Domestic Goddess – Warrior Woman

I’ve passed Phase One of the Great Domestic Goddess Challenge: the house has undergone a MAJOR decluttering. It’s been five weeks, I’ve filled my big outdoor trash container to near-overflowing, have lost count how many bags of trash and broken-down boxes I’ve discarded.

Some of these things, some of the glass jars, for instance, I might have recycled; but after so many years of being in the mice’s traffic pattern, I don’t think I could ever have gotten them clean enough to be able to overlook that they’ve made up the monkey bars and obstacle courses for the winter invasion of mice. . . so to the trash they went. Plastic stuff, like coffee cans I was so sure would make wonderful canisters. Paper. Shredded old clothes. Badly outdated and rusty canned foods. Broken items that aren’t going to be repaired or recycled. Stuff I haven’t used. Stuff I don’t want to use. Stuff I don’t know how to use (mostly hardware stuff).

Feels absolutely wonderful! and this week I go to Phase TWO:  Recycling.  For all the stuff I have thrown away, I’ve set a lot of shelves and  a pair of bifold doors and a set of scales and pictures I don’t want and a mirror and a lot of salvageable stuff to be carried to charity thrift shop. Students here have a half-day later in the week, and a young friend has volunteered to come help me load up my car and haul it all there — God bless him!

Why does this matter? Not only for health’s sake — although it will be easier to fight the mice and the bugs that came in during the flood season last spring (and aren’t responding to ordinary bug sprays) with all the junk gone.  It’ll be a lot easier to keep the house clean – vacuumed, dusted, mopped — with all these things in the way.

No. Somehow I have the feeling that my part in the Great Battle — the battle between Good and Evil, the battle for souls — begins with my success, or at least my dedication to the domestic sphere.

I’m still sorting this out. Women must be engaged in this Great Battle just as men must  be, but I’m convinced our function is different. Men are the wielders of the swords, literally and figuratively; women most of the time have a supporting role — no less important, but different. Ask a military troop – active duty or veteran — if they could fight without support services, and see what they say. Their success on a mission depends on having food in their belly, needed supplies at hand, accurate record of their objective, etc.  That’s what we provide. In our homes, we provide the place where our sword-wielder, our men, can rest from the battle, prepare for the next, have his spirit refreshed and his strength restored.

Sure, in history there have been exceptions:  the prophetess Deborah and Joan of Arc, Katherine of Aragon (Henry VIII’s first wife).  And a few of us might be called to follow their example. But most of us are not. The Battles of Lepanto and Tours and Gates of Vienna were won by men whose women were backing them up — and joining them in prayer.

Now, I’m single and I don’t know yet how this is going to apply to me. But it does. Even if I discover, to my horror, that I’m called to be a sword-wielder, somehow, I still have primary responsibility for hearth and home.

Not a popular idea, any more, with Feminism and all. But I believe Feminism has gone too far:  from being valued for our personal skills and competencies, and being allowed to pursue our dreams, we are now competing against men. Competing against, and denigrating them. And violating our own sacred calling as nurturers and carers in the world. This is destructive, not desirable. We need to recover our balance in order to have safe and prosperous communities, and in order that Good might flourish.

New Year, Resolutions?

January 1, 2019. Another year, and the push to make new resolutions for a “New Year, New You” for the coming twelve months, mixed with the jokes about broken resolutions and the unending cycle of same.

For us as Catholics, the year begins with Mass – not for a new year, but to honor the power of the Incarnation through the fiat of Mary, in a grand Solemnity. I cantored for a local Mass last night, and played at the chapel for another, this morning. This is a very good way to begin.

We are in a grave time of crisis, and we have important choices to make. Our culture is running mad. Children are being exploited as sex objects, even applauded for being transgender or a drag queen on national television, for all our children to see and to think should be imitated or looked up to.  Local libraries and bookstores are promoting reading hours with drag queens — again, to influence our children and to lure them into a false glamour, to rob them of their innocence.

There is an increasing push to criminalize reparative therapy:  the gay lobby insists, very loudly, that it is impossible to change one’s gender preference and that reparative therapy is abuse of a criminal degree — while they insist that one can overcome biology to change one’s own gender.

Public schools are promoting these ideologies, and even taking children to begin the process of “transitioning” — without parental consent.  Parents who oppose these manipulations of their children are being charged with criminal acts and losing their children to the State.

