"When you are an adult..."

Before you ask: yes, this is real.
My children, as with most teens and young adults, want very much to make all their own decisions, with complete independence (aka meddling) of Dear Husband and myself. They dream of a world where they can do whatever they wish, whenever they wish, and the parents that have gotten them this far in life would simply nod quietly in the background, muttering, "As you wish."

Ha.

We have had, over the course of the past few years, about 8,344,203 discussions about tattoos and piercings in our house. Popular culture what it is, these things look quite attractive to young people to whom the word "permanent" seems to mean "until I'm tired of it".

Whenever these discussions come up (as one just did), our response to the child in question is, "You can do whatever you want when you are an adult." Said child this weekend responded with, "Well, now I'm 18!" as if that meant a damn thing.

No, dear. Let me clarify: "An adult means you are on your own, paying all your own bills, taking care of yourself and any dependents. You are financially independent and a constructive, helpful part of society. THAT is an adult. Until then, you're all mine, kid."

As you might imagine, this does not go over well. Those of us over the age of...well, 18...remember what life seems like at 18. We know exactly what is right for us, and we know that anyone "old" is working from an out-dated paradigm that just doesn't fit anymore. Can you imagine?

Actually, I can. That's why I'm telling you this, kid: "When you're an adult, you can do what you want."

Degenerative Disc Disease, or how to scare yourself silly doing Google research

I have degenerative disc disease. In my neck. That's not a good thing.

I've actually had symptoms for a few years, but they were so mild, I didn't think much of them. I just thought I was spending too much time on the computer, or sitting oddly.


Then things got a bit more rough. You know, it sort of gets your attention when you can't feel your fingers. At first, it seemed like a pinched nerve, but that wasn't it. I got sent off to a pain clinic, and have been through several bouts of steroid shots. They've helped a bit, but not enough. On my last trip, I was told I was a "candidate for surgery" (wait, I didn't even know I was running for that office!). Thursday, I go in to "discuss my options". Goody.


I know I'm getting older and this s*%^ happens. I get that I have a tremendous hereditary disposition for arthritis. I get that. Unfortunately, I've had major surgery before, and I also get what a horrid, awful, terrible experience it is. As much as my neck hurts (and I'm in a pretty decent amount of pain every day), I dread surgery.


It's wholly human to dread pain. No healthy person seeks it out. I'm always amazed at the martyrs who seem so brave in the face of suffering. I know that they must have been terrified, but they find such comfort in Christ. I think about Miguel Pro shouting, "Vivo Christo Rey" as the volley of gun shots bore down on him. A witness to Edith Stein being led to the gas chamber heard her say, "Whatever happens, I am prepared for everything. Jesus is also here with us".

 
I am well aware that surgery is not martyrdom, but it's still really scary. I'm trying to bolster my courage and take hope in all those who have faced far greater pain and suffering with true fortitude and grace. There is a great cloud of witnesses to bear me up, and in that, I take courage.

Total Rip-off Tuesday: John Zmirak

Wherein I rip-off another writer on the web. Not taking credit, just sharing good stuff.

Today's choice is a guest blog post from John Zmirak in the in the National Catholic Register:



...ultimately this really isn’t a battle over birth control, natural law or even religion, it’s about what America means: At heart of our Constitutional democracy is the freedom of individuals, even those with unpopular opinions, to pursue the good as they choose—and their right to form groups outside the government and push back against its policies. That’s why we have Amish communities, Catholic schools, associations of kosher butchers, hippie home-schools, gun clubs, organic farms… and all the other free institutions that build up our “ordered liberty.” Take all that away, quash every organization that displeases the federal government, and what you have is a country full of naked individuals, shivering in every wind that blows from Washington, D.C.
We must make other Americans feel the chilling effect an Obama victory would have on their own freedom. Sometime before Election Day, I beg each one of you to say something like this to some neighbor who doesn’t care a fig about contraception:
“Should any institution, anywhere in society, be allowed to resist public opinion?  Or should the federal government step in and make it conform? Do you want to live in a free, diverse America, or one where the state co-opts and crushes civil society, and steam-rollers over the consciences of minorities? Is there some issue—any issue—where you disagree with the federal government, the NY Times, or NPR? Well if the Feds get away with doing this, you can kiss your rights goodbye. You’re next, my friend.”

