31 July 2008

True love

My husband loves me!

Hubby's an engineer who designs industrial robots. One division of the company makes package handling robots. Often times these robots are designed for companies like General Mills to move large quantities of cereal or other products around. Many times the robots position cereal boxes to be crated or wrapped for delivery to places like Sam's Club or Costco. Many times, companies send their product to the company my husband works for so that they are able to test the robots and make sure they work. Actual food that the company doesn't want back because it's been in the hands of someone else and out of their sight and control. Non-perishable items are often times given to employees when the testing is complete.

Today, my beloved, knowing my favorite thing in the world is a good brownie (even a bad one is still good), got me a six pound box of General Mills brownie mix. Six pounds!!! If that's not love, I don't know what it is!!

Weekend Kneeler Jeopardy

Heading to the cabin today and hope to get some relief from the heat! Have a bunch of errands to run before we leave and I have to get my backside to confession. Busy, busy. Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Category: Cuisine

If the Pope were to visit your home, what would be the perfect meal to set before him? Answer must include Hors d'Oeuvres, entree selection, dessert and wine/beer recommendation.

St. Alex says, place your answer in the form of a question in the combox.

And, bonus points for your selection of china and flatware, also note any music selections.

30 July 2008

A duty to ourselves

With the Feast of Our Lady of the Angels coming up this weekend (August 2nd) and the attached indulgence, The Portiuncula Indulgence, I have started my Examination of Conscience in preparation for confession tomorrow night (with the kids and all, I have to plan ahead instead of doing my examination as I'm on my way to confession!). I always like to take advantage of God's great mercy because I shudder to think of the time I will spend in Purgatory. Eyes have not seen and ears have not heard what God has in store for us in Heaven, but Purgatory might be a corollary and conversely, equally horrible. If we only saw the effects of sin as God does, at least to the extent that we could withstand...

NB: One is not required to attend Mass on the day of the visit to a church. See posts here and here. (Thanks for the clarification, Terry)

From The Spiritual Life, by Adolphe Tanquerey SS, DD:
Sin leaves in the soul baneful consequences against which it is necessary to react.
A.) Even when the guilt or fault has been remitted, there generally remains a temporal punishment varying according to the gravity and number of our sins, and according to the fervor of our contrition at the moment of our return to God. This punishment must be undergone either in this life or in the next. By far the most advantageous course is to make satisfaction in this life. The sooner and the more perfectly we acquit ourselves of this debt, the better fitted our soul becomes for union with God. Moreover, expiation on earth is easier, since this is the acceptable time for mercy; it is more fruitful, since the acts wherewith we make satisfaction are also meritorious, a source of grace and greater glory. Therefore, personal interest and love for our own soul are best served by a prompt and whole-hearted penance.
B.) Moreover, by the fact that sin intensifies in us the disordered love of pleasure and weakens our will, it bequeaths to us a pernicious facility to commit fresh faults. Nothing so well rectifies this disorder as the virtue of penance. By having us bear with fortitude the afflictions and austerities compatible with our health, it gradually weakens within us the love of pleasure, and inspires us with a fear of sin which exacts such amends. By inuring us to the exercise of such acts of virtue as are opposed to our evil habits, it helps us to correct them and thus gives us greater security for the future. Hence, to do penance is charity towards ourselves.
The Spiritual Life, pp. 356-357.

29 July 2008

Angel of God

Vacation Bible School this year deals with St. Catherine Laboure, but also deals quite a bit with Guardian Angels, especially at the lower grades.

I think emphasizing Angels with young children is wonderful and the first prayer I teach my children is their Guardian Angel prayer. My son has learned about St. George and the Dragon, but also knows Spiderman, Superman and other super heros. I like to tell him that his Guardian Angel could kick butt on any of the comic book super heros. No matter how cool Spiderman may be, he's no match for a Guardian Angel.

In the time I spent in the Byzantine Catholic Church, it was frequently mentioned to me, since it was obvious I was a Roman Catholic, that the Church of the East was the "Church of Faith" and the Church of the West was the "Church of Rules." And, it was the priest that always pointed this out, kind of like the little brother tired of living in the shadow of his older brother. What he meant was, in his point of view, those not belonging to the Roman Rite took things on faith, where the Roman Catholic Church felt the need to spell things out with papal encyclicals and bulls before people would adopt them and believe in them. So much for all of us being Catholic.

One of the things I always took on faith was the role of the Guardian Angel. When I was younger, a good priest friend of my father's was a strong promoter of the Opus Sanctorum Angelorum, the work of the Holy Angels. He had affectionately named his Guardian Angel, Tyke. Tyke was blamed for a great number of mischievous things, although I doubt it was Tyke who hid Father's glasses, but rather it was Father himself who misplaced them. But, it was the way that Father gently and lovingly spoke of his Angel that made you feel that Tyke was a physical person that joined Father at meal time and was always playing practical jokes.

