30 October 2008

Halloween Kneeler Caption Call

It's Halloween...woo hoo!! Happy Halloween!!

Seems the election has been weighing heavily on everyone. In between your novenas and chaplets, take a moment for some levity (God is good!) and try your best shot at coming up with a caption for this pic. Place your captions in the com box.

If this had food in it, I'm sure Vincenzo would have something to say :)

29 October 2008

There's more than an election coming

I know our thoughts on the election and rightly so. It seems everyone I know is praying, saying novenas and chaplets and going to Adoration. Our homeschool group is doing a novena for the election and my bible study group is doing a Patriotic Rosary and we all signed up for a state to pray for. I have Oregon. Think what you will about blending patriotism into the rosary, it's clear our country can use all the prayers it gets. Father Corapi has been quite vocal in calling for prayers. May God have mercy on us. Our Lady of Victory, intercede for us.

The Poor Souls and the Catechism
As I posted last year, November is also the time to remember the Poor Souls in our prayers. Here's what the Catechism has to say about prayers for the Poor Souls:

956 The intercession of the saints. "Being more closely united to Christ, those who dwell in heaven fix the whole Church more firmly in holiness.... They do not cease to intercede with the Father for us, as they proffer the merits which they acquired on earth through the one mediator between God and men, Christ Jesus.... So by their fraternal concern is our weakness greatly helped."

"Do not weep, for I shall be more useful to you after my death and I shall help you then more effectively than during my life." ~St. Dominic, dying, to his brothers.

"I want to spend my heaven in doing good on earth." ~St. Therese of Lisieux, The Final Conversations

957 Communion with the saints. "It is not merely by the title of example that we cherish the memory of those in heaven; we seek, rather, that by this devotion to the exercise of fraternal charity the union of the whole Church in the Spirit may be strengthened. Exactly as Christian communion among our fellow pilgrims brings us closer to Christ, so our communion with the saints joins us to Christ, from whom as from its fountain and head issues all grace, and the life of the People of God itself" (Eph 4:1-6):

We worship Christ as God's Son; we love the martyrs as the Lord's disciples and imitators, and rightly so because of their matchless devotion towards their king and master. May we also be their companions and fellow disciples (Martyrium Polycarpi, 17: Apostolic Fathers II/3, 396)

958 Communion with the dead. "In full consciousness of this communion of the whole Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, the Church in its pilgrim members, from the very earliest days of the Christian religion, has honored with great respect the memory of the dead; and 'because it is a holy and a wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins' she offers her suffrages for them." Our prayer for them is capable not only of helping them, but also of making their intercession for us effective.

Charity for the Poor Souls - Indulgences
You are also able to receive an indulgence for the Poor Souls. I've been doing this as best I can since my mother passed away over 20 years ago and my father over eight years ago. Plus, I have a huge family that has gone on before with few to remember them. From the Catholic Culture site:

It is during November that the Church meditates on the Communion of Saints, which is the charitable link with the faithful who have already reached heaven (Church Triumphant), the faithful departed who are still expiating their sins in Purgatory (Church Suffering) and of the pilgrim faithful here on earth (Church Militant). "In this wonderful exchange, the holiness of one profits others, well beyond the harm that the sin of one could cause others. Thus recourse to the communion of saints lets the contrite sinner be more promptly and efficaciously purified of the punishments for sin." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1475).

On November 1st the Church celebrates the Solemnity of All Saints, a holyday of obligation (not in our diocese this year), honoring all those faithful in heaven. On November 2, and throughout November, the Church remembers our faithful departed on the Feast of All Souls. The need and duty of prayer for the departed souls has been acknowledged by the Church at all times. It is recommended in the Scriptures of the Old Testament: "It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins."(2 Macch. 12, 46). This duty has found expression not only in public and private prayers but especially in the offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the repose of souls.

During November the Church especially prays for all who are in the purifying fires of Purgatory, waiting for the day when they will join the company of the saints in heaven. The celebration of Mass is the highest means the Church can provide for charity for the dead, but we can also relieve their sufferings through our prayers, sufferings and penances. We an also help the Poor Souls by doing acts and prayers that have indulgences attached to them. There are many indulgences, applicable only to the souls in Purgatory, that can be obtained during the month of November.

An indulgence is "the remission before God of the temporal punishment due for sins already forgiven as far as their guilt is concerned." To obtain this remission there are proper dispositions and certain conditions predetermined by the Church that must be met by the faithful. The remission is acquired through the intervention of the Church, who has the power to loose and bind granted through Jesus Christ. "As minister of the Redemption, authoritatively dispenses and applies the treasury of the satisfaction won by Christ and the Saints" (Enchiridion of Indulgences).

To understand this practice of indulgences, the Catechism explains:

It is necessary to understand that sin has a double consequence. Grave sin deprives us of communion with God and therefore makes us incapable of eternal life, the privation of which is called the "eternal punishment" of sin. On the other hand every sin, even venial, entails an unhealthy attachment to creatures, which must be purified either here on earth, or after death in the state called Purgatory. This purification frees one from what is called the "temporal punishment" of sin. These two punishments must not be conceived of as a kind of vengeance inflicted by God from without, but as following from the very nature of sin. A conversion which proceeds from a fervent charity can attain the complete purification of the sinner in such a way that no punishment would remain.

The forgiveness of sin and restoration of communion with God entail the remission of the eternal punishment of sin, but temporal punishment of sin remains. While patiently bearing sufferings and trials of all kinds and, when the day comes, serenely facing death, the Christian must strive to accept this temporal punishment of sin as a grace. He should strive by works of mercy and charity, as well as by prayer and the various practices of penance, to put off completely the "old man" and to put on the "new man." (1472, 1473)

An indulgence can either be partial or plenary. It is partial if it removes only part of the temporal punishment due to sin, or plenary if it removes all punishment.

To be able to gain an indulgence, one must have the intention to gain them, and perform the works at the time and in the manner prescribed.

