The End of "K"

These are the last of the "K" Catholic blog listings, and my favorites.

"A Knight's Walk In the Kingdom" is one that I think is most like mine in style and viewpoint.  It is the blog of a dad, and it's at http://theophilus.stblogs.com/.  Check out his rosary for men.  This blog has a very masculine point of view, yet is quite appealing to me.

The next one is "Knit and Pray", and I wish this woman was my neighbor!  I can't knit, wish I could, and this homey, craftsy site makes me want to hang out with this lady!   It's at http://www.knitandpray.blogspot.com/.  I want one of her round blankets!!

"Knocking Everywhere" (http://knockingeverywhere.blogspot.com/) is the blog of a Catholic wife, mother and grandmother.  I don't think this is the focus of her blog, but she is currently undergoing chemotherapy.  It is a sweet slice of life with kids, dogs and faith.

I think the title of "Know Your Catholic Faith" says it all for this one.  It definitely has a catechetical slant, and is quite good:  nice short pieces full of info.  I don't like the black background, but I don't suppose that is either here or there.  You can find this at http://knowyourcatholicfaith.blogspot.com/.

http://www.korrektiv.org/ is "Korrectiv".  This blog is a group blog, and it shows.  There is a lot of fun stuff here, but no focus, and it sort of reads like an inside joke:  a bunch of friends talking to each other.  It's a little hard to figure out what some of this stuff means, and not feel like an insider.

"Kyrie Eleison" is another "dad blog" at http://kaiserfam.com/kyrieeleison/.  There is certainly a focus on contemporary issues here, but I would like to see more of the author's point of view and less cutting and pasting of stuff from other sources.

The last blog (I'm a little relieved) shares a name with the one above:  "Kyrie Eleison Me" at http://kyrieeleisonme.blogspot.com/, but that's where the comparison ends.  In the land of blogs, this one is really old - goes back to at least 2005.  It is the work of a woman who calls herself an "open minded Catholic", but I didn't see anything there that made me gasp in conservative horror. 

I hope you take the opportunity to look at some blogs you might not have otherwise seen.  I'm gonna keep poking around myself, but probably will only blog about the ones that really leap out at me.

Sacred Place of the Day

Our Lady of Knock, Ireland
Confessional Chapel

I wish I'd had this t-shirt when they were little.....

An actor I love to watch


John Malkovich

"A Priceless Heritage"

I don't know how Fr. Sirico managed to pack so much into this little article, but judge for yourself:  http://detnews.com/article/20100629/OPINION03/6290331/Don-t-devalue-Christian-heritage.

His point is that tolerance and freedom of religion (NOT the nouveau-freedom-of-worship the Obama Administration is shopping around in the press right now) is our inheritance from Christianity, and we shouldn't be so quick to reject this heritage.  We don't get things like sovereignty and personal rights from government;  we get them from  God.

Take a look at his short column, and see what you think.

More "K" blogs

"Kicking and Screaming" is the blog of Paulist seminarian Tom over at Busted Halo (http://www.bustedhalo.com/category/kickingandscreaming/).  Busted Halo is a great site in itself!  This is a terrific blog - witty, appealing and broad in scope.

"Kicking Over My Traces" is the blog of a commercial writer from CA.  This blog has a decidedly political, newsy bent.  It is certainly different from the raft of "Catholic-homeschooling-mom-blogs" that I've been seeing so much of.  The writing here is good, if a bit stiff (commercial writer?), but I'll certainly come back and take another look.  It's at  http://www.cehwiedel.com/blogs/traces/.

"Kingmancatholic" is the blog of St. Patrick Parish in Kingman, KS.  More of a newsletter than a blog, I can't see the wide appeal here.  It's found at http://stpatskingman.blogspot.com/.

Finally, today, there is "Knight of the White Cross" at http://tuitiofidei.blogspot.com/.  This is a Minnesota father whose blog is "dedicated to renewing the ideal of authentic Christian chivalry, defending the Catholic faith, and serving the sick and the poor."  This site has a more intellectual (dare I say "geeky"?) bent that I quite like.  Also, he's included that outrageously funny Bob Newhart clip I had here awhile back.  What's not to love?

Stupid Parents

It would be really nice if I didn't have to write this, but there are stupid parents out there.  It would appear that these people do not 'get' the concepts of good parenting.

DISCLAIMER:   I am not a perfect parent. I am well aware of this.  However, I am trying to work hard to get better, and keeping the end goal in mind:  raising faithful, responsible young men and women.  I am completely willing to take my lumps on this.

