Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Back when Hollywood still viewed Catholicism

...as a force for good in the world, it produced The Trouble with Angels. Released in 1966, I just recently saw it for the first time. Probably run of the mill kid fluff at the time, I was really impressed with its treatment of Catholicism in general and the religious life in particular.

The plot is simple: two rambunctious girls attend four years at an all-girls Catholic school run by an order of religious sisters. Watching this movie struck a chord with Wifey and me, because my wife was the rambunctious redhead at a school just like this one. My wife started laughing when the eldest retired sister was asleep at the dinner table. (I thought maybe she had died, so I didn't get the joke. But her school was, like in TTwA, also the Motherhouse of the order, so she had elderly nuns asleep at the table all the time.)

Haley Mills plays Mary Clancy, the antagonist of every prank in the movie. Rosalind Russell is stunning as Reverend Mother. The Trouble with Angels is a character study. The charm of the movie lies the growth into maturity of Mary Clancy and her friend Rachel Devery, along with the softening process as Mary begins to see Reverend Mother as less the dragon who thwarts her "scathingly brilliant ideas", and more the strong, devoted woman who quietly but passionately loves her Lord and her girls.

It's a fun movie to watch and the kids enjoy it. Unlike its changing-with-the-times hip and vapid sequel, which should be avoided like bells on Good Friday, I highly recommend The Trouble with Angels.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Time management

Last week I was complaining and whining like Luke Skywalker about how I feel like I'm going nowhere. Rob K made a good point that it might be an opportunity to discern if God wants me to do something differently.

It's a point well taken and one that I had been pondering. I was assessing not just blogging, but how I've been spending much of my time. And it hasn't been good lately.

I work for a small company that is pretty casual about guidelines. As long as the work gets done, there's a lot of leeway. So if I get to work at 7:00, great. If I get there at 9:00, fine. If I have errands to run on the way in, even later is acceptable. Nobody hounds me about it. It just means I stay later.

The problem with such permissiveness is that it's ripe for cultivating bad habits. And getting to work later had become a bad habit for me, one that was affecting other areas of life. Especially considering my 45 minute commute, I'd get out of work later, missing the kids, or I'd get out at the normal time to help my wife with something-or-other and end up with a shortened payday. And at a period of time when I'm also keeping an eye out for a part-time job that fits my schedule, this is not helpful. In general, I've been experiencing diminishing returns and general frustration. And there's nobody to blame but me.

I need to set a deadline for myself. Otherwise, the snooze button is my best friend. After all, without a firm time to be somewhere, what's another few minutes of blissful sleep?

God's solution to my problem was obvious.

I've been enjoying a better use of my days. Today I was out of the house before wifey was up, had a full day at work, came home, and made dinner for the kids and me (mom is out tonight). We brushed teeth, got Frac his medicine, read two library books, and sang extra night prayer songs (and a Star Wars theme)--both at the kids' request. And all of that because I had the best start to the day that there is.

7:00 Mass 1/2 mile from work.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Elena's Notes

If you're looking for a Christmas present for anyone and everyone, please consider Notes Left Behind, a book chronicling the story of Elena, a beautiful girl whose story is truly heart-breaking and -warming. Faced with terminal cancer, Elena hid dozens of love notes and drawings for her parents and sister to find when she was gone. Read her story, look at her artwork and support the cause to find a cure for this deadly disease.

(Just so you know, I contacted thecurestartsnow.org, affiliated with the project, and they informed me that they do NOT fund embryonic stem cell research, so buy the book in good conscience.)


Wednesday, November 11, 2009


My wife and I were watching this online the other night and couldn't help but think that such a skit today would be lost on the audience, as so many of the predictions of 1984 and Brave New World have come true, that many people wouldn't recognize the irony that made this skit funny when it aired. Note the question at 3:15 and the audience reaction. They could laugh because the Culture of Death hadn't yet progressed from abortion-rights to promotion of outright infanticide.



Obama shows his cards on abortion and health care

Obama's reaction to the House passage of the health care legislation with the Stupak amendment reveals where this is all going.

The Stupak amendment bans federal funding of abortion, which means that those who wish to have an abortion or who think they might need one in the future will either have to pay for one directly or will need to purchase the insurance with abortion coverage at their own expense.

Then Obama expresses concern that the amendment will restrict women's choices and opportunity to get such "health care."

Is he really afraid that purchasing private health care will be an actual restriction on procuring an abortion? That could only be the case if there is no private health insurance. There would only be no private health insurance if we move to the single-payer system, which Senator Obama declared was a goal of his. Many people have criticized the government intervention in health care as paving the way for single-payer health care, a charge that President Obama, Pelosi and Reid have vehemently denied. Who do you believe, them or your own eyes and ears?

Monday, November 9, 2009


...has become a bit of a chore as of late. I'm finding that I do well with the format of online conversation, but I often get saddled with writer's block when I sit down to post my soliloquies. I really liked the older format of the CatholicVote website and that, essentially spurred my activities here. Someone would invariably say something utterly stupid and in need of immediate correction and explanation and that fueled my fire, so to speak. I found an avenue to discuss Catholic teaching and relate it to current events.

