Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Doctrinal Quiz Show! Marriage and the Eucharist!

Can you believe it?? It's time, finally, for another:

And with all the blechy, icky yuckiness that has gone on in the past couple of days in our neck o' the blogosphere, I think it's time for a little palate cleanser. And there is nothing that cleanses the palate of the heart, mind, soul and body than the Holy Eucharist.

And to make it a little more complicated than a catechism Q&A, I am going to throw in the topic which is causing such a ruckus in these morally troubled times: Marriage. Everyone wants it but no one can define it. And although no one can define it, everyone wants to redefine it. Weird.

In the meantime, Holy Marriage and the Holy Eucharist remain ever the same. Including, interestingly, their theological connectedness. And so here comes the question, which begs for beautiful and creative answers:

In what ways are the Eucharist and Marriage related?

The beauty of this DQS is that the best answer will be presented as the official answer… meaning I won't have to do a lick of research, ha ha! (Well, I do have the most difficult part of all, which is the crafting and presenting of the world's least most coveted bloggy awards: The Bubble Awards!)

And for the Grand Prize Winner (who will have won fairly and squarely, without cheating, googling or cutting and pasting from somewhere else), you will receive your choice of a stunning rosary or chaplet from our very own Becky! Check out some of your choices:

(Note the unborn child beads in this pro-life rosary)

To see the full selection of her gorgeous offerings, go here.

Okay, let's hear some amazing comparisons, connections and similarities between the incredible, grace-filled, life-altering sacraments of the Eucharist and Marriage!


Monday, August 29, 2011

Bubble Comments that deserve a second look...

So you all know how I love my little contrived Bubble features, right? Well, I proudly present a new one this day!

I've decided that there are some comments in the Bubble that are worth repeating, so they are getting their own forum. For those readers who follow the combox drama closely, you'll get to appreciate them all over again, but for those who don't have time to follow all the comments (most of you!), it will be your first peak at these thought-provoking gems. I've dug out some memorable ones from the past week, in no particular order:

From Jan, on the post "Catholics: Your misguided compassion will come back to bite you in the rear":

That is exactly my point, Zach, we all make judgments and believe some things are right, or wrong. The thing is, I, and many orthodox Catholics DO judge actions as right or wrong, we do discriminate as to how we live our lives, etcetera...the difference is that we do NOT feel the need to pretend that we are TOLERANT and open minded to all viewpoints. The liberal left, however, make just as many judgments...(i.e. they have too many children, they don't think for themselves, they just blindly follow formal religion, they shouldn't infringe on a woman's right to choose, they refuse to change, they are too judgmental, they are homophobic...on and on). Yet they somehow pretend or deceive themselves that they are so much better because they are tolerant. It is a lie. It is hypocritical. 


From Barbara, on the same post:

I do feel that same sex parents are "playing house", especially when they use extraordinary means to create a child of a surrogate or a sperm donor. They are consciously creating a human being and then alienating that human being from half of his genetic history, half of his background and half of his identity. On top of that they are creating a situation by which that child will either lack a parental figure of the same gender or one of the opposite gender, neither of which is favorable for developing interpersonal skills. 

A gay couple "doctoring" up a child is a kind of "playing house". They are "constructing" a heterosexual family without the opposite sex partner. It's an imitation of heterosexuality and is also parasitic on it. Homosexuals who want children have to get some of the "other guys stuff" in order to make these people. 

The thing is, we have no idea how this is going to affect the children who are being born in these scenarios. How is not having a mother, with a mother's touch and a mother's sensibility going to affect these children? How is not having a father going to affect them? We used to consider it a tragedy when a baby had no Mama to hold him, to nurse him, to sing to him, but now we're purposefully creating it.

And why? because of some messed up idea of compassion which amounts to little more than squishy emotionalism. Some "Care Bears" philosophy in which "It's aww about wuuv,". Um, no, it's making Social Science experiments out of human lives, and we have no idea what is going to happen when these kids grow up.*


From Sarah, on the same post:

Not only are Catholic adoption agencies no longer able to serve effectively, but... these socially sanctioned "alternative" arrangements affect children (adopted and created through ART) for a lifetime. It is appalling to me that with so. many. studies. showing that the healthiest situation for a child is with his/her mother and father, married to each other, stable (and traditional adoption is unique but equivalent to this arrangement), that our culture has so carelessly opened wide the doors to all sorts of odd arrangements, going even as far to have three parents listed on birth certificates.

Many respond to the idea that non-traditional homes are a hardship for the kids with, "Oh are [you] saying a single mom can't do a good job???" No, that is not what I am saying or what others are saying. Single moms CAN do a good job. But in the past, single parenthood was seen as a hardship, as something that was not ideal, and as a situation that benefits from outreach and ministry for support. Back in the 80's, that began to change some with folks trying to convince kids like me that my "different" family (divorced parents) was "just fine", no big deal. 

Oh the damage that did! My generation is filled with folks my age who are struggling to make sense of love, marriage, and family thanks to their "great" arrangements growing up. My little mind NEEDED to hear, "Hey, what you're experiencing IS sad, and needs to be mourned, and will affect you." Not, "Oh, your father living across town is just another beautiful expression of diversity." Ugh. How does a child even begin to properly mourn something everyone is telling them is "great"??? And these poor kids with "three" parents will be even more confused (isn't it great that your daddy was a sperm donor??*). No, sorry, for the child, it's not great. The parents may enjoy their "freedom" to live however they want, but it's not great, it's not fair, it's not a "free choice" for the kids. Can you tell I get worked up about this? Lol. It doesn't help that even secular publications will occasionally run these stories about kids brought into alternative situations having a hard time with it... yet no one connects the dots. 

