Archive for June, 2011

How appropriate…

Our beautiful Pope celebrates the 60th anniversary of his ordination today, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.

“We were more than forty candidates, who, at the solemn call on that radiant summer day, which I remember as the high point of my life, responded “Adsum”, Here I am. We should not be superstitious; but, at that moment when the elderly archbishop laid his hands on me, a little bird—perhaps a lark—flew up from the high altar in the cathedral and trilled a little joyful song. And I could not but see in this a reassurance from on high, as if I heard the words “This is good, you are on the right way.” There then followed four summer weeks that were like an unending feast. On the day of our first Holy Mass, our parish church of Saint Oswald gleamed in all its splendor, and the joy that almost palpably filled the whole place drew everyone there into the most living mode of “active participation” in the sacred event, but this did not require any external busyness. We were invited to bring the first blessing into people’s homes, and everywhere we were received even by total strangers with a warmth and affection I had not thought possible until that day. In this way I learned firsthand how earnestly people wait for a priest, how much they long for the blessing that flows from the power of the sacrament. The point was not my own or my brother’s person. What could we two young men represent all by ourselves to the many people we were now meeting? In us they saw persons who had been touched by Christ’s mission and had been empowered to bring his nearness to men. Precisely because we ourselves were not the point, a friendly human relationship could develop very quickly.”

Read the rest here.

Happy anniversary, Papa! Many, many years!


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I’m a bit tired, and have next to no room for creativity today, so enjoy these nifty links.


Elizabeth Foss is a very impressive lady. This piece about the importance of humility and gentleness in the lives of zealous young Catholics is remarkable.


I recently discovered a blog dedicated to life as a mother and secondary infertility.  Second Chances gives the best description of the cross of secondary infertility I’ve yet seen.


Erika is The Philosopher Mom. I didn’t get to know her as well as I should have in college, but, thanks to the wonder of the internet, I’ve discovered what a smart, nifty lady she is. This post bravely deals with the difficulties of therapy and the truth that mere psychoanalysis isn’t enough to bring healing.


Seraphic Goes to Scotland is my latest fun read. Seraphic, who also blogs at Seraphic Singles, is a hoot, and very insightful.  I’m not a traditionalist, but I do attend the (kosher) TLM here every Sunday, and I’ve been through the ringer with traddies of all stripes. Anyway, her take on the ladies taking over the post-mass fun is great.


If you haven’t yet, check out Shirt of Flame. Heather King is an amazing writer. She has a deep, rich, Carmelite-infused spirituality that is nothing if not humbling. Her blog makes you think and wrestle through your opinions without using cheap, inflammatory statements.  It’s utterly infused with the love of Christ.


Better Than Doing Laundry is the fabulous blog of my fabulous friend, Erin Branham. She’s a highschool buddy who made good, and is now a real, honest-to-goodness radio personality at 95.1 SHINE FM in Baltimore.  Anyway, her blog, featuring faith, hilarity,  recipes, and beautiful photography will cure what ails you.


For a glimpse into the life of an Eastern Rite Catholic priest’s wife, head over to  Fear Not Little Flock. Priest’s Wife has remarkable insights into the day to day living out of an almost unknown role in the Church. A must read for Latin rite types who want to get to know our enormous Church.

Bonus Take!

Congratulations to Jen Fulwiler on her new baby, Pamela Scholastica! She normally hosts Quick Takes, but obviously has bigger fish to fry at the moment, between getting her wine basket back and caring for a beautiful newborn. Thank you,  Hallie, for hosting this week.

That’s all, folks. Happy Weekend!



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I’m sitting here, listening to The Way You Look Tonight sung by Sinatra. Will thought I needed some background music.  I ought to  use my typewriter. Unfortunately, you can’t blog by typewriter. He actually did get me a real 1940s typewriter to use to write my Great American Novel. It’s currently under my bed, awaiting a ream of paper and  the Muse.  Here’s hoping living down the way from  Flannery O’Connor’s house will rub off on me.

