“The issue is now quite clear. It is between light and darkness and every one must choose his side.” G. K. Chesterton

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Preparing for the Month of the Holy Rosary

October is a special month for Our Lady.  With the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary on October 7 and the commemoration of the Miracle of the Sun by Our Lady of Fatima on October 13, there are many reasons in particular to increase our devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  One particular thing we can do is to say a Rosary every day;  if that is already part of our devotional life, we can add another Rosary.  With the upcoming election, think about dedicating that extra Rosary for the needs of our country.  For more information about October, click on the following link.

Liturgical Year : October, Month of the Holy Rosary - Catholic Culture

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Fabulous post from Simcha Fisher

Hello all, sorry I haven't been on for the last week, but my computer died and it's been with the Geek Squad.  But I'm back.  Simcha Fisher has another great post over at National Catholic Register. She demolishes the radical turn the pro-choice movement has made, going from saying that abortion is necessary though undesirable to advancing it as a normal and positive event in most women's lives.

Who are the "one in three?" |Blogs | NCRegister.com

Friday, September 21, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday--1 to 4 from Susan, 5-7 from James

--- 1 ---

1.       Maggie and I watched a movie a few weeks ago called The Perfect Family.  While the movie itself was far from perfect, I thought it did do a nice job of portraying what real families are up against when they try to live out their faith in a seriously fallen world.  

--- 2 ---
1.       Apparently there is a new sort of Internet scam going around.  The other night, while Josh was watching a movie on a website, a page popped up telling him that the site he was watching had violated some copyright law and that the FBI was going to prosecute him.  He could, however, simply go ahead and pay a fine of $200 to a website they had set up for that very purpose.  Not surprisingly, he panicked, as did I when I saw it.  (James is always warning us to make sure that any site we use is a legal one).  Fortunately, we checked it out and found that it was just a scam. So, beware.
--- 3 ---

1.       This has been the first week in many that I haven’t had any writing to do and I have to admit that I don’t like it.  I find that I get much more done and am even happier when I have a lot to do.  Rest assured, there are still plenty of things I ought to be doing, its just that I find I miss an intellectual outlet.

--- 4 ---

1.       Maggie and Josh are now both baby-sitting every afternoon, which I find to be delightful.  They are both so good with kids and I find it very encouraging to hope that they will make excellent parents someday.

--- 5 ---
I think I posted a while back about a new organization, Catholics Called to Witness.  The husband and wife founders, Dr. Manuel and Adriana Gonzalez, were on EWTN Live with Fr. Mitch Pacwa on Wednesday.  During the program they played the great video they have featured on the CC2W website, "Test of Fire."  If you haven't seen it, here it is.

--- 6 ---
One of my favorite forms of music growing up was Broadway show tunes.  I may be the only heterosexual in America who can say that.  My favorite singer was Judy Garland.  Again, see previous sentence.  Simply because I like the song, here she is singing "The Trolley Song" from Meet Me In Saint Louis.

--- 7 ---

Everyone have a good weekend.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

We are the 53%!

By now, everyone in the United States, Canada, Europe, and parts of Antarctica have heard about Mitt Romney's statements, secretly recorded and leaked to a left-wing magazine, concerning the dependency of 47% of the American people on some form of government assistance.  This dependence, Romney stated, made this 47% unlikely to vote for him.  Since this statement, the mainstream in-the-tank-for-Obama media have been heralding this as a major candidacy killing gaffe--one so bad that the campaign might as well be over.  We might as well not have an election.  We should just declare Obama the winner and go back to watching Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo.

So while the media is eulogizing the "late" Romney campaign, no one is asking the obvious question.

What exactly is wrong with what Romney said?

It certainly is not the truth of what he said.  While a broad brush statement, in general Romney hit the nail on the head, as this Wall Street Journal article pointed out.

So if the furor is not because what Romney said was wrong, could it be because what Romney said was right?  I think the answer is yes.  Romney incurred the wrath of the media and the left because he took the class warfare argument Obama has been using for years and turned it on its head.

What do I mean?  Let me explain.  For the last couple of years, since the Occupy movement popularized the  notion of the 99% against the 1%--the latter being the rich members of our society.  The vision is that the 99% of average Americans are exploited by a small wealthy elite.  Obama has taken this and incorporated it into his campaign against Romney.  With Romney's comments, however, people have another vision to consider--a growing group of people who do not pay taxes, who rely on some form of government assistance, supported by a steadily shrinking percentage of Americans.  Romney's description is much more supportable by the evidence than the Obama/Occupy perspective.

