Friday, December 29, 2006

Quote of the Day

I was playing around on the internet reading stuff and found this quote, which stopped me in my tracks and made me think, "Wow, so true."

“An excuse is worse and more terrible than a lie, for an excuse is a lie guarded.” - John Paul the Great

I need to remember this quote to tell to my brother, who is constantly full of excuses for not doing work, for being off task, for forgetting stuff, etc. I worry that he's not taking responsibility for his actions, and his sense of entitlement is extremely overinflated. Anyway...this quote made me think of him. Maybe he'll listen to it, as long as I don't tell him it's from a pope! *eyeroll*

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Happy Feast of St. Stephen!

Today is my namesake's feast day! Here's some info about him:

Stephen's name means "crown," and he was the first disciple of Jesus to receive the martyr's crown. Stephen was a deacon in the early Christian Church. The apostles had found that they needed helpers to look after the care of the widows and the poor. So they ordained seven deacons, and Stephen is the most famous of these.

God worked many miracles through St. Stephen and he spoke with such wisdom and grace that many of his hearers became followers of Jesus. The enemies of the Church of Jesus were furious to see how successful Stephen's preaching was. At last, they laid a plot for him. They could not answer his wise argument, so they got men to lie about him, saying that he had spoken sinfully against God. St. Stephen faced that great assembly of enemies without fear. In fact, the Holy Bible says that his face looked like the face of an angel.

The saint spoke about Jesus, showing that He is the Savior, God had promised to send. He scolded his enemies for not having believed in Jesus. At that, they rose up in great anger and shouted at him. But Stephen looked up to Heaven and said that he saw the heavens opening and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.

His hearers plugged their ears and refused to listen to another word. They dragged St. Stephen outside the city of Jerusalem and stoned him to death. The saint prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!" Then he fell to his knees and begged God not to punish his enemies for killing him.

After such an expression of love, the holy martyr went to his heavenly reward. His feast day is December 26th.

St. Stephen, pray for me, that I may always put Christ first as you did!

Friday, December 22, 2006

A Modern Day Miracle

Growing up in the CoC, we were taught that miracles didn't exist anymore, which always made me kinda sad. So now, I love to hear about miracles! Here's a story of a blind man who was healed in Indiana, his was the second miracle from this particular nun, and so she was canonized soon after. Cool stuff! On top of that, the man, who was Baptist when the miracle occurred, became Catholic afterwards. (And kudos to CNN for actually doing a pretty good job on the story, no jabs to Catholicism or anything!)


Monday, December 18, 2006

Faith and Doubt

This post will probably be most understood by readers who have an affiliation with the CoC, because faith is something that is extremely understressed there. Understanding what faith itself is was a big step for me, because in the CoC we do not rely much on faith. We try to prove everything, and we really deep down believe that everything can be shown from the Bible, and so there's no need for faith because it can all be argued and explained rationally (so they say).

Often, what happens when someone from the CoC decides to leave, is that since all their faith was really in the "scriptural evidence" rather than God, when that scriptural evidence falls to pieces, their faith falls to pieces. (It goes without saying that there are always exceptions, this is just a general observation.) There are others, though, who are fortunate to somehow hold onto that thread of faith in God, and have to sort out where to go from there.

True faith is a God-given gift. It is one of the three theological virtues (faith, hope, love) which we cannot fabricate of our own accord, they must be given to us by God. And so, our reason takes us to a point, we see the reasonable arguments for the Church, but there comes a time when we must finally rest on faith, especially if there are lingering doubts. This is a hard thing to do for ex-CoCers! It is so pounded into us that any doubt is BAD BAD BAD that we're afraid of joining up anywhere unless we're absolutely 100% sure. If there are any doubts at all, it feels like we're in limbo, not able to go back but not able to move forward either.

What is important to realize is the distinction between voluntary doubt and involuntary doubt. Here's something from Catholic answers on that:

Obstinate doubt is a person’s refusal to give assent to something and persistance in this refusal through his own fault. It is important to distinguish this willful refusal to assent from merely having hesitancy or conflicted feelings about something that one accepts.

Doubt is distinguished as either voluntary or involuntary. The Catechism explains:

Voluntary doubt about the faith disregards or refuses to hold as true what God has revealed and the Church proposes for belief. Involuntary doubt refers to hesitation in believing, difficulty in overcoming objections connected with the faith, or also anxiety aroused by its obscurity. If deliberately cultivated, doubt can lead to spiritual blindness (CCC 2088).

Involuntary doubt is not sinful and may be experienced by any sincere believer. Voluntary doubt, on the other hand, is grave issue.

When doubts arise, we must rely on faith. Now, that statement kind of sounds obvious, but think about this...if we are expecting to understand everything and rid ourselves of all lingering doubts before we do anything, would we really have faith then? Or would we just be counting on our intelligence and reason alone to get us through? This kind of outlook could result in a very weak faith ultimately, so that if someone who converted in this way one day came across a teaching that they couldn't understand intellectually, it might cause a loss of whatever little faith they had to begin with, because they haven't been really relying on faith, just as those who relied so heavily on scriptural evidence can see their faith in God dashed as the evidence for their scriptural interpretation is dashed.

All this to say, the fact that we may have lingering doubts about some things the Church teaches is absolutely normal, and in fact is good practice for relying on faith! Remember that faith is not something that comes from us, it comes from God, and so we need to be sure to pray for faith. God knows we need it, be He also wants to see that we acknowledge that we need it, and that we know we can only receive it from Him.

A few months ago at mass, a reading from Luke was read, and my husband made a comment about different ways it could be read. Read this passage, and think of the blind man, not as physically blind, but as spiritually blind, as not being able to see the truth clearly, but wanting to.

And it came to pass, that as he was come nigh unto Jericho, a certain blind man sat by the way side begging:
And hearing the multitude pass by, he asked what it meant. And they told him, that Jesus of Nazareth passeth by. And he cried, saying, Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me. And they which went before rebuked him, that he should hold his peace: but he cried so much the more, Thou son of David, have mercy on me.

And Jesus stood, and commanded him to be brought unto him: and when he was come near, he asked him, Saying, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight. And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight: thy faith hath saved thee.
And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God.

Gives a whole new meaning to it doesn't it? For those struggling with doubt, remember this prayer, and say it often. "Lord, I believe, help my unbelief." Ask for faith, and you will receive.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

O Holy Night...

Christmas is just around the corner, and so I thought I'd drag out my favorite mp3 of the worst rendition of O Holy Night ever sung. This was passed onto me from my former coworker, and we used to listen to it around Christmas and just have giggling fits over it. Those were some good times!

So, here you are, and enjoy!! (Be sure to listen to the WHOLE thing, it gets progressively "better!")

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Doctrine and Discipline

Non-Catholics often bring up the issue of disciplines that have changed in order to counter the claim that the Church is guided into all truth, which of course, is unchanging. They say, "If the Church is guided into all unchanging truth, how come before Vatican II it was a sin to eat meat on Fridays? Something can't be a sin one day and then not be a sin the next day. That just doesn't make sense," or, "How can different places require people to attend mass on different Holy Days of Obligation? If it's sinful in one place not to go, it doesn't make sense that it can be ok in another place." What they are missing is the issue of doctrine vs. discipline.

The Church was given the authority to bind and loose, and so they can require certain disciplines if they feel it is beneficial. Let's look at it this way...there are some things that are universally true to all parents and the rules are the same everywhere. For instance, I've never met a parent who allowed their child to run into a busy street (for obvious reasons). That's a universal rule, because it's universally true that running into a busy street is dangerous and could result in harm. Now, there are other rules that are flexible, and it is up to parents to decide...for instance, the appropriate curfew for their children. Once that curfew is set, if a child doesn't come home by then, they're in trouble. Why is that? Is it the actual time itself that has some universal significance? No, because different parents will set different times for the curfew. The reason a child gets in trouble is because of their disobedience.

