I think of television every time I have read these lines:
No man who practices deceit
shall live within my house.
No man who utters lies
shall stand before my eyes. -[Psalm 101 ]
So we are having my brother, his bride, and new baby (my Godson) down for a few days-so of course we are frantically cleaning (because you know, one only cleans when company is coming). I am always insistent that we don't start "projects" the week before visitors. But sometimes they just happen....
Yesterday I drew the upstairs shower (to clean). Without getting to graphic, apparently I cleaned to well, because by the time I was done, all the caulking was gone. Further, I discovered that the shower door wasn't closing all the way at the bottom-thus water has been leaving the shower at an alarming rate. Taking up the mat outside the shower, I notice that the tile is buckled. So I take up a few tiles and find WET underneath.
I should never even enter a bathroom: either plumbing or floor repair is bound to happen.
Fortunately the door was easy to fix. The caulking is redone. I have fan going on to accelerate the subfloor drying. AND I found some extra tiles of the same design in the garage. So everything should be put back together before brother arrives.
Really don't have much of an update on the garden-really just wanted an excuse to link to this poem. But since I am here...
The garden is not living up to expectations so far this year. Last year at this time we had lost of zuccinni-this year the plants are flowering, but no fruit is to be seen. Everything seems slow. We have tomatoes-but none ready yet. We've had a handful of carrots (we only planted a handful). The cabbage looks good (but we only have a few heads). Cantalope, butternut squash, onions all are coming only slowly. Now we have (defying all logic) some pretty good pumpkins growing.
I talked to a local small scale farmer who runs a roadside stand the other day. They lost almost everything between last frosts and a hail storm in May. We may be experiencing the same. We will keep planting....
Last month's Crisis Magazine had a great article on friendship by Dr. Alice VonHildebrand (now available online here). One major section is about giving and receiving and gratitude between friends. Here's a piece:
One of the great dangers in friendship is to exchange roles, as it were. The giver should downplay his sacrifice: “I was happy to do so.” And the receiver should carefully refrain from minimizing or demeaning the gift received. From this point of view, the desirable response of the giver should be the very opposite response of the beneficiary. Too often, people reverse these roles. Some givers like to magnify their efforts or their gifts, and the receiver can be tempted to play them down. This is unfortunate, because a generous friend will give with such kindness (and even joy) that it is tempting for the other to say, “But he was just happy to do it.”
...Yet we should still wish that the other shows some gratitude, because gratitude makes the soul beautiful. This precious little word is one of the three golden keys of friendship and marriage. In our world today the sweet music of “Thank you” is seldom heard. Years ago, it was so ingrained in the education of children that, as soon as they received a gift, they knew that they had to thank. Today the words are out of fashion. Consumerism has ruined this cord in the human soul; the more we get, the more we want, and the less we appreciate what we receive. ...
Expressions of gratitude and affection cannot be said or heard too often. Think of the sacred repetitions at Holy Mass. There are many of them (even though some have been eliminated since Vatican II), and they are so deeply meaningful. Domine non sum dignus used to be repeated three times. Can it be repeated too often?
I have some great friends-more than can deserved by any one man. Yet in reading the entire article (do so yourself-at first it seems just all common sense, but it does call you to examine your own attitudes and friendships) I found myself lacking in some areas...
Here's a bit of interesting and exciting news: the best of Caelum et Terra as a book? Read about it here.
Benedict XVI has called for an authentic updating of sacred music that takes into account the tradition of the Church ..... "An authentic updating of sacred music cannot occur except in line with the great tradition of the past, of Gregorian Chant, and of sacred polyphony," the Pontiff added.
I give a less than stellar review of a book by my absolute favorite author and historian-only because I promised one (otherwise I would have kept silent) and don't you know it, out of 500 or so odd posts I written at BethuneCatholic, it is that very post which the NC(Register) features in their Daily Blog Watch. I wish I could take it back-not because it is not true, but because ...
Let's put it this way: Warren Carroll's books are often akin to spiritual reading for me. I get more inspiration out of his accounts of the sacrifices and faithfulness of our Catholic forebears than I do out of reading let's say The Imitation of Chirst, or The Cloud of Unknowing, etc.
Update: I forgot to mention another point on this. As I watched this movie again, I suddenly realized that I was no longer identifying with the boys-but with the father. This is another reason for my new perspective.
In my previous post I mentioned that we watched the Disney version of the Swiss Family Robinson last night. Never thought much of it one way or the other until we saw it last night. (Although I think it was the first movie I ever saw at the theater.)
