alicia: August 2003 Archives

Lessons in humility

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Blogging has been very good for me in at least one area - It has been teaching me humility.
I am accustomed to being very quick on the uptake. By this, I mean that I seldom have to read things more than once to make sense of them, and I am very good at putting together the pieces of mental puzzles. I collect trivia, and I have actually been on 3 TV game shows, the last of which was Jeopardy (not that I was a big winner or anything, but hey, just getting on is a pretty big accomplishment).
But the intricacies of blogging software and all the little neat features - well, it might as well have been Greek to me. I have had to ask for help at almost every step of the way, and for me this is not easy (ask my husband. He used to get mad at me because I would walk over and get something that was sitting next to him so that I wouldn't have to ask him to hand it to me). And not only have I needed to ask for help once, but over and over again for stuff that I really feel stupid over. This has been, as I said, very good for me. Thank you all for your patience.

syndication, not syncopation

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Thanks to LilacRose I now have an aggregator. I added in everyone on my blogroll with an RSS feed. Now I need to figure out how to use this. What I want is the feature I see on some blogs that puts this neat little ikon next to the blog listing to say that they have updated. Any suggestions?
I love this group of bloggers!

Mark Shea has another fine post. I am getting sick of elections where it will be a matter of holding my nose while I vote for the least objectionable candidate.
BTW - the health center where I work was recently reminded that any positive pregnancy test in a girl below the age of consent is a reportable sex abuse case. I have mixed feelings about this - one the one hand, I don't want creeps to get away with abusing young girls - on the other hand, I want these girls to come in and get prenatal care and have healthy babies! Let me know what you think about this issue, please?
addendum - Gregg the Obscure has a great fisking of the article.


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With Moveable Type, I can automatically send emails to anyone who wants to know when I add an entry. If you are interested in this service, please send me a note with the email to which you would like notifications sent.
I haven't yet figured out how to use all the neat features of MT, but I am slowly working my way through! My next step will be to figure out what it means to 'syndicate' and also what the heck an RSS feed is.

Good reasons to eat fish on Fridays

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Cold water fish, especially, contain essential fatty acids that are important to proper brain chemistry. Ideally we should get them through food sources, but failing that there are some nutritional supplements that may be very helpful.
This article on the association between inadequate consumption of certain essential fatty acids and post-partum depression is very interesting.
These abstracts focus on fish oil in pregnancy and infancy.
I recommend that all women who are at increased risk of post-partum depression either eat low-mercury fish twice a week, or supplement their diet with a fish oil supplement.
Here is a transcript of an interesting radio program about post-partum depression.
Even for ordinary depression, adequate intake of these essential fatty acids may be protective.
Many people seem to be afraid of cooking fish. It is actually one of the easier things to cook, and is very quick as well. However, canned sardines, salmon, and even tuna, all have the protective fish oils mentioned in these articles. The biggest worry many have is the risk of mercury poisining from excessive consumption of some of these fish, and so as in all things, moderation is key.

$315 ain't worth your soul

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Read this from Envoy Encore about how pop music (in genres from rap to rock, folk to metal) has been quietly conveying the emotional aftermath of abortion.

More Passion etc.

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LilacRose is a site I found via Apologia. She also links to some crappy reviews of the Passion. Again I say, why can't they wait for it to be released?

Mel Gibson's Passion

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NPR : Mel Gibson's Catholic Faith
Just click on the headline or the audio icon to listen to the story. You'll need an audio player to hear it, and you can find the right one for your computer here. If you have any problems, please visit the NPR audio help page .
This item was on NPR's show Day to Day on Monday. My husband was so indignant at what he heard that he took the time (rare for him) to send the show a rather scathing email. Before you listen to it, do some deep breathing and relaxation. Then, you can decide how and if you want to respond.
Personally, I get steamed when there is a major attempt to shoot down something based upon prejudgement from incomplete data. As far as I can tell, their "expert Catholic journalist" may very well meet the other definition of expert - "A former drip under pressurt (ex-spurt). But maybe I am sinning against charity here.

Navarre commentary


More on Ephesian's 5 from the Catholic Information Service.

Mark Shea


on Ephesians 5
Especially read the comments box. 51 the last time I looked.

Domestic trivia


Here are some JAM MAKING TIPS for those of you who would like to spend a few hours in the kitchen.
I admit to a feeling of accomplishment. I made 12 jars of peach jam (the 12 oz gift jars - they will probably end up as Christmas gifts) and 4 pints of brandied peaches, and I still have half the box of peaches I bought Friday. I am looking for a good recipe for peach schnappes.
I also cleaned off the stove and took apart the burners after I finished canning for the day. Have I mentioned that I hate being stuck with an electric range? John promises to arrange to run the gas line up from the basement when possible - but it will be a matter of paying a plumber to do the work. Some things it is best to defer to an expert, and gas lines is one of them. So now I need to figure out what to make for dinner..............