Obama is the candidate of the 47%.  He is the candidate of dependency.  He is the candidate of victimhood.  He is the candidate of irresponsibility.  He is the candidate of the handout.

Romney is the candidate of the 53%.  He is the candidate of independence.  He is the candidate of possibilities.   He is the candidate of personal responsibility.  He is the candidate of the hand-up.

Let us stand up and say proudly--WE ARE THE 53%!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Wifey Wednesday--The Secret Life of the Woman in the Mantilla, Part 2

Now, what you've all been waiting for...part 2 from Susan:

First, please allow me to apologize for not getting this finished in a more timely manner. I trust that the few women who are so gracious as to read this will understand what I mean when I say, “It been crazy around here.” I also hope that the extra time I’ve had to ponder all things head covering will make this post worth the wait.

Before I go on, I want you to understand that I am not trying to encourage or discourage any type of head covering. There is plenty of information on that already available. What I do hope to do is share something of the story of how my journey through various head covering experiences mirrors my journey into the Catholic Church.

I think it all began with the old movies I sometimes saw as a child. In these movies, usually set in the days before Vatican II, the women wearing mantillas was as much a symbol of being in a Catholic Church as priests, nuns or stained glass windows. But to my little Baptist eyes, the lace scarves that those ladies and even little girls wore symbolized something much greater. It symbolized holiness and a sort of hushed devotion to God that I just didn’t see around me in Protestant circles.

Later, around the time I graduated from high school, hats came back into fashion and I was content. However, while the fashion passed, my interest in mantillas did not. In fact, it grew to that point that, when our family moved to Maryland, I made the comment to James that I would love to find a church where the women wore some sort of head covering during the (Presbyterian) worship service. When we visited the first church of our list, I was delighted to see doilies springing up around the auditorium like mushrooms.

Over the next few years I often spoke with the pastor, and even more often with his wife, about how central wearing something on one’s head was to a woman’s proper worship. In fact, the hand full of women who wore doilies on Sunday were part of a sort of inner circle that also home-schooled, hosted people for Sunday dinners and even lived together in a certain neighborhood. They had large, but not too large families, never traveled on Sundays and would not think of making any decision without consulting the pastor, who was seen as the ultimate authority on all things spiritual and temporal.

When we eventually found ourselves on the wrong side of the pastor’s opinion, we had to leave. In doing so, we lost all our friends and most of our acquaintances. I also lost, briefly, my desired to wear a head covering, as I had come closely associate it with feeling superior and showing the church which clique I belonged to.

Fortunately, God in his mercy led us to an Anglican Catholic parish where the priest loved us back into feeling safe in God’s house. I soon discovered that, while some women did wear doilies and others didn’t, it wasn’t a big deal. No one cared, except of course the woman who made it her mission in life to care about every little detail in the church from the style of cassocks to the height of the candles. I soon figured out that she was the authority in this church and began to work very hard to keep in her good graces.

By this time I was also thoroughly immersed in the Internet and began to come across more and more information on women covering their heads during worship. In fact, it became almost an obsession for me as 

I read first one author, then another, then another. But the problem was that the more I read, the more confused I became, and the more it seemed that it was ultimately anyone’s guess. Eventually, I realized that the same was true for most of what I had learned in my life as a Protestant.

Well, the priest that we loved left and with him much most of the life of that little church. We knew we needed to make a change, and began to consider going to Rome. However, I still had reservations on certain practices and doctrines—you know, Mary, the Eucharist, all the usual suspects for a cradle Protestant. Then one day I was watching EWTN and I heard something that would change my life. When Christ left the earth and gave the Great Commission to the 11 Apostles, it wasn’t just about evangelism, though obviously that was a big part of it. It was also about authority. He had actually left someone in charge and laid out how they would continue to perpetuate his teachings on earth.

I was thrilled and astounded! Did this really mean that I could stop changing my mind every time I read something new on the Internet? Could I really stop trying to figure everything out on my own and rely on the collective wisdom of 2000 years? I mean, that would really leave me a lot more time for crocheting and maybe even praying. And if this applied to head covering (which, by the way, the Church teaches is optional), what else might it apply to? Capital punishment? Contraception? Ministering to the poor? Yes, yes and yes.

