Friday, February 29, 2008

Lent, and comparing ourselves to others

Some great thoughts from Elizabeth Foss. An excerpt:

Today, set aside time to sit quietly with your husband and to discern what God wants for your household, then surround yourself only with things which encourage you, educate you, and build you up. Resolve to spend not one minute more reading or watching anything that causes you to compare yourself to someone else unfavorably and to ultimately become discouraged. Magazines and blogs are staged re-creations of real life. There is no way to convey to the reader the intricacies of exactly how any life is lived. And that's just fine. Because God calls each of us to our own unique mission and, while we can and should share freely, no one’s mission looks exactly like anyone else's.

If you've ever struggled with the tendency to compare your parenting to everyone else's, read the whole thing.

Blogs I discovered through the Catholic Blog Awards

I've enjoyed looking through the list of Catholic Blog Awards nominees. Some of the great new-to-me blogs I've discovered are (in no particular order):
Just thought I'd share some of these new additions to my Bloglines feed.

J.R.R. Tolkien on the Eucharist

You've got to read this. It's probably the most beautiful reflection on the Eucharist I've ever seen.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Planned Parenthood posters from around the world

Dawn Eden has two collections of Planned Parenthood posters from around the world: here's Part I and Part II. Very telling.

via the Curt Jester

Amazing Camp Dodge photos

A friend sent me these amazing pictures of thousands of soldiers coming together to form images like the Statue of Liberty or the American Eagle. Really neat.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The importance of old-fashioned play

Veronica has some great excerpts from an NPR piece about the loss of old-fashioned play (i.e. kids using their imaginations instead of battery-operated toys) and why it matters.

Watching the movie of your life

I thought this little movie had a powerful idea, the thought of sitting down at the end of your life and watching a movie of yourself and all your actions throughout your whole life. I know I'd be looking for the fast-forward button a lot.

via Charlotte Was Both

Faith, death and grief

Some interesting thoughts.

Capitalism, power and Legotown

A teacher writes about how she and her colleagues took Legos away from the kids they teach in order to show them the evils of power and private ownership and the virtues of collectivism. It's a thoughtful piece with well-meaning ideas...that I will add to my "why I'm going to homeschool" file.

via Kristina's Soapbox

Being a "stay-at-home mom" vs. being a "housewife"

I love this post. I was going to write some similar thoughts for my own blog, but now I don't have to!

via Lord, Guard and Guide

A different kind of sacrifice

I thought this article was so touching, and it fits with my impression of the young seminarians I've met. Here's an excerpt:

People naturally wonder today if [Catholic] seminaries might be accepting unqualified candidates to fill the ranks. I tell them it's just the opposite. Only stronger souls will risk the new scrutiny. The strictures are tighter than ever to get into the seminary and to stay there. There's psychological screening, criminal background checks, annual extensive evaluations, tough academics, close supervision of seminarians in parishes and schools.

Becoming a priest today is swimming upstream start to finish. Staying a priest at this time in history requires fidelity and heavy lifting. But, here’s the good part: That's what builds character and strong men. It's just what the priesthood needs. The church needs it and society needs it too.

Read the whole thing.

From one sacrament to others...

The beautiful story of how one dress became an heirloom.

via the Catholic Blog Awards

Monday, February 25, 2008

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Ultimate Blog Party 2008

I think this is a really cute idea for a blog event. It's a ladies-only blog "party" the week of March 7th.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Purgatory as self-knowledge

Some thoughts to ponder about sin and the impact that so many of our so-called "personal choices" have on others. I thought this quote from T.S. Elliot was particularly interesting:

Humankind cannot bear to see the destruction and horror that it brings into the world, cannot bear to accept the responsibility for the injuries it has afflicted on others. Our offenses, infidelities, greed, lust, and violence ripple through families and communities, affecting people unto the third and fourth generation. We spend much of our time, both individually and corporately, protecting ourselves against this knowledge.

Read the rest.

A shadow of love

This post over at Holy Experience about love, the soul and the eclipse gave me chills.

Breathtaking Monasteries Around the World

Check out this article about some amazing monasteries around the world.

Why do we do penance?

