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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Childhood Honesty

This afternoon I met with a father and his 8 year old daughter with regard to her First Confession. They were previously at a parish that is still stuck to the bad idea of having Holy Communion at the age of 7, but First Reconciliation at the age of 10.

No, it makes no sense.

Which is what the parents thought so the mother contacted me, and as I handle RCIC (Rite of Christian Initiation for Children), I am working with the family to prepare the little girl for this wonderful sacrament.

Today I went over the information I provided to all the other parents and gave him the materials to be completed at home. Since the child was present, I did have to "kiddify" some of what I was saying, although I think most of it went over her head. But she was receptive and in her shy way, engaged with the conversation.

I think the family is one that had fallen away, but in my conversations with them, they at least have an intuitive grasp of the faith, what's right and what's wrong, and sincerely want to do the right things. I met with the father as he was raised Catholic, although he candidly admitted to me today that he has forgotten a great deal. Yet he remembered some important concepts such as "in persona Christi", which I also tried to explain to his daughter within the context of Confession. She didn't really understand, but her father told her, "You will."

So during part of our conversation this afternoon, in retranslating part of my original talk into language more directed towards both of them as I wanted to include the girl, I said something like, "We are all God's disobedient children, no matter how old we get."

The girl piped up, "I know Daddy was!"

What honesty! It was all I could do not to burst out laughing, because, of course, she was very serious, and her dad just grinned with her same shy smile.

The mother wasn't present today, I gather because she feels intimidated. I think she is a new Catholic, and she revealed to me in a previous conversation that she wanted to learn more as she also doesn't understand the sacrament very well. I told the Mister today that if she (or either of them) have questions, to call me, and I'll be happy to go over the same info with her also. He told me he believes they will both call at some point.

Please also keep this family in your prayers. They are such sweet people, in spite of their daughter's opinion of her daddy!

A series of prayer requests

I have several prayer requests tonight, beginning with our coadjutor, Archbishop Nienstedt. We received word today that this morning, his mother passed away. He only recently also lost his father, so please keep Archbishop Neinstedt in your prayers, along with the souls of his loved ones. My heart just breaks for him.

Next...My Mom called. She is leaving on a trip (flying) this week, and is really nervous, which is normal for her. As she's bipolar, she has also begun taking her anti-anxiety medication, but based on the conversation I had with her tonight, it's not working. In fact she's working herself into MORE anxiety through her constant discussion about the fact that she's anxious, she doesn't know why, she's always anxious before flying, etc. etc.. I told her that she doesn't have to go, but no, she insists that she wants to go and thinks she'll be fine when she gets on the plane. And then she began talking about her advance directive and the fact that she's taking a copy with her.

Then I told her that if she gets on the plane and doesn't feel better, that she can get off, and she insists that won't happen. Fine.

If she were a "normal" person, then I would think her anxiety might mean something and perhaps she should try to change flights. Instead, as anxiety is the norm for my Mom whenever there is an "event" in her life of any sort, well, it's not a very good barometer for whether something really IS wrong.

So please keep her in your prayers as she struggles through these last couple days before she leaves on her trip. And while she's on her trip.

Also please pray for me. I've had a weird feeling all evening, not really sure why, but it's not going away. I thought it was anxiety over my tax returns because I didn't have all my tax documents in, but the last ones came in today. (Along with a shortage in my escrow by $200.00. WHAT!?) I have several bills due and am afraid I won't be able to pay them, but even with all these things, it's not putting the finger on my weird anxiety tonight. I know it's not about my Mom (maybe a little now after THAT conversation!), maybe it's finances, but still, I don't think that's it. Something is just WRONG somewhere because this unsettled feeling is not going away!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Childhood Disasters and Angelic Salvation

Everyone has stories from childhood, whether of theirs or that of their children.

I told one such story about how my Mother and every other involved parent in the neighborhood converged to save us from a spring flood.

This really was my mother's story as my memory is not so clear, and I have other stories also belonging to Mom which I now take as my own. Each family has their own oral tradition; and so I encourage all of you to absorb what you learn from your parents, or what you learn AS parents, and pass it on. As it is, today, I pass on a couple stories, thanks to Melody's comment which inspired me.

The Nick of Time...

My brother and I grew up watching Tom & Jerry cartoons, and anyone familiar with these characters knows how often they hit each other with common household objects, and how birds and stars would circle their heads after a cranial impact.

Well, around that time our parents had purchased a table and chairs made for children, both of which were kept in the living room, likely because of my "tea parties" to which both Mom and Dad found themselves "invited." I seriously must not have been older than three or four at the time, which would have made my brother five or six.

One day, my brother decided that he would like to see the birds and stars, and although I recall little of the experience, I think I agreed that I'd like to see the creatures around my head. As none of the cartoon characters ever suffered anything other than crossed eyes (which I already had, by nature) and the flying things, well, I agreed to the experiment.

Mom walked into the room just in time to see my brother raising the chair over his head. She stopped him mid-swing as the chair descended towards my tender skull, and took it away from him.

Guardian angel intervention? Quite possible. Quite likely. Can you IMAGINE the headlines that would hit the news today?

And I have yet another story, from around the same time period.

Impossible Salvation

Mom and Dad, as most parents, had a full-sized or queen bed, and it was just WONDERFUL for jumping. Of course, Mom and Dad BOTH had FORBIDDEN us to jump on the bed...EVER!

But one morning, we went into Mom's room and began bouncing. That was fun, but then my brother, being a boy, found the need to up the ante because bouncing wasn't enough. He started to push me, likely expecting me to push him back. But me, being a girl, was completely contented with just bouncing, and saw his pushing as a personal attack.

I think I likely did push him back and told him to stop, but he didn't, and at one point in the skirmish, I remember being in mid-air, being pushed, and I remember the room turning upside-down.

It happened in slow-motion. I saw the ceiling, the wall, the brown dresser, and the green diamond-shaped Berber-type carpeting, and just before my head hit, I stopped. For a moment, I was suspended, not even breathing as I observed the room around me, knowing at even a cellular level that horror had been averted.

My brother was holding my ankles with a strength I didn't know he had...because he had stopped my momentum and my descent in an instant. I remember being able to touch the floor beneath me, and I remember studying the dresser in my upside-down position, my legs straight up in the air, soles towards the ceiling. My back wasn't even touching the bed, which meant that my brother's arms had to have been extended straight out from him.

My brother pulled me back onto the bed, again, with a strength that belied his years. As soon as I was there, I looked around the room, shocked. He was no longer interested in jumping and playing. He was as terrified, if not MORE terrified, than I was in that moment. Neither one of us, though, really understood the full consequences of the action that had been averted.

My brother's eyes were saucers and he was already pleading with me not to cry, not to call Mom, not to tell. He was telling me I was OK, don't cry, don't cry...

And of course, realizing that I'd been upside-down not according to my own will, what did I do but start to cry?

I don't remember the rest. I'm not sure if my brother calmed me down or if I ran away and told Mom. That part is too fuzzy. I do remember him begging me to be quiet, I remember his hand on my shoulder, I remember him telling me that I was fine, and I was. But I didn't know what else to do but cry, and I did know clearly that my dear brother had saved me.

But in looking back, considering I was around 3 or 4, and my brother, 2 1/2 years older, I don't know how he could have saved me. I don't know how he could have halted my descent. I don't think he had the physical strength to work against...well...physics.

There is no doubt in my mind that our Guardian Angels intervened physically to save us both in that instance.

"Can you feel the tips of their wings?"

Mom taught us both, at a very young age, about Guardian Angels. I still remember the afternoons that we laid down for a nap,one of us on either side of Mom. She would speak to us about the angels, and invite us to raise our hands in the air. She told us they were flying above our extended hands, and we should be able to feel the feathers on their wings against our fingertips as they flew.

I stretched my little fingers as far as possible, but never felt the wings touch them. I never felt the breeze created by their flight. But my brother cried out that he could feel it, and Mom endorsed this as she said she could feel it, too. Never once did I ever feel the passing of the angels over us, and finally, one day, I cried because I thought the angels didn't love me. I cried because my arms were too short, and the angels couldn't fly low enough to reach me. And I cried because, once again, the people older than I could experience what I could not because I was too little.

Mom and my brother both sought to comfort me and stop my tears, and finally my brother admitted he couldn't really feel the wings, either, but was only pretending. And Mom admitted the same thing, but told us both that the angels were real, they were really there, even though we couldn't touch them with our fingertips.

The angels, clearly, revealed themselves when it was important, and not when we desired that they do so. They were present when it counted, and although I've never seen my Angel, I am forever grateful for his perfect intervention, no doubt aided by my brother's own angel, and also my Mom's. (They're all in cahoots, you know...)

All of us have stories of childhood disasters, and many of us can see, as adults, the divine intervention that saved us. What is your story? Did it happen when you were a child, or did it happen to aid you in your parenthood?

A Cold Winter's Tale

One more story: Mom tells a tale about traveling with my brother and I in the winter. I believe she and our Dad were still married, but I don't recall how it was that we were alone. And I remember part of this night. We were caught in a Midwestern snowstorm, where there was nothing to stop the wind. Mom was scared, it was obvious, and she was praying, out loud, there in the car with us, for somewhere to go. We'd gotten lost and had to find our way to the interstate.

Out of the snowy winter darkness there appeared a gas station and a diner, and so Mom stopped, grateful, hoping for directions, willing to sleep in a truck stop booth if it meant getting home safely.

