31 March 2008

Hunting Elephants


MATHEMATICIANS hunt elephants by going to Africa, throwing out everything that is not an elephant, and catching one of whatever is left. Experienced mathematicians will attempt to prove the existence of at least one unique elephant before proceeding to step 1 as a subordinate exercise. Professors of mathematics will prove the existence of at least one unique elephant and then leave the detection and capture of an actual elephant as an exercise for their graduate students.

COMPUTER SCIENTISTS hunt elephants by exercising Algorithm A:
1. Go to Africa
2. Start at the Cape of Good Hope.
3. Work northward in an orderly manner, traversing the continent alternately east and west.
4. During each traverse pass:
a) catch each animal seen
b) Compare each animal caught to a known elephant
c) Stop when a match is detected.

Experienced COMPUTER PROGRAMMERS modify Algorithm A by placing a known elephant in Cairo to ensure that the algorithm will terminate. Assembly language programmers prefer to execute Algorithm on their hands and knees.

ENGINEERS hunt elephants by going to Africa, catching gray animals at random, and stopping when any one of them weighs within plus or minus 15 percent of any previously observed elephant.

ECONOMISTS don't hunt elephants, but they believe that if elephants are paid enough, they will hunt themselves.

STATISTICIANS hunt the 1st animal they see N times, and call it an elephant.

CONSULTANTS don't hunt elephants, and many have never hunted anything at all, but they can be hired by the hour to advise those people who do. Operations Research Consultants can also measure the correlation of hat size and bullet color to the efficiency of elephant-hunting strategies, if someone else will only identify the elephants.

POLITICIANS don't hunt elephants, but they will share the elephants you catch with the people who voted for them.

LAWYERS don't hunt elephants, but they do follow the herds around arguing about who owns the droppings. Software lawyers will claim that they own an entire herd based on the look and feel of one dropping.

VICE PRESIDENTS of engineering, research, and development try hard to hunt elephants, but their staffs are designed to prevent it. When the vice president does get to hunt elephants, the staff will try to ensure that all possible elephants are completely pre-hunted before the vice president gets to see them. If the vice president does see a non-prehunted elephant, the staff will :
1. compliment the vice president's keen eyesight,
2. enlarge itself to prevent any recurrence.

SENIOR MANAGERS set broad elephant-hunting policy based on the assumption that elephants are just like field mice, but with deeper voices.

QUALITY ASSURANCE INSPECTORS ignore the elephants and look for mistakes the other hunters made when they were packing the jeep.

SALESPEOPLE don't hunt elephants but spend their time selling elephants they haven't caught, for delivery two days before the season opens. Software salespeople ship the first thing they catch and write up an invoice for an elephant. Hardware salespeople catch rabbits, paint them gray, and sell them as "Desktop Elephants"

30 March 2008

Mariology thoughts on Divine Mercy Sunday

I'm about half way through Daughter Zion, a very short but incredibly dense work by then Cardinal Ratzinger.

Earlier in the week, I read Sue Grafton's, T is for Trespass, in short order, but just over 70 pages of Daughter Zion is taking me more time and there are things I might not ever fully grasp...they are over my head.

From Daughter Zion:

"Of course, mere tolerance in the face of manifold customs will not suffice to justify Marian piety. If its basis is as negligible as might appear from the considerations just mentioned, then the continued cultivation of Marian piety would be nothing but a custom contrary to truth. Such customs either wither away because their root, the truth, has dried up, or they continue to proliferate contrary to conviction, and thus destroy the correlation between truth and life. They thereby lead to a poisoning of the intellectual-spiritual organism, the results of which are incalculable." (Daughter Zion, p. 11, Ignatius Press).

This was especially evident this weekend when we were in Barnes and Noble. I had the kids with me in the "Christianity" section while hubby was off looking at the engineering section in peace. While I was looking for any good biblical commentaries (not likely at B&N, but I was biding my time) two girls showed up in the New Age section right next to me (curious placement of books, eh?). They were busy trying to find a good set of Tarot cards and a box of some such other item that would give them special insight. I was struck that devotion to Mary has survived all this time because Mary brings us to Christ, while the other "destroy the correlation between truth and life" as Cardinal Ratzinger mentioned.

"If, however, the unity of man is to be understood in accordance with the faith of the councils, Mary's maternity is most intimately involved with the mystery of the Incarnation as such and reaches into the very heart of the mystery. Thus the christological affirmation of God's Incarnation in Christ becomes necessarily a Marian affirmation, as de facto it was from the beginning. Conversely: only when it touches Mary and becomes Mariology is Christology itself as radical as the faith the Church requires." (p. 35)

"Thus in Mariology, Christology was defended. Far from belittling Christology, it signifies the comprehensive triumph of a confession of faith in Christ which has achieved authenticity." (p.36)

May God's Divine Mercy find the poor lost souls who have misplaced their faith and wasted their energy on false gods.

28 March 2008

Think spring!!

One reason I miss Washington State -- a real and substantial SPRING

Since I've been a little under the weather the past few days, I was thinking that it would be nice that the weather would change both figuratively and literally.

It's time for the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival (April 1 - 30). When we had visitors while we lived in Seattle (actually Everett), we always took them to the Skagit Valley to see the tulip fields if they were in season. I love it there. My secret desire has always been to own a flower shop. To see the tulip fields in bloom --incredible.

Makes me feel better already!

 Barns and tulips

27 March 2008

Coming to a home theatre near you

If you like renting movies and are looking for family friendly selections with the convenience of Net Flix, check out

Faith and Family Flix

25 March 2008

That's nice

Easter dinner was wonderfully uneventful and everyone had a good time.

My mother-in-law has been going back to church on occasion (she's Lutheran) and was telling us all about Easter service at her nearby parish. I think that's wonderful and pray she finally gets around to looking across the Tiber, but fear there may be something blocking her view.

Like the tulle pastel streamers they hung all over the church from the altar for Easter Sunday services. She was raving about them. Must've looked like warp drive at Disney World.

But comrades...

I swear I closed that account back when Khrushchev was busy toe-tapping.

Although I'm a bit under the weather today, this made me laugh. Yes, another one of those spam e-mails telling me they will render my poor defenseless account inactive (at least I assume that's what it says!) unless I send them all my personal information, including my shoe size and inseam.

So far I've won the Irish Lottery and had accounts all over the world I didn't know about. Lucky me.

Wait, maybe I need to consult with my husband about these. Hmmmm.

Honestly, a Russian account and a notice in Russian. Maybe it is real? Ya think!?


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If you love something...

set it free

I'm debating whether I should let the lute-playing jester guy on my blog go free or keep him in indentured servitude.

Thinking he was cute, I added him to my blog, but because my computer was so bogged down with junk, he never moved. He was completely still. Until I had computer problems and had to clean up my hard drive and he started to move.

Now I find him a bit annoying/distracting and wonder if everyone else does too.

Should he stay...

or should he go?

Please let me know your thoughts. I'd consider a trade or am even open to adoption.

