25 June 2010

Done with VBS Weekend Kneeler Jeopardy

Have a good weekend everyone!!

Category: Unintended consequences

It wasn't until the late 18th century that this country was significantly exposed to Catholicism. A group, which later included three priests, none of them missionaries tasked to preach, settled here and Catholicism began to spread. Currently, slightly over a quarter of this country's population is Catholic.

St. Alex says, please place your answer in the form of a question in the combox, and say a few Hail Marys for this last week of the Year for Priests 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!!

The first correct answer in the form of a question wins the highly coveted WKJ ribbon to display on your blog, cubicle or refrigerator door.

22 June 2010

Half way there

Sister joked this morning when she saw me that I returned for another day of Vacation Bible School.

Here's our crew.

With it being so hot this week, I'm glad I'm not in a habit. One upside, this year they have special snacks for the teachers. I think it's meant as a bribe. No animal crackers for this gal.

21 June 2010

Same time next year

I was talking with my brother-in-law's mother over the weekend and somehow the topic of First Communion came up. Next year my son, God-willing, will receive his First Holy Communion. She mentioned that when she was growing up all the neighbor ladies would take turns bringing a ham baked in bread to the family of the First Communicant. I had never heard of it before. The best I can tell, it's an Eastern European thing. I think I may make one of these next Spring.

Both my Irish and German sides didn't have any First Communion traditions that were handed down to my generation. Heck, no photos even exist of my First Communion. That's what happens when you're at the tail-end of almost 60 first cousins...handed down dress, no glow-in-the-dark rosaries as gifts, no ham and no photos.

Smatterings on Monday

With Vacation Bible School this week, things will be pretty busy and blog posts limited. Add to that music and guitar lessons for my son, along with meetings nearly every night this week. I hope to at least limp across the finish line on Friday.

This weekend we were at a high school graduation. Of course, the kids were off playing with the small group of other kids that were there.

We had been there about an hour when the new little playmate of my daughter's came running up to me. She was very intent on talking to me. Her reaction was beginning to make me wonder if my daughter had been mean to her.

"Are you her Mommy?" she demanded, pointing to my daughter. I told her I was. "Does she live just with you?"

I gently had to explain to this little four year-old, who obviously lived with only her mother, that my daughter did live with both parents and even her brother. Then I didn't know what more to say, since with kids, you answer the question and don't expound on things as you risk confusing them or harming their innocence. In this case, the already not-so-innocent awareness of a four year-old.

19 June 2010

Word of the day


pan·e·gyr·ic (pn-jrk, -jrk)
1. A formal eulogistic composition intended as a public compliment.
2. Elaborate praise or laudation; an encomium.

Used in a sentence:
"Illness and unceasing anxiety had seen to her losing all that; and we can safely neglect all panegyric in that direction, even the observation of foreign envoys; for each panegyrist had an axe to grind."
~Hilaire Belloc, Elizabeth, Creature of Circumstance

Unrelated, however, I liked Belloc's lament in the above book about the decline of English prose and language:
"On the other hand, more and more of us now possess a familiar acquaintance with the glorious German tongue in which it is possible to converse with animals."

I thought it was that Victorian charmer, Dr. Dolittle, who spoke with animals.

Snark off.

18 June 2010

Just browsing

Had an appointment today. Usual babysitters (ie: aunts) were out of town, so I had to take the kids with me. Ah, fun. But, they weren't too disruptive.

Once the appointment was over, the kids and I walked next door to an independent children's bookseller. My daughter walked in and said, "It's all a kids' section!!!!" Off she ran squealing.

The thrill for me wore off rather quickly when I found...

No, not the Tarot set for kids or a Ouija board, but...

Product Description
Lily is 9. Her sister Daisy is 1. And she's no ordinary baby. Somehow, when she was born, something went rather wrong... and now Daisy is a Witch Baby. Nobody knows this but Lily - she's the only one who can see when Daisy makes the fridge float in the air, or turns people into slugs, or summons up her very stinky dog Waywoof...

About the Author
DG is the author and illustrator of many books for children, such as No Matter What and the Pure Dead series, which includes Pure Dead Magic and Pure Dead Wicked.

Isn't that special? A whole series where "something went rather wrong."

Weekend Kneeler Jeopardy

Chris got the last one way too quickly, so here's another. Have a great weekend everyone!

