Monday, December 15, 2008

In the combox, below, Phyllis alludes to an email I shared with several folks from Chorale. I sent an email to composer David Conte, whose "A Stable-Lamp is Lighted" was one of our Joy of the Season selections. The piece is a setting to a poem by Richard Wilbur (b. 1921). I think you'll see why I had trouble getting through this one without tears and choking-up.

And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master rebuke thy disciples.
And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out
. - Lk 9:39-40

A stable-lamp is lighted
Whose glow shall wake the sky;
The stars shall bend their voices,
And every stone shall cry.
And every stone shall cry,
And straw like gold shall shine;
A barn shall harbour heaven,
A stall become a shrine.

This child through David's city
Shall ride in triumph by;
The palm shall strew its branches,
And every stone shall cry.
And every stone shall cry,
Though heavy, dull and dumb,
And lie within the roadway
To pave his kingdom come.

Yet he shall be foresaken,
And yielded up to die;
The sky shall groan and darken,
And every stone shall cry.
And every stone shall cry,
For stony hearts of men:
God's blood upon the spearhead,
God's love refused again.

But now, as at the ending,
The low is lifted high:
The stars shall bend their voices,
And every stone shall cry.
And every stone shall cry,
In praises of the child
By whose descent among us
The worlds are reconciled.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

How come...

I can't find any blogs about Catholic womanhood. I mean homekeeping, arts and crafts, being feminine, etc.

Must feminine womanhood in all its diverse manifestations be the property of the Protestant evangelicals and fundamentalists?

Friday, December 12, 2008

In Joyful celebration

Coming to the end of the one-year anniversary of the Declaration of Nullity from my first husband, which has been an amazing year of self-discovery, and I feel as if I'm still just beginning.

For a long time I described myself as a mule - a strange hybrid animal, steady and heardworking, but nevertheless a mule - a cross between a donkey and a horse, a sterile hybrid, unable to reproduce and given to rather eccentric temperament - and completely inelegant!

Then I decided, maybe I'm not a mule, but the best I can hope for is some broken-down scrub of a plow horse... still inelegant, a bit rough around the edges, lacking breeding and social graces...

In short, I was re-entering "polite society" after a very unpleasant and unwilling detour, and I felt unworthy of the companionship of the extraordinary people I was meeting and, surprisingly, making friends with. I felt backwards and ignorant and clumsy and wholly out of place with these educated, cultured, intelligent men and women.

Since the granting of the Declaration of Nullity, however, the way I see myself has been changing at lightening speed. For years, I had felt I deserved the derision, the scorn, the ridicule, the dismissals - after all, I'm hardly a Domestic Goddess! - and then I'd put on all this weight - and I was not just fat, I was clumsy and graceless and just downright awful.

During this year - to make a very complex story very short - I have discovered that I am neither mule nor broken-down plow horse, but a far more graceful breed. More to the point, I am not some androgynous thing of a beast, but - not merely physiologically, but emotionally, spiritually, ontologically - a woman. A woman, with all the grace and beauty and dignity and strength of character, and purity of vision and heart, and capacity for love and self-donation...

I am more wholly myself, my real self! - and more capable of love and devotion than I was at the age of 18, when I married DH.

The immediate difference is that I no longer feel embarrassed about being a woman - about inconveniencing someone who is holding a door for me, or asking the boys at school to remove their hats in my presence, or being embarrassed when a man slips with a bit of profanity in my presence...

I'm still working on the domestic stuff. I still doubt myself in this sphere, but it is getting easier as I've been working to declutter the house, and to rid myself of items that have unhappy or unpleasant associations (like the love seat with R's cigarette burns) - and of course, the very discipline of homekeeping is getting easier as I have less to fight against...

The past eleven months have been absolutely full of wonderful discovery. I've come to feel that - while I'm not THE "pearl of great price," I certainly am more valuable than I ever knew myself to be, before - certainly "priced far above rubies."

I am eagerly looking forward to more discovery and growth. I look forward to all that the future holds.

Thanks, All, for your prayers for me. I know they are helping.

The damage done to a woman's soul when she is bound to a homosexual man is severe. I'm going to be doing a lot more writing about this topic on future - there aren't enough resources for this need, and most of the ones I've seen are decidedly secular, and one or two are downright liberal and almost anti-Christian in their orientation (No! I do NOT want my ex- to have a happy and fulfilling gay "marriage!" I want him to be CONVERTED!!!)

Blessings to you all -

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My Blog's Readability

blog readability test

TV Reviews

If this thing is accurate, some parents need to do some serious protesting of public school education!
A parent has complained that her child's primary school Christmas - pardon me, Winter concert contained a reference to Christmas.

"Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer"???

Gimme a flippin' BREAK, here.

There are so many things wrong with this issue that I don't even know where to begin.

For one thing, "Rudolph" is a secular song from start to finish. Evidently this mother is some sort of literalist extremist to want to suppress a word in her child's school.

For another, this is a public school. It's culture is ostensibly supposed to represent the culture of the community it represents. Okay, this doesn't happen so very much since schools became objects of centralized, rather than community, governance, but the basic premise remains:

This is a predominately Christian part of the world - even if sometimes it feels as if that Christianity is only nominal. WHY are we letting minorities of one, or three, demand that we abandon our identity as Christians because it offends them.

After all, Christianity is the root and foundation of the culture they are so richly enjoying benefits of, from the safety of their homes to the abundance in our stores.

Give credit where it is due. Acknowledge that other people have rights, too.

Contrast this woman to the Muslim I met a few weeks ago. He is from East Africa, a nation now identified as nearly 100% Muslim. When he was a child, however, that was not the case, and he was educated in a Catholic school. Although he was exempted from catechism class, he was not spared the saturation of the Catholic identity which shaped every facet of school life. He was taught by nuns!

And he told me, grinning broadly, that it was a wonderful education, a wonderful experience. He's still a Muslim, and a devout one (if a "moderate" one by current standards) - but he knows a lot about Catholicism, and he has great respect and affection for Catholic Christianity, because he absorbed it in that microcosm of Catholic life: the Catholic School.

If minority parents want their children to be spared the influence of the predominate cultural identity, they should either send their children to their own schools, or homeschool.

I wish Christian parents would rise up in protest of this hijacking, this sabotage of our culture. I'm pretty sure it will not happen, however.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The feminists have demanded that women be treated as if they were men, and in so many ways the idea has been detrimental to women.

Take the case of the man dismissed from his job in an area community college. He was caught performing lewd acts in a staff member's office (masturbating, touching food to his penis then placing it in the faculty member's desk for her to eat, etc.).

It is not only distressing that the college did so little to protect the woman employee, it is even more distressing that the general consensus of opinion in the website's comments page thinks the man did nothing inherently wrong.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Powerful insights from A. Guy Maligned -

From "Guy" at What Women Never Hear. If you haven't visited this blog, you should. Frequently. Attentively.

401. Dark Side of Feminism — Part 21

December 6, 2008 by A.GuyMaligned

Feminism produced political, legal, and economic gains for women. No dispute from me. But women have not heard it all.

The warring and do-battle feminist mindset infiltrated elsewhere. The social and domestic arenas ‘evolved’ over fifty years through the following steps:

The earliest women libbers and then radical feminists sought to reduce male dominance and compensate for past injustices. Men had to be ‘brought down’. The radicals dreamed that matriarchy would someday overpower patriarchy.

· Plus, they pushed their agenda without consulting men. It was women only, and they set out to beat men into submission.

· The movement caught on. Ardent feminists belittled and demeaned masculinity, manliness, and men. As it became popular among females, it polarized the genders.

· Females identified and spotlighted every imperfection and eccentricity of male gender. They looked for the same in their man.

· Women were at fault for nothing. Men objected but not too strongly, because unmarried sex became common and commoner, cheaper and cheaper.

· TV and movies mocked men, made dummies of fathers and husbands. Emails flooded cyberspace and popularized male bashing. Teasing at first, but sincerity inevitably soaked in as Feminism flooded the culture.

· Women accepted feminist propaganda, entertainment mockery, and male bashing as ‘truthful’. They learned to doubt the worth of men to women.

· Women convinced themselves that ‘Men are just not worth their troublesome nature. Women must put their man in his place. Moreover, she’s perfectly capable of doing without him’.

· But something else seeped into that poorly concocted mixture: Wives competed directly with husband; they spent a lot of time ‘in his face’. Couples split. Marriages broke up. Unmarried sex normalized. Men became worse instead of better. Cheap sex kept men satisfied if not happy.

· Men learned not to commit and also to cheat in spite of commitment. It all flows directly, however, from so much cheap sex made easily available by females.

· Today, men just follow their urge to merge. One woman can’t capture and keep a man’s devotion separated from his conquering spirit. Too many opportunities with all those oh-so-willing females hunting boyfriends and husbands.

· Women lost the ability or interest or both for holding their own with a man. Female spirits declined. Men went on a cheap sex binge. Wifely hopes and dreams changed to accommodate husbands that turn undependable, irresponsible, and irresolute with their vows. The females’ macro self-fulfilling prophecy against the male gender reshaped the domestic scene to its present female-unfriendly status.

