Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ash Wednesday

Remember that you are dust and unto dust you shall return. Genesis 3:19

Pope Benedict XVI said, "... the words of Genesis are reflected in the Ash Wednesday liturgy: as an invitation to penance, humility, and an awareness of our mortal state. We are not to despair, but to welcome in this mortal state of ours the unthinkable nearness of God who opens the way to Resurrection, to paradise regained, beyond death."

My dear readers, I will be focusing on doing the duties of my station, and less of the diversions. By the grace of God, and your prayers, I hope to be less distracted, and more mindful. Know that I am praying for all of us to grow closer to our Savior. Have a beautiful and blessed Lent.

Just came back from Mass.
The cat was very curious about the ashes.
So it was picture time.
It's claw-clipping time.

Ciao meow.
TO KEEP A TRUE LENT by Robert Herrick

Is this a fast, to keep
The larder lean?
                         And clean
From fat of veals and sheep?

Is it to quit the dish
Of flesh, yet still
                        To fill
The platter high with fish?

Is it to fast an hour,
Or ragg’d to go,
                        Or show
A downcast look and sour?

No ; ‘tis a fast to dole
Thy sheaf of wheat,
                         And meat,
Unto the hungry soul.

It is to fast from strife,
From old debate
                       And hate;
To circumcise thy life.

To show a heart grief-rent;
To starve thy sin,
                      Not bin;
And that’s to keep thy Lent.


Monday, February 11, 2013

Beloved Pope Benedict to Resign

This morning, I was so very disappointed to learn that our beloved Pope is going to resign due to failing health at the end of this month. No matter how irrational the thought, I have wanted him to live forever. He is such a holy man of God, and it is during his pontificate that we converted and I have grown to love him so much, for his leadership and his gift to speak and write with clarity. He is one of my best teachers, my Papa.

Last Christmas, I came upon his letter to the Baby Jesus when he was just seven years old.

Dear Baby Jesus,

Quickly come down to earth. You will bring joy to children. Also bring me joy. I would like a Volks-Schott, green clothing for Mass, and a heart of Jesus. I will always be good.

Greetings from Joseph Ratzinger

This photo swiped from First Things

And so our Papa will retire, spending his days in prayer and contemplation. He will again be Joseph. May God bless him and continue to guide Holy Mother Church.

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Gators are Back!

My blog has been missing the gators so today I brought my camera with me on my walk. I saw a couple of ducks in a different pond, and seen Mr. and Mrs. Mallard romancing. Hope they can keep their eggs safe. I really don't want to have to write a picture book about Ten Disappearing Ducks. Turtles are out basking as well, but they're too skittish for me to take a close-up picture.

Since some of you are in the NE and experiencing some wicked cold weather, I give you some Carolina blue and sunshine.  And I just happen to like this piece of driftwood in my neighbor's yard. I hope you can feel the warmth from my home to yours. Have a great weekend, all.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013


I’ve been silent on the subject of books, but with Christmas booty, I’ve had my nose in a book plenty, though not enough. Here are some noteworthy books. I have a set of daily devotionals – A Year with Church Fathers, Laudamus Te, Word Among Us, Magnificat – which are ongoing.
Other books:

Be a Man! Becoming the Man God Created You to Be by Fr. Larry Richards. What a find! We had one of his CDs from Lighthouse but his book is wonderful. My son read it – I should say ate it – but I hope he will go back and re-read it slowly. There is so much wisdom here, on how to stay focused on the final goal (heaven), being a man who lives as a beloved son, a man who repents, who is strong, who is loving, wise and above all strives to be holy. Buy this book for the man or boy in your life. Read it with him and discuss it.

Medjugorje: The Message by Wayne Weible. This is a fascinating account of a Lutheran journalist who investigates the Marian apparitions taking place in a little-known place in Yugoslavia, and who is transformed by the messages he receives from our Holy Mother, and his total dedication to bringing the message of Medjugorje to the world. What is the message? A call to conversion – through prayer, fasting, confession, studying the Word, and receiving the Eucharist. Here is the Vatican's position on Medjugorje. It is still under investigation ... many believe it is the continuation of the Marian apparitions at Fatima.

