Boycott Brouhaha

March 31, 2009 at 1:57 am (Uncategorized)

Kenneth Woodward on “Why Notre Dame Should Welcome Obama”
My brother sent me this editorial about Obama and Notre Dame, and I really liked it. The author brought up a point in favor of welcoming Obama to Notre Dame which I hadn’t thought of: the chance for Obama to hear an opposing viewpoint as he sits on the dais at graduation. Interesting.
An aside, or a tangent. When did abortion become the hot button issue for conservative Christians of all varieties? After all, with abortion, the government isn’t the actor. It’s still an individual choice, as has been hammered home over the years. Unlike, say, war, or capital punishment, where the government is the actor.


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Boycott Brouhaha

March 29, 2009 at 2:06 pm (Uncategorized)

Bishop to skip Notre Dame graduation in protest of President Obama’s stem cell and abortion views 

I haven’t talked politics too much here…not at all, actually. That’s not unusual for me these days. My world feels a lot narrower than it used to. The not-so-sad truth is that I’m just more interested in my son’s eighteenth strep throat of the season than the goings-on of the wider world.
However, occasionally the wider world rudely intrudes. And I’ve got to say that here we’ve got an example of the kind of thing that drives me bananas about well, not the Church, but members of it.  

It’s nothing new, of course.  I remember during the 2004 campaign then-Bishop-Burke of LaCrosse declaring that he would refuse John Kerry communion because of his stance on abortion.  That outraged me so much that I wrote a letter to the Catholic Herald, and I don’t feel any differently now.

There are a couple of different issues, as I see it.  For one, the office of the President deserves some respect, regardless of how you feel about the occupant, and no, my opinion on that doesn’t change with each election cycle.

Secondly, as a Notre Dame alum pointed out to me on Friday, the raison d’etre of a university is to present different points of view and stimulate debate and reasoned discourse.

Thirdly and most pertinent to this blog, why do Catholics pick and choose which aspects of the culture of life are the most important?  Does Bishop D’Arcy take the same stance with politicians who are war-mongers?  with politicians who are pro-death penalty?  with politicians who oppose providing basic social services to the poorest among us?  Oof, I’m getting all hot under the collar and I’ve got to go to mass in an hour.  More on this later.  A lot more.

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Halfway point

March 24, 2009 at 2:56 am (Uncategorized)

So yesterday Father Carl pointed out that we were halfway through Lent…uh-oh.  I started out so well.  I was encouraged by my early success with my Lenten resolutions, but somehow that has not translated into continued success.  And by “somehow”  I mean my total lack of spine and will power.  Anyway, I’m flagging here at the midway point, and I need to get back on track?  But how?

I knew I wouldn’t be able to totally give up the computer.  I’m simply too reliant on it.  There are people whose phone numbers I don’t even know, but I have their emails memorized.  We don’t have a yellow pages – why bother?  I’m blogging as a Lenten project, ferpetessake.  So fine, I was going to have to use the computer a bit every day, but it’s been too easy to sneak a peek at some random design site at the same time that I’m printing out the directions to a friend’s house.  So that should stop.

Real estate?  I might as well put it in my pipe and smoke it…it’s my crack, I swear.  And honestly, it is deeply distressing that I have such an addiction to it, because what does it mean?  I have such a great life and yet there I go again, coveting my neighbor’s house.  ARRRRGHHH.


Do they sell backbones somewhere?

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Why Worry?

March 23, 2009 at 1:59 am (Uncategorized)

This is a little bit of a departure, but as has been well documented, the Lord works in mysterious ways.  My six-year-old has been having a tough couple of days.  She’s been sad and anxious and just really feeling rotten.  Garrison Keillor was singing this on the radio when I turned the car on after church this morning, and it was so perfect, so beautiful, that I had a hard time not bursting into tears as I listened.  Needless to say, I’ve been singing it to Riley all day.  (Who wrote this song anyway?  Mark Knopfler?)

Baby I see this world has made you sad 
Some people can be bad 
The things they do, the things they say 
But baby I’ll wipe away those bitter tears 
I’ll chase away those restless fears 
That turn your blue skies into grey 
Why worry, there should be laughter after the pain 
There should be sunshine after rain 
These things have always been the same 
So why worry now 
Baby when I get down I turn to you 
And you make sense of what I do 
I know it isn’t hard to say 
But baby just when this world seems mean and cold 
Our love comes shining red and gold 
And all the rest is by the way 
Why worry, there should be laughter after pain 
There should be sunshine after rain 
These things have always been the same 
So why worry now

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The Best of Rooms

March 20, 2009 at 2:37 am (Uncategorized)

By now you will have figured out that I throw song lyrics at you when I don’t have anything else I want to say.  Luckily for all of us, they’re such very good song lyrics.  This text is by Robert Herrick.  Nice one, Bob:

Christ, He requires still, whereso’er He comes

To feed, or lodge, to have the best of rooms:

Give Him the choice; grant Him the nobler part of all the house:

The best of all’s the heart.

