Thursday, March 29, 2012

Quick Takes, and my second blog...

1) Yes, I've gone and done it. I can't turn the Bubble into an orphan advocacy blog as it has a whole different purpose, so I just started a new one, ha ha! Now, I have two blogs, with different foci. Yes, I just used the word "foci"! If you are following the children on Reece's Rainbow as closely as I am, you will want to join me over at:

I think it looks sharp, if I do say so myself! Although I do use way too many exclamation points there, I have noticed. Hmmmm.

2) Speaking of orphans, there is one less orphan in the world today, as Malcolm has a family! After the wildly successful "Malcolm Monday" blogger blitz that brought in $7,000, a wonderful family was able to formally commit to making Malcolm their son!

You can follow the story of Malcolm's adoption, here:

The Smiths still have a long way to go to reach the final amount, but lots of us are trying to get creative, and we won't rest until Malcolm gets all the way home.

Meanwhile, here are the results of the giveaway drawing: I numbered each entry and then, with my honest husband as a witness, activated an online random number generator that picked our winner, A.H.! She is a non-blogger who made a donation to Malcolm's fund. Enjoy the book, A.H.!

3) Pretty darn sure you guys and the push for Malcolm and the orphans were a part of what Simcha Fisher refers to in this excellent piece:

Check it out and see what I mean. Also, you will enjoy the way she schools the self-congratulatory pro-"choice" chap on facebook who, unlike us nasty pro-lifers, "cares about children after they are born." (Never heard that one before, ha ha.)

4) I am honored to count Nik Nikas and Dorinda Bordlee, pro-life attorneys at the Bioethics Defense Fund, as close family friends.

Dorinda and Nik at the Supreme Court this week.

I love these two madly (and I don't usually say that about attorneys). They are heroes in the culture war, and trust me, they have your back, doing work that would make you stand and cheer. This week they were right there at the Supreme Court as the Obamacare law was argued, and their National Review Online article gives you information you won't find anywhere else. Please, educate yourselves on the implications of this horrid law, and how "the dirty little secret of this unconstitutional scheme is that Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, will be one of the biggest beneficiaries of your private insurance dollars":

Pray that this monstrosity of a law, which is anti-Catholic (it's the basis for the HHS mandate) and anti-life, will go down in flames.

5) If anyone needs a good article clarifying why women cannot be priests, Fr. Dwight Longenecker has a great explanation here:

I love how he cuts to the chase:

Those who argue for women’s ordination usually do so using three forms of argumentation: 1. Utilitarianism 2. Sentimentalism  3. Civil Rights. 
The utilitarian argument goes like this: “Jane can do the job just as well–and better than a man. She has a degree in theology. She’s a great preacher. She is a sensitive pastor and a good servant of the Lord. Women have shown that they can do any job as well as a man. We need good priests. These women would be great priests." 
The sentimental argument goes like this, “Sally is such a nice person. She is so loving and funny and kind and good. How can you be so cruel and unkind not to let her be a priest! It is so unfair and so hurtful. Sally’s mother was a pillar of the church and she’s such a good Christian woman. How can you hurt her like this? Don’t you know what pain you’re causing?” 
The civil rights argument is simple: “Women and men are equal. You’re discriminating against women by denying them. By denying them ordination you’re treating them as second class citizens.”
These argument can be part of the greater discussion, but they don’t have much weight in the Catholic Church, because the Catholic Church works from a different premise to start with. We begin with theology and the truth of the theology governs all other decisions. Practical and sentimental and civil rights questions –while important in civil society – are very low in priority when making decisions within the Catholic Church.
Read it all, here.

6) Best news ever! My sister had her long-anticipated surgery on Wednesday, and she has no cancer. I think you can imagine the relief we feel, after the most bizarre and agonizing misdiagnosis of metastatic pancreatic cancer, which has an average survival rate of four months. I have a depth of compassion for anyone who hears those horrible words that I could not have had otherwise. And that's all I am going to say about that, because I am still processing. Please know how profoundly grateful she and I are for all of your prayers. The love and support has been overwhelming, and the grace of God palpable.

