30 January 2008

Most excellent dude!

The White Stone Name Seeker and Gem of the Ocean have nominated me for this award. Thank you! This is totally heinous!

All the legalese that I don't think holds much water, but nonetheless...

By accepting this Excellent Blog Award, you have to award it to 10 more people whose blogs you find Excellent Award worthy. You can give it to as many people as you want-even those that have received it already, but please award at least 10 people.

Drum roll please. I would like to pass on the award, in no particular order, to:
Sanctus Belle
White Stone Name Seeker
Archangel's Advocate
Ma Beck
Angela Messenger

Yes, I know I picked more than alloted, but I would wager some of these folks are kind of curmudgeonly, so picked a few extra to ensure that the love gets spread around all of blogdom.

If you don't already know who these folks are, then make your way over to their most excellent blogs and check them out. Tell them So-Crates sent you. Be excellent to each other and party on, dudes!

Teacher Mr. Ryan: Who was Joan of Arc?
Bill: Noah's wife?
(Hey, she doesn't have a name in the bible, just Mrs. Noah, so it could work)

St. Matthew Bible Study - Lesson 15

When I lived in Seattle, the winters were always gloomy. Supposedly, they had one of the highest suicide rates in the country. It didn’t rain the way everyone imagines, with an actual accumulation of water each day. No, it merely misted all day every day, just enough to make your face wet and fog up people’s glasses. It also was the kind of dampness that cooled you to the bone. Each day, on the way to the University of Washington, I would pass places that offered light therapy to combat the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

I think I have BSAD, Bible Study Affected Disorder. For some reason, I’m just not too jazzed about the whole idea. And, posting my notes seems less than thrilling since the start of the year. But, blogging has been the same way. I’ve always had an attention deficit problem. Not the official diagnosed kind, just that I lose interest in things and lately that has been blogging. I’ve been doing some reading and genealogy, plus started my spring cleaning. Everything seems more interesting than blogging at the moment. Maybe BSAD is really Blogger Situational Affective Disorder. Hopefully, they will find a cure soon.

And now, let’s get on with it.

Chapter 15
It’s interesting to see how each chapter seems to show an increase in the tension between Jesus and the Pharisees. And, we see how their hearts are not just hardened to Jesus’ message, but their pride is so consuming that they have clearly moved from disdain to jealousy to now envy. No wonder pride is such a deadly sin and can find such hideous and barbaric forms to express itself in.

Rules are rules

This chapter starts out with the Pharisees questioning Jesus about why His disciples don’t follow the laws. These laws are the laws the Pharisees came up with, not the Law of Moses. The class notes say, “Since the Jews’ return from the Babylonian Captivity, hundred of religious stipulations and rules had been added to the Law in an attempt to ensure no danger of someone inadvertently breaking it. In Deuteronomy 4:2, however, the descendants of the twelve tribes of Israel had been instructed by Moses not to add anything to the Law nor subtract from it: ‘You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it; that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.’ The scribes’ and Pharisees’ additions to the Law kept them from being the kind of witnesses to the world that God originally had intended. Jesus cuts through the built-up calluses of human traditions that obscure the spirit of the original Law to make the point that moral purity and the keeping of God’s word begins within the depths of a person’s heart.”

Father Echert said that whatever you do insincerely or with the wrong motives has no merit, or what you do while not in a state of grace has no merit (for you personally). He mentioned that there were 72 scrolls of oral tradition that were destroyed (by Divine Providence) when the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in 70AD. In the following century, there was a rabbi that managed to reconstruct the laws into what is the Mishnah, which is a (second) collection filled with specifications on the Sabbath and ritual purity. This is the first time I had heard of it, so check out the link for some more information.

Halakah and Korban
Jesus is trying to show the people that it is more important to understand the reasons for the laws and that what is in your heart, the sincerity, is more important than making sure you dot your i’s and cross your t’s. The laws the Pharisees added were called Halakah. These are the laws and ordinances not specifically found in Scripture, but had developed from the Pharisees interpretations of the Law.

The Pharisees had the idea that what was unclean could defile what was pure or clean, but nothing that was clean could “cleanse” what was defiled. We saw this in a prior chapter where the Pharisees believed defilement could only go in one direction, for when you were touched by a leper you were unclean and had to go through a ritual and become pure again. However, in contrast to this, Jesus touches many unclean people and His touch alone cures them, makes them clean. Even this is forbidden by Halakah and is part of what irritates them so much about Jesus -- He is disregarding their laws and this is why they question Him about His disciples -- they are not following halakah by washing their hands before eating. Jesus is trying to show them that ritual observance of the law is hollow and how they are practicing it has clouded the real meaning and importance of the Law itself. The class notes mention they "keep the letter of the Law while they ignore its spirit."

When the Pharisees criticize Jesus' disciples for not washing their hands, Jesus calls them hypocrites and points out how they themselves are not just breaking a ritual or tradition, but one of the commandments -- honor your mother and father. The Pharisees have found a legal "loophole" where they are getting out of financially supporting their parents. (Shows where their hearts are, or should I say lack of a heart, how callous). By giving alms, called Korban, they are giving money they should be using to support their parents to the Temple, in attempt to make themselves look good for being so generous. The notes from our study say, "...people are responsible for providing for their parents who are sick, elderly, or otherwise unable to care for themselves. The Pharisees devised a way in which a person could declare his wealth to be korban. After a person's death, his wealth would be turned over to the Temple, but in the meantime it was considered already placed on the altar and was unavailable for other uses. This allowed a person to ignore financial responsibility for his parents while still maintaining a veneer of religious respectability..." Father Echert said that is this a two-fold sin in that they are not keeping the commandment to care for their parents and they are prideful/hypocritical. Their offer is not pleasing to God because you need proper intention and to be in a state of grace -- their offering has no merit.

Jesus further rebukes them by telling them it's not what goes into the body that defiles, but what "comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and defiles a man" (Matthew 15:18). Here, we see Jesus preparing a transition. One is no longer bound by Old Testament standards of ritual purity.

The Canaanite woman and the second loaves and fishes
Drawing a parallel between purity and impurity, Matthew shows Jesus going to Tyre and Sidon where he finds a Canaanite woman. She is a complete "foreigner" to the Jews in every way. She asks Jesus to heal her daughter who is possessed by a demon. First, Jesus rebukes her and tells her He is only here to gather the lost sheep of Israel. She persists and shows great faith and humility. Jesus then heals her daughter instantly by saying, "O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire." This miracle demonstrates who really has faith instead of just appearing to like the Pharisees. Jesus is also showing that He is here, not just for Judah, not just for the 12 tribes, but for all.

The second miracle of the loaves and fishes demonstrates that what Jesus had done for the Jews, he now does for the Gentiles. And, yes, there are TWO miracles of the loaves and fishes, so keep 'em straight! This miracle also foreshadows the Eucharist, much the same as the prior miracle of loaves and fishes. We see once again the super abundance of God's gifts to His people.

And, I thought this was interesting from the notes.
The Old Testament proclaimed the Father openly, and the Son more obscurely. The New Testament manifested the Son, and suggested the deity of the Spirit. Now the Spirit Himself dwells among us, and supplies us with a clearer demonstration of Himself.
-St. Gregory of Nazianzen

26 January 2008

Inappropriate talker

Like the close talker, but worse

My son is an inappropriate talker. Maybe little boys are like this.

Last week we went to Dodge Nature Center. It was our first time doing an activity with the new home schooling group I joined. We're not even "official" members yet and these are the folks we will be interacting with for (possibly) years to come. So much for first impressions. As our group walked into the room with the reptiles, my son stopped in the doorway and stated that it "stunk" in the room. I kept trying to get him to go in the building, but he wouldn't move until I acknowledged the smell.

No one else mentioned anything about the smell. Just my son.

During the 90 minutes we were there, the instructor showed us several reptiles and amphibians and talked a little bit about each one. If she mentioned something that triggered an association in my son's brain, then words just spewed forth. He's big on dinosaurs, so when she mentioned that some reptiles look like dinosaurs, well, there was no stopping his monologue. She went on to mention the word "monsters" and again that triggered the association with Scooby Doo and off he went, telling the woman (and the class) all about Scooby Doo and the monsters Scooby encounters in the course of being a "mystery solver."

About once every five minutes something set him off and I didn't know if I should look for the duct tape or just chalk it up to what Dr. Ray says is poor impulse control in young kids. The other moms didn't seem to mind, maybe they had come through a stage like this with one of their kids, but this is my oldest so all these experiences are new and challenging!

