Wednesday, February 29, 2012

PSAs on loving and learning

This will wrap up my trilogy of PSAs.

First, came the appeal to help a beautiful little boy in danger, here. Malcolm now has over $5,200 in his fund, which is up $3,100 in just five days! Thank you all so much! I am addicted to Reece's Rainbow and I wish I could take in all of those beautiful children. I hope someone will step forward to bring Malcolm home now that there is a financial cushion. If you (like me) are not in a position to adopt, there are still so many ways to help these children find their way out of the orphanages and into families. Look at what love has done for our own Carla and Henry, and what is in the works for Heidi, who is preparing to adopt Peter just as soon as possible. (And, to enter Heidi's very easy iPad 2 giveaway to help bring Peter home, go here before midnight tonight!)

Second, I introduced you to three wonderful Catholic men in search of marriage, here. Ladies, these great guys are waiting to hear from you! Email me (click under my photo).

The third and last of my Lenten PSAs is an opportunity for folks to learn more about the Catholic Faith (which is what I most hope to accomplish with this blog). I first introduced you to my parish's Institute of Catholic Theology back in September. This quarter's offerings are fabulous, and because they are streamed via online video, they are accessible to everyone (as are any past courses). These are university-level courses, for only $50!

I can vouch for all three of this quarter's professors, as they are all my friends and friends to the Bubble as well….

Christology: The Truth About Jesus
Professor: Rev. Oliver Vietor, M.Div
MONDAY EVENINGS March 19th – May 7th, 6:30 PM

The truth about Jesus remains intact, coherent, and vital in every generation. In other words, Jesus is still the Son of God despite his critics. Cardinal Schónborn's recent work on Christology will lead us more deeply into the truth about Jesus, and this will help us to know the Savior himself.
Text: God Sent his Son: A Contemporary Christology, Christoph Cardinal Schónborn, (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010).

Fr. Vietor officially blessed the Little Catholic Bubble, and I also featured his courageous homily on contraception, here (check #6).


Brave New World: A Guided Reading
Professor: Rob Drapeau, MA.Ed
WEDNESDAY EVENINGS March 21st – May 9th, 6:30 PM

Along with George Orwell, Aldous Huxley was deeply skeptical of the utopian futures imagined by H.G. Wells and others. Unlike Orwell however, Huxley's greatest fear wasn't a tyrannical government that ruled by the threat of pain, rather it was a dictatorship that enslaved through the promise of pleasure. This class will explore Huxley's ideas as expressed in his dystopian novel Brave New World. How close to realizing his dystopia are we? Is there anything being done to prevent his vision from coming true?
Text: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Rob is a Bubble reader (at least infrequently, right, Rob??), and has taught three or more of my own children, with fairly decent results. 


Reading Scripture with the Church: A Case Study Professor: Gayle Somers, MA
THURSDAY EVENINGS March 22nd – May 10th, 6:30 PM

The Church calls us to read the New Testament in light of the Old Testament, or, as scholars say, to do "canonical exegesis." How do we do this? Happily, in his book, Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week, Pope Benedict XVI gives us an outstanding example of this kind of Scriptural reading. We will use the book as our text to learn how our familiarity with the Old Testament deepens and enriches our understanding of the Gospel accounts of Christ's Passion, an excellent Lenten opportunity.
Text: Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week by Pope Benedict XVI

Gayle is has been featured here several times, as our resident Bible teacher for "Ask Gayle Somers"!

Register for any of these wonderful classes here. And no, I don't get a kickback. :)


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Matchmaking! Three Catholic men and a serious offer from Alaska

Okay guys, Sundays -- even in Lent -- are days of rejoicing! Marriage and family are icons of the Holy Trinity, and I can't think of anything more joyful than watching beautiful Christian families form.

As some of you may remember, I've attempted a little matchmaking before, and so I thought that this lovely Sunday would be a good time to introduce you to more good Catholic men who were brought to my attention after my little plea (check out #6).

I'm going to profile three men today, plus post a special invitation/opportunity at the end. Please carefully follow the instructions if you are interested in contacting these great guys.

Disclaimer: I do not know any of these men personally.


Josh, 28 years old


What his sister said:

Josh is 28, a firefighter, and former marine. He goes to mass every Sunday and would go more frequently if his schedule allowed. He has a devotion to St. Joseph. He's very much an all-American kind of guy. He loves history, has a very irreverent sense of humor, and is an AMAZING cook. He's not a theology wonk, but he's a good, orthodox, solid, prayerful Catholic. He's got a brilliant mind, but "intellectuals" irritate him. My brother is a catch. If you know of any young women who have a good sense of humor and are really, really laid back and cheerful, let me know!