7) We are heading into Holy Week in a matter of days, guys! Oh, how the soul craves Holy Week. Growing up, I didn't really partake in any of the Holy Week liturgies, and now I soak them up like a sponge. Or, like a thirsty man in the desert grabbing hold of a clear, cool glass of water. Pure, clear, simple, life-saving. Does that make any sense? Anyway, I think you know what I mean. And if you don't, then you need to become Catholic and see. ;)

(Yes, I'm publishing on a Thursday, but it's Friday already where Jen, our host, resides!)


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

You think that'll cow us, Mr. Dawkins?

Tonight, as I waited in line for Confession, I sat mere feet from the Lord of the Universe. The One Who not only made little ole me, but made the galaxies as well. Tis true, every word of it, as surely as I live and breathe. 

It still blows my mind.

The Alpha and Omega humbled Himself to be a man, first appearing as a vulnerable baby in the womb, then offering Himself as a lamb to the slaughter on the Cross. And now, every day, in every Catholic Church in every land, He humbles Himself again, becoming vulnerable and offering Himself to each one of us, under the appearance of bread and wine. And we can go to Him and sit at His feet in adoration, or we can take Him into our bodies, consummating a one flesh union in which we not so much consume Him, but in which He consumes us.

The Eucharist -- Christ truly, substantially present among us -- is the very "source and summit of the Christian life"

Really ponder that: 

The Eucharist is the source of the Christian life. 
The Eucharist is the summit of the Christian life. 

The Eucharist is everything to us. The Eucharist is Christ. 

"I am the Bread of Life"

So I had to laugh at the folly of Richard Dawkins, atheist of note, who recently told a crowd of his fellow non-believers to "mock and ridicule" Christians, singling out our belief in the Eucharist:

“Do you really believe that when a priest blesses a wafer, it turns into the body of Christ?” he said, ridiculing Catholics. “Are you seriously telling me you believe that?  Are you seriously saying that wine turns into blood?”
Why, yes indeed, Mr. Dawkins, we really are saying that, and we really do believe that. And we always have. And we always will. And I'm pretty sure that the Roman emperors were scarier than you and your piddly little words of derision. The early Christian martyrs went to their deaths rather than deny the Eucharist -- as do modern Christian martyrs, come to think of it -- and you think we can be cowed by your silly adolescent outbursts?

Clearly, you don't know anything about faithful Catholics.
Clearly, you don't know your history.
(And clearly, you've never seen The Mission!)

Bring it!

Government mandates that we commit mortal sin, public calls by atheist rock stars to ridicule and mock us…. Man, I am giddy to be a Catholic this Lent! Aren't you?

"I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!" -- Jesus Christ (Luke 12:49)

"If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world on fire!" -- St. Catherine of Siena

PS: Say a prayer for Mr. Dawkins and his followers the next time you approach the Eucharist. There but for the grace of God go all of us.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Bloggers unite! Saving one life at a time. *NEW UPDATE!

(All pictures and video removed for privacy.)

You remember Malcolm, right? The orphan we (meaning YOU) brought to the "sizeable grants" page on Reece's Rainbow in a matter of hours when appeals were made last month?

Well, hold onto your hats, because today, the one and only Jen at Conversion Diary (my bff, if you recall) has become an advocate for Malcolm, too! You think that exposure might help the little guy? Rhetorical question.

Carla started this ball rolling (and has a special story to tell about picking today for "Malcolm Monday"), and we are going to get this little man a family before it's too late for him.

Don't faint: It will take around $45,000 to get him all the way home, but I feel certain we can do it!

Especially because you cannot resist this video, now can you?

And to make it more fun…

Since we are changing lives here today, I will be giving away a copy of the book that changed my life (read about that here and here) to someone who helps Malcolm. To be eligible for the giveaway, just donate in any amount to Malcolm's fund (it's tax deductible) or post this appeal on your facebook, blog, twitter, etc. Leave a comment or shoot me an email telling me that you've done one or more of those things, and you'll be eligible for the random drawing!

If you choose to donate, you don't have to tell me the amount, and no one but Reece's Rainbow and PayPal will ever know. No amount is too small, trust me.