We were out at the Mall of America for lunch over the weekend. For Christmas, my son got a very nice book on the human body. It's the latest thing he is really interested in. He can actually tell you a lot about the nervous system, the brain, etc., but what system comes to mind when you are eating? Right...the digestive system. And what is the end result of the digestive system. Correct again. And that's what he kept telling us about very loudly. "And it comes out your butt" was said over and over and over. Ain't no stoppin' that kid when he's on a roll.

The other day we took in his Kindergarten application. This is an important step. I told him he needed to be on his best behavior when we were in the school office. I've never given such a stern "pre-warning" before. The school is very hard to get into, so this was causing me some anxiety and I wanted my kids to look and act like little angels. Even though, by law the school has to pick the names by lottery, I was hoping that my son's application would get in the "good" kid pile instead of placed at the bottom of the "bad" kid pile.

But he wouldn't be my son if he didn't walk in the office and ask, "What is that smell?" To which the very important lady taking the very important application said, "Does it smell like peanut butter?" And my son said it did and she told him that someone had eaten their lunch there. While I turn to point my daughter towards the door to leave, I look back to find my son walking around the room, sniffing, trying to find where in the room the smell was strongest. AHHHHH!!! Then, before I can stop him, he takes off his hat and mittens. Now I have to pull my daughter back in the from the hallway and put his hat and mittens back on, hoping against hope that he doesn't do or say anything else in the next thirty seconds that would embarrass all of us. As I push the kids towards the office door, he stops at the water cooler. He wants a drink. I tell him we just need to go, but not before he presses the water button and splashes water all over the woman's office.

Regardless of the results of the application lottery for Kindergarten, I don't think we can show our faces at that school or even in the home school group again. We may just have to move.

My father always told me that my mouth ran as fast as a whippoorwill's rear end. Guess this is pay backs.

22 January 2008

Where's St. George when you need him?

Seems that the dragon has bested all my son's knights. Too bad there isn't a St. George that goes with this set that we could get. Maybe if I just bought another knight and told my son he is St. George we wouldn't have a massacre on our hands all the time.

All I could think of when I saw this was that Bonnie Tyler song:

Where have all good men gone
And where are all the gods?
Where's the street-wise Hercules
To fight the rising odds?

Isn't there a white knight upon a fiery steed?
Late at night I toss and turn and dream of what I need

I need a hero
I'm holding out for a hero 'til the end of the night
He's gotta be strong
And he's gotta be fast
And he's gotta be fresh from the fight
I need a hero
I'm holding out for a hero 'til the morning light
He's gotta be sure
And it's gotta be soon
And he's gotta be larger than life

Tale of two memes

Karen at Gem of the Ocean always has some work for me to do. This time it's a book meme. I also saw the other meme at Entropy's blog last night around dinner, and Karen had it too, so will do that since my head cold doesn't leave much room for any original thoughts. It's amazing how quickly these things migrate around the blogosphere. If the bird flu ever becomes an epidemic, it will have been because of bloggers spreading it all over the globe.

First, the book meme.
1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.

This irony happened the last time I did this meme. Some goofy book is on my computer desk. This time it's the blasted Da Vinci Code that my husband is using for his class. He had to read it and also use it in his take home test and in his paper. It is not mine. I haven't read it. Don't blame me.

The last time I did this meme, the first few books I picked up didn't even have 123 pages. Then the third book didn't even have enough text to post three sentences. The Da Vinci Code has 123 pages, but on page 123 there are barely enough sentences. I don't know what interest anyone would have in these, but here they are:

Fache decided not to take any chances. Hedging his bets, he ordered half his men back to the Louvre perimeter. The other half he sent to guard the only location in Paris where Robert Langdon could find safe harbor.

From What Privileges Do You Have?, based on an exercise about class and privilege developed by Will Barratt, Meagan Cahill, Angie Carlen, Minnette Huck, Drew Lurker, Stacy Ploskonka at Illinois State University. If you participate in this blog game, they ask that you PLEASE acknowledge their copyright.

True statements are in "Bold."

1. Father went to college
2. Father finished college
3. Mother went to college
4. Mother finished college

Both of my parents went to college. Both were the first and only in their large family (although my mom's youngest brother did attend Cow College (UW - River Falls) briefly. Mom was a "St. Joe's" nurse from St. Kate's (one of her aunts was a nurse from St. Kate's too). Dad wanted to be a forensic pathologist and teach LONGGGGGGGG before anything like CSI came around. He had started his masters when his father died and he quit school to take care of my grandmother and aunt who was still living at home. He went to school on the GI Bill. I guess my grandfather, who raised his family during the depression, thought my dad was completely insane to quit (actually, my dad took leave from work, which was allowed under the GI Bill I guess) his job and go to college. Education was important to the family, but a great job was hard to find. Dad had taken a job with the railroad and quickly risen to an engineering position. My grandfather thought he was crazy to turn his back on that. When his father died, he went back to the railroad. Not ONCE did my father ever complain about things that could've been or even complain about working.

5. Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor
All three. I have a large family, so odds are that it will happen. For me, it's not immediate family, but cousins. My dad's cousin was a prof of English in Georgia for MANY years. She also taught music. The physician part is my cousin's son. Hubby also has a cousin who is an attorney.

6. Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers.
7. Had more than 50 books in your childhood home.

8. Had more than 500 books in your childhood home.
9. Were read children's books by a parent.

I can't say I had over 500 books, but my parents read all the time and really encouraged us to do the same. I didn't have things other kids did, like a bunch of sports equipment, but my parents would buy us books. I probably do have 500 books now, but many are academic. My mom read to us when we were little, but not to the extent that it was frequent or like we do with our kids.

10. Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18
11. Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18

I was a Larkin dancer for awhile. I also had music lessons (at school) and also piano/organ lessons at home.

12. The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively.

Stricly speaking, yes. But Catholics certainly aren't portrayed very nicely at times. Heck, look at the Da Vinci Code!

13. Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18

Hmmmm. I worked at Target and think I may have had a Target credit card, but my real first credit card wasn't until I was in college.

14. Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs
15. Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs

My parents wouldn't even co-sign on my Guaranteed Student Loan! My dad was raised during the depression so there was no way he was going to sign for a loan. And, I knew better than to even ask. I went to St. Thomas on grants and scholarships that brought the cost down to what it would've cost me to attend the U of M. Not a bad deal. I also worked my backside off to pay the tuition myself, plus all my other expenses other than the roof over my head. My second go-round was paid for by Boeing.

16. Went to a private high school
I went to public school. To this day, my aunt still asks me why my parents didn't send me to "Catholic school." I have no idea. It was never discussed and I was of the mindset that Catholic school kids were dorks, so public school suited me just fine.

17. Went to summer camp

I went once for Brownies.

18. Had a private tutor before you turned 18

No. No one did that I knew.

19. Family vacations involved staying at hotels

I think this is half true. When we were very little, my parents would rent a cabin at a resort for a week. Then my aunt bought a cabin and the family at large flocked there all the time. Never went anywhere else but the cabin though. My friend always got to go somewhere fun, like Hawaii, CA, FL, etc., while we went to the cabin. Still, it was fun and at least we had a cabin to go to.

20. Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18

When I was little, my mom went through a phase of making my clothes, but that stopped well before Kindergarten. So, this is pretty true, just not "all" bought new.

21. Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them

Never. Not on your life. I paid my way from about the time I was 16.

22. There was original art in your house when you were a child [kid's work is original!]
We had a piece of starving artist stuff hanging in the living room. My dad also had some Japanese scrolls in our den and a framed obi. Guess this counts. Nothing like a Monet though.

23. You and your family lived in a single-family house
24. Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home
25. You had your own room as a child
26. You had a phone in your room before you turned 18

27. (follows below)
28. Had your own TV in your room in high school

We lived in the burbs and there was only my brother and me, so we had our own rooms. I had a phone that I kind of wired myself (desperate!) that was still on the same line as the family.

27. Participated in a SAT/ACT prep course

Are you nuts? No one prepped back then. I didn't even study for the ACT. I think most of us viewed the test as a nuisance, nothing that was going to have any direct impact on the schools we wanted to attend. But, then again, I wasn't applying to Harvard.

29. Owned a mutual fund or IRA in high school or college


30. Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16

I got to fly when I was 16. I had spent the summer taking care of my grandmother who was recovering from surgery. I stayed with her in Hudson instead of the family getting an in-home helper. As my "reward," my aunt sent me to visit my cousins in CA. She also sent my brother with me and he hadn't done anything to deserve it, the rat!