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/john-zmirak/first-they-came-for-the-catholics#ixzz2Amo2B35E

Prayer request

Our family is planning a fundraiser soon to help pay for bills from Dark-Haired Daughter's assault earlier this year. We have some legal and medical bills that must get paid.

Please pray that we have a BIG turnout and a successful fundraiser.  Thanks!!

Modern Art Monday

Icon: Holy Russian Passion Bearers, artist unknown

Rape and Abortion

Yet another politician has gotten himself into dangerous territory over the topic of abortion and rape, this time Republican Richard Mourdock

“I know there are some who disagree, and I respect their point of view, but I believe that life begins at conception,” Mourdock said at a debate with Democratic opponent Rep. Joe Donnelly and libertarian Andrew Horning. “The only exception I have to have an abortion is in that case of the life of the mother.”

Mourdock added: “I just struggled with it myself for a long time but I came to realize: Life is that gift from God that I think even if life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”
Oh, vey.

I *think* I know what he meant to say, but he said what he said. Do I think that God intends violent acts to be visited upon people? No. Do I think an innocent child should die because of that act? No.

I don't really know the circumstances surrounding my children's conception (in case you're new here, my five kids are all adopted, same birth mom). Given her lifestyle, it is very likely that at least one of them is the conception of rape, and it would have been very easy for the birth mom to choose abortion. For whatever reasons, she didn't choose abortion for these five children.

And I am glad.

I don't believe that God intends rape. But I believe that God intended for each of my children to be. Where does that put me on this scale? Not sure. But I know that I have five incredible people in my life, ones I cannot imagine life without.

Tallest Son's take on the debate last night

Barry O: Here's what I've done and been doing
Rommy: Here's what I'm going to do and all of your wildest dreams will come true and here's a puppy.

Total Rip-Off Tuesday: Caryll Houselander

Wherein I "rip-off" another writer. Not taking credit, just sharing good stuff. Today's choice, the incomparable Caryll Houselander:

Stop trying to think out a solution for the moment: there isn't one. One day there may be: God will then show it to you. In the meantime, accept it all as BEING the big thing for God and his Church that he asks of you - that, and the depression too. You will find the relief of merely accepting, instead of struggling, wonderful; and I include in this,  accepting anything in yourself, during the crisis, which seems to you a falture or fault. Don't EXONERATE yourself, but just say you are sorry, briefly, to God, and add that your name is dirt - that's what is to be expected from you - but you're sorry, you are forgiven, and it is over.

During the war I was simply terrified by air raids, and it was my lot to be in every one that happened in London - sometimes on the roofs of these flats, somtimes in the hospital...I tried to build up my courage by reason and prayer, etc. Then one day I realized quite suddenly: As long as I try not to be afraid I shall be worse, and I shall show it one day and break; what God is asking of me, to do for suffering humanity, is to BE afraid, to accept it and put up with it, as one has to put up with pain (if it's not druggable) or anything else. I am not going to get out of ANY of the suffering. From the time the siren goes until the All Clear, I am going to be simply frightened stiff, and that's what I've got to do for the world - offer THAT to God, because it is THAT and nothing else which he asks of me.

What it means to be rich in what matters to God

In the matter of
God's goodness
we have got to be
irrational.
This is the way it is
with love, for instance,
and with any other
deep down, visceral persuasion.
We go beyond reason,
we do not trust
appearances.
All surface indications
to the contrary
we have got to believe that
God is good,
unfailingly good to us.
Even in the thick
of troublies,
in moments of
dire tragedy,
calamity,
disaster,
God is being good.
This is illogical,
it is nonsense
but it is true.
His goodness
is never one whit diminished,
obscured
or blunted.

- Monsignor James Turro

Bi-weekly catechism moaning

It's clear that after two classes with my darling 7th graders (and I mean that: they are great kids), that by and large, they are un-churched. They don't know a darn thing about their Faith or really Christianity in general.

I gave each of them a card last night with a name or phrase on it; for instance, one kid got "Cain" and one kid got "Abel". They had to find their "match" and tell me two things they knew about them. Out of 14 kids, 4 managed to do it. "Daniel" and "Lion's Den"? Never heard of it. "Matthew, Mark" and "Luke, John"? Uh....

So.

I'm trying to remind myself that I don't have to - and cannot possibly - teach them everything. I have to teach them what I can teach them in the time that we have together. But I better be on my game, and I am praying furiously for guidance from the Holy Spirit.

We've got a lot of work to do.

