Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Ember days in Lent

Bumped (and slightly revised) this from the last Ember days post:

But just the same as last time, I got up this morning and found a post-it note stuck to the microwave, left by husband:

"Ember Day!"

Observing the Ember Days:

Wednesday and Saturday ember days: fasting, with two smaller meals and one normal sized meal, like a Friday in Lent, but meat allowed at one meal only.

Friday ember days: just like a Friday in Lent, with two smaller meals and one normal sized meal, and no meat.

There's a Latin saying that helps us remember when the ember days fall, but I'm pretty sure my version is not quite right. Latin endings are probably botched. If you know it, please let me know.

Post crucem, post lucem, post cinis, post ignem.

Post crucem: after the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
Post lucem: after the feast of St. Lucy
Post cinis: after Ash Wednesday
Post ignem: after Pentecost

More here from the St. John Cantius website.

From the Catholic Encyclopedia:

Ember days (corruption from Lat. Quatuor Tempora, four times) are the days at the beginning of the seasons ordered by the Church as days of fast and abstinence. They were definitely arranged and prescribed for the entire Church by Pope Gregory VII (1073-1085) for the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday after 13 December (S. Lucia), after Ash Wednesday, after Whitsunday, and after 14 September (Exaltation of the Cross).
The purpose of their introduction, besides the general one intended by all prayer and fasting, was to thank God for the gifts of nature, to teach men to make use of them in moderation, and to assist the needy. [Click on link at top for more.]
From Wikipedia:
In the liturgical calendar of the Western Christian churches, Ember days are four separate sets of three days within the same week—specifically, the Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday—roughly equidistant in the circuit of the year, that were formerly set aside for fasting and prayer. These days set apart for special prayer and fasting were considered especially suitable for the ordination of clergy. The Ember Days were known in the medieval church as quatuor tempora (the "four seasons"), or jejunia quatuor temporum ("fasts of the four seasons").
The Ember Weeks—the weeks in which the Ember Days occur—are the week between the third and fourth Sundays of Advent, between the first and second Sundays of Lent, the week between Pentecost and Trinity Sunday, and the calendar week after Holy Cross Day (September 14) (the liturgical Third Week of September).
Prior to the reforms instituted by the Second Vatican Council, the Roman Catholic Church mandated fasting (only one full meal per day plus two partial, meatless meals) on all Ember Days (which meant both fasting and abstinence from meat on Ember Fridays), and the faithful were encouraged (though not required) to receive the sacrament of penance whenever possible. On February 17, 1966, Pope Paul VI's decree Paenitemini excluded the Ember Days as days of fast and abstinence for Roman Catholics.[1]
The revision of the liturgical calendar in 1969 laid down the following rules for Ember Days and Rogation days:
In order to adapt the rogation and ember days to various regions and the different needs of the people, the conferences of bishops should arrange the time and plan of their celebration.Consequently, the competent authority should lay down norms, in view of local conditions, on extending such celebrations over one or several days and on repeating them during the year.On each day of these celebrations the Mass should be one of the votive Masses for various needs and occasions that is best suited to the intentions of the petitioners.
They may appear in some calendars as "days of prayer for peace."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

'Let them be little'

Attachment parenting, Catholic-style

"Attachment Parenting, on the other hand, provides us with proven successful means for preserving in our children a love for their littleness and their vulnerability by respectfully fostering their dependence on us until they are mature enough to depend on themselves and ultimately God, and demonstrating to them, in ways which they are able to understand, our love and acceptance of them exactly as they are right here in this moment--weak, ignorant, vulnerable, little."
Click on title above for entire post.

Related post here, with a few excerpts from Hold On to Your Kids.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Fahrenheit 451 made real

The new law that is causing so much turmoil and harm in the thrift store business is having unexpected consequences, and the worst of them is that children's books printed before 1985 "may be unlawful to sell or distribute." The heavy, clumsy hand of Big Brother, in a panicked response to the influx of lead-contaminated Chinese goods, has come down hard on children's books and businesses that sell them.

In spite of the fact that no one knows of a single instance of a child being harmed by handling a pre-1985 book, used book providers will be punished for selling or even giving away older books.

Libraries are worried, too, but are assuming the new law doesn't apply to their collections until they are told otherwise. Legally there's no reason for them to believe this, but the alternative would have a catastrophic effect on their collections. I've noticed that libraries often don't value the older, often out-of-print books in their collections and are all too willing to jettison them to make space for two dozen copies of the latest "Twilight" book. This will only further encourage them to weed older gems from their shelves. It also seems likely that the children's portion of your local library book sale may already be a goner. Thanks for protecting us, Uncle Sam.

I've excerpted a few paragraphs but the entire piece is worth the time. It covers the fact that the media have been silent about this threat to this huge class of books. (And we thought they were the champions of free expression and the enemy of 'book-banning' and 'censorship.')

City Journal
The New Book Banning
It’s hard to believe, but true: under a law Congress passed last year aimed at regulating hazards in children’s products, the federal government has now advised that children’s books published before 1985 should not be considered safe and may in many cases be unlawful to sell or distribute. Merchants, thrift stores, and booksellers may be at risk if they sell older volumes, or even give them away, without first subjecting them to testing—at prohibitive expense. Many used-book sellers, consignment stores, Goodwill outlets, and the like have accordingly begun to refuse new donations of pre-1985 volumes, yank existing ones off their shelves, and in some cases discard them en masse.

