Thursday, December 30, 2004


For several weeks now I have been contemplating exactly what constitutes "Catholic culture". I think during different points in history, Catholic culture has meant different things - but there must be some common ground.

Europe, for several centuries had a Catholic culture almost by default, because all of Europe was essentially Catholic - at least in name.

A persecuted Church, such as in Rome in the early years of Christianity, or as in England during the 16th and 17th century had their own culture which was not dominant in society, but underground.

Immigrants to the Americas brought a European Catholic Culture that was adapted to their new circumstances as a discriminated-against minority in the Americas.

Each of these 'Catholic cultures' were somewhat different, but they had common ground, in fact the basis for the culture - The Eucharist, the Faith, the sacraments, the Church, etc.

But what about the periperals? What else constituted Catholic culture? And what should Catholic culture be today in our circumstances, (our circumstances are a secular soceity built on protestant ideals, which is under a tension to either return to the protestant roots or to continue the path towards secular paganism.)

In the next few blogs or weeks, whichever comes first, I would like to explore what a Catholic culture should look like in our present circumstances - that is what kind of culture will prepare our own souls for Heaven and be so attractive as to help transform the overall culture in America.

Stay tuned ... and feel free to add with your own ideas, From the small holding in Bethune...

Oremus pro invicem!

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Advice from the locals

This morning after dropping the car off for some work, Mrs. Curley and I stopped into a small convenience store for something hot to drink, (we have no heat in the number 2 car). Mrs. Curley engaged in conversation with an older gentlemen on the subject of how to cook collard greens.

As we were leaving the store the gentlemen asked Mrs. Curley if I were "her man". After replying "Yes", the gentlemen said, "You betta feed him good now, it'll keep him from being late at night"

From the small holding in Bethune on this feast of St. Thomas Becket...

Oremus pro invicem!

Monday, December 27, 2004

Merry Christmas!

So much to write about - so little time. I have decided to take this week off from work (except filling any orders we receive). I have a little time to blog while my son does some chores - then we are going to try out the new BB-gun.

If you read my piece on CatholicExchange last week, (here) you know that our carolling this year was to be different. Well it was. As we have no neighbors in walking distance, we went into town and stood in the parking lot of the "Dollar General" - the only store open on Christmas Eve. We caroled there for about an hour. Mrs. Curley was able to persuade a few shoppers to stop and sing with us for a few songs. Again it was a great success - we received much joy from the experience.

Snow was predicted for our area on Christmas night. No one got snow - but we got lots of freezing rain. The route to Mass on the feast of the Holy Family was treacherous - but the sun had melted all the ice by the time Fr. John was finished with us.

This morning our big dog Challenger ran off (we keep him in a large goat pen when unsupervised normally because of his preference for chickens - as discussed here. Unfortunately one of the little dogs (Lady) ran away with him with her leash still attached. Into the woods they ran. I was away at the time. Usually Challenger comes back from his wanderings after about an hour. This morning there was no sign of him for several hours. When I got home I went into the woods with my son searching. We heard Challenger barking in the distance and then he came out of the bush. Just like in a "Lassie" movie, Challenger led us to Lady whose leash was caught in brambles. We carried her home shivering as the ice from the storm was melting all over above her.

Please pray for some friends who have suffered a loss this week.

On this feast of St. John the Evangelist and from the small holding in Bethune ...

Oremus pro invicem!

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Wednesday of the 4th Week of Advent

I may blog some later today time permitting, but here are three short items:

1. I have an article on, here

Earlier on in the week I mentioned that I would blog on another Curley family tradition this week. The CE article explains it. I quote from it briefly:

"Society has placed God behind closed doors. The opportunity to bring His message "to the streets" (albeit in such a minor way), gives a joyous start to our Christmas celebration. It is not often we can emulate the activities of angels: why not bring Christ to your neighbors this Christmas Eve with your family?"

This year on Christmas Eve we are making a surprise carolling visit with a few other families to 'someone special' (more on this later). Then we will come back to Bethune and sing carols as a family in the parking lot of the store in town.

