Wednesday, April 30, 2014

It's here! It's here! Something Other Than God is finally here!

So, I've been agonizing over how to review Jennifer Fulwiler's book, Something Other Than God: How I Passionately Sought Happiness and Accidentally Found It, which is now finally in print and on the market. (I think she started writing it when she was five years old? Do I have that right, Jen?)

Then I realized that I all I really needed to do was tell my wonderful readers that if you love the logic and clarity and fun that we have in the Bubble, then this book is for you. And if you hate the Bubble with a passion, well, at least we all love a good story, right?

You will not be able to put this book down. I took it with me everywhere, reading at track meets, piano lessons, during breakfast, late into the night. Jen's is the Lay's potato chips of conversion stories.

Chapter 20 alone is worth the price of the book. Trust me.

Aaaaand in my teensy-weensy way, I was part of this epic project. Here's where I was going to go into all these cool details about how I came to know Jennifer long before I had a blog (gosh, I can't even imagine why she answered my email back then??), and how we finally met in person over three years ago (when her book was in the "final stages of editing", ha ha!) and shared breakfast at the Phoenix airport (picture a six-foot redheaded bombshell in stylish boots meeting short older lady in tennies -- no wonder I insisted we both be sitting for the photo), and more recently how she asked me to read one of the earlier drafts of her book and wanted my thoughts (as if she needed them!), and then how I received an advance copy of the real deal and got all fan-girlie at the fact that my name appears in the acknowledgements (eeeeeeeeeek!), and how my husband was squealing when he saw the book, too, but not because of his wife's name, but because the book included an endorsement by none other than his favorite author, Dean Koontz (check the back of the dust jacket!).

So, you see, I was going to give you all those details, and then I realized that nobody should be spending time reading a long blog post about a book when instead they could be reading the book already!

Oh, but one more thing. As if all this were not exciting enough, Jen fed my narcissism helped me overcome my humble nature by including me in this unbelievably fun and touching video montage featuring a star-studded cast of Catholic writing and blogging luminaries reading excerpts from her book. Though I am ridiculously out of place in that august group, it felt good that Jen's husband was a banana:

My daughter thought I sounded funny (as in, she laughed at me) and not at all like myself (a bit stiff? And hey, the audio skipped), but I don't care because it's just a thrill to be the blip between Abby Johnson and Grace Patton, oh my!

Bottom line… This is a book you will love. This is a book that you will read in one or two sittings and then loan out to all your friends and relatives. Honestly, this is a book that will make you feel more human.

Get this book.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Final Sheen Meditation: Easter!

Since Easter is not just a day but a season that lasts for fifty days, let us ponder it even now!

Background and Part I, here.
Part II, here.
Part III, here.
Part IV, here.
Part V, here.
Part VI, Good Friday, here.

Concluding our Lenten meditations on the Seven Last Words and the Seven Virtues, by Venerable Fulton J. Sheen.


Excerpts from his Easter address delivered on March 24, 1940, in the midst of World War II:

One of the greatest needs of our day is authority; for minds are not universally perverse, but they are confused -- they know not what is right. The criterion of right is agreement with a will or intention. For example, an engine works well when it conforms to the intention which the engineer had in designing it; a pencil is good when it writes, thus fulfilling the will of its maker. 


[R]ight for man means acting in accordance with the will of God or the intention God had in creating him. Holiness consists in fixation to that Divine will. It happens that, since God made man free, man may follow another will than God's will; for example, his own will, like the prodigal, or the popular will, like Pilate. Unfortunately, too many in our day choose the second standard and identify right with the will of the majority, or the mood of the masses, or the spirit of the world. 

Conflict arises between these two standards of right, the popular will and God's will, as it did when conscience told Pilate Christ was a just man and the mob told him Christ was the enemy of Caesar; or as it does in our own life when the good, such as fidelity to the marriage bond, is unpopular, and the wrong, such as divorce, is popular. In such cases where we are face to face with two standards of right and wrong -- God's will, the popular will -- we become confused and know not what to choose; we may even find it difficult to believe that what is so unpopular could be good. 

Just suppose you stood on Calvary on Good Friday and saw Him who called Himself the Way, the Truth, and the Life, nailed to a Cross. On whose side would you have been? On the side of Christ or on the side of the government, the masses? If your standard of goodness and virtue is what the public believes to be good and virtuous, then with the mob you would have agreed that Christ was not the Son of God, but an impostor; not the Messiah of the Chosen People, but a perverter of the nation; not the Redeemer of men, but a mock king. There was no doubt that the Crucifixion was popular with the masses, as they chose Barabbas to Christ. 

