Monday, December 22, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
-Psalm 19: 7-8
Friday, December 12, 2008
Monday: Clean upstairs bathroom, Vacuum living and dining room, sweep kitchen and foyer.
--1st Monday of every month: scrub tub
Tuesday: Vacuum stairs and hallway, Dust downstairs, wipe down coffee tables, etc.
--2nd Tuesday: vacuum furniture
Wednesday: The kitchen wipe down: Sink, counters, dish drainer, stove, fridge, microwave (inside and out)
--3rd Wednesday: clean out inside of fridge
Thursday: Sweep and mop kitchen, foyer, and bathroom. Empty bathroom and laundry trash.
--4th Thursday: dust blinds and baseboards
Friday: Pick up bedrooms, change sheets
--1st Friday: organize closet clutter, sort kids clothes
Saturday: File papers,bills, bag recycling, clean kitchen trash can
That's it. (Not including daily tasks like washing dishes and my favorite cleaning method derived from a magazine somewhere, picking up with a laundry basket--one or two rooms at a time, put everything that's out of place and walk through the house putting them back where they belong)
Next up: figuring out how to schedule some structure in my spiritual life, because with two kids, waiting for some free time to pop up just doesn't cut in anymore. Actually, it probably never did.
Monday, December 8, 2008
- The prayers were stunning in their portrayal of God's holiness and the egregiousness of our sin (an English translation was provided) - definitely not of the 'Jesus is my best buddy' variety
- There was a line for confession during Mass. I think the priest stopped hearing confessions right before the Eucharist
- We received the Eucharist on the tongue while kneeling
- Almost all the women wore chapel veils
- No 'passing of the peace'
- Choir was men only
- Less music
- Less scripture read
-Fred Rogers, 1928-2003, beloved star of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
I think it's due to the fact that I'm starting to feel like my little family of four really counts. We can have conversations with booga bear and he is growing into his role as the big brother. I'm feeling fully invested in raising a family; with one kid I had moments when I felt I was only playing house, but with two kids that is no longer the case. (Now I feel like I'm only playing at having a life outside of raising a family).
This Thanksgiving will be our first holiday in our first house. We're planning on going to Mass, I think I'll take booga bear to the park no matter the weather, make some videos of our four month old, we'll probably use skype to talk with family.The meal is going to be simple and I'm not sure if the turkey will be thawed enough to cook, but I have a lot to look forward to. All in all, four is feeling like a pretty sweet number for the day.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Obama is an ardent abortion rights activist, having a sterling 100% rating from Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-choice America. He has promised to remove ALL restrictions that interfere with a woman's access to abortion, saying "The first thing I'd do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. That's the first thing that I'd do." The usual argument I hear justifying voting for Obama despite his vigorous pro-abortion stance goes something like "Obama, overall, will work for a more just society than McCain, so I feel morally obligated to vote for him"
To this I say "What?" Basically, the premise behind this stance is simple: the murder of over one million innocent human beings in the US annually is not enough of an issue to vote against. I wonder--if infanticide were legal in this country and Obama was promising that the first act of his presidency would be to promote infanticide by removing all bothersome restrictions on it and by providing federal funding for parents to kill their children, would people have trouble deciding if they should vote for him or not? To the folks who would answer no, of course not, then the question that begs to be asked is: Do you really think abortion is evil?
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
And then you go home and things aren't so simple anymore. The rest of the world often seems to have the opposite expectation of mothers, telling them that just being a mom is a vacant way of life. (Frequently, the ones who disagree are mothers themselves.)
I feel like it's entirely appropriate to say that my children are my biggest accomplishments in life, and that's not because there's an absence of other things, it's because there's nothing else I could do that is so far-reaching as bringing another human being into the world. When I think of the things I could have chosen instead of having kids, the scope of potential accomplishments is so limited. Maybe I could have been wealthier and more accomplished, but would anyone else's life been impacted? By having my kids, my husband has become a father, my parents and his parents have become grandparents, my brother has become an uncle, my friends have become special in the eyes of a certain small person. There's a sweet little boy in existence (and now a newborn red head) whose attention is coveted by them--I can physically see how happy they make them, and I know how happy I am. I'm pretty sure that the lives of quite a few people are richer simply because they know my first son, and I know it will be the same as our new baby grows and ventures into the world.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
We seem to have already nicknamed him 'cuddle cub' (it matches with big brother 'booga bear'), and everything is going better than I expected.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Monday, July 7, 2008
Thursday, July 3, 2008
-Fulton J. Sheen, "Guide to Contentment"
Monday, June 30, 2008
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
There have been so many times since my husband and I have been married that I have been convinced the way he wanted to go about accomplishing a specific task or goal was wrong and would turn out disastrously. But then I've "let" him have his way, and what do you know, everything works out just fine. It's actually a bit reassuring to know that I don't have to have the world figured out, that it' s not solely up to me to master the art of getting things done well.
