Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Butterflies! *UPDATED* (twice!)

Ann, see, I promised you butterflies! But, I think this specimen is technically a moth? I am not sure. I am not a lepidopterist (yes, I had to look that up).

Anyway, we found this little dude last summer perched on the porch bench of my parents' cabin up in the White Mountains of Arizona. We were all pretty freaked out by it, because it was looking at us, with two sets of "eyes"! Anyone know anything about this particular creature?
*Update: Many thanks to Jenny, who has determined, after a detailed probe, that our specimen is, in fact, a MOTH.

*Second Update: Jenny has a sneaky hubby with a bug book who posted under an assumed name. Read Jenny's comment for further details.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Why I can't talk to liberals, even though I've tried

In my
last post, I told you I could write a whole post on the times I have tried to have an honest, formal dialogue with a liberal. I am going to lay out my experiences for you here, and maybe it will make sense to someone.

As you all know by now (because I repeat it endlessly), I like clarity. For this reason, I have tried on three occasions over the past two years to have fruitful exchanges with self-professed modern-day liberals. All with the same result.

Here are the terms I proposed to each of the gentlemen before we began: I told them that I was not trying to convert them to my way of thinking (I knew that was unlikely with these particular men), but that I was truly, sincerely trying to understand the liberal mindset. I find no logic in modern liberalism, and I admit that it drives me crazy. I actually spend time wracking my brain, trying to understand.

(Small aside here, for context: When I took the GMATs for graduate school admissions, I scored in the 99th percentile nationally in the logic section. I mention that not to brag, because who really cares, but so that you might understand how my mind works and why I must have things make sense! It's in my DNA, I guess.)

I love social and political commentator Dennis Prager (a Jewish conservative), who always makes the point: "I prefer clarity to agreement." Me, too. I assured these liberals that I didn't need them to agree with me. I only wanted to have clarity about what they believe.

I told them I wanted to ask them one question at a time, about things that I really, truly didn't get. If they could answer me as honestly and clearly as possible, I would appreciate it. I told them that I had had no luck getting any clear answers from liberals before. They would be the first.

First far-left guy I approached via email was a university professor (what else), teaching political science and law (of course). A friend of my husband from dh's days as a Democrat. He agreed to my ground rules, but, after I proposed that we start with the issue of abortion, he warns me that I won't like what he has to say (he is so far left that he has no problem with partial-birth abortion).

No problem, I said, and we're ready to go! I shot him an email with my first question:

"When I was homeschooling my sixth-grade daughter a few years ago, her secular Harcourt science book began its chapter on human biology with the following sentence: 'You began life as a single cell.' Do you agree with that statement?"

He never answered. Oh, he did write back once or twice after my promptings, saying he was busy working on the Obama campaign, but would definitely get back to me. I reminded him that it was a yes or no question, and that if he just answered yes or no, we could move on or pick up later, after the election. I never heard from him again.

Second far-left guy was a law student (what else) atheist (of course), son of friends. He agreed to all the same terms, we had a friendly exchange about our backgrounds, and then I emailed him my first question:

"I keep hearing liberals in the media and elsewhere say that conservatives today are increasingly radical, and that we keep moving further and further to the right on issues. Can you tell me on what specific issues conservatives keep moving significantly to the right?"

I never heard from him again. I emailed him a couple of times, and I never received a response. (Was that a difficult or offensive question?)

Third far-left guy. An old, dear friend from college who had "come out" some years later (it was no surprise). A great guy, and when we met up again on facebook, we had a very positive and honest conversation about our differences. He seemed excited about the dialogue I proposed, chose the topic himself ("gay marriage"), and I then sent him my first message of the dialogue. You can read it here, in my previous blog post. He answered me with excitement and said that he liked where this was going. And yet, I never heard from him again.