However, in watching it last night, some of the conversations between Mr. & Mrs. Robinson took on new meaning for Mrs. Curley and I. While we haven't been shipwrecked, our experiences the past two years between trying to live a country life and trying to start a business have had some hardships, surprises, but ultimately much joy. The eternal optismism of Mr. Robinson, coupled with his cautious revealing of their true predicament, as well as a couple other attributes was dead-ringer for me of late. A few of Mrs. Robinson's worries, comments, and realism reminded us both of Mrs. Curley of late. And their final decision to stay on the island-is also how we feel about Bethany, our parish St. Catherine's, and our endeavor. (Who knew?)
Saturday morning we all got up and out to weed the garden (over due-it was getting a little out of hand) early. We worked for two hours and then ate our breakfast. In this way we hoped to beat the heat. We got alot done around the old homestead-but didn't finish. We will follow the same model this week-getting out early for an hour or so-til we are caught up.
Everyone worked very hard Saturday. Sunday we had a little delayed celebration for the Feast of the Sacred Heart. We did our enthronement on Friday, but ran out of time for the celebration. So Sunday afternoon we got everyone together and performed rehearsed acts for each other. The boys and I sang "Cockles and Mussells" (or is it called "Sweet Molly Malone? I don't know.) Two daughters did an Abbott & Costello skit. Three sons played "When the Saints Go Marching In" together on trumpet, clarinet, and baritone. Mrs. Curley & daughter did a comedy skit. ETC. Then we made and ate homemade pizza in the living room while watching the Disney version of "Swiss Family Robinson". (More on the movie later.) It was a great time.
From Bethany, the small holding in Bethune...Oremus pro invicem!
Finished Warren Carroll's "Revolution Against Christendom" (Volume V in the History of Christendom serires) this morning. It is the shortest so far in the series. It covers Louis XIV of France ('the Sun King') through Napolean's fall at Waterloo. And, except for some brief interludes about America and England, rarely leaves France. The lion's share of the book is split between the French Revolution and Napoleon.
My overall take.... First: If you want to read about the French Revolution, I can't recommend more highly Warren Carroll's "The Guillotine and the Cross". His treatment of the French Revolution in this current volume is mostly taken-in abridged form-from the "The Guillotine..."
Secondly, his treatment of Napoleon is somewhat confusing. Many times he gets ahead of himself with references to what is going to happen, but doesn't always explain what is happening now (in the narrative). For example, it was unclear to me when and how Napolean came to power. This volume (more than the others) seems to be more of a military history of the period covered than a general history.
I am glad I read the book and own it, but it is clearly inferior to the other volumes in the work. Of course, it is a miracle that it was published at all as Dr. Carroll has suffered with poor health the last few years.
One more volume remains-and I look forward to it.
I am a great fan of Warren Carroll. It pains me a great deal to give anything but a stellar review, but it is what it is. He still remains my favorite historian and author.
I have not read a better book on the Sacred Heart than this one. (Of course this picture is from an old (first- I believe) edition-at that time put out by Trinity Communications. Today you can get it from Ignatius.) It outlines the history of the devotion to the Sacred Heart; the scriptural references, both Old and New Testament; Eucharistic miracles; the whole shebang. I can't recommend it enough, both for intellectual edification and spiritual reading. Of course Dr. O'Donnell is now the president of Christendom College.
By the way a number of bloggers have used the image on the larger book on their blog today for the Feast of the Sacred Heart. It is my very favorite depiction of Christ and the Sacred Heart-yet the image of the heart is superimposed. This depiction is actually from a larger work (I think the call of Matthew?? if I remember correctly).
As a family we prayed the novena to the Sacred Heart since last Thursday-not missing a day-a first for us!
Worked a little today, but am taking the rest of the afternoon off as detailed in yesterdays post.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us! From, Bethany, the small holding in Bethune....Oremus pro invicem!
Went to Mass this morning to celebrate the martyrdom of Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher. For some reason, Thomas More has always been a special patron for me. I can never seem to read enough biographies of him [Roper, Monti, Reynolds, Wegemer, Camm, Kenny, Belloc (just a sketch), More... I may be missing one]. His writing is also inspirational. I particularly recommend "The Sadness of Christ" (Scepter), but there are others also.
I guess because Thomas More really is a model for the Catholic layman, husband and father of today (see my post from a few days ago) irregardless of his martyrdom that makes his patronage so strong for me. He also was very natural in his way. He prayed hard and sacrificed (removing his hair shirt only in the few days before he was beheaded), but at the same time he brought joy to all those around him-even jesting with the executioner. There was nothing fake about him. He was strong in faith and prayer-but feared his own weakness. I guess this shows his wisdom.
So much could be written. I'll save it for the 'publisher's preface' to the sketch of Thomas More RequiemPress will be publishing later this year.