There’s something about using a typewriter. It’s noisy. It’s beautifully physical. When I was a kid and trying to become the next Jane Austen, I would grab a pile of notepaper, a good pen, and hole up in my room for hours, not letting anyone see what I scribbled. I have no doubt that what I wrote was, for a fourteen year old, fairly literate and completely awful. But it was cathartic. The slow, steady, crampy writing was cathartic. Then college came, and with it English papers and, Heaven help us, philosophy papers. Hours in Leahy Hall, staring at a screen, knocking back Cokes, trying to shake off that shaky chill that happens when you’re overtired. Nothing will kill your love of writing faster than being an English major. At least, for me, it killed it dead for a solid four years.  And then, one day, about a year after I got married, I felt like writing again. I had gained a bit of confidence in my ability, and began fiddling around with another little story. Then my computer crashed. I lost the first two chapters of what was actually a decent piece of work.  I may have cried. I know I went out for a drink with my husband.  Five years later, I think about those chapters and how, if I had been using the machine that Dorothy Sayers and Eudora Welty used, I would still have those words. Barring, of course, a devastating fire.  I can’t get them back, no matter how hard I try to remember.

I should get the typewriter out.

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“Fr.” Sheep Rustler Black Sheep Dog Corapi.


I could bump my traffic up by doing something in depth and analytical, but I won’t. The only reason I’m posting anything about it is because the last couple of days have been the equivalent of watching a train wreck, and I need to get it out of my system. The only (not super uncharitable) thought I  have to share about it is that orthodoxy of preaching does not equate with holiness. I really hope the fan boys and girls get their heads screwed on straight. They’re the ones who will really suffer from this shakeup.

And in the meantime, for fun, enjoy this.

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Once again, be sure to check Conversion Diary where Jen has more lovely Quick Takes!


Stuff my daughter says. Sometimes being awake with a flailing toddler at three in the morning is Heaven. Last night Philomena had a nightmare. It must have been a doozy, because she woke up screaming. Apparently, it really confused her because in it her adored Daddy was a bad guy. She ended up in our bed. She snuggled between me and Will before he took himself out to the couch. Sometime later (we were up from after midnight until three-thirty or four), she says “Mommy, I love Daddy in my holy heart. Daddy loves me in his holy heart. You love Daddy in your holy heart.”


John Mulcaster Carrick, The Death of King Arthur, 1862.

Games my family plays. Philomena commits regicide at least once a week. She takes her Daddy by the hand and leads him away for a game of dress up. She drapes a blanket around his shoulders, places a tiara on his head and hands him her trusty Nerf sword. She wraps herself in a blanket, places a tiara on her own head and kneels down in front of the rocking chair, where King Daddy is distributing largesse to the stuffed animal populace. He decides to knight her. He dubs her Dame Philomena, and hands her the sword. Philomena says “Thank you, Majesty, ” and takes the sword, only to immediately spin around, yell “Sword!” and thrust her vorpal blade into the King Daddy’s armpit. He obligingly expires, and they start over again.


SPF 100 sunblock. It’s hot here! Unbelievably hot. It is also always sunny. I’m a bit of a puddle duck. I love rain. I do not love excessive heat. It makes me cranky, and, adding to the crankiness is the anxiety that pale Irish me will tan or burn. I don’t want to tan, beyond looking healthy. Tanning results in a shar-pei like old age. I refuse to spend my youth offering my body to Apollo when he will only laugh hollowly when I’m a pruned 65 year old. Ideally, I’d cover up in something billowy. Unfortuantely, it’s too darn hot to be covered up. The only things that are comfortable to wear are sundresses. The problem with sundresses is that they leave your shoulders and decollete’ exposed. Solution? SPF 100! No wimpy 75 for me! That, a sundress, and a big hat and sunglasses, will keep you skin cancer free and as cool as these heathen tropical climes allow.


Sean Connery in a red diaper Speedo. This may take some explanation. You see, Will and I are bad movie buffs. You can imagine how happy I was to see a frame from the post-apocalyptic cheez-fest, Zardoz, featured prominently by Simcha Fisher and The Jerk over at I Have to Sit Down.  I was so happy I called my sister to talk about it, and we began to plan a bad movie night. She has to somehow get from DC to Savannah, we have to get lots of wings and beer, or margaritas, Will has to get a copy of Zardoz, and we will all huddle together on the couch, and watch Sean Connery parade about in a film that desperately tries to mean something.  As a palate cleanser, I plan to have a selection of the cheez-tastic Twlight movies available. Totes Team Jacob.


Writing an actual proposal for something that might possibly get published in something. Yippee!