To attain a plenary indulgence, three conditions must accompany the prescribed act:

the faithful must receive the sacrament of confession, either eight days before or after the pious act is performed,
receive Holy Communion on that day and recite prayers for the intentions of the Holy Father (one Our Father and one Hail Mary is the minimum, but any other additional prayers may be added).
All attachment to sin, even venial sin, must be absent. If one's disposition is less than perfect or if some of the above conditions are not fulfilled, the indulgence becomes partial.

One must also remember that only one plenary indulgence a day can be acquired.

Indulgenced Acts for the Poor Souls
A partial indulgence can be obtained by devoutly visiting a cemetery and praying for the departed, even if the prayer is only mental. One can gain a plenary indulgence visiting a cemetery each day between November 1 and November 8. These indulgences are applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory.

A plenary indulgence, again applicable only the Souls in Purgatory, is also granted when the faithful piously visit a church or a public oratory on November 2. In visiting the church or oratory, it is required, that one Our Father and the Creed be recited.

A partial indulgence, applicable only to the souls in purgatory, can be obtained when the Eternal Rest (Requiem aeternam) is prayed. This is a good prayer to recite especially during the month of November:

Requiem aeternam dona ei (eis), Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei (eis). Requiescat (-ant) in pace Amen.

Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Many families add to the "Prayer Before Meals" the second half of the "Eternal Rest" prayer:

Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts, which we are about to receive, from Thy bounty, through Christ, our Lord, Amen. And may the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Other families recite the "Eternal Rest" prayer in between decades of the rosary, or after praying the Angelus.
It is a good devotion to pray for the departed all through the year, not just November. After these Souls in Purgatory are in heaven, they will intercede for us. We should all develop prayerful habits, such as praying the "Eternal Rest" prayer when passing cemeteries, to remind us of our eternal destiny.

For more information on the Church's teachings on indulgences, read the Enchiridion of Indulgences given by the 1968 Decree of the Sacred Apostolic Penitentiary.

Also see The Catechism of the Catholic Church section on Indulgences, Part 2, Section 2, Chapter 2, Article 4, Subsection 10, 1471-1479.

Prayer of St. Gertrude the Great
Another good thing to do for the Poor Souls is say the Prayer of St. Gertrude.

Our Lord dictated the following prayer to St. Gertrude the Great to release 1,000 Souls from Purgatory each time it is said.

"Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen."

27 October 2008

Shakespeare the Catholic

Back in May, when I attended the Chesterton conference, I hadn't heard of Joseph Pearce. I knew only a little more of Shakespeare than I did of Pearce, and I knew little of British history. For me, reading Shakespeare's plays were painful exercises done in my college prep writing class. Being completely ignorant of most history not tied to my own country, the plays were read not knowing or appreciating the context and richness of their setting. For that matter, I don't think any attempt was made to place Shakespeare's work in time and I can't recall that Queen Elizabeth was mentioned, or even if she had been, I knew so little of her it would've made as much impact as hearing that Zu-Zu was president of Mars...just a name associated with a place I knew nothing about.

When I got to college, I found how worthless my college prep history and college prep writing classes had been.

At the Chesterton conference, I met up with Ray who raved about hearing Joseph Pearce speak at a prior conference, so we grabbed a good seat with me hoping Pearce would be done soon so that I could hear Father Longenecker speak on Chesterton.

I was caught off-guard, pleasantly so, by Pearce's speech on Shakespeare. Previously, Shakespeare had been a subject I cared little about, with British history coming in close behind, but now I was so intrigued I couldn't wait to get my hands on Pearce's book, "The Quest for Shakespeare."

Being on a limited budget, I finally was able to get the book through interlibrary loan. In the interim, I had the time to read some of the reviews of Pearce's book and also the not-so-nice review in First Things. Robert Miola, in his review of, "The Quest for Shakespeare," criticizes Pearce for not relying on or citing primary sources and for considering Shakespeare a Catholic merely "by association." Another review I read criticizes Pearce for looking at history with rose colored glasses.

I see their arguments, but still loved Pearce's book despite them.

In this day and age, I think most people have learned the dangers of relying on secondary sources when they have regrettably forwarded on e-mails that have later turned out to not be true. Even grade school kids know they can't use Jimmy's opinion about sharks in their book reports. Whenever a primary source is available, it should be used.

But, IMHO, what is known about Shakespeare from primary sources has been poured over, rehashed, and analyzed from just about every conceivable angle, except possibly from the Catholic perspective. What is known about Shakespeare's life from primary sources probably fills a scant page and is limited to things like birth, marriage and death records. Maybe the strict academics get giddy with that information, but these common denominator facts can be found at Wikipedia and don't do much to further anyone's understanding of Shakespeare or fire up anyone's interest, especially the interest of someone like me who always considered Shakespeare to be a snoozer. Though I may be going out on a limb, I suspect Pearce has checked out the primary sources. I don't think regurgitating what was already known was what Pearce was trying to do.

I've been an amateur genealogist for decades. I want to "get to know" my ancestors, understand what brought them to this country, know what hardships and challenges they encountered and gain some insight about their lives. I spend a lot of time learning the history of the area, finding out about what life was like during that time period and trying to "crawl into their lives" as best I can. To me, this is far more interesting than having a huge family tree full of names along with birth, marriage and death information.

For one of my Irish branches, the family that I associate most closely with, I tracked my great-great grandfather and his family back to Ireland. Despite having the birth, death and marriage information, I've walked through the cemeteries, spent countless hours looking through records in court houses, read local histories, gone to local historical societies and libraries, and talked to people in the area all in my own "quest" to understand my ancestors a bit better. I've visited the places this family had lived in Wisconsin, areas outside Toronto (and learned what life was like for Catholics in Victorian Canada), places in Washington State and in Ireland. When I finally "found" my great-great grandfather's grave in an old cemetery in southern Wisconsin, I felt like I knew him and would recognize him on the street.

I've learned about my Scottish ancestors, their possible ties to the Gowrie Conspiracy and the Knights Templar and visited their still standing homes just outside Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace. I've walked through the small alpine town and climbed through the hills where my Swiss great-grandfather pastured his cows and sat in a pew of the church he attended. The northern German towns where my family lived and suffered during the 30 Years War would be unrecognizable to them today. The home another branch of Irish ancestors lived with their 16 children before being evicted during the famine, is now a garage. These things are what make history, my family history, interesting, not the cold, hard, impersonal dates. Anyone can dig those up, but to bring some amount of "life" to a long dead ancestor is much more of a challenge.