24 March 2008

Breaking the law

My first job was at a fast food joint slinging burgers and fries. I usually was one of the lucky ones who had to close the store. This appealed to my autonomous nature since the manager was too busy with paperwork to get in my hair. However, a little bit more oversight was called for since most of the guys that closed with me would smoke a little wacky-tobacky while standing on the stainless steel counters with their heads up in the exhaust hood. They all drove souped-up Chevelles and we listened to Judas Priest blaring on their boom boxes while we were closing down the store.

Despite this metal-rock indoctrination and influence, I didn't end up turning to a life of crime or drugs or even buying alcohol when I was underage. I've never joined a terrorist organization. It really makes me wonder what influences Kathleen Soliah, aka Sarah Jane Olson, was exposed to that made her land so far afield. Maybe if I'd have listened to Kiss or Metallica I would understand better.

The problem with Ms. Soliah is that she is unrepentant. Not just unrepentant, but defiant. She was angry, hostile and antagonistic every time we saw her on TV. Then 9-11 happened and the country was reminded just how hideous her crimes were.

Her friends came out to support her and claimed she was a model citizen. The small problem was these people had left the radical days of the 60s and 70s in the past. Ms. Soliah seemed to fit into mainstream upper-class life, but it was clear she was one person who hadn't moved beyond the extreme notions she had held decades earlier. Appearances be damned -- criminals don't stand on street corners with signs around their necks. No, some live among us, look like us, work where we do and go to the same PTA meetings. Just because she hasn't held a gun to anyone's head in the last 20 years doesn't exonerate her of her crimes.

That being said, I'm very much for mercy and leniency. I'm not one who supports the death penalty. However, the clincher for me is her unwillingness to see what she had done was wrong. It was evil. As a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army, she was complicit in a murder and a slew of other appalling crimes.

It was solely by the grace of God that the bombs planted under a police car did not go off. Soliah said at her hearing, "I want to make it clear, Your Honor, that I did not make that bomb. I did not possess that bomb. I did not plant that bomb. But under the concept of aiding and abetting, I plead guilty."

I think she misses the concept. What happened to, "I'm incredibly sorry for attempting to murder innocent people."

Oh, and then there's the murder of Myrna Opsahl in the Carmichael Bank robbery. Guess the SLA notion of "a body of dissimilar bodies and organisms living in deep and loving harmony and partnership in the best interest of all within the body" was a platitude they never quite figured out how to put into practice because they were too busy robbing, planting bombs and shooting people.


There I was completely wasting, out of work and down
All inside it's so frustrating as I drift from town to town
Feel as though nobody cares if I live or die
So I might as well begin to put some action in my life

Breaking the law, breaking the law
Breaking the law, breaking the law
Breaking the law, breaking the law
Breaking the law, breaking the law

So much for the golden future, I can't even start
I've had every promise broken, there's anger in my heart
You don't know what it's like, you don't have a clue
If you did you'd find yourselves doing the same thing too
- Judas Priest - Breaking the Law

21 March 2008

Happy Easter

Wishing you a very blessed Easter.
He is risen. Alleluia.

Very moving Good Friday service at St. Agnes today. The Passion was sung in Latin, with the part of Jesus being sung by the bass. Powerful. Went alone since the kids were home with "intestinal disruptions" the last two days, but was able to sit next to a friend from the homeschool group and her family.

Recently heard on the news how Easter is determined. It is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Vernal Equinox. It will not be this early again in our lifetimes (whatever that means!).

My sitemeter said that several people have come to my blog looking for an Easter blessing to say at dinner.

Since it's time to replace the evening Angelus (said at 6pm) with the Regina Caeli, you might be able to use this depending on what time you are having dinner. The book I have, The Catholic Home by M. Gould mentions that this prayer is a practice that used to drive Martin Luther nuts. My Easter dinner will be closer to noon or I'd slip it in even though my Lutheran in-laws would be clueless :)

Queen of heaven, rejoice, alleluia:
The Son whom you merited to bear, alleluia,
Has risen, as He said, alleluia.
Pray for us to God, alleluia.
Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.
For the Lord has truly risen, alleluia.
Let us pray. O God, who gave joy to the world through the resurrection of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, grant we beseech Thee, that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, His Mother, we may obtain the joys of everlasting life. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.


Regina caeli, laetare, alleluia:
Quia quem meruisti portare. alleluia,
Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia,
Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.
Gaude et laetare, Virgo Maria, alleluia.
Quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia.
Oremus. Deus, qui per resurrectionem Filii tui, Domini nostri Iesu Christi, mundum laetificare dignatus es: praesta, quaesumus; ut per eius Genetricem Virginem Mariam, perpetuae capiamus gaudia vitae. Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.


We just say grace, which I have been saying since time immemorial:

Bless us, O Lord, and these, Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Benedic Domine, nos et hæc tua dona quæ de tua largitate sumus sumpturi. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

20 March 2008

And all the trophies go to...

Vincenzo pointed out that Father Z pretty much ran away with all the trophies this year. He should really be docked about 100 votes in each category just to give some other blogs a chance.

After Vincenzo mentioned the awards, I went to check to see how I did. Turns out a few people actually voted for me! Thank you very much. I am genuinely stunned!!

I was nominated in: The Smartest Catholic Blog and The Most Spiritual Catholic Blog

Thank you to whomever nominated and voted for me! (V admitted he nominated and voted for me in the Smartest category).

But to be nominated in the Most Spiritual category? Seriously? I certainly wouldn't describe myself like that, not hardly. Sanctus Belle's blog, Our Lady's Tears, now there's a spiritual blog. Beautiful.

I do have to let my inner nerd show a bit and say that in the Smartest category I received 4 out of a total of 1090 votes. Which is .37%, just over a third of one percent. Wooo hooo! I faired much better in the Most Spiritual category, garnering 6 of 952 votes cast for .63%...nearly double my Smartest percentage. That's almost two-thirds of one percent. Shazam!

Look out Father Z, there's always next year.

Holy Week Schedule for St. Agnes

Vincenzo told me that Father Z is ditching St. Agnes this year and heading to St. Augustine's in South St. Paul. That's just wrong. Plain wrong. I doubt it's because they will be using the 1962 Missale Romanum and more that Father Z just wants to check out the renovation work Father Echert has had done. New marble floors and the elimination of the red shag carpet on the altar and orange indoor-outdoor in the rest of the church. It is worth a look! May you have a blessed Easter, Father, over there on THAT side of the river.

Holy Thursday
9:30am - Matins, Lauds (Tenebrae)
10-11:30am - Confessions in the Chapel
3:30-5pm - Confessions in the Chapel
7:30pm - Mass of the Lord's Supper
8:30-10:30pm - Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at the Altar of Repose

Good Friday
9:30am - Matins, Lauds (Tenebrae)
10-11:30am - Confessions in the Chapel
2pm - Liturgy of Good Friday
3:30-5pm - Confessions in the Chapel
7:30pm - Stations of the Cross

Holy Saturday
9:30am - Matins, Lauds (Tenebrae)
10-11:30am - Confessions in the Chapel
2pm - Blessing of Easter food
3:30-5pm - Confessions in the Chapel
7:30pm - Liturgy of the Easter Vigil

Easter Sunday
Masses at 6:30am, 8:30am, 10am (Latin NO High Mass), 12pm

19 March 2008

When worlds collide

Yes, it is Holy Week...but it is also time to do your NCAA brackets!!

