Wednesday, March 31, 2010

New York Times Lies Proven Again and Again

I've continued to follow the mainstream media's slander of the Pope, the Vatican and Catholics in general and have a few more websites I would strongly suggest reading. The first is an article written by Father Thomas Brundage, JCL, who was the Judicial Vicar for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee from 1995-2003. He's the one who the New York Times misquoted and he uses this article to set the record straight. The second article is a look at what the Pope and the Vatican knew and when they knew it, by Jimmy Akin. Last is A Response to the New York Times by Father Raymond J. de Souza.

Together (or separately) the article make up quite a bit of reading, but they really give one a clear understanding of how incredibly off the mainstream media is and leave one asking whether there is any possible way that this was just a huge journalistic mistake (which I think, for the record, is unlikely) or whether it's just another example of the anti-Catholicism that the New York Times proudly displays on a regular basis.

Two very important facts become clear in all three articles. They are facts that are left out of most mainstream media attacks, because they don't make a great story (if one is intent on building a case against the Vatican). The first is that the case was reported to the police back when the abuse was still going on (decades before word of it got to the Vatican) and the investigation was closed. This isn't a matter of higher ups in the Catholic world covering for a pedophile priest. The police were notified. They didn't find enough evidence at the time (although they certainly should have) to go forward.

The second is that at any point Archbishop Weakland could have begun his own investigation at any time after taking office. You may remember the former Archbishop from his own scandal. Weakland (who was rather sniveling and pathetic in his ABC interview and was intent on passing the buck on to the Vatican, which is hardly surprising) became Archbishop of Milwaukee in 1977 (although by then Murphy had already been granted "temporary sick leave" from the school and had returned home to live with his mother where he spent the rest of his life without an assignment).

Now you may be wondering where Cardinal Ratzinger becomes a part of this story. It happens more than twenty years after the original abuse allegations take place when Archbishop Weakland (who had apparently twiddled his thumbs and done nothing for nearly two decades) decides to write Cardinal Ratzinger a letter. At this point the authority over sex abuse cases still belongs to the Roman Rota (and will for another five years) but because the Murphy abuse involves the sacrament of confession he writes to the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith.

At this point Fr. Souza notes that Archbishop Weakland could have proceeded in this case at any time over the course of the previous 19 years when he became Archbishop. Because the incidents involved confession he would have had to notify Rome, but he still could have acted as Archbishop to rectify the situation on his own. Instead HE did nothing.

This is where Jimmy Akins response is important because he analyzes the reaction at the Vatican and notes that there is no evidence that the case even came before Cardinal Ratzinger. All the paperwork shows that it was handled by the secretary of the congregation, now Cardinal Tarciso Bertone. And the response from the the CDF: "Go ahead. Prosecute." That response isn't really the one the press is portraying though (again, it doesn't make a good story).

The CDF even overruled the statute of limitations so that the case could go forward (something that wouldn't have been necessary if the Archbishop had done his job in the first place).

After living with his mother for decades Fr. Murphy died before the case was completed (it should be noted that there were still charges against him though and that they had not been dismissed as the media claims).

Nearly a decade later, right after the hugely unpopular health care plan passes (despite the outcry from the Catholic Church,) the case is suddenly smeared across every news outlet in the country. It's a diversionary tactic. Unfortunately too many people are too excited to see negative news about the Church to realize that the stories just aren't true.

I hope we see a lawsuit against the Times for this one. Their outright lies have flourished this week and I can't help but think that it isn't an accident

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Mommy Made Project #7- Mother Goose Bubble Dress

This project is different from all the others. So far my outfits have (for the most part) come out of one pattern envelope. They are from See & Sew pattern #3889. It even has the words "Yes! It's Easy!" written across it. And really, when compared with the other "easy" patterns I've been looking at, it is significantly less complicated and has fairly clear instructions (from the point of view of someone who knew absolutely nothing starting out).

See & Sew #3889 came with a dress pattern, a shirt pattern and a pants pattern. When I sewed the last pattern I made the shirt longer, but haven't changed much else. This however was my first real "experiment." Technically you could say that I used a pattern. I took the shirt pattern from the envelope and cut out the outside shell of the top in the Mother Goose Fabric. Then, instead of just doing a little lining like the pattern calls for, I cut out the same outside size in red, so that the entire thing was lined.

After that I made a red "belt" divider that I sewed to the outside and the inside of the top. I also doubled the size of the straps and made the outside red and the bottom side mother goose (the little thin straps are just such a pain to turn right side out and I like how they look when they are slightly thicker).

Once that was done I made two giant squares that were part mother goose material (about 75%) and part red (about 25%), sewed them together and gathered them into a skirt. I knew that the top was going to be long (according to the picture I had in my head), but I misjudged the skirt (I was picturing something a little shorter). When I tried it on Sadie after stitching everything together it touched the tops of her feet. It wasn't quite what I had in mind for a play dress (you can see the picture of it before I changed it at the very bottom).

So I decided to make the skirt into a "bubble skirt." I understitched the lining down and then pinned the skirt up next to the lining so it was half the length it had been before. I had to pleat it every few inches, because the bottom was so much wider than the top, but it worked perfectly and it gave the skirt a lot of bounce.

Here's the end result:

Sadie still wasn't really cooperating when the camera came out!


Brushing her hair before Mass. The pants made it warm enough (with a sweater) to wear out today. Although it hadn't started snowing at that point!


Constant motion! Sadie does her "hummingbird" dance. We've had a lot of hummingbirds around here lately.


The dress before I fixed the length. Even Sadie wasn't overly impressed with it!


Now on to my next project! I'm thinking red and white striped pants with a blue and white star top. I still have more of my patriotic material to use. Sadie is going to be ready for the summer holidays this year!

Monday, March 29, 2010

A Good Post on the Present Media Attacks

Father Longenecker over at Standing on My Head has had quite a few great posts lately. I always enjoy reading his blog, but these really stood out. Here's an excerpt from one that sums up what's going on right now pretty well. I strongly suggest reading the entire post and the one above it:
"Secularism begins by being tolerant and 'open minded' about religion. This benevolent face of secularism does not last long. It is a sort of atheism which does not realize it is atheism. This 'atheism by default' soon becomes angry and aggressive towards organized religion and the more organized the religion, and the more dogmatic the religion, the more this atheism reacts--first with ridicule, then with organized resistance and finally with aggressive attacks. The 'atheism by default' becomes fully fledged aggressive atheism gradually without people noticing.

The second force in the attack is linked with the first. Along with secularism goes moral relativism--which is a nice word for total sexual license. What seems to be 'free love' soon turns violent towards any force that seeks to criticize it. Those who live outside marriage, those who pursue homosexualism, those who pursue promiscuity and a permissive lifestyle soon come to hate themselves, and one another and their mutual self hatred joins forces and is inevitably directed towards anyone or any group they perceive to be disapproving of their wanton lifestyle.

When these two forces of moral relativism and secular atheism come together and face the Catholic faith, be prepared for the perfect storm.

Read the history of the papacy and you will see that the attack will always come at the head of the church. The Pope will be attacked. He set out from the beginning of his papacy a direct attack on what he calls 'the dictatorship of relativism.' We should not be surprised when the dictator strikes back."

Read the entire blog post here.

OxiClean Review: Fighting Toddler Stains on Power Pak at a Time

A few weeks ago I received these two free samples from OxiClean to try out and blog about. The package on the left are OxiClean MaxForce Power Paks and the one on the right is a OxiClean MaxForce Gel Stick.


