Sunday, May 20, 2007

What does 500 books look like?

Some pictures from this weekend's renovations:

Monday, March 19, 2007

We're moving!!

Hi all!

We are moving to a new host! You can now visit Catholic Poster Girl at

or click here

See y'all over there!! I am going to be transferring all this stuff over there so until that's done there may not be anything new...

Friday, March 16, 2007

Oh, so that's what happened!

You regular readers of this page know that I am seriously pro-life. I am a "take-no-prisoners" fully pro-life pro-lifer (if that makes any sense). Usually I find nothing about the topic funny.

However, as Mother Angelica says, "we have to laugh," and the boys at Number 1 Happy St. had this on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade :

Today, dozens of rallies have been taking place all across the country to mark the 33rd anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. If you've been under a rock, that's the supreme court decision in which a woman (Roe) wanted to terminate her pregnancy. Her unborn baby (Wade) disagreed with that course of action but was ultimately overruled by the high court. And so with that decision, the 'right to choose' was finally a reality.

Unless you are a state. In which case, you no longer had the right to choose. The federal government will be doing all the choosing from now on.

And unless you are the father of the unborn baby. In which case, your choice was already used up when you decided to go with the condoms with the plain black and white wrapper because the other ones were too expensive.

And unless you are the unborn baby. In which case, you don't get to choose because mommy knows what's best for you. I mean she's already proven that she can make good decisions which is how she ended up in the back seat of that Prius anyway. It's not every day you have the opportunity to get nailed by someone who loves the movie Mona Lisa Smile as much as you do!

It's not ha-ha funny. It's sad funny. Because there are a lot of things in there that ring true.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Good article from Mark Shea

In the National Catholic Register:

Cautionary Tales

As a convert to the Catholic faith, I naturally want to see others embrace it, as well. But when I talk with folks who want to be Catholic I often find myself repeating Jesus’ counsel to “count the cost.” Why?

BY Mark Shea

March 11-17, 2007 Issue

As a convert to the Catholic faith, I naturally want to see others embrace it, as well. But when I talk with folks who want to be Catholic I often find myself repeating Jesus’ counsel to “count the cost.” Why?

One thing that concerns me about converts, especially from Protestantism, is that some seem to still be basically Protestant. Some become Catholic, not because they have concluded that the Church is the trustworthy sacrament of redemption given to the world by Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit, but because they are fed up with Protestantism and are leaving it and joining the Catholics — in protest. Such folk are soon disconcerted that the people at Our Lady of Perpetual Ordinariness are not this haven of saints and scholars, but a bunch of regular people.

Some don’t know their faith at all. Some hold political opinions that are very different from the convert’s. Some don’t much take the Church’s teaching seriously. Some get their spiritual insights from Oprah, or are devout but superstitious, or have a Protestant brother-in-law who has taught them to say “Praise the Lord!” a lot.

It’s all so average to the convert who was bargaining on a safe haven from all that. And when some pope or bishop does something not to their liking, such converts not infrequently embrace some form of the “two churches/two magisteriums” theory of a pre- vs. post-Vatican II Church and (either slowly or quickly) start to hive off into some extreme form of what they call “traditionalism” but which is, in fact, yet another kind of Protestantism, albeit one with ultra-Catholic aesthetics.

What we need to remember is that the Catholic Church is and always has been the vessel of salvation for the world. That means that most of the people you meet are going to be ordinary — like you and me

They are going to have the ordinary tastes, prejudices, mediocrities, failures and virtues of their time and place. There are, to be sure, great heroes and extraordinary people in the Catholic communion. But to expect that as the norm and then be outraged and disappointed when it is not is, I think, great folly and, in the end, great pride. Remember the hellish “wisdom” of C.S. Lewis’ Uncle Screwtape, who would keep far from our minds the thought, “If I, being what I am, can consider myself in some sense a Christian, then why can’t these people next to me in the pew”?

So, though I have been appalled by some of the sins that have been revealed in the ranks of the Church in the past few years, I’ve never been shocked. What did I expect? They’re just sinners like I am, and I know what I’m capable of.

“Well then,” it may be asked, “if the average Catholic is so average, why bother joining the Church?” To quote Walker Percy, “What else is there?” After all, it is not the Church that is mediocre, but only we, her members.

The Church is, curiously, something that exists before she has any members, because she is founded not by us, but by Christ. The Church is the spotless bride of Christ, made so by the Holy Spirit in the washing with water and the Word. We, her members, are generally nebbishes and schleps.

But she is glorious and beautiful, terrible as an army with banners. And in her all the fullness of the faith subsists. In that faith, by the grace of God, I hope one day to be made perfect in love of God and neighbor.

But it is not my job to immanentize the eschaton. I can be more than merely content living in this strange, divine sea of a Church, whose members are, like me, stunningly ordinary, but whose soul, the Holy Spirit, is slowly bringing us along “until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Ephesians 4).

So does this mean I can marry William?

from The Anchoress

She’s a bit late to the game, but Queen Elizabeth II wants to “celebrate diversity” and will apparently make a public statement to the effect that “that people should see each other as being individuals who are special.”

“Special” is the most overused, meaningless word currently in use in the English language. “Amazing” is coming a close second.

If the Queen starts talking about how “special” we all are, and how “amazing” everyone looks, the takeover of mediocrity - in language, social discourse, historical reference, etc - will be complete.

Now…Your Maj - I can call you “Maj,” right, since I’m special…how about the Catholics? Are they special yet? Can William marry one and keep his throne? Are we celebrating that much diversity, yet?

ME: When I was little my mom used to mention on and off that I was older than Prince William by a few months. This greatly excited me, being weaned on the Disney Princesses as I was, so I would always say, "so I could marry him!" Then Mom would inform me that I couldn't because I was Catholic. This was highly distressing because I wanted to marry a prince. As I got older and read more about the 'reasoning' behind this rule, I began to think that perhaps the royal life wasn't all it was cracked up to be.

But seriously, isn't this a little ridiculous? I know that one of the monarch's titles is "Defender of the Faith" or something like that (Churcha nd State, anyone? Oh wait...the Church was created by the state. A ha!). But this is kind of old. If William fell in love with a Catholic he should be allowed to marry a Catholic. Sheesh. Fortunately that didn't happen. (Well, fortunately for them)

The end of the Anglican Communion?

George Weigel seems to think so:

The end of the Anglican Communion
By George Weigel

There’s an Anglican church, St. Luke’s, a few blocks up Old Georgetown Road from my parish in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. St. Luke’s recently posted a large sign on the church lawn: “No matter who you are, no matter what you believe, you are welcome at our table.”

Which is, in one sense, a noble sentiment: if it’s meant to convey that, look, we’re all sinners, and no matter how awful you may think you are, you’re welcome in the communion of Christ’s Church if you’re truly repentant. Judging from recent events in the Anglican Communion, however, St. Luke’s sign isn’t a synopsis of the parable of the prodigal son and his merciful father; it’s a succinct, if unwitting, statement of why the Anglican Communion is coming apart at the seams.

No Catholic serious about the Catholic commitment to the unity of Christ’s Church can take any satisfaction from today’s Anglican meltdown. It now looks as if John Henry Newman was right when he concluded that Anglicanism was not a “third branch” on the tree of historic Christian orthodoxy, of which the other branches were Catholicism and the Orthodox churches of the Christian east; rather, Newman decided, Anglicanism was Protestantism in English guise. In the wake of the Second Vatican Council, as hopes for ecclesial reconciliation between Rome and Canterbury ran high, it seemed, briefly, as if Cardinal Newman might have been wrong. With the Anglican Communion now fracturing into a gaggle of quarreling communities no longer in communion with each other, it looks as if Newman had the deeper insight into what King Henry VIII wrought.

But neither the late cardinal nor the multi-uxorious king could have imagined that Anglicanism’s breakup would result from some Anglicans’ insistence that sodomy can be sacramental.

Yet that is precisely what is happening. As Canada’s finest Catholic commentator, Father Raymond de Souza, wrote last year (reflecting on the attempts of Dr. Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury, to hold the Anglican Communion together), “Some [Anglicans] argue that [homosexual acts] are sinful; others that they are sacramental. This is an unbridgeable gap and it appears impossible for Canterbury to straddle it, try as he might.” Dr. Williams has tried mightily; he seems to have failed. There are indeed unbridgeable gaps, and it turns out that it does matter what you believe, if you wish to be seated at “our table” — at least in the minds of the majority of the world’s Anglicans, who disagree with the Episcopal Church USA’s determination to bless same-sex unions and ordain practicing homosexuals to priestly and episcopal ministry.

An American Anglican clergyperson, debating all this on PBS’s “NewsHour,” said that, if schism were the only answer, she and her Pasadena congregation would choose “the Gospel” over “the institutional Church.” From a theological point of view, no more thoroughly Protestant posing of the issue could be imagined. And what does standing up for “the Gospel” have to do with embracing the Zeigeist of the more delirious suburbs of the People’s Republic of California?

Shortly after Rowan Williams was named to Becket’s chair, we spent a cordial ninety minutes together at Lambeth Palace, Canterbury’s London headquarters. I gave him a copy of Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II; we spoke of John Paul’s theology of the body, and then fell to discussing the difference between “sacramental” and “gnostic” understandings of the human condition. The former insists that the stuff of the world – including maleness, femaleness, and their complementarity — has truths built into it; gnostics say it’s all plastic, all malleable, all changeable. The sacramentalists believe that the extraordinary reveals itself through the ordinary: bread, wine, water, salt, marital love and fidelity; the gnostics say it’s a matter of superior wisdom, available to the enlightened (which can mean, the politically correct). Dr. Williams seemed convinced that the gnosticism of a lot of western high culture posed a great danger to historic Christianity and the truths it must proclaim.

