Friday, December 23, 2011

Novenas The Easy Way

     Earlier this year I stumbled across this wonderful little "movement" started by a young man named John-Paul. It is called PrayMoreNovenas.com, and he started it to help people like himself to remember to say novenas.  I have been receiving reminders since the Little Flower novena back in September. It doesn't take but 5 minutes a day to say the novena prayers, and as most of us check our email at least once a day it is also extremely convenient.  

     For all you bloggers out there who might be interested, here is a link that will lead you to little buttons and such that you can enhance your own blog with:  http://www.praymorenovenas.com/your-site.  

     If there is one thing this world really needs, it is more people faithfully praying. With such novenas, we not only have our brother and sisters on earth praying for us, but also our departed family in heaven whose intercession we are collectively beseeching. Just think what could be done with so many prayers bombarding the gates of heaven!

    Please, I urge you to try this out. Furthermore, it is our duty to pray for both the living and the dead (7th spiritual work of mercy right there). Why not give it a go?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Laughter Means Acceptance

WARNING:  THE FOLLOWING POST CONTAINS MATERIAL THAT MAY BE CONSIDERED OFFENSIVE BY SOME READERS.            
     For all of us, I'm sure that we understand laughter to mean a good thing,that things are going well. Laughter is a sign of acceptance, of things being okay. This is a good thing, and perhaps something that not too many of us think too much about. But I think we should. Therefore, I hereby challenge you to stop and consider the effects your laughter has, the message you are sending, and the things you may not really be aware that you are giving your approval to by it.  

     Most parents will tell you that much of what babies do is rather funny, especially if it is something that they really ought not be doing, whether it is tugging and pulling at Mom's earrings, or slapping their Dad's around the shin when they don't get their way. Such antics often cause grown-ups to let loose a chuckle or two. Good parents do their best to repress this almost instinctive reaction, because they know full well that the child interprets the laughter as a sign of approval. If a parent laughingly tells the child no, and removes the child from whatever act it was, the child will most likely do it again because it has become a game, and it makes Mom/Dad happy - see, they are laughing!

     So it is in the rest of life too:  how many of us can lay claim to infamy in the number of time we have laughed at a dirty joke, some hurtful racist comment, the sight of someone getting the snot beat out of them? Though we may have protested and expressed disapproval afterward, (perhaps even in the midst of our laughter), "Oh! That was terrible! You ought not say things like that!" such words have no force because the laughter which preceded them carries such weight of approval.

     Many Christians wonder how the world has become such a degenerate place, and don't even stop to think about how they themselves may have helped to contribute to the current state by what they found entertaining. Homosexuals, when first portrayed on T.V., were comic relief type characters; now they have become main characters with shows of their own. How? Because good people, though they disapproved of the lifestyle, gave consent with their laughter - "No, I don't agree but it sure is funny!" Take promiscuity:  yes, there have been elements of it in shows since forever, but it used to be shameful. Add some comedy to it, and ta-da! Instant acceptance! Who cares what kind of moral lessons such characters are sending, they are funny!

     Take the soon to be released "romantic comedy", The Pill*, for example. From what I gathered from the preview, some guy has a one night stand with some girl, who he was hoping was on the pill but actually wasn't, coerces her against her wishes to take the morning after pill, which is actually 2 pills, of which she only takes one, and he then spends the rest of the movie trying to figure out how to get her to take the other one. Talk about a movie which objectifies women and focuses on forcing them into actions they do not want to make, taking away their freedom to choose! She clearly did not want to take the pill and he badgers her into it. And here are the reviews such a movie got:  "Refreshingly Original" - Suite101.com; "Damn Entertaining" - ManILoveFilms.com; "Joyous to Watch" - SameNightMovieReview.com. Great review of horrible things, all because such horrendous things were set in a funny way.  

     So the next time you go to laugh at something which you don't agree with, stop yourself and consider what you are really communicating by your laughter. Do you really want to grant approval to X, Y, or Z? Perhaps not...

