Monday, July 31, 2006

Bombs, Soldiers, The Diary...

Reading Mr. Culbreath's comments about fatherhood and war (here) this morning, I was immediately reminded of this line I had just read last night in "Diary of a Country Priest". (The speaker is a soldier, and he is talking about the demise of Christianity or Christendom (the Christian nation, let's say) because of the demise of 'the Christian soldier'):

The cleverist of killers of tomorrow will kill without any risk. Thirty thousand feet above the earth, and dirty little engineer, sitting cosily in his slippers with a special bodyguard of technicians, will merely have to press a button to wipe out a town, and scurry home in fear-his only fear-of being late for dinner. Nobody can could call an employee of that description a soldier.

I finished reading "Diary" early this morning. As I wrote a few days ago, I don't know how I missed the power of this book the first I read it some 20 years ago. Perhaps I was not mature enough.


You have to read this article (Saturday's CatholicExchange ) by Fr. Andrew Apostoli, C.F.R. Here is the first line that caught my eye:

Nietzsche has put forth some direct challenges to all Christian believers. One of them is a remark aimed primarily at apologists and evangelists. He states it very simply: “The reason why people no longer believe is that believers no longer sing!”

Many underplay the importance of music and of singing. Today singing it is thought more of as entertainment-a spectator sport (unless you are alone in your room or the shower). But singing and singing with others should really be a part of our community life.

Singing expresses joy. Singing in community brings a closeness, and intimatcy-because in singing we give more of ourselves and open ourselves up more.

Here's some more from the article:

Singing, especially spontaneous singing, is often a sign of happiness....the Devil goes around scattering a dust of sadness and discouragement...we lack the armor of joy, we can easily become victimized by a sadness that also repels others.

I think our culture is afraid of joy. We are afraid to get too close (to open up) to our fellow man. We are afraid to get to close to (and stand face to face with) God. This is why we search for the fountain of youth through technology and medicene. We are afraid to die because we have no joy!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Morning Prayer

When I first started praying Morning Prayer, it was one day a week with a group of men from my parish. During different periods since then I have prayed it somewhere between never and 5 or so days a week. (Typical American Catholic-I always took the weekends off.) Occasionally Mrs. Curley and I pray Night Prayer together. Very peaceful. I remember praying Night Prayer at the bedside of my father on his last night on earth....

But I digress.

I recall the first time I prayed Morning Prayer on a Saturday morning (and this wasn't that many years ago). For some reason I thought it would be much shorter because, being Saturday, didn't Rome know we had lots of chores and errands to do!

Quick note on "Diary of a Country Priest": I am almost finished. How could I have missed the power this book the first time I read it? Will comment more later.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Cover Poll-I NEED YOUR HELP!--Voting Closed

Update: Thanks for your participation. Stop by tomorrow afternoon to get see which commentor wins the FREE BOOK!: Standing with Peter when it is released in the fall. Thanks for all your comments. In reading them, I think we've learned alot-but I know we please everyone.

Last year we unveiled a couple draft covers for "Catholic Laity in the Mission of the Church" by Russell Shaw, which was released in November 2005. This time, we think we have the general concept down, but we are trying to fine tune it. These are a little rough, but if you would, please weigh in on what you like and what you don't like about them: Vote-its your civic duty!

Please also, spread the word to other bloggers and readers of blogs to weigh in. The input we received last time really helped us fine tune the cover. The more comments the better. I will leave this post on top at least through the weekend so no one has to go searching.

First, by way of introduction:

In May 2006 Rev. Charles Curran came out with his memoirs entitled "Loyal Dissent-Memoir of a Catholic Theologian" (Georgetown University Press). In this book, Curran tries to make the case for dissenting from Humanae Vitae and outlines his view of moral theology.

But there is another side to the story. Dr. William May’s memoirs: "Standing with Peter-Reflections of a Lay Moral Theologian on God’s Loving Providence" (Requiem Press, anticipated September 2006) tells the story of a Catholic moral theologian, on same Catholic University of Amercia faculty as Rev. Curran, who barely kept his job at times because he taught that artificial contraception was morally unacceptable-standing with Pope Paul VI on this defining moral teaching of our times.

In his memoirs William May takes us from his early years in the seminary, the illness which precluded his ordination, his first career as a book editor, his error in 1968, and finally his academic career at CUA and the John Paul II Institute. With personal anecdotes, humor and humility, William May weaves a tale showing how God takes care of us and has plan for us-how God brings good from our mistakes if we are willing to co-operate with his grace. In the book Dr. May also illuminates the errors of moral relativism and other questionable theological “innovations”.

With that introduction, here's what we're thinking in order: A, B, C:

A couple notes about the cover. The picture of course is Dr. May and his wife with Pope John Paul II and then-Cardinal Ratzinger in 1988. The "newspaper" headlines and stories in the backgrounds were originally going to be real images from the NY Times on 30 & 31 July 1968. Unfortunately they wouldn't give permissions to use their images or headlines. (Their story changed a couple times, so I don't know what the real deal is. First they said the often give permissions for bookcovers, but after they saw the mock-up they claim they never give permissions for bookcovers. Who knows?) So I looked at a bunch of headlines from various sources and stories and then made up my own.

Thanks in advance for participating. And PLEASE spread the word!

The Sabbath

"Remember to Keep Holy the Sabbath".

What can you do on Sunday-what can't you do? (see the Cathechism) I tend towards the legalistic-I like clear and fast rules. But blind obedience to clear and fast rules can sometimes leave loving obedience and true understanding by the wayside.

John Paul II (of happy memory) wrote a apostolic letter On Keeping the Lord's Day Holy (Dies Domini). I recommend its reading to get a full understanding of all the Sabbath should mean to us.

As an aside, it appears John Paul II had read Chesterton-or at least had a common thought. From Dies Domini (No. 68):

In short, the Lord's Day thus becomes in the truest sense, the day of man as well. (emphasis in original).

and from Orthodoxy: (Chapter 5)

And only when they made a holy day for God did they find they had made a holiday for men.

