February 27, 2007

Prioritizing, Tithing and Honest Truth

My credit card company does a really helpful thing. They sent me a summary of all of my 2006 purchases using their card. It's my only credit card so it's pretty easy to see where most of my money went. It won't have expenditures using my debit card/checking account but it's still helpful and interesting. I looked at my bank summary for last year as well. I went a step further and compared my 2006 statement from my parish.

Well, it's plain to see that my parish was not #1 on my list of expenditures.

By far the largest chunk of my expenditures was cycling related. I spent A LOT of money at Erik's Bike Shop (Erik the Bike Man!) in 2006. I bought a new bike, lots of new cycling clothes, accessories, bike repair, bike ride entry fees etc.

Another big expense was an emergency plumbing repair at home as well as various car repair expenses. Those are necessities so nothing to criticize there.

I spend a lot of money on food. Dining out, groceries etc. Too much is spent on dining out.

One of my Lent 2007 resolutions was not to eat in our company cafeteria and, instead, give the estimated $40/week I spend there to my parish.

I'm going to continue that resolution going forward.

Our finance committee already told us that 2007 is going to be a tough year for our parish. We are losing one big source of income and we will finish this year in the red if we don't make up that loss. We were in the black with a surplus in 2006.

I, honestly, don't tithe enough anyway. Sometimes you need the truth. The credit card statement provided me with that.

As members of the Body of Christ, we need to hear the truth of our community's finances from our finance committee and/or our Pastor. Some parishes avoid any talk of money and finances. I think avoiding honest talk about the financial state of the parish is almost as bad as avoiding any kind of discussion about sin. Some parishes pick one or the other, but they should have both.

We don't need all affirmation all the time, we need to hear the honest, critical, truth. There is a way to be charitable about truth. You don't need to berate, yell and insult someone. But, it doesn't do us any good to constantly hear "I'm OK, You're OK". For proof of the fallout of the affirmation movement look no further then this study that was released today on self-centered youth: the products of 20 years of politically correct affirmation.

A real friend will tell you the truth. I can always count on my blog readers and fellow bloggers to point out my errors. I thank you for that. I have 35 years of dissenting Catholicism to overcome, I need all the help I can get.

My personal trainer told our class today, "What good are washboard abs if you can't see them under all your belly fat?" True. She said it straightforwardly, not snickering, not yelling. Just an honest, thoughtful, statement of fact. She has already proven her bona fides with the class as someone who truly cares about our fitness. We can take the truth. We need to hear it.

I think of Fr. Shane Tharp of the now defunct Catholic Ragemonkey blog who wrote about how his friend, Father Stephen Hamilton told him he was concerned about his friend's health because of his weight. Fr. Tharp publicly thanked Fr. Hamilton and is currently in a weight loss program. Now that's real friendship, right there. A friend sees you are on the path of self-destruction and intervenes.

A true Christian should intervene and point out, in charity, that something is an error. I would not be the Catholic I am today if my fellow Christians had not pointed out how I was wrong.

We must be our brother's keeper in that we take the time to speak up and speak the truth. Sometimes, it's hard for us on the receiving end to hear the truth but it's better to hear it and reject it then not to hear it at all.

Same with the Truths of our Faith. What good does it do any of us not to Evangelize? What if Peter had decided after Jesus' Ascension to go home and never to speak to anyone about his life with Jesus? We all know that Peter did not have an easy time teaching His Truth. A lot of people did not want to hear it and rejected it. However, many did accept it.

Speak Up! Honestly and Often.

February 26, 2007

Homogenization of Nearly Everything

I looked out my window this morning and saw a really big mound in the backyard. Could it be:

a) My picnic table under a big snowdrift?
b) The "Jesus Family Tomb"?
c) Just a big pile of snow?
d) A stash of guns and ammo left by the Barker-Karpis Gang.
e) Cathy, you are crazy!

Answer: There is no wrong answer.

You ask: "Why isn't (b) wrong?!?" Hey, if the Discovery Channel can have a documentary on some half-baked archeological discovery that James Cameron filmed, why can't I have a Jesus Tomb in my backyard?!?

You ask: "Why isn't (d) wrong?" St. Paul in the 1920s was full of gangsters, you just never know where some of their loot or guns could turn up.

If you answered (e). Well, you know it. 'Nuff said.

(a) and (c) are perfectly respectable answers. Boring. But, respectable.

I know you may find it hard to believe (ok, NONE of you find it hard to believe) but none of that idiocy has anything to do with my post title.

We are a boring culture. We are a homogenized culture.

When travelling across our Great Nation, it used to be that at the local roadside diner you could find examples of regional cuisine. For instance: Cranberry muffins in the Northwest, Huevos Rancheros in the Southwest, Key Lime Pie in Florida, Boston Baked Beans in the Northeast, Grits in the Deep South etc.

You can still find those dishes, however, you have to work harder for it now.

What kinds of restaurants dominate the Interstate exits now? That's right. Fast-food chains or national sit-down restaurant chains. I'm not even going to pick on one in particular. I've done a lot of car traveling across the U.S. and it seems like the same 5-10 restaurants are everywhere.

If Bob's Pancake Hut can afford the taxes to have a high-traffic location at or near the Interstate more power to him. More then likely, he can't. He's in town. The Interstate bypasses the town. Maybe he can afford a sign by the highway, maybe not. In any case, how many of us will venture off the highway to patronize Bob anyway?

Don't most of us take the "safe route" and stay by the Interstate with the food we know? We may not love it, but we know what's on the menu, what the portions are, about how much it will cost etc.

We are a nation of Interstates. Most of us use the Interstate to take us to point B and we don't get off of it. We bypass everything.

You see this in town too. How many people on I-35W get off at Lake Street and eat at any of the really good, homemade, Mexican restaurants in that area? Probably not many. Locals maybe. But, then again we know they are there. Plus, you have to make it past the Golden Arches-which got the prime spot right off the exit ramp.

Then, there is the perception that the neighborhood is not "safe". How many neighborhoods are "safe". What do you mean by "safe"?

I was in a upper class neighborhood restaurant in St. Paul about a month ago and someone popped my gas door and stole my gas cap while I was in the restaurant.

I've parked on University to eat at Cheng Heng many times and never had anything stolen.

Safety is relative.

But, is it worth our effort to be safe if it costs us our identities? Our identities as a Nation, as a region, as a neighborhood?

I think most of us would say: yes. Because we have already voted with our feet and our pocketbooks.

The homogenization extends: Shopping malls nationwide have pretty much the same stores in them. It used to be a treat to go shopping when I traveled because you could hit the local stores. Great, where are they now? They've either gone under or they were purchased by Federated (Federated is not the only culprit but I miss my Dayton's!) and they all have pretty much the same "blueprint". They may tweak a few things locally here and there but they will all tell you they can't make a profit if they have to "customize their brand" too much.

Is there homogenization of religions too? Think about it.

Don't we have Baptist and Shaker hymns being sung in Catholic churches?
Protestants who pray on rosary beads?
Jewish Sader Meals during Holy Thursday Mass?
Adeste Fidelis and Veni, Veni, Emanuel sung at Methodist parishes?

Do we each need our respective religious culture? Does it matter? Is this what ecumenism, which I'm told is to be desired, all about? Or, is this "new ageism" at work? Isn't New Age really a hodgepodge of religious practices too? Is there a difference between ecumenism and New Age? Meow, slap me.

Honestly, I'm dismayed by the thought of all of the items listed in the homogenization of religions section above. Everything on it is based upon a factual event.

Is the Rosary belittled when people just pray "whatever" on the pretty beads? I can't see Protestants enjoying the Marian aspect of our Rosary.

Is it ok to sing Protestant composed hymns at Mass? I will say: no. If Protestants understood our Theology, they would still be Catholics. What kind of Theology do they write about? Not entirely Catholic, that's what. Are there no Catholic composers? Were they ever any? Of course there are/were.

Sader Meals during Holy Thursday? What's up with that?!? Some priest must have gotten tired of washing feet. Too bad. Offer the stench up.

The last one: Adeste Fidelis and Veni, Veni, Emanuel sung at at Methodist church amused me. You can barely hear those hymns sung in Latin in a Catholic parish-which is probably fodder for a new post someday.

Our Nation is "billed" as the Great Melting Pot. For all the talk about immigrants not learning English and retaining too much of their own culture: Don't worry about it. History has shown that immigrants assimilate. It may take 2-3 generations but it will happen.

Is assimilation always a good thing? I'm thinking now in terms of our identity as Catholics. I believe we assimilated about 40 years ago. Look where we are now. Good? Bad? Are things changing for us? Are Catholics becoming a distinct "culture" again? I think the more traditional Catholics are reclaiming more of our historical Catholic culture and identity. One day, will that be all of us?

More questions, though you may have your own:

If we as Catholics are homogenized will that make us boring? Irrelevant? Great?

If we want to keep our distinct Catholic identity do we lose all credibility complaining about immigrants who seem to want to retain their own culture and language?

Is allowing more faith traditions access to our Catholic traditions good because it will help convert them?

Discuss.