While lead poisoning from other sources, such as paint in old houses, remains a serious public health problem in some communities, no one seems to have been able to produce a single instance in which an American child has been made ill by the lead in old book illustrations—not surprisingly, since unlike poorly maintained wall paint, book pigments do not tend to flake off in large lead-laden chips for toddlers to put into their mouths.

A commenter at Etsy, the large handicrafts and vintage-goods site, observed how things worked at one store:

I just came back from my local thrift store with tears in my eyes! I watched as boxes and boxes of children’s books were thrown into the garbage! Today was the deadline and I just can’t believe it! Every book they had on the shelves prior to 1985 was destroyed! I managed to grab a 1967 edition of “The Outsiders” from the top of the box, but so many!

People who deal in children’s books for a livelihood now face unpleasant choices. Valerie Jacobsen of Clinton, Wisconsin, who owns a small used-book store and has sold over the Internet since 1995, commented at my blog, Overlawyered: “Our bookstore is the sole means of income for our family, and we currently have over 7,000 books catalogued. In our children’s department, 35 percent of our picture books and 65 percent of our chapter books were printed before 1985.” Jacobsen has contacted the CPSC and her congressional representatives for guidance, but to no avail. “We cannot simply discard a wealth of our culture’s nineteenth and twentieth children’s literature over this,” she writes. She remains defiant, if wary: “I was willing to resist the censorship of 1984 and the Fire Department of Fahrenheit 451 long before I became a bookseller, so I’d love to run a black market in quality children’s books—but at the same time it’s not like the CPSC has never destroyed a small, harmless company before.”

Whatever the future of new media may hold, ours will be a poorer world if we begin to lose (or “sequester” from children) the millions of books published before our own era. They serve as a path into history, literature, and imagination for kids everywhere. They link the generations by enabling parents to pass on the stories and discoveries in which they delighted as children. Their illustrations open up worlds far removed from what kids are likely to see on the video or TV screen. Could we really be on the verge of losing all of this? And if this is what government protection of our kids means, shouldn’t we be thinking instead about protecting our kids from the government?
This news is cause for grief among children, book lovers, entrepreneurs, and those who believe culture is worth preserving and passing on. Our large family loves to read and is devoted to children's literature. It's a kick in the stomach.

(cross posted here)

Friday, February 13, 2009

History lessons

From Rick Santorum:
The gathering storm I have been warning of for years has now formed over the West. Yet instead of fighting the gradual incursion of Sharia and the demands of an intolerant, even militant Islam, Westerners are cowering and fatalistic. Last year, the Archbishop of Canterbury conceded that acceptance of some parts of Sharia in Britain seemed "unavoidable."
Read the whole thing. It's not long.

From Mark Steyn:
It is pathetic but unsurprising how ignorant all these brave "anti-fascists" are. But there is a lesson here not just for Britain but for the rest of us, too: When a society loses its memory, it descends inevitably into dementia. Allowing the cultural relativists to annex the education system ultimately destroys the grown-up world, too.

Autism and vaccines: data was falsified

Science lesson:

Vaccine related to autism? Never mind.
MMR doctor Andrew Wakefield fixed data on autism

THE doctor who sparked the scare over the safety of the MMR vaccine for children changed and misreported results in his research, creating the appearance of a possible link with autism, a Sunday Times investigation has found.

Confidential medical documents and interviews with witnesses have established that Andrew Wakefield manipulated patients’ data, which triggered fears that the MMR triple vaccine to protect against measles, mumps and rubella was linked to the condition.

Why would he do a thing like that? Three guesses.
From MedPageToday:
The allegations follow disclosures in 2004 that Dr. Wakefield's research was partially, and secretly, funded by plaintiffs' lawyers in suits against vaccine makers, and that he had cut procedural corners in the research.
From the Chicago Tribune:
The vaccine court's judges reviewed hundreds of hours of expert testimony and thousands of pages of medical records. They concluded that there was no evidence showing that autism was caused by the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and a preservative containing mercury once used in many childhood vaccines.

The judges used strong language to dismiss the claims.

"To conclude that [one of the claimant's] condition was the result of his MMR vaccine, an objective observer would have to emulate Lewis Carroll's White Queen and be able to believe six impossible (or, at least, highly improbable) things before breakfast," wrote one judge.
We need to teach our children to look at the studies behind the claims, the questions behind the poll numbers, the original sources behind the history texts.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Anchoress on St. Bernadette

From The Anchoress, video from Fr. Martin, author of My Life with the Saints, on St. Bernadette.

Monday, February 9, 2009

My friend Shellie posted about a great kids' book, Little Britches: Father and I Were Ranchers. I'll take this opportunity to plug my family's children's literature list, It's a list of over 800 books that we've read and enjoyed. You can select genres and reading levels and print out a list to bring with you to the library. (Printing the entire list is not recommended.) There's a blog, too, that I haven't kept up with too well. Check it out and enjoy.

