Total Rip-off...Thursday?

 I shamelessly stole this from Matt Archbold over at the National Catholic Register:

Bloopers from church bulletins -

The Fasting & Prayer Conference includes meals..
The sermon this morning: Jesus Walks on the Water.
The sermon tonight: Searching for Jesus.
Ladies, don’t forget the rummage sale. It’s a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands.
Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our community. Smile at someone who is hard to love. Say ‘Hell’ to someone who doesn’t care much about you .
Don’t let worry kill you off - let the Church help .
Miss Charlene Mason sang ‘I will not pass this way again,’ giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.
For those of you who have children and don’t know it, we have a nursery downstairs .
Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the help they can get.
Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.
A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow..
At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be ‘What Is Hell?’ Come early and listen to our choir practice.
Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.
Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.
The church will host an evening of fine dining, super entertainment and gracious hostility.
Potluck supper Sunday at 5:00 PM - prayer and medication to follow.
The ladies of the Church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.
This evening at 7 PM there will be a hymn singing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.
Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10 AM . All ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the B. S. Is done.
The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the Congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday.
Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 PM . Please use the back door.
The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare’s Hamlet in the Church basement Friday at 7 PM . The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.
Weight Watchers will meet at 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church.
Please use large double door at the side entrance.
The Associate Minister unveiled the church’s new campaign slogan last Sunday:
” I Upped My Pledge - Up Yours.

Total Rip-off Tuesday

Wherein I "rip-off" another writer on the 'web.  Today's choice is the Anthony Bradley.  It's also a plug for his new book, Black and Tired, but the message is so compelling, that I'll bet you'll check it out on Amazon right after reading this!

Sing. You'll feel better.

These women certainly embody the ideal of the joy of suffering.  Life is not easy, but we can always sing.  Watch the YouTube clip;  it's great. 

A Milestone

A few years ago, this picture was an impossibility.

Tallest Son hated me.  He refused to let me go to his Confirmation.  He regularly, and with great great force and creativity, told me how evil I was.  His life was a great morass of misery, and I was the madame of it all.

There were a lot of reasons for his anger, but I assure you, I was not one of them.  My theory is this:  Mom is not going anywhere, so I'm gonna let her have it.  She is a safe target.

I shed a lot of tears over this.  It was very hurtful to be the target of so much undeserved anger.  I prayed a lot.  A lot.  A lot.  The prayer sustained me, and frankly, kept me from strangling him.  (There was also some wine involved.)

Slowly, things got better.  He developed more of a sense of humor, and a sense of perspective.  We started to laugh together.  We'd talk.  He'd read a book, and share what he thought.  I'd see a movie and ask his opinion.  And so, one day, we had a relationship that was not based on mutual disgust, but on love. We are not alike in many ways, but we enjoy each other's company now, and can be respectful in all the right places. 

And so it is, that one day, just a few weeks ago, I found myself sitting in an auditorium, watching a bunch of teenagers with mortar boards and tassels file in, and listening to Tallest Son give a graduation speech.  He talked about the lessons  he'd learned in high school - all pretty typical American stuff.  And then he thanked his parents, and gave me a rose.  Again, pretty typical stuff.

But to my heart, this was a milestone of joy and maturation.  What I once thought impossible is now a reality:  I'm very proud of him, and I'm glad to have him as my son.

Sacred Place of the Day

Church of St. John the Baptist, Mogno, Switzerland

Corpus Christi

From the Christian Science Monitor:  the faithful in Brasilia, Brazil make carpets for the feast day.

Can we talk?

It has seemed to me, for awhile now, that civil discourse has all but disappeared in our society.  The ability to hold reasoned discussion on differing viewpoints is now simply a matter of disintegrated arguments of "You're a bigot" or "You're going to hell". 

Without a doubt, one of the most difficult topics to broach is homosexuality, homosexuality activity and homosexual lifestyle.  I thought this article was one that lent itself to civil discourse, rather than tirade.