*Many thanks to the folks at Aggie Catholics for unknowingly providing incentive and examples for my post, which I had been intending to write for a while now.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Fetal Development

Here are some interesting insights as to what goes on in the womb.  Btw, did you know that fetus is derived from the Latin meaning 'offspring'?


Nativity, Anyone?

Here is a wonderful re-enactment of the Nativity story:  

May it help you keep in mind that which we are eagerly anticipating during this season of Advent. 

Reflections

     It is awesome to me how almost everything in this life is a reflection of God in some way. It is even more amazing when such a resemblance is not intended. Take love songs, for example:  they are not meant to be anything other than what they are at face value - songs about human love. But, if one listens to them with the intellect, and not just the ears, we can easily see how it could be a retelling of God's love for us. How He loves us with a deep and passionate love; desires greatly to be united to us; is jealous when something else comes along and turns our affection away; is so ecstatic when we finally return His love. Such themes may not be so manifestly evident, but they are usually there if one seeks to listen with an intellect inclined toward the Divine.

     What absolutely floors me, though, is experiencing God's love directly through the love of another person. This is one of the kind of things that many of us know, but don't fully comprehend or realize that we know it. Over these past four months since my husband and I have been married, I have had abundant time to reflect on life and I keep coming to realizations of truths I already knew, but have never really understood in a real way before. (A future post will expound upon why I have so much time on my hands.)  Such as the way God is reflected in the love that others show us. It became real for me a couple of weeks ago:  There had been a misunderstanding and a disappointment (again); I reacted poorly and unfeelingly; there was a terrible black cloud made of my own pride floating around the apartment all day; and at dinner, after I had finally subdued my passions, I asked forgiveness. And oh! How readily absolution was given! Forgiveness was not only given, but came with assurances of wholehearted faith and love for me, no matter what I do. Just like God! In my husband's expressions of forgiveness and love, I completely saw the reflection of the love God has for not only me, but every single person He ever created.  

     That was an awesome understanding for me. I knew intellectually that when we act and live in love according to the Word of God, we are reflections of God in the world, but I had never really seen it in such a real way until that night. God is reflected in everything in this world, from the almost imperceptible resemblance found in nature, to the more potent and real images of Him to be found in our human relationships. Perhaps something to reflect on regarding our daily interactions with others.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

More Blog Sharing

Okay, so here is another stolen thing from someone else....I promise one from myself soon.  But in the meantime, I think you all should take a look at this blog, That Most Holy Heart by Fr. Rich Mastrogiacomo.  I found it after watching a video of him playing the drums (posted on Aggie Catholics) which had in its description that he is the youngest ordained priest in the history of the Church in the U.S.  I am currently having a difficult time authenticating this claim, but I found his blog in my searches.  He quite obviously says it better, but he is very musically inclined, and uses his talents in an interesting and unique way (Fulton Sheen with music overlay, anyone?).  Go and check him out.  

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Good Men...Gone? (Part 2)

     What does a lack of father-figures have to do with a lack of good men? Much. There are two basic ways of learning:  observation and doing. Most of what children learn is derived from watching their parents - how to walk; how to talk; snakes and spiders are scary; caterpillars are nice; blacks/whites/Muslims/Jews are evil; everyone is good and deserving of respect; etc. If there is no constant example of a good man for a little boy to observe and imitate, it would therefore follow that he would have a difficult time trying to be one, especially with so many definitions of manhood out there.  


     However, many families do have steady father-figures, and yet there is still what the circles have labeled a crisis in men. Why would this be? I would posit family size as a reason. Observation is one part of learning; doing is the other - children from larger families have more opportunities to practice what they observe. The average family now only has 1 or 2 kids, reduced by nearly half since 1850. Only children often exclusively have their own well-being to be concerned about, and few responsibilities. Some may have a pet to take care of, which takes some of the focus away from themselves and is a way to teach children responsibility and compassion. Children from a larger family, however, have not only themselves to look after, but their siblings as well. It is in such a situation that the character of a man is made. A boy who protects his sister from spiders; comforts his brother, bandaging his wounds when a stunt goes awry; stands up against bullies who pick on his siblings; treats his sisters with respect as his father shows respect to his mother; gives his truck to his brother who lost his, as he has seen his father give to others who have lost; such a boy has the makings of a man. An only child does have the potential to act in such a manner, but the boy from a large family has more opportunity to do so. An only child may go to school, practice sharing and caring , but once they return home they don't have to concern themselves with anyone else. A child with siblings always has someone else depending upon them - home does not give relief from responsibility; the opportunity to develop character is always present. The decreasing number of large families in our society may very well be an overlooked contributing factor in the lack of good men.   
     Just a thought.  

