Monday, December 31, 2007

Final post for 2007

I spent today in a glorious way. I got out around lunchtime and ran errands - put packages in the mail, picked up my silk blouse from the cleaner's, had a bite of lunch -

Visited a local discount shop (SteinMart, if you must know) and decided that commercial tastes leave a great deal to be desired, these days. Why do plus sized women's clothes have to be so horribly ugly? It's bad enough they are sooo B-I-G, surely they could be in reasonable prints and colors and fabrics and even shapes - not these garish multi-colored bizarro prints in weird manmade fibers looking like something out of a 60s acid trip. I wanted a decent, 3/4 length or long-sleeved top in bright jewel tones, not orange, not black leopard or psychadelic throwback insanity. I gave up and left the store with all my money unspent.

I went into Fresh Market to satisfy a week-old craving for Brussels sprouts. All they had was tiny ones about the size of a marble, on a stem - one stem left. I bought a small triangle of Brie and a loaf of sourdough bread.

Then I remembered - I'm still not in the habit of remembering the used bookstore up at the end of the highway - and I do love a good browse in a used bookstore. There, I hit paydirt. I found a book on philosophy that I'll be able to use in school, a book on the sermons of John Henry Newman, one on herb gardens from Rodale Press. I found music - a book of piano sonatas, books on organ music (someday I will have an organ to learn to play) - novels by Rosamunde Pilcher, whose personal note to me arrived on Christmas Eve (I wrote her several months ago, on impulse, after reading Coming Home and The Shell Seekers and she actually write me back!) and Rumer Godden and George Eliot and - oh, goodness how can I keep track of it all!

I came away with two massive shopping bags full of the most wonderful books - for $31! Now, with a cup of tea, and the living room vacuumed and the trash carried out, I am ready to bid the old year farewell.

It's been a rich and satisfying year. Even a glorious but unrequited love has enriched and blessed my life immensely - and that is the worst thing that has happened this year. There have been new friends adding richness to an already full circle of good friends - discoveries of new gifts and new callings. There have been "love letters from God" in the form of bluebirds and deer in the back yard, rainbows, and glorious rains. There have been hours of satisfying work, and a great many pats on the back from people whose opinions matter to me.

There is much to look forward to in 2008. I'll be starting school in a couple of weeks, and that will be a great adventure. There will be new things to write, new friends to love -

I always want to end a post with something wise, but I'm sadly lacking in that department tonight. I'm simply filled with contentment, and looking forward to what God has waiting for me in the new year.

God bless you all, and give you great joy this coming year.

If you want your comment posted -

Sign it.

I've gotten still another unsigned Anonymous comment this morning in response to Karl. Writer, you want to try again, put a name to it, I'll publish it.

However, I'll also tell you (again) that I left out part of his original post which includes identifying information about his ex-wife. And I'll tell you that you've only heard one side of the story: his. And I'll probably say a few other things that would just make everyone mad, but that I think would need to be said in the interest of fairness. Because this post I'm holding in reserve smacks too much of posts I've read on single's sites, praising a man you don't know in order to impress him with your own loyalty and "admiration."

Look. I've already pointed out that maybe Karl's ex-wife isn't presenting herself for Communion. or that maybe she and her second husband are living as brother and sister - that these things are Not. Our. Business. Nobody has bothered to reply -
and what needs to be said is, "Yep, there's a lot more to the story here than we've been told."

But you're right - Karl needs to come Home to the Church. Not because the Church needs him, mind you, but because he needs the Church. He needs to come home to the Church because the Church is true.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

To Ms. M - an apology

Since you couldn't very well leave me an email address, let me take this opportunity to publicly apologize to you. I do remember you - well and warmly - not only from the parking lot but also from the product meeting, shortly before your little one was born.

I also remember well your warmth of affection and devotion for your mother and your siblings.

I remember conversations with your mother, which apprised me of aspects of your mother's life which your father's comments herein reveal either lack of knowledge or a simple not caring. These facts about your mother's life have a great deal to do with her standing with the Church at this time, and they are not my concern, nor even your father's - but hers and G's and their Confessor(s) .

The fact remains: your father has left the Church, and while he rails against your mother, he is no less culpable for his own choices. His original comments post implored me to appeal to the Roman Rota in my nullity situation for the sake of my soul's salvation (which I will not do, as homosexuality is very much a black-and-white issue, unlike the "lack of due discretion" grounds named in your parents' petition) and yet he has left the Church he appealed to.

There appears to me to be an alarming inconsistency in your father's words and choices. Either the Church in Rome is the True Church which, despite the human errors of certain of her representatives, deserves his loyalty, or it is false, in which case his resentments are senseless. Actually, they make no sense anyway - he speaks of the Church forcing your mother into obedience? by which it reads as if he expects the Church to force her against her will to reconcile with him or to abandon her second family.

Remember: it was only after re-reading your father's post and going to the web link he sent me, which details the history of the nullity process, that I recognized him as your father - which you have just confirmed for me. (Did he recognize me before posting?) There is no justification for his forcing himself on my acquaintance as he has done; his resentments toward your mother are far too obvious; he seems only to want to be sided with in horror: oh, how horrible a woman she is, and how careless the Church is for letting such a situation go undisciplined!

I can't do it. Your father is seriously in error.

Please be assured of my continuing respect and affection for you and the whole of your family. That includes Karl.


Moving right along...

It's pouring rain here since before dawn. I love weather, and we've sure needed this rain - the entire Southeast has been under a miserable drought for over a year now - and hadn't fully recovered from our last.

Twice - Christmas Night and this morning, I've heard thunder. The old wives' tale down here is that if you hear thunder in a winter storm, you'll have snow within ten days. Interesting.

I mentioned Leaves of Heaven in an earlier post - a happy "accident" if I've ever had one - and I thought perhaps a poem might be a nice thing to share -

Oscar Wilde is known for his delightful plays (The Importance of Being Ernest, among others) and, sadly, for his scandalous life. But before he died he did become a Catholic - and the following poem is his:

E Tenebris

Come down, O Christ, and help me! reach Thy hand,
For I am drowning in a stormier sea
Than Simon on Thy lake of Galilee:
The wine of life is spilt upon the sand,
My heart is as some famine-murdered land
Whence all good things have perished utterly,
And well I know my soul in Hell must lie
If I this night before God's throne should stand.
'He sleeps perchance, or rideth to the chase,
Like Baal, when his prophets howled that name
From morn to noon on Carmel's smitten height.'
Nay, peace, I shall behold, before the night,
The feet of brass, the robe more white than flame,
The wounded hands, the weary human face.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Responding to Karl - too many nullity decisions?

Karl wrote, in part, in a comment that I have since deleted:

I am a former Catholic due to the liberal practices of the Catholic Church regarding marriage, divorce, adultery, nullity...

Do not be sure of the nullity of your marriage unless Rome renders the decision.

American Canonists are notoriously liberal.

The Catholic Church accepts my wife and her lover as a couple in your neck of the woods in North Carolina, in spite of two Roman Rotal decisions holding our marriage as valid. So the priests ignore them and tell my wife she just could not prove it.

She could not prove it BECAUSE it IS VALID!

So, I left the Catholic Church, after seventeen years of asking it to ACT to help heal our sacrament, which is a real joke about these things.

You can be nearly certain that you will obtain nullity, but you are gambling with your salvation so its up to you. Send it to Rome to be sure, no matter how long it takes or what it costs.

Just my two bits, as a lifelong Catholic, I am 53 now, who knows what truth means.

This is not said to hurt you. I care. How many men do you know who remain faithful to their adulterous spouse because they meant their vows? I am eighteen years abandoned but I meant what I said. But the Catholic Church mocks my faithfulness. I will remain faithful to her as well, I just cannot live with her either.

God be with you,

So wrote Karl in a comment to my post on my nullity process. I deleted his comment from that page because he went on to add potentially identifying information of his former wife. In fact, the more I think of it (this is my 3d edit of this post) the more I am certain that I am acquainted with his ex-wife.

First of all, I think it's incredibly arrogant to presume to know more than Mother Church. Sinfully arrogant.

Secondly, in very general principle, one must remember that civil law, which governs divorce, has been almost chokingly rigid until only about twenty-five years ago. People could not leave marriages without visual evidence of adultery - either photographic, or the testimony of a professional investigator. Non-support, violence, innumerable acts that made life burdensome and insupportable were difficult and humiliating to testify to, publicly; many people simply endured rather than air their dirty laundry in open court.

What people like our friend Karl, here, must ask himself is how many men and women were in canonically invalid marriages that Civil law would not allow them to escape? How many arranged marriages, for example, undertaken under coercion rather than free will, occurred in past eras? Marriages between members of royalty, for example, were often politically expedient rather than ecclesially cherished.

Less generally, Karl seems to think that his conduct after the marriage should have validated the marriage; however, it is issues existing at the time of the wedding that determine the validity of a marriage. We see, in a link Karl provided and which I have deleted in order to protect the parties, a nominally Catholic couple, both strong-willed and unwilling to consider wiser counsel; engaging in sexual relations prior to their marriage and, in fact, the ex-wife was pregnant at the time of the marriage - all issues which would hinder a full understanding and ability to enter into a sacramental marriage. In fact, the "lack of discretion" issue seems well-established in the testimony, based upon that engagement history - although the Roman Rota declared on April 17, 1997, that nullity could not be proven based upon the evidence.