Here's the author list:

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Septuagesima Sunday

The Church's way of warning us: Lent is coming.
Before you know it, it will be Sexagesima, then Quinquagesima, then Quadragesima.

Ash Wednesday: Feb. 25
Ember days: March 4, 6, 7
Begin St. Joseph novena: March 11
St. Patrick: March 17
St. Joseph: March 19
Annunciation: March 25
Passion Sunday (old school): March 29
Palm Sunday: April 5
Easter Sunday: April 12

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Animal Collective Nouns

I'm sure I'm not the only one fascinated by this list.

Animal Collective Nouns

I notice, though, that one of my favorites, an episode of sparrows, is not here. Instead, we have a 'host' of sparrows. Not nearly as colorful.

Monday, December 29, 2008

'He cannot ravish. He can only woo.'

CS Lewis is brilliant when writing about human nature, free will, spiritual dryness, and sin. Background for those who may not have read The Screwtape Letters: the letters are written from a devil named Screwtape to his nephew Wormwood on the art and skill of winning souls for Hell. The patient is the mortal they are trying to lure from God. The Enemy refers to God. This excerpt is beautiful.

From The Screwtape Letters, Chapter 8
As long as he lives on earth, periods of emotional and bodily richness and liveliness will alternate with periods of numbness and poverty. The dryness and dullness through which your patient is now going are not, as you fondly suppose, your workmanship; they are merely a natural phenomenon which will do us no good unless you make a good use of it.

We want cattle who can finally become food; He wants servants who can finally become sons. We want to suck in, He wants to give out. We are empty and would be filled; He is full and flows over. Our aim is a world in which Our Father Below has drawn all other beings into himself: the Enemy wants a world full of beings united to Him but still distinct.

And that is where the trough comes in. You must have often wondered why the Enemy does not make more use of is power to be sensibly present to human souls in any degree He chooses and at any moment. But you now see that the Irresistible and the Indisputable are the two weapons which the very nature of His scheme forbids Him to use. Merely to override a human will (as His felt presence in any but the faintest and most mitigated degree would certainly do) would be for Him useless. He cannot ravish. He can only woo. For His ignoble idea is to eat the cake and have it; the creatures are to be one with Him, but yet themselves; merely to cancel them, or assimilate them, will not serve. He is prepared to do a little overriding at the beginning. He will set them off with communications of His presence which, though faint, seem great to them, with emotional sweetness, and easy conquest over temptation. But He never allows this state of affairs to last long. Sooner or later He withdraws, if not in fact, at least from their conscious experience, all those supports and incentives. He leaves the creature to stand up on its own legs--to carry out from the will alone duties which have lost all relish. It is during such trough periods, much more than during the peak periods, that it is growing into the sort of creature He wants it to be. Hence the prayers offered in the state of dryness are those which please Him best. We can drag our patients along by continual tempting, because we design them only for the table, and the more their will is interfered with, the better. He cannot "tempt" to virtue as we do to vice. He wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away His hand; and if only the will to walk is really there He is pleased even with their stumbles.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Something beautiful from today's Mass

Introit from the Sunday within the Octave of the Nativity of Our Lord

While all things were in quiet silence and the night was in the midst of her course, Thine almighty Word, O Lord, leaped down from heaven from Thy royal throne. (Psalm) The Lord hath reigned, He is clothed with beauty: the Lord is clothed with strength, and hath girded Himself.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

20/20: "From Russia with Love -- Dealing with Difficult Adoptions"

I have friends dealing with these terrible problems. "Difficult" is a gross understatement for families struggling with children who are suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome and the inability to attach to others, caused by early neglect.

ABC story about 20/20 episode

Analysis from on what parents can learn from this. Two items in particular:
  • Understand the drug/alcohol effect on brain development and how it affects behavior. The Mulligans discovered that Slater suffers from brain damage and therefore will need lifelong care.

  • Understand abuse and neglect issues and the impact on brain development.

This second item means "attachment" to me.

Prospective adoptive parents need to know what they are getting into. This is especially important if they already have young children, whom they are already responsible for, and whose lives will be forever changed by their new siblings. Many parents in the 20/20 piece seemed unprepared to deal with their new children.

Hope was offered by Joyce Sterkel, who adopted three teens from Russia, and who runs the Ranch for Kids. She seems to have a lot of insight into what the different kids need. Her ranch isn't an option for most parents because of the cost, but there may be some things to be learned from her.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The conversion of Stojan Adasevic

Don't miss the last paragraph.

Another 'champion of abortion' becomes defender of life: the story of Stojan Adasevic

.- The Spanish daily “La Razon” has published an article on the pro-life conversion of a former “champion of abortion.” Stojan Adasevic, who performed 48,000 abortions, sometimes up to 35 per day, is now the most important pro-life leader in Serbia, after 26 years as the most renowned abortion doctor in the country.

“The medical textbooks of the Communist regime said abortion was simply the removal of a blob of tissue,” the newspaper reported. “Ultrasounds allowing the fetus to be seen did not arrive until the 80s, but they did not change his opinion. Nevertheless, he began to have nightmares.”

