30 December 2009

Coming this January...


Thank you Santa!!!!

Until then, St. Monica is on sabbatical making a list of all the websites she plans to visit once her DSL is hooked up. Yee ha!

05 December 2009

Weekend Kneeler Jeopardy

Sorry, it's a busy time of year. I've been cooking all day and now my MIL is here, so here's all I can muster.

Category: Card sharks

This popular 19th century game, also known as the "Curse of Scotland," bears the name of a much disputed figure in Church history.

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

Demerits for using Google and other sneaky searches. Educated guesses are welcome and encouraged. Good luck!!

21 November 2009

Civic duty


I found out just before dinner time last night that I don't have jury duty next week!!!!!!!!!!!! I can hear the angels singing!!!!!!!!

The frustrating thing is that my daughter was just getting off the bus from school and I couldn't get the lady from the district court to hold on while I pulled my daughter off the bus. I literally had my cell phone in one hand while I scooped up my daughter with my other arm and pulled her off the bus. Am sure the bus aide and the driver thought I was the rudest person in the world that I couldn't put the phone down for a minute.

But, if you were "randomly selected" to be excused from jury duty, you'd be listening pretty closely. I couldn't understand exactly why I was being released (I think it had to do with few cases on the docket next week, so my evil plan worked), but the bad news is my name now goes back in the pool and I can be called again.


Honestly, truth be told, I would love to get on a case and see how everything works, but NOT when I have two little ones at home...and am trying to homeschool them.

What a relief. One more thing to be thankful for.

Weekend Kneeler Jeopardy

Category: Christendom

During the 14th century, this was the last mainland European country to officially convert to Christianity.

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

Demerits for using Google and other sneaky searches. Educated guesses are welcome and encouraged. Good luck!!

17 November 2009

Never let the water run

There was a period when my daughter was quite little that we watched Barney. My son, being only two years older, appreciated Barney more than she did. I figured it was my parental obligation to not bash the inane songs and goofy dancing segments. As a child, I had sometimes watched Sesame Street and Electric Company, so my kids should have the same time-wasting opportunity. However, I drew the line at Teletubbies, the brain-numbing creatures I consider children's slap-stick.

In the short time we allowed Barney to infiltrate our home, I remember a few of the songs he sang. One was "Clean up, clean up, everybody, everywhere..." And, another about brushing teeth that instructed children, in an attempt to save the planet, to "Never let the water run."

Branded into my brain are both tunes and they pop up in the weirdest places.

Yesterday a cousin confided in me that she is getting a divorce. I was totally caught off-guard. They have been married about 25 years and have four kids.

During her story, all I could hear in my head was the Barney tune, but the lyrics were not about brushing teeth. Instead, permeating the strange workings of my mind, was the tooth-brushing melody, but the lyrics were, "Never let the devil in."

More background. This cousin's parents had been married forever. She is one of eight children. All were raised Catholic and attended Catholic grade school. All eight have been married. Seven of the eight are divorced, some multiple times.

This is nearly an 88% divorce rate in one family. Higher if you count the multiple marriages.

The youngest of the family is only recently married, so pray she escapes the odds.

Everyone has free will, but the poor choices of parents dramatically affect their children. Behind the scenes of this family was abuse, alcoholism, and probably other things that aren't known beyond their front door. The dysfunction of the parents cascades down through the family.

Never let the devil in.

16 November 2009

Last things

Thoughts of my aunt very well expressed by John Cardinal Henry Newman. Sorry, it is quite long, but you just can't edit or paraphase this sort of thing. I plan to visit her again today. Please keep her in your prayers.

The Dream of Gerontius

JESU, MARIA—I am near to death,
And Thou art calling me; I know it now.
Not by the token of this faltering breath,
This chill at heart, this dampness on my brow,—
(Jesu, have mercy! Mary, pray for me!)
'Tis this new feeling, never felt before,
(Be with me, Lord, in my extremity!)
That I am going, that I am no more.
'Tis this strange innermost abandonment,
(Lover of souls! great God! I look to Thee,)
This emptying out of each constituent
And natural force, by which I come to be.
Pray for me, O my friends; a visitant
Is knocking his dire summons at my door,
The like of whom, to scare me and to daunt,
Has never, never come to me before;
'Tis death,—O loving friends, your prayers!-'tis
he! …
As though my very being had given way,
As though I was no more a substance now,
And could fall back on nought to be my stay,
(Help, loving Lord! Thou my sole Refuge,
And turn no whither, but must needs decay
And drop from out the universal frame
Into that shapeless, scopeless, blank abyss,
That utter nothingness, of which I came:
This is it that has come to pass in me;
Oh, horror! this it is, my dearest, this;
So pray for me, my friends, who have not strength
to pray.

Kyrie eleïson, Christe eleïson, Kyrie eleïson.
Holy Mary, pray for him.
All holy Angels, pray for him.
Choirs of the righteous, pray for him.
Holy Abraham, pray for him.
St. John Baptist, St. Joseph, pray for him.
St. Peter, St. Paul, St Andrew, St. John,
All Apostles, all Evangelists, pray for him.
All holy Disciples of the Lord, pray for him.
All holy Innocents, pray for him.
All holy Martyrs, all holy Confessors,
All holy Hermits, all holy Virgins,

Rouse thee, my fainting soul, and play the man;
And through such waning span
Of life and thought as still has to be trod,
Prepare to meet thy God.
And while the storm of that bewilderment
Is for a season spent,
And, ere afresh the ruin on me fall,
Use well the interval.

Be merciful, be gracious; spare him, Lord.
Be merciful, be gracious; Lord, deliver him.
From the sins that are past;
From Thy frown and Thine ire;
From the perils of dying;
From any complying
With sin, or denying
His God, or relying
On self, at the last;
From the nethermost fire;
From all that is evil;
From power of the devil;
Thy servant deliver,
For once and for ever.

By Thy birth, and by Thy Cross,
Rescue him from endless loss;
By Thy death and burial,
Save him from a final fall;
By Thy rising from the tomb,
By Thy mounting up above,
By the Spirit's gracious love,
Save him in the day of doom.

Sanctus fortis, Sanctus Deus,
De profundis oro te,
Miserere, Judex meus,
Parce mihi, Domine.
Firmly I believe and truly
God is three, and God is One;
And I next acknowledge duly
Manhood taken by the Son.
And I trust and hope most fully
In that Manhood crucified;
And each thought and deed unruly
Do to death, as He has died.
Simply to His grace and wholly
Light and life and strength belong,
And I love, supremely, solely,
Him the holy, Him the strong.
Sanctus fortis, Sanctus Deus,
De profundis oro te,
Miserere, Judex meus,
Parce mihi, Domine.
And I hold in veneration,
For the love of Him alone,
Holy Church, as His creation,
And her teachings, as His own.
And I take with joy whatever
Now besets me, pain or fear,
And with a strong will I sever
All the ties which bind me here.
Adoration aye be given,
With and through the angelic host,
To the God of earth and heaven,
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Sanctus fortis, Sanctus Deus,
De profundis oro te,
Miserere, Judex meus,
Mortis in discrimine.

I can no more; for now it comes again,
That sense of ruin, which is worse than pain,
That masterful negation and collapse
Of all that makes me man; as though I bent
Over the dizzy brink
Of some sheer infinite descent;
Or worse, as though
Down, down for ever I was falling through
The solid framework of created things,
And needs must sink and sink
Into the vast abyss. And, crueller still,
A fierce and restless fright begins to fill
The mansion of my soul. And, worse and worse,
Some bodily form of ill
Floats on the wind, with many a loathsome curse
Tainting the hallow'd air, and laughs, and flaps
Its hideous wings,
And makes me wild with horror and dismay.
O Jesu, help! pray for me, Mary, pray!
Some Angel, Jesu! such as came to Thee
In Thine own agony …
Mary, pray for me. Joseph, pray for me. Mary,
pray for me.

Rescue him, O Lord, in this his evil hour,
As of old so many by Thy gracious power:—
Enoch and Elias from the common doom; (Amen.)
Noe from the waters in a saving home; (Amen.)
Abraham from th' abounding guilt of Heathenesse;
Job from all his multiform and fell distress;
Isaac, when his father's knife was raised to slay;
Lot from burning Sodom on its judgment-day;
Moses from the land of bondage and despair;
Daniel from the hungry lions in their lair;
And the Children Three amid the furnace-flame;
Chaste Susanna from the slander and the shame;
David from Golia and the wrath of Saul;
And the two Apostles from their prison-thrall;
Thecla from her torments; (Amen:)
—so to show Thy power,
Rescue this Thy servant in his evil hour.

Novissima hora est; and I fain would sleep.
The pain has weaned me ... Into Thy hands,
O Lord, into Thy hands ...