I was pretty excited when they finally arrived. You see, I've always been one of those people who sees products on infomercials ) and thinks "oh that looks great" but never actually goes to the phone to order them.


So having OxiClean delivered to our P.O. Box was perfect and I was eager to try the new products out!


In this house we certainly have stains. We have tractor grease stains, alongside grass and mud stains. We've recently discovered that mashed up avacado can leave quite a tough stain (who knew?) and lately I've started getting the clumsy, pregnancy related stains because I am A) clumsy from being so huge and B) have a stomach that sticks out a lot and catches anything that I drop. We also discovered last week that sand can actually stain if you grind it into your shirt while playing with it (that was another surprise!). Besides that we have all the other typical toddler stains that come when a toddler is just mastering the use of a fork and spoon.


I, however, was not the first one to use my new OxiClean Power Paks. Paul swiped two (count 'em 2!!!) out of the bag the day that they arrived and tossed them in to wash the sheets from the cabin. I, who was obsessively planning my laundry test run, was a little annoyed to hear his glowing report of soft, beautifully smelling bright white sheets (and with the amount of laundry we had building up I was a little nervous he would use them all before I had a chance to try them out!).


Then Sadie got ahold of the Stain Stik and attempted to hold it hostage. I finally got it back from her, dug out the toughest set in stain I could find and set to work. Here's a quick stain recap:


Here Sadie is on one of our few snowy days this year. She has on her favorite pink mittens. Now to understand Sadie's love of her pink mittens, you have to understand her complete obsession with the nursery rhyme "The Three Little Kittens." She wears them inside. She wears them outside. She brings them over when we read the rhyme and shows me that she has her mittens and isn't a naughty little kitten so she should be allowed to have some pie (or in her case, cupcakes).

So we were a little sad when they came out of the wash after a tough day outside in the melting snow looking like this:


Who knew that mittens from the dollar bin at Target could be so very important (if I had known I would have bought a few pairs!)?

I'd already used stain spray on them and they'd already been through the wash and slipped through into the dryer because they were so small no one noticed them. So the stains were set in on a high heat setting. Thanks to OxiClean they came out looking like this:


Sadie has already reclaimed her mittens and they're hiding somewhere in the house, but at least they're clean! And she looks a little less grubby on days when she insists on wearing them to Mass!

Palm Sunday Route

I got wrapped up in sewing last night and fell asleep before I could post this picture of our walk along the Palm Sunday Route:

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Mommy Made Project #6- Mother Goose Top with Yellow Pants

I finally got the elastic and finished Sadie's new outfit! It's amazing how hard it is to find elastic these days (especially if you are trying to avoid driving all the way across town to Joann's). The pants survived despite the near disaster of barely fitting the pattern onto the material and then realizing that I had cut one of the pieces out backwards and had a backside that would be inside out if I pieced it together that way. My trimming solution worked though!

Sadie doesn't like to put the shirt on because she would much rather sit and stare at the material on her lap and giggle, so it can take extra effort to wrangle her into it.

Sadie wasn't cooperating when she realized that I was trying to take her picture. She went into attack mode and started going after Grumpa's slippers.

After a few dozen pictures I finally got one of her standing up AND holding still. It was only because she stopped to check out a BLM marker, but I'll take what I can get! She's so wiggly it's hard to get anything that isn't blurry!

And Sadie would like to show everyone her fort again. You can't see if from this picture but there's a fierce battle between her army guys raging in the background. She definitely favors the green army guys and has been known to flick the red (now pink from being out in the sun) guys off of the wall.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Strategy for Distracting the American People: Bring Up a Sex Scandal in the Catholic Church: Part 2

I have to say that I was rather confused after seeing the ABC report the other night that attempted to smush what happened in Milwaukee together with accusations in Munich. The piece itself switched back and forth between the two stories until my father, who isn't Catholic, asked how the Archbishop of Munich could be held responsible for what was going on in Milwaukee.

The answer, which was not at all clear on ABC, was that the second scandal was brought to the Vatican's attention (according to reports) when Cardinal Ratzinger was working at the Vatican and was in charge of a "watchdog group" in Rome.

This is actually a perfect example of how the media can twist and distort the truth to come up with a story that fits their needs (which appears to be discrediting the Catholic Church for standing up for what's true).

Cardinal Joseph Alois Ratzinger was appointed Archbishop of Munich and Freising by Pope Paul VI in 1977. In 1981 he moved to Rome and became Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith. That would be the "watchdog" organization that ABC would like you to believe was responsible for handling the sex abuse cases. However that's not the job description at the CDF (Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei) or at least it wasn't until 2001 (Canon Lawyer Fr. Thomas Brundage explains here that up until 2001 appeals went to the Roman Rota and another great explanation can be found here where Jimmy Akin explains that this case went to the CDF because it involved abuse during the sacrament of confession ). Quite simply it oversees Catholic Doctrine.

In other words, when heretics dressed up as "Catholics" are "guided by the holy spirit" (or some other spirit) to spout nonsense, the CDF steps in. Thus the mainstream media called Cardinal Ratzinger "God's Rottweiler" (although they would now like to paint him as a weak wimp). The CDF was busy with things like liberation theology during the 80s. They weren't the ones responsible for going after sex abuse cases.

Perhaps the most disturbing part of the entire ABC report was the quick interview with the former Archbishop of Milwaukee. He seemed intent on clearing his own name and lamented that he hadn't known what to do and he'd asked the Vatican for help and they hadn't done anything...

Hmmmmm.... yeah..... all I can say to that is: "YOU WERE THE ARCHBISHOP!!!! You were the one responsible for leading and protecting the people in your archdiocese!"

Many people don't understand how much control a bishop (and especially archbishop) has over their area of responsibility. A lot!

My husbands analogy for the situation went like this: If there was a fire at a local house you would call the local fire department to put it out. You wouldn't call in CalFire (the California State Fire Agency that fights huge forest fires) unless things were really out of control...

Things were really out of control. And that was because the former Archbishop of Milwaukee neglected his responsibility and let incredibly evil things happen under his nose. Now he doesn't want to take responsibility for that and is ready to bad mouth the Vatican for problems that occurred because he shirked his own duties.

Actually to take the analogy one step further, I'll relate a story of what happened in my hometown a few years ago: A fire broke out at the local firing range. Our local fire department was having some internal problems at the time and the number of volunteers had dwindled. When the call came in the local guys that were left didn't respond. Because help was coming from so far away and no one in town did anything the fire got out of control (although they did show up after CalFire arrived) and ended up burning the seven miles between our town and the next town over (we watched it all from our house): to be clear, the former Archbishop is the local fire department that didn't respond and because he failed in his duty, it took time for help to come from far away (because it took a very long time for word of the scandal which the Archbishop ignored to cross the Atlantic).

The most striking part of the case may be when word actually reached the Vatican of these accusations (from watching the news you would think that it was instantly and that they did nothing to protect the innocent children of Milwaukee). The media says Cardinal Ratzinger heard about the abuse while at the Vatican in 1996 (that would be when he was at the CDF, which, again, if you missed it, wasn't in charge of sex abuse cases!). Over 20 years had passed since the abuse took place (of course that's all in the small print if you read the stories very, very carefully).

Going after the former Archbishop though, the man who's really to blame, wouldn't do the media much good and wouldn't get them any closer to discrediting the Church in America. And that's what's really behind these reports.

