Saturday, January 26, 2008


Unceremoniously and without contrition, I have lifted the following from Andrew Cusack's blog. I think he summarizes the Holy Father's approach to the current problems succinctly.

While some Traditionalists continue to complain, belittle, begrudge, and bemoan every thing the Holy Father does (because it is never enough)! I find myself quite encouraged and optimistic and hopeful and almost at peace.

Now if we could only get our political situation sorted out!

It is heartening, then, though not at all surprising, to see throughout much of the world a certain reinvigoration in the Church, under the guidance of our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. Hearts once thought to be cold as stone have warmed, and fields which once produced only chaff have yielded wheat. From surprising quarters, we hear more and more good news, and the root cause is the unashamed and unabashed proclamation of the Gospel. Pope Benedict is not interested in scolding sinners, but rather in encouraging their repentance and bringing them closer to our Divine Saviour. First and foremost is our love of God, a love which grows stronger and deeper when we live in accordance with that love. Then there is our natural love for one another, which results in our zeal that our friends, family and loved ones should share in that wonderful love of God.

John Allen, the veteran Rome correspondent, has termed this Benedict's "affirmative orthodoxy":
By “affirmative orthodoxy,” I mean a tenacious defense of the core elements of classic Catholic doctrine, but presented in a relentlessly positive key. Benedict appears convinced that the gap between the faith and contemporary secular culture, which Paul VI called “the drama of our time,” has its roots in Europe dating from the Reformation, the Wars of Religion, and the Enlightenment, with a resulting tendency to see Christianity as a largely negative system of prohibitions and controls. In effect, Benedict's project is to reintroduce Christianity from the ground up, in terms of what it’s for rather than what it’s against.

Wherever this affirmative orthodoxy has been maintained, or reintroduced, it has borne fruit.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Will to Endure

My 17 year old daughter Anastasia wrote this essay as part of her application for the Honors Program at Loyola University.

I think she gets it.

The Will to Endure

“It’s sooo cold! I have to wear a sweater when I go to their house! Why does Mass have to be so early and why does Father have to give such a long sermon? Who cares if I swear? I have to express my anger. This bread is so stale! It must be a day old! I have to get home in time to watch the season finale! These are the trials of many Americans in the 21st Century of worldliness and luxury. We are pampered and expect the best of everything but without giving our best effort. The 21st Century philosophy is the philosophy of Self. It is all about Me and My feelings and what I want.

With God in Russia written by Fr. Walter Ciszek is an eye-opening autobiography that changed my way of viewing the world. Father Ciszek was a prisoner, tortured and starving. He spent 23 years behind the Iron Curtain as a prisoner-of-war but with the sacred powers of a priest. Father Ciszek’s spirit inspired and challenged me as I read his amazing story. His love for others overflowed into mine as he healed broken hearts and tortured minds. He heard confessions of numerous Russians who could have betrayed him. His life is an example of a magnificent will to endure.

Instead of curling up inside himself he reached out to those who could have harmed him. This priest wholly surrendered himself to God where others surrendered themselves to despair and vice. As the oldest of a big family I try to take control of everything but the seminarian Ciszek showed me how his domineering personality could be channeled to serve God. He made countless sacrifices in the prison camps. He did not despair or succumb to its horrors. No matter what situation Fr. Ciszek found himself in, he never complained and always had a positive attitude. He never blamed God for his trials. He taught me that my trials are nothing but trivial and superficial. Witnessing his patience during intense interrogations calmed my temper. He countered difficulties by hard work. He spoke to me by his example.

His book whispers directly to the heart from his prison cell in Russia all the way to the 21st century. When you start complaining about the cold, the vision of a young man with neither running water nor heat, in freezing barracks in Siberia comes to mind. As you find yourself dreading to go to Mass, you hear the whispered prayers of a priest who risked his life to offer the Mass. When you feel yourself slipping into sins of the world, you think of Fr. Ciszek who devoted his life for sinners. As you complain about bad cafeteria food, you imagine the taste of watery soup. When you complain about your flu, you hear the troubled breathing of a man with tuberculosis. As you find yourself questioning hard work and situations. “Remember, that God has a plan,” Fr. Ciszek whispers.

