Thursday, August 31, 2006

Been scarce today...

... because we have finally released The Mini-Catechism -388 Fundamental Questions and Answers on the Catholic Faith. You can read description on my other blog or at the Requiem Press website. This is a revision based on CCC of the old Penny Catechism. Enjoy!

Oh yes, there are quantity discounts, so buy more than one!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A sorry state...

Last night number two son came to Mrs. Curley and myself just before bed with an old tooth in hand, saying:

"Hope you don't mind. I am throwing away this tooth. It has been under my pillow for 14 weeks now, and it just taking up space that I don't have."

We told him to put it back under his pillow-the tooth fairy just took the summer off.

John the Baptist

Herod feared John, knowing him to be a good and holy man, and guarded him carefully...Although John's words disturbed him greatly, Herod enjoyed listening to John.

It is enlightening to meditate on what we fear. Herod feared John in part because he realized John spoke truth. The truth is to be feared if you live a lie.

Yet Herod could not stay away from John. The truth has an attraction-even for those who want to deny it. (Herod is anxious to see Christ in the early hours after His arrest. Yes, Herod wants to see a miracle worker-but maybe he also wants to see if Christ is like John; maybe he wants to hear more of the truth-not that he will act on it. He has gone too far...)

Herod is a weak man. He knows John is good. He likes to listen to him even at the cost of personal anxiety-yet Herod fears his "wife's" displeasure and his own loss of pride more than he fears anything else. Herod "wife" sees Herod's fascination with John-with the truth. She must nip this in the bud so she doesn't lose her place.

It was rumored that Anne Bolyn asked to see John Fisher's head before it was placed on London Bridge. The tale is most likely false-but behind it certainly lies some truth. You can be sure that Anne Bolyn nagged Henry for the death of John Fisher-he was a lone voice reminding Henry of his sinful ways. Anne probably knew that Henry also had a fascination for truth (as Herod did), and that she needed to force the issue if she didn't want to lose her place.

This drama is carried out over and over at different levels in our own lives. We betray God with sin because we fear s0me earthly consequence more than we fear God. Thomas More would admonish us to contemplate more on the 4 Last Things. This meditation will help us resist temptation, trust God, and throw off our fears and concerns of this life.

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

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Movies & Books

Mrs. Curley read Heidi to the kids this past month. (Reading a good book aloud to the kids always seems to be a great hit.) At the end of the reading they watched the movie Heidi. Then they discussed the movie versus the book. Each (of those who can write) wrote a review comparing the two. Several of the reviews were extremely good. I wish I could quote from my oldest son's, but I don't have his handy.

Here are a few quotes from 8-year old daughter:

Sadness & Joy! Compare the two together. Then you will see that she (Heidi-ed) really had hard times. She had to make important decisions. And really I think the book is more inspiring than the movie because the book mentions God a whole lot. But, with the movie it didn't mention God at all! And the book didn't have as much violence and sadness. It didn't have the angriness and bitterness that the movie had. ...

Apparently God was replaced by a star which Heidi wishes on or talks to in the movie, (I didn't see the movie myself, I rely on the 'reviews').

I guess I am bragging on Mrs. Curley here a bit. She had never seen the movie, but after watching it with the kids decided on this discussion and paper.

Some of the comments I heard were very insightful. And this is the thing. Our kids need to be able discern and compare and contrast what they see and hear. They must be taught how at a young age as the secular world is closing in all around them. And as parents, as much as we would be willing to stand guard beside them our whole lives, it just doesn't happen that way.

It takes practice or training to stay alert and thinking when sitting in front of the television. (see Mr. Culbreath's 4-part article on television is worth a read. Part III here deals with higher brain function in front of the TV).

I think an example like this-while the TV Heidi was not particularly offensive in any way- I think the kids saw in a very open way how God is removed (in this case, it must have been pretty deliberate) from certain institutions in our society. I think it opened some eyes and confirmed Dad's frequent diatribes on the subject in a way I couldn't do myself. Again, kudos to Mrs. Curley's efforts. I was impressed.

On this great feast of the beheading of John the Baptist, Oremus pro invicem!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Ephesians 5:21: So...

