Wednesday, May 31, 2006

This morning was my first time in the pool in about a month. I was sick for a full three weeks, a combination of allergies, flu-like symptoms and morning sickness. Then, last week, we were out of town, but I swam just about every day during our vacation.

And the great thing about exercising in the pool is that my muscles won't be sore. That's the hardest part about getting back into an land exercise routine, lactic acid buildup in the muscles. Not a problem in swimming, both conditioning and resistance strength training. The water massages the muscles during the workout.

I swam about five laps (a lap is down and back, you know, two lengths of the pool), three before my swimnastics class and two afterwards.

My lung capacity has taken a noticeable hit from the illness which was respiratory in its latter stages.

Usually the 45-minute class goes by quickly but today I caught myself looking at the clock every five minutes!

I tend to perform the first 20 minutes of the class, the warm-up, in the deep end, treading water and following the warmup moves as best as possible while keeping my head above water. I want a "no impact" warmup, a warmup that usually consists of jumping jacks, jogging and other impact moves (leapfrogs, cowboy kicks, rocking horse, cossack kicks, etc.)

Then the instructor takes us into kickboxing techniques which none of us like. We all prefer aerobic, conditioning moves to toning, strength exercises. But, in any event, I come into shallower water for the kickboxing because it's just easier to stand and kick.

I'm tired but in a good, used kind of way. Just relaxed fatigue.
Keep Alive ... Sabres Not Rattled

This SI blog makes some obvious assertions: The Cup Blog
Overcoming hardship is part of the lore of being a Buffalo Sabre.

... and a Buffalo Bill ... and a Buffalonian ...

"the tough-luck Sabres"

If a Sabre can survive ... the dreariness of downtown Buffalo

Now, I never thought about it before, but my childhood in dull, average western NY prepared me for adulthood in rural NJ! How about that?! Oh, with a year or two in rural OH. (Talk about dullsville!)

"How bleak was my puberty!" -- "The Gooch", Agnes Gooch O'Bannion, Rosalind Russell's Auntie Mame)

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Watched the first half hour or so of Million Dollar Baby again and the thing which I didn't notice the first time is Frankie's ability to interact with women in a productive way. Not just that he doesn't treat them as sex objects. Not just that he respects them. But that he takes them seriously, takes them at their word, eventually. And gives them what they ask for, straight.

This sincerity is evident when contrasted in the scene of her first (and last) fight under another trainer/manager. The manager does not give a solid strategy when she asks, instead gives only meaningless pep talks. Now, maybe it's his own shortcomings as a trainer/manager; maybe he's all fluff himself and hasn't any idea about boxing. Or maybe he underestimates her.

How often I have been under such management, professionally, athletically and "ecclesially". I'll discuss my athletic experience under male coaches from a long time ago as it's not likely to upset anyone:

When I ran a 3:06 for the 800 meters in tennis shoes on a cinder track as a seventh grader, my male coach remarked, "Not bad for a girl." His words would ring through my ears over the next ten years of racing.

The worse coach I ever had, towards the end of my college career, was an ex-football coach. He was all pep and nothing practical, a lot like that trainer/manager in Million Dollar Baby.

I remember the time he gave me a fructose drink at the beginning of a day of racing!

By my third race, dead last, I was running slow enough to overhear bystanders commenting on me,
"Isn't this the same girl who ran that terrifically freakish mile in the DMR? Look at her now in last place!"
Race officials were completely unaware of me so far behind that I ran into one who had stepped onto the track in lane 1 as the pack passed, his back to me coming.

My mile was 5:17 that day, one of my best times, against a headwind ... and with a tailwind, yes, an outdoor, oval track works that way. Well, the 3200 was never my event ... I guess the ex-football coach just wanted to prove that to me.

The head coach, Richard Barry, had a knack for coaching girls. Heptathletes.

He wasn't interested in me, a middle distance runner with no field events. He had an All-American during my time there who had tried out for the Olympic team. I can't remember if she was an alternate or what. And he knew how to coach boys.

His assistant -- I won't give his name because it would be too easily confused with another man with the same name who is rather prominent in the news right now -- was very good at coaching women. Maybe the fact that he was gay gave him an edge. Well, he taught me to run on pace with interval training such that I knew what a 72 sec. quarter felt like.

You can probably figure out that professionally and in the church, I have had similar experiences, a few good, most bad. But I am grateful that my husband is one of the good male managers in my life.

Monday, May 29, 2006

I started watching with about 4 minutes left to go in regulation. It was an exciting game to watch even if my team didn't win.

Game 5 -- Sabres & Hurricanes
Last night on WHYY, I watched most of a documentary about the WWII codebreakers at NCR in Dayton. This morning, I found this web site dedicated to the story.

I don't remember hearing of this story when I worked at NCR just south of Dayton in Miamisburg in the early 90's.

Maybe if I had spent more time downtown, the company's history would have been communicated to me more fully. The corporate culture in the Miamisburg office was fairly weak, too many young people, not enough oldtimers (a striking difference when I joined AT&T: lots of oldtimers entrenched in their culture).

And I wasn't in R&D or technology, my group supported the US sales team, so I had no contact with professional "descendents" of Joe Desch in engineering.

I guess UD owns NCR's former building 26. I haven't any clue what's become of the company since I left, so I was surprised to learn that NCR abandoned building 26 to the school.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

I've said before that I would like my money back from my two-year Christianity Today subscription begun late last year and I repeat my general dissatisfaction with the magazine.

Maybe it's a blessing that I don't always have time every month to read from it but this month I made an effort because of all the current topics, Da Vinci in particular.

And the gratuitous Catholic slur at the end of Gary Burge's article on page 29 put me over the line. It reads like this, see for yourself:
"This came home to me when I was discussing The Da Vinci Code in a book group recently. Everyone there had a graduate degree, was a professing Christian, and had a professional career. But I was asked, 'What are the apocryphal Gospels, such as the Gospel of Mary, anyway? Don't Catholics have them in their Bible?'"

Even taken with a grain of salt the size of Lot's wife, I find it hard to believe that an "educated, professional evangelical" ever uttered such an absurdity. The comment could very well be a fiction of Burge's journalism. I might even be relieved to discover that no real life evangelical is ignorant enough to put forth such a question. Fair enough, the authenticity of the statement notwithstanding, the dubious sentiment still appears in the article, so what would make Burge and his editors think its inclusion a good idea?

Can't bear to pass up the irony that, of course, Catholics would include the Gospel of Mary among Matthew, Mark, Luke & John because we love all things Marian? Forget the fact that this is the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, not of the BVM. Close enough for us?

Or, forget the fact that the Catholic Church set the New Testament canon and that we have always argued for four, and only four, gospels. Think, yeah, as soon as the fragmentary manuscripts were discovered and published, beginning in 1938, we Catholics greedily added it to our New Testament? Frankly, in case you haven't noticed, our church just doesn't move that quickly on anything, much less incorporating newly discovered "Scripture" into our Bibles.

From the preface to the NAB, revised edition:
The Greek text followed in this translation is that of the third edition of The Greek New Testament, edited by Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Carlo Martini, Bruce Metzger, and Allen Wikgren, and published by the United Bible Societies in 1975. The same text, with a different critical apparatus and variations in punctuation and typography, was published as the twenty-sixth edition of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece in 1979 by the Deutsche Bibelstiftung, Stuttgart. This edition has also been consulted.

That said, it's actually the popular NIV which has its own eclectic Greek text for the New Testament.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

New Order of Mass in English

My English missals are becoming obsolete at an alarming rate. It seems like just yesterday that I found someone publishing the manuals with the latest Scripture translations. Now key prayers are changing?!