That's what I believe was Pearce's aim in his book. He gathers all the "circumstantial" evidence of Shakespeare's life and tries to help us understand him. It's not "guilt by association" to posit that Shakespeare was a Catholic. That Shakespeare's parents were Catholic and his daughter was Catholic says a great deal, from my genealogical perspective, because one way to track people is by their religious affiliation. Once a person changes faith, it is extremely rare that their children will adopt the faith of their grandparents. Although it may be a small sampling, I've never seen it happen in my family. And, given the persecutions that were happening at the time, it is hard to imagine that Shakespeare's daughter would've become a Catholic. It makes much more sense that Shakespeare was a recusant Catholic and handed down the Faith to his daughter.

It's not revisionist to consider Shakespeare a Catholic if so much points to that conclusion and away from everything else. I think Pearce knew a great deal about Shakespeare before writing his book and this information then led him to believe Shakespeare was Catholic. Pearce merely went back through all the information again to show the reader how he came to the conclusion that Shakespeare was a Catholic. His book is a vivid and interesting "thinking out loud" telling of the story of Shakespeare's life, some things slightly speculative (association with Campion), other points far more plausible.

And, as Pearce shows, a reading of Shakespeare's work with a Catholic understanding of Faith and theology will illuminate a good deal of what would be missed if the reader didn't have that grounding.

25 October 2008

Weekend Kneeler Jeopardy

Last weekend of going up to the cabin. Actually, we already closed up the cabin since it didn't make any sense to heat the place all winter, so we are staying with my PIL. The beach club on the lake where my PIL live is having it's Halloween party and my MIL wanted us to attend.

Here's something I recently learned since I know little of British History. It's probably obvious to most Brits, but I never learned this stuff this stuff in school...I barely learned about the Pilgrims, the Revolution, Churchill and Thatcher!

CATEGORY: British History

What convert to Catholicism was known for being eloquent, elusive, educated, courageous, bold and daring, and is known for his Brag. He was a Jesuit priest and martyr, now a blessed, a biography of his life was written by Evelyn Waugh and his example strengthened the resolve of the persecuted Catholics of the day?

St. Alex says to put your answer in the form of a question in the combox, say a chaplet for the election while you wait for the answer to be revealed. Demerits for using a search engine, but educated guesses are welcome and encouraged.

Have a wonderful weekend!

24 October 2008

Knights who say ni

Michael PALIN as a Knight who says Ni in Monty Python and the Holy Grail

How incredibly disappointing. I hardly could believe it when I heard that there are some Knights of Columbus that are breaking ranks and speaking out against their leader who was critical of Biden, and have gone so far as to create their own website, Knights for Obama.

I don't know what it is they are sworn to defend if it isn't the Church, which strongly supports the right to life. May Our Lady knock them off their high horses and break the spell of Obama the Enchanter.

A great scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail...at least this is fiction

TIM: To the north there lies a cave -- the cave of Kyre Banorg --
wherein, carved in mystic runes upon the very living rock, the last
words of Ulfin Bedweer of Regett [boom] proclaim the last resting
place of the most Holy Grail.
ARTHUR: Where could we find this cave, O Tim?
TIM: Follow! But! follow only if ye be men of valor, for the entrance
to this cave is guarded by a creature so foul, so cruel that no man
yet has fought with it and lived! Bones of four fifty men lie strewn
about its lair. So, brave knights, if you do doubt your courage or
your strength, come no further, for death awaits you all with nasty
big pointy teeth.
ARTHUR: What an eccentric performance.
[clop clop whinny]
KNIGHT: They're nervous, sire.
ARTHUR: Then we'd best leave them here and carry on on foot. Dis-mount!
TIM: Behold the cave of Kyre Banorg!
ARTHUR: Right! Keep me covered.
KNIGHT: What with?
ARTHUR: Just keep me covered.
TIM: Too late!
TIM: There he is!
ARTHUR: Where?
TIM: There!
ARTHUR: What, behind the rabbit?
TIM: It is the rabbit!
ARTHUR: You silly sod! You got us all worked up!
TIM: Well, that's no ordinary rabbit. That's the most foul, cruel,
and bad-tempered rodent you ever set eyes on.
ROBIN: You tit! I soiled my armor I was so scared!
TIM: Look, that rabbit's got a vicious streak a mile wide, it's a
KNIGHT: Get stuffed!
TIM: It'll do you a trick, mate!
KNIGHT: Oh, yeah?
ROBIN: You mangy Scot git!
TIM: I'm warning you!
ROBIN: What's he do, nibble your bum?
TIM: He's got huge, sharp-- he can leap about-- look at the bones!
ARTHUR: Go on, Boris. Chop his head off!
BORIS: Right! Silly little bleeder. One rabbit stew comin' right up!
TIM: Look!
BORIS: Aaaugh!
ARTHUR: Jesus Christ!
TIM: I warned you!
ROBIN: I peed again!
TIM: I warned you! But did you listen to me? Oh, no, you knew it all,
didn't you? Oh, it's just a harmless little bunny, isn't it? Well,
it's always the same, I always--
ARTHUR: Oh, shut up!
TIM: --But do they listen to me?--
ARTHUR: Right!
TIM: -Oh, no--
KNIGHTS: Charge!
[squeak squeak]
KNIGHTS: Aaaaugh! Aaaugh! etc.
KNIGHTS: Run away! Run away!
TIM: Haw haw haw. Haw haw haw. Haw haw.
ARTHUR: Right. How many did we lose?
KNIGHT: Gawain.
KNIGHT: Hector.
ARTHUR: And Boris. That's five.
GALAHAD: Three, sir.
ARTHUR: Three. Three. And we'd better not risk another frontal
assault, that rabbit's dynamite.
ROBIN: Would it help to confuse it if we run away more?
ARTHUR: Oh, shut up and go and change your armor.
GALAHAD: Let us taunt it! It may become so cross that it will make
a mistake.
ARTHUR: Like what?
GALAHAD: Well,....
ARTHUR: Have we got bows?
LAUNCELOT: We have the Holy Hand Grenade.
ARTHUR: Yes, of course! The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch! 'Tis one
of the sacred relics Brother Maynard carries with him! Brother Maynard!
Bring up the Holy Hand Grenade!
How does it, uh... how does it work?
KNIGHT: I know not, my liege.
ARTHUR: Consult the Book of Armaments!
MAYNARD: Armaments, Chapter Two, Verses Nine to Twenty-One.
BROTHER: "And Saint Atila raised the hand grenade up on high, saying,
'Oh, Lord, bless this thy hand grenade that with it thou mayest blow
thy enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy.' And the Lord did grin, and
people did feast upon the lambs, and sloths, and carp, and anchovies,
and orangutans, and breakfast cereals, and fruit bats, and large --"
MAYNARD: Skip a bit, Brother.
BROTHER: "And the Lord spake, saying, 'First shalt thou take out the
Holy Pin. Then, shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three
shalt be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting
shalt be three. Four shalt thou not count, nor either count thou two,
excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once
the number three, being the third number, be reached, then lobbest thou
thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thou foe, who being naughty
in my sight, shall snuff it.'"
ALL: Amen.
ARTHUR: Right! One... two... five!
KNIGHT: Three, sir!
ARTHUR: Three!