Our Mother

The Black Madonna of Einsiedeln, Switzerland
The abbey church at Einsiedeln is a majestic baroque edifice with elaborately decorated pastel ceilings, many marble side altars, and a large high altar in the east end. The interior is a typically baroque feast for the eyes, in gleaming white with elaborate gold and pastel decoration.
The most important part of the basilica is the Lady Chapel, near the entrance in the west end. The Lady Chapel is a free-standing, square marble edifice that recalls the shelter over Christ's tomb in Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It was destroyed in 1798 by French invaders and rebuilt in 1817. Above the chapel's altar is the Black Madonna, resplendent in rich robes and surrounded by gold clouds. Many services take place here each day.

Metropolitan Jonah...worthy of a read

From the Acton Institute blog:

So, now I'm a bigot?

As Anthony says in his post here, shoulda seen it comin'.....

America has become a place where civil discourse is replaced by, "If you don't agree with me, it's hate speech and you're a bigot."

"Raindrops Over Rwanda"

Stain glass in the exhibition at Kigali genocide memorial, it's pleasant to watch the colors and the art through it. But it's more useful to understand that this is a window of hope, climbing the steps leaving scars behind. Educate young people to make the truth of this hope. - From "Raindrops Over Rwanda".

Total Rip-off Tuesday

I enjoy the Christian Science Monitor;  they have good news stories and great photos.  My rip-off today is an interesting perspective on prayer and politics.

Where the Wild Things Are

At one point in my life, where the wild things are meant:  check the back yard to make sure everyone is still breathing.  Seriously, it was one of my kids' favorite stories, to the point that I used to be able to recite the entire book from memory.

Check out this website that pays tribute to the wonderful, imaginative story of Max and his furry, ferocious friends.

Sacred Place of the Day

The ruins at Ta Prohm, Angkor, Cambodia

My friend Sam

This is my friend, Sam.  He is three.  He likes Mickey Mouse, his siblings and having lots of activity going on around him.  He likes to be tickled, and scoots around in his walker like nobody's business.

Because he was born with Hallerman-Streiff, he has a lot of challenges, as does his family.  However, he is a happy guy, surrounded by siblings who love him.

Yesterday, I was hanging out with his family at an event, working with his mom on a project.  Now, Sam has a trach, and it needs to be suctioned out several times an hour.  It's a pretty simply procedure, and takes literally a few seconds.  His mom was busy, so I did it.  When she returned from what she was doing, I told her that I'd suctioned him.  Her reply was,  "Oh, you're on the team now!"  I laughed, and said,  "That's fine, but it wasn't a big deal."

She turned to me and said,  "Yes, it is.  Do you know how many people won't even look at him, let alone touch him?  The thought of suctioning his trach would just send them right over the edge."  She then told me that no one, NO ONE, in her husband's family has ever held Sam.

I just spent a week with some of the most intelligent, well-educated, successful people on the planet.  And then I got to spend Saturday with Sam.

The very first night of Acton University, this gathering of smart, gifted, amazing people, Fr. Robert Sirico reminded us that as we were pondering issues of religion, liberty and economics over the next few days, we MUST get this issue of the dignity of each human person right, otherwise, anything we build on a faulty foundation would be faulty.  Each and every human is made in the image and likeness of God, and our sense of society must be built on that, or we will fail.

That means my friend Sam is made in the image and likeness of God.  If our society fails to recognize that, we fail.  If I fail or you fail to recognize that, we fail.  My friend Sam, in his disability, has an important task to do:  to remind us that God is present among us, in even the most distressing disguises, and that his value and worth is not in what he can do (like write book and say really intelligent things), but in who he is:  God's amazing child.

From the Acton U. photo file

Cheryl, from Texas, works with homeless women and former prostitutes to learn job skills and get educated in order to provide for themselves and their children.
 Our hard-working interns at the t-shirt table the last night of A.U.
 Two of our presenters, Anielka Munkel and Victor Claar.  Anielka is a staff member at Acton, is our Projects Manager, and spoke on social entrepreneurship.  Victor is an economist;  you can read his blog here.
 My friend and co-worker, Mark Weber, being interviewed by Ave Maria radio's Al Kresta about his documentary, "Strong Bodies Fight."

