Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Quick Plug...

Just to note, I have posted the RequiemPress Lenten specials (as well as a unique 'almsgiving' idea) at my other blog (and of course the specials are listed at the website also). I only remind you here at Bethune Catholic because no one reads my other blog with any regualarity-granted I don't post there with any regularity either. So anyway, check it out. I'm sure I will post reminders on the specials here occasionally.

Family, Community, & Culture

Yesterday I pointed out 2 places (I didn't even mention, in this context, the Crunchy Con blog), where there was a discussion going on about the decision to move away from family and its ramifications. I have made my opinion known here for instance, in a discussion about 'Catholic re-settlement'.

My position is that the natural community is the family; their most natural support is the extended family. Family traditions become extended family traditions as the generations pass. Extended family traditions become neighborhood, then regional, then cultural traditions. It is hard to build meaningful culture away from your natural community.

So how to explain why the Curley's are 500 miles from the nearest family member and 900+ miles from our family base? (I think the discussion of hypocrsy came up in my comment box a few days ago. I was against it...)

First, I would say that when we moved 900 miles away, my thoughts on culture and community were not so well-developed and I hadn't the experience to understand their importance. Secondly, I needed a new job badly. Staying put didn't seem to be an option (they laid off half my department my last day at the job) and I had looked locally for a few years and nothing was shaking. And thirdly, I was resigned to the economics of the day which made this type of move the norm.

When we started RequiemPress we had the opportunity to move closer to family-and we almost did. I had actually put an offer in on a house in NH (really northern NH) which was about 4 hours away from our main family base. (Granted, 4 hours away is not living in the same community, but it is closer than 16 hours.) This deal fell through, there seemed to be no other optins, and so we settled for Bethune.

You must understand that SC is a low cost of living part of the country. A $150K house in Columbia, SC goes for $400K+ Norwood, MA where I grew up, and for $250 or more in southern NH. (And in a place like Bethune, the difference is even pronounced.) And while salaries are higher in MA and NH, they don't keep up with the housing. It is easer to build and rely on a family economy in a low cost area. And while it is easy (economically) to move from MA to SC, it is extremely difficult to move the other direction. So my goal is to get everyone to move HERE! (The house sitting in the cornfield next door is for sale!!!)

Mrs. Curley and I regret and discuss often that our children won't know their grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins like they should. Of course many of our siblings don't live near the old family homesteads either: VA, KY, IL, NH, CA(nada), PA.

Now we are here. (In many ways, even if not ideal theoretically, we have felt the hand of Providence in the connections we have made.) We have some great Catholic friends, both in Columbia where we spent almost 10 years, and now too in our new parish, St. Catherine's in Lancaster, SC. And we (us and our friends) are conscioustly trying to build a Catholic community and culture even though almost all of us are displaced from our family bases. We don't live in the same neighborhoods even here, so it is a conscious effort to play and pray together as often as possible is there.

There is much more to say about this (and blessing we have received here), but there is also much work to do this morning. From Bethany, the small holding in Bethune...Oremus pro invicem!

PS: The last day before Lent: Drink some Guinness! (okay, I stole this line from Chesterton and friends - its a good one though).

Monday, February 27, 2006

Monday Morning

UPDATE: Now Monday Evening. Some updates on the topis discussed below:

An eventful weekend....First, that stomache thing is back-it is not as bad as the first go around (yet). Secondly, while Mrs. Curley was at the doctor's office on Saturday, I decided to fix (once and for all) our bathroom faucet leak. The faucet and I have been going at it since almost the day we moved in. I have changed stems, washers, handles, stems, and more washers. No more fooling around-Iwas going to get this right this time no matter what....Well it beat me. I got it to the point where it wouldn't leak-or turn on at all. That was the best I could do. I couldn't even get it back to the leaky state. (This certainly was to Mrs. Curley's liking as she had wanted a new faucet for some time. It's terrible when your wife cheers at your defeat...) Well, she got her new faucet. I am now the proud owner of more worthless plumbing parts. This is the kind of stuff yard sales are made of...

Interesting post here from "Stella" on the disconnection of family in today's culture. UPDATE: CeT Sunday night journal (here) discusses this very topic.

Several recent posts worth reading here and the follow-up here on the "V-monologues" and feminism.