I thought this was a great, concise post. Tausign also has some helpful posts on the topic of penance.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

How to make a pro-life movie

I can't wait to see The Human Experience after reading this review at Aggie Catholics. An excerpt:

The makers of this film have done us all a favor. They have made a pro-life film, without ever talking about abortion, euthanasia or other pro-life issues. It is pro-life because it is pro-human. They have made a pro-Christ film without explicitly talking about Him. This is the kind of movie that can move anyone who sees it.

The power of film and the art of being human was shown to me through this film as few films could ever do.

Watch the trailer here.

Midnight vulnerability

This line jumped out at me from a post on Christian joy at Youth Reform:

As for the non-lethal toils, such as hardships and sufferings, they are gift! They are the Dark Night of the Soul that reminds us of our smallness and dependence on the Great One who lovingly keeps us safe and guides us to Him. All those hardships are prepared for us in infinite wisdom that we may learn and climb out of the swamp that is our current sinful positions. Those in the noontime do not realize their vulnerability...but those same people realize at midnight how truly exposed they are. [emphasis mine]

I'd never made that connection to the term "dark night of the soul," but it makes a lot of sense: being outside at midnight makes you feel so much more vulnerable and helpless than being outside at noon. Interesting thoughts to ponder.

Lent and the temptation to power

I just found this great video by Fr. Robert Barron over at Wholly Catholic. I really enjoyed it. Definitely worth the four minutes it takes to watch it:

Art, Detachment, and the Beauty of God

A thought-provoking post.

Monday, February 18, 2008

"Was this pregnancy planned?"

What a beautiful post:

Last month I was blessed to give birth to my son. While filling out some of the scads of hospital paperwork, I ran across this question:

Was this pregnancy planned?

I was at a loss over how to answer. How do you plan to receive a gift?

Read the whole thing.

Demographic Winter

A new documentary about what may happen if societies continue to have children below replacement rate (to see the trailer click on "Skip Intro" and then "Trailer & Clips").

via Historical Christian

Portion distortion

Take this quiz to learn about how our concepts of food portion sizes have changed in recent decades. (You can use the "Next Question" link at the top to jump to the next question with answering it.)

Why is "sheltering" a bad word?

Some great thoughts on the idea that it's bad to "shelter" our children.

Victorian fung shui

Lady Lydia at Home Living has a nice post about arranging living room furniture.

What happens when sci-fi fans get a hold of papal Mass footage

See this video at Sci-Fi Catholic to find out.

via Claw of the Conciliator

Two types of Catholics

A convert talks about seeing two very different understandings of the Catholic Church among modern Catholics:

The two groups are distinguished not so much by what they do, the way they worship or the causes they espouse, but by their underlying understanding of just what the Catholic Church is for. [...]

Two very different sets of underlying foundations have created the two churches within the Church. The two opposing views can be called “Happy Here” and “Happy Hereafter.” Those who hold the first believe that the point, not only of the Church but of the whole of human existence, is to produce human happiness here in this life.

The second is concerned with finding eternal happiness. According to this basic assumption, this life is a vale of tears. This mortal life is hard because it is a place to battle against sin and to produce those diamond-hard souls called saints.

The whole thing is worth reading.

via Catholic Mom

Bugs on the windshield of truth

An amusing analogy about what it means to be part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Friday, February 15, 2008

What does it mean to "die to self"?

A great answer.

via Domestic Vocation

Two more bloggers post from Uganda about meeting the children they sponsor

Get your kleenex ready for this post from Shannon and this post from BooMama. Also, this page on Compassion's site has a list of children who need someone to pay $32/month to sponsor them.

What is your autobiography in six words?

Go tell Veronica Mitchell.

Bloggers' favorite cookbooks

The Casual Kitchen has an excellent list of various bloggers' favorite cookbooks. I found it via Meredith, who asked her readers to list their favorite cookbooks as well.

The domestic monastery

A kind reader just sent me this article, saying that it might have some food for thought for my ongoing quest to bring peace to my daily life. It was so good I had to share it. An excerpt:

What is a monastery? A monastery is not so much a place set apart for monks and nuns as it is a place set apart (period). It is also a place to learn the value of powerlessness and a place to learn that time is not ours, but God's...Certain vocations offer the same kind of opportunity for contemplation. They too provide a desert for reflection.

