Tuesday, January 31, 2006

'Tis The (Awards) Season

Nominations are open for the 2006 Catholic Blog Awards.

"If nominated, I will not accept. If elected, I will not serve."

Being my harshest critic, I am of the strongest opinion this "infinitesimal corner of the universe" is not worthy of even being nominated. Especially since the most recent posts have been more filler than anything, just to let the 'blogosphere know I am still around.

Anyone on my 'blog roll deserves much more consideration. Please give them serious thought.

Memorials

"Because I could not stop for Death,/He kindly stopped for me;..." With those words from Emily Dickinson, I take the time to acknowledge two members of my 'blog roll who have experienced the death of a person near and dear to them.

The Anchoress' loss is a very sudden and swift one. A friend of hers from the same parish which they attended succumbed to a cancerous tumor undetected until recently. Her friend, a single mother of three children, has become a rallying point for the members of the parish as a heartfelt exercise in the corporal works of mercy.

For Rich Leonardi, his loss is familial: his father. Rich Leonardi, Sr. developed a case of pneumonia and necessitated for the son a trip to Florida to be with him. A week later, the end came. He then gives his recollections of that time and then follows it with a wonderful tribute to the man who not only gave him life and his name, but also a deep appreciation of the Faith.

My condolences to both.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Two For One

A couple of chances to get a guffaw:
A rabbi had to spend time in a Catholic hospital. He became friends with the Sister who was a nurse there.

One day, she came into his room and noticed that the crucifix on the wall was missing. She asked him good-naturedly, "Rabbi, what have you done with the crucifix?"

"Oh, sister," chuckled the rabbi, "I just figured one suffering Jew in this room was enough."
(Note: I changed the religious affiliation on this one.)
A pious man who had reached the age of 105 suddenly stopped going to church.

Alarmed by the old fellow's absence after so many years of faithful attendance, the priest went to see him. He found him in excellent health.

The priest asked, "How come after all these years we don't see you at Mass anymore?"

The old man looked around and lowered his voice. "I'll tell you, Father," he whispered. "When I got to be 90, I expected God to take me any day. But then I got to be 95, then 100, then 105. So I figured that God is very busy and must've forgotten about me, and I don't want to remind Him!"

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Papal Paper #1

The first encyclical by His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est (God Is Love), has been released today. Once again, I have refused to report on any premature "rumors" about it, simply because I believe in not speculating. History will happen when it happens.

Two articles from Catholic Exchange announce its formal release and a summary of its contents.

If there is any indication from his previous published works as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger and the various speeches, prayers, meditations (remember Good Friday 2005?) and homilies he has made in the last nine months, this will have a lot to say in an economy of words. Purchase your copy soon.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Roe Redux

The scene at the National Mall in Washington, DC this time of the year hasn't changed much in the past 33 years. Faces and fashions have; the reason hasn't. And I can only think of two other issues which have polarized the country with such passion: slavery and Vietnam.

In the Culture War, there really is only one battle front. Every other skirmish is an offshoot of this.

Of course, I speak of the issue of abortion.

We have been a country which seemingly has been built on opposing forces. It has been the ability to find compromise between sides which has allowed us to progress as a nation. When it comes to abortion, there doesn't seem to be any room for compromise.

More significantly, there seems to be no want nor willingness on either side to compromise.

Not that I believe there is a middle ground to search. I don't think such a concept exists with this. Those who are poor-(pro-)choice like what Roe vs. Wade (as well as Doe vs. Bolton) has created; those who are pro-life don't. What do you wish to concede?

That's what I thought. Nothing.

It would take a very dramatic action to break the loggerhead. If and when it happens, one side is not going to be happy, because that side will lose whatever gains it had made. And, unfortunately, it won't resolve the problem.

So both sides dig in their heels. But the truce favors the poor- (pro-)choice side. Nothing changes. The status quo is status quo.

33 years later.

Smile And Say "Cheese"

A short and sweet story:

A little girl walked to and from school daily. Though the weather that morning was questionable and clouds were forming, she made her daily trek to the elementary school. As the afternoon progressed the winds whipped up, along with thunder and lightning.

The mother of the little girl felt concerned her daughter would be frightened as she walked home from school; she herself feared that the electrical storm might harm her child. Following the roar of thunder, lightning, like a flaming sword, would cut through the sky. Full of concern, the mother quickly got into her car and drove along the route to her child's school.

As she did so, she saw her little girl walking along; but at each flash of lightning, the child would stop, look up, and smile. Another and another were to follow quickly; and with each the little girl would look at the streak of lightning and smile. When the mother's car drew up beside the child she lowered the window and called to her, "What are you doing? Why do you keep stopping?"

The child answered, "I am trying to look pretty. God keeps taking my picture."

May God bless you today as you face the storms that come your way.

An angel says, "You can't hurt your eyes by looking on the bright side."

Friday, January 20, 2006

Meeting Place

As I mentioned when I introduced and added them to my 'blog roll, I have "met" both Anastasia Crosswell and Krush.

Well, not really. At least not in person.

Welcome to the world of on-line dating sites.