Of course the Crunchy Con thing is still going on. A commentor on The Crunchy Con Blog said: "As someone who lives in a predominantly rural state, I can tell you that there is nothing romantic about farming. ...Farming involves a degree of uncertainty, stress, and physical labor that few of us could stand. If you mean small farms, that is even more work and would probably require that children engage in strenuous labor....So I find the idealization of rural life unrealistic. Who can say for sure what attracts people to the lost cause of rural life? Is it fear of the modern world? Frustration with its less appealing aspects? Naive idealism? I know one thing: We should all be glad that the industrial North defeated the rural South." Rod Dreher asks Caleb Stegall to respond....Can't wait to read it.

UPDATE: The Caleb Stegall response:

“Small communities are hell!” “You want to turn back the clock!” and
especially, “You romanticize the land!” To which I always want to ask, this is
the same America we’re talking about isn’t it? The America from the mountains to
the prairies; from the redwood forests to the Gulf Stream waters; the America of
purple mountain majesties above the fruited plain? The America that once carried
on a torrid love affair with its land, its nooks and crannies, its high places
and low places? Yeah, I’m a
romantic all right. I don’t think I could be fully an
American if I weren’t.

But then comes the description of how hard life on the land really is, as if
this fact makes self-evident the folly of the romantic. In fact, it is the
difficulty that is at the heart of the romantic attraction Americans once had
for their land, their families, their communities, and even their country. It’s
putting oneself in service to something more than one’s own desires that is at
the core of every romantic impulse in man. This is what makes John Wayne a
conservative hero.

Note the words of the romantics: effort, pain, death, duty, discipline,
inconvenience, discomfort. The prospect that these words might carry the germ of
lasting satisfaction and happiness is a prospect American ears have a difficult
time hearing today. But as I said earlier, they are the true basis for finding
love, friendship, and a meaningful life. Master one’s passions, deny oneself,
and love others.

Things to think about...

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

Friday, February 24, 2006

Crunchy Cons-here, there, and everywhere

You are either for them or against them or have no opinion or just don't understand what they are. But the talk of Crunchy Cons are everywhere you go: here, and here and here and here and here and... And the Crunchy Con blog looks like it would be a full-time job to keep up with. I don't know much about it myself, but am a bit jealous, in a friendly sort of way (and congratulatory, by the way), of any book which garners so much attention and publicity among the St. Blogs parish (oh how do I get our message out like that?).

Seriously though, I haven't read the book so I don't know if I will ever really comment on it, but I will say that those who think Rob Dreher is restating the obvious in some of his 'manifesto' points may need to take a look again at those on the national scene who call themselves conservatives and also on a personal level among those whom you know. Do they really practice the conservatism they preach or that people associate with convervatism? OR are these conservatives really only concerned financial prosperity and only give those "Permanent Things" lip-service?

More Flannery O'Connor....Now that I've read a couple books, I just can't seem to get away from her. William Luse posts an essay analysis of one of her most disturbing short stories and explains the redemption enclosed therein. At the same time, in conversation with one of my sisters, she exclaimed, "Finally someone else who doesn't like reading Flannery O'Connor". This sister told me that either Plato or Aristotle said that reading should be both edifying and entertaining. My sister admits that you may make the case that Flannery O'Connor may be edifying, but much harder case for the entertainment aspect. Oh well, she (F.O.) may haunt me until I acquire that taste....

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

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Our CCD class is going to perform a play called "The Best Deed". Story is fairly simple (see plot summary below). The original story I read as child from a book my mother had as a child- one of the series of books entitled "Medal Stories", some of which are currently reprinted by Neumann Press under the title "Catholic Stories for Boys and Girls". When scripting the play from the story, some revisions were necessary as it had been originally written for younger children, and it could stand a little updating to be more relevant to the experiences of today's youth. When I was young, my brothers and sisters performed this play for my parents. I had a bit part because I was so young at the time. So when searching around for something this year, I naturally gravitated to something I knew.

Plot Summary: Several weeks before receiving Confirmation, the CCD class is given the assignment to do something special to prepare their hearts for receiving the Holy Spirit. It can be a service project or some other act of charity, piety or sacrifice.

Catherine Duffy has a hard time deciding what to do, but finally settles on a service project-but she never really completes it. She is side-tracked because while visiting the hospital where her father works she encounters a sick, cantankerous, and dying man, Mr. Finn, who believes he has been too evil in life for God to forgive him. Catherine spends the next several weeks praying for and visiting Mr. Finn trying to convince him to accept God’s mercy before he dies.