I, frequently, have meandering, philosophical posts so feel free to tell me you are not following me, you agree, you disagree, have something to add etc.

February 25, 2007

SNOW!



8-10 inches on the ground at my home in St. Paul and it's still coming down! Yippee!!!

My street is not plowed yet. I'm really glad I went to Mass last night.

Update 6:00 p.m.: There has got to be over a foot in some places. The drifts by my garage and in some locations around my house (especially the East and West sides) are really deep. I helped push my neighbors car out. That's one. I'm surprised there was only one. Tomorrow, there may be more to push.

My street is only plowed down the middle and that was by a kind neighbor with a plow on his pickup. St. Paul waited to declare a snow emergency until tonight. Tomorrow, is going to be a bad commute. I'm going to work from home. No way, am I going to try and drive all the way out to the SW suburbs to get to the office tomorrow.

Be safe, everyone.

Update 8:30 a.m. on Feb. 26th: 13.4 inches in St. Paul.

February 23, 2007

I'm Stunned

Gentle Reader: If you've read my blog long enough, you know I go out of my way to avoid mentioning the parish in South Minneapolis that I used to belong to for many years.

Sometimes, said parish does things that blow even me away.

A friend, whom I'm sorry to say, still attends said parish told me I should come on down for some theology classes they are offering. Before I even read about it, I said, "No, thanks" I'm well aware (now) of what a distorted view the educators in said parish hold of the Catholicism.

I could not help myself. My curiosity got the better of me so here's the overview of the "theology" classes from the Sunday, Feb. 18th bulletin

St. Joan’s Theology 101: Lent 2007 Wednesday Adult Forum. This series is a basic introduction to an overview of the theological vision and practices that shape the life of the St. Joan of Arc community. Every Wednesday beginning Feb. 28 following soup supper and the prayer service. Led by parish staff and parishioners.

Feb. 28: “How We See God: A Creation-Centered Vision”
March 7: “Sin and Salvation: the Mission of Liberation in the Here and Now”
March 14: “Spirituality: Opening Ourselves to Mystical (and Earthy) Encounters”
March 21: “Following and Becoming Jesus: Practicing a Low Christology”
March 28: “Summed Up in Worship: the Joyful Liturgy and Rituals of St. Joan’s”


I did not change a word of the bulletin column. That is exactly what it says.

In the 20 some years, I've "known" this parish: this is the first time I can recall them being so blatently truthful about whose "theology" they really espouse.

I have no more to say, I'm stunned. I can't even be sarcastic or humorous about it.

Another Blog Bites the Dust

Father's Tharp and Hamilton are closing Catholic Ragemonkey .

I'm sad. The Ragemonkey was among the first Catholic blogs that I started reading.

However, it's obvious lately that they don't have a lot of time for posting. That's a good thing. Now, they have even more time to teach and spread His Gospel.

Thank you, Fathers.

February 22, 2007

Catholic Spirit on Pope and the Witch Again

This weeks Catholic Spirit has an editorial AND an article decrying the University of Minnesota's plan to stage The Pope and the Witch.

I am quite pleased that the heat is being turned up.

However, I found this upsetting:

"Steven Rosenstone, dean of the University of Minnesota’s College of Liberal Arts, which includes the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance, said he understands how Catholics might be offended by “The Pope and the Witch.” However, he does not believe the play is anti-Catholic.

“It’s a very satirical and aggressive attack on the institution of the church. There’s no doubt about that,” Rosenstone said. “But, . . . I don’t think it’s an attack on faith.”

Dialogue, not censorship, is the best response, Rosenstone added. “Universities are places where all kinds of views are welcome and there is open discussion of views that some people don’t like.”

The university will host a forum following the March 8 performance, where the public will have an opportunity to express their opinions.

A panel of experts at the forum is not planned to include an official Catholic representative, Rosenstone said, adding that “nobody was selected for the panel on the basis of faith or religion.”


The play ENDS on March 9th. The night before it's all over, they are finally going to have a dicussion forum. To make matters worse, no one on the panel of experts appears to be a practicing Catholic. Nor did the U go out of their way to find one.

Earlier this month, the U had a discussion entitled: What Non-Muslims Should Know About Muslims--And Why". They could find Muslims to talk about their Faith, but no Catholics to defend theirs?

Once again, we hear the old: "it's an attack on the institution, but not the Faith" What the ____is the difference? A non-Catholic thinks it's perfectly acceptable to completely seperate the two. The Anglicans are doing just fine with that approach these days, aren't they?

Furthermore, is that March 8th discussion open to the general public or just ticket buyers?

Ask Cathy

Q: Cathy, as a revert, you seem to do a lot of reading on Church teachings. I pray you can help me. At nearly every Sunday Mass, a pair of gossiping old ladies will sit right behind and me and talk to each other during much of the Mass. It's very distracting and it angers me. Even though there are a lot of empty pews, they sit right behind me. Tell me, have you ever run across a scriptural, catachetical or legal justification for this? Is this type of behavior condoned? I want to go to my Pastor but I'm afraid that perhaps these ladies know some secret item in Canon Law that gives them the right to behave as they do. Can you help?

Sincerely In Christ,
Toolmaster of Brainerd.


Toolmaster of Brainerd:

God Bless You. Thank you for your letter. It's amazing but, I, too, have observed this phenomenon. Actually, that same kind of thing happens to me on the bus. The entire bus will be empty and the skank with the smelly breath must sit by me.

I have to think that your aura of holiness is attractive to these people which is why they want to be near you. Hey, are you a single Catholic man between the ages of 35-45? If yes, call me.

Anger before receiving the Eucharist is not a good thing. You need to calm down. Personally, I have refrained from receiving Communion when I have anger in my heart.

I don't think it's fair to stereotype everyone who does this kind of thing as a "gossipy old lady". I think there is no age limit to this type of insensitivity. Plus, really, if you think about it, people talking while in the presence of the Lord is nothing new. The historical record tells us there were people murmuring and muttering amongst themselves in the very presence of Christ, Himself, while he was trying to teach. And, we all can pretty much guess what happened to them can't we?... But, I digress...

You could respond in several ways:

1) Perfect the art of the Stone-Dead Stare. Look at some mugshots of mass murderers and terrorists for inspiration.
2) Interpret "pick up your cross and following Him" as picking up each lady and depositing her outside the door.
3) Verbal correction: "Hey, ya old bags, can't ya see I'm worshipin' here?!?!"

Frankly, none of these 3 ways, is a Christian solution to the problem. Tempting though...Ok, never mind.

I searched and I searched and I honestly do not believe these individuals have any excuse for what they are doing. I can find nothing to justify their behavior.

But, you just never know when a Catholic is going to invoke the "Spirit of Vatican II"-a spirit that seems to carry all before it in a tidal wave of dissent. You need to be ready.

I recommend you go to your Pastor and tell him what is happening. Respectfully, suggest that a reminder of the appropriate conduct during Mass may be a necessary. Father could print a reminder in the bulletin, mention it before the homily, or post a reminder near the doors. Be armed with actual documents of Vatican II, in case you find it necessary to back up what you are saying. Many priests know what the documents of Vatican II ACTUALLY said. Whereas, others, well....that "Spirit of Vatican II" is a powerful force of evil in our time.

Personally, I like this paragraph in Sacrosanctum Concilium (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy):

30. To promote active participation, the people should be encouraged to take part by means of acclamations, responses, psalmody, antiphons, and songs, as well as by actions, gestures, and bodily attitudes. And at the proper times all should observe a reverent silence.

I don't have a high-level degree in Catholic Studies, Theology or Divinity, but I interpret this paragraph to mean that: unless the faithful are prompted by the "script" (read: your missalette or General Instruction of the Roman Missal) or invited by the Priest or the musicians to sing, verbally respond or contribute in some way to what is unfolding on the altar before them---

SHUT UP!

With reverence, of course.

Claiming the Protection of the Blood of the Lamb,
Cathy

February 21, 2007

Call To Action Appeal Fails

Mr. Gerald Augustinus has the story.

Call to Action's appeal to the Vatican to overturn Bishop Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska, excommunication of them has failed.

Some people may be surprised that CTA bothered with the appeal.

I'm not.

Either way, they win.

If they were exonerated they could keep on as they've been doing with what seems to be a "stamp of approval"

If they were not successful in their appeal, as appears to be the case, they win too. Why? Now, they can be heroes and martyrs for the dissident Catholic set.

Ultimately, it would not have mattered what came from Rome. CTA members barely recognize Church authority anyway. They have no intention as an organization of stopping. Already, I've heard that they are renaming some of their organizations to get around the excommunications.

Catholic dissenting organizations and parishes excel at "getting around" Church requirements. I've witnessed this and was a participant in this kind of manipulative thought for most of my life.

I used to be a CTA member-among my many other shameful organization memberships. I'm not now and I've have admitted that membership in the Confessional and received pardon for it.

CTA members: What are you doing? Come back, please.

Growing Closer to Him

And We're Off! Today it begins.

Since my reversion, two years ago, I like to start Lent with a clean slate. I seek out a Confessional before Ash Wednesday. It does not mean I won't fall on my face again before the First Sunday of Lent but, at least, this year I'm trying. There were many years I was, supposedly, a Catholic but could not have cared less about the "old stuff" like Repentence and Absolution.

