MamaT: March 2005 Archives

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From ABC News this morning

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Terry Schindler Schiavo, age 41, is dead.

May the angels bring you into Paradise
May the martyrs come and welcome you
And lead you to the holy city
The new and eternal Jerusalem.

And may God have mercy on the rest of us.

Eleventh book of 2005 finished

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The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride.

It is our April book group selection, so that means I am a little ahead of the game, which is unusual to say the least.

I enjoyed the book. McBride's mother, Ruth, was the daughter of an immigrant Polish orthodox rabbi, raised in the South. She had a largely hideous childhood, including sexual abuse at the hands of her father. When she was old enough, and fed up enough, she left to go to New York. There she met and fell in love with a black man and married him. They started both a church and a large family. He died shortly after the author's birth. Ruth remarried and continued to have children. The family finally numbered 12 kids. She outlived her second husband as well.

All twelve of the children grew up to go to college, many on to advanced degrees. Having a white mother proved to be a problem for some of them, as they became involved with different aspects of the civil rights movement and debated how best to change the system. McBride remembers questioning his mother, "Am I black or am I white?" Her answer: "You're a human being.....Educate yourself or you'll be a nobody."

The title comes from a question the author asked his mother: "What color is God?" She tells him "God is the color of water." And moves briskly on to other issues.

Most of the kids did not know their mother's history, and when he finally talks her into telling about her life, it is brief, searing and memorable. The book speaks in alternating voices, one chapter by Ruth, one by Mr. McBride. Ruth's chapters are always shorter, but emotionally devastating, though she tells her story with no reaching for emotional strings. She just lays it out, bare bones.

Mr. McBride's chapters deal on what it was like in their home growing up. Ruth had an odd parenting style, and was not much of a housekeeper or a cook. You get the picture of "verging on the edge of chaos" all the time. But she raised her kids, lost none of them to the streets or prison. An admirable feat.

I liked the book, though I didn't think it was as good as All Over But the Shoutin' by Rick Bragg that I read last year. That may be because his was a Southern story, one that resonates with me more than this one did.

But I'll remember Ruth McBride for a long time.

Reasoning with McKid....

| | Comments (1) an iffy project. I am forever looking in dismay at some mess that the lovely 2 year old Miss M has created and saying, "WHY did you do this?"

In response? "Because I did!"

Hmmmm. Okay. But it doesn't exactly get to MOTIVE, now does it?

So, I try again. "WHY did you do this?"

Finally today I got an answer to the question:


At least she's honest. And if we were all more honest, wouldn't it be OUR answer to that question as well?

Go now and read!


.....Pansy's entry over at Two Sleepy Mommies: No More Apologizing.

Absolutely priceless. Absolutely correct.

The Amazing Race

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While waiting to see what the latest news from Florida means, let's talk about The Amazing Race last night:

Woooo! What an episode! And what a penalty for coming in last in a non-elimination leg! Not only to lose your money, but to lose all your STUFF as well. We've long thought the the loss of money was not enough of a penalty, but we never thought about losing all your stuff except for your passports. Eeeeeuuuuwww! What about toothbrushes?

Anyway, good for Uchenna and Joyce for bringing them some clothes. And boo to the teams who didn't fork over the $$$$$ to help--I mean, come on, I don't think anyone thinks that Meredith and Gretchen are going to actually WIN the thing. Although they manage to keep holding on.

And the second episode? Good one! Poor brothers--they are one of my favorite teams. Good for Lynn and Alex for stopping without question when they saw the accident. They didn't even hesitate. Good for the brothers for telling them to go on "We don't want you to lose the race because of us." And praying in the new car for the cameraman. Good.

I was really liking Rob and Amber until this episode. I thought it was hysterical when they stopped and got directions and the lady and the clinic said, "Oh Ambah! I am SUCH a fan!" It showed that while their celebrity has helped some (and they've used it well), it also slows them down some.

But not even slowing down at the turned over car? Classless. I thought even the handsome Phil thought so at the pit stop. They seemed embarrassed by it--I hope they remain that way.

Sleeping in the middle of the desert? Priceless!

But the best part of the whole episode? Ray and Deana! GONE!!!!! Before the "oldsters" they had so little respect for. Yee Haw!

And the foot race to the mat? Great television. Zteen and I were shouting "Run, brothers, RUN!!!!!!" and jumping up and down. PapaC, who is not nearly the AR junky that we are, was laughing at us, BIG TIME.

And one more thing That Gretchen is one tough broad. And I mean that as a compliment. Conking her head like that, and she told hubby, "Go get that clue. I didn't come back down here for nothing." And racing on with her head in a bandage (and a massive headache, no doubt). Finishing the leg, even though they came in last on it, was a major achievement. Good for them.

Just in case you're having to tape tonight's episode, remember that it is a two-hour edition! Elimination in the middle or one uber-leg? We'll have to see. One thing we know from the previews: there will be blood spilled tonight! YIKES!

Our hearts are all aflutter!!!!

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Oh my, oh my, oh my! We are so excited! We get to meet the ever so smart Steven Riddle of Flos Carmeli, and the wonderful, HAPPY and smart Julie of Happy Catholic THIS SATURDAY!!!!!

Can you believe it? We're already worried that we will disappoint them in real life, but WHAT A CHANCE!

Aren't you jealous?

Woo hoo! Now it's off to obsess about what to wear to make the best "first" impression.........

A hymn from today

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Now the green blade riseth from the buried grain,
Wheat that in the dark earth many days has lain;
Love lives again, that with the dead has been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.

In the grave they laid him, love whom men had slain,
Thinking that never he would wake again.
Laid in the earth like grain that sleeps unseen:
Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green,

Forth he came at Easter, like the risen grain,
He that for three days in the grave had lain.
Quick from the dead my risen Lord is seen:
Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.

When our hearts are wintry, grieving, or in pain,
Thy touch can call us back to life again;
Fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.

John MacLeod Campbell Crum (1872-1958)

Go HERE if you need to hear the MIDI of the tune.

How Death Became Life

Death was born on a flaming day. At least that is how she remembered it. She came alive on a day lit up by a blazing fire, a fire that came from an immense sword held by an angel. The angel was guarding the door to a place she, Death, never saw. At first, Death felt like a stranger, roaming around, feeling lost. Then she saw a beautiful white bird. She stroked the feathers on the bird's back But as soon as she touched the bird, it fell at her feet, cold and still. That's when Death discovered her terrible power.

As the years flowed into eternity, Death traveled with them, touching this animal, that bird, this fish or that flower. Death also noticed that there was a different sort of creature, a creature that held in their faces a strange reflection of God. This creature was called man. The creature was made in the image of God; but still, the creature called human would also become cold and lifeless when Death touched it.