The June issue of crisis magazine has article by Armstrong Williams which focusses on the "rest" aspect of the Sabbath. Read it here. In the final paragraphs (could be an entire aritcle unto itself) he makes a suggestion on why people are afraid to slow down and turn off the TV and cell phones on Sunday:

The Sabbath is often difficult. How could that be? Isn’t the day primarily about rest and renewal, about rejoicing and love? Yes, but it’s also about reflection, and about taking time to ask the important questions about how we are spending that time. I began this piece by mentioning how busy so many people tell me they are. They have cell phones on their hips, radios on in their cars, TVs on at home, and e-mails piling up at work. Many of us act as if all this activity is a burden—and it is a burden. But more than that, it is also a blanket meant to comfort us from the awesome—sometimes intimidating—power of silence and rest.

For some of us, the incredible pace of life is a self-induced state of denial, a ready excuse to avoid the hard questions. ...

We can't pray, we can't face God without silence and an uncluttered mind. (Isn't this why spiritual directors tell us to pray and meditate in the morning before we see the news, have read our email, or found out the problems we face that day at our jobs?)

New Shoes and other thoughts

Got a new pair of shoes yesterday. It had been a while, and I needed them badly. They were so comfortable I didn't want to go to bed cause then I'd have to take them off...

Last night we found number 3 son sleeping between his mattress and the 'bunky board' (a small box-spring, if you can call it that, on a bunk bed). I don't know what possessed him to climb in there, but he was soaked with sweat when we found him. He had no explanation. I'm sure it won't be clearer this morning.

Our one remaining puppy (all the others succombed to complications from the "drowning incident" is now staying in a box inside the house. At two weeks, he is pretty big-gaining weight every day. No wonder, he eats for 10 when he nurses. Literally he make sure he hits all 8 stations when he nurses. The kids call him 'Rolly Polly'.

Received an email from my older brother this morning with a poem written by his son 7 years ago (then 10)-just after Dad had died. Must see if I can put it on here....

Is art a child? Steve Riddle discusses. Reminds me of inventors and their inventions. In preparing the patent applications in my days gone by, I was always amazed at how these inventors seemed to treat their invention almost like a child. Yet I think Mr. Riddle and his commentors has it right. (For to the engineer, his invention is his "art"). Art is not so much a child but an expression of oneself.

Jim Manney of People of the Book posts about the patron saints of graphic design. I will have to see what they can do to help us out with bookcovers (see post above).

And finally, Mr. Culbreath has lost some chickens and egg production, but has a bountiful summer garden yield. Might I offer that we never lost chickens to heat (dogs, yes) so he might want to take a look at that. We never lost egg production in the summer due to heat, only due to a change in diet. Congratualtions on the garden. We have taken it on the chin ourselves. Our tomatoes (not big but plentiful) are doing well. But that's about it. No zucchini! No squash or cucumbers, or cantaloupe or anything else. We had a few carrotts, but only planted a few. And we had some lettuce and a head of cabbage. But the stuff which was so easy to grow never had fruit.

Others in the area have had similar problems. But not our immediate neighbor. Fortunately he has kept us in the sweetest corn you have ever tasted, and squash, cantaloupe, and watermelon. He is dissapointed with the size of his melons, due to lack of rain, but they are good.

From Bethany, the small holding in Bethune...Oremus pro invicem!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Don't know how I missed this....(education)

Good historical article on 'homeschooling', if you will, here. I am not one to say that home education is best for everyone-but if I didn't think it had certain advantages-we wouldn't be doing it all these years. I have seen a wide range of styles and diligence in homeschoolers over the years. Of course I have also seen a broken public education system, whose faults have invaded many of the parochial schools.

Not to say that old and historical is not necessarily better. (Is dying of polio at 35 better than being innoculated and wiping that disease off the face of the earth?) Yet, we should learn from the past and take what is good. (Doesn't St. Paul tell us to measure all things and take the truth?- can't recall exactly the cite...) We should learn from history and apply it as appropriate to present circumstances-and it does repeat itself! The article referenced tries to show this as regards to state education:

In the overall Western experience, state controlled education is the exception. In ancient times that exception was Sparta. It was also an early precedent for anti-family ideology. As classical scholar E. B. Castle says: "In Sparta and Athens... we are confronted with two highly contrasted educational ideals which can be easily recognized in educational practice today" (Ancient Education and Today). To put this in context, consider what the Greek chronicler Plutarch tells about the Spartan lawgiver Lycurgus (c. 800 BC).

Lycurgus was of a persuasion that children were not so much the property of their parents as of the whole commonwealth.... [N]or was it lawful, indeed, for the father himself to breed up the children after his own fancy; but as soon as they were seven years old they were to be enrolled in certain companies and classes, where they all lived under the same order and discipline, doing their exercises and taking their play together.

Lycurgus wanted to control education so strictly as to regulate marriage. Children were subject to harsh discipline and exercise. Eugenics (and homosexuality) was even more arduously pursued in Sparta than the rest of pagan Greece. Spartan women were scorned by other nations for their aggressive, unfeminine behavior, while boys learned to be deceitful and ruthless to outsiders, even as they displayed automaton-like loyalty to their own. Presaging militaristic Prussia and Hitler's Reich, Spartans lived only for the state which, in turn, existed only for war. In key respects, the structure of Sparta's totalitarian education is indistinguishable from the aims of the left-liberal establishment.

There is no question that kids are indoctrinated in secular values in today's school system. In fact, a similar indoctrination was the motivation for the public school system we have today in America. I recall reading in any number of places that part of the motivation of building/expanding the public school system in America in the late 19th and early 20th century was to protestanize the 'ignorant Catholic immigrants' so they could become good Americans. (Subject of another post-the view back then that being Catholic and a good American were mutually exclusive-was it true then? is it true today?)

As I posted about here, (extensively) choice and implementation for the education of your children is a serious matter, not to be taken lightly. So no matter where your kids spend their days-buyer beware! You must do at least some education at home.

