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My dream self thinks the new evangelization is mainly about cookies.

One of the major perks of blogging at Patheos is that Elizabeth Scalia occasionally shares her dreams with us. As the lost sailor in the Dark Island says, “Not daydreams:dreams!”

As much as I loved the dream where I served canned beans in the can at the event that wasn’t no Edel Gathering, Elizabeth dream the other night gave me even more pleasure. I’ll tell Elizabeth tell it.  Oh, and for those of you  not familiar with Margaret Realy, blogger at Prayer Gardens and author of soon to be four books, most recently A Garden of Visible Prayer, I haven’t spoken with her face to face, but my general impression is that she is . . . not loud.

Oh — and I also appreciate how, even in her sleep, Elizabeth is plugging her writers!

***

I awoke from a dream in which Simcha Fisher, Margaret Rose Realy and I were all doing “home visits” as part of some parish evangelical outreach. We were supposed to go to a house, introduce ourselves, say we’d been trained by the parish and ask if they would like a blessing. That’s all. We were just offering blessings to people. This lady opens the door and steps out into the beautiful sunlight with her little dog and says she’d like a blessing for her dog.

I tell her we usually bless the animals ever October for Saint Francis Feast, and Simcha whispers to me, “let’s just bless the dog. It’s evangelization. And my feet hurt!” Margaret begins to bless the dog on her own, very loudly, and Simcha sits down on the woman’s front step, wondering if the woman has any cookies.

When Margaret is done, I ask the lady if she would now like to be blessed. She looks doubtfully at Margaret, and says, “Depends. Does it have to be loud, like that?”

“I can bless you very quietly,” I assure her.

“Can we do the part about rejecting Satan?” She asks.

“That’s the renewal of baptismal promises!” Simcha says. “I have bap-a-tized 15 children. Irene says ‘bap-a-tized.’”

“I don’t see why we can’t let her renew her baptismal promises if she wants to,” Margaret says. “In fact I think every blessing should require that. We should be eager to say ‘I reject Satan and all of his works…”

Margaret is getting loud again, so I tell the woman, “sure, you can renew baptismal promises”, and we lead her through it and when she’s done I pronounce, “this is our faith, the faith of the church; we are proud to profess it,” and then move into a standard blessing.

Suddenly Margaret falls to the ground as though slain in the spirit, and begins shouting about how Christianity is painful and not a warm blanket but the cross, but she is willing to bear the cross.

Simcha sits back down and starts looking at her swelling ankles. The woman lights a cigarette and, watching Margaret, asks “what is this? Is it something new?”

“It’s Flannery O’ Connor,” I tell her. “She must have read Tod Worner‘s latest piece.”

By now Margaret is shouting to the sky, “Take me now, Jesus! If you want me this instant, I am yours!”

The woman says “I guess she and Jesus are having a moment…”

Simcha says, “I think her blood sugar is low, are there any cookies?”

“I think everyone’s blood sugar is low. Margaret, get up. Let’s go have ice cream.”

“Oh, ice cream sounds nice,” the lady says as her dog starts licking Margaret’s face, and Margaret giggles.

“Ice cream!” shouts Simcha, launching herself off the stoop and running toward the car.

me get ice cream

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What did the Pope mean by “sins against unity”?

PIC house with cracked foundation

Ideas are like houses, and other people are like . . . well, like people who live in those houses. If I lived next to a house with a huge, gaping crack in the foundation, and I discovered that a lovely young family was innocently planning to move into that house, what should I do? Should I keep quiet, in the name of peace and unity?

Read the rest at the Register.

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Holiness is a numbers game, you filthy relativist!

You never know what the morning will bring. I just got into a weird little skirmish with a fellow who believes that there is only one kind of generosity, and that is having as many babies as possible. (He can correct me if I’m misrepresenting his point of view.)

It began when someone wrote a nice review of The Sinner’s Guide to NFP, and this fellow — not having read the book, of course — said:

 

generosity fb screenshot

 

Yeah, I played the grandmultipara pregnancy card. So sue me.

It didn’t stop Mr. NFP Denier, anyway. He let me know that his wife is expecting theireleventh baby (eleven being a higher number than ten, you’ll note), and that his family was fruitful and multiplied just like God commanded, and they were therefore obeying the doctrine of the Church in what was obviously the only possible way, unlike people who use NFP, who are clearly disobeying the doctrine of the Church.