I'll be at Confession again before Lent is over. At least one more time. Last year, I went to Confession four times during Lent. Including twice in 24 hours.

I really LOVE Confession. Some of you reading that think I'm crazy. I can hardly wait to get there. Sometimes, it's difficult to get the words out. Sometimes, I don't always feel all the weight has lifted afterwards. Why? Probably because I'm not repentent enough. I'm not always fully conscious of how my sins have hurt Him.

I have found 2 items that really help me. You can buy both of them at Leaflet Missal Company

An Examination of Conscience: A Preparation for the Sacrament of Penance by Fr. Robert Altier
My Prayer Book by Fr. Lasance

Fr. Lasance has a wonderful section on Confession. The following has really helped me develop true contrition.

CONSIDERATIONS TO EXCITE IN OUR HEART TRUE CONTRITION FOR OUR SINS

CONSIDER Who He is, and how good and gracious He is to you, Whom you have so often and so deeply offended by these sins. He made you -- He made you for Himself, to know, love, and serve Him, and to be happy with Him forever. He redeemed you by His blood. He has borne with you and waited for you so long. He it is Who has called you and moved you to repentance. Why have you thus sinned against Him? Why have you been so ungrateful? What more could He do for you? Be ashamed, and mourn, and despise yourself, because you have sinned against your Maker and your Redeemer Whom you ought to love above all things!

Consider the consequences of even one mortal sin. By it you lose the grace of God. You destroy peace of conscience; you forfeit the felicity [i.e. the great happiness] of heaven, for which you were created and redeemed; and you prepare for yourself eternal punishment. If we grieve for the loss of temporal and earthly things, how much more should we grieve for having deliberately exposed ourselves to the loss of those which are eternal and heavenly!

Consider how great is the love of God for you, if only from this, that He has so long waited for you, and spared you, when He might have so justly cast you into hell. Behold Him fastened to the cross for love of you! Behold Him pouring forth His precious blood as a fountain to cleanse you from your sins. Hear Him saying, "I thirst," -- " I thirst with an ardent desire for your salvation!" Behold Him stretching out His arms to embrace you, and waiting until you should come to yourself and turn unto Him, and throw yourself before Him, and say, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and am no more worthy to be called your son." Let these considerations touch your heart with love for Him Who so loves you, and love will beget true contrition, most acceptable to God.

Say an Our Father, a Hail Mary, and a Glory Be to obtain true contrition. Say an Act of Contrition.


As a Catholic one of the Five Precepts of the Church is to go to Confession at least once/year. Most go at Easter time so sometimes this is called the Easter Obligation. Another reason for Confessing at Easter is that another Precept of the Church is to receive Holy Communion, at a minimum, during the Easter time.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church 2nd edition 2041-2043 has information on the Precepts of the Church.

I was in the Confessional last night and someone dropped a kneeler right as I was reciting "the good stuff". I was sure Father could not hear me. Maybe he couldn't, but God could, so don't worry about it. Before he assigned my Penance and gave me Absolution, Father said: "If you have not already selected what you will do for Lent that will enable you to grow closer to Him, please do so"

Hey, wait a minute, how did he know about my agony of this last week on what to "do" for Lent? Father didn't, but the Lord did. The Lord spoke thru the Priest last night. No one will ever tell me differently.

I finally GOT IT. It's not about how much you "do" or even what you do. If it bring you closer to Him, that's the main thing.

I happen to be someone who requires discipline or else I get lazy. I will still do what I said earlier for Lent. However, there may be someone who chooses to simply recite one prayer/day. That person may pack more spirituality and meaning into that one prayer by their careful meditation on each word then I will do for the entire 40 days. More power to them.

Whatever you do this Lent. Make it count. Grow closer to Him. Consider going to Confession-especially those of you who have not been in quite a while. Most parishes have aids to assist you and Lent is the time when those "how to confess" pamphlets are usually out.

February 20, 2007

Cathy's Parish Calendar



Why does the 2007 calendar that my parish gave out at the beginning of the year have art by a Mormon?

Are there NO modern Roman Catholic artists capable of illustrating a calendar? I'm pretty sure the answer to that question is: no.

I really looked at my calendar today. The artwork for this month depicts The Agony in the Garden at Gethsemene-as we Catholics usually refer to the event. In this case, the artwork is titled: The Olive Press. But, I ask you, where's the Agony? I mean, this Jesus looks like He's lounging around waiting for someone to come by with dinner. He looks a little perturbed, not agonized. Where's the blood? Where's the Angel with the Cup? His nimbus is so faint, He could almost be any man. Look at the background. The Apostles are supposed to be sleeping. Here it looks like they are swooning. Who sleeps standing up? Well, I suppose some people do. I witness the phenomenon of people sleeping standing up, daily, at work.

When I looked at every month, it occurred to me that this art looks a lot like the art that adorns my Mormon friends home.

Sure enough, the artist Delwin (Del) Parson is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I have nothing against Mr. Parson's (what a name!) religious interpretation; it's fine if you are a PROTESTANT. But, this calendar is in use in a Roman Catholic parish. Possibly, many parishes. This calendar has Protestant perspectives of Biblical events.

The name of the calendar is God's Gift and it is printed by Norwood. It has my parishes worship times and address on it. It also has the major Roman Catholic Feast days and Holy Days of Obligation.

But, who is responsible for ordering these calendars? The parish? Does the Archdiocese get a bulk rate? I don't know who to take this issue up with because I don't know how the process of getting these calendars works. If anyone knows, please comment.

Notes: There is a larger image available here. Also, there is more of Mr. Parson's work from this calendar on this page. Not everything on that page is in the calendar but several of the artworks are.

Father Zuhlsdorf Joins the Fight!

Father Z joins The Pope & The Witch fight!

Heureux Mardi Gras Tout Le Monde!

En particulier, cher, Georgette!

February 18, 2007

Draggin' at Daytona

Wow! What a race! Harvick over Martin in a photo finish. Wrecks galore in the final lap. Bowyer crossed the finish line on his roof and in flames. One of the wildest finishes in Daytona 500 history.

My guy, Martin Truex Jr., had a shot at winning and led for several laps but finished in the garage. Unfortunately, a lot of big drivers ended in a similar fashion: Johnson, Junior, Smoke.

My guy placed 6th in the Busch Saturday. I think he's going to be tough this year. He was not in the final cup contention last year, but he finished strong in the last few races of '06.

After my guy was out of it, I was really routing for Mark Martin. A legend and a mentor to many drivers. A true class act. It would have been Martin's first victory in 22 tries. Alas, it was not to be.

I don't think I drew breath for the last 40 laps. Must get oxygen now.....

February 16, 2007

The Results are In!

The Catholic Blog Award 2007 results are up. Congratulations to the bloggers with the most votes!

Every faithful Catholic blogger is a winner in my book. You are a witness to His Truth.

As a result of the Sweeps Week trolling, we probably all have some new blogs to read, eh?

Remember

Lent Discipline 2007

I've finally decided what I'm going to "do" for Lent 2007. Yes, really. I'm not going to change my mind for 2 reasons:
1) my lunch break is almost over,
2) I'm giving up indecision in anticipation of Quinquagesima (after that all bets are off!)

* Frequent Adoration
* I will not eat at the company cafeteria, I will bring breakfast/lunch everyday.
* I spend about $40/week in the cafeteria. I'm taking the Unknown Angel of God's advice from the comments on one of my previous posts and I'm giving this money to my parish. (So, Fr. Ryan, be ready. I know you read my blog!)
* Pray the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary every day.
* Mass attendance as close to daily as I can manage with my work schedule.
* Fast and Abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday
* Abstain from meat on Fridays
* Confession before Lent kicks off and just before my Confirmation. Ultimately, I'll probably celebrate this Sacrament more then twice.
* Meditate upon the Seven Last Words of Christ.
* Benediction and Stations of the Cross every Friday
* Assist with Lenten Soup Supper at my parish.
* I like Histor the Wise's suggestion to read something "heavy". Leaflet Missal here I come! Terry, I expect you to wait on me when I get there!
* If the Holy Father's book Jesus of Nazareth is published before Easter, as expected, I'll definitely be reading that.

I decided to discipline myself. Ray from MN and Angela Messenger's communique's were especially helpful. But, I liked Terry's comment in my post the other day very much too. I'll keep that one in mind.

A heartfelt thanks and a deep curtsy to all who advised me and/or prayed on it.

Catholic Blogging

No matter what comes out of the Catholic Blog Awards or who the "winners" are, I want everyone to know that I think there have been many, simply, superb posts in the Catholic blogosphere in the last couple of weeks.

Keep it up!

Deep Curtsy to all members of the Blog Collective. Thanks for stopping by.

Signed,

One of Many

A Glimpse into Cathy's Workday

February 15, 2007

Why Only 40 Days?

I've been reflecting and praying on this post from yesterday about Lenten Discipline.

I looked at the list of what I "did" for Lent last year and with a few exceptions it's pretty much what I do now.

