Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Some Thanksgiving pics (for those who care)

For those who are interested in me as me (as in, my life outside of the blog), here are some Thanksgiving pics for y'all to enjoy. I had a great holiday, and I hope the rest of you did, too!

From left: Jack(6), Ryan(7), Courtney (8), me, and my sister Melanie (16) hang out in my cousin Molly's room. I've never been to my aunt's new house so I was getting a very enthusiastic tour from Ryan and Courtney (Jack, Courtney and Molly live there). Suffice to say, between the library (oh heaven) and the movie room (!!), I was pretty content to stay there forever. **ages are my best guess!

From top: Ryan, me, and Paige (4) in the library. I love little kids' questions about my surgery and etc. the best--they are so honest and direct. Paige had a lot of them!

My siblings and I in the kitchen before the meal.

-- Jack, Kelly (15/16, Ryan's sister), Molly (11 on Sunday!--Courtney and Jack's older sister), Courtney and Paige hang out after dinner in the dining room. The meal consisted of tutkey, lasagne, duck, three types of cranberries, multiple stuffings, three kinds of potatoes, myriad deserts, and cake for my Aunt Mary's birthday. mmmmm.....

More on the Vat Doc

From Peter Robinson in the Corner (; if you don't read the Corner, you really should--good conservative insight with a good dose of Catholicism thrown in. (Even some Catholicism/Anglicanism debates every so often!)

Rev. Joseph Fessio studied theology under Joseph Ratzinger, now known to the world as Benedict XVI. Father Fessio had this to say on the NewsHour:
Someone who accepts the Church's teaching that homosexuality is an affective disorder but realizes it's a disorder he has and suffers under that and accepts it as his cross and unites himself to Christ crucified can be a holy, devout and good priest.

But someone who promotes the gay lifestyle, who is claiming that homosexuality is a gift, is ipso facto dissenting from Church teaching. And we may call him a good priest; he may be compassionate; he may be helping the poor, whatever....But that does mean he's teaching what the Church expects him to teach. (emphasis mine--E)

A priest, after all, is acting in the name of Christ and in the name of the Church. And if a priest is not going to accept the fundamental teachings of the Church, which includes the hard saying that homosexuality is an objective disorder, then he's a dissenter; he's doing a disservice to the Church.

I know some of y'all (esp. the non-Catholics that I know read this) are probably sick of all this document talk, but I'm sure it's going to continue. I'll try to keep some new things up, though. I'm about done with The Interior Castle and I should have a review up tomorrow or Friday. We'll see. But between the Vat Doc and the abortion issue, this has been kind of a two-topic circus lately. I'll try to keep new things in the loop, though.

Abortion and SCOTUS: round....oh, who knows....

SCOTUS has taken up another abortion case to follow in the lines of Casey, Roe, Griswold, and the others. This time it revolves around parental consent/notification laws in New Hampshire, which state that parents of a minor must be notified that their daughter is planning on having an abortion before it actually occurs. NARAL and all the other usual suspects are screaming bloody murder (OK, that's a bad use of phrase there), while conservatives are arguing that this is just good sense. Some evidence for the conservative case:

--If you are a minor child, you need parental consent to do just about anything to your body, from getting a tattoo to having major surgery in a hospital. Your body isn't really your body until you're 18 and a legal adult. That's just the way it is. When I was a senior in high school, we had to get our parents to sign a permission form if we were under 18 so we could watch One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest . Fortunately, most of us were over 18 and could just sign it ourselves. But if we need parent approval to watch an R-rated film in school, or get aspirin from the school nurse, doesn't it just make sense that for a medical procedure as heavy as an abortion (where you're given Versed, a highly potent sedative that erases your memory--I've had it before, and it's nice, but it's heavy) the parents should at least be told ?

--The opponents argue that if it's a medical emergency then there's not enough time to tell. Excuse me, but if it's an emergency, then parents especially deserve to know. Who else knows their child's medical history as well, or can take care of their daughter after the procedure?

Good Morning America had a father on today whose daughter died after a back-alley abortion 17 years ago--she had one because she didn't want to tell her parents she was pregnant. That's tragic, but that doesn't mean that parents shouldn't know. The New Hampshire law isn't even as strict as other states that not just require knowledge but consent before the abortion is carried out.

The law is good and makes sense. We're not denying anyone's "right" (no matter how tenuous it may be....sigh). We're just making sure her parents are aware of what she's going to do. After all, they have to sign off on every other medical procedure. They should at least know about this one.

The Vatican Doc revealed

I know I've written about this a few times on this site, but it was interesting to get "official" reaction today. Most of them ran the usual gantlet--oh, this is bad for the Church, the Church is obsessed with sex (jiminy Christmas, that's an old one), bishops either firmly supporting it or hemming and hawing about how it needs to be "interpreted". Yada Yada Yada.

My favorite from today? U.S.A. Today ran an editorial that says "Church document not enlightened" (there we go again! We're just a bunch of simpletons sitting in the woods and having babies), which is "choosing to foster fear and unrest" among the priests and the faithful. The interesting thing is that the author says right out that she is a product of all-the-way-up Catholic school: grade and high school and college. And yes she's the former GLAAD executive director....hmm. Makes you wonder how her parents feel about spending all that money having her educated in Catholic doctrine and practice. Doesn't seem like much of it stuck. Parents: even if you send your child to Catholic school, make sure that you're teaching them the right stuff at home, too, please. God only knows what some of these schools get away with teaching!

Like I've said before, this document is, to me, essentially moot. I mean, you're required to be celibate, no matter what your personal "tendencies". That's just the way it is. I don't care if you're gay, if you're living celibately and chastely as the Church requires, that's fine with me. If, however, you're not, or you feel that gays get a bad rap in the Church and are out to crusade against Church policy, then that's not OK with me, and apparently it's not OK with the Vatican. Like one Cardinal said:

Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, gets to the common sense of it in a Vatican Radio interview, relayed by the Washington Post this morning: "For the church, denying ordination to gay men is no more discriminatory than 'if a person who suffers from vertigo is not admitted to a school for astronauts,' the cardinal said." If you don't accept the Church's teachings on sexuality, how would it make sense for you to be a priest? How would it make sense for the Church to have you serving as a priest? Why would you even want to?" (hat tip: The Corner

That's sort of the way I feel. I mean, if you're a gay man (practicing, I suppose would be the word, or active) then why would you want to give it up? I guess you would feel called to be a priest, but some calls can be mistaken, or what not. It seems to me that if you're living in a way contrary to Church teachings, or you believe something contrary to Church teachings, then perhaps representing that Church as a priest and acting in the personage of Jesus on the altar is perhaps not the best career choice for you.

There will be more on this, I'm sure, but that's all I have for now. Feel free to post your own thoughts!

from the "What would we do without Journalists?" File

Headline seen today on

"regular pot use damages teen brains"

Wow, you think? And I thought that it just gave them a temporary high....

(OK, so this wasn't religious in nature, but I thought it was funny)

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

It's a Christmas Tree!!!

The nation's Capital has recovered some sanity today, renaming the "Holiday" tree the Nation's "Christmas tree". In the wake of the Boston "Holiday tree" debacle, this is a good thing. At least somewhere people are willing to recognize that it's Christmas! It's not a Jewish tradition, or a Muslim tradition, or a Buddhist tradition. It's a German Christian tradition, popularize when Queen Victoria's husband Prince Albert (German-born) brought the tradition over from Germany when he married the young Queen. It quickly spread throughout Britian and America, especially with the tide of German immigrants that came here in the 19th and 20th centuries. It's a Christmas Tree--"O Tannenbaum" does not translate to "O Holiday Tree" (at least as far as I know--My German's not all that functional). I mean, a menorah is not a "holiday candlelabra" or something equally horrific. It's a menorah. Clearly Jewish. Clearly symbolic of something in their faith. Not that a Christmas tree is really symbolic of anything specific in Christianity, but it's still a Christian tradition. Either buy into it, or don't have one. Thank you. :)

UPDATE: The city of Boston has since renamed their tree a "Christmas tree", after a loud reaction from the city (and the tree supplier) to their attempt to name it a "holiday tree". Good job, Boston.

The Catholic Contradiction

I was reading in some old newspaper articles today (part of my job is reading old paper clippings and filing them, so I spend a lot of time with the newsprint) that Democrats in my state are getting together to form the "Ohio Democratic Catholic Conference" to focus on "social justice" issues in politics. This is just more code for "we're going to try to distract Catholic voters in Ohio by telling them that abortion and gay marriage aren't the only 'Catholic' issues and we should focus instead on poverty, hunger, and the environment!"