More Ephesians 5

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So of course, I go to Mass this morning, and what was the Epistle? None other than Ephesians 5!
We ended up going to Mass other than our usual parish today. My poor husband ended up having to run in to his work twice last night and was exhausted, so we went to a later Mass than usual. There are things I love about the other Parish - a really Spirit-filled pastor, a strong devotion to the Eucharist, including being in the process of developing Perpetual Adoration, singing pretty much all of the Ordinary of the Mass (including the kyrie and the gloria) and real warmth and welcome. Then there are the things that drive me nuts - like asking the congregation to speak up with petitions during the prayer of the faithful (which might not be so bad except that this prayer is meant to be for categories not individuals - ie all the faithful departed, not "Uncle Joe who died last week") and a certain tendency towards being politically correct among the lay leadership of the parish. Today it manifested in the choice (probably made by the lector, not the pastor) to use the 'short' version of the reading - in other words elimination of that troubling command for wives to subordinate their authority to their husbands.
Maybe it didn't matter all that much, as Deacon (transitional) focused the homily on the eucharistic component of the Gospel reading - but all I could think about was what a wonderful opportunity was missed. I mean, starting with Joshua. He, as head of his household, declared boldly "as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”. And then, Ephesians reinforces that there is a right order to creation - the Church obeys Christ, therefore obedience to the Church is obedience to Christ. And in the Gospel, "no one can come (to Christ) unless the Father grants it". There is order in the Universe because God made it that way! If we want to gain the benefits of what has been created for, and given to, us sinful men we have to obey!!!!!
This is why the Church is a hierarchy, not a democracy. I do not consult my children on decisions like should they go to school or how should I, their mother, choose to spend the household budget. I expect from them respect and obedience to the reasonable demands I make of them. The Church need not consult me on decisions of dogma and doctrine - I expect that Christ will set people on the chair of Peter who, however sinful, will be protected from error in matters of faith and morals. The Church has the right to expect from me the same respect and obedience - and She has not abused that authority.
The Apostles tell me that obedience to the Church involves setting aside my human preferences and being subordinate to my husband - OK, this is a 'hard saying' but my husband is being told that he has to be willing to die for my salvation - come on, who has the harder assignment here?
I will freely confess that I just didn't get it on Ephesians 5 for a long time. I wasted way too many years in rebellion. Although much of what drew me into the Church was the assurance of authority, at the same time I found it easier to be a cafeteria Catholic. But you know what? It really is a seamless garment. From Ephesians 5 to Humanae Vitae to Veritatis Splendor, the Church has preached the same good news of salvation through faith and works.

Today's Mass Readings


First reading Joshua 24:1 - 18
Josue gathered together all the tribes of Israel in Sichem, and called for the elders, and the princes and the judges, and the masters: and they stood in the sight of the Lord. And he spoke thus to the people: “Thus says the Lord the God of Israel: ‘Your fathers dwelt of old on the other side of the river, Thare the father of Abraham, and Nachor: and they served strange gods’. But if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, you have your choice: choose this day what pleases you, whom you would rather serve, whether the gods which your fathers served in Mesopotamia, or the gods of the Amorrhites, in whose land you dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”.
The people answered: “God forbid we should leave the Lord, and serve strange gods. The Lord our God brought us and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage: and did very great wonders before us, and preserved us in all the way by which we journeyed, and among all the people through whom we passed. And he has cast out all the nations, and the Amorrhite who were the inhabitants of the land into which we have come. Therefore we will serve the Lord, for he is our God”.
Psalm or canticle: Psalm 33
Second reading Ephesians 5:21 - 32
Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Saviour. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself in splendour, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”. This mystery is a profound one, and I mean in reference to Christ and the church;
Gospel John 6:60 - 69
Many of his disciples, when they heard it, said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at it, said to them, “Do you take offence at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of man ascending where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you that do not believe”. For Jesus knew from the first who those were that did not believe, and who it was that would betray him. And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father”.
After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him. Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God”.

Ephesians 5

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There have been postings recently on a number of blogs about one of the more controversial teachings of Christianity, that of the proper relationship between husband and wife. I have to admit that I have struggled with this one for all of the (nearly 30) years that I have been married. Part of my struggle has to do with some of the pathology in my family of origin - both my parents came from broken families (divorced and remarried - for my dad when he was 5, for my mom when she was 12) and they themselves divorced after 20 years of a very tumultous marriage. Thinking over my aunts and uncles, the only first marriage that did not end in divorce was my uncle who died of cancer after 5 years of marriage and 2 children. So I did not have any kind of an example. I did not see husbands who cherished their wives to the point of any real sacrifice, nor wives who were willing (or able?) to depend upon their husbands, much less be obedient.
I was raised to be independant to the point of pathology, and I think that my parents were puzzled that I married young, before finishing college and 'establishing myself'. They were even more concerned that I immediately had 2 children in 2 years. What they did not see was that, even though I was not able to be trusting and obedient, God worked miracles through the Sacrament of Matrimony, and through the husband that he gave me.
We have had a rocky marriage from time to time, and I don't want anyone to think that it has always been a fairy-tale romance. I think that it truly is a miracle that we are still married and still in love. I have to credit the graces of the Sacraments and the prayers of my parents-in-law for a lot of that.
Obedience is not something that we tend to make a big thing about most of the time. But I find that if I am in rebellion against my husband (something that alas, has happened way too often) I am also in rebellion against God, the Church, and a life that I wail "Just isn't fair!". John is pretty easy-going about most stuff - I have learned that if he asks my obedience I had better listen up. And example is a job that I was in for nearly two years - I had gotten so wrapped up in it that I lost sight of my priorities. He reminded me that God, marriage, and family came first and gave me the strength (by requiring my obedience) to give notice.
I think that obedience is crucial in a sacramental marriage. Some one has to be in charge. Sometimes obedience can involve being the one to make a particular decision, too. Being obedient does not take away my responsibility for my actions and choices. It does not turn my brain to mush, nor cancel my culpability should I sin.
A husband can not require, through obedience, a sinful action. He cannot command an abortion, for example. The concept of obedience does not absolve a mother from the responsibility to protect the children that God has entrusted to her. Separation from an abusive husband may sometimes be necessary, for example, to protect the children from violence or sexual abuse. But I would hope that these would be rare circumstances for those married in the Church and trying to live a Godly life.

she' s back......