Fast forward to now. After my last blog post, I was pleased to see that a liberal reader, Gwen, commented. She addressed several issues, but not the specific question I posed about manipulation of language. When I asked her again, in the comments section, she again did not answer the question directly. I also asked Gwen another direct question twice (a yes or no question) and still, no answer.

I admit to frustration. I don't get it. I am not asking her, or any liberal, to agree with my conservative positions. But I wonder why I can't get any answers to simple questions? For example, maybe the first guy doesn't believe that he began life as a single cell. Maybe he disagrees with the science book. Fine. I don't care. I just want to be clear that that is indeed his position. At least then his rabidly pro-abort position makes more sense to me, and we can have clarity on that issue and move forward in understanding each other.

Same with the question of language manipulation. Perhaps some people think it's okay to change the definitions of words in order to promote a political agenda. Okay. I accept that. Just be honest, and then at least I'll know where you stand. Again, we can have clarity then, and move forward.

It would bring so much comfort to my crazy little logic-loving brain if an honest liberal could just answer my questions instead of ignoring them or dancing around them. Anyone?

**Disclaimer for Ann: I promise, on my honor, that my next post will be about something light and non-controversial, like rainbows, butterflies, or bubbles. Maybe little Catholic bubbles.

(Also, my recent IVF post was reprinted at Catholic Exchange.)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

While we're at it....

Why not add some more controversy to my blog?

The overhyped and over-the-top "Gay Pride 40th Anniversary" celebrations are hard to avoid, and I'm getting the media's point that we are to feel ashamed if we do not "celebrate" the joys of homosexuality with the other enlightened ones.

Yahoo even had a caption on one of its news photos of the event which read, Yahoo! is proud to support the LGBT community and wishes all a Happy 40th Gay Pride!

Um...was that shout-out really necessary?

Anyway, all this talk of "gay pride" reminded me that a few months back, a gay friend of mine from college agreed to debate me on the (admittedly limited) topic of "gay marriage." Here's what I wrote him to kick it off:

Okay, so here is my basic problem when debating the topic of "gay marriage":

I have an issue with the whole premise of redefining language. If a word means something, then redefining it seems to me a manipulation. For example, if the whole of the English speaking world has understood the meaning of the word "chair" to mean "chair" then I think it is wrong that a small group could start insisting that we understand "chair" to mean "chair and table". It distorts language and clouds understanding, till words become meaningless.

In my mind, the same thing happened with the word "gay". It was co-opted and now means something completely different from what it used to. Young people hear the words of a Christmas song, "merry and gay" and they have no idea how that fits, or perhaps they giggle. Women named Gay had to change their names. Gay suddenly lost its true meaning. That is manipulation of language that I think is political in nature and has nothing to do with the *organic* growth of language. (Would you agree?)

So, essentially, I can't debate "gay marriage" since "marriage" has always been known as one thing (male/female). If we want to call it something other than "marriage", then let's do that. How about "unions" "relationships" or even a new name altogether. But
marriage has already been defined for centuries (more, if you leave English for ancient language equivalents of "marriage"), and I just have a philosophical opposition to manipulation of language. I believe language must mean something.

Someone said: "All social engineering begins with language engineering" and I think that is true.

So, that is why I don't believe in "gay marriage" ... because it cannot, by definition, exist.
My friend's response was positive, and he said he liked the way this debate was going. He said he would get back to me. So far he hasn't, and it's been over six months.

(That is not the first time I have tried to have honest, friendly dialogue with a liberal, only to be met with silence after my very first question or statement. I could write a whole post on that.)

If anyone can step into his place and tell me where my logic is wrong, please do. I welcome it. I truly want to understand the liberal mindset, but I just don't get it. Why is it okay to turn language on its head to get what you want?

Friday, June 25, 2010

True story

About five years ago, I was part of a group teaching a "Back to Basics" class in our parish. The goal was to educate Catholics about the fundamentals of our faith, since so many of us received weak formation growing up.
My topic one night was contraception. I presented the biblical, historical and logical reasons for the Church's teaching against contraception, and I also touched on the issues of IVF, human cloning, embryonic stem cell research, etc.