Work hard and put all your efforts into satisfying the needs of others because through them you will find Him. Father’s courage, ambition and endurance filled me with the enthusiasm to forget myself and aspire to become a doctor. His blatant unselfishness and charity towards others helped me find my vocation in life. It channeled my desire to help others and to accept every challenge. His extraordinary will to endure empowers my will to succeed, no matter the obstacles.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Car Shopping

We need to get another car to have my teenage daughter help me with some of the driving. We have 2 girls at one school and 3 boys at another. Sports, dance, social events and grocery shopping are wearing me and my car out. My gas guzzling SUV currently needs front brakes. (just a little grinding s'all). I'm sure there is still plenty of rotor left on there.

I thought we would hear something by word of mouth but if there's a car out there no one is talking about it. Now to me a teenage car means something between $25 to $500. So I went to Craig's list and what I didn't realize is how entertaining this was going to be. I was delighted to find something for $500 but was disappointed to find out it was a speaker.

Yes one speaker.

Next I saw this for the very reasonable price of $1100

And I'm sorry to say that my 17 year old daughter would like nothing better. Which is exactly why we won't be considering it. I blame it on too much country music.

This online shopping brought back happy memories of my first car. It was a Chevy Nova SS, pale green with a white vinyl top and a very feminine pair of white stripes that went down the side. The only defect was a good sized hole on the top left of the hood. I covered it with duct tape that I then painted to match the car. (It looked fabulous)I bought it for $150 and it always ran great. It looked something like this:

Then I saw this car and practicality set in. Why not buy THIS for the grownups and we'll give our daughters the old Honda. They WILL learn to drive standard. If they ever want to go anywhere that is. Coercion really is the very best teacher.

Looks like the ultimate date car to me!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Just Discovered...

...gardening expert Christopher Lloyd. According to experienced gardeners Mr. Lloyd has long been the standard of excellence. I checked out his book, "Meadow"

which is about creating meadows of wildflowers. The ones that looks so randomly and effortlessly grown. The ones that looks so hardy and self propagating. Self sufficient. Easy.

Well, after reading 182 pages I've learned that it is neither easy nor effortless and requires an awful lot of weedkiller and generally poor soil. Poor soil I have. Weedkiller I can get.

I enjoyed reading his prose and this quote about his harvesting of wild orchids with his mother was especially dear. (both because of the happy memories he has of gardening with his mother and because his actions so annoy the conservationists, so-called).

Conservationists might prefer me to keep quiet about my past in respect to wild orchids, but I prefer to be open about it. Their strange beauty has wide appeal. My mother and I adored them, no matter how small or insignificant. To love is to wish to own (until you have matured sufficiently to know better). We wanted those orchids in our own garden, predominantly in meadow areas.


With our local orchid species we have done fine at Dixter. My mother and I would sally forth with fern trowels and a large trug basket between us, in quest of our booty. We knew what to expect of their root system, which seldom goes deep, and we dug carefully so as to include not just roots but also the enveloping wadge of soil. If we could find the plants before they were flowering, so much the better, but this was not essential. There were at that time, in the 1920s and 1930s; no laws against this practice. In retrospect I have, apart from the inevitable and unnecesary wastage noted above, no regrets over what we did and achieved.
Mr Lloyd goes on to say that the local sources for the orchids have been destroyed and his was an "act of conservation".

This is our house. I hope to grow wild flowers along the front of the slope to the road. It's difficult to mow and of poor, dry soil. Maybe in a few years I will have some success to report.

So I went to google to find a source for wildflower seeds, for the ones I can't find locally because wild flowers means FREE, you know what I mean? And I was very excited to find the New England Wildflower Society and I thought why not become a member. It's so trendy, drive around with a cute little wildflower decal on my SUV, feel superior to those of my fellow commonwealth citizens who are NOT saving the wildflowers of New England. And then I saw that membership was 50 bucks! Whoa. I don't need those people. Snobs.

