Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Accidental Housewife

Growing up I never aspired to be a housewife. In fact I didn’t even know anyone who would admit to such a thing. My aspirations were to be rich and powerful. True they haven’t changed much though I try to squeeze sanctity in whenever I can.

In fact I told my future husband when we were dating that I wanted to be fair to him and felt obligated to tell him that I wasn’t interested in marriage and that my career would always come first. After I was well established (and naturally rich) I would adopt handicapped children. They would be cared for lovingly by a well chosen nanny during the day and doted on by me in the evenings and on weekends. They would be driven around in a Mercedes station wagon. Black of course

Somewhere along the way I got a clue, married the prince from Cinderella and began to have children. A fair number of them. We don’t have a black Mercedes but a Suburban dubs in very nicely. And I find myself irretrievably, inexplicably and inescapably a housewife.

Just when the feminists thought that they had driven every housewife from the shores of the new land something very strange happened. Home Comforts, Martha Stewart, Desperate Housewives, Crafts, Scrapbooking, and homestyle honest-to-goodness- from scratch cooking

Housekeeping is nearly all the rage. We long for antique textiles, time to quilt, crochet and knit, reproduction sewing patterns, vintage aprons, speckled ironware, a Kitchen Aid mixer and a commercial oven. Stainless steel of course.

Introducing the blogs that make housekeeping cool and elegant and feed our appetite for frivolity and romance- all at the same time.

Brocante home- this I call my guilty pleasure. You’ll understand.

Martha Stewart-
love her or hate her she started the revolution and we must acknowledge that even though she has gotten very, very rich in the process.

There is power in knowing that you can whip up a batch of peanut butter cookies at 10:30 at night that will melt in your mouth and elevate you to goddess status among your children and husband, or sew a costume for an upcoming dance recital that will have the audience amazed, or celebrate a birthday lunch out with your girlfriend and realize that you could horrify your sweet young waitress by announcing that between the two of you- you have 18 children. (I didn’t do it).

Acknowledge the power in the hand that rocks the cradle and rules the world and the kitchen and the laundry room and the parlor. Reign over your home like a queen, for that is what you are.


Muslim "Saint"

Now there's an oxymoron if there ever was one.

I can't believe there are still people who think:

1. This is actually a religion.
2. It was generous and wellmeaning to apologize for the Crusades
3. We were correct in ending the Crusades.
4. Islam is the religion of peace.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Get Out of Jail "Free"

The Holy Father has spoken on the scandal of Catholics who divorce their wives or husbands and then receive annulments for the flimsiest of reasons.

My first response is, "Well it's about time." and my second is that until annulments are refused and Catholics do not expect a "Get out of my marriage" free card and permission to attempt another "marriage" no one will pay attention to the Pope's exhortation.

And beyond that the best we can do is pray for strong Catholic marriages or even weak but permanent Catholic marriages. A friend who was instrumental in bringing the Latin Mass to a large North East city once confided in me that he was considering divorce. He and his wife had "grown apart". She didn't attend the Latin Mass. I rebuked him very strongly and said that that was no excuse. His wife was a good woman. She was the mother of his children and that he would be setting a terrible example for us "younger" Catholic families. I offered him no sympathy and hope that he took what I said to heart.

The other important response is to value and esteem the first, sacramental marriage. Forget about "keeping the peace" and winning popularity contests. If an acquaintance or family member gets the brilliant idea of trading in their spouse for someone new you do not have to recognize it. You can support the real family- the children and the spouse. You don't have to go along to get along. You can support Catholic marriage. You must.

It is sobering to read the books on marriage written in the 40s and 50s about how much children of divorce suffer. These books also explain how delinquency in children is caused by divorce. You will hear not a peep about such things now. Delinquency is inevitable. Divorce unavoidable. The future of marriage and family life dire.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Bishop's Crosier and its significance

After his Religion class I asked my 5 year old son Stephen if he answered any questions in class today. (Am I the only one that does this? If I am. Now. you. know.)