23 October 2008


I was going to post on November being the month to remember the Poor Souls, but heard Dr. Ray talking about Halloween yesterday as I was driving home from dropping hubby off at the airport.

Looking back, it's kind of curious how life takes you different places. I was raised in the post Vatican II world and was poorly catechised. My poor parents were very devout but also were of the generation where no one imagined their children would not obtain a good grounding in their Faith if they received instruction at the parish.

During my junior high years, I was deeply immersed in the Charismatic Renewal. The meetings were at a Catholic Church with the parish priest in attendance, but there were many things that weren't Catholic. For example, I was taught that the Rapture was fact and our youth group regularly got together to watch, "Like a Thief in the Night." I've posted previously about my experiences with the Charismatic Renewal, but have been told there are some faithful Catholic Charismatic groups around. Personally, I would be very cautious on many levels.

Despite my parents' wonderful example, there was a time I was outside the Church. Not that I disagreed with the Church, but I had just slowly drifted out of the Church, knowing in my heart that I was in a state of mortal sin that would need to be resolved some day. When I started attending Mass regularly again, we were living in Seattle and there were no parishes that I felt comfortable at.

We looked all over the Seattle area and finally found a Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic parish that we attended. As beautiful as that Rite was, it was also a rigorous way of life that most Western Rite (Roman Catholics) have a difficulty adjusting to, at least I did. And, since we were Roman Catholics, there was a rub with the priest who was antagonistic to the West.

That led us to a parish with the ancient Dominican Rite. Completely different than the Byzantine Rite, but incredibly beautiful and close to the TLM. The Mass was said in Latin by an elderly priest, it was a wonderful place for us until the Dominicans ordered that the priest cease and desist from saying the Mass because they were no longer teaching this, one of the most ancient Rites, any longer in their seminaries and, they claimed, it wasn't fair to offer this Mass for people today if the Rite might not be around tomorrow. A complete tragedy.

Soon after that, we moved back home to Minnesota. I had been back a year when my father passed away. A close friend of the family, a very rad trad, stepped into my life. Despite the diversions in my path, I had always been a pretty traddy Catholic. The influence of this friend started to pull my beliefs into the rad trad world. It was not a good place to be either, full of conspiracy theories and a lack of compassion, along with a smattering of judgmentalism.

Last year I was torn about what to do with Halloween. There were friends telling me how it was bad, very bad, while the rest of the secular world was out buying costumes and planning parties.

Some bloggers lament about "why they blog." In the past year of blogging, I may not have imparted much to others, but I have learned a lot. I have sort of come full-circle, moving to the middle of the road instead of hanging at the fringe (referring to Charismatics and rad trads, not Byzantines or Dominicans!).

I have found outward appearances can be deceiving and it's not for me to judge. It's what's in the heart that matters and that's where I need the most work.

So, we come to Halloween. My rad trad friends would be horrified to find that my kids are dressing up as a Power Ranger and a cute pink alien creature. My parish always has a "Saint Party" for Halloween where the kids dress up as their favorite saint. That's all fine and good, but I don't think we will be able to attend many of those parties because my kids aren't dressed as saints. I'm not saying that people that take their kids to these parties are rad trads, not at all. All I'm saying is that my not taking my kids to these parties doesn't make us any less Catholic or mean that I'm sacrificing chickens in my basement.

Check out the following article by Father Augustine Thompson, O.P. that Dr. Ray mentioned on his show entitled, "The Truth About Halloween."

And, check out Ma Beck's great post from last year. It's a must read!

Two left feet

Momentary diversion.

Received this in an e-mail awhile back and discovered it again when I was cleaning out my inbox. It's not really "newsworthy," but with the local media coverage of how much Sarah Palin's handlers spent to outfit her and her family during the Republican Convention, it seems anything is fit to print!

How smart is Your Right Foot?
Just try this. It is from an orthopedic surgeon. This will
boggle your mind and you will keep trying over and over again to see
if you can outsmart your foot, but you can't. It's preprogrammed in
your brain!

1. While sitting where you are at your desk in front of your computer,
lift your right foot off the floor and make clockwise circles.

2. Now, while doing this, draw the number '6' in the air with your right
hand. Your foot will change direction.

Try it on your loved ones...

21 October 2008

Salt and light

My daughter in the wheel of a combine

A group of us spent the day with Father K (who used to be the assistant priest at St. Agnes before heading off to greener pastures) visiting his family farm, a nearby dairy farm and some wind mills. It was a great day, the kids had a wonderful time and they were thoroughly exhausted before we even made it out of town. My 83 year-old aunt was along for the ride and even she had a good day on the farm.