For example, the mother who stays home with small children experiences a very real withdrawal from the world. Her existence is definitely monastic. Her tasks and preoccupations remove her from the centres of power and social importance. And she feels it. Moreover her sustained contact with young children (the mildest of the mild) gives her a privileged opportunity to be in harmony with the mild, that is, to attune herself to the powerlessness rather than to the powerful.

Read the whole thing.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Neat word riddle

What common English word is nine letters long, and each time you remove a letter from it, it still remains an English word, down to a single letter? Find out here.

Seven Mistakes Movies Make

Marcel excerpt a great article. My favorite:

[L]ove is all about serving a beloved, and not about using someone else to satiate our own needs and desires.

Yet, in the movies, "I love you" isn't about what I give my beloved; it's all about what my beloved provides for me. One of the best known scenes in modern film has Tom Cruise bursting into a divorce support group meeting and begging for Rene Zellweger to return (Jerry McGuire). He had her at hello. Unfortunately he got the love thing all wrong: "You complete me," he told her.

To which she should have replied, "Complete yourself, buddy, then look me up when you've matured past narcissism and are ready to love."

Read the rest.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Does knowing good AND evil give you knowledge of everything?

Fascinating thoughts from Simcha:

Knowledge of good and evil ...well, isn't that what God wants us to have? So we can be well-rounded, mature people with insight and empathy. [...]

Here's what occurs to me. It seems like if you had the knowledge of good and evil, you'd know everything.

But evil isn't something -- it's just a lack (yes, I'm the one who gave Augustine that idea).

So a knowledge of evil wouldn't add anything to you...If you have a knowledge of good, you already have a knowledge of everything. All you would have gained by a knowledge of evil would be a loss. Nothing new, just less of what is.

Read the rest here, and the follow-up here.

Wiping tears from my eyes...

...After reading this short post from one of the Uganda bloggers. Wow.

via The Secret Life of Kat

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

What happens to your body if you drink a Coke right now?

I'm trying to cut the habit of an afternoon Coke to stay awake, so I read this for inspiration. I feel much better about sticking to water now. :)

Lent fast re-branded as 'Christian Ramadan'

Dutch Catholics have re-branded the Lent fast as the "Christian Ramadan." Why? Because their young people are more likely to know about Islam than Christianity.

via John C. Wright

100 Photoshop tutorials

I like the layout of these tips: a block of photos where you can move your mouse over each one to learn how it was done.

via Daily Blog Tips

Photo of the Day: Burnt rice

What happens when you forget that the rice was on the burner. I actually thought it made kind of a cool pattern. :)

The Road to Grace: Transparency

A powerful post from Dr. Bob in his series on grace in Christianity.

Monday, February 11, 2008

"Monitor mode"

I continue to be impressed with the Lenten reflections at Remember Thou Art Dust. This is a good one about not slipping into "monitor mode" with God as we so often do with people, where we listen only for what we want to hear.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Feminism, motherhood and patriarchy theory

Oz Conservative has one of the most thought-provoking posts I've read in a while. I've been thinking about this explanation of the modern feminist mindset ever since I read it:

[T]he "correct" feminist answer involves an assumption that motherhood isn’t so interesting and that women who are at home with their children are being denied access to something better.

Where does this anti-maternal assumption come from? It stems from patriarchy theory. According to patriarchy theory what matters most is that we are autonomous. The motherhood role is thought to be less autonomous than the traditional male career role, as it is based on a "biological destiny" rather than on an individual career path, and because it involves financial dependence on a husband. If the motherhood role is inferior, though, patriarchy theorists must deny that it is a natural one for women. Therefore, patriarchy theorists claim that gender is an oppressive social construct, imposed on women to uphold male privilege.

Read the rest here.

"It is marriage and children that turn boys into men"

Some fascinating thoughts on the perpetual adolescence of the American male.

23 weird (and helpful) uses for food

Neat article. Pepper for preserving laundry colors, soda for unclogging drains, mayo for getting crayon marks off of wood, butter for untangling necklaces -- all good to know!

Pruning your fear of hospitality

Meredith (of the great "cheerful frugality" blog Like Merchant Ships) shares some wonderful tips for entertaining guests. A must-read for anyone who would like to entertain more but has a fear of hosting large gatherings.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

On hope

Matt has a nice, concise summary of Pope Benedict's recent letter on Christian hope. I still haven't had time to read all of the actual letter, so I really enjoyed this summary.