We were both very little, and I think I still remember the light, Mom's anxiety, and a very nice lady who welcomed us. She was a "down home" sort of woman, used to catering to truckers, but we were the only guests. She said that "something" had told her to keep the light on in case someone happened by in such a terrible storm. She fed us, she talked to Mom about many things, and did her best to make us all feel at home. And at one point, she told us it was OK to leave, and how to get to where we needed to go. Mom thanked her, and offered her money for the food, but the woman waved her was her pleasure. She'd been paid by being able to help.

So Mom packed us back into the car and we were on our way.

I don't know when this happened, but it was either the next day or maybe within weeks of the incident. She wanted to find the truck stop and the woman who had helped us, and she found what she thought was the spot, but it was closed down and clearly hadn't been inhabited in years. Mom drove to a nearby gas station or other business (I'm not sure) which was nearby and had been closed on the night of the storm. The person there told her that the place where we'd been had been nothing but a ruin for YEARS, and that it wasn't POSSIBLE that anyone had been there the night the down-home lady had taken us in from the cold.

Remind me to get the actual story from Mom...if I can get better detail, I'll tell the story here.

So...what's YOUR story? Com-box is open for business!

Theology and Heresy

So we survived our first weekend of class for second semester. Today I'm off, as I have to work next Saturday and have to work at an event next Friday, and let me tell you, I'm thrilled to be off today. I can start studying, and work on getting over this terrible cold that has been my companion for a couple weeks. Seriously, this stuff is going around. First you just don't feel well, but it's just a cold so you suck it up and go on with your life. And then you think it's gone, you are joyful, and you go about your life. The next day you get up sneezing and sniffling and realize it's BACK...or is it another cold? And then, in comparing notes with others you realize it's part of the pattern of this virus.

I should have taken time off work last week, but we had so much going on that I couldn't. And then it was a class weekend. So today...bessed rest. And studying.

Now...about our class.

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE our professors this semester! They are just incredible, brilliant, and wonderful human beings. Our New Testament prof pretty much endeared himself to our class through his own passion for his work and his huge beaming smile. I'm quite certain that his smile has disarmed a good number of people throughout his life, and it certainly set our class at ease!

Our other professor is teaching two courses, in Catholic Theological Tradition and Fundamental Theology . The first is heavy on philosophy, which many of us have never studied, but the material for that class is strongly linked to the next course, we we can see clearly the interrelatedness of the material. He's just wonderful, clearly loves what he is doing and yesterday came to lunch with a group of us, where some of our theological discussions continued. He, too, often wore a big smile and so clearly loves what he is doing. So of course, he endeared himself to us, too.

That's a wonderful thing for all of our profs to do; after all, we spend hours upon hours with them in a classroom. I have to say, that with this format I already feel like I have a stronger connection to these profs than I did to my undergrad profs, just because of the seamless hours in their company. To be clear, I loved many of my undergrad profs, too, but it seemed to take longer to get to know them.

Our workload is going to be brutal, though. These profs favor quizzes and tests, which involves not writing papers, but rather, studying...a LOT! And given that some of the subjects of our studies are things that we are not familiar with (ie philosophy), well, it's going to be tough.

It should be a very good Lent for us, then, I suppose.

Anyway, while we're learning Truths, we are also being exposed to heresies, including that of modern "Catholic" scripture scholars who have dedicated their careers to denying the Catholic understanding of scripture. So it is that we as Catholics have far more in common with conservative Evangelical scripture scholars than we do with most of those who claim to be Catholic. How sad is that!? And you know, now I know that it was Raymond Brown's theology (or lack thereof) that so utterly destroyed me in college. And if I find a Raymond Brown citation in any of the books in my home, it's going to be burned at the stake.

Perhaps as time goes on and I learn more I'll post some of his postulations to get around the truth, and include the scripture references that directly and obviously refute his ideas.

So to all of you out there, watch out for this guy. Like most dissidents he can talk a good game but he does it with both fingers crossed behind his back and a cheshire smile.

We NEED good Catholic education in this country, and throughout the world, but with "theologians" such as Brown, who happen to all have a stranglehold on curriculums affecting both Catholic and Protestant, it's up to we as individuals to arm ourselves. No one is going to do it for us.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Daylight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

A few years ago I met some good southern "boys" at training for my last position. They were from Georgia and we became good friends during the month our company made us spend in Arizona. Both were from the Atlanta area and recommended to the group of us that hung out together to watch "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" if we ever got a chance, as it has great scenes of Savannah. Well, several times it came on TV but it really didn't interest me, so I never took the time to watch it.

But tonight, my brain fried from a weekend of theology, and my channels limited by my recent cable downgrade to local-only, well, it was the only thing on. So I watched it. And you know what? I enjoyed the movie, and even saw the signature scene.

And thought of a few things to bring up with my Spiritual Director if I have one. (Must call him...I think the one I met with in November is it. Must get time to do this...). But I digress.

This is a movie set in Savannah, about a man who kills his gay lover. So the subject matter itself is actually not appropriate for children, so don't let them watch it. It also has occult content and truly shoddy crime scene investigation, which, I was happy to note, was not accidental but part of the story. And although I avoided this movie for a very long time, I have ALWAYS just LOVED the title.

As you note from the title of this post, however, I have somewhat modified the title, because I have my own dilemma of good and evil to discuss. And because I know Cathy and Terry love my stories, and because Adoro's brain is fried, well, it's story night. So sit back to read an Adoro Classic:

Daylight on the Training Ground of Good (me!) and Evil (the Captain!)

Several years ago, as you know, I was training for the Fire Department. And in fact, I'd been hired and had made it through several months of academic training. (And got PAID for this!). The last six weeks were at "the Tower" and this was the most unkindest cut of all. Because by then we were all flabby messes in comparison to how we'd been when we'd taken the test one year prior.

We were in good shape, but the brutality of the tower made everyone, almost, feel like we hadn't worked out in years. Much like I feel now when I go to the gym.

When I'd received the name of my Training Captain, I just cringed. At the time, my boyfriend of two years was a firefighter for the same department, and in fact, was the one who encouraged me to take the test. And when he'd told me who the captains would be, he gave me the scoop on all of them. And sure enough, I was sentenced to Captain B., known to his own peers and underlings as a Pompous * ahem *. Although my boyfriend used different words to describe him.

But it was what it was so I hoped to do well and fly under the radar. We got through the first week, pretty much so far so good...except that, on Friday, we had our first physical test. Completely solo, we had to pull the hoseline through a darkened building, using proper technique, open the window, point the nozzle out the window and "show water", in all streams, from a "fog" to a "straight stream." This latter can be would NOT believe the force of the water without experiencing it yourself.

Suffice to say that I am a short-statured woman and the force of the water weighed far more than I did, meaning that technique needed to supplement my own weight.

The beginning of the test went fine. I had to roll the hoseline in and was happy to be able to do this even somewhat properly, although my captain was already yelling at me to hurry up. I felt along the wall following the hoseline I'd hauled, looking for the window. Finally I found it and opened the latch.

The smooth cement floor beneath me was already wet from the previous two students, and for that test, we weren't in full turnout gear. Just our coats, SCBA, helmets, and gloves. The water was soaking my pantlegs, and as I stood to position myself to open the line, I realized that my shoes were not ideal on this wet surface.

For a moment I considered dropping to one knee, but, having opened the line in a standing position prior to this, I felt comfortable with the concept and the student before me had done the same thing. I was very much of the mindset, "If HE can do it, I can do it!"

Well, the guy before me apparently had either better tread or a drier floor beneath his feet.

Just as I aimed the nozzle and leaned into it in anticipation, simultaneously I opened the line to a straight stream (the most forceful stream of water - a fully opened line) as directed by the rear foot slipped.

I felt it going and tried to go with it in order to remain upright, and in the process, the force of the water caused me to jerk the hoseline upward. That force of the water turned me to my right and I opened the heaviest stream directly into the center of my Captain's chest!

He screamed a blue streak while I fought with all my might to get the hoseline back under control. He was screaming at me to shut it off (I was trying!), and I finally did so, although I'm not sure how. beyond the mechanical motions required in the task.

As soon as the water was off, silence reigned in that darkened training building.

I stared into the opaquely shadowed corner near the exit door, deafened by the baleful silence emanating towards me, just waiting...

Finally the Captain spoke, half-growl, half-yell: "Point that nozzle out the window and give me a straight stream NOW!"

I did as directed, and this time my feet did not betray me. The power of the water flowed perfectly as I willed, and I had no problem holding my position, advancing a few steps towards the window. He told me to reduce the stream to a "fog", and then to shut it off. I did as directed and set the line down when finished with the drill.

I had to approach him on the way out. I could hear him breathing like an angry bear.

My Captain was drenched and still fuming. He was so angry he was literally and visibly shaking.

"Did I fail?" I queried meekly, having to break that terrible, terrible silence. And I really did need to know if I should run quickly away!

I was certain I'd failed; I was quite sure that nailing one's Captain square in the chest with a straight stream was grounds for dismissal.

The Captain from Hell spoke through obviously clenched teeth. "Were you eventually successful at opening the stream out the window?"


"Then. you. passed."

It was very clear to me that those words were very painful for him to utter. That man did NOT want me to pass. It was the beginning of a vendetta, and he never got over it.

Really. Remember my rappeling story?