The same applies to Holy Days of Obligation (HDOs). Now in our big family the Church, there are certain rules that are universal, because they have to do with unchanging truths. Then there are others that are left to decide to the local bishops (they may be things that will be different culturally, etc). When someone willfully ignores a HDO in their area, the sin is that of disobedience. So, it's like if a kid willfully ignores his curfew, he can't come home and say "But Johnny's curfew is later, so it doesn't make sense that I have to follow your curfew!" (Lol, well he might try, but it won't work for any capable parent!) The parent understands it's not the *time* that is the problem, it's the disobedience. We do believe the Church has absolute truth, but what days are HDOs is not a "truth," it's a discipline, which can be changed according to time and place, like a curfew can be changed depending on the age and maturity of the child, etc. There is nothing inherently wrong with coming home at 11:00 instead of 10:00, what is wrong is the disobedience. Likewise, there's nothing inherently wrong with eating meat on Friday, the sin was in the disobedience. Now that it is up to the individual to decide what he will do on Fridays, there is no disobedience in eating meat, and therefore no sin.

Doctrine, on the other hand, is unchanging because it has to do with truth. For instance, the teaching that priests must be men is unchanging, the Church has no authority to change this (as explained by John Paul the Great in ORDINATIO SACERDOTALIS), but whether or not priests can marry is a matter of discipline which the Church does have the authority to change. (Not that I think they should, I've heard too many priests explain how celibacy was such a gift for them.) It's easy to confuse doctrine and discipline, but it's important to differentiate them to truly understand how the Church works.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Behind the Counter

I just had to post this hilarious blog. Having worked behind the Guest Service counter at Target for over 5 years, I can absolutely relate to the ridiculous things people do and say when trying to return stuff. I would pretty much have a crazy story or two every day that I would have to relate to hubby to keep my sanity. Having worked through every holiday for five years straight, I relish my time home and away from the whackos at the big discount stores.

Oh the joys of retail!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Infant Baptism

I haven't had a good "apologetics" type post in a while, and since I was asked about infant baptism and hadn't already discussed it, I figured I'd seize the opportunity and post about it now.

First I'll answer the "why" question...why is it that babies need to be baptized at all since they can't consent to baptism themselves? The simple answer is, Catholics believe in original sin, and believe that baptism washes away both original and personal sin. In children and infants, who have no personal sin, it washes away original sin, and infuses them with Sanctifying Grace. It makes us holy!

Now, it may be helpful to ask, what is original sin? For that we can look to the Catechism, which says, "original sin is called ‘sin’ only in an analogical sense: it is a sin ‘contracted’ and not ‘committed’—a state and not an act" (CCC 404).

As this article from Catholic Answers explains, "This sin of Adam’s was not your ordinary sin. This was a sin that affected all mankind forever. This sin changed the course of human history. It did not just affect Adam personally; it also affected his human nature—which means it affected our nature, since we inherited it from him."

So, we are born into the state of original sin, separated from God. Baptism brings us back into union with God, and infuses our souls with Sanctifying Grace. One man’s disobedience leads to death for all; one man’s obedience leads to life for all. We see this parallel in 1 Corinthians 15:21–22: "For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive."

Historically, we see that infant baptism was not a problem for the vast majority of Christians until quite recently. Children were baptized in the early Church (regardless of how that was the Latin rite we baptize by infusion...that is, we pour water, to mirror the way the scriptures describe the Holy Spirit being poured on us, in the East they immerse babies.) Jews circumcised babies on the 8th day, that is how their children became Jews. When Christ came around, they were told baptism was the new circumcision, baptism was the way which children would become Christians. If it was the new circumcision, BUT it wasn't supposed to be done to babies anymore as circumcision was, surely this would have been mentioned, as the assumption would be that with this particular parallel, unless otherwise noted, baptism, as circumcision, was to be done to babies as well as adults. And yet, nowhere in the scriptures do we see any clarification that it's not to be done to babies as circumcision was.

Now, with most controversies, we find many writings in the early Church discussing the various sides of the debate. The earliest we see any talk about whether or not babies should be baptized is in the 3rd century...and the controversy was not "should babies be baptized?" but rather "WHEN should babies be baptized?" You see, some people thought that since it was the new circumcision, they should wait until the eighth day to baptize babies as they did with circumcision. The decision was made that it was not necessary to wait until the eight day.

After that, the next time infant baptism was widely questioned in any way was the Reformation over a millenium later.

So, putting aside the issue for the moment of how baptism was done, historically it can't be denied that infant baptism was completely accepted in the early Church.

Now, let's look at the issue of how baptism is done.

As far as when something other than baptism by immersion was used, it's clear that it was already happening in the first century. The Didache, also called "The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles," a kind of liturgical manual, is commonly held to have been written as early as 70 AD, or at the very latest, the beginning of the second century. From Catholic Answers:

In its seventh chapter, the Didache reads, "Concerning baptism, baptize in this manner: Having said all these things beforehand, baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit in living water [that is, in running water, as in a river]. If there is no living water, baptize in other water; and, if you are not able to use cold water, use warm. If you have neither, pour water three times upon the head in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." These instructions were composed either while some of the apostles and disciples were still alive or during the next generation of Christians, and they represent an already established custom.

So again, historically, the practice of baptism by infusion was already accepted as valid at the time this was written. Basically, it comes down to the fact that baptism is a sacrament (an outward sign of an inward grace) that uses water as the physical manifestation of God washing away sins. When we wash ourselves physically, it's not necessary to immerse ourselves in a bathtub of water...we can also take showers where water pours over us. There is a lot of language in the scriptures that describe the Holy Spirit being "poured" onto us, which backs this up.

I'd also mention that for those who die unbaptized, especially children, we trust in God's infinite mercy and hope with confidence in His mercy that they will be taken care of, whether that is by an implicit baptism of desire or some other way, we don't know.

And no, holy water isn't expensive, lol! It isn't bought, regular water is blessed by the priest, and this is how it becomes holy water =) Hope that helps, and kudos to Hollie for explaining Catholic stuff to people! :-D

Friday, December 08, 2006

Happy Feast of the Immaculate Conception!

Today we celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Holy Virgin Mary. We do not worship her, rather we worship and praise God for creating her in this way so that Christ, the Word of God Incarnate, would have a pure and holy vessel untouched by sin, just as the Ark of the Covenant, which held the Word of God inside it, was pure and untouched.

Here is more about the Immaculate Conception from Catholic Answers:

It’s important to understand what the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is and what it is not. Some people think the term refers to Christ’s conception in Mary’s womb without the intervention of a human father; but that is the Virgin Birth. Others think the Immaculate Conception means Mary was conceived "by the power of the Holy Spirit," in the way Jesus was, but that, too, is incorrect. The Immaculate Conception means that Mary, whose conception was brought about the normal way, was conceived without original sin or its stain—that’s what "immaculate" means: without stain. The essence of original sin consists in the deprivation of sanctifying grace, and its stain is a corrupt nature. Mary was preserved from these defects by God’s grace; from the first instant of her existence she was in the state of sanctifying grace and was free from the corrupt nature original sin brings.

When discussing the Immaculate Conception, an implicit reference may be found in the angel’s greeting to Mary. The angel Gabriel said, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you" (Luke 1:28). The phrase "full of grace" is a translation of the Greek word kecharitomene. It therefore expresses a characteristic quality of Mary.

The traditional translation, "full of grace," is better than the one found in many recent versions of the New Testament, which give something along the lines of "highly favored daughter." Mary was indeed a highly favored daughter of God, but the Greek implies more than that (and it never mentions the word for "daughter"). The grace given to Mary is at once permanent and of a unique kind. Kecharitomene is a perfect passive participle of charitoo, meaning "to fill or endow with grace." Since this term is in the perfect tense, it indicates that Mary was graced in the past but with continuing effects in the present. So, the grace Mary enjoyed was not a result of the angel’s visit. In fact, Catholics hold, it extended over the whole of her life, from conception onward. She was in a state of sanctifying grace from the first moment of her existence.

Today is a Holy Day of Obligation, so don't forget to go to mass!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

St. Nicholas - The Real Santa

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Nicholas, the 4th century bishop who became the larger than life Christmas icon. Having come from a wealthy family, when his parents died he began to use his wealth to help the poor and needy, and he gave generously.

One story tells of a poor man with three daughters. In those days a young woman's father had to offer prospective husbands something of value—a dowry. The larger the dowry, the better the chance that a young woman would find a good husband. Without a dowry, a woman was unlikely to marry. This poor man's daughters, without dowries, were therefore destined to be sold into slavery. Mysteriously, on three different occasions, a bag of gold appeared in their home-providing the needed dowries. The bags of gold, tossed through an open window, are said to have landed in stockings or shoes left before the fire to dry. This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas. Sometimes the story is told with gold balls instead of bags of gold. That is why three gold balls, sometimes represented as oranges, are one of the symbols for St. Nicholas. And so St. Nicholas is a gift-giver.

