Tuesday, May 31, 2005

New Traddy Message Board

Seems really brand new. The head honcho has only 1100 posts...
For those interested:

http://www.angelqueen.org/forum/index.php

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

We've moved!

In 5 seconds, you'll be redirected to our new blog...

If that doesn't work, click here.

Lunacy on the Web, part 7

I heard about this site on the radio on Saturday. My initial reaction is that it has to be a parody! Who could be this stupid? But apparently they are serious.

http://www.forsakethetroops.info/index.shtml


If not to provide for our defense, what is a legitimate use of tax money?!

{Paul, try not to have an embolism, k?}

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Another option...

Hey folks,

Paul (aka Catholic Cadet) and I have been playing with new blog software, WordPress. It gives us considerably more flexibility, like searching and categorizing posts, and uploading images. Check it out over at Paul's server . Let us know what you think...

I've moved over all the old posts and the last two weeks of comments.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Switching to Haloscan

Since I haven't heard any dissent, we're going to be switching our comment system over to Haloscan. I'm going to do the conversion tomorrow (Saturday, May 21) sometime shortly after noon. If you have comments you want to save and repost, do that now!

UPDATE: If you forget to save your comments before I convert the system, I have saved all comments in a text file and can send it to you if you wish.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

ET go home

Atheists who are interested in space look to aliens as their saviours. Read what they expect and hope for when/if first contact is ever made. Advanced science that allows for a scientific and materialistic utopia and a solution to all human ills. ET will belong to a race that has, through science, advanced beyond all problems and, being at peace with all, will more than willingly share their technology and solutions to everything with us.

Do none of them ever stop to think that, at the very least, ET will be like us, and more than likely ET will make the Mongols look like hippies?

There really is no such thing as an atheist, they all deify something and look for salvation, personal and corporate, from something. Some in money, most in science and ET.

Reason #99,999,999,999 not to live in a socialist society

Check this story out from England, which I found on Amy Welborn's blog.

So, let me get this straight: a mentally competent man is fighting to keep his right to tell doctors that they cannot withdraw food and water from him once he is no longer able to communicate--even though his condition, cerebellar ataxia, if I remember anything from medical school, will not affect his higher brain functions at all. This is one small step from involuntary euthanasia.

First stem cells, now this. I have become convinced that the problem is with us, that we who know better do not speak out. Now, how best to do that?

Society of Pope Pius I

“To be any more Trad, you’d have to be Jewish”

EDIT: Here's Google's cache of the page since it appears to be down.

While we're on the subject of science

I don't know if y'all have seen this quote before, but I think it strikes at the heart of the whole issue of faith and science, like no other:

(from Richard Lewontin, "Billions and Billions of Demons," review of The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Cradle in the Dark by Carl Sagan, New York Review of Books, January 9,1997, 32.)

We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.


It took some courage to come out and acknowledge the metaphysical basis of materialism.

Reversion to savagery

The rejection of Catholicism, and especially the rejection of Christianity, causes a people to revert back to the most base savagery. In war, the deliberate targeting of civilians is accepted, even praised, as ending wars with fewer lives lost. Numbers are all that matter. The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are accompanied by comments that the Japanese ought to be thankful that they didn't get what they deserved. What did they deserve? Why, the total destruction of their race. And yet we denounce Hitler and the Nazis for attempting to commit just such an act of genocide. Looking further back in history we find the genocidal attacks on the Native Americans perpetuated by the Protestant settlers. To be fair, Spanish and Portuguese Catholics were often no better, but their failings were exactly that: Failings. The Church strongly condemned atrocities and slavery (indeed, Queen Isabella I of Spain supported the colonization efforts for the conversion of the Native Americans and rejected all slavery). But with the Protestant settlements in what would become the United States, atrocities were the rule. These atrocities continued until there were no more Indians left, around the beginning of the 20th century.

During the Civil War, Gen. Sherman deliberately destroyed several Confederate cities and devestated the land, purposefully targeting civilians. This is hailed as military genius by our modern society. But how is it military genius to attack those who are simply trying to live their lives as best they can? While there is no moral problem with attacking factories producing war material or logistic lines like railroads, Gen. Sherman didn't restrict his army to what was just, but attacked everything. This wasn't even necessary for the war to be won, and it was not the March to the Sea that won the war, but rather the destruction of the Army of Northern Virginia.

Total war was then taken to its extreme following the rise of airpower. The entire purpose of air forces until the development of the blitzkreig (and resulting shift to tactical air power) was the murder of as many civilians of the enemy country as possible, using chemical and conventional weaponry. During the Second World War, when the Allied air forces would firebomb cities, they would do so in a manner that deliberately trapped firefighters in the center of the inferno, to prevent any attempt at putting out the flames. The firebombing of Tokyo targeted an area that was 85% residential. The leaders of these campaigns deliberately attempted to make war as cruel was possible, for the utopian dream of a "war to end all wars."

During the Cold War, our entire system of deterrence was based upon the threat to murder millions of Soviet citizens if they ever crossed into Western Germany.

All of that was while we still claimed to be Christian. Now, in a "Post-Christian" age, we slaughter thousands of babies a day, calling it freedom. We are about to engage in the cannibalism of infants, tearing them apart to try and heal ourselves, even though adult stem cell research has worked better in every test. And yet we still perpetuate the American myth that we are a nation set aside, a people without sin.


We need a few asteroid impacts to cure us of 200 years of ingrown arrogance.

Stem Cell Research

This is sad

Pregnant girl not allowed to walk stage at graduation

I personally think this is bull.

I wondered when this was going to happen...

One of my favorite bloggers, "Pontificator", aka the once and future Fr. Al Kimel, has decided to swim the Tiber. His blog is full of wise and interesting posts that are well worth reading. Praise God that such a strong voice has been added to the Church!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Haloscan or Blogger for Comments

OK, folks. Time to vote: I recovered the old Blogger comments. We can do one of two things: switch over to Haloscan and lose them, since there's no way to export them, or stay with Blogger.

Pros to Haloscan:

- moderating of comments
- able to ban commenters (via their IP addresses)
- trackbacks so we can broaden our readership by links to and from other blogs that have similar posts

Cons:

- we lose our comments from Blogger, although they are still in Blogger's system if at any point in the future they enable exporting of them.

Let me know via comment what you want me to do.

SETI is Lost in the Cosmos

Dr. Russell Moore blogs in Touchstone Magazine's Mere Comments about the problems that lie behind the desperate Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. As I read Dr. Moore's post, I couldn't help but think of Walker Percy's wonderful book Lost in the Cosmos.

Percy makes a strong (and very funny) case that the real issue behind modern angst is a deep discomfort with the self. I think C.S. Lewis termed it Sehnsucht, or a certain longing for something that just can't be described. The SETI folks clearly have this longing, this sense of loneliness, and instead of searching within themselves to see why they have this yearning, for which God and Christianity is the answer, they listen to the stars for an answer. In order to attempt to fill their God-shaped holes, they scan the universe for evidence that we are not alone and therefore not significant--because, to search within would mean to embrace a faith that they have deemed obsolete.

Dr. Moore suggests that SETI "looks to the sky for rescue." But as I think about it, I'm not sure if it's rescue they want, but rather, confirmation that humanity is as minuscule and unimportant as they, as followers of scientific materialism, insist it to be. If SETI does look for rescue, it is for a final rescue from their consciences, from their Christian heritage. It would be ironic if they do get an answer from another planet (which I doubt they will), if the aliens had faith in our transcendent, omnipotent God and proceeded to tell SETI just how foolish they have been.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Baby dies at 11 ounces...