2. My number three son, Matthew John (who received first Holy Communion two weeks ago) attended Mass with me alone this morning. (Usually my two older sons come and serve Mass - but Mrs. Curley was taking them into the city this morning.) Matthew was supposed to serve the Christmas morning Mass with his two older brothers as an observer only as he had never served at the altar before. However, this morning Fr. John (without my older sons) called Matthew to serve alone for the first time. He was perfect in his reverence and made no mistakes. I am very proud of my Matthew this morning.

3. Finally, it is not too late to order books from Requiem Press for Christmas.

From the small holding in Bethune...

Oremus pro invicem!

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Monsignor Hamburger - May his soul rest in peace

From The State Newspaper:
"Donald Clarence Hamburger, a retired priest in the Diocese of Charleston, died on Saturday, December 18, in Columbia. He was 86.

"Monsignor Hamburger was born on June 28, 1918 in Celina, Ohio. He was a son of the late August Francis Hamburger and the late Estella Bernard Hamburger.

"Monsignor Hamburger attended St. Peter’s Parochial School and Wardlaw Junior High. He graduated from Columbia High School in 1935. Monsignor Hamburger attended seminary school at St. Gregory Seminary in Cincinnati, Ohio and Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Norwood, Ohio.

"Monsignor Hamburger was ordained to the priesthood on July 14, 1946 by Bishop Emmet M. Walsh at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Charleston. He celebrated his first Mass on July 21, 1946 at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Columbia. He was named Monsignor on September 12, 1963."

The diocese of Charleston lost a good priest this weekend. Msgr. Hamburger was a joy to spend time with. He was always happy. He wrote and self-published a book entitled "The Lamb of God Theme from the Bible". From reading this book I learned much about the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the various prefigurations of the Mass in Holy Scripture. Monsignor Hamburger suffered in his last years. Let us pray that his soul may soon be at rest in Christ's bosom.
My brother-in-law's father James Rouvalis passed away yesterday. May his soul and all the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen.

From the small holding in Bethune...

Oremus pro invicem!

Monday, December 20, 2004

Fourth Week of Advent

I have been meaning to blog all weekend about my experience Friday at the salvage yard trying to find replacement headlight and turn-signal assemblys for the victim of the deer attack (see here) . However I spent so much time at the salvage yard waiting, that this story will not see the light of day for a while. Suffice to say, most people don't go to the salvage yard (or at least this one) just to get auto parts. It resembled old home week - and I suspect this is how it always is. It does slow you down. You can either fume for 2 hours, or take it in and see how some people appreciate life.

But this is the 4th Week of Advent. It is the week of several Curley family traditions. I will write of two of them this morning. The third I will leave til Thursday.

First, early in the week we always make videos for the grandparents in Massachusetts with Christmas greetings. We wait for the 4th week in Advent because before this we don't have a Christmas tree. We will sing some Christmas Carols. Some years the kids do a Nativity play. This year much of the video will be taken up with a tour of the 'small holding' as most in the northern wings of the family have not seen it.

The second traditional activity for the Curley family is in example of the protomartyrs of Henry VIII's persecution. From the eyewitness account of Dom Maurice Chauncy (hopefully to be a Requiem Press publication in the near future):

Then he (Prior John Houghton) exhorted them (his brother Carthusians of the London House) to prepare their hearts by a general confession to God, and gave leave that every one should choose any confessor in the convent whom he liked, and he gave to all power of plenary absolution,— and having done this, on the following day he said : "Because in many things we offend all, and every one is debtor to his brother, and because without charity neither death nor life profit anything, let us be reconciled to one another …" When the first day had passed, our Father's most salutary counsel having been followed and the day of reconciliation being at hand, and our Father having made a long and most devout sermon on charity, patience, and firm adhesion to God in adversity, treating those first five verses of the Psalm: "0 God, Thou hast cast us off and destroyed us," (Ps. 59) concluded his sermon thus : "It is better for us to receive a short punishment here for sin, than to be kept for eternal torments." Then he said: "My dearest Fathers and Brothers, what you see me do, I beseech you to do likewise." Then rising, he went towards the senior of the house, sitting next to him, and kneeling before him, humbly begged pardon and forgiveness for all his excesses and sins at any time committed against him in thought, word, or deed. And in the same manner the other did to him, begging pardon for his. And so the Father, going first through his choir and then to the other, made the same request to each separately, down to the last Lay-brother, weeping bitterly over each. In like manner all followed him one after another, each from each begging pardon.

