Saturday, September 30, 2006

Could it have been an angel?

Did I see an angel?

One very harried day I had all of my children as well as some of their friends at Wendy's. The situation seemed very chaotic as we sat down, distributed fries, filled little cups with ketchup. etc. I was feeling overwhelmed. I had 8 or 9 young children with a lot of energy and the responsibility was weighing upon me heavily.

I suddenly noticed a lovely woman in a pure white suit sitting right next to us, looking intently at me and smiling. I had not seen her come in. My first thought was, "You're awfully brave sitting that close to us." I was thinking of her suit and our ketchup. She continued to smile and simply said, "Your children are very well behaved." Immediately I felt so encouraged, as though a burden had been lifted from me. I don't remember her leaving. The image of her smile came back to me many times that day and in the days and years to follow.

Could she have been an angel? The fact that, many years later, I still have a recall of a woman who "just happened" to sit next to us at Wendy's makes me think maybe she was.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Feast of the Archangels and Mitchie's birthday!!

"For he will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways." Psalm 91:11

Happy Feast of the Archangels and Happy Birthday to my dear nephew and godson Mitchel. Mitchie was born 11 years ago today and was named Mitchel without his parents even realizing that his name is a derivative of Michael and that the day was the Feast of the Archangels. How's that for Divine Providence? May the Lord bless Mitchie in a special way on this his 11th birthday!!!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

More language abuse

And while we're on the subject, let's not forget the following euphemistic expressions:

Food and water do not represent extraordinary medical care.

Denying a person water is not "letting them go." It is dehydrating them to death. Giving a person food and water, even through artificial means, is not simply "postponing the dying process." Food and water are basic human care!!!

The media so distorted and twisted the truth about what happened to Terry Schiavo that one of my daughter's college professors actually thought Terry had been on a respirator. My daughter said, "Respirator! Who said anything about a respirator? A feeding tube is not a respirator!"

We have to keep speaking the truth.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Manipulating Words

Words most definitely frame the debate especially on the abortion issue, as we have been talking about.

I once wrote a letter to the editor of my local paper on the abortion issue and was horrified to read it published with every use of the word "baby" changed to "fetus" and every use of "pro-life" changed to "anti-abortion." I was livid. I called the editorial page editor and gave her a piece of my mind. I pointed out to her that the choice of words is important and the words she used were not my choices!! I accused them of manipulating the debate... etc. Anyway, words are very powerful and the pro-death forces have manipulated them more effectively than we have thus far. Of course, it is difficult to make the best use of words when editors deny you the freedom(!) of choosing your own. I think they lightened up on their "editing" after that. (Probably didn't want another raving maniac calling them. (smile) I'd like to say that I tried to stay calm but that wouldn't be true.)

I love all you pro-lifers out there!!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Abortion and the Abuse of words (continued)

Because of the abuse of the language, the word "choice" has come to mean, in the minds of many, something unconditionally positive. As Dubay says, all sin is a matter of choice. Thieves choose to steal. Liars choose to lie. Murderers choose to murder. It is what we are choosing that matters.

Furthermore, all law is a limitation of freedom. No one is free to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants. And there is a right and a wrong and an absolute truth. Proponents of abortion have cloaked the issue in this rhetoric of freedom in order to manipulate the debate away from the reality of what an abortion is. We must redirect the discussion to the actual truth. It is about babies and whether or not there is ever a time when they should not be considered human beings.

A very "liberal" politician came to my door once asking for my vote. I told her I try to vote only for candidates who believe the unborn have human rights. I asked her if she believed the unborn are entitled to any human rights at all. It really threw her off guard as she tried to rephrase my question in a way that made her response sound like something positive. From that time on I resolved to try to talk about the abortion issue, whenever possible, in terms of human rights. After all, human rights and who is entitled to them is what the abortion issue is really about.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Abuse of the words freedom and choice

Thomas Dubay in "Deep Conversion, Deep Prayer" writes:

"In our contemporary massive inundation of talk and chatter in the print and electronic media as well as in daily life, strong, beautiful words have, through overuse and sometimes abuse, often lost much of their accuracy and power. A prime example are two glories of the human race: freedom and choice.....