But if anyone happens to see this post and wants to give me a free membership, and a cute little decal,in honor of promoting the New England Wildflower Society I just may reconsider.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Illegal Immigrants: the saviors of American Catholicism

Have you ever heard this view expressed? Been criticized for opposing people who break the immigration laws in this country? The liberals tell us we are

1. racist
2. elitist
3. lacking compassion
4. cheap

because we are not overjoyed at more and more illegal immigrants crossing the Mexican-U.S. border to enjoy our standard of living at our growing expense. According to this article 56% of illegal immigrants are Mexican and an additional 22% are from other Latin American countries. This means that 78% of illegal immigrants are Hispanic.

But we never listen to the liberals anyway.

What gets me is when "Catholics" or "Conservatives" play the religion card. Opposing illegal immigration is really evidence of anti-Catholicism because Mexicans are such good, devout Catholics. They are so prolife. They are family oriented. They may be. I hope they are, but they are still here illegally and therefore are criminals and should return to their own country and apply to come here legally. (like my husband did). But he's a lawabiding citizen so I guess that makes him the exception.

I have long contended that while not condemning all illegals, the facts are that they bring a huge amount of drug trafficking, prostitution, gambling, promiscuity and illegitimate births with them. They are here criminally so what is to stop them from continuing in their illegal activity? Certainly not the law enforcement in this country. That is not even mentioning the diseases for which they are not screened or vaccinated again.

I have seen anecdotally the huge number of out of wedlock births- well there is an incentive- your child becomes an American citizen. What a great policy move that was! Talk about converting a child into a meal ticket! or passport!

But while reading an article about the beautiful and lovely tradition of the Quincera, a coming of age rite for Hispanic young ladies I saw this statistic:

Although teen pregnancy rates have generally been in decline across ethnic lines over the last 15 years, 51 percent of Hispanic teens get pregnant before age 20, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

Think of that for a moment- 51% of Hispanic teens become pregnant before the age of 20!

That's Catholic morality? Devout piety? It's cultural madness.

Random Thoughts on Politics

1. Did Obama win Iowa because Oprah endorsed him? And what does that say about us as a country?

2. Did Hillary win NH b/c she pretended to cry? bussed in out of state voters in the easiest state in which to conduct election fraud?

3. If Mike Huckabee is the only candidate who does not believe in the big 3 abortion exceptions (rape, incest, life of the mother) are we compelled to vote for him as Catholics?

4. Doesn't President George Bush seem especially quiet during primary season? Who could he possibly support? McCain has got to be his arch enemy. I think he gets along better with the Clintons. (which I have never understood)

5. Why isn't Romney Catholic? Winning?

6. Who is the anti-Christ? Barack Hussein Obama or Hillary Clinton?

7. Will Barack or Hillary be easier to beat?

8. If we don't vote for Barack will we be charged with racism? by Chris Matthews?

9. How can a candidate who has no charisma, no credibility, no campaign, no accomplishements, no integrity and no experience be this close to the presidency? A few crocodile tears? I could cry all day, real tears and not get to run for president.

10. Even more puzzling than the following that Hillary has, is that Bill Clinton is still not in jail.

Saturday, January 05, 2008


This is interesting. In Liverpool, England an exhibit about the Life of Anne Frank has been organized in an Anglican Church.

This quote:

Organizers hope using a church to house a replica of the room where Frank wrote her diary will convey a message of tolerance in a city afflicted by gang violence and crime. But Liverpool's Jewish schools have banned pupils from attending because the festival is being held in a Christian place of worship.
[emphasis mine]

Is ironic- is it not? In an effort to promote diversity, ecumenism, and in an effort to promote spiritual relativism, Christians have dedicated Church space to the memorialization of a Jewish victim of the Holocaust. In turn, Jewish schools will not let their children attend.

I actually applaud this action by the Jewish schools and their administrators. It shows that they understand that you do not teach children dogma by compromising it. You cannot pretend to support definitive truth and then condone what they believe is error.

Would that Christians and especially Catholics understood that you do not condone false sects by giving them "Church space" or any type of forum for their error.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Teenage Zombies: Video Games have Sucked the Life out of my Kids

Teenage Zombies
Video games have sucked the life out of my kids.

The Wallstreet Journal
Friday, January 4, 2008 12:01 a.m. EST

My new year's resolution is to get my two teenage sons back. They've been abducted--by the cult of Nintendo. I'm convinced that video games are Japan's stealth strategy to turn our kids' brains into silly putty as payback for dropping the big one on Hiroshima.

