Saturday, March 24, 2012

Take a walk down this Broken Path

When I got the email from Lisa Kyle at American Life League, asking if I would be interested in receiving a copy of Judie Brown's new book, The Broken Path to review, I eagerly agreed. I have a lot of respect and admiration for Ms. Brown and the tireless work she has done for the unborn over the years at American Life League. I wondered what the book would be about; perhaps her own spiritual journey? Or maybe the flawed feminist movement, or the struggles pro-lifers face day in and day out?

It wasn't until I received the book in the mail that I noticed the subtitle: The Broken Path, it said; How Catholic Bishops Got Lost in the Weeds of American Politics. Oh crap, I thought; politics. My least favorite subject. Not something I would have chosen to read on my own, and I wasn't sure how I would feel about reviewing a book that might be critical of Catholic bishops. I was determined to hold up my end of the bargain, though, so read it I did. And I found it hard to put down. (As you can see from the photo, my copy is well-worn already.)

Ms. Brown explains how right around the beginning of the twentieth century, the Catholic Church in America started to drift from its roots as a solid institution built on faith and tradition, to an organization willing to adapt to the whims of society. People, including Church leaders, began to ignore or misrepresent teachings that were inconvenient for them or caused any amount of persecution or ridicule from others. Then came Vatican II, which was so badly misinterpreted by some that many of its core principles were lost in the nonsense and confusion. Contraception became widely available, and Pope Paul VI was alarmed enough to write his prophetic encyclical, Humanae Vitae.

Today in America, it is legal to kill an unborn baby for any reason. We expect mothers to abort children who are diagnosed with disabilities. Homosexuality is widely accepted and even encouraged. One by one, states are redefining marriage so that men can marry other men, and women can marry other women. Pornography is a major problem, and half of all marriages end in divorce. Politicians who profess to be Catholic openly support abortion and gay marriage, and even try to mandate contraception coverage in health insurance plans. And according to Judie Brown, too many Catholic bishops in America are looking the other way.

In The Broken Path, Judie Brown outlines the many different ways some bishops and Church leaders have given Catholic teachings a back seat in favor of public approval or personal power. While there are plenty of great bishops and priests who stand up for the truths of the Catholic Church and preach faithfully and unashamedly to their flocks amid ridicule by the secular world, there are more than a few who keep silent when they should be speaking out, and even seem to go against certain Church teachings altogether. Judie discusses the bureaucracy within the USCCB; and while there are many faithful bishops within that organization--first and foremost its new president, Cardinal Timothy Dolan--some of its programs do not necessarily support Church teachings (remember the hoo-ha a couple of years back surrounding the Catholic Campaign for Human Development and its support for ACORN?) She talks about Catholic colleges and universities, and the way some of them seem to have turned away from the Church and have become secular institutions with Catholic names. (Like the way the University of Notre Dame's president Father John Jenkins showed his public support for abortion by inviting President Obama to speak at commencement and gave him an honorary doctoral degree, and subsequently ignored and defied pleas from the public to withdraw his invitation. Ms. Brown praises Bishop John D'Arcy for his public statements denouncing this move, and his decision not to attend the ceremonies.) She discusses the widespread use of contraception, and how some bishops and priests seem to have resigned themselves to the idea that folks are going to use it anyway, so there's no reason to say anything about it. She wonders why they fail to teach their faithful why the Church condemns contraception, and how its pervasive use has led to so many social problems we see today--abortion, pornography, and high divorce rates, just to name a few. (She even proposes that our shortage of priests can be partly blamed on contraception because families are getting smaller--fewer potential candidates for the priesthood--and if parents are unwilling to be open to God's calling to have children, why should their sons be willing to answer God's call to the priesthood? Very interesting.) She discusses how some Catholic hospitals regularly commit abortion, distribute contraception, and perform sterilizations without so much as a peep of protest from Church leadership. She points out the silence from bishops on gay marriage, on personhood bills, on the blatant disregard (and even defiance) by Catholic politicians for the teachings of their own Church. And she talks about the way some bishops made the problem of sexual abuse by priests much worse by ignoring and covering it up for so long.

I would recommend this eye-opening book to every faithful Catholic. Even if you don't agree with Ms. Brown on every point she makes (like, should priests and bishops refuse the Eucharist to Catholics who publicly support abortion and homosexuality? Ms. Brown would say yes; I know many who would say not so fast, that's a matter between them and God), you will certainly be made more aware of the Church's role in society today. Since I started reading The Broken Path, I've found myself paying more attention to what bishops are saying--or not saying--about certain issues that are at the forefront of America. Recently homosexual marriage became legal in Maryland; and in Virginia, a personhood bill was defeated and one requiring women to undergo an ultrasound before having an abortion passed and was signed into law. What have the bishops in Maryland and Virginia had to say about these developments? If they've said anything, I sure haven't been able to find it. (If you know of any statements these bishops have made recently about these, please let me know!) Of course, it's been wonderful to see all of the United States bishops standing together against the Obama Administration's HHS contraception mandate, and I'm sure Judie would agree.