What Josh wrote to me when I contacted him:

I am 28. I live in Baltimore. I am a career fire fighter and absolutely love my work. I have been doing it for five years now. I also spent 6 years in the Marines and deployed to Iraq and Africa a couple times. I am a every sunday type of Catholic and have a devotion to St. Joseph and St. Michael. I got hired on St. Josephs feast so I think that is pretty cool!! I am very regular sorta dude I guess you could say. I love cooking, bbq, soccer, hockey, fishing, crabbing, being handy, anything outdoorsy. I love history and would love to finish my degree in it someday soon. I love visiting historical sites and reading history books. Especially Naval history and The American Revolution. I love to stay active and work out. I gotta to be able to function well at work. I have a goofy sense of humor that gets me through work. I have to be around others who have a good sense of humor too. My family is hilarious, very close, and more supportive than anyone could ever imagine. 

As for my past: I had a bit of a rough and rowdy young adulthood. Occasionaly got into trouble and didn't always put my faith first. I had a girlfriend who got pregnant unexpectedly. Where we both were in our lives at the time and the fact that I was looking at depolyments and our future together was very uncertain we decided to place our son for adoption. It was the most difficult decision that I could ever have imagined to make. It was made out of love for him though. We placed him with a devout Catholic family who we became close with through the process. He is now 5 years old and has 2 brothers. I get letters and photos and keep in touch with his family. God was very evident in the situation. Even though I deeply miss him I have great peace over the decision that God led us to. I can answer and questions about my past very openly. So that is not an issue at all for me. I guess other stuff people need to know is that I have a decent collection of traditional american tattoos. I know that can bug people sometimes! haha. Wow that's a lot longer than I planned. Anyways like I said feel free to fire away with questions. Thanks again for putting my stuff out there! Take care!

If you would like to contact Josh, please send your message and a recent photo to littlecatholicbubble (at) gmail (dot) com, and please put "JOSH" in the subject line. I will forward all emails to him.


Jim, 24 years old


My name is Jim, a 24-year-old hailing from the relatively small town of Monroe, Michigan. I am currently a graduate student in biblical studies at the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio. I am in my second year, aiming to graduate in August and move immediately into a Ph.D. program in biblical studies--still waiting on hearing about where! I never grow tired of learning theology; thankfully, the Church will always continue to provide!

Outside of theology, I have played cello for nearly thirteen years (I am not nearly as good as what that number might indicate!), though I primarily play it for Mass nowadays. As far as employment goes, I am a graduate assistant as well as a writing tutor. My other interests are what one might call "nerdy," so I have a weakness for science-fiction and fantasy. (This may or may not have had an effect on my interest in non-canonical scriptural texts...!) Really, though, I feel that any topic and any activity can be interesting, and so I'm always ready to have a good conversation in which I can learn something!

These sorts of things are always so difficult to write, but I hope that this gives you some idea of who I am. :)

If you would like to contact Jim, please send your message and a recent photo to littlecatholicbubble (at) gmail (dot) com, and please put "JIM" in the subject line. I will forward all emails to him.


Pete, 33 years old


I live in the area of Princeton, New Jersey, and I grew up in Richmond, VA. I have no problem meeting people, but it's difficult finding single faith filled women since my transformation. I consider myself a fervent Catholic who has a very close relationship with God. I am involved in a charismatic parish, where I volunteer and mentor to teens. I give my witness speech to various Protestant and Catholic churches, and am working with an editor on a memoir. I'm a grad student who is working on a post-masters degree in counseling and am trying to better the world one person at time by empowering others just as I had done with myself with the help of God's love and grace. My ultimate goal is to open a private practice with other Christian wellness professionals such as a nutritionist and a chiropractor I know well. I do however, know that God might have another plan and I trust in Him. 

I'm an adventurous extrovert with a sometimes deep side who fits the description of the "Prodigal Son" to a tee. I love life, the outdoors and people. I'm driven and ambitious yet laid back at the same time if that makes any sense. I've been told I'm the first person people come to when they need something done, want to talk, or need a good laugh. I've done my share of partying when I was younger and got that out of my system. I enjoy some downtime too, reading, praying, and writing. I am into fitness and health, and love to mountain bike, kayak, hike, and hit the gym. I can tell you just about anything that has to do with nutrition, enjoy cooking, but also like to enjoy a good meal out. Between my job, classes, internships, and activities I still believe in having balance and take time for myself, family, and friends. I'm an honest man who doesn't play games and is on fire for God. I just have to say that if you aren't passionate about Christ, then we will not work out. Nice to meet you and God bless!

If you would like to contact Pete, please send your message and a recent photo to littlecatholicbubble (at) gmail (dot) com, and please put "PETE" in the subject line. I will forward all emails to him.


And a special offer to go where the men are...

Finally, I received this intriguing email from a woman named April, in Fairbanks, Alaska:

I know it’s a long shot, but in Alaska there are plenty of good Catholic single men. As a matter of fact, I say the very opposite thing you said all of the time. I wish I knew a few good Catholic single women. An Alaska vacation may be in order. We are a missionary diocese in Fairbanks, so maybe your ladies would like to come up and enjoy the midnight sun and teach vacation Bible school or something. I know more than a few people who came here once and never left. This is a serious offer.