Last year we had an 'English' day on Thomas More's day. We each, or in groups prepared a skit or song with English heritage. (Of course we ourselves are mostly Irish-but we are spiritual brethren with our Catholic forebears in England.) Just as an example, my oldest daughter and I 'dramatized' the letters Thomas More and daughter Margaret Roper wrote each other when Thomas More was in the Tower awaiting execution. It was a fun day.
But this year, the Feast of the Sacred Heart is tomorrow-and no matter how much I love Thomas More, the feast of the Sacred Heart takes precedence, so the major celebration will be tomorrow. We will re-enthrone and re-consecrate the Sacred Heart in our home. Then we will have a show and celebration of sorts. (Of course we will start the day with Mass-special thanks to angel providing the means to get there tomorrow.)
We picked up a dozen Rhode Island Reds today (straight run) which are about week old. This is first time we have gotten them locally; in the past we got them in mail from Arizona. (We had slaughtered the remaining of our flock back during Lent.)
My 6 year old son said, "I'm glad we have chickens again-it seems more like a farm with chickens."
I agree. There was someone else excited to see baby chicks....our dog Challenger. He ran to the fence as soon as he heard them. He has not left his spot by the fence nearest the coop since we got home. Not to worry, I don't think Challenger will be here at Bethany too much longer. We are down-sizing in the dog department.
No, of course you know that I am NOT plugging Charles Curran's newly released memoirs-but I am going to talk about it... The reviews on Amazon.com about this book say that Curran spends some time outlining his views on moral theology and especially defending his heterodox view on artificial contraception.
While we didn't know Curran's book was coming out, Requiem Press is publishing this summer a sort of anti-dissent, or dualing memoir from another moral theologian-Dr. William E. May. He crossed paths with Charles Curran at Catholic University in the 70's and 80's-sometimes teaching in the same department.
Dr. May also spends some pages on Humanae Vitae-defending it. Both Curran and May understand that the release of Humanae Vitae and the moral issues involved with contraception have wide repercussions for the Church and society, even today-greater than the birth control issue alone.
As Dr. May's book comes closer to release I will be posting more about it. These two moral theologians have spent the greater part of their teaching careers on opposing sides of the great issue of our time. Thus Dr. May's memoirs gain importance as a counterpoint to the Curran book-hopefully we can get it the publicity and readership it deserves.
Thursday is the feast of Thomas More and John Fisher. I will probably be posting in honor to their memory over the next few days, starting with this prayer. This prayer was written in Thomas More's own hand in the margins of his liturgy of the hours book. Although the spelling is a bit different than we are used to, I think his meaning is quite understandable.
Gyve me thy grace good God
To sette the worlde at naught;
To sett my mynde faste upon The, and not to hange
uppon the blaste of mennys mowthis;
To be content to be solitary;
Not to long for worldly company;
Little and little to utterly caste off the worlde, and
ridde my minde of all bysynes there ;
Not to long to here eny worldly thyngis, but that
the heving of worldly fantesyes may be to me displeasant.
Gladly to be thinking of God
Pituously to call for His helpe ;
To lene unto the comfort of God;
Bysyly to labor to love Him ;
To knowe myn owne vilite and wretchednesse.
To humble and meken myself under the mighty hand of God :
To bewayle my synnes passed ;
For the purgyng of them patiently to suffer adversity.
Gladly to bere my purgatory here ;
To be joyful of tribulacions;
To walke the narrow way that leadeth to life ;To bere the crosse with Christ;To have the last things in remembrance;To have ever afore myn yie my death that ys ever at hand.
To make deth no stranger to me.To foresee and consider the everlasting lyre of hell.
To pray for pardon before the judge come;
To have continually in mynde the passyone Christ suffered for me;
For hys benefits uncessauntly to give him thankys.
To by the time again that I have loste.
To abstain from vague confabulacyons.
To eschew light, foolish myrthe and galnessel
Recreations not necessary to cut off;
Of worldly substance, frendys, libertie, life and all to sett the loss at right nowght for the wynning of Christ.
To thinke my moste enemys mye beste frendys, for the brethren of Joseph could never have done hym so much goode with their love and favour, as they did hym with their malice and hatred.
Just to get caught up... our efforts as nursing the baby rabbits failed. The 'book' says I should give Mama rabbit 3 chances before deciding she doesn't make a good mother. We have another litter due (from Mama #2) in a week or two.
Some weeks (or was it months?) I was lamenting another broken appliance. Well-we finally got it fixed. (They don't make this easy, as they want you to call in the 'official' repairman who no one can really afford. But I took an educated guess at the part, borrowed a multi-meter to test it, and then once we had the cash available, ordered the part. Fortunately for my reputation, it all worked-but not before some desparate prayers to our Lady as I walked from the dishwasher to the breaker board to turn on the electricity and see if the fix took.) We (and I use that term loosely as it has been mostly Mrs. Curley) have been washing dishes by hand for several months. Once fixed I heard Mrs. Curley wondering aloud if we should continue washing by hand-I think she was jesting.
