Wednesday, January 31

Another Reason to Read Mark Shea's Blog

I mean, aside from the wonderful apologetics. If you read it, you'll find stuff like this:

(This video is kid-safe.)

Books Purchased at the Library

Our library has lots of books for sale in the foyer of the building, and they draw me in without fail. I have picked up all kinds of great titles in the past (East of Eden, For Whom the Bell Tolls, etc.).

Today, I noticed that the pile was bigger than the last time I was there. I use the past tense "was" because I made it a little smaller. Here's a list of what I got today:

William Shakespeare, Four Tragedies: Romeo & Juliet, MacBeth, Hamlet, Julius Caesar ($0.10 - I think I have a couple of these, but I wasn't sure - I love Shakespeare!); George Eliot, Silas Marner ($0.10); Selected Poems of Robert Frost, Introduction by Robert Graves ($0.10); Hal Lindsey, The Late Great Planet Earth ($0.10 - purchased only for research purposes because we know a fallen-away Catholic who is in a Baptist Bible study that is using this to study End Times); Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights ($0.10); Sir Walter Scott, Ivanhoe ($0.10 for what I think is our second copy of this book); Susan Anthony: Girl Who Dared, by Helen Albee Monsell ($0.25 - this is a book from the old series Childhood of Famous Americans, copyright 1954 & 1960); and, last but not least, all because of Julie's posts, Giovanni Guareschi's Comrade Don Camillo, translated by Frances Frenaye ($0.25).

All in all, I came home with eight books in good to excellent condition, including a bunch of classics, all for $1.10.

Oh, and I also checked to see if certain books were still there, and I discovered that, for example, For Whom the Bell Tolls is still there, two copies, in fact. My copy that I purchased from the library was in pretty rough shape. A lot of these books are also donations made, and many are probably already on the shelves. So they are not purging classics necessarily, but they are purging copies in bad shape or multiples that they get as donations.

Cotton Edition of the Catholic Carnival!

Living Catholicism is hosting this week's Carnival, and it's a doozy!

Be sure to stop by and read all the offerings. If you're interested in being a part of the Catholic Carnival, go here for more information.

Tuesday, January 30

Well, yeah...I'm Catholic!

This rating (or one close to it) shouldn't surprise Catholics. We know the Bible far better than we usually think we know it.

Seen most recently at Curt Jester's site.

You know the Bible 100%!

Wow! You are awesome! You are a true Biblical scholar, not just a hearer but a personal reader! The books, the characters, the events, the verses - you know it all! You are fantastic!

Ultimate Bible Quiz
Create MySpace Quizzes

Meme Catchup Post (updated with link)

First up: The Catholic Culture Meme. I've been avoiding this because I'm sure I won't have any good answers, but I'll give it a whirl anyway. Esther tagged me for it.

Name a Catholic book that you want to share so much that you keep giving away copies:
I haven't got many books that I give away, but I do loan them. There are a couple that I've read or am currently reading that I'd share, though. Raymond Arroyo's book on Mother Angelica, How We Got the Bible, and Witness to Hope are three. Maybe that will make up for not having answers for some of the other questions. ;)

Name a work of religious art you'd like to live with:
Michelangelo's Pieta

Name your favorite Catholic artist:
Michelangelo, probably. I've always dreamt of going to Rome and seeing the Sistine Chapel.

Name a work of Catholic fiction which has penetrated your real life:
That's really hard to say. Some books I have read are probably Catholic and I didn't know it. (Esther mentioned A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which is a wonderful book, but I didn't know it was Catholic until I really thought about it.) The Bud McFarlane books fascinated me, but I think I liked Father Elijah better (O'Brian).

Name your favorite Catholic Musicians - male & female:
Um...Marty Hagan and Gwen Stefani? JUST KIDDING. I have no idea. I never looked to see who was Catholic and who wasn't.

Name your favorite musical:
I loved CATS when I saw it on broadway, but the girls and I get a lot of old musicals from Netflix, too. I kind of like The Music Man and Fiddler on the Roof, too.

Name a punch line that always makes you laugh:
Because the pope crosses everything.

