Saturday, May 31, 2008

20 years too late...


Barack Obama and his wife Michelle have resigned their membership at the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, after controversies stemming from the church created a persistent distraction for Obama’s campaign.

Obama said Saturday that he made the decision with “some sadness,” but that he had been discussing it with his family for “quite some time” and that he did not want to be a continuing burden on the congregation. [Emphasis added]

Who does he think he's fooling?

Pick and click to read the whole story:

Click here: Obama Quits Church After Controversy - AOL News

Movie moment

Just sitting here rolling up a basket of mismatched socks when all of a sudden....

"Them sy-reens luv'd 'im up and turned him into a h-h-ho-horny toad!"


Friday, May 30, 2008

Happy 69th Birthday, Dad

I got a typed, 1 paragraph letter today...he indicates that he had heart problems and is "a walking pharmacy," but plans to go camping in the White Mountains with my brother and nephew in a few weeks. He enjoyed the pictures of the kids and wished us well. So...that's progress!

Thank you St. Jude for prayers answered.
(If you look closely at my dear old friend St. Jude, you'll see he's standing "By The Brook " - as he always does when times get tough!)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Ven. Fr. Vincent Capodanno

For Jackie - further to our Memorial Day comment-chat The Lair of the Catholic Cavemen has the best post on Fr. Capodanno - I encourage all to read it. (And the book!)

Monday, May 26, 2008

In Remembrance


I hope you all have a great time today, stay safe, enjoy this day off with your families or your solitude, just please do remember to take a few moments to pray for those brave men and women who served and made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure that you will have the freedom to enjoy this and all your days. Thank your local service members by supporting them at parades, call the vets in your family....just make the day count!

P.S. Click on the link above to learn more about the real flag-raisers of Iwo Jima

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Refresher Course #1 - the GAY thing

Okay. Let's review. The CA gay marriage decision seems to have set off a lot of harshly worded commentary, and I think we need to take a step back and look at what our obligations are as Catholics:

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms throughout the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on sacred Scripture, which present homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity [Gen. 19:1-29, Rom. 1:24-27, 1 Cor. 6:10, 1Tim. 1:10], tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered [Persona Humana 8].* They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. They do not choose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

* [Note that the "acts" are intrinsically disordered and cannot be approved. NOT the people themselves. -- Ed.]

As deep as feelings run on these issues, we are all called to hate the sin, but love the sinner. Some of the invective I've seen on the blogs and heard in person this past week flies in the face of this basic principle, and I'm about fed up. It does no credit to those who stoop to vulgarity and name calling. No matter how disgusting, disordered, depraved, or dissolute a homosexual person may seem to be, they are children of God, they have been given a terrible burden, and not everyone suffers with the sort of dignity we'd like to think we'd show in similar circumstances.

I have very strong and clear feelings that homosexuality and the priesthood do not mix. Same thing for the military, and I'm not shy about saying so. As for marriage, I think that to most of us, the word implies far more than a civil contract - it denotes a vocation, a lifelong commitment, a covenant, a sacrament between a man and a woman to join together (as is natural), procreate if God wills it, and live out this traditional notion of all that "marriage" is. If gay people want to have civil unions and draft up written agreements that obligate them to one another in some way, well, that's fine. Private individuals enter into contracts every day, and unless the purpose is illegal or one of the individuals lacks competency or legal capacity to bind themselves, you can't stop it. It's not "marriage" though, no matter what 4 renegade judges in CA say.

Like most of us, there are some gay people in my life, in extended family and a few professional acquaintances, and I love them without exception. I don't love the way they live their lives behind closed doors. I've had spirited discussions with all of them about the "marriage" issue, the above-cited CCC sections, and I have defended my personal beliefs and the Church's position steadfastly. One man (a lawyer I know) early on in our acquaintance laughingly said to me, "you're a Catholic - aren't you required to hate me?"

"No," said I, "I'm required to love you."

We were at happy hour and talked our way through a bottle of wine. Afterwards, he told me no one had ever explained the Catholic perspective to him before. Maybe in some small way, I helped scale back his prejudices that day.

If I'd called him a "f***ing faggot" and told him to get the hell away from me, who would be the winner?

I'd like to see a little more compassion and a lot less crap-talking. I'm not about to slap a rainbow/triangle/AIDS ribbon sticker on my car, I'll call out the "activists" and "agendists" in a heartbeat, but you know what, call my hairdresser anything other than his first name, and you've got a huge problem with me.


It arrived Wednesday, we watched the whole 5 hours yesterday, and I highly recommend it - especially on a rainy AND sick day. :)
There's a panoply of Britain's best actors, all of whom turn in excellent performances. It's more than just a period piece - beneath the Jane Austen-emulating plots of Elizabeth Gaskell (who wrote her novels starting about 40 years post-Jane), there's some serious examination of the coming Industrial Revolution (North and South did that best) and the decline of the rigid class system that came along with it. She did, after all, have her serial pieces published by her mentor, Charles Dickens...
Oh, and guys, my very manly beloved laughed out loud at various points. He was on the couch under blankies and under the influence of Theraflu, true, but he was a trooper and watched most of it with us girls. As he puts it, "it's always good to study the enemy and get to know how their minds work."