Modern Art Monday

Batllo Crucifix, Barcelona

Three Good Things Thursday

1. Youngest Son is working on a mural at his school and is quite enthusiastic about it. Since he's been struggling with depression, this enthusiasm is most welcome!

2. Dear Husband gets to make a retreat this weekend. It's been a long time since he's done this for himself, and it will be a much-needed respite.

3. We just found out that one of the people working with Dark-Haired Daughter is a lady who's worked with her in the past, and is beloved by our family. We couldn't be happier that she's back in our circle of care!

What are three good things in your life today?

Planned Parenthood targets minorities

From Protecting Black Life: 2010 Census results reveal that Planned Parenthood is targeting minority neighborhoods. 79% of its surgical abortion facilities are located within walking distance of African American or Hispanic/Latino neighborhoods. 

Take a look at this interactive map that reveals just how Planned Parenthood plants its abortion clinics.

Momtastic or Momtrocious?

Momtastic: Brings home pizza for dinner
Momtrocious: Makes you clean up the kitchen and take out the garbage afterwards

Momtastic: Blocks off an entire Saturday for prom dress shopping
Momtrocious: Won't let you get the cut-down-to-there, slit-up-to-here one you REALLY, REALLY want

Momtastic: Buys you a cell phone
Momtrocious: Activates the GPS so she knows where you are all the time

Momtastic: Lets you go to that homecoming party
Momtrocious: Calls the parents ahead of time to make sure they'll be home, chaperoning

Momtastic: Makes cinnamon rolls for breakfast on Saturday
Momtrocious: Actually expects you to get out of bed and do chores on Saturday

Momtastic: Says "yes" to new clothes
Momtrocious: The clothes have to come from Goodwill

Momtastic: Tells you:  "go ask your dad"
Momtrocious: Already knows what dad is going to say

Momtastic: Gives you $10 for the week for allowance
Momtrocious: Won't give you any more for doing extra chores, whining, complaining, etc.

Momtastic: Says, "You can do whatever you want when you're an adult"
Momtrocious: Reminds you that "adult" means living on your own, paying all your own bills

Momtastic: Finally let's you drive the car by yourself
Momtrocious: The only places you're allowed to go are the grocery store and to pick up your little brother

Momtastic: Gets you all the supplies you need for the big biology presentation and lets you use the dining room table for three days
Momtrocious: Won't bring it to school for you when you forget it

Momtastic: Makes you go to church to save your soul
Momtrocious: Makes you go to church to save your soul

Oh, boy! Boy, oh, boy.....

I've got three sons. I have no idea how their minds work.

It can be tough being a mom to boys. I know how girls work: I am one. I know that we like to snuggle in bed, watch a mindless movie and chatter. We pick out nail polish. We fight over clothes - what's modest, what's mine. I know that a pint of chocolate ice cream can fix just about anything. I get all that.

Boys. Huh.

I'm having a tough time with Youngest Son right now. He's struggling with a lot of stuff, some of it really big. He's always been sort of the strong, silent type, but now he's blowing off steam in unhealthy ways. Of course, I am a favorite target.

Raising teens in today's world is not for the faint-of-heart. Raising teens with special needs, mental health issues and genetic disadvantages requires the faith of Mary, the courage of Aragorn, the endurance of a triathlete, and the beer of Guinness.

I'm at the point now where I'd *like* to give up. I won't - there's too much riding on it. But I'd sure like to say to this kid, "Look, I've done this four times now. I know the game, the rules and the outcome. Submit now." But it doesn't work like that. Each kid has to figure it out for themselves. Each kid has a different gift, skill, grace and joy that has to surface, be recognized and honed. Youngest Son isn't there yet - he isn't supposed to be. Right now, he's at the stage of being obnoxious.

Tallest Son is a precious boy, stubborn, sweet, compassionate, angry, silent. He is a gift. We'll get through this.

But it might take more beer.

Total Rip-off Tuesday: Hubris: "We can do this better than Jesus!"

It never ceases to amaze: a group of people who decide that they can found a church better than the one Jesus did, yet purport to be his followers:
...it’s part of a new independent Catholic movement, the American National Catholic Church, and bills itself as a home for "Contemporary Catholics."
 Founded in 2009 by a bishop and a group of priests seeking a more inclusive religious experience but not ready to leave the Catholic tradition completely, the ANCC aims to follow the spirit of reform established by the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).
While the sacraments and many fundamental beliefs remain identical to those of Roman Catholicism, the ANCC presents a more progressive version of Catholicism: divorced members can take Communion, women and gays can be ordained, and priests can marry.
Mass is conducted in the "Novus Ordo" liturgy that was widely practiced in Catholic parishes until last year, when revamped -- some say clunky -- language was introduced by the Vatican. The movement follows a “congregational model” of governance, which means that parishes make decisions largely independent of the national group. And no church leader -- including the pope -- is viewed as superior.
Here's what these folks need to know: stop calling yourselves "Catholics". Whether you know it or not, you're now Protestants. Own it.