If any Catholic lady out there is interested in such an adventure -- where the single Catholic men and plentiful and looking for good women -- please email me at littlecatholicbubble (at) gmail (dot) com. I will put you directly in touch with April, who can answer all your questions.


Now, wasn't that fun???


Friday, February 24, 2012

An urgent Lenten appeal for Malcolm *UPDATED with new numbers a video link

This precious little boy has very little time and hope left to find a home.

(picture removed for privacy)

I first read about Malcolm on Carla's blog, Bringing Henry Home. Now, it's time to bring Malcolm home. Carla has the story on her blog, but in a nutshell, Malcolm is about to turn five. Unless he is placed with a family by April, he will be transferred to an institution with older boys and adults, where he will surely be lost. Here's the paragraph that breaks my heart:
Malcolm needs family badly. He is very emotional, sensitive and not a leader by nature and is being hurt by older and physically healthy children in the orphanage. He can hardly walk but retains sensitivity in the feet. There is a chance only in the presence of caring and loving parents Malcolm can walk independently in a future but in the orphanage environment the child is afraid of everything even walking. Malcolm has a favorite little toy: stuffed tiger, he carries it everywhere, he kisses it, puts to sleep, worries about it. Malcolm is interested in all new, he knows the names and colors, understands commands, has attachments to friends in a group, he goes on contact easily and is pleased to dialogue.
Keep in mind, the bullying happening now is in the baby orphanage (ages 0-5)! There are families who are considering adopting Malcolm and bringing him home to the US. But raising the huge sum needed to get him from Russia to his new home is an unfortunate obstacle, as we can all imagine.

Lent is a time of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. It's the almsgiving part that can really trip us up. I know it does me. But today, I donated to Malcolm's fund, sacrificially. Nothing is truly ours; it all comes from God -- including our money. I'm telling you that I donated (and yes, I'll tell my husband the amount later, gulp) in order to challenge you to do the same. Any amount really, even five dollars, would be so important to this one precious child. Please Bubble readers, let's do this for one lonely little boy and for the love of God. We are Christ's hands and feet.

And I would love to watch his total donations go up and up and up to at least $2500 today!

Please consider little Malcolm's desperate plight as you consider your almsgiving on this first Friday of Lent.

Thank you, thank you, and blessings!

Mother Teresa -- Just one person at a time

"I never look at the masses as my responsibility.

I look at the individual. I can love only one person at a time. I can feed only one person at a time.

Just one, one, one.

You get closer to Christ by coming closer to each other. As Jesus said, "Whatever you do to the least of my brethern, you do to me."

So you begin...I begin.

I picked up one person --

maybe if I didn't pick up that one person I wouldn't have picked up 42,000.

The whole work is only a drop in the ocean. But if I didn't put the drop in, the ocean would be one drop less.

Same thing for you

same thing for your family

same thing in the church where you go

just, one, one."

Words to Love By, p. 79

**Update: As of this writing on Friday evening, Malcolm's fund has reached $3,686.72! Thank you all so much, and let's keep the momentum going. Now, we need to find parents for this sweet little boy. If you haven't seen him walking and talking, please click here for a video. He is absolutely precious! I can't bear the thought of him going to a mental institution for older kids and adult men, simply because he's turning five years old. God bless you for all your help and God bless Malcolm with a family, soon!


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The soul craves Lent

Last year's post on Lent:

And for a more in-depth understanding of the season:

The Flagellation of Our Lord Jesus Christ, by Bouguereau

I'm pretty sure I speak for most of the Catholics I know when I say that our souls are craving Lent this year. I confess that I do not always look forward to the austerity that comes with the penitential season. But this year… whoa, boy. This year is different. Don't you all feel it? We've been soft and weak for too long. It's time to get serious about sacrifice, and it's time to dive headlong into prayer, almsgiving, fasting, reparation -- and into the precious wounds of Our Crucified Lord.

So much of our deep need for Lent this time around comes from what we see playing out on the political stage, watching the nation we love slip further and further away from her Judeo-Christian foundations while government leaders -- at all levels and with growing speed and disrespect -- attempt to push our beloved Church and her good works to the margins of society. It's okay. We've been waaaaaay too comfortable. Christianity is not about comfort and convenience, it's about truth, goodness and beauty. And it's about sacrificial love. In fact, true love (caritas/agape) and sacrifice (an offering of something dear) are inseparable. Gaze upon a crucifix. What do you see? The enormity of a Love that sacrifices all.

In the spirit of the season and of not wanting to blur the line between the sacred and the profane, I will lay off the political blogging for these forty days. Ultimately, politics and governments are temporal. They are passing away. In the end, they are not important.