Thursday, May 22, 2008

High Five!

Congrats to my former student, K, on her scholarship, graduation, and new paralegal job at the locally headquartered major national corporation! (I'm trying to keep it anonymous!)

K has an autistic son, a brain-injured son (a car backed over him when he was a toddler), and her husband sustained career-ending injuries as a volunteer firefighter. This lady has more on her plate than I can even begin to imagine, just getting through each day. Managing to get her RN and paralegal degrees while working part time and caretaking for her three men is nothing short of phenomenal. This job will give her both the salary she needs and most importantly, excellent benefits for her family.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Cinematical sick days

Here's what we've watched so far (in case it is not clear from what follows, the 14 year old is sick, too) since the plague struck on Saturday:

1. Atonement. Heard great things, was told I'd love it, right up my alley, etc., so I bought it without reading anything spoilerish.


Note to self and others: the "happiest person" does not like getting her guts kicked in at the movies especially when at home with a fever and sore throat.

MAJOR SUCKFESTIVAL after the first 15-20 minutes, and use of the dreaded c-word came needlessly and outta nowhere, horrifying all of us. Our Little Therese came in to say goodnight at just the wrong moment - she has no idea what "it" is, but knew by our shock and collective gasps that it was the worst of the worst and so she was outta there for the duration. We are not gilded lilies by any stretch (case-in-point: same word used in Bridget Jones, which we loved despite ourselves, made us laugh out loud in shock), but this was just not a necessary device - other such descriptive words would have made the same point.

2. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Let's face it, it's a lesser Bronte novel. You know it's gonna tend toward the gothic, and that's fine. Overall, had some longish periods of SUCK, but it turned out right at the end.

3. North and South (BBC Elizabeth Gaskell adaptation, not the John Jakes saga).

LOVE. This is a sick-day staple, all 5 hours of it or whatever. LOVE.

4. Sense and Sensibility. (Emma Thompson/Kate Winslett/Hugh Grant)

LOVE LOTS. Unbelievably, we've had this on VHS forever and the kid had not seen it, or didn't remember it. I laughed watching her cry. :)

5. Pride & Prejudice. BBC and Kiera Knightley/Matthew MacFadyen versions. Again, sick staples. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!!! (Even the new one, despite its many Austen-canon departures).

6. The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. GOOD. Getting everyone ready to see Prince Caspian.

Finally....if any men are left reading this....the beloved was struck down in the night, too, so to appease him this morning:

7. Tombstone. Oh yeah.

"I'm yuh Huckleberry..." <-- Still not quite sure what that means,* but LOVE this one. Lots. 14 year old was a bit queasy over all the blood and gore (she was forewarned), 10 year old at school, baby laying down on floor in the next room surrounded by toys, covered in snot and a box of kleenex he managed to savage while no one was looking...Daddy in the grips of Theraflu and fever croaking out his approval of every single thing Val Kilmer and Kurt Russell said and did....AWESOME.

Now I must go make the tea and see if our latest movie-miniseries kill, Cranford, has arrived...

*UPDATE: Ok, I had to know, so here's the explanation from "World Wide Words":

To be one’s huckleberry — usually as the phrase "I’m your huckleberry" — is to be just the right person for a given job, or a willing executor of some commission.

Ohhhhhh yeah. Val Kilmer was just the right person for that role. LOVE LOVE LOVED him in this one!!!

[My] Parental Advisory

Thanks for the reminder, Digisistuh -

I started this post late at night on Saturday up in my room with the lights off...kinda like a kid up past bedtime reading a book with a flashlight (which kid would have been me about 30 years ago!), but got distracted by a sickly 10 year old and never finished. The spring plague has hit us all, so 4 of the 5 of us are home sick today.

But I digress - here's the update:

1. Mom visit: went as well as it could, they drove in from Chicago late Friday, and left early Monday. We had no substantive discussions of any kind, just about kids, the impending yard sale, and my recent dental work. Although she did ask about a letter she found laying about offering me a general counsel job to an overseas American contracting company.* (My fault for leaving it by the phone, no snooping involved). She mentioned that she is going to Egypt on an "all girl" trip with my sister (something the three of us had planned a few years ago...until I finally got and remained pregnant), and waited to see if I'd respond. I didn't. Just kept watching the Teddy Kennedy coverage. After a few minutes, I headed for the kitchen to start dinner. "Well, you wouldn't want to go anywhere now anyway, what with the baby..." trailed after me. I ignored it. I stayed in the kitchen baking and cooking so she could visit with the kids, then got so desperate that I painted the ceiling in the baby's room. :) Got raves about my Pane Toscana - check Brookside Bistro out for the easiest bread ever [home]made.

