling and University is the busiest intersection in the city.) She is headed south on Snelling towards Highland Park. She got a few blocks to the corner of Snelling and Grand when her car was now dead. It was rush hour. It was another very busy intersection.

Some nice kids who were trapped behind her stalled car, got out and helped push her car off of Snelling and out of the way. She was very grateful for their help, but they wouldn't take any money for their trouble. The tow truck from AAA was called (AAA membership is another gift from some of my cousins trying to further help cover all the bases with my aunt.)

This is where we are involved in the story, when she called us from the tow truck and told us she was being towed home. My brother was all smiles that he had just bought her the cell phone and it already proved handy.

Silly brother. The cell phone she used was the tow truck driver's. Her cell phone was at home charging since that was as far as she had read in the manual on how to use it.

The car...it had run out of gas. She hadn't read the entire manual to know what all the lights with exclamation points on her dash were trying to tell her, even the one with the lit-up gas pump.

Moral of the story: Don't buy a car that requires you to read a manual before you have enough information to be able to drive it.

26 November 2007

Notes from the Old Country

I found this interesting, especially since Northern Ireland is predominately orange. Guess they bleed green there too.

From the BBC:
One of the world's oldest styles of religious music is attracting a host of new enthusiasts.

Gregorian chant is usually associated with monks in monasteries, but it's being heard more often now in regular services. Its growing popularity brought 70 representatives of choirs from Northern Ireland to a chanting workshop in the Dominican Convent in west Belfast. The college chapel became a study for a day as experts passed on advice on how best to perform the ancient melodies.

Principal tutor Donal McCrisken said Gregorian chant was an excellent medium for vocal training. "You have to sing it very purely - very accurately," said Mr. McCrisken. "You have to have an absolute ear for unanimity.[And Ireland isn't known for it's unanimity ;} ] It has to be exactly together."

Mr. McCrisken, who is head of music at St Malachy's College in Belfast, said the music's origins lay in the ancient chants of the Jewish church which were adopted by the early Christian church.

Gregory the Great

Its first major champion was the 6th century Pope Gregory I, known as Gregory the Great. Nearly 1,400 years later, Gregorian chant is again being encouraged by Gregory's successor, Pope Benedict XVI. He described the music as "a great tradition." Mr. McCrisken said the music wasn't simply a relic of the past.

"It continues to have a major effect," he said. "Composers writing liturgical music today - the great composers like John Tavener, Henryk Gorecki and Arvo Part - they are all referring back to that purity of line that you find in Gregorian chant."

The Gregorian workshop was arranged by Schola Gregoriana, a choir formed two years ago by Queen's University students who share a love of the music and its history. One of the choir founders, Eamonn Manning, welcomed Pope Benedict's encouragement for the music. "It has always been advocated in the documents of the church," he said. "We're lucky Pope Benedict has recently highlighted the significance of this music. "He's known for having a great love of very good music and he sees it as being very important for the liturgy in the modern age."

Eamonn Manning is certain the music will become more popular with modern congregations. He said: "When it's taught well and promoted properly, with sensitivity to parish clergy and parish choirs, it can really take off and be extremely beautiful."

Donal McCrisken agreed that, to the musical novice, Gregorian chant has a strange appearance, with square notes and only four lines instead of the usual five. "It is strange-looking music if you haven't grown up with it," he said. "But it's not as difficult to sing as some people imagine. If you haven't grown up with it, an introduction as we've had in this workshop goes a long way towards removing the mysteries."

Photo is of a piece of 17th century vellum/parchment I have. It is two-sided so I believe it came from a large song book (the size is about 2' x 3'). It has some damage, but since it has the Asperges, my favorite part of the Mass, I like it. If anyone knows how I can authenticate this and either get it restored or preserved, please let me know!

24 November 2007

It must've been something she ate

My daughter had had enough eating and visiting with the family this Thanksgiving. This is how I found her minutes after we got home. Just laying there silent and motionless. Kinda reminds me of the Wicked Witch of the East. She survived all the attention (she's the only grand daughter) and made it through the whole day without a nap...although she fell asleep in the car on the way home.

It was a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving this year.

I arrived at hubby's aunt's house to find she had bought a pumpkin pie. Why, oh why, when she knew I was bringing pies, that's plural -- pies -- more than one. Actually, I brought three pies! And, she had made a Weight Watchers Key Lime Pie with some combination of green jello and yogurt. Except for the turkey, almost all the side items were Weight Watchers recipes. I think we are losing touch with reality when Thanksgiving comes down to this.

Drama continued with the ladies all convening at the dining room table to discuss the future of the name drawing for Christmas. This year is cast in stone with everyone already in possession of the name of the person they have to buy a gift for, but NEXT year the practice is stopped. Kiboshed. That's fine by me, but the machinations everyone went through to get there were unbelievable. This discussion was followed by the even more tooth-pulling treatise on who should host Christmas this year. Sturm und drang doesn't quite cover this one. I am leaving out a great deal of the story line here just to spare you the agony. Next year I just want someone to vote my proxy and leave me out of all this.

And, I actually got up to go shopping on Black Friday. I am becoming resigned that this is my fate for the next dozen or so years while the kids are still "little." I really wanted to resist going. I really, REALLY did. But, most of the things I had planned to get for the kids were on sale, big time on sale, and I couldn't let my distaste for the day trump my frugal side, especially when being frugal isn't an option any more. I didn't set the alarm or anything. Instead, I planned to just wake up and then go to Toys R Us. I got to the store around 7am, which is two hours after it opened, and it was still jam packed!!

My nephews are into Ben 10, which I had never heard of before, but my brother had to buy them some Ben 10 stuff when he was here to take back. It is lucky that Ben 10 doesn't seem to be too big in the US, because I got these huge figures for less than $5 each when they are typically $20. Only problem was I then had to send them to Switzerland this morning. (Word to the wise...I send my gifts to Europe typically before Thanksgiving. But, I didn't get to do that this year because I thought I could have my brother take gifts back with him, but he poo pooed all my ideas and left without any presents for my nephews. The customs/Swiss Post folks in Switzerland are the WORST. The post office here says it will take 7-10 days for the package to make it to its destination in Switzerland. For some reason, every year without fail, these guys have to open the box and unwrap every gift just to make sure I'm not somehow plotting to over throw their government or something. This process takes them a whole month. I don't know if my presents will make it to Switzerland on time this year!!! No soup for you!! Or fondue!!)

Sorry to rant and ramble. The last few days have been just plain weird and I am influenced beyond my ability to resist any longer :)

Hope you all had a wonderful and uneventful Thanksgiving!!

21 November 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Have a blessed, safe and happy Thanksgiving. I will be busy cooking today. We aren't having Thanksgiving here, but are going to my husband's aunt's about 15 minutes away. I am bringing three pies, so have some baking to do. My son is going to help me, so it should be a good time...messy, but good!

One of my French silk pie recipes is at the end (from a very old recipe in the St. Paul Pioneer Press). Not at all like the French silk pies you get in the store that are more like chocolate cream, this is very light and I'm always asked to bring it. Of course, I'm bringing a pumpkin pie too!

This year, aside from being thankful for my family, friends, health and faith, I am thankful for our Holy Father. He's doing a great job.

