Hello, Everyone, Yep! today is the old warhorse’s Birthday. (Thanks, Chris!) I’m what some might call “45.95 plus shipping and handling.” (49, okay?)



Next Friday, November 3, is the Fourth Anniversary of My ReceptionInto The Church.

So — in celebration of these two awesome events, I’m throwing a party that can be celebrated round the world — and indeed, I am sending it to friends throughout the U.S. and Canada, England, The Netherlands,Italy, and Australia.

Here’s how it is supposed to work:

First, between now and Friday, please make a Holy Hour (or half-hour or whatever you do) — I ask that you remember three very particular intentions for me:

A) My growing work in the Church (Music Director, Adult Faith
Formation leader) is stretching me more than I thought I could be
stretched. I love it – but pray that God would lead, direct, sustain,

B) Reconciliation with my daughters.

C) The conversion of souls and reconciliation of those who have left the Church.

After you have made your Holy Hour (in lieu of which, if you simply cannot make it to the Church for a Holy Hour, will you offer a Rosary for me?) I want you to get your favorite dessert, and your favorite beverage – and enjoy!

If you’re on a diet, you are temporarily exempt to indulge, so far as health issues will permit (I know a diabetic can’t eat my aunt’s pound cake — okay, SHOULD NOT) for the one brief occasion.

On Friday, let’s all gather in your favorite internet forums and tell stories, especially stories of faith and answered prayers, of love, family, and friends — and just generally enjoy one another’s company.

Or through the week, post said comments HERE.

How does that sound?

A Great game!

There are 30 books of the Bible in this paragraph. Can you find them? This is a most remarkable puzzle. It was found by a gentleman in an airplane seat pocket on a flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu keeping him occupied for hours. He enjoyed it so much he passed it on to some friends. One friend from Illinois worked on this while fishing from his john boat. Another friend studied it while playing the banjo. Elaine Taylor, a columnist friend, was so intrigued by it she mentioned it in her weekly newspaper column. Another friend judges the job of solving the puzzle so involving she brews a cup of tea to help her nerves. There will be some names that are really easy to spot. That’s a fact. Some people, however, will soon find themselves in a jam, especially since the book names are not necessarily capitalized. Truthfully, from answers we get, we are forced to admit it usually takes a minister or scholar to see some of them at the worst. Research has shown that something in our genes is responsible for the difficulty we have in seeing the books in this paragraph. During a recent fund raising event, which featured this puzzle, the Alpha Delta Phi lemonade booth set a new sales record. The local paper, The Chronicle, surveyed over 200 patrons who reported that this puzzle was one of the most difficult they had ever seen. As Daniel Hummana humbly puts it, “the books are all right there in plain view hidden from sight.” Those able to find all of them will hear great lamentations from those who have to be shown. One revelation that may help is that books like Timothy and Samuel may occur without their numbers. Also, keep in mind that punctuation and spaces in the middle are normal. A chipper attitude will help you compete really well against those who claim to know the answers. Remember, there is no need for a mad exodus, there really are 30 books of the Bible lurking somewhere in this paragraph waiting to be found.

A parent’s prayer

Heavenly Mother, keep us always in mind of your Son’s great mercy and understanding as we pray for our children. They are grown-up now and have left us and are living their lives according to their own ideas. We feel anxious and worried because they do not seem to feel the need of Christ, to understand the wisdom of his ways, or to be fully at ease with us or themselves.
Intervene, dearest Mother, in their lives at the moment you know to be right and help them to understand the things that lead to their peace. Help them to see their need of Christ and to experience the greatness of his love, so that we may all proclaim as you did, that his mercy truly is from generation unto generation.


(thanks, Angela)


I’ve got tears rolling down my cheeks. No — I’m fine. It’s from laughing so hard. I saw that all of a sudden my little blog had been SLAMMED by tons (okay, 30) views since I looked last night — all referred by a place called TIM BLAIR.NET

When you get to how mad Tim is, I’m the next-to-last “Very” — or was at 1:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight time this afternoon.

Y’all have fun! Come back and see us again some times — the latchstring is always out to the good people of Australia!

Banning VEGEMITE???

Okay. Now we know the federal government has taken leave of its senses. THIS is the OTHER SIDE OF STUPID.

Update: Monday, October 23: the link seems flawed. I couldn’t re-open it from my original source, either. So sorry! The point was, because Vegemite contains more than the miniscule amount of folic acid (vitamin B-9, I think it is) allowed by U.S. law, the food has been banned from the U.S.

Yeah. Folic acid. The stuff the FDA has been urging pregnant women to get more of… the stuff we all need more of than that “prescribed by law” minute bit we get in our multivitamin.

Really dangerous, that.

The tyranny of emotionalism

I’ve been watching with some interest the … um… dialogue (?) between a friend of mine and a woman from California, on a popular Catholic web site.

It started out as a friendly banter; I almost would have thought she was flirting with him: “You’re going to Mass?” she wrote him, “Give my love to my sweet Jesus for me!”

Now it’s deteriorated into something ugly. My friend has become “mean.” “Disgusting” is one of the nicer words she’s used.

What in the world — !

Well, the thing is, my friend is a deliberate Catholic. That is, he’s done a lot of reading over the years, and he knows the Church’s teachings on many subjects (not least of all, abortion, euthenasia, capital punishment and other life issues), and he’s made the deliberate choice to yield his opinion, emotion, and intellect to the wisdom of the Church. And he’s doing an extraordinarily good job of presenting the Church’s teachings and requirements to a woman who is — on the basis of her own emotions — determined to find offense in his steadfast presentation of the Church’s teachings.

