Friday, June 29, 2012

When in doubt, tell jokes & look at cute animals...

This is my learned response to the Supreme Court's ruling today:
Two lawyers walking through the woods spotted a vicious-looking bear. The first lawyer immediately opened his briefcase, pulled out a pair of sneakers and started putting them on. The second lawyer looked at him and said, "You're crazy! You'll never be able to outrun that bear!" "I don't have to," the first lawyer replied. "I only have to outrun you."
One day there was a rabbit and a snake who were both growing old and could not remember what animal they were. "OK I'll describe you and then see if you can guess what you are." said the snake. "That's a good idea." said the rabbit. "You are white, fluffy, and you have big ears and feet." said the snake. "Oh good, I'm a rabbit! So the rabbit says, "You are long, slim, and have a forked tongue." "Oh NO, I'm a lawyer!
A photographer was hired to take pictures at a lawyers' convention. When he lined up his subjects, he got them to look their best by shouting, "OK, everyone say, 'Fees!"
A lawyer, an engineer and a mathematician were called in for a test. The engineer went in first and was asked, ''What is 2+2?'' The engineer thought awhile and finally answered, ''4.'' Then the mathematician was called in and was asked the same question. With little thought he replied, ''4.0.'' Then the lawyer was called in, and was asked the same question. The lawyer answered even quicker than the mathematician, ''What do you want it to be?'' from
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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Greatest Man Born of Woman

Joy to you, O barren one unable to give birth! Behold, you conceive today the one who is really a Torch of the Sun, who will enlighten the whole world that suffered from blindness. Rejoice, O Zachary, and cry out in all confidence: "The One who will be born is a Prophet of the Most High!".
Zachary rejoices greatly with his wife Elizabeth, for she has conceived John the Forerunner whom the angel announced in gladness. As for us, we honor him in witness of this blessing.
O Prophet and Forerunner of the coming of Christ, in spite of our eagerness to render you due honor, we fall short when singing your praise. Your glorious birth saved your mother from the shame of barrenness, returned to your father the power of speech, and proclaimed to the world the Incarnation of the Son of God.
The woman who had been barren becomes fertile and gives birth today to the Forerunner of Christ. He is the greatest and last of the prophets, for standing in the waters of the Jordon River, he placed his hands on Christ whom all the prophets had announced, and in so doing he became a prophet himself, a preacher and a forerunner of the Word of God.
icon found at This is Life

Friday, June 22, 2012

Eastern Saints, Intercessors & Heavenly Friends- 7 QuickTakes

continuing a bit on my theme of diversity in the Church, here are a few quick reflections on some of my favorite Eastern saints. I invite you to add a favorite saint of yours to the comment box:
St Macrina the Younger- Can you imagine having Saints Basil the Great and Gregory of Nyssa as brothers with Saint Macrina the older as your namesake and your grandmother? It seems that the family business was making saintly people, so she fared well in living a godly life and passing the faith to her more famous brothers.

St Ephrem- a deacon in Syria, he was a poet and songwriter, encouraging women to have a singing role in the Church. he was declared a doctor of the Church. He was a prolific writer:
  • "Remember me, ye heirs of God, ye brethren of Christ; supplicate the Savior earnestly for me, that I may be freed through Christ from him that fights against me day by day." (from his The Fear at the End of Life)
  • "You (Jesus) alone and your Mother are more beautiful than any others, for there is no blemish in you nor any stains upon your Mother. Who of my children can compare in beauty to these?" (Nisibene Hymns 27:8)....and he wrote one of my favorite prayers ever:

O Lord and Master of my life,
Grant not unto me a spirit of idleness,
of discouragement,
of lust for power,
and of vain speaking.
But bestow upon me, Thy servant,
the spirit of chastity,
of meekness,
of patience,
and of love.
Yea, O Lord and King,
grant that I may perceive
my own transgressions,
and judge not my brother,
for blessed art Thou
unto ages of ages. 

St Mary of Egypt- Most women like to live in community, but she became a hermit after leaving a life of debauchery. She's an inspiration to anyone looking to make a major change in life. The image below is depicts St Mary of Egypt receiving Holy Eucharist from St Zozimus

St Nicholas- Simcha Fisher mentioned him (his role as a charitable bishop doing real social justice work) in passing this week at the National Catholic Register. I loved her take on the issue- go read the article on how it is quite okay to fund people away from the abortion industry just as it was okay for St Nicholas to give money to keep girls out of a life of prostitution. I always feel a bit smug (wrong, I know) when Latin-rite Catholics mention him ("Santa Claus is really Saint Nicholas- a Catholic Bishop!") during the Christmas season- do most know that he is one of those Eastern bishops with a Mass that keeps on saying "Lord, Have mercy" (true- a nun asked me, "don't you think that it goes a little overboard with all those Lord, have mercies?" ummm...) The image below shows St Nicholas telling Arius who's boss (God) during the Council of Nicaea

St Charbel- a modern saint from Lebanon, considered a 'wonder worker' and a mermit/monk- this was his prayer when struck with a serious illness during the Divine Liturgy-  “O Father of truth, behold Your Son, victim to please You; condescend to approve this offering, because for me He endured death, to give me life...” 

