Domestic entropy.

The debate comes every night around 8:50 p.m.

From the kitchen sink cry my stinky dishes (it's the worst when there's raw garlic involved), wailing to be scrubbed before bedtime.

From the living room, Baby J's toys sit, strewn about like colorful wreckage, pleading to be put in the toy basket.

And a trail of baby-safe bathroom toys (hair brush, hand-held mirror, kid-proof vitamin bottles) stretches from the hallway to my bedroom, just mocking me with a final mess.

And the question is: Do I clean it all up? Or do I let it wait until tomorrow?

The answer? Entropy. Domestic entropy, to be exact.

To not clean it all up is to allow the "gradual decline into disorder," as one dictionary puts it. And after the kitchen goes to pot, the living room decays into a Fisher-Price sink hole and my bedroom becomes little more than an unmade bed buried under a mountain of clean yet unfolded underwear straight from the dryer, I'd regret the decision of that one, fateful Tuesday night, the night I was so tired and thought, "I'll get to it tomorrow..."


Bishop Soto, high five.

From the Sacramento page of 40 Days for Life:
Rosary at 6:00 pm, and the Holy Mass at 6:30 pm, Celebrated by Bishop Soto and con-celebrated by many Priests from throughout the Diocese! Please plan to join us and then attend the Opening Prayer Gathering afterwards! Opening Prayer Gathering and Memorial Service- that same evening, Monday, September 26th, at the Sidewalk in front of the abortion business at 1750 Wright Street, beginning at 7:45 pm ...
That's him on the far right, praying in front of a Sacramento abortion clinic last year. And get this--he even leads processions to and vigils at various Planned Parenthood clinics when during 40 Days for Life is in its off season:
On the feast day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Saturday, July 16 [2011], Bishop Jaime Soto celebrated an 8 a.m. Mass at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Sacramento, and later led a Rosary Procession to the city’s main Planned Parenthood abortion business at 29th and B Streets... 
Some of those who attended the Mass stayed at St. Francis, praying before the Blessed Sacrament while about 120 walked with Bishop Soto and several priests in the Rosary Procession to the Planned Parenthood abortion center just northwest of downtown Sacramento.  
Bishop Soto celebrated Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament after the Rosary Procession returned to St. Francis Church.
Bishop Soto, I give you the Domestic Apologist high five.


"Something Borrowed" should stay something unrented.

Ah, it had such promise. One of those treasured, light-hearted, Seth Rogen/Jason Segal-free "romcoms."  It even had John Krasinski in it, for pete's sake!

But alas, even Krasinski, eternally channeling his Jim Halpert cool, couldn't save Something Borrowed. I credit him with delivering the movies two best lines, but other than that, the New York Times movie review acurately sums things up:
Are people in movies supposed to be interesting? This is not a rhetorical question but rather an expression of genuine puzzlement occasioned by “Something Borrowed,” a well-meaning comedy of marriage that seems ardently committed to the blandness of its characters. The principal would-be couple (one of whom is engaged to someone else) consists of Dex (Colin Egglesfield) and Rachel (Ginnifer Goodwin). They are pleasant and nice looking and utterly without distinguishing features. Watching them flirt and kiss and bicker is like witnessing the passionate romance between a canned Bartlett pear and a cube of tofu — a handsomely chiseled cube of tofu, to be sure, and a perfectly sweet pear, but still.  
And aside from the blandness, the plot demands that viewers suspend any notion that people live lives with any problems, other than their romantic entanglements. Hubby and I found ourselves asking each other: Do people really become lawyers, live in beautiful New York apartments, vacation every summer weekend in the Hamptons, and sleep around frequently and casually without a) contracting STDs or b) suspecting each other of sleeping around or c) becoming pregnant?

Actually, option c does become a factor toward the end of the film. Mercifully, the situation plays out with a high value on pre-born life--had it not, this would have been a much more scathing review.

So save yourself $1 at the ol' Redbox.


Bishop Cupich's office releases a statement.