I have no clue as to who should be tagged. Everyone I can think of has been, so consider yourself tagged for this one if you want to do it.

Next meme!

Up next is the Wish You Were Here meme, courtesy of SFO Mom, Barb!

Who are the five Catholic (or Christian) bloggers whom you would most like to meet in person, but have not (yet)?

Only five? Okay.

1. Barb herself. I feel badly because I was just in NJ and didn't email anyone but my Nana. Next time, I'll be sure to get a hold of some people and have coffee with someone. :)

2. Sue, the Desperate Irish Housewife. I first read her writing at NRO when she recalled the first time (!) she met Pope John Paul II. (Unfortunately, her site has been taken over by some sicko porn guy, which I only discovered when I clicked on her link and got a page full of disgusting pictures. If anyone knows Sue's email, please let her know. And DON'T click on the link for her on the sidebar, especially if you have kids.)

UPDATE: Sue's link was fixed sometime today. Be sure to check out her blog, though. She's got some great commentary, and hopefully Blogger won't let some weirdo hijack her site again. ;)

3. Julie, the Happy Catholic. I love her positive spirit and attitude.

4. Rebecca, who runs Mary Meets Dolly. And not just to pick her brain and get her to talk to our parish's Respect Life committee, either. ;)

5. Stacey, the Housewife in Flip Flops. (Somehow her blog was deleted from my blogroll! For shame!) I've actually "known" her online for ages, but we've never met yet.

There are lots more, you know. Ma Beck, Jay, Esther (and not just because she's in Hawaii!), and anyone who works with Catholic Answers. I mean, I could probably list half of my blogroll (or more).

If you're named above, then consider yourself tagged.

Monday, January 29

On Being Pro Life

I took Big Girl to the March for Life this year. It was cold, though not as cold as it is today, praise God! Big Girl complained most of the time, but said later that she had fun.

But something interesting happened as we were stading on Constitution Avenue waiting for the beginning of the actual walking. We were standing near some seminarians (at least a dozen!), and Big Girl was tired of holding her sign from American Life League. She turned to one of the seminarians and asked, "Would you like my sign? I'm tired of holding it." He gladly took it, and commented to me that he is happy to see her and to see that she's Pro Life.

I answered, "Thank you, but you know that children are naturally so. It takes someone teaching them otherwise for them NOT to be Pro Life."

And that's really true. Show any child this picture:

...and he's bound to tell you it's a baby.

When Big Girl was with me while I planned and helped to coordinate a Pro Life ad for Mother's Day ("Thank you, Mom, for choosing life for me!"), she noticed the bumper stickers on my friend's car. Finally, she asked me what abortion was. When I was sure Little Girl could not hear (why expose her to that when she isn't ready?), I explained that abortion is when a woman does not want to have her baby, and so someone takes the baby out of her womb before it's ready to be born. (Have I mentioned lately how very much I hate that I will have to explain this to my children at some point?) This horrified - even revolted - her. She said that no one should do that. I agreed. It made her sad. It angered her. She just had a hard time believing that anyone could do such a thing.

Then I accidentally went farther than I meant to because I assumed she'd made a connection between that act and the result for the baby.

"That's why we pray to end abortion. Because it is so sad that all those babies die."



This information only confirmed it for her. She knew that abortion was wrong because Hubby and I said so and she trusted us. (This is, incidentally, where Little Girl is right now and why she can't go to the March yet.) But when she learned what it was, that abortion kills a baby before he is born, she truly understood why it's wrong.

When a child is told what abortion is no child takes that in and comes to the conclusion that it's just a woman's choice - that no one can or should intercede for the baby.
It's natural for children to be Pro Life. And nothing we do should try to convince them otherwise.

Spit and Polish that Blog and Make It Shine!

It's almost time for the Catholic Blog Awards! Nominations begin February 4.

Hat tip to Adore Te Devote (who heard from Happy Catholic) for this.

More information on the subject can be found at the source: Cyber Catholics.