And when finally the sun had set on Good Friday and the last lengthening shadows of three crosses had silhouetted themselves against a sealed tomb, everything proceeded to go on as normal. The world apparently was so right in its judgment that even those who believed were somewhat shaken in their belief, like the rocks of Calvary. 

But as He appeared among His disciples, spoke to His Apostles, ate with them, prepared a seashore meal for them, remained on earth with them forty days after His Resurrection instructing them in the Kingdom of God, the truth finally emerged. The mob on Good Friday was wrong; the majority had erred. He was in very truth the Son of the Living God, risen from the dead. Truth is oneness with the Divine mind, not the public mind; goodness is oneness with the Divine Will not the popular will. 

The lesson that emerges from Easter is that the world was wrong and Christ was right; that there is a world of difference between an authority on which you rely when it pleases you, and one which you trust absolutely whether it pleases you or not; for what the world needs is a voice that is right not when the world is right, but right when the world is wrong. 

To avoid another Calvary and its colossal error that the majority is always right, the world needs a standard of virtue, truth, and goodness, other than the will of the masses. In those moments when the popular will coincides with God's will there is no need of an external authority outside the mass; but there is need of one when there is a conflict between the two, as there was on Calvary.


The millions of the world who keep their fingers on the pulse of public opinion and follow every theory, every vogue, every panacea, every popular immorality, and who approve the appointment of every anti-moral educator, have no standard of right and wrong. A thing cannot measure itself: A tape measure must be outside the cloth; a speedometer must not be a brick in the roadway; a judge must not be a shareholder in the corporation whose cause he judges. In like manner the judgment of the world must be from outside the world. Such a standard is the need of the hour -- an authority that does not, like some politician, find out what the people want and then give it to them, but which gives them what is true and good whether it is popular or not. We need someone to be healthy when the world is sick; someone to be a stretcher-bearer when the battlefields are freighted with wounded; someone to be calm when the house is burning; someone to be right when the world is wrong, as on Easter when they who slew the Foe lost the day. 

Where is that authority except in the Church of the Risen Christ which in each new generation is condemned by the world and then rises to a new and glorious Easter? At least a thousand times the bells have tolled in history for the death of the Church, but the execution never took place; the coffin is ordered by the corpse never appears; the mourners assist at her burial but she sings a requiem over her mourners; still doomed to death, but fated not to die, she survives a thousand crucifixions and a thousand deaths, and alone has survived the crash of all civilizations, because not involved in their ruin. 

There is often an hour when the world cannot understand the reason the Church gives for her position, but there is never a time when men do not live to see that her judgment was reasonable. 

And now the Church is once more speaking to the world. The present Holy Father [Pius XII] in the first encyclical of his reign warned about a drift to chaos unless men restored "a universal norm of morality," rooted law in "God the supreme lawgiver," healed "the divorce of civil authority from every kind of dependence upon Supreme Being," and restored "religious education of the young." Once more the world brought the nails and the hammer and nailed him to the cross, saying his plan would destroy academic freedom, and -- worst nonsense of all -- lead to the union of Church and State. 

The world has not yet seen how wrong it is in rejecting [the Holy Father's] pleas for peace and a return to the authority of Christ; but it will when the civilization built upon sand begins to crumble and fall. Easter's lesson is ever the same: They who slay the Foe lose the day; men who do not see the Church's reason live to see the Church as reasonable. 

God grant that we may not be stupid children, but may soon come to recognize that authority of Christ living in our day which is right not when the world is right, but right when the world is wrong. Then shall we not despair even in times of war, for it is error and hate which perish -- not Christ and the Church. Despair not -- moments of great catastrophe may be eves of great spiritual renaissance. Easter was within three days of the tragedy of Good Friday, but not within three days of the glorious Transfiguration. 

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, Venerable

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Infertility Awareness Week, 2014: A Catholic Perspective

The Bubble owes its very existence to the infertile Catholic bloggers who befriended me and encouraged me to start a blog four years ago. So, today I am honored to publish a post that my wonderful friends wrote in honor of Infertility Awareness Week. My heart is with you, dear sisters in Christ.

