Tuesday, May 31, 2011

And So, Goodbye

I joined this blog more than a year ago at the kind invitation of its founder, Webster Bull, and his writing partner, Frank Weathers. These two guys are like brothers to me now, even though I never have met Frank in real life, Webster has never met Frank, and I hadn't met Webster until after I started "working" with him. I have been blessed to have been able to share this space with two great men. And to meet my dear readers, some of whom have become in-real-life friends! Thank you for reading.

I've decided to spread my wings a bit and carve out my own corner of cyberspace.

Monday, May 30, 2011

For A Few Thoughts On Memorial Day

Last year I wrote a Memorial Day post titled To Remember the Fallen. I shared a personal story with you about a few of my brother Marines and asked you to share your prayers with us for those you wanted to remember as well.

Posts like that are hard to write, and I did not relish a repeat performance come this year. So I put it off and decided to watch a movie instead. But, as the old saying goes, you can run, but you can't hide.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500: Feast Day for Gearheads-UPDATED

It's no secret that I'm a gearhead, unless you just stumbled in here today for the first time. If it is fast, I like it! I don't care whether we are talkin' cars, boats, planes, go-karts, even the pine-wood derby. You name it.

Speed, and the drivers with the skills to thread the needle and run across the razors edge, and win, is a testament to the wonderful human creature that God created.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

For the Body of Christ, Not a Parish

My husband and I and our parish friends have waited months for the BIG DECISION. I surprised myself by leaving Mass tonight oddly unaffected by the Bishop's announcement that our parish will be changing its name and merging with two other parishes.  I felt nothing, absolutely nothing.

As I pulled out of the parking lot and headed to the grocery store, I turned on the car radio. Matt Maher's "Christ is Risen" was playing.  I realized once again I'm not Catholic because of a parish. I am a Catholic because I believe, as Pope Benedict XVI says: “In a world seeking human certainties and heavenly security... Christ is the solid rock upon which to build the edifice of one's own life, and ...trust placed in Him is never placed in vain."

For Vivaldi's Gloria

Last night I had the supreme privilege and pleasure of hearing our eldest son play with his chamber music ensemble a concert of Bach and Vivaldi at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Trenton, New Jersey. (Here they are performing in Florence several years ago. )  What moved me the most was when the children performed Vivaldi's Gloria, accompanying  the Absalom Jones Inspirational Choir.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Because the Holy Spirit is On-Line: Dispatches from Shanghai

It's minor miracle time. Yesterday I got around to forwarding my recent post on Dom Lou to my friend Jonathan Chaves.

Jonathan, a professor of Chinese at George Washington University, is the person I met when I "discovered" Wu Li. He e-mailed me back right before supper and informed me that he has been in Shanghai for the past two months and is wrapping up a research trip there. He said he could not read my post, however, because all blogs were "suppressed." What?! I hate it when that happens.

Best. Photograph. Ever. The Incredibles in Action!

Credit: Mark Gormus/Richmond Times Dispatch

Ordinarily, this isn't the kind of post I write. But this is no ordinary photograph. This is family, fun, baseball, hot dogs and apple pie. It's also too good not to share. Life doesn't end when you have children. It begins! And you have some cool people to share experiences with too.

FYI, Dad called the ball. Just sayin'. See the video clip at the link here.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

For All The Saints: St. Philip Neri

St. Philip Neri
painted by Fr. Kevin Kelly
-Feast of St. Philip Neri
Did you know the Church has a Patron Saint of Joy? He's St. Philip Neri. Today is his feast day.

Friends from our parish invited me to attend a Mass tonight at  7 o'clock to celebrate. We joined dozens of worshippers at the New Brunswick Oratory of St. Philip Neri, including five Oratorian priests, one Oratorian brother, and 14 secular Oratorians.

Beautiful and unexpected (and new!) to me was that the community tonight admitted six freshly minted Secular Oratorians. We Catholics are accustomed to praying for vocations; how stunning to see the those prayers come to fruition.

Because the Saints Sustain Us; Which Ones Are Traveling With You?

My beautiful friend Ann Burt, who I first met on these pages, (and later in real life in her hometown of Raleigh, NC!)  has found a vocation making retablos. The small devotionals are labors of love; Ann runs a decorative painting business for a living.  My husband and I gave a retablo to our son Gabriel, on his Confirmation day.