So that is my story of how a little Baptist girl who was enchanted by lace scarves became a grown woman finally resting in the bosom of knowing that she doesn’t have to figure it all out herself.

Friday, September 14, 2012

7 Quick Takes--Study Helps from St. Thomas Aquinas

7 quick takes sm1 Your 7 Quick Takes Toolkit!

The thing I love, love, LOVE to do most in the world (after prayer) is reading and studying.  I usually have one or two--or five--books in various stages of completion.  Usually, it's a theological or spiritual work, but occasionally I let loose as read something a little lighter (like Chesterton).  One of the great things about reverting to the Catholic Church is the almost limitless amount of reading to do.

Studying the faith is absolutely essential.  We cannot be dumb Catholics.  We must know our faith in order to be able to share it with others when they ask and defend ourselves when attacked.  Every Catholic should at least study Scripture and the Catechism on a regular basis.  With the Year of Faith fast approaching, and the Holy Father calling on us to re-familiarize ourselves with our Catholic faith through prayerful study, I thought it might be nice to review some advice on how to study from one of the great Doctors of the Church, St. Thomas Aquinas.



Since you asked me, my dearest in Christ Brother John, how you should study in order to acquire the treasure of knowledge, I offer you this advice on the matter: Do not wish to jump immediately from the streams to the sea, because one has to go through easier things to the more difficult. Therefore the following points are my warning and your instruction:
  • I command you to be slow to speak, and slow to go to the conversation room.
  • Embrace purity of conscience.
  • Do not give up spending time in prayer.
  • Love spending much time in your cell, if you want to be led into the wine cellar.
  • Show yourself amiable to all.
  • Do not query at all what others are doing.
  • Do not be very familiar with anyone, because familiarity breeds contempt, and provides matter for distracting you from study.
  • Do not get involved at all in the discussions and affairs of lay people.
  • Avoid conversations about all any and every matter.
  • Do not fail to imitate the example of good and holy men.
  • Do not consider who the person is you are listening to, but whatever good he says commit to memory.
  • Whatever you are doing and hearing try to understand. Resolve doubts, and put whatever you can in the storeroom of your mind, like someone wanting to fill a container.
  • Do not spend time on things beyond your grasp.
Following such a path, you will bring forth flowers and produce useful fruit for the vinyard of the Lord of Power and Might, as long as you live. If you follow this, you can reach what you desire.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Optional Memorial of the Most Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Our Lady with her parents, Sts. Joachim and Anna
In accordance with Jewish custom our Lady's parents named her eight days after her birth, and were inspired to call her Mary. The feast of the Holy Name of Mary therefore follows that of her Birthday, as the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus follows Christmas. The feast originated in Spain and was approved by the Holy See in 1513; Innocent XI extended its observance to the whole Church in 1683 in thanksgiving to our Lady for the victory on September 12, 1683 by John Sobieski, king of Poland, over the Turks, who were besieging Vienna and threatening the West. This day was commemorated in Vienna by creating a new kind of pastry and shaping it in the form of the Turkish half-moon. It was eaten along with coffee which was part of the booty from the Turks.
The ancient Onomastica Sacra have preserved the meanings ascribed to Mary's name by the early Christian writers and perpetuated by the Greek Fathers. "Bitter Sea," "Myrrh of the Sea," "The Light Giver," "The Enlightened One," "Lady," "Seal of the Lord," and "Mother of the Lord" are the principal interpretations. These etymologies suppose that the Hebrew form of the name is Maryãm, not Miryãm. From the time of St. Jerome until the 16th century, preferred interpretations of Mary's name in the West were "Lady," "Bitter Sea," "The Light Giver," and especially "Star of the Sea." Stella Maris was by far the favored interpretation. The revival of Hebraic studies, which accompanied the Renaissance, led to a more critical appraisal of the meanings assigned to Our Lady's name. Miryãm has all the appearance of a genuine Hebrew name, and no solid reason has been discovered to warrant rejecting the Semitic origin of the word. The Hebrew name of Mary, Miryãm, (in Latin Domina) means lady or sovereign; this Mary is in virtue of her Son's sovereign authority as Lord of the World. We call Mary our Lady as we call Jesus our Lord, and when we pronounce her name we affirm her power, implore her aid and place ourselves under her protection.
(Excerpted from Mariology by Juniper B. Carol, O.F.M.)
 From Mary Vitamin:
Mary Vitamin for  September 11th
Topic: Holy Name of Mary (September 12)
St. Alphonsus di Liguori
"After the most sacred name of Jesus, the name of Mary is so rich in every good thing, that on earth and in heaven there is no other from which devout souls receive so much grace, hope, and sweetness."
The Glories of Mary , (Tan Books: 1978), 240.
St. Alphonsus di Liguori
"[T]he wonder of this great name is, that if heard by the lovers of Mary a thousand times, it is always heard again with renewed pleasure, for they always experience the same sweetness each time it is pronounced."
The Glories of Mary , (Tan Books: 1978), 240.
One way to honor the Holy Name of Mary is with the traditional Catholic devotion of praying the “Three Hail Marys.â€
In Devotion to Our Lady, Father Manelli writes about the practice of the Three Hail Marys:
 "The Saints have valued the Hail Mary as a prayer which puts devils to flight, which brings joy to the Angels, which gives glory to the Holy Trinity, and which gladdens Mary's Heart: 'Rejoice, O Lady full of grace!' St. Louis de Montfort said that the unfailing sign of true devotion to Mary is a love for the Hail Mary. Mary's true clients regard the Hail Mary as something very dear, and most expressive of their love for Our Lady. Is it not something beautiful to consider that with each Hail Mary one gives a kiss to our heavenly Mother?"
Devotion to Our Lady, (Academy of the Immaculate: 2001), 149.
To prepare for the feast of the Holy Name of Mary, I will begin my day with three Hail Marys and end the day with the Three Hail Marys.
Marian Vow:
Father Manelli, FI
"A long, complicated practice of piety might seem troublesome. But what is simpler than reciting three Hail Marys? It scarcely takes even a minute of time. What a beautiful thing it would be to begin and end our day by reciting the Three Hail Marys! It would mean offering Our Lady our day and our night, our work and our rest, our sacrifice and our relaxation. Should we not want to do this?"
Devotion to Our Lady, (Academy of the Immaculate: 2001), 149.
I give this resolution to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Thanks be to God for graces received.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Obama's Last Desperate Gamble