( Exhales very, very loudly. ) OK. Let's go back to some basics, here. First of all, to be Catholic you can encompass (and probably should) all of the beliefs listed above. Here's something that people need to pick up on: Catholicism is not a buffet. Repeat that five times. You cannot go through the Catechism like a menu and say, "well I'm believing the part about the death penalty, but I'm rejecting the whole abortion thing 'cause you know, that's just too much for me. Can't stomach it." Or, "I only believe the 'progressive' tenets of Church doctrine, so I'm against the ban on gay priests but I think women should be ordained." It doesn't work like that. You have to buy the whole package, part and parcel, the kit and caboodle. Not just the kit. Or the parcel. Get it?

The problem the Dems have with trying to play up the "Catholic" part (and the problem Liberal Catholics--a term that makes me cringe--have too) is that they forget the big guns of doctrine to focus on the smaller points. Now I'm not saying that poverty is small or that we shouldn't worry about homelessness or things like that. We are called to change those things as Christians and to be good stewards of what we have. Abortion is a BIG issue. It's a defining issue. It's one where the Church says here is right and here is wrong and you better believe the right or you're in trouble. Cardinal Arinze has said that denying communion to politicians who support abortion is essentially a no-brainer (his actual response on Catholic Exchange yesterday was that this is something you could ask a child--why ask a cardinal?). This is a BIG issue that you sort of have to go with if you're going to call yourself Catholic. It's like not using contraception. In the words of Tea Leoni in Spanglish , "Get on board, pal!"

The article says that this will allow a place for "pro-life Democrats" in the party, but I'm skeptical. The ONE THING holding the National Democratic Party together is the abortion lobby. To go against NARAL and their ilk is akin to political suicide in the Democratic party, unless it's a smoke-screen for voters just to get someone elected (which in most cases it probably is--yes I'm cynical). I had a friend in college who was a pro-life Democrat, and I just couldn't understand how he could support politicians whose policies he was morally opposed to. I just couldn't do it. I won't vote for a pro-choice Republican! That's my big issue.

For this to work, the Democrats need to realize that they need to be "on board" on the big issues and the other issues. They've got to be pro-life in the womb before they can be pro-life on the street and lobby for better health care and to change hunger and homelessness policy. Democrats often say that Republicans don't care about the babies once they're born. But you've got to allow them to be born before you can help anyone.

"I Am Destroying Life" says an abortionist (yes, he really calls himself that) in today's LA Times.(,1,2971330.story?coll=la-headlines-nation, if you want to read it yourself) There's really just no comment for people like this, or women like this, who think more about tax policy when they vote than abortion. But here are some choice parts:

There's a reference in the article about a nurse at the clinic:

For the few women who arrive ambivalent or beset by guilt, Harrison's nurse has posted statistics on the exam-room mirror: One out of every four pregnant women in the U.S. chooses abortion. A third of all women in this country will have at least one abortion by the time they're 45. (emphasis mine)

"You think there's room in hell for all those women?" the nurse will ask.

OK, not that we as Catholics believe that if you have an abortion you are automatically going to Hell. You are only going to Hell if you have an abortion if you refuse to confess your sin. If you go through the rest of your life thinking you did the right thing and you have no remorse for it, then don't be surprised if God is less than happy with you upon Judgement Day. But I'm not in a position to tell you that you're automatically going to Hell. That's not my call. But it's a lot more likely. And I get a ironic chuckle at the idea that Hell has a limit on how many people it can hold.

From the women themselves:

--A high school volleyball player says she doesn't want to give up her body for nine months. "I realize just from the first three months how it changes everything," she says.

--Kim, a single mother of three, says she couldn't bear to give away a child and have to wonder every day if he were loved. Ending the pregnancy seemed easier, she says — as long as she doesn't let herself think about "what could have been." Funny how she never considers "what could have been" for her child could have been a loving home with great parents who loved that child.

--The 17-year-old in for a consultation this morning assures the nurse that she does not consider the embryo inside her a baby.

"Not until it's developed," she says. "That would be about three months?"

"It's completely formed about nine weeks," the nurse tells her. "Yours is more like a chicken yolk."

The girl, who is five weeks pregnant, looks relieved. "Then no," she says, "it's not a baby." Her mother sits in the corner wiping her tears. This just shows how far we as a pro-life movement have to go in this country. We must begin to convince people that even at the "chicken yolk" stage, it is still a child with all the components of human life that the mother has. This is a girl who's aborting her baby. There must be a way to reach her before she makes this decision, and we have to find it.

--Amanda, a 20-year-old administrative assistant, says it's not the obstacles that surprise her — it's how normal and unashamed she feels as she prepares to end her first pregnancy.

"It's an everyday occurrence," she says as she waits for her 2:30 p.m. abortion. "It's not like this is a rare thing."She regrets having to pay $750 for the abortion, but Amanda says she does not doubt her decision. "It's not like it's illegal. It's not like I'm doing anything wrong," she says. I love it when people equate legality with morality. Say what you want about how abortions still occurred pre-Roe, but people like this might have been (and probably were!) deterred because it was illegal. Illegality has the tint of immorality with it, and that's a good thing to deter crime.

"I've been praying a lot and that's been a real source of strength for me. I really believe God has a plan for us all. I have a choice, and that's part of my plan." Yeah, and God had a plan for that baby, too. Too bad we won't get to see it. I wonder what religion it is that teaches the idea that killing your babies is part of God's plan for you? I am reminded of Jesus speaking to the women in Jerusalem: "Weep not for me, but weep for yourself and for your children. For the time is coming when men will say, 'blessed is the womb that never bore and the breast that never nursed.'" I think we're there.

-- When she became pregnant this fall, Sarah, who works in real estate, was in the midst of planning her wedding. "I don't think my dress would have fit with a baby in there," she says. Well then, by all means!

--The last patient of the day, a 32-year-old college student named Stephanie, has had four abortions in the last 12 years. She keeps forgetting to take her birth control pills. Abortion "is a bummer," she says, "but no big stress." Yes, well, I imagine once you've done anything four times, it becomes "no big stress". Except for the baby.

Lest you think I'm being too hard on these women--OK, maybe I am,on the more blase among them--but I just find it incredible their thought processes. I know that some of them--maybe even most of them--will regret what they did. If someone came to me and said they had an abortion and it was tearing them up inside, I wouldn't resort to haranging them on why it serves them right because they did an awful thing, etc. etc. I'd listen as best I can and try to help her as best I can. But we as a pro-life movement must do more to stop abortion by changing the debate, by making it more personal, by helping women to see other options. We must convince them that while it may not be illegal, it is still wrong and they can do better for their children. We as a nation must do better for them.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!!

I would like to wish all of you a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving! Be sure to enjoy the family, food, and football tomorrow, and remember to Thank God for all the goodness He's blessed us with! I will be in Pittsburgh celebrating with my family, and as such, there won't be any new posts until Sat. night/ Sunday. But never fear--I plan on reading some more books to review, and I'll be working on material while I'm gone, so there will be new things for you to read when I return. In the meantime, scrounge around the archieves, read some of the books, or go see Harry Potter (very good--review coming soon!).

A Thanksgiving Prayer:

O Jesus, eternal God, I thank You for Your countless graces and blessings. Let every beat of my heart be a new hymn of Thanksgiving to You, O God. Let every drop of my blood circulate for You, Lord. My soul is one hymn in adoration of Your mercy. I love You, God, for Yourself alone.

--from The Divine Mercy Devotional booklet

Bookshelf: The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis

A book probably more appropriate for Valentine's Day than Thanksgiving (at least in terms of reviewing date), C.S. Lewis' The Four Loves examines four aspects of love in our lifes: Affection, Friendship, Eros (love between man and woman), and Charity (the love of God). It is a tremendous accomplishment that easily ranks among my favorite works of Lewis (and I"ve read most of his stuff). With his trademark wit and bell-like clarity of writing, Lewis takes us through these four ancient categories, spending the most time on friendship, showing us the trademarks of each type and the benefits and dangers of each. All sorts of love, from the love of animals to marital relations to best friends, and finally the love of God, are covered in depth and make for wonderful reading. Anyone who has ever felt affection for anything will enjoy this book.

I know this is a much shorter review than normal, but this is such a good book that to go any farther I'd just be repeating myself. :) So I'll leave it at this. It would make great reading for teens on up. A note: The section on friendship is a bit, shall we say, 'dated' by the times--it talks about how men and women cannot really have good friendships because usually the man is more educated than the woman so they cannot share a common bond. Since I have a close-knit group of friends that are almost entirely male (with about 3 exceptions), I found this a wee bit outdated, especially in the age of co-ed college and women in the workforce. But other than that, it is still quite timely.

