Sunday, December 31, 2006

http://ironiccatholic.blogspot.com/2006/12/top-ten-ironic-catholic-discoveries-of.html

I have to go back and see nos. 3 through 11, since I laughed so hard at #2 I had to come post this.
Today is the feast of St. Zoticus of Constantinople. Seems he was a wealthy Roman who surrendered his title to become a priest, moving to Constantinople along with Constantine when the latter moved from Rome. He is called 'feeder of orphans' in iconography because he built a hospital for them and the poor. Contantine's son Constantius had him dragged behind an ass until he died in around 350 A.D.

Hope everyone is having a happy and blessed post-festive season of the Nativity....I for one can't wait until the Great Fast, then maybe I can undo some of the overdoing I did over the past week!

Monday, December 25, 2006

I videotaped the Midnight Mass for Christmas from St. Joseph's Cathedral in Wheeling, and just a few minutes ago finished watching it. I have to admit I was very pleasantly surprised. Here in the liturgical backwater that is Morgantown, there is not a single NO parish where Mass is celebrated licitly. They're all valid, but every single parish adds or takes away something. I had come to the conclusion that this was the result of some sort of weird 'trickle-down' effect, that our Bishop was wishy-washy on the rubrics, or some sort of flaming liberal/progressive, but I now believe that there is hope for our diocese, even if I don't see any change in these parts in my lifetime.

There was incense, there were traditional carols, there were properly vested altar BOYS, there were concelebrating priests! There was also too much hugging at the sign of peace :-(

There were no extraordinary ministers. There was no Latin. There was no chant (except for the vernacular chanted Our Father). BUT there was no inclusive language, and Bishop Bransfield used the Roman Canon - the long version - and it was all there, word for word.

The most extraordinary thing I noticed was that Bishop Bransfield, the concelebrating priests, the MC and most of the others in the sanctuary actually DID genuflect at the proper place in the Credo.....and at that point the camera angle was a wide shot from the upper back of the nave, and I didn't see any of the congregation kneel; some bowed, but most remained standing :-(

Now, with that as an introduction, I noticed something else odd. While I understood (even better now) all the parts of the Mass, and would have had a beautiful worship experience had I been personally present at this Mass, I didn't feel as if I had missed anything by joining my new parish family - the Byzantine Catholics - for Great Compline and Liturgy on Christmas Eve. I didn't feel very 'connected' to any of it at all.

I thought about this for a while, and wonder if, for the past nearly 16 years, I've been in some kind of RC 'foster faith' or 'faith incubator,' and just recently due to my becoming VERY SERIOUS about living an authentically Christian life, I've been discharged, as it were, to where I really belong. My Protestant background, as I've mentioned before, is a pre-Martin Luther schism from the VERY SAME COUNTRIES evangelized by the Holy Saints Cyril and Methodius. I grew up celebrating Advent; fasting during Lent was never strange to me. Some of my earliest memories of Easter include Holy Week services every night at the Moravian church where I was baptized, including a (I now realize) Protestantized Stations of the Cross, a Memorial of Our Lord's Passion, and the Tenebrae (service of darkness). Hymns sung by the Moravians aren't sung in any other denomination; this year I learned carols of the Slav tradition that brought tears to my eyes with their theological density (meatiness, I like to say).

One of the traditions that I grew up with as a child was that, on Christmas morning, we would all gather at the Nativity scene and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus before we ate our breakfast or opened any presents....in all my years as an adult I have kept that tradition with my own kids, but whenever I mentioned it, most often the reaction was "oh, neat, maybe we will start doing that too." Last night after Divine Liturgy we all gathered in the social hall, where there was a BIRTHDAY CAKE for Jesus and we all sang Happy Birthday before sharing it around. My Byzantine parish thinks it perfectly normal to do this, in fact they wonder why don't more people do it.....

I didn't have to endure watching the same kids of the wealthiest family in the parish bring in the Baby Jesus to the Nativity....instead, I bowed low along with my fellow worshippers and priest, in adoration and love after Father placed the Infant in the creche and incensed Him and sprinkled Him with holy water. After he placed the Babe in His place, Father knelt before Him on the floor and gave Him a kiss.

I have, truly, wrapped the Byzantine tradition around my heart like a comfortable sweater that once belonged to a favorite relative....it's not a perfect fit, but it's warm and I can feel the love in it from generations before me who have tried to do just as I am doing - "love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength." I'm not Slav by any stretch of the imagination, but that strong-woman tradition is just as active in us Irish as it is in Eastern Europe. I've had to mostly find family in friends, but I'm doing that, having no plethora of blood relatives to walk with me this way (actually most of my blood relatives would probably be horrified to find I'm on my way to becoming a Byzantine Catholic - they already think I'm not Christian and not saved because I'm Catholic).

As I celebrate the days of the Feast of the Nativity, I am praying that as Christ is born in me, I can bring Christ to birth in my little corner of the world in some way every day. We are the ones who will rebuild His house, for as everyone can see, it is falling into ruin.

Morning Star, O cheering sight,
Ere Thou cam'st how dark earth's night!
Jesus mine, in me shine,
In me shine, Jesus mine.
Fill my heart with Light divine.
(Johann Scheffer, 1657; tr. Benent Harvey Jr., 1885; melody HAGEN 7.7.3.3.7)

Merry Christmas, all!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

A Christmas Poem, with apologies to Clement C. Moore:

It was sometime near Christmas, and in the 'community'
They had butchered the Mass and its prayers with impunity.
No longer a 'parish,' for that term, you see,
Was deemed too old-fashioned - just like "Him" and "He"!

Since Vatican II and the diocesan studies,
They'd decided that devotions were for fuddy-duddies.
No more Adoration or traditional Stations,
Instead there were posted photos of war-torn, starving nations.

No Vespers, no Compline, no Lauds, Sext or None,
If you want those devotions you'll pray them alone!

The pastor had locked all the doors, and no lights
Were to be left burning to illumine the night.

Father strolled past the classrooms and through the church hall
And turned on his voice mail so that all the calls
Asking 'what are the Mass times?' and 'when is confession?'
Wouldn't disturb his pre-Christmas Zen Yoga session.

He opened the door to the rectory, sighing....
And slammed it, astonished - for out the door, flying
Came angels majestic, with glowering faces
And following closely behind, a few paces,
Was a tall, mitred figure in red robes trimmed in gold,
A most dignified shepherd from days ancient and old.

He sternly regarded the trembling priest
And thundered, 'How dare you! How could you! The least
Little child knows better than you:
We don't worship each other, we Honor the True!
You have mangled the Mass, you have diluted the Faith
And discouraged holiness - is nothing left safe?
You don't preach on doctrine or sins great and small,
Instead you host parties with wine and cheese balls!
You're really no better than a modernist Luther,
And Arius, Manicheus, - you're a "there-is-no-Truth"-er!
You really deserve a sound punch in the nose
Like I gave to old Arius so long, long ago.
Get into the church, and get down on your knees
And pray for forgiveness with sorrowful pleas!'

The priest stumbled backwards through the doors to the nave
And fell on his face, crying tears full of shame.
'Forgive me!' he cried, 'I have forgotten my call!
I have failed in my duty; I have caused souls to fall
Into indifference, modernism, error and sin!
Give me mercy, O God! I won't fail You again!'

Escorted by angels, the saintly Bishop drew near,
And softly he whispered into Father's listening ear:
'Our Lord in His mercy has heard you tonight.
You're forgiven, my son - see the angels' delight!'

And surrounding the altar in that dark, holy place
Were hosts of the seraphim with joy on each face.

