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Sunday, August 31, 2008

The August 2008 Siege of Orissa

All the "rage" locally is with regard to the coming political convention. And yes, it's important, it's an election year. And the local "anarchists" are being arrested and there's a great deal of outrage about it, claiming the police are abusing their civil rights.

All this while their police look on and do nothing to stop it. Quite literally, the police stood and watched while "groups of Hindu extremists" gang-raped a nun. I have been reading Catholic and Christian news services, but their articles are rarely, if ever, carried in secular venues. And I've been horrified beyond horror at what's been happening...and the resounding silence of TV has made it even worse.

Thanks to Terry at Abbey-Roads2, I have found a new blog to watch, Orissa Burning. Get the REAL info, the stuff the media won't bother to cover. Why should they? It's not happening here in the US, and of course, it's not as if this country isn't made up of people from other nations, some of whom are Indian. So it's not as if this kind of violence affects US! Oh, no!


You and I know darned well that if it were Christians doing these things, the media would be ALL OVER IT! But NO! Because it's Hindus. They must be a protected class...they can do what they want, burn people alive, destroy orphanages, and rape nuns, but apparently this isn't newsworthy.

We have a couple of Sisters from India at my parish, and this morning at Mass, considering the violence in India, I began crying, trying to understand why God allows this. Yes, I know the theology, but I can't figure out how He could allow His Brides to be so violated by so many men, so violently. I can understand why He allows violent persecution...the same thing happened to early Christianity, and has continued to happen throughout history. Christians were brutally murdered, and we know that the blood of the martyrs were the seeds of the Church. And we know that in places where our Faith is so violently persecuted, it also grows very strong.

But GANG RAPE? I can't imagine anything worse. I'd rather be burned alive, flayed alive...anything but THAT! Do you see what a horrible violence that is? It's not just invading one's most intimate and private damages the soul. Women who have experienced rape experience a trauma unlike that of any other. It's not being beaten, or a broken bone, or even cancer. It's rape. It's the closest thing to Hell on this earth. There is NOTHING more awful. There aren't words in ANY language to describe the horrors of rape.

And for this unspeakable crime to be suffered by the most innocent of people....I have only tears, for words can't convey the depth of suffering. Words are trite.

And in Orissa, it's even worse and "just rape"...for those who are supposed to be there to protect them are standing there in their badges and looking on, unconcerned at the physical, sexual, and spiritual violence being done before their very eyes. One article speaks about how a priest, apprehended by the mob, was ordered to "have sex with" the Sister, because they claimed, "priests and nuns do it!"

It seems he continued to refuse and continued to be beaten even more in lieu of visiting this deepest and most atrocious violence upon someone who was likely a friend. How awful for them both, how he must have been trying to avert his eyes, how she must have stood there, probably naked or nearly so, covered in slime, violated, humiliated to her very soul...

And we hear very little, if anything, about it in the secular media.

If this was happening in the US, if even for an hour, it would be all over the international media outlets. It would be quashed.

But because it's India, it's apparently unimportant.

The truly sad thing is...this kind of violence is happening in other countries as well, perhaps more quietly. But we don't hear a lot about the Sudan, either, and this kind of violence has continued to happen there for YEARS.

Please pray for our brothers and sisters in India, and throughout the world. This HAS to end!

As we go about our daily lives here in the U.S., we practice our faith, we celebrate Labor Day, we sport images of our faith on our cars, on the windows of our homes, on the jewelry we wear, and in the words we proclaim. And we are safe. And although I am a woman living alone, I can't say I particularly fear that a gang of extremists will happen upon me and attack me. As I write, my home is wide open to admit the breeze...and I am not afraid.
I have done nothing to merit this safety. My sisters are being violated, and even though by our country's standards I consider myself to be poor, I have more than I need, including an expectation of safety. A presumption of safety.
They don't have that in Orissa. They are fleeing to the jungles, they are hiding out, they are suffering in ways we can't imagine...and as a country, as Catholics...we're ignoring them.

In India, such transparency that we enjoy in our practice of Christianity isn't just a physical death sentence...for women, it places us in a position to be gang-raped by violent extremists.
I thank God I'm in America...and I pray to God that those women who have given their lives to Him, and the violence done to them converts the very mobs that have done so much to destroy them, body and soul.


I can write no more about this...the tears won't allow it.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Why I Write

In every century, there have been people who write. We are compelled. We can't exist without writing. And now in the age of technology, we have blogging, an entirely new verb. And noun. Depending on how the root term "blog" is used.

In any case, as I've been reading St. Augustine for class, I came across a gem that perfectly offers my mission statement. I may add it to my sidebar.

"To whom do I tell these things? Not to you, my God, but before you I tell them to my own kind, to mankind, or to whatever small part of it may come upon these books of mine. Why do I tell these things? It is that I myself and whoever else reads them may realize from what great depths we must cry unto you. What is closer to your ears than a contrite heart and a life of faith?"

~ St. Augustine


Don't You Judge Me!

We've all heard the trite, perfectly-packaged statements that are designed to cast us into silence and seal our mouths shut. The statements are designed to make us feel ashamed so that we'll say no more, especially if what we're saying is contrary to someone's near and dear opinion that normally has something to do with permissiveness.

Sorry...was that harsh? And reality check...I'm not a bit sorry for saying it.


Yup, that's the word. That's the statement. Other variations are, "We can't judge." Or my personal related favorite: "What would Jesus do?"

I got that inane comment early today on a different post. Because, of course, we all know that Jesus was a warm fuzzy teddy bear that just made everyone feel good about themselves. (Aside: Do people ACTUALLY BELIEVE THAT?)

So, maybe it's time to discuss what judgment is...and what it is not.


We all make judgments. We have to. If you are breathing, you are making judgments. Right now, YOU, dear reader, are probably making a judgment about what you think I'm going to say, whether you agree with what you think I'm going to say, or whether you disagree, and in fact, I'm guessing that you're already preparing to comment upon or refute what you think I'm saying, as opposed to actually reading my words.

Sound about right?


So, let's talk about judgment. We make judgments every day, from the inane to the important. We have to judge what is proper to wear, what is proper to eat, what is proper to say in greeting to the guy at the DMV. We have to judge what we are going to do in any given situation, because we know the difference between right and wrong. We know, for example, that as much as we might want to run the red light and think we'd be justified in doing so, that the action would be wrong; not just because it's against the law and there might be consequences if we are caught, but because our action may hurt someone else.

That's a judgment.

And when we see another car run a red light just as we're about to venture into the intersection, and a crash is narrowly avoided, we certainly have the right to peel our feet off the brake and declare that the other driver that nearly got us killed was in the wrong. It's a clear cut situation. That right or wrong is objective; it's outside of us. We don't get to arbitrarily decide that the red light is optional or not necessary or that we're more important than everyone else and they should stop to clear a way for us. We'd all agree that if someone runs a red light, they're in the wrong.

That's a judgment. The kind of judgment we make every day, and we do it for our own survival. But there's more; sometimes we have to make judgments on behalf of others who perhaps aren't able to do so on their own. Such as our children. Ask any are constantly making judgment calls for your children, rather than suggesting that their decisions and lives are morally ambiguous. And you teach them, over time, to know right and wrong so that they don't get hurt, so that they become good citizens, good Catholics, good people...making good choices.


We all have to recognize that there is an objective Truth, something outside of us, something against which to measure our decisions. For if that "yardstick" is absent, how can we know right from wrong? Just because a vote is taken by society to vote something good or not good?

That kind of moral ambivalence, sadly, is what pervades and is destroying our society, and even our Church. And because this is a Catholic blog, I'm going to address this with regard to Catholic teaching, although what I'm saying here, consistent with the universality of the Church, applies to EVERYONE.

Let's take the idea of liturgical abuse. We all know that the Mass has certain rubrics that must be disregard these rubrics means that the Mass could be rendered invalid. Or irreverent. Or just plain...weird. And that happens. I know of a local parish that has the lay Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion line up on the altar BEFORE the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God), and they are given a consecrated host, and they elevate it with the Priest...and then they self-communicate. (In this parish...I don't think the lay ministers are GIVEN the host...I believe they TAKE it themselves as would the Priest.)

Now, this doesn't render the Mass invalid, but this is a SERIOUS abuse. Since I know that this happens at that parish, I won't attend Mass there unless I have no other choice. Yup...I just made a judgment.