I have just ordered a slew of them for friends in my life who are marking milestones and who have special devotion to a particular saint. I was so excited when Ann emailed me this afternoon to say: "St. Bernard and his traveling companions are on their way. Sorry I tried to get him out this morning but was not quite finished :("

Because the Peace of Christ is Real

 Guest post by Dwija Borobia

Dwija Borobia, 30, her husband, and their four young children decided to buy a house - sight unseen - in rural Michigan off the internet. Two months ago, we ran a piece of her story here.  Here's another piece. 

When I'm presented with a challenging circumstance, when the road gets a little bumpy and the things aren't going the way I wish they would, I clam up.  I need time to process the valleys of life.  The peaks...well, I shout those out eagerly!  Today, on the other hand, is different.  Today I'm ready to share something with you that was, or perhaps should have been, more difficult to celebrate.

On the Friday before Mother's Day, my husband was laid off.

Summer Cometh...

Renoir's "The Beach at Purnic"

Summer cometh,
Wild bee hummeth,
In the sedge the kingcup blows;
Gorse and briar
Break to fire
'Mid the woodbine and the rose.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

For the Seed Planted by a Chinese Confucian Diplomat

The Holy Father has asked us to pray for the Church in China today. News reports are saying that security is tight in Sheshan. Of course, we must not forget that Mainland China is still under the control of a form of government that is not altogether friendly to the Church. Militant xenophobia has run through China long before she fell to the Communists.

That's why I feel compelled to share the following story from my dear, departed friend named Dom Lou Tseng-Tsiang. Doesn't he look stunning in this photograph? That was taken in 1906 when he was a diplomat to the Hague. At that time, China was still ruled by the soon to be extinct Manchu Dynasty.

Monday, May 23, 2011

For "The Risk of Education"

The late Fr. Luigi Giussani, who founded the international Communion and Liberation movement, sometimes is hard for me to follow. Our School of Community is reading his seminal work "The Religious Sense," and, to be honest, I would find it tough to grasp were it not for the skilled summaries provided by the woman who leads our weekly group.

This weekend, I bought another of his books, one that is easily accessible to me: "The Risk of Education. " The subtitle is: Discovering our Ultimate Destiny.  I recommend this book to anyone who is a teacher or a parent or who hopes to be.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

"Post-Rapture Scare" Music (Caritas in Veritate Edition)

Like a champion athelete that should retire when they are on top, I probably should have quit when I was ahead when it comes to the most recent Rapture scare. But the thing is, this isn't the first prediction of the end of the world and it won't be the last.

The Bible may not guarantee it, but I will. And we get to do this all over again in 2012 too? Sheesh! But wait a second; the Bible does guarantee something: there is no knowing when the end will come, so stop with the guessing already.

Because I Don't Work For You: Notes from the East Coast Fraternity Exercises 2011

Last night, the hundreds of us who gathered at a conference center in New Jersey for the East Coast Fraternity Exercises had the chance to listen to some witnesses - folks who found a way to verify Christ's presence in our lives.

One young woman's story moved me deeply because I found in her story traces of my own experiences.  Who among us has not faced an unfair boss or the struggle to be recognized in the work place?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

For Reasons Like Missed Raptures

Father Dwight Longenecker hits my interest in this event right on the head,

What interests me specifically about the recent high profile prediction of the Rapture is that I was brought up in a fundamentalist church where dispensationalism was the interpretative key. We had an awful lot of sermons on Bible prophecy and the 'end times'. We were taught that the Rapture was just around the corner, and although our pastor never set a date he always taught that it was 'just about to happen.' Other Christian teachers may correct this misinterpretation of the Bible and correct the theological errors or show the logic to be flawed, but it is really only the 2000 year, living tradition of the Catholic Church which can put such teaching into its true and rightful perspective.

On Being a New Creature: Notes from the East Coast Fraternity Exercises 2011

About 10 last night, we celebrated Mass in a huge meeting room at the Hamilton Park Hotel & Conference Center, which bills itself as being designed "with the sophisticated traveler in mind." Well, we are a motley crew, some 200 adults of varying ages and stages.  Father Richard Veras, chaplain to Communion and Liberation, reminded us in his homily that what happens in this conference room during consecration is no different than the apostles encounter with Christ during the Last Supper. The upper room, after all, was nothing special, just the second floor room of a restaurant.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Rapture + Zombie Apocalypse = Movies and Beer!