Jesus' words to us are important:
Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. -- Matthew 7:13-14
Debating politics and fighting the culture war are honorable endeavors, but they alone will not make us holy. The Lord wants a contrite heart. So for the duration of the Lenten season, I will try to write about spiritual things, things of the Faith, things that bring people -- all people -- closer to the heart of the eternal God who made and loves them.

For the next forty days, let's get to the only thing that matters: Holiness.

My soul is craving it.

Anima Christi

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O Good Jesus, hear me.
Within Thy wounds hide me.
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee.
From the malignant enemy defend me.
In the hour of my death call me.
And bid me come unto Thee,
That with all Thy saints,
I may praise Thee
Forever and ever.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Honor vs. Lies and Distortions (with a fun update)

Before we head into Lent, when my posts will focus more on the spiritual rather than the political and temporal, I want to post Archbishop Chaput's recent column on the HHS mandate. You can find the original, here

I think he hits on what I find most disturbing about this whole sad episode between the Obama administration and the Church: The lies and distortions that have accompanied the debate. 

Judging by mainstream media coverage, one would think that the Church suddenly and forcefully came onto the public scene and began a campaign to end "access" to contraception -- when in fact she has done exactly nothing. The only movement (and an aggressive power grabbing movement at that) has come from the Obama administration, which unnecessarily started and now sustains this fight -- a fight that, until Obama picked it, did not exist on anyone's radar screen. 

Obama did not have to do this. He chose to start this. And now his allies on the left and in the press have added insult (lies and distortion) to the initial injury. Lies are hard to fight, but fight we will. 

All emphases below are mine. Take it away, Your Excellency!

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia 

Archbishop Chaput’s weekly column: 
It’s not a ‘compromise,’ and it needs to be rescinded

Creighton Abrams, arguably America’s best general in recent history, was an uncommon man. A biographer said that “he touched those who came to know him in a way they valued and would never forget.” It’s easy to see why. He led by example. He embodied the virtues of courage, honesty, dedication to mission, personal humility and unfailing fidelity to his wife and six children over a marriage of 38 years.

Abrams never degraded his opponents. He never demeaned himself by demeaning others. He lived by the highest ethical standards, and he demanded the same from the people around him. One of his favorite sayings was “Never wrestle with pigs: You get dirty, and the pigs love it.”

Those words came back to me this past week. The trigger was the fierce public debate over the Obama administration’s misleading February 10 “compromise” on a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate. The original HHS mandate, announced on January 20, would have forced nearly all Catholic institutions, organizations and private employers to provide contraception and abortifacients as part of their health coverage.

As many Catholic legal scholars have observed: The February 10 “compromise” does not solve the problem. It continues, in its practical effect, to force faithful Catholic employers to violate their religious beliefs. In short, the HHS mandate is coercive and deeply troubling in its implications for the rights of conscience. Nor is this accidental. The administration, despite the good will it has enjoyed from many Catholics, has taken a path that it knows to be unnecessary and knows to be hostile to Catholic belief.

The contempt dumped on Catholic teaching in our mass media over the past few days of debate tells us quite a lot about our critics. It also underlines the need for fighting respectfully but vigorously for what we believe. When a columnist in a major news daily claims, for example, that “The Catholic Church basically endorses one form of birth control, the rhythm method, which is contraception for stupid people,” we can learn two things: Neither accuracy nor civility matters when it comes to demeaning how faithful Catholics try to live their lives. In the task of pushing birth control, sneering is fully licensed.

Of course, people are free to join or leave the Catholic community. They’re free to criticize Catholic belief in any way they choose. But they’re not free to force Catholic institutions, organizations and individual employers into violating their religious convictions. They’re not free to mislead the public about a flawed and dangerous HHS mandate. And they’re not free to ignore the concerns of Catholic citizens who are rightly angry about the current administration’s indifference to religious freedom and the rights of conscience.

A friend of Creighton Abrams once said that, despite his humility and mastery of self, when it came to matters of principle, he “could inspire aggressiveness in a begonia.” It’s an interesting line. The Christian life does not need aggression. It doesn’t return hatred with more hatred. Living the Gospel depends on virtues like justice, charity and mercy. But it also depends on courage. It does require fortitude. And that means a great many Catholics need to wake up and take a hard look at what’s happening to our country. They may not like what they see. They shouldn’t like what they see. And if they don’t, they need to fight — without apologies — to turn things toward the good.

The current HHS mandate is not a real “compromise.” It’s bad law with very dangerous implications. It needs to be rescinded, and it doesn’t matter how ugly or deceptive our critics choose to be. I ask every Catholic who reads these words and takes his or her faith seriously, to please contact your U.S. senators and representative. Do it today. Press them to rescind this destructive HHS mandate.

I know: We all have so many issues that compete for our daily attention. We’re often tempted to ignore the whole lot.

But this one is urgent. This one really matters.