Note: Nullity was not denied; it was simply held as not affirmed. Thus, Karl and his ex-wife are in a sort of nullity netherworld - and he is right in stating that his ex-wife was in serious error to have remarried under these conditions.

Now, Karl has asserted in his message that the priests of the Raleigh diocese are ignoring this decision and accepting his ex-wife and her "lover." If this is the woman that I believe it is, there is more to the story than Karl has included in his passionate narrative. She may not be presenting herself for Communion, she and her husband may be living together as brother and sister... there are several factors here that we are not told, nor is it, for present discussion, any of our cotton-picking business.

However, the fact is that Karl has left the Church - and although he says he left because of this nullity issue, the testimony bears out that the couple were not very serious about the Faith prior to the marriage and had, in fact, united with a nonCatholic religion during the marriage. This fact makes me sad; it seems to me that this decision is a self-centered bit of a temper-tantrum.

Karl is accountable to God. The Catholic Church is the One True Church, established by Our Lord while he was upon the earth. The Church is God's instrument, and it is incumbent upon Karl to reconcile himself to the Church, and not to be distracted by his former wife's choices, nor to use them as his thin excuse for his own rebellion.

Come on Home, Karl. Let go, detach, from your former wife's choices, and fling yourself into the great and gracious arms of Grace.

obstacles -

I was supposed to meet with a retired priest this morning to discuss beginning spiritual direction, but the sinus ick I've been plagued with for the better part of the week seems to be settled in and it has me by the throat - literally: laryngitis.

I'm terribly disappointed. The more I read in St Francis de Sales' Introduction to the Devout Life the more convinced I become that my old habits as a former Protestant are self-defeating; I need help - to know myself more honestly and to learn to live a holy life, to be a holier woman. This particular retired priest, too, is a lovely gentleman, one I think I will love to work with. Another priest friend of mine recommended him highly, said he had found him to be an excellent Confessor. So I have been more eager about starting with Fr John today than almost all the Christmas festivities.

It's a huge step, this acknowledging that I need help. I've always had to at least convey an image of some sort of perfection and superiority; now I get to be just the opposite. It won't be easy for me, but I think it's time. Yeah, it's definitely time.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Mass tonight, Mass tomorrow morning -

for, although He was God, He did not count his equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men,And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore, also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2:6-11)

God bless and keep you all -

Saturday, December 22, 2007

From the "I Don't know whether to laugh or cry" file -

In light of recent waves of politically correct anti-Christian sentiment in the public arena, I am glad to see this. I only hope it's not too little, too late.

H. Res. 847

In the House of Representatives, U. S.,

December 11, 2007.

Whereas Christmas, a holiday of great significance to Americans and many other cultures and nationalities, is celebrated annually by Christians throughout the United States and the world;

Whereas there are approximately 225,000,000 Christians in the United States, making Christianity the religion of over three-fourths of the American population;

Whereas there are approximately 2,000,000,000 Christians throughout the world, making Christianity the largest religion in the world and the religion of about one-third of the world population;

Whereas Christians and Christianity have contributed greatly to the development of western civilization;

Whereas the United States, being founded as a constitutional republic in the traditions of western civilization, finds much in its history that points observers back to its Judeo-Christian roots;

Whereas on December 25 of each calendar year, American Christians observe Christmas, the holiday celebrating the birth of their savior, Jesus Christ;

Whereas for Christians, Christmas is celebrated as a recognition of God's redemption, mercy, and Grace; and

Whereas many Christians and non-Christians throughout the United States and the rest of the world, celebrate Christmas as a time to serve others: Now, therefore, be it

    Resolved, That the House of Representatives--
      (1) recognizes the Christian faith as one of the great religions of the world;
      (2) expresses continued support for Christians in the United States and worldwide;
      (3) acknowledges the international religious and historical importance of Christmas and the Christian faith;
      (4) acknowledges and supports the role played by Christians and Christianity in the founding of the United States and in the formation of the western civilization;
      (5) rejects bigotry and persecution directed against Christians, both in the United States and worldwide; and
      (6) expresses its deepest respect to American Christians and Christians throughout the world.



Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I saw this at our local Catholic bookstore, and my spirit wouldn't rest until I'd made the splurge and bought it. Merry Christmas, Laura!

This book is utter joy. It doesn't contain insipid saccharine verse like Helen Steiner Rice - it's full of genuine legitimate, literary-quality poetry from men and women like Hildegard of Bingen, John Henry Newman, G.K. Chesterton, Geoffrey Chaucer -

Even that prolific genius, "Anon." is here.

Do yourself a treat - check this one out.

Monday, December 17, 2007

One more week 'til Christmas!

I'm overwhelmed - where is the time going!!!???

I'm in panic mode because half my little choir is going to be away for Christmas. We're not even planning a Christmas anthem - because there are only three people to sing at either Mass.

It ought not to be like this. People complain about the lack of variety in our music, but when I have only six singers, and most of them travel extensively (my parish is mostly retirees, this being a retirement/resort area of the country) and all of them are mortally afraid of singing something different from what everyone else is singing - which eliminates harmony singing - what can I do?

I'm thinking of trying to solicit singers from the area high schools. There's a lot of antiCatholic sentiment in this area, though, and I don't think it will give me many new voices. Worth a try, I suppose.....

Any ideas?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Confession - it really is good for the soul

That doesn't make it easy or comfortable, of course. Which is probably why - along with residual obdurate Protestant independence - I haven't been to Confession in months. (how many? none o' your biznez!)

But I did go today. I'm engaging in an online book study of St. Francis de Sales' Introduction to the Devout Life with a group of women I've met via a couple of Catholic web sites. We spent two weeks discussing issues surrounding Spiritual Direction, and this past Wednesday we were on Ch. 5 - detaching from our sins.

It's the very act of confession that I find awkward. I can think and pray on my way to the church, in line waiting my turn to confess, using a superb examination of conscience, and have my list of sins settled in my mind (and occasionally on paper) - but as soon as I get into the Confessional my mind goes into a disorderly blur.

Still, as Msgr I counselled me this evening, in order to do battle against my sins, I've got to use the arms available to me - and Sacramental Confession is the ultimate weapon known to mankind.

This is part of that spiritual warfare I've been writing about in recent months. We begin with ourselves, because if we don't we're just blowing smoke. We work on ourselves, we reach toward perfection, in order to become more fit and better trained for the battles beyond our own minds and souls.

I said, in a discussion of the promotion of contraception in Third World countries, recently, that we can't export a commodity we don't possess. In that case, I was referring to a national sense of reverence for life; in this case, I am thinking of radical, countercultural holiness. Sanctity.

If we want to make a difference in the world, we have to strive for a difference in ourselves. The work begins with Confession.

Friday, December 14, 2007

SPIRITUAL WARFARE - Part IVa - Arming Ourselves

We expect to see antagonism toward the Church within the world; what is shocking is when we see it within the ranks of the membership.

The reasons for this are multifold, but for now I'd like to focus on one concern: issues of catechesis. People receive rotten, incorrect catechesis during their formation, or they misremember what they were taught, or Sister/Father Rebel throws out the ubiquitous "Spirit of Vatican II" excuse for abandoning uncomfortable teachings (like the ban on artificial birth control, or the need for Sacramental Confession, or the reinventing the Eucharist to be only a symbol which we all surpass).

We see a LOT of this in the South, where Catholics have always been a minority population, and most Catholics are transplants (usually Post-Vatican II retirees) from other parts of the country. The dioceses of New York, I'm discovering, are almost certain to send the South poorly catechized individuals who heartily resent the use of Latin even during heightened seasons such as Advent and Lent - "We did away with that junk after Vatican II!" one indignant parishioner told me as he quit the choir.

Actually, we did not - but the retention of Latin is not my point.

It is truly heartbreaking to see such rancor and competition within the Church, within our own parishes - but it ought not to surprise us. After all, Jesus Himself warned us that, in the Last Days, "if it were possible, even the elect would be led astray."

If we wish to be able to Fight the Good Fight, as Paul said, we need to be prepared to fight on all fronts, home (within the Church) and "abroad" (the world). We need to be able to give a good account of our Faith wherever it is needed. This means we really do have to know our Church. We have to be well-acquainted with our Catechism and our Bible, to keep abreast of new document releases and old ones. A nodding acquaintance with Church History isn't a bad idea, either.

We also have the obligation to be working not only on the intellectual conformity to the Church, but also on the transformation of our characters.

I have a feeling I'll be blogging about this quite a bit in the coming weeks, as I prepare to being work on my MA-Theology from one of our major Universities.

May God raise up many well-equipped workers in His fields.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

and Almost Free -

The Diocese of Charlotte has notified me that the ruling in my Petition to determine nullity of my first marriage (to the Faerie Queene) is Affirmative -
that is, that the marriage is, according to Canon Law, Null -
and my file has been sent to the Archdiocese of Atlanta for review and hopeful ratification.

The difference in my spirit is amazing - there's no anticipating what this is going to feel like.
Deo Gratias!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

SPIRITUAL WARFARE Part III - Entering the Conflict

There’s a story that has been around for years: you can place a frog in a pan of cold water that is slowly brought to boil while the frog complacently adapts to his environment – until it kills him. The analogy is frighteningly apt. Ninth grade students reading Elie Wiesel’s Night are appalled at how the Jews of Germany, Poland, and other parts of Europe refused to believe the warnings sent to them by witnesses of Nazi atrocities against their people. “That’s dumb!” they say almost as one voice.