Here are two key parenting concepts that seem to be getting lost into our society:

1.  You have no (get that?  NONE!) RIGHT to be a parent.  You are not 'due' a kid, you aren't entitled to offspring.  Parenting is a privilege.  A kid is not a puppy, a trophy or a belonging.  A kid is a human, who deserves and needs certain things to be a good human.  A self-centered, needy parent ain't one of those things.
2.  If and when you get to be a parent, the whole thing stops being about YOU and starts being about the KID.  Whatever the kid needs is what the kid should get.  Kids need a mom and dad, a stable home, a faith life to stabilize them and the world around them, and rules.  Kids always come first.  What you want always comes second.  Maybe third.  Hey, you know what?  Your 'wants' may not even make the list.

Taking your 15 year old daughter for birth control pills because you don't want to worry about her does not constitute good parenting.  Allowing a man who is NOT your teen daughter's father to move into your home, making said daughter feel uncomfortable and unwelcome in the process, is not good parenting.   Leaving on a trip that you want to take and leaving your kids home unsupervised is not good parenting.  Living out your dreams by forcing your kid to do something like play a sport he doesn't like or compete in beauty pageants at the age of two is not good parenting.  (I wish I were making these things up.....) 

If we could get all the big people to start to work on these two concepts, the little people in our society would be doing a whole lot better.

Funniest Sport...EVER!

Ah, the ballet-like grace, the grueling hours of training, the suberb  physiques:  it all comes  together in one photogenic moment.

Take that, curling!  Move over, bowling!  Sumo is HOT!

'Kay? Some more "K" blogs.

I continue my intrepid travels into "K" Catholic blogs. 

"Keeping it Catholic" at http://keepingitcatholic.blogspot.com/ is the blog of Marianna, an American Catholic with a devotion to our Blessed Mother.  My first impression of this blog is that there is a LOT of stuff here, and it is a little hard to see the forest for the trees.  It also is a blog that really will appeal only to Catholics, and those with a good handle on Marian apparitions.

"Keeping up with the Smiths" (http://happycatholichome.blogspot.com/) is another Catholic homeschooling mom's site, addressing family and homeschooling issues.  Great, simple writing, great photos and an attractive site!!  (I really love honesty in blogs - the fact that she admits her enormous consumption of ice cream while pregnant is a plus for me.)

My third blog today is "The Kennedy Adventures!" at http://www.thekennedyadventures.com/ is a really beautiful blog featuring (yep, really!) another homeschooling family.  (One is beginning to wonder if there are any bloggers out there in Catholic land who don't homeschool....other than me....)  This mom is also a nurse, and enjoys cooking.  Nice site!

I was a little puzzled by the last site I visited called "Kepha" at http://kepharocks.blogspot.com/.  I'm not really sure who the author is (a priest?), and it is about an organization called "Kepha", that appears to be some sort of boys' or men's group (?).  If there was a clear explanation, it eluded me.

Sacred Place of the Day




Carved panels, Morrocan mosque

An actor I love to watch

Denzel Washington

Continuing Adventures in Blogland - the "K" Diaries

I'm still wandring through the "K"s of Blogland.

Today,  I visited  "Karlo M. Leonor" at http://karlomleonor.wordpress.com/.  (Clearly, some bloggers have trouble with names for their blogs.)  This blog is a bit grim looking;  I don't like the dirty gray background.  That being said, the photos here MORE than make up for it!  Karlo, an American college student, is obviously spending some time in Rome, and sharing the visual treats with his audience.  Check it out!

"Kathleen's Catholic" is next (http://karlomleonor.wordpress.com/), the blog of a Catholic homeschooling mom.   This is another visual treat.  However, Kathleen also has a lot of substance here as well, tackling issues like socialization and homeschooling (Really?  Why are people still talking about this?  Sigh...It's okay:  homeschooled kids are not socially inept.  Go back to worrying about something else) and male ordination.  I get the feeling from this that Kathleen and I would enjoy a cup of tea together.

Finally, today, another homeschooling mom:  "Keeper of the Keys" at http://www.partyof9.blogspot.com/.  Loved the Papal Shield birthday cake - now THAT is Catholic!  The Little Flowers tea party was precious.  Nothing earth-shattering here, but lovely snippets of a family trying to be the Domestic Church.

I'll check out more soon!

Could you explain this to me?

Why does Tallest Son find the concept of a loving, just, merciful and Incarnate God difficult to comprehend, but the person that is Lady Gaga seems to be completely natural to him?  (Just so you know, he's not a fan.  However, the popularity of this person doesn't seem to faze him at all.  It just seems "normal".)