Is this really a "vote"? I mean, if the bishops say "no" to all the proposed changes - very unlikely anyway - will Rome make the US adopt the more significant changes ultimately? In the current climate, our bishops haven't much autonomy.

The easiest of the proposed changes is the response to "The Lord be with you" because I remember the Latin so well: et cum spiritu tuo.

We hardly ever say the Confiteor ... does the proposed change imply that we will recite it more regularly?

I can't bear for the Creed to change. It doesn't seem likely that it will change, thankfully. I don't want the Sanctus to change either. The suggested prayer before Communion is ridiculous! And the memorial acclamation is such a standard ... how could we do without it?
We have reached the apocryphal portion of our study of apocalyptic literature, both Jewish and Christian, in my Thursday Night Bible study at St. Gabriel's.

This was the part of the study, the extra-biblical part, that I wasn't keen on doing. So, the first work is the Book of Enoch and I'm sure I've looked at it before, under Jim, along with the Sibylline oracles and jubilees. But, because I was sick two weeks ago and out of town last week, I entered the study session cold, not having peeked at the text in years. No matter, there was background material to be covered and an attempt to piece this work into the chronology of the canonical texts, namely Genesis.

And Jim is chronically smitten with Genesis 6, that odd story about angels mating with woman and producing a race of giants (see Wisdom 14:6 and Baruch 3:26). The story is immediate followed by the Flood.

And I got to thinking about the conquest of the Promised Land and how early reports claimed that the land was inhabited by giants and how in Judges, God uses water to wipe out the enemy and that the Philistines seemed to be a giant people. And I thought how God still uses water to wipe out our Enemy in the sacrament of Baptism. Of course, Peter made this connection first, 1 Peter 3:20-21 but the reality of it came alive to me on Thursday night.

Next year Jim wants to start the Talmud with us. What an unbelievable challenge.
Late for bible study at a church in Plainsboro recently.

As I walked from my car to the church building, I heard the sweet sound of church bells chiming the mid-morning hour. What a beautiful noise! From the Catholic church down the street, Queenship of Mary.

And I was reminded of two things in that split-second: the strong, regular sound of the "Adhan" or Islamic call to prayer from the minarets in Jerusalem when I visited one summer. And the Catholic Liturgy of the Hours. In the latter tradition, the memorial is two-fold: a thanksgiving to God for the gift of our lives and a sober recognition that, with each passing hour, our natural end draws nearer.

And I wondered at the absence of such time markers at this Plainsboro church. Don't we all need a reminder that every moment is sacred and that this life is passing away?

Thursday, May 25, 2006

More pictures of Manatee Springs State Park, Florida at flickr.
Bought my season beach badge this morning. For Belmar.

I always go to Belmar. It's a straight shot over. I don't have to diddle north or south when I get to the Shore. Others tell me Avon is more sophisticated and Bradley Beach is more family-oriented but I'm familiar with Belmar even though it's a dirty beach. The kids like to drive past the train station and like eating Italian ice at Strollo's on 5th and Main ... 'though I noticed some renovation taking place when I passed by on my way home. I hope that doesn't interfere with their service this summer!

Oh, forgot to mention that the season beach badge costs $50. Seniors can get one for $15. Where's the justice in that, tell me? Folks who can go any time, any day pay less than me?! How do I claim their cheapskate reputation for myself so that my prices come down too?

The baby and I walked down the boardwalk from the 5th Ave. Pavilion where I bought my badge, to the 8th Ave. playground. I mean, I put a couple of quarters in the parking meter. I always park at a meter along the boardwalk if I can. I would not want to park on the street in front of someone's house because if that were my house, I wouldn't want anyone parking in front. But plenty of people do park on the street. I'd also rather not walk so far to the beach and not have to cross Ocean Ave., especially with the kids in tow because drivers can be careless.

With Chris, 'though, it's not so much of a walk as it is a meander. He checked out every parking meter along the way ... looking for extra time leftover?

He has a lot to learn about the playground this summer but he learned a lot today already, like how to get up the stairs without crawling. He's still a little afraid of sand and wants me to hold his hand through it. The playground is on the beach but enclosed in a snow fence so little ones don't dash towards the water. In this particular instance, 'though, the snow fence has been mowed down in a couple of spots either by mischievous ATVers' four-wheelers or expedient beach attendants' John Deere Gators. In any event, repairs are needed in the snow fence at the 8th Ave. playground. But I hardly ever go to the 8th Ave. playground.

Now, two summers ago, we went every week to the beach. I was expecting Chris in October so I still had a bit of energy through the summer. Kenny wasn't in camp yet and Tim was almost two years old, so he could get around pretty good. Last year, with Kenny in camp and the baby not walking, the beach didn't seem like a good idea. And the price of gas was so high and I had just gotten the new, gas-guzzling SUV. This summer, Kenny will still be in camp but the baby is able to get around and Tim loves playing in the sand.

Whenever visitors come from out of state, they can't believe that we pay to use the beach. I don't know how it works in other coastal states.
Michele gave me this idea and at first I didn't think that I had any interesting milestones.

Then I read what some other women had written (see Michele's blog) and I became convinced that I don't have any interesting milestones! Fortunately, facts like that have never stopped me from putting in my "two cents' worth":

20 years ago, I graduated from high school.

10 years ago, I made my first and only visit to New Orleans during Lent.

7 years ago, I prepared for a two-week tour of the Holy Land.

5 years ago, I was at home for most of the year with my first child until the fall when I returned to work full-time.

3 years ago, I fell down the stairs while carrying my eldest, then almost three, and broke his fall along with my rib. It was two weeks before I acknowledged that the pain was severe enough to visit a doctor and have an x-ray. And the rib healed in three months. What's that about things happening "in threes"?!

1 year ago, I was scrambling to have my husband's Father's Day gift, a 200 sq. foot shed, completed in the backyard.

So far this year I have talked with four general contractors about our 1,000 sq. foot home addition.

Yesterday, I took my husband's car in for service and detailing.

Today, I finished a Precepts Bible Study on Revelation

Tomorrow, I will do as little as possible.

In the next year, I hope to have a new baby.

In the next minute, I will read some more blogs.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

"Get up on the sidewalk!"

That's always what I tell my kids when I unload them from the car outside of a store. Get up on the sidewalk, where it's safe. And I tell them to stand in front of my car because I know that my car isn't going anywhere.

But they don't always listen. They may run up and down the sidewalk as I unload the baby into his stroller. So, last week, in town, putting the mail on hold, getting them out of the car outside the post office, I noticed that the outdoor mailbox was dented and the front bolts were ripped from the concrete. Did some hoodlums try to steal the mailbox?

It wasn't until I entered the post office and turned round, looking through the large front window, that I saw the damage to the woman's car. Her left, front headlight was completely smashed. A police car was nearby. Not entirely unusual for a police car to be nearby because they eat their lunch at the pizzeria, Versuvios. But it wasn't lunchtime.

The postal clerk explained to me that the woman drove her Lexus SUV right up onto the sidewalk and smashed the mailbox. On two other occasions, drivers have taken their cars right through the front glass window. And the business next door, a copy shop, has also had its front window smashed by a careless driver.

It looked like a new car. Not one of those runt Lexus SUVs. It was a big, honkin' LX 470. And the "70" portion of the model number refers to the price tag, in thousands! Too much Prozac for this "Pleasant Valley Mom"! Oi gevalt!
Traveling with young children always gives routine experiences a new angle. Take baggage claim.

As I waited on the sidelines with my boys, watching Jeff wait for the suitcases, Kenny asked me the 5 W's and H of luggage retrieval. His concern centered around unclaimed items. I recalled the locked Plexiglas display cabinets at Newark Liberty Airport and explained in hopeful terms that everything is reunited eventually.

