Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wisdom from Roman Catholic Spiritual Direction: Is there anything wrong with remaining childless?

This is worth reading> Here's a snippet:
Women won’t be liberated by “freedom” from children, for two reasons: children aren’t the problem, and self-centeredness isn’t freeing. The only liberator is Jesus Christ, who frees us from our prisons of selfishness through the love that He is. When our horizons are contracted to the limits of pleasure-seeking and comfort, He opens us up to the wide expanse of the Father’s plan of loving goodness.
Here’s the irony. The world thinks it’s cornered the market on sexual pleasure. But as Aquinas and Augustine both make a point of saying, sexual pleasure would have been far more intense before the Fall than it is now. Why? Because the sexiest thing of all is losing yourself in the intimate interiority of reality. And to get inside reality, we have to use our intellects: pay attention, ask questions, be ready to wonder. Intellect gives rise to the most intense delight.
and, finally,
For that, in the end, is what all that sexual desire in us is for. Why is it so strong? Because the Father just loves babies, billions and billions and billions of them. It’s that yearning for more persons, for more knowing and loving, for more wonder in the world that is the truth of the human sex drive. What an awesome Father we have!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Sayings from Billy Graham

In honor of Dr. Graham's birthday, The Anchoress has a nice little column that includes a few nice aphorisms, Here's a sample:
“Christ not only died for all: He died for each.”
Right now, Calah Alexander is giving a feisty, well-written smackdown to the phrase “God never gives you more than you can handle” but Graham says it differently: “The will of God will not take us where the grace of God cannot sustain us.”
he was the fellow, after all, who — when asked why he would attend a dinner for Bill Clinton after the Lewinsky story broke — said, “It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge, and my job to love.”
It's worth reading.

The True, the Good, and the Beautiful

There is a thought-provoking little article over at Here's a taste:
When we think of the transcendentals—of the good, the true, and the beautiful—we find that the intellect is profoundly engaged by the true, the will is profoundly engaged by the good, and the imagination is profoundly engaged by the beautiful. All three are party to our personal redemption, but too often in our particular culture, the imagination is associated merely with entertainment, and ignored as a very special conduit of, or connection with, being itself.
I am convinced that the art of Michelangelo and the music of Bach, for example, are time-release capsules that can touch many hearts who would not listen to any Christian speaker or read any Christian book under any circumstances.

Friday, November 01, 2013

To Want To Be a Saint

As she does so often, Julie Davis at Happy Catholic gets to the heart of the matter with this quote from Thomas Merton:
“What you should say”– he told me — ”what you should say is that you want to be a saint.” A saint! The thought struck me as a little weird. I said: “How do you expect me to become a saint?” “By wanting to,” said Lax, simply. “I can’t be a saint,” I said, “I can’t be a saint.” And my mind darkened with a confusion of realities and unrealities: the knowledge of my own sins, and the false humility which makes men say that they cannot do the things that they must do, cannot reach the level that they must reach: the cowardice that says: “I am satisfied to save my soul, to keep out of mortal sin,” but which means, by those words: “I do not want to give up my sins and my attachments.” Lax said: “All that is necessary to be a saint is to want to be one. Don’t you believe that God will make you what He created you to be, if you will consent to let him do it? [emphasis mine] All you have to do is desire it.” Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain
Read the whole thing here.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Imprisoned in Our Selfishness

This quote from Pope Francis hit home:
He tells the prison chaplains to deliver this message as well: “You can tell them this: The Lord is inside with them; He too is one imprisoned, even today, imprisoned by our selfishness, by our systems, by so many injustices. Because it is easy to punish the weakest ones, but the big fish swim freely in the water.”
This was from Gregorian Institute email newsletter. You can read the whole thing here.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The danger is...

Ooooh, this is good. From Happy Catholic's Quote Journal.
The danger is not lest the soul should doubt whether there is bread, but lest, by a lie, it should persuade itself it is not hungry. Simone Weil

Friday, October 11, 2013

Strange Times, Indeed!

