Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Dog Days Blog

Taking a Summer break. You may have noticed. Blogging will return August  10, 2015.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Repeating My Call to Others

There's a new Planned Parenthood video, even more telling than the last.  But I posted my piece on Saturday (a low traffic day normally) and in light of this new expose, it's even more important that these people receive our earnest prayers.

Dr. Mary Gatter, Planned Parenthood Federation of America's Medical Directors' Council President wants a Lamborghini.  All I can think is, "But for Wales."   So I'm relinking to my Saturday piece, Prayers and Fasting in hopes of getting more people to publicly adopt a specific abortionist they will pray and fast for over the course of the next year.

It is not shocking that people sell other people for money, or parts for money.  We do this as a culture without thinking about it.  We sell human eggs, we sell sperm.  We sell wombs.  We sell porn (selling the outside while destroying the inside).  What we don't do is sell pieces...of people.  Except here, we do.  Why?  Because they've convinced themselves, these children are not people.

Once we stop seeing people as people (unborn), they become property, which can be bought and sold for lucre, and the more, the better.

Someone adopt this woman in their prayers, because a flashy car won't fill her anymore than the fine meal filled Dr. Deborah Nucatola in the prior video.

Don't think it can happen?  Check out Abby Johnson's And Then There Were None.  Abortion preys on the weakest, it enslaves those who perform it, to a constant need to bring others to the same dark place.  It's a hope we have to hold, if we would call ourselves Christians, that mercy and forgiveness are available for the asking.

It's easy to hold her in contempt. It's easy to rage at the evil.  But there is nothing more human than knowing the reality, "We are broken." and nothing closer to the divine, than to either ask for mercy, or give it.  We cannot absolve her of her sins, but we must pray she seeks forgiveness.  That is the only charitable response to what we now know, and we have an obligation now to this woman in particular, and those like her, because now, we know.  She is a lost sheep, a lost sister of Christ.  We want all of our brothers and sisters at the table.

Pray hard.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Be Very....Very Quiet

In our yard, there are three wild rabbits.  My kids keep trying to run out the door and catch them. One created a trap using a bin and a carrot as bait and spent the whole morning watching, hoping the bunny would bite. He got bored before any long eared rodents got curious.

Now the kids know I've caught a bunny for a pet, they've heard the story.

So this evening, after dinner, the kids were loud.  To get a bit of a break, I took out the trash.  The smallest rabbit spied me while feeding on some clover and froze. Not wanting to scare it, I sat on the driveway for a time, watching the fireflies and the moon, taking in the air now that it wasn't as humid or hot.  The bunny didn't move.  I didn't either.  We regarded each other for about fifteen minutes.

When I got up to leave, the rabbit resumed its feed, but it wasn't scared.   I walked within three feet of it, before going back into the house.  

Next time the kids are racing about the home making a ruckus, I'm going to tell them the secret of catching a pet rabbit.

You have to go outside and sit very still and very silent for at least, fifteen minutes.   Maybe I'll make them practice inside, before letting them test it with the real thing.    

Book Review at Patheos!

Like the title says, I read a book and reviewed it and the post is over at Patheos. :)

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Prayer and Fasting

I was going to write a humor piece today about the next two week hiatus I intended to have. 

But unless you've been under a rock, if you're part of the Catholic blogsophere, (and I am), you've no doubt seen or read about the interview.  It breaks your heart to think people could discuss either the procedure or the procurement so casually over a salad and wine.   Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood apologized for the "tone" of the discussion, (note, not the content).     

I saw comboxes filled with justifiable horror, and some things which were far less justifiable, condemnations.   Yes, these people kill the innocent for money.  They do so for a living, it's what they do.   As the old joke goes... We’ve already established that. Now we’re just haggling over the price.

We will not convert Cecile Richards via this expose, or the senior director of medical services for all of Planned Parenthood, Dr. Deborah Nucatola or anyone else, even given the ick factor of harvesting human organs from unborn children willfully discarded and destroyed.   These are people who must live with themselves and to my understanding, there are only three ways they could manage to get through the day and consider themselves moral agents.  

