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Teaching Religion in Public Schools: A Bad Idea

I have taught religion for many years. I taught at both the high school (a Catholic high school) and the college and university level. My educational background is in world religions, and I hold a B.A. and an M.A. in this field.

I am wholeheartedly against teaching religion in public schools.

Why? Because there isn't anyone who can teach it well  at most public schools. Public schools do not hire people with degrees such as mine. So, who is going to teach religion? The history teacher? The sociology teacher? The lit. teacher?

Now, all of those teachers may have some inkling of religion, as it intersects with their field of study. However, I can pretty much guarantee that none of those folks have done the work I've done.

When one of my kids was in high school, she did a "unit" on world religions in a history (I believe) class. She came home and told me what her teacher had told them about Hinduism. And I said, "That's wrong." I went and got one of my bo…

My Spinal Cysts (Upon Learning More Than I Wanted To Know)

My dad served as a U.S. Marine at the tail-end of WWII. He was an MP, serving in Occupied China, Hawaii and Washington, D.C.

When the Korean "Police Action" broke out, he was called up. However, after a physical, he was told that he had spinal cysts, and could not serve. (He wasn't too broken up about that.)

I have inherited many things from Dad. I love military shows and movies (although, I confess, I do not share his love of Tora, Tora, Tora.) I love to read. I have bunions and hideous seasonal allergies.

I also have spinal cysts.

To be precise, I have Tarlov cysts. These are rare. Some people who have them are asymptomatic (like my dad) and others suffer a great deal. I seem to fall somewhere in the middle.

I spent most of last year trying to get relief from the incessant nerve pain. To that end, I had a spinal cord stimulator implanted, which seems to have done the trick.

Except, it does nothing for muscle pain. Which I have a lot of.

It's disheartening to reali…

"A Personal Relationship With Jesus"

When I was in college, there was a woman who worked in our food service. Since it was a small college, and we all ate in the same cafeteria, we got to know the workers, at least by face.

Whenever this lady was working, if she caught your eye, she'd ask, "Do you know Jesus?" Of course, we were all smart-alecky about it.

As Catholics, we often get asked that perplexing question: "Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus?" And our answer is usually, "Uh......"

Catholics don't use that phrase. It's not Biblical for one thing. (Then Jesus commanded His disciples to go out and make personal relationships in His name...) For another, it is sort of ... obvious. We are baptized in the name of Christ, we receive His Body and Blood at every Mass, we are devoted to His Sacred Heart and His Divine Mercy .... That's about as personal as you can get.

Pope Benedict XVI was great at reminding us of this:
For us, the Holy Father concluded, Christianit…

Thinking about Mother's Day: please don't buy anything

It's hard to miss Mother's Day. The commercials are hammering it home. I saw a billboard yesterday along the expressway from an asphalt company: "Wishing you a pot hole free Mother's Day." That sure was warm and fuzzy. Thanks, guys.

Sometimes, I am the most unsentimental mother in the world. I didn't keep every precious card my kids made me, those sticky construction paper and glue creations. If you ask me how much my kids weighed at birth, I'll have no idea (I wasn't there remember: adoption.) Even still, my blase' attitude about that last fact has shocked some moms.

Other times, I tear up just thinking about a kid. That time my youngest came home from school adamant that we needed to go to the funeral home that night. A 4th grade classmate's mother has died, and my boy said he needed to be there for his friend.

Waiting for my Curly-haired daughter to get here! She's coming home, since the big move to South Carolina in January. I can'…

Musings on meds, scapulars, PTSD and dogs

I haven't written much here lately (my work blog keeps me busy!), and I keep thinking, "Oh, I don't have anything to write about.

Which is a lazy writer's cop-out.

I've been telling people I have a 3-ring circus going on in my head right now, but I heard a line on TV last night that also seems accurate: "He's crazy! He's got squirrels juggling chainsaws in his brain!" Work is crazy-busy, but in a good way. Hubby is in the midst of (a rather depressing) soccer season and our calendar keeps shifting and filling and moving.

I have slowly been weaning myself of the meds I've been on the past two years. So far, I've cut two of them in half, dosage-wise. I've also been making a concerted effort to eat better - and I'm doing fairly well, surprisingly.

I found a brown scapular laying on the ground Monday, outside the doctor's office. It's got lovely embroidery, with Our Lady of Guadalupe. I feel bad for the person who lost it, bu…

Why being Catholic is like being a panda

Jesus at McDonald's

Some of  you may remember that Dark-haired Daughter experienced a great deal of trauma about 5 years ago. She still suffers from PTSD occasionally, and is reluctant to go just about anywhere by herself.