I have been a subscriber to various sites for about eight years. I am currently "active" (meaning I have a visible profile) on three right now. The one I enjoy the most is where I "met" both of these ladies.

CatholicSingles.com bills itself as "the original and largest Catholic single site." Appearing on the web in 1997, it has registered over 100,000 people, 35,000+ which they consider active (which I think means they have paid their membership fee). Not only providing an avenue where you can meet people from across the USA and other countries as well, it also is a portal to other Catholic sites. They offer an array of other very useful features.

Where I "met" Anastasia and Krush was in the site's main chat room. The atmosphere in there, according to people who have been in other chat rooms, is the most friendly and hospitable they have experienced. Much of that is due to the chatters themselves, who enjoy the fact they have an outlet where they can engage in "small talk" without the vulgarity and obscenity found in other chat rooms and strive to maintain that standard. While the conversation mostly is in a light vain, there are times when serious (and sometimes heated but still civil) discussions take place. For those times where things could get out of hand, there are members who have volunteered to be a "chat monitor" and have the power to restore order. (On most nights, you may even find a certain 'blogger quietly performing those duties.)

I have been a member for over five years. (Yes, there's a story behind that. Hopefully, it won't take me as long to post that as it did this.) I have gotten to know, as much as one is able in a virtual setting, many wonderful people. I enjoy the fellowship there. There are people, like Anastasia and Krush, with whom I keep in contact off-site. And, God willing, it may be the setting where I find my "soulmate".

If you are single and Catholic, I highly recommend joining.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Pearls

Continuing this occasional series of e-mail inspirations:

The cheerful little girl with bouncy golden curls was almost five. Waiting with her mother at the checkout stand, she saw them--a circle of glistening white pearls in a pink foil box. "Oh, Mommy! Please, Mommy? May I have them? Please, Mommy? Please?"

Quickly the mother checked the back of the little foil box and then looked back into the pleading blue eyes of her little girl's upturned face. "A dollar ninety-five. That's almost $2.00. If you really want them, I'll think of some extra chores for you. In no time, you can save enough money to buy them yourself. Your birthday's only a week away and you might get another crisp dollar bill from Grandma."

As soon as Jenny got home, she emptied her penny bank and counted out 17 pennies. After dinner, she did more than her share of chores. She went to the neighbor and asked Mrs. McJames if she could pick dandelions for ten cents. On her birthday, Grandma did give her another new dollar bill. At last, she had enough money to buy the necklace.

Jenny loved her pearls. They made her feel dressed up and grown up. She wore them everywhere--Sunday school, kindergarten, even to bed. The only time she took them off was when she went swimming or had a bubble bath. Mother said if they got wet, they might turn her neck green.

Jenny had a very loving father. Every night when she was ready for bed, he would stop whatever he was doing and come upstairs to read her a story. One night as he finished the story, he asked Jenny, "Do you love me?"

"Oh, yes, Daddy. You know that I love you."

"Then give me your pearls."

"Oh, Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have Princess, the white horse from my collection, the one with the pink tail. Remember, daddy? The one you gave me. She's my very favorite."

"That's okay, Honey. Daddy loves you. Good night." And he brushed her cheek with a kiss.

About a week later, after the story time, Jenny's father asked again, "Do you love me?"

"Daddy, you know I love you."

"Then give me your pearls."

"Oh, Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have my baby doll. The brand new one I got for my birthday. She is beautiful and you can have the yellow blanket that matches her sleeper."

"That's okay. Sleep well. God bless you, little one. Daddy loves you." And as always, he brushed her cheek with a gentle kiss.

A few nights later when her father came into her bedroom, Jenny was sitting on her bed with her legs crossed Indian style. As he came closer, he noticed her chin was trembling and one silent tear rolled down her cheek. "What is it, Jenny? What's the matter?"

Jenny didn't say anything, but lifted her little hand up to her father. When she opened it, there was her little pearl necklace. With a little quiver, she finally said, "Here, Daddy, this is for you."

With tears gathering in his own eyes, Jenny's father reached out with one hand to take the dime store necklace. With the other hand, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a blue velvet case with a strand of genuine pearls and gave them to Jenny. He had them all the time. He was just waiting for her to give up the dime-store stuff so he could give her the genuine treasure.

So it is with our Heavenly Father. He is waiting for us to give up the cheap things in our lives so that He can give us beautiful treasures. Isn't God good?

Are you holding things God wants you not to have? Are there harmful or unnecessary partners, relationships, habits, and activities to which you are so attached it seems impossible to let them go?

Sometimes it is so hard to see what is in the other hand, but do believe this one thing:

God will never take away something without giving you something better in its place.

The greatest gifts happen when you share love and touch others.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Laughs?

Found on a browser portal:

St. Peter was standing at the Pearly Gates with his PA, and a man approached. "What is your name?" St. Peter asked.

The man gave it. Looking at the book his PA was holding, St. Peter said, "Oh, you are a doctor. You have done a lot of good; you can enter."

Next came a lady who was a kindergarten teacher. St. Peter said she had done much good by educating young minds; so she, too, could enter.