31. Went on a cruise with your family
32. Went on more than one cruise with your family

No. We went on one for our honeymoon and then one in the Mediterranean, but not with my parents.

33. Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up

Not that I remember. My dad hated traffic and I don't think ever drove through the heart of Minneapolis ever. They did take us to the IDS tower once, but museums were things we did on schoool field trips.

34. You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family

Not on your life. If I didn't turn off a light, my dad would re-introduce me to Mr. Light Switch. Plus, my mom was sick from the time I was nine, so I handled the bill paying very early on. I knew more about my parents finances than they did! Before I got married and moved away, I had to completely educate my dad on balancing the check book, paying taxes, when things were due, etc. I also had to show him how to use the washing machine and how to program the VCR. Believe it or not, my MIL raised her sons to be ignorant of a good number of things. Immediately after getting married, I taught my husband how to use the washing machine and how to cook. Good grief.

19 of 34 privileged items is 56%

21 January 2008

Archbishop Nienstedt's visit

Previous St. Agnes Day Mass. There were three times as many altar boys in the pews for Mass yesterday.

Despite having a cold and not getting much sleep the night before, and even though it was sooooo cold out, I got myself out of bed and made it to the 10am Latin Mass at St. Agnes. It was the parish's feast of St. Agnes and Archbishop Nienstedt was present.

The choir, chorale and orchestra sung/played Gounod's St. Cecelia Mass. It was quite lovely, but I really don't care for the Credo. I have had a CD of this for years, but the more I hear it, the more the Credo sounds like it was written for a Broadway musical. I will say some of the rest of it makes me get a bit teary. I really don't know where this comes from. When I was younger, nothing made me cry. Never, ever. Now I can't venture to a Latin Mass without a tissue. And this isn't even close to Mozart's Requiem, which turns me into a bowl of mush when I hear it performed live.

The church was full of pomp and circumstance, done at a level few churches can achieve. Dozens of altar boys processed in, youngest to oldest (well, maybe I should say shortest to tallest). The church was packed, not a spare seat to be seen. Beside the deacons, Father Ubel was the only other priest on the altar; it was nice to let the spotlight shine on the Archbishop. The Knights of Columbus, that were always so cool to see as a child, were even neat to watch as an adult.

Archbishop kept his homily short. He did mention that he had never met Monsignor Schuler, which I thought was a bit unbelievable since it seems everyone had met him! It is too bad they had never met, since I think they would've had a lot in common. Archbishop Nienstedt did have a point to his homily, other than just introducing himself to the parish. He related the story of St. Agnes, a very young, virtuous girl, who was martyred and essentially said today's youth should follow her example of chastity instead of looking at the example society provides. He also said we are all called to holiness and chastity no matter what our state in life is. Direct and to the point.

Archbishop Nienstedt did mention an "ecclesiastical genealogical connection" he had with St. Agnes. Prior St. Agnes pastor, Monsignor Alphonse Schladweiler, had been appointed Bishop of New Ulm and Archbishop Nienstedt had been Bishop of New Ulm. There you have it.

I did have to stop for a minute when the Archbishop blessed the congregation. I thought, with my poor hearing, that he referred to St. Agnes as a "virgin and mother." I then realized what he had actually said was the more sensical "virgin and MARTYR." Because of this, I didn't really catch much of the blessing :)

And, upon leaving the church, I found I didn't get a parking ticket even though I was parked a tiny bit too close to a stop sign. And I actually got to sit and enjoy the Mass because hubby stayed home with the kids and went to a later Mass at Nativity. It was nice to go to Mass without distraction.

Welcome Archbishop Nienstedt!!

18 January 2008

St. Matthew Bible Study - Lessons 13 and 14

Have been so busy lately that I haven't had the time and energy to sit down and type up my class notes from bible study. Now that I look at my notes from last week, I wish I would've done them sooner...but here goes.

Father started out talking about how Jesus begins to preach in parables (called the parable discourse), departing from His more straight-forward manner. This coincides with the rise in hostility and opposition He receives from the scribes and Pharisees who resent Him because He is stealing their thunder on teaching the Law. Jesus was seen as a great teacher and they felt threatened. Now Jesus takes His message to the streets and is no longer preaching in the synagogues.

This shift to parables is an important distinction to note. From the class notes it says that "to understand why Jesus does this, it's necessary to look at two prominent Old Testament parables -- one involving Jotham (Judges 9:1-57) and the other involving the prophet Nathan (2 Sam 12:1-15). In the first instance, Jotham addresses the people of Shechem after Abimelech has killed 70 of the sons of Jerubbaal and made himself king. Jotham, the lone surviving brother, tells a parable about a bramble who was made "king of the trees" after other, worthier trees were passed over. That bramble in that parable represents Abimelech. In the second instance, the prophet Nathan tells david a parable about a rich man who stole and slaughtered a poor man's only lamb. When David replies: "The man who has done this deserves to die!" Nathan answers the king: "You are the man!" and he then spells out David's sins of adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of Bathsheba's husband, Uriah the Hittite. In the Old Testament, both of these parables were told in circumstances where leaders had become corrupt.

Father talked about how those with faith understood the parables and could relate to them, but those against Christ just didn't get it. Parables were not meant to exclude but were to help people accept Christ, but those not open to Jesus' message often times didn't get what He was alluding to since they were hardened of heart. In a way, the parables separate Jesus' followers from the opposition -- one group hears and understands (internalizes the parables) whereas the other group does not.

The class notes say that the "majority of Jesus' parables focus on the kingdom of heaven -- its small beginnings, its immense scope, and its unfathomable value.

Looking at the text
The boat that Jesus preaches from to in verse two is a symbol of the Church and salvation (like Noah's ark). His posture of sitting is that that a rabbi would use in teaching.

In verse ten, when the disciples ask Him why He preaches in parables, Jesus replies:

"To you it has been given to know the secrets (Father said secrets = mysteries) of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to him who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand."

We see the idea of a "super abundance" in the next chapter when Jesus performs the miracle of the loaves and fishes. The scribes and the Pharisees are the ones referred to in this passage. Father said for he who has ears there is something required to understand...not so much a secret code, but grace of faith. Obviously, the scribes and Pharisees have squandered this grace. We also see this with Pharoah in the Old Testament, where God withdrew His grace from Pharoah and Pharoah became so hardened of heart and dull of intellect that he almost destroyed his own people because of it (Moses and the plagues).

The parable of the sower
This parable shows the different reactions people have to Jesus' message. Those with the grace of faith will hear and be fruitful, but those with hardened hearts will be lost. The message is the same to all, it's just the difference in the person that determines whether the message will take root or not.

Several things are hidden in this chapter. Good wheat hidden among the weeds (verses 24-30), the mustard seed (31-32), the hidden flour (33), hidden pearl (44-46), and the net that scoops up good fish obscured by the bad (47-50). Also, the earlier reference to secrets (mysteries) in verse 11. Jesus says in verse 35, "I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world." Here Jesus is calling His kingdom and the Church that which has been hidden. Father also said that what is small and hidden will become great. This is part of the problem Jews of the time had with Jesus. They were expecting a king like David who would rule, have a temple, armies, etc. Jesus' kingdom is more hidden, not so visible or physical.

The house
In verse 36, Jesus leaves the crowd and goes into a house. The house symbolizes the Church. From the notes it says, "Just as Jesus explained the meaning of his parables while in a house, it's only WITHIN THE CHURCH that the mystery of Jesus can even begin to be understood."

Jesus' brothers and sisters
For the skinny on this, see the Catechism, paragraph 500, which says:
Against this doctrine the objection is sometimes raised that the Bible mentions brothers and sisters of Jesus. The Church has always understood these passages as not referring to other children of the Virgin Mary. In fact James and Joseph, "brothers of Jesus," are the sons of another Mary, a disciple of Christ, whom St. Matthew significantly calls "the other Mary." They are close relations of Jesus, according to an Old Testament expression.

Herod Antipas and John the Baptist
This chapter starts off by talking about Herod again. Those Herod fellas were not nice dudes. This Herod, the tetrarch, was one of the sons of Herod the Great. Herod the Great was an evil and wicked man, and the one responsible for the Martyrdom of the Holy Innocents. When this bad actor leaves the scene, Augustus Caesar breaks the kingdom into three because he fears a strong leader being in control of the area. Herod the Great's three sons, Herod Archelaus, Herod Antipas and Herod Philip, take over, ruling the pieces of Israel from south to north, respectively.