We moved in January, from a very rural area to an urban/suburban area. We also moved from a house to an apartment. It's taken her awhile to get used to all this, and frankly, she's still pretty skittish. However, about a month ago, on a spring day that  Mother Nature teases us with every once in awhile here in Michigan, she decided to walk to McDonald's by herself. It's less than a block away.

"I'll call you when I get there, and then call you when I'm leaving, okay?" she said. (She was going to go, get a soda, and come home.)

"OK," I said, in my best nonchalant mom voice, quaking inside. This was a HUGE step for her.

Twenty minutes later, the apartment door opened, and she walked in, drink in hand. "I didn't even need to call you; …

Are your spiritual needs not being met?

I'm reading a book right now called "Everyone Leads: How to revitalize the Catholic Church." It's written by a business guy who has suggestions about how to get folks who are in the Church excited about the Faith, and bring more folks in.

I can't say I agree with all of his thoughts, but he does have a few ideas worth pondering. However, at one point, he talks about the reasons people give for leaving the Church. One of the leading answers is, "My spiritual needs were not being met."

My eyes rolled so hard my head sounded like a slot machine.

First, (and maybe you are aware of this, so forgive me) the Church does not exist for you. Yes, Jesus loves you. He died for you. He has made Himself present in all the sacraments for you. But get over yourself. There are a billion Catholics in the world. At any given time, someone is gonna feel like their "needs are not being met."

You know how when we were growing up, Mom made one meal for dinner? You …

Easter With A Heavy Heart

We are not supposed to be  a little, hmmm, bummed on Easter, are we? Nope, we are supposed to greet Easter morning with and "Alleluia" ringing on our lips, sharing the Easter candy and belting out those joyful hymns. Good Friday is now a distant memory, and we boldly proclaim, with St. John Paul II: "We are an Easter people and hallelujah is our song!"

But I'm a little sad today.

The terrifying incidents of Palm Sunday, as ISIS attacked our brothers and sisters, hangs like a pall over this Easter. How can one celebrate while burying a child?

None of my kids, save the one who lives with us, joined us today. That seemed so "thin" to me. I also saw many of my friends today with all their kids and grandkids, and yeah: I was jealous. I wonder if that will ever be for me.

I'm also missing my mom - still. So many things this week - Tigers baseball, the Triduum, visiting my niece and her family - just made me wish I could turn to Mom and say what was on …

5 Things To Do When Holy Week Isn't The Least Bit Holy

About 15 years ago, our home experienced what Dear Husband and I refer to as the "Black Easter." All five kids had a stomach bug, which meant every sheet, towel and blanket was put into rotation. Just as one kid seemed to be on the upswing, another would fall. The first kid would spike a fever again.

Holy Saturday night found me in the ER with Dark-Haired Daughter, who was dehydrated. We drove home in a torrential thunder and lightening show. We never even made it to Mass on Easter.

Right now, it's Tuesday of Holy Week. Maybe your kids are sick. Maybe you are. Maybe you don't have enough money for the Easter Bunny to visit. Maybe you're depressed, and making it out of bed means you're having a good day.

What do you do when Holy Week takes a decidedly unholy turn?


Pray the Stations of the Cross. Nope, don't go to church. Just find a nice reflection online or in one of your prayer books. It takes about 30 minutes to pray.Ask for help. Yeah, I know this is g…

The Formula for Raising Perfect, Good-Looking, Faithful, Virtuous, Happy, Talented Kids

There is no formula.

Sorry. It's 9:30 a.m. and I've already had "5 Things Successful Parents Do" and "Are You Raising A Drug-Addict?" pop up on my Facebook feed. Don't you think if there WAS a formula we humans would have it in place by now?

Parenting is tough stuff. And every kid is different. Every parent is different. Heck, I'm a different parent to each of my kids. And the world keeps changing, so what worked for Gen X won't work for Millennials or whatever we happen to label this current batch of toddlers.

Most of us stumble along fairly well. We are horrified, of course, that first time our mother's voice comes out of our mouth, but hey, we turned out ok, right? Sure, Mom and Dad didn't know we snuck out almost every night our sophomore year of high school, or that our freshman year at college involved a ridiculous amount of cheap beer. We are now responsible adults in charge of raising the next generation of responsible adults.

E…

Mandisa: Raw and Honest

I've always loved Mandisa. From the moment she first appeared on American Idol (and got that jerk, Simon Cowell, to apologize for making a crude remark about her appearance), it's been clear that this girl has got God.

Except when she didn't. 

For the past 3-4 years, Mandisa was hiding from the world and shutting out God. She was questioning everything she knew, and was depressed. Her honesty is refreshing - and I'm glad she's back with new music, and a deeper, more profound faith in God.

Lent has gotten away from me. Let not love.

Yeah, Lent kinda got away from me. Nobody but me to blame.