Special note for those in Phoenix: The 2nd Annual St. Gerard Mass of Comfort & Hope for those affected by infertility will be held at the Diocesan Pastoral Center on May 2 at 6:00pm. Reception and resources after Mass. 


Infertility Awareness Week, 2014: A Catholic Perspective 

One in six couples will experience infertility at some point in their marriage. Infertility is medically defined as the inability to conceive after 12 cycles of “unprotected” intercourse or 6 cycles using “fertility-focused” intercourse. A couple who has never conceived has “primary infertility” and a couple who has conceived in the past but is unable to again has “secondary infertility”. Many couples who experience infertility have also experienced miscarriage or pregnancy loss.

This week, April 20 – 26, 2014 is National Infertility Awareness Week.

We, a group of Catholic women who have experienced infertility, would like to take a moment to share with you what the experience of infertility is like, share ways that you can be of support to a family member or friend, and share resources that are helpful.

If you are experiencing infertility, please know you are not alone. You are loved and prayed for and there are resources to help you with the spiritual, emotional, and medical aspects of this journey.

The Experience of Infertility

In the beginning of trying to conceive a child, there is much hope and anticipation; for some, even a small fear of “what if we get pregnant right away?” There is planning of how to tell your husband and when you’d announce to the rest of the family. It is a joyful time that for most couples results in a positive pregnancy test within the first few months. However, for one in six couples, the months go by without a positive test and the fears and doubts begin to creep in. At the 6th month of trying using fertility-focused intercourse (using Natural Family Planning), the couple knows something is wrong and is considered “infertile” by doctors who understand the charting of a woman’s pattern of fertility.  At the 9th month of trying, the month that, had they conceived that first month, a baby would have been arriving, is often the most painful of the early milestones. At the 12th month mark the couple “earns” the label from the mainstream medical community as “infertile”.

As the months go by, the hopes and dreams are replaced with fears, doubts, and the most invasive doctors’ appointments possible. As a Catholic couple faithful to the teachings of the Church, we are presented by secular doctors with options that are not options for us and are told things like “you’ll never have children” and “you have unexplained infertility”; by our Catholic doctors we are told to keep praying and to have hope as they roll up their sleeves and work hard to figure out the cause of our infertility, with each visit asking, “How are you and your husband doing with all of this?”

We find it hard to fit in. We have faith and values that are different than our secular culture, but our childlessness (primary infertility) or small family (secondary infertility) makes us blend in with the norm. We have faith and values that are in line with the teachings of our Church, but our daily life looks so much different than the others who share those values and that makes us stand out in a way that we would rather not. We are Catholic husbands and wives living out our vocation fully. Our openness to life does not come in the form of children; it takes on the form of a quiet “no” or “not yet” or “maybe never” from God each month as we slowly trod along. Our openness to and respect for life courageously resists the temptations presented to us by the secular artificial reproductive technology industry.

Often times our friends and family do not know what to say to us, and so they choose to not say anything. Our infertility stands like a great big elephant in the room that separates us from others. Most of the time, we don’t want to talk about it, especially not in public or in group settings because it is painful and we will often shed tears. We realize it is difficult and ask that you realize this difficulty as well. We will do our best to be patient and to explain our situation to those who genuinely would like to know, but please respect our privacy and the boundaries we establish, as not only is infertility painful, it is also very personal.

One of the hardest experiences of infertility is that it is cyclical. Each month we get our hopes up as we try; we know what our due date would be as soon as we ovulate; we know how we would share the news with our husband and when and how we would tell our parents. We spend two weeks walking a fine line between hope and realism, between dreaming and despairing. When our next cycle begins – with cramps and bleeding and tears – we often only have a day or two before we must begin taking the medications that are meant to help us conceive. There is little to no time to mourn the dream that is once again not achievable; no time to truly allow ourselves to heal from one disappointment before we must begin hoping and trying again. We do not get to pick what days our hormones will plummet or how the medications we are often taking will affect us. We do not get to pick the day that would be “best” for us for our next cycle to start. We are at the mercy of hope, and while that hope keeps us going it is also what leaves us in tears when it is not realized.

Our faith is tested. We ask God “why?”, we yell at Him; we draw closer to God and we push Him away. Mass brings us to tears more often than not and the season of Advent brings us to our knees. The chorus of “Happy Mother’s Day” that surrounds us at Mass on the second Sunday in May will be almost more devastating than the blessing of mothers itself. We know that the Lord is trustworthy and that we can trust in Him; sometimes it is just a bigger task than we can achieve on our own.