Behind the scenes:  Stuart, one of our interns, down-loading audio for the Acton website.

Final thoughts on Acton U.

Though I'll be posting a few photos later on today, I wanted to give a few final thoughts about my first year at Acton University "from the inside".

First, everyone was so gracious and appreciative, and that was a joy to hear.  Although Acton's message reaches many, our staff is relatively small.  To host an event with over 600 participants from 70 countries is a massive undertaking, and to know that the hard work of our staff is so appreciated is gratifying.

Second, I am dumb, and ignorant.  I was constantly surrounded by people of great intelligence, courage, thoughtfulness, experience and grace.  It was both humbling and uplifting.  As it should be, the experience leaves me with desire to both know and do more, and to become a better person in the process.

Third, I am blessed.  I work with some of the most intelligent people I've ever met, but they are also a great deal of fun.  I laughed a lot these last few days, and in my book, that counts for a lot.

Finally, I had a blast.  From meal conversations, to meeting people from all over the world, to laughing with the tech guys, to teasing my never-on-time boss, to running around gathering people for interviews and then getting to hear some fabulous speakers:  it was a BLAST!.  I can't wait to do it again....after my feet recover a bit.

If you wish to hear any of the speakers, you can download MP3 of almost all of the talks on our website:  Check back again next week as we finish putting these up.

Because every life is sacred

My cousin Sean and his beautiful wife Melba recently welcomed a daughter, Avary, into their family.  Avary was with us outside the womb for a very short time, due to a congenital illness, but her life has been so impactful.  Please take a moment to watch this emotional, gentle and grace-filled photo album.

Sean and Melba have borne this suffering with such grace, courage and love.  They are an inspiration!

Day two of Acton U.

I haven't been the most faithful blogger, but boy, have I been having a blast at Acton University!  There are stories of pink pens, mad dashes with lecture notes, helping the lost be found, blisters on my feet, an offer by a priest for a gift certificate to get my boss' hair corn-rowed (my boss is the whitest guy in the world...) and other much other frivolity.  Add to that some amazing lectures on Edmund Burke, subsidiarity, poverty and the developing world, and meal conversations with everyone from a rabbi from Jerusalem to a economist-professor from the a small Midwestern college.

Tonight's speaker was His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah, an Orthodox bishop.  He was a lovely man, with a deeply moving message.  Some of the highlights:
- Going to work or school should not be compartmentalized from our spiritual life.  It should be an encounter with Christ, much the same as church is an encounter with Christ.
- The more we ignore God, the more dis-integrated we become, both as individuals and as a society.
- The consumerism we are embedded in is an addictive pattern of trying to console ourselves from God-lessness.
- We can't wear the cross of Jesus Christ and not expect to be crucified on it.

That last remark was worth the whole day for me.  And tomorrow, I get to go back there, and learn more, serve more and enjoy more.  I am blessed!

Starting Acton U. with a surprise and smiles

The adventure that is Acton University began today.  As a staff, today is a great day: everything we've been working towards for weeks comes to fruition, and all the names, faces and places come together.  It's a joy to meet so many people with open hearts and open minds, and a willingness to share with others.

Our dinner was superb, the company was great:  my dinner companions were all Catholic school teachers and administrators, whose heart for education was apparent.  After dinner, we enjoyed the remarks of Fr. Robert Sirico, who reminded us that without the foundational belief of the dignity of each human person, all human institutions will be flawed.  As illustration, he reminded us of the Dutch resistance of WWII, and the work of ordinary men and women to save their Jewish neighbors.   He referred to "Reckoning", a documentary of this resistance, and specifically the story of Diet and Heinz, a young couple who worked to save their fellow countrymen.  We watched a short clip of the film, with Diet remembering the work she was immersed in (Heinz did not survive the war). 