The categories are as follows:

Best Overall Catholic Blog
Best Designed Catholic Blog
Best Written Catholic Blog
Best New Catholic Blog
Best Individual Catholic Blog
Best Group Blog
Best Blog by Clergy/Religious/Seminarian
Funniest Catholic Blog
Smartest Catholic Blog
Most Informative & Insightful Catholic Blog
Best Apologetic Blog
Best Political/Social Commentary Catholic Blog
Best Insider News Catholic Blog
Most Spiritual Blog

I fit into exactly none of those categories, but sometimes I find some interesting new blogs to read. :)

Friday, January 26

Carl Olson is a Funny Guy

You've got to love someone who can write a sentence like this:

If Nancy Pelosi is a devout Catholic, then, well, I'm a devout left-handed, neo-Marxist, lesbian Buddhist who loves pro wrestling and walks on the beach.

Please be sure to go read the rest.

Pray, Pray, Pray!

Dawn Eden has a heartbreaking story of a mother who is facing great temptation to kill her son before his natural birth.

If you can help in any material way, please do. If you can't, at least pray for them both.

Scenes from Home

*** Seen on blackboard in Spare Oom (formerly Little Girl's Room):

iS GooD!

Little Girl wrote it, and I don't know why.

*** Hubby has a habit of asking me where things are. Many times, I merely lift up something that is where he was just looking to find the item in question.

About three weeks ago, I said, "Honey, if anything should ever happen to me, I want you to remember one thing."

"What's that?"

"Look under stuff."

You know what? At least three times since then, he's asked me, "Where's [insert noun here]?" followed immediately by, "Wait! 'Remember to look under stuff.' ... Here it is!"

The most recent example was this morning, when he was looking for his gloves. He picked up my hat that I'd dropped carelessly on my way in last night, and there they were!

I like this new system. I look like a genius, and he finds more stuff without my direct assistance.

Thursday, January 25

From New Year's Eve

I took this picture on New Year's Eve at our parish's annual party. Thought it looked interesting (esp. since it was accidental).

Also, there is a really funny picture of me that I might post. You'll have to wait and see. ;)
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, January 24

Q&A with Catholic Apologists

You've got to love an answer that begins with this:

Unfortunately, the answers to these questions are unknown due to our disturbing lack of time machines, but we can speculate.

Head over here to see what Jimmy Akin was blogging about this time.

The Dark Ages

What do you think when you see a professor of philosophy (specifically at Birbeck College, University of London) quoted as saying this?
Seven centuries after the beginnings of classical civilisation in the Greece of Pericles and Socrates, an oriental superstition, consisting of an amalgam of dying and resurrecting god myths and myths about the impregnation of mortal maids by deities, captured the Roman Empire. Such was the beginning of Christianity. By the accident of its being the myth chosen by Constantine for his purposes, it plunged Europe into the dark ages for the next thousand years - scarcely any literature or philosophy, and the forgetting of the arts and crafts of classical civilisation (quite literally a return to daub and wattle because the engineering required for towers and domes was lost), before a struggle to escape the church's narrow ignorance and oppression saw the rebirth of classical learning, and its ethos of inquiry and autonomy, in the Renaissance.

From that point to this day every millimetre of progress in liberty and learning has been bitterly opposed by the organised institutions of Christianity, which at the outset burned to death anyone who disagreed with its antique absurdities - none of its officers ever being arraigned for these vast numbers of murders, or the literally millions of deaths caused by the wars of religion that plagued Europe, especially in the 16th and 17th centuries. But bit by bit religion was forced back into its own shadows by the new learning and the larger freedoms of mind and action that increasing secularisation brought, liberating individuals and societies to the extent enjoyed today.

Well, Carl Olson picked it apart and posted a masterful (and informative!) piece on it. Go here to read it.

Really, the Middle Ages were not so dark, and we are not oh-so-much-smarter than everyone before us.

Window with Two Roundels and Ornament

English (Christ Church Cathedral, Canterbury)

Upper: before 1207; lower: circa 1180

Stained glass with leading

Roundels: 31 1/2 (diameter) inches

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Purchase, The Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund, 69.10

Catholic Carnival is here again!

I honestly am not sure I posted a link to last week's, but if not, I'll add it here.