Yet such complacency, such disbelief, is our own sin. We have allowed atrocity to build on top of atrocity and we have not stood in the gap and cried “Foul!”

In the days immediately following the 9/11 attacks on the United States, President Bush stood before our nation and warned us that the war we had entered into, on terrorism, would be exceedingly difficult precisely because it is a war against an attitude, a philosophy of destruction, and not a sovereign nation or specific king. In the same way, we as Christian people are called to be engaged in a battle for souls – a battle not against individual men and women or armies, but, against attitudes and philosophical constructs that lead to the injury and destruction of the immortal soul:

St. Paul urged the Ephesians: “… we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand….” (Eph. 6:10-13)

A deceitful view of the truth, common in our culture, says that all opinions have value, all ideologies are of equal merit. This is a worldview that tells us it doesn’t matter what we think, what we do, or how we live.

After all, it whispers and sometimes shouts, God only wants us to be happy!

No, dear friends. God does not want us to be superficially “happy.” God wants us to be good, so that we can be supremely happy with Him through all eternity.

Despite what we have been told by prevailing “wisdom” – which insists that I have “my truth” and you have “your truth” – there is only one Truth – and it is revealed to all of human history through the Person of Jesus Christ and through the agency of His Church. The issue is whether we are going to be faithful and obedient to the Truth or whether we are going to, by default, become complicit with the Enemy. We must recognize this and adapt our attitudes accordingly. There will be no middle ground.

We are called to be a countercultural people, in the world but not of it. This is not a popular or easy path. It means that we have to be engaged – deliberately engaged – in trying to know and to conform ourselves to a standard of thought, conduct, and feeling that the world is telling us is old-fashioned, archaic, and even repressive. It will require the engagement of all three of those dimensions – thought, conduct, and feeling – to combat the evil in our midst.

When we were baptized into the Church, into the Christian faith, we received, as Paul says, our adoption as joint-heirs with Christ (Rom. 8: 15). We are now citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven – in exile in this world, but eagerly awaiting our call Home, where we belong with Him. He is our Heavenly Father, but He is also our King. We are called to honor the laws, customs, and loyalties of our Homeland, even while we are in exile, as did the Children of Israel during their exile to Babylon. Like them, we are strangers and sojourners, having relinquished citizenship in this world in exchange for a Heavenly citizenship; we must therefore honor our first loyalty to God.

This loyalty is not popular in the world. Our eccentricity points out the destructiveness of a worldly, pagan culture and makes its residents uncomfortable. We will face a lot of misguided but well-intentioned opposition and downright hostility. The Enemy of our souls will make many attempts to get us to renounce our identity as sons and daughters of God.

The means he will use are manifold. Each of us has his particular weakness – lust, love of wealth and luxuries, self-aggrandizement, love of power – and it is to these that the Enemy appeals to us as individuals. What tempts me to stray from fidelity to Our Lord may not be what tempts you, and it hardly matters; the Enemy will address us personally.

We must begin our defense against the Enemy, and our offense against his domination of our culture, by changing our minds; old attitudes, the old complacency, will not do for us any longer.

It is astonishing to see how many verses in the Scriptures directly address the issue of our thoughts, our minds, and our orientation in the world but not of it:
Be transformed by the renewing of your minds – (Rom. 12:2)
Whatsoever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things. (Phil. 4:8)
Be not conformed to this world… (Rom 12:2)
Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility to God? (James 4:4)
Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. (I John 2:15)

As we change our attitudes, our ideas, we must also take action.

We must never grow weary of defending the defenseless by our opposition to abortion, euthanasia, cloning, and embryonic stem cell exploitation. That is obvious – but it is only a beginning. We must also defend the dignity and worth of all human life, in the aged, the infirm, the culturally and socio-economically deprived.

We must also defend what is decent and honorable in our culture and oppose all that is mediocre, salacious, and banal. As inconvenient as it is, as bitterly uncomfortable as it makes us, we must face head-on the fact that our culture is becoming desensitized to sin – just like the frog in the pot of water. The mediocre and banal – if not the utterly salacious – entertainments that we feel entitled to enjoy are like a termite infestation eroding the moral and spiritual fiber of our culture.

We must not make excuses for careless self-indulgence. When we engage in activities, recreations, and conversations that make a mockery of the best of our identity as Catholics, we give that round of battle to the Enemy. It’s no good saying of a television show that glamorizes adultery or violence, “Oh, it’s just TV, it doesn’t really matter.” It matters a great deal; TV and other mass entertainments have been a primary means of desensitizing the culture to sin, evil, and coarseness.

Parents, particularly, must be diligent to protect the minds and souls of their children. Catholic parents who allow their children to watch MTV, BET, movies that glorify violence, and other aggressively contemptuous entertainments fail in their duty to train their children’s minds, characters, and consciences. Parents who do not challenge their children’s schools’ use of novels like Robert Cormier’s The Chocolate War, with its unchallenged contempt for others (both peers and those in positions of authority, particularly for religious), and its masturbatory references, fail in their duty to safeguard the minds and imaginations of their children and to preserve in their communities an adherence to the Christian standards of common decency that have shaped and defined those communities to the present day.

Moreover, we are defending not only our own children, but the children of those parents who are not doing their duty or living as active Christians.

When anti-Christian voices in our communities threaten the values and symbols we hold dear, we have an obligation to raise our voices in protest against the few dominating the many. We have an obligation to remind our elected civic leaders that the Constitution does not support freedom from religion, and that the voice of the majority chooses the policies and representations of our communities.

In every way imaginable, we have an obligation to seek and to conform to godly principles – as citizens, neighbors, and consumers. Our countercultural influence will not be nearly as effective if it is not all-encompassing, to the best of our ability at any given moment in time. What I am prescribing here will be an ongoing, developing endeavor, for the rest of our lives.

Finally, all our actions must be wholly undergirded with prayer. In prayer we touch the Mover of the Cosmos; in prayer we effect networks of change on a grand and an infinitesimal level. Our ideas and our actions become grounded and fused through prayer. Most of all, in prayer we enter God’s own presence – and in that Presence we ourselves are transformed. That ongoing transformation is what makes possible the change in mind, heart, and action we are being called to undertake.

Our culture is no longer dominated or governed by the principles of Judeo-Christian morality. Our identity and our values as Catholics are being challenged with increasing hostility. Battle lines are being drawn more dramatically with every passing week – between the friends of Christ and His enemies. The distinction between darkness and light, right and wrong, is becoming more dramatic.

Complacency will place us in the position of spoiled salt, to be thrown out (Mt. 5:13) or the lukewarm, who will be spit out of His mouth in Judgment (Rev. 3:16).

We truly are at war, as Paul says. – Therefore, grow strong in the Lord, with the strength of his power Put on the full armor of God so as to be able to resist the devil’s tactics… That is why you must take up all God’s armour, or you will not be able to put up any resistance on the evil day, or stand your ground even though you exert yourselves to the full. So stand your ground, with truth a belt around your waist, and uprightness a breastplate, wearing for shoes on your feet the eagerness to spread the gospel of peace and always carrying the shield of faith so that you can use it to quench the burning arrows of the Evil One. And then you must take salvation as your helmet and the sword of the Spirit, that is, the word of God. (Eph. 6:10-17)

May He find us faithful to the very end.

Monday, November 19, 2007

SPIRITUAL WARFARE, Part II - Signs of the Times

Somehow, throughout the modern era, good Christian people have stood quietly by and allowed the whole fabric of our society to be undermined by people holding a worldview hostile to Christianity. We have allowed those hostile to religion to dictate to us how we may or must act in the name of “love,” and we have tragically acquiesced. We have allowed ourselves as a culture to adopt a quietism or passivity that has spread as a sort of moral anesthesia even among Christians.

Our entertainments – movies, radio, television – have injected new situations and attitudes into the culture. New norms of morality have been introduced and effected a major cultural paradigm shift, by sheer dent of audience numbers.

And this has happened because good Christian people have been lulled to sleep by an obscene, pagan idea: I have my truth, you have your truth, and it is incumbent upon you to be “nice” to me and let me have my way. You, Christian people, have to be “nice,” and let me do what I want, without criticism. And so evil has again come to dominate the world and our culture, causing us to have more in common with the pagan world than with the predominately Christian culture of even fifty years ago.