It's hard to be gracious in those situations when I'm sure I know what is best, especially when my husband's method entails doing something I really, really don't want to do. It helps to remind myself that when I said 'I do', I let go of much of my independence. A good thing, too, because being independent just doesn't work very well in marriage. Two people cannot go about building a common life independently-- there has to be give and take, there has to be compromise, and hopefully understanding. I think my idea of 'compromise' before marriage was finding middle ground. But often, there is no middle ground to be found, things have to get done one way or the other way with no mixing of the two. But, like I said: I am right far less than I think I am. Choosing to do things his way is not a watering down of my rightness with his wrongness, because, I repeat: I am right far less than I think I am.
Monday, June 16, 2008
GG:What is sin?
OBAMA:Being out of alignment with my values.
-Barack Obama, from 2004 interview by Cathleen Falsani "God Girl" (GG), then-religion reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times
(via Food Fight in the Cafeteria (or is it the Cafeteria is Closed?)
Saturday, June 14, 2008
- Developmental/reproductive toxicity
- Violations, Restrictions & Warnings
- Contamination concerns
After reading the ingredients list of my 'hair & body baby wash' I happened to notice the manufacturer's own safety tip: Keep this product out of the reach of children.
I think I might actually follow through with that one.
Monday, June 9, 2008
Saturday, June 7, 2008
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
I don't believe this aspect of my 'hard wiring' has completely changed since I became Catholic, but rather it has been superseded by something greater. Now, I am much more overwhelmed by God's presence when I'm sitting in front of him in the blessed sacrament than when I'm sitting outside enjoying a sunset. I think this is as it should be for any Catholic; Jesus didn't leave earth saying 'here, I give you this mountain range to look upon and ponder me', instead he left us his actual presence by giving us the Eucharist. How lost the disciples must have felt when Jesus ascended into heaven, but how comforting those first Eucharistic meals must have been. What a gift to physically be with Christ in the event of the Eucharist. And for me today, though I'm still working on learning the doctrinal development of adoration, I've experienced this truth: what a gift it is to sit with Christ in Eucharistic adoration.
Monday, June 2, 2008
-J.R.R. Tolkien, English writer, professor 1892-1973
Saturday, May 31, 2008
So I've really been enjoying Mass because I'm able to focus. Then I realized yesterday that soon I'm going to have a newborn to take to Mass, and things probably won't be so peaceful anymore. I'm thinking I might try a different approach to parenting though. With big bear, we really trained him to sleep in the bassinet and then his crib. By the time he was 8 weeks old, he was falling asleep on his own very easily in his crib. But, this meant that he didn't like to sleep outside of his crib. We were always trying to figure out which Mass would work best for him by scheduling around his naps and feeding, but it seemed like Mass was always during nap time, and I couldn't just hold him and let him fall asleep, because he wouldn't fall asleep. This juggling, of course, applied to all outings; trips to grandma's house, going out to eat, etc.
I'm thinking of doing more attachment parenting this time around-carrying new little brother around in a sling more often for naps and letting him nurse to sleep. With big bear, we followed the Baby Whisperer's advice and woke him when he fell asleep nursing, supposedly forcing him to learn to fall asleep on his own at a young age. It actually worked, BUT it meant that for the first two months or so of big bear's life, I often found myself patting his back for 25 minutes or so while he screamed in his bassinet, eventually quieting down and falling asleep. I don't even know if I could do that now that I have a toddler to keep tabs on as well! I probably won't be able to, but I'm a little apprehensive to deviate from what we did before, because, as my husband is always pointing out, for the most part big bear has always been a great sleeper after his initial 'induction phase' of Baby Whisperer parenting. As long as he was at home, in his crib, that is. I just think I might want some more flexibility this time around.
So parents, I realize this question of baby-on-a-schedule or not is probably pretty talked out, but what do you think? Does it matter in the long run whether or not you 'train' a newborn to fall asleep on their own? Did I completely waste my time?
Friday, May 23, 2008
Mostly, I just don't feel right unless I'm doing something practical. Yesterday I went to the bookstore to hang out and read, but I couldn't concentrate on anything. Everything I picked up seemed like gibberish, and I wondered, is this what it feels like to be stupid? Right there in the middle of Barnes & Noble, I started to feel genuinely sorry for people who don't read well. Even magazines couldn't hold my interest; I flipped through an interior design magazine but became immensely annoyed with the enlarged quotes, "James and Evelyn tore down their 60's tract house and replaced it with this bold, modern structure" Lovely for you, J & E, but tell me, what is the point of your superficial life? I found washing the dishes tonight to be very satisfying, and I'm actually kind of looking forward to vacuuming out my car this week. I remember wanting to tackle all sorts of household chores towards the end of my pregnancy with booga-bear, but this feels more extreme, this is me ready for motherhood on steroids. Or something like that.
I started to look up pregnancy hormone levels out of curiosity, and then thought, what a waste of time-I don't need any graphs to show me that I'm off-the-charts hormonal right now, I'm already fully aware of the fact. Plus, numbers and I have never been the best of friends and certainly are not now. So, little man hitching a ride inside, I'm fully looking forward to the tapering off of whatever wild cocktail you have caused to circulate in my blood and would appreciate your timely arrival. I miss myself.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
I'm not sure how he has made these connections- the Gloria has the word Jesus in it, but it doesn't seem it would be entirely obvious to a toddler that the song is about Jesus. I think the cross on the roof caught his attention at the church, and since he has exposure to crucifixes, that makes a little more sense to me, but still...I'm impressed. I've often wondered when the spiritual training of a child really starts, but I guess it already has. Apparently the concept of Jesus is already beginning to soak in, which is a blessing.