*Updated to add something very funny from a cool young priest. The video will make you cheer (thanks, Fr. Leo, for giving us something to smile about!), and it also illustrates that Obama blatantly lied to Catholics during his infamous Notre Dame University speech:


Friday, February 17, 2012

Quick Takes: Blogger rant, those crazy kids at Planned Parenthood, and a sincere thanks to MSNBC


1) I've had it with Blogger. First, last year they deleted an entire post and all the comments. (Oops!) They did this to untold blogs, but I am one of the few who never got the post restored. Next, they changed my preferred comments format to one I really dislike, which messes me all up. Then, they made it almost impossible to see that there are comments after the first 200, meaning that anyone who is not subscribed to the comments, but simply comes back to the blog to check for new ones, will not see them (unless they see the little "Load more" link which even I missed for days!). People will assume the conversation just ended, when in fact it is ongoing! And now, there is something wrong with the proper application of Blogger fonts, and apparently people are seeing my posts in SCRIPT?? I would not put entire posts in script, people!

I need help! Anyone out there know how to seamlessly transfer this whole stinking Bubble, comments and all, to a new home base? For cheap? Email me if you have the solution to all my bloggy headaches!

2) Modern feminists are so sadly misguided. There are bedrock fundamentals that they simply do not understand, and two quotes say it all, in my opinion.

Reader/commenter extraordinaire LJP (Love, Justice, Peace, in that order) summed things up nicely:

 "Suppression of what is distinctly woman = oppression of women"

Think about that for a minute! Imagine if the feminists understood it. And, consider a quote I saw on facebook, attributed to one Marilyn Dickstein Kopp: 
Many feminists insist that abortion is necessary for women to participate freely and equally in society. Anyone who disagrees, they argue, has merely adopted patriarchal standards and accepted women’s ‘place’ in society. Yet this argument demonstrates how deeply the roots of sexism run in our culture. Its premise is a sexist one—that women are inferior to men and that in order to be equal, we have to change our biology to become like men—wombless and unpregnant at will. What other oppressed group in history has had to undergo surgery in order to be equal?
Indeed. Again, women on the left are forever at war with their own biology, their own feminine nature. Why do they disdain their own bodies so much? What is it like to fight one's own nature so vehemently? I'll never understand.

3) Which brings me to one of the best of many excellent commentaries about the now-infamous HHS contraception/sterilization/abortifacient mandate. It comes from Patrick Thornton of

A fun sampling:

Women’s Health™ (yes, I’m going to keep writing it like that and in fact, every time you read it I want you to go “Ahhh” in your head in a kind of a sing-songy way like a chorus of angels would if the clouds had just parted and a powerful beam of sunlight was shining down upon the word) is different from regular health.
And it’s actually much more important.
We have been told repeatedly by our esteemed Commander in Health that it is so important that EVERY insurance program should cover it.  No matter what.
Not only should they cover it, but they should cover it WITHOUT a co-pay.
Because, you know, asking women to pay $20 for a prescription is evil and horrible and mean and most likely, (cringe) Republican.
These women are healthy. You can tell because they are not having babies.

Now, say your child has an ear infection or pneumonia, you can pay $20 for that because it’s not a Women’s Health™ issue, it’s just a plain-old, regular health issue.
If a young mother has a heart condition and needs medication, well she can pay $20 for that too because it is not a matter of Women’s Health™ (“Ahhh…”).  It’s just a matter of regular health.
If that same young mother wants to have sex without having a baby, well she damn well better not have to pay $20 for that!  Because as well know, that is a matter of Women’s Health™.
Read the rest, and find out what is not covered (surprise!!) under the umbrella of Women's Health™, here.

4) Those crazy kids at Planned Parenthood are at it again! If the late night comedians were not all abortion advocates, they would have endless fodder for their monologues. Here's a sampling from the past couple of days, just begging for some parody:

In the article, "Bill mandating abortion coverage in maternity insurance passes Washington State House" (yes, mandating abortion coverage is next), we hear the remarkable thoughts of local Planned Parenthood official Dana Laurent: 

“Just as no one anticipates breaking their leg, no one anticipates needing an abortion. It should be covered just as any other common medical procedure."

When I read that truly … um ... incredible statement, I crazily wondered on facebook why a woman engaged in the baby-making act wouldn't anticipate that babies might be made during that act? But All You Who Hope straightened me out: "You mean you've never gotten a high fever and cough and found out you needed an emergency abortion? Happens all the time." Yeah, I guess it does! Thanks, AYWH!

And for more Planned Parenthood humor (because with PP, you either have to laugh or cry), check out their tweet about Ohio college students having to choose between birth control and food. Yes, you read that right. If these poor Ohio students are not provided with free contraception, they risk malnutrition and starvation. You know, I sympathize. It was not so many years ago that I was in college, and I remember what it's like. I can envision a very sad scenario playing out right now at Ohio State:

‎"Hey, Orville, before we go back to the dorm so we can use each other for a quick hook-up (man, I haven't had sex since Thursday and I'm feeling weak), can you buy me some chicken wings? See, I can't actually afford food because no one will pay for my contraception -- hang on, I'm getting a call on my new iPhone; isn't it pretty? -- so, if you spring for dinner before sex, I can get at least one meal in today."