Category: In"vestments"

This garment dates back to the Greeks and Romans and was supposed to have been worn, in an early form, by Jesus and his apostles because it was identified with philosophers and teachers. During the fourth century, on the Eve of Sts. Peter and Paul, this newly woven garment was "taken to the Basilica of St. Peter and laid upon the tomb of that apostle to rest above his body for the night: from whom it was supposed to have contracted a share of apostolic authority." It was in the fifth century that this garment became primarily associated with ecclesiastical authority.

St. Alex says, please place your answer in the form of a question in the combox, and say a few Hail Marys for this last week of the Year for Priests 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!!

The first correct answer in the form of a question wins the highly coveted WKJ ribbon to display on your blog, cubicle or refrigerator door.

Category: Can you spare a dime?

This group set up an early banking system across Europe. They allowed non-members to deposit money with them, issuing letters of credit. Travellers could visit a facility belonging to this group in their home country, depositing their deeds and valuables. They were then given a letter which would describe their holdings. While traveling, they could present the letter along the way, to "withdraw" funds from their account. This kept the travellers safe since they were not carrying valuables.

St. Alex says, please place your answer in the form of a question in the combox, and say a few Hail Marys for this last week of the Year for Priests 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!!

The first correct answer in the form of a question wins the highly coveted WKJ ribbon to display on your blog, cubicle or refrigerator door.

Thanks, Vincenzo, for the updated design:


I used to work with a guy whose ancestry included St. Thomas Becket. I saw the movie the other day at the library and was tempted to check it out...for the third time. Have never made it through the whole thing. Instead, I reserved a copy of A Man for All Seasons on St. Thomas More, which I have never seen.

Reliquary Casket with Scenes from the Martyrdom of Saint Thomas Becket
Source: Reliquary Casket with Scenes from the Martyrdom of Saint Thomas Becket [English or German] (17.190.520) Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History The Metropolitan Museum of Art

This precious silver box was created to contain a relic of the martyred English saint Thomas Becket. Saint Thomas was the archbishop of Canterbury from 1162 to 1170, and he is perhaps best known for his struggles with King Henry II of England over the separation between the rights of the monarch and the rights of the church. Thomas was killed by four knights of Henry's court in Canterbury Cathedral at twilight on December 29, 1170.

The long sides of the reliquary display a brief narrative of the saint's martyrdom. On one side, the lower rectangular panel shows the four knights assaulting Thomas, while on the triangular lid above, an angel makes a sign of blessing over the event. On the other side, the lower panel shows Thomas's body lying in state, while above, an angel cradles a small child, the symbol of the saint's soul as it rises to heaven. This reliquary is dated to the years immediately following Thomas's canonization in 1173, making it one of the earliest objects commemorating his sainthood.

The martyrdom of St Thomas from the St Thomas Altarpiece commissioned in 1424, from Meister Francke by the Guild of English Merchants in Hamburg.

Stained glass of St. Thomas Becket, Canterbury Cathedral.

17 June 2010


Just put up a new post. Haven't posted in a few days since I couldn't get on the internet...or things were so slow I didn't have the patience to spend an hour to post a few sentences. Still experiencing problems...bear with me!

Why Bene?

Statue of Pope Benedict XV, "The great Pope of the world tragedy...the benefactor of all people, irrespective of nationality or religion," in the courtyard of the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, Istanbul, placed there by the Turks due to the Pope's peace efforts during WWI.

In listening to the EPIC CDs, I learned a little bit about why Pope Benedict XVI chose the name Benedict, which he alluded to when he was chosen as Pope:
Filled with sentiments of awe and thanksgiving, I wish to speak of why I chose the name Benedict. Firstly, I remember Pope Benedict XV, that courageous prophet of peace, who guided the Church through turbulent times of war. In his footsteps I place my ministry in the service of reconciliation and harmony between peoples. Additionally, I recall Saint Benedict of Nursia, co-patron of Europe, whose life evokes the Christian roots of Europe. I ask him to help us all to hold firm to the centrality of Christ in our Christian life: May Christ always take first place in our thoughts and actions!

But what did Pope Benedict XV do exactly?

He spoke out against facism, national socialism and communism -- having people be subjected to the whim of the State. He also spoke out way back then, during our grandfather's or great-grandfather's time, against relativism and modernism.

During the war, the Great War, his pontificate had three principles on how the Vatican would relate to the world.