Monday, May 12, 2008
Thursday, May 8, 2008
There have been several times over the last year or so that I have wanted to go to confession multiple times in a row, but I've had a niggling feeling that I shouldn't. That if I go, I'll be wasting the priest's time by confessing just one or two major sins of the week, or that it's proof I'm too hung up on guilt. Moreover, it's embarrassing to show up two weekends in a row! Or even worse, to call and make an appointment for confession -I've not worked up the nerve to do this yet. I've found that after I go to confession, during the following week I will commit a sin serious enough to make me want to go running back to the confessional the next weekend, but I hang back because I just went. I don't want to admit to myself or anyone that I might need to go to confession every week. Now that I'm a person who is required to go to confession, it's Really, Really Annoying to not be able to grow up spiritually as I desire and stop sinning. Popping into the confessional and saying "guilty!" is no fun.
Sorrow over my sin, at least regular sorrow, feels like a new element in my life, but I don't know exactly what to do with it. Forgive yourself! Move on! seems to be a popular attitude, but the problem is that I sin again, and am back to where I started almost instantly. There are so many virtues I'd love to have, and have constantly, but they always seem to be slipping through my fingers whenever I manage to get a hold of one for an instant. Unfortunately, as a human I am destined to forever sin, and thus it also seems a realistic expectation to constantly be in a state of anguish over my sinfulness. I'm not sure I'm okay with this.
I've been trying to read more about the saints lately, and some of their acts of penance are quite disturbing; many inflicted much hardship on their bodies. My husband mentioned the other day that St. Birgitta of Sweden was known to have dropped hot wax from candles onto herself so that she always bore scars on her body. I cringed and said "why would someone do something like that? It seems so pointless!" He responded that Peter Kreeft says we shouldn't be appalled at the sorrow of saints over their sin, but rather we should be appalled at how lightly we take God's forgiveness (wish I had a citation for this). And I'm still a bit disturbed, but that statement shed a lot of light for me. If I don't disdain my sin, the very acts that separate me from God, then how can I claim to love him with all my heart? I may have confidence that the eternal consequence of my sin, hell, has been lifted from me, but I still have to suffer the immediate consequence; a damaged relationship with God. More and more, I do not want a damaged relationship with God.
So I guess it's okay to mourn the losses in my relationship with God by 'wallowing' a bit in anguish over my sin, because really, what I want most in life, or what I aspire to want most in life, is fellowship with God. If the saints felt the need to self-impose suffering on themselves with the same idea, okay then. I think I'm starting to understand--separation from God is a sorrowful thing. And really, I shouldn't be ashamed to admit this by being a regular at confession. Or by doing the dreaded deed, calling and making an appointment. Not fun, but appropriate.
Monday, May 5, 2008
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Excerpts from a recent NY Times article, Indian Prime Minister Denounces Abortion of Females, my own thoughts follow;
"In his first speech on the subject, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh highlighted an “alarming” decline in the number of girls for every 1,000 boys in India, slipping to 927 in 2001 from 962 in 1981, according to the latest census figures. “This indicates that growing economic prosperity and education levels have not led to a corresponding mitigation in this acute problem,” he said.
“No nation, no society, no community can hold its head high and claim to be part of the civilized world if it condones the practice of discriminating against one half of humanity represented by women,” Mr. Singh said, giving an inaugural speech at a national conference dedicating to “saving the girl child,” which brought together politicians, doctors and advocates."
"Over past three decades, the increasing availability of ultrasound equipment has assisted India’s cultural preference for sons and distorted the sex ratio across the nation. As the equipment has become more affordable, special ultrasound clinics have opened even in the most impoverished parts of the country."I found this article thought-provoking. Without knowing Singh's views on abortion as a whole, I found his denunciation of the practice of aborting females interesting because there is no claim that abortion itself is wrong, only that it is wrong to discriminate between the sexes. Abortion really isn't the main issue, it's discrimination against females. The article goes on to explain that girls are often seen as a liability because when they are married, the groom is entitled to a large dowry. Also, men tend to be the ones who take care of their parents in old age.
I can see how an issue like this could put a pro-choicer in a moral quandary, especially if they have strong feminist ideology. I'm sure if I were of the feminist pro-choice mindset I would see sex-selection by parents as reprehensible, a case of patriarchal society at its worst. But if I truly believed that abortion is always a personal decision every woman should be allowed to make on a case by case basis, then why shouldn't every woman be able to decide whether or not she can afford to raise a daughter? What if she really wants a child, but knows that she will never be able to scrape together a dowry? How is this really any different from any woman deciding she can't undertake the 'burden' of raising a child, regardless of gender, because of the financial stress it would entail. Certainly countries should not pass laws banning abortions done to avoid economic distress, to do so would be an invasion of privacy. (75% of women who obtain abortions cite financial inability to care for the child as one reason).