In describing his conversion, Adasevic “dreamed about a beautiful field full of children and young people who were playing and laughing, from 4 to 24 years of age, but who ran away from him in fear. A man dressed in a black and white habit stared at him in silence. The dream was repeated each night and he would wake up in a cold sweat. One night he asked the man in black and white who he was. ‘My name is Thomas Aquinas,’ the man in his dream responded. Adasevic, educated in communist schools, had never heard of the Dominican genius saint. He didn’t recognize the name”

“Why don’t you ask me who these children are?” St. Thomas asked Adasevic in his dream.

“They are the ones you killed with your abortions,’ St. Thomas told him.

“Adasevic awoke in amazement and decided not to perform any more abortions,” the article stated.

“That same day a cousin came to the hospital with his four months-pregnant girlfriend, who wanted to get her ninth abortion—something quite frequent in the countries of the Soviet bloc. The doctor agreed. Instead of removing the fetus piece by piece, he decided to chop it up and remove it as a mass. However, the baby’s heart came out still beating. Adasevic realized then that he had killed a human being,”

After this experience, Adasevic “told the hospital he would no longer perform abortions. Never before had a doctor in Communist Yugoslavia refused to do so. They cut his salary in half, fired his daughter from her job, and did not allow his son to enter the university.”

After years of pressure and on the verge of giving up, he had another dream about St. Thomas.

“You are my good friend, keep going,’ the man in black and white told him. Adasevic became involved in the pro-life movement and was able to get Yugoslav television to air the film ‘The Silent Scream,’ by Doctor Bernard Nathanson, two times.”

Adasevic has told his story in magazines and newspapers throughout Eastern Europe. He has returned to the Orthodox faith of his childhood and has studied the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas.

“Influenced by Aristotle, Thomas wrote that human life begins forty days after fertilization,” Adasevic wrote in one article. La Razon commented that Adasevic “suggests that perhaps the saint wanted to make amends for that error.” Today the Serbian doctor continues to fight for the lives of the unborn.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Pray for Robert Novak

Pray for Me
An interview with Robert Novak by Barbara Matusow

Robert Novak is a recent Catholic convert who is suffering with brain cancer.

Q: What's the most helpful thing someone can say to a person who's gravely ill?

A: There's not much you can say. A lot of people say: "You're a tough guy and a fighter. You're gonna beat this." Well, I don't know if I will beat it. Being tough and a fighter have nothing to do with it. I guess the most helpful thing they can say, if they're a man or woman of faith, is to tell me they're praying for me.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Saint in Space

St. Therese Relic Makes Space Flight

Astronaut Colonel Ron Garan, friend of the Carmelites in New Caney, TX, asked the sisters if they would like him to carry a small object into space for them. They gave him a St. Therese relic. Click on title for story.

h/t: pc

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A young man facing terminal illness

Let's all pray for him.

In Caritate Non Ficta
Philip Johnson's blog

On October 15, 2008, after two years as an officer in the Navy, my life changed when I was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. Putting my concerns in the hands of the Blessed Virgin Mary and my trust in Our Lord Jesus Christ, I pray that I may be faithful to the Holy Catholic Faith and serve the Church for the rest of my life.

More background here: What Does the Prayer Mean?

Friday, November 14, 2008

HLI: Choosing Barabbas Over Christ

Election Part I: “We Have No King But Caesar”
Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer
President, Human Life International
The following is the first of a three-part series on the 2008 Elections.
In the next two weeks we will deal with issues of Culture and Conscience.

Now that the election is over, we can separate the real Catholics from those who just act the part. Those still reeling from the results of the election can rest assured that they are in good company with the saints. Those who have drawn a line in blood and made a decision to stand with the culture of death need a serious examination of conscience. Now look at what we’ve done to ourselves. America has made her “choice” for maximum leader and it is not pretty. In fact, it is one of the most devastating blows to American civilization that we have ever undergone, and I do not speak in hyperbole. Even such a saintly figure as Mother Theresa said that “a nation that kills its children has no future;” likewise, an authority like Fr. Benedict Groeschel recently commented that we have entered into “the beginning of the twilight” of our country—dire words that touch on the reality of electing the most extreme, pro-abortion candidate America has ever had the misfortune of occupying the highest office of our land.

This has happened before though. When the prophet Samuel complained to God that the people of Israel were asking for a king, the Lord God replied that they were not rejecting Samuel but were in actual fact rejecting God Himself, His sovereignty and His authority over them (cf. 1 Sam, ch. 8). He also told Samuel that the people would have to accept the consequences of their wicked desire, and as we know, the craven need to be like the surrounding pagan nations was a bitter pill for them to swallow. The people of Israel echoed that rejection of their God more than a thousand years later when the King of Kings and Lord of Lords stood before them in Herod’s derisive purple robe and the people shouted, this time with vehemence: “We have no king but Caesar!” In essence, we have chosen a Barabbas over Christ—again.