Blessed Omelian Kovch- a married Ukrainian Byzantine Catholic priest with six children, he died in the Majdanek death camp in 1944.

Martyred Bishops of Romania- Twelve bishops stayed true to their faith and the Church during communist persecution; they are in various stages of beatification.
All you holy saints, pray for us! Lord, have mercy on us!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

homeschooling or not...

Lovely Auntie Leila from Like Mother, Like Daughter just celebrated a daughter's wedding (and another daughter's wedding three weeks ago!), and she came up with the most beautiful words on raising children in a family culture and for another world. She's given carte blanche to reprint it:
"At that moment I thought of how, well, homeschooling or not, that's not so much the point as that it's worth it to commit, to devote yourself to the mission of building your family and beyond into the community and the culture. To do what it takes. For a long time I didn't understand how to do that; not that I think you ever really do understand, human nature being fallen and all, but I really often felt lost.

There is suffering and disappointment; and there are moments when you just don't think you will make it, in the sense that you can't imagine how these fairly intractable people with their headlong refusal to mold themselves into an approved happy family vision,  and especially yourself with all your faults and failings (and not to mention the world beating down on you), will come together in some sort of cohesive unity. And then one day, by the grace of God, they do. And you do. And you are you, the collective you that you were trying to be, only at the same moment -- like a wave on the sand that retreats before it quite reaches the tide line -- they have their eye on another shore."

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

It's the First Official Day of Summer!

An idea from the new wife blog She Learns As She Goes, I've made a 'bucket list' for this summer. We shall see how it goes....I hope we do more fun stuff than it is even on this list...but the garage/family room/homeschool room is calling me (again!)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Three Years Ago Yesterday

Our baby girl turned three years old yesterday! She started life in the world as a four pound 32-weeker- the biggest and healthiest baby in the NICU for five weeks. Now, she is mature and thoughtful enough to listen respectfully as everyone sings to her yet again (cake on Saturday, cake on Sunday, cake on Monday) and doesn't need to be prompted to say "Thank you" to a gift-giver. And then she goes out to play in the dirt while her watercolor paint is drying on her matter how much trouble she's making, she is a gift from God and a credit to her family.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Summer is for Bookworms- 7 QuickTakes

1. It being summer, good books are on the minds of all superior people everywhere. Why turn on the television and watch the latest rerun when a book is at hand? It's too hot to knit; read a book. You can't swim all day; give your lunch a chance to digest before you get back into the water and read a book. My parents did a stellar job of keeping us children busy in the summers. We did have some special activities like a theater day camp and sometimes swimming lessons, but we mostly played outside and read books. 

2. Simcha Fisher has been writing about books this week. Her blog post "Books that get Childhood" is spot-on and the comments have given me so many ideas for the children and myself. I appreciate that she doesn't only recommend those perfect Catholic books found in Catholic Heritage Curriculum- even though I appreciate their books. Some of Simcha's recommendations have imperfect characters and non-Catholic settings, but there is a truth in each that is efficacious for our children.  Just don't recommend the Berenstain Bears to her. She has her limits.
3. I still remember the feeling when my little sister and I found a copy of Betsy and the Great World.  We had read the earlier 'Betsy and Tacy' books, but this book was missing from our library. It is hard nowadays to give our children the freedom to explore the library (in our area, the computers have public, unfiltered internet access and it is a kind of homeless shelter because it is a public place), but I feel safe with my children in the children's section. There is no internet access, and adults with no accompanying children are not permitted to 'hang out' or use the children's section's bathrooms. There is the rest of the library for them to read, study, surf the 'net, and sleep. 

4. My oldest daughters will be 13 and 12 this summer. Demographically, they should be right at the age to be in the 'teen scene' section of the library. But this mama says "No." I'm considering letting them read some Austen- which would put them in classics, not YA. I don't want them reading Hunger Games or Harry Potter (after book 3) until high school (which is coming soon enough- so maybe until at least the 10th grade...). They won't read Twilight or other YA books of the same ilk (protagonist who is trendy, sullen, no talent or interest besides a boyfriend) while they are under my roof. The teen section of the library is mostly filled with such books along with movies and magazines that I don't want my girls seeing.