Read The Broken Path. Pray for all of our priests and bishops. Thank the ones who consistently and faithfully teach the truth, and encourage the rest to bravely stand with them.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

First Day of Spring

And a beautiful one it's been.

Today Larry had his first rehearsal for his school's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. He got the part of Lysander, a much bigger role than he expected. He has a lot of lines to memorize between now and the first weekend of May.

I am, my lord, as well derived as he,
As well possess'd; my love is more than his;
My fortunes every way as fairly rank'd,
If not with vantage, as Demetrius';

He's got a lot of work to do.

Last Thursday I had the privilege of hearing David Bereit give a fantastic talk about the 40 Days for Life movement--how it got started, how babies have been saved from abortion, how abortion clinic workers are leaving their jobs to join the prolife movement, and that one by one Planned Parenthoods are closing. He said that even though there is no abortion facility in our immediate area (the closest abortion mills are an hour or more away), abortions are committed on hundreds of local women every year. He stressed the importance of supporting crisis pregnancy centers and voting pro-life. He encouraged us to pray and fast for an end to abortion.

Afterward as I was leaving, I stopped to thank him for his inspiring words. He said to me, thank you for all you do and to keep up the good work. I will admit that I was somewhat baffled at this. Why was HE thanking ME? I don't do squat. Sure, I'll give a pittance on occasion to whatever charity or prolife group happens to be my favorite at the moment; I've spent a few hours praying in front of abortion clinics (but not during this spring campaign, or the previous fall one, either); I'll write an occasional blog post or letter to the editor about prolife issues. David and his friend Shawn Carney started a phenomenon that only keeps growing, and the abortion industry is scared to death of them because they're making a difference. Women are choosing life and abortionists are losing money. I realized that after every 40 Days for Life campaign, Shawn and David must come home and sleep for days on end. They don't stop. Me, I usually plan my days to make sure I get a catnap, otherwise I'm dragging by the end of the day.

But hey, it's spring! It's my favorite time of year. The light is returning and there's a new sense of energy and freshness in the air. Soon, perhaps, my nose will start running and my eyes will begin to itch (some years the pollen bothers me and some years it doesn't), but I don't care. I love the flowers and the birds and the warm sunshine, and even the thunderstorms. Bring it on.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Get Thee To the Church: St. Stephen Martyr, Washington, DC

For Christmas Joe's parents gave us a gift certificate to Marcel's, a five-star French restaurant in Northwest Washington, near George Washington University and Georgetown. Right across the street is the Melrose Hotel, and why don't you just spend the night and we'll stay with the kids?
Sounded just fine to us.
Saturday night: A fantastic dinner. (The kids got to go to Dave and Buster's in Richmond. I think they felt like their evening was MUCH better than ours.) A lovely night's sleep in a nice hotel. And guess what was literally right next door to the Melrose? St. Stephen Martyr Church. We couldn't have planned it any better. And never mind the change to daylight savings time and losing an hour's sleep; so what if we woke up at 8 instead of 7? Plenty of time to make it to 9 am Mass when we only had to walk ten feet.

I love churches with great acoustics. I love the way the voices of the cantor and the lector and the priest resonate and echo through the room; it makes me want to pay closer attention to the words they are speaking. (They also probably have a great sound system--although the little boy in the back who spent the entire Mass crying and screaming and banging on the pews was not hooked up to any microphone, and everyone could hear him just fine. I tried my best to ignore him, and resisted the temptation to walk back and politely ask his parents to PLEASE take him into the vestibule.)

I'm ALWAYS losing things, and St. Anthony helps me every day. I loved this statue of him.

There is a beautiful little side chapel in honor of Our Lady of Lourdes.
It was a lovely Mass--no choir or piano or organ, but we sang all the hymns and chants a capella, which was fabulous. After church, we checked out of the hotel and drove a few blocks into Georgetown, where we enjoyed a great brunch at the Peacock Cafe, and then waited in line at this place for half an hour for dessert, which we brought home to share with everyone.

(The one in the middle with the flower on top? Gluten free chocolate lava. Delicious, and you couldn't even tell it was gluten free.)
Oh! And we found this: the only surviving pre-Revolutionary building in Washington.

Happy Sunday, everyone! Now get thee to church!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

7 Quick Takes, Volume 44

The TV has been filled with sad news all week. First, the school shooting in Ohio; then the devastating tornadoes; not to mention the madness in Syria and our soldiers being targeted in Afghanistan. It's easy to shake our heads and ask "why?" and weep for the victims, but do we remember to pray for them?

Tonight I discovered that my clothes dryer isn't working. Normally this kind of thing would make me pull my hair out. Tonight it doesn't seem important; I can go to the laundromat, we know the dryer was on its last leg anyway, and we can afford a new one. We have our home and our family and each other. We are truly blessed.