1) They view abortion as a good, not an evil.  Because they view it as a good, as a service they provide to the needy; those who oppose it must be willfully blind to the suffering and fear of the women seeking an abortion. Whether because of their faith or ignorance of the reality of said women seeking abortion, those who oppose abortion do not understand the true service provided.  Ergo, their opinions don't matter, and can be dismissed.  

2) They view abortion as a necessary evil, for the greater good.  The end justifies the means, with the goal being a good. (Independence, freedom from pregnancy). Anyone who doesn't, is imposing their morality and again can be dismissed.   

3) They view having an abortion as a neutral act, having no morality save that ascribed by the person considering it.  As such, they think abortion is something that needs to be destigmatized because it's a hard reality, and having the bonus of morality makes the hard reality worse.  

If we're going to win the hearts of people who think we have nothing they need to hear, it will take more than exposes and votes and threats of fire and brimstone.  It will take serious love, prayer and fasting.  

As incredible as it may seem, for God's mercy and love is beyond ours, that woman sitting discussing her skills at crushing the top and the bottom, like Dr. Kermit Gossnel, and all other advocates who profit from, and push for the continued killing of the innocent, are our brothers and sisters in Christ.   They are Saul before his trip to Damascus.    They are the slave trader before he began his conversion and eventually penned "Amazing Grace."  So I have a proposal for all readers/pro-life advocates/Catholic bloggers out there that made it this far.   

Adopt an abortionist, director of a Planned Parenthood, or a politician who advocates for the procedure for the next year.   Come up with a doable prayer and fast you can perform on behalf of that person.  

"Some demons can only be driven out by prayer and fasting" (Matthew 17:21).

My suggestion is to take one person who is a public face advocating/supporting this grave evil be done to and by human beings.  I'd prefer to have two people adopt each person. Your prayers and fasting are up to you.  Make it a doable thing, like a Hail Mary a day for the person in question, and a nickle a day for a local Crisis Pregnancy center or a rosary a week, anything you wish, but state the person you wish to claim.     

I've chosen Cecile Richards because she is the public face of Planned Parenthood, and I don't think discussion at this point is possible.  If we were to sit down at a dinner, and I were to talk about the innate dignity of every human from point one, it would not be heard.  If I were to talk about the crime which cries out to God, slaughtering the innocent, it would not be heard.  She has come to hold what she does is a good.  

My husband has choses Dr. Deborah Nucatola, the woman in the video.  We hope others will join in this project for the next year. 

Imagine an army of Pauls from the army of Sauls.  