The Church has not dogmatically defined when our Guardian Angels are assigned to us. I take it on faith that it is the moment of conception. Saint Anselm has said that, "every soul is committed to an Angel when it is united to the body." However, St. Thomas, St. Jerome and other Fathers maintain it is at the time of birth, probably because "during the time of gestation the Guardian Angel of the mother could very well take care also of the unborn child she was carrying" (Beyond Space, p. 113).

I'm not a theologian, it will be challenging for me just to instruct my own children in the Faith, but I believe that a Guardian Angel begins his role at conception. That's when life begins. I doubt the Church Fathers and scholars could have imagined that a baby would be in serious danger within its mother's womb, but that's today's reality. I cannot fathom that God in His infinite mercy would not provide these children an angel to watch over them.

As a mother, I feel it deeply and personally that a Guardian Angel is present at conception. When I was so sick with my son during the pregnancy and couldn't sleep or eat, I prayed to my son's Guardian Angel, who I named John after the beloved disciple, to protect my son. My Guardian Angel was busy looking after me, but someone needed to protect my son while I was so ill. During this time, I felt my constant companions were my angel and my son's.

My daily offering is given to my Guardian Angel to take to the altar in Heaven. When I ask for intercession, my litany of intercessors always includes the Guardian Angels. I bring my Guardian Angel to Mass with me and envision him kneeling along side me. Like the Byzantines, I take this one on faith.

28 July 2008

One Word Meme

I don't think I can follow those rules, but will try, sort of.

Tagged for this by Karen.


1. Where is your cell phone? (Fireplace) mantel

2. Your significant other? Hubby

3. Your hair? Disaster

4. Your mother? Saint

5. Your father? Saint

6. Your favorite things? Humor, irony, conversation, genealogy, relaxing at cabin

7. Your dream last night? Something to do with the moms in my homeschool group, maybe it's good I can't remember exactly what it had to do with :)

8. Your favorite drink? Coke

9. Your dream/goal? Heaven for me and my family, otherwise my earthly goal is to live a long, healthy, peaceful, Obama-free, joy-filled life!

10. The room you’re in? Upstairs

11. Your church? St. Agnes

12. Your fear? Losing my faith, which would probably result in hell, so to cut to the chase, hell would be bad. Earthly fears, as I have mentioned before and have been proven right about, are bridges. Yep, and chunks of the Maryland bridge over 35E fell onto the highway just yesterday!!

13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Living in a home that is sans construction projects and happily and successfully homeschooling my kids

14. Where were you last night? Home, Chinese restaurant, Cub Foods

15. What you’re not? Idle

16. Muffins? If no doughnuts are in the case

17. One of your wish list items? On Amazon, I am wishing for some Navarre commentaries and Joseph Pearce's book, The Quest for Shakespeare, although First Things had a snarky review of it. I don't get First Things, it's way over my head and seemingly lacks an editor, just like the Wanderer. Can't these people say what they mean with out all the drawn out verbiage? Get out a red pen and cut it down, save us all some time. Meow. Start by doing this meme and see how you do...one word to say it all.

18. Where you grew up? White Bear Lake, MN

19. The last thing you did? Had mean thoughts about First Things

20. What are you wearing? Shorts, tee-shirt -- the usual uniform

21. Your TV? Off

22. Your pets? Siamese cat until two summers ago. No more pets! (until the kids sucker me into it)

23. Your computer? Vintage Dell

24. Your life? About to get very busy

25. Your mood? Fair to middling

26. Missing someone? Dad

27. Your car? Honda Civic EX

28. Something you’re not wearing? Socks and my ubiquitous scrunchie (think that's the first time I've ever used the word ubiquitous)

29. Favorite store? Bookstore, antique store, or Target

30. Your Summer? Too short

31. Like (love) someone? Always

32. Your favorite color? Blue

33. Last time you laughed? This morning at the kids

34. Last time you cried? This weekend, teared up anyway

35. Who will re-post this? I have no idea. Surprise me. If you don't have a blog, feel free to place your answers to this meme in my combox!

25 July 2008

Weekend Kneeler Jeopardy

Gone for most of the weekend to a sleep over...not for the kids...for the moms.

Category: Shakespeare was a Catholic

Who gives Juliet the sleeping potion in Shakespeare's tragedy, Romeo and Juliet?

St. Alex says, place your answer in the form of a question in the combox, say an Our Father while you wait for the answer to be revealed.

Your humble prize for a correct answer is the satisfaction of knowing you are a brainiac.

24 July 2008

A little information

doesn't mix well with a big imagination

A member of the Knights of Columbus came over last night.

My husband had filled out a form to find out more information about joining the Knights. My husband, an Eagle Scout (trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, reverent, at least according to the BSA laws), is used to oaths and pledges and this hierarchical structure.

My uncle has been a Knight for over 60 years. We see the KofC at Mass often and I always point them out to my kids. I was happy my husband was going to join the Knights, even though he has no time to participate while he's working on his masters.