He was learning about Our Lord, The Good Shepherd. His teacher asked what the staff was for. He knew that it was for protection. The Shepherd used his staff to protect the lambs from the wolves. Coming from the boy who got the coloring book, "Warriors Through the Ages" for Christmas- I was not too surprised.

It struck me that while I often think of the staff as a romantic pastoral element, a sturdy walking stick and reminiscent of the scepter by which the Bishop leads his diocese I don't usually think of the staff (or the crosier) in terms of protection.

And then there is the other subject of the staff in terms of discipline. But I think that was phased out in the 1960s. Just a guess.

And what are the bishops charged with protecting us against? The flock need to be protected against heresy, sin, dissent and laxity. You can even throw lack of charity in there, it's Sunday and I'm feeling generous.

Apparently even the abbess of a religious order and Our Lady of Good Success are entitled to carry the crosier.

This Crosier of St. Nicholas is made from carved ivory.

And two more examples of very beautiful and intricate crosiers.

The Bishop of London's Crosier, 1992. I think it would be best described as the "Crosier of the Shrieking Eels". Though I do understand this in terms of Numbers 21:8-9, it is still a bit startling.

And I didn't know that this explanation for the form of the crosier has been developed (organically I hope). From Wikipedia:

The traditional explanation for the form, beyond the obvious reference to the bishop as shepherd, is this: the pointed ferule at the base symbolizes the obligation of the prelate to goad the spiritually lazy; the crook at the top, his obligation to draw back those who stray from the faith; and the staff itself his obligation to stand as a firm support for the faithful.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

This Could be Dangerous...

Prefab Chocolate Chip cookies. The dough is already made, in the tub and ready for baking.

The tub says it makes 84 cookies.

So with the oldest 5 in school, and me at home with my youngest 3 that makes 21 cookies per person. And when the school kids come home they can have a sandwich. It's better for them anyway.

Gluttony may be a vice but it is definitely NOT a heresy.

Monday, January 22, 2007


“Let me be ignorant, and in nothing good, but graciously to know I am no better.”
William Shakespeare

One of my resolutions this year was to cultivate graciousness. And I discovered that when you hope for the resolve to pursue something you will almost immediately be tested. It's like praying for patience- something I have learned never to do. Am I growing in patience? I think I must be because I haven't killed anyone yet.

The Merriam Webster online dictionary defines graciousness thus:

Pronunciation: 'grA-sh&s
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French gracieus, from Latin gratiosus enjoying favor, agreeable, from gratia
1 a obsolete : GODLY b archaic : PLEASING, ACCEPTABLE
2 a : marked by kindness and courtesy b : GRACEFUL c : marked by tact and delicacy : URBANE d : characterized by charm, good taste, generosity of spirit, and the tasteful leisure of wealth and good breeding
3 : MERCIFUL, COMPASSIONATE -- used conventionally of royalty and high nobility

Notice graciousness as a synonym for godly has become obsolete. Indeed.

Sometimes it is easier to define something by what it is not. Graciousness is not:

1. Abrupt
2. Selfish
3. Vulgar
4. Coarse
5. Emotional
6. Immature
7. Arrogant (hence my problem)
8. Slovenly
9. Insincere
10. Irreligious

This poem, if you can possibly get past the word "Tolerance", yes, I know it's hard expresses graciousness well.

The Graciousness of Tolerance

By Sui Shihuan

When the opinions of others differ from yours,
When being criticised,
When your weaknesses are being pointed out,
When the actions and words of others do not agree with what you are used to,
When your suggestions are voided,
When others make mistakes,
When being misunderstood,
When being envied,
When being neglected,
The graciousness of tolerance will untie the knots in your mind.
When the thought of gracious tolerance arises,
Everything seems to have never happened before.
It vaporises, within a second as though it had never existed.

Translated from

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Be a Marine?

Who wants to be a Marine? Well everyone does. Their maxim- "the few, the proud, the Marines".

What does it take to be a Marine- hard work, aspiring to be the best, elitism and a conviction that it is necessary.

When you hold up an ideal. Everyone wants to aspire to it.