Yet these two splendid words, freedom and choice, have now come to be used as euphemisms for the wanton destruction of innocent babies in their mothers' wombs. It is difficult to believe that advocates of abortion do not see that any sin is pro-choice, or it would not be a sin. The rapist is pro-choice, and so are the thief and adulterer and the liar. From a glorious word choice is now degraded to the level of a shameful cover-up....

Doesn't he say this well. It's so true. And we could think of many other examples as well. Yes, it is an abuse of language.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Notre Dame Football Analysis

LOL It takes an awful lot of nerve for someone like me who's still learning the rules of football to give a post-game analysis but here goes...

OK. Something was definitely wrong with Notre Dame when they played Michigan. I mean, really wrong. How could such a high ranked team look so terrible. Then, in the first part of the Notre Dame-Michigan State game they looked just as bad. How did they completely turn things around to come back when they were losing so badly and playing so poorly??

I'm going to speculate. Maybe the team got a little puffed up by their high rank at the beginning of the year. Maybe their humility slipped and they started thinking that they themselves were really something. I wonder if Our Lady might have withdrawn her hand from them. If so....

Perhaps Coach Weis, Brady Quinn, or maybe the team as a whole remembered who they are. Maybe they started praying. Maybe they turned the game back over to her. I wondered if they, in all sincerity, realized once again on whose team they play and whose image stands on the gold dome that we are reminded of when we see those gold helmets.

Maybe they looked heavenward and remembered to honor Our Lady of Victory.

Whatever happened, may it continue!! Go Irish!!!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Morning Demons

Do you ever wake up very early in the morning, earlier than you want to get up, yet still unable to fall back asleep? For me, it is this time when I am most vulnerable to those demons of the morning--- the "what-if" demons, the "ain't it awful" demons, the glass half empty (as opposed to half full) demons, the negative filter demons... I think you know what I mean.

At such times I often say the rosary, but it is often a desperate sort of rosary, a frantic intercession for some issue I've blown out of proportion. I need to recognize that at these times I do not think clearly. I'm seeing through a glass darkly.

I am going to try to rest quietly, to still my troubled thoughts, and focus on the presence of Jesus... perhaps while saying the rosary, if the mind won't stay still.

At adoration yesterday I read Psalm 17:15.

But I in justice shall behold your face;
on waking, I shall be content in
your presence.

May I be content in His presence on waking and throughout the day as well!!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Executions in Indonesia

From Catholic World News we read:

Vatican officials are mourning the deaths of three Indonesian Catholics who were executed on September 22 for allegedly masterminding a massacre of Muslims.....

.....prison officials also refused to grant the request of a priest to hear the men's confessions and celebrate Mass with them a final time.

How utterly lacking in mercy are the people who held these men prisoner. What harm, in their eyes, could have come from allowing them to see a priest. I hope I am not judging them when I say that it certainly looks like a decision stemming from pure hatred. May God have mercy on the souls of those who died and on the souls of those who inflicted this punishment as well.

His good and faithful servant....

Oh Lord, today, may I be your good and faithful servant. May I be under no delusion that I could be your good and perfect servant today. To feel that I must be perfect today in order to please you reveals an inner pride. I must be faithful and allow, in all humility, for your grace to mold me and direct me, knowing that I am utterly incapable of any measure of goodness on my own. Oh Lord, today is yours and I surrender it to you.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Boys and Girls are different!

Two of my boys are very close in age (23 months apart) and two of my girls are very close (20 months apart.) So when they were all young the two little boys would take baths together as would the two little girls.

We had an assortment of rubber duckies of all different sizes. The girls would pretend one was the father duck, the mother duck, the big sister, etc. The ducks were all used in pretend relationships. I thought it was so cute. The little baby ducks, who was taking care of whom, little conversations, etc.

When the boys got in the tub with the same set of ducks the play was entirely different. They used the ducks as projectiles. They lobbed them high in the air with the aim of hitting the boat at the other end of the tub. When I said, "What are you doing with the duck family??" They looked at me incredulous saying, "Duck family! Mom, these are bombs!"

