Friday, October 4, 2013

Breathe In-Breathe Out-Breathe In-Breathe Out

So, you know how they (whoever "they" are) have those lists of the most life-altering events that can happen to a person? Well, check this out: We've hit ten (10) out of the below listed fifteen (15) major life occurrences inside of six months.

-Death of a parent
-Another death of a parent
-Death of a spouse
-School closing
-Switch over to Tridentine rite of Catholicism
-Home burning down
-Job loss
-Death of a grandparent
-Retirement from career
-Purchase of new home/moving
-Expensive law suit
-Major medical surgery

OK, I threw one in there as a joke. But which one is it? (Those of you who know, be quiet and just play along.) Also, I made one or two of them up just to keep things mysterious.

But seriously, none of this is actually funny. Just pick out ten of the above - any ten - and do the math. We have been stressed to the max, sad, on edge, and confused for months now. At the same time, we've been greatly blessed, been shown how much God loves us, and our whole life has been given the "reset" button, which is exciting - and also scary.

I'll let you know, though, which item above is the most recent and pressing, which is that we're moving into a newly purchased home. We're only going a short distance north from where we live (about a 25 minute drive) into a small suburb in Milwaukee County. We bought a lovely little Cape Cod house with everything that we had on our list (except three bedrooms, heavy sigh) with gorgeous gardens on a parkway near Lake Michigan. The house has charm, personality, built-ins, a much coveted fireplace, a deck, and awesome decorating potential at every turn.

So I hope this blog post explains my absence. I have missed you all and hope the feeling is mutual. I really do plan on getting back to regular daily blogging soon, as I have so much to tell and so many things I have thought deeply about.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Really Super Supernatural Stuff

First of all, I want to thank everyone who left a comment on my previous entry and/or prayed for me, my family, and my mother. A HUGE thank you. I need to re-read all those comments - and I will - but like the many sympathy cards I have received, it's all overwhelming right now.

By the way, whoever mentioned about the snowflakes/hell thing not really being Fatima - a massive thank you. Ditto for the Padre Pio comments about his great-grandfather. I need to re-visit and think all that through, too, because I'm struggling with the whole aspect of my mother having an "unprovided death." But that can wait until later.

So anyway, today is just a little over a week since my Mom died. I'm holding up pretty well, all things considered, and also considering that I'm sick with a hack-my-guts-out type of thing, which makes me feel even more weak and vulnerable than I already am. Sort of freaked out that maybe I caught it from my step-father, who gave it to my mother, who then died when she got it. But I won't think about that right now. (Except I have to, since my step-father was still sick with it at the funeral.)

Pretty much, I'm numb. It isn't real to me yet and it doesn't seem possible that it is. I mean, there is NO WAY that my mother is dead, right?

I'm probably going through all the textbook emotions and behaviors one would expect. Like today, I had a fairly normal and even happy day, but then came home to face the reality of: IT HAPPENED AND YOU CAN'T IGNORE IT. And then feeling guilty that my every thought today wasn't on my mother. Note that the prevailing numbness is what even allowed for me to have a happy day. So, yes, I'm grateful for the happy day, but I'm still conscious of what lies not far underneath the surface. You know, things like not being able to get the image of my mother dead in a casket out of my head. Amongst many other psychological/emotional/existential turmoils.

But there's this really intriguing, amazing silver lining sort of thing to my mother's death. I want so much to explain it here on the blog, but I fear that I won't be taken seriously or that putting it into words out in the wide open of the blogosphere will cheapen it. Yet it's compelling enough that it really ought to be explained, almost as a testimony to the reality of God and the supernatural realm.
If you have a heart and sensitivity to the Spirit of God, you will hopefully find the story I soon plan to tell here just as amazing as we have. And then maybe you can help me to figure out what my next step is supposed to be. Because I feel pretty lost right now. As I've been telling anyone who asks, I don't know who or what I'm supposed to be, and every day so far I wake up wondering what the heck my life means.

Monday, May 6, 2013

My Heart Is Breaking

Saturday morning my mother was found dead. She had a bad respiratory-type cold or flu, went to bed, and never woke up.

I am devastated, my heart is breaking, and I am convulsed with grief.

I never talked much about my Mom here because she read my blog, too. Believe me, she was a core person in my life, a life-line, and I loved her so very, very much.

I am sharing because I need prayers, my family needs prayers, and because (excuse my candidness here) every stupid freaking doomsday thing I've ever heard about Fatima and any other guilt-inducing Catholic teaching I know about death is going through my head and causing me massive anxiety.

No, she wasn't a practicing Catholic anymore. Yes, she considered herself Catholic. Yes, she believed in God and Christ. She also believed in angels and in her guardian angel, specifically.

I feel like a part of me has died.

I have seen my son crying copious tears and yelling, "God, bring her back!" I have also heard him say that "God will bring her back to life, right?" I don't know how to handle this.

The funeral is Wednesday. Crappy, small obituary will be in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel tomorrow. There's a long obit getting published somewhere, but I don't know where. Of course, me being the writer in the family, I wrote both of them. That sucked - how do you do an entire person's life justice? You can't.

This is going to be a long week. Right now I am at my son's school, which is exactly where I wanted to be today - surrounded by loving, caring people who know all the right (non-cliche) things to say. But more getting-ready-for-funeral stuff later today.

I am so, so tired. My eyes are stinging from crying, my head is exploding with pain from crying, and I'm really hungry but feel like I want to puke at the same time.

I didn't get to say goodbye to her. I can't stand it. I have regrets about how little I was in contact with her during the last month - you know, life - you get too busy with your own stuff, and Mom who is always there for you, she'll be there for you still when you get around to calling her, right?

Wrong. Say "I love you" NOW.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Merry Easter?

I swear it's getting worse every year.

I always start looking for it around Valentine's Day. And that's because I recall each year, as a child, listening to Milwaukee DJ "Larry the Legend" talking about it right around that time, when he let people call in and report the names and addresses of neighbors who hadn't yet taken down their Christmas decorations. And then Larry the Legend would turn around and call these people - live on the radio - to embarrass them, asking them why they hadn't yet taken them down?

Valentine's Day, today? That ain't nothing anymore; no one bats an eye.

Even yesterday, a day after Easter, I saw them all over the place as I drove across town: Christmas decorations hung on porches, plastic Santas in yards, and Christmas wreaths brown and dead still hanging on the front door. And it's not just in my town - it's all over the metro Milwaukee area, which I drive in and around and through multiple times a day, at least five or more days a week.

What is wrong with people? This past week I thought, at least, people would realize that Easter was in a few days, and so then they'd finally go outside and take down the Christmas stuff.


I have this figured out, though. Tell me if you agree or not.

While I will allow some leeway for the fact that Wisconsin is cold and snowy and miserable for many months following Christmas, and people just don't want to go out and freeze their butts off taking down Christmas decorations in a foot of snow, I believe this is all about the secular nature of our culture which values Christmas, but ignores Easter. (By the way, we still have snow here, so I hope the Easter Bunny was wearing a coat!)

Seriously, though. Everyone gets these warm fuzzies about Christmas, especially since it's all about the gift-giving, right? People of all religions and faiths celebrate Christmas - oops, I mean the Holidays - because Christmas is about anything you want it to be, as long as it's about family and friends and "the spirit of the season," which is giving - oops - I mean GETTING.

But there's not much to be got for Easter. Which is why I believe there are many, many more people than we imagine who sit around doing jack sh*t nothing on Easter Sunday. And that's because it's pretty hard to ignore that Easter is absolutely, positively about Christ and Christianity. It's inherent in the whole thing and the hypocrisy of celebrating this holiday without having a vested interest in Christianity is obvious. Whereas the hypocrisy of ignoring the birth of Christ at Christmas is something our culture has long ago come to terms with.

On Easter Sunday, as we were leaving to go to mass, I noticed that the parking lot at our local grocery store was PACKED. Note that you wouldn't see that on Christmas Day, because everything on the planet is shut down. Thus, I imagine that if we had driven past a Wal-Mart on Sunday, we would have seem the same: a parking lot full of cars, given that a huge percentage of people in our culture see Easter Sunday as no different than any other day. Well, save for maybe some kind relative who invites you over for a nice dinner that you show up for and then leave, wondering what you should do for the rest of the day?

Hey, I know! Let's have a beer! Watch a basketball game! Here in Wisconsin, Easter Sunday is big business in the bars and clubs. Because it's such a sacred day and all.

Am I wrong about this?

Oh sure, there are secular people who make Easter a day about getting the kids out for an Easter egg hunt, and hiding an Easter basket, and maybe a nice Easter brunch. Akin to the secular Christmas holiday folks, who are nominally Christian for five minutes twice a year. But without the prospect of gifts to go around for everyone (that means the adults, too) I believe many people today just forgo Easter all together, since there's nothing in it for them.