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7873695/?GT1=6542

What do you all think about this? Article says baby was taken by c-section because a sonogram raised concerns she would die in the womb.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Sudan

Help if you can...donate to the Bishop.

http://groups.msn.com/SufferinginSudan/yourwebpage2.msnw

The 100 Greatest Americans

Evidently, the Discovery Channel is starting a new series where Americans will vote for the "Greatest American" from a list of nominees submitted by ordinary folks around the country. Check out the list (copied from here, found on Southern Appeal)
Abraham Lincoln
Albert Einstein
Alexander Graham Bell
Alexander Hamilton
Amelia Earhart
Andrew Carnegie
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Audie Murphy
Babe Ruth
Barack Obama
Barbara Bush
Benjamin Franklin
Bill Clinton
Bill Cosby (William Henry Cosby, Jr.)
Bill Gates
Billy Graham
Bob Hope
Brett Favre
Carl Sagan
Cesar Chavez
Charles Lindbergh
Christopher Reeve
Chuck Yeager
Clint Eastwood
Colin Powell
Condoleezza Rice
Donald Trump
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Eleanor Roosevelt (Anna Eleanor Roosevelt)
Ellen DeGeneres
Elvis Presley
Frank Sinatra
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Frederick Douglass
George H. W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Lucas
George Patton
George Washington
George Washington Carver
Harriet Ross Tubman
Harry Truman
Helen Keller
Henry Ford
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Howard Hughes
Hugh Hefner
Jackie Robinson (Jack Roosevelt Robinson)
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Jesse Owens
Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Stewart
John Edwards
John Glenn
John F. Kennedy
John Wayne
Johnny Carson (John William Carson)
Jonas Edward Salk
Joseph Smith Jr.
Katharine Hepburn
Lance Armstrong
Laura Bush
Lucille Ball
Lyndon B. Johnson
Madonna (Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone)
Malcolm X (Malcolm Little)
Marilyn Monroe
Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
Martha Stewart
Martin Luther King Jr.
Maya Angelou
Mel Gibson
Michael Jackson
Michael Jordan
Michael Moore
Muhammad Ali (Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr.)
Neil Alden Armstrong
Nikola Tesla
Oprah Winfrey
Pat Tillman
Dr. Phil McGraw
Ray Charles
Richard Nixon
Robert Kennedy
Ronald Reagan
Rosa Parks
Rudolph W. Giuliani
Rush Limbaugh
Sam Walton
Steve Jobs
Steven Spielberg
Susan B. Anthony
Theodore Roosevelt
Thomas Edison
Thomas Jefferson
Tiger Woods
Tom Cruise
Tom Hanks
Walt Disney
Wrights Brothers (Orville & Wilbur Wright)


I don't know whether to laugh or cry. If this is the current state of American culture, of which I think it's a pretty good representation, then it's time for us to pray, pray, pray.

Got some great news today

I received an email from my RCIA director today. He has asked me to become a catechist. I was really exicted about this opportunity. I love teaching and what better topic to teach about that the Church and Christ.

I will either be a catechist for RCIA or adult faith formation. I don't really have a preference. Alhtough RCIA can be really interesting at times. However, AFF can be very lively and debate/discussion oriented.

So I will have to wait to see what happens.

God Bless!

Friday, May 13, 2005

Liberalism vs. Conservatism vs. Christian

I ran across two essays that I thought y'all might like to read, from back in 1996 in First Things, both by U. of Texas Professor J. Budziszewski, also a recent convert to Catholicism. The first, "The Problem with Liberalism", skewers liberal thinking. I found it compelling and plan on using his arguments with relish to point out to liberal friends why they are quite wrong.

However, in the next month's issue, he wrote "The Problem with Conservatism". I was a little bit less comfortable with this one, having committed several of the errors he debunks, on a regular basis.

When you take both essays together, I think he makes one broad, excellent point: that to be Christian is to be neither liberal nor conservative. It may mean going into "tactical alliance" with either liberals or conservatives on certain issues in order to further them, but it mustn't mean identifying oneself with one side or the other. This is why I was so tormented by the last presidential election: I found both sides to be repugnant, but because of the Democrats' position on abortion, I could not follow them, and because in our two-party system, to not vote for one party essentially means a vote for the other, I felt I had no other choice but to give my support to the more conservative party. I have fallen into the trap of trying to defend Republican plans, but I have become convinced that there are some Republican programs, particularly those designed to further capitalism and spread that ideology around the globe, that I cannot support.

So what do we do, as Christians and as Catholics? How do we interact with our neighbors who identify themselves as liberals or as conservatives? More pointedly, how do we correct our fellow Christians who feel that to be Christian is to be liberal or to be conservative?

Why do men hate church?

Amy Welborn et. al. speculate.

But England's Cardinal Heenan understood why all the way back in 1967:
Cardinal Heenan addressed the Synod the day after the experimental Mass had been presented and said he did not know the names of those who had proposed the new Mass but it was clear to him that few of them had ever been parish priests.
    "At home," he said, "it is not only women and children but also fathers of families and young men who come regularly to Mass. If we were to offer them the kind of ceremony we saw yesterday we would soon be left with a congregation of women and children."
He also said we needed more than ever to stress the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and that the faithful were growing restless and disturbed by too frequent changes in the Mass. Remember, this was in 1967! He concluded his speech by stating that the Latin tongue must be preserved. "If the Church is to remain truly the Catholic Church it is essential to keep a universal tongue." How tragically prophetic those words were.
Ref: The Development of the Mass Since 1960 (scroll down).

I think, too, that men tend to prefer things to stay the same, while women are more welcoming of change.

I know from my own experience that there is no shortage of men, young and old, assisting at the traditional Mass.

Pope Benedict Begins Process for Sainthood!!!

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,156418,00.html

Man executed after 18 years on death row

. . . and is described as "deranged."

Without getting into a critical discussion about the Church's teaching on the death penalty (I'll leave that for the comments box), it seems to me that to accept one's punishment manfully is a sign of sanity, not of insanity.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Why having a child with a severe disability has been the greatest blessing of my life

I know that sounds like a really weird topic. But, it is true.

If you look at that title through the eyes of the world, you would see it to be irrational and idiotic. Why on earth would anyone see a child with a disability as a blessing. Children with severe disabilities cost must more to raise than a "normal" child does. Children with severe disabilities can not live "normal" lives. Children with severe disabilities are a burden on the school systems. And my absolutely favorite -- we need to fix children with severe disabilities.

Now, when I look at the title of this article, I see nothing but truth. My daughter has a severe disability known as Rett Syndrome. This is an extremely rare genetic disorder which causes the brain to develop abnormally. This causes severe developmental delays in motor skills and speech. To give you an idea of what I mean:

My daughter is 25 months old. However, at her most recent assessment, she had the fine motor function of a 2-month old; the speech function of a 9-month old; and the gross motor function of an 11-month old. She can not speak, stand, walk, crawl or sit up on her own. She is and always will be completely reliant upon her mother and me for her every need.

Now, after reading all of that, you may be asking yourself how is all of this a blessing. Let me explain.

Children with severe disabilities cost must more to raise than a "normal" child does. This is true. Children with Rett Syndrome require exorbanant amounts of money to raise. There are countless therapies -- physical, occupational, speech, vision, developmental. There are countless doctor/medical visits -- pediatrician, gastroenterologist, neurologist, orthopedist, dietician, etc. There are medications -- reflux medication, vitamin supplements, seizure medication (eventually). All of these things cost money. But, it's only money. And, the federal government, through the Medicaid program, helps the families of children with disabilities with medical coverage. Well, that is great but it costs the taxpayers more money. My response to this has always been: that is what God wants us to do. He wants us to help one another and our tax money enables the government to do just that. So this point is moot. Money is not a factor in raising a child. Only someone without children would see it that way.

Children with severe disabilities can not live "normal" lives. I guess this depends on how you define normal. If you mean going to school, doing the things that most children do...then I guess you are right. But if you mean being a child of God, feeling the emotions that God gave all of us, wanting to love and be loved, and being loved without question by a God who sees us all as His own children, then how is a disabled child not the same. Sure, my daughter will never play on the playground with other children. My daughter will never go to a junior high dance. My daughter will never have a first date. My daughter will never go to her senior prom. My daughter will never get married. My daughter will never have children. So what. Why does it matter? Why do the norms of society matter so much more that the individual value of a person? Why is the value of a person always measured by how much money they earn or what material possessions they have? Do these things have any real bearing on the a person's life. Absolutely not. So, again, this point is moot.

Children with severe disabilities are a burden on the school systems. This could not be farther from the truth. If you want to look at it from a purely monetary point of view, school districts should be begging for children with disabilities. Disabled children bring the districts extra money through federal and state special education funds. Well, it is not fair for a disabled student to take up the time of a teacher who is trying to reach 25 other students. I used to believe this. I used to be a very strong proponent of segregating disabled students from the general population. Then I realized how wrong I am. The teachers are there to teach. Period. It is their job to find a way to teach every child in their classroom. If they do not want to do this, get out of the profession. If it is too difficult for them to do, step aside and let someone who will put in the extra effort take their places. If they just don't have the patience to deal with a disabled student, they should have never become teachers. Teachers are put in a classroom for one purpose -- to teach. Not just to teach to those who are easily taught. That is just like loving your family. It's easy. The challenge is to find a way for those children who have difficulty learning to learn. I seem to remember Jesus saying something about loving your enemy. It can be directly applied here. Again, this point it moot.