I think I'm still recovering from surgery, even though I feel fine. I can pretty much do whatever I want. I also freely admit that I'm scared. I'm scared I'm going to go for a walk, and a mile from home, the pain will return.

I am really afraid of the pain. That pain that puts me down on the floor, screaming. That pain that makes everything black and red, seeing only a tunnel with no end. That pain. That pain that overwhelms me, makes me want whatever will allow me to escape it. That pain.

Lent is sort of about pain. We focus on what Jesus experienced. Carrying that Cross - my Cross - on his back that was torn open by the lashes of a soldier.  Meeting those mothers who wept for Him and turning their sorrow back to themselves. Having to look His Mother in the eyes, knowing that everything He was feeling was tearing into Her Immaculate Heart. Yet he chose that pain, for that pain was Love. He risked Himself for …

Work Post: Be Amazed

My latest from my work blog - "Living the Good News" at Diocesan Publications

https://diocesan.com/be-amazed/

Of Barbeque Ribs, Strangers and the Human Tribe

Had my last official visit with the surgeon yesterday. I am good to go! Very thankful for the relief my spinal stimulator has brought me, and for all of the answered prayers.

On my way into the hospital where the surgeon's office is located, a very large man was sitting on a bench by the door. He was yelling greetings to everyone. People ignored him and went on their way.

As I was waiting for the elevator, he came in the lobby. He yelled at no one in particular, "I can't wait til they take those ribs outta my freezer on Sunday!" I smiled at him as the three other folks there looked at their feet ("Don't make eye contact. Don't make eye contact!")

He looked at me and said, "You eat ribs??" Yes, I replied.

"Well, I got 18 lbs of ribs in my freezer. We gonna cook 'em up Sunday!"

"That sounds like a feast! I hope you enjoy!"

And then I got on the elevator. One lady on board mumbled something about he must be "craz…

What happens when Lent takes a left-turn? 4 ways to get back on track

Most Catholics who take their faith seriously (and even some who don't) have a plan for Lent. We know what we're giving up. We throw our spare change in the Rice Bowl. We have a book or two we plan to read, or maybe delve into Scripture more regularly.

Then, we find ourselves in the middle of Lent, completely off-track. Our GPS broke. Our map was wrong. We're lost.

What to do?

First, I'm not talking about tragedy. Someone dies, or  you lose your job or some other horrible and completely up-ending event occurs. No, this is just ... a wrong turn. How can you get back on track?

1. Pray. Without a doubt, prayer is always the best place to start. Go to Jesus and rest in His love for you. Ask that He guide you back to where you need to be. Enlist the help of a patron saint as well - they love to pray for us!

2. Fast. Yes, I know we only have to truly fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. (By the way, I am the world's worst WORST worst faster. I get completely obsessed …

Lent: Going Swimmingly, Thank You

I've mentioned here before that I have given up trying to make any Lenten plans. God simply chuckles and then throws whatever He wants at me.

My surgery was successful, but there's a glitch. Apparently my little apparatus does not prevent or help with muscle spasms, an issue I've dealt with since I was about 14. Now, when I say "muscle spasm," do not think "charley horse" or "cramp." No, think: woman lying on bathroom floor screaming. Once in awhile I can work through them on my own, but usually they require a trip to the ER.

I've have 4 of these episodes since my surgery. My nurse thinks that the surgery probably aggravated some stuff, and my muscles will settle down in a few weeks. I can only say: I fervently hope so.

I've had an ear infection for about 10 days. Two antibiotics and every home remedy under the sun.

I continue to struggle with apartment life. Don't get me wrong - I REALLY like our apartment. It's quiet, the ne…

Not A "Nasty Woman" But A Blessed One

We are coming up on A Day Without Women, a brain-clumpofcells of the Women's March.

I was thinking about Ashley Judd's little rant, A Nasty Woman. It makes me sad, frankly, that this rather gross, base description of "femininity" was so highly praised. What a lost opportunity to truly celebrate what St. John Paul II referred to as the feminine genius.

Anyhow, I took the liberty of re-working the Nasty Woman piece. (By the way, that piece was written not by Judd, who performed it. It was written by 19 year old Nina Donovan.)

A Blessed Woman

I am a blessed woman. I'm not as blessed as the woman who knelt beside an animal's food trough in a cave to peer at the face of God. A baby who held the entire Universe is his tiny hand. A woman who transformed the world with one word: "Yes."

Not as blessed as that wrinkled little woman in India who saved kids. That woman who shamed a president and his wife for promoting abortion. That woman who likened children t…

"Mom, what are you giving up for Lent?"

My dark-haired daughter asked me this yesterday. My immediate response, with no thought was, "my daughter."

You see, my curly-haired daughter and her husband are moving 1000 miles away. On Friday. So, I'm giving up my daughter for Lent.