As the centuries turned into millennia and thousands of years, Death claimed all living things for her own. She also learned that of all the creatures, human beings feared her most. They shrank from her. They tried to pretend she didn't exist. They engaged in denial and circumlocution, speaking "passing away" rather than of dying. Sometimes Death smiled at the humans' fear of her, and she enjoyed her power over them. At other times she wept bitterly because she was lonely and because she sensed that there was something about these human creatures she could not understand.

One day, as the story goes, tired and weary, Death sat on a hill beneath three crosses on which three men were being executed. She did not feel like touching any of these men. She was tired; she was lonely.

Suddenly she heard a voice say, "I thirst." She looked up and her gaze met two fathomless eyes. From their depths flowed a brilliant, warm, blue light, the like of which she had never experienced before. Instantly she stood up and walked just a few paces away from the man who hung between the other two. She wanted more than ever to touch him with love and respect, but she dared not do so. Then his eyes called to her in a wordless message. She did not know how it happened, but gently, ever so gently, she touched his cheek. He seemed for an instant to smile for her alone. Then, like all those before him, he closed his eyes and became lifeless and cold.


She could not believe it. Somehow she knew that he was different from all the others. So she lingered awhile. She saw him taken down from the cross. She saw his mother hold his lifeless body and cradle him. She saw him being carried off into a grave hollowed out in a cave. Then, just as soldiers were about to roll a stone to the entrance of the cave, Death entered the cave.

What passed then, no human being will ever know. But one thing is certain. On the following Sunday, two days after he had been taken down from the cross, some women came to the tomb and found that it was empty. Death was not there. And ever since that Sunday morning, all who look upon Death with the eyes of faith see her differently. They know that Love is Life, and Death is now the gate to eternal life.

------From a Russian legend retold by our parish priest

It's time....

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.....for me to take a blog hiatus until Easter Monday. I have many things to do to prepare for the Triduum at our parish. Being Altar Guild Directress takes a lot of time this week.

My heart is broken. I am angry. I am disillusioned. I am sickened. I am tired.

I need some prayer time. Some cry time. And some time to get back to "normal", because both the Smock's oldest daughter and my niece, the beautiful Zoe, will receive First Communion on Easter Sunday. That's two for joy. The lovely Marsha and her husband will be received into the Church Saturday night, and their lovely boy will be baptized. That's three for joy.

Oh, Lord, please help me to also see the joy.

May all of you be blessed during this most Holy of Weeks. Pray for me, as I will be praying for you.

A picture worth looking at:

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....thanks to Erik at Erik's Rants and Recipes (link to the right):

I wish this were my son. Or my husband. Or me.

Another must read...

| | Comments (1) Marianne Jennings can be found HERE.

Her 18 year old daughter has been on a feeding tube her entire life, with less cognitive function that Terri Schiavo has. This woman has a right to speak.

Everyone simply must read.....

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....Peggy Noonan's column: In Love With Death.

Here's an excerpt:

I do not understand why people who want to save the whales (so do I) find campaigns to save humans so much less arresting. I do not understand their lack of passion. But the save-the-whales people are somehow rarely the stop-abortion-please people.
The PETA people, who say they are committed to ending cruelty to animals, seem disinterested in the fact of late-term abortion, which is a cruel procedure performed on a human.

I do not understand why the don't-drill-in-Alaska-and-destroy-its-prime-beauty people do not join forces with the don't-end-a-life-that-holds-within-it-beauty people.

I do not understand why those who want a freeze on all death penalty cases in order to review each of them in light of DNA testing--an act of justice and compassion toward those who have been found guilty of crimes in a court of law--are uninterested in giving every last chance and every last test to a woman whom no one has ever accused of anything.

There are passionate groups of women in America who decry spousal abuse, give beaten wives shelter, insist that a woman is not a husband's chattel. This is good work. Why are they not taking part in the fight for Terri Schiavo? Again, what explains their lack of passion on this? If Mrs. Schiavo dies, it will be because her husband, and only her husband, insists she wanted to, or would want to, or said she wanted to in a hypothetical conversation long ago. A thin reed on which to base the killing of a human being.

The pull-the-tube people say, "She must hate being brain-damaged." Well, yes, she must. (This line of argument presumes she is to some degree or in some way thinking or experiencing emotions.) Who wouldn't feel extreme sadness at being extremely disabled? I'd weep every day, wouldn't you? But consider your life. Are there not facets of it, or facts of it, that make you feel extremely sad, pained, frustrated, angry? But you're still glad you're alive, aren't you? Me too. No one enjoys a deathbed. Very few want to leave.

Thanks to Julie D. of Happy Catholic (link to the right) for the heads up on this column.

I don't get it either. I cannot tell you the number of people who have told me something along the lines of "Well, I don't know much about the case, but she should just die." Don't you think that before you decide someone should DIE you should know at least a LITTLE something about the case????

It was tragically ironic this morning when I opened my paper to read that another convicted death-row inmate had his execution stayed again, so that further evidence could be weighed. Now, I'm all for this. But how come he gets more consideration than a helpless woman. No further information is being weighed for HER. Nope. In the justice system's eyes, the facts are facts, and no new testing would ever be appropriate. Yet new DNA tests are being ordered (and rightly so) for a prison inmate.

I feel like I'm living in a world of funhouse mirrors. Only it isn't very funny.

Today's thought....


......courtesy of the Bruderhof:

In the childhood of the spiritual life, when we have just begun to allow ourselves to be directed by God, we feel his guiding hand quite firmly and surely. But it doesn't always stay that way. Whoever belongs to Christ must go the whole way with him. He must mature to adulthood: he must one day or other walk the way of the cross to Gethsemane and Golgotha.

Will you remain faithful to the Crucified One? The world is in flames, the battle between Christ and the Antichrist has broken into the open. If you decide for Christ, it could cost you your life. Carefully consider what you promise.

---------------Edith Stein

And a little something from Barb Nicolosi


....over at Church of the Masses: While We All Sit Around.

Go. Read.

Warning! Foul, foul language...

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.....but from the blog called Blue Eyed Infidel, an atheist has a rant about the Terri Schiavo situation: I Can't Wait to Starve My Dog.

I can't excerpt it here, but she says what I've screamed out on my back porch. (And yes, the neighbors ARE looking at me kinda funny.)

Hat tip to The Anchoress for the link.


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...from James Taranto (who, by the way, is not a Catholic), a columnist for the WSJ OpinionJournal:

Supporters of Michael Schiavo's effort to end his wife's life have asked how conservatives, who claim to believe in the sanctity of marriage, can fail to respect his husbandly authority. The most obvious answer is that a man's authority as a husband does not supersede his wife's rights as a human being--a principle we never thought we'd see liberals question.

But why do those of us who aren't right-to-life absolutists side with Mrs. Schiavo's parents, who want to keep her alive, over her husband, who wants her dead? It's a fair question, and it raises another one: What kind of husband is Michael Schiavo?