Down for the count, and making it count.

A friend of mind just had to have eye surgery, which turned out to be a bit more extensive than was originally thought necessary. Now, she has to lay on her right side for 7 days while the surgery takes hold. Yup, 7 days in bed, on her side. She can get up for bathroom breaks. That's it.

Ugh.

I went to visit her yesterday and she was in pretty good spirits. I mentioned to her that now she had plenty of time to pray, and she replied, "If I can muster prayers for anyone besides myself." I don't blame her; I'd be praying for patience to rain down on me like a hailstorm. My poor family would probably be praying the same.

It's easy, when we're in the midst of pain or a crisis, to forget that it's an excellent time to pray, and not just to pray, but to pray for others, and to offer up our suffering for the sake of others. So many people are hurt, angry, lonely, depressed, scared, mired in sin.....and have no one to pray for them. Others we know carry tremendous burdens and often say very little to others about it.

Try this. The next time you know that suffering is in your future (you have to have painful surgery, a trip to the dentist which scares you, a nerve-wracking presentation to make), tell our Good Heavenly Father AHEAD OF TIME that you'll be offering all of this up. In the midst of the incident, we may forget, but God never does. Don't let suffering be wasted; offer it up for others.

"Passion and joy"? Now, that's malarkey!

Vice President Joe Biden's repeated laughter during Thursday's debate was a reflection of the "enormous amount of passion and joy" he brings to the job of serving the American people, White House press secretary Jay Carney said on Friday.
Biden has drawn criticism for cracking up when Paul Ryan was talking about everything from Medicare to tax cuts to Iran's quest for a nuclear weapon.
"The person I saw up there last night is somebody who is absolutely passionate about fighting for and defending the middle class... and who comes to his job -- this many years in to serving his country in the Senate and now to the White House -- with an enormous amount of passion and joy," Carney said.



No, the man is just an idiot.

Friday Fun


Three Good Things Thursday

1. It's Thursday already! How did that happen? This week is flying by.

2. Lunch with a girlfriend today - time to be savored!

3. Dark-haired Daughter has completed her therapy and treatment and is moving home on Friday. Whoo-hoo!

What are three good things in YOUR life today?

Walking with Christ

I spent the last two days weighted down with a migraine. I've only had two that were so bad I had to go to the doctor for pain and nausea shots - yesterday was one of those.

It would be nice if our walk with Christ was simply the type of walk the Apostles must have enjoyed day-to-day: chatting, learning, asking questions and soaking up His Presence. They must have joked around, laughed, been puzzled and pushed to the limits of their understanding, but all in all, it must have been good to just BE with Him.

Until it wasn't.

Then it got hard. They heard Him say He'd suffer and die. He'd have to give His life, his own flesh and blood. They couldn't stay awake. They ran away. They watched from afar as He was tortured for hours and finally killed. Their walk with Christ seemingly ended with fright, betrayal, loss.

It's like this for us too. When things are going well for us, it's nice to walk with Christ. We say our prayers, we go to Mass, we study Scripture and we feel good about our relationship with Him. We might ponder or puzzle of certain things, be touched by the trials and tribulations of others, but we walk with Him nicely, being content in our faith.

And then something comes along and knocks us, as my mother says, "galley-west". Off track. Sometimes so far off track that we can't even see the track anymore. We're completely disoriented. Like having a migraine so bad it hurts to move your head. You literally can't see straight. And Christ seems not to be a companion on the journey anymore, but just Someone you once knew.

 I think of Mary and how she must have suffered every step of the way with her Son. Her walk with Christ began at the moment of His conception and never ended. She held His hand as He toddled along, kissed a bruised knee, worried over Him when He wasn't where He was supposed to be, stood by and watched Him whipped and finally crucified. The horror in her heart must have been enormous. Her walk with Christ, though, never wavered. She was truly faithful.

