Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Padre Pio

Julie says: "It was a photo of him with his head thrown back laughing that first made me notice him. I thought, 'Now there is someone I could talk to...that is what a real saint should look like.'"

Happy feast day, Padre Pio and all his fans.

Monday, September 21, 2009

I firmly believe in not much

For those of you who have outgrown the rigid, 'things are either right or wrong', judgmental, fact-based beliefs of your saner years, I offer you the Alternative Apostles' Creed.

Thanks to the Rev. Bosco Peters at the Liturgy blog, who knows and oldie-but-goodie when he sees one.

(Caveat: I myself have come to see that much of life has more shades of gray then I used to think. However, I don't believe the Apostles' Creed is included. Please do not accuse me of either heresy or blind inflexibility -- at least without more evidence than this.)


Matt at Creative Minority Report tells us about the first time God broke through to him, though he didn't quite recognize it at the time.
[A]s I approached the car I looked up. And my goodness. All the stars. Brilliant splashes of light shimmering like some clumsy angel had spilled a jar of stars over upstate New York. I stopped.

And that's how it happens. An unsuspecting kid on the New York State thruway on a random Sunday night looks up at the sky and is amazed by it all. For the first time since childhood, believing in something not named Matt Archbold was easy, the world looked so...on purpose. And to a punky know-it-all atheist like me that was a shock. . .

I wish I could say my life changed that night. But it didn't. I had a few more months of stupidity left in me. But it was one of the first intimations that there was something more.

It's worth reading the whole thing here.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

How I'd rather speak

I noticed an unusual act of charity in speech today that really impressed me, perhaps especially because one of my besetting sins is criticalness and judgment. Sometimes I keep my little critique-y commentary to myself, but sometimes (usually to my husband) I just let fly with my tactful yet pointed assessment of something that's actually none of my business, rationalizing it to myself as "honest", "authentic", or "concerned". I'm working on it, but God's not done yet.

Today, we went out for brunch after Mass with several friends. One of them is a guy who I already realized is a wonderfully enthusiastic flat-out servant of God. He was talking about a priest-friend of his who is suffering considerable health problems that are greatly hampering his life and ministry and who, despite it all, hasn't been able to quit smoking. Did he at all imply in word or tone any contempt or criticism for this? Not at all. I believe his phrase was, "It has a strong grip on him that he hasn't yet been able to break." There was no hinted implication of weakness or poor judgment.

I was stunned. In a quiet way, relevant facts were presented without either criticism or the mealy-mouthed "it's no big deal" rationale which is my other automatic response to such things.

I'm sure my friend didn't have to think twice about how he spoke because he's been yielding up more and more of himself to Christ for decades. I admire him and would like to be more like that.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Quick Takes, a day late

I've been looking forward to joining the "7 Quick Takes" bandwagon, and then I let Friday go by without doing anything about it. So, though a day late, I hope I'm not a dollar short. (That is a really lame use of idiom. Don't try this at home.)
  1. I've started an intermittent series of helpful hints over at In Dwelling that will be tagged "Let me 'splain it to you". Stop on by to say hello.

  2. One of my almas mater is playing the other one in football this afternoon. There is no contest for my affections. Go Blue!

  3. I'm sort of enjoying living a more simple life since our household financial situation has been affected by the downturn. I would like it, though, if travel could still be an intermittent part of our lives. My current cravings (besides cruising the country to visit my kids and hitting the Atlantic ocean from time to time) include the British Isles, Lebanon, and revisits to Italy and Turkey.

  4. I have the cutest grandchildren. Case closed.

  5. I was reared Catholic, spent 15 years at a Presbyterian Church, and then reverted to the Catholic Church in 2004. Therefore, I'm reasonably fluent in both Catholic and Evangelical language. I've been thinking of attempting some posts explaining some aspects of Catholicism in a way that attempts to be clear to Protestants in order to increase understanding. Would this be worthwhile, or has it been done to death? Any suggestions on what should be covered? Let me know your thoughts, either in the comment boxes or via email.

  6. I've been a little preoccupied with politics lately, what with concerns about choice and conscience provisions in health care and the propriety (or not) of calling the President of the United States a liar during an internationally-televised session of Congress. It's not very good for me. I have a pretty good analytical mind, but it's hard for me not to get bent out of shape and become argumentative. I hereby remind myself of my personal maxim: If I'm not required to hold an opinion on an issue or have no responsibility for an area, it's perfectly okay to delay forming (much less voicing) said opinion.