After my husband filled out all the forms and the gentleman left, I asked him what all the requirements were, were there any dues, any meetings, etc.

My husband mentioned he wouldn't officially be a Knight until the swearing in ceremony, which would take place within the next few months. However, I couldn't attend since it was a secret ceremony and he would have to swear an oath that he wouldn't tell anyone what it was about.

Say what?

Awhile back, I posted about my possible connection to the Knights Templar. All the talk of secrets and oaths has my mind going all sorts of places.

I asked hubby if he didn't think it was: creepy, nefarious, subversive, odd. He didn't think so. I don't mean to slam the Knights, but since I don't understand the reason for this oath, I find it "odd." The bible has several references to oaths and that you are NOT to swear an oath. Is it just me or isn't this a weird disconnect?

Now I envision secret handshakes, codes, daggers and dank basements filled with elderly men with feathered hats and satin sashes eating stale Tootsie Rolls.

I've often thought about going under cover and infiltrating the male-only Argument of the Month Club, but now the Knights have piqued my curiosity. I'd come up with a plan to get inside the secret swearing in if I wasn't afraid they'd chain me up in the dungeon if they ever caught me.

23 July 2008

Nature, nurture, nirvana

Back in junior high, which I think is called Middle School these days, I remember having to write a report where the teacher had to insist only one student, typically a girl, got to write her report on the Amish and one student got to write on birth order. For some reason, those were the "hot topics" of the day. Everyone wanted to write their report on the Amish.

The rest of us unlucky folks had to rack our brains for some other topic. That was the hard part, finding something to write about. Contrarian that I was, I remember doing my report on psychokinesis. Uri Geller, I believe, was doing his spoon bending thing during this time, so that must've been where I picked it up from. I felt a little like Wednesday Addams compared to the girls writing on the Amish, but at least I learned something new instead of checking out the same worn copies on the Amish from the library and writing the same report we had heard every couple of weeks.

My best friend was the seventh of eight kids. She always wanted to write the report on birth order. And, her family was a text book case of birth order: very successful first born, troubled middle group and prima donna younger kids. I think she wanted to use the "birth order" argument to ward off anyone's expectations. Her older siblings were, in order of birth, a doctor, a dentist, an electrical engineer, a hospital administrator, a drop-out-druggie, and an auto mechanic. I think she was hoping to make the argument that the most her parents could expect from her, being down at the end of the birth order spectrum, was waitress/cosmetology school drop out. Fortunately, her parents were of a generation prior to all the psychological insight of birth order and kept their expectations high.

Once again, the birth order argument is in the news. I even heard Dr. Ray mention it the other day and I had to groan. I missed what Dr. Ray had said on the topic (other than to hear him mocking it), so checked it out on the internet. Now the powers that be are telling us that our marriages will succeed or fail based on our birth order and that of our spouse. Not really anything new.

I'm a first born, so is my husband. According to all the research, it's a recipe for disaster. We should've signed a pre-nup. What were we thinking? You can't just rush into marriage without considering birth order -- what wanton and reckless disregard for research. There ought to be a law or at least we should've been in some intensive counseling prior to saying "I do." I even think canon law must address this some where.

My problem with this is, just like in the case with my friend, these notions remove personal responsibility from the equation. They remove God and free will. Just because I'm a first born doesn't mean I have to, ipso facto in triplicate, be in charge and clash with my husband who is also, by his birth order dictated nature, clamoring to be in charge. Funny how the idea of "being in charge" never has come up in the nearly 20 years we've been married. God knows it hasn't been a cake walk all those years, but I would say that it has been especially harmonious in the areas we are "supposed" to have problems. Getting my husband to clean the garage, well, those are areas I just have to bite my lip and offer up.

Today, it's hard to identify "birth order." Families just aren't having enough kids to have eldest, middle and youngest labels. Now what? Kids have to take on multiple roles? My son is an upper with middle child tendencies? My daughter is middle-youngest?

Personally, I think a lot of this is a character issue. I share a lot of traits with first borns, I'm a recovering perfectionist and a people pleaser, but I also know that I'm called to be a saint regardless of my birth order. I seriously doubt that God is going to reduce anyone's time in Purgatory because, "Oh my, I see you were a middle child. Poor thing. That's just so hard and unfair."

And, according to the article, it is a good thing Jesus never married, being an only child. Divorce court for sure.

21 July 2008


This was sent to me in an e-mail. Kind of where we are at with our Phonics program.

My four-year old Grandson is learning to read.

Yesterday he pointed at a picture in a zoo book and said, 'Look Grandpa! It's a frickin' elephant!'

I took a deep breath, then asked...'What did you call it?'

'It's a frickin' Elephant, Grandpa! It says so on the picture!' and so it does...