His mission accomplished, the saint turned to go
With this final advice: 'you must preach the Truth, so
Your flock will be holy and reverent again.
Merry Christmas,' said Saint Nicholas. 'With your help, Truth will win.'

Friday, December 22, 2006

Today was our first day of homeschooling! We only did a little bit, just to give the kiddos a taste of how wonderfully different it is from SITTING IN A CROWDED CLASSROOM FOR SIX HOURS A DAY.

Daughter actually asked for more schoolwork after supper, and chose to do a science lesson.

Earlier, while supper was cooking, I overheard this exchange:

(three children lying on sofa covered with blanket, watching Nativity DVD):

girl child, looking at shot of Baby Jesus in the manger: "Does God really have a nose?"

older boy child, raising one eyebrow like Mr. Spock: "look there. Of course He does. You can't be a real baby without a nose!"

younger boy child, having the last word: "I wonder if Mary kissed Baby Jesus' nose the way mom kisses our noses."

BTW the DVD in question is part of the New Testament on DVD that I got at the DOLLAR STORE, of all places. It's actually quite good.

I'm a Chevrolet Corvette!

You're a classic - powerful, athletic, and competitive. You're all about winning the race and getting the job done. While you have a practical everyday side, you get wild when anyone pushes your pedal. You hate to lose, but you hardly ever do.

Take the Which'>http://www.tomorrowland.us/sportscar">Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.

Here is my menu for Christmas dinner:

Ham with glaze and chutney
Steamed asparagus with Hollandaise sauce
Mashed sweet potatoes
Creamed onions
Homemade bread
Cheese ball and crackers - Ritz, Captain's Wafers, water crackers and Triscuit
Fresh fruit - apples, kumquats, persimmons and bananas
Homemade applesauce
Mincemeat stuff
Chess pie
Pecan pie
Nut roll
Apricot roll
Cream cheese bread
Biscotti
Eggnog
Apple cider
Assorted tea
Coffee
Moravian Sugar Cake

A couple of years ago I decided that it was OK to 'cheat' on Thnksgiving dinner by buying most of the meal in an easy-to-prepare form - frozen pies and all that. But I make everything but the pie crust from scratch for Christmas. Leave a comment if you would care to have a recipe for anything listed on the menu, and I'll post it here. I'd do that anyway, but then I'd have to change the title of the blog to "Eat, Catholic Soldiers!"

What a wonderful thing Christmas is....imagine: God became flesh and blood, in the form of a tiny, helpless infant, for love of us. The Rule of the Universe, on whom we can depend to supply all our needs, became completely dependent on human parents to supply all His human needs. How can we express our gratitude, the depth of emotion that must flow through each of us when contemplating this most wondrous of miracles? How to get across to others the peace and joy that love of God brings to those who truly try to follow in His footsteps?

All of us have followed Him....we all were once helpless babies. We, like Jesus, depended on our parents for comfort, food, warmth, and love. Jesus was obedient to His earthly father and His Blessed Mother - we too can be models of that same obedience. From the respect we show to our own parents, to courtesy to those in positions of authority or otherwise superior to our own state, to obedience to God, these also are a following of Jesus. Joseph and Mary were guided by the Holy Spirit to train the young Jesus to be a good and Godly young man, a faithful and devout Jew. We must ask the Holy Spirit to guide us as well - in temporal things as well as in spiritual disciplines.

Christmas Day - the Solemn Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ - is fast approaching. Has He been born anew in you this Advent? Are you preparing for His coming - both your home and your heart? Are you following the Star, to come before Him in silent, prayerful adoration? What gift will you lay at the manger for Him, this Christmas?

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Time to explain the title of the blog. First of all it's a pun on "Onward, Christian Soldiers!" think about the words for just a minute:

Onward, Christian soldiers,
Marching as to war
With the Cross of Jesus
Going on before.
Christ the royal Master
Leads against the foe:
Forward into battle,
See, His banners go.

Like a mighty army
Moves the Church of God,
Brothers, we are treading
Where the saints have trod.
We are not divided,
All one body we,
One in hope and doctrine,
One in charity.

Crowns and thrones may perish,
Kingdoms rise and wane,
But the Church of Jesus
Constant will remain.
Gates of hell can never
'Gainst that Church prevail;
We have Christ's own promist,
And that cannot fail.

Well! It would be pretty difficult to retain the meaning while using inclusive language, yes? And there's no denying we are engaged in a spiritual battle of grand proportions. So, it's a battle cry.

I'm a big fan of the 'armor of God.' There's no way to get through this life with any hope of the next, without the help of the Holy Spirit!

It's also a nod to my Protestant roots, although the more I ruminate on the words of the hymn, I wonder how any Protestant could have been so vain to have written them. I mean, it's got 'Catholic' written in every line!

It's also a sad commentary that the NO has pretty much, at least in my neck of the woods, abandoned the idea of celebrating the Mass facing the East - whether litugical or otherwise. Believe it or not, the sanctuary at my parish ACTUALLY faces East! Whoo-hoo! Light dawns in the east - Christ is the Light of the world.

Soldiers - aren't we the Church Militant? We ought to be on our knees (figuratively if not literally) every day asking for our marching orders. And it's not easy being a soldier of any sort (I know, I was one). Sometimes you're told to do something that you KNOW is right, but takes you WAY OUT of you comfort zone. Oh well, do it anyway. Like me homeschooling my kids. Like I really have time to school them, what with being a single parent, running my own business, and so on. But believe me, I knew it was time, so I just have to trust my God that He will provide - time, energy, whatever I lack He will supply!

So there you have it. Now you know, if you were an inquiring mind. Maybe I've made some of you think - or stop thinking, as the case may be.

Remember, Jesus is the Good Shepherd - he won't leave you out in the cold all alone! He will take care of you!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Homeschooler?

Now you can know for sure, thanks to Mama Says....

I will be, officially, in two more school days!

YAY!!!

Let the children say - AMEN!
http://shop.moravianbookshop.com/browse.cfm/2,30.html

The Moravian Star

When I was growing up, in Indianapolis, Indiana, we had one of the parchment stars in the front window of our home every Advent and Christmas. When I grew up I had the star for a few years, then it got pretty ratty, being paper and having been assembled and disassembled umpty-billion times, so I discarded it and got another one, this one plastic that once put together didn't come apart. It lasted 2 years and then a mean person ran over it with his car.

this year I found these, which I didn't think were available any more....ha ha! So as soon as I get the roll of film developed that's in my camera (no I don't have a digital camera except the one that's in my phone) I will post a photo so you can see how pretty it is.

I am firmly entenched in my belief that in Catholicism under the Pope I have found the True Faith, but this is one tradition from my Protestant childhood that I am proud to share with my children. To me the Star of Bethlehem is like the desire for closeness with God that glows and burns in our hearts from the day of our Baptism....we follow or not, as we are creatures with free will, but still the star is there, gently shining and beckoning, its promise ever faithful, a tender foreshadowing of the Voice we all hear in our deepest heart if we will only become still enough to hear: "Come and See."

What do people see when they see you and me? Wouldn't it be nice to know? What do we want people to see? Love, Joy (I almost got unloosed and listed the fruit of the Holy Spirit there, which I guess would have been perfectly apropos)?

BTW the Moravians were founded on a bunch of heresies, the first of which being that the Pope is not the head of the Church on earth. They separated from Rome in 1457 (years before Luther's vandalism of the Wittenberg door), and are theologically cousins to the Methodists.