And there you have it! I hope you enjoyed these readers' pearls of wisdom. Don't worry if your comment wasn't showcased this time around; keep on commenting and you may see it here next time!

*Slate had an interesting article on the feelings of the children born from sperm donors, here.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Catholics: Your misguided compassion will come back to bite you in the rear

The culture has quickly moved from complete aversion to gay "marriage" (which was unthinkable even fifteen years ago) to the beginnings of real acceptance. I've noticed that most who have moved towards acceptance have done so out of a misguided sense of compassion.

I've seen otherwise faithful Catholics publicly declare that we should not speak against, vote against or fight against gay "marriage", because a) we heterosexuals have already messed up marriage enough on our own, and b) we cannot "judge". We can practice our Faith and also give homosexuals the right to civil "marriage". No conflict, they say, and no problem.

Well, if you're a Catholic who doesn't want to hurt anyone's feelings, I'm talking directly to you: Such misguided compassion (which equates to "love without truth") will come back to bite you in the arse, and with a vengeance.

Because if you believe that gay "marriage" laws will not affect you or your Church, you're already too late.

Check the writing on the wall:

This very week, an Illinois judge ruled that the state can sever its contract with Catholic Charities' foster and adoption program because the Catholic agency refuses to place children with homosexual couples. In the wake of the state's new "civil unions" law, these Catholic ministries must either formally cooperate with grave sin or end their mission.

After the ruling (which affects 2500 foster children), Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria lamented that “important elements of the political establishment in the state of Illinois are now basically at war with the Catholic community and seem to be destroying their institutions.”

Already, back in May, the Diocese of Rockford, Illinois, shut down a 100-year-old adoption and foster care ministry that helped place hundreds of children with families each year. According to diocesan official Peggy Wiegert:
Catholic Charities and other religious agencies implored the State of Illinois to allow their agencies to refer such couples to other adoption and foster care agencies so as to not violate the moral teachings of their faith. Tragically, that did not happen.
Supporters of Illinois' "civil union" law falsely claimed that its passage would have no effect on faith-based adoption agencies.

Yeah, right. Whoever believed that is a fool.

Attentive Catholics knew better, because Illinois is not an anomaly, it's a trend. Last year, D.C. passed a gay "marriage" law, effectively forcing Catholic Charities in that diocese shut its adoption/foster programs after 80 years of service. And in 2006, Boston Catholic Charities ended its century-old adoption/foster services rather than place children with homosexual couples, which was required by the legalization of gay "marriage" in Massachusetts.

From Catholic commentator Jack Smith:
Everywhere civil unions or same-sex marriages have become the law, they have been used to shut Catholic Charities out of adoption and foster care services. And there is no reason to expect they won’t be used to erode other religious freedoms down the road.


Now, unlike other civil union and gay "marriage" laws, the recent New York State gay "marriage" law did include a religious exemption, which placated a few nervous legislators, but which shouldn't bring Catholics much comfort. Some religious entities are protected from having to accommodate gay "marriages", but as one Christian wisely put it: "We didn't need any protection before!" True, that. Yesterday we weren't discriminating, but today we are. We are "protected" now, but protections for discriminators won't last long.

After all, dear Catholics, when grave sin is re-categorized as a societal virtue and a civil rightthen you and your Church are suddenly the ones in violation and will be penalized for speaking or acting in opposition.

If you think, as I naively once did, that the general public will be horrified by the loss of so many wonderful, longstanding Catholic charities, think again. Most Americans are clueless about what's happening, and the secular left loathes the Catholic Church. We've had at least one atheist in the Bubble state with pride that she would be pleased to see a world without the Catholic Church, and she is far from alone in her desire.

Unfortunately, the secular left have a lot of political power.

Worse still, they are aided and abetted by a cadre of dissident Catholic politicians who are more than happy to betray their own Church and Lord in exchange for worldly accolades and thirty pieces of silver. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Vice President Joe Biden --and a host of others -- all have a hand in the present and future persecution of the Catholic Church and her ministries, and all will bear responsibility for our individual and institutional loss of religious freedom.

If faithful Catholics don't stand up and fight with courage soon, we will see a day when Catholic hospitals are compelled to civil disobedience, crisis pregnancy centers (now targeted across the nation) are forcibly shut, and other religious freedoms and charities are gravely harmed (as with the new contraceptive mandate, which caused a "national violation of conscience and an attack on Catholic intermediate institutions"). Even today, merely speaking Christian truth as a private citizen could cost a man his livelihood.

And so I implore you, fellow Catholics: Stop trying to "get along" with the world. The world hates you as it hated Christ, an assurance we have from Our Lord Himself*. The new age of secularism is upon us, and its endless drone of "tolerance" does not apply to you.