1. Perfect neutrality, which meant that he wasn't publicly picking sides but didn't mean he didn't make a stand. His first encyclical, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum, is so relevant that it could've been written by the current pontiff, being at the same time strong, pastoral, sympathetic and heralding, in part, much the same message that we heard from Our Lady at Fatima (which occurred while he was Pope). Here's one of several paragraphs that caught my eye:
Once the plastic minds of children have been moulded by godless schools, and the ideas of the inexperienced masses have been formed by a bad daily or periodical press, and when by means of all the other influences which direct public opinion, there has been instilled into the minds of men that most pernicious error that man must not hope for a state of eternal happiness; but that it is here, here below, that he is to be happy in the enjoyment of wealth and honour and pleasure: what wonder that those men whose very nature was made for happiness should with all the energy which impels them to seek that very good, break down whatever delays or impedes their obtaining it. And as these goods are not equally divided amongst men, and as it is the duty of authority in the State to prevent the freedom enjoyed by the individual from going beyond its due limits and invading what belongs to another, it comes to pass that public authority is hated, and the envy of the unfortunate is inflamed against the more fortunate. Thus the struggle of one class of citizen against another bursts forth, the one trying by every means to obtain and to take what they want to have, the other endeavouring to hold and to increase what they possess.

2. Extend charity to all. Pope Benedict XV arranged for prisoner exchanges and created a Vatican bureau to help prisoners of war, similar to what the Red Cross does today by being a go-between for military personnel and their families. He passed out financial aid during the war, according to EPIC, 5M Lira from the Vatican, along with over 30M Lira that was donated to the Church. Reportedly, he gave away so much money that the Vatican was broke and had to go into debt to pay for his funeral.

3. Constant call for peace. He also called for reduction of arms, spoke against particular weapons like poison gas, and against the deportation of workers. He also wrote another encyclical on peace and Christian reconciliation, Pacem, Dei Munus Pulcherrimum, saying peace should be granted without reparations.

He was also the Pope that canonized St. Joan of Arc during "the suicide of Europe," which is how he referred to the war, providing the Church and the world a great saintly example during such a devastating period.

Woodrow Wilson also incorporated some of Pope Benedict's ideas into his "Fourteen Points."

In light of this, I can begin to understand Pope Benedict XVI's recent encyclicals a little more clearly (he's has an incredible intellect) and why he has been much more pastoral and not heavy-handed during his pontificate, like so many thought he would be.

14 June 2010

Above us only sky

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.
~Prayer of St. Gertrude the Great

Last month I attended the funeral Mass for a cousin once-removed. The family recently sent out thank you cards, along with returning the money from "the envelopes," because they weren't "familiar with the custom."

The custom of giving money to have Masses said for the repose of the deceased's soul.

What a mess.

Nobody expects....

the Spanish Inquisition.

Am reading up on the real Inquisition while sitting in my comfy chair. William Walsh's, Characters of the Inquisition. All I know so far, I learned from Monty Python.

12 June 2010

Close enough

Even though it's the Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I finally got back my retouched icon, Our Lady of Mount Carmel. It's beautiful and I'm happy to have it home after a long absence.

It's a completely rainy and over-cast day, plus I have a dark Craftsman-style home with no bright lights, so the photo is very poor. The icon is quite large, about 24" x 19", and is a very generous gift from a priest friend.

It really has brightened up this gloomy day!

(Update: Photo has been enhanced by the wizard, Vincenzo.)

Poodles, terriers, whatever...

My 4 year-old daughter thinks the neighbor owns a sheep. Try arguing with a kid.

11 June 2010

Weekend Kneeler Jeopardy

This question is hard to hint at without giving it away. I think the time frame pretty much points to the answer.

Category: Novel Inquiries

Though taken down with fever, this writer refused to stay below in the vessel he was serving, and begged to be allowed to take part in the battle (of Lepanto), saying that he would rather die for his God and his king than keep under cover. He fought bravely on board a vessel, and received three gunshot wounds – two in the chest, and one which rendered his left arm useless, saying that he "had lost the movement of the left hand for the glory of the right."

St. Alex says, please place your answer in the form of a question in the combox, and say a few Hail Marys for this last week of the Year for Priests 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!!

The first correct answer in the form of a question wins the highly coveted WKJ ribbon to display on your blog, cubicle or refrigerator door.

Thanks, Vincenzo, for the updated design:

10 June 2010

Today's garage sale finds

OK, it may just be cool to me, but had some luck at garage sales today after having been pretty much skunked up to this point. Got my son a wooden knight's shield, not the exact one as seen in the picture, but the kind they sell at the Renaissance Faire for around $20. This one was $1.50

A Thames and Kosmos "Milestones in Science Kit." The kit was brand new and unopened and retails for $90. Got it for $2
Embark on an active research expedition through the history of science and technology. Learn about famous scientists and inventors, like Archimedes, Copernicus, Einstein, Watt, and Darwin, as you reproduce their ground-breaking experiments. Read about each scientist and their times, what they did and how they did it, and then see it yourself firsthand! From the Stone Age to modern times, the history of science comes to life in front of you in this tangible, hands-on format. This comprehensive kit covers the accomplishments of over 140 scientists and civilizations.