Let's watch the numbers in Malcolm's fund swell today -- I'll be spending the day refreshing this page, checking and rechecking the totals like a Jerry Lewis telethon!*

Hang in there, Malcolm. You don't even know you are already a rock star in America! May God keep you safe until you come home.

*Beginning this morning at $7159.22

Brianna has posted for "Malcolm Monday", as have Kara, and JoAnna, Returning to Rome and more! Thank you, all!

UPDATE: Malcolm has hit $10,000+!! You all rock!!! And, still a chance to enter the giveaway! I will keep it open all week.

Second UPDATE: Malcolm is at $13,675.76 and has a firm commitment from a wonderful family (who still need to raise a small fortune)! Praise God, and more information to come….


Friday, March 23, 2012

Quick Takes: Strong women edition!

Well, not every Take today is about strong women, but I need doses of fearless femininity! Hearing wimpy, co-dependent modern feminists spend all day whining about how the Church won't hand them free birth control or neuter them or blah, blah, blah, is such an irritant and a turn off that I just about can't stand it. Give me gutsy, independent, courageous Catholic women any day! My heart just overflows with admiration for these incredible ladies...

1) If there were such a thing as same-sex marriage (there's not), and if polygamy were not a sin (it is), I would marry these three women. They have adopted several orphans internationally, some with serious special needs, and you don't see them whining. They just make a decision to love and then act. Each has written about her experiences, to help others overcome their fears:

From Danya at He Adopted Me First:

From Brianna at Just Showing Up:

From Carla at Bringing Henry Home:

Because of the incredible response to the orphans at Reece's Rainbow, I know that many of you have this subject heavy on your minds. Read these women's stories, and pray.

2) Catholic screenwriter and professor Barbara Nicolosi, a justifiably harsh critic of schlocky Christian-themed/Christian-backed cinema, has some rare praise for October Baby, a pro-life movie released today that is also (gasp) good art! She said on Facebook:
I am endorsing this film - especially for its primary demographic of teenage girls and young women. I saw the film in rough cut and gave some pretty strong notes and was impressed to see how the project had gotten so much stronger in the next version. There is some lovely cinematography here - which makes this almost Lawrence of Arabia among movies coming out of the Christian world. It also has one of the most powerful endings I have ever seen in a movie on this topic. 
A movie's future is determined in the first weekend, so plan a date night with your sweetie or gather your friends and go see this movie either Friday, Saturday or Sunday! A worthy topic and artistic excellence, too? Heck, yeah!

3) In case anyone wants to know: Homeschooling one child is easy! Seriously, I keep trying to figure out if I am doing anything wrong, because it goes so quickly and smoothly. I remember homeschooling four at a time (loooooong ago) and it was nothing like this time around.

See, I told you this QT wasn't all about strong women! Now, back to strong women….

4) At long last, my sister's surgery is scheduled for Wednesday, March 28. We will finally know if she has cancer or not. It's been a weird three months. From an initial (erroneous) diagnosis of advanced pancreatic cancer to four more top pathologists not agreeing on what the slides show, to trying to gain control of an underlying chronic illness in preparation for diagnostic surgery, we will finally have some definitive answers. If you could please send up a quick prayer for her, especially next Wednesday, I would be so grateful. She has been overwhelmed by all of your prayers. You guys are the best, and we praise God for you.

5) You wanna read something unexpected? I was totally unprepared for this, and I'm sure I will never forget it:

I've always said that courage is the most lacking virtue these days. Rebecca has courage in spades. She is a true feminist role model, an authentic adult in a culture of arrested adolescents, and what she did, with a mother's heart, blew me away.

6) If you can't make it to the nationwide rallies today in protest of Obama's horrific HHS mandate, never fear, as Simcha Fisher has already written about what will happen… before it happens. And I know she is dead on correct... before it happens. You'll see what I mean, here:

 (Caution: You may split a gut laughing!)

Why is the left so predictable? Sigh.

7) Strong women everywhere love Chesterton, so let's end with some Gilbert!