I made a mental note to remember that these two sets of kids were not at all on the same page. Their brains are just not wired the same way. It's obvious to mothers that boys and girls are so different from the very youngest ages. It's incredible that the notion that the differences are all learned was ever taken seriously.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Thomas Dubay on ego-centrism

In "Deep Conversion/Deep Prayer Thomas Dubay says the following on ego-centrism:

I-ism turns up frequently in dishonest speech. Exaggerations,
caricatures, and plain lies occur to enhance the vanity and self-image of the
conversationalist. Domination in a meeting or in ordinary chatting can
serve the same purpose: my experience, my stories, my ideas, are more
interesting and important than yours, and so it is right that I go on at
length, perhaps even interrupting what you have to contribute.

At least in a blog you can't interrupt anyone. (smile) Something for me to think about.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

There is hope.

We're finishing drywalling in the family room. The computer is still covered with plastic which I remove when I blog, and now I am not receiving emails for some unknown reason!! I got up early this morning to write a post but I had such a headache and everything was disconnected for the drywall guy, and I just couldn't deal with it.

But the painting and wallpapering in my kitchen is finally finished!! Hallelujah! It looks so much better. I love it.

Soon, life will start to look a little more normal. There is hope.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Go Irish!!!!!! (Or why I love Notre Dame)

I am a graduate of University of Michigan. My father, my grandfather, and my sister are all graduates. And I live in Ann Arbor!

But I will be cheering for Notre Dame this afternoon. Why?

First of all, because the maternal instinct trumps all other affiliations and I have a son at Notre Dame who I'm just a little proud of.

I also love Notre Dame, as I've written about before, because when you walk on the campus you can feel the grace. I believe Our Lady's hand is on the school. I can think of no other explanation. The fact that there is also a spiritual battle going on at ND only confirms this belief. Where else would the demons be most furious but where her favor rests?

Throughout the administration, from the president to the dining hall workers, there is a kindness, a competence, a humility, and a courtesy that I have never experienced at any other university.

So..... Go Irish!!!!!!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Defending the Large Family

When I was quite pregnant with precious baby number six, a next-door neighbor of mine drew me into a conversation about world resources, water supply, overpopulation, etc. Trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, I assumed that any minute he would realize the inappropriateness of the conversation, given my condition. Instead, it became more and more clear that his choice of topics was intentional and my condition the reason.

I was flabbergasted. I tried to gently tell him that it was my belief that God provided for every baby he brought into the world, that he never gives us a little lamb without also providing a pasture. His response? "You can't use your religion as n excuse for your mistake."

I placed my hands on my bulging belly, all of the mother bear instinct rising hotter and hotter inside me. I no longer tried to be conciliatory. With all of the fiery don't-mess-with-me-for- another-nanosecond look that eyes can convey I told him, "I don't believe that this baby is a mistake. Nor do I believe that any of my other children are mistakes. I believe the world is better for their being here."

He backed down a little saying. "You do have nice kids." (Maybe the sparks from my eyes and the steam from my ears was having an effect.)

I went in the house and cried for two hours. I felt as though the legitimacy, the beauty, and the sanctity of my children's lives had been questioned. I felt wounded and furious.

I have forgiven this man. He didn't know any better. He didn't understand. They moved before the princess was born. I think he must have told his wife about his remarks because she sent me a lovely baby gift. I considered that his amends and sent them photo Christmas cards of all my children for several years. (with no malice, really)

God bless them both.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

If Heather can have 2 mommies why not 5 or 6 brothers and sisters??

Michelle at Rosetta Stone has a post describing animosity that some have directed toward a family of 15 children.

I mean, why the hate? Why the leaping to conclusions about what kind of people they are? I don't expect everybody to think this is a great thing (I personally don't desire to have 15 children myself, but maybe I would feel differently after I had another 5 or 6!). But this family is labeled as ultra-conservative, scary, religious freaks, bad bad bad bad bad. Basically, the accusation seems to be that by the very fact that they have "irresponsibly" had so many children, they were guilty of child abuse, neglect, and the ultimate sin of failing to expose their children to real life.