A Strategy for Distracting the American People: Bring Up a Sex Scandal in the Catholic Church

The mainstream media in our country does have a way of timing things and it would take a certain amount of blindness to miss the timing of the current wave of attacks (as always led by the New York Times) on Catholicism, the Vatican and Pope Benedict XVI.

Is it a coincidence that the story led the nightly news the night after the democrats pushed healthcare through despite the disapproval of the majority of the American people?

Before I get too far into my own post (which will actually be in two parts) about what's going on, here are a few articles and posts that should really be read in full by anyone who's confused by what's going on right now:

Untangling the Confusion about the Church by Bishop Robert C. Morlino (which ties healthcare and the accusations at its start)
and two pieces over at The Catholic Knight:

Now to gather my own thoughts (and keep from getting too angry at the mainstream media's twisting of the truth) for post #2 on this subject.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Cupcake Incident

I have neglected this blog! And I've thought of ten funny Sadie stories to write up this week, and now I'm having blogger's block!

Except I can't forget about the cupcake!

Last week we had a little party for Sadie. It was in honor of being a big girl and being weaned. I made tuna sandwiches (Sadie's new favorite food) for lunch and set up her new Beauty and the Beast plastic tea set and then brought out the cupcakes after we'd finished lunch.

Sadie was very excited. She loves cupcakes. However, even though she didn't eat much (she was already full of tuna) she definitely had a stomach ache afterwards.

So the other cupcakes (they were the giant ones from Costco) were hidden away.

Unfortunately, Daddy must have been asleep when we had the "no cupcakes in front of Sadie talk" and he brought out a cupcake after dinner!

Sadie started to scream the second she saw the cupcake. Paul quickly whisked it out of the room and put it in the laundry room to save until Sadie went up for her bath, but Sadie was on a cupcake hunt and she was pretty sure that Daddy was going to eat that cupcake that night. Twice she left the room and went into the living room and then turned suddenly and sprinted back into the kitchen swinging her head back and forth searching for a cupcake eating Daddy.

She didn't catch him, but the next day when we were going out on a walk she looked into the garbage can in the back porch and stopped in her tracks. She reached into it and pulled out a cupcake wrapper and held it up for everyone to see. She repeated this twice more (each time we went out that way) to make sure we'd gotten the point. Daddy had eaten a cupcake!

Now she's really trying to catch him with a cupcake!

Doctor's Visit #5- 24 Weeks along- part 2

We made it into The City for today's appointment and the doctor was on schedule so Paul actually got to stay for the entire appointment. He had to be in San Francisco by 3pm for a meeting, so if she'd been behind he would have had to skip the appointment to make the long drive south.

I have to say that I was a little bit nervous when the nurse was looking for the heartbeat. I wasn't worried at first because Maggie was doing acrobatics to avoid the pressure from the microphone but then the nurse got a very serious look on her face and kept moving it around, searching. After about five minutes of this I was starting to worry and listen as hard as I could. Then I heard it. Two heartbeats.

I was reassuring myself that the ultra sound tech was very confident that there was only one baby in there and that it was a girl, when the nurse told stopped looking for the heartbeat, smiled reassuringly and said that everything looked great, it had just taken her a while to get the baby's pulse rate because my heartbeat had been so loud!

Relief! Twins are such a blessing, but I must admit, I would be a little panicked to think of keeping up with a toddler and two infants at this point!

Then the doctor came in and took measurements. She gave the typical "the baby is the perfect size" statement that she says every single time, and then she added "just a little bigger than average." It was actually the first time I hadn't asked (during both pregnancies!) and it was also the first time that she gave me an answer!

I peeked over her hand when she measured and according to the book I'm measuring just about two weeks bigger than my 24 weeks (just like at the ultrasound). I have a feeling this baby's taking after Daddy too.

The other sign that gives me some clue as to this baby's size is that I began to feel movement at around 9 weeks. I thought that I was going crazy, because every book and article I read said that no one feels movement that early. By 12 weeks I was positive that the baby was kicking and doing somersaults!

But today I had one question for the doctor and so we talked about it. I asked about the palpitations I've been feeling in my chest. Starting at around 9 weeks when I lay down, I feel like my heart is pounding in my chest. After about thirty second of this Maggie goes absolutely crazy and kicks and rolls and dances around. It was one of the reasons I noticed the movement so early, because the pounding feeling always preceded it.

Since I'm not getting lightheaded or faint the doctor said she wasn't worried about it and that my heart probably was speeding up slightly and that's what I was feeling. She also said that it sounded like I was feeling the baby move very early, but that that happens with second pregnancies (although 9 weeks is really really early!).

I have to say that I am pretty curious as to how big this baby is going to be. At today's weigh in I'd gained.... 29 lbs! And that puts me right on track to gain the 42 lbs I gained with Sadie (at least I lost it all before pregnancy #2!).

At least I have a few shirts that should fit for all 40 weeks! I'm getting better at estimating how big a shirt has to be to make it through an entire pregnancy in this house!

And that is my rather rambling description of doctor's appointment #5! After the next appointment we go to every two weeks!

Doctor's Visit #5- 24 Weeks along- part 1

I just have time for a quick post before we rush out the door for another big day. We're headed into The City for my fifth doctor's appointment with Maggie. Poor little Sadie is having quite the week. She was kind of a terror yesterday, and I was hoping that this sudden transformation wasn't the beginning of the "terrible twos." Instead she turned very snuggley last night and it looks like she has a stomach bug this morning. Added to that is the fact that she had a few hyper hours yesterday (after I gave her Tylenol because it looks like she's teething too) and twirled around and banged her head on the cabinets, giving herself a knot on her forehead (causing EMT Grumpa to check her eyes and declare that she is A-Okay).

Now to get ready for the appointment. I can hardly wait to hear Maggie's heartbeat!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

23 Weeks Pregnancy Picture

I've fallen behind in posting my weekly pregnancy picture. Since Paul has a very strenuous night schedule right now I'm usually the one holding the camera, while chasing after Sadie. But I got Nani to snap this picture of us last week.

Sadie is starting to feel pretty heavy these days. And I think my legs are getting pretty strong carrying all this weight around! She usually walks, but she's been so clumsy lately that there have been a lot of scrapped elbows, hands, chins and knees, followed by mommy carrying her for the rest of the walk. She's like a walking triple antibiotic ointment commercial these days.

I'm still in the midst of the second trimester energy boost. As soon as I get into the City to buy some elastic I'll have new outfit pictures up!

The "Second Pregnancy Comment"

Last time around during pregnancy I heard the typical labor horror stories that people like to tell new mothers (and came away with one of my own). This time around the stories and comments are a little different. And they’ve become so typical and expected that sometimes it’s hard not to laugh.

It starts with:

“How far apart are they going to be?”

Upon hearing the answer “just a little over 24 months” a series of other questions/comments follow.

Usually it’s a variation of the question: “What are you going to do if they hate each other?” or the comment: “They’re going to fight all the time!”

Since I’m now noticeably pregnant I’ve found that I can expect this on pretty much every trip into town. And it’s so predictable (and ridiculous to bring up at this point) that it’s hard not to laugh.

I’ve noticed that these particular comments only seem to come from people who are around the age of my parents’ generation, while people who are younger and older have their own opinions on the matter.

People who are a generation ahead of the baby boomers have been far more likely to encourage us and talk about the wonderful relationships they had with their own siblings and how it’s so important in old age to have big families because everyone is there for each other.

And I’ve met a lot of people my own age who came from little families and who want to have lots of kids.

Only women in the boomer generation really seem to have a lot (negatively) to say about the matter.