The church is a living teacher, not a dead one. . . It has not merely told this truth or that truth, but has revealed itself as a truth-telling thing. All other philosophers say the things that plainly seem to be true; only this philosophy has again and again said the thing that does not seem to be true, but is true. Alone of all the creeds it is convincing where it is not attractive.

Now, strong women everywhere (and even weak complainers like me and the ladies from NARAL and NOW), go have a wonderful, grace-filled weekend!

Thanks to Jen, for hosting!

And, no, LarryD, I did not yet put in a plug for your 3 1/2 Time Outs Tuesday, which is "just like Conversion Diary's 7 Quick-Takes, except it's half as long and twice as good", because this was the strong women's edition and your Time Outs are for strong, masculine bloggers, right?

*Update: My misleading statement above is corrected by Larry, below. Who says that we conservatives don't like diversity?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Not a political blog post. Nope.

I would not dare blog about politics, since I promised not to do so during Lent.

So, nope, this is not that.

But I just thought you all might like to get this on your calendar, since it's coming up on Friday:

Click the link to find out where your local rally will be held.

Every single bishop in America has spoken publicly about the grave evils of Obama's HHS mandate.

We are in solidarity.

I'm going with many friends (and children!) to my hometown protest.

Are you going to yours? Let me know in the comments! And, spread the word, please!

Once religious liberty is lost in America, I'm pretty sure it won't be coming back.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Answer to Doctrinal Quiz Show: Evil

Oh, wow! I think this is the most uniform set of answers I have ever received! And most of you got the answer right or almost right.

The question was:

Theologically speaking, what is "evil"?

Let's get to it:

Evil is defined by what it is not.

Evil is not a dual force that wrestles with Good for dominance. Evil is not the "Yin" to Good's "Yang".


Evil is not substantive. Evil is a privation. It is a lack or absence of Good.

(Just as cold is the absence of heat and darkness is the absence of light.*)

The physical and spiritual world that God created was fully good. However, Original Sin was a willful rejection of that good, and it introduced the world to two kinds of evil.

There is moral evil (sin) and physical evil (illness, defects, death, natural disasters). Both kinds of evil can be lesser or greater in degree. Some evils, like murder or cancer, are greater than other evils, like idle words or a hangnail. (I know it seems weird to call a hangnail or idle words "evil", but remember that we are talking in theological terms, not general American parlance.)

And as many of you noted, moral evil is a turning away from God by an act of the will. Virtue turns us back toward God, putting our wills in right order again. Virtue restores what was lost.

So although evil is not a positive force, it is a damaging and damning reality. Anyone who lives and breathes and thinks on this earth cannot credibly deny that evil is among us.

But on to the fun part of a post about evil…

The Winner is…

She fleshed out the idea nicely and thus wins this episode's Grand Prize (including Rediscover Catholicism by Matthew Kelly)!**

Evil is a lack of good, or integrity, of fullness in something that ought to be; but it does not have to be a complete lack, nor is it contained solely in the realm of morals. A blind eye, though it be nicely and seemingly fully formed would be correctly considered "evil", for it is lacking the capacity for sight, and that is what the eye is intended for: vision. Thus an act that is "evil" is one that does not have the fullness of good that it might have, or was intended to have. To give to one in need is a good action, but to perform it out of desire for praise reduces the amount of goodness possible for the act, and thus leaves it "evil". 

The best part is this beautiful, coveted icon, suitable for framing:

And in case Blue Henn is unable to fulfill her duties as Grand Prize Winner, Sarah (longtime lurker, first time commenter) is the First Runner Up, with this gem:
Evil is the lack of a due good. Using an example, blindness is the lack of the due good of sight in the eye, but we wouldn't say that blindness (inability to see) was an evil in, say, a finger or a coffee mug. 
Human will is always directed toward the good, but a particular choice is thought to be evil (or sinful) when the good chosen is a lesser good. So, while pleasure is a good, it is a lesser good than the "due" good of staying faithful to your spouse. In other words choosing adultery lacks the due good of chastity, even though the will is seeking the good of pleasure. The "lack" is what makes the action "evil".
Shades of St. Augustine! Way for two newbies to make a splash in the Bubble!