  • Pray for us. Truly, it is the best thing that anyone can do.
  • Do not make assumptions about anything - not the size of a family or whether or not a couple knows what is morally acceptable to the Church. Most couples who experience infertility do so in silence and these assumptions only add to the pain. If you are genuinely interested, and not merely curious, begin a genuine friendship and discover the truth over time.
  • Do not offer advice such as “just relax," “you should adopt," “try this medical option or that medical option” – or really give any advice. Infertility is a symptom of an underlying medical problem; a medical problem that often involves complicated and invasive treatment to cure.
  • Do not assume that we will adopt. Adoption is a call and should be discerned by every married couple. Infertility does not automatically mean that a couple is meant to adopt.
  • Ask how we are doing and be willing to hear and be present for the “real” answer. Often times we answer, “OK” because that’s the easy, “safe” answer. Let us know that you are willing to walk through this the tough time with us. Frequently we just need someone who is willing to listen and give us a hug and let us know we are loved.
  •  Offer a Mass for us or give us a prayer card or medal to let us know you are praying for us. Just please refrain from telling us how we must pray this novena or ask for that saint’s intercession. Most likely we’ve prayed it and ask for the intercession daily. Please feel free to pray novenas and ask for intercession on our behalf.
  •  Be tolerant and patient. The medications we take can leave us at less than our best; we may not have the energy or ability to do much. Please also respect us when we say "no, thank you" to food or drinks. We may have restricted diets due to our medical conditions and/or medications.
  • Share the good news of your pregnancy privately (preferably in an email or card or letter and not via text, IM chat, phone call or in person) and as soon as possible. Please understand that we are truly filled with joy for you; any sadness we feel is because we have been reminded of our own pain and we often feel horrible guilt over it as well. Please be patient and kind if we don’t respond immediately, attend your baby shower or don’t “Like” all of your Facebook updates about your children. Again, it is really about us, not you.
  • Help steer group conversations away from pregnancy and parenting topics when we are around. We like to be able to interact in a conversation to which we can contribute meaningfully.
  • Do not ask when we are going to “start a family” (we started one the day we got married).
  • Do not ask which one of us is the “problem” – we are either fertile or infertile as a couple.
  • Do not say things like "I know you'll be parents some day," or "It will happen, I know it will!" Along the same lines, please do not tell us stories of a couple you know who struggled for years and went on to conceive or to "just adopt and then you'll get pregnant" (this one actually only happens a small percentage of the time). Only God knows what our future holds, please pray with us that we are able to graciously accept His will for our lives.
  • Do not pity us. Yes, we have much sorrow. Yes, we struggle. But, we place our faith in God, lean on the grace of our marriage, and trust that someday, whether here on earth or in heaven, we will see and understand God’s plan.


Bloggers who contributed to this article (those with an * have children after primary infertility or are experiencing secondary infertility. They are marked as such so that if you aren’t up for possibly seeing baby/child pictures today, you can meet them on a day when you are, but please do take the time to go and visit them.):

Mary Beth @ Grace of Adoption           

There is also a “Secret” Facebook group with over 150 members who contributed to this article as well. For more information or to join the group, email Rebecca at

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!

There is joy in our hearts, as the long, penitential days of Lent are over (this Lent was particularly brutal for me; what about you?), and we can once again sing "Alleluia!"

Remember always that the Christian religion is based not on a wise man's philosophy nor on an ancient set of rules, but on one major historical fact:

Jesus of Nazareth truly lived, truly died, 
and truly rose from the dead.

If the Resurrection never happened, then Christianity is not true, and our faith is in vain.

But the truth is, Jesus Christ is Risen! Alleluia, Alleluia!

A blessed Easter season to all, and congratulations and welcome home to all the new Catholics who received their sacraments at the Great Easter Vigil -- the most awe-inspiring, transcendent, sublime night of the year!

"Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important." -- C. S. Lewis

(I'll be back soon to finish out the Fulton Sheen series with his reflections on Easter!)


Friday, April 18, 2014

Sheen: Good Friday meditation

Background and Part I, here.
Part II, here.
Part III, here.
Part IV, here.
Part V, here.