I do wonder at the reason behind these now typical comments. I think it may be a combination of factors. The first might be that I’m probably around the advice givers own children’s age, so they’re used to giving motherly advice to people in my age group.

The second factor I’ve thought about is that they were the generation that was so “empowered” to “control their bodies” and their “sexuality.” Family sizes plummeted in a lot of these families in the last generation or two and I think they sometimes see having two so close together as a sort of carelessness. After all, reproduction had become something to be controlled and regulated when they came of age and children, for many, were no longer a blessing.

I could explain that this was exactly how we hoped things would turn out, but then they’d really think I was crazy.

You see, whether they’re getting along wonderfully or fighting like cats and dogs (and I know we’ll likely have plenty of both, especially if God continues to bless us) I believe that having more children will be a blessing to our entire family.

And that leads me to my second favorite question, from people who know we plan on homeschooling… “But HOW will you EVER socialize your children”

But that is the topic of another post (coming soon I hope!)!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Benefit of the Doubt...

A few times over these past few days I’ve been tempted to close my facebook account. At other moments I’ve thought about deleting about half of my “friends.”

It’s not because we have a difference of beliefs when it comes to health care. Believe it or not, I don’t have a problem with that. As a former liberal I can understand how a person can believe what the far left believes. And I know that you can be a wonderful, compassionate person and be a democrat.

I know that most of my very liberal friends support health care because they feel that it is the compassionate choice. With many of them there’s a good chance that they haven’t given much thought to the issue of abortion, but they’ve given a lot of thought to the problems with health care in our country (and I agree 100% that there are huge problems and that reform is needed).

If you don’t really think about abortion you can follow the party line that “it’s not a life, it’s a choice.” If you delve much deeper the logic falls apart pretty quickly, but it’s really a subject that most people don’t want to take a long hard look at. It’s too ugly.

I try to give my friends the benefit of the doubt.

I wish they would return the favor (and I’m sure some of them do, however since they’re not loud and obnoxious, they aren’t the ones that stand out when I check my account).

In the past few days I’ve seen every person who doesn’t personally approve of the health care bill demonized and bashed. It’s kind of interesting that the worst attacks started after the bill had passed. If Life had won out I would have been celebrating and dancing around, not going on line and thinking up nasty things to write about the other side.

I’ve seen Christianity and Conservatives bashed and the logic behind the attacks makes me wonder if my “friends” are ever actually around either group. Maybe not. You can live in certain parts of California and have your exposure to non-radical groups be pretty limited. And when you do happen to run across someone who doesn’t share your beliefs you can make fun of them, or demonize them, or do both.

A lot of people seem to think that only the rich have a problem with this bill. That’s possibly why it seems to bother some people out there that I write about being pretty poor and disapproving of the bill (don’t I know I’m supposed to be grateful!). They can’t seem to understand that life is about more than money and that there are things other than money that motivate both sides.

I believe that most of my friends are motivated by compassion for the poor. That’s wonderful and I agree that something needs to be done in our country. I just wish they wouldn’t support an act that was intrinsically evil in their search for social justice. Social justice will never come from evil. The end in this case does not justify the means.

We need to think of the lives that will be lost, as well as the lives that will be saved and understand that the two can be reconciled. Just not with this president and this congress. They’re too devoted to keeping murder legal. And social justice will never exist when the blood of innocents are being poured out for votes.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mother Goose and Toddlers

I think that I now know every single nursery rhymes in this book by heart. It is Sadie's favorite book, and is one of the few paper-paged books that she can (for the most part) be trusted with. Most mornings after breakfast and Curious George she runs for this book and brings it to me and then climbs up onto the couch next to me so that she can look at the pages while I read. Sometimes, when she's very focused, I get to turn the pages. Other days, when she's a little impatient, she likes to turn the pages, which is why it's very good that I've memorized the book.

Her favorites include the "three little kittens who've lost their mittens," "the man in the moon," "I love little kitty," "row, row, row your boat," "hey diddle, diddle" and "three blind mice."

However nothing beats one that I hadn't heard before we got this book (possibly because I do little squeaky voices for the mice which makes Sadie giggle hysterically):


Six little mice sat down to spin,
kitty passed by and she peered in,
"What are you doing my little men?"
"Weaving coats for gentlemen."
"Shall I come in and cut off your threads?"
"No, no mistress kitty, you'll bite off our heads!"
"Oh no I'll not, I'll help you to spin."
"Well that may be so but you can't come in!"

Nursery rhymes have become a big part of our day and Sadie is so enthusiastic about them! There are quite a few mornings when she sits next to me while I read all 100 verses and then wants to page through the book and find her favorites again.

When I was pregnant with Sadie my junior high english teacher told me that children who knew six nursery rhymes were more likely to be "readers." I don't know if that's true (although I did find this report when I looked around) but I do know that this is a fun book for little ones and that Sadie loves her rhymes!

My Sewing Lesson of the Day...

I should have realized by now that overconfidence while sewing always ends badly (in my case at least!).

I had a length of material that I wanted to make into pants for Sadie... but it was just a little too small. So I was triumphant when I laid it flat instead of folding it and managed to fit all four pieces on (just barely) with only a tiny bit of material left over...

Instead, yesterday, I learned something very important about making pants... it's something that the tiniest bit of thought should have realized, but apparently I was so elated over the pattern fitting that I wasn't thinking very logically... as all of you probably know, you need two different sides with pants, so that the fronts and backs on both sides match up and you don't have one panel of the pant facing inside out...

Yesterday during nap time when I began to piece the fronts and backs of the pants together I discovered with a sinking feeling, this rather important lesson. One side of the pants worked. The other side fit together... if one side was finished with the wrong side of the front panel facing out...

Then I thought I'd figured it out and realized that now the piece was upside down...

Anyways, I ended up taking both fronts and matching them up and trimming the one upside down so that they matched (although doing this made them both about a inch shorter width wise. But at least they are loose fitting pants that should still work.). However that didn't take into account that the new seams at the top wouldn't match up, so the center line of the pants is a little bit puckery. But again, I think the looseness of the pants might save them, because I spent most of nap time making sure the "puckery-ness" was even, so hopefully they will look somewhat normal when I finally get into town to buy more elastic.

And that is my personal sewing lesson of the day: Whenever I'm starting to feel overconfident, I probably need to double check what I'm doing!

Monday, March 22, 2010

9 Quotes by Chesterton that seem appropriate for today...

Today just feels like a day for quotes. Maybe later on I'll be able to find the words on my own, but for now I'll leave you with a bit of Chesterton:
"The reformer is always right about what is wrong. He is generally wrong about what is right." - ILN 10-28-22

"To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it."
- A Short History of England, Ch.10

"Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions."
- ILN, 4/19/30

"A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it."
- Everlasting Man, 1925

"The act of defending any of the cardinal virtues has today all the exhilaration of a vice."
- A Defense of Humilities, The Defendant, 1901

"There are only two kinds of people, those who accept dogmas and know it, and those who accept dogmas and don't know it."
-("The Mercy of Mr. Arnold Bennett" Fancies vs. Fads)

"Religious liberty might be supposed to mean that everybody is free to discuss religion. In practice it means that hardly anybody is allowed to mention it."
- Autobiography, 1937

"Men do not differ much about what things they will call evils; they differ enormously about what evils they will call excusable."
- ILN, 10/23/09

"In the struggle for existence, it is only on those who hang on for ten minutes after all is hopeless, that hope begins to dawn."
- The Speaker 2-2-01
For more Chesterton quotes go here.