That afternoon I called by boyfriend and he asked how the first test had gone. I told him that I hit my Captain in the chest with a straight stream. He burst out laughing and I think he told the firefighter, a good friend of his,  sitting next to him. I think he was working at the time. When he came back to the line he said, "That's exactly what you SHOULD have done!"

Granted, I felt better after that.'s the dilemma I'm facing now. At the time, my intention was actually to do as I was told, and it was really a complete accident that the water attacked my Captain.

But, as soon as I knew I really had passed the test, I didn't feel bad about it. Not a bit. And in fact, I was a bit gleeful. As were my classmates, my fellow cadets!

 They described to me how they'd heard him yell and a moment later he'd come out of the training building, drenched and fuming.....well, let's just say that their description of the events from their perspective warms my heart!

I need to go to Confession, don't I? It's been a few years, and I STILL think it's hilarious!


UPDATE FEBRUARY 2010: I have long ago forgiven that Captain for being a jerk. And actually realized after the fact that he was the best friend of a man I briefly dated, one of the worst human beings in the history of the world other than Judas.  And although I've been working on charity and all the virtues, I can't find a good reason to NOT laugh at the above scenario. I hope my fellow candidates at that time recall the incident as fondly as I do..and hope further that they only wish they were the ones at the helm of that straight stream that caused such a ruckus.


All I know is that I wish I could do it again and this time, deliberately!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Letters from the Past

We started our 2nd semester classes today, and I already love our new professors. They're both brilliant and it will be weeks before I can actually absorb what we've learned so far.

And then I got home and checked the mail. I had a letter from my alma mater, and figured that it was more money-begging. But it wasn't. One of my professors is retiring, and the letter was from his wife, asking his past students to send him a letter, including a picture if possible of ourselves and our families, telling him what we've done with our lives since we graduated and how he affected them.

This is a wonderful idea, and I get teary just thinking about it. Imagine if you were a teacher or a professor and the students from up to 30 years ago wrote letters telling you how you influenced their lives, or even just discussed what you've done "since then". I imagine a lot of teachers wonder what became of their students...he gets the answer to that question.

I don't know yet what I'm going to write. Truth be told, he didn't really influence me that much, although I still remember him and really enjoyed his class. What I learned from him was of course instrumental in my early career and I was a veritable walking encyclopedia with regard to the state statutes and various opinions from Constitutional Law. But other professors influenced me more specifically.

At the same time, this is a hard call to refuse, because, as his wife stated, he's more interested in knowing that we've been living happy and fulfilling lives. This will be a surprise for him, which is why I'm not naming any names as I muse. I do think it's sad that he's's like an end of an era. I already know that if I were to go back, many of the profs I had would no longer be there.

And I have to also ask...will my letter to HIM influence HIS retirement? Would he remember me such that my letter would affect him like that of a student he likely knew well? Probably not. But I have to say, so often there is so little kindness in this world that even a small note from someone perhaps unremembered would be touching, to know that at least you had enough influence to have never been forgtten. That's a great way to end a career.

Of course I'm just a girl so prone to taking the emotional view. Guys...what do you think? Any teachers in my "audience"?

(As a disclaimer: What you say won't really influence my decision to write or not to write him...I will be writing. I just want your thoughts on the topic!)

Book Review

I have received a review copy of a book and asked to post a review on it for the enlightenment of whoever happens by. And as I'm a bookworm, whether I'm in class or not, well, I couldn't turn down such an offer! Although I'm remiss in that I'm late with this review.

I read Lent and Easter With Mary by Thomas J. Craughwell, who also authored Saints Behaving Badly. (The latter is also on my very long reading list...)

Many people are looking at this time of year for some kind of spiritual reading for Lent, and most of those people are looking for something that will fit easily into their daily lives. It is important during this season to take up a habit that can be perpetuated, and I bring this up for a few reasons, to be detailed below.

Lent and Easter With Mary reads like a devotional, which is the purpose. Each day has a particular devotion revolving around Mary herself, various apparitions, miracles, events in her life or Mary in art. As the back of the cover states, "It tells stories of the origins of Marian prayers and hymns, recalls great miracles...celebrates the lives of saints who were especially devoted to her."

Each daily devotion ends with a Marian prayer and the source, some which will be familiar to you, some which will be new. I could see this book as one proper to anyone who is looking to cultivate a deeper relationship with Mary, and for someone already well acquainted with her. After all, Lent is a perfect time to walk hand-in-hand with the Mother of Jesus as we approach the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Our Lord.

This book would also be good for those looking to truly maintain their Lenten devotions, for it carries the reader into the Triduum, through it, and through the entire Easter Season.

I can honestly say that even my more rapid reading of this book has aided me in knowing Our Lady more intimately. How much better would one come to know her through a more careful and purposeful reading of the text?

The book is published by Paraclete Press, and is locally being sold in many Catholic bookstores. (I've already seen it at my local favorite, St. George Books and Gifts.)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Global Warming!


This is Adoro comin' atcha from the balmy frozen Twin Cities Metro area smack dab in the middle of the upper midwestern Siberian Tundra!

Let me tell you, folks, it's been below zero for DAYS now, and, truth be told, the ice that paved our roads and sidewalks, highways and byways in December is STILL THERE causing treacherous footing and driving for all of us. You might think I'm kidding, but that packed ice has not melted, IN SPITE OF the early January thaw...because that supra-permafrost layer on the earth's crust is JUST TOO THICK to melt like that! And in fact, the "thaw" actually just made the ice smooth out a bit, allowing for a bit of ice skating and some street hockey so the local kids could get their ice skates out of their backbacks for some after-school fun.

But they've really gotta bundle up in all these sub-zero temperatures that have taken over our state. Here in the Metro area, we're talking -10 to -30 windchills for the next two nights, and daytime digits bearly breaking Zero degrees.

Today though, that was one for the Global Warming got ALL THE WAY up to 9 DEGREES! YEAH! I don't know about you-all, but I got out my shorts and headed on down to the beach to work on my tan! And you know, I had that beach all to myself! And truth be told, I couldn't tell where the beach ended and the water began, so I asked a couple of ice-fishermen to point me to the nearest lifeguard station. Because, God knows that I don't want to drown in all this snow!

The weather report says that up in the Arrowhead region, they can expect extreme zub-zero temps, throughout the day tomorrow, and likely beyond the weekend. And in North and South Dakota, our brothers and sisters are buckling down for a long winter's cool down.

Good thing this is Global Warming. I don't know how we can get through another normal Upper Midwestern Winter without all this warming going on. Make sure you lesson your carbon footprint, folks, because if you don't, the temperature might increase a degree or so. And for goodness' sake, don't have any more kids, because begetting life is so contrary to life it isn't even funny. Especially here in the cold zone where we huddle together to keep warm. Nope. We don't want any more warm bodies up here to raise the temperature!

Now, please excuse me while I go tune my skis and pack my ice fishin' pack...

Yup. Global Warming. Just another "reason" to kill children indiscriminately, and we still have to ask...who's next? Oh, right, the mentally disadvantaged and the elderly, and anyone else considered by the standards of inconvenience to the status quo.

Today is the historic day that the deceitful Roe V. Wade passed, the beginning of the great American slaughter of the Holy Innocents. And as much as the pundits might say, "I'm personally opposed to abortion..." they're sure as HELL not doing a lot to personally oppose it while their politics and parties do what they can to garner their campaign funds from groups such as Planned Parenthood, aka "Baby-Slaughters-r-Us".

The latest argument against life is the myth of "Global Warming." I still find it funny that the great adventurers who went out to "prove" Global Warming had to cut their trip short thanks to a typical Arctic winter. Much as that which we're experiencing here in Minnesota.

But let's talk about an INCONVENIENT TRUTH: babies don't cause Global Warming. In fact, most legitimate scientists completely abhor the theory.

Detractors will say that we Christian-typs are bad for the environment and don't care about it at all. Let me tell you, them are fightin' words; there's a good lot of us Christians who love to recycle, who drive cars that have good gas mileage, who love to recycle, who love animals, and gosh darn it, we LOVE this unfathomably beautiful world the good Lord has given us. And, gosh darn it, we love the children that God asked us as human beings to co-create with him, and shame on YOU if you don't see that children and humanity and the world mesh together PERFECTLY.

Global Warming is a fallacy. And if you're going to continue to believe the fallacy, then you are welcome to it..but don't you DARE to suggest that the related myth of "population control" from eugenicists such as Margaret Sanger and her ilk have any solutions for us.

The reality is this; every single child concieved and born is a gift of God to the entire world, causing the warming of hearts. Every single child slaughtered in the womb shatters the hearts and freezes the souls of all those involved.

Perhaps Global Warming would be a good thing.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Shattered Pieces

The other day, Jennifer F. had a great post up about the current-day tabloid story about the new Anna-Nicole: Britney Spears.

I heard the song "Piece of Me" today, and have to disagree with Jennifer F.'s take on it:

The one song that does speak to the trauma she's been through in the past year, Piece of Me, is still a hypersexualized track filled with gaspy "aaah"s and "ooooh"s.

I am not familar with Britney's music as I don't listen to hip hop. But today the radio was on and this particular song was named, so I left the station where it was, remembering Jennifer F.'s post, and really feeling so saddened by the comments made by the DJ's discussing "the latest." Before I go on, I'd like you to see some of the words to this song:

I’m Miss American Dream since I was 17
Don’t matter if I step on the scene
Or sneak away to the Philippines
They still gon put pictures of my derrière in the magazine
You want a piece of me?
You want a piece piece Piece of me…

You want a piece of me?