And my absolutely favorite -- we need to fix children with severe disabilities. This one makes me laugh hysterically when I hear it. How anyone could thing that a child needs to fixed is beyond me. When you look at my daughter, you see the most pure and innocent child you have ever seen. This is a child who is completely unblemished by sin. This is a child, who for the rest of her life, will look upon the world with the same child like curiosity and awe that she does right now as a 2-year old. This is a child who when she comes into the room, lights up the whole house. So, I ask, why does this child need to be "fixed"? So, she can lead a productive life. Productive in whose eyes? Again we are looking through societies eyes. Eyes that are so blinded by materialism and relativism that they don't see the forest for the trees. In fact they don't even see the trees, they see paper. Why on earth would I want to "fix" her. If a cure came out tomorrow for Rett Syndrome, would I use it? Of course I would. What parent would not heal their child if given the chance? However, we need to understand that these children do not need to be "fixed". It is us, and our warped sense of value, that needs to be fixed. Until we learn that the value of a person is in their soul, we are the ones that truly need to be fixed. Finally, this point is moot.

But, you still have not explained why having a child with a severe disability is such a blessing. Well, one reason really. It changes your life. It changes your life in such a way that even people with children do not understand. To make a commitment to a child with a severe disability is greater than any other earthly commitment you can make. Our daughter will live with us for the rest of her life. The prospect of that is very frightening. Not because I am scared to give her the care that she deserves, but scared to think what will happen to her should she outlive us. I pray that any other children we have will care for her in that case. That commitment has really forced me to reevaluate my life and what I hold to be important. I have learned more from living with and watching her then she could ever learn from me. She is always happy. Always. She doesn't have a cell phone. She doesn't have a car. She doesn't have a computer. She doesn't play sports. She doesn't go to the movies. She just loves and feels love. Imagine being able to do that. Just to love and feel loved. I can only imagine that is what heaven is like. When I am at work or away from her, I just want to be near hear and see her.

As a Catholic, we do not proclaim that we know we are going to heaven. That is up to God. We can be morally certain that we are going to heaven. And that I am. But I know, and I am sure that the Church would agree with me on this, that our daughter is bound for heaven. She does not have and never will have the capacity for sin. She is baptized. What can keep her from heaven? She is living saint. So, that makes me even more intent on making it to heaven. I want to be with her forever. I want to be a better person. I want to be just like her. I want to love and feel loved just as she does. I want to approach life the same infantile curiosity and awe that she does. That is why she is such a blessing to me. She makes me want to live my faith. She makes me want to be a better person. She makes me want to live the life of a Catholic.

What's so great about NFP anyways?

I’m the first to admit that NFP and I have a classic love-hate relationship. Through fluctuations in my cycles due to years of pregnancy and breastfeeding, and just plain aging and heredity, monitoring my fertility has been challenging at times. Now, because of hormonal problems which will probably cause miscarriage, I am forced to use NFP to avoid conception. But what is really the cause of my hatred? Frankly, I hate it because it calls me to self-control, which is probably the least well exercised of all virtues in my life. NFP all too plainly points out my faults, expecting me to answer “no” when I’d dearly love to say “yes”. The siren call of the world today, instead of endorsing virtue, rather says, “You can have it all…say ‘yes’, no consequences”. ‘Consequences’ of course are strictly defined as children, and nothing else. But are the only consequences of sex and birth control, children? As a student midwife, and as a Christian wife and mother, I have done much research on this and come to some surprising conclusions.

Before I begin, though, I’d like to debunk the myth that NFP is “Catholic birth control”. Nothing could be further from the truth. NFP, properly defined, is simply gathering data. There are a few different methods, but the end result is identifying a woman’s own pattern of fertility and infertility. This is what the Church has permitted, that a woman can licitly and legitimately gather medical information about herself. The Church also permits a husband and wife to abstain. Logically, the Church either permits occasional abstinence, or is forced to define when and how often a husband and wife should be intimate. The latter is obviously an invasion of privacy, assault against prudence, and would imply that many lives of canonized saints were full of grave sin. So instead the Church has made guidelines which the faithful Catholic will keep in mind when deciding what to do with the information that has been gathered. The Church is clear that we are never to engage in the “contraceptive mindset” that would use NFP as nothing more than birth control. Such a mindset places the primary purpose of the marital embrace as unitive, while devaluing the bearing of children as a “consequence” which is nice if you’d planned it, but otherwise to be avoided. On the contrary, the Church emphasizes both the unitive and procreative purposes of the marital embrace.

All Christians should likewise emphasize the two-fold purpose of the marriage embrace, because the contraceptive mindset eliminates the purpose of male-female marriage. If marriage is primarily unitive, than the marriage act is appropriate for any two individuals who wish to be united. If the marriage act is equally procreative, it becomes necessary that marriage be between a man and a woman only. By observing our culture over the last two generations, it is quite clear that the Catholic Church has been wise. Not only has the contraceptive mindset lead to the population implosion of western civilization (see news articles on depopulation), but we are now in the midst of the new cultural revolution, which demands equality of status between traditional marriage and homosexual unions. As all Christian denominations have fallen for the lie that birth control is permissible, they have lost the key argument against homosexuality, that is, that they cannot procreate. Until the 1930s, no Christian anywhere would have ever considered birth control as morally licit.

That being said, there are times in a marriage where the further begetting of children would cause serious harm. We must be cautious when examining ourselves to determine if we have just reasons for avoiding the bearing of children and guard against a contraceptive mindset. It is helpful to have recourse to spiritual direction when making this decision. But, such scenarios might include economic hardship, health conditions, or psychological conditions. During such a time, it may become morally licit to postpone the further bearing of children, and for that end, the information gathered while practicing NFP can be surprisingly effective, even when compared with all the contraceptive alternatives available. NFP may also be licit to healthily space births, as research shows that births within a year and a half can have detrimental health effects on both mother and child.

All artificial birth control can be classified into two main categories: hormonal and barrier, with the exception of the IUD which I will discuss separately. When evaluating the varying alternatives, I will focus on function, user-effectiveness and side effects.

Hormonal birth control is available in a variety of forms these days. There is the ubiquitous combination pill, the progesterone only mini-pill, the patch, Depo-Provera, Norplant, etc. Despite the variations, they are all similar in function and side-effects. Hormones have a three-fold function. The first is to prevent ovulation. The second and third are to guard against failure of the first--the vaginal mucosa is thickened to delay the movement of sperm, the function of the fallopian tubes is slowed, and the uterine lining is altered. Statistics show that most women experience up to 1-2 breakthrough ovulations per year while on the pill. When this happens, the other functions of the pill come into play. If a baby is conceived, the hormones of the pill create an environment which make it difficult for the baby to implant and thus an early abortion occurs. The progesterone only pill is even less effective than the combination pill at preventing ovulation. Up to 60% of cycles will result in breakthrough ovulation while on the mini-pill. The user-effectiveness of hormonal birth control is 97%. While hormonal methods are the most effective, they also carry the greatest health risks. Side-effects range from headaches and weight gain, to blood clots, stroke, breast and cervical cancers, and a 2 fold increased risk of heart attack. Studies have also shown that use of artificial hormones can lead to depression and bipolar disorder as the woman’s natural hormone levels may be irreversibly altered. Families with a history of mental illness, especially clinical depression and bipolar disorder, should be exceptionally wary about using hormonal methods of birth control. Use of hormonal birth control may also lead to either short term or long term infertility. Other risks if one conceives while using hormonal birth control are abortion, ectopic pregnancy (due to the impaired action of the fallopian tubes), impaired function of the corpus luteum which sustains the early pregnancy, abnormally implanted placenta, and exposure of the developing baby to artificial levels of hormones.

On the other hand, barrier methods have fewer side effects but are far less effective birth control. The primary function of barriers is to prevent sperm from reaching the egg. Condoms, diaphragms, and cervical caps are the most popular forms of barrier birth control methods. These methods are usually used in conjunction with spermicidal creams, foams, or jellies. These methods have a wide range of user-effectiveness, but for the most part condoms with spermicide are the most effective at a user-effectiveness rating of 89%. Other barrier methods become increasingly less effective the more children one bears. Side-effects may include allergies, both to the latex and to the spermicide. By using spermicide, one also risks the conception of a child by a sperm injured by the spermicide. While not exactly a “side-effect”, barrier methods can also impede the natural flow of the marital embrace and can cause discomfort during use.

