Monday, December 31, 2007

A Plug-but not for me

Received an advance review copy of Embryo-A Defense of Human Life this weekend. It is due to be released on January 8th. I will be say more once I have read it, but I urge you to consider even before I give it a review. Disclaimer: one of the authors is a great friend of ours-but this only enhances my recommendation. I will post something more when I have actually read the book.

Oremus pro invicem!

The Weekend

Back to work in earnest this morning, even though I get a short reprieve tomorrow. My office is a disaster area due to leftover present wrapping materials, among other things. So first order of business (after deleting thousands of SPAM) will be to get the office back in working order.

The weekend was grand. We did some painting (at someone else's house) most of Saturday. On Sunday our Godchild's family came over to help us celebrate Christmas. It poured rain all day. (We needed it badly but with 13 children in our small house, it could have had better timing. Although, for 13 children, it never got too loud or out of control. Come to find out both sets of parents gave the same speech just before we got together.)

It got so warm that inside the house it was in the mid-70's. I refuse to turn on the AC on 30 December no matter how hot. But we couldn't turn on the ceiling fan due to the tinsel on the tree, it would have blown everywhere. (I hear it will be in the teens by weeks end. )

It was a day of great conversation, Guinness, pork roast, sweet potatoes and apples, cheese cake, and the family rosary. (I can't explain how good it is to say the rosary with friends.) What more could one ask for?

Everyone (except moi) is sleeping-in this morning.

I don't know what the plans for tonight are. Usually we do some dancing and singing-but I can't imagine us trying to stay up til midnight.

It has been a good year.

Oremus pro invicem!

Friday, December 28, 2007


December 12th: I and my family are heading for CCD. It is approximately 5:20 PM-dark enough that headlights are necessary, but not pitch black. We are traveling at just over 45 mph, and while traffic is light, cars are ahead of us, behind us, and heading towards us on this country road. We are traveling with the traffic, not passing and not being passed. It is not our usual route, but I have traveled this particular way many, many times.

As we pass the State Trooper on the side of the road, parked in a slight gully just after a fence, I comment to Mrs. Curley that he has picked a good position to catch speeders. His silver car with minimum markings almost looks abandoned sitting there.

As we drive on, I look in my rear view mirror and tell Mrs. Curley, "Well he got somebody, cause here he comes." Mrs. Curley asks whether he could be coming after us. Confidently I say, "We're 1 MPH over the speed limit-going slower than most. He has no beef with us." ....

We pull over and are pulled over. As the State Trooper approaches the Mini-Van we are trying to remember where the registration is for the particular car. He asks me if I know why he pulled me over. I reply I have no idea. He says he clocked me going over 45 in a 35 MPH zone. I say 35 MPH-where did that happen? He says he was just several yards past the 35 MPH sign. I tell him that I have traveled this way many times and have never seen a 35 MPH sign. He has compassion and writes the ticket for 44 MPH in the 35 zone-only two points.

But I am curious. Mrs. Curley didn't see the sign either. We are late and can't tarry, but I determine we will come this way again and investigate.

On our next trip out this way, during daylight hours, I see the 35 MPH sign-it is way off the road. So I take a little survey in the area. Note, that while I will call the roads 'highways', they are 2-lane country roads, mostly with speed limits of 55 MPH unless there is a sharp turn or you approaching a town.

From Bethune to Kershaw on highway 341, there are 3 speed limit signs. Measured from the center of the sign to the pavements, they are as follows:

55 mph: 8.5 feet from the road
45 mph: 9.25 feet from the road
35 mph sign: 8 feet from the road.

Leaving Kershaw towards Heath Springs on Rt 521 N the sign distances are as follows (note while doing these measurements I saw the same State Trooper pull over two people):

55 mph sign: 8.5 feet
End School Zone: 8 feet
Reduced Speed Ahead: 9.25 feet
35 mph sign: 17 feet!

This last was the one that got me. You look for traffic postings at a certain spot-this isn't the spot. Passing this sign at night, it isn't even visible unless you have your high beams on.

I tried to prepare my case by looking on the internet for laws or guidelines on posting of traffic signs, but came up empty. But I did not that the back of my ticket states: "The primary aim of traffic law enforcement is to reduce traffic accidents, injuries and deaths through fair, impartial, and reasonable enforcement of traffic laws." So last night, I went to my court date... every one waiting in the room for their hearing was caught on the same stretch of road.