See this page to read more about St. Nicholas and the traditions that many people practice to celebrate this day.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Some Holiday Humor

What's the difference between a Protestant and a Catholic?

The Protestant puts away his graven images after the holidays are over.

Thanks to Tiber Jumper for that little gem, and for the nice explanation of why Catholics don't worship statues that follows! Praise God for Beautiful sacred art!

Getting To Know You Holiday Edition

Just for Kasia! :-D

1. Egg nog or hot chocolate? That's tough...but I have to agree with Kasia, eggnog at the holidays, hot chocolate the rest of winter!

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? When I was a kid, it was both. There were usually a handful of "biggish" presents that were unwrapped. (Stuffed animals, globes, big plastic toys, etc.)

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? I prefer white, more classic looking.

4. Do you hang mistletoe? Never have!

5. When do you put your decorations up? The day after Thanksgiving!

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? Ummm...I love candied yams.

7. Favorite holiday memory as a child: Waking up and walking into the living room on Christmas morning, seeing the beautiful tree, eyeing the stockings and wondering what they were filled with. Good stuff!

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I honestly don't remember!

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Growing up we never did. Now we open gifts after we get back from midnight mass, so it's technically Christmas by then =)

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? White lights with gold and red balls, gold and red ornaments that are usually a music or religious theme (angels, angels with instruments, etc), draped with garland of gold beads. So far the new cat has been VERY well behaved around the tree!

11. Snow! Love it or dread it? Umm...I love the idea of it, so I think I would love it, but I don't have enough experience to actually say for sure.

12. Can you ice skate? Absolutely not, I have NO balance.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? That's pretty cherry wood music stand? As far as practicality, I love my PDA!

14. What's the most important thing about the holidays for you? Christ’s birth!

15. What is your favorite holiday dessert? Hmmm, I love all things mint chocolate, so pretty much anything mint chocolate, and there's a lot of that around during the holidays!

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? It's still pretty new for me, but I have to say going to midnight mass (if that can be called a "tradition.")

17. What tops your tree? A nice gold star on top (which I was never allowed growing up, as we didn't celebrate Christ's birth at Christmas)

18. Which do you prefer, giving or receiving? Ok this is going to sound weird...but I think my favorite part about gifts is wrapping them!!! Lol, I love to make pretty packages, and I'm kinda sad once they're opened and destroyed, ha. But I really, really love receiving gifts too, it is my primary love language so that's a given. ;-)

19. What is your favorite Christmas song? Either O Holy Night, or Ave Maria (which is not really a "Christmas" song, but it's always played a lot around Christmas time.)

20. Candy canes: yuck or yum? Yum!

21. Favorite Christmas movie? Uuhhh...A Charlie Brown Christmas? No! Rudolph!! Lol, it just brings back memories of when I was a kid =)

22. What do you leave for Santa? Now nothing, as a kid we always did cookies and milk!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!...or Advent, anyway!

Hey Hollie, since today is your birthday you popped into my head...why don't you fill this one out? And I hope your B-Day is wonderful!!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

My Early Christmas Present!

This adorable kitty is Berlioz, my new cat!! He is my first cat, I've never owned a cat (my sisters are both horribly allergic), and until recently I thought of myself pretty much as a strictly dog kinda person. But, hubby helped win me over into appreciating cats, and after seeing my parents (and brother) adopt Max, and trying to figure out what I wanted for Christmas, the idea of adopting a cat grew and grew on me. I finally decided once and for all that a cat would, indeed, be my Christmas present, and we went to the shelter this past Friday.

We had looked online and seen several precious cats. Once we saw the cats in person at the shelter, it didn't take long for us notice Berlioz (then named Freddie.) What I have always loved about dogs is that they are so sweet and affectionate. Most cats I have interacted with are pretty snobby...but not Berlioz! As soon as Camille and I sat down, he came right to us and started rubbing up against us, and standing on his hind legs like he wanted us to pick him up. When he came up into our laps, he started rubbing his face on ours, which was just too cute! He wasn't too playful (I'm still a bit shy around cat teeth and claws!), or too hyper, or very loud...he was just perfect! We visited with several other kitties, but kept coming back to him. He's about a year old, is super friendly, and so, so sweet and tender. We put him on hold before leaving, and then came back the next day to pick him up. We couldn't wait to get him home!

Since Berlioz has been home, he has checked out the whole house, and he tends to follow us around and want to be with us. He loves to snuggle and give kisses. Last night he was gone for a little while and we couldn't figure out where he was! We looked and looked all over the house, and finally realized he had fallen into the Christmas tree box under the bed and gotten stuck, lol! He was so quiet the whole time that we had a hard time finding him.

Well, that's about all I have to say about Berlioz for now. I'm so happy to have this sweet cat with us! I'll be sure to share more about him in the future!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A Beautiful Transformation in My Own Back Yard!

A little while ago I was driving up North to Round Rock, and as I was driving on the highway I saw in the distance a beautiful looking church. I wondered what it was, and today I found out by a complete coincidence!

Thanks to The Roving Medievalist, I saw this post on The Cafeteria is Closed about a Catholic Church in Austin that went from ugly modern to gorgeous traditional. Just look at the transformation! (Just for clarity, it's not actually the same building, it was built nearby the old church.)

Outside of church before:

Outside of church after:

Inside of church before:

Inside of church after:

Apparently this is now the largest Catholic Church in Central Texas! We just might have to stop by and visit sometime. Praise God for a renewal of beautiful architecture!

Time Flies...

Well, my board fast is quickly coming to a close! I can't believe how fast it has flown by. I'm proud to say that I accomplished everything on my to-do list, plus more! As excited as I am to be able to reunite with my online friends, I'm also a bit nervous. I don't want to fall back into old habits again of neglecting housework and hubby. I think I'm going to try to stick by a couple rules:
  1. Housework must be done before even checking the boards. (In the case of laundry, where I have to wait in between loads, everything possible must be done, and laundry must be taken care of as soon as it's done, no putting it off until this or that post is made or read, etc.)
  2. Once hubby is home, evening board time will be limited to one hour collectively. (This may mean I am not as quick to respond to posts as I have been in the past, it may take me a full 24 hours to get back to a post to respond, but that will just have to do, my home and family need to come first.)

Hopefully with these guidelines, I'll be able to enjoy the boards without having them consume me as they have in the past. Wish me luck!

Monday, November 27, 2006

By What Authority? An Evangelical Discovers Catholic Tradition

After finishing The Science Before Science and then enjoying Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, I was finally able to read this book by Mark Shea, which I have been looking forward to. What I loved about it was the logical progression of thought flowing from the overall and primary question which is often thoughtlessly assumed in the affirmative by many protestants, is scripture sufficient? With this one question, the reader is taken down many avenues of necessarily related sub-questions. Where did we get the Bible from, anyway? Could the Biblical canon itself be from Tradition? Can the scriptures themselves tell us which books belong in the Bible? (Is there a self-attesting canon?) Is all tradition necessarily the tradition of men? Are there examples of tradition used in the bible? Do evangelicals use tradition? Did the Church come from the Bible, or did the Bible come from the Church? Does extra-biblical necessarily mean anti-biblical? And finally, can one accept the authority of that Tradition with regard to the canon while rejecting it with regard to everything else? These questions are answered logically and concisely in this easy to read book (I read it in one day, nearly in one sitting.) I would love to have read this during my conversion, as it tackles all the necessary questions in one easily accessible place, I certainly recommend it. Buy it directly from Mark Shea, and you can even get an autographed copy like I did!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Marie Antoinette - Superficial Candy Fluff that's Sure to Cause a Toothache

I wasn't planning on it, but I ended up going to see Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette at the theater with my mom. Now, let me explain...though we had heard the bad reviews, we were simply hoping for eye candy, pretty dresses and beautiful scenery...and we did indeed get that. But having to listen to the ridiculous 80s punk rock that accompanied it, along with the mishmash of American, English, and (rare) French accents, and seeing the completely modern ways of speech and behavior nearly ruined the prettiness of the visuals. It's really no wonder that it was booed in France, it truly was just an awful, vapid, film about nothing. It was endlessly boring, often containing disjointed party scenes with absolutely no point. It was certainly historically inaccurate, and even though we did only go for the eye turned out to be simply too sickeningly sweet because of the complete lack of was like pink frilly icing without any cake.