"And what if our suitcases don't come out?" His question became more relevant as more and more time elapsed and as the baggage claim area of the small Tampa airport cleared out.

Soon the carousel stopped turning and the lights went off. Only a few pieces of luggage lay on the belt. Neither of our suitcases had materialized. I teased the children, "Now, on the plane, I had told you to watch and make sure that they load our luggage. SomeBODY wasn't doing their job." They didn't understand my ironic and fake chide so they didn't take it personally. 'Though trying to make light of our missing luggage, of course, I was concerned. A little. Real, genuine concern was Jeff's job. And he takes his jobs seriously.

I took the children to see a large fish tank while he registered our address with the airport personnel. They thought that the luggage may come down on the 4pm flight. But, frankly, they didn't know where our bags were. Isn't that odd in this day of package tracking and delivery confirmation? The information must be somewhere but the system may be either too slow or too restricted for anyone in the field to reference.

All in all, we had enough to carry without the extra, heavy suitcases! If possible, it was a blessing (almost!) to have the airport deliver them to us at our destination. Not everyone was as lucky. Jeff observed a woman with Carnival Cruise Line tickets in hand at the baggage claim counter looking for her delayed luggage. How would her bags catch up with her at sea?!

The promise was 8pm. Fine, at least they located the suitcases. Then the promise was 2:30am. Alright, the kids can sleep in their sweatpants for one night. Fine. And, I had a day's worth of clothes on hand for them anyway, just in case. Then, the promise was 10am. And they kept that promise. The suitcases were delivered 20 hours after our flight arrived. It didn't impact our plans at all. We went to Manatee Springs State Park that afternoon and swam in the spring and had a great little vacation. More on that later.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

I slipped about my theology degree within earshot of my son's preschool teacher yesterday.

An aide who attends the same church asked me whether my older boy would attend CCD in the Fall. And I told my outrage story about how I wanted to homeschool him his religious ed. because I am eminently qualified and experienced, yadda, yadda, yadda, spouting about my degree. His teacher perked right up.

And this evening at the school's art show, she offered me Elaine Pagels's Gnostic Gospels book. Her book was always one that I wanted to pick up but I hesitated because she has so many harsh critics. I trust that they know better than I about her reputation as a scholar. Then again, she's at Princeton, so she must have something going for her. Every TV program on the New Testament seems to interview her.

I'm not really interested in gnosticism anyway, not even now. It's enough that I came to recognize that I was one, even while professing orthodoxy. Maybe reading this book, I'll discover that I'm even more of one than I knew before.

My son's teacher said that the book is dense, in a scholarly sense, and while she finds what she can decipher interesting, it's a struggle for her to decode the theological language. She was frustrated that the book couldn't have been written in "laymen's terms" (her own choice of words). Well, some books are but then they are frustrating at the other end, as being too simplistic. I'll give her book a look and see whether I can figure why everyone makes her out as a heretic.

In my experience, most readers can't distinguish between an author sharing professional theory and personal belief. People tend to take one for the other or think that an author believes personally in their own theories.

Case in point: a lecture two summers ago with Fr. Jerome Murphy-O'Connor (I guess he hasn't died yet; I know he was very sick around Christmas time) in which the Dominican priest posited that the Apostle Paul was unclear about Christ's divinity, judging from the christology of his genuine letters. Well, immediately, several people in his audience demanded clarification, and the questions came like this, "Wait, are you telling me that YOU don't believe that Jesus was divine?!" Craziness. Plenty of fundamentalist Catholics, right?

Anyway, I got to give Elaine Pagels a hearing, I s'pose. And learn to keep my mouth shut about my theological training.
Cardinal McCarrick resigns; successor named

I thought that McCarrick was alright but probably because he was from around here.

create your own visited states map

Monday, May 15, 2006

The principal at my sons' school left today, a full month before the end of the school year. The circumstances are cloudy and the parent corporation cites "confidentiality" through their tight lips. The principal isn't talking either, at least not to me.

She was NJ blue blood; I can see her mansion from the end of my street. Originally from Bergen County, servants in the house, etc., etc. I don't need a blue blood to run my kids' school but she was gracious and kind and you knew that with her privileged position, she could have done just about anything with her life and chose to dedicate herself to elementary school education. That tells you that it was from her heart. I also knew that she had been there for ten years so I expected that she would leave sooner or later.

I learned a long time ago that you can't settle on anything because of the people. People come and go. At my son's daycare four years ago, I really liked the director. Within three weeks of him starting there, she left for greater things and it took six months to fill her position. When they did, it was with a woman who was three months pregnant and would take a maternity leave in three months for nine months. That daycare eventually closed a year later. Mismanaged.

Two years ago, the assistant principal left when her son graduated eighth grade. That's a trend with the teachers at the school: they leave when their children complete the program. It's not a healthy trend, in my opinion. It's selfish ... or something worse. The assistant principal position wasn't backfilled and I thought it should have been. An "academic coordinator" was added before the assistant principal left but I still didn't feel that he filled her position. His focus seemed to be on something else. And he struck me as a "corporate man". For some reason, the principal worked with him and worked well with him. Maybe because he's a man in a school of mostly women, I just don't trust him. And his English is not good at all. But all of the other mothers adore him and trust him implicitly. I never have.

Tonight some big wigs from corporate held a discussion session. Parents focused on demanding to know why the principal left. No one from corporate wanted to discuss that. The threats came back, "If we are doing wrong by you parents, then put your children somewhere else!" knowing full well that it's too late even to get our kids into public school for the Fall! Most of us have already given them our nonrefundable deposits for the Fall.

Most of the parents are amazingly successful people professionally. But I couldn't believe the nastiness on both sides. I realize this is Jersey and most of these people are from Brooklyn and Queens and you don't f*** with them or their kids or their money. But I would also think that "time is money" to them and they would welcome a productive meeting. Their biggest gripe is that communication from corporate is poor. I agree with that. But here's an instance where corporate was trying to communicate something to us, albeit as if we were children ourselves ... that's probably an occupational hazard with teachers that they tend to talk down to just about everyone ... and no one wanted to listen. There was a patronizing attitude on the part of one of the speakers, for sure. I've never felt that I was getting my money's worth with this school, but do you ever get your money's worth with anything? Really, isn't everything at a premium?

I don't know anything about education, of course. I taught CCD for ten years. I noticed that the curriculum changed after the new catechism was published. I mean, we were forced by the publisher to purchase new textbooks because of the changes. Scripture was out and the Catechism was in. (I was furious.) We couldn't get the old editions of the textbooks anymore. And the strategy was to introduce the same doctrinal concepts year after year after year but just at greater depth each year. Instead of teachings particular topics in certain years and never teaching them again or merely building upon them. This seems to be the approach in academic teaching as well, a spiral instead of a vertical approach. Well, heck, it's just a theory, like a software development lifecycle. There are pros and cons. There's no one-size-fits-all.

And we came back to the call to offer algebra in the eighth grade. Now, my rural public school with a graduating class of about 90 students, offered select eighth graders algebra. I took it. For that reason, I don't understand base numbers because, skipping eighth grade math for ninth grade algebra, I wasn't taught base numbers. Kind of important when dealing with computers to understand base numbers. But anyway. And I ended up taking a year off math in high school anyway so I got caught up and didn't do any AP math. I just wanted to get more language, French and Spanish one year.

so, my point is that if my country bumpkin high school could offer algebra in the eighth grade ... but that's the rub ... our junior high school was on the same campus as the high school. So, the high school math teacher taught us junior high school students ninth grade math. We had access to a teacher who could teach algebra. These elementary schools don't want to staff a teacher who can teach algebra for the sake of two or three students.