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Gospel M*I*N*E*F*I*E*L*D with Kathy the Carmelite is back up and running after a catastrophic power event.


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I have welcomed three babies into this world in the last 24 hours and I am exhausted. I am going to sleep in a few minutes, so I can be awake to pick up my box of veges this afternoon. But right now I am just happy for the three new babies. Two boys, one girl, and all cute as can be!

5. Random new blogs send you email asking to be linked.
4. You can get more that 3 comments on any given post.
3. Your blogtree pedigree lists more child blogs than siblings.
2. You start a conversation that extends across more than 3 blogs.
and (drumroll, please!)
1. Mark Shea links to a post of yours.

New to the parish


Despite Nihil Obstat's snide comments, Times Against Humanity is another relatively new blog that is worth checking out. Click here for a feature that should prove interesting - a kind of weekly world roundup for St. Blog's parish.
Earl, the blogmeister, pointed out to me in an email that he does welcome correspondance - there is a link titled "Share your thoughts" to send him your thoughts and ideas.


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A birth announcement from the Kairos guy.
I hope he had a great beer!

Read this!

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another new blog

|, on the other hand, is a well-written group blog with a nice layout.
Moveable Type, and so on. Drop by and welcome them to the parish, will you?


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new blog!
If I recognize the name, it is some one who has been hanging out in the comments boxes over at Envoy Encore. My big complaint - no
comments, and no email. I am about ready to have a policy - I won't link to a blog without some communication capacity.

More changes

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I've added a couple of icons to the page and moved a few things around. I put the weather pixie back in but she may end up leaving again. Prayers appreciated - I am fighting of an attack of senseless depression and anxiety. More substantive content later. I did see the stage (not broadcast on the radio) version of A Prairie Home Companion yesterday. While it was funny, I noticed things that maybe a few years ago I would have ignored. Moss sisters, I thought of you when I noticed that this was labelled as "The Rhubarb Tour". I actually had a couple of slices of rhubarb pie at the VIP reception I attended between the 2 O'clock and 7:30 o'clock shows. The pie was good but not up to my standards!

On the 8th day....

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I was asked in a comments box about the topic discussed here. My reply was too big for Haloscan, so I am also going to post it here.
Cicumcision has caused controversy since the Acts of the Apostles! For Christians, there is no theological reason to circumcise, as that visible mark of the covenant has been supplanted by Baptism (and that, BTW, is our best argument for infant Baptism). As prophylactic circumcision is a form of bodily mutilation, medical ethics would require that there be a greater good to be gained that outweighs the risks of the procedure. (Obviously, this does not apply to cicumcisions done for medical indications, such as phimosis or paraphimosis, or as part of the repair procedure for hypospadias.) OK, so what are the risks of circumcision, and what are the potential benefits (and these are theoretical when performing this prophylactically)?
Well, the risks are small and very infrequent, especially in the hands of a competent mohel or otherwise well trained cutter. They include bleeding, infection, surgical error, stress to the patient, and, if anesthesia is used, the risks of the anesthesia. In extremely rare cases, circumcision can lead to penile amputation or death from hemorrhage or infection. The pain felt by the infant is real - and the reaction to that pain may interfere with breastfeeding. There was an interesting study that looked at the reaction of children to the pain of injection for immunizations at ~~ 2 months of age - the boys who had been circumcised had what the observers rated as an exaggerated pain response. (The observers did not know who had or had not been circ'ed, and they were also rating girls). I am sorry that I can not remember the exact citation for this study but I will look it up if anyone is interested.
OK, well how about the benefits? A circumcised penis is easier to keep clean, especially in situations where water is rare and soap non-existant (like desert nomads?) Cleanliness is important to prevention of infection. Of course, the same applies to just about any skin-fold area, male or female. Material gathers in skinfolds, and it can get pretty rancid and grow bacteria, fungus, or shelter viruses. Cleanliness in important overall for health.
There have been studies that the partners of circumcised men have lower rates of cervical cancer and sexually transmitted disease, but later studies that factored out sexual behaviours such as multiple partners disproved this thesis. (makes sense, since 99% of cervical cancer is probably due to infection of the cervix with a strain of the human papillomavirus that is sexually transmitted). So marrying (both) virgin and remaining monogamous is actually a better protection against cervical cancer and other STDs than circumcision.
Circumcision does make applying condoms easier.
The only disease against which circumcision seems to be universally effective (prevention, that is) is primary cancer of the penis, a disease so rare that there has not been any study to see if it too may be related to a sexually transmitted virus.
The other advantages of cicumcision are psychosocial (matching one's peers) and psychosexual (meeting the expectations of one's parter(s) in bed). In a culture of modesty and monogamy, I don't think these would be real issues, but in our current culture I just don't know how much weight to put on them.
Having said that, I will say that our 2 sons were both circumcised, despite the fact that we paid cash for the procedure. At the time of their births, the weight of the medical evidence seemed to be in favor of circumcision. After their births, we had 3 more girls, so the issue did not arise. I honestly do not know what we would decide if faced with the decision today.
My advice to women who ask me is to carefully and prayerfully weigh the evidence (along with your husband), and submit to your husband's authority in this area. I do, however, recommend that those who choose cicumcision have it done no earlier than the 8th day of life, and that the cut be done by an expert (mohels are my first choice, if you can find one). Sugar and wine are traditionally given to the baby ahead of time, and help with the pain, and nursing immediately afterwards is a great comfort to the baby.