I am still ruminating on whether this is the way things will be between us from now on. Very superficial, save the occasional barb and bait, to which I will very steadfastly not respond. I will need treatment for TMJ, perhaps, but it'll drive her friggin' nuts! (I shouldn't be smirking, but I am...). So that was Round One.

2. Dad: Nothing.

No response, no new updates other than that his overall health is very poor and he's not medicating for anything, so I can't help but think that he's given up. His birthday is next week, and I will send a nice yet neutral card, but after that, I think I'll have to wait for him. Or for more news, I guess. I'm giving that one over to God in prayer, and I know I can count on many of you to do the same - and so I'll thank you now before the verklemptness overtakes me.

But wait - almost forgot - there is a slight tidbit on the Southwestern front: my mercifully former stepmother sent a big box of wedding and baby pictures (all of which I'd sent to them over the years before the divorce) to me via my mother, as she "has no need of them anymore." You see, she's moving into a nice, brand new $500K condo in Scottsdale, as she made quite a nice profit on the house my dad signed over to her in the divorce (along with all the cash). Nice, eh?

So the post-nuclear family winter continues...

As soon as I stop coughing and snorting, I am intent on enjoying a lovely Southern-Central NY happy-family spring!

*Great great money, btw, but I'm not doing it, not bringing the pasty-faced American offspring to a Muslim country. Sadly, they got none of my melanin and all of their Daddy's propensity for, gimme a do-rag and a caftan and I'd blend right in, 'cept maybe for the docile obedient acquiescence-to-misogyny bit....oh yeah, and then there's that pesky no-alcohol thing. Me go a year without my martinis and red wine? Fuggheddaboudit!)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Monks roll with Amy Winehouse!

Well, not really, but they DO have the same record label...

Austria's singing monks hail miracle debut album
By Alexandra Zawadil Fri May 16, 2:12 PM ET

Monks in Austria hailed a "miracle" on Friday as they released an album of Gregorian chants under the same record label as Amy Winehouse and Eminem.

The Cistercian monks were signed up by Universal Music -- beating more than 200 entries from around the world -- after they sent in a YouTube video in response to its international advertisement for a choir.

"I did not even know what Universal Music was. For us it is like a miracle," said the order's Father Karl as the CD "Chant - Music for Paradise" went on sale in Germany and Austria ahead of a wider international release.
It features 17 monks, mainly from Germany and Austria with one from Sri Lanka. "They sing like angels," said Father Karl, who is not on the recording.

Dickon Stainer of Universal Music sees "enormous potential" for the disc, not least since the Xbox space-age game "Halo", which has sold more than 16 million copies worldwide, uses Gregorian chant in its main soundtrack.
The music of the Heiligenkreuz (Holy Cross) Foundation, which dates from the 12th century, even has papal blessing. Pope Benedict enjoyed it during a 2007 visit to the monastery, 30 km (20 miles) southwest of Vienna.

"He sank into meditation in front of everyone as the choir sang," said the order's abbot, Gregor Henckel Donnersmarck.

Traditionally sung by choirs of men and boys since the early Middle Ages, the Gregorian chant is one of the oldest known forms of written music. It gets its name from Pope Gregory the Great, who died in 604 A.D.
Profits from the CD will go towards training for priests. The abbot sounded a note of concern at the idea of fan clubs. "This is our prayer. We are not in show business," he said.

But some monks laugh at the prospect of female fans. "If groupies want to come, we will let them know we sing each morning at 5:15," said Father Karl.

Some 115,000 people have seen the YouTube video. "Young people come to us and say: 'That's cool'... (but) we are certainly not a boy band and we are not going on tour," he added

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Black Thursday

Why, California Supreme Court...WHY?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Nobility of spirit needs no Nobel

Irena Sendler saved 2,500 children from the Nazis.

Al Gore received more votes, and the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, for sketchy information about climate change.

(Gracias Santiago!)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Para Santiago, mi nuevo amigo d'Espa~n~a

(Sorry, my Spanish is terrible!)

Vaccine/Autism link - not so crazy?

So maybe it's not just our imagination? Former NIH Director gives interesting interview (5 min.) in which she indicates further study is warranted, and that her position has slowly changed with more and more evidence before her. The two test cases are currently before the Court of Federal Claims (before which I am admitted to practice because of this class action, interestingly enough...)

Link to print story here:

Monday, May 12, 2008

Requiescat In Pace, Piekny Duch!

Irena Sendler (1910-2008)Click on the link below to read the awe-inspiring story of this woman's courage and "beautiful spirit" - hanky strongly recommended:

Holocaust Hero Who Saved Children Dies - AOL News

Holy Shanks, Batman!

Ummm...hello UK friends? I thought the Dementors took your wands away when you entered Azkaban! Click below:

If I were in the tank, I'd start up a "Society of the Sacred Saw" and demand access to my own personal devotional...


The "Smartest And Happiest Person" reflects...

