Friday, May 30, 2008

The CA same-sex "marriage" decision

As you all know by now, a California court decided just this week that same-sex couples may claim a constitutional right to marry in that state.

Fr. Neuhaus over at First Things has a beautiful synopsis of two very different views of the situation for Catholics. First, he summarizes Fr. Reese, SJ's rather blithe analysis of the Catholic hierarchy's Medieval restrictions on sexual intercourse. Second, he offers a much more edifying article by Bishop Vigneron of Oakland, CA. Here is the last excerpt:

'Bishop Vigneron reminds Catholics of the teaching of the Second Vatican Council that it is a primary responsibility of laypeople to bear witness to the truth in the secular realm.

“As faithful citizens Catholics are called to bring our laws regarding marriage into conformity with what we know about the nature of marriage.” Faithfulness, however, does not ensure success.

“If such efforts fail, our way of life will become counter-cultural, always a difficult situation for Christians—one our forebears faced in many ages past, one that the Lord himself predicted for us. Indeed, even if such efforts meet with success, our work is far from done. We would still be living in a society where many accept a set of convictions that is ultimately detrimental to the integrity of human life, with negative consequences for one’s happiness in this world and the next. Your mission then will be, as it always has been, to be a light and leaven for the new creation established in Christ. The resources of the Theology of the Body, worked out by the late Holy Father, John Paul II, will be an especially helpful resource for this task.”'

Canus canus or homo sapien?

Mom at Park (M@P): What a cute baby!

Post-partum Me (PPM): Oh, thanks! She's wonderful.

M@P (juggles gurgling 16-mo-old on lap): My husband and I can't decide whether to have another baby or get a dog.

PPM: Um. (wonders how to urge her convincingly that another baby is loads of fun, joy, and the best gift one can give one's first child. First child enters to complain; second child urps.)

M@P: Babies are just so much work.

PPM: Well, babies last longer than dogs.

M@P: Ah. Yes. Well. That's true.

PPM (wonders where that came from): And dogs are messy.

M@P: Well, yes.

PPM (concludes she needs more sleep)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sex in the (Fantasy) City

Great and short article on the sister myths of "protected" sex and girls-gone-wild. Thanks to Danielle Bean!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

My Little Passionist

Inspired by lovely images of little girls making "fairy crowns" and having tea parties in fields of flowers, I asked Miriam this morning if she'd like to make a crown and play dress-up.

"Yes!" she cried, in raptures. "I want to make a crown of thorns!"

A crown of thorns.

"And I will not be sad like Jesus. I will make Jesus feel better!"

Yikes. A budding Poor Clare in our midst.

So, we got out the brown and black construction paper, cut out hundreds of small triangles, and glued them to a black band. The effect is rather ghastly, but the child loves her crown of thorns.

Disturbingly perhaps, she insisted on naming each "thorn" after a member of her family or play-group. There is a mommy-thorn, and daddy-thorn, a Tracy-thorn, an Emma-thorn, etc... I'm not sure what the mystical implications of this exercise were, but I'm sure it will add unto her sanctifcation!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Reading the Classics

Thanks to Melanie B. over at The Wine-Dark Sea for this link. "Nancy Drew and the Wine-Dark Sea" explains the value of classical literature--and the inanity of most children's literature. A good motivation to continue your brave fight for truth, goodness, and beauty!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Corpus Christi

Strangely, I'm taking the feast of Corpus Christi to send you over to a recently discovered blog: DREADNOUGHT.

The feast of the Body of Christ is, of course, primarily about the Eucharist. This sacrament, the source and summit of our faith, contains in itself--in Jesus--all truth, all suffering, all redemption.

We can also, however, remember Paul's mysterious words: "I make up in my body what is lacking in the suffering of Christ." The fellow over at DREADNOUGHT lives out these words as a faithful Catholic who is also homosexual. I've been musing on the difficulty of the Theology of the Body in real life lately--the CHurch's teaching on fidelity, contraception, homosexuality, celibacy, etc... Why does the truth seem so impossible to, well, almost everyone? I've tried to live out the Church's teaching in these areas feel inadequate to express the joy of the Cross. This fellow helps me out a bit.

Edgy. Truthful. Good writing.

Friday, May 23, 2008

the innocuous Christ

I was looking up Hannah Arendt on the inimitable Wikipedia. IT was most amusing to note the side-bar indicating the major influences on her work:

Pre-Socratics, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Jesus, Paul, Duns Scotus, Saint Augustine, Machiavelli, Montesquieu, Edmund Burke, Kant, Tocqueville, Marx, Heidegger, Russell, Jaspers, Benjamin

Not a few of these figures, I think, would be amused to see Jesus inserted in their ranks as just one more influence. The great and heartbreaking joke: the hidden God.

But with all respect, Arendt's Human Condition is one book you ought not to miss.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


At this point, four weeks into post-partum, I start to get antsy and ambitious. Things like running two errands at once, reading Hans Urs von Balthasar, making a three-pot dinner, and taking both girls biking and to Mass seem ... doable. And yet, I am still post-partum and sleep-deprived. The sights must be set lower: one errand at a time, frozen dinner, play in the yard, read half of Morning Prayer.

A smaller life is a radical gift.