My advice, if anyone does want to enjoy the admittedly beautiful costumes and scenery without having to endure the horrid music and tedious dialogue (or should I say lack of dialogue?), is to watch this film with the sound turned off, and to supply your own soundtrack of Mozart or the like, and that way you can enjoy the sweetness of the eye candy without having to endure the pain of the toothache that accompanies it.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Eucharist Means Thanksgiving...

And so, this is particularly appropriate today.
Curtsy to Mark Shea for posting this, and especially to The Ironic Catholic for creating it! I love it!

Thank You, Lord

Today we celebrate Thanksgiving! As we reflect on what we are thankful for, and are reminded of our many blessings, let us not forget from whom all these good things come.

Thank you, Lord, for your Church. Thank you, Lord, for your most Holy Sacrifice in the Eucharist. Thank you, Lord, for life. Let us never be ungrateful, let us never forget our many blessings.

O Lord Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, our Salvation: We praise Thee and we give Thee thanks! And though we be unworthy of Thy gifts, and though we cannot offer unto Thee a fitting devotion, yet let Thy loving kindness supply for our weakness.

Before Thee, O Lord our God, all our desires are known, and whatsoever our heart rightly wills is a result of Thy grace. Grant that we may attain a genuine love of Thee. Let not Thy grace be unfruitful in us, Lord! Perfect that which Thou hast begun! Give that which Thou hast made us to long for. Convert our tepidity to fervent love of Thee, for the glory of Thy holy Name.


-St. Anselm

I wish everyone a happy and blessed Thanksgiving!!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Wiki B-Day Meme

I've been tagged by Tiber Jumper!

Three Events:
1756 - The Seven Years' War begins when England declares war on France.
1905 - Las Vegas, Nevada, is founded when 110 acres (0.4 km²), in what later would become downtown, are auctioned off.
1940 - McDonald's is founded.

Two Birthdays:
1567 - (baptism) Claudio Monteverdi, Italian composer (d. 1643)
1859 - Pierre Curie, French physicist, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1906)

One Death:
1886 - Emily Dickinson, American poet (b. 1830)

One Holiday/Observance:
Saint Dymphna's Feast Day


1) Go to Wikipedia
2) In the search box, type your birth month and day but not the year.
3) List three events that happened on your birthday
4) List two important birthdays and one death
5) One holiday or observance (if any)

I tag The Clam Rampant.

The Science Before Science: A Guide to Thinking in the 21st Century

I have finally finished reading this amazing book. I initially bought it for my husband, because he asked for it. After he read it, he said I needed to read it, and even though I wasn't very interested in it, I took his advice and I did. Now, I'm not much of a science person, I'm much more interested in the arts, which is why I wasn't attracted to reading it initially. But don't let the title of this book fool is about philosophy, and how to use it and apply it in our modern age. Anthony Rizzi describes the problems of much modern thought, which refuses to put "first things first," that is, much of modern thought puts the empiriological as the final goal, and ignores the ontological in the process. He reminds us that, "In all of this, we must remember that being is primary. Knowledge is about reality, not about knowledge." Without proper philosophy to connect the findings of empiriological science back to reality, we end up making absurd conclusions. One such example Rizzi gives is "the nothingness of atoms."

"...if we reduce everything to the arrangement of inert atoms and say atoms are mostly empty space, then we must conclude that we are mostly nothing. As we saw in Chapter 2, there are severe problems with this line of argument. The most manifest problem with the argument is that it implicitly assumes that we know atoms before we know ourselves. This is clearly not true. As we've emphasized, in trying to understand things, we must start with what is more known and proceed to what is less known. However, it is an occupational hazard of physicists, chemists, and scientists and engineers of all types to think of atoms as known first, for in their work, they often think in terms of atoms and not at all about those things that allow them to access and deduce the existence of atoms. These things include the scientists themselves, many other macroscopic things, as well as many significant ideas passed on to them by others.

We see many examples of scientists and philosophers who claim we cannot know that we exist, who claim we cannot trust our senses...and yet, they are happy to accept scientific studies of the physical world, which were done using those very senses they claim we can't trust. In the above example, we see how absurd it is to say that because atoms are composed of mostly nothing, we, therefore, must be mostly nothing...but this conclusion is a very plausible one to make when one doesn't take into consideration the ontological. Rizzi does an excellent job of pointing out such logical fallacies among modern thought, especially when talking about moral relativism, ethics within science, etc.

This is not exactly an easy read, it took me several months to get through it because it is so incredibly dense, I often had to take breaks just to grasp an idea before reading on. However, I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in science, in philosophy, in religion, or to anyone who is interested in human thought and learning. This book helps to make clear the purpose of all sciences, to find truth, to conform our minds with reality. To do this, we must first believe that there is a reality that exists, and this is not something that can be tested in a lab, it belongs in the realm of philosophy. An interesting point made in the book is that we all use philosophy, whether we know it or not, but when we do it without proper formation, it's easy to come to mistaken conclusions...even highly educated scientists can go astray because they are lacking proper knowledge of the science that must come before science, philosophy.

Now go out and buy this book!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Making Progress

I'm crossing more things off my list today, woohoo! I finally decoupaged a box to hold some ribbon, which isn't all that spectacular, and my box to hold candles and the table covers for my altar. It started off as a plain brown papier mâchè wine box, here it is now:

Then in the last 4 days, I was able to make my two sisters their Christmas presents. Here's the apron made with black toile, it's a bit crooked, but oh well, lol, I wasn't using a pattern so that's what I get!

And this is the apron done with red toile, which is my personal favorite! (I LOVE red!)

I can't believe the month is already more than half over!! The next thing on my list is to figure out what I'm going to be doing for Christmas cards this year...I have an idea, but we'll see. Besides that, I still want to get some reading done! I have so many books I want to read...I better get started on that now!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Christ Our Compass

My friend Thomas made an interesting post on his blog about the problem with institutionalized religion. I have to admit that I often associate this term with silly arguments against the Catholic Church like, "Oh priests just want to be powerful and rich" and "The Vatican tries to control everyone and take all their money and force them to have as many children as possible so there will be more Catholics to control," etc. (Yes, these are real comments I've heard, I didn't make them up, lol!) But this is not the intent of Thomas' post at all. The following is my response to his post:

When you first talked about institutionalized religion being something to avoid, I wasn't quite sure what you meant. But now I think I understand, especially with this statement:

When an institution become primary, the people within the institution become secondary--this is the epitome of what is to be avoided at all costs.

I think what you're saying is it's not the fact that insitutions exist (religious or otherwise) that is the problem, it's when they begin to put the good of the institution itself above all else that problems arise.

I absolutely agree with that too...I can't help but think of my years working at Target that started out wonderfully, but things changed when a new VP came along and suddenly the focus was all on getting everyone to apply for the Target credit card (didn't matter if they were obviously near the poverty level and not the best candidate to have a credit card), and the employees started to be treated like slaves, when prior to that it was actually very nice and flexible and just generally respectful. It really really turned me off and I couldn't wait to leave at the end.

Your friend's blog post is interesting...and I agree about 75% with the post. The part I agree with is that to focus on the group, to only worry about how things will affect the group is not the way a church should be run! I also agree that there should be concern for people and helping people...but what I think is missing is focus on Christ. I think any focus other than Christ is going to eventually go astray somehow, even if everyone has the best of intentions. It's possible for a church to try to be a "mission congregation" so much, since they are (rightly!) trying to get away from being a maintenance congregation, that they inadvertently forget about making Christ the primary focus.

This is how I would rephrase a few of those:

When thinking of its vision for ministry, the maintenance congregation says, “We have to be faithful to our past.” The Christ-focused congregation says, “We have to be faithful to Christ.”

The pastor in the maintenance congregation says to the newcomer, “I’d like to introduce you to some of our members.” In the Christ-focused congregation the faithful say, “We’d like to introduce you to Christ, especially in the Eucharist."

You see, when all the focus is on Christ and following Him, we will inevitably treat people with love and respect. If not, we're simply not following Christ! I'm also personally turned off by any group that puts any kind of large focus on converting others. (Can you imagine why, lol?) One of the things I loved about the Catholic Church was that people simply lived their lives and focused on Christ...and that in itself attracted converts, that's all that was necessary.