A Quote of the Day: for Monday, March 22, 2010

“To the frustrated, freedom from responsibility is more attractive than freedom from restraint. They are eager to barter their independence for relief from the burdens of willing, deciding and being responsible for inevitable failure. They willingly abdicate the directing of their lives to those who want to plan, command and shoulder all responsibility.”

-Eric Hoffer

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sadie Frown of the Year: Stupak Sells Out and Leaves Unborn Unprotected

It's hard to be surprised by anything that politicians do these days. Promises mean next to nothing and sometimes it seems like everyone has a price (at least if they hold a public office).

I'm sure you all know by now that Obama's healthcare bill passed tonight, 219-212.

A couple of days ago the morning news reported that both sides had 212 votes, but that Stupak and his group of pro-life democrats were holding strong. I even joined the Stand with Stupak group on Facebook (which I un-joined tonight). I felt hopeful.

Unfortunately it seems that Stupak is just another in a long line of disappointments, made all the worse by the hope that he inspired in these past weeks.

The current claim being made by Stupak and the administration is that an executive order issued by Obama will stop abortions from being paid for by the healthcare bill.

I'm not sure why anyone would trust the word of a man who has repeatedly promised to extend "abortion rights" as far as he possibly can. If he were truly going to do something to limit abortion he would be breaking his very vocal campaign promises (and the silence from the pro-death camp and the votes for the bill from the most liberal members of congress are telling).

After the bill passed the house Republicans tried to reinsert the Stupak Amendment as a separate issue from the core bill. Twenty minutes later (it was reported by CNN) that a Republican member of the house yelled "baby killer" when Bart Stupak stood to speak against that motion.

And what does Stupak have to say now? "The motion is really a last-ditch effort of 98 years of denying Americans health care. It is the Democrats who have stood up for the principal of no public funding of abortions. It is Democrats through the president's executive order that ensure the sanctity of life is protected."

I've spent the last few hours wondering if Bart Stupak and the other members of his group really believe that life will be protected by this bill. Are they naive? Are they stupid? Or have they just sold out?

When it turns out that the bill does not protect life, Stupak will not be able to claim that he wasn't warned. This letter, written by Robert A. Destro, a Professor of Law at Catholic University of America, gave him a clear picture of what today's vote would mean:
Dear Mr. Stupak:
Questions have surfaced in the past few weeks about whether the billions of dollars the Senate health care reform bill appropriates for Community Health Centers (CHCs) will be used to pay for abortions. I have been asked by several interested parties to give my opinion on Secretary Sebelius’ recent statement asserting that abortions will not be covered.
It’s not even a close question. Abortions will be covered.
For nearly forty years, the courts have held that there are no medical or economic reasons to distinguish elective abortions from any other medical service. The basic argument is that health care coverage for women cannot be truly “comprehensive” unless – and until – elective abortions are covered just like any other medical procedure.
Federal appeals courts have been unanimous in their holdings that when Congress provides funding for “comprehensive” services, it must explicitly prohibit the use of federal dollars to pay for abortions. If there is no explicit prohibition, the courts will order the federal government to pay.
Read the entire letter here.
Will the executive order truly keep federal dollars from paying for abortions? I am very skeptical. And it seems I'm not alone in my doubts. Here's what the National Right to Life Committee has to say in the wake of tonight's vote:
The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) remains strongly opposed to the Senate-passed health bill (H.R. 3590). A lawmaker who votes for this bill is voting to require federal agencies to subsidize and administer health plans that will pay for elective abortion, and voting to undermine longstanding pro-life policies in other ways as well. Pro-life citizens nationwide know that this is a pro-abortion bill. Pro-life citizens know, and they will be reminded again and again, which lawmakers deserve their gratitude for voting against this pro-abortion legislation.

The executive order promised by President Obama was issued for political effect. It changes nothing. It does not correct any of the serious pro-abortion provisions in the bill. The president cannot amend a bill by issuing an order, and the federal courts will enforce what the law says.

To elaborate: The order does not truly correct any of the seven objectionable pro-abortion provisions described in NRLC's March 19 letter to the House of Representatives, which is posted here:
http://www.nrlc.org/AHC/NRLCToHouseOnHealthBill.pdf
I can't imagine any other news story beating this one on the Sadie Frown scale, which is why I'm giving Stupak and every other person who voted for and supported the bill the Sadie Frown of the Year. They certainly earned it.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Mommy Made Project #5- The Whole Outfit is Done!

The other day I posted the shirt that I'd just finished. Now the entire outfit is done. And Sadie took it out for a test drive around the loop and it's still in one piece.

I think these pants were actually the easiest thing that I've made so far. The idea of figuring out the elastic waist was intimidating at first, but it actually ended up being really quick. And thanks to everyone who's given me tips in the comment box and emails (I'm so behind in responding to emails at the moment!). The tips have helped a lot!



Who Could Believe that Pelosi's Plan is Life Affirming?

The Anchoress had another great post yesterday over at First Things. Whenever Speaker Pelosi speaks it makes me feel a bit like this, so I definitely can relate to the feelings that the Anchoress talks about earlier in the post (this is how Sadie feels if you suggest that it's time to get off the tractor and come in for dinner) ----->
"In her upside-down world, Pelosi may think that this monstrosity she is laboring so mightily to deliver is “life-affirming;” that is because she is -like so many of her generation- unable to imagine life after her own. It takes a “my life right now is more important than any future life” mentality to be this committed to abortion, and to insuring that every means of preventing or ending life, at every stage, is introduced into the public mind as a Godly and enviable thing. It takes a mind that willfully misunderstand the nature of both light and life, as taught by the Church she professes to love, to stand there with a smug, “unicorns and rainbows” demeanor and spout these deceitful platitudes that are not grounded in any sort of reality...

...After all of that -and in a direct attempt to smackdown the Catholic bishops who rightly oppose this bill- the Pelosi ends with yet another slander of all Catholic religious woman, with the assistance (it must be admitted) of a few perpetually adolescent useful idiots who, as I said yesterday, “delight in poking into the eyes of authoritative teaching.” Not only does Pelosi exaggerate the number of religious women who support this bill, she frankly lies when she says that “just about every order you can think of” wants “to pass this life-affirming legislation...”

... it is one thing for a Catholic to be publicly misguided, misinformed, socially maladjusted or even stupid. It’s quite another -and to my way of thinking, a genuinely evil thing- for Catholics to put on a cloak of moral authority by virtue of their church membership, and proceed to spin their deceitful webs while mindfully exploiting her greatest saints and teachings for the expressed (and unbelievably sleazy) promulgation of their legislative propaganda...."
Read the entire post here.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Weaning: My Winning Strategy!

Long before Sadie was born, I had my breastfeeding plan all worked out. I would nurse her until she was two and then we'd wean.

Once the painful part of learning to nurse wore off (it took about two months) things were wonderful and two years was still twenty-two months away. I loved not having to worry about bottles and boiling water (especially since the only water we have access to comes from a well and is rather frequently muddy when it comes out of the tap, even after filtration).

Fast forward to last fall. When we discovered we were expecting we were thrilled. It did mean that nursing was just about as painful as it had been at the start, but I figured it was a great opportunity to "offer up" the pain. And after about three months nursing went back to normal. However, when I did the math and figured out that the new baby's birthday would only be two weeks after Sadie's (and may be even closer) I started to plan my next step.

I didn't think that weaning Sadie right before her new little sister arrived would be the best thing for their sibling relationship. But I also didn't want to wean just yet!