I presented my evidence much the way I presented it above. The judge told me he didn't know what the law was about how far off the road a speed limit sign could be an still be enforceable.

I replied to be "fair" and "reasonable" that at least it had to be seeable without breaking the law-therefore during dark hours it had to be seeable without resorting to your high beams-and this sign didn't qualify.

The judge suggested that I send an email to the highway department, then told me to pay my ticket. I replied that if, (as the notice on the back of the ticket stated), the purpose of the 35 mph zone was to "reduce accidents, injuries and death" then the sign should be moved to the same spot as all the other traffic signs-but that if it was a source of revenue then they best leave it where it was.

Oremus pro invicem!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Taking it easy

Merry Christmas!

I am taking it easy for a couple days. Tomorrow I go back to work for at least a day or two before breaking for the feast of Our Lady.

Christmas here was peaceful and fun. Friends have visited and we have just really been enjoying ourselves.

A couple notes: I received two books for Christmas: Joseph Pearce's Small is Still Beauful (economies as if families mattered) and Swords Around the Crost (the nine years war) by Dr. Timothy T. O'Donnell. I have wanted to read the latter for many years-but never had a copy. The former came out in 2006 and looks interesting. I am looking forward to both, but must finish Great Expectations and Spe Salvi first (okay, I am cheating an already started "Small").


I have to go to court to defend myself against a speeding ticket this evening. I will probably report on it here tomorrow. I have to leave early to make some measurements before appearing in court. I should have requested a jury trial-but had to make my request in writing before today. The timing was bad. The ticket came on December 12th, and between then and Christmas I was out of town for a week and then the final of preparation before Christmas took priority. I'll tell the whole story-with the final outcome after my evening court date.

Our Lady of Joyful Hope-pray for us! ... Oremus pro invicem!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve

Here we are. I am sure my last post for a few days. The projects in the workshop are either finished, or are in the very final stages of completion. The tree is finally fully decorated-and boy it does look good. Mrs. Curley and the kids have outdone themselves in decorating the house. I have never seen it so festive.

Today's schedule is pretty full, but doable.

I will be in my office wrapping presents while listening to 78 rpm records on my 'picnic' phonograph, as has become somewhat of a tradition. I will slip down to the workshop a couple times to put a last coat on my projects. There is a quick run to the post office and a longer quick run to the grocery store for some last minute items in works for either Mrs. Curley or myself.

I believe there will be baking going on in the kitchen most of the day.

Sometime this afternoon we will have the (for want of a better name) family forgiveness. Usually we do this earlier in Advent, but time has crept up on us.

I need to give a couple of the boys haircuts, and then we will go Christmas carolling at the store downtown Bethune. We will come home to cookies and hot chocolate-and then bed for the kids.

If the wrapping is not done, Mrs. Curley and I will finish it up. If it is done, I may sit down and have an early Guinness-which is what I am sure the angels do when they finish singing on Christmas Eve.

May all of you find the peace the Christ-child brings in your heart! Merry Christmas!

Our Lady of Joyful Hope-pray for us! ... Oremus pro invicem!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Yesterday's work was quite a challenge. I am now in full-time workshop mode (unless someone orders a book). Mrs. Curley was out most of the day alone, and I left the kids cleaning the house. (They did a good job.)

I was trying to finish up a present (a rosary box) which I considered about 70% done. Well, the box didn't cooperate-or maybe it was me. I made a couple small mistakes, and in trying to fix them made a couple bigger ones.

A trip to the hardware store and a little creative engineering, and I got it done. I put on a final coat of finish this morning. Once dry, I am on to the next project-but a day late.

The next project is a bookcase for my youngest daughter. It is sort of a tradition. I have made bookcases for each of my other daughters around the time they were 6-8 years old. Now it is the youngest's turn. Each one has a different design, but each is painted pink and has a handpainted notation "-----'s Books" on the headpiece.

I think I have just enough time to do this. I need to get it made today and maybe primed. That leaves Sunday to paint it, and Monday for a second coat or to just an extra day in case something ruins my other plans.


We took our purple ribbons off the Christmas tree yesterday and put some lights on. Two strings of lights didn't work, so we need to get a couple new strings today before we finish decorating the tree.