We had a lively discussion that night, the students were engaged, and I felt very good about the whole thing. I felt even better when a woman approached me after the class. She was energized and full of compliments. She thanked me for the explanations that I gave that night, and she told me that she had known in her gut that IVF was wrong. She went on to explain that she and her beloved sister had both struggled with infertility, and that her sister had ultimately turned to IVF to conceive her children.

"I tried to convince my sister not to do it, that it was against God's law and Church teaching, but I didn't have the right words," she told me. "I am so happy that you are teaching about this! Thank you so much. People just don't know, but we need to inform them. Nobody talks about this."

In my excitement and pride, I basked in the afterglow of the "I-taught-a-good-class" high. Thank you, Lord, for using me tonight! I feel great! This woman understands the truth, and it is so good to be here together, of one mind, awestruck at the beauty of our faith!

Smiling, she continued: "Even though I also had infertility issues, my husband and I never considered IVF. We used artificial insemination to conceive our daughter. She is such a blessing! I am so grateful that we were able to conceive her in a way that didn't go against our faith."

My heart dropped. I was not prepared for that. I hadn't mentioned artificial insemination in my talk.

I had about two seconds to decide what to do. I could let it go, but that wouldn't be right. Not only would this lovely woman leave uninformed, but there were two or three students who had lingered and were listening. Or, I could tell her the truth, and then watch her happiness turn to... what? Anger? Indignation? Denial? Despair?

Quick prayer to the Holy Spirit, and then, with a softened voice and an apologetic look: "Oh.... I am so sorry to tell you this, but it is also wrong to conceive a child using artificial insemination."

In an instant, the joy went out of her face, and she became very quiet....

I stumbled on a bit about the whys of it, was as gentle as I could be, assuring her that her daughter was a precious gift and was cherished by God and the Church no matter how she was conceived. The woman was very gracious, but I could tell that her mind was now troubled and that she wanted to be somewhere else. She thanked me again and she left.

I felt horrible, but I was looking forward to seeing her at the next class and getting a chance to talk to her again (she was a regular). Turns out, she never came back. We never spoke again.

A lot of things went through my mind, but primarily I was wondering if she had left the Church. I was saddened and disappointed at the possibility, but I eventually forgot about it.

Fast forward about a year or two. I am reading our diocesan newspaper and there is a feature story about IVF and related issues, several pages long. The article profiles Catholics who had undergone IVF treatments but have since come to understand and embrace Church teaching.

One segment profiled two sisters, both of whom had suffered from infertility. One had undergone IVF, and the other had been artificially inseminated. I looked at the large, full-color picture of the two smiling sisters with their precious children, and I recognized one of them as the woman from class!

The article filled in the rest of the story for me. In the interview, the woman said that she had gone home shaken from a doctrine class after she had learned that artificial insemination was wrong. However, she loved her faith and was prepared to defer to the Church. She later discussed all she had learned with her sister, and they both continued to study the issue. Ultimately, they both came to see the truth of Church teaching, and both women went to confession. They now educate others on the truth as often as they can.

The joy that both of them exuded in both the interview and the photo was simply awesome! I was relieved and elated!

The moral of the story? You bubble-dwellers already know: Witnessing our faith to others is often uncomfortable and even cringe-worthy in this culture. Sometimes, we would prefer to crawl into a hole and die rather than speak an unpopular truth to a skeptical or hostile crowd. But if we stay silent, we will never know what good God might have brought about had we spoken. For every ten people who reject what the Church proposes, there may be one who is transformed. And there may be others who initially scoff, but who years later put the pieces together.

So, if you ever feel sick to your stomach or embarrassed to share a "hard saying" of our Catholic Faith (especially to fellow Catholics), please pray and push ahead anyway, speaking the truth in love. God is always ready to honor our feeble efforts!