(By the way, the 5 deleted comments under my post on Education which I link to were comment spam and not censorship. That post was in January 2005. My posts were longer/meatier back then. Of course at that time, I didn't know how to add photos and adding a link in my post was probably a major endeavor for me.)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Five Sons


Today, five sons,
Served on the altar.
Determined boys
Who would not falter.

Boys, at home,
Who fight and shove
But on the altar
Assist with love...

(read the restof it here)

This is of course by "Long Skirts". We will be releasing a collection of her poetry entitled, "The Roast Beef Hour" sometime in the fall. We have couple other books due out before then...stay tuned.

So there I was...

back in April talking with Amy Welborn and Michael Dubruiel in coffee shop in Camden, SC. (See the circumstances here). We started talking about RequiemPress.

In the course of conversation, Amy asked whether Requiem Press was all I did. I don't recall her exact words, but basically she was wondering if this was a full-time operation.

My answer? "I also do a paper route a couple days a week."

Nothing to be ashamed of, to be sure (and I am sure neither thought less of me for it)-but at the same time, in re-telling it, it does sound somewhat humorous.

The nice thing about the internet to a blogger....

is that when you have nothing to say, you can just steal other people's stuff.

For instance, this article on CatholicExchange really struck me this morning. Apply the first sentence of these thoughts to yourself as a parent...

It is as inevitable as sin and just as certain to spread, because whether we intend them to our not, our weeds of sin spread into other’s lives. And as much as I might be tempted to make a sneaky foray into my neighbor’s garden with some weed killer, I can’t, any more than I can go to confession and tell the priest about my husband’s sins instead of my own.


On a lighter note, one of these photos made me laugh aloud this morning. (I can't say which one because, who knows, I might friends who don't think it's so funny.)

By the way-septic tank system back in working order. All is well at Bethany once more...

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


A friend sent me this and this link-both having to do with the book Death by Suburb by David Goetz. The first is a book review by Caleb Stegell (editor at The New Pantagruel) the second an interview with the author.

This seems to be another book which decries consumerism or the American lifestyle. (Others of course are Crunchy Cons by Rod Dreher and Look Homeward America: In Search of Reactionary Radicals by Bill Kauffman) Each has a different take on a solution (although there are overlaps)-but in common, each sees a problem. Now, I haven't read any of these books, but I have read alot about each.

This latest seems to recognize that suburbia has its god: personal comfort and instant gratification: (from the review)

The real spiritual battle, according to Goetz, is overcoming the illusion. Because suburban life so privileges the self—its instant gratification, its desire for greener pastures always over the next fence, its search for ease and comfort—the Christian life aimed at crucifying the old man of sin is handicapped, perhaps fatally. Goetz recognizes that the principle of self-love at work in suburbia manipulates Christian desires and offers the illusion of spirituality and religion as just one more product to be acquired.

And from the interview:

In the rural culture, people are always tied into the agrarian community, and there is a deep understanding of the nature of life in the agrarian community. You are not necessarily in control of your life. There are good years and there are bad years. People are maybe just a little more humble. Here, you are in control of your life, at least you think you're in control of your life.

Sounds like he has a handle on things. It appears that Mr. Goetz does not advocate leaving suburbia-just adjusting it so Christ can be found there. Not knowing the details of his book, I can't comment. But certainly-as we discussed in this post post a week or two ago, we need to discern God's will for us and embrace it no matter where we are. For some it will be to 'flee to the fields'. For others it will be to stay put and live a life of example and giving amongst the needy (materially or spiritually) around us.

Wherever we are: we need a deep prayer life.

God is good!

I had told Mrs. Curley that the 2nd half of July would be a little tight. Yesterday when I picked up the mail, I was pleasantly surprised that a couple invoices had been paid early (this never happens). Mrs. Curley and I started discussing how to spend this early arrival. An hour or so later I was called to come see the "big leak" under the house.

Turns out the septic tank is full and wants to start backing up-but a leaking floor flange is relieving the pressure. We had the tank pumped about a month after we moved in-putting it about 22 months ago. The drain field is supposed to be less than 4 years old. When we pumped the tank, the septic tank guy said that, based on the size of the tank and number of occupants, he guessed we should pump again in 2-3 years. In fact I had been looking for his number earlier in the week as 2 years was coming up.

As we wait this morning for the septic tank guy to answer his phone, we all have a new appreciation for the term "chamber pot".

But really, I just marvel once again how God takes care of us: in this case how God knew we would need those invoices paid a bit early to deal with this 'crisis'-and thus somehow prompted them to get paid.

(Blogging may be light today as I deal with the septic and another related plumbing issue which arose in conjunction with it-while I still get my regular stuff done. But we'll see.)

Monday, July 24, 2006

College anyone?

I am for education. Sometimes formal school settings can help you attain a good education, and sometimes they are a detriment. I do believe you can educate yourself quite thoroughly-it can be a risky business, depending on the subject matter, but it can be done. That being said I found a lot of humor and a lot of truth in this piece (hat tip to The Daily Eudemon). Here's a little bit, but read the whole thing:

To the extent that universities actually try to teach anything, which is to say to a very limited extent, they do little more than inhibit intelligent students of inquiring mind. And they are unnecessary: The professor’s role is purely disciplinary: By threats of issuing failing grades, he insures that the student comes to class and reads certain things. But a student who has to be forced to learn shouldn’t be in school in the first place. By making a chore of what would otherwise be a pleasure, the professor instills a lifelong loathing for the material.

The truth is that universities positively discourage learning. Think about it. Suppose you want to learn Twain. A fruitful approach might be to read Twain. The man wrote to be read, not analyzed tediously and inaccurately by begowned twits. It might help to read a life of Twain. All of this the student could do, happily, even joyously, sitting under a tree of an afternoon. This, I promise, is what Twain had in mind.

But no. The student must go to a class in American Literature, and be asked by some pompous drone, “Now, what is Twain trying to tell us in paragraph four?” This presumes that Twain knew less well than the professor what he was trying to say, and that he couldn’t say it by himself. No. Not being much of a writer, the poor man needs the help of a semiliterate drab who couldn’t sell a
pancake recipe to Boy’s Life. As bad, the approach suggests that the student is too dim to see the obvious or think for himself. He can’t read a book without a middleman. He probably ends by hating Twain.