According to news reports, Mr. Schiavo lives with a woman named Jodi Centonze, and they have two children together. Surely any court would consider this prima facie evidence of adultery. And this is no mere fling; a Orlando Sentinel sympathetic 2003 profile in the described Centonze as Mr. Schiavo's "fiancée." Mr. Schiavo, in other words, has virtually remarried. Short of outright bigamy, his relationship with Centonze is as thoroughgoing a violation of his marriage vows as it is possible to imagine.

The point here is not to castigate Mr. Schiavo for behaving badly. It would require a heroic degree of self-sacrifice for a man to forgo love and sex in order to remain faithful to an incapacitated wife, and it would be unreasonable to hold an ordinary man to a heroic standard.

But it is equally unreasonable to let Mr. Schiavo have it both ways. If he wishes to assert his marital authority to do his wife in, the least society can expect in return is that he refrain from making a mockery of his marital obligations. The grimmest irony in this tragic case is that those who want Terri Schiavo dead are resting their argument on the fiction that her marriage is still alive.

Andy McCarthy from National Review

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....weighs in on the Schiavo case:


it is worth remembering that the excruciating slowness of the execution here, the incremental-ness of death, is designed by its champions to inure us to it. After the first hour, the second passes with far less fanfare, and the third less still. I've been following this closely, and I needed to remind myself today how many hours Terri Schiavo has actually been without sustenance by counting the days since Friday afternoon and multiplying by 24. How much more easily the time passes, and the world around us changes, for those following only fleetingly, or not at all.

Why should we think this is intentional? Consider, say, a month ago, before Terri's plight took center stage, if you had asked someone in the abstract: "How would you feel about starving and dehydrating a defenseless, brain-damaged woman?" The answer is easy to imagine: "Outrageous, atrocious -- something that wouldn't be done to an animal and couldn't be done to the worst convicted murderer."

But then it actually happens ... slowly. You're powerless to stop it, and ... you find your life goes on. There are kids and jobs and triumphs and tragedies and everyday just-getting-by. An atrocity becomes yet another awful thing going on in the world. After a day, or maybe two, of initial flabbergast, we're talking again about social security reform, China, North Korea, Hezbollah, etc. A woman's snail-like, gradual torture goes from savagery to just one of those sad facts of life. As is the case with other depravities once believed unthinkable, it coarsens us. We slowly, and however reluctantly, accept it. We accept it. The New York Times no doubt soon "progresses" from something like "terminating life by starvation," to "the dignity of death by starvation," to "the medical procedure that opponents refer to as starvation." And so the culture of life slides a little more. The culture of death gains a firmer foothold.

Of course, the physical needs of the body are not limited to food and water. There is also air. But no judge, even in Florida, would ever have had the nerve in Terri's case to permit "the medical procedure that opponents refer to as asphyxiation." Too crude. Too quick. Too obviously murder of a vulnerable innocent. Brazen, instant savagery might wake us from our slumber. For the culture of death, better that we sleep.

What the Smock brought me....

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....last night. I love this, because I think it humanizes the child by giving the child a gender, rather than the usual bumper sticker referring to "It's a child". (Which may be gramatically correct, but sounds cold to me.) It also helps me highlight that feminists ought to be outraged--most sex-selection abortions world-wide target baby girls!


Oh, and the bumper sticker may be purchased from the Victory Won website:

The question for today?

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Where are the Two Sleepy Mommies????

Do we need to send out the FBI?

Absolutely awesome article....

| | Comments (2) Robert George of Princeton University about Terri Schiavo and the Right to Life. Go now and read it HERE.

A small snippet to entice you to go read the whole thing:

From a moral vantage point, it can be, though it will not always be, permissible to decline treatment — even potentially life-saving treatment — when one's reason for declining the treatment is something other than the belief that one's life, or the life of the person for whom one is making a decision, lacks sufficient value to be worth living. What we must avoid, always and everywhere, is yielding to the temptation to regard some human lives, or the lives of human beings in certain conditions, as lebensunwerten Lebens, lives unworthy of life. Since the life of every human being has inherent worth and dignity, there is no valid category of lebensunwerten Lebens. Any society that supposes that there is such a category has deeply morally compromised itself. As Leon Kass recently reminded us in a powerful address at the Holocaust Museum, it was supposedly enlightened and progressive German academics and medical people who put their nation on the road to shame more than a decade before the Nazis rose to power by promoting a doctrine of eugenics based precisely on the proposition that the lives of some human beings — such as the severely retarded — are unworthy of life. (Emphasis added by me!)

And yet another snippet:

It is pointless to ask whether Terri Schiavo had somehow formed a conditional intention to have herself starved to death if eventually she found herself in a brain-damaged condition. What's really going on here — and I don't think we can afford to kid ourselves about this — is that Terri's husband has decided that hers is a life not worth having. In his opinion, her continued existence is nothing but a burden — a burden to herself, to him, to society. He has presumed to decide that his wife is better off dead.

Even if we were to credit Michael Schiavo's account of his conversation with Terri before her injury — which I am not inclined to do — it is a mistake to assume that people can make decisions in advance about whether to have themselves starved to death if they eventually find themselves disabled. That's why living wills have proven to be so often unreliable. One does not know how one will actually feel, or how one will feel about one's life and the prospect of death, or whether one will retain a desire to live despite a mental or physical disability, when one is not actually in that condition and when one is envisaging it from the perspective of more or less robust health.

Consider the case of a beautiful young woman — an actress or fashion model perhaps — who is severely burned in a fire. Prior to actually finding herself in such a condition, she might have supposed — and even said, if the subject had come up in a conversation — that she would rather be dead than live with her face grotesquely disfigured. But no one would be surprised if in the actual event she did not try to kill herself by starvation or some other means, and did not want to die.

In any event, it is clear that the only reason for Michael Schiavo's decision is that he considers Terri's quality of life to be so poor that he wants her to be dead. He claims that she would want that too, which I don't grant, but even if he's right about that, we should treat her like anyone else who wants to commit suicide. We rescue, we care. We affirm the inherent value of the life of every human being. Our governing principle should be always to care, never to kill.

Stolen from TSO.....

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.....because it made me laugh out loud:

"There's certain things I won't do, I don't care how much you pay me. I won't drink a rat." - co-worker overheard, discussing the television show Fear Factor

My thoughts exactly.

A game from Ellyn....

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Snoop Patrol: Peeking into the House on St. Maria Ct.

1. One thing on your nightstand? A ready to tip over stack of books.

2. One thing on a wall in your living room? A rusted metal cross.

3. Three things we would find in your medicine cabinet? Bottles and bottles of PapaC medications, baby wipes, Maybelline mascara.

4. Do your dirty dishes go in the sink or dishwasher. In the sink, my dishwasher is broken!

5. Maker of your everyday dinnerware? Gibson--it's just plain white stuff from J.C. Penney's.

6. Maker of your fine china? Don't own any, don't want any.

7. If you had to save one “thing” from your home, what would it be? My pictures of ZTeen.

8. Color your living room sofa? Green/yellow/rust/offwhite plaid.

9. What reading material would we find in your bathroom? Winnie the Pooh books (McKid's), American Spectator and National Review, and any pretty catalogs that come in.