(sent to me by a friend)

1. Wake up
Decide to have a good day.
'This is the day the Lord hath made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.'
Psalms 118:24

2. Dress Up
The best way to dress up is to put on a smile.
A smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks.
'The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.
Man looks at outward appearance,
but the Lord looks at the heart.'
I Samuel 16:7

3. Shut Up
Say nice things and learn to listen.
God gave us two ears and one mouth,
so He must have meant for us to do twice as much listening as talking.
'He who guards his lips guards his soul.'
Proverbs 13:3

4. Stand Up
...for what you believe in.
Stand for something or you will fall for anything.
'Let us not be weary in doing good; for at the proper time,
we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good...'
Galatians 6:9-10

5. Look Up
...to the Lord.
'I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me'.
Philippians 4:13

6. Reach Up
...for something higher.
'Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and lean not unto your own understanding.
In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.'
Proverbs 3:5-6

7. Lift Up
...your Prayers.
'Do not worry about anything; instead
Philippians 4:6


Arboretum Tea Room French Silk Pie
¼ cup melted butter
1 cup crushed vanilla wafers, about 30
½ cup pecans, finely chopped

3 squares unsweetened chocolate
1 cup butter
1 ½ cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla

For crust, combine ¼ cup melted butter, vanilla wafers and pecans. Reserve ¼ cup of mixture. Press remaining mixture firmly and evenly against the bottom and sides of greased 9-inch pie pan. Bake crust and reserved crumbs (place in a small pan) in 350-degree oven for 15 minutes. Watch carefully; crumbs burn easily.

For filling, melt chocolate and let cool. Cream 1 cup butter and sugar. Add cooled chocolate. Add eggs to filling, 1 at a time and beating 5 minutes after each addition. Stir in vanilla.

Turn into prepared pie shell. Sprinkle top of pie with reserved toasted crumbs. Freeze until ready to serve. Top with dollops of whipped cream, if desired.

20 November 2007

A dose of humility

My cousin has been sending this around. It's an IQ test that the Japanese use during interviews. Glad I'm not looking for a job. This is a tough one. Even when I had figured it out (with a hint or two) and went to do it again, I kept stumbling.

Here's a link that I found since the version I got was in Excel. All you need to know is this:

You should be able to complete this task within 15 minutes. Not hours, not days, but minutes! Push the round blue button on the bottom right on the link to start.

The rules:

0. Everybody has to cross the river.
1. Only 2 people on the raft at a time.
2. The father cannot stay with any of the daughters without their mother’s presence (or he will beat them...charming idea isn't it?).
3. The mother cannot stay with any of the sons without their father’s presence (or she will beat them).
4. The thief (striped shirt) cannot stay with any family member if the Policeman is not there.
5. Only the Father, the Mother and the Policeman know how to operate the raft.
6. To move the people click on them. To move the raft click on the red handles.

The answer is in the combox...but don't peek!

Don't beat the children or I'll turn you in.

Ready, set, GO!

Forest or the trees

From the time I was a child, I've prayed the Hail Mary and Our Father. Through the years I've added some more prayers to my repertoire and increased my devotions to Our Lady and other saints. I put my Guardian Angel to work a lot. But, I've come realize something.

Where's Jesus in the mix?

When I say prayers directed toward God, it typically means in my mind, God the Father. I ask the intercession of Our Lady and the saints A LOT. I pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy more than I say the Rosary. Prior to having kids, I tried to make it to Mass on First Fridays. At Adoration I typically pray the chaplet and the rosary, but don't specifically focus on Jesus. Jesus seems to be kind of distant.

Maybe this is because I have always been taught to go to Jesus through Mary. Petition the saints with my prayers because they can bend the ear of our Lord better than I can. I don't know if others have experienced this. Is it a result of my Catholic upbringing or is it just me?

I think that will be my goal this Christmas season. Develop a better relationship with Jesus. Place Him where he should be and not bother Him with my whining or petitions.


May Thy Heart dwell always in our hearts!
May Thy Blood ever flow in the veins of our souls!
O sun of our hearts, Thou givest life to all things by the rays of Thy goodness!
I will not go until Thy Heart has strengthened me, O Lord Jesus!
May the Heart of Jesus be the King of my heart!
Blessed be God. Amen.

St. Francis de Sales

19 November 2007

So many shrines, so little time

Lest you think that my brother's visit was all bad, I have to spill the beans. I am planning to visit him next spring. Plans are all VERY tentative, but I'm already excited. I think it will be just me and my son. Finances are tight, so I'm lucky we are even talking about me going :) I did find 250 Euro and about 25 Swiss Francs in my coin tin left over from prior trips, so that will take a little of the sting out of things.

And, my reformed Type A personality is suffering a relapse.

I've already gotten out my books on places to go, things to do and people to see. I'm torn between so many things since I have genealogical interests that pull in one direction and religious interests that pull in another! I probably have three dozen "must sees" on my short list. Before I present my ideas to my brother, I think I need to scrub this a bit.

I think my top place to go is Mont Saint Michel. My husband and I had bought tickets to Normandy to see MSM and the Normandy beaches, but we were supposed to leave days after 9/11 and all the airports were closed. We were allowed either a refund or to reschedule. We rescheduled...to the Scottish Highlands (and England and Wales). Figured the chances of terrorists finding us in the Highlands were pretty slim. A few years later we had a trip to Germany (and Belgium/Netherlands) planned to visit the small town where my German branch was from. That time I was too sick with hyperemesis gravida to travel. Hopefully, this time I will actually get off the ground.

Home base is Geneva, which puts me on the eastern border of central France. Not a bad place to be in the scheme of things. I have two books, Catholic Shrines of Western Europe and Europe's Monastery and Convent Guesthouses, both by Kevin J. Wright. If I was travelling with just my husband, I would love to stay at some monasteries, but my travelling companions this time aren't religious/Catholic and there may be three young boys in tow. Not something I would inflict on anyone, especially the religious! So, I'll cross off staying at any monasteries. But, that leaves some great shrines.

My plan is to drive from Geneva to Mont Saint Michel, which requires driving completely across the country from east to west. Here are the places I have on my list to see, driving from east to west. If anyone has been to these places, I would love to hear your stories and suggestions or any "must do's" while at the shrines or in the area. It seems that some of these shrines don't have webpages, so any advice on them would be very helpful. Since my travelling companions will probably go nuts with visiting all these shrines, any advice on which ones are "must sees" and which ones can wait for another trip?

Ars-sur-Formans - St. John Vianney

Doray-le-Monial - Sacred Heart of Jesus & St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

Nevers - St. Bernadette Soubirous

Chartres and Versailles (possibly Disneyland Paris)

Pontmain - Our Lady of Pontmain

Mont Saint Michel

Normandy beaches and cemeteries

Lisieux - St. Therese of Lisieux

I also plan to visit Essen in northern Germany, near the North Sea and the Netherlands where my German branch is from, and to the small town in Canton Graubunden where my Swiss family is from.

In Geneva, I'm only about an hour or two from La Salette and the Monastère de la Grande Chartreuse so would consider driving here for a day trip by myself. Has anyone been to these places to give me any insight? Especially Monastère de la Grande Chartreuse. My book says you can't see much so don't bother going, but I don't think this is the case. Some areas are off limits, but not the entire monastery. Is it worth the drive?

By the way, I only plan to stay for a maximum of two weeks...