I learned history without the help (hindrance) of school. I had a love for it, and the textbooks-which distort anyway-just couldn't compete with 'living books' (as a youth) and complete, indepth accounts and analysis as an adult. I will say, I never would have appreciated poetry without a couple of my college professors. And my high school English teacher, Mrs. Pawloski (may her soul rest in peace) , gave me the first clues on how to write and how to appreciate Shakespeare.

So, for me it is a mixed bag. I believe that a good teacher introduces you to a new world, but then simply guides you; letting you teach yourself.

Jury Duty again

Saturday produced another summons for jury duty. (See previous summons here.) This time it is for the Kershaw County court. Now I have never requested to be excused from jury duty. I have been summoned 4 times since moving to SC, but only actually ever heard one case. When I worked in industry, I was asked several times to write letters on the behalf of other people to excuse them from jury duty-because for some reason I was successful at it.

This summons has a unique (at least in my experience) directive:

A Judge is the only person that can excuse you from Jury Duty, a Clerk can not help you with this matter. You may speak to Judge Hxxxx or Judge Cxxxx on the Day of Court. (emphasis in original.)

They probably came up short one day and decided to make it harder to get excused.

Personally I don't mind sitting on a jury (no questionaire this time). However, in the particular instance, the jury duty takes place on the first days of class. (I believe I mentioned somewhere that I am teaching a couple classes this fall to supplement the old income.) I don't think the school will be too pleased with this-but we shall see how it works out.

of Bridges

We went to the Isle of Palms on Friday just outside of Charleston. After the beach we went downtown Charleston to walk through the market area. To get there from the beach we had to go over the new Cooper River bridge. The new bridge is not a bad looking structure-but architectually (and I am no archetect) seems out of place with the low country, Charleston, etc. The new bridge seems more "West Coast"-if there is such a thing. (I don't deny the old bridges needed replacement). See for yourself.

First, a few pics of the old bridge(s).

Now for a couple of the New Cooper River Bridge.

In either case, we always have a fun time going over large bridges like these. Some in the family seem especially 'teasible" (I know I shouldn't encourage it) when going over such a structure.

(And we had a great time at the beach and at the market.)

Friday, July 21, 2006


This book, Giving Up Stealing for Lent and other family stories, is somewhat different for us. It is certainly history, but not as most of us usually see it. That is we think of history as big battles and life-changing proclamations, etc. Yet history is made one action, one comment at a time. Big things are set into motion by little things. The raising of a family has untold impact on the local and larger community and ultimately the world.

We are always happy to receive reviews of our books. What follows is a first (for us) however.

Here's a unique review we received of our recent release:


“You can’t judge a book,
By its cover.”
But this one…
I think you can.

“Giving Up Stealing
For Lent’s” art hovers,
Over the mischievous
Madden clan.

From dear Aunt Mike
To Uncle that’s blind,
Mom, pop, eleven
Sisters and brothers

You’ll visit a time,
When sin was a crime
And couples forsook
All the others.

You’ll laugh and you’ll cry
At the days, thought gone by,
As if only they were found
In just tomes.

But, no, Brother Madden,
My heart he did gladden,
Showing how all can have
Catholic homes!!!


(By the way, you can check out Long-Skirts other poetry here)

Day of Prayer & Penance

"Given the escalation of violence, Benedict XVI has named Sunday as a day of prayer and penance for peace in the Middle East." The official Vatican communique (hat tip to Zenit ) says:

The Holy Father is following with great concern the destinies of all the peoples involved and has proclaimed this Sunday, July 23, as a special day of prayer and penance, inviting the pastors and faithful of all the particular Churches, and all believers of the world, to implore from God the precious gift of peace.

Many parishes won't even mention this proclamation-if they do it is unlikely they will have suggestions. Thus I would humbly suggest that you and family (or better yet your family and your friends) determine ahead of time, like today or tomorrow, how you will participate in prayer and penance.

Here are a couple suggestions off the top of my head:

1. If you don't already say the rosary on Sunday-do so this Sunday.
2. Ditto for the the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
3. Make Sunday dinner (which in our house is always a little bigger, as in dessert, and more flamboyant than the rest of the week) a little smaller, for example: no dessert for starters.
4. Suspend the TV for the day (or a lifetime for that matter.)
5. Fast (Sunday is usually never a fast day-but when the Holy Father calls for a day of penance, is fasting allowed?)
6. Suspend the computer for the day.
--I'm sure y'all can think of more-this is just for starters.

For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world!

Thursday, July 20, 2006


Finally added a few more blogs to the roll. Didn't delete any-although there are a few there I seldom read any more. Note, my blogroll is not necessarily an 'endorsement' of a blog per se, but a list of what I check out regularly-not that I agree with it all-but that I am interested in seeing what they have to say on a regular basis. (Note also to the "moon wanderer"-as requested I finally changed your link designation.)

Random Thoughts

Writing blues

I haven't really been able to write much substantial these past months. I used to do most of my writing (in my head) while driving the 30 miles to and from Mass almost every day. Then when everything was clear-I would put it on paper. Of recent months, this daily trip hasn't been possible for various reasons. I miss the daily Eucharist tremendously; a side effect is a definite lack of writing production.

Of Heat

Yesterday it was 100 degrees (F) in my office by late afternoon until some thunder showers (yes we moved the pups in time) cooled things off. A couple factors contributed to the heat. First, someone turned the window unit off the night before. My office really needs the head start against the heat every day, that is having the office very cool over night. Yesterday when I got to the office in the morning (pre-dawn hours) it was already 80 degrees. Yesterday also (as has been the last week or two) been heavy printing days. (We print a few of our own booklets in house.) This makes the heat rise quickly also. No complaints here. I knew it was hot, but never would have guessed the magnitude. Besides the 'natural' heat here in the office due to the Southern exposure is a real boon in the winter.)