...(stealing one from Openbook) what did you hear on Sunday? Was "let women be subject to their husbands…” addressed in the homily? Of course my take (or at least a portion of my take on the passage) can be found here. Pope Pius XI in Casti Connubii (see especially paragraphs 25-29, which deal with this specifically) makes clear this passage isn't just for 1st century Christians. But that doesn't mean we deal with it the same way some of our fundamentalist-type Protestant brethern do either.

Our pastor commented that each reading today contained a hard message for some. When he got to St. Paul's letter, he basically said that St. Paul was calling married couples to a deeper and more supernatural love for each other-more of a competition of love than a setting of boundries. I will leave it at that, as I don't want to put words in his mouth and I can't do justice to how he put the rest.

I do find it interesting that these readings are put together. If you read the Gospel first, where many disciples have left because of Christ's teaching of the Eucharist, and then see how St. Paul relates human marriage to Christ's marriage to His Church, it does inspire fear an awe for the role of a husband. It is a hard teaching-not so much to believe, but to live!

That they are both are hard teachings may be expected, but interesting how it is paired. How can you abide by the Church's teaching on marriage and family life if you don't believe in the Real Presence-because Sacramental marriage is intertwined with the Christ's pouring out His Blood on the cross-that is with the Eucharist.

No wonder the two crises in the Catholic Church and humanity today have to do with belief in the Real Presence and the sacredness of marriage!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Free Burgers!

One of the candidates for Kershaw County sheriff, Sammie Tucker, was hosting a 'greeting' session outside our local "Dollar General" store at lunch time today. They were giving out free dogs and burgers, so of course I stopped by with part of the clan.

His opponent has held office for 12 years and usually runs unopposed. Don't know much about the incumbant, but did spend 10 minutes or so talking to Mr. Tucker and then 15-20 minutes talking to his campaign manager.

Mr. Tucker believes the flow of drugs into Kershaw County can be stemmed with a little more communication and cooperation with the sheriffs from the next- door counties.

It makes sense to me. I don't know what the incumbant has to say about this, but I will look into it.

Our county is so sparsely populated that the drug traffikers find this a quiet place to do their deals without much interference.

And oh-the campaign manager has read visited Bethune Catholic at least once!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Through Mary's eyes...

I posted on reading John Paul II' s letter on the rosary a few days ago.

One of the things JPII said was that the rosary is like looking at Christ's life through Mary's eyes. Funny that I always focussed on the mystery and Christ, and not so much how our Blessed Mother viewed the scene.

So today, driving home from Columbia, I tried meditating on the mysteries through Mary's eyes. At one point, I tried to imagine one of my sons going through Christ's passion as our blessed Mother watched her son. I couldn't. I teared up and couldn't continue meditating along those lines (especially driving). That short moment brought a new perspective both to the thorn which pierced Mary's heart and Christ's Passion itself.

It keeps coming back...

Isn't there a song "It keeps coming back like a song?".

Well both here and here we read about new calls for a new political party. In the comments to the former post, Tom mentions that we need to change hearts among fellow Catholics and then we won't need a new political party. Of course he is correct, but in the meantime...

I am sure the 'new evangelization' written about by John Paul II (of happy memory) starts very close to home. We must re-evangelize fellow-Catholics who have fallen away or have never really understood the fullness of the Catholic Faith due to poor catechesis-at the same time, or even before we evangelize the larger culture. In reality, you work on all fronts according to your vocation and state of life.

There is an absolutely wonderful article in this week's (last week's?) The Wanderer (article not on line) by Alice Von Hildebrand on growing up in a Catholic family in a Catholic culture. Her first paragraph:

When one reads the stories of great conversions-and there are many-one wonders wheter it is a priviledge to be a cradel Catholic. The ardor of converts, their gratitude, their spiritual alerntess often put to shame those of us who since our infancy were blessed to be members of the Holy Catholic Church. Each conversion is a clarion call to both contirtion and gratitude.

Oh how true. But she goes on to explain that the wonder and ardor of the convert can be had and cultivated in at cradle-Catholic.

But back to the point....we do need both-but they are in different realms. We must re-evangelize our family members and fellow Catholics one soul at a time through our example and friendship. Yet we need also to put the ideas of a truly Catholic humanism into the marketplace of ideas (since we live in a democratic republic) -which is not being championed by either major party.