[scroll down]

[a bit further]


17 July 2008

Weekend Kneeler Jeopardy

Going to the cabin this weekend. Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Category: Titles

In what other city, besides Rome, does the bishop bear the title "Patriarch?"

St. Alex says, place your answer in the form of a question in the combox, say a Hail, Holy Queen, while you wait for the answer to be revealed.

Your humble prize for a correct answer is the satisfaction of knowing you are a very smart cookie.

Comp time

Because I'm one of the Vacation Bible School teachers at our parish next month, I have to attend, under penalty of excommunication or some similar such fate, a VIRTUS training program.

VIRTUS, from their website:

VIRTUS is the brand name that identifies best practices programs designed to help prevent wrongdoing and promote "rightdoing" within religious organizations. The VIRTUS programs empower organizations and people to better control risk and improve the lives of all those who interact with the Church.

The training I have to take is three hours long. After I registered for the class, I put a request in with the Big Guy upstairs and asked Him if I could substitute my time in this class for time off in Purgatory. And, I didn't just ask for a 1:1 comp. I asked for a 3:1 comp, since this experience is going to be like going to the dentist and having my wisdom teeth removed.

The abuse scandals are a complete tragedy. Few things are worse. However, this training is way off in a legal, CYA, realm to really do much to protect children. As I've mentioned before, my family was affected by the Father Ryan Erickson scandal. We need astute and strong leaders in our seminaries to catch these monsters before they get in a position of trust. Stop the abuse from even happening.

Blessed Mother, please protect our seminaries and seminarians. Provide us with many good priests and strong shepherds.

14 July 2008


Go check out the story on Ray's blog about Bishop-elect John LeVoir as Bishop of New Ulm!

LeVoir, 62, succeeds Archbishop John Nienstedt of St Paul and Minneapolis, who was transferred out of the exurban Minnesota church in April 2007. Ordained in 1981 and a parish priest throughout, the bishop-elect -- an accountant before entering seminary -- has authored a series of books, both on the teachings of John Paul II and the Image of God catechetical series.

Where Chant and Westerns collide

I have tinnitus -- a chronic case of never-ending ringing in my ears. As a child, I had tubes put in my ears when I was in first grade. My ears were pretty much OK until a few years ago, when I experienced some dramatic hearing loss accompanied by the hideous ringing.

Actually, I've always had the ringing in my ears, but it was so low that the room would have to be quiet before I could hear it. Now, the ringing is so loud I can't hear the phone ringing and have to have the TV on pretty loud just to rise above the noise in my head.

Rush Limbaugh has lost most of his hearing. He also has tinnitus. Rush attributes his tinnitus to a fertile, active brain. But, the real kicker is that he says his tinnitus sounds like Gregorian Chant...and sometimes a western tune. (No, I don't listen to Rush, I find him too bombastic and inflammatory for my tastes, someone who knew I had tinnitus told me about Rush's comments).

It's called tinnitus, "ringing of the bells," for a reason. If it was called Schola-itus I might believe he was hearing Chant. I only wish I was hearing Chant instead of ringing. Chant would put me in a good mood, calm me down, maybe even make me more contemplative. I'd trade the noise in my ears any day for persistent Chanting.

I hadn't heard that "fertile brain" song-and-dance before. What I had been told about tinnitus is that your brain gets used to hearing a range of sound. When you suffer hearing loss, your brain freaks out because of the silence in parts of this range and starts making its own noise to fill in the areas where the sound is missing. I don't know if the medical world really knows why this happens and they don't have any cures (other than teaching you to not "hear" the noise by not concentrating on it).

Everyone has aches and pains and various afflictions. I think this is God's way of giving me something to offer up each day. Many days, when I'm lacking in anything good to offer up, I always have this little suffering. Not much, but I think God knows my limitations. I used to pray God would take the tinnitus away. Now I just pray it doesn't get louder and I pray I don't start hearing rap music instead of ringing. Yes, I count my blessings, it could be worse.

A few years before my father died, I asked him one day after he had been praying silently for hours saying his daily rosary, knowing that he had a litany of intentions for so many people, who and what he was praying for. First intention he mentioned: he prayed for his daughter's ears and his son's eyes. This is 30 years after I had tubes put in my ears and had no subsequent problems. And, it was 30 years after my brother had surgery for a lazy eye. Dad was still praying. God bless him. Some day I hope to learn just how much my father has interceded for me. Sobering to think that I could possibly be deaf if it wasn't for his prayers.

Transcript from Rush Limbaugh:

RUSH: In fact, there's a story in the stack today that the brain creates noise and the smarter and the more active the brain, the more noise. They figured the older that you get the less noise the brain creates. Now, you people know about my brain; it's one of the best. And my brain does create noise, I'm not kidding. Some people have said, "Well, Rush, it's tinnitus, the ringing tones that you hear in your ears." Since I went deaf, I have this all the time, but in my right ear constantly. It's been there since I lost my hearing, and finally it's become so much a part of my existence, I have to concentrate on hearing it, but it's there. I really think I'm hearing Gregorian chants all day long, and it's crystal clear. I asked the ear doctors about it, they said the mind plays strange games, but it literally sounds like a high quality tape just looped in my brain as though I have normal, very good hearing. It's the strangest thing. I read this story today and it explains it. I have a great brain, and great brains make a lot of noise. Why it's Gregorian chants, I couldn't tell you. My own personal soundtrack and it's in there for something.