Next came a scrap metal dealer. "I will have to consult on this," St. Peter said and disappeared up the road.

As he was coming back, a breathless PA told him that the dealer was gone and so were the Pearly Gates!

Groan if you must. (The devil made him do it?)

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Meme: Five Weird Habits

"OK. Who's due for some fun? Hmmm."

So asks the Holy Fool, who has tagged me with the following meme, which had been floating around the 'blogosphere for awhile:

Rules: The first player of this game starts with the topic "five weird habits of yourself" and people who get tagged need to write an entry about their five weird habits as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose the next five people to be tagged and link to their web journals. Don't forget to leave a comment in their blog or journal that says "You are tagged" (assuming they take comments) and tell them to read yours.

Heaven help me! While I am not perfect, no one like to expose their "warts", however silly they may be. And, yes, these seem rather silly:

1. I wear an old nylon running suit for bedclothes. I prefer sleeping "warm" and this seems to help.
2. I have a canister where I keep old candle wax. The plan is eventually to make another candle out of it.
3. I still keep my Bible in its original box. And I still have the top flap to it, which I need to reattach.
4. I have receipts of purchases made over three years ago. Why? (It's actually part of my pack rat mentality.)
5. I don't personally answer my telephone until 9:00 PM. You will get my answering machine until then.

And the next five? That will be easy. The gang of five over at the Shrine of the Holy Whapping.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Another "Jester"

Jeff Miller, the Curt Jester, has done it again.

Here's an idea on how to get "the reform of the Reform" on the fast track.

(I have got to link to him more often.)

Ghost Town

First Unam Sanctum, now De Civitate Dei.

Rick Lugari has decided to close shop for now (although he is leaving the door open for his other 'blog, Musum Pontificalis). His last post explains the reasons why. I can't blame him at all.

Go over and give him a wonderful send off.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Slice And Dice

I have only fisked two articles in my brief time as a 'blogger. I will admit it is something I gleefully enjoy when given the chance to rebut an article. However, I am not as cynical and sarcastic as some people, which make a fisking all the more delightful.

Dale Price, the 'blogger of Dyspeptic Mutterings, is a master fisker. Exhibit A.

Remind me never to get on his bad side.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Venite, Adoremus Dominum

"We have seen His star in the East..."

A Holy Day of Obligation in many countries, but not here. I think if it were, it would be celebrated on the Sunday nearest the original feast day. Remind you of another feast day moved to Sunday?

I have to concur with Mary Jane Ballou, the 'blogmistress at Sacred Miscellany. This post is a short and sweet statement on why the liturgical year should not be viewed in the same light as the calendar with which we mark time.

Aren't we supposed to be in this world, but not of it?

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Meme: Year End/New Year

I saw this meme at both De Civitate Dei and Happy Catholic. I'll play along with this one:

What was your favorite movie in 2005?
I didn't see a movie in 2005. The last movie I saw was "The Passion Of The Christ" on Holy Saturday afternoon 2004.

What was your favorite book in 2005?
"The Laws Of Money" by Suze Orman was the only new book I purchased last year and read. I just purchased "The Truth About Money" (3rd. edition) by Ric Edelman and will be digesting that from time to time.

Are you richer or poorer?
Silly question.

Thinner or fatter?
My weight fluctuated between 195-205 pounds last year. It's at 195 right now and needs to continue to decrease (the goal is 175-180).

What kept you sane this past year?
Three things kept me going. One was the practice of my Faith. The second was the support of people who knew about my struggles. The third was looking forward to whatever sports officiating I did, as an escape from my worries.

Which personal accomplishment in 2005 are you most pleased with?
That I managed to get by financially on what little income I had. Nothing but the grace of God.

What resolutions have you made for '06?
Go Forward.

Which bad habit are you most motivated to break?
I need to stop procrastination. Too much thinking; not enough doing. Big projects or little chores, I have to make a Nike stance.

Which do you expect to keep?
To keep this one will encompass a lot of personal goals.

What are you most looking forward to in 2006?
The day when someone says to me, "Come; we want you." Whether that is a new job or graduate school remains to be seen.

Anyone else? Your 'blog or the comment box.

Scenic Change

The "law firm" known as Southern Appeal has moved into a new office building. Please change your bookmarks accordingly.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

My "Cross"

It is the instrument of our salvation. We are exhorted to take it up daily. Here, I use it in an entirely different but hopefully relevant context.

I am not speaking of the burdens that we carry, the sufferings great and small we endure in our lives. The cross of which I speak is how I want to conduct myself "with the help of Thy Grace." They are also a small insight into who I am and what I wish to be.

My ideals are two pieces of literature. The vertical post is my favorite Biblical chapter, as a reminder of how I must be grounded. The horizontal beam is a 20th. Century poem, as a call to nobleness. Both of these, in different versions, I have as framed works. Both need to be updated to their correct form.

Upon this wood do I hang this "grain of wheat." May it bear a harvest of 30-, 60-, yeah even a 100-fold.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Stats, Stat

Courtesy of Catholic Exchange, an article reviewing the statistical health of the Catholic Church in the USA.