Here is Catholic Carnival 103, the current Carnival. It happened to be due on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, not to mention during the Christian Week of Prayer for Unity. Lots of good stuff this week. Be sure to check it out.

This is last week's, Carnival number 102. I am pretty sure I missed posting it since I was out of town with my Nana.

Go here to learn about the Catholic Carnival and to see how to sign up for future Carnivals.

Sunday, January 21

March for Life (UPDATED)

This is the third year I've signed up to go on the bus for the March. In fact, I was happy to also get a seat for Big Girl (though, really, I don't want to go, and I don't want to bring my children - I'd rather not have to do it).

However, there is now this:






Well, isn't that nice?

Hubby said that chances are, the roads will be too dangerous for us to drive to the church where the bus is taking off. We'd have to leave before 5:30 (only slightly so, but still...), and right now, we've had about six hours of freezing rain and snow, with accumulations on the roads. And it's still coming down that way.

And so I might be watching the March on EWTN tomorrow with the entire family. (Hubby took a vacation day, and he said if the roads are too dangerous for me, he'll keep the vacation day and stay home with us.)

I am a bit bummed out. And we still can't go sledding.

[photos are mine from last year]
UPDATE: I did get to go! I only had a couple of pictures, since I was COMPLETELY paranoid about losing Big Girl. But it was very cool, with the exception of the fact that the aborted baby pictures were more spread out than last year. Why are they even bringing those? As one father on the bus said, "They are preaching to the choir here. I don't need my kids seeing that."
Yeah, me neither. I think sonogram pictures would be MUCH more effective. Pro aborts don't believe those pictures, and post-abortive women are sometimes tramautized by them.

Saturday, January 20

How I Read

"But Tom got into a book, crawled and groveled between the covers, tunneled like a mole among the thoughts, and came up with the book all over his face and hands."

-East of Eden, John Steinbeck

When I read that, I thought, "That is exactly how I am with books!"

I'm more than half-way through this book, and I am loving it! It's not nearly as dark as The Grapes of Wrath, which makes it less emotionally draining. And Steinbeck's writing is so picturesque! I might have to look for more of his writing soon.

Total Geek Alert!

So, for Christmas, I got a gift card to Barnes & Noble from my bosses. (I have a very part-time job teaching baby sign language - well, really ASL to parents of children 6 months to two years.)

Today, we went to B&N to spend my money. I was really happy because for the next week, I get 25% off anything I buy there because I am a teacher! (Homeschoolers, check it out! Usually, I only get 10% off my classroom stuff, but there are occasional specials for teachers. B&N can give you details on how to sign up.)

Hubby and I discussed what we could get, and one thing we wanted was a Players' Handbook for D&D. Yes, I am trying to get REALLY White and Nerdy by learning to play Dungeons and Dragons. After reading The Lord of the Rings, I decided that perhaps this would be a neat game to learn. So Hubby has been trying to teach me when we have enough time to sit and play for a while. And recently, he got the idea to create Catholic campaigns where we'd use cleric characters. (I almost understand what I'm typing here, you know.) And today, I thought how neat it would be to modify D&D to create campaigns specific to the Crusades. And to make it friendly for the girls to play, too. This means downplaying some of the more mystical and magical stuff and playing up things more related to God. (D&D is based on LOTR, and Tolkien was Catholic - devoutly so - and so I don't believe this will be too much of a stretch.)

So anyway...I've had LOTR on my mind today.

And then I found a link to this at Joel's blog. Helm's Deep, to scale.

In candy.

Hubby says that some people have too much time on their hands. I say this is one of the coolest things I've ever seen! (Oh, there is a slight language alert. Just a couple of words, but one is the F-bomb. Just a word of warning in case the kids are around.)

But it's still VERY cool!

Sunday, January 14

Off-Line All Week

I'm off with the girls to visit my Nana in New Jersey this week, so I won't be blogging.

All five of you need to find something else to do until Saturday (or later!), 'cuz I'll be gone 'til Friday night.

Wednesday, January 10

What are you praying for?

Father Jim Tucker asks the tough questions, and gives us some excellent food for thought.

Another Carnival!

