Friday, August 28, 2009

Simple thoughts on the Rosary

I prayed the rosary last night. I have not done so in awhile - maybe a month ago, maybe less, but in any case it hasn't been central in my prayer life lately. I always find that praying the rosary has the affect of making me feel grounded in my Catholicism, and such was the case last night. My spine actually tingled as I thought about how many others around the world were praying the rosary with me at that very moment, and how many people has stopped that day to pray through their own series of Hail Mary's. Usually I pray the rosary with a special intention in mind, and I wondered how many others had done the same, and what was on their heart. It is profoundly encouraging to me to know that we are allowed to ask the saints in heaven to pray for our broken world.

I find it surprising how blessed I find praying the rosary to be just due to my personality. For those acquainted with the Meyers-Briggs personality test, I am an INFP. The N stands for intuitive, which means I use my intuition to gather information rather than directly using my senses, and I am extremely strong on this. I despise precise things like measuring tapes, where there is an exact rule to follow. It's almost laughable to see me use a measuring tape - I tiled our bathroom floor earlier this year, and I much preferred to eyeball how much tile I needed to cut off, and some of my measurements? Well, they made me laugh. (But I did get it done!) Trusting my intuition to guess measurements more than the tape is so illogical, and I really need to gain some maturity with using measuring tapes, but still--I just don't like them, and I never will. I dislike set ways of doing things, I don't need specific instructions to get things done, and I get annoyed with people who do. Which is why is is so interesting that I feel eternally grateful for the depth the 'rote' prayers of Catholicism have added to my prayer life. Due to my personality, you would think I would prefer to come up with my own prayers, and while I haven't abandoned doing so, I love the set prayers of the faith. There is beauty in the unity of Catholics who pray them, there is a richness of thought that comes with repetition, and there is comfort and awe in the timelessness of the faith.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Quotable Monday

"There is, as we saw, one good reason for not believing in God: evil. And God himself has answered this objection not in words but in deeds and in tears. Jesus is the tears of God."

--Peter Kreeft, Catholic philosopher

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Life: It's Not Complicated

I am feeling very Catholic today. This morning I visited the website of the "Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice", where I noticed the Presbyterian Church USA listed as a member, which piqued my interest because the last church I went to before I became Catholic was PC USA. So I clicked on the PC USA website and searched for "abortion".

Let me tell you!

I knew the denomination was liberal, but silly me, I thought that meant they ordained women and such, not that they supported abortion as a choice for those facing what they repeatedly term "problem pregnancies". I never looked into the denomination as a whole. What does your average Protestant care about church hierarchy crap? I didn't.

Here are a few disturbing excerpts from the PC USA position on abortion:

"Presbyterians have struggled with the issue of abortion for more than 30 years..."

“the artificial or induced termination of a pregnancy is a matter of careful ethical decision of the patient…and therefore should not be restricted by law…”

"We may not know exactly when human life begins..."

"to terminate a pregnancy can be a morally acceptable, though certainly not the only or required, decision. Possible justifying circumstances would include medical indications of severe physical or mental deformity"...

"Problem pregnancies are the result of, and influenced by, so many complicated and insolvable circumstances that we have neither the wisdom nor the authority to address or decide each situation."

This last one is the phrase that keeps reverberating in my head; individual women have the wisdom and authority to decide if they should or should not get an abortion, but the Church does not have the wisdom to be able to speak against abortion because it's complicated. How can the body of Christ not know if it is right or wrong to kill an innocent human being? Apparently because the PC USA body believes that what is right in one situation may not be right in another. The Holy spirit may indeed affirm that one women should have an abortion, and he may say "no" to another. In reality, Abortion is not a complicated issue, but calling it so makes people who like to avoid being judgemental feel better about giving up their moral voice. But wait, shouldn't a church, of all things, maintain a consistent moral voice? And how does a church descend to such unfamiliarity with what I will term the Christian tradition, which has always held that human life from conception forward is sacred?

The PC USA page states,"In the Reformed Tradition, we affirm that God is the only Lord of conscience-not the state or the church."

Now I certainly think the PC USA is twisting 'reformed tradition' here by using it as an excuse to bow out of advocating for the lives of the unborn, but it's revealing that they use this statement here. What is being said in this context is that the church doesn't have the authority to say what is right and wrong because only God can do that. But if God is the only 'Lord of conscience', then the Lord of conscience becomes whatever individuals decide God is, and predictably, everyone seems to get a different version of God.