The past two weeks have presented to America the every four year spectacle of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions.  Once an important part of the presidential election process, they are now huge pep rallies for both major parties where the candidate who’s been known for month formally accepts their respective party’s nominations.  This year, Mitt Romney and President Obama went through the well-established ritual of the acceptance speech.  These usually set the themes for the respective campaigns. 

This year, the speeches were almost anticlimactic.  The themes for this election have been set for months, if not years.

The Republicans are running on growing the economy, controlling government spending, and shrinking the size of government (specifically, repealing Obamacare).  This is not surprising, considering the anemic growth rate since 2009 (an average of 2.2 percent), unemployment above 8 percent (closer to 15 percent if you include those who have simply stopped working), and a national debt that just passed 16 trillion dollars.  But one thing that’s been missing in their campaign have been the so-called “social issues”—abortion, same-sex marriage, etc.  It’s not that Governor Romney nor his strongly pro-life Catholic running mate Paul Ryan have ignored the issues or have altered Republican positions that have gone back decades;  they’re just not high on their agenda.  Even Ryan, who as a 100 percent pro-life rating from National Right to Life as a congressman, was chosen because of his expertise in budget matters, specifically entitlement reform, and only secondarily to burnish Romney’s social conservative credentials.  There is a certain amount of domestic realpolitick in the campaign strategy;  because social issues tend to be hot-button,  Romney and Ryan have opted to put those off to the side in order to attract more “middle of the road” independents and others who may be more socially liberal but are fed up with an economy growing anemically after 5 years of “recovery” and are concerned about the growing debt and size of government.  In doing so, Romney and Ryan are counting on the continued support of social conservatives as a group who have nowhere else to go. In all, not a bad (if rather cynical) approach.

Here’s the irony.  Paying little direct attention to social issues has been the Democrats’ electoral strategy for years.  “It’s the economy, stupid,” in the 1992 election encapsulated their political approach for the last several election cycles.  But Obama can’t run on the economy;  the economy is awful and it’s his fault.  Sure, he gave the order to kill Osama Bin-Laden and has carried out a campaign of drone strikes that have killed scores of wanted terrorists (as well as innocent civilians); but what leftist Democrat really feels comfortable touting military success?

