Are you ready for some salmon?

It's February. Do you feel the pending doom, the deflating feeling when you sit down to that dry-rub barbequed rib basket, the realization that the party is basically over, and will be for another two-ish month?

It's time for Lent. Bring me my sackcloth and meat-free ashes.

Please hear the latent sarcasm in this childish and utterly epicurean attitude toward what is, by all accounts, the most beautiful liturgical season of the year.

I remember the first time it occurred to me, maybe 10 or so years ago, that while Christmas and Advent held all the bright lights, the spiritual and (oh boy) material promise of gifts to come and a beautiful message heard the world over, it was Easter, not Christmas, that held the place as the highest holy day of the Church. It is the Nativity that brings the Son of God to us; it is the Resurrection that allows us to spend eternity with Him.

Speaking of eternities.

Lent brings with it both recommended and required abstinence and fasting (and those long, loooong Fridays and Holy Days of curtailing our meals). Don't think it hasn't crossed my mind that this year, as a pregnant woman, I'll be somewhat exempt from the normal requirements. Which is a good thing, considering my record.

Lent 2006: I fasted for most of the day on Good Friday, then had a brunch meeting with a certain high-fashion, wonderful Jesuit friend (GU kids, you know who) on the morning of Holy Saturday. After a delectable sandwich and shoestring fries at a classy cafe, I found my self mid-sentence with him, 45 minutes later, in some of the worst abdominal pain of my life--which inevitably compelled me to make the first of several trips to the loo. I'll stop that narrative there and let you imagine the ego-sinking embarrassment.

Lent 2008: My family had made the twice-a-year trek to visit us from California for Easter. I, again, stuck to fasting on Good Friday--just the regular, two-smalls-and-a-regular-plus-no-snacks fasting. By the evening, I was so collapsed from fatigue and an empty stomach cramped in on itself, I couldn't even spend one of our precious family nights together.

0 for 2 on successful fasting that leads to self-mortification. Or maybe led to more than I bargained for.

So this year, we're easing into Lent by practicing, before Lent begins, what the Church (and American bishops) recommend: abstaining from meat on Fridays.

I've done the reading on the topic, both from the Canon and the USCCB. In short, the Canon calls us to do some kind of Friday fast (generally prescribed from meat) but leaves the specifics up to the bishops:

Canon 1251—Abstinence from eating meat or another food according to the prescriptions of the conference of bishops is to be observed on Fridays throughout the year unless they are solemnities; abstinence and fast are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and on the Friday of the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Canon 1253—It is for the conference of bishops to determine more precisely the observance of fast and abstinence and to substitute in whole or in part for fast and abstinence other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety.

And our bishops, then, put the ball back in our court (emphasis mine):

19. Changing circumstances, including economic, dietary, and social elements, have made some of our people feel that the renunciation of the eating of meat is not always and for everyone the most effective means of practicing penance. Meat was once an exceptional form of food; now it is commonplace.

20. Accordingly, since the spirit of penance primarily suggests that we discipline ourselves in that which we enjoy most, to many in our day abstinence from meat no longer implies penance, while renunciation of other things would be more penitential.

What gets me, though, is that while meat has indeed become "commonplace," that makes it even more difficult for me to avoid, even for just one day a week.

Blame it on a possible iron deficiency in pregnancy (at least, that's what I'm blaming it on), but what do I want in the morning? Bacon. What do I want for lunch? Big, honking turkey sandwich, preferably with bacon. Afternoon snack? Chicken taquito! Dinner? Steak. Please. If you love me, make it a steak.

Switching out meat for pastas, fruits, cheeses, legumes and shrimp may not mean that I'm sacrificing my taste buds, but I am sacrificing the convenience that meat affords, at nearly every hour of the day.

And that, to me, for the Fridays before Lent, is my sacrifice.

Now. Off to find a rotisserie chicken.


"I am ready at each beckoning of your holy will."

Perhaps no single thing has held me back in life as much as my own doubt in my abilities. No thing has stopped me from sending articles, from failing to make a phone call, from hesitating to risk. Granted, getting burned when I did take those risks never helped (oh, scar from the Freshman in High School Incident of '99, when I summoned the chutzpah to ask a guy out to the Sadie Hawkins dance, only to be turned down by that red-faced young lad; ouch).

But really, what would life be like if every Catholic, if every believer in Christ, risked everything (or just something) to make their voice a little louder? A little stronger? A little more audible?

I hold the greatest of respect in my heart for the many men and women religious that close themselves off from society, devoting their life to prayers and petitions that go unseen to the Unseen. We may never even know who has prayed for us, with a voice that is silent to our own ears. It's not these blessed folks of which I write.