There are so many parallels that can be drawn from this issue of discriminating against a certain type of human. 90% of the unborn diagnosed with down-syndrome are aborted in the US. This must be a sickening fact to those living with down-syndrome and to the families and friends of those with down-syndrome. I don't think it would be incredible to demand that laws be passed against discrimination towards the unborn diagnosed with genetic abnormalities or other disabilities. But to a pro-choice person, it all comes down to a personal decision that no one else has the right to intrude upon. Lovely.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
I think it's safe to say that the witness of Christian saints is unparalleled among other religions. They have saints as well and certainly people who do not know Christ have done saintly things with their lives, but not quite on the same scale. Because the saints' lives are so unique, they present questions to non-believers and believers alike. How could someone live such a life joyfully? By what power did miracles happen? Why would they choose the life they did? Either they were liars, merely deluded, grossly misrepresented by history, or they were on to something real. The saints are one more layer of evidence that confronts the world. Because faith doesn't exist in a vacuum, belief is really only belief when it results in action, and that's what the saints represent: follow-through. They illustrate what can result out of loving Christ. Ideally, every Christian has this element of visible faith, but c'mon, we're not all going to be canonized.
And, just for fun, some of the stories I've come across and would like to remember:
Saint Lawrence: A deacon in Rome, who, when required to turn over the wealth of the Church to Rome within three days, quickly gave away as much as possible, and then rounded up the poor, weak, and suffering and presented them to the prefect as the true treasure of the Church. Grilled to death in 258, reportedly crying out "I am already roasted on one side and, if thou wouldst have me well cooked, it is time to turn me on the other."
Saint Jean Vianney: Priest, lived a life of charity and mortification; allowing himself 2-4 hours of sleep a night and very little food, for the last 10 years of his life he spent up to 18 hours a day hearing confessions. Died in 1859, exhumed in 1905 and body found to be incorrupt, still on display in the Basilica at Ars (France).
Saint Catherine Anne Emmerich: Augustinian nun, often lived in the supernatural realm, experiencing ecstasies and visions throughout her life. Received the stigmata from 1813-1818.
Monday, April 28, 2008
Thursday, April 24, 2008
I think this list helps to illustrate that it does matter whether you or I vote pro-life. Other opinions aside, you have to hand it to President Bush for repeatedly staking out a strong moral position for the sanctity of life and against abortion throughout his presidency. Perhaps this type of legislation is under rated because often the people who benefit the most are too small to be interviewed, but I am grateful for the impacts of actively respecting the sanctity of all human life because I believe this has to be a good thing for all of society.
Since taking office in January 2001, President George W. Bush:
January 2001, Reinstated Mexico City Policy, limiting funding to international NGO's that support or perform abortions
April 2001, Applied Hyde funding restriction to RU-486 (abortion pill), limiting federal funding of medical abortions
May 2001, Appointed pro-life diplomat John Klink to State Department
August 2001, Limited federal funding of stem cell research to existing lines (about 60)
November, 2001 Opposed human cloning
November 2003, Signed Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act, ending gruesome practice of partially delivering fetus, crushing its skull and vacuuming out brain. Ban was upheld by Supreme Court in April 2007
April 2004, Signed Unborn Victims of Violence into law (rules that when a pregnant woman is attacked and her unborn child is injured, perpetrator may be charged as harming 2 victims)
March 2005, Endorsed UN vote to urge the end of human cloning
September 2005, Appointed John G. Roberts (conservative) as Chief Justice US Supreme Court, replacing conservative William Rehnquist
January 2006, Appointed Samuel Alito as US Supreme Court Justice, filling position vacated by leftist Sandra Day O'Connor and tipping the courts' balance to conservative
September 2006, Vetoed embryonic stem cell bill, limiting federal funding on research with stem cells
May 2007, Vowed to veto any legislation that weakens federal policy abortion restrictions
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Monday, April 21, 2008
Saturday, April 19, 2008
I went to pray in the chapel at church yesterday, and there was a wedding rehearsal going on in the sanctuary. The musicians were belting out Mendelssohn's Wedding March, complete with trumpets and organ (that's the one they always use on TV for the recessional). It all seemed very grand and stately and made me think that when Christ returns, there will be some loud music, there just has to be. How could he come back quietly? How could he be received quietly? The Pope is but a shadow of Christ, but I get the noise of the crowds, the willingness of people to travel long distances just to see the Pope. He's a connection to Christ that can be visibly seen, and it's natural to want to make some noise, have a celebration over this link to heaven. As people would cheer for Jesus--although I'm not sure that's the right word--they cheer for the Pope.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Homily, Holy Mass (Washington Nationals Stadium, 4-17-2008)
Address, Celebration of Vespers (National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, 4-16-2008)
Address, Welcoming Ceremony (South Lawn of the White House, 4-16-2008)
Monday, April 14, 2008
But there is something about participating weekly in Christ's sacrifice that keeps the central act Christ has done for us close to the heart, and I think living Liturgical Time has the same effect. We are reminded of all Christ has done..."the kingdom of God enters into our time." (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1168). I have found that as a Catholic, I feel more joyful on Easter Sunday because I have spent Lent in mourning. There has been physical solemness in my life as I have tried to be more spiritually disciplined, penitential, and focused on imitating Christ's total surrender long ago. Reliving the way things were facilitates a true celebration of the way things are when Easter finally comes. Furthermore, I am enabled to celebrate an entire Easter season rather than one single day because I find I enjoy the fruits of my Lenten penance especially during Easter season since they are so fresh. I have grown closer to God, and have more reason to actually be able to think of myself as living an Easter season.