Then, I thought: Why have a Lenten discipline(s)? Am I mistaken in believing that we should be sacrificing all year long for Our Lord? Shouldn't the entire year be a Lent, not just 40 days?

I thought: If I'm only sacrificing or REALLY devoting myself to Him for 40 days a year then my Faith is pretty weak.

Sacrifice, to me, usually means: time, money, and food.

We should be living in Christ year-round, right? Why not sacrificing for Him too?

Update 5 minutes later: It's me again. Fractal for Brains. Anyway, I realize that some people, myself included, occasionally need a big kick in the heinie to get ourselves motivated. For instance: I am currently taking a 5:00 a.m. workout class called: Bootcamp: Look Good Naked. Or, as I like to call it: Dead: Look Good In Your Coffin at Your Wake. My friends all think I'm nuts to sign up for this class that early in the morning. Well, when you need it, you need it. I'm an early riser and I was going to the gym regularly but I won't work out at the level of intensity on my own without the additional motivation. Is the correlation here with Lent? If anyone is still with me, let me know. Is the need for more motivation why we have Lenten Discipline?

February 14, 2007

Gather Us In

Do you hate that song as much as I do? Good. Now check out this fine parody by Angela Messenger

Please Be My Valentine



Faithmouse has a sobering Valentine message.

Desperately Seeking Lenten Discipline

Ash Wednesday is next week and I STILL can't decide what my Lenten disciplines should be in A.D. 2007.

I'm seeking suggestions from my blog readers. Or, perhaps, let me know what you are planning to do.

This is what I did last year which was my first, actually Catholic Lent in 37 years:

* Frequent Adoration
* Gave up ice cream
* Prayed the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary every day.
* Mass attendance as often as I could.
* Fasted and Abstained from meat on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday
* Abstained from meat on Fridays
* Confession (I think I went at least 4 times. Including twice in 24 hours!)
* Meditated upon the Seven Last Words of Christ.
* Benediction and Stations of the Cross every Friday
* Assisted with Lenten Soup Supper at my parish.

For A.D. 2007, I am already committed to assisting with my parish's Lenten Soup Suppers. On the Fridays I'm assisting with the Soup Suppers, I'll be at the Benediction and Stations of the Cross devotion afterwards. This year, I was asked to lead one of the Soup Suppers. I said yes.

I already know this Lent will be special for me. I'm on track to be Confirmed. I'm taking classes from Fr. Robert Altier so you know they are good (ME taking classes from Fr. Altier. You're right, I can't believe it either!). I think I will be Confirmed on Holy Saturday but I'm not quite sure about the date yet.

Suggestions? Anyone, anyone? Bueller, Bueller?

Love

"Love, soft as an easy chair
Love, fresh as the morning air
One love that is shared by TWO"


SCREEEEEEECH

Not sure what happened there.

Anyway, Happy St. Valentine's Day my blog readers! Love, Love, Hug, Hug, Kiss, Kiss.

O.K., enough. I can only be a saccharine sap for so long.

For us singletons, Valentine's Day can pretty much be a major bummer. We've only been told to prepare for this day since New Year's Day ended. You DON'T have plans? You did NOT get a bunch of flowers? LOSER! At least, that's how we can be made to feel.

Hallmark and American Greetings are not getting me down this year. No sir. This year, I have the Lord.

I have had Valentine's Days in the past where I was "with" someone, yet I never felt so alone.

Not this year: I have the Lord.

My plan for the day, after I get done checking in with my PO (read: Boss), and serving my time in day prison (read: work) is to spend some time with my Main Man in Adoration. I also plan to send him some roses via His Mom's Rosary. What better way to win a man's heart then win over his Mom, right? Later, I have my Catholicism class so I can learn more about my Main Man and His Truth.

Big love to my sister-in-chains, Adoro! I'm sending prayers and a cake (with a big file in it!). Also, love, to Ray from MN, Terry from the Abbey, Hadleybloggers, Happy Catholic, Angela Messenger, Christine, all other Catholic bloggers, my family and friends, and my parish of St. Andrew!

February 13, 2007

CNN

Open question: Did American Media Inc (owner of the National Enquirer and Star!) buy CNN from Time Warner?

Seriously.

I look at CNN.com these days and it's all film clips, dead former porn stars, crazy astronauts, bad weather, dogs, and how to get a divorce on Valentine's Day.

The day's biggest news story, IMHO, is the fact that North Korea, supposedly, agreed to dismantle its nuclear program in exchange for $400 million in economic, humanitarian and energy aid. It is barely on the news radar. (Honestly, North Korea, is to be commended for its mastery in the fine art of extortion on this one)

I Wish I'd Written That!

Today's Pioneer Press (St. Paul) has the following letter to the editor:

If embryonic stem-cell research were truly promising, its progress would not depend on the government. Perhaps the lack of interest from industry and venture capitalists is because it is not as promising as claimed.

The media hypes embryonic stem-cell research as if it is guaranteed to cure disease if the government increases funding; this only gives unfounded hopes to suffering people. There have been no clinical trials with embryonic stem cells. Adult stem cells have been used successfully for treating more than 70 diseases (stemcellresearch.org) and are currently being used in 1,100 FDA-approved trials.

As a scientist, I feel strongly that money and attention should be diverted to work with adult stem cells rather than research fraught with ethical concerns that has no outlook for implementation. How will future generations regard us for ignoring life-saving scientific data to make a political statement about defining human life?

--Adrienne E. O'Connor, Minnetrista
The writer is a chemical engineer.

Deep curtsy to this learned lady. I assure you, this is not one of my many aliases. I did not write this excellent letter. I wish I had.

February 12, 2007

Examine Your Sources!

One of the biggest challenges librarians and teachers face is teaching that sources of information should not just be copied verbatim and taken at face value. We try to teach students and researchers (often the same person!), of any age, that just because it's in print does not mean it's true. Similarly, to examine that just because it's in print it may be true.

In other words, we try to teach seekers to examine their sources carefully. This is tailored to different age levels and levels of knowledge but the basis premise is the same. Teaching the seeker to "research the research".

When I was a kid I remember trekking to my neighborhood public library, when I was not using the school library, and looking up assignments in the World Book Encyclopedia. I, like many young students, copied a lot of the text verbatim onto our papers. The teacher knew we did this, of course. The point when we were very young was to get us to use the library and know some standard reference sources.

Gradually, as I got older it became unacceptable to just copy the text. The teacher wanted it in our own words. Eventually, they wanted our own words and many sources.

When I was in school, there was more physical effort to find source material. I had to walk, bike or take the bus to the library. We did not own a set of encylopedias at home and there was no World Wide Web then. Owning a computer in the home was unimaginable. We did not subscribe to the newspaper or really any magazines. We had one television in the house with about 5 channels.

Information now is much more readily available. We have seen the decline or outright cancellation of many, of what used to be, standard print references. Everyone just wants to go to the Web and Google it.

A lot of people don't realize that NOT EVERYTHING is on the Web. There are excellent materials that never will be on the Web due to their rarity or fragility. I work with educated people everyday who think they can just type in a search term and there it will be. They are frustrated when they realize that is not always the case.

However, no matter what our source material: webpage, book, microfilm, cassette tape, podcast, we need to be careful to examine the source.

Is the source biased? Do they prove their material with references? Do the references check out? Does their research method make sense? Do their statistics add up? What's the margin of error?

Misuse of source material is the number one weapon of dissenting Catholics. A lot of the time the dissenting Catholics don't know what they profess is wrong because they don't know the source material to begin with. They just heard this or were told that. This is easier to believe so it must be true.

KNOWING the source material is the number one weapon of faithful Catholics. You don't have to have a degree in Catholic Apologetics from a university to be an effective Catholic apologist.

Realizing that I had learned Catholicism based upon defective source material was the number one reason for my reversion. When I actually went and read a Catechism I was stunned. When I actually took the time to read some of the documents of the Second Vatican Council II was overpowered by truth and ashamed of my malleable stupidity.

For years, I was taught, and I believed, that the Catholic church's teaching on conscience means we can all follow as much or as little of Catholicism as we, personally, see fit. I was even given isolated quotes from the Catechism that seemed to support this. For example:

1782 Man has the right to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions. "He must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience. Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters."53

53=Dignitatis Humanae 3$2

Once I actually picked up a Catechism and read it. I was dismayed to realize that there was an entire section on Erroneous Judgement that had been conveniently left out of most of the "englightened" Catholic works I'd been encouraged to read. For example:

1792 Ignorance of Christ and his Gospel, bad example given by others, enslavement to one's passions, assertion of a mistaken notion of autonomy of conscience, rejection of the Church's authority and her teaching, lack of conversion and of charity: these can be at the source of errors of judgment in moral conduct.

Furthermore, the formation of conscience should be done in accordance with:

1785 In the formation of conscience the Word of God is the light for our path,54 we must assimilate it in faith and prayer and put it into practice. We must also examine our conscience before the Lord's Cross. We are assisted by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, aided by the witness or advice of others and guided by the authoritative teaching of the Church.55

54=Psalm 119:105
55=Dignitatis Humanae 14

Well, I was definitely aided by the advice of others (erroneous as it was). "guided by the authoritative teaching of the Church" that was a new one. What authoritative teaching?