I believe all thinking people have crises of faith.  We - no matter how deep and compelling our faith is - cry out,  "Are you real?  Where are you???" at various points in our life.  However, I have to admit that I've never really had a true period of doubt.  I have always simply known that God is real.  And not just real:  that He loves me, cares about me and for me, and is moving in the world today.  (And yes, I'm aware that is a gift from God, not any personal confession of great faith.)

I've certainly been angry at Him.  I've felt distanced from Him.  I've questioned His answers to my prayers.  But I've never doubted His existence.

I think that's why it is hard for me to communicate with Tallest Son sometimes.  We don't always occupy the same head space.  I also know that it is completely normal for kids to rebel against their parents in their teen years, especially in the teen years.  I remember - quite vividly - Dad being annoyed by Bruce Springsteen and U2.  It isn't always easy to have what my kids perceive to be hyper-religious parents.  We not only go to church, we go to church EVERY Sunday...and holy days...and days when we don't even have to.  And we LIKE it.  We are friends with NUNS, for crying out loud.  Can you imagine the pain my teenagers feel at this??

Well, I struggle to work this out with Tallest Son.  I hope Lady Gaga finds her way, too (she strikes me as a profoundly lonely person), but Tallest Son is my immediate concern.  I know that it is Son's free will, and the best I can do is not be an impediment to faith at this point.  My example has to be stellar...and I know that it's not.  Can I be a better example to him than some celebrity?  Is my faith up to it?  It has to be.

Comic Relief

As I'm poking around at Catholic blogs, I found this one:  "Bad Vestments" at  http://badvestments.blogspot.com/.  Gray skies are gonna clear up.....

mmmK...let's see what's out there Part II

I'm continuing on my search and research of Catholic blogs - at least those starting with the letter "K", for now.

First up today:  "Kansas Monks" at http://www.kansasmonks.org/.  This strikes me more as a website than a blog, as it is more "newsy" than strictly writing.  Loved the ordination photos.

Then, there is "Karen Edmiston:  the blog with the shockingly clever title", which made me laugh  - (http://www.karenedmisten.blogspot.com/.  I really like this one.  Heck, she quotes Robert Frost and has a picture of a Guinness on the first page;  what's not to love???

Finally today:  http://kareninmommyland.blogspot.com/ or "Karen's Adventures in Mommyland".  This is a cute site (maybe too cute?), with an obvious focus on mothering.  There are some crafts, book reviews and lots of sweet kiddo stuff.

If you like reading, writing and Catholic stuff, nose around in blog-land.  There's a lot of interesting stuff out there!!

Sacred Place of the Day

Korean Buddhist Temple

I confess.....

Okay, I have to confess.  I like fashion.  I like clothes. 

I know it's shallow and silly, but there it is.  I look at fashion mags, keep up on trends, and gaze wistfully into store windows.  (I'm way to cheap to shop at 99% of retail stores unless it's the clearance rack, thus the wistful gazing.)

This does NOTHING to enhance my spiritual life, though, and until my spiritual advisors tell me to knock it off, I'm going to keep looking at shiny magazine ads for outrageously priced shoes.  The great thing about fashion though, is that it is functional (ya gotta wear someTHING), and it is entirely wacky.  Check out these photos from the Milan 2010 shows for men's fashion:

This is a skirt.  For a guy.  Yeah.....










Leather capris.  Ya gotta be a lot of man to carry this off. 
I am trying to think if there are ANY circumstances under which I could talk Dear Husband into wear green short-shorts and a peach silk sports coat...together. 

mmmK...let's see what's out there

I'm still trying to figure out the world of blogging.  I like to look at what others are up to, and I'm REALLY trying to figure out how to get more people to read my blog, and other worthy blogs.

Catholic Blog Directory - http://catholicblogs.blogspot.com/# - is a handy list, and since there aren't too many in the "K" listings, I decided to take a look at 'em and share my findings here.  So, here's goes.

First up:  Kami Cinta Ritus Tridentina - http://www.tridentina.tk/.  Um, first thought?  "What the heck does this say?"  Apparently, it's in Indonesian, which I don't read.  However, there is a translator, and the blog is entitled,  "We love the Tridentine Rite".  The translator was being finicky the day I was visiting.  Maybe you'll have better luck.

Next is "Kansas Catholic - http://kansascatholic.blogspot.com/ - which appears to be a currently updated blog.  (I've noticed a lot of blogs don't get updated very much.)  From the blog:  "work of Catholic layman in Kansas, one who supports the Extraordinary Form and our good Pope Benedict XVI. This blog's motto? "Wolves eat sheep--help the Good Shepherd protect His flock."




