30 December 2007

Some of Father Gallitzen's writings

This is the fun thing about genealogy, finding out the history and interesting nuggets that helped form and provide structure to the lives of my ancestors. Now that I have learned about my family's connection to Father Gallitzen, I had to look into some of his writings. A few letters of his were on the cause for canonization webpage and this is just a part of one. It was hard to break the letter into pieces, since his arguments build and carry through the letter, but this artificial break seemed like a reasonable stopping point. More later...

SOME HISTORY
These writings from Father Gallitzen, called the "Apostle of the Alleghenies," are from 1815. The Catholic "settlement" isolated in the Alleghenies was subjected to hostilities from nearby Protestants. Although today's definition of ecumenicism is one thing, back then Father Gallitzen was considered to be ecumenical for his willingness to dialog with Protestants, but he never gives away the farm.

GALLITZEN REPLIES TO ATTACK ON CATHOLICS

PREFACE

A SERMON preached by a Protestant Minister, on a day appointed by the government for humiliation and prayer, in order to avert from our beloved country the calamity of war, has been the occasion of the present letter.

The professed subject of his sermon on such a day was, or should have been, to excite his hearers to humility and contrition, and to a perfect union of hearts and exertions during the impending storm: but he, very likely alarmed at a much greater danger, of which nobody else but himself dreamed: alarmed I mean, and trembling for the ark of Israel likely to be carried off by those Philistines called the Roman Catholics; or alarmed, perhaps, at the very probable danger of an intended invasion from the Pope, who would, to be sure, avail himself of the confused state of the country to assist his English friends in the conquest of it, that he might by that means extend his jurisdiction; or in fine, alarmed perhaps lest our treacherous Catholics would take advantage of the times, and by forming a new gunpowder-plot, would blow up the congress-hall, state-houses, and all the protestant meeting-houses of the United States: alarmed, at least, by something or another, he suddenly forgets his subject, and putting on a grave countenance, enters the most solemn caveat against popish and heathen neighbours; cautions his hearers against their superstitions, and gives them plainly enough to understand that such popish neighbours are not to be considered their fellow citizens.

Attacks of that kind being so very common in this liberal country, I have always treated them with silent contempt. The present one, proceeding from a respectable quarter, I thought necessary to notice; and I expected that a few respectful lines, which I published in a Gazette, would have been sufficient to draw from the gentleman an apology for his uncharitable expressions. I found myself deceived in my expectation. After having waited in vain from September until some time in the winter, I made up my mind to send the gentleman the following DEFENCE OF CATHOLIC PRINCIPLES.

A DEFENCE

Dear Sir,
AFTER your unprovoked attack upon the whole body of Roman Catholics, it was expected that an apology for the same would have been considered by you as due to them. To exhibit above one hundred millions of catholics as standing upon a level with heathens; to represent the whole of them as a superstitious set, wandering in the paths of darkness, and finally to exclude the catholics of the United States from their rank of citizens, cannot be considered by you as a trifling insult. Now, sir, as a gentleman, you cannot be ignorant of the common principles of civility. As a christian, and especially as a teacher of the christian religion, you cannot be ignorant of that great precept of christian charity which our blesses Saviour declares to be the very soul of religion, on which depend the whole law and the prophets, Matt. xxii, 40. Wishing to act under the influence of those principles, I shall, according to the direction of your and my Saviour, (Matt. v, 44) return you good for evil, and pray God to bless you whilst you are persecuting and calumniating us. However, as you refuse us (what we think we are justly entitled to) an apology, I shall step forward in the name of my catholic brethren, and give you and the public an explanation of our principles, which will convince you, I trust, that we are not guilty of superstition.

If, instead of accusing us in a general manner, you had been pleased to state distinctly in what particular points we are guilty of superstition, a great deal of time would have been saved, as my defence would be confined to those particular points of attack; but now, not knowing for which particular points the attack is intended, I must be ready at all points.

In order to ascertain whether we are or not guilty of superstition, it will be necessary, in the first place, to give a distinct definition of the word superstition. Many disputes originate altogether in the misunderstanding of words, and might be entirely avoided by first agreeing about the meaning of those words.
Collet, a great divine of the Gallican church, gives the following definition of the word superstition, which you will readily grant to be correct.

Superstilio (says he) est inordinatus cultus veri vel falsi numinis -- which I thus give in plain English: Superstition is an inordinate worship of the true, or of a false divinity.

To accuse us of superstition then, is to say, that we either worship the true God in an inordinate mannor, or that we worship false Gods, or that we are guilty of both.

To which of the tenets of the catholic church does any of these three modes of superstition apply?

I reply boldly, to none: and in order to convince you and your hearers that I am justifiable in saying so, I shall give you a short sketch of our catholic principles; but do not expect to find, arrayed amongst them, those pretended catholic principles which ignorance, prejudice, and, I am apprehensive, sometimes malice and ill-will, falsely attributed to catholics. This I shall say nothing about the infallibility of the Pope, the Pope’s power to grant licenses to commit sin, or dispensations from the oath of allegiance, about the worship of saints, and many other articles falsely attributed to Roman catholics, and which (I have too much reason to believe) are industriously propagated to answer certain iniquitous purposes.

May the great God give me grace to display before your eyes, and before the eyes of the public, the beauties and perfections of the catholic church.
. . .
By the help of natural philosophy, physick, anatomy, astronomy, and other sciences, many of the beauties and perfections of nature have been discovered, which give us the most exalted idea of the power and wisdom of their Creator; many more however are, and will remain wrapt up in mystery, and are thereby the better calculated to give us some, though faint idea, of the immensity of God. . . . It was created, we believe, for the use of man during his mortal life, to afford him a comfortable and happy existence. But, sir, man is not created for this visible world alone; his body was formed of clay, and his soul, his immortal soul, is the image of God, the breath of the most high: "And the Lord God breathed into his face the breath of life, and man became a living soul" --Gen. ii, 7. We believe that the soul of man was created for everlasting happiness; and that created to the image of God. With St. Augustine we exclaim-- "Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord; and our hearts are restless until they rest in thee."

We believe that, although created to the image of God, we may defile in ourselves that image, and thus remove ourselves from our original destination. We believe that we shall only then attain the object of our destination, if we try to keep up in ourselves that image undefiled; or in other words, if we try to be, and to become more and more similar to our Creator. "Be perfect (says our Saviour) as also your heavenly Father is perfect" --Mat. v, 48. We believe, then, that in order to become ripe for Heaven, we must try to keep ourselves pure and undefiled, shew the most perfect obedience to our Creator, the most perfect submission of our heart and understanding: practice humility, chastity, justice, and above all the most perfect charity; that is, we must love God above all things, and our neighbour as ourselves. The will of God must be always the only rule of our conduct; we must love what he loves, hate what he hates, and with due proportion do as he does; consequently, we must consider sin as the greatest of all evils; and be willing to sacrifice even life itself, rather than offend our Creator by a wilful transgression of his commandments. As Almighty God is infinitely just, infinitely good to all men, even to the worst of men, so must we be strictly just and charitable to all men, even to our enemies, without distinction of believer or unbeliever, Christian or Jew, or Mahometan, or Heathen, &c. In short, sir, we believe that, in order to become saints in heaven, we must lead a holy life upon earth; and that all the external acts of religion which we practice, can never afford a substitute for a holy and virtuous life. We believe and teach from all the catholic pulpits in the world, that confidence in external acts of religion, unsupported and unaccompanied by the practice of virtue, is a most abominable presumption and real superstition.

To convince you, sir, that such is the real belief of catholics, I refer you to all the catholic catechisms, prayer-books, meditations, sermons; in short, to all the spiritual books of any kind that ever were published in any part of the catholic world. Being provided with books of that kind from almost every catholic country in Europe, I readily offer them to the inspection of any person curious to ascertain the doctrines of catholics on so important a subject, on which misrepresentation has created so many prejudices. What more common, indeed, than to bear it said that a catholic, or if you choose a papist, puts so much confidence in his priest, that it matters little to him whether he commits sin or not; for after having broken all the commandments of God, he thinks he has nothing to do but to confess his sins to the priest, and behold, from the gulph of perdition he leaps at once into paradise!

28 December 2007

My Maryland Catholics and Father Gallitzin

It's been quite some time since I worked on my family genealogy, but I got pulled back into it this Christmas. Yesterday, instead of posting about the weirdness on my dad's side of the family, I had planned to post about recent developments in adding some leaves and branches to this side. The conversations I had with my cousin and my aunt piqued my curiosity, which is easy to do when it comes to this subject, and I spent part of the day seeing if anything had been added to some genealogy websites I hadn't visited in a long time.

Sure enough, there was quite bit more on one of my British lines and one of my French lines. I was also pleased to find that one believed British progenitor was actually Irish...I say that with a devilish glint in my eye, but more work needs to be done to solidify this information to my satisfaction, since picking names off an even reputable genealogy website tends to be a good way to clutter your tree with misinformation.

I was happy to find more information on my French lines. My DeLozier branches came over fairly early and settled in Pennsylvania. I've finally found further documentation that my 5th great grandfather was a soldier during the Revolutionary War and his son was involved in the War of 1812. Now I just need to do some digging and prove this.