I said that generosity sometimes looks different from having another baby. Generosity can even look like deciding not to have another baby right now, even if you really, really want to. It depends on your circumstances. It’s different for different people, according to what God is asking of their specific lives. The Church teaches that we can use our hearts and our brains while prayerfully discerning intensely individual questions like family size.  It’s not a numbers game, where God judges our holiness by using His fingers and toes to tally up our family size.

But maybe my reader-who-doesn’t-need-to-read-my-stupid-book is onto something, with his accusation of relativism. It occurs to me that the scourge of relativism is nothing new. One very early example of a selfish woman trying to excuse her own flaws and call them virtues? Check out this chick:

And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. So she said, “Truly I say to you, I, a poor widow, have put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God,[a] but I out of my poverty put in all the livelihood that I had.”

See there? Relativism! The nerve of that lady, thinking that the gift of her dumb little pennies made her even more generous than the big bucks those other guys were pouring into the chest! If there’s one thing that Jesus tries to pound into our heads over the course of the Gospel, it’s that holiness is a numbers game, period.

Pff, relativists. I suppose they think they’ll somehow find their way into heaven anyway.

Well, you never know. I’ve heard God is fairly generous, too.

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I was late to listen to Sam Rocha’s “Late to Love.” My mistake!

late to love

 

If you’re even peripherally involved with Catholic media, you will know that peculiar dread that goes thrilling down your spine when you hear the words, “Can I send you a copy of my new Catholic [album, book, movie, interpretive dance instructional booklet, etc.].

Because you know, as surely as you know your own name, that it’s going to suck. It’s going to be Catholic, and it’s going to be well-intentioned, and it’s going to do its darndest to combat the darkness and evil that has such a firm foothold in popular entertainment  . . . and it’s going to suck. It will be poorly produced, and would never stand up on its own merits. But you’re supposed to “support” it, because it’s Catholic.

So, I put off listening to Sam Rocha’s Augustinian* soul album, Late to Love, which debuts today. I’ve been putting it off for months. But today I finally clicked on tracks that you can hear online here. And I am kicking myself for waiting.

Because it’s good. Really good. It’s clean, it’s tight, it’s professional.These are real musicians; he’s a real singer, with a supple, smoky voice. It’s original and soulful, the lyrics are smart, the sound is solid and occasionally unexpected, and it’s really, really Catholic. Give a listen!  Sam is smart and funny, educated to the gills, and kind of a smart ass.  And he totally gets that it’s not enough to be Catholic, you also have to be good at what you do.

Whew!

*Check out the background for the album cover, above. Recognize that color and texture? Hint: Augustine . . . fruit . . .

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Catholics with a Past

“The man who has not suffered, what can he possibly know, anyway?” says Rabbi Abraham Heschel. He may be onto something. When we look for insight and understanding, we go to someone who has been wronged, and who has come out stronger and wiser: survivors of wars, genocide, concentration camps; people who have overcome massive disabilities; people who have been abused and outcast, and who have responded with love, gentleness, generosity, and wisdom.

But what about the man who caused his own suffering? The man who has been selfish, foolish, ugly, cruel, and who has suffered because of his own willful sins?  What can he possibly know, anyway?

Read the rest at the Register.

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My new bumper sticker!

Just a quick post! Lots to do. I just wanted to say:

1. Mary’s Shelter is amazing, and the soiree was fantastic.

2. The Catholic and pro-life communities of Fredericksburg, Va are amazing and fantastic.

3. I have a new bumper sticker.

 

bumper stickers

 

 

 

Of course, my motives are not entirely pure. I’m working, little by little, on covering up . . . whatever this is:

 

photo (52)

 

 

On the plus side, I have never ever been in a parking lot and said, “Wait, is that ourvan? I’m not sure.”

UPDATE:  Several people have asked about the “COEXIST” sticker. You can order onehere!

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How to make a shelf in, like, two minutes

1. Get a milk crate, find a strong clothes hanger, force the arms of the hanger through holes in the sides of the crate, and force the hook through a hole in the top.

2. Put a screw in the wall.  If your husband is watching, use a stud finder first.  Hang the hook on the screw.

3. Ta-dah!

 

photo (8)

 

You now have somewhere in which to keep your best toy ever so your baby sister doesn’t get it. You can also keep things on top. This is not the sturdiest shelf in the world, obviously, but sometimes it’s the best you can frickin’ do right now.