Mrs. Curley and kids went blueberry picking early this week and came back with almost 30 pounds. The idea was to save most for fall and winter-but alas many pounds were consumed that first day back. Of course there were natural but unexpected (by the kids) consequences from all this blueberry consumption. Throughout the day we got calls from the 'lavatory' from the little ones, "Mom, Dad, you gotta see this!" One little one commented, (see if you can figure this one out) "It looks like blueberry number 2!"


Not mine. Our pastor is on his annual trip home to Ireland. We miss him tremendously (one of several reasons that daily Mass is not possible at the moment.) This year we have a priest from Zambia filling in for Father O'Holohan on the weekends. Fr. Willdebronde Mwape is presently chaplain at Providence Hospital in Columbia, but hails from Zambia and was taught by Irish Jesuit missionairies. Of course Fr. O'Holohan spent some 20 years at one of the Irish Jesuit missions in Zambia (albeit a different one than Fr. Mwape). Was glad to see that Fr. Mwape said the prayer to St. Michael after Mass as is our usual custom with Fr. O'Holohan.

So what do you think?

This isn't a cover poll-just an announcement on the pending release of our latest book. You could say that it doesn't relate to history, but the Penny Catechism (this being a revision thereof) carries with it alot of history-alot of conversions. This booklet will be priced under $5 and easily fit in a pack pocket or purse-yet is laid out to be easily readible. It includes a section of prayers at the end. It will be on sale in August (date tbd-soon)

Brother Charles Madden OFM Conv. (author of "Giving Up Stealing for Lent" - RequiemPress) did the revisions. It carries a new Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat.

There will be quantity discounts available-this is the type of book you want at door when the Jehovah Witnesses come around and when Uncle Leonard asks a few questions-but does't want to read a huge volume.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Time again to update the blogroll-but am quite busy for the next few days (Deo gratias!). However, I do want to note that Katolik Shinja has a new blog here. Check it out.

I am constantly amazed how people find new blogs with so much good stuff. I just don't have time to read all I'd like... See for example this post at Hallowed Ground or the stuff TS O'Rama finds for "Spanning the Globe". And then it takes me so long to write something decent also.

I have some RequiemPress news to share real soon and possibly another cover poll (see the first one here); it really helped us get to the final product. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Now it can be told: our dog (Bunny) had her puppies under the back steps. She dug a nice hole, actually unbalancing the steps themselves. We knew it was prone to flooding so we moved a dog house Bunny frequents in the rain near the back steps. We moved her and puppies into the house Thursday night as rain threatened. (It drizzled). Friday we moved her back to her preferred spot under the steps.

Monday I posted on our weekend trip to the Camden library. As we headed back towards Bethune, it was raining a bit-nothing to worry about. But as we neared home, we noticed (the rain had stopped) the puddling was pretty hefty. Earlier I had been teasing daughter about the rain and the puppies as she had been expressing concern all along.

We arrived home and daughter dashed to the back steps. Bunny was in the dog house, but the puppies were under water underneath the steps. Daughter cries for help and starts retrieving puppies (white skirt and up to her elbows in mud and water.) We start patting (to get them to spit up the water) the puppies and rubbing them. All look dead or close to it-but none are. One died shortly. Number 3 son-our dog expert-says that mouth-to-mouth rescuitation on dogs is possible, "just put your mouth around the mouth and nose of the puppy" he tells us. So daughter starts. It was not my favorite thing to do, but with daughter doing it diligently, what else could I do? She and I did this to two pups in particular for about an hour. The rest seemed okay after patting and rubbing. Although within a couple hours another had died. Bunny took all the remaining into the dog house. (Bunny, by the way was crying, shaking and distraught the whole time.)

Of the two we administered mouth-to-mouth, one died that day. In the morning two more were dead (possibly one being the other pup we worked so diligently on.) Five pups left-seemingly healthy-this being now 4 days after the drowning.

My kids have certainly seen their share of animal death around here. I am not an animal lover by any stretch, but here I am hand-feeding rabbits with a syringe and now giving mouth-to-mouth to a dog? I must be crazy. Maybe I should move to the backwoods...

Back to the "Diary"

Have resumed reading "Diary of a Country Priest". (After my brief interlude with Beau Ideal, I also took a gander at How to live in the woods on pennies a day. I think I scared some people around the house. I have no intention of moving to the backwoods-although I do yearn for a multiple-day hiking/camping trip into the mountains. Maybe if I get my work done....)

Interesting little discussion is recorded early on "Diary" between two priests: it is noted that Christ told Judas "the poor you have always with you, but me you have not always with you." in response to Judas' objection to Mary Magdalen "wasting" expensive perfume. Of course we assume Judas just wanted to steal any excess money in the purse-but this money wouldn't have come through him anyway. So what is Judas' concern for the poor? The speaker in "Diary" says it amounts to this (and for all other dishonest like money-holders like Judas):

don't let the hour of mercy strike in vain. You'd be far better to cough up the money you stole, at once, instead of trying to get My apostles worked up over your imaginary financial deals and your charitable enterprises.

While we could easily say, "Oh this applies to the very rich"-don't fool yourself. We are stealing moments from Christ's mission for us daily, and we think we will make it up in the future. "Don't let the hour of mercy strike in vain". Fr. John Hardon SJ (may he rest in peace) was known to say that he strove to make sure he didn't waste one moment of time-to give every moment to God.


A strong city have we;
he sets up walls and ramparts to protect us.
Open up the gates
to let in a nation that is just,
one that keeps faith.

A nation of firm purpose you keep in peace
in peace, for its trust in you.
Trust in the Lord forever!
For the Lord is an eternal Rock.
-Isais 26: 1-4

I read (prayed) this during morning prayer and thought of our country and the wars in the Middle East. Spare your people O Lord. Help us keep faith!

Liturgical Music

Instead of posting here this morning I have been over in the comment boxes at the Wandering Moon discussing music (in Church that is). Join the discussion about how Take and Eat, One Bread, One Body, and I am the Bread of Life compare to say Tantum Ergo, O Salutoris Hostia, and even O Lord I am not Worthy. Does the music matter in church? Does the beat matter? Do the lyrics matter?