I have a friend who recognizes the abuses and just tries not to look, and only goes there occasionally for specific purposes. She knows that what's happening is wrong, and she is VERY uncomfortable with it. She is a VERY faithful Catholic. Yet, about this abuse, she has said to me on more than one occasion, "We can't judge".


This is an objective judgment:

1. There are rubrics to the Mass, found in the GIRM for thos interested.
2. If people are taking actions contrary to what is written in the GIRM, or in complete disobedience to this document....they are doing something wrong, ergo...
3. We can judge that the actions happening at that Mass are liturgical abuses and need to stop.

In that judgment that we have just made, have we judged the people? No. We have judged their actions, comparing the actions against an authortitative document that spells out what is correct and what must be followed.

And consider my friend; although the words, "We can't judge" passed from her lips, didn't she judge? Didn't her conscience TELL her, making her cringe and physically close her eyes? That was a judgment...and a proper one. Because she knows right and wrong and what should be juxtaposed against what isn't happening.

But what about life issues?

Consider this scenario: You have a friend who is caring for an aged relative. This friend has put their entire life on hold to care for this relative, and then one day when you're having coffee, says, "Well, Aunt Helga isn't doing so well and I'm kinda tired of taking care of her, and she doesn't like anything I cook, and has no quality of life. And her mind is gone, with that Alzheimer's, you know. So...I'm not going to feed her anymore. That way she'll die a natural death and I can get on with my life without all the inconvencience."

If you're've just made a judgment. If you're in favor of've just made a judgment.

And if you're reaction is "Well, we can't judge", my reaction to YOU is...then you've lost touch with reality. ESPECIALLY if you have reacted to that story in any way.

We sure CAN judge, and it is our MORAL OBLIGATION to make these kinds of judgments!

Yes, you can quote scripture at me all you want about "not judging others". I know the verses, too. And so did Satan. He was an EXPERT in scripture, as you might recall.


We are not allowed to judge the SOUL of another, no matter what they have done or what we think they have done. We can't declare, "So and so is going to Hell for what they did." We likewise don't have the authority to judge whether someone has gone to Heaven. What if they didn't? We can't possibly know that. And it's not our place to make that decision.

But we can definitely look at what is objectively true and declare what does or does not match up against Truth. For example...Nancy Pelosi has revealed her ignorance of Catholic teaching and thus we have a right to declare that she is not, in fact, capable of calling herself Catholic. Maybe she was baptized Catholic, maybe she was raised Catholic. But if her beliefs and conduct don't match Catholic teaching...well, then we can surmise that she's left the Church. Fine. She has that right.

With regard to the term "Pro-Choice". Sure. In political parlance, that means that they support the "right to abortion." There's one problem with that; abortion is murder, and no one has the right to commit murder.

Let's say I'm married, and of course, that would mean my husband and I are "one flesh". I see this term used even in secular/civil marriages that do not have the sacramentality of marriage. But it's universally believed, and recognized by the law that the "two become one."

Well...I guess, if I follow the logic of the "Pro-Choice" crowd, if my husband is an inconvenience to me, for whatever reason, well, then I can just eradicate him. Why not? You can't judge me for it. You haven't been walking in my shoes. And for those who aren't married...who are YOU to say that I can't kill my husband? We're one flesh! We own each other and I have a right to do what I want with his life!

Such an argument is ridiculous, isn't it?

But...I'm entitled to that opinion. Maybe I'm not right, but you have no right to judge whether I'm right or not.

And the baby-killing crowd, they might "personally believe" that abortion is wrong, but who are they to "judge"? That's probably the biggest reason people declare themselves "pro-choice". Not because they're for killing children...but because they haven't thought it through.

Their position is one of silence, and, folks...silence gives consent. And by this silent consent, one is made a party to a murder. If a friend comes to you and wants an abortion, or to kill her husband, and you remain silent, and your friend goes share in the culpability of an intrinsically evil act. In a murder, you'd be charged as an accomplice.

Abortion is no different; just because it's legal doesn't mean the moral law changes. The moral law that guides us all in our judgments.

You can choose to ignore moral law. You have free will and a right to reject Truth. But don't you DARE tell me I can't judge. I can and I will and I have a moral obligation whether you like it or not.

And if you're going to flame this post, you'd darn well better have something to say other than the same old relativist tripe quoted in all the message boards. Or you'll be summarily deleted. I don't have time for empty arguments and trite slogans that follow the lack of reasoning of "you can't judge" and "what would Jesus do?"

Tomorrow's gospel reveals a Jesus who tells you EXACTLY what He would do and this is what He said:

MT 16:21

“Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me.
You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

Then Jesus said to his disciples,
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit his life?
Or what can one give in exchange for his life?
For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory,
and then he will repay all according to his conduct.”

Do you want to know what a Christian is? Read the above description...and make the right judgments. You'll be held responsible for all of them.

Let the flaming begin. But let me remind you: if you are about to say, "Who are you to judge", then you should keep your typing fingers to yourself...because that statement is a judgment.

I await. To remain or delete, I don't know. I haven't judged yet.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Create In Me a Clean Heart O God

Create a clean heart in me o God
~ Psalm 51

Today is the Feast of St. Augustine, a Saint that has been very special to me for a very long time, and, in fact, he's special to many people. Everyone may have their own reasons, but I suspect that most would cite this terrible sinner who continued to respond to God's grace. He was a great intellect and has contributed much to our faith and to the world. And now he interceeds for us, for we all get mired down in sins. For class this semester, we are reading "Confessions", and each time I read this book, I see more, I understand more, and I have more hope.

I think back to my “big” Confession of 12 years, the one I had delayed so long in part because I was not convinced of my own “steadfast spirit.” In being catechized through EWTN, I knew that I had to have a “firm purpose of amendment” and I questioned this, for I didn’t know how to get out of the life I was living at the time. I was truly struggling. It was purely God’s grace that got me to Confession and held me in the line until I could finally approach the priest.

And I told him, in between my sobs, that I had waited so long because I didn’t think I had a firm purpose of amendment. I knew that I would leave, and return right back into the depths of my sins. I didn’t want to do that, I wanted to be clean. I wanted to be pure. I wanted God. I didn’t think I could be forgiven, and I stood there that evening, saying that to the priest, yet not in those words. But he understood, perfectly, what I couldn’t convey.

Even now, I struggle at times with this idea, with habitual sin. We all do, to some degree or another. The problem is that we become quite comfortable in our sins, and even if we recognize them as sins, we sometimes can’t break away. We “sorta” have a desire to change, but not really. We like to grasp onto our favorite sins, their comfort like a warm worn-out old blanket. The kind of thing we know we should just throw away but it’s a part of us now, so we can’t.

Back then, I remained away from Confession because I was so lost in my sins, I didn’t think I could walk away from them. And I was right; I couldn’t. But over time, I was freed from the situation and really started life over. Now, though, the situation may be different, but the concept is the same. And now, although I go to Confession frequently, sometimes I wonder if I should not, for I question my own intentions. I consider my habitual sins, and it’s not those that are worn’s me. They’re wearing holes in me. I WANT a clean heart, but apparently not badly enough to let go.

Still, I’ll return to Confession with my same old list, remembering the advice of that priest now long ago; that we all know that even as we confess our sins, we may return to them. And be back the next week, fallen yet again. But THAT’S why we have the Sacrament. That’s why we go back over and over again. Because we can’t pick ourselves up. Only God can, and He does, as many times as He needs to.

St. Augustine struggled mightily with sin, and even addressed this desire we have, this dichotomy and dissonance we all try to rectify. We want to become Saints, we know we are called to be Saints - but not yet. Not today. Let me just engage in this sin one more time and then I’ll really quit. I mean it. Or just a little longer, because it’s so comfortable, I don’t want to think about the fact it’s a sin. Because it doesn’t really “feel” like a sin. I LIKE my impatience, and my snarkiness. I like my laziness, etc. It’s what makes me “me”. It’s my quirk. It’s not a sin...that’s it. It’s a quirk. People have quirks. This is what makes me “people”.

It becomes very easy to rationalize, and explain away our little sins. It becomes avoidance of the real issue, and if we don’t take it to Confession, we don’t take that step to “own” it. Maybe it’s hard to break away, but God’s grace can do amazing things, if we would only let Him in and invite Him to change us. To pray that we WANT to overcome these things, instead of returning week after week or month after month to Confession.

