January 10

Roaming the blogs:

“In the world it is called Tolerance, but in hell it is called Despair, the sin that believes in nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing, lives for nothing, and remains alive because there is nothing for which it will die.”~Dorthy L Sayers

We have heard much about tolerance in the last 15 years or so.  Catholics who practice their faith have not often been the beneficiaries of tolerance however.    Perhaps we can ask ourselves what do WE mean when we –as Catholic individuals– use the term, “tolerance.”

Are we guilty of so much tolerance that we have come full circle and are now intolerant of fraternal correction? Intolerant of any barriers to exercising our “choices”?   Are we –all in the name of tolerance–intolerant of those who teach human dignity cannot include any perverted act, such a homosexual behavior, pornography, contraception?

Part of what troubles our culture today is a crass misappropriation of the word “tolerance.”

July 29th

Creation happens again every morning–here is a dawn over the Atlantic:

June 29th

An amazing look at the age of the cosmos and theology by Fr. James Schall is here Benedict speaks of a “crisis of modernity.” He makes a very interesting distinction. He is not against modernity. He just wants to save its soul.”

A Catholic Summer reading list at

June 19th

In an online exchange about the Church’s taching on homosexuality and marriage a woman wrote:

“Oy… I respect and admire the Catholic faith.
Therefore, I would be extremely happy if the Pope would remember that there is a future; that in that future, homosexual marriage is a -fact-. And that in that future environment, he will be looked back upon as standing in the way of moving forward with human rights. I don’t want people in the future to look at the Catholic faith as being backwards and misguided.”

* * It seems to me that too many people view “the times” or “the future” (as the envision it) as an authority that trumps the Gospel. That is, that trumps even God Himself.

Part of the reality of the Church is that her message is timeless! It is not held hostage to this or that fashion or trned or custom or mistake. The Church is where and how we transcend the narrow confines of our own generation and move toward understanding the whole truth.

une 5th

Karen Hall and I had a marvelous dinner at a local Tapas restaurant, caught up on each others husbands & kids and work over sangria (red for her, white for MJA). It was her birthday dinner one day afterwards. I gave her a copy of Kenneth Branagh in Shakespeare’s Henry V.

Karen emailed me from a gas station en route to NC where she and her family were headed for some much overdue family time. Armed with every gadget of digital wizardry for long road trips she watched the movie while husband Chris drove.

She wrote: “I’m writing from the road — we stopped at a gas station and I’ve got access to their intermet!

I wanted to tell you that Henry V was GREAT!!!! What a great movie, I loved it so much. Thanks!!!!!!!”

Imagine my excitement–to have a friend share the same enthusiasm for this stellar performance.

PLEASE do yourself a favor and at least view the St. Crispin’s Day speech YouTube clip from the movie.

It is the vigil of the famous battle of Agincourt. King Henry–who never expected to become king, roused his men, prayed, then gave God the day as He would will it. But into battle he went, not shrinking back from what he had been called to do despite inhuman odds.

I think I could manage a march to my martyrdom if only they played Non Nobis Domine as I stepped along.

And we may need such sustenance …see the June 5th post on Properlyscared.

June 1st

Check out the delightful Saints on the note cards from Atlanta artist Ande Cook. Ande illustrated the reissue of The Little Golden Books Heroes of the Bible . You will find her work on the covers of Bas Bleu book catalogs, too. (Besides, Ande is my kid sister!!)

Bas Bleu: How did you become interested in painting saints?

Ande: It started when I did a painting for my sister of the Virgin Mary. She’s standing on a crescent moon on the back of a lamb. Instead of a dress, she’s wearing a cloak of bird wings. The painting hangs in my sister’s foyer and is the first thing you see when you come into the house. Later I got an assignment to paint saints for a parochial school second-grade textbook. It was one of my favorite projects of all time. And, I learned a lot about each of the saints I painted. Talk about some great stories!!

May 30th

Karen Hall has blogged a charming account of our visit to Azpetia, Spain last year on this date. (For her post and photos scroll far down on May 29th’s posts)

It gave me such a pang of nostalgia and longing that I thought perhaps I’d post some of my own photos of that incredible journey through the homeland of St. Ignatius Loyola.