A not-so-graceful movement at The Dance

Since the kids were napping, the house is pretty much clean in anticipation of the rellies visiting on Easter, I completed five loads of laundry yesterday and it's too soon to start cooking anything for Sunday, I spent five minutes and did my picks.

I always have a rough time with the Pac-10 teams that make the tournament because I discount them when maybe I shouldn't. I get burned by this every year, especially if Wazzu (Washington State) makes the cut, because they are the rivals of my alma mater, the University of Washington. I also throw Gonzaga into the mix, even though they aren't in the Pac-10. I then tend to give the Big 10 teams more credit than they deserve. If the Minnesota Gophers ever make the tournament, I will pick them to win. Highlighted below are the Pac-10 teams that are in the tournament and I will probably get them wrong in all my brackets.

Washington State
Arizona State

Oregon State

So, if you are interested in doing the brackets as a group thing, send me an e-mail to swiss-miss at att dot net and I'll create our own little group where we can see which blogger knows their basketball. C'mon...give it a try. I'm using the hometown site at wcco.com/ncaa if you want to check it out.

And, there is an educational value...

A lady in my home school group passed along this link to some school related reasons to do your NCAA picks...it's called Sporting Geography and it has FREE teacher kits that you can down load so the kids AND hubby can learn themselves sumthin'. Here's a blip:

SPORTING GEOGRAPHY is an educational activity kit that complements social studies and math curriculum objectives in grades four through eight. The SPORTING GEOGRAPHY kits provide teachers with reproducible lesson plans and desk maps that can be used at any time.

Art by Vincenzo

Spy this for Spy Wednesday

Vincenzo has struck again with his artistic interpretations of posts. So much for being somber during Holy Week. This picture goes with my prior post (from Monday) on "Do they know it's Easter time." The comments on that post explain a few things, like the one by ArchAngel's Advocate about the hot tub.

But say a prayer
Pray for the other ones
At Eastertime it's hard
But when you're having fun
There's a world outside your window
And it's a world of secularism
Where the only water flowing
Is under the Zamboni resurfacer...

18 March 2008

No fast food

This year, I'm hosting Easter dinner.

Hubby's family doesn't really make holiday dinners the way most folks imagine. One year, dinner came from a can, the gravy from a packet and dessert from Sara Lee. It was all processed and bought. The last Christmas dinner was purchased from Simek's freezer case and set out in the aluminum trays they came in and we ate on paper plates while sitting on the floor. Nothing is wrong with these things, but to have years worth of family holiday dinners this way leaves one yearning for a good home-cooked meal.

Now that my kids are a bit older, I'm having Easter dinner at my house. Growing up we always spent holidays with my mom's family and they did holidays up big. Well, not big per se, but they lovingly cooked and labored to provide a wonderful meal where everyone sat down to a beautiful table with the good china and linen napkins.

And we say grace before meals despite hubby's family being Lutheran.

So, if you're in the neighborhood, you're welcome to dinner.

We're having the prerequisite ham along with...
scalloped potatoes
garlic green beans with bacon and slivered almonds
harvard beets
wild rice
baked cinnamon apples
herbed dinner rolls
and carrot cake for dessert

Mmm, mmmm, mmmmmmm.


The bread book I have, The Secrets of Jesuit Breadmaking, by Brother Rick Curry, SJ, has some good recipes for Holy Week. With the tridiuum starting tomorrow, he has a recipe for Spy Wednesday Biscuits.

Spy Wednesday Biscuits
Total time: 3 hours

1 package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
4 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chilled vegetable shortening, cut into bits
1/2 cup currants, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes and drained
1 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup butter, melted and cooled.

Combine the yeast and water in a small bowl, stirring until yeast is dissolved. Set aside for 5 minutes.

Sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the shortening until the mixture is the texture of coarse cornmeal. Add the currants. Stir in the yeast mixture and buttermilk, just until all the ingredients are moistened.

Grease a baking sheet and sprinkle with cornmeal or line with parchment paper.

Turn out on a floured surface and knead gently for 2 minutes. Roll or pat the dough into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick. Cut into rounds with a 2 1/2 inch floured biscuit cutter. (Scraps can be gently kneaded together and rolled and cut.) Dip each biscuit into the melted butter and place 1 inch apart on the baking sheet. Cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk -- about 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Bake about 15 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm or transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Yield: About 40 biscuits.

17 March 2008

So he says

As I was getting the green Aran sweater from my son's closet that my 82 year-old aunt made for him so he could wear it today (St. Patrick's Day), my son commented that all the astronauts are Irish and all the people in Heaven are Irish.

Smart lad.

Do they know it's Easter time at all?

But say a prayer
Pray for the other ones
At Eastertime it's hard
But when you're having fun
There's a world outside your window
And it's a world of secularism
Where the only water flowing
Is under the Zamboni resurfacer

On a very positive note, the company my husband works for gives the employees the day off on Good Friday. It is very nice that we can spend this time together and make it to Good Friday services instead of trying to find a time where we can meet or my schlepping the kids by myself.

But, it appears that our local CINO university doesn't quite get the meaning of HOLY WEEK. Maybe I shouldn't paint the entire university with such a broad brush, since most of the campus has the week off, but my husband has a class on the evening of Holy Thursday. He's not supposed to, but the prof has scheduled the classes when they are convenient for him instead of adhering to the overall plan that this is a vacation week -- since it's Easter.

Then, there is hockey. My nephews play hockey. They are either practicing or playing all the time. Even on holidays. Often on Sundays. Surprisingly, they don't have a game on Easter...but my brother-in-law, who plays on a men's team, DOES have a game. On Easter. Who schedules a hockey game on Easter?

I don't know the scoop this year, but last year my sister-in-law and her husband couldn't make Easter dinner because they had to work. They sell hot tubs. Must be folks need a good bath after all that Lenten penance. This year, they just plain aren't coming to dinner.

I guess if you miss Easter dinner because of all your other commitments, you can always head to the local fast food joint for a burger and fries. They'll be open.

14 March 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Croagh Patrick
May the blessings of St. Patrick be upon you!

My good Irish Catholic branches come from Connacht, or the West of Ireland where they were banished in the time of Cromwell or so the legend goes. My mother's family was from Newport, just to the north of Croagh Patrick, on Clew Bay. There are many tales and family lore about how my family was chased from Ireland for being river pirates and for their connections to the legendary pirate queen, Grace O'Malley (I'm descended from some O'Malleys). I've visited the area a few times. Most recently, with my husband and 80 year-old aunt. We didn't make the pilgrimage up the mountain (thank goodness I had my aunt with us to provide a good excuse for not going!). To the south of Newport is the larger town of Westport, near the base of Croagh Patrick. This is where we stayed the night and where the blessings of the good St. Patrick and the luck of Irish found us...my son was conceived here, back in my ancestral homeland, 160 years after my great-great-grandfather left for America.