Mr. Finn is finally worn down by Catherine’s kindness and (with a little help from the Blessed Virgin Mary) finally goes to confession and then dies.

Catherine receives her Confirmation but thinks she has failed in preparing her heart-until her teacher tells her that her cooperation with God in saving Mr. Finn’s soul was indeed 'the best deed'.

Death bed conversions always move me deeply. (I was even breaking up when revising this script .) There was death bed conversion in the book "Fr. Elijah" by Michael O'Brien and another moving one in the short story "Candle Beams" (from the book of the same name) by Fr. Francis Finn SJ. Perhaps I am moved so much because I feel that I will need my own deathbed conversion to completely accept God's love? I don't know. But I am hoping this story will help the CCD students and those parents and parishioners who watch the performance to revalue the sacrament of Penance and help them think about the 4 Last Things.

While we will rehearse for the play outside of class, we did do a quick read thru at the end of class last night. I think this will be fun. The kids seemed to enjoy it.

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

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

I have updated or rewritten my "Request for Opinion" in yesterday's post regarding the story of Abraham and Isaac as reading it myself last night, I can see how one may be confused by what I was trying to say. So go at it again....

Several, (here and here ) beat me to this from the most recent Touchstone Magazine on liturgical hymns (available online.) [On a side note, one reason that you will find slight differences in the words to hymns from one edition to another, or from one publisher to another-other than for inclusive language and other nefarious purposes-is so that the new publisher can get a new copyright on the hymn. ]

Catholic World Report has an interesting article this month on the recent phenomenon of foreign priests staffing parishes in the USA (I don't the think the article is available online.) Of course in the Charleston, SC diocese, this is pretty common. The article comments that most of these foreign priests are African or Asian. We have an Irish priest at St. Catherines, but this is the exception. We have several priests from Nigeria and India in our diocese. Mostly they staff the more rural parishes here. I believe (at leat this is situation in two cases I know of), the foreign priest serves a year or so as a parochial vicar at a larger parish before heading out to the rural areas to staff their own parish. The two I have encountered have been holy men and great priests. Our diocese is truly mission country. Our 83 year old pastor says Mass at three parishes on the weekend. The priest in Cheraw does the same. But I also think the tide is turning. I believe we are starting to get consistency in our number of seminarians. (It used to be 3 ordinations one year, none the next. Now I think we are ordaining 3-4 every year. Not enough, but on the right path.) A spokeman for the USSB (in the article) explains that most foriegn priests come from more traditional cultures so that acculturation is important. (Coming from the traditional culture is big plus in my mind-we Americans need to experience this more.) Many of these priests participate in a series of classes "to acculturate foreign priests to the American concepts of individualism, multicutluralism, and egalitarianism." I hope the program just explains these things and doesn't corrupt the priest into accepting some of these American (Protestant) ideals (read: individualism) in conflict with true Catholicism....

Finally, a short note of self-promotion: we have extended the special offer at RequiemPress for a few more days and expect to have Lenten specials available in a few days.

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

Monday, February 20, 2006

Sunday (written on Monday) and other things...

Sunday afternoon: After returning from Mass yesterday we decided to have an day outdoors. It was in the mid-40's and the forecast was for a 'wintry mix' sometime in the evening or after nightfall, (I don't think it ever developed more than clouds.) One son built and lit a pyramid fire (his first) in our firepit (which had not been used this year yet). I got out our portable wind-up phonograph and played some old 78 rpm records. Mrs. Curley and I danced to a few songs and realized we are out of dancing shape. I also danced with my young daughters. The boys played badmitton with Mrs. Curley. We did not cook by the fire, but we did eat by it. Then we sang songs and said the rosary. The older ones told stories by the fire as Mrs. Curley and I put the younger ones to bed. Overall it was a very rewarding day from start to finish.

Sunday morning: Speaking of the the 'start', our pastor was in top form today. His wit is so understated-if you are not paying attention you will miss it, because he doesn't pause for a laugh. I thnk this is because he is not telling jokes-he has this habit of stating truth in humorous ways. For example, in speaking of Hell yesterday (yes, he speaks of Hell), Fr. John commented, (not a direct quote, but close enough), "I think one of the worst parts of Hell, other than the all the pain and the rotten company, is how it is eternal." (my emphasis).