As far as other churches, while I believe there are many sincere, well meaning and good natured people out there reaching out to other people and doing wonderful things to help others, I also think a lot of people are missing something, through no fault of their own! I think this is easy to see in the types of worship service a church has.

In the CoC, you have everything focused on the Bible, often to the point of bibliolatry. In other churches (and even sadly creeping into some Catholic churches), you often have (again, without people even realizing it) a lot of focus on pleasing people, changing up services simply to attract newcomers, to be entertaining, etc. But look at a mass and the focus is clearly on Christ, literally in the architecture, in the art, in the crucifix smack dab in the front and center above the altar, in the order of worship leading up to the pinnacle, which is the consecration of the Eucharist, of Christ in the flesh.

This is just a physical representation of how I believe the Catholic Church works. In all things, focus on Christ will manifest itself as love and respect of others. And so while I agree with the problem, I, personally, believe the solution is just making Christ the focus above all else, and everything else will fall into place. Just my humble opinion, of course. ;-)

I have this image in my head of know how when you drive, you look ahead and in the distance. To focus too close on the road in front of you is dangerous; to focus on trying to stay within the lane by staring at the stripes on either side of the road is also dangerous and often does exactly the opposite of what you want, you actually end up gravitating towards the stripes; to look behind you is also dangerous. The only way to achieve what you want is to focus ahead and in the distance, and all these other things fall into place. In my mind, Christ is what we should focus on, and all these other things will fall into place.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Say Hello to Max!

No, he's not mine...he's my brother's! (Though I think my mom wanted him nearly as much as my brother, lol.) He's a cutie, and very friendly. I just hope my brother and parents take better care of him than we did my childhood cocker spaniel, Lady. Poor thing...she was left in the back yard and often forgotten about, overall she was not very well taken care of. But fortunately, they're keeping Max indoors so I think there will be a better chance that he is well taken care of. I'm crossing my fingers that my brother will actually show some responsibility with him, and that my parents will stay on top of bro if he doesn't. Max came to my house with my brother today for school, and that's when I was able to take some pics of him.

Here are a few more for your viewing pleasure:

And I'm thinking about what to ask Santa for Christmas, thoughts of cute furry creatures are dancing in my head...

Board Fast Update

Things are going very well so far! I'm enjoying being able to use my little prayer corner, I just finished my puzzle, and I'm about to start working on Christmas presents! (I'm going to be attempting to make vintage style half aprons for my sisters like the one a wonderful gal from the NFP board made for me a while back, which you can see here.) Then I need to figure out what I'm going to be doing for Christmas cards this year. I still haven't gotten around to reading anything from my long list of books, and the month is almost half over!! I really need to figure out what I'm going to be doing once the board fast is over....I'm so much more productive, but I also miss the boards! Maybe I can set certain times during the day that I'm allowed to play on the computer...I'll just need to work really hard at sticking to them!

Alright, well I better get back to being productive!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Strange Dreams...

Wow, I just had a really weird dream - which is not uncommon, but still! (Warning to hubby - you won't like this, read with caution!!) I dreamt that I was spending all my time with a mod on one of the boards I frequent, like, in person. Lol...we were chatting, but at the same time we were together with all the other people chatting. Then, for some reason, the board was being shut down, and we were all sad, but the mod and I were especially sad, and kept saying how much we'd miss each other, and how much fun we had chatting. Then we ended up spending the night together (just talking!), and we were trying to figure out how we could talk other places besides the board. I gave him my AIM screenname (again, somehow this allowed us to talk in person, lol), and he asked for my phone number, but I told him I hated talking on the phone (which is true!). We were both married...and there was some weird side story with a child they thought had died but hadn't(???). The crazy thing is, I woke up (to take my temp) and then went back to sleep and the dream continued. More wanting to talk, missing each other, not paying attention to spouses, etc....CRAZY!!

I think this dream is a manifestation of the guilt I feel for neglecting hubby because of spending so much time on boards. I'm sorry darling!! (((((Cam))))) Tu me manques et je t'aime!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Stockings are Done!!!

Yay! I'm so happy that we'll finally have real stockings this year for Christmas, and even a mantle to hang them on (even if the chimney is non-functioning, lol.)

The first is Camille's stocking, which I bought about 5 years ago (ack!) and have worked on intermittently since then. It's completely cross-stitched:

The second is my own, which I bought about 2 years ago. It's just embellished needlepoint, so it didn't take quite as long:

Now that those are done, onto my next projects! I have a puzzle that needs to be completed, a couple boxes that need to be decoupaged, and I need to figure out what I'm going to be doing for Christmas cards this year. So much to do! So little time!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

All Souls' Day

Today we celebrate All Souls' Day. From the Catholic Encyclopedia:

The commemoration of all the faithful departed is celebrated by the Church on 2 November...The Office of the Dead must be recited by the clergy and all the Masses are to be of Requiem, except one of the current feast, where this is of obligation.

The theological basis for the feast is the doctrine that the souls which, on departing from the body, are not perfectly cleansed from venial sins, or have not fully atoned for past transgressions, are debarred from the Beatific Vision, and that the faithful on earth can help them by prayers, almsdeeds and especially by the sacrifice of the Mass.

This day is also known as Le Jour des Morts, the Day of the Dead in France where it's customary to visit the graves of loved ones and place flowers on them, and most importantly to pray for them.

Today, along with praying for all the souls in Purgatory, I especially remember and pray for my English maternal grandmother, Nanny, who died of lung cancer when I was only ten. I also pray for my former choir director, Dr. Allen, who passed away not too long after I graduated.

O God! The Creator and Redeemer of all the faithful, grant to the souls of Thy servants departed the remission of all their sins: that through pious supplications they may obtain that pardon which they have always desired: Who lives and reigns world without end. Amen.

Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine; et lux perpetua luceat eis. Requiescant in pace. Amen.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord; and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Happy All Saints' Day!

Today we celebrate the Feast of All Saints. We honor those, known and unknown, who have gone before us and died in the faith of Christ. More than anything today, we glorify God for His loving Sacrifice through which we can receive His Sanctifying Grace, for it is only because of His Grace that we can become Holy, become Saints. So in honoring those who have become Holy, we honor Him who made it possible.

Here are today's readings:

Reading 1
Rev 7:2-4, 9-14

I, John, saw another angel come up from the East,
holding the seal of the living God.
He cried out in a loud voice to the four angels
who were given power to damage the land and the sea,
“Do not damage the land or the sea or the trees
until we put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.”
I heard the number of those who had been marked with the seal,
one hundred and forty-four thousand marked
from every tribe of the children of Israel.

After this I had a vision of a great multitude,
which no one could count,
from every nation, race, people, and tongue.
They stood before the throne and before the Lamb,
wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.
They cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne,
and from the Lamb.”

All the angels stood around the throne
and around the elders and the four living creatures.
They prostrated themselves before the throne,
worshiped God, and exclaimed:

“Amen. Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving,
honor, power, and might
be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”

Then one of the elders spoke up and said to me,
“Who are these wearing white robes, and where did they come from?”
I said to him, “My lord, you are the one who knows.”
He said to me,
“These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress;
they have washed their robes
and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.”

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 24:1bc-2, 3-4ab, 5-6

R. (see 6) Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
The LORD’s are the earth and its fullness;
the world and those who dwell in it.
For he founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.

R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
Who can ascend the mountain of the LORD?
or who may stand in his holy place?
One whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean,
who desires not what is vain.

R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
He shall receive a blessing from the LORD,
a reward from God his savior.
Such is the race that seeks him,
that seeks the face of the God of Jacob.

R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.

Reading II
1 Jn 3:1-3

See what love the Father has bestowed on us
that we may be called the children of God.
Yet so we are.
The reason the world does not know us
is that it did not know him.
Beloved, we are God’s children now;
what we shall be has not yet been revealed.
We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him,
for we shall see him as he is.
Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure,
as he is pure.

Mt 5:1-12a

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain,
and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.
He began to teach them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you
and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward will be great in heaven.”