Continuing with Lenten meditations on the Seven Last Words and the Seven Virtues, by Venerable Fulton J. Sheen.

The Fourth Word:
"It is consummated … Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit."

The Corresponding Virtue:
Justice and Charity


Excerpts from Sheen's March 22, 1940 address:

This is Good Friday -- the day when freedom revolted against Truth, and nailed it to a Cross. It is not a history everyone likes to hear recalled, and generally those who most shrink from the sight of the Saviour on the Cross are the very ones who delight in the grotesque murder stories in our tabloids and follow with bold interest in the harrowing details of a sex crime. Why is it that the lover of horror cannot stand the sight of the Crucifix? Why is it that the fanatics of murder stories are so cold to the story of the world's greatest sacrifice? The answer is that unlike all other crimes the Crucifix is self-accusing. 

We can look on other scenes of injustice without feeling we are involved in them; but we cannot look on a Crucifix without feeling that we had something to do with it, either for better or worse; either as a robber brought before his victim for judgment, or as a drowning man brought before his rescuer for thanks.

In the Crucifix is symbolized the perennial crisis in the soul of every man, the choice between the illusory end of time and the imponderable ends of eternity. Here are focused all the microscopic conflicts of good and evil that go on in every conscience; or, to put it another way, every man's soul is Calvary written small. That is why the Crucifix is inescapable; we either shrink from it or we embrace it; but we are not indifferent to it. 


For those who are brave enough to look at the Crucifix there is a revelation of the moral order -- not a moral order based on abstractions, theories and hypotheses, but a moral order revealed in a Person of absolute goodness who has met the impact of human evil and sin. It is more like a mirror than a scene, for it reveals not something unrelated to us, but ourselves, our moral beggary, our perversities and our defeats. 


Like nothing else in all the world [the Crucifix] seems to ask the questions: "Where do you stand?" "Which side do you propose to take from this moment on -- My side, or the side of moneyed Judas, cowardly Pilate, crafty Annas, or lustful Herod?" We cannot escape an answer. If on that Cross were someone who himself had been wrong and failed and had compromised with goodness, we could plead and excuse. But here neutrality is impossible, because there is no question of something more good or less good -- there is only right and wrong.… We cannot be on both sides, anymore than we can be in Light and Darkness at the same time.

The [empty] Cross they can look at, for that might be only a symbol of the contradictions of life; but the Crucifix -- they call it 'horrible' when they mean it is accusing. They may run away from it during life, but they will meet it at the Eternal Judgment when the Son of Man shall come bearing the Cross in triumph in the clouds of heaven to render to every man according to his works. It is better to face it now. 

The modern mood of mutilating the Gospel, choosing some texts and ignoring others, makes men miss the purpose of the life of Christ. He came on earth not primarily to preach, but to redeem. He came less to live than to die. His mission was not one of mere benevolence, nor to create a revolution in politics or economics, nor to heal, nor to leave a humanitarian ethics -- all these were secondary to the one absorbing purpose of His life, the redemption of man. 

What happens often in the economic order, happened in the moral order; man contracted a bigger debt than he could pay. A sin against Divine Love is greater than man alone can repair. But if God undertook to forgive the debt through mercy, justice would have been unrequited. God of course could pay the debt of man's sin, but He could not in justice do it apart from man. 

God could not pay our debt unless He became in some way involved in it. This the Son of God, Jesus Christ, did by becoming man, assuming a human nature like unto us in all things save sin. He did not merely substitute for us, nor take our place; there is an identification of Him with us. He is the Head of our sin-laden race. In a certain sense He and we are one Person -- the new Adam. Strictly speaking, Our Lord is man in an absolute sense, no just a man; His humiliation was not so much in assuming a human nature, but in making Himself one with us in the sinful conditions which we created. 

The Cross was not merely the outbreak of human passion -- it was the violent expression of anti-God. It was sin in its essence -- the attempted destruction of Divinity. Sin is self-mutilation, the destruction of personality -- when it takes the form of pride, it crowns Goodness with thorns; when it takes the form of dishonesty, it nails hands to a Cross; when it takes the form of hate, it blasphemes the dying; when it takes the form of lust, it crucifies. Nothing less than bloodshed could have been sin's worst crime and registered sin's deepest hurt.