And this is why I think there are so, so many Christmas decorations still hanging around out there. People just don't care about Easter, it has no meaning for them, so there's no reason to take them down. They'll wait until they have to mow the lawn for the first time or when Mom complains that she'd like them taken down and put away as a Mother's Day gift.

In my lifetime, as is already the case, I expect more and more to see Easter marginalized and de-emphasized, as our culture increasingly finds Christianity irrelevant or something to be hostile towards. Easter will instead continue to evolve into a spring festival of renewal (as was explicitly stated as the meaning of Easter on Alan's copy of "It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown!"), which means people can take it or leave it. At best, it will be a Sunday off for some and a plate of ham over at Aunt Mary's house.

So sad.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Did You Ever Have a Lent Like This?

By accident, a couple of weeks ago, John and I were in bed late one night and stumbled upon the movie Chocolat while flipping through the TV channels. Fortunately, it had just started, and so we thoroughly enjoyed watching it all over again.

Anyone reading this who has seen the film more than once (as I have) is astute enough to figure out that in addition to the film just generally being a delight, that this movie appeals to me on more than one level, especially in the sense that the Catholic struggle takes place in the storyline. Hilariously so; a great illustration of traditional phariseeism gone bad.

Anyway, remember the scene on the Saturday night before Easter morning? Remember what the mayor did and how he was found on Easter morning?

Yeah, that's pretty much me in the last two weeks. Most everything I vowed for Lent has broken down and went out the door. The gorging on chocolate and passing out in the patisserie window? Not so symbolic.

I believe many of us - perhaps most of us - give in, crash, lose interest, or just give up on various Lenten promises and ideals. And I sort of think that's the point - that you can't do it yourself.

The good news is that this is Holy Week, and even if I still don't keep my Lenten promises, I can take part in liturgy all week and walk with Christ. The bad news? I just want Easter to be here, so keep the chocolate (or wheat, or carbs, or fill in the blank) coming.

I'm glad that I don't know anyone foolish enough to openly proclaim that they have kept Lent perfectly, because if they did so, I think I'd want to sock them.


This past week, Catholic blogger Mark Shea posted the following on his Facebook page:

"So yesterday I posted some snippy memes griping about people who are griping at the new Pope. I don't think they helped anything and were not kind or peaceable. I thought better of it and took them down. Mea culpa to all I hurt or offended. Let's start Holy Week in peace."

My response? Exactly! and Likewise!

So maybe all my posts about the TRAD response to the new Pope weren't the most helpful or charitable. But I leave them stand because I still think they make points that need to be made and considered.

However, I have deleted a few other things from my blog today. A long time ago I read some "Blogging for Dummies" sort of book, and it was saying that it's unethical to take down previously-written blog posts or to significantly edit/amend what you've already written. I believed that book for a long time, but now have decided that in the spirit of Christianity (thoughtfulness, examination of conscience, detraction, forgiveness, etc., etc.) that such advice only makes sense for very secular/worldly blogs. 

So, I thank Mark Shea for his example, and state here that I reserve the right to take down anything that makes me feel bad, that I regret, that makes me anxious, or that in retrospect wasn't well thought-out, and even might have been pure garbage from the start!

Next: To everyone who emailed me and messaged me on Facebook disappointed that I blocked them from the blog or uninvited them, please remember that this is NOT the old blog. Thus, there are NO invites out there in the first place, so no one was uninvited or blocked. All I did was turn the blog off because 1.) A troll appeared that I didn't feel like dealing with, and 2.) I got mad at myself for things I wrote that weren't being received that way I wanted. 

I know! Wah! Wah! Wah!

Believe it or not, I often don't think I have the spine necessary for blogging, even though it's approaching five years of this. More specifically, the spine necessary to take the heat for the very opinionated things I say. If such a statement surprises you, recall the hell we have been through with my husband's co-workers over the old blog and do the math. (They haven't found this one yet, but hey, give it time! Ha!) And actually, there is MORE HELL that we were put through, but I couldn't blog about it for obvious reasons, and never will. You all don't even know how bad it got!

So anyway, as always, this blog is a journey and a work-in-progress, with plenty of f'ups to spread around.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

In Defense of the Clown Mass (But Not Really)

One would think that the liturgy police would know how...well....that they would know how liturgy works in our modern-day world. But it seems they don't.

Case in point: I got a short and sweet(?) comment on my blog yesterday, as concerns the "Rorate Caeli Can Kiss My Ass" post, which was:

"FYI: Google MISA DE NINOS 2011. 'nuff said"

So I did. Although I have to say, even before I did, I knew what I was going to find. I was going to find a "clown mass" being offered by our new pope, the Former Cardinal Bergoglio. And I was right. If you care, here it is:

Now, the subject of this blog post isn't necessarily to discuss "clown masses." (By the way, I put that term in quotations because Traditionalists like to label ANY mass they don't approve of as a clown mass.) Rather, this post is meant to discuss how priests, cardinals, and bishops end up presiding at "clown masses" in the first place.

So, I'm going to break it down here for the Blind and Unthinking Traditionalist. Here's how I think it works:

1. Office of [fill in the blank with whatever name you want] bishop gets a phone call or letter from a parish, group, or other Catholic organization, asking if the good bishop is able to preside over mass on a particular date.

2. Secretary or personal assistant to the bishop checks the very busy and often booked-up schedule of the bishop and pencils in the date, and then sends out a confirmation letter (or perhaps a phone call), indicating that the bishop will be at the requested event to offer mass.

3. On the appointed date, bishop is handed a daily schedule, which includes the confirmed mass at which he is the celebrant.

4. Bishop shows up to the event and presides over the mass.

Now, this is KEY - listen up all you would-be liturgy police! - guess what? THE BISHOP DID NOT PLAN THE MASS AT WHICH HE IS THE CELEBRANT! Isn't that amazing? He had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the mass at which he kindly came to preside over! 

So, let's think this through, shall we? If the mass has lousy music, the bishop didn't plan that lousy music. If the mass is being held in the most abominable post-modern church ever built, he didn't build that church or plan that the mass would be said there. If the organ is broken and the musicians have to switch over to guitars? Nope, not his fault. If the readings selected don't correspond with the liturgical calendar - out of his control! If there are colorful flags and helium balloons festooning the church when he arrives? Not his problem, since he wasn't on the committee that planned how the mass would be celebrated.

Anyone not understanding this?

Now, let's enter the mind of a staunch Traditionalist. The kind of person who, say, leaves a comment on my blog implying that the above-highlighted "clown mass" is an absolute indication that our new Pope is indeed an advocate of killing the Latin mass. Here's how I imagine such a person would respond to my explanation of how bishops and the like end up presiding over "clown masses":

"Well, then, if the bishop saw that such a mass was even a possibility - if he walked in and saw colorful flags and electric guitars and liturgical dancers - well, then, he should have refused to say mass, rather than allow such liturgical abuse to continue on unchecked."

And that, my friends, is the problem. The problem is that the staunch Traditionalist would have the bishop respond to such a mass as if he were Christ in the temple, over-turning the money lenders tables. He would rather "truth" triumph over charity. He would rather deprive people of a mass, risking the disappointment of innocent Catholics, than allow a consecrated bishop allow such a mass to continue. 

Here's the thing, though. Bishops don't do that. They don't show up to say mass and then decide once they get there to back out. Instead, if they sense something is "off" about the arrangement, they proceed with goodwill, love, charity, and respect for those attending, as well as those who hosted and planned the mass. 

To imply that the mass in that You Tube video is the brainchild and preference of our new Pope Francis is ludicrous. Not only because no one really knows, but mostly because the chances are about 100% that he was invited to preside over that mass unaware of the stylings that were planned for that mass, as determined by whoever sponsored it. 

Therefore, it is triple-ludicrous to imply that such a mass is "proof" that Pope Francis hates the TLM, is against it, wants to limit it, or is a big fan of watered-down, feel-good liturgy. Taking the most extreme example of a mass that he presided over as proof of anything shows desperation to prove a point that can't be proven via normal means.

This past week, the Catholic internet has featured many, many written pieces that wonder aloud at the near crazy responses the Traditionalists have had to Pope Francis. I add this blog post to the growing pile, wondering if Traditionalists of this bent realize what damage they are doing to their cause?

I'm no fan of "clown masses," but in this case, I have to defend one. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

After the Retreat

One or two people wanted me to follow up on the silent retreat I took two weeks ago. I'll offer random thoughts and observations:

1. I don't consider it a silent retreat when mothers are allowed to bring nursing babies along. [NOTE: This is likely a pandora's box topic, so let's not allow ourselves dig too deep here, OK?] On the one hand, I don't want to deny a mother the opportunity to go on a retreat just because she's nursing. On the other hand, most of the moms attending this kind of thing are trying to GET AWAY from the noise of children and babies.