Writing about the new law in California allowing abortions to be performed by nurses, midwives, and physician's assistants, Chuck Donovan over at The Corner says (emphasis mine):
We live in extraordinary times. Bearing a child has never been safer; never have its processes been more dramatically presented to the human eye than they are now through advanced ultrasound; and medical miracles are happening on the frontiers of perinatology with dazzling regularity. In the midst of all this, our governing overseers offer women and girls less time and less care with less-accomplished medical professionals, no public health tracking, and precious little follow-up. By what standard of civilization does this make sense – or constitute justice?

Amen, brother!

“Men settle down when they get married: if they fail to get married they fail to settle down.” Read more here.

"Don't Assume That Everyone Knows That God Loves Them"

This is turning into quote day. I am passing this along from The Anchoress, who is quoting another blogger, Rebecca Ryskind Teti. Anyway, here's the quote:
Now the tears came to my eyes, too. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Here was a beloved daughter of God who did not know how much God loves her: who had no inkling of the beauty and value of her own soul, no notion of God’s infinite mercy – his power to draw good from evil circumstances, to “make all things new.” How it must have ached her fragile heart to sit in this class hearing about the beauty of the relationship with Christ, but with no understanding that it was available to her, too. She thought she had “blown it” and must forever look wistfully in at the windows of Christianity, never to be allowed inside.
This reminds me of the saying, "Be kind, for everyone is fighting a great battle." We never know what wounds and burdens others are carrying.

The Cross and Colonoscopies

I haven't posted anything from Happy Catholic recently, so there is no time like the present. She is reflecting on the Catholic practice of "Offering it Up", as she had a chance to do with her coloscopy. Actually, this is a quote of a quote. She found this in Magnificat magazine.
Crosses are the great means God employs to deny self-love in us and to increase and purify his love within us. While we, on our side, labor for these two ends by the means which he has placed at our disposal. The crosses finish the work; without them it would be imperfect. The reason of this is clear. Self cannot kill itself; the blow must be struck from elsewhere and self must rest passive in receiving it. As long as I act I live; I shall mortify myself in vain, I shall not succeed in dying spiritually by my own efforts. God must do this for me. He must act within me, and the fire of love must consume the victim. There are so many different kinds of crosses that it is impossible to enumerate them all; and the same crosses are capable of infinite variety. They change according to different characters, different circumstances, different degrees. Some are simply painful, others are humiliating, others unite humiliation to pain. Some assail a man in his worldly possessions, in those who are dear to him in his health, in his honor, even in his life. Others assail him in his spiritual interests, in that which touches his conscience, in that which concerns his eternal salvation; and these are undoubtedly the most frequent, the most destructive, and the most difficult to bear ... All have an effect upon us which inward mortification is unable to produce, and without them we cannot expect to attain to an eminent degree of holiness. Father Jean-Nicholas Gage
Good stuff!

Head and Heart

I read this over at Catholic
The conservative or traditional Catholic, on the other hand, sees in such a “preferential option for the affective” a direct challenge to the Faith itself, such that love becomes unmoored from meaning, and we are doomed to love in ways which do not, in fact, really seek the other’s good. Consequently he spends the bulk of his “spiritual” time fortifying his own understanding of the content of the Faith and explaining why those who do not accept the whole content are not truly Catholic at all. As this becomes habitual, the conservative gains a reputation for being doctrinaire; he becomes increasingly dismissive of those who resist the full authority of Catholic teaching. His acid test for the Christian life becomes orthodoxy. What is important is the head, not the heart.
It hits home. Guilty, O Lord!

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

From A Man For All Seasons

I ran across this quote, looking for the quote about Wales to send to Caroline:
Sir Thomas More: I think that when statesmen forsake their own private conscience for the sake of their public duties, they lead their country by a short route to chaos.