In this chapter we are dealing with the sterling Herod Antipas. John the Baptist has been publically condeming Herod Antipas (HA) and his lovely and charming wife, Herodias, because HA is now married to Herodias, who is really Herod Philip's wife. Antipas stole her away from his own brother. Charming bunch of guys. Herod Antipas' prior wife high tails it out of Israel because she knew HA would kill her to get her out of the way so HA could have Herodias.

It only gets worse. For HA's birthday, which Father said was really a drunken orgy, no cake and candles here, Herodias' daughter dances for Herod. The dance was quite provocative and enchants HA soooo much (can you imagine a mother encouraging her daughter to do this!) that he promises with an oath to give her whatever she asks for. Herodias, who if it's even possible was probably more evil than HA, tells her daughter to ask for John the Baptist's head on a platter. Herodias was full of vengeance to want the tongue of the man who had publically denounced her. HA, who supposedly was "sorry" to have to do this, but after all and oath is an oath and he had to save face, had no problem beheading a man he KNEW was righteous and even like to listen to preach. Talk about bad seed.

In those days, beheading was not usual, stoning was. John's death here prefigures Christ (righteous and innocent man put to death for vengeful reasons). Here we clearly see the end of the Old Testament and the beginning of the new. John's martyrdom "sets the stage for the beginning of a totally new way of relating to God."

Our group leader mentioned that supposedly a mystic had a vision that Herodias' daughter supposedly slipped and fell on some ice and was herself beheaded in the fall. Fascinating story, but don't know where it comes from. Will have to check into it.

Father and our notes pointed out that immediately after John's martyrdom, Jesus withdrew to what is called a "lonely" place. Father said it really should be translated as "desert" place. Jesus withdrew to the desert, which was lonely, but it signified the wandering in the desert of the Israelites. The notes say that, "Immediately on the heels of reporting the beheading of John the Baptist, Matthew records the miracles of the loaves and fishes. The Evangelist deliberately begins the narrative section that will lead to the discourse on the Church with the story of a miracle that clearly prefigures the sacrament of the Eucharist. This is fitting, since after Jesus' Passion, death and Resurrection, this sacraments of sacraments will become the source and summit of the Church's life and faith. Matthew presents Jesus, the Bread of Life, feeding the multitudes -- which allows this story to be read liturgically from an ecclesial, or Church, perspective. Although Jesus could have performed this miracle many other ways, he instructed his disciples to distribute the loaves and fishes. Not only are the crowds satisfied, but the 12 disciples, acting in Jesus' name and by His power, produce bread in such abundance that there are 12 baskets full of food left. The end of the Old Covenant is marked by the death of the last prophet, and the beginning of the New Covenant shows the 12 disciples as the ones who are going to be sent by Jesus to feed the lost sheep of the house of Israel -- the descendants fo the 12 tribes."

Father spent a few minutes talking about the German Rationalist movement. Briefly, it is used to find a "rational" way to explain what happened in the bible. It denies the divine and has no time for miracles. The MIRACLE of the loaves and fishes is diminished to that old "sappy" tale (to use Father's word) of people sharing the food they had hidden in their garments. The "miracle" was that the people shared what they had, not that Jesus performed a real miracle. Yeah.Right.

Storms and sea
It is in this chapter that we see Jesus walking on the water. The disciples are being tossed about in the boat. Peter, who is later scolded by Jesus as having "little faith," shows incredible faith by asking Jesus, "Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water." Peter then got out of the boat and started walking, demonstrating his incredible faith. It wasn't until his humanity kicked in that he began to doubt and then started to sink. However, as Peter starts to sink, he does the right thing and calls for the Lord to help him. From the notes, the boat is an icon of the Church because just as the boat struggles against the wind and waves in the water, the Church struggles against the waves of history and the persecuting forces of powers and principalities bent on its destruction.

16 January 2008

There's some splainin' to do

What classic sitcom character are you?

Lucy Ricardo
Take this quiz!

Romper Room - The Next Generation

Microsoft is developing Big Brother-style software capable of remotely monitoring a worker's productivity, physical well-being and competence.

From Fox News:

The Times has seen a patent application filed by the company for a computer system that links workers to their computers via wireless sensors that measure their metabolisms. The system would allow managers to monitor employees' performance by measuring their heart rates, body temperatures, movements, facial expressions and blood pressure. Labor unions said they fear that employees could be dismissed on the basis of a computer's assessment of their physiological state.

Technology allowing constant monitoring of workers was previously limited to pilots, firefighters and NASA astronauts. This is believed to be the first time a company has proposed developing such software for mainstream workplaces.

Microsoft submitted a patent application in the U.S. for a "unique monitoring system" that could link workers to their computers. Wireless sensors could read "heart rate, galvanic skin response, EMG, brain signals, respiration rate, body temperature, movement facial movements, facial expressions and blood pressure," the application states.

The system could also "automatically detect frustration or stress in the user" and "offer and provide assistance accordingly." Physical changes to an employee would be matched to an individual psychological profile based on a worker's weight, age and health. If the system picked up an increase in heart rate or facial expressions suggestive of stress or frustration, it would tell management that he needed help.

Britain's Information Commissioner, civil-liberties groups and privacy lawyers strongly criticized the potential of the system for "taking the idea of monitoring people at work to a new level."

"This system involves intrusion into every single aspect of the lives of the employees," Hugh Tomlinson, an expert on data protection law at the London law firm Matrix Chambers, said. "It raises very serious privacy issues." The U.S. Patent Office confirmed Tuesday that the application had been published last month, 18 months after being filed. Patent lawyers said that it could be granted within a year.

"This system takes the idea of monitoring people at work to a new level with a new level of invasiveness but in a very old-fashioned way because it monitors what is going in rather than the results," said Peter Skyte, a national officer for the British union Unite.

Britain's Information Commissioner's Office, a governmental agency that reports directly to Parliament, was no less alarmed. "Imposing this level of intrusion on employees could only be justified in exceptional circumstances," a spokesman said.

Microsoft refused to comment on the application.

"We have over 7,000 patents worldwide and we are proud of the quality of these patents and the innovations they represent," a spokesman said. "As a general practice, we do not typically comment on pending patent applications because claims made in the application may be modified through the approval process."

Romper, bomper, stomper boo. Tell me, tell me, tell me, do. Magic Microsoft mirror, tell me today. Have all my friends been productive at work?

Myths which are believed in tend to become true.
George Orwell

15 January 2008

Bump in the night

It's funny how children are so hyper-sensitive or hyper-suggestive. Last night I had a home school meeting to go to and hubby had a grad class so my aunt came over to stay with the kids for a few hours. To make life easy on my poor aunt I turned on PBS that had a reading/phonics show (that I had never seen before) so that the kids would watch it and be less rambunctious for my aunt.

Before I left, I noticed that this "sweet", educational show had one of the characters talking about how he was afraid of the dark. On and on about it. Well, last night my son wanted a night light. He's been hinting at one for awhile but now he's had enough "afraid of the dark" talk that he's kind of thinking he doesn't like the dark either. Why would a children's program have this as a theme? I don't think my son learned much about phonics, but he learned scary things might jump out from his closet.

But, not so fast. It might be sort of genetic. I have to admit that I still don't like to sleep with my arms or legs sticking off the side of the bed because I don't want whatever is under the bed to get me. Which, I come to find out, is called Bogyphobia - fear of bogies or the bogeyman. I also found the names of a lot of other weird phobias.

Hadephobia: Fear of hell
Hagiophobia: Fear of saints or holy things
Hereiophobia: Fear of challenges to official doctrine or of radical deviation
Hierophobia: Fear of priests or sacred things
Homilophobia: Fear of sermons
Ouranophobia: Fear of heaven
Papaphobia: Fear of the Pope
Peccatophobia: Fear of sinning
Satanophobia: Fear of Satan or The Devil
Staurophobia: Fear of crosses or the crucifix
Teleophobia: Fear of definite plans or Religious ceremony

Who knew there were such things. I can't imagine someone running wildly from the church when the priest begins his homily or avoiding Italy because you might bump into the Pope.

I've always had an aversion to bridges (Gephydrophobia - Fear of crossing bridges). When the 35W bridge collapsed, those who knew about my aversion called to see if I was traumatized or something. Now I'm not the only one who drives over a bridge saying a Hail Mary. However, my latest developing phobia is: Politicophobia - Fear of politicians

Depending on who wins the election, I might really develop Bogyphobia.