10. Most embarassing thing inyour home that you hide when guests come over? The dog blankets that look gross even when they're clean.

Good thought for the day...


....comes courtesy of the Bruderhof's Daily Dig:

Every person has fallen at some time in his life - most, many times. Peter's steps in denying Christ have since been traced by every human foot. Anyone can understand how he could have slept in the garden, when he should have watched and prayed. Most of us feel an almost unconscious sympathy for him.

But there is something in Peter's life that is much greater than his sin. It is his repentance. We all too easily relate to Peter in his weakness, but few of us grasp the wonder of his change. Sinful Peter is one man, and repentant Peter another. That is the real lesson in his life...

----------Henry Drummond



One of my favorites:

The Donkey

G. K. Chesterton

When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born.

With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil's walking parody
On all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.

Fourth great hymn today....

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.....sung to "Crucifer" by Sydney Nicholson, again with brass accompaniment today. If that doesn't raise the hairs on your arms, you are dead:


Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim,
Till all the world adore His sacred Name.

Led on their way by this triumphant sign,
The hosts of God in conquering ranks combine.


Each newborn servant of the Crucified
Bears on the brow the seal of Him Who died.


O Lord, once lifted on the glorious tree,
As Thou hast promised, draw the world to Thee.


So shall our song of triumph ever be:
Praise to the Crucified for victory.


Third great hymn today....


.....tune is "Passion Chorale" by Hans L. Hassler. Imagine me, weeping again!

O sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded with thorns, Thine only crown;
How pale Thou art with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn!
How does that visage languish, which once was bright as morn!

What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered, was all for sinners’ gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior! ’Tis I deserve Thy place;
Look on me with Thy favor, vouchsafe to me Thy grace.

Men mock and taunt and jeer Thee, Thou noble countenance,
Though mighty worlds shall fear Thee and flee before Thy glance.
How art thou pale with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn!
How doth Thy visage languish that once was bright as morn!

Now from Thy cheeks has vanished their color once so fair;
From Thy red lips is banished the splendor that was there.
Grim death, with cruel rigor, hath robbed Thee of Thy life;
Thus Thou hast lost Thy vigor, Thy strength in this sad strife.

My burden in Thy Passion, Lord, Thou hast borne for me,
For it was my transgression which brought this woe on Thee.
I cast me down before Thee, wrath were my rightful lot;
Have mercy, I implore Thee; Redeemer, spurn me not!

What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.

My Shepherd, now receive me; my Guardian, own me Thine.
Great blessings Thou didst give me, O source of gifts divine.
Thy lips have often fed me with words of truth and love;
Thy Spirit oft hath led me to heavenly joys above.

Here I will stand beside Thee, from Thee I will not part;
O Savior, do not chide me! When breaks Thy loving heart,
When soul and body languish in death’s cold, cruel grasp,
Then, in Thy deepest anguish, Thee in mine arms I’ll clasp.

The joy can never be spoken, above all joys beside,
When in Thy body broken I thus with safety hide.
O Lord of Life, desiring Thy glory now to see,
Beside Thy cross expiring, I’d breathe my soul to Thee.

My Savior, be Thou near me when death is at my door;
Then let Thy presence cheer me, forsake me nevermore!
When soul and body languish, oh, leave me not alone,
But take away mine anguish by virtue of Thine own!

Be Thou my consolation, my shield when I must die;
Remind me of Thy passion when my last hour draws nigh.
Mine eyes shall then behold Thee, upon Thy cross shall dwell,
My heart by faith enfolds Thee. Who dieth thus dies well.

Second great hymn....


....sung in our parish to the tune "Love Unknown" by John Ireland. This is one of those songs that I absolutely cannot sing. After being blown away by "All Glory, Laud and Honor" and the reading of the Passion Gospel, to have to try to sing this was just beyond me. I just held PapaC's hand and bawled all the way through it. It is only the beginning of a week of weeping for me:

My song is love unknown,
My Savior’s love to me;
Love to the loveless shown,
That they might lovely be.
O who am I, that for my sake
My Lord should take frail flesh and die?

He came from His blest throne
Salvation to bestow;
But men made strange, and none
The longed for Christ would know:
But O! my Friend, my Friend indeed,
Who at my need His life did spend.

Sometimes they strew His way,
And His sweet praises sing;
Resounding all the day
Hosannas to their King:
Then “Crucify!” is all their breath,
And for His death they thirst and cry.

Why, what hath my Lord done?
What makes this rage and spite?
He made the lame to run,
He gave the blind their sight,
Sweet injuries! Yet they at these
Themselves displease, and ’gainst Him rise.

They rise and needs will have
My dear Lord made away;
A murderer they saved,
The Prince of life they slay,
Yet cheerful He to suffering goes,
That He His foes from thence might free.

In life, no house, no home
My Lord on earth might have;
In death no friendly tomb
But what a stranger gave.
What may I say? Heav’n was His home;
But mine the tomb wherein He lay.

Here might I stay and sing,
No story so divine;
Never was love, dear King!
Never was grief like Thine.
This is my Friend, in Whose sweet praise
I all my days could gladly spend.

First great hymn....


...sung in our parish to St. Theodulph, done with a brass quartet fanfare at each refrain, with priest and altar servers processing around the inside of the church:


All glory, laud and honor,
To Thee, Redeemer, King,
To Whom the lips of children
Made sweet hosannas ring.

Thou art the King of Israel,
Thou David’s royal Son,
Who in the Lord’s Name comest,
The King and Blessèd One.


The company of angels
Are praising Thee on High,
And mortal men and all things
Created make reply.


The people of the Hebrews
With palms before Thee went;
Our prayer and praise and anthems
Before Thee we present.


To Thee, before Thy passion,
They sang their hymns of praise;
To Thee, now high exalted,
Our melody we raise.


Thou didst accept their praises;
Accept the prayers we bring,
Who in all good delightest,
Thou good and gracious King.


Please, please, please

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Go to Blogs for Terri and read their action item. Basically it is a call to keep up pressure on our congress to do the right thing in the Terri Schiavo case.

Please take the time to email your senators. Call if you can. Don't let them have an excuse to walk away from the situation.

I've done it. You go do it too. And do it again tonight and again tomorrow.

And pray, pray, pray.

Prayer for Terri Schiavo

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....from the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal:

Eternal Father, You alone grant us every blessing in Heaven and on earth, through the redemptive mission of Your Divine Son, Jesus Christ, and by the working of the Holy Spirit. If it be according to Your Will, glorify Your servant, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, by granting the favor I now request through his powerful intercession. Lord, grant that Terri Shiavo's life be spared and grant her a healing that the world may know the value of every life.