A piece of the text, from "Friendship":

Especially when the whole group is togetgher, each bringing out all that is best, wisest, or funniest in all the others. Those
are the golden sessions; when four or five of us after a hard day's walking have come to our inn; when our slippers are on,
our feet spread out towards the blaze and our drinks at our elbows; when the whole world, and something beyond the
world, opens itself to our minds as we talk; and no one has any claim or any responsibility for another, but all are
freemen and equals as if we had first met an hour ago, while at the same time an Affection mellowed by the years enfolds
us. Life--natural life--has no better gift to give. Who could have deserved it?

Logic at the Times

Miracles do happen, and on the eve before Thanksgiving, I'm going to be grateful for them. :) Today's NY Times (long regarded by conservatives such as moi as the anathema of our existence) has an article discussing whether or not a world free of genetic disease would be a good thing; if we're aborting all these kids, what does that mean for the ones already born, and what about late-onset genetic problems, such as deafness or Huntington's Disease? What about genetic diseases that don't impair cognitive function? Etc.

I was thrilled to read this on several levels. As we know, I'm a member of this community, and the idea that women would intentionally abort folks like me because we're "too much trouble" or something along those lines makes me shudder. Sounds a little like Nazi science to me, killing people because they're inconvenient. Brrr. The article mentioned a study that says 16% of women are more likely to have an abortion if the genetic problem doesn't affect the cognitive function of the child, which CF doesn't, but that still leaves a lot of kids in the cold, especially those with Down Syndrome, etc.

My favorite part of the article is this bit:

Lisa Hedley, whose 10-year-old daughter has dwarfism, said the condition is usually not detected prenatally. It is so rare that it has traditionally not been considered worth the expense of the genetic test. Soon, though, pregnant women may be offered a gene-chip technology that can perform hundreds of tests at once for a few hundred dollars.

"It's so complicated," said Ms. Hedley, president of the Children of Difference Foundation. "Would I choose to have my child have a disability? Oh my goodness, no. It's difficult for her. It's difficult for everyone. But difference is what makes the world go round."

Amen, Ms. Hedley. A lot of these kids can live normal lives, go to school, have friends, love, learn, go to college, etc. We just need help along the way, in the forms of therapies and other mechanisms. I never wanted to feel like a victim, and when people treated me like one it made me mad! Only by being in the world and with people do people learn to accept others that aren't like them. Not that I loved being a first-person teacher on CF for most of the people I know, but it's better for them and it's better for me, because they can explain it to other people so that more people don't carry around the wrong impression.

Also, genetic disease has a component of mutation involved; I'm pretty sure that's what happened in my case. As much as we would like to be able to, we can't control the human genome entirely. It's a living thing that creates what it will. Spontaneous mutations will always happen. So no matter how much we try to manipulate it, we're really fighting a losing battle. So isn't it better to spend research money on treatments and cures as opposed to tests to find out if the babies have certain diseases? If we can cure/treat these conditions better, then the changes for a normal life, already pretty fair for a lot of cases, can go even higher, which will encourage parents to have the children. Everyone wins.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Practicing what you teach?...

Apparently not in some places. From

--The New York Civil Liberties Union has filed a federal discrimination complaint against a Catholic school, charging that it unjustly fired an unmarried teacher for being pregnant.

"I don't understand how a religion that prides itself on forgiving and on valuing life could terminate me because I'm pregnant and choosing to have this baby," Michelle McCusker said Monday at a news conference to announce the suit.

The 26-year-old preschool teacher was fired last month from St. Rose of Lima in Queens, according to published reports. (Watch what was in her termination letter -- 1:36)

The Diocese of Brooklyn also was named in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint.

"This is a difficult situation for every person involved, but the school had no choice but to follow the principles contained in the teachers' personnel handbook," diocese spokesman Frank DeRosa said in a news release.

The handbook says that each teacher must "convey the teachings of the Catholic faith by his or her words and actions."

Lawyers at the NYCLU, which filed the suit on McCusker's behalf, argued that administrators enforced the policy in a way that disproportionately affects women.

"The school used her pregnancy as a marker," attorney Cassandra Stubbs said. "How do they determine if male employees engage in premarital sex?"--

Oh, all this brouhaha over something simple. She doesn't understand how she got fired? I could tell her. See, you teach in a Catholic school, and the handbook for your job says that you are to follow Catholic teachings and set a good exmple for your students. And you're not doing that if you're getting pregnant out of wedlock with no "wed" in the future. That's not Church policy. So you probably shouldn't be working in a Catholic school if you're not too keen on following what the Church teaches. You knew what you were getting into when you took the job and (presumably) read the handbook. Kudos to the Diocese and the school for having the courage to do the right thing. The NYCLU is in on this, of course, so we'll have to see how it turns out in court, but for now I'm happy that somewhere in this country bishops and principals are still standing up for what the Church believes in.

And as for the male employees--sure, premarital sex is against Church doctrine. But you can't really (well, OK, I guess you could) pass around a survey every day asking the teachers if they've engaged in fornication. And how would you know they weren't lying? Pregnancy, on the other hand, is pretty unmistakable. Is it fair to women? Probably not. But that's the way the cookie crumbles, kids. Lesson? Don't have pre-marital sex and teach at a Catholic school. Not a good idea.

That "uncool" Vatican document...

If you were near a major media outlet today, particularly a newspaper, you probably tumbled upon an article reviewing the new Vatican Document about gays in the priesthood. I've talked about it earlier on this site (...go to the home page and read "and the winner is...orthodoxy!" for more), so I won't burden you with more of the same, but I just have to get this off my chest--

since when did the Catholic Church in the West allow practicing *anythings* in the priesthood?? You must be celibate--that's the way it is, heterosexual, homosexual, whatever. It's a remarkably fair policy. If you want to be a priest, you can't get married, you can't have "sexual relations" as a priest, (and you should'nt've had them before! Ahem!) that's just it. This is not new. And yet the press is acting like we've just said that you can't be a priest if you have brown hair! Come on! Not that I expect parity fromn the press (Lord knows it won't happen) but I would like a wee bit of fairness. Just a little. A tad. The document is expected to be released next week on the 29th, so I'm sure there will be more on this....sigh.

Bookshelf: The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis

I just finished Thomas a Kempis' landmark work, "The Imitation of Christ", which is often called the world's best-selling book, second only to the Bible. Given that it was published in 1418, that's not too surprising, and the book is clearly a product of its age, although it does remain contemporary for today's Catholic (and Christian...but they may have to skip the parts on devotion to the Eucharist).

The work itself is a series of short chapters divided into four sections: 1. Spiritual Admonitions; 2. Admonitions pertaining to inward things; 3. Internal Consolation; and 4. A Devout Exhortation to the Holy Communion. When I say these chapters are short, I mean it. They're more like meditations, most only a page or two long, that make it perfect for daily reading. It can be difficult to read many chapters in one sitting, because the themes tend to run together or become repetitive, so I would recommend reading it daily, or choosing a day of the week and reading one or two and then spending 15-20 meditating on what you've read. All of his entries are chock-full of theological insight and inquiry, so they take some digesting in order to get the full effect.

The book focuses on living only for God and renouncing things of this world as much as possible, even other human relationships, making sure that every relationship you have and everything you do only brings you closer to God and Heaven. It's a bit sparse for our modern minds to comprehend, and can seem somewhat tough to follow--it's a very asture life he's advocating here. It's also a life of great self-sacrifice and self-denial, training yourself to only want Jesus and to follow His ways by becoming purer in prayer, life, thoughts, and practice, which involves sort of stripping yourself of the world and worldy cares and vices. Like I said, it can seem a little medieval (which is fitting, given when it was written), but don't let that stop you from reading it. It still contains great pieces of religious advice and thoughts on prayer and Eucharistic devotion.

Some passages are written in the voice of Jesus ("the Beloved") and some are written in the voice of A Kempis inquiring after Jesus ("the follower of the Beloved" or something like that...depends on the translation). Those dialogues, more toward the end of the book, are interesting and insightful, as is the book on Eucharistic devotion.

I just mentioned translation--I have one from 1900 (Barnes and Noble Library of Essential Reading $7.95) that is loaded with thees and thous and wiltnots and stuff like that. If you, like me, are familiar and fond of Shakespeare and high English dialect and translation, then this is OK for you. If you like a clearer, more modern translation, this isn't. I'm sure your local library, bookstore, or the omnipresent will be able to help you track down a more modern version of the text.

This would make good reading for older teens (that are spiritually and intellectually mature) and adults. Parts of it can be hard sledding, so don't give up if he loses you at some points. I found it helpful to keep a pencil handy and mark the sections that were particularly helpful or beautiful to me, in order to keep me focused and on-track. This would also be a useful trick in guiding meditations.

I would also recommend A Kempis' "The Passion of Christ, According to the Four Evangelists." It is also written in a meditation-style (v. short chapters) and I read it every Friday as my meditation for the day. It is extremly appropriate for Lenten devotion, and is less on the 'thees' and 'thous'--I have the translation for Ignatius Press, which is very good; beautiful but clean and stylish. (But everything from Ignatius Press is good) Both these books would make wonderful gifts for others or yourself and will enhance your spiritual life immensely as you meditate on the ideas he sets forth.