Monday, December 18, 2006

http://tcrnews2.com/priestsreparation.html

Have you prayed for at least two priests today? ByzCat sent me the above link - meditations on each of the fifteen traditional mysteries of the Rosary in reparation for priests.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Something else that aggravates me: yesterday in the mail I got my gas bill. The cost per mcf of gas on the bill is $16.0080. Here is a quote from the December 2006 Dominion "Customer Connection" insert that came with my gas bill:

...Prices are down from a year ago, and natural gas is again the least expensive way to keep warm,....

I looked at the gas bill from a year ago, and the price per mcf on THAT bill was $14.6737.

I did the math. Prices are UP. By $1.3343 per mcf.

LIAR, LIAR, PANTS ON FIRE!!!!!
http://remnantnewspaper.com/Archives/archive-2006-pope_and_the_blue_mosque.htm

Fr. De Cacqueray is pretty upset. Papa Ben is 'the Pope who took off his shoes in a mosque'.

Hey Fr. de Cacqueray, I lived right outside Istanbul for a year...I saw many of the historic sites of the entire country of Turkey, both religious (Christian and Islam) and secular. I visited both Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. When I entered the outer porch of the Blue Mosque, there are placards there for all to see, in English and Turkish (and with pictures also) directing EVERYONE to remove their shoes, for women to cover their heads, shoulders and knees, and to not engage in loud conversation in case there is anyone praying.

It's a rule. The Holy Father was just following the rules.

I wonder if Fr. de Cacqueray was this upset by JPII praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem? After all, that's not a Christian holy site either, by the strict definition of the term. It's a Jewish site, and while we as Catholics are 'completed Jews' as I like to call myself to my Jewish friends, the vast majority of Jews do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Incarnate Word of God.

Yes, yes, yes, I know that there are MUCH BIGGER differences between Islam and Christianity than between Judaism and Christianity, but here's what the Holy Father said himself about his visit to the Blue Mosque:

"In the ambit of interreligious dialogue, Divine Providence allowed me to carry out, almost at the end of my trip, a gesture that initially was not foreseen and which revealed itself extremely significant: the visit to the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. Remaining recollected for a few minutes in that place of prayer, I turned to the only Lord of Heaven and earth, merciful Father of the whole of humanity, and implored that all believers might recognize themselves as creatures and give witness of authentic fraternity!" (tr. by ZENIT, printed in the Wanderer of December 14, 2006 - the address Benedict XVI gave at the general audience 12/6/06 - emphases mine).

Show some authentic fraternity, Fr. de Cacqueray. My son has attended services in his friend's synagogue, and while there wears a kippah out of respect for Jewish custom. It doesn't in any way mean he is denying the truth of the Catholic faith, any more than my occasional wearing of a saree is denying the fact that I am Irish as shamrocks!

And besides which, the Pope didn't tell us we must all go to a mosque to pray. If this makes for more open dialogue between the Holy See and Islam, well fine. Give him the benefit of the doubt.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


This is Father Kevin Marks celebrating Divine Liturgy at my parish. Photo credit: ByzCat.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

http://acatholiclife.blogspot.com/2006/12/excommuncations-in-diocese-of-lincoln.html

Moneybags is talking about good Bp. Bruskewitz and CTA as well!

The GMSCP is complete, except for distribution of same. Just doing my part to raise blood sugar and clog arteries here in my part of the world!
While reading a review of The Defender (here) on PetersNet, I noticed that they noted that it was suspected that Call to Action had "hijacked" the Ninth Diocesan Synod of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. That particular editorial having vanished from the Defender's pages, I emailed the editor and asked if he could try to find it for me. It interests me because a lot of the stuff going on in my former parish (St. Luke the Evangelist in Morgantown) is right up CTA's alley. More on that later. And Mr. Fitz is trying to find that editorial for me. Meanwhile, ByzCat wrote to Bob Heineman, the CTA Resources Developer, and said: "Hi! Could you please let me know of anyone in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, WV who can link me to local Call to Action groups/activities?? Thanks! (here she put her real name).

Mr. Heineman kindly responded: "Two wonderful folks for you to talk with. Pat Obenauf (address, phone and email provided in original email) and Daniel Caron (same contact info listed for him). We do not have a formal chapter in the area. The two above folks can help you to 'plug in' to activities. There are a number of members in your area. Would you consider being one of the organizers of a new WV branch or chapter? There is a chapter in Pittsburgh. - Bob H.

Well, you all should know that ByzCat is definitely NOT CTA material! She and her family rescued me from the modernist sea that is St. Luke the Evangelist - she homeschools, practices attachment parenting, is married to a REALLY WONDERFUL and GODLY man, has five (so far) beautiful children, is active in all kinds of prolife activities including the Face the Truth Tour, and is the quintessential Proverbs 31 woman.

So I guess instead of trying to tear apart the Church in West Virginia from the outside, openly, as they have tried in other places, CTA is attempting to be the 'rotten apple' and spoil it subversively from the inside.

Shame on you, Mr. Heineman! Shame on you too, Ms Obenauf and Mr. Caron! Ms Obenauf is very active in her parish, St. John's (the RC presence at WVU). I Googled Mr. Caron but no luck.

http://lifestyle.monstersandcritics.com/religion/news/article_1232681.php/Cardinal_Dissidents_worse_than_atheists

Papa Ben's Secretary of State is on record as saying that dissidents are worse than atheists!

And with Cardinal Re recently upholding Bp. Bruskewitz' excommunication of CTA and other dissident groups, their daring in not only admitting to a presence in another diocese but in actually promoting invovement is nothing short of galling.

I personally would love to see other bishops follow the lead of Bishop Bruskewitz and do some serious temple-cleansing. Folks, the Church (at least the NO) is in a SORRY state! One bishop willing to fully live out his role as 'chief pastor and shepherd' is NOT enough! Our Lord warned us that, not only would the faithful be persecuted and reviled because of Him, but that some would come after Him 'teaching false doctrines' and perversions of the Truth. St. Paul and St. John both wrote such in their canonical letters.

Further updates as they come in.....

Remember, pray for at least two priests today - I'm praying for Fr. John DiBacco, of St. Mary's RC Church in Star City, WV (needs intercession of St. John Vianney), and Fr. Pete Giannamore of St. Mary's in Petersburg, WV (one of my favorite priests).

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Saint Teresa of Avila has chosen me and my blog for 2007 - I chose to put up this particular image for a number of reasons: first, it's in iconographic style; second, the tambourine reminds me that she once taught her nuns to dance in the cloister on feast days; and third, I just liked it better than a lot of the sappy images out there.

the dancing-in-the-cloister I can really identify with - a while back I remember thinking if David did it, why can't I? It's a personal prayer style (and I am absolutely NOT advocating litugical dancing here, NO HOW NO WAY!!) and once I remember to do it I will post the talk I gave at the CFP 2007 retreat on "Bodily Prayer".

And if I wasn't such a silly Franciscan I'd be a discalced Carmelite, just like Teresa.
While I wait for my mom to call and let me know whether she's coming for dinner or not, here's an update on the crabs -

All three are buried in the Forest Bedding....a new stuff we put in the crabitat that retains humidity better than sand....it's also lighter. Drawbacks are, you can't scoop leftover food out of it as easily as you can sand, and the moisture condenses on the walls of the crabarium and makes it hard to see the little boogers (which I guess doesn't matter much if they are buried, right?)

And a limerick I composed:

I don't think that girls should be priests,
Which is fine with the folks of the East!
So I've gone Byzantine -
Who on Pentecost, wear Green...
(And I love the abundance of feasts!)