It's a colorful and visually pleasing blog, although the type seems really big to me.  The photos of the Benedictines and their profession were lovely and plentiful.   The blog did seem light on text, and that's really what I like.  However, the photos are so compelling, I will probably visit again.

Sit down and listen!!



When my kids were little (and I had five kids under the age of five at one point),  my days were always rushed.  There were messes to clean, shoes to put on, owies to soothe, and other endless, minute tasks that needed my attention RIGHT NOW.  Bedtime was sweet relief.

Now, my kids go to bed far later than I do.  There are still messes to clean, but I badger them to do it.  The kids don't need my attention all the time, and frankly, would be happiest if I just left them alone.

I am getting ready to send Oldest Son off to college.  It struck me yesterday that he doesn't know enough to go to college.  Oh, I'm sure he'll manage academically.  It's just that I have a lot of stuff to teach him, and only a few short summer months to get that stuff into his head, make sure he hears me, and apply all my valuable lessons to his life.  I just want him to sit down and listen, and while he's at it, get his siblings to gather round and listen to me too.

In my saner moments, I realize this is not going to happen. And it probably (I'm not willing to concede more at this point in time, thank you) shouldn't happen.  He's going to have to figure some things out for himself.  Just like I did.  Just like most people do.  I did, and I'm glad I did.  I guess what I really want to do is save him the headaches and heartaches, the bumpy road, the "learning experiences" that leave one with....well, owies.  The kind of owies that Mom can't really soothe.  You have to deal with them yourself.

He's worried about money right now - how he's going to pay for books and things.  Quite frankly, he's much better off than  he knows, and far, far better off than his dad was.  I tell him it's going to be okay, and I believe that.  He doesn't.   I wish he'd just sit down and listen, but deep-down, I know he won't, can't and shouldn't. 

I guess the only satisfaction I'm gonna get out of this is, at some point, Oldest Son is going to have this same moment in his life, wanting his kid to sit down and listen, and he'll quietly, happily think,  "Mom was right."

Book Review: "Our Souls At Work"

I picked up this book at the Acton University last week.  It is an intriguing topic, and I was curious to see how it was handled.

The editor, Mark L. Russell,  states his purpose clearly in the foreword;  namely that every "worker need[s] to seem themselves at the frontline of what God is doing in the world."  Russell believes (rightly so, in my opinion) that our worship lives and our work lives should not be separate, regarless of what our jobs happen to be.

The book is a collection of thoughts from business people on various topics like leadership, balance, and success.  I wouldn't call them "essays", as most of them are quite short.  He draws from a wide variety of career paths, from attorneys to CEOs to human resources to photography.

There is where the "wide variety" ceases though.  I was disappointed that Russell did not include people from a variety of religious backgrounds;  his contibutors are all mainstream Christians, and (as far as I could tell), Protestant. 

His book doesn't address what happens in the work place when our faith collides with our job:  we have to hire someone we don't share beliefs with, our cubicle is next to a woman of totally different ethical views, or we are asked to do something we find immoral.  The book, overall, was a little too "fluffy" for me.

I would recommend it as a starting point for discussions, but it doesn't go deeper than the surface, and it isn't a very inclusive book in terms of diversity.

Sacred Place of the Day

Pha That Luang, Laos

Who makes better parents?

About two weeks ago, a study done by UCLA School of Law researchers received a lot of media attention. You can read more here: http://www.webmd.com/parenting/news/20100607/kids-of-lesbian-parents-are-well-adjusted

The researchers drew the conclusion that children of lesbian mothers were better adjusted than the children in more traditional families, and therefore, lesbians were better parents. However, the study is seriously flawed. The three biggest flaws?

1. The women who participated in the study volunteered. No other subjects were sought out.
2. There were only 78 children included in the study.
3. The women and children self-reported, and there was no checking by researchers on the self-reporting. If mom/kid said kid was doing great in school, so be it. No one set criteria for what "great" meant, nor did the researchers check with schools regarding grades, behavior, attendance, etc.

If you know the slightest bit about statistics and research, you know these are serious flaws.

The biggest question, to me, is this, "Do I want my scientific research straight-up, or do I want it with political agendas attached?" I prefer mine straight-up.

Dr. Jennifer Robach Morse does a much better analysis of this study than I could ever do, so I direct your attention to her: http://www.ruthblog.org/2010/06/11/%e2%80%9cchildren-of-lesbians-do-well-8-reasons-why-the-latest-study-doesnt-prove-anything/

Just a reminder!

If you like to check out this blog regularly, please become a follower!!

The most dangerous place



The most dangerous place for an African-American baby? In the mother's womb.


The astounding fact is that 50% (yeah, that right: 50%) of all pregnancies in the African-American community end in abortion.