Flannery O'Connor revisted: I have now read an entire book of Flannery O'Connor's short stories and one of her novels (Wise Blood). She is a good writer, no doubt, but I think I am through with her. I tend to read for information, inspiration, or entertainment. Her books do not provide any of these three things for me. Why do I feel compelled to share this? Maybe I feel guilty that I just can't understand her attraction to so many people I respect. Now reading this .

Request for opinions: (UPDATE: I have rewrittend this a little to undo the confusion I found reading it myself. Here we go again...)We have been using the Our Holy Faith religion text series (Neumann Press) at home for several years now. There are portions of these texts which need updating (some of the feasts and the Church calendar have changed), but overall they have been pretty good. The Baltimore Catechism questions are part of each chapter. However, we came across this in the Grade 7 book:

When Abraham and Sara were very old, God sent them a son, Isaac....Sometime
later-we don't know exactly when-a terribel fear seized Abraham. His Canaanite
neighbors offered human sacrifice. They thought they must sacrifice to the gods
the very best they had, so they would offer their eldest son in sacrifice. Even
though the clan of Thare did not offer such sacrifice, Abraham wondered if God
wanted him to prove his lover by sacrificing this long-awaited son. No he
thought, it could not be. And yet, must he not be glad to offer his beloved son
to God?

The clear implication in the text book (and it is not disppelled anywhere) is that the sole reason Abraham took Isaac up the mountain was because he thought that maybe God wanted him to copy his Canaanite neighbors. The text book does not present this as a test or trial of Abraham til a few pages later, and then does not clarify. Obviously the text book version is in clear contradiction to Genesis. The text book goes on to say that God revealed to Abraham that He did not want human sacrifices, etc. I had trusted this book, and series, (and the publisher for that matter) for its orthodoxy, but this account of Abraham seems to be pure speculation. The Haydock Bible does not give this interpretation. I don't have the Navarre Bible for Genesis. What say y'all?

Saturday, February 18, 2006

A couple requests...

Not much time this morning for a proper post. I have a practically new dishwasher to install and a den re-arrange, trying to fit in some furniture we were given. These are remnants to remind us of some good friends who just moved back to Texas.

Mrs. Curley's brother (only in his mid-30's) had emergency heart surgery (a catheritization thing) a few days ago. Apparently he has had an untreated heart condition since he was born, and it could be ignored no longer. Prayers requested that he recovers to full health soon. He is married with three children.

Got some good, and almost unbelievable news yesterday. I used to be (see the 4 meme below) a patent agent. I still have my license to practice and occasionally take on a consulting job to earn extra cash. This summer I took on such a job. Anyone who knows the patent world will tell you that a patent application normally takes at least 9 months (usually over a year) before the first examination and usually somewhere between 18 months to 36 months to get the patent granted, (if indeed it is a novel invention). Well just before Christmas (4.5 months after filing) the inventor called me to say he needed a little more help as he got the result back from the first examination. I was surprised, but happy for him. I put in an hour or two and sent him on his way. I got a phone call yesterday, and he informed me that his patent application had been allowed. I couldn't believe it. This is only 7 months after filing! He told me I am in the wrong business (publishing) and I should be doing patent work-maybe he's right.

In that vein comes the second request. We run pretty close to the line here and the occasional extra work I get or the extra money we pick up doing various endeavors often makes the difference between remaining viable or not during slow times, (remember the $9.00 yard sale I reported some months back, ha! ha!). So the request is just to keep us in your prayers as we continue this experiment (or adventure, or insanity-depending on the day).

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

Friday, February 17, 2006

We ate one of our chickens last night. These Rhode Island Red roosters are big enough to feed the whole family on one bird. We actually slaughtered and dressed two birds. I taught my oldest at home how to do it-going through the whole process together in parallel. The bird was one of the best we'd had.

After doing a little research, as suggested somewhere below, we re-mated the rabbits. This time I think I know a little more about it. First, it may have been too cold in December. Secondly, while the buck certainly tried, I didn't look for the "sign" he gives when he has "succeeded". This time when we mated them, he gave the "sign". In two weeks we try again with the same doe. If she resists violently or persistently, then it is a good sign she is pregnant. Stay tuned....

I read Mrs. Curley this (see the story on extraordinary ministers) piece last night. I had her going for a couple minutes, then we both had a good laugh.