He was right. The gnosticism that infects the Episcopal Church USA has just about driven the Anglican Communion over the cliff.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Lenten Friday

So that means Kashi cereal (which is really really good, let me tell you) and OJ.
Probably not what Jesus would've eatenm but it's not meat!!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Molto Proprio...

re: The Latin Mass is coming soon.

Here is an interview regarding it on Catholic Exchange.

Saturday, March 03, 2007


Just finished re-reading Crossing the Threshold of Hope, which is just classic JP II. I love everything in there, but his passages on abortion, women, and why we should "be not afraid" are just fantastic. If you haven't read this, make it part of your Lenten prep and pick up a copy.

How Crunchy Are you?

Been awhile since I've posted anything "Crunchy", so here's a quiz to dtermine your level.

I am a 28. So in the middle. It must be the make-up and the breast-feeding stuff. I got the link from Nutmeg and I agree with her when she writes that there's really no in-between on some of those questions. And I can't breast-feed so I'm out on a lot of those, if I ever have my own kids. Oh well. And I am definitely a shoe girl. Can't work at the Statehouse without shoes.

But, like Nutmeg says, I try my best. I shop at Trader Joe's when I can and try to get organic meat when it's not too expensive. I eat whole-grain bread (although I have to get that from TJ's because, dude, the Kroger stuff? Not so much. Definitely not so much.) and more fruit because it's better for me and I feel better when I do it. Does that mean I don't have cookies around? Um, no. In fact I am going to buy Oreos as soon as I can...ha ha. But I try to be as "crunchy" as possible.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Frances Kissling steps down

and is, of course, lauded by the NYT: (emphases mine)

Backing Abortion Rights While Keeping the Faith

WASHINGTON, Feb. 26 — Frances Kissling has been called the “philosopher of the pro-choice movement” by her friends and an “abortion queen” by her critics.

But the name Ms. Kissling wears most defiantly, to the consternation of many religious believers, is Roman Catholic. For 25 years, as president of Catholics for a Free Choice, she has angered the church hierarchy and conservative Catholics by criticizing fundamental teachings on sex.

“I’m so Catholic, I can’t get away from it,” said Ms. Kissling, who was once in a convent. “How I construct concepts of life, of justice, it all comes out of being Catholic.”

Though unknown to most lay Catholics, she has inspired and worked with politicians and activists, many Catholic, to speak out in favor of giving women access to abortions and to artificial contraception.

On Wednesday, Ms. Kissling, 63, will step down from her post, relinquishing her role as one of the most vocal of the so-called bad Catholics, those who manage to accommodate the opposing sentiments of love for the church and anger at much of its doctrine.

“The constant refrain in this office is, ‘Are we really Catholic?’ ” Ms. Kissling said here in a recent interview. “I know with every ounce of my being that you don’t have to agree with the positions of the church on issues of abortion and contraception to be Catholic.”

Many Catholics passionately disagree. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued statements challenging the right of Catholics for a Free Choice to call itself Catholic. Critics dismiss Ms. Kissling’s organization as a mouthpiece for bigger, secular abortion rights groups and a front for anti-Catholic bigotry.

“They could get special attention and get special digs at the church because of their name,” said Helen M. Alvaré, an associate professor of law at the Catholic University of America and a former planning director of the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities at the Catholic Bishops conference. “They had no grass-roots base among Catholics. There was nothing very different about them from other pro-choice groups in the arguments they made.”

Catholics for a Free Choice says it gives voice to the large percentage of Roman Catholics who disagree with the church’s position on reproductive issues. Its $3 million budget is largely financed by well-known secular foundations, including the Ford Foundation.

Ms. Kissling agrees with her detractors that her organization has not affected church doctrine. Instead, it has focused on working with lay Catholics and others to build momentum for its causes.

With other groups, it successfully lobbied against the naming of John Klink, a former representative of the Holy See at the United Nations, to lead the State Department Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration in 2001. Most recently, it worked with staff members for Representatives Rosa DeLauro, Democrat of Connecticut, and Tim Ryan, Democrat of Ohio, to draft legislation intended to decrease abortions, partly by increasing financing for family planning.

Sitting in her Washington office, Ms. Kissling was unequivocal in her distaste for the church hierarchy. “I think that in many ways, the church has become an unjust institution,” she said. On one wall of her office was a cherub, on another a Che Guevara calendar . In a corner stood a candle that looked like a bishop’s miter, yet to be lit.

Ms. Kissling continued: “It abuses nuns, anyone who thinks, homosexuals, women who have abortions. It sexually abuses children. It treats people badly, and something has to be done to change its abusive nature.”

Ms. Kissling was born Frances Romanski into a working-class Polish family in New York, the oldest of four children. When she was a child, her mother divorced and later married a man named Kissling, which in the eyes of the church made her an adulteress, Ms. Kissling said.

Despite her frustration with such beliefs, Ms. Kissling said, she was inspired by the nuns at her Catholic school. In the early 1960s, she joined a convent, at age 19.

Convent life demanded that she look deep inside herself, she said, and she discovered that she did not agree with the church’s teachings on divorce and birth control. She left after six months to attend the New School.

Avowedly heterosexual, she said she never had a desire to marry or have children. She became active in the women’s movement in the 1960s. Then in 1970, when abortion was legalized in New York, she was asked to direct an abortion clinic in Pelham. She had no experience, she said, but neither did anyone else, so she took the position.

In 1978, she joined the board of Catholics for a Free Choice, and in 1982, she took over as president.

Critics and supporters say Ms. Kissling has a more nuanced view of abortion than many in the abortion rights movement. She said her experience working at an abortion clinic and her upbringing in the church made her believe “there was a certain void in the pro-choice movement around the questions of morality and ethics.”

In late 2004, she published an article in her group’s magazine, Conscience, titled “How to Think About the Fetus.” She said that while the fetus might not be a person, it was part of the continuum of humanity. She wrote that the fetus “is not nothing,” and that women who consider abortion know that.

Ms. Kissling said that abortion rights leaders feared acknowledging the value of a fetus because they did not want to further stigmatize abortion. But, she contends, that reticence has cast the abortion rights movement as casual about the emotional realities of abortion.

“Women know that something is inside them, and they know that something will become a baby if they don’t act in some way,” she said. “I don’t think we could say anything to them about the value of fetal life that they haven’t thought of already.”

Many abortion rights leaders said the article was damaging, especially because it came out while politicians were considering bans on so-called partial-birth abortions. But others, including some in the anti-abortion camp, commended Ms. Kissling.

“With her approach, she has found the real-life stuff,” said Representative Ryan, a Catholic who opposes abortion. “Those of us in the debate get hooked on philosophy and theory and dogma, and what Frances brings is reality: that abortion is a difficult decision for a woman.”

Ms. Kissling said she had decided to step down because she believed that her efficacy might soon wane, that she was on the “verge of becoming boring or predictable.” Jon O’Brien, 41, executive vice president of Catholics for a Free Choice, is to take over as president.

Ms. Kissling hopes to write a book about the value of the fetus, or teach, or finish the house she is building on the coast of Uruguay, she said. She has no plans to leave the Catholic Church.

“There are days when I think I can’t be a Catholic and that I want to go join a community where I am welcomed, honored, where I can join a parish,” she said. “But in the end, I don’t want to be a Methodist. I’m a member of the greatest religion in the world.”

There is so much in this that is just disgusting, I don't even know if I can go into it.

She wants to be "welcomed and honored"? Well, I'm sure that's what all the saints wanted, too, to be "honored." Humility, much? Welcomed? Well, maybe if you were actually, I don't know, Catholic . That might help.

And we're the "greatest religion in the world" (well, duh :)), but yet we “It abuses nuns, anyone who thinks, homosexuals, women who have abortions. It sexually abuses children. It treats people badly, and something has to be done to change its abusive nature.”
--abuse nuns: Haven't heard this one yet. What, they can't be priests? Hence the reason they are nuns
--anyone who thinks: I'm sure that Saints Thomas, Augustine, Terese of Avila, St. John of the Cross, JPII, and multiple others would be interested to hear that.
--homosexuals: We abuse them because we tell them to be actively homosexual is sinful? So are we "abusing" the rest of us heterosexuals by telling us we can't have unfettered sex? Hun?
--Women who have had abortions: Yup, because, you know, they can't received forgiveness via the Confessional. There's not Project Rachel or anything like that. We just tie them to the pillar. Right.
--Sexually abuses children: Well, OK. The Church is made up of imperfect people. They do bad things. We are not perfect, it's not an excuse, but this is not a solely Catholic problem. Kissling acts as if pedophila was some sort of church doctrine. Let's get real.
--Treats people badly: Yup, that's why there's a billion of us. That's why so many people will voluntarily join the Church this Easter. Because we treat people badly.

Sign of the Cross

Do Protestants make it?

I was reading over at Open Book an article about this and I realized I had never noticed if my Protestant friends do or not. The only time I've been in a church with them for a service was when they went with me to Mass, and even then I didn't notice.

Anyone know?

Lenten resources

Head over to Danielle Bean's site for some great Lenten web resources. It's on the right-hand sidebar.