Please Pray

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Please add these to your prayers and mass intentions. From Richard Chonak at Catholic Light via Chris at Maine Catholic.
It's a hard day for mothers out there
I have had the sad task on a few occasions to tell a mom, "I'm so sorry, but it looks like your baby has died." I always will bring in another provider - another midwife or doctor - and we will get an ultrasound too - to confirm. It is one of the hardest things I have to do in my profession.

Blog tweaking

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I've moved some non-blog links off the blogroll to the other side, to try to balance things up a bit. I've also added back in the psalm verse of the day. I am debating the weather pixie - what do you think?

Destination: Order on music. Well


Destination: Order on music. Well worth reading, and while you are there, scroll down to her commentary on her upbringing.

A Pastoral Letter

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Marriage: A Communion Of Life And Love
from The Curt Jester's bishop. See here for his comment on the letter.
I was talking with one of my (married) pregnant patients recently about her family planning. Unlike the majority of my clientele, this was a planned pregnancy - and she had been successfully using calendar rhythm. She told me how after her first baby her doctors had persuaded her to get an IUD and how aghast she was to learn how it actually worked. As soon as she discovered that she had it removed and switched to the only natural method she knew - calendar rhythm. But she was worried about the immediate post-partum period, and how breastfeeding would affect her cycles. I referred her to Sheila Kippley's Breastfeeding and Natural Child-Spacing and also to classes in NFP at the other (Catholic) hospital in the town where I work. This patient, BTW, listed her religion as Protestant on our demographics form.
Poorly catechized Catholics are not just a problem in the USA. I see many women who come from Spanish or Portugese speaking countries, who list their religion as Catholic, who see nothing wrong with sexual activity outside of marriage nor with contraception (married or not). In the limited time I can spend with them, I try to do what I can to encourage chastity for both the married and the unmarried, but when I suggest that abstinence is healthier than birth control for the unmarried, I get looks that suggest I have grown two heads, 4 horns, and scales.

Assumption (addendum)

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Mark Shea's post on the Assumption
points out something that I hadn't realized - that the Assumption was not dogmatized until 1950. So I guess that in 1948, when my in-laws were wed, it wasn't on a Holy Day of Obligation.


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Many converts seem to have trouble with the Church's Marian doctrines. I personally never did, and I am not sure why. It always made sense to me that the Mother of God (the new Ark of the Covenant) would have to be special and unique. Perpetual virginity? No problem - I remember as a child asking a parent what the term 'virgin' meant, (I think I read 'virgin wool' off a clothing label) and being told it meant untouched or pure. Well, of course the Mother of the Messiah would have to be untouched and pure. Recycled is good enough for everyday, but new is for special - and how much more special than to incubate the body of the Saviour? And to remain pure? But of course! What a miracle to add onto the miracle of the Incarnation.
And thinking back, the Immaculate Conception only made sense, as well. I do get rather upset at people (so-called comedians in particular) who confuse the Immaculate Conception of Mary with the Virgin Birth of Jesus.
The Assumption of Mary into Heaven is another dogma that gives some non-Catholic Christians pause. When explaining this one, I go back to the Old Testament, where the prophet who walked with God was bodily taken up to heaven. As a child, that story enchanted and fascinated me, and I longed to be holy enough to bypass earthly death in that fashion.
Yesterday was the Feast of the Assumption, and it would also have been the 55th anniversary of my parents-in-law's marriage. Because it was a mixed marriage, it was celebrated in the rectory, not the church. My mother-in-law must have truly loved her husband, to enter into a mixed marriage in those days. Later, my father-in-law entered the Church, much to the delight of his wife. My husband remembers that one day, instead of sitting in the pew during Communion, he walked up the aisle with them and knelt to receive - this was how he announced his conversion to his children. My parents-in-law were very holy in that ordinary everyday way that is so important, and so very difficult.
I don't know why they were married on a major feast day - but I am glad that they were - because every year on August 15, I remember their lives and thank God for the gift He and they gave me of a loving and faithful husband.

More Blog Tweaking

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You will notive that Catholic Light is at, as is the new Fructus Ventris. This is not accidental. I have received an enormous amount of help from Richard Chonak (of CL) in setting up and tweaking my blog, and I want once again to say a big public THANK YOU. I also want to thank my readers for putting up with some less than readable colours and typeface while I have been taking this crash course in HTML, CSS, and hex colour codes!