More interesting, in some respects, are the lives these people led when they arrived here and how they actually made a go of things, and in some cases, prospered. I have a chunk of Irish and English Catholics in Maryland very early (mid-1600s). So am learning more about Lord or Baron Baltimore/Sir George Calvert and how he had to give up his position as Secretary of State under James I because of his conversion to Catholicism (and also some other poor political moves). I found mention that some of my family came over on the ship, The Dove, that the second Baron Baltimore was on. It seems that Catholics of the day were living with a "Don't ask, don't tell" mentality back then, practicing their religion in secret or low profile, since many of the Protestants were quite hostile and feared the Papists would take over the New World for the Pope. More interesting history I'll have to read up on when I get the chance.

Prince Gallitzin Chapel House, Tomb Site, and Basilica of St. Michael the Archangel

Making some of the research difficult is the back and forth migration between Maryland and Pennsylvania. This may have to do with the constant flux between acceptance and hostility that the Maryland Catholics encountered. Many of my father's lines join up in Pennsylvania. The German, Irish and Scottish Catholics all found a common bond in their religion. I have records of my Scottish Catholic ancestors donating land and quite a bit of money to create an early church in Huntingdon County, PA. Not too far from them, I just discovered that my French 4th great grandfather mentioned Father Gallitzin in his will. I had previously been given copies of parts of the will that list all of his children and what they inherited, but for whatever reason, the part about donating money to the church was left out. I didn't even know it existed until recently. I also just came to find out that Father Gallitzin performed most of the sacraments for these ancestors and there is a cause for his canonization underway. It's an interesting story.

According to a history of Cambria County, PA, my 4th great grandfather came to Cambria county with the McGuire family mentioned below. I would like to think that the money my great-grandfather left was responsible for buying a few of the bricks in the church. The entry from his will reads: "I give and bequeath unto the Rev. Demetrius A. Galitzen or his sucessor, the sum of 50 dollars (toward building a Church at Loretto); also I give and bequeath unto the said D.A. Galitzen or his sucessor the sum of 20 dollars for Masses at his discretion."

A snippet from a PA website on Father Gallitzen:

In the late 1700s, the woods of western Pennsylvania drew men and women eager to create new lives and communities. In 1788, Captain Michael McGuire, a Maryland Catholic, purchased 12,000 acres [I believe this should read 1200 acres] from the Commonwealth near the headwaters of the Clearfield Creek, high in the Allegheny mountains in what would later become Cambria County, Pennsylvania. There he and his family carved out a small settlement, some twenty miles from the closest neighbors, where Catholics could live unmolested by the largely Scots-Irish Presbyterian, Lutheran and Reformed German population in the area. When McGuire died in 1793 he left 400 acres in trust to John Carroll, the United States’ first Catholic bishop, to attract Catholic clergy.

In 1796, Father Augustine Smith received a call to perform last rites for a Protestant woman, who lived in a place called McGuire’s Settlement, some 150 miles west of his station at Conewago, Pennsylvania. Father Smith made the trip, and became so entranced by the small, isolated village of Maryland Catholics that he decided to stay. Here, in the following decades Smith would build the first Catholic Church in Pennsylvania, west of the Alleghenies, then minister to a thriving Catholic community that he funded out of his own pocket.

The humble Father Augustine Smith was, in fact, Prince Demetrius Gallitzin. Born on December 22, 1770 into one of the oldest, wealthiest, and most illustrious families of Russia, Gallitzen was the son of Prince Demetrius, Sr., the Russian ambassador to Holland, and an intimate acquaintance of Diderot, Voltaire, d'Alembert, and other great progressive thinkers of the day. Although nominally Russian Orthodox, Gallitzin was deeply influenced by his Catholic mother, the Countess Amalie, only daughter of the then celebrated Prussian Field-Marshal von Schmettau. In 1787, the younger Demetrius Gallitzin converted to Catholicism. Educated by the best scholars of the age, he received a high commission in the Russian Army, and at the age of twenty-one, as was customary for Russian aristocrats, prepared for his trip abroad. But since travel was next to impossible in Europe after the French Revolution, it was decided the Prince should visit America. In August of 1792, he arrived at Baltimore, where he met Bishop John Carroll, the first and at the time the only Catholic bishop in the United States, and decided to enter the priesthood. In March 1795, Augustine Smith – the name that Gallitzin had assumed when he left Russia – was ordained, the first priest in history to receive all his orders in the United States of America.


Father Gallitzen, ora pro nobis.

27 December 2007

Ghosts of Christmas Past

Christmas Day was spent at hubby's brother's house up by North Branch, MN. It was a rough drive home, with the hiways covered in a few inches of slick snow and traffic moving well below the posted limits. Since I'm the one who always drives, I had the radio turned off, instructed the kids to be quiet and entrusted the lives of my family members to our Guardian Angels and just about every other saint I could putter through my stressed mind. There were cars in the ditch and no plows in sight. An hour of scrambled prayers and a few curses ended with all of us, and the kids' stash of presents, safely at home.

Shortly after returning home, I got a call from a cousin. Aside from exchanging Christmas cards, contact between us had been limited to seeing her at my wedding nearly 19 years ago and then expressing my condolences at her sister's funeral about two years ago. We've always gotten along well, it's merely that this particular branch of the family has some problems "just dealing." I often times feel like I'm standing in the middle watching all of the family chaos swirl around me.

This cousin is estranged from her seven siblings. I have no idea what she has done to get the "black sheep" treatment, but it seems there is a rule that someone on this side of the family must be the designated sheep. I try my best to keep a low profile and stay out of the fray, but by golly, this branch will come up with anything just for some drama. Back when I was pregnant with my son, a very difficult pregnancy and an even more touchy delivery, I missed my aunt and uncle's 50th wedding anniversary because I had to get into a Labor and Delivery class at the last moment, necessitating my absence at said anniversary. Sending a card was not good enough, talking to my aunt and explaining all that was going on with my having a baby and all, and why I really, REALLY, couldn't be there wasn't good enough...nothing was ever going to be good enough to get me off her DNR* list any time in the future. No matter how many good things I had ever done, this perceived slight relegated me to the "Christmas card only" pile.

And I used to wonder why my dad's response to my genealogy enquires was the stoic and firm, "You don't want to know."

I spent the day today with my dad's eldest sister. She's almost 90. It was a nice and very pleasant visit. She is living in an assisted care residence that reminds me more of a Las Vegas casino than my archaic ideas of a nursing home. There is a grand staircase, grand piano, weight rooms, barber shop, gift shop, chapel, on and on. Very swanky digs that I could get used to. We even had lunch in the "private dining room."

This aunt and I both like genealogy and I love to talk to her for her first hand reminisces of people I only know from pictures. At no time did the conversation drift into ugliness and gossip, hallmarks of this branch of the family. I felt blessed to share this time with her since she too is cut off from her few remaining siblings. I think I'm the only one of my cousins to visit her, walking quietly through the battles without picking sides. A very sad and shameful commentary on how far this branch has drifted from the days when my grandfather used to say the rosary while keeping one eye on the football game or when great-grandpa said his daily rosary out on the front porch.

Now I have to wonder what is going on with my cousin. She called to see if I knew what was bothering the aunt who is irked with me for not going to her 50th wedding anniversary. Seems my aunt sent a little note in her Christmas cards to the eight siblings in this particular family alluding to some slight she has felt from them. My cousin wanted to know if I got the letter. No, thank Heaven, I only got the obligatory card sans ascerbic letter. My cousin was sincerely upset to think that she had hurt my aunt in some way...without even knowing what she could've possibly done nor how it would've even have been possible, especially considering that my cousin is also on the "Christmas card only" list and doesn't have much contact with this aunt.

As Linda Ellerbee says, "And so it goes." It's just the story of my dad's family. If there is no dissention in the ranks, some must be created. If people aren't bickering, it must be time to stir the pot. The weird thing is, most of the pot stirrers are in their 80s (please do NOT confuse these folks with my mother's side of 80-somethings who are saints) and have been behaving this way their entire lives. If they don't get over this petty behavior, they may all go to their graves angry and estranged from each other.

Again, I hear my dad's voice loud and clear..."You don't want to know." And, admittedly, I don't want to know why they behave this way. I just want them to stop acting like idiots and get on with their lives, what precious little time of them they have left.


*Do not resuscitate

23 December 2007

Today and every day

Santa in admiration of the Christ Child

Merry Christmas


May you all be filled with peace and joy

A second look at the synoptics

Since all my library books had to go back (they were over due, it was the end of the semester and hubby wanted his grades and couldn't get them unless he returned the books), I spent a little time looking on-line at the Synoptic problem. To be honest, now that I've looked into this a bit, I cannot believe the number of theories out there and the extensive work that has gone into this issue.

I realized I had jumped into the argument in the middle and needed to take a step back and see what was happening across the entire playing field. The issue is much broader than whether "Q" exists or not. There are almost as many theories as there are letters in the alphabet.