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Prayers please

March 19, 2009 at 4:45 am (Uncategorized)

Children are so wonderfully unselfconscious about prayer. Once, when Henry had a headache and was unable to articulate where the pain was, he sobbed, “my eyes are broken.” Riley immediately piped up, “I’ll say a prayer to Saint Lucy,” who happens to be the patron saint of eye trouble, which my then four-year-old knew thanks to her excellent Catholic junior kindergarten.  Or if something’s lost, she’s the first to say, “I’ll pray to Saint Anthony.  He’ll help.”  The children are quick to chime in with prayers when they hear an ambulance or fire engine siren, and their prayers are so beautiful. Henry: “Thank you for the ambulance coming so the people can get to the hospital and get all fixed up.” Riley: “Please let whoever it is be okay, and help their family and friends not be too worried about them.”
We pray as a family too, of course. Our blessing before meals is sung to the tune of “Yankee Doodle” and goes: “Thank you for the wind and snow, the sun and pleasant weather. Thank you for the food we eat, and that we are together.”  Although, we don’t sing it before breakfast and lunch…I’m not sure why dinner is the only meal we’re thankful for.  Anyway.  And the kids say their prayers before bed.  They recite the old standby:  “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep…” but rather than the “If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take”  which I said as a child, my kids say, “Angels watch me through the night and wake me with the morning light.”  They go on to bless whomever and whatever they’re thinking about, but it usually goes something like “God bless everyone in the whole world and all animals.”  And Henry added for a long time, “and especially Henry, because I hurt my toe two times.”  Man, he must have added the toe addendum every night for more than a month.

So they’re great pray-ers.  They’re sincere and truthful and really, really beautiful about it.  Whereas I myself am a rotten pray-er, with the exception of times of crisis, see yesterday’s post.  So I’m trying to learn from them, to emulate their lack of  self-consciousness and their spontaneity.  We’ll see how it goes.

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Lost and found

March 17, 2009 at 9:10 pm (Uncategorized)

I was sitting at the kitchen counter with the baby when my husband called. Lucy had just spit out a mouthful of chicken quesadilla and we were both happily munching tortilla chips. “I’ve lost Riley,” my husband said. “What?” I must have asked three or four times. I literally could not process those words in that sequence. “Is this a joke?” I asked.
It’s a story of miscommunication and an innocent mistake, and my eldest daughter is safe in the backyard, drawing chalk masterpieces with her brother, while their baby sister is at the counter spitting out water. Life is cyclical like that, I guess. But for five or ten minutes, however long it took me to finally understand the incomprehensible and reach my daughter’s school, I was that mom. The one on TV or the newspaper, anguished, wracked with grief, inconsolable.
And I prayed. I prayed hard. It wasn’t elegant or high-falutin’, but it was fervent. “Jesus, Jesus, please Jesus, please Jesus,” and then “Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Thank you.

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My Archbishop

March 16, 2009 at 3:24 am (Uncategorized)



Emma with Archbishop Dolan

Emma with Archbishop Dolan

We’re interrupting our regularly scheduled deep thinking with an entry on the vanity wall.  Today was the St. Patrick’s Day party at my church.  It was held at the Italian Community Center downtown (and if that doesn’t make you proud to be an American, what will?)  Once the babysitters (i.e. Baba and our friend Staish) were set with the kids, Sam and I drove down.  I didn’t want to pay for parking (typical) so we slid into a spot on the street, hoping we’d be able to sneak in a side entrance.  We ran into another couple and the four of us tried to get in.  No dice.  The doors were locked, and the folks inside were having such a good time they didn’t hear our tapping at the door.

Judy and Tom decided to drive over to the front entrance and offered us a lift, but I declined, saying we’d stretch our legs.  As we started to walk around the block, who did we see coming down the street, but the Big Guy.  (Not that Big Guy…would I really be blogging had I run into Him this afternoon????)  “Can’t you get in?” asked the Arch, as I’ve always thought of him.  “Nope,” I said, “but now that you’re here…” and we turned back to the side door.  First, however, Sam had the presence of mind to ask Archbishop Dolan if he could take a picture.  The Arch generously agreed, and I thanked him, saying that to get a photo op with him in the future, we were going to have to travel to New York.  We talked about Easter being the last mass that he would celebrate here in Milwaukee before he left for his new gig.  I told him that we were out there fairly often to see Sam’s family, and he asked us to look him up.