So here was my plan of action.

At the beginning of 18 months we night weaned Sadie. Up until that point she had been nursing between five and ten times a night. She cried for a couple of minutes the first night she couldn't nurse and then started sleeping much, much better (as did I!).

Later that month I cut her back to three day time nursing. That is, one in the morning, one at nap time and one before bedtime.

AT 19 months we began to eliminate the morning feeding. After about two weeks Sadie had completely forgotten about it.

At 20 months we eliminated the feeding that I was the most nervous about eliminating: nap time. Sadie had started to fall asleep on her own at night, but she had always struggled falling asleep with at nap time (and would wake up instantly if I tried to put her down). In other words for 20 months I had held her through her 1 to 2 hour naps.

Instead I now rock her in her chair, we say a rosary (latin helps her fall asleep quickly for some reason) and then I put her in her bed (this is also why I've had a sudden burst of crafting time!). After a couple of days she was used to the idea and there have been no problems.

I decided to completely wean at 21 months so that Sadie would have 3 months to get used to not nursing before the new baby got there. I am hoping that that will be a long enough buffer so that she doesn't associate weaning with the new baby's arrival.

Apparently I didn't need to worry. I decided to do a test run two nights ago and see what Sadie would do if we just sat in the rocker and said our family nighttime rosary, instead of nursing. She made one little "I want to nurse" sound, then put her head against my shoulder and relaxed. Last night she didn't even make the little sound and went easily into her own bed. Tomorrow she will be 21 months old. And I think I can say, after more than 48 hours of not nursing, that she is weaned.

Another plus is that I got her to stay in her bed all night last night (although it involved me sleeping on the floor next to her for an hour and a half!). That's two victories in two days.

The other plus side of gradually weaning (which is probably actually the result of being pregnant) is that in my case it has been totally painless. It hasn't hurt a bit! And it's been totally tear free (for both of us!).

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Stand with Stupak!

I just stumbled across this link and thought some of you might be interested! Let the "Stupak 12" know that you support them and that this country does not want to pay for the slaughter of innocent babies!

And I posted the facebook link on my facebook too. I bet that's going to get me some interesting comments over there...

Sadie Frown of the Week: This Coalition of American Nuns

I just saw this over at the Lair of the Catholic Cavemen and share the feeling of disgust and disappointment in these so called "religious." These nuns definitely deserve a Sadie Frown:
A coalition of American nuns, claiming to represent over 50,000 members of women's religious orders, has broken with the country's Catholic bishops by coming out in support of the health-care reform legislation now pending in Congress....

"... This is politics; this isn't a question of faith and morals," said Sister Simone Campbell, the executive director of Network. Women religious have a direct interest in health-care reform, she added: "We are the ones who work every day with people who are suffering because they don't have health care."

Full Story Here.
I wonder when Sister Campbell began to believe that matters of life and death began to fall outside of the realm of "faith and morals." These women are either willfully blind to something that most of the country understands (that abortion is most definitely included in the language of the Senate Bill) or they're lying. Neither would surprise me at this point.

This is yet another example of why a Vatican Investigation of these orders was so desperately needed. It seems that these sisters are intent on building the case against themselves.

As for the last sentence of the piece, as someone who is basically uninsurable and has spent half of the last decade uninsured because of a injury (which could have been corrected through a surgery that Blue Cross of California deemed "experimental" back when I was insured and then used to deny me coverage) I can honestly say that even suffering without insurance has not caused me to support these bills. I'd rather be uninsurable than sell out and join the culture of death that these nuns are now very much a part of.

Mommy Made Project #5- A Quick Shirt

My next baby step on my learn-to-sew journey turned out to be this shirt. It's really just a shirt version of the dress I've already sewed over and over again so I didn't really even need to read the instructions too carefully. I am going to have to be much more careful with the pants though, because that's going to be totally different from anything I've done so far! I cut out the pattern and material tonight, so they'll be all ready to go at nap time tomorrow.

As usual Sadie wasn't making it easy for me to take her picture tonight! She was a blur of motion and then, when she finally calmed down a bit she made a point to look everywhere except at the camera!

Who could watch the news when we have this wonderful cars sticker book right here in front of us?!?!?! Sadie actually started hyperventilating when I wouldn't say the name of a car fast enough... I think I need to watch the movie again and learn the names really, really well...

Here she is with her Saint Patrick's Day Little People Train. She followed me around the house today asking me to put it back together and then pulling it apart again and whining because she wanted it to be in one piece. One of us was definitely enjoying that little game more than the other! Thankfully the train will be returning to the garage soon, to reappear next St. Patrick's Day.

And the number one lesson I learned from making this shirt: when fabric has a direction that it needs to be positioned in, check before cutting to make sure that it isn't upside down. The front of the shirt is right side up, but the back side (which was originally going to be the front side) wasn't so fortunate. All the tea pots and coffee pots and pitchers are upside down! Oh well, another beginner sewing lesson learned!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

"The Leprechauns Came!"

Paul just got home from work. He walked into the room in his green Celtics shirt and started jumping up and down saying "the leprechauns came, the leprechauns came..." I waited to hear the next part, figuring he'd brought Sadie a present from work, until he added... "and they brought Guinness!"

It seems that it wasn't Sadie that the leprechauns were looking for. It was her very Irish daddy.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Stalled Sewing: One Person's "Easy" is Another Person's "Disaster"

Over the past few days I've realized something... one person's "easy" sewing pattern is another person's disaster. And in this case that "disaster" person is me...

Okay that was a bit dramatic. We aren't to the disaster phase yet because I carefully packed my patterns back up in their little packages and decided to do the pants and shirt that came in the same package as the dress that I already made (three times over). I'm hoping the shirt and pants will boost my confidence back up again, so I can make a try at something a bit more complicated.

Actually I'm starting to notice a pattern in my sewing endeavors. I should have realized it earlier, because it is very similar to the way I learned to knit. When I was learning cable knitting or intarsia or really any new knitting skill I would have to read about it and then think about what I'd read for a few days and process it. Then when I came back to try again everything that had seemed frustrating would somehow start to make sense. And then it would be easy.

So I'll finish up the shirt and pants I started today and pick another pattern and hopefully my theory will prove to be true again. Because out of the 10 easy patterns I got at Joann's sale this last week, only one looks like it might be in my skill range. And it involves more fabric than I have (in one particular print at least... I have quite a stockpile of fabric built up from quilting... just not 3+ yards of most of them).

Or maybe Sadie is just going to have an entire wardrobe of clothing that tie at the shoulders, because her Mommy is afraid to try to sew in a zipper or a button...

Putting an elastic waist on the pants is tomorrows project (I know some of you are probably shaking your head because it's such a basic easy thing! I am such a beginner at this!).

I have a feeling Sadie is going to end up with another three outfits before I get up the courage to try the next "easy" pattern from the bunch. And this one will not have ties!

I'm leaning towards a pattern that says "easy" in big letters, but that also involves a zipper and ruffles!

Baby steps... baby steps...

Someday I'm going to look back on the things that gave me trouble in these early sewing days and laugh. Unfortunately those days are still a way off and I think I have quite a few more "what do they mean by that?!?!" moments coming up in the next few months!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Society of Jesus: A Look at the University of San Francisco- Part 3

In this third section we will continue to examine the University of San Francisco’s claim that it retains some remnant of Catholic teaching, despite strong evidence to the contrary (here’s part 1 and part 2 if you missed them):
Fr. Privett holds that a university that refuses to engage those who differ with it is harsh, unwelcoming, and un-Christ-like. Critics like those from the Cardinal Newman Society “would do more good for the Church by taking a less rigid and self-righteous stance,” he said...
Because only liberals are allowed to be self-righteous in San Francisco!