The trouble began last summer when my sons started spending virtually every unsupervised hour camped out in front of the computer screen engaged in multiplayer role games like World of Warcraft and Counterstrike. At the start of this craze, I wrote it off as merely a normal phase of adolescence. I was confident that, at 14 and 16, they would soon be more interested in chasing real-life girls than virtual video hoodlums.

Boy, was I wrong. Their compulsion became steadily more destructive. They grew increasingly withdrawn, walking around like the zombies from "Night of the Living Dead." Unless I pried them (forcibly) from the computer, they would spend five or six hours at a time absorbed in these online fantasy worlds. My wife tried to calm me down by observing that "at least they're not out having sex or doing drugs." But how would that be any worse?

Both are decent athletes, but their muscles began to atrophy right before our very eyes; their skin tone paled from lack of sunlight. Their idea of playing sports these days is inserting Madden football or the NBA slam-dunk game into our Xbox.

We recently considered purchasing the new Nintendo Wii, because at least its games--simulated bowling, snow boarding, guitar playing and motorcycling--require physical activity. Nintendo even advertises this product as good exercise for kids, and I have colleagues who swear that they get a great workout from Wii boxing and skiing. Alas, a new study from the British Health Journal suggest that Wii is no substitute for the real and vigorous outdoor exercise that adolescent boys need.

My wife and I aren't entirely inept parents--our 6-year-old seems fairly well-adjusted anyway. Back in October we established for the older boys strict screen-time limits. It was then that we discovered the true extent of their addiction. They ranted and raved and cursed and even threw things--almost as if demons had taken possession of them. These are classic withdrawal symptoms; they craved a fix. When we installed parental controls on the computer, our boys scoffed. It took them about 15 minutes to disable them. We've become so desperate that we may have to get rid of the computers entirely, though that may hamper their school work.

It turns out that we're not alone in our predicament. A parent down the street confided to us that his 12-year-old son was so obsessed with video games that he wouldn't take even a three-minute break from gaming to go to the bathroom--with unfortunate results. The other day we saw a kid at church, in a semi-trance, going down the aisle to Holy Communion while clicking on a hand-held Game Boy. Talk about worshiping a false god.

This summer the American Medical Association's annual conference debated a proposal to declare excessive video gaming a "formal disorder" in the category of other addictions like alcohol, drugs and gambling. One study released at the AMA conference found that many kids who spend a disproportionate amount of time playing games "achieve more control and success of their social relationships in the virtual reality realm than in real relationships."

I'm not one to blame every human frailty on some faddish psychiatric disorder. But I'm persuaded that computer games are the new crack cocaine. The testimonials from parents of online gamers are horrific: kids not taking showers, not eating or sleeping, falling behind in school. Some parents are forced to send their kids to therapeutic boarding schools, which charge up to $5,000 a month, to combat the gaming addiction.

The war lords of the gaming industry tout research on the positive attributes of gaming--and admittedly there are some. One study published this year in Psychological Science finds that gaming improves eyesight. A famous 2004 study by researchers at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York, found that video games improve manual dexterity and hand-eye coordination: "Doctors who spend at least 3 hours a week playing video games," the researchers reported, "made about 37% fewer mistakes in laproscopic surgery." Fine. I'll give my sons the joysticks back when they become orthopedic surgeons.

In the meantime, what is to be done? I'm not suggesting making the games illegal--we don't need a multibillion-dollar black market in video games. But I am pleading that parents take this social problem seriously and intervene, as my wife and I wish we had done much earlier.

November sales for the Xbox 360, Wii, PlayStation 3, and the games that go with them, were up a gaudy 52% over last year. In my neck of the woods, Wii's were such hot sellers that they weren't available in the stores at any price. I'm proud to report that we rejected our youngest son's pleas for a PlayStation for Christmas. He pouts that we're the meanest parents in the world. Someday he'll thank us. A mind really is a terrible thing to waste.

Mr. Moore is a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

St Genevieve

Found this really gorgeous picture. My favorite story about St. Genevieve was when she stopped Attila the Hun from sacking Paris. She met him at the gates and turned him back.

I just love the powerful saints. Spiritually and militarily.