Posted today on the diocesan website:
During his first visit with the Respect Life Committee of the Diocese of Spokane Bishop Cupich expressed his gratitude for the commitment of the members. He also shared with them his plan to place emphasis on education. Surveys show that Catholics by and large mirror the general population when it comes to attitudes and decisions made about life issues. The present political environment has become very toxic and polarizing, to the point that people have become fixed in their positions, especially in regard to abortion, and are unwilling to talk to each other. The pastoral challenge is to get people to take a second look at the issue of abortion. 
It was on the occasion of his visit with the committee that the prospect of having the 40 Days for Life operate in the Diocese of Spokane this year arose. He expressed admiration for the many lay men and women dedicated to keeping the protection of the unborn a priority in society. While the 40 Days for Life program is not a Catholic initiative nor endorsed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, he concluded that participation in it and in vigils by individuals or associations of Catholics was possible. At the same time, he indicated that he would not consider it under the umbrella of the respect life efforts of the Diocese. The Catholic Church is concerned about a broad range of respect life issues and has a pastoral tradition which shapes its approach. It is critical that we rely on programs initiated by the Church, lest our concerns and our pastoral approach be defined too narrowly. The committee expressed support for this approach and their eagerness to work with the Bishop towards the goals he outlined. 
When visiting with the presbyterate, the Bishop asked the priests to approach respect life issues as teachers, for that is what they are. Teachers create new openings for learning and reduce obstacles. Their intense passion to share the truth leads them to greater patience and prudence and not frustration with and disdain for students who fail to respond appropriately. Their witness to the faith through teaching becomes all the more powerful when the presbyterate works together in unity and solidarity. 
It is also important, the Bishop noted, to keep in mind that oftentimes decisions about abortions are not made primarily in clinics. Such decisions are made around kitchen tables and in living rooms and they frequently involve a sister, daughter, relative or friend who may have been pressured or abandoned by the man who fathered the child. Attitudes too are formed in homes and families. This would seem to suggest, the Bishop told the priests, “that our primary efforts as teachers need to be focused on our families and our parish communities, always demonstrating solidarity with vulnerable women.” 
As for the specific question of the priests’ participation in the 40 Days for Life vigils, the Bishop recognizes that a given priest in good conscience may feel the need to participate in the vigils and he should never be forced to go against a good and informed conscience. The Bishop only asked that all priests prayerfully reflect on what he has told them, commit themselves to making teaching effectively their first priority and keep in mind the irreplaceable power of the witness of their unity with each other.

Questions about limiting respect life and other materials dealing with social policy issues to publications of the diocesan bishop, USCCB and the WSCC

When the three diocesan bishops, all of whom are new to their dioceses in Washington State, met to review policies of the WSCC, they were asked if they wanted to reaffirm the policy of limiting distribution of respect life and other materials dealing with social policy issues to those published “by the diocesan bishop, the Washington State Catholic Conference (WSCC) and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops USCCB.” This policy has been in force for at least 20 years. The bishops decided to continue this policy.
First read through, it looks as if he has reversed his decision to forbid priests from praying outside of Planned Parenthood. He doesn't admit ever telling his priests otherwise, though: 
The Bishop only asked that all priests prayerfully reflect on what he has told them, commit themselves to making teaching effectively their first priority and keep in mind the irreplaceable power of the witness of their unity with each other.
This runs contrary to what many other diocesan priests confirmed, prior to this statement being released.

Also, word of a "policy of limiting distribution of respect life and other materials ... to those published" exclusively by American bishops--and its apparent 20-year reign--comes as news to me. More digging on that to come.


Stanek's "bullets of interest" on Fr. Pavone.

That pro-life wonder woman Jill Stanek has always got something worth reading on her site, and last night, that was especially true.

From what I could see, she had first dibs in publishing a letter from the Vicar for Clergy in Amarillo, Tex., publically stating that Fr. Pavone: "is a priest in good standing with the Roman Catholic Church" and that:

"because there is dispute about the auditing process and the complete audit for all the entities of Priests for Life, Rachel's Vineyard, and the Missionaries of the Gospel of Life, does not mean that Fr. Pavone is being charged with any malfeasance or being accused of any wrong doing with the financial matters of Priests for Life."
I like the sound of that. It's a heck of a lot better than “I have reasons to be alarmed at the potential financial scandal…” and  “… incorrigible defiance to my legitimate authority…” and “… his fame has caused him to see priestly obedience as an inconvenience to his unique status…”