While we are talking mostly contemporary vs. traditional type hymns, there are some diversions. For example: is Amazing Grace as appropriate as Faith of our Fathers or Holy God We Praise Thy Name or Praise My Soul the King of Heaven?

Is it all a matter of taste? Or what we relate to?

Note we aren't discussing Gather Us In or that ilk. Go over there and discuss. Here is the original post.

Monday, July 17, 2006

It's days like today I wish I were a writer. If I were a writer, I would get a couple canteens (it is very hot), my walking stick, a dog, some bread, and my day pack (which usually includes a book, the bible, and a notebook, as well as emergency items) and head out for somewhere. (Wish it were the mountains, but I would settle for the cornfields and pastures we have here.) I'd lunch by a stream, and contemplete (read nap) before heading home.

Thus I could say I was writing or getting inspiration-even if I was just taking the day off.

As it is, I have much to do-but occasionally look out my window and yearn for some fresh air.

When to run? When to fight?

Don't be such a coward as to be "brave." Flee!
- (on temptation) St. Josemaria Escriva The Way No. 132

That being said, it is not always an easy concept-especially for the young (especially young men) to grasp. The young believe themselves indestructible and capable of all things. Their optimism can be inspiring-but it also can be tragic. We want to fight the devil and stand up to his lies-but we don't realize that the devil is smarter and stronger than us: that alone, we will fall to his seduction. With God-only then we are strong (recall St. Paul's famous explanation that in his own weakness, that is when he is strongest because God has taken over the cause.) But of course in the heat of the battle, we sometimes forget to rely on God and fall again.

We can fight the devil by running-because the devil only has victory when we fall-not when we flee. We can think of the indian scout coming upon an Apache war party. He doesn't fling himself into battle, he flees, warns, and seeks reinforcements. There is no shame in this, only wisdom and bravery. If we are committed to fighting the devil and his works, even when this means fleeing, this decision itself is one of bravery. So we flee from the devil's temptations to our reinforcements: our guardian angel, the saints, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and to our general, Christ. Once we make the decision, we as soldiers in Christ need to follow the military orders-which include the advice of the saints-such as above.

In other venues, we may stand and fight: praying outside an abortion clinic, picketing a movie, writing a letter to the newspaper etc. Surely we are cooperating with God's grace in these endeavors and not acting alone. But in temptation, the devil seeks to find us when we are alone-when we are not in prayer, when we are tired and ready to fall. Flee!

Beau Ideal

How I spent my weekend... For some reason Saturday chores were pretty much done before Saturday arrived. I suggested a hike at a local state park, but was voted down due to the the heat. We could have watched a video movie, but we have decided to not watch movies (we don't watch regular TV at all) for a few weeks-so that was out. What to do?

We went to the library in Camden. [We are on a county library system. The branch in Bethune has limited hours and is about as big as our living room-limited selection. The good thing is, no matter what branch we borrow from, we can always return it to the Bethune branch.]

But we went with a purpose. Everyone had to get a book out for a project they will complete within the next few weeks. It could be science, craft, etc. I believe I will be seeing some medieval costumes being put together, some shadow box theater, some and backwoods crafts among other things.

I had another special mission. I had to find a play for the family to perform. We decided to find a short play that we could put on together. Everyone wanted to know: who will be the audience? We replied "No one. We are doing this just to do something together." We may actually have to pick two plays as we couldn't find one which met all the criteria (short, proper number of characters, decent story, etc.) The first will be "The Play of St. George", which is a 13th century traditional folk play. This has six players and is really in fact a Christmas play-but we'll do it anyway. Maybe I can add a couple parts to give everyone a line. It will particularly appeal to the boys as there is some sword play in it. If we do a second play, it will come from a book entitled: "Round the Year Plays for Children" and is yet to be determined.

And now to the title of the post...Some readers may be familiar with the book (and several movies) Beau Geste by PC Wren. Beau Geste is one of my all-time favorite adventure stories since I was a kid. I have read it numerous times and love the Gary Cooper movie version. A few years ago I discovered that Beau Geste was the first of a trilogy, the others being Beau Sabreur and Beau Ideal. I read Beau Sabreur a few years ago at the time of my discovery. It was pretty good, not as good as the first, but pretty good. But I never located the last book. Recently however Mrs. Curley ordered it for me through interlibrary-loan. I picked it up on Saturday and finished it last night. (Taking a short vacation from "Diary of a Country Priest".) It was pretty good also. I'm not sure how it stacks up to the original-I am a few years older now and my desire to join the French Foreign Legion for adventure has waned a bit. Supposedly all in the trilogy can stand alone-and this is certainly true for the first two, but after reading the last, I would say that it certainly makes more sense if the first book and possibly the second have been read. These books are books of great adventure, friendship, sacrifice, and brotherly love. (Off-hand I would guess that the proper age is upper teen years.)

Finally, to Mrs. Curley's consternation, my last selection at the library was a book entitled, "How to Live in the Woods on Pennies a Day" by Bradford Angier.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Friday at 4:00

It's 4:00 on a Friday afternoon. I am weary (but happy). I have much to do on a couple books which I'd really like to have released before September. The world (at least in the Middle East) seems to be blowing up.

[I don't know how serious the implications will be, but I know it could be serious. The scenario: Israel incurs against Syria; Iran retaliates; US gets involved; Islamic terrorists the world over have a recruiting field day; etc. US involvement will be welcomed by some in this country. This week's issue of The Wanderer discusses, in, of all places, a piece about Rick Santorum's chances for reelection, the desire of Dispensationalists, (who seem to have Bush's ear) to "bring on Armagedon soon enough so that Christ will come during their lifetimes, and thus allow them to rule for a thousand years with Him on earth." This is a scary prospect. I am not a chicken little (for example: for Y2K I bought one extra gallon of water and an extra can of beans), so in all liklihood things will calm in a few days-but someday it won't calm and we will have all out war between Islam and the West. The question is weather the West will be a Christian West we can die for with honor and pride, or whether we will fight with the secular West just as a matter of self-defence. It will come-but I don't think the opposition will be strong enough for some years for all-out war.]