Typically during the latter days of Advent and Lent, the Curley family gathers; makes a family examination of conscience; begs God's forgiveness with an Act of Contrition; and then in the example of St. John Houghton, one by one we ask each other forgiveness for the wrongs we have done. We usually try to have gone to Confession in proximity of this reconciliation. In this way we try to prepare a clean space in our hearts for the coming of the King of Kings.

From the small holding in Bethune ...

Oremus pro invicem!

Friday, December 17, 2004

The Workshop

This year we are attempting to make many (but not all) of the Christmas presents for the children. Mrs. Curley is making cowboy vests, bandanas, and aprons. Number one daughter is making capes and masks. I am making rifles, guns, and swords out of wood. I will also be making a swingset.

Some years ago I used to make many things out of wood. Once the children started coming, I became more of a handy repair man than anything else. Last year, however, I made a very nice toy revolver out of wood. I used different types of wood for the handle, barrel, chamber, and body. I sanded it to a marble finish. My four-year old broke it within three days. Thus I have learned my lesson: simple design, one piece construction, no need to sand any further than eliminating major splinter hazards.

It is certainly wonderful to get back in the workshop. The smell of fresh cut wood and sawdust is unique and refreshing. The sense of accomplishment when working with your hands is also not as frequently experienced in the 'white collar' world.

I have never had heat in any of my workshops. However in the past they were always at least connected to the house - which had heat, either a garage or a basement. This shop is detached from the house and is an unfinished garage. Thus, it is generally colder working out there at night. I let the cats in to roam the garage while I am working just in case there is a snake, toad or mouse lurking about the shop.

I am somewhat of the old school in my tool selection. I never buy a power tool to do a job until I have done it with hand tools. I think this makes me a better craftsmen. (But I could be wrong). I do use power tools at times, but I would rather smooth a piece of wood or round a corner with a hand plane than with a power sander or a router.

My work is by no means that of a master craftsman, but my work is usually sturdy and functional.

I think we are saving a bit of money by making these presents ourselves, but more importantly, we are building love into the work with our efforts.

From the small holding in Bethune...

Oremus pro invicem!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

"The world was groaning for salvation"

With the words above, Fr. John O'Holohan opened his homily this morning. He was speaking of the world during the time of Christ.

The world is still groaning for salvation - not realizing it has already been bought on a cross. This is why there is the continuing frenzy for more money, more toys, more material possessions, more outrageous "rights", and more sexual encounters.

Don't we (who know about the price paid) also forget sometimes that our salvation has been paid for as we search in vain for earthly goods and experiences to satisfy our soul. The material world seduces and is attractive, but never satisfies and always leaves us wanting. (Fr. John said this morning that Mother Teresa, with nothing, had freedom - while we are slaves to possessions.)

A relationship with Christ does not seem so attractive on the surface - but once experienced, is everything and always satisfies.


South Carolina is unseasonably cold this morning. Overnight lows were around 21 (F). This occasionally occurs in January and early February. But mid-December is usually more mild. Requiem Press offices do not have heat. However our windows have Southern exposure, so I am hoping my fingers thaw out by noon time.

Shameless plug: If you don't have a Christmas gift for the readers on your list, Requiem Press can deliver before Christmas.

"Witnesses to the Holy Mass and other sermons" is not simply a fascinating account of the English martyrs. It is a book which can inspire one to step up their prayer life. It calls the 21st century Catholic to greater holiness.

"The Maccabees - Forgotten Heroes of Israel" may especially appeal to men - however all may benefit from reading this true story of sacrifice, faith, and devotion to God.

From the small holding in Bethune...

Oremus pro invicem!