I sent an e-mail to someone quite expert on the Fathers and then my e-mail was sent on to someone that expert considered an expert who sent this response. It appears to illuminate some of what Father Echert said (not beating you up Karen! Just sharing what I received):

The Q Hypothesis has less to do with the Fathers and far more to do with Higher-Criticism German exegetes. Essentially, the Q Hypothesis rests upon the idea that Mark wrote first, then Matthew and Luke both used Mark and this hypothetical source independent of one another. There is absolutely no manuscript evidence for Q, nor do the Fathers ever make reference to such a document. Also, Q rests upon Markan priority which is a relatively new belief and was most certainly reactionary to the dogma of Papal Infallibility being declared (since Matthew is the most obvious on this). Several NT scholars have really questioned Markan priority (of note is E.P. Sanders who calls the theory "untenable"). Extensive work has been done in the last 60 years to undo the Q hypothesis. Two books of mention would be:

Nicholas Perrin and Mark Goodacre (eds), "Questioning Q"

Mark Goodacre, "The Case Against Q."

Other authors who have really made a great case against Q are Austin Farrer, Michael Goulder, and Stephen Carlson (who is a Ph.D student at Duke).

Also - she may have heard the idea that the Gospel of Thomas is like Q, but this isn't so. "Q" has a chronology, narrative, etc, whereas G.Thomas is simply a sayings source. So - to date - there is no manuscript evidence of a document like Q, much less Q itself.


I checked into Stephen Carlson, since IMHO, many times the student is better informed than the teacher. Even if you don't agree with him, that is very true about Stephen Carlson. I stumbled across his websites and blogs and it was exactly what I needed to get an idea of all the theories out there. Some posit that Matthew wrote first, some Mark, some Luke, some have proto gospels or various versions of gospels...on and on. If you've read my Q posts and are still with me, you should really check out what Stephen Carlson has on his blog and website for some background on the subject (along with much, much more that is way over my head).

His blog can be found at Hypotyposeis

He has links to The Synoptic Problem website, which is full of information...very scholarly.

Specifically, check out the Synoptic Problem FAQ's

Here's some stuff from his FAQ's (edited here for brevity, he cites all his sources that I have removed) that give an explanation about what the heck the Synoptic Problem is anyway.

1. Basics
1.1 What is the synoptic problem?
The synoptic problem is an investigation into the existence and nature of the literary interrelationship among the first three "synoptic" gospels. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are called the synoptic gospels, in contrast with John, because they can readily be arranged in a three-column harmony called a "synopsis." Unlike John, the synoptic gospels share a great number of parallel accounts and parables, arranged in mostly the same order, and told with many of the same words. Any proposed solution to the synoptic problem, therefore, must account for these literary similarities among the synoptics, not so much in terms of their factual content, but in the selection of that content, the arrangement of the material, and wording of the parallels.

1.2 Why is the synoptic problem is important?
The synoptic problem is the cornerstone of historical critical scholarship of the gospels. As a result, one's solution to the synoptic problem will influence one's exegesis, redaction criticism, and form criticism of the gospels as well as affect the quest for the historical Jesus, early church history, and even the text of the gospels.

1.3 What kinds of solutions have been proposed for the synoptic problem?
In German scholarship on the synoptic problem, it has become customary to classify synoptic theories according to the nature of the interrelationship between the synoptic gospels. A non-documentary hypothesis (Traditionhypothese) relies on oral tradition as the explanation, in which each evangelist independently composed his gospels based on traditional accounts and, possibly, eye-witnesses.

A documentary relationship may be either direct or indirect. The hypothesis of direct dependence (Benutzunghypothese) holds that one evangelist knew and used to the gospel of another. One example of direct dependence is the traditional Augustinian Hypothesis, which holds that Matthew was first, followed by Mark who used Matthew, and then by Luke who used both Matthew and Mark. Indirect dependence (e.g. Urevangeliumhypothese) posits that at least two of the evangelists have used a common written source.

Some solutions are hybrids. For example, the Fragmentary Hypothesis (Diegesentheorie) proposes that the common wording of the synoptics is due to indirect dependence on several smaller documents but their common order is due to an oral tradition (Schleiermacher 1832). As another example, the Two Source Hypothesis (Zweiquellenhypothese) calls for direct dependence of Matthew and Luke upon Mark for the "triple tradition" but indirect dependence upon a hypothetical written source "Q" for the "double tradition." (Weisse 1838).

1.4 But first, is there a synoptic problem?
Properly defined, the answer is "yes." This question, however, has recently been asked in the title of a provocative and controversial book by Eta Linnemann (1992) who faults many textbooks for assuming that the interrelationship among the synoptic gospels is documentary rather than oral before establishing that proposition.

1.5 So, is there a documentary interrelationship among the synoptic gospels?
Although a few scholars at various times have supported a largely oral solution. A strong consensus among scholars has developed that there is indeed a documentary interrelationship between and among each of the synoptic gospels. There are five main, cumulative reasons for this conclusion:

1. Verbatim agreement. It is rare for two independent reporters of the same event to share more than a few words in common, but the synoptic gospels often feature a substantial number of agreements in their exact words. For example, in one passage about John the Baptist, Matthew and Luke agree for 61 out of 63 Greek words of a presumably Aramaic speech. Generally, the verbatim agreement between Matthew, Mark, and Luke runs about 50% of the words, but, by contrast, their agreement with John in parallel episodes falls to about 10%.

2. Extensive agreement in order, especially in which the arrangement of material is not strictly chronological but topical or exhibiting some other creativity in presentation. In these cases, it is difficult to attribute the non-chronological but topical narration to independent reporting. For example, Matthew and Mark relate the death of John the Baptist as a non-chronological flashback in the same place in their narrative. As another example, the synoptics agree in the order in which certain parables and miracles are related in an arrangement that is probably intended to be topical.

3. Substantially similar selection of material, when that selection features some amount of creative, editorial choice. Jesus did and said many things, so any account of his ministry must involve some editorial judgment in what to include and what to leave out. The synoptic gospels, for instance, relate many of the same miracles, but these miracles hardly overlap with the ones related by John.

4. Presence of editorial comments and other redactional material in the synoptics that are not necessitated by a mere telling of historical fact. For example, both Matthew and Mark feature an identical aside to the reader ("let the reader understand") in the synoptic apocalypse.

5. A consistent literary pattern between the three documents that establishes Mark as the "middle term" connecting Matthew and Luke. Specifically, agreements between Matthew and Luke against Mark are consistently much less prevalent than agreements against Matthew or Luke in arrangement and wording. We would expect for independently composed documents to exhibit no such pattern.

Check his blog out for much more FAQs and links to just about anything related to this topic.

21 December 2007

Book worm

Karen at Gem of the Ocean had this going and I thought I would do it too, even though I am pretty literary-challenged.

1. One book that changed your life.
I haven’t read a book that has profoundly impacted my life, but there are some that have stuck with me. Most anything by Charles Dickens, especially Tale of Two Cities and of course, The Christmas Carol. Also, The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton.

2. One book that you've read more than once.
Catcher in the Rye

3. One book that you'd want on a desert island.
A survival book
The Bible
A photo album

4. One book that made you laugh.
Anything and everything by P.J. O’Rourke

5. One book that made you cry.
I can’t say I’ve ever read a book that made me cry. When I was a child, I never read for pleasure, so didn’t encounter Diary of Anne Frank, Little House, Anne of the Green Gables, etc. As an adult, it wasn’t until recently that I ever read much that wasn’t a text book, since there were a LOT of text books I had to read. Reading was more of a chore than a pleasure. When I was pregnant with my son, I started to read some mysteries and more recently started reading some theological/religious books.

6. One book that you wish had been written.
Experiences of a Soul on his Journey through the After Life, (Ma Beck already mentioned Our Lady’s Diary, which would easily be the book I’d wish had been written, but since that’s been taken...the non-fiction version, not like Dante's Purgatory.)

7. One book that you wish had never been written.
Any romance novel. My mom used to read these mind-numbers, but I’ve never read one – ever. I would rather commit hari-kari than read one of these things.

8. One book that you're currently reading.
How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization, by Thomas E. Woods, Jr., Ph.D. A recommendation by Ma Beck. Very, very good. Maybe this book should be the freshman English selection at UST instead of Handmaid’s Tale.

9. One book you've been meaning to read.
T is for Trespass by Sue Grafton. I’ve read the rest of the series, A-S, and am dying to read the latest.

Tagging anyone who's read the Dick and Jane series.

Blessings

Adrienne at Adrienne's Catholic Corner has blessed me. Thanks, Adrienne! That was very kind. Below is what this is all about, taken from the original author's blog...with a few edits.
____________________________________

I hope that it becomes a means of blessing that you will enjoy bestowing upon others. My hope is that this becomes like the traditional tag game we all play on our blogs from time to time, except that the recipient can only tag three people and that the purpose of this exercise is to see how far this can go and how many people we can bless in the blogosphere.

In other words, rather than being a me me me meme, it’s actually all about someone else, which I suspect for most of us, will make a refreshing change.

It’d be great if we could stretch it all around the world, it would be like joining hands around the earth’s circumference, only electronically! But hey, that may be a little ambitious!

It’s going to be a slow game.

And that’s okay.

If all it encourages us to do is to spend five minutes in prayer for someone else and to brighten their day by letting them know that they touch our hearts and minds and souls, then isn’t it worth it even if it only reaches the end of the next bus stop?

I reckon so.

So how does it work?