And my favorite--lots on confession...something I need to do, again.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

First Sunday of Lent

OK I missed it, I'm in Shangri-la, give me a break. But apparently my church choir did very well. :)

Friday, February 23, 2007

ways to make holy the sabbath during Lent

h/t Amy:

Bishop Baker calls for a new dedication ot the Sabbath:

I invite all parishes in the Diocese of Charleston to begin the celebration of the Year of the Family by reclaiming the Sabbath for God and family. Because we have become distracted, overworked, and overcommitted to outside activities, Sunday has become just another work day. I challenge each of you to restore Sunday as a gift from the Father for the family to appreciate one another. We have lost the peace that God created for our day of rest, and we all should actively seek ways to invite God into the center of our families.

Some ideas to make this a reality:

Once a month, pray a parish family Rosary, followed by a covered dish with fun activities for youth and children.

Plan a pilgrimage to one of your favorite religious sites, such as the Shrine to Our Lady of Joyful Hope of South Carolina in Kingstree or Mepkin Abbey in Monck’s Corner.

Allow a member of the family to share fifteen minutes of scripture reading.

Refrain from any labor, shopping, and any private activity that conflicts with prayer or family involvement on a Sunday.

While your children or youth may be involved in faith formation on Sunday, try organizing activities with other parents and adults to enrich your faith and friendships.

Sounds like ideas even those of us w/o families can institute...

"Ordinary People"

I love this comment from Mark Shea's blog and what he would tell people that are considering joining the Church:

The main counsel I give anybody coming in to the Church is that "faith" means "you stay." The Catholic Church is and always has been the vessel of salvation for the *world*. That means that most of the people you meet are going to be *ordinary*--like you and me. They are going to have the ordinary tastes, prejudices, mediocrities, failures, and virtues of their time and place. There are, to be sure, great heros and extraordinary people in the Catholic communion. But to expect that as the norm and then be outraged and disappointed when it is not is, I think, great folly and, in the end, great pride. One of the things I came to appreciate very early was the counsel of Uncle Screwtape, who urges Wormwood to keep far from his "patient's" mind the thought, "If I, being what I am, can consider myself in some sense a Christian, then why can't these people next to me in the pew"?

Consequently, though I have been appalled by some of the sins that have been revealed in the ranks of the Church in the past few years, I've never been shocked. What did I expect? They're just sinners like I am, and I know what I'm capable of. In the same way, the stupid and tuneless OCP songs, the suburban Church of Aren't We Fabulous smugness, the Our Lady of Pizza Hut architecture, the True Meaning of the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes homilies, and the other stuff that sometimes ails the Church has never been sufficient to put me off. Because they are all just reminders that the Church, thank God, has room for people like me and that this mediocrity and averageness is a sign of the tremendous mercy of God for mediocre folk like myself.

"Well then," it may be asked, "if the Church is so mediocre, then why bother joining her?" To quote Walker Percy, "What else is there?" After all, it is not the Church that is mediocre, but only we, her members. The Church is, curiously, something that exists before she has any members, because it is founded not by us, but by Christ. The Church is the spotless Bride of Christ, made so by the Holy Spirit in the washing with water and the Word. We, her members, are generally nebbishes and schleps. But she is glorious and beautiful, terrible as an army with banners. And in her all the fullness of the deposit of faith subsists, a deposit through which, by the grace of God, I hope one day to be made perfect in love of God and neighbor. But it is not my job to immanentize the eschaton. So I can be more than merely content living in this strange divine sea of a Church, whose members are, like me, stunningly ordinary, but whose soul, the Holy Spirit, is slowly bringing us along "until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love." (Ephesians 4:13-16)

This is exactly why I am not scandalized by bad homilies, or bad singing, or when I hear of priestly scandals. It doesn't mean that I don't think they're wrong; it means that I'm aware the Church is made up of ordinary people, like me. If I consider what I am capable of, can I hold my fellow Catholics to any leser standard, even if they are priests or bishops? We are all human. We are all prone to sin. But yet the "gates of Hell" shall not prevail against the Church herself.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

In fitting with the theme of the below posts...

I wonder, for the millionth time, why it is that the only choice so many people are willing to allow is that to abort a child. --Jay Nordlinger, "Impromptus", 8/29/02


Bill Maher opens his mouth and removes all doubt

(h/t: Anchoress)

"When people say to me, 'You hate America,' I don't hate America. I love America. I am just embarrassed that it has been taken over by people like evangelicals, by people who do not believe in science and rationality. It is the 21st century. And I will tell you, my friend. The future does not belong to the evangelicals. The future does not belong to religion." --Bill Maher

As my eighth grade teacher said, "It is better to remain silent and have people think you a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt."

So let's work to change it!

I just did...
go to Feminists for Life and become a member. And check out their store. I love the "pro-woman, pro-life" bumper sticker. That might have to be coming to my house.

"We can do no great things, only small things with great love." --Mother Teresa

My patron saint, St. Therese of Lisieux, said essentially the same thing in her "Little Way." It's by touching one life at a time, living a life of witness and devotion to Jesus and His Church, that we can make a difference. And of course, the Rosary is a very powerful prayer, one that I don't think we use often enough. I'm as guilty of this as anyone else, although I have made a concerted effort to say a full set of mysteries daily. Some days I'm successful, other days, not. But I believe that no matter how "imperfectly" we may say it, Mary won't reject any prayers said in a devout spirit. She's our mom! How many mothers would take a child's fingerpainting that was done especially for her and criticize it? Not many! Instead it would go on the refrigerator in a place of pride. Let's pray to Mary that she exert her motherly influence on women who are considering abortion, to let them know there are so many of us out there who are willing to support, but spiritually and corporally, through this difficult time in their lives.

"Abortion is a moral good"

So says one of the fired Edwards bloggers (h/t Corner): (my comments in bold)

To see that abortion is moral, you just need to look at women as human beings with lives that have value. When a woman chooses abortion, she's not indulging some guilty pleasure, like sneaking in a round of adultery at lunch, to bring up a genuinely immoral action that should not be criminal. She is probably thinking about her family's well-being and yes, her own well-being. Taking your own well-being into consideration is called "selfish" by anti-choicers, but I think valuing yourself is a moral good, even if you are female. In fact, especially if you are female, since you live in a world where having self-esteem can be an act of moral courage that requires some defiance. If I got pregnant, I wouldn't even have to suffer much mental strain to realize that abortion would be the best choice for myself, my family, and my relationship. Abortion, not just the right to abortion but the actual procedure, is a moral good that helps women and families and should be honored as such. Women who get abortions should be recognized as people who can accurately weigh their choices and make the most moral one.

Wow. One doesn't even know where to begin. But first, I think you made the choice when you had sex. Abortion gives you self-esteem? You get some kind of twisted fulfilment in killing another human being? Instead of being responsible, abortion is the anthesis of responsibility. It says that you can have sex, sleep around and then just kill off the evidence, because you can't afford the consequences of your choices.

Learning that actions have consequences is one of the most basic life lessons. An abortion is the total repudiation of this thought, and the most horrific, because not only are you refusing to be an adult and take responsibility for what you have done, but you are causing deadly harm to a perfectly innocent individual. Abortion is "the most moral" decision? In whose book?

Abortion is a "moral good that helps women and families?" How does it help families-- it destroys families. It kills children,a rather integral part of that family experience. How is it a moral good for women? Why are there so many women who are haunted by their abortions and wish they could go back, so they could save their children? How many more testimonies do we need to hear about the psychological harm that can come from this procedure? I suppose one must be incredibly morally corrupt to think that the destruction of an innocent life is a "moral good." As Mother Teresa said, "It is a crime that a child must die so you may live as you wish."

And this touches upon even broader topics, such as the Left's opposition to war. How can they be against war, which can be fought justly, if the safest place in the world--a mother's womb--instead becomes one o the most dangerous? Where millions of babies' lives are taken every year? Abortions are unspeakably violent acts towards these children. Yet the Left is against wars that free people from oppression and allow them to finally have a chance to live their own lives and not have to worry about being taken away in the middle of the night and put through paper shredders, then buried in mass graves. The Left is against the death penalty, which could be argued as just (even though I take the Church's stance-that its use is only permittable in very, very rare occasions, as society does have a right to protect itself), but supports the killing of babies . Little, soft, tiny, cuddly babies whose only crime was being "inconveniently conceived." How is this a logical discourse?

Much prayer is needed to overcome this tragedy. As Lent comes upon us, I think part of my Lenten dedication will focus on the unborn, especially since, with advanced technology, parents can--and are--aborting children with genetic diseases at an alarming rate.Who knows if I would even be here if I was concieved later, and to different parents. It's a scary, and sobering, thought. God must weep when He thinks about it.

On prayer

Another good quote on Prayer from Rod, which he found in an magazine interview:

If you are successful in this prayer of repentance, you will come to understand that your prayer is your life, it is not a technique… “the technique of the Jesus Prayer.” It is not something that you are to combine with your breath, or with the beating of your heart. No, it is your life. All technical advice is something functional. Your prayer is your life - your life is your prayer. And if you are constant in this secret standing before the face of God, you will see that your heart begins to change. You will find your prayer becoming deeper and more attentive, and one day you will understand what it is to pray with all your heart, from the depths of your soul. When little children cry for something, they do it with all their being, and this is like real spiritual life. God will teach you how to conceal your pious intentions and thoughts, how to keep it such a secret that no one ever guesses what you have in your heart. You will be living a life completely unknown and unnoticed by anyone, and you will begin to love solitude as the most satisfying way of speaking with your Creator. The moment you begin to pray from your heart, asking for everything that the Holy Spirit finds appropriate and necessary for you, you will be instructed and enlightened.