  7. I wish people would stop sending mail to my house with my late husband's (or my former married name) on it. I didn't live here until two weeks before Henry and I married, which should clearly demonstrate that Late Husband never had this address. The ultimate transgression happened today: Henry got mail addressed to "Mr. Henry Latehusbandname".

    Please cut it out, Stumpy's Sprinkler Maintenance and whoever else you are. If you haven't yet learned who lives here, chances are we don't value the communication you're sending. (Forgetful old friends who address correspondence while on autopilot are exempted from this scolding.)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Kids these days . . . may surprise you

The Longing Teaser 1 from Kerygma Studios on Vimeo.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Hey, listen to this

As I perused the latest copy of First Things, I found myself delighted with thoughts, articulations, and turns of phrase; I longed to have someone in the room to whom I could read them aloud and smile in shared enjoyment.

Like it or not, you, my friends, are my virtual companions. I will just have to imagine the shared smiles as we read some snippets from the October issue.

§ § §

It is an outrage, a shame and a scandal and a sin, that the old and ill should feel that they are alone with their demons, that those demons render their lives worthless, and that the only sensible, charitable thing to do is to take themselves and the demons as far out of everyone else's way as possible.
Sally Thomas, Letter

* * *

Sex is now considered a private recreational activity with no moral or social significance. The default setting in this society is that sex is sterile. Childbearing is available as an optional lifestyle extra, if you happen to like that sort of thing.
Jennifer Rabcock Morse, Letter

* * *

[H]is arguments seem coherent only because they are so perfectly circular.
David B. Hart, reviewing The Evolution of God by Robert Wright

* * *

In Loh's essay … a husband — as it happens, one of those husbands no longer interested in sex with his wife — bookmarks his pornography on the computer; his wife knows all about it, even reports it to her friends who are commiserating about their sexless marriages — and no one seems to connect the dots at all.
Mary Eberstadt

* * *

Existing economics has a negative moral content in that it treats economic factors as though they were pieces on a game board rather than human beings who learn, discover, and innovate.
Edmund Phelps

* * *

[T]here are two distinct tribes of Wind in the Willows lovers: those for whom Toad is what it's all about, and those for whom the milder adventures of Rat and Mole are the heart of the matter.
Alan Jacobs

* * *

When humanity is guided by the gospel, earthly reality can indeed prefigure, however modestly, the heavenly reality that is to come. Unguided by the gospel, earthly reality will become a mockery -- a false progress toward a false unity.
Douglas Farrow

* * *

[I]f you do not feel God's presence, you will become desperate to feel anything at all. Terror and horror create at least some kind of feeling. After pornography has jaded the capacity to feel pleasure, what remains is the capacity to feel fear and pain.
David P. Goldman

* * *

On Peter Seewald, author of Benedict XVI: An Intimate Portrait, in a review:

[B]y his own account, the answers Seewald received [from then-Cardinal Ratzinger] "grabbed him by the scruff of the neck." He started to read the gospels regularly and to go to Mass. Belief became a burning issue for him … He has now quietly returned to the Church, acknowledging that, by Catholic criteria, only a conservative can be progressive — which is to say, only someone who keeps the treasure of faith complete and intact is able to achieve progress.
George Cardinal Pell

* * *

The language of partnership with God is a tricky, dangerous one, easy to misunderstand — particularly if it is used by those whose rhetorical style is already messianic, as President Obama's is. And, besides, he didn't speak of preserving [life] and delaying [death]. He said flat outo that we are "God's Partners in Matters of life and death." The answer to which is simply: no. We're not.
* * *

The headline from a recent Newsweek article by Kathleen Kennedy Townsend reads: "Why Barack Obama represents American Catholics better than the Pope does." An alternative does suggest itself. "Why Barack Obama represents Kathleen Kennedy Townsend better than the Pope does."
"While We're At It"

Friday, September 11, 2009

On 9/11

Quoting someone I don't know who commented on a friend's Facebook post:
We all became more considerate, more respectful, more mature, almost instantly. Drivers drove their cars correctly. People held doors for one another. There was the tacit understanding that we were all "in this together." We put ourselves aside. We were as one. We could have moved a mountain. You could see it. You could feel it. It was real.

It only lasted two weeks. After that, we reverted. But to have seen it at all, even once in a lifetime, is a memory worth keeping.

I remember that. It was real. It was as if our national resentments were locked in a closet for a couple of weeks. Expressions of good will weren't only performed, they were honored. Pique felt cheap, and people apologized without being asked.