Speaking of soundtracks, sometimes I do hear soundtracks from Westerns. I do. In fact, let me give you an example of a soundtrack of a western that I sometimes hear. You remember the old Blazing Saddles tune? Well, my brain plays a different version of that.

(playing of Blazing Saddles spoof)

Right, all right. That's white comedian Paul Shanklin, ladies and gentlemen, of course the takeoff on Blazing Saddles, theme song for the movie Blazing Saddles. There's something on the tip of my fertile brain and now these Gregorian chants are so loud that I cannot remember what it was I was going to say.

11 July 2008


It almost came to blows in the neighborhood last night. All the neighbor kids were sitting around on the grass of the neighbor's yard getting ready to play a game.

What to do?

Then someone suggested the game Duck, Duck, Goose.

Just to clarify, the game is called, Duck, Duck, GREY DUCK. This is Minnesota, that's what it's called here, everyone knows that. It's like Walter Mondale, Prince, hot dish, and ice fishing -- true blue Minnesotan.

Well, when one of the neighbor boys, a transplant from California, called it Duck, Duck, Goose, my son fraternally corrects him and tells him it's Duck, Duck, Grey Duck.

A shouting match ensued.

Needless to say, the game was called on account of poor sportsmanship. And, I'm happy to report, no one was injured.

I KNOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!

At least it was the kids fighting and not the parents!

Mary garden

This summer my gardens have been slightly neglected. With the kids being more and more active, I can't contain them in the backyard when the other neighbor kids are out running around like banshees.

My new plantings on the west side of the house are coming along. Rabbits did manage to gnaw off part of my special type of Veronica, but I think one of the three has survived. I sprinkled Bone Meal around and that seeems to have kept the rabbits at bay.

My front yard needs a great deal of work since one side is just a jumble of plants that are all the same height. Just not very attractive.

Some people I know have Mary Gardens. I'd like to do this, but would have to rip up other areas to put it in.

A Mary Garden is a garden filled with flowers, plants and trees named for Our Lady and Jesus, designed to be a place of beauty that reminds us of our Lord and our Lady, allows one to experience God's creation, and invites prayer and contemplation. Because Mary is a type of the Church as Bride, the garden should be enclosed if at all possible, based on the words in the fourth chapter of Solomon's Canticle of Canticles.

The Fisheaters website has a HUGE list of plants for a Mary garden and their meanings. I have plants throughout the yard that I bought because of their religious significance, specifically Lady's Mantle and Hyssop, but don't have a place that is dedicated to the Blessed Mother. Maybe I'll clean up the front yard first, then plan a garden that will be more of a formal Mary garden in the back yard.

But, with homeschooling starting soon, I don't know when I will have time to concentrate on planning a garden! I do need an good excuse to attend the Friends' School Plant Sale again in the Spring *cough* I'd attend the plant sale even if I had a cement yard!

The hyssop I have in my yard is a reminder of the Dominican Rite parish I used to attend in Seattle. The Asperges, sung as the priest came out and sprinkled Holy Water on the congregation, was one of my favorite parts of the Mass. I'm not so enamored with the hyssop in my yard since it is very prolific and is now everywhere.

Asperges me, Domine, hyssopo, et mundabor: lavabis me, et super nivem dealbabor. (Ps. 50) Miserere mei, Deus, secundum magnam misericordiam tuam. Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto. Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen. Asperges me, Domine, hyssopo, et mundabor: lavabis me, et super nivem dealbabor.

* Link to Fisheaters and their extensive list of plants for a Mary Garden
* Link to a prior post of mine on the Dominican Rite, a beautiful and rich Rite you should experience if you're able to find one being said.

09 July 2008

Mortifications courtesy of Facebook

The fervor over Facebook has finally subsided, at least for me. Admittedly, I never really got the whole idea as it seemed just another black hole for my time. I am happy I connected with a few folks and I did send my new BFF, Monsignor Ganswein, a birthday greeting, but kind of like my blog, I like to keep things on the "down low."

One of the really bad things about Facebook is that it is as close as it comes to a Borg collective. When one of your "friends" does something, the system automatically, as part of its structure, is set up to ask, "Wouldn't you like to invite your friends to join too?" If someone sends you a virtual "gift" then you have to load another application just to accept the gift, and the system then asks you the same question, "You don't want to be alone, do you? Ask your friends to join you, it will be great. Don't be the only loser not to belong."