Catholics-who-don't-want-to-offend, you will inevitably offend someone, and the only question is who. If any of us is more worried about offending our fellow man than we are about offending God, it's time to reassess our commitment to Jesus Christ, as St. Paul said:
Am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ. -- Galatians 1:10
We cannot serve two masters. And if you are still confused about your responsibility as a Catholic in the public square, drink in the words of Pope Benedict XVI, who makes your choice beautifully clear:
As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable. Among these the following emerge[s] clearly today:

...Recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family as a union between a man and a woman based on marriage and its defense from attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different forms of union which in reality harm it and contribute to its destabilization, obscuring its particular character and its irreplaceable social role….   (2006 speech to European politicians, emphasis mine)
Being faithful to Church teaching and courageous in the public square is our calling as Catholics! Faithful courage -- as opposed to misguided compassion -- will not only help save the Church's mission and charities in America, it might save your own butt, as well.

Not to mention your soul.

*John 15:18 (What? You don't believe Him?)

Monday, August 22, 2011

What I Never Learned, Part V: Jesus as the "Lamb of God"

Years ago, I sent out some "catechesis emails" to interested friends and family. They, like me, never really learned much in Catholic religious education and CCD classes (I was catechized in the 1970s and '80s). What I wrote was pretty basic stuff, and I thought some of the Bubble readers might like the overview. 

Okay, let's get cracking with the next installment!

In the Gospels, we read some explosive words spoken by Jesus’ cousin, St. John the Baptist. John had been baptizing people in the Jordan River, preparing them for the Messiah (Jesus) who was to come:

The next day he [John the Baptist] saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” -- John 1:29

And then:

The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples; and he looked at Jesus as he walked, and said: "Behold, the Lamb of God!" -- John 1:35-36

Why is this title so important, shocking, explosive? Because calling Jesus the "Lamb of God" implies that Jesus was to be sacrificed. John the Baptist was actually making a prophesy that Jesus would die as a sacrificial offering. Lambs were routinely sacrificed by the Jews in the worship of God, as you'll recall from the last installment, and that fact is of great significance to Christians.

"As an old saying put it, the New Testament lies hidden in the Old and the Old Testament is unveiled in the New" (CCC* 129). When something in the Old Testament foreshadows, or points to, something in the New Testament, we call that a prefigurement or a type. Typology (studying the prefigurements in the Bible) is the most exciting way to look at Scripture. I could give you a zillion examples, but today I want to show you some prefigurements of Christ as the Lamb of God.

Let’s look back a couple thousand years before Christ, to the story of Abraham and Isaac (Genesis, chapter 22).

Abraham and his wife Sarah were a very elderly couple who were finally blessed with a son, Isaac, whom they adored as you can imagine. One day, when Isaac was a boy, God tested Abraham’s faith. He asked Abraham to take Isaac to Mount Moriah and offer him (yep, his son!) as a sacrifice.

So, Abraham took his son (who had no idea that he was to be sacrificed -- yikes!) and went up the mountain. Isaac carried the wood for the sacrifice upon his back. Isaac was puzzled and asked his father, “Where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb.”  When they arrived, Abraham built an altar, placed the wood in order, tied up Isaac and laid him upon the wood, then lifted his knife to slay his son. At that moment, an angel of God called to him from heaven and told him, “Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” Just then, Abraham saw a ram in the distance that was caught in the thickets by its horns, and he offered the ram as a sacrifice instead of his son. After this, God made His profound covenant with Abraham.

Of course, there are oodles of things to analyze and discover in this passage, on many levels. But let’s see how it prefigures Jesus, as the Lamb of God:

In the Old Testament story, Abraham is to sacrifice his beloved son on Mount Moriah.
In the New Testament fulfillment, God’s beloved Son (Jesus), is sacrificed on the hills of the same mountain range as Mount Moriah (Jerusalem).

In the Old Testament story, Isaac carried the wood for his own sacrifice on his back.
In the New Testament fulfillment, Jesus carried the wood for His own sacrifice on His back.

In the Old Testament story, Abraham said that “God will provide the sacrifice.”
In the New Testament fulfillment, God did provide the real and perfect Sacrifice – Jesus.

In the Old Testament story, Abraham did not withhold his only beloved son from God.
In the New Testament fulfillment, it is God Who did not withhold His only beloved Son from us.

As we see from the story, God would never require us to sacrifice our own children as an offering to Him.** He tested Abraham to see if Abraham would put anything, even his dearly beloved son, before his love of God. When Abraham's actions proved that he loved God above all else, God blessed Abraham and all of his descendants (that’s us, by the way!).

When God and Abraham had this exchange, God already knew that one day, far in the future, He would provide His Son as the Sacrifice -- a willing Victim Who, for love of poor sinners, would take on our sins and save us. When we understand Jesus as the "Lamb of God", we can read this Old Testament passage with new eyes.

This story of Abraham and Isaac was really about Jesus Christ all along.

Next time, I’ll give you another powerful prefigurement of Jesus as the Lamb of God.  And it ties into the Mass and the Eucharist as well. Go here for Part VI.

*Catechism of the Catholic Church

**This episode certainly showed to Abraham and all his descendants that child sacrifice was never to be part of the worship of God; this was one of the many ethical truths that separated the Jews from the pagans. 


Sunday, August 21, 2011


World Youth Day 2011 has just ended, and I hope you have seen the images! Over 1.5 million teens and young adults from around the globe, waving flags from every nation, full of joy, laughter, and excitement, peacefully united in Madrid, Spain to be in the presence of… 
an 84-year-old man! 

Whom they love very much. 

And why? Because this 84-year-old man, the Vicar of Christ on earth, the successor of St. Peter himself, is the one who proclaims Jesus Christ, our Resurrected Lord, to the world. The message of Truth, Goodness and Beauty still resonates with and transforms young people, even in a jaded, increasingly secular world. (A world that doesn't realize that the Light of Christ can never be extinguished.)