The Pope Wears Prada?

Frivolous post of the day:

This morning on Good Morning, America, the anchors were discussing what I thought was an odd topic-- B XVI's sense of fashion. :) It appears that he regularly wears red Prada shoes and his papal aides also possess a sense of style. There's no link to the story, but I thought it was nice to see a story on the Pope that didn't criticize the poor man (although they did lead off the story with a connection to the novel The Devil Wears Prada....which they quickly turned into something funny). I always supported B XVI and his work, but now I can support his fashion sense, too. :)

Monday, November 21, 2005

New books coming!

Just when you thought there couldn't be more....

More book reviews on the way:

--I'm just about finished with the Imitation of Christ, so look for that soon.
--New books to add to the pile: Spirit and Liturgy by Scott Hahn, The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis, and Mary: the Church at the Source, by two heavy-hitters-- B XVI and Hans Urs Von Balthasar. That one might take awhile to get through!!
--Also look for my review of the great Peggy Noonan's new book about JP the Great which comes out tomorrow.

All these great reviews...just in time for Christmas!! Make your shopping easier and read them! I'll also post a "quick" review at the top so you can just skim them if you don't have time to read the whole thing...but you *want* to read the whole thing, don't you? :)

Now Thank We All Our God

(great hymn, by the way.....)

It's that time of year...Thanksgiving! And in that spirit, I've decided to offer the list of things I'm thankful for (both seriously and irreverantly), and invite readers to do the same in the "comment" section. God asks us to number our blessings, and to "give thanks in all circumstances", so we might as well start with Thanksgiving, and get in the habit of being grateful for all the things, big and small, that God's given us.

1. Obviously, this year I am thankful for my new gift of life (see the post "Donate Life!" for more info. here). I wouldn't be celebrating this great holiday season with everyone if it wasn't for the priceless gift of selflessness I received from a family I will probably never know. I am immensely grateful to them, and to all of you who are organ donors (if you're not, please consider being one!).

2. My amazing family. I love them all--parents, brother, sister, and the great big extended family--that are so awesome and fun. I cannot wait to see them all (well, OK, most of them) on Thursday! Especially the kids! We all have a lot to be thankful for and it will be great to get together, eat the food, celebrate the season, and go shopping on Friday ( :) ) with my family. They are a great bunch. I thank God for you all!

3. My friends. Awesome, awesome, awesome. You're lucky in life if you only have one or two good friends, and I've got more than that, so I'm really, really lucky. They've been so supportive this past year--thank you!! (Now, if you would all let me know what you'd like for Christmas...) Note to you guys: You are all witty, wonderful, intelligent, fun, and great Christian folk (even if we do argue about Tennyson at dinner....). I love you!

4. That Notre Dame will actually go to a good Bowl game.

5. That my clothes fit again! Yay!

6. My job, which I really enjoy and is a lot of fun. I'm especially grateful for coworkers who are both fun and intelligent and understanding about the craziness which has been my life since I've worked with them. :)

7. That it hasn't snowed yet. :)

8. and, of course, I am grateful to God for seeing me through all this with the help of fabulous, intelligent, and fun (that's very important) people who have made me into the great RoadRunner that I am today!! :) All the docs, nurses, PTs, RTs, LPNs, Father Mark at Children's ( yay!) know who you are! You are the best and I am so grateful for everything you've done for me! I couldn't hvae done it without you!! God knew what I needed when He sent you all. :)

PHOTOS: (clockwise from bottom)
1. My mom's parents--Grandma and Pa--who have taught me so much about the Church and Catholic living. They are awesome! Here they are at my grandfather's 80th birthday party in May.
2. Me and my other best friend, Amilia, at our friend Troy's house after celebrating early Thanksgiving this week.
3. Some of the Gang of 24: Ryan, Andrew (Andy), Matt, and Carrie after playing basketball at Aunt Patty's in May. Aren't they great looking? Rematch on Thanksgiving (provided it isn't snowing!)

The Single Life

I was reading on Catholic Exchange over the weekend ( an article about the "vocation of being single" and how it relates to the Church, since a lot of the vocation talk gets centered on married couples and vowed religious. Singles kind of get the shaft. Now I'm only 23, so it's not like I'm an old church lady yet, but I will say it can be kind of a bummer to be Catholic and single, because there's so much emphasis on family and children, which I want, but don't have. In the meantime, though, I guess I'll just have to take the article's suggestions, which are that since I'm single, I have more "free time" and can do more for the Church, which is definitely true. I'm in the Church choir, on Spiritual Life Committee, and a Eucharistic Minister, and I volunteer at various things. I will admit it's nice to be able to have the freedom to commit myself that way without having to check the family schedule or see what my boyfriend's doing that night. I know there are plenty of ways I can serve the Church in my current "life state." But I've always wanted a family. Isn't it crazy how God will sometimes give you a yearning that isn't yet fulfilled (or--gulp--might never be?). That always struck me as odd. But I guess I'll just have to learn to let God work His ways and do with me as He pleases, since that's the only way I'll really be happy, anyway. But the holidays are coming, which means the inevitable, "So, are you seeing anyone?" Can we call a moratorium on that question, please?? Thanks! :) It'll help me adjust to the vocation I've got now, instead of wishing for the one I had!

Thursday, November 17, 2005


I will be on a brief break starting tomorrow and going probably through the weekend...I'm having minor surgery at "The Resort " (aka Children's...ha ha) tomorrow morning and I may be there until Saturday afternoon. So if there's 'radio blackout' now you know why. The only thing that makes me mad is missing Harry Potter opening day!!!

A Child Must Die So You May Live As You Wish

Hit the link above, search abortion downs syndrome, read the article called "one woman's choice", then come back. We'll still be here. (I couldn't directly link to it...stupid WashPost!)

OK, so now that you've read it, let's "discuss" (as they used to say on SNL). First off, I must say that the last line of the piece of rather chilling, at least for me....that the author is convinced she "did the right thing for the three of us." OK, maybe the right thing for the *two* of you, but I certainly doubt that death was the best choice for your unborn son (to whom you had already given a name...clearly acknowledging his 'personhood'. Mmmm....). But what really gets me, as those of you who know me know, is the fact that she clearly wasn't willing to make the sacrifices required to raise her son. Just because he *may* have Downs Syndrome (and we all know that pre-natal tests can be wrong), doesn't mean that his life isn't worth living. It will still have value, beauty, worth, and can be fantastic. But a lot of that is up to his parents and the environment they surround him in. Already his mother decided that it wasn't worth it. Sure, she tries to cloak it in the soothing talk of the pro-choicers, that by killing him he's avoiding the pain that will come from his life, the struggles that will undoubtedly ensue as this burden comes upon them. but the thing is, it doesn't have to be a burden.

Time for some true confessions. I was born with cystic fibrosis (CF), although I wasn't diagnosed until I was 11, which makes me a late-comer to the CF party. In July I had a double lung transplant and am doing really well. But for twelve years, we battled CF daily in my house. There were hospital stays, IV therapy, pulmonary therapies, hospital stays, surgeries, the whole nine yards. A lot of people would look at that and go "no way would I ever willingly put someone through all that." But here's the thing. In between the hospital stays and the home IV regimens, I managed to do quite a bit. I graduated with honors from high school. I dated (I even got engaged...but that didn't work out so well). I sang in honors choirs. I wrote for my high school and college papers. I was a double major in college and finished in four years. I was in two honor societies, a fraternity (of which I was a founding member of our college chapter), Vice-Chair and Chair of multiple organizations, including Student Government and College Republicans. I've been to D.C. and New York City on New Year's Eve. I'm a godmother. I have some of the best friends a girl could ask for. I now have a job I love doing what I love to do. No one could say that my life was "unfulfilled" or "a burden". I am perfectly happy with my life and love it. But if this woman had been my mother, I'd never have had a chance to do all that. Sure, CF doesn't affect your mind/nervous system, like Downs Syndrome does. But I've met some Downs Syndrome kids in my time at Children's, and they're great. Most kids will serious illnesses are great kids...brave, sweet, genuinely caring and compassionate. They're awesome--I've known a lot of them. At the same time, though, they're just like all other kids, too. They want to watch SpongeBob and find Nemo and look at the fish in the hospital aquariums and race down the hall in wagons.