The Priest
Proficiscere, anima Christiana, de hoc mundo!
Go forth upon thy journey, Christian soul!
Go from this world! Go, in the Name of God
The Omnipotent Father, who created thee!
Go, in the Name of Jesus Christ, our Lord,
Son of the living God, who bled for thee!
Go, in the Name of the Holy Spirit, who
Hath been pour'd out on thee! Go, in the name
Of Angels and Archangels; in the name
Of Thrones and Dominations; in the name
Of Princedoms and of Powers; and in the name
Of Cherubim and Seraphim, go forth!
Go, in the name of Patriarchs and Prophets;
And of Apostles and Evangelists,
Of Martyrs and Confessors; in the name
Of holy Monks and Hermits; in the name
Of Holy Virgins; and all Saints of God,
Both men and women, go! Go on thy course;
And may thy place today be found in peace,
And may thy dwelling be the Holy Mount
Of Sion:—through the Same, through Christ, our Lord.

Soul of Gerontius
I went to sleep; and now I am refresh'd,
A strange refreshment: for I feel in me
An inexpressive lightness, and a sense
Of freedom, as I were at length myself,
And ne'er had been before. How still it is!
I hear no more the busy beat of time,
No, nor my fluttering breath, nor struggling pulse;
Nor does one moment differ from the next.
I had a dream; yes:—some one softly said
"He's gone;" and then a sigh went round the room.
And then I surely heard a priestly voice
Cry "Subvenite;" and they knelt in prayer.
I seem to hear him still; but thin and low,
And fainter and more faint the accents come,
As at an ever-widening interval.
Ah ! whence is this? What is this severance?
This silence pours a solitariness
Into the very essence of my soul;
And the deep rest, so soothing and so sweet,
Hath something too of sternness and of pain.
For it drives back my thoughts upon their spring
By a strange introversion, and perforce
I now begin to feed upon myself,
Because I have nought else to feed upon.—

Am I alive or dead? I am not dead,
But in the body still; for I possess
A sort of confidence which clings to me,
That each particular organ holds its place
As heretofore, combining with the rest
Into one symmetry, that wraps me round,
And makes me man; and surely I could move,
Did I but will it, every part of me.
And yet I cannot to my sense bring home
By very trial, that I have the power.
'Tis strange; I cannot stir a hand or foot,
I cannot make my fingers or my lips
By mutual pressure witness each to each,
Nor by the eyelid's instantaneous stroke
Assure myself I have a body still.
Nor do I know my very attitude,
Nor if I stand, or lie, or sit, or kneel.

So much I know, not knowing how I know,
That the vast universe, where I have dwelt,
Is quitting me, or I am quitting it.
Or I or it is rushing on the wings
Of light or lightning on an onward course,
And we e'en now are million miles apart.
Yet ... is this peremptory severance
Wrought out in lengthening measurements of space
Which grow and multiply by speed and time?
Or am I traversing infinity
By endless subdivision, hurrying back
From finite towards infinitesimal,
Thus dying out of the expansive world?

Another marvel: some one has me fast
Within his ample palm; 'tis not a grasp
Such as they use on earth, but all around
Over the surface of my subtle being,
As though I were a sphere, and capable
To be accosted thus, a uniform
And gentle pressure tells me I am not
Self-moving, but borne forward on my way.
And hark! I hear a singing; yet in sooth
I cannot of that music rightly say
Whether I hear, or touch, or taste the tones.
Oh, what a heart-subduing melody!

My work is done,
My task is o'er,
And so I come,
Taking it home,
For the crown is won,
For evermore.

My Father gave
In charge to me
This child of earth
E'en from its birth,
To serve and save,
And saved is he.

This child of clay
To me was given,
To rear and train
By sorrow and pain
In the narrow way,
From earth to heaven.

It is a member of that family
Of wondrous beings, who, ere the worlds were
Millions of ages back, have stood around
The throne of God:—he never has known sin
But through those cycles all but infinite,
Has had a strong and pure celestial life,
And bore to gaze on the unveil'd face of God,
And drank from the everlasting Fount of truth,
And served Him with a keen ecstatic love.
Hark! he begins again.

O Lord, how wonderful in depth and height,
But most in man, how wonderful Thou art!
With what a love, what soft persuasive might
Victorious o'er the stubborn fleshly heart,
Thy tale complete of saints Thou dost provide,
To fill the thrones which angels lost through pride!

He lay a grovelling babe upon the ground,
Polluted in the blood of his first sire,
With his whole essence shatter'd and unsound,
And coil'd around his heart a demon dire,
Which was not of his nature, but had skill
To bind and form his op'ning mind to ill.

Then was I sent from heaven to set right
The balance in his soul of truth and sin,
And I have waged a long relentless fight,
Resolved that death-environ'd spirit to win,
Which from its fallen state, when all was lost,
Had been repurchased at so dread a cost.

Oh, what a shifting parti-colour'd scene
Of hope and fear, of triumph and dismay,
Of recklessness and penitence, has been
The history of that dreary, life-long fray!
And oh, the grace to nerve him and to lead,
How patient, prompt, and lavish at his need!

O man, strange composite of heaven and earth!
Majesty dwarf'd to baseness! fragrant flower
Running to poisonous seed! and seeming worth
Cloking corruption! weakness mastering power!
Who never art so near to crime and shame,
As when thou hast achieved some deed of name;—

How should ethereal natures comprehend
A thing made up of spirit and of clay,
Were we not task'd to nurse it and to tend,
Link'd one to one throughout its mortal day?
More than the Seraph in his height of place,
The Angel-guardian knows and loves the ran-
som'd race.

Now know I surely that I am at length
Out of the body; had I part with earth,
I never could have drunk those accents in,
And not have worshipp'd as a god the voice
That was so musical; but now I am
So whole of heart, so calm, so self-possess'd,
With such a full content, and with a sense
So apprehensive and discriminant,
As no temptation can intoxicate.
Nor have I even terror at the thought
That I am clasp'd by such a saintliness.

All praise to Him, at whose sublime decree
The last are first, the first become the last;
By whom the suppliant prisoner is set free,
By whom proud first-borns from their thrones
are cast;
Who raises Mary to be Queen of heaven,
While Lucifer is left, condemn'd and unforgiven.

I will address him. Mighty one, my Lord,
My Guardian Spirit, all hail!

All hail, my child!
My child and brother, hail! what wouldest thou?

I would have nothing but to speak with thee
For speaking's sake. I wish to hold with thee
Conscious communion; though I fain would know
A maze of things, were it but meet to ask,
And not a curiousness.

You cannot now
Cherish a wish which ought not to be wish'd.

Then I will speak. I ever had believed
That on the moment when the struggling soul
Quitted its mortal case, forthwith it fell
Under the awful Presence of its God,
There to be judged and sent to its own place.
What lets me now from going to my Lord?

Thou art not let; but with extremest speed
Art hurrying to the Just and Holy Judge:
For scarcely art thou disembodied yet.
Divide a moment, as men measure time,
Into its million-million-millionth part,
Yet even less than that the interval
Since thou didst leave the body; and the priest
Cried "Subvenite," and they fell to prayer;
Nay, scarcely yet have they begun to pray.

For spirits and men by different standards mete
The less and greater in the flow of time.
By sun and moon, primeval ordinances—
By stars which rise and set harmoniously—
By the recurring seasons, and the swing,
This way and that, of the suspended rod
Precise and punctual, men divide the hours,
Equal, continuous, for their common use.
Not so with us in the immaterial world;
But intervals in their succession
Are measured by the living thought alone,
And grow or wane with its intensity.
And time is not a common property;
But what is long is short, and swift is slow,
And near is distant, as received and grasp'd
By this mind and by that, and every one
Is standard of his own chronology.
And memory lacks its natural resting-points
Of years, and centuries, and periods.
It is thy very energy of thought
Which keeps thee from thy God.

Dear Angel, say,
Why have I now no fear at meeting Him?
Along my earthly life, the thought of death
And judgment was to me most terrible.
I had it aye before me, and I saw
The Judge severe e'en in the Crucifix.
Now that the hour is come, my fear is fled;
And at this balance of my destiny,
Now close upon me, I can forward look
With a serenest joy.

It is because
Then thou didst fear, that now thou dost not fear,
Thou hast forestall'd the agony, and so
For thee the bitterness of death is past.
Also, because already in thy soul
The judgment is begun. That day of doom,
One and the same for the collected world,—
That solemn consummation for all flesh,
Is, in the case of each, anticipate
Upon his death; and, as the last great day
In the particular judgment is rehearsed,
So now, too, ere thou comest to the Throne,
A presage falls upon thee, as a ray
Straight from the Judge, expressive of thy lot.
That calm and joy uprising in thy soul
Is first-fruit to thee of thy recompense,
And heaven begun.

But hark! upon my sense
Comes a fierce hubbub, which would make me fear
Could I be frighted.

We are now arrived
Close on the judgment-court; that sullen howl
Is from the demons who assemble there.
It is the middle region, where of old
Satan appeared among the sons of God,
To cast his jibes and scoffs at holy Job.
So now his legions throng the vestibule,
Hungry and wild, to claim their property,
And gather souls for hell. Hist to their cry.

How sour and how uncouth a dissonance!

