Sexual Healing. But not Marvin Gaye.




I saw this over at Bryan Kemper's website and thought it was worth sharing.

Rules? I don't need no stinkin' rules!

I woke up on Sunday feeling quite grumpy;  no particular reason, just grumpy.  And I really didn't want to go to church either.

That's unusual for me.  I realize many people think church is a drag...a "why bother if I don't get anything out of it experience", but I like Mass.  It's the compass for my week - keeps me focused in the right direction.  But Sunday, I was just annoyed.

The hymns were annoying, the people were annoying - well, you get the idea.  I shoulda just stayed home, I thought.

So why didn't I?  What compelled me to go to an event that I didn't want to go to, that I didn't feel like participating in, and really, I "didn't get anything out of"?

I suppose you might say it was Catholic guilt.  It IS, gentle reader, a mortal sin (for my non-Catholic readers, that a biggie) to miss Mass on Sundays.  My mom always told us that the only reason we could miss Mass is if we were to sick to go to our dying mother's bedside, and when you think about it, you're never that sick.  In fact, the very first time I ever missed Mass in my life was when I was 14, had broken my arm severely, and was in the hospital.

So, I wasn't sick and had to go to Mass, was that it?  Otherwise, I'd just be a big ball of Catholic guilt, right?  No, that's not really it.  There is that rule, and I follow it, but there's a reason for the rule.

God enjoined His people with a few simple rules, and one of them was to keep the Sabbath holy.  Set it aside for rest and worship.  Clearly in our society we've lost our sense of both.  And I suppose the Jews weren't much better at it, at various points in their history, either.  And that's why God gave us the rule.

In His wisdom, He knows that we are going to wake up some Sundays just plain grumpy.  He knows that we're going to look around on Sunday afternoons and say,  "I've got to get these errands done.  I know it's Sunday, but...."  He knows that unless He gives us this rule we'd just go ahead and do those things:  avoid worship, work and just generally feed our own desires, ignoring our need to worship and rest.

I can't say that this Sunday's Mass was my best worship experience, but it was a worship experience.  Despite my feelings, I was still in the presence of Almighty God, I still received Christ in the Eucharist and I still heard God's Word.  I would have missed all that had I just stayed home and felt grumpy.  Following the rules doesn't have to be mindless, and it can actually be rewarding.

You will notice a new button: Catholic Adoption

There's a new button on my blog:  "Catholics Adopt".  If you follow the link, you'll find a new website.  This is an association of Catholic lay people who wish to offer support for all types of folks involved in adoption:  birth parents, adoptive parents, those experiencing infertility. 

We are not "experts" in a professional sense, but we are experts in that we've all lived through part of the adoption process.  We hope to grow and reach out, being a support to many.

Sacred Place of the Day

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA

Time to relax

Gonna take the long weekend for some fun and relaxation.  Talk to you next week!

I was born this way!

I got invited, via Facebook, to attend an "I was born this way" event.  I assume this was borne of the Lady Gaga album, and her invitation to understand that all people are to be accepted just the way they are.  I "think" this is mostly pointed at the acceptance of homosexuals but I'm not really sure.  I read the lyrics, and that seemed to be the general idea.  (Let's just say it wasn't Shakespeare....Perhaps it would have been more clear had I listened to the song?  Perhaps not.)

I don't agree with the "let's just accept everyone the way they are", though.

I mean, really, I'm selfish.  I can hold a grudge, and I can give a tongue-lashing like nobody's business.  It's my nature.  I was born that way.

I realize the concept isn't supposed to be an excuse for bad behavior, but of course, many, many people take it that way.  Watch reality tv:  people doing thoughtless, rude things to others, and proclaiming it is simply their nature, they can't help it, and other people are at fault for not accepting them the way they are.  Huh.  Where I come from, we call that "sin".

The purpose of life is not to simply shrug our shoulders, say "I was born this way" and blunder our way through our lives and the lives of others.  It is to make ourselves better and better the lives of everyone we meet.  How much love are we showing someone when we don't stop them and say,  "You are better than that.  You have potential and gifts and you're not using them.  I believe in you"?  Rather, Gaga would have us say,  "Hey, you're fine just the way you are.   Don't bother trying to change, 'cause it really doesn't matter to me or anyone else." 

"I was born this way" boils down to:  "I don't care".  I don't care about myself, and I don't care about you.  I don't care if either of us improves, changes or dares to make a difference.  Let's just sit here in our own shallow mess, and not care together, shall we?

Maybe I was born this way, but I sure don't want to remain this way.