I can by no means provide an exhaustive list of the indicators and consequences of the change in our cultural paradigm, but I do offer for your consideration the following:

• The development of multiple means of artificial birth control and the overwhelming cultural acceptance of those means, which have combined to remove sex from the realm of marriage and procreation and to place it in the exploitive arena of depersonalized recreation.
• Legalized abortion, on demand and unrestricted throughout the duration of a pregnancy.
• Euthanasia, presented as a “compassionate choice” to end suffering of the terminally ill or seriously injured. (This is also known as “terminal medication.”)
• Overall lack of respect for the aged and infirm and a tendency to get them “out of the way” through institutionalized “homes.” This is also leading to an increased acceptance and practice of euthanasia.
• The simultaneous masculinization and cultural objectification of women through the misguided manipulations of radical feminism and the mass marketing of pornography.
• A glorification of homosexuality, to the point of “legalization” of gay marriage and adoption and the establishment of gay student organizations, even on high school campuses.
• A love of violence as entertainment. Our movies, television shows, and much of our popular music (rock and hiphop, especially) thrive on the portrayal and prescription of violence as a solution to conflict and personal dissatisfaction..
• A growing verbal violence through the acceptance of profanity in our entertainments and, consequently, in our public conversations.
• A love of the sensational – for example, the celebrity cult. For years, actors and actresses had to adhere to strict “morality clauses” in their contracts; now, the tabloids are filled with the irresponsible exploits of celebrities. Once characters who sinned eventually faced the consequences of their wrong-doing (think of Greta Garbo’s Camille); now all manner of sin and aberration is touted as glamorous and desirable, a normal part of culture and of a “healthy” and glamorous life.
• The vilifying of religion and religious. Formerly, Hollywood treated religion with respect (think of Boys Town, I Confess, and other movies strongly featuring religious characters and themes); now the religious are often the villains, or at least maladjusted foils in the movies in which they appear.
• A cultural ridiculing of traditional moral values. It is not enough that “alternatives” are presented to the nonbeliever; now Christian people must be ridiculed and insulted for holding fast to traditional moral values such as chastity, celibacy, sobriety, and simplicity.
• The promotion of worldly acquisitiveness and valuation and the elevation of the material over the spiritual.
• The dramatic decline of academic standards in our schools and the resulting decline in young people’s ability to engage in rational thought and make responsible, informed, considered decisions. We are raising generations of children that will blindly follow where the “experts” tell them they should go.
• The increased love of the banal and mediocre. Look again at our entertainments and see where there is any genuine talent, ability, or artistry to be found in them. Sarcasm increasingly passes as humor (thank you, Roseanne) and sentimentality passes for wisdom (thank you, Oprah).
• Instant gratification is expected as our native birthright.
• The growing contempt for menial labor and for those who perform it.
• The forced removal of prayer from our public schools.
• The revision of American history to whitewash over the influence of the pursuit of religious freedom in the population and founding of our nation. A growing number of high school graduates do not know that our celebration of Thanksgiving has anything whatsoever to do with God or the pursuit of religious freedom.
• The denial of the influence of the Ten Commandments on law and social policy, manifested by the forced removal of the Ten Commandments from the public venue, such as our area courthouses.
• The forced removal of Nativity scenes from community and public buildings, in the name of “freedom from religion.”

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Spiritual Warfare - Part I

This article was published as "Spiritual Warfare" by 4Marks magazine on May 1, 2007. I am assured by the editor, Dan Flaherty, that there is no conflict with my publishing the article elsewhere. I offer it here over the next few days as an installment of continuing thoughts on the matter. - Laura

Fighting the Good Fight
Living as a countercultural people

We are at war. No, not the war that is on the evening news each day, centered in Iraq and Afghanistan; this is a war closer to home, engaging each and every person – with dire and mortal consequences.

It is a war for our immortal souls – and the battleground is our minds.

In the early years of the Christian era, Christians were a decidedly unpopular minority in the known Western world. Their presence was uncomfortable to the status quo; they worshipped a single God who, they insisted, had become man, died and rose again. They rejected the myriad of local deities, so when trouble fell on a city the Christians could be blamed for having offended the gods. In Rome, where the Emperor was deemed a god, the Christians’ refusal to pay homage in the accepted ways became a much more personal offense.

In those early days, Christians were scorned, persecuted, arrested… and condemned to death. Atrocious, horrific deaths.

Out of this hostile climate, the apostles’ writings were easily accessible as more than simple metaphor: fighting the fight, wearing the armor of Christ, engaging in spiritual warfare. The images used by St. Paul in particular provided a multi-dimensional reality easily applicable to the spiritual life; the spiritual and the physical were very much integrated.

When a person from a pagan culture became a Christian, the conversion was a complete turn-around from his former life. Nowhere is this more vividly illustrated than in St. Paul’s Epistles to the Corinthians. Corinth was such an infamous center of moral depravity that even the pagan classical world vilified the most outrageous depravities by associating those behaviors with “playing the Corinthian.”

Yet Corinthians came to Christ and were transformed (I. Cor. 6:9-11)

With the Christian conversion of the Emperor Constantine, circa 312, things began to change. Christians were no longer vilified and persecuted but were recognized as respectable members of society. The Christian influence began to spread throughout the world, above ground and in broad daylight rather than in stealth among the catacombs. The Christian worldview became the socially accepted norm throughout much of Western Civilization for the next 1800 years.

It seems that the pinnacle of a Christian world would have coincided with the Victorian era, when European colonization of Africa and Asia opened the remaining “dark continents” to the infusion of the gospel - by Catholics as well as Protestants - where it had not traveled before (or at least not in many centuries). This was an era in which all decent people were expected to be churchgoers, regardless of their denomination or sect. Laws governing morality were solidly based on the Ten Commandments, and social mores conformed to Judeo-Christian morality, at least publicly.

Of course, this Christian influence has not been without challenge or opposition. Whereas in the apostolic age embracing the Christian faith literally meant embracing a likely death sentence, when Christianity became socially legitimated, it became possible for people to profess a faith they didn’t actually hold. Moreover, throughout history dissenting voices were raised in various cultures and in various ways. Selfish hedonism existed side by side with monastic asceticism. Chaucer’s friar rode side by side with the monk and the young theology student. Francis Bacon, Thomas Hobbes, and Galileo - philosophers of the Age of Enlightenment - were contemporaries of St. Francis de Sales. Yet Judeo-Christian moral and religious values had become the defining elements of civilized society.

Then, in the Victorian era, that pinnacle of Christian socialization and reform, of manners and decency, German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, set the world on its ear by declaring “God is dead.”

It didn’t matter that Nietzsche was on the brink of insanity or that he died in a lunatic asylum; the boldness, the defiance of his statement caught like wildfire. Marxism appealed to a different sort of rebellion. God began to become unpopular again, as first the intellectual elite and then the moral reformers (like Margaret Sanger) became bolder and more outspoken in their contempt for the Christian faith and its accompanying morality.

World War I left many artists and philosophers disillusioned, and their works reflect their anguish at the state of the world. The concept of a Post-Christian era was raised very quickly; Ezra Pound dated his Post-Christian calendar from October 31, 1921, the date James Joyce finished Ulysses.

It takes time for ideas to filter from the elitists to the masses, however; among many sociologists and theologians, the consensus seems to be that the decline of Christian influence on the world reached its crisis point when the Anglican Church stood as the first religious body to formally acquiesce on the issue of contraception. Until that time, all Christian peoples and churches had deplored the use of contraception as a dire opposition to the will of God. From that point, society began a rapid descent into socially accepted depravity.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Better than a birthday -

is a special anniversary.

On November 3, I celebrated the Fifth Anniversary of my reception into Christ's One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Someone said to me that I'm no longer a newcomer, but I do believe if God allows me to live, with all my faculties intact, for another fifty years, I'll never exhaust the riches of this glorious Faith - or, indeed, ever be anything other than a neophyte.

Still in process of applying to Franciscan Univ. - time is flying and I'm not sure where it's gone. But I will have everything DONE this weekend.

Also - VERY big news - my Advocate in my nullity proceeding has written her brief, and my file has gone to the Defender of the Bond and the Judge for a decision. I'm told I should have the entire thing resolved (down to and including the Second Instance) in a couple more months - perhaps by mid-January.

Things are happening rapidly. I'm rather dizzy by it all.

I only pray that Christ will be glorified.


Christine - you gave me a cake! I know I couldn't have eaten the whole thing all by myself!!!! WHAT HAPPENED TO IT????? LOL

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Happy Birthday Laura!

Laura's birthday is the 28th!
(but I won't tell anyone how old she is LOL)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Near occasion of sin?

Ouch! Mary-T, a.k.a. "canon law Mary" - handed me a whammy last night. We were talking about our mutual frustration with a particular web site, when she said, "You know what? I'm just going to have to quit going on there. Whenever I talk to you or anyone else from the site, it's 'what's going on with so-and-so...?'" and all we do is gossip. It really is a near occasion of sin for me!"

And I feel so embarrassed, because she's right. It's a milieu that fosters gossip and criticism and fault-finding and - for me, the smug sense of how much smarter and more sensible I am that other women (and a lot of the men).

For instance: right now there is a thread in which a woman jokes about buying a couple of new coats for her new northern home (she's from warmer climes, originally); the thread develops into a discussion of the "luxuries" considered "necessary indulgances" by the women - be it clothes, cosmetics, books, etc. -

- and I think, y'all are talking about spending more for a damn purse than I can bring home from either of my primary jobs in a month's time!" and I feel self-satisfied that I have no such need for something as vain as a $600 purse to make me feel fabulous!

And in another thread, a woman announces that she sent a man a message which he didn't respond to, so "it's all over." And without knowing a thing more than that, more than twenty-five women have jumped in that thread to commiserate with the woman about what a heel and a snake in the grass said man is for not responding to her message -

- and I think, how absolutely egotistical and even megalomaniacal it is that she should expect the world to revolve around her little two-sentence message. There are a dozen perfectly good reasons why the man didn't respond to her message. Yet. If it's who I think it is, I would add to the list of possibilities that the "relationship" being boasted of in the past couple of weeks is nothing more than a construct of her overfertile imagination. That means - there was nothing to BE OVER.