Here's the thing. Tomorrow is the Rapture, but as Tim LaHaye's scholarly exegesis proves (?!), Catholics are going to be "left behind." Guess what else? It's a rolling rapture, see, because God honors our man-made time zones. Didn't know that, didja!

I betcha also didn't know that the Zombie Apocalypse comes right on the heels of the Rapture. Hmm? That's theology I'm makin' up as I go. So pay attention, because the rapture and zombies go together like peas & carrots.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

For Faith in Action: East Coast Fraternity Exercises 2011

What a difference a year makes. Last May, the leader of our fledgling School of Community invited me to stop by the annual spiritual retreat of the East Coast participants of Communion and Liberation. So I drove up for lunch at a conference center in Florham Park, NJ to meet Webster Bull, the man who started this blog and who introduced me to Communion and Liberation. I didn't know much about CL, and visited its East Coast Fraternity Exercises with a mix of suspicion and enthusiasm. On a personal note, I also was in the midst of retraining myself for a career teaching special-education students.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

For Stuff Non-Catholics Say About the Church Like This

No, this isn't  a photograph of Karl Marx. That's Walter Bagehot, former editor of the Economist and a fellow who could write his fanny off. I stumbled upon what follows while tracking down a quote attributed to Blaise Pascal. I've become something of an unbeliever in the attributions for quotes that can so easily be found on the internet these days. I want to see the footnotes, or the original text nowadays.

So I was snooping around the electronic shelves of Google Books and found the quote, "All human evil comes from a single cause, man's inability to sit still in a room," buried in an article written by Bagehot that was published in an astonishing place.

To Introduce Blaise Pascal to Stephen Hawking? Why Not!

All over the news we read (and hear) that Stephen Hawking says Heaven is "a fairy tale story for people that are afraid of the dark." The darkness of death that is. By the way, this isn't some new stance of his, in case you missed the interview he did with Charlie Rose back in 2008.

It's ironic that in that clip he mentions there not being much room for miracles because the first time I mentioned Hawking in a post, it was the one I wrote about St. Joseph of Cupertino. I reckon he figures all the miracles documented by the Church are just fairy stories though. No matter.

Monday, May 16, 2011

For Abusive Ad Hominem Attacks...Not!

I've mentioned in passing that for my day job, I work in an archive. What Fr. Barron relates below about the documents, and hard to read handwriting, etc., reflects a wonderful experience that I have daily at my workplace. Sharing documents with folks as they do family and historical research is an intangible benefit of working in an archive as well.

Did I mention that I also get heaping helpings of silence and solitude at work too? It is a long way from the noise I endured on the flight line and the gun line when I was a Marine. And it's a long way from the controlled chaos of a trucking fleet's dispatchers office when I was a logistics manager too.

Jesus Goes Mainstream, Classical Music Edition

Over the last several weeks here on Music for Mondays, I've been exploring Jesus in mainstream culture through music. So far I've covered pop hits from the 1960's and 70's, as well as the 1980's up through the early 2000's. Last week I took you back to the times of Spain shortly after the Protestant Reformation.

Yes, I'm zig-zagging all over the timeline. For this week, I'm moving forward a bit starting in 1723 with pieces by Bach, then to the mid 1700's with Handel (that's him in the portrait above) and ending in 1825 with something by Franz Schubert.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Thanks to Two New Witnesses

This morning at Mass, I had the unexpected privilege of seeing something that in nearly a half-century of being Catholic, I never had: an adult confirmation. It was powerful to watch Rev. Tom Odorizzi, C.O, who leads the growing New Brunswick Congregation of the Oratory, confirm two men into the faith.

Dressed in dark suits, the men stood solemnly while their sponsors, also middle-aged men dressed in suits,  placed their hands on their shoulders as the priest blessed and anointed them.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Musings After Seeing the Movie "Bridesmaids"

My husband invited me on a date tonight - dinner at our favorite diner, followed by a movie. The movie he had in mind was Bridesmaids, a comedy Universal Pictures released on Friday. My husband warned me it's rated R, because he knew I likely would become uncomfortable with at least some aspect of the movie. And I was.