I’m Mrs. 'Lifestyles of the rich and famous'
(You want a piece of me)
I’m Mrs. 'Oh my God that Britney’s Shameless'
(You want a piece of me)
I’m Mrs. 'Extra! Extra! this just in'
(You want a piece of me)
I’m Mrs. 'She’s too big now she’s too thin'
(You want a piece of me)

I’m Mrs. 'Lifestyles of the rich and famous'
(You want a piece of me)
I’m Mrs. 'Oh my God that Britney’s Shameless'
(You want a piece of me)
I’m Mrs. 'Extra! Extra! this just in'
(You want a piece of me)
I’m Mrs. 'She’s too big now she’s too thin'
(You want a piece of me)

You want a piece of me
You want a piece of me

When I was a little girl, I decided at one point that I wanted to be an actress. And darn it, I was going to be a good one! Although I was shy by nature, I had a flair for comedic humor, I loved wearing costumes and found that playing a role was freeing for me. I could do anything or be anyone if I was doing it on stage. I wanted to sing like Barbara Streisand sang "Memory", and how Julie Andrews sang in "The Sound of Music." I used to dance "ballet" all over our livingroom while playing Mom's and Dad's records. This is embarassing, but I danced to "The Sound of Music" and Peter, Paul, and Mary's "Greatest Hits."

Um, yeah.

I was a clown, but you've never seen such a sincere (and shy!) clown in your life!

In Elementary school somehow I ended up in a group of "smart kids" thanks to a teacher who wasn't willing to let me slack; she was one who discovered the treasures I possessed, even though I didn't recognize them. And so that led me to the stage, where we put on a skit for the school, with hilarious results. I became a "star" that day, and my guess is that the very teacher we were honoring never forgot about it either.

In Jr. High, I tried out for a play, and was cast in one of the principal roles. I was so love with the theatre that eventually it lead me to Community Theatre, where, at the age of 15, I became "Annie" in "Annie, Get Your Gun." It was only for 2 weeks, until the real Annie could get there from her final tests. But it was Heaven to me, and I truly desired to act. I wanted to go to Hollywood. I begged my Mom to let me get an agent and do commercials.

She refused, telling me that no daughter of HERS would EVER follow such a path. No way. I argued and pleaded and no avail. The answer was "No."

Now, I've never been as pretty as Britney Spears, and I've never had her voice, but in her life, I see what I could have had to some degree...and I thank God every day for my Mother's wisdom.

The song "Piece of Me" on one hand sounds like a challenge to a fight, other times like a plea for freedom. She alternately plays the conquettish temptress, and then turns, mocking angrily. She is enslaved to the people who all want, and take, pieces of her, here and there. She has a family and is still working; no different than any other woman. So she is crying out against those who criticize her working when she has children. She has been in the spotlight since she was 17; and from that point, she's been surrounded by vultures taking pecks every chance they can get.

First it was the status of her virginity...that lasted a couple years, as I recall. Most people I knew thought she was lying. Then it was about her breast size: "They must be fake."

Over the years, it's been more and more- everyone wants a piece of her. She can't get away, she can't live a life of privacy. Every single piece of her is scrutinized and prounounced in the public forum. Whether she was a virgin or not. Whether her breasts were real. Whether she's a good mother. If she's too fat or too thin.

The message is loud and clear; Britney is a piece of meat. Why not take a slice? Everyone else is. Nothing is sacred.

And she knows it; her very SOUL is crying out for mercy and no one is hearing her.

And now the tragedy of her "glamorous" life unfolds before our very eyes. Is there any surprise, what has happened to her? Is it so shocking? After all, what she has been through would destroy ANYONE!

I was in tears this afternoon as I heard her lyrics, hearing her anger, hearing her agony, hearing the truth in her chastizement of those who continually chop pieces of her body and soul, bit by bit. How can there be ANYTHING left of her?

I don't follow celebrities; I don't know when it happened, exactly, but at some point I saw the truth of the world of theatre, film, and Hollywood, and I turned my back on it. Sure celebrities are cool, but what do they do but entertain us? I have my favorites, certainly, but I'm not interested in tabloid gossip about them. My interest is limited to their art, and maybe a bio if about them as a human being. But what has been done to Britney and those like her is an absolute crime.

You can use the argument that "She put herself out there." Sure you can. But just the same, her ability to perform does not give the public the "right" they have taken to tear all parts of her life to bits. The media is partially at fault, partially a pawn; for if the average everyday consumer out there wasn't clamboring for bits and pieces of their celebrities, the paparazzi would be out of work.

So I fault us all, the American public, for our decadance. For our inablity to leave well enough alone. For putting a price on fame, and that price is the body and soul of the one who does not necessarily chose it, but has it thrust upon them.

The best thing that could happen to Britney is for the world to forget her and let her heal. But that won't happen...the shark frenzy is just getting started, and it won't end until the headlines announce her horrible death.

That's just what happened to Anna Nicole. And name others...they aren't the first casualties of American pop culture, and they won't be the last.

And what is so sad is that Britney is a child of God. She is God's own daughter...and see how she has been treated, see how she has been used. See how she is being judged and ridiculed, see how the vultures are drooling for the next scandalous thing.

I don't think the world ever got to know Britney; they got to know an image, embellished it, recreated it, ripped it to shreds, and now stand in judgment over the destruction for which she is blamed.

And maybe now I'm a part of it as I'm discussing it here.

If I could meet Britney I'd tell her just one thing: That she is a child of God, and there is NOTHING anyone can do to take away her dignity as a human being. But I suspect Britney may never understand that again...because it seems there's nothing left of her but shattered little pieces that will require a lifetime of repair.

My prayers are with her.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


OK, remember how I downgraded my cable to basic only on Tuesday? Yeah. That was fine. And then on Wednesday, it wasn't working at all. So I called Comcast (the ONLY cable company in our area), and they came out on Friday morning.

The technician told me that they had to replace the cable wire, they can't bury it and so that will have to wait until spring when the ground thaws. That's completely understandable.

So then my service went out AGAIN as the cable was not working anymore as of Friday night. So I called for service, and they sent some techs out this afternoon. I think one was in training.

They told me it was a bad connection, they repaired it. Great. I thanked them for coming out.

It is freezing cold here in Minnesota and so certain areas are without service due to that, and then random homes here and they are insanely busy. I really did appreciate their coming out.

Well, just now my neighbor knocked on my door. We live in a townhome complex, and the outdoor cable box is at the corner of his unit. The top of it is off, the cable is strung over doorways and windows, and basically fluttering loose in the wind. (I did tell him about the inability of the company to bury the cable at this time.)

So he messed with the stuff on the end...and my service is officially disconnected again. Had he not done anything but tell me about it, it would have been fine. His cable service is still working!

So I called Comcast again, and got a guy who inanely repeated platitutes to me about the wires expanding and contracting in the cold, having to do with the bad or lacking reception. I explained AGAIN that I understood this, but there is a larger issue from the company's perspective both because of a need for more service calls to this unit, and also because any joe who comes along can now have access to the cables to each unit. (No offense to anyone named "Joe" who is likely a good and moral person.) For example, my neighbor, who should have left well enough alone, didn't. He didin't do anything to steal the cable, but his actions have caused a needed call to restore my service....again!

I told the rep that it's likely an easy and quick remedy, we know the problem is isolated at that box, I'm totally aware that I'll have servce interrruption for the rest of the winter because of the cable freely exposed to the elements. But there is a different issue that they as a company need to address. So they might send someone by.

Guaranteed that they'll fix the box issue outside but I'll still be without service. Which isn't a huge deal as I'll really only be watching the news and weather and random shows here and there. But then there's another service call, I'll have to be home for it in order to verify that my TV is recieving the signal, etc. It'll add up to time off work and time missed from the gym and anything else that requires that I leave my house.

If I had any regular analog reception at all, I'd just cancel the cable altogether and be done with it. But I get NOTHING but static, and behind the static, on ONE channel, some floaty images and staticky verbalizations that might be the language of the news anchors. Thus, I am forced to pay for cable.

And satellite isn't an option for me due to the placement of a neighbor's deck as part of the building design. But I'm so fed up I might look into it anyway the next time I'm considering getting more than local channels.

* sigh *

I'm so sick of this problem. Happily I have DVD's I'm watching and there was nothing on TV tonight, anyway, but I did want to watch the news and check in at EWTN which is included in the local package.

Ironically, I'm less concerned about an interrption in service, and more concerned about the need for the service calls because they so cut into my time that could be better spent doing anything but waiting for someone to come by my house.

Although if the next service tech is nice, maybe I'll give him a bowl of chili. For the most part, it's not the technician's fault (the last ones, maybe), but they're working hard on a Sunday when they shouldn't have to work at all, and likely dealing with a lot of cranky customers.

I'm just Agitated Adoro today now because my neighbor complained to ME, making ME have to complain to someone else, and because my neighbor is the proximate cause of my current lack of cable service.

* sigh *

Will you all pray for my neighbor? I'm too irritated. And pray for all the cable guys who really are scramblng to deal with stupid issues that shouldn't even be issues.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Sanctity of Marriage

Marriage has been coming up a lot in my life lately. At work and at my own parish (as both are Catholic prishes!), it's about the Cana dinner. Seriously, I wish I could get married just to GO to some of these! They make me feel very left out as a single.