Anyway, tonight, corporate said that they are committed to a middle school, to grades 4-8. It doesn't sound like it. The fifth graders haven't had textbooks all year long! There was no science program this year since the science teacher was out sick from September and then died at Christmas time. (Sad, but true!) There is no library in the school and no decent music program. No one complained about the Spanish program because everyone loves the Spanish teachers and many of the students speak Spanish at home, so there's really no challenge there for them. But, I wonder how good the Spanish program is. I never see any work coming home from it. Two years ago, my Kenny knew his numbers to 20 and a dozen colors. This year, my little Timmy knows 1-3 and a few colors. Not very impressive.

And, one of the speakers emphasized a 0-5 curriculum which concerned me. A couple of years ago, they tried to attract children as young as six weeks old into the school! They haven't the facilities for that, actually. Now, in many of their markets across the country, it may well be that both parents work. But here, most of the moms don't work. that may sound backwards to most people. You would expect urban/suburban mothers to work. Oh, and many do from their home, I suppose. But also, families tend to be smaller here (although that's not completely true either) so there isn't much call for early care. But it sounds as if they want to get out of the middle school business and get into the daycare business. I don't like the sound of that. I mean, I acknowledge that 0-5 are very crucial years and countries like France may be way ahead of us on this, but I don't want to institutionalize my children.

I am willing to give the school another year. I say that every year. I am told that the middle grades are very bad, academically. So, I need to be looking for my older boy either next year or the year after for another school. When he's older, I won't mind driving 30 minutes to get him to school, but it's hard to drive so far when he's so young. I don't want his memory of school to be driving in the car. Then again, this is NJ; we drive everywhere!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mother's Day Haul

Thin, paperback books by Dave Armstrong, Mark Shea, former evangelicals who became Catholic. I'm not really into apologetics anymore but I feel obligated to at least know what these guys arguments are.

A Faith Interrupted about alienated Catholics from Loyola Press.

Deepening Communion, edited by Jeffrey Gros, of all people, published by the USCCB, in which I may find an answer to michele's ecumenism and Trent anathemas questions. Gros is one of the premier Catholic ecumenists.

And Understanding Dispensationalists by Poythress, to make michele happy, no, really in anticipation of this Fall's study of the Book of Revelation at her church. I have been studying Revelation at a Christian & Missionary Alliance church, using a Kay Arthur study, and I understand their approach to Scripture a little better.

All from my secret Amazon Wish List.

And, a new digital camera, a Nikon Coolpix P4. It's very small. Three years ago, Jeff bought me a digital camera, the Canon Powershot G2, and I had so much trouble figuring it out. This one is very similar, so I know how to use it. Fortunately, he also got me a larger memory card because the stock card holds eight pictures. Sad.

Kenny drew up a short scavenger hunt for me this morning, starting in the family room, going to the toy box in the dining room and ending in their bedrooms with my gifts on their twin beds. It was very cute how he wrote out the directions and drew the pictures. I'll have to keep those, too.

Today is also my birthday, so I probably got twice as many gifts as usual.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

For about a year, I've used as my signature one of Michael Palin's lines, "I'm 37 -- I'm not old!" from Holy Grail. But, starting tomorrow, I won't be able to use that line anymore, I mean, and have it relate to me personally. No, starting tomorrow, I'm officially old.

Which, if you do the math, means that I'm due for a 20-year high school reunion this summer. I haven't heard anything about it. I hope the class president is working on it.

And means that my kids think that Mother's Day always coincides with their mother's birthday! Two for the price of one this year.
A quiz similar to a previous one:

What Kind of Catholic Are You?
You are a neo-traditionalist Catholic

Vatican II was just fine, as far as you're concerned--but you wish church liberals would stop pushing for still more changes. Your favorite hymn is "Gift of Finest Wheat," your favorite pope is John Paul II, and you think Mel Gibson makes some good points about religion and family.
Eh, not quite.

There's another quiz at beliefnet that I need to post on ... soon.

Train Trio ... heads down, train time!

I laid out this track but got stuck in spots. The five-year-old fixed it.

Friday, May 12, 2006

You scored as NASB - New American Standard Bible.

NASB was my first Bible. I bought the wrong version!

I knew our Bible had the words "new" and "American" in the title but I got slipped up on "standard". I wasn't shopping at a Catholic bookstore and didn't even know there were such distinctions.

So, my memory verses are all from the NASB: Romans 12 (the whole chapter), Is. 55:11, John 3:16 und so weiter.

NWT is the JW translation ... I've never even seen a copy. We use CEV with children, no idea why. NRSV has inclusive language that ESV seeks to undo. NRSV also has the inclusive canon, so we use it.

As I was taking this test, I was muttering, "I'm gonna come up King James ... I'm gonna come up King James." NASB is close enough!

NASB - New American Standard Bible


NWT - New World Translation


CEV - Contemporary English Version


NRSV - New Revised Standard Version


KJV - King James Version


What version of the Bible are you?
via Fick&Oz Show
I think this is a cute video, from kelli:

New Mercies Every Day: So funny!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

WNBC 4 NY video news story: Students Head North of Border to Drink Legally:
Many students from the tri-state area enrolled at colleges near Canada cross the border to take advantage of a lower drinking age.

This story has some validity because, as an undergraduate at SUNY Buffalo, I went to a Canadian bar to drink once. I can't remember who drove, probably Gracie. And, being from LI, she wanted to visit Canada. So, we went only for the thrill of it and, having been to Canada many times myself, it wasn't very exciting.

The year before, the French Club's spring trip to Quebec ... well, I was old enough to drink on that trip, and some sophomores gave me a hard time for not buying alcohol for them. They thought I was hungover most of the time and they were jealous. (Silly) But I was suffering from severe allergies ... like I am right now. I looked like hell and felt too awful to drink.

So, except for the thrill of visiting another country, I see no reason to drive so far for drink especially when Buffalo-area liquor stores deliver booze to campus and don't give a damn about checking ID cards.

The suggestion given in the video to drop the drinking age is insane. A better suggestion is to limit students' access to transportation. And catch up with liquor stores that deliver to underage students.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Dinner out with other mothers from my sons' school last night, a near-repeat of last spring's "ladies' night out".

The same woman was selling handmade jewelry. I didn't buy any because I dropped $100 her way last year and figured that generosity covered me for this year too. My scrupulous boycott of her merchandise impacted her very little, if at all. Plenty of women were buying, checkbooks came out when the cash was spent.

A second woman was selling handbags, Coach, Chanel and Prada. One buyer couldn't decide between the white Chanel and the white Prada. Her friend suggested she take both and she did.

Another, an acquaintance, commented that she shouldn't bother with the imitations now that she can afford the real thing. That's when I got it: these handbags were fakes. She laughed at my naïveté, "Well, sure, for these prices, whaddja think?" I never saw any pricetags. I priced Coach bags at Macy's in the mall recently to see what all the fuss was. They run about $300.

I got a glimpse of how different I am from these other mothers. It's just a fact, there's no virtue in it because I'm not putting it on any more than they are.

We're all about the same age. I like not being the oldest or the youngest. They are neither excessively doting nor supermoms. They have lives apart from their kids. They are healthy in that respect. But I was shocked by their accessories and trappings, not just in what they brought with them to dinner but in what they picked up during the course of the evening. And how casually they dropped hundreds of dollars.

For my own reasons, I didn't drink any wine. One woman got completely drunk, drinking the better part of a bottle of Merlot by herself. She became more than a little belligerent during some conversations. I was sure that someone took her home rather than for her to drive herself.