5. So we hang out all together in the children's section. The girls can wander the childrens' section while I sit with the little ones for the weekly story and song time (bubble machine at the end!). Then, the big girls read books to the littles while I go upstairs to find books for myself and any books for them that might be in the teen or adult sections. Did you know that Please Don't Drink the Holy Water is in the non-fiction section under humor? I have to go into the 'adult' video section to get old musicals, classic 'Catholic' and Shirley temple films, but I would rather the girls not see the latest R-rated films' covers. I can't protect them from everything, but I also don't have to send them into the lions' den.

6. Moms of many little ones, it is possible at many libraries to reserve your books on-line and the books will be waiting for you at the front desk! Give those summer volunteers some work and be easy on yourself!

7. It is also possible to 'check out' library books with your e-reader, and I've been enjoying my beloved childhood 'Twins' books for free on my Kindle. I still prefer paper, but if an e-reader is tolerable for +Ray Bradbury, I will sometimes use one.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

PrettyHappyFunny and a little too Real

Pretty the big girls have been having fun, inventing new ways to put up their hair for ballet
Happy ten years of priesthood
 Funny this video is the girls singing a Mother's Day song in Romanian- the 'funny' comes at :29 or so.
Real this was a month ago; a family friend's dog decided he needed to show the 2-year old that he was dominate over her. She got the message. Praise God- her face is fine now, and she still likes dogs.
more phfr at like mother, like daughter...stay tuned for another wedding there soon!

Diversity in the Church: Part 2

The Catholic Church is one, holy, catholic (universal) and apostolic
Let's contrast the meaning of "one" and "catholic/universal." When I asked the question, "diversity in the Church-can you handle it?" yesterday, I was really thinking of the universality of the Church and what that really means. Yes, the Church is one, but also universal. This means that we Catholics have essential aspects in common (certain liturgical actions, moral doctrine, importance of both Bible and sacred tradition, the dogma of a male priesthood) but because we are universal there should be an openness to a great diversity or universality- and this goes beyond welcoming those with different skin colors, languages and cultures into our own parish.
This means that not everybody sings Gift of Finest Wheat during the Eucharist. This means that not everybody uses a lasso during the wedding ceremony. This means that not everybody celebrates feasts on the same day and not everybody gets 'ashed' on the first Wednesday of Lent. We like to pretend that our parish is the 'way it is done'- not realizing that there is a big world out there with different valid ways to worship as a Catholic (even as a 'conservative' Catholic- I say Gift of Finest Wheat might be fine even while I prefer other songs but ten foot puppets and Lord of the Dance and liturgical dance are not Catholic ways to worship during the Mass. Maybe around the campfire?)
Most Catholics stand during the Gospel, but some sometimes kneel. Most Catholics kneel during the Eucharistic prayer, but some stand. Some Catholics fast about two days a year; some fast almost a third of the year. Some Latin-rite Novus Ordo churches use extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist and altar girls, others don't. Some Tridentine parishes use a 'dialogue' style in their Mass, others don't. Many Byzantine parishes have no benches- and hence- no kneelers. Other Byzantine parishes are navigating the difficulties of de-latinization by introducing the Akathist even while still praying the rosary as a community. Some Byzantine parishes use boy altar servers while others only allow men at the altar. 
I pray that we are seeing a time of unity in the Church. The SSPX are in talks with the Holy Father. If they are united with Rome, their Liturgy won't change. Perhaps they will work with FSSP (a Tridentine- 'old' Latin-rite order in union with Rome). The Anglican ordinate is another group that is adding to both the unity and diversity of the Church. Perhaps more Orthodox groups will come into unity as well! It is well and good to prefer where one is. It is well and good that you love your parish (I pray you do!) and your little parish family, but the Church does not stop there. The world is a big place. Get out of your comfort zone. Go to a daily Mass or prayer service at a parish (and maybe even rite) that is not your own. Expose your children to the 'Italian' church in town even though you are Irish. Visit the Romanian Byzantine parish's church festival even if you are Ukrainian Byzantine Catholic. Tell them priest's wife sent you!
Coptic Catholic
photos from &
This quotation, falsely attributed to St Augustine, can be a great help with the diversity 'problem.' The first important idea is "in all things, charity." So I suppose it follows that we must tolerate and love our Church family members who sing off key, obsess over birthday cakes, and speak our language with a heavy accent as we hope that others are merciful over our own foibles.  But then there is the dilemma- what is essential and what is non-essential? For Liturgical Christians and fellow Catholics of all rites- what do you say is essential?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Diversity in the Church: can you handle it?