Of course we all understand that the joy of a fixed appliance is simply a brief truce in the battle-a fixed appliance truly means we now have the time to worry about how to fix another broken one. I await with bated breathe...
Finally, several weeks ago I mentioned a request for prayers and something about an interview, etc. In August I will begin a little teaching on the side-teaching some Math classes down the road at the Catholic High School in Columbia. RequiemPress should benefit from this arrangement. Yes, for a year or so, my time will be split, but now the Curley clan won't have to eat all the 'profits'-we can put some money back into RequiemPress and grow the business. (Besides, my time has been split already between newspaper routes and the occasional patent consult job, this just makes the time-splitting more scheduled.)
Thanks to the support of readers here and so many others, this little endeavor is succeeding. We are grateful to God that He has blessed us so abundantly with friends these last two years.
Looking forward, I am really excited at the next slate of books we have coming out-more on one of these in a post later this week. Our first children's book should come out this fall on Our Lady of Victory (an original title); a revision of the old 'Penny Catechism'; as mentioned yesterday, we plan to publish a biography/sketch of Thomas More-one which hasn't ever (to my knowledge) been published in the US and was originally and last in print sometime in the early 1900's; a book of very Catholic poetry; and the memoirs of a Catholic theologian. These are all slated for 2006-boy I better get back to work....
From Bethany, the small holding in Bethune...Oremus pro invicem!
Described below from Katherine Longley's book on the Pearl of York is a series of plays performed in York on the feast of Corpus Christi. Apparently there were stations about the city where people would gather. 45 wagons, each with a play or skit would pass by each station, stopping to perform its play. It was an all-day event. America (United States that is) has never had this kind of coherent Christian culture. Read the description (and note who ran the plays.... )
One inescapable sign of changed belief was the suppression of the traditional religious pageants which had been played by members of the various trade guilds of York for two centuries. It was not with a sense of religious dedication that they acted; this was their entertainment as well as their instruction. The Creed Play and the Paternoster Play were still sometimes performed, but the great favourite was the Corpus Christi Play ... Protestant Archbishops hardly knew how to tackle the problem of the plays: year by year on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, the whole population of York, with the exception of a handful of Protestant objectors, encamped in the streets along the route of the forty-five wagons on which the mystery plays were acted. The clergy could with difficulty interfere, for the plays had long ago passed from control of the Church; each was performed by a different 'mystery' or trade guild, or group of guilds. ... The first half of the cycle of plays covered Salvation history from the creation of the world, the fall of Adam and Eve, and three Old Testatment 'types of redemption (Noah's Ark, the sacrifice of Abraham, and the deliverence of the Jewish people from Egypt), down to Christ's entry into Jerusalem; the second half dealt with the Passion, death and victory of Christ.
St. Margaret Clitherow by Katherine Longley (1986)
(Here is another site with more information about these plays.)
I can't believe it has almost been a week since my last post-not for want of material, believe me. Thursday I spent the day at Huntington State Park on the ocean with the family and friends. (This time I did bring a manuscript.) The ocean was very rough, but the conditions were great for body-surfing. We saw alligators sitting on the rocks next to the causeway on the way into the park. Comment from number 4 son, "I'm not swimming at this beach!"
Friday it was back to work-nothing too exciting.
Saturday I house-sat for friends in Columbia whose daughter was getting married because of an incident earlier in the week which suggested the house was being cased for burglary. (While I was gone, Mrs. Curley was commenting to my 6 year old son how pleased 'Daddy' would be when I got home by how helpful he was. His response: "If he doesn't get shot!"). The day was very quiet. I got started on some work I needed to do to prepare for the fall. I read yet another biography or sketch of St. Thomas More (who can ever read enough?-which is why we may publish this out of print gem). I started a bio of St. Margaret Clitherow. (One reason for these last two are that we are hoping to do a couple short plays this year with the CCD class: one about St. Thomas in the Tower and one on the Pearl of York.)
Sunday we celebrated Corpus Christi by hearing Mass. While we don't generally celebrate Father's Day, I did get a card from one daughter and got a song from the older children-sung in parts. Got more of Margaret Clitherow's life read. This book is great on facts, but it is a real trudge to get through.
Some of this work/reading done over the weekend will result in a few new posts today and tomorrow.