Low-born clods
Of brute earth
They aspire
To become gods,
By a new birth,
And an extra grace,
And a score of merits,
As if aught
Could stand in place
Of the high thought,
And the glance of fire
Of the great spirits,
The powers blest,
The lords by right,
The primal owners,
Of the proud dwelling
And realm of light,—
Aside thrust,
Chuck'd down
By the sheer might
Of a despot's will,
Of a tyrant's frown,
Who after expelling
Their hosts, gave,
Triumphant still,
And still unjust,
Each forfeit crown
To psalm-droners,
And canting groaners,
To every slave,
And pious cheat,
And crawling knave,
Who lick'd the dust
Under his feet.

It is the restless panting of their being;
Like beasts of prey, who, caged within their bars,
In a deep hideous purring have their life,
And an incessant pacing to and fro.

The mind bold
And independent,
The purpose free,
So we are told,
Must not think
To have the ascendant
What's a saint?
One whose breath
Doth the air taint
Before his death;
A bundle of bones,
Which fools adore,
Ha! ha!
When life is o'er;
Which rattle and stink,
E'en in the flesh.
We cry his pardon!
No flesh hath he;
Ha! ha!
For it hath died,
'Tis crucified
Day by day,
Afresh, afresh,
Ha! ha!
That holy clay,
Ha! ha!
This gains guerdon,
So priestlings prate,
Ha! ha!
Before the Judge,
And pleads and atones
For spite and grudge,
And bigot mood,
And envy and hate,
And greed of blood.

How impotent they are! and yet on earth
They have repute for wondrous power and skill;
And books describe, how that the very face
Of the Evil One, if seen, would have a force
Even to freeze the blood, and choke the life
Of him who saw it.

In thy trial-state
Thou hadst a traitor nestling close at home,
Connatural, who with the powers of hell
Was leagued, and of thy senses kept the keys,
And to that deadliest foe unlock'd thy heart.
And therefore is it, in respect of man,
Those fallen ones show so majestical.
But, when some child of grace, Angel or Saint,
Pure and upright in his integrity
Of nature, meets the demons on their raid,
They scud away as cowards from the fight.
Nay, oft hath holy hermit in his cell,
Not yet disburden'd of mortality,
Mock'd at their threats and warlike overtures;
Or, dying, when they swarm'd, like flies, around,
Defied them, and departed to his Judge.

Virtue and vice,
A knave's pretence,
'Tis all the same;
Ha! ha!
Dread of hell-fire,
Of the venomous flame,
A coward's plea.
Give him his price,
Saint though he be,
Ha! ha!
From shrewd good sense
He'll slave for hire
Ha! ha!
And does but aspire
To the heaven above
With sordid aim,
And not from love.
Ha! ha!

I see not those false spirits; shall I see
My dearest Master, when I reach His Throne?
Or hear, at least, His awful judgment-word
With personal intonation, as I now
Hear thee, not see thee, Angel? Hitherto
All has been darkness since I left the earth;
Shall I remain thus sight-bereft all through
My penance-time? If so, how comes it then
That I have hearing still, and taste, and touch,
Yet not a glimmer of that princely sense
Which binds ideas in one, and makes them live?

Nor touch, nor taste, nor hearing hast thou now;
Thou livest in a world of signs and types,
The presentations of most holy truths,
Living and strong, which now encompass thee.
A disembodied soul, thou hast by right
No converse with aught else beside thyself;
But, lest so stern a solitude should load
And break thy being, in mercy are vouchsafed
Some lower measures of perception,
Which seem to thee, as though through channels brought,
Through ear, or nerves, or palate, which are gone.
And thou art wrapp'd and swathed around in dreams,
Dreams that are true, yet enigmatical;
For the belongings of thy present state,
Save through such symbols, come not home to thee.
And thus thou tell'st of space, and time, and size,
Of fragrant, solid, bitter, musical,
Of fire, and of refreshment after fire;
As (let me use similitude of earth,
To aid thee in the knowledge thou dost ask)—
As ice which blisters may be said to burn.
Nor hast thou now extension, with its parts
Correlative,—long habit cozens thee,—
Nor power to move thyself, nor limbs to move.
Hast thou not heard of those, who after loss
Of hand or foot, still cried that they had pains
In hand or foot, as though they had it still?
So is it now with thee, who hast not lost
Thy hand or foot, but all which made up man.
So will it be, until the joyous day
Of resurrection, when thou wilt regain
All thou hast lost, new-made and glorified.
How, even now, the consummated Saints
See God in heaven, I may not explicate;
Meanwhile, let it suffice thee to possess
Such means of converse as are granted thee,
Though, till that Beatific Vision, thou art blind;
For e'en thy purgatory, which comes like fire,
Is fire without its light.

His will be done!
I am not worthy e'er to see again
The face of day; far less His countenance,
Who is the very sun. Natheless in life,
When I looked forward to my purgatory,
It ever was my solace to believe,
That, ere I plunged amid the avenging flame,
I had one sight of Him to strengthen me.

Nor rash nor vain is that presentiment;
Yes,—for one moment thou shalt see thy Lord.
Thus will it be: what time thou art arraign'd
Before the dread tribunal, and thy lot
Is cast for ever, should it be to sit
On His right hand among His pure elect,
Then sight, or that which to the soul is sight,
As by a lightning-flash, will come to thee,
And thou shalt see, amid the dark profound,
Whom thy soul loveth, and would fain approach,—
One moment; but thou knowest not, my child,
What thou dost ask: that sight of the Most Fair
Will gladden thee, but it will pierce thee too.

Thou speakest darkly, Angel; and an awe
Falls on me, and a fear lest I be rash.

There was a mortal, who is now above
In the mid glory: he, when near to die,
Was given communion with the Crucified,—
Such, that the Master's very wounds were stamp'd
Upon his flesh; and, from the agony
Which thrill'd through body and soul in that embrace,
Learn that the flame of the Everlasting Love
Doth burn ere it transform ...

.... Hark to those sounds!
They come of tender beings angelical,
Least and most childlike of the Sons of God.

First Choir of Angelicals
Praise to the Holiest in the height,
And in the depth be praise:
In all His words most wonderful;
Most sure in all His ways!

To us His elder race He gave
To battle and to win,
Without the chastisement of pain,
Without the soil of sin.

The younger son He will'd to be
A marvel in His birth:
Spirit and flesh his parents were;
His home was heaven and earth.

The Eternal bless'd His child, and arm'd,
And sent him hence afar,
To serve as champion in the field
Of elemental war.

To be His Viceroy in the world
Of matter, and of sense;
Upon the frontier, towards the foe
A resolute defence.

We now have pass'd the gate, and are within
The House of Judgment; and whereas on earth
Temples and palaces are form'd of parts
Costly and rare, but all material,
So in the world of spirits nought is found,
To mould withal, and form into a whole,
But what is immaterial; and thus
The smallest portions of this edifice,
Cornice, or frieze, or balustrade, or stair,
The very pavement is made up of life—
Of holy, blessed, and immortal beings,
Who hymn their Maker's praise continually.

Second Choir of Angelicals
Praise to the Holiest in the height,
And in the depth be praise:
In all His words most wonderful;
Most sure in all His ways!

Woe to thee, man! for he was found
A recreant in the fight;
And lost his heritage of heaven,
And fellowship with light.

Above him now the angry sky,
Around the tempest's din;
Who once had Angels for his friends,
Had but the brutes for kin.

O man! a savage kindred they;
To flee that monster brood
He scaled the seaside cave, and clomb
The giants of the wood.

With now a fear, and now a hope,
With aids which chance supplied,
From youth to eld, from sire to son,
He lived, and toil'd, and died.

He dreed his penance age by age;
And step by step began
Slowly to doff his savage garb,
And be again a man.

And quicken'd by the Almighty's breath,
And chasten'd by His rod,
And taught by angel-visitings,
At length he sought his God;

And learn'd to call upon His Name,
And in His faith create
A household and a father-land,
A city and a state.

Glory to Him who from the mire,
In patient length of days,
Elaborated into life
A people to His praise!

The sound is like the rushing of the wind—
The summer wind—among the lofty pines;
Swelling and dying, echoing round about,
Now here, now distant, wild and beautiful;
While, scatter'd from the branches it has stirr'd,
Descend ecstatic odours.

Third Choir of Angelicals
Praise to the Holiest in the height,
And in the depth be praise:
In all His words most wonderful;
Most sure in all His ways!

The Angels, as beseemingly
To spirit-kind was given,
At once were tried and perfected,
And took their seats in heaven.

For them no twilight or eclipse;
No growth and no decay:
'Twas hopeless, all-ingulfing night,
Or beatific day.

But to the younger race there rose
A hope upon its fall;
And slowly, surely, gracefully,
The morning dawn'd on all.

And ages, opening out, divide
The precious, and the base,
And from the hard and sullen mass
Mature the heirs of grace.

O man! albeit the quickening ray,
Lit from his second birth,
Makes him at length what once he was,
And heaven grows out of earth;

Yet still between that earth and heaven—
His journey and his goal—
A double agony awaits
His body and his soul.