Thus, social ‘evolution’ turned the female gender inferior and made male dominance more dominant. Witness pop culture music and values.

Social and domestic results are contrary to that originally expected. But—as women go, so goes society.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Thoughts on Mortifications (all Sinead's fault)

Because Sinead wrote in the combox:
Ok Laura, I'll bite. I loved the post but I want you to write a post for me on mortifications, voluntary that is, not what you feel when you trip up in the street and everyone laughs. :-D
How do they work?

How can I resist?

Actually, I've been thinking of this, along with Purgatory, this week. The two seem to go together.

Mortification, root word "Mors" or "mortis," Latin for death, die, etc. To mortify is, literally, to put to death -

In this particular application, the ego, or self-will: the very same source of those attachments we have to be purged of before we can fully enter into God's presence.

I was about to say that some mortifications just come to us - like sickness, disappointments, etc., but that's not quite true; how we handle life difficulties matters. When we fight, complain, rail against, whine, and make a general stink about our sufferings, then we aren't putting self-will to death at all, are we? Seems to me we're demanding self-satisfaction, our own way, treating our personal happiness as some sort of indisputable birthright and how dare God interfere by denying us that right!

When we are tested in ordinary ways (like the mom at the school this afternoon, who was put out with me because I wouldn't release the girl from school on the strength of a telephone call), we have a choice. I prefer to be treated with a little more courtesy, and believe me - I was sorely tempted to inform this mother that lack of planning on her part did not constitute an emergency on my part. I wish with all my heart (six hours later) that I had been more gracious than I was, that I had let the woman's annoyance bounce off me; I did apologize and explain my position nicely, I think, but I seethed about the situation for too long afterward.

If I'd been meeker, if I'd been more patient, more gracious - not annoyed (or at least reminded myself that I had a choice not to be so put out) - then this incident could have served as a very useful mortification for my ego, my pride.

Being cheerful when I'm tired and cross and can't breathe because of a stuffy nose (I think I licked the threatened sinus infection) - that's a mortification.

Not fighting back when I'm treated like an incompetent when in fact I was misinformed about a procedure (set up?) - a mortification.

Accepting criticism graciously - when it is not deserved, or more difficult, when it is - a mortification.

Acceptance - of disappointments, of sorrows, of sufferings of body and emotions - not fighting to force our own way, nor demanding sympathy and attention from others - a valuable mortification.

We can also undertake voluntary mortifications to discipline our pride and self-centeredness.

I love chocolate, and during stressful days at the high school, a candy bar and a Coke feel like an entitled reward. This week - I've done without. It's a small mortification, one I've not even really felt.

There are pleasures the world tells us are natural, normal, harmless... but they distract us from full discipleship. Some novels, television programs, movies, music appeal to a more base and carnal element in our characters. Avoiding them even though we enjoy them is a very useful mortification - we are mortifying, putting to death, our love of the mediocre, banal, and salacious.

Denying ourselves luxuries - more clothes than we really need, or multiple bottles of cosmetics and potions when what we already possess is more than adequate for our needs - other things we feel we are supposed to be entitled to as Americans (or Europeans) - a very useful mortification.

Giving of our selves and our resources when it is inconvenient - denying our love of consolations and comforts and luxuries that are not essential to health or safety or genuine well-being...

Being pleasant and doing my duty to people I don't like and would rather avoid - a mortification!

There are stories of saints who slept on boards for a bed, without a mattress, mortifying their love of physical comfort to identify with the truly deprived - who fasted and undertook disciplines in order to tame what St. Francis humorously called "brother ass" (the flesh) - Some even added deliberate discomforts - the wearing of hair shirts (itchy!) or the discipline of flagellation, personal penances, and the like -

I don't advocate wearing hair shirts. I worry about people who have poor sense of self-esteem confusing self-loathing with self-denial and so teeter into deeper emotional instability with religious-guised excesses. I distrust people who boast about their devotions and their acts of charity and service. Mortifications should be quiet, discreet. They should be something we can reasonably fulfill - not great overwhelming mountains to boast of trying to scale.

I think we start small, like my silly little candy bars, or resolving within our minds to treat that difficult person with a softer, gentler voice than we usually do (and to try to tame the indignation that wells up on the inside). God will show us - Our Lady will show us! She wants us to draw closer to her Son, and we attain that greater intimacy with Him by death to self.

It's a process. We fail, only to try again. Ego is a resilient beast, hard to train. But we keep on trying.