PS: I am thankful that God allowed me to see the fruit that eventually came from that awkward experience. Usually we don't get such sweet consolation, but that's okay, too. One of the charisms of Mother Angelica's Poor Clares (or so I've heard) is that they are not permitted to know, until Heaven, the fruits of their prayers and offered sufferings. So even if the beneficiary of an answered prayer should write and thank them for a miracle, the superior would not let the nuns know. That blew me away when I heard it! Sacrifice with no immediate reward. That is true love.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

From one controversy to the next!

Our wonderful bishop, Thomas Olmsted, has been under attack for allowing the automatic excommunication of a religious sister in our diocese. This sister ordered the abortion of a baby in a Catholic hospital, in the belief that it would save the mother's life.

Bishop Olmsted is a holy and faithful man of God, and this video helps explain the facts of what happened. (And to support the bishop, please sign the petition, here.)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

IVF, and what to do with "excess" embryos.....

A few of the bloggers have broached the difficult subject of in vitro fertilization recently, and I am glad they did. It needs to be talked about. People today are oblivious to the fact that there might be any moral problem with it at all ("Hey, we want a baby, so we will do whatever it takes to get one" is the mentality), and yet it is a moral quagmire!

Imagine the wrenching dilemma of a faithful Catholic priest who is asked by a contrite couple what to do with their many frozen embryos left in limbo after IVF. Embryos which the wife is unable carry to term, and which the couple cannot afford to keep frozen. Here is an excerpt from an article by a priest in our diocese, Fr. Pete Rossa, who faced this very dilemma:
One Sunday morning I was approached by a married couple who wanted me to meet their beautiful twins. The couple was elated that after many attempts to conceive they finally had received twin gifts from God. Still, they were troubled. After a few minutes they revealed that their twins were conceived through multiple attempts at in vitro fertilization; they loved both children and beheld them with pride and joy.

Not until after their children were born did the couple discover that every human embryo is a child according to the Church. They now faced terrible new dilemmas; their first dilemma was that “selective reduction” was utilized so that their twins would survive-- an abortion had occurred. And, without knowing, they incurred excommunication. Their second dilemma was that the wife no longer could carry children to term; yet they had 15 embryos in a cryobank. They didn’t know what to do and asked me for advice. Their strong desire for children led them down an unexpected slippery slope. They felt trapped. They are not alone in their quandary: In 2002, more than 400,000 embryonic children were being stored in the cryobanks in the United States, according to a Rand Corporation study.

The couple I spoke with that Sunday also mentioned that they had suffered severe financial difficulties because of the extreme cost of the multiple in vitro procedures but wouldn’t relent on their need to pay the storage fees as they couldn’t abandon their embryonic children. They were experiencing severe financial difficulties due to the debt they incurred. They expressed concern that if they declared bankruptcy or were unable to pay the storage fees, they wouldn’t be able to live with themselves; they might have to cease paying the storage fees and lose what remaining control they had over the rest of the frozen human embryos.

Physical, economic, spiritual and moral torture is what they were experiencing.
To find out what Fr. Rossa ultimately told them, and to read a deep and detailed analysis of the role IVF in the present Culture of Death, read the whole article here. It is long, but it is so important. Nobody seems to know this or speak of it (outside the Catholic bubble), yet it's a situation that needs to come screaming into the light!

You know, it always astonishes me that even pro-life Christians, who know that life begins at conception, will go the IVF route and not seem to have any problems with producing dozens of embryos (their children!) and then disposing of them. Can someone help me with that? Is it just a mental block? I really want to understand it, because it troubles me greatly.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

3 Quick Pet Peeves, Premiere Edition!

Because I am too undisciplined to be consistent with "7 Quick Takes Friday" posts, and because they say you should always do what you're good at (which for me is complaining), I thought I'd institute a new feature called "3 Quick Pet Peeves," which I will post whenever I feel like taking those complaints public. ('Cause, you know, I'm trying to cut down on complaining to my family since I'm trying to be a better person, and it's always preferable to complain to a hundred people rather than to just a few, right?)