Archbishop Sheen ended every broadcast with: "Life is worth living!"

We have done something today that we have not had to do in the entire history of the Summa Mamas on the web. We deleted a comment.

The person who made the comment made comments that were in direct opposition to the teachings of the Catholic Church, and did so in an inflammatory manner. But even that wasn't what made us delete it. When we tried to email the commenter, the email address wasn't functional. To be charitable, perhaps the commenter mis-typed. To be less charitable, perhaps it was a fake.

Now, the Summa Mamas are not exactly afraid of controversy, or of a good argument. However, if you want to argue with us, or with Church teaching, then you have to do it honestly and forthrightly. While you may use a "handle" that you use on a blog or a bulletin board, you must have an email address that we can reach you with. No drive-by inflammatory commenting is allowed, without risk of deletion.

Look, we use our "blog names" here--but on the sidebar you find our real names. When we comment throughout the blog, our email addresses show up. We have an email address for the SummaMamas as a whole. We're not hard to get to. If you want argue, then you need to have the same level of maturity. That way, if necessary, we can take the discussion off the blog--to be continued in private. We make ourselves available. You wanna argue? You make yourself available, too.

Look around you. This is Summa Mama world. (The pink walls attest to it!) You're welcome here. Discussion is welcome here, if it can be carried on honestly and civilly. Just remember, it ain't a democracy. And while the dictators are beautiful, charming and funny, and almost always benevolent, they are, in fact, dictators. Want your own little world? Get your own blog. They're free.

And now back to our regularly scheduled entertainment.

A prayer for Terri Schiavo


....from Alicia's be disseminated widely:

St. Jude, the Church honors you universally as the patron of things
despaired of. Today we ask for your help at a moment of great need. The
hour is late; the night deepens. We beseech you, glorious apostle; use
your special place in heaven to pray that the life of Terry Schaivo be

St. Faustina, Apostle of the Divine Mercy, in life you taught us that
Jesus is limitless love and unfathomable mercy. Pray with us, that
Christ's tender mercy be upon Terry Schaivo. Jesus, we trust in you.

Archangel Michael, we seek your aid. The forces of darkness come ever
near another victory. We have reached the last bastion and our forces
are nearly spent. We ask that you come to the defense of Terry Schaivo.
Shield her from the forces of evil that seduce the hearts of men.

Mary, ever Virgin, we pray for your help. By the words of your Son we
know you to be our mother and the mother of Terry Schaivo. Hold our dear
sister and her family close to your heart. Pray with us, Holy Mother of
God, that her life be spared and health restored.

All the angels and saints in Heaven, please, pray with us.

Almighty and eternal God, healer of those who trust in you, hear our
prayers for Terry Schaivo. If it be your will, spare her life. Restore
her to health, that she may give you thanks and praise with her own
voice, and thus be a symbol to all the world of the sacred nature of
life. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen

The baton passed from Julie D.

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.....over at Happy Catholic (link to the right). It's about books, how could I resist????

You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451. Which book do you want to be?

I would memorize To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I probably could do it, too! Second choice? The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

Of course. And while I agree that Jean Luc Picard is AWESOME (Julie, you and I are too much alike!), I currently have a crush on (are you ready for this?) WOLVERINE from the X-men movie. Go figure.

The last book you bought was...?

The Fat Fallacy by Will Clower.

The last book you read was...?

See above.

What are you currently reading?

The Shipping News by Annie Proulx and the G.K. Chesterton biography by Joseph Pearce.

Five books you would take to a desert island...

1. My RSV Bible.
2. To Kill a Mockingbird
3. Chronicles of Narnia (the one volume version! cheat, I know)
4. Lord of the Rings
5. Kristin Lavransdatter

What three people are you passing this stick on to and why?

Steven at Flos Carmeli, because he will put me to shame with his choices
Peony and/or Pansy at Two Sleepy Mommies, because I love them
Erik at Erik's Rants and Recipes because I will never have heard of anything he chooses.

Sunday's gospel reading...

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I've held off on writing about Sunday's gospel reading, the raising of Lazarus, because it was almost too emotional for me. And others have said many beautiful things about the reading.

Sunday was one of those days when a sentence that you have read a thousand times suddenly jumps up and grabs you. Me, it always grabs by the tear ducts, but that's expected in our house. As we were standing listening to FrA intone the reading, this sentence jumped out at me:

"Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus."

What a simple sentence. A sentence that to most people is just a "yeah, and then?" sentence. But to me, on this Sunday, it was the strongest revelation of the incarnation I have had in a long time.

Jesus loved these three siblings. Not just in a universal, loving-all-mankind-in-general sort of way. He loved these three specific people. He had eaten dinner at their house. He had felt at home there. Bethany, and these people, had been a refuge for him. A resting place. A completely human love, added on to that completely divine love.

To think that! To be confronted with a God who comes to US, to eat with us, work with us, live with us and die with and for us! Nothing has brought that home to me as vividly as that one homely sentence. It makes me weep still.

How can it be? How can it be that we are loved with a love that strong, that deep, and that true? It is, of course, beyond our comprehension.

The General Thanksgiving wells up in my heart:

Almighty God, Father of all mercies,
we thine unworthy servants
do give thee most humble and hearty thanks
for all thy goodness and loving-kindness
to us and to all men.
We bless thee for our creation, preservation,
and all the blessings of this life;
but above all for thine inestimable love
in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ,
for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.
And, we beseech thee,
give us that due sense of all thy mercies,
that our hearts may be unfeignedly thankful;
and that we show forth thy praise,
not only with our lips, but in our lives,
by giving up our selves to thy service,
and by walking before thee
in holiness and righteousness all our day;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost,
be all honor and glory, world without end. Amen

Interesting link

| | Comments (6) book lists (Booker, Nobel, PEN/Faulkner, Pulitzer, et al) at the Between the Covers website.

It just reminds me of how many books I've NOT read in my lifetime!

I just started The Shipping News which is on two of the lists. We'll see how it goes. I can't say I'm overly taken with the first few chapters.

10th book of 2005 finished!

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This is a little different: The Fat Fallacy by Will Clower. The book is based on the differences in the way the French eat and the way Americans eat, and how that leads to wildly differing obesity rates in the two countries.

I thought the book had a lot of interesting and helpful things to say, particularly from a behavior modification standpoint, about both the way we Americans eat and what we eat. Interesting concepts, and something I think PapaC and I are going to try to put into place in our home.

Blogger challenge

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From Steven Riddle of Flos Carmeli, taken up by Julie D. of Happy Catholic, and others:

The game is to describe yourself in 3 quotations. They can be funny, serious, whatever. Here are mine:

"True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost."
------------------Arthur Ashe
(And please note: I don't think I'm there yet, but it is my charism and life's work to serve others when and where I can. I'm working on it!)