While it is my wish to bless all who read this blog, for the purposes of starting this little endeavour it is necessary that I ‘bless’ 3 blogfriends, who may in turn ‘bless’ 3 blogfriends.

Let’s use a simple format, and let’s make it even simpler by suggesting that the recipient simply copies and pastes the following indented section when they become the recipient of a bloggin blessing themselves, as follows…

+++

The idea… it’s a game of tag with a difference, rather than looking inwardly, we look outside ourselves and bless, praise and pray for one blog friend. By participating in this endeavour we not only make the recipient of the blessing feel valued and appreciated, but we are having some fun too. We’re going to see how far the bloggin’ blessings can travel around the world and how many people can be blessed! Recipients of a bloggin’ blessing may upload the above image to their sidebar if they choose to. If you recieve a bloggin’ blessin’ please leave a comment on this thread here so that we can rejoice in just how many blessings have been sent around the world!


May God bless:
Vincenzo, for his kindness, great sense of humor and for creating my blog header
Sanctus Belle, for having a wonderful blog that inspires and informs
Archangel's Advocate, an occasional commenter here, for having a great sense of humor...for a software weenie (again, that's a term of endearment!)
(I had to pick some guys since how often do they get flowers!)

A Prayer for Vincenzo, Sanctus Belle and Archangel's Advocate:

May the blessing of almighty God, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, come down upon you and remain with you forever. Amen.

+++

and that’s it, nearly…

So, all these three have have to do is to;

a) Bless 3 blog buddies each.
b) Include the ‘God Bless you’ image in their post.
c) Explain briefly why they are blessing the people they are blessing.
d) Pray/include in the post the prayer for the recipients of the blessing.
e) The recipient/sender of a blessing should type in the com box of Deb's original post that a blessing has been sent to them so we can keep track of how many blessings are being given. For easy reference a link to this post will make it into Deb's sidebar.

Sounds a bit confusing, I know. But it could be fun, we’ll soon see!

Thanks for playing along!

The larger ‘God Bless you’ image can also be sent as an E-Card from Deb's Credo Christian E-Cards website.

God Bless you!

20 December 2007

Dam

View of the ice dam on our roof (as viewed from our upstairs window, the strip of snow near the top is the boulevard, then the sidewalk, then our roof). Our house is 80+ years old and obviously lacks some insulation. You can see some of the shingles in the middle of the picture where my hubby hacked away some of the ice. It's about 3-4" thick. It's supposed to get up to 35 degrees tomorrow and this side of the roof faces south, so maybe it will melt nicely and go away.

From the fitness handbook

New Age lessons from our friendly CINO university

I just had to share...

Now that the semester is over, hubby showed me the pièce de résistance from one of his classes: EQ - Fitness Handbook, 150 Practices for Daily Living.

Starting with the first practice:
1.1 Immediate Engagement -- Intensity
Practice 1
Practice Presence -- Notice NOW
Stop several times a day to be fully present with the moment. Notice your thoughts, feelings, and wants. Notice the sounds, smells, and touch of the world around you.

Notice the
* room or place where you are located and the objects around you
* world around you if you are outside
* level and source of light
* air you are breathing. Is it fresh? Is it moving?
* sounds around you. What do you hear?
* smells around you. What is the source of any smells?
* color around you and how the color feels to you
* texture and density of what is touching your body. Is it hard? Soft? Firm? Does it feel good?

Be fully present without judgment, just appreciating the life within and around you. This will become easier with practice and will bring you peace and renewal.


Notice to Marianne Williamson, someone is stealing your thunder. However, I'm sure there is an exercise to deal with hostile feelings.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's lesson, here's a snippet:

Practice 2
Notice your Body...Body awareness keeps you present in the NOW
To stay present in everyday life, it helps to be deeply rooted within yourself; otherwise, the mind, which has incredible momentum, will drag you along like a wild river.

It means to inhabit your body fully.

To always have some of your attention in the inner energy field of your body. To feel your body from within, so to speak, it anchors you in the NOW.
_____________________
Sing it Ozzy...

Crazy, but that's how it goes
Millions of people living as foes
Maybe it's not to late
To learn how to love
And forget how to hate

Mental wounds not healing
Life's a bitter shame
I'm going off the rails on a crazy train

I've listened to preachers
I've listened to fools
I've watched all the dropouts
Who make their own rules
One person conditioned to rule and control
The media sells it and you have the role

19 December 2007

Going home

Since I’m a genealogy buff, I spend a lot of time in court houses, archives, libraries, churches and cemeteries. Ever since I was a child, I’ve been interested in finding out the “who, what, why, where and when” in my family. A family tree that an aunt created hung on my closet door for years. I was fascinated by the names and even more, the places they had come from. I wanted to know the stories of my ancestors.

My father was clearly proud of his German ancestry, and claimed he was predominately of German descent. Despite his obvious pride, he knew little of his family heritage and no one in the family could tell me where the immigrant ancestor had been from, except to nebulously say, “Germany.” This was one of the most challenging branches to track because of the lack of any information, but that may be because the family tried to shed its German appearance during the two world wars. The surname became Americanized and the children began to learn English. By my father’s generation, their German customs had largely been abandoned and only my grandfather spoke German, and that was limited to exchanges with his siblings.

This same scenario holds true for most of my other branches. I have some English, Irish and Scottish branches that may never be tracked back. My father’s grandmother came over relatively late from Ireland (after the famine) and no one knows where in Ireland she was from. This great-grandmother of mine seems to have never spoken about her family as her death certificate was blank in many places. Queries of my grandmother and her siblings about their mother went unanswered. No one knew anything about her.

The family belonged to the same parish in Minneapolis for years, Holy Rosary, being some of the earliest parishioners. Back around 1900, I suspect the parish was quite vibrant, filled with a smattering of immigrants. These parishioners were blue collar workers who found employment in the city. My great-grandfather was a well-digger and most of his sons, at least for a time, followed him into this trade.

Sanctuary of Holy Rosary, 1905

Today, Holy Rosary sits in rough inner-city neighborhood. I’m sure the area would be unrecognizable to the generations of my family that used to live there. Trying to get an idea of what their lives were like back then is harder with the ever-changing and constantly-growing city than with other branches of my family who lived out in the country.

So many churches within the cities are much different than what they once were. Time has brought about progress and change. St. Ambrose in St. Paul used to be the thriving heart of an Italian neighborhood. Not too long ago, the Archdiocese closed the church and sold it to a Baptist congregation. St. Ambrose was then reincarnated out in the suburbs, with only the name of the great saint to hint at its Italian ancestry.

Back in Minneapolis, I have relatives with large Catholic families that have provided the church with several religious. The families used to attend St. Stephen’s, not too far from Holy Rosary. This parish has seen change, but much of it is in its theology, becoming one of the most liberal parishes in the city.

Oddly, the churches of my forefathers I have visited in other countries have remained largely intact. Granted, most of these parishes are not in the big cities, but in tiny towns. In talking with one elderly Irish relative I visited, the parish he belongs to has remained the same for centuries. However, the whole of Ireland is changing and it’s only a matter of time before this parish feels the effects. The beautiful cathedral in the city, St. Brendan’s, is a work of art. But while the structure remains the same, the soul of the parish is changing.

The church my Swiss ancestors attended remains almost exactly as it was when it was built in the 1600s. The area is in a remote valley in the Alps and the people there clung tightly to their Catholic faith and resisted the Protestant changes brought about by Zwingli and those of his era. Life there hasn’t changed much, but industry is moving in. The small town is blessed with a natural spring that was recently purchased by Coca Cola. A ski resort and spa there are also quite popular. I am glad I had a chance to see the town before a great deal of change entered.

Now that I have located where they are from, way up by Ostfriesland, I hope to get to the parish my father’s German ancestors attended and some distant family still remain. The parish is nestled in a small farming community, but I’m not sure what to expect. Germany has seen many changes in the nearly 200 years since my ancestors left. Catholicism in Europe has seen many changes. If I get to make a stop there this spring, I’m eager to see what I will find.

17 December 2007

I survived the office Christmas party...

only to get home and find I've been tagged for this meme!

Saturday night we attended hubby's Christmas party. I never liked these things even when they were my own company's Christmas party. There were ten of us at a table which consisted of a program manager and a bunch of software weenies (that's a term of endearment). One guy was the controls manager and the other was the software manager...a distinction I don't really get since their jobs overlap so much...but then hubby reminds me what he does is very, very involved so they need two groups. Ho hum. Seems the controls engineers spec things out and are responsible for the hardware, while the software guys, well, are responsible for the software...giving life to the hardware.

They were talking about one of their cabinets that was in a nuclear facility that caught fire and they just let it burn and I remarked that it was odd they didn't have fire suppression in the cabinet. Hubby reminded me that it wasn't a chemical cabinet (like some those I've worked with, specifically nitric acid cabinets), it was just electrical. Um, yeah, and a fire in a nuclear facility isn't any less disturbing! And now that I think about it, if the cabinet was on fire, why didn't the room's fire suppression turn on? They do have room fire suppression, don't they?

The things you talk about at Christmas parties.

And, management made a point of blowing smoke about how wonderful everything and everyone is. Why can't they just let folks alone on this one day of the year to eat, drink and be merry without interjecting themselves into it? Ah, I'm starting to sound a bit cranky.