It's true....the Byzantine Rite has umpty-billion feasts, one for every day of the year. And lots and lots of them are 'solemn' feasts, meaning that there is probably Divine Liturgy in honor of the saint in question. Today, f'r instance, is the feast of St. Spiridon, Bishop and Wonderworker in addition to being the feast of OL of Guadalupe - so says my Byzantine wall calendar, courtesy of my parish, which you can visit HERE. (I hope did that right - if the link doesn't work let me know, OK?)
http://warmandfuzzytrads.blogspot.com/2006/12/introducing-more-fuzz.html


I feel as if I have, in some fashion, ARRIVED.....

Monday, December 11, 2006

Here's a really great post about the Real St. Nicholas:

http://regularthoughts.blogspot.com/2005/11/yes-virginia-why-i-believe-in-santa.html

enjoy.
Of course, this probably goes without saying, but (see previous post) if I DID find all that I wrote about in the Byzantine Rite, it logically follows that I DIDN'T find it in the NO. I also found it in the Tridentine Mass, but the nearest Tridentine parish is in Pittsburgh, and with gasoline prices being what they are, and having young children to support, assisting at Mass there is only an occasional option, at best.
Herewith, for your perusal and amusement, and hopefully your comments, is a ditty I composed regarding the quest to switch to the Byzantine Rite (of myself and children, and my friend ByzCat and her family) - followed by the letter I wrote to the Metropolitan Archbishop, Basil M. Schott, OFM, requesting said switch:

(Sing to "Go Down, Moses")

When we were down in NO land,
Let my people go.
Masses so bad we could hardly stand,
Let my people go.

(Chorus) You go, Basil,
Let my people go.
Tell ol' Michael,
Let my people go.

No more should they abuse endure,
Let my people go.
Let them go where the Faith is pure,
Let my people go.

(Chorus)

Who cares about ethnicity,
Let my people go.
They want to worship with dignity,
Let my people go.

(Chorus)

A "Light in the East" they now have seen,
Let my people go.
They were born to be Byzantine!'
Let my people go!

(Chorus)

BTW Michael is Bp. Michael J. Bransfield, Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, formerly Rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The 'ethnicity' line is in reference to a letter Bp. Bransfield sent to my friends about their request to switch - it seemed like he was concerned that they weren't the right ethnic heritage to appreciate or be at home in the Byzantine Church.

OK, enough with the humor, here's my letter to His Eminence:

(Nov. 21, 2006)


My children and I are Latin rite Catholics attending St. Mary's Holy Protection Church in Morgantown. I was received into full communion with Rome in 1991; my children are aged 9, 7 and 5 and were baptized in the Latin Rite as infants. My 9-year-old son has also received the sacraments of First Confession and First Holy Communion according to the Latin rite, and the younger two have made their First confession. I would like to transfer from the Latin Rite to the Byzantine Rite, along with my children, for the following reasons:

My personal spiritual journey includes a realization that in order to advance in holiness, a person must have a deeply personal relationship with Jesus Christ. "Without Him, I can do nothing." Jesus calls me, my children, and all who have been baptized into Christ, to "be perfect, even as our Heavenly Father is perfect." God has given me these shildren to raise. According to Scripture and the Magisterium of the Church, I have the duty and the right to instill in my children the knowledge that will help them have this same personal relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In the Byzantine Rite I have found that this need for a personal realtionship with Jesus is taught from earliest childhood, and the Byzantine Catholics I have come to know in St. Mary's parish are good examples of the living-out of this teaching.

I am a life-pledged member of a private association of Catholics, the Confraternity of Penitents. Its members strive to live the Gospel in today's world by following the Franciscan Rule of 1221, with constitutions amending it to be able to be lived in modern times. We are especially called to be witnesses to Christ through continual conversion of life, service to tohers, and membership in a community of Christians. In the Light for Life series of adult instructional books, published by the Byzantine Seminary Press, these three elements of an authentically Christian life are presented in a very clear way, as metanoia (conversion), diakonia (service or ministry), and koinonia (community or fellowship).

By participation in the liturgical life of St. Mary's parish, I am contiually reminded of my smallness before God and His indescribable Love in calling me and my children to be a part of His Kingdom on Earth. We as a family are united with both our fellow worshippers and the choirs of angels in an incomprehensible way during the divine Liturgy. The Sacred and Holy Mysteries are just that - mysteries - and we will only fully understand what they signify when we are called to our heavenly Home to be with Him Who loved us "even before we were formed in the womb."

I am also inspired to a greater devotion to the Theotokos,m the Mother of God, In a mysterious and special way she was sanctified from her conception to be worthy to bearing in her womb the Savior of the world, and through her intercession both I and my children can be led to a greater closeness to Jesus. My devotion to Mary will naturally transfer to my children.

Finally, on a purely temporal note, I find I am very comfortable with the spirituality of the Byzantine Rite in general, and of St. Mary's parish in particualr. I find my fellow parishioners to be friendly, approachable, and eager to help me and my children learn about our new church home and family. I understand that a transfer of Rite is permanent, and I mke this request freely in the belief and hope that it is a part of God's plan for me and my children. I would be honored and pleased to be accepted as a Byzantine Catholic, and look forward to your response.

In trusting supplication, through Our Precious Lord and Mary, the Holy theotokos, I am your humble and obedient servant,

/s/
Oh, ha ha!
Your Dominant Intelligence is Linguistic Intelligence

You are excellent with words and language. You explain yourself well.
An elegant speaker, you can converse well with anyone on the fly.
You are also good at remembering information and convicing someone of your point of view.
A master of creative phrasing and unique words, you enjoy expanding your vocabulary.

You would make a fantastic poet, journalist, writer, teacher, lawyer, politician, or translator.
You Are a Traditional Christmas Tree
For a good Christmas, you don't have to re-invent the wheel.You already have traditions, foods, and special things you bring out every year.
Here's a picture of my children's Chrismation on December 3, 2006 at St. Mary's Holy Protection Byzantine Church. If you follow their line of sight you can see that, as Father is giving them the final blessing at the end of the Sacrament, their eyes are not on him, but on the Cross he holds in his hand.

When we assisted at Mass for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, we went forward to receive Jesus in Communion....my younger son was directly in front of me in line, as we do when we assist at NO Masses, in case I have to reassure the minister that he does receive. When he reached the Extraordinary Minister - a grandmotherly-looking lady who was administering Communion with more-than-common reverence - he made a profound bow, at which point she looked at me and asked "does he receive?" I assured her that he does, whereupon she elevated the Host and said "The Body of Christ" and my son responded "AMEN!" and opened his mouth to receive his Lord. She gave him the Body and then touched his cheek and said sotto voce "how beautiful!"
Even little children are called to be witnesses to the power and grace of the Holy Spirit and the love of God.
Hermit crab update - none of them are AWOL now; I found the 'missing' crab last night while straightening up their crabitat. I have film in the camera now so I will post pics when available. I realized if I'm going to talk about them on this blog, they should really have names, so...

small crab in American flag painted shell: George

medium crab in green striped shell: Teresa

large crab in gray/brown striped shell: Patrick

One of the other things that happened at that Holy Day Mass I mentioned in a previous post was that at the end of the Eucharistic Prayer, the celebrant said: .....Benedict, the Bishop of Rome,...
I am currently trying to find out what's up with this, and if it's permitted to say that, rather than ...Benedict our Pope.... will let you know when I know.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Last night at Mass, in addition to inclusive language, not-quite-purple candles in the Advent wreath, and other things about which I will rant later, the celebrant ended the general intercessions with the phrase "that He may answer our petitions if He thinks us worthy."

