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.”