As a mother of six, I have received a number of negative comments about the size of my family. "Better you than me.", "Are they all yours." (Yes, thanks be to God.) My children once told me that they really didn't like it when people made comments like that. Can you blame them? The comments are insulting.

Children are a gift from God. There is no greater blessing on this Earth than to be entrusted with children. Why so much criticism of those of us who have been richly blessed? I guess the answer is that, sadly, many people do not know the truth.

Still, where is the cherished value of "diversity?" Apparently it's OK for Heather to have two mommies but not seven or eight brothers and sisters!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Fresh Smelling Laundry-- or Not!

If the scent of crisp, clean Spring air is the nicest way for laundry to smell, what is the worst way for it to smell?

How about the smell of a dead chipmunk in the dryer vent? (Sorry for the gross-out factor here.)

Yup. It actually happened. And my dear husband went out at 9:00 at night, (even though he gets up at 4:30am), removed the old ductwork, extracted the offensive remains, and replaced it with some hardware so shiny it looks like the tin man after his makeover. He also put in a one-way door so it can never happen again. Then, he moved the clothes from the washer to the newly rejuvenated dryer.

How cool is that? He will definitely have matched socks in his drawer today.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

More Advice to Myself

How do I avoid doing too much when there is simply too much that needs to be done?

Here's the scene:

I'm trying to make eight dozen cookies to feed the junior varsity football team before their game. (They get a healthy snack before every game and it was my turn). I'm also cutting twenty bagels in half, since cookies are kind of dessert, really.

Solution: Do one or the other, not both. Buy the cookies, if possible.

I'm trying to make the cookies while my husband is painting the kitchen.

Solution: Don't bake when your husband is painting the kitchen!!

My senior is filling out college applications and wants to know what years I was at U of M.
I can't think of even how to bake cookies much less what years I was in college!

Solution: Tell him you will look it up later. Don't try to figure it out. You're apt to add
something toxic to the cookies by mistake.

My daughter is person of the week in her class and wants me to help her find trophies, ribbons, certificates, baby pictures, etc. to take to school.

Solution: Collect them gradually and not while you're baking cookies. Be satisfied with an incomplete collection if that's all you can do

My husband points out that it doesn't look like we're going to have time to make and eat dinner before we have to leave.

Solution: Don't plan to make dinner when any of the above is happening. You know better. Order pizza, for heaven's sakes. (Or rather for your family's sake.)

All of the above were actually happening in the same afternoon. The long and short of my advice to myself is to stop trying to do every good thing that could be done. Recognize my limitations and the number of hours in a day. Have the humility to realize I am nowhere near perfect and pretending otherwise is an occasion of sin.

Monday, September 11, 2006

September 11

September 11. A date that will live on in infamy.

How on earth did a group of human beings, created by God, become such madmen. They were evil incarnate. Their actions, their motivation, all seem so utterly beyond comprehension. Were they possessed? Had they allowed so much hatred to envelope them that they became evil itself? Who could justify killing innocent people for any reason whatsoever? How does one come to think of suicide as heroic? And the very scary question... how many more such people are out there? Apparently quite a few. May the Lord have mercy on them. May he reveal to them the truth. May love touch their hearts. And... through the intercession of Saint Michael, may all of their violent efforts be thwarted.

Mary, Queen of Peace, please intercede for our country and our leaders. May they be given wisdom beyond human understanding. May they lead us in the direction of peace and may we be protected from terrorism.

May all come to know your Son.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Brad Pitt, you can't be serious.

So Brad Pitt won't marry Angelina Jolie (is that her real name??) until the restrictions on who can marry whom are dropped. "Angie and I will consider tying the knot when everyone else in the country who wants to be married is legally able," he said in Esquire magazine.

I could care less whether or not Brad marries Angelina. I'm a Christian and I am called to not judge others. But when an actor makes a public statement this inane I think he's fair game.

Brad, puhleeze. Did you actually say this to Angelina with a straight face??? (no pun intended-- really) Well, this gets you off the hook for a really long time, don't you think? Like forever? And I notice that when everyone is legally able, that's when you and Angelina will "consider" marrying. You're not even willing to commit to actually marrying then!