18 November 2007

Flyover country

Top Ten list of Reasons why Pope Benedict isn't visiting Minnesota

10. Doesn't want to pay for a non-resident fishing license.
9. Local bloggers will critique his attire.
8. The Minnesota Vikings - he's not a miracle worker.
7. Heard Rocky and Bullwinkle had retired to Florida.
6. Lactose intolerant.
5. Doesn't want to arm wrestle Archbishop Tutu to see who gets to speak at St. Thomas.
4. Target doesn't carry Versace.
3. Too many Scandinavians in one place make him stutter.
2. The Chancery doesn't stock Jägermeister.
1. Hotdish sounds like a near occasion of sin.

17 November 2007

Gospel of St. Matthew Bible Study - Lesson 9

Father Echert's lecture on Chapter 9 of Matthew's gospel. According to the notes from the study, this chapter "juxtaposes more stories of miraculous healings with unprecedented forgiveness. Jesus, the great physician, not only demonstrates that he has the power to heal but also that he can forgive sins. The two are closely linked, and the Messiah has come to heal both body and soul. Today, the Church is called to continue Jesus' ministry through the two powerful sacraments of healing -- Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick."

Father said that physical suffering, even death, should be associated as a condition of sin, not always a personal sin, but how sin in the world affects us all.

Earlier, in the Old Testament and in the Old Covenant, God dealt with people more as infants. They had a strict structure to live in and punishment was more immediate. But, you can't punish adult children the same way. Job and the blind man in John's gospel (chapter 9) are two instances where their afflictions are not brought about by their own sins, but sin in general. These are examples of how we can be instruments of grace for others by our faith, example and bearing suffering well.

The paralytic man in Matthew 9, is cured spiritually and physically. He was given temporal and eternal life. The man could've been cured just by Jesus willing it, but Jesus shows He has power to heal physically and forgive sins by letting the people see the man was healed by the actions/words of Jesus, it was a sign.

"Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven." And behold some of the scribes said to themselves, "This man is blaspheming." But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, "Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise and walk." (Matt 9:2-5) Here we see Jesus showing he is God by forgiving sin which was usually the cause of physical ailments back then. Here we see Jesus is the great physician, curing body and soul. The scribes consider this blasphemy because God alone can forgive sin and they didn't recognize God was right before their eyes. Father also mentioned that blasphemy was a serious charge and without the Roman constraints on the Jews of the time, Jesus could've been put to death.

Jesus then tells the paralytic man to take up his bed, which is part of witnessing. Then it says, "And he rose and went home." This shows the effect of the miracle and the man's obedience. This demonstration is a sign for the weak of faith to ponder that here is someone who worked a miracle.

We then see Jesus calling Matthew the tax collector. Four other men immediately followed Jesus in this way: James, John, Peter and Andrew. These men had been disciples of John the Baptist and had been informed who Jesus was so when Jesus called them, it wasn't as if they were seeing Him for the first time.

Our group leader in our small group discussion asked us if we thought it was hard for Matthew to leave his job and follow Jesus. Once again, I'm the contrarian. They all thought it was easy, primarily because Matthew and others were followers of John the Baptist and knew who Jesus was, and also they said because Matthew was a tax collector, which was a despised profession, that he was more than happy to leave it. My thoughts are that Jesus called weak men, men just like the rest of us. They didn't have a supernatural knowledge of what was to happen; it was all an unknown. Anyone leaving behind a good job has anxiety about the new one because you don't know what lies ahead. Just because it was a despised profession doesn't mean he wanted to leave it, just look at lawyers! If Jesus came to earth today and asked us to follow him, would you be willing to drop everything and go? I don't think it is easy as one might think...and we have 2000 years of Church teaching and discovery behind us to provide a more informed perspective. These guys had to trust in Jesus a great deal and had NO idea what was in store for them.

However, JPII had this to say on the matter:
Drawn by the Master's invitation to follow him, without any delay Matthew "rose and followed him." From that moment there was a radical change in his life, in his way of thinking and acting. He became a disciple of Jesus and announced that Gospel, written by him, in which the Christian is presented above all as a follower of Christ, one who is aware of the commitments that come to him with acceptance of the Godpel and who carries them out with courage to the point of heroism, because to follow Christ is more important than any other duty.
Angelus, September 23, 1981

During this time, many Jews had two names, especially those who worked in professions where they would have contact with Gentiles, as was the case of Matthew. He was called Levi, but also Matthew, which probably came about because of his professional duties as a tax collector.

Father talked briefly about how faith is a supernatural grace. We can have the misguided assent of the will to believe in false religions which shows that this grace can be lost. If we reject even one of the dogmatic teachings of the Church, we forfeit that grace. There are some matters where you can disagree, but not when it comes to something divinely revealed since it comes from the Lawgiver, who is Himself divine.

It is also laughable to see the Pharisees accuse Jesus of being the "prince of demons" when he casts out demons. The Pharisees couldn't deny what Jesus had done, much to their chagrin, so they just attacking Jesus with these goofy claims. They don't seem to see that it would be contradictory to the devil's plan to cast out demons. Why would the devil be in opposition to himself?

We see Jesus eating with tax collectors and sinners, intending to draw them out of their sin. His message was not, "Go ahead and keep on doing what you are doing." God's love is NOT unconditional. This idea is NOT biblical. A mortal sin cuts you off from God, period. Game over.

Jesus says, "I desire mercy, and not sacrifice." Father said this is what some use as a "proof text." Jesus didn't so away with sacrifice from the Old Covenant nor suspend the practice, since they continued to fast and abstain and then He institutes the non-bloody sacrifice of the Eucharist. This is a problem with Hebrew and shows the limitations of the language. The Hebrew language could not show preference, only contrast. Jesus is merely showing His PREFERENCE for mercy over sacrifice, not that sacrifice should be done away with. Other examples are God loving Jacob and despising Esau or how we are to love God and hate our parents (God PREFERRED Jacob, God PREFERS we love Him more than our parents). The limitations of the language cloud the real meaning. If our motivations are not from charity and mercy then they are of no value.

The images of wine in this chapter explain what the Pharisees were attempting to do by judging Jesus by the Old Covenant and those ritual laws. Jesus is the New Covenant and they must conform to Him, not the other way around. "And no one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; if it is, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved." Matt 9:16-17

Father then finished the last two minutes with talking about the "Matthew before Mark" argument. He talked specifically about the pericope (par ick opee) in verses 18-26. Typically, the shorter gospel is the earlier one. Over time (if you are a subsequent gospel writer), you add things. Mark has more details in many of his pericopes, and Father emphasized that these details are things that someone like Matthew, as a detailed tax collector, would not have left out. Mark is more detailed in his gospel than Matthew (eg: the age of the girl is known in Mark's gospel as 12, it is not mentioned in Matthew). Matthew tells us LESS, Mark tells us MORE.


No class next week because of Thanksgiving, but see you back here in two weeks, same bat time, same bat channel, for Chapter 10.

14 November 2007

In the cupboard

I have St. Joseph in my cupboard. He's been there since we bought our house. I didn't really notice St. Joseph when we first moved in since it was a rough time. My father-in-law had had a stroke, and long-story-short, my parents-in-law were planning to move in with us. Between the time we made the offer on the house and the time we closed, I found out that my father was terminally ill with cancer and we brought him "home" too to our new house to take care of him in his last days.

In between taking care of my dad and father-in-law, I unpacked boxes. That was when I found St. Joseph tucked tightly into the corner of the hutch in my dining room. I was too busy to think much about it, but pulled him out of the corner so he at least had a view through the glass. It wasn't until after my father had passed away and I really got a chance to focus on the unpacking when I realized the people we bought the house from had put St. Joseph there, hoping he would help them sell the house.