Am I the only person who sees a problem with this? Our worthiness is not the reason our prayers are answered (that's justification by works, if I'm not gravely mistaken). And besides, our prayers are ALWAYS answered! Sometimes the answer is 'no,' sometimes it is 'yes,' and sometimes it is 'wait.' Additionally, if it all depended on worthiness, none of our prayers would ever be answered, for due to our concupiscience we are all sinners and in need of forgiveness. We can NEVER earn the immeasurable Gift that is Jesus' dying on the cross for us.

Comments?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Have you ever noticed that some priests are "Father Firstname" and others are "Father Lastname"? For instance, the pastor at the church where I formally became Catholic was Father Larry, but the priest at the other parish in town was Father Donohue. My pastor was never Father Kowalski, just like the other priest was never Father John. Most recently, in my former parish we've had Father McSweeney (not Father Jerry or Father Jeremiah), Father Pete (not Father Giannamore), Father Giles (not Father LeVasseur), Father Ditillo (not Father Jim or Father James), and Father Teufel (I have to admit I don't even know his first name!). At my parish now we have Father Julian (that's his first name, his last name is Anthony and I don't think anyone calls him that) and the pastor when I first joined was Father Kevin (not Father Marks).

Why is this? In my experience the first-name Fathers were/are generally more approachable, while the last-name Fathers tended/tend to be more dignified and reserved.

This, BTW, comes under 'things that make me go hmmmm' up there at the top of the page.

GMSCP installment #3 proceeding nicely - they are almost ready to go into the oven!

Medium crab still AWOL.

Snowing here!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Happy St. Nicholas' Day! From the St. Paul Daily Missal, published 1960 by the Daughters of St. Paul (Imprimatur 6/30/59, Richard Cardinal Cushing):

Born in Asia Minor, St. Nicholas was known for his great charity, and for the
innumerable miracles he performed. He was an ardent apostle and preacher
of truth, and took part on the Council of Nicea which condemned the Arian
heresy. Because of his devout care of the young, he is looked upon as the
patron of children. Seven hundred years after his death, his holy remains
were translated to Bari, Italy. Let us imitate St. Nicholas' charity and
love for truth.

I think if I hear the word community one more time I will scream. What makes a community, anyway? The American Heritage Dictionary defines the word as, among other things, 'a group of people living in the same locality and under the same government,' 'a group of people having common interests,' and 'sharing, participation, and fellowship.'

OK, I'm a member of several communities, then. My neighborhood, my city, county, state, and country; the Confraternity of Penitents is a community of which I am a member; and I get plenty of the third part of the definition when I either (a) eat a meal with my family, (b) go to a friend's home to eat or socialize, or (c) have donuts and coffee with my fellow parishioners after Divine Liturgy.

So why the NO emphasis on community? This is just the opinion of one person, but it seems that over the past several years the TRUTH has been watered down, and without the TRUTH to hold members of a parish firmly in place together as a light 'shining in the darkness,' some are looking for other ways to give people a sense of belonging. But I think that's just wrong. We're supposed to be 'in the world, yet not of the world.' Right? So it follows naturally to me that when one goes about trying to impose worldly attributes on something that's beyond this world by its very definition (the Catholic Faith), then only chaos and havoc can result.

Something I have discovered lately, as I try to become more educated about my Faith and the issues facing the Church: the more closely one tries to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, and to live an authentically Christian life, the smaller one's world becomes. If you're really serious about it, of course. One just has to decide how serious one is.

We're currently missing one hermit crab - I hope it's molting and hasn't escaped! (Small crab molted successfully; the medium-sized one is the one who is AWOL at the moment).

The Great Moravian Sugar Cake Project is proceeding as scheduled - 24 pieces in the freezer now!

You know, it never ceases to amaze me how you can put together the most basic things, such as the ingredients in sugar cake, and have them end up as something beautiful and tasty, to share with others! Just like our faith. Flour, an ingredient in many foods; the Holy Scriptures, the basic foundation of many Christians' faith. Butter, eggs and sugar: basic foods once again, but they serve to make the flour into dough for the cake as well as improving the taste; Tradition and the Magisterium of the Church, along with the writings of the Church Fathers and Councils give us understanding of the Scriptures and help us 'digest' it into our hearts and lives; the potato, a vegetable of immense nutritional value that grows hidden underground; the sacraments, whose action through the Holy Spirit is hidden but whose 'nutritional value' for our souls can never be fully comprehended. The sweetness of brown sugar and warmth of cinnamon are like the sweetness and warmth of the Blessed Mother as she watches over us from heaven. And finally the most important ingredient of all, the yeast - we are called to be a 'leaven in the world' - to change the world by first changing ourselves, the members of our families, then overflowing through the action of the Holy Spirit to change all with whom we come into contact.

Pax et bonum, and remember to pray for at least two priests today!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Now available, "Turbocharge your Faith - Pray the Divine Office" bumper stickers! Leave a comment with your email address and I will contact you with ordering information. I can customize the colors to coordinate or contrast with the color of your vehicle because I print them as I need them. Yes, it may be silly, but a little silliness sometimes leads to great holiness - and could possible lead someone to the Faith (that they could then proceed to Turbocharge.....you get the idea). Part of my ongoing effort to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit in 'renewing the face of the earth.'

Don't forget to pray for at least two priests today!

Pax et Bonum!
Updates: small crab molted successfully; I think medium crab is taking his turn now ;-)

Posts will be sporadic for a while - work overwhelming, kids in sports, yada yada.

'Pawel' commented that he likes the "Turbocharge your Faith" thing. Yes, you may use it, just be sure you tell people where you read it 0:-)

I am trying very hard to remain humble now that I know there are at least 3 people reading this...

Pax et bonum!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Here is the prayer before Communion as recited in the NO:

Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.

Which, on the face of it, isn't bad - if you're serious about it and really mean the words you're praying.

Here, in comparison, is the Prayer before Communion used in the ER:
O Lord, I believe and profess that You are truly Christ, the Son of the living God, Who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the first. Accept me as a partaker of Your mystical supper, O Son of God; for I will not reveal Your mystery to your enemies, nor will I give You a kiss as did Judas, but like the thief I confess to You:

+Remember me, O Lord, when You shall come into Your kingdon.

+Remember me, O Master, when You shall come into Your kingdom.

+Remember me, O Holy One, when You shall come into Your kingdom.

May the partaking of Your Holy Mysteries, O Lord, be not for my judgment or condemnation, but for the healing of soul and body.
O Lord, I also believe and profess that this, which I am about to receive, is truly Your most precious Body and Your life-giving Blood, which, I pray, make me worthy to receive for the remission of all my sins and for life everlasting. Amen.

+O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.

+O God, cleanse me of my sins and have mercy on me.

+O Lord, forgive me, for I have sinned without number.

Following this, the priest then says to the people: "Approach with fear of God and with faith." And the rubrics in the pew book then state - "Those of the faithful who wish to receive Communion come forward. Meanwhile, the people sing the following response:" Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord; God the Lord has revealed Himself to us.

The crowning virtue, as we have been taught (I hope) is that of humility. Praying this prayer before going to Communion, on a regular basis, with a conscious effort to mean what you say, is bound to produce some humility. There isn't a sentence in the ER prayer that presumes anything about God. It does, however, admit much about us as humans - that we are small and unworthy that such love was given to us in the form of Jesus, the Incarnate Word. That we are always and ever in desperate need of a Good Shepherd. That we are ever conscious of our failings, and while we wish God to recognize our efforts, we still admit to Him that OUR EFFORTS, IN AND OF THEMSELVES, ARE NEVER GOING TO BE ENOUGH. We can't do it alone.

We need God. We need Jesus, His Son. We need the Holy Spirit, Mary Ever-Virgin, and all the saints.