I do often question my purpose of amendment, and I realize that all too often I don't want to give up those things that separate me from God. They don't SEEM that bad...but if there is anything that I keep in my life that keeps me from God, well, that IS a big deal! And so I go to Confession, and even when I don't mean it, I pray for the desire to change and truly WANT to eradicate sin from my life. Hopefully one day, the imperfect prayer will turn into a sincere one, and when we reach that point, that's where we can finally cooperate with God.

Create a clean heart in me o God, renew in me a steadfast spirit.

St. Monica, St. Augustine, pray for us!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Today I came across something that reminded me of the idealism of my youth. When I was 15, my Dad was still living, and in fact, lived in Minneapolis. And so it was that he taught me how to drive, giving me a range of experience on freeways, crowded side streets, labyrinthine lake-side neighborhoods, and your typical urban reality from the point of view of a car. I still value these lessons, especially considering that I have lived in the Cities since I graduated from college, and to this day, I remember my Dad explaining calmly how to navigate the highways and byways. It was exactly what a Father-daughter relationship should be like, and I remember how proud Dad was as I drove his big brown Olds.

Because I could finally drive, Dad was happy to hand me his keys, and one evening I had the honor of driving him out to a restaurant in the West Metro, where we were meeting his co-workers. In lieu of a picnic, his employer had rented a yacht for a cruise around Lake Minnetonka. It was a beautiful evening, and I spent most of it on the bow of the boat, not able to enjoy “happy hour” with the adults, but fully content to observe the lights on shore and enjoy the breeze created as the boat moved through the open water.

That evening, my Dad introduced me to his Manager, and we had a wonderful conversation. I was somewhat awed, realizing that I was almost old enough to have a job, knowing that this was the kind of person who might hire me. Knowing that even though I was only 15, I was old enough to act professionally, and of course, given that I was there with my Dad, I wanted to give his Boss a good impression…I certainly didn’t want to do anything to ever embarrass him. I knew that a good impression of me reflected upon my Father and Mother.

Well, no worries. She was very impressed with me (and I think she might have been schnockered, too). In any case, she gushed, “Oh, you are going to do some really great things, I can just tell!” And then went on with her litany of praises for me. I was quite flattered, but admittedly, also intimidated…how could I EVER live up to such an opinion?

Even since then, I’ve run into various people in various places who have (in a less pickled manner) stated that they foresaw that I would go ahead and do “great” things. So it was that when I graduated from college, I was ready to move on to these "great and spectacular things" that life apparently had in store for me. So many people I respected couldn’t be wrong! And I felt the challenge...I was being called to live up to their expectations, and mine.

Life hasn’t been what I expected, though, and now that I am well into my adulthood, I consider my starry-eyed idealism, and wish I could have it back, even for a day. I think all young people have a desire to go out and place their own special mark upon the world. They WANT to do great and spectacular things. Idealism was MADE for the young, and without that, I’d argue that nothing of any note would ever be accomplished. Because all too quickly the world loses its luster and the lights seem to go out. Reality can be harsh.

I couldn’t tell you the moment when the stars fell out of my eyes. I don’t know when that happened, but I have had plenty of time to look around at my decidedly unspectacular life, and some times it’s staggeringly disappointing. I look around and think to myself, “What happened? Where’s the greatness? Where did my life go? And all the big dreams I used to have? Where’s the promise that I never lived up to?

It’s all gone now. That’s not to say my life hasn’t been an adventure; it has been. I’ve done things I never thought I would do, had opportunities I never would have considered had they not fallen into my lap, and I have experienced agonies that in the end, have made me a better person. But in a lot of ways, I feel like I lived an entire lifetime before I hit 26...and since then...nuthin’.

Nothing spectacular. Nothing great. Things I THOUGHT would be wonderful...weren’t. Things I thought I would do and accomplish...never happened. Won't ever happen. (To some of those I say...THANK GOD!) Welcome to adulthood.

Every so often, I get into this mode of assessing my life, thinking, “What next? Where am I going? What am I doing? Why? For whom?”

And I often have to ask did I get so jaded? When I graduated high school, I had the world in front of me. When I graduated college, I'd narrowed that world and I *knew* I was going to do some really wonderful things. I'd come into my own, I was ready...and proceeded to fall flat on my face. And I think I've pretty much been there ever since.

What happened to my starry-eyed idealism? What happened to my enthusiasm? What happened to hope?

When did I become so rhetorical?

Yet, I know that some of this is the dischord that comes from the world's standards of "success" and "greatness", and God's standards. The biggest question really isn't whether I'm living up to an echo of a drunk manager on a boat on Lake Minnetonka. The biggest question is whether I'm living up to what God wants me to be, and if I'm headed where God is directing me.

But I'm still human. I still crave that "success" on some level, I still measure my life according to a standard I'll never meet, and I know I have to come to terms with that.

It's true, that in some ways, I want the stars back in my eyes, but on the other hand, I'm glad they're gone. It's good to see the world as it is, stripped naked, the glamours gone. It's good to know that this is not all there is, and we are called to something far greater than anything that can be provided on this earth.

When I look at myself in the eyes of the world, I don't see my value as a human being. But when I step back and look at myself and my life from the perspective of what I know about God, well...I see hope. A lot of it. Not a saint by any means, but hope. Because life isn't over, and it's only because I'm so jaded that I can see God at all.


Love Desires Union

Today is the Feast of St. Monica, and tomorrow, St. Augustine. Right now, for my Spiritual Theology class I am reading "Confessions", so hope to have an orginal post soon as I delve further into the text. For now, though, I thought perhaps it would be worthwhile to re-post this one from nearly a year ago. It contains a theme that has become woven into my life, the idea that we are pilgrims on earth...and indeed, we are only pilgrims.

1. GREAT art Thou, O Lord, and greatly to be praised; great is Thy power, and of Thy wisdom there is no end. And man, being a part of Thy creation, desires to praise Thee,man, who bears about with him his mortality, the witness of his sin, even the witness that Thou "resistest the proud,"(2) -- yet man, this part of Thy creation, desires to praise Thee. Thou movest us to delight in praising Thee; for Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee?

~ Confessions of St. Augustine

Flashback to a previous post, my question, an eternal one, "Is this it? Is this all there is? Do we really call this 'life'?"

Yes, my heart is restless, Lord, untill it rests in Thee.

I was listening to Relevant Radio one day, and the Spiritual Director on the show discussed this sense of restlessness. I have no idea what question was asked, but just the same, the answer is pertinent to us all: Our hearts are restless. Even when we have found our place on this earth, even when we are doing what we are called to do, there is a syndrome that haunts us. It is called by various names: "Itchy Feet", "The Grass is Greener", "Is this all there is?", and "The Path not Taken". But there is a reason for our disquietude. There is a reason we are always seeking what's over the next hill, what is just beyond the horizon, what might be behind the next ocean wave. There is a reason we cannot rest, no matter how content we may be. There is a reason we cannot live out our days without a sense of watchfulness, a sense of wondering about that fabled path not taken; because we are in exile.

Exile. We say the words in the Hail Holy Queen at the end of the rosary; "We, poor, banished, Children of Eve..." , and in the words at Advent in the hymn, "O Come o Come Emmanual," we sing,

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here...

We are a people in exile. We are a people created entirely for God, and we have, though our own sin, our own responsibility, cast ourselves into exile.

Our condition is unnatural, so it is right that we be so restless. It is right that we recognize that even as we fulfill what we can here on earth, that we recognize we are called to an ever higher purpose.

It is not our intellect that calls out for the next thing or that questions our fulfillment in life; it is our soul. Our soul recognizes in great anguish the division between God and man, and seeks to be unified. For we have been created for love, we have been created out of the very love of the Father, and we have been redeemed, in our sinfulness and imperfection by Jesus Christ. And we have been called to cooperate with the grace of the redemption, to accept the grace, and to aspire towards holiness. Why? Out of love. Just as we were created and redeemed out of love, we are called to the same sacrificial love. And that's not all.

Love desires union, and as long as we exist in this earthly exile, we do not have union. We can come close to union, but as long as we have not passed through the gates of death, we cannot experience that union. As long as we are held down by our sinful natures, we cannot experience that blessed union with God. Yes, we are to live out our exile, we are to continue to seek our union with God, we are to walk in holiness and continue to seek that perfection of charity.

We just have to recognize that we are restless because we have nowhere to rest. We are not home; this is not our home. Our home is in Heaven, our home is the Divine Processions, the Beautific Vision, and we will never be able to rest until finally we are released and called into the place God is preparing for us.