This past week I've made many comments on a post my husband wrote on facebook about all things related to marriage and sexuality. I noticed that there was a common theme running through all the other (non-Catholic) commenter's thinking; that this was a matter of opinion and preference, whether or not the commenter had a loose or strict vision of where the line of sin should be drawn. I notice this all too often among secular and Protestant circles (and bad Catholic ones, too): dialogue is the highest appeal to determine truth. Nothing else can be trusted. Christians may trust God, but there is no authority of authorities to explain God, everything is a matter of personal interpretation.

I expect this in secular circles where oneself is the highest judge of morality, but I would hope better of Christians. We're supposed to have submitted our lives to Christ, and that means submitting to the Church, which is "the pillar and bulwark of the truth." (1 Tim. 3:15). (Unless, of course, you belong to a church like the PC USA, which seems a little iffy on the concept of truth).

Besides being so glad I can trust the unadulterated doctrine of the Catholic church, I've come to a conclusion through all this: I really, really don't like the way faith looks when it is disconnected from authority. Faith just lacks integrity without it. When there is no recognition that the Church has authority to interpret scripture consistent with the way it has always been interpreted and to pass on the historical faith, people seem to feel free to go around reinventing whatever facet of Christianity (or life) they see as needing improvement. That's just sad.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Quotable Monday

"No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless. There is too much work to be done."

--Dorothy Day, journalist, social activist (1897-1980)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

oooh, so maddening

Did you know our president just got done celebrating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender month? (He declared June such himself, what a guy). On Monday, he hosted a LGBT reception at the White House. Read the transcript here.

Here's a nice excerpt of Obama speaking on the struggle to advance the LGBT agenda:

"Now this struggle, I don't need to tell you, is incredibly difficult, although I think it's important to consider the extraordinary progress that we have made. There are unjust laws to overturn and unfair practices to stop. And though we've made progress, there are still fellow citizens, perhaps neighbors or even family members and loved ones, who still hold fast to worn arguments and old attitudes; who fail to see your families like their families; and who would deny you the rights that most Americans take for granted."

So now myself, most of (all?) the Catholics I know personally, the Pope, my bishop, and untold millions who prefer to allow God, the Church, the wisdom of the ages, good psychology and reason to decide what it means to be whole have officially been declared backwards...intellectual neanderthals...something to be eradicated. Thanks, Mr. President.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Quotable Monday

"Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted in spite of your changing moods"

--C.S. Lewis, Irish scholar and author (1898-1963)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Toys and play

I've been thinking about toys, play and imagination lately.

I read something in Whole Child/Whole Parent that I keep coming back to (paraphrased): A toy is just the means of discovery. Once a child has learned whatever he or she can from one particular toy, he will become uninterested in it. Toys and play give children opportunities to learn about the world.

This makes sense because I've seen it happen. If I take my three year old to a garage sale selling toys, he will be mesmerized and play with whatever they have for as long as I will let him. But if I were to buy every toy they had, he would be ignoring them in a day or two because the toys would offer him nothing new. The initial entertainment value of any toy fades really quickly--unless it is the kind that requires imagination to use.

Some time ago I read an article on play that I also keep returning to; it talked about how there has been a negative shift towards replacing play with educational activity. This is a mistake because children learn about the world through their play, and sad because children's imaginations are under-utilized when play gets pushed aside for 'more important' activities. What is a child if not a creature of imagination?

I try to stay away from feeding my kids tv and toys with batteries because (besides the jangling noises) I think of them as the junk food of play--they tend to be things that short-shrift imagination. Battery run toys do one thing, and one thing only. A talking toy piano will always be just a talking toy piano. But a bucket? A bucket can be a hat, a stool, a pot for cooking, a mold for sand--anything, really.

Naturally, I've been thinking back on what I liked playing with as a child, and I think I can pretty safely say that my favorite toy was my dollhouse. Yes, the dollhouse was always a dollhouse, but every new play session offered the potential for something new to be created in story. Even unused, the dollhouse sat waiting for someone to come and make up a new story to happen between the little walls. I still have the dollhouse in a crate in the basement, and all the tiny furniture I collected over the years tucked away in boxes, waiting for some other child to bring them back to life. I couldn't ever possibly feel the same way about an old video or remote controlled car I used to love as a kid.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Debating kid's shows/stories