Brad, is this stand of yours going to bring about marriage rights for homosexuals? How, exactly? No one cares who you marry. And no one cares if you're in favor of homosexual so-called marriage. You remind me of John Lennon and Yoko Ono bringing the press into their bedroom so they could say on camera to "give peace a chance." They seemed to think that this statement of theirs would suddenly open people's eyes to the goodness of peace, and then people would try peace, and then there would be peace in the world. Even the diehard hippies had to snicker a little.

Brad, I think you just don't care enough about the woman who is the mother of your child to be willing to commit to staying with her forever. After all, what if you stop liking her? What if she starts to bug you? What if you had to personally sacrifice for her and your children?

What if you actually had to be a man?

Let's hear it for normal sized models!!

Have you heard about the skinny models who were kicked out of a Spanish pageant, Pasarela Cibeles? Organizers calculated the body mass index of each model and those whose BMI was not high enough were kicked out. They said they wanted an "image of beauty and health" and not an emaciated look. This story was from the Associated Press.

I say it's about time!!! Finally someone is thinking that a normal sized woman might be the kind to model clothes. If the buyers are normal, or let's face it, mostly overweight women why should the clothes be modeled by women who are so thin they look sick?

I would go one step further. Why not hire models who look like your average woman? Show us women wearing clothes that look good even though the woman has had several or more kids. Show us how we can dress with dignity in every kind of body shape. Course, that would require that there actually be designs with that goal in mind. I think a clothing designer who kept that goal in mind could make a lot of money. How many of us go shopping only to buy nothing and conclude that nothing looks good on us. We were out trying to buy clothes. If they gave us more choices that looked good on an average body we'd buy more, right? (Of course, I'm talking to those of you who don't, or no longer, where a size 4, etc.)

Anyway, let's hear it for the organizers of Pasarela Cibeles!!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Happy Birthday Mary, my mother and patron

Some of my earliest memories of the spiritual life involve Marian devotions. Our family sometimes said the rosary together.

My mother organized a neighborhood May crowning every year. All the kids who rode in our carpool to the local Catholic school would come. We had candles and a little homemade crown. Once my mother put the statue on a shelf and nearly set the house on fire when the candles started scorching the shelf above. We sang Marian hymns and all the moms would come to watch the procession.

I remember praying at Mary's side altar at St. John the Baptist Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Happy birthday, Mother Mary. Thank you for giving us your son. Thank you for being our mother. Thank you for your love and for all the times you have interceded for us. What a gift the Lord Jesus gave us from the cross.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Painting the downstairs.

My family room is all torn up. The kitchen is in disarray because we are trying to paint it a little at a time. And the living room is in chaos because stuff is moved out there from the other two rooms. It's been like this for several weeks now and I'm getting very, very frustrated.

OK. Advice to myself: This is an opportunity to develop patience. It is an opportunity to take an attitude of surrender. In some parts of the world people do not live in the peace and security that I enjoy. All I need to endure is a little (a lot!) of visual chaos that is temporary and of no consequence, except that it will eventually make my house look a lot better. This is a good thing. It is not something to grumble about. What a minor sacrifice to make for just a limited period of time. How unwilling I am to not have what I want, when I want it.

Tomorrow I will try to have a better attitude-- for my sake and for the sake of my family, and most of all, because the Lord has told me quite specifically to rejoice always.
God is good.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

True conversion

I'm reading a book called "Deep Conversion Deep Prayer" by Thomas Dubay. In speaking of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux Dubay says:

The young abbot was speaking to his community one day, and he made a remark that shocked me on my first reading of it. "There are more people converted from mortal sin to grace, than there are religious converted from good to better.".........What Bernard said of religious unfortunately is true in all states of life: bishops, priests, married men and women.......Bernard was saying that there are more men who give up serious alienation from God, mortal sin, than there are people who give up small wrongs, willed venial sins. And there are even fewer who grow into heroic virtue and live as saints live.

Perhaps this is because those who have fallen the farthest have the greatest appreciation of God's mercy. Or perhaps it is because so many attached to willed venial sins also fall victim to pride, believing they have less need of God's mercy. We so underestimate the importance of humility in spiritual growth.