So, in this unnatural state of separation from God, we must withstand the restlessness, accept it as part of our exile...and realize that this is what reminds us that as we journey through life, we are forever looking for rest within the heart of our Savior.

Our hearts are restless, Lord, until they rest in Thee. Amen.

Monday, August 25, 2008


Sometimes I feel like a genius.

This is one of those times.

Last night, the local news had a story on a local...get of anarchists. As if that's not oxymoronic enough, this group went ahead and leased a space near the Republican National Convention for the purpose of....wait for it....ORGANIZED PROTEST!

Their brand of mayhem, of course, defies the law, in conjunction with their anarchist midset. Yet they don't seem to grasp that just plain ORGANIZING for a common purpose is completely detrimental to their philosophy.

I have to wonder if these so-called anarchists have ever read the dictionary? Or did they just like the word and saw a picture online somewhere and decided, "Hey! I dress like that! I'm an anarchist!"

Although I'm not entirely sure, but I think their plan is to take several hundred people (which according to police is likely an inflated number) and bind themselves together, lie down in traffic on bridges and the like in order to impede the convention somehow.

Realize...this style of illegal protest DEMANDS that they betray the foundations of their philosophy, for it REQUIRES that someone be a leader and lead the organization, assign particular roles, strategize locations, etc.

Now, I know that the definition of anarchy indicates a preference against any governmental body. But apparently that definition isn't one to which this group adheres. So maybe they're just pseudo-anarchists?

I'm also wondering if they're doing the same thing at the Democratic National Covention, or is this specifically an anti-Republican group of anarchists? Do they also plan to protest Libertarians and Grassroots and any other political party? Or just this one?

Of course, they are trying to cause confusion and disorder in general, and that IS in keeping with the definition of anarchy, so let's throw them that bone. But then it begs another question.

This afternoon, a co-worker and I were discussing this organized attempt at anarchy. I asked her what she thought the ages of these "anarchists" are? She guessed maybe 18-25. I'd concur. I further suggested, based upon my background in psychology (mostly practical/clinical), that they are likely kids who grew up without a strong father figure, very likely from broken homes. I based this idea on the fact that such homes are often completely without consistent authority, giving the children in question the impression that authority is not necessary. And if authority isn't necessary for survival in the home, why would it be necessary for the larger society? We can all be our own president. It is ultimate relativism, one that even denies the NEED for coherent society.

My co-worker disagreed with my assessment; she thinks the anarchists in this group likely come from upper-class homes. They're spoiled rich kids who ALSO have never had the experience of true authority as all that they have has been handed to them.

With further consideration, I agree she has a point. Perhaps the group is made up of both extremes. Those who have ONLY known hard times, survivalists, if you will. And rich kids, the ones who have NEVER known hardship, and thus can argue for this flawed ideal, not realizing what life would be like without authority.

Please understand; I respect that fact that Anarchists have their philosophy and they think it's the right one. I only believe they simply haven't thought it through. For their philosophy has no solid ground, and in the end, would cause their very destruction. The very society that benefits them by allowing them to organize, with police that won't shoot them simply for blocking traffic and being a nuisance, allows them their thought process. If we did NOT have a police force, but in fact lived in anarchy, this group would be summarily killed just because they were in the way of some other anarchist who likely wouldn't even think twice about driving over the idiots as they lie in the road.

It's a self-defeating stance.

And maybe I'm being unfair. I'm sure that many in this group are intelligent, thinking people who simply hate Republicans, and that position belongs to many people who AREN'T anarchists.

Now, people, mind you, the Anarchists have a WEB PAGE. They are HIGHLY ORGANIZED.

In fact...I fail to see the difference between the government that we have in place, and the one they have in their ultimate plan is a political coup.

How, again, are they Anarchists?

If they don't like the way things are...why don't they just develop their already formed Anarchy Party and run for office? Or maybe people could write them in on the ballot?

We really live in weird times.

UPDATE~! : I went to their web page (which is linked several times above.) They also collectively hate the DNC as well, and collectively have agreed to consensus statements and positions. Which is, by definition, agreeing to a certain authority. And they deny being a bunch of privileged white kids. Some of them have been lost in their haze for over 30 years!

But I will say this...they have a sense of humor. You have to check out the site to appreciate it.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Liturgy on BROADWAY!

Just the other day I was musing over the show-tune fare offered to us at Mass. You know those old and tired song-and-dance rhymes from Haugen-Haas-Joncas? And while I toyed with the idea of writing a Broadway-style script (or Vaudeville, maybe, or even Burlesque!) based on Haugen-Haas, I've decided that maybe it would be easier to follow the example from the L.A. Religious Ed. Conference, and write my OWN Mass. And instead of using the same-ol'-same-ol', I decided to use some REAL Broadway tunes!

I mean...if we're going to be humming show tunes, we should at least have enough taste to hum the things that haven't bothered to out of style and will ALWAYS entertain! And in fact, some of the Broadway and off-Broadway showtunes are just as relevant to Mass as the dated drug and heresy-inspired compositions provided by Haugen-Haas-Joncas!

What a BRILLIANT idea! But wait....there's MORE!

And I thought- so I thought to 'bout I take the tunes from Broadway, and cast the different characers - I mean - roles - in the Mass, and not only use the music, but use it to tell the story about what's happening in that church? What if a lone voice for orthodoxy stood up at the right time...what would happen? Why not do what the modernists are doing, and use show tunes, and tell the truth about what's REALLY going on? Because, as the progressives have taught us, Mass isn't about's about US! So let's CELEBRATE OURSELVES! Let's sing and dance and tell the truth, because there is no's all social. And if it's out in the open air, it can't be sin anymore, because we have to forgive each other!

Jesus was a really nice guy. He really was. We should all try to be as nice and loving and peaceful as He was. After's not like there was blood involved in His saving us. Don't be so melodramatic.

So, I've gone through my showtune library, and I'm working on editing some of the lyrics, but just off the top of my head, this is what I wrote as a program...uh...I mean, Worship Aid...for what the graduates of a local college here insist on calling "Liturgy":

Prelude: Anything Goes!
(Adapted from Anything Goes)

Gathering Song: There's No Business like Church Business!
(adapted from "No Business Like Show Business", Annie Get Your Gun)


The costumes, the scenery, the makeup, the props
The dancers that lift you when you're down

The heartaches, the alter server’s flip flops
The ushers who dance in the aisles

The opening when your Tom-toms beat like a drum

The closing when we celebrate ourselves!

There's no business like Church business
Like no business I know

Everything about it is appealing
Nothing the rubrics will allow
No where could you have that happy feeling
When you’re fully defying, the Vatican!

There's no people like Church people
They smile when they disobey!

Yesterday we told you you would not go far

That night we were ordained and here we are

Next day on your sacristy We've hung a star

Let's go on with the SHOW!

The servers, the choir, the bread, and the wine
The priestesses that wear the tablecloths!

The music, the spotlights, the people, the Pow’r
Your baggage with the feminazi pawns!

The colors and swirls and emasculation

The funky drape we've turned into an alb!

There's no business like Church business
If you tell me it's so
Traveling out of the country is so thrilling
Standing out to be ordained secretly
Smiling as you watch the benches filling
And see your billing up there on the boat!

There's no people like Church people
They smile when they are wrong
Even with theology you know will fold
You may be choosing excommunication
Still you wouldn't trade it for a sack o' gold
Let's go on with the show
Let's go on with the show!
The show!
It’s all we want to know!

Responsorial: Old Deuteronomy
(Adapted for liturgy, choral - congregation, CATS)

Alleluia: Alleluia It's Rainin' Men

Offertory: Father Hanks the Heretic *** _ _ *** See below for lyrics
(Adapted from Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat, CATS)


Father Hanks the Heretic, Pastor of Saint Heresy!

There's a whisper down the line at eleven twenty-nine
When the Liturgist’s ready to begin
Saying, "Father where is Father?
Is he diving in baptism water?
We must find him or no Liturgy!"

All the ushers and the servers
And the old sacristan’s daughters
Would be searching high and low
Saying "Father where is Father for unless he holds his water
Then the Liturgy just can't go.”

At eleven thirty-two with the signal overdue
And the Liturgist all frantic to begin
That's when I would appear and I'd saunter to the rear
I'd been lost in the labyrinth!

Then he gave one glance
To the Lord of the Dance
They'd be off at last to the front of the mass, to the middle of the liturgy!

Father Hanks, the Heretic
Pastor of St. Heresy!