So what are the Democrats left with?  Social issues.  In a desperate attempt to win the election by rallying the support of their base (and firing up their most virulent supporters on the left,) they have launched a full-bore counterattack in the culture wars against social conservatives in general and the Catholic Church in particular.  Their first shot was the HHS contraception mandate;  the battle was joined in the hysterical accusations of a Republican “war on women”; it advanced through the President’s proclamation of support for same-sex marriage; and it fortified it’s front line in a platform that came out in support of funding for Planned Parenthood, taxpayer funded abortions, and same-sex marriage.

To put it bluntly, President Obama has staked his entire re-election campaign on sex.  His slogan should be, “It’s the sex, stupid!”  It’s almost like he’s using 50 Shades of Gray as a political handbook.  Contraception is about sex without consequences;  abortion is about sex without responsibility; same-sex marriage is about the social acceptance of sexual behavior that just 40 years ago was considered a mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association.  I expect any day for him to come out in support of legalizing polygamy in order to peel the fundamentalist Mormon vote away from Romney (Alert:  I’m not saying Romney as a Mormon supports polygamy, so keep your combox criticisms to yourself;  this is a joke).  Certainly taxpayer funded pornography for sex addicts is just around the corner. 

Now it is a sad fact that our culture has become so sex-saturated that such things as abortion, contraception, fornication, and homosexuality have become normalized.  Orgasms--how to have one and how to have more and better ones--are the topic of women’s magazines for sale in the grocery store checkout line.  Men’s magazines, the one’s not sold behind the counter or with the fronts covered in black, show young women in various states of undress and give recommendations on how best to talk them into having meaningless sex.  So it’s little wonder that the Democrats think they have hit on a winning formula for defying history and winning Obama a second term in the face of a horrendous economy.  After all, guilt-free orgasms are as American as baseball, hotdogs, and apple pie, right?

But do things like this really matter when you can’t find a job?  Or when you’re concerned about losing your house?

In adopting their strategy, Obama and his minions are fighting the Battle of the Bulge.  I’m not referring to Michelle’s war on obesity.  I’m talking about the World War II military operation.
The famous battle, which resulted in a great allied victory, began as a last desperate gamble by Adolf Hitler to turn the tide of the war.  In December 1944, using poor weather that grounded allied aircraft, the Germans breached the Allied lines in the thinly-protected Ardennes forest.  Hitler’s plan was to break through the allied lines and drive to Antwerp, splitting the Allied forces in two.  In putting his plan into operation, Hitler stripped other German units of armor, ammunition, men, and fuel.  In put all remaining reserves into this last desperate gamble.  In the end, however, it proved to be a disastrous overreach for the Germans;  the counterattack was stopped by the heroic efforts of American forces and clearing weather that allowed Allied fighter bombers to enter the conflict.  Thousands of irreplaceable German soldiers were captured, along with hundreds of valuable trucks, tanks, and guns.  Germany would never recover.

In a similar way, Obama and the Democrats have drastically overreached.  This was on full display at their convention this week and in some of their activities last week at the Republican convention.  For example:

What these actions reveal is a modern Democratic party that has completely overreached themselves.  Even though most Americans would express liberal attitudes about sexual behavior, most would still be uncomfortable with the rhetoric and histrionics on display this week.  Certainly, the anti-religious views of many Democrats as displayed by the God platform controversy do not sit well with most Americans; we are still the most religious country in the world as measured by church attendance, and the Democrats’ attitude shows once again how different they are from the mainstream.

Obama cannot win on the economy.  It remains to be seen if he can win on free contraception, abortion, and same-sex marriage.  But in adopting this strategy, Obama and the Democrats—and their supporters—may have awakened a sleeping giant and sealed their ultimate fate.
When faced with the German onslaught, surrounded in the French town of Bastogne, the Americans of the 101st Airborne Division put up a spirited defense that was key in halting the enemy advance.  In the face of a full-scale counterattack, Catholics and other Christians have dug in.  We’ll know November 6 if we were successful in stopping the radical secularists’ counterattack.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Cardinal Dolan's Benediction to the DNC.

Overall, I think a much more muted response from the Democrats than he got from the Republicans.  But listen to his remarks;  his mention of protecting life and the traditional moral order (i.e. marriage) was much more pointed than last week.

You can look at his RNC benediction here.

Just 7 Quick Takes Friday

--- 1 ---

By this time next week, Susan and I will have scratched one thing off of our collective bucket list.

We will have met Cardinal Timothy Dolan!