I have a feeling we wil be hearing more on this....

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Don't work too hard

I'm sure this has been noted else where, but...From ZENIT :

Benedict XVI said: "It is necessary to pay attention to the dangers of excessive activity, regardless of one's condition and occupation, observes the saint, (St. Bernard) because -- as he said to the Pope of that time, and to all Popes and to all of us -- numerous occupations often lead to 'hardness of heart,' 'they are no more than suffering for the spirit, loss of intelligence and dispersion of grace.'"

He goes on to note the 'primacy of prayer'.

Too busy to comment on this now....(get it?) ... will hopefully be back later.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Give us strength in temptation, endurance in trial, and gratitude in prosperity.

You may recognize these words from the intercessions of Morning Prayer for Wednesday, Week IV. At first glance I found it a bit odd that prosperity was put with trial and temptation. Surely we need strengh against temptation, endurance in trial, but gratitude in prosperity? Isn't that a natural reaction?

However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that gratitude is sometimes just as hard to muster as strength or endurance.

On one hand, there is of course always the temptation to want more, and thus not recognize the prosperity at hand. I think many of us fall into this. We don't realize how much of what we think of as necessities are really luxuries.

On the other hand, how often are we upset by the answer to our prayers. We are in tough financial straights and pray for that job, or that raise, or something to relieve the pressure. The job comes through, the raise occurs, the prayer is answered-but the job is not quite what we imagined; the raise brings on new responsibilities which demand more time or effort; the answered prayer isn't quite in the form we desired. So we look at the prosperity we prayed so hard for with contempt. (Oh, we are a stubborn people!) Instead of gratitude.

In fact, prosperity can take many forms. I was told this weekend that I was the richest man on earth by one of our dinners guests. He wasn't referring to our little old house here and little land. He was referring to my wife and children. This prosperity of mine-do I let it bring much joy into my life, or do I continue to worry about all the other things of life which will pass away in due time?

Gratitude: I thought I learned it at a young age-7th or 8th grade after reading "Great Expectations" by Dickens. But I have found it needs to be re-learned. At that time I learned gratitude specifically for my parents. As we get older we realize all the other blessings in our life.

I was talking to a friend yesterday who had been looking and praying for work. She is the mother of a large family whose husband can no longer work due to a physical condition. She is now working 4 part-time jobs. Certainly not what she was looking for, but .... she was happy and figured that God knew that running around like crazy from one job to the next was the best for her and fit her experience as a mother better than anything else.

Sometimes I think prosperity can be harder to handle than poverty and adversity.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Odds and Ends

It is funny how of all the pictures you take of your family, the ones at the beach always come out nicely. Here is a picture from this past winter. The seagulls would practically grab the food right out of your hands.

Then we have a couple pictures from the kids' annual Passion Play. (This is the fifth or sixth year. Each year we have a few more participants.) This year number 3 son played Christ, his first chance to play Christ. As you can see from the group picture, several families participated. Read more about our Passion Play here.


We had a couple of friends over for dinner on Sunday. One of them painted for us a marvelous icon of Christ being taken down from the cross to be put in the arms of his mother. The artist says the painting of icons is how he prays. It was a wonderful time with some great discussions and a little entertainment from the children.


And of course today is the celebration of the Queenship of Mary. It is awesome to think how our Mother, and she truly is our mother, is also the queen of heaven. It is a consolation, to be sure-unfortunately one that our Protestant brothers cannot share-(the consolation, that is, not of course the fact.)

On this wonderous memorial, let us pray for each other-Oremus pro invicem!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Chicken Strut (again)

Months ago when I posted about The Chicken Strut I promised pictures when they came in. Well, only 4 months later, here they are! As readers may recall, the Chicken Strut is the annual festival in Bethune. There is a carnival, parade, etc. Vendors line the two main streets in town. We took a booth ourselves to try to sell some crafts....

First, here's a couple pictures of the 'products':

Daughter made vine wreaths culled from the nearby forest and from dried flowers she had been saving. The picture shows a selection. She also made some "straight wreaths" of straw and flowers.

Here are the walking sticks that I and my oldest son worked on. Also you can see some toy wooden guns, one rifle, and some oven rack 'push-pulls' in the foreground.