Cute idea for a site:

Find out what glue to use to attach any substance to any other substance.

via Geekpress

Third grade boy "wants" to be girl

This article must be read to be believed. All the people involved seem so well-meaning, but this is just diversity taken way, way too far. Also, it's quite a sign of the times that this organization for "transgendered children" is working with the public school system.

Tradition and Lent

I enjoyed reading this post from Remember Thou Art Dust, a Lentent blog of the Church of the Apostles. An excerpt:

One of the many saving virtues of [respecting tradition] is that, if we make the effort to honor our parents, natural or spiritual, we reap the reward that comes from being forced actually to try something—like observing Lent—that we would otherwise, in our vast wisdom and experience, dismiss out of hand. [...]

If I offer even a grudging respect for tradition, my willingness to submit and obey opens a door for God to shape me. It's the opposite of looking for an experience tailored to what I think I want. I'm old enough now to recognize that I rarely know what's best for me. The things that will make me a better and happier person are not what I would choose on my own.

Read the rest here.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Always Carnival, Never Lent

A great post from Red Cardigan:

In C.S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the human children who venture to Narnia discover that because of the presence of the evil witch, it has been winter for years--always winter, but never Christmas. The phrase tends to create an immediate picture in a child's mind, a picture of bleak, dark days, blanketed by snow untrod by the feet of holiday merrymakers, cold without cheer, desolation unmarked by celebration or hope.

In our world today, we face a different problem than the problem of Narnia, a problem of equally skewed priorities, and equally bereft of the spiritual balance we need. In a post-global consumer paradise, it is always Carnival, but never Lent.

Read the rest.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The demand for mediocrity

Some fascinating thoughts on the modern world, God, and art from a Canadian opera singer.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

A thought for Ash Wednesday

From Abigail:

Today is the day of Ashes and a fore-taste of death. All that we are, all whom we touch, all that we create, will soon turn to dust and return to the earth. Just for today, let everything your make: a sketch, a letter, a blog post, or a simple fasting supper be prompted by the Holy Spirit. May all our work during the Lenten season be completed in humility, rather than the all too familiar prompting of pride and glory-seeking. Saint Matthew, pray for us.

Some helpful information for Lent

- A great FAQ, answering questions like "Why aren't Sundays a part of Lent?"

- The official Catholic guidelines for fasting during Lent.

both via the Curt Jester

It takes a family to raise a village

Some great thoughts from Jennifer Roback Morse:

Up until now, [women] have defined our goal as being equal participants in a labor market designed for people who don't give birth. Rather than change the labor market to accommodate the woman's body, we have insisted that women change their fertility in order to accommodate the labor market. I say we should take women's fertility as given and change the labor market to accommodate our bodies. We have defined our personal goal as being completely financially independent of men. I say we should find ways to strengthen our collaboration with our husbands.

I claim the right to participate in the labor market as women, not as men in skirts. I claim the right to get married and stay married, not the right to raise our children alone, and to spend larger and larger portions of our lives alone. The family is essential to a free society. And women are essential to the family.

Read the rest here.

Monday, February 4, 2008


I am ashamed to admit that my husband and I could probably have lengthy conversations in which we just say the word dude with different intonations. (Don't miss the video.)

Japanese people converting to Christianity because of Bach?

An odd-but-cool story.

Top 10 questions Catholic college students ask

The Aggie Catholic bloggers put together a post based on the top questions they get from students and see in their search engine referrals. Great idea.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

All people with blue eyes have a single, common ancestor

Very interesting.

"The soul is not just some metaphysical idea"

I just came across the conversion story of Jeff Miller (a.k.a. the Curt Jester), who is also a former atheist. Good stuff.

Pouring in faith

A must-read for all busy moms. An excerpt:

You know that wonderful story about the widow making bread with the last of her oil for Elijah? I was realizing that if I hold back on what I give my kids because I feel like there won't be enough [energy] to go around...then there usually isn't. But if I start out the morning pouring, the oil just keeps coming all day long. [...]

One of the lovely things about the story of the widow is that the miracle does not happen until you start to pour in faith. If you just sit in your bedroom waiting to feel full, it is just not going to happen. This kind of jug only fills while it is pouring, and there really will be enough to go around!

Read the rest here.

via Adoption Road