I had heard about people buying St. Joseph statues or figurines and nefariously burying poor St. Joseph upside down in their yard. There are kits, like in the picture above, that give secretly coded instructions on when and where to bury him depending on the price you want for your house, how many bedrooms are in the house, the time of year, how soon you want to sell, the type of soil you have, etc.

I'm kidding...I think.

According to one website, the practice of doing this started with St. Teresa of Avila:
The tradition of burying St. Joseph in the earth began hundreds of years ago during the time when St.Teresa of Avila was opening Carmelite Convents throughout Europe. Taking only the bare necessities and their statue of St. Joseph, her nuns would set out in search of land or buildings suitable for a new convent. St. Teresa of Avila always encouraged her nuns to pray to St. Joseph.

It is believed that, on one particular search, the nuns found a piece of property perfect for their needs. Having no money, the nuns immediately started to petition St. Joseph for the funds needed to buy the property. In the meantime, having no place to stay, the nuns decided to bury their statue of St. Joseph on the property so he would not get stolen or broken.

After the nuns prayed to St. Joseph, someone purchased the land and built them a convent. When it was finished, the sisters dug up the statue and built a beautiful shrine inside in honor of St. Joseph.

Of course, it says this should all be done tactfully, with "the emphasis properly placed on our belief in the communion of the Saints and our desire to do all things according to the will of God."

Ahem. I certainly don't have a problem asking St. Joseph to intercede in the sale of a home and the kits claim it is all part of a prayerful devotion, but burying him upside down with requirements placed on where and when, seems to fall into the superstitious realm. A weird realm, anyway. Supposedly, you bury him upside down because it offends him and it's not the proper honor or respect he deserves, so to help reclaim his dignity, St. Joseph assists you in quickly selling your house so you will go and dig him up and end his embarrassment.

Doesn't sound like a good idea to me. If I were St. Joseph and you did this to me, I can't say I'd be too eager to help you. I might even create some mischief, but then I'm no saint.

The people that owned our home may have bought this homeselling kit (since this is the exact plastic St. Joseph that's in my cupboard), but at least they didn't bury St. Joseph in the yard. I've fondly left St. Joseph in the cupboard as kind of the patron of our home. I don't know what he thinks about the dark accommodations in the cupboard corner. I just hope he has a sense of humor.

13 November 2007


My brother made it here. Things are fine...so far. Think we are going to do some shopping today since he has a list of things he needs to bring back to Switzerland with him. Also need to go to the Post Office and mail half of his junk back to Switzerland since he has more bags than Imelda Marcos.

I don't care for shopping. Hauling my kids around to stores where they want all the stuff but can't have any is also not on my list of fun things.

Don't know how much blogging I will be able to do since I'm entertaining him nearly every minute. Thought he was going to get a rental car and stay in a hotel, but silly me, he's sleeping on my couch. Don't know for certain how long he plans to stay...it's up in the air.

Even though it's only Tuesday, I don't have time to do much and stumbled on another quiz. These things are like near occasions of sin for me. I must resist.

After my last quiz on "What Cross are You" and I got the Celtic cross and the St. Brigid's cross, I had to conclude that I couldn't get away from my Irish heritage. Now there's this...

Your Inner European is Irish!

Sprited and boisterous!
You drink everyone under the table.

Since my drink of choice is Coke, I don't know how many folks will be under the table. Maybe it's the caffeine that makes me spirited and boisterous. Spirited, maybe. Boisterous, nah.

12 November 2007

Under the pew

Hubby, me and the kids with my parents-in-law and my brother

Yesterday, Sunday, was kind of hit or miss with the kids. We went out to lunch because we had some problems with one of our radiators (we think we had an air lock). So, hubby drained the system and wanted to let it sit awhile before refilling and we all went out to Famous Dave's. As it was getting close to nap time for both kids, I was concerned about taking them out in public. Bad things happen close to nap time.

But, our late lunch went really well. Kids were well behaved and, for the most part, ate their meals. The little boy at the table next to us was a different story. He was running around the restaurant, screaming, climbing on tables, not sitting down to eat, etc. Just plain ol' bad behavior. The day I let my kids do this is the day I have completely lost my mind. The day I try to rationalize with toddlers as the other mother did by saying, "Can't you see how nicely those other children are sitting and eating their dinner?" is the day I will allow myself to be committed.

The thing with kids though, I have come to discover, is it is harder than it looks. Way harder. A gazillion times harder. I'm pretty strict, but this parenting thing is all new to me. My parents had my brother and me later in life. I wasn't ever around children. I grew up with pretty strict controls on my behavior and figured if I ever had kids, I would do the same. Then God decided it would be funny to see just how well I could do with the idealized notions I had.

Well, I think my performance is somewhere in the middle. There are huge families at Mass whose children are junior saints. Even the littlest ones stand still, don't talk, don't climb under or over the pews and never incite their siblings. Then there are others whose children are always taken out and spend Mass standing in the back. There are others whose children should be taken out but the parents don't seem to notice.

Thank you to all the people who compliment us when the kids are good. I've had many people compliment us when we are out to dinner, but the occasions are less and less frequent. As the kids have gotten older, they have gotten a little less well-behaved. They are still expected to stay in their seats and eat their dinner, however. Crying and whining doesn't get them what they want. It makes me want to hide in my coat, but it doesn't get them what they want. Not giving in is supposed to curtail this type of behavior...right? Once on the way to our cabin we stopped at Culver's. My daughter started screaming and screaming. An older gentleman turned around and gave us "The Glare." Darling daughter was already in the process of being taken out by my husband. The older man was just finishing his dinner and left just as my husband was standing outside with my daughter. I knew he was going to say something. However, the man complimented us on disciplining our children. He said far too many parents just let their kids cause a scene and never take corrective action.

It was nice to have someone notice we were trying our best, but this man must not have children. They are far harder to corral than I ever imagined.

In Mass, my kids aren't allowed to stand on the pew or put their feet on the pew. Since my son is the oldest, I was harder on him. He had to stand and face forward, no sitting on the kneeler, no goofing around. Then I saw some other really good parents at Mass letting their youngest ones move around a bit and I thought I was being a bit too hard. My kids have to be quiet and not monkeys, but they can move around a little. My son is old enough to know how to behave, but my two year-old can sit on the kneeler as long as she is quiet. She's a handful, that one. Screams and cries much more than my son.

One time in Mass I thought my son wasn't particularly well-behaved. That means he has some privileges taken away and other assorted penalties. That was until the older lady behind us made a point to stop us after Mass and let us know how well-behaved our children were. Needless to say, she saved my son from any loss of privileges that day. I had to stop and reassess if my standards were too high or if she was just used to children who were worse-behaved and mine were stellar by comparison.

Rarely has my decision-making been influenced by the opinions of others. I don't think you could say I'm a lemming, but what this woman said made me stop and pause: is it me or society?

Listening to Dr. Ray on Relevant Radio makes me realize and reassures me that it's good to have rules, order and discipline. In my less-than-perfect world, things aren't as cut-and-dried as that. Kids will be kids, which is OK as long as they aren't driving me and those around me completely batty.

In the four years I have been a mom, I have learned two things: there is no manual and God has a sense of humor. Oh, and I've also learned that the same could be said of marriage.

My brother e-mailed me yesterday to let me know he is going to be here this morning. So, blogging may be hit-or-miss during the week.