Catholic Homeschoolers' Carnival. This week, you can find it here, at Mary Ann Bernard's blog.

And if you are interested in submitting an article for the next one, head here for the submission form.

We had a breakthrough

Big Girl has been complaining for more than a year that she hates school. When I bring out the math, she's especially bad about it. Whining, complaining, foot-dragging, and, occasionally, actual tears.

I could NOT figure out her problem. She's really a bright girl, and her reading abilities are astounding to me. She likes to do science, and she is an extremely logical child, which is part of why I was puzzled about the math phobia. Math is all about logic, math doesn't change. She should be all over that stuff!

The night before last, I went to tuck the girls into bed, and I unplugged a digital alarm clock that had its cord strung across a space between the shelf on her bunk bed and the wall. Not really safe, plus they had to unplug the night light to have it there.

"I worked so hard to set that! It took two tries!" Big Girl moaned. She threw herself onto her pillow.

"You really don't need that clock, honey. I'll fix it in the morning."

Big Girl started to cry a little.


"It's not important. You don't think it's important, and so it's just not."

Okay, more at work here than an alarm clock, I figured. But I went back, apologized, and set up the clock in a new location where both girls could easily see it from bed. I set the clock for them again.

"Okay, it's all set up. Now you can see it."

"It's not important! Nevermind! You wrecked it!" More tears. By now, I'm completely bewildered. It is DEFINITELY not about the clock. The clock has become a scapegoat.

"Sweetie?" I climbed the ladder and sat on the top bunk while Big Girl hid her head under her arms and stuck her face deep into her pillow. "What is going on? Why are you so upset?"

After a lot of rambling on about various stuff, it finally came out. School has actually become scary. When she thinks of school, she feels like "everything is pressing down on me." I asked if it was math and thinking about doing math.

"That's part of it. I just don't get it. It's hard, and no matter what I can't get my brain to think about it. I just don't understand!!!"

Now this is brand-new information. NEVER has Big Girl said she didn't understand something! When I ask if she gets it, the answer has been yes!

"Honey, have you been telling me that you get it when there are parts you didn't understand?"


I explained that my goal was not to rush her through school so she could go to college at 16. My goal was to be sure she understood the things that I taught her. She admitted that, though she didn't really think it was true, she felt like she was supposed to just get finished fast. As in, finish all the grades ahead of schedule! Obviously, this is not what I want, and I reassured her of that.

After a bit more talking together, I also discovered that, occasionally, she has had some difficulty with a few books I've sent her way. Some books, Babe in particular, have accents in the writing and spelling of the book. This is a really hard thing, and I let her know that it was fine to put them away for later. I told her about how I had to read some parts of The Grapes of Wrath out loud because I didn't understand how things were spelled.

Then we talked about the importance of not going on with math until she understood what we'd already done. I likened it to building a house on sand. I re-told a story about David, a boy who was in my third grade class during my first year of teaching public school. David had been passed from grade to grade (this was insisted upon by his mother over his teachers' objections) until he arrived in third grade with nearly no reading, writing, or spelling skills. He read like a typical beginning-of-the-year first grader. But when I gave him science tests orally, he got 100%. David was a really smart boy. But his education was a house built on sand, and he was struggling with all his might to catch up. He was nearly ready to give up until I let him take tests orally. And, just when I was developing a plan for helping him to catch up a bit more, his mother lost custody of him, and he was suddenly moving to North Carolina. I wrote a long and detailed note to his teachers, advising that he needed LOTS of help with reading, but he was smart enough to be able to do tests orally until he was able to read better. I highly recommended retaining him at the end of the year, just based on how far behind the poor kid was.

I asked her if she wanted to review second grade math, to go back and re-do some parts. I told about taking Trigonometry in high school, first with Alegebra II/Trig, which I did mediocre on once we got to Trig, which I nearly failed, and later with Pre-Calculus. My first day in class, I was feeling happy because I'd managed to escape from Trig. I wanted to move on. I hated Trig. I did not get it at all. And that first day, there stood the very same math teacher as I'd had the year before, and he said, "Welcome to Pre-Calculus. This class is, basically, Trig in depth." I wanted to cry. I wanted to die. I came about "that close" to failing the course completely. And when I went to college, I took it again. (I actually started my college career with it.) I was determined to get it this time. And you know what? It made sense. And I passed it, but not until I had to repeat the material. (As a side note, I got straight A's when I took it in college. I'm not sure how much was the teacher and how much was that I needed a review of the material, but that's not imporant in the long run.)