Karen ascends steps of basilica

Karen ascends steps of the basilica of st. Ignatius. The kiosk (where she visited with Cristina and bought out all things Ignatian!) is in the background.

Shrine in town center, with misty mountains standing guard behind.

Dome of the Basilica of st. Ignatius peeping through the plane trees in the large park between Basilica and town center.

Chair in Loyola family dining room

Sculpture in Loyola Castle forecourt: St. Ignatius is returned home from battle where he was shot in the leg–later the source of his limp.

May 22

So much to keep one huffing and puffing, little time to write this version of a live journal–alas.

Did m

ake it to local Catholic book club where the selection was Rumer Godden’s wonderful novel of sin and grace, Five for Sorrow Ten for Joy. Worth ordering from an old book search service. If any of you have read it, please tell me what you thought of this book.

May 7

Worrisome call this morning--a distant family member 16 years old (related by marriage) is stricken with Guillaume- Barre Syndrome (GBS). Essentially this paralyzing syndrome is a peripheral nerve inflammation that can –usually does not–leave varying degrees of permanent damage. The horror is how quickly it strikes. Literally a victim can feel weak and tired, with vague flu-like symptoms at 7 a.m., but be unable to stand up at 11 a.m.

In this case, the teen called her father–a physician–from her school bathroom to report she could not stand back up after using the toilet. She has been hospitalized and will likely remain in the hospital another few weeks. Her only symptom that morning before school was a backache. Our prayer is that she will fully recover.

15 years ago a nephew by marriage (unrelated to this family) stood in the kitchen on Thanksgiving morning puzzled that suddenly he was too weak to lift his two year old son. He’d played tennis the night before. This sudden weakness was inexplicable, so an alert aunt insisted that he be taken to the hospital–permanent damage was avoided, though he was partially paralyzed for some weeks. We also know a young father who was stricken and never fully recovered. Medical records indicate that 85% of patients do fully recover in 8-12 months as the the myelin is repaired.

There seems to be some correlation between GBS, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and ALS (Lou Gerhig’s Disease)–all are demyelinating diseases. And there is some evidence to link Mononucleosis to GBS and MS. Patients with GBS apparently have higher incidences of a past occurrence of Mono. Frequently a preceding event is an upper respiratory infection or a gastrointestinal infection (2-3 weeks before the GBS strikes).

Young people are at particular risk–higher incidences in 15-35 year olds.

Those who read this, please say a small prayer for this young woman to fully recover. Thank you for your kindness.

April 26

Who has NOT had their battles over liturgical abuse? Keeping a sense of humor –if wryly–is a plus. Roaming around the cybercosmos I found this at

April 23, Terce

The Internet, the Good and The Bad

From Godzdogz

An article worth reading and a website that you’ll want to bookmark

Beautiful imagery, insightful commentary.

April 22, Terce

Magnificent morning!

A pair of Brown Thrashers insist that you rise early to appreciate such a day–not to lose a moment of it.

Tomatoes and herbs thrive, but weeds too. A meditation on the life around us, the Wheat and theTares, the good and the not-so-good, side by side.

One of our sons served on a Grand Jury for six months. Very Sobering. A portal into the “heart of darkness.” Afterwards he observed how it changed his view of life: You sit next to another at a sports event, or sit shoulder to shoulder at lunch counter, cross the street in a crowd…all the while unaware of the disturbed and disordered thoughts of one beside you. What keeps these thoughts mere thoughts? How soon might these thoughts become acts? The safety of our lives is so fragile. For the first time the deeper truth of “Wheat and Tares” became clear to him. All the more urgent, then, that we Christians bear light, permit God to use as as conduits of His Light to that darkness.

I suppose somewhere there exists a book written by a gardener that finds in the world of gardening a tutorial on theology. For the good fruit to thrive, one must attend to the needs of the plant (soul) with great care less the weeds and bugs leach life from its leaves. A productive garden is not an accident–at least not since Eden! A productive soul also requires a determined effort.

April 17th, Vespers

Fr. Shall has won another award!! Two in a week’s time. Thank the mercy of heaven for priests like this.