I know. It's tragic. These are brave young women, having to choose between sex and food. Thanks, Planned Parenthood, for championing their noble cause and introducing us to their unthinkable plight. Who wouldn't be willing to give up their religious liberties to ease these poor girls' burdens?

5) But in all seriousness, this ludicrous HHS mandate has helped to galvanize the faithful, bringing all stripes of Christians and non-Christians together. I was heartened to get this email from a dear Protestant friend:

Leila: I was just telling my sons last week that even though the pope is not the head of our church, he is in the ecumenical sense as he never backs down, Ever. And the day the Catholic Church backs down is the day we should all be very afraid. He always holds the line. Even if we do not agree with his line, he always holds it, and that fights evil and survives politics and changing mores. This current mandate for abortion will not even be the biggest fight; that is yet to come. But it is the pivotal one, for if we cannot agree that all created life has intrinsic value, how do you even get to the other issues? two cents...

Yes, it's going to be a difficult battle, but we're amassing some wonderful allies. :)

6) As we take in the troubling absurdity of the past few weeks and think ahead, part of the battle is going to be supporting our priests as they (finally?) begin to educate their congregations. For several decades, Catholics in the pews have heard nary a peep from the pulpit about the issue of contraception. I am blessed to have two parish priests who do not shy away from the topic. If you crave a good homily on the subject, sit back and listen to my own Fr. Oliver Vietor's homily of two Sundays ago, here. For those inclined to shout "White male celibate!" right about now, keep in mind that Fr. Vietor, a former Episcopalian minister, has a wife and six children.

And if after that fortifying homily you desire a Scripture that seems particularly relevant for Catholics these days, pray over Matthew 10:16-39. You'll understand when you read it.

7) Finally, a huge thank you to MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski! Who'd have thought that we'd get this refreshing defense of Rick Santorum's personal stand on contraception from a host on that network? Check it out:

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with believing that [that contraception is wrong], I really don’t. I don’t think that means he’s going to ban birth control across the board. Those are his personal beliefs. And I think that as a father, and a man who’s held public office, he’s lived up to them, it appears. 

Which makes it interesting for the conversation, and it’s a conversation probably every family should have, about birth control and its role in society with their own kids. He’s got his own, and he stands by them, and I think he’s an interesting part of the national conversation in terms of where our society is going. 

And there is a lot of risky behavior out there that happens to be connected to birth control. So there’s a whole other side to this conversation.  And not once did I say should it be banned, or should it not be covered by health insurance. But I think it’s OK to have those beliefs or those concerns.

Can I just say WOW, and God bless Ms. Brzezinski! I mean, what she says is common sense, but it's heartening to see it on a liberal cable news network.


Well, whew, that was kind of a long Quick Takes! Maybe I should have called them Slow Takes? 

Thanks to Jen (whom I miss, but I cannot wait for that book!), for hosting!


Monday, February 13, 2012

Here's the almost-L.A.Times article...

So, last week I received a friendly email from an editor at the Los Angeles Times, asking me if I would write an editorial for the paper. I wouldn't have chosen the topic given, and I hate working with word count limits, but I agreed. In the end, it wasn't what she wanted, and I was not willing or able to make the accommodations requested. C'est la vie. But I didn't want my work to be totally wasted, so here is the piece as I submitted it, for whatever it's worth.


My blog title, Little Catholic Bubble, is a bit tongue-in-cheek. I love my faithful Catholic friends, but I also enjoy engaging the left, mostly secular humanists, in cultural debates. Three main frustrations, however, make it hard to talk to liberals.

The first frustration is the tendency by many liberals to duck out early. I take a pseudo-Socratic approach to dialogue, asking a series of questions in an attempt to follow an argument to its logical conclusion, and often my opponent quits right at that threshold. It might look like this:

Me: Do you think the unborn are as human as you are?
Abortion Advocate: No, I don't.
Me: What do you think they are?
AA: They are potential humans.
Me: At what moment do they become fully human?
AA: At viability. {Other answers include: brainwaves, heartbeat, the second trimester, birth, three months after birth, sentience, etc.}
Me: Is that objectively true, or is that simply your opinion?
AA: After deep inquiry and thought, that's my conclusion.
Me: Okay, well, how do you pinpoint the exact second that humanity begins, so that we don't accidentally kill any innocent people?
AA: We can't pinpoint an exact second, but it's a good estimate.
Me: Isn't that arbitrary and subjective?
AA: Well, we have to draw the line somewhere.
Me: Why do we have to draw the line anywhere? Death is irrevocable. If we might be killing innocent people, shouldn't we always err on the side of life?

Suddenly, silence. One of numerous unanswered questions on my blog.