You might say that by and large it was me who was in charge
Of the dancing parish mess
From the choir to the drums to the dancers in their tights
I would supervise them all more or less

Down the aisle Father prances and examines all the faces
Of the travellers in all the rows
But I’ve established control in the pastoral council
And I’d know if a spy was there.

I could watch you without blinking and see what you were thinking
And know for certain you don’t approve
Of hilarity and riot but I’d advise to be very quiet
While Father and I are on the move

You could call the Bishop on Father Heresy
She’s a "priest" that can’t be ignored
But all is well with our liturgical show
When "Father" Heresy is aboard

But it ticked us off when they went to the Bishop
To report about our liturgy!
But the Bishop didn’t care, said get out of his hair
And he did nothing because he didn’t see.

In our liturgy it’s all about “me!”
Because that’s what Vatican II said
And we don’t care if it’s not really there
And the funny little basin to dispose of the sacrament
Is better used to throw away old vino.

Father Hanks, the Heretic
Pastor of St. Heresy!

Father Heresy:

In the middle of the night when awakened by a call
To hospice to visit the sick
I take a drop of scotch while I was keeping on the watch
Only stopping long enough to call a cab.

The sick are fast asleep and so they never knew
That I was walking up and down the hallway
They were sleeping all the while I couldn’t find the room
Until I stumbled on a custodian’s broom.

They might see me at the DNC when I’m there to support Dems
If there was anything they ought to know about

So when they go to the polls they vote with me
For Father Heresy doesn’t care what’s right!

So I’ll give you a bow to your divinity
Which says “I’ll wash your feet again!”
But I'll be sleeping at Midnight Mass

ALL: The Pastor of St. Heresy!

Communion: Maybe *** _ _ *** See Below for lyrics
(Adapted from Annie)

It May be Liturgy…
Or maybe not so much
Jesus pouring His blood…
Or can we save ourselves?

Maybe in a Church
All hidden in a veil
Someone’s praying to Jesus
Neo-caths for renewal!

Betcha that they're young
Betcha that they're smart
Bet they’ve read the RUBRICS
And like Icons and Art!

Betcha that they pray --
(And study quite a bit)
Their one mistake
Was admitting to it!

So maybe now it's time,
And maybe when I cry
They'll be there calling me “Traddie…”

Betcha we can try
Betcha we can pray
Maybe Holy Father hopes
The Church will be reformed

Maybe he is strict
As straight as a line...
I don’t really mind….
As long as he cares…

So maybe now this prayer's
The last one of it's kind...
Won't you please come renew our Church…?

May - be….!

Secondary Communion Hymn: Doin' What Comes Naturallly! (Adapted from Annie Get Your Gun)

Folks are dumb where I come from,
They ain't had any learning.
Still they're happy as can be
Doin' what comes naturally (doin' what comes naturally).
Folks like us could never fuss
With CCC and CCD and learnin’
And we’ve ignored the Baltimore CC!,
Doin' what comes naturally (doin' what comes naturally)

You don't have to know how to sing or pray
When you're out meetin’ Gaia in a labyrinth!
You don't have to look in a book to find out
What to know about God in a terebinth!
That comes naturally (that comes naturally).

My uncle out in L.A. can't even kneel to pray
But he dances LA Conference
And we like him just the same!

If you saw my pa and ma,
You'd know they didn’t want children
So they've flushed their family
Usin’ contraception! (usin’ contraception!)

Cousin Jack has never read the rubrics on liturgy
Still he twangs guitar in Life Teen!
Doin' what comes naturally (doin' what comes naturally).

Sister Sal who's musical has never hear Gregorian
Still she sings contemp’rary
Doin' what comes naturally (doin' what comes naturally).

You don't have to go a Catholic school
To learn how to vest in the vestibule!
You don't have to have a Theo Prof’s Tome
To make it up as you go along!
That comes naturally (that comes naturally).

Recessional: Finale
(Adapted from same title, Annie Get Your Gun, see Gathering Song, medly of all above)

Postlude: Angelical Kids
(Adapted from Jellicle Cats, CATS)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

To Love God

Indeed, only then do we possess a truth completely when we teach it to others, when we make others share our contemplation; only then do we wholly love God when we desire to make Him loved by all. Give money away, or spend it, and it is no longer yours. But give God to others and you possess Him more fully for yourself. We may go even further and say that, if we desired only one soul to be deprived of Him, if we excluded only one soul - even the soul of one who persecutes and calumniates us - from our own love, then God Himself would be lost to us.

~ Rev. R. Garrigou-LaGrange, OP

Friday, August 22, 2008

Year Two Begins

Tonight I begin my second year of class. After this weekend of marathon classes, I will be back to the routine of irregular work hours, studying when I can, trying to find unbroken time, Saturday morning at the coffee shop, and agonizing over papers.

And then the last week before class, scrambling to get finished, knowing I haven't read everything, forgetting things...speaking of which...I can't remember all the books of the Old Testament and I KNOW our prof is going to test us on them tonight! Especially the major and minor prophets, which is what this class is about!

But the good news is that we'll be using the Summa a lot this semester for our Christian Anthropology class, among other sources, and Spiritual Theology...well, I'm not sure what all that will consist in. But hey! I'll know more by the end of the day Sunday!

So, all of you, enjoy your weekend...I'll be sitting in a classroom. The entire time.

Tell me again why I'm doing this?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Presenting Ourselves for Holy Communion

In my previous post, in which I discussed nearly missing an opportunity for Confession, a couple commenters brought up an important point. Although their point did not apply in my case (as I was not at the church to attend Mass that evening), it COULD apply to some people and so I thought this would be a good opportunity to discuss our approach of the Sacraments.

Just this afternoon, I spoke with a teen who had visited a parish offering a Spanish language Mass, and he noticed that only about half of the Spanish-speaking people who attended did not present themselves for Holy Communion, and he wondered why...for in his home parish EVERYONE goes to Communion.

It was an opportunity to discuss the need of us to receive the Lord only if we are in a state of grace so as to avoid profaning the Body and Blood of Christ. And he understood this, yet by his query, I realized that others likely wonder about the same thing...why are people not going forward at Communion?

It goes back again to the idea that we NEED to have a certain desperation for the Sacraments, something completely lacking in our culture for they are so abundantly offered. We also, in this country, have an attitude of entitlement; that we have a "right" to something, and through some very lacking catechesis, many have never been taught the reality of personal sin, of taking responsiblity for sin, and that they cannot present themsevles for Holy Communion if they have committed mortal sin.

The teachings have been so watered down for a few generations that Catholics today think nothing of deciding for themselves that their sins are not mortal because they don't see anything wrong with something "everyone" in society is doing. And so we have short Confession lines, and long Communion lines. Or, I guess it's entirely possible that we have many parishes filled to the brim with perfect Saints who have no need to confess what they haven't done.


Now, it's important to say that if you have not messed up insanely and committed mortal sin, you don't need to go to Confession every time you go to Mass. And, of course, if you ARE in a state of grave sin, you STILL have the obligation to ATTEND Mass on Sunday, however, you should refrain from going to Communion until you've received Sacramental Confession. The same applies for Daily Mass...if you are in a state of grave sin, you can and should still attend Mass, but remain in your pew and make a Spiritual Communion through prayer, and resolve to receive the Sacrament of Penance as soon as you are able.

Last night, if my intention was to attend Mass and I had not been in time for Confession, I would not have presented myself for Communion. In the past, my parish did not offer the Sacrament before Mass, but afterwards, and in fact, this was an important factor in my conversion! I could not receive Communion, and attending Mass without being able to receive what I realized was truly the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ was the very thing that goaded me to overcome my fear and go to Confession!

Thus if you discern that you might not be in a state of grace, DO attend Mass and let your abstinence from Holy Communion serve to pierce your soul, forcing you to realize the union you no longer have with our Lord. Gaze upon the Crucifix and comprehend how deeply and passionately He loves you...and allow that love to bring you to the throne of His Mercy in the Sacrament of Confession.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Desperation for the Sacraments

This evening I left work earlier than planned because I REALLY needed to get to Confession, and there is a traffic snarl reminiscent of Hell in the general area of my home. The main highway bottlenecks a few miles before my exit, so during rush hour I always exit before I hit the backup. But there's a parallel route that is under construction and down to one lane, and two days ago I learned about than when I had taken that particular route home. But I got off before the major construction, and learned that had I come to that shortcut from the North instead of the south, I would have had to backtrack...because the connecting road was COMPLETELY closed due to construction. Whew!, I thought to myself. Dodged that one!