"L'enfer, c'est les autres" (Satre- not the nicest man)

Can you handle the diversity in your family? Even those people sharing DNA and environment in a family will be different from each other- there will be the black sheep, the artsy one, the athlete, crazy Aunt Martha, grumpy Great-Grandpa, the quiet one, the trouble-maker, the irritating one with some family members being combinations of various categories.

The Church is a family- bound by the sacraments instead of blood, and it is just as diverse as any family. Because the Church is made up of people, it will never be a perfect church-going experience. There will be tone-deaf people who insist on singing really loudly. The priest- yes, he is a family member too- might be a little too human and obsessed with his golf game. There will be people from different ethnic, economic, educational and even religious backgrounds- can you handle it? There will be people there dealing with divorce, abuse, addiction, even mental illness- can you handle it? Tolerance and acceptance of the diversity in any group larger than one person doesn't mean that we have to accept bad behavior, but like in any loving family, we must love everything about our fellow Church family members except sin.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Not a Tame Religion: a guest post from the Byzantine Bandit

"If you're a fan of C.S. Lewis's Narnia books, you've probably seen the movie. At least the first movie. Which was by far the best and most faithful adaptation. But don't argue about that in the combox. The reason I brought it up is this scene in the first movie
in which Lucy and Mr. Tumnus discuss how, while Aslan is good, He is not tame. Now of course, Aslan is/represents Jesus. And not Mohammed, Buddha or any other religious figure ('xcept like, you know, how Jesus is New Adam, but that's kinda in the whole "Aslan is Jesus" thing) I don't care what anyone else says. But again, that should not be the subject of the combox argument.

The reason I'm pulling up Aslan and His not-tameness is because the religion that Jesus founded is NOT, and I repeat NOT, a tame religion. What is a tame religion, you ask? Well, in a tame religion:
  • People make all the rules. Like in New Ageism. The nature-spirity stuff. People make up their deities. I could go for a walk and suddenly decide to worship Farsicus, the god of Gum People Left on the Sidewalk. I'd make all the rules for how people were to worship him, give him characteristics that matched my own, etc. And of course, Farsican morality would totally cater to me. Whatever I wanted would be permitted, whatever I didn't want wouldn't be. And of course Farsicus would be totally cool with me making tons of money off his cheesy merchandise.
  • Fundamental rules are completely changeable. In my religion of Farsicanismology, one day Farsicus could want everyone to drink bull's blood mixed with honey and the next day we could discover that Farsicus is in fact a bull and is extremely offended at us drinking his kin's blood. And B-T-dubs, just 'cuz New Ageism is a fusion of various elements,  Farsicanismology teaches that Farsicus did pretty much everything every other religious tradition's main person did. At the same time (and it did happen in time while simultaneously happening in an alternate parallel universe). While a vulture ate his liver.
  • Actually, the first thing about people making all the rules is probably the whole shebang for when something's a tame religion. Cuz the second point is kinda implied by the first one.
  • This point doesn't seem to have much of a point, does it?
  • This point's purpose is just for the sake of being amusing.

So, yes, tame religion. Yuck. Oh yeah and there's tame Christianity too. But for the sake of brevity and other stuff, we won't go into that. Right now we're going to switch over to how Catholicism is the wildest religion in existence.
  • First off, the Catholic Church wasn't founded by people. It was founded by a the God-Man, our Lord Jesus Christ. In a complete override of everything that had ever happened before and everything that would ever happen after, He took on flesh from a virgin. Yeah. Let's see humans invent that idea.
  • Second, our fundamental rules can't change. The faith and everything that goes along with that are unchangeable. They cannot be "tamed," that is to say, made to go along with what we want (although people do try). Note that disciplinary stuff like when fasts are and such is different and can be changed.
  • Third, our bishops don't do what we tell them. Not only can we not tame the religion itself, we generally can't even tame the leaders of the Church. Of course, every once in a while the "faithful" reign one in, but then the rest of the bishops punish him or something and go on being wild and free of stupidity and heresy and stuff, teaching us to do the same."
Thanks for sharing, Byzantine Bandit! I plan to borrow more material in the future!

Friday, June 1, 2012

An Anniversary QuickTake

My parents were married in '68 or so, but 'their' song is from '76. It makes sense that this song 'Still the One'  could only become a couple's song after a lot of history and at least four children. 
Putting logic aside, we chose Shania Twain's song for ours at our wedding 14 years ago. I don't listen to country music, but I like this song. I didn't know it was so popular when we chose it. We had only been together two years before we got married, but I still liked the message of the song. It makes more sense now.

find many more quick takes at