The Church is very, very old, and yet the Church is always young!

Watch this video for super quick and inspiring overview of the World Youth Days (including a clip of JPII's voice that gets me all choked up):

Next stop? Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2013!


A little PSA: Our very own Bubble Buddy, Brent Stubbs (former Pentecostal) will be on EWTN's Journey Home with Marcus Grodi, Monday, August 22 at 8:00pm est. I can't wait!

Friday, August 19, 2011

7 Things This Blog is Not

Had a little bloggy trouble lately, plus I'm still occupied in the combox over here (which has spilled over into a second page), but at least I'm getting to my Quick Takes, and they have a theme this week!

7 Things This Blog is Not

1. This blog is not sophisticated. But you already knew that.

2. This is not a "feel-good" blog. In fact, it might make you feel very bad! (Nothing against feel-good blogs, by the way! It's just not my gift.)

3. This is not a blog that my husband or older children read regularly. Well, maybe my eldest daughter does, but pretty much the rest ignore it. My husband is supportive, but he's not the blog-reading type. He did write a guest post once, though. And he did pose for a funny picture. (Keep cooking, babe, and we're good!)

4. This is not a mommy blog, although I have occasionally done a mommy post (like here, here and here), and sometimes shades of mommy outrage come out (like here, here and here). But generally, I don't do mommyhood itself well enough to write about it. (Hmmmm, I might do a post soon about that fact, actually.)

5. This is not a Catholic-looking blog. I mentioned before that for some strange reason, I want my blog to look like a candy shop or an ice cream parlor. Come on in the Bubble and have a strawberry malt!

6. This blog is not a one-woman show. It works because of all the contributors' comments and discussions that follow the posts. It always thrills me to hear from lurkers who are riveted to those discussions, because I am riveted, too!

7. Finally, this blog is not cool like the brand new VirtuousPla.net! What? You haven't see it yet? Go now and check it out! It features a ton of young, hip and brilliant Catholic contributors, some whom you might already recognize. (Don't rub it in that I could be their mother!).

Speaking of which, I'm off to take another child to college tomorrow. Have a great weekend, and thanks to Jen for hosting!


Monday, August 15, 2011

When devout secularists and devout Catholics agree...

…then it's time for everyone else to pay attention, because a point of great clarity has likely been reached.

A few examples of what I mean:

Embryonic Stem Cell Research and In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

Years ago, I was listening to Ron Reagan, Jr. (avowed leftist and atheist) advocate on television for embryonic stem cell research. Young Ron was strongly in support of using "excess" human embryos from IVF labs for research material. He caught my full attention when he dismissed pro-lifers' objections to embryo research by noting with a smug chuckle: "Look, if pro-life Christians were really interested in the protection of human embryos, if they really thought those embryos were babies, they'd be against IVF as well. But they're not!"

That "gotcha" statement had me yelling speaking calmly to Ron through the TV: "Why, yes! You are right, Ron, that one cannot logically oppose the use of embryos for research and support IVF at the same time. The Catholic Church teaches that both embryonic stem cell research and IVF are immoral. Both violate the dignity of the smallest humans, and ultimately lead to their mass destruction. The Catholic Church is utterly consistent when it comes to the life issues." (Okay, I didn't use those exact words, but that's what I meant.)

Ron thought he was making a clever point. He was; he just didn't realize that the Church had been making that point for years. 

Contraception and Homosexual "Marriage"

In July 1997, Philip Lawler wrote an excellent article about homosexuality in The Catholic World Report, which I've saved to this day. In it, Lawler quotes homosexual activist Andrew Sullivan* from his book, Virtually Normal
The heterosexuality of marriage is intrinsic only if it is understood to be intrinsically procreative; but [with the acceptance of contraception] that definition has long ago been abandoned by Western society.
The response from Lawler, a faithful Catholic:
If Sullivan's premise is correct, then his logic is inexorable. If [sex] is robbed of its distinctive quality -- its fecundity -- then there is no rational explanation for a public policy that restricts that franchise to heterosexuals.
They are right. If a culture accepts the marriage act stripped of its essence and purpose, with willfully sterilized sex now the norm within marriage, then that culture will be hard pressed to find a philosophical leg to stand on when traditional marriage needs defending. Pro-contraception Christians are in a particularly hard spot.

The redefining of marriage began with society's acceptance of contraception, and both gay activists and the Catholic Church know it.

(Update April 2013: More secularists make the connection, here.)

Contraception and Abortion

Those who approve of contraception but are uncomfortable with abortion will deny the link between contraception and abortion all day long. But how then to explain the similarity of reasoning between the liberal, pro-abortion Supreme Court justices and the pro-life Pope in Rome? Though diametrically opposed on this issue, both sides "get it": There is a symbiotic relationship between contraception and abortion that cannot logically be denied.

Liberals on the U.S. Supreme Court, Casey v. Planned Parenthood, 1992 (emphases mine):
...for two decades of economic and social developments, [people] have organized intimate relationships and made choices that define their views of themselves and their places in society, in reliance on the availability of abortion in the event that contraception should fail. The ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives...  
...In some critical respects abortion is of the same character as the decision to use contraception.