Monday, September 09, 2013

A reminder of C S Lewis' greatness

I found this article aslo over at Catholic Spiritual Direction:  The Authority of C.S. Lewis
I just have to share this:

Here’s an example from the last Screwtape Letter as Screwtape describes the death of the “patient.” He chastises, with lamentation, that his underling devil has let a soul slip through his fingers. “How well I know what happened at the instant when they snatched him from you!,” writes Screwtape. “There was a sudden clearing of his eyes (was there not?) as he saw you for the first time, and recognized the part you had had in him and knew that you had it no longer. Just think (and let it be the beginning of your agony) what he felt at that moment; as if a scab had fallen from an old sore… as if he shuffled off for good and all a defiled, wet, clinging garment.”

Screwtape mourns the relative ease with which the patient died. “Did you mark how naturally — as if he’d been born for it – the earth-born vermin entered the new life? How all his doubts became, in the twinkling of an eye, ridiculous?… The extraction hurt more and more and then the tooth was out. The dream became a nightmare and then you woke. You die and die and then you are beyond death.” Then the patient sees the Beings of Heaven and “he knew that he had always known them and realized what part each one of them had played at many an hour in his life when he had supposed himself alone, so that now he could say to them, one by one, not ‘Who are you?’ but ‘So it was you all the time.’”

Finally, the patient sees Him. “This animal, this thing begotten in a bed, could look on Him,” Screwtape whines. “What is blinding, suffocating fire to you, is now cool light to him, is clarity itself, and wears the form of a Man.” Everything the patient might have considered important is now “in comparison but as the half nauseous attractions of a raddled harlot would seem to a man who hears that his true beloved whom he has loved all his life and whom he had believed to be dead is alive and even now at his door.”
Wonderful stuff.

"Nothing creates a vacuum like wanting to be loved."

The control freak's guide to happiness
Find this over at Catholic Spiritual Direction:
Venerable Fulton Sheen commented many years ago that “Nothing creates a vacuum like wanting to be loved. To demand love is to lose love. A selfish heart creates its own vacuum.” By insisting on someone treating us in a certain way, we almost guarantee our own unhappiness, because we’re setting up an artificial standard that we do not have control over.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Embrace the future!

From Julie Davis over at Happy Catholic:
To have a child is to embrace a future you can't control.
Tom French, RadioLab, 23 Days 6 Weeks episode
Julie keeps a quote journal and  comes up with some wonderful stuff.  I like this quote better than the similar "To have child is to give a hostage to fate."  More trusting in the future.  To trust in God's providence is to know that even the hard times lead to untold wonders.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Principle of Biblical Interpretation

I don't want to forget this:
St. Augustine is credited with this famous interpretation principle: “The New is in the Old concealed and the Old is in the New revealed.”
I couldn't have said it better myself.  Smart guy, that Augustine

Monday, May 20, 2013

Wounded by Beauty

I was reading this review of the Benedictine Sisters Of Ephesus new album, Angels and Saints, and found thiw quote:
Earlier, I mentioned a speech on beauty given by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI during his time as a Cardinal. In was in that speech, “Wounded By the Arrow of Beauty,” [available in this book] that he spoke these famous words:
I have often said that I am convinced that the true apologetics for the Christian message, the most persuasive proof of its truth, offsetting everything that may appear negative, are the saints, on the one hand, and the beauty that the faith has generated, on the other. For faith to grow today, we must lead ourselves and the persons we meet to encounter the saints and to come in contact with the beautiful.
I have often thought that the beauty of the Church's music, architecture, and religious art is a sort of Trojan Horse in the modern world, because it still is appreciated, precisely for its beauty, even by those who have no use for religion or Christianity.  Yet beauty speaks to us of God, and this beauty keeps the doors open for those who in intellectual argument would never consider a Christian point of view as reasonable or appealing.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Words of Wisdom

Tom Connor shared this with me over lunch today:

"Every saint has a past, every sinner has a future." ~ ~ ~ Oscar Wilde
So I shared this with him:

"Trust the past entirely to God’s mercy,
The present to his tender love,
And the future to His providence and care over you." ~ ~ ~ St. Augustine of Hippo

Discuss amongst yourselves.