People can get so caught up in the "downside" of disability or illness that they forget that behind the labels are real people who are just like them. Sure, part of their bodies may not function properly, but does that means that we get to kill them before they've had a chance to live and contribute, and to enact the plan that God has for them? I don't care who you are or where you live or what you do. God has a plan for each of us and we've no right to mess with it. Especially for the youngest among us. I suppose the author didn't take into account how rewarding raising a kid with an illness could be. You learn a lot from them about perserverance and what really matters in life. But that never seems to enter into the equation. it's all about "me"--how will this afffect me, how will this change my life, my schedule, my this, my that. And it's sad, because even if you don't want the child, so many others would take him in an instant and love them. I know I would. It's tough sometimes. I won't deny that. Life hasn't been all "sunshine and Santa Clause." But it's been good.

Kids with disabilities/genetic diseases/ etc. are becoming an endangered species, which some would say is a good thing, like Scrooge in a Christmas Carol; we're "decreas[ing] the surplus population." But no one is "surplus", at least in God's eyes. And in the eyes of Catholics, and other Christians, it should be the same. No Christian should support abortion. It is in direct vioaltion of God's Law. What we do to "the least of these", we do to Christ. And I shudder at the idea of what Christ thinks of the daily murders of millions of His children. I wonder if I would've made it out of the womb, had I been given to a different family. Probably, I think...things were different in 1982 (at least medical science wasn't so advanced). I was given the chance to live. And it's a chance being denied millions every year in our country because of women like this author, who think that she's doing "what is best." I feel bad for her....I feel the genuine grief she's going through. But at the same time, this all could have been avoided. There was another way. She just didn't see it through the haze of self-protection.

Don't mess with God's work. It just doesn't work out. Who knows what kind of children we've been killing? There's that old argument that one of them probably would've been the next Mozart, or the scientist who found a cure for AIDS or cancer or something. That may be true (although I don't think there will ever be a next Mozart, but I digress). But there also would've been a lot of just plain good people who love their dogs and their kids and their spouses and their God and who read the paper on Sunday morning and voluteer at the local library. Sure there would've been some dogs in there--a rapist, career criminal, what have you--but I think the overwhelming sense is that they would have been *good*. But we'll never know, because we never got a chance to know them.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Well gee, what a tough call

And also from the L.A. Times, a sob story from one of the leading Sob Sisters of our time, Kate Michaelman, the former NARAL leader. Her column, "This Time, Alito, it's personal" is one of those things that just makes pro-lifers want to throw up their hands and howl. The level of sheer inanity and dripping sentiment is enough sweetening for your breakfast cereal ten times over. Some points (with rebuttal encased in * *):

LOOKING BACK more than three decades to one of the most difficult times in my life, it's hard to say what seems more insulting: being forced to obtain my husband's permission to have an abortion after he had just abandoned my family or — many years later — Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr.'s ruling that a similar requirement was not, in constitutional parlance, an "undue burden."

In 1969 — in those distant but suddenly closer days before Roe vs. Wade — my husband deserted me and our three small daughters.
**OK, so your husband left you. Well, let's do what a lot of women do; cry about it, eat ice cream, and call your girlfriends
over to roundly denouce him. Then move on.

After learning I was pregnant, and making the wrenchingly personal decision to have an abortion, I was forced to submit to an invasive and humiliating interrogation before a hospital review board in Pennsylvania. It ultimately gave its permission. I was in the hospital preparing for the procedure when a nurse informed me I would need my husband's permission too. I found him a few days later and he gave it.

** "wrenchingly personal"--no, that's deciding whether or not to have a masectomy or a lumpectomy. Those are wrenchingly personal. Deciding whether or not to kill your child isn't personal--it involves at least one other person pretty closely. Just because your husband left you doesn't mean you can just kill the child because it's going to be too hard. If it's too hard, you have it and give the baby up for adoption. People like me, who can't have their own children, would gladly take this burden off your hands. **

In the 1992 case of Casey vs. Planned Parenthood, Alito voted to uphold a Pennsylvania law requiring women to notify their husbands before having an abortion. Such a requirement, he ruled, was not an "undue burden" on most women. The vast majority of women, he noted, voluntarily discuss an abortion with their husbands, while the law provided a nominal exception for women in the most extreme circumstances, such as abusive relationships.

The only women who would be burdened were all those left in the middle — women like me, women in extraordinary and individualized circumstances that neither laws nor legal standards could possibly anticipate.

**So let's just have tailor-made law, OK? I mean, I'm sure every murderer or rapists has "extraordinary" and "individualized" circumstances, too, so let's just amend the laws to make them more palatable for our criminals. Yes! That's the way to set effective legislation in place!**

Alito's opinion in essence said the only women the law would burden were those for whom it was burdensome; his standard appeared to be that individual rights could be restricted provided that not too many individuals were at stake.

**I think the baby would be at stake. I also think that it takes two to make a baby, and, absent father or not, he should
at least know that his wife, or ex-wife, or girlfriend or ex-girlfriend, is planning to end the life they both created.
He *may* just have an opinion on the matter that should be taken into account.

That is precisely the problem with government regulating private lives. Politicians do not know how laws will affect each individualized case. Courtrooms are a citizen's last refuge from unjust laws. When judges do not see those in their courtrooms as whole people and diverse individuals, that final constitutional safeguard is eviscerated.

**The government regulates "private" lives every single day. It tells us how fast to drive, what we can and cannot put into
our bodies, etc. Part of living in a society means giving up certain rights for the benefit of the society. Our society
cannot and does not benefit when the slaughter of the current and future generations continues unchecked because
we want to protect the "private" life of the mother. And yeah, Kate, politicians aren't wizards. They can't forsee every
result of a law. But you know, I think the idea of saving the lives of children (who will, by the way, Kate, be paying for
your retirement via Social Security--but you know, since you're in favor of "choice", a lot of them won't be there to do
so--and the program won't be there for you. Call it their "choice." **

To be sure, Alito would likely say women such as me should not take his opinion personally. I don't. But his potential elevation to the Supreme Court comes at a moment when privacy rights hang in the balance on an array of issues. A woman's right to choose is the most immediately threatened among them. Many Supreme Court decisions on that topic have been decided by a single vote — Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's. If Alito is even slightly more conservative than O'Connor — as is obviously the case — his vote would be enough to render the protections of Roe vs. Wade functionally meaningless for millions of women.

**and yet, the rights of the tiny women in the womb are systematically violated every day, under a constitutional "right"
that doesn't even exist. **

That is disturbing enough. But far more is at risk. From the Terri Schiavo case to the Patriot Act, politicians at all levels of government show an increasing willingness to invade the most sacred areas of private life — from decisions about the beginning and end of life to the books we check out of the library.

**Remember what I said about giving up certain rights, kate? This is what I mean. And if somebody is constantly
checking out books from the public library about jihad and how to make bombs, I want the FBI to know about it.
Hell, *I* want to know about it. I really don't think the Feds are looking at my book list going, "hmmm...this kid's
reading Alexander McCall Smith! That must mean something!!" (um, yeah. She likes to read mysteries.) Can we
please stop whining about the Patriot Act?
And don't even get me started on Terri Schiavo. That's just another example of the Left's total absence of respect for
human life, which I find insulting and degrading.**

Politicians are inclined to do that sort of thing; they rarely respect limits on their own power. That is why we have judges — but if judges such as Alito are willing to give politicians such unthinking deference that they do not even attempt to ascertain how real laws affect real people, it is difficult to see how privacy can possibly be protected.

**Newsflash! It's not even in the Constitution!!**

That is why it is so disappointing that President Bush has chosen to be intimidated by the most extreme element of his political base rather than acting as what he so often purports to be: a leader. Because he has chosen to follow, it is up to senators to lead. This nomination will rise or fall on the courage of moderates of both parties. Neither Democrats nor Republicans should expect their claims of moderation to be believed if they support a nominee whose views are so extreme.

**Follow? Hmm...I think the President picked Alito for the seat, not the Senate. I think it's pretty clear the message he's
sending out. And the Senate will lead---but not the way she wants.
And it's our favorite word!! Extreme!!**

Bush's political strategy is already clear: to portray anyone who opposes Alito as obstructionist. That is a label senators should not fear. If their power to advise and consent — as well as the privacy of individual American citizens — means anything, this is a nomination that must be obstructed.

**Someone please give this woman a Con Law class. Judge Alito is one the preeminent jurists in the United States, by
pretty much mutual consent from people who know these things. If he's obstructed, it's because he's pro-life, and that's
it. And Kate and her colleauges in the Democratic party can pretty much tell Catholics and conservative Evangelicals
that there is no place for them in their party (which isn't going to help them in the long run).

photo: My cousin, Brendan, who is very glad that his mother didn't follow Kate's advice.

Jesus, Policy Wonk

I've seen this published on a lot of blogs today; it comes from a Cathy Siepp's column in the L.A. Times, and I'm posting it here for your pleasure and's pretty funny:

I REALIZE IT'S HARDER for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a liberal Episcopalian minister to resist attacking Republicans. Still, there's something fantastically disingenuous about the Rev. George Regas' protests that, contrary to what the IRS suspects, he didn't give an impermissibly virulent anti-Bush sermon at All Saints Church in Pasadena a couple of days before the 2004 election.

