Saturday, January 27, 2007

A Better Country

From today's readings...Hebrews 11: 1 - 2, 8 - 19

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
By faith Abraham obeyed and he went out, not knowing where he was to go.
For he looked forward to the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven
These all died in faith, having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.
For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.
They desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one.
Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God,
for he has prepared for them a city.

The Father

Der Vater ("The Father")
by Albrecht Haushofer

The deepest folktale from the eastern lands
Tells us that some spirits of the foulest force
Rest imprisoned in the midnight seas,
Sealed up by the Lord God's worried hands,

Until once in a thousand years, there comes
A fisherman who's granted this decision:
Release the awful powers from their prison,
Or cast away at once those fettered demons.

For my father there was this to choose:
Push the demon back into its cell,
By strength of will confine it to its hell.

My father broke the seal and let it loose.
He did not see the breath of evil's flight.
He let the demon drift into the night.

[Albrecht Haushofer (1903-1945) was shot by the SS near the gate of Moabit Prison on April 25, 1945]

— translated from the German by Pavel Chichikov
Hear Pavel read this poem and others at

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Annual Erma Bombeck Writing Competition

The Washington Centerville Public Library is sponsoring it's annual Erma Bombeck Essay Writing Competition. You can also read the past year's winning entries.

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Rules Of Goo

The rules change when you are a mother of twins- those unspoken mom-rules that every mom and mom-to-be is expected to know, having magically received them telepathically from other moms throughout the globe the day you found out you were pregnant. If you didn’t get those rules, don’t feel bad. As a mom, sooner or later the sound of your own mother’s voice in your head comes echoing back at you, and sometimes you can even see her in your mind’s eye…with a bullhorn and a clipboard. Yes, motherhood involves schizophrenia, but they don’t tell you this until after the fact. Mothering twins involves babyophrenia which is the ability to simultaneously fill a sippy-cup with one hand while balancing a 23-pound toddler in the other arm and plunging the toilet to retrieve a plastic 5 inch Eeyore toy, while you are singing the theme to “Elmo’s Big Day”.

Natural law ceases to make any sense whatsoever when you have children. For example, I’m no math genius, but it doesn’t add up that my daughter (who is 15 months old and who weighs about 20 pounds and who hasn’t eaten anything in the last 4 days except a few graham crackers and the occasional dollop of baby rash ointment) has been able to produce at least 400 pounds of goo from one end of her or the other. They didn’t tell me about the goo when I got the rules. My mother laughs in a kind of revengeful sort of way in my mind’s eye.

Goo, for those who are non-parents, is a space-age type substance which is made up largely of the stuff that keeps the Starship Enterprise flying backwards and forwards through time. It is indestructible; from what I have seen it can melt steel. Its pungent odor defies description. Despite these qualities, the pediatrician has reassured me that I don’t need a Hazmat suit when handling it. She recommended that I try feeding the baby Jello, which apparently has anti-goo properties, to cut down on the overall goo production.

I notice the questions change too. For example, now that they are walking, the question is no longer “Is that good for them?” It is “Will that kill or maim them and will it buy me 10 minutes to finish the laundry?” Here is another: Why does a week-old piece of blackened, smashed-into-the-carpet banana, hidden under the table have more appeal than fresh, happy, friendly, jiggly peach Jello? When this question can be answered, Grasshopper, you have indeed become wise. Or insane. Which, of course leads me to the book of Isaiah.

I love to read Isaiah, while the babies sleep and I am picking cheerios out of my hair. Of the prophets, his book is the most mystical in language and by the time the kids are sleeping and I have a quiet moment, he makes sense. I think a pre-requisite for a lot of the bible should be a couple of Dr. Seuss books. The theologians are all rolling their eyes now. How dare I compare the Word of God to Dr. Seuss! I dare because we are called to be children and told the kingdom belongs to such ones. After spending the day with my kids, I understand why.

There is no pride in toddler-hood. They don’t have to be brainiacs to get me to respond to them. There is only trust, love, and inordinate amounts of goo. My daughter knows mommy can fix goo, just like I know Christ fixes me, daily, when I lay down my pride long enough come to Him. He keeps holding out the Jello to me, and I keep going for the smashed banana. But He doesn’t give up.