Like the Church. Once being Catholic was considered elite- the shock troops of Christianity, ready to shed blood in a moment for the Truth. Membership in the Church was necessary for salvation (Pius IX thought so in his Syllabus of Errors), and it took hard work. There was ritual, mystery, aspiration for the best- for sanctity.

We've ripped out the altar rails, dispensed with holy days of obligation, reduced requirements for fasting and eliminated the necessity of adhering to the belief and system of the True Faith. Optional. Unnecessary. All inclusive.

And guess what? No one wants it.

Planned Parenthood & VT- partners in perversity


Actual copy from a PPNNE e-letter to VT teachers. Better let your local school's health educators know about this opportunity. The "education" starts on Jan. 29th.

Dear [ **** ] ,

After another busy holiday season, what could be more relaxing than three days at the Stoweflake Resort... Stimulate your mind by earning 20 CEU [Continuing Education Credits] ... while simultaneously pampering your body and soul....

Planned Parenthood of Northern New England's SAR (Sexual Attitude Reassessment) is a three-day workshop ... to explore your own attitudes, values and beliefs about sexual behavior in a safe, comfortable and nonjudgmental environment. The SAR uses emotionally evocative and sexually explicit films and presentations to explore personal attitudes and values.

The SAR is designed to promote open, honest self-awareness for anyone who deals with sexuality issues in the work life.

Topics to be explored include: body image; aging; disability; sexual orientation; masturbation; and language, myths and stereotypes.

As a result of the SAR, you'll be more comfortable, confident and competent when working with clients and students....

Fee ... $425 ... Dinner and lodging are not include in the $425 fee... scholarships available....

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Is it possible?

Are they really, well you know, human?????

Blog Underground

A new trend in blogging?

Avoid those nasty arguments from malcontents on your blog who delight in picking apart your statements, correcting errors of fact and judgment, and in short ing you by being more right, more often than you, the "Blog Master" are.

If you agree with me, if you praise me, if you extol me, you may read my blog.

And if you don't, you will "be on the outside looking".

Oh what wonderful things are they doing on this blog? What glorious pronouncements are being made? What secret information passed on?

The suspense is killing me!

To the author, I think this is called a "Private Chat Room" and not a blog.

"All Italy was His Diocese"

While reading about the devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus I realized that you could hardly mention it without remembering the apostle of the Holy Name, St. Bernadine of Siena.

Did you know that?:

Although Bernadine was known for his playful talk and spirits, he was an implacable foe of coarse jests or sordid occupations. As a boy he once struck with his fists a high-ranking official who had suggested dishonorable recreations; later, he returned with his friends to cast mud and stones at the man until he desisted from his wicked ways.

-At the age of 20 he sought entry into the Franciscans of the Strict Observance, otherwise known as the Friars Minor or "little brothers." At 24 he was ordained a priest.

-For the next twelve years we know little about his life, save that he spent his time in quiet prayer and meditation, as though in preparation for a great work. Around the age of 36, a sign came to him that he should commence a labor of preaching throughout the feud-riven and vice-laden land of Italy. He preached to audiences as large as 30,000. Bernardine passionately exhorted his listeners to thrust aside their rivalries and worldly corruptions in order to obey the demands of the Gospel of Christ, the one true message of peace and the one unfailing guarantee of happiness.

- As a result of his preaching families who had stolen one another's property freely returned what had been taken, exiles were called back from their dwellings, and political shields and signs were replaced by monograms of the Holy Name of Jesus.

-During his travels on foot through the various provinces of Italy, his preaching coalesced more and more around the Name of Jesus, the power, beauty, and holiness of which he eloquently expounded before rapt crowds. At the end of his sermons he would hold aloft a wooden board inscribed with the letters "IHS" surrounded by rays of light and plead with the people to embrace as their way of life this heavenly name and all it signified. (The monogram "IHS," which can still be seen in many Catholic churches and cathedrals, is an abbreviated form of the medieval spelling of the name of Our Lord, "IHESUS."1)

- Accused of heresy and denounced before Pope Martin V, Bernardine was ultimately vindicated and his opponents put to shame. He turned down three offers of bishoprics from the same pope, "saying playfully that all Italy was already his diocese".