On a more serious note…

In reality Father Privett doesn’t welcome all views at his college. That is made clear enough if one examines the events held at the Lane Center. He’ll gladly bring heterodox speakers to his school, and he’d love to hear about the ways in which the Church is surely wrong (according to his guests and faculty) but he isn’t eager to hear about upholding traditional values (even simple, straightforward ones like the sanctity of human life). After all, traditional values can be quite offensive, particularly in places like San Francisco. And he wouldn’t want anyone to have to question their lifestyle or feel uncomfortable.

Sadly, being told that everything we do it “okay “and nothing is really “sinful,” because it’s all “relative,” never really helped anyone in the long run. Personally, I’d rather feel bad about something now, repent and change my life than be told that everything I’m doing is okay when it’s not and roll happily along until it’s time for a judgment that (if the gospels are any indication) is most definitely not going to accept “it’s all relative… whatever you want to do is okay” as an excuse for wasting a lifetime.

A little guilt now could go a long way towards combating a very uncomfortable (to strongly understand the description) future. But I digress… back to the quote:

It appears that saying that something is “wrong” would be “harsh and unwelcoming” in Father Privett’s eyes… and USF wouldn’t want to be “harsh and unwelcoming” would it?

It doesn’t seem to bother them to seem “harsh and unwelcoming” when dealing with orthodox Catholics. USF is a harsh, unwelcoming and un-Christ-like place if you aren’t willing to spout heterodox doctrine.
If, as Fr. Privett holds, there are many cornerstones supporting a Catholic and Jesuit school, one of USF’s strongest is spelled out in its mission of “educating minds and hearts to change the world.”
This also worries me. Go back and glance at the list in the first post that showed recent events at the Lane Center. What is USF teaching its students with these speakers? I can hardly imagine many positive changes from being exposed to the constant poison that Father Privett has brought into his school.

After all, he can only claim to be promoting “dialogue” between different groups at his University if he actually had conservative speakers who showed the opposing view. But that hasn’t been done. Father Privett did his best to get rid of traditionalists at USF and he’s not about to invite them back in.

(AP photo of Privett and Pelosi)

The Fire Truck

Sadie is having a lot of fun playing on her own. And if she doesn’t want to play with you, she’ll let you know… by giving you a fire truck.

The first time it happened Grumpa was sitting in a chair next to Sadie’s toy cars and Wonder Pet school house and he moved something in the school house. Sadie turned around and looked at him. Then she moved his hand out of the school house. Next she moved back and grabbed the fire truck. Turning she handed it to Grumpa and then gave his hand a little shove to make sure that it wasn’t going to sneak back over to encroach on Wonder Pet territory.

Now handing the fire truck to any of us has become a way of saying “I’m playing on my own and I don’t need help!”

She hands me the fire truck at least once a day, which is kind of funny because usually she want everyone playing Wonder Pets!

Sadie’s also been having a hard time adjusting to the time change. It was still light outside when bedtime came around tonight and Sadie kept getting out of bed and walking over to me and then giggling because she knew she was being silly. So we’re going to try pushing bedtime back from 7:30 to 8pm for a while. Maybe it will mean sleeping in a tiny bit later! That would be nice!

The Society of Jesus: A Look at the University of San Francisco- Part 2

USF's defense of its "Catholic" identity continues with this description:
“There are folks who are much more comfortable with the Church up on a mountain top with clear answers to clear questions, relatively unsullied by contact with the world,” said Charles Currie, S.J., president of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, of which USF is a member. “Others are more comfortable with a Church that is involved with the risks and ambiguities of the human condition and runs the risk of getting dirty in the process. Such a Church has the chance to transform society in a way the Church on the mountain top can never do. And there is room in the Church for both.”
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could have both and we could understand that the two parts don't have to be mutually exclusive and separate? A Church with clear answers, established by God, that also worked to help the world, both spiritually and physically? Oh, wait… we already do have a Church that meets those criteria and that understands that these two realms are not separate…

The administration at USF, however, has made it very clear that they don’t agree with the Church and will go out of their way to publically disagree and honor dissenters every chance that they get. They've decided that the Church that is "on a mountain" is irrelevant and outdated (although okay for some people... if you like that sort of thing...). They've blinded themselves to the fact that the Church, with its great traditions and its rich history of helping those in need, has always been out there in the world working for true justice.

I wonder what Saint Ignatius thinks about his order these days?

St. Ignatius understood that it was possible to have a Church that acted as both a guide and a force working within the world and he founded an order with clear intentions. That order was to be both faithful to the Pope and go out into the world and spread the faith.

Today we have an order that does not see the necessity of loyalty to the Church that Christ founded and who doesn’t want to offend anyone by taking firm stances on moral matters. Thus we have talk of the “risks and ambiguities of the human condition” as if there can be no real concept of truth. But there are ultimate answers in this world, right and wrong do exist and while the Jesuits cherish Christ’s compassion, they should also recognize the roll of the Church to lead.

More to come tomorrow...


(This posts picture was taken by "Thomist" on the Lone Mountain campus at USF...and that little bump is Sadie!)

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Society of Jesus: A Look at the University of San Francisco

The recent look I've been taking at The Society of Jesus was inspired by one particular school: The University of San Francisco. The fall copy of USF Magazine shows a sky blue cover with the words "Being Catholic" centered across the middle. After flipping through the pages I found the article "By Spirit & Deed" by Kimberly Winston that specifically addresses USF's claim to it's "Catholic" identity.

Father Privett would have the world believe that USF is, in fact, a premier Catholic institute of higher learning and the article very carefully paints that picture. Read superficially, one might even be inclined to agree. However any actual experience with the University and it's promotion of "Catholic" values quickly gives away the lie.

Again, responding to all of the points made in this somewhat lengthy article may take more than one post, but it's worth it to compare the "Catholic" image that Fr. Privett would paint of his school and contrast it with the reality.

The article starts by painting a picture of students helping out in a tough part of San Francisco and it's followed by a quote:
“The fundamental desire of Jesus was to create a world that was fair and balanced and a help to those with the least ability to help themselves,” said Seth Wachtel, an assistant professor of architecture... “To train students professionally and emotionally to use their skills to develop a fair planet is very much in the Catholic and Jesuit tradition and very much the mission of the university.”

Social justice is very important. But if you believe that social justice and creating a "fair and balanced" world was the main purpose of Jesus' life, death and resurrection, you're missing the point. Jesus wasn't talking about building a utopian society when he spoke of the Kingdom of God (Pope Benedict's book Jesus of Nazareth has some great explanations about the Kingdom of God). Jesus is pretty clear in Matthew 10 about this point. Should we help others? Absolutely! Was bringing physical comfort into this world Jesus' purpose? Absolutely not!