I also got this brand new kit for $2.

Along with the science kits, I found some homeschooling books:
The New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism No.2
The Winged Watchman by Hilda van Stockum
Beorn the Proud by Madeleine Polland
The Life of Grace - Faith and Life Series 7

And a guilty pleasure for me

It's the time of the season for loving...

VBS - Vacation Bible School

Some of you may remember the fun I had a few summers ago teaching the Kindergarten VBS. Had it not been for the two other teachers, the ship would've sunk. No permanent damage to the children has been observed.

Last year I was sick and in no shape to help out. But, I'm back in the saddle this summer. The nuns will be teaching the program for all the grades and I get to be a trusty assistant.

I'm excited that we will be learning about the very cool St. Joseph of Cupertino:
Joseph of Cupertino had trouble learning to read and write. The world thought him to be a failure. However, Joseph rose above the world. His love for God was so deep that the power of the Holy Spirit lifted him up time and time again.
Witnesses came from far and wide to see Joseph hover near the ceiling of a church, floating over a religious procession, or on the branch of a tree. Read this amazing story of a saint whose great love for God could not keep him down.

Sign Up. Bring the Kids!!!

09 June 2010

Hubble Finds a Star Eating a Planet

Too bad it's an artist's rendering and not an actual photo. Our solar system is so boring we had to down-grade a planet to get rid of it.

NASA 05.20.10

The hottest known planet in the Milky Way galaxy may also be its shortest-lived world. The doomed planet is being eaten by its parent star, according to observations made by a new instrument on NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS). The planet may only have another 10 million years left before it is completely devoured.

The planet, called WASP-12b, is so close to its sunlike star that it is superheated to nearly 2,800 degrees Fahrenheit and stretched into a football shape by enormous tidal forces. The atmosphere has ballooned to nearly three times Jupiter's radius and is spilling material onto the star. The planet is 40 percent more massive than Jupiter.

This effect of matter exchange between two stellar objects is commonly seen in close binary star systems, but this is the first time it has been seen so clearly for a planet.

"We see a huge cloud of material around the planet, which is escaping and will be captured by the star. We have identified chemical elements never before seen on planets outside our own solar system," says team leader Carole Haswell of The Open University in Great Britain.

Haswell and her science team's results were published in the May 10, 2010 issue of The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

A theoretical paper published in the science journal Nature last February by Shu-lin Li of the Department of Astronomy at the Peking University, Beijing, first predicted that the planet's surface would be distorted by the star's gravity, and that gravitational tidal forces make the interior so hot that it greatly expands the planet's outer atmosphere. Now Hubble has confirmed this prediction.

WASP-12 is a yellow dwarf star located approximately 600 light-years away in the winter constellation Auriga. The exoplanet was discovered by the United Kingdom's Wide Area Search for Planets (WASP) in 2008. The automated survey looks for the periodic dimming of stars from planets passing in front of them, an effect called transiting. The hot planet is so close to the star it completes an orbit in 1.1 days.

The unprecedented ultraviolet (UV) sensitivity of COS enabled measurements of the dimming of the parent star's light as the planet passed in front of the star. These UV spectral observations showed that absorption lines from aluminum, tin, manganese, among other elements, became more pronounced as the planet transited the star, meaning that these elements exist in the planet's atmosphere as well as the star's. The fact the COS could detect these features on a planet offers strong evidence that the planet's atmosphere is greatly extended because it is so hot.

The UV spectroscopy was also used to calculate a light curve to precisely show just how much of the star's light is blocked out during transit. The depth of the light curve allowed the COS team to accurately calculate the planet's radius. They found that the UV-absorbing exosphere is much more extended than that of a normal planet that is 1.4 times Jupiter's mass. It is so extended that the planet's radius exceeds its Roche lobe, the gravitational boundary beyond which material would be lost forever from the planet's atmosphere.

08 June 2010

Priest spotting

The kids and I were at McDonald's last week and a priest (Father Gj, who I only recognized because of his blog and Theology on a stick) sat at the next table. While it was nice to see a priest out for lunch in blacks, I don't know if I want the kids thinking McDonald's is a holy place to go for lunch or a place for priest spotting. Although, I am in favor of anything that distracts the kids from wanting a Happy Meal.