After all, when we say a relationship is OVER, it must first have existed. It must have had a beginning, a moment of engagement between the parties.

God preserve me from winding up like some of these people, who embarrass the daylights out of me with their folly.

Which is pride, sinful pride on my part, because I presume I'm superior to them.

I'll talk it over with Father, tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Whine alert

I have an ear infection. Pain. Low-grade fever. Sleepless nights x 2, now.

There is a truism floating around that women can endure any amount of pain and sickness and suffering and still muster on in the daily grind.

That truism is a LIE when it comes to me.

When I feel sick, I can't imagine ever feeling well, ever again. I am miserable.

I want a hand to hold and a lap to lay my head in.

[/whine] - for the moment at least.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

What's in your library?

I'm nowhere NEAR done - maybe an optimistic guess is that I've got about 20% of my books entered so far? Still, this is FUN! Check out google Library - as soon as I can figure out how to enter it so my books alone show up, without the "add/delete" stuff for other people to tamper with, I'll post my list.

I think.... it's like this

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A woman's heart

A woman's heart is a great mystery. We women don't even understand it, ourselves. We love when it is wholly irrational to do so, and cannot when it would make so much sense. We come to see things we'd rather not see at all - because the heart is a scope into another person's soul.

We can fight it, we can rage against it - it hardly matters. We will love despite ourselves, and suffer in the process.

I knew I was sunk when one day I suddenly realized, I want to iron his shirts. I don't iron - unless it is absolutely necessary, but suddenly I was overwhelmed with the completely irrational yearning to iron his shirts.

I learned to iron so that my father could have a nice shirt to wear to work. He had to wear uniform shirts, and my mother would take them from the washer and dryer and dump them on the picnic table in the basement (the very picnic table I now use as my desk). He'd come through, trying to get ready for work (he was a long-distance trucker), and he would say, "Do I have a clean shirt to wear?" and she'd look at him from underneath her eyebrows, usually over hte top of a book, and she'd snap, "If you want a shirt, you can iron it yourself!" and for a long time he did - and not any too well, either.

So I learned to iron his shirts, because I adored my daddy and it shamed and infuriated me that my mother, his wife, should despise him so.

I should have known not to marry Danny or Rusty - the thought of ironing their shirts was boring. But now I want to iron his shirts, and I see myself handling the fabric that he wears against his own skin, and it is an act of great service, and love and devotion to a man ... whose shirts I will quite surely never iron.

Such is the complexity and the fickleness of a woman's heart - it betrays not the men, but us, the ones whose heart it's supposed to be.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Terry Gets It

See here, please - a very good set of observations about being Catholic and Gay and the Gay political agenda.

Good goin', Terry. Thank you.

(Thanks to Angela Messenger for the heads-up.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

being faithful

I have wallowed in my own sufferings, some severe and some miserably petty, for so long, it's an amazing relief to be able to look around and not see some catastrophe about to crash in on my head.

However, in the past couple of weeks I've been in a position of learning of other people's sufferings - illnesses, deaths, estrangements from friends, etc. -

I'm selfish. My little respite is so precioius to me, I don't want it disturbed.

But it has to be. God's children don't get time off for good behavior, or prolonged relief from carrying the Cross.

I'm glad I remembered that tonight - It's not so hard to carry on when you know it's a Divine Appointment you're keeping.

Monday, October 08, 2007

A hat-tip to Angela Messenger

Angela Messenger often reports on what I do over here; now it's my great pleasure to applaud her reflections on pride, at her own blog. Thanks, AM, dear!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Giving it all to God

from Rumer Godden's In this House of Brede (New York, Viking Press, 1969):
"And what did you give?" Philippa was serious again."...I was like an orchard where the fruit is ripe, but some has fallen in windfalls, some been spoiled by wasps, some sold... or given away or wasted. The owner comes and gathers what is left and gives it to God. That's what anyone does who gives up in the fullness of her life, leaves it for Him; but the one who comes at nineteen or twenty or even the whole orchard, blossom and fruit and all."

Giving my life to God, to live wholly for His Kingdom, while relinquishing the old dream to love and to belove to someone in marriage, is - for me, it's not yet satisfying.

On the one hand, the old dream does not die at once, but in inches. Loving someone now who does not love in me in at all the same way helps push me along a bit, I think; I never thought I would say, there is one man in all the world for me, but there it is, and so I am freer than ever before to look beyond marriage to living wholly consecrated to God. It is a bittersweet realization.

And on the other, there is this approaching fiftieth birthday and all the reflections of past decisions, and grief for bad choices and a sort of why couldn't I have realized how much there is? before I made some of the crap-awful choices of past years. I've given away and wasted so much of the fruit of my life, when the Master would have kept it far safer for Himself than I was capable of doing.

Still, the Master wants the orchard of our lives whenever we have the capacity to give it all to Him. At this point of my life, I like to think the trees are laden with ripening fruit. Some varieties of apple are mid-summer, like the "horse apples" that my aunt and uncle had on their farm (that made the most wonderful fried apple pies!); some will ripen to be harvested later into the Fall.

Whatever fruit my life is preparing to bear, let it be for Him, and not for myself for a change.

Friday, October 05, 2007

It's looking good -

I've sought counsel from several good people who have an idea of my fundamental capabilities - and I've got to tell you, my favorite response was with one friend whose response to my query, "do I have what it takes?" was

"Oh, hells yeah!"

That made me laugh. I needed to laugh.

So - I've talked via phone with Mary, I've got to call a couple of people in our dioceses for some feedback - but this coming week my major task is to apply to Franciscan University's Distance Learning Program and get my application for a Stafford Loan in the works.

I realize, too, that in going this route I am closer to coming to terms with the likelihood that God is calling me to remain single for the Kingdom. It's not at all what I would choose for myself, but at least I am coming closer to feeling called, not just condemned, to single life.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Birthday Season Commences!

Dear Catalinni had the wonderful habit of celebrating an entire Birthday Season - making the rounds to varied scattered family members during her birthday month and letting them fete her in grand style.

I just caught myself announcing my birthday, coming up October 28 - I'll turn 50 at 8:16 p.m., exactly, if you wish to know.

I've taken a page out of Catalinni's book - Let the Celebrations Begin!
Laissez les Bontemps Roulez!

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You are Lucy!
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Who can imagine ME -

as a canon lawyer?

I mean, this is not a professional ambition common to little Protestant girls.

"So, tell me, young lady - what do you want to be when you grow up?"

"I have always had an intense yearning to study canon law" is not the answer we give.

So - I have a friend from a website, known affectionately as "canon law Mary" because she is named Mary and she is, yes indeedy! a student of the canon law licentiate program at the prestigious St Paul University in Ottawa.

Mary has decided that her first mission in this, her final semester of canon law study, is to persuade me to succeed her as brilliant laywoman scholar at her soon to be alma mater.

Whoa. Wow. Sensory overload, here.

It'll take at least five years. The licentiate program is a 3-year course of study, but I'll have to have some courses in theology and philosophy, 2 years' worth, before I can begin canon law studies. I can obtain those courses through distance learning at several good universities, including Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio.

But that will mean graduating at age 55 or thereabouts... which will still allow me to look forward to some twenty years' service in exchange for my efforts - and, if I'm lucky, the ability to pay off the exorbitant student loans I'll have to take out to go to Ottawa (which is about half the cost of North America's only other canon law licentiate program, Catholic University in Washington, DC)

I'm going to look into it. Had a good soul-searching chat with a friend who is a solid academician this morning, and have contacted a priest friend for counsel.

Y'all pray for me. Y'hear?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Cleaning House!

I've never been a particularly domesticated woman. From the time I was a little girl, wanting to play house, I've been criticized and discouraged and even actively ridiculed - first by my mother, who wasn't capable of rising above the criticism she'd grown up hearing, then by my ex-husband (gay men are invariably more domesticated than most women, anyway)

Compound this little deficiency in my nature by the fact that I fell and ripped a hamstring a couple months ago - sitting, standing (we dubbed it this week-end, un-sitting), climbing steps... ranging somewhere from very uncomfortable to downright agonizing!

My house was a nightmare -

Enter friends: Stephanie. Mary. Emily.

Stephanie lives in Indiana, we talk on the phone a lot. She sort of jump-started the domestication gene long-dormant in my pathetic psyche. She also sent me the most gorgeous teacup, a graceful elegant thing of such feminine lines and proportions that I can hardly take my eyes off it. The cup was part of her grandmother's collection.
Mary lives in Texas. She recently sent me a set of dishes - red, Churchill dishes, again far more elegant than anything I've ever dreamed of choosing for myself.
Emily lives down the road in Charlotte. She gave me warm hospitality when I sang at the Eucharistic Congress last week, and I was so delighted with her little house, she offered to come help me with mine.

She came on Saturday. She was a busy worker bee, helping shift furniture, vacuuming in the odd corners I currently can't reach, pulling odd pieces from hiding places and setting them in a place of prominence. She set me to sewing curtains (the machine broke, my curtains are being hand-sewn) and ordered me about with meal-making while she did a regular "House Invaders" job for me.

I LOVE my house now! One more room to finish on my own, and it will become a "formal" dining room -
Photos coming eventually, okay?

Monday, October 01, 2007

Hi' y'all from Angela Messenger!