"I have always felt sorry for people afraid of feeling, of sentimentality, who are unable to weep with their whole heart. Because those who do not know how to weep do not know how to laugh either."
---------------------Golda Meier

"The life of a bookseller [or me, I would insert!] is very demoralizing to the intellect," he went on after a pause. "He is surrounded by innumerable books; he cannot possibly read them all; he dips into one and picks up a scrap from another. His mind gradually fills itself with miscellaneous flotsam, with superficial opinions, with a thousand half-knowledges....."
------------------------Christopher Morley (in The Haunted Bookshop)

Doo bee Doo bee Doo.....

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....and all that.

As you've already all noticed, based on the static design of our blog and the glacial speed with which we update our blogroll, I am probably the least technologically competent of the people you would ever run into. It's not that I hate technology, exactly, it's just that I am always wary of it, and skeptical that I am smart enough to actually master it, without it mastering me first.

So imagine the look on PapaC's face when I told him that the one thing that I really would like to have was an MP3 player (that is what they're called, isn't it?). We went and looked at I-pods, but they were more money than I wanted to spend on what is basically a toy.

I got a Samsung player for a reasonable amount of money, and spent several hours uploading some of my favorite CDs to the device. Now I can listen to my music while the boys are watching sports without having Zteen come in and say, "Mom, could you please turn that thing down!" (Shades of role reversal!)

But the whole thing has led to a couple of weird happenings. Number one, I forget that not everyone else is hearing what I'm hearing, so when I decide to sing along, the guys at my house start laughing. OK, so I'm no singer. But to have someone who is no singer sing pitifully in the style of Frank Sinatra is unbearably hilarious to the audience hearing only me. Well, so I'll have to make sure no one is here with me before I sing LOUD!

The second thing is that the player can either play your uploads (and downloads, I know, I know) in standard album by album format (well, that terminology certainly dates me, doesn't it?) or can play them in a "shuffle all" format. In effect it just plays everything it has in its little memory in random order. It is this very ability that has caused me to wonder about myself. When the songs go from Lyle Lovett's Stand by Your Man, to an Allison Krause bluegrass instrumental, to Jimmy Buffet's Pencil Thin Mustache, to Frank Sinatra's Strangers in the Night to Janis Joplin's Me and Bobby McGee, well, what exactly does that say about the person who created that list? Off kilter, I'd say.

That said, though, listening to Me and Bobby McGee reminded me of a funny thing. It was THE popular song when I was in junior high (don't start counting to figure out how old I am--I am 49!). Every single day after P.E. class, when we were in the locker room getting dressed to go back to class, there was a whole gaggle of us who sang that song, singing into our Secret roll-on deodarant bottles as if they were mikes. Dancing around like little maniacs, belting out "Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose" as though we white-bread, middle class, goody-two-shoes barely teenagers were one step away from following Janis down the road of hippiedom and despair. Oh, but we were serious, and looking back, so pretentious. Looking back, I love that young girl, but what a goof!

Thou shalt go....


......and read Mr. Luse's entry on his blog Apologia, dissecting Charles Krauthammer's article about the use of frozen embryos.

See, it's like I told you. If we can do it, we will do it. We are ingenious beings and we can always come up with a "good" reason why we should do whatever it is that we really want to.

Friday's Feast

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From the lovely authoress at Sotto, sotto (link at the right), from Friday's Feast website!

Appetizer - Where do you go when you want to relax?

Soup - Tell about something that made you laugh this week.

Salad - What is your favorite texture?

Main Course - If you were to publish your autobiography, what would the first sentence be?

Dessert - Do you celebrate St. Patrick's Day? If so, how?

I'll answer in the comments box!

Courtesy of Steven over at Flos Carmeli:

Calliope, Muse of epic poetry
You are 'Latin'. Even among obsolete skills, the
tongue of the ancient Romans is a real
anachronism. With its profusion of different
cases and conjugations, Latin is more than a
language; it is a whole different way of
thinking about things.

You are very classy, meaning that you value the
classics. You value old things, good things
which have stood the test of time. You value
things which have been proven worthy and
valuable, even if no one else these days sees
them that way. Your life is touched by a
certain 'pietas', or piety; perhaps you are
even a Stoic. Nonetheless, you have a certain
fascination with the grotesque and the profane.
Also, the modern world rejects you like a bad
transplant. Your problem is that Latin has
been obsolete for a long time.

What obsolete skill are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Yep, I'd say that's about right!


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Take a look at this article about young women wanting to stay home and raise their kiddos.

A little snippet:

Research into the attitudes of 1,500 women with an average age of 29 found that 61 per cent believe "domestic goddess" role models who juggle top jobs with motherhood and jet-set social lives are "unhelpful" and "irritating". More than two-thirds agree that the man should be the main provider in a family, while 70 per cent do not want to work as hard as their mother's generation. On average, the women questioned want to "settle down" with their partner by 30 and have their first child a year later.

Vicki Shotbolt, deputy chief executive of the National Family and Parenting Institute, said: "This is the generation of young women who have seen the 'have it all' ethos up close and personal, and they have realised that it doesn't work.

"Their own mothers may have tried to juggle motherhood and careers, and it may have been the children who feel they lost out ... I think women really are coming of age now, and are accepting that it is virtually impossible to have it all."

As you read on in the story, it's not quite as rosy as it seems. Only 25% of the women intend to completely stay home with their children. The other 75% seem to want a job that is OK but not demanding. No top executive/mommies here.

I've been both a working mom and a stay at home mom. Stay at home mom-hood is not an easy job. But I have had more moments of drop dead JOY as a mommy than I ever did as the controller of a multimillion dollar company.

UPDATE: I think the hyperlink is fixed. Thanks for the heads up, PapaLu! That's what comes of trying to do it quickly while McKid is snoozin' on the couch in the early morning.....

Interview questions for Pansy....

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....of Two Sleepy Mommies fame (link to the right, of course! They are our heroines, and helped us so generously when we started. If you don't read them every single day, you SHOULD!!!!)

1. So living in the great white north sounds brrrrrr, too cold, to us Southerners. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live, and why?

2. Are you really sleepy all the time? And just how DID you meet that Peony girl, anyway?

3. What was the last movie you watched, and would you recommend it to us? (Note: this needs to be a grown-up movie. Bambi doesn't count.)

4. Go ahead and confess. Tell us one of your guilty pleasures.

5. You knew it was coming: What's your all-time favorite fiction book? At least for today.

Check out the article HERE about scientists in Silicon Valley deciding to create a mouse with 100% human brain cells.

Here's a snippet:

Last week, however, the university's ethics committee approved the research, under certain conditions. Prof Henry Greely, the head of the committee, said: "If the mouse shows human-like behaviours, like improved memory or problem-solving, it's time to stop."

He accepted that the project might seem "a little creepy", but insisted: "It's not going to get up and say 'Hi, I'm Mickey'. Our brains are far more complicated."