We had a few other nick-nack crafts, but these were the main attractions...Now, onto the Chicken Strut...

Over on the far left (cut out from the picture) is 2nd son with his "oragami lessons" table. He got more business than the rest of us. You can see some of the other kids and Mrs. Curley hovering in the background. We had a good time even though, not a single wreath sold. Not a single wooden gun sold. Our only sale was one walking stick which had some beautiful figure on its head. A father bought this for his young son (8 or so), who thought it looked like a wizard's staff.

Some of the wreaths now adorn our home, some wait for a home in the garage. The walking sticks and toy guns sit in a corner of my office waiting also. We'll eventually find a home for them all.

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

Friday, August 18, 2006

Almost here...

Just a few more days until Requiem Press' next release "The Mini-Catechism", which is a revision (according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church) of the old Penny Catechism. We think it will be available by this time next week.

Just in time too. August (at least for us) is the deadest time of year for book sales. No one is buying books (I guess the $$ is going into 'back-to-school' purchases.)

I put a picture up before, but do so again.

Brother Charles Madden OFM Conv. of Marytown (author of Giving Up Stealing ... for Lent) did the revisions. It will retail for $4.50, but there will quantity discounts for those who would like to buy in bulk.

It will fit in your pocket and can serve as a quick reference and/or a quick give-away for someone you meet who has some basic questions about the Faith. We have had interest in using it for prison ministry. Look for it next week. (I'm sure I will announce it again here.)

Of course we hope it does well.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Around the horn

Missed linking to another great article yesterday on CatholicExchange by Russell Shaw (okay I am biased, but read it for yourself here.) Here's a bit:

Create a democratic regime in Iraq, we were told, and other countries in the region would be so thrilled that they'd rush to get on board the democratic bandwagon. Baghdad would be the Mideast's city on a hill.

Unfortunately, things haven't quite turned out like that. Iraqi democracy, propped up by US military force, is a sickly infant with an uncertain future. Nor does it help much that the only indisputably working democracy in that part of the world, Israel, has lately rained bombs on civilian targets in a feeble neighboring democracy, Lebanon.


The Wanderer and apparantly a newspaper in Hong Kong believe Israel's incursion into Lebanon is about annexing the Litani River. Don't know about that, but it is disconcerting that more and more commentary about the cease-fire seems to indicate this is just a rest for each side to either regroup or rearm.


Mr. Nichols wants to draft Wendell Berry for the 2008 presidential election. May not be a bad idea. I haven't voted for a major party candidate for president (except in primaries) in many a year. I have read something about W. Berry on Catholic and agrian blogs, but haven't read anything by him.....


While I don't listen to NPR usually, recently I have found myself in the car more often than usual lately. I missed this piece yesterday-but heard the previews for it. Now if my sound card worked, I would listen to it online. It is of particular interest-being somewhat local to us and being on a property somewhat similar in size to us. Of course I spend most of my time doing other things than farming....


We are embarking on a new path in homeschooling this year: Unit Studies. The idea is that you study one general or specific topic in great depth-usually this topic will span several subjects and can be adapted at the same time to multiple grade levels.

For example, you could do a unit study on South Carolina. This obviously would cover history and geography. But you could include a study of Catholicism in SC, scientists and scientific discoveries related to SC. SC literature through the years. etc. and etc. (Catechism and Math would probably be covered in separate classes.)

You get the idea. The unit study is usually centered on a topic which may lean towards one academic course-but the periphials cover almost all subjects. While it seems particularly applicable to center on history or geography, you could certainly (and we will) center the unit study on other subjects, like religion or science. And you go in depth-so you learn how to learn.

Our first unit study is going to be about latter 19th century America. Mrs. Curley will be reading the "Little House" books aloud. We hope to visit a living heritage farm. We will study Catholicism in America during this time. We will learn folk songs and hymns from the period. I'm told the kids will have the opportunity to wash their clothes by hand one day in the coming weeks on a wash board. They will learn how to cook some popular dishes from the period as well as breadmaking. They will read some of the literature (according to age) from the period and read several books about the period and peoples. Some of the older ones may interview an expert on some aspect of the period. They will do fall planting and garden prep by hand. You get the idea: crafts, geography, art.