The other evening, the Scientist Dad's fellowship program had a little dinner at a prof's house for the end of the semester. I ate with several PhD's--all women--and PhD candidates. They talked theories of sugar-use in the early Colonial era, biological bases for various diseases, and the ups and downs of research. Ah, the life of the scholar! Such attraction! And it is a good life. I loved that life.

But this time of little things is precious--fleeting, passing like dust (thank you, St. James!). I will be little for this time and here find my salvation.


Isabella has decided that she will not nurse if I am touching her head. Interesting.

She will only eat if her head is safely nestled on the Cow Pillow. At least she has chosen a security item appropriate to "milking time."

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Things that get you through:

An unexpected piece of cheesecake from a neighbor.
A bright red marigold blooming on the back porch.
The three-year-old singing, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" fifty-two times while twirling.
The three-year-old and three-week-old napping at the same time for two hours.
The indwelling of the Holy Trinity--no matter how much your body aches.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Papa on human sexuality

Long live Benedict XVI!

VATICAN CITY, 10 MAY 2008 (VIS) - At midday today, Benedict XVI received participants in an international congress being promoted by the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome to mark the 40th anniversary of the promulgation of the Encyclical "Humanae vitae".

Recalling that the Encyclical was published by Pope Paul VI on 25 July 1968, the Pope highlighted how "the document soon became a sign of contradiction", and pointed out that "it constitutes a significant show of courage in reiterating the continuity of the Church's doctrine and tradition".

"The truth expressed in 'Humanae vitae 'does not change", he said, "quite the contrary, in the light of new scientific discoveries its teaching becomes more relevant and stimulates reflection on the intrinsic values it possesses".

The Holy Father affirmed that "in a culture suffering from the prevalence of having over being, human life risks losing its value. If the practice of sexuality becomes a drug that seeks to enslave the partner to one's own desires and interests without respecting the times of the beloved, then what must be defended is no longer just the concept of love but, primarily, the dignity of the person. As believers we could never allow the power of technology to invalidate the quality of love and the sacredness of life".

Natural law, he said, "deserves to be recognised as the source inspiring the relationship between a married couple in their responsibility to generate children. The transmission of life is inscribed in nature and its laws stand as an unwritten norm to which everyone must refer".

Nascent life, said the Pope, "is the fruit of a love capable of thinking and choosing in complete freedom, without allowing itself to be overly conditioned by the sacrifice this may require. From here emerges the miracle of life which parents experience in themselves as they sense the extraordinary nature of what is achieved in them and through them. No mechanical technique can substitute the act of love that husband and wife exchange as a sign of the greater mystery, in which they are protagonists and co-participants of creation".

After recalling the sad episodes that sometimes involve adolescents "whose reactions display their incorrect appreciation of the mystery of life and of the dangerous implications of their actions", the Holy Father expressed the hope that young people "may learn the true meaning of love and prepare for it with appropriate sexual education, not allowing themselves to be distracted by superficial messages that prevent them appreciating the essence of the truth at stake".

"Freedom must join with truth, and responsibility with strength of dedication to others, also through sacrifice. Without these principles the community of man does not develop and there is a risk of being trapped in oppressive selfishness".

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Come, Holy Spirit

Pentecost 2008
Come, Holy Spirit, fill our hearts. And kindle in us the fire of your love.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


It's almost Mother's Day--and Pentecost and Isabella's baptism!--and I was inspired by Et Tu?'s reflections on motherhood to jot down some thoughts.

At the park on Saturday in my yuppy, three-coffee-house, nanny-run, beautiful-people, Lexus-ridden city, moms congregate. So do dads. All are eager to share in their children's play, catch up on cell-phone messages, and chat about the "experience" of motherhood. Being a mother of small children--the toddlers and infants--is just that: an "experience" not to be missed. Like traveling to Phuket, climbing Mt. McKinley, trying your hand at Egyptian cooking, the few years of mothering a small child are seen as a brief hiatus, a time to experience being a mom. For most of the moms at my park, this is a welcome but brief pause in the career.

I don't want to be hard on any of these women--many of them waited years to have children and sacrificed some material comforts in order to have this experience. They truly love their children and want to give them everything (this includes admission to the most prestigious pre-schools in Atlanta). I only want to express my profound dissatisfaction with the attitude that having children or mothering is merely an "experience" not to be missed.

These years with my little toddler and infant are not a "pause," nor simply an "experience," nor even a sort of passage into the real fun of having a family. This time is real--not a "break" from my life. It is more real, in fact, than all the years and hours I spent on me.

The years and hours of college--coffee breaks, writing for fun, reading everything I could, exercising when I wanted, hanging out with friends at leisure--they were a preparation for this family life. They had a purpose, and it was to my own and my family's detriment that I wasted any of them.

Now, with the little ones, my life has become more real because it is less about me. In fact, it's not really at all about me anymore. It is what we were created for--to become lesser that our Creator may become greater in us. To treat these years of mothering the little ones as a brief break or a chosen experience would be to miss out on the whole point, trajectory, and end of my entire life. The whole of life should arc and soar towards Less Of Me and More of You.

So, while I do look forward to the time when I'll be able to go out for a run again, I'm not living for that moment. This time is holy and precious and making me what I was meant to be. Let it be.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Et tu?

This is a great blog: Et tu?

Check it out as I nurse the baby while getting milk for the 2-year-old and blogging.