When you first log into Facebook, it also tells you everything your friends have been doing while on Facebook. Similarly, every profile page spells out each move that friend has made, every comment, every thought.

A while back, dear, sweet Ray sent me (and probably all of his friends) a "friend suggestion." Ray suggested I become friends with Anthony Basil Taylor. I don't know about you, but that name sounds very British to me, quite European at least. But, since I trust Ray, I don't check out who Anthony Basil Taylor is by running his name through Google. However, the Facebook "friend request" automatically brings up his picture, so I at least have a name and a face.

Since I already assumed the man was British, seeing the clerical collar made me think "Church of England." He does look a bit stuffy, so all the pieces lead me to conclude he is a pastor in the Church of England. Since he is a friend of Ray's, and since I trust Ray, no "proceed with caution" lights were going off in my head. I've gotten burned way too many times assuming that a man in a collar is a Catholic priest. Having been Catholic all my life, a man in a collar is just that -- a priest. It's been quite an education, many times learned by awkward and embarrassing situations, that not every man in a collar is a Catholic priest.

I send a friend request, per Ray's instruction, to Anthony Basil Taylor. In my friend request, since I don't know this man from Adam, I debate whether or not I should ask him if he is a Catholic priest. Maybe I should ask him if he's an Anglican? Having stepped in it too many times in the past, I fall back to the safe position of, "Ray suggested I send you a friend request." Not very chummy, but at least I don't ask him if he's Anglican or Catholic or include other petty small talk.

A very short time later, Anthony Basil Taylor confirms me as a friend. I then look at his profile (which you cannot view unless you are already confirmed as a person's friend -- an odd Catch-22 in Facebook). Who is this man?

BISHOP Anthony Basil Taylor of the Diocese of Little Rock, Arkansas.

Even though I hadn't asked the Bishop if he was, in fact, Catholic, I was utterly and completely mortified at how incredibly close I had come to total embarrassment...with a Catholic priest, and a BISHOP to boot! D'oh!!

Two things here. It's just plain wrong that a bishop doesn't use his title (people like me can get into lots of trouble with our assumptions!) and secondly, I trusted Ray.

As they say in the work world, it was yet another "lessons learned" experience.

08 July 2008

The Catholic vote

My genealogy books are filled with newspaper articles of my shirt-tail relatives' involvement in politics. Many, many branches of the family, on both my father's and mother's sides, are very politically active. I'm currently related to two political office holders: Senator Dorgan (D) from North Dakota, and in a surprising turn of events, a Republican House member from Wisconsin. I contend that the only reason that my cousin, the Republican, got elected, is that my extended family is so incredibly huge that she was elected on their votes alone, albeit those lines of farmers voted for her begrudgingly, with gritted teeth and a few cuss words.

Back in the day, farmers were Democrats. Plain, simple. My farming family is also all Catholic. This didn't used to be a problem as these things went hand-in-hand, and they were very proud of their Faith and their Politics. As always, times change but the Catholic Church does not. My family's political affiliation, like their Faith, is part of their DNA, despite these two pieces of their soul being at odds.

Unfortunately, the Democratic party has been affected by relativism and has morally derailed. My family has been slow to change. Unwilling to change. It could be at the expense of their souls.

Other cousins, very active in their parish, community, and Democratic politics, have been more willing to compromise their Faith than their politics. I'm sure their saintly and staunchly Catholic parents would be aghast to learn their children now support birth control, abortion, euthanasia, population control and a host of other moral evils.

In a short period of time, family members went from supporting morally acceptable Democratic candidates, to voting for candidates that support immoral causes, to internalizing those beliefs and spouting them off themselves. All this within one lifetime.

About a year ago, Ma Beck had the following maps on her blog. Since branches of my family and my husband's family both came from Germany, mine being Catholic and his being fiercely Lutheran, along with several Bavarian Catholic branches, the maps are an interesting visual.

Germany, 1932. Percentage of Catholics with black being the highest.

(In the top left of the map, where the black makes a "peak" is where my family is from, the Duchy of Oldenburg.)

Percentage of people voting for the Nazi party. Black is highest.

A lady in my homeschool group recently sent out the following (shown below) Time article (H/T: Jean). It is also interesting to note the counties and states where Catholics have a higher percentage (darker red). It will be telling to see how the country votes.

The intro to the piece says, "With the economy and Iraq topping voter concerns, abortion has receded into the political background. That puts Catholics up for grabs—and Obama is winning some converts." Since when has abortion receded into the background? Especially when we have a candidate who is unwilling to protect the life of the unborn and the born.

I suspect the map of how Catholics vote in the next election will be completely unlike the German map. Our shepherds need to be more vocal in just how grave the matter of voting for a pro-abort candidate is because many Catholics, a large number of my family, are rationalizing their collusion with evil as something acceptible, even necessary.