And choices have consequences they say. The consequences of this election will be imprinted upon our national conscience for years to come, one of which is that, by electing abortion extremists to rule over us, both in the Presidency and in the Congress, we have now lost the blessing promised in Psalm 41:1-4—“Happy those concerned for the lowly and the poor; when misfortune strikes, the Lord delivers them. The Lord keeps and preserves them, makes them happy in the land, and does not betray them to their enemies. The Lord sustains them on their sickbed.” It is hard for Americans to imagine that a land so consecrated could be shriven of that blessing. Yet, we have made our sickbed and we must lie in it.

This did not happen, though, without dire and prolonged warnings about the institutionalization of evil. We can’t say we were not warned. When moral persuasion about the killing of innocents did not work, rational science was our witness. When science was ignored and then co-opted for the works of death, AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases came to awaken people’s consciences, but these did little better. God then had to allow such an onslaught of terrorism, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, wildfires, earthquakes and tsunamis in the past decade that He surely thought we would wake up to the deadly reality of the culture of death and repent. When that didn’t happen, He hit us in the most sensitive spot on the human body: our wallets. The gas price hikes and the recent financial meltdown surely would do the trick, He thought, but apparently that did not work either because our people adamantly refused to be deterred at any price from our lust for abortion and put into office all those who would serve the interests of this unholy agenda for decades to come. Alas, we all need to get on our knees and repent from the very depths of our hearts for the plague that we have just invited onto our beloved nation.

At the same time, my friends, despite the dismal picture, this is a time to thank Almighty God for the gifts of life, love and family that we have been given. It is also the time to seriously engage in efforts to take the culture back so that eventually our politics will follow the growth of a new pro-life culture from the seeds we are planting today.

Stay tuned for next week’s segment on winning the culture wars.

The need for connection

"It is not right that man should be alone."

Why Loneliness is Bad for You
US News
When all is said and done, the best guarantee of a long and healthy life may be the connections you have with other people. John Cacioppo, a neuroscientist at the University of Chicago and coauthor of a new book, Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection (W. W. Norton, $25.95), talked with U.S. News about the latest research on how relationships affect physical health. Edited excerpts:

Why did you choose to study loneliness?
We want to understand what importance our social connections have to people's biology. Early in human history, our species's survival required the protection of families and tribes. Isolation meant death. The painful feeling known as loneliness is a prompt to reconnect to others.

* * * * *

People who go to church regularly live longer than nonchurchgoers. Why is that?
Churches can be very beneficial—one can feel connected to the group, the church, and to God. Those are actually different things, but both seem to have beneficial effect. God is like a supercharged friend.

Read the rest.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My spiritual home

St. John Cantius in Chicago

Gorgeous photo from a friend's daughter's wedding.
Click here for a few more photos of the church. Don't miss the floors.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A new little blessing

Congratulations to the Foss family on their sweet new baby girl. I don't know Elizabeth personally but am so pleased with this happy ending, and beginning. Deo gratias.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Catholics In Name Only

What's Wrong With Catholic Voters? What's Wrong With Catholics?

Yesterday, according to the exit polls, between 53 and 54% of American Catholic voters cast their ballots for Barack Obama, despite the Democratic candidate's enthusiastic support for unrestricted legal abortion.

Nationwide, Protestant voters supported John McCain, by a solid 54- 45% margin. But the Catholic vote broke for Obama. Why?

Please read the entire article. It's excellent. But I'll cut to the chase here with an important point:
Before answering that question, let me cite one more vitally important piece of polling information: Among Catholic voters who attend Mass weekly, McCain won majority support: 54- 45%. Among those who do not attend weekly Mass, the margin for Obama was an overwhelming 61- 37%. Thus Obama drew his support from inactive Catholics. And unfortunately, most American Catholics are inactive.
So we see that even among active Catholics, the I-never-met-an-abortion-I-didn't-like candidate got 45% of the vote. The CINO vote has dealt a death-blow, in the form of FOCA, to the unborn, the partially born, and the accidentally born-alive.

h/t: MW

Friday, October 31, 2008

Japanese man petitions to marry comic book wife,25642,24576437-5014239,00.html
A JAPANESE man has enlisted hundreds of people in a campaign to allow marriages between humans and cartoon characters, saying he feels more at ease in the "two-dimensional world".

Comic books are immensely popular in Japan, with some fictional characters becoming celebrities or even sex symbols.

Marriage is meanwhile on the decline as many young Japanese find it difficult to find life partners.

Taichi Takashita launched an online petition aiming for one million signatures to present to the government to establish a law on marriages with cartoon characters.

Within a week he has gathered more than 1000 signatures through.

"I am no longer interested in three dimensions. I would even like to become a resident of the two-dimensional world," he wrote.

"However, that seems impossible with present-day technology. Therefore, at the very least, would it be possible to legally authorise marriage with a two-dimensional character?"

Befitting his desire to be two-dimensional, he listed no contact details, making it impossible to reach him for comment to explain if his campaign is serious or tongue-in-cheek.

But some people signing the petition are true believers.

"For a long time I have only been able to fall in love with two-dimensional people and currently I have someone I really love," one person wrote.

"Even if she is fictional, it is still loving someone. I would like to have legal approval for this system at any cost," the person wrote.

Japan's fans of comic books, or "manga," sometimes go to extremes.