The following was sent to me by ByzCat, who gets the Latin Mass magazine (I don't, yet) after we discussed this very thing after DL this morning -
Quoted from "Posturing or Imposturing?" by John Blewett in the Fall 2006 Latin Mass: "I was reminded of 2 of the most beautiful prayers I have ever prayed - found in the old Mass but nowhere in the Novus Ordo...The second is the Prayer for the Life-giving Bread, the final of the 3 prayers for Communion said in the ancient Mass... 'Let not the partaking of Thy Body, O Lord Jesus Christ, which I, though unworthy, make bold to receive, turn to my judgment & condemnation; but by reason of Thy loving-kindness, may it be to me a safeguard of both soul & body, & an effective remedy. Who livest & reignest with God the Father in the union of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen' "

So that sense of being unworthy but humbly making an effort was present in the Tridentine Mass, but somehow it got lost in (hiss) 'the spirit of Vatican II'.

It's very sad. Pray for at least one priest today - or perhaps we should all pray for at least two priests every day - one good, holy, orthodox, faithful, joyful-in-his-vows priest, and one who could use a good kick in the cassock from the Holy Spirit.

(Want Holy Spirit goosebumps? Learn to chant the Salve Regina if you don't already know it, then go to a church with a Mary chapel and sing it to her).

Turbocharge your Faith - Pray the Divine Office!
Pax et Bonum!

Thanks to dear younger son and his attentiveness at Divine Liturgy this morning, we have these amazing statistics to offer:

The number of times a worshipper makes the sign of the Cross during Divine Liturgy: 42 (yes, folks, that's forty-two)

The number of times this is generally done in the LR (at the Novus Ordo, from now on abbreviated NO - hat-tip to ByzCat ;-) ): 2 (could be three if the Confiteor is used as the Penitential Rite)

The number of times the Holy Father is mentioned and prayed for during DL: 4

The number of times the Holy Father was mentioned at the most recent occasion we assisted at the NO: none - zip - zilch - nada - null - ZERO.

I am off to a meeting/prayer group so I will postpone until (hopefully) this evening the comparison and contrast of the Prayer(s) before Communion of the NO and the DL.

Pax et bonum!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

I actually think I might be able to finish the Great Moravian Sugar Cake Project in time to take them to Divine Liturgy on Christmas Eve!

46 families in the parish, 12 portions wrapped and in the freezer, 34 to go!
As soon as I purchase film for my camera, I will post a picture of my daughter's hermit crabs. They really are amazing and fun little creatures (more proof - along with the duck-billed platypus - that God DOES have a sense of humor). God is also really practical, as well; hermit crabs put to use all those empty snail-type seashells that otherwise would just lie around on the beach and get crushed by the waves. Instead He makes hermit crabs, and also makes them able to survive and be happy (I think) in captivity, so families like ours, where we are all allergic to cats and haven't convinced the allergist that we AREN'T allergic to dogs, can have pets.

Before I tell you the hermie news I should say that we have three crabs: one large, one medium and one small. They really like trashing their crabitat at night while we humans are sleeping - sometimes I go in and look at them with the flashlight before I go to sleep and watch them crawling around in the dimness. Anyway, hermie news - small crab has molted! We lost track of him/her a few days ago, and I found it buried under the sand at one end of the crabitat. We were giving them their weekly bath (that's really a hoot - they love it!). This afternoon dear daughter came downstairs and told me she had found small crab, and wanted me to come see. There it was, unburied once more. I gently picked it up and inside the shell is a newly molted crab (they are sort of rose-colored instead of purple). Amazing!

Funny, but it seems the more I have to do, the more I am able to get done (most of the time).

I actually started my Christmas baking today (yes, I know it's not even the first Sunday of Advent yet, but I have set myself a BIG project and in order for it all to come off without a hitch, I have to start on it now. I plan to bake enough Moravian Sugar Cake to give some to every family in my parish. Here's the recipe:

1 or 2 russet burbank baking potatoes
1 package yeast
1 cup white sugar
3/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
4 cups all-purpose flour

Topping: brown sugar, cinnamon, butter, evaporated milk

Peel, wash and dice the potatoes; cook them in enough water to cover until very tender. Drain and mash with a ricer or fork. Measure out 1 cup of the hot mashed potatoes and add to the butter, sugar and salt.
Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup lukewarm water, proof for a few minutes to make sure it is alive, then add to the butter-potato mixture. Set aside for about 1/2 hour until foamy.
Add the eggs, beaten, and the flour to form a soft dough. Cover the bowl with a kichen towel and let rise for about 5 hours or until double.
Punch down and pat into a jelly-roll pan. Let rise again until light. Poke dents in the dough with your thumb or the handle of a wooden spoon; place a tiny dot of butter in each dent. Mix together brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over top.
Bake at 375 degrees for about 20-25 minutes. After about 15 minutes, sprinkle some evaporated milk over the top to make soft, not crusty.

This is a recipe I grew up eating every Christmas morning and most Easters. The Moravians came from what is now the Czech Republic - they settled in America during the 1800s to escape religious persecution (they are a Protestant denomination founded by Jan Hus in 1457). Although I guess this is technically a Protestant recipe, it is part of my Christmas heritage - and it's double a part of it now that I've begun the journey to the Byzantine Rite: the Church Slavonic language was originally the language spoken by the people of Great Moravia in the Slav lands.

I should also add that this can be doubled, but you need to use 3 pkg of yeast if you double everything else. Also it will not turn out properly if you substitute anything (like spread for butter, or instant mashed potatoes instead of making the effort to cook and mash fresh ones). Apologies to anyone whose diet prevents them from enjoying this.

Friday, November 24, 2006

After making that remark about green beans from my garden I thought I'd post a picture. This was taken about the 20th or so of July. The pole beans are on the far right, tomatoes in the center, and corn on the left. We had beans until late September, and we had corn enough for 5 meals. I do not even want to think about how many tomatoes....I gave oodles away and still had them coming out my ears! And as an added bonus, the window just right of center of the photo is where I sit to blog!
"Bless us, O Lord, and these, Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty. Through Christ, Our Lord, Amen."
I don't know about you, but I thoroughly and unregrettingly overate yesterday. The menu? Butterball turkey (no more store brand, this was the best, most delicious turkey I've ever roasted!), stuffing - which I don't put in the bird, but I grew up calling it stuffing anyway, green beans that I froze from my garden this year - next year's goal is to freeze enough for Thanksgiving AND Christmas, both kinds of cranberry sauce, rolls, and a yummy new dish, mashed root vegetables (hey Byzcat, when you read this, post the recipe or a link where people can find it, OK?). Oh yes, and pumpkin pie AND apple streusel pie. Why did Ocean Spray change the can of cranberry sauce so you can't open both ends and push it out onto the cranberry sauce dish? My mom, though, jiggled it and stuck a wet knife down the side of the can and slid it out with only one little gouge in it. Yay mom! Back to the root veggies - be forewarned, rutabagas are VERY HARD!!! However, the end result is well worth the effort and aggravation to carpal tunnel syndrome that results from peeling and chopping all those vegetables (carrots, parsnips, turnips and rutabaga).

Enough of that - I was going to ramble on about the True Presence.