Which is a good segue into the meme.

Dear, sweet, and sometimes cranky, Cathy of Alex tagged me with this meme. It's requires a bit of work and, for me, it's a little challenging since I don't have the wealth of stellar posts that some do (check out Cathy's for some great posts). I'm supposed to pick my top ten favorite posts. It never said they had to be insightful...

So, here is my list in no particular order:

1. Buridan's ass
2. What's in a name? (The National Catholic Register even liked this one)
3. Admonish the sinner
4. Brother's keeper (The house is STILL empty)
5. Door-to-door evangelization
6. From Moses to Vatican II experiences with the Charismatic Renewal
7. I didn't sign up for this Mommy saga
8. Pig Personality Profile just some fun
9. Gospel of St. Matthew Bible Study notes there are now 12 lessons posted
10. Encounters at that farpoint of the continuum just cuz I find this topic interesting

I tag anyone who clicked on any of these links.

14 December 2007

T'aint buttered popcorn, Padre

Hearing nuns' confessions is like being stoned to death with popcorn.
- Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Well, the following cartoon is an example of a confession of a seemingly sweet ol' lady as drawn by my dear, sweet and twisted father. When I lived in Seattle, my dad would write me letters (even though I talked to him at least twice a week) and often times drew some little picture. This time it was an entire cartoon.

I can't say I've ever been to confession when anything like this happened, but there was that one time...

(Please take it in the spirit 'twas meant. Don't get yer knickers in a twist. And for all you non-Catlicks, IT'S A JOKE!!)





The end.




Requiest in pace, papa.

Vincenzo doth have a blog

Paint shopper to the stars, Vincenzo, has finally copped to having a blog.

Go visit him and spread some cheer at Sancte Pater!

St. Matthew is my home boy

Thus spake Father Echert, another Quatheist.

A few months ago on one of my bible study postings on the gospel of St. Matthew, Karen at Gemoftheocean took exception to Father Echert's claim that St. Matthew's gospel was the earliest. She made some good points as to why she felt St. Mark was the earliest of the gospels. A discussion on the priority (earliest gospel) of Matthew or Mark began.

I had never heard of any debate about which gospel was the earliest before I took the bible study on the gospel of St. Matthew. Interesting discussion. After Karen made some comments on my blog, I read a little bit on the subject, but eventually wrote to Father Echert to ask for his thoughts since we don't have any time in bible study to ask questions (there really should be a period for questions!).

For some prior posts on the topic, go here for the Quatheist post where I discuss my position in a little more detail and discuss the "Q" document,
and here for the original post where the issue was discussed.


This is not an area I'm well versed in, but I really have a hard time believing in a document called "Q." Now, I find Father Echert doesn't believe in it either. (I know Karen hasn't been feeling well lately, so hope this doesn't make her blow a gasket!) I wish Father Echert could spend a few hours lecturing on this and we could ask questions. At this stage, from the bits I have read and from listening to Father Echert, I agree with him...especially about "Q." I might be in the minority maintaining this position, but I don't think St. Peter is going to give me a quiz on the topic "if" I make it to the pearly gates and kick me out if I'm wrong.

However, reading Father's comments about "Protestant interpretors who are biased against ancient tradition in general" really made sense. The more I have looked into this topic, the murkier everything became about who the authors of the gospels really were, who their companions were that might've helped write the gospels, if the each of the gospels were written by more than one person, problems attributing the gospels to the author, suppositions on many, MANY, things. While it is good to get an answer on these topics, I thought this subject, IMHO, was a quagmire that only led me away from belief in the gospels, their authors and authenticity and early church fathers and documents instead of reinforcing, as Father says, "solid ancient testimony of the early Church."

I really couldn't discount the weight of the early church fathers on this subject and just don't believe in "Q," which wasn't hypothesized until quite recently and just seems too incredible to me. (Sorry, Karen!)

Father Echert's response to my query on EWTN is posted below.
______________________________________

I have several reasons for dismissing the so-called "Q" view:

1. It contradicts solid ancient testimony of the early Church

2. There is no such document as "Q" nor anything resembling "Q" (a collection of sayings of Jesus)

3. "Q" is the construct of modern Protestant interpretors who are biased against ancient tradition in general

4. One of the arguments for Markan priority (being earliest) is that it is shorter--based upon a modern principal that shorter is earlier. Yet a careful examination of the Gospels reveals that often Matthew has a shorter version of a particular pericope (event) than Mark, which would suggest that his is the earlier Gospel

Modern thinking scholars tend to reject most or all of ancient tradition regarding the identity of the Evangelists, in part because they favor late dating, beyond the period in which the traditional Evangelists would have written. Why would the Church wait until the death of most of the Apostles to insure a written Gospel, and why would the Church allow pseudonyms to be tagged to them? In fact, the early Church was very insistent that these were apostolic writings, either by Apostles themselves or those who had direct apostolic testimony, such as Luke and Mark.

God bless, Monica

Father Echert

13 December 2007

St. Matthew Bible Study - Lesson 12

This is the last bible study for the year. We won't be picking up again until January 10. LOTS of stuff in this chapter. Sorry it's so long...I was trying to be brief and succinct...honest.

Overall tidbits about the chapter
The chapter is full of Old Testament references and prefigurements. We see the pride of the Pharisees growing to a fever pitch. They are not just blind to whom Jesus is, but are willfully overlooking all that Jesus does right in their midst that shows He is the Son of God. Throughout the chapter, Jesus continues to reference various people and places and shows how He is the fulfillment – He is greater – than all these things and explicitly state that HE IS GOD. Jesus mentions David and draws parallels to him (more later), mentions the temple and says, “I tell you, something greater than the temple is here.” He goes on to talk about the Sabbath and says, “For the Son of man is lord of the Sabbath.” Jesus also refers to Jonah and draws parallels to Jonah. Solomon too and says, “…something greater than Solomon is here.” The Pharisees were well versed in the Old Testament and would know what Jesus is saying when He shows that he is of the line of David (the New David), that he is greater than the temple…He IS the temple, He is greater than the Sabbath because He is God who created the Sabbath, He is the New Jonah and greater than Solomon who built the temple. He worked miracles before their eyes and they still didn’t get it.

Profaning the Sabbath
Father Echert mentioned that the word Sabbath come from the Hebrew word SABBAT, which means “rest.” The Sabbath was from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. The chapter starts out with the Pharisees accusing Jesus’ disciples, who were hungry, of “harvesting” grain in violation of the Sabbath, which stated you couldn’t do menial labor.

The disciples weren’t harvesting, but merely plucking grain to satisfy their hunger. This was not a violation of The Law since you are allowed to pluck grain to eat, you just can’t use a sickle (tools) or gather more than you need (place it in a basket). You could pluck grain for immediate nourishment. And, it wasn’t stealing as Father mentioned, since back then farmers were required to grow some of their crops for the hungry and when they harvested they had to leave some of their crops in the field for just this purpose. (The Pharisees claim they are violating Exodus 34:21, that forbids harvesting on the Sabbath, but Deuteronomy 23:25 distinguishes between plucking grain and harvesting it.)

Jesus replies to the Pharisees, drawing parallels between Himself and David, that David ate on the Sabbath when he was hungry. In fact, David ate the bread of the Presence (The Bread of the Presence, or showbread, that was placed daily in the holy place of the Temple, reminded them that God was their provider and sustainer, and they lived constantly in his presence. The bread of the Presence is described in Leviticus 24:5-9, “Take fine flour and bake it into 12 loaves; each loaf is to be made with four quarts. Arrange them in two rows, six to a row, on the pure [gold] table before the Lord. Place pure frankincense near each row, so that it may serve as a memorial portion for the bread and a fire offering to the Lord. The bread is to be set out before the Lord every Sabbath day as a perpetual covenant obligation on the part of the Israelites. It belongs to Aaron and his sons, who are to eat it in a holy place, for it is the holiest portion for him from the fire offerings to the Lord; this is a permanent rule.”)

From our study answers it says:
Jesus refutes that accusation of the Pharisees that his disciples are breaking Sabbath law:
1. by reminding his listeners of the example of King David eating consecrated bread
2. by citing the law concerning priests who don’t profane the Sabbath
3. by explaining the correct understanding of compassion and mercy
4. by testifying that He Himself is “lord of the Sabbath.”

1 Samuel 21:1-6 explains that King David and his men were considered holy and able to receive the bread of the Presence because they had kept themselves sexually pure (Father said this is another example of that there always was a period of celibacy required in the priesthood.) Just as King David and his men were hungry and seeking something to eat while on an expedition, so Jesus and his disciples also are on a mission and seeking something to eat. Just as King David and his men kept themselves pure for their mission, Jesus and his disciples are pure.

Lord of the Sabbath
In Matthew 12:6-8, Jesus says to the faithless Pharisees, “I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. And if you had known what this means, “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,” you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is lord of the sabbath.” The Pharisees would’ve known what Jesus is talking about since this term, Son of Man, comes from the book of Daniel. In our notes it mentions that in Jewish tradition, God alone is Lord, and He alone is lord of the Sabbath. By claiming to be Son of man and lord of the Sabbath, Jesus continues to equate Himself with God, the one who gives Sabbath rest to mankind.