It's really an admonition to myself first. I have gone silent, with a great burning in my chest and ears, when I hear God's great name used with no reverence--I have done it myself. I have kept quiet in the 1.5-second lull after a coworker calls a person, a subject or a topic "retarded." I've seen the homeless of this city at a distance on the sidewalks before me, and purposefully turned a block early to go my route in peace.

Shame. Shame always follows. And truly, shame should be upon us not just when we let the defenseless or the poor in front of us pass by without even a blink. But so too should we be ashamed for letting our talents and gifts go unused, or perhaps worse, be used for a cause that gives little or no glory to God.

I think of the husbands that work every day of their lives for 30, 40, 50 years to support a family. What they do every day is noble.

I think of the mothers that do the same thing, in the home. Noble to the core.

I think of myself. What have I done to bring about the Kingdom today? What have I done?

So, I resolve: I resolve to put on my precious feet every morning--and to cheerfully explain their presence on my shirt. I resolve to be more confident in what I write--if the Lord has led me to pursue this, for so many years now, He will make good come from it. I resolve to make myself uncomfortably vigorous. I resolve to be an activist.

"If you are here, you are an activist. We can no longer just say the words but must put our words into action."

I give him thanks who has strengthened me, even to Christ Jesus our Lord, for that he has counted me faithful, putting me in the ministry, St. Paul writes to Timothy.

One more for the day, courtesy of a most beloved sister:

Oh Jesus my Lord, help me. Let what you have planned before all ages happen to me. I am ready at each beckoning of your holy will. That was St. Faustina Kowalska's prayer, she herself being an open and beautiful receptacle of the Divine Mercy. Amen, amen.


The mendacity of CNN

Last Friday, nearly a half-million gay marriage supporters descended on Washington D.C. After more than an hour-long rally in which a string of seasoned politicians, religious leaders and grassroots activists energized the crowd, the massive throng of gay-marriage supporters took to Constitution Avenue. It took nearly three hours for the entire crowd to make its way to the steps of the Supreme Court. Once there, many marchers gave testimony to their personal experiences and implored the "Highest Court in the Land" to hear their cry.

Umm, nope. You would have heard about that kind of a march. A frenzied coverage on NBC (not to mention MS-NBC) would have been rivaled only by CNN or a nearly-peeing-her-pants Rachel Maddow.

No, no, it was just some anti-abortion protesters, who were really nothing compared to the pro-choice demonstrators as well. Here--we'll run a picture of the five middle-aged women we found holding those iconic "Keep Abortion Legal" signs.


Many thanks to the NC Register's Steven Greydanus for his thorough coverage, and post-march analysis, of the day, and the MSM's "coverage" of it.


A little idol non-worship

The very face of John Kerry made me want, in 2004, to burn every Dave Matthews Band CD I owned.

An ugly campaign against George W. Bush, who I continue to admire, made me see the true nature of the band that I had come to adore so much: pro-abortion supporters, eager to see the war-monger Cowboy kicked out of the White House, eager to play at a $5MM fundraiser for the Kerry campaign.
(Incidentally, Whoopi Goldberg performed at the same event, but my media collection is happily Whoopi-free.)

Perhaps if Kerry had won the election, I would have followed through on my threat. A big bonfire of liberal intentions, gone forever from my life! I would be cleansed! No longer hypocritical! (Of course, whether CDs are good candidates for burning is another matter. I suppose the crackle-and-thrill of microwaving them would have proved more cathartic.)

But. I didn't burn anything. I didn't burn the DMB disks, I didn't delete the Bruce Springsteen MP3s off my iPod. I might have even obtained a copy of "Some Devil" in 2004.

What brings all this to mind is a little post from Matthew Archbold at CMR. Archbold laments that one of his favorite writer/directors, Joss Wheedon, made an unfortunate little speech at Harvard while receiving (what else) an award. After calling God a "sky bully," Whedon goes on to praise Obama for recognizing atheists (when? what?), and making Whedon feel like "I matter. I'm a person," he said.

Archbold takes particular issue with this rant:

"I think we should have more Popes. Like you know I just think there hasn't been a good schism in a while. So maybe like you know you've got three different guys saying they've got God's here. Or town Pope's. Or maybe a Fox show, "So you wanna be Pope" or "You think you can Pope."

Ugh. Archbold's reaction is right on:

"Joss, I want to like you. I liked 'Buffy' and 'Angel' and 'Firefly.' ... Just keep your anti-Catholic humor to yourself and just write and direct please so I can continue to like your work."

Isn't this the dilemma we all confront, faced with a Hollywood teeming with loud and proud atheists, pro-aborts, entrenched liberals and vehement anti-Catholicism? Heck, why limit it to Catholics? As last year's battle over Proposition 8 in California demonstrated, any Christian or Mormon was fair bait too.