A double debt he has to pay—
The forfeit of his sins:
The chill of death is past, and now
The penance-fire begins.

Glory to Him, who evermore
By truth and justice reigns;
Who tears the soul from out its case,
And burns away its stains!

They sing of thy approaching agony,
Which thou so eagerly didst question of:
It is the face of the Incarnate God
Shall smite thee with that keen and subtle pain;
And yet the memory which it leaves will be
A sovereign febrifuge to heal the wound;
And yet withal it will the wound provoke,
And aggravate and widen it the more.

Thou speakest mysteries; still methinks I know
To disengage the tangle of thy words:
Yet rather would I hear thy angel voice,
Than for myself be thy interpreter.

When then—if such thy lot—thou seest thy Judge,
The sight of Him will kindle in thy heart
All tender, gracious, reverential thoughts.
Thou wilt be sick with love, and yearn for Him,
And feel as though thou couldst but pity Him,
That one so sweet should e'er have placed Himself
At disadvantage such, as to be used
So vilely by a being so vile as thee.
There is a pleading in His pensive eyes
Will pierce thee to the quick, and trouble thee.
And thou wilt hate and loathe thyself; for, though
Now sinless, thou wilt feel that thou hast sinn'd,
As never thou didst feel; and wilt desire
To slink away, and hide thee from His sight:
And yet wilt have a longing aye to dwell
Within the beauty of His countenance.
And these two pains, so counter and so keen,—
The longing for Him, when thou seest Him not;
The shame of self at thought of seeing Him,—
Will be thy veriest, sharpest purgatory.

My soul is in my hand: I have no fear,—
In His dear might prepared for weal or woe.
But hark! a grand, mysterious harmony:
It floods me like the deep and solemn sound
Of many waters.

We have gain'd the stairs
Which rise towards the Presence-chamber; there
A band of mighty Angels keep the way
On either side, and hymn the Incarnate God.

Angels of the Sacred Stair
Father, whose goodness none can know, but they
Who see Thee face to face,
By man hath come the infinite display
Of thy victorious grace;
But fallen man—the creature of a day—
Skills not that love to trace.
It needs, to tell the triumph Thou hast wrought,
An Angel's deathless fire, an Angel's reach of thought.

It needs that very Angel, who with awe,
Amid the garden shade,
The great Creator in His sickness saw,
Soothed by a creature's aid,
And agonized, as victim of the Law
Which He Himself had made;
For who can praise Him in His depth and height,
But he who saw Him reel amid that solitary fight?

Hark! for the lintels of the presence-gate
Are vibrating and echoing back the strain.

Fourth Choir of Angelicals
Praise to the Holiest in the height,
And in the depth be praise:
In all His words most wonderful;
Most sure in all His ways!

The foe blasphemed the Holy Lord,
As if He reckon'd ill,
In that He placed His puppet man
The frontier place to fill.

For, even in his best estate,
With amplest gifts endued,
A sorry sentinel was he,
A being of flesh and blood.

As though a thing, who for his help
Must needs possess a wife,
Could cope with those proud rebel hosts
Who had angelic life.

And when, by blandishment of Eve,
That earth-born Adam fell,
He shriek'd in triumph, and he cried,
"A sorry sentinel;

"The Maker by His word is bound,
Escape or cure is none;
He must abandon to his doom,
And slay His darling son."

And now the threshold, as we traverse it,
Utters aloud its glad responsive chant.

Fifth Choir of Angelicals
Praise to the Holiest in the height
And in the depth be praise:
In all His words most wonderful;
Most sure in all His ways!

O loving wisdom of our God!
When all was sin and shame,
A second Adam to the fight
And to the rescue came.

O wisest love! that flesh and blood
Which did in Adam fail,
Should strive afresh against the foe,
Should strive and should prevail;

And that a higher gift than grace
Should flesh and blood refine,
God's Presence and His very Self,
And Essence all-divine.

O generous love! that He who smote
In man for man the foe,
The double agony in man
For man should undergo;

And in the garden secretly,
And on the cross on high,
Should teach His brethren and inspire
To suffer and to die.

Thy judgment now is near, for we are come
Into the veilèd presence of our God.

I hear the voices that I left on earth.

It is the voice of friends around thy bed,
Who say the "Subvenite" with the priest.
Hither the echoes come; before the Throne
Stands the great Angel of the Agony,
The same who strengthen'd Him, what time He knelt
Lone in that garden shade, bedew'd with blood.
That Angel best can plead with Him for all
Tormented souls, the dying and the dead.

Angel of the Agony
Jesu! by that shuddering dread which fell on Thee;
Jesu! by that cold dismay which sicken'd Thee;
Jesu! by that pang of heart which thrill'd in Thee;
Jesu! by that mount of sins which crippled Thee;
Jesu! by that sense of guilt which stifled Thee;
Jesu! by that innocence which girdled Thee;
Jesu! by that sanctity which reign'd in Thee;
Jesu! by that Godhead which was one with Thee;
Jesu! spare these souls which are so dear to Thee;
Souls, who in prison, calm and patient, wait for Thee;
Hasten, Lord, their hour, and bid them come to Thee,
To that glorious Home, where they shall ever gaze on Thee.

I go before my Judge. Ah! ….

…. Praise to His Name!
The eager spirit has darted from my hold,
And, with the intemperate energy of love,
Flies to the dear feet of Emmanuel;
But, ere it reach them, the keen sanctity,
Which with its effluence, like a glory, clothes
And circles round the Crucified, has seized,
And scorch'd, and shrivell'd it; and now it lies
Passive and still before the awful Throne.
O happy, suffering soul! for it is safe,
Consumed, yet quicken'd, by the glance of God.

Take me away, and in the lowest deep
There let me be,
And there in hope the lone night-watches keep,
Told out for me.
There, motionless and happy in my pain,
Lone, not forlorn,—
There will I sing my sad perpetual strain,
Until the morn.
There will I sing, and soothe my stricken breast,
Which ne'er can cease
To throb, and pine, and languish, till possest
Of its Sole Peace.
There will I sing my absent Lord and Love:—
Take me away,
That sooner I may rise, and go above,
And see Him in the truth of everlasting day.

Now let the golden prison ope its gates,
Making sweet music, as each fold revolves
Upon its ready hinge. And ye, great powers,
Angels of Purgatory, receive from me
My charge, a precious soul, until the day,
When, from all bond and forfeiture released,
I shall reclaim it for the courts of light.

Souls in Purgatory
1. Lord, Thou hast been our refuge: in every generation;
2. Before the hills were born, and the world was:
from age to age Thou art God.
3. Bring us not, Lord, very low: for Thou hast said,
Come back again, ye sons of Adam.
4. A thousand years before Thine eyes are but as
yesterday: and as a watch of the night which
is come and gone.
5. The grass springs up in the morning: at evening
tide it shrivels up and dies.
6. So we fail in Thine anger: and in Thy wrath are
we troubled.
7. Thou hast set our sins in Thy sight: and our
round of days in the light of Thy countenance.
8. Come back, O Lord! how long: and be entreated
for Thy servants.
9. In Thy morning we shall be filled with Thy
mercy: we shall rejoice and be in pleasure all
our days.
10. We shall be glad according to the days of our
humiliation: and the years in which we have
seen evil.
11. Look, O Lord, upon Thy servants and on Thy
work: and direct their children.
12. And let the beauty of the Lord our God be
upon us: and the work of our hands, establish
Thou it.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son: and to the
Holy Ghost.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall
be: world without end. Amen.

Softly and gently, dearly-ransom'd soul,
In my most loving arms I now enfold thee,
And, o'er the penal waters, as they roll,
I poise thee, and I lower thee, and hold thee.

And carefully I dip thee in the lake,
And thou, without a sob or a resistance,
Dost through the flood thy rapid passage take,
Sinking deep, deeper, into the dim distance.

Angels, to whom the willing task is given,
Shall tend, and nurse, and lull thee, as thou
And masses on the earth, and prayers in heaven,
Shall aid thee at the Throne of the Most

Farewell, but not for ever! brother dear,
Be brave and patient on thy bed of sorrow;
Swiftly shall pass thy night of trial here,
And I will come and wake thee on the morrow.

The Oratory.
January, 1865.

14 November 2009

Weekend Kneeler Jeopardy

Hold yer horses, here's WKJ. I have some folks chompin' at the bit wanting WKJ. Sorry, I've been busy and one of my aunt's is failing. I'm off to visit with her now. Please keep her in your prayers. She's already received Last Rites, please pray for a peaceful death and the repose of her soul. Thank you so much.

This category has been used on Jeopardy, but I think it may take some explaining. You need to take part of the answer from the first part and add it to the answer from the second part to get the correct WKJ question. I hope this isn't going to be a mess, but we'll see how it goes.

Category: Before and after authors

This is what you get if the Canterville Ghost interviews Lestat. (I don't just want the authors' names, it needs to be in the form of "before and after" making a unique solution...I'm beginning to appreciate how hard Alex Trebek's job is!)