Without further ado:

1. I really hate that when I lose weight, I gain wrinkles! What kind of universe is this? A fallen one, for sure.

2. The foolish "feminist" bumper sticker that says, Well Behaved Women Never Make History. Ummmm.... Ever heard of Mother Teresa? Margaret Thatcher? The Blessed Virgin Mary?!! They all had manners, class, and were well behaved! And I'm guessing Betsy Ross and Ethel Merman were nice, too! Besides, is "making history" really the goal in life? Maybe for an atheist, since atheists believe this world is all there is, but not for this woman, thank you.

3. Round, synthetic-like shoelaces, which seem to have replaced the old, flat, cotton type. These round shoelaces never stay tied, thus defeating the whole function and goal of a shoelace!!

There you have it. Thanks for reading the first of many of my "3 Quick Pet Peeves"! I'd love to hear some of yours!

PS: Yes, I realize I have now begun three different "regular features" for my blog. The Doctrinal Quiz Show, the Little Teachings From the Bubble, and now 3 Quick Pet Peeves. I have no explanation, nor do I know when/where this blog feature madness will end!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Little Teachings from the Bubble: Mary's Perpetual Virginity

Well, you know I like to keep things simple and clear. No fancy schmancy theological jargon here. (If I fall into that, slap me.)

Adrienne, a super cool lurker posing as her husband Dave, asked a great question after this post on the Immaculate Conception of Mary. After discussing the "why" of Mary's sinless nature, she wanted to know the "why" of Mary's perpetual virginity.

Here's the key that starts to unlock the "why" of it:

God speaks to us in terms of marriage. Our relationship with Him is a nuptial relationship, as Christopher West explains beautifully:
The Bible, itself, uses spousal love more than any other image to help us understand God’s plan. It begins in Genesis with the marriage of Adam and Eve and ends in Revelation with the marriage of Christ and the Church. Here we find a key for understanding the whole of Scripture: God’s wants to “marry” us – to live with us in an eternal bond of love that the Bible compares to marriage.
Okay, so you got that? It's astounding, really!! In fact, the Church teaches that the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, as glorious as it is, is merely a reflection, or a preview if you will, of the ultimate union we will have with the Trinity in Heaven one day. Earthly marriage points us toward "the Wedding Feast of the Lamb" which is how our Heavenly consummation with God is described in the Book of Revelation. Yep, God wants to marry us!

Chris West continues:
But there’s more! God wants to fill us – or, to go with the analogy – God wants to “impregnate” us, his bride, with his own divine life. This is a very “earthy” way of speaking, but it isn’t mere poetry. In Mary we witness a woman who literally conceived divine life in her womb.
Holy moley, think about that!! Seriously try for a moment to wrap your brain around that truth. It should make you fall over! Mary conceived by the Holy Spirit. The rest of us have to get to Heaven before we can hope to have such a profound union with our God. But for Mary, her union with God came on earth, and it was a union so powerful that she conceived Jesus Christ -- the Second Person of the Holy Trinity! -- in her womb! Hello??!!! I mean, who does that??

Okay, let me collect myself and get to the point: Marriage is a reflection of the union we will one day have with God. Mary achieved that union, that consummation, on earth. Even the words of the Angel Gabriel at the Annunciation ("The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you" Luke 1:35) echo language in the Old Testament which implies marital relations.

We will "marry" God in Heaven. Mary "married" God while still on earth. She, in essence, "skipped over" earthy marital union and went straight to where marriage points us, which is union with God! (And as an aside, that is why priests and nuns remain celibate as well... There is a lot of nuptial imagery in religious life. For example, women religious have Jesus as their spouse, wear wedding rings, etc.)

Mary as "spouse" of the Holy Spirit is a common and ancient understanding of the Church, and you'll often hear Mary's unique relationship to the Holy Trinity described this way:

Mary is the Fairest Daughter of the Father,
the Chaste Spouse of the Holy Spirit,
and the Blessed Mother of the Son.