The IUD is a whole ‘nother animal. There are basically two types of IUD, hormonal and traditional. Both work primarily as an abortifacient by irritating the uterine lining to prevent a conceived baby from implanting. The hormonal IUD has an added progesterone element to prevent ovulation, however it is as effective as the mini-pill discussed above, that is it may fail to prevent ovulation up to 60% of the time. IUDs are 98-99% effective. Side-effects of the IUD include risks of uterine perforation, increased risk of vaginal and/or uterine infection, the IUD becoming imbedded in the uterus, sterility, ectopic pregnancy, longer and heavier periods, and in the case of the hormonal IUD, all the additional side effects of hormonal birth control. In addition, the IUD must be checked regularly to be sure it is still in place, and may sometimes be lost without the user knowing. If a woman becomes pregnant while using the IUD, removal of the IUD may cause abortion, while leaving it in place may cause premature birth and placental insufficiency. The IUD may also cause abnormal implantation of the placenta. The IUDs which include a copper component can carry an additional risk to women who have Wilson’s disease or are allergic to copper.

NFP can be used to avoid conception, by abstaining from the marital embrace during the woman’s fertile time. The fertile period can be observed by collecting data such as the basal body temperature, observation of vaginal mucus, and position of the cervix. The method has a user-effectiveness rating of 85-95% (some studies even showed 99% effectiveness). Method failures usually occur when the rules are not followed. There are no side effects. The method can also identify other health issues such as infertility or luteal phase defects. Additionally, NFP can be used to achieve pregnancy, which no birth control can ever do, by identifying the period in which conception is most likely to occur. NFP user effectiveness can be similar to condom user effectiveness because the couple must decide before every act whether to prevent pregnancy or not. The difference between the two, however, is that if a couple abstains during the fertile time, they will not conceive, while if a couple decides to go ahead and use a condom during the fertile time and the condom fails (3-5% probability of condom failure), they will probably conceive. When comparing NFP to other non-barrier methods, one must evaluate not only whether the sizeable health risks are worth added user-effectiveness, but also consider the fact that NFP can be as effective as hormonal birth control if used carefully and consistently. Non-barrier methods risk abortion of the conceived child, while NFP will never cause an abortion.

In addition to the above information, Christians have additional concerns when evaluating birth control. As Christians, our purpose on earth is to prepare ourselves for our inheritance and through our behavior to draw others to Christ. Marriage has been used in Scripture as an illustration of Christ’s relationship with us, the Church. Just as Christ gave all of himself for us, so are we as spouses to give all of ourselves to each other. Christ withheld nothing from us, we should withhold nothing from each other. As parents, we are given countless opportunities to grow in grace and holiness daily. We learn how to sacrifice our self for others, not only within the marital embrace, but in our every day family life. We also are enjoined by Scripture to take good care of the temple of our bodies, as we house the Holy Spirit. In considering these facts, how does artificial birth control meet these demands? How does it cause one to increase in holiness, self-sacrifice, love for others, and care of our bodies? Does NFP foster this growth? As Christians, are we not commanded to follow Him, even if it is the more difficult road?

Problems at Work Part 2

Well, you all remember the argument I got into early last week. Well, I guess the two girls who are now mad at me ...even after my apology for getting upset...have been talking crap about me to my boss...because since last week he won't speak to me...he ignores me...and then we had a meeting on Friday. He always announces the sales that we have each month. We sold right at 600,000 dollars worth this month...and my sales were a little over half of that. He mentiones the two girls who are mad at me...and passes right over me. He also always hangs up our sales in our cubicles...and mine have been sitting on my desk since last Thursday. He hung up their's...but not mine. I mean, no big deal, I'm bigger then that....but I dont know if I should go and ask him what the problem is...or just ignore him like he is doing me....to be honest...I don't care what people think about me...but I truly hate having this type of pressure at work. Anyway, I don't mean to complain...I just feel a little frustrated...and kind of sad because I try to get along with everyone.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Novus Ordo Rednecks -- The post-funeral activity (part 3)

At the end of Saturday's funeral, my fiancee and I were standing outside the church, next to the hearse. I spotted my cousin, who told us, "We'll see you guys at the house."

Hrmm. Ok. Guess the burial is going to be immediate family only.

"Hey, Joe..." (Joe is a friend of the family) "...where's the burial?"
Joe: (ahem) "Umm. Ain't no burial. They're gonna cremate him."

Ok, so I know it's allowed in the post-conciliar world. I let it slide. Back "at the house", I spotted J.'s stepdaughter.

"So do I understand they're going to bury the ashes at the home in Mississippi?"
Cousin: "Well, that's just what they (J.'s family) told Father Jim."
"So what's the real plan?"
"Well, part of his ashes are to be buried in Mississippi. Part of them are to be scattered from the back of a Harley Davidson. Part of them are to be scattered into Lake (I forget the name). The rest are to be used as fertilizer for any trees they plant in his honor."

Interestingly enough, I suddenly don't recall anything else that happened "back at the house" after I heard that statement.

Novus Ordo Folly - The Funeral Mass (part 2)

While the posting immediately following this one is pretty verbose and took a lot out of me, this one will be shorter and sweeter(?).

"Father Jim" married "B." and "J." (no side jokes please). I went to their wedding -- against my better judgment and my family's wishes. B. has been a protestant her whole life. J. has been "Catholic". At their wedding, I watched this "priest" feed the Eucharist to my protestant aunt and all of her protestant family.

(*cough*)

Not surprising in the post-conciliar world, I suppose.

There were, as you might imagine, several things at this Mass that were not surprising to me.
About the only thing that was surprising was why we were even having a funeral mass. I mean, if the priest is going to just come right out and declare that "Brother J. is in heaven with Jesus at this very moment," then I really have no idea why we're having a mass for him. I also don't understand why we should be praying for him. If anything, we should have turned the Mass into a service to pray for the intercession of Saint J.

I could perhaps thrill all of you readers with the tales of what happened at this "mass". I might start with the mundane happenings of the Preparation of the Gifts, whereby the priest prayed "Blessed are you Lord of all Creation. Because you're Good, you gave us wheat, which we have turned into bread. It will become for us the bread of life" and "Blessed are you Lord of all Creation. Because you're Good, you gave us the fruit of the vine which we have pressed to offer you. It will become for us our spiritual drink."

Yes, I could go on with that stuff were it not for the fact that so much wrong happened that I can't remember it all. Actually, that's maybe a blessing.

I mentioned (in part 1 of this series) that after protestant B. married "catholic" J., the couple stopped going to Mass --- really, who could blame them, considering that they weren't doing anything Catholic with Fr. Jim to begin with? --- and started attending Idlewild Presbyterian Church up until the day of J.'s death. This priest knows that B. and her whole family is protestant. But of course, Fr. Jim explained that this was a "special circumstance" and that he could permit them to receive the "Eucharist" at this "Mass". And so, of course, that's precisely what he did.

Pray for this priest, Father Jim, because he shall have much to answer for.

Novus Ordo Faux Pas Rosary and Visitation (part 1)

I haven't been to a lot of Catholic funerals in the 15 years since I converted to the Catholic Church. That's due mostly to the fact that everybody else in my family is a Protestant. But this past Friday and Saturday was a whole new Novus Ordo experience for me and one that I shall soon not forget.

Some minor background on this situation might be beneficial, so, to keep it short, my father's twin brother married "B." about 25 years ago. He died in 1999 from a heart attack. About 18 months after his death, "B." married a Catholic man, "J.", who was a contractor by trade, had actually constructed a whole new section of my aunt and uncle's house years ago when they were still married, and about whom my uncle made the remark, "I think that man has his eye on you." It would seem that my uncle was correct, in light of the alacrity with which my aunt took in marrying "J." so soon after my uncle's death.

In any case, cancer claimed J.'s life last week (my aunt is now a three-time widower, by the way). Knowing what I just described in the previous paragraph, you may safely assume that there is a tremendous amount of animosity between my family and my aunt's family. I suppose, technically, she's not really my aunt. But I decided I might offer some sign of peace by going to J.'s visitation and funeral. (My fiancee decided to attend as well).

That's enough digression and let's get to the meat of the matter here.

Friday night, the visitation was at the church (same church B. and J. were married in. ...uhh... no pun intended on the abbreviated names). Same priest, too --- Father "Jim". I have no idea what his last name is. Anyway, this was an odd thing for me. I've never seen a visitation in a Church... plenty at the funeral home... never at a Church. But let's move on. My fiancee and I are traditional Catholics. More specifically, we're SSPX Catholics, but no matter. We walk in, my fiancee dons her mantilla and of course the noisy mass of people crowded about in the nave of the Church was almost deafening. I look up -- sure enough, the tabernacle's candle is burning brightly. We shrug and move to a side pew. Hmmm... no kneelers. (No surprise there). So we kneel on the floor and do some prayers while everyone else continues to enjoy social hour in the nave of St. Patrick's Church in Memphis, TN. I finish reading the De Profundis and sit back. A rosary has been scheduled for 8pm, but since everyone's still visiting and chatting like a bunch of protestants at the Starbuck's stand in a megachurch, nothing gets kicked off until 8:30.