And so it began. The dominoes of lies began to fall.

Humility, Always, Humility

My Fellow Catholic Bloggers, I feel that during Blog Sweeps Week the following reminder may be appropriate:

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved...
From the desire of being extolled ...
From the desire of being honored ...
From the desire of being praised ...
From the desire of being preferred to others...
From the desire of being consulted ...
From the desire of being approved ...
From the fear of being humiliated ...
From the fear of being despised...
From the fear of suffering rebukes ...
From the fear of being calumniated ...
From the fear of being forgotten ...
From the fear of being ridiculed ...
From the fear of being wronged ...
From the fear of being suspected ...

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I ...
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease ...
That others may be chosen and I set aside ...
That others may be praised and I unnoticed ...
That others may be preferred to me in everything...
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should…

==Litany of Humility

The Wanderer Weighs In

I'm behind on my newspaper reading so I just read my copy of The Wanderer for February 1, 2007. Editor A.J. Matt, Jr. has an editorial critical of the Catholic Spirit and their profile on Senator Torres Ray.

I blogged about this issue previously here, here, here, here, and here

The Wanderer has a website but they only publish a few stories on it. This is not one of them. Track an issue down if you can. (Ray from MN: I will bring my copy for you to read when we meet for coffee later!)

In any event, The Wanderer is an excellent, faithfully, Catholic publication based in the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis. Yet another sign that not everything Catholic in this Archdiocese is lacking-despite all the bad blog press we frequently get.

Oh, and you SHOULD subscribe to The Wanderer. Seriously. You can request a free sample copy. (651) 224-5733. Fathers Altier, Cusick and Zuhlsdorf have regular columns. Thomas Roeser writes a very good, regular, political column. I'm always impressed by how well researched The Wanderer columns are; especially in this day and age where it seems anything in print is taken as authoritative even if there is absolutely no evidence to back it up.

February 11, 2007

The Many Faces of Cathy

Recently, I was exchanging email with my friend, Adoro and we spoke about some of our nicknames. We also spoke about our blog aliases.

I realized I have a LOT of names.

Here is a PARTIAL list:

Ja
Jan
Janet
Janie
Janice
JL
Cathy
Catherine
Cat
Cathy_of_Alex
Cathy_of_Alexandria
Makwa-Aazhogebizo-Gitchigami
Dear
Sweet Baboo
Wild Child
The Scammer

All me.

I've been reflecting upon my various identities lately. I don't mean to give the impression that I suffer from DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder). All of us have multiple aspects to our personalities. We are not different people with the company we are in. But, we may draw upon a certain aspect of our personality depending upon the company we are in.

For instance, in some gatherings your scholarly personality may be more appropriate. In others, your nurturing personality. In still others, your practical joker side may be dominent.

Your friends and loved ones may identify you by certain aspects of your persona. In the family, you may be known as the "stable one". Among your friends, you may be the "life of the party".

In all your shades of your personality are you the same witness for Christ and His Church? Do all of your social circles have any idea how strong your Faith is?

I ask myself this question, and the honest answer is: no.

I tone my Faith down depending upon who I'm with. I'm just too lazy, or too cowardly to bring it up so I mumble something unintelligible or I'm silent.

A friend asks: "What are you doing Tuesday evening?"
"Well, I have a standing appointment"
Rather then stating the full truth: "I have a standing hour of Eucharistic Adoration at my parish every Tuesday evening. I hate to miss it. It's really important to me."
"What's THAT?"
"I'm glad you asked. Catholics believe....."

See what I mean?

When the opportunity to testify about an aspect of our Faith arises, I usually fall flat on my face.

In today's Gospel we read:

Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of man!
Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.
--Luke 6:22-23

Well, that NAILED it. That's just exactly what I fear the most. Being cast out. Reviled. Not cool. I should rejoice when that happens but I don't.

It's easy to write on this blog about being a great witness to the Faith. It's harder to actually talk to someone face to face about it. It's harder to actually DO something then write OR talk about it, isn't it? Certainly, I usually find that to be so.

I have no answers. Other then keep trying. If anyone has any ideas to share, have at it in the comment boxes!

February 10, 2007

Boogiedee, Boogiedee, Boogiedee....

Let's Go Racing Boys!

The (Budweiser)Shootout begins...the "teaser" race before the official season.

8 days to the (Daytona) 500!

What a great night: Confession, Adoration, Prayer, Mass, Racin'. It hardly gets any better then this!

Mitt

Another example of the fact that nobody is asking Mitt Romney the right questions:

Deep curtsy to Chistine Schult for the article link.

In various news stories, radio interviews and magazine profiles I've read that Mitt Romney is answering a lot of questions about the former Mormon practice of polygamy. Cripes, get over it. The LDS church has not practiced that since, oh, 1896. If he was a member of the splinter Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, it would be a valid question. The mainline Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints does not recognize the Fundamentalist Church. The Fundamentalists Mormon members are automatically excommunicated and not allowed to enter the mainline LDS churches and temples.

Also, there are the nay-sayers who think Mormonism is a cult and not an real religion so Mr. Romney is busy answering questions about that. It's not for me to give an opinion about Mormonism being "true". I'm biased, because I think Roman Catholicism is the only true religion.

He's getting the John Kennedy type questions (and he's answering like President Kennedy too): "How Mormon are you?" To which he kind of talks around it. "the faith informs my life and its important but it's not everything. If I'm elected blah, blah, blah"

Mitt Romney is a clever man. He knows just what to say and when to say it.

If he is truly a practicing Mormon, if he expects to keep or get a Temple recommend from his Bishop or Branch President, he will have to stay in line with their faith.

This means: No gay marriage support. Mormons believe in marriage only between a man and a woman period. Also, sexual relations are allowed only between a man and a woman who are legally married.

Abortion: The LDS church will allow an abortion to occur in cases of danger to the mother's health or rape.

Birth Control: The LDS church discourages its use but they will allow a married couple to use it if the burden of more children is too great upon the wife who is the childbearer and the primary caregiver of the children.

If the press bothered to do even a cursory examination of the Doctrine's of the Mormon faith instead of falling back upon the old, tired, stereotypes, we may all actually learn something.

For instance: Did you know that Mormons believe that St. Michael the Archangel became Adam? I'd personally enjoy hearing Mr. Romney explain that one to a Catholic audience. Also, I'd ask: how anti-Catholic are you Mr. Romney? I'd be interested in hearing that question answered. Mormons are historically VERY anti-Roman Catholic. A fact, I've always found interesting since it has always seemed to me their President (currently Gordon B. Hinckley) has a lot of papal-like power. Alas, he's not the Sucessor of Peter-so there. As a Native American, I'd enjoy putting him on the spot by asking him how exactly I'm a descendant of wandering Hebrews?

You've probably guessed that the Mormons avoid my home like the plague. No young Elders on bikes in my 'hood.

The Romney family has ties to the Mormon church going back to its beginnings. His great-great-Grandfather was married to the sister of Joseph Smith's, (plural) wife, Olive. Joseph Smith, was the founder of the LDS church. A relative was a former member of the First Presidency. I find it hard to believe he's going to forget all that given how proud the Mormons are of their history.

Without a Temple recommend he cannot enter a Mormon Temple for their "sacraments". He can attend the local church but the Temple is different. The Tabernacle in Salt Lake City is the worldwide church headquarters or what you could say: the main temple. Imagine the public embarassment if he is unable to enter the sanctuary of the Mormom Tabernacle!

Practicing Mormons take their faith and its commitments very seriously. They are going to be watching him. It's possible his Bishop could overlook what Mr. Romney is doing and give him the Temple recommend anyway. But, from what I, personally, know of Mormons and their leaders, I'm skeptical that this will actually happen.

But, I ask myself, why didn't Orrin Hatch, face this kind of scrutiny when he ran for President in 2000? True, Senator Hatch's campaign was not taken seriously from the start. But, still, if you are going to make one's faith an "issue" then you should make the same issue for all of that faith's adherents.

It's possible that someone, from either party, is making Mr. Romney's faith an issue because he is a credible candidate. A fine example of The Dirty Laundry debate? I ask myself is it an accident that John "Breck Boy" Edwards* is under attack for his blogger hires and his McMansion? I doubt it.

Trivia: Mitt is not his first name. His first name is Willard.

*Deep Curtsy to Christine for the Breck Boy label! I thought it was so funny that I spewed Diet Mountain Dew all over my lap(top) yesterday.

Ending It All

This has been a tough week.

My family in Florida is fine-Thank God. But, there were a few days of fear because phone lines were down and no one could be reached.

My Uncle is home from the hospital and seems to be fine. However, he came home to find his water pipes had all frozen. As of today, most of them are clear. For my readers in warmer climes, frozen water pipes is a serious concern here in L'Etoile du Nord.

Thank you, everyone, for your prayers.

As usual these days, work has been tough. To make a long story short, I've been a raging B---- most of this week. We have a new employee and I can tell she's already afraid of me thanks to my temperment. This is not a good thing and I need to just calm down.