You know, I just don't get the whole concept of a bunch of people sitting around a table, and someone saying, "Hey, I know! Let's make a mouse with a human brain cells!!!" And even more I don't understand the other people sitting around the table going, "Yeah! That's a GREAT idea!"

Why? For what purpose?

And the answer is really just "Because we can."

Also notice, please, that the cells will come from aborted fetuses.

Never be sucked into the thought processes of those people who told you that "a ban on human cloning (or any other objectionable proceudure) isn't NECESSARY, because we just wouldn't DO that."

Ha. The operative principle is if we can do it, we WILL do it. Regardless of ethical issues. Don't believe anyone who tells you otherwise.

Quote for today

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I believe it to be a great mistake to present Christianity as something charming and popular with no offense in it....We cannot blink at the fact that gentle Jesus meek and mild was so stiff in his opinions and so inflammatory in his language that he was thrown out of church, stoned, hunted from place to place, and finally gibbeted as a firebrand and a public danger. Whatever his peace was, it was not the peace of an amiable indifference.

----Dorothy Sayers

(Courtesy of the Bruderhof's Daily Dig)


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A story about a study done in the UK showing that "wanting to be thinner" starts around age 5. Yep, that's right, FIVE.

You can read the article HERE.

Put it on your calendar


April 26th, 2005 is National Pro-life T-shirt Day--where kids commit to wearing a pro-life t-shirt to school, to work, out and about. I think its a great idea. The website for the project can be found HERE.

Don't see why it would have to be an all-kid thing. Maybe we should all wear them that day! The Summas will post some links to pro-life shirts when we get a chance.


Here's a link to the pro-life t-shirt section on Catholic

9th book of 2005 finished!


The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley. A sequel to Parnassus on Wheels, it's actually a little heftier than the original. But there still isn't a lot of there there. It's strength lies solely in its characters and its discussions of the bookselling trades. But for those of us who are bibliomaniacs, it is utterly charming and a "must-have" for the library. There is some lovely quotation about books, or love, or suffering or war in every chapter.

Take this description of Roger Mifflin's wife, Helen:

They greeted each other with the hearty, affectionate simplicity of those congenially wedded in middle age. Helen Mifflin was a buxom, healthy creature, rich in good sense and good humour, well nourished both in mind and body.

Now, that's how I would like to be seen. Isn't it lovely?

And here is the placard for the book store by the front door:

The Shop is Haunted by the ghosts
Of all great literature, in hosts;
We sell no fakes or trashes.
Lovers of books are welcome here,
No clerks will babble in your ear,
Please smoke--but don't drop ashes.
Browse as long as you like.
Prices or all books plainly marked
If you want to ask questions, you'll find the proprietor where the tobacco smoke is thickest.
We pay cash for books.
We have what you want, though you may not know you want it.
--->Malnutrition of the reading faculty is a serious thing.
Let us prescribe for you.

Now, I'd walk into a book shop like that, wouldn't you?

Darn you, Mr. K!


We didn't get to be first, but HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MR. WILLS!


Here's a song I wrote on a plane between Dallas and Austin
goin to El Paso
Now this is what gave us the idea to come down here,
this is a song about a guy that probably did as much for
our kind of music as anybody.

Well the Honky Tonks in Texas were my natural second home
the way you tip your hat to the ladies in the rose of San Antone
I grew up on music that we call western swing
it don't matter whose in Austin, Bob Wills is still the King

Lawd, I can still remember the way things were back then
in spite of all the hard times i'd live it all again
to hear the Texas Playboys and Tommy Duncan sing
makes me proud to be from Texas where Bob Wills is still the King

You can hear the Grand Ol Opry in Nashville Tennessee
its the home of country music on that we all agree
but when you cross that ol Red River hoss,
that just don't mean a thing
once youre down in Texas, Bob Wills is still the King

If you aint never been there, then I guess you aint been told
that you just can't live in Texas unless you got alot of soul
its the home of Willie Nelson, the home of western swing
he'll be the first to tell you, Bob Wills is still the King.

-----Waylon Jennings

And then, from Bob Wills himself, and since we live right outside Cowtown, here are the lyrics to Big Ball's in Cowtown. Please feel free to sing and dance along:

Aagghh! Let the ladies split out wide
Grab your pardner - go hog wild.
Aagghh! Now, now, now;

Big Ball's in Cowtown
We'll all go down
Big Ball's in Cowtown
We'll dance a round.

Workin' on the railroad
Sleepin' on the ground
Eatin' saltine crackers
Ten cents a pound.


Put on your new shoes
Put on your gown
Take off them sack clothes
The Big Ball's in town.


I'll stay in cowtown
I'll stick around
Bolt up your window
The Big Ball's in town.

Honey, if you ain't ever done some boot-scootin' with your sweetie to some Bob Wills music, then you ain't LIVED!!!

And right here is a link to a website about Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. Enjoy, my friends......

Excellent editorial....

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.....about girls' clothes by Rebecca Hagelin can be found HERE.


Face the facts: Most 12 - 16 year olds don't have access to a lot of cash - unless, of course, their parents give it to them. And, last I heard, if you're below the age of 16 you simply can't hop in a car and drive yourself to the local mall. Nope, it's not the kids' money that is being spent, it's the parents' money. And it's usually the mom that happily drives the little darlings to the mall for a fun day of shopping. Face it: Little girls dress according to what their mommies allow.

I thought mothers were supposed to protect their daughters, to teach them to value themselves and their bodies. What chance does a little girl stand of keeping her childhood or innocence intact when it's mommy that's driving her to the store and paying for the thongs, the itty-bitty skirts, the hipster jeans and the plunging necklines?

And when did fathers start letting their precious little girls dress like "ladies of the night"?

Hello, is anybody out there?

Parents, here's a novel challenge: Be the parents.

Thought for the day


....courtesy of the Bruderhof Daily Dig:

Every believer knows that Christ went the way of the cross for our sakes. But it is not enough just to know this. He suffered in vain unless we are willing to die for him as he died for us. If we call ourselves his followers, we must be willing to take the same path he took.

We know, too, that Christ comforts and heals, saves and forgives. But we must not forget that he judges too. If we truly love him, we will love everything in him; not only his compassion and mercy, but his sharpness too. For it is his sharpness that prunes and purifies. His love is not the soft love of human emotion, but a burning fire that cleanses and sears. It is a love that demands self-sacrifice.

----J. Heinrich Arnold

A Game

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....from Julie D. over at Happy Catholic and Erik over at Erik's Rants and Recipes (both links are to the right).

List the first five movie quotes you can think of. They must be from different movies.

Here are mine:

1. "Your father was a hamster, and your mother smelled of elderberries!" (Monty Python and the Holy Grail)

2. "What knockers!" "Why, thank you doctor!" (Young Frankenstein)

3. "As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again!" (Gone With the Wind)

4. "Stand up, Miss Scout. Your daddy is passin'" (To Kill a Mockingbird)

5. "My mama says if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all!" (Bambi--can you tell we just bought the new DVD today?)

and one extra

6. "We have so much in common. We both like soup." (Best in Show)

Your turn!