Big Girl agreed to look at second grade math again. We decided we'd look again at the tests and see what we should review. She agreed that this was a good idea, and was actually happy about it! She also promised me that she'd tell me when she doesn't understand the material - but that she wouldn't just start in with "I hate school." That's not good enough; she has to tell me what she didn't get so I can go over it again! Big Girl agreed with that, too.

Finally, I left her room at 10:45. It had been more than an hour and a half since I'd gone in to tuck her into bed for the night. Hubby and I talked about this potential breakthough, and I prayed that I'd be up to the task and ready to do what was necessary.

Then, yesterday, I knew we'd had a breakthrough when I tucked the girls into bed.

"Mommy? Can we go back do fractions again? I don't think I understood them very well."

Absolutely! And I do believe we'll have to eat pizza to talk about them!

So today we begin our school year, just like it's a new year. And I think it's going to be a good year, too.

Homeschoolers and the Public Schools

Nancy Brown at Flying Stars pointed out this article at WorldNetDaily. It seems that the public schools in Mississippi think that homeschooled children are at high risk for abuse, and so out of compassion for the children, obviously the state must put extra regulations on homeschoolers.

It's really not an old story, and anyone who homeschools can tell you that.

However, I think that one of the most interesting parts was this:

As it turns out, in a basic battery of tests that included writing and mathematics, homeschooled children whose mothers hadn't finished high school scored in the 83rd percentile while students whose fathers hadn't finished high school scored in the 79th percentile. Bear in mind, too, that children in Mississippi public schools do not on average come close to doing this well on any legitimate, nationally normed test. Moreover, there are also studies that indicate that regulation does not have any positive impact on the academic achievement levels of homeschooled students.
[emphasis in original]

And they even bring up the socialization thing!

Again, like the other "worries" deployed in scaring the public into supporting expanded homeschool regulation, a little research would have shown this to be a baseless concern. In 2001, Greg Cizek, associate professor of educational research at the University of North Carolina, summarized what researchers know about the "socialization" question: ''It is basically a non-issue. … If anything, research shows that because parents are so sensitive to the charge, they expose them [their children] to so many activities." More recently, a study of 7,000 homeschooled adults found, among other things, much higher levels of civic involvement, participation in higher education, and life satisfaction among them than adults who were not homeschooled.

I can tell you this: my girls are better socialized than I ever was at their ages, and they exhibit far more poise and grace when interacting with a rather wide range of people (from very small children all the way up to adults). They have more friends than I had when I was a kid (or have currently), and our difficulty when it comes time to invite people to birthday parties is not if anyone will come, but how do we have a party and invite everyone they are buddies with?

Be sure to head to WorldNetDaily and read the whole article, though. The concluding paragraph has quite the kicker in it!

It's no Ordinary Carnival!

Kicking Over my Traces is hosting this week's Catholic Carnival. Head on over and check out the selections.

Remember that the Carnival happens every week, and if you are a Catholic blogger, you can get involved, too. Details on that can be found here.

Sunday, January 7


Recently, I have become the new chair of the Respect Life Committee at our parish. It's been a largely inactive group in the last couple of years, and I haven't been able to be a great part of it except for my quarterly baby showers that I run for Catholic Charities in our area. We have a miniscule budget ($100 a year), few members, almost no activities, and a woman who had been president who just barely had time to do much for it. (She runs a larger Pro Life group in our area that encompasses all the Respect Life groups in our city's area and runs TV ads on local stations, so it's not like she does nothing.) The Former Chair was just tired. The Respect Life group in our parish often has to fight for what we do. I know that sounds awful, but sometimes it's just true. Originally, I wanted to have monthly showers and was turned down. Only after John Paul II died did the Justice and Peace Committee petition our pastor again, and I was granted permission to do it every three months. (I am GRATEFUL for this, though. Truly, I am!)