Further to my last post, I thought a lot about this comment - although I don't agree with such glowing superlatives - over the weekend.*

The student who wrote that on my eval (it's supposed to be anonymous, but I know...) is a 17 year old college freshman. She asked me at the last class why I was always in such a good mood, even when describing real-life legal conundrums and horrific crimes in class.

I told her the simple truth - I've had a great life. There are a number of things I've always wanted in my life, and I'm blessed enough to have them: a loving, once-in-a-lifetime marriage, 3 beautiful, "whole" children, I've achieved my education and career goals, and just enough money (not a lot, trust me!) to travel and see as much of God's creation as I can. Sure, there's lots of sad, difficult, and bad things mixed in there - I wish I'd had a happier upbringing with married parents, and sometimes I mourn for the sad, lonely, and hurt child that I was - but one thing I've learned along the way is that the only way to be happy is to make that crucial choice: to be happy, to have faith that God is there alongside me in the best AND worst times, and even when the worst happens, to just keep moving forward.

"Cool!" said she.

If that young girl remembers anything I taught her, I'd prefer it be that instead of anything related to business law.

It took a lot of hard work to get to my happy place...some by me, but mostly by my Guardian Angel, who has to be some sort of gargantuan holy warrior/principality specially assigned by St. Michael to carry me along and get me out of more than a few scrapes - no easy task in my wild youth! If angels really had wings, I've gotta believe mine would be pretty beat up and missing a few feathers. :)

So, yes, although much of my recent posting has been rather gloomy, rest assured that I am more Tigger than Eeyore, and I love my life and my family. Even the crazies and the jerks. There but for the grace of God...well, except maybe I do fit into the "jerk" category, depending on who you ask. But don't we all, sometimes?
[*especially after my m-i-l, who's been a confidante over the years, said to me "it's amazing how nice and how normal you are with some of the stuff you've gone through in your life!" LOL!]

Another Prayer Request

St. Fiacre's Garden: Please pray for Diana

This makes me so sad...a day in Gethsemane ahead for her today. :(

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Spring Cleaning

Well, it's been a wild ride this past week or so. Time to pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again. (Someone out there knows who sang that song...I don't!)

Between being worried sick about things I can't fix (Dad), stressing over the "will they hire me full time at the college or not?"/cutting back on one area of practice in favor of another /career choices, and getting to work at losing another 10 lbs, I got confirmation mother has announced she's "coming to see her grandchildren" this coming weekend. Oy. Vey.

As some of you know, on top of the Dad disaster, I'm in the midst of a dysfunctional family version of Celebrity Deathmatch with my mother, with whom I normally get along pretty well. No long story or gory details, but since my younger-older brother dumped his wife of 17 years and married a now-former call girl while he was working in the Philippines, I've fallen into disfavor with my mother and sibs for not being real "open" to, or otherwise fawning over, the new bride/marriage. In fact, it disgusts me. So after going back to Chicago in January, I've learned that I am "too conservative," among other things (Nah, just a relatively serious Catholic) and the battle began. I am Godmother to my niece and nephew, whose lives were just thrown into utter chaos by their self-proclaimed atheist and morally vacant (IMHO) father, and I can't stand to see my beautiful former sister in law so utterly broken and bereft. She's my age, and married my then-Army officer brother at 21. Her whole existence was her family life, and she's still shellshocked 2 years later. Oh, here I go making it a long story, and I said I wouldn't.

So anyway, time to get out of my head - which I clearly need to do, eh? - and into some long-put-off projects, like finishing off the painting the giraffe pattern on the wall in the baby's room, preparing for the Memorial Day yard sale to end all yard sales, putting all the winter stuff into storage, doing more planting, walking along the river with the tribe and pack, and getting ready for another all-too-short NY summer. In that spirit, I'm just tinkering about a bit with the color scheme here (beige was boring, blue is more "brook-y" and Marian, anyway), pondering what color to paint my kitchen, and thanking our dear Lord that despite my wackadoodle family and its history, I am "one of the smartest and happiest people alive." <-- This comment is lifted off of my latest course evals -- it surprised and flattered me, especially in light of the past few weeks!

Happy Mother's Day!

The Special Mother

by Erma Bombeck

Most women become mothers by accident, some by choice, a few by social pressures and a couple by habit. This year nearly 100,000 women will become mothers of special children.

Did you ever wonder how mothers of special children are chosen? Somehow I visualize God hovering over earth selecting his instruments for propagation with great care and deliberation. As He observes, He instructs His angels to make notes in a giant ledger.

"Armstrong, Beth; son. Patron saint...give her Gerard. He's used to profanity."

"Forrest, Marjorie; daughter. Patron saint, Cecelia."

"Rutledge, Carrie; twins. Patron saint, Matthew."

Finally He passes a name to an angel and smiles, "Give her a special child."

The angel is curious. "Why this one God? She's so happy."

"Exactly," smiles God, "Could I give a special child to a mother who does not know laughter? That would be cruel."

"But has she patience?" asks the angel.

"I don't want her to have too much patience or she will drown in a sea of self-pity and despair. Once the shock and resentment wears off, she'll handle it."