1) Cecile Richards
2) Dr. Deborah Nucatola
3) Dr. Kermit Gossnel
4) Dr. Leroy Carhart (Local, does late term abortions).
5) Any member of the Pro-Choice Caucus: 
Federal Caucus MemberBlumenauer, EarlD-h03Portland
Federal Caucus MemberBrownley, JuliaD-h26Thousand Oaks
Federal Caucus MemberCapuano, Michael E.D-h07Randolph
Federal Caucus MemberCohen, Steve I.D-h09Memphis
Co-ChairDeGette, Diana L.D-h01Denver
Federal Caucus MemberDoggett, Lloyd A.D-h35San Antonio
Federal Caucus MemberEllison, Keith M.DFL-h05Minneapolis
Federal Caucus MemberEngel, Eliot L.D-h16Bronx
Federal Caucus MemberFarr, SamD-h20Santa Cruz
Federal Caucus MemberFrankel, Lois J.D-h22Boca Raton
Federal Caucus MemberGrayson, Alan M.D-h09Orlando
Federal Caucus MemberGreen, GeneD-h29Houston
Federal Caucus MemberGrijalva, Raul M.D-h03Avondale
Federal Caucus MemberHonda, MikeD-h17Newark
Federal Caucus MemberHuffman, Jared W.D-h02Ukiah
Federal Caucus MemberKildee, Dan T.D-h05Flint
Federal Caucus MemberLee, Barbara J.D-h13San Leandro
Federal Caucus MemberLoebsack, Dave W.D-h02Davenport
Federal Caucus MemberLowey, Nita M.D-h17New City
Federal Caucus MemberLujan Grisham, MichelleD-h01Albuquerque
Federal Caucus MemberMcDermott, Jim A.D-h07Seattle
Federal Caucus MemberNadler, Jerrold L.D-h10New York
Federal Caucus MemberPallone, Frank J.D-h06New Brunswick
Federal Caucus MemberPocan, MarkD-h02Beloit
Federal Caucus MemberQuigley, MikeD-h05Chicago
Federal Caucus MemberScott, David A.D-h13Smyrna
Federal Caucus MemberSinema, KyrstenD-h09Phoenix
Co-ChairSlaughter, Louise M.D-h25Rochester
Federal Caucus MemberTitus, Dina C.D-h01Las Vegas
Federal Caucus MemberTsongas, Niki S.D-h03Fitchburg
Federal Caucus MemberVeasey, Marc A.D-h33Fort Worth
5) Hillary Clinton (she's the forerunner but I'm not singling her out other than for that reason).
6) Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg --She's been outspoken on this issue, but any and all of the justices need our prayers on this issue.
7) Prayers are always valid, so pray for the soul of George Tiller --murdered abortionist.
8) Pray for the unknown fathers who have no capacity to protect their children from death.
9) Pray for the nurses and assistants who perform these actions.
10) President Obama and those of his administration that share this view of the unborn as mistakes, punishments, and disposable.
11) Republicans for Choice --I'd list the members but the site ironically does not give any names.
12) Catholics for Choice.   They are denying part of Catholic social justice teaching and moral teaching, by advocating dissent on this issue.
13) There are more but that's for anyone who wishes to discern.   The goal is to adopt a person, make it personal to you, for whom you will pray as a friend prays for a friend, someone who we hope we either get the privilege of welcoming into Heaven, or the honor of being welcomed by.  

We know as Catholics, we will be asked one day, how many did you bring?  Did you turn your one, two or ten talents into more, or bury them?   Our lives are one giant project to invite everybody.

Let's get to work.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Today We Had Summer

It's silly to say, when we've had bbq's and trips to the pool, park and mall, that today was the first day of summer.  I don't mean it by the calendar, or by some official date according to someone.  But today, was the first day, where the schedule did not rule over us or harangue us for not following one.  
We ate breakfast and I impulsively put a lock on the television.  So the kids played "school" and spent the morning creating a whole world with rules and goals, tasks and by lunch, they'd forgotten the machines that seemed so important in the morning.  

After lunch, I saw them go back to old habits, reaching for the Wii or the computer.  "Let's wash the car." I suggested.   Six kids scrambled to change into swimsuits, while the other three opted for reading books.  Sitting outside with a diet coke, I watched and played referee to maintain fairness with the two hoses.  

They spent two hours spraying the car and each other.

Drinks and ice cream, and the day seemed to still hold within it, endless promise.  There were still tasks to do, I folded laundry, we organized the closet, I paid a bill and arranged for tables and chairs to be ordered for the party.  We filled out job applications and a financial aid form for a college.

We still have band camp and exercise and the rosary to go, but the day feels able to hold it in a way yesterday, it didn't.  I couldn't tell you what we did yesterday. It sped by.  I know I took a child to the mall to buy an outfit, and I know I tried to write (and failed), but everything felt rushed and crunched. I could point to nothing at the end of the day that revealed a moment that one could hold as a memory.  

Sitting outside with chocolate ice cream and making chalk drawings on the driveway, felt like a perfect summer moment.  My daughter who originally refused to change into a swim suit, came in dripping, "Mommy, look how wet I got." Her smile stretched to the horizon.  

It's perfect even if it isn't perfect.  Because the kids eventually return again to the screens only to discover it's locked.  "But we'll be bored...."  they start.

"Yes."  I looked up from my book.

They don't understand. What they're really asking, is "Entertain me."

I want them to get to the point in summer, they create their own fun as a matter of course.  They can't do that without going through the dullness of boredom.  One begins creating a fairy house out of mowed grass and sticks.  Another begins to color.  A third opts to make cupcakes for dessert, and a fourth practices her bells.   One goes running.  Another draws a video.  Those left, began playing with toys in the basement.   They didn't need screens.  They didn't need entertainment.  They needed time and opportunity and the desire to act.  TV and phones and kindles and computers, blunted that desire to try and ate time.  