At this point, my son doesn't want to be a priest, he wants to be a mystery solver. Arguably, there's some overlap.

There should be a calendar, "Fast Food Fathers"

07 June 2010

The grass is greener here

Growing up, you could flip a coin as to which religion a given neighbor might be. Next door on one side were Catholics; the other side Lutherans. Farther down the block, alternately Catholic and Lutheran. Across the street, it was the same pattern. Each Sunday morning we all got in our cars and went to our corresponding church, although the Lutherans had more to pick from.

It wasn't until recently, and still not very persuasively, that I could explain why I was Catholic. Having kids, as my father used to say in slightly less than delicate words, brings stuff into focus. It prioritizes then reprioritizes again. Explaining the Faith to children and trying as best as one can to live that Faith is not a vocation for a sissy. Distilling down the four Last Things, I primarily will be judged on my short tenure as a parent.

Dad might not have been elegant in his speech, but he usually was right.

He also was big on the theme of perseverance. The decision to homeschool also boils down to me as the teacher, primary educator, "Parents are the first and most important educators of their children, and they also possess a fundamental competency in this area: they are educators because they are parents."

Which brings me off the tangent to the latest thing I read in my attempts to be informed enough to educate my children. In my ecumenical monologue with my Lutheran in-laws, I've tried to explain my Faith. I'm finally looking into what the in-laws believe, or at least what the founders of what they believe (Luther and Calvin), actually believed.

It's been illuminating and not pretty.
For Luther sin is passion, for Catholicism sin is in the will -- the act of choice. In Freudian terms Luther's sin is libido, Catholic sin is ego. From this a number of consequences flow. From the Lutheran point of view the conclusion follows that, as nobody is ever entirely passionless (least of all essentially passionate types like Luther), there can be no freedom from sin in this world. Man is born and dies in iniquity. The utmost he can attain is an assurance that this won't be counted against him -- that Christ's redemptive suffering covers all. Hence justice is only imputed -- the Lutheran concept which became the center of controversy.

In Catholic teaching, on the other hand, the work of justification is not limited to the act of faith with which it begins. It is carried on by the use of the sacraments, the life of charity and the practice of good works, so that human nature recovers the spiritual life that was lost by sin and man becomes a new creature, not by an external act of imputation but by the appropriation of divine grace -- by sanctifying grace, which is the technical theological term.

Thus there is a difference between Lutheran and Catholic teaching as regards good works and free will. Luther says that good works do not make a good man, or evil works a bad man, but that the good man does good works and the bad man does evil. This is psychologically true, but it does not cover the whole ground. The ordinary man is not wholly good or wholly bad. He is both. He does good acts and bad acts, and it is psychologically false to argue that his character is not affected by good or evil practice. Thus it is also true to say that good habits make a man good and bad habits make him bad. This second fact was ignored or underestimated by Luther. It seems that there is a certain confusion in his thought on these matters. He had become convinced of the worthlessness of pious practices -- that it is no use fasting or saying long prayers or making a pilgrimage or a vow. Good works, however, are not merely pious practices, they are simply what the words denote -- doing good -- and it is a fallacy to argue that such action has no value from a religious point of view.
~ Christopher Dawson, The Dividing of Christendom

Since I wasn't doing it much on my own, children are God's way of insisting I learn my Faith, even just a little, so that my kids may fare better than the odds of a coin flip.

04 June 2010

Weekend Kneeler Jeopardy

After making everyone weary of the history category last week, we'll move over to science and see how it goes.

Category: What's in a name

Science has benefited greatly from the works of numerous Catholics. Three common electrical units have been named after important Catholic pioneers. Name the units and/or the scientists they are named for. You need all three to get the WKJ ribbon.

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!!

The first correct answer in the form of a question wins the highly coveted WKJ ribbon to display on your blog, cubicle or refrigerator door.

Thanks, Vincenzo, for the updated design:

02 June 2010

Foreign languages

How in the world did the term "play date" ever get in my vocabulary?

Dividing Christendom

I grabbed the book, The Dividing of Christendom by Christopher Dawson, off the shelf at a local bookstore while I was letting the kids dig through the children's section. As the kids were rummaging through Sponge Bob and Dora, I only managed to get a few pages in, so I requested it later through the library. Now I'm trying to plow my way through a book that assumes one is much more familiar with history than I am.