In addition, Liturgical time mirrors reality, anticipating the future as well as looking to the past. By living a well-rounded year of spiritual seasons, we are reminded that the nature of life is always thus--full of ups and downs. For each individual, the final chapters of our own salvation stories have not been written. Who knows what the future holds for each of us--while we can have confidence that we will be with Christ and his Church victorious in heaven when we die, we have no way of knowing what pain and trials we will have to endure in order to get there. We are told to be imitators of Christ, granted on a mini-scale since we are not offering life to others from within us. But we are all called to take up our cross, the die to ourselves, and ultimately to physically die and rise again in Christ. There is no comfort zone we can relax in as Christians, expecting to have an easy life of happy blessings continuously raining down from heaven --our life is simply not our own. Liturgical time helps keep the tendency to believe this isn't so at bay, just because each month is not our own. We are following the Church calendar, and when it says to fast, we fast, despite any inconvenience that may come from conflicts with our personal life (within reason).
I was reading about the Liturgy of the Hours in the Catechism, and came across this passage describing its purpose, which I think also applies to the Liturgical Calendar, "This celebration, faithful to the apostolic exhortations to "pray constantly," is "so devised that the whole course of the day and night is made holy by the praise of God." (CCC 1174). We have a Catholic calendar on the wall next to the computer, and I am often struck by how different it feels to have a calendar full of religious dates, and to pencil in Holy Days of obligation on our other calendar. It's still very novel to me, religious time overlapping with dentist appointments and play dates. It's a really good thing, this mingling of holy time with the everyday. I'm glad I discovered it.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Agnus Dei, qui tolis peccata mundi,
(Ahn-yoos Deh-ee, kw-ee tolis pec-cah-ta mun-dee)
miserere nobis. (2x)
(mis-eh-ray-reh naw-biss*rhymes w/hiss)
Agnus Dei, qui tolis peccata mundi,
(Ahn-yoos Deh-ee, kw-ee tolis pec-cah-ta mun-dee)
dona nobis pacem.
(dough-na naw-biss paa-kem)
(Lamb of God, who take away sins of world,
have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, who take away sins of world,
grant us peace.)
(From my reading of the pronunciation guide in A Primer of Ecclesiastical Latin, John F. Collins, 1988 The Catholic University of America Press)
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Sometimes I wonder if I'm praying wrong, akin to my son's feeble attempts to master sweeping. Of course, he can't handle the big, adult sized broom, and only manages to aimlessly swipe the floor every so often. That's how I feel sometimes, that I haven't figured out how to use the tool of prayer very well. It's made for a purpose and can bring about miracles, but something seems wrong when what I'm praying against happens over and over and over.
Last week I was standing outside the clinic feeling rather powerless, my anger over the situation coming to a head. I asked God why it is so difficult and rare for his kingdom to triumph on earth, at least in front of my eyes, and I started to think how limited my vision is. It struck me that I may never physically see the result of my prayers for others, but that doesn't render them ineffective. I can't know what sort of spiritual dynamic may be changing in the lives of the men and women who enter the clinic because people like myself are standing in prayer for them. They may go through with the abortion, but their hearts may be changed in some small or large way because we have asked it to be so. I felt encouraged to pray that God would raise up people from the staff and clients to speak out against abortion, if not today, then someday.
Hope is something no Christian should be in short supply of. Hope and the lack of hope is one of the main differences between the lives of believers and non-believers. Jesus is hope, the message of the gospel writers is one of hope, of pressing on towards the end goal of eternity with the creator. Without God, the best advice on life goes something like...deal with it, and always look out for number one. But oh how things change with faith in a merciful God. I have a friend facing a difficult situation who wrote in an email, "How tragic if I, an ambassador of the King of Life, a vessel of His hope, were to give up and let go of my hope so easily." She's right. I'm outside the clinic once a week asking people to take a chance on hope, to do something they have deemed much too difficult, to bear a child. It is tragic if I give in to the same despair and lack of hope--I know that God is GOD. He's always doing something, even if I am blind to it.
Saturday, April 5, 2008
It seems that people assign value to others by quantifying that individuals' level of output. Doctor? Saves lives=valuable. Plumber? Fixes pipes=average. Elderly lady next door? Watches a lot of QVC and goes for a walk twice a week=insignificant. I've been reading quite a bit about the loss of recess time in US schools because a lot of parents (and administrators) seem obsessed with giving their kids as much structured academic time as possible in order to ensure their child's future success. 90% of fetuses diagnosed with down syndrome are aborted- I would presume largely because people are afraid of the things these children would not be able to do.
Full time motherhood certainly slows down output, unless we're talking the number of lunches made, clothes washed, and books read. So many times throughout the day, my son interrupts my plans. He points out his stuffy nose that needs to be wiped yet again, he brings me his shoe that has fallen off, it's time for him to sit on the potty just as I'm sitting down to dinner. It goes on all day. And it's not miserable, but it is an adjustment of expectations. I'm happy to do a lot of it, but it's not remarkable what I do with my time. Beyond the health of my child and I and the bond we share, there's not a lot of "achievement" going on in my house.