My mother was raised on a farm and I grew up visiting the farm quite often. I never anticipated that there would come a day when there wasn't a farm in the family. But, farming is not an easy way of life in some respects, even though my aunt and I agreed it provides for a close family since you typically are with each other most of the day, take all your meals together, pray together and are there for each other through thick and thin. Granted, a little too much togetherness isn't good, but my mother's family, like Father K's, is very close and I am blessed to have been raised in this atmosphere.

Over the weekend, I spent a good deal of time with my MIL and then my PIL came to the Fall Festival at St. Agnes to get some of the booya (when I lived in Washington, no one knew what booya was -- it's kind of like a stew). I know I bash my poor MIL, but having spent the weekend with her and then spending the day with my aunt and Father K's family, it was quite a contrast.

Father K and his family were so gracious to share their day and their farms with us and to provide us with a wonderful meal. Mrs. K is so warm and welcoming, and was so happy to provide a lovely, warm dinner for about 40 strangers. Her joy was infectious and aside from the fun of seeing the farms and sharing the experiences with my children, the thing I took away from the day is how she was truly happy serving others.

This really boosted my spirits after a weekend of political grumblings between my husband and my MIL. My MIL plans to vote for Obama because of his stand on abortion, saying as a justification, "Not everyone has had the opportunities that you have had." I was so weary of the discussions by the end of the weekend, thoughts of not wanting my kids to be around her were flitting through my head. I know staying away from her isn't the solution and I didn't like feeling this way...just illustrating my complete frustration and utter dismay and sadness at her position.

I said to my husband that my MIL should spend just one hour with Mrs. K and I think she would, at least, see a little bit of the joy that was so evident in Mrs. K's life, a mother of nine who couldn't do enough to go out of her way for others.

A breakdown of the day
I had to get the kids up early to get on the road and head to southern Minnesota with a few other homeschooling families. We first stopped at a dairy farm and learned a little about the operation: 1000 cows milked three times a day, 365 days a year. Aside from the owners and some of their adult children, they have 20 other farm hands that help milk the cows all day long in three shifts. ALL DAY, EVERY DAY. I remind my husband of this every time he gets the romantic notion to become a farmer. We also got to see a bunch of cows in their feeding area and go through the calf barn and see two calves that had just been born that morning. Pretty amazing.

Next was Mass at the church where Father K was baptised and grew up attending. Then to his parents' house for a lunch of ham, au gratin potatoes, baked beans, etc., etc., etc., and oodles of cookies and treats. Such hospitality and graciousness!

Almost lost the kids when Father K took us downstairs to show us the chapel. The kids were all outside in the backyard playing. When we were done with the tour, I returned outside to find my kids as our group was packing up to head to the pig farm. My kids weren't playing with the other large group of kids any longer. They were no where. There was a wooden bridge over a small creek in the well wooded backyard and that's the only place I figured my kids would've gone. Just as a search party was about to be deployed to look for my kids, other moms realized some of their children were missing and then someone mentioned that the saintly Mrs. K had taken some of the children on a nature hike into the woods. All returned safely and we were off to the pig farm.

First, we stopped at one of the MANY wind mills in the area for a closer look. My husband is very interested in wind energy and keeps looking into getting a wind mill for our cabin. Can't imagine we could ever get a permit for such a monstrosity...shucks. But, the real kicker is the farmer across the road from the wind mill saw our group out in the field looking at the wind mill and happened to have a key. He came over and let us all into the base of the wind mill, which I knew would make hubby jealous that he wasn't there to experience it.

Then we were off to the pig farm where our noses were assaulted by the smell of pigs. We saw a few new mothers with their babies and my kids got to hold one of the piglets. Then onto the older pig barn and then the really big pig barn. All so stinky that it gave me a slight head ache. And, my husband said he could smell it in my son's hair when he was putting him into bed!

Then the kids got a tour of the farm and some of the equipment, and then got to ride in a combine and a tractor as they made a very long pass through the corn.

My son was asleep as soon as he got in the car and my daughter was asleep as soon as we drove out of town. We skipped the group dinner at a restaurant because it was getting late and my kids were completely exhausted. Waking them up to stop for dinner wouldn't have been a wise or prudent course of action considering how tired they were! Made it home around 8:30pm, just in time to get the kids into bed.

Thoroughly enjoyable and thoroughly exhausting. It was a beautiful day with good friends and gracious hosts. My son has asked me at least three times when are we going to go back!

17 October 2008

Fertile plantings

O Lord, you see how everywhere the winds have burst forth, and the sea is convulsed with the great violence of the rising waves. Command, we beseech you who alone are able, both the winds and the sea. Restore to mankind the true peace of your name, that peace which the world cannot give, and the calm of social harmony. Under your favor and inspiration may men return to due order, and having overthrown the rule of greed, bring back again as ought to be, the love of God, justice, charity toward neighbor, temperance in all desires. May your kingdom come. May all recognize that they are subject to you, and must serve you who are truth and salvation; that without you they labor in vain. In your law is reason and fatherly kindness. You are ever at hand with your strength and your copious power to help man to keep it. Life upon earth is a warfare, but you watch the contest and aim man to conquer. The weak you sustain; the victor you crown.
~Pope Leo XIII

My neighbors planted a Peace Pole in their front yard yesterday while they strongly support abortion, gay marriage, euthanasia and embryonic stem cell research.

How can we have peace when we turn a blind eye to, or even actively support, what is happening to the unborn, the infirm or the disabled? Or work to break down the family? Peace is something (nearly) everyone wants. All the Popes in recent history have been quite vocal about striving for peace. Many times the Pope's message falls on deaf ears, even among Catholics who should be living our Faith by caring and protecting life from conception to natural death.

What happened to life's share in, "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?" Are we too busy pursuing our own ideals of happiness to care for the plight of others?

This election period, the State of Washington, much like it's neighbor Oregon voted on and passed while I was living there, has an assisted suicide law on the ballot. Already, Oregon's law limits chemotherapy treatment for patients but will provide the means for assisted suicide. How compassionate is that? And, Washington's law is even more loosely written.

Queen of Peace, ora pro nobis, be with us this election period and always.
Pope Says Abortion, Gay Marriage Are 'Obstacles' to World Peace
by Francis X. Rocca
Religion News Service

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Nuclear arms proliferation, environmental pollution and economic inequality are threats to world peace -- but so are abortion, birth control and same-sex marriage, Pope Benedict XVI said in a statement released by the Vatican Tuesday (Dec. 11).