So I have nearly a blank slate here. We already started off the year by spending our entire budget (and I made a donation to up the money in our coffers once I realized how small the budget is!), and we'll be putting an insert in the bulletin next weekend, plus we'll be putting out brochures on various Pro Life issues. I don't want people thinking that all we are about is abortion and NFP, so we are including materials from the USCCB on the sanctity of marriage and the evil of ebryonic research as well as one on Natural Family Planning (the brochure is called "Go Organic!"). For our diocese, this is Respect Life Month. So we are trying to be very in the forefront of people's minds.

But after January, then what? Well, for one, I want to have monthly meetings. Our parish tends to have all kinds of things happening on Sunday between our two Masses. CCD, RCIA, parent meetings for the kids receiving Sacraments...everything seems to go on between Masses. I want to have meetings during the week. (I have to work out logistics with our parish office on when we can hold them, but I'll figure that out.) And what should we do there?

I had been complaining recently that it's a shame that our pastor doesn't educate people more on the Church's teachings on the Culture of Life. Suddenly, something occurred to me. How can I complain about it when I am on the Respect Life Committee? What am I doing to help educate people?

And so I believe that this will be a new mission for the Respect Life Committee at our parish. We will help to educate our parish, as well as people from other parishes who come to meetings, on the Church's teachings on life, sexuality, and the sanctity of both. Which means that I must do two things.

First, I must educate myself more. I will first be printing off Evangelium Vitae and Humanae Vitae and reading them. Nope. Haven't ever read them. (Actually, I've been a bit afraid to, given my history, but I've just got to get over myself, you know?) I must read more at Priests for Life. I need to be ready with information. I need to know more.

Secondly, I need to get in touch with people who already know a great deal about certain issues and who are willing to come give lectures on the topics. I have a friend who is the NFP coordinator for our diocese. I know people who give talks to mothers and teen daughters on the Church's teachings on sexuality. There is a wealth of information. I must learn to access it and help other people get it, too.

It's daunting. I'm scared. But I'm also excited. I want our parish's Respect Life Committee to be like a beacon, an example for others. But honestly, I don't want it so anyone can say, "Wow. Look what Christine did over there!" I really want to do it because I believe it will be something that will give glory to God. I want to do it for Him. Because when I stand before His throne for judgement, I don't want to have to explain why I was busy complaining about Father and his lack of action when I did nothing, either. And I don't want to have the souls of those perfect babies aborted, nor the souls of the people who were euthanized, asking me what I did to help them.

And I don't want Jesus to say that He knows me not.

Please pray for me as I take on this new task. Pray that I seek and listen to divine guidance. Pray that our little committee grows and is able to spread the good news and the beautiful teachings of the Church. Pray that God's will be done.

Thursday, January 4

Re-Reading a Classic

I just finished re-reading The Grapes of Wrath the other night. Though the book is wildly depressing, it is also really fantastic. Kind of like Saving Private Ryan and The Passion of the Christ. They are good, but you don't really enjoy them much.

There were a few things I noticed about the book, which I hadn't read since I was 19 or 20.

First, it's a completely different book in high school than it is when you are married with a family. I've noticed that about a lot of things. Your station in life greatly affects how you see the world, including movies, music, and books. Reading this as a college student (on my own - I was never assigned it for a class), I recall that I was really sad, but at the same time I couldn't understand Ma's need to keep "the fambly" together. Also, hormonal teenager that I was, I also kind of glazed over the profanity and talk about sex (though it was tasteful, it was there). I was surprised at the constant use of our Lord's name in vain throughout the book, especially in the light that these people were Christians.

Second, and this came up earlier than the "it's a different book" part, I felt an overwhelming gratefulness that I'm Catholic. A man in the book, Casy, is an ex-preacher. He leaves his ministry because he didn't really "feel" anything. Or, more precisely, he felt plenty, but always wound up falling into sin, especially after a good sermon and a baptizin'. So he decides that all things are holy, everything is relative, and he quits preaching. Now, mind you, this is one of the characters that has real goodness in him. He honestly tries to do what is right. But he was on his own. Just a preacher because he studied the Bible some and started out on his own.