I had car trouble Friday and had to rent a car to get to work. The car repair bill was not as bad as I feared but I was really angry that my job is so demanding that I had to fork out some extra money to get a car to get into the office. Another day of Sea Hag Cathy, hurling lighting bolts from my Skull Island of the Perpetually Pissed Off. Sorry, Popeye, even spinach isn't going to save you now!

Thanks to my car issues, my weekend plan to visit my Dad was foiled. I don't adapt well to sudden changes in my plans.

Needless to say I'll be at Confession today.

I can honestly say that as bad as my life has been at certain points. NEVER at any time have I been tempted to end it all by my own hand. In other words, I have never been tempted to commit suicide.

A family acquintance may have killed herself this week. Reportedly, she put a gun to her head and pulled the trigger in her home. I say, reportedly, because the incident is under investigation.

I think she did it.

I have only met her a few times in my life. However, it is clear that she estranged herself from her family in the last decade by her increasingly bizarre behavior and outrageous demands. As far as I know she never received counseling or was on any medication.

Her mother, who was her primary enabler as well as supporter, died a year ago. I think the loss of her mother was more devastating to her then anyone realized.

There will not be a funeral or a notice in the paper. I have no idea where she may be buried. There seems to be a decided lack of cohesiveness or, dare I say, caring about where she ends up. What is left is a lot of anger and confusion.

I think that this would be, absolutely, the worst way to die. First, you violate the 5th Commandment. Then no one seems to give a rip. You will not have a funeral Mass. Your life becomes barely a blip in the cosmos. You had no impact. You have no legacy-other then the inevevitable anger and confusion of the survivors.

That anger and confusion is something I have seen first hand.

I have known 4 other people who committed suicide. The survivors are still angry. They still want to know: Why? Why didn't she come to me? Why didn't I help? Why did you allow this Lord? Why? Why couldn't they have just "bucked up" and dealt with it? Why?

I have known many others who thought seriously about suicide and did not go through with it or they survived the attempt because they were found in time.

There are no answers in this life to the why of suicide. The uncertaingly creates more confusion and anger.

I have seen people fall away from the Lord after a suicide simply because there is no answer and the Lord, seemingly, did nothing and was nowhere to be found.

God loves us so much that he gives us free will. We can reject Him or not. Whatever happens He is always there for us.

Footprints in the Sand

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord. Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.

In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand. Sometimes there were two sets of footprints, other times there was one only.

This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life, when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat, I could see only one set of footprints, so I said to the Lord,

“You promised me Lord,that if I followed you, you would walk with me always. But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there has only been one set of footprints in the sand. Why, when I needed you most, have you not been there for me?”

The Lord replied, “The years when you have seen only one set of footprints, my child, is when I carried you.”


--Mary Stevenson, 1936

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd edition 2280-2283, 2325 makes it clear that suicide is sinful but it also makes it clear that God is merciful, especially, towards those who suffer from grave psychological problems and take their own life. In any case, we, the Faithful, are to pray for them.

In my family, a relative committed suicide in the 1940's. The family covered it up because they were afraid that if they said it was not an accident she would be denied a Church funeral Mass and burial. In that instance, no one did right. The suicide sinned and the family sinned by their deceit.

The Church may deny a funeral Mass for a suicide. Not out of a sense of judgement on the person but in an attempt to avoid giving scandal to the Faithful and to emphasize the grave nature of suicide.

I think the Church, along with the rest of us, has reached a greater understanding of mental illness. I don't think too many suicides are denied Catholic funerals these days.

I saw a funeral notice in the paper a month ago for a high-school age young man. It said: "Helped himself to the Lord". His funeral was at a Catholic church.

It's hard for me sometimes to have mercy for a suicide. I just think they should pick themselves up and keep going.

In some cases, I think a suicide could be avoided if people would just reach out. To the Lord, to each other. Some people just can't seem to step away from themselves and ask for help. Then, it's too late and it's over.

But, I've seen dementia, schizophrenia and paranoia first hand. I can only imagine how terrifying it must be on a daily basis to hear voices or to be paralyzed with irrational fear.

I think the capacity to learn is one of God's greatest gifts. We can learn mercy for the mentally ill as well as the clinical aspects. The Church has learned too.

The National Catholic Partnership on Disability (NCPD) has a Mental Illness advocacy initiative. Read about NCPD here NCPD is a fine Magisterium-faithful organization that does not get a lot of Catholic press. Check 'em out. In the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis there are some parishes with mental health iniatives. One of the best is St. Joan of Arc in Minneapolis. For all the bad press St. Joan's gets, they are way ahead of the rest of us in supporting the mentally ill.

Today, I plan to pray my Divine Mercy Chaplet for the repose of the soul of the woman who committed suicide. I, furthermore, intend to offer my remaining Seven Sundays Novena for St. Joseph for the intention of the mentally ill that they may find the strength and mercy of God through the intercession of the powerful St. Joseph.

February 08, 2007

Stem Cell Bill Heard in MN Legislative Committee

Minnesota DFL lawmakers have proposed bills (H.F. 34 and S.F. 100) that endorse state funding for embryonic stem cell research at the University of Minnesota. Stem cells are the building blocks that create other cells in the body. Supporters see embryonic research as a promising source of treatments for many diseases, but opponents find it immoral because it requires the destruction of human embryos. They also point to alternative stem cell sources. Gov. Tim Pawlenty has threatened a veto unless certain restrictions are added to the bills.

The Governor will sign the bill as long as the only embyronic stem cells used are those from embryos "left over" from fertility clinics that are damaged or incapable of giving life. The Governor favors adult stem cells or cells from cord blood.

Now is the time to call your Minnesota State Senator, House Rep. and the Governor's office to make your opposition to embryonic stem cell research known.

The Pioneer Press (St. Paul) has the story.

February 07, 2007

Prayer Requests

Please keep my Uncle in your prayers. He's been in the hospital twice in the last 2 weeks.

And, the residents of Lake County, Florida. I have family in that county that was hit by last weeks storms.

Also, please pray for my friend, Adoro te Devote. She's having a tough time right now.

Thank You and God Bless You.

February 06, 2007

Pope and the Witch Update

Just when the University of Minnesota Theatre Department thought (prayed, maybe) that I'd forgotten all about them...Ha-Ha! Wrong.

For those joining us late, if you type "pope and the witch" in the upper left hand corner search box and click on "Search this Blog" you can read all my former writings about this "P.O.S.T*".

The "P.O.S.T.*" will be performed at the University of Minnesota's Rarig Center, Stoll Thrust Theatre, 330 21st Ave S (West Bank) Minneapolis beginning on March 1st. Tickets are $8-$12 depending upon your U of MN status. I paid $12.

Yes, you read right. I will be there on opening night: March 1st at 7:30 p.m. It is a general admission event. I plan to pray my Rosary during the entire "P.O.S.T.*"

It goes until 10:00 p.m. I can do all the Mysteries and then some!

Of course, I will blog about my experience. I'm sure its going to be horrible. I'm not sure what possessed me. The desire to witness? The ability to answer the naysayer who will counter with the inevitable whine: "How do you know it's so bad, you weren't there"?

I'll be there.

Here's the performance schedule:

PERFORMANCES

3.1 at 7:30pm
3.2 at 8pm
3.3 at 8pm
3.4 at 2pm
3.7 at 7:30pm
3.8 at 7:30pm
3.9 at 8pm
Opening Night Post-Show Reception: Thursday, March 1st
ASL Interpreted: Saturday, March 3rd

I think it would be hilarious if the only people in the audience are praying Catholics! Maybe, I'll have to have a dream about that!

*P.O.S.T. = Pile Of Steaming Turd

February 05, 2007

Housekeeping Meme

Angela Messenger has this fun Housekeeping Meme. She tagged everyone with a washing mashine. I checked my basement and it appears that I DO have a washing machine!

Aprons – Y/N?
Yes. I have at least two. Unfortunately, I remember to put one on right after I splash my shirt with something.

Baking – Favorite thing to bake:
Homemade Caramel rolls-yes, they are fantastic!

Clothesline – Y/N?
Yes, and I use it. Like Angela I DON'T hang my bloomers on it. And they are bloomers.

Donuts – Have you ever made them?
Like Angela: at LEAST 20 years ago. I was helping my Mom. I'm not a big donut fan anyway so I don't have any motivation to try them at home again.

One homemaking thing you do every day:
Make my bed.

Freezer – Do you have a separate deep freeze?
No. Not enough room in my house for much extra of anything.

Garbage Disposal – Y/N?
No. I've never lived in a home that had one.

Handbook – What is your favorite homemaking resource?
How to Clean Almost Anything. It's an old book my Mom had from the 50s or 60s. It's just wonderful. It may be out of print. I've yet to meet anyone else with a copy.

Ironing – Love it or hate it?
I absolutely HATE ironing. That's me standing by the dryer waiting to pull items straight out. Though on the rare occasions when I do iron I'm a big fan of heavy starch. Box starch-which is really hard to find these days.

Junk drawer – Y/N? Where is it?
Yes, in the kitchen.