A post later today about Corpus Christi celebrations in Yorkshire of days gone by, but for the moment a quote from Cresacre More, great-grandson of Thomas More on the latter's vocation:
"...yet God had allotted him for another estate, not to live solitarie, but that he might be a patterne to married men, how they should carefully bring up their children, how daearely they should love their wives, how they should employe their endeavour wholly for the good of their country, yet excellently perform the virtues of religious men, as piety, charity, humility, obedience, and congugal chasity."
From Bethany, the small holding in Bethune...Oremus pro invicem!
Not only have I been neglecting the comment boxes- an aside, speaking of which, check out this poem which appeared via Mr. Culbreath in the comment box a week or so ago:
To be a gentleman
is a goal I have
yet to obtain;
To be a farmer
is to sow golden
fields of grain.
While the former is
not out of reach
The farmer in me
has gone to the beach.
Back to the point, I have also been reading alot of blogs recently which do not appear on my blogroll. I have been too lazy to put them up. So I will list a few here and hope I get them up before too long.
The last of which (Long-Skirts) is from an author and poet. Requiem Press is pleased to be publishing a collection of her very Catholic poetry sometime this fall. More on this later.
By the way, just noticed that this is my 500th post on this blog-for whatever that is worth....
Mr. Culbreath gives us a visual of a tool (here) which, strangely enough, I have some experience with-although we have no cattle or goats ourselves. It is a good story-if told properly...
When I was in college (back when it was all-male) my roommate hailed from Six Mile, SC and lived on a modest farm (40 acres with a few head of cattle). I used to go home with him for Thanksgiving, Easter break, etc. On one of these occasions, a neighbor called looking for a little male assistance with the neutering of a calf as her husband was out of town. My roommate, myself, and the neighbor's two sons (high school age) went into the pasture to capture the calf with Mr. Culbreath's tool in hand.
We spent a good two hours trying to catch that calf. One problem we encountered was that the bull was being protective of the calf, which hampered our efforts. In fact, at one point, we had cornered the calf, the bull and a few other cattle were also in the group. We spread out in a semi-circle and slowly closed in. As the calf shot out of the pack directly at me, I poised for the tackle. Out of the corner of my eye I saw another motion-the bull bearing down on me with horns lowered. I forgot the calf and dove for the fence-just making it.
After many attempts, we finally captured that calf, turned it over, and discovered "he" was a "she"-which explained the bull's actions.
So while I have never actually used the tool-I do know its purpose.
Violent thunderstorms went through here yesterday afternoon. We got hit-but not as bad as first thought. We heard the hit and the lights went out-everyone was in the living room. Then we noticed that some rooms still had electricity. Our living room and dining room were out as was the girls room, the washing machine and the all the lights upstairs. Everything else seemed to work.
We thought the hit has fried the appliances which were down. (A real shame when it came to the ceiling fans as they are really, really good ones; and the washing machine predates our marriage.)
However, such devastation was not to be. After the storm calmed down a bit, I went and flipped all the breakers. Lo and behold almost everything came back-everything except our phone system. Here's what (I think) happened.
The lightning hit was on the phone line. Because we have a cordless phone and answering machine hooked up to the phones also, the surge fried those appliances -transferring over somewhat to the house electrical, but not enough to do anything but flip the breakers. The transformer cover at the outlet for the cordless phone had its cover blown off and there was a scorch mark there.
So all in all, we are very lucky (blessed, more like it)-and we aren't even out of phone service as the business phone on a different line didn't get hit. God is good.
Update: Looks like we are only out one phone downstairs, the other (after replacing the cord) works.
Update: The percentage of bunnies who survive being hand fed is very low. In keeping with that low percentage, we lost our two on Tuesday.
Ah, who would have thought? Well, we lost most of the bunny litter over the weekend. It was somewhat of a surprise because Momma Rabbit seemed to be doing the right things. She put lots of fur in the nesting box on Friday, and more on Saturday. But evidence suggests she also decided to use the box for a 'her business' too. In the course of that I think she injured a few. To top it off, she never started feeding them.
So we had lost two on Friday. By Sunday we had lost another four. Two others were in bad shape and two looked okay. We decided to hand feed these last four. The local feed store wasn't open. The recommended formula is cat milk replacement formula. Of course there is no store carrying this within 50 miles which is open on a Sunday. So we used people milk. We captured a couple drops at a time with a coffee-stirrer straw and fed the bunnies. After a while it seemed that only the two healthy one were taking the milk and getting better. So we did what had to do with the other two.
Now my trip this morning will be to the feed store to see if I can get "formula" for two bunnies who made it nicely through the night.
There is a move afoot in the house to say that since we are nursing the baby rabbits, they should be named and become pets (in fact names have already been picked I am told). I am fighting this revolution-we need no more pets around here. I can use delaying tactics successfully now because there is no guarantee we will be successful nursemaids to these two survivors.