Eugenicist Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, was quite clear on her goals:

"We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities. The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We don't want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population. and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members."

Margaret Sanger's December 19, 1939 letter to Dr. Clarence Gamble, 255 Adams Street, Milton, Massachusetts. Original source: Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, North Hampton, Massachusetts. Also described in Linda Gordon's Woman's Body, Woman's Right: A Social History of Birth Control in America. New York: Grossman Publishers, 1976.

If you are pro-abortion, is this the type of thinking you wish to align yourself with? Does Planned Parenthood offer "reproductive services", or are they based on truly horrifying, racist ideals?

As Bryan Kemper of StandTrue.com says, "Social justice begins in the womb."

Acton University Wrap-up and Return to Reality

Acton University 2010 is done, and I'm officially a graduate. I feel a bit like I do when I return from a great retreat: that "mountain top" experience, and then dealing with my day-to-day life again. The kitchen is dirty, I need to go grocery shopping, start a new job in a week and a half.....

Those of us who received Hansen Fellowships in order to attend AU were asked to think about three questions over the course of the week. The first was, "What inspired me the most?" Simple question, but no easy answer.

The privilege of hearing Immaculee speak was profound. Even though I've read her books, nothing compares to looking in her eyes as she delivers a humble and profound message of peace. Her statement, "If you have a choice between being right and being kind, be kind" will stick with me for a long time.

Having the opporunity to listen to and talk with people like Dr. Samuel Gregg, Michael Miller, and Jennifer Robach Morse was astounding. The information they shared with us regarding economics, demography, poverty, family and culture was fascinating, enlightening, prophetic and helpful. I cannot wait to share it and learn more.

One of the things that struck me the most was something I shared with Fr. Sirico over lunch yesterday. My academic background is in world religions. In that world, religion is great to study, but no sane, intelligent human would ever really practice religion. It's quaint and interesting, but not sensible or smart.

On the other hand, I've worked most of my life in church work and teaching. In this world, you have profoundly faithful people who aren't much interested in dialogue with people of other faiths, since they are clearly wrong. Academic work isn't terribly important.

Acton University gave me an opportunity to use "both sides of my brain", if you will: academic work and faith. It was exhilirating to share ideas with people of many different backgrounds and beliefs, and never having to feel like I needed to hide my brain or my faith. I think that is what stood out for me the most this week.

In the category of: "Really?....REALLY????"




The Vatican newspaper has declared that the movie, "The Blues Brothers", a "memorable....Catholic film".


Uh, okay....

Acton University, Day Three

I don't think I've ever attended a conference with such a diverse group of people. I've met people from all over the world: health care professionals, students, teachers, academics, business people, writers, bloggers, administrators, clergy, parents, retired, military officers, and it goes on.

My favorite line of the day was from a Latino man who spent 19 years living and working in East LA, doing ministry. He bought a house near his ministry center, right in the 'hood. When someon questioned why on earth he would choose to live there, he said, "Hey, Jesus did not commute from Heaven. He didn't hang out with the Apostles from 9 to 5 only during the week. I'm gonna live with the people I serve."

I spent a good part of my day listening to and talking with Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, an economist who has founded the Ruth Institute ( http://www.ruthinstitute.org/). If you had told me a couple of days ago that I would be so intrigued by an economist, I'd have laughed at you. However, much of my experience as a wife, mother and educator mirrors her life and work. Take a look at her website: "It takes a family to raise a village" is her intriguing tag-line, regarding her work on marriage and family.

On a more personal note, I found a bartender that could make a decent lemon drop martini. I had an absolutely foul one yesterday, and the one I had today restored my faith in the Grand Rapids' bartending community.

One more day of the University. I think I'll sleep all day on Saturday....

Acton University, Day Two


I wasn't aware that I had a cousin from Nigeria, but I do. His name is Etibo, and he's a seminarian studying in DC. We had a delightful dinner tonight.


How do I know he's my cousin? When I asked our waitress for hot water and tea, he said, "You don't drink coffee?"


"No," I replied. "I don't like coffee, just tea."


"Are you British?" he said, jokingly.


"No, Irish."


"Oh, in Nigeria, we were evangelized by the Irish. We say we are all a little Irish."


I then suggested we were likely cousins, and he agreed. Nothing like meeting family for the first time!


Today was four conferences for us "newbies" to Acton University - four lectures meant to get us up to speed on things like Christian anthropology, limited government and economic theory in a free and virtuous society. All four lectures were brilliant, and I think my brain is on overload!