"I watched her today. She has that feeling of self and independence that is so rare and so necessary in a mother. You see, the child I'm going to give her has her own world. She has to make her live in her world and that's not going to be easy."

"But, Lord, I don't think she even believes in you."

God smiles, "No matter, I can fix that. This one is perfect - she has just enough selfishness."

The angel gasps - "selfishness? is that a virtue?"

God nods. "If she can't separate herself from the child occasionally, she'll never survive. Yes, here is a woman whom I will bless with a child less than perfect. She doesn't realize it yet, but she is to be envied. She will never take for granted a 'spoken word.' She will never consider a step 'ordinary.' When her child says 'Momma' for the first time, she will be present at a miracle, and will know it!"

"I will permit her to see clearly the things I see...ignorance, cruelty, prejudice....and allow her to rise above them. She will never be alone. I will be at her side every minute of every day of her life, because she is doing My work as surely as if she is here by My side."

"And what about her Patron saint?" asks the angel, his pen poised in mid-air.

God smiles, "A mirror will suffice."

To all of you moms out there - present, future, spiritual...

Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Prayer request

UPDATE#2: First and foremost - THANK YOU all, so much, for your support and for your prayers. It is amazing and humbling to know that there's so much support flowing our way, from so many lovely, like-minded people all over the world. (Uh oh, getting misty...)

I put together a package of photos, a spare birth announcement, and our 2007 Christmas letter to friends as a means of updating him on my little family. After starting and stopping several times, I did not include any sort of personal note, figuring that if he wants to communicate, he will, whether directly or via my brother. This may sound odd, but knowing him, I can pretty safely bet that he will either be disproportionately angry or overjoyed at the sudden intrusion into his solitude after all this time. So I thought it best to let him make the next move. Or not. I guess I'll know soon enough.

He turns 69 on May 30th, so I will try again with a card if I don't hear anything.

SLIGHT UPDATE: After much heavy-handedness, I've got an address. :)

More soon.

Hard to get this one from head to hands.

My dad is in "very poor health," and I am not quite sure what that means - he has not spoken to 3 of his 4 children for 6 years. He has never seen even a photo of the Boy, because I don't quite know where to find him. And honestly, I have not wanted to try - my oldest brother keeps the rest of us minimally informed, against Dad's wishes, and that has been sufficient until now.

He is bipolar - a retired dentist with one of the most brilliant, but brittle, minds I've ever known. He drank to cover up the bipolar stuff, but has been sober since 1982, when he acknowledged the bipolar issue - before it was "cool" to admit to mental issues. About 8 years ago, after about 15 years or so of relative peace and stability in his personal life (he was always a highly gifted professional), he elected to stop taking his medication. Not uncommon in really, really smart bipolar people - they try to "out-think" the disease. This coincided with my [mercifully] former stepmother serving him with divorce papers when he pulled into the driveway, having just closed on the sale of his practice for retirement. He took all the debt and tax liability, leaving him with nothing, while she walked away with over $500K cash. He never recovered, spun into a bad depression, and stopped the meds not too long afterwards.

After a family wedding in 2002, he sent a nasty email to all of us, accusing us of all kinds of awful stuff that I won't bother mentioning, mostly accusing us all of being bad parents - he thought we let our young kids "drink" at the wedding (sparkling apple juice looks like champagne, I guess) which was simply not true. Mine were 4 and 8 at the time.

So, 3 of us made our stand and did a sort of an "e-intervention" in response to his email: get yourself back on track, on meds, in therapy, and in touch with reality, or we can't have you in our lives, accusing us and our kids of crazy crap. Well, what parent likes to get such an ultimatum from their kids? So the silence has gone on. And on.

Until I got the email from my brother today. No more details, save that he is very ill, and may be heading toward the end. I have been beside myself all day. At the time of the wedding and since then, I've spoken with my favorite priest about it, sought guidance and found some peace, but this is the second-worst news I've been dreading.

So there it is. I carry St. Dymphna on my keychain for a reason - now you know. So please send some prayers Dad's way. I am hoping my brother will break his word to Dad and give us more info so we can try and reach him before it is too late. I may not post for a bit - we shall see what transpires, and if I am off to AZ.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

This really IS huge

Huge Victory: Kansas Supreme Court Unseals Secret Abortion Suit

Busy day here by the brook, so no time for me to 'splain, but let me sum up:
I saw this on LifeSite and encourage you not only to read it, but do some surfing so you can read more on the background facts giving rise to this case. Kline's a hero, Morrisson oughtta be horsewhipped.

As I've said before - what have we come to in this country, that I have to take time off from work to go give my kid a dose of medicine at school (as long as I have a doctor's note), but she can go get an abortion without anyone telling me? If she has a strange bruise on her arm, the "mandatory reporters" at the school nurse's office could hotline the beloved and me to DSS, but if she's underage and pregnant (a violation of statutory consent laws) Planned Parenthood does not have to report it to the authorities?