BUT! I have since learned that ALL possible alternate routes are completely useless...3 of them are under construction, and of those, 2 are completely blocked!

Knowing this, I left work early and took the last possible route only to learn that, ironically, it would have been better to just stay on the main least THAT was inching along. Not like the gridlock on the side streets!

So it was that I was biting my nails and praying really hard to get to Confession in time. At my parish, confessions are before Mass, giving the priest just enough time to finish and prepare for Mass. We try to respect the posted times in order to give him that time because of course, at some point he has to dart out of the confessional!

I got to the church with only 15 minutes left of Confession...hoping there was no line.

When I walked into the chapel, though, my heart sank...about 5 people in line ahead of me. It was by then 6:34. And these people were in NO HURRY to make their confessions, apparently. So I prayed and fidgeted, staring at Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, begging to have enough time, begging for the Sacrament. Desperate to be reconciled to Him. Knowing that I might have been too late, and that the potential was that I might have to walk away, denied the Sacrament I needed.

I did not begrudge the people standing in line ahead of me...I assume they were as desperate as I, for NO ONE likes to stand in line waiting for Confession. I think it's part of the penance. It's Pre-Penance.

I just made that up. But that's what it feels like.

Yet, standing there realizing my desperation, I considered what it must be like for those Catholics in places like the Sudan and China and Saudi Arabia, or even ALASKA, where it might be difficult to receive ANY of the sacraments. And it might be impossible to be absolved even once per year! Maybe it's many years, but not out of desire for the Sacrament, but from unavailability.

I realized that, had there not been time tonight, I could come back tomorrow...there would be 3 opportunities. One requiring me to get up much earlier, another requiring me to go to work later, and one requiring me to leave EVEN EARLIER from work in order to get there on time.

I have no right to complain. My desperation doesn't COMPARE with that of Catholics all over the world.

I'm a spoiled brat.

It was a lesson in humility, in remembering the great gift that we have in this country. Even in realizing that in my metro area there are many parishes that have Confession times maybe only once per week, and only for a half hour.

But there was another lesson for me, one that reminded me of something I learned in class a year ago; and that was the lesson learned from the woman with the hemorrhage.

She had been bleeding for 12 YEARS! She was considered to be "impure" because of it. She was shunned, and she was probably very sick and weak. She'd sought cures for those long twelve years, to no avail. The woman was truly desperate. So when Jesus walked by, as the crowds pressed around Him, she sought Him out, maybe even crawling, for the scriptures say she touched the corner of his cloak. It may even have been the tassel of his prayer shawl that would have hung low to the ground, and the part of him that was most "impure" of what He would have worn as a Jew, for it would be close to the ground and dirty. She would not have wanted to cause impurity to Jesus...but she knew she needed Him in order to be healed.

Imagine the ground-level view, as she reached out towards Jesus as He passed her by. Imagine how desperate she was, how weak, how lonely. How outcast.

And how faithful! Consider how she did not want to render Jesus impure because of her own state...she sought only to be healed of her condition, so touched that which was on Him, and was the least "pure" according to the Law.

She touched the tassel...and in that instant, was healed. Jesus stopped and called out, and she came forward, fearful, expecting rebuke, but telling Him everything. Her shame became God's glory...her shame still impacts us over 2,000 years later.

And we see the mercy of Jesus through the desperation of an unknown woman. She gives us the example of the desperation we should ALL have when we receive ANY of the Sacraments, but in our American culture of plenty, even the Sacraments are plentiful. Yet our desperation is lacking.

Ever since that lesson, I've tried to consider, each time I receive Holy Communion, to consider the desperation of that woman, trying to realize what I am doing, Who I am receiving...and if I'm not "desperate" enough, I simply don't realize my wretched condition especially in comparison to the reality of the God who is about to enter under my roof.

Tonight, although I did not attend Mass, I was granted at least a small sense of desperation, truly fearful I would be denied the mercy I needed. And although I usually go behind the screen, I decided that even if I was walking in as Father was leaving, and he saw and recognized me (and I know he would return to the confessional as I was last in line), I would have made my Confession face to face. Because I was that desperate...I didn't care if I was "known in my sin." I needed the Grace of the Sacrament, I needed to meet Jesus face-to-face and touch the tassel on his cloak.

It is desperation that humbles us and makes us realize who we really are and why we need God. It is in our lowest moments that we can most clearly see His face. And it is only when we have hit that point that Jesus can reach down to where we crouch in the dirt and lift us up so He can embrace us.

Tonight was a beautiful lesson for me, one I hope to remember, not only so that I can recall the sense of desperation, but also so as to remember God's incredible Mercy...He did not send me away to suffer any longer.

He let me touch the tassel of his cloak, just as He was passing by.

We should all remember that when we approach Our Lord, we are the woman in the dirt, we are bleeding, we are humiliated...and we all need him as desperately as she did.

You Know You're a Catholic

I've begun noticing little things, and this is just the latest:

You know that you're a Catholic when you start to break up the year not according to semesters or trimesters or quarters, or even spring, summer, fall and winter.

Instead, you define and plan your life according to the liturgical seasons...Advent, Lent, Easter, and Ordinary time.

I'm just sayin'.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Quiet Moment...with Adoro

An oxymoron, I know. Deal with it. You read me. Some of you actually know me in person. Would you expect anything else?

So...first up...


Do you have "liberal" or "modernist" friends? Or non-Catholic friends or co-workers? When they come to your office (if a co-worker) or to your home, are you tempted to hide some of your more obvious items that point towards your embrace of Catholicism, in order to avoid "offending" this strange person? If this person more important than God to you? Are you ashamed of your heritage?

What's WRONG with you?

If you're Catholic, and you embrace our faith, then EMBRACE it! People throughout the centuries have DIED for what you love...and you're willing to put it in a closet in order to avoid "offending" someone you may not even know in a year's time? Or fear this person may reject you or your positions because you believe in Petrine Primacy as established by Christ our Savior, and you believe in the Virgin Birth and that the Bible reveals both the Christ of history AND the Christ of Faith???? Quit being such a wuss! If you claim to be Catholic....LIVE IT! Live it to the degree that you're willing to DIE for it as did your ancestors in the Faith!

Moving on..


I don't know what is is with nature lately. Just yesterday when I was yacking with a co-worker in the hallway at work (a church), a bat meandered (and by that I mean...dive-bombed) through the hallway in the middle of the afternoon. Apparently he had insomnia. And he wasn't a fan of the open fire doors, so flew towards the school then doubled back a couple times, swooping at our heads.

I let out my own "WOOP!" as I jammed the key into the lock of our office door, which I'd inadvertantly forgotten to leave open. With great regret. Ironically, I'd read an article yesterday, the day of the event, about the preponderance of bats in August, and the need, in any actual contact, to be tested for rabies. Not desiring to be tested for rabies or jammed with multiple needles, I knelt on the floor as I fumbled with the lock, laughing hysterically as I remembered my last "bat hunt" when I was working security at a University. That, incidentally, was followed by yelling directions at a confused squirrel that had wandered into Heffron Hall....

And today...a nasty spider made an appearance on my desk as I was eating my luncheon salad. It was black and had two racing stripes down either side of its body, and it was really FAST! I tried to kill it with a bad magazine featuring bad vestments on the cover (a good use for the magazine, actually), but that little thing went under the desk. No WAY was I going to sit down, so I peered underneath, trying to see the spider so I could smash it into oblivion.

It was teasing me. It appeared...and disappeared, over and over again. I was peering underneath again, and the thing crawled on the edge, near my forehead, causing me to screech (for about the 3rd time), a completely involuntary reaction, as my boss the DRE yelled at me to kill the darned thing already. And she was talking to the head Custodian, who must certainly have been doubled-over laughing at the noises I was making.

Well, they don't realize that the spider disappeared SO FAST that I thought it might well have transferred itself in a single bound onto my head...and the idea made me want to prefer to die than suffer that!

But I saw it and I smashed it and instantly felt better for having committed the murder most foul. Or justified....I vote for justified. That spider TOYED with me!

And then so did my co-workers. My DRE, the boss, suggested that I can expect at some point in the future to have a remote-controlled spider dangle over my head attached to a fishing line,while I work unsuspectingly and in tranquility at my desk or somewhere else.

I assured her I'd quit with no notice should such threat take place. I think she was kidding.

I wasn't.