Because, on one hand, I feel very lonely, a lot, as a single woman. Most of my friends and acquaintances are married, and I'm happy for them. But I can't really share in their lives. I'm always the one on the outside looking in. And I'm always on the cusp of something...eternal singlehood, futured married life, religious life. It's a neverending question. I'm in earthly limbo, forever the girl in the chapel with Jesus worrying about many things while outside, in the main sanctuary, people are constantly getting married and having parties. I'm always missing out.

For awhile, I considered religious life, and I'm not ready to close the door on that...there's more to be done. But more and more, I don't think it's the life God has chosen for me, although it's a life for me to support. And I can't see myself as an eternal single; it just isn't right, somehow. Although there's no one on the horizon, marriage seems the way to go.

In the last few days, marriage has been coming up in different ways in my life. First it was in the very witness of the holy married people I know, the example of their lives and dedication to God, in the parents and in the children. Secondly, it has been in the gift of life itself...children are beautiful! Twice in the last couple days, people have told me I'd make a good wife.

Yesterday, in talking to a fellow chaperone about ski racing, he told me about their son's recent race. His wife will never attend another; she complained that throughout the race, he was just on the very edge of control, and she was terrified the entire time. She doesn't want him to race. On the other hand, Dad (who was relating the story) had a differing opinion, "Right on, son! YEAH! That's my BOY!"

I laughed and commented, "She sounds like a real Mom!"

He agreed. I thought for a moment, wondering about my own attitudes. My impression of a mother is someone who does not want their kids to do something they (the mother) perceives as dangerous. A mother is a "mother hen" type of person; protective, almost or actually to a fault.

So I concluded that I wouldn't be a good mother. And I said so to my companion on the lift. "I'd be a terrible mother. If it was my child's ski race and I saw that edge of control, I'd be rooting all the way. YEAH! GET 'IM! WOO-HOO! YEAH!" ESPECIALLY if it was daughter.

I'd be a horrible Mom...rooting my child on in a dangerous sport. Make no mistake...skiing is a dangerous sport. But there's nothing like it in the world.

My ski partner, speaking from his experience as a Dad, disagreed with me; he said that what's important in motherhood is supporting one's children. Guiding, yes. In legitimate things, support what they want, not pushing what they don't. There's a balance. And he said it's completely proper for a mother to encourage her children in the most dangerous of sports, especially when the mother loves the sport as well.

He's right, of course. But a part of me thinks such is a betrayal, wanting my children to do dangerous things, no matter how much enjoyment that same thing has brought me. Watching my own child on the edge of control on a downhill course...and yet, I can't get past the pride I feel even as I CONSIDER the possibility of my own progeny in the gates!

What does this have to do with holiness? Acting according to God's will, accepting the trust God has for the children conceived in the marriage, allowing those children to act out of free will...and upon the same genes that allowed the parents to dream big dreams, too. Allowing oneself to be guided by God's inherent designs, prayerfully and with purpose...that's holiness in marriage. Giving up one's own will, and accepting what seems contrary...that is holiness in marriage.

I'm amazed by parents.

Just today, I had to help out at a workshop at the church, and my job was actually to do the cooking for the soup and sandwich lunch. That was fine, it went well. The custodian came in every so often for different things, helped out, made sure I could get into what I needed to access. And of course, we all invited him to partake in the food as we had excess.

He was happy to comply, and both he and a man coming in to set up for tomorrow's pro-life breakfast commented that they wish their wives would cook just for them. (I'm seeing a pattern here.)

Both were married men, retired, and dedicating their time to holy causes, and both obviously loved their wives. But both commented about cooking. There is definitely something about going through the stomach to reach the heart of a man!

And let me tell you...their good-natured compliments just based on how the soup smelled made me want to ladle soup into their bowls!

As I was cleaning up, washing the pans, ladles and trays, the custodian came in again, commenting that the cook was also washing dishes! He told me, "You'll make a great wife for some lucky man!"

His words just happened to echo the words of the man setting up for the pro-life breakfast.

I just laughed, waving him off as I continued to scrub the chili residue off of the big soup pot. A few years ago, I would have been insulted at the comment of perceived male oppression. Today, I took it as a compliment, wondering if it was true. Would I make a good wife? Would my work be for my husband, for my family, or would I stay wrapped up in myself as I do as a single? Because compliments in marriage don't last, and working together doesn't always happen.

I love the idea of being a good wife. I love the idea of having a good husband. I love the image of the Holy Family, and want to be part of it. I love doing things for others...when I had a boyfriend, I loved cooking for him. I would go out of my way to make him comfortable in certain regards, and thought it was FUN!

There is just something about offering oneself on behalf of others that is perfectly beautiful, and perfectly proper to the feminine state in life. Being "domesticated" is not a dirty word!

My biggest fear is that marriage will get between me and my relationship with God. I have read Slawomir Biela's book, "God Alone Suffices", found it a great read, and it made me realize the pitfalls of marriage and the heights of single life. God is present everywhere. As a single woman, all I have is God; if I get married, there will be another person to divide my affections. Then what? How to maintain holiness in the face of manliness and family?

So it is that I see a conflict between living the married life well and maintaining a deep prayer life with God. Ironic Catholic details that very problem, and in a way maybe you haven't seen expressed. It's a post well worth reading. I, for one, amd happy for the education.

The Black Robe

Last Monday, I watched the movie, "The Black Robe" (1991), written and based on the novel by Brian Moore.

This movie just left me cold. Granted, I actually had to divide my attention between this movie and something else I was doing at the same time, but just the same, the ending was not really an ending.

The movie is about a Jesuit priest and his young friend who go to the New World as missionaries to the Algonquit and Huron "indians."

On one hand, the priest, Father Laforgue, is welcomed, but with a strong undercurrent of distrust. In fact, the people call him "demon", and the shaman tries to banish him with dances and incantations. And the very people who promise to help him in the end, betray him; even his own companion.

I could see both sides cling stubbornly to their own ways of life, not willing to look at things from another perspective, not willing to go beyond their boundaries to even understand the other side.

Now, keep in mind, I use this terminology with care, for I myself once had a mind far too open for my own good, and it lead me straight to the demon and away from my Salvation. And yet, I am a person very prone to the legalistic side of things, to a fault.

As I watched this, on one hand I could see and understand why Father Laforgue would not "give" and why the people he was sent to evangelize would also not bend, so to this point the movie gives us valuable insight into human nature in the context of cultural differences.. But on the other hand, I can also understand better the need for proper missionary work; not to compromise one's beliefs, but rather, to be prepared to sit and listen, to understand prior to evangelizing, to remember that before Christ died for us, He became one of us.

What Father didn't do in the movie was to become "one of them." He seemed a sincerely holy man, but as prone to sin as anyone. His humanity was present and admitted in humility throughout the movie. And his love of Christ and desire to bring Christ to the people, likewise was sincere. So I saw no real anti-Christianity in this portrayal of his character. Yet what was missing was an important element; he was not willing to become one of the people. He did not seem interested in understandin them in order to seek to work within their beliefs, find what is common and form a foundation. To find their spirituality and speak truths to them that they could understand from their point of view.

I have a friend who feels very called to the mission fields, and goes every year to a camp on a reservation. She loves the Native American people and feels torn between doing what is exactly correct versus doing what will work to reach the children and families there. She has observed that the people are VERY spiritual; they have no problem believing in Jesus, they have no problem understanding who God is. But they are filled with superstition and attachment to their traditional forms of spirituality, which don't always merge with Christianity.

For most people, conversion is not intellectual; it is an action of the Holy Spirit that does not necessarily involve a great deal of specific knowledge, but rather, a change of heart and response to the very Holy Spirit who calls them. So it is on the reservation. They have to be reached on a very human level, and be allowed to come to God on their own terms. It takes time, and most importantly, it takes having rapport that respects their beliefs first and just welcoms them as friends.

I would love to watch this movie with my friend; I suspect her insights would be amazing, but I can't seem to remember to bring it up!

For those who haven't seen the movie, I don't want to give it away, but truth be told, there is no real climax. When the movie ended, all I could ask was an atheistic, "Is that all there is?"

And perhaps, that's the question that MUST be asked...for that is the very question that has lead ME into a deeper relationship with Christ. And perhaps that's the question that makes us all ask how best to bring Christ into a world that does not know Him and cares nothing to make His acquaintance.

Maybe we all wear black robes.

Apres Ski

You know, you've really pretty much gotta be insane to like skiing. After all, what do skiers do but spend time outdoors during the worst part of the year, drive icy roads, even amidst blizzards, to get to a ski area. And then spend a lot of time suspended in some of the worst windchills imaginable while a chair on a cold metal cable brings them to the top of the hill, or mountain (depending upon geographic location).

And at that point, while they are nearing the block of ice point of their body temperature, they point their two sticks (or platform, if they are a snowboarder) down the hill and increase the windchill even more.

And the equipment! It's an exercise in agony just to put the boots on, and requires inhuman strength to buckle the hard plastic, especially of racing boots. Those same boots that cause perma-bruising on the shins where you thrust your weight againts the tongue of the boot, which is effectively the "steering wheel".