The Rosary Starts:

My fiancee and I are accustomed to praying the Rosary on our knees. While we dislike the notion that this "Catholic" church has no kneelers, we relish in the idea of offering up our discomfort for the souls in purgatory (not to exclude, perhaps, "J.").

Faux Pas #1: "Which mysteries did he say we were gonna do?!???"

Oh, that's right. The GLORIOUS Mysteries, because in the post-conciliar world, when every Catholic who dies bypasses Purgatory and finds himself shooting billiards with Christ in heaven, the Glorious Mysteries are to be said. The Sorrowful Mysteries -- being appropriate for a rosary in this circumstance -- are long gone in the post-conciliar world.

Faux Pas #2: "Hey... something's not right...."

Oh, you heard him right. Well, actually, you did not hear something right. You did not hear the 'Our Father' after the announcement of the First Glorious Mystery.

Faux Pas #3: "Hey... what kind of prayer is this...?"

Ok, while I don't like this version:
"Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with YOU. Blessed are YOU among women, and blessed
is the fruit of YOUR womb, Jesus..."
...I was willing to let it slide. Now that you know my displeasure at that 'change', I'll let you imagine my displeasure at the Glory Be:
"Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever, Amen." This is apparently an accepted prayer, and some won't see it as a faux pas, but being the rad trad that I am, it just ain't right.

Faux Pas #4: "Did we skip another prayer....?"

If you're thinking ahead and wondering if I'm referring to the Fatima prayer, then you'd be right. I know it's an "optional" prayer for the rosary, even though it seems that the Blessed Virgin thought it important enough to be added, and what would be more appropriate than the Fatima Prayer for the current situation? Oh, well, I suppose it doesn't matter since, according to the priest, "Father Jim", J. is already in heaven. Maybe that has something to do with it.

Faux Pas #5: "..could this guy possibly screw this up further?"

If you're still thinking ahead to the Hail, Holy Queen, then you'd be right again. Give yourself an indulgence as a reward for just knowing where I was headed.
We start off well enough... "Hail Holy Queen, mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope...".
I would like to tell you the rest of what we said, but unfortunately, the priest deviated so far from the prayer that I simply cannot recreate it in writing.

Faux Pas #6: ".. what in hell are they doing up there?...."

And now, this is the granddaddy of them all. Any member of a civilized society will be able to relate to what I am about to describe. This goes far beyond the boundary of decency and is so gauche that I hesitate to write it. But... what fun would that be for me to omit that which, in some macabre fashion, appears to encapsulate how I, a Traditionalist, feel when plunked into the Novus Ordo world??

Immediately after the rosary, J.'s sons gather around the open part of the casket. The other 20 or so people who stayed for the rosary are now milling about, resuming their obnoxious coffeetalk. Fiancee and I are still sitting in our kneeler-less pew. I can no longer see J. in the casket due to the wall created by his sons and there appears to be some struggling movement going on. "What are they doing?" I ask. "Can't see," replies my fiancee. "Oh, I think they're trying to put a rosary in his hands." No response. Silence. No response. More silence. "Uhh, no. Looks like they're trying to remove his jewelry."

"Do WHAT?!??"

Oh that's quite the case. Nevermind simply telling the funeral director (who was, of course, right there at the church) to get the jewelry before closing the casket for good. Let's allow the tallest son to reach into the closed portion of the casket to physically bring the corpse's hands out and start tugging on the ring. They're tugging, they're pulling. Someone asks if any ladies might have any vaseline. (!!!!!!) And then for a brief moment, one of the sons moves to the side and for an instant, I get a glimpse inside the casket. Actually, what I see is one of the other sons holding up the arm, set, of course, with rigormortis, trying to figure out how to get this ring off the hand-which-is-as-colorless-as-you'd-expect-a-corpse's-hand-to-be.

At that point, we were LONG overdue to make our exit. And so we did. Our complexion slightly greener than when we first entered the church.

Friday, May 06, 2005

What's a new convert to do?

When I converted last year, I knew I wasn't attending the most orthodox parish, but neither was it exceptionally liberal. We had a tender-hearted priest, and a liberal female pastoral minister, the usual handholding during the Our Father, crystal chalices, several EMHCs, female alter servers...but overall the parish was average. At the beginning of that year, we were blessed to have our newly retired Bishop take up residence at our linked parish, and consequently offer Mass at our parish every other week.

Quite suddenly at the beginning of this year, we were told that our priest was being moved, and four weeks later he was gone. We had no priest in line for our parish, and lived without one for a few months. And then suddenly we have a new priest. A lot of upheaval for our parish, and for new converts, my family, my good friend and neighbor, and now her brother's family (6 kids, one more on the way). Conversion from protestantism can be hard enough in the best circumstances.

It seems that our "average" parish is plummeting south. In the couple weeks since our new priest has been here, he's endorsed condoms for Africa from the pulpit, wreaked havoc with the Eucharistic prayer and the Agnus Dei, and challenged Bishop Banks (our retired Bishop in residence) for correcting him. So much for hopes for an orthodox priest.

I've discovered a little gem. A tiny little parish about a block away from my inlaws house. Their priest has been there for 21 years, and he is a blessing. Homilies on the Sacraments, a true love for the Church, bells at the consecration, communion under one kind, only 2 EMHCs (men), mostly male altar servers, no handholding, opens every Mass with the Confiteor. I suppose we'll be moving to that parish, which is such a shame for our parish, but a blessing for my family. But what else can one do, if the priest already knows he's out of line and flaunts it?

My friend and her brother haven't yet decided what to do. He's about ready to declare war. I don't know what good that would do. All I can suggest is to write our current Bishop and see what happens, and/or leave. If these priests had no one to homilize to, they'd have no one to poison. Sad, sad, sad.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Email I rec'd today

Subject: Catholic Answers Forums - Our Busiest Month Ever!
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FORUM STATUS
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Catholic Answers Forums was just listed on the www.big-boards.com site as one of the largest discussion boards on the web! Thanks to all who helped put Catholic discussions in the spotlight.
And congrats to those who work behind the scenes making the forums such a pleasant experience for our members.
As April ends we now have over 22,000 members discussing 600,000 articles on 38,000 topics.
Among the most popular topics this past week are:
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FORUM ADDITIONS
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Momentous events have occurred in the life of the Church and Catholics during the past few weeks.
Stop in and catch up on the importance of:
Pope Benedict XVI
http://forums.catholic.com/forumdisplay.php?f=43
Pope John Paul II
http://forums.catholic.com/forumdisplay.php?f=40
The Conclave in Rome
http://forums.catholic.com/forumdisplay.php?f=41
Terri Schiavo
http://forums.catholic.com/forumdisplay.php?f=39

We have also added two forums for you:
Ecclessia Mundi (News of the Church in the World)
http://forums.catholic.com/forumdisplay.php?f=45
Culture of Life (Pro-life news)
http://forums.catholic.com/forumdisplay.php?f=42

And our existing forums have been jumping. Here's
the latest:
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ASK AN APOLOGIST - expert answers to your ??'s
http://forums.catholic.com/forumdisplay.php?f=4
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How can I find truly Catholic colleges for my kids?
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=52139
Who is the patron saint of Catholic Answers?
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=52614
Is marrying a cousin allowed by the Church?
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=52744
Why is baptism outside the Church OK but not marriage?
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=52616
Where do we send our tithe?
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=52664

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APOLOGETICS - defending the Faith
http://forums.catholic.com/forumdisplay.php?f=20
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Question from a Seeking Jew
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=47949
Mary, co-redeemer and co-mediator
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=52991
The Inspired Scriptures are All-Sufficient?
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=52757
WOMEN ONLY: Your "opinions" on Women Ordination
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=51738
What is "Relativism"?
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=52950

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NON-CATHOLIC RELIGIONS - compare & contrast
http://forums.catholic.com/forumdisplay.php?f=14
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Calvinism
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=50614
Poll: How are we saved?
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=30493
Pope John Paul II and Pope Shenouda III
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=52488
Mormonism...Christian or Cult?
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=49992
The Pope?
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=51149
In what order did each church appear?
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=51415

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SCRIPTURE - What does the Holy Bible really say?
http://forums.catholic.com/forumdisplay.php?f=30
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Catholic vs. Protestant John 3:16?
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=45634
Then James says, 'I rule, then...' Acts 15:7-21
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=52986
Alcohol drinking
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=44772
Jesus ate only 3 times, never bathed, and never...
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=43219
Petros/petra?
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=45207
Matt 16:18 and 2nd grade grammar!
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=44629
Mary
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=44972
They just can't be right, they're Catholics...
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=36544

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LITURGY & SACRAMENTS - the Do's & Don'ts
http://forums.catholic.com/forumdisplay.php?f=15
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Photographs from 2005 LA Religious Ed Conference
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=42903
Poll: Liturgical Changes and Benedict XVI
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=51435
Jeans...at Mass?
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=53122
Poll: Have you Ever Walked-Out of Mass?
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=52181
What was the traditional Latin Mass like?
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=51158
Pictures of the Tridentine Latin Mass/Churches
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=52442
"Our Father" Handholding/Refusal of Sign of Peace
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=52217

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MORAL THEOLOGY - sin; temptation; moral dilemmas
http://forums.catholic.com/forumdisplay.php?f=31
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Appropriate Punishment: Please read before voting
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=52652
Why Are Christians Obsessed With Homosexuality?
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=53571
Children of same-sex couples in Catholic schools?
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=51720
Should men have their ears pierced?
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=51742
Have you ever corrected any one during Mass?
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=52585
Is lust the only reason people contracept?
http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=5197


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Oh yeah, they don't have a clue how to run a message board...