And a thought end on this morning:

As, sooner or later, you are bound to stumble upon the evidence of your own personal wretchedness, I wish to forewarn you about some of the temptations which the devil will suggest to you and which you should reject straight away. These include the thought that God has forgotten about you, that your call to the apostolate is in vain, and that the weight of sorrow and of the sins of the world are greater than your strength as an apostle. - None of this is true! (Furrow #141)

I hope some profit comes to you this morning from this little thought. From Bethany, the small holding in Bethune...Oremus pro invicem!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Blessings and odds and ends

Last night our kids gave Mrs. Curley and me a great gift. You must understand that until we moved to Bethune, virtually every week for over 2 years, Mrs. Curley and I went on a date-usually dancing to 30's and 40's era music, (as I may have mentioned before). Since moving to Bethune, we have not been 'on a date'. Last night the kids told us that we were invited to dinner for two at 7:30 PM-but we had to "get out of their way" for a couple hours. At 7:30PM one of my sons came upstairs to escort Mrs. Curley into the "restaurant". They had transformed our livingroom/dining room area into a candlelit dining area. The song we had danced to at our wedding was playing in the background (during dinner, a soft collection of classical music played). Dinner consisted of homemade bread (with homemade butter), appetizers of potato skins and homemade cheese sticks. The entrees were a scallop dish for me and shrimp stir-fry for Mrs. Curley. Dessert include brown sugar bars and lemon squares. The youngest children helped served the appetizers and then quietly went to bed. The older children stayed to serve, to clean-up (and to eat any left overs). Except for serving us, the kids stayed away from the dining area and let Mrs. Curley and I talk and enjoy ourselves. The food was excellent! Ironically, this was planned for last week, (we got invitations in the mail!), but the sickness postponed it til last night-which conicidentally was St. Valentine's Memorial. It is comforting to know that our children have enough awareness, even at their young ages, that their parents sometimes need to be taken care of. It is a comfort to me that I know my kids will take care of Mrs. Curley when I am no longer able to....

On a very light note, Mr. Riddle's comment below on Pope John Paul the Great's poetry reminded me of a very funny story I have been meaning to blog for over a month...On January 6th, we took the youth of our parish on a round of Christmas caroling to the parish shut-ins. We also stopped at Fr. John O'Holohan's (our paster) house to sing a few carols. He graciously invited us in. He figured not many of the kids had visited a priest's house before. Now Fr. John is famous for greeting people with "Shalom" as this is the greeting of Christ to us. At some point in time, someone gave Fr. John a little wall plaque which says, "Shalom, y'all!" (probably when they heard he was coming to SC). As he was giving the tour of his house, Fr. John pointed to the plaque and said that he likes to use that word because it is a greeting that Christ actually used. Mrs. Curley suddenly pipes up, asking, "Y'all?, Christ said 'Y'all'? I whispered to her: "Didn't you know, Christ was a southerner?" This is one we will laugh about for years and years.

Odds and ends: As it is quite apparent now, I have been robbed and cheated! Obviously some nefarious plot is afoot. My illustrious blog has been left off the nominations for the 2006 CatholicBlogAwards. Go and vote anyway. Besides I have made a more prestigious appearance, being included in this.

And a final thought: "Those problems which used to overwhelm you and seemed like enormous mountains, disappeared completely. They were solved in a divine way, as when Our Lord commanded the winds and the waters to be calmed. - And to think you still doubted! " [St.Josemaria Escriva-Furrow #119] (That's me the doubter who is continually blessed....)

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


I guess I will play, having been tagged by Corpus Meum:

Four Jobs I’ve Had
Gas Station Attendent
Patent Agent

Four Movies I Watch Over and Over Again
Beau Geste (Gary Cooper version)
Adventures of Robin Hood
The Sound of Music

Four Places I’ve Lived
Norwood, MA
Cleveland, OH
Columbia, SC
Bethune, SC

Four TV Shows I Watch
Haven't watched TV shows in years....

Four Websites I Visit Daily
a bunch of blogs-see sidebar, plus

Four Places I’d like to be right now (Besides Heaven)
Right here
Any place in Ireland
Anywhere surrounded by friends and song with a Guiness in hand
In the presence of our Lord, preferably in a beautiful chapel, - anywhere

I tag: The Wandering Moon and anyone else who is so inclined....