Kitchen: Design & Decorating?
Let's see. I have the world's ugliest LINOLEUM sheet countertop and matching backsplash. Not to mention my real linoleum square asbestos tiles on the floor. All of this will go-when I have the money to pay for its replacement.

Love: What is your favorite part of homemaking?
Planning a meal and executing it to perfection.

Mop - Y/N?
Yes, and I wax my floor too.

Nylons - Wash by hand or in the washing machine?
By hand.

Oven - Do you use the window, or open the door to check?
Hmmm...hard to get the item OUT of the oven without actually opening the door, eh? Ok, ok, I know what you meant. I usually open the door.

Pizza - What do you put on yours?
Green peppers, black olives, tomatoes, onions, basil, and mushrooms. Lots of mozzarella cheese.

Quiet - What do you do during the day when you get a quiet moment?
When I have a quiet moment I am usually praying or reading something Catholic (i.e. Catechism, Bible, Prayer book, Catholic newspaper or magazine)

Recipe card box - Y/N?
I have 4. Yes, count 'em 4 recipes boxes! 2 of them hold my beloved Mother's recipes. If there is ever a fire and I can only grab a few items, those will be among the items I will grab. They have her handwritten notes on them. More precious to me then gold. Plus, I have a lot of cookbooks and individual cooking magazine issues.

Style of house -
One of my many "to-dos" is researching my home. My home was built in 1925 using what, I believe, is a modified design of the Sears & Roebuck "The Fairy" house (Model #3217)

Tablecloths and napkins - Y/N?
I only put a tablecloth on for special occasions. Otherwise, my cats tend to pull on them. I use heavy paper napkins-an obsession I inherited from my Maternal Grandmother.

Under the kitchen sink - Organized or toxic wasteland?
My toxic wasteland is elsewhere in the house. I have a cake holder, various thermoses, my emergency power outtage kit and some cat toys under the sink. It's a complete disaster.

Vacuum - How many times per week?
At LEAST once/week. I have two cats and one is a longhair so cat tumbleweed is an ongoing issue. Plus, I have an allergy to dust so I have to vacuum a lot.

Wash - How many loads of laundry do you do a week?
At least 2. Not more then 5.

X's - Do you keep a daily list of things to do and cross them off?
Yes. I am a compulsive lister. It does not help that I misplace the lists!

Yard - Who does what?
Sigh. Singletons like me do their own yardwork. Fortunately, I live in St. Paul's South Como neighborhood-home to VERY small lots!

Zzz's - What is your last homemaking task for the day before going to bed?
These days, filling my humidifier.

I tag anyone with a sink! Ha-ha!

February 04, 2007

His Mercy Endures Forever


In the last 6 months I have on two occasions been told that when a Catholic is gravely ill or near death they should ask for a Priest to administer the Apostolic Pardon (formerly called Apostolic Blessing) as part of the Anointing of the Sick (formerly called Extreme Unction). During a Homily, a Priest strongly recommended that we put in our Living Will or whatever document or instructions we leave specifying what we want done if we are very ill, that we want a Priest to NOT ONLY Anoint us but also administer the Apostolic Pardon.

If you are able to recite a final Confession you should but there may be cicumstances where you are incapable of speech.

In my Confirmation class a few weeks ago, Father mentioned the Apostolic Pardon and what a great gift that it is to receive forgiveness for all your sins at the moment of your death.

I did not think this was such a gift.

Why? Because my heart was hard and Satan ran right in there.

I remembered thinking: Wait a minute. So, some slacker "Catholic" who has completely turned their back on the Church for most, if not all, of their life, has not been to Confession in 40 years, etc. gets a "free pass"? Why should I BOTHER living a Christian life when I can just ask for a Priest at my final moments?

Mother Mary must have stepped in and reminded me that those that rely upon the Apostolic Pardon are possibly going to be doing a lot more time in Purgatory then I will. In any case, both of us are completely dependent upon His Mercy. The big sinner could go straight to the Beautific Vision while I'm howling in Hell for being so judgmental.

Plus, don't we, who are truly faithful, ask the Lord and/or His Mother to be with us in our final moments on a regular basis? Whether it's via the Sacred Heart Devotion or the Hail Mary. How do we know that Catholics that don't bother with either are going to be rewarded with access to a Priest in their final hour?

How likely is it that the loved ones of a fallen away Catholic are going to have the slightest clue that they would even WANT a priest? Or, that said Catholic would have specified such in their final instructions?

Remember the "lost" trilogy's of Luke's Gospel: The Lost Sheep, The Lost Coin and the Prodigal Son? WE are the lost things, the Lord is the one rejoicing when we return.

We can use the Sacrament of Confession as many times and as often as we need to and EVERY TIME there is the Lord's forgiveness. Amazing isn't it?

We are all members of The Body. We need to pray for all of our members-especially the seperated ones.

I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance. --Luke 15:7

Through my ignorance and repudiation of all the Faith taught, I did not arrange for either my brother or my mother to receive regular visits from a priest, Communion, final Anointing or the Apostolic Pardon.

I can only pray for God's Mercy upon them and I do so constantly. I can also only pray for God's Mercy upon ME for failing them.

An optional conclusion to the Rite of Reconciliation of Individual Penitants is:

Priest: Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good
Penitant: His mercy endures forever
Priest: The Lord has freed you from your sins. Go in peace.

I have only had a Priest use the optional conclusion ONCE and that was a few weeks ago when I went to confess that I had encouraged some friends to abort their children. I blogged about it here. When I heard those words and had to say: "His mercy endures forever" I almost burst into tears. As it was, I could barely get up to leave the Confessional. On a day when I most needed His Mercy, there it was. How much better will His Mercy be at the hour of our death?

Mercy for EVERYONE, not just me. It is selfish of me to expect to keep all the Lord's Mercy for myself.

Further information on the Apostolic Pardon:

Q. Should priests bestow the Apostolic Blessing when they administer the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick?

A. Yes, the priest should bestow what in the pre-Vatican II liturgy was called the Apostolic Blessing but is now called the Apostolic Pardon. The present liturgy for the pastoral care of the sick declares, "At the Conclusion of the sacrament of penance or the penitential rite, the priest may give the Apostolic Pardon for the dying, using one of the following:

A. Through the holy mysteries of our redemption, may almighty God release you from all punishments in this life and in the life to come. May He open to you the gates of paradise and welcome you to everlasting joy. R. Amen.

B. By the authority which the Apostolic See has given me, I grant you a full pardon and the remission of all your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit. R. Amen."

You will notice that the ritual says the priest "may give the Apostolic Pardon." I believe this means that, barring unforeseen circumstances, the priest should give what we may still call the Apostolic Blessing.


== Ask Fr. Hardon by Fr. John Hardon S.J.

February 03, 2007

Cathy's Dream

Yesterday evening, I was invited by some of my old party buddies to "Stupor Bowl". Their annual event of biking around N.E. Minneapolis and barhopping until you get completely wasted. I declined. My days of that kind of thing are DONE.

Last night, I had the strangest dream.....


Come Catholics, Come One, and All: 3 Days of Mass and Music, Sabine Farm, Wisconsin ,Friday-Sunday.

Thursday:
Tent and stage set-up begins. Father Z looks out his kitchen window and sees some Catholics sneaking across the lawn trying to set up their personal tents early. He walks out and reminds them no one can start camping until tomorrow. They leave, smiling, no problem, they will come back tomorrow.

Friday: The first campers arrive (including the crew that tried to sneak in early). Relevant Radio of Green Bay sets up a temporary broadcast tower. The Morning Program and Drew Mariani broadcast live on site.

Marathon County, Wisconsin sherrif's department reports absolutely no problems.

The Eucharist Adoration tent sets up a Perpetual Adoration schedule. EVERYONE signs up for at least one hour.

The Confession tent reports lines 1/2 mile long. The first "customers" are the crew that tried to set up camp early.

The Chapel alternates Novus Ordo and Tridentine evening Mass. All are ad orientem and Latin. Father Z is overwhelmed with requests from men who want to be altar servers. He informs the lay men they will not be needed because a record number of Deacons and Brothers have shown up.

The delegation from Minnesota arrives with several bloggers and priests from the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis. Faithmouse sets up a booth with his drawings. Ray checks his blood pressure. Geometricus gets a fire going. Adoro and I get the hotdish and coffee started. The Hadleybloggers amble over to check the music schedule. Terry Nelson takes a nap. Bearing Blog is trying to find her kids. In all the excitement, they realize no one remembered to set up their tents.

Adoro and I are beside ourselves to finally meet blogging sisters Happy Catholic, Angela Messenger and Christine Schult. We recruit them to help set up the Minnesota tents.

Friday night's headliner: Benedictine Monks of St. Domingo de Silos from Spain.

Saturday: The Friday evening national news had aerial shots of the gathering. More Catholics start arriving.

The U.K. delegation of priests and bloggers arrives. Fr. Whinder is besieged with photo and autograph requests. Father Z is REALLY happy to see more clergy. Father Z very tired.

Morning Masses in the Chapel and Morning Prayers.

There is a minor complaint that the Benedictine Monks of St. Domingo de Silos were chanting all night and no one could sleep. It is collectively decided to just "offer it up"

A second tent for Eucharistic Adoration is set up. The first tent is not big enough to hold all the people who want to Adore Him.