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

Demerits for using Google and other sneaky searches. Educated guesses are welcome and encouraged. Good luck!!

09 November 2009

Say something nice about a priest meme

I have been tagged by Mum6kids for the “Say something nice about a priest” meme. According to her, "Apparently the person who created the meme meant that we are to say something nice about a particular priest and we are to pass it on to three other bloggers to do the same."

If you have something nice to say about a priest, please place it in the combox.

Something nice about a living priest:
This living priest was responsible for drawing my entire family further into the Church. His example of living the virtues in a quiet, humble way has impacted many. He was my father's spiritual director and confessor, providing both my parent's with Last Rites. He also brought my best friend at the time and my husband into the Church, instructing these converts patiently and then being allowed to Confirm them in a private Mass. His prayers have touched many lives and I am grateful to know I can count on him with any request. He also anointed me earlier this year. One of the relics I now have of St. John of the Cross, that had been my father's, was given to him by this priest.

Something nice about a deceased priest:
This priest, like many today, suffered because of his traditional views. His health was also poor and he was quite lonely, but he was always happy (joyful even) and had a great sense of humor. He drove a great distance to pray at my dying mother's bedside almost constantly. I cannot count the number of rosaries and all the prayers he said for her. I am grateful for the counsel he provided her. He attended her funeral Mass (as did the above priest). He and my father got along very well and together enjoyed BBQ rib meals and grand conversation. This priest promoted a wonderful devotion to your Guardian Angel and his relationship with his own was tender and sweet. I was privileged that he concelebrated my wedding Mass.

May Our Lady keep these good priests, and especially the wayward ones, close to her.

I tag:



06 November 2009

Weekend Kneeler Jeopardy

Have a warm and sunny weekend!!

Category: States

This US state boasts the largest number of Catholics per capita. (I'm not saying they vote in line with the Church!)

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

Demerits for using Google and other sneaky searches. Educated guesses are welcome and encouraged. Good luck!!

Pollution control

If you haven't heard or kept up on the odd and hostile goings-on in England lately regarding homeschooling, you need to check out the blog: Thinking Love, No Twaddle. Mum6kids has been posting over and over again about how MP Badman is attacking homeschooling, trying to make it an oppressive and bureaucratic mess, meanwhile insinuating that homeschoolers are closet abusers.

Seems the man with the well-deserved name, Graham Badman, is now claiming that all homeschooling parents suffer from a mental illness -- Munchhausen's by Proxy. No, you can't make this stuff up. Please keep UK homeschoolers in your prayers.

The below is from Thinking Love, No Twaddle:

Some things just make you laugh. Paula Rothermal informs the DCSF of her interviews with Graham Badman in which his opening question was whether home educating mothers have Münchhausen by Proxy.

Don’t laugh-apparently this is true.

The obvious slur was that home educators are of course abusers. I might add at this point that the whole diagnoses of Munchhausen by Proxy is strongly debated in pyschiatric circles. There is serious doubt whether such a disorder exists at all. But that is by the by. Paula Rothermal’s evidence here shows a man determined to see nothing positive in home education and prepared to scrap the bottom of any barrel in search of something foul to throw at us.

I hope all parents are taking note of this.

Memorandum submitted by Dr Paula Rothermel FRSA, Educational psychologist expert witness

1. I am one of the leading academics in the field in the UK and the only expert witness specialising in court cases where home education is an issue. My 2002 research involved 1099 children and remains the largest and most in-depth and authoritative independent of home education carried out in the UK. The research involved 419 survey questionnaires to families and 238 targeted assessments (with 196 different children) to evaluate the psychosocial and academic development of home-educated children aged eleven years and under.

2. I was invited on two occasions to meet with Mr Badman.

3. At our first interview Mr Badman was interested in what I had to say. His opening question was to ask me if home educating mothers suffered from Munchhausen's by Proxy. I thought this to be a curious starting point - that of questioning whether home education is a symptom of mental illness. I am not medically qualified, but I was able to inform Mr Badman that there is no research evidence available that I am aware of, which makes this link.

4. At our second interview Mr Badman was dismissive of my work. He insisted that my study covered just 30 children. He indicated that someone had told him this and insisted that my conclusions and findings, therefore, were of little significance. Nothing I could say would sway him from this view. He had clearly not informed himself about my work by reading it.

5. I consider the review to be seriously flawed. It should be a matter of concern to the Select Committee that the person commissioned to carry out the review could so easily be influenced by a lay person hostile to my work. I question the rigour applied to the Review.

6. All the tests I conducted were overseen by two senior professors and employed established methods for reliability and validity. Articles published following my research have appeared in peer reviewed journals. My work has thus been judged to be rigorous enough for the wider academic population and I have presented papers on my work to academic and professional audiences in London, Manchester, Edinburgh, Malta, Ghent, Estonia, Geneva and to broader audiences through BBC television and radio news, and many radio interviews. Next week I am presenting a paper in Vienna, and the University of Bogota have invited me to speak there in November.

7. I was not notified of the Select Committee despite having participated in the Review.

8. I have many observations to make regarding Mr Badman's recommendations but the absence of numbers in his bulleted recommendations makes this reference laborious. Overall the recommendations are, in my opinion, complicated, expensive and unworkable.

September 2009

04 November 2009

Duty of charity

Penance is a duty of charity both to ourselves and to our neighbor.
- Rev. Adolphe Tanquerey, The Spiritual Life

Tomorrow is the eve of the first Friday in November. For some reason, going to confession on Thursday evening before First Friday is much better than trying to get there on a Saturday afternoon. On the weekends, there are a million things to think about, errands to run, places to go. But, on Thursday nights, for some reason, it is much more peaceful, and I am better recollected, to go to Confession.

No matter how painful these works may be, they will seem of light account if we keep constantly in mind this thought: I am a fugitive from hell, a fugitive from purgatory, and were it not for the mercy of God, I would be there now, undergoing the well-merited punishment of my faults; therefore, I can consider nothing as humiliating me overmuch or grieving me above measure.

The submissive, willing and joyful acceptance of all the crosses Providence may see fit to send us. The Council of Trent teaches us that it is a great token of God's love for us that He deigns to accept as satisfaction for our sins the patient endurance wherewith we suffer the temporal ills He visits upon us. Therefore, should we have any physical or moral trials to undergo, arising from the uncontrolled forces of nature or from reverses of fortune, from failure or from humiliation, let us, instead of breaking into bitter complaint as out tendencies would suggest, accept all such suffering in a spirit of gentle resignation, persuaded that they are the just wages of sin, and that patience in adversity is one of the best means of atoning for it. This acceptance, a mere resignation at first, will gradually grow into a manful, nay, a joyous endurance of ordeals, as we see our woes thereby assuaged and made fruitful. We should be glad thus to shorten our purgatory, to become like Our Crucified Master and to glorify the God we have outraged. Then patience will bear all its fruits and cleanse our soul because it will be a work of love: "Many sins are forgiven her, because she hath loved much."

To patience we shall add the faithful discharge of our duties of state in a spirit of penance and reparation. The most acceptable sacrifice we can offer God is obedience: Obedience is better than sacrifices. Now, the duties of our state are the manifest expression of God's will in our regard. To fulfil them as perfectly as we can is to offer God the most perfect sacrifice within our giving, a perpetual holocaust, since this duty rests upon us from morning until night. This is assuredly true for such as live in community: faithful obedience to their rule, general or particular, and the courageous accomplishment of the orders or directions of their superiors multiply their acts of obedience, of sacrifice and of love, and enable them to repeat with St. John Berchmans: "My greatest penance is community life." Such perfect discharge of the duties of state is likewise the best means of doing penance for persons in the world. Fathers and mothers who loyally observe all their obligations as husbands and wives and as parents have many occasions of offering God sacrifices that will work unto the purification of their souls. The one thing necessary is that they acquit themselves resolutely of their duties in a Christian manner, for God's sake, and in a spirit of expiation and penance.
- Rev. Adolphe Tanquerey, The Spiritual Life

So, as I mentioned in my prior post, my penance will start early in the morning when I take my son to the play hockey. I don't know if it will be an opportunity for expiation or another reason I need to get to confession tomorrow night.

One ringy dingy

Ernestine says to ring the Chancery

Thanks to B who sent this to me.

This Thursday evening (November 5), the Saint Paul Deanery Council of Catholic Women is hosting an educational evening at St. Pascal's in St. Paul. The title of the event is "How Big is Your Footprint?" http://accwarchspm.org/pdfs/eveningenrichmentnov.pdf

Panelists include Deacon Glenn Skuta speaking on global warming, Fr. Pat Foley will speak on Catholic environmental theology, and finally, and most disturbingly, David Paxson, President of World Population Balance, will speak on the need to stabilize the population through population control.

A look at his website quickly shows that he in not in line with Catholic teaching! On his website he states that one of the best ways to check the exponential rate of population growth is to keep kids in school as long as possible because better educated women have less children (what a horse's rear, eunuchs have fewer children too). In his letter to educators he tells them he must disagree with abortion (I guess he thinks ALL educators are pro-abort?). He believes in a humane method of population control. http://www.worldpopulationbalance.org/

It is upsetting that a proponant of population control is being given a Catholic platform on which to speak. He is being granted further legitimacy by being on a panel with a Catholic deacon and a Catholic priest.