Greetings to the folks who are checking out the blog from Angela Messenger's - I need to respond to Angela's recent gift to me - a blog award! but it will have to be tomorrow. I took Tylenol PM and the "PM" is kicking in like crazy.


Friday, September 28, 2007

Could there be Beauty -

I'm reading a marvelous book, Captivating, by John and Staci Eldredge. Staci is a former/lapsed Catholic; she and John write for an Evangelical press. I have actually read this book once before; last year, going to Raleigh to sing with the Master Chorale, I went into Barnes & Noble one afternoon and read this book over a latte grande... and journalled like a fiend - This month, when I had a bit of money to spare, I had to buy it for myself.

This idea that each woman is created as a Beauty is disconcerting to me. You see, all my life, I have believed that I ranged from Plain to Mostly Ugly. No, I couldn't play dress-up, my mother told me; I was too rough, too careless, too clumsy; I would tear or break or dirty.... Every compliment about my prettiness was always responded to with a disapproving look and "Pretty is as Pretty does." I was rough, clumsy, etc., so obviously I could not be pretty. The message was even more firmly packed into my mind during my first marriage; homosexual men don't particularly care about the beauty or worthiness of a woman, except as how it might reflect on them.

So - I'll be fifty years old in a month, and all these years I've thought of myself as "plain." All for the simple reason that I didn't deserve any better.

I don't know who some of the readers of this blog are - there are some locations that I recognize (Linda, God love you for your loyalty!) and some that make me wonder... despite the possible risk of being discovered, I want to tell a story about myself, a story that reading Captivating has caused me to relive, vividly, this evening.

It was nearly two years ago. I had met a fellow Catholic at Chorale, had quickly come to admire him in that way that is dangerous for a woman like me - that fervent admiration for a man's character, intellect, accomplishments, and in this case, his Faith. I longed for every opportunity to be in his presence, to engage in conversation with him, because somehow, in his company, I did not dislike myself so very much, because he awakened good and noble things in me that I had lost along the years.

We attended Mass together one Sunday after one of our concerts. He followed me to the parish with the late Mass, and I waited as he rummaged in the back of his vehicle for the umbrella, as it was a grey, drizzly evening. He opened the umbrella and held it over my head -

and I had one thought: either I am going to walk half in and half out from under this thing, or "the girls" are going to keep bumping into him. Terribly embarrassing thought, that! and without deliberating, I reached up and took his arm to steady myself against the probable awkwardness of ... ahem. cough. (shhh - boob assault)

He looked down at me and smiled the gentle smile that I love, and he snugged his arm, with my hand in it, against his side, and I was starkly aware for the first time what a strong, sophisticated, and virile man he is.

We walked into Church, talking until we reached the entryway to the Church - he had me proceed him down the aisle, he motioned me into the pew ahead of him. He lowered the kneeler before I could hook my foot over it and draw it down (my mindless habit) - We prayed side by side, worshipped Christ in the Holy Eucharist; at Communion, he motioned me to precede him in the reception line - After Mass he held my cape and gently draped it across my shoulders....

I've never felt this way, before or since - for one hour, in the presence of a strong and good man, I felt myself to be sweeter and gentler, more womanly, than I have ever known myself to be. The unremitting necessity of self-sufficiency was for a sweet hour lifted from me - I felt shy, a stranger to myself.

And it was only an hour - but its effect on me has never fully dissipated. I read this book, and I relive the rush of awareness, the sensibility of parts of myself I'd never been awakened to before...

And I am grateful that I have been allowed this even-fleeting touch of such strength and goodness in a man that opened my soul to this other, repressed Laura - whom I want to know better and to give full development to.

I almost doubt her existence; perhaps it was just a strange but predictable combination of hormones and chemicals in the air that gave me that glorious hour - and therefore it cannot have been an ontological self awakened, at all -

The struggle with weight - no, there has been no struggle, because until tonight I have left unquestioned and unchallenged the certainty of my own ugliness - my core, fundamental, ontological ugliness.
The struggle to keep house, to bring order and beauty to my intimate dwelling place - a reflection of my perennial condemnation to not being good enough, not being worthy of anything good...

But I remember the twinkle in his eyes as I took his arm that afternoon - and I remember the way he held my high school portrait and studied it - studied it! not just casting a careless polite glance at something so outdated and irrelevent! - and the smile that played about his lips as he looked at the girl I used to be and said, "I think I know this girl."

And tonight I am compelled to question my own self-doubt and self-loathing.

Because of the strength and influence of a good man.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I am Yours, O Lord -

My dreams, my desires, the yearnings of my heart -
I place in Thy Hands, O Lord.
Do with me as Thou wilt -
with my life, my abilities, my ambitions -
(not that I have many ambitions, but what I have are Yours)-
My affections, my hopes,
All things belong to Thee.
I will follow You where You call me -
only let Your voice come clearly to my inner ear
so that I might not confuse it with other noise of my ego's wants.

Be glorifed, dear Lord - in and through and even,
when we must be blunt about it -
In spite of me.

So God said "No - "

... to whatever it was you were begging Him for. Maybe it was that job, or the miracle to save your marriage, or the life of your child -

And you did everything you were told you are supposed to do -
You prayed the novenas, you fasted, you made other sacrifices, you were careful not to step on cracks and you stood on your head...

And, oh, your faith was immense -

And God still said, "No."

We are told - by well-meaning people who can't bear to tell us the truth, by popular movements, by our "authority figures" - that if we just play the game right, God will honor the desires of our heart -

Actually, what we're often told is that, if we just follow this particular formula, God has obligated Himself to do what we wish.

That's a pagan idea, worse than a heresy; God does not subject Himself to our whims and wills -

But we, in our utter desparation, believe, we cling to every bit of flotsam within reach, because we are desparate to receive what we want.

When God says "No," it doesn't mean that we failed. Oh! how we can beat ourselves up over that! - I must have done something wrong, I must have spoken the words (the incantation?) out of order, I must have failed in some capacity - my faith must not have been strong enough -

No. God is only exercising His Divine Right as the Almighty Creator of the Cosmos - His omniscience that there are greater fruits ahead.

When I saw the mom's fevered prayer request for the life of her son, back last fall, I knew that he would die, and I feared for the woman, because her prayer request was worded in such a way that I knew she had bought into this neopagan notion that God can be bought. Sure enough, the boy died a couple of weeks ago, and I have gotten word that she - who was absolutely defiant in the face of his failing health: "Mary will do what I ask her to do!" - has reached a bad place, a bleak and miserable place.

With the very certainty that I foresaw the boy's death, I also saw that his death would be the catalyst to bring many souls into the Kingdom of God. Sometimes we can do more for Our Lord when we are denied what we want - and this is going to be such a case. I believe it with all my being.

Pray for this family, please -
and don't doubt God's mercy, or His power, just because He won't play our games.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Okay. More than two months since my last post. I think one of the things I dislike about blogging is that it isn't interactive enough. My life isn't exciting enough, and my thoughts and insights are not profound enough, to justify sitting here putting them out into blogland as if the fate of the Nation rested on my shoulders.

I enjoy feedback, dialogue. I like being told something I said in a website was smart, or outrageously funny... heck, I even get a kick out of a good fight once in a while!

That just doesn't happen in a blog. It's a monologue that gets thrown out into cyberspace in a perennial echo... and for all I can tell doesn't make a spit bit of difference anywhere, to anyone.

So - what is happening in my life the past two months?

Early August, I fell getting out of the bathtub. My left foot hit the linoleum and just k-e-p-t o-n g-o-w-i-n-g.... Honey, I couldn't do splits as a preschooler! Let's just say it wasn't a pretty sight - and for the life of me, I couldn't get my right foot off the floor of the bathtub! The scary thing was when I felt something rip (and heard it too - that is ONE GROSS SOUND) and I realized the phone was half way down the other end of the house and I was completely and totally alone. But I was able to eventually pull my right foot out of the tub, stand up and hobble off to bed. Then I got out of bed, went to the kitchen, got an ice pack out of the freezer, too the last of my post-oral-surgery hydrocodone and went back to bed. I was able to sleep, and a friend helped me look up on the internet and verify that I had a pulled hamstring...

The next day, Saturday, I went to housesit for friends going out of town. Steps going in to the house from every door. Steps up to the showers and bedrooms. My knees took a beating, compensating for the hamstring injury. I'm still recovering from that.

I have a couple of photos from the Eucharistic Congress in Charlotte, which was this past weekend. That was a real treat - I sang with the combined choir on Friday night, had a solo in the dona nobis pacem of the Mozart Coronation Mass - a very nice experience overall.

Got to see and meet Father Benedict Groeschel - he was the Friday night speaker, talked about Eucharistic Adoration. When I download his photo I'll post more about his talk.

I'm not singing with the Master Chorale this season, but decided to try to cultivate a local social outlet so am singing with our local county choral society. The music is not nearly of the same calibre (that will be another post - I had to pick a horrible year NOT to sing with the NCMC) - but again, it's a local group and will give me an opportunity to meet people in my own community. I need that.

Okay - Josh, if you pop back in, I'm back LOL - God bless you, dear friend! and bless you in your seminary studies.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

There must be more than one moral to this story...

I ought not to laugh, but I can't help it - it's just too........