Most diners hardly touched their food. I cleaned my plate with each course, but the entrée was inedible. Veal parm that tasted like uncooked hamburger. Fearing food poisoning, I ate the cheese off the top. I don't drink coffee.**

There was a palm reader in the room. I didn't sit at his small table for a reading. Like last year others urged me to do so. My creative answer to them: "Look, I already know that I am fortunate."

One pushed harder: "Good Catholic, huh?" Our reputation precedes us.

She continued, "Yeah, I was brought up Catholic. My mother was so strict, we never had an ouija board in the house. We received one as a gift once and she burned it. At 17 when I left home, I bought myself one. Never used it, but I still have it." My mother was the same way about ouija boards. We never had soda pop in the house either. After my father left, we never had beer. We never ate at McDonald's.

The lady next to me declined a palm reading too and cited being a "bad Catholic, but a Catholic just the same" as her reason.

Another said, "Aw, it's just for entertainment purposes. It's like going to the movies."

Well, I don't go to the movies either.

"Oh, is that another Catholic thing?"

No, I just don't find the movies entertaining.

I'm not sure why these women are so insecure that they need a total stranger to tell them good things about themselves. Don't they have people in their lives to do that?

The snare that I couldn't avoid was the door prizes. One was a nice necklace. I didn't win that. One was a boobie prize of sex toys. I didn't win that. The last one was a girl's small, pink Chanel handbag, one of the fakes. I DID win that.

"Oh," I said, "I won something illegal."

The bad Catholic next to me said, "Well, return it if you have a problem with it."

I did have a problem with it but immediately thought of someone I could give it to.

Someone who wouldn't care that it was fake. Someone who wouldn't have a problem with it. Someone who at that very moment was looking over the seller's other merchandise for little girls.

This someone, originally from Mexico, persuaded her visiting cousin to sit for the palm reader even though her cousin didn't want to. Welcome to America, the Christian nation. And I'm funding a Protestant missionary trip to Mexico?! Kyrie eleison.

** Coffee first entered Europe through Venice in the 16th century, imported from Turkey, where it had been taken as a drink spiced with clove, cinnamon, cardamom and anise. At this point, coffee's expansion throughout the world fell into jeopardy when many priests demanded for it to be banned as a heretical drink, because of its strong links with the Islamic World. However, upon tasting coffee, Pope Clement VIII proclaimed that God blessed and approved of coffee. History of Coffee

The introduction of coffee in Europe from Muslim Turkey also prompted calls for it to be banned as the Devil's work, however Pope Clement VIII sanctioned its use, declaring that it was "so delicious that it would be a pity to let the infidels have exclusive use of it". Prohibition (drugs) -- Wiki

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

I promised more Greeley:

Others will watch with mild interest when the white smoke rises above the Sistine Chapel. Still others will be deeply concerned about the outcome -- either because it will confirm that the Second Vatican Council has been relegated to the trash can of history or because it will show that the spirit of the council may still be alive. page 121

How could so many Catholics adore John Paul II and yet ignore the things he taught? I suspect the answer is that these people distinguish not with any serious reflection but intuitively and distinctively between the symbolic value of the Pope and what the Pope teaches. They cheer the first and don't hear the second because they don't want to hear it. They adore the singer and don't hear the song. If they couldn't hear it from John Paul II, how are they going to hear it from anybody else? page 126

... suggested to me some time ago that when Catholic people cheer for the Pope, they're cheering for themselves. This sounds strange until one realizes that the Pope is a sacrament of the Church, the Pope stands for the Church, the Pope reveals the Church. And laypeople are the Church. Or, to put it in a little less complicated fashion: because Catholics are a sacramental community, a community in which the symbols and signs are extremely important, the personality of the Pope is something you can cheer enthusiastically because you're cheering for what he represents. That is the long Catholic tradition. But you're not necessarily cheering for his particular interpretations of the tradition. If you're inside the Church, [the] theory is easy enough to comprehend. If you're outside, it makes no sense at all. How can you adore, worship, demonstrate for, flock to the wake of your religious leader if on certain fundamental issues you do not agree with him? In part, of course, it's because of the man the Pope was. page 127

There's more. I'll probably quote more from his The Making of the Pope (2005). I haven't read much by Greeley, just some of his sociology and that's all numbers and statistics. I knew he is a novelist but I don't care for romance novels, so I never read any of those from him. This Pope-watcher book, then, is the first real prose of his that I've read and, well, he's a good writer. So I'm not surprised now that his novels sell. Next time I'll find some excerpts that show better his skill.
We praise you with greater joy than ever in this Easter season, when Christ became our paschal sacrifice.

In him a new age has dawned,
the long reign of sin is ended,
a broken world has been renewed,
and man is once again made whole.

The joy of the resurrection renews the whole world,
while the choirs of heaven sing for ever to your glory:

Holy, holy, holy Lord ...

Preface to the Eucharistic Prayer, Easter IV
though your people walk in the valley of darkness,
no evil should they fear;
for they follow in faith the call of the shepherd
whom you have sent for their hope and strength.

Attune our minds to the sound of his voice,
lead our steps in the path he has shown,
that we may know the strength of his outstretched arm and enjoy the light of your presence for ever.

We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord

Opening Prayer, Fourth Sunday of Easter

Monday, May 08, 2006

New documentary makes case for "The Saint of 9/11"
Some of these hit close to home, from The Catholic Nerd Blog by way of Happy Catholic: can rattle off the times for every Sunday and Daily Mass in town.

... you feel guilty for missing daily Mass.

… your most common phrase at parties starts with “Well, the Catholic Catechism says …”

... your dress shoes are all scuffed on the top of the toes from kneeling at church.

... somebody tells you they want to be a saint and you take them seriously.

... you dress to match the liturgical season

... you pick dates for significant events by looking up feast days.

... you know which Eucharistic prayer is being used in 5 words or less.

... you know the words to Tantum Ergo, Salve Regina, Ave Maria, Agnus Dei

... you remember the names of the apostles by going through your brothers

... you still sing "saved a wretch like me" and other un-PC lyrics -- if you are actually singing, you already knew you are an odd Catholic.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

I don't like to get political but ED, the other ED, "eminent domain" ... what were you thinking? ... gets me mad.

And then, editorials like this that lack any sarcastic flair. Is "The State of Eminent Domain" the best license plate tagline he could concoct (end of second paragraph)? He probably wore those "Drunken State University" t-shirts in college and thought them clever.

Has it been uttered before, "Shore to Seize"? Tell me.

No lie, we looked at these condos a few years ago but the prices quickly got out of reach. Then, when I learned where the land had come from ... fuggettaboutit. No thank you.
This sad news from my high school friend, Michelle, on the blog for the Miracle Garden Tsunami Children's Home, run by her and her husband.

Please pray.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

We all went to Jenkinson's Boardwalk in Point Pleasant for the birthday party but we drove separately.

It was my first time there, to Jenkinson's, but Jeff had taken the older boys for the first time late last year, on October 1st, on their final open weekend. And Kenny's January field trip took him to Jenkinson's Aquarium. I am familiar with the area because I took a bible study at the Franciscan parish of St. Peter's. I love shore towns.

Both boys received a packet of twelve tickets, each one good for a ride.

Kenny fell in with a friend, a classmate, and Timmy went around with Daddy. We rode carnival type rides for about an hour until pizza and cake were served at Little Mac's at 1 PM. Then, at two, we walked down the boardwalk to the Aquarium. The boardwalk is packed with carnival type games and prizes and shops selling ice cream and other carnival type food. It's like Atlantic City without the casinos!