We will end the unit study with a "barn-raising" complete with music, dancing, games and costumes I am told. It looks to be a lot of work, but it also sounds like we will all learn something.

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

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Holy Days and other things

Sorry for my absence yesterday. I overslept and that started the day off in a rush. I was going to go to the 7:30 AM Mass at St. Joseph's in Columbia-but ended up going to the 5:30 PM Mass.

When I was a kid going to Catholic schools, the schools weren't open on holy days. I guess times have changed. We had student orientations yesterday and full work day for the teachers. If your Catholic schools can't get it right concerning holy days-what hope can we have for the rest of society in respecting our religious practices?

Was given a copy of John Senior's The Death of Christian Culture. As long-time readers know, when I read his Restoration of Christian Culture, I posted about it the whole I was reading it (my kids refer to the book as the "Smash the TV book"). So look out. I am almost finished Chapter 1.

Stay tuned also: I have about six months worth of pictures I am developing this week. I'm sure some will their way onto Bethune Catholic.

Yesterday was the first holy day in over two years I didn't spend with the family. I hardly knew it was a holy day except for my pre0ccupation on how I was going to get to Mass after my initial plans were dashed on over-sleeping.

How to celebrate holy days and special saint's feasts and live a Christian culture in general within the family when I was working outside the home fulltime was a challenge Mrs. Curley and I constantly worked at. The past two and a half years, we have been able to do this differently with my offices at home and being my own boss. Now as I am working outside the home for part of the day, we need to remember a little on how we did things before. Always a challenge...

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

Monday, August 14, 2006

Jury Duty

Update: 2nd Case was a simple speeding case from 2002! (State trooper clocked him on radar at 84mph in a 70mph zone.) Apparently, one way to put off paying a fine for a year or more is to request a jury trial. The defendant didn't show up for this one either. Trial started at 2:30. We had reached a verdict and departed the courtroom by 2:40. Seems a waste of our tax money. The Judge apologized for the boring nature of the cases-but thanked us for coming in.

Case this morning was a Public Disorderly Conduct. Defendent didn't show up-but case went on anyway. Only witness to testify was the arresting officer. Defendent found guilty-but not without some discussion.

I have my second case in an hour. Will update this post when I get back.

The Weekend-secular Carmelites

Usually something really exciting or really intersting happens to us over the weekend. But this weekend, was an exception (although we did find a good home for the lone surviving puppy-that is EXCITING-believe me.)

Saturday morning was rainy. I spent a few hours finishing up the syllabae for the courses I am teaching this fall. Our neighbor came by to invite us to pick more figs. The boys will have to do it without me today because of Saturday's rain. I spent some time teaching a couple young ladies how to drive a manual transmission. I guess that was exciting at times too!

Secular Carmelites

Sunday after Mass, Mrs. Curley and I attended the Discalced Carmelite study group. (Oh yes, Fr. O'Holohan is back from vacationing in Ireland-and we are glad to have him back!) We are learning about Carmelite spirituality. Some questions came up...

One thing that was said was that Carmelites shouldn't be working soup kitchens. This certainly brought up some discussion as to whether this applies to secular Carmelites and how to reconcil this with the Gospel. I don't know the answer-especially as I am not an expert on Carmelites, but I surmise that it is something like this:

1. There are many different charisms in the Church;
2. Everyone has a unique vocation and is called to some sort of apostolate;
3. Every apostolate must have a prayer life as its basis;

With these premises, let's take some examples; NB all examples assume a prayer life of some meditation, the rosary, daily Mass whenever possible, frequent confession, etc.

A. Bobbi does pro-life work. She does sidewalk counciling on Saturday mornings outside abortion clinics. She volunteers at the local crisis pregnancy center and is the pro-life coordinator for her parish. She works as a nurse in the local nursing home. While she believes her vocation is to work in the pro-life area, and this is where she spends 90% of her 'apostolic time', she also donates food or clothing to the St. Vincent dePaul Society when they are doing a drive and has volunteered in a soup kitchen when her called up and they were short workers. However, her focus is on pro-life work.

