Monday, December 31, 2007

"Today is where your book begins. The rest is still unwritten."

The Anchoress excerpts a great New Year's homily:

[T]his January first, I would challenge you to make a different kind of resolution.

Resolve to learn something from the woman we honor today.

Resolve to dwell in possibility. Resolve to see every day, not just this one, as a fresh beginning. Resolve to welcome every blank page, every new start, with trust that God will see you through it -- and then reflect on it in your heart. Just like Mary did.

Read the rest here.

Happy families

A great post about what makes for a happy family at DarwinCatholic. Also, I laughed out loud when I came across this unexpected point about the Holy Family:

[I]f anything the Holy Family often seems too distant to be much of a practical exemplar. I mean, you've got one person who's sinless, one person who's God, and even the weakest link, Joseph, always seems able to do God's will without question.

Read the rest here.

Top Seven Health Myths

These are very interesting -- I thought that many of these were true.

Best books I read in 2007

Posted over at my other site.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

For those who feel down during the Christmas season...

This is some great advice:

Maybe you have loved one who is sick or maybe God has taken a loved one from you at this time of year which is supposed to be joyful and you wonder "how can I make myself sing, Joy to the World?"

Let me remind you that that first Christmas too, looked nothing like the pretty pictures we see on the Christmas cards. That first Christmas a haggard Joseph was probably in a panic looking for someplace to stay in Bethlehem, and Mary was probably worried, asking herself, "will my child be born in a barn?" The shepherds were the lowest of low, despised and outcast. They weren’t all clean and shiny when they visited the manger.

But God still came in the midst of all that.

Fr. McNeil continues with some practical advice for bringing the joy of Christ into your life this season. Read the whole thing.

Preparing for prayer

I thought this was a very helpful tip from Muslim blogger Tradicionalista. Until I read this I hadn't realized that I almost never bother to prepare myself for prayer...which may have something to do with my difficulty concentrating:

There was something described to me a couple of weeks ago called the 5 minute rule. It means that if you were thinking of something other than Allah(swt) for about 5 minutes before the prayer, then it is pretty much a guarantee that you'll be thinking about that thing during the prayer.

Read the rest here.


I enjoyed reading this post from Susan at Aspiring Homemaker. After some hard house reorganization work she came to a great insight:

I have discovered an important thing about myself. Rest is not all that restorative for me...Sometimes I don't need a break, I just need an accomplishment. A mother's life is full of repetition and maintenance. There is joy to be found there, and much meat for reflection, but it can get wearying and sometimes I need a little shot in the arm of accomplishment.

Read the rest here.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Homosexuality and choice

Courageman has some really interesting thoughts.

Making room at the inn: Why the modern world needs the needy

I will be thinking about this fascinating article by Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse for a long time to come. She brings up a lot of interesting stuff, one of them being the current trend of creating impersonal, bureaucratic systems for care of the poor. An excellent read.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

On silence

I thought this was a good point from Fr. Thomas Keating:

Silence is so much an aspect of the spirituality of the old and New Testament. Everything comes out of silence and returns to it. So it should be a part of education...It is through the practice of silence that we begin to become vulnerable to the true self and the supernatural organism we receive with grace and baptism...We think that even preschoolers should be introduced to silence.

Read some more interesting thoughts in this post at Stranger in a Strange Land.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

A guide to the 12 Days of Christmas

I only recently learned that the 12 Days of Christmas begin on December 25th. I found Tertium Quid's guide interesting and helpful.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The 2007 Christmas Tour of Homes

What a cool idea: BooMama has a set of links to all sorts of bloggers who have posted pictures of their decorated homes to share (scroll way down for the list). Anyone who read the latest post on my other site won't be surprised to hear that I did not participate since I'd only have a picture of this one Santa snow globe to offer, but maybe next year!

When engineers put up Christmas trees


12 of the best blog posts I read in 2007

Posted over at my other site.

Let's put a stop to this

Nicole has a much-needed reminder to follow through on the promises that so many of us made to keep our focus on what matters this season.

The beauty of a home

Abigail has a wonderful post about seeing the fruits that have come of her dedication to homemaking, and having a house full of kids. I can relate to so much of this, especially when she writes:

I grew up in a world where I always worried about being a "bother" as a child...When I committed to becoming open to life, I worried about "inflicting" too many needy grandchildren on my parents and too many messy nieces and nephews on my two siblings. I'm so please to witness first hand what grace, ease and wonder my children add to our family gatherings.