Soooooo.... what was St. Joseph, then, chopped liver?

Quite the opposite! Though not sinless himself, he was a profoundly holy man and a faithful Jew. He lived his life in humble obedience to God, and God had a very special role for Joseph in salvation history. As one of my favorites, Brother Anthony Opisso (Jewish doctor turned Catholic monk!) put it:
Having been enlightened by an angel in a dream regarding her pregnancy, and perhaps further by Mary concerning the words of the archangel Gabriel to her at the Annunciation, Joseph knew that God had conducted himself as a husband in regard to Mary. (emphasis mine)
Joseph knew that Mary had conceived by the Holy Spirit! She was now the Holy of Holies made flesh, the Ark of the New Covenant who carried within her the Word made flesh! (Remember the Old Testament Ark? It was made of purest gold, and if you touched it you would die! How much more worthy and precious was Mary than a golden box!)

And now let's get very real here. Many of you know deeply holy and devout men of God. If a holy man knew from an angel that his virgin betrothed had been overshadowed, espoused and impregnated by GOD ALMIGHTY, do you think that man would go ahead and have relations with her? Ummmm..... not likely!

And yet, Joseph followed the instruction of the angel, and took Mary as his wife. He knew he was to care for her and the Baby as a husband and a father. They lived as a true, real family, in true, real love, but Joseph abstained from relations with his wife, as anyone with his understanding would do. There was precedent for this in Judaism (again from Brother Opisso):
Living a celibate life within marriage was not unknown in Jewish tradition. It was told that Moses, who was married, remained continent the rest of his life after the command to abstain from sexual intercourse (Exodus 19:15) given in preparation for the revelation at Mount Sinai. There was also a tradition that the seventy elders abstained thereafter from their wives after their call, and so did Eldad and Medad when the spirit of prophecy came upon them; indeed it was said that the prophets became celibate after the Word of the Lord communicated with them.
Even today in the Church there is something known as a "Josephite marriage" -- that is, a couple validly married in the Church who both mutually agree to abstain from their right to have sex with one another. St. Therese's parents had just such a marriage until their spiritual director, one year into the marriage, advised them to consummate. Josephite marriages are quite rare, of course, but just as in ancient Jewish times, they do exist.

Oh my, this is getting long. So much more to say, but this is supposed to be a "little" teaching after all.

I will leave you with this, because I adore this passage.... You know how the Old Testament foreshadows, or prefigures, the events of the New Testament? How everything in the OT points to Jesus Christ? Well, with that in mind, meditate on this beautiful passage from the Old Testament, in light of Mary's perpetual virginity:

The Lord said to me,
"This gate shall remain shut;
it shall not be opened,
and no one shall enter by it;
for the Lord God of Israel has entered by it;
therefore, it shall remain shut."
(Ezekiel 44:2)

Holy Mary, ever-Virgin, pray for us!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Random thoughts

  • My parents are so sweet.... They pay for a cleaning lady and crew to come in a couple of times a month to do the essentials (which I essentially don't get done myself). But the cleaning up for the cleaning lady is so stinking stressful that I am thinking of dropping it altogether! I can't take the preparation! I have debated letting her go for almost five years, but still can't make that move. I really do need help with things around here, and I also just found out that one of her daughters (19 years old) has cancer. Not a good time to tell her that she has just lost a client! Please pray for her daughter, Ashley, and please pray for me to get a grip!
  • Several more faith stories have been posted since the last time I mentioned them, including at least one today. If you are like me, it is easy to miss some, but I think I am up to date on linking them to my page. Catch up here. They are all so different, but all lead to one place: The heart of the Holy Trinity. I am so grateful to those who wrote of their journeys, and I can't wait for those of you who are still working on them or thinking about it.
  • I really enjoy writing the Doctrinal Quiz Show, reading the comments, and handing out the Bubble Awards! Adrienne's comment (she's under the name "Dave") on the last post has inspired me to start a new feature I'm calling "Little Teachings From the Bubble," and the first installment will address her question on Mary's perpetual virginity. It will be similar to what I did with this post on God's will and Catholic freedom. Stay tuned. (And if you have any topics you'd like me to cover, just throw out some ideas. I live for this stuff!) I will also continue with the Doctrinal Quiz Show and any other everyday posts that come to mind.
  • And, in the "You Learn Something New Every Day" category, I have two words: Mongolian spots. Who knew?