B. Josh works with the poor. He works in a soup kitchen every Wednesday afternoon. He heads up his parish St. Vincent dePaul Society. He leads a coat drive every winter for the homeless etc., etc. He also meets once a month with friends to say a rosary to end abortion, writes an occasional letter to his congressman to try to convince him to be a pro-life legislator, and gives money to the crisis pregnancy center every Christmas-yet he spends 90% of his 'apostolic time' (for want of a better term) feeding and clothing the poor.

C. Billy is a secular Carmelite. He spends 90% of his 'apostolic time' in prayer. Prayer is his apostolate. He also donates money to pro-life causes, fills in at the soup kitchen if there is a shortage of workers, writes his congressman, etc. -after all, he is a lay man living in the world. But his apostolate is primarily that of prayer. The time that Bobbi spends on sidewalk on Saturday mornings outside the abortion clinic, and the time Josh spends Wednesday afternoon in the soup kitchen, Billy spends in prayer.

Do I have this right? We are all called to a deep prayer life (to be contemplatives in the world, let's say) but are also called to build up God's kingdom with the talents and unique vocation to which we are called as the laity. Any particular person cannot do everything-yet there is so much work to do. (I just selected a few examples above.) The laity have a different vocation than the cloistered-yet even here, any one person can't do everything, but must follow his unique call to a unique apostolate-one of which may be an apostolate of prayer...

What say y'all?

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Rosarium Virginis Maria

There has been a little criticism (in some quarters) of our late Pontiff, John Paul II, adding mysteries to the Rosary. After reading his Apostolic Letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae , yesterday, I can guess see why he did so.

It is quite clear in reading the letter that John Paul had a deep and long-lived devotion to our Lady and especially the Rosary. And I think in some sense, he may have been dismayed by the fact that not many people say the Rosary, and that others treat it more as a talisman than a means of meditation.

Thus, knowing that new mysteries would bring interest back to this traditional and effecatious means of prayer, he proposes a new set of mysteries to rejuvanate this lost tradition. I am sure he was aware that his cult of personality would contribute to this rejuvanation (in true Catholic spirit, we use everything we are given to direct people towards God.)

Some other thoughts on the letter...The emphasis on the rosary being a contemplative prayer:

Without contemplation, the Rosary is a body without a soul, and its recitation runs the risk of becoming a mechanical repetition of formulas, in violation of the admontion of Chirst: 'In praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think they will be heard for their many words' (Mt 6:7). [No. 12]

This is a real temptation. How many times have I 'got my Rosary done' and nary a thought of God or the mysteries passed through my mind as I recited the prayers mindlessly as I daydreamed about my next endeavor. Prayer is work-not magic. Yet I think we (maybe just I) approach the Rosary as a little magic. Simple say it and your obligation is fulfilled and your prayer submitted.

Chapter III gives some wonderful tips on saying the Rosary. Some of the tips are well-known (i.e. to use scriptural passages after the mystery to help you meditate), some are less substantial, but also less known-at least here. For instance-to sing the Glory Be at the end of each decade. Wonderful.

And here:

The centre of gravity in the Hail Mary, the hinge as it were which joins its two parts, is the name of Jesus. Sometimes, in hurried recitation, this centre of gravity can be overlooked, and with it the connection to the mystery of Christ being contemplated. Yet it is precisely the emphasis given to the name of Jesus and to his mystery that is the sign of a meaningful and fruitful recitation of the Rosary. Pope Paul VI drew attention, in his Apostolic Exhortation Marialis Cultus, to the custom in certain regions of highlighting the name of Christ by the addition of a clause referring to the mystery being contemplated. [No. 33]

This strikes home in many ways. Some years ago my boys and I went on camping trip with a friend and his sons. We sat around the campfire that first night saying the Rosary-each boy taking a turn leading a decade. My sons were able to get through their decade in a couple minutes flat-each word pronounced as it sped through their lips at 60 mph. Yet my friends boys carefully recited each Hail Mary. My boys got this from me. I knew I could say a Rosary in 10 minutes or less-but realized I had seldom prayed the rosary and was teaching my boys to only say it also. I don't know that we have had much sustained improvement during those years, but this letter was another wakeup call. John Paul writes:

By its nature the recitation of the Rosary calls for a quiet rhytm and a lingering pace.... [No. 12]

Recommended reading...I know I will be sharing some of this with the family later today also.