Eucharistic adoration. Catholicism means being able to mention Sean Connery in a Speedo and devotion to Jesus in the same post. My latest plan to take over our diocese for the New Evanglization is to try to plan a monthly night prayer and benediction at our Cathedral. It would be pretty low key, just sung night prayer, confessions and socializing afterwards.  A couple of other slightly disenfranchised younger Catholics are interested in helping, and Will is going to put the idea before the parish council, hopefully before they decide to do something “relevant” and embarrasing in the way of a youth mass.


New books.  I’m in need of reading matter. Any suggestions?

That’s all I’ve got! Have a grand weekend.

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How I Got Engaged

My sixth anniversary was just a couple of weeks ago, and in my 7 Quick Takes I mentioned briefly how Will and I got engaged. But, since the ever charming Betty Beguiles is doing an engagement story link up, here, gentle readers, is the long form.

First, a little background. Will and I have  known each other for ten years. We’ve been married for six of them.  Will and I met at the Catholic University of America when he was a twenty four year old law student and I a measly nineteen year old sophomore English major. We were friends with a bunch of people from the college radio station and  one day we sat at the same lunch table in what we old-school kids called old South.  He was extremely polite, and, apparently, instantly smitten with the “beautiful, perky, least-amount of hipster angst having” girl that was me. We were both dating other (not so nice) people at the time, but became friends. A couple of years passed, and I had relieved myself of a bad relationship that had resulted in a pretty serious depression. Will was often the only person I could stand running into on campus. He was uniformly kind, went out of his way to cheer me up without getting too personal, and, while I loved my other friends, I never felt like I had to explain myself to him. He was restful. I’d tell you my whole courtship story, but it would take too long. Now we will skip ahead.

We began seeing each other officially when I was twenty-two. Four months later, he asked if I wanted to go on a camping vacation to his parent’s property in South Carolina. I said “Sure!” He said “Bring you sister-we need a chaperone.” My poor sister. She’s amazing, and puts up with a lot. So down we drove to rural South Carolina. Nothing could have prepared me for the wilderness of the lowcountry. It was pouring rain as we drove along a windy road further and further into middle of nowhere in the middle of the night. Suddenly, the pavement ended and we were driving along a dirt road into what looked like the jungle. Will turned off into what actually WAS the jungle and there, looming up before us, was a Quonset hut type garage. His parents were there, too. No pressure, right? We unloaded our stuff and my sister and I got our tent arranged.

So there we were, two Yankee girls, in a tent, in the PITCH BLACK, listening to the monkeys on a distant island (seriously), two hundred feet away from the garage where Will and his parents were conked out. At one point, Rachel and  I looked at each other and had but one thought: “Get Will!” So I ran through the rain into the barn, woke him up and mentioned our plight, namely, being utterly freaked out. You know that scene in the rain in The Notebook? This wasn’t it. I was soaked and bedraggled, and must have looked terrible, but Will didn’t mind. He very sweetly said “Okay-want me to come in with you guys?” and I said “Yes, please.” He gathered up his own stuff and arranged a little room for himself in the entry way of the tent, and zipped us girls chastely in the main section of the tent. Thus began our vacation.

The next morning Will awoke to hundreds of mosquito bites, floating on his air mattress in the small pond of the tent. Truly, he is heroic.

A few days went by and we swam, boated, saw the sights, and ate lots of barbecue. There was even a barbershop quartet practicing while we sat in a porch swing overlooking the river. For real! At this point, we had never kissed. He had never told me he loved me. I knew he did, and would say something eventually. I admit I was a little impatient. I wanted him to say SOMETHING, but knew that I shouldn’t force the situation. It took a lot of self-restraint not to jump the gun in my imagination. Anyway, there were lots of super sweet romantic moments that week, but I certainly was not expecting a marriage proposal. I was biding my time, because I knew I’d say yes when he asked. At any rate, one evening, my sister was sitting by a bonfire, and Will suggested we take a walk. I agreed, and we took a little stroll around the dark property and looked at the stars. He stopped underneath an enormous live oak tree and told me he loved me. Then he took my hands and asked me to marry him.