"The Human Family, a Community of Peace" is this year's papal message for the World Day of Peace, which will be observed Jan. 1.

Presenting the nuclear family as the "first and indispensable teacher of peace" and the "primary agency of peace," the 15-page document links sexual and medical ethics to international relations.

"Everything that serves to weaken the family based on the marriage of a man and woman, everything that directly or indirectly stands in the way of its openness to the responsible acceptance of new life ... constitutes an objective obstacle on the road to peace," Benedict writes.

Regarding actual military conflicts, the pope laments unspecified African civil wars and violence in the Middle East.

Condemning what he describes as a global "arms race," Benedict calls for a "progressive and mutually agreed dismantling of existing nuclear weapons."

At a press conference held to present the document, a top Vatican official criticized the U.S. for its handling of Iran's suspected nuclear arms program, saying that Washington's rhetoric had fomented international tensions.

"All these threats, all these worries, these threats of war and invasion ... harm the international atmosphere because they can provoke worries and the reinforcement of security with the production of new arms," said Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and a former Vatican envoy to the United Nations.

In his message, the pope also endorses greater cooperation on environmental protection, writing that "further international agencies may need to be established" for the purpose. He also calls for an "equitable distribution of wealth" in a globalized world.

16 October 2008

O Holy Spirit

This year in bible study we are saying the Holy Spirit prayer in our small groups before we begin our discussions. I don't know this prayer. I learned all the standards as a child, mostly the prayers that are good enough to get you through the Mass or say a rosary, but I had never heard of THE Holy Spirit Prayer. I assumed that there had to be one, but I had never said it and I certainly wasn't familiar with it.

It wasn't until I took a J-term class at St. Thomas (Sin and Sinners in Dante's Purgatory) from Father Welzbacher that I learned the Memorare. Nothing like standing up at the beginning of class and saying this prayer out loud in front of 25 other students to imprint it on you rather quickly. There are some other prayers I didn't learn until fairly recently, but the Holy Spirit prayer wasn't even on my radar. Even though I was a little ashamed to not know the prayer, I was so curious about it that asked my group leader, who is a bit older, if this Holy Spirit prayer was something her generation used to say with any regularity. She said that in Catholic High School they used to recite this prayer every morning.

Even with my great big Catholic family, this prayer was not handed down to my generation. I couldn't even find the same prayer with a Google search. There are many Holy Spirit prayers, but I couldn't find the same one.

When I attended a Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic Parish, they sang a prayer, as most of the Mass is sung, to the Holy Spirit. Carju Nebeshyj is the name in Slavic, and translated into English in my liturgy book it is called "O Holy Spirit," but an internet search gives the title as O Heavenly King. I don't know Slavic at all, but they are two different songs. The song I know was sung at the Preparation of the Gifts. To hear it sung in Slavic, this almost haunting tune is very moving. I've been trying to find a recording of it for years as it is easily one of my favorites.

Sing (recite) this before Communion and see if it doesn't put you in the right frame of mind.

O Holy Spirit
Mighty Defender
To all who love You
Comfort You give.
Everywhere present
Fountain of Virtues
Without Your kindness
No one could live.

O Holy Spirit
Treasury of Blessings
Come, as was promised
Live-giving Flame
Come, dwell within us
Quicken our cool hearts
Strengthen our purpose
To praise Your Name.

13 October 2008


Last week, during bible study on Revelation, the priest on the DVD was making a distinction between Christendom and Christianity. He said that Christ came here -- suffered and died -- to establish His kingdom. It was not His intent to have a band of groupies or hangers-on or to create "Christianity."

I thought it was an interesting point.

Previously, I had envisioned Christendom as what knights fought to preserve and see come to fruition. Kind of a romanticized medieval ideal. It seems many people adhere to this notion, some promoting the idea that the Crusades are an example of why the papacy or Roman Catholicism is intrinsically corrupt. Others use it as a stepping stone to argue for the separation of Church and State. An example::

To me, Christendom is characterized by forced conversions, inter-denominational fighting, political power-plays by church leaders, and heads of state trying to usurp the authority of the Church to cement their own positions. All you have to do is study the history of the Middle Ages to see this drama play out. If Rome didn't like what your King was doing, they had the power of interdiction, they could deny you sacraments, effectively denying you access to the grace of God. The Pope supported insurgents in countries whose ruler opposed Rome and the Church, starting war in the process. The conflict between England and Spain was fueled in this way, Catholic Spain trying to put a Catholic ruler back on the throne in England, while Protestant England fought for its spiritual life. Of course, had Henry VIII not wanted a divorce, the Reformation might have taken a LOT longer to get to England. A big reason that Wycliff's attempt at reform in England didn't work was that the political situation wasn't right. The Spanish Inquisition was caused by this concept of Christendom. So were the Crusades (ALL of them, not just the ones against the Muslims). International disputes, fought in the name of Christianity, were the result of rulers striving for this ideal government. They failed to realize that man cannot bring the kingdom of God into existence, only God can do that.

A lot of people think that we in America can usher in the Kingdom of God by voting in good politicians (what an oxymoron THAT is). We forget that when Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire, the first attempt at creating Christendom, one of the first things he did was force all his troops to convert. This isn't an option now. The world is vastly different now than it was in the fourth century, or the seventeenth. And the United States, for all our posturing, was not created to be a Christian nation. It was founded on basic Christian ideas, but it was founded to give comfort, refuge, and representation to all. Our government is not designed to create a Church-State. We should not want it to.

Crusades and Inquisition aside, here at home I know that it does not say in the Constitution that there needs to be a separation of Church and State...that was in a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Danbury Baptists. However, constitutional lawyers will be debating what is meant in the Constitution for some time.

As far as not wanting a Church-State, I would point to how St. Peter is treated in the bible. He is made the prime minister of Christ's kingdom (see Jeff Cavins' Bible Timeline for a great explanation). St. Peter is also given the keys to bind or loose and is the rock that the Church is built on.