Our tree is usually pretty full of decorations. We were afraid we wouldn't have any tinsel (or iscicles as I call them) this year as the local stores haven't carried it. But when I opened the decoration box from last year, lo and behold Mrs. Curley found 4 boxes of tinsel. We'll finish the tree as soon as we get some new lights up there.

Well, as you can see I have a full day ahead of me.

Oremus pro invicem!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Even in the oldern days!

More thoughts from Spe Salvi.

He (Christ-ed) himself is both the way and the truth, and therefore he is also the life which all of us are seeking. He also shows us the way beyond death; only someone able to do this is a true teacher of life. The same thing becomes visible in the image of the shepherd. As in the representation of the philosopher, so too through the figure of the shepherd the early Church could identify with existing models of Roman art. There the shepherd was generally an expression of the dream of a tranquil and simple life, for which the people, amid the confusion of the big cities, felt a certain longing. (my emphasis)

Who knew that people longed for "the simple life" even in the times of early Christianity? Without reading too much into this: why is a rural life viewed throughout the ages as being more peaceful and desirable? Is is innate in us, or just a longing for the greener grass on the other side of the fence

Maybe I exaggerate, but for every computer crisis at the office in the city, there would seem to be a dog in the chicken pen in the country. Perhaps the difference is that in the country you (can) view the sunset every night from your back porch, while in the city you are guaranteed to be fighting traffic at the same time.

I guess (one) other difference is the quiet. I noted the other day when I was in the outskirts of DC all the 'people' noise I could hear from inside my sister's apartment. I am sure (and know) there are other differences-but which are those we envision when we long for a simple, tranquil life in the country?

Our Lady of Joyful Hope-pray for us! ... Oremus pro invicem!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

More on Hope

Remember that I wrote on December 3rd of this year: "A priest once told me that Hope is Faith in action-which confused me even more."

Reading Spe Salvi does give me some consolation, or should I say, understanding here. The first part Benedict spends on connecting Faith and Hope. I think the connection finally hits home for me when I read this:

The fact that this future exists changes the present; the present is touched by future reality, and thus the things of the future spill over into those of the present and those of the present into those of the future.

Put it this way: I have Faith that God and Heaven and Hell exists and that the Son of God died for my sins and rose again from the dead, opening the gates of Heaven. My actions now, help determine my future. When I commit mortal sin, I am projecting a future in Hell; as I live a virtuously, I am working on a future in Heaven. My hope comes from Faith, but it is a hope of attaining salvation from Christ's sacrifice and in cooperation with it. This last is the "action" part. I must cooperate with God to attain the salvation Christ won for me.

Now it makes sense to me. (Hope I got it right.)

Oremus pro invicem!


The beard that is. Couldn't make it til March. Every time I looked in the mirror, I couldn't recognize myself. And besides, after nearly two decades of not having to deal with combing hair, I found myself having to comb my beard. Enough! I said.

Oremus pro invicem!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Was reading Al Kresta's via TS and saw : Left To Tell : Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust. I haven't read it, but I was with my mother this weekend. She told me that she opened it very late at night and couldn't put it down; she stayed up into the wee hours of the morning reading it. Two other people she knows who read it, related the same type experience-they couldn't put it down.

She's going to loan it to me next....

Great Expectations

Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts.

One of the many lines of wisdom from the Dickens classic.

As I read GE again, I don't find myself reliving the past so much as discovering anew. Here's another piece of wisdom:

So, throughout our life, our worst weaknesses and meannesses are usually committed for the sake of the people whom we most despise.

Isn't it true that we spend more time trying to impress (sometimes at the expense of those we love) those we dislike?

Oremus pro invicem!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Finally Home!

I flew out of here last Thursday to help family member move and get settled in with my Mother outside of Boston. Returned this afternoon. We (my brother and I) dodged a lot of bullets (snowstorms) in our travels. For a while there on Friday morning, as a snowstorm was belting the Northeast, I feared I would be alone in the moving effort. But God smiled on our endeavor. All airplanes were on time and all vehicles worked as advertised.

Last time my brother and I moved with a U-haul trailer, midway throught the trip we found that the pin holding the trailer had broken. We substituded a piece of wire or paperclip, or something for the broken pin and gingerly finished the move. This time there were no such problems.

I came home to a newly painted bedroom-Mrs. Curley and all the kids worked on it together. Fantastic job.

Now, Christmas Eve coming on, I must get into Santa's workshop to finish some projects....