Acton PowerBlog

A piece I wrote there:  http://blog.acton.org/archives/23587-muslim-women-and-entrepreneurship.html

A bit of beauty




I find you, Lord, in all things and in all
my fellow creatures, pulsing with your life;
as a tiny seed you sleep in what is small
and in the vast you vastly yield yourself.

 Rainer Marie Rilke

Sacred Place of the Day

Cenotaphs of Isaac and Rebeccah, Tombs of the Patriarchs, Hebron

"Cenotaphs" is a word used interchangeably with "tombs".  It is not believed that Isaac and Rebeccah are buried here though;  these are simply memorials.

The Tragedy

Pablo Picasso
I love this enigmatic picture.  I don't know what the tragedy is, but the painting makes me want to know.

Total Rip-off Tuesday

Wherein I "rip-off" another writer on the web.  Today's somber choice is about sex trafficking:

http://www.zenit.org/article-32622?l=english

Pray

Pray.  There is a lot to that.

I'm working at a new job, with a lot of new tasks, and it can be a little overwhelming.  The type of overwhelming where you look up at the clock, and realize it's 4 p.m. and you haven't eaten or gone to the bathroom in way too long. 

Anyway, my new boss reminded me today that prayer is the most important part of our day.  He's working on re-prioritizing some things in his life, and wanted me to see the ideas he had to do that.  Written in bold letter across the center of the paper:  "prayer and sacraments".  I needed to see that.

Sometimes it is easy to think that this project or that chore is so important that everything else has to be put aside.  The one thing we cannot put aside is prayer.  We need prayer more than we need water, air and food. 

Prayer reconnects us to God on the most intimate level.  You know how they call the best food "soul food"?  There's a reason for that!  It feeds us and comforts us and makes us feel loved and satisfied. 

This picture of Bl. John Paul II is what that I've contemplated.  He is praying so HARD.  He's locked in on one thing:  God.  I don't know how long he was in this prayer, but in this moment, it's just him and God.  I don't know that I've ever achieved that, but I'm sure going to try.

Pray. 

Raising one's heart and mind to God

Isn't that what good religious architecture is supposed to do?  I found these photos and a great story over at St. Conleth's blog;  beautiful church!

24th Wedding Anniversary

Tomorrow, Dear Husband and I get to celebrate 24 wonderful years of marriage.  I hope our story together ends something like this one.

Sacred Place of the Day

Chapel of the Transfiguration, Grand Teton National Park

Sisters

Sisters (Irving Berlin, 1954)

Sisters, sisters

There were never such devoted sisters,
Never had to have a chaperone, No sir,
I'm there to keep my eye on her
Caring, sharing
Every little thing that we are wearing
When a certain gentleman arrived from Rome
She wore the dress, and I stayed home
All kinds of weather, we stick together
The same in the rain or sun
Two different faces, but in tight places
We think and we act as one
Those who've seen us
Know that not a thing could come between us
Many men have tried to split us up, but no one can
Lord help the mister who comes between me and my sister
And Lord help the sister, who comes between me and my man
Sister and me and John
I know deep inside your heart that you will feel the best intention
Sister you will know
You understand that in the far I'll always be you, the men will come and go
All kinds of weather, we stick together
The same in the rain or sun
Two different faces, but in tight places
We think and we act as one
Those who've seen us
Know that not a thing could come between us
Many men have tried to split us up, but no one can
Lord help the mister who comes between me and my sister
And Lord help the sister, who comes between me and my man



As I've mentioned before, I'm a sucker for song-and-dance, and my favorite Christmas movie is "White Christmas".  I especially love this scene, "Sisters".  The costumes are gorgeous and the sentiment - zing!


You could not possibly, if you tried, find three different sisters than in  my family (kinda like Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby).  I know a lot of people would say it is because two of us are adopted, but we were all raised in the same house, so there has to BE something similar going on, right?  Hmmm.


We had all the familiar sisterly squabbles growing up, but we also really grew apart for a long time.  Part of that is just the busy-ness of life, but part of it was by choice.  Now, we are making the choice to grow together.  The funny thing is, I'm not sure that much has changed:  we are all still three really different people.  However, I think we are kinder and gentler with each other.  We've been through more, each of us as individuals, and are more empathetic to each other's choices, dilemmas, struggles and worries.


That all sounds very somber, and it shouldn't.  We laugh and enjoy each other.  We make it a priority to see each other.  We poke fun at each other. 


There is a sentimental saying:  "Chance made us sisters, but our hearts made us friends."  I suppose because of the adoption, that is true, but I don't like the idea of chance.  I think God made us both sisters, and we've chosen to be friends.

Here I sit.

No end of the world for me.  Guess the weeding and laundry will have to get done....

It's all gonna end...

Yup, that's right:  the world is ending this weekend, May 21.  Simcha Fischer wrote a hilarious piece over at the National Catholic Register, and I'd like to follow up.