Saint of the Day

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From Universalis, a site I recommend.
St Maximilian Kolbe (1894 - 1941)

He was born on 8 January 1894 in occupied Poland: he joined the Franciscans in Lwów in 1910, and was ordained eight years later, as his country became free and independent for the first time in over 120 years.
He believed that the world was passing through a time of intense spiritual crisis, and that Christians must fight for the world’s salvation with all the means of modern communication. He founded a newspaper, and a sodality called the Knights of Mary Immaculate, which spread widely both in Poland and abroad.
In 1927 he founded a community, a “city of Mary”, at Teresin: centred round the Franciscan friary, it attracted many lay people, and became self-supporting, publishing many periodicals and running its own radio station.

A letter of St Maximilan Kolbe

I rejoice greatly, dear brother, at the outstanding zeal that drives you to promote the glory of God. It is sad to see how in our times the disease called “indifferentism” is spreading in all its forms, not just among those in the world but also among the members of religious orders. But indeed, since God is worthy of infinite glory, it is our first and most pressing duty to give him such glory as we, in our weakness, can manage – even that we would never, poor exiled creatures that we are, be able to render him such glory as he truly deserves.

CSA and garden report

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This week the basket included 8 ears of fresh sweet corn. Also an assortment of peppers, baby bok choy, mesclun, tomatoes, green beans, sweet onions, new potatoes, crookneck squash, an eggplant and a sourdough boule. Earlier this week I made a batch of ratatouille with eggplant and zucchini from my garden. I have tons of green tomatoes on my plants, and even two baby white eggplant!.
I have all this wonderful food and I am running out of ideas to cook it! Actually, I have lots of ideas but I don't always have the energy when I get home.
I noticed something interesting today when picking up the vegetables. The distribution is done at the Unitarian church down the street from the local hospital. Across the street is a Carmelite Monastery. I will admit, my curiousity was piqued. What is the etiquette for visiting a monastery like this? Does one call ahead? Just show up? The nuns and monks I have known in the past were not cloistered. KTC - any suggestions?

GIRM - latest version

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I found it! General Instructions on the Roman Missal
via Recovering Choir Director (who has been restored to the blogroll, some how I lost him!)

Midwife Crisis

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$QUEEZED OUT: The Elizabeth Seton Childbearing Center, a midwife facility popular with celebrities like Ricki Lake, is being forced to close because of skyrocketing malpractice costs.

Jeff Miller was kind enough to send me a link to this sad news story.
I do have one issue with the wording of this (and similar stories). The cost that is skyrocketing is not that of actual malpractice, it is for insurance to protect against claims of malpractice.
In the mid-1980s, there was a similar crisis with malpractice insurance costs. The one company then providing malpractice insurance to privately insured CNMs (certified nurse-midwives) decided, for reasons that were never explained, to simply non-renew all policies held by midwives. This resulted in the loss of hospital privileges for several dozens of CNMs across the country and the closure of several thriving private nurse-midwifery practices. Practices in public hospitals serving mostly the uninsured and the poor were not affected, as their coverage was generally through a large pool.
A more cynical soul than I might have thought that this was one salvo in an economic war - as long as midwives restrict their practice to the poor and uninsured they could be tolerated or even encouraged (as long as they leave enough poor women to be available for resident training purposes). However, we all know that there isn't really economic competition to care for childbearing women - it is all about providing the highest quality of service at the lowest cost. The insurance companies just don't understand that CNMs (and other midwifes) cost less, have comparable or better outcomes than other OB care providers, and are less likely to be sued. They only see that they are liable for potential suit for 18 years plus the statute of limitations, and lump them in with OB doctors who also do surgeries, and with family practice docs who also deliver babies.
A premium that a doc can roll into their overhead and absorb (albeit with a lot of pain) can kill a midwifery practice.
Something needs to be done. I just don't know what.

A miracle birth

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Boy survives after growing in abdomen
Healthy baby delivered at sacré coeur. Fewer than one in a million of such cases carried successfully to term, doctors say (more)

A friend of my sisters was one of these miracle babies. Technically, the surgery should not be called a cesarean, as the uterus is not entered. The surgery is a laparotomy. But whatever one calls it, it truly is a miracle.

Should some hymns be laid

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Should some hymns be laid to rest?
Link courtesy of The Curt Jester.
I love the music and concept of "I am the bread of life" and only wish that it was not written in vox dei. I propose that we start a new movement to make some of these hymns theologically correct - by rewriting the lyrics.
A brief example:
Jesus the bread of life
Those who come to him will not perish
If you believe, you shall not die.

And He was raised up on the third day.

Well, I am not a hymn writer, unlike one of my distant ancestors. But I think that, if the inclusive language police can Bowdlerize some of my favorite traditional hymns, I should be able to edit their contemporary works, no?

Sexual (im)Morality

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Dale Price fisks
the National Catholic Reporter.
Political correctness:
Is biology destiny? yes if you have overwhelming same sex attraction, no if you are female and want to out-man the men.
"this is my body and I'll do what I want with it" - again the catch phrase for the above two lobby groups. What did Jesus say?
"This is my body, given up for you"

Men and Women

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Apologia: Together Again

GO read it. Now. I insist. Nothing I could say would do justice.

The Obesity Epidemic

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Over at Two Sleepy Mommies is a great rant on a recent WaPo article about the fattening of America. I started to put this in the comments box but enetation was doing its thing again, so here it is.