War is a horrible thing, the Church acknowledges, but sometimes it is not only just, it is necessary. Capital punishment is a horrible thing, also, but sometimes it is just and necessary. Abortion, however, is never ever ever right, and it is the moral and religious duty of every Christian to oppose the diabolical slaughter of millions of unborn annually, to oppose it with might and main — and with vote.

She resents this. She wants to demonize the Bush administration and the Republican party as a whole for the loss of visible lives through capital punishment and the war in Iraq, establishing her outrage as a higher priority than the far greater wrong – greater morally and numerically – of the invisible losses of abortion and euthenasia.

And now she’s demonized my friend (who has presented fact and principle with far more gentleness and kindness than I might have been able to do under similar circumstances) for refusing to honor her fine feelings as a greater authority than the teachings of the Church.

A woman’s emotions are a powerful thing. I don’t think I overstate the case when I suggest that, often, our emotions are our reality. We are swayed by them, governed by them; our energies are at the mercy of them more often than not.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. They can be our great strength. Our hearts make us keepers of hearth and home, for instance, cause us to be passionate champions for not only our families and loved ones but also, through the centuries, for causes of morality and justice. It was Pilate’s wife who, because of her sensitive feelings, begged her husband not to have anything to do with the controversy that was the conviction and crucifixion of Our Lord.

But our emotions are also our weakness. Without the development of will and intellect, of strong moral conscience, a woman’s emotions will lead her into unholy alliances – carnal relationships with unworthy men, or to become proponents of terrible wrongs (like abortion or euthenasia or sometimes even justice and morality in more general terms) solely by the influence of sentiment.

I was raised in word to follow what is right, but in practice to follow what felt best to me at any one moment. Of course, how I have felt has been at the mercy of everything from what I did or didn’t eat for breakfast, how others have behaved, and not least, hormonal (horror-mones) influences. I know too well, too painfully, the sad consequences of a life lived in obedience to emotion.

I’ve also been immensely blessed to have received a good education, at Guilford College that, despite its extreme liberalism, did much to develop my mind. It’s largely been an exercise in self-education, but I am learning to recognize my feelings for what they are; I try to test my intuition wherever I have the opportunity, and I try to recognize the pull of emotion and to base my decisions on more reliable factors.

This is a constant struggle, and I am distressed by the lack of stronger moral training for women in this morally relativistic — this increasingly morally atheistic — culture in which we live.

If you should see..

… my younger daughter, Sarah, tell her I love her and am praying especially for her on her 25th birthday.

She was born on October 20, 1991, a week before my 24th birthday, and as I held her in my arms after a long, hard, arduous labor, all I could think was how untenable was Dan’s and my plans to stop with only two children. holding that newborn in my arms was a joy and a contentment that I couldn’t just tell God I wouldn’t do any more.

He had other plans. I never had more children, one of my great sorrows. But Christy and Sarah have more than made up for the disappointment.

Whenever I am tempted to think I would like to go back in time and change my decision to marry their dad, I think of them, and I’d gladly do it all again. They make it all worthwhile.

Their existence justifies mine.

Two wonderful books

Browsing in the local library a couple of months ago, I found a wonderful book, A Return to Modesty: Discovering the Lost Virtue, by Wendy Shalit. Wendy writes about her discovery of an old-fashioned religiously-based modesty and the consequences of immodesty on our culture — and particularly on women.

It’s a book I recommend most enthusiastically. I am also happy to report that pre-publication sales are underway for Wendy’s new book: Girls Gone Mild: Young Girls Reclaim Self-Respect and Find It’s Not Bad to be Good

You’ll also enjoy checking out Wendy’s blog.

Can an earnest Catholic woman FLIRT?

Okay, I’m not so sure I’ve ever really done a lot of flirting. My parents’ voices personalize my superego, and a very efficient job it has done of keeping me meek and restrained over the years. But it took me aback when, back in May, a friend asked me just who I was flirting with these days. Or maybe it was “how many?” he asked.

Did I say “taken aback”? My dears, my friend is a 6′ tall good-looking Catholic gentleman… it embarrassed the everliving daylights out of me!

So… I began to do some heavy evaluating.

Actually, this predates the query posed by my friend. For a little less than a year now, I’ve been in the midst of a major paradigm shift (more on that some other time). I have been holding past relationships up to the Light of the holiest of Christian ideals, ideals explained and illuminated in John Paul II’s Theology of the Body and been grieved by the compromises I’ve been willing to make over the years.

I’ve also found myself brought back to myself, to my right mind, after years of carelessness and compromise of long-ago ideals. Consequently, I’ve been motivated to evaluate and modify my behavior so that my future life might be of a different, superior quality than the past.

Simultaneously with the attitude change, I’ve found myself being shown, through the Grace of the Holy Spirit, memories of conversations that had brought about or contributed to those compromised relationships. Grievously painful, that.

My conclusions are still in process of being fully formed, but here’s what I’ve got so far:

*I have come to believe that flirting is not about friendship or about the cultivation of wholesome comraderie, but is, rather, about sex. It addresses, seeks to appeal to, that more carnal base of operations whereby men and women are superficially attracted to one another.

*If my friend and brother takes himself to “the BOX” (i.e., Confession) and one of the things he has to bring before God is the sin of carnal thoughts…
and if those carnal thoughts found their point of entry into his mind through some immodest or suggestive comment I’ve made — or if he is not Catholic but still sins, knowingly or not, in consequence of my provocation —
… then I’m guilty of sinning against my brother, to whom I ought to be devoted to help attain Heaven.

*I also have bought into a worldly view of relationships, particularly dating and courtship relationships, or of attracting and inviting relationships, that I’m no longer complacent cannot be in violation of what I believe as a Christian.

So, for the time being:

I renounce flirting. I’m going to do some more evaluating of the topic and general, and my habits in particular.

Let me know what you think, and I’ll let you know how it goes.