How's that for an aside. I meant to write about fighting and running (from the devil) and baton twirling (you can't wait for that one-believe me). But am too weary. Maybe before Monday.

From Bethany, the small holding in Bethune...Oremus pro invicem!

More on Youth/CCD programs

Yesterday among friends, we were talking about this post on youth and CCD and it was commented that a parish youth program needs more than just an orthodox CCD class: that Catholic young people, especially today (and in especially also in the South where Catholics are scarce), need fellowship also.

My original post was more directed in reaction to those youth programs which try to hide the truth under so much sugar-coating and gimmick in fear that young people won't respond to Truth which is counter to our secular culture. On the contrary, young people will respond to challenges. Yet those challenges cannot simply take place in a lecture. Love is the necessary ingredient!

Man is a social being. We work out our salvation-not in a vacuum unto ourselves-but in the world, amongst our family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, etc. Young people need the support of a Christian community no less (and even more-so) than the rest of us.

I am immediately reminded St. James' admonishment:

And one of you say to them: Go in peace, be ye warmed and filled; yet give them not those things that are necessary for the body, what shall it profit?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

My Path to Heaven

This is an excellent book (Sophia Institute Press) to use as a family. All ages can find value in the pictures and 'mini-retreats'. We have used it on vacation, during Sundays in Lent, etc. And you can use over and over again-as the kids get older they will gain new insights in the topics.

Basically, there are 12 topics which roughly follow an Ignatian retreat. Each topic has a wonderfully and very detailed pictorial. The idea is that you look at the picture for a minute or so. Then you read 6-7 paragraphs about the topic and how the picture relates. Finally you go back and study the picture. Ideally this second study of the picture, with the background provided in the text, will help the reader contemplate the subject at their own level.

In our family we usually discuss how the picture relates to the topic and what we see in it. For instance, one chapter may depict Hell at the bottom of the picture and Heaven at the top. In between are pictures or various paths one may take in life. Riches and pleasure would fall towards Hell. Lives of sacrifice would lay close to Heaven.

We have 4 copies so we can have two people to a book when we pull it out. Recommended reading....

Carmelite Sprituality

I am 'sitting in' on a Discalced Carmelite (secular order) study group which has just started at our parish. I really am not sure if Carmelite spirituality is my spirituality, but then again I have never really investigated it-as I have never read any of the writings of John of the Cross or Teresa of Avila. Perhaps I should be reading up the archives of Floscarmeli?

In the past, the plan of life/spiritiality of Opus Dei and the writings of its founder St. Josemaria Escriva (you may have noticed quotes from him here from time to time) seems to make the most sense and be the best fit for me. (I grew up near Boston and frequented Opus Dei centers in high school and later after graduate school.) As you can see, my copy of "The Way" is well-worn.

And, uh, by the way-make that 10 puppies... I think that should be it. Come on by in a few weeks-I'll have a deal you can't pass up.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Update: Am told the litter is now 6. ur make that 8...

Okay, so we are having trouble raising rabbits and chickens-but dogs don't seem to be a problem (unfortunately). One of our dogs is having puppies as I write (2 here, more to come?) We were in the market to get rid of a couple dogs anyway-I guess now we have our work really cut out for us. Anyone want a puppy? (or any kind of dog for that matter.)


Yesterday I was in the city doing research for the cover of an upcoming book mentioned in this post.

It has been years since I looked at old newspapers on microfilm. I was specifically searching for headlines. Here are two that I copied.

But I also read the stories. It is fascinating to me to read the original newspaper stories-compare them to what would have been written today, etc.

It is different to read about something from contemporaries than from a historical viewpoint. And it is different reading about something as it happens than reading about it from a contemporary looking back. I guess it is the historian/researcher in me.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Meaning of 'oremus pro invicem'

Since a good number of people come to this site in a google search for the meaning of "oremus pro invicem", I thought I would post it (again-I'm sure I have done it in the past.)

Oremus pro invicem translates Let us pray for each other.

I first saw it on the ordination card of a priest in the diocese of Boston who is very close to our family. Since then we have made it an addendum to our family morning prayer. Hopefully we take it to heart and do pray for each other throughout the day.

Creating an island?

Based on this quote from Benedict XVI:

Since a consumer culture exists that wants to prevent us from living in accordance with the Creator's plan, we must have the courage to create islands, oases, and then great stretches of land of Catholic culture where the Creator's design is lived out.

... a discussion ensues over at Disputations on what this means...Do you create this island within your heart and present circumstances, or form/ join a community, or what?

Part of what spawned the post referenced, was this post which argues that it can't be done in suburbia-advocating a more radical life-change. (Which, personally I find very attractive.)

But at the same time, even in suburbia, God calls us to a radical life-change. Early Christians in Rome did not all depart to the desert. The island can be in the midst of pagan society-and in fact often pagan society can only be evangelized if the those island beacons are present in their midst. And note, whether we depart for South American missions or live in Manhattan or in Surburbia, USA-we are all called to reject consumerism and live a spirit of poverty.

At the same time others are called to literally up and move to lands far away and live a life of service to the poor. But we must remember that the poor are all around us-whether they be materially poor or spiritually poor.

In my mind, the answer is in vocation: that each person and each family has a particular and unique vocation. Discernment begins with prayer and within a family, prayer with and for your spouse... and then there must be time for long discussions based on that prayer-without forgetting family talents and circumstances.

The Clumsy Laborer

To criticize, to destroy is not difficult; the clumsiest laborer knows how to drive his pick into the noble and finely-hewn stone of a cathedral. To construct-that is what requires the skill of a master. (St. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer-The Way #456)

I see myself (as I read this piece this morning) as that clumsiest laborer-yet those who criticize every idea, like myself-we think we are masters at picking out flaws and thus are saving people from their mistakes. At the same time-my own ideas (because they have gone through my own internal review) must be free of all flaw.