I've written before about how I've spend a lot of time worrying that my life didn't have enough purpose. I always equated purpose with meaningful activity, and maybe for others what matters is their bank account's accrual from each month's paycheck, or how many days off they have to travel. But motherhood has taught me that it's okay to slow down, or at least to slow down my expectations of what I should be accomplishing with my life. (Because as any parent knows, kids do not bring about the life of leisure). I can just live and be myself and take care of my family, and God is not any less happy with me than if I were deeply involved in some grandiose cause. Although it can be hard to separate the two, my value does not come from what I do or achieve in life. If God had set up things that way, then people disabled in any way would be worth so much less than the ones who have nothing to overcome. So for now, I'm just going to keep working on being. There's a lot to learn.
Monday, March 31, 2008
-Dave Eggers, What is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng (2007 Vintage Books, p.353)
Thursday, March 27, 2008
"...consider that the placement of fetal brain tissue into the brain of a sufferer from Parkinson's disease is not simply a matter of sticking a needle into the skull of the patient and injecting the cells. First patients suitable for the technique must be screened (the doctors, nurses, and laboratory technicians necessary for this phase of the operation are all well paid). The abortions must then be performed (five for each patient awaiting the transplant), and of course the abortion doctors, and clinic and hospital personnel are compensated for their services. The tissue must then be immediately iced by a technician standing right at the abortion table (also paid), and then the tissue must be transported to a suitable laboratory where another technician will examine all the fetal tissue under a microscope and winnow out the fetal neurons (nerve cells) appropriate for transplant (that technician is especially well paid since this is critical tedious work). The tissue is then processed and prepared for the actual transplant (another costly operation). Meanwhile the patient is also being prepared for the transplant by the doctors, nurses, nurse's aides, housekeeping personnel, social workers, and counselors to the patient and the family"...and on and on it goes.
Bottom line: there is a lot of money to be made by using fetal cells for research and treatment. New industries would spring up to accommodate demand, and certainly not out of pure altruism. Just food for thought.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
To illustrate my point, my husband and I got out of town for a short overnight trip recently, and as soon as I woke up in the hotel the next day, I was ready to get home to my baby (who is not so much of a baby anymore). I was irked that my husband wanted to sleep in and watch tv until check-out, which I thought was a complete waste of time when we could be reducing the number of hours standing between being reunited with our son. There's no one else and no thing that I am so attached to. I always miss my husband when one of us travels, but I can't say I'm absolutely dying to see him after a mere 24 hour absence (sorry, honey). But with my son, I just can't stop mothering him when someone else takes over caring for him.
I don't know why, but every time Spring rolls around, I always get the urge to go shopping. Every Spring, I look in my closet and see nothing but shabby clothes--it's rather remarkable how this can happen every year. (I like to tell my husband that I really don't have much to wear because I'm just not much of a shopper, and that it's high time I actually go shopping, but he never, ever believes me.) This spring is proving to be a particularly lean shopping season because of finances, and...I've been feeling sort of, well, cheated. Out of the fulfillment of my feminine desire to know I look pretty, or something like that. So, it's been good to count my blessings elsewhere, and to count them where they really count. After all, I may not have trendy earrings, but I do have a cherub of a child sleeping in the other room, and I get to spend all day with him tomorrow.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Thursday, March 20, 2008
It takes about 5-10 days for a future embryo to implant in the uterus (it's not called an embryo until it implants), and I've always pictured this phase as a lone cell floating down the fallopian tube, just vegetating waiting to implant, so I was surprised to find out that as soon as conception happens, a zygote's cells begin dividing and arranging appropriately. All the while the zygote is traveling towards the uterus, this new human is growing. Once a new human is put into motion, it's all about the business of growing--there is no hanging around idly waiting to find out whether or not it can really get the show on the road, so to speak, depending on its ability to burrow into the womb for nourishment. Growth is already happening.
It's always hard for people to understand others who are not like themselves; people of different religion, race, even gender, are puzzling, and understanding the significance of a zygote or an embryo is no exception. It's especially hard to accept something that doesn't look like us as one of us. But as Pope Paul IV said, "how could a human individual not be a human person?".* From conception, a zygote is human, there is no other species it can be assigned to. Some would argue that while it is human, it is not a person and therefore is expendable, but there is no wisdom in this. There is no biological benchmark for a tiny human that clearly proclaims 'okay, NOW I'm fully a person and have rights'. All the benchmarks people have tried to come to consensus over as to when a human being constitutes a human person that should not be killed--end of the first trimester, viability, etc.--are arbitrary. It's like trying to tack up our own blueprint of development over the one God created in the beginning. We can't figure out the mind of God. We can't. But we can know that from the beginning, God has a plan for every life, and to intentionally disregard the sacredness of his plan is a grave moral error.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
The video was made by referring to Randy Alcorn's extensive research, "Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions?" found at epm.org (use the search button, I can't link to the article itself)
Monday, March 17, 2008
-Edith Stein (Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross) 1891-1942, Scholar, teacher, Jewish convert, Carmelite nun, victim of the Holocaust
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Monday, March 10, 2008
Saturday, March 8, 2008
I read in CS Lewis' The Problem of Pain, "Christ takes it for granted that men are bad. Until we really feel this assumption of His to be true, though we are part of the world He came to save, we are not part of the audience to whom His words are addressed." At this point, God will have no trouble convincing me that humanity is inherently sinful. I do read the newspaper, I do live in the world, I do sin more than I wish. Oh sure, I can play my little game of impressing myself with how short my current list of sins is, but it never lasts--I always go out and do something really stupid and wrong, or I don't do anything when I should do something holy and good. And my oh-so charitable attitude to the perpetrators of the world's ills is often to want to slap people upside the head with the Bible and yell something like "you blind idiot! Can't you see the havoc your sin is causing?!"