And racers! Even more insane. They get into the wind-tunnel that is the starting house, sans jacket, wearing a speed suit, gloves, and helmet, and then turn between the sticks as quickly as possible, so as not to actually freeze to death by standing still.

Yeah. I LOVE skiing! And I MISS racing!

Last night I skied with one of the other chaperones, able to fulfill my desire to ski with someone better than I am. He raced in high school and college, we had a blast talking about the sport of insanity, and drooled watching a team rip through the gates last night.

I couldn't be my speed-deamon self, though, because I had to re-learn how to ski, the fine points of technique, and realized I didn't want to die while I was a chaperone. That would just be embarassing. So I worked on short-to-medium radius turns, correct positioning, etc. My technique was just awful. I couldn't get myself to stay forward, which isn't good; my skis were purchased for racing and they have a specific "sweet spot" that requires I be balanced over it just so. To let my weight remain in the "back seat" actually causes an unstable position, doesn't allow the ski to do it's work, and, especially when hitting compressions (which is where a hill flattens out quicky), lends to greater risk of being "ejected". And that's almost worse than just a regular crash! So last night I found that my abilities were coming back slowly.

Unfortunately, because of the cold weather, half the lifts were closed and in order to stay close to the chalet we spent most of our time on the biggest slopes, which were also the steepest. What I really needed was some time on the longer cruisers (intermediate slopes) so that I could have gotten my confidance and technique back. Although that might not have made a difference; the snow was like styrofoam and we all really had to "work" our skis. It's hard to get an edge into that stuff. Or once you get your edge, the snow grabs it and you STILL have to fight to do what want.

And I spent the entire evening in a slightly hypothermic state. Even last night, after I got home and went to bed, I just shivered under the comfortor.

But now I'm up, I'm drinking coffee, and about to walk the dog.
But least I got to go skiing this year!

Friday, January 18, 2008


This afternoon/evening I'm going to chaperoning a ski trip, and I've been looking forward to the experience.

Yes, in these frigid, frigid temps, I will be VOLUNTARILY outside. In the cold. Having fun.

Although I'm questioning my sanity just a bit, but not because of the temps; because of my equipment.

As you recall, I got my gym membership after I realized I can't fit into my snowpants. So I'm substituting windbreaker pants with more layers underneath, which I still suspect will be inadequate.

Back in November, I took my skis and boots to the ski shop to have my skis tuned (they needed more than just wax), and got a boot check done. This tests the bindings to ensure they release when they are SUPPOSED to release, hopefully preventing an injury. And ever since my time as a Ski Patroller, having had to treat injuries such as boot-top fractures resulting from binding release failure, well, I'm not wiling to undergo that kind of agony if I can prevent it through equipment maintenance.

But there is one thing I overlooked...I have not been wearing my boots around. This may not seem like a huge deal to you, however, keep in mind; my boots haven't been used in a couple years. That means they aren't "packed down". They do "pack" a bit in usage even the first time out, but in this cold it's going to take longer. The plastic is not going to be as flexible as I need it to be, and my ankles and shins are no longer conditioned to the pain that goes with proper skiing. I just put my boots on a few minutes ago....oh, the agony! I can barely put any pressure on the front of the boot before pain shoots up my leg! And my knees....oy, I'm going to pay for this!

But I'm going, I'm going to have a blast, even if I'm crying every moment.

And I'm really hoping that my boots pack down better than it seems. Besides, I'll be wearing proper socks (thin wool ones) which should make a difference.

I'm not looking forward to the pain...and praying that I can ski well in spite of it!

Thursday, January 17, 2008


"I'm beautiful, I'm talented, and gosh darn it...people LIKE me!" Apparently that's TRUE!

Because my dear friend Angela told me so! And I know it's true, and I love her too (I'm a poet!).

The 8 people I love, in no particular order:

Angela (My Cadandian book supplier!) But because she tagged me, she doesn't "count".
Cathy_of_Alex (please pray for her, she's having a rough time and NEEDS to know how much she is loved, by us AND by God. And, I know her in real life, she is what she claims to be and is a dear, dear friend.)
Father V. (My cyber-brother - I've adopted him. And he called me "cyber-sis" first!)
Ironic Catholic(I wish she was one of my professors!)
Terry Nelson (My spiritual slap in the face - in a good way!)
Cow Bike Rider (Because he reminds me why I so love being Catholic and...welcome him HOME! He was just recieved into the Church!)
Fr. Schnippel(A lot of people are choosing Christ because of him...)
Uncle Jim (One of my biggest supporters, behind the scenes. Not my real uncle, but I've adopted him and invited him to my next family reunion!)
Ray Marshall ( A stellar man who will give you the shirt off your back - or the books off his shelves - whatever you need if it will make you a better Catholic.)

And because I am completely disobedient to limits, here are others not otherwise named, not otherwise tagged, that I love and you need to know it:

Theocoid (He's a grad student too, working on permanent diaconate...pray for him. That's an ORDER!)
Tiber Jumper (Gotta love him...just a WEALTH of info, and it doesn't stop there!)
Anita Moore (I may have my job in part due to her prayers and support. And you all pray for this sister in Christ!)

OK, this could go on forever, so I'm going to stop at 3 extra. Doesn't this prove that there is no limit to love?

Define Irony

Life is interesting, isn't it?

Yesterday at work I made a comment to someone about something being a "Federal Offense". Of course, it was in jest. The last time I used that term was at my last job with reference to mail fraud. Yesterday's comment was a joke.

I got home last night, got my mail, and what should be there but an official "UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT" envelope with a big red stamp saying, "JUROR MATERIALS ENCLOSED".

Yup. I'm being called to POSSIBLY serve on a petit jury in Federal Court between September 2008 and August 2009. Likely with regard to SOMEONE'S Federal Offense.


Remember how I canceled my cable service (but for local channels) in order to pay for my gym membership?


Last night I got home from work and turned on the TV to watch the news/ get the weather report. I could get the digital cable menu through the cable box, but no channels at all. And my analog TV doesn't have good reception so I can barely see only 1 channel, and that isn't very good. I figured it might be a temporary cable problem so just watched static until I was satisfied and turned it off, went to bed. Now, mind you, they came out as promised on Tuesday to downgrade my service. I did not need to be home for that as it was only an exterior thing.

This morning, I still couldn't get a cable signal so called the company. We tried the troubleshooting process, no effect, so they have to send someone out. This time I have to be home.

And the next couple work days are not flexible for me; I am chaperoning a ski trip tomorrow night, and Saturday morning I have to be at a workshop we are doing for sponsors. These things are not negotiable.'s the irony: Remember I cancelled cable on behalf of the gym. NOW I have to cancel my Personal Trainer appointment on behalf of my cable!


But...this really isn't such a bad thing, I suppose. I have gotten hit with some of the stuff that's going around - a cold, have been under the weather since Sunday, so I've only lifted weights once, didn't work out yesterday, and will only do cardio tonight on my way home.

So perhaps it's best to delay my Trainer appointment, anyway. And tomorrow's ski trip will be plenty of exercise as I haven't gone in awhile, so it won't kill me to not make it to the gym.

Such is life.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Does anyone know where I can find the most reliable statistics on Mass-going Catholics, containing a breakdown on what percentage believe in the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist?

I'm preparing for a talk for early February, so any info/links you can provide would be extremely helpful!

Monday, January 14, 2008

More Than We Can Bear

I don't know about you, but I've often heard the tired old adage, "God never gives you more than you can bear."

Oh, right. That links in very well with the Prosperity Gospel, doesn't it? And in fact, the "adage" isn't even an official teaching! It's complete myth, much like the "teaching" that follows:

"Just pray in the name of Jesus, much like a Buddhist or magical mantra, and you're be fully delivered from your problems."


That's not how God works...unless, of couse, He chooses to. Because EVERYTHING is according to God's will, and is in accordance with with what is needed on behalf of our salvation.

Unfortunately, our salvation OFTEN depends dearly upon our suffering, for it is our very suffering that brings us to Jesus Christ.

The very idea that the Lord does not give us "more than we can bear" defies reality and is contrary to what scripture tells us. If this were true, then there would be no suicides, there would be no mental illness, there would be no Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or the like. The fact that these horrible things occurr are proof that God does, in fact, give us more than we can bear.

My own mother attempted suicide, (16 years ago in the throes of bipolar agony). My mother! One of the holiest people on the planet! And yet her suffering was too much to bear so she tried to end it. She could not bear her suffering.

Indeed, she was saved, so perhaps you COULD use the Lord's intervention for the great gift of her continued life on this planet. But that certainly doesn't very well explain the successful suicides of others' parents and children.

God does indeed give us crosses which are far too heavy for us to bear, He does this knowingly, and with purpose. Walking about cheerfully and pridefully proclaiming that we can bear our load as it crushes us to death does not glorify God; it attempts to glorify US.

It's as simple as that; by this statement, we glorify ourselves. We proclaim that we are strong enough to bear anything that the Lord gives us. Are we James and John, asking that we be set at the right and left hand of God? Do we know what we are asking by so pridefully proclaiming we can drink from the cup of Christ?

We CANNOT bear it, and Jesus knows it. Only Jesus can bear the suffering sufficient to redeem the world. And while we are called to unite our sufferings to his, it does not mean that we can bear what He did.

Here is what St. Justin Martyr had to say about this topic:

"The greatest grace God can give anyone is to send a trial which cannot be born with one's own powers - and then sustain that person with His own grace so he may endure to the end and know the true source of salvation."