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Family Altar

One of the projects I wanted to get done before I started my board fast was setting up a family altar, a place for prayer. Now, ideally, this would be bigger, it would be out in a more conspicuous place, but seeing as my CoC family is over often and they would see this as a shrine to the devil, I decided to make it a bit more discrete. So it's located in a corner of our bedroom, which is quite hidden when the door is open, lol. Here's a description of what all is there:

I got some holiday napkins at Walmart in green, purple, and white, for the different liturgical seasons, and just sewed them up to fit over the little table! (That cost $3! Woohoo!) I'm decoupaging a wine box (lol, it's the only thing that will fit in the little space under the table) and keeping the other table covers, lighters, more candles, etc inside it for convenience.

On the stand, I have a little easle for prayer cards, and several prayer cards to switch out. Right now it has St. Gerard on it (can you guess why? *sigh*) And of course the standing crucifix, and little statue of Mary, and my rosary hanging beside it. A lot of this stuff I got from for really cheap!

On the middle shelf I have a small French Bible de Jérusalem, and an old French "Christian manual," which has the New Testament and Thomas à Kempis' The Imitation of Christ in it, which I have yet to read! (Adding that onto my already long list...) There is also an image of Our Lady. Underneath the shelf is a prayer card with the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary.

On the top shelf is just a simple Catholic book of common prayers, and an image of The Sacred Heart of Jesus. Good stuff!

I'm excited to start putting my little family altar to good use! I will keep all of my online friends in my prayers!

Board Fast

I've decided that through the month of November, I'm going to be taking a board fast from all the boards and forums I frequent. I know I spend too much time discussing on them, trying to answer questions about Catholicism, trying to correct misconceptions, and just generally chatting and having a good time. I need to remind myself that the world will still go on if I'm not answering questions about Catholicism! I need to focus on my own prayer life and my home...after all, it won't matter how much I talk about Catholicism if I don't practice it! So I'm hoping to take this time to reorganize my priorities, and also to be a bit more productive around the house. Just a few things I hope to accomplish are:
  • Read, read, and read some more. I have so many books waiting!!!
  • Finish our Christmas stockings once and for all!
  • Get into a habit of daily prayer and devotion.
  • Spend some more time in the kitchen cooking, maybe learn some new tricks.
  • Pay more attention to my darling husband who is SO patient with my board addiction.

I will continue to blog and check email, so I'll keep y'all updated as to how things are unfolding! I may even post some comments about the books I read, and some pics of the stockings once I get them done. Meanwhile, I'll be offering up prayers for all my wonderful friends on the many boards I frequent. Love you guys!!

Happy Halloween!

Lol, I thought this cartoon, posted on The Curt Jester was an appropriate post for today!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Praise the Lord and Pass the Salvation

The movie "Jesus Camp" inspired this article from a CoC ex-er.

Think about it. If you truly believed that everyone you knew or liked was damned unless you could open their eyes, you would probably get your butt in gear and evangelize the way these children are seemingly taught to at camp. It does not matter if you hate doing it, or if you find it profoundly embarrassing. Embarrassed isn’t an option when eternal souls are at stake.

Scary stuff...while I personally wasn't quite as scared of Hell, I can still relate, especially to the above paragraph. I always felt guilty that I was so shy and introverted, because it always made it hard for me to evangelize.

I'm so glad that weight has been lifted off of my shoulders...and it's so sad to see the poor children in the movie being weighed down by it. If you haven't seen it already, you can watch the trailer here.

Monday, October 23, 2006

And Even More Absurd TV Catholicism

CSI: Miami...they open a door to find a real goat's head with maggots crawling all over it. Delko remarks, "It's Santeria. I can't touch it." Wolfe asks, "Why not?" He answers, "I'm Catholic. These are holy objects, to touch them would be sacrilege."

Uuuhhhhhhh...WHA???? Caribbean magic/voodoo/evil junk is considered HOLY because it has elements of Catholicism in it?!? What is this guy smoking? much respect do you think Delko would pay to a consecrated host if he came upon one in his investigation? Considering his previous promiscuous escepades, he's not a very practicing Catholic. But add Caribbean magic to the mix and WATCH OUT! That's HOLY! Better cross himself and kiss the crucifix around his neck to keep the boogeymen away. *Eyeroll*

Rock On, Ben Stein!

Someone posted this on the NFP board (it was verified by Snopes). With the cooler weather we had here in Texas today, I figured I was allowed a post mentioning Christmas, even if it is still a bit early! ;-) So, here is a commentary about Christmas from Ben Stein:

Herewith at this happy time of year, a few confessions from my beating heart:

I have no freaking clue who Nick and Jessica are. I see them on the cover of People and Us constantly when I am buying my dog biscuits and kitty litter. I often ask the checkers at the grocery stores. They never know who Nick and Jessica are either. Who are they? Will it change my life if I know who they are and why they have broken up? Why are they so important? I don't know who Lindsay Lohan is, either, and I do not care at all about Tom Cruise's wife.

Am I going to be called before a Senate committee and asked if I am a subversive? Maybe, but I just have no clue who Nick and Jessica are. Is this what it means to be no longer young. It's not so bad.

Next confession: I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees Christmas trees. I don't feel threatened. I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are: Christmas trees. It doesn't bother me a bit when people say, "Merry Christmas" to me. I don't think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn't bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a creche, it's just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution and I don't like it being shoved down my throat.

Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship Nick and Jessica and we aren't allowed to worship God as we understand Him?

I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where Nick and Jessica came from and where the America we knew went to.

Friday, October 20, 2006

TV Catholicism

Hubby pointed out to me a post on The Cafeteria is Closed about last night's episode of CSI, which was centered around a love triangle between 3 old friends, one of them being a Catholic priest, of course.

It always makes me laugh to see TV's version of Catholicism...first of all, they always happen to have the old cathedrals, the traditional music, nuns who actually wear habits (a young perky one with bangs, reminiscent of Maria from "The Sound of Music," and the obligatory jaded, grouchy, old one), confessional much of which is actually missing in most modern Catholic parishes! Second of all, the soundbites they have the Catholics say or people explaining Catholicism are usually off the wall ridiculous - like Grissom trying to pit forgiveness and penance against each other, as if they're somehow mutually exclusive. And of course, the old "Catholic guilt" cliché reared its ugly head, along with a misrepresentation of the requirement to forgive, and a confusion of the forgiveness given in confession with personal forgiveness we give. Grissom says to the priest, "You have to forgive him, don't you?" and the priest says, with a look of reluctance, "It's Christ's mandate." Well yeah...but we can choose to follow that mandate or not! There's this little thing we have called free will...and it's (purposely?) ambiguous as to whether he's talking about forgiving him personally, or acting in persona Christi to grant absolution in confession...which are two very different things.

All in all, the picture they paint on TV of Catholicism is so superficial, and often just plain wrong. Would it be that hard to do a little homework and get things right? They probably go to some former cradle Catholics on the set, get their info from them and figure it's accurate enough.

But of course, it's just Catholicism, so who cares, right?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

If Betty Butterfield visited the CoC...

Lol, several people on the ex-CoC board decided to speculate on what she would say, here is some of what they came up with:

I suggest this familiar font for the opening title:

And, of course, 728-B a capella for the opening sequence.

Then Betty comes on in her most depressed, hand-wringing, mood ever:
"This lady at work, bless her heart she don't never seem to smile or have nothin' fun in her life, like maybe gettin' her nails did, or wunna them pedicures, well she done invited me to this church, the 'Church of Christ.' I thought it was like the Church of God so I said Lawsy honey, if we gon' go down to the Church of God you have GOT to get your hair did, an' at least put on some ear-bobs!" but she seemed like the shy type and I thought soon as they get the spirit she'll loosen up ... Lawzy Mercy I do love my ear-bobs, these come from J.C. Penney!"

I looked in the telephone di-rectory and there were bunches of these churches of christ. Sometimes even two on the same street! I picked me out one that had "The Churches of Christ Salute You" printed under their listing. I thought that was real special.

I drove my Honda down to that part of town and like to have never found the place. They must not believe in puttin' up no signs or nuthin'. I drove by the place about 5 or 6 times before I realized it was a church. It didn't have no steeple or windows or anything on it. There was only one little-bitty sign that said "The church of Christ meets here".

I was afraid it might be one of them house churches or somethin' and I almost turned around and went back home, but I saw some men standing outside smokin' so I thought maybe they weren't too bad.