Due to the world ending this weekend:

I will not be doing laundry.

To heck with it:  I'm polishing off that bottle of chocolate vodka tonight.  So what if I'm late to work tomorrow?  What are they gonna do, fire me?  (hilarity, hilarity, hilarity)

Carb-fest!!

No treadmill for me tonight.

So, how will you be celebrating the end of the world??

Should churches get out of the marriage business?

I thought this was a really interesting article regarding civil unions vs. church marriages.  I believe that a lot less people would want a "church" wedding.  What do you think?

Sacred Place of the Day

Faisel Mosque, Islamabad, Pakistan

ExCUUUUSE me??

From USA TodayThe scandal comes at a time when the former California governor is seeking to resurrect his acting career, And, a made-for-the-movies affair is just the thing to get people talking again about an aging action star, says branding expert Amy Tunick.



"The story is salacious and brings him back to the public eye. It almost makes him a sex symbol," Tunick says.

"IT ALMOST MAKES HIM A SEX SYMBOL"????  What on God's green earth are you talking about lady???  He's destroyed his 25 year marriage, brought painful, public revelations heaping down on his wife and four kids, committed a mortal sin, brought a kid into the world that he has not been able to properly acknowledge, let alone parent, and IT ALMOST MAKES HIM A SEX SYMBOL?????

You, lady, are an idiot.  The same type of idiot that Mr. Schwarzenegger is:  someone who has no moral compass, and has confused fame with goodness.  Ms. Tunick:  stick that in your "branding expert" pipe and smoke it, along with whatever else you've got in there.

A laugh....

From over at Linen on the Hedgerow.

Total rip-off Tuesday

I've been listening to Bruce Springsteen's "Nebraska" album a lot lately.  It's a spare and haunting piece of art.  Today my "rip-off" is his song, "My Father's House":


Last night I dreamed that I was a child out where the pines grow wild and tall


I was trying to make it home through the forest before the darkness falls


I heard the wind rustling through the trees and ghostly voices rose from the fields


I ran with my heart pounding down that broken path


With the devil snappin' at my heels


I broke through the trees, and there in the night


My father's house stood shining hard and bright the branches and brambles tore my clothes and scratched my arms


But I ran till I fell, shaking in his arms


I awoke and I imagined the hard things that pulled us apart


Will never again, sir, tear us from each other's hearts


I got dressed, and to that house I did ride from out on the road, I could see its windows shining in light


I walked up the steps and stood on the porch a woman I didn't recognize came and spoke to me through a chained door


I told her my story, and who I'd come for


She said "I'm sorry, son, but no one by that name lives here anymore"


My father's house shines hard and bright it stands like a beacon calling me in the night


Calling and calling, so cold and alone


Shining 'cross this dark highway where our sins lie unatoned.


Copyright © Bruce Springsteen (ASCAP)

So, what do you think about mental illness?

I've been doing some writing on this topic.  I'm preparing to speak at a conference for religious educators on this - specifically, as a mom to a mentally ill child.  It seems that mental illness is one of the few stigmatized things we just don't dare (or want) to discuss in our society.

Come on, you've been at dinner parties or backyard barbecues where someone has brought up the topic of cancer, or a diagnosis of diabetes or heart disease.  But when was the last time you had a discussion with someone about a loved one being diagnosed with bipolar or an anxiety disorder?  We still talk about people being hospitalized for depression in hushed tones.  Why?  Because we still have the impression that mental illness is somehow "controllable" by the individual, and that the mentally ill are crazy, unpredictable people - too abnormal to left alone with children and pets.

Here's what I'd like - as a mom to a mentally ill child:
  • Ask me how she is.  If she had leukemia, you'd surely ask.
  • Ask where she is.  My daughter is sometimes gone from church, our family, etc. for stretches of time for treatment, hospitalization, etc.  She doesn't just disappear and we're not hiding her.
  • If you invite our family, assume she will come.
  • Engage her in conversation.  She's sweet and funny, kind and loving.  You'll enjoy talking to her, and she will enjoy talking to you.  Yes, I know she can look a little off-putting - she likes to pull her hood up over her head.  She does this because she's often extremely uncomfortable in social situations.  She thinks you won't like her, so she puts up a barrier.  You'd talk to that person in the wheelchair, wouldn't you?  Don't let her disability be a barrier to getting to know her.
  • Learn about mental illness.  It's not as scary when you have knowledge.
  • Know that mental illness is just like any other physical illness, except that it is brain-based.  A person cannot "get over it" by a force of will.  It generally takes therapy, which may or may not involve medication, and on-going treatment.  A person cannot wish depression away anymore than a person could wish away cancer, diabetes, or Alzheimer's.
  • My other children do not suffer the same mental illness as their sister, but they often suffer because of it.  They have been stigmatized by others, and embarassed by her behavior.  Take it easy on them.
  • Yes, it is stressful.  Dear Husband and I have been called away from work, lost a lot of money because of her behavior, invested a lot of money in her treatment and dealt with much stressful behavior.  There are no spaghetti benefits at our church, no friends holding fund-raisers and no "Make A Wish" grants for mental illness.  Remember that. 
So, what do you think of mental illness, and more importantly, those who suffer from it?