It’s being reported than nearly 14,010,000 babies were aborted in the past year.

The hallmarks of paganism are human sacrifice and sexual depravity.

More and more, Christians and those who hold traditional moral and social values are being scorned, persecuted, punished in the public square.

And even our beloved Church, which is supposed to be the safeguard of all things holy, and the example of sanctity in the world, is embroiled in one controversy and crisis after another — as princes of the Church protect one another from accountability for grave misdeeds, and promote individuals who defy Church teaching in order to promote deviance in the name of “love” and “acceptance.”

We can’t even take our own pontiff seriously, any more, for whatever words he might utter about homosexuals being kept from the priesthood, he promotes and protects the apologists for the homosexual lifestyle and punishes those who actually hold faithful to the Magisterium.

So, in this coming year, I propose that we must be resolved:

  1. to make an oblation, an offering, of our lives to God.
  2. to live faithfully to Christ, even in isolation, even in defiance of the tsunami of atheism and insanity that is pouring in on us.
  3. to know our Faith better, day by day, through diligent study of the Scriptures and works of the Magisterium (beginning, in conjunction with the Scriptures, the Catechism)
  4. to foster a greater love for Christ, through an increase in prayer and devotional time, so that the whole of our life might be a continual, unceasing prayer and praise
  5. to practice the Works of Mercy – which includes the often-uncomfortable Works of rebuking sinners and instructing the ignorant
  6. to guard our minds and hearts against the influence of the Evil One
  7. to do all in our power to protect our homes and families from evil influence
  8. for those who are married to pray together as a couple, and those with children to incorporate the family rosary and prayer in your daily routine
  9. for those who are not married to find prayer partners with whom you will unite in prayer and service, holding one another up to God and to accountability
  10. to serve faithfully in the Church Militant in that sphere of life to which we are called, and in which we daily live.

Frankly, I think our culture has gone past the point of no return. I don’t believe we can recover the innocence and purity of past generations.  I believe we are now on a Search And Rescue mission.

Let us do our very best.

Vivat Christus Rex!

Drifting by the Sloth of Disobedience

From the Prologue of the Rule of Benedict:

. . . The labor of obedience will bring you back to him from whom you had drifted through the sloth of disobedience. (v. 2)

It’s a funny thing about drifting:  you’re just there, and you get distracted by new ideas, new distractions, new activities . . . and you finally look up and — Whoa! where am I?  I was over there, but now I’m over here! How did that happen?

It’s particularly easy to do in our walk with the Lord.  A day of skipping prayer makes it easy to skip again, and before you know it, weeks and even months have gone by . . . and you’ve lost your bearings and you aren’t really even sure when or how it happened.

Sloth. Laziness. Slack off in the habits of discipleship and before you know it you’ve been carried way on downstream and not in the direction you’d intended to go.

So stick with it.  If you’ve been lazy, if you’ve been careless, renew your resolve and turn the “ear of your heart” to sound instruction.

From Elisabeth LeSeur –

September 25, 1899 — No one knows what passes in the profound depths of our soul.  To feel God near, to meditate, to pray, to gather all our deepest thoughts so as to reflect on them more deeply: that is to live the inner life, and this inner life is the supreme joy of life.  But so many moving thoughts and ardent desires and generous resolutions should be translated into deeds, for we are in the midst of human life and a great task lies before us.

It is time for painful effort: one must tear oneself asunder, forsake the realm of thought for that of reality, face action, know that one will either not be understood or be understood wrongly; and that one will perhaps suffer at the hands of humanity for having willed the good of humanity.  We must already have drawn from God an incomparable strength and armed our hearts with patience and love, in order to undertake day by day and hour by hour the work that should belong to every Christian:  the moral and material salvation of his brothers.

(Leseur, Elisabeth. My Spirit Rejoices. Manchester, NH: Sophia Institute Press, 1996.)

What I wish I’d heard at Mass – Episode 1

I’ve been thinking for a while about composing my own “homilies” for the Readings of the Mass.

You see, I play organ for a small chapel in a nearby retirement village. The chapels on site are staffed by the elderly, retired priests who reside there. It would be better if we had a Catholic chaplain, but the facility hired a nonCatholic for that job, and, besides, there aren’t enough younger priests to go around as is. (So pray for Vocations!)