Monday, April 29, 2013

"Ten Things to Do Instead of Wallowing"

I got to this thanks to Julie from Happy Catholic:
Ten Things to Do Instead of Wallowing

by Simcha Fisher Thursday, April 25, 2013 10:53 AM Comments (40)

As Catholics and as citizens, we have a responsibility to be well-informed about the news, because we have a responsibility to do the right things: write to our congressmen, elect the right (or the least disastrous) candidates, make the right choices for our kids' education, maybe boycott or support the right corporations, and of course pray for the right things. But keeping up with the news most certainly falls under the law of diminishing returns. After a while, reading the headlines stops informing you and starts deflating you. You think you're filling your brain with information so you can be spurred to action, but you're really just filling your heart with despair until you feel like there's no point in even trying to act.

What to do?

There are lots of things you can do which are more valuable than listening to the news: you can volunteer at a soup kitchen, or organize a singalong for nursing home residents, or get qualified as a hospice volunteer, and so on. But these are projects that take time and organization. What can you do right now, when you're sitting in your kitchen and you know you're making yourself miserable by obsessively reading and forwarding every last update about Gosnell and the Boy Scouts and Bangladesh and gay marriage and the HHS mandate and Monsanto, but you don't know how to break away.

Turn it all off -- the radio, the TV, and anything with internet. A day would be nice, but try it just for an hour -- and try to choose the hour when you know you tend to get bogged down (for me, it's around 4:30 PM). Your life won't fall apart if you miss the latest dire forwards.

Clean something. On the day Obama was elected, my entire kitchen got scoured within inches of its life (and I discovered my sisters' kitchens all did, too). It was just an instinctive response, so I could feel like I was back in control of something; but I really did feel more hopeful, energized and encouraged once it was done. Just pick one spot in the house, car, or office that always drags at you when you see it, and give it twenty minutes of focussed attention.

Fix something. Same principle as cleaning: just getting control of one little thing makes the whole world seem more hopeful. Tighten up that wobbly doorknob, change that light bulb, or finally finish sanding that spackling job in the hall, and see if the world doesn't take on a more hopeful tone.

Go outside. Fresh air and sunshine are still free! Go get some.

Say "yes" to the next person who asks you for something. You can't make the world stop saying "No, no, no" to everything good. But that doesn't mean you have to be part of the chorus.

Read to someone. If you don't have little kids, older kids and other adults still enjoy being read to. Or if there's no one at all, you could even make a recording of yourself and send it to a niece or nephew or grandchild. Reading out loud to another person is a wonderful way to feel connected, especially if you're passing on a favorite book or story to someone who hasn't discovered it yet.

Plant something. Even if you only have a cruddy little corner of soil in a dirty old yard, try cosmos. They thrive in even poor soil with only sporadic watering, and some varieties get to be several feet high, and the blossoms are brilliant and glossy. Or if you have no land at all, plant a sprouting potato or onion in a pot on a windowsill.

Write someone a letter with pen and ink. Email is stale. Put your words down on a page and get it in the mail next time you leave the house. Reaching out to other people is a great way to get out of the dank little prison of self-pity and despair.

Take the long view. Think the news is bad? It's been this bad before -- just pick up a history book. Or do you think the American Church is in terrible shape? Maybe, but the Church is bigger than the United States, and it's flourishing in other countries. Evil waxes and wanes, and always has done so -- but as Catholics, we already know that this story has a happy ending.