(This almost seems like a 7-Quick-Takes post, but there are only four, and it's not Friday.)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Answer to Doctrinal Quiz Show, Second Edition... and Bubble Awards!

Well, well, well! You guys continue to impress! I know you are really in this for the awards, but before I give those out, let's get to the big reveal.

The question I posed: According to the Catholic Church, why did God create Mary to be without sin from the first moment of her conception?

Answer: Because it was "wholly fitting" that the Mother of God be perfectly pure, without taint of sin.

I said it was sort of a trick question because I really wanted to focus attention on what Mother Church does NOT say. She does NOT say that it was "necessary" in any way that Mary be sinless so that she would not pass along Original Sin to Jesus. Because if that were the case (as Lauren pointed out), then St. Anne would have had to be sinless to bear a sinless Mary, and on and on all the way back through the generations.

It's amazing how many really sound and faithful Catholics believe (wrongly) that Mary's Immaculate Conception was necessary. I know a wonderfully orthodox Catholic who wrote a brilliant catechism which had this error in it. I pointed it out to him, and he just could not see the illogic of using that argument. I have even heard wonderful priests preach this error from the pulpit.

Anyway, it's just a little pet peeve of mine, so I wanted to clear that up.

So, in a nutshell, the "why" of it is because it was fitting, not because it was necessary.

(Find the entire encyclical defining the dogma of the Immaculate Conception here.)

The awesome answers you all offered really fleshed it out even more, diving into the understanding of Mary as Ark of the New Covenant, Mary as the New Eve. She is all that! And the encyclical above discusses those themes as well. Man, you guys are good. It also gets me excited about writing more on Mary as New Ark and New Eve. That is some amazing stuff!! Blows me away, really, so I will revisit that for sure.

Finally, what you have really been waiting for...

The Bubble Awards!

I am limiting these to six awards, or else I will end up giving one to everyone. The envelopes, please....

The Speedy Gonzales Award goes to Sew Infertile, for her quick response like last time! Secondary award for being the second commenter, commenting on her first comment. By the way, Sew will always get an award, just because she is Sew. I think that is, well, wholly fitting. ;)

The Patriot Award for Best Use of a Decoy Link in Order to Instruct Americans About Flag Etiquette goes to Cathy!

The Most Courageous Emergence of a Protestant Into the "Little Catholic Bubble" Award goes to Olya! I speak for everyone when I say that you are always welcome here!

The Most Likely to Have Written Her Comments From a Bar Award goes to Jenny!

The Flattery Will NOT Get You an Award Award goes to Shannon, for making me feel good about changing my blog design in the shameful and obvious hope of getting an award. Clearly that didn't work, but nice try!

And finally, the That's Pretty Much Exactly the Answer I Was Looking For Award goes to Lauren! I will ignore the fact that she confessed a grave sin from the last Doctrinal Quiz Show (although she will have to give back her Frank Sheed award), and I will also try to ignore her explicitly voiced complaint about my question. The fact that I still give her this coveted award is a testament to my good will, fair-mindedness, spirit of forgiveness, extreme generosity and almost unimaginable humility.

Now, please, don't despair if you didn't win a Bubble Award this time, because the rest of you won the Scarlett O'Hara Award for remembering that tomorrow is another day.

PS: Second Chances, you are still brown-nosing. ;)