14 January 2008


Aylesford Abbey, founded by St. Simon Stock

Many are familiar with the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel that was given by Our Lady to St. Simon Stock, the Prior General of the Carmelite Order, in 1247. Way back in the Middle Ages, the scapular was a full-length garment worn over other clothing by monks and nuns, the color signifying the particular religious order. Our Lady appeared to St. Simon Stock and gave him the scapular along with the associated promises as a result of his pledge of complete loyalty to her (known as a privilegium), saying, "Take, beloved son this scapular of thy order as a badge of my confraternity and for thee and all Carmelites a special sign of grace; whoever dies in this garment, will not suffer everlasting fire. It is the sign of salvation, a safeguard in dangers, a pledge of peace and of the covenant."

Saints and popes throughout the ages have worn and encouraged wearing of the brown scapular, and many miraculous events have attested to the value of the sacramental (the scapular worn by Blessed Pope Gregory X, who died in 1276, was found intact in 1830), from Wiki.

1. Wear the Brown Scapular (or scapular medal) after enrollment*
2. Observe chastity according to your state in life
3. Recite the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary or five decades of the Rosary daily (usual requirements)

1. "...whosoever dies wearing this (the brown scapular) shall not suffer eternal fire"
2. Partial indulgence granted by Pope Benedict XV to those who devoutly kiss the scapular

And, the controversial,

3. Sabbatine Privilege: release from purgatory on the first Saturday after death (revelation by the Virgin to Pope John XXII in 1322).

I've had two very orthodox priests give me completely different answers on the Sabbatine Privilege and gotten some answers from some devote lay Carmelites. What I have found is:

The conditions required for gaining the Sabbatine Privilege are: wearing the Scapular, observe chastity as it applies to their state in life, recite the Office - the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

In 1322, Pope John XXII issued a papal bull which stated that those who followed certain conditions relating to the Scapular would be released from Purgatory, through Our Lady's intercession, on the Saturday after their death. This is where the term "Sabbatine" meaning Sabbath or Saturday, comes from.

From a very informative piece on the Brown Scapular by Father William Most, it says, "the original copy of the bull was lost. This is not too strange in view of the disturbed state of Rome after the sack of 1527. Some other documents of the same Pope are also lost. There was a copy of the bull, given by Pope Clement VII, dated May 15, 1528, but for some reason it was never solemnly issued, and so is technically invalid. The same Pope on August 12, 1530 did issue a transcript, but it promised only special help, not liberation."

The problem also comes from the revelations to St. Simon Stock being considered private revelations (this is similar to Fatima which is also considered private revelation). See Father William Most's article for a very good discussion of this.

Also, during the time of the Inquisitions in the early 17th century, there were special investigations into various Religious Orders. The issue of preaching the Sabbatine Privilege came up and was presented to the Inquisitor General in Portufal, Cardinal Millino. Cardinal Millino presented the question to the Holy Roman and Universal Inquisition in Rome, that then issued a decree under Pope Paul V. The decree of 20 January 1613, officially upheld the authority for the Carmelites to preach the Sabbatine Privilege:

"It is lawful for the Carmelite Fathers to preach that Christians may piously believe in the help promised to the souls of the brethren and the members of the Confraternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel, namely, that the Blessed Vigin will assist by her continual intercession, suffrages and merits and also by her special protection, particularly on the Saturday after death (which has been consecrated to her by the Church), the souls of the brothers and the members of the Confraternity departing this life in charity who shall have worn the habit, and shall have observed chastity according to their particular state of life, and also have recited the Little Office or, if unable to read, have kept the fasts of the Church, and have abstained from the use of meat on Wednesdays and Saturdays, unless the Feast of the Nativity of Our Divine Lord should fall on one of those days."

A friend sent me the following information. In an Apostolic Letter issued for the Sixth Centenary of the Sabbatine Privilege in 1922 (NB: I could NOT find this complete apostolic letter after hours of scouring the internet and the Vatican website, just this particular quote), Pope Pius XI, wrote, "It surely ought to be sufficient to merely exhort all the members...to persevere in the holy exercised which have been prescribed for the gaining of the indulgences to which they are entitled and particularly for gaining of that indulgence which is the principal and the greatest of them all, namely, that called the Sabbatine."

However, I did find another apostolic letter from Pope Pius XII issued in 1950 in commemoration of the Seventh Centenary of the Brown Scapular that says, "And certainly this most gentle Mother will not delay to open, as soon as possible, through Her intercession with God, the gates of Heaven for Her children who are expiating their faults in Purgatory--trust based on that Promise known as the Sabbatine Privilege."

Since the time of Pope John XXII, sixteen popes have added the weight of their approval to this Privilege. The debate goes on.

For my parents' sakes, I hope it is true. I do know that my experiences with Byzantine Catholics has encouraged me have faith in things that haven't been officially declared by the Church. The East considers the West, the Roman Catholic Church, to be the "Church of Rules." What they have held as tradition for centuries doesn't need to be legislated (e.g. Mary's Assumption). For centuries many, but not all, Carmelites have handed down the Sabbatine Privilege as part of the Carmelite tradition. Unfortunately, one good priest told me to keep praying for my parents and another, who enrolled me in the Brown Scapular, said we can have faith in the Sabbatine Privilege.

A friend told me to keep praying for my parents until they tell me to stop. And, so it goes.

"...for those who wear her Habit worthily shall never suffer the pains of hell; and the special love which She exercises towards them will enable them to die well and to join Her in Heaven as soon as her 'suppliant omnipotence' has won the crown for them."
Father Kilian Lynch

Prayers please

Please keep my son in your prayers. This fall he will be either starting Kindergarten as a homeschooler or will be attending a public school.

This particular public school we are considering is very good and teaches the way I would for homeschool and uses the curriculum I would (more or less). However, last year there were 40 Kindergartners, 32 of which got in to the school because of "sibling preference," meaning they had an older sibling who attends and for that reason they are allowed priority over other students. The eight remaining slots were determined by lottery from the pool of applicants. In this case, there were about 110 applicants for those eight spots. Sooo, the odds aren't good that my son will get in.

My husband and I are very torn about what to do. We have planned to homeschool before my son was even born, but this latest option is very appealing but with incredible odds of getting in. I'd appreciate any prayers.


If Remy from Ratatouille ever needs a job

I think he could always find work here...

This is probably my most favorite movie clip ever. Uncle Buck is a classic and my blog just wouldn't be complete without this video. John Candy is hilarious.

Sorry I haven't been blogging much the past few days. Things have been very busy!

09 January 2008

What's it all about, Alfie?

This latest meme has been making the rounds. It's been on Our Lady's Tears, Angela Messenger's new blog, Loved Sinner and Gem of the Ocean, just to mention a few. Since I need a break from digging through some genealogy things, I thought I'd do this meme too.

1. Do you wear a name tag at work? Uh, no. I think my kids know my name. And, back in the day when I was required to wear a badge under penalty of disciplinary action, I still didn't. I had it on my person just to get on the premises and in the building, but it most often was in my lab coat pocket or on my desk or if I wore it it would be clipped to my sleeve since it really got in the way of using most types of equipment and I would never be caught dead wearing one in those badge holders with the strap the goes around your neck. Never. I did work in a super secured building that had super secret stuff that I had to know the secret hand shake to get in, and I only wore a badge then because I feared people like those from the X-Files would haul me away if they saw me without it. Otherwise, with folks in my usual R&D lab, no badge. I understand why some people need to wear badges, but I detest them and think they are very 1984ish.

2. What kind of car do you drive? Black Honda Civic with two car seats crammed in.

3. What do you order when you go to Taco Bell? Hubby hates Taco Bell. After living on the West Coast with some really good Mexican food, Taco Bell is just miserable. But, I order the Chicken Supreme Chalupas. If we could only get some of the "better" Mexican food chains here, like Dell Taco, Taco Time, etc!!

4. Have you ever had a garage sale? Yes, once. Am contemplating doing it again since I have a great deal of baby items, but am considering giving these things to Total Life Care Centers. I love garage sales and would like to have another one, but the idea of having one and the actual doing of it are worlds apart.

5. What color is your iPod?
Don't own one. I have hearing loss and tinnitus, so NOTHING gets put in my ears.

6. What kind of dog do you have? Never had a dog. Only cats. First cat was a long-haired black Persian named Shalom and every other cat since has been a Seal Point Siamese.