Seems to me like an excellent approach to prayer to try this Lent.

prayer request

I don't usually do this, but I'm going to ask for y'all to say some extra prayers for me. Healthwise, things have been nutty since right after Thanksgiving, and right now I'm currently in Children's (also known as "The Resort") for testing and monitoring, etc., etc., etc. until we find out what this current issue is. It seems like after each infection I've gotten lately, we'll get rid of it to reveal something more insiduous underneath. Oh well.For more info on all this, you can go to my other blog, Bucket of Parts. which is all about my transplant, before, after and what's going on now.

Thank you!

** Since I was here on W, I didn't get to attend Ash Wednesday Mass. I will, however, be having fish on Friday...I ordered it on the hospital menu. :)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

A "kinder, gentler" Lent??

Maybe in some places. This
piece from Crunchy Cons is rather disturbing.

I'm not saying I think we should all wear hairshirts and all that and go back to fasting everyday or whatever. But I do think that the penitential nature of Lent is one of (it not is sole) defining characteristic. We need a little deprivation, a little simplification, to get to the heart of things every once in awhile. Lent provides this yearly annual renewal. It is a spiritual springtime, a time of growth and reawakening. This can't come without some sacrifice, some "winter" of the soul. So give me the ashes and all that. I can't fast (I'm diabetic) but I can devote more time to God like all the rest of you. And I can certainly abstain from meat.

Speaking of Lent, what are you giving up? What spiritual practices are you adding? Does your church do anything special for Lent? Here's what I've got going on:
--Joining a Faith Sharing Group at my parish.
--Reading from Magnificat's Lenten companion
--Reading from Lent and Easter with Pope John Paul II --great book. They also have them from different saints and such, and they do them for Advent/Christmas, too.
--No meat on Fridays, like y'all. :)
--Soup Suppers at my church on Wednesdays, where different church groups make soups for the parishioners. Donations go to Operation Rice Bowl. It's a great way to make a Lenten sacrifice (both by eating a "simpler" meal and donating the money, it doesn't have to be much), and, practically, it's right before my choir rehearsals. :) So a lot of choir members have dinner together at the soup supper and then go rehearse, which is fun, because ofte they bring their families and the kids are soooo cute. :)

bookshelf: Love In the Heart of the Church

I finished the Theresian spirituality book I'd begun about a week ago, and it was definitely better than I remembered it. The end, where Fr. O'Donnell talks about Therese's charisms and spiritual gifts, I didn't find quite as intellectually rewarding as some of the earlier chapters, but it is a generally good guide to her overall theology. It's more "scholarly" the most of the books I've read, so if you're just diving in, this may not be the best place to start. It was also written in 1997, before she was declared a Doctor of the Church, so the epilogue regarding if she should be named one is sort of moot by now. A revised version of this book, reflecting recent scholarship and, of course, the Doctoral designation, would make it a stronger piece of work in general. But overall, a good book, very well documented with emphasis on "original" sources, i.e., the true sources as written by Therese herself and not edited by her family or others.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Reaction to the Pope's message

From Fr. Z:

Pope’s Message for Lent released
CATEGORY: SESSIUNCULUM — Fr. John Zuhlsdorf @ 5:09 pm

The Holy Father’s Message for Lent was released today. I was at the Press conference with S.E. Mons. Paul Josef Cordes, President of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum", who made the presentation along with others.

The document was signed on 21 November 2006. It is very short. It constitutes quite a break with Messages of the past. This message is strongly theological, providing starting points. Messages in the past were strong practical, exploring themes like “Marginalization of the Poor” (1977) and “World Hunger” (1996). This time he is much more explicitly theocentric, returning to the fundamental building block of Deus caritas est. Cordes said that he could only speculate why the Holy Father has changed the style of the Lenten message.

Cordes, in his comments, seemed to desire to bring the discussion away from the theological dimension and right away pass to the concrete exercise of charity. In a way I had the sense that he wanted to talk about something other than the message. To accomplish this they enlisted the help of an old Italian priest Fr. Oreste Benzi, founder of the “Pope John XXIII” houses which work for the marginalized. Benizi gave a sustained fervorino (over a half hour). His experience working with the very difficult cases life can reveal reminded me that there are those who service the Church at a desk and those who serve at a gutter or a bedside.

Benizi, clearly a man who has zealous love for the poor pretty bluntly said that there should be no restraints on immigration and everyone should be given a job. I am not sure how that it is be done… perhaps some "redistribution of wealth"? Anyway, the guy had real fervor. One very insightful comment he made concerned the late and the present Holy Father and how they are seen by young people. Benizi said young people are not just following or “running after” the singer, but also after the song. This about the reaction that young people are having for Pope Benedict XVI in light of the great popularity of the late Pope John Paul II. In other words after the great cult of person that surrounded the late Pope people are very much on fire to hear what Pope Benedict has to say.

Back to the Message.

The first paragraph presents the major theme, “They shall look on Him whom they have pierced." This is strongly reminiscent of the title of a book Joseph Ratzinger published years ago: Behold The Pierced One. It also calls to mind how the late Holy Father called us to direct our gaze, through Mary with the Rosary, to Christ’s face.

The Pope in the Message returned to the theme he addressed in Deus caritas est, that is, of apage and eros.

He starts with Biblical texts and moves to Patristic texts as well as the Neo-platonic Christian writer Pseudo-Dionysius. The letter is strongly Patristic. Cited are St. Maximus Confessor (Ambigua 91, 1956), and St. John Chrysostom (Catecheses 3,14 ff) on how the water and Blood from the side of Christ are symbols of the sacraments of Baptism (water) and Eucharist (Blood). The Pope quotes a certain N. Cabasilas. I am not sure who he is right at the moment.

You can read the thing yourself pretty quickly, and I advise you to do so. I will only point out a couple things I found immediately interesting.

The Pope returned to a Ratzingerian theme of self-sufficiency. I find this often in the Pope’s writings. In the Message he wrote:

“Unfortunately, from its very origins, mankind, seduced by the lies of the Evil One, rejected God’s love in the illusion of self-sufficiency that is impossible (cf. Gn 3:1-7). Turning in on himself, Adam withdrew from that source of life who is God Himself, and became the first of “those who through fear of death were subjected to lifelong bondage” (Heb 2:15). God, however, did not give up. On the contrary, man’s “no” was the decisive impulse that moved Him to manifest His love in all of its redeeming strength.” Also in the message: “We need to respond to such love and dedicate ourselves to communicating it to others. Christ “draws me to Himself” in order to unite Himself to me, so that I learn to love the brothers with His love.”

The reference to "fear of death" is not only biblical, it is greatly expanded on by St. Augustine of Hippo, whom the Pope has long studied.

Here is a nice point for those who are married. It reminds me of something I would stress in marriage prep:

“In all truth, only the love that unites the free gift of self with the impassioned desire for reciprocity instills a joy, which lightens the greatest sacrifices.” In this phrase we have the union of agape (gift of self) and eros (impassioned desire).

"Looking on Him whom they have pierced" will help us to see people with greater respect, recognizing the wounds inflicted on humanity, but also to “alleviate the tragedies of loneliness and abandonment of so many people.” This redirection of our gaze to the Crucified Christ should bring us to concrete acts of love toward neighbor are, as the Holy Father puts it, “Only in this way shall we be able to participate fully in the joy of Easter.”

H.E. Cordes can back strongly to the idea that in this Message it is not being suggest that service of God substitute the service of man. He tried to emphasize that there is a balance needed between them. The one should be made more authentic by the other. This is also a theme of Deus caritas est.

BXVI's new Lenten message-- a change from JPII

Looks like B XVI is going to take a different angle with Lent this year. From


Benedict XVI's Lenten message seeks to show how faith leads to charity's deepest dimensions, a Vatican official explained.

Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum," presented the papal message today in the Vatican press office.

The message is centered around the mystery of Christ's sacrifice on the cross.

The prelate began his address by explaining how the command of charity is culturally accepted.

He said: "Worldwide entrepreneurs, for example, Bill Gates or Warren Buffet, establish social foundations; film stars and politicians invite to charity dinners; governments create friends for themselves in public opinion thanks to international cooperation; and great fund-raising endeavors -- at times for catastrophes -- in some cases reach considerable quantities.

"As Christians we can observe, not without satisfaction, that in social life the biblical commandment of love of neighbor seems universally accepted."


Archbishop Cordes pointed out that the Pope's message for Lent "is considerably different" than previous ones, written by him or by Pope John Paul II.

Previous messages have focused on "works of charity in the sense of Christians' social commitment," the prelate said. This time, the Pontiff "forcefully places God the Father of Jesus Christ at the center." Therefore, the focus is not anthropocentric but theocentric.

"The Holy Father is less concerned with the horizontal dimension, in order to bring into clearer light the vertical dimension of Christian living," he added.

"This change of thought can be observed in general in Benedict XVI's preaching," Achbishop Cordes stated.

He added that in the Pope's encyclical or in other discourses, the central theme is always the love of the Father in heaven becoming man in the Son Jesus Christ.