The issue came up last week after All Saints received a letter from the IRS warning that its tax-exempt status could be in jeopardy because of Regas' politically charged sermon. But Regas insists that he did not "cross the line" by endorsing one candidate over another. True, he opened the sermon by saying "I don't intend to tell you how to vote," presumably with his fingers crossed. But it's virtually impossible to read it as anything other than an anti-Bush tirade aimed at sending parishioners to the polls two days later to vote the president out of office.

Although Regas called his sermon "If Jesus Debated Senator Kerry and President Bush," he didn't imagine Jesus sitting there awkwardly on a third stool, like Ross Perot, but as a presence directly criticizing only Bush, never Kerry. (Although you'd think, just out of curiosity, Jesus might have asked what really happened on those Swift boats.)

Instead, Regas' Jesus scolds the president: "President Bush, you have not made dramatically clear what have been the human consequences of the war in Iraq," adding, "now the latest figures say 100,000 Iraqi fighters, women and children are dead." And: "Jesus turns to President Bush again with deep sadness. 'Is what I hear really true? Do you really mean that you want to end a decade-old ban on developing nuclear battlefield weapons?' "

Leaving aside the odd notion of Jesus getting information by checking "the latest figures" (wouldn't he just know?) or hanging around the water cooler ("Is what I hear really true?"), Regas' Jesus is quite a policy wonk. According to the sermon, Jesus is pro-choice, against the Iraq war and vehemently disapproves of the Bush tax cuts (that "50% of the tax savings goes to the top 1% of the wealthiest Americans" would "break Jesus' heart," according to Regas). He's in favor of good prenatal care, "dignified jobs" (does carpentry count?) and affordable housing.

I'm curious what he thinks of gerrymandered voting districts, electricity regulation and making it easier to fire bad teachers, but maybe Jesus isn't really into California politics.

"How Jesus mourns the death of those 3,000 people killed on 9/11," Regas continues. "But Jesus also mourns the death, devastation and loss in Afghanistan and Iraq and Sudan and Israel-Palestine…." Then he conjures up Jesus again: "At the time of the trauma of 9/11," Jesus says, "you did not have to declare war. You could have said to the American people and the world, 'We will respond, but not in kind.' "

Just how Bush should have responded, Jesus doesn't say. But I'd like to know how Regas would have channeled Jesus' foreign policy ideas about Pearl Harbor, for instance, or the Holocaust. Presumably Jesus would have thought the latter, at least, merited some kind of action — if only to keep it from leading to what Regas calls "Israel-Palestine" instead of just Palestine.

"Mr. President," Regas' Jesus continues, "the consequences of arrogance, accompanied by certitude that the world's most powerful military can cure all ills…." And blah-blah-blah-blabbity-blah. This Jesus is awfully wordy, not at all like the terse prophet you may remember from the Bible. Regas apparently thinks Jesus would sound rather like Cindy Sheehan blathering on to the Huffington Post, or maybe like one of John Kerry's speechwriters.

And yet the retired rector insisted a few days ago, on The Times' Op-Ed page, that his sermon "did not cross the line" between religion and campaign politics because "peace and the alleviation of poverty are core values" of his congregation. But peace and the alleviation of poverty are core values of any congregation, and there are plenty that are liberal yet manage to address these issues without attacking particular political parties or candidates.

Now, I hope no one takes this the wrong way, because some of my best friends are Episcopalian, but when it comes to reflexive anti-Bush cant, even the most progressive Pasadena churchgoers are pikers compared to the average Westside Jew. Yet I've never heard anything comparable to Regas' rhetoric at my synagogue — from the congregation, sure, but not from the pulpit.

Somehow the sermons there manage to deal with peace and poverty without electioneering. And if Regas actually thinks his didn't cross a line, I wonder what part of "render unto Caesar" he doesn't understand?

The Papists are coming! The Papists are coming!

With the recent SCOTUS nomination of Judge Samuel Alito, the Supreme Court now stands at an interesting point in history. If Alito is confirmed (which, by all the rights, equity, and fairness under God he should be...), there will be 5 Catholics on the Supreme Court--for the first time ever, we will hold a majority.

This is big stuff. I mean, for Catholics, it's sort of like a big-time arrival. Where's the Know Nothing party now? But there are still those who would want to call us "odd", "out of the mainstream", "extremist" (is any of this ringing a bell?) and they're doing all they can to make sure an eminently qualified jurist like Alito doesn't get the nod, because, y'know, us Catholics are just crazy folks!

I'm not saying the opposition is only focused on him because he's Catholic; they are some rather "famous" (infamous?) Catholics (or CINOs, as I've called them elsewhere on this blog). They're against him because he's a *good* Catholic. You know, in line with the Church, believing what we believe. The press was all over this today when it came out that Alito does not think abortion is a right supported by the constitution. Well, for anyone who has taken Con Law 101, this is pretty obvious. Even for those of the U.S. population that haven't, it's pretty obvious. I mean, just read the fourteenth amendment sometime, and see if anywhere in there you see a line about the right to kill your child. Not only is Judge Alito's opinion legally sound, it's morally sound. Chief Justice Roberts is also personally against abortion, and has written some good works about this. But his record isn't quite as openly pro-life; he just hasn't been writing opinions as long as Alito has, and I don't think he's quite as open as Alito is (or Alito's mother; the day after the nomination she told the press, "Of course Sam is pro-life!"). But if he was a good pick (which he was), Alito is excellent. Catholic, conservative, a constructionist (meaning he doesn't look for rights in the Constitution but interprets what's actually there). A judge could be pro-life and still make a pro-choice ruling based solely on the evidence presented. Judges aren't judged (OK, sorry) the same way politicians are. When Catholic politicians vote for pro-abortion legislation, they're violating the laws of the Church. As Catholics we cannot support/condone anything that goes against Church law (even if it's not infalliably defined). Sen. Kerry, Kennedy, et al. are voting against what they're supposed to believe. Faith is lived in our every day lives. As Catholics, they should know this. But they just don't seem to get it. And the idea of their strongest constituency--the pro-choicers--leaving them instills them with more terror than what will happen to them because of their voting record later. "One cannot serve God and mammon," Jesus said. But some of them would like to try!

It's heartening to see a good jurist and a good Catholic up for such an important position. I thank Pres. Bush for nominating him, along with C.J. Roberts, and appellate court judge William Meyers, evidence that Catholics can contribute great things to our political life without B XVI building a Vatican II on the banks of the Potomac. (Do non-Catholics seriously think that this would ever happen, anyway? I can't imagine the Cardinal of Washington being too thrilled with it.)

Support the Alito nomination, and remember that a lot of the fear-mongering you are seeing--and will see--on the news is just that. The Vatican's not coming over here, the Catholics are not taking over the world. But good conservative Catholic values on our nation's highest court would do this nation a good service, I believe--and so do a lot of others.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Verse of the Day

"Throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth." --Mt. 25:30

Ah, the parable of the talents. This was one of those that I loved to hear in grade school, because I always thought it was dumb of the servant not to go and spend the money. I mean, come on; who digs a hole and puts money in the ground? Now that I'm older, I get that the point wasn't exactly market-related, although it is, in a sense. God gives us gifts ("talents"....isn't that a funny connection?) and expects us to use them wisely, or what good are they to us? We're often reminded to be good stewards of our "time, talent and treasure", but I bet most of us only focus on the "treasure" part, because the offetory basket comes around every week as a reminder! But time and talent are just as, if not more, important that the money. Sure, the Church needs money to help in its mission (and to repair the roof when it leaks, and the heater when it know how it goes), but it also needs *people* to fulfill that mission. So, if you haven't already, consider helping out at your church in some small way. It doesn't have to be a lot--I'm not saying you need to run for Parish Council president, and organize the festival, and run the PSR program. :) We're humans, not God. :) But maybe join the Bible Study, or the Spiritual Life committee, or even just go to the retreats/ prayer evenings/ etc. that your parish provides for you. (There's usually food...go for that if nothing else!) Whatever you're interested in. The Church is made up of all of us, and it needs our help. Besides, who wants Jesus to call them a "useless servant"? And the wailing and grinding of teeth doesn't sound so great either.....

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Bookshelf: Two from George Weigel

All right, bibliophiles everywhere...gather 'round for the first bookshelf installment from my "empire" (that's what B XVI calls his library, so I figured I could adopt it, too.).