Friday, March 7, 2008
Monday, March 3, 2008
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Okay now, I never shared a room as a child, but I do remember becoming giddy over the prospect of Friday-night sleepovers, in part because there would be someone else sleeping in my room. Really--is it so bad for kids to share a room? What exactly are parents thinking their children will gain by having their own room? Better social skills? A willingness to share and compromise? Or maybe it's just that parents have something to gain by giving each child their own room. I googled some statistics and found that the average new house size in 1950 was 980 square feet. In 1970, 1,500 square feet, in 2004, 2,349. I also found an interesting quote in the same article "I always wanted a house big enough that my kids could be in their room screaming, and my wife could be in a room screaming, and I could be somewhere else and not hear any of them," he says. "And I think I have accomplished this with this house, because this house is so big that everyone has their own space."
Wow. So this guy is happy that his family is unhappy and he doesn't have to deal with it because everyone is shut away in their own space. I don't exactly know what to say to that. Sounds like a great sad life to me. So, people who shared rooms as a child or currently have kids sharing rooms, spill it. Am I missing something?
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
He stayed under the umbrella for awhile, and we walked very slowly around our apt. building as I tried to keep the umbrella over us without stepping on him. Eventually he ventured out a little and got his coat dripping wet, and then he saw our neighbor's cat and he took off like a shot at a speed that surprised me--this is a kid who very rarely runs. He ran down a steep embankment that he usually navigates very cautiously in pursuit of the cat. I ran after his little splashing feet, not wanting him to get completely soaked, and noticed that his too-long pant legs had wicked the rain nearly to his knees. The cat of course was too smart to wait around for us, but we had to look for her in all the likely places booga bear could think of.
All this was surprisingly enjoyable; it's fun to watch my son get so excited over something as simple as a cat in the rain. I've noticed since I became a parent that the little things in life take on an added luster when you get to watch your child navigate parts of the world that are new to them. Things like going to the zoo, or sharing a free cookie from the grocery store bakery, or reading Dr. Suess . It's hard to find another adult who will stand around and admire the rain with me, but booga bear always will, and it's nice to spend time with someone who genuinely looks forward to the small pleasure of life like rain and cats.
Monday, February 18, 2008
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
You see this repeatedly in society, from people who decide the world would be better off without the hope of God and religion, to people who would prefer the universal embrace of homosexuality, to people who trust there is no pain in abortion so great it could negate its usefulness. Lack of vision, lack of imagination--human beings can be terrible at understanding consequences when they are not completely obvious. If we don't experience a smiting by God, we all have the capability to believe that an evil act isn't really very evil, or is even good. I believe that were many people to just take a few small steps towards what I will term 'the mystical', or the realm of things that go unseen with physical sight, the world would be startled at the reality of God.
I'd like to hope this burden of not knowing what is right in the face of the unknown falls mostly on the shoulders of secular, and particularly non-Christian, persons rather than Christians. Christians have a perfect moral law passed on to us by God through the Jews and Christ himself, and it was exemplified without a flaw in the person of Jesus. No other religion in the world can claim that its founder was a perfect leader, because no other religion in the world has God as its founder. And that's why we need him so, because only God has ordered the universe. Only his laws work. We can't evade him by coming up with our own individual moral codes-- they fail since they are not based on reality, which would be what God set up when he created the earth. Without Christ, we are all so lost in the quagmire of figuring out morality, and we are bound to call evil good.
Monday, February 11, 2008
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Although I was glad to stop attending this service, I still preferred casual, contemporary worship services for the next couple years. It wasn't until I began considering Catholicism that traditional style was once again forced on me, and it was much more traditional than anything I had experienced before. But from the beginning of going to Mass, I knew there was something there that was not dispensed in the same dosage at my own Protestant church. That something? I quickly figured out that it was reverence. Shortly after I started attending, a friend asked me how I liked Mass and I responded that I felt I couldn't walk into Mass and slouch in the pews like I did at my church because there was a sense of God's holiness there. I noticed that the sanctuary was quiet beforehand and people prayed upon entering the sanctuary, unlike my church where everyone socialized in the sanctuary beforehand, often pushing up the start time of the service by 15 minutes or so. Frankly, I preferred the quiet.