But, why do Christians champion Christianity but not Christendom? If we are imperfect at holding up the walls of Christendom, then how much poorer will we be left to devise our own kingdom?

10 October 2008

This week's project

Today was a messy day with clay, rolling pins, Trival Pursuit pie pieces and tooth picks. Here is a sample of what we learned...we wrote our names in cuneiform (this is one I did for my aunt). When we get to the next lesson on Egyptians, we will try this again with hieroglyphics...maybe.

I don't know which is harder to spell or pronounce: hieroglyphics or cuneiform?

Kids had a good time. Mark actually worked on writing his name in cuneiform before tossing the idea and just making shapes in the clay. We used the trivial pursuit pie shapes to make the triangles and it worked pretty well. I don't know what the kids learned, but I learned that our alphabet is much, MUCH, simpler to use than making all these triangles and lines. Takes forever to make one letter! And a lot of space!

At the cabin this weekend to close it up for the season. Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Against the wind

The stars of my childhood, aside from Robert Conrad in Wild Wild West, don't come any more handsome than James Garner. He was Maverick.

And, they don't come much more liberal than him.

I have to admit, this whole "Mavericky" course that the McCain-Palin ticket is pushing makes me nervous. McCain was never my first choice for the Republican nomination. Although his record on abortion seems to be consistent, which you can't say was the case with Romney, I would prefer my candidate to be a true conservative instead of a RINO.

Being a maverick is kind of a two-edged sword. Surgeons have to be mavericks to do their job, so do military pilots. It's a god-complex that provides them the confidence to perform at the level necessary to save lives or fight a battle. Mavericks in business are willing to take on a good deal of risk in order to reap the rewards. Entrepreneurs are mavericks, possessing the belief that they can do it, their ideas are better than the rest and will succeed, and they have what it takes.

At the college I worked at in Seattle, the president was hailed as a maverick, the pride of staff, students and faculty. He opened a branch campus in Japan and numerous international programs thrived under his tenure...until he was arrested for bribery and extortion. A similar thing is currently happening with home-town maverick, Tom Petters, who is chilling in jail while federal investigators gather what they can about how Petters managed to bilk investors and non-profits out of hundreds of millions.

It does take a healthy dose of confidence to be a maverick, probably even a good dab of arrogance. I don't know where McCain or Palin fall on that scale. Maybe I'd be more comfortable if they called themselves contrarians, "against the grainers", or "out-of-the-box-thinkers" (I won't mention what we wanted to do the "teachers" at Boeing who were brought in to show us all how to think outside the box.) I just hope they keep their noses clean and remember the Hebrew proverb, "Pride goeth before the fall."

08 October 2008

Out of touch capitalism

OK, this is kind of a ranty post, but what's up with Barnes and Noble. I kind of like GK Chesterton's idea of distributionism, but don't see it happening in the US unless our economy totally tanks...possible, yes. But, since we are entrenched in this consumer, materialistic, big box store mentality, you'd think the big box stores would get with the program.

Barnes and Noble is completely, in Obama-speak, out-of-touch with the middle class. BN sells books, it's their bally wick, their business plan, their bread and butter. With capitalism running rampant, why can't a book seller of their size sell books cheaply? Isn't this Econ 101? Quantities of scale buying, enabling them to sell books cheaply...or at least, at least, competitively with Amazon?!!

My dilemma is that my aunt received a gift card to BN. She doesn't buy books very often. She's a big magazine gal. She regularly drops off stacks of magazines she's read that just sit on my porch. At least she no longer bothers to send me Oprah. Yuck. Although I do rifle through Martha Stewart.

Back to the gift card. My aunt gave the gift card to me because she knows I love books and now with homeschooling, I could use whatever help in the purchasing department I can get. I have had this gift card for months and months, unable to use it because I can get EVERYTHING cheaper at Amazon. BN isn't even close, not even with a 10% discount, not with a $5 coupon. It's hard to believe that the same book at Amazon is $10 CHEAPER than at BN!!! I can't justify using my gift card when I feel like I'd just be wasting it. Below are some examples from my Amazon wish list:

A Little History of the World, by EH Gombrich. BN price: $25; Amazon: $16.50
The Quest for Shakespeare, by Joseph Pearce. BN price: $19.95; Amazon: $13.57
Literary Giants, Literary Catholics, by Pearce. BN: $27.95; Amazon: $20.40
Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding: A Science Curriculum for K-2, by Bernard J Nebel. BN: $25.95; Amazon: $22.45
Settlers of Catan. BN: $41.95; Amazon: $33.60

Just a few of the items on my list and BN is so much higher on everything. I almost bought the Quest for Shakespeare book just to use the gift card, but then the book wasn't $25 to qualify for free shipping, so I would have to buy something else with an inflated price just to save on the shipping!!

Maybe I should just go buy a few $4 cups of coffee with the gift card and be done with it...except I hate coffee. Always somethin'!!

[photo source]

07 October 2008

Reading lists

A little over a year ago I posted about this -- the Supreme Court rulings on partial birth abortion. About a week ago, I did a meme about the books I have or haven't read. With the election fast approaching, there are a few things everyone should have read looking ahead to who will have the opportunity to nominate the next few justices to the Court:

2000 Supreme Court ruling on Partial Birth Abortion, aka Stenberg v. Carhart

Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003

As I said then, I'll say again: Strong warnings apply. Sit down. Hug your kids and be prepared to be nauseated.

And, when you're through with reading those, try reading:

that helps illustrate how abortion is intrinsically evil and tempers the other social and cultural issues of the day in light of the right to life. Then go read about the Born Alive Infant Protection Act that Senator Obaalma doesn't support, nor does he seem to really have any grasp on what the *&$$ it is he is against or what the legislation is about. (You can read about this at Kit's too)

And, if you still haven't had enough, go read Gianna Jessen's story.

Fritter and waste

Oh my. It's my 20-year reunion from St. Thomas. Fritter and waste sums up my time there...I was more interested in college life than serious study. Where did the time go??

I can't believe it's been so long. Like the reunion material said, we didn't even have laptops back then and computers were used, primarily, for word processing only. Most of all my papers were written on a typewriter. I don't think kids today have actually seen a typewriter!! Remember Lotus 123?