On tap for today are two books by George Weigel, Catholic theologian extraordinaire--I love his stuff. Whenever you pick up on of his books you know you are in for a load of insight, humor, and good Catholicism explained in simple, yet eloquent, terms. He writes about Catholicism in a way that makes you want to stand up and yell, "Yeah, I'm glad I'm Catholic!" He draws you into the beauty and Truth of the faith. This is true in all his books, but especially Letters to a Young Catholic (which is the first one I'm reviewing here).

LTAYC (we're into abbreviations :) ) was published in 2004, so it's not exactly 'new', but a paperback version has come out and I bought it about a week ago. The book is part of a larger "letters to a young..." (artist, lawyer, conservative (!) are just a few of the titles in the series), and Weigel has written it as a series of 15 or so letters that derive from particular Catholic spots of worship or pilgrimage. The "big spots", like St. Peter's, the Sistine Chapel, and Chartres are here, but we also have Flannery O'Connor's home town, The Old Cathedral of Baltimore, and a parish in North Carolina. Each of these places is a link to a particular part of Catholic tradition, piety, or doctrine. For example, St. Peter's talks about the "grittiness" of Catholicism; Chartres, beauty; The Old Cathedral, freedom, and how Catholics should think about it. His approach is fantastic, because he draws you in with the history of the place you're visiting very vividly (as it should be, considering he's been all these places), then he takes you into the meat of the letter. The book covers many and sundry topics of the Catholic world: homosexuality, women in the priesthood, the Eucharist, the sacraments, how Catholics view "stuff", male and female in the Catholic Church, the Catholic imagination, and many other topics, written in Weigel's accessible yet lyric style. It's a book that's very hard to put down. You don't have to be "young" to read it, but it is geared specifically for people probably ages 16-26, and Weigel very often mentions the "young people" or "youth" of the Church in his letters, especially when talking about JP The Great and World Youth Days. Weigel places a great deal of emphasis on how this generation of Catholics can have much influence on the Church and the world as a whole. If you are a young person, this book leaves you energized and enthused about the work there is to do. If you are older, it should give you confidence about the next generation of Catholics. This would make a fantastic Christmas gift to any Catholic youth on your list (especially for college students, I think), or anyone who just loves George Weigel.

The second book, God's Choice: Benedict XVI and the Future of the Catholic Church, is a more "scholarly" work in the vein of Weigel's international best seller Witness to Hope: A Biography of JPII. The book recounts the last days of JPII, neatly capsulizes the accomplishments and failures of his papacy, the ceremonies in Rome, and the conclave itself that elected Benedict XVI, as well as the challenges the new pope may face during his papacy. It's a very well paced book, with lots of inside information; since Weigel is the NBC Vatican analyst and was on television a great deal during the death of JP II and the interregnum, all the way through B XVI's installment Mass, he alone has a lot of insight, and can get information from many other people he knows in the media. It is, as I said above, deftly written and highly accessible, with a great pace that moves you through the events that occurred last April with detail and insight. I especially enjoyed the chronicle of JP II's work, including his encyclicals, his travels, and his major accomplishments. I thought it was a great summary of a monumental papacy. There is also a brief biographical sketch of B XVI (although I'd recommend the Pope's own work, "Milestones", if you're interested in his life) that brings the man to life for those who have not read or listened to him before (I would highly recommend reading his prolific book output--he's written so many that you will definitely be able to find some of his titles at your local bookstore). The politics of the vote -- although no one can be exactly sure what happened in the conclave-- are also fascinating to read and study.

Both of these books are well done and deserve to find a wide audience. They'd both make great Christmas gifts, and will further your knowledge and appreciation of our faith, as well as give you great hope for the future of the Church. Enjoy!

Donate Life!

Yesterday was an anniversary of sorts. Not the kind of anniversary that Hallmark has cards for (at least not yet), but a pretty important one, at least for moi. Yesterday was the four month anniversary of my double (or, as they say in medspeak 'bilateral') lung transplant. I can hardly believe it's been four months already, and the difference is remarkable.

A lot of people ask me that question: "what's it like with new lungs?" Well, first of all, I haven't become a different person in my personality or attitudes (at least not yet); having someone else's organs inside me hasn't morphed me into her. :) I guess the closest thing I can tell you is to imagine yourself with only about 1/3 of your lungs working--like climbing Mt. Everest with your nose clipped shut and no oxygen. Something like that (although I've never climbed Everest, and don't plan to). I measured everything in distance--how many steps here, do I have to take the stairs, oh I have to climb stairs on the way back *in*, etc. That's not such a fun way to live your life. I was luckier than a lot of people--I only waited about two months, was never on full-time supplemental oxygen, and worked right up until my transplant (I was at work the Friday before--I was transplanted on a Sunday). But I was also lucky that I even got the organs in the first place. 18 people die in the U.S. every day because not enough organs are available: "there but by the grace of God, go I". Seriously.

So I'm going to make a plug here. This weekend is national Donor Sabbath weekend, where pastors/priests/religious leaders are encouraged to discuss organ donation with their congregations, in the hopes of both raising the number of donors in the U.S. and dispelling a lot of myths about donation, as well as letting their congregations know how their particular church/synagogue/mosque stands on the issue. I've done the legwork for you; here's what the CCC has to say:

2296 Organ transplants are in conformity with the moral law if the physical and psychological dangers and risks to the
donor are proportionate to the good that is sought for the recipient. Organ donation after death is a noble and
meritorious act and is to be encouraged as an expression of generous solidarity. It is not morally acceptable if the
donor or his proxy has not given explicit consent. Moreover, it is not morally admissible directly to bring about the
diasabiling mutilation or death of a human being, even in order to delay the death of other persons.

So there you have it--a "noble and meritorious act". No matter what TV might tell you, the donation community is very much against the killing of people just for organs. It must be a donation--that's the point. In a lot of states, you can do this when you renew your license; in Ohio, the BMV has a special section on its website where you can sign up to be an organ donor. Lifeline of Ohio (the organ procurement/awareness agency in my state) has a website where you can sign up, too ( You can even (at least in Ohio) designate exactly what organs you would like to donate, if the idea of donating your eyes or skin or something creeps you out.

Do it. Please. It's not hard, and, well, to be frank, you're not going to be using the organs anyway. Donors can be all ages; I know mine was a 50 year old woman. Since my transplant occured, I'm in my church choir, singing much better than before, because I actually can control my breathing to support the music. I'm working for the State, I'm writing this lovely blog for all of you folks. :) I'll be able to play with my cousins come the holidays. I can do things with my family and I'm here to amuse my friends with stories and to plan our social lives. :) I thank God every day for this great gift I've gotten, and that a lot of people who need it won't get to receive because they're just aren't enough organs to go around. I'm a daughter, sister, friend, co-worker, granddaughter, godmother, cousin....think about those people in your lives. I know that most of us would go to no end to save the life of their sibling, child, relative. Do it for someone else's family.

Life is a great thing that God has given all of us. Please consider donating your organs so that others can continue to enjoy life after you've gone. Be sure to tell your family so that they know of your decision. It doesn't cost anything, and you will bring unimaginable joy to so many people, not just the recipient. When I went back to work on Monday, so many people told me how happy everyone was to hear that the operation had gone well and I had gotten my transplant. My family, as you can imagine, was ecstatic. My friends were thrilled (although one of them commented that now they'll "never be able to shut me up").

We're coming up on Thanksgiving. I know that my family has a LOT to be thankful for this year. Please consider donating the greatest gift you can give someone else during this holiday season.

photos: top: my best friend, Tiffany, and I celebrate her twenty-fourth birthday, 1 1/2 months post transplant.
bottom: the family Christmas 2005 picture: me, my brother Bryan (20), and my sister Melanie (16), almost 3
months post transplant.

And the winner is....orthodoxy!

Today's Columbus Dispatch (my hometown paper) had a little blurb article from AP about the highly-awaited Vatican document on homosexuals and the priesthood, which is due out Nov. 29. Once again, it amazes me how the press never quite seems to "get" the idea that the Vatican isn't here to make sure that the Church is "tolerant", but to make sure that the Church sticks to Church teachings, which were given to us by Jesus, the Bible, and Tradition. (I would say these are all better authorities than the local P.C. trends...)

The article says that the document will proclaim that " practicing gays, those with 'deeply rooted' homosexual tendencies or those who support gay culture cannot be admitted to the priesthood." (from an Italian daily) Um, not to be a bit flippant, but OK...this isn't new. If you want to be a priest, methinks you should be "in line" (as we say in politics) with the party line. You know, support the Vatican, the Pope, the Catechism, all that good stuff that makes us Catholic. And if you're openly gay, then you're openly flouting all those things, and you're essentially telling your congregation, "hey, I don't have to follow the rules, so you don't either!" Not the kind of example we want to be setting. The Church says that homosexual actions are gravely sinful. Now, OK, all of us are sinners. That's a fact. But I don't think priests should be openly committing gravely sinful actions and be priests. That just strikes me as wrong. There's also the ancient Catholic idea that "stuff" (that is, physical matter) matters. A priest is acting in persona Christi--in the place of Christ, as Christ--when he celebrates Mass. The relationship between Christ and his Church is nuptial in nature; the Church is the spouse, Christ the groom. This Catholic understanding of male and female isn't going to work too well in a homosexual setting. (For more on this, read George Weigel's incomparable Letters To A Young Catholic) We are who God created us to be, and we can't change that. We also cannot change what God has ordained to be so--that is, that practicing homosexuals cannot be priests. (Heck, practicing anythings can't be priests....we've got that whole celibacy thing going on, for heterosexuals, too!)