Monday, December 13, 2004


Saturday: The three oldest boys (11, 10, 8) and myself built a modest lean-to type shelter onto the side of the garage to house their bicycles and outside equipment (balls, bats, and the like). I promised to be just the foreman giving directions and would let them do 90% of the actual construction work. Well we didn't quite manage that, I probably put in 20-25%, but the goal was achieved. It took the entire afternoon, but at the end of the day, they had constructed a solid structure.

Sunday: My six-year old daughter and eight-year old son made their first Holy Communion at the 11:30 Liturgy at St. Catherine's. My 11-year old and 10-year old were serving. Fr. John administered the Holy Eucharist to the First Communicants while they were kneeling in the first pew. Ah, if only all of us were allowed the privilege of kneeling before our King while receiving!

Monday: reminiscent of the entry at El Camino Real, here, I received a phone call this afternoon from a telemarketer. As we signed off, she said "Happy Holidays". I replied, Merry Christmas". She replied, "I love it! They told us we had to say 'happy holidays', but Merry Christmas to you too!" [Although, even here, it is early (about 12 days) to be saying Merry Christmas anyway.]

From the small holding in Bethune ...

Oremus pro invicem!

Friday, December 10, 2004

More Scandal from my alma mater

I went to graduate school at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio. From reading this at, I can see not much has changed. This is not the first time this year I have read of and been embarassed by my former assoication with JCU. Back in February I read on Mark Shea's blog, here how JCU was the hosting a performance of The Vagina Monologues.

Around the time I attended JCU, Fr. Charles Curran, of (at the time) Catholic University, had just been censured by the Vatican for publically dissenting from Catholic moral teaching in his classroom and writings. The "Religious Studies Department" at JCU came out with a statement generally supporting Fr. Curran in the name of "academic freedom". To paraphrase, (if my memory serves me correctly), they wrote in their statement that 'while JCU didn't have anyone teaching that contraception, divorce, and abortion were morally acceptable, perhaps JCU should have someone teaching this - in the name of academic freedom.'

I was a graduate student in a small department at JCU. Very few people (less than 20) knew who I was. I wrote a letter to the editor of the JCU newspaper protesting such a ridculous statement: I believe that I tried to make the point that "academic freedom" is the freedom to teach the Truth, not lies. I tried to point out that it is nonsensical to hire someone who you know will teach lies - that is if you believe that Church teaching on moral issues is the Truth. I can't recall how eloquent or persuasive my writing was (I still have the clippings, but I am afraid to look) - but I am sure it could have used some editorial help.

Needless to say, I was attacked in the paper. One professor from the Religious Studies Department said that my views were akin to Hitler - (such an original attack). I received one letter (in the paper) of general support from a faculty member, and one from a fellow-graduate student who defended, not my view, but from a characterization of being Hitler-like. Otherwise most articles and letters were against me from both students and faculty.

JCU was not a Catholic university when I was there, and it looks like it is even worse now. Thank God for places like Magdalen College in New Hampshire, Thomas Aquinas in California, and Christendom College (where daughter attends) in Virginia.

From the small holding in Bethune...

Oremus pro invicem!

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Good Fortune Strikes the Curley Clan

1. Verdict is in - the victim of Mrs. Curley, (the deer - details here), totaled our car according to the insurance company. The damage by the deer (or Mrs. Curley's driving into the deer, if you will) is not major. The front passenger headlight is gone along with the surrounding support. The front passenger quarter is bent and dented such that the passenger door opens with difficulty. The bumper cover is slightly torn. The only critical things which need fixing are the headlight and blinker. The car (before the deer incident) is a 10-year old 4-cylinder Plymouth Voyager minvan. The AC barely works. The heat does not work. The radio and clock do not work. I pulled a melted crayon from the tape deck several years ago. The driver's seat need to be propped up by a 2X4 to avoid falling backwards, and various stains and dents decorate the interior and exterior. However this is not our primary vehicle, runs well, and has only 125K miles on it. Mrs. Curley is praying for a new car (for free). I am thinking that the check I receive can go a long way to buying the next piece of publishing equipment for Requiem Press - while still having our secondary vehicle in good running order.