St. Paul himself spoke of boasting of only his weakness, for that is where God is revealed.

Make no mistake...God does indeed give us crosses we cannot carry, and He does this so that His glory will be apparent.


** 1 Corinthians 10:12 (NAB) states:
Therefore, whoever thinks he is standing secure should take care not to fall. 6
13 No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it.

*** Other translations use varyingly terms such as "test" or "temptation". The context of this passage is in reference to SIN, not to the sufferings of life. You can see from the full passage - go read it - that St. Paul is admonishing the people to trust in God in times of temptation. This is a HUGE difference from the common idea that "trial" means "suffering". It does not.

We DO often have trials we cannot fathom, we cannot understand, and we cannot overcome. We DO, however, have the strength to overcome temptations, although often we have to go to God's own strength for we can do nothing on our own.

So while God MAY not allow us to suffer beyond our ability to bear it, our TEMPTATIONS are the point of this teaching.

I will concede that no matter how you look at this, we MUST go to God in times of temptation AND suffering, as in both cases, God's glory is revealed.

Personal Trainer

This morning I had an appointment with a Personal Trainer for a Body Age Assessment. I won't tell you the result. Suffice to say that in one area I was "average", which for women, is actually far beyond what most women accomplish.

But boy, do I have a lot of work to do! And part of the assessment was a discussion of what I've done in the past. As I have an extensive history of more-or-less elite level training (in the common sense of the term, not the Olympian connotation), well, the trainer could use that to tailor her discussion with me.

What's amazing is that she really taught me a lot, including about certain common mythology I learned from my LAST Personal Trainer at another club a few years ago! She also was able to be more specific, pointing out that certain groups of people have been trained, mentally, to work out anaerobically. Those groups include law enforcement (check!), firefighters (check!), and military. Because of the physical tests and tendency towards having to "sprint", we learn to push our limits, always looking to break down the next wall.

My previous training included serious anaerobic exercise. For example, for those who are local: I used to go down to Minnehaha Falls, where there are 3 long cement stairways descending into the valley, and one to the Falls themselves. I avoided that one because it was usually very busy. So I would, from the top, run down the smaller staircase, across the bottom along the trees, and back up the long stairway, (something like 172 steps or so). At the top, even though my legs were KILLING me and I thoght I was going to die, I'd continue to run. By the time I got to the small stairway again, there was oxygen flowing to my leg muscles again, and the decent down was further "recovery" time. Then the cross-country run across the lower field and burning run up the steps would start all over again. It was completely BRUTAL. But it worked!

In Law Enforcement training, which I forgot to mention today as it was 10 years ago, involved the same type of training, but geared more towards obstacles and strength training. We did have to run 1.5 miles up at Alexandria Tech that summer, but that was our longest event. The outdoor obstacle course was definitely harder; because in 5 minutes, we were doing the equivalent of running a mile and a half. (The qualifying time for the later was either 13 or 15 minutes.)

So! That means I have been conditioned to train anaerobically, which also means I don't need a lot of motivation to push myself. I need to be motivated to SLOW DOWN.

Interesting. I quite literally have to work on aerobic cardio workouts, which will NOT include the drive to which I'm accustomed to break down barriers. Wow. This is very new to me. It's a whole different mentality, but one that is proper for my current state in life. I am not likely to return to my previous types of training, although what I learned there can be tapped into at strategic points to do what it needs to do as I progress.

And yes, I totally intend to get back to the point where I can do 25 lb bicep curls!

Part of my new membership is this assessment and an hour PT session, which is scheduled for Friday morning. I'm looking forward to it! I need a refresher on the weights, need to learn a few other things, and, given this Trainer's level of knowledge and understanding of my own history, she'll be able to get me started on the right road.

Seriously, people, join a club. Work out. It is good for you spiritually as well as physically/mentally. And I can tell you from experience that once you begin your routine, those nasty chocolate/salt cravings decrease. Seriously! And what increases is cravings for things like cucumbers, salad, carrots, and MEAT! Mmmm....steak. It's what's for dinner!

I wish I could afford non-comp trainer sessions, but I may see if I can do it in a few months, just to keep me motivated and address my condition at that point. They are a luxury in one sense, but a valuable tool for serious fitness in another.

So...what are you waiting for? Your body is a temple...treat it right!


For months now, I've been lamenting my lack of discipline in...EVERYTHING. I remember when I used to be very in control of myself and my surroundings, didn't indulge in things just because I "felt like it", and so my current state of affairs has been quite concerning to me.

Yet the answer is so simple...such that I didn't even see it. It actually took a couple days of working out to jog my memory. (No pun intended!).

I have been undisciplined because I haven't been working out at the gym. It's that simple.

Back when I had a regular workout time, I was VERY disciplined in everything. I was more conscientious about my food, about what I drank (or didn't drink), about my time, everything. The only missing element then was actually God...he didn't get a lot of my time. But when I started going to Mass regularly again, I was actually still a member of a gym, and I was training for the Fire Dept. test. So I'd go to Mass, and as the club was so close to the church, I'd head out to do my Sunday workout. It was awesome, and became a regular routine. So it was that my spiritual life actually fit into and encouraged my physical training.

When I moved to my present home, I both didn't have the money or the time to go to the gym, so I dropped my membership. Besides, that club is now far south of me! And I figured that walking the dogs, then maybe running with them later would work out. I have dumbbells at home, and really thought I could keep up my discipline with regard to exercise on my own.

Well, I didn't, and because both of my dogs loved to pull at the leash, but for different reasons, well, running with them was out of the question. Unless I wanted to die by dragging.

Not so much.

Then, when I experienced my real conversion, I didn't get a gym membership because I wanted to go to Daily Mass and felt that this membership would cut into my spiritual life. So I didn't follow through.

Then I fell away from going to Daily Mass, and still, I don't often go anymore. Although that often has more to do with my crazy work schedule than anything else. Then again....often I don't go because I am not disciplined enough to go. In other words, I often don't put God first in my life, to the degree of choosing other things over daily Mass.

There. Does that prove yet that I'm not a Saint?

I've come to realize, though, that my workout time gives glory to God, in many ways. Because the body is indeed a temple of the Holy Spirit, and we are all obligated to take care of this gift. Because we need to "push" ourselves, and discipline in one area causes us to be more disciplined in other areas. If we become accustomed to pushing past our own wills through physical training, it follows that this same mentality will apply in, say, the spiritual life. Because while the medium changes, the thought process and virtue required is exactly the same!

Perhaps I will never get to daily Mass because I'll be in the gym at that time, then have to go home and study. However, perhaps it will happen that my time will be used more wisely, which will lead to better sleeping habits (and better sleep!) which will help me to be able to get up earlier and attend 6:30 am Mass.

At this point, I've come to realize that not having a gym membership might well be the worst thing I could have done to myself...because that has been my anchor. Having a spiritual life SHOULD be my anchor, but it hasn't been...because it's somewhat intangible. I'm still human, and I need those things of the world to make me face my mortality and frailty. It is this recognition of my own weakness that drives me to seek God because it is ONLY in our weaknesses that we will EVER find Him.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Art of Falling

The art of falling art. Really.

Over the years, I've become quite adept at falling over. In fact, in my high school, I even managed to fall UP every single flight of stairs, no matter how small. And in college, while I was only slightly less klutzy, I managed to slide down the steps from Heffron Hall, on my butt. All the way down. I'm not sure if there were witnesses or not. Most likely, if there were, they were trying to stay on their feet and had no time to worry about whether I was on mine. After all, that time, it was the ice falling from the sky in torrents that was the cause of the lack of footing!

I have learned that skiing has aided me in the art of sudden-attacks-of-sprawling-on-the-ground-without-warning. After all, one of the first lessons you learn as a skier is how to fall. And the learning curve itself causes one to crash every so often, and a good skier learns his or her proper falling side, where the fall can be controlled the best, or, if forced to land on the "bad" side, the skier learns to adapt quickly to the changing conditions.

Lately here in Minnesota, we've had a January thaw, which caused our significant snow to change back into water. While this is a glorious occurrance that has cleared INCHES of ice from the sidewalks, it has left an unfortunate and deadly after-effect.

There are certain areas in driveways, on roadways, and select spots on sidewalks and paved trails, where the water has smoothly frozen over. This is bad enough when it can be seen and avoided, or at least crossed with caution. But when it is covered over with a thin dusting of light snow, well, that's where it becomes deadly.

And that's where the art of falling comes in. You see, you have to understand WHEN to go ahead and fall, versus when to fight gravity in order to remain on your feet. It is a very delicate balance, the proper use of which can actually prevent a serious injury.

Last week as I walked down the driveway on what I thought was a "dry" spot, I found myself sliding, and recognized immediately that the battle was lost before it was begun, so went with it and landed in a kneeling position, still holding my dog's leash.

There was some dignity spared, therefore, because as far as the oncoming car using our cul-de-sac to turn around knew, I was just kneeling to tie my shoe or pet my dog. There was no obvious fall, no matter how suddenly this event had occurred. So you see, that's why this is an art form.

Today, however, was a different type of sudden event. I was, again, walking my dog (because no one in their right mind who did not HAVE to be out on these treacherous paths would be there for any other reason!). All was well, though. I was listening to my music, the dog was happily sniffing the snow banks on either side, and we were moving at a nice clip.