OK, on with the Quick Takes:


Joe teased me last Friday night when he caught be blogging while he and the boys watched Star Trek on Netflix. He said he thought I was giving that up for Lent. I said no, it was Facebook and Twitter, not blogging. He said isn't it all the same thing? Maybe. But I'm learning to blog more efficiently. At least that's what I like to tell myself. (Perhaps that's why I've posted so many videos here this week, since I can't post them on those other places...)

First, some links of interest:

The new preschool where I work was featured on Monday in an article in our local newspaper. The day the photographer and reporter came to the school I had taken Curly to the orthopedist to get his cast put on his arm, so (thank goodness) there are no pictures of me.

Read this moving piece from Kathy of Faith on a High Wire blog about a recent hour she spent praying at an abortion clinic during a 40 Days for Life vigil.

The other day I made this tuna casserole. My bloggy/Twitter friend Christine posted the recipe on her blog. I modified it slightly (you can read the comment I left in her combox explaining how), and it was amazing. A quick, easy, delicious meal for Lent.

Finally, I'm sure you've all read about the fighting that's been going on here in Virginia about a bill that would require women seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound first. Christina posted some interesting thoughts on her blog, Real Choice, about why she is actually against ultrasound laws, even though she is prolife; and why she feels that right-to-redress laws would be much more effective in helping women make more informed choices. Check it out!


On Saturday morning I opened up the daily email I get from 40 Days for Life during every campaign. Their post for that day features a very powerful video from a 40 Days campaign in Australia.


Did you notice what was written on the side of the medical waste truck, the one that carries the bodies of aborted children away? "Sweeney Todd." That's the name of an actual medical waste disposal company. (I don't know how on earth they came up with THAT name.) Sweeney Todd is the main character in a musical by the same name. He opens up a barber shop above a restaurant in London that serves meat pies. He has a sinister partnership with the owner of the restaurant; he regularly kills his customers who come to his shop for a haircut or a shave (usually unwanted, unloved, and homeless people who presumably would not be missed), throws them into the incinerator underneath the restaurant, and the meat pie lady cooks them and serves them to the general public. People come from all around to eat her pies, which are the best-tasting meat pies in London.

The abortion industry is like Sweeney Todd, isn't it? People posing as "doctors" lure frightened women into their shops, telling them all they're getting is a little procedure to remove some unwanted cells. Like a haircut; easy as pie. Their children are dumped into a truck to be thrown out with the garbage, the mothers walk away scarred, and folks sing the praises of these doctors who lead them to believe that they can solve any woman's problems if she'll just offer their children to him for sacrifice.

I always thought Sweeney Todd was a only dark comedy, a made-up story of a man seeking revenge. It may actually be more truthful than I realized. And maybe the company's name is supposed to imply how conveniently they get rid of all those aborted children. (Did you see how Johnny Depp just sent his victims down the chute right to his fire-y furnace?)


One of Joe's co-workers loaned him a ham radio antenna. On Saturday he rigged it to a tree, dragged his old ham radio equipment out of a basement closet, and he and Curly spent the weekend talking to other ham radio operators all over the world. Curly was in heaven. They talked to France, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Bosnia, and several U.S. states including Texas, Mississippi, Missouri, and Catalina Island off the coast of California. They had a long conversation with a fellow in Dallas, about how Joe had been an avid ham radio user as a teenager, this was the first time in 30 years he had operated it, and how he was introducing the hobby to his twelve- (almost thirteen) year old son. The guy congratulated them and said he guessed Joe was most likely in his early fifties (to which we suppressed the urge to burst out laughing; but truthfully he wasn't too far off the mark).

Moe took a few turns at the mic as well, but quickly lost interest. He found this strange activity immensely boring; and besides, "It's nothing but a bunch of nerds and old guys!" He's right. Joe is both.

And what better way to top off a weekend of Ham Radio Fun than by watching one of my favorite movies, Frequency?

It's amazing how young Caviezel looks in that film. He looks a little bit like Joe's brother, in fact. After the movie I told Moe I would call him on the radio after he went to sleep...and talk to him in the future! MWAHAHAHA!!!

He just rolled his eyes.


All over town I'm noticing daffodils blooming. It's too early for that. But they are beautiful.


I've been working on this post off and on all week; moving takes around, adding some, deleting some, saving some for later; I was about to hit "Publish" when I realized I didn't have a Take Number Six.

By the way, I don't know why Blogger keeps changing my font style in the middle of my posts. I don't have time nor the energy to try and fix it tonight.


I'm sure you've heard this song over and over in the last few days. It was the number one song the day I was born:

I found myself getting misty-eyed when I heard the news of Davy Jones' death on the car radio. Of course I immediately began singing the song.

I was surprised when the boys said they know who Davy Jones was. Check out this short clip from Spongebob Squarepants! (The embed is disabled on this one, unfortunately.)

Rest in peace, Davy.

Have a wonderful weekend! I think much of mine will be spent in the laundromat...

For more Quick Takes, visit Jen at Conversion Diary!
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