So, after all that trauma, a cool thing also happened today. A local Hawthorne Dominican recently came to speak for us, and she did a wonderful job, and she and I somehow spoke about books and Padre Pio and other things. (Dominicans are SO COOL!!) Well, she was going to send me a book.

Today I received a package, and found not that book but a St. Dominic card with a message from her explaining the book that she DID called "Quiet Moments with Padre Pio."

What an incredible book! It's filled with short meditations, things that he said or things stated about him from those who were close to him. And all that I read today is relevant to me...this book is a true gift, not just from Sister, but from Padre Pio as well.

I leave you with the blessed and profound words of the Saint himself:


- April 23, 1918 letter to Erminia Gargani

Do not anticipate the problems of this life with the apprehension, but rather with a perfect hope that God, to whom you belong, will free you from them
accordingly. He has defended you up to now. Simply hold on tightly to the hand of his divine prividence and he will help you in all events, and when you are unable to walk, he will lead you.

Why should you fear when you belong to this God who strongly assured us: "We know that in everything God works for the good with those who love him"? Don't think about tomorrow's events, because the same Heavenly Father who takes care of you today will do the same tomorrow and forever.

Live tranquilly, [removing] from your imagination that which upsets you and often say to our Lord: Oh God, you are my God and I will trust in you. You will assist me and be my refuge, and I will fear nothing because not only are you with him, but you are in him and he is within you. What can a child fear in the arms of its father?

Incredible, how he can speak so profoundly to me through such a random event and person. I'm constantly amazed at how this simple Franciscan chooses to speak to me through Dominican and other messengers, answering my latest concerns, my latest prayers, and my truest desires.

God is good. God desires our good. And when we are desperate to hear His voice...he speaks, but never as we expect.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


I've done a little research and did find a Catholic book Meme, but I wasn't satisfied as I felt that there were many books that should be listed but aren't.

So...I've started my own. Although I know I haven't read every Catholic book out there, not even 100 of them, I think maybe some of you would have book recommendations. What are the top 100 Catholic books? I'm looking for both contemporary spiritual books as well as contemporary fiction, to go along with the classic books I'll have listed such a St. Francis de Sales and the like. At this point my goal is to turn this into a sort of Meme, but who knows? Maybe it'll be a stand-alone post of good Catholic book recommendations.

So....everyone...suggestions? What makes the cut for the top 100 Catholic books? Go through your home libraries, look at your dog-eared tomes, and consider your Amazon wish list. Maybe it's a book you haven't read but have heard great things about? Maybe it's a reference resource? Maybe a Flannery O'Connor novel?

I need help with this list....send me your favorite books, and even if you see that someone has listed your title already, list it again. That'll tell me it's important!

The combox awaits....

100 Book Meme

I stole this from Transcendental Musings, a Meme I've avoided because I think I'm going to be embarassed. But since I'm working on humility, well...maybe this is a good day to do it.

Basically, the idea is to bold the books you've read and highlight the books you'd like to read. And per my usual style...commentary will accompany some of the selections.

1.Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen - I'm neutral on this one. It's a classic I've never read but I think I can live my life without reading it.
2. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien - But I saw the movies!
3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4. Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee - I LOVE THIS BOOK! Read it on my own and then had to read it in a class in High School...and have read it again several times since.
6. The Bible – maybe not all, but at least MOST! I do think I've read the entire thing by now, though.
7. Wuthering Heights - mostly neutral on this one, but think I should read it "just because"
8. Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9. His Dark Materials - Phillip Pullman - I have no need to read transparent atheist anti-Catholic propaganda.
10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11. Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12. Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy – I saw parts of this made into a movie...was bored. Can't imagine how boring the book must be!
13. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller I read this but can't remember anything about it.
14. Complete Works of Shakespeare - I've read many of his works, so bolding, but would desire to read them all.
15. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier – I think I read this...I'm not sure!
16. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien – I read this in college, and had a hard time getting through it. It was a good story, but the style seemed somewhat dry to's the reason I haven't tackled Lord of the Rings.
17. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18. Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19. The Time Traveller's Wife -
20. Middlemarch - George Eliot
21. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald - Saw the movie in High school...hated it. No desire whatsoever to read the book.
23. Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25. The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll –
30. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33. Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis - read all, once as a child, once as an adult.
34. Emma - Jane Austen
35. Persuasion - Jane Austen
36. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
37. Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres –
.38. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
39. Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
40. Animal Farm - George Orwell
41. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown - I tried. But he is such a hack I couldn't even get out the door of the store with it. I prefer to read edifying things or at the very least, something that contributes to honest imagination.
42. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
43. A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
44. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins -
45. Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery - The whole series....a few times!
46. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
47. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood - I've seen excerpts of this one due to a local controversy...and have to say that it's a pornographic book thus I have NO INTEREST in reading it.
48. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
49. Atonement - Ian McEwan –
50. Life of Pi - Yann Martel
51. Dune - Frank Herbert
52. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
53. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
54. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
55. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
56. A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens - have read it a couple times
57. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley - we're living this one.
58. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
59. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
60. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
61. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
62. The Secret History - Donna Tartt
63. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
64. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
65. On The Road - Jack Kerouac -
66. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
67. Bridget Jones' Diary - Helen Fielding
68. Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
69. Moby Dick - Herman Melville - Read it, wasn't a fan.
70. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
71. Dracula - Bram Stoker
72. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett - one of my favorite books growing up, was given to me by my Dad, which makes it more special.
73. Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson\
74. Ulysses - James Joyce
75. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
76. Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
77. Germinal - Emile Zola
78. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
79. Possession - AS Byatt
80. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
81. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
82. The Color Purple - Alice Walker
83. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
84. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
85. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
86. Charlotte's Web - EB White - over and over again and I cry EVERY TIME!
87. The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom - lotta hype on this one...I wasn't impressed.
88. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
89. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
90. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
91. The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery -
92. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
93. Watership Down - Richard Adams
94. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
95. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
96. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
97. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
98. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo -
9. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain
100.The Outsiders

I have to wonder at the absence of GK Chesterton and some other authors. Is there a list of 100 CATHOLIC books out there? Or general Christianity? That would be an interesting Meme...must research. If none exists...maybe must create!

Saturday, August 16, 2008


I still remember the hot summer afternoon in Alexandria, Minnesota back in 1995. My Mom had called on a Saturday afternoon, and after an extremely frustrating conversation, the content of which I can't even remember, I hung up the phone and screamed, "Aaaaarrrrrgggh!"

My roommate looked up from whatever work she was doing at the time, and glancing at my expression of consternation, commented, "I don't know a SINGLE WOMAN who doesn't do THAT every time they talk to their mothers!"

It was nice to know I wasn't alone.

And I've found that...over doesn't change.

But instead of screaming, I just sigh. I sit through conversations with my earthly mother while gazing at an image of our Blessed Mother and I take deep breaths and try to work on the virtue of patience.

And I know that so many of us have the SAME conversations with our mothers. I could probably talk to YOUR mother and the content would be the same.

First, Mom tells me that she's been to the Fair, and gives me the full menu of what she's eaten throughout the day, any interactions with various medications, and how the food, if it didn't interact with medications, how she did or didn't approve of it and why. And how many days she's going to suffer for having eaten it in the first place. (I will get this same info and the FULL report, probably on Tuesday this week.)

Then I get the run-down on how she overextended herself because she's only used to a 30-minute walk that the doctor says she has to take each day, but today it was 2 hours so she's got to write that in her journal and report it to him.

And then she discusses her difficult work schedule of 20 hours per week, which fluctuates by about an hour or so a couple of those days, and how HARD that is to go into work at 10 instead of 9, an get off at 2 instead of 1.

But that's not all!

In the past, Mom was contented, after her menu of the last few weeks (even though I'd already gotten the full review a few times), to give me a full report on her health with all the gorey details.

But now...Mom has a friend. So, after Mom's report, I get her friend's report, too. And all the details and Mom's diagnosis and full advice given to the woman. Along with her menu, too. Seriously..I got to hear alll about how the woman likes to eat radishes before she goes to Mass on Saturday, and how the radishes made her smell like onions during Mass (don't ask, you don't want to know), and Mom's "fraternal correction" of the incident. I also now know all about her friend's sleeping schedule, her Insomnia, and her addiction to caffeine and no-doz, and I think I have here a list of her medications in case of an emergency. Because God knows the medics would call the daughter of a neighbor if the woman in question had a medical emergency.