Pope John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae (emphases mine):
But despite their differences of nature and moral gravity, contraception and abortion are often closely connected, as fruits of the same tree. It is true that in many cases contraception and even abortion are practised under the pressure of real-life difficulties, which nonetheless can never exonerate from striving to observe God's law fully. Still, in very many other instances such practices are rooted in a hedonistic mentality unwilling to accept responsibility in matters of sexuality, and they imply a self-centered concept of freedom, which regards procreation as an obstacle to personal fulfilment. The life which could result from a sexual encounter thus becomes an enemy to be avoided at all costs, and abortion becomes the only possible decisive response to failed contraception.
If opposing sides understand the connection, why is it hard for the "middle" to see?

Abortion and Infanticide

Atheist Peter Singer (a utilitarian and celebrated Princeton bioethicist) believes that most people are missing something important in the debates about human life and death. His logical mind agrees with the Catholic Church that "viability" and "birth" are utterly arbitrary designations when discussing the morality of abortion and infanticide:
[I]n discussing abortion, we saw that birth does not mark a morally significant dividing line. I cannot see how one could defend the view that fetuses may be 'replaced' before birth, but newborn infants may not be. Nor is there any other point, such as viability, that does a better job of dividing the fetus from the infant. Self-consciousness, which could provide a basis for holding that it is wrong to kill one being and replace it with another, is not to be found in either the fetus or the newborn infant. -- "Taking Life: Humans", from Practical Ethics, 1993.
Singer understands that abortion and infanticide are not morally different. "Viability" and birth itself are illusory lines drawn by abortion proponents to make themselves feel a moral distinction where there is none.

Of course, while Singer horrifically uses this truth to make the case for infanticide, the Church uses this same truth to call for the protection of all innocent human life, beginning at conception.

Pope John Paul II called the battle we face The Culture of Life vs. The Culture of Death, with lines clearly drawn. But those who deny the very existence of a culture war insist that the "truth" lies somewhere in the gray and shadowy middle, and that we can safely dismiss the two "extremes". I am grateful, therefore, for the refreshing clarity of Peter Singer when he spoke about his philosophical, spiritual, and cultural nemesis, Pope John Paul II:

"I sometimes think that he and I at least share the virtue of seeing clearly what is at stake."

May the rest of us have the grace to see it clearly, too.

*Sullivan identifies as Catholic, but he takes the position of the secular left when it comes to gay "marriage" and social issues. He has described himself as a "religious secularist" and a "dogged defender of…secularism."


Friday, August 12, 2011

Quick Takes! School, shameless popery, and barbarians

Here we go with some randomness for the week!

1. Back to school time around here. My oldest just went back to college for her junior year, and in just a few days we are taking our second child to college for his freshman year! Three kids started back at their middle school/high school this week, and in a week or so I have two little redheads going to first grade and kindergarten! That will leave just me and the one-year-old at home -- the one whom I sometimes call Benevolent Destruction.

2. Perhaps during Benevolent Destruction's ever-shortening nap time I will be able to complete and polish the dozens of half-written blog posts that have been left to stagnate in my drafts file. Or I could do the five thousand and one things around the house that could not be done when ten bodies occupied the house, all day, all night, all summer long. Or, maybe I will just take a nap when Benevolent Destruction does.

3. I so appreciated the comments on my book recommendation post, because they made me realize that I should have made a huge disclaimer before I wrote it. Mine is not an exhaustive list, nor even a short list of essential Catholic classics. I didn't want to recommend anything that I haven't yet read (now there's a long list!). My little list consists only of those books that I find myself referencing often, or that I have read, loved, and remembered for years thereafter. However, I am thrilled that Brandon Vogt offered his much more complete list of the Best Catholic Books of All Time. Unfortunately, at the rate I'm going, I'll be dead before I get through the first couple of sections. Sigh. Well, I'll read them in Heaven. Assuming I make it to Heaven. But then again, if I do make it to Heaven, then I won't need or want to read the books anymore. Ah, the irony!

4. Found a blog I love, and it covers many of the same themes that we do here at the Bubble, but with so much more depth. If you haven't had a chance to check out Joe's amazingness at Shameless Popery, please do that now. The Bubble will never grow up and become sophisticated, but if it did, it would want to be Joe's blog for sure!

5. Ummm, so I'm sorry if this offends any of our friends on the Left, but the following two articles really said all I want to say about the barbarians who have been rioting, looting, burning, and terrorizing London.

The British writer describes the mobs this way:
[A] large, amoral, brutalised sub-culture of young British people who lack education because they have no will to learn, and skills which might make them employable. They are too idle to accept work waitressing or doing domestic labour, which is why almost all such jobs are filled by immigrants. They have no code of values to dissuade them from behaving anti-socially or, indeed, criminally, and small chance of being punished if they do so. They have no sense of responsibility for themselves, far less towards others, and look to no future beyond the next meal, sexual encounter or TV football game. They are an absolute deadweight upon society, because they contribute nothing yet cost the taxpayer billions. Liberal opinion holds they are victims….
Read the whole sickening thing, here.

Ann Coulter's take on the (majority white) barbarians includes some interesting specifics on the dehumanizing disaster that is the British welfare state:

It ain't pretty.

And, it's an odd association I know, but I keep thinking that "Mrs. Duggar's kids would not be involved in this type of thuggery!"

6. Speaking of barbarians, there have been more bombings of Catholic churches in the Middle East, including this one in Iraq. Please never forget to pray for our Arab brothers and sisters in Christ who are under siege and live in constant fear. And for me it's personal, as these are my people.