The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr. I came across this book on Kristi Holl’s blog and had to read it for myself. When I became a mother, I instinctively rejected the electronic medium for our children. They grew up much as I did, engaged in the physical world, but as I became more engaged in the digital world, so did they, and I see how we’re all changing, and not necessarily for the better. I love the ease and access of information, but I also suffer from information overload. I love that I am *connected* and but also dislike the distractions of being so connected. A few years ago, I realized that I need to have the Internet off while I'm working so that I'm not compelled to look up a fact. As a nonfiction writer, I tend to assemble all my research and absorb it before I even begin writing, but there are always holes and the Internet makes it easy. However, the flow of words becomes stilted if I'm constantly looking things up as I write. So now, I write LOOK UP X and keep on writing. I started taking breaks from the net during Advent and Lent, and it was freeing.

Carr’s book is a history of technology and how it changes us. Always there are consequences. The ubiquitous use of it by children is especially frightening – they think they know things, but their knowledge is superficial. And they are losing the ability to concentrate and contemplate because reading on the net is inherently interrupted. Hyperlinks to other books, songs, and videos distract from deep reading. How many of you read this post first in its entirety, and then clicked on the book links above? Good for you! How many of you got to the end? Don't answer. More and more, people cannot seem to read more than a paragraph at a time without their attention flitting elsewhere. This is an entertaining yet sobering book. And I realize that as we hurtle into the digital world, we must try to be intentional, and not let it rule us. This is a must read.

We've been reading Veronica Roth’s books (Divergent, Insurgent) and impatiently waiting for the next in the series, and LOTR. The kids are re-reading White Fang, When You Reach Me, and Marie Lu’s Legend. They are choosing these books for their book reports. We all read Sharon Flake's Pinned. My kids complained that it took time to understand the girl because she struggles with reading, so her voice reflects her disability. But it was an enjoyable read about two very different people, what they value, what holds them back, and how they fall in love. I will spare you the hyperlinks :) You can look these up if you so wish.

I have some money on a gift card left and am debating what to buy – I have some ideas. Anyone care to recommend a must-have book? I’m thinking about a writing book and perhaps a spiritual memoir.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Raising Moral Teens

Last night we had the opportunity to hear a talk about raising moral teens by Chris Stefanick. If he's anywhere near your area, don't miss out. We already have one of his CDs and I'm looking forward to his new one on moral relativism, which is really what we're fighting in our culture, as though there are no absolute truths.

But I digress. I want to give you some of the same hope that Chris gave us. As parents we do worry about the opposing influences of the very loud culture we live in, but Chris said a brook can also be very noisy. But the Mississippi runs deep and quiet, so trust that what you teach your children will run deeply in their hearts and resonate.

And what resonates with teens is authentic love. Love that doesn't say, "I want you," but love that says, "I want what is best for you." This is the heart of chastity. It's not just saying no to premarital sex and surging hormones, but chastity and purity is about controlling desire and putting it in its proper context (marriage) and saying yes to their dignity and the love they were made for.

All the statistics (I'm sorry I didn't take notes, but I only grabbed my jacket on my way out) show that kids who engage premarital sex are more depressed, earn consistently less money (the number 15% sticks out), get sexually transmitted diseases that have a whole host of other side-effects including infertility, and if they do get married, end up divorced (50% higher rate). This one choice can affect so many areas in their lives, it is madness not to teach our children to wait to have sex until they marry.

So what can we do?

Love unconditionally (love them always, no matter what they do, even if they hurt you).
Model authentic love ourselves (we are our children's first teachers and from the moment they are born, they are watching us).
Protect our children (the biggest threat is not from people on the street, but what comes into your home via television and the Internet).
Expect greatness (some of the most courageous and passionate saints were teens).
Talk to them (sex-education is one area where everybody ought to home school).
And never give up hope (because Truth, Goodness, & Beauty is on our side).

Do you have some tips to share? Please do.

This is a picture taken after receiving our Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, fifteen years after we took our wedding vows. We didn't do things in the right order, and I'm always thankful God doesn't give us what we deserve, rather pours out His love and grace and mercy upon us.