From Catholic Encyclopedia on Croagh Patrick: A mountain looking out on the Atlantic ocean from the southern shore of Clew Bay, in the County Mayo, and called "the Sinai of Ireland." In pagan times it was known as Cruachan Aigli. It rises in a perfect cone to a height of 2510 feet. The account given below is taken from sources that post-date the saint's death by three hundred years. There are, however, good reasons to believe that the traditions they embody are genuine, St. Patrick was careworn and fatigued when he came to this remote part of the country. He longed to retire for a while to refresh his soul in solitude, and for that purpose on the Saturday before Ash Wednesday in the year 441, he betook himself to the mountain top. Here he spent the days of Lent, chastising his body with fasts, pouring out his heart to God, and entreating Him with prolonged importunity and with tears that the Faith may not fail in the land of Erin.

13 March 2008

St. Matthew Bible Study - Lesson 21

This chapter is chock full of important symbolism, prophecy fulfillment and parables. The long-awaited Lamb comes to Jerusalem.

The introductory class notes to this chapter really set the stage. They mention that the Passover is at hand and Jesus is preparing for His Passion, death and Resurrection. Crowds have flocked to Jerusalem for the feast -- as many as 2.5 million people.

"It has been 2000 years since Abraham brought Isaac to Mount Moriah with the intention of following God's instruction to sacrifice his son." Isaac, being a clever fellow, asks his father where the lamb is for the offering. Abraham replies that God will provide Himself the lamb and seeing Abraham's incredible faith, God tells him to spare Isaac and a ram is sacrificed instead. All of Israel was still waiting for the Lamb.

The notes go on to say that it was 600 years after Abraham that the feast of Passover was instituted as a permanent memorial to the circumstances under which the 12 tribes left Egypt. "A thousand years after the time of Abraham, King Solomon built the permanent Temple at Jerusalem on Mount Moriah. Over time, the shepherds around Jerusalem began to raise "sacrificial flocks" to be sold to those traveling great distances for the Passover feast. On the tenth day of the month of Nisan, the sacrificial flock was brought into Jerusalem where they animals were inspected until the fourteenth day of Nisan. On that day, at twilight, the Passover lambs were sacrificed. Matthew's Gospel focuses on Jesus, the Lamb of God, making His way into Jerusalem at the same time as the sacrificial flock."

Father Echert mentioned that Jesus is making His way from Bethphage west to Jerusalem. This is not just filler info that St. Matthew included. It fulfills the prophecy that the Savior would come to them "from the East." Then Jesus instructs His disciples to go to the village and find an ass and a colt and bring them back to Him. Here we see reference to and fulfillment of what was written in Zechariah (Zechariah chapter 9 has oodles of prophetic passages).

Please take a look at Haydock, it is FULL of information on this chapter. There are too many important bits for me to cover here or do them justice.

Although He had previously walked, Jesus now rides into Jerusalem in the posture of a king. But, not the type of king riding a big, powerful horse that the Jews expected. Instead, Jesus humbly rides on an ass and a colt, which is similar to what King David did when he anointed Solomon.

We see the idea of consecration. Back with the Ark of the Covenant, the animals that pulled the cart were consecrated for this purpose only. In Matthew's Gospel, we see the ass, which represents the Israelites, and the colt. The colt had never been ridden before and represents the Gentiles. By Jesus riding on these animals they are rendered ritually clean. Similarly, Mary's womb was also consecrated for the sole purpose of bearing the Christ and Jesus' own tomb, was consecrated for Him and had never been used before (which was fairly unique back in the day as tombs were often times reused.)

Haydock makes a further connection that wasn't in the class notes and Father Echert didn't address:
Both Jews and Gentiles, figured by the ass and the colt, are to be loosed and conducted by the hands of the apostles of Christ to their Redeemer. The Gentiles, represented by the colt, though heretofore unclean, no sooner receive Jesus resting upon them, than they are freed from every stain and rendered perfectly clean. The zeal of the Gentiles, is spoken of by St. Paul, Romans xi. 25. Blindness in part has happened in Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles should come in. And so all Israel should be saved. (St. Chrysostom, hom. lxvi.) --- As it is written, "there shall come out of Sion, he that shall deliver, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob. And this is to them my covenant;" when I shall take away their sins. This prophecy of Isaias (lix. 20.) St. Paul applies to the conversion of the Jews; (ibid. [Romans xi. 25]) and thus both Jew and Gentile are to take up our Saviour's yoke, which is certainly sweet, and his burden light.

This action of riding in on a donkey is a fulfillment of the prophet Zechariah and Isaiah (see Zechariah 9-13 and Isaiah 62). Some similarities between the prophecies and Jesus' entry into Jerusalem are:
* the prediction of the coming of the king on a hiway to Jerusalem, "Behold your salvation comes."
* the king is lowly and humble
* rides a donkey instead of a large "war horse"
* establishes His dominion from sea to sea
* sacrifice of Jesus "grain shall make the young men flourish, and new wine the maidens."
* blood of the covenant, doomed to be slain
* false prophets

Similarly, there are parallels with Solomon's coronation:
* both are sons of David
* Jesus rides a colt, Solomon a mule
* both have large crowds celebrating their arrival
* Jerusalem was in the state of commotion

Hosanna and Hallel
As Jesus enters Jerusalem the crowds surround Him and shout, "Hosanna," which is a Hebrew word meaning "save us." The crowds also shout, "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord." This comes straight out of Psalm 118, which is known as Hallel, the greatest of the psalms. According to our class notes, "It is always sung at the climax of the three holiest Jewish religious festivals -- the feasts of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles." It is currently used in the liturgy during the Sanctus.

The Pharisees criticize Jesus' followers for their cheers (as found in Luke 19:40), but Jesus replies, "I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out." The class notes say that Matthew records that Jesus specifically claims that Psalm 118 is a prophetic reference to Himself: "Have you never read in the scriptures: 'The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner; this was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eye'?" (Which Haydock mentions also comes from Psalm 8, when the people are praising David for defeating Goliath). Here Jesus is deliberately quoting from the same Psalm as the Hallel, the one the people are quoting when they are cheering, indicating to the Pharisees that they are the "false shepherds" and the kingdom of God will be taken from them and "given to a nation producing the fruits of it." (In Chapter 22 we will learn more about the "covenant lawsuit" and reflect on how the pattern appears throughout Matthew's gospel.)

Three prophetic gestures
There are three gestures Jesus performs during Passion week. They are His triumphal entry into Jerusalem -- Jesus is the humble king found in Zechariah; the curse of the fig tree (a symbol of God's chosen people) as found in both Jeremiah and Hosea -- His curse on faithless Israel; and, the cleansing of the Temple -- claiming His divine authority over those who are in charge of the Temple.