Jesus isn’t being disrespectful to the temple. From the Catechism (586):
Far from having been hostile to the Temple, where he gave the essential part of his teaching, Jesus was willing to pay the Temple-tax, associating with him Peter, whom he had just made the foundation of his future Church. He even identified himself with the Temple by presenting himself as God’s definitive dwelling-place among men. Therefore his being put to bodily death presaged the destruction of the Temple, which would manifest the dawning of a new age in the history of salvation: “The hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.”

Desires mercy and not sacrifice
Father Echert said that Jesus is not criticizing sacrifice, but said that if you make sacrifices without love or the right intentions, they are just hollow actions and are worthless. No one receives merit from a sacrifice made in the state of mortal sin. Father said that this isn’t a case of either mercy OR sacrifice, but through mercy/love/compassion, your sacrifice has merit.

And, Father Echert made a very profound point on this topic. Father said that our Catholic faith has always had sacrifices. The Old Testament is full of sacrifices. However, Protestants DO NOT have this in their worship. They have removed this either in part or completely from their worship and removed the idea of acts (some of which could be considered sacrifices) from what is required.

This idea of mercy and not sacrifice goes back to what is said in Hosea 6:6, “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” From the Catechism (2100):
Outward sacrifice, to be genuine, must be the expression of spiritual sacrifice: "The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit…" The prophets of the Old Covenant often denounced sacrifices that were not from the heart or not coupled with love of neighbor. Jesus recalls the words of the prophet Hosea: "I desire mercy, and not sacrifice." The only perfect sacrifice is the one that Christ offered on the cross as a total offering to the Father's love and for our salvation. By uniting ourselves with his sacrifice we can make our lives a sacrifice to God.

The withered hand
Father mentioned that the laws allowed you to save the life of an animal on the Sabbath, so why would curing a man of an ailment on the Sabbath be a violation? From Matthew 12:9-12, “Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, they asked him, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?" He said to them, "If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath." Here Jesus is again showing them the correct interpretation of mercy and compassion and showing that it is lawful to do good works on the Sabbath.

Father also mentioned that the earthly Sabbath prefigures the heavenly one where God will give us all rest from our labor and we will perpetually be in God’s presence. The Sabbath as made for man, not man for the Sabbath. This is a huge reason to rest on the Sabbath (check out the apparitions and message of La Salette). Father also mentioned that the Pharisees had made the Sabbath such a burden to the common Jews that they made it more of a chore than what it really was intended to be.

Backward Beelzebul
Once again, as in prior chapters of Matthew, we see the Pharisees accusing Jesus of casting out demons, since Jesus must be the “prince of demons.” From Matthew 12:25-28, “Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? And if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” Father Echert said that Jesus is just using logic to refute them. The Pharisees cannot deny what Jesus is doing so they accuse Him of being demonic. But, this is silly because why would Satan drive himself out? Why would anyone dispossess a territory once you’ve claimed it?

Prefiguring of Jonah
In Matthew 12:40 we see Jesus referring to Himself as the New Jonah, “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.” Jesus is showing that Jonah spent three days and three nights in the belly of the whale and how it prefigures His own passion, death and resurrection. The “sign” of Jonah is the resurrection.

Blasphemy

We learned in the study that since the Church teaches that there are no limits on the mercy of God, how is this unforgivable sin explained in Church teaching? From Matthew 12:31, “And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”

From the Catechism (1864), it says:
"Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven." There are no limits to the mercy of God, but anyone who deliberately refuses to accept his mercy by repenting, rejects the forgiveness of his sins and the salvation offered by the Holy Spirit. Such hardness of heart can lead to final impenitence and eternal loss. So, we see that if you are hardened of heart, unrepentant and don’t seek forgiveness, your sin will not be forgiven. It’s not so much God sending you to Hell as much as it is in your own completely willful act to be defiant that you choose to go to Hell.

Misadventures in multitasking

It's the last bible study of the year. It's the day everyone brings goodies for the teachers in the children's programs as a small thank-you for all they do.

That was my plan, anyway.

Last night, hubby had to run to the store to get some butter so I could make six dozen cookies. I like to have my son help with baking and some cooking so that he gets familiar with it. My son loves to help since the kitchen is typically off-limits.

I was multitasking, getting the dishes in the dishwasher, cleaning the fridge, watching my kids who were playing on the kitchen floor, getting leftovers into little containers, and getting the dry ingredients put in a small bowl so they were ready to go when hubby came back with the butter.

All was well when hubby returned with the butter. Then, my son and I started in on the cookies. They looked beautiful. Got the first two dozen made into little balls and placed on cookie sheets. Grabbed a spoon and tasted the dough.

DISGUSTING!!!!!!!!!!!

Some how a tablespoon of salt ended up in the cookies instead of a teaspoon.

This hasn't happened before and this was a very inopportune time since we have bible study this morning. At least I have a back up plan -- give the teachers some store bought cookies I have in tins. I'm so sorry!

And, for the record, the dough was so bad that even hubby wouldn't eat it.

11 December 2007

The Good, Bad and the Painfully Practical

Sometimes it’s not such a good thing to be practical. It happens every Christmas. I have a wish list on Amazon for the kids where I add ideas all year long of things I could get them for their birthdays or Christmas. I also add some of my own wishes to the list so I don’t forget them. It works really well because the list is always handy to anyone who might want to get the kids anything and I use it as a list for the home schooling items I have waded through and have decided to purchase. As home schooling moms know, there is a LOT to sort through, so the Amazon list works like a charm.

It’s not so charming when you are the chief cook and bottle washer AND the person responsible for getting presents under the tree for everyone…self included. My practical and organizational side is always perfect for keeping the house running smoothly, but when it comes to Christmas presents, I’m beginning to wish I wasn’t so practical, so organized. Reason being, humility aside, I end up buying presents for three very important people, those being me, myself and I.

Hubby says I’m hard to buy for. How can that be when I have a list? Granted, he gets stuck buying Christmas and birthday presents all at the same time, but there is a list!!!

I ordered the kids and hubby some items from Amazon and, like all the other years, have asked hubby if I should just order the items I have for myself on the wish list too since, after all, I’m already ordering and you get free shipping on orders over $25. Yep, order away. So, Christmas gift opening is pretty lackluster because I know all the gifts and have even started to read some of them. (Yes, I’ll admit that hubby's wrapping the presents after I already know what they are is pretty darn IMpractical!)

So, here’s a little peek at what I got, I mean hubby, bought me this year.


Most of the items are good. Christian Perfection and Contemplation, along with The Three Conversions in the Spiritual Life are by Father Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, OP. St. Monica, The Power of a Mother’s Love is by Father Giovanni Falbo, and Father Hardon’s Catholic Prayer Book with Meditations.

The bad is the irreverent and humorous, The Bad Catholic’s Guide to Wine, Whiskey and Song, A Spirited Look at Catholic Life and Lore from Apocalypse to Zinfandel (which is for my husband).

(Thanks to Ma Beck for the recommendations on Father Hardon’s book and the Bad Catholic’s Guide).

I also got the CD, Lost in Mediation, Meditative Gregorian Chant for my husband. I got myself a CD of Mozart’s Requiem for Christmas, and have been playing that since early November (it is the Sir Georg Solti version and it is EXCELLENT).

Hubby also got me a deep fryer at the after Thanksgiving sales, which I told him about when we were out shopping that day and it only made sense to buy it right then and there because it was only on sale for about another hour or so. I’ve already used that a few times too.

Now that hubby's family isn't going to do the gift exchange at Christmas anymore, which is the one unknown present I typically got, I don't know if any of my presents will be a surprise.

Oh, wait. Never fear. My mother-in-law will always find a way to surprise me ;}

10 December 2007

Another meme

Ray tagged me for a meme, but I had already done that one, so am substituting this one instead since I'm running around today. It's the last week of bible study for the year and I have treats to make for the teachers and helpers, plus the usual household things that need doing, so here's my Christmas meme.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
I am not a fan of wrapping gifts, but wrap most of them unless they are especially large or odd shaped. In that case, they get put in a gift bag. I usually wrap all the gifts at once so I don't have to dig out the wrap, tape and tags numerous times. My aunts wrap the most beautiful gifts and make their own bows and frilly things. Just gorgeous. They make you not want to open the gift and ruin the wrapping. I also have a friend who loves to wrap gifts, which is just odd since I find it a nuisance!

2. Real tree or artificial?
We used to have a real one when I was a kid, but then mom put the kibosh on it because of the mess and we got an artificial. We have always had a real tree in the 19 years we've been married, but the artificial ones are starting to look really nice!

3. When do you put up the tree?
When I was little, it was whenever my parents had a chance, but now we have typically done it the day after Thanksgiving. This year was different, however, and we put it up a week after Thanksgiving, just in time for Advent.

4. When do you take the tree down?
Any time after Epiphany, especially if the tree is REALLY dead. This year I don't know if the tree will even make it to Christmas.

5. Do you like eggnog?
I used to love it and drink it like it was milk, but then started to think about it being full of eggs (it is EGG nog, after all) and that grossed me out and I haven't been able to drink it ever since.