10 November 2007

Thanks veterans

Omaha Beach as seen from the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial

I come from a long line of military men...and recently women. My 83 year-old aunt served twice, in the Navy in WWII and the Air Force in Korea, and a great-aunt served as a Navy nurse in the Philippines. In doing my family genealogy, I have found that in nearly every war since the Revolution, there has been someone in my family tree serving in the military.

My father and all my uncles (except one) served. Some in WWII, some Korea and one in Vietnam.

My brother, an Army warrant officer, has served once in the Middle East and will likely be going back now that his recent training is over.

My husband's family has also served. My husband's grandfather was in the Merchant Marine in WWII and his great-uncle was a member of Merrill's Marauders.


If there must be trouble let it be in my day, that my child may have peace.
-Thomas Paine

09 November 2007

Planes, trains and diets

It's Frivolous Friday and I don't have much time, so here are some jokes. Sorry, my lawyering friends :)

A law and engineering convention was being held. On the train to the convention, there were both lawyers and engineers. Each of the lawyers had his/her own train ticket. But the engineers had only ONE ticket for all of them. The lawyers started laughing and snickering. The engineers ignored the laughter.

Then, one of the engineers said, "Here comes the conductor". All of the engineers piled into the bathroom. The lawyers were puzzled. The conductor came aboard and collected tickets from all the lawyers. He went to the bathroom, knocked on the door, and said, "Tickets, please". An engineer stuck their only ticket under the door. The conductor took the ticket and left. A few minutes later, the engineers emerged from the bathroom. The lawyers felt really stupid.

On the way back from the convention, the group of lawyers had ONE ticket for their group. They started snickering at the engineers, who had NO tickets amongst them.

When the engineer lookout shouted, "Conductor coming!", all the engineers again piled into a bathroom. All of the lawyers went into another bathroom. Then, before the conductor came on board, one of the engineers left the bathroom, knocked on the other bathroom, and said, "Tickets, please."

A lawyer and an engineer are sitting next to each other on a long flight from Los Angeles to New York. The lawyer leans over to the engineer and asks if he would like to play a fun game. The engineer just wants to take a nap, so he politely declines and rolls over to the window to catch a few winks.

The lawyer persists and explains that the game is real easy and a lotta fun. He explains, "I ask you a question, and if you don’t know the answer, you pay me $5. Then you ask me a question, and if I don’t know the answer, I pay you $5."

Again the engineer politely declines and tries to get to sleep.

The lawyer, now somewhat agitated, says "Ok, if you don’t know the answer, you pay me $5, and if I don’t know the answer, I’ll pay you $50!"

This catches the engineer’s attention, and he sees no end to this torment unless he plays, so he agrees to the game. The lawyer asks the first question: "What is the distance from the Earth to the moon?"

The engineer doesn’t say a word, but simply reaches into his wallet, pulls out a five-dollar bill, and hands it to the lawyer. Now, it’s the engineer’s turn. He asks the lawyer, "What goes up a hill with three legs, and comes down on four?"

The lawyer looks up at him with a puzzled look. He takes out his laptop computer and searches all of his references. He taps into the Airphone with the modem and searches the net and the library of Congress. Frustrated, he sends e-mail to his coworkers - all to no avail. After about an hour, he wakes the engineer and hands him $50. The engineer politely takes the $50 and turns away to try to get back to sleep.

The lawyer, more than a little miffed, shakes the engineer and asks, "Well, so what’s the answer?" Without a word, the engineer reaches into his wallet, hands the lawyer $5, and turns away to get back to sleep.

As we all know, it takes 1 calorie to heat 1 gram of water 1 degree centigrade. Translated into meaningful terms, this means that if you eat a very cold dessert (generally consisting of water in large part), the natural processes which raise the consumed dessert to body temperature during the digestive cycle literally sucks the calories out of the only available source, your body fat.

For example, a dessert served and eaten at near 0 degrees C (32.2 deg. F) will in a short time be raised to the normal body temperature of 37 degrees C (98.6 deg. F). For each gram of dessert eaten, that process takes approximately 37 calories as stated above. The average dessert portion is 6 oz, or 168 grams. Therefore, by operation of thermodynamic law, 6,216 calories (1 cal./gm/deg. x 37 deg. x 168 gms) are extracted from body fat as the dessert's temperature is normalized.

Allowing for the 1,200 latent calories in the dessert, the net calorie loss is approximately 5,000 calories.

Obviously, the more cold dessert you eat, the better off you are and the faster you will lose weight, if that is your goal.

This process works equally well when drinking very cold beer in frosted glasses. Each ounce of beer contains 16 latent calories, but extracts 1,036 calories (6,216 cal. per 6 oz. portion) in the temperature normalizing process. Thus the net calorie loss per ounce of beer is 1,020 calories. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to calculate that 12,240 calories (12 oz. x 1,020 cal./oz.) are extracted from the body in the process of drinking a can of beer.

Frozen desserts, e.g., ice cream, are even more beneficial, since it takes 83 cal./gm to melt them (i.e., raise them to 0 deg. C) and an additional 37 cal./gm to further raise them to body temperature. The results here are really remarkable, and it beats running hands down.

Unfortunately, for those who eat pizza as an excuse to drink beer, pizza (loaded with latent calories and served above body temperature) induces an opposite effect. But, thankfully, as the astute reader should have already reasoned, the obvious solution is to drink a lot of beer with pizza and follow up immediately with large bowls of ice cream.

We could all be thin if we were to adhere religiously to a pizza, beer, and ice cream diet.

08 November 2007

Gospel of St. Matthew Bible Study - Lesson 8

Picking up with Chapter 8. We are finally through with the Sermon on the Mount, which happens to be my favorite part of the bible. I have am antique bible on a stand in my sun porch that is perpetually open to the Sermon on the Mount.

Prefigurement fulfilled
Father started out this chapter by talking about how Jesus is the fulfillment of several prototypes we see in the Old Testament. He mentioned David, Jonah, Moses, etc., but really emphasized Moses. Moses brought the Israelites through the desert while feeding on manna, and then crossed the Red Sea (prefiguring baptism) and then got the commandments on Mount Sinai before "getting on with it." Here in Matthew's gospel, Jesus is the manna who was baptized in the Jordan and then gave some commandments that perfect (and supercede in a sense) the old before "getting on with it."

Getting on with it refers to showing and living what the covenant is about. Moses had been the lawgiver and now Jesus is. Jesus is establishing his kingdom on earth and displacing the kingdom of Satan. Father has mentioned this several times. He said we have been in bondage since the sin of Adam. Jesus is now going to start displacing Satan, although this will not be complete until the end of the world.

Leprosy - an outward sign
The first thing Jesus does to "get on with it" is cure a leper. "When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him; and behold a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, "Lord, if you will, you can make me clean." And he stretched out his hand and touched him, saying,"I will; be clean." And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus said to him, "See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to the people." (Matthew 8:1-4) Leprosy was often a punishment for sin (eg: Moses' sister was afflicted with it when she was griping about Moses being in charge). All suffering is a consequence of (original) sin. Leprosy is a symbol of sin because what leprosy does to the body, sin does to the soul, bringing about its eventual death. It makes you ritually unpure and excluded from the community, much like sin makes you unworthy to receive Christ in the sacraments and mortal sin cuts you off from God.

Jesus could've just willed the leprosy to be gone, but instead He touches the man, which would make Him ritually unpure. But, this shows that the time for separation from uncleanliness is over, the "flow of power is reversed" and Jesus is not made unclean but His holiness is purified.