I've been having a mental debate about the kind of stories I read to my three year old and the kind of DVDs I let him watch. I've been noticing that a lot of the shows and books that try to teach "moral lessons" go about it in a way that I'm not sure is such a great way to teach a three year old. Generally, it seems that the way these lessons are conveyed is a character acts in a way that is mean, or selfish, and then another character steps in and points out the error of their ways. Basic, and I'm not sure there is another way to do this, but my problem with this is that it nicely illustrates bad behavior to my three year old. Before it teaches him to be good, it teaches him to be bad. For instance, a character in a Sesame Street story calls someone stupid. Eventually, they learn the lesson that it's not kind to call anyone stupid. But I doubt my three year old has ever heard anyone be called stupid or called anyone stupid himself (outside of stories), and now Sesame Street has showed him how.

This mostly just applies to shows, because with books, so far I've only taken issue with the crappy ones - the ones that sell just because they have Elmo on the cover, you know the type. I haven't noticed this kind of writing in any of our favorite books, and besides, I can always change the words!

I might be making a mountain out of a molehill here, but I know my son is deeply affected by stories, whether written or watched. Every day he speaks 'in story' - combining phrases from different stories we've read into strange sentences that sometimes make sense and sometimes don't. Every day I hear him repeating something we've read, or saying a phrase from Thomas Train. He thinks 'in story', because he will apply phrases he's learned to what he is doing at any given moment.

I checked out the first movie he's ever watched, Cars, from the library this week. I wouldn't have even considered it, but an older boy that befriended my son in the children's room started pulling DVDs off the shelf for him and came to me, saying, 'please, please?' Then of course, booga really wanted to bring one home, and I gave in. Partly because every child seems to have seen this movie, and I was curious. And it turns out Lightning McQueen is a pretty distasteful character until he reforms in the end. He's the cool hero of the movie, and he's a jerk. I think my son is still too young to process that heroes who act like jerks are doing something they shouldn't. I'm pretty certain he is not watching Lightning McQueen thinking, 'boy, he sure is selfish' -- he's just absorbing what he sees.

Since I don't really want him to absorb bad behavior until he can identify it as bad behavior, I'm going to be careful about the stories that get brought into our house. I'm glad we don't watch any TV (I used to let booga watch Sesame Street, but we don't get the channel anymore), and I think I will try to hold off on movies for the most part for another year at least. I'm okay with Thomas Train and Elmo DVDs (although his one-dimensionality gets to me).There's just an intensity difference between the trains on Thomas being quarrelsome, and loud flashy movie characters being bad.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Quotable Monday

Tree House

A tree house, a free house,
A secret you and me house,
A high up in the leafy branches
Cozy as can be house.

A street house, a neat house,
Be sure and wipe your feet house
Is not my kind of house at all-
Let's go live in a tree house.

--Shel Silverstein, author, illustrator, poet, musician (1930-1999)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The wrong response to Dr. Tiller's death

I received a forwarded email written by Randall Terry,"The Right Response to Dr. Tiller's Death", which you can read here . Dr. George Tiller, late-term abortionist, was murdered on Sunday. I wrote the following response to the sender. (Randall Terry founded the anti-abortion activist group Operation Rescue, but is no longer affiliated; he left the group in 1991)

I received this email this morning - and I strongly do not think this is a good response to Dr. Tiller's death, and I do not think it should be forwarded on to as many as possible. Why? Because Mr. Terry does not express ANY remorse over the fact that Dr. Tiller was murdered; he only expresses remorse over how the pro-life movement will be vilified as a result of the murder. Instead of lamenting yet another violent act, he turns the affair into a 'boo-hoo for us, now everyone will hate us' rant. I know it is hard to truly regret the death of a man who did so much destruction (and obviously Terry is having trouble with this) but we must do so because Dr. Tiller was unjustly murdered and we are supposed to be the ultimate 'respecters of life'. If we pro-lifers really want to build a culture that respects life, our response to Dr. Tiller's murder can't be as shallow and self-seeking as Mr. Terry's is in this letter! Nowhere in this letter do I see the Christ-like virtue of loving ones enemy, nowhere. That upsets me. There are much better responses to Dr. Tiller's death from the pro-life community, such as:

Please let me know what you think if you have time. I am grateful for all you do for the unborn!