Yes, we DO want to turn back the clock!

Our friend David Hopkins puts it more eloquently than I could.

The widow's mites

"And Jesus sitting over against the treasury, beheld how the people cast money into the treasury. And many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow: and she cast in two mites, which make a farthing. And calling his disciples together, he saith to them: Amen I say to you, this poor widow hath cast in more than all they who have cast into the treasury. For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want cast in all she had, even her whole living." (Mark xii.41-44)

The other day my wife and kids were walking downtown when they encountered a homeless lady. My wife felt sorry for her because she was begging for money but no one had put anything in her cup. So she gave her all the change that she had. When she started to walk away, the homeless lady called her back and gave each of the children a penny from what little my wife had given her.

Working downtown as I do, and having gone to college in the inner city, I've had a lot of encounters with the homeless that have left me feeling swindled. Too, our American culture (there's that phrase again) tends to look down upon people who don't appear to be doing anything with themselves (including, as the ladies here will no doubt attest, stay-at-home mothers -- but now I'm getting off-topic). What is the dividing line between being generous with the poor (in this case, the homeless) and enabling them? Is there any? Should we give without regard to such concerns? If I give money to a beggar, I may be helping him or I may be enabling him; but either way I am giving him an opportunity to grow in grace.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The Struggle

It's been a rough year for us. Perhaps no more, nor no less than any other year, but for some reason the physical struggles this year seems exceptionally intense: more demands on time, decreasing budget, facing probable infertility, confronting neurological issues in my son, but the worst is coming face to face with who I truly am. It shouldn't be surprising. In reflecting upon this, I decided to examine what the catechism had to say. I found very encouraging words.

1839 The moral virtues grow through education, deliberate acts, and perseverance in struggle. Divine grace purifies and elevates them.

409 ...The whole of man's history has been the story of dour combat with the powers of evil, stretching, so our Lord tells us, from the very dawn of history until the last day. Finding himself in the midst of the battlefield man has to struggle to do what is right, and it is at great cost to himself, and aided by God's grace, that he succeeds in achieving his own inner integrity.

1426 Conversion to Christ, the new birth of Baptism, the gift of the Holy Spirit and the Body and Blood of Christ received as food have made us "holy and without blemish," just as the Church herself, the Bride of Christ, is "holy and without blemish." Nevertheless the new life received in Christian initiation has not abolished the frailty and weakness of human nature, nor the inclination to sin that tradition calls concupiscence, which remains in teh baptized such that with the help of the grace of Christ they may prove themselves in the struggle of Christian life. This is the struggle of conversion directed toward holiness and eternal life to which the Lord never ceases to call us.

It is through God's Grace alone that I have clutched the virtues of Faith and Hope so strongly. I hope, likewise that I have increased in Charity as well, though for me that seems harder to measure. And that thought itself is how I believe I realized what this is all about. Life seems harder because I've made progress. Numerous little sins are becoming fewer in number, and the Holy Spirit is now causing me to re-examine myself and identify the sins that have taken deeper root, that for some reason I just haven't noticed yet...or prefer to ignore.

Every year at just about this time, we engage in a struggle against garden weeds. The dandelions are sprouting and now is the perfect time to start excising them before the roots grow too deep. For me, though, I tend to ignore them until I have a desire to plant that space with something more appealing. Then, that's when the struggle ensues. It's never enough to just pluck out the part of the weed that's visible above the surface. Everyone knows that they'll just come back. In order to really get them, you have to pull them from the root. Ever try to pull one of those gigantic dandelions all the way to the root? You have to glove your hands to protect them from the thorns; no these things won't give an inch. They fight you every step of the way, striking back so they'll be left alone to spread their kind. Eventually, as you tug, you realize you'll have to dig deeper, even disturb fertile soil around the weed so you can expose the root. This weeding takes a lot of work. I've even pulled so hard that force puts me down on my backside.

Well, that is now the sort of battle I'm beginning to engage. Christ has me where He wants me finally, in the bosom of His Church. And now we are beginning to attack the deeply rooted weeds. This isn't fun. It's painful! I'd rather not face these realities about myself. All my life I've been generally seen as "good", called "goody two shoes" more than once. My husband thinks it's humorous when I succumb to certain sins on occasion, because it seems so idiosyncratic, and makes him feel a little better that I'm human too. So, I suppose I've been well trained to bury my sins and put on a pleasant face. But, burying the sins does not please God. He will not be satisfied until the are uprooted entirely. And frankly, I'm not satisfied, either, because my whole purpose in life is to please God.

Thank goodness I'm not in this alone. I'd give up for despair. And there we find the reason for the virtue of Hope:
1821 ...Hope, O my soul, hope. You know neither the day nor the hour. Watch carefully, for everything passes quickly, even though your impatience makes doubtful what is certain, and turns a very short time into a long one. Dream that the more you struggle, the more you prove the love that you bear your God, and the more you will rejoice one day with your Beloved, in a happiness and rapture that can never end.

With Hope, I can also face this truth: 1707 ...Man is divided in himself. As a result, the whole life of men, both individual and social, shows itself to be a struggle, and a dramatic one, between good and evil, between light and darkness.

There's really no visible end in sight to the struggle. As one battle is one, another ensues. I suppose this is the answer to my prayers, that God will grant me to suffer in this life what I truly deserve in the next. Thank goodness I have Him to rely on.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Interview tomorrow

I almost forgot to tell you all. The job I have now is good. I am not job searching but the problem is I do not want to work forever. I want to eventually stay home with my baby..and have more babies. Dh is not able to get a good job at all...needs an education. He is an excellent teacher and would like to get his degree in Theology/Teaching so he can find a position at a school or parish. In order for him to do this I need a better paying job. This job I am at now is good but I will never make more money. If I could be a sales rep that would help out alot..but this is a male oriented company. Yesterday I got the news that the leads I produced made 220,000 dollars...that was just yesterday. I will get about 400 bucks out of that...which don't get me wrong ...thats still alot of money to me...but the rep who sold it...after the job is done will get around 20,000. :-) Must be nice.
Well, to make a long story short, my MIL is with a company that her boss and his brother-in-law started up. They have alot of people who have already invested money. The product is related to health care and seems really great. Tomorrow I am taking the lady to lunch who is in charge of sales/marketing. Not sure if it will turn into business...but she is willing to consider my for the position of their first sales rep.
Please pray that God gives me wisdom and that His will be done in this situation. They are starting people out really well...around 40,000....not sure what they are offering the sales reps...but we shall see. Anyway, just pray for me. I will be meeting with her at 12:30 pm central time.

Problem at Work

Well, I have a little problem and I am not sure what to do about. There is a 20 yr old female here that is constantly telling me how to do my job. Telling me what my boss allows and what he does not. Telling me I will never make it because I don't have the right type of education...etc. You get the picture. I see her as young and naive, still a child.
Well, on Friday she started up about how I could not do something...I tried to be nice...told her it was ok I had permission...and she kept on. And on and on and on...finally told her...It is ok, I know how to do my job. She tells me, in front of my 12 co-workers mind you, " You get an F****** attitude for nothing!" And then storms out. She Im's me...and continues the argument. I kept telling myself not to give in...but I finally did...much to my chagrin. I pretty much told her, you want an attitude I can give you an attitude. Dear Lord, when will I quit lowering myself to this childish behaviour.
Now for the problem. She has not spoken to me since. I am not mad at her...I never was...just got tired of the way she talked to me. So...I have not said anything to her. I have thought about apologizing...but then I think no....if I apologize she will think it is because I am sorry for what I said..and I am not...I don't need her telling me how to do my job. And then I thought about apologizing for getting angry...for which I am sorry and then just saying I did not appreciate the way she approached me in the situation. But if I do that...she will start arguing again. So, that is the dilemma...I don't know what to do about it. Just continue on not speaking to her since obviously she does not want to speak to me...or somehow apologize...I don't know what to do. Help me.