Evil must work its power to the bitter end, use all its hatred, exhaust all its deceits, unsheathe all of its bloody swords, that being exhausted Goodness may be revealed as triumphant. And now that evil was spent in the final act of crucifixion, seeing that in Justice the last farthing was paid in the red coin of His blood and the mortgage against man paid back, He uttered His Cry of Triumph: "It is consummated … Father into thy hands I comment my spirit." All history, pagan and Jewish, looked forward to this moment; Heaven and earth were separated -- now they could be united. The Pontiff or Bridge-builder has spanned the shores of eternity and time, and the Bridge is the Cross. The last rivet has been put in place; the last nail driven; there is no "unfinished symphony"; with Him -- It is consummated.

It was the beauty and loveliness of the God-Man Christ which on the one hand made the crime so great, and on the other hand made the Divine forgiveness so final and so certain. That Figure on the Cross bore to the full not only the physical effects of sin which any man might suffer, and not only the mental effects of sin which all of us ought to feel, but the spiritual effects of sin which only He could feel because being sinless He was not part of it. Only the sinless know the horror of sin.

If you can stand the gaze of a Crucifix long enough you will discover these truths. First, if sin cost Him, who is Innocence, so much, then I who am guilty cannot take it lightly; second, there is only one thing worse in all the world than sin -- and that is to forget I am a sinner; third, more bitter than the Crucifixion must be my rejection of that Love by which I was redeemed. 



Saturday, April 12, 2014

Sheen: Meditation on TEMPERANCE

Background and Part I, here.
Part II, here.
Part III, here.
Part IV, here.

Continuing with Lenten meditations on the Seven Last Words and the Seven Virtues, by Venerable Fulton J. Sheen.

The Fourth Word:
"I thirst."

The Corresponding Virtue:

Excerpts from Sheen's March 17, 1940 address:

Because our needs are limited, but our wants are unlimited, a virtue is necessary to restrain our inordinate appetites and desires -- and that virtue is called temperance. It has for its object the regulation of the sensible appetites by reason. The two strongest appetites in man are eating and drinking which sustain his individual life, and the sexual act which propagates his social nature. Excesses in these appetites are the sources of the two sins of gluttony and lust. Temperance is the virtue which moderates them for the sake of the soul.

Temperance must not be confused either with Puritanism, which because of the abuse of a thing would take away its use; nor with license which would interpret all restraint as an infringement of liberty. Rather there is a golden mean, as revealed in Our Lord's first miracle at Cana where he changed water into wine to satisfy the individual appetite and blessed the married couple for the satisfaction of the creative instinct.  There is no consolation here for those gloomy souls who would kill the joy of living, nor for those frivolous souls who would isolate pleasure from the end of living, namely, the salvation of the soul. 

[T]he material exists for the spiritual. Christ expressed a physical thirst for a spiritual reason, namely, the fulfillment of a prophecy as a proof of His Divinity [Psalm 68:22]. In like manner, every material thing on the earth, from salt to flesh, is a means, not an end -- a bridge, not a goal of life. 

Because temperance teaches us that the earthly exists for the heavenly, the motive of a Christian is far different from the motive of a pagan. Take two persons who by cutting down on their food lose twenty pounds each. Materially, twenty pounds off a pagan is the same as twenty pounds off a Christian. But the motive in each case is quite different … The pagan diets for the sake of his bodily appearance; the Christian fasts for the sake of his soul. Each receives his corresponding reward, either the praise of men who love leanness or the praise of God who loves virtue. The tragedy of so much dieting, from a Catholic point of view, is how much restraint goes to waste. That is why one of the first questions in our [Baltimore] Catechism is: "Of which should we take more care, our soul or our body?" And the answer is: "We should take more care of our soul, for 'what doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his immortal soul?'"

The basis of the Catholic secret of temperance and discipline is exchange. All life is founded on exchange … We get light in exchange for heat; bread in exchange for a dime. If you want to be an expert in mathematics you have to give up being an expert in tennis; if you want to give your body all its satisfactions, you have to give up the joys of the soul. 

A saint is always joyful, but our modern pleasure-hunter is always melancholy. He is not really happy, because he laughs too much. The laughter is artificially stimulated from the outside by a stooge with a wise-crack; it is not a joy that proceeds from the inside because of a duty fulfilled out of love of God. Happiness comes from self-possession through temperance, not from self-expression through license. 