7. What's for dinner tonight?
Chicken breasts stuffed with broccoli and cheese.

8. What is the last alcoholic beverage you had?
When we were in Ireland five years ago, I drank beer since it was cheaper than pop. Got pregnant. Haven't had a drink since. Ha ha. Actually, I haven't really had a drink since because I've either been pregnant or nursing. I did have a strawberry margarita last summer, but that's it. I don't really drink much cuz I just don't like the taste.

9. Stupidest thing you ever did with your cell phone? Thought the battery was dead when it really the phone had just turned itself off from inactivity. I've only had it a month!

10. Last time you were sick?
Sniffles throughout December

11. How long is your hair?
Way longer than it should be. When I was little, I always had to have it very short. So, now that I'm older, I let it grow until I can't stand it any more then cut it to shoulder length.

12. Are you happy right now? Yes

13. What did you say last? "Sleep tight." It was nap time for my kids.

14. Who came over last? My parents-in-law showed up late last Friday night UNANNOUNCED. They had driven all the way in from WI to see the Pompeii exhibit at the Science Museum and stopped by to see if we wanted to go out for dinner. My husband was at his grad class and my kids and house were a mess. My son was on his bed for something he had done and my daughter had just pulled her pants off and was running around in a diaper. In walk my PIL. Couldn't you just hug 'em?

15. Do you drink beer? See #8. Only if cheaper than pop :)

16. Have your brothers or sisters ever told you that you were adopted? No, but my brother insisted he was since he had blue eyes and my parents both had brown and was traumatized by the thought for a long while. I have green eyes, so what does that say about me?

17. What is your favorite key chain on your keys? I have a metal ring and keys. Period. No schmaltz.

18. What did you get for graduation? An antique hope chest that is now in my daughter's room.

19. Whats in your pockets?

20. Who introduced you to Dane Cook? Eh?

21. Has someone ever made you a Build-A-Bear? The Christmas before last, my brother and his family visited from Switzerland and they HAD to go to the Mall of America and make several. That's the ONLY time.

22. What DVD is in your DVD player?
Just finished Bleak House.

23. What's something fun you did today?
Had lunch with hubby and the kids.

24. Who is/was the principal of your high school? Some lady who looked like George's mother from Seinfeld. However, the assistant principle went to jail (Stillwater State Pen) for some sexual abuse. Always thought he was a bit on the creepy side.

25. Has your house ever been TP'd? Yes, and I was a culprit once or twice myself.

26.What do you think of when you hear the word "meow"? Cat fight.

27. What are you listening to right now?
My son just woke up from his nap and he's rambling on about something.

28. What are you drinking?
Coke, the hard stuff, not diet.

29. What is your favorite aisle at Wal-Mart?
I don't do Walmart.

30. When is your mom's birthday? Feb 20

31. When is your birthday? Dec 24

32. What's the area code for your cell phone? 651

33. Where did you buy the shirt you're wearing now? U of Washington bookstore...it's pretty darn old.

34. Is there anything hanging from your rear view mirror? No, but hubby's car has one of my scrunchies on it.

35. How many states in the US have you been to? I haven't been to many of the Eastern states. I still need to visit that third of the US. I've been to 26, and three Canadian provinces like Sanctus Belle mentioned. I think I've seen more of other countries than my own. Am sure that would disappoint my grandfather who always said his grandkids should see the US since it had a lot to offer.

36. What kind of milk do you drink? 2%

37. What are you going to do after this?
Get my daughter out of her crib and start dinner.

38. Who was the last person you went shopping with? Aside from immediate family, my aunt and brother.

39. What is your favorite fruit?

40. What about your favorite dessert? Way back when, Mr. Steak used to have a Hot Fudge Sundae Cake that I loved. It's one of those things I hope is in heaven. And brownies.

41. What is something you need to go shopping for?
Diapers, paper napkins.

42. Do you have the same name as one of your relatives? Yes, a great-aunt, but I'm not named after her.

43. What kind of car does one of your siblings drive?
VW Passat Wagon (he lives in Switzerland so that's an SUV over there!)

44. Do you like pickles? Not really, I do like Bread and Butter pickles though.

45. How about olives?
Not a big fan. Will eat them on pizza or in taco salad, but I don't buy them myself.

46. What is your favorite kind of gum? Don't chew gum, but I used to like Big Red.

47. What is your favorite kind of juice? Fruit punch or orange

48. Do you have any tan lines? Hardy ever. I stay out of the sun since I just burn.

49. What hospital were you born in?
St. Joseph's, St. Paul, MN

An increasingly branching and broken tree

My college reunion is coming up. It's hard to believe it's been two DECADES since I did the "college thing." It's also hard to believe it's been decades that I have been researching my family tree. Today a lot of genealogy is online. Sometimes a quick internet search can uncover generations of one's family, but there's nothing that can substitute for digging through the myriad of records yourself.

Last night I spent a few hours at the Minnesota Historical Society pouring over death records. For those who have no interest in genealogy, you would probably rather have your finger nails torn off than to sit at a microfilm reader and peruse death records. For me, it is interesting. There's something about uncovering a mystery, solving a puzzle or making connections that is fascinating. I also learn a great deal about my family and the lives they lived, history, geography, politics, etc.

I have also learned about the effects of divorce from a genealogical perspective.

Once I find a couple that has divorced, I know that searching for descendants in their tree has now become more difficult. Once the parents divorce, it seems to echo down through the subsequent generations. Often times there are multiple marriages and each of these marriages has children. Those with multiple marriages also have spouses with multiple marriages. The family tree doesn't just grow vertically through the generations, but horizontally as more and more spouses are added.

An example that is closer to home is my own uncle. He and my aunt divorced years ago. Both are remarried outside the Church. Their spouses had also been married previously and have other children. My aunt and uncle had four children. Their eldest son is divorced and now living with a girlfriend. My aunt and uncle's eldest daughter is divorced, had another relationship that produced a child, and is now married to a man with other prior marriages and children. The youngest daughter of this aunt and uncle just ended her marriage of nearly 20 years. Only the youngest son is still married.

In other families in my tree, once a divorce happens, even if it is was generations ago, the odds are that I have my work cut out for me finding all the marriages, spouses and children. I don't know all the psychology behind this. I don't know if divorce is brought about by a combination of things, like socio-economic status, religion or lack of it, alcohol abuse, education rates, mental illness, etc. Is divorce a result of these things or a contributing factor to these things? All I know, as someone gathering data, is that divorce shatters families and has long term ramifications on the future marital stability of their progeny's marriages.

Some data reportedly indicates that Catholics divorce at the same rate of the general population. I both agree and disagree. My family is Catholic through and through. I can't find many divorces at all in my family except recently. And, it seems, once it happens it's like a run-away train. Like the example of my uncle. There was no divorce in the family for centuries and then within two generations my aunt and uncle divorced and three of their four children divorced. That's a huge increase, from zero to 75%.

I have also found from digging through the death records of families where divorce is rampant, that many times an elderly parent dies alone. For some reason, instead of dying at one of their children's homes and having the child be the informant on the death certificate, the person dies in their own home and an unknown informant provides the coroner the person's information. Often times, the information is far from correct.

Further, taking the research to the next step is to visit the cemetery where the majority of those in this particular family are buried. In this case, there isn't a large family plot, like in some branches of my family, where generations are buried together. Instead, even though they are buried in a small cemetery, only two members of this rather large family are buried together. The rest are scattered throughout the cemetery. Two, despite leaving grown children behind, do not even have headstones. Only the sextant records record their being interred there.

Even as a person just gathering genealogical data, one can see the effects of divorce on the family.

The worst reconciliation is better than the best divorce.

- Cervantes

08 January 2008

The old and new math ain't so different

I only wish Pa could be my banker. Proof that 25 divided by 5 is 14.

Abbott and Costello's brand of math. Seven officers split 28 doughnuts and get 13 each. If only I could use this type of math in my meal planning.

Tom Lehrer teaches some arithmetic.

07 January 2008

Epiphany home blessing

Several years ago I spent Epiphany in Naplion, Greece. In Greece, Epiphany is celebrated with a blessing of the waters. When we were there, it seemed the entire village was assembled at the water front and a huge ceremony took place. My husband and I watched all the pomp from our perch on the hillside. The town had a huge fort on top of a very high hill. We climbed up all the steps to the fort only to find that there was a paved road that we could've taken instead!