Lately, I've been spending too much time reading other blogs. I started out by checking out what other people were doing, getting ideas, and linking to stories that piqued my interest. But now I find that I use up all my blogging time just weeding through what others post. Then I'm overwhelmed by the sheer number of topics to address.

I don't like drive-by posting. On other people's blogs, there have been so many items I'd like to comment on, but the topics are important enough to warrant lengthy conversation, but since I don't have the time lately to do that, I'd rather not leave any comment at all than leave a provocative one-liner that I'm not around to defend.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Note to self:

snipped shamelessly from Diogenes:
quote from Cardinal Ratzinger's 1984 address to German seminarians:

The ability to accept and weather suffering is a fundamental condition for succeeding as a human being. Where it is never learned, existence is doomed to failure. Being up-in-arms about everyone and everything contaminates the ground of the soul, so to speak, and turns it into barren land. The priest must learn how to cope with pain -- formerly one spoke of asceticism in this context. No one likes this word any longer; it becomes more palatable when we translate it from Greek into English -- training. Everyone knows that without training and the will-power that goes with it there is no success. Nowadays one trains for all kinds of skills with enthusiasm and persistence, and in this way record performances in many areas are possible that were once deemed inconceivable. Why does it seem so outlandish to train for real life, for the right life -- to practice the arts of self-denial, of self-control, and of freeing ourselves from our addictions?

As a reminder of this, near my desk is a small copy of an illustration from an old copy of the Imitation of Christ, where Christ is being whipped and mocked by the soldiers in his cell. The caption: "Cease to complain, remembering my Passion."

Man, do I need to be reminded of that often.

And while I'm redirecting you to other blogs...

I've found Shameless Popery to be very enriching, especially the post today answering the Protestant hang-up on the Eucharist and Mary. It's worth checking out.

The Paschal Mystery

As I'm reading Fulton Sheen's "Life of Christ" and loving every minute of it, Fr. Longenecker's post today about the centrality of the Paschal Mystery to the Catholic's relationship with Christ is knee-deep frosting on the cake.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sweetie-Pie Baby Girl

Sporting her "I Love My Daddy" bib.

Not only is she now crawling, but this week, she cut two teeth.
Oh, yeah, and in other minor news, SHE SAID DADA! (Mom is still moping.)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Dog That Didn't Bark Finally Barks

President Obama said to a joint session of Congress that his plan for health care reform would not use Federal dollars to pay for abortions. Yet we knew even at the time that he was lying.

When he announced in his plan to make the Federal government the biggest health insurance provider in the nation that it wouldn't pay for abortions, do you remember the giant uproar it caused among abortion providers and their supporters? Remember the hand-wringing that went on by those worried that abortions would be underfunded and the abortion industry would be left out in the cold unable to offer their necessary services to women who need them? Oh, wait, that's right. There was no uproar. In fact, they didn't say "boo." No rants by Maureen Dowd, no e-mail campaign by Planned Parenthood, no released statements by Naral. Nothing. Not even a wimper by Pseudo-Catholics for Free Choice.

Apparently, they had reason to think that President Obama either didn't mean what he said or there was a giant loophole in his meaning. Well, Congressman Stupak provided the answer to that riddle. Obama was talking about a bill that didn't exist while the bills that existed in reality did and still do cover abortions with Federal (taxpayer-supplied) dollars, despite numerous attempts to amend the bills otherwise.

But even when pro-life amendments to the House and Senate bills were proposed, there was still no uproar from the abortion industry; that is, until now. Planned Parenthood is attacking the Catholic Church.

It is now perfectly clear that abortion will be covered under the plans that President Obama, Sen. Reid and Rep. Pelosi are pushing. And the Catholic Church is pushing back. In the last couple of weeks, the USCCB declared that unless abortion is taken out of the federal coverage and meaningful conscience protections are put in place, it will be forced to oppose the single reform that the Catholic bishops have been hoping for since the 1950's.

The only problem is, I don't know if they'll keep pushing or if they'll cave. History is not on our side. The Plan B "contraceptive" debacle that embroiled the State of CT and the CT Catholic Conference a few years back paints a disheartening picture: the bishops loudly declare that they'll fight to the end, then timidly release a statement on page A9 at the last hour admitting that the abortifacient would be allowed in Catholic hospitals.

I believed then that the bishops had a much stronger position than they either imagined or were willing to put on the table. If the Church had threatened to close its hospitals in the state--and I don't mean sell them to another health care company-- I mean, lay off the staff, demolish the buildings and set the land as a nature preserve, the state would have backed off in a heartbeat.

But that's not what happened. Instead, we got a half-hearted hope that the pill which was known to have abortifacient properties might not actually be acting as such. Sigh.

I fear that the bulletin-insert campaign (which, btw, many readers at CMR report didn't happen in their parishes this past weekend) is a little too little, too late.

Maybe I'm being naive, and if someone can help me understand this, please do. Why can't the bishops threaten to close Catholic hospitals if the health care proposal covers abortion with taxpayer dollars? Why can't they threaten it now unless a pro-life amendment is passed? What government body is going to find the funding to rebuild hundreds of hospitals throughout the country? And what politician is going to want that on his resume-- (I forced Catholic hospitals to close)?