How about the election of our current president? I had no idea that political disagreement was a tried-and-true litmus test of racism. Thank you, out-of-work-except-for-MSNBC-appearances Janeane Garofalo.

It brings anyone of conviction back to the unsettling question: When you know exactly what convictions the actor, director, musician, artist, or under water basket weaver has at heart, what will or won't you watch? Hear? Pay for?

And should you decide to draw that line in the sand, what will it cost you? Popularity? Familiarity with today's news and culture? A form of entertainment you once held dear? A distraction from today's sad world that was a treasured escape?

And finally, what will you gain? Will knowing you purged your entertainment cabinet of objectionable content and providers comfort you, once you've only got Veggie Tales and a few recorded episodes of "Little House on the Prairie" left in the DVD box? How about when your Mannheim Steamroller Christmas CDs (plus that Veggie Tales soundtrack) are the only plastic cases kicking around?

Well, at least you'll always have the AM radio with Prairie Home Companion.

Wait--scratch that.

I'm not professing to have the answers to these now. I suspect that if I was a stronger woman, I could indeed exist without the distractions in my life that come at the cost of supporting people who, if they knew me, would scorn me and my beliefs.


God is not mocked.

Images of the horrific, gut-wrenching damage to both bodies and buildings in Haiti's Port Au Prince are everywhere now, and without doubt, more will come. From the WSJ's piece here to the Boston Globe's photo essay here (warning: not for the faint of heart or stomach), human suffering has once again been brought to the forefront of our news cycle. As well it should.

Besides the inevitable deep grief and sense of appreciation for my own life and lifestyle that always comes after viewing a catastrophe, I'm always struck by two points. First, what do the photographers feel, snapping these sort of portraits--do they ever reach down to take that hand, reaching up to them? (I suspect yes--it's what any warm-blooded biped capable of compassion would be compelled to do.)

And second: When will this kind of catastrophe reach the shores of the United States?

Hurricane Katrina was, to put it mildly, one for the books. With a death toll of about 1,000, it robbed scores of other Americans of their homes, towns and livelihood.

And I won't even venture into terrorism and 9/11.

But there's little doubt, at least in my mind, that as we look at these disasters in other countries, poor countries, as we send aid (
a very worthy endeavor) and read news stories, that so many in our own country are ignoring the very real crisis that has already claimed nearly 50 million lives--God have mercy on us.

That was the first thought that popped into my mind after learning of Rev. Pat Robertson's comments on the "700 Club." He states Haitians "swore a pact with the Devil" in the late 1700s to escape colonial rule, and had since seen no peace or prosperity (
transcript and historical background here).

Now, the man is a Christian and a long-standing defender of, well, many good things, so I'll take the role of a Reid-defending Democrat and leave him alone (The Anchoress does a fine enough job taking him to task, and I agree with her on every point, as well as NRO).

Because honestly. If we're going to look at a country that has, through worship of the god of convenience at the altar of self-interests, made a pact with the Enemy, we don't have to look to poor Haiti.

At times, I know my pro-life family and friends feel like we're a ragged team of Jonahs, running madly through the American streets Ninevah. Does no one hear the silent screams? Does no one see the woman in pain, in self-loathing contempt and contemplating suicide, 40 years after the lie of her her not-so-simple "procedure"? Does no one care that the Holy Innocents die every hour, every minute?

God is not mocked.

Let us pray, send donations and do whatever we can to help the desperate survivors of Haiti. And let us not forget our own, domestic devastation.



I've always wanted to express this, but have never done so in such a witty and winning way. Jake Hunt at Wiser Time has it down:

You’ve seen these, right? They make me mad. Why? Because they don’t really
mean what they say.

Let’s break it down. We’ll call each worldview by the letter it’s supposed to represent. So:

C = Islam

O = Pacifism

E = “Gender equality” (=the LGBT agenda)

X = Judaism

I = Wicca / Pagan / Bah’ai

S =Taoism / Confucianism

T = Christianity

And let’s assume a very broad definition of “coexist”: living together without calling for the destruction of each other. Here are the problems with that:

  • C wants to kill E, X, T, and (by implication) O. If they achieved the world they wanted, I and S would also no longer exist.

  • O doesn’t allow for effective resistance or defeat of C.

  • E stands in direct opposition to C, X, and T, and accuses those who speak against them of hate speech. Also, they’re trying to edge X and T out of public schools in favor of their own agenda. (They’re
    afraid C will be offended, so they get less trouble.) E is actually very, very intolerant.

  • X’s existence is threatened not only by C but also by O, who invariably supports C over X.
  • I and S are statistically insignificant and are mainly on there to complete the bumper sticker.
  • T is who the bumper sticker is really arguing against, but poses no physical threat to any of the others.