My thoughts exactly.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Association of Catholic Computer Programmers

I can always appreciate a site for Catholic nerds. :)

via St. Joseph's Vanguard And Our Lady's Train

Cute video by a homeschooling family

This video to the tune of "The Adams Family" made me smile.

via St. Joseph's Vanguard And Our Lady's Train

Converting under pressure

An inspiring story of a Muslim woman who is exploring Christianity in an area where conversion can mean death. The fact that she started the conversion process after witnessing the actions of Christians is a good reminder that the way we live our lives doesn't unnoticed -- for better or worse.

Keeping vigil for two very different things

Kristin has a beautiful post about something she realized after visiting a dying family member on Black Friday.

An obligatory "cute animal video" link

A furry paper shredder.

It really is "a wonderful life"

Rod Bennett has a fascinating article about what happened when he stumbled across the movie It's a Wonderful Life as a teenager. If you've ever written it off as an overplayed, overly optimistic movie, you must read this. An excerpt:

I was...rather badly shaken up by this old film that everyone else seems to find so mild and safe. I had no way of knowing, in my simplicity, that It's A Wonderful Life is old-fashioned, sentimental, and preaches an easy, cheap optimism. It seemed to me a rather horrifyingly costly optimism: take up your cross—for whoever clings to his life will lose it, but whoever lays down his life will save it unto life eternal.

Read the whole thing.

via Relevant Radio

An unusual role model

Though the circumstances are less than ideal, I'm really impressed that Britney Spears' sister, a 16-year-old up-and-coming starlet, is going to have a baby. Especially that she stars in a TV show for teens, she undoubtedly felt a lot of pressure to quietly have it "taken care of".

The best Onion headline I've seen in a while

Man Finally Put In Charge Of Struggling Feminist Movement

via Simcha

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Flannery O'Connor on the Eucharist

I just found this over at You Are Cephas:

Well, toward morning the conversation turned on the Eucharist, which I, being the Catholic, was obviously supposed to defend. Mary McCarthy said when she was a child and received the Host, she thought of it as the Holy Ghost, He being the 'most portable' person of the Trinity; now she thought of it as a symbol and implied that it was a pretty good one. I then said, in a very shaky voice, 'Well, if it's a symbol, to hell with it.' That was all the defense I was capable of but I realize now that this is all I will ever be able to say about it, outside of a story, except that it is the center of existence for me; all the rest of life is expendable.

-Flannery O'Connor

The first Advent in the convent

Intothedeep has a thoughtful reflection as she passes her first Advent since entering a Salesian convent.

"Why must children by considered a curse?"

Catherine at Catholic Stewardship has some good thoughts on the Grameen Bank (started by a Nobel Prize winner) which has the very laudable goal of giving loans to the poorest of the poor. She notes that one of the things loan recipients must agree to is "We shall plan to keep our families small."

It's getting harder to sue, especially for employees

Glance through the comments to this post (scroll down). They echo what some of my attorney friends frequently say, that in the quest to avoid frivolous lawsuits the pendulum has swung too far the other way.

The prosperity gospel in Guatemala

From the Wall Street Journal:

For a growing number of impoverished Guatemalans, it is a matter of faith: God doesn't want them to be poor.

In a traditionally Roman Catholic country with one of the highest poverty rates in the Western Hemisphere, a conversion is afoot -- nearly 20% of Guatemala's population is now Pentecostal, the highest proportion in Latin America. The growth of Pentecostalism has come about thanks in part to a new entrepreneurial ethos being preached from the pulpit known as "prosperity theology," reports Sara Miller Llana in the Christian Science Monitor.

The movement is more often associated with middle- and upper-class worshippers at some North American megachurches, but it has caught on at even the more traditional Pentecostal churches in Guatemala. Worshippers are told that being poor isn't a blessing, and at churches like Showers of Grace, a megachurch in Guatemala City, worshippers are offered business classes and are taught how to manage their money.

Monday, December 17, 2007

USMC Silent Drill Platoon - wow!

Their precision is amazing. Really cool.

The history of gingerbread

I thought this was interesting, and appropriate to this time of year. Check this out:

In 2000 B.C. wealthy Greek families sailed to the Isle of Rhodes to get spiced honey cakes.