For all my problems with chickens, those now seem a wild success versus our rabbit-raising problems. But this goes back to my post last weekend (here) where I talk about hobbies versus part of the daily fabric of your life.
Oh and by the way: I am way behind at acknowledging the comments received in the last week or so. Be assured I have read them and appreciate your taking the time. I will get to them sometime this week.
Mrs. Curley & I teach CCD to the high schoolers at our parish. The curriculum is threefold: Baltimore Catechism, Scripture, and How to pray (this encompasses different types of prayer, plan of life, etc.). While we have gone on a few outings and done other activities, these never take up class time. Our outings are usually charitable in nature (sing Christmas carols to shut-ins, pro-life march, etc.) or eductational, like the trip to the Cathedral. Virtually every outing we have had, we say the rosary on the road.
Our approach to young adults is very simple. We don't go for gimmicks, special liturgies, rah, rah, etc. I believe that you give these young adults the truth, unvarnished, with all the difficulties and all the joy. You discuss things honestly: present the challenges, sufferings, and the rewards. They have free will and will decide to accept or reject Christ on their own. If you try to trick them into coming to CCD with gimmicks etc., they may come for a while, but the livelong relationship with Christ will be considered "kid's stuff". It won't stick. They will remember the gimmicks and not the doctrine or the love which was giving a tiny hearing amidst the hoopla.
No doubt about it, we think we have lost kids from the class because we didn't try to entertain.
The Church Fathers had a distinctive approach to youth ministry.
Now, don’t jump to conclusions. I haven’t uncovered any evidence that St. Ambrose led teens on ski trips in the nearby Alps. Nor is there anything to suggest that St. Basil sponsored junior-high dances in Pontus. (There’s not even a hint of a pizza party.) In fact, if you check all the documentary evidence from all the ancient patriarchates of the East and the West, you won’t find a single bulletin announcement for a single parish youth group.
Yet the Fathers had enormous success in youth and young-adult ministry. Many of the early martyrs were teens, as were many of the Christians who took to the desert for the solitary life. There’s ample evidence that a disproportionate number of conversions, too, came from the young and youngish age groups.
How did the Fathers do it?
They made wild promises.
They promised young people great things, like persecution, lower social status, public ridicule, severely limited employment opportunities, frequent fasting, a high risk of jail and torture, and maybe, just maybe, an early, violent death at the hands of their pagan rulers.
The Fathers looked young people in the eye and called them to live purely in the midst of a pornographic culture. They looked at some young men and women and boldly told them they had a calling to virginity. And it worked. Even the pagans noticed how well it worked.
I'm sure these have already been noted by most, but just in case:
1) Mr. Culbreath comments on life in a small county (I find the same, but on a larger scale. The state of South Carolina is small population-wise and thus gives more access. I have met senators (1), governors (2), attorney generals (2), etc. just by being around-I am not active in either major party. Same goes for the Church. When I lived in Boston the only time you saw the ArchBishop was at a confirmation, if you indeed got him instead of an auxillary. You may see him at a pro-life march from a distance. But you never met him unless you knew people. Not the case in the Charleston diocese-which encompasses the entire state of SC. While I have only met Bishop once myself, my wife and children have met him several times. He is very accessible and visible throughout our diocese-everyone has talked to the Bishop.)
Mr. Culbreath also contrasts city and country life. I can relate to many of the feelings he expresses on both sides of the divide.
2) The other thing, (via Bettnet.com) is this statement from the just released document, “Family and Human Procreation" by the Pontifical Council on the Family:
However, using natural family planning to have only one or a maximum of two children “is nothing other than a kind of series of brief parentheses within an entire conjugal life willingly made sterile”
I posted a link to an article sometime in the last month or so decrying the frequent use of NFP as "Catholic Birth Control". It appears this danger is getting notice in higher places. It is about time.
Two bunnies were out of the nesting box this morning, but all ten are still alive.
But does it (blogging) really matter? The ultimate questions are: Am I doing this for a good reason? Am I giving enjoyment to others or somehow improving their day? Am I becoming more virtuous? Where does this fit into my life as God’s child?
If it’s harming others, you shouldn’t do it. If it’s hindering your efforts at virtue, then you shouldn’t do it or you should change your way of doing it. And to the extent that blogging is creating an ocean of vain individuals who think their every thought is pure gold, blogging is damnable.
On that note, let me say that my blogging has been light this week and will continue to be so because we have 2 birthdays to celebrate this week.
From Bethany, the small holding in Bethune...Oremus pro invicem!