And because I am lazy and this is already late it's a season of deprivation, I am not handing out any lesser awards this time around, even though the more political responses were tempting to address….(Dagnabit, I gave up political blogging for Lent.)

Thank you all for playing along during this Lenten episode of Doctrinal Quiz Show!!

[applause, applause, fade….]

*Tiddlywinks, I promise I did not cheat off of you; I was always going to use that!

**Blue Henn, email me and I will get the book sent to you!


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Doctrinal Quiz Show: Evil

It's been a long time since our last Doctrinal Quiz Show!

Lent seems like the right season to address the question of evil. And in the spirit of austerity, I will get right to the question:

Theologically speaking, what is "evil"?

I usually throw in some jokes here, but the subject of evil just doesn't lend itself to levity, does it? So we'll just go over the ground rules for the newbies: Cheating is strictly forbidden (and penalized by a Higher Power than the Bubble!), so no peeking at any answers or googling around. The answer needs to come straight from your brain to the keyboard. Okay, let's see what you've got!

Oh, and to sweeten the pot, the lucky Grand Prize Winner will receive a copy of Matthew Kelly's Rediscover Catholicism, courtesy of our own Becky!

*For the answer to this Doctrinal Quiz Show, go here!


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Can't get the orphans off my mind….

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. -- James 1:27

As you may know, it all started with Carla and Henry, and then Malcolm.

I became obsessed compelled by Reece's Rainbow and the beautiful special needs orphans who have really thrown me for a loop this Lent. I honestly don't think I will ever be the same, and that's a good thing. I will do whatever I can in my limited power to advocate for these sweet children in their urgent quest to find a forever family.

If you spend even a little bit of time on the RR website, you will get a feel for what these special needs orphans are enduring and the dark futures they face, and if you follow the blogs of the families who have brought their children home, you will witness how powerfully and quickly sacrificial love can transform their lives.

I completely understand if you need to skip the "orphan posts" that I will be compelled to write from time to time, but as for me, I am unable to turn away now.

A few of the children who are in desperate need (click the photos or names for more information):


Dear, sweet Brent. He has already been transferred to the institution*. Though he's been listed on Reece's Rainbow for three years, no family has come forward to take him home. He needs an earthly savior. Please pass his name and information around until someone realizes they can't live without him as their son. Because he sure as heck cannot live without them.


And then there is Heath. He is now ten years old, and in the three years since he was transferred from the baby house to the adult institution, he has not seen a book or a toy. His only crime for this imprisonment is that he has Down Syndrome.

And please consider Nicholas, a sweet and quiet boy who cries in his sleep:

And these lovely little girls, who need a home and a mommy before it's too late:



There's Lizzy, with a calm personality and hazel eyes; Masha, who captured countless hearts on this ABC News piece when she threw her arms around the reporter and questioned, "Mama?"; and poor, forlorn little Carina, who so needs a family to love her, as she is almost four years old and faces the institution soon.

All the children I've profiled above have what Reece's Rainbow calls "sizeable grants". Meaning, they have thousands in their individual adoption funds already, used to offset the cost of their adoptions. If money is an issue for a potential adoptive family, looking on the sizeable grants page could make all the difference. For example, Danila G. already has over $12,000 in her fund, Preston has $15,000 and Megan has almost $24,000!

I believe with all my heart that if you make the commitment, the money will come.

The biggest obstacle to getting these children home is not lack of funds (there are many creative ways for family and friends and even strangers to raise the money), but rather lack of exposure. People don't know these kids are out there. I didn't!

Fair warning: You may become addicted to RR. Ask my facebook friends. Working together, we were able to raise almost $3,000 for Oliver in eight days time last week, bumping him into "sizeable grants" -- when we started he had only $13! And remember Malcolm, whom Carla brought to our attention? His fund is up to almost $6,700! The work to raise funds for these kids is incredibly joyful.

Many on RR have Down Syndrome (the most loving children you will ever meet!), while others have HIV+ status, cleft lips/palates, cerebral palsy, dwarfish, etc. All with varying degrees of severity, and all of whom can be helped greatly by the American medical system.