The document also says that Bishops, spiritiual directors of seminaries and superiors of religious orders must "verify that the candidate practices celibacy and has no 'sexual disturbances that are incompatible with the priesthood.'" Yeah. I think we can all get on board with that, right? I hope so. If you've read Michael Rose's Goodbye, Good Men (if you haven't, get it!), you know that this is a long time coming, with all the crazy things seminaries did in the 1960s and 1970s to get priests who were not, as we said above, "toting the party line" into the priesthood, and heavily discouraging or outrightly discriminating against priests who were actually faithful to the Pope and Magesterium and didn't buy into the P.C. Catholicism stuff.

I think that this new policy will change the priesthood for the better. We Catholics need to know that our priests are actually teaching--and living--Catholic doctrine. I don't expect my priests to be perfect (none of us are). But I do expect them to teach me what the Church really teaches, and not what they wish the Church teaches. This was vividly seen during the 2004 Election; I know of priests who would preach in their homilies that abortion is not "the only issue" in an election, that we must consider other things. While this may be true, it was also a veiled reference to the, um, CINO (Catholic-In-Name-Only) candidate (whom we all remember with such fondness). This flies in the face of Vatican statements, as well as statements from U.S. Bishops. Sure, it's not the "only" issue in an election, but it's a darn important one. Life issues always are. And yet we have priests who are advocating for the other side. There are priests who believe women should be ordained, and tie that theme into their homily on the Immaculate Conception! (Yes, this actually happened in a parish in my neighborhood) Now, the Blessed Mother was many things, but I'm sure she wouldn't've been the one leading the charge for women's ordination. But that's another column.

Yes, the howls will emerge, once this document is released, that the Church is "out of fashion" and "medieval" and "discriminatory" and all that stuff we're used to hearing (imagine if the press called anything that any other religion did these But the Church has endured now for over 2,000 years. The Gates of Hell will not prevail against it. I think we can handle a little bit of press mudslinging. And God bless B XVI for having the guts to release this document. The Church needs solid guidance, and he's just the man to give it to us.

Mary, Did You Know?

I know it's early for Advent (well, OK, one week) but this is an Advent reflection I wrote for this year's Advent Evening of Reflection at my parish. It's gotten a good response so far, so I'm posting it here for all of you--hope you enjoy it! It's written from the perspective of Mary as she waits for Jesus to be born:

I’ve been waiting for this season ever since the Angel appeared to me that mysterious spring night in the quiet of my room. But in a way, it seems as if I’ve been waiting much longer, for my people have awaited the birth of this child ever since Abraham. The Messiah has finally come to us! He is residing inside of me…and I wait for His appearance, not only as His mother, but also as one of His followers.

I wasn’t afraid to say “yes” to the angel—I knew that if this was truly God’s work, then it was good work, and I would give my consent to have it done through me. I am not a special, gifted girl; I’m just the daughter of two devout Jews, who was raised in the Jewish faith and has tried to live it faithfully every day of my life. Yet the angel called me “blessed” and “full of grace”; even Elizabeth called me “the mother of her Lord”. And yet I am not frightened, even as these accolades are heaped upon me. I feel undeserving, of course, for it is God who is working the miracle that is taking place; I am simply the vessel for His plans for both myself and, with this Child, the salvation of my people. I am so happy to be able to serve God in this way. My waiting is clothed with excitement and eagerness to fulfill the mission God has given me. I am sure that it will not be an easy one—God hasn’t been known to do that. Did he not ask Abraham to sacrifice his only son? To have Moses lead his people through the desert? I know that there will be many trials and sorrows along this path. Indeed, there have already been some, like when I tried to explain to Joseph what had happened to me. At first he didn’t believe me, but I know that God worked upon his heart to accept the miracle that will affect both of us so deeply. He is waiting, just as I am, for this child to be born. I also feel tremendous joy, for the baby that resides in me will be the source of so much grace and happiness for so many. God has “looked upon me in my lowliness”; imagine, that He would choose someone like me—a young girl from a small village—to help Him in His works. The thought astounds me.

As I wait, I something think that this task is too large for me. God is entrusting me with the raising of His Son! Am I up to the task? I have never been a mother before, and now I am to be a mother to the greatest Child of all. The thought can be daunting. But then I remember that this is God’s work, and His plan, and because of that He will grant me whatever graces I need to be a good mother to His son. God would not entrust me with a task I could not handle. If He has faith in me, then that is all I need to rest and reassure my spirit, as I wait for this child to come.

All this waiting has also made me excited. My mother says she was excited when she was pregnant with me, and it increased as she waited for me to come. So now I grow in excitement as the time nears. There’s nothing more exciting than new life coming into being, and this will be especially so—my first child, but also the Son of God, our redeemer, coming in the world for us. That thought alone is enough to make me marvel at the wondrous work of God, and how good He is to us. This child will change the world, and yet, at the same time, he’s still my little baby boy, my child, who will change my life forever. And He will change my life in so many ways! I will watch Him grow and learn, and, with Joseph, teach him our religious faith, which will be such a joy for us. But as He grows, I know He will teach me, as well. I wait for that! It seems like there is so much to wait for, to look forward to—not just the birth, but His whole life, and how that will affect not only myself and Joseph, but also so many others; people I cannot even begin to name or know. That’s probably the best part about this waiting time—imagining what wonderful fruit will come of this blessing God has given me, and the whole world, as God gives us His son. What better way could He express His love for us?


There's going to be a lot of book posts around here these days, so I thought I'd give you a heads up on what's coming:

--Letters to a Young Catholic, by George Weigel
--God's Choice, by George Weigel
--The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas a Kempis
--The Interior Castle, by St. Teresa of Avila
--the Jeweller's Shop, by JP the Great
--The Confessions, by St. Augustine

Yeah, I know..."light" stuff! But I've got to keep my brain busy. So look for these, if you're interested in books. :) I'll try to post some non-bibliophile stuff for the rest of you, too!

photo: some of my 400+ books in my library...once an English major, always an English major....

Thursday, November 10, 2005

contact info.

Even though this site has a comment feature, if you'd like to email me individually, the address for the blog is:

I won't always respond to your emails, but I do want feedback, good and bad! So feel free to utilize this account.


Hi everybody,
Welcome to my new blog, "Journeys of a Catholic Poster Girl." The name comes from my friend Branden who often says that I should be the "Catholic Poster Girl" or the "Vatican spokeswoman" (I thought of that as a title, but some might take that literally...). I'll be posting on, obviously, Catholicism, but also politics, arts, and culture from a Catholic perspective. I have a B.A. in Political Science and English Literature, so politics and books are never far from my thoughts, and I've often toyed with getting another degree in Theology, but we'll have to see where the dice fall on that one. I'll post at least once a week (hopefully more often!) and I welcome your thoughts and comments--I love a good discussion!

The picture above is of me and my godson, Ryan, who is seven years old and my favorite kid in the whole world. It's awesome being a godmother and being entrusted to be a good example of the Faith to someone else.

So what are my qualifications for being the "Catholic Poster Girl"? I don't know that they're all that impressive, but I'll try. I went to Catholic school for nine years, and that's enough to give anybody a good solid grounding in Catholicism (at least when I attended school it was). I attended public high school, and after being asked at lunch one day if I was "saved" and I naively answered "I'm Catholic", thinking that would end it, I realized I had better do some research into my faith and what I believed. Being a voracious reader, this wasn't hard, and by the time I hit college I had read up on just about every major topic and was ready to take on my Protestant questioners (big breakthrough came when I convinced one of my debate opponents that "not all Catholics are going to Hell"....yes, strange but true...). I ended up being challenged so often and having enough answers that my friends began to call me the "Catohlic Poster Girl." I am orthodox, meaning I am of the JP the Great and B XVI school of theology and Catholicism. I am not a fan of "Catholic Lite", as you will discover if you stick with me. :)

Anyway, that's enough about me. Hopefully I'll have a new post up this weekend--probably some book reviews, as I'm currently reading two George Weigel books, and he's always worth reading and pondering.

Talk to you later!

VERSE OF THE DAY: "Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" --1 Cor. 3:16