Parable of the two sons
Haydock says it well: The ancient interpreters, by the first son generally understand the Gentiles, as also publicans and scandalous sinners; and by the second, the Jewish people. The Gentiles, &c. who at the first did not, would not worship and serve God; yet afterwards they, as also publicans, and many sinners, received the faith, and being converted, became faithful servants of God, and saints: the Jews, or the greatest part of them, who pretended to be God's servants, and his people, rejected the gospel and their Messias; therefore this commination follows, the publicans, &c. shall go before you into the kingdom of God. (Witham) By these two sons are to be understood, says St. Chrysostom, the Gentiles and the Jewish people; the latter our Redeemer wishes to make sensible of their own great ingratitude, and of the ready obedience of the cast-off Gentiles. For they having never heard the law, nor promised obedience have still shewn their submission by their works; whereas the Jews after promising to obey the voice of God, had neglected the performance.

Parable of the Wicked Tenants
Again, from Haydock: This master is God; the vineyard, the Jews; the husbandmen, the Jewish priests; the servants, God's prophets, sent from time to time: the son, called (Mark xii. 6,) his only and most dear son, is our Saviour Jesus Christ, whom they persecuted to death. (Witham) --- By this parable, our Saviour teaches the Jews that the providence of God had wonderfully watched over them from the beginning, that nothing had been omitted to promote their salvation, and that notwithstanding his prophets had been put to most cruel deaths, still the Almighty was not turned away from them, but had at length sent down his only Son, who should suffer at their hands the inexpressible ignominies and tortures of his cross and passion.

Father Echert said that the Pharisees knew He was the Messiah ("This is the heir" from Matthew 21:38) so they plot to kill Him so that they can still retain their positions and power. They wanted to have Him publicly humiliated by the Romans to show that He no Messiah and after He was murdered they could claim that they were the true religious leaders.

St. Matthew Bible Study - Lesson 20

I keep falling behind with these notes. Guess it's good that there are only 28 chapters in Matthew and we just completed Chapter 22, not too many left. So, I'm a few behind again. Here's Chapter 20.

Pertinent excerpt from the Voices of the Saints in our class notes:
Some grumbled that God's justice is flawed in admitting some into the kingdom in what seemed an untimely way. Even being last in the kingdom on God is an incalculable gift. No one should begrudge God's generosity in allowing some who worked less to come in to the kingdom with some who worked more. God is not less good because we in our distorted perception think we have been unfairly treated.
- St. Gregory the Great

The chapter starts out with the parable of the laborers who come to work in the vineyard for a denarius a day. Some come early, some later, and some come very late in the evening. All received the same wage. There was much grumbling and gnashing of teeth about how unfair this was.

But the reply is, "My friend, I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? (Or) am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous? Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last." In this case, the vineyard is a symbol for God's people and the denarius was the typical daily wage. The early laborers are the Israelites, then the tax collectors, then the Samaritans, and then the late-comers are the Gentiles.

Father Echert said that this was not an act against justice to pay them all the same wage and the parable isn't about wages in the earthly sense. God is not being unfair to Israel, just generous to the Gentiles. We shouldn't think of God as an employer, owner or master and see our relationship in a legalistic way (the workers in the parable are addressed as "Friend"), but as a covenant and familial relationship. In a family, the younger children aren't considered as lesser members of the family than the older ones.

Father said that the first covenant people and the last did not deserve the opportunity of having a covenant with God. It is all God's generosity. We see the manifestation of the resentment of the people -- they should be grateful and welcome others, there is no loss to the first workers. Jewish people of the day resented the Gentiles being included without having to adopt the laws and requirements that the Jews had (primarily from living under the Old Covenant).

Haydock (who you should really check out) has some lengthy comments on the subject:
Many of the fathers suppose that the saints of different states and degrees are here designed, whose reward will suffer no diminution from the circumstances of their having come to the service of Christ at a late age of the world, according to Sts. Hilary, Gregory, and Theophylactus; or, at a late age of life, according to Sts. Basil, Jerome, and Fulgentius. In the latter case, however, we must understand that their greater fervour in co-operating with divine grace, in the latter part of their life, has supplied and compensated for the defect of their preceding negligence; hence it may sometimes happen that the reward of such as enter late in life on the service of God, will exceed that of the less fervent who have entered at an earlier period. But as Christ rather seems to speak here of his militant than his triumphant Church, many commentators explain the parable of the Jews and Gentiles. For the Jews, after bearing the yoke of the Mosaic law for so many ages, received nothing more than what was promised to the observance of that law; whilst Christians receive a more plentiful reward for their more easy labour under the sweet yoke of the gospel. In which sense Christ says to the Jews, Luke xiii. 29: Publicans and harlots shall go before you into the kingdom of heaven. "And, strangers shall come from the east, and from the west, and the north, and the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. And behold they are last that shall be first, and they are first that shall be last." (Luke xiii. 30.) --- Hence the Jews may be supposed to murmur, that they who are first in their vocation to be the people of God, and first in the observance of his law, should not be preferred to others, who in these respects have been far posterior to them. (Tirinus) --- By the vineyard, says St. Chrysostom, we here understand, the commandments of God. The time for labour is the present life. In the first, third, sixth, ninth, and eleventh hours, i.e. in infancy, youth, manhood, declining years, and extreme decrepitude of age, many individuals, yielding to the effective call of God, labour in the exact performance of the divine commandments. (Hom. lxv.)

In Matthew 20:17-19, we see Jesus predicting His death for the third time. This time we hear that the Pharisees will collaborate with the Roman leaders/Herodians to bring about Jesus' death. And, this time we are told His death is to be by crucifixion, he will be "delivered to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged, and crucified, and He will be raised on the third day."

Jealousy and envy
Oh those silly boys. Jesus just tells how He is going to be brutally murdered and then James and John are asking (or having their mother intercede for them) to sit at Jesus' right hand and left hand. Wow. If I was dying and someone asked me if they could have my car, I don't think I'd be too happy with them, but James and John collectively with their mama, are shameless. And clueless. Jesus tell them they don't know what they are asking for...oh, and careful what you wish for boys, cuz Jesus even said you would share in His cup ("You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.").

Our class notes say, "Surprisingly, Jesus doesn't rebuke the mother for making such a request, nor does he condemn James and John for their ambition. Instead, Jesus says: "You do not know what you are asking." What Jesus knows, that James and John and their mother don't know, is that the Son of Man's entrance into the kingdom of Heaven won't come about with parades and pomp but through mockery, scourging and crucifixion.

The Old Testament view of the cup was one of punishment and suffering, but in the New Testament it is for the sacrament of the Eucharist.

This chapter takes a look at the difference between jealousy and envy. Jealousy seeks what a person has; envy seeks to destroy what another person has. Again from the class notes: The reactions of the other 10 disciples to the ambition of James and John provide valuable insight into the distinction between jealousy and envy. Jesus doesn't rebuke James and John, nor does he side with the other 10 disciples. James and John -- are, in a sense, jealous for a greater share of divine glory. The other 10 disciples aren't jealous, they're envious. Jealousy, properly understood, is a quality God even ascribes to Himself on occasion: "I the Lord your God am a jealous God." (Exodus 20:5) In the human realm, jealousy, though often evil, can be good when it's related to the idea of proper zeal for things pertaining to God and to the spiritual life. The word "jealous" is related to the idea of zeal. Envy is only and always evil. James and John were jealous, or zealous, to take a step up in the kingdom of heaven. The other disciples simply are envious and want to take James and John down a peg.