But since we are speaking of Catholic churches, I won't leave it on an ugly note. Please look at these amazing photos of an underground salt church in a salt mine in Poland! Even the chandeliers are made of salt! I love my bubble of faithful Catholics no matter where they are. Best people in the world. (I almost said "salt of the earth!" heh heh heh)

7. Finally, I watched the Republican Presidential Debate last night. I liked some candidates a lot more than some others, but I am left with one overwhelming feeling: Anybody but Obama.

2012 simply cannot come fast enough.

Thanks to Jen, for hosting!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Guess who's in your neighborhood?

As I drive around town shuttling kids to and fro, I pass by one or more Catholic churches. On my good days, I remember Who is inside, and I make a quick head bow and the Sign of the Cross as I pass. Sometimes I think of all the cars whizzing by these churches, with occupants going about their business who have no idea that the Creator of the universe -- the one Who thought them into existence -- is only a few yards away. Most wouldn't believe me if I told them. 

Yet, the Church's best kept secret is no secret at all. The Second Person of the Holy Trinity, The Word Incarnate Jesus Christ, Who existed before the Creation of the world, through Whom all things were made, our Redeemer and Savior, dwells in the tabernacles of every Catholic Church in the world.

And you can go visit Him. Even if you're not Catholic.

This personal encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist is no academic exercise, no theological theory, no mere symbol. Protestants worry that Catholics worship Mary, but their worry is misplaced. We don't worship Mary, but we do worship that "piece of bread" in the monstrance as God. Now that is something to worry about, if the wafer is just a wafer. Talk about idolatry! 

But of course, that "piece of bread", once consecrated, is no longer bread at all, but is the whole, living, resurrected Christ: Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. I know! It's crazy! Nothing could be more absurd. Well, except maybe an infinite, omniscient, omnipotent God who chose to become a man in the first place.

For those who seek God, for those who crave God, or for those who do not believe in God but secretly want to, go to the Lord hidden under the appearance of bread. Find a Catholic parish nearby that has regular hours of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. That is when the consecrated Host (Jesus in the Eucharist) is exposed in a monstrance and placed on the altar or in a special adoration chapel, for all souls to come and adore Him in silence and prayer.

Some people visit Jesus daily, some weekly, some whenever they need the grace and peace that comes from even a few moments in the presence of the Lord. Going to adoration changes you. 

"Be still, and know that I am God."

The next time you drive by a Catholic church, think of Who is inside, think of the healing, comfort, peace and love He offers, and consider stopping in to see our God Who is right in the neighborhood, and Who is waiting for you:

"I am the Bread of Life"

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Recommendations for your Catholic library!

Finally, I have begun my promised (preliminary) list of book recommendations! This page is a work in progress, and it will change over time. When it is all done being a regular post, I will permanently link it to the top of my blog, and I will alert you to any important changes or additions as they happen.

Here we go….


 Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic

This is the book I constantly recommend for Protestant evangelicals who are thinking of becoming Catholic, or for Catholics who desire to speak to Protestant evangelicals about Catholic beliefs. It's simple and thorough, written to members of Currie's own dismayed family upon his conversion to Catholicism, in language that they could understand.

The chapter on "Authority Focused" is worth the price of the book, as it historically illustrates (with charts and stories, in a way I've never seen before) the breathtaking protection from heresy that the Holy Spirit has provided to the Bishop of Rome (the Pope) throughout the centuries.


Any Friend of God's Is a Friend of Mine: A Biblical and Historical Explanation of the Catholic Doctrine of the Communion of Saints

By far the most common questions I get from Protestants are question about the Communion of Saints: Praying to saints (more accurately, asking them to pray for us), statues vs. idols, relics, prayers for the dead and Purgatory, honoring Mary, etc. Anything and everything about the saints and their connection to us is discussed, and common Protestant objections are addressed with Scripture, history and logic.

I love, love, love that this book is short and clear and easy to read. Excellent resource!


Handbook of Christian Apologetics, by Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli

Handbook of Christian Apologetics

This is that book you need when answering atheists, secularists and skeptics on the big issues of God and Christianity. Using Aristotelian logic, Kreeft and Tacelli (philosophy professors) bring clarity to questions such as:

Do faith and reason conflict?
Does God exist?
How can God allow evil?
Is there life after death?
Was Jesus raised from the dead?
Is Christianity the only true religion?
... and more.

If you love sound reasoning, clarity, the Socratic method, and intellectual rigor, you'll love reading through the chapters of the book (which can be read in any order). It's especially helpful when you have teenagers in the house! 

Handbook of Christian Apologetics was written from a "mere Christianity" (Protestant and Catholic) perspective; later the authors produced Handbook of Catholic Apologetics, and from what I've heard, it's quite similar to the first book, but with some Catholic specifics. Get either one as a staple for your library.


The Spirit of Catholicism (Milestones in Catholic Theology)

A classic (first edition was in 1924), a personal favorite, and one of the only books I've read twice. Absolutely beautiful presentation of the Catholic Faith, almost poetic. I really cannot say enough about it. 


The Prove It! books for teens, by Amy Welborn

Prove It! God: Revised EditionProve It! JesusProve It! Church
Prove It! PrayerProve It! You

If your teens are asking the bigger questions about the Catholic Church (or God and Jesus in general), send one or more of these books their way. No nonsense, to the point, just the kind of clarity their seeking minds crave in this era of fuzzy thinking. Adults who need answers will get a lot out of the series, too.