Oh how hard it must be to live with me!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Msgr. Roy Aiken-Rest in Peace

A wonderful priest died last week. Unfortunately we weren't told until today. Here are snippet of his obituary:

Msgr. Aiken was born November 28, 1918, in Greenville, South Carolina. A graduate of Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama, Msgr. received his theological degree from Saint Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, Maryland. He was ordained a priest in 1946 by Most Rev. Emmet M. Walsh, Bishop of Charleston at St. Francis de Sales Church in New York City. During the course of his service in the Diocese of Charleston, Msgr. Aiken served as pastor in Walterboro and Aiken as well as pastor at St. Peter Church in Columbia, St. John in Summerville and St. Mary, Help of Christians, in Aiken. He was also secretary to Bishop Russell in Charleston, first editor of the Diocesan newspaper, The Catholic Banner, as well as serving on the faculties of Ursuline High School in Columbia, Cardinal Newman High School in Columbia, and St. Angela Academy in Aiken. Msgr. Aiken served as Director of Finances for the Diocese of Charleston, on the Board of Directors of the North American Liturgical Association and as President of the Summerville Chamber of Commerce. Following retirement in 1993, he served at Our Lady of The Hills Catholic Church, St. Joseph Catholic Church and Cardinal Newman High School in Columbia. (Read the rest here)

I knew Msgr. Aiken in his later years when he helped out at St. Joseph's in Columbia. I recall he was a very good confessor. He was a very good homilist also-he knew how to use Church history to illustrate his exhortations from the pulpit. He was a good priest. We pray he is enjoying his reward.

Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis. Requiescant in pace. Amen.


Last week People of the Book mentions the classic "The Diary of a Country Priest" by Georges Bernanos. I, in the midst of looking for something new to pick up, decide to re-read this book, having read it many years ago. Just as I finish the first chapter, I read that Mr. Culbreath has just finished same said book. I comment on this and also comment that while I read it years ago, it had no particular impact on me. Mr. Culbreath wisely suggests that the time of life when we read this book impacts the impact if you will. (my paraphrase).

Looking back (and after reading a bit more of the 'Diary') I can readily see this. I was fairly newly out of graduate school when my sister sent me two books-one "Late Have I Loved Thee" and "The Diary of a Country Priest". At the time I was tinkering with a vocation to the priesthood. I recall after reading "Diary" that I thought it was not such a good recruiting tool for the priesthood as is the movie "Going My Way". Yet maybe my indifferenct to "Diary" was due to an immature spiritual life? Already, just a few chapters in, I am reading it with new enthusiasm.

On the other hand, "Late Have I Loved Thee" was probably the first fiction I had ever read which had a spiritual impact on me. Oh no, that is certainly not true. Dickens' "Great Expectations" certainly had a profound effect on me in 7th and 8th grade-"Tale of Two Cities" to a lesser extent a few years later. Maybe it would be more accurate to say that both "Late" and "Diary" were the first books I read that would be considered both fiction and spiritual reading.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Our oldest boys have been helping our neighbor pick squash and corn in his fields. It has been a great experience for them. Our neighbor is in his upper 80's and doesn't walk too well anymore. But he grows corn, squash, tomatoes-you name it-to keep busy. His wife passed away almost 2 years ago. The boys just eat up his stories of World War II and life on the farm. Today he let them ride his tractor (from what I hear, I don't know if he'll do that again.) Good neighbors are a blessing.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Here is a review of the Da Vinci Code (film) by my sister.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Dog Days

The last 3 days have probably been the hottest of the year so far. Today we have a respite-only 72 (F) and light rain.

In keeping with the quote from my earlier post, I am working today on our new book about Thomas More (among other things). I am hoping it will be ready before Thanksgiving. It is more of a sketch than a full-fledged biography. It pulls most of its information from some of the early biographies of More; that is those by William Roper (his son-in-law), Crescre More (grandson), and Stapleton. Of course there have been some recent wonderful and in-depth bios of Thomas More (one by James Monti and another by Gerard Wegemer-see Amazon sidebar) which pull details of his spiritual life from his writings. Our book won't do much of that. We will add a few new footnotes to clarify or bring up-to-date some things (the original was written around the turn of the century) and possibly to add a little color. Maybe I will try to find a contemporary Thomas More expert to write a new introduction??? That would be nice.

Hopefully this book will fill a niche as very readable but brief (probably around 100 pages) introduction to Thomas More. I am excited about it...

A prayer...

Received this prayer written by St. Thomas More in the mail yesterday from my sister.

Give me the Grace Good Lord, to set the world at naught; to set my mind fast upon Thee and not to hang upon the blast of men's mouths. To be content to be solitary. Not to long for worldly company,but utterly to cast off the world and rid my mind of the business thereof.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Weekend

One thing I discovered this weekend was that if you don't count ball drops, lost balls, and the occasional "I'm going to take that one again", your golf score can improved by some 20-30 strokes. I only golf once every year or two-usually with my younger brother. Played 18 holes twice this weekend at the Bethune Country Club-"it hasn't changed since 1962"-(really) with my brother. Made one par (if you don't count things as defined above). Yesterday it was probably 105 out there, but as I told Mrs. Curley we brought plenty of drink (Miller Lite-I think) to keep us hydrated.

It was great to have my brother's family here for the weekend. My godson was a favorite with everyone. We haven't had an infant around the house for several years. The youngest kids (and some of the older ones) just gathered around young Brendon the whole weekend.

They are leaving to go back North this morning. Maybe we can get up there this year....

Other highlights of the weekend? Went to the Isle of Palms outside of Charleston on Monday. The water was as warm as a bathtub, but there was a breeze, so it was a wonderful day. Fireworks and (finally) "Master and Commander" last night. A lot of conversation-which is one of my favorite things to do-and a few family rosaries with my brother's family:always a blessing.

Looks like I've missed a few bloggers from my sidebar signing off temporarily or permanently over the last few days. Will have to catch up-but first I need to get back to work.

From Bethany, the small holding in Bethune...Oremus pro invicem!