There is a BIG contributory to female obesity (sorry guys, I don't take care of men over the age of 2 months!) that is not getting any press at all, because it would be politically incorrect. That contibuting factor is hormonally based contraceptive medications, especially the depo-Provera shot. I have seen teenagers on depo gain as much as 40 pounds in a year despite getting exercise. But even low-dose birth control pills are usually good for 5 pounds a year wt gain.
Cattlemen used to give their stock estrogen to make them fatten up. That practice was eventually stopped, but people in the First World (not just America has an obesity epidemic, BTW) are doing it to themselves. There are measurable levels of synthetic female hormones in our drinking water from all the hormones excreted by BCP users. That is also not a politically correct thing to point out. I have this perennial discussion with all our Ob residents (part of my job is teaching them normal pregnancy and uncomplicated birth). They talk about the 'health advantages' of birth control pills (decreased menstrual bleeding, less anemia, decreased risk of ovarian cancer) and I point out that those same benefits can be found through early childbearing and ecological breastfeeding, followed by naturally spaced pregnancies. And women would not be experimenting on themselves with powerful synthetic versions of natural hormones.
On a personal level, I could stand to lose 100 pounds, but I was a skinny child and didn't get fat until I hit 40. Now I joke that all the weight I lost after each baby has finally found me again. I have decided that I am not going to try to lose weight, I am just going to eat well without obsessing about it, and I will get the exercise I enjoy when I can, and I will just try to be as healthy a fat lady as I can be. My cholesterol and triglycerides are low, my blood pressure is low, and I don't see the point of obsessing on these things. I would love to be skinny again, but my husband thinks I am beautiful and is just worried about my health with the weight. Well, so am I but I can only do so much. I have heard about a Catholic program that tries to help one get into a proper relationship with food and eating. If anyone here has any experience with it, I would love to hear about it. I can't remember the name right now, but the founder was on EWTN's Life on the Rock last week.

Bloggers together


et cetera has (Drum roll, please)

A picture of Fr. Sibley, Richard Choank, and Victor Lams together.

The Anglican debacle


Mark Shea
I hate to say "I told you so" but this is more or less the point of my book By What Authority? The choice has never been between Scripture and Tradition. It is not the case the Catholics make use of Sacred Tradition and Evangelicals don't. Rather, Catholics make use of Sacred Tradition in interpreting Scripture and *know* they do, and Evangelicals make use of Sacred Tradition in interpreting Scripture and *don't* know they do. more
I have thought, from the beginning of this issue, that the most compelling issues here is authority. The Church is not, and has never been, a democracy. God set the Church up as a family, with hierarchical and paternal structure, to save us (among other things) from the tyranny of the majority. I wish I had a dollar for every time I told my children "Just because you outnumber me and you all agree on something, that does not make it right or true."


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I want to thank Richard Chonak at Catholic Light for hosting my blog and getting me started in Moveable Type, Jeff Miller (The Curt Jester) for helping me to move and answering some of my more ignorant questions, and Bill Luse for encouraging me to move and for sending me a link to an on-line guide to MT that was clearly written enough for me to figure out a few things quickly. I still need to figure out how to move stuff into the other column, and I am not yet happy with my colors, but I will wait a few more before I play some more.


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I have found a way to put 3 columns on the page and keep all the content where it can be read without having to scroll. Now I need to figure out what colors will work best for me and my readers, how to move some of the sidebar stuff to the empty column, and I also need to find some graphics - of the Visitation and Nuestra Senora de Buen Parto y La Leche.
Eventually I will sort my blogroll a bit, also, and lest I forget - some substantive content, too!
BTW, the baby I blogged on a while ago - the one whose mom birthed prematurely due at least partially to fever and dehydration - was born stressed and ill but is making a fast recovery. Deo Gracias.


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Maureen over at A Religion of Sanity has an excellent series of essays on morality. The most recent addition, posted Friday August 8,2003, is especially worth reading.

Amazing Grace for those who Suffer

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Posting may be sparse the next few days, while I figure out how to move the blog. Or I may post a bunch of random stuff tomorrow from on-call. In the meanwhile, this prayer from St. Frances de Sales.
The everlasting God has, in his wisdom, foreseen from eternity the cross that He now presents to you as a gift from his inmost heart.
This cross He now sends you He has considered with His all-knowing eyes, understood with His loving arms, tested with His wise justice, warmed with His loving arms, and weighed with His own hands, to see that it be not one inch too large and not one ounce too heavy for you.
He has blessed it with His holy name, anointed it with His grace, perfumed it with His consolation, taken one last glance at you and your courage, and then sent it to you from Heaven, a special greeting from God to you, an alms of the all-merciful love of God.
I found this prayer in the book Amazing Grace for those who Suffer by Jeff Cavins and Matthew Pinto.

Prayer Request


prayer request from bill white (summa minutiae)

Gun Quiz


Thank you very much, Kathy the Carmelite for the link to this quiz.
My son has a Glock that he loves. I used to be pretty good with a .22 rifle as a kid, but haven't shot a gun in decades. Maybe it is time?
(image deleted)
Smith & Wessen .44 Magnum. You are old school. Fat Sheriff Deputies fancy you. Reliable but not too practical.