"Of all divisions between Christians, that between Catholics and Protestants is the deepest and the most pregnant in its historical consequences. It is so deep that we cannot see any solution to it in the present period and under existing historical circumstances. But at least it is possible for us to take the first step by attempting to overcome the enormous gap in mutual understanding which has hitherto rendered any intellectual contact or collaboration impossible. From this point of view the problem is not to be found so much in the sphere of theology, strictly speaking, as in that of culture and historical tradition. For the changes that followed the Reformation are not only the work of the Churches and theologians. They are the work of the statesmen and the soldiers. The Catholic and Protestant worlds have been divided from one another by centuries of war and power politics, and the result has been that they no longer share a common social experience. Each has its own version of history, its own social inheritance, as well as its own religious beliefs and standards of orthodoxy. And nowhere is this state of things more striking than in America, where the English Protestant North and the Spanish Catholic South formed two completely different worlds which had no mental contact with one another."

I guess I shouldn't expect my in-laws to "get me" after all these years. They do have a completely different view of the world, but what is so striking is that they used to be Catholic. Catholic within my mother-in-law's lifetime. My husband's great-grandparents were devoutly Catholic. His great-aunt was a Benedictine who was a teacher, artist and professor.

Remarkable how one decision can change the entire trajectory of a family. In this case, the loss of a child led the family outside of the Church. Many times it's divorce. Sad how hostility gets handed down from generation to generation and the faith of numerous ancestors is abandoned.

Michelangelo in the attic

Well, not exactly.

Last week, when I was at Half Price Books, they had this book by Edward Gorey in their case for $100. It caught my eye.

Not knowing it was a collector's item, I had picked it up for my kids at a garage sale a few years ago for way less than a dollar.

Photo and info below from this site:
One of Edward Gorey's most theatrical published works is The Tunnel Calamity. Published in 1984 by G. Putnam's Sons, New York, this item really cannot be called a book. It is better described as a Magic Windows paper toy.

Holding the front and rear stiff covers, the viewer extends the accordion pleats and looks into a peep hole on the front. This creates a "tunnel" where all kinds of things are happening. The angle can be moderately changed from side to side to view the layers of illustration that appear when the item is extended. The effect is that you are looking down a tunnel or into a deep stage set. This is one of Mr. Gorey's more fragile and frivolous printed works.

Needless to say, the kids aren't playing with it any more.

01 June 2010

Applicants for Admission to a Casual Ward by Sir Samuel Luke Fildes (1874)

Of stones and free will

Father Know-it-All's homily for Corpus Christi Sunday, from a few years ago.

Text follows YouTube links for those of us with non-functioning computer sound or slow dial-up.

(Couldn't get Part 2 to provide the code to embed, so here is the link to Father's website that has the two-part homily and the readings.)