Oh Lord, grant me a spirit of true humility that I might be open to all the graces you want to give me.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Living in the present

I heard this poem today:

Yesterday is history.
Tomorrow is mystery.
Today is a gift from God.
That's why it's called the present.

I don't know who wrote it, I'm afraid, but I thought it was cute.

May I always remember to live in the present. Today is the only day I have. Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow does not exist yet in time. I only have today. May I always live it with that understanding.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Papal Prayer Intentions for September


VATICAN CITY, SEP 2, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father's general prayer intention for the month of September is: "That those who use the means of social communication may always do so conscientiously and responsibly."

His mission intention is: "That in the mission territories the entire People of God may recognize that permanent formation is their own priority."

Do you think the Holy Father's words, "the means of social communication" is a reference to social blogging? Like Myspace, etc.? Just a thought. Maybe it would include email, instant messaging, etc. too. Or is there some other obvious meaning that I'm not thinking of.

May the Lord hear these prayers of our Holy Father and may we all communicate online or otherwise conscientiously, responsibly, and in accord with the Lord's will.

My mother's birthday

Today is my mother's birthday. She would have been 82. She's been gone for two and a half years now, after having suffered from Alzheimer's Disease for a good fifteen years.

My mother was a devout Catholic. She was dedicated to her family and we always knew we could count on her. We always knew she loved us deeply.

She was a prayer warrior, a devoted intercessor. You could count on her focused intercession if you asked for her prayers. I frequently still do, and the results seem to indicate quite clearly that she is indeed in heaven.

My mother loved children and had no patience for those who would complain about them. She was a fierce defender of the unborn.

She cared for others. The world is a better place for her having lived, and I miss her very much.

Friday, September 01, 2006

The Holy Face of Jesus

I have never heard of The Shrine of the Holy Face. Is it supposed to be Veronica's Veil?

VATICAN CITY, SEP 1, 2006 (VIS) - This morning, Benedict XVI travelled by helicopter from his summer residence of Castelgandolfo to the Shrine of the Holy Face at Manoppello in the Italian region of Abruzzi.

In the year 1506, exactly 500 years ago, an unknown pilgrim brought the Face to Manoppello and gave it to one of the town notables who kept it in his family home. Years later it passed to another family who, in 1638, donated it to the shrine of the Friars Minor Capuchins where it is displayed in an ostensory over the main altar.

The Holy Face is a cloth veil protected between two sheets of glass. It measures 17 x 24 cm and bears the effigy of a long-haired man. His cheeks are dissimilar: one, rounder than the other, appears considerably swollen. His eyes look very intensely upward so the whites are visible under the iris. The pupils are completely open, but in an irregular way, and the gaze is at once questioning and loving.

The holy face of gives me the spiritual chills to think of it. I once went on a retreat where the theme was "Gazing on the Holy Face of Jesus."

The Holy Father visited this shrine! I would like to know more about the cloth. He addressed those present....

"Those who meet Jesus," he said, "those who let themselves be attracted by Him and are ready to follow Him even unto the sacrifice of their lives, personally experience, as He did on the cross, how only the 'grain of wheat' that falls to earth and dies brings 'much fruit'."

"This is the way of Christ, the way of total love that triumphs over death," said Pope Benedict, adding: "This is the experience enjoyed by those true friends of God, the saints, who have recognized and loved in their brethren, especially in the poorest and most needy, the face of God long contemplated with love and prayer. They are encouraging examples for us to follow."

"In order to enter into communion with Christ and contemplate His face," the Pope went on, our lives must be "illuminated by the truth of love which overcomes indifference, doubt, lies and egoism.""Those who meet Jesus," he said, "those who let themselves be attracted by Him and are ready to follow Him even unto the sacrifice of their lives, personally experience, as He did on the cross, how only the 'grain of wheat' that falls to earth and dies brings 'much fruit'."

May all of our lives be illuminated with the truth of love....that love that triumphs over all.

This is from The Vatican Information Service. (in case my link doesn't work.)