When we are suffering, it is so difficult to see Christ as our companion. In fact, sometimes (due to Satan), Christ can even seem to be adversarial: "Why are You doing this to me? Why are you making everything so hard and hopeless?" As with a migraine, our sight gets rattled, out of focus.

Paul says, "...for we walk by faith, not by sight...", and we must. We see things, we experience things, we misunderstand and misinterpret. We lose sight of Christ and think our faith must be gone too. It hurts, and we want to just curl up and ignore the whole situation. But, like the migraine, ignoring it doesn't make it better. We have to reach out and seek help, or we remain lost in our own pain, and our walk with Christ ends with our choosing to leave when things are at their most painful.

Total Rip-Off Tuesday: "It's a Girl!"

I typically quote another writer on the web for this post, but I wanted to share something a bit different today. I don't know if you're aware of it, but many countries in the world are in the midst of what is called the "daughter deficit". Couples, for cultural reasons, prefer boys, and will often abort female babies and even kill daughters after birth.

There is a new film project called "It's a Girl!" that addresses this issue. I'll warn you, the trailer is a bit tough to watch, but knowledge is power.




Tales of Woe from the Catechetical Front

I have a feeling this may be an on-going series throughout the year. Friday night, a friend of mine called, rather distraught. She's a really good religion teacher, has years of experience teaching religion in Catholic high schools, and truly loves the Old Testament. She's incredibly frustrated that she now has to teach (to high school freshmen, mind you) the entire Old and New Testament in ONE SEMESTER. Impossible. But that's the standard.

I have volunteered to teach 7th grade catechism this year at a local church. We are covering prayer and the sacraments. We meet every other week for two hours. Yeah.

First class last night: I tried my darndest to get the kids to come up with the story of Moses when talking about the idea of "covenant". "What did God ask Moses to do?" Silence. "It had something to do with the number 10....?" Silence. I finally dragged it out of them.

Later in the class, I wanted to have them look up something in the book of Psalms. In the class of 14 kids, NOT ONE knew how to find the book of Psalms, how to figure out chapter and verse, that the book was in the Old Testament (what's that??).

Sigh.

I know that these kids must have been taught some of this stuff previously and it just hasn't stuck for one reason or another. I also know that a lot of these kids don't attend Mass with any regularity, so talking about sacraments is going to be a tough one. (The last Baptism some of them "witnessed" was their own...)

It isn't supposed to be this way. As educators, our job is to reinforce what is being joyfully lived and taught at home. We are supposed to help the kids dig deeper into Scripture and the faith and help them love it. Instead, we're caught up in hardcore curriculums, deadlines on what is being taught and when, and kids who literally have no idea what we're talking about.

Woe.

Modern Art Monday


Three Good Things Thursday

1. A prayer booklet my niece sent me. It was perfectly timed and perfectly needed.

2. Truffles - the chocolate kind. I bought three yesterday. Ate one yesterday, one today and one for tomorrow. Yum!

3. Having a puppy around. He keeps stealing my shoes, but he's quite adorable, snuggled up next to me....

Anxiety in the middle of the night...and in the morning...around lunch...

I got up in the middle of the night last night to do what most of us have to do in the middle of the night, and  heard rain. My first thought was (and I wish I was making this up): "The roads are going to be slippery. I hope Tallest Son and I don't get into an accident in the morning."

That's what anxiety does to you.

Here's what the Mayo Clinic has to say about anxiety as a clinical diagnosis:
  • Constant worrying or obsession about small or large concerns
  • Restlessness and feeling keyed up or on edge
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating or your mind "going blank"
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension or muscle aches
  • Trembling, feeling twitchy or being easily startled
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Sweating, nausea or diarrhea
  • Shortness of breath or rapid heartbeat
There may be times when your worries don't completely consume you, but you still feel anxious even when there's no apparent reason. For example, you may feel intense worry about your safety or that of your loved ones, or you may have a general sense that something bad is about to happen. 

As a Catholic, this is hard to deal with. My faith tells me to trust in God above all things, but the creeping, prickling vines of anxiety take hold at times. I want to have faith, find consolation in Christ, but it doesn't always happen.  I found this from Mother Luisita and it seems most sensible (common sense being something we often forget when it comes to our spiritual lives):

Never separate yourself from Our Lord. He is always giving you proofs of His love for you. He loves you very much and, in return, you should love Him with all of your soul. We have to become very detached from everything else, so that He may be the One to fill our hearts....Peace, it seems to me, is an indispensable factor if we are to have life in our souls. Lack of peace is harmful to you. Try to allow peace to come back to your soul, praying to Our Lord for that grace....As God, He knows everything; talk to Him as you would talk to a Father. Try not to lose God’s peace or His presence. May you receive the consolation that comes from Him alone.(from Catholic Spiritual Direction)

Here's to peace, grace and consolation. May God bless all of us with it.