It is not morally possible for any Catholic to support abortion, euthanasia, fetal stem cell research, human cloning, or same-sex marriage. There are no ways around this, no justifications whatever. Why? For the simple reason that the Church holds these things to be intrinsically evil. They are evil in themselves, and no circumstances or subjective conditions can ever change that.
Father Corapi

* Link to the Time map, for clearer viewing

07 July 2008

Bear!! Fireworks!!!

Things that make you go, "AHHHHHH"

There was a bear at our cabin this weekend. We never get bears. Since my husband's parents, sister and her husband, uncle, and aunt and her husband, all live within five miles of our cabin, we often hear their stories about bears climbing up their decks to get to bird feeders and hanging out in their yards looking for food. But, because our cabin is at the end of a half-mile long peninsula (bears and deer supposedly don't like to wander down peninsulas, they must've read Sun Tsu's, "Ancient Art of War"), we don't get bears. We don't even get too many deer. I can have plants around my cabin without worrying that the deer will eat them all.

However, this weekend, as we were coming in to get ready to go see the fireworks, a bear crawled out of the woods on one side of the road. I had gone in the house with my daughter, while my husband was outside with my son. I just happened to look out the window and saw the bear appear across the road from our driveway, while my husband and son were near the door by the driveway.

Being a good mom, I went screaming like a maniac that there was a bear and told hubby and my son to get in the house. All was well and we didn't see the bear again. He must've thought I was mighty un-neighborly.

Fireworks were being shot off at the golf course on the lake my parents-in-law live on. It connects to the lake hubby's aunt and uncle live on and they have a brand new pontoon. This was our transportation for the evening. The pontoon is amazing, with iPOD hookup, GPS, stereo speakers throughout, faucet, cooler, you name it. Not grandpa's fishing boat.

We dropped anchor a short distance off the shore of the golf course and tied up with my brother-in-law's bass boat, since they were meeting us on the water for the fireworks show. The kids were doing well considering it was way past their bedtime and they hadn't taken naps that day.

Before the show started, hubby's uncle had to play the tunes from his iPOD, which included the Oak Ridge Boy's singing, "My baby is American made." And, the whole Woody Guthrie version of "Alice's Restaurant." This was his attempt at patriotic music. *Cough*

Fireworks were great and the kids loved them, even my daughter who was covering her eyes for part of the show.

When it was time to go, the pontoon's motor wouldn't start. Seems the battery was dead. The iPOD had done it in. This shouldn't have happened, but it seemed there was a short in the electrical system somewhere. But, have no fear, my brother-in-law who is a serious fisherman had a spare battery in his boat (it was for his trolling motor). So, the dead battery was removed and the spare installed. We were on our way again.

Got the kids in bed around 11:30pm. We were all exhausted. Hope you had a wonderful weekend!

03 July 2008

Flying colors

In honor of the 4th of July, could you pass these quizzes with flying colors?

You Passed the US Citizenship Test

Congratulations - you got 9 out of 10 correct!

And, I could tell you exactly which question I got wrong...


You Know Your States

You got 10/10 correct.
You've got a pretty good handle on US geography.
There's a good chance you've visited at least a dozen of the fifty states.


You Are Most Like Ronald Reagan

People tend to think you're a god - or that you almost ruined the country.
But even if people do disagree with you, they still fall victim to your charms!


Hard to believe I'm like Reagan. I changed a few of my answers and got W, so I think I'll stick with Reagan.


02 July 2008

If it wasn't bad enough

that women have to be thin...

"...all anyone wanted to cast was the scrawny kid who looked like he got sand kicked in his face. The big, great looking models just stopped going to Europe. They knew they’d never get cast." NY Times, Vanishing Point

Male models are even experiencing pressure to be thin. Not just trim, but anorexic looking. I don't know what the designers are thinking, but these models are a complete turn off. I don't even want to look at their ads, little alone buy their goods. Maybe I'm not even in the demographics any more...

Are they targeting men or women? I don't think women have evolved past the point of wanting a strong male provider. Call me a cave girl, but I could never have married a man like this, which wouldn't have been an issue because I never would've dated a man like this. Give me tall, dark and handsome...even hairy . I want a spouse who's going to be a husband and father, not a cake topper.

Despite the earnings potential of these guys, they don't really appear to be husband material. If their modeling gig ever came to an end, I don't think they could run down to the local construction site and apply for a job without some serious snickers. And, from a woman's point of view, they don't look like they could hold down a desk job because those jobs typically require some independent thinking and these guys are completely caught up in someone else's idea of beauty and fashion.

This weekend I came across two men who had shaved their legs and obviously applied lotion to provide that "oh-so-supple" look. The first man was spotted at Sam's Club in the check out line in front of us. He was impersonating a metrosexual, wearing a blue tooth phone and all the other required accoutrements. But, the other was a married man who was eating dinner with his wife and young daughter. Things are really backwards when the man has to borrow his wife's razor to shave his legs.