Or at least have been in the same room with him.

Sometimes when I'm stuck in traffic or see snow on the ground (it doesn't have to be much, just a dusting) I rue the day I decided to relocate from sunny Florida to just outside Washington, DC 13 years ago.  But then I'm reminded why it's so cool to be living up here instead.

For those of you in the DC area, His Eminence will be giving a free lecture, sponsored by the John Carroll Society of the Archdiocese of Washington, at the Newseum downtown on Monday September 10 at 6:30.  The title of the lecture is "Let Religious Freedom Ring."  Doors open at 6:00.

If you cannot be there, I hopefully will be able to video the talk on my smartphone and post it on my blog next week.  Check back Tuesday!
--- 2 ---
I've posted Cardinal Dolan's benediction to the Democratic National Convention here.  Go check it out.
--- 3 ---
I'm treading on thin ice here, but am I the only conservative EWTN-loving Catholic in the country glad to see Fr. Benedict Groeschel being retired from Sunday Night Prime?  And what was the National Catholic Register thinking?  Anyone who has seen the show knows that Fr. Groeschel should have retired a long time ago.  There was a time, I'm sure, that he made an important contribution; I will say I have enjoyed his books.  But his physical and mental state have clearly not been up to the task of interviewing people on a weekly basis.  Too often, the show would consist of Fr. Groeschel introducing a guest on a specific topic, then spending most of the next hour with him talking (I know each week he told the same story about the Jewish man he knew who watched the program because it was the only thing good on TV).  He has worked long and hard for the Church; he now needs to take a good long rest.
--- 4 ---
Because Susan has several freelance writing jobs for clients right now, I've taken over the cooking. Cooking is something I love to do;  I've been in a kitchen since I was 9 years old.  I'm not bad for a completely self-taught chef, but sometimes my meals look like something out of Chopped on Food Network.  I have come up with a great recipe for left over rice (you can use this with the rice from Chinese food deliveries, or from your own kitchen).  I call it Fried Rice Cakes.

2 cups white rice
Seasoning (at least salt and pepper; I tried Chinese 5 Spice and overdid it a little)
3-5 Eggs (depending on how much rice)

Combine the rice, seasoning, and eggs.  Add breadcrumbs to the mixture until you can form a rather firm patty.  Then coat the patty in more breadcrumbs and fry until golden brown.

I've made a sauce of sour cream, half-and-half, salt and chives.
--- 5 ---
Are there any other husband cooks out there?  If so, share your favorite recipies.
--- 6 ---
If you are ever in Washington DC, when you've finished with the Capital, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and the Smithsonian Museums, you need to go the the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land.  Susan and I went on Saturday, and it was way mega cool.  I posted already about the fossilized serpent in the marble of the Blessed Mother's chapel.  That's just one of the great things there.

--- 7 ---
Everyone have a blessed Sunday and a good week.  And check back here for video of Cardinal Dolan!
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Be Countercultural--Obey the Church!

Emily Stimpson over at CatholicVote.org has this terrific post that provides Catholics who are faithful to the Magisterium with a response to those who accuse us of being unthinking idiots for not being enlightened enough to question church teachings:

The easy thing to do for anyone in any age is to drift with the culture. The hard thing to do is to swim against the tide. As this is not 1950, the easy thing for most of us to do would be to pop a pill, sleep around, and marry and divorce as often as we like. Those of us who aren’t doing that are making hard choices, choices that fly in the face of what the media, our neighbors, and, oftentimes, our families tell us to do. And you don’t make those kinds of choices without first having a long, hard think about them.
Here's the full post.

The Eminent Reasonability of “Because the Church Says So” | CatholicVote.org

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What does the Holy Name of Mary Mean?

A good companion piece to the one I linked to on Mary as the Ark...

Canterbury Tales by Dr. Taylor Marshall: What does the Holy Name of Mary Mean? Saints Jerom...: According to tradition, God Himself named the infant girl who would become the Mother of God. The Archangel Gabriel appeared to Saint Joach...

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Mary as Queen Mother, Ark of the New Covenant, and New Eve

Here's a special treat for all my protestant friends.  David L. Gray does a fantastic job laying out the Scriptural evidence for the special place of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the order of grace.  This should also help my fellow Catholics bone up on their Mariology for that next lunchtime confrontation with the fundamentalist who is always trying to save your soul.