Happy Feast of St. Francis

13th century reliquary
“Where there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance. Where there is patience and humility, there is neither anger nor vexation. Where there is poverty and joy, there is neither greed nor avarice. Where there is peace and meditation, there is neither anxiety nor doubt.”

"Don't worry; I have everything under control!"

The funny thing about having things under control is that...I don't. I want to. I really do. I want everything to go my way, under my direction, according to my plan.

Huh.

Heather King, a Catholic writer, said that Christ "didn't force or judge, just invited me to do a little better, then put the challenges in my path to teach me how." I am sure Christ did the same for me, but I was too stupid and hard-headed to notice.It has taken this truly horrid bought of depression and anxiety (which I'm still fighting) to get my attention.

There's the "let go and let God" school of thought, and then there's the "God helps those who help themselves" ideal. There must be some balance, but I've always placed all my eggs in the latter basket. Oh, I pray and ask for help, but I don't think I really mean it. I think I mean, "Hey, God: I'm gonna be doing this today. Clear the road for me, okay? Get everybody out of my way so things will turn out the way I want them to. Amen." I'm pretty sure that's not the radical and utter dependence on God that I should be striving for. 

For now, I am daily reminding myself that I DO NOT have everything under control. In fact, I can't even seem to remember to relax my shoulders from moment to moment; I have to keep reminding myself to do it. I can't control the interruptions to my work day, the fact that the puppy stole my shoe (again), that Tallest Son lost five of the ten dollars I gave him on Monday morning. I can't control much.

But I'll keep praying: "God, help me know that you're in control."

Here's your choice: be nice or be rude

Every day, you get to pick: be nice or be rude. You can be nice to the kid at Starbucks who is working as fast as he can in the morning rush, or you can be rude.

You can be nice to the elderly driver putzing along, or you can be rude.

You can be nice to the co-worker you don't like very much, or you can be rude.

You don't even need to say or do anything to be nice or rude: thoughts count.

So here's the thing. Let's say you're a regular reader here. You know I'm struggling with anxiety and depression. And yet you choose to leave a snarky and ANONYMOUS remark. Gee, thanks. You made my day.

Be nice or be rude.

Feast of the Guardian Angels

"Guardian Angel" - Linda Sannuti, artist

From Fr. Adolphe Tanquery: "Our guardian angel keeps us in constant touch with heaven. To derive full profit from his guardianship we can do no better than direct our thought frequently to our guardian angel, making him the object of our veneration, our confidence and our love."

"Constant touch with heaven": That's pretty heady stuff. When was the last time you talked to your guardian angel - the one who keeps you in constant touch with heaven?

Total Rip-off Tuesday: Liturgical Dance

Wherein I "rip-off" another writer - not taking credit, just sharing good stuff.

Today's choice is an excellent article about liturgical dance. But just to get us off to a silly start, please enjoy Stephen Colbert:



Now, back to reality: John J. Beuscher, in The Catholic World Report has written a fascinating historical overview of "liturgical dance". It's a great read. Here's just a bit of it:

One of the roots of today’s liturgical dance lies in the revolt against spare Calvinist, Reformed worship, which made itself felt in the late Romantic ambiance of 19th century Europe. In Victorian and Edwardian England, this was manifested, among other ways, in the art of the Pre-Raphaelites, in the antiquarian yearning for folk and rustic forms of song, dance, and design, and in the self-conscious decadence of Oscar Wilde. In the Anglican Church, it was manifested in surprisingly widespread interest in the luxuriantly exotic, such as spiritualist trance mediumship, occultism, and Theosophy. 

But having once tossed aside the sacraments and lost the primary sense of the Incarnation, it was hard to get it back again. It seems to require (with Chesterton’s image in mind) keeping a galloping team of horses from falling off either side of a narrow ridge road. Losing the Incarnation means not knowing where to head. In one church you have four bare white walls and entirely silent interior prayers, without priest or ceremony. In the one next door, you have old guys dressed up as they imagine Druid priests to have done, and cavorting with half-dressed maenads, to the strains of “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun.”

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 ...