I also laughed so hard at some of the over-the-top gross-out humor in the movie that I was crying. And some of the events in the movie tugged at my heart. The movie also provoked me to question how best to live in a world that doesn't always reflect my beliefs.

Thanks to "Be Different: Adventures of a Free-Range Aspergian"

"Be Different" isn't a Catholic book, isn't a Christian book, and isn't a spiritual book. This is a book about a man who struggled his whole life to make friends and to fit in and finally was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome at age 40.  His story awed me and reminded me how God has created us all with immeasurable love.

I bought John Elder Robison's audio book Thursday afternoon at a Barnes and Noble near the public high school where I teach. By Friday evening, I had listened to the entire six hours of it while driving the family minivan. So you have a sense of how much driving I do, as well as how compelling I found Robison's tales. He narrates his own audio book, which gave me an even more vivid sense of his life - how he struggled to understand the world beyond his own thoughts and feelings.

Because Blaise Pascal Spoke Truth to Power Like this

I love Blaise Pascal. I've said that before a number of times. The guy accomplished more in the thirty-nine short years of his life than I ever will, and I look forward to sharing a beer with him in Heaven. And if he doesn't like beer, I'll share a glass of wine with him instead.

He is a mathematical genius who can also write well. His Pensées are easy to read, easy to understand, and he gets right to the point. And as unlikely as our friendship may seem to you (dead guy genius befriends knuckle-headed, and still living, Marine), the Holy Spirit brought us together. So go figure.

Friday, May 13, 2011

For Your Funny Friday Night at the Movies

Good news! Blogger has gotten over it's flu bug and Allison and I are able to share blog posts with you again. But guess what? Jimmy crack corn and I don't care!

That's right, it's Friday night and all day tomorrow will be spent at soccer fields and baseball diamonds (if it stays dry enough). Which means it's time for some mindless entertainment that actually is kind of mindful. Galaxy Quest!

This film came out back in 1999 and is a parody of the original Star Trek series.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

For Your Family Night at the Movies

Are you thinking about the weekend yet? Are you looking for something fun to do at home with your family? My husband discovered a gem of a movie the other night: The Emperor Waltz, directed by Billy Wilder. He taped it for me and we've been watching it together.

If you are a Wilder fan, as we are, then you know about Sunset Boulevard, The Apartment and Some Like it Hot. The Emperor Waltz is different; a light-hearted romance. A vehicle to show off Bing Crosby's beautiful baritone, it tells the tale of a commoner (Mr. Crosby) an American salesman, and a Viennese countess (played by Joan Fontaine ) They own a mutt and a dog whose bloodlines go back centuries. respectively. You can guess where this one is going.

Because Mercy is Greater Than Justice

The afternoon of May 1 my husband and I experienced something mystical. It's taken me a while to write this down because the feeling remains so powerful. Greg was at the shopping mall and I was at home planning lessons and menus.

About the same time, we both suddenly felt a powerful overwhelming sense of relief and release. You see, my husband narrowly survived the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Thanks to Tomás Luis de Victoria: Singer, Composer, Priest

Over the past couple of weeks, I've been sharing musical selections from contemporary culture that are Christocentric. This week I wanted to take that same theme, but apply it to a much earlier era. While attempting to do so, I stumbled upon the works of Tomás Luis de Victoria.

Now, if I was from Spain, I would probably have learned of de Victoria in grammer school. I'm not from Spain, but I’m a Catholic now, see, so Christ’s whole world is open to me. Call it Jesus’s Big Back Yard, and come along with me to learn about one of our neighbors.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

With Gratitude to Grammy

The strong scent of lilies yesterday afternoon transported me back to my childhood and Easter season Sundays with grandmother and the rest of my extended family. Forty years ago, I was a little girl, the youngest of four siblings who piled into a station wagon and traveled many Sundays after Mass across Hudson River's Tappan Zee Bridge with our parents to spend the afternoons with my dad's parents.

Someone at my parish this weekend donated a bouquet of lilies to rest at the feet of the statue of Mary near the altar. I sat in a nearby pew at the 5 p.m. Mass.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Gone Prayin'

Joe Six-Pack, USMC has been hot and heavy on the Catholic Blogger beaten zone for a while now. A still, small, voice is calling to me now. It's telling me to take a rest for a bit, and spend some time in communion and prayer with Our Triune God.