First of all I’d like to congratulate S.N. [initials only] who was baptized a few weeks ago...
A member of our religious education class...
Who will be making her First Holy Communion today.
It’s a very appropriate day to do so, the feast of Corpus Christi [Latin for "The Body of Christ"].
So, as we say in Skokie (Illinois), "Mazel Tov" [literally means "good fortune" in Hebrew]
S.N. [initials only] will come up with her family at the beginning of Communion.
I hope you are all awake.
You’re all focused, are you all focused?
Because this a very strange sermon.
Not long, just strange.
Well, it may be long --- you never know.
It all kind of started at the Great Adventure Bible Class, about three or four weeks ago.
We were studying the book of Joshua.
And it had never occurred to me that Joshua really brings right into the limelight, I guess you’d say..
The problem of evil.
Not only does God permit evil...
I mean that’s a problem --- if God is so good...
All of us have been through this, I think...
If God is so good, and so loving...
Why are all these bad things happening to me?
I remember, I don’t know if you’ll follow this, but this cartoon in the Sun Times, "Mr. Boffo".
Maybe I mentioned this one...
Mr. Boffo is hiding behind a big rock, and there’s a voice in the sky, and lightening bolts and thunder.
And the voice says "Come out in the open so I get a clear shot at ya."
You know, some of us feel like that, don’t’ we?
I remember the line in the "Fiddler On The Roof":
"Lord, we know we’re the Chosen People, but couldn't You choose someone else for a while?"
But this is a problem we have.
If God is so good, why is there so much difficulty in my life?
And, on a grander scale, why is there so much evil in the world?
And more importantly, if you read the book of Joshua, and study the conquest in the Land of Canaan...
It seems that God not only permits evil, but He is its perpetrator.
I remember my mother decided to read the Bible cover to cover.
And about a book or two in, she gave me a call and said, "Richard, do you know what’s in this book?"
"I mean, really, it’s a challenging book!"
I gave a talk in Huntley [Illinois] a of couple weeks ago...
And I was kind of warned by the people who had invited me...
There's a woman here who is pacing back and forth, she has come here to ask you one question.
Somehow I was able to avoid her going into the hall.
But she sat patiently through a long and boring lecture to ask her question.
And her question was simply this --- that she was reading the story of Judith and Holofernes.
Judith was a heroin from among the Israelites.
And Holofernes, a general of, I think it was, the Syrians.
I don’t know, one of those people who are always trying to dislodge the Israelites.
But her question was --- how did this story make it into the Bible?
This woman seduced a general, drugged him and then killed him.
And this was all for the glory of God.
How in any way can that be Scripture?
This is a good question.
How can this be?
Well, I know a woman, she’s an older woman now, and a very dear friend...
Who was Jewish, and has become a Catholic
Maybe I told you about her...
But when she was a little girl
Maybe I told you about her...
She was a girl of exceptional intelligence.
And at a very young age, she was allowed to attend a yeshivah.
NOTE: A yeshivah is a Jewish institution for Torah study and the study of Talmud and generally cater to boys or men. A roughly equivalent women's institution is the midrasha.
Which was unusual itself in those days.
And she was asked the classic question:
"Can God make a stone so big that He Himself can not move it?"
Now, the Catholic and Jewish answer is:
"No, He would not make a stone so big that He could not move it...
Because, He has made creation as a mirror of His goodness."
Creation itself and natural law are extensions of God’s goodness.
It would be as if you stood in a mirror, raised your hand, and expected the reflection to lower its hand.
It just makes no sense.
That’s the Catholic and Jewish answer.
The Muslim and Protestant answer is:
"Yes, God could do that. He can do anything he wants."
I think this is something that a lot of people don’t know.
That the founders of the Reformation --- the reformers Calvin and Luther --- were very much influenced by Islamic thought that had come into the Christian world through Spain.
And Calvin especially, but Luther also, did not believe in free will.
And they believed that God, being absolutely sovereign, could do whatever He pleased.
Therefore, if God woke up on the wrong side of the bed...
Well, He could say that murder and adultery were good.
And they would be good.
So, the answer of Muslims and Protestants is YES --- God could make a stone so big that He Himself could not move it.
Well, this little Jewish girl in a yeshivah said, when asked the question:
"Can God make a stone so big that He Himself could not move it?"
She looked at her teachers and she said:
"Yes, He can. And He did --- the human heart."
And for that, she was thrown out of school.
God made a stone so big that He Himself cannot move it.
And that is --- the human heart --- in its freedom.
God has given us freedom.
And on the cross He subjected Himself --- to our freedom.
Well - why did God give us freedom?
Because freedom is the only necessary precondition for real love.
Your dog loves you.
I mean, there are a lot of dog owners here, aren't there?
And heaven forbid if anyone should say your dog doesn't really love you.
You are the giver of food, and possessor of the can opener, aren't you?
Your dog loves you.
And you know what?
Your dog’s love is more constant and more sincere than the love that most people you know have for you.
Your dog is always glad to see you when you come home.
And does not tell you that the laundry must be done.
Or the garbage must be taken out.
That dog loves you.
That dog does not love you in the way that you love.
That dog’s love is not predicated on freedom - whereas yours is.
The marriage vows that you took, were for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.
Where does the love come in?
Does it come in the better or the worse?