We had just about given up hope; 33 days from mating and no signs. Momma Rabbit had not pulled out fur or anything. Mrs. Curley was just checking their water and sent for me. Momma Rabbit was in the process of giving birth. 10 live, 1 dead. It is much warmer now, so maybe the litter will make it. (Going to be reading Raising Rabbits for Dummies tonight…)
I was going to mention the outcome of those six games of pool mentioned in the post below, but then I read the following this morning:
How can you pretend to follow Christ, if you only revolve around yourself?
Detest showing off. Reject vanity. Fight against pride, every day, at every moment.
Last night-after almost 2 years in Bethune-Mrs. Curley and I ventured out to the local 'pub' as it were. The Monday night crowd was very sparse. Mrs. Curley & I had the pool room to ourselves. We shot a half-dozen games of pool while the background echoed with classic southern rock mixed with contemporary country music (not my choice, but it could have been much worse). The smoke (due to the spareness of the crowd) was minimal.
As mentioned here before, Mrs. Curley and I used to have a weekly 'date night', but hadn't had one since moving out to Bethany. Now, while I don't think Mike's will become a weekly or even a monthly venture for us, it was wonderful to get out with Mrs. Curley once again.
Last weeks' Wanderer sported a column by Pat Buchanan with the title given to this post. What caught my eye (and thoughts) about this whether the idea of the Nation-State is good or bad-theoretically, and secondly how does this relate to the US, if at all.
Let's take a look at the article first. Basically Mr. Buchanan is relating recent history where the consolidations of peoples into large countries (nation-states) which began in earnest some 400-500 years ago is starting to break apart, especially in Europe. Soviet Union has broken into 17 different entities based on culture and ethnicity. Same is happening in (former) Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, etc.
There is no denying that people feel more comfortable interacting and intermarrying with people of the same ethnic and cultural background. There are practical reasons for this, especially when considering marriage. At one extreme, mixed faith marriages have always proved difficult when one or both spouses are devout. But to lesser extents this is true of many cultural characteristics. (Don't get me wrong, I am not advocating pure segration of peoples-just noting natural and sometimes practical tendencies. For example people from the same class will tend to have the same types of economic expectations in marriage and thus one potential problem is eased. Of course there are many exceptions - the exceptions make the rules.)
As the people of different cultures are forced together, two things may happen. In some cases, the cultural differences become pronounced and segration and clashes become more common. In other cases, the cultures melt together. Both have their problems. Ethnic violence for ethnicity's sake is to be deplored, but so also is the loss of some culture. American's have formed their own culture, but at a high cost of losing much that was good in the cultures that melted together.
So if we separate into "tribes" as it were, then we preserve culture. Can we interact peacibly with the other tribes? Well mankind has proven over and over and over and over (must I go on) that we can't.
However, might there be a saving grace? Small "tribes" cannot often raise the level of fighting and destruction to the same extent as a Nation-State can. First, the tax base is less. Secondly, besides localized disputes over territory, etc. the motivation to war is usually more of self-defense for a "tribe".
Of course any "tribe" will occasionally spawn a leader with more global intentions. In these cases as in the past, tribes band in alliance against the common enemy.
Just some thoughts on the demise of the Nation-State. Is there more than meets the eye? Am I missing something? I am reminded of the Anti-Federalist papers which argued that a weak central government would be less likely to go to war. And that monarchy (before the absolute monarchies of the more recent centuries) was also less likely to wage major war becuase the monarchy was not absolute but depended heavily on the allegiance and arms of the lords and barons in the area. (Thus we see that today's 'republic' in America may actually be closer to an absolute monarchy in some respects than to the monarchies of the Middle Ages.)
How does this play in America? Haven't figured that out yet.
Tonight ... Mike's Place. Will report on that later.
I mentioned below something about a reprieve and joy. Now it can be told. Our beloved pastor is not moving on to new territory quite yet. He is staying at St. Catherine's for at least a time-who knows how long. We are grateful for this continued blessing.
I went to the Mass in Spanish Sunday night (exactly why the Latin Mass is needed-so our parish is not so segregated) as I stayed home with a couple of our sick youngn's on Sunday morning. While I am not a big fan of applause in Church (it was just before the final blessing), the applause from the Hispanic population on learning Fr. O'Holohan was staying, was spontaneous and heartfelt-and I joined them.
Best laid plans...with rain in the offing, I am not fixing the doors to the chicken coop today, but will do some garden weeding with the hoe-although Mrs. Curley will have to put off her planned planting today due to the threatening rain.
We have pumpkins growing in our garden. They came up from seeds which were laying dorment in our compost heap. When I mixed in the compost and spring arose, so did the pumpkins. Now, they won't last around here even though we have one the size of a softball already. The heat will be too much for them. We will keep a couple plants going none-the-less just to see.
