Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Friday, September 25, 2009

When to pray.

I'd forgotten something from my pregnancy with Isabella--during which I also battled HG: It is not a spiritual retreat. When you're very sick, there are few consolations in prayer. Although it is a privilege to suffer for a little person, it is also all-consuming. I'll have to remember this: Pray when you are healthy, so that when you are sick you can just be sick. If you are never healthy again, then rest in knowing that prayer--at least as you have known it--is not necessary. Only emptiness and a glance is necessary.

St. Therese reminded me the other day, via an article in First Things, that suffering is not ecstasies and flights of romantic passion. It is simply to be in pain--but not alone.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Just for fun.

This is about what my brain is capable of right now. It reminds me of how awesome my husband has been. Not only has he NOT said any of the below-mentioned phrases, but he has also spent all night awake in a hospital triage room, cleaned up various vomit, forced me to keep sipping, and somehow kept the children alive, too. This one's for you, sweets.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Valley of the Shadow.

For those of you finding out via the blogosphere over your morning coffee, my apologies! We found out that we're expecting our newest little philosopher around mid-May of 2010. We are thrilled and can't wait to meet this new, irreplaceable little person.

In the meantime, however, the Philosopher Mom will be battling a few months worth of hyperemesis gravidarum. Your prayers are much needed and greatly appreciated as we pack up our little ones, ship us off to the grandparents, and leave the Scientist Dad behind to cry over his beakers. (He'll probably have some fun times, too!)

Blogging will be light, but a sometime escape. Until we meet again, keep your eyes fixed on the True, the Good, and the Beautiful!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day.

It seems oddly appropriate on "Labor" Day (for us Americans, anyway!) to ponder the event that leads in most cases to labor: conception. Sara Fox Peterson at has a good article on the Catholic Church's teaching on contraception. In particular, she addresses whether a couple with a "medical reason" may in good conscience use a drug or treatment that will result in sterilization. The answer, of course, is "yes": If the drug is not specifically designed for the sole purpose of contracepting. Then she notes this challenging quote from John Paul II:

Contraception is to be judged so profoundly unlawful as to be never, for any reason, justified. To think or to say the contrary is equal to maintaining that in human life, situations may arise in which it is lawful not to recognize God as God.” (Pope John Paul II – Osservatore Romano, October, 10, 1983)

That is, the Church's teaching on contraception is not about who we are, our male and female parts, the hang-ups of old white guys in the Vatican... It is about who God is.

The Scientist Dad and I partook of a Planet Earth marathon yesterday. What we couldn't get over was how prolific creation is. Even in the most hostile environments, there is life in one bizarre form or another. Not only is there life everywhere, but everywhere life is bent on reproducing. Metabolize and reproduce. That's about it. The God who made all that--from the cave fish to the snow leopords, from the cicadas to the great redwoods--is clearly the sort of Being who loves life. The God who is God alone made us, too, along with our rather stange system of reproduction. To recognize God as God is to stand in profound awe of that power.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Blessed Mother Teresa

Somehow "Blessed Teresa of Calcutta" hasn't caught on yet--she is still "Mother Teresa" twelve years after her death. Today is her anniversary, and I wanted to remember her as one of the greatest thinkers I have ever read. But she would think that silly: instead, she is one of the greatest mothers of our time.

Here is a beautiful memorial piece from First Things: "She silenced even a Jesuit who joked that she seemed to be getting smaller: “Yes, and I must get smaller until I am small enough to fit into the heart of Jesus.”"

Friday, September 4, 2009

Peace on a Friday.

In spite of nightmares about H1N1, restless toddler, and exceptionally clingy 4-year-old, all is most well. Have a beautiful weekend sharing in your little part of the eternal peace.
Pillar of Cloud
~John Henry Newman

LEAD, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom,
Lead thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home,—
Lead thou me on!
Keep thou my feet! I do not ask to see
The distant scene—one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor prayed that thou
Shouldst lead me on;
I loved to choose and see my path; but now
Lead thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will: remember not past years!

So long thy power hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on,
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone,
And with the morn those angel faces smile
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

In the best of company.

The Anchoress has up a stirring post profiling several priests of recent (in Churchyears) memory. My prayer is hers: "Grant us more such gifts, O Lord." No philosophy can alone account for such men.

Thanks to Melanie at Wine Dark Sea!

Be Holy.

Fr. Thomas G. Morrow gives a beautiful and practical introduction to Catholic spirituality with Be Holy: A Catholic's Guide to the Spiritual Life. The blurb on the back is a little lofty and completely turned me off at first: "Be Holy is the guide you'll need to achieve holiness now and heaven later." Gargh.

But immediately, the author himself makes it clear that what you need in order to become holy is Truth, grace, and large doses of the sacramental life of the Church. Much more up my alley.

I was particularly struck by Morrow's decision to open with a goo 30 pages on what he calls the "motivations for holiness"--why should we want to be holy, anyway? He goes right the four Last Things: the delight of heaven (which he describes mostly in terms of a "divine marriage"), the reality of Hell, the suffering of purgatory, and the pursuit of happiness here on earth. It is a phenomenal chapter--I learned a lot about the meaning of purgatory for example. And it's a great opportunity to see a diocesan priest writing about these things. I haven't heard the word "purgatory" at Mass in at least 5 years (the last time I remember it was as a joke about the Baltimore Catechism).

It's great motivation.

He also offers eminently practical guidelines--taken from the great spiritual directors of the Church's history--for growth in holiness. He lists and explains the different categories of virtues, the spiritual and corporal works of mercy, the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet, to name a few. The language is simple and straightforward, with many anecdotes from real people's lives to illustrate the concepts.

This book is probably the best introduction to the Whole Catholic Thing I've seen in a long time. I hope to use it in some way with OCIA (RCIA) this year, and would highly recommend it for anyone who wants to learn more about what it means to be Catholic.
This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Be Holy.