Oremus pro invicem!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Baptism & Hope

I have been reading (but not finished) Spe Salvi. Early on the Holy Father writes:

...the classical form of the dialogue with which the rite of Baptism expressed the reception of an infant inot the community of believers and the infant's rebirth in Christ. First of all the priest asked what name the parents had chosen for the child and then he continued with the question: "What do you ask of the Church?" Answer: "Faith". And what does faith give you?" "Eternal life."

It just occurred to me that maybe the classical form would make parents take the sacrament of Baptism more seriously. Typically in the present day, when we are asked "What do you ask of the Church?", the answer given is: "Baptism". But what if you are not well catechised and the Baptism you seek is more for cultural reasons? Would the classical form make a parent think and draw them and their child deeper into the faith?

Our Lady of Joyful Hope-pray for us! ... Oremus pro invicem!

City living

I was staying my sister this past Thursday evening at her apartment just outside of Washington DC. I expected traffic and conjestion etc. (after all I have been a suburban/city dweller most of my adult life.)

But as we were sitting around talking, I would hear a car door, or cars driving by, or the apartment door across the hall, and I would get up as if someone was coming.

In the country, when I hear a car door, it means visitors. In the city you ignore it. It took me a while to adjust to the new environment.

Our Lady of Joyful Hope-pray for us! ... Oremus pro invicem!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Advent music

It seems that the only Advent hymn I ever knew was "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" - which of course is really part of the "O Antiphons" sung between 17 December and 23 December. (And of course everyone sings the "last" verse-the one for 23 Dec.-first). My recollection may be wrong, but the impression I have is that we sang it every week of Advent in the past.

These past two weeks we have sung "O Come Divine Messiah" at Sunday Mass. It is an absolutely beautiful hymn:

Our Lady of Joyful Hope-pray for us! ... Oremus pro invicem!

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Will be on the road off and on the next few days-the travel method lending itself to READING! So I have printed out a copy of Pope Benedict's Spe Salvi and will also be toting Great Expectations.

Oremus pro invicem!


At Mass on Sunday, Father was pitching the Advent Penance service at our parish. In the bulletin insert, he always has a "Nourish Your Faith" column-often pertaining to the homily or coming feast. This past Sunday, the following was one of the stories in the column (I hope he doesn't mind me using it):

"Why should I go to Confession? I've nothing to confess." A stocky teenager said this to me. I could see no sign of a halo. He seemed sincere. I thought of the old theological dictum, "The greatest door into Heaven is ignorance." Yet, some disillusionment seemed necessary. "Do you mean to claim that you have committed no sins, not even the smallest, since last year?" His reply was, "I guess not." Rather ambiguous!

Later I told this story to students in one of my classes without revealing the identity of the speaker. They roared laughing, "Lies, lies! He's just telling lies." It is amazing how little self-knowledge we can have.

Sensitivity to sin comes from closeness to God. In the movie Hunchback of Notre Dame, Quasimodo gazes on Esmeralda in wonder. He exclaims, "Until I saw how beautiful you are, I never realized how ugly I am." The brightness of God illumines all the secret corners of our hearts.

We feel like Peter after the miraculous catch of fish in Luke 5:8. He fell on his knees before Jesus and said, "Go away from me, Lord! I am a sinful man." The reply of Jesus was, "Don't be afraid. From now on you will be catching men.

Good stuff... Oremus pro invicem!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Number 3 Son, Number 1 Poet

I found a notebook on my desk this morning from son Matthew. It included the following:

The Our Father

Jesus taught us how to pray
"Our Father who art in heaven"
Jesus taught us how to say,
"Hallowed be Thy name"
Jesus gave us His own prayer

"Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done"
To save us from Satan's lair.
"On earth as it is in heaven"
This prayer is Holy as it seems
"Give us this day our daily bread"
Symbling God a great sunbeam
"And forgive us our trespasses"
This is how the prayer goes
"As we forgive those who trespass against us"
Pray to win over all foes
"And lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil. Amen!"

and this one (no doubt influenced by the Animi Christi which is prayed aloud by our pastor after every Mass):

Jesus Christ, Teach Me!
Eternal Father, Help me!
Saviour of the world, Save me!
United in three, deliver me!
Supreme Being, take me!

and this:

The Sacred Host

The priest elevates the Sacred Host
The people watch and pray.
Christ is who they worship most
And sing unto this day.