Mary as Queen Mother, Ark of the New Covenant, and New Eve 

You can also look in my bookstore for many other titles, including Scott Hahn's incomparable Hail, Holy Queen.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Family of God or Body of Christ?

Back when I was a Baptist and attended a church in a small town in North Florida, every Sunday morning after the opening hymn and prayer the pastor would stand in the pulpit and welcome visitors.  He’d ask that they stay seated while we all stood and sang the hymn, “The Family of God.”  The lyrics go like this:

I'm so glad I'm a part of the Family of God,
I've been washed in 
the fountain, cleansed by His blood!
Joint heirs with Jesus as we 
travel this sod,
For I'm part of the family,
The Family of God.

You will notice we say "brother and sister" 'round here,
It's because we're a family and these are so near;
When one has a heartache, we all share the tears,
And rejoice in each victory in this family so dear. 

A nice hymn with a great sentiment.  If only it were accurate…

It’s common, especially among Protestants, to describe the church as a family.  Familial language is particularly common among evangelicals, especially of an older generation;  they really do call each other “brother” and “sister.”  The family theme is attractive and a great selling point for churches.  After all, who does not want to be a part of a family.  The problem, however, is that the church is not a family;  it is a body.

What is a family?  It is a group made up of individuals linked by ties of blood or affinity.  When we say family, we usually think of the “nuclear family”—mother, father, and children.  The children may be linked genetically to the parents, or if adopted by a legal recognition of the familial tie.  It can also include extended members such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.  The primary purpose of the family is to provide for a stable social order, for reproduction, and for the transmittal of cultural norms from one generation to another.  Ultimately, families are meant to reproduce themselves—one family can become two, three, four, or more.

As we all know from experience, family life can be far from  idyllic.  Even in the best of families, there is going to be conflict, strife, and stresses at times, particularly between generations.  Some families are what might be charitably called dysfunctional;  there is abuse, adultery, and alcoholism.  Families can break down through death and divorce.  Families are not stable and fixed, but are constantly subject to change.  This is because families are made up of autonomous individuals who, in spite of common ties, will eventually follow their own interests and preferences. 

Considering all this, what is wrong with viewing the church as a family?  From a practical standpoint, the church cannot be considered primarily a family.  The family construct views the church made up of autonomous individuals joined together by ties of a common faith experience—but nothing else.  Particularly in larger evangelical churches, the family comes together for worship on Sundays and perhaps small groups.  But beyond the fact that they all are followers of Christ, there is really nothing else to tie them together.  So when conflict arises in an evangelical church, the family easily breaks down.  That is why there are so many denominations and why churches are often created by splitting off from each other;  they were created because of a dispute over points theological or practical.  Even apart from conflict,  evangelicals can leave one church and go to another for whatever reasons they choose—better sermons, more programs for children, closer to home, etc.  In all, either view is hardly the one we find in Sacred Scripture.

Instead, we find the Church described as a body.  St. Paul said:
For as the body is one, and hath many members; and all the members of the body, whereas they are many, yet are one body, so also is Christ. For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether bond or free; and in one Spirit we have all been made to drink.  For the body also is not one member, but many.  If the foot should say, because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
And if the ear should say, because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were the eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling?  But now God hath set the members every one of them in the body as it hath pleased him.  And if they all were one member, where would be the body?  But now there are many members indeed, yet one body.
And the eye cannot say to the hand: I need not thy help; nor again the head to the feet: I have no need of you.  Yea, much more those that seem to be the more feeble members of the body, are more necessary. And such as we think to be the less honourable members of the body, about these we put more abundant honour; and those that are our uncomely parts, have more abundant comeliness.  But our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, giving to that which wanted the more abundant honour, ]That there might be no schism in the body; but the members might be mutually careful one for another.
And if one member suffer any thing, all the members suffer with it; or if one member glory, all the members rejoice with it.  Now you are the body of Christ, and members of member. (1 Cor. 12:12-27, D-R)
A body cannot divide itself.  It cannot survive very long without one of its organs; and the individual organs cannot survive apart from the body.  The body cannot live without its head, because it is the head that provides the direction and the impulse for other parts.  And the Church has only one head—Christ.  And likewise, Christ only has one body—the Church.   His body is made up of those baptized.  They are formed into his Body by partaking of his Body in the Eucharist.  With the Eucharist nourishing the Body, the Church grows and thrives.  As we partake of the other sacraments, the body is renewed and regenerated.
But this can only happen if we take care of the Body.  As with a human body, if we don’t take care of the body of Christ, the body can break down and stop working properly.  For example, if we don’t regularly attend to the Eucharist; if we fail to baptize our children; if we don’t go to confession;  if we treat marriage as the rest of our society does instead of the sacrament;  if we disrespect our priests and bishops;  all of these can lead to decay and disease in the body.  The body will not die, not with Christ as our head;  but instead of a continually young, continually growing, always vigorous Church, we will become a smaller, old, and ineffective institution. 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Scientific Proof--Our Lady's Triumph over Satan!