In this case, there were two mothers with babies along and lucky Char got the room next door to one of them, also sharing the bathroom. OK, I'm being snarky; it wasn't a problem at all, I barely noticed the baby in the room next door. However, on Friday night I was totally concerned and wondered who thought it was a good idea to allow babies on silent retreat. Of course, the irony is that Sunday morning, when silence was broken for breakfast, I sat with both mothers, connected with them, and left the retreat becoming Facebook friends with one. How the Holy Spirit laughs at me!

2. I've mentioned it here once or twice, but in real life, I have been absolutely terrified and freaking out about the potential prospect of my son's school closing next year. It's been my day-to-day obsession for months now. But when I left the retreat, a spirit of "I don't care" had come over me, with my realizing that whatever happens, God is not abandoning our family. Trust me, this is a good development.

3. A revolutionary concept particular to the Schoenstatt spirituality was revealed to me, which is: Ask Mary to take RESPONSIBILITY to CO-PARENT your children. I bring this up because it was like the biggest, brightest lightbulb moment that I've experienced as a Catholic in years.

A subject I no longer discuss as a blogger is my absolute loathing of being a parent. On the old blog, in the early years when Alan was a baby/toddler, I talked about this quite a bit. Then one day some anonymous a-hole of a commenter came in and read me the riot act, telling me what an atrocious parent I was, predicting that I'd have a completely f-up'd kid because all I did was complain about how much I hated the responsibility of being chained to a kid all day. After that comment, I vowed to pretty much never bring it up again, given that it seemed impossible to communicate my particular situation, mindset, and troubles.

To this day, despite Alan being close to six years old, I still struggle with these same parent issues. I despise the responsibility because I am an A-1 free spirit. Believe me, close friends have raised a few eye brows at some of my parenting choices and attitudes, since I cannot stand being a parent. However, they also know from real life experience and observation of how terribly much I love my son, which is something that cannot be adequately communicated on the internet.

Anyway, since the day I knew I was pregnant right up until today, I have felt alone, oppressed, and resentful about the parental position. So this Schoenstatt teaching has reached deep down into my heart, and it's something that I am going to cling to and examine and attempt to implement in our lives. Note this isn't just asking Mary for daily help at being a mom or dad, which is something we should be doing anyway. Rather, this is literally and seriously asking Mary to step in as a parent to your children. And why not?

4. During a group sharing time, a woman very vocally worried about whether as a married person, she had missed her calling to her true vocation, which would be a religious sister? It got me to thinking how many times I've wondered the same, and also suspecting that many other married women have too. Has that ever happened to you? Personally, I believe such thoughts naturally come out in an atmosphere like a silent retreat, because you're actually quiet enough to be talking to God and/or listening to Him, and when that happens, you recognize how much more you'd like that to happen - like ALL THE TIME - and thus you think, hey, this must be what's it's like for religious, and wait, maybe I missed the boat! Really, though, I think people only have this worry about a missed vocation when the going is tough in their own chosen vocation.

5. Finally, the retreat sealed it for me that I am very drawn to the Schoenstatt spirituality and wish to make their Covenant of Love with Mary, Mother Thrice Admirable. Again, I do plan to blog about Schoenstatt soon, so that I can introduce this movement to others.

Now That's Just Weird

I woke up today to a text message from a good priest friend. It said, "Father X was asking about you, wondering how you are?"

Father X is the local priest who offers the Latin mass in his living room each week. I've met him ONCE. Granted, on that one occasion we had a decent, albeit humor-tinged conversation, but why that particular priest would ask about ME?

I KNOW what some people are thinking. Go ahead and think it.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Something I Want Everyone To Know

Listen: In the last year or so, every time I have blogged something "negative" about the Traditional Catholics, a big part of me feels bad and guilty. I am being totally honest about this.

Many times I have considered swearing off blogging about TRAD stuff, knowing it's bad for my soul. It's been confessional material more than once, trust me.

But there is a part of me that when I see extreme uncharitability and general unkindness on the part of Traditional Catholics, etc. - that I just can't shut my mouth. I want to speak up and point it out.

This is probably too much personal information, but I'll share it anyway: I talk about this subject over and over with my very orthodox Catholic therapist. The bottom line always ends up that I need to be who I am, and that perhaps my pointing out the negative aspects of the Traditional Catholics is doing someone a favor somewhere because there really is much wrong with the mindset of Traditional Catholics.

I know I get people upset when I say things like this. But how many times do I have to make the cliche disclaimer that when I say these things I'm not speaking of ALL Traditional Catholics? Doesn't that go without saying? People want me to have a blanket charitably that never allows for criticism or testing, and I think that's unreal and unfair. Nothing is perfect.

Now, this leads to the very obvious question: What's it to you, Char?

That's a good question and I don't have an answer. Sometimes I've come to the conclusion that the TRAD topic has nothing at all to do with me, and thus I ought to shut up.I mean, it's not like I'm a Latin mass person!

But then I ask myself why the nastiness and negativity of some Traditional Catholics always gets me fired up? Sorry, but I don't have an answer to that other than I am really sensitive to bullying and underdogs. I know the TRADS believe THEY are the ones who are the underdogs, and that might be true. But the ones being bullied are absolutely the non-TRADS. Regular Catholics are routinely bullied by the Traditional Catholics and I hate it, since I tend to place a higher standard of Christian behavior on them, since they have voluntarily subscribed to - and more importantly - loudly proclaimed a higher standard of Catholicism.

That's all I've got right now. I say all this because I really, really, really, really, really want to write a blog post absolutely slamming the Traditional Catholics for what I've read out there in terms of their response to the new pope.

Some will say: Don't do it, don't be uncharitable, don't add fuel to the fire.

I say: Not sure yet. Because I have a clever approach for what I want to say. And I think what I want to say has some value.

Trust me, I have other things to blog about, that I have lined up in my head. But still, what I've seen in the last 2-3 days just gnaws at me to get out.

If it does come out, again, I will feel badly about saying it. I know I don't come off that way, but please know, I do have twangs and twinges of regret.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Sick and Tired

No, really, I've been sick for 3 days and sleeping on and off all day.

I'm mentioning this because I have a whole big bomb of stuff to say about what I've been reading on the Catholic internet today. But I'm just too tired.

Of particular interest is the commbox on an entry today at Rorate Caeli, the one where they attempt to stand by their immediate assessment of Pope Francis being anti-traditional Latin mass. Note, this is an entry from today, not yesterday when the pope was elected. Sorry I'm not linking here, but I'm lying in bed with a tablet and don't know how.

Just do it. Go over there and read the commbox. Especially every person who has ever accused me of being wrong when I have said that Internet Trads are not a separate species from Real Life Trads.

Because somebody....real human beings are saying that stuff.

It makes me sad and scared.

Also sick and tired of the same old, same old.

Hilarious Traffic

Hilarious! People are showing up here in the last 24 hours looking for Rorate Caeli.

Welcome! Welcome! (Cough, cough)

Also, people are showing up here with the search term "Will the new pope allow the Latin mass?"


I told you so!

It's all about the Latin Mass.

Oh, Larry D over at Acts of the Apostasy is also echoing what I - and it turns out, MANY others - are saying about the dismal behavior of the Traditionalists.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Rorate Caeli Can Kiss My Ass

Listen, I get that Rorate Caeli is authentically and wholly and completely Catholic, i.e. "Good Catholic" and Latin this and Latin that, blah, blah, blah. But for them to post this garbage on the same day as the Pope is elected? Shame! Kiss my ass!

The Horror! A Buenos Aires journalist describes Bergoglio
OK, and yeah, I get it that Rorate Caeli is "just reporting" and "providing information." Still, couldn't this piece of absolute, total negativity wait at least 24 hours?

For example (just one of many), half of all the Catholics on the planet probably don't even know what a Jesuit is. Could we just allow a basic grasp of the facts and enjoy the new Pope in a mode of happiness and hope before we shit all over everything?

When people want to know why I tend to be really, really negative about Traditionalists, here is a prime example of why. Publishing this crap just to stir the pot. 

And it's not just Rorate Caeli. Nope. Mark Shea can attest to the fact that the TRADS were all set and ready to crap on whoever was elected if it wasn't who they wanted. 

True confessions: I went over to the Fisheaters forum myself to see what they were saying. A lot of it was good, hopeful, and positive. But a lot of it wasn't. It was ALL about ONE THING and ONE THING ONLY: Our precious Latin mass. Will Pope Francis continue to allow it? (Answer: No one knows.) Is he supportive of the Latin Mass? (Answer: All signs point to "no," given that the Buenos Aires diocese doesn't really offer any and Cardinal Bergoglio is supposedly on record as being "anti.") And then even worse comments and speculation - more prophecies, more Fatima controversies, and an immediate witch hunt to find any crack or hole in Bergoglio's record - thus proving that modernist Rome is leading us all down the primrose path.