Please consider attending this presentation in order to promote true Catholic teaching on this matter. If you can't join him, please at least call the Chancery and voice your displeasure. 651-291-4400

Or you can reach the church at 774-1585, but be prepared to hear a scripted response about how we all should be good stewards of God's creation (meanwhile frustrating that creation with population control).

03 November 2009

Vote today

01 November 2009

May the Force of Ms. Child be with you

I was looking for a cook book for the kids and think I found one for myself.

It actually has numerous favorable reviews and is reasonably priced ($11.55 on Amazon)!! Down side is it uses prepared food, but, but...it's Star Wars.

From the publisher:
"Consider, young Jedi: Why bake a plain old cookie when you can bake a super-Chewie Wookiee Cookie?" So begins the delightful Star Wars Cookbook. Aimed at young cooks, but fun for all ages, the cookbook provides recipes for treats such as Princess Leia Danish Dos, Twin Sun Toast, Tusken Raider Taters, Sandtrooper Sandies, and the Amazon.com house favorite, Boba Fett-uccine. (What better way to get young Jedi knights to eat their broccoli?) Author Robin Davis's directions are extremely thorough and safety oriented (as she notes, "the calm and perceptive mind of a Jedi warrior will enable you to prevent most mishaps in the kitchen"), and perfect for kids who are new to cooking. The spiral-bound pages are lightly plasticoated, so if you spill some milk while concocting C-3PO Pancakes, it's easily wiped off. The highlights of the book are Frankie Frankeny's terrific photographs of Star Wars action figures posing with the food--R2-D2 encounters giant frozen R2-D2 Treats that look remarkably similar to him, while Darth Vader raises his fist at Bossk the bounty hunter atop a wall of Bossk Brownies as Darth's henchmen look on. And who could resist a shot of Jabba Jiggle? There's Jabba the Hutt positioned on a pile of oozing lime Jell-O®. Whether you're a Star Wars fan or just looking for a way to get the kids to feel the Force in the kitchen, The Star Wars Cookbook is great fun, and tasty, too!

31 October 2009

The buds have it

As a homeschooling mom, one of the subjects I dislike teaching is PHONICS. I hate phonics. Unfortunately, so does my son.

This year I've leaned more heavily into the Charlotte Mason realm (living books, few texts and even fewer tests) and tried to apply it to my classical approach. This seems to have worked well, except in phonics where there isn't really a good way to do this other than by brute force.

I knew one day I would regret not being in the military because I can't do the heavy lifting. Phonics in our house gets contentious every few days. My son gets put on black out and loses privileges, then the rest of us suffer because of the restrictions we have placed on him impact us. I haven't found a solution to this.

However, last night as we were carving pumpkins a moment that will live in infamy occurred. Actually, it's a moment that I will remember for a lifetime.

My son and hubby wanted an anatomy book because they wanted to carve a skeleton-looking face on the pumpkin. I dug out a colorful anatomy book I had and off my son went to design a face. After hubby drew the pattern on the pumpkin, my son and daughter were sitting on the floor with my son showing his sister some of the pictures and telling her about them.

Then they got to the tongue. My husband and I were only half-paying attention to them when we heard, "These are the taste buds. This one is sour, this one is salty, this one is salty and so is this one. This one is sour." How did he know which ones were salty and which ones were sour?

He read the headings on the picture.

Aside from the arm-twisting moments when we have him read to us, this is the first time he's read something for pleasure (that I know of.) I don't think he even knew he was doing it. He didn't even have to sound out the words the way kids do when they are first learning to read...he just confidently read it and shared it with his sister.

I think that gave me a second wind to tackle phonics again on Monday. The relief of potty training pales in comparison to a kid who is finally taking off with his reading.

30 October 2009

Halloween Weekend Kneeler Jeopardy

It can't be Friday already. Tomorrow is Halloween. As a kid, the day couldn't come soon enough, but as a parent it's like we just did this awhile ago. Didn't we?

Happy Halloween!! Remember daylight savings, to pray for reparations, and pray for the Poor Souls. Also, Father Z reminds us that you can obtain several indulgences next week, especially in this Year for Priests. Pray for our priests, both living and dead.

Category: It's better in Latin

I don't know how to phrase this so ArchAngel's Advocate won't get it right away, but let's just hope he's busy doing the Monster Mash and doesn't notice. Here goes. This man is well-known in various fields of study. In philosophy, he's known by his given name, while in mathematics he's known by his Latin name. (I hope that's obtuse enough.)

Bonus points if you know his famous quote, ala Latin. (We just learned it in Linney's Latin!)

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

Demerits for using Google and other sneaky searches. Educated guesses are welcome and encouraged. Good luck!!

When the rubber meets the road

Subtitled: Our tax dollars at work

About a week ago, my daughter came home from school with a note in her backpack that her bus pick-up time was going to be three minutes earlier. The following school day, a note came home that said her pick-up time would be three minutes later (back to square one). Today (Friday) the bus dropped her off and the driver and bus aide informed me that my daughter would be on a different bus with a different driver and aide starting on Monday, but that they didn't know any other information, like what time for pick-up and delivery.

Moments after my daughter arrived home, her teacher called with updated details. Monday morning my daughter will be on a different bus with different driver and different aide, but the pick-up time will be the same.

To think of all that is going on behind the scenes to orchestrate a bus schedule is mind-bloggling. No wonder the cost per student (in tax payer dollars) is so high when something completely removed from what is taught in the classroom monopolizes and wastes so much time, energy, resources and dollars!

Stepping down off my soap box now to go get a piece of candy.

29 October 2009

Hockey moms go to Heaven

Yes, we skip Purgatory altogether.

I'm not even a real hockey mom, not yet anyway. I just take my son skating since he's been on the ice a total of three times. But, in that time I have had the personal and vivid revelation that all activities and functions related to a mom taking her son to hockey are directly credited to any time due in Purgatory.

This morning I had to roll both kids out of bed (since my daughter needs to tag along), get them dressed while they were in a groggy, sleepy stupor, and pull most of my son's hockey gear on him, before we raced out the door during rush hour headed toward the hockey arena, which is half an hour away.

Once at the rink, I had to somehow finish getting the suitcase-worth of equipment affixed to my son. Lacing up skates is definitely an "offer it up" occasion.

Ditto for sitting around in a cold rink for 90 minutes.

I'm certain there must be a lost book of the bible that mentions saintly hockey moms.

Oh, this applies to dads too, especially the super saintly ones who try to help my little guy. I think they get 2-for-1 Purgatory credits.

Did I tell you that doing papier mache at home for art also counts toward time off in Purgatory? Truth be told, I'd rather lace up skates.

[Artwork: "Moose". Moose has to dry for a few days before it will be painted]

26 October 2009

What's a girl to do?

I attended a meeting of the local lay (or third order as they used to be called) Carmelites a few weeks ago. For years, I have felt drawn to this way of life, but in looking to my parents as examples since they were both lay Carmelites, the meeting was not what I expected.

For me, Carmelite spirituality is personal, contemplative, solitary. I'm not saying the people at the meeting weren't all these things, but my parents didn't attend meetings, didn't have these social gatherings, didn't participate in any group activities. So, proceeding from what I was familiar with in my parents' examples, this was all new territory and not something I was looking for. I'm a homeschooling mom with kids I run all over town, the last thing I need right now is to add activities to my already hectic schedule and I don't need the socialization. Socialization was not what I was looking for; I was looking for a group that would help structure my prayer life without all the fluff. No offense intended.

As an aside, in the past few months I have met numerous folks who are what I consider an odd blend of things, expressive and contemplative, especially given my parents as the reference point, with my father who said his daily office along with a daily rosary, attended daily Mass, and prayed for hours and hours every afternoon. Lay Carmelites, from my experience, didn't engage so heavily in the world, things were more internal, such as my father spending a large amount of time saying prayers of petition for others -- if anyone was suffering from any ailment, they called my father. So, encountering people I would describe as "Charismatic Carmelites" is simply jarring.

One of the things I have been gradually learning (the hard way) this past year is not to judge. I'm honestly not trying to judge this strange breed of cat, but I don't get how you mix all the "prayers of quiet" and "prayers of recollection" with such outward expressions as praying in tongues or other things traditionally considered "Charismatic" in nature, like laying on of hands. I'm used to each having it's own arena, not a blending of the two seemingly diametric spiritual paths.

But, that's off on a tangent.

What was really on my mind was the Catch-22 beginners are in when they attempt to progress in the spiritual life. Paraphrasing St. Teresa, P. Marie-Eugene, OCD, in his, "I Want to See God," says:

"It is natural enough that the devil should use his great power and take advantage of the relative weakness of beginners in prayer, to stop them in their journey towards God by causing in them, as far as he is able, as much dryness and distractions as he can. That he thus intervenes -- often successfully -- in the prayer of beginners seems certain; and, although using on them much more benign procedures than on Saint Teresa, these are probably much more effective.