If a thread doesn’t end in silence, it might end in the next frustration, which is an irrational explosion of raw emotion, either offensive (“You racist, sexist, patriarchal, judgmental, pedophile-protecting, bigoted, homophobic fetus-lover! You hate the poor, you rape the earth, and you don’t care about children after they’re born!”) or defensive (“You think I’m evil! You don’t think I have any morals! You are calling me a monster!”). Not to mention myriad other choice phrases and obscenities that cannot be printed here.

The third frustration is when I encounter the “jaw droppers” -- statements that are so bizarre, illogical or disturbing that I want to confirm, “Do you actually believe that?” and then ask the heavens, “How did we get here?”

Some Alice-down-the-rabbit-hole moments:

Many secularists proclaim that, except for genitalia, there is no difference between men and women. At all.

I’ve been told often that mothers and fathers are "interchangeable" to a child, so having both is not needed.

A sex educator informed me that she and her husband leave out “judgmental words like ‘marriage’” when teaching underprivileged school children.

I’ve been scolded by a recent college grad who has a “big issue” with my “assumptions about women, that their bodies were made to breed and sustain other people”. (Biology, anyone?)

A science major told me that although “it’s true” she started life as a single cell, “that zygote that I started out as wasn't me”.

A college atheist couldn't say whether a fully-formed baby girl aborted in the third trimester deserved love or was literally a piece of trash. She looked at the dead girl’s photo and said she would need to know the “circumstances”.

Two undergraduates told me that torturing, raping and killing a six-year-old girl to spare the lives of fifty people “would be the only moral thing to do” (though “moral principles aren't necessarily easy to live out”).

An abortionist mocked me for imposing my "mystical, spiritual beliefs", after I presented strictly secular pro-life arguments based on biology and civil rights.

A homosexual activist and his boyfriend staged a "mock civil union" on campus to challenge traditional marriage laws, yet when I asked him to define "marriage" he admitted he'd never thought about it.

But there is another category of discussion that I can respect, even as I recoil: When a liberal is consistent, willing to push his idea all the way to its logical conclusion.

Take for example the young atheist wife and mother who admits that since love is “just a series of random chemical reactions in the brain”, she and her (currently beloved) husband should, and will, divorce should those chemicals shift.

Or the academic who conceded when pressed that adult siblings (gay or straight) should be allowed to marry: “If two siblings really, really want to get married and enjoy a happy relationship - then go right ahead.”

Or, famously, Princeton bioethicist Peter Singer, a supporter of both abortion and infanticide who rightly argues that the two acts are not different, and that birth is an arbitrary line drawn by abortion proponents to make themselves feel a distinction where none exists. Singer understands that “birth does not mark a morally significant dividing line” when it comes to killing infants.

Aside from those rare cogent moments, the frustration in dialogue remains. I pray my interaction with those on the left can move past the silences, the emotional outbursts, and the jaw droppers towards a mutual search for clarity and truth. Though chances of that seem slim, there is wonder and fruit in the Little Catholic Bubble nonetheless: Fence-sitters email me behind the scenes, thankful to have found their way to objective truth by watching the debates unfold. For that reason alone, I will gratefully keep talking to liberals.


There you have it! The piece I never wanted to write, with time I really didn't have, for a paper that is not known to embrace conservative ideas anyway. I have written editorials for the "mainstream media" before, with Kim Manning. There are pros and (plenty of) cons in doing so. And there's a lot to be said for being my own boss here in the Bubble. :) 


Friday, February 10, 2012

To lukewarm Catholics: This is your moment. Defend your mother.

You cannot have God for your Father 
if you do not have the Church for your Mother.
-- St. Cyprian, third century Christian martyr

To every lukewarm, confused or dissenting Catholic out there:

I get you, I really do. I was a lapsed and lukewarm Catholic once, too, with one foot out the door. You probably think the Church is wrong on contraception and you want your birth control for free. I understand. I am one of "the 98%" of Catholics who have used contraception at some point in their lives.

But even then, as a tepid, contracepting Catholic, I would have seen something like this HHS mandate as a defining moment.

As it stands, this is your defining moment.

Mother Church -- your mother -- is under attack. You may think she is old and out of touch, even a doddering old fool. You may feel she doesn't understand you. But she is still your mother.

As much as you may want her to change her mind on contraception, she won't. She will never change her moral teachings, no matter how unpopular they are, no matter how many of her own children reject them. She is stubborn that way, when it comes to objective truth. It's part of what makes her your mother, and frankly, it's something to be admired.

The federal government issued its mandate just a few short weeks ago, imposed by a man who apparently thinks he's a king. But your mother, the Church, has her own mandate to follow, one which was given some 2,000 years ago, by a true King. It was a mandate to hold fast to the truth and teach it faithfully, until the end of time. Christ's eternal mandate supersedes and annihilates all temporal ones.