Jesus then tells the man to say nothing about the miracle and to present himself to the priest. Back then, only a priest could declare someone "cured" of leprosy and then begin the process to readmit them back to the community and ritual purity. Father mentioned that Jesus' curing the leprosy could be seen as a form of baptism.

Messianic secret
Why did Jesus tell the man to say nothing? This "Messianic secret" has several possible explanations. Jesus could be asking for discretion and teaching humility. Possibly Jesus didn't want to be known for what He had done more than for His message. If word got out about the miracle, He may have a hard time preaching because of large crowds. Jesus doesn't want a miracle based faith. And, he wanted the man to follow current protocol and present himself to a priest to be examined so that he could officially be declared clean and readmitted to society.

The Centurian
If the centurian isn't one of your favorite people from the bible, he should be! The centurian was a Roman citizen and military man. Father said that there was no separation of Church and State back then and all citizens were expected to make sacrifices to idols and even the emperor to show their loyalty and "patriotism." A soldier was even held to a higher standard because of his profession. Here we see the humility and great faith of this supposed pagan. "Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed." (Matthew 8:8). To which Jesus responds, "Truly, I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such faith." The Church uses this in the liturgy with slight modifications. And, the English translation is in the process of being "corrected" at the behest of the Vatican to be a closer translation of the Latin: "Domine, non sum dignus ut inters sub tectum meum, sed tantum dic verbo, et sanabiur anima mea." Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my SOUL will be healed.

Not everyone is going to the party
Jesus uses the example of the centurian to show that those who may assume they are saved are not and that the kingdom is open to all, Gentiles and Jews alike. "I tell you, many come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth." (Matthew 8:11-12)

At Peter's house - married priests
Here we see Jesus healing Peter's Mother-in-law who is lying sick with a fever. It is a symbol of resurrection. Father then went on to briefly discuss married priests. He said that it is widely held that all the apostles were married except St. John. Father said that St. John may have been the beloved apostle because his heart was undivided and he was filled with celibate love. The Church, at this stage, was just being established and this was a transitional period from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. The apostles either left their families or had their wives travelling with them as celibate friends. Even back then, priests were expected to refrain from relations when they were performing their priestly duties, which was more sporadic than it is today. Priests are expected to give all their time, energy and attention to their vocation, which is MUCH more demanding today than it was at the outset. The congregation (and Church at large) becomes the priest's family and his duty is to shepherd his flock, serve and administer the sacraments to them. This is how the priestly vocation reflects the covenant.

Demonic possession
Father mentioned that demonic possessions were much more prevalent then because we are radically better protected in the New Covenant than in the Old Covenant. It still happens though.

Burying the dead
Even though burying the dead is a corporal work of mercy, Jesus tells his disciples to, "Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead." (Matthew 8:22) This is an example of the radical new nature of what is needed to follow Jesus. Follow Him for eternal life or be spiritually dead. Previously, Elijah allows Elisha to first tend to family matters before following him (1 Kings 19:19-21), which shows that the New Covenant has higher demands than the Old.

Son of Man
Jesus refers to Himself as the Son of Man, showing that He is the Messiah. Others, even the possessed, refer to Him as the Son of God.

Healing the sick
Why doesn't Jesus heal all of the sick in the world? From the Catechism 1505:
Moved by so much suffering Christ not only allows himself to be touched by the sick, but he makes their miseries his own: "He took our infirmities and bore our diseases." But he did not heal all the sick. His healings were signs of the coming of the Kingdom of God. They announced a more radical healing: the victory over sin and death through his Passover. On the cross Christ took upon himself the whole weight of evil and took away the "sin of the world," of which illness is only a consequence. By his passion and death on the cross Christ has given a new meaning to suffering: it can henceforth configure us to him and unite us with his redemptive Passion. The healings that Jesus does perform foreshadow how we will be healed and made perfect.

The storm
There are many parallels between the disciples being in the boat on the stormy sea and the story of Jonah: both in a storm in a boat, both found asleep, there are frightened companions in the boat who ask God for deliverance, Jonah and Jesus bring about a great calm and the companions marvel at what happened. Jesus is the new Jonah who has been resurrected back to life (three days in the belly of the whale, three days of the death and resurrection.

07 November 2007

These are a few of my favorite things

With all the fires in CA and conversations with my cousin's wife about what items she took when they were evacuated from their home, I thought about what items I would take. I'm pretty sentimental, so here's my list.

1. My mother's sterling silver rosary that was given to her on her First Communion. (The picture below doesn't do it justice, it is art nouveau and very beautiful).
2. The picture my father drew of my mother.
3. My grandmother's gold and diamond necklace that was given to her by my grandfather.
4. The two keepsake boxes of childhood things of both my children.
5. The small child's chair my father made.
6. My Irish great-grandfather's bible.
7. The cuckoo clock I got at an auction that my father carved pieces for and fixed and the clock my father made for me with the "Love Dad" plaque inside.
8. My mother's monogrammed nursing cape from her college graduation.
9. The flag that covered my father's coffin.
10. My genealogy binder(s) and photo albums.

I was evacuated once when I lived in Seattle. It had rained so much that they were concerned a reservoir nearby would break. I didn't have most of these items then, but I do remember grabbing the cuckoo clock off the wall :)

An updated picture

My mom, as drawn by my father

06 November 2007

Red herring in the fish bone diagram

My first class at the University of Washington was Physical Chemistry. As the professor walked into our darkened lecture hall, I opened my notebook eager to start taking notes. But, I wasn't prepared for what came next. The first thing the professor wrote on the overhead consisted of a series of triple integrals. Even for me, someone who relished math, this was intimidating...terrifying. In the next 45 minutes, the prof took us at light speed into quantum mechanics and never looked back.

In my course review at the end of the year, I suggested to him that maybe he could save the triple integrals until the second day because it was like being hit with a 2x4 on the first day.

Recently, the University of St. Thomas, my other alma mater, has been having a time of it, primarily because of the mishandling of the Archbishop Tutu talk. The publicity on this completely eclipsed the decision of the university to discontinue its current endeavors into building a medical school focusing on primary care.

Freshman english, however, is still a topic bubbling in the local community.

The university has come under fire for wanting to require The Handmaid's Tale to be used in their freshman english classes. On the surface, I'm not opposed to using the book, but that's not the whole story. (Cathy had a good post on the topic and I couldn't resist chiming in.)

Many folks who have attended St. Kate's or St. Thomas are either dead set against their kids going to either school (and I'm not lumping them in together saying that the problems are across the board) or have some serious reservations about letting their kids go there. This begs the question: why? Why should a parent be concerned about sending their kid to a Catholic university.

When I attended St. Thomas, I got the lecture, probably during orientation, that all the bits and pieces of what we were to learn in the liberal arts curriculum at St. Thomas would one day meld together. Upon completion of four years of coursework, "all would become clear." The whole would become greater than the sum of its parts.

St. Thomas identifies itself as a "Catholic" university. The coursework "parts" are not supposed to be islands unto themselves, turning a blind eye on what is learned in other departments. The classes are to build on each other and reinforce each other. One might assume that the foundation that all of this is to be built on centers on Catholicism, but if this were true, why would there be a reservation to letting your child attend here?

As much as I am critical of St. Thomas, I will have to say I never learned any bad theology...at least not from the theology department. I had to take two philosophy classes and three theology classes. As it was explained to me in freshman orientation, these two subjects were the core of the liberal arts education. Everything else followed from them.