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tuesday is trash day

I think I might have crushed a dream today. My three year old and I were outside today when the recycling truck came down the alley. He begged me to stop doing yard work so we could watch the truck. When it pulled up to our curb, the driver motioned us over so we could watch the recycling get compacted into the truck. We did, and it was loud. I heard a bit of a whimper and looked to see my boy (who regularly runs around happily saying 'Tuesday is trash day!' and who, at the first distant rumble of a garbage truck, drops anything in order to get to a window as fast as possible) frowning deeply. His lower lip quivered, "I want to go inside!" and when we did, these words: " I do NOT like garbage trucks!"

Monday, June 1, 2009

Quotable Monday

"The world has weekends, and we have holy days. The world prepares us to be food for worms; the Church invites us to the wedding feast of the Lamb."

--Anthony Esolen, professor of English and senior editor for Touchstone magazine. (Read the whole article here).

Monday, May 25, 2009

Quotable Monday

"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself"
--Leo Tolstoy, Russian writer, pacifist (1828-1910)

Marriage in an imperfect world

A few weeks ago I read an article in Our Sunday Visitor, "How 'no-fault' divorce has fractured U.S. society". It contains a gem of a statement made by Maggie Gallagher, president of the National Organization for Marriage. "Marriage is the attempt to love one other person the way God loves everyone, and that's hard. You need the support of a community, of a culture, to make it work. If people could do that on their own, we wouldn't need marriage." When Gallagher speaks of community support, she is referring to how no-fault divorce laws do not foster a culture that supports marriage.

I think this speaks to a profoundly overlooked truth about marriage: that marriage is instituted in part to protect its members from each other. Scary, but true. It doesn't exist just because two people are completely mushed-face over one another and are going to blissfully stay that way forever and ever. I think Gallagher hits the nail on the head here: if we could love perfectly, we wouldn't need marriage.

The contract of marriage between two people exists, in part at least, as a fall back when one or both parties would really rather not be married. And of course, no-fault divorce pretty much has wiped that idea off the map, even though the article sites that 4 out of 5 divorcees opposed their divorce. We as a culture are so used to the idea of no-fault divorce, that we almost don't know what marriage is for anymore. It's common to divorce merely because "I'm just not as happy as I think I should be". And because our culture is rife with divorce, marriage no longer means what it is supposed to mean: permanent commitment.

I think there is one other party that marriage is made necessary to protect: children. If laws are created in the first place to protect the innocent, then I can think of no other more appropriate law than the legal contract of marriage. Children are better off when they live with married parents, plain and simple. I could come up with a long list of statistics and anecdotes to prove this point, but I think it's so obvious that I don't need to. I could also write a really long post on this topic, but today is not the day for that. Happy Memorial day, everyone!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Quotable Monday

"It is impossible to fulfill the law concerning love for Me, God eternal, apart from the law concerning love for your neighbors."

--Saint Catherine of Siena, Dominican tertiary, mystic, informal diplomat, doctor of the church (1347-1380)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

They're bonding

One of those sweet brotherly moments happened last night as I was getting the boys ready for bed. I was nursing our 10 month old, and I heard my husband say outside the room in the hall to our three year old ' go and say goodnight to baby brother'. Then baby brother surprised me by pulling away from me and smiling, looking towards the door in anticipation. Apparently he heard as well. He did more cute smiling and giggling and kicked his legs in excitement as his big brother came in and went through his ritual of saying goodnight ("goodnight baby brother-wait, wait, don't wiggle...I give you a blessing: in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit" Hug, "uh-uh-UH", kiss, "good night!")

It's always sweet to watch my little baby glory in getting his nightly dose of attention from his big brother, but it was just a little extra special that he understood my husband's words.

Monday, May 11, 2009

homeschooling: reason one

As I've been trying to distill my reasons to try homeschooling our kids, I've come up with my number one reason: I want to firmly establish 'the good' in their minds as normal. I read a post recently by a DRE who stated that almost without exception, the public school kids at his parish did poorly on their sacraments testing before first communion while the homeschoolers did very well. He went on to talk about how homeschoolers did not have a problem with a spiritual vocabulary, while publicly schooled kids did; homeschoolers are engaging their spirituality throughout the day while public schoolers spend the majority of their day in an atmosphere that ignores all things spiritual. It is striking to me that a child who goes to public school will spend most of his or her waking hours around people who generally treat spirituality as an alien concept. What is normal, at least at school (no matter how many Christian teachers there are in public schools), is to ignore anything religious.

I've been hyper aware lately of the fact that I am establishing what is normal in my children's minds by what we do and don't do in our family. Because of this, I'm starting to be more careful not to squander opportunities to speak of faith to our three year old. No one else can establish this as normal conversation like my husband and I can simply because our kids spend nearly all their time with us.