Earlier this month, a woman addicted to manga put out an online message seeking to kill her parents for asking her to throw away comic books that filled up three rooms.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happy Free Candy Day

I know we're supposed to celebrate Halloween by dressing up as saints and heading out to our parish All Saints Day party. It's not that we've never done that, but for us, Halloween is about the two c's: costumes and candy. Or maybe just candy.

The true meaning of Halloween for my kids was clearly expressed last month when my son said, "Free Candy Day is three weeks away." Dressing up is fun, but bringing home that gigantic haul of sugar and chocolate is what it's all about, at least for ds3.

He works at it with an entrepreneurial spirit. He covers a lot of ground, and stops off after the initial raid to lighten his load. Then he's out again.

One year he learned, accidentally, that hitting the slightly less-travelled cul-de-sacs toward the end of the trick-or-treat time-window with an empty bag can be very rewarding. The innocent neighbors, on the verge of getting stuck with dozens of Kit Kats and Reeses, see his empty bag as a win-win opportunity, and are all too happy to unload on him. (The neighbor in the cartoon is his worst nightmare.)

Just one little problem this year: Halloween falls on a Friday. For many years we've observed Fridays by giving up sweets. (Abstaining from meat isn't much of a sacrifice for us, but skipping dessert is.) The children haven't yet decided how to handle this. They could take on some other penance, and go ahead and indulge in the sweets. Or they could spend Friday night sorting and raking through the piles as usual, but refrain from eating any. That would be something to offer up.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Just Look

From Cardinal Egan:

Just Look

The picture on this page is an untouched photograph of a being that has been within its mother for 20 weeks. Please do me the favor of looking at it carefully.

Have you any doubt that it is a human being?

If you do not have any such doubt, have you any doubt that it is an innocent human being?

If you have no doubt about this either, have you any doubt that the authorities in a civilized society are duty-bound to protect this innocent human being if anyone were to wish to kill it?

If your answer to this last query is negative, that is, if you have no doubt that the authorities in a civilized society would be duty-bound to protect this innocent human being if someone were to wish to kill it, I would suggest—even insist—that there is not a lot more to be said about the issue of abortion in our society. It is wrong, and it cannot—must not—be tolerated.

Please read on.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Baby birds

When our family was younger, our children were enthusiastic birders. Those bird-lovers are older now, and of the three we're still homeschooling, only one is really enthusiastic about birds (but mom still is!).

This photo of a baby robin was taken by one of our older girls, who has a talent for getting good shots of birds.

It's nice to find other families who are interested in the birds in their back yards. :)

Here's a great post from another Catholic homeschooling blog, with some wonderful photos of baby birds.

Related post about Project FeederWatch

Joe Biden's Profession of Faith, August 2008

From the Weekly Standard blog:

Biden's Caritas

"If I'm the nominee, Republicans will be sorry.... The next Republican that tells me I'm not religious I'm going to shove my rosary beads down their throat.... And we have played into the hands of the Republicans. We've allowed so-called social issues to be so divisive."--Joe Biden, October 22, 2005

If only Dick Cheney had threatened to rip out the fingernails of Democrats who suggest he condones torture. Perhaps the debate about Gitmo wouldn't have become so divisive.

Biden on the disconnect between his faith and his pro-abortion position

Same old same old from the personally opposed libs.

ht: The Best of Times

The other half of the ticket couldn't possibly be more in favor of abortion.

Monday, October 13, 2008

St. Joan of Arc's France

Life is full of little coincidences. Sunday's Post featured a travel article about a father and daughter's trip to France to visit scenes from the life and death of St. Joan of Arc.

One coincidence: My daughter, about the same age as the girl in the article, recently read the life of Joan of Arc by Mark Twain that inspired the trip. And though I haven't read it, I wrote a little blurb about it here.

Another coincidence: an attachment parenting connection. A subtle theme of the article is the relationship between father and daughter, which by the end has been strengthened by their time together, and the absence of all that technology that comes between teens and their parents. This trip is exactly the kind of thing recommended in the book Hold On to Your Kids, which I've written about here. (You might be disappointed if you read the article for the AP stuff, but it is certainly there.)

The article is secular, not religious. But it's interesting, and I for one was amazed to find out that Joan's house still stands, looking like "a half-carved hunk of cheese" (above), as it did almost 600 years ago.

It was also fun the read about the serene, unspoiled countryside and that mouth-watering French bread.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Video and text of Sarah Palin's pro-life manifesto

“In this same spirit, as defenders of the culture of life, John McCain and I believe in the goodness and potential of every innocent life. I believe the truest measure of any society is how it treats those who are least able to defend and speak for themselves. And who is more vulnerable, or more innocent, than a child?

When I learned that my son Trig would have special needs, I had to prepare my heart for the challenges to come. At first I was scared, and Todd and I had to ask for strength and understanding. But I can tell you a few things I’ve learned already.

Yes, every innocent life matters. Everyone belongs in the circle of protection. Every child has something to contribute to the world, if we give them that chance. There are the world’s standards of perfection … and then there are God’s, and these are the final measure. Every child is beautiful before God, and dear to Him for their own sake.