What handgun are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Dead Ballet Choreographer Quiz


You are Frederick Ashton! As the greatest English
choreographer, your restrained classical style
is always appropriate. Unfortunately, the
Royal Ballet has ignored you for too long and
can no longer dance your style.

Which Dead Ballet Choreographer Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Dinka's Birth


dinka's birth story is posted.

On the ECUSA Vote


Many bloggers have posted or commented on the ECUSA vote on the (Epsicopal) bishop of New Hampshire. Sparki (fonticules fides) has an interesting set of comments, but for issues involving same sex attraction (SSA) I defer to Sed Contra. David Morrison has some excellent commentary posted recently, and I can say is that I second his thoughts.
It is really interesting to me that the feminist movement spent decades proclaiming "Biology is not destiny", and yet the homosexual libertine movement has spent the same decades proclaiming basically that 1) homosexual attraction and acting out is hard-wired into the brains and bodies of some men and women and 2) in this case, biology is destiny.
Kind of reminds me of Pilate's famous line, "What is truth?".
We have an assurance that Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. No matter how many votes would deny that truth, it still remains true.

Upcomming blog move


I will be moving the blog soon, I think. Stay tuned. I will be able to migrate everything except the comments. However, I first need to get some sleep. I was up most of last night with 2 ill pregnant moms. One, at 28 weeks, we were able to get under control and I sent her home on antibiotics around 0300. The other, her illness threw her into labor that we could not stop, and her baby will be born about 5 weeks early (if she has not been born already). I try not to call in to find out things like that - I know that the doctors in whose care I left her are loving and competent, and I will see her tomorrow morning.
I had to leave the hospital at 0800 this morning to come home and take my daughter to see the nurse practitioner about her badly swollen ankle. Probably a bad strain - she has an aircast and a set of exercises to start in a few days. They will call if the x-ray shows a stress fracture (a remote possibility).
Now to sleep for a couple of hours until it is time to go pick up the week's vegetables from the CSA - I hope there is sweet corn this week! Maybe I will make a batch of green corn tamales............

U.S. Births


The preliminary data presented in this report are based on records of births occurring in 2002 that were received and that underwent quality control by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health
Statistics as of March 7, 2003. These records represent nearly 98% of the births that occurred in the United States in 2002. The records were weighted to independent control counts of all births received in state vital statistics offices in 2002, and comparisons were made with final data from previous years.

The report presents the following trends in birth numbers and rates:

* The fertility rate for women ages 15-44 years dropped by 1% in 2002, a 9% decline since 1990.
* The birth rate for adolescents ages 15-19 dropped by 5% in 2002, a 28% decline since 1990.
* The birth rate for women ages 20-24 dropped by 3% in 2002 compared with 2001, whereas the birth rates for women ages 35-39 and 40-44 rose by 2%.
* The number of births to unmarried women ages 15-44 rose by 1% in 2002; however, births to unmarried adolescents ages 15-19 dropped by 4%.
* Prenatal care utilization continued to slowly but steadily improve; 83.8% of women began prenatal care in the first trimester of pregnancy in 2002, compared with 83.4% in 2001.
* More than one-fourth of all births in 2002 were cesarean deliveries, the highest rate ever reported in the United States. The primary cesarean rate jumped 7% from the previous year to 18%, also the highest level ever reported for the country. The rate of vaginal births after previous cesarean delivery plummeted by 23% between 2001-2002 to 12.7%.
* Preterm and low-birthweight rates (7.8%) rose slightly in 2002. The low-birthweight rate is the highest reported in more than three decades.

See the report for a list of references and detailed tables, as well as technical notes.

National Center for Health Statistics. 2003. Births: Preliminary data for 2002. National Vital Statistics Report 51(11). Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Oral Contraceptive


An interesting article on post-fertilization effects of oral contraceptives. It is pretty technical, but the bottom line is pretty clear - breakthrough ovulation is fairly common with commonly used oral contraceptive medications.

New Blog


My Big Fat Roman Catholic Testimony is a blog I just discovered. Looks new, no email addy or comments up, but I will keep an eye on it.

Baby Blues


Baby Blues on 'new improved' infant formula.

More on bread


In my last post, I intended to get practical but instead waxed philosophical. Let me recommend a book that has much good information on bread-making. The Ultimate Bread and Baking Book by Linda Collister and Anthony Blake is an excellent source of not just recipes but techniques for making all sorts of breads. It has good pictures, too. My one quibble is that is was written from a British POV, and although the measurements have been adapted to the American system, it still has that Brit feel to it. However, it is very close to the book on bread that I always wanted to write (except that mine would have had fewer recipes and a lot more history and philosophy).