Time by Pink Floyd
Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way

Tired of lying in the sunshine
Staying home to watch the rain
And you are young and life is long
And there is time to kill today
And then one day you find
Ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run
You missed the starting gun

And you run, and you run to catch up with the sun, but it's sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again
The sun is the same in a relative way, but you're older
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death

Every year is getting shorter
Never seem to find the time
Plans that either come to nought
Or half a page of scribbled lines
Hanging on in quiet desparation is the English way
The time is gone
The song is over
Thought I'd something more to say

Home, home again
I like to be here when I can
When I come home cold and tired
It's good to warm my bones beside the fire
Far away across the field
The tolling of the iron bell
Calls the faithful to their knees
To hear the softly spoken magic spells

06 October 2008

Homeschool happenings

I know I've been scarce and not blogging a lot, but I'm busy homeschooling. I have a new and huge appreciation for parents who homeschool many children of diverse ages. I'm just doing Kindergarten, with a 3 year old tagging along, and it's time consuming! Not in a bad way...I'm learning much more than I ever did when I was in school. I hope the kids are learning a small portion of what I have in just the last month! Now that I'm really "doing this," I can't imagine sending my kids to school. I just really like it. That isn't to say it's easy and some days I don't want to just find a sitter, but in the big scope of things, I feel most comfortable and pleased with it.

We are doing much of the usual Kindergarten stuff: phonics, reading, math, poetry, art and music and we are doing history. Right now we are learning about Mesopotamia and the people who lived there, like the Sumerians, Babylonians, and Assyrians. And we are learning about Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah and currently Abraham and Isaac. We are using the Connecting with History (RC History) program. I really like it because it ties in our Catholic faith so well. And it emphasizes literature. It took a little planning, but I would say that 90% of the book list mentioned for the Ancient History portion I can get at the library, and the core books I purchase...since they happen to be bibles and other good resources to have on hand.

Ancient history is broken into 10 units. I took our school year by weeks, figured out how long I expected each unit to take, then split out the units over the year (with each unit taking 3-4 weeks). Then I split up the books I planned to use for each unit into how many days I had. Not too rough at all. Sonya Romens, who authored the series with Andrea Chen, has a rough breakdown too that can be used to portion the readings and such over the time alloted for the unit.

I went back and looked at Story of the World today and I was glad I picked CWH. I know many homeschoolers use SofW and like it and use it as a spine, but as a Catholic I really appreciated the Catholic backbone of CWH and thought SofW was a bit soft (one reviewer on Amazon called it condescending, but I wouldn't say that). But, comparing SofW to a history text used just a few generations ago, you find that what a 5th grader is learning today is what a 2nd or 3rd grader learned back then.

Sonya mentioned that her series is based on literature, which I know is another thing homschoolers like for a classical education (and along the lines of a Thomas Jefferson Education). I use books and other resources too that aren't in the book list. Since I have a son who can't sit still and doesn't do well if I do a lot of reading at this point, I like the activities in the book Sonya calls out in her book list - Old Testament Days.

Above are the kids dressed as people who lived in Mesopotamia. My daughter hated putting on her dress and cried non-stop while it was on, so I was lucky to get this picture of a fairly calm kid. My son isn't too thrilled with his tunic either, but I told him he only had to wear it for the picture. He did have fun making it, which is why I try to do hands-on things with him -- he's all boy.

Next we are creating a clay tablet with Grandma and Grandpa's name in cuneiform. And, we are learning about Sargon the Great...had never heard of him until this summer when I began planning the homeschool curriculum. By the end of the year, I almost think I could pass high school history!

01 October 2008

Vatican Splendors in River City

Last night I attended the Vatican Splendors exhibit at the MN History Center during an Educator Open House. Couldn't beat the price of admission: free! I am planning on going back on the day our homeschool group is scheduled for a tour with the kids. I do have to say, it was wonderful to leisurely walk through the exhibit, read all the information and have a few moments (in silence) to take in each work of art or display. Plus, the head phones they provided us gratis were wonderful too.

I didn't buy the $25 program and couldn't find the painting on an internet search, so can't show you what I'm talking about, but there is a portrait of the commander of the Swiss Guard that looks a lot like Father Z. Or maybe it's Bobby Darin or Kevin Spacey...check it out if you get a chance to see the exhibit.

Oddly, the thing I remember most is Pope Benedict's bee chasuble. Maybe because it was one of the last things in the exhibit. Also couldn't find it in an internet search. Darn. Just doesn't fit with what I assumed Pope Bene's sensibilities were, especially since I have curtains from IKEA with this same pattern on them!!

The Swiss Guard display was cool, but I am a bit biased. The Mandylion of Edessa was also pretty spectacular.

That Napoleon was quite the character, wasn't he.

Also liked seeing the tiaras, papal chairs and the vestments Pope Benedict tried on in the Room of Tears (the room the newly elected pontiff goes upon election to select his garments from the three sizes provided him and to collect his thoughts and gain his composure). The audio provided during the tour said that Pope John Paul II wept for quite some time in this room when he was elected Pope. Check out the clip below called Room of Tears. (I haven't had time on my slow dial-up to view it all yet myself.)

Lyrics to the song in the video:
A plume of smoke, rises in the air
Was it white or black, it's a bit unclear
But there's thunder outside
As your heart pounds in your ears

The weight of the world, has fallen on you
It's like a dream, but a little too true
It wasn't in your plans
You'd have this job to do

You gaze up at the ceiling at the moment of truth
500 years have gone by and the sky is still blue
You see the hand of God
Is now pointing right at you

You're in a room of tears
And they've closed the door
But there's a litany of saints
Who've gone this way before (repeat)

They give you three pair of shoes, you try each one
One's too big, the other's just a bit snug
And only one pair
Fits just like a glove

A quiet retirement with some time to read
A little bit of Mozart was all you'd need
You never thought
You'd wear the Fisherman's ring

You have a flock to feed, about a billion souls,
That's a little bit of pressure from what you've been told
But there'll be a bit more grace
When you sit on Peter's throne