Welcome to summer.   And because I love them and want summer to stretch out as long as possible, tomorrow, I'm locking the Wi-fi.  

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Baconater

Sunday, we didn't follow our normal routine.  Everyone slept in, past the point of making it to the nine o'clock.  Without mass to set the schedule, we tried to go about the day, ever mindful we'd have to coordinate ourselves for later to make Sunday's obligation. I made our ordinary breakfast of bagels and bacon, my husband took a group to go to the grocery store.

Now my family has bacon eaters (8) and non bacon eaters. (4).  We who love the stuff, are very grateful for those who don't.   More for us.  What I didn't know until this morning, was we had one more in our clan of the bacon eating sneeches; one who snitches.    Because bacon is a precious meat to those of us who love it, I'd placed the saved servings for those out shopping under a paper towel.   Having fed everyone at home, I felt satisfied I could go about the rest of the morning.  When the shoppers returned, they'd have breakfast.

It was a big shop and took a long time.   I started a wash, did the dishes, and sat down to write.

My four year old came to me about fifteen minutes before my husband and son returned with the food for the week.  She announced she'd discovered she liked bacon.  I started to get up.  "Oh no, I was saving that for your dad and brother."  She put her hand on mine.  "I know.  I saved them five pieces."   Five pieces, I'd saved three strips for each so she'd eaten one.  Okay, no worries, no problem.

After unloading all the bags and stowing all the food, my husband asked for breakfast.  I toasted bagels for my two shoppers and went to get the plate from the microwave.  On it were five finger nail sized stubs of bacon.  

"There are five."  I said.
"They are pieces." my husband said.
"It is bacon." my son said.
They nibbled at the remains.

Anna proudly pointed.  "I saved these for you Dad."

It was as much bacon as she could bear to share.

"Good thing you brought home more." and I got out the pan and went to the refrigerator.

"More bacon?" Anna's eyes shined with anticipation.  She sat down next to her father.  "Will you share too?"

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy 4th of July

Happy July 4th!  
Today's a day one should take out the Declaration of Independence and read all of it to be reminded why we celebrate today, that the beginnings of our nation, was an address of grievances from an oppressive and overreaching state.  Some may argue, perhaps we turned a teapot's worth of difference into a tempest, but the result was a nation created to represent, and seek to represent an ideal. 

We haven't always lived up to that, and we've had vigorous and even bloody debate at time as to what it meant to be in this nation, but the goal of all people in this nation, regardless of race, gender, economics or politics, has been to somehow move the nation itself toward being a closer approximation of that ideal articulated in the self evident truths stated by Thomas Jefferson.  
I do not agree with all my nation does in my name, or with my treasures, or through its policies, but that does not make me any less a patriot than anyone else who holds this nation dearer than any other on earth.   We have much to be thankful for, even as we have much work to do, if this nation is to remain a city on the hill.    

If civil war was fought in ten thousand places, then civil union of this nation must take place in 100 million places, in the homes of every citizen, and on the internet.  To be one nation, we will have to seek and find the things which bind us together, rather than deal always with what pulls us apart.  

As long as we see any others as merely other...You're a democrat, You're a republican, You're white, You're any other race, you're immigrant, you're poor, you're rich, you're educated, you're not, you're....whatever it is that isn't me, we will continue to have friction and distrust.  Seeing beyond the convenient labels society or politics or current fashion likes to ascribe, will take an act of the will and a generous heart.   

Enjoy the fireworks, remember what they represent, actual battles fought, by actual Americans, not always for the noblest of meanings, but sacrificial none the less.  One of our greatest presidents understood, even those who fought against us for something that was wrong, consecrated the land with their blood and their sacrifice.   A reminder: 

Happy 4th.   

Friday, July 3, 2015

49 Things for This Year's Bucket List

Lists are cheap easy ways to fill a blog I know, but it's my birthday and there's a lot on the schedule so you're getting a list.    Why 49?  Because that's how old I am.

