Thursday, January 23

What not to listen to if you want to concentrate while you're driving on icy roads:

On the Diane Rehm Show, author Gus Lee reading the section from his memoir Chasing Hepburn: A Memoir of Shanghai, Hollywood, and a Chinese Family's Fight for Freedom that describes the foot-binding ritual/process/torture that his mother was to endure as a child of three...

No. Don't do that.

So. You think that Fort Wayne, Indiana would be about corn and snow and port tenderloins, would you? Would you think that?

Well, think again.

Just today, as I was driving down the road, right past the big water tower with the waves painted on it (three rivers meet here you know) and right before the railroad tracks and between the Office Tavern and the Goodwill Store, on my way to Wal-Mart, I found myself falling behind a Jaguar with a vanity tag that read Versace.

So you can just think again the next time you think about Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Yeah, we're talking creative class. Right here. I saw it myself, with my very own eyes.

A little late in blogging this, but what the hey:

Sacramento bishop challenges Davis

At a Mass on Wednesday, Sacramento Bishop Weigand told congregants at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament that Davis should refrain from taking the Eucharist while he continues to support abortion. Davis spokesman Russ Lopez said: "Governor Davis has said repeatedly that he is proud of the legislation he has signed giving women the right to choose."

Hold on to your coffee while you consider the headline that National Catholic Reporter gives to its profile of Nancy Pelosi:

Priesthood's Loss is Capitol's Gain

Is it more difficult today to be a pro-choice Catholic then it was, say, 10 years ago?

It’s about the same. When I traveled across the country when I was campaigning for candidates this last time, when I was in another city on a Sunday, I would try to find a Catholic church nearby. I heard some of the sermons in some of the churches down South, so I understand what some of our colleagues undergo in the church -- it was difficult. We’ve had those sermons in California, but [with] a little more subtlety than I was hearing down South. It gave me a better understanding of what some of my colleagues are going through.

Oh, oh, oh. Excuse me while I dry my tears for Pelosi and all of her colleagues who are "going through" so much in their brave quest to be pro-choice Catholics. What they must endure. What they must suffer as they sit in those pews listening to those un-subtle southern sermons (huh?), wishing they could simply be back in the safe arms of the capitol, casting their votes protecting er...choice.

I didn't watch or read much coverage of the Roe anniversary yesterday. It has reached the point at which I literally can't stomach the mainstream press' coverage. It is so crushingly predictable from the language to the images, all of which work to frame the story in a way that completely obliterates the point, that does nothing but repeat platitudes and slogans and resolutely refuses to ask real questions.

Refusing to ask abortion advocates to confront the reality of abortion and defend it as it is - an act in which one very large human being takes some instruments - a vacuum, perhaps, a currette, some forceps - takes these instruments and uses them to end the life of a very small human being. Refusing to push abortion advocates on the nature of preborn human life, refusing to set up the ironies - "If you're pregnant you have an obligation to take care of yourself and your unborn child" and "If you're pregnant you have the right to pay someone to kill your unborn child" and watch the abortion advocates grapple with them.

Outsiders don't understand the passion of the prolife movement. They don't understand why prolifers don't just give up, pack up, go home and leave the world alone. It is hard to understand if you see the issue as - an issue, as a set of ideas.

It's not hard to understand if you see the issue as - a person. A lot of people.

It's not hard to understand if you stand outside and abortion clinic and watch the women and girls walk in and really, truly process what is going on. If you were to stop one of those women and get an instant ultrasound, you would hear a heartbeat and see a little creature with budding, perhaps fully formed limbs, a face and a cord binding it to its mother, its source of life, its protection from danger as it grows. You would see this, and if you'd studied it even a little bit, you'd know that this little person is not the same person as its mother. He or she has its own circulatory system with its own blood and its own genetic makeup. If you would think a little further ahead, you would contemplate the ultrasound and you would see a lifetime begun.

And, standing outside the abortion facility, you watch the women walk in, their bodies pulsing with life, even in the midst of their own sorrow and confusion and anger.

In a few hours, you see the women walk out and you know that this time, they are alone.