I am so happy for them: he has a new job that really taps into his talents and the pay is excellent. His parents re-located there about a year or so ago, and I know it's been hard on them as both their families are here. My daughter and her husband have an excellent financial plan to get rid of their debt over the next three years. It really is good.

But: they will be 1000 miles away.

My heart is a little broken. I know they don't understand my tears (yes, I bawled last night as I held her tight), and they probably won't understand them for another 25 years, when their baby loads up a car and pulls away.

150 years ago, this move probably would have been final. How many times in history did a mother say good-bye to a child and…

Every Scar For Him

We all live with the scars we choose. (from Sugarland's "Take Me As I Am")

Folks with tattoos know that their skin tells a story. I don't have tattoos, but I have a lot of scars.

Some of my scars are ridiculously small: a mole removed, a cut from a knife. Then there are the others: my scar on my left arm from a fall from a horse. My scars from endometriosis: right down my belly. Now, scars on my back.

With my fair and tender skin, I form keloids, so my scars are really noticeable. I guess I could get all vain about them, but I chose them. Theses scars tell a story about me.

When Kimberly Hahn (apologist Scott Hahn's wife) had a c-section, she was quite upset about the scar. She told her husband that she thought that, in Heaven, her body would be made "whole" again, without the scars. He said no - you'll still have those scars. They are the story of your commitment to Christ. Just as the Resurrected Christ bore the wounds of His Crucifixion, our bodi…

Time to Surrender to God's Will

Thanks to the wonderful Cecilia channel at Aleteia, I found this wonderful song. Vince Scheureman has quite the story - on the brink of hitting it big with his band, he lost his voice. And his band, And his career.

And it's all good. Really.
The visual of a white flag invokes the idea of surrender. I once heard someone say, if something is being ripped out of your hands, it hurts a lot more to hold on, than to let go. The idea of this song is that with surrender comes peace. The war stops. I have no idea what this young man's faith life is like, but he clearly gets the part of spirituality where you have to give up. You realize you are fighting God, the Universe, an eternal plan. And you just have to lay down the weapons you've amassed to fend off enemies, real and imagined, and allow God to do His thing.

And that "thing" is always, always good.

Even if you have to drag that damn white flag behind you for awhile, and it gets dingy and stepped on. Even if you hav…

Politics Is Driving Me To My Knees

I had to get off social media on Saturday. I'd like to get off for an extended period but my job requires that I'm on social media.

I felt (like many women) that Saturday's marches were only for pro-abortion, liberal women. (And judging by the speakers in DC, rich ones). Women dressed as female body parts chanting ancient abortion slogans were not speaking for me or millions of pro-life feminists. And no, that's not an oxymoron.

I turn, as I often do, to the writings of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. As a female and a Jew in early 20th century Germany, she knew a thing or two about being discriminated against. She also knew, as a teacher of young women, how incredibly gifted women are. Never for a moment did she suggest that we are the weaker sex.

Just so, woman’s soul is designed to be subordinate to man in obedience and support; it is also fashioned to be shelter in which other souls may unfold. The soul of woman must therefore be expansive and open to all human…

Stripping Away Vanity

God has asked our family to strip away much lately. And it is difficult. And it is good.

St. Francis of Assisi certainly knew about this. As a young man, when he had decided to follow Christ, he ran into the stern disapproval of his own father. Francis (never one to do things part-way) met with his father and the bishop. Francis renounced his claim to his father's money, and - in the public square - stripped off his fine clothes, declaring that they were no longer his. A tattered garment replaced the luxurious fabrics.

Like many of his time, Francis was afraid of lepers. Little was known of this dreaded disease, but those who contracted were destined for a life of poverty, outside of any town, village or city. Their only sustenance was gained by begging. In a moment of clarity, Francis saw Christ in a leper. He embraced the man. That gesture required Francis to strip away his prejudice, his fear, his lack of faith.

Francis also received the stigmata - the wounds of Christ. This is…

Trying to "end run" God

If you're a football fan, you know what an end run is. From Merriam-Webster:
a football play in which the ballcarrier attempts to run wide around the end of the line We try to "end run" God a lot. I do. I figure I know better. I've got this - no need to worry the Big Guy about such a trivial thing.

Of course, it never works.

Like the puppy above, when we try and evade the tough obstacle (even though we KNOW we will eventually have to do it), we end up - well, off in the bushes.

But oh! How I wished my way worked. I'd love to take a flying leap and land smoothly and gracefully. People would be in awe, as if watching Simone Biles nail a balance beam routine that no one else would even attempt. I would shyly look down and blush - just lightly - and acknowledge (But humbly! Oh so humbly!) my achievement.

But no: I am the one pulling myself out of the bushes, scratches all over my legs and twigs in my hair. I'd hear that gentle but loving voice of God saying, &quo…