(One more note: I had never heard of Blessed Bartolo Longo and his Supplication to the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary. Something more to look into.)

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

Friday, August 11, 2006

Jury Duty

Well I pulled 2 cases for Monday. One is a speeding case and the other I'm not sure-although it is not a DUI. There were several DUI's, but I missed them all because they were being heard on the the days I got excused from (the first 2 days of school).

There were 2 wandering preachers in the pool. Both were excused from every DUI case by the defense. I understand that the prosecutor and defense attorneys have a certain number of jurors they can eliminate 'without cause', but it seems from my experience serving on juries (albeit limited) that certain people will never be sat on a jury for certain things. I wonder if this is fair?

Got things to do, but I'll be back later. I finally read this morning while waiting in jury pool John Paul II's entire letter on the rosary. I had read pieces here and there, but never the entire thing. Need to comment on it later today.

Jury duty this morning. Will check back in later...

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Consider Well

As a society, we don't often like to contemplate death. We see it as an unpleasant business. (Caution: generalization coming with many exceptions not discussed....) We put out parents in nursing homes so we don't have to take care of them or see them very often as they approach death. Aging reminds us we are not so all powerful over our own fate-so we try to avoid it.

Everything is advertised by the young and the beautiful so as deny aging exists. We are willing to kill and experiment on our young (and voiceless) so we can eliminate disease. The fountain of youth is sought by our scientific research for a culture and a people who see no value in pain, suffering, or death.

Yet the Church has always encouraged us to contemplate death and our destiny (the four last things). I think the more you contemplate death, the less afraid of it you become in general. You may still fear damnation as you look upon your sins, but the whole idea of death not being an end but a beginning or at least a transition is not so frightening in and of itself. As man, most of us still want to hold on to this life (unless we have reached those spiritual heights and union with God which we should through a deep prayer life) as we have a natural (or maybe fallen) fear of the unknown. But HOPE blossems in the contemplation of death.

We can't truly put our treasure in Heaven and live for a new life in Heaven if don't contemplate Heaven and those things which go with it-namely death.

So what prompts all this discussion this morning? My sister sent me a poem she came across by Sir Thomas More which discusses these very things-and also, most practically, the way to ask for the grace when under the assault of temptation. Without further ado, I give you Sir Thomas More:

Consider well that both by night and day
While we busily provide and care
For our disport, our revel and our play,
For pleasant melody and dainty fare,
Death stealeth on full slily; unaware
He lieth at hand and shall us all surprise,
We wot not when nor where nor in what wise.

When fierce temptations threat thy soul with loss
Think on His Passion and the bitter pain,
Think on the mortal anguish of the Cross,
Think on Christ's blood let out at every vein,
Think of His precious heart all rent in twain;
For thy redemption think all this was wrought,
Nor be that lost which He so dearly bought.

Thomas More tried to spend every Friday afternoon in the chapel contemplating Christ's Passion.

It is also appropriate to think of these things on today's feast of St. Lawerence-Mrs. Curley's name saint.

St. Lawrence, deacon and martyr-ora pro nobis!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Understanding Scripture

What a title for a post! My point (which comes at the end) is quite modest. By way of loooong introduction.....

Here and there in the past I have made mention of a men's prayer group I was part for some years. Let me fill in some of the details... The group was started in the fall of 1996 by Fr. Gary Linsky at St. Joseph's parish in Columbia, SC. Some (depending on the week) 12 to 20 men gathered in the basement of the church hall at 6:30 AM on Wednesday mornings. I remember being hesistant before attending my first session. I only went because I had seen Fr. Linsky say Mass and heard his homilies-I thought him trustworthy...but still there was a nagging doubt that we would be holding hands and singing Kum-ba-yah. But not to fear. He taught us how to pray the liturgy of the h0urs and then we would have a free-wheeling discussion on whatever was on our minds (finances, being fathers, confession, etc) or whatever was on his mind. If we missed a meeting, he would grab us after Mass on Sunday and wouldn't let go of us until we promised to show up the following week. He was helping us become truly Catholic men.

My best friends-always those you can and do pray with-were made from this group.