Fr. Sirico, after the clip was shown, reminded us that Diet's singular courage was a clear illustration of what he wanted us to know.  He said,  "I'd speak more about Diet, but I'd rather you hear from her yourself", and then Diet, now 91, took the stage with Fr. Sirico.  It was a pure Acton moment. 

When answering questions from the 600+ audience, she said that her one hope was that we all remember that what God teaches us through Christ is what we base our lives on: that we are to treat others as we wish to be treated, and that all men are our neighbors.  A simple message, but delivered from a woman who truly lived it.

What will tomorrow at Acton bring?

Sidewalk chalk and documentary film

My first official duty at Acton University was to create sidewalk chart art for our guests staying at local hotels to our conference venue.  Glamour:  it suits me.

Next up:  check out this article about a young man I work with whose documentary film is getting a lot of buzz.

More to come...

Acton University!!

This will be my life for the next four days!  I attended last year, and this year, will be on "the inside".  With 600 participants from 70 countries, I am sure I will have great things to blog about.

Oh, fer cryin' out loud.....

These women are deluded and illogical.  For the life of me, I can never figure out why they want so badly to play a role that Christ says is not for them, and the Church protects that.  There are a bajillion other ecclesial communities that will allow them to be ordained and minister.  Why not join them?

It's like bringing home an elephant and trying to beat it into being a golden retriever.  You bought an elephant - it's an elephant.  If you want a golden retriever, buy one of those.  You can't change one into the other, no matter how deluded you are.....

Feast of St. Anthony of Padua

"Two things the devils fears above all:  the fire of charity and the well-trodden path of humility...The poor of Jesus Christ, who are marked with the sign of his poverty as long as they are in this world, consider themselves pilgrims and exiled from the Lord and walk roughshod over the passing things of this world."

Sunday Snippets

It's always nice to visit other blogs, and nicer still to get invited by another blogger to share on their site.  "Sunday Snippets" has a great collection of writers to browse through!


Jesus Mafa

Come, Holy Spirit!

God is Light

God is the light
of the heavens and the earth.
The smile of God's light
is like a niche in which is a lamp,
the lamp in a globe of glass,
the globe of glass as if it were a shining star,
lit from a blessed olive tree
neither of the East nor of the West,
its light nearly luminous
even if fire did not touch it.
Light upon light!
God guides to this light
whomever God will:
and God gives people examples;
and God knows all things.

Qu'ran - 24:35 - al 'nuur - the light

All growed up

Being a parent is tough.  It's not just the middle-of-the-night bottle feedings, the pit-of-the-stomach fear as the teen takes the car for the first time, or the did-I-make-the-right-decision moments that come up all the time.  Part of being a parent is actually being tough:  saying "no" and sticking to it, standing up for what is right when everyone else is going in another direction, making your kid do the things he doesn't want to do and putting up with the nastiness.

Eldest Son is now at a point in his life where we can't really tell him what to do.  He's 19, out of the house and legally an adult.  And, as people at this point in their lives are wont to do, he is making some foolish choices.  These foolish choices may or may not end badly;  that's the problem with foolish choices.  However, Dear Husband and I had to have a chat with him this weekend and say,  "We can't tell you what to do, but we can tell you that we think you're making a mistake.  AND (here's the biggie), we don't have to support you.  That's means you're not getting any more money from us.  Your cell phone is cut off, and you're on your own.  We can't tell you what to do, but we don't have to subsidize stupidity."  Big boy choices = big boy responsibilities. 

Of course, he's fine with this, because he doesn't see anything wrong with the choices he's making.  Since both Dear Husband and I have been 19, we have the experience and knowledge to back up our tough decision.  Eldest Son thinks he's all growed up, and we know he's not.  It's one of the tough things about being a parent.  Tough or not, it's what parents have to do.

Adoption, being Catholic, and stupid legislation

The above link thoroughly and thoughtfully spells out many of the problems now facing Catholic social service agencies across the nation.  That is, many are being forced out of aiding adoptions due to legislation that has labeled Catholic agencies as biased. 