Bah. Client's here.


Monday, May 5, 2008

Brought to my knees by a 10 year old

A note on our 10 year old whose middle name is Catherine (see right margin for her namesake).

Thorn has very kindly posted over on her blog about what my daughter said to me - and what I consider her role in bringing about our "miracle baby" (see posts below). I started to respond in Thorn's comments about something that happened with her tonight, and I'll expand a bit here.

This one, as many of you know by now, is our "Aspie." Last summer, after 6 years of me knowing something was not quite right (she's off-the-charts brilliant, but socially inept and immature), I finally got the tough-to-take but clear answer that I knew was coming - she has Asperger's Syndrome, which shares many symptoms with, but is not really a true form of, autism. Aspies are generally far more high-functioning than their "autie" counterparts, but they tend to be "square pegs" - essentially, she's your classic really smart but hopelessly nerdy kid.

When she was 2, she had a bad reaction (103-105* fever for 2 days) to "routine" immunizations. Ever since then, whenever she spikes a fever, she smells like metal. Back then I had no idea of any connection between Thimerosal (mercury-based preservative used in vaccines at that time) and autism/Aspergers. We'll save that for another time.

This kid is something else. She is by far the purest and most devout in our family - it just seems to be innate with her. This is why we lovingly tease her and call her our "little Therese." (Nice movie, BTW.) She has these unscripted "moments" (like the Infant of Prague locket and her Fatima apparition reenactments - LOL!) and sometimes she says the most inspired and remarkably wise things...well, it's almost otherworldly. (The next minute she's giggling because someone said "poop." Oh well...)

Just this evening after dinner, my 14 year old said something unusually and uncharacteristically mean to her little sister, which fired me right up. (Yeah, I am a bit overprotective of the one who struggles with social interactions, go figure.) So I sent the offender off to her room, comforted my wounded one, and then started upstairs to go at it one more time with the oldest.

However, my little "Therese" stopped me en route and said "Mamma, it's okay. I've forgiven her. And since I did, you should forgive her too. It's not good for your soul."

As I concluded in my comments to Thorn - I think I know, but I have to ask myself - WHERE does she get this?!?

Honestly, I am not seeking gratuitous back-pats here. Sure, we do our best to instill morals, values, and we lecture our kids about really living their Catholicism, but we aren't exactly floating around on clouds and quoting Scripture or the CCC at them. She takes it to a whole different level - it is truly amazing how her brilliant little mind, even as it is weighted down with her syndrome's tendency toward very literal, concrete thinking, just soars above and beyond our typical family's worldly clouds, toward divinity.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Jack the Cat

Meet Jack.

We love our animals around here. Loving your critters has its price, however. On my 37th birthday, I had to put my darling 15 year old black cat, Payton (yes, I am from Chicago!), to sleep. I adopted him from a shelter in Tucson, AZ. He was my baby before I had babies. He endured the additions of a husband, 2 kids, 2 dogs, 2 birds, and 9 moves - the worst being the last one - from So. Cal. to freezing cold Upstate NY. He killed a scorpion that had crawled into the Princess' bassinet when she was 10 days old. He slew all manner of insects, lesser reptiles, and rodents that dared to enter his domain, and in his last year, he leapt off the table and caught a bat in midair in my dining room. He had a stroke and went blind in the weeks before we had to let him go. It was horrible. We all stood together and wept at the vet's office, all touching him as he left us, and I held him in my arms, sobbing, for a few hours after he was gone.

A year went by, and I'd sworn off felines (Payton's adopted brother, Montana, had died shortly before we moved here, having been hit by a car after he escaped out a screened window...3 surgeries and $2500 later, he died anyway) forever. Did not want to commit another 15 + years only to have it end in that kind of heartbreak again. Then, one day, I went to get Wiley the Cookbook eater his medication at my vet's office. My vet works out of an old house he converted into an office. It is always immaculately clean, and I am struck by the fact that it has no animal-y smell. But this particular day, it did. BAD cat pee smell. I asked, and was told that it was free SPCA neutering day, and he'd done 12 surgeries on depressed male cats. I heard yowling from the back room.

Now, these canny vet ladies know what a sap and sucker I they let me go see and pet the poor little guys. Immediately, this handsome grey face shoved out at me, alternately crying and purring. They opened the cage, and he jumped right into my arms, shaking with the combination of the effort, pain, and meds, and staring up at me with gorgeous green eyes. A young adult male, bones sticking out everywhere. I gave him some ear scratches, he burrowed his face into my hand, and from the nurses, I heard an "Awwwwww...." I immediately sensed treachery, and handed him back. They asked me if I was interested, I said NO and headed for the door.


"If they can't place him in 2 weeks, call me."

So the SPCA calls me a week later and asks if I'd like to come visit him and make a donation. "Oh, all right."