There are 17 more such poems in a notebook on my desk. It's funny, ever since I started publishing books, my kids have been writing in hopes I will give them a contract.

Oremus pro invicem!

I was looking at a secular history book used in the local public schools the other day. Understand that public school history books used today are a cross-pollination of a Protestant view and a secular view of the world.

I turned to the Spanish conquest of Mexico in the text. It talked of Cortes' greed and the defeat of the native Aztecs. It never once mentioned the Aztecs' human sacrifices or the their worship of a demon-god. It made several references to Cortes' greed for gold.

Yet these are some of the words of Cortes to Montezuma as he cleanses the temple of the demon-god, trusting his little band to the true God in the face of thousands of Aztecs:

"I have often asked you not to sacrifice any more souls to your gods, who are deceiving you, but you haven not been willing to do so. We have come to beg you to give us leave t remove them and put up Our Lady, Santa Maria, and a cross. If you do not give permission, thy (indicating his seven men) will do so anyway, and I would not like them to kill any priests."

(and then after the refusal by Montezuma) "Oh God! Why doest thou permit the devil to be so grossly honored in this land? Accept, O Lord, that we may serve Thee in this Land."

(Finally, as Cortes strikes the idol with a metal bar) "We must risk something for God."

Are these the words of a man greedy for gold? (All quotes taken from Dr. Warren Carroll's "Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Conquest of Darkness.")

Today as we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, we should remember that without the service of Cortes, the native peoples of Mexico would not have been ready for the visit from our Lady.

It is also worth noting (to my knowledge) that of all the Indians in North America, only those in Mexico converted to Catholicism in great numbers. That is the power of Our Lady!

Our Lady of Guadalupe-Our Lady of Joyful Hope, pray for us!

Oremus pro invicem!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

What's going on ...

Today the first Christmas present should be finished in the shop. There is another in progress (approximately 70% done), and at least two more to start-although there are at least 2 additionaly projects which I'd like to get done. I think I should start in September instead of December next year.

A review is up at for Two Towers by John Meehan (on special discount til 20 December, by the way.) Here's a piece of the review:

The two towers in the title refer to faith and morals and how both are necessary. Meehan reminds us of the power of the sacrament of Baptism and the necessity of strong catechetical instruction. He explains how there's a bit of amnesia going both ways in the "culture wars" within the American Catholic church: the de-Christianized who have forgotten who they are and what they've been given, and the more orthodox Catholics who have forgotten who the de-Christianized are and what they've been given.

Of course, you can buy it here .

There is so much good stuff at The Bride and the Dragon I never have time to read it all. For example, look at today's lead article: (here) on living simply and living wages. And then go down and read John Paul II - the man I loved from last week-if you get that far. There is a lot in between you can get stuck on.

Drank another glass of skim milk last night-and still didn't notice a difference.

One of our parishioners brought a beautiful picture of our Lady on the Tilma back from Mexico and it now hangs in our Church. We have a substantial Hispanic population at our parish. I wish I was there to see their faces on Saturday when they came for Mass. The image will be dedicated on tomorrow's feast. We plan to be there.

Our Lady of Joyful Hope-pray for us! ... Oremus pro invicem!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Movie Night

Last evening Mrs. Curley and I sat down to watch a musical comedy: "If I Had My Way" starring Bing Crosby and child-star Gloria Jean. It was enjoyable; a nice movie, but not a top ten selection by any means. For me, one of the highlights was Bing singing the title song. He is young in the movie and has his full range available. It is a ballad seemingly made for him. (Although mostly I had heard it sung by the Mills Brothers in the past.)

But it wasn't Bing's singing that almost brought tears to my eyes. It was Gloria Jean singing "My Little Grey Home in the West." It caught me off guard; I hadn't heard the song for many years, but I associate it with a happy dream-that I now realize I am living.

The picture above is from the movie as she begins to sing. And the lyrics are below.


When the golden sun sinks in the hills
And the toil of a long day is o'er
Though the road may be long, in the lilt of a song
I forget I was weary before
Far ahead, where the blue shadows fall
I shall come to contentment and rest
And the toils of the day will be all charmed away
In my little grey home of the west

There are hands that will welcome me in
There are lips I am burning to kiss
There are two eyes that shine just because they are mine
And a thousand things other men miss
It's a corner of heaven itself
Though it's only a tumble-down nest
But with love brooding there, why no place can compare
With my little grey home in the west

Oremus pro invicem!