Catholic agencies are run by - here's a shocker - Catholic ideals, morals, values and guidelines.  According to this, they won't place children with homosexual couples, couples who are not married, and various other circumstances that we Catholics believe are less than ideal for a child.  However, Catholic agencies do NOT try to stop other agencies from facilitating these types of adoptions.  They simply offer the services for those whose faith, ideals and way of life "match" those of the Catholic Church.

They tend to offer these services at very low cost (the adoption of my kids cost us only court costs, about $150 bucks each).  They also offer adoption services and counseling for free or very modest fees for the birth parents as well. 

Why, oh why, are groups, including our own government, trying to stop this??  What is wrong with giving Catholics and other like-minded folks a place to go to seek out adoption plans and services?  We are not trying to stop other agencies from offering such services, but Catholic social service agencies are being put out of the adoption services business.

Why?  Pure and simple:  hatred for the Catholic Church.

Sacred Place of the Day

St. George's Cathedral, Aleppo, Syria


I suppose it was inevitable.  New job, still doing the old job, kid graduating, party to plan, dealing with the needs of my mentally-ill daughter, did I mention the new job?

Yeah, I'm feeling crummy.  The smart thing to do would be to crawl into bed and not surface for a day or two, but we all know how that is gonna go.

So, it's hot tea, throat lozenges and a drippy nose for now.  (And that little voice in the back of my head:   "Offer it up".)

That's how a Catholic gets sick.

D-Day, in color

As my friend Anthony reminded me over at The Impractical Catholic this morning, today is a day to remember.
Then, serendipitously, I found color photos of the events surrounding D-Day over at NPR.  The photos are quite striking - take a look!

A Baha'i Prayer

O God!
Refresh and gladden my spirit.
Purify my heart.
Illumine my powers.
I lay all my affairs in Thy hands.
Thou art my Guide and my Refuge.
I will no longer be sorrowful and grieved;
I will be a happy and joyful being.
O God! I will no longer be full of anxiety,
nor will I let trouble harass me.
I will not dwell on the unpleasant things of life.
O God! Thou art more friend to me than I am to myself.
I dedicate myself to Thee, O Lord.

Sacred Place of the Day

Ajanta Caves, India

What's the "+1"?

You may have  noticed a new addition to the blog; the new +1 button joins the existing Facebook and Twitter buttons at the top of posts.   +1 is a new initiative from Google that brings forth more relevant search results influenced by user feedback.  Here is a snippet from the official Google launch:
+1 is as simple on the rest of the web as it is on Google search. With a single click you can recommend that raincoat, news article or favorite sci-fi movie to friends, contacts and the rest of the world. The next time your connections search, they could see your +1’s directly in their search results, helping them find your recommendations when they’re most useful.
Since I now have the "+1" button you can recommend any blog post you wish using the new feature. 

Will the circle be unbroken?

Ages ago, my daddy and I were always the first ones up on Sunday mornings.  Dad, as a Marine, had an internal alarm clock set for 5:30 a.m., and I inherited that.  Anyway, a sweet memory I have is that Dad and I would be up on Sundays; he'd be drinking coffee and we'd be swapping newspaper sections, while we listened to WJR out of Detroit, and Renfro Valley.

Renfro Valley is still around, and it could be described as the little brother of the Ole Opry.  It was (and is) "ole-timey", down-home country music, mountain music with great harmonies, and the song,  "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" was a common one to hear.

Today, I got to spend the afternoon holding babies, chatting with nieces and nephews whose babies I was fawning over.  One of the babies got baptized, and we spent the afternoon enjoying food, drink and a glorious Michigan day, encircling my mom, who at 86 is now the Grand Dame of the family.  She mentioned that my brother, who is sixteen years old than I, was her best babysitter.  When my brother and his wife had a family, I would go and stay a few days to help with each new baby.  And when my oldest nephew was working to save money for grad school, he lived with me and my husband and lent a hand with our young family.  And the circle remains unbroken.