I want to do more to help these children, but I'm still thinking of how to proceed. I know that I will profile one or two of them whenever I do a Quick Takes, and I also hope that you wonderful folks will help spread the word through social media. If you feel called, you could link this post (or the RR site) to your facebook, or tweet it out to your followers. If you are able to help financially, you can go to RR and donate to a child's fund (or a family's fund). I welcome any other thoughts and suggestions in the comment box.**

We are the Body of Christ and we are His hands and feet. Let's work like crazy to get these children noticed, and of course, please, please… PRAY for these little ones who are at the mercy of people like you and me!

But Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. -- Luke 18:16

*In some Eastern European regions, children spend their younger years at a "baby house" orphanage, but are transferred to an adult mental institution once they turn five -- whether or not they have cognitive delays. They will live the rest of their lives in conditions that I don't want to detail here.

**Kara had a great idea for helping these orphans on Pinterest! Check out what she is doing, here. Anyone with a Pinterest board can do the same. :)


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

What I Never Learned, Part VII: Authority

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. 

Part IV: Why it had to be Jesus, and Why He Had to Die
Part V: Jesus as the "Lamb of God"
Part VI: Jesus, the Mass, and the Eucharist

It all comes down to the "A" word: Authority.

Many years ago, my friend Kim and I were on the phone one evening, having a friendly debate about the Pope. She, a Protestant, asked me a sincere question about something that made no sense to her: “America was built on the idea of freedom and independence, and the right of a person to think for himself. So, how, as an American, can you submit yourself to the authority of the Pope? How can you give up your own will in obedience to a mere man?”

Coming from an American Protestant perspective, she was understandably perplexed. And frankly, many American Catholics have acquired the same sentiments, rejecting the idea that they owe filial obedience to the Pope ("Papa") when he speaks as the head of the universal Church. He is, in the minds of many American Catholics, just one more opinion among many. Perhaps he deserves greater respect than others, they might say, but to submit in pure and humble obedience to his teachings? Um, no thanks.

However, let’s look at what God thinks of authority and our obligation to submit to it.

From the very beginning (remember the Garden and the Fall?), man’s big problem has been the refusal to submit to legitimate authority. Pride is the culprit, of course, as pride makes us believe that we are somehow above authority, and that we are able to declare what is good and evil for ourselves, which is exactly what Adam and Eve attempted to do. Humans are always forgetting their place in the hierarchy of created order (yes, God is the author of hierarchy!), and that is what gets us in trouble.

Let’s look at a specific incident in the Bible which really illustrates the point well. If you read Numbers chapter 16 (Numbers is one of the Old Testament books), you will read the story of Korah’s rebellion. Korah was a man who had that streak of stubborn independence that we tend to admire here in America and which is good in proper context; however, that rebel attitude doesn’t always fly with God Almighty. Korah and his supporters decided that they did not like being under Moses’ authority and were upset with his leadership. They confronted Moses and said, “Enough of you! The whole community is holy! Why should you set yourself over the Lord’s people?” (Today we might say it more like this: “We are all equal, and you are no better than us. You can't tell me what to do!”)

In reply, Moses warned Korah and his supporters that if they were conspiring against Moses, then they were really conspiring against God Himself. After all -- and this is key -- it was God who gave Moses authority over His people.

Sooooooooo, to make a long story short (although it’s really not that long of a story, and I highly recommend you go to Numbers 16 and read the entire account), some pretty dramatic things transpired, and God made quite clear whose side He was on by making the earth open up and swallow Korah and his followers whole. Yep, the earth swallowed them up with all their possessions and closed over them and they were never to be seen again. Let's just say that God is not a big fan of open rebellion against those He sets in authority.

God's delegation of that kind of authority is not unique to Moses. In fact, there is never a time when God does not delegate authority from the top down. We see that in every covenant He makes with mankind over the course of history, the Lord always works through mortal, sinful men, setting those men apart and giving them the power and jurisdiction to govern the people in God's name.