Virginia Pine

Well we got our tree this weekend. It is a bit early for us. We usually get the tree after number 2 son's birthday on the 16th. This is risky business around here. Every year it has been suspenseful: have the tree-sellers overbought or underbought? We have had years where we picked up a grand tree for FREE and we've had years where we have paid top dollar as there were few trees to be found.

This year we decided to take the stress out of the anticipation and buy early. Now this is can be risky itself. This year the tree stands were up the week before Thanksgiving around here. These are usually Fraser Furs which have been shipped in-they don't grow below certain elevations. So by December 8th (the day we bought our tree) most of the trees available had been cut several weeks before.

Now that might be okay if you are a Protestant who believes Christmas ENDS on December 25th and throw their tree out ont he 25th or 26th-as is the custom around here.

But if you are Catholic and plan on having your tree up during the REAL Christmas season, then these Fraser Furs available now just won't make it to January 6th or beyond (we often have our tree up until the Presentation on 2 February.)

What to do? We went to Pa-Pa John's Christmas tree farm on Route 903, about 20 miles up the road. He had cut Fraser Furs from North Carolina, but he also had a nice selection of 4 other types of trees which were still in the ground, ready to be freshly cut to order.

We loved the Leyland Cypress. They are green with good shape, and don't shed much. But I am not sure their branches could take all our ornaments and decorations. The Leyland cypress don't have that pine smell (or the "Christmas smell" as one daughter put it.)

We finally selected a Virginia Pine (the picture is NOT ours-just a VA pine photo clipped from the internet). It is not as full as the Fraser Furs and the Leland Cypress-but it is a big and long-needled pine with the 'smell of Christmas'.

This tree is the biggest we've had since moving to the country.

Pa-Pa John's Christmas tree farm was great place to buy the tree. The prices were reasonable in comparison to everyone else's and the people very friendly. I would recommend them if you are in the area....

AND we are doing something different this year. Mrs. Curley is going to put purple ribbons on the tree. When it comes time to decorate the tree, the purple will be removed and the Christmas decorations put on.

I'll let you know how it works out.

Our Lady of Joyful Hope-pray for us! ... Oremus pro invicem!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Midlands Holy Family Fund

Way down on my blogroll is a blog called The Midlands Holy Family Fund. While this is not my blog per se, I am in charge of its update and administration. I think I have mentioned this organization here before, but let me give the 5 second recap (if you want the full story, read the blog entries at the website).

Midlands Holy Family Fund was started to help families in the local community (of Columbia, SC and surrounding area) who need temporary financial assistance due to medical situations or loss of job. Some organizations won't help you unless you loose everything. We wanted to help stabilize family finances and keep the family together while the family deals with the present crisis and finds their way out.

The first family MHFF helped was a family with 11 children. The father was diagnosed with MS and eventually had to retire early. We supported this family with a monthly stipend while the mother went back to school for a nursing degree. MHFF filled the gap while the mother was in school and the father's Social Security disability retirement was being processed (which can easily take a year or more.)

Assistance from MHFF may come as a one-time check or as a monthly stipend reviewed regularly-depending on the type of assistance needed and crisis encountered. Families who apply for MHFF help must have a plan to get back on their feet. Most of the families we have helped have been referred to us by the local Catholic parishes. I think the idea was for everyone in the Catholic community to give a little each month to support each other. This ideal is played out by some, but we also rely on larger donors.

So far, I believe that 100% of donors contributions have gone to help needy families-the board members have paid for all mailings, registration fees, and the like.

Why do I mention all this now? I am about to issue the MHFF Fall/Winter 'o7 newsletter, and I have been updating the website these past weeks, including putting on a PayPal link. (By the way, in the picture on the website, I am the guy with wrinkled pants. I would phot0-shop the wrinkles, but an updated picture with our spiritual advisor is due any day now.)

So even though the Midlands Holy Family Fund is not local to most of my readers here, if you want to give some dough to a worthy organization as we prepare for Christmas and can't find one near you-then by all means, feel free to donate to the Midlands Holy Family Fund.

Check out the website and then open your heart (and your pocketbook)!

Our Lady of Joyful Hope-pray for us! ... Oremus pro invicem!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

I am a Milk lover!