Well in we went and I mean they swarmed me like flies. I got whoozy from all the 'ttention. The ladies in the vestibule shook my hand, and one of them stuck a miniature rose on my chest. She said they gave one to all the visitors. Everything was going real good until I saw one of the ladies starin' at my Joyce Meyer's Study Bible...

They was real nice til they heard I was attending the churches of my choice to learn more about God's houses. Then I heard one of the women whisper, "she's a gonna go to HELL for that"....I couldn't stop my crying.......

Well, we sashayed on up the brown carpet and lawzy I ain't never seen so much brown, they was brown panelin' all over the walls, a brown alter thang and podium, and two brown what-cha-call plaque thangs on the front walls sayin' what numbers to turn to in the songbook and who all attended and how much they give. The pews was brown too, and the bricks on the outside it was built of. They wat'n no steeple or no cross, just a sign and a parkin' lot, not even a swingset for the babies. Them babies had to sit still an' I saw this one woman haul off an' swat her baby's bottom with a songbook, for droppin' her pacifier. I give her a nasty look but then her husband give me a even nastier one. I sure hoped when they got the spirit they was fixin' to git in a better mood.

There was this little swimmin' pool behind the preecher. I thought that was nice. He could get his exercise in that pool after the people went home. The pool shoulda been bigger, though. Were'nt big enuf fer a good swim.

The preacher didn't wear no robes or nuthin', just like a Baptist. An' he hollered like a Baptist too--only what he was hollerin' about was how wrong all the Baptists were! I guess maybe his daddy was a Baptist an' he's takin' out his childhood traumas. Now I ain't takin' up for that Billy Graham, no way no how, lord he's done got one foot in the grave an' he ain't never gotten the holy spirit yet. I keep prayin' the spirit will come on him before he goes to Heaven so he'll know what they're talkin' about in case they speak in tongues up there. Well let me tell you, them church of Christ people don't just think he's behind on gettin' the full gospel, they think he's all the way goin' to Hell, an' I mean for eat-ernity.
Lawd I never heard nobody's ever preached that strict, even them Mormons!

When that preacher finally got through with what-all was wrong with Billy Graham, he read this Bible verse "Baptistm does also now save us" and then he asked the congregation, "WHAT did it say also now saves us?" an' nobody answered so I spoke up. "Baptism, you just said it that's right ain't it" an' he didn't even pay me no mind. Them other people shushed me right quick so's I thought I had the answer wrong!

And den when the praycheer finished talking he offered an invitation. I nudged the lady sittin' next to me and ask her where the party is at? Lawd I love a good brisket and iced tea and that is what they would have at a party. But before she could answer they started singing...again. Dey sang so many songs- but not all the versus. The words are all wrong though. I didn't know I was at the poor church- they didn't even have a piano or organ.

Then a few of the men stood in front of the remembrance table. And wanted to pray again. Then they carried plates that looked like chargers. I've got one at home that I got from JC Penney's. Lawd, it makes my table look so pretty at Thanksgiving. Their chargers had little pieces of crackers in, and people were reaching in and getting just one and eating it. That's jest nasty. I couldn't do that. I guess it was appetizer before the party. If they are gonna be that cheap- they can keep their brisket.

Well, I won't be goin' back to that awful place. (crying) Those mean people didn't even mention God's good grace. I's glad I could smoke with some of the men out front, but Sister Idalene came chargin' out and told me that I had better get movin' out of the lot--they didn't have any room for the likes o me. I'm sa sad, I think I need to go back to the Cath-Licks.

And now I am out of Prozac and it's Sunday and the Dr's office isn't open till tomorrow... Oh Laudy, what am I going to do... What an awful day, just awful I tell ya....

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

For my CoC readers...

Just a little reflection on that special week called Lectureship...

He said blood 57 times during his sermon, there were 33 scripture references, 21 calls to repent, and 16 "Amens!" Amens? At a Church of Christ? was lectureship, that magical week where it was ok, for some mystical reason, to do something other than sit placidly in the pew. Of course, an "Amen" was the most charismatic things would get, and it was still only the men who were allowed to vocalize their approval, we women mustn't make a peep!

So instead, my best childhood girlfriend and I sat together, making sketches of the backs of people's heads, scribbling notes to each other, and when we really got bored, we started counting amens. Lectureship sermons seemed to drag on forever, and unlike Sunday, where at least we had the singing to look forward to to break up the monotony, lectureship week was mostly full of...well...lectures.

There were a few other atypical phonomena that appeared during that exceptionally different yet insufferably dull week, like book sales. It was the one time of the year where objects were allowed to be sold in the church building-Bibles, tracts, booklets, coloring books, activity books, bookmarks with verses written on them-the room regularly used for bible class became a captivating boutique filled with all things biblical. It almost felt deliciously rebellious to buy something from it. I never did understand what it was about lectureship that dispensed the church building from its usual prohibition of sales in the building, but I dutifully believed there must be a good reason anyway, especially so I would feel no guilt after buying a pretty new bookmark for my bible.

Old friends, new friends, and well known preachers from all around came to the lectureship. In the halls, whispers about this or that preacher from this or that town were everywhere. The church building was live and bustling for that week (except of course, when there was actually a sermon being said.) And then, it was done. Everyone went home, the mystical book store was disassembled and no evidence of it was left behind, all the men knew not to say "Amen" anymore, and my best friend and I were happy to be able to look forward to less lecturing, and more singing. Amen!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Don't Be Afraid of Food!!'s a wonderful thing! Unfortunately, in America we have a largely unhealthy view of it. We equate food with "guilt" and talk about enjoying it as if it's something sinful. One of the biggest culprits, in America's collective mind, is FAT. Fat is an evil to be avoided at all costs. It makes sense after all...if we stop eating fat, we won't get fat! And so, with our wonderful technology we turned our food into science experiments and extracted the fat, and replaced it with chemicals to add some flavor. Mmmm...yum. Chemically altered food.

One would think that after coming up with an abundance of chemically altered foods with low fat and no fat, we'd start shrinking, right? But that hasn't fact, the obesity has only gotten worse since the war on fat started. So we moved on to obsessing about calories, or carbs...if we only make more science experiments by taking out calories and carbs and call them food, we'll surely start shrinking then! Again, this doesn't seem to have worked. So what's the problem?

The problem is we're looking at food as if it's a science experiment. The problem is, instead of learning some self control, people want to be able to eat as much as they possibly can without the consequences. (Hmmm...sound familiar? *cough* contraceptive mentality *cough*) But by trying to separate real food from its natural nourishment, they're not only compromising their health, they're missing out on a beautiful thing!

Take a look at the French...their obesity rate is much, MUCH lower than the American obesity rate. Are they known for their chemically altered "faux food"? Do they obsess about the fat/calorie/carb content of any given food? NO!(You'll be out of luck if you want to find nutritional info on a lot of foods in France!) They're known for fresh, real, delicious, rich, naturally good food. The difference is, they know how to eat it! They know how to savor it, how to enjoy it, and most importantly, when to stop.

There are plenty of other things Americans need to learn...for instance, that pouring sugar (whether it's fake or real) down our throats during a meal and calling it a drink is just wrong. That wolfing down our food like there's a chance it's going to leap off the plate is not a good thing. That eating "empty foods" all day is simply not going to curb hunger. But I think the number one thing they need to learn is moderation.

It's ok to enjoy some naturally rich ice cream, it's ok to enjoy mashed potatoes made with real butter and sour cream, it's ok to enjoy delicious cheese...don't be afraid of fat in food! We NEED fat to survive! But don't overdo it either, enjoy it in moderation.

A recommended book, which goes into this plus much more in great detail is The Fat Fallacy. (It's along the same lines as French Women Don't Get Fat, but I found it to have more practical info...there are even recipes in the back!)

Bon Appétit!!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Betty Butterfield Visits the Catholic Church

Lol...there's a whole series of "Betty Butterfield visits X church," and they're all pretty funny. Here's the Catholic one:

My thanks to the ex-CoC board for pointing them out.

Poor guys didn't know what they were getting themselves into...

I'd bet my house that this guy is Church of Christ!

It's always kind of sad to watch the bewilderment on a zealous Catholic's face when they're told, "Sorry, we can't celebrate our common love for Christ with each other because Catholics are wrong." Kinda makes you wonder what they think of that whole, "he that is not against us is for us" deal Jesus talked about.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Do Catholics Believe Sexual Pleasure is Bad?