Oh, and numerous cries of: "Thank God he didn't take the name of John Paul III." That and criticism because the new Pope Francis asked people to pray for him! Horror of horrors! How weak of him! How un-papal! He's supposed to be praying for US!

Alright, I know that my publishing this is also stirring the pot. It's somewhat negative. But if this doesn't say it all, then what else will? This is a joyous event for the Catholic Church, and yet in their public persona these Traditionalists are largely incapable of grasping anything joyous. Will they also criticize the resurrection of Christ? I ask, since there's not much left joyous for them to grasp.

Oh, and check out the SSPX statement on this. Make sure to quote Pope Pius X no matter what, since he's, like, "the" authority by which to model everything.

By the way, I got teary-eyed over the coverage of the new Pope. So there.

And also, I know I have to get off the TRAD subject. I know it's a dead-end topic for me because of the exact content of this post. Nothing will make them happy, and thus, it's pretty pointless to continue to beat that drum. 

As one priest said on my Facebook page tonight, "They won't even be happy in heaven."

Kick Myself

If for some strange reason (I guess it would have to be the Holy Spirit), Cardinal Timothy Dolan was elected as the next Pope - which he won't be - I will kick myself for not getting a very special picture of him with Alan.

When Alan was still a baby, maybe 12 months old max, we went to a church in town for an evening mass of reparation for abortion. The mass was being said by then Archbishop Dolan. As is normal around here, it wasn't well-attended. Maybe 70 people were there? So when it was over, it was no problem to shake Dolan's hand, and when we did, he just reached out and grabbed Alan, and for the next 10-15 minutes, Dolan carried Alan around while he greeted people.

I didn't have a phone with a camera then, nor a camera with me. But the picture is set in my mind forever because it was so funny/weird that HE grabbed Alan and wanted to hold onto him for that long. Seriously, the personality profile you see of Dolan, it's for real.

Well, anyway, that's almost everything I have to say about the whole new Pope thing. I care, to a point, about the election of the Pope, but I'm sooo not into posting photos of the chimney every hour on Facebook, etc. I mean, it's gonna happen anyway, right?

Perhaps it's because I've never really put much stock in the Pope. Does that sound bad? I hope not. It's just that it's enough and challenging enough for me to live according to the Catechism or take cues from the lives of the saints to bother myself with recently written tomes and statements made by someone alive today.

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Books I'm Bringing On Retreat

Here's the books I'm bringing with me to the weekend-long silent retreat I'm leaving for tonight:

-My Bible, a pre-wedding gift from John. It's New International Version (NIV) because that's what I was used to at the time and that's what I wanted. It's leather bound and engraved with my name and our wedding date on the front, also at my request. Note John said that he had a most difficult time finding a company to do the engraving.

-"Mother Love," a gift given to me by a person who now greatly dislikes me. Anyway, it seems to be an extensive book of various Catholic prayers for use in various situations. It's published by the "Archconfraternity of Christian Mothers."

-"A Severe Mercy" by Sheldon Vanauken, a book my Catholic therapist has been after me to read forever. I never get around to reading it because I know it's gonna upset me or something.

-Saint Faustina's diary....initially a gift from John's mother (who died on All Soul's Day this past November, but I never talked about it on the blog.) She gave it to me as a wedding shower gift, but that's not the copy I'm taking. A few years ago, John gave me a copy for our 5th wedding anniversary? Well, whichever anniversary you're supposed to get leather as a gift. I received a leather bound copy from him, and it's much smaller and handier to carry around. My therapist has been after me to read this as well, but I balk because Saint Faustina sees visions of hell and I don't want to hear about it.

-"Foundations of Education in the Home" by Father Joseph Kentenich, the founder of Schoenstatt, which is the organization that is giving the retreat. If you've never read anything by Father Kentenich, he will blow you away with his simultaneous depth and simplicity.

There was another book I wanted to bring along written by Mark Shea - I bought it from him when I met him - it's about prayer. But I can't find it!

Of course, I'm not going to read all these this weekend! But I assume the premise is that you bring along a bunch of stuff and see where the Holy Spirit takes you. 

Oh, there's another book I'm packing, which is one of the favorite Christmas gifts I got this year - an adult coloring book. It has pictures of annual and perennial garden flowers, along with correct scientific names, etc. I'm bringing my box of 96 crayons that Alan isn't allowed to touch, and if the mood strikes, I'm coloring. Years and years ago, a secular counselor suggested that coloring is a help in relieving anxiety. Since then, I've met one or two people who got the same advice.

What else I'm packing? A ton of low-carb food to stick in a fridge somewhere. I talked to someone who's been on a bunch of retreats at the same place, and she confirmed that it's all carb-o-licious there. And homemade! Gotta protect myself.

Well, I leave in a couple of hours.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

And This Little Piggy Wore A Chapel Veil

I envy all the people who can leave anonymous comments on blogs, whereas I can't blog anonymously. I say this because today I just have to be me and speak my mind, and what I have to say isn't gonna make everyone happy.

A cursory glance of my still very tiny blog role brought me to Erin Manning's blog, with news that Jennifer Fulwiler of Conversion Diary is now wearing a chapel veil to mass. UPDATE: Erin wrote a SECOND post about the veiling thing!


So loud you can hear it while reading this.

Chapel veil wars on the Catholic internet are as frequent and almost as hotly debated as the pants/skirts wars. If you've spent any amount of time reading Catholic blogs you already know this, and you already know that it's best to stand back, not participate, and instead enjoy the car wreck.

Supreme laziness: I agree with every single thing Erin Manning has said in her post about chapel veils. So go over there and read what she has to say. But in case you're too lazy yourself, here's my summary: If you want to wear a chapel veil, great, go for it, enjoy yourself. Wearing a chapel veil is part of Catholic tradition that is well-known, and Catholicism is thankfully wide and broad enough to incorporate all kinds of things. There's a lady at my church who always wears a chapel veil and I'm totally fine with it; she's a nice lady and a serious Catholic. My good friend wears a chapel veil whenever she goes to the Latin mass, which is often enough, and I don't have an issue with it.

If you feel God has called you to to wear a chapel veil, I'm fine with that too, and I'll honor your belief. However, I will question why God hasn't instead called you to take the $18 you spent on that chapel veil and instead contribute it to your local crisis pregnancy center or something similar. But I know, how God calls one and not another is none of my business.

With all of that being said, I'd like to add that Jennifer Fulwiler is a great person with a blog that I routinely read and have at times benefited from. I take her to be a sincere person who seems very nice. I really do mean that and would appreciate it if people wouldn't question me on that. So if Jennifer wants to experiment with wearing chapel veils and/or permanently incorporate them as part of her Catholic life, I accept that. I didn't read her blog post explaining it all and don't feel I need to - her reasons and feelings about the subject are hers alone.

So why the big groan from me?

Because legions of Catholic women lap up everything she says, and many many times, they do it in a very unthinking manner.

Remember in my recent post about "Cutsey Catolicism," I observed this about certain kinds of Catholic women:

"Those who followed my first blog know that I was highly critical of  the now defunct "Faith & Family Live" blog for exactly the sort of spirit and experience that I'm questioning here. I'm serious, if I had mentioned in a commbox over there that I was making and marketing a Catholic laundry detergent - basically Tide in a bottle but with a label that said something like "St. Ann's Suds" -  they would have fallen all over themselves to buy it and promote it and talk about how wonderful it was that they could now buy laundry detergent from a good Catholic."

I believe the exact same thing about Jennifer Fulwiler going public about wearing a chapel veil - Catholic women falling over themselves to mimic and copy her, and now a great big fad for wearing chapel veils erupts (as if there wasn't already a sort-of fad going because of the supposed resurgence of the Latin mass). As I commented over on Erin's blog, "Score one for Father Z!" Come to think of it, maybe Father Z put her up to this! Ha!

Here I go again with my broad brush: There's just a certain kind of crowd that follows Jennifer Fulwiler (and I've noted many, many times that it includes a boat-load of Protestants, which I still don't understand.) There's a certain kind of crowd that follows me. There's a certain kind of Catholic that follows whoever's behind Whispers in the Loggia. While we all intersect on the "Catholic" part, there ARE differences. Some people read The New Yorker, some people read People Magazine.

The crowd that follows Jennifer Fulwiler is the kind of crowd that looks to her as an example, a guide or mentor of sorts. I mean, look at the names of the people/blogs who post their links after her weekly "7 Quick Takes" meme and one can quickly surmise her target audience. And she DOES has a target audience - otherwise she wouldn't be doing an online TV reality show and have a soon-to-be published book. In fact, I would go so far as to say Jennifer Fulwiler has literally become a Catholic PRODUCT that we now consume like any other media product we consume.

I have, myself, been through the phase where I took my cues from the Catholic internet as to what did or did not construe an acceptable Catholic life, practice, and existence. I learned the hard way, even if I was suspicious and questioning all along. Let's just say other people are much more trusting than I was, and those people are trusting Jennifer to lead them through the wilderness of how to make sense of modern conservative Catholicism.