I've begun a new book of Theresian theology (well, it's not new, it was published in '97, and I've had it for a few years), Love in the Heart of the Church by Christopher O'Donnell, ODC (I think he's an ODC). The first time I read it was soon after my Confirmation, so I must've gotten it when it first came out. Anyway, at the time, it was way over my head and I didn't really know that much about the young nun I had chosen as my patron saint, other than the biographical basics and the "Little Way" idea. (I was 14, come on) But now I've gotten fairly into it, have read Story of a Soul as well as some other works about her life, so I felt ready to dive back in.

So far he's discussed her influences, the creation/finding of critical (i.e., not edited by her family) texts, and things like that. We've also covered the Oblation to Merciful Love and the difference between a Victim Soul and a Soul who has offered herself to Jesus' love, not His justice. I have found this to be an interesting distinction, since so many of us think of "victim souls" or "offering up suffering" as a Justice thing. I will write more as this develops.


From today's Magnificat meditation:

"Go on joyfully and with your heart as open and widely trustful as possible; and if you cannot always be joyful, at least be brave and confident."
--St. Francis de Sales

Happy Valentine's Day!

The church actually recognizes three St.Valentines, so I'm not sure who I should be talking about here. :) But my version is that he was a Roman martyr. Unfortunately, my valentine is not here (bah long-distance relationships), but if you have one, be sure to spend some time being nice to each other today. Actually, you should be doing that everyday. But I digress.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

One little indian left...

(OK that might not be a PC title, but whatever)

One of the infamous Edwards bloggers has quit.

But she didn't go quietly...from her blog yesterday:

No matter what you think about the campaign, I signed on to be a supporter and a tireless employee for them, and if I can't do the job I was hired to do because Bill Donohue doesn't have anything better to do with his time than harass me, then I won't do it," Marcotte wrote Monday night.

Earlier Monday, Marcotte wrote on her personal Web site, "The Christian version of the virgin birth is generally interpreted as super-patriarchal, where … women are nothing but vessels.

Here's Rod's take on it.

Rejoice O Heavenly powers!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Edwards saga continues

with this Newsweek article.

Rob at Crunchy Cons discusses the article here.

And the Catholic League replies

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Edwards bloggers

**Warning: this post might contain language that normal people will find offensive. I find it offensive and vulgar, myself, but find it important to post it so people know what we're talking about.

So John Edwards is running for President (we think). He hires two women to run the Internet aspect of his campaign, the "Net-roots" and the Internet, generally (I believe). Now, as any members of a national campaign would be, their credentials were examined by people oth than members of the Edwards campaign. On Tuesday we found out just what kind of people are "qualified" to work for the Edwards campaign.

So, what did we find?

I first read about the brouhaha over on National Review, where I find everything, in this article
by Katherine Lopez (K-Lo, to us Corner addicts). Some of the choice bits:

Q: What if Mary had taken Plan B after the Lord filled her with his hot, white, sticky Holy Spirit?
A: You’d have to justify your misogyny with another ancient mythology.

That update on the Baltimore Catechism comes via Amanda Marcotte of the Pandagon blog in her “FAQ ON THE CATHOLIC CHURCH’S ‘CRAZY’ TEACHINGS ABOUT BIRTH CONTROL.” In it she explains that “the intent” of “mainstream Catholic teaching” on artificial contraception “is to make women suspect their gynecologists* are out to get them and possibly kill some babies for fun.”

If Edwards cares to continue to browse through the Pandagon archives, he’ll find Marcotte reacting to a story about the Catholic teaching about limbo by comparing the Catholic Church to fascist dictators.

She continues:

There’s a pragmatic reason that the Vatican might be a little hesitant to come right out and say that there’s no limbo (definition here, for those who don’t know much about Catholicism) is because the concept is wielded by everyday Catholics to explain where the souls of unborn babies go, which is just an extra way to guilt trip women who have abortions. But it’s sort of a balancing act, as far as I can tell, because as most people understand it, unbaptized children go to limbo but when Jesus returns, they all get to go to heaven. So it’s a way to guilt trip women who have abortions without casting god as such an uncruel monster as to throw souls into hell that never even had a shot at sinning. So that’s limbo: it sucks enough to make women feel guilty about abortion, but it doesn’t suck so much as to run people off.

I suspect Pope Ratz will give into the urge eventually to come out and say there’s no limbo and unbaptized babies go straight to hell. He can’t help it; he’s just a dictator like that. Hey, fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, the Pope’s gotta tell women who give birth to stillborns that their babies are cast into Satan’s maw. The alternative is to let Catholic women who get abortions feel that it’ll all work out in the end, which is just not doable, due to that Jesus-like compassion the Pope is so fond of. Still, it’s going to be bad PR for the church, so you can sort of see why the Pope is dragging ass.

Which all brings me to recommending this great post by Austin Cline at Jesus’ General about why authoritarian types are so damn interested in cobbling people’s sex lives and meddling around in people’s private sexual decisions, like in this case why the Catholic church is so interested in making sure that people can’t make the perfectly sound decision to limit their family size while enjoying a healthy sex life—either you’re going to have to forgo birth control or you’re going to have to feel guilty to the point where you fear you’re casting babies into hellfire, by their standards. It’s a way to disrupt people’s lives so the church can get more control.

Yep, that damn patriarchy, that’s what it’s all about — has nothing to do with a sacrament of marriage or other nonsense Catholics believe.

Marcotte is clearly a staffer who should have been vetted a bit more. She represents someone John Edwards ought not be employing and serves as a warning to other candidates as they gather blogosphere supporters on their payrolls on their road to the White House. The lesson is fairly simple: Google first.

Now, to prove this isn't just a "right-wing" thing, Terry Moran of ABC picked up the thread here.

From that bit:
If a Republican candidate teamed up with a right-wing blogger who spewed this kind of venom, how would people react? Is the mere raising of this issue a kind of underhanded censorship, a way of ruling out of bounds some kinds of opinion? Are we all just going to have to get used to a more rough-and-tumble, profane, and even hate-filled public arena in the age of the blogosphere?


Last year, Marcotte blasted the Catholic Church's position on birth control: "Q: What if Mary had taken Plan B after the Lord filled her with his hot, white, sticky Holy Spirit? A: You’d have to justify your misogyny with another ancient mythology." (Side note: Would there be a different reaction if John Edwards "blogmaster" had insulted Islam to this degree? Is it "okay" to trash Catholicism--but not Islam?)

Um, no, Terry, I think we know the answer to that. If someone had done this to a sacred teaching of Islam, there would be widespread denouncements and probably the normal "Death to America!" There's no way they would get away with it. And we know it. But being anti-Catholic in America is the last acceptable prejudice (there's even a book about it).

Well, lo and behold, the bloggers are still around, even after some of these disgusting things:

ABC News' Kate Snow Reports: Former Sen. John Edwards' spokesperson says that contrary to some media reports, two campaign staffers have NOT been fired in the wake of criticism of their recent blog postings.

Campaign bloggers Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwen are still employed by the Edwards campaign and will continue to blog, according to campaign spokesperson David Ginsberg.

"They were hired last month and nothing has changed," Ginsberg said.

Sen. John Edwards, who is running for the democratic '08 nomination, released a statement today reprimanding two of his controversial campaign bloggers for their personal writings-- but stopped short of firing them.

"The tone and the sentiment of some of Amanda Marcotte's and Melissa McEwen's posts personally offended me," said Sen. Edwards in a statement to media.

"It's not how I talk to people, and it's not how I expect the people who work for me to talk to people. . .but that kind of intolerant language will not be permitted from anyone on my campaign," he said.

However the Senator didn't say he would fire his bloggers.

"I also believe in giving everyone a fair shake," he said. "I've talked to Amanda and Melissa; they have both assured me that it was never their intention to malign anyone's faith, and I take them at their word."
Campaign spokesperson David Ginsberg tells ABC News, "They'll be doing there jobs as they have been," he said.

The women had come under fire recently for controversial writings that they independently wrote on their personal blogs, before being hired by the Edwards campaign.

Um, OK. Sure. Just shows what John Edwards' campaign thinks about the Catholic vote. But, as Bill Donahue of the Catholic League says,
“John Edwards has apparently decided that there is more to be gained by aligning himself with the cultural left than by standing on principle and firing the Catholic bashers on his payroll. Had anyone on his staff used the ‘N-word,’ he or she would have been fired immediately. But his goal is to loot the pockets of the Soros/Hollywood gang, and they—like him—aren’t offended by anti-Catholicism. Indeed, they thrive on it.

“When Mel Gibson got drunk and made anti-Semitic remarks, he paid a price for doing so. When Michael Richards got angry and made racist remarks, he paid a price for doing so. When Isaiah Washington got ticked off and made anti-gay remarks, he paid a price for doing so. But John Edwards thinks the same rules don’t apply to him, which is why he has chosen to embrace foul-mouthed anti-Catholic bigots on his payroll.
“Edwards said today that ‘We’re beginning a great debate about the future of our country, and we can’t let it be hijacked.’ I have news for him—the Catholic League—not Edwards—will decide what the debate will be about, and it won’t be about the nation. It will be about the glaring double standard that colors the entire conversation about bigotry.
“We will launch a nationwide public relations blitz that will be conducted on the pages of the New York Times, as well as in Catholic newspapers and periodicals. It will be on-going, breaking like a wave, starting next week and continuing through 2007. It will be an education campaign, informing the public of what he did today. We will also reach out to our allies in the Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist communities. They worked with us before on many issues, and are sure to do so again. What Edwards did today will not be forgotten.”