In the absense of our planned work, Mrs. Curley and I sat down and had a wide-ranging discussion on the agrarian life, current economy and culture, homeschooling, and all the interelations therein. The discussion brought up more questions than answers, but questions we need to resolve; after all, we have been here almost 2 years. Let me give a little highlight of the general direction we were discussing. No particular order is contemplated, I am just want to get some ideas down to develop more later.
Agrarian Lifestyle: What about our kids?
First point, many who retreat to an agrarian lifestyle expect their children to like it also and even to follow in their parents footsteps and stay on the homestead or on nearby homesteads as adults. While this might be nice, (I always am heart-broken to see my children leave home even if it is just for a semester at college) we don't see the main purpose of the small holding to form or reform some long-term tribal lands. One reason, is that God's will interferes with our best laid plans. God has given talents and vocations to our children which may or may not include staying in our agrarian community. (I remember vividly how two boys decide to stay and two decide to leave for education at the end of 'Swiss Family Robinson' - and there was nothing wrong with that.)
Why are we doing this-some think we're crazy?
We see several purposes for our moving to a rural area and trying to live a bit more agrarian, (but we have been surprised at times by how our expectations have differed from reality). For one, it is clear that so far not all kids like taking care of animals. We are about to get more chickens. We asked our chicken-master today what he felt about it. He carefully told us all the good things about having chickens. Then in a moment of prodding he broke down and quietly said, "I just hate them, feeding them, everything about taking care of them."
Now maybe we have gone about things wrongly or assigned the wrong child to the wrong chore, but in big picture, maybe some of our boys are not cut out to be farm boys. Who would have thought?
On the other hand, I recall my own thoughts when plucking my first, second, and third chicken. I thought, "I can't believe I am doing this. Now I know why people went from raising them to buy them at the grocery." I also realized a bit more about agrarian life. The first realization that everyday was concerned with the daily duties and the task at hand-in particular, putting food on the table for that night. Oh yes, you may have some long term plans, (the garden planting must have a vision, etc.), but the work every day had a daily and sometimes a seasonal consequence. Compare this to work in industry where (whether you are on an assembly line or an engineer, or executive) most every day's task is a long term task and sometimes you will never see the end result.
The agrarian experience, even if only experienced short term can teach you something of salvation-that you work out your salvation with God one day at a time just as you live your life one day at a time. The long term vision of Heaven is worked on a daily basis, not quarterly etc. It is hard to put in words exactly what I mean: I will try again before this topic is over. Let's put it this way, simple traditional lifestyles are not very forgiving. If you don't work one day, you may just not eat. Yet at the same time, the rhythms of the seasons regulate your work, leisure, waking, sleeping.
How are we doing?
One thing we have found at Bethany, is that we have not really embraced an agrian lifestyle for a number of reasons. One reason is that we set up the garden, the animals raising etc as the secondary chore consideration (more like a hobby), instead of primary considerations (necessity). This has not only affected our results, but also attitudes towards these things. (The difference: it is simply a chore, or is it the days work?)
So we have some ways to go. [Am reminded once again of the saying (paraphrasing) of Hilary Belloc: "It takes six months to turn a farmer into a city-boy; it takes 3 generations to turn a city boy into a farmer."]
As we examine our lifestyle (realizing it may or may not be the lifestyle of choice for our children) we also need to see how the homeschooling is going in this new envirnoment.
Here is an aside. For years I thought art class and music classes were a waste of time. Maybe this was because they were regulated to once a week, Friday afternoon, and only were required in elementary school. How I now lament this folly, both in my own thought and in the school system I attended. God is most visible to us (or at least to some of us) in nature and in the arts. The true purpose of art is to help reveal God to man. Now I that I finally see, how are we doing at our school?
I know this isn't a cohesive treatment, (I didn't even hit on the economy), but some things to think about. Of course in the final analysis, whether you live in Manhattan or Bethune, how you live and promote a restoration of Christian culture is more important than where you do it. It is possible in many places and many professions. There is much more to discuss, but these are some of the things we talked about Saturday morning.
I've said it a hundred times: When I was in school we NEVER finished a text book. Sometimes in the last 2 weeks of school a teacher tried to cover the last 4 chapters, but we never finished a text.
Yet all the homeschoolers every year slave and worry about how many weeks into summer will they have to go to finish all the texts. I got confirmation last week, once again, that even now the conventional schools still don't finish the text books. I was talking with the head of a Math department at a high school. And she was showing me where in the books they usually ended the year (And it was never in the final chapter.)
So yes, you need to finish your course-however you have planned it-but you don't have to finish the text.
The catalog itself is quite interesting, with some great classic selections (for instance M. Adler's "How to Read a Book" and CS Lewis "Mere Christianity"), with long commentary on various subject including homeschooling and agrarianism. I have been planning to post something on it for sometime-this is just a reminder to self.