Some of the questions we pondered, and questions we raised today:

1. Who is man?

2. Does the Christian answer to that question have impact beyond the realm of theology, and if so, what is that impact?

3. If utopian ideals have been proven over and over again to be impossible, why do they keep coming up? What is the Christian answer to these errors?

4. What does it mean to be "free"? What does the answer to this question mean to us as individuals, as family members, as citizens, as children of God?


And that was just the morning....


Our evening guest speaker was Immaculee. If you're not familiar with her, run out and get her book, "Left to Tell" and read it. I'll wait.


--------------


Okay, I'll assume you didn't read it...yet. Immaculee was a young Rwandan woman in 1994 when a civil war broke out in her country. Her entire family, with the exception of one brother, was killed. Immaculee survived by being hidden, with eight other women, in a 3'x4' bathroom.


For three months.


And you were ticked off this morning 'cause the guy at the coffee shop got your order wrong.


Immaculee gives a wonderful, awesome, beautiful story of forgiveness, mercy and prayer - a witness to the fact that no situation is so horrid and evil that God's grace cannot over come it. It was humbling.
My overall impressions of the day are that I learned a lot, and it was almost overwhelming. I'm still not sure what I'm supposed to do with all this knowledge.
Also, the Church truly IS universal: I have a "cousin" in Nigeria now, and I learned from a sister in Christ tonight that the worst we can imagine still cannot remove us from God's love and mercy.
I'll post again tomorrow!

Acton University, Day One

I have learned much in just a few short hours. First, I learned that over 800 people applied to attend Acton University this year; I was one of 396 selected. I am humbled. I hope this does not turn into humiliation, as I was clearly one of the dumber people in that banquet room....

Acton draws from many, many countries, so it is likely I will make many friends from all over the country and the world. My dinner partners tonight were charming, intelligent and fun!

Fr. Robert Sirico, a co-founder of the Acton Institute, is a charming and down-to-earth speaker, all the while talking about an abundance of high-falutin' ideas. I have come to understand that I have a few tasks over the next few days:

1. It is my job to sincerely and humbly "yield to the truth", even if it is uncomfortable.
2. "We do not need more power [in the world]; need more intelligence." How are we to bring this about?
3. "We [humans} are autonomous and also always in relationship." I must use these truths to reach out to others.

It is the last point that is closest to my heart, as it is a thought with deep Franciscan roots. I have my own relationship with God, but that relationship is rooted in the Catholic Church. And the Church is not a bureacracy of positions, levels and jobs, but the Body of Christ. Each of my children is an individual, but clearly, our relationship as "family" is key to who they are.

My Acton Institute experience is underway, and I'm very excited about all the opportunities that lay ahead the next few days! I will keep you posted!

Dealing with mental illness

From CNS News Briefs:

Webinar explores ways church can respond to mentally ill young people

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The best way church ministry leaders can help a young person struggling with mental illness is not to try to save them but to work to put them in a position where they can save themselves, said panelists at a June 10 Webinar sponsored by the National Catholic Partnership on Disability. Linea Johnson, a recent college graduate from Seattle who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and Robert McCarty, executive director of the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry in Washington, agreed that empowerment and communication are crucial in helping young people with mental illness find their way. "The bottom-line resource is the relationship you have formed with this young person," said McCarty, urging those who work with youths to practice "the ministry of wasting time" and to cultivate "the skill of creative loafing." Only that way will youth leaders find "opportunities to pick up what's really going on in a young person's life," he said.


Those with mental illness still suffer from much stigmatization in our society. For the most part, people don't cause their own illnesses, mental or physical, nor are they in control of how it occurs or manifests itself. It seems to me that many people are afraid of mental illness because it seems so uncontrollable, and people with mental illness seem out-of-control.

I have a front row seat on some pretty severe mental health issues, given the challenges some of my kids face. It is clear to us that their issues have been visited upon them, partly by genetics and partly by poor choices their birth mother made during her pregnancies. Not their fault, but they still have to deal with all of it.

One of my kids has a much bigger burden to bear: severe depression, oppositional behavior, possible bipolar. We tinker with meds, work at different therapies, pray and pray some more. What is NOT helpful is that some people tell us that we're just not tough enough on our kids - "a firm hand" would straighten them out. We even had a cop pull my husband aside once and tell him to "law down the law...with a fist if necessary." Mental health care via child abuse.

While I agree that my kids have always needed a clear sense of structure, they do not need to be hit. Striking them won't cure their illness, and no one would tell a parent whose kid is suffering from diabetes or leukemia to "law down the law". My kids do need compassion, understanding and empowerment, just as the article above suggests. They need to know they have a place in our Church and in our society, and that, most importantly, Christ is with them in their sorrows and in their joys.