From New Advent I found that Isaiah was only about 20 years of age when God called Him to prophecy. He married and had two sons, She`ar¬Yashub and Maher¬shalal¬hash¬baz, whose names translate roughly into “Hey you!” and “Why don’t you listen?” He was killed by being sawed in half. After parenting, martyrdom isn’t so scary. At any rate, in Chapter 54, my favorite chapter, God speaks to Israel through him in such beautiful language, with a promise not only of restoration but of majesty.

11 O poor little one, tossed with tempest, without all comfort,
behold I will lay thy stones in order, and will lay thy foundations with sapphires,
12 And I will make thy bulwarks of jasper: and thy gates of graven stones,
and all thy borders of desirable stones.
13 All thy children shall be taught of the Lord:
and great shall be the peace of thy children.

I pray for this restoration daily, because I know that I am Israel. I know that the Lord is clarity and sanity in a world of illusion and emptiness. I pray for the peace of my children, that I may lay the foundations of the faith for them rightly, as God lays all my own stones in order. The Christian walk is hard and not for wimps. Much like parenting, it involves a lot of strength. If not for love, we wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) be involved in either pursuit. Which must mean I’m not a masochist for forcing myself to like Elmo, right? I will like Elmo….I will.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Choice To Love

A Mag Diaries Holy Spirit 2007 Award goes to Be Not Afraid , a wonderful website that encourages parents who have received a poor pre-natal diagnosis regarding their pregnancies to continue on with the pregnancy and choose life. It includes some very moving and very beautiful stories and articles, as well as resources to these families who make such a selfless decision. Some of the stories have happy outcomes such as mis-diagnosis or healings. Some of them, like the lovely poem below written by a grandmother, describe peace and faith in God's plan, and joy for gift of life the family has been given, if only for a short time.

Pronounced Anencephalic and Incompatible with Life

A firstborn son belongs to God.
Most can be redeemed, for a price.
But you, Jonathan David--
God snatches you and leaves us
empty-handed, empty wombed, empty-hearted.

We've stormed the throne to buy you back,
Offering our very life for yours.
We've pled before the Judge:
"His life belongs with us.
His parents could know joy, the docters awe.
Our faith would blossom and our love grow bold.

Dear Father, if you had a mind to heal,
You could heal his brain with a word."

But the nurses tell us as they gaze
through walls of flesh, opaque:
"I'm so sorry, but there's no mistake."
They never say it quite, and so we do,
"Jonathan David, you're our Pooh--
our bear of very little brain."

A laugh can ease the pain
and cut encroaching terror into shreds
that only cling like webs.

How gladly we would offer you our cells.
Thousands die each day
And those we keep we throw away.
But our mind cannot be yours.
A fog has settled on our souls.

A voice comes muffled through the darkened shroud.
"Fear not, It is I who have redeemed him.
I've hidden his life with me.
Nursing infants sing my praise.
Before you, Jonathan will have my mind
to think my thoughts after me.
In my wisdom His mind is perfect,
and your grief is power."

And so, dear Jonathan, we will believe.
We will receive and love you as you are;
Most precious to us in your desperate need.

If birth is more than you can bear,
than through our tears we'll sing a lullaby of joy.
For you will go unhindered from the comfort
of your mother's womb
to the safety of our Father's home.

If you linger with us for a fleeting breath or two,
we will count each one and remember you.
Our breaths are numbered, too.

Dear Jonathan,
If God, in mercy, grants you one full hour,
We'll peer a little longer past your mind into your soul.
We'll take your tiny hands in ours,
look upon you long and sing our song.

If life rests with you for a day,
then we will give it back to God
who turns it to a thousand years.

Dear Jonathan,if you are born
sheer miracle, and life should last;
if on this earth you burp and grin and crawl;
then you will groan with us beneath the load of sin
and struggle with the dark within.
But you will smell the lily, touch the head
of a baby sister in her bed.
You will seize the power and the grace of a Savior's love,
who with you forever bears the weight of a past.

Jonathan David,
Life is not incompatible with you.
However long you stay within our reach,
you and life are bound in Jesus' sheaf.
In your new home, you will love as you are loved
and know as you are known.

Life's author stands to greet you,
Impatient, runs to meet you,
"Well-done, good and faithful friend!"
Jonathan, you've served me to the end.