“The Dorothy Brown Award is chosen by undergraduate students who were asked: “Who is the most outstanding Georgetown professor that best embodies the spirit of Georgetown?” Several thousand students responded. Six finalists were identified and Father Schall was ultimately chosen.”

April 15th

The Pope arrives today. I am already weary of the spinmeisters. “The pope will slap GWB’s wrist over Iraq” claimed a major news outlet. Another predicts that “disaffected Catholics” will demonstrate outside of every papal venue. Others have suggested the Pontiff’s visit is intended to “influence the American Presidential election.”


The Holy Father comes with a far more enduring message that this year’s election or the petty whines of “disaffected” Catholics.

April 9th

Amaryllis bursting forth on time–if Easter had been in April!

Morning has broken, like the first morning....

April 8th, 3-ish A.M.

“Hoo-hoo cooks for yoooou?” There is a loud and lively owl outside the window. Even at this hour, there is company.

April 6, Terce

Have read so much of the impending papal visit, the pros and cons, the what ifs and what if nots.

Please pray for all those who will hear/read/see/ Pope Benedict XVI. Pray for the Holy Spirit to go before this nation and soften hearts—that the ground may be plowed.

April 1, Lauds

The phone rang before 7 a.m. Journalists research and write late into the night, and it grates when the early chirpers ask “Oh! Did I awaken you?” Which really means “Why are you still in bed when I am up, out and about?”

It is a magnificent day.

dscn3079.jpg The Tabebuia trees are in golden explosion. As I meandered barefoot in my robe, cup of coffee in hand, through the back yard, I heard the phone ring again inside.

I ignored it. The reason answering services were invented is so that you can finish a cup of coffee and check on the tomatoes before you deal with t he outside world.

The cell phone jangled. That meant the caller who had no response from the home phone was now trying my cell phone.

Dom over on has a good post on this–how we are over stimulated by incessant noise and “communications.”

I wonder if it is a plot–meant to keep us from that most important communication: Prayer.

Divine Mercy Sunday, Compline

What is mercy, actually? Any parent understands that mercy in the long run is often today’s discipline. If my child is rude and I do not correct the habitual rudeness, then my beloved child will soon be shunned by many. The true mercy is to apply the least possible corrective and retrain the offending tendency.


I understand then, that God, as Father, has been merciful when He disciplined me.

* * *
A link to a story on the marathon “running nun” at bitetheapple (not a religious blog)

A query about Oprah and her recent segment on polygamy –it seems some worry that public sentiment on the concept of polygamy is softening. What do you think?

A request to blog more about the U.N.

Meanwhile, I am in an Easter glow–we had a blessed and happy day. The mass was orthodox, the music glorious. Lots of family, egg hunts, dual legs of lamb, and too much chocolate!!

Easter, Lauds


Crucifixion in art here


March 19

St. Joseph’s usual feast…moved this year due to an early Easter.

St. Joseph, “Guardian of the paradise of the new Adam.”

Up and out early–it is so gorgeous how can one resist gardening chores? Tomatoes,dscn3046.jpg herbs, lettuce and peppers. Potatoes and carrots coming along too.There is a green wire bunny sitting in the carrot patch, to amuse the wee ones, of course. A stone duckdscn3056.jpgdscn3054.jpg

and frog, a wire ant..a child size spade, in hopes of inspiring a Beatrix Potter sort of dscn3053.jpgsetting for the Easter Garden.

We began in a garden, there was an Agony in another garden…all in all, a garden is not a bad Lenten meditation.

And, while at work, I’m also mulling over this wonderful observation:

“An artist’s capacity to move us presupposes that within his own soul something other than simply himself has previously moved him.”

The artist: The writer, composer, painter, dancer, architect…the ” makers” first moved by The Maker. More on God in His artists from the incomparable Fr. Schall–here.

March 15, Sext

Two varieties of soup are simmering on the stove. Though I think it a sign of domestic comfort, my family worries. According to them I make soup when I’m “keyed up” about something; soup making as therapy. Whatever the genesis of the culinary flurry, there will be soup for supper and plenty to share with others.

One pot is lentil soup. Impossible not to think of Esau’s poor bargain.(Genesis 25). The first to exit the womb of Rebecca (though Jacob had a death grip on his heel) he is the eldest of Issac’s twin boys. As such he would by tradition have inherited his father’s blessing as the first born.