I think it was grace.

The person I was quoting is the sage Ed Gurney who blogs here.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

When this man speaks, I think I'll listen

Following today's theme of being late to the party, I just came across a terrific letter from Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison on the subject of Ted Kennedy, his funeral, his life and his Catholicism. (I, myself, am guilty of sniping at the Senator on, yes, this very blog, so the issue has significance for me.) I commend it to your reading if you are, like me, interested in parsing the nuance of important issues rather than picking a good-sounding bandwagon to jump on. (Scroll down through the first part of this good blog post to get to the letter in its entirety.)

Some excerpts:
The challenge for us as Catholics in the United States — and it is a challenge both personally and as a community — is to bridge that disconnect [between his strong leadership in helping the poor and downtrodden and his leadership against pro-life causes] and pull that whole seamless garment of the defense of life together, rather than rending that garment in twain and choosing one, while almost, or actually, excluding the other. The social teaching of the Church and her pro-life stance surely are interwoven as a seamless garment.

Here is something I did not know.
Senator Kennedy, a good number of years ago, convened a meeting of priests and very high-level theologians to address the issue of Catholic political leaders and their votes with regard to abortion. . . . Sadly, that meeting simply became another occasion for the development by theologians of the “two-conscience” approach to the faith for Catholic political leaders — that is the approach which says, “privately I’m opposed to abortion, but in the public arena there are other conflicting responsibilities which allow me to vote in favor of legal abortion." . .

[I]f Senator Kennedy was given this advice and this approach, this “catechesis” — false though it is — by prominent theologians, it could at least be said that there was some ground for confusion and ambiguity in his own practice about these matters. The priests and theologians who counseled Senator Kennedy are not free of blame for causing the confusion and the ambiguity through false catechesis.

The bishop goes on to say:
God forbid that I be taken as making excuses for Teddy Kennedy’s behavior in certain areas, yet Senator Kennedy’s having written a personal letter to our Holy Father during his last days, a letter that was hand-delivered by President Obama, is also an indication that he believed that the pope alone was the Vicar of Christ, and he wanted to make absolutely sure that our Holy Father received his letter. And too, since priests were regularly present to him during his final year and final days, it would be more reasonable than not to believe that he had made a good confession.

Regarding concerns about offering Senator Kennedy a public Catholic funeral:
he death of Senator Kennedy has called forth at least an apparent rejection of mercy on the part of not a few Catholics. On the cross of Christ, God’s justice came into conflict with God’s mercy. God’s justice was fully satisfied, but mercy triumphed in the conflict, according to the teaching of Pope Benedict. Without denying any misdeeds on the part of Senator Kennedy, the Church, seeking to reflect the face of Christ, proclaimed God’s mercy for the whole world to see in a subdued but unmistakable way. It was more than appropriate.

Food for thought.

Happy belated birthday, Holy Mother

I love Mary. I'm still early in getting to know her, but a deep affection is growing. So, Mama Mary, if you'll please overlook the lateness of this birthday greeting, I'd like to post this in your honor.

UPDATE: The video I originally posted was pulled, but here's another, equally beautiful.

An angel-voiced Joan Baez singing the traditional Virgin Mary had a One Son from a 1977 concert.

Lyrics, courtesy of uuLyrics by way of Jendi Reiter:
Virgin Mary had a one son,
Oh, glory halleluja,
Oh, pretty little baby,
Glory be to the new born King.

Well, Mary how you call that pretty little baby,
Oh, pretty little baby,
Oh, pretty little baby,
Glory be to the new born King.

Well, some call Him Jesus, think I'll call Him Savior
Oh, I think I'll call Him Savior
Oh, I think I'll call Him Savior,
Glory be to the new born King.

Riding from the East there came three wise man,
Oh, came three wise man,
Oh, came three wise man,
Glory to be the new born King.

Said, Follow that star, you'll surely find the baby,
Oh, surely find the baby,
Oh, surely find the baby,
Glory be to the new born King.

Well, the Virgin Mary had a one son, etc.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Knocking, 21st-century style



Sample Text

We are grateful ladies with a point of view and a sense of humor. Like-hearted people are welcome. Others, too.

For a glimpse at our lighter side, hop over to In Dwelling.

E-mail us.

Sample text

"There is no God who condones taking the life of an innocent human being. This much we know."

Pres. Barack Obama, Feb 5, 2009