Whenever I hear stuff like that I marvel once again at how amazing our local grocery stores are.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Some amazing rollerblading

Wow! This girl is so graceful -- very impressive. (The video takes a while to get moving. She starts her routine at 1:30).

Saturday, December 15, 2007

All of the universe is one big miracle

I loved this post by Rabbi Avi Shafron. He writes:

There is no inherent difference between nature and what we call the miraculous. We simply use the former word "nature" for the miracles to which we are accustomed, and the latter one for those we have not before experienced.

via From Burke to Kirk

8 Ways to Let Adultitis Ruin Your Holidays

Kim and Jason have some great tips for how to lose your childlike wonder at Christmas, like "Remember, this year the success and happiness of everyone's Christmas depends on you" and "When decorating your home for the attention to the details. Everyone will notice things like mismatched garland." So true!

via Here and Now

Friday, December 14, 2007

Professor advocates for "baby tax"

"Associate Professor Barry Walters said every couple with more than two children should be taxed to pay for enough trees to offset the carbon emissions generated over each child's lifetime."

"Grandpa, tell me how you and Grandma met..."

"Well, way back in 2007 your grandmother and I both went to a DNA-based dating service which promised it would use DNA to find a date with 'a natural odor you'll love, with whom you'd have healthier children and a more satisfying sex life.' And the rest is history!"

Problem #836 with our culture's view of children as lifestyle accessories

People are surprised when parenthood is challenging:

My husband and I had six blissful years together before Tony was born, years of intimate dinners and holidays with lots of strolling hand-in-hand down cobbled streets soaking up the culture of some delightful foreign city. [...]

[A]fter all those years of trying for a baby and finally achieving my goal, his arrival made me somehow unhappier than I had been before.

Humans evolving rapidly

Human evolution has been moving at breakneck speed in the past several thousand years, far from plodding along as some scientists had thought, researchers said on Monday...For example, Africans have new genes providing resistance to malaria. In Europeans, there is a gene that makes them better able to digest milk as adults. In Asians, there is a gene that makes ear wax more dry.

What did you do right in 2007?

That's what I asked readers on my other site. Reading through the responses is really inspiring.

One of those games you want to hate...

...But keep playing anyway. The best I could do was 4.1 seconds. Somebody please come over to my house and make me stop!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

If we do contact extraterrestrial life, what should we say?

It never occurred to me that this could result in furious debate, but it figures. Oddly amusing.

An abortion doctor speaks candidly to medical students

Here's an article with some highlights, and here's the actual video. I watched almost all of it. The lack of conscience is stunning. At one point he remarks:

There is a doctor in Kansas who does abortions to 26 when we have a patient like that we send them to Kansas.

As an OB, he's undoubtedly delivered babies at 26 weeks and knows that they are viable. He also smiles later as he talks lightly about seeing women who have abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy because their boyfriends left, and refers to women who wait until 24 weeks to have abortions because it takes them a while to collect the money. Here's another standout quote:

When I worked in Mexico doing some research in fetal physiology, because in Mexico I could do things with pregnant women that I couldn't do in America...

It's also interesting that throughout the video he repeats multiple times that it doesn't bother him to do abortions and that he's proud of what he does. Methinks the doctor doth protest too much.

Outsourcing wombs

This article about India's booming "reproductive tourism" industry is like something out of a sci-fi novel:
Customer service, tech support...these days we outsource everything to India. So why not pregnancy? Here is a report on the growing number of Indian women willing to carry an American child.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Monday, December 10, 2007

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Knowing Mary Through the Bible: Mary's Last Words

I thought this article was interesting. The summary:

Mary's command to the servants at Cana -- "Do whatever he tells you" (Jn. 2:5) -- represents her last recorded words in the Bible. And they serve as much more than an exhortation to obedience. They echo the Old Testament spousal covenant of love between Yahweh, the divine Bridegroom, and Israel, His bride.

Read the rest.

On hope

Catholic Mom has a beautiful post about Advent and Pope Benedict's latest encyclical on hope. A great read.

Faith and trust

In my conversion from atheism, this has been my experience exactly. An excerpt:

Ever since my conversion, I found the same thing over and over again: that the illogical or unfair parts of the Christian Dogma I was being asked to accept on faith, upon closer inspection, turn out to say, not what the world told me the Church said, but something more like what natural reason and supernatural love would be likely to say.