And of course pray. Just don't fall into the trap of thinking that you can singlehandedly turn around whatever catastrophic situation you see on TV by saying the right number of rosaries. It's the quality of our faith and trust in God, and not the amount of hand-wringing or fretting you do, that makes prayers worthy and effective. Remember, you're praying because you're putting the situation in God's hands, not because you're trying to strong-arm Him into changing the course of history.

Feeling miserable about bad things is not the same as being on the side of good. Take a break from the bad news. That's not escapism, that's reminding yourself of something true: life is still good.

Read more:

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Reflections for Lent from Happy Catholic

Found here.  I especially like the line, 'All other loves will enslave us if they are not ordered to Him."

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Memories and Dreams

I had the most unusual dream this morning. We were visiting someone, and, in the way of dreams, I have no idea whom or where. Your mom asked me to come into our room with her, and she began going through her suitcase. I don’t know if she was going to show me something she’d gotten as a surprise for one of you girls, or what. I was beginning to wonder what was going on. Then the door to our bedroom is slowly pushed open, and there stands Caroline, aged 3 or so. She came in and gave me a big smile, she may have said Hi, Dad, I’m not sure. I asked her how old she was (since I was in a dream, I didn’t know what age of Caroline was visiting me) and she said 5, proudly. (She looked more like 3 or so).  I picked her up and held her and asked her when she was going to get rid of that pacifier, gently teasing her. She smiled and made some comment like 'Never mind'. That was it. I got to see one of my little girls again, and to hold her. It was very sweet, and also made me a little sad. Those days only exist now in memories and dreams.

Last Wednesday morning was equally odd. I woke up about 1:30 a.m., thinking about the games I played in my childhood. These were the games we played in our little front yard on Humphrey Street, like Swinging Statues or Freeze Tag, or out in the alley, like Spud. My childhood days were more like those you’ll see on The Little Rascals than to that of my daughters. I lay there, contentedly enjoying the reverie. And then I wondered, bemusedly, if this flood of childhood memories meant I was dying! Apparently not… This dream, and this reverie, I consider gifts from God. Why He decided to bless me with these now, I don’t know. But thank you, Lord!

Friday, February 01, 2013

The Unworthy Servant

Luke 17: 6-10:
And the Lord said, "If you had faith as a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this sycamore tree, 'Be rooted up, and be planted in the sea,' and it would obey you. Will any one of you, who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep, say to him when he has come in from the field, 'Come at once and sit down at table'? Will he not rather say to him, 'Prepare supper for me, and gird yourself and serve me, till I eat and drink; and afterward you shall eat and drink'? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that is commanded you, say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.'"
I'm feeling very much like the unworthy servant. And Peter's answer is resonating too. When Jesus asked the disciples if they too would leave him, Peter said, "Lord, to whom shall we go?" Amen!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Feast of St. Francis De Sales

In honor of today's saint, I am making an effort once again to read An Introduction to the Devout Life, his classic work. It took me several tries to get through St. Sugustine's Confessions. I think it might just be picking up the book at the right time, so maybe now's the time... I found this quote in the USCCB People of Life 9-days of Prayer series of emails:
"All that we do must be motivated by love and not force. We must love to obey rather than fear to disobey."
Good stuff!

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Erstein Birth, Marriage, and Death records

can be found here. Simply check the box for "J'accepte ces conditions", then click on "Accéder à la version graphique". Click on the letter E, scroll down to Erstein, and hunt away! M is for marraige records, PM for publication of Marriage (must be like Banns of marriage in church), N for birth (naissance) and D is for death records. What could be easier?!

We have not yet reached the Lord...

From today's Office of Readings (St Augustine's tractates on St John ):
By loving your neighbour, by having care for your neighbour, you are travelling on a journey. Where are you journeying, except to the Lord God, whom we must love with all our heart and all our soul and all our mind? We have not yet reached the Lord, but our neighbour is with us already. So support your neighbour, who is travelling with you, so that you may reach him with whom you long to dwell.
Emphasis mine.