Instead worldly hunger drove him to sell off that birthright for a “mess of pottage.” One assumes he made his bargain in jest, a means of telling Jacob “hurry up with the soup, kid bro–I am hungry.” This red-headed impetuous fellow is the father of the Edomites.

That bad bargain led to worse fates: He married Hittite women, including Mahalath the daughter of of Ishmael, hence a granddaughter of Abraham. Ishmael was the half brother of Issac. He was the son of Abraham by Hagar, the Egyptian maid of Abraham’s wife, Sarah, Abraham’s lawful wife. [Genesis 16] (Got all that? Esau marries the daughter of his daddy’s half brother.)

Hagar grows uppity with Sarah. You know what she is thinking: “I may be a maid but MY son is the heir of this rich rancher, Abraham.” Sarah, still barren, is incensed and demands that Hagar and Ishmael be sent packing. Later when God favors Sarah with the long promised son, Isaac, a pre -teen Ishmael starts tormenting the baby. Sarah is adamant: Hagar and Ishmael must take a permanent hike. Abraham is finding out why a wife is enough ( no concubine need apply) to his grief. But…

God agrees with Sarah. So….trudging through the dunes, Ishmael becomes the father of 12 tribes of desert people, from whom modern Muslims of desert descent claim their kinship with Abraham. The scripture tells us that Ishmael is “a wild ass of a man, his hand against every man and every man’s hand against him.” (Gen. 16: 12) ( Seems little has changed.)

Thus a generation later Esau not only sells off his birthright, he marries a woman from the loins of this “wild ass”, that is, beyond the family blessing. It brings nothing but loss. By the time we arrive at the New Testament (Hebrews 12:16) Esau is marked as a man from the “root of bitterness,” and that he was “immoral and unreligious.” St. Paul (Romans 9:10-13) reminds us that God’s plan was different than that of His children: God chose Jacob to be the heir to the promises that he had made to Abraham.

“Root of bitterness.” Isn’t it so? When we decide to take matters into our own hands, when we side-step God’s plan, the results are bitter loss. The Middle East roils with the same ancient bitterness that grew from divided families, from impatience with God’s timing.

Lentil soup, a staple of both Jewish and Arab cuisines. Food for thought.
March 13, long after Compline

A dinner to attend, a speaker to return to the hotel…late checking mail. What did I find? A copy of a newspaper column from the small Southern town where one of my sisters lives, with a note appended, ” You’ll LOVE this!”

Victoria’s Secret exec thinks their lingerie is ” too sexy.”

I know–it’s a double take, but seems the story ran in the WSJ (How’d I miss that?)

Wonders never cease! Sharen Jester Turnrey, CEO of Victoria’s Secret figured out that real women– with real lives –need a bit less provacative ammo and more wearable, real life intimate wear.

No kidding, says the lady typing away in an Eileen West with pin tucks to the floor–no, it’s not snowing outside…the air conditioning is set too cold for me, but the husband-half likes Eskimo air.

Hopeful note is that modesty is the new sexy. Don’t laugh, anything can happen where a culture insists that 40 is the new 20.

March 13 Lauds

I resent busy mornings-

Better to rise early enough to have non-busy hour before all stuff breaks loose. Read Thomas Howard on C.S. Lewis this a.m.

A great insight for writers–how the moral imagination can “get through” to people quicker (often) than a straight logical discourse. Howard (from others ) calls it “angling”. Don’t come at a person head on, but approach from an angle he is already willing to accept.

Approach via analogy, parabale.

Hmmn….in our house– now reduced to the original two– we engage in the art of “oblique negotiation”. I suspect it is the same category as the “angling” principle. I’ll explain another time–when the morning isn’t so busy.

March 9 Compline

I’m preparing for TV tapings,

thus am up writing/ researching. My method is not unlike a Magpie, those birds whose nests are constructed of whatever seemed to be handy: a leftover piece of Christmas tree tinsel, silk from an ear of corn, child’s lost hair ribbon…I’m supposed to be assembling pertinent remarks on the topic of John Paul II’s The Dignity and Vocation of Women. In my assemblage is this funny tidbit from a chi-chi magazine, written by a oh-so-sophisticated professional late 30’s New York woman on the subject of friends trying to conceive (After years of postponing babies so careers could be built).