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Pecan Pie

I forgot to mention the pecan pie my sons made on Sunday. We had got the pecans off the ground at the Camden (SC) Revolutionary War Park about 20 miles from here at least a month or more ago. There is a huge pecan tree and the pecans were literally covering the ground two to three nuts deep around the tree. We gathered as many as we could carry.

On Sunday one son (11) made the bottom crust and the other son (9)made the filling and baked it. (I helped shell pecans for a bit myself.) The pie was excellent. We still have plenty of pecans, but must go back for some more.

From Bethany, the small holding in Bethune...Oremus pro invicem! Sts. Cyril and Methodius-ora pro nobis!

Random Thoughts...

It is 42 (F) in my office this morning. TS, earlier in the winter, had recommended one of those portable heaters. A good suggestion, but I really don't mind the cold so much. I am just funny to look at in bundled in a blanket and my fingers protruding from a pair of gloves with cut-off fingers. (Besides, I don't think the electrical system can take any more appliances up here.) You see, only the downstairs was fixed for the central heat and AC in this house. The woodstove actually used to send up some good heat upstairs, but we had chimney fire last winter (another story) and we haven't got the chimney redone yet. Since the upstairs is basically an attic, we have window air conditioners for my office and (soon) the bedroom upstairs. When the printer in my office is going non-stop, you don't need heat up here. (Of course in the summer, the air conditioner can't keep up with the heat generated by the printer.)

Has anyone read "The Place Within-the poetry of Pope John Paul II"? Actually the title is misleading because all the poems in the collection were written before he became pope, that is, between 1939 and 1978. Some of the poems do not give the year written-which is unfortunate. I am not personally a great reader of poetry-I miss my days in college when for a short time (a semester or two) I learned how to read and appreciate good poetry. But as they say, if you don't use it.... In any event, early in this collection is a poem entitled: Shores of Silence. Here's are a couple pieces from it:

The distance shores of silence
begin at the door. You can not fly there
like a bird. You must stop, look deeper,
still deeper, until nothing
deflects the soul
from the utmost deep......

There, he is there. Only a tremor here,
only words retrieved from nothingness.
Oh-and a particle still remains
of that amazement which will become the essence
of eternity....

It seems to me, that he is talking about contemplative prayer-like that described in "The Cloud of Unkowing".

Monday, February 13, 2006

of Singing and Snow

There are a lot of songs which are not appropriate for use in the Liturgy, which may be, none-the-less, still fun to sing, (depending on your taste). Many of the old spirituals, many of which have Protestant theological undertones, are examples (Just a Closer Walk with Thee, Comin' for to Carry me home, etc, - even Amazing Grace). Unfortunately, all too often songs like these, and even worse, songs from the Glory & Praise book are played at Mass.

There are at least 2 problems with the G&P songs: 1) they are mostly about us and only secondarily, if at all, about praising God; and 2) most are written for piano and guitar-which unfortunately encourages use of the guitar; 3)many of the songs have ranges which half-octave range singers like me, (and I am not alone) can't hit (even if I wanted to), thus the songs turn into a performance by the musicians; 4) (Oh yes, I said only 2 problems...)

Yet one of my children this week made a probably very true observation about the G&P songs. It goes something like this: We are all at some deep level, drawn to sing, and drawn to sing to praise God. Since singing in groups is found so seldom in any place but at Church in this day and age, the songs selected and played by the musicians or 'music minister' become merely a matter of taste-because it is the only outlet for singing, and they sing and play what they know and like best. (Many are converts or group up in the liturgical mess that has been the last 30 or so years.) Many of these songs-while maybe nice around a campfire-have no place at Mass.

Finally, in the same "spirit", you have to read this!

This past weekend I was supposed to travel to NH for my newly born Godson's, (Brendon Christopher), Baptism. A family member was going to share frequent flyer miles and I was all set to go, looking forward to seeing family again and participating in this holy and crucial sacrament. Sickness in the family (as I blogged about all week) last week prevented the trip at the last minute. Turns out, if I had gone, it looks like I would have been snowed in, as New England got more than 2 feet of snow.

We actually had brief flurries here yesterday. Nothing landed-it was in the cooold 40's. In fact, two of the kids were playing tennis at the local courts during the brief "snowstorm".