I'm just not so sure that wearing a chapel veil is a necessary aspect of modern-day conservative Catholicism. In fact, somewhere a rad-trad is laughing about her doing this, claiming her wearing a chapel veil is like a pig with lipstick in a pew at a Latin mass. There's a point where maybe us neo-cons need to just owe up to being neo-cons (a term I despise), since it's pretty neo-con-ish for someone who gives radio interviews to EWTN and Relevant Radio to be wearing a chapel veil. I say this as someone who has no problem with EWTN and Relevant Radio, which is why the extremists call me a neo-con, instead of someone who goes to mass at an FSSP parish.

But hey, if that's what these women want, have at it. As long as they operate in Christian love and charity, and they're towing the Catholic party line, I'm not supposed to care. Right?

Right. As far as I'm concerned, Jennifer Fulwiler's Catholic testimony is fine and well without an extra scrap of lace.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Another Sucky Lent (So Far)

Lent annoys me, it always has.

My knee-jerk reaction to anything "must" is to avoid it and not comply. That's my own personal problem, it's related to pride and obedience, I get that.

So anyway, this year, having a much better grip on my Catholic faith, I started out thinking that I would do the minimum requirements just as a sign of obedience, hoping something good would come of it, which will then lead me to further ideas of how to take up my own cross.

On Ash Wednesday, I woke up all committed to fasting as prescribed by the Church, as well as getting off sugar and grain. I admit the sugar and grain thing is a health initiative, not something I'm doing to get closer to Christ, but figured it was just as well to begin on that day and commit it to God.

Problem one is that I never consciously committed it to God.

Problem two is that combining fasting on the same day as going cold turkey on carbs was a really bad idea from a purely physical perspective.

Did you read this amazing blog entry by Elizabeth Esther about how she recognized that she needed to stop punishing herself on Ash Wednesday? If you haven't, please do, because it's just honestly refreshing. I can relate to what she wrote because here's how Ash Wednesday started to shape up at our house, around 7:00 p.m.:

Husband: Meekly inquiring about what's for dinner

Me: There's a bag of parmesan-crusted tilapia in the freezer, you can make that if you want.

Me: Starving, crabby, feeling like I'm going to lose it if I don't eat real food.

Husband: Does that mean you don't want any? What are you going to eat?

Me: (Starting to lose it) I'm not supposed to eat that tilapia because it has breading made out of wheat. That's why I didn't get Fish McBites at McDonald's when I took Alan there for lunch.

Husband: What are you going to eat?

Me: (Screaming) I don't know!!! I f*cking HATE fish!!!!! I f*cking, f*cking, f*cking hate fish!!!! (Actually, I don't hate fish. I just dislike most of it. I need it to be expensive and fancy for me to truly appreciate it.)

Husband: (Looking like a deer in the headlights) Maybe you should just eat something.

Me: Yeah, I think I will. Screw this Ash Wednesday stuff. (I ate a bunch of food, I don't remember what. I'm sure it included meat.)

So, let's jump over to this past week, when our family took advantage of a "Spring Break" at Alan's school to go to a waterpark overnight, Thursday to Friday.

Me: This is going to be impossible to stay low-carb while visiting a cess pool of pizza, french fries, and frozen margaritas.

Husband: Stay strong, we'll do whatever it takes to get you the food you need.

Thursday lunch: Bought a container of tuna salad and brought it into the waterpark. Celebrate! Tuna salad and water slides! Woo-hoo.

Thursday dinner: Big-ass prime rib and vegetables. Score!

Friday morning: Free breakfast buffet included with waterpark package. Eggs, eggs, and more eggs, along with bacon, sausages, and ham.

Friday lunch: Cool! Waterpark has pre-packaged containers of cheese, sausage, and olives! Someone is thinking outside the box here. I got a low-carb friendly lunch!

Me: (Friday afternoon while eating cheese and sausage) F*ck!!!! It's Friday!!!!


Have you ever done something like this? Or this:

On Sunday we were in a food market and stumbled across a whole, live lobster dinner for $13.95. I was like, HELL-O it's lobster time! As I sat at a metal counter eating my fresh, delicious lobster, I told my husband this was my replacement meat-free meal to make up for the previous week's meat transgressions. Truth be told, I've done this way more times that I care to admit. You know, you're invited to a family get-together or party on a Friday in Lent, and all that's being served is meat, so you eat the meat and then say tomorrow for dinner I'll have fish to even it all out.

But this where it all stands so far. I've given up nothing for Lent in the traditional sense. (Or have I? Let me know your thoughts on that.) I'm supposed to go on a silent retreat next weekend, but I'm not sure that's really when it's supposed to happen, and I haven't made the phone call to confirm it.

Furthermore, the thought of doing Stations of the Cross depresses me. Like I said previously on the blog, if we get to one session of the Stations, I'll be thinking I won a prize or something.

Also, I haven't taken anything on, which is my usual train of thought. You know, extra masses, extra confession, extra readings, extra something. Not inspired to do anything, and yet, feeling really guilty about all of it.

And when I feel guilt, I know things aren't going well.

I do keep turning certain things around in my head that I could do for Lent, so as not to make it a total loss. But then I find an excuse to not want to do it. Then I get upset about how lazy I am and get mired in the wallowing about how much I suck as a human being. About how I'm only giving God the tiniest of crumbs.

When I get myself really going, I turn the blame back at the Church, believing this is all a prescribed set-up. I mean, people can do things like extra prayer and fasting, etc., any time of the year they want and get results, right? Why does there HAVE to be this big to-do the same time of each year?

Other times, I tell myself this is all symptomatic of my ongoing refusal to believe that God really loves me, thereby proving that I need to do whatever it takes to grasp and hold God's love. And if that means eating meat, well, then so be it.

I know I'm writing this blog post because I don't want to write another blog post titled "Continued Sucky Lent." So, along those lines, do you ever experience similar battles during Lent? What do you do to get yourself out of the funk? And how do you deal with guilt? 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Now THAT Is a Church!

Yesterday we woke up and decided to road trip it to Chicago because I was stir crazy. This happens quite a bit with our family, as I am an adventurer, free spirit, and can't stand boredom.

We made this decision at about 9:30 a.m., so I decided that we would find an evening mass in Chicago. Which we did, via Mass Times.

Weren't sure of what we'd get, nor what kind of neighborhood we'd end up in, but we were mostly concerned with getting to mass, period.

Here's what we got:

What church is this? St. Michael's in the Old Town (Lincoln Park) area of Chicago. 

Now, I'm sure people reading this have seen more spectacular Catholic churches than this....and everyone is going to have different opinions about what makes a church noteworthy. For example, while the outside of Notre Dame in Paris is stunning (I've been there twice), I believe the inside to be a big yawn (notwithstanding the really cool burials in there.)

But for us, my husband and I both agreed this church rates in our top three. In our limited experience, the only place we've seen that tops this is the new cathedral in St. Louis, Missouri.

And by the way, to all the people who think St. John Cantius in Chicago is so beautiful? It is. But this place kicks its butt.

When we walked in, it took our breath away. (And sorry for the bad photos, my phone camera isn't great.) Of course, like most things, you kinda have to be there to see it for yourself.

But here's what's interesting: Our five year old son, who normally can't wait for mass to end, was taken in the entire mass with the spectacular surroundings, constantly interrupting to ask us questions. His predominant question was about the huge statue of St. Michael the Archangel that looms over the altar, with a really creepy figure of Satan being crushed under his feet (the pictures don't show this well or at all.) In response, he whispered to us that he said the prayer to St. Michael twice. 

And then he said to us that he wished he could go to mass everyday! 

OK, we all know that was a momentary thing and that he'll be whining about not wanting to go next weekend. But there was something about a place so grand, so spectacular, so filled with imagery and things to ponder, that even a small child grasped that there was something bigger than himself.

Later on, while we were driving back home to Milwaukee, I did note to John than there are people who would legitimately feel overwhelmed with such ornateness. I believe that if we explored some of the reasoning behind the post-Vatican II church architecture, such overwhelming church decor was likely a piece of the pie. 

But as is so often the case, this is all cyclical. My generation and a couple below me are intrigued and thrilled with this kind of art and richness. In future generations, there will probably be a pull towards simplicity again. At least that's how I see it.

Incidentally, we could immediately detect from the liturgy and church bulletin that St. Michael's is a parish on the liberal side of things. A previous incarnation of me could have blogged here a complete list of everything wrong that I saw there, but I'm trying to not do that anymore unless it's really heinous. Besides, God played a trick on me! The priest gave a sermon that made my husband and I raise an eyebrow or two. (Not gonna say why, but trust me.) So when we left and shook hands with the priest and told him we were visiting, guess what we discovered? He's the main priest writer from one of my most beloved and helpful publications: Scrupulous Anonymous. Just goes to prove that one can't guess how God works through people in different ways and at different times for different reasons.