I was surprised. And then I stammered out something that amounted to”yes.” And then we kissed for the first time. There were stars overhead, and it was exactly what I had always hoped for in a proposal. I always wanted it to be at night, under the stars somewhere. I never told Will that; he came up with it on his own. Also, we had no ring at that time. Will, being a lawyer and taking things like contracts very seriously, gave me a silver dollar to keep until we picked out a ring. It sounds weird, I know, but it was very sweet. That coin is still in my jewelry box. The ring is on my finger.

Shortly afterwards, we were both hit with a case of giggles. It was kind of ridiculous, but we were very, very happy. My sister was happy, too, and put up with the newly engaged couple admirably. (By the way, she is beautiful, and single, and brilliant, and single and funny and single, and any single, virtuous young men between the ages of 25 and 35 should contact me to contact her).

And so, dear readers, I married him. I’m glad I did. He’s my buddy, and I love him.

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The Holy Spirit is really stirring things up around here in the domestic church department. Without going into detail, we’ve had some run ins with some folks in the world who believe in the cult of family togetherness, whether they like each other or not, whether they interact appropriately or not. In these folks’ minds “family is everything,” but they rarely go out of their way in true charity on behalf of their families. Judgement, manipulation and rancor are the reality of family life, and to think otherwise is to be naive.

How wrong they are!

The real mission of the family is to show Christ to the world, not to force feelings of cheap sentimentality  in place of genuine love.  The family is only capable of fulfilling its mission if it’s grounded firmly in Christ, infused with the Holy Spirit, and engaged in the continual praise of the Father. The love of God gives us the ability to rightly love our families.

I need to take notice of and responsibility for my vocation as a Catholic wife and mother.  The laziness that says “I’ll just pray later” ultimately leads to massive burnout. I’m not feeding my soul with the Lord, and then I wonder why I get discouraged or overwhelmed?

As if to confirm my suspicions that the Almighty is trying to get my attention Melanie Bettenelli of has been guest posting a series on the religious formation of children over at Barefoot and Pregnant.  These posts hit home in many ways, particularly in the need to be intentional in my childrearing habits. And then, today I find the following completely astounding exhortation to families given by the Holy Father during his recently concluded trip to Croatia. I’m printing it up and sticking it on the fridge. Once again, the theme of intentionality, of knowing concretely your mission as a family plays a large part. Here is a part of what the Pope says:

“By the grace of God, many Christian families today are acquiring an ever deeper awareness of their missionary vocation, and are devoting themselves seriously to bearing witness to Christ the Lord. Blessed John Paul II once said: “An authentic family, founded on marriage, is in itself ‘good news’ for the world.” And he added: “In our time the families that collaborate actively in evangelization are ever more numerous […] the hour of the family has arrived in the Church, which is also the hour of the missionary family” (Angelus, 21 October 2001). In today’s society the presence of exemplary Christian families is more necessary and urgent than ever. Unfortunately, we are forced to acknowledge the spread of a secularization which leads to the exclusion of God from life and the increasing disintegration of the family, especially in Europe. Freedom without commitment to the truth is made into an absolute, and individual well-being through the consumption of material goods and transient experiences is cultivated as an ideal, obscuring the quality of interpersonal relations and deeper human values; love is reduced to sentimental emotion and to the gratification of instinctive impulses, without a commitment to build lasting bonds of reciprocal belonging and without openness to life. We are called to oppose such a mentality! Alongside what the Church says, the testimony and commitment of the Christian family – your concrete testimony – is very important, especially when you affirm the inviolability of human life from conception until natural death, the singular and irreplaceable value of the family founded upon matrimony and the need for legislation which supports families in the task of giving birth to children and educating them. Dear families, be courageous! Do not give in to that secularized mentality which proposes living together as a preparation, or even a substitute for marriage! Show by the witness of your lives that it is possible, like Christ, to love without reserve, and do not be afraid to make a commitment to another person! Dear families, rejoice in fatherhood and motherhood! Openness to life is a sign of openness to the future, confidence in the future, just as respect for the natural moral law frees people, rather than demeaning them! The good of the family is also the good of the Church. I would like to repeat something I have said in the past: “the edification of each individual Christian family fits into the context of the larger family of the Church which supports it and carries it with her … And the Church is reciprocally built up by the family, a ‘small domestic church’” (Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI to the Participants in the Ecclesial Diocesan Convention of Rome, 6 June 2005). Let us pray to the Lord, that families may come more and more to be small churches and that ecclesial communities may take on more and more the quality of a family!”

Read the rest here. Praise God.


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