I get there, and FIRST, they introduced me to his wife and kittens - she was a gorgeous silky black-haired thing with two little grey, and two little black puffballs, all with green eyes, nestled with her. GORGEOUS. But apparently, in addition to being the "wife," she was also Jack's mother - he was the cutest of her first litter, so they kept him, but did not spay or neuter either of them. (What did they expect?) The whole incestuous bunch were dumped at the SPCA by the disgusted owners. They were sure they'd place the babies, but not so sure about mamma kitty.

Then I got to see Jack, a few cages over. He was still scrawny, and he was wheezing. Not recovering well from the surgery, they said. He had a respiratory infection, and was on antibiotics, but was not rebounding. They'd separated him from his babies, and being a very "proud Papa," he was beside himself, being able to see but not be with them. I held him and brought him over to see the family, and he licked noses and rubbed faces through the bars. They told me he was sweet and "unusually nurturing" for a male.

Again, it was time to get out before I got involved. I'd dropped off a big bag of food and another of litter on the way in, whipped out my checkbook on the way out, and dashed for the door. "Still want us to call you if we can't place him?"

"Oh, all RIGHT!" as I fled..."and the rest of them, too."

So a week goes by. I get the call. Babies were all taken (I was pretty sad, actually, they were SO cute!), but Jack and wife were not having any luck.

"I'll be there tomorrow."

Went out, got all the supplies, and went to get the lucky couple...but Mamma had been taken an hour before by an elderly couple. So I got poor scrawny, sickly, bereft Jack.

Dogs tried to eat him, just once. (He took one half-hearted swipe at each nose and they folded). Kids came home from school and FREAKED with excitement. He stuck to me like glue, and just did not seem to be getting better. He took two more rounds of antibiotics to shake the infection, and finally started to gain some weight.

Summer came and went...then there was that wedding referred to in the "Year and a Day" post below...and Jack underwent a change. Not pleased to meet the Beloved, as he seemed to consider himself the man of the house. He became quite bold, almost protective of me. Even after the Beloved went back overseas, he remained clingy. He followed me everywhere, sat on me every time I stopped moving, and ran in front of me if the dogs came too close, staring them down. After a few weeks of this odd behavior, I awoke that fateful morning after drinking with my friends with a pair of red socks laying next to my face on the pillow. Odd. Jack was on or near me all day as I languished, sick as heck, until my friend teased me and I ran out to the drugstore for the pregnancy test. When I got home, there were four pairs of socks on my pillow, as well as one of his toy mice. I took the test. It turned blue. All became clear.

Each day, and each night thereafter, I had ritual gifts of hosiery left for me on my bed, in the bathroom, and if we were not careful to close our sock drawers or put away the folded laundry, I'd come home to a trail of socks leading me up the stairs and to my room. The record was 23 pairs. Without fail, the RED socks would be the tastiest treats left on my pillow. I have to believe he thought these were the nicest, bloodiest, and most full of protein. He slept at my feet each night (Beloved was still in Kuwait) and never left my side.

After the baby was born and while I still nursed, the sock slaying continued, but half would be delivered to me, and the other half to the floor next to the bassinet. He moved his sleeping spot to the corner of the bed closest to and right above the bassinet. He never went in it, he just stood guard. He now sleeps in the baby's room on the rocking chair next to the crib. The room is routinely filled with tiny socks, while the big socks still come to my room, just in case we have another "ugly kitty" on the way.

Jack is simply awesome. A bit odd with the sock fetish, but endearingly so. And he's a full, robust 12 lbs at 3 years old now.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

SSPX vs. Your Humble Correspondent

Here you go Steve - let's have at it in my combox instead of Dymphna's.


SSPX/Abp. Lefbvre committed "schismatic acts" by defying Pope John Paul II's direct order NOT to consecrate its 4 bishops.


Excerpts from Pope John Paul II’s apostolic letter, Ecclesia Dei:

"In itself this act [of consecrating those four bishops] was one of disobedience to the Roman pontiff in a very grave matter and of supreme importance for the unity of the Church, such as is the ordination of bishops whereby the apostolic succession is sacramentally perpetuated. Hence such disobedience—which implies in practice the rejection of the Roman primacy—constitutes a schismatic act [Code of Canon Law, 751]. In performing such an act, notwithstanding the formal canonical warning sent to them by the cardinal prefect of the Congregation for Bishops last June 17, Archbishop Lefebvre and the priests Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson and Alfonso de Galarreta have incurred the grave penalty of excommunication envisaged by ecclesiastical law [Cf. Code of Canon Law, 1382].
In the present circumstances I wish especially to make an appeal both solemn and heartfelt, paternal and fraternal, to all those who until now have been linked in various ways to the movement of Archbishop Lefebvre, that they may fulfill the grave duty of remaining united to the vicar of Christ in the unity of the Catholic Church and of ceasing their support in any way for that movement. Everyone should be aware that formal adherence to the schism is a grave offense against God and carries the penalty of excommunication decreed by the Church’s law [Cf. Code of Canon Law, 1364]."