What are the most beautiful Catholic churches you've been to? Here in the Milwaukee area, we have the magnificent Basilica of St. Josaphat (probably near the top of our list), as well as the Basilica of Holy Hill, which (in my opinion) is much more impressive for its outdoor setting than what's inside. There's also a church in downtown Milwaukee - Old St. Mary's - that is beautiful in a sort of standard, ordinary way.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Something Smells Fishy

Talk about conspiracy theories and the Pope's resignation?

While discussing/enlightening a good Catholic friend as to what some of the Traditionalist Catholics have been saying about the matter, we sat in front of the Fisheaters forum reading various discussion threads.


That's all I have to say.


Actually, on some level, I sympathize a bit with what they are saying. But the sympathy runs out when they can't connect the letters A to B, instead connecting the letter A to Q or something. Things like, "Good thing I can defect to the SSPX in case they elect some modernist pope. I can stay there until a better pope comes along."

Sedevacantism is a religion alive and well.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Liturgically Correct Valentine For You

Now, how did I come up with this, you ask? It was all innocent, I swear! It was sent to me last year by a very Baptist friend who knows nothing of chapel veils or Traditional Catholicism. 

Yup, it's vintage!

Feel free to pass it around to your favorite trad. Seriously! If I were a Traditional Catholic, I'd love this! 

I was tempted to ask readers to write a fitting sentiment to go with this card, you know, roses are red, violets are blue......but that might turn out to be hysterically funny and that would be a no-no. Or would it? (Erin Manning seems to be on a role lately, with her song about Traditional Catholics set to "American Pie." I'm sure she could come with something here, too.)

Well anyway, Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Facebook Is the New Chocolate

Or at least that's what one would surmise based upon how many people I've seen check out of Facebook for Lent.

My question is, do they give up Facebook so that they can continue to indulge in their chocolate and sugar?

Actually, I'm cool with it, unless it's just the easiest, simplest no-brainer thing to give up. That's what I wonder about.

One or two of the people getting off of Facebook for Lent, I think they totally needed to. But my lesson of the last three or so years is that if you completely refrain from politics or religion, Facebook is almost brain-deadly benign.

Anyway, I haven't yet figured out what to do about Lent. For the last two years, I haven't done anything and didn't follow any fasting rules, etc., since I was really angry about the Church. Oh, I'd plan some fish frys or non-meat meals for the sake of my husband, but that was my limit.

Before that, my view was that I needed to "take on" rather than "give up." For example, one year I recall making a promise to go to at least one additional mass per week, as well as going to confession at least twice during Lent. I still tend towards the "take on" philosophy. This year, more rosary might be the ticket.

Today, I am making an attempt to fast. I didn't even give it any thought, I just did it. Made a loaf of bread for John and I to eat for breakfast and lunch, and I'll deal with a non-meat dinner later today, when I cross that bridge. I'm also going to get to mass at noon. Believe me, after the last couple of years, this is a big deal for me, even if it sounds minimalist to others.

So anyway, on some level I could use a little inspiration for Lent, but when people put up Facebook posts and blog posts giving you "suggested" or "recommended" lists of things you could do for Lent, I usually shy away. It always comes off as, "I'm so put together, learn from me!" I know, I shouldn't see it that way, but I do.

I noticed a few women on a local forum are giving up restaurants for Lent. That would be really hard for me, I admit. I have to think about that a bit, especially since I'm sitting in a Starbucks as I write this. Ha! My husband would LOVE it if we gave up restaurants for Lent, since it would mean I made a commitment to curb laziness and apathy about making dinner and save us some money.

So anyway, I know there are loads of people who ABHOR people talking about what they give up for Lent publicly. I could care less. So, hey, what are your Lent plans?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Are Catholic Funerals Still Denied?

Last night, my husband and I had tickets to see a one-woman performance re-enacting Edith Piaf's life. We really enjoyed it, me especially, since I am a sucker for melodramatic lounge music.

One interesting fact about Piaf's life, which came to light as part of the performance, was that she was denied a Catholic funeral. This triggered a memory that the French author, Colette, was also denied a Catholic funeral. The stated basis for these two decisions was, in summary, that both these artists had led sinful, scandalous lives.

This got me thinking about whether or not, in more modern times (post-Vatican II), if Catholic funerals are ever still denied? Note that Colette died in the 1950's and Piaf in the early 1960's.

My husband and I were talking about this and we both came to the conclusion that such a decision is the ultimate in hope-less-ness. Also the ultimate in judgementalism. We couldn't fathom, no matter how strict a take one might have on public sin, as to why such extreme measures would be necessary for baptised Catholics? It's a truth of the faith that God knows everything and is the ultimate judge, is it not? So what harm would there be in having a funeral for an open sinner, since God's in control anyway?

Besides, at the time of Colette and Piaf- and taking into account more traditionalist France - their Catholic funerals would likely have been the all-black, somber affairs that marked pre-Vatican II times. Thus, their funerals probably wouldn't have painted a picture of assured salvation for either woman.

Perhaps some reading this blog post know personal stories of denied funerals of older relatives? If so, I'd be interested in hearing them.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

What If

What if I just let loose and wrote about the stuff I'm really just dying to say?

Think I already do that?


I edit who I am here. Big time.

Out of fear that someone I know might find this blog and call me a heretic or question how charitable I'm being or decide I'm not good enough to have our kids play together. Or think I don't belong at the school or the parish.

I'm not saying what you see here is fake. It's not. It's just edited for my protection (and maybe yours?).

Repost: Purity Rings, Quivers of Arrows, and Other Protestant Nonsense

Note: This is a re-post from my old blog, dated March 2012. I have tagged this entry with blogger Elizabeth Esther's name because I have a reason I'm re-posting this, which I'll blog more about soon. I have also included, down at the bottom, some of the better responses that were left in the commbox for this entry, which was a commbox that had over 50 comments at the time.

Wanting to compare notes on Catholics who are constantly open to life and don't use birth control with Protestants who are constantly open to life and don't use birth control, I recently read this book:

Turns out the book is more about the "Protestant" Patriarchy Movement than it is the Quiverfull Movement. Even so, boy, were my eyes opened!

As I've been slowly coming to realize, the conservative Catholic realm is lapping up Protestant trends and doctrines right and left, ooohhhing and aaahhing over things that sound good, but are non-Catholic in almost every regard. Not that all non-Catholic things are bad. They aren't. But it behooves me to understand why overtly non-Catholic doctrines and trends are being overly-promoted by Catholics (especially homeschool Catholics) at every turn.

A prime example is the Christian-movie-du-jour, "Courageous." I'm sure it's great and all, and I'm sure we can all appreciate a clean, Christian-themed movie. But the thing is, the movie is filled with non-Catholic beliefs and practices, including many that aren't even Biblical (if that's the yard stick you want to measure things with.)

Let's start with virginity/purity pledges made by young girls to their fathers, which is a part of this movie. Where in Catholic tradition is that? Or in the Bible? It's not. Plus, it's creepy and gross. A girl's/woman's virginity belongs to herself, or to God, or maybe to her future husband, but it certainly doesn't belong to her father. Alongside such practices come purity rings and purity balls - all concepts invented by Protestants, using literal, to-the-letter Biblical interpretations (key word here is "interpretations") as a way to monitor, preserve, and protect a young girl's purity.

What the movie "Courageous" won't tell you is that alongside these purity pledges and covenants often comes forced courtships and even, sometimes, young men paying fathers for the right to marry a daughter (i.e. transfer ownership). Most of this garbage comes from a religious organization called "Vision Forum," which from what I can tell, is ten times more dangerous, insidious, and controlling that any Regnum Christi or Legionaries of Christ group. (By the way, the ties between "Vision Forum" and the "Courageous" film are many, but sublimated, in the same way no one knows that the Legion of Christ is behind the movie "Bella" and a couple hundred other Catholic groups and organizations.)

It's like with all the Catholics wearing long skirts, etc. That's not Catholic! Oh, modesty might be Catholic. But this "uniform" of drab modesty is American Puritan at heart, and more specifically, a vestige of Calvinism.

Speaking of Calvinism, reading this book made me realize the dozens upon dozens of beliefs and attitudes carried and promulgated by so many conservative Catholics have their roots in Calvinism, rather than Catholicism. Sure, one can go into Catholic tradition and make things "fit." But it seems to me it's always a reverse process: Get ensnared or enchanted by some "good" Protestant practice and then determine that Catholicism fits in nicely with that same practice. It's rarely the case where one delves deep into the teachings and traditions of Catholicism and comes out wearing an ankle-length skirt.

And that's because Catholicism doesn't ask one to check their brain at the door and isn't Puritan. Puritanism is Protestantism, period. But for some reason, many conservative Catholics are attracted to this (usually) outwardly visible sign of purity and "rightness" and propriety, and the only place they can get this attraction fed is via a Catholic version of Protestantism. And hey, if that floats your boat, great. But don't call it Catholic because it's not.