2. We had not yet received our first water bill from the town - I assumed they billed quarterly because we had seen them read the meter, but we had never got any bills. However, I finally decided to call because the quarter had ended some time ago. Somehow we did not get into their system I was told. Well, one week later I received the first bill - for $17! I immediately called to find out if more bills were coming. They told me since they had made a mistake by not entering me into their system, they were not going to make us pay the old bills - "Merry Christmas". (This is not what would have happened with the water company in the city.)

3. Finally more good fortune would strike the Curley clan if some of you readers out there (if there are any) buy some of our books. (The Curley children really want a Christmas tree!)

From the small holding in Bethune ...

Oremus pro invicem!

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Not so random thoughts

We were all wondering when the roosters would start cock-a-doodle-do-ing. I was of the school of thought that they had to be taught - and thus would give them some examples every time I passed by the coop. They are at about 9 weeks old and they have started fledgling efforts. I don't know if my efforts helped get them started, but ........

We are in the process of deciding whether to get goats (milk) or pigs (meat). We are starting to lean towards the pigs as the reward vs. effort ratio seems to be better than would be with the goats. We are also looking at rabbits.

Some people wonder why we are raising chickens, growing some food, etc. Why do all this work for eggs and chicken when they can be had at the grocery store? Below is a partial answer in no particular order of importance.

1. It is true that we probably are not saving much (if any) money by raising our own chickens for eggs and meat. But the eggs and meat will be fresher than the store bought variety. It may be better for you, and it may taste better.

2. Much more importantly than (1), we (and especially the children) will have a greater appreciation of where our daily bread comes from, and the effort it takes to provide it. Today there is a great disconnect between going to work and putting food on the table. Even our modest effort reconnects some of these lines.

3. The whole family becomes part of our economic life. We each have a job which has a real impact on the food Mrs. Curley prepares for dinner. The children are no longer just partakers of the wealth provided by Papa (through God's grace), but now help in a real way with the providing.

4. Growing vegetables, raising animals, caring for both is an education for the family.

5. The economic system in this country has become quite utilitarian - men are just tools for the good of other men or for business. Even our small effort of independence gives us a small level of economic freedom, and lights the way for others to go beyond what we are capable of. (Don't get me wrong, I am not a "get off the grid self-sufficient survivalist") .

6. There is more SKY. You can see the beauty of God's creation more often and more clearly when you work more closely with it and around it.

7. As the children learn more about nature's designs, they will learn more about God's plan in nature and for man.

More to come...

From the small holding in Bethune...

Oremus pro invicem!

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Deers and Cars

Update: Mrs. Curley returned to the scene of the collision this morning and it appears the buck may have been a doe - opinions vary on the subject. It also appears Mrs. Curley dragged the deer several hundred feet before it dislodged from the car (in pieces).

Mrs. Curley hit a buck last night on the way home from the Christmas play rehearsal which some of the clan is performing in. Everyone was allright - except the car. It hobbled home. The light of day will show how bad the damage is.

Of course the boys wanted Mrs. Curley to stop and salvage the antlers off the deer before driving home. She declined the opportunity.

We live in farm country, and all but the last 2 miles into Lancaster, SC (St. Catherine's) is very rural. September thru November this year I usually saw deer about 3 times a week on my morning journey. At night these roads (55 mph) are pitch black and a deer leaping out is a constant threat. (Now I know why my car insurance increased when we made the move.)

From the small holding in Bethune...

Oremus pro invicem!

Friday, December 03, 2004

Of Death

Yesterday was a tough one for some of my boys. They barely avoided going to bed under-nourished due to their behavior. So last evening when we sat down to say the rosary, Mrs. Curley and I exchanged silent understanding and decided to precede the rosary with some family conversation - which we knew would turn into hilarity.

The conversation ranged far and wide, but somehow we got onto the subject of my funeral arrangements. We debated whether I should buried in the backyard, which funeral home, whether I could be waked at home, etc. Number 2 (in age) son commented he wanted to put a lock on my coffin to make sure no one stole my body. I commented back that no one would steal my body unless it was incorrupt, and they were looking for relics. This brought up the whole debate about what to do with me if my body were incorrupt. One son was for leaving me in the den in the rocking chair.