Epiphany is the feast of Ayía Theofánia, or Fóta, which celebrates the day when the “kalikántzari” or hobgoblins that appeared during the period of Christmas are re-banished to the netherworld by the church’s rites. During Epiphany, waters are blessed and evil spirits are banished. At lakeside, seaside or riverside locations, the priests throw a cross into the water and young locals dive to compete for the privilege and blessing of finding it. For his gallantry, the first man who recovers the cross is said to have good luck throughout the coming year. The day long festival also features the blessing of small boats and ships, and later on affords entertainment, music, dancing and food to all those present.

One thing I love that St. Agnes does is bless chalk during Mass that you can take home for your own home blessing. Below are the instructions for the Epiphany Home Blessing from the parish bulletin:

All assemble by the front door (or outside of it, if weather permits)

Leader: Peace to this house.
All: And to all who live or enter here.
Leader: Wise men came from the east, to pay homage to the Lord, and opening their treasures they offered precious gifts.
All: Gold for His kingship, Incense to proclaim Him God, and Myrrh for the day of His burial.

Mary's Canticle (Luke 1:46-55) is then read (by one or all). The verse and response are repeated, and the Lord's Prayer is recited, before continuing with:

Leader: All from Sheba shall come.
All: Bearing gold and frankincense.
Leader: O Lord, hear my prayer.
All: And let my cry come unto You.
Leader: Let us pray. (All pray briefly in silence.) Father you revealed your Son to the nations, by the guidance of a star. Lead us to your glory and our eternal home by the light of faith in Jesus Christ our Lord.
All: Amen.

With chalk, or crayon, an inscription is made above the door:

20 + C + M + B + 08

The letters represent the Magi. The enclosing year represents the timeless God. Each cross marks a point of the compass or "all the nations."

Leader: Arise! Shine! Jerusalem, your light has come.
All: Kings by your shining radiance.
Leader: Lord, Almighty God, bless this home. Let here abide health and goodness, humility and faith, and every triumph over sin. Let Your Word be obeyed and fulfilled here, and thanksgiving be ever made to You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and forever.
All: Amen

All then re-enter the home, singing God's Praises in a suitable Christmas/Epiphany hymn.

05 January 2008


Self Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird, 1940

I went to the Frida Kahlo exhibit at the Walker.

Terry talked me into it.

It was Free Family First Saturday. IT.WAS.CROWDED. We got there just as the museum was opening. Traffic around the Walker was unbelievable and it took about four lights of waiting in a line of cars just to turn the corner to the museum. Managed to get a parking spot right near the door in the parking garage. As we drove in front of the museum, you could see a huge line of people already waiting to get in to the exhibit. I think we were some of the last folks allowed in before they stopped the line. When we went out, I cannot even tell you where the end of the line was. Timbuktu would be pretty close.

This painting was my favorite. Can't tell you why, but I loved the monkeys in her paintings.

I'm very glad I went. You really need to see her work in person. I wasn't aware of just how surreal much of her work is.

The exhibit runs to the 20th of January. Go.See.It.

04 January 2008

The flanking on the right

This wasn't part of Sun Tzu's play book

With all the discussion lately of "psychologically expensive friends," I realized last night that I have fallen off of a friend's Christmas card list. This person had been a friend to the family for decades and after my parents died, was a friend to me also. That was until a year or so ago when things suddenly changed and I was no longer on her daily call list. I haven't heard from her in about a year and now I didn't even get a Christmas card.

I know I should initiate contact with her since she could be ailing, but I do know that something "happened" that dramatically changed the dynamics of our friendship awhile back. At that time, I addressed the topic and told her if there was something I had done, I was very sorry. Instead of telling me what was wrong, or if I had indeed done something, she merely said she couldn't remember what it was and that we would just move on.

A year of silence isn't exactly my definition of moving on.

This friend, and those like her, are psychologically expensive in a variety of ways. To disagree with them is, at a minimum, very awkward and disruptive, and can result in the end of the friendship. I was never cut from the same mold as this lady and it always caused some strained moments. We don't have to be two peas in a pod to get along, right? However, I don't think she sees things this way.

Oddly, I think she views me as not rad-trad enough.

I joined St. Agnes back when I was in college (in the 80s). I didn't join St. Agnes because it was arguably the traddiest place in the diocese at the time, but because I loved the Mass as it was said here without distractions or disruptions. The litany of other great things about the parish and its trad pedigree were nice, but none of these where what drew me. I was peacefully ignorant of most of the debate between the trads and the liberals.

About the time I had my son, this friend and I really started to become close. But, there were always undercurrents about how "this or that" was best. Her opinions weren't limited to religious things, but nearly every aspect of my life. There was a great deal of pressure on how I raised my son. If I didn't use cloth diapers, make my own baby food, nurse for two years, homeschool, etc., then I just wasn't passing muster. This way was the ONLY way. Advice for dealing with others not as like-minded as myself was to cut them off, my brother included. I was told that my saintly aunt, who has a simple faith and doesn't approach things intellectually at all but from her heart, didn't believe in the Real Presence because if she did she wouldn't have these questions about her faith. Her questions were like those of St. Therese, not brought about by pride but by love.

This friend, and those around her, walk precariously close the sedevacantist camp. She believes in a great number of conspiracy theories and was critical of me when I didn't endeavor to learn all about them. For me, these theories, along with some unapproved apparitions and questionable assertions from a few priests (the Third Secret of Fatima cover-up for example), cause more paranoia than they do to further my faith and draw me closer to God.

When my brother stopped by on his way back to Switzerland, he was talking about the recent military surge in Iraq. He was explaining how the surge worked. It wasn't a matter of having more troops to fight, the plan wasn't merely to out number the enemy. Previously, the military would come into a town and get rid of the bad guys and then they would move on. Once the military left a particular town, the bad guys would move right back in. This was very chaotic for the civilians of Iraq, but also a waste of time and resources for the military. With the surge, once a town is cleared of the bad guys, some of our good guys stay so that the town remains safe and free. That's how the surge is working.

We are told that the Gates of Hell will never prevail against the Church. The sedevacantists believe we have no Pope, or worse that the Pope is really an anti-Pope. From my point of view, to have no Pope, when one is clearly elected, would be like the Gates of Hell prevailing. Jesus came and established His Church. He cleaned out the bad guys, leaving His successor to protect and lead us.

If only my psychologically expensive friend expended more energy in drawing closer to Christ than looking over her shoulder for all the bad guys she believes are lurking behind her.

Maybe it's best just to let things be, but I think the charitable thing to do is write her a nice letter and touch base. In this case, distance is probably a blessing, but estrangement and discord are never good.

All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved.
Sun Tzu

03 January 2008

Knights templar and conspirators

Hubby just started back at school and guess what book he has to read for a class in an engineering masters program. The DaVinci Code. Yep, the local CINO university, aside from promoting the wacky New Age stuff I previously posted about, now has folks spending their money on this drivel. The prof's argument was that the book includes a lot of "group think" mentality that isn't included in the movie, which is what he is interested in exploring, sooooo one must read this particular book to understand this concept which has never, ever been covered in any other, more standard, text book. A head-shaker of a choice of texts.

But, while Opus Dei is portrayed as a super-secret-blood-thirsty-killing-machine-of-rabid-Catholic-religious-types trying to cover up a super-secret-secret that could rock all of mankind, I have some interesting things going on in my family genealogy. This time it's the Scottish that are keeping things interesting. I've known for some time about my "reputed" Logan connections to a few things. These being (dun-dun-dun) the Knights Templar and the Gowrie Conspiracy.

Who knows, maybe if I keep exploring these theories and my French lines, the Opus Dei and Mary Magdelene claims will actually pan out. The DaVinci code is a historical text book, right?

Here are some tidbits from a website I found on my supposed ancestor, Sir Robert Logan, the 7th and last Baron of Restalrig:

In October 13th 1307 while the Templars were being arrested the Templar Fleet stationed at La Rochelle quietly slipped away. According to tradition and a lot of evidence it carried the records of the Order, and the treasure of the Templar Preceptory of Paris, taking them to the West and East coast of Scotland. Some of these ships must have come to Leith as Berwick was in English hands.