Phrases used by the glitterati for non-contraceptive sex:

Early Product Development


Zygotic Episode

March 8 at / Vespers

Lines I’m stealing from others:

We believe life is eucatastrophic: a joyous catastrophe.”

“God is Southern “

“The Pope hasn’t granted a 300 day indulgence for visiting this blog…but he should.”

March 8 /Lauds

In Like a Lion

If we still had a little one at home he or she and their Pooh Bear would definitely call this a “blustery day”!

March 6


I know it is a stretch, but it is poetic:

You’ve heard the report that honeybees are missing? It’ a pollination crisis. The agribusiness world is all abuzz over it (ugh! writer’s do that). When I heard the report I though about how I had NOT seen bees much recently.

27bees_2_190.jpgThen, while watering tomatoes this morning I saw a bee–a single bee. It reminded me of the bees on the baldacchino in St. Peter’s, a heraldic symbol for Pope Urban VII. St. Ambrose is the patron saint of beekeepers, and St. Bernard of Clairvaux is often depicted with bees nearby. Among the new papal chasubles presented to Pope Benedict XVI there is one embroidered with bees.

In religious symbolism beehives represent peaceful, industrious, orderly, wisely ruled communities, nations, and monasteries. Scripture uses honey and bees literally and allegorically. Israel is a land of “milk and honey.” Jesus eats a piece of honeycomb after His resurrection.(Lk. 24:42). Liturgical candles must be made of beeswax–a sign of purity.

These thoughts skip through my mind as I watch the tiny hovercraft land on a blossom. If bees symbolize working together for a common goal –if they represent a diligence, purity, order and sweetness, are missing bees an allegory for our times?

March 4

“I’m Dad’s most disappointing child”

So confided a friend recently. But I know her dad and she is mistaken. My friend dramatized an emotion, not a thoughtful conclusion based on her actual relationship with her father.

What she meant was that she feels she has come up short in some significant ways that she wanted to please her parent. As with all children, how ever old we are, we want our parents to be proud of us, to take pleasure in “who we are.”

For my friend, old issues clouded her image of herself. Truly she has become her father’s daughter in her easy humor, the same readiness to be of service to her family and in her love of music. This is what her Dad sees, though too often she sees the “old self” that admittedly caused grief in year’s past. The larger truth his her father’s love was big enough to absorb the grief. Today he is the first to tell neighbors of her music success and how much they share when they write songs together. His view of her soars above her anxiety over the past.

How often do some shy away from prayer or mass because they think their shortcomings land them in the “disappointing child” side of Our Father’s family tree? What He really wants is for us to let Him help us write our songs.

March 4

The Dogwood trees are flowering!

Every Lent, in preparation for the Passion, Dogwoods bloom.

It is said at the time of the Crucifixion, the dogwood was comparable in size to the oak tree and other monarchs of the forest. Because of its firmness and strength it was selected as the timber for the Cross, but to be put to such a cruel use greatly distressed the tree. Sensing this, the crucified Jesus in His gentle pity for the sorrow and suffering of all said to it: “Because of your sorrow and pity for My sufferings, never again will the dogwood tree grow large enough to be used as aDogwood blossoms gibbet. Henceforth it will be slender, bent and twisted and its blossoms will be in the form of a cross — two long and two short petals. In the center of the outer edge of each petal there will be nail prints — brown with rust and stained with red — and in the center of the flower will be a crown of thorns, and all who see this will remember.”


2 Responses

  1. Hello!!
    What shows on EWTN will you be seen on? Whenever I’ve heard you speak, I am always enthralled by how much knowledge is in that head of yours!! So whatever method you might use…it works!! By the way, I feel that I too use this method but mine comes out as it goes in…little snippets here and there throughout a conversation!
    Readers, If you haven’t heard “properly scared” speak…you need to as it’s always very enlightening and encouraging.
    Please pray for Illinois in the next few days. We have 2 House bills up for vote, one is an ERA bill and the other will kill all restrictions on abortions.


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