This whole thing just discourages me, and disgusts me, as both a Catholic and a voter. The fact that this kind of stuff is allowed in politics just seems over the line. The fact that we refuse to hold the people who represent our presidential candidates to any kind of standard (at least on the Ds side) depresses me. And the fact that the party of the only Catholic president is the one doing this is equally distressing. Where's Teddy Kennedy? Or good old Lurch? Or even Queen Nancy? Oh, wait. We're CINOs so it's OK.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Archbishop Wuerl's First Pastoral Letter

here. (h/t Amy) The topic? My favorite! Confession!!

But I guess it is quite topical given that Lent begins in (gulp) almost two weeks!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Feast of St. Agatha

Who is the patron saint of breast disorders, by the way, according to one of my saints books. Apparently they (the Romans?) tried to cut them off with spears but they regrew, so they did it again and beheaded her. That, apparently, did the trick. She was also a virgin, of course. Seems like all those Ancient Roman female martyrs were virgins, even if they got married.

Bishop Schori in USA Today

One of my favorite Protestants goes at it again in today's USA Today re: the Tanzania conference and the split of the ECUSA. Here
is the bishop as she "stands for a new era."

Um, a new era of what, precisely? Hmm? She says some interesting things, like it's "Not her place" to decide who is saved. Well, of course none of us know that. That is God's domain. But at the same time, the Bible gives a good idea of sinful behavior. And homosexuality is part of it. How can you lead a church if you can't agree with what the Bible explicitly teaches?

B XVI to engaged couples

From The Hermit:

If you are engaged to be married, God has a project of love for your future as a couple and as a family. Therefore, it is essential that you discover it with the help of the Church, free from the common prejudice that says that Christianity with its commandments and prohibitions places obstacles to the joy of love and impedes you from fully enjoying the happiness that a man and woman seek in their reciprocal love. The love of a man and woman is at the origin of the human family and the couple formed by a man and a woman has its foundation in God’s original plan (cf Gen 2:18-25). Learning to love each other as a couple is a wonderful journey, yet it requires a demanding “apprenticeship”. The period of engagement, very necessary in order to form a couple, is a time of expectation and preparation that needs to be lived in purity of gesture and words. It allows you to mature in love, in concern and in attention for each other; it helps you to practise self-control and to develop your respect for each other. These are the characteristics of true love that does not place emphasis on seeking its own satisfaction or its own welfare. In your prayer together, ask the Lord to watch over and increase your love and to purify it of all selfishness. Do not hesitate to respond generously to the Lord’s call, for Christian matrimony is truly and wholly a vocation in the Church. Likewise, dear young men and women, be ready to say “yes” if God should call you to follow the path of ministerial priesthood or the consecrated life. Your example will be one of encouragement for many of your peers who are seeking true happiness.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

"Teach us how to pray"

Great post from Rob over at Crunchy Cons about a Christian prayer life, how it evolves, and how we pray. Definitely worth checking out.

From the beginning:
Marshall McLuhan once said that he came into the Catholic Church "on my knees." He meant that the only way to truly become a Catholic (or, I think it's fair to say, a serious Christian of any sort) is through prayer. I think he's right; rather, I know from my personal experience that he's right. As I've indicated before in my writing, it was the neglect of regular prayer that set me up for a brittleness that was finally broken under the serious stresses of my spiritual life with regard to my relationship to the Church. I had made the error of thinking that as long as I had the intellectual side worked out, and fulfilled my sacramental duties, that I would be fine. But it's not true. As I look back over my life as an adult Christian, it's plain to me that the times of the greatest spiritual fruitfulness have been times when I followed a regular rule of prayer. And not just petitionary prayer, but prayer in the sense of disciplining the mind to be still in the presence of the Holy, and to seek to be filled up with God. That's so difficult for me, because my mind is always racing, always seeking stimulation. I lose focus, I get nervous, I break my rule. The rule of prayer is the one thing that will keep me on the right path, yet it is the hardest thing for me to stick to, because it requires ... stillness. I can spend hours reading books about prayer, but actually praying, well, that's the hard thing.>

Happy First Saturday...


--Feast of St. Blaise (blessing of Throats)
--The Presentation of the Lord (yesterday)/ Candlemass (I have always been partial to the "old-school" name of the Feast, which celebrates Mary's purification after the birth of Jesus).

How many of you celebrate First Friday/Saturday? I know that some of it involves 15 (or, I guess, 20, now) decades of the Rosary, Mass, and Confession. Anything else I'm missing? It's the confession, as usual, that kills me. One of these days I've got to get over my avoidance of this sacrament. And the Mass is hard, too, during choir season, since we sing Sunday morning. But I suppose one can go to both the Vigil and the Sunday Mass proper?

Any answers to these questions would be great. :)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Suffering has meaning

From Catholic Exchange's daily Word of Encouragement feature (you can sign up using the link above):

Jan 30, 2007
Suffering Has Meaning!

Colossians 1:24
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of His body, that is, the Church.

Some people complain that the Catholic Church's theology is a "theology of suffering." By this, they mean to accuse the Church of encouraging people to knuckle under in hardship instead of striving to right the wrongs of the world. It is an accusation that the Church is one vast attempt to make a human being into a sheep. Of course, in the next breath, such people also often accuse the Church of making people too warlike, but we won't address that contradictory complaint today. Rather, we simply point out that whether or not we have a theology of suffering, we all suffer anyway. The Church does not discourage people from fighting injustice just look at Archbishop Oscar Romero, Dorothy Day or Pope John Paul II. But it does discourage us from believing the lie that all the suffering we endure is just meaningless junk that has no purpose, goes nowhere, and does no good. Secularity, which regards pain as the highest evil, simply throws up its hands in mute helplessness at the tho
ught of suffering. The most creative thing it can think to do in the face of it is to kill the sufferer with euthanasia. Catholic belief, founded on faith in the Crucified One, rebukes this lie and affirms that even our suffering brother and sister has something to give to the Church. Today, make an offering of your sufferings to God for the sake of His body, which is the Church. You have a share in the precious gift of Christ to His people thereby. You become part of His gift.
Just a Word of Encouragement from Mark Shea and Jeff Cavins.

Monday, January 29, 2007

The Church hasn't supported her!

This is interesting twist on the Church's politics from both Amy and Rob: (NOTE: The speaker is her daughter, Alexandra)

During Nancy Pelosi's speaker celebrations this month, as the Pelosi clan drove through the streets of Washington and Baltimore together, some protesters held up signs that read, "Pelosi Preys on Children" -- a reference to the speaker's pro-choice stand, which contradicts church doctrine.

" My mother, throughout her entire life, has been faithful to the church, even though the church has not been that faithful to her because of her politics. And I think that takes a lot of perseverance," she says. "And still, people protest her right to go to her own church."

Um, wow. This is really spin at its worst, because it makes no sense. She is not, and cannot befaithful to the Church if she doesn't follow Church teachings!! Hello! This is the most basic tenet of any religion. If you don't follow what it believes, then you aren't being faithful. She is rabidly pro-choice. Rabidly. We all know that. That's totally against Catholic doctrine. To have the temerity to say that the church hasn't been faithful to her is just a statement that is beyond ridiculous.

How she cannot be denied communion in D.C. is just beyond me.

More to that Shrek song

I love the movie Shrek, and I especially love the "Hallelujah" song that is sung near the end, when it looks like Shrek and Fiona are parted for good. But I never knew the lyrics.
Well thanks to Anchoress, I have finally found the lyrics to that song. And there's a lot more to them than I originally thought (emphases mine):

I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played and it pleased the Lord

But you don't really care for music, do you?
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah


Your faith was strong, but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you
To a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah
A Samson and Delilah reference?


Baby I've been here before, I know this room
I've walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you
I've seen your flag on the Marble Arch
Love is not a victory march
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah


There was a time you let me know
What's really going on below
But now you never show it to me, do you?
I remember when I moved in you
And the holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah
love in the physical relationship--TOB stuff, maybe? Or at least it could be construed that way.


Maybe there's a God above, all I ever learned from love
Was how to shoot at someone who out drew you
And it's not a cry you can hear at night
It's not somebody who's seen the light
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah


Wow, I mean, look at some of that. We've got King David, Samson and Delilah, the "holy dove" moving when the lovers were together. Whew! Pop culture can, occasionally, surprise us--in a good way.

Sunday, January 28, 2007


This post from The Anchoressreally struck a chord with me, so I thought I'd share my thoughts on it here. In a strange coincidence, I will be posting this on both this blog and my TX blog, since they have to do with both health and faith, two things very close to me.

The Anchoress talks about the day her doctor told her she was losing her hearing due to Lyme Disease. Well, having lost a good deal of my hearing due to drugs pre-tx, I can relate to her feelings of shock and dismay. And even anger. Both her sons are musicians. I am a musician. Of all the things that had been taken from me, this was the one that really hit home. I mean, it was what I did. I was a singer. I had been trained in classical singing. Music was the thing for me. In college, I really developed and ear and was coming up with good relative pitch (OK, not as good as Tiff, who has perfect pitch, but we can't all be perfect). We first noticed (well, my friends noticed) in my later years at college that I wouldn't hear them when they asked me things, or were talking to me. I chalked it up as being distracted or involved in my work. Even as a kid, when I was reading, if you tried to talk to me it could be very hard to get my attention.

But I didn't just have good hearing, I had great hearing. I could hear my name being whispered two rooms away. It drove my parents crazy. I never did the loud rock concerts, loud walkmans, whatever, that ruins your hearing. And yet, the drugs that saved my life in the end took away quite a bit of it.