-Vocations: When he turned fifty, Bernardine took up the office of Vicar General of the Friars Minor, a nobly conceived but struggling Franciscan reform movement. There is a fine lesson to be learned from the results of Bernardine's efforts: holiness and fervor produce vocations, not lax rules and easier standards. His branch of the Franciscans grew from about 200 when he first entered religious life to over 4000 by the time he died. As Vicar General, he founded or reformed 300 convents, sent off missionaries to the Orient, and established contacts in good will with the schismatic Greek Christians, whose ambassadors he later addressed in the Greek tongue at the Council of Florence.5

- We find the monogram as early as the eighth century, written on a Roman gold coin: "dn ihs chs rex regnantium" (Lord Jesus Christ, King of Kings). Later, the Jesuits construed "ihs" as an epigram meaning "Iesus Hominem Salvator" (Jesus the savior of men). Because it became customary to draw three nails in the shape of a v underneath the h, it was also said that "ihsv" stands for "In Hoc Signo Vinces" (in this sign you shall conquer), the words Emperor Constantine saw emblazoned in the heavens under the sign of the cross in the year 312.

- Bernardine was also responsible for encouraging his listeners to add the Name of Jesus to the Hail Mary: "and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus." From Italy where it first took root, the custom quickly spread throughout the Universal Church.

Written by:

Peter A. Kwasniewski is studying for a Doctorate in Philosophy at the Catholic University of America, concentrating on medieval philosophy.

The Holy Name of Jesus

January is the month dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus. The IHS are the two greek letters that begin and end the name of Jesus- IHESUS.

From the Catholic Encyclopedia on this feast:

We give honour to the Name of Jesus, not because we believe that there is any intrinsic power hidden in the letters composing it, but because the Name of Jesus reminds us of all the blessings we receive through our Holy Redeemer. To give thanks for these blessings we revere the Holy Name, as we honour the Passion of Christ by honouring His Cross (Colvenerius, "De festo SS. Nominis", ix). At the Holy Name of Jesus we uncover our heads, and we bend our knees; it is at the head of all our undertakings, as the Emperor Justinian says in his law-book: "In the Name of Our Lord Jesus we begin all our consultations". The Name of Jesus invoked with confidence

* brings help in bodily needs, according to the promise of Christ: "In my name They shall take up serpents; and if they shall drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them: they shall lay their hands upon the sick, and they shall recover". (Mark 16:17-18) In the Name of Jesus the Apostles gave strength to the lame (Acts 3:6; 9:34) and life to the dead (Acts 9:40).
* It gives consolation in spiritual trials. The Name of Jesus reminds the sinner of the prodigal son's father and of the Good Samaritan; it recalls to the just the suffering and death of the innocent Lamb of God.
* It protects us against Satan and his wiles, for the Devil fears the Name of Jesus, who has conquered him on the Cross.
* In the Name of Jesus we obtain every blessing and grace for time and eternity, for Christ has said: "If you ask the Father anything in my name he will give it you." (John 16:23) Therefore the Church concludes all her prayers by the words: "Through Our Lord Jesus Christ", etc.

So the word of St. Paul is fulfilled: "That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth" (Phil., ii, 10).

A special lover of the Holy Name was St. Bernard, who speaks of it in most glowing terms in many of his sermons. But the greatest promoters of this devotion were St. Bernardine of Siena and St. John Capistran. They carried with them on their missions in the turbulent cities of Italy a copy of the monogram of the Holy Name, surrounded by rays, painted on a wooden tablet, wherewith they blessed the sick and wrought great miracles. At the close of their sermons they exhibited this emblem to the faithful and asked them to prostrate themselves, to adore the Redeemer of mankind. They recommended their hearers to have the monogram of Jesus placed over the gates of their cities and above the doors of their dwelling (cf. Seeberger, "Key to the Spiritual Treasures", 1897, 102). Because the manner in which St. Bernardine preached this devotion was new, he was accused by his enemies, and brought before the tribunal of Pope Martin V. But St. John Capistran defended his master so successfully that the pope not only permitted the worship of the Holy Name, but also assisted at a procession in which the holy monogram was carried. The tablet used by St. Bernardine is venerated at Santa Maria in Ara Coeli at Rome.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Freedom or Slavery?