Loving enemies out of a divine intention is worth more than loving friends out of a personal satisfaction. The philanthropists who give millions to erect art museums, libraries, and playgrounds out of purely humanitarian reasons will not further their eternal salvation as much as the poor widow who gives a nickel to a poor man on the street because in his need she sees the poverty of Christ. 

It is not what is given that profits unto salvation; it is why it is given. That is why a friendly meal given to an enemy in the name of Him who loved us when we were His enemies, is worth more on the day of our judgment than a 50 million dollar hospital given to perpetuate a family name. There is no injustice in this. Each gets the reward he wanted: In one instance, the love of Christ; in the other, the memory of men.

Great sacrifices without love are worthless for the soul; nor because they are great does it follow they were done with love; it is the motive that matters -- do them out of love of God!

Venerable Fulton J. Sheen

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Quick Takes: The best article on gay "marriage" that I've ever read

Oh, man, I'm always so stinking late with my Quick Takes!!

1) I have read countless articles on gay "marriage", and this is perhaps the best I've ever encountered:

Just read it all. To the end. And pass it around.

(Thanks, Fr. Ed!)

2) As someone who has just had her (healthy) family's insurance premiums raised by several thousand dollars per year (thanks, Obama), I really appreciated these articles:

An excerpt:
When Obama pitched the Affordable Care Act in 2009, there were roughly 30 million uninsured. The Congressional Budget Office projects that in 10 years there will be . . . roughly 30 million uninsured under ObamaCare. According to Gallup, more people are uninsured today than when Obama took office. Indeed, most of ObamaCare’s alleged 7 million “enrollees” are people who lost their insurance because of ObamaCare.

As I've said before, leftism is that thing where you get to feel good inside about accomplishing nothing, and usually making things worse.

Or as Peggy Noonan puts it:

I just can't wait to see where this train wreck … that keeps going, and wrecking … will deliver us in the next few years. Sigh.

3) Sometimes a meme really just sums things up, no?


And of course, the Holy Father gives us the clear solution to everything:

4) When people ask what I love about being Catholic, here's my answer:

There’s no existential angst in being a Catholic. I know who I am. I know why suffering occurs in this world. I know where I’m going. I know Who made me and I can put it in a context that is coherent and cohesive, so there isn’t any turmoil interiorly. Even with the turmoil outside, I know I live in a cohesive, beautiful tapestry of truth. It makes sense, so life makes sense to me.

Catholics who accept and live the Faith in its entirety will understand just what I mean.

5) Many of you have read the terrible story of the murder of 24-year-old newlywed Nathan Trapuzzano, who leaves behind his grieving wife, Jennifer, and their unborn baby girl, Cecilia. Several of my readers know the young couple.

Looking beyond the senseless violence that killed this devout young man, I have been so incredibly moved by the beauty of his life and by the love and faith of those around him.

Read the funeral homily...

...and remember that this is what it all comes down to: Sanctity and a life well lived.

And on a more personal note, days ago our friend Ken lost his beloved wife Maria, the mother of their three children, just four weeks after she was diagnosed with cancer. So quickly can our loved ones be taken from this life, but we take solace in our Faith and knowing that God can be trusted to keep His promises. Please take a moment to pray for Ken and his children and for the repose of the soul of Maria.

For Nathan Trapuzzano and for Maria and for any loved ones you have recently lost:

Eternal rest, grant unto them O Lord
and let perpetual light shine upon them.

May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed,
through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

6)  The view from my kitchen window:

With dozens of buds that haven't even opened yet. Thank you, Mary! 

7) Look at Devan! Five years old and desperately in need of a family:

Click my photo for more info!

Devan has HIV and some eye trouble, and is a darling little boy. From someone who recently saw him at his orphanage:
He is so loyal and all boy in a good way. When we were visiting our son, he was upset that he (my son) didn’t get to be a part of the celebration that was going on. So he asked my son if he wanted one of the back pack things that they were letting the children play with. This treasure went and asked another kid if he could please let my son have a turn. He then took it off the child’s back and put it on my son. He really is such a gem. 
Could he be your son?

Have a blessed Sunday, and thanks to Jen for hosting!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Sheen: Meditation on FAITH

Background and Part I, here.
Part II, here.
Part III, here.

Continuing with Lenten meditations on the Seven Last Words and the Seven Virtues, by Venerable Fulton J. Sheen.