In the richer or the poorer?
In the sickness or in the health?
When you keep vigil at the sick bed of someone you love, you ask:
"Why am I doing this?"
Well, for love.
When you endure sorrow and suffering, the love that you offer is all the more bright for the darkness that surrounds it.
You know that.
So, God has given us freedom --- in order that we might love.
Now... are you listening?
This is a very un-understandable part of what I want to say this morning.
If Jesus is not the Son, the very Heart of God...
If Jesus is not the visible image of the invisible God.
If Jesus is not God's love made Flesh...
Then God is, in fact, a savage.
He is cruel beyond imagining.
It’s very quiet in here, isn't it?
Let me say that again...
If Jesus is not God’s love in the Flesh...
If God did not become man...
Then God is a savage as some people think He is.
If God had given us freedom.......
And then stood aloof from us...
And watched from heaven...
As some little boy standing over an ant hill with a magnifying glass.
You see --- Calvin and Luther, as I said, did not believe in freedom.
They believed, as do the Muslims, in complete predestination.
That God had created some people to show His love.
Us --- depending on who "us" is.
And He has created some people to show His justice.
Them --- whoever you want "them" to be.
Now Hitler and Stalin designated certain groups of people to suffer for a while in order to exterminate them.
But --- if Calvin and Luther and Mohammed were right...
Then God has created a group of people to suffer infinitely and eternally.
He makes Hitler look like a Boy Scout.
If God stands aloof from our suffering --- then God is truly a savage.
But God so loved the world, that He sent His only Son.
You know --- another fellow, who is also a Jew, fell madly in love with a young girl who was both Greek Orthodox and Charismatic.
I mean Greek Orthodox and Charismatic ! ! !
This was a convinced Christian.
But, as often happens, you fall in love with someone before you realize it’s a very bad idea.
Well, they came to see me.
And he was grieved because...
Had they children, though those children might be able to become Jewish through conversion; he could not pass down his name to them.
He was a Levite.
You see, Levites and priests, still have identities among Jews.
And they have special roles in certain services.
But because his children would be converted to Judaism, their mother, being a Gentile, he could not pass down his Levitical inheritance.
And I thought about it.
And I thought "You know you do things for people you love."
And in a sense, for love --- you part with your own inheritance.
And I said:
"Think about Abraham."
God asked that Abraham sacrifice his son --- for love.
And you know when you think about it, we Christians believe, I told this young man, that the sacrifice of Isaac and Abraham was not canceled.
We read the bible, and we think that God withheld the hand of Abraham permanently.
But He didn't.
Because you see, Jesus, if we are correct, was Son of God --- and son of Abraham.
Because --- you’re Jewish if your mother is Jewish.
And so because Mary was the daughter of Abraham...
Jesus was a son of Abraham.
It's as if God withheld Abraham’s hand, and said:
"Wait! Wait! We will do this together."
"You, Abraham, and I will sacrifice our Son."
That’s what I mean, when I say, if Jesus is not the very Heart of God...
God’s love in the flesh...
Then God stands aloof from the suffering of humanity.
But God does not stand aloof..
He enters into the heart of our sorrow.
And He subjects Himself to the evil which freedom perpetrates.
And He who is all powerful on the cross, becomes powerless.
And He is at the center, not only as God, but as Man.
He is the victim of the freedom He gave us.
500 years before His birth, the prophet Isaiah said to King Hezekiah:
"Behold! A virgin shall conceive, and you shall call His name Emmanuel - God is with us."
God is not the God that those who think of Him as arbitrary and aloof.
He is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who accompanies us in every sorrow.
Sorrow and suffering being the price of love.
And because His sorrow and our sorrow are not separate...
Every tear is counted...
Every sorrow has meaning...
Every pain is dear to the heart of God...
His eye is on the sparrow.
And He watches you.
He is not distant from your sorrow.
But as you weep, He weeps.
And as you love, He loves.
God with us. Now...
He died --- He rose from the dead.
And He stood on the Mount of Olives, looking over his beloved city, Jerusalem, torn then, as now, with strife and war.
And He looked at his disciples and said:
"Behold, I am with you. All days --- until the end of the world."
And just as I believe that had God NOT descended to Earth...
To share our sorrows as the Person of Jesus of Nazareth...
I too believe, that if God were not present in each tabernacle, in the form of bread and wine...
Then Christ Jesus would have been a liar as He ascended to the Father.
He said: "I am with you all days."
And when He changed bread and wine into His body and blood, His humanity, His divinity, His real Presence....
He fulfilled His promise.
And He waits for you in every tabernacle.
And at every Sacrifice of the Mass, you join your sorrows to His, your weakness to His weakness, and His triumph will be yours.
It is the Sacrifice of the Mass --- that’s at this place, this morning, that you tie the sorrows of your heart to His heart.
And taking His flesh and blood into yourself, in the form of bread and wine, you become who He is.
And His sorrow and His joy --- become your sorrow and your joy.
Your sorrows become His --- inseparably and eternally.
God made two promises that we celebrate today on this feast of Corpus Christi:
He said the virgin shall conceive and be with child...
And you shall call his name Emmanuel --- God Is With Us!
And on the day of His Ascension, he fulfilled that promise and made it eternal...
Saying "Behold, it is I, Emmanuel. I am with you --- all days."
God is not arbitrary.
He is not cruel.
He embraces you in your sorrow and lifts you to His throne.
In the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit.