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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Words from the Doctor of Grace

While we're all fretting about healthcare, et al; I thought a bit of wisdom from St. Augustine might be particularly fitting for those of us waiting in joyful hope. (Thanks Myra, for coming up with the great idea to make a study of Augustine's Confessions...this is a preface of the good things to come.)

"The maker of man, he was made man, so that the director of the stars might be a babe at the breast; that bread might be hungry, and the fountain thirsty; that the light might sleep, and the way be weary from a journey; that the truth might be accused by false witnesses, and the judge of the living and the dead be judged by a mortal judge; that justice might be convicted by the unjust, and discipline be scourged with whips; that the cluster of grapes might be crowned with thorns, and the foundation be hung up on a tree; that strength might grow weak, eternal health be wounded, life die.

It was in order to endure these and similar indignities for our sake; in order to set free those who had forfeited all dignity; though he deserved no evil but endured such terrible evils on our behalf, and we deserved no good, but received such splendid goods through him; so it was for these reasons that the one who was before all ages the Son of God, without beginning of days, was prepared in these last days to become a son of man; and that the one who was born of the Father, not made by the Father, was made in the Mother whom he had made; so that he might exist here for a time, being born of her who could never and nowhere have existed except through him."

St. Augustine of Hippo (+430)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Santa "Clause"

As a kiddo, I remember that music was a big part of our Christmas rituals. Though we were not necessarily a very religious family, our home recognized that this night was set apart as a time of worship and praise for the miracle of God coming to earth as a baby. We celebrated Christ’s Mass as most everyone else I knew did, with trimmed tree, wrapped presents, great food, snow, mistletoe, a church visit and SANTA.

One of the songs that was indelibly seared into my memory was “Santa Clause is coming to Town” Remember that old favorite?: “You better watch out, you better not cry you better not pout I’m telling you why…Santa Clause is coming town. He’s makin’ a list and checkin’ it twice, gonna find out who’s naughty and nice…Santa Clause is coming town.” You’ve got the idea. This song usually put the proverbial fear of God into me. Threats, fear, conditions, don’t cry, don’t pout, don’t shout….for crying out loud, don’t even move! And fear was an adequate motivator for this little Spartan. My folks would use this tactic frequently starting about mid-November . “Remember, Christmas is coming.” I was a devotee of the contracted agreement: I behave, I do good things and I stay out of hot water, and voila…I get STUFF. Alas: The Santa “Clause”.

I suppose this psychology works well if you can be intimidated. And who better to intimidate than little kids! This bodes well for parents who need to get a little bit of mileage out of their slackened parenting skills. As a young parent, those words “Or else” could be used in restaurants, grocery stores, gramma’s house, church or just about anyplace that required a instant compliance. And then there was the issue of the lump of coal in the stocking. Need I say more?

This year, a few lucky friends received my humorous Christmas Card. (You know who you are). It is the adorable picture of little Johnny poised on Santa’s lap, penitently enlisting Santa’s ear for the yearly rundown of goodness or badness. The word bubble quips.....Define “good”.

Isn’t it ironic how we must first learn to do good. The Santa “Clause” starts to lose credibility around age 10 or so. We figure that even if we’ve been a little bad, Santa still comes through for us. We learned last year that little Emily down the street still scored that magnificent 10 speed bike even after she lathered the pet cocker spaniel in strawberry yogurt. As a matter of fact, my personal survey told me that not a single lump of coal was issued in the year 1972. You get my drift?

There is a gray area in our conscience formation if we are "Santa-as-sleigh-driver" believers turned Christ-Adorers. Where does this happen? Where do we cross the line? Somewhere between mistletoe and egg-nog? I think not. More sensibly, it is probably somewhere between pain and needfulness. And that, my friends, can come at any age or any season.

I don’t need rooty toot toots or rummy tum tums, curly head dolls that toddle and coo, elephants or boats or kiddy cars. I need a savior. I am a sinner. God made me good, but sometimes I’m downright BAD. I know what I deserve and it is something very much akin to a lump of coal. But no, the Amazing, Adorable, Lord of the Universe bestows upon me, a poor sinner, something unfathomable; something eons better than any kid in girl or boyland’s jubilee could fancy: An eternal endless day of joy, bliss and glory in the Presence of the One who loves me without condition, strings attached or threats of punishment. He loves me just because I am.

So the Santa “Clause” is a good earthy beginning perhaps, but it is only that. It is a manifestation of a gimmick in the world of toddlerdom that is meant to teach us that good things come to those who do good things. As an adult, we somehow appetize ourselves with the notion that if we do good, we’ll get heaven, but I think at our core, we realize that we need a lot more than what our deeds can buy. We need a personal savior. In fact, we want a personal savior. This want rests at the bosom of every human soul. His name is Holy One, Prince of Peace, Lord of Lords, The Alpha and the Omega. He really exists. He was born in a stable in Bethlehem to two very real people. He was their little “Yeshua”. He can be yours too – you need just ask.

Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night, when Christ was born.

There is no other place I’d rather be on this night than on my knees, thanking our adorable Lord.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Where I will be as a Counselor in 15 years...

I've just completed my 2nd class in my graduate school counseling program and the final question asked by Instructor Yost is below followed by my response. I thought it would be fitting to post here on the blog.

In light of emerging trends in psychotherapy, discuss what your life as a therapist may look like in 15 years. Describe the kinds of clients you may see, the ways you may practice!e, and the professional environment in which you may work.

Karen's Answer: (I will be 59 in 15 years, fyi)

Oh the times, they are a changin’…
Stolling through Costco the other day, I stumbled upon a nifty black leather studio sofa where one end of it could elevate making for a great napping cot. Reminded me of something Freudian, circa 1940, that could have been used by a highly respected psychotherapist! I think those days are behind us. What I do see in 15 short years is a society in great need of what psychology has to offer and a disheveled healthcare situation which will require creative genius to meet the demands of a growing and diverse population. (If you have Rosetta Stone-Spanish, now would be the time to learn it.)

Postmodern thinking has taken aim at the very institutions that once made our society what it is today: religion, marriage, family, a culture of life, the protection of the innocence of childhood, the protection & respect for the elderly, etc. As a result, we are nearing an age of advanced secularization, where abortion, rampant drug and alcohol abuse, objectification of the human person, euthanasia, loss of personal integrity and spirituality etc. will have caused a decay so great that we may be on the verge of a collective nervous break-down.

I do not like to be gloomy and do not claim to have any prophetic abilities whatsoever (whew!). That having been said, it’s just my speculation that we will be seeing more folks who are depressed, are lost, have lost hope, are isolated and are overwhelmed. We will be watching more people attempt to ruin their lives with drugs, alcohol and newly engineered chemicals. We will need to be able to think on our feet. The need will be great and the healthcare dollars will be in short supply. People will need to be able to have access to brief therapy and work in group settings. Clinicians will need to meet people “where they are” by offering more flexible plans, office hours and location options. The eclectics will be increasingly popular because there is a trend towards more community-oriented psychologies which may give rise to approaches that are more spirituality-based.

I think in 15 yrs, I will be very busy working with post-abortive men and women and those who are chemically dependent. I would like to continue to work on a pet project of mine that involves high school girls in Title I schools in AZ in helping them to experience their true beauty as human beings. I think it would be lovely to have a book deal worked out by then so that I can subsidize my counseling practice (said with tongue firmly implanted in cheek :-)). I will go wherever I'm supposed to go...that's the deal I worked out with my Higher Power.

Though I’ve painted a very grim picture, I do believe that in times like this, special people with unique talents are called to meet the challenges that are before us. I remain eager to be of service to those who suffer…that’s why I’ve always wanted to be a counselor in the first place; in season or out of season.

On that note, it’s been my pleasure to journey through the counseling theories with you. I have learned so much from all of you and have truly enjoyed reading your thoughtful posts. Honorable mention goes to Team Nickel…you guys rock. I hope to cross paths with all of you again soon.
Respectfully yours, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays…

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Fire of Advent

Fire of Advent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Edward Hays, A Pilgrim’s Almanac, p. 187

"Advent, like its cousin Lent, is a season for prayer and reformation of our hearts. Since it comes at winter time, fire is a fitting sign to help us celebrate Advent…If Christ is to come more fully into our lives this Christmas, if God is to become really incarnate for us, then fire will have to be present in our prayer. Our worship and devotion will have to stoke the kind of fire in our souls that can truly change our hearts. Ours is a great responsibility not to waste this Advent time."

Friday, November 27, 2009

It's Okay to Wish Me a Merry Christmas

Over 200,000 shoppers are wearing buttons this Christmas season that proclaim a straightforward message to retailers: "It's OK, Wish Me A Merry Christmas(tm)." Individuals and churches around the country are partnering with the Wish Me A Merry Christmas Campaign mobilizing advocates energized for a return to the traditional, convivial greeting, bearing buttons that make a clear statement - "It's OK, Wish Me A Merry Christmas(tm) (". Over 200,000 of these buttons have been distributed nationally.

With over 200,000 buttons on the streets and in stores this year, local store associates are likely to be presented with the opportunity to deviate from the corporate holiday wishing policy of top retailers like the Gap and Best Buy, and stealthily wish their customer "Merry Christmas" instead of the generic "Happy Holidays". But since 96% of Americans celebrate Christmas (Gallup Poll, 2004), it's likely that the store cashiers would prefer to wish their customers "Merry Christmas" as well. In fact 88% of Americans state that "It's okay to wish 'Merry Christmas'." (Gallup Poll).


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Tomorrow, I:

Go to the mall to shop and spend money to help our economy

Rise early so that I can read multiple pages on cognitive therapy

Run 3 miles to make up for the gravy, stuffing, mashed taters, chocolates and tiramisu

Take the Labrador since she did the same

Buy Christmas (yes I did say CHRISTmas cards) cards

Eat leftovers

But today, I GIVE THANKS!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Try this for a week and you'll be surprised...

The way to happiness: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry. Live simply, expect little, give much. Fill your life with love. Scatter Sunshine. Forget self, think of others. Do as you would be done by.

(From The Power of Positive Thinking, N.V. Peale)

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Manhattan Declaration - Please add your name


Re: The Manhattan Declaration

November 20, 2009

The Most Rev. Thomas J. Olmsted, Bishop of Phoenix, has signed the Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience, which was released today. This document crafted by Christian religious leaders affirms the sanctity of human life from the moment of conception, upholds the dignity of marriage as being between one man and one woman, and supports the continuing struggle for religious liberty and rights of conscience. The Manhattan Declaration was released today in a nationwide effort to enlist the support of all Christians for these fundamental values on which the United States was founded.

“As Catholics, we seek to be good citizens of our country and faithful members of the Church. Thus, we respect the human dignity of everyone, including people of different faiths, or no faith at all,” Bishop Olmsted said. “Not only do we gladly embrace our identity as followers of Christ and seek to put our faith into practice in public life, but we also join with others of good will in this privilege and duty. I am especially pleased when we can join with other Christians in promoting and defending vital issues of our day, which have come under increasing attack. The Manhattan Declaration provides an avenue for those who hold moral principles, based on the Bible and traditional Christian teaching, to speak with a united voice for the good of our nation, including its most vulnerable citizens. I invite all Catholics of our Diocese to go to the website and to express your support for this Declaration.”

Those interested in supporting the declaration or getting more information on this national effort can go to the Manhattan Declaration website at:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Blood Money Trailer...a must see

Recently I was listening to some statistics on the Dennis Prager show about the number of service men and women who have died fighting the War on Terror in Iraq. Please don't misunderstand...any soldier who dies in combat is a tragic loss and a hero in my estimation. The number, which the left deemed unacceptable was somewhere under 900 over the past 7 years. Tragic losses, yes. Exhorbitant...hmmm let's think this through...

3500 Americans killed per day...would this be a horror?
1.2 million humans killed intentionally each year? Unthinkable?
How about 50 million casualties and counting since 1973 in a war that HAS NO EXIT STRATEGY YET... fed up?

These are statistically valid quantities of little humans that die from the horror called Abortion. If you are not for the right to live, then what else is there to be "for"?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Before I formed you in the womb, I KNEW you

Some extraordinary footage you won't want to miss from our friends at the Human Development Foundation...

Black Genocide in 21st Century America

The claim is that the abortion issue is
about privacy, and women’s rights,
and reproductive freedom.
But that’s just marketing hype.
In reality, it was EUGENICS that drove
the legalization of abortion. And now,
a stunning new movie lays it all out
with incredible documentation.
The film is called Maafa 21 and
it exposes a plan to create “racial
purity” that began 150 years ago and
is still being carried out right now. It’s
about the ties between the Nazis, the
American eugenics movement and
today’s “family planning” cartel.
It’s about elitism, secret agendas,
treachery and corruption at the
highest levels of political and
corporate America.
Maafa 21 will show you things the
media has been hiding and politicians
don’t want you to know. So if you’re
ready to see the real agenda behind
“choice,” fasten your seatbelts ...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Mirasola and the Good News

LeeAnne and I ventured off the beaten path of our Sidewalk Counseling Ministry (Facing Abortion) last Tuesday to do a little "Recon" work. We decided to scope out some other dusty trails and visit some abortion clinics in the east valley to get an idea of different approaches that are undertaken and how to actually reach the women that are visiting these "clinics". We also visited our friends over in Tempe at Aid to Women's Center - the good guys that operate a crisis pregnancy center and serves the greater community of Arizona State University. A busy place indeed.

We struck up a lively conversation with three gentlemen from Holy Spirit Parish who were on the sidewalk three days per week praying and spreading the good message of life to those who will listen. My hat is off to these men; rare it is to see guys over 50 out there on the streets doing this kind of work. They wore matching shirts and straw brimmed hats and were full of JOY. As we talked, a burgundy SUV pulled up and the woman driver motioned for me to come closer. She shouted out "Are you here to protest abortion?" To which I replied, "yes". She responded to me: "7 months ago, I came to this Planned Parenthood office to get an abortion, and one of those men over there talked me out of it. I came here last week to thank them but they were gone. I'm back today and I brought my 7 month old son to show them that they saved his life."

She came back to say thanks. (I am instantly transported to the gospel passage where one of the ten lepers returns to do the same.) I motion for our new friends to come over to the vehicle. Troy sat in the back seat. He was all smiles, chubby cheeks and motion. We were all beaming: the straw-hatted men, LeeAnne, Mirasola-the new mommy, Troy and me.

Transported to joy. Joy is that feeling we get when we are truly experiencing God's eager goodness. We get to be transported when we put our will and our lives into His care. We experience it in so many music, in poetry, in love, in gratitude and most especially in service. Sometimes, I think we also get to glimpse a bit of God's gratitude if we stick around long enough. This is joy.

Past the seeker, as he prayed, came the crippled and the beggar and the beaten. And seeing them the holy one went down into deep prayer and cried, "Great God, how is it that a loving creator can see such things and yet do nothing about them?"

And out of the long silence, God said: "I did do something about them. I made you." (Corrigan, Disciple Story)

Go be about the service of God today. And be transported to joy.

Ever have one of THOSE days?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Knots aren't such bad things

God in heaven holds each person by a string. When you sin, you cut the string. Then God ties it up again, making a knot - and therby bringing you a little closer to Him. Again and again your sins cut the string - and with each further knot, God keeps drawing you closer and closer.

(One Minute Wisdom, Anthony DeMello)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The New Catholic Manliness

An article so worth reading by Todd M. Aglialoro

The Catholic Church makes men.... Of such she may also someday make soldiers.

Hilaire Belloc

It is a source of no small irony that, even as radical feminists within and without the Church have railed for two generations against patriarchy and phallocentrism, it can be quite plausibly said that the post-conciliar Church in this country has, for all intents and purposes, been run by women.

Consider a Sunday in the life of a typical American parish. Father Reilly, once his mother's darling, says Mass before a congregation disproportionately representative of widows (both the traditional and the football kind), soccer moms flying solo, and budding young liturgistas. At the elevation of the Host, extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist (80-20 female) and altar servettes gather around the sanctuary to lend him moral support. ...

Jack and Squat

Spartans Down Wolverines...Again

The fall has come
By Matt Bishop
(Last updated: 22 hours ago)

More than four hours after the game ended Saturday afternoon, the Spartan Stadium scoreboard still lit up the night sky.

Matt Bishop
Spartans 26, Michigan 20.

With one incredible Larry Caper touchdown run, a season on the brink was saved and a rivalry officially became competitive again.

Indeed, pride comes before the fall.

Mark Dantonio uttered those now-famous words days after losing to U-M in 2007, a crushing loss during which the Spartans surrendered a 10-point lead in the final seven minutes and extended U-M’s series winning streak to six.

Since, the same old Spartans have been nowhere to be found against the Wolverines.

Saturday, MSU showed the fire, intensity and will to win that was missing in losses to Central Michigan and Wisconsin. And the Spartans clearly were more driven and motivated than the Wolverines, who played like they thought they could walk into Spartan Stadium and win without a fight.

Simply put, the Spartans wanted it more. And they set the tone before the game even started.

Junior safety Roderick Jenrette and a U-M player bumped into each other in the north end zone as Jenrette ran onto the field. The two exchanged words, foreshadowing what was to come — the Spartans punching the Wolverines right in the mouth.

MSU controlled the action at the line of scrimmage, rushing for 197 yards, including 75 from sophomore quarterback Kirk Cousins, as he threw his body all over the field in a gutsy effort.

Cousins helped engineer a tone-setting first quarter drive that spanned 17 plays, 80 yards and more than 10 minutes. Officially, the drive went down as 80 yards, but because of four penalties (some of which I found to be illegitimate), MSU gained 130 yards of total offense during the possession. The drive was a sign of things to come, as MSU nearly doubled the Wolverines in time of possession, allowing the defense to remain well-rested.

Helped by the offense dominating the clock, the defense, which has been less than stellar this season, held U-M to 28 yards on the ground, 212.2 yards below its season average. Even after struggling in the final minutes as U-M frantically scrambled to tie the game, the defense redeemed itself in overtime as senior safety Danny Fortener and junior cornerback Chris L. Rucker combined to intercept U-M quarterback Tate Forcier in the end zone, allowing the Spartans to simply kick a field goal if need be to win the game.

Instead, Caper, a freshman from Battle Creek, broke through the Wolverines defense, escaped two tackles and ran into the end zone, giving MSU a season-saving 26-20 win.

With the win, the Spartans definitively have set a new tone for the rivalry — one of potential MSU dominance — under Dantonio by playing with unmatched focus and intensity.

To U-M head coach Rich Rodriguez, playing MSU is just another game on the schedule. To Dantonio, his staff and players, this game means everything.

The play of both teams Saturday reflected this and probably will continue to do so in the future.

More importantly for the immediate future, the Spartans showed major signs of life heading into games with hapless Illinois and Northwestern and a third straight trip to a bowl game doesn’t appear to be as out of sight as it did this time last week.

While the season marches on, there’s nothing wrong in taking a little more time to bask in the light of a 26-20 victory.

_Matt Bishop is a State News football reporter. He can be reached at

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Benjamin Netanyahu's Address to the United Nations

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Nearly 62 years ago, the United Nations recognized the right of the Jews, an ancient people 3,500 years-old, to a state of their own in their ancestral homeland.

I stand here today as the Prime Minister of Israel, the Jewish state, and I speak to you on behalf of my country and my people.

The United Nations was founded after the carnage of World War II and the horrors of the Holocaust. It was charged with preventing the recurrence of such horrendous events.

Nothing has undermined that central mission more than the systematic assault on the truth. Yesterday the President of Iran stood at this very podium, spewing his latest anti-Semitic rants. Just a few days earlier, he again claimed that the Holocaust is a lie.

Last month, I went to a villa in a suburb of Berlin called Wannsee. There, on January 20, 1942, after a hearty meal, senior Nazi officials met and decided how to exterminate the Jewish people. The detailed minutes of that meeting have been preserved by successive German governments. Here is a copy of those minutes, in which the Nazis issued precise instructions on how to carry out the extermination of the Jews. Is this a lie?

A day before I was in Wannsee, I was given in Berlin the original construction plans for the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Those plans are signed by Hitler's deputy, Heinrich Himmler himself. Here is a copy of the plans for Auschwitz-Birkenau, where one million Jews were murdered. Is this too a lie?

This June, President Obama visited the Buchenwald concentration camp. Did President Obama pay tribute to a lie?

And what of the Auschwitz survivors whose arms still bear the tattooed numbers branded on them by the Nazis? Are those tattoos a lie? One-third of all Jews perished in the conflagration. Nearly every Jewish family was affected, including my own. My wife's grandparents, her father's two sisters and three brothers, and all the aunts, uncles and cousins were all murdered by the Nazis. Is that also a lie?

Yesterday, the man who calls the Holocaust a lie spoke from this podium. To those who refused to come here and to those who left this room in protest, I commend you. You stood up for moral clarity and you brought honor to your countries.

But to those who gave this Holocaust-denier a hearing, I say on behalf of my people, the Jewish people, and decent people everywhere: Have you no shame? Have you no decency?

A mere six decades after the Holocaust, you give legitimacy to a man who denies that the murder of six million Jews took place and pledges to wipe out the Jewish state.

What a disgrace! What a mockery of the charter of the United Nations! Perhaps some of you think that this man and his odious regime threaten only the Jews. You're wrong.

History has shown us time and again that what starts with attacks on the Jews eventually ends up engulfing many others.

This Iranian regime is fueled by an extreme fundamentalism that burst onto the world scene three decades ago after lying dormant for centuries. In the past thirty years, this fanaticism has swept the globe with a murderous violence and cold-blooded impartiality in its choice of victims. It has callously slaughtered Moslems and Christians, Jews and Hindus, and many others. Though it is comprised of different offshoots, the adherents of this unforgiving creed seek to return humanity to medieval times.

Wherever they can, they impose a backward regimented society where women, minorities, gays or anyone not deemed to be a true believer is brutally subjugated. The struggle against this fanaticism does not pit faith against faith nor civilization against civilization.

It pits civilization against barbarism, the 21st century against the 9th century, those who sanctify life against those who glorify death.

The primitivism of the 9th century ought to be no match for the progress of the 21st century. The allure of freedom, the power of technology, the reach of communications should surely win the day. Ultimately, the past cannot triumph over the future. And the future offers all nations magnificent bounties of hope. The pace of progress is growing exponentially.

It took us centuries to get from the printing press to the telephone, decades to get from the telephone to the personal computer, and only a few years to get from the personal computer to the internet.

What seemed impossible a few years ago is already outdated, and we can scarcely fathom the changes that are yet to come. We will crack the genetic code. We will cure the incurable. We will lengthen our lives. We will find a cheap alternative to fossil fuels and clean up the planet.

I am proud that my country Israel is at the forefront of these advances – by leading innovations in science and technology, medicine and biology, agriculture and water, energy and the environment. These innovations the world over offer humanity a sunlit future of unimagined promise.

But if the most primitive fanaticism can acquire the most deadly weapons, the march of history could be reversed for a time. And like the belated victory over the Nazis, the forces of progress and freedom will prevail only after an horrific toll of blood and fortune has been exacted from mankind. That is why the greatest threat facing the world today is the marriage between religious fanaticism and the weapons of mass destruction.

The most urgent challenge facing this body is to prevent the tyrants of Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Are the member states of the United Nations up to that challenge? Will the international community confront a despotism that terrorizes its own people as they bravely stand up for freedom?

Will it take action against the dictators who stole an election in broad daylight and gunned down Iranian protesters who died in the streets choking in their own blood? Will the international community thwart the world's most pernicious sponsors and practitioners of terrorism?

Above all, will the international community stop the terrorist regime of Iran from developing atomic weapons, thereby endangering the peace of the entire world?

The people of Iran are courageously standing up to this regime. People of goodwill around the world stand with them, as do the thousands who have been protesting outside this hall. Will the United Nations stand by their side?

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The jury is still out on the United Nations, and recent signs are not encouraging. Rather than condemning the terrorists and their Iranian patrons, some here have condemned their victims. That is exactly what a recent UN report on Gaza did, falsely equating the terrorists with those they targeted.

For eight long years, Hamas fired from Gaza thousands of missiles, mortars and rockets on nearby Israeli cities. Year after year, as these missiles were deliberately hurled at our civilians, not a single UN resolution was passed condemning those criminal attacks. We heard nothing – absolutely nothing – from the UN Human Rights Council, a misnamed institution if there ever was one.

In 2005, hoping to advance peace, Israel unilaterally withdrew from every inch of Gaza. It dismantled 21 settlements and uprooted over 8,000 Israelis. We didn't get peace. Instead we got an Iranian backed terror base fifty miles from Tel Aviv. Life in Israeli towns and cities next to Gaza became a nightmare. You see, the Hamas rocket attacks not only continued, they increased tenfold. Again, the UN was silent.

Finally, after eight years of this unremitting assault, Israel was finally forced to respond. But how should we have responded? Well, there is only one example in history of thousands of rockets being fired on a country's civilian population. It happened when the Nazis rocketed British cities during World War II. During that war, the allies leveled German cities, causing hundreds of thousands of casualties. Israel chose to respond differently. Faced with an enemy committing a double war crime of firing on civilians while hiding behind civilians – Israel sought to conduct surgical strikes against the rocket launchers.

That was no easy task because the terrorists were firing missiles from homes and schools, using mosques as weapons depots and ferreting explosives in ambulances. Israel, by contrast, tried to minimize casualties by urging Palestinian civilians to vacate the targeted areas.

We dropped countless flyers over their homes, sent thousands of text messages and called thousands of cell phones asking people to leave. Never has a country gone to such extraordinary lengths to remove the enemy's civilian population from harm's way.

Yet faced with such a clear case of aggressor and victim, who did the UN Human Rights Council decide to condemn? Israel. A democracy legitimately defending itself against terror is morally hanged, drawn and quartered, and given an unfair trial to boot.

By these twisted standards, the UN Human Rights Council would have dragged Roosevelt and Churchill to the dock as war criminals. What a perversion of truth. What a perversion of justice.

Delegates of the United Nations,

Will you accept this farce?

Because if you do, the United Nations would revert to its darkest days, when the worst violators of human rights sat in judgment against the law-abiding democracies, when Zionism was equated with racism and when an automatic majority could declare that the earth is flat.

If this body does not reject this report, it would send a message to terrorists everywhere: Terror pays; if you launch your attacks from densely populated areas, you will win immunity. And in condemning Israel, this body would also deal a mortal blow to peace. Here's why.

When Israel left Gaza, many hoped that the missile attacks would stop. Others believed that at the very least, Israel would have international legitimacy to exercise its right of self-defense. What legitimacy? What self-defense?

The same UN that cheered Israel as it left Gaza and promised to back our right of self-defense now accuses us –my people, my country – of war crimes? And for what? For acting responsibly in self-defense. What a travesty!

Israel justly defended itself against terror. This biased and unjust report is a clear-cut test for all governments. Will you stand with Israel or will you stand with the terrorists?

We must know the answer to that question now. Now and not later. Because if Israel is again asked to take more risks for peace, we must know today that you will stand with us tomorrow. Only if we have the confidence that we can defend ourselves can we take further risks for peace.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

All of Israel wants peace.

Any time an Arab leader genuinely wanted peace with us, we made peace. We made peace with Egypt led by Anwar Sadat. We made peace with Jordan led by King Hussein. And if the Palestinians truly want peace, I and my government, and the people of Israel, will make peace. But we want a genuine peace, a defensible peace, a permanent peace. In 1947, this body voted to establish two states for two peoples – a Jewish state and an Arab state. The Jews accepted that resolution. The Arabs rejected it.

We ask the Palestinians to finally do what they have refused to do for 62 years: Say yes to a Jewish state. Just as we are asked to recognize a nation-state for the Palestinian people, the Palestinians must be asked to recognize the nation state of the Jewish people. The Jewish people are not foreign conquerors in the Land of Israel. This is the land of our forefathers.

Inscribed on the walls outside this building is the great Biblical vision of peace: "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation. They shall learn war no more." These words were spoken by the Jewish prophet Isaiah 2,800 years ago as he walked in my country, in my city, in the hills of Judea and in the streets of Jerusalem.

We are not strangers to this land. It is our homeland. As deeply connected as we are to this land, we recognize that the Palestinians also live there and want a home of their own. We want to live side by side with them, two free peoples living in peace, prosperity and dignity.

But we must have security. The Palestinians should have all the powers to govern themselves except those handful of powers that could endanger Israel.

That is why a Palestinian state must be effectively demilitarized. We don't want another Gaza, another Iranian backed terror base abutting Jerusalem and perched on the hills a few kilometers from Tel Aviv.

We want peace.

I believe such a peace can be achieved. But only if we roll back the forces of terror, led by Iran, that seek to destroy peace, eliminate Israel and overthrow the world order. The question facing the international community is whether it is prepared to confront those forces or accommodate them.

Over seventy years ago, Winston Churchill lamented what he called the "confirmed unteachability of mankind," the unfortunate habit of civilized societies to sleep until danger nearly overtakes them.

Churchill bemoaned what he called the "want of foresight, the unwillingness to act when action will be simple and effective, the lack of clear thinking, the confusion of counsel until emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong."

I speak here today in the hope that Churchill's assessment of the "unteachibility of mankind" is for once proven wrong.

I speak here today in the hope that we can learn from history -- that we can prevent danger in time.

In the spirit of the timeless words spoken to Joshua over 3,000 years ago, let us be strong and of good courage. Let us confront this peril, secure our future and, God willing, forge an enduring peace for generations to come.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

School kids taught to praise Obama

May God Render You Speechless

The disciples were absorbed in a discussion of the dictum:

Those who know, do not say;
Those who say, do not know.

When the Master entered, they asked him what the words meant.

Said the Master, "Which of you knows the fragrance of a rose?"

All of them knew.

Then he said, "Put it into words."

All of them were silent.

--The Spirituality of Imperfection, Ernest Kurtz

Monday, September 21, 2009

Saints of Endurance, Hasten to Help Us

Ever see this before? It was new to me as I was browsing the internet looking for stock images of grimacing/scowling runners. It's a bit ironic - don't you think - that I found this when I was looking for something grim and sweaty! I have now decided to adopt it as my own personal running creed since as I convey a little story of endurance that goes with it.

About a year and a half ago, a woman that I know from church was quite literally run over by a truck as she was doing her daily run. She was caught underneath the vehicle and dragged as it was turning a corner. By the grace of God, she managed to hang on through the turn to avoid being crushed by the tires. By all accounts, Kathryn is lucky to be alive. Her initial prognosis was that she may not ever be able to walk again. Kathryn underwent many months of skin grafts, surgeries and physical therapy and now walks among us as a symbol of hope and healing. I got to know Kathryn personally through the tragedy as I was one of many people bringing her daily Holy Communion. Kathryn was upheld by the Eucharist and sustained through her recovery through her faith and adherence to the sacraments. A powerful witness to an age where everything turns on the idiom, do it yourself. Kathryn endured because she trusted and she asked for help.

Contrary to common logic, I started running as a result of Kathryn's accident. I figured if she couldn't participate in her passion while she recovered, I would do it for her. Lord knows, I am no runner. Best I could do at first was run around a small block. I offered up each day's jog to her continued healing and asked my personal saints to get me through it. And they did. For about the first month it was agony...then it got a little easier. I lengthened out my distance. One block; then one block plus another road; then another; then another block. I used to make fun of the runner's and their agonizing grimaces. Gluttons for punishment, I called them. Just look at them - in all their inglorious pain: the anti-advertisement for physical fitness. I now have a different understanding. Yes, it's painful when you're cramping, sweating and not properly stretched out. But I've come to learn that if I take proper precautions, (hydrate beforehand, stretch properly, pace myself,) the run can be smooth, and beautiful even though it is physically taxing. Then there's the after-affect. Those glorious endorphines! Natural little chemical sweethearts that make you feel all serene inside.

So how does it happen that something that I decide to take on as a sacrifice, ends up doing me such good. Ah, there's the rub! Endurance running is such a metaphor for the interior life. Hydrating might be equated to staying close to the life-giving sacraments, our source of hope and strength. We stretch out physically to limber up stiff muscles and tired ligaments so that we avoid injury and have the capacity to go the distance. Spiritual stretching is similar: we have to extend ourselves mentally and spiritually to be able to see and think and act more according to God's precepts rather than self. Pacing and tempo are is not a sprint, it's a marathon. Start slow and regulate your breathing. There are places to pick up the pace and places to really slow down and rest. Spiritually, aren't there times in life where we are challenged to dig out the uphill path? Plan accordingly.

I now average about a 3-mile run per day and I ran my first 4.5 mile run Saturday. I still ask my saints to run with me for I believe it is this great cloud of witnesses that keep me sustained. I find that my runs provide new inspiration and creativity. Running helps to decrease depression, lower cholesterol, keep weight down, decrease hypertension and blood pressure. Many a blog-post have originated on this path. I find that' I don t run for a way out, I run for a way "in".

Don't know where to begin? Find some Saints of Endurance. The church has literally thousands of them. If you want, you can borrow mine:

Our Lady of Mount Carmel
St. Theresa of Avila
St. John of the Cross
St. Therese of Liseux
St. Mary Magdalene
St. Joseph
St. George
St. Michael the Archangel
St. Monica
St. Augustine
Guardian Angel (pray for me, protect me and guide me to heaven)

*Editor's Note Regarding Sweat Equity*
I realize that some of you may have absolutely no willingness or desire to begin or even to consider a running program, nor should you, particularly if you suffer from cardio-vascular disease or are restricted from physical activity in any way. My challenge to you is this: To what "hard-to-do" passion do I owe a bit of sweat that would ultimately help me to foster the virtue of endurance? Perhaps you sew, paint, blog, write music, perform generous acts of kindness, work on difficult relationships? There just might be a training table with your name on it.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


(Ok, so they lost against the Fighting Irish. I know, I know)

Nay, not to trivialize my poor Spartans... We are usually outnumbered, outrun, outpassed, outsized, outgunned but never outCLASSED. Better luck next week.

Sheesh, has it been almost a month since my last post? I have many good excuses which include but are not limited to: Moving to new house Sep 1; Raising Teenager and his soon-to-be-teenager sidekick, Starting my graduate work at Grand Canyon University (oddly, also Sep 1); and a few other side projects. So really, this is more "madness" than Sparta, but who's counting?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Human Life International's Statement on the Passing of Senator Edward Kennedy

"We must, as a matter of precept, pray for the salvation of heretical Catholics like Senator Edward Kennedy, but we do not have to praise him let alone extol him with the full honors of a public Catholic funeral and all the adulation that attends such an event. There was very little about Ted Kennedy's life that deserves admiration from a spiritual or moral point of view. He was probably the worst example of a Catholic statesman that one can think of. When all is said and done, he has distorted the concept of what it means to be a Catholic in public life more than anyone else in leadership today.

Obviously we don't know the state of Senator Edward Kennedy's soul upon death. We don't pretend to. We are told by the family that he had the opportunity to confess his sins before a priest, and his priest has said publicly he was "at peace" when he died. For that we are grateful. But it is one thing to confess one's sins and for these matters to be kept, rightfully, private. It is another thing entirely for one who so consistently and publicly advocated for the destruction of unborn human beings to depart the stage without a public repudiation of these views, a public confession, as it were.

It is up to God to judge Senator Kennedy's soul. We, as rational persons, must judge his actions, and his actions were not at all in line with one who values and carefully applies Church teaching on weighty matters. Ted Kennedy's positions on a variety of issues have been a grave scandal for decades, and to honor this "catholic" champion of the culture of death with a Catholic funeral is unjust to those who have actually paid the price of fidelity. We now find out that President Obama will eulogize the Senator at his funeral, an indignity which, following on the heels of the Notre Dame fiasco, leaves faithful Catholics feeling sullied, desecrated and dehumanized by men who seem to look for opportunities to slap the Church in the face and do so with impunity simply because they have positions of power.

It is not enough for Kennedy to have been a "great guy behind the scenes" as we have seen him referred to even by his political opponents. It is also not praiseworthy to put a Catholic rhetorical veneer on his leftist politics that did nothing to advance true justice as the Church sees it or to advance the peace of Christ in this world. Every indication of Senator Kennedy's career, every public appearance, every sound bite showed an acerbic, divisive and partisan political hack for whom party politics were much more infallible than Church doctrines. Whatever one's political affiliation, if one is only "Catholic" to the extent that his faith rhymes with his party line, then his Catholicism is a fraud.

As the Scriptures remind us, there is a time for everything under the sun. This, now, is the time for honesty about our Faith and about those who are called to express it in the public forum. If we do not remind ourselves of the necessity of public confession for public sins such as Senator Kennedy was guilty of, then we are negligent in our embrace of the Faith and we are part of the problem. As Pope Benedict has reminded us recently, charity without truth can easily become mere sentimentality, and we must not fall into that error. A Catholic show of charity for the family must not eclipse the truth that is required of all with eyes to see and ears to hear.

Senator Kennedy needs to be sent to the afterlife with a private, family-only funeral and the prayers of the Church for the salvation of his immortal soul. He will not be missed by the unborn who he betrayed time and time again, nor by the rest of us who are laboring to undo the scandalous example of Catholicism that he gave to three generations of Americans."


Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer,
President, Human Life International

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Parenting: The Path of Most Resistance

The first evidence that I was really taking this pregnancy/parenting thing seriously was my reading of a book entitled: "What to Expect When You're Expecting". I eagerly digested every morsel. Remember those tomes? They sequeled them out to "What to expect in the first Year; What to Expect of the First Bowel Movement.....the First Tooth. get the drill. I've decided that I will offer my wisdom and experience to the next iteration of the "What to Expect" series as I have discovered that they are missing an entire segment of the life cycle: The Teenager. Here are some possible Chapter sketches.

Birth Announcement for Baby: "We're expecting a Baby! We're registered at Pottery Barn for Kids, Toys R Us, Kids R Us (or just send a check). Baby shower will be _______. We will play silly games and guess the gender FOR HOURS. If this is not fun enough, we will eat a great deal of food & punch containing carbs and sugar so that you will not be able to function for the rest of your day. "

Birth Announcement for Teen: "We're expecting that our child may grow up but we are not sure when or into what. We are registering with many colleges in hopes that he will make it into one of them. It cost $50 a pop so if you can send money, that would be great. We're having a graduation party on ________ where we will sit around and play games and guess what he will do for the rest of his life FOR HOURS. If this is not fun enough, we will eat a great deal of food and punch (which we hope Junior won't spike), so that you might be able to function the next day."

Nesting Habit for Baby: Happy parents transform spare room into a welcome place for new baby replete with teddybears, sailboats and soft colors named after food items like "melon", "lime" and "butter". Gentle fabric puffy creatures adorn walls and mobiles with chimey sounds hint a simple lullaby. I proudly hang a pastel crucifix over the crib for special blessings on baby. The environment smells of fresh powder.

Nesting Habit for Teen: Catatonic parents shudder to learn that bedroom has been turned into a den of bats featuring actual guano-like substance stuck on desk (don't ask). There might actually be melon, lime or butter under his dresser. I think the color of paint is 'scuffmark' beige. Che Guavara, Vladimir Lenin and the Flaming Lips posters adorn the walls making it look like a fool's holiday. There is a challenging feng shui notion going on as there is fire in one corner and water in another. I hang a St. Benedict Cross under his bed and sprinkle the room with holy water. It smells....bad.

Lamasz Class: Expectant parents bring pillows and nervously tell each other to calm down and BREATHE.

Substance Abuse Class for Teen who just got caught: Angry parents bring notebooks to class and nervously tell each other to calm down and BREATHE. This technique also applies to Driver's Education and/or Rock Band Recitals.

First Trimester Mom of Baby: "I am sooooo sick"
First Trimester Mom of Teen: "I am soooo sick of this kid"
Second Trimester Mom of Baby: "Was that a kick?"
Second Trimester Mom of Teen: "Would you like a swift kick in the rear end?"
Third Timester Mom of Baby final Push: "Get it out."
Third Trimester Mom of Teen final Expulsion: "Get out."

There is screaming, then there is silence.


The baby comes out all fat, wrinkly and slimy.

The parents end up all fat, wrinkly and sweaty.

But our story does not end here. Oh no. Let us fast forward several years from now to a special place in the future. Remember that powdery fresh room? It now has been decorated by my son and his wife. I now understand God's punchline: a parent's greatest revenge is the arrival of his or her grandchild. Through a wry smile I quote scripture to my reconverted son: "Vengence is mine, I will repay".

Monday, August 24, 2009

Be a Child of God

"Whatever did not fit in with my plan

did not lie within the plan of God.

I have an ever deeper and firmer belief

that nothing is merely an accident

when seen in the light of God,

that my whole life, down to the smallest details

has been marked out for me

in the plan of Divine Providence

and has a completely coherent meaning

in God's all seeing eyes.

"To be a child of God,

that means to be led by the hand of God,

to do the Will of God, not one's own will,

to place every care and every hope in the Hand of God

and not worry about one's future.

On this rests the freedom and the joy of the child of God.

But how few of even the truly pious,

even of those ready for heroic sacrifices, possess this freedom.

"When night comes, and you look back over the day

and see how fragmentary everything has been,

and how much you planned that has gone undone,

and all the reasons you have to be embarrassed and ashamed:

just take everything exactly as it is,

put it in God's hands and leave it with Him.

Then you will be able to rest - really rest -

and start the next day as a new life."

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, OCD (Edith Stein)

October 12, 1891 - August 9, 1942

From Catholic Online:
Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)Virgin and Martyr Edith Stein, born in 1891 in Breslau, Poland, was the youngest child of a large Jewish family. She was an outstanding student and was well versed in philosophy with a particular interest in phenomenology. Eventually she became interested in the Catholic Faith, and in 1922, she was baptized at the Cathedral Church in Cologne, Germany. Eleven years later Edith entered the Cologne Carmel. Because of the ramifications of politics in Germany, Edith, whose name in religion was Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, was sent to the Carmel at Echt, Holland. When the Nazis conquered Holland, Teresa was arrested, and, with her sister Rose, was sent to the concentration camp at Auschwitz. Teresa died in the gas chambers of Auschwitz in 1942 at the age of fifty-one. In 1987, she was beatified in the Cologne cathedral by Pope John Paul II. Out of the unspeakable human suffering caused by the Nazis in western Europe in the 1930's and 1940's, there blossomed the beautiful life of dedication, consecration, prayer, fasting, and penance of Saint Teresa. Even though her life was snuffed out by the satanic evil of genocide, her memory stands as a light undimmed in the midst of evil, darkness, and suffering. She was canonized on October 11, 1998.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Scot Free?

Dear Gordon Brown: What may start out as a letter "Dear Muammar"...

Will end with the reality that there are still 270 dead people.

Gordon Brown in new storm over freed Lockerbie bomber

Friday, August 21, 2009




Just in case you were wondering...this is what happens when good people fail to do the right thing.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Lions and Tigers and Liturgy, oh my!

This article says it all and says it well. Thank you Arlene Oost-Zinner and Jeffrey Tucker of Inside Catholic.

Boredom during the liturgy is something all Catholics have felt from time to time, and it's never justifiable. No matter how mundane the architecture, how dull the homily, or how bad the music, what's taking place on the altar is a miraculous sacrifice that gives us the grace for salvation. That reality should be enough to keep our attention.

And yet boredom is a reality that good liturgy can help fight. Many parishes try to do so by inventing every manner of new enticement: brighter and larger banners, forced attempts to create an upbeat environment of friendliness and community, big bowls of incense carried by special ministers, and Donahue-style homiletics.

The attempt to jazz up the liturgy usually takes the form of musical enhancements and nearly always means more instruments and rhythms drawn from popular music. The rationale isn't complicated. Liturgists are frustrated that people don't get as excited about religion as they do about the pop divas and music videos, and they conclude that they need ever more musical pyrotechnics to make the difference.

But these approaches often backfire since the argument for them is flawed at its root. Community feeling and fun are fine, but if the liturgy doesn't offer a setting conducive to prayer and the contemplation of eternal mysteries, it has failed its first aesthetic aim.
Keep reading...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

An Eagle in a Chicken Suit

A man found an eagle's egg and put it in a nest of a barnyard hen. The eaglet hatched with the brood of chicks and grew up with them.

All his life the eagle did what the barnyard chicks did, thinking he was a barnyard chicken. He scratched the earth for worms and insects. He clucked and cackled. And he would thrash his wings and fly a few feet into the air.

Years passed and the eagle grew very old. One day he saw a magnificent bird above him in the cloudless sky. It glided in graceful majesty among the powerful wind currents with scarcely a beat of its strong golden wings.

The old eagle looked up in awe. "Who's that?" he asked.

"That's the eagle, the king of the birds," said his neighbor. "He belongs to the sky. We belong to the earth - we're chickens." So the eagle lived and died a chicken, for that's what he thought he was.

This story by Anthony De Mello has always captivated and frustrated my imagination. The good news of it is that we all possess unrealized potential in our "eagle-ness". The other good news is that we get to learn how to FLY! The bad news is that we will undoubtedly fall on our beaks a few times and this will cause pain. It is invaribly more difficult to learn things as an adult than as small children. As children, we are molded as soft clay in the potter's hands while spinning around in circles; as adults, we are chiseled with the sharp tools of the sculptor as we sit watching the bits fly off...

Speaking of watching bits flying off...Happy 50th Birthday to my brother, Brian in Missouri. You rock, old timer! AARP will be calling any day now....lucky you.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Capital Idea!

Michigan has had its share of foul luck in the last few decades and I'm not just talking about the, uh, I mean, Lions. Looks like the fickle finger of fate has just changed directions however and could be that the pleasant penninsula is poised to make history if the folks on capital hill have their way.

The Obama administration is considering a maximum-security state prison set to close in northeast Michigan as a possible site to house suspected terrorists, Sen. Carl Levin said Sunday. The Standish Maximum Correctional Facility, which has enough room for 600 prisoners and provides the community with roughly 300 jobs, could be one of the locations for a heavily guarded site to hold the 229 suspected al-Qaida, Taliban and foreign fighters now jailed at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba.

If the proposed hybrid prison -- a courtroom-within-a-prison complex -- heads to Standish, it could create a boon for a state struggling with a 15.2 percent unemployment rate, the highest in the United States, and an area heavily dependent on corrections for its economy.
So I say, PILE ON! If we're going to do this deal, let's do it up right and trade US capital for car capital. We'll give everyone in the motor city the option to move to DC while we move the seat of the US government over to Detroit. Capital idea! Pentagon could fit nicely in the Ren Cen/Joe Louis/Cobo Hall Compound. Fisher Theater could seat congress. I'm sure there are plenty of abandoned factories and foundries that could house Homeland Security, National Archives, Judicial Branch. Pretty sure there's some nice real estate left in Dearborn for the White House (Old Fairlane Mall?) . Don't knock it, it used to have a people mover.
1. Surrounded by water on three sides so it is similar to Cuba

2. Is a short trip over to Canada where many of us will be defecting for better health care

3. The painted turtle is the state reptile: an excellent representation for the movement of meaningful bills through congress

4. Already home to government-owned (eh-hem...public-optioned) General Motors so it wouldn't be a stretch

5. Boasts riverboat gambling so that our lawmakers could feel secure knowing that they can gamble with their own money too.

6. Pistons uniforms are already red, white and blue

7. "Michigander" just sounds cool

8. Congress could really get in touch with its roots at Greenfield Village

9. Its motto is already E PLURIBUS UNUM seo we'd save a little money there...

10. There is a "Hell" in Michigan which is where we could send all of the bad politicians or terrorists. I'm sure it would be good for their economy too.

Sooo, here's your invitation for politicians and terrorists alike:
"If you are seeking an amenable (pleasant) peninsula, look around you."

Monday, August 10, 2009


I was at a little gathering today where someone shared briefly on the very first infamous supersonic flight piloted by Chuck Yeager back in 1947. I've always been fascinated by air/space travel so my ears perked up when conversation went supersonic...

60 years ago, the quest to break the sound barrier was a big deal. Several brave test pilots died in the attempt. As planes approached the speed of sound, Mach 1, their control surfaces became useless. The planes shook uncontrollably. Some of them literally disintegrated in midair. Finally, on a cloudless October day in the skies above the California desert, Yeager penetrated the magic barrier — 700 miles an hour at 43,000 feet — and made aviation history.

Play around with that thought for a moment. You're 43,000 feet above where you ate your breakfast and for the next few tense seconds as the cockpit is lurching and pinging, you are not certain if you will draw your next breath. KABOOM!....and then.....silence. Serenity. Peace. God's language.

Metaphorically speaking, aren't the trials and temptations of life sort of like this? When 'life happens' we tend to want to stomp it to death. We wrestle with it, spit on it, control it, yell at it and obsess over it. It rattles us, shakes us, wakes us from sleep and gets up in our face. Our "control surfaces" are useless and our lives are shaking out of control, ready to disintegrate. KABOOM!...and then....silence.

When a jet travels at Mach 1 speeds nowadays, the reverberations are unnoticeable by the occupants of the aircraft. Technology has made it so undramatic that the next paradigm shift will probably be when we breach the light barrier. Ultraviolet Travel? Superluminal Flight? Just guessing. What would happen if someone designed a better "mental aircraft" or supersonic jumpsuit that would allow us to be able to eliminate the shake/rattle & roll of turbulent problem barriers. What if I were to tell you that there is a mental defense against rattling oneself to pieces. It can be found in the divinely directed detour of prayer & pause: the two ingredients most useful for turning things over to God. The simple toil and enlightened freedom of letting go is an adventure worth taking. Just ask anyone who is a student of the many 12-step recovery programs. As the platitudes reveal:

Let go and let God

Came to Believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity

Let go or be dragged (one of my personal favorites)

I can't, God can, I think I'll let Him

Let go of the outcome

If you can't turn it over, at least lay it down

I plan, God laughs

THY will be done

There is something blissfully peaceful about that letting go, isn't there? In my estimation, slow is real and boring is very good. Make your own history. Defy your personal physics. There is a deafening, thrilling liberty of silence that can be found at the speed of sound.

The miracles in our own backyard

"Does the Blessed Virgin Mary need to be appearing some place to prompt the kinds of things Austin talks about? Not if we believe in the graces connected with the Sacraments - especially with confession. The same can be said about Eucharistic and Marian devotion, and when priests teach the fullness of the faith from the pulpit, and in the confessional, without ambiguity. In fact, the homily or sermon should prompt us to make an examination of conscience, unless we are there to examine the conscience of all those other people. I remember the preaching in Medjugorje decades ago. It touched on subjects otherwise undiscussible. They talked about.... [gasp]......sin. And you know what? Folks wanted to hear about such subjects. There are parishes today where a handful of people will probably get up and walk out because their self esteem was bruised. So? They have a free will. The pride of a few should not lead to the neglect of the many who want to hear that admonition."

(Just a sampling of an exceptional post by Diane M. Korzeniewski over at Te Deum Laudamus. She's a secular carmelite with a real gift for writing; I especially loved what she said about church silence.)

Here is the link to the rest of the story...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Top 3 Most Difficult Things To Do:

"The three most difficult things for a human being are not physical feats or intellectual achievements. They are, first, returning love for hate; second, including the excluded; third, admitting that you are wrong."

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Save the Liturgy...

We're on vacation in Disney. Attended Mass at the local parish (which shall remain anonymous). They've omitted the Gloria, lectors wear special jewelry here to let everyone know they can read, priest changed the words of consecration (no kidding!!) and added all sorts of prefaces and wording changes to the Eucharistic prayers, etc etc. Nobody knelt at the consecration and very few knelt after receiving Holy Communion. At the examination of conscience, we were asked to think about all of our gifts. Oh goody goody gumdrops...I don't really need to think about all those nasty things I've been doing or thinking all week. I can just come and catch a bit of the Jesus show and feel all better. And I haven't even told you about the "let's all feel good about each other-We are many parts" music. "WELCOME TO THE DIOCESE OF ORANGE. There, I feel better. Now that I've vented a bit...allow me to introduce you to Father Z, if you don't know him already.

Fr. John Zuhlsdorf is Moderator of the Catholic Online Forum and the ASK FATHER Question Box. The WDTPRS columns appear weekly in The Wanderer. He is blogger extraorinaire and you really should follow him if you're not already. He is known famously for his "say the black, do the red" exhortations that help us to follow more closely and faithfully the teachings of the church. The black/red thing doesn't show up on my blog so be sure you follow the link and you'll see what I'm talking about. The below extract is today's entry regarding a recent Life Site News interview Cardinal Cañizares, the current Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

LSN: Is the liturgical revolution over? Is the Church in general becoming more balanced about the liturgy?

We’re still suffering it but also we are in a moment of great hope. The Pope Benedict XVI makes the renewal of the spirit of liturgy to rekindle in the conscience of all the true sense of the liturgy. [As a matter of fact, I think it is clear that Pope Benedict has a plan for the revitalization of the Church. I call it his "Marshall Plan".] Which should help to impose a great new unstoppable liturgical movement. ["a great new unstoppable liturgical movement"] Nevertheless, [get this…] we have not yet applied in a truthful way the teachings of Vatican II read in continuity with the tradition of the Church. [Exactly.] This is the commitment of this congregation continuing the [work of the] Holy Father that presides over us in faith and charity and over the whole Church.

Continue reading...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

(by Portia Nelson)

I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. I am lost...I am helpless. It isn't my fault. It takes forever to find my way out.

I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don't see it. I fall in, again. I can't believe I am in this same place. But it isn't my fault. It still takes a long time to get out.

I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it is there. I still fall's a habit...but, my eyes are open. I know where I am. It is my fault. I get out immediately.

I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.

I walk down a different street.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Apostola Apostolorum

I love this Saint. She is my hero. She is the namesake of this Blog. I have claimed her feast day as my own and usually find some special things to do today in her memory. There's a lot out there in the blogosphere to assist in meditative thought so I'll refrain from the urge to plageurize. One of the reasons I am drawn to her was the seeming profundity of her healing. You see, Mary didn't have 1 or 2 character issues that she needed to work on. She was ensnared with a whopping seven demons that were destroying her from the inside out...(talk about hair in a hurricane), and Christ, her savior and our savior removed them all. Mary Magdalene provides insight and inspiration into every life that seems to be despairing, out of control and void of hope. Her example and Christ's miracle in her life encourages me that amidst all of my flaws, foibles and funks, I too can experience the love, compassion and freedom from bondage that the Lord so urgently and abundantly wants to give me. My cup runneth over.

The church venerates this great Saint today (puts her next in line to the Blessed Mother in the Litany of Saints) and holds her up as our example of amazing turn-arounds. We love Cinderella stories, don't we? This is THE Cinderella story of all time. We go from "demon-possessed woman without-too-many-scruples" to Apostola Apostolorum - Apostle to the Apostles. God writes straight with crooked lines.

I learned only recently that St. Mary Magdalene is the person who we can thank for the beloved "Easter Egg". According to tradition, during a dinner with the emperor Tiberius Caesar, Mary Magdalene was speaking about Christ's Resurrection. Caesar scoffed at her, saying that a man could rise from the dead no more than the egg in her hand could turn red. Immediately, the egg turned red. Because of this, icons of Mary Magdalene sometimes depict her holding a red egg as you may note above.

Saint Mary Magdalene,
woman of many sins, who by conversion
became the beloved of Jesus,
thank you for your witness
that Jesus forgives
through the miracle of love.

You, who already possess eternal happiness
in His glorious presence,
please intercede for me, so that some day
I may share in the same everlasting joy.


Monday, July 20, 2009

The Bible is for Catholics

The Bible Is for Catholics
By Mary Elizabeth Sperry

The Bible is all around us. People hear Scripture readings in church. We have Good Samaritan (Luke 10) laws, welcome home the Prodigal Son (Luke 15), and look for the Promised Land (Exodus 3, Hebrews 11). Some biblical passages have become popular maxims, such as "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (Matthew 7:12)," "Thou shalt not steal (Exodus 20:15), and "love thy neighbor" (Matthew 22:39).

Today's Catholic is called to take an intelligent, spiritual approach to the bible.
Listed here are 10 points for fruitful Scripture reading.

1. Bible reading is for Catholics. The Church encourages Catholics to make reading the Bible part of their daily prayer lives. Reading these inspired words, people grow deeper in their relationship with God and come to understand their place in the community God has called them to in himself.

2. Prayer is the beginning and the end. Reading the Bible is not like reading a novel or a history book. It should begin with a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to open our hearts and minds to the Word of God. Scripture reading should end with a prayer that this Word will bear fruit in our lives, helping us to become holier and more faithful people.

3. Get the whole story! When selecting a Bible, look for a Catholic edition. A Catholic edition will include the Church's complete list of sacred books along with introductions and notes for understanding the text. A Catholic edition will have an imprimatur notice on the back of the title page. An imprimatur indicates that the book is free of errors in Catholic doctrine.

4. The Bible isn't a book. It's a library. The Bible is a collection of 73 books written over the course of many centuries. The books include royal history, prophecy, poetry, challenging letters to struggling new faith communities, and believers' accounts of the preaching and passion of Jesus. Knowing the genre of the book you are reading will help you understand the literary tools the author is using and the meaning the author is trying to convey.

5. Know what the Bible is – and what it isn't. The Bible is the story of God's relationship with the people he has called to himself. It is not intended to be read as history text, a science book, or a political manifesto. In the Bible, God teaches us the truths that we need for the sake of our salvation.

6. The sum is greater than the parts. Read the Bible in context. What happens before and after – even in other books – helps us to understand the true meaning of the text.

7. The Old relates to the New. The Old Testament and the New Testament shed light on each other. While we read the Old Testament in light of the death and resurrection of Jesus, it has its own value as well. Together, these testaments help us to understand God's plan for human beings.

8. You do not read alone. By reading and reflecting on Sacred Scripture, Catholics join those faithful men and women who have taken God's Word to heart and put it into practice in their lives. We read the Bible within the tradition of the Church to benefit from the holiness and wisdom of all the faithful.

9. What is God saying to me? The Bible is not addressed only to long-dead people in a faraway land. It is addressed to each of us in our own unique situations. When we read, we need to understand what the text says and how the faithful have understood its meaning in the past. In light of this understanding, we then ask: What is God saying to me?

10. Reading isn't enough. If Scripture remains just words on a page, our work is not done. We need to meditate on the message and put it into action in our lives. Only then can the word be "living and effective."(Hebrews 4:12).

- - -Mary Elizabeth Sperry is Associate Director for Utilization of the New American Bible.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Let Them Eat Cake...Really

Nun Becomes Best-Selling Author With Cookbook

KRAKOW, Poland — Emerging from the quiet of her convent, Sister Anastazja Pustelnik was confronted by a jarring image — her smiling face on posters plastered around town to hawk the cookbooks that have made the 59-year-old nun one of Poland's best-selling authors.
Despite worldly success, Sister Anastazja says all her efforts are in service to God. After morning prayers, she walks every day from her convent to the Jesuit center in downtown Krakow to cook lunch for 20 priests, giving them "strength when they go out into the world." At Easter she bakes each priest a lamb-shaped cake to take on visits to their families.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Blessed G.K. Chesterton?

"If you look at a thing nine hundred and ninety-nine times, you are
perfectly safe; if you look at it the thousandth time, you are in frightful
danger of seeing it for the first time."
G.K. Chesterton

"Blessed" G.K. Chesterton?
Interview on Possible Beatification of English Author
By Antonio GaspariROME, JULY 14, 2009 ( Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) is well known for his clever and humorous writing, and his thought-provoking paradoxes. But he might also become known as a saint, if a proposal to launch his cause of beatification goes forward.ZENIT spoke with Paolo Gulisano, author of the first Italian-language biography of the great English writer ("Chesterton & Belloc: Apologia e Profezia," Ediciones Ancora), about the origins of this proposal. Here, Gulisano explains why Chesterton might merit recognition as a saint...
Read the rest here:

Monday, July 13, 2009

Lessons in Anger & Prayer

A personal admission: I detest working on household finance. It is a world of mystery, intrigue and sabotage. More than once I have admitted that I am powerless over this stressing task and that my situation has become unmanageable. I blame this more or less on the fact that my father never taught me how to balance a checkbook before I went off to college. I realize that this is a lame excuse, but an excuse nonetheless. Efforts of trying to correct course and right the ship are usually met with many good intentions and poor follow through, however I am a work in progress and God loves me enough to send me back to the classroom of humility time and time again.

One such excursion was last week. Having reached a point of powerlessness and unmanageability once again, I turned to an expert in the field: a financial planner who, I assume, among other things, will help me to arrive at a financial plan and keep us on track with our elusive family budget. This is not the first time I have thrown up my hands in despair, but I am certainly hoping it will be the last. Ellen is a lovely woman. She is no-nonsense, direct, conservative, traditional and BORING (and I mean that in a respectful and good way). She does things with paper and pencil and refers often to her own former spending foibles. She is also on to my husband's Tommy Bahama habit, so this means that I like her a lot. I don't know if I buy her "seeing that extra money in the savings account is more fun than taking that Rome vacation" line however I am willing to delay my gratification in order to give her the benefit of the doubt.
So why do I quote anger at the top of this entry? BECAUSE I spent the better part of Friday and Saturday following Ellen's directions. Adding entries to her splendid spreadsheets, copiously compiling additional supportive dollar signs and bearing my financial soul to a complete stranger only to lose it amongst my 50,000 directories on my hard drive. It was nowhere to be found. The irony is that I have MANY folders and files named "finance", "budget", "expenditures": these are the wreckage of my past endeavors to reign in the family spending machine. They reside gleefully in my hard drive sort of like artifacts from a sunken treasure ship at the bottom of the deep blue sea. But, ya think I could find the priceless pearl that was only created a day ago? Nada. It is lost. Hopelessly missing. Gonesville.

The 'losing of things' usually sends me to a bad mood rather quickly. In this case, it was my brain sending a signal to my gut via a conduit of adrenaline that the problem will be solved by throwing said pc out of nearby window. By some grace, I was spared this urge and alternatively was reduced to sobbing and utterances of the word "why...". This episode illicited a reaction from my 12 year old. He is a brave boy. He actually entered the (den of fools) office and chanced to offer some consolation.

"Mom, what's wrong?"

Thru tears..."missing...can't find...all that work...gone".

Putting his arm around my shoulder...."Mom...", asks Jake, "Did you pray?"
The dark side of me offers a 1 minute subconscious rebuttal...

"What did he mean, did I pray? Of COURSE I did not pray. I mean, c'mon. I am in the midst of my drama. What could praying possibly do but knock me off that horse that is so fun to ride?? Besides, the adrenaline rush is sooooo exhilerating! Pray. Peeshaw."

And now the Conscience overrides the dark side with the only action worth a darn: "O Lord, please help me find my stupid missing paperwork that is gone forever." or something to that effect. And then I walked away.
2 hours later, I decided that I would backtrack and create an entirely new document. Just for grins, I pulled the most recent 'Ellen' document and tried to "Save As" to a place that I would remember. It went to a temp file location on my drive. Guess what else was there? The document that went missing. Prayer answered.
Why do I share this with you? There are only three possibilities:

1. To demonstrate that I clearly have more work ahead of me in many areas of my life
2. To illustrate that wisdom & clarity can & does issue from the mouths of 12-year olds
3. Go to prayer first: it will save you 10 minutes of angst

*Footnote: It is honorably mentioned here that I learned as a pre-Christian, a prayer that my Grandma Phillips taught me. If something has gone missing, simply cross both legs and ask God to help you find it. As a Catholic, I learned that Grandma's prayer was the Methodist version of the "Tony, Tony please come round, something's lost that must be found" request. Bottom line, I know St. Anthony is behind this whole thing! Thanks be to God.