6. Favourite gift received as a child?
I had an Easy Bake oven I really liked and my first present I remember was a toy jeep. My parents said I really wanted the jeep, but I have no idea why I would've wanted one. Must've been watching too much news coverage with Dan Rather of Vietnam.

7. Do you have a Nativity scene?
I have about three nativity sets. Typically, I use my really large set and put it in front of the fireplace.

8. Hardest person to buy for?
My aunt is hard because she doesn't want any presents. She reads me the riot act if I buy her things and makes me swear I won't buy her stuff. Soooo, to get around this, I usually buy her a moderately priced practical gift and say it's from the kids. This year she is getting Father Hardon's book of Christian Prayer and a rosary CD (the CD she can use in her new Prius if she ever figures out how to use it!).

9. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
My MIL used to buy me clothes. She and I have WAY different tastes and I've told her NOT to buy my clothes, but each year I get something. I still have a bright orange corduroy button-down shirt she gave me. It's not even blaze orange that I could wear out in the woods, it is more like orange sherbet. How many other items of clothing do I own that are orange - ZERO. I can't stand the color in clothing. Then there are the sweaters that are various stripes of bold colors...I don't do stripes!

10. Mail or email Christmas cards?
Both. For family and friends it is a snail mail card, but for genealogy friends and other friends I know only from the internet, it's an e-mail card.

11. Favourite Christmas Movie?
A Christmas Carol by Dickens (pretty much any version), but a Christmas Story, the comedy, is a very close second. The frozen tongue on the pole is so funny and, of course, the leg lamp (it's "Fragg eee lay" and a major prize), the dogs stealing dinner and they end up in a Chinese restaurant, visiting Santa ("You'll shoot your eye out, kid!) and the disappointment of decoding the Ovaltine secret saying.

12. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
December 26. I shop all year long and buy things when I see something I think a particular person would really like. However, I have been doing this less and less now that evil retailers have changed their return policies. And, with the kids, I tend to start later and later each year.

13. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
If this means "regifting," then technically no, not a Christmas present. But I have regifted other items.

14. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
A really good spiral sliced ham and just about any baked good!

15. Clear lights or colored on the tree?
We have colored lights on the tree this year, but I tend to prefer the clear.

16. Favourite Christmas song?
Campy maybe, but the Little Drummer Boy.

17. Travel at Christmas or stay home?
Since we used to live in Seattle and everyone lived back in MN and WI, we were always on a plane headed back here. I HATED IT!! I can't even remember the number of times Seatac (airport in WA) was covered in fog and we had delays. Now we go as far as the PIL in WI, which is about two hours drive. When I was a child, the farthest we would go was my grandparents in Hudson, WI.

18. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?
My husband just asked me this at dinner a few nights ago. Actually, he asked me to name them since he knew I could and he wanted to tell our son. I just wish I could remember the 12 Days of Christmas AND the religious meaning behind the numbers.

19. Angel on the tree top or a star?
Angel

20. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
It always was Christmas Eve forever, but then got married and hubby's family is a bit disjointed and it changed from year to year. Now it has typically been Christmas Eve with my aunt and kids and then Christmas Day with hubby's family.

21. Most annoying thing about this time of year?
Traffic around the malls, crowds in the malls. All the ads on TV. People camping outside stores to run in and fill their carts full of junk. Christmas office parties that are politically correct.

22. Best thing about this time of year?
The "hopeful anticipation." Being a parent and seeing the joy and wonder in my kids.

Oh, and I tag whoever sends Christmas cards that say "Merry Christmas."

08 December 2007

More lessons from class

Hubby has more psychological tests from his class. The last one was the Pig Personality Profile. This one is the Lüscher Color Test. However, the test hubby had in class only had four colors of which you picked one. I couldn't find this specific test on the internet, but did find several expanded versions.

An explanation I found:

The Lüscher-Color-Diagnostic measures a person's psycho-physical state, his or her ability to withstand stress, to perform, and to communicate. It uncovers the cause of psychological stress, which can lead to physical symptoms. Using 5015 precise definitions, the selections from among these pre-determined test colors measure the state of 34 personality traits, some of which lie outside the realm of the conscious. Because the color selections are guided in an unconscious manner, they reveal the person as he or she really is, and not as he or she perceives him - or herself, or as he, or she would like to be perceived, which occurs when questions are asked directly or by questionnaires.

The result of the Lüscher-Color-Diagnostic contains indications pertaining to personal assessment and special, professional recommendations.




THE TEST

Here's a link to one of the tests I found.

And, here are my results:

Hungers for intensity in life and welcomes opportunity to take on challenges and experience them with intense vitality. Is open-minded, active, and full of initiative. Expects others to share interests and join in enthusiastically. Enters into restless and bustling activity. Wants to be successful and get results. This imparts a strong feeling of fascination and enthusiasm.

Longs for lasting and loving togetherness. Places great value on a deep and trusting bond. Is capable of a strong and intense emotional relationship. Does not want to allow any feeling of distance or estrangement from the valued partner to arise. Wants to avoid anything leading to personal isolation and loneliness.


There are more tests online.
Here's one
Here's another (NB: This link crashed my browser twice)

Here's another one with cool graphics and a more detailed analysis, but I didn't like these colors since they didn't seem to be as true to the Lüscher test colors.

07 December 2007

St. Matthew Bible Study - Lesson 11

Father Echert gave a great lecture today. I like when he doesn't just stick to the points made by the bible study authors (since we can read the course notes ourselves and don't need to have it reiterated) and covers things a bit outside of the study.

Apostles, disciples
Father began by talking about the difference between an apostles and a disciple. There were many disciples, but only twelve apostles. The apostles were disciples, but not all disciples were apostles. Apostle comes from the Greek, meaning appointed one or representative. They were a "singular group" and has not been repeated and they exercised their "charter" only during their lifetimes (it wasn't handed down). There is a succession of popes from St. Peter, but there is not a succession of apostles, but of bishops, who have more limited roles and abilities. An example Father mentioned was that a Bishop would give you Extreme Unction/Last Rites, but wouldn't command you to "stand and be cured" as the apostles were able to do...and even raise the dead.

Father also mentioned that "Christ" is not a family name but a title that comes from the Greek word for Messiah.

John the Baptist
As a Catholic, I'm not always aware of the issues Protestants have with the bible. Father touched on a couple during this lecture. The first was in Matthew 11:2 where John the Baptist says, "Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?" Father said that some folks suggest that John the Baptist had doubts about Christ, a crisis of faith if you will. Father was almost exasperated at the thought and said it was UNIMAGINABLE and just down-right unbiblical. Up to this point, all the prophets of the Old Testament have been pointing to a Messiah, to the Christ who was to come. John the Baptist was the greatest of these prophets and the prefigurement of Jesus Himself. John baptised Jesus, he made numerous public professions about Jesus, and is now sitting in jail because of his preaching, so to think he was questioning things at this stage is out in left field.

Father said there are two solutions:
1. This is good pedagogy. Rather than John the Baptist affirming that Jesus is the Messiah, he has Jesus do it Himself. John's humility would demand nothing less than to let Jesus speak for himself. I wish Father had more time to go into this, but basically there is a hand off between the OT and the New Testament. John is the greatest prophet of the Old and is preparing the way for Jesus. Now Jesus is here and can take the reigns Himself. Plus, John the Baptist was somewhat of a rock star in his day (Josephus records how popular John was) and had a large following of disciples, some fiercely loyal. John is trying to tell the people that even though Jesus may not be the Messiah they were expecting, that indeed, He is the Christ, go and see for yourselves.
2. John was questioning if Jesus was establishing His kingdom now since previously Jesus had told people not to mention the miracles He had performed. Jesus is now showing that He is the fulfillment of Isaiah 11:4-5. But, Father doesn't favor this interpretation because if Jesus wanted to fully establish his kingdom, so far it was a dismal attempt (ie: only a few followers healed). Father said Jesus is only showing a symbol of what is to come when His kingdom is really established.

Herod(s)
Father talked about Herod the Great, who had been ruler over all of Israel and his weird paranoia of holding onto his power. Herod is the one who brought about the deaths of the Holy Innocents and also killed a wife and a few of his own sons. Not a nice man. Herod's three sons succeeded him...Caesar insisted on three rulers because he didn't want the power to be with just one man any longer least he become too powerful. Herod Archelaus, Herod Antipas and Herod Philip II were the three sons and ruled the three regions of Israel from the south (Herod Archelaus) to the north (Herod Philip). I've included some Wiki links on these bad actors as the history is pretty fascinating. Father talked about them quite a bit, but will let you check out the links for a better telling of the history than I could provide.

THE Immaculate Conception
This is another part of the chapter I didn't know Protestants had a problem with. From Matthew 11:11, "Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." Father said some folks point to this as evidence that Mary is not as exulted as Catholics would believe, claiming that John was the greatest, so where is Mary in all this. Father said that John the Baptist represents the culmination of the Old Testament, his finger always pointing to the Christ. John, like I mentioned earlier, is the greatest prophet of the Old Testament. John was cleansed of original sin in Elizabeth's womb at the Annunciation. Father also cited a few other OT prophets that may have been given this privilege (Jeremiah?). Mary was preserved from original sin from the moment of her conception. She alone is given this privilege, she is THE (definite article as Father said) Immaculate Conception. THE, as in one and only. She is created higher than the angels.