* sigh *

Nope, I don't scream anymore when I hang up the phone after talking to Mom. I just sigh and try to forget everything I've just heard, because I simply don't want to know that much about her neighbors. It just doesn't seem right. In fact, there's stuff I don't want to know about Mom's personal life, either, and I wish I didn't.

YOU know what I mean.

AND STOP LAUGHING! Even though it's true, it's not funny!

* sigh *

Why is it that when our parents get older, we find we need actual recovery times and even debriefing from the trauma of talking to them?

Please don't get me wrong. I love my mother. She is and always was an incredible woman, and may even be a living Saint. Like all mothers and daughters, we have had our difficulties, exacerbated by Mom's bipolar through my teenage years, and my having to be an adult at too young an age as a result. So there are struggles there that don't belong to a normal mother-daughter relationship. Yet there are moments that match EXACTLY what other women I know deal with, and tonight's conversation with Mom was just such a moment.

And as much as these conversations drive me crazy, I think a part of me will always cherish them, for I don't think Mom is long for this world. We nearly lost her last December, and I think it's just a matter of time. She looks old beyond her years, thanks to her illness, her resulting medical conditions...and the medications that have given her the ability to live on her own in a relatively normal, if isolated, life.

God bless her. If that woman can raise a child like me, well...she deserves better than me. She deserves Sainthood.

Please keep my Mom and our family in your prayers.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Can't You See the Blood Dripping from the Flag of China?

I wasn't going to post this, and maybe it's a post that will be taken down. In all likelihood, if my URL is not yet banned in China, it will be after tonight.

It's completely INSANE that China was allowed to host the Olympics. Given the well-known human-rights violations in SO many areas, given the well-known oppression of their people...HOW, in good conscience, can the OIC POSSIBLY have awarded this honor to one of the WORST and most immoral countries on the planet?

In 1982, one of my cousins was bound for the Olympics, and as I understand it, her name was a big one; EVERYONE knew she'd be going. She was a diver, and the day before Trials, she suffered an unfortunate landing in training, and the resulting broken bone broke her chance for the Gold...and her heart. She couldn't face four more years of the same regimen of training only to come so close and meet the same disappointment. She chose to move on with her life.

I remember clearly watching the 1982 Summer Olympics, watching my cousin's sport, completely awed by the athletes, and I announced that day to my parents that one day, I'd be an Olympian, too. Because SOMEONE had to be. Why not me?

Well, I have resigned myself to the fact that this will never happen, yet in my years of adulthood I DID achieve a certain elite training and have come, through that, to appreciate the amazing sacrifices and dedication of Olympians. I've also become a person of faith, which affects me not only spiritually, but socially as I cannot look at the world we live in and remain aloof.

Let's just cut to the chase:

When I see the Chinese flag, I see the blood of the Chinese People.

The flag that welcomes the athletes, the dignitaries, and the visitors is red for a reason, and EVERY time each of us looks at it, we must remember the people of China in their subjugation to the oppressive and deranged communist leaders who deny not only their dignity, but their very basic human rights...even their lives.

A long time ago, an important leadership concept came to my attention; never ask anyone to do what you would refuse to do or could not do. To do so is hypocrasy. But the idea goes beyond leadership and into everyday life and colors our decisions and opinions.

Taking into consideration my cousin's great disappointment and my own forays into serious athletic training in the past (not Olympic-bound - not the same goal), I took an objective look at the Olympics in China. Sure, I could look at it ideologically, even positively. But in the end, I've had to concede that this event does more for the current Chinese Regime than it does for the beautiful Chinese people.

There's a lot of ideology out there; you have a lot of people, even good Catholic authors using the tired argument that "the Olympics doesn't HAVE to be political...."

Well, right. I agree. It doesn't HAVE to be...but the fact that politicization isn't required doesn't change the reality that it IS and REMAINS a political event.
We cannot use the idea that "The Olympics don't have to be political." It's a strawman argument and it can go up in the same flames a match applied to a scarecrow would generate. We live in the real world and we have to see it as such, not as the fantasy world of "what we'd prefer it to be." We can't react to fantasy; we can ONLY deal with what's happening before our very eyes, and if we don't accept it, we can't encourage change.

China isn't doing this for the goodness of her people. China isn't hosting the Olympics for a financial boom. They aren't doing it out of "goodwill", for the latter has to arise out of a true desire to do good...and the objective documentation on human rights failings on the part of China leaves "goodwill" out of the equation.

The people of China deserve something why are they suffering in the shadows of the Olympic stadiums?

Because the Olympics aren't about them. They are about China's use of what Nazi Germany used when they hosted the Olympics, while, in the meantime, they slaughtered thousands of people in death camps.

Yet, their hosting of the Olympics gave them a positive spin in the world, and people were willing to overlook what was REALLY happening because, well, Hitler had such a pretty face when his country hosted the Olympics...he couldn't be THAT bad, could he?

I can think of thousands upon thousands of souls, some still living, who would disagree.

The Nazi Olympics are happening again, folks. And sure, the Chinese government, just like Nazi Germany, is putting on a pretty face. Just recently a man from Minnesota, a prominent and beloved local businessman, was murdered in China by a random deranged killer. And the Chinese government, reportedly, has been just wonderful to his wife who was also severely injured. The government has been incredibly helpful to the family and is providing the best medical treatment available. And that's good..that's exactly what they SHOULD do.

But they won't do this for their own people. And I doubt, if they were there as tourists and not for the Olympics, that we'd be seeing this face of the government; they likely wouldn't take personal interest at all, and we wouldn't expect them to do so. Things happen to people who visit America, and our government doesn't "adopt" them and issue press releases, do they? It would be a full-time job and a news channel would have to be dedicated to all the events.

So, this event alone seems to point to the fact that the Chinese government is over-extending itself in an attempt to "prove" how good and benevolent it is.


I don't fault the athletes for competing or for being there. They worked hard to be there, and this is a dream of a lifetime. Congratulations to all, and God bless them. They are living history and will forever look back on these events, but I fear that what China is and will become after this event will also forever taint their memories when they come to realize what was happening in the country that hosted them.

Much like being hosted by a mass murderer and being sent away unscathed. Survivor's guilt.

In musing about this, I tried to, using my experience and knowledge gained from memories of my cousin, place myself in the shoes of an olympic athlete. I've written fiction about being in that very place, but now I change the idea; what if the event was...China?

Knowing what I know, knowing about the underground Catholic Church, knowing that women are forced to have abortions due to the one-child limit legislated by the Chinese government, knowing that they recently killed a Bishop...I'd have to weigh it. Getting to the Olympics is a once-in-a-lifetime event that happens only to the fewest, and the best of the fewest.

To be counted in that Humbling. Amazing. Not something to discount. You can ONLY get there by putting your heart and soul into it.

But knowing all that I know...I honestly believe I would turn it down. I would walk away and ask other athletes to do the same. Not without tears, not without a struggle for I would know what I was giving up. But I would also realize that if I competed, I'd be competing upon soil bloodied by my own Christian brothers and sisters, and through my willingness to participate, I'd be legitimizing the government's actions against them.

Thus, my actions would be a betrayal against my own people. And I, as a Catholic, claim the Chinese as my brothers and sisters in Christ.

If they are being slaughtered, I have no business being friendly with their murderers. The ONLY thing to do is to walk away and use my position as an athlete to make a very public stand and declare a very public condmenation against the Chinese government.


I have not watched the Olympics. A couple times I have briefly had the channel on, although the event wasn't one I care about, yet I still feel guilty even for that. I have watched the medal count, and I'm glad when America does well. And it is KILLING me to realize I won't be able to watch the equestrienne or swimming or gymnastics or track competetions. Because, if I say I wouldn't be willing to compete...then I can at least make the sacrifice of not watching those who do. Even though it has no financial impact upon anyone.

I can't watch the Olympics this year. At all. Because, through this post especially, I am saying that the venue is immoral, thus, so is our participation.
Watching is participation.

I wish the athletes of all nations well, and I pray good comes out of this event. But I can't give acquiescence to it because the host is the next thing to Satan Incarnate, and I certainly don't think that the Olympics should be held in Hell next time around.

Speak to Chinese Catholics and other Chinese Christians...they'll tell you that this year, the Olympics ARE being held in Hell.

And every time you look at the Chinese flag, take a really good look...because, if you were born under it, it could be your blood dripping upon the athletes that now tread on your grave or the graves of your unborn.