49. See the Pope.  I saw Saint Pope John Paul the Great, I saw Pope Benedict, so I want to see the current Supreme Pontiff.
48.  Lose 20 lbs.  I know, lose weight is on everyone's list every year.
My kids are making me go so this will happen...over time, (and they should probably guard the ice cream if they want it to happen faster), but it will happen.
47. Finish my second book.   (Working on it).
46. Celebrate with all family and friends.  (This will happen too, it's in the works)
45.  Purge my drawers of clothes I don't wear.
44.  Learn a piano song a month.
43. Read a book a month.  I know, I'm jamming up what I will do, but it's a fun wish list.
42. Go to a concert outdoors.
41. See a play.
40. Visit the Capital and the White House. I live here, so naturally, I've never been.
39. March in the March for Life.
38. Become more involved in Paul's school.
37. Write letters.
36. Stop saying, "Let's do lunch sometime."  Say, "Do you want to go to lunch this week?"  and schedule it.
35.  Go to adoration once a week.
34.  Clear my dining room table. (It's always covered in stuff).
33.  Finish necessary paperwork that I've put off forever.
32.  Paint a room.
31.  Start drawing again. (and make myself push that pencil the same way I make my fingers do the typing).
30.  Spend more time with my children, include them in these activities.
29. Visit a museum.
28. Fly a kite on the mall.
27. Help with a campaign.
26. See a whale in the wild.
25. Go fishing. (Not for the whale).
24. Clear out the junk from our home.
23. Get cards out on time.
22. Schedule date nights.
21. Dance.
20. Pray every day.
19. Read my children more stories.
18. Score baseball games.
17. Swim.
16. Get rid of fast food from my diet, even the stuff I tell myself is healthy.
15. Run/walk a 5k.
14. Submit an article a week to some paying market.
13. Learn how to cook something new that the people will eat.
12. Be present (listen) rather than formulate my response.
11. Laugh more, at the world and myself.
10. Play games with my kids.
9. Volunteer for the hard work no one wants to do, make it a gift.
8. Get my physical/dentist/ not just everyone else's.
7. Go sledding.  (I usually stay inside and declare I'll take care of the littles, but they should be going too).
6. Spend more time outside.
5. Read rather than surf.
4. Get to Texas to see my extended family.
3. Plan a trip for my husband and kids, rather than wait for us to think, "Oh yeah...we should do something..."
2. Swim in a river/water hole.
1. Thank God for every moment thus far and stop "Burning Daylight."

If you want any final wisdom, life blinks by fast.  No one says, "I wish I'd spent more time on the internet." at the end.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Hot Dog! I Love Good Books

I grew up in Texas, which meant I hated hot dogs.  I loved roasting them on a fire at the beach, don't get me wrong.  I loved the fixings.  In fact, my favorite way to eat a hot dog (if I had to eat one), was covered in chili with onions and cheese and mustard.  I confessed, I didn't really need the dog to enjoy all the fixings.

But I married a man from the Northeast.  He introduced me to "real" hot dogs.  I became an instant fan.  We discovered Chicago hot dogs, fried hot dogs, but my favorite remained the split grilled version, simple with mustard and onions.   But I didn't know I liked "real" hot dogs until I had one. Until that moment, I thought I'd eaten hot dogs and understood enough to dismiss them as a food altogether.    I did not know I was ignorant.

I also received my education at Catholic schools, from first grade through graduate work.   As an Double English major, (Literature and Writing) I studied Chaucer, Shakespeare, Renaissance writers, 18th Century fiction, 19th Century Fiction, Mythology, American Literature, British Literature and those were just the prerequisites of the major.   

So I felt surprised when I discovered Walker Percy after college, and G.K. Chesterton and Sigrid Undset in my late thirties, and now Rumer Godden as I approach 49.  How did these writers not get presented forcefully during the course of my high school and college education?  Even Flannery O'Connor got a cursory look in one class, one book.   I know my parents tried to wave authors in front of me, (it's how I discovered Percy, Chesterton and Undset), but shouldn't a Catholic education present some of its Catholic artists as part of the normal formation of an educated mind?   