The liturgical readings lately have been fairly Eucharistic, what with the miracle of the feeding of the 5000, manna in the wilderness, and so on. I do not think it is too much of a stretch of the imagination to say that the ability to make bread of some kind was a major gift from God, and made it possible for humans to have some assurance of food from day to day. Grains and legumes keep well, and can be stored up against times of drought or failures of hunting, herding, and harvesting. I have found it interesting over the last 6 months to see how topics of conversation (memes, if you will) pop uo around St. Blog's seemingly in response to the readings. This was brought to my mind earlier today by the conversations going on about baking of pizza - which is after all, a flat bread with added goods to make it a meal.
Various grains are mentioned in the Bible. Barley was probably the commonest grain and was the source of the daily bread for most, as it grows easily and is very productive. Barley that was soaked and fermented became beer, and was probably the source of the leaven for the early forms of leavened bread. Yeast from the atmosphere fell into the container, and the sour and bubbly liquid was found to have interesting effects, much like that of wine. And the solids left behind after the liquid was strained out could be reliably counted on to have the same effect on another batch of soaked barley. Barley was commonly ground and bound into a dough with water and oil, then baked as a griddle type of cake (think tortilla). Somewhere along the line, some kitchen genius decided to use some of the beer barley in the barley cake mixture, and found that it made a cake that was more tender if more perishable.
There is one big problem with using barley alone as the base for a yeast bread. The barley doesn't really form a strong structure that traps the gases given off by the yeast, and so the cakes are still pretty flat and crunchy. Enter the grain spelt (and later wheat and rye). Spelt, wheat, and rye all contain pretty high concentrations of a protein named gluten. Gluten, when activated by moisture and mechanical activity (kneading) forms strong and elastic webs that act as a framework. If you want to see gluten, mix 1/2 cup (white) wheat flour with just enough water to form a dough. Punch and pound the dough until it is smooth. THen take the dough and plunge it into a basin of clean cool water, continuing to squeeze the dough in your hands. The water will get really gummy as the starch rinses out of your ball of dough, and you will be left holding a handful of stringy gray strands of gluten. Gluten has been used as the base for some vegetarian products like seitan and Loma Linda foods products. It is also possible to buy gluten flour - where the wheat has been refined and the starch and protein separated out.
Anyhow, yeast leavened bread has been around for millenia, and until the last few centuries, the art of getting from the disparate raw ingredients to the finished loaf was passed down as part of the cook and baker's tradition. The grains had to be ground and kept fresh, there needed to be a sufficiency of gluten in the mixture to support the weight of the other ingredients, and the yeast had to be enticed into working its miracles. Traditionally, a wild yeast would be found and fermented, and a bit of the uncooked dough (the fermentum) would be kept from one baking to another to facilitate things. The Feast of the Unleavened Bread therefore represented an amazing act of faith in God - since it required that all yeast and even anything that could be fermented, down to the last crumb, be removed from the household for an entire week. Even raw flour was not permitted - only flour that had already been baked to the point where it would not spontaneously ferment. So every year, the household had to trust that God would send them leaven again. This is why being called to be leaven is so important a command to us as Christians.
OK, so in order to get our daily yeast-leavened bread, we need the right flour/grains, we need the leaven, and we also need time to wait on the process, an oven of some kind, and the ability to work the dough with the hands to form the gluten. Yeast is a living organism - it needs to be fed and it needs to be kept at the right temperature, and in the end it sacrifices its life so that we might eat bread. And we need to work the dough and form the gluten, but then we also need to rest the dough so that it can be shaped, and then we need to let it rest some more so that the yeast can do its work.
Unless you have actually made bread, it is easy to lose sight of what a miracle and gift from God it truly is!

Blogroll Blues


I have tried a few things to shrink the blogroll (by making the font smaller, not dropping anyone) but I can't seem to get the hang of it - I almost succeeded but it ended up also shrinking stuff on the main page. I guess I really should break down and get HTML for Dummies or some such book (maybe the O'Reilly equivalent?). The problem is that they are all focused on things like business or personal static (reasonably) web pages, not on the dynamics of the blog. The few blogging books I have seen are all focused on content - I think I have that down reasonably well, thank you very much!
I may not be a true computer techie geek/nerd, but I am reasonably competent and it makes me crazy that I can't seem to get the logic of stuff like this.
On a more interesting note, there is a cross-blog conversation about food, body image, cooking, pizza, and holiness. Check out Kathy the Carmelite's blog, Two Sleepy Mommies, Chirp (Davey's Mommy) and who knows where all else it will go! If I have a few moments after dinner, I will post a little bit about the physics and chemistry of yeast dough - things that girls used to learn baking bread with mom but that have been all but lost to the last 2 generations.

New Blog


I have added Catholic School Blogger to the ever growing blogroll. It is hosted by J.P. Laurier, who I first met in the comments boxes at Kathy the Carmelite's Gospel Minefield

Novena to John Henry Cardinal Newman


Novena to John Henry Cardinal Newman
Start today and finish in time for the anniversary of when he went to his eternal reward.
Thanks to Quenta Narwenonian for the link and the reminder.

Random quotes found on a notepad of mine.


Let me know if any of these make sense or trigger thoughts that should be followed.
Is God your anchor or your albatross?
The decade (1980s) arrived on the heels of a tremor.
fragile as a new england spring
the tinkling of aspen leaves in Colorado
following Jesus is not easy, but simple
If we obsess over the evil and the ugly, we become dizzy enough for the Devil to ensnare us.
Do you want to worship God in the way that HE wants to be worshipped - or in the way that makes you comfortable?
What is the gift that God has given me to share?
God is never late.
Don't go back to Egypt.

Help guys:


I am trying to figure out how to change the font on my blogroll. Any suggestions?

The more things change


The more they stay the same. From Summa Minutiae

February 2013

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The WeatherPixie

About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries written by alicia in August 2003.

alicia: July 2003 is the previous archive.

alicia: September 2003 is the next archive.

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