Then the issue of the epitaph on the headstone was raised. This was a fun one indeed. Mrs. Curley wanted it to say, "Dogs - keep away!". Number one daughter, (who blogged in my place here), proposed "keep the grass cut so I can see!" I noted that Thomas More wrote his own epitaph and that with such suggestions as I was receiving, I should follow his example.

The laughter was flowing (at my expense usually) and all was arighted in the Curley clan. So we finally started the rosary. This is where things changed. It became obvious by the middle of the 2nd decade that some were meditating upon my demise instead of on the Luminous Mysteries. Number 1, 2, and 3 sons were sobbing; number 1 and 2 daughter and Mrs. Curley were stifling giggles at the boys expense. The youngest two were sleeping by now. [I commented later to Mrs. Curley that I now knew who was being left out of the will.]

I was touched that the boys would mourn for me even now. Although it did cause me to think that the mourning was so sorrowful because maybe they were unsure of my ultimate destination.

I told the boys they needed to meditate on their own death and not mine; that if we each did this more often, we would more likely be merrily reunited in Heaven to praise God together.

We attended the Liturgy together this morning for the first time since All Saints Day (due to sickness at the homestead).

From the small holding in Bethune ...

St. Francis Xavier - ora pro nobis

Oremus pro invicem!

Wednesday, December 01, 2004


The whole issue of the Holy Eucharist and germs discussed here reminds me of an incident in the life of the English Carthusian monk, St. John Houghton - protomartyr of the Henry VIII's persecution of the Church. Here it is from the writings of Dom Maurice Chauncy (maybe an upcoming title for Requiem Press) , an eyewitness to the life and circumstances of St. John Hougton's life:

During the time he [John Houghton] was in this office [of Sacristan], this thing occurred which is worthy of all remembrance. A certain devout Father, attacked by a pestilential disease, was near his end; who, when he had received the Body of our Lord, was unable, through extreme weakness, to swallow It, and at once cast It forth. The Father Vicar, in the absence of the Father Prior, gathered up the Sacred Host, together with all that had been cast forth, and took It to the cell of this holy Father, John Houghton, then sacristan, to be burnt. A fire having been lighted, these Fathers contended together which of them should cast It in — neither of them presuming to do this, It was reserved for two days. On the third day the devoted sacristan separated, as far as he could, the venerable Sacra­ment of the Body of Christ from the uncleanness with which It was mixed, and placed It in a chalice, intending to consume It on his next celebration. But previously he called to him (remembered) a certain devout Lay-brother, to whom God had frequently revealed with certainty many things, as was known through-out the house (for whatever he asked of God, God immediately gave him an answer, so familiar was he and so pleasing and dear to God). To him, therefore, the Father Sacristan communicated his intention, requesting him in so difficult a matter to pray to God, to know His good pleasure, for he was afraid to burn It, and had some kind of horror in con­suming it. The Lay-brother, to fulfil the commands laid on him, earnestly besought the Divine clemency to deign to give him in this matter some indication, and behold at Matins, being in an ecstasy, he saw a great multitude, whom no man could number, clothed in white, each carrying a lighted wax taper, enter the sacristy, in measured step, and proceed to the place where the Body of Jesus lay, and there adoring with the utmost reverence, opened the chest, which was closed, and having made, here a brief delay, disappeared. But what in the meanwhile they did there, remained unknown to the Brother who saw these things. But the Brother having come to himself, asked the sacristan in the morning, whether in such a place he had deposited the aforesaid particles of the most holy Body of Christ, and on his answering yes, he at once understood what he had seen. The most devout Father Sacristan having heard this, putting aside all fear, both of death and nausea, prepared himself at once with all alacrity to celebrate Mass, during which he reverently and with affection received that which had been set aside; but no one knows but he who received It, how glorious that chalice was to him. Truly inebriating It was, so far as those who stood by were able to perceive. He feared not death who received the Author of Life, nor sickness who swallowed Him Who heals all diseases, nor had he nausea from what had been cast forth, because he tasted in spirit how sweet the Lord is."

From the small holding in Bethune .....

Oremus pro invicem!