This past Saturday, Susan and I took a "day date"; essentially, a day date is a date that lasts the entire day (duh!).  We ditched the kids (who at 17 and 19 have learned to dress and feed themselves, though they might tell you otherwise) and did what all good Catholic couples do:  go to morning mass, followed by lunch, then a trip to a monastery for a tour, and winding up the day saying the rosary together before the Blessed Sacrament.  And it was a fun day.

Seriously, though, it was fun.  Since we live outside Washington, DC, we often take a Saturday afternoon and go to the Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception; there, we pick one of the Mary chapels and pray, then stop by the bookstore.  But this Saturday, after mass and lunch, we decided to go to the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land;  we were last there eight years ago, long before we had any notion of becoming Catholic.  If you live anywhere near DC, you have to go;  it is truly spectacular.

Now about the title of my post.  One of the unusual features of the Monastery is in the side chapel dedicated to the Blessed Virgin.  The docent pointed it out, otherwise we would have missed it.  In one of the marble slabs at the base of the altar is the very distinct image of two fossilized snakes (actually, Susan and I both agree it looks like two parts of the same snake).  Now the docent claims it was a coincidence, and the Francisicans insist that the slab was put in place before the fossils were discovered.  I believe the Franciscans, but a coincidence?  I don't think so.  I think the Blessed Mother wanted a visible reminder of her triumph over the serpent, as promised in Genesis 3:15, through her son, our Lord Jesus.

Here is a close up of he statue of Our Lady:

Here is a close-up of the slab, which is in the floor to the left of the altar:

And here is the slab with the snake(s) outlined:

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Thoughts on Consecration to Mary

Mary Vitamin for August 30
Topic: Consecration to Our Lady
"[Consecration to Our Lady] means to sink our roots in Mary's Heart with the happy certainty that he who plants his roots in Mary becomes holy" (St. Bonaventure.)
Father Stefano Manelli, FI,  Devotion to Our Lady,  (Academy of the Immaculate), 140.
Father Manelli explains:
"There are two kinds of consecration to Our Lady:
1)     Simple consecration. This is one that is made privately, or in some pious Marian associations (as the Daughters of Mary, the Legion of Mary, the Militia of the Immaculate), and it entails a generous and fervent individual apostolate.
The consecration of families (strongly recommended by St. Gregory), of children (even before birth), of a school, a town, of a nation, etc., belong also to this kind of consecration.
2)     Consecration of ourselves as "slaves" of Mary, or as her "property", or as a victim in a total sacrifice of love for her.
The consecration of oneself as a slave is taught by St. Louis de Montfort, and it expresses principally the sacrifice of one's liberty in order to live fettered and ruled by the love for Our Lady.
Consecration of oneself as her "property" was taught by St. Maximilian M. Kolbe, and this principally expresses an unconditional surrender of oneself into Mary's immaculate hands as her 'instrument or property.'"
Father Stefano Manelli, FI,  Devotion to Our Lady,  (Academy of the Immaculate), 139.
Today I will say, as St. Louis de Montfort recommends:
Living with Mary
For Mary
In Mary
Each time I say these words, I will think of my spiritual roots sinking deeper into the Heart of Mary, and I will become holier. It will not matter if I do not feel holier. I will just trust, as Father Manelli points out, that the experience of the saints shows that one becomes holier with the Blessed Virgin Mary. (Manelli, 140)
Marian Vow:
Father Manelli says 'The consecrated person ought to succeed in "living with Mary, for Mary, in Mary" and then he asks "But how many are there who truly practice and live their Marian consecration in this way?"
Father Stefano Manelli, FI,  Devotion to Our Lady, (Academy of the Immaculate),  139.
I give this resolution to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Thanks be to God for graces received.
Related sites: Castle of the Immaculate & AirMaria