Fortunately, God has blessed me with the ability to still have my music. Some of the upper, upper registers are gone but I have pretty good musical memory. And that's what singing is, hearing the pitch in your head. So if it's a song I know (and, thank God, I know many) I'm OK. I can go to musicals that I've known and loved and still enjoy them. I can learn new pieces, as well, and my musicals abilities haven't abandoned me. In regular conversation, however, it's another story. People get frustrated because I can't hear them. Well, I'm frustrated because I can't hear them. When I'm in a noisy restaurant and everyone's complaining because they can't hear each other, I always say, "welcome to my world." It makes them a bit more conscious. There's nothing more inane about being mad at someone for being unable to physically do something. It's stupid.

The Anchoress also writes about the Dark Night of the Soul, how God uses people in their weakness. I love the concept of the Dark Night. To me, it is very comforting to know that those who are closest to God can also be, at times, the farthest from him. St. Terese of Avila, I believe, calls these periods of "aridity," like being in the desert. Immediately before St. Therese of Lisieux's death, she was in severe aridity. She couldn't pray, she doubted her vocation, she doubted the existence of Heaven. Now I haven't doubted the existence of Heaven, but I have been in one of these periods lately. Not just because of the hearing problems, but because of the health issues overall, and how dependent they can make you. Dependent on other people, when we all want to be as independent as possible. We don't want other people giving us meds, washing our hair. These are things we have been able to do since childhood, or can handle ourselves. To be reduced to an almost sub-child position can be intolerable. But to not have the support is the worst of all. And when it seems God is silent...

I remember something I read once, from a letter Mother Teresa wrote to her confessor (I think). She said that sometimes she found her mission almost too hard to accept. She couldn't do it. And she would pick up her rosary, very deliberately, and just say it. The Creed. The Our Father. The Hail Marys. The mysteries. Just going through it, almost, if I may say, mechanically, until she reached the end. And it would be enough.

I have taken this strategy to heart. When it is too much, I take my beads, whichever set is handy, and just pray them, letting whatever is in my heart be opened and presented before God and Mary. They know what is there. And, in the end, it is enough.

Friday, January 26, 2007

"Silence is the ally of atrocity"

Here is my cousin, Bishop Wuerl's, comments on Right to Life on Monday.


I will be upgrading my web browser this weekend so I can make this blog more user-friendly by inserting links, block quote demarcations, and things like that. Hopefully you will like the changes!

Detroit Bishop no longer a pastor...

and I can't say I'm surprised.
This is from the NY Times , and the general argument is that Bishop Gumbelton is being stripped of his duties b/c of his involvement with SNAP and SB 17 here in Ohio (which I have written about previously). As many of you know, the church sex scandal didn't really affect me all that much. I wasn't outraged, I didn't lose my faith, etc. I have always known that the Church is made up of imperfect men--that's just the way it is. Yes, they do horrible things. I am not excusing them, and they should be punished for what they did. But I also take some of these sex abuse stories with a bug grain of salt, and I think that the 20-30 year gap that SB 17 here in Ohio considered was far too long. I know a lot of people have beefs with the church and these are "he said, she said" things. The church here has even set up a coounseling network and set aside money so people can get the help they need. But SNAP members write to papers and say that that's not enough. No matter what the church here does, it's not enough. And, to be honest, that makes me mad.

I found this part of the article to be particularly interesting (emphasis mine)

Bishop Gumbleton, though he never led a diocese, is known nationally in church circles as a liberal maverick. He co-founded the peace ministry Pax Christi and accompanied antiwar delegations to Haiti and Iraq. He broke ranks with church teaching by preaching in favor of acceptance of gay men and lesbians and the ordination of women.

Last January, he lobbied in favor of a bill in Ohio to extend the statute of limitations and allow victims of sexual abuse to sue the church many years after they were abused. He said he was speaking out because he had been abused by a priest as a teenage seminarian and knew how hard it was to speak publicly even decades later. Bishops in Ohio opposed the bill, which failed.

So Bishop Gumbleton doesn't exactly seem to be following the playbook, so to speak, when it comes to Church doctrine. Is it possible, just possible, that may that that something to do with it? That the higher-ups finally got wind of this stuff and decided, "uh huh, we're not having this?" Just a thought.

Here's the article:

Outspoken Catholic Pastor Replaced; He Says It’s Retaliation
Published: January 26, 2007
In his last Mass as pastor at the inner-city parish in Detroit where he had served for 23 years, Auxiliary Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton told his parishioners that he was forced to step down as pastor because of his lobbying efforts on behalf of the victims of sexual abuse by members of the clergy, a stance that put him in opposition to his fellow bishops.

Enlarge This Image

Matt Sullivan/Reuters
Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton at a recent news conference in Ohio.
Last weekend, the archbishop of Detroit, Cardinal Adam Maida, sent a letter to the parish, St. Leo, saying Bishop Gumbleton had to be removed because of church rules on retirement. But as Bishop Gumbleton, who turns 77 on Friday and had already retired last year as a bishop, told his parish last Sunday, there are many pastors even older than he who are allowed to continue serving.

“I’m sure it’s because of the openness with which I spoke out last January concerning victims of sex abuse in the church. So we’re all suffering the consequences of that, and yet, I don’t regret doing what I did because I still think it was the right thing to do,” he said, as the congregation rose and erupted in applause.

Bishop Gumbleton, though he never led a diocese, is known nationally in church circles as a liberal maverick. He co-founded the peace ministry Pax Christi and accompanied antiwar delegations to Haiti and Iraq. He broke ranks with church teaching by preaching in favor of acceptance of gay men and lesbians and the ordination of women.

Last January, he lobbied in favor of a bill in Ohio to extend the statute of limitations and allow victims of sexual abuse to sue the church many years after they were abused. He said he was speaking out because he had been abused by a priest as a teenage seminarian and knew how hard it was to speak publicly even decades later. Bishops in Ohio opposed the bill, which failed.

A spokesman for the archdiocese of Detroit, Ned McGrath, said Bishop Gumbleton’s removal from St. Leo Parish had nothing to do with his lobbying on sexual abuse or his political stands.

All bishops are required at age 75 to submit resignation letters to the pope, Mr. McGrath said, and the pope has the option to accept or reject the resignation. Bishop Gumbleton’s resignation was accepted last year, and, Mr. McGrath said, “it was with the understanding that he would give up any pastoral office.”

Cardinal Maida announced in his letter to parishioners that he had appointed a new pastor, the Rev. Gerard Battersby.

In his brief remarks at Mass on Sunday, Bishop Gumbleton told the parish that after he turned 75, he had sent a separate resignation letter to Cardinal Maida asking to stay on as pastor at St. Leo’s on a year-by-year basis. He said he was surprised by his sudden replacement.

“I did not choose to leave St. Leo’s,” he said. “It’s something that was forced upon me.”

Three canon lawyers interviewed on Thursday said there was nothing in canon law that would prohibit an archbishop from permitting a retired auxiliary bishop from serving as a pastor after 75.

Bishop Gumbleton, who has already moved out of his room behind the church and plans to move into an apartment in Detroit, did not respond to an interview request. A video of his remarks during Mass was taken by a parishioner and posted on the Web site of the National Catholic Reporter, an independent Catholic weekly newspaper that publishes a column by Bishop Gumbleton.

Mary M. Black, a parishioner at St. Leo’s, said: “Almost universally, everyone in the parish is hurt and angry and upset and bewildered.”

Ms. Black said: “He talks after Mass with people, and he is there ahead of Mass to say the rosary for anybody who has problems. And we all have his personal phone number. You do not have to go through a secretary. He was a pastor in the truest sense of the word.”

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Healing the trauma

Here is a good article about speaking out in the post-abortion ministry. Also links to helpful organizations.

"Abortion or a son"

From Catholic Exchange, this is a poignant article about one family's decision to be "pro-life." Very appropriate as Monday is the anniversary of Roe v. Wade .

As a side note, the Diocese of Columbus will hold a special Mass in remembrance of that decision on Monday at 10 a.m. at St. Joseph's Cathedral, with Bishop Campbell presiding. There will also be a "Youth for Life" rally (though all ages are welcome) at the Statehouse, corner of Broad and High, at noon.

Mary and the Evangelicals

Great pots over at First Things on Evangelicals and the "Mary issue." Well worth reading. Here's a bit:
So why should evangelicals participate in and celebrate the Marian moment that seems to be upon us? The answer is: Precisely because they are evangelicals, that is, gospel people and Bible people. Mary has a pivotal and irreducible place in the Bible, and evangelicals must reclaim this aspect of biblical teaching if we are to be faithful to the whole counsel of God. When it comes to the gospel, Mary cannot be shunted aside or relegated to the affectionate obscurity of the annual Christmas pageant. In the New Testament, she is not only the mother of the redeemer but also the first one to whom the gospel was proclaimed and, in turn, the first one to proclaim it to others. Mary is named a “herald” of God’s good news. We cannot ignore the messenger, because the message she tells is about the salvation of the world.

Evangelical retrieval of a proper biblical theology of Mary will give attention to five explicit aspects of her calling and ministry: Mary as the daughter of Israel, as the virgin mother of Jesus, as Theotokos, as the ?handmaiden of the Word, and as the mother of the Church. Consider Mary’s first title, Daughter of Israel. Mary stands, along with John the Baptist, at a unique point of intersection in the biblical narrative between the Old and the New Covenants. When Mary cradles the baby Jesus in the Temple in the presence of Anna and Simeon, we see brought together the advent of the Lord’s messiah, and the long-promised and long-prepared-for “consolation of Israel.” The holy family is portrayed as part of a wider community, namely “all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38).