So, here's part of the problem. I had six quarters of calculus and advanced math behind me when I met up against the triple integrals in P-Chem. It still knocked the air out of me. As a freshman entering St. Thomas, is the typical freshman ready for The Handmaid's Tale? Certainly, some students will be. But, I can say I wasn't. Nowadays, many students who attend St. Thomas are of other faiths or are poorly catechised like I was. While it's not the goal of St. Thomas to indoctrinate students, it is its goal to provide a good liberal arts education.

Father Corapi has said that you can't really understand theology without first learning philosophy. That philosophy gives you the "arms" to grasp theology. I don't know if this is strictly true, but the further I have gotten in school, the more I appreciate the foundational work I have to build on.

To dump The Handmaid's Tale into the lap of a freshman their first semester might not be the best course of action. I would argue that the book, or other books like it, should be part of the curriculum, but students need to have a basis to draw from to be able to critique the book as a social-political commentary instead of seeing it as just a story.

I also wonder about the context in which this book will be read. If the course was taught by a person who has a axe to grind or personal agenda, instead of a person who is no more or less Catholic than the Pope, then there is a problem. Back when I was attending St. Thomas, the theology and philosophy departments were orthodox, but venture out into another department and you had better be able to see what was coming at you.

There needs to be an integration of Catholic thought in the coursework. Students shouldn't view the philosophy and theology courses as just something they need to get through, something unrelated to their major, or even unrelated to their lives. It should be the foundation that their coursework builds on and the measure by which they see and critique the world around them.

04 November 2007

Omigosh! It was him!!

I am still wishing I had made it to Mozart's Requiem on Friday night for All Souls, but after several nights of not getting much sleep and being in constant motion, I just didn't have the juice to go. The last Requiem I went to was 2.5 hours long. I would've been asleep in the pew.

Then I find out that Father Zuhlsdorf was at St. Agnes for the All Souls Mass.

However, all is well and I saw him this morning at the 8:30am Mass! Father Z used to be a fixture at St. Agnes, but the last time I saw him (and a hundred of his close friends) was at Monsignor Schuler's funeral. I had sent him an e-mail earlier this year with a question I had and at that time he said that he would certainly be at St. Agnes over the summer. Well, I wasn't at St. Agnes all summer and I don't think Father Z was either. (Don't go getting the impression I know Father Z, because I don't!).

Anyway, with all the upheaval at the parish in the past few years, it was nice to see him there. Kind of like old times.

And, what was his homily on, you ask?

"Let me cut to the chase. 'How have you troubled yourself to see Jesus?'"

Father Z talked about how rich we all are, every one of us. He said that Luke's gospel contained two stories of rich men. The one we had today with Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10) who, despite his wealth, inconvenienced himself by crawling up in a sycamore tree to see Jesus and was willing to give a huge portion of his wealth away. The other rich man, when told he had to give up his property and follow Jesus, went away sad. Father Z reminded us of the story about how it is it more likely that a camel can get through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter Heaven...and we are all rich. Father Z said that we should be willing to be inconvenienced to see Jesus because it will be an even bigger inconvenience to lose Heaven.

Not that far away

Communion of saints
A wonderful priest I knew used to have a very intimate relationship with his Guardian Angel. One would think, from the way this priest spoke, that his angel was a person in his home, a constant companion. Although I don't think Father saw his Guardian Angel, he did have a very close and playful relationship with his angel. It wasn't as if his angel was a nebulous idea or something far away and intangible. Father's angel was as close as you or I.

During All Souls Day, I think about how close we are to those in Purgatory and Heaven, but because of our fallen nature, we have a clouded "connection" or awareness. Many of the saints, blessed by God, seemed to have been able to "see past the veil" a bit. Some were visited by Poor Souls, others demons, others had glimpses of Jesus or Heaven. Reading about their experiences makes one realize the reality of these things and that they aren't as far removed from us as we might think.

A cold night and stormy sea
I was ten when my grandfather died. I have never known anyone as saintly in my life. He was very beloved by his family, friends and community. I think everyone saw in him something special. He lived the gospels, but also lived a very normal life right in our midst.

I remember the night he passed away. It was in the middle of winter. My dad, brother and I were in our den (how 70s is that!) playing a board game while my mother was napping on the couch in the livingroom. Suddenly, our cat started acting very strange. He sat staring very intently at a spot on the wall. Suddenly, he began to jump up at the wall, quite high up for a cat. We all just sat there watching him and wondering what he was doing. If we tried to move the cat, he came immediately back to the spot and kept jumping up at the wall. It was very odd and completely out of character for the cat.

Then, the phone rang and we heard that my grandfather had died. My father wondered if my grandfather had been allowed to "visit" his children before heading off to where he was going and the cat could tell this.

Coincidence? Maybe. I don't know how to explain it.

Another story from my family is when my father's ship was sunk in WWII. Communication was not what it is today and it could be days, even weeks to hear if a loved one was injured or killed. As the story goes, my grandparents were asleep when my grandmother woke up in a panic and rousted my grandfather to tell him that something had happened to my father. She didn't know what, but knew something terrible had happened. Days later, they got word that my father's ship had been sunk, but that my father, although slightly injured, was OK.

How did she know? Was it her Guardian Angel? My father's Guardian Angel?

When I lived in Seattle and my father was an elderly widower in MN, I was concerned about him living alone, even though he was in good health. I remember a conversation I had with him where I told him that I didn't worry too much about him because I somehow knew that if something ever happened to him, that I would know something was wrong...somehow I would just know. And, my father said he didn't doubt it for a minute. I think he had the sense that if something ever happened to me, he would know it too.

Hmph. Makes one wonder what is really going on that we can't see. But, I am also of the opinion that God has things set up this way (that we don't know all that goes on behind the scenes) for a reason. I guess we'll have to wait for God's "big reveal" at Judgment Day.

And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh together shall see, that the mouth of the Lord hath spoken. - Isaiah 40:5

An update - thanks for the prayers!

My 83 year-old aunt in CA that had colon cancer and then a stroke a short while back is doing well. Still has problems remembering names and a slight problem speaking, but she is physically, mentally and spiritually doing very well. Her husband who just had a stroke a week ago, is doing great! Initially, his hand was limp, but now all that remains is a tingling and slight weakness in two fingers. He had surgery to clear a clogged artery, but my aunt and cousins were very positive about his condition.

Their grown children who were evacuated because of the fires in CA are back home. One cousin in Crestline was VERY lucky to not lose their home. All the news was covering the San Diego fires so they didn't think the ones by Lake Arrowhead (the Grass Valley fire) were too bad. My cousin did leave work early and arrived at his house to find the fire very close. Fortunately, the planes were right overhead and dumping water (he said the planes were literally right above his house) or the neighborhood would've caught fire. My cousin's wife said that they got their RV out (which they use to live in when they have gotten evacuated in the past) and started down the road only to have fire right at the side of the road. As they left, they were pretty certain their house would be lost, but it WASN'T!!!

My 81 year-old aunt who had breast cancer and then chemo is doing better. The chemo upset her digestive tract and she ended up having a blockage that almost killed her. Goodness. Now she is much better. Her husband, who was in the hospital for unknown problems, seems to be doing better, but no word yet on what is wrong with him. I sometimes get conflicting information, so don't know if I should be optimistic or not!

My uncle who had knee replacement surgery is doing OK. I had heard that he was up and walking and doing just great, but when I visited, he was still in a good deal of pain and not up and around as much as I had heard...but still is doing well.