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

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Saturday Evening

Well, it has been a week of sparse posting. It has been a tough week, with sickness and weather (we had snow flurries!!! yesterday). We decided to knock off our Saturday chores early today (it rained all day anyway) and have a mini-celebration as we are all finally well and together.

After lunch we spent some time rehearsing skits and songs and then met at 2:30 to perform. Two daughters did the "Who's on First"" Abbott and Costello routine. The boys and I sang "O Danny Boy". Mrs. Curley and I danced and sang "Pick a Bale of Cotton". Three sons on Trumpet, Baritone, and clarinet played "When the Saints Go Marching In", etc., etc. Then we took a break while some of the family made homemade pizza. We ate pizza while watching a "classic" Gene Autry western on video. Now we'll say the Rosary and hop in bed. All Saturdays should be such fun...

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

Thursday, February 09, 2006

It never stops. Daughter is home from hospital. Had to take son in as he had an allergic reaction to something he ate-we haven't figured out what yet.

When I did have some time earlier this morning, I happened to wander upon this new blog. The subject of silence, which I blogged about a little below, has many facets. Check it out. (Disclosure: I do know the blog owner, and I think "Stella" will be worth reading.)

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

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Little Things...

This article on CE today is quick reminder of some of those things that build a Catholic culture and a presence of God in your heart.

One last (I hope) post on the stomache bug. Last daughter to recover got dehydrated and is spending night in the hospital to get fluids. Looks like everything is okay-but I promised her that I would mention her on the 'blog'. When I left the hospital this evening she was playing with the controls on the bed and told me that the hospital was "so interesting".

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

We arise....

Well rested!

While we still have one not quite out of the woods, everyone slept through the night for the first time in a week! Deo Gratias!

Sorry to be pre-occupied with this bug the past few days, but lack of sleep can do that to you. Some religious orders fast from sleep. I think it is harder than fasting from food.

Here's a thought from Furrow by St. Josemaria Escriva:

Optimism? Yes always! Even when things seem to turn out badly: perhaps that is the time to break into song, with a Gloria, because you have sought refuge in Him, and nothing but good can come to you from Him.

I used not to think much of St. Augustine's words that singing was praying twice (do I have that right?). But over the years, I have found that there is something about singing which can direct your whole being to the object of the song in a way that mere words can't. This is why lovers put their words to music, so they can express more fully their feelings. Thus it is so in praying to God. (I am not talking "Say Hey to the Carpenter" here-but true hymns of praise and thanksgiving to God). One day, out of deep distress, I spontaneously broke into song as my words couldn't express either the depth of my distress, nor my thanksgiving to our Lord for His blessings. The problem didn't go away, but after my prayer, I knew the Lord was with me, and I was able to go on.

I have also learned that God wants not only our minds (because this is what I tend to give Him), but also our hearts. Song helps us to give our hearts. This also why the restoration of singing together-whether hymns or folk songs-is important to the restoration of a Christian culture. People need to know how to give their whole being. Music helps us do this. People resist. Singing makes them self-conscious. But this is exactly why it needs to be done-to thrust aside the self in order to give your entire self in song...

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

Monday, February 06, 2006

After Mass on Sunday, I remarked to Mrs. Curley how the reading from Job had been particularily appropriate for our recent experiences with the stomache bug at Bethany:

Job spoke, saying:
Is not man’s life on earth a drudgery?
Are not his days those of hirelings?
He is a slave who longs for the shade, a hireling who waits for his wages.
So I have been assigned months of misery, and
troubled nights have been allotted to me.
If in bed I say, “When shall I arise?”then the night drags on;
I am filled with restlessness until the dawn.
My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle;
they come to an end without hope.
Remember that my life is like the wind;
I shall not see happiness again.

We still have one down, but I think everyone else is through it...

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Stomache bug in full force all night long. Rain all day so far. Am retreating to the office to catch up on work...

Friday, February 03, 2006

Feast of St. Blaise

As a child at St. Catherine of Sienna school in Norwood, MA the priests would go from classroom to classroom on the feast of St. Blaise blessing throats. They only came around for two occasions as I recall: to distribute report cards and on the feast of St. Blaise. For some reason it took me several years to get over my fear of having my throat blessed. I had this impression every year that the candles would be lit when placed around my throat, the priest would slip and I would be burnt. You would think that after the first year I would notice that the candles weren't lit. But the fear came back every year until at least the 4th grade.