By this time we had reached the side entrance, and fortified by the presence of the Big Guy, I banged the door and waved my arms like a maniac until someone spotted us and let us in.  The Arch was immediately mobbed, but before he left us, he reminded us to come see him in New York, and I thanked him again for the assist.

You know, I’m really going to miss Archbishop Dolan here in Milwaukee.  He is just so open, so personable, such a sincere and warm presence, and such a good ambassador for the Church.  I remember being really skeptical before he was installed.  I adored Archbishop Weakland.  His homilies were so thought-provoking, so intellectual, so gripping.  How could the new guy measure up?  Well, he didn’t.  He was different, he was his own guy.  And he was great.  In a time of scandal, crisis really, Archbishop Dolan was enthusiastic and dedicated and inspiring.

So I’m not surprised he was such a good sport today.  We’d experienced that before.  Not quite two years ago at our other parish picnic, Henry, who was just two at the time, and I were watching an Irish dance troupe perform.  Henry had a bag of crackers he was munching on.  Up came The Arch, who looked at Henry and said, “Do you share?”  Henry looked up at Archbishop Dolan and very solemnly took one cracker out of the bag and placed it in The Arch’s big paw.  The Arch tossed the cracker into his mouth and thanked Henry, equally solemnly.  I looked at Archbishop Dolan and said, “Way to put a mom on the spot!”  He laughed and went on his rounds.  Henry asked me who that was, and I told him, “that’s Archbishop Dolan.”  He couldn’t quite get it until I told him that he had been the one at mass with the big hat.  Then the light went on.  For about a month after that, Henry told everyone that he had shared crackers “wif my Archbishop.”

So I’m not going to say good-bye to The Arch.  For one thing, he’ll be celebrating Holy Week at the Cathedral with us, so we’ll see some more of him.  And anyway, I’m totally going to go see him when I’m in New York.  Those New Yorkers had better appreciate him out there, or they will have to answer to me.

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Love means never having to say you’re sorry?

March 14, 2009 at 5:09 am (Uncategorized)

Apologies to Love Story fans, but I don’t buy it. I think the more you love someone, the more willing you are to admit you’re human, and ergo capable of screwing up

I remember a while back, longer ago than I care to admit, when Riley was moving from her crib to a big girl bed. It was a big adjustment for all of us. Riley relished being able to get out of bed and see what was going on in the grown-ups’ world after hours. Once, when we were on vacation with friends, I think we counted seven separate farewell appearances by a little sprite in fleece jammers. At first it was pretty cute, but it got old very quickly. One night when Sam was out of town, I really lost patience with Riley after her umpteenth visit, and I told her if she didn’t stay in her bed, I would get the baby gate  and put it up in the doorway to her bedroom. Of course she got out of bed again and so I went and got the baby gate and put it up. Much weeping ensued. Much. On all sides. It was awful. I felt repulsive about essentially imprisoning her, and I went back upstairs to release her. She asked me why I was taking the gate down, and I said, “because I made a mistake. I shouldn’t have put it up, and I’m sorry. Please forgive me.”

Talking about the incident with my sister the next day, I realized that I had actually taught RIley a very important lesson. Not to stay in bed, oh no. But rather, when you make a mistake, own it. Say: that was me, I did it, I screwed up, I’m sorry, I’ll try to do better. And everyone makes mistakes, kids, parents, even popes.

That’s why I was happy to see that Pope Benedict apologized for lifting the excommunication of Bishop Williamson, you know, the Holocaust denier? See this hilariously titled NY times article if you don’t know what I’m talking about.

Because actually, if you love someone, you trust them enough to love you even if you screwed up. So, thanks your Holiness. I forgive you.

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More singin’

March 12, 2009 at 2:57 am (Uncategorized)

I’m back from choir rehearsal where we sang text by Bernard of Clairvaux (12th c):

Jesu, the very thought of Thee
With sweetness fills the breast;
But sweeter far Thy face to see,
And in Thy presence rest.

Nor voice can sing, nor heart can frame,
Nor can the memory find
A sweeter sound than Thy blest Name,
O Savior of mankind!

O hope of every contrite heart,
O joy of all the meek,
To those who fall, how kind Thou art!
How good to those who seek!

But what to those who find? Ah, this
Nor tongue nor pen can show;
The love of Jesu, what it is,
None but His loved ones know.

Jesu, our only joy be Thou,
As Thou our prize will be;
Jesu, be Thou our glory now,
And through eternity.

Good stuff.

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