The action of these natural and prenatural causes enters into the plan of God who uses everything for the good of those whom He loves. Supernatural light and grace, fruits of the Passion and death of Christ, cannot penetrate deeply within a soul unless it shares in that redemptive suffering and death. Such sufferings give it light on its own self and establish it in humility..." (p. 244)

If you want to grow in the spiritual life, you have to suffer and carry part of the Cross, plus have the devil attempt to thwart you at every turn. The Pearl of Great Price scenario. You can't stay where you are, you cannot stagnate because you know better and will be lost if you drag your feet, but moving forward means you're going to be assaulted and suffer. Pere Marie-Eugene further says,

"Our inquiry will not bear on the voluntary causes of distractions and of dryness, such, for instance, as negligence in putting them out of mind during prayer or even complacence in entertaining them; notable neglect of spiritual reading and of the preparation necessary to secure for prayer its sustenance; dissipation of life and habitual lack of mortification of the senses. For these, it is easy indeed to state the remedy. Not to apply it, would be to condemn oneself to culpable failure." (p. 239)

It's almost like damned if you do, damned it you don't. Well, definitely damned if you don't, but not a whole lot of fun if you do. Akin to what St. Teresa talks about in the early mansions when she doesn't understand why souls would want to stagnate in the outermost mansions where they are prey to the vipers and beasts, but then few souls have the grit to make it much further than the third or fourth mansions because of the sufferings, trials and mortifications they will endure.

I think I liked reading the Narnia tales better.

As Archbishop John Ireland would say, "Ever press forward."

24 October 2009

Weekend Kneeler Jeopardy Zwei

Bending to overwhelming demand, here's another one.

Category: Hollywood

This Oscar-winning actress, who had a Methodist father and Catholic mother, was baptised in both faiths. Raised as a devout Catholic, she eventually abandoned her faith, divorced her first two husbands, married a third time and became a ardent follower of Christian Science. She appeared in numerous films, starring in 52 of them.

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

Demerits for using Google and other sneaky searches. Educated guesses are welcome and encouraged. Good luck!!

23 October 2009

Weekend Kneeler Jeopardy

It rained and snowed and rained some more today. Brrr. It's winter here in the hinterland. This should be a softball for all the frozen folks out there.

Category: Org chart

This diocese, headquartered in Washington D.C. and serving almost 1.5 million Catholics, has no physical boundaries or location.

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

Demerits for using Google and other sneaky searches. Educated guesses are welcome and encouraged. Good luck!!

It's a mad, mad World's Fair

What I remember from last night's World's Fair; I thought it was just me.

Similarly, I also used to like John Cusack until his politics went.off.the.deep.end.

And Richard Gere.

It was a great evening, with very nice presentations and good food. The kids presented countries from nearly every continent (North America was not represented). One mom suggested that next time we pick a state and bring our favorite fast food. I second that.

Our country was Switzerland. I made Swiss Kugel, which was just OK. Trader Joe's made the nut torte I brought for dessert. There's only so many hours in the day.

19 October 2009

Catholic quarantine

It's a good thing I flipped through the parish bulletin yesterday. Seems the Diocese of Superior has a plan for the upcoming plague. Better to be prepared than to react to a situation when you often times have your course of action dictated to you.

But still.

It takes me back to the Swine Flu scare that occurred in my childhood. The pandemic that never happened. Our entire school received the Swine Flu shot, except my brother and me.

As I quickly read through the bulletin, I noticed a small statement paraphrasing the bishop's plan, stating that communion on the tongue was to cease and desist. Blessings of my children were to stop (the priests/deacons at St. Agnes always bless you without touching you, but the priest in this parish likes to place his hand on the kids' heads). No drinking from the Chalice (which is fine by me because I never do this anyway.)

It just seems like the devil is in the details. Back in the days when I was influenced by a rad trad friend, I might've even entertained the thought that this was a conspiracy, since the pandemic fears are striking at the heart of our Faith and our expression of it.

I'd still prefer to receive Communion on the tongue. I'm old enough to remember when this was the only way things were done. Just like the next person, I don't want to get sick and I certainly don't want my family to get sick, but is Communion in the hand really part of the answer to stopping the Swine Flu? Why not just have Our Lord hermetically sealed in plastic, much like they do with fortune cookies?

Further, why the Sign of Peace is only addressed in Level B is kind of odd since you're allowed to spread all your pandemic germs with people before you go to Communion, where you are now required to receive Our Lord in your hand...your potentially plague-infested hand.

And, holding hands during the Lord's prayer, well it shouldn't require a plague to get rid of that.

However, just like my father chastised me when I attended a Byzantine Catholic parish but didn't want to observe all the Holy Days of Obligation and Feasts that they did because, well, I was a Roman Catholic just moonlighting in their congregation, my wise father told me if I was going to attend that parish, I needed to tow the line. If you're a Roman Catholic who's ever tried to fit into a Byzantine parish, you know how difficult it is.

Even though I just "visit" a parish in the Diocese of Superior when we are at our cabin, I remembered my father's admonishment and quickly decided I needed to be obedient to the Bishop's wishes even though I hadn't received Communion in the hand since I was a child.

And so it went. Awkward and self-conscious, but grateful that the pandemic hadn't reached Level D, when the sacraments might be suspended, I received Communion in the hand.

Level “A”
At this point, events suggest the increased risk for a pandemic, prompting the need to review plans and preparations for such an emergency and increase our level of caution.
• Parishes are to have bottles of alcohol-based hand sanitizer available for extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. For example, these may be placed in the front pews (or other discreet but convenient place) and should then be used by these ministers both on their way to the sanctuary before communion and then again after ministering communion.
• All sick individuals, including clergy, are to stay home. Signs are posted on church, and parish/school doors instructing those with fever or other flu-like symptoms not to enter.
• Faith formation programs should be aware that camps, retreats, and other large youth gatherings may need to be postponed or cancelled, depending on local conditions. Youth ministers and catechists should keep up to date with the latest advice from public health authorities concerning such gatherings.
• Increase frequency of sanitizing door handles and other commonly touched solid surfaces.
• The vessels containing the bread and wine are to remain covered until placed on the altar.
• If a parish uses a large vessel at the entrance(s) of the church from which individual parishioners move hosts to the paten/ciborium, such a practice needs to stop at this point.
• Communion from the Cup is suspended. Only the priest and deacon if present are to commune from the Chalice—and then from opposite sides of the rim.
• In distributing communion, the Host shall be placed in the communicant’s hand without the minister touching the communicant.
• Communion on the tongue is discontinued.
• The practice of touching a non-communicant for a blessing is also to be discontinued.

Level “B”
In addition to the steps found in level “A”, the following steps (and modifications) are now to be added if necessary:
• Set up hand-washing stations in all buildings: tissues, trash receptacles, hand sanitizer, including instructions (signage).
• Sharing of the Sign of Peace by handshake or hug is suspended; rather, a simple bow/nod to one another will be used.
• Holding hands during Lord’s Prayer or any other part of the Mass is suspended.
• Ministers (incl. clergy and ministers of hospitality) are asked not to shake hands when they greet parishioners.
• Priests, deacons, readers, and servers—since they will be touching items in common—are to sanitize their hands before and after Mass, and during Mass if their hands become contaminated.
• On Good Friday, the Cross will be venerated by bow or genuflection, not by touch or kissing.
• In those places where it is the practice to venerate icons with a touch or kiss, that practice, too will be replaced with a bow.
• As far as pastoral visits to the sick are concerned, ministers should practice meticulous hand washing and—if the parishioner has symptoms of the flu virus—consideration should be given to wearing masks and gloves.
• Holy water fonts/stoops are emptied and refilled after each liturgical celebration and at least once daily.

Level “C”
In addition to the steps found in levels “A” and “B”, the following steps (and modifications) are now added if necessary:
• Staff or volunteers are to clean door handles and other hard surfaces (such as pews, water fountains, desks, tables, countertops washrooms) with a disinfectant. They should wear masks, gloves, and goggles when doing so and when emptying trash receptacles.
• Disinfecting should be done in parishes and chapels after each Liturgy (at least daily).
• Empty all baptismal and holy water fonts, including those that allow for full immersion; parishes should have pre-filled bottles of holy water available.
• Large group meetings should be postponed if at all possible. If not, participants should be seated with at least a 3’ distance between individuals.
• Home prayer booklets and other resources will be made available in case large group gatherings are suspended by Public Health authorities.
• The person preparing wine and hosts for Mass is also to wear a mask and non-latex gloves.
• Collection baskets are not to be passed person-to-person. It is preferred that a collection basket or locked poor box be placed at the entrance(s) of the church; alternatively, baskets with handles may be used (in which case ushers are to wear gloves and immediately wash their hands after the collection).
• Because the influenza virus can remain viable on surfaces for some time, the money collected is to be quarantined for 3 days before being counted. Those removing money from the collection baskets or boxes are to wear gloves and wash their hands afterwards.
• The collection is not carried in procession as part of the preparation of the gifts and altar.
• Due to their ability to transfer infection from hand-to-hand, common missalettes and song books should not be used.
• Worship aids, if used, should be printed for each occasion and then destroyed. Reprint permission pertaining to applicable copyright laws is to be followed.
• To the extent possible, the assembly will be seated in alternating rows, thereby increasing distance between individuals. In addition, it may become necessary to limit the number of individuals present for any one Mass.
• Non-essential gatherings—such as Children’s Liturgy of the Word and post-Mass social gatherings/refreshments—are to be cancelled.
• Turn off water fountains or mark them as not to be used. Bottled water should be available in case of necessity.