I've also been noticing how thoroughly our culture likes to present a picture of life that has been completely sanitized of religion. For instance, for all the ways Sesame street loves to introduce children to the diversity of our world, I have yet to see the show even hint that someones identity is wrapped up in worshiping God. Do they ever show a Muslim praying, or a little Jewish boy wearing a yarmulke, or a child going for first communion? It seems plain silly that though it is not hard to see a person's religion has a profound impact on who they are, pop culture pretends otherwise. It is normal to ignore the most important facet of human existence; relationship to God. This seems a dangerous atmosphere to raise a child in.

It's not impossible to raise a faith-filled child in public school, but I do think doing so adds one more hurdle to the task. I wish I knew who said this first so I could properly attribute it, but...would you rather raise your child in an atmosphere that makes it easy to be holy, or one that makes it difficult? By homeschooling, I hope to choose the former (Lord have mercy!).

Quotable Monday


Rock-a-bye baby in the tree top,
Don't you know a tree top,
Is no safe place to rock?
And who put you up there,
And your cradle too?
Baby I think someone down here's
Got it in for you.

--Shel Silverstein, author, illustrator, poet, musician (1930-1999)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Fun with covering my head

So I'm back from a moderately long blogging absence. Have I said before that we bought a 100 year old house and could probably spend the next five to ten years working on it? I've been trying to complete some projects around the house, and whenever I do that, I run out of time to blog. But, here goes...

I wrote in January about my decision to start wearing a chapel veil to Mass and I thought I'd give an update on my experience thus far. Here is the unfortunate fact: Like clockwork, I secretly hope I have forgotten the veil every time I land in the pews at Mass. But it's always there along with an arsenal of bobby pins that magically never get lost at the bottom of my purse, and I'm going to keep wearing it. It's a little like going to confession. Do I genuinely like that I have to do it? No. Is it necessary and good? Yes. The veil tends to slowly slip off during Mass and our 9 month old is, um, learning to keep his hands and mouth away from it. (There is one advantage to this- my husband will hold the baby to keep him away from the veil). But my biggest complaint on the veil is entirely due to my own sinful nature: I feel conspicuous. I wonder if other people notice the veil and disapprove because I remember my own shocked reaction when I saw a woman wearing a veil at the first parish we were members at--'Oh. My. Goodness. what does she have on her head?'

As a general rule, I do not like the spotlight. I do not mind things like public speaking when I know exactly what I'm going to say beforehand, but when it's just me, raw and unrehearsed, I feel completely jumbled. It's probably why I am not a very prolific blogger-- I'm too timid to let people see my 'writing out loud' as I once heard blogging described as. I prefer to edit and re-edit, which takes time, and I don't have much of that.

But back to the veil: In my mind, because I decided to veil as an act of submission to the Lord, wearing the veil is a little hurdle of faithfulness that I am challenged to sail over every week that I find helpful. If I can't suffer the tiniest bit of uncomfortableness for Jesus (poor, poor self-image), much zeal do I really have? For me, covering my head is an interior genuflection that lasts the entire Mass. It would be nice to get over my self-consciousness, and to believe that no one really cares what I have on my head, but if I don't, I guess I will continue to be privileged to suffer. I've noticed that Catholicism has a long-standing tradition of embracing suffering, and for good reason: Jesus did. Someday I'm going to write about it. Maybe later this week if I get the kitchen painted!

Quotable Monday

"It's a little-known fact that the real business of parenting is the upbringing of the parent."

-Polly Berrien Berends, author and childhood expert

Monday, March 30, 2009

Quotable Monday

"Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring"

--St. Catherine of Siena (1347-1380)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Notre Dame's side step

I haven't been biting my nails on following the Notre Dame / Obama hullabaloo, but I know enough. At first I wasn't too sure it deserved all the attention it was getting, but the more I think about a Catholic university honoring a person as opposed to young human life as Obama is, the more it bothers me. It's a regurgitation of the same trend that disturbed me in the presidential election: Christian complacency over abortion. It is very worrisome to me that it is a rare Christian who is willing to do something about abortion, let alone speak publicly against it, and it is extremely worrisome to see a Catholic institution following suit. Opposition to abortion is, after all, part of genuine Catholic identity; what other church so fervently identifies abortion as the prominent moral issue of our day? What a grand side step by Notre Dame of its moral duty to be a voice for goodness and life. Life! Such a basic idea to defend! How can it be so easy to care so little about death?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Batteries, batteries, batteries

My three year old got a non-mechanized toy motorcycle for his birthday this weekend, and he's been asking me to 'push the button,' and 'make it go' over and over. Finally he said "turn it ON mommy!", to which I replied, 'it doesn't have any batteries!' And he said "Oh dear! We better go to the store and get some!"