Now, I love our priests. They are kind, holy men, loving, generous of spirit, often wise… but I did point out that they are elderly, didn’t I? One of them is slipping more deeply into the “confusion” of being very elderly and frail, a couple of the priests who serve one of the other chapels have physical disabilities that makes it very difficult for them to stand and celebrate the Mass, and at least one was tagged from seminary to be a teacher and never pastored a parish in all his years in the priesthood.

The former professor tends to get excited by various and sundry academic issues (he keeps his mind alert by continuing to study, even into his mid-80s), and his homilies reflect that. The “confused” former parish priest almost always preaches about the Holy Rosary… which is lovely, but the residents there have been praying the rosary since before I was born and they don’t need to be reminded what the various Mysteries are. Do they?

So – yesterday the Gospel reading was Luke 9:28-36, the account of the Transfiguration. We’ve all heard the story before: Jesus takes Peter, James and John up on Mt. Tabor, and there he reveals to these privileged three His full glory …

His Glory. Can you imagine it? Because I can’t. I can barely get my mind around the idea of Jesus Christ as God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity… but just how deep and wide and far that goes is beyond my scope.

I would have loved to have heard more about this, but Father talked about the Rosary, instead (the Transfiguration is the Fourth Luminous Mystery).

And if I’d been offering the homily, I would have used the opportunity to remind anyone listening that there is something dangerous going on in our society – the evangelical and pentecostal tendency to reduce the Second Person of the Holy Trinity to “my buddy, JC.”

Jesus Christ becoming “my buddy JC” – what a travesty! No wonder Christians have gotten careless about moral theology! “My buddy JC” would be one of the guys, no different from myself, maybe swilling beer and chainsmoking – he wouldn’t be offended at a slightly off-color joke (like the attempted or alleged humor manifest in last night’s Oscars presentations?)…  nor would he care if John sleeps with his girlfriend, or Billy gets drunk and verbally abuses his wife, or if Lucy uses contraception and resorts to an abortion when it fails.

Right? And if the kids want to cohabit without benefit of clergy, God doesn’t mind. I mean, after all, “my buddy JC” doesn’t care. Nor does he care of Dan gets trapped in the gay lifestyle, because after all “my buddy JC” is all about love and tolerance and acceptance, right?

Wrong. Dead Wrong.

He’s our Friend, possessing integrity of His own identity and Character, concerned with our wellbeing and available to the most profound intimacy of our relationships.

But he’s not that careless lacksadaisical “Buddy JC” – not at all.

He is, most remarkably and mysteriously, both our most intimate friend AND the Creator of the Cosmos. He laid the rules down, and He calls us to follow Him in them because they are part of the design to bring us to our best selves and our ultimate complete Union with Him in the Beatific Vision.

The Transfiguration jerks us out of our lazy, selfish reduction of “my buddy JC” and into the remembrance that He IS the Great I Am, the Eternal Judge, Born of the Father before all ages…

And, oh, how we do need reminding!

Pre-Lent reflection on living in the Last Days

Dear friends, as I post on news comment boards and read the comments left by other participants, I am astonished by the willful ignorance, compounded by the unveiled hostility, of other posters toward Christianity and Christian moral values. We do indeed live in the age foretold by Isaiah, when people would call black, white, and white, black. The Enemy has so deluded men and women that they have become his willing servants, hating what is true, hating what is holy.

Rather than posting the list here (I am thinking of compiling a list of examples to post as a note here, or on my Facebook Notes), I simply ask you to commit yourself to renewing your part, as Church Militant, in the Great Battle during this season of Lent which begins tomorrow.

Let your Lenten sacrifice not be merely the continuing of an old tradition, but a genuine offering of self to God through some form of denial that brings you closer to Christ’s gift of self in His Passion, and on the Cross.

And I ask you to pray daily – throughout the day – for the salvation of souls, for the conversion of sinners, for the forces of this present darkness to be pushed back… for our beloved Nation to be once more spared from the Judgment we increasingly seem to be begging for.

We have come full circle. Christianity began as a small, persecuted minority in the midst of a great pagan Empire – rose in influence and political power through the centuries until the entire West was shaped by the Church’s teachings and values… only to have declined, so very rapidly, into, once again, this persecuted and despised minority.

It is because of this cyclical reality I am seeing that I feel that this present crisis differs from the crises of prior generations. Our modern technologies take the evils once confined to major metropolitan areas and push them into our own living rooms – when once upon a time outlying and rural areas were largely spared from the wickedness marking various rulers and Courts, preserving enclaves of quiet, peace, and safety.