Ebay relents

Ebay finally agrees to place the Eucharist on the list of prohibited items.

As a result of this dialogue, we have concluded that sales of the Eucharist, and similar highly sacred items, are not appropriate on eBay. We have, therefore, broadened our policies and will remove those types of listings should they appear on the site in the future.

I haven't been able to confirm this on Ebay itself, though I've examined the list of prohibited items.

Edit: Seattle Catholic confirms the story.

Lunacy on the Web, Part 6

A site which proves that some people with photoshop have too much time on their hands:

http://www.secretlair.com/babieswithbeards/

Now, as a student midwife who has studied all sorts of unexpected and rare birth phenomena, I have never seen in any textbook any discussion of bearded babies. While it may be an extremely rare "complication", from reading this site you might come to the conclusion that there is a bearded baby on every block who has been forced to hide their "flaw" from the public at large.

But, as far as sites go, it's attractive and well put together.

Rainbow Sashers prepare to strike again...

Yep, here they come again. Latest wave of unrepentent sinners presenting themselves for Holy Communion hopefully not coming to a town near you.

Rainbow Sash Press Release

Here's a little excerpt...

We hope that our presence will also counter the lies that Pope Benedict XVI is promoting about our community. We are Catholic, and will raise our voices to speak to the truth of our lives from the pews. We will no longer be silent in the face of this injustice.


I hope that more bishops stand up and say that enough is enough and refuse these people Holy Communion.

I also hope and pray that these people see their errors and repent before it is too late for them.

The organic development of the Liturgy

Book review by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

"That is why, with respect to the Liturgy, [the Pope] has the task of a gardener, not that of a technician who builds new machines and throws the old ones on the junk-pile."

What I find interesting about this essay is its implicit criticism of a previous Pope, now one of Benedict XVI's predecessors.

A new day...

I removed two posts from earlier tonight where I gave into anger and frustration and posted a scanned letter from a former friend, comparing it with the treatment I've lately received, and then wrote a lengthy essay pondering on that friend's motives. I now see that there's no point in such tactics, since all it could possibly do is drive us even further apart. While from a cold, logical standpoint, I can make my case, when emotions are involved, as they are most certainly in this case, logic flies out the window.

I'll again call for an examination of all the evidence from both sides in this long dispute over a relatively insignificant (in the long run anyway) message board. If we are found wanting, then I am happy to quietly walk away and find greener pastures--this blog was meant to be such a pasture, by the way, but has devolved into a platform against the other side. If we are found in the right, as I expect we are, then I would sincerely like an apology, removal of the person in question, and, if it's at all possible, resumption of our relationship. We could do so much good, serving the Lord, reaching out to the world for the Church through the message board format. It is not about any one ego, or any one personality, or whether one of us is better than another at apologetics or has a superior mind for debate, it is about bringing people into the Faith. And this destructive war over the past few weeks, if anyone from outside is looking in, could only have hurt our cause. Christians fighting Christians doesn't make Christianity attractive. As our Lord said in John 17:20-23:

"I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me."

Monday, May 02, 2005

Why Gregorian Chant is the official music of the Mass

Gregorian Chant from Brazil

I know it's sentimental, but my favorite Mass setting is the Missa de angelis (Mass VIII). We had First Holy Communion at our chapel on Sunday and the children's choir chanted the Kyrie beautifully.

REAL Reality TV

Thanks to the Young Fogey at A Conservative Blog for Peace:

Reality TV in monastery changes five lives forever

Which Is It?

"We Don't Deserve Anything Good"

"The characters appearing on your screen were at some point generated by human fingers that were fearfully and wonderfully made by a marvelously working God who has made us in His image. Treating another human being in a contemptible way is an offense against God the Maker."

These two statements were both made by people who share the same ideology, the same theology. Both issue directly from the theology they espouse. One wonders if these adherents see the contradiction. How can the same being be at once fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God, and at the same time undeserving of anything good. Can you imagine telling your father who just gave you a gift that not only do you not deserve the gift, but that you deserve nothing good at all? Is this not the attitude of one who is clinically depressed?

After reading the first comment, my first reflection was on the parable of the prodigal son. We are that son. We have all been drowning in the mire of our sin, and remembered the goodness of our Heavenly Father, and so sought out his help. We have all realized that we didn't deserve forgiveness, yet hoped to be treated only like a servant. But, our Father has taught us the reality, that our actions can never quench His love for us. And more than that, the son accepted his father's welcome and took his place at his side because no matter what he had done, he was still the son.

To continue to assert that we deserve nothing good, is to slap the face of the savior who earned our redemption. It is to grasp false humility in the name of glorifying God. It is placing greater focus on the fall, than on the creation. It is ignoring that as Christians we are no longer that old man, but are a new creation. That fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God creation.

God has never gone so far as to say that we deserve nothing good. Existence is good. This is why we believe in Hell. Because, if we deserved nothing good, at the end of this life, those who are not saved would simply be annhilated.

What despair is Calvinism! Thanks be to God I am Catholic. I certainly have not deserved what I have been given, that is true, but I know through Christ's work that I will eventually deserve the prize that I have been given. Because He loves me.

If believing that man deserves nothing good is false humility, what then is proper humility? We know that Christ praised humility, for the humble will inherit the earth. It is wise that we should discover what this virtue is, so that we can cultivate this gift properly. The Catechism defines Humility as "the virtue by which a Christian acknowledges that God is the author of all good. Humility avoids inordinate ambition or pride, and provides the foundation for turning to God in prayer." Humility teaches us not to devalue ourselves, but to appreciate the gifts we have been given. Humility teaches us to place higher value on things of the next world than things of this world. A true humble spirit looks not for glory or honor or praise from his fellow man, but is concerned with preparing himself to receive those things in the next world. Humility is knowing that that is the purpose of the Holy Spirit being placed within each of us and allowing Him to work in us without obstruction.

This is a critical and important distinction, because otherwise, thinking so little of ourselves, we might also think so little of others. When we see someone fall on hard times, will we have compassion if we feel that they have only what they deserve? By understanding how God loves us and values us, we can in turn reflect His love and compassion upon our fellow man. And isn't THAT what being Christian is all about?

Iggy's Letter...

Well, hehe...turns out I was using someone elses username! VERY STRANGE INDEED! I am posting a letter here I posted on the DCF board..I thought I did quite well not to gossip...did not mention names...titled it Please Ban Me. Well, ok...I mentioned Siggys name.. once or twice.


Dearest Friends, I am asking for the administration to please ban me from this board. I have no desire to be a part of it any longer. I used to love this place...up till a couple of weeks ago. I was on here all day long...and I love the people here as well. It is because of the administration that I refuse to stay a moment longer. Maybe we can call this my "swan song." lol. ( As we all know Jimbo would say:-)

It is with a heavy heart I write this...and much sadness...but please...I cannot take the gossip and hateful words from some people anymore. No more shall I remain silent in the face of slander. No longer shall I remain silent in the obstinate rudeness of certain people. There have been many good people on this board who have been banned in the last couple of weeks. One of the most recent was Mamamidwife "Bekah" who did nothing but associate with those who had been banned. Siggy says she does not care who we associate with apart from this board...but it is obvious she cares greatly.

I have been a member here since last August. I have never ever caused any problems...nor have I ever ever tried to cause any problems. God forgive those here who have allowed such hate to take place.

To one of the admins...I forgive you for your hateful emails and for the gossip which took place in a little private room that was once called Cancun. Cancun used to be a place where only Catholics would go...and discuss happenings on the board etc...but most recently it has been used for gossip and such.

My heart is indeed broken....but I shall no longer be silent and allow the enemy to make this his territory. Please, for all of thos wishing to join the Faith....remain strong in your search for Truth and let no one dissuade you...let no one stop you in your fight for the Prize! May God guide and bless each one of you. And to my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Beware, for the enemy is indeed powerful. Be on the constant look out for his wiles...he is indeed deceitful...be strong in our Lord Jesus Christ and make Him the central part of your life...may He strengthen you each day of your life and guide you in all His ways. Sincerely in Christ, st_ignatius110 at hotmail dot com - Jeni

Appeasement

There is an epidemic of disappearing guts these days. Folks with this disease used to be called "gutless wonders," but it isn't any wonder at all. No one wants to make anyone else angry; everyone wants to sit on the fence, regardless of how sharp those fenceposts are. On the national political scene, this phenomenon appears in people who are "personally opposed to abortion" yet believe it should remain legal. It all comes back to the sister heresies of relativism and individualism: there is no "right for you but not right for me" and you do not exist in a vacuum; there is right, and there is wrong, and you exist in a community.