While perusing the Preacher's Files (what can I say, I'm a glutton for punishment!), I came across this thread discussing family size. One member raised the point that sex and marriage are ordered towards children, and that he felt to get married and outright refuse to ever have children was being selfish. Not surprisingly, someone accused him of sounding very "Catholic." He went on to give a good explanation of how our society has distorted sex, and how contrary to modern thought, pleasure is not the primary purpose of sex.

Another poster, wanting to clarify (and most certainly wanting to put immeasurable distance between a fellow CoC member and any remote possibility of sounding Catholic) said this:
Certainly you are not advocating the catholic position wherein sex should ONLY be for the purpose of having children and one should feel guilty if they seek pleasure from their spouse during a time they are not trying to have children??
Now...when I see such misinformation branded about, I feel absolutely compelled to say something. It's my downfall! And so I did. After a bit of banter about whether or not the Catholic Church had "changed their rules yet again," I was asked to prove that the Church has never taught it is wrong to enjoy the pleasure that comes from sex. That's right....I was asked to prove that something never happened. I tried to explain that the burden of proof was on the person making the claim. (It should be simple enough, right? Provide one official document showing this teaching.) Fortunately, the poster who had made the original statement came along and provided what he believed was proof.

I believe I made the comment that Stephanie quoted and said was a lie, [actually, I didn't say it was a lie, "lie" implies ill intent...I just said it wasn't accurate] so I'd like to back up my position.

Pope John Paul II made a comment in a public speech that a husband is committing adultery with his wife if his purpose is for pleasure. He was the "head" of the catholic church when he was the pope, was he not?

Here are some references to that.

First one must understand that not everything the pope says is infallible. Infallibility is only very rarely envoked. What a pope says personally while talking or writing is not automatically infallible, and is not automatically considered Church teaching.

With that said, the very article you provided explains the misunderstanding well:

In one sense the whole episode was a tempest in a cappuccino cup stirred by an example taken out of context. But the fuss reflected secular fears that the Pope might be returning to a view once held by many Catholic theologians that sexual pleasure even in marriage is deeply suspect. That is far from the case. In sermons and writings John Paul has dealt extensively with marriage, and often places a remarkably unpontifical emphasis on matters of the flesh. The book of Genesis, the Pontiff once declared, shows "the pure value of the body and of sex" in God's eyes.

John Paul has been talking about sex at most of his Wednesday audiences for more than a year. The troublesome phrase, in fact, was part of a discourse about the dignity of women and the need to distinguish, even in marriage, between sexual love and mere lust that makes sex objects of men and women alike.

In context, the Pope's ill-fated discourse only repeated a point of Christian teaching that has lately become a routine feminist complaint: a husband has no right to approach his wife simply to "use" her and make her "the object of the satisfaction of his own sexual 'need.'"

So, to more accurately descibe what the problem was, I would add the words "sole" and "primary" to your statement:

"Pope John Paul II made a comment in a public speech that a husband is committing adultery with his wife if his [sole and primary] purpose is for pleasure."

This is quite different than saying that the gift of marital pleasure, in and of itself, is something to be avoided or ashamed of.

The article below state: "Thus the Catholic Church does not condemn the presence of pleasure in marital sexual intercourse, but she does condemn the use of sexual intercourse exclusively for the sake of pleasure."

Yes! Exactly! Thank you for that....this is precisely the point. What I am saying is, the Church does not teach that pleasure is bad. The Church teaches that the pursuit of pleasure, above all else, selfishly, without regard to the other aspects of the marital embrace is bad. In other words, when sex becomes all about one's own pleasure, and not about showing your spouse love, something that is supposed to be selfless and loving turns into something selfish.

It's like...the primary purpose of eating is nourishment, right? This is the most important reason we eat. However, eating is also pleasurable! (Thanks be to God for such a gift!) It is not wrong at all to enjoy the pleasures of eating, it is good! It is natural! However, if we make the pleasure of eating the primary purpose of eating instead of nourishment, we can become gluttons. When we decide we only want to eat cake and cheetos because we like how they taste, and ignore our duty to be good stewards of our body, then we are abusing that pleasure. The pleasure itself is not wrong, it is the abuse of it that is wrong. Another example would be someone who purges themselves...they want to have the pleasure of eating, without accepting the consequences - the calories, the nourishment, etc. When we try to separate eating from its primary function, and elevate the by-product (pleasure) as the primary goal, then we have distorted the natural function of eating. So it is with intercourse.

Now I have a question regarding this catholic doctrine.....when a woman reaches the age of menopause, must she and her husband discontinue having sexual relations with one another???

Absolutely not. Again, the point is not "You must have babies with every sexual encounter, and you can't enjoy it." The point is, "You must use the gift that God gave you naturally without perverting it." When infertile couples (young or old) participate in the marital embrace, it is natural and good.

Here's a catholic source "free from doctrinal error" (see notation at the bottom of the pamphlet Nihil obstat and Imprimatur) that regarding foreplay (including oral sex) "The spouse is not the focus of the sexual foreplay; rather, sexual stimulation is the focus. It could almost be said that one spouse is having sex with sex rather than with the other spouse. This focus on sex rather than on the spouse is a poison to love and marriage."

In other words, the above "infalliable" opinion seems to imply that pleasure can not go hand in hand with "love and marriage." In fact, it is a "poison."

FIRST, a Nihil Obstat does not mean something is infallible. Here's an explanation of that:

Imprimaturs (and nihil obstats) are not infallible; it is possible for an imprimatur to be granted in error. There are cases where a book has been granted an imprimatur, only to have the imprimatur be revoked later when doctrinal problems in the book have come to light.

Also, an imprimatur doesn't meet that what the book says is correct; it only means that believing what it says does not conflict with the faith. Thus, a book that supports evolution could have an imprimatur, because this belief does not conflict with the faith. But a book supporting creationism could also have an imprimatur, because this alternative belief also does not conflict with the faith.

In short, an imprimatur means that you are allowed to believe what a book says, not that you are required to believe what it says.

SECOND, there is debate about this among Catholic theologians. The specifics have not been infallibly declared anywhere (and aren't likely to be considering the nature of the topic)...but we have some good guidelines.

The most famous writings on this subject are JPII's "Theology of the Body," and there is a book written to explain the TOTB in easier to understand ways called "The Good News About Sex and Marriage," by Christopher West. I know for a fact in this book, oral sex as foreplay is seen as perfectly fine, as long as the act is completed in the...proper place, if you know what I mean, so that it is not distorted. So again, there is debate among Catholic theologians about this...nothing is yet set in stone. The link you provided with the Nihil Obstat says only that it is not CONTRARY to the faith to believe oral sex is a distortion of the marital act. It doesn't say this is positively Church teaching. In other words, there are other places that also have the Nihil Obstat that say it is ok to use oral sex during foreplay, as long as there is proper completion. When there is not yet official teaching on something, Catholics are free to decide for themselves...a Catholic can believe either side and not contradict his faith, that is what the Nihil Obstat tells us in this case, not that this is infallible Church teaching.

THIRD, your statement, "...pleasure can not go hand in hand with 'love and marriage.' In fact, it is a 'poison,'" is not true. Even IF it were infallible teaching that oral sex, even in foreplay, is wrong (and it's not), this does not mean that pleasure itself is poison, as you said. It said, to focus on the pleasure alone to the detriment of the spouse is poison! You are confusing the idea of making pleasure the primary and sole purpose of sex, with the idea that pleasure accompanies sex. The pleasure itself is not bad and not something to be ashamed of. It is when pleasure becomes the sole purpose for sex that there is a problem. Do you see the difference?

I could go on and on. A simple google search finds many catholic resources that declare that physical pleasure within a marriage is sinful according to them.

Again, putting self-pleasure above the needs of one's spouse, making self-gratification top priority rather than wanting to give pleasure to one's spouse, only looking to receive instead of to give is the problem, not the pleasure itself. There's a big difference there!

On the other hand, the bible states that we are to pleasure our spouse so that they/we are not tempted to find it elsewhere.

And if you read the Theology of the Body, you would see just how firmly we Catholics hold to this belief as well.
So, as we can see, Catholics do NOT believe it is wrong to enjoy the pleasure that comes from the marital embrace, God created this and it is good. The Church simply teaches it is wrong to separate sex from its purpose, to elevate pleasure as the end goal, and to abuse sex as simply a means to achieve that goal.