I was searching for a Saint's treatise on the Holy Name. Since it is the month dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus.


I found this.

I said to myself- "Don't!" But curiosity, the same that killed the cat, prevailed upon me to act. To click. And I found what I expected. Bold expressions about "the environment" and "social justice" (which in my mind has come to mean killing babies and sparing murderers)and I encountered the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. It is as painful to type as it is to read.

Mercifully, they do not address the liturgy. While I could let my imagination run wild, I will exert whatever self control I STILL HAVE and ignore that eventuality.

But what mostly struck me- well besides these pictures of the founderess:

Blessed Marie-Rose Durocher circa 1849...

And in Blessed Marie- Rose in 1993:

Was the disparity between promoting- "Liberation" for the Sisters of the Holy Names and "Enslavement". For the love of Mary, each heart becomes a slave.

To make your Total Consecration to Mary as proscribed St. Louis de Montfort, the "easy way" to salvation you can start here.


Oh No! Mr Bill!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Essential Flannery O'Connor

Since I read my first Flannery O'Connor story, I think it was "Everything That Rises Must Converge" I was hooked. Brilliant, devastating, insightful, and razor sharp describe her fiction, her personality, her wit. And I have not even gotten to her quotes. Born Mary Flannery O'Connor, she dropped the "Mary" when she began publishing because she thought that no one would want to read the tales of an old Irish washerwoman. Using Flannery certainly gave her instant mystique but even the tales of an old Irish washerwoman could not have been kept by prejudice from a faithful audience.

She died tragically young from Lupus at the age of 39. She raised peacocks and lived on her mother's farm. And she wrote.

A decided and unabashed Catholic some of her most famous quotes:

I write the way I do because (not though) I am a Catholic....I think that the Church is the only thing that is going to make the terrible world we are coming to endurable; the only thing that makes the Church endurable is that it is somehow the body of Christ and that on this we are fed. It seems to be a fact that we suffer as much from the Church as for it but if you believe in the Divinity of Christ, you have to cherish the world at the same time you struggle to endure it."

What people don't realize is how much religion costs. They think Faith is a big electric blanket when of course it is the cross.

And finally:

I am one of the laymen who resist the congregation yapping out the Mass in English & my reason besides neurotic fear of change, anxiety, and laziness is that I do not like the raw sound of the human voice in unison unless it is under the discipline of music...

A life lived too short, a lost talent the world mourns, a female William Faulkner, her convictions solidly loyal to the Faith. No one who writes fiction does not wish to be her.

This Italian website (badly translated) has some of the most beautiful pictures of Flannery including childhood pictures. Most often we see Flannery depicted as a dowdy, dire, matronly and joyless frump. Anyone who would depict her that way will never know the joy in life that lived by the truly sarcastic. She raised sarcasm to the level of an art. What Shakespeare was to the Tragedy, she was to the satire.

A Child Loved

I’m here in the bath with 16 month old Rebekah. Though it’s only 1:10pm she is in the bath. It’s a bit early for a bath I know but the rigors of the day require it already.

And I’m thinking about what makes a child feel loved. And of course it’s the little things and the big things. The little things like making them lunch with a smile and cleaning up the after effects with a grin, albeit a bit forced. Smiling at them while you change a diaper that if it were anyone else’s it would be dreadful. But this is your baby and you are happy to be the one to do it. In fact you wouldn’t dream of trying to pawn it off on your husband or a big brother or sister because that would be an unwillingness to love. And in mothers and fathers who are unwilling and let their reluctance be known I can’t help but think that realization goes right to a child’s soul.

And then among the big thins, there is the unwillingness to have another child. No matter whether it is your second or your tenth. That is a failure of love and an effort to put something lesser in front of life- your convenience, your comfort, your leisure, your figure, your bella sante, your career, even your other children. Or the fear of having a child with problems as you advance in age. Because goodness knows we don’t want to “tempt fate” and allow the possibility of something less than the perfect child. Well, bliss and perfection are not for this life anyway- only the next- if we can earn the gift of it freely given.