Maybe people who have neglected repairs to houses, left them vacant too long, not kept up wiht mowing... ? What do you think?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

He's done it now -

Oh, that Bubba has really gone and done it now. Woke me up at 6:30, "talking" to me a mile a minutes - then starts making the most disgusting noise...
The damned cat had brought a half-eaten rat up onto my bed. Absolutely disgusting! Nasty! Revolting! GROSS!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

When God says "I Love You"

It often doesn't come with trumpet blasts and verifiable miracles. Sometimes it comes with the bluebird perched on a branch of the dogwood right outside the living room window - or the vivid blue of the spiderwort in the roadside bank.

Returning from my evening walk, just a few minutes ago, a bit of movement from the other side of my house caught my eye; it was three deer. I'm sorry that I did not have my camera with me, and they were too far away to have gotten a decent photo anyway. They stood, frozen in their suspicious awareness of me. By the time I reached the back door, they were bounding toward the woods at the back of the field.

I often see deer tracks cutting into the sand in my yard, but it is not as common as I would enjoy to see them so close to the house in broad daylight. It was truly a great treat, and it felt as if God were sending me a brief love letter.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Prayers for Tammy Faye -

Tammy Faye Messner, former wife of shamed and ousted televangelist Jim Bakker, is dying of cancer, according to her son, Jay.

What I find even more shocking than Jim Bakker's grievous and scandalous misconduct, back in the day, is the revelation that Jay Bakker is connected to the gay cult, the Metropolitan Community Church, according to the article linked, above.

May God have mercy on Tammy Faye, grant her a peaceful death and eternal salvation, and deliver her and her family from all evil.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Go, Father Z, Go!

Father Z demonstrates how our dear Papa Bennie is making all the right people mad these days -
Pray for the health and safety of our dear Papa! And pray for the health of the Church Universal.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Having introduced you to Bubba....

I thought you might like to see what Precious looks like. She's a small cat, only about ten pounds, max? but she'll stand down a big old dog like Tucker, who weighs probably close to 80 lbs.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

I'm going to start a new cuss word -

Yep. Sounds absolutely scandalous, doesn't it?

It should. I'm house- and pet-sitting for friends this week, lovely home about eight miles from my home. I spend nights there and come home to my place to work in the mornings. I bring Tucker, the dog, with me.

Tucker, if you are interested, is a sharpei-golden retriever mix.

On Tuesday, I decided that what I really wanted to do, while the weather was so nice and moderate and dry, was to spray the poison ivy that's threatening to take over my yard again. So I mixed up Round-Up (the only time I use this stuff is on poison ivy) and headed outdoors. A stroll along the driveway led to a stroll around the back yard, which led to a stroll in the woods...

Tucker has come back with ticks (so much for the value of Frontline) and I, my friends, am covered in chigger bites. My waist, arms, legs...

Yep - definitely worthy of becoming a cuss word. Forget those words alluding to bodily functions - let a new generation of profanity arise, founded in disgust over objects not wholly-enough separate from ourselves: CHIGGERS.

Next new cussword: tobacco hornworms!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Fourth of July

We are experiencing very mind weather here this year - it was in the low 60s this morning and only mid-80s now. I picked tobacco hornworms off the tomato plants, tried to mow the yard (mower choked out and so I'll have to try after it - and I - "rest" a bit). After while, I'm going to check where I can take Tucker and see some FIREWORKS.

and I splurged and had a bowl, a big bowl, of chocolate ice cream!

Y'all have fun, stay cool, try to behave, now.

Monday, July 02, 2007

How will your obituary read?

Once again, the obituary read, "She was an avid golfer...." Down here in golf country, that's not surprising - most people move here from other parts of the country for the golf, when they retire.

But it's sad, too, that a life that has ended, a soul sent on its way to God for the Final Judgment, should be celebrated and remembered for something so superficial as chasing a little ball around and trying to hit it into a little hole in the ground.

When I die, I want my obituary to read of my conversion, my love of God and His Church, my eagerness to share the Faith... I don't know that it would, since my survivors are hardly likely themselves to care about such things. But it's what I aspire to.

How should we live, in order to merit a more substantial memorial than "she was an avid golfer"?

Monday, June 25, 2007




That caught the rat
That joined the mouse
Brought out of the rain
And laid in the hall
(Both dead)
That woke me up at 4:30 a.m.
Meowing to announce his prowess
and Scared me to pieces -
All in the house that Laura built!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Happy Saturday!

I went across the creek to a produce stand this a.m. to pick up a cantalope for breakfast (I am determined to TRY to "do it right" in this weight-loss business, and that means eating three meals a day - so I have to learn to eat breakfast of some description, right?) -

I love this time of year! Even with flies and other bugs (I did put a fresh fly strip up in the kitchen this a.m. - flies will slip in the open windows and door especially in the face of a weather front) - I love the way everything smells, and the way I feel.

The produce had just come out of the cooler. I wish they'd leave it out, but it would go overripe in no time if they did that. We need to develop a better marketing system for fresh produce, you know? - anyway, the cantalope was warm enough to have a light perfume to it and a nice firm texture, so I bought it, and in a few minutes I'll go into the kitchen, cut it up and eat it with a 1/2-cup of cottage cheese. Wonderful flavor combinations!

and I bought a small basket of peaches. Six peaches in a basket for $2.50 - that's a little more than $.40 per peach! ridiculous! but we're lucky to have any peaches at all after the hard freeze, Easter weekend.

And then - the Lamberts have just started carrying flowers this year - I found the sweetest flower. Have you ever heard of - Indian feathers, I think it's called? It's sweeping grassy stems with the most deliciously pale, delicate pink blossoms. I just had to have one - at $4.00 for a little plant.

I got the first squash out of my garden yesterday, both yellow and zucchini. I picked the little squash while they were still tiny enough the blossoms were still attached. Later on today I'm going to try a squash blossom omelet from the book French Women Don't Get Fat. the squash themselves, I sauteed last night in butter and olive oil - they were crisp but light and had the most wonderful flavor!

I've struggled all these years with self-image, not knowing what to do with my womanhood - all those "feminine gifts" seeming so alien to me. I feel as if the blockage is being shifted, and bit by bit, in trickles and sometimes gushes, like water escaping a dammed-in pond, I'm discovering what a delight it is to be a woman, and to live as a child of God, revelling in His many gifts of beauty and sweetness.

Happy Summer Saturday, y'all!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Gee, Angela - give a gal a chance to recover -

from a trip to the dentist's!
I thought the tooth was going to have to come out; instead my favorite "Caters to Cowards" (yep! that's me!) dentist - Mark Thompson - actually was able to do a gorgemous composite filling. My chipped incisor looks like new, and my poor old molar looks good enough to move around to the front of my mouth!

but I do need a nap. Badly.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Hello Again, Naturally -

Back in... March, was it? I announced my intentions to drop off the face of the earth where Catholic Match is concerned. Well, it wasn't as easy as I thought.

One of the reasons these sites are so popular is that the fora are entertaining. CM offers the options of on-site emails and brief messages they call "emotes" - a charming easy way to exchange brief messages between members. It's fun.

And for a gal living with two cats, it's an easy and mostly-pleasing distraction.

Okay - I'll make a public confession: I also had a little bit of a "following" over there - a group of women ranging in age from their late teens to their 60s, who thought (or at least said) I am wise and witty and simply wonderful...

Not wonderful enough to stay in touch with now that I've actually pulled the plug and removed my profile, mind you... ah, the public are such a fickle bunch! LOL -

But certainly wonderful enough to gush to me and generally feed my ego in a major way.

So - I'm back. and frankly, I'm not sure I have an awful lot to say. I wrote four articles for CM/4Marks magazine - you can go to and click on the magazine link: look for my wit and wisdom (choke!) in January, February, March and May. The March article is trash - literally a rough draft I sent to the editor because he was begging me to send him something - so of course it is the article that has received the most attention. My best article, "Spiritual Warfare," for the May issue, is buried in the Apologetics section while a poem of questionable quality and an over-circulated email text received Headline status.

I want to break into paying markets. That is my career goal for this summer.

and, meantime, it wouldn't hurt to posts in here more often, even pontificating a bit and being a general BORE, right?

I see I get an average of 3 views per day. Angela - how many of those are yours, Dear Heart? Well, here's a crumb. We'll see how long I can sustain this blogging stuff this time.

Love y'all - you're in my prayers.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Holy Week - Triduum

I love the Triduum. The 3-act drama celebrating the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord is my favorite time of the year.

It is grueling, through, particularly for our priests, who have extensive meetings and extra Masses with the Bishops this week (for this is the week we also remember how Christ established the Holy Priesthood) I didn't get to go to a chrism Mass this year, over which I'm rather disappointed.

For me, the work begins this evening, with the Mass of the Lord's Supper. It's a bilingual Triduum, and the combined choirs are splitting off the music between us. The "Anglo" choir is not doing much tonight, but Father did as me to lead the Pange, Lingua and Tantum Ergo.

My friend Stephanie pointed out a couple weeks ago that the Enemy of our souls, Satan, really hates this time of year and works overtime to trip us up and cause us suffering and temptation. I had never thought of it before, but this year it's quite clear she's right.

Could it be in part because this year I'm engaged in a 54-day novena, the first of which ends... on Good Friday?