Sacred Place of the Day


Binu shrine, Mali

Great stuff coming from Catholic Theological Society of America

http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1002467.htm

Because it's okay to hate Catholics

Catholics and Catholicism are at the receiving end of a great deal startling vituperation in contemporary America, although generally those responsible never think of themselves as bigots. - Philip Jenkins

Hyundai is airing a commercial, inspired by theWorld Cup and apparently a great deal of hatred for what we Catholics hold sacred. There are a number of offensive aspects to this ad, but the most egregious is people kneeling to receive "communion": slices of pizza.

Why is that, in our country, we tiptoe around the Islamic faith, but it is okay to denigrate the Catholic faith? Of course, our country has a long history of anti-Catholicism, but why is it that the cultural elite fail to acknowledge it as such?

It's not okay to be mean. It is not okay to put down someone else's religious beliefs. And it's not okay, just because it's the Catholics.

24 hours 'til Acton!

Loose lips, doncha know!

Saw this article on npr.com. Simple, yet solid advice!

http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2010/06/14/127829646/23-things-not-to-say-in-an-email


One search in particular targeted a bunch of words and phrases that anybody might use in an incriminating e-mail. They are:

stupid
huge mistake
big mistake
dumb
can’t believe
cannot believe
serious trouble
big trouble
unsalvageable
shocked
speechless
too late
uncomfortable
not comfortable
I don’t think we should
very sensitive
highly sensitive
very confidential
highly confidential
do not share this
don’t share this
between you and me
just between us

Oh, I wish!

I have, unfortunately, spent many, MANY hours with mental health professionals due to the nature of my kids' "special needs". A lot of those folks are terrific, helpful, well-educated and great at their job.

Many of them are nuts.

This is just a little homage to the sane ones.

Keep calm....


...and pray your Rosary.

Sacred Place of the Day

Hechal Yehuda Synagogue, Tel Aviv
This sums up my feelings about my new job....

Learning to let go


Curly-haired Daughter is learning to drive. She's doing fine, and has amassed enough drive time to show us that she is a cautious and thoughtful driver.

I still hate sitting in the passenger seat with her driving.

I know this drives her crazy, as I can usually let her drive there but then I have to take over and drive back. It's not that I don't trust her, it's just that I hate giving up control. It's all me, not her.

St. Ignatius of Loyola wrote a beautiful prayer of surrender:

"Take, O Lord, and receive my entire liberty, my memory, my understanding and my whole will. All that I am and all that I possess You have given me. I surrender it all to You to be disposed of according to Your will. Give me only Your love and Your grace; with these I will be rich enough, and will desire nothing more."

I have the hardest time praying this. It sticks in my throat like a glob of peanut butter, gagging me. I do not want to pray it. I say it, but I don't think I've ever truly meant it.

This is about pride, fundamentally: I know best. I can do better. You're just along for the ride. I'm not just talking about Curly-haired Daughter; I'm talking about God. And of course, this is ridiculous; there is not one thing in Heaven or on Earth that I can do better than God.

And yet, there it is. Hand over the driving duties, buddy. I'm taking over. What hubris!

Today, I'm going to try to pray this prayer. I'm going to try to mean it. And I'm going to let Curly-haired daughter drive both ways.

The Immaculate Heart of Mary

The heart of the Mother of our Divine Savior is a beautiful mirror in which her Beloved Son has depicted, reflected, and represented most excellently all the virtues that reign in his Sacred Heart... - St. John Eudes

The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

"Christians, Jesus gives us his Heart, and what does he ask for in return? He asks for ours...On one side the world claims its affections to make of our poor heart a living hell; on the other, Jesus desires ardently to take possession of it, in order to transform it even during this life into a paradise of delight." - Father Martin Berlioux

Tinkering....


I'm playing around with some new ideas for the blog. I hope you like the updates!
Here is where you come in: if you like to read my blog, please consider becoming a "follower" (it's easy and painless!) or leaving comments. This way, I know that I'm not just talking to myself here!

Yum!

I'm a good cook, but not so great a baker. Anyone want to make
and mail 'em to me??? Chocolate Mousse cupcakes - heaven on a plate!

Sacred Place of the Day

National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC

Geekazoid Alert!

http://www.acton.org/actonu/

Acton University 2010. Don't worry; you'll hear ALL about it....

I don't know.....



I am often amazed at the stuff I don't know; you could fill football stadiums with what I don't know. I don't know a damn thing about fly fishing, for instance, other than it involves fish. I still can't figure out how to score tennis. I know what Dear Husband's job title is, and sorta what he does, but I don't really know what his job entails. Physics remains something of a mystery to me.