Most of this book was about the Patriarchy Movement in Protestantism. Granted, the book was written from a very "anti" (i.e. liberal) point of view, which one has to keep in check as one reads, but overall, what I discovered was scary and oftentimes abusive. Young girls being taught to think of and sometimes even address their fathers and husbands as "lord." Whole families buying into the concept that girls shouldn't go to college, but should instead stay home serving their father until they are courted out into marriage.

Remember that Josh Harris book, "I Kissed Dating Goodbye"? Yeah, I read that too, many years ago. Well, Josh Harris and the concepts taught in that book were exposed in "Quiverfull," and none of it is Catholic. At all. What's even scarier to me is the fact that I know dozens of Catholics who think that book and the concept of courtship it espouses is the best thing since sliced bread. In response, I ask why our Catholic heritage isn't the best thing since sliced bread? Oh, yeah right, there's nothing overtly taught in our Catholic tradition about how one meets and develops a relationship with a future spouse because Catholic tradition actually honors and respects free will and individualism.

The deeper I fall into this crisis of faith I'm having [now having better worked itself out, 2/13], the better I think I'm seeing the true lines, which might be a blessing in disguise. While the TRADS (and especially the SSPX types) will preach until they're blue in the face about how "right" and "Catholic" they are, I see that besides the authentic mass they attend, there is so much about their practices that goes against true Catholicism. I understand now why people who refuse to let their kids trick-or-treat makes me flinch: The origins of shunning Halloween come from Calvinists, not Catholics. The same applies to so many other things that it makes my head spin to think of them all.

As to the Quiverfull Movement, it seems that their open to life and non-contraception stance might be correct. However, their reasons for doing so aren't the same as Catholics. Catholics follow these principles because of natural law. The Quiverfull Protestants are doing it in order to raise up a multi-generational army who will fight for restoration of God's government here on earth (it was sounding reaaallly Mormon-ish, if you want the truth.) Sort of like happy, shiny little soldiers for Christ.

Oh, and Natural Family Planning (NFP)? That's forbidden because it's contraception, didn't you know? Which is why critics of the Quiverfull Movement allege that many in the movement have made idols of large families, since the only possible way you can be serving the Lord in purity is to be having as many children as possible, no matter what level of suffering you are going through. Like I said, Catholicism doesn't ask you to check your brain, free will, or extenuating circumstances at the door. The Duggars ought to take note. (I'm not against large families. But large families aren't for everyone and Catholicism respects that.)

Even homeschooling - another prominent topic in the book - was begun in this country by Puritan-minded Calvinistic Protestants in the 1970's. Only later did Catholics jump on the bandwagon, following suit. (I'm now toying with the theory that if Catholics had stayed and fought the good fight back in the 70's/80's, trying to get Catholic schools up to snuff, maybe our Catholic schools could have been saved. Or maybe not. It's just a fleeting thought going through my head.)

See, again, modern Catholic tradition doesn't include homeschooling. Rather, being a "good" Catholic meant honoring the responsibility to put your kid in a Catholic school. Only when the Catholic schools went down the shitter did homeschooling pick up steam. Understandable. But rather than homeschool AND simultaneously try to find a solution to the problem, these Catholics abandoned ship and adapted an American Puritan notion that the family unit has Christian sovereignty - which is the notion, by the way, that drives the political Constitutional Party. Which makes me think our decision to put Alan in an "authentic" non-diocesan Catholic school is really and truly Catholic. But I digress.

I'm not against Protestants. Hardly! My kid goes to a Protestant program once a week. I once was a Protestant! What I'm simply pointing out here is that too many Catholics grab onto Protestant ideas and concepts without giving it another thought, thereby passing on non-Catholic standards that get held up as the norm, and worse, the bar for growing in holiness.

I'm keeping my eyes wide open from now on.

P.S. Head coverings aren't just an issue in orthodox Catholic circles, either. It's an issue over in the Patriarchal Protestant circles, too. Isn't that interesting? Some people are just drawn to this stuff.

P.P.S. If anyone is offended by what I've written here, I'm sorry. However, this blog is for me to explore the thoughts rolling around in my head.


A few, select comments from the original post:

Don:  "Modern home-schooling may not have had its beginnings in Catholic circles, but it does conform to the very Catholic principle of Subsidiarity, which states that matters should be handled at the lowest-level competent authority. IMO the parochial school concept arose out of clericalism."

Me (in response to Don):  "Your comment begs the question of why most Catholics don't know (including myself, very much) what subsidiarity is and that it's a Catholic concept. But they'll buy their daughter a purity ring. See where I'm going with this?"

JMB:  "One of Flannery O'Connor's biggest gripes was with the Jansenist movement which made huge in roads into the Catholic Church in the 40s and 50s. Its heart is Protestantism and that should be resisted by all Catholics. We don't need to dress a certain way, or wear a hat or wig or whatever to be worthy of redemption and salvation."

Alice:  "Agree 100%. I am constantly realizing that I was basically raised in a Protestant Homechurch/school that went to the sacramental vending machine every day to get the sacraments since we couldn't make them at home. It was a cult of the home. Homebirth, homeschool, domestic church, etc. I'll be honest, I'm not convinced about the whole homeschooling subsidiarity argument because it really seems like a rehash of the Sunday School controversies of the early 19th century. The Catholic homeschooling movement seems to understand the idea of parents as primary educators of their children in a Protestant way, while the traditional Catholic way is a bit different."

Kacie:  "I'm with you completely in every criticism of these various cultures within Protestantism. Clearly I'm still a Protestant, but even when I read I Kissed Dating Goodbye in highschool I didn't buy it. Thankfully I've never liked the Quiverfull movement, refuse to see Courageous, and push back against all of what you're talking about. It deserves to be pushed back against. The only thing I was a part of was having a purity ring, thought purity balls are nonsense and my chastity vow was never to my dad. I gave my ring to my husband when we married, and it was symbolic. However, I'm with you in struggling to re-work my ideas of how healthy or not the whole way we present "saving yourself for marriage" really is, and what the effects are on the marital sex life. Probably wouldn't encourage my own kid to get a chastity ring just because I feel like it places the emphasis in the wrong place."

Dual Role Grandma:  "It isn't so much the purity ring itself, chosen by an individual teen or young adult. It's the whole pledging of one's virginity to one's father by young women and girls. ICK, ICK, ICK. You are so Catholicly correct when you say that whole thing reeks!!!!!! Boys don't need to keep their virginity? Girls need to pledge its safekeeping to Daddy? Patrimony! If anybody realized how anti-Catholic movies such as "Courageous" are, they would never make it to the halls of Catholic churches. Sherwood Pictures is run out of Sherwood Baptist Church. As for Josh Harris and his weirdo courtship books, I've argued them in various Catholic fora until I'm blue in the face. Those that "see no harm" are just as poorly catechized as those who still want hippie 1960s Mass where anything goes."

Laura S.:  "I get it now! I was always a bit uncomfortable with those "IKDG" and other books that my mom really pushed on my sisters and I after I was in a real relationship that I had attempted to apply the principles in. It took my parents awhile to "accept" my now husband as "good enough" for me and a lot of the struggles were centered around my failure to follow that route. Do you think that any of the ToB stuff strays into the Calvinistic errors that the courtship/purity ring mindset camps out in?"

Invictus 88:  "If a child wants to buy a purity ring, why not encourage them into something more grounded and meaningful? A Miraculous Medal, or a scapular, would be much better, presumably?"

Heather: "Having grown up in the culture described in your book, I know how damaging these ideas can be. It's sad that people with such a rich tradition of faith would buy into such poorly thought-out ideas. In your opinion, would you say it's more the Catholic men or women who first adopt the ideas in the family? In my experience, the families were brought in through the men, with many of the women following reluctantly. Any doubts or concerns the women had were taken to be evidence of spiritual warfare."

Beloved:  "Thanks for writing this Char. Its so very true, especially with insular, extremely Rad Trad groups. They've adopted a very Protestant outlook on things."

Elizabeth:  "I've just spent way too much of my Sunday afternoon reading this post and all the comments. I really think you have made some great points about puritanical attitudes from Calvinism creeping into our Catholic culture. As a Catholic homeschooler, I have to say that the peer pressure is immense to avoid activities such as trick or treating (if your kids are dressed as saints, it might be ok, but isn't ideal). Ankle length skirts and denim jumpers abound, and God forbid that you admit to reading Harry Potter. So many of the things that you mentioned are not a part of Catholic tradition and have no place in Catholic tradition"

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Full Circle

Condensed, elapsed, and selective run-through of a discussion held on this blog in the last week, re: Father Robert Barron's "Catholicism" series:

Me:  "Everything about the "Catholicism" series - what I've seen of it so far - is renewing my faith in the Catholic Church. It is giving me hope...It is reminding me that Christ is bigger than the petty arguments between the liturgy police and the uber-orthodox, etc....The sad thing is, I'll bet many Traditional Catholics have refused to watch the "Catholicism" series. I've had thoughts like this through every episode...I hope I'm wrong, because there is a big, beautiful wide world of Catholic faith out there, and I get the sense that some dedicated Catholics are missing it. I share these thoughts because they are just that, my thoughts and impressions, and not to enflame a liturgy/rite war."