As for our beautiful baby boy, for Todd and me, he is only more precious because he is vulnerable. In some ways, I think we stand to learn more from him than he does from us. When we hold Trig and care for him, we don’t feel scared anymore. We feel blessed.

It’s hard to think of many issues that could possibly be more important than who is protected in law and who isn’t – who is granted life and who is denied it. So when our opponent, Senator Obama, speaks about questions of life, I listen very carefully.

I listened when he defended his unconditional support for unlimited abortions. He said that a woman shouldn’t have to be – quote – “punished with a baby.” He said that right here in Johnstown –“punished with a baby” – and it’s about time we called him on it. The more I hear from Senator Obama, the more I understand why he is so vague and evasive on the subject. Americans need to see his record for what it is. It’s not negative or mean-spirited to talk to about his record. Whatever party you belong to, there are facts you need to know.

Senator Obama has voted against bills to end partial-birth abortion. In the Illinois Senate, a bipartisan majority passed legislation against that practice. Senator Obama opposed that bill. He voted against it in committee, and voted “present” on the Senate floor. In that legislature, “present” is how you vote when you’re against something, but don’t want to be held to account.

Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a Democrat, described partial-birth abortion as “too close to infanticide.” Barack Obama thinks it’s a constitutional right, but he is wrong.

Most troubling, as a state senator, Barack Obama wouldn’t even stand up for the rights of infants born alive during an abortion. These infants – often babies with special needs – are simply left to die.

In 2002, Congress unanimously passed a federal law to require medical care for those babies who survive an abortion. They’re living, breathing babies, but Senator Obama describes them as “pre-viable.” This merciful law was called the Born Alive Infants Protection Act. Illinois had a version of the same law. Obama voted against it.

Asked about this vote, Senator Obama assured a reporter that he’d have voted “yes” on that bill if it had contained language similar to the federal version of the Born Alive Act. There’s just one little problem with that story: the language of both the state and federal bills was identical.

In short, Senator Obama is a politician who has long since left behind even the middle ground on the issue of life. He has sided with those who won’t even protect a child born alive. And this exposes the emptiness of his promises to move beyond the “old politics.”

In both parties, Americans have many concerns to be weighed in the votes they cast on November fourth. In times like these, with wars and a financial crisis, it’s easy to forget even as deep and abiding a concern as the right to life. And it seems our opponent hopes that you will forget. Like so much else in his agenda, he hopes you won’t notice how radical his ideas and record are until it’s too late.

But let there be no misunderstanding about the stakes.

A vote for Barack Obama is a vote for activist courts that will continue to smother the open and democratic debate we need on this issue, at both the state and federal level. A vote for Barack Obama would give the ultimate power over the issue of life to a politician who has never once done anything to protect the unborn. As Senator Obama told Pastor Rick Warren, it’s above his pay grade.

For a candidate who talks so often about “hope,” he offers no hope at all in meeting this great challenge to the conscience of America. There is a growing consensus in our country that we can overcome narrow partisanship on this issue, and bring all the resources of a generous country to the aid of both women in need and the child waiting to be born. We need more of the compassion and idealism that our opponent’s own party, at its best, once stood for. We need the clarity and conviction of leaders like the late Governor Bob Casey.

He represented a humanity that speaks to all of us – no matter what our party, our background, our faith, or our gender. And no matter your position on this sensitive subject, I hope that spirit will guide you on Election Day. I ask you to vote for McCain-Palin on the November fourth, and help us to bring this country together in the rational discussion of compassion and life.”

Gov. Sarah Palin greeted Pennsylvania voters at a Sheetz store in Altoona, cradling her son Trig in a baby carrier.

Related info:
Obama's commitment to FOCA and unrestricted abortion
Blessing or punishment?
Born Alive
Speaking of despicable lies . . .

The Alba Madonna

The Washington Post did a special section on museums, and featured this painting, the Alba Madonna by Raphael. The painting is on permanent display at the National Gallery of Art in DC.

Not many objects can hope to rival the Alba Madonna. By common consent it is one of the greatest paintings ever made. It's almost a calling card for all that art achieved in the High Renaissance in Italy. Everything -- everything-- that Western artists have produced since then looks back to that moment, and its perfections. You can buy into them or fight them, but you can't ignore them.
The Post printed three experts' critiques of this masterpiece. Below are links to each, along with links to "expanded interviews."
View All Items in This Story

Friday, October 10, 2008

More on Mark Warner

For the record:

This tape apparently dates from 1994, and Warner denies making these statements.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Election: Sacrifices for the unborn

From now until November 4th:

The purpose of Sacrifices for Life is to rally Christians to make daily sacrifices to establish a culture of life in America, to help turn the tide against abortion and other anti-life practices that are threatening to destroy the family, and ultimately, society itself.

The upcoming elections are crucial for the pro-life movement in this country. Many of us are praying and working to elect pro-life candidates who will fight to uphold our family values. The Old and New Testaments and the lives of the saints teach us that work and prayer COMBINED WITH SACRIFICE is a powerful means of obtaining God's mercy. We are asking that individuals pledge to generously offer sacrifices from now until the elections on November 4th.