That's it. No more toys with batteries.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Keeping the Sabbath

"The Jews think that the sabbath is given to them for idleness. This is not the purpose, but in order that they may remove themselves from worldly cares and devote all their leisure to spiritual concerns. It is evident from the facts that the sabbath is not a subject for idleness but for spiritual work." --St. John Chrysostom, first sermon on Lazarus and the rich man


I've always felt a bit puzzled by and even resistant to the idea of keeping the Sabbath. I have a vague notion that I shouldn't do much work, but that usually results in looking at the huge pile of dirty dishes on the kitchen counter and thinking 'I really should just let those go until tomorrow', but then going ahead and doing the dishes anyway, feeling slightly guilty but also justified. Crusty dishes were everywhere! How could I rest when I knew there were crusty dishes everywhere?!

Well, I've come across one of those "aha!" concepts in a sermon by St. john Chrysostom that is finally clearing things up on the issue of keeping the Sabbath. St. John explains the Sabbath as a day to do spiritual work. It is not a day set aside for idleness, but a day to accomplish spiritual things.

Thus far my idea of keeping the Sabbath has been pretty limited to going to Mass and then trying to spend the rest of the day on things that are relaxing. I'm realizing that while it is good for my soul to relax on Sundays, I'm missing the point if that is my main goal for the day. While it's not possible with two young kids to care for to set aside big chunks of time for spiritual reflection, I still think I could make the rhythm of Sunday more geared towards ' spiritual work' by making sure I do set aside some time outside of Mass. I feel more inclined to let the housework go knowing there's a good reason not to do the dishes. It's not that it's wrong to wash dishes on Sunday because I'm supposed to be relaxing, it's just that doing so might eliminate the only time I have during the day to spend pursuing God. (Now, if this doesn't convince my husband that we need a dishwasher, the kind with a motor in it, what will?)

Saturday, February 28, 2009


Ah, Lent. Spiritual house cleaning is upon us once again, and it feels due. Part of my Lenten practice this year is to pray the morning and evening prayers of the Liturgy of the Hours. This is an attempt to create a better balance of something I've been marveling at recently; how much time I spend nourishing the body, and how little time I spend nourishing my soul.

I'm amazed by the hours I spend every week on grocery shopping, preparing meals, and cleaning up after them. I go to the dentist, take my kids to the doctor. I clean the house. I highlight my hair, brush my teeth, put on makeup. I run and take walks, throw in a few yoga poses here and there just to get my body through the day. It really is remarkable. And how much time do I spend praying, reading Scripture, attending Mass? Very little, especially considering that my body will wither and die, but my soul is eternal.

I never find myself too busy to eat for an entire day, but I do find myself convinced I'm too busy and too tired to pray--why is that?!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Quotable Monday

One thing I ask of the Lord,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.

-Psalm 27:4

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Breast cancer and the pill

I'd say this deserves some more investigation:

"In 1960, when the pill was first invented, the incidence of breast cancer was one in 25 women; today it is one in eight women,"

(Kathy Raviele, a Catholic physician practicing in Atlanta, in "How Birth Control Changed America for the Worst")

Monday, February 9, 2009

Quotable Monday

"Act as though all the past were nothing and with David say: "Now I will begin to love my God."

--Saint Francis de Sales: Bishop of Geneva, (1567-1622)

Throwing scarves

I picked up a great idea at story time today; wadding up a scarf in your hand and throwing it like a ball. I feel a little foolish calling this simple idea ingenious, but for toddlers who are stuck inside during winter, it is. There's something very satisfying about seeing a gauzy scarf sail through the air, and my two and a half year old can actually catch one--unlike most balls. Nice!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Quotable Monday

"Until we are willing to be politically incorrect in order to be biblically correct, we will never convince anyone that our religion is worth living."