Level “D”
In addition to the steps found in levels “A”, “B”, and “C”, the following steps are now added if necessary:
• If Public Health authorities mandate that all large-group gatherings be suspended, parishes will comply and stop offering the Mass and other sacraments to groups. If such were to occur, the Bishop dispenses from the Sunday obligation to attend Mass.
• If public celebration of the sacraments is suspended, signs to that effect will be posted at entrances to the church and parish offices.

16 October 2009

Visual WKJ

Here's one that I found just odd and interesting all in one.

Category: Final Resting Places

The above picture shows the final resting place of this Catholic convert.

That's all I'm telling you! Guess away.

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

Demerits for using Google and other sneaky searches. Educated guesses are welcome and encouraged. Good luck!!

Weekend Kneeler Jeopardy

I hadn't planned to keep going into the Fall with Weekend Kneeler Jeopardy, but because things have been so busy since school started, I don't post much. If I didn't do WKJ, there might not be much new on my blog at all.

In mommy news, my son lost his first tooth. It had been loose for two weeks, so every day he walked around with his hand cupped under his chin because if the tooth were to fall out, he wanted to be absolutely certain he would catch it. Turns out he woke up one morning after this had been going on for awhile and just pulled the tooth out. I see my son is taking after me with a strong showing in the virtue of patience.

And, more on my son. His behavior kept him from going to Cub Scouts, had him on blackout and also kept him from going to hockey. My MIL thinks I'm terrible, but now that she isn't staying here any more, the TV is on infrequently and the kids aren't snacking constantly. Hoping next week brings him some clarity on his behavior. Or as my father, the swearing saint would say, "This shit needs to come into focus." Always a nice visual.

We will miss the St. Agnes Fall Festival because we have to run to the cabin to drain the water heater and get the place closed up. Not normally a problem at this time of year, but with the cold and snow we've had, we're lucky the pipes haven't frozen already! (As of Wednesday, the pipes were OK, at least according to my FIL).

Category: Anathema

This heretical group was comprised of Perfects and Believers who held dualistic beliefs and embraced a form of reincarnation. Like the scarlet letter, they were required to wear a yellow cross on their clothes.

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

Demerits for using Google and other sneaky searches. Educated guesses are welcome and encouraged. Good luck!!

13 October 2009

Holy Water

The Church has instituted the sacramentals, those rites or objects on which a particular blessing bestows a special virtue for preservation against the influence of the devil. Among the sacramentals, St. Teresa favored the use of holy water:

From long experience, I have learned that there is nothing like holy water to put devils to flight and to prevent them from coming back again. They also flee from the Cross, but return; so holy water must have great virtue. For my own part, whenever I take it, my soul feels a particular and most notable consolation. In fact, it is quite usual for me to be conscious of a refreshment which I cannot possibly describe, resembling an inward joy which comforts my whole soul. This is not fancy, or something which has happened to me only once; it has happened again and again and I have observed it most attentively [Life, xxxi, Peers, I, 205].

...The Church, in the different prayers for the blessing of water, asks insistently that power be given to this water "to put to flight all power of the enemy, to expel this enemy with all the rebel angels, to drive it away, to destroy the influences of the evil spirit and to cast out the venomous serpent.

"I often reflect on the great importance of everything ordained by the Church," comments St. Teresa, "and it makes me very happy to find that those words of the Church are so powerful that they impart their power to the water and make it so very different from water which has not been blessed."

Source: I Want To See God, A Practical Synthesis of Carmelite Sprituality, by Pere Marie-Eugene, OCD, pps. 115-117.

11 October 2009

Just in time for Christmas

After a few hours of gemuchlichkeit at a local Oktoberfest, we stopped by Barnes and Noble on the way home.

In the children's section -- not the teen section -- the children's section, next to kits on bead projects, children's cookbooks, and stuffed animals, was this little gem.

Pondering whether it would be confession-worthy if these things mistakenly ended up under one of the store's cushy lounge chairs or accidentally got dropped in the garbage or one of the kids spilled a vendi mocha on them.

Here's what the BN site has to say about this set:

“A primer for beginning enthusiasts. The text is accompanied by soft, flowing illustrations and detailed pictures of the most popular Tarot cards...This guide will be ideal for providing a solid base for exploration.”—School Library Journal. “One of the best parts of this is its crisp, bright artwork. The cards’ familiar look will make potential Tarot readers more comfortable...An attractive choice.”—Booklist.

Full instructions on how to use tarot cards. Includes ideas for birthdays, parties, storytelling, keeping a journal and designing your own tarot cards.

School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up-A primer for beginning enthusiasts. The text is accompanied by soft, flowing illustrations and detailed pictures of the most popular Tarot cards, the Rider-Waite deck. Beginning with a brief history, the author moves into a step-by-step guide for using the cards. From there, readers are given a picture and description of what each one means in both upright and reserved form. The text finishes with sample spreads and tips for designing one's own deck. The book guides girls through the Major and Minor Arcana (the two sections of the deck) in simple language, and explains what the Tarot will and will not answer. While touting this device as a way to connect to intuition and bring clarity to a situation, the text retains a neutral, if somewhat New Age tone. Olmstead makes it clear that the Tarot should blend into one's daily life, "not be a controlling force." This guide will be ideal for providing a solid base for exploration, but practitioners of the art may be disappointed by the lack of in-depth information.-Elaine Baran Black, Gwinnett County Public Library, Lawrenceville, GA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Being a parent these days really requires vigilance. The malls are full of suggestive ads/displays, you can't watch most of what's on television, and you can't even browse in the children's section of a bookstore without having to look over your kids' shoulders! And, it's interesting that school librarians are reviewing this and recommending it. Personally, I don't know enough about Tarot to have even mustered a review. Interesting how versed the librarian is on the topic.

10 October 2009

Snowy Weekend Kneeler Jeopardy

Yes, we have snow!! Bad news is we didn't turn the heat on at the cabin AND we haven't drained the water from the water heater and pipes. Bad combination. May have to run up there and close the place up. Brrrrr. At least the boat got brought in and stored in the garage a few weekends ago, and the dock and boat lift are out of the water. (We could've turned the heat on, but there isn't enough propane in the tank to last very long...OY! Always something!)

Have a blessed weekend!!!

Category: Conquerors and invaders

Known as the "Devil's Horsemen," these conquerers who had half the known world in their control during the 13th century, surprisingly set an example of religious tolerance not known in the medieval world.

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

Demerits for using Google and other sneaky searches. Educated guesses are welcome and encouraged. Good luck!!

06 October 2009

My little dragon slayer

Braving the rain and mud, we courageously made our way to the Renaissance Fest last Friday. Despite the constant drizzle and cold temps, we managed to have a good time. My son especially loved "balloon fencing." We walked, ate, petted animals, learned about knights, watched some jousting, rode on a war horse, and ate some more.

01 October 2009

No good deed

I was a good citizen, one of only 5% of the population in the city that voted in the recent primary. Dutifully, I walked over to my polling place with my kids and voted. I hate politics. It's a dirty business. But, I sure don't want my freedoms taken away, so I slogged over and voted.

A few days ago I got a SUMMONS, what an ominous and officious word, for JURY DUTY.

It seems like a bunch of people I know have gotten jury duty lately. It's an epidemic.

It's my duty to be part of the process, yada yada, I get that, but why NOW. I didn't have kids until I was in my late thirties, but the system doesn't pick me until I start homeschooling my kids. What if I was still nursing? That would really be difficult since they only let you request to postpone your duty for nine months. A lot of moms nurse for much longer than that...I wonder if you could get a doctor's note to get out of it then?

You can't bring a cell phone or any electronic device. How in the world can a mother of little ones be expected to sit in a room from 8am-4:30pm and not have a cell phone in case of emergency? Oh yeah, there's a contact number folks can call in case of emergency. Let's just say, in case of emergency I want my freakin' phone on me, not risking things to a disinterested civil servant to pass along a message. Good grief.

Another rub is that it seems folks can vote if they are citizens but don't speak English (some who aren't even citizens may vote, but we'll leave that to the ACORN folks to sort out), however, if you can't communicate in ENGLISH you can get out of jury duty. HUH? You can't read the ballot well enough to vote, but that isn't a problem, but it gets you out of jury duty?

And, they pay you a whole $10 a day to sit there in silence.

Did you ever feel like the Israelites after they asked for a king?