For years I would drink nothing but whole milk. I had never even tasted anything less. Well, a couple months ago we started buying 2% milk. I never noticed the difference-even though I was looking for one. Then last week I had some 1% by mistake-and I never noticed the difference. Last night, looking for something to wash down a peanut butter cracker, I poured a glass of skim milk (girls' milk as the boys call it-not due to my influence I am sure) as it was the only milk around-and I noticed no difference.

I expected at least the texture to differ if not the taste, as texture is part of the milk experience.

Is it getting old (taste buds deteriorating)? Or was there never a difference?

A great unanswered question....

Our Lady of Joyful Hope-pray for us! ... Oremus pro invicem!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A review!

Russell Shaw's Catholic Laity in the Mission of the Church is one of our most popular titles. It now sports a review on Amazon by Thomas M. Loarie (here). Here's an excerpt:

The Second Vatican Council marked the great divide in the history of the Church in modern times. Vatican II, concerned with the growing gap between the Church and the world, focused on the participation of the laity in the Church's mission. "Who are better situated to carry the gospel to the world than committed lay women and men, themselves full and active participants in the secular society in which they live and work?"

Shaw builds on the scope and originality of the Second Vatican Council's teaching about lay people with Church documents (The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, "Lumen Gentium;" and the Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People, "Apostolicam Actuositatem;" and others) and the writings of other experts. "The Catholic Laity" is filled with excellent references. ...

Shaw's begins "Catholic Laity" with the question, "Are we living in the age of the laity?" The simple answer in the end is "Not yet!"

This would make a good Christmas gift.

And we have others, like Standing with Peter-Dr. William May's memoirs. So don't be shy....

Some of our shorter offerings-our booklets would make great stocking- stuffers.

Oremus pro invicem!

After a long hiatus ...

I have a new post up at The Patent Agent.

A few notes

Blogger and Requiem Press author Cortney Davis has 'signed off' her blog. However, if you haven't read her first posts on conversion (see especially the September 2007 archive) do so while they are still available online. They are well worth it.


Special as promised yesterday!!!! From now til December 20th Giving Up Stealing for Lent will be on sale for $6.95 (regularly $9.95), and Two Towers will be on sale for $9.95 (regularly $14.95).

Will check back in later.

Oremus pro invicem!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

What's going on

Read Russell Shaw's latest on CatholicExchange this morning-it has to do with attacks on the family. Here's a piece:

Pope Benedict XVI lately has undertaken a project to foster the revival of natural law thinking. The Holy Father's effort comes not a moment too soon. Much of the nonsense talked about issues like marriage — including nonsense talked in some Catholic circles — reflects a foolish and destructive turning-away from natural law. The defense of the family ultimately requires a clear understanding that its excellence and its necessity derive ultimately from human nature itself.


I have undertaken a grand endeavor: to let my beard grow until March. (I usually keep it very, very short: trimming it down to stubble every two weeks or so.) I am about 4 weeks in. Not sure I will make March. At this point I look 10 years older than I did four weeks ago. But do I look 10 years wiser is the question? Mrs. Curley believes I am already close to the breaking point. Not so, saith I.

Changing topics: Will I ever get back to "The Ways of God" for fathers? I hope so. My goal was one installment per week. I hope to get back to that during Advent-but no promises.

Look for a Christmas special (to be announced here) on our website tomorrow.

Mrs. Curley is lobbying me to allow comments again. Not that I ever got very many, but it seems that sometimes Mrs. Curley "communicated" with me via the comments (anonymously). She says it will be "fun" again! I'll take it under consideraton.

Oremus pro invicem!

Final Installment: God's Plan for Man's Salvation

From my Dad:

During His life He performed many miracles, some designed specifically to prove He was God, and freely laid down His life in infinite atonement for all of man's sins, past present and future.

During His life, Christ reaffirmed the Old Testament. By His death, He fulfilled the promise. While on earth He instituted the Church: "Go teach all nations", and instituted the sacraments:

By the sacraments, man is sanctified according to his nature, body and soul, i.e. an external rite (body) and internal grace (soul)-visible versus invisible. With the Redeemer here and gone, death still must come to all men. At death, man has made an irrevocable choice-there is no repentance after death. He has either chosen God or the creature Hell ("Depart from me, you cursed into everlasting fire.") [Note: if Purgatory-one is saved, but not full satisfactory atonement for mortal sins or because of venial sins, habitual sins resulting in twisting of the soul]. Heaven is the full attainment of all truth and all good: complete happiness.