Now, because Mother Church will never give in to the government's attempted violation, there will be painful fallout in the resistance. You are a child of the Church, even if a bit distant from her, and you have a duty to defend her in this battle. Rouse your irrevocably baptized soul and come to her aid. It's sadly true that we sometimes kick around our own family members, but we don't allow outsiders to come in and do the same!

The government has made a breathtaking power play, kicking around your mother in her own home. She has responded with a firm and resounding, Get out of our house!

Get up, and help her shut the door.

For [Catholic] is the peculiar name of this Holy Church, the mother of us all, which is the spouse of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God (for it is written, "As Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for it", and all the rest), and is a figure and copy of Jerusalem which is above, which is free, and the mother of us all; which before was barren, but now has many children.
-- St. Cyril of Jerusalem, circa 350

**Update: Obama "shifts" the mandate to insurance companies who are paid by Catholic institutions. Don't be fooled and don't let your guard down. Nothing has changed.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Just Curious: Access to contraception?

So, King Obama deprives Catholics of religious liberty because the administration is "committed to giving women access to contraceptives".

Now, see, there's a head-scratcher for me.

Do any of you know of any situation where a woman does not have "access to contraceptives" unless the Catholic Church provides it for her?

Truly, I'm just curious.

Because I can't think of a single situation where that is the case.

Seems like something else may be afoot here. Hmmm….


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Time for courage, Catholics! Be kind, not "nice"….(and UPDATE)

Many of you have seen this post before, but in light of recent events (both Obama's outrageous HHS mandate forcing Catholics to violate their consciences, as well as the unholy backlash after Susan G. Komen for the Cure wisely cut ties with Planned Parenthood), it's good for Catholics to revisit the directive to be kind but not "nice". If you've spent any time on facebook lately, I think you know what I'm talking about!

I hope the wisdom of Bishop Thomas Olmsted, Blessed John Paul II, St. Paul, and Jesus Christ Himself will bolster and refresh you!


Providential encouragement came to me well over a year ago, in the form of a local crisis pregnancy center's newsletter. It contained excerpts from a speech that our beloved Bishop Thomas Olmsted had recently delivered at a pro-life luncheon. Anyone who knows Bishop Olmsted knows that he is a gentle, kind and holy soul. Not loud, bombastic or combative, but joyful, peaceful and caring. I daresay he is one of the "nicest" men you'll ever meet. He entreats us Catholics:
Do not be "nice"; instead, tell the tough truths. At no place in the Sacred Scriptures does it say: Be nice! However, popular portrayals of Christianity would lead us to think that the first and greatest commandment is niceness.
The English word "nice" comes from the Latin word "nescius" --meaning "ignorant, knowing nothing." In English usage of the 13th century, "nice" meant "foolish, stupid, senseless." Today, it means hurting no one's feelings, without regard to what is true or good or right. Garrison Keillor said, You taught me to be nice, so nice that now I am so full of niceness, I have no sense of right and wrong, no outrage, no passion.
St. Paul writes to Timothy (2 Tim 4:2-4), Proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching. For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine, but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths....
John Paul II wrote in Evangelium Vitae (#58): The acceptance of abortion in the popular mind and even in law itself, is a telling sign of an extremely dangerous crisis of the moral sense, which is becoming more and more incapable of distinguishing between good and evil, even when the fundamental right to life is at stake. Given such a grave situation, we need now more than ever to have the courage to look the truth in the eye and to call things by their proper name, without yielding to convenient compromises or to the temptation of self-deception.
....So what to do? Should we not recall Jesus' charge: Remember, I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. He knows what He is doing.
....Love our enemies. Love is not "nice." Love is kind; it is patient; love does not rejoice in what is wrong, but rejoices in the truth.... Love is best illustrated by Jesus on the Cross, where He forgave those who put Him to death, where He died so that we sinners might have forgiveness and new life. Love is not cowardly but it is fair, while relentlessly opposing all threats to the dignity of human life. 
....So, do not be "nice"; be kind and tell the truth. Love your wives, your husbands, your children. Love your enemies. Do not be discouraged.

It was not till later that I realized (duh!) that the word "discourage" has "courage" as its root. We need courage to counteract our dis-courage-ment. And courage just might be the virtue most lacking today among Christians.

A couple of years ago, Danya approached Bishop Olmsted and asked him how we Catholics can best dialogue about the contentious, unpopular and controversial teachings of the Church, especially when we know we will be met with mockery, hostility and personal attacks. This meek and humble man responded that at those times, we must set aside our own fears, anxieties and dread, and we must simply speak the truth.


In the wake of recent events, the need to speak the truth becomes even more urgent. We Catholics will be misunderstood, mocked and derided for our beliefs, but that shouldn't worry us. As Christ said to us in Matthew 5:11:
Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven….
I say, Bring it.

Courage, friends.

Be kind, but not "nice".

Do not be silent, do not fear, and pray unceasingly.

UPDATE: Looks like Komen has caved to the abortion fury. Now someone tell me how to take back my donation.