I cannot imagine the poverty of not having a family.  We are blessed with a large family, lots of little people to love and enjoy, lots of cousins to play with and lots of celebrations.  It is good to sit in the midst of that circle of family occasionally, realizing just how blessed we are, and realize that the Creator of all good things has endowed us with this: this cycle of love and life that ebbs and flows, lives and breathes, sometimes bumps and scrapes, and yet always remains....unbroken.

Sacred Place of the Day

The Baptistry at Saint-Jean, Poitiers.  It is thought to date from 360 A.D.

Uh, aren't you missing something?

The article is entitled "Protecting our bodies from hormone-disrupting chemicals:  a precautionary tale."  Creepy ads from the fifties talk about DDT and under-achieving ovaries, and the horrible results of adding this stuff into our food supply.

But the article never talks about the biggest hormone-disrupters of all:  artificial birth control!  Really?  You don't think this stuff has harmed our bodies, our water supply and the soil?  Get real!

Applying science to make a better family

Who doesn't want healthy kids?  Who doesn't want a "fit family", ready to tackle anything?  Before you answer, take a look at this article over at NPR.  Unsettling, to say the least.

Facebook for fish?

Friend me???
 The link above will take you to an article about a teacher who suggested to her college students that they create a "Fishbook" - a Facebook for fish.  Why?  These are her words:

(1) we could develop tools that allow us to actually communicate with animals directly (ideal, but a long way off) or (2) we could try to speak on their behalf.

We are, it seems, way behind in learning how to talk to the animals.

Now, the teacher part of my brain kind of likes this project.  It did require students to be creative and it was a fun project.  But then another part of my brain kicks in:  why?  Why do this?  Are we really going to be communicating with animals in this manner?  Does this help solve some problem we currently have with animals?  Uh....

See, this is one of those cases where a "scientist" is projecting human traits on an animal.  We (humans) communicate in a specific way and so should animals.  We humans are just too stupid to have figured out the animals' ways of communicating...yet.  It also suggests that animals have something to us, each other, other species, etc. 

Then, there is the hubris of "speaking on their behalf".  Don't get me wrong:  I love my animals.  I've always had dogs, and have come to recently love cats.  I take care of them and enjoy their company.  But I don't speak on their behalf, other than to tell the vet,  "I think his left hip is bothering him."  I don't tell the neighbor,  "My dog doesn't like your dog" or tell the meter-reader,  "My dog likes you better when you bring treats".  I might *imagine* I know what my pets are thinking, and I might make up fun tales for them to tell, and occasionally speak in silly voices on their behalf, but let's not confuse that with REALLY speaking for the animals.  As far as I know, my dogs only think a couple of things:  "I am hungry", "I want to go out/in", and "Scratch my back right above my tail". 

There are such bigger problems in our world.  I like the idea of stimulating young minds to think in new and different ways, but let's coach them to tackle real issues and real dilemmas.  My dog doesn't need a Facebook page.

Total Rip-off...Thursday?

I missed Total Rip-off Tuesday, this week, but that's okay, because this article was worth the wait.  It's one of the best I've read on the same-sex marriage debate.

Sacred Place of the Day

Dura Europos, Syria.  Fresco of Abraham from the 3rd century.

This cloud of witnesses

I have an unabashed love for the Communion of Saints, and here is a new one for me.  Perhaps for you as well:

"But Christ in me"

Loved this meditation from Fr. Gerald Vann, OP:

Of course we have to try to keep the commandments;  but the essential is to try to keep them in such a way that we learn to see more and more clearly our true Center, to keep our eyes more and more on on God and less and less on ourseslves, to say  " I live, now not I, but Christ lives in me. " There are, in fact, two opposite heresies here which we have to avoid:  the one says, If I do right, it doesn't matter what I am;  the other says, If I am right, it doesn't matter what I do.  We have to try to live in God, to be right;  but we learn to be right only through slowly and painfully trying to do right.....

More proof that God has a sense of humor

I have no idea why I find alpacas so amusing, but I do.

The Best Laid Plans...

About 20 years or so ago, I stopped giving up things for Lent. It's not that I didn't find it a worthy practice; I did. It's ...