It's sort of like this...

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Because Catholics Can Dig Science

I enjoy stories like this one about experiments on Einstein's theories. Gravity Probe- B, launched into space in 2004? You don't remember that either?

Faith and reason are compatible, see. Thankfully there are rocket-scientists that get the funding to study warping of space and time. Neat! Especially when you consider that the idea to do these types of experiments came about 40 years ago, you know, when computers were still the size of large rooms.

Here's an excerpt from the BBC story below,

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Because of St. Thomas Aquinas' Thoughts On War

Have I mentioned lately that I've been taking a shine to the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas? It's difficult not to, seeing how much of the Angelic Doctor's work undergirds many of the doctrines of Holy Mother Church.

Did you realize that another title given to St. Thomas Aquinas is that of the Common Doctor? That was the sobriquet that Blessed Pope John XXIII bestowed upon him when he addressed a Thomistic Conference back in September of 1960. Regarding Aquinas he writes,

His teaching was, more than any other, fully in keeping with the truths that God has revealed, with the writings of the Holy Fathers, and with the principles of right reason and therefore Holy Church has adopted it as her own, and has given the name of common or universal teacher to its author.

Psalm 52 (A Few Words for Wednesday)

Thankfully, the scriptures are not one dimensional, like say the characters in an Ayn Rand novel. I've mentioned before how uncanny the readings can be, as well as the timing of selections that are in the Liturgy of the Hours. That is where I ran across today's poetry selection.

Are their inconvenient scriptures? Of course there are.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Because Now That I'm Catholic, I Can't Imagine Life Any Other Way

 Guest Post by Sandy Croslow

I've been attending Mass almost weekly for more than three years. Yet the handful of Masses I've attended since my confirmation at Easter Vigil have blown me away. Partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ makes me feel more a part of the Body of Christ than I could ever have imagined.

On Sunday, I attended Mass at All Souls' Parish, the neighborhood parish in my hometown in the St. Louis suburbs. I knew no one but I felt at home. Sunday night I realized All Souls, a beautiful church by the way, is the only Catholic Church I ever attended with my mother: we went to a neighbor's wedding there in the mid-1960s. (Pictured here in a photograph by Mark Scott Abeln, a convert)

Because Christ is a Warrior (Then, So Am I)

Hi, remember me? I'm the guy who said Christ is a Royal (Then, So Am I). Now I have to write another post with a similar title because I observed that many of the same folks who weren't interested in the Royal Wedding last week also seem to be conflicted about the actions of S.E.A.L. Team Six a mere forty-eight hours later.

Perhaps I'll be starting a whole new series of blog posts around this theme of who Jesus Christ is, and how it relates to YIMCatholic. Sure, Eric Sammons already wrote a book about this, but that only covers Jesus Christ in the Gospel of Matthew.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Because Osama Bin Laden's Compound Near St. Peter's Church?

Obviously, this is not one of the reasons why I am Catholic. But it is interesting anyway, especially given my previous post today. Here's why.

Remember last Fall I asked you to pray for the flood victims in Pakistan?  Well, as it turns out, that was when you first inadvertently prayed for your enemy, Osama Bin Laden.  You see, his compound was in the same city as St. Peter's Church.

To Pray For the Victory Over Terrorism

Surely I'm not the only one to notice that on Divine Mercy Sunday, May 1, 2011, Blessed Pope John Paull II was beatified and Osama Bin Laden was killed. Is it a miracle? Is it a coincidence? I have no idea.

Perhaps it was a miracle, the first one since our late Pope was officially recognized as a saint. I don't know the answer. Here is how I feel about the news of Bin Laden's death though,

I did not attend his funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.

Jesus Goes Mainstream II (Music for Mondays)

One week down, and 6 weeks to go before Pentecost. I'm still exploring Jesus in mainstream culture through song. Last week, I took us from the late 1960's up until the early 1980's.

This week, I dip back into the 1970's briefly before vaulting back up into the Eighties and Nineties again before getting a toehold in the 2000's. And all of these songs are well known and I would wager that most of you remember them.