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!