And I find it very hard to believe that a school is promoting social justice when they all constantly promote a "woman's right to choose." As I've said time and again, you cannot have social justice as long as the unborn are unprotected. And USF will not be promoting social justice as long as they continue to cooperate with this intrinsically evil act.
USF, too, has requirements that help stamp it as Jesuit and Catholic. Students must study theology and engage in service learning—courses requiring hands-on work among San Francisco’s poor. There is also a wealth of Catholic-themed courses, including ones on Catholic social thought, celebration of the sacraments, and exploration of bio-medical issues through a Catholic lens. But students and faculty seldom cite these courses when asked how the school is Catholic and Jesuit. Rather, they name the school’s dedication to justice, central to the teachings of Jesus and a primary concern of the Roman Catholic Church. Faculty, staff, and students at USF say the main place they seek and find the school’s Catholic and Jesuit identity is not always in the most Catholic of things—Mass in St. Ignatius Church, the Catholic studies program, the Jesuit-led retreats and workshops—but just as often in its adherence to the direction of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuit order, to “see God in all things.”
Students at USF are required to take only one religion course. It can focus on any religion. And USF has recently announced that at the end of next year the Master's of Theology program will close (despite the fact that it was heavily subsidized with grants).

As for the wealth of opportunities to learn about theology, Fr. Privett has made certain that it is only a certain type of theology. Fr. Privett began an attack on the University's conservative St. Ignatius Institute as soon as he took over at USF. He fired the conservative priests in charge of the institute (a poll at the time showed that 96% of students were "very upset at Privett's actions) and caused quite a stir.

But don't worry, the Lane Center has stepped up to fill the void (although the St. Ignatius institute, minus it's leadership, still exists). And here's what they've offered recently:
March 9, 2009: The Lane Center hosted ex-priest (and, according to the Cardinal Newman Society, same-sex "married) Professor James Nickoloff: “'Intrinsically Disordered': The Role of the Despised in Establishing the Holiness of the Church. A community conversation exploring gay marriage and Catholic identity in light of Proposition 8. Sponsored with the USF LGBTQ Caucus.”

June 15, 2008: The Lane Center (in conjunction with "Voice of the Faithful Northern California) hosted ex-priest Paul Lakeland at a seminar entitled "How the Laity Can save the Church? Lakeland is best known for his support of Connecticut's recent attempt to have lay persons take over the governance of the Catholic Church.

June 13, 2008: The Lane Center hosts Australian Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, depite Archbishop George Niederauer's orders that he not speak at Catholic institutions in the Archdiocese.

October 30, 2008: On October 30, USF's Lane Center for Catholic Studies and Social Thought hosted professor and abortion advocate Sylvia Marcos. Marcos believes in working to make abortion legal in countries where it is illegal.

March 10, 2008: The Lane Center sponsors a screening of "For the Bible Tells Me So"--film challenging church teaching on homosexuality.

October 20, 2007: Julia Dowd, Associate Director of the Lane Center (and other USF Faculty) attends "OutThere" conference at De Paul University

May 23, 2007: The Lane Center hosts "Religion and Sexuality: What's the Connection" activists planning session. Guest speakers included the Rev. Ignacio Castuera, President of the Clergy Network of Planned Parenthood and the Rev. Lisa Sargeant, Chaplain of Planned Parenthood Golden Gate.

March 29, 2006: The Lane Center sponsors the "Alienated Catholics: Establishing the Groundwork for Dialog" seminar at S. Agnes parish.

February 12, 2006: The Lane Center sponsors the "Is it Ethical to Be Catholic? Queer Perspectives." seminar at Most Holy Redeemer parish.
Yes, Father Privett is giving his students a chance to take a look at theology. And he has made sure that they see it from his view, and not from any other. USF only promotes diversity when it's the right kind of diversity: that is far left, heterodox, neo-marxist philosophy.
“When people ask about the Catholic character of the university, I think it is important to understand you cannot find it in any single place,” said USF President Stephen A. Privett, S.J. “You can’t find it only in Jesuits who wear collars. That’s not what makes us Catholic. Is that a part of it? Yes. But no one piece by itself is the key. There is no cornerstone without which you don’t have a Catholic university.”
There is a cornerstone to any truly Catholic University and it's quite simple: God is the cornerstone, and below him, the Church that he founded to guide us through life. The fact that Father Privett can't see that explains one of the big problems that USF is having with its current leadership.

(AP photo)

What Happened to Spring?

Do you know what happens when you announce on your blog that spring has arrived? You wake up a few mornings later to a winter wonderland (although it was rapidly melting and was already close to gone at this point!).

Sadie was very serious when she was exploring outside.

The temperature is supposedly headed back into the seventies again. But I won't be packing away the jackets just yet!

Now for some sleep, so I can be well rested when I tackle more serious (and infuriating) issues tomorrow.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Society of Jesus: A Definition of "Obedience"

The last of the vows is “obedience to the pope?” When we asked the head of a Jesuit theology department if the teachers were loyal to the magesterium he laughed. It was probably the most ridiculous idea he’d heard in a while (from his point of view). Of course they weren’t. That would limit their freedom…

I guess it all comes down to definitions again (and apparently few of our definitions match up). It would only limit their “freedom” if you define “freedom” as doing whatever you want, whenever you want. Using that definition we all have to admit that none of us are truly free. Freedom becomes an impossibility… more than that, it becomes an obstacle to something greater than a mentality that lets us “do whatever we want.”

Whenever I start to think about freedom this quote from Kahil Gibran inevitably comes to mind:
“…I have seen the freest among you wear their freedom as a yoke and a handcuff. And my heart bled within me; for you can only be free when even the desire of seeking freedom becomes a harness to you, and when you cease to speak of freedom as a goal and a fulfillment.”
Yet when you realize that true freedom can only be found in Christ, things begin to look a little different.

St. Ignatius of Loyola understood this when he vowed absolute obedience to the Pope. As I read about the two-month General Congregation meeting of the Society of Jesus that took place two years ago, I can’t help but think that the Jesuits have lost some part of that understanding.

A month before the meeting began Pope Benedict wrote to the order saying:

“I heartily hope that the present Congregation affirms with clarity the authentic charism of the founder so as to encourage all Jesuits to promote true and healthy Catholic doctrine.”

The response?

Fr. Adolfo Nicolas, the Superior General of the order (who blamed reporters for causing an “artificial tension between the Jesuits and the Pope) said that the Jesuit tradition of obedience never stopped them “in their theological research or in their way of living the Christian faith.”

That doesn’t really answer the Pope’s statement, does it? It’s something of a non-answer. Almost like claiming that they’d been doing the right thing all along.

Fr. Carlo Casalone said “In reality, obedience understood as uncritical obedience to the will of another is not a virtue.” Instead he explained that obedience is “seeking the will of God together with another person, that is, seeking the good to be done.”

You may want to re-read that last definition of “obedience.” Do you think that’s what St. Ignatius of Loyola meant when he vowed obedience? Is that what his own rule for his order states? Clearly it isn’t. But it shows how vows can be reinterpreted (and even twisted).

I’m not arguing that critical thinking is a bad thing. But when I seek an answer to a question that I have, and I come up with an answer that is contrary to a teaching of the Church (which actually hasn’t happened in a couple years) I am not so proud as to think that I must be right. Usually this quote comes to mind:
Matthew 16: 18-20

TV ES PETRVS ET SVPER HANC PETRAM ÆDIFICABO ECCLESIAM MEAM ET PORTÆ INFERI NON PREVALEBUNT ADVERSUM EUM. TIBI DABO CLAVES REGNI CÆLORVM.
Or (in English)…
That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.
And I can’t help ask myself if God has ever promised that the gates of Hell won’t prevail against my own personal opinions or conclusions? Nope, I can’t say that that has happened. But I’m sure Fr. Casalone could come up with another definition of what Jesus meant when he said that, to explain why the Jesuits can redefine their vows and their relationship to the Church.

The order seems to be expert at coming up with new definitions.

(Traditional Painting by Pietro Perugino from Wikipedia)