Didn't get to Mass this morning (or the past two days for that matter) we still have the stomache thing going around in full force. We do have a couple partial recoveries, but some of the kids are in bad shape-keeping Mrs. Curley and I up at all hours with buckets and towels and changing sheets, etc. Finally we laid out the worst of them on the living room floor on sleeping bags, each with their own bucket. This centralizes the clean-up area. Enought about that....

Have been excerpted the past two days a little bit of John Meehan's "Two Towers" over at my other blog - where he discusses the circumstances surrounding the founding of Magdalen College in Warner, NH. Interesting reading....(and the book is 1/2 price when you buy Russell Shaw's "Catholic Laity in the Mission of the Church" at RequiemPress.)

That's it for now-from Bethany, the small holding in Bethune...Oremus pro invicem!

St. Blaise, ora pro nobis!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

We have this stomache thing going on around here. Number 3 son had it last week and is fully recovered. Everyone else but Mrs. Curley and I are down with it now. I had to fetch an egg this morning-hazardous duty I was told as we have a rooster which attacks number 2 son everytime he goes to feed the chickens or fetch an egg. I think it was tooooo cold this morning for the rooster to care. I came away unscathed. As soon as the help gets healthy we're going to pluck some chickens and load up the freezer.

Found the missing 1099, so the taxes are essentially done.

I have been reading a collection of short stories by Flannery O'Connor. I had never read her before, but was finally convinced after reading several people I admire refer to her writing with esteem. After reading the first couple stories, I must confess, I came away thinking some disturbing thoughts about Flannery O'Connor. Having read a few more, I can say that everything she writes isn't so disturbing, but I can't say I understand the attraction to her. Maybe I am too obtuse to understand the point of her stories. I could use some help here....

UPDATE: re: flannery O'Connor, found this quote over at Amy Welborn's Openbook

''O'Connor is important to the way this movie is constructed," he continues. ''What you do is you consider some so-called religious thinking without the didacticism of the classical approach. You look for the allegorical intentions of what we're taught in the Bible, and then find some way to have it revealed or expressed by common experience. You'll find this happening over and over again in O'Connor, who was a rather classical Catholic thinker who wrote about nothing but backwoods north Georgia rednecks." (my emphasis).

Finally, while I did mention this book a few weeks ago, it has finally been released: I got my signed copy of this book in the mail today from my youngest sister, author Agnes Penny...Get a copy for the wife or mother in your life! (From TAN books)

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

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


I regularly take our oldest dog, Challenger, for a run through the cornfields and forests which abut our property. Since my knee has been acting up over these weeks, our runs have been walks. Challenger is part hound, and I have found to my surprise that he can be very patient at times. We will walk for a while in the forest, and then he will stop dead still and wait and sniff the air. One time he stopped for 15 minutes. He was looking intently in one spot. I saw nothing. Then I heard rustling in the forest. Finally, some 200 feet away, I spotted a squirrel which was slowly making its way over to us. Challenger didn't move until the squirrel was within 5 feet of us-then he pounced. Of course, being on a leash, he come up empty.

While walking through the forest, you notice the quiet. But when you stop and listen for 10 minutes, you suddenly realize it is not so quiet. (Ever notice that the longer you look at stars, the more stars you see?) There are many noises that even your quiet walking disguises. I wonder if this is like prayer....

In our prayer, how often are we paying attention? Just like in the forest, maybe a true silence will help us hear what God is trying to tell us-if we would only listen! He is speaking, but we are too busy with our distractions-and often don't even know it. Thomas More wrote (from The Sadness of Christ):

I wish that sometime we would make a special effort, right after finishing our prayers, to run over in our minds the whole sequence of time we spent praying. What follies will we see there?...Indeed we will be amzaed that it was at all possible for our minds to dissipate themselves in such a short time among so many places at such great distance from each other, among so many different affairs, such various, such manifold, such idle pursuits.

Our late Holy Father, John Paul the Great wrote about silence in prayer in NOVO MILLENNIO INEUNTE:

...we cannot come to the fullness of contemplation of the Lord's face by our own efforts alone, but by allowing grace to take us by the hand. Only the experience of silence and prayer offers the proper setting for the growth and development of a true, faithful and consistent knowledge of that mystery which finds its culminating expression in the solemn proclamation by the Evangelist Saint John: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father" (1:14). (emphasis in original)

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