--Bishop Robert Hermann, administrator of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, on recent elections and "lax Catholics":

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Chapel veils

So here's what's on my mind: chapel veils. We're still looking for a parish to settle at in Pittsburgh, although we're racking up hits to the TLM (Traditional Latin Mass). Most of women at the TLM veil, and every time I approach the church, I have a mini mental debate whether I should as well. I did borrow a veil once from the nice lady who has a box of them in the foyer every Sunday and spent the rest of Mass wondering if the lace doily on top of my head was going to fall off due to my lack of skill with bobby pins.

I haven't wanted to start wearing a veil in Mass without understanding the reasons to veil. Sure I've read 1 Corinthians 11 where St. Paul requires women to cover their heads, but no one else seems to be paying any attention to his words, so I've assumed there must be some scholarly interpretation of this passage that gets women out of following his instructions. According to my admittedly limited research, the answer to that seems to be...well, not so much.

I've come across a few interesting things that are compelling me to veil. One, veiling has nothing to do with men, but everything to do with God. Women are instructed to veil as a sign of respect to God when praying and when before the Eucharist. Two, veiling used to be required according to canon law, meaning that women could be reprimanded for refusing to veil. Canon law was rewritten in 1983 and did not mention veiling, but this did not negate the practice. It was probably not mentioned because it shouldn't have been in canon law in the first place, as wearing the veil is a voluntary act, one that you should want to do. Also, after Vatican II, the press mistakenly reported that women no longer 'had' to wear the veil and never corrected themselves; as a result, many women stopped wearing the veil under the influence of secular society.

For me the heart of the matter comes down to this- if I decide not to veil I think I would be doing so under the influence of misguided Catholics and secular culture, particularly feminists of the 60's-70's who had little respect or understanding for the Church, rather than under the influence of the Lord. I think I'd rather trust Saint Paul as being divinely inspired and take his instructions at face value. I'm Catholic largely because I decided to take Jesus' words 'this is my body, this is my blood' at face value. I don't feel at liberty to say 'oh that's not what Scripture really meant' if something is out of my comfort zone. I say this with the understanding that Scripture is not always easily understood, and some of it is not meant to be taken literally (some of the Bible is just poetry), but I don't think this applies here because the Church has a long standing, Biblically based tradition of encouraging women to cover their heads in worship.

I'm not entirely comfortable with veiling. It definitely goes against the grain of being a modern woman, or what I had thought it meant to be a Christian woman today. But at this point, I don't have a good reason not to veil. And now that I've written this post, I guess I have committed myself to joining the ranks of those women who cover their heads at Mass. Here goes!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Quotable Monday

"Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple"

-Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss), author, cartoonist ( 1904-1991)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

March for Life 2009

I'm blogging about this a little late, but I went to the March For Life in Washington DC! My husband and I decided last minute that it would be a missed opportunity not to go (the kids do well with long car rides at the moment, friends in DC could put us up, and no one had to miss work or class to go). I'm really glad we went and we will go again.

I'm posting a few tips below on doing the march with young kids, which I will post again next January before the march, because I wished that I'd been a little better informed as to how things would run the day of the march. I also had hoped to have a bunch of my own photos to post, but I didn't take very many because I was pretty much sandwiched in a sea of people all afternoon. Here are a few links to some coverage if you'd like to see photos, photos, photos. Unfortunately, the march is pretty consistently under reported in the mainstream media, but I've seen estimates that between 200,000-300,000 people attended. Wow.

Tips for taking kids to the March for Life:
1. Pack a lunch and snacks that you can eat standing up. There is no easily accessible food once you are at the mall!!
2. Bring strollers that your kids will be happy to sleep in
3. Bring something to occupy your kids while they sit in a stroller
4. Consider finding a perch and just watching the march from one of the many buildings on the mall, or joining in at the very end on your own time (unless you want to possibly spend hours waiting to start actually walking)
5. Consider arriving late. Everything we read said the march started at 12, but only the rally (a series of speakers) started at 12. We did not start "marching" until at least 2, and we did not start moving until at least 3:30. We got to the Metro at 5:00.
6. If you're taking the Metro (subway) do not plan on getting on the Metro at the station closest to the end of the march, Capitol South. The line will be insane. Plan on walking to another station.
7. Buy your return Metro tickets on the way TO the march
8. Plan on spending two nights in the DC area, one before and one after, if you have what you consider a "long" drive.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

Quotable Monday

"There are few things, if anything, so clearly required by social justice than that a society not kill its babies. If we don’t get that right, we’re not likely to get much of anything else right."