Glad Tidings!

I can now officially announce my new job, which will be at the Acton Institute, as media logistics coordinator.  (It sounds impressive, but I believe the biggest part of my duties will be to keep my extremely-busy boss from losing his mind.  Thankfully, I have a profound skill set in that area.)

I'm excited about the work at Acton, and thrilled that I'm going to have a role in advancing their ideals of religion and personal liberty.  Watch for the launch of the PovertyCure website soon, as well!

Bad assumptions, bad science, bad conclusions

It bothers me when people make dumb assumptions, and then write dumb things based on those assumptions.  It bothers me even more when those people disguise the assumptions and writing as authoritative, scientific and end-game.

There is an online journal called Solutions that has some creative things to say about sustainability.  I like some of them, and some of them are thought-provoking.  Some of these are wrong.  Just plain wrong.

Take this article for example.  It purports that our world cannot sustain an endlessly growing population (wrong), that the key to keeping birth rates down is making sure all women use artificial birth control (wrong) and religious opposition to artificial birth control is damning us to overpopulation (wrong). 

Why is it this type of article always targets developing countries?  You'll notice the photo of a women "surrounded by a crowd of children" in India.  I guess the author wants us to assume either that "crowds of children" are a bad thing, or that this lone woman has produced this crowd of children. 

Look, I think pregnancies should be intended.  I think children should be wanted and cared for.  However, the Catholic Church is not the enemy (as this article suggests).  In fact, the Church is quite clear that women should be educated about how their bodies work, how to safely space pregnancies naturally, and that children are not a "problem" to be avoided.

Take a look at this thoughtful, balanced site from Overpopulation is a myth.com.  Before you start buying into "aargh  - overpopulation is gonna kill us all", read some more balanced views.  Don't base your opinions on bad assumptions, bad science and bad conclusions.

Sacred Place of the Day

Good Shepherd mosaic, Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, Ravenna, Italy

This cannot be said enough:

Another way that you love your enemy is this:

When the opportunity presents itself for you to defeat your enemy,

that is the time which you must not do it.
There will come a time, in many instances,
when the person who hates you most,
the person who has misused you most,
the person who has gossiped about you most,
the person who has spread false rumors about you most,
there will come a time when
you will have an opportunity to defeat that person.
It might be in terms of a recommendation for a job;
it might be in terms of helping that person
to make some move in life.
That's the time you must do it.
That is the meaning of love.

In the final analysis,

love is not this sentimental something that we talk about.
It's not merely an emotional something.
Love is creative, understanding goodwill for all men.
It is the refusal to defeat any individual.
When you rise to the level of love, of its great beauty and power,
you seek only to defeat evil systems.
Individuals who happen to be caught up in that system, you love,
but you seek to defeat the system.


loving your enemies - martin luther king jr. - 1957

My name is Elise and...

I was a big fan of the Lawrence Welk Show.

Could there possibly be an un-cooler admission in the world?  And yet, it's true - and admitting a problem is the first step, doncha know?

What brought this on?  The "Champagne Lady", Norma Zimmer passed away this week, at the age of 89.  She was a lovely and gracious woman, by all accounts, graced by a sweet, formal soprano.

I used to watch the show every Saturday night with Dad, and later, with Dad and Grandma.  I'm a sucker for song and dance, although if you've never seen the Lawrence Welk show - don't think "Glee", think "Mickey Mouse Club" meets the senior center.   (And, just so you know, an alum of the Mickey Mouse Club starred on the Lawrence Welk show.  Kinda sick that I know that, huh?)

I even got a bio of Lawrence Welk for a birthday.  Isn't it amazing that I can admit that?  I've done a lot of work...therapy...self-actualization.

Oh, well.  I enjoyed it, I loved watching it with my dad, and it was a sweet, unpretentious show, that really did feature some folks with talent.

My very favorite viewing moment was this:  Grandma (watching the African-American tap dancer):  "He's the only colored man on this show."  Dad:  "They are all colored.  He's just black."

I have issues.

Blogging issues, to be specific.  Blogger is giving me a hard time.  However, I shall persevere and share brilliant ideas with you this weekend.