But one post previous to this big news, Stanek collected some "bullets of interest" regarding Fr. Pavone's situation in Amarillo. Particularly of note:
  • Bishop Zurek wrote his letter to bishops on September 9, ordered Father Pavone to report for duty in Amarillo on September 13, and then left for vacation on September 13, according to a diocesan rep I spoke with. He will be on vacation until September 28.
  • While 83 U.S. bishops wrote or made statements opposing Notre Dame inviting pro-abortion/pro-infanticide President Barack Obama to speak at its May 2009 commencement, Bishop Zurek was not one – although his predecessor, pro-life stalwart Bishop Emeritus John Yanta was. (Zurek was installed as Bishop of Amarillo in February 2008.) As a Texan Catholic pro-life leader told me, “This was low hanging fruit, an easy pro-life stand to take. When the entire pro-life Catholic nation was outraged, Bishop Zurek would have garnered great favor with pro-life Catholics in his diocese had he taken a stand.”
  • Thanks to Bishop Zurek’s letter, the liberal press has labeled Father Pavone as the “third high-profile conservative Catholic leader this year to face charges of misconduct,” linking him with two well-known priests who lost or resigned their ministries over sexual impropriety.
It's that last one that is, in my opinion, the real kicker. 


Action, accusations, and being apathetic.

Word of change for our diocese has kicked up quite the dust storm here in the past 48 hours. Through all of it, there's a battle in hearts and minds: take action? Or just be apathetic?

Just to add more turmoil to the mix, news of accusations against Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life came to light today. And in mere hours, statements released by Fr. Pavone's Ordinary--as well as response from Fr. Pavone, who is now appealing to the Vatican--have ignited the next Catholic commotion. 

It's sad and discouraging to see stories of seeming defeat in the pro-life movement. I'm sure there's plenty of agreement there.  

But the important thing is to know what we're fighting for--and that being apathetic isn't, or shouldn't be, an option. All who fight for the right to life know that through prayer and perseverance, the Truth will prevail. We must also remember that no battle with Satan is easy. After all, they don't call him the "Father of Lies" for nothing. Confusion and disappointment come because the devil wants babies to perish, and for their mothers and fathers to be dragged into the pits of despair.

We remember that reality as we stand in the rain praying for just one little child to be saved. We remember it too as we have discussions about this very topic through online forums. We remember that if remain loyal to the Lord, this battle for the right and sanctity of human life will be won. 

God wins, that we know. He will lead us to the Truth, who is Jesus Christ; the Word made Flesh. It's nice to know how the story ends. 


UPDATED. The Bishop and the pro-life brouhaha.

As a former seminarian for the diocese, Sean maintains firm ties with both his former brother seminarians--many who have gone on to be ordained--and the many older priests that enriched his experience.

And so with great sadness, we have been informed by priests that at the all-priest diocesan meeting last week, His Excellency Blase Cupich announced that no Spokane priests will be allowed to peacefully pray  in front of Planned Parenthood.

In addition, priests are not allowed to promote or organize peaceful protests outside of Planned Parenthood through their parishes (40 Days for Life was specifically named as a no-no).

And the kicker? No pro-life material may be distributed in parishes unless it is published directly by the USCCB or the Washington State Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The obvious question to all of these sudden, baseless restrictions is "why?" (I think my immediate reaction was actually "You've GOT to be kidding me. Seriously?")

Bishop Cupich stated his aversion to any of his priests, "who represent" him, being associated with the group of "extreme" pro-lifers that demonstrate with large, graphic photos of aborted babies.

And with that, I end the aspect of this blog post that contains just the facts, ma'am, and progress with my train of thought after "Seriously?"

Bishop Cupich is no stranger to defending life. As bishop of the Diocese of Rapid City, S. Dak., he penned many articles defending an unconditional right to life. And especially during election the 2008 election season, he promoted a South Dakota bill which would have significantly restricted abortions.

And for heaven's sake, he's even featured on Priests for Life. And on top of that, 40 Days for Life is supported--and featured in writing--by the USCCB. They're not exactly a "fringe" operation in Catholic circles. And bishop after bishop across the country support, endorse, and participate in 40 Days for Life, year after year. Bishop Aquila, anyone?

For this alone, I find his recent decisions confusing and inconsistent.

Next, I'm no stranger to journalism and sources. I understand that what I heard came from "someone familar with the matter" and not from a published, public document. Should the bishop recant what he said, change his mind, and issue a public statement to the contrary, well, that will be a different matter. But at the moment, this is the information we have.

That leads me, then, to obedience. At his ordination, every diocesan priest vows obedience to the bishop and his successors. I, as a lay person, also must show obedience to our bishop. But he hasn't instructed me, or any other lay person in the diocese (that I know of) that I cannot or should not be praying in front of Planned Parenthood--praise God for that.

Lastly, beyond the incongruity of his decisions, the issue of hearsay, and the bond all priests have to their vows, this whole account makes me feel left in the cold by the bishop, my local shepard.