Heinäsirkka, heinäsirkka, mene täältä hiiteen
Translation from Finnish: Grasshopper, Grasshopper, go to hell!

Happy St. Urho's Day
March 16

My best friend of many years always celebrates St. Urho's Day. She is half-Finnish and half Norwegian. She would always wear a big button with a grasshopper on it. Of course, this always got my Irish up because these Finns had to plagiarize the story of the good St. Patrick and place their fictitious holiday on March 16, the day before St. Patrick's Day, just to usurp some of the green goodness. Only the Irish have the luck, Guinness and gift of gab. The Finns just have beer. Ya sure, and maybe smelt, don't cha know.

From a great St. Urho website:

The legend of St. Urho originated in Northern Minnesota in the 1950s. However, there are differing opinions as to whether it began with the fables created by Sulo Havumaki of Bemidji, or the tongue-in-cheek tales told by Richard Mattson of Virginia (Minnesota - on da Range - the Iron Range for all you out-of-towners). Either way, the legend has grown among North Americans of Finnish descent to the point where St. Urho is known and celebrated across the United States and Canada, and even in Finland.

St. Urho's Day is celebrated on March 16th, the day prior to the better known feast of some minor saint from Ireland, who was alleged to have driven the snakes from that island. (Oh those funny Finns...bet they couldn't even point out Ireland on a map, even after a few brewskis)

The legend says St. Urho chased the grasshoppers out of ancient Finland, thus saving the grape crop and the jobs of Finnish vineyard workers. He did this by uttering the phrase: "Heinäsirkka, heinäsirkka, mene täältä hiiteen" (roughly translated: "Grasshopper, grasshopper, go to Hell!"). His feast is celebrated by wearing the colors Royal Purple and Nile Green. St. Urho is nearly always represented with grapes and grasshoppers as part of the picture.

11 March 2008


You know, I've heard about momnesia and I totally believe in it. However, the articles I've read indicate that it is a temporary thing that largely disappears once you stop nursing.

Is that so.

According to one article I recently read:

Scientists agree. While researchers say they can't explain all the ways motherhood affects a woman's memory, they agree there's a pattern.

Like Massingill, many moms feel mentally foggy in the days after delivery. And they notice that the details of labor and delivery, which are scenes one might expect to be seared into a woman's consciousness, began to slowly slip away.

Sadly, Massingill says, her son's first few weeks of life have become a blur.

Few parents enjoy feeling so scatterbrained, says neuropsychiatrist Louann Brizendine, author of The Female Brain. And momnesia can be dangerous, such as when moms forget to fasten the straps in an infant's car seat. Yet momnesia may give modern mothers an evolutionary advantage, Brizendine says.

"It turns you into someone who serves that little infant, to keep it alive no matter what," says Brizendine, founder of the Women's and Teen Girls' Mood and Hormone Clinic at the University of California in San Francisco. "Other parts of your brain that are usually on high alert are sort of taken offline."

Women may be reluctant to talk about their memory problems for fear of being judged poorly at work, especially because returning to a demanding job puts even more stress on the brain, Brizendine says.

But women don't get dumber after childbirth. Instead, like sleep-deprived medical residents who learn on the job, their brains are getting a workout. "You are learning a lot," she says. "Once your mommy brain gets readjusted, you get more efficient, and you become smarter and learn things faster, but it won't happen all at once."

Mothers' priorities often change dramatically while caring for a baby. They need to be "hyper vigilant" about their infants, who may develop symptoms of illness that are apparent only to those who have scrutinized their every coo and cry, Brizendine says. "You're on the mother beat all the time. It requires certain parts of your brain to work hyper, hyper, hyper well. But it requires other parts of your brain to play second fiddle."

I haven't been nursing for at least a year now and my brain is still mush. Total mush. It's like I'm 120 years old. I forget names, forget how to spell, forget what I went downstairs for, etc., etc., etc. I first noticed it when I was pregnant with my son. I was watching Jeopardy one afternoon and couldn't answer a single question although I knew I had known the answers just a few months prior. If you had asked me who the first president of the US was, I would've been stumped. Frustrating is an understatement.

Will momnesia ever go away or does it last as long as I am a mom? Am I relegated to being face down in my oatmeal in a few years?

However, the Jeopardy crew was in town last week and was at the Mall of America. We were there to go to Long John Silvers for fish on Friday. Jeopardy was trying out potential contestants for the show. I am pleased to report that I did, indeed, pass the initial round. Surprise! Surprise!

I sat down with my test and didn't know the first two questions. I mean I really didn't know them...ever. Got the last eight questions cold. Zipped right through them. The first question was something like what president was sworn in by his father after the death of President Harding. I don't know. I guessed Wilson, knowing that it was incorrect. Turns out the answer is Coolidge. Then, the next question dealt with my worstest subject...movies. It was what 200X film had certain characters in it, one being the Green Goblin. Ok, I probably could've got this, but with the kids and hubby sitting there distracting me and knowing that movies aren't my subject, I just balked and answered Batman. Everyone knows it's Spiderman...even my son.

But, I was pleased as punch to have passed the test. I didn't go to the next round because at this point in my life, being a Jeopardy contestant just isn't in the cards. I'm too busy with phonics to study up on presidents and the like. I never knew much about opera or the Bourbon kings (or any royalty, really), so there are huge gaps in my knowledge that would make me look idiotic if I went on Jeopardy. I was tickled just to have the satisfaction of passing the test and knowing the fog seems to be lifting, albeit not nearly as fast as I would like. Maybe by the time I've homeschooled my kids for 16 years, I will have learned the things that always stumped me.

I'm already reading up on royalty.

10 March 2008

Gettin' catechised

Stellar homily at the 12pm Mass at St. Agnes. Deacon Allen rocks, tho I kind of prefer the unemotional Jesuit approach to academics (homilies in this case) compared to his more dramatic delivery, it was still outstanding.

Deacon Allen's homily was on Sunday's Gospel reading.

Everyone is quick to harp on Martha and on Thomas, the apostle. Martha was definitely a Type A personality, a bit of a worry wart. Since I'm in the maintenance portion of my 12-step program for Type A personalities, I can identify with Martha and have always felt slightly rebuked myself when Jesus chides her for spinning her wheels. Granted, her complaining is a bit tiresome. However, the Gospel reading from this Sunday paints Martha in a much different light.

We see in John 11:27, Martha replies to Jesus' inquiry:
"She saith to him: Yea, Lord, I have believed that thou art Christ the Son of the living God, who art come into this world."

Similarly, Thomas gets stuck for all time with the unfortunate adjective: doubting. However, we see that Thomas was also a man of great faith.

In John 11:16 it says:
"Thomas therefore, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples: Let us also go, that we may die with him."

The point of the homily was to show that faith is not just an assent of the will ("as important as that is" according to Deacon Allen). Faith is more. It is a gift from God, an incredible grace we need to be open to. Deacon Allen said that faith is the confidence in a person.

For me, I understood it as similar to a non-religious person believing in natural law, assenting their will that they are a created being. I can know God exists, but have no relationship with Him or trust in Him. That is more the gift of faith.