          
         

Good Men...Gone? (Part 1)

     Where have all the good men gone? What has happened to the male species? These were questions which I remember hearing some years ago among conservative, religious, and family centered circles. The members of such circles were wondering what had become of the quintessential man:  one who had convictions and stood by them; who protected the weak and assisted the less fortunate; who was faithful to his God, wife, and family; who would work hard and honestly for what he wanted; who was not afraid to be gentle and kind, but would not let emotion cloud his judgement. They had seen the definition of manhood swing from one extreme to another - from the tough-talking, hard-hitting, no crying, emotions are weakness, "I don't need anyone anyway" macho-masculinity of the '70s to the ultra-sensitive, dare not to offend anyone, effeminate masculinity of the '90s. Speculation abounded among the different circles as to the causes behind this, and the general consensus was that there was an appalling lack of father-figures in our society due to the growing rates of divorce and bastard births. Some even went so far as to posit the liberal feminist movement as the original source undermining the common understanding of what it is to be a man.
     
     Now, from my general observations, the conclusions drawn have a great deal of truth to them. The liberal feminist movement, in spite of the claims of elevating women, really does no such thing. They desire to have what men have, and if a woman cannot get to it by virtue of herself, they rip it away from the man that does. If a woman wants to be 'X' but does not actually have the ability and consequently is turned down, then the feminists become outraged such "discrimination", demand that the standards be changed to allow for the woman to become 'X'. The rules change, and woman is now 'X', but there is no equality - she still does not have the ability that is required for 'X' and the position is now weakened. The liberal feminists desire to tear down men and lower them to a level below that of women, but doing so actually does nothing to raise women to a higher status. This degradation of men seeps from corporate life to the home life. A woman is told that unless she has the freedom to walk away, she is oppressed; that reliance upon a man in any way is repression; that she is fully capable of being both father and mother to a child because men don't stick around anyway. Such thinking leads to increases in divorce and the number of children born out of wedlock, and a lack of father figures in society.  
          

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Cutting Corners

I was cutting up an obsolete rectangle today and it occurred to me that the more one cuts corners, the more corners one has to deal with. Kind of like the hydra:  for every one corner cut, two more appear. Which brought to mind the idiom "cutting corners" (to take shortcuts which usually reduce the quality of a work), and how doing so usually doesn't work out so well. Perhaps this is why.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Accidental Cheater

     I had thought about this topic over the winter when my then fiance and I had been about 15 months apart and still had 8 months before our wedding, and it has just recently come to my mind again.  
          