Until I placed my foot down through the deceptive layer of powder...too late to keep my other foot on solid ground. An odd dance commensed as I struggled to keep my feet under me, actually uing the dog's leash as a sort of wobbly anchor. Every so often her propensity to pulling saves me from some disaster. But today, it wasn't so useful. After a comedic interlude much like something one would have seen in Tom & Jerry cartoons, I realized that there was naught to do but go with gravity. And I gave up the fight in order to NOT fall backwards.

I landed on my left side, the impact of which confused the dog such that, although I had let go of the leash upon my collision with the ground, she went nowhere. In fact, she'd even left off her sniffing, which is a big deal for a German Shepherd! Athough she didn't approach me, exactly, she DID stand still and look at me curiosly, ears pricked forward, as though to ask, "What are you doing THERE!?"

Of course, as I carefully got to my feet and turned us around, her own paws were slipping on the ice. But she has the benefit of being able to walk along the edges where there is some purchase on the ground. How cleverly dogs are built, even more so than humans, to adapt to the world we have built up to accomodate us. Unfortunately, our "accomodations" often cause more harm than good even in the most simple circumstances.

So, realizing that there was more hidden ice, but I knew not exactly where, and not caring to repeat the experience lest I do finlly blow my knee out (it's a matter of time, and I'd rather it happen in a dramatic way - like in a downhill race so that there is some glory with the catastrophe), we turned around and went home.

Again, I'm not certain if there were witnesses or not, although the next person along that path will see the evidence of my fall, and hopefully avoid the same problem. God be with anyone who travels that treacherous path through the park.

One day I must summarize the different types of falls, including genus and classification, even in Latin terms for further scientific credibility.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Justice and Mercy

One of the best movies ever made must be "The Gods Must Be Crazy".Have you ever seen it?

I haven't seen this movie in a couple of years, but even now, sitting in my livingroom, I remember that my Dad introduced my brother and I to it. And I can still hear him laughing. And I'm still laughing, too. But now, there's a new element...theology.

First we meet the little Bushman and his family, and their idyllic life. They have no technology, thus live only according to the law of nature; because there is nothing else to disrupt that. It is the introduction of technology, in the form of an empty coke bottle, that throws their lives into an uproar, and, in theological terms, reveals the reality of original sin. Human nature, being what it is, turns their world nasty in a hurry when there is something to cause division.

So he goes off on a quest to rid his family of the "evil thing" that has brought such strife to their little society.

Next we meet the young woman who is sick of technology and just looking for a little simplicity. She was raised in a sterile concrete world, far from the earthy reality that she is seeking. That leads her to Botswana to become a teacher. You must that a GOOD idea?

And we meet the Biologist and his buddy, the Mechanic. The biologist, working on his PhD thesis, is quite intelligent and well spoken...until he is in the presence of a lady. And the mechanic...well, he is the trash-talking guy who would be comedy relief, but ends up being an anchor in a world suddenly turned ridiculous.

Have I mentioned that I love this movie? I love how the little Bushman approaches the world with unwavering logic, and suffers as a result of his matter-of-fact perspective. My budding theological mind has suddenly grasped a concept of justice and mercy which has, previous to this, gone unrecognized.

Those of you who have seen this movie will remember the following part: the Bushman, on his great quest to rid himself and his family of the Evil Thing, comes across a herd of goats. He's never seen goats before, but they look tasty enough, so he goes about the process of catching his dinner. It's the most natural thing in the world!

The shepherd boy shouts at him in an untelligible language much like monkeys or squirrels. So the Bushman simply waves, smiles, and tells him he will share the feast with him. After all...he can't eat it all and his way of life would dictate that he share his repast even with those he does not understand. It's all very simple. His is a very generous and hospitable soul, and he knows nothing but humility. I can tell you that, if I was greeted in this manner, even if I didn't understand what he was saying, I'd be drawn into sitting at his fire. The Bushman just exudes such a spirit of welcoming, even in the face of what is considered to be an illegal act; and it is his very innocence that causes the juxtaposition between it and a crime of civilization.

Instead, the shepherd boy is very rude and runs (bikes, actually) away, and gets the police. The Bushman is building a fire when the police arrive with the boy, and since there are more guests, he welcomes them, smiling, not moving. According to the natural law to which he is accustomed, he is doing nothing wrong. So it makes no sense to him when the cop picks up the goat and throws it on top of the truck; the Bushman thinks that the man is very rude and greedy. So he takes the next logical step...and tells them that now he will have to shoot another goat so that he can eat. He sees no conflict with having to hunt again so that he can eat; he's only shocked at the rudeness of what he sees as he guests.

Well, for his logic, he is shot and imprisoned, and can't eat. He's extremely compliant, polite, and docile to what is happening to him. His innocence is so excruciating!

And in the scene where he sat in his cell, staring out the window, I cried to myself, "This isn't justice!"

The bumbling biologist and the trash-talking mechanic (who speaks the bush language, which is a series of clicks), agree. This is not justice. This little guy is going to die in such captivity. It is contrary to his dignity as a human being. He was not created to sit in prison, and really, has committed no crime. Not according to natural law. Not according to his understanding of the world. This is a very law-abiding citizen of the world, if he only knew the rules.

Now enter the theology...that's exactly how God sees us. There are those who are given a great deal, and with that gift comes amazing responsiblity, and understanding, and, unfortunately, tendency to pride. Then we have those who have been given little, but in their smallness and their poverty, they are so wealthy! This is the Bushman and his family. Their simplicity is, in actuality, great wealth!

From the Christian perspective, certainly, the Bushman is a pagan. After all...he is talking about gods and giving an evil thing back to them! Yet, he and his family are living according to a very natural, peaceful law, which does not interject themselves between they and God. There is no contraception. There are no tools. There is no technology, and no need for a president or political system. It is them in their corner of the world, not even knowing that other people exist. In the movie, the Bushman's first meeting with other people makes him think they are gods.

It is the "civilized" world that brings such a man to a jury trial and sentences him to what is equal to or worse than death. When taking his experience and understanding into perspective, is it proper to sentence such a person according to laws written for "civilization"?


This is how God sees all of us! We are held responsible for that which we understand and which has been taught to us. If a pagan bushman who lived a life according to what we see as Christian principles, but devoid of the name of Jesus (for lack of knowing who He is) dies, would God truly reject him from His divine presence? Is that justice? No! That is not justice. As the words of Our Lord indicate, if, we, who are sinful, know what to give our own children, does God not know what to give us?

So, if we, as sinners, can recognize such injustice, can we not understand that God has a much greater understanding than we do? If we can see that injustice exists in this situation here on earth, how does that influence how we understand the judgment God subjects all of humanity to at the time of our death?

I believe that pagan bushmen will enter Heaven before people like you and I will. Jesus himself said this very thing.

Justice takes circumstances into account. Justice cannot exist devoid of Mercy, and Jesus Himself has taught us this. God Himself revealed this to us through the Old Testament....for all those out there crying for "Justice", if they were faced with Justice devoid of Mercy, they'd be crying ONLY for Mercy. True Mercy cannot exist without Justice, and Justice cannot exist without Mercy.

And neither exists without Reason.

Reason was not applied in the case of the goat-killing bushman. Thus, there was neither Justice or Mercy.

This movie is a great one for philosophical and theological minds. I'd love to watch this movie with a Biblical Anthropologist, a Theologian, and a Philosopher. I'd supply the wine and cheese (or pizza and beer, etc.) just to sit on the side, listen, and take notes!

I'd also love to watch it with someone versed in Theology of the Body. Take the prissy teacher (Kate), for example. On one hand, while she's understandably (and quite wisely) on guard, at the same time, she also seems to be terrified of dirt and willing to accept the role of "damsel in distress" even in the presence of the man she considers to be a threat. (The bumbling biologist). And when he trips and throws her into the water, while she still tries to hang on to this model, she rapidly realizes that it's better just to realize she's suddenly become a part of an unplanned wet t-shirt contest that no one is watching, sucks it up and, with great irritation, gets on with the business of surviving in the African bush.

The poor bumbling biologist is actually the nice guy, a very unlikely hero, and has the UTMOST respect for women. Such that, when he is called to literally rescue the lady, he is faced with his worst fears...actual contact with her! And he has to save her from a plant which has no regard for her modesty. Which leads him to have to assist her out of the "fallen" (in the biblical sense) plant. Even though she is in only her underwear, she demands that he "not look", so he finds that he has to resolve her problem through glances at where the plant has caught her, while avoiding actually gazing upon her. His embarassement is palpable. And as a woman, I can say that HER embarassment is palpable also to me.

To add to the plot, she thinks he has previously come on to her in a major way, likely feels she is at risk of being raped. And this poor guy doesn't even want to be there! He has no interest in doing anything but showing the lady respect...and he does anything but. Because he is a klutz surrounded by weird circumstances.

I could go on, but suspect that in the last few days, I have bored my regular readers. And I further suspect I'm boring you all now. If you're still reading, that is.

But I REALLY hope I have not bored you all out of watching this movie. These days there aren't a lot of movies rellly worth watching. But this one is worth it. It's a good clean movie with lots of topics for discussion, no matter what your viewpoint or affiliation.

Maybe I should watch it again in a year and see how else it could be theologized?

NAH! Sometimes a good movie is just a good movie.

"The Gods Must Be Crazy", though...that one's great for simple entertainment AND intellectual discussions.

Anyone...your thoughts on this movie?