The Ordinary Path to Holiness, by R. Thomas Richard

The Ordinary Path to Holiness

I described this earlier as a book that changed my life. Why don't Catholics know about the three traditional stages of holiness anymore? Well, now you have no excuse. It cleared up so much for me, and suddenly, the path to holiness was visible -- even somewhat linear -- and made sense. I could get my bearings and identify where I was (not too far on that path, ha ha) and where I needed to go. I'm not even close to the goal, but at least I see the road and all the signposts.


The Way of the Disciple, by Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis

The Way of the Disciple

When young, serene, beautiful cloistered nuns get positively schoolgirl-giddy while recommending a book to me, I listen! I immediately bought and read this great work and was as enthralled as they were. In this book, the reader is placed as an unseen witnesses in the midst of six familiar gospel scenes and is given new insight into what it means to be a disciple of Christ. The chapter on the woman at the well ("The Abandoned Pitcher") has never left me. I imagine it leaves most Christian women swooning. Little book, huge impact.


Gut Check: Confronting Love, Work, and Manhood in Your Twenties, by Tarek Saab

Gut Check: Confronting Love, Work, & Manhood (2nd Edition)

Anyone who knows me in real life has heard me decry the catastrophic "crisis of manhood" that has befallen our men and our culture. Tarek Saab (a former contestant on The Apprentice who is also supernaturally handsome incredibly wise) has written the story of his own crisis, in a brutally honest manner that young men (late teens and up) will appreciate. Tarek went on a humbling journey from confused college kid to materially successful businessman to devout Catholic. The parents of sons will also benefit from reading his story.


Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, edited by Scott Hahn

Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: New Testament

As the wonderful Gayle Somers told me a few months back: No Catholic apologist should be without this study Bible on his shelf. Enough said.


Books I have reviewed previously on the Bubble (and which I will incorporate more neatly into this page when it becomes a permanent fixture at the top of my blog), include:

Architects of the Culture of Death, by Donald DeMarco and Benjamin Wiker (guest post by my husband)

The Kristin Lavransdatter Trilogy, by Sigrid Undset (best Catholic novels, ever! Get the Tiina Nunnally translation)

What We Can't Not Know, by J. Budziszewski (which I recommend as the one book you should read this year)

If Protestantism is True, by Devin Rose (clarity, logic, big-picture apologetics)

The Church and New Media, edited by Brandon Vogt (a must for Catholic bloggers, with 100% of proceeds going to the developing world)


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Answering Michelle: I don't think you want all babies aborted

After my last post, Michelle (a friendly young atheist) left a comment which deserves a whole post in response. Her words are in red, and my comments are in black.

To those saying that the Obama administration views pregnancy as a disease: 

Before you go on, let me just say that it's hard not to conclude this. If fertility/pregnancy is not a disease, disorder, illness or pathology, then why are health insurance companies now forced to provide free contraception and morning-after pills to all? What "disease" is being "cured" or "prevented" if not pregnancy? This should elicit a short medical answer, not a long philosophical one like the one you are about to give….

consider this rough analogy. Most of you have probably seen the show Extreme Home Makeover, where families in need are given a fancy new house (and I think sometimes a car as well), one that even the richest families would probably be lucky to have. 

Yes, I used to love that show! "Bus driver, move that bus!" (Screams, excitement, tears!!) Good times watching with the family. :)

It's a feel-good sort of show, and you're always left with the impression that despite all of their problems, their lives are finally looking up and everything is going to be fine.

Yes, that's the illusion that "feel good" TV shows leave us with. We Americans like to "feel good", and it sells. Definitely an hour of escapism (and envy!).

But think about the taxes and the maintenance the house will require that they probably can't afford, and how the money spent on the house could probably have better gone towards addressing whatever problem (medical, financial, whatever) was originally plaguing them.

Yes, exactly! Building folks a big house and and providing lots of material things cannot solve the underlying problems that families in crisis face. Thank goodness there are real people in real life who do provide real help, every single day: Catholic Charities, the Societies of St. Vincent de Paul, crisis pregnancy centers, Catholic hospitals and shelters, etc. Real help, real solutions.

Saying that Obama's insistence on contraception means he necessarily considers pregnancy to always be a disease (and babies to always be a punishment)

Did I say "always"? I don't think I did. There are plenty of babies that Obama does not see as "punishments". And then there are the others. For example: 

Obama thinks these baby girls were worthy of love and life. 
Obama thinks that this this baby girl was not.

He celebrates the "wanted" babies while ardently supporting the legal killing of 53 million other "unwanted" babies. Heck, he even notoriously voted more than once to let born babies die alone and without care should they survive a late-term abortion. (This was no mere academic exercise for him, as he knew from first-hand testimony what was occurring in his own state.)

In the pro-"choice" world, there are plenty of valuable children, worthy of love and life. But there are plenty of children with no value, who are worthy of neither love nor life. 

So, for Obama, I'm guessing that pregnancy is not a disease when it's wanted, and babies are not a punishment when they are wanted.

Wanted = Good
Wanted = Valuable

is the same as saying that I'm heartless for recognizing that getting a big new house is not always the best thing for a family.

Not the same thing at all. Look...

These are not heartless:

"It is not good for this family to get a big new house."
"It is not good for children to be conceived out of wedlock."
"It is not the best thing for this drug-addicted battered woman to raise a child."