I say those who either sit idly by and do nothing about a situation, or those who continue associating with someone or something they know to be wrong because "it doesn't affect me personally", need to think long and hard about why they are doing that. There is indeed guilt by association, regardless of how you associate. It's all well and good to "work from the inside," if you make it clear that you are opposed to an organization's policies, publicly. I haven't seen this done very often, because to oppose something publicly and fiercely from within entails danger, and the very folks who need to do that are the very "gutless wonders" who need guts!

Stop and think: why do we associate with groups we disagree with, and say nothing about it? Is it because we have let seep into our very souls the "dictatorship of relativism" that Pope Benedict XVI so carefully warned us against? I say speak up, or get out.

Matthew 7:21-23: "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'

What is Confession?

Catholics are often accused by non-Catholics that our Sacrament of Reconciliation (or penance/confession) is free license to sin, because we know we will be forgiven through the Sacrament. Of course, with some denominations, this is a pot & kettle argument, but for the sake of this post, we will concern ourselves only with the Catholic answer to this argument. The best way to do this is to learn about what the Sacrament is and what it is not.

What Reconciliation Is

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this at length and in depth. For the sake of brevity, I will quote portions, but to reference the full context, these quotes are found in Part Two, Chapter Two, between paragraphs 1420 and 1498.

The forgiveness of the Sacrament is imparted only through God. "Only God forgives sins." The requirement for sacramental confession was made by God through Christ's granting of the power of binding and loosing and explicitly at his first visit to the Apostles after his resurrection in John 20.

"Christ instituted the sacrament of Penance for all sinful members of his Church: above all for those who, since Baptism, have fallen into grave sin, and have thus lost their baptismal grace and wounded ecclesial communion." The Sacrament repairs the injured relationship between the individual and God, as well as repairing the relationship between the individual and the Church. Sin, especially serious sin which is matter for mortal sin, wounds our relationship with God and with the world, and so repentance to God alone is insufficient.

"Penance requires ... the sinner to endure all things willingly, be contrite of heart, confess with the lips, and practice complete humility and fruitful satisfaction." An individual whose confession is made without meeting these requirements has not completed the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The culpability of the individual determines whether an insufficient participation in the Sacrament incurs an additional penalty of mortal sin.

"Among the penitent's acts contrition occupies first place. Contrition is 'sorrow of the soul and detestation for the sin committed, together with the resolution not to sin again." "Confession to a priest is an essential part of the sacrament of Penance..." "The penance the confessor imposes must take into account the penitent's personal situation and must seek his spiritual good." These are the three 'stages' of the Sacrament: contrition, confession, penance. However are these steps alone all that is necessary when we have sinned? The catechism also adresses this question: "Many sins wrong our neighbor. one must do what is possible in order to repair the harm (e.g., return stolen goods, restore the reputation of someone slandered, pay compensation for injuries). Simple justice requires as much. But sin also injures and weakens the sinner himself, as well as his relationships with God and neighbor. Absolution takes away sin, but it does not remedy all the disorders sin has caused." An astute confessor will require that justice be served along with the usual penance. Many priests these days are lax about the penance issued, especially compared with the historical tradition of penances which would last years. Sincere contrition will burden the penitents heart to seek justice for their actions, with or without the instruction of the minister.

The proper minister of the Sacrament is the Bishop, and by collaboration the priest. "Since Christ entrusted to his apostles the ministry of reconciliation, bishops who are their successors, and priests, the bishops' collaborators, continue to exercise this ministry."

"The forgiveness of sin and restoration of communion with God entail the remission of the eternal punishment of sin, but temporal punishment of sin remains. While patiently bearing sufferings and trials of all kinds and, when the day comes, serenely facing death, the Christian must strive to accept this temporal punishment of sin as a grace." The purpose of the Sacrament of Reconciliation is solely the forgiveness of sins.

What Reconciliation Is Not

By defining what the Sacrament is, we have a clear view of what it is not. It is not a license to sin, because without contrition the sacrament is ineffective. It is not a remedy for the temporal consequences of sin. One who has been forgiven must still pay the consequences of their actions here on earth. Part of those consequences may be included in penance, but that does not bind earthly authority to limit consequences to that penance. For instance, if one stole an item and confessed it, they would still be guilty of the crime of theft in the states eyes and issued the just punishment of that sin. Furthermore, as Christians, we are required to accept the just punishment of our sins without complaint, and receive added grace when we do so. Such is the witness of the Christian, and can look to the patronage of the good St. Dismas, who was relieved of the eternal penalty of his sins by Christ on the cross, but continued to accept the just earthly punishment of those sins.

A corollary misconception among non-Catholic Christians is that confession to any other Christian is acceptable. The Church teaches that only the proper ordinaries of the Sacrament, the bishop and with him, the priest, can grant absolution of sin. This is evident through Christ's bestowal of the power to forgive or retain sins. Only the Apostles were granted that power. All other Christians are instructed to forgive as we wish to be forgiven. To ask another person to take on the role of a priest without the proper ordination, is to ask them to commit sacrilege and disobedience to Christ. So, while we should always seek the forgiveness of those we have injured, it cannot take the place of the proper use of the Sacrament.

Lunacy on the Web, Episode V (aka: The Impious Strikes Back)

OK, I promise, this is the last one for the day lest we never return to serious stuff...

The Curt Jester has outdone himself...

Which title will you select for your free gift?

UPDATE: (from Amy Welborn) We have a dissenter to the book club. This guy is yet another example of how far removed from the original definition of "charity" our English word "love" has become. If it takes a little satire to make the point that these dissenters are dangerous, then that is being "loving" in the sense of showing our brethren that they are mistaken--since reasoned argument has become impossible due to the "dictatorship of relativism" to which these folks so happily subject themselves.

Lunacy on the Web, Episode IV (aka: NOT a New Hope)

Since we are in dire need of humor this morning, I think it's time to unleash the ultimate lunacy that I've been holding in my back pocket for times like these...

The Time Cube.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Lunacy on the Web, Episode III

So now you know. It's all true.

(link courtesy of our friend the Cadet)

Why is the Catholic internet so weird?

Here's a scenario -

You are a potential convert to the faith, having done some investiagtion into history or theology, and you look up a Catholic parish in the phone book to enquire about becoming Catholic. You go to the place and walk in the fornt door, and you see a man sitting at a desk behind the imposing title "Parish Administrator".

"How do I join the Catholic Church?" you ask him.

"I have no idea." is his reply.

"Well, should I even bother?" you further query.

"I don't see why, I'm not Catholic and I'm perfectly happy." is his answer.

Would your Bishop tolerate this situation in a parish in his diocese? Should he? How does it make you feel? Most regular Catholics, faced with this scenario, presume that our poor hypothetical convert must have stumbled into St. Joan or perhaps another of the most liberal wacko parishes in the world.

However, if you troll around the internet a while, you'll find a situation analgous to this going on at major Catholic websites. The website of a fairly-well-known conservative Catholic convert/apologist had, until recently, a Protestant administrator. I ask - how can a Catholic website supposedly focused on conversion hand the keys to the front door over to an obstinate heretic?

I think, although I am not sure, that the answer is this: Just like parishes will often hire people without any discernable Catholic faith to key positions to avoid hiring someone with a real Catholic agenda likely to cause problems, so these website owners place people without Catholic agendas in charge of the websites to avoid trouble.

Any vigorously Catholic person who takes a real interest in the faith will likely develop a definite agenda, be it liberal, conservative, or traditionalist. A Catholic website owner unable or unwilling to choose between these philosophies is in a quandry - I'm sure they simply desire that their website be "genuinely Catholic" - but the outcome gives lie to this bit of naivete.

Just like in the real world, it's almost impossible to ignore the fractures in Catholic America on the internet. The desire of Catholic webmasters to have non-ideological websites and message boards in this environment is simply an impossible dream. People of conviction inevitably take sides. As Chesterton said, "the purpose of opening one's mind is to close it again on something solid". To demand that the people who work in either the real or virtual Church avoid having a solid ideology is to condemn us all to be led by the least capable, the people who really believe in nothing. And, to again take a famous quote, "If you don't believe in something, you'll believe anything."