Nothing ground-breaking in my Dad's essay, but I will say this: I seem to have known everything in this essay for as long as I can remember- which says something about my parents.

Our Lady of Joyful Hope-pray for us! ... Oremus pro invicem!

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Weekend

I spent quite a bit of time in the workshop this weekend. After all, Christmas is a comin'.

Last week I got a call from my brother who was helping my Mom clean out my Dad's workbench. There was an old set of Buck-Brothers carving tools in a wooden box. We never saw my Dad carving, but he was a bachelor for many years and had taken up several hobbies during that time (painting-by-numbers for one.) Perhaps he tried his hand at carving? We never saw any, but who knows? The tools were in good condition, and my brother, knowing I do some woodworking, wanted to know if I wanted them? Sure, along with the electrical drill which was given to him by his father-in-law (my Grandad). They arrived late last week.

I am not much of a carver, but as you can see from the rosary box post I do some inlay-type work occasionally-but not with the proper tools in the past. Never again. I used my Dad's old carving tools on Saturday on a piece I am making for Christmas with amazing results. The right tools are indispensible.

Sunday I was working on another project which called for mortise and tenon joints. I haven't done a M-T joint in at least 14-15 years. I don't have all the fancy jigs and tools Norm Abrams has, so I make do. Making tenons with a tablesaw is a little hairy unless you buy/make the right jig. The last time I did it years ago, I used the tablesaw, but this time it wasn't feeling right. (I always follow my 'does it feel right' instinct in the woodshop.) So I cut the tenons by hand and chiseled out the mortises (with aid of a drill press). They aren't a perfect fit, but they'll do the job with a shim here and there-or maybe a peg.

My youngest son sat and talked with me the whole time in the shop on Sunday afternoon. I enjoyed just having him there. At one point I mentioned that if I did this all day long instead of sitting in front of a computer, I wouldn't be so fat. He laughed and agreed!


This being Advent, we decided to try something new on Sunday nights. Mrs. Curley and I with the oldest two boys are going to read and discuss the Gospel of Mark. It went well last night, but we won't be done in four weeks. As my oldest son said, "At this rate well be in the middle of Chapter 2 by Christmas." But we had some good discussions. (i.e. Did Jesus and John the Baptist spend much time together as youths-did they talk? Something I would like to know.) We will probably add a couple nights during the weeks or extend the reading past Christmas.

Sunday at Mass our pastor preached on Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory. (The following are my thoughts, not his-but were spawned by his sermon.) Many of us believe there are people (maybe lots of people) are in Hell. I would dare say that many of us consciously or unconsciously hope that people or certain people are in Hell. But I am not sure this is the attitude to have. Allowing for both freewill and God's mercy, we should hope all are saved. And, maybe we should be working harder for our own salvation (and praying for those in purgatory) than thinking about who might be in Hell.

Oremus pro invicem!

Speaking of reading ...

Looks like I have some reading to do. Besides Pope Benedict's encyclical on Hope, The USCCB has issued is document on liturgical music. I must read both.

Understanding the theological virtue of hope has always been a little elusive for me. Faith and Charity seem more straigtfoward. A priest once told me that Hope is Faith in action-which confused me even more. My total undertanding of hope is encompased by the simple act of hope:

O my God, relying on Thy almighty power and infinite mercy and promises, I hope to obtain pardon of my sins, the help of Thy grace, and life everlasting, through the merits of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer. Increase my hope!

Thus, I am looking forward to reading and meditating on Spe Salvi in the coming weeks. I will probably refrain from reading other's commentary until I have read it for myself.

As for the other document (USCCB on liturgical music) I don't have high hope or any kind of expectations. But I am interested in what the US bishops have to say.

Oremus pro invicem!

Great Expectations

I have often said that Dicken's Great Expectations is one of my top 5 favorite books. I read twice in junior high, 2-3 times in high school, at least once in college, and at least once in my 20's.

But I haven't read it since then.

So it was with some trepidation that I picked it up again last week. It being almost 20 years since reading my favorite, I wondered: Will I still enjoy it?

I am only about 5 or 6 chapters in, but my fear is gone. I will enjoy it just as much, if not more than all those other times. This is book is like an old friend-we have taken up just where we have left off.

I found my self reading passages to Mrs. Curley aloud-introducing my best friend to an old friend.

Our Lady of Joyful Hope-pray for us! ... Oremus pro invicem!