But this *just might* be considered heartless:

"Because this is not a good time for this woman to have a child, the child must die."

See, the "not heartless" statements don't imply or necessitate that someone has to die as a solution to the unfortunate situation. But the "heartless" statement does. Big distinction.

Just as big new houses are, under the right circumstances, a wonderful thing, so are babies.

Michelle, are you really comparing houses to babies?
Catholics don't believe that houses have the same moral standing, rights and dignity as human beings. I hope you can see that distinction.

Say a teenage mother's conservative parents would disown her if she gave birth out of wedlock,

Whoa, wait. Why do you make "conservative" parents the heavy? I know plenty of conservative parents, and I have seen how they react when children come to them with news of an unplanned pregnancy: Many tears, but also love and support for child and grandchild. I also know several liberal mothers who coerced or forced abortion on their pregnant daughters. So, why not just say "parents"? Sorry, but that is a pet peeve, as if conservative parents are heartless meanies while liberal parents are kind and loving. 

ruining all her chances of a healthy, normal life thereafter

Seriously? Ruining all her chances of a healthy, normal life, thereafter? Utterly, totally hopeless? How on earth can one possibly know or predict such an outcome? We can't predict that outcome anymore than we can predict someone being hit by a car tomorrow and being paralyzed for life. And even that scenario wouldn't equate to a "ruined" life. But, okay, let's go with your impossible hypothetical:

- is the baby still a wonderful blessing?


If the baby's born to a drug addicted mother who can't and won't even provide for the baby's most basic needs?

Yes. Please get the mother help, and if she truly can't care for the child (who already exists!), then it's time to help her with an adoption plan.

If the pregnancy threatens the life of the mother?

Yes. (Ask Becky how she feels about that one, since she's going through it right now.)

I know, it's not a black-and-white moral standpoint, and what constitutes good circumstances for a baby will change from person to person.

Right, but you're not talking about good circumstances for conception, you're talking about killing a baby. I think Nicole C. got right to the heart of it:
I get so tired of hearing the argument surrounding good and bad circumstances to "have a baby", when what we're really arguing is acceptable circumstances to have an abortion. Please remember, when a woman is pregnant, she already HAS A BABY. As Mark Crutcher would say, "The question is, will she have a live baby or a dead one?" 
So, you see, I think you are confusing two different things.

I get it, Catholics don't like that sort of moral ambiguity.

Actually, it's more that Catholics "don't like" the willful killing of innocent human beings. What you call "moral ambiguity", I would call "attempting to justifying an immoral act".

Sometimes, "moral ambiguity" = "moral relativism"

But saying that pregnancy is either always a blessing or always a curse, or a baby is always a gift or always a punishment, is silly at best.

I never once put it in those terms, that liberals think pregnancy is "always a curse" or babies "always a punishment". So, I am not sure where you are getting that? 

However, it's not "silly" to believe that all babies are a blessing. They are. They are all equally valuable, and they are all worthy of love and life. To hold any other position is dangerous -- to say the least.

Please, give us some credit and don't ascribe such simplistic ideas to liberals/pro-choicers/whoever.

I never did ascribe those ideas to you or other pro-"choicers". Like I said, I have no idea where you are getting that. Of course you love and cherish some babies.

If I were to get pregnant at this point in my life, it would undoubtedly be an enormous punishment.

Who would be punishing you? The baby? And what would the punishment be for? I truly don't even understand this statement.

At the same time, though, my cousin recently had a baby and I was excited about the baby the moment I heard my cousin was pregnant.

Because in your mind, the baby had that elusive quality that made him valuable and worthy of love: "Wantedness"

Or was it something else that made the baby worthy of your love? I'm interested.

It's not an "either you love babies or you want them all dead" sort of thing,

Right, and I never said that, so we are good.

and I'm offended every time someone suggests that liberals think babies are worthless drooling monsters that all should have been aborted.

I'm glad that's never been said to you here, then. Has someone elsewhere said these things to you? That you think all babies should be aborted? That's outrageous if so.

I'm on vacation and won't be commenting after this (blame icky Internet Explorer that won't let me post, plus the fact that abortion debates always, always, always turn ugly whenever I get involved).

It's not exclusive to your involvement, Michelle. Abortion debates necessarily include discussion of the actual act of abortion, which by its very nature is horrifically ugly. The stuff of nightmares, really. So yes, abortion debates are never pretty. We are discussing the willful killing of innocent children, some of whom are shredded in the womb, some of whom are dismembered, and some of whom are burned alive with saline, and some of whom are stabbed in the neck and have their brains sucked out while still living. Most of whom are thrown out as garbage, labeled "medical waste". Ugly, indeed. 

But did you think the reality of abortion could be sugarcoated? I realize that's what the "choice" and "women's rights" euphemisms are aiming for: Pleasantness. Our own atheist commenter MaiZeke has said with confidence, "Abortion involves only one person: the woman."  How it eases the mind to believe this, when it's the "non-person" being extracted and eviscerated. It makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside, and we can sleep well at night, because there is no "person" being killed in an abortion. Just a pregnancy being "terminated".

I hope my points made sense, even if you don't agree. 

Some of them didn't make sense, which is why I wanted to flesh them all out here and give you a chance to respond. Thanks for you willingness to dialogue honestly, and I hope to hear from you after your vacation!

Blessings to you, Michelle! I've always enjoyed our discussions.