Rebecca Jones
Bereaved grandmother to Jonathan, Rebecca Jones is also a mother, author, and instructor at Westminster Theological Seminary. She and husband Peter are founding members of CWIPP, a Christian culture and education outreach.
Copyright, 2000
July 29, 2000

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Catholic Carnival #101

"Finally it dawned on me. The Catholic Church is God's Romance. If the Bible is God's love letter to us, then the Catholic Church is the box of chocolates, the roses and the jewelry."

You can read the rest of this man's beautiful Easter Vigil Experience at Full Circle , just one of the wonderful posts in this week's Catholic Carnival , hosted this week by Kicking Over My Traces . Enjoy!

Monday, January 08, 2007


The first Crispy-Critter Award for 2007 goes to these folks . Please surf on over to Crossed The Tiber to read how they are promoting a culture of death under the guise of "life" and please pray for the unborn.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Egads! I've been...

Presenting: The Catholic Alphabet Meme! I was tagged by Laura over at ...and if not.... I feel so special...I've never been tagged before!

[A is for apparitions - your favorite]: Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal and St. Catherine Laboure

[B is for Bible - the one you read most often]: New Revised Standard Version (sounds like a's standard but revised AND new...?(Catholic Edition) but I love the King Jimmy too.

[C is for Charism - the one you would most like to have]: I'd love to be able to heal by laying on hands.

[D is for Doctor of the Church - your favorite]: St.Teresa De Avila

[E is for Essential Prayer - What's yours?]: Liturgy of the Hours and Daily Offering to the Sacred Heart

[F is for Favorite Hymn]: So Many! "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee" "Ave Maria" "Here I am, Lord" "Christ, Circle Round Us" so many others....

[G is for Gospel - your favorite author?]: John

[H is for Holy Communion - How would you describe it, using one word?]: Intimacy

[I is for Inspiration - When do you feel most inspired by God?]: When I'm with my children

[J is for Jesus - When did you first meet Him?]: In suffering, when I asked the Holy Spirit for the truth regarding the Real Presence. WOW!

[K is for Kindness - Which saint or person has most inspired you by their kindness?] Mother Teresa and St. Max Kolbe

[L is for liturgical year - your favorite time in the liturgical cycle?]: Christmas

[M is for Mary, the Mother of God - Your favorite term of endearment for her]: Our Lady

[N is for New Testament - Your favorite passage]: Philippians 3:10

[O is for Old Testament - Your favorite Book here]: Isaiah

[P is for Psalms - your favorite]: Psalm 56

[Q is for quote - saint quote]:

St. Teresa's Bookmark

"Let nothing trouble you, let nothing frighten you.
All things are passing; God never changes.

Patience obtains all things.
He who possesses God lacks nothing:
God alone suffices." Teresa De Avila

[R is for rosary - your favorite mysteries]: Sorrowful

[S is for Saint - the one you turn to in time of need - not including the Blessed Virgin Mary]: St. Max Kolbe, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Teresa the Little Flower, St. Edith Stein, Mother Teresa (my spiritual guide), Padre "My Papa" Pio, St. Rita....oh so many. How fortunate we are to have the whole court of heaven to petition for us!

[T is for Tradition - your favorite Catholic tradition]: Sacred Heart devotions and Lenten Fasting.

[U is for university - Which Catholic University have you attended or are currently attending?]: I don't. But I have a place in my heart for Notre Dame.

[V is for Virtue - the one you wish you had]: I am praying to obtain them all, in order to fight the vices which I can't get rid of!

[W is for Way of the Cross - Which station can you most relate to?]: 8th Station - Jesus Meets the Women of Jerusalem

[X is for Xaverian Brothers - I do now! lol (They are the religious brothers of St. Francis Xavier. Thanks, Laura.)

[Y is for your favorite Catholic musician]: The lady in front of me at Mass who is singing her heart out, off-tune and joyous. Wow, sometimes that lady is me!

[Z is for Zeal for the faith]: I am zealous for Your house, O Lord!

Ok gotta tag some folks now...
martha, martha
The Kitchen Madonna

Bad News

My Fortune Cookie told me:
Expect the Spanish Inquisition.
Get a cookie from Miss Fortune

Oh boy.