It's not hard to understand.

Can you bear it? Can you bear to think that the most defenseless are treated so brutally? Can you bear to think that any woman at any time feels that her best choice is to pay someone to reach into her body, into a womb so finely designed to be such a sanctuary, and disturb the gentle sleep of the person who didn't, after all, ask to be conceived, who didn't mean to be a bother, who can't raise her voice in defense of her existence, whose arms are too tiny to fight off the sucking, sickening rush of air and the sharp instruments?

No, when you see it that way, we you see that this isn't about an idea, but about the deaths of real human beings with personalities, souls, bodies and futures, you can begin to understand the persistence of the prolifer.

On the other hand, to be able to bear that reality, to be able to support it and fight for it...that is something< i must say, that is beyond my understanding.

Eve's got her March observations posted

Who went to the March For Life?

So far I've read brief eyewitness accounts from Emily over at HMS and Richard Chonak at Catholic LIght

Anyone know of any Blogwitnesses to the March? Anyone who attended, please post a comment here. Also - if you participated in a prolife event in your very own town over the past few days, post and let us know how it went, what the press coverage was, and whether or not the opposition showed up.

You may have read that Archbishop Meyers of Newark has banned personal eulogies at funerals. His former diocese, Peoria, still allows them, with limits.

Eulogies at Catholic funeral Masses are a recent practice, DeSutter said, becoming common only in the past 20 years. The topic has been discussed by Illinois bishops, he said, but the practice is still left to pastor's discretion. "Like anything else, you kind of learn by trial and error, and I think it's being refined as we go along, and people are learning how to incorporate it into the liturgy," he said.

It all cuts to the point of a funeral liturgy or "Mass of Christian Burial." In the Catholic context, the focus is not on the deceased - it is on Christ and our hope of resurrection. For some reason, though, over the past decades, despite the rite itself, which was reformed and does, indeed, retain that focus, in practice way too many Catholic funeral liturgies have become canonization celebrations....

Another point, however, is that this moment is the most delicate moment, and is frequently mishandled, often brutally, by priests and liturgists. A while back, I recall great controversy in the diocese in which I was living about praying the rosary at the vigil - wake, viewing, whatever - service. One priest had got it into his head that this was forbidden now, and refused permission each and every time when it was requested, and in a pretty cold way, too.

It is a delicate balance, one that was challenged a few months back by the question of "Danny Boy" and other secular songs being used at Masses of Christian Burial. No, it's not appropriate at all...but how do you say no?

A bit of a change of pace:

We do a lot of griping around here, and I make no apologies for that. In this big old world, there's plenty of room for both Dr. Peale and me.

But I'm interested in your feedback on something, partly on behalf of an equally curious reader.

Catholic education - both past and present - gets spanked around a lot. I myself had a great time many months ago collecting stories of wretched stories of post-Vatican II religious "education". Go here to read some of them.

But, in the name of warming up this cold, cold day (except for you Mark, and you can just be quiet now), let's get positive. Here's my question:

What have been your positive experiences of education in faith?

Let me be specific. I'm not looking for role model tales - you know, my great-aunt Tilda taught me so much as she prayed the rosary while planting her organic tomatoes under the shadow of St. Francis. No - I want, as much as possible classroom stuff - which will, inevitably, include the modeling and witness of teachers, but might also include effective environments - both in the entire school/parish and the individual classroom, good textbooks, good approaches, expectations, and so on.

We know what doesn't work. What does?

Late start today because the car wouldn't start. Actually it did -the first time I tried it, at around 6:30 right before Michael left for work. I wanted to make sure it would start before he left. Okay then, but an hour later when it was time to make the first run (David to school), I turned it and did something squirrely - I'm not sure what - I then I got the dreaded "clickclickclick." Oh. Michael told me later I shouldn't have just started it quickly when he left - I probably used all the available juice in just doing that.

But I did, and we can't wallow in the past. So I arranged rides for everyone, called AAA and waited. An hour and half later, the guy came, plugged the cables into this big ol' outlet in the front of his truck, and voila - we have internal combustion.


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