The Church in China

Apprently BXVI is getting ready to send them a letter about the current situation...

Scared Space

I recently discovered, via Danielle Bean , a new daily prayer site from the Irish Jesuits called Sacred Space. OK, so it's new to me. But anyway, go check it out. It is a great way to help with your daily prayer, and you can do it at work!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Following up

on my St. Elizabeth Seton post from yesterday is this comment from Peter Robinson in the corner:

Re: Questions About God [Peter Robinson]

Michael Novak writes, “I do wish our atheist brothers and sisters would learn a little more than they now know about the profound and thoughtful sorts of believers that surround them, by the millions.”

Me too. I’m always a little taken aback when someone attacks religion because life can prove painful and unjust or because prayers often go unanswered, as if believers simply hadn’t noticed. Praying in Gethsemane, for example, Jesus himself offers a petition that goes unanswered, asking to be spared the bitter cup of crucifixion. Pain? Injustice? Take a look at the Church calendar. The day after Christmas? The feast of St. Stephen, a blameless man executed by stoning. Two days after that? The feast of the Holy Innocents, the infant males whom Herod had slaughtered.

Pain, injustice, unanswered prayers—these are all difficult problems, obviously. But to suggest that Christianity has failed to grapple with them demonstrates ignorance of the scriptures, of Chrysostom, of Augustine, of Aquinas—of the whole body of Christian thought.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Tips for making a good Confession

From Fr. Z's website (and, Lord knows, I need these as much as anybody!)

Fr. Z’s 20 Tips For Making A Good Confession o{]:¬)

We should…

1) ...examine our consciences regularly and thoroughly;
2) ...wait our turn in line patiently;
3) ...come at the time confessions are scheduled, not a few minutes before they are to end;
4) ...speak distinctly but never so loudly that we might be overheard;
5) ...state our sins clearly and briefly without rambling;
6) ...confess all mortal sins in number and kind;
7) ...listen carefully to the advice the priest gives;
8) ...confess our own sins and not someone else’s;
9) ...carefully listen to and remember the penance and be sure to understand it;
10) ...use a regular formula for confession so that it is familiar and comfortable;
11) ...never be afraid to say something "embarrassing"... just say it;
12) ...never worry that the priest thinks we are jerks…. he is usually impressed by our courage;
13) ...never fear that the priest will not keep our confession secret… he is bound by the Seal;
14) ...never confess "tendencies" or "struggles"... just sins;
15) ...never leave the confessional before the priest has finished giving absolution;
16) ...memorize an Act of Contrition;
17) ...answer the priest’s questions briefly if he asks for a clarification;
18) ...ask questions if we can’t understand what he means when he tells us something;
19) ...keep in mind that sometimes priests can have bad days just like we do;
20) ...remember that priests must go to confession too … they know what we are going through.

I hope that these are helpful as we prepare for Lent...and get to confession more often, possibly (maybe. I'm not making any promises here)

Today's Saint quote

Can you expect to go to heaven for nothing? Did not our Savior track the whole way to it with His tears and blood? And yet you start at every little pain.
— St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

A very good thing for us to ponder, especially as Lent is coming up in about a month. People who ask, "why is their suffering in the world? Why does God permit it?" need look no farther than the Cross. If God sent His own Son to suffer and die, then how can we expect to be exempt from it? Suffering is a natural part of our spiritual growth. Some of us are called to more than others, but God knows what is best for each of us. And we have, in Jesus, a Savior who has "drunk to the dregs of human suffering" (as Fr. Benedict Groeschel writes in his Rosary: Light and Life ) and knows what we are feeling.

In Colorado--pro-life? Ehhhh....

H/t Amy Welborn...

Colorado's governor is not what I would call pro-life:

Archbishop fires 1st salvo at Gov. Ritter
The Catholic leader blasts a plan to restore state funds to family-planning clinics that offer abortion.
By Eric Gorski
Denver Post Staff Writer
Article Last Updated: 01/16/2007 10:55:04 AM MST

Archbishop Charles Chaput opposes Gov. Bill Ritter's plan to restore state funding to Planned Parenthood. (Post)Less than a week after his inauguration, Gov. Bill Ritter is getting heat from the outspoken Catholic archbishop of Denver over a familiar topic: abortion.

In his column in this week's Denver Catholic Register, Archbishop Charles Chaput calls the Democrat's pledge to lift eligibility restrictions on state-funded pregnancy prevention and family-planning programs "seriously flawed public policy."

Ritter, a Catholic who describes himself as "pro-life," wants to lift an order by his predecessor, Republican Bill Owens, also a Catholic. The order restricted groups that perform abortions from getting state money for family planning and pregnancy prevention.

Ritter spokesman Evan Dreyer declined Monday to respond

Chaput's Column
Read Archbishop Chaput's complete column challenging Gov. Ritter.
directly to Chaput's criticism but emphasized Ritter is opposed to funding abortions.
Only family-planning groups that show they can segregate state funds from money spent on abortions would be eligible, Dreyer said. An amendment to the state's constitution forbids the use of state dollars to subsidize abortion directly or indirectly.

"The archbishop and the governor agree on certain aspects of this issue," Dreyer said. "The governor believes strongly it is good public policy to attempt to reduce unintended pregnancies, and that is his goal."

Calling out Ritter is in keeping with Chaput's belief that Catholic politicians must adhere to church teachings in their public life in order to remain true to the faith. The Denver prelate has gained a national reputation for his willingness to speak out.

Chaput praised Ritter's desire to improve health care and education and said his State of the State address brimmed with "good will, good sense and hope."

Much of Chaput's ire focused on Planned Parenthood, which lost nearly $400,000 in state funding under the Owens administration. Chaput highlighted a passage in Ritter's State of the State talk in which he talked about judging legislation's impact on future generations.

"It's hard to have a future 'for our children and our children's children' without children, and in practice, Planned Parenthood specializes in the business of preventing them," Chaput wrote. "Even more troubling is Planned Parenthood's long involvement in abortion 'rights' and the lethal services associated with them."

Chaput questioned whether it's possible to segregate money for abortion and family planning. He wrote that it's reasonable to believe Ritter's stated opposition to abortion and his "pro-life" label given Ritter's "engaged and active" Catholic faith.

"What his words do actually mean will become clear in the demands he places on Planned Parenthood for proof that state funds truly are segregated from abortion services and don't materially support the killing of unborn children," Chaput wrote.

But Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains may not seize the opportunity if the restrictions are lifted, given the high costs of restructuring to meet the state's demands and other factors, said spokeswoman Kate Horle.

She said Planned Parenthood also would be reluctant to take resources from smaller clinics statewide that currently receive state money for family planning.

"While I recognize it's Bishop Chaput's religious prerogative to want to believe Planned Parenthood somehow wants to increase the abortion rate in Colorado - which is what he implies - what we have always done is try to make sure every child is a wanted and a loved child," Horle said.

Jeanette DeMelo, spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said Chaput's chief objective in the column was to start a conversation and find common ground in the debate over family-planning funding.

Chaput did not challenge Ritter's abortion stance during the campaign.

NFP, etc.

I recently have started reading Danielle Bean's blog and came across this old post in NFP, etc. I thought it was great;

Your Turn: Being Open to Life
6/26/06 9:18 PM
A reader writes:
It would be nice to know that there are others out there who struggle with the conflict of truly being open to life and loving children and wanting a big family, but at the same time being overcome by the fear of the realities of a really big family and not knowing how to “slow down.” Because NFP isn't as easy as everyone says it is and depending on one's fertility signs, it doesn't really always work. At least not for me.

Hmmmm, I do not want to get bogged down in the details of whether or not NFP “really works” here other than to mention that NFP methods test out at 98 point whatever percent effective, but what really counts for most people is “user effectiveness” which is a lower number. The simple fact is that using NFP to space or prevent pregnancy, particularly for some people, is not quite as simple as popping a pill. And that’s a good thing. Because we ought not to be using it the way some people pop a pill.

I think that with NFP, there wind up being many “accidental” pregnancies that are not truly “accidents” at all. Couples often know when they are bending or breaking particular rules or not paying close enough attention to fertility symptoms and lo and behold—a pregnancy results!

This might lead to a great deal of frustration with NFP, but as I said, I think it is a good thing. NFP is not fun. This fact likely encourages many couples to be more generous in planning their families than they would otherwise be. The seriousness with which most couples learn and use NFP is usually directly proportional to the seriousness of their reasons for using it. Personally speaking, if conception did not come easily for us and my husband and I had to actively plan every single pregnancy in the way people using artificial birth control do, we might have 3 or 4 children by now. We surely wouldn’t be expecting our eighth. We would be missing out and wouldn’t even know it.

All of which brings us to the heart of the emailer’s struggle. It can be hard—so very hard—to accept God’s plan for our families in place of our own. It is downright scary sometimes to turn something as powerful and potentially life-changing as our fertility over to God. And this works both ways. I know women struggling with infertility who want desperately to conceive and are unable to. These women too experience frustration, disillusionment, and fear in accepting God’s will for themselves and their families.

But our bodies and our fertility do belong to God. Sometimes the hardest words in the world to pray are “Thy will be done.” I know that when I pray it, my mind sometimes races through all the possibilities of what “God’s will” might be and I am tempted to add, “Oh, except for that! Thy will be done as long as it isn’t that!” Something to work on.