Abstain From:

* sweets and/or unhealthy snack food
* soft drinks/soda or coffee
* eating between meals or eating out
* video games, television, recreational Internet use
* complaining
* anything you can do without
* anger, bitterness, or resentment


* prayer
* fasting
* quality time with family and friends
* walking or biking instead of driving
* patience while driving
* volunteering or charitable works
* generosity, kindness, mercy

When making your sacrifice, you may want to say a small prayer, such as "God please help us to elect pro-life candidates," or "Jesus save the unborn," or "God save America." Especially we implore OUR BLESSED MOTHER, OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE: may she end the killing of children in America today as she ended it in the Americas years ago!!

* I would like to pledge to offer up sacrifices until the elections on November 4th.

Please spread the word about this campaign and encourage others to participate. Now is the time to implore God to save his children and our nation! Print a copy of the flyer for yourself and to distribute to others. Letters are available to assist you in presenting it to churches and organization.

And David built there an altar to the Lord, and offered holocausts and peace offerings: and the Lord became merciful to the land, and the plague was stayed from Israel. (2 Kings 24:25)

Mark Warner is threatened by us . . .

. . . because we are "threatening to what it means to be an American." He includes
  • the Christian Coalition
  • the right to lifers
  • the NRA
  • the home schoolers
Link to the audio (by way of a video) from Home Sweet Heart.

Tag! You're it!

Okay, I'll play. Got this from Robynn. Here's what I found. I can't remember what it is, but it's pretty cool, no? Definitely an action scene.

I'll tag Marilyn.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Obama's commitment to FOCA and unrestricted abortion

Obama isn't just pro-choice. He's a pro-abortion extremist.

Through his support of the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), Obama has made his commitment to unrestricted abortion clear:

"The first thing I'd do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. That's the first thing that I'd do." -- Senator Barack Obama, speaking to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, July 17, 2007

Video of Obama pledging his loyalty to Planned Parenthood (less than a minute long):

For specific information on what FOCA entails, refer to NOW's website, below. In short, it will attempt to do away with any and all limits on abortions, including partial birth abortion, age restrictions, parental consent and notification, and waiting periods.

Q. If passed, how would FOCA affect women's reproductive freedom?

A. Once enacted, FOCA will protect a woman's right to an abortion by federal statute. This means that if our worst fear comes to pass and a newly constituted anti-choice Supreme Court overrules Roe v. Wade, women in the United States will have the protection of federal law in the exercise of their right to choose abortion. In addition, FOCA would immediately restore reproductive freedom for the millions of women who already face interference with their reproductive rights as a result of onerous state and federal restrictions.

FOCA will supersede laws that restrict the right to abortion, including laws that prohibit the public funding of abortion care for poor women or counseling and referrals for abortion services. Additionally, FOCA will prohibit onerous restrictions on this right, such as mandated delays and medically unnecessary regulations. As a result, women will be freed from improper governmental interference with their right to choose a pre-viability abortion. Women who require a post-viability abortion in order to preserve their lives or health will also be protected by FOCA. (Viability, the time at which a fetus is capable of sustained survival outside the womb, is determined medically on a case by case basis and cannot legally be established as occurring at a particular time for all women.) FOCA applies to measures enacted or implemented before, on, or after the date of its enactment.

Q. What would be the impact of FOCA on abortion procedure bans (so-called "partial-birth" abortion bans)?

A. FOCA would supersede the federal ban and any state ban, to the extent those bans restrict pre-viability abortion procedures, or post-viability procedures necessary to preserve a woman's health or life.

Q. Does FOCA prohibit states from limiting access to abortion services for minors?

A. FOCA prohibits states from enacting laws intended to deny or interfere with a woman's fundamental right to choose abortion. Minors have long been included within the protections of Roe. Parental consent or notification statutes have been used as a tool to deny access to abortion services for minors. When such laws deny or interfere with the ability of minors to access abortion services, they would violate FOCA.

More on FOCA from LifeNews:

The measure, if it becomes law, would codify Roe v. Wade by making the infamous Supreme Court decision allowing unlimited abortions the law of the land.

But it would go further, warns Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council.

"If FOCA were to become law it would overturn hundreds of state laws that have put limits on abortion," he explains.

Perkins points to a new research paper written by FRC Vice President of Government Affairs Tom McClusky and he said Planned Parenthood, NARAL and other pro-abortion groups agree with This assessment.

The ACLU has said, "This [FOCA] bill prohibits such restrictions as parental notification and consent, as well as the requirement that all abortions be performed in a hospital, spousal consent, waiting periods, etc."

"Recent polls show that most Americans agree there should be more restrictions on abortion and that tax dollars should not go to the life-ending procedure," Perkins says. 'However, the passage of FOCA would guarantee that more taxpayer dollars pay for abortions."

The McClusky paper points out that, while abortion advocates say they want to make abortions rarer, the state of Maryland, after it passed a law like FOCA, saw its abortion rates shoot upward. [my emphasis]

That happened as the rest of the country experienced a general decline in the number of abortions over the last decade or more.

"Passage of FOCA would be a big payoff to the abortion industry at the deadly cost of citizens' rights," Perkins concludes.