This means, to me, that we are particularly obligated to hold one another up during this Holy Season. Even when I don't "feel" like it, even when I'm convinced I'm a loser and a dope and when I feel like I'm on the brink of craziness, I will pray for you. God bless and keep you - may He be glorified through us.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Catalinni - Final update

She joked about being voted off the island, but no one wanted to see her leave. God had other plans, though, and yesterday, at about 12:45 Pacific Time, my dear friend Catalinni entered Eternity.

I posted about her almost two years ago, when I was a new blogger - you can find that in the archives.

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and may perpetual Light shine upon her. May her soul, and all the souls of the faithful departed, rest in peace. Amen.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

A recent article features a letter written by the brother of Terry Schiavo to Bishop Lynch of the Diocese of St. Petersburg, Florida.

In the letter, Bobby Schindler says:
"The barbarism and nightmare of Terri's two week death by thirst and starvation will be forever seared into my family's memory. It is incomprehensible to us that a nation supposedly built on basic Judeo- Christian principles would allow something so wicked to happen. That is, until one realizes that just as the Culture of Death made a triumphal entry into our nation in 1973, via legalized abortion, without so much as a whimper of protest from those with the God-given authority to stop it, so now our disabled and elderly are being targeted for death. The bottom line is, when apostolic grace and responsibility are abdicated, innocent people die.[emphasis mine]

This whole idea of Christian quietism, or passivism if you will, has been much on my mind of late. We are living in a major cultural crisis: flagrant pornography passed as entertainment, legal rulings outlawing ordinary observations of our Christian heritage, such as the posting of the Ten Commandments in public venues, and a secularization of culture that makes life cheap.

We live in a world gone mad, in fact, gone mad because "good Christian people" have not had the backbone to say, first, "NO!" and even now, "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH."

Education... our educational system is cultivating generations of sheep prime for social engineering, and parents are not concerned what their children are reading and discussing, or not reading and discussing or learning in the classroom. The fundamentals of education - parts of speech, the multiplication tables and other basic math functions - that actually provide early concrete training in rational thinking have been supplanted by the conveniences of modern technologies.

We are at war, but we are also, as the late Keith Green put it, "Asleep in the Light."

We are supposed to be a countercultural people, living in accordance with the customs and traditions of a Heavenly Kingdom, of which we are subjects and heirs.

There is no question, there can be no complacent waiting for the pendulum to begin to swing back toward center of its own accord; we are the force behind the direction of the pendulum. The time is upon us to awaken from our slumber, abandon our comfort zones, and raise the cry for our nation, yea, our very world, to stop the insanities of atheistic secularism and to begin to return to God.

This generation of believers is responsible for this generation of souls, something else Green proclaimed. We are responsible; we are accountable.

Let us put on the full armor of Christ and engage in the Good Fight.

Lord, have mercy on us.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Standing up for the Truth

You probably know that I participate on several web fora. I don't do a lot of posting, overall, not compared to some, but when I post, I say what I think and unless you can address my thoughts and show me the fallacy of my position, I do not back down.

This gets interesting when posting to other women. Some women are so naive and gullible. They want everyone to be all hearts and flowers and everything to be beautiful all the time .... and part of that sweetness and light is for everyone to just all get along and no one to make waves..........

We can't all be right. If there is a real Truth in the world - and as Catholics we are all about Truth, not some subjective "my truth and your truth," but THE TRUTH - then we have to become adults and accept that compromises from THE TRUTH are a LIE, and LIES are DANGEROUS. We have to take our thumbs out of our mouths and drop the blankie where it lays and take up the Armor of Christ and get with the work God has given us.

That's what I want to do. I hope I can do it gracioiusly, but I'm afraid I'm ... forthright is a word I have encountered lately. I've also been accused of being "mean."

Look, if you want me to take you seriously, don't cry, "You're MEAN!" like some six-year old. Address my position, show me my error. But don't get into personalities, okay?

Friday, March 23, 2007

I have decided -

Reading Christine Northrup's Wisdom of Menopause and I've made some decisions:

1. I am a happy person. I may have the odd "down" moment, but fundamentally I am very happy. I like being me, I like my life... (okay, I'd like to have more money, but not be a millionaire, just ... in the $20s and $30s would be very nice indeed)

2. Men are nice. Two of them jumped to my rescue last Saturday night when I had a flat tire on my way home from a St Pat's "do." One held a door open for me yesterday. Yep! Men are very nice!

3. I am never going to retire. I am going to continue doing church work, writing and teaching until I die.

4. I am going to sqeeze all the Joy out of life that I can. Beginning right now. I'm going to go take my walk, fix my lunch, pick up and deposit my paycheck and pay some bills... visit the library... and just have a fantastic weekend, too. Tomorrow I'm going to Confession, and I'm going to find some local enrichment activity to sink my teeth into, also.

There! It's not much, but it's a start of a life blueprint for the rest of my days, don't you think?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Do You Know Your Catechism?

You are a 100% traditional Catholic!

Congratulations! You are more knowlegeable than most modern theologians! You have achieved mastery over the most important doctrines of the Catholic Faith! You should share your incredible understanding with others!

Do You Know Your Baltimore Catechism?
Make Your Own Quiz

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Biting the hand that feeds me

I've been very fortunate to have had several articles published by the Catholic Match Magazine over the past four months. It's been good experience for me, and my articles have received very gratifying responses.

I don't get paid cash for the work; I'm paid in full membership privileges. Catholic Match is one of those sites you have to pay to participate on. I have full access to all the fora, posting privileges, email, emote, and chat access. I've been quite active since early November, I've made some delightful friends, men and women, and I'm glad I gave it a try -

But I have also decided that this online dating game is not for me.

In fact, I'm even more leery of it now than I was beforehand. I've seen a multitude of couples test the waters and then break up - I've seen women lament that their attempts to make contact with appealing men are ignored, I've seen men lament similar difficulties. The sex-segregated rooms, St. Anne's for the women and St Joachim for the men, are havens of personal revelations that have been an education, to be sure.

I think one of the worst problems with a site like this is that - let's face it: this place attracts men and women who have had no success getting along with people in real life. Except for my buddy Matt, who introduced me to the site (and who joined, I think, as a shortcut to being acquainted with potentially like-minded Catholics while he was brand new to our area - at least, I dearly hope that was all his motive), most people there have histories as long as my arm of failed relationships, many of them abusive and exploitive.

Just last night, one of the "pinkies" (women's room regulars) started a thread complaining how disgusted with the men on the site she is. She's decided to try to make it up with her local boyfriend, a man she has regularly come crying to us about - she caught him smoking dope, she was frightened because he expected physical intimacy from her that she didn't want to give him... but he's there, and he sends her flowers and what the hey, he feeds the homeless at the restaurant he owns, and that of course makes him a Living Saint.

It's a self-perpetuating loony asylum in there.

I was contacted by a fellow this week, a man who'd read my most recent article on chastity as a synonym for modesty and who wanted to thank me - and, while he had the opportunity, to complain about the women on the fora who stalk him and are so disgustingly immodest in their speech and conduct. A series of emails ensued - he sent me 2 to every 1 I sent him - and it quickly became obvious that this disgruntled man has such unrealistic expectations of human behavior that it is impossible to please him. He was particularly offended by the local affectionate term for the men's room: The Cave.

Thinking he was brand new (he's not, he's incognito in a "new" identity so as to "hide" from his former fiancee who stalked him after he broke off their engagement a couple of years ago), I explained that the Cave gets its name as a good-humored tease of the stereotype of men as neanderthals, and as a nod to John Grey, who says that men retreat to "the cave" when they have a problem to solve. This explanation only further offended my correspondant, who challenged me: "What if I were to call you a redneck?"

"Fred, I am a redneck!"

"Well, what about your weight, then? Wouldn't that offend you? It should!"

"Fred, you can call me obese, you can call me fat, you can call me a tub of lard - I really do not care. My weight does not define who I am - it only pertains to one aspect of my overall appearance. It's all a matter of having a SENSE OF HUMOR..." which poor Fred has none, by all appearances.

I'm also impressed, negatively, by the number of women who cling to rotten, abusive relationships with controlling, manipulative, and abusive men - because these guys baited them with romantic gestures and words from the very beginning of their relationships, "It was so perfect! I really thought he was The One!" they lament.

I feel like a bloomin' fish out of water in that website. I feel out of step and increasingly annoyed, disgrunted, and downright ticked off, particularly at the women. I've tried to speak Truth every way I know how - I had an article published called "Reflections on Love," in which I spoke of the difference between attraction, infatuation, and love - and about the dangers of codependency. I take a stand for sense and self-respect in the Pink Room (women's room) every chance I get. I cheer women on, I urge them to respect themselves and not to allow the men they think they love to abuse or exploit them, but to seek healthy, mutually balanced relationships -

It's like talking to a brick wall. Or, like my old Professor told us, a Korean proverb: "Spit straight up. Learn something."

I've dropped out of the Master Chorale. In addition to being swamped through Easter, I feel increasingly a need to cultivate LOCAL relationships and social outlets. It's ridiculous to place all my energies in relationships with people 86 miles away when I have a community here to cultivate and engage in. I don't know whether I'll ever see my Chorale friends again - and that makes me terribly sad. They are dearer to me than I ever expected them to be. But it's time to live in the real world, in my own community-

Yes, this community I've been wanting to escape for thirty years -

and I suppose this is the place to begin.