Let us leave the Templars for a moment to tell two strange stories concerning Sir Robert Logan of Restalrig. The first one concerns the discovery of the skull of Sir Robert Logan during the restoration of South Leith Church in 1848. A coffin was found at the West end of the North aisle, under a room used by the Kirk Session. The inspector of Works brought it to the attention of Dr David Robertson and they decided to open it. The coffin was covered with purple velvet. A few taps of a hammer knocked the lid into fragments. Within the coffin they saw a mass of human bones huddled together and in the middle, a human skull. The strange thing was that no lower jaw was found although the skeleton was otherwise complete. The conclusion they came to was these were the mortal remains of Sir Robert Logan. As according to history the skeleton of Sir Robert Logan was put on trial for his involvement in what was called the Gowrie conspiracy against James VI and disinherited. The remains being reburied at South Leith Church. However, would the remains of a man accused of high treason been buried at South Leith Church? Some historians don’t think so, and if they were, the question is why?

Could there be a darker reason? Near to Dunbar lies Fast Castle. By marriage the Logans held the castle between 1552-1606. In 1594 John Napier of Merchiston was asked by Sir Robert Logan to find treasure that was said to have been buried within the castle. The contract between them is found today at Trinity College, Cambridge. Not only did John Napier invent Logarithms as a method of calculation, he was also involved in the Black Arts. He hoped to find the treasure by supernatural means. The contract was to be destroyed once all the conditions were fulfilled, and as the contract was never destroyed and providing the search actually took place, it is assumed the treasure was never found. According to Napier in his memoirs the search did take place. He went to the dreary castle with Sir Robert Logan and the wild Earl of Bothwell both armed to the teeth. So what was the connection between the supposed treasure at Fast Castle and the remains of Sir Robert Logan at South Leith Church? How could someone accused of treason be buried in consecrated ground? The chances are he never was a traitor.

As Laing, a famous historian of the last century said: In regard to Logan himself, it was well known that according to a barbarous custom of the time when it was determined to implicate him by means of forged letters in the Gowrie Conspiracy, was disinterred and brought into court.

The connection is the fact that Sir Robert Logan and the de Lestalric’s before them were Templar Knights to a man, and what Sir Robert Logan was trying to find at Fast Castle was Templar treasure, the treasure from the Preceptory of Paris. This was the reason he was disinherited. So what was the significance of the skull with no jawbone, and why was he buried at South Leith Church? The answer will be on this site shortly when we investigate the Cult of the head”, the Templars, and Freemasonry.

A little bit about my supposed 10th great-grandfather, Sir Robert Logan, 7th Baron of Restalrig and his involvement in the Gowrie Conspiracy.

Sir Robert Logan of Restalrig
1555 - 1606

The subject of a unique trial for treason. The Logan family were wealthy landowners, who possessed the Barony of Restalrig from the 14th Century and lived in Lochend Castle. Sir Robert's father died while he was young, but he went on to inherit property in Ayrshire, Coldingham (Scottish Borders). He also inherited Fast Castle in the Scottish Borders from his mother who had taken Alexander, 5th Lord Home, as her second husband.

Logan died in 1606 and was buried in his family tomb at South Leith Parish Church. However, some two years later, suspicions were raised that Logan had been involved in the 'Gowrie Conspiracy' a plot to assassinate King James VI in 1600. The plot had been foiled and the principal conspirators, John Ruthven, the 3rd Earl of Gowrie and his brother, Alexander, Master of Ruthven, had been killed in Perth and their bodies taken to Edinburgh to be displayed.

In 1609, Logan was summoned to appear in court and his body exhumed and laid before the court. With Logan in no position to defend himself, he was found guilty on the flimsiest of evidence and his estates were forfeit.

But, then there is the reversal of attainder by King James...

Reversal of Attainder as follows:
(this is a "pardon" for the minor children of Logan, reinstating their
rights, but not returning their money.)

"James, by the Grace of God, King of Great Britain, France, and Ireland
and Defender of the Faith, to all our loyal subjects, to whom the present
letters shall come, greeting, know ye, that, understanding that, on account of
the process and award of forfeiture made and passed against the late Robert
Logan of Restalrig and Alexander, Jonet, and Anna Logan, his lawful children, the said children were rendered incapable of enjoying and possessing any lands, officies or dignities within our Kingdoms, and calling to mind that the said children at the time of their said fathers forfeiture were all minors, and did not at all participate in any of the crimes for which he suffered forfeiture, so that these ought in no way to be imputed to them, or turned to their prejudice, therefore for divers other good causes and considerations of our special grace, favour and clemency, with the advice and consent of the Lord Commissioners for managing our affairs in our absence, we have recapacitated and reinstated, as by these presents we do reinstate, recapacitate, and restore, the foresaid Alexander, Jonet, and Anna Logan to their former good fame, and secular honours and dignities whatsoever, and we have granted, as by these presents we do grant to them our full power to bear testimony in causes, to exercise and use all other lawful acts, as well in judgment as without the same in prosecution ofall their actions and causes, to be capable of holding all dignities and officies to enjoy, use, and possess, or in any manner whatever have right to all their own lands, farms, possessions and assedations whatsoever, or which they may in the future happen to acquire (otherwise than by succession to their foresaid late father, to which these presents shall in no way extend), in the same manner and as freely in all respects, as they were able to do before the award of forfeiture was pronounced against their foresaid late father; Likewise, we of our Royal Power and Authority do relieve them and their posterity from all infamy, scandal and ignominy which could be imputed to them by reason of the said forfeiture, so that henceforth these shall in no way be turned to their loss or injury either in judgment or without the same; wherefore We command all our lieges and subjects that none shall dare or presume to injure their good fame by word or deed, by reason of the said forfeiture under every penalty which they could incur against our Royal Majesty in this particular. In Witness wherefore we have directed our Great Seal to be appended to the presents at Whitehall the second day of April, the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and sixteen and in the forty-ninth and fourteenth years of our reign."
[2 April 1616]

02 January 2008

The local friendly library

My tax dollars at work actually worked this time...

I went crazy reserving a few items. But, was happy to find...surprise! surprise!

Into great silence
[videorecording] = Le grand silence = Die grosse Stille / Philip Gröning

I have been wanting to see this video for some time. The St. Paul library has five copies and there are six holds...I'm six of six.

Also, some other items I have reserved...

Bleak house
[videorecording]/by Charles Dickens; a BBC, WGBH Boston co-production

Jane Eyre
[videorecording] / BBC; WGBH Boston; produced by Diederick Santer; writer, Sandy Welch

and T is for trespass
[book] Sue Grafton
I'm only 156 of 160 on the hold list.

The modern manger

The practical things I am thankful for.

As I knelt for Communion yesterday in front of the creche at St. Agnes, I realized just how lucky I am with all the modern things I have been blessed with. I've heard that God chose this time, given all the millenia that has come before and will come after, to have you live your life because it is the time best suited to you to get you to Heaven.

I don't know what this time period says about me, but I don't know if I could've toughed it out back in the time of Herod. I don't know if I could've handled life without all the modern conveniences. I'm not high-maintenance, but life just a few generations ago seems much harder than what I deal with.

My grandmother cooked upwards of 30 meals a day. All this was done on a cast iron stove that used wood or coal or corn cobs for fuel in the firebox. There was no dial to set the temperature, no way to easily regulate the heat other than controlling how much wood (fuel) you used and adjusting the draft.

Grandma didn't have a microwave, refrigerator, dishwasher, vacuum, non-stick pans, or even electricity until the 30s, to help her get dinner on the table. During the winter, a good deal of the food she served was from what she had canned during the fall and stored in the cellar or basement.

I'm thankful I don't have to run out in the snow and unbearable cold to use the outhouse. I have running water, not water I have to gather or pump. I don't have to worry that the pump or lines might freeze or that if I want warm water I have to make sure there is some reservoir in the stove. My house is reasonably warm and my kids don't have to wear caps to bed to keep out the chill.

Clothes are bought in a store and my underwear isn't made out of flour sacks. Sewing is a hobby and not a necessity. I've never had to darn any socks.

The only manual labor I do when it comes to laundry is carrying the clothes up and down the stairs since I have a washer and dryer that do most all of the work for me. I don't have to make my own soap from ashes from the stove and fat from slaughtered animals.

My kids get their bedtime stories read to them under electric lights, not oil lamps that need to be filled almost daily with oil and chimneys cleaned of soot.

I can't fathom how my grandmother did it, but Mary and Joseph must've been made of some strong stuff to have endured without, at times, even having a home. At this time of year I worry that my kids will be cold at night if they push off their covers, but sometimes forget that at least they have a bed and blankets and pillows. We all have a roof over our heads, food on the table, clean clothes in the drawers, and electrical outlets for all our appliances, computers and gizmos.

And, the only animals I have to share my home with use a litter box.