Two more profound moments in a child’s life- the moment they go to sleep whether for a nap or bedtime and the moment they wake up. Make sure the last words they hear you say are, “I love you. I’ll miss you.’ And the first when they awake, “I love you. I missed you.” Whenever I get the baby up from her nap I bring her into the room with the family and announce her grand presence- “Look who’s awake! It’s our baby!” Everyone oohs and ahhs and gives kisses and hugs and the imprint of the family’s love is made indelible on that little soul.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Friday, January 05, 2007

Have Matter, Need Form & Intent.

Thousands of Hindus bathe in the Ganges River to celebrate Ardh Kumbh Mela.

So close...

And yet so far...

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Monsters Among Us

We were driving past a field where some Scottish Highland cattle can be seen. There is an especially cute black calf much like this picture. I pointed them out to my children and Edmund (who is three)replied very solemnly,

"We have to shot that one."

I asked why and he replied.

"Him is a monster and him will eat us."

Then I realized he was probably thinking about this:

The Minotaur which we had just read in "The Children's Book of Heroes" edited by William J. Bennett.

Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House

...has proclaimed from on high:

"I am the most powerful woman in America."

Why? Because she is 3rd in line for the Presidency?





Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Talk is Cheap and so is Life

I heard a sermon once where the priest said that we have an ambivalent attitude toward children. On the one hand we indulge them and on the other hand we exploit them. How right he was.

The BBC has a new reality tv series where teenagers- 16-19 are given real, live babies to care for as an experiment.Then they are given a child under ten and finally a teenager.I suppose this exercise is necessary because the concept of brothers and sisters is so foreign to the Brits. And we're not much better.

From the article:

Local authority officials were so concerned about the 'very real risk' of physical and psychological damage to the children that they urged the BBC to cancel the series.

In one episode a ten-year-old goes without food for a day during what the BBC describes as a 'unique social experiment'.

On another occasion a baby had to be removed from the care of one couple as their relationship fell apart.

Relationship? What kind of a "relationship" do children aged 16-19 have anyway? Certainly it is devoid of commitment which is supposed to be the basis of a relationship. And why ever didn't law enforcement get involved and charge the parents and production company with child labor, or neglect or something?


Yet the corporation ignored formal protests, refused to allow social workers on the set to monitor filming, and has been accused of cynically putting babies and children at risk for the sake of entertainment. The BBC insists it has taken 'extraordinary' steps to ensure the safety of the children and claimed it had worked with one specialist charity to ensure the series was handled with 'sensitivity'.

You can almost guarantee that where there is self proclaimed sensitivity there is absolutely no common sense. It's the ying and the yang in that regard.

It features five teenage sets of 'parents' who are moved into a street of empty houses on the edge of Norwich.

After caring for their baby, the teenage couples are subsequently given a toddler to look after for three days, then a child under ten and finally a teenager. Up to 25 children - aged between six months and 14 years old - were used in the programme.

Used is definitely the word! The company has also produced "Gay Muslims" so obviously they are known for their serious and thoughtful documentaries.

What I wonder is whatever happened to the concept of babysitting? I suspect that with the birth dearth in Europe babies are so rare that some had to be scrounged up to give the teen "parents" a chance to get a good look at them. Why not put some babies in the zoo where anyone could watch them at anytime.

What can I say? Kinsey would be very proud.

Watching Your Credibility Plummet

This drives me crazy.

Reminds me a little bit of this. That was supposed to be in 1988 I think.

And we can't forget this.

IF, God was speaking to Pat Robertson, the first thing He would tell him is to convert to the True Faith.

And have you ever noticed how these prophecies are "proclaimed" a full nine months ahead of time. We don't hear about them the day before or the day of. That gives people (i.e. financial supporters) time to forget about the false prophecy, time for Robertson to apply it something else occuring at another time but still time for him to bring it up if God forbid there is a terrorist attack.