The Aquarium is absolutely wonderful!

Not too big, just a big room downstairs and a big room upstairs. But, what a selection of animals! Big, clear tanks and a comfortable atmosphere. The dock-like decorations reminded me of the Gulf, of Cedar Key in Florida. The tank's windows were at the right level for the (nearly 3' tall) baby to peer in without straining. He backed away a little when a shark swam right towards him! Maybe he thought it was just a big TV!

There were touch tanks upstairs but I don't know whether my kids touched anything. Tim got separated from us at one point while we were upstairs. I looked over the railing into the lower level and saw him with another family, talking to them and pointing at a tank. I called over to him, telling him to come back upstairs, but I only confused him because he couldn't locate me. And then I saw Jeff reach him. My kids don't have that natural fear of the world. That's how I like it ... but it makes ME crazy!

After an hour in the Aquarium, we walked back to the carnival rides.

There was some disappointment over the bumper cars because neither boy was tall enough. And lots of crying. But then Jeff spotted a kiddie version of bumper cars and both kids rode. Kenny rode three times! Tim did alright, driving and controlling his car. He enjoyed bumping people. The cars were themed "cat" and "mouse", very cute. Then, I took Tim and the baby home and Kenny and Jeff stayed for another hour to use up all of the tickets. Some party guests left after pizza and cake without seeing the Aquarium. It had been a field trip for this class of friends, so that may be why some people skipped, thinking their children had already seen it. But, imagine the expense for the hosting parents for the tickets not to be used!

Jeff said that he and Kenny were the last ones from the party to leave. He even saw the birthday girl go home!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Book Meme
From Happy Catholic:

  1. Grab the nearest book.

  2. Open it to page 161.

  3. Find the fifth sentence.

  4. Post the text of the sentence in the comments.

  5. Don’t search around and look for the coolest book you can find. Do what’s actually next to you.

"If his (Cardinal Martini) speech yesterday, 'intervention' as they call it, was as powerful and dramatic as it sounds, then he's a candidate whether he likes it or not."

Fr. Andrew Greeley, The Making of the Pope (2005). Martini, a fellow Jesuit, was probably Greeley's choice. I wanted him also. Greeley contrasts, mostly contrasts, Martini and Ratzinger in this section of the book. Martini looks better in comparison but then Greeley wrote "Not a 'Panzer Pope' After All" a year later.

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In either late '90 or early '91, my mentor took me to hear Father Andrew Greeley speak at the Marianist University of Dayton.

I don't remember anything he said but I remember liking parts of it. More about Greeley in another post. I had no idea, at the time, of the Who's Who of Catholic intellectuals or of the liberal - conservative tensions that plague the post-conciliar church.

My mentor who was in her 60's even then was a mixture of past and present: praying the rosary and studying the Bible.

Her adult son was a nurse on the border with Mexico and one day sent home to her a Mexican teenager. The runaway lived with her in Centerville for several months, learning English and going to school and working. I don't know what's become of him. She probably helped him get his papers. These days she would be arrested and jailed for "welcoming the stranger".

I loaned the boy a glossy, white New Testament in Spanish that I had gotten in Puerto Vallarta only a little while before, but he couldn't even read Spanish. And he found the book itself, so obviously suited to a female first communicant or confirmand, inappropriate and even insulting. My first lesson in how insensitive is the adage "beggars can't be choosers."

The kids are dancing to La Bamba in the living room right now.

Happy Cinco de Mayo.

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You are Chalcedon compliant. Congratulations, you're not a heretic. You believe that Jesus is truly God and truly man and like us in every respect, apart from sin. Officially approved in 451.

Chalcedon ....................................100%

Are you a heretic?

** 50% on Pelagianism makes me a Semi-Pelagian? Kidding!

"This teaching is distinct from the traditional patristic doctrine of synergeia, that the process of salvation is cooperation between God and man from start to finish." -- Wiki

Fick & Oz podcast

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The Holmdel building --

Coming Down!

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The news out of Rumson:

Priest admits using funds from church for luxuries

Thursday, May 04, 2006

At the risk of sounding cynical ...

I'll confess that I suspect some gossip has ensued. Or I felt setup. Not in a premeditated way: she took an opportunity and wasted no time.

Reading "So What's the Difference?" ... never heard of it ... comparative religion ... monotheism and the branches of Christianity ... whispering ... are, um, none of you are Catholic, are you?

Did she look full in my direction when she asked? Really not anonymous anymore.

Where in the Bible does it say that we need priests to act as intercessors?

She suggests the special Peter material in Matthew and the rehabilitation material in John 21 as possible scriptural foundations for a papacy. Then she paraphrases Ridenour's book that Peter never served in such a leadership role. If she bothered to check, Fr. Raymond Brown, SS, offers a similar disclaimer *(see note below) ... requiescat in pace.

I wasn't in the mood to explain or defend, so I let her talk. When she asked me if there was a reason for a priesthood in Catholicism, I said, "Yes, there probably is" and then I talked about something else.

But not something else entirely. Something related. At least I think it's related. And it's this:

Whenever a Christian group wants to discredit another Christian group, the charge of innovation is leveled. The Orthodox accuse the Western Church of innovation. The Reformation sought to leave off the innovations of the medieval Church and return to the Scriptures. The Orthodox priest will tell you that they haven't changed since the 5th century** ... you look at them and you believe it!

But I am comfortable with development. The thinking of previous generations fuels our understanding. The Renaissance gave the Reformers historical perspective by which to lay hold of an even earlier period.

I was thinking "progress" but I didn't dare say "progress".

The woman who asked said she loved the old hymns but can now appreciate more contemporary worship music. I hadn't in mind this type of development, but at least she was trying to relate my words to her own experience.

No doubt, she has more issues with Catholicism that she would like to discuss. Maybe she will some other time.

* actually, Fr. Brown's words are more nuanced than I suggest from his Introduction to the New Testament, page 221-222: "this Petrine passage can be set alongside Luke 22:31-32 and John 21:15-17 as evidence that in the Gospels written in the last third of the 1st century, after Peter's death, he was remembered as a figure whom Jesus had assigned a special role in support of other Christians. This NT evidence is a manifestation of what many theologians call the Petrine function in the ongoing church. Obviously it was a major step from that NT picture to the contention appearing later in history that the bishop of Rome is successor to Peter. That development would have been facilitated by various factors [...] Christians today are divided, mostly along denominational lines, on whether the development of the papacy should be considered as God's plan for the church; but given the NT evidence pertinent to the growth of the image of Peter, it is not easy for those who reject the papacy to portray the concept of a successor to Peter as contradictory to the NT."

** I exaggerated. I don't know how well my listeners know history ... I'm not even sure they are familiar with Orthodox Christianity (a beautiful Wiki page, btw)!

Some Mac Propaganda ... Lordamercy!!! Funny to us Mac users:

Mac TV Ads

For heaven's sake, watch 'em with Apple's QuickTime!!!

Hey, is the geek Gates? And the other guy, a young Jobs?

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China ordains two bishops without pope's approval, draws Vatican ire
The spokesman said the Vatican had an obligation to speak out on behalf of suffering Chinese Catholics ... The layman said public security officers had already tightened control on underground Catholics and "warned Catholics not to create trouble."

Such a complicated situation.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Two years ago at a Bible study, a discussion took place for which the impetus was thus:

The celebration of a funeral mass at my parish attended by several people from the Bible study.

I did not attend. I move in different circles than my Bible study peers and, so frankly, I was utterly unaware of the event. In order for me to understand the discussion, background was given by those who attended.

My recall may be confused but I think the death was a suicide. A young person, even a teenager. There was a bit of that going around at the time, sad to say.