Eulogos: "Why would you think that "traditionalists" would not like it?"

Me:  "I can't specifically identify exactly what it was about the handful of "Catholicism" episodes that I believe the Traditionalists would dislike. I wasn't taking notes. It was just a sense and feeling I got, at times overwhelming. Perhaps it was the presentation of the Church as broad, open, living, and loving. That shouldn't be at odds with any form/rite of Catholicism, but I am convinced that it is."

Love the Girls:  "...if it's popular among the common Catholics odds are it's likewise very annoying and well worth avoiding."

Commbox in General: Long, drawn-out discussion re-hashing what is or is not a Traditional Catholic. People making arguments FOR Traditional Catholicism. People trying to point out that not everyone is a stereotypical, judgemental TRAD. Me responding to all of this, cringing the whole time because I know from previous experience this is all going down a rabbit hole and fast. This is all spinning off topic from the intended praise I had for the "Catholicism" videos.

Me:  "I would just like to point out here that this post wasn't supposed to be a discussion on the TRAD thing. Far from it. I simply mentioned it because it was a personal thought, just a thing floating through my head as I watched....REALLY wish this discussion hadn't veered in this direction. My thoughts in the original blog post were, again, as if I were just airing out a few stray thoughts in my happy, warm lovey-dovey feelings for Father Barron's video series. Just goes to show that if you mention "Traditional Catholic," there is ALWAYS a price to pay for it."

Dave, trying to more specifically outline the long-held issues I have with some Traditional Catholics to another commenter:  "If you want a concrete example of all the [Traditionalist] tendencies I've listed (and then some), I invite you to visit . And then get out of it as soon as you can."

Allison (who prefers and mainly attends the Latin Mass):  I'm impressed with what Fr. Barron is doing with Youtube from a Catholic social media perspective. He is reaching people where they are...Perhaps most interesting to this conversation is that my Latin Mass pastor is hosting his Catholicism series videos weekly and having discussions afterwards."

Me:  "Allison, that's what I want to hear: Latin mass crowd being open to the universality of the Church. Not being afraid. Not throwing something out without trying it first. Not pre-supposing that because it's something new that it's total trash. Good for your pastor and good for you."

Dave:  "If you could believe it, I have come across a sedevacantist website which had some grudging praise for the Catholicism series...strange but true..."

Love the Girls:  "I asked my good friend Patrick, a Feeneyite and occasional writer for Tradition in Action about the Fr. Barron series. And his reply fits with what I would have expected. Fr. Barron is a creature of the new orthodoxy who toes the company line very well."


OK, I know that Love the Girls is just one human being on this planet. But here is proof positive of the loose, floating thoughts that I had all the while I was watching the "Catholicism" series. Though some wanted to argue with me about how my broad-brush picture of TRADS is totally off-base, I think this one, final comment brings the whole thing full circle.

It's also proof that maybe those who want to diss it the most are the ones who ought to watch it.

Tempted to close the commbox on this one, but oh well, I'm all for free expression and all that, even if it makes me question my sanity in wanting to blog again.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Haugen and Haas Raking In Just As Much Dough With the "New Mass" As With the Old

The "new mass" is just over a year old here in America. Specifically, about 15 months old.

Lots of Catholics looked forward to it as a turning point for the Novus Ordo mass to be just a bit more holy, reverent, and true to the original Latin translations. Also, there were legions of Catholic bloggers who were waiting with baited breath for the new musical mass arrangements to be released, believing that the days of Haugen/Haas music would be over, given new musical mass setting guidelines that were also handed down.

I'm not seeing much of anything changed. How about you?

I've had these thoughts before, about how the mass still pretty much looks and feels the same to me, but it occurred to me yesterday, at mass, as we again sang (cringe) "Rain Down," that the hopes and dreams of those who wanted big change have been dashed.

 (Catholic Wedding Song? Are they on drugs?!?!)

Listen, I actually really like some Haugen/Haas type stuff. (I say that with complete sincerity, "On Eagles' Wings" lover that I am.) And there's a bunch of music (cough cough "Rain Down") that I think should be destroyed upon the first chords played. Obviously, it's not just Haugen/Haas, there's loads of other musicians who have written the repertoire of music typically heard at the Novus Ordo mass. 

All I'm doing here is simply observing that in the end analysis (is 15 months too early for an end analysis?), the championed changes that make up the "New Mass" haven't made a real difference to me, and I think, not much to anyone else. I am not making this observation in any sarcastic, snarky way either, since I am a Novus Ordo person all the way.

For the record, I can't say I "love" my Novus Ordo, since the more infrequent, overtly holy, traditional Novus Ordo masses are the ones that get my attention and leave me wanting for more. But overall, I'm just fine and happy with the Novus Ordo, occasional stupid music not withstanding.

Philosophically, I agree with the belief that if we say the right words (for example, "consubstantial"), then over time we actually grasp what they mean, and thus have a correct understanding of our faith. However, in the case of (another example) the now repeated use of "and with your Spirit," I just don't think it makes much of a difference. In my opinion, there just isn't enough different to declare the "New Mass" a substantial change that affects people long-term.

Maybe I'm wrong. I admit to being rather simple-minded about all this. What are your thoughts?

On Father Barron's "Catholicism" Series

I wanted to note here that I finally capitulated and started watching Father Robert Barron's "Catholicism" video series.

My knee-jerk reaction to all the hype and hoopla when it first came out was to avoid it. That's a very "Char" thing to do, and I'm OK with that. Also, I especially didn't want to watch it with certain groups of people that I knew were going to annoy me and gush and gush and gush. I had actually entertained the idea that I would one day end up watching it alone.

Now I'm here to gush.

I know, I'm hilarious.

Turns out that Alan's school has been showing it on Fridays once or twice a month after mass. It's a group of moms watching, and they are women I'm comfortable with.

What I like most about the series so far - I've seen only 3 or 4 episodes? - is the very obvious, though simultaneously NOT obvious emphasis on how varied and diverse Catholicism is, yet all of it IS Catholic. So many people do not get that or refuse to see it or don't want to admit it.

During one episode, Father Barron was discussing something - I wish I could remember what - and I turned to one woman (who knows how I feel about certain issues) and said to her, "This is why the Traditional Catholics are wrong." (Disclaimer: I was not saying they are wrong in a total sense. It had more to do with the nuances of how Traditional Catholicism is often presented and sold by its adherents, being an isolated thing that is the only truly true thing.)

Whatever it was that made me speak up like that, I got the sense that Christ's arms and love (and therefore the Church) are big and strong and wide open. Much bigger than many loudmouth Catholics want to accept, believe, or attest to.

Last week we saw the episode about the saints. Though I started crying during the St. Therese part (wimp alert), what really fascinated me more was the story about St. Katherine Drexel. It just blew me away! All that money, all that status, all that cultured elitism and she chucked it out to serve blacks and Indians at a time when that would have been considered insane. Talk about social justice!

Which is the point. Here was social justice in play by a holy, orthodox woman who became a saint. Social justice??!?!!! Heresy alert! Liberal alert! Sirens! Alarms!


Everything about the "Catholicism" series - what I've seen of it so far - is renewing my faith in the Catholic Church. It is giving me hope that I am not a weirdo or a heretic for my personal brand of faith. It is reminding me that Christ is bigger than the petty arguments between the liturgy police and the uber-orthodox, etc. It is confirming my sense that logic and common sense have a place in faith. (Just listening to Father Barron talk is like having "head-screwed-on-straight balm" applied to my whole being.)

I've missed an episode or two, which upset me at first, but I see now that every episode is stand alone.

If you know a Protestant that is questioning the Catholic faith/interested in it or a lukewarm Catholic, the first episode will blow their mind! It did for me. All I could think as I was watching it was so-and-so and so-and-so needs to see this. And for the precise reason that it wasn't all in-your-face or propaganda-ish or pushy or anything. It was just so sensible in its presentation of truth and mystery and majesty that my jaw was on the ground.

The sad thing is, I'll bet many Traditional Catholics have refused to watch the "Catholicism" series. I've had thoughts like this through every episode I've literally sat riveted to. I hope I'm wrong, because there is a big, beautiful wide world of Catholic faith out there, and I get the sense that some dedicated Catholics are missing it. I share these thoughts because they are just that, my thoughts and impressions, and not to enflame a liturgy/rite war.