I thought further, about the Catholic authors I did meet in the course of classes.  Their works, whether Dante or Chaucer, were treated as texts, as works completed, which were somehow to sing to us, the college students, without the context of faith, but with the detailed context of the politics and historical times in which they were cast.   We deconstructed the works, stripping away some of the meaning, both for the creator and the recipient, like removing the refrain from a song, or rendering a color film, black and white.   We did not know we were changing what we were receiving, we thought we were getting to the essence of things, the form not obscured by faith.   But faith does not obscure, it reveals.    

There were a few exceptions, and their classes caught fire.  One wouldn't think there could be a three day long discussion amongst addle brained college students in a class held after lunch about what made for a true relationship.  A woman wanting all of us to get something of what literature can bring, pushed the conversation to be led through the lens of seeking truth in all things first.  So we talked about what Emma, Wuthering Heights and Madame Bovary revealed about the nature of romance and love. The eccentric philosopher who openly grieved when only three in the class openly rejected a purely scientific/materialistic reality, pushed people to recognize that faith wasn't just a bit of local color about the authors we were reading, but intricately connected to why they wrote.

I remember him ranting....You couldn't dismiss Black Elk's spiritual and interior life and read Black Elk Speaks with any comprehension.   You couldn't read the Ramayana and not get some of the great beauty of the poetry, if you were going to just view it as a whimsical Indian version of the Odyssey.   You couldn't read the Iliad as merely a long long long long long long poem in which Hector dies.  The end.

People did.

But these professors pushed against the dismissive casual handling of any text, as merely words thrown upon a page that could have been typed by a monkey given enough time.  Moving to graduate school, and beyond, they were the exception, not the rule. 

Reading and discovering these authors, I had to wonder, how is it we haven't been served this feast?  

I know there are many who love Catholic fiction, and perhaps it is time to craft a course for students, particularly of the college age, as part of their faith formation if a school is Catholic.  For these stories, all of them, are attempts to harness the Catholic imagination, and use it like a sail, to propel forth lives lived on the page.  They allow the reader to ruminate more deeply than a Facebook conversation on Catholic ethics or the role of law or faith in society, or what it means to be in love, and not merely the thralls of desire.  

Part of the New Evangelization is the rediscovery of where we've come from, recovering from the stupor of perpetual Internet amnesia with respect to what people can write, think, and create, when they aren't seeking to be trending or create the next overnight success.  We need the satire of Evelyn Waugh, the acid texts of O'Connor, the delicate and in depth romance of Undset, the puns and poetry of Joyce, the wit and whimsy of Percy, and the whispered understanding of an interior life, portrayed in Godden, as much as we need Tolkien's middle earth.   

Finally, I've wondered why we've grown so casual and carnal (if the New York Times Best Sellers list is an indicator) in our appetites for literature.   Perhaps we have been living too long on lesser hot dogs, and forgotten how much better it could be.   If so, here's my attempt at serving you, a grilled Chicago dog with all the trimmings.  I know you're thinking, what's so great about a hot dog but trust me, you'll love it.

So if you've stuck with me this long, I've begun a list --which I hope people will add to, of Catholic writers who strike the heart, and get to the marrow of the faith with their fiction.   The list is in order as I thought of them, not in preference.  I've read or am reading all that I'm listing, though I know there are many many more.  But I don't want to list a book I haven't read or am reading.

1. This House of Brede by Rumer Gooden
3. The Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor  (Cover is beautiful). 
6. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien  (Yes, I love the movies of the LOTR and will watch it any time it's on). 
8. Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh  (Yes I know of Brideshead Revisited, I haven't read it so I can't list it in my part of the list but if anyone is needing an idea for my birthday....I don't own it).
9. The Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins

If that doesn't get your book juices pumping, there's an obnoxiously long list (I want to read them all) over at Catholic Fiction.net.   In the meantime, many thanks to Elizabeth Scalia for the suggestion of the book, and the idea to write about this topic.  I stopped at ten because....I need to feed these people lunch.  Guess what we're having.

As a final P.S. for those poor souls who still don't know what a Chicago dog is, here's the link for the recipe (Just in time for the 4th of July) and a picture: 


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