I have never stood outside of Planned Parenthood holding a picture of a dismembered fetus. I have never accosted or verbally assaulted anyone entering or exiting the building. I have never threatened violence against anyone associated with the abortion industry.

However, I have been verbally attacted while praying peacefullly outside of Planned Parenthood with my infant son.

I have been threatned physically by enraged customers of the abortion clinic.

And to hear that my bishop, whether privately or publically, has instructed his priests to unconditionally avoid the very place where children are slaughered, one by one, week by week, is appalling.

With all respect due to the bishop and his office (and it is quite a lot) I sincerly say: You need not endorse 40 Days for Life. You need not join me nor your fellow brother priests out there on the sidewalk. You need not even agree with this specific tactic of engaging the culture, witnessing to the public, and, as happens not-too-infrequently, saving a life (or a few hundred).

But to effectively shut down the pastoral apparatus behind this peaceful campain in this diocese is insulting to the many Catholics who pour their heart and energy into pro-life work.

Mary, Mother of the Church, pray for us.

UPDATE: We've heard a clarification today that the bishop is asking that all pro-life political material be restricted from distribution in parishes. However, material from 40 Days for Life, a non-political organization, is still included in the restriction.


The "last" hurrah.

A comment to an expecting mom recently made me chuckle. Past-her-due-date Mother: This baby better come soon! Commenter: Enjoy your days of quiet and rest while they last!

It made me remember my own days of hearing, for the umpteenth time from store clerks, "Wow, you're just ready to pop now, honey!" During the last, heavy days of my pregnancy with Baby J, I sat down (with a thud, I'm sure) and created a "couple's last hurrah" list for Sean and I, ensuring that we enjoyed doing everything we couldn't do once the baby arrived.

I think I came up with two things: Go out to a nice dinner, and curl my hair. I should've added "Shower daily. And enjoy having time to shave your legs."

It's easy to take your state in life and bemoan all that's denied to you. As I picked up our online P.F. Chang's order tonight, I thought back to the days when Sean and I dined out together weekly, when I curled or straightened my hair each day for work, and heck, when I used to actually wear all the high heels in my closet.

But now, we are three. And while it's tempting to extend that list of baby-related vetoes, I'd be lying if I said that I don't thank God every minute for my little man. Because as long as the list is of couples-only activities, the list can be just as long for a family of three, four, five, seven or 10.

Got one kid? You can easily stick 'em in a grocery cart and enjoy, with some peace, an easy shopping trip. Got two? Well, you can finally buy those "I'm the Big Brother" shirts from Carter's--and, you get to enjoy babyhood, another precious time. Got three? Ahh, that means you probably have one old enough to help pick up the living room before dinnertime. Got four? Man, lucky you! You can finally fill up your minivan! Five and more--heck, throw dad and mom in the mix, and you've got, as a dear friend of mine says, "a basketball team and two subs."

The grass is always greener--fewer weeds, nicer outdoor furniture, or more red wagons and water guns--on the other side of your life. And there certainly is much to be said for escaping once in a while to your former state in life. My parents recently provided Sean and I with a night out, and I'm not sure when I've savored a meal more. But in returning home to Baby J, I return to who I am now: mom to my little boy. And as lists of "hurrahs" go, he tops any list.


No, seriously--up ALL night.

Well. Here I am again--4:19 a.m., and I'm sitting at my laptop, rather than snoozing in my bed. Baby J, now pushing a year and a half, has decided to continue his streak of fretful night wakings. We weaned about a month ago, and while the freedom to wear bras that don't have several sets of snaps and hinges has been oh-so exhilarating, it's times like this that I miss the ability to do a quick nurse and go back to bed.

I keep seeing commercials for that new Will Arnett/What's-Her-Name Applegate show, "Up All Night." Commercials include a little kiddo who looks to be about 10 months old. And every time I see it, I think, "Nah! When the kid's that old, parents aren't up ALL night! Kids are easily sleeping through the night by that stage."

Well, sweet Baby J. You've proven me wrong again, little love.... yawn.


A little light-switch encouragement.

I'm not a classically "tidy" person. I like order and cleanliness, oh yes! But I also like leaving bits of memories scattered about my home, just like I used to do in my work office spaces (when my life included them).

So on my bookcases, I leave pretty note cards, sent by friends and family. In the frames of my bathroom and dresser mirrors, I deposit holy cards from funerals, weddings and ordinations (truth: I picked this habit up from my mother). And on my light switches, I tape up scrap paper bearing words of wisdom I should remember.

Here's what caught my eye tonight.

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.
- St. Faustina Kowalska