I believe we will soon – perhaps in my lifetime – see the culmination of human history as we have known it, when Christ will “Come Again in Glory to Judge the Living and the Dead, and His Kingdom will have no end.”

So – “let us not weary in doing good” as we enter into this Lent, but let our love for Christ be flamed, and our desire for sanctity burn brighter than ever before.

The HHS Mandate

Every blogger in Christendom has addressed their reaction to the Health & Human Services mandate for religious institutions to fund contraception and abortion in their insurance packages. I think I’m ready to post mine, now. Goodness knows, I’ve commented on enough blogs and Facebook posts, this week.

Obviously, I do NOT support the Obama administration’s move. Sure, there are exceptions. If you only hire members of your church, and if you only serve members of your church, you’re exempt. But what church do you know of that is so self-limited and self-contained as that? Every church I know of, Catholic and Protestant, hires people outside its own membership. Most Catholic parishes have to hire nonCatholic musicians because there aren’t enough musicians to go around any more. Right now I have the pleasure (heightened by my delight in the irony of it all) of being a Catholic filling in for a nonCatholic church’s pianist while she recovers from surgery. Many churches have support staff not from the membership, for a variety of reasons – if nothing else, many hire cleaning teams.

Every church daycare I know of serves families not of its membership. Every charitable outreach, whether food pantry, clothes closet, or whatever, is extended to the larger community, not limited to that narrow congregation. Catholic hospitals comprise some 25% of medical services in this country – and they don’t limit their hiring or their caregiving to Catholics.

So the exemptions are worthless.

Right now, Catholics are being named as the target population being affected by this mandate, but let’s not fool ourselves, Mr & Mrs America: many, many nonCatholic Christians find this mandate a violation of their own religious sensibilities. Every Protestant Church I was ever part of – Methodist, Baptist, Christian & Missionary Alliance, FourSquare, Pentecostal Holiness – taught that abortion is wrong, that it is murder of an unborn child and therefore unconscionable to a Christian community. Many, many of those churches taught against certain types of contraception which act as abortifacients (IUD and the Pill). They, too, are being held in contempt by this Administration in this mandate.

We must band together in fighting this threat to our Constitutional liberty and to the salvation of souls. What’s more, we must learn to band together to fight the even great threat to souls: the paganization of our culture.

We’re told that we, as Christians, have an obligation to sit down and shut up and quit trying to manipulate the culture. This is a lie straight from the pit of Hell. Our obligation, friend, is twofold:

We are obligated, mandated, to carry the Gospel into the highways and byways, the marketplace and where we are often the only representatives of the Gospel encountered by our fellows;

And we are obligated, mandated, called by Christ to infuse that world with Gospel values.

If we sit, silent, and let a government agency that is hostile to Faith call the shots, if we sit silently by while our neighbors, coworkers and very family members wallow in grave sin, then we not only are failing to achieve our calling – we are bloodguilty of their souls through our silent complicity in their sins.

That’s serious business. That’s scary business.

And this “accommodation” of mandating insurance companies to cover things objectionable to thinking Christians? Just a wicked ploy to force a diabolical mentality on us. If I had a dollar for every time I encountered the argument that we Christians need to get out of the abortion debate “because it’s legal, so shut up,” I’d be a rival to Bill Gates in wealth. People really do think that because something is legal, it’s acceptable. (And point out that owning human beings through slavery was legal, or that all the atrocities of Hitler’s Germany were legal, and listen to the screams of indignation.)

We know better. Or we’re supposed to know better.

So I oppose this mandate as the forcing of a pagan values system on a nation that was founded on a premise of Christian moral and social values. I oppose the coercing of our children and our young adults to be desensitized to the utter wrong that is abortion and the contraception mentality – the divorcing of sex from love, commitment, respect and family life. Okay, from procreation. But that’s another blog post.

The American Catholic bishops have stood up and howled – a bit late; they should have begun standing like this when President Bush’s conscience protections were overturned almost as soon as Obama got into the Oval Office, and they should have stood united to defend Catholic Social Services when that fine organization, in several states, quit handling adoptions rather than yielding to new state “laws” that mandate serving gay couples in the adoption process. But they didn’t. Now they’re standing – and I hope they will continue to stand and give us leaders to be glad of, to rally with.

But if they fall flat on their faces, we the Faithful must continue the fight.