Back to Martha and Thomas. They are showing incredible faith. Martha says that she believes (trusts) that Jesus is the Christ. Even Peter stumbled in this and the apostles themselves repeatedly messed up in understanding who Jesus was, what His mission was and what His kingdom was to be like. Martha nailed it. In fact, Haydock says she "breaks out into an act of perfect faith."

So did Thomas. He knew the dangers that awaited Jesus if he went to Jerusalem, was willing to go and to die with him...at least at that moment. John was the one who actually stuck it out, but Thomas came in a close second.

I was glad to read these passages again, as I have so many times, and actually see these people more clearly.

Then I got home and talked with a cousin I had been close with years ago. I got married and moved to Seattle and we lost touch. I was saddened to hear that she is estranged from her seven siblings and has left the Church for an evangelical parish. None of her siblings have remained in the Catholic Church. Several have been married numerous times and one just died from her addictions.

In many ways, my cousin lives the gospels better than I do. So, why would she leave the Church? In part it could be because I don't think she ever really heard the gospels being preached from the pulpit the way Deacon Allen did. I don't think she was catechised well, much like my entire generation.

Martha had perfect faith because she came to know Jesus. Many of my cousins have lost their faith -- lost confidence in Jesus and His Church. This is why it is important to instruct from the pulpit -- people need to be catechised to begin to have a relationship with Jesus. If people knew their Faith, then they could grow in that faith and be able to go against the grain and not be swept away. Like with Martha and Thomas, Jesus would become someone more real than just a notion or assent of the will.

08 March 2008

First there was Alien vs. Predator

Now it's Terminator vs. Predator
...and even Ma and Pa Kettle against Predator

You may have heard the horrible news coming out of California about the recent Court of Appeals ruling that a home schooling family MUST send their children to a public or private school because home schooling is ILLEGAL.

There are many hits on the subject if you search on Google, but this one was sent to me. Here's just a snippet:

A California court has ruled that several children in one homeschool family must be enrolled in a public school or "legally qualified" private school, and must attend, sending ripples of shock into the nation's homeschooling advocates as the family reviews its options for appeal.

The ruling came in a case brought against Phillip and Mary Long over the education being provided to two of their eight children. They are considering an appeal to the state Supreme Court, because they have homeschooled all of their children, the oldest now 29, because of various anti-Christian influences in California's public schools.

But, Governator Schwartzenegger has spoken out strongly against this. Praise God for strange bed fellows. Again, just a snippet from the article:

"Every California child deserves a quality education and parents should have the right to decide what's best for their children," the governor said in a prepared statement. "Parents should not be penalized for acting in the best interests of their children's education."

The comments came after a state appellate court ruling essentially concluded California state law allows no option for parents to school their children at home. Homeschool and legal experts have expressed concern that the move puts all of the parents of the estimated 166,000 homeschooled children in the state at risk of both criminal and civil penalties.

"This outrageous ruling must be overturned by the courts and if the courts don't protect parents' rights then, as elected officials, we will," he said.

The online home schooling groups and boards are all lit up about this, and rightly and UNDERSTANDABLY so. I haven't even really started to "officially" home school and I am receiving oodles of e-mails from curriculum providers to book sellers alerting folks to the dangers of this. It is complete insanity. No, it is the calculating evil of Big Brother coming right in the front door of our homes.

The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) is trying to get this over turned on appeal. They have a petition they are asking folks to sign. Please spend a minute and sign the petition.

Here's what it has to say:
A California Court of Appeal recently decided that homeschooling is illegal in California unless a parent is a certified teacher.

The case arose in a confidential juvenile court proceeding. The family was represented by court-appointed attorneys and HSLDA did not become aware of the case until the Court of Appeal case was published on February 28, 2008.

The Court could have restricted its decision to the facts before it, but instead, it issued a broad ruling that effectively outlaws home education in California. The Court also certified its decision for publication, which means that the decision can now be cited as legal authority by all other courts in California.

The family and their California counsel are planning to appeal to the Supreme Court of California, which could result in reversal.

Another option to keep homeschooling free in California is to petition the Supreme Court of California to “depublish” the opinion. If the opinion is “depublished” then it cannot be used by other California courts and this threat to homeschool freedom will be neutralized for other California homeschoolers.

HSLDA will be formally petitioning the California Supreme Court to depublish the opinion. We would like to show that many other people, both in California and across the country, care deeply about homeschool freedom in California.

Please show your support for this effort by signing the petition today.

You can reach the petition HERE. The HSLDA has had so much traffic from this that they changed their webpage address, so this link will get you to the petition.

Don't think the rights of parents to educate their children are safe. It's illegal in Germany to home school and currently the UN is trying to get involved in parental rights to home school.

Please sign the petition and God bless you for listening and caring!!

07 March 2008

The monastery bell

Carlo Carretto, one of the leading spiritual writers of the past half century, lived for more than a dozen years as a hermit in the Sahara Desert, alone with the Blessed Sacrament for company, milking a goat for his food, and translating the Bible into the local Bedouin language. He prayed for long hours by himself.

Returning to Italy one day to visit his mother, he came to a startling realization. His mother, who for more than 30 years of her life had been so busy raising a family that she scarcely ever had a private minute for herself, was more contemplative than he was.

Carretto, though was careful to draw the right lesson from this. What this taught was not that there was anything wrong with what he had been doing living as a hermit. The lesson was rather that there was something wonderfully right about what his mother was doing all these years as she lived the interrupted life amid the noise and incessant demands of small children. He had been in a monastery, but so had she.

What is a monastery? A monastery is not so much a place set apart for monks and nuns as it is a place set apart (period). It is also a place to learn the value of powerlessness and a place to learn that time is not ours, but God's.

Our home and our duties can, just like a monastery teach us those things. For example, the mother who stays home with small children experiences a very real withdrawal from the world. Her existence is definitely monastic. Her tasks and preoccupations remove her from the centers of power and social importance. And she feels it.

Moreover, the demands of young children also provide her with what St. Bernard, one of the great architects of monasticism, called the "monastic bell". All monasteries have a bell. Bernard, in writing his rules for monasticism told his monks that whenever the monastic bell rang they were to drop whatever they were doing and go immediately to the particular activity (prayer, meals, work, study, sleep) to which the bell was summoning them. He was adamant that they respond immediately, stating that if they were writing a letter they were to stop in mid-sentence when the bell rang. The idea in his mind was that when the bell called, it called you to the next task and you were to respond immediately, not because you want to, but because it's time, it's God's time. For him, the monastic bell was intended as a discipline to stretch the heart by always taking you beyond your own agenda to God's agenda.

Hence, a mother rearing children, perhaps in a more privileged way even than a professional contemplative is forced, almost against her will, to constantly stretch her heart. For years, while rearing children, her time is never her own, her own needs have to be kept in second place and every time she turns around a hand is reaching out and demanding something. She hears the monastic bell many times during the day and she has to drop things in mid-sentence and respond, not because she wants to, but because it's time for that activity and time isn't her time, but God's time.