     Now, there is never a good enough reason to cheat, ever, for cheating is taking that which is properly due to one and giving it to another to whom it is not, and such a thing is an offense against justice. That being said, I have come to an understanding of how some may come to find themselves accidentally in a cheating situation, especially if they are in long-distance relationships. There are different kinds of cheating, broken down most basically into emotional and physical, with physical being the one which most identify as cheating. (Again, a little disclaimer, sexual infidelity can not be accidental. Sex requires an act of the will, an act of consent for one's body to be acted upon in such a way, which is manifestly different than one realizing that he has had one too many without intending to.) Most cheating situations, at least for women, I think, begin with the emotional and culminate with the physical, and are a result of loneliness which they may not even know existed at first.
     To begin:  the accidental cheater does not realize what they are doing at the start. It most likely starts with a friendship, probably a new one. This friendship is new and exciting, intriguing and interesting, as most unknown things which peak our curiosity are. Being friends, they spend time together which is not a bad thing, and it is good to stay social even with one's loved one so far away. But the absence of the loved one, the unavailability leaves the cheater with a hole, an emptiness in themselves which it is hard not to fill. This new friendship does something to ease the burden of loneliness and is innocent enough.  
     Slowly, the two new friends find themselves more drawn to each other, for they get along easily and understand each other well. Oh, there is no danger of anything happening between them, for it is all very well understood that the one is taken. The cheater still talks to the beloved every night, though with slightly less enthusiasm than before, and begins to more eagerly looks for the next time they will interact with the new friend. The beloved-shaped hole in them has been filled by this new friend. No, it is not an exact fit, nor does it seem to fully satisfy, but soon enough they are talking of matters, emotions, thoughts which are proper to the intimacy of lover and beloved, which they are not. Such mental and emotional intimacy, if left unchecked, will eventually lay claim to physical intimacy as well. 
     Thus has the cheater robbed their far-off beloved of that which was due to them as beloved:  both mental and emotional intimacy, which by nature, further demand the completeness of physical intimacy. It is easy to end up in such a spot without realizing it, for what could be more good and desirable than to have close friends?  Especially when one is lonely? How hard it is to keep that beloved-shaped hole unfilled! How difficult to say no to companionship when man is by nature a social being! Nevertheless, such situations must be guarded against, lest one end up as the cheating kind. But I do understand how one may be accidentally a cheater.  

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Home

     Well, Fall Break has come and gone for my alma mater. It wasn't very long ago, just about two years in fact, that I was still counting time by the number of breaks, and how soon it was that I would be home again. Now, I am off and married (just over 2 months), making a new home for myself. And, in uniting myself to my husband, I also unite myself to his family, and gain his childhood home as well. So now I have three homes:  the one in which I grew up, the one in which my husband grew up, and the one we are making together. With so many, it is sometimes difficult to keep up with the places in conversation. For example, it is pretty simple to know where each of us is referring when we are in our home. But it was not quite so easy to keep things straight when we went back to his home in OH to visit last weekend. I would mention such and such a thing about home, and would be questioned as to which one I meant:  ours in VA, or mine back in NH. Anyway, that trip is what started me thinking on the subject, and the remembrance of breaks helped to keep my interest.
     With three "homes", I got to wondering what it is, exactly, which constitutes a home. Is it a particular place in which I have resided? The place I am currently residing? Is it "where the heart is"? Does it consist more of people, rather than location? Where fond memories can be found? Am I wrong to continue to think of a place where I am no longer living as my home? Such has been my train of thought these past few weeks, off and on.
     All in all, I have come to understand that home is a wonderful conglomeration of almost all of the things queried above. Home, I believe, is almost a state of mind - it is the memory of joys and sorrows, fun times and incredibly boring times spent with those whom one loves, and applied to the place where one is either at the moment residing or the place where he once resided, if such memories exist. Thus it can be, that when one goes back to the home of his childhood, though it be it found crumbling beneath the weight of the years, such a place can and forever will be seen as home still.  
     Therefore, I shall feel guilt no longer when referring to NH as home, for it was there that the majority of the memories of my life thus far came into existence, and shall always be so dear to my heart because of it. I shall not fear to call OH my home as well, for I have been happily accepted into my husband's family, and many memories will be made there, which in the future will add to the richness of my life. Finally, I shall endeavor with all of my heart to transform this foreign place of VA into my home as well, fashioning for myself new memories which will enable me soon enough to fully think of this alien land as home too. 
Good Ol' New Hampshire         

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Winds

The winds of change are blowing about once again.
Will they lead us back to where we have once been?


Constantly blowing, never-ending.  Storming, straining against the cliffs of our souls, daring us to go, memory bending.  Shall we give, and follow that torrid yet frigid road? What flotsam of the past await our mind to return and behold?

The winds of change are once again blowing. 
Yield! Do not fear to pass where memory is flowing.
Find what was lost, a stranger no longer!
In knowing the past one becomes stronger.

The gale within slowly subsides -- 
In the soul a new peace resides.
The clouds of doubt have blown and gone.  Rejoice!  For the return of Blue and Sun.