Anger is not a morally neutral emotion

I can't wait to get this CD that Leila of Catholic Moms Matchmaking mentioned in the comments to this post. She writes:

I have been dealing with just this same issue in the past four days! A friend and mother of eight had recommended a $3 CD to me that she (and then I) bought at our parish gift shop. It's called Anger and Forgiveness and it's by a wonderful man I had never heard of before (but "coincidentally" came across yesterday again), Deacon Dr. Bob McDonald. He is a permanent deacon and an M.D./psychotherapist. This CD taught me things on anger that I had never known. In fact, it completely debunked the notion that I had been "preaching" for years, that "the emotion of anger is morally neutral." Wrong! Boy, was it a wake up call for both me and my husband!

I'm looking forward to listening to this.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Why do we believe in the Immaculate Conception?

A good homily here (14 min).

How Tolerant and Compassionate Was Jesus?

An interesting post at A Shepherd's Voice.

Blog of the Week: The Great Deception

I always love to read The Great Deception. Blogger Jenny always tells it like it is, writing posts that are entertaining, concise and sometimes funny about everything from chastity to contraception to faith to politics. I liked this one and this one about some of the widespread lies in our culture, and here she has a good idea for celebrating Advent. And what a great quote at the top of her homepage:

"All that we call human history--money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery--[is] the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy." - C. S. Lewis

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Rehearsing the history of memories

I loved this quote about Advent and the Church year from Pope Benedict:

Advent is concerned with that very connection between memory and hope which is so necessary to man. Advent’s intention is to awaken the most profound and basic emotional memory within us, namely, the memory of the God who became a child. This is a healing memory; it brings hope. The purpose of the Church’s year is continually to rehearse her great history of memories, to awaken the heart’s memory so that it can discern the star of hope.…

It is the beautiful task of Advent to awaken in all of us memories of goodness and thus to open doors of hope.

via Melanie's comment to this post

Recipes from top restaurants

A ton of recipes for things like Applebee's French Onion Soup or Outback Steakhouse's Coconut Shrimp. (PDF)

Great confession advice

Fr. Martin Fox shares some great insights on the practical benefits on confession.

via Danielle Bean

Should we teach our kids that Santa is real?

That's what a reader asked Danielle Bean. As usual, she has a very good, reasonable response.

Breastfeeding in public

Matthew at Catholic Dads had a good point from a while back that I've been meaning to highlight. He says to people who oppose breastfeeding in public:

If you would like my wife who is breastfeeding our baby to go to the bathroom so that our baby can eat, then why don't you have your wife or daughter with their low cut or midriff baring top join her with their meal? I could probably say the same thing about your son with his unkempt hair and shirt that has a phrase I don't want my eight year old to read.

I thought this was a great summary of how crazy our culture's ideas about what is and is not offensive are.

via Catholic Pillow Fight

The Human Experience

The guys who made that stunning Fishers of Men video have a new film coming out called The Human Experience. You can see the trailer here, which looks amazing.

via The Order of Preachers blog

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Making a board for answered prayers

I love this idea of creating a board to post mementos that remind you of prayers that have been answered.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

Hallie, a Catholic convert who grew up in a non-religious family, reflects on Christmastime without God. As a person with a similar background, I found this to be especially moving. Here's an excerpt:

Each and every year I spent Christmas in tears. That is not an exaggeration. It became a running joke in the family. I remember it so clearly. I felt such sorrow each Christmas. I couldn’t explain it. I didn’t know why I felt this way but my heart hurt. Even just remembering it makes me a little sad. I now know why.

Read the rest.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Help of the Holy Innocents

Abigail shares a touching story of faith in the face of the culture of death after she and her husband found out that they are both carriers of the cystic fibrosis gene.

16 ways being disorganized costs you money

Some of these sound familiar.

What is Advent?

Readers at my other site offer some brief summaries of the meaning of the season.

We wait for his return

Veronica Mitchell has a beautiful post about Advent. I loved this part:

Today is the first Sunday of Advent, during which we remember the long years before Jesus’s birth, and we prepare for him to be born again. The Christian calendar is a way of remembering, not as nostalgia, but as a celebration of God’s faithfulness in his saving acts, which have made us his family. In celebrating the holy days of the calendar, we defy our own loneliness.

Read the whole thing.

Sunday, December 2, 2007