When I found how reverent Mass was, I was fascinated with my immediate attraction to it. It had an air of the sacred about it, and even though I wasn't partaking of the Eucharist I loved listening to the priest walk us through the last supper and Christ's death and resurrection, and I loved watching everyone go forward to receive the Eucharist. I realize now that I was unsatisfied with the traditional 'reverent' style I grew up with not because reverence itself is boring, but because there wasn't much to be truly reverent about at church. God was there, but we received him by osmosis through the whole package of the service and not directly in the Eucharist like in Mass. Jesus in the flesh inspires reverence, but when the focus of a service is the sermon, it's hard for me to walk away feeling like I met with God. I think this is why today's emerging Protestant churches really try to ramp up the spiritual impact of a service by providing a worshipful, uplifting time of singing, which is the segment of the service usually labeled as worship...people are wanting something more out of church than a good sermon. As a Catholic now, I don't miss these types of services either because they are ultimately lacking in the substance I'm looking for every week, Jesus in the Eucharist.
I had been thinking these things over last weekend and when I went to Mass on Sunday, I thought God is here. Not very profound, but that one little thought deeply impacted how I experienced Mass. I always think of Mass as a time to meet with God, but this time the Lord's presence really hit me. I thought about how being in the presence of God should affect me, and it seemed obvious that it should order all my actions in Mass. Now was not the time to let my mind wander and mentally make the weeks' grocery list. I looked over at the tabernacle and saw the red candle burning and thought wow. The LORD is HERE. I couldn't help but close my eyes and soak in this knowledge and when I did, I felt a change come over me. Suddenly I felt heavier on the pew, confident I would have no trouble sitting there forever. I was aware of a sweet sensation surrounding me that's hard to explain, but it felt sort of like breathing in honey...without the wild coughing and suffocation that would entail in real life. I was overwhelmed with how good it was to be there sitting with Jesus.
Amy left a beautiful comment to her post (the one I linked to above) describing her experience of going from evangelical style worship to Mass that I can identify with, and I thought I would end this post with it:
For me, moving from Evangelical to Catholic worship (and I've been blessed with good-quality Catholic liturgy), it is like going from a big, fun swimming pool with slides and floats and everything to the beautiful, deep blue sea. I did scuba diving years ago, and when diving, one learns to relax, breathe and move slowly and deeply, to conserve oxygen, and ascend slowly, to prevent nitrogen build up and the bends. Nothing is ever hurried and rushed, and one feels almost as if one is moving in slow motion.
Good liturgy is like that for me, moving slowly, diving deeply, ascending gradually, breathing fully and deeply all the while. And what beauties of deeps and reefs and life you see along the way.
Monday, February 4, 2008
Saturday, February 2, 2008
"Because it was an inherent part of my worldview that everyone except people with "hang-ups" eventually has sex and sex is, under normal circumstances, only about the relationship between the two people involved, I got lured into one of the oldest, biggest, most tempting lies in human history: to dehumanize the enemy. Babies had become the enemy because of their tendencies to pop up and ruin everything; and just as societies are tempted to dehumanize the fellow human beings who are on the other side of the lines in wartime, so had I, and we as a society, dehumanized the enemy of sex."
"The way I'd always seen it, the standard position was that babies were a horrible burden, except for a couple times in life when everything is perfect enough that a couple might temporarily see new life as a good thing; the Catholic view is that the standard position is that babies are a blessing and a good thing, and while it's fine to attempt to avoid pregnancy for serious reasons, if we go so far as to adopt a "contraceptive mentality," feeling entitled to the pleasure of sex while loathing (and perhaps trying to forget all about) its life-giving properties, we not only disrespect this most sacred of acts, but we begin to see new life as the enemy."
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
But how, in a way that really counts? Before I became Catholic, I considered being a missionary and made some steps towards that end goal. Then I married my husband and he decided to become Catholic, and I followed suit, which changed that picture a bit. There aren't endless opportunities for married laity to be missionaries, and we have said 'absolutely not' to using contraception, so now we are in a phase of accepting children instead of limiting them in order to do 'God's work' as we probably would have had we gone overseas.
Catholics refer to one's life calling as your "vocation", and what I have come up with as my vocation is entirely unglamorous. I would never, ever have come up with it 3 or 4 years ago, which I know is a trite thing to say about vocation, but it's true. What I'm mentally calling my vocation is a 'life advocate'. There are three main areas I see to this right now. First, I want to be an advocate for life with my own body by being open to more children, and to being an at-home mom to those children. Second, I want to become more involved in the pro-life movement. Third, I want to spread the message of Natural Family Planning in marriage.
I am only at the beginning of understanding my vocation, so other layers might be added on over time, changing the components of my vocation picture. But for this phase of life I'm in now, which, using a conservative estimate will probably last 10 -15 years, I think my vocation will include these three components, or include things that closely resemble them. I've heard people say that you spend your 20's figuring out what you want to do with your life, and your 30's actually starting to do it. I'll be turning 30 this year, so I guess my narrowing of focus is partly biological (well, a lot of it is biological, considering having a child is what got me started on this path). I guess what has happened is that I don't feel overwhelmed by all the choices available to me; I don't need to throw myself at whatever good cause comes my way because I know what I want to be about...and now maybe I can get something done.
I don't want to become a task-master in this, I just want to be deliberate about trying to bring about some good in the world. I think of it as a way of praying with my feet, praying with my actions. I'm asking God to bring change through my little contributions, and I hope my contributions will work towards building his kingdom.