There are priests who actually go out of their way to discourage people from kneeling at Mass, both at the Consecration and after Communion. It has come to my attention that one such priest opines that those who do assume such a posture are 'holier-than-thou'. So...what exactly is it that happens at the Consecration? The bread and wine are changed from mere bread and wine into - the Most Precious Body and Life-Giving Blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! If we weren't all so worried about what 'everyone else' would think, I imagine we would, if space were available, fall flat on our faces in adoration, and then CRAWL to Communion. I discussed this disturbing trend with my mom, who, BTW, is not Catholic.....here is a rough synopsis of her take on the situation - of course one kneels if one believes that Jesus is truly present in the Sacrament; but even if one only believes that the bread and wine REPRESENT Jesus, kneeling is an appropriate posture. Standing implies equality and surely none of us are so sure of our sanctity as to express that we are equals with Christ. Who does that priest think he is, anyway, and what's he trying to do?
It's very sad. Almost as sad as running into people who, when I tell them I'm now at an ER parish, they want to know why I've left the Church - oh, the height of pride, to think that the LR is all there is! And how starved would I be, along with my children, were there not the ER in which to take refuge from the hodgepodge that is the LR in these parts.
Coming in the near future, as soon as I remember to borrow a pew book from my parish: a comparison of the "Lord, I am not worthy" of the LR with the ER equivalent (and as you will see, equivalent in this instance only means 'in the same place in the liturgy'!).

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Something that has kept coming into my mind is the subject of liturgical music....there is a great deal of really bad stuff out there, which I will discuss in more detail later (maybe even in this post, but I never know when I'm going to have to quit and go do something else more important, like feed children or earn money).
There isn't any such thing as bad liturgical music in the Eastern Rite (hereinafter abbreviated as ER). It's all chant, and there aren't any musical instruments - just the congregation and priest lifting their voices to God in an 'unending hymn of praise'. I don't know that much about it yet, being a new ER Catholic, but it gives me personally a much bigger sense of being united with (a) other worshipping ERs all over the world, and (b) the choirs of angels who surround the Throne of the Lamb, crying "Holy, Holy, Holy" unceasingly. Really - it's a pretty awesome thing to realize that no matter where the ER Church is located, and in what language the chant is being done, the words are the same and so is the tune. I guess if one's parish has an untalented cantor then it could be distracting, but I've seen on the internet that there are cantor institutes to which one can apply, in order to learn the eight tones etc. And I'd have to assume that once one showed up and demonstrated that one couldn't carry any sort of a tune in a bushel basket, the instructor would hopefully try, in all charity, to steer one towards some other ministry than that of cantor.
Now, in the LR, it's a totally different story. And to think that there is NOTHING in the documents of Vatican II that says "all liturgical music is to be from now on focused only on the community and on the community's concept of God....liturgical music cannot use the masculine pronoun to refer to any of the Persons of the Holy Trinity, lest we offend those of the feminine gender....there are to be no more hymns written that acknowledge our unworthiness and sinfulness and at the same time our inexpressible gratitude to Him Who gifts us with the graces to overcome our faults, if we will but confess them and resolve to amend our lives....etc. etc. Case in point: "Gather Us In" (I won't reprint the lyrics here, you can Google the title if you must know). And: "Now in This Banquet," "City of God." Whatever happened to "Holy God, We Praise Thy Name"? Now, I have to admit that some of these would be ok to be used at a praise festival, or a youth rally (but there are some of them that are either doctrinally ambiguous or just plain wrong), but at Mass? Oh well, what can one say? I read somewhere that only about 36% of people who profess to be Catholic actually believe that Jesus is truly present after the words of Consecration. With figures like that, is it any wonder that there is bad music, kids eating their breakfast in the pew and then receiving the Eucharist, adults reading the newspaper in the pew during the homily (no, I am NOT kidding - I actually saw this happen right in front of me at a LR parish this past summer), no vocations (except to the 'traditionalist' seminaries).
Note to self: post on True Presence!
Here's looking at you! Don't I look fabulous? This was taken at a pool party in August 2005 - but the only thing that's changed is that I've gotten new glasses (and I'm a year older, duh).

Here it is, the day before Thanksgiving and I'm playing around on the internet....I do have much to be thankful for, though. I'm REALLY thankful to have found a new parish - that's why this blog is titled Eastward, Catholic Soldiers! We are, after all, soldiers in the Church Militant - and it's ever so much easier to serve in the Army of the Lord when your company commander (i.e. parish priest) is devoted to the cause and your fellow soldiers are as dedicated as you ought to be about eventually earning the Ultimate Honorable Discharge. My former unit wasn't like that hardly at all....I really did try to stay as long as I could, but it got SO depressing, seeing priests come and go, and efforts at increasing devotion to Our Lord and the saints get pushed further and further into the background until finally there really wasn't much left except a 'community' of mostly-wealthy people who were, I guess, too attached to each other to root out the scandal and restore the Truth. It was very sad. So, after much prayer, friends introduced me to the Eastern Church (coming soon - the number of times Byzantine Catholics pray for the Pope during Divine Liturgy)! Wow! Talk about Heaven on Earth! If that's what it's like in Heaven, I sure don't think I'll ever get tired of singing Holy, Holy, Holy from now until ages of ages, AMEN!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Hee hee! I have (I think) figured out how to put up links and all that, plus I have now downloaded some sort of software that supposedly will make it REALLY easy to put picures on this-here blog!

Because I know the 2 or 3 people who are reading this have never seen my: house, garden, a watermelon I grew! Oh yes, and the hermit crabs. I think the tiny one is molting - I hope I don't kill it like I did the last one that molted - you can't bother them and I did. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa....

More later, have to go take an allergy pill....

Sunday, November 19, 2006

There are so many things on which to rant! Sometimes it's so hard to decide, that I just don't do anything. Yesterday evening, for instance, instead of posting something here, I decided to become a little better informed about what's going on with the gay-rights agenda (an issue that really pushes my buttons). It is entirely within the realm of the possible that in my lifetime it will become dangerous, if not illegal, to proclaim faith in Jesus Christ, and to call homosexual acts mortally sinful (I think the term the CCC uses is 'gravely disordered'), as well as being outspoken about the sanctity of all human life, to actively advocate that marriage be once and for all defined as between a man and a woman. I'm really beginning to have the creepy-crawlies over the word 'tolerance' and the mention of the term 'diversity' sets my teeth on edge. I mean, we are supposed to be 'tolerant' and 'respectful' of those persons, or groups of persons, who continually go on and on about how hedonism is the way to go, there is no objective morality, the only ethics are situational ones, and so on ad infinitum et nauseam, and if we aren't, and stick to our moral guns, we are guilty of discrimination, 'hate' crimes, etc. And yet when the liberals blast those of us who defend traditional values and morals, the usual response is 'well, they ought not to be imposing their views on others in the first place.' It is almost beyond my powers of comprehension.

On Friday, we went with the local Catholic homeschoolers' group to Shinnston, WV to visit Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament at the Bl. Margaret of Castello Perpetual Adoration Chapel there. Now, this town is TINY. And it is relatively POOR, even for West Virginia. And West Virginia doesn't have a tremendous number of Catholics to begin with. But the people of St. Ann's parish made this happen. And it is BEAUTIFUL! It's the closest you'll ever get to sitting in the lap of Our Lord while you're alive. Think about it...in a tiny, mountain-surrounded coal town in North Central West Virginia, you can go 24/7/365 and sit, just like Mary did (you remember her, Martha and Lazarus' sister, who was meditating on Our Lord's words while Martha was trying to find enough plates and cups to go around, all the while not letting the rice scorch), at the feet of Jesus and talk to Him (and He will talk to you, too, if you listen). About ANYTHING! He doesn't care if you have fancy words, or lofty theological language, or any words at all. He just wants you to come. And if you want, you can take paper and pen and listen, and write what He puts in your heart.