The Fourth Word:
"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"

The Corresponding Virtue:

Excerpts from Sheen's March 10, 1940 address:

[Y]ears ago, many who did not have faith knew what they disbelieved and why; today those who do not have faith do not even know what they disbelieve. Having abandoned all certitudes they have no standards by which to judge even their own agnosticism. 

Faith is not, as too many believe, an emotional trust; it is not a belief that something will happen to you; it is not even a will to believe despite difficulties. Rather faith is the acceptance of a truth on the authority of God revealing. It therefore presupposes reason.


You cannot start a religion with faith, for to believe someone without a reason for belief is credulity and superstition. The principal cause for the decline of religion in America is the irrational and groundless character of belief. Unless the foundation is solid the superstructure soon totters and falls. Try out the experiment and ask those who call themselves Christians why they believe and the majority of them will be found unable to give a reason. 

Since Truth is life, it must like a living babe be accepted in its entirety. Just as we are not falsely broadminded about life and accept a child on condition he has no arms or only one eye, so neither can we say we will believe Christ when He talks about the lilies of the field and not believe Him when He talks about the sanctity of the family. It is all or nothing.


[T]he condition of becoming a Catholic is the total, complete, and absolute submission to the authority of Christ and its prolongation in the Church. A Catholic may be defined as one who has made the startling discovery that God knows more than he does.

Faith then is related to reason as a telescope to the eye. A telescope does not destroy vision, but opens new worlds hitherto closed to it. We have the same eyes at night as we have in the day, but we cannot see at night because we lack normally the additional light of the sun. Let two minds with exactly the same education, one without and the other with faith, look on a piece of unleavened bread in a monstrance. The one sees bread; the other sees the Eucharistic Lord. One sees more than the other because he has a light which the other lacks -- the light of faith.

[Jesus experienced] isolation and abandonment. "Why hast thou forsaken me?" … And yet it was not abandonment, for it was  prefaced by: "My God, my God!" The sun does not abandon its task to light a world because temporarily overshadowed by a cloud. Even though these misty shapes hide its light and heat, we still know a day of dawning is near. Furthermore the Fourth Word was a verse from a Psalm of faith which ends: "He hath not slighted nor despised the supplications of the poor man. Neither hath he turned away his face from me: and when I cried to him, he heard me" (Psalm 21:25).

Faith does not mean being taken down from a cross; it means being lifted up to heaven -- sometimes by a cross.

Scripture states that when they crucified Christ, darkness covered the earth. That is exactly the description of our modern world. If the darkness of despair, the black-outs of peace, make our world wander blindly, it is because we have crucified the Light of the World.

It may even be that our woes are the last stage of sin. For a century or more, governments and people have abandoned God; now God is abandoning them. It is a terrible punishment when a just God strikes; but it is more terrible when He does not, but leaves us alone to our own devices to work out the full consequences of our sins. 

We are at the end of a tradition and a civilization which believed we could preserve Christianity without Christ, religion without a creed, meditation without sacrifice, family life without moral responsibility, sex without purity, and economics without ethics. We have completed our experiment of living without God and have proven the fallacy of a system of education which calls itself progressive because it finds new excuses for sins. Our so-called progressiveness, did we but realize it, is like unto the progressive putrefaction of a corpse. The soul is gone, and what we call change is only decay. How stop it except by reversing the process by which we drove God out of the world, namely by relighting the lamp of faith in the souls of men?

[We must not] abandon creeds, and water down the milk of religion to a point where it would no longer nourish. The Catholic Church for one would never do that, because since its truths are God-made they cannot be man-unmade. We are trustees not creators of faith. 

[T]o all, may there come the full-visioned understanding of how souls are won to truth by the Cross. As the poet puts it:
"I slipped His fingers, I escaped His feet,
 I ran and hid, for Him I feared to meet.
 One day I passed Him, fettered on a Tree,
 He turned His Head, and looked, and beckoned me. 
"Neither by speed, nor strength could He prevail.
 Each hand and foot was pinioned by a nail.
 He could not run or clasp me if He tried,
 But with His eye, He bade me reach His side. 
"For pity's sake, thought I, I'll set you free.
 'Nay -- hold this cross,' He said, 'and follow me.
 This yoke is easy, this burden light,
 Not hard or grievous if you wear it tight.' 
"So did I follow Him Who could not move,
 An uncaught captive in the hands of Love."
         -- Elizabeth Cheney