How grateful we should be to have the Holy Mother Church to guide us and our priests! Pray that they are guided always in God's ways, and protected under the mantle of Our Lady!

Also, throughout, Uncle John feels great remorse over what he views to be his sins, and he repeatedly expresses the desire to talk to someone about them. His family does not want to hear about it, and rightly so. They love him, and knowing his sins will only make it more difficult, especially when things are so difficult all around for them. But Uncle John desperately wants to TELL someone.

He wants to go to Confession, and yet he doesn't know it.

Thank God for His gift of the Sacraments! What a great relief it is to unburden ourselves, just as Jesus commanded us to do in Scripture!

One thing about the book is that there is no real resolution, which I'd forgotten. I wanted so much to know what happens to the Joads. But when reading The Grapes of Wrath, remember that it was written in the midst of the Depression - it was printed in early 1939 - and there was not yet a conclusion to write. Reading about pre-unionized labor, the rise of industrial farming, the fall of the small-time was hurtful. And it was an eye-opener to just why unions came about, as well.

This is most definitely not a book for children. If you want to introduce the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl to your kids, I'd recommend Out of the Dust instead. I'm saving this one for the high school years.

[image source, though mine looks idetical to it]


Big Girl is trying to convince Little Girl to do something. If she allows her to do it, Big Girl says she'll tell Little Girl a secret.

"It's a really good secret, too. It's about a unicycle."

Wednesday, January 3


That is, Catholic Carnival 100! (Hey, if we're Roman Catholic, we ought to use Roman numerals, right?)

Well, I forgot to get an entry in this week (it was about 10:30 when I was finished with lesson plans for the week!), but here it is, the 100th Catholic Carnival! It's being hosted at just another day of Catholic pondering, and has some wonderful entries, including a best-of-the-year post on real manliness. (It was one of my favorite posts of the year!)
If you're interested in participating in the Carnival next week, head here for details!

Tuesday, January 2

Releasing Souls from Purgatory Through Poor Dental Hygene

I have never liked to floss. I hate it. My teeth are jammed together in my mouth which makes it hard to get the floss in between, and because I don't like to floss, my gums suffer from it and it hurts when I do floss. So I kind of skip it. A lot. Okay, most of the time. (Once, on a dentist's form, they asked, "How often do you floss?" and I wrote, "Sporadically.")

Well, I had a whopper of a toothache - actually a gum-ache - last month, which prompted me to work through my recently-developed fear of the dentist and get myself to one. I have about three years' worth of tarter built up. Well, I did until today.

Today, I brought the girls to the dentist, and the good doctor worked me in immediately after them. And he got most of the nasty gunk off my teeth.
It hurt. A lot. And I never prepped myself for it, either, since I hadn't planned on going to the dentist today.

I liken it to having a Band Aid on that is hanging off a little bit, and then your Mommy comes up and yanks it off without you expecting it. I mean, you knew she would, just not right THEN.

Yeah. That's it.

So my mouth feels weird now, but I think it's going to be okay. And I have two cavaties (my third and fourth ever) which will be filled next Thursday. Oh, and orders to get myself to the periodontist. Yeah, gums are in bad shape.

But I decided to ask for my pain to be joined with Christ's suffering on the cross, and maybe the fear I had, as well, so that maybe some souls might get to leave Purgatory.

Golly, I hope I helped someone. Cuz I really thought I was going to come out of the chair a couple of times. Shoot right off the top and out into the hallway behind me. (And because the girls were in the waiting room and could have heard, I was VERY careful not to get noisy or cry. And that took effort, I tell you.) From now on, I'm also going to offer up my flossing. "Floss 'em now, or soak 'em later," said the nice dentist. Seriously, he is very nice, and the pain and suffering is all my own fault.

So imagine my surprise when I read this post at Catholic Matriarch in my Domestic Church! I guess 'tis the season for getting your teeth looked at.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, I already have my next cleaning set up for July 3. And I promise to floss. Really. Gonna buy some of that nice stuff the gal at the dental office used today.
Who are your heros?


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