Hopefully this blog will start looking a little better - I think I have figured out how to fancy it up a little. Until next time, pax et bonum!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Would you believe it's 4:30 a.m. and I've already cleaned up the kitchen (from a mad pizza feast last night), swept the floor, and made a fresh pot of coffee, one cup of which I am enjoying as I type.
Recently I made the decision (for reasons which I may, or may not, explain later) to begin homeschooling my children. Having decided that they will continue to attend public school until the next holiday, I took the opportunity to order manuscript paper, maps, workbooks, and textbooks from several different places. All of which has been arriving on my doorstep lately, the last box coming yesterday afternoon. the dining room has been subjected to some minor rearranging, I added a new set of shelves on which to keep the books, all the little things I imagine teachers must do before students arrive for the new term....and do you know my kids, who are SO observant that they know if I've had a piece of their Halloween candy IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT, only noticed yesterday, and that was only to say 'oh, cool, we have school books here now so when we go camping we can have school.' Now, I have no idea where that came from, because we are not in the habit of camping during the normal school year, and when we do go, the general program of activity is Pray, Eat, Play, Play, Pray, Eat, Play, Play, Play a bit more, Eat, Eat, Pray, Sleep!
My daughter has hermit crabs that she loves very much. One of them is smaller than the other two - it is about the size of a big marble ( a shooter), while the other two are nearly the size of apricots. Anyway, we lost track of the small one for a while....last night when I picked up one of the water dishes in the crabitat to refill it, there was small crab, happily sitting in a lovely hole he/she had dug underneath the dish. In case it might be molting we didn't disturb it, but she and I are both comforted to know that it's not dead (I don't like conducting funeral services for animals). The larger of the other two has had some adventures...twice it has been left out of the crabitat (accidentally on purpose, I'm sure) and once it made it all the way into the upstairs bathroom, then on another occasion we found it in my daughter's closet under a sock. the other one is not very sociable....I think if you left it out it would just sit in the middle of the floor like a lump and await rescue.
I read in this morning's Office of Readings from an early Christian homily...the priest (no author's name survived, so I can't attribute it, but it's from Wednesday of the 32nd week in Ordinary Time, the second reading - the first reading being the passage from Daniel about the writing on the wall) is talking about how being in pursuit of pleasures in this world, while ignoring the world to come, not only has bad consequences for the individual, but drags everyone around down with him. It would be nice if everyone realized that....also it would be nice if the world realized that freedom isn't really the freedom to do as you wish, it's the freedom to do as you OUGHT. So many people today are castigated and persecuted because of doing what they Ought To Do, but because that necessarily involves Admonishing the Sinner, Instructing the Ignorant, and/or Counseling the Doubtful (Spiritual Works of Mercy), they are perceived as being intolerant and divisive. Well, duh! Read the Bible! God (all Three Divine Persons) is intolerant - of sin, of disobedience, of lack of charity, of presumption on His Mercy. And He tells us more than once that we are to pattern our lives after His earthly one. So, having written that, I shall now go and begin another day of serving Him by serving others. Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Last night my two boys and I ran some errands after delivering The Obnoxious Bridal Gown to the store for whom I do contract work (more on that later, perhaps), and stopped at the grocery store to get something quick to fix for dinner, as all I had fish-wise at home was frozen tilapia and bay scallops, and I didn't really feel like starting a big dinner at 7 in the evening....so we ended up in the frozen food aisle and the boys got mac and cheese dinners; I got some veggie eggrolls and stuffed wontons - as we were pushing the cart back up the aisle on the way to the checkout, around the corner comes a family from Our Previous Parish (herinafter abbreviated as OPP) - one of the kids had been in (bad) CCD with my older son, and the mother and I had been both on the hospitality ministry and had worked the bake sale at the annual fish fry.....so it isn't like they didn't know us. Anyway, we get this barely visible smile, no words, just an expression like the Mona Lisa (where you aren't wuite sure if the person is really smiling or just wants you to think that so you can say later, oh I saw so-and-so at the store, blah blah). Well, that was fine - since we have NOT been at Mass in OPP for close to 4 months now, and as yet NOBODY has asked me where have we been (all the more weird since I have been going to the RCIA as a mentor/discussion helper person).
So we are in the checkout line, and I am thinking I should know the people in front of us when the woman turns around and smiles this BIG HUGE SMILE and says "Hello! How are you all?" and her husband greets the boys, congratulating my older son on his being invested as an altar boy - this couple is from Our New Parish (ONP). Anyway we had a nice little visit in the checkout line, and her parting words to me were 'see you on Sunday!'
I'm really trying to see the hand of God in all things, and I believe that this was one of those 'signal graces' that you get to confirm (or deny) sometimes that you are on the right track as far as being in the Will of God. And as an added advantage, we don't have to sing any more silly hymns.
It isn't that I don't like contemporary music, it's just that a lot of the things we used to sing at OPP were more in praise of us rather than in praise of God, who in His all-knowing Goodness brought us to the TRUTH (which has been diluted in some places till it is nearly unrecognizable).
On EWTN if you watch the daily Mass (Sundays too) there will be two MFVA brothers who, when the congregation kneels for the consecration, PROSTRATE themselves before the altar (which is what we ought to be doing, in our hearts if not in reality).

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Yesterday was Election Day. If you don't like the winners, and you didn't vote, you can't complain!
I should say right now that this is NOT going to be some organized, erudite series of posts that people all over the world are going to clog the internet trying to read. Sometimes it will be funny. Sometimes it will be sad. Maybe it will make you angry. I just want to set down how I think and feel about things, some big, some little.
I had reasonably big plans this morning to write someting interesting (to me, anyway), but I find that I am now having to referee a skirmish between older son and daughter - he had a very skimpy dinner last night and asked for a snack this morning before school, so I let him have the last mini pepperoni roll. Which then daughter came downstairs, saw him eating it, and immediately cried FOUL because she didn't have one. So now she is having my last yogurt (so much for my plans to eat better - every time I get something at the store to have for lunch while they are at school, they find it and cry to have it and I am such a softy I let them.
Here comes younger son....oh, he is hungry too! I don't have children, I have stomachs with legs!
One day soon I will figure out how to put links to other important blogs and web pages on this blog....anyhow, I'm a Catholic nerd, and one way I know this is that I occasionally, when listening to the oldies radio station, think to myself, 'that would be hymn-ish if you only changed a word her and there' (and BTW, doing that would result in some better hymns to sing a the Novis Ordo than a lot of the dreck that's out there now! Coming soon, some suggestions along these lines....

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Unbelievable. My daughter, who recently came home from 2nd grade with a failing grade in math, has now done FOUR pages of math out of a workbook I got at - get this - the dollar store! And my younger son, age 5, insisted on being given a page from her workbook and had not done too badly.
In other news, today was Election day. Did you vote? Did you vote pro-life?
Some of you may have read about the 'horizontal' worship of the Latin Rite Catholic church as opposed to the 'vertical' worship of the Eastern Rite churches. This was confusing to me until I actually began attending a Byzantine parish (of which I am now a member).
In the Latin Rite (from now on abbreviated as LR) most newer churches are constructed so that the pews, seats, benches, whatever are arranged in a semicircle (or sometimes completely circular) around the altar. This, of course, results in some worshippers facing, not the altar, but EACH OTHER. The priest, also, faces THE PEOPLE from behind the altar. So the atmosphere of the Mass is that of a community gathering, a fellowship, a happy get-together....
In the ER (which in itself is amusing as an abbreviation, since I ran as fast as I could go to the Eastern parish having become spiritually starved in the LR) the pews ALL face forward (and I understand that in some ER churches there aren't many pews, if any). And the priest leads the worshippers with his back to them, but facing the altar - so it is IMMEDIATELY very obvious that when he prays, he ain't talking to you, dear, he's talking to THE LORD GOD ALMIGHTY.