To this day, SSPX proclaims its "filial devotion" to Rome, but stops short of proclaiming its FIDELITY. SSPX masses graciously include prayers for the Pope. Well, we should pray for the reversion of SSPX'ers worldwide, too. They know their stuff and their devotion and love of orthodoxy are admirable. We want them back in full unity - yes, Steve, FULL UNITY - which means you have to take the whole Roman package. Picking and choosing, as SSPX'ers have done, exposes them to the same "cafeteria Catholic" argument that we traddies toss at the liberals, non? Just as you point out, you can't be "a little pregnant" - you can't be "mostly Roman Catholic." You have to commit.

In terms of semantics, well, some scholar-sympathizers may have done doctoral dissertations on this issue and concluded that the consecrations were valid AS TO FORM, but the key issue is not validity - these were not LICIT consecrations, as they were done in defiance of Rome's directives


SSPX justifies its position and attempts to excuplate itself by basing its arguments on canon law, but such arguments fail both factually and canonically.

Example: Canon 1323 provides that a canonical penalty is not binding when a person has acted "by reason of necessity or grave inconvenience, unless the act is intrinsically evil or tends to the harm of souls." Canon 1324 states that, if the act is intrinsically evil or tends to the harm of souls, the penalty must be diminished or replaced by a penance if the offense was committed by a person who was coerced by grave fear, even if only relative, or by reason of necessity or grave inconvenience. It also states that the penalty is to be reduced or replaced if the perpetrator erroneously, but culpably, thought that necessity or grave inconvenience existed. [Emphasis mine.] In all these circumstances, canon 1324 concludes, automatic penalties do not apply.


The facts are indisputable. Pope John Paul II expressly warned Abp. Lefebvre/SSPX NOT to consecrate its own bishops before Lefebvre did so, and His Holiness advised him of the consequences - excommunication. Lefebvre was in his 80's and had no real successor within his own or any other bishopric, just his own ordained priests, so when the Vatican was too slow to come to his heel, as opposed to the other way around, he went ahead and consecrated his own, chosen four bishops in direct defiance of papal authority and direction. This resulted in the excommunication of the Abp. and his bishops, and extends to SSPX followers.

Because the precise nature of excommunication was not stated at the time, SSPX'ers choose not to believe that excommunication is applicable. (This is not an uncommon phenomenon, after watching our favorite CINO, pro-abort, thrice married, twice-divorced politicians take communion during the Papal Masses in DC & NYC a few weeks back - "I don't agree, so I will go ahead and do what I want to anyway.") Claiming "error" as an excuse under canon law does not cut it - the facts of the illicit consecrations undercut that argument. One man's "error" has placed tens of thousands of souls in peril.

Back to the books, Canon 1325 states: "Ignorance which is crass or supine or affected can never be taken into account when applying the provisions of canons 1323 and 1224."

(Hubris should be in there, too. Not liking modernism or the Novus Ordo is not sufficient grounds for splintering from Mother Church - it does not constitute "necessity" or "grave inconvenience" to submit to Papal authority if you are a true Roman Catholic.)

The shame of it is, as I stated to Steve in our previous discussion, is that SSPX's devotion to Tradition (big and little "t") and the Tridentine rite is a beautiful thing. The methodology chosen by its founder, however, was misguided and, I believe, a result of very human feelings of superiority, vanity, pride, arrogance, and presumption - literally, Abp. Lefebvre's conduct indicates that he fully believed he was "more Catholic than the Pope."

Steve will undoubtedly respond with the usual SSPX talking points and ask the usual loaded "questions." (Ever notice how, when people ask the wrong questions, no matter what you say, they are going to get wrong answers. Unless you agree with everything they say within the "question," they will not be satisfied.)

So Steve, here you go: there is one, holy Roman answer to your questions. The Catholic Church, is, was, and always will be the one, true, universal Church, and it is led by the Successor of Peter, Vicar of Christ on Earth, Bishop of Rome - the Pope - who, by dogma, is infallible. Period. Rogue Bishops, however well intended, misguided, or both, are fallible. They hurt us all, and do grave damage by leading souls astray in inviting them into their own "cult of personality."

This is not a matter of me disagreeing with you, Steve, or being overly "sensitive" about the questions you pose. As I said, we agree in principle on many things, but we diverge sharply when it comes to practice. No, I am not a Novus Ordo fan. Mass said in the vernacular brought the message to the people, but at the same time created a modern-day Tower of Babel. I have to look at crib notes during a Latin Mass. I don't know all of my prayers in Latin, because I was born in 1968, my parents divorced when I was 6, and I was not allowed to go to Catholic school in my small town because of the divorce. I got pissed off as a teenager and left until after I married and had my first child (about the same time I sat next to Jim's friend the first day of law school, actually).

So I am self taught, and not all that well, obviously. But I do know one pretty basic thing: what Papa says, goes. Not Cdl. Arinze, not (gasp) Bp. Clark, not my favorite priest....and not the late Abp. Marcel Lefebvre.

Okay. I will await my virtual thwacking from Steve now, but other readers, feel free to dive in.