The pastor, my Fr. V., was strictly "by the book". The only problem: there was no telling which book! I remember being astounded that Fr. V. held a funeral mass for a suicide.

The concern of those who attended such a sad celebration was over the reception of communion. Fr. V. may have made an announcement to the effect that only Catholics free from an awareness of mortal sin could receive.

Whether he did or he didn't utter such an instruction, one of the ladies got the impression that she was not welcome to the table.

To us, after the fact, she begged that Fr. V. open things up to give mourners the spiritual comfort of holy communion. The accusation was posed:

Why can't the Catholic Church be inviting around the Lord's Table like the Protestant churches are?

My thoughts on that question follow below. These are my own generalizations, developed from experience and reading.

The two Wiki articles at the end, I think, give credence to my impressions.

There are exceptions ... the UCC comes to mind ... I hope to heaven there are many more exceptions.

And church discipline on the Supper works both ways. I understand that: a church may welcome me but my own church prevents me. I'm not talking about this side of things, as important as it is.

The trendy conservative movement in American Protestantism only affirms my statements, more and more and more ...

I want to challenge the myth that “closed communion” is a practice peculiar to the Catholic Church.

By “closed communion”, I do not mean that nonbelievers, unbaptized Christians, unrepentant Christians and infants and young children (paedocommunion) are routinely excluded from the Lord’s Table. It is true that most Christian churches observe some restrictions, even against members of their own congregations: infants, children – the Orthodox Churches are the exception here - unrepentant Christians. Even a church which practices “open communion” would be unlikely to admit to the Table those individuals belonging to the above categories.

Nor do I mean “closed” in the sense that only members of the local, specific congregation are welcome at the Table. Very few Christian churches practice such an extreme, not even the Catholic Church.

Rather, I mean “closed” in the sense that only like-minded, baptized Christians are invited to partake. And let me add that it is Pollyannaish to think that an implicit unity exists among Protestant Christians and that all Protestant Christians are essentially “like-minded” in their diverse creeds. Any lip service paid to Protestant Christian unity rapidly evaporates once one “gets under the hood”, as it were, and investigates the doctrinal disputes among Protestants.

The differences in communion discipline are only in degree, then. While many Protestant churches extend a welcome to the occasional stranger, guest or “friend of a friend”, few pastors would allow habitual strangers to come to the Table without some scrutiny of their faith and their beliefs about Christ and about His Church, a scrutiny performed privately.

Protestant churches soften the blow of their “closed communion” practices by reducing the occasions for the question to crop up: monthly or quarterly communion services and the use of children’s church or the nursery obscures the potentially offensive impact of restricted communion. And, by welcoming the stranger and guest, they give the air of being an inviting community but, in practice, the gracious welcome wears thin over time, and “seekers” are expected to become “joiners” and “loyally committed”.

There are exceptions. I can name one: my unbaptized Baptist friend attends an LCMS church with his ex-Catholic wife. He persuaded the pastor to allow him to receive communion even though the pastor initially tried to convince him to accept baptism. At this stage in his life, my friend thinks baptism somewhat superfluous (he accepted Christ at the age of 3). Any rite but full immersion would be unacceptable. The prospect of bending over a font for a head dousing would be an embarrassment.

Another, more famous exception: in his autobiography, Living Faith, Jimmy Carter admits to the occasional reception of the eucharist at Catholic masses (page 23) while serving in the navy. He attended whichever service fit his schedule.

Therefore, save for the United Methodist Church, all conservative, bible-believing and hierarchical churches and many congregational churches (Baptists, especially) expect communicants to be committed members of their local church or members in good standing in another church with like beliefs. This is “closed communion” and it is not unique to the Catholic Church.

It is good that we are offended by “closed communion” - we must all work towards the unity that would make genuine communion a reality. But, let’s not single out the Catholic Church as the sole proponent of “closed communion” because she is not alone in this discipline.

For definitions and denominational details of who practices what:
Open Communion -- Wiki
Closed Communion -- Wiki

New Jersey vs. N.Y. Rangers
Game 1: Devils 6, Rangers 1
Game 2: Devils 4, Rangers 1
Game 3: Devils 3, Rangers 0
Game 4: Devils 4, Rangers 2
Devils win series, 4-0

Buffalo vs. Philadelphia
Game 1: Sabres 3, Flyers 2 (2OT)
Game 2: Sabres 8, Flyers 2
Game 3: Flyers 4, Sabres 2
Game 4: Flyers 5, Sabres 4
Game 5: Sabres 3, Flyers 0
Game 6: Sabres 7, Flyers 1 <------------- WOW!
Sabres win Series, 4-2
I used to think that anyone and everyone should read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, whether or not they be Catholic.

I don't think this way anymore.

CCC paragraph 1263 is cited in support of the opinion that "a Roman Catholic would tell you that baptism saves."

On the one hand, I'm left asking "Why would a Church administer insignificant actions on behalf of one of its own?"

IOW, what's the point of performing an action, any action, that does not advance one closer to the kingdom of heaven? We shouldn't waste our resources on anything less.

But also, if Catholics believe that baptism saves, then why the other sacraments? Why reconciliation? Why holy communion? Why weekly or daily worship services?

Because baptism is a beginning to the journey.

The Catechism is largely aimed at the Church's teachers and leaders: cardinals, bishops, priests and deacons. Of course, the laity may read. We all own copies. I have three copies. It's available online.

But we are at risk of drawing incomplete or distorted conclusions. My recent posting on Catholic eschatology quoted a few paragraphs from the Catechism. Is my posting a perfect reflection of Church teaching on the End Times especially because I quoted the Catechism verbatim? I doubt it. I might have missed a paragraph tucked away someplace. I would love for someone to help me do better.

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

And I approach with a desire for knowing the truth, as a daughter of the Church, with a humble and teachable spirit. Imagine one who reads with a hostile spirit, with the intention of finding fault, denouncing or ridiculing? There's an even greater potential for misunderstanding.

Better than reading the Catechism, then, is reading the prayers of the Church.

Catholic theology is clearly expressed -- quite literally in laymen's terms -- in our prayers and rites.

Attend a celebration of baptism in a Catholic Church and listen to the prayers of the rite. Listen to the promises made, both to the child and to the church.

And listen especially for these instructions:
"Receive this white garment, which mayest thou carry without stain before the judgment seat of Our Lord Jesus Christ, that thou mayest have eternal life. Amen. ... Receive this burning light, and keep thy baptism so as to be without blame. Observe the commandments of God; that, when Our Lord shall come to His nuptials, thou mayest meet Him together with all the Saints and mayest have life everlasting, and live for ever and ever. Amen."

Since the Bible studies are winding down for the year, it was suggested that the members pitch in items towards a themed basket for a silent auction to raise money for missions activity in Mexico this summer.

Now, I'm not a member of this particular church which hosts the Bible study and, this year more than ever, the chasm between our respective theological perspectives was made abundantly evident to me. And, to Mexico, of all places! I mean, Our Lady of Guadeloupe and everything! How could I support this?!

The follow-up email from the lady who suggested the project explained some details of the trip: teenagers from the church to Tijuana to build houses for people living in a landfill.

Um, ok, how could I NOT support this?! And let the chips fall where they may?

Señor mío Jesucristo, Dios y Hombre verdadero, Creador y Redentor mío, por ser vos quien sois, y porque os amo sobre todas las cosas, me pesa de todo corazón haberos ofendido. Propongo enmendarme y confesarme a su tiempo y ofrezco cuanto hiciere en satisfacción de mis pecados, y confío en vuestra bondad y misericordia infinita, que me perdonéis y me des gracia para nunca mas pecar. Así lo espero por intercesión de mi Madre, nuestra Señora la Virgen de Guadalupe. Amén.
The repair shop replaced the DVD player yesterday with a new one. I didn't bother to ask what was wrong with the old one because they probably don't know. Nobody tries fixing things anymore. They had a new one in stock, so put it in.