The rest of us experience the monastic bell each morning when our alarm clock rings and we get out of bed and ready ourselves for the day, not because we want to, but because it's time. Response to duty can be monastic prayer, a needy hand can be a monastic bell, and working without status and power can constitute a withdrawal into a monastery where God can meet us. The domestic can be the monastic.

By Fr. Ron Rolheiser, OMI, Seattle, WA
The Catholic Northwest Progress, Jan. 18, 2001.

St. Matthew Bible Study - Lesson 19

Continuing with my class notes.

Those tricky Pharisees
At the beginning of the chapter, we see Jesus heading southward from Galilee in the northern part of the Holy Land to "the region of Judea beyond the Jordan." The Pharisees test Jesus by asking him, "Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?" One one hand, they are trying to trick Him into blasphemy if He were to say no, which would be in contradiction to Deuteronomy and Malachi. On the other hand, we have to remember the fate of John the Baptist. St. Matthew tells us the locale to set the stage for what could lead to a confrontation, or what the Pharisees hope will be. This region is ruled by one of Herod the Great's three sons, Herod Antipas. Sweet son and brother that he is, he is the one who stole his brother, Herod Philip's, wife, who was named Herodias. Herod Philip ruled the northern third of the kingdom, with brother Herod Antipas the middle third and brother Herod Archelaus ruling the southern third. John the Baptist lost his head because he denounced the adulterous relationship of Herod Antipas and Herodias. Herodias, you'll remember, is the charming and cunning gal who had her own daughter (Salome) dance for Herod Antipas and entice him into swearing an oath to give her anything she asked for. Nice mom. Then Herodias told her daughter to ask Herod for John the Baptist's head on a platter. Which brings us back to the Pharisees who are hoping that by asking Jesus about divorce it will bring him the same fate as John the Baptist. What evil, evil schemers. I hope they're enjoying their own fate as well.

See Father Haydock's biblical commentary for more on the Mosaic law and divorce. See also CCC 2384-2386. The Catechism 2385 has this to say relating to the topic:
"Divorce is immoral also because it introduces disorder into the family and into society. This disorder brings grave harm to the deserted spouse, to children traumatized by the separation of their parents and often torn between them, and because of its contagious effect which makes it truly a plague on society."

Consecrated life
The next part of the chapter deals with consecrated life. Jesus talks about celibacy, then say to let the children come to him, and then the rich man who went away sad because Jesus told him to give up his possessions. The stories all related to the point Jesus is trying to make about the consecrated life.

Previously, a man was made a eunuch by birth or by force. This allowed him to be in the king's household without the king having to worry about the man around the queen or his daughters. Now there is another type of eunuch in the New Covenant, "Eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of Heaven." They imitate the celibacy of Jesus Himself in order to be servants of Jesus and of His bride, the Church, and the "royal family." They live in anticipation of the life in heaven.

Jesus remarks to the little children, "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of Heaven." Here Jesus is showing that the children are members of the kingdom and that the nature of marriage is ordered to the procreation and education of children. He is also showing how we are to approach Him with complete trust and faith.

The rich young man, who wanted to follow Jesus but couldn't give up his possessions stands in contrast to the consecrated life. As St. Paul mentions in 1 Cor 7:32-35, the single consecrated life allows ones attentions to be focused on Jesus and not divided by earthly things, and in 1 Tim 6:9-10 we see that the love of money is the root of all evil, so the rich young man went away sad because he was unwilling or unable to detach himself from his worldly possessions. Father Haydock has this to say, "I know not how it happens, that when superfluous and earthly things are loved, we are more attached to what we possess in effect than in desire. For, why did this young man depart sad, but because he had great riches? It is one thing not to wish for, and another to part with them, when once we have them. They become incorporated, and, as it were, a part of ourselves, like food; and, when taken, are changed into our own members. No one easily suffers a member of his body to be cut off. (St. Augustine, ep. xxxi. ad Paul.)"

Again, from the Catechism:
915 Christ proposes the evangelical counsels, in their great variety, to every disciple. The perfection of charity, to which all the faithful are called, entails for those who freely follow the call to consecrated life the obligation of practicing chastity in celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom, poverty and obedience. It is the profession of these counsels, within a permanent state of life recognized by the Church, that characterizes the life consecrated to God.

916 The state of consecrated life is thus one way of experiencing a "more intimate" consecration, rooted in Baptism and dedicated totally to God. In the consecrated life, Christ's faithful, moved by the Holy Spirit, propose to follow Christ more nearly, to give themselves to God who is loved above all and, pursuing the perfection of charity in the service of the Kingdom, to signify and proclaim in the Church the glory of the world to come.

06 March 2008

Folded napkin

Sorry I haven't posted lately. Having huge computer problems. Computer is so old that putting money into it is pointless, so had to try to solve whatever was ailing the computer myself. Spent two days just backing everything up, cleaning up files as best I could, deleting things that weren't used...all to prep for the reinstallation. I am loathe to have to reinstall everything and managed to reload some utilities and fix some of the problem. Hard to know what to do when you don't know what the problem is, just the symptoms. Managed to get things working, although not perfectly so I feel like things are a bit precarious at the moment. A friend is giving us one of his computers (that's a corporal act of mercy...provide computers to those with dead computers).

Just in time for Easter. This was sent to me and I found it intriguing.

Why did Jesus fold the napkin?
Why did Jesus fold the linen burial cloth after His resurrection?

The Gospel of John (20:7) tells us that the napkin, which was placed over the face of Jesus, was not just thrown aside like the grave clothes. The Bible takes an entire verse to tell us that the napkin was neatly folded, and was placed at the head of that stony coffin.

In our text, Mary comes first to the empty tomb. She sees the stone rolled away and it frightens her. And so she runs to get Peter and John, and they run together to the tomb as fast as they could. John outran Peter, and when he got there, he looked inside, and saw those grave clothes lying there in disarray. Then Peter arrived and, just as we’d expect of him, went right in. He also saw the linen clothes lying there, but there was something unusual in that scene. Something caught their eye that was very interesting.

The Gospel of John tells us that the napkin, which was placed over the face of Jesus, was not just thrown aside like the grave clothes. The Bible takes an entire verse to tell us that the napkin was neatly folded, and was placed at the head of that stony coffin. Is that important? You’d better believe it! Is that significant? Absolutely! Is it really significant? Yes!

In order to understand the significance of the folded napkin, you have to understand a little bit about Hebrew tradition of that day. The folded napkin had to do with the Master and Servant, and every Jewish boy knew this tradition. When the servant set the dinner table for the master, he made sure that it was exactly the way the master wanted it. The table was furnished perfectly, and then the servant would wait, just out of sight, until the master had finished eating, and the servant would not dare touch that table, until the master was finished.

Now if the master were done eating, he would rise from the table, wipe his fingers, his mouth, and clean his beard, and would wad up that napkin and toss it onto the table. The servant would then know to clear the table. For in those days, the wadded napkin meant, “I’m done”. But if the master got up from the table, and folded his napkin, and laid it aside his plate, the servant would not dare touch the table, because...

The folded napkin meant, “I’m coming back!”

05 March 2008

Mean Ol' Devil - Version 2

Computer possessed. Will be off-line until exorcist fixes problem.