McKid has started singing everything she says. My niece Zgirl used to do this when she was playing outside--singing her life and fantasies while she was digging in the sandbox or swinging on the swing. It cracked me up.

And now, we have the McKid singing her made up stories, to no known tune. Or maybe I should say, a tune known only to her. My mother and I were treated to the following gem:

And Mary told Jesus:
And Jesus said:
And Mary told Jesus:
And Jesus said:
And Mary told Jesus:
Put your shoes on or I will
Not let you see the horses.
And Jesus put his shoes on.


8th Book of 2005 finished

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The Endless Knot by William L. Biersach.

Recommended to me during my annual hunt for books to put on my book club's reading list, and in some long-forgotten book review I had read, I decided to jump in when it arrived from Amazon. (Let's not discuss my Amazon addiction, OK? It rivals my 1/2 Price Books addiction. And let's remember the entry below about telling ourselves no.)

First, a few quibbles. #1, my book fell apart! The book is published by a press called Tumblar House, and they must be a start up or very tiny press, leading to low quality printing and binding. This isn't the author's fault, and I don't blame him for it, but it is frustrating to only be halfway through the book and have to hold it together because pages are beginning to come loose from the binding. I paid more than $15 for the paperback, and that's disappointing.

#2, if you read this book, and you are not a "traditional" Catholic, be ready for the persistent undercurrent of "the only GOOD Catholics are Trad Catholics." While Mr. Biersach doesn't paint traddies as angelic beings (and kudos to him for that!), he paints NO other Catholic as a good guy AT ALL. At one point in the book (and I nearly gave up on it here), Fr. Baptist's sidekick Martin Feeney has threatened to quit and go to some other parish. Fr. Baptist tells him basically, well, you might be happy there. It is a Novus Ordo parish, fairly conservative, blah, blah, blah. But it just happens to be the parish where they are allowing a famous witch to speak in the parish hall. Get it? Even the CONSERVATIVE parishes are hotbeds of evil. Only the traddie St. Philomena's is a good place.

Not being a "traditional" Catholic, I found this offensive. But I mushed on to finish the book.

Past the quibbles, I must say that I enjoyed the book while I was reading it. It has an engaging hero-sleuth, Fr. John Baptist, who is a retired cop turned priest. His sidekick (his Dr. Watson? his Archie?) is Martin Feeney, gardener for St. Philomena's. The bishops of Los Angeles are being killed off in spectacular ways, and the Archbishop calls upon Fr. Baptist to help solve the case before mayhem ensues.

Mystery novels are difficult to review, because there is so much that one can't say about them without ruining them for others who might want to read them. Let's just say that the mystery involves witchcraft, the occult, feminism and nuns gone wrong. In fact, there's almost too MUCH stuff in the novel. I think it would have benefitted from a little more stringent editing.

I liked the characters of Fr. Baptist and Martin Feeney very much. It was refreshing to read a book that assumed that evil was very, very real--and not always unattractive. The humor was often sly, and unexpected. I laughed out loud several times. And the Knights Tumblar--a group of young men who get together to drink, read, talk, sing and fight for the Church was utterly charming.


Just got back from checking the reviews on They were universally five-star reviews. But there were only 5 or 6 of them. What that reinforces is my idea is that this is a good niche mystery. If you're a traddie, or have traddie leanings, this is probably your cup of tea, with cream and sugar.

......has been rattling around in my head, reinforced by one of the meditations I have been reading in my Lenten program. The discussion was actually about priests wearing their clericals on their days off/during recreation/etc. But that isn't what I've been thinking about.

Apparently, a few years ago, Crisis magazine had an article that dealt with the "gay priest" issue, giving "warning signs" that there might be a problem with a priest. Mr. Bettinelli expanded those "warning signs" to include heterosexual priests as well, since they seemed equally valid in that situation.

And I thought he was right, and it was a good discussion.

But it was one of those "warning signs" that has stuck in my head--because it seems to me that it really applies to all of us, not just to priests. Here's the point from the magazine:

Restore simplicity to priestly life. Physical comfort is the oxygen that feeds the fires of homosexual indulgence. Cut it off. When you enter a rectory, take a look at the liquor cabinet, the videos, the wardrobe, the slick magazines, and ask yourself, “Do I get the impression that the man who lives here is in the habit of saying no to himself?” If the answer is negative, the chances are that his life of chastity is in disorder as well. It goes without saying that reforming bishops should lead by example in this department and not simply exhort.

I think it is just as easy to say "Physical comfort is the oxygen that feeds the fires of indulgence" period. And I think the question asked is appropriate to all of us. If someone walked into MY house would they have the impression that I ever said NO to myself?????

I know I'm not a nun. (Oh really, what was my first clue?) And I know I'm not called to live with one change of clothes and 3 books as my total list of possessions. But isn't there somewhere along the way that enough is enough and that even though we could buy more, have more, do more, it is important that we don't?

I don't think this is about the external sign--I know as well as the next that we are called to wash our faces and dress well when we fast--not making a public display of it. That's not what I'm talking about.

When I walk into my house, is there any evidence at least (at the LEAST) to ME that I have denied myself?

I think that this is one of the most important questions in a country rich beyond most of the world's imaginings. We are in the "don't deny yourself" mindset big time. And it dovetails into the things that the Pope has said about giving: If we only give what we never miss, giving only of our excess, then we probably aren't giving enough. If we can have the giant SUV, every pair of shoes we ever loved, dinners out as many nights as we would like, and still give to the Church or to the poor, are we really giving ENOUGH? Our tendency is to look at dollars given: "Well, that's more than most in my parish" and be satisfied. But did that giving, ever, even ONCE, cause us to have to skip a meal out?


This is a hard thing. The pleasures I am talking about are licit pleasures--it's not wrong to have pretty dresses or nice dishes. But isn't there a place that we seriously consider what we're doing and think, "I could do that, but I'm not going to."

I have a problem....

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......with dated meditation books, like my Conversation With God book that I am reading through Lent. You see, it has such a nice, organized format--4 or 5 short pages of reading for each day. Trouble is, I can't seem to stay on program. Either I miss a day, and rather than skip the words of wisdom I read too much at a time. Or I get stuck on a certain meditation and days pass while I am reading and rereading a certain passage. Then I look up and am 5 days behind--and trying to "catch up."

Now a sensible person would just skip those days that she was behind, wouldn't she? I mean a sensible person would just think: "Undiscovered riches for the next time through the book" and without a shred of guilt turn to the correct page and begin reading the daily meditation.

I'm having a hard time being sensible.

That's why I like undated books better. Then my hard-headedness doesn't stare me in the face every day.



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