If my husband suddenly started shaving his legs, I'd schedule an appointment with a mental health specialist. I'd even consult a canon lawyer. It has to be grounds for an annulment.

* The Vanishing Point
* Male models: Pressure to be thin (WSJ)

01 July 2008

Summer reads

I didn't start reading for pleasure until five years ago when I was pregnant with my son. Up to that point, almost everything I read had been a text book or technical journal, so my leisure time consisted of anything but reading. Reading was work. As a child, I never read the classics or learned to enjoy reading. Considering that both my parents were avid readers and strongly encouraged my brother and me to read, I never acquired the interest and subsequent joy of reading for pleasure.

Initially, when I was pregnant with my son, I was far too sick to do anything. Half way into my second trimester, things finally settled down enough that I was able to relax; then I discovered reading. Most of the things I read were junk -- they still are. If I'm going to read for pleasure, then it has to be something that occupies my mind, but doesn't tax it. Anything beyond a trashy mystery novel is too much, it's drudgery. Trashy novels are a quick read; I'm too impatient to spend more than a few days with a book. I have a strange aversion to reading things that might actually require concentration.

Since I hope to provide my children with a more classical experience, saturated with "great books," I've been trying to read the classics myself. Some of them, like Dickens and Austen, I thoroughly enjoy. Others, like one of my current reads, Crime and Punishment, are truly well-named. In the few weeks this book has sat on my head board, I've only managed to trudge through four chapters. I want to know what happens and be done with it, I just don't want to have to read it.

However, I did manage to read one of Scott Hahn's books (I went from reading zero books for decades, to reading several books at once). I had always kept Scott Hahn's books at an arm's length. I can't even explain why. Part of it was I just didn't know what to think of the man. It seemed he was trying too hard. Plus, since he is a professor, I assumed his books would be dry and "professorial."

I was in the middle of reading Mark Shea's, Making Senses Out of Scripture, when I was pulled off-track and inexplicably checked to see if the library carried any of Scott Hahn's books. Given the subject matter, I never thought the public library, of all places, would actually carry this book given our non-establishment and politically correct ideas. But, they had several of Scott Hahn's books. I even managed to find, "The Lamb's Supper" sitting right on the shelf.

The book really wasn't what I thought it was going to be. First, it's actually a quick read. That's a positive in my estimation. And, it wasn't at all dry or professorial. It is an easy read, however, I didn't really get a lot out of it. This surprised me. Really surprised me. Those who have been reading my blog know that I'm a poorly catechised cradle Catholic. There's been a huge learning curve in my attempts to fill in the gaps of my knowledge. I thought reading Scott Hahn would really boost me up the curve.

Maybe it's because I'm getting further up the curve that I expect more, I need more, than a book that seems to have Protestants as its target audience. It could also be because I've read books by others in this "apologist frat" that Scott Hahn seems to be part of and have heard much of this before. I did appreciate how he shows the connection between the Mass and the book of Revelation in a little more detail than I had known. I hadn't previously heard about the connections between Heaven and Mount Zion, so that was interesting.

I know Scott Hahn can think circles around me and I guess I assumed that this book would do that. Maybe it's good he's able to articulate these ideas down to my level, but I still was left feeling a little disappointed that I didn't get a lot out of the book. Bible study this fall is on the Book of Revelation, so that should provide some more in-depth information to elaborate on what Scott Hahn touched on.

I am glad that Scott Hahn corrected my thinking on what the Second Coming might be like:

Consider, for a moment, Jesus' Jewish contemporaries and their worldly expectation of the Messiah: He would establish the kingdom of God by military and political means -- conquer Rome, subjugate the gentiles, and so on. We know that such hopes were dashed away. Rather than marching on Jerusalem with His armies, Jesus waged a campaign of mercy and love, manifested by the meals shared with tax collectors and other sinners.

And we all learned our lesson, right? It doesn't seem that way. Because, today, many Christians still hope for the same messianic vengeance as the first-century Jews. Though Christ came peacefully the first time, they say, He'll come back with a holy vengeance in the end, crushing His Foes with almighty force.

As Scott Hahn points out, Jesus is called the Lamb of God in St. John's gospel and in the Book of Revelation, not the Lion of Judah. It doesn't sound like a lamb is coming to kick butt. Interesting point.

Next up, something I want to get under my belt before the Miles Christi retreat is, The Three Conversions in the Spiritual Life, by Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, OP. I got this book for Christmas and haven't gotten around to reading it. It's quite short, but I think it will take more concentration to get through it. I've put down my book, The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, until I attend the retreat. That book did mention that I would experience discouraging thoughts about attending the retreat, but so far I'm pretty jazzed about it. My spiritual life has been stagnating and it's really time to take a step forward.

In between, I'll still read my trashy mystery novels. I've got a back-log of about three Patricia Cornwell's to tackle. Her stuff isn't really trashy, neither is Anne Perry's, but Janet Evanovich's...ei yi yi.