Also, regarding this passage, Father said Jesus is making a contrast. He is speaking of the Old Covenant, which John the Baptist belongs to. Mary is of the New Covenant and doesn't even fit here. And, saying that the lowest of the New Covenant is higher than the Old is showing what a privileged place WE hold. The Old Covenant was explicitly in Christ, the New is implicitly in Christ. We have received much (graces) from this privilege and MUCH is expected.

Elijah and other prophets
From our class notes, it mentions that society's rejection of John the Baptist, who is now imprisoned, foreshadows the rejection Jesus will experience, and the execution of John foreshadows Jesus' crucifixion.

From our study, John the Baptist is "Elijah" (spiritually), the "archetypal prophet who, according to Malachi, will be the forerunner of the Messiah who's to come when the "great and terrible of the Lord" arrives. Elijah and John the Baptist both endure persecution from royal authorities, and both prepare the way for someone greater. Although many people regard Elijah as the greatest prophet before John the Baptist, the OT records that there's another prophet greater than Elijah. Elisha asked for and received from God through Elijah a double portion of Elijah's spirit (2Kings 2:9-14). Scripture also records that Elisha performed twice as many miracles as Elijah. This reflects a pattern found elsewhere in the Bible. Moses gives the Israelites' the law, but he's unable to lead the descendants of the twelve tribes into the Promised Land of their inheritance. It's Joshua who directs the Israelites' conquest of Canaan. What Moses begins, Joshua completes. What Elijah begins, Elisha completes. And what John the Baptist begins, Jesus completes."

Father mentioned that John the Baptist was spiritually Elijah, but that the real Elijah will return as the fulfillment of Malachi. In Revelation, there two witnesses/prophets referred to that may be Elijah and Enoch (Enoch walked with God and was seen no more). Father said that since these OT prophets didn't die, that they may be the ones referred to in Revelation. Before the Second Coming, they will be martyred and in three days, resurrected. Again, prefiguring Jesus.

Pride
Again from our study, "Jesus shows how spiritual and intellectual pride can overtake common sense when he points out the moral inconsistency of those who faulted John the Baptist for fasting and who simultaneously fault Jesus for not fasting." "The people of Capernaum are blinded by pride that prevents them from repenting in humility. Jesus is very frank about the seriousness of sins related to pride, which are far graver than the sins of the flesh of which Sodom was guilty. It's pride that's Satan's identifying characteristic and his custom-designed calling card."

06 December 2007

Connections - From George to Thérèse

Taking from the BBC series Connections, hosted by the quirky James Burke, is the format this post follows, albeit a bit tenuously. Here's my take on some things layed out in a James Burke fashion.

President Bush had a press conference recently and spoke about Iran and its potential nuclear capabilities. From the AP:

President Bush said Tuesday that the international community should continue to pressure Iran on its nuclear programs, saying Tehran remains dangerous despite a new intelligence report finding it halted its development of a nuclear bomb. "I view this report as a warning signal that they had the program, they halted the program," Bush said. "The reason why it's a warning signal is they could restart it."

Which brings me to something I just found out about...something that happened during the Cuban Missal Crisis before I was even born. It's amazing to think that civilization as we know it could've been forever changed because of some Friends of Goldilocks. My question is, where was Ray during all this?

October 25, 1962 - Cuban Missile Crisis: Intruder in Duluth, Minnesota

At around midnight on October 25, a guard at the Duluth Sector Direction Center saw a figure climbing the security fence. He shot at it, and activated the "sabotage alarm." This automatically set off sabotage alarms at all bases in the area. At Volk Field, Wisconsin, the alarm was wrongly wired, and the Klaxon sounded which ordered nuclear armed F-106A interceptors to take off. The pilots knew there would be no practice alert drills while DEFCON 3 was in force, and they believed World War III had started.

Immediate communication with Duluth showed there was an error. By this time aircraft were starting down the runway. A car raced from command center and successfully signaled the aircraft to stop. The original intruder was a bear.


When I was a child, we spent some summers vacationing in Duluth. My father had a fondness for the area, was quite out-doorsy and had worked in several CCC logging camps in Northern Minnesota. I also remember him escorting a travelling statue of Our Lady, don't remember which one, and it had a stop in Duluth. It was the first time I had seen the Knights of Columbus in all their regalia and I was very impressed by them. Continuing with this thread, there is a city of Duluth in Minnesota...

Duluth is a seaport city in the U.S. state of Minnesota and the county seat of St. Louis County. The city had a total population of 86,918 in the 2000 census and the metropolitan census including outer suburbs and villages was estimated to be roughly 184,000. At the westernmost point on the north shore of Lake Superior, Duluth is linked to the Atlantic Ocean 2,300 miles (3,700 km) away via the Great Lakes and Erie Canal/New York State Barge Canal or Saint Lawrence Seaway passages and is the Atlantic Ocean's westernmost deep-water port.

Duluth forms a metropolitan area with Superior, Wisconsin, Called the Twin Ports, these two cities share the Duluth-Superior Harbor and together are one of the most important ports on the Great Lakes, shipping iron ore (taconite) and grain. As a tourist destination for the Midwest, Duluth features America's only all-freshwater aquarium, the Great Lakes Aquarium, the Aerial Lift Bridge which spans the short canal into Duluth's harbor, "Park Point", the world's longest freshwater sandbar, spanning 14 miles, and is a launching point for the North Shore.


and one in Georgia...

Duluth is a city in Gwinnett County, Georgia, and a suburb of Atlanta located in the Metro Atlanta area. Duluth is a popular and rapidly developing suburb of Atlanta, close to Interstate 85, which allows for a quick commute to Atlanta.

Duluth, Georgia, as it says above is a suburb of Atlanta. And, what company was born in Atlanta? Why my favorite...Coke. Or Coca Cola as it is officially called. There are many legends about the formulation of Coke and if it really contains cocaine. According to Wiki:

The exact formula of Coca-Cola is a famous trade secret. The original copy of the formula is held in SunTrust Bank's main vault in Atlanta. Its predecessor, the Trust Company, was the underwriter for the Coca-Cola Company's initial public offering in 1919. A popular myth states that only two executives have access to the formula, with each executive having only half the formula. The truth is that while Coca-Cola does have a rule restricting access to only two executives, each knows the entire formula and others, in addition to the prescribed duo, have known the formulation process.

The first Coca-Cola recipe was invented in Columbus, Georgia, by John Stith Pemberton, originally as a cocawine called Pemberton's French Wine Coca in 1885. He may have been inspired by the formidable success of European Angelo Mariani's cocawine, Vin Mariani.


Which brings us quite nearly to the end of our story. Maybe I should start drinking wine instead of Coke as my drink of choice:

Vin Mariani, (French: Mariani's wine) was a tonic created circa 1863 by Angelo Mariani, a chemist who became intrigued with coca and its economic potential after reading Paolo Mantegazza’s paper on coca's effects. In 1863 Mariani started marketing a wine called Vin Mariani which was made from Bordeaux wine treated with coca leaves. The ethanol in the wine acted as a solvent and extracted the cocaine from the coca leaves, altering the drink’s effect. It originally contained 6 mg of cocaine per fluid ounce of wine, but Vin Mariani which was to be exported contained 7.2 mg per ounce in order to compete with the higher cocaine content of similar drinks in the United States.

Further...(ad from Harper's Magazine, March, 1894)

Vin Mariani was very popular in its day, even among royalty such as Queen Victoria of Great Britain and Ireland. Pope Leo XIII and later Pope Saint Pius X were both Vin Mariani drinkers. Pope Leo awarded a Vatican gold medal to the wine, and also appeared on a poster endorsing it.


Pope Leo XIII was a great pope. If I didn't have to run to bible study, I would write more about him. However, I didn't know that Pope Leo endorsed anything and it was interesting to learn about his endorsement of Vin Mariani. Pope Leo XIII was the first pope we have a sound recording of and was the pope St. Thérèse went to speak to concerning her vocation:

While on a pilgrimage with her father and sister in 1887, the future Saint Thérèse of Lisieux during a general audience with Pope Leo XIII, asked him to allow her to enter the Carmelite order. Even though she was strictly forbidden to speak to him because she was told it would prolong the audience too much, in her autobiography, Story of a Soul, she wrote that after she kissed his slipper and he presented his hand, instead of kissing it, she took it in her own hand and said through tears, "Most Holy Father, I have a great favor to ask you. In honor of your Jubilee, permit me to enter Carmel at the age of 15!" Pope Leo XIII answered, "Well, my child, do what the superiors decide." Thérèse replied, "Oh! Holy Father, if you say yes, everybody will agree!" Finally, the Pope said, "Go... go... You will enter if God wills it," after which time two guards lifted Thérèse (still on her knees in front of the Pope) by her arms and carried her to the door where a third gave her a medal of the Pope. Shortly thereafter, the Bishop of Bayeux authorized the prioress to receive Thérèse, and in April 1888, she entered Carmel at the age of 15.

Which brings me to the somewhat abrupt end of these connections. It would be nice to think that both Pope Leo XIII and St. Thérèse are looking out after President Bush (he did quit drinking after all!). What would be more comforting is if they are looking out for the entire USA during our next election. The end.