And now I am making a radical, life-changing decision. I'm leaving a job I have loved nearly every moment I was there: I loved the kids and the staff, the stupid sophomore boys, the traditions and the creaky old building (except in the winter, with the wind coming off Lake Michigan....) I loved my classroom and the texts. I loved the laughter - sometimes with the kids and sometimes at them.

However, I knew it was time for a change, and an opportunity presented itself. I've prayed and talked. Asked for advice. Looked at it from every angle. Prayed some more. It really wasn't the decision I WANTED to make, but I know it was the right one. People who know me better than I know myself know this is right.

What I don't know is what it will bring to me. I don't know what people I'll meet, or what I can do to serve them. At this point, I might as well be fly-fishing. It is a radical leap of faith, and I don't know where it will take me: off a cliff or into a wonderful new place of faith, hope and love. But one thing I DO know: Christ has something to teach me in this new place, and I will learn.

Not an ugly teacher sweater but...

It is so special, I'll make an exception. In fact, I bet that girl in white grew up to be a teacher. From the hysterically funny Awkward Family Photos website.

One way, or another


As a teen, I thought it was down right weird that my mom and dad read the obituarities with an almost religious fervor. My dad, (har, har, har) said he had to make sure his name wasn't there.
Of course, now Dear Husband and I do the same thing, mostly looking for the elderly relatives of friends, the occasional person from church or work, and awfully, sometimes, a peer.
However, I have to admit a certain entertainment value to the obituaries. My favorite was one a number of years ago, the death notice of a man well into his 90s that read: "Joe Smith passed away unexpectedly". Really? How long was he planning on staying here? I figure at the age of 90 or so, you gotta expect death is going to be sooner rather than later.
Another source of humor for me is the photos, especially those people who haul out the pictures from a long-ago youth for the deceased who are comfortably into their senior citizen years. Like you're gonna recognize them? "Hey, I think this is Carl! Maybe....with hair..." I have threatened dear husband with eternal haunting should he use my high school senior picture for my obituary.
There was a notice today that told us the woman who had passed had "...jumped willingly into the arms of Jesus." Dear husband thought it sounded like a suicide, whereas I had a mental image of someone jumping off a cliff, yelling, "Catch me, Jesus!" Either way, it wasn't a very dignified death notice.
Now my kids thinks it is weird that I read the obituaries, and I'm okay with that. As long as I'm laughing, my name isn't on that page.

Art and the Bible


This website has a treasury of Biblical-based art, most of it classic. It also gives art suggestions for certain passages and images - for instance, if you're looking for an artistic rendering of the Prodigal Son.

I chose this one: Pieter Lastman's "Ruth declares her loyalty to Naomi."

Check it out: http://http://www.artbible.info/




Sacred Place of the Day


Shaker barn, Sabbathday Lake, Maine

I'm a failure

I had an interesting chat with a friend today (thanks, Mike). He said a young woman was going to be doing some youth ministry work and wanted some insight into that particular field of endeavor. His advice was terrific, I thought: "Be prepared to have your heart broken. Be prepared to fail...a lot."


I've been working in one form of ministry and/or religious education for my entire adult life. I am no stranger to the fact that most people do not share my enthusiasm for the Gospel, life in Christ and my truly geekazoid love of learning about world religions and sacred places. That does not dull the pain of realizing that classroom after classroom of students can't get over the fact that I go to Mass every Sunday. "Every Sunday????!!!" "Yeah...every Sunday."

Someone told me, not too long ago, that is was my job as a religion teacher to make sure that every kid that I taught became a practicing Catholic. Sorry; that is way too big a job for me. It was too big of a job for Jesus: many of His followers deserted him. (Read John 6.) I know that I'm just planting seeds, and I might, maybe, possibly have some influence on a kid's faith.

I told my friend that this idea of failure was why it was so important to read the lives of the saints. They were often quite glorious failures. Spectacular failures. I'm reading about St. Damien of Molokai. He couldn't do a damn thing right, according to many of his peers and superiors. He certainly couldn't deal with the lepers with any degree of success: he had no money, no medical supplies....heck, he often didn't even have enough food. All he could do was his best. All he could do was take care of the most obvious needs, and pray that God would make up for what he, a poor human, lacked.

Quite clearly, I am no saint. Therefore, I am going to fail. A lot. And all I can do is pray to God for what I lack. Thankfully, He is up to that task.

Oh, I can't deal with this....


Going "All In" With Jesus

One of the joys of being Catholic is that there is always new stuff to learn. And if you do run out of new stuff, there are plenty of new ...