On a lighter note, below is a picture of my kids taming a wild beast. The beast was pretty tame and let the kids ride it. My daughter was riding around on its legs and my son was riding on its back and nearly strangling it :) The beast seemed pretty friendly and didn't mess up my bedroom too much!

Thank you everyone for the prayers! It is amazing that everyone is doing well!

02 November 2007

All Souls Day

Fort Snelling National Cemetery, Minneapolis, MN
Resting place of my parents

My 82 year-old aunt was telling me that as a child she remembers spending a good part of the day in church. They would pray six Our Fathers, Hail Marys and Glory Be's for the intentions of the Pope to receive a plenary indulgence for a soul in purgatory. Then they would run outside and touch the ground and run back in and start the prayers over again for another soul.

I usually just say a good novena.

Hubby said he'd watch the kids tonight if I wanted to attend Mozart's Requiem at St. Agnes. I'm debating...just don't know if I have enough energy to make it!

Day of Judgment, Memling Triptych, Gdansk

From the Dies Irae
Tearful that day,
on which will rise from ashes
guilty man for judgement.
So have mercy, O God, on this man.

Compassionate Lord Jesus,
grant them rest. Amen.

For my parents and all the departed in my family
V. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.
R. And may perpetual light shine upon them.
V. May the souls of the faithfully departed through the mercy of God rest in peace.
R. Amen.

01 November 2007

Our groovy ghoulies

Finally had a chance to get the pictures uploaded from last night.

Everyone had a great time. The weather wasn't too cold, so the kids and parents didn't freeze. Kids made a haul of candy. I think I ate too much candy because I woke up this morning and felt hung over...and it wasn't the Martha Stewart drink that did it either.

Gospel of St. Matthew Bible Study - Lesson 7

Lecture today was from Chapter 7 of the Gospel of St. Matthew. Continuing with the Sermon on the Mount.

Father started out mentioning that Jesus telling us not to judge transcends former covenants. Previously, Mosaic Law operated on justice and there were prescribed ways of extracting justice (eye for an eye type thing). Sometimes, in the Old Testament, a person’s sins became manifested physically, as seen with leprosy. Now, Jesus is telling us how mercy is to be applied and it goes beyond justice. Only applying justice is not enough. If God only applied justice to us, things would’ve ended with Adam and Eve, or surely at Calvary when Jesus was crucified.

Father said St. Augustine wrote about how the devil was hoping this is what would happen at Calvary, but God “turned the tables” and what the devil thought was to become our condemnation actually became our redemption. (If anyone knows where this is in St. Augustine’s writings, please let me know).

We must temper our judgment with mercy, but we must also have the Christian charity to correct those in sin. Father cited St. Paul in his Letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 5), where St. Paul was harsh on the Christian community there for not correcting, and even excluding, a fellow member who was sinning and causing scandal. It was analogous to allowing a disease to affect the entire town, “leaven leavens the entire batch.” The community risked the spread of the behavior and corruption for not rooting it out.

We are to judge from charity and not pride. Our MOTIVE is what matters. To judge from pride (hypocrisy) is wrong, but to judge out of charity is right. And, the measure we use to measure others will be used on us.

Father went on to talk about prayer. He said that if we seek, knock and pray and seemingly don’t receive and answer even if our requests are “good,” even if daily prayers don’t get answered, if we are in the state of grace, there is always a response, but it may not be what we want (even Jesus asked for the chalice to be taken from Him and it wasn’t). We need to trust that God is a perfectly loving Father who wants the best for us and will bring this about. We need to continue to pray, but also understand that we should wish for God’s will be to done since there is good being brought about whether we know it or not. This is a mystery and we will not see God’s “big reveal” until Judgment Day.

“Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Mat 7:13-14) Father stressed that Jesus wasn’t a touchy-feely guy. These are harsh words that Jesus said over and over and in many ways. Like everything else in life, there are standards and the bar to Heaven isn’t so low you can crawl over it.

“Not every one who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?” And then will I declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.” (Mat 7:21-23). Father said the people in this passage had faith. They were Christians. But, here we see another passage that talks about the heresy of faith alone. Father briefly mentioned Martin Luther and how Romans got changed to say “by faith alone” and is now being corrected in many Protestant bibles. Father said these people had faith but are not sanctified by faith alone; you need to act out on faith since even the demons have faith (but not love) and their knees are compelled to bend too. Faith alone is not enough.

From the Catechism:
162: Faith is an entirely free gift that God makes to man. We can lose this priceless gift, as St. Paul indicated to St. Timothy: "Wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting conscience, certain persons have made shipwreck of their faith." To live, grow, and persevere in the faith until the end we must nourish it with the word of God; we must beg the Lord to increase our faith; it must be "working through charity," abounding in hope, and rooted in the faith of the Church.

God condemned, it is said, a third of the angels. Angels are superior to us in many ways. Who are we to think that we are above the angels and the same fate won’t happen to us? We have been given many, many chances.

Father talked about being given the grace of faith. This grace leads us to Christ. In baptism we are joined to Christ through additional grace. We can forfeit the grace of sanctification and still retain the grace of faith. You can still believe the Catholic Church is true and correct, but be in a state of mortal sin. You can believe in God, but still not get to heaven. Faith alone is not enough, but this grace of faith is what allows people to return to the Church or convert. You can also forfeit the grace of faith. You need to move from knowing things in the intellect to having the will act on them; it needs to be an act of will, not just intellect. Knowing is one thing, doing another.

From the Catechism:
2003: Grace is first and foremost the gift of the Spirit who justifies and sanctifies us. But grace also includes the gifts that the Spirit grants us to associate us with his work, to enable us to collaborate in the salvation of others and in the growth of the Body of Christ, the Church. There are sacramental graces, gifts proper to the different sacraments. There are furthermore special graces, also called charisms after the Greek term used by St. Paul and meaning "favor," "gratuitous gift," "benefit.” Whatever their character - sometimes it is extraordinary, such as the gift of miracles or of tongues - charisms are oriented toward sanctifying grace and are intended for the common good of the Church. They are at the service of charity which builds up the Church.

2004 Among the special graces ought to be mentioned the graces of state that accompany the exercise of the responsibilities of the Christian life and of the ministries within the Church:
Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; he who teaches, in his teaching; he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who contributes, in liberality; he who gives aid, with zeal; he who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

2005 Since it belongs to the supernatural order, grace escapes our experience and cannot be known except by faith. We cannot therefore rely on our feelings or our works to conclude that we are justified and saved. However, according to the Lord's words "Thus you will know them by their fruits" - reflection on God's blessings in our life and in the lives of the saints offers us a guarantee that grace is at work in us and spurs us on to an ever greater faith and an attitude of trustful poverty.
A pleasing illustration of this attitude is found in the reply of St. Joan of Arc to a question posed as a trap by her ecclesiastical judges: "Asked if she knew that she was in God's grace, she replied: 'If I am not, may it please God to put me in it; if I am, may it please God to keep me there.'"

There is more to this chapter, but time didn’t allow Father to talk about the Golden Rule, how the Christian faith rests on the authority of the risen Christ (see CCC 651) and how the disciples were chosen to pass on His ministry (see CCC 551).

We learned in our small group that there are five parts of the Sermon on the Mount:
The Beatitudes
The Six Antitheses
Principles of Piety
Care of this World
The Way to Life

"Every one then who hears these words of mind and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock." - (Mat 7:24)

As St. James says (James 1:22-25), “be doers of the word, and not hearers only.”