The DVD player was a "freebie" in the first place, if there really is such a thing in car purchases. But six months ago, the dealer-installed DVD player stopped working. So they replaced it and it took a couple of tries but they finally got it working. Then, the car goes in for 30,000 mile service last week and, bam, the DVD player stops working again. Two replacement DVD players in 18 months. Something is wrong, dontcha think? Well, if I ever have to start paying for the replacement, then I'll be mad.
I'm not on top of everything but I set priorities and like to think that I accomplish those. One of those priorities is day camp for my eldest son.
Before camp ended last summer, he was registered and paid in full for this summer. For less money than last summer, he'll attend two weeks more because we prepaid. The health form deadline was May 1st. I'm on the wrong cycle with his physicals. I would like an actual physical performed in the fall for school and then, since a physical is good for one year, just have the doctor sign off on the camp's health form without redoing an exam. But, instead of this ideal, a new physical is performed in the spring for camp and, ultimately, this physical carries forward for school. I guess camp could be more physically demanding, so maybe it isn't all bad.

Anyway, the baby was due for an 18 mos. checkup in early April. I scheduled the five-year-old's physical and the baby's immunizations for the same day/time. It turns out that Tim was in the midst of his suspected rotavirus affliction in early April, so I lumped him in with the other two and the doctor examined all three. The camp health form was filled out but circumstances related to Tim's illness and hospitalization resulted in a delay of submitting the health form to the camp. I drive past the camp on the way home from the doctor's office and it's always tempting to pop in there and drop it off at the office. Especially because I don't trust the mail in my town. I'll tell you why in July because it marks a significant anniversary. But I don't drop off the form because I prefer to make a copy for my records first.

I follow the mailing of the health form up with a phone call to their office to make sure that they have received it and checked it off. Did I tell you that I don't trust the mail in my town?

On my first attempt to verify receipt, I caught the office gal towards the end of the workday and she had already shut down her computer but she thought that she remembered seeing the name. Now, they have 1,000's of kids at this camp but their staff is very good, so I was not surprised that she thought she recalled seeing his health form. Still, I thought better to check again, so I called a couple of days later and asked whether the health form had been received. I was told very quickly that, yes, his health form had been received and checked off. Again, it was as if the person was recalling this information from memory instead of from the computer because she didn't ask me to spell the camper's last name or anything.

So, some paperwork from the camp arrived yesterday for validation. And a highlighted item for immediate attention was a MISSING HEALTH FORM! I freaked because, well, yesterday was after the deadline. It was already after 5 pm but I called and left a message. I called again this morning. Michelle looked it up in the computer and she said that the form has been received. It's just ridiculous that things are so complicated. Kenny really has fun at this camp and I don't want him to miss out.

Although, lately he's been saying that he wants to attend the day camp held at his school. I am not keen on that. It's a fairly academic camp and I don't want him to get burned out on that. He's interested because they have a robot camp but I think that's for the older kids because it involves travel. I want him playing games, making crafts, swimming and out in the fun sun this summer. Not cooped up in his ol' day school. Actually, he says he can't wait until he's old enough for sleep away camp. That's gonna be a while!
Called to sign up my eldest, the five-year-old, for his first year of catechism.

I asked to homeschool him but Jean, the DRE, said that is not permitted in the 1st and 2nd grades. I was so dejected. He'll be upset too. I can't bear to think of him sitting in those dusty trailers with 30 other children. Heaven only knows what he will learn.

But, the restrictive policy on homeschooling tells me that the catechetical program is all about sacrament prep. Two years at the beginning and two years at the end. When I taught, and I did teach for Jean for one year ... it was a nightmare because I could never get a babysitter ... but, when I taught, I never taught a sacrament year. Well, except once I taught a confirmation class. But that was only one year, not even a full year because they were confirmed in February or March.

Anyway, in my previous experience of a catechetical program, the focus was on passing the diocesan tests in third, fifth and seventh grade. And, then the emphasis was on the sacraments in second and eighth. I taught fourth grade for all of my years, so I taught the book, the textbook, and introduced them to the New Testament Gospels and didn't have to worry about preparing them for tests or sacraments.

I was able to teach Catholic stuff, like the works of mercy, the Beatitudes, all of the sacraments, the rosary and other prayers. Some of it might be considered trivia or esoteric, especially for their age. But it was in the textbook and it interested me, so I taught it.

I wish that Jean would make an exception for my son this year.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Better her than Judas:

Scholars seek to correct Christian tradition on Mary Magdalene - CNS Story
The identification of Mary Magdalene as a repentant sinful woman was solidified in the Latin Church for centuries by the use of that story, reported in the seventh chapter of Luke, as the Gospel reading for Mary Magdalene's feast, July 22. [...] this changed in 1969 with the reform of the Roman Missal and the Roman Calendar. Since then the Gospel reading for Mary Magdalene's feast has been Chapter 20, verses 1-2 and 11-18, of the Gospel of John.
As it should be.

Beth Johnson, SSJ:

"what got lost in the process was her [the Magdalene's] actual role as a leader of witnessing to the Resurrection in the early church."


"There is the typical story of where Jesus chose the Twelve and put Peter in charge and the women, you know, were accessories. When you put Mary Magdalene into the picture, you can't tell the story that way so simply anymore."


"I would draw the implication that if the risen Christ saw fit to ask a woman to go and preach the good news of his resurrection, the church should do no less nowadays."
As soon as I found out that EWTN's The Journey Home program made available podcasts of the show, I subscribed through iTunes.

Maybe Jeff helped me with the subscription process and maybe he didn't. I can't remember. But I thought that I could catch the show more often through the mp3 medium because I just don't watch much TV.

For months, before the podcasts were available, TiVo recorded the program for me and kept until delete. However, in short order, three or four shows would be stored up and the DVR is first, first, first generation so its capacity is small. Actually, I can't remember how small. We always talk about upgrading to increase capacity. The Journey Home is an hour-long program with about a 2 minute break for announcements, so TiVo saves me no time; it takes an hour to watch the show.

Enter iTunes and podcasts. The annoying thing about the subscription was that new episodes weren't downloading automatically. Jeff told me that I need to have iTunes always running in order for new episodes to download automatically. I didn't subscribe to Fick&Oz at iTunes because I know approximately when their new shows are released each week on their website. But my friend michele at Reformed Chicks Blabbing turned me on to Pastor Shaun's monthly Ordinary Means podcasts and the first one from February made a lot of sense from an ecclesiological perspective.

Theologically, of course, I am not Reformed. I am unable to believe any of Calvin's points. But Pastor Shaun and his colleagues make insightful comments that a PCA Christian listening would appreciate. To them, I recommend his podcasts. For myself, my snobbery is a chronological one: while I may worship in a church building that is younger than I, it would be difficult for me to worship with a Christian church body that is younger than I. By the same token, my hairdresser must be older than me. I'm fussy about things like that.

So, I finally sync'd up my iPod yesterday after downloading the latest episodes of these two podcasts subscriptions and I might listen in the car tomorrow because I need to take my car back in for service. The DVD player isn't working now as a result of last week's service visit! But that's fodder for another post. Long story short, my car service visits always seem to occur in pairs, a week apart, and the kids can't live another day without the DVD player working.

But Jeff still owes me a playlist, "folk and stuff", I think it's called.