Consider these powerful words of our Lord Jesus (speaking of the sinful, hypocritical religious leaders of His day): 

“The scribes and the Pharisees have succeeded Moses as teachers; therefore, do everything and observe everything they tell you. But do not follow their example.”  -- Matt. 23:2-3

Think about that for a minute! Jesus Christ (i.e., the Lord God, the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity) is saying that even if God's appointed teachers are great sinners, we still must submit to their legitimate authority. We must not follow the example of their sin, but we must obey their teachings because their authority to teach comes from God. Therefore, when we obey them, it is really God Whom we obey.

The moral of today’s catechesis is: Don’t be a Korah! Prideful disobedience, rebellion, and a refusal to submit to legitimate authority are not attributes of a faithful child of God. Obedience and humility are, as every saint's life can attest.

Oh, and by the way, my friend Kim became a devout Catholic within a year of our "authority" discussion. She went on to teach the Catholic faith formally for six years after that, at the parish level and beyond. She was able to remain a great American patriot as well. :)

Next time, we will talk more specifically about the establishment and the authority of the Church. Finally understanding what the Church is really blew me away and kept me Catholic when I was ready to bolt.


PS: If you still balk at rules, check out this past post:


Thursday, March 1, 2012

The mystery of suffering and a personal story

I've written about suffering before, offering both a secular view of suffering and the Catholic understanding of suffering. (And this week many of us were struck by Simcha Fisher's stunningly powerful piece on the subject.)

To live is to suffer. No matter how hard we try to avoid suffering, it's not going away. Sometimes we will suffer to the limit of what we can bear, and at some point we may ask God, Why?

We should get one thing straight up front: Man's Original Sin introduced suffering into this world (read more about how that happened, here). But though we humans brought suffering upon ourselves, God remains a loving Father. He allows suffering, yes, but not for our harm; He allows us to undergo suffering so that we might be healed.

Here's my real life experience to help illustrate the concept:

When my fourth child was 21 months old, a large metal toy truck fell off a bed and struck his mouth, resulting in a deep gash above his lip. After the initial injury and tears, he recovered his composure and was feeling fine, even as I drove him to the hospital for stitches. My father met us there, and my son played happily with us in the ER waiting room, having no idea what was to come.

When we were finally brought to an examining room, my baby began to get a bit uncomfortable. The lights were too bright, and a strange lady was in his face, pushing around near his wound. He became increasingly upset and signaled to me and grandpa that he wanted to get down. We wouldn't let him.

I held my baby down while the doctor injected his lip. I felt sick when I saw the panic in his eyes, yet I continued to pin him firmly to the table as the scary woman forced a sharp, hooked needle in and out of his flesh. He was screaming and could barely hear my soothing words. But worse, he was pleading to me, repeatedly calling my name and begging, "Mama, no!!"

As I facilitated this torture, my baby became more and more frightened. He cried out to grandpa for help, and none came. Grandpa stood by with gentle words and concerned eyes, but he did not rescue the grandson who trusted him and expected protection. My boy's tear-choked words were limited by his age, but his terrified expression spoke directly to me: Why are you helping her? Why don't you make it stop? Don't you love me?

Yes, I loved him, and yes I had the power to end his suffering, but I wasn't going to do it. I knew something that he couldn't have known then: I was allowing this suffering for his healing and restoration, not for his harm. I could be trusted. His toddler mind, of course, didn't understand.

Now that dear son is fourteen years old and his mind has expanded. He has heard the story, even smiles at the retelling, and he understands. What was a dark mystery to him then makes perfect sense to him today.

Thanks to Jesus and His Cross, Christians have a glimpse into the mystery of redemptive suffering. God knows what our souls need to be restored, and even in the midst of our greatest trials, He can be trusted. He is a good Father and He loves His children. We may not fully understand why a particular cross was given to us, but we trust that it's for our healing. And when all is revealed in Heaven one day, when our minds are expanded and our Father shows us how our sufferings worked for our good, we will joyfully understand.

"It is in suffering that we are withdrawn from the bright superficial film of existence, from the sway of time and mere things and find ourselves in the presence of profounder truth." 
+ Fr. Yves Conger, French priest-theologian. 

"Life is like a bad night in a bad inn."
+ St. Teresa of Avila