-Father Richard John Neuhaus, former Lutheran pastor, author, pro-life advocate (1936-January 8 2009)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Thoughts on the Catechism

I'm attempting to read the Catechism from cover to cover, and I came across something in the prologue (yeah I haven't gotten very far) that I keep rolling over in my mind. Let me back up a second by asking this: what comes to mind when you hear the wordCatechesis? (Or Catechism).

When I hear those words, I think of necessary but dull classes, probably taught by a lackluster teacher...I think dry, I think memorization. Which is why I was a little surprised when I read: "Catechesis is intimately bound up with the whole of the Church's life. Not only her geographical extension and numerical increase, but even more her inner growth and correspondence with God's plan depend essentially oncatechesis"(Prologue I 7)

This instantly made sense to me, even though it was surprising. The inner growth of the Church depends upon Catechesis! Of course, Catechesis is simply passing on the faith, wherever that happens--and if a person only receives part of the faith because they aren't Catechised well, then their life of faith is probably going to be lacking. It's much easier to fall into sin if you have not been taught what God requires. Righteous values are not taught by osmosis from the culture at large. And for me, being a person who hasn't been formally Catechised in Catholicism, there's still so much I don't know about living the Catholic faith. It's like having a little toolbox to assist in living the Christian life instead of a big toolbox.

The idea of Catechesis breathing life into faith seems so out-of-the-box to me, and I'm not sure why; the first time I read the Catechism I realized it was chock full of amazing stuff. Maybe it's my Protestant sensibilities; my intuition tells me that as a Protestant I was much more focused on 'personal discovery' rather than looking for guidance from any Church. I've written a little about this before--the sense of being on my own with God rather than being shepherded by the Church. There seems to be an evangelical consensus out there that we should experience God in a fresh way rather than by following tradition. There is a sense that tradition is not life-giving. But becoming Catholic is tied up with embracing the Christian tradition, not exactly the same as it has always been, but with an organic connection to what has been from the beginning. It's pretty sweet to have a book that basically distills the last 2000 years of theological thought-when you look at it that way, reading the Catechism from cover to cover is not that many pages.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Quotable Monday

"Prayer is the oxygen of the soul"

-Saint Padre Pio, Italian Capuchin priest, 1887-1968

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

On letting the fire die

If you are pro-life minded like I am, there has been something heavy hanging in the air ever since Barack Obama became our president elect. It feels like some sort of doomsday on the abortion front is about to occur, and it's hard to go about life with this knowledge. One of the worst discoveries I've made as an adult is that the cliche 'ignorance is bliss' is 100% true. Back in 2001 I went to Calcutta, India for a few weeks on a mission trip, and seriously, I was depressed for an entire year afterward because of what I saw there. After seeing countless families stretched out on the sidewalks to sleep at night and after carrying skeletal patients at Mother Teresa's home for the dying, I felt completely disillusioned with the American lifestyle. I also felt utterly powerless. When tragedy becomes personal--when a real starving child is standing in front of you vs. staring out of a magazine photograph-- there's really two options: try to make peace with the knowledge of despair while working for change, or shove it to the back of the mind and forget about it.

After Obama was elected I felt angry, fed up, and just plain sad for a few weeks before I felt like something had to give. Overwhelmed with the intensity of my disgust for the lack of care with which far too many people treat the abortion issue, I decided to try the 'oh well, what can I do?' approach. Maybe having a rabidly pro-abortion president wouldn't be such a big deal after all. And so, I haven't read anything about Obama by choice for the past few months because it can be so disheartening. But I'm not sure it's working for me. Well, I know it's not working. I've almost stopped praying for an end to abortion and I've barely thought about getting connected to the Pittsburgh pro-lifers who I know are out there. It's tempting to become one of the persons I say I don't understand anymore; someone who is bothered by the fact that abortion is legal in all 50 states up to the moment of birth, but not bothered enough to do something about it. I know that shutting up about abortion would be a major failing because I am certain that God has called me to stand against this particular evil. It just would be so much easier not to.

I don't have many answers at this point as to how to carry on. I'm still at a loss over how to live with the knowledge that the simple task of just staying alive is such a struggle for so many people. I'd like to ask some wise folks who confront serious evil and ugliness every day how they maintain some form of happiness. Is that even possible? I have some vague ideas; massive devotion to prayer and the Eucharist top the list. Maybe that's enough. Another cliche comes to mind, 'no way through it but to do it'...I'm just hoping for a better answer down the line.