A group of Cistercian nuns from the Valley of Our Lady Monastery receive permission to attend and they set up a schedule for Rosary recitation under the Marian statue that they brought. So many people want to participate, that Priests for Life bring a Marian statue of their own and set up a second station dedicated to Rosary's for Life.

Noon Angelus is so loud that a noise complaint is received from MILWAUKEE!

Another Confession tent (the 3rd one) is set up. Fr. Fox from Ohio arrives. Fr. Z is REALLY happy to see more clergy. Father Z very tired, but praising God!

More Masses are scheduled for the Chapel because there are so many people.

EWTN arrives. Raymond Arroyo starts around the clock coverage. To everyone's amazement Mother Angelica is with the EWTN group. She does a live segment of Mother Angelica Live featuring attendees.

Lino Rulli of Sirius Catholic Channel arrives. He hooks up with his Minnesota buddies. Announces he will host: "Linguini with Lino" that evening. Everyone's really happy to hear that since very few actually brought food. They must have been hoping for some kind of Loaves and Fishes event.

Geometricus and I contact some of their Native American relatives and start netting fish in local lakes to help feed the multitude. Fr. Z raids his wine cellar. Fr. Z blesses the boats and amazingly they don't sink! The nets are full to bursting. Local sportsman do NOT complain about the netting.

The Ragemonkeys arrive from the Sooner state with Fr. Powell of Texas. Fr. Hamilton accidently hit a deer and has it on the top of the car. Inexplicably, Fr. Tharp is wearing a Batman cape over his clericals.

Fr. Francis Mary Stone and Fr. John Corapi are engaged in a really competitive game of HORSE on the basketball court.

The Color My Veil tent, where you select the best color for your chapel veil based upon your skin tone, is really popular with the Catholic women. A minor fracus ensues when Terry Nelson tries to enter.

Universal joy ensues when blogger John Paul Sonnen of Orbis Catholicus arrives bearing a message from the Holy Father in Rome. Mr. Sonnen reads it over a loudspeaker. The Holy Father offers his blessing on all in attendance.

There is a rumor that a wrestling match between Fr John "Zorro" Zuhlsdorf and Bishop Donald "The Chair" Trautman over ICEL translations is scheduled. Or, maybe that's just wishful thinking.

The Blogging tent collapses but no one is hurt. Too many bloggers want to update their pages. Networks around the world are jammed.

The West Coast delegation, led by Gerald Augustinus and his wife Dr. Erin, finally arrive-fashionably late.

Saturday night's headliner: Anonymous 4

Sunday:Masses begin at 4:00 a.m. People are encouraged to consider the fact that not everyone is going to fit in the Chapel at 10 a.m. and to plan accordingly.

The Adoration tent is temporarily closed until all the morning Masses are completed. Rosary devotions are still going strong. A Benediction is planned at 1:00 just before Adoration will reopen.

Priests that have heard Confession are amazed at the numbers participating.

A delegation of "Rainbow Catholics" and "Womenpriests" show up and try to get in. Fr. Z points them to the Confession and Catechism tents. They refuse and set up across the road. Gradually, they feel alone and are overwhelmed with the Spirit. They cross the road, go to Confession, buy a Catechism and decide to be celibate and abandon their hubris. They run around Praising God!

Monk gets on the loudspeaker and warns everyone not to take the red headphones in the Catholic Music tent. Apparently, someone snuck some Nickelback recordings in. Monk says: "It's your trip, but I'm just warning you"

The headliner: Twin Cities Catholic Chorale under the direction of Monsignor Richard J. Schuler. Monsignor in typical fashion rallies from his sick bed and says "He will not miss this glorious opportunity to expose more Catholics to the great history and beauty of music in our Church"

People start going home Praising God. In a fine example of the power of Catholic prayer, the Mass and the Rosary, abortion is outlawed worldwide and no one protests!

The Sabine Farm is left in immaculate condition. Father Z sleeps for 3 days.

Then I woke up and it was all over...or was it?

February 01, 2007

More Catholic Spirit letters

The February 1, 2007 issue of the Catholic Spirit printed 2 more letters critical of Sen. Torres Ray's stance on abortion. Praise God!

The Bully Pulpit

The always excellent local CATHOLIC GROUP BLOG (hint, hint) Our Word and Welcome to It has had an interesting series recently on Lefty Snark and the Art of Cruelty.

The term "bully pulpit" was coined by our 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt. I've done some reading about T.R. in the last couple of years and I may have changed my mind about his face being on Mount Rushmore.

First, A LOT of people erroneously believe that the term "bully pulpit" means bullying, forcing, terrorizing, harrassing someone into going along with your opinion, with doing what YOU want. T.R. may have said "speak softly but carry a big stick" but he was not a bully.

Second, The term "bully pulpit", as used by T.R., meant using his Presidential office as a platform for "selling" his agenda.

Back in T.R.'s Presidency that was a radical notion. Prior to T.R., most Presidents allowed Congress and/or their Political Party to dictate to them what should be done. T.R. was not a man to passively sit back and be told what should be done. He had ideas and he wanted them heard by the public. He wanted the public to like his ideas and encourage their Representatives to enact them. His speeches (you can hear, see and read some of them at the Library of Congress or Harvard College and online) are masterfully persuasive.

Today, I think you see more people buying the first, mistaken, definition of "bully pulpit" then the second.

You see the "bully pulpit" a lot in the blogosphere. Even, I'm sorry to say, in the Catholic blogsphere. Some days I read the blogs in my sidebar and I think the commenters (and sometimes the blog owner) have forgotten that they are Christians.

I read Father Zuhlsdorf's excellent blog What Does the Prayer Really Say? on a daily basis. I have absolutely no doubt Father Zuhlsdorf is a learned man. However, I watched with dismay the other day, as his commenters used his post about Fr. Reginald Foster stating his opinion that the motu proprio releasing the Tridentine Mass is not going to happen, by attacking Fr. Foster's credibility and even his apparal. Long lost in all the "learned discussion" that veered way off topic was the main point of the post, which was to inform his readers of Fr.Foster's OPINION and to give opinion to a question Father Zuhlsdorf posed. Fr. Zuhlsdorf tried a few times to regain control but the sharks had a hold of the body and they were not letting go.

We are witnessing the death throes of debate.

Schools of "debate" in our time:


The pinch them are they still alive? debate:

Televised political "debates" really are not worthy to be called debates. They are so tightly controlled, moderated, scripted, overly made-up and boring that I can't blame anyone for not caring enough to actually watch it.

Same with our political conventions; Why bother getting involved when you know before the first long-winded speaker takes the floor who the nominee is going to be?

It was not always like this. Up until 35 years ago, you NEVER knew what was going to happen at the modern political conventions or who was going to emerge the nominee.

The hurling chair debate:

Turn on broadcast T.V. in the afternoon or late night and you will see the tabloid shows with the audience screaming at the people on the stage. Everyone is talking over each other. The topics are salacious. You turn it off and feel like you should be taking a shower. But, after a while you get used to it. It gives you a nice feeling of superiority.

The chatty-catty debate:

The View. The loudest trash-talking mouth of the collective din has the last word. I see this and I fear for my sex.

The reality TV debate:

Manipulated reality. Yet, it's the topic of much of the watercooler debate in my office. How about yours? Much of reality T.V. involves ridiculing or embarassing someone. You can't get people to give a hoot about who their City Council candidate is, but they can recite all the remaining contestants on Survivor and talk the "politics" of why they will or will not win.

The dirty laundry debate:


Plant a seed during the debate about your opponents personal life not being all that "free of sin". It does not have to be verifiable. You see this in the anonymous, "accidentally leaked" memos, "person who does not want to go on the record", sources of today. If all else fails, plant someone in the audience and get them to ask the question for you.

The bluster debate:


When you have absolutely no idea of what you are talking about and no answers be sure to bluff your way out of it by making a joke at your opponents expense. Comments about their lack of personal style are de rigour.

It seems as though most people either did not have any kind schooling in the fine arts of debate and persuasive rhetoric, or they did, but they find it easier to get along "on the outside" by acting like they did not. When all you see as popular examples of debate is the bullying negativity that I have outlined, is it any wonder that most people think THAT IS debate?

Plato and Socrates = boring ancient history. Lincoln-Douglas; who cares? Shilpa versus Jade? Now you're talking.

It's possible to find reasoned debate, but it's not popular and it's not EVERYWHERE like the types of debate I outlined above. How much of the general public watch The McLaughlin Group? Is it because it's too hard, too boring, too irrelevent, all of the above? How relevant is The Amazing Race? In 100 years, are we still going to be discussing today's episode of Maury Povich? Or, the opinions of our local commentators on the KQRS-FM Morning Show?

I said this in one of the comboxes of Our Word and Welcome to It and I'd like to repeat it here: "I fear we have a culture of really stupid people hiding their ignorance behind belligerance. Certainly, when I was a kid, the class bully was usually the dumbest person in the room."

South Dakota Tries Again

This time with exceptions for rape or incest. Argus Leader (Sioux Falls) has the story.
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