Laugh and go back 

To where you have once been --

The winds of change have come again.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sunshine

Where have you faded to, Sunshine?
     From where have these clouds come?
Who was the girl you shined so kindly on?
     Who is this broken form, left under these clouds?
Where have you gone, Sunshine?
     Without your light, how can I find myself?
Who am I, broken beneath the overcast sky?
     Sunshine, where have you gone?

Blue

Here - Where Blue -  No Longer - Signifies - Happiness ~ 
Here - Where It - Has Taken - On The - Conventional - Meaning
Here - Where It - Fades To - Gray ~~~~ 
Soon It Ends In Nothingness

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Bride

     They say that a girl who marries in June is a bride all her life. But what of those who marry in the remaining 11 months of the year? What are the rest reduced to:  Wife?  Mother?  What?    
                           
     Now, I can possibly see the attraction of being a bride forever. Who doesn't, at least at one point in their life, wish to be young, pretty, doted on forever? It is a normal wish, especially of those who are of the gentler sex. I, however, do not wish to be such forever. To remain so would be to forfeit all of the joy, sorrow, hardship, and victory which comes through living out a normal life.

     One of the greatest fallacies propagated by our world today is that a woman who becomes a wife somehow degrades her status as a human being. For a woman to bind herself to a man, to take his name, to depend upon his livelihood rather than her own is to loose herself, her identity as a person. Especially if the couple has children -- the general perception is that the identity of Jane Doe is engulfed by that of "Mom". So, the World tells girls to do all they can to keep their independence and identity: "Go to school, find a career, put off serious relationships as long as possible, and when you find yourself in one do all you can to maintain your independence -- different friends, different interests, develop yourself apart from your man. When the children come, don't let them keep you away from your life as an independent being.  Smother that mothering instinct. There are day cares and nurseries which can raise your little ones for you. And as long as you  keep them busy with activities and sports, there will be no time for either you or them to realize that something may be wrong with your relationship. And when things fall apart during those inevitable teenage years, it's not your fault. You did all you could, gave them all that they could have wished for."


     Such are the kinds of things which are widely promulgated by our society today. In much of the media output now a days, the independent woman is the one who is held up as a great role model, while the woman who is a housewife and homemaker is portrayed as backwards, unfulfilled, and obsolete. Such a backwards contrast! The independent woman is supposedly the woman who changes the world; but it is really the wife and mother who actually does, through the children that she raises.


George Washington:  "All I am, I owe to my mother. I attribute all my successes in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her."


James Russell Lowell:  "That best academy, a mother's knee."


Henry Ward Beecher:  "The mother's heart is the child's schoolroom."


All going to prove the adage:   Who rocks the cradle, rules the world.


*A girl is Innocence playing in the mud; Beauty standing on its head; Motherhood dragging a doll by the foot.* -Allan Beck

Monday, September 12, 2011

Weapons Vs. Passions



To The Editor: 
In response to all those who fear violence from state legislators, representatives, and the general populace as a result of allowing weapons in our state buildings, I wish to say this:  the fear that violence will erupt simply because there is a weapon present is irrational and absurd.  To assert that our esteemed representatives would shoot one another during a debate shows a lack of faith in the self-control and intelligence of those we have chosen to represent us in the governance of our state.  Heated debates are engaged in all the time and we never hear of people getting into brawls and throttling their opponents.  The addition of a weapon will not suddenly result in the eruption of violent fights in what had previously been a peaceful, though passionate, debate.  Weapons are never the cause of violence – the uncontrolled passions of men are, and it is irrational and absurd to assert otherwise.

Printed in the New Hampshire Union Leader (Sunday, February 20, 2011) in reference to the recent lifting of the law banning guns from being carried in the N.H. State House.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Definition of Mere



MERE:
adjective, superlative mere-est.
1.  Being nothing more nor better than:
a mere pittance; He is still a  mere child.
2.  Obsolete.  a. Pure and unmixed, as wine, a
people, or a language.  b. Fully as much as what is
specified; completely fulfilled or developed; absolute