Historically, T has brought about more tolerance– “coexistence” if you will–than any other movement. But the kind of “coexistence” the people who make this sticker envision is one where at least X and T are completely marginalized.


A "weapon" of life

The brilliant folks over at Creative Minority Report have some excellent thoughts on the "a weapon in the aresenal of anti-abortion forces."

In one sense, Columbia Law professor Carol Sanger (Sanger? coincidence? heritage?) is right. It's the same way Fr. Corapi, with his booming voice and slight snarl toward the Enemy says, "Get me my weapons!" Meaning his rosary, blessed salt and holy water. Weapons indeed, against our enduring Foe.

Matthew Archbold:

And it's why Big Abortion is attempting to
close down crisis pregnancy centers. In Maryland they're pushing the government to place all sorts of restrictions on them so that abortion-minded women won't mistakenly hear their baby's heart in a crisis pregnancy center.

Liberal pro-aborts say they embrace science
while us backwards Christianista types want to haul women back to the Dark ages. How come we're the ones using the latest in science while they continue with their "ain't nuthin in the womb but a blob of tissue" defense?

Who's the scientific one when we're the
ones who state that human life begins at conception and back it up with the fact that at the moment
of conception a unique DNA code comes into existence while pro-aborts just insist that every woman has to make up her own mind
when life begins. Does that sound like science?


Eight times.

For weeks now, the health care bill "negotiations" (read: manipulations) have seemed but a walking shadow, a poor player, with Reid and Pelosi strutting and fretting their hour (or year) upon the stage. I only hope that after the 2012 elections we truly see no more of these idiots.

Currently, we're seeing the One's largest campaign promises fall apart, as brilliantly evidenced by the Democratic retreat behind closed doors to reconcile the Senate and House health care bills, without the needless intrusion of Republicans--or Americans.

Eight times--on video, no less, did we see this scenario refuted. Funny how 12 months changes things.

Update: Jake Tapper from ABC gets to post the question of the day to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs: Didn't Obama lie about C-SPAN?



Less apologetics today, more domestics.

Few aspects of wedding planning thrilled my husband-to-be more than the prospect of compiling our gift registry. Scanning gun in hand, he roamed the Macy's home department with aplomb, selecting colanders, kitchen appliances and (his favorite) knife sets, all with "we're hunting, not shopping" glee.

Later, I quietly commandeered the process online, adding and deleting registry items as I fixated on the very likely prospect of these items being both viewed by our friends and family--and what messages each selection would send. "We don't have enough under $50 items!" I'd wail. "And having that $300 down comforter on there just looks presumptuous. Heaven help us if it doesn't show up on a one-day sale soon. Oy."
Thanks to the bottomless generosity of those same family and friends (and friends that are like family), we did indeed receive many of our gift registry items, and I'm proud to say that nearly all of them have been put to rigorous use since we began our household. (The wok, unfortunately, continues to baffles me, and hence it sits in the box until I summon up the courage--and the bok choy--to get it out.)

Amazingly, gift registry is upon us again, and in much of the same fashion. Though we lost our first child to an early miscarriage, God has blessed us again with another baby. So we find ourselves back in the saddle, wielding a scanner gun at baby superstores. Instead of knives and toasters, the items du jour have names like "Infantino Barn Babies Portable Teethers" and "Joovy Caboose Ultralight Stand-On Tandem Stroller." What?

I will give sincere props to anyone who's able to find these items again in a store, let alone decipher their meaning off an online registry.

In the end, I know both giver and receiver ultimately benefit from the symbiotic registry relationship. The giver knows the gift is what the receiver wants, and the receiver is happy to have those Infantino Barn Babies Portable Teethers all ready to go for the little one. The whole process, though, reminds me a little of the true Giver in life--the One who gives us what He knows we need, not necessarily what we've asked for.

Opening a few gifts the day after the wedding, husband and I opened a peculiar gift from long-time friends of my parents. The gift? Presumably a ring holder or decorative knick-knack made of frosted glass, in the shape of two--no joke--mating swans. Baffled, we snapped a quick picture with said procreating fowl and put it aside. A month or so later, my mother called us with news. She had found the store where the gift was purchased, and had taken it in not just to find its worth, but also, to understand why the couple had given it to us.

The result? It was a Lalique, costing upwards of $500 and a limited edition, numbered piece. The couple had wanted us to have something valuable to keep as a family heirloom, and to remember them in our family.

It stands as a reminder to me, going through the registry process again. We can plan, we can scan, we can check our lists twice. But should any more mating swans show up, I won't dismiss them so quickly. Often, givers know what they're (or what He's) doing.