Since Fr. Linsky left (he is now an Air Force chaplain, serving in the Iraq area twice and now, I believe, in Japan) we have had a series of chaplains for the group. With Fr. Kendall, we read "Guardian of the Redeemer" and learned lectio divina. With Fr. Miles we read the Gospel of John, the Book of Revelation, Romans... With Fr. Selzer we learned how to do some contemplation. The current chaplain is Fr. Whitman. One common strain throughout has been the praying of Morning Prayer.

I stopped going to the MPG (as we call it) last August. We had moved out of the city a year before and, between gas prices and other things, I finally stopped attending. But with my new schedule this year, I have returned once again to the MPG. Yesterday was my first day back.

Now, the MPG is reading and meditating on the coming Sunday's readings for Mass. When we meet (now on Tuesdays) we discuss what has struck us and what questions we might have.

(Get ready, we are coming close to the part which concerns the title to this post.)

I had a question yesterday. The link between the Old Testament reading, the psalm, and the Gospel is usually fairly evident. Yet, often the New Testament reading's connection with the others seems non-existant or tenuous at best. So is there a connection and how in the world can you figure it out?

(Note, in particular we were discussing yesterday, the readings for August 13th.) Fr. Whitman suggested that we read the readings in the order which they were written-and then the connection may become more clear. Almost as soon as he said that, (having read the 3 several times before the meeting) I understood the connection between St. Paul's reading for that week with the OT and Gospel-where a moment before it was obscure to me.

Fr. explained it something like this (paraphrasing poorly I am sure): The OT reading is God's preparation for us on some revealation (in this case it had to do with the Eucharist.) The Gospel reveals the truth. The New Testament reading applies the truth, it in some way, to the Christian community.

So, there you go. Never be confused again. But seriously, I had never thought of it in this way. I am glad to be back at MPG.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Catholic Schools

As mentioned here recently, I will be teaching a little math at a Catholic high school this fall, (actually starting today...) Interestingly, Amy Welborn has a post yesterday about Catholic schools (in this case how one goes about choosing the school for one's kids.) This section really caught my eye:

When I taught in Florida, I had a marvelous theology department - three of us - knowledgeable, faithful folks, determined to teach and to overcome the history of the department (personified by a coach who gave everyone A's and so on, because "you can't grade people on their faith!") and to provide a balanced, interesting curriculum.

We did a good job. We did good jobs. But in the end, we could have only a limited impact because the culture of the school - an identity which emphasized being a "private" school as opposed to a Catholic on, and a student body that was 40% non-Catholic, only a sporadic chaplain presence (priests came around to say Mass once a month or so) other factors eventually led all three of us to greener pastures. I often think of my student Kelly - a wonderful girl who was totally serious about her faith, and was really the only one in her class, was subtly ostracized for it, and shed some tears about it at the Senior Retreat.

There's a power there, in that mileu that one or two teachers can't beat - a totally committed administration, who took a close look at the teaching staff (majority non-Catholic, and young God bless them, (because of the low pay) but you know....when you, the religion teacher, have to explain to the Honors World History teacher who Constantine was and what he've got a problem...) and admissions might do it, but...lacking that..

This perfectly describes the school I am going to teach at some 8-10 years ago when my daughter attended there for 1 year. (That was the point we decided to give homeschooling a fling-at that time for us, it was an agonizing decision-but the right one, it turns out.) The religion teacher was orthodox and devout-but the school's culture was secular to say the least. Since that time, a new principle was hired, and he did make strides to bring a Catholic identity to the school. Now for instance, there is a constant Eucharistic presence on campus. A couple years ago a priest was teaching at least one course. But that principal has moved on. A new principal starts this year (last year they had an interim principal). It will be interesting to see what the school is like now-and the direction it goes.


In a related note, blogging may be a little less common than in the past. I am going to try to post something everyday, but multiple posts will be scarce. More on this later.

Here's a laugh

There are certain authors and books I track on various used book websites-in case I ever the money to buy one of these. This morning I got an email notifying me of a book available by Dom Bede Camm OSB. Of course he is the author of Requiem Press' first book. I track him as he wrote a few other books of interest to me. So I clink on the link and find... it's our very book! Witnesses to the Holy Mass and other sermons (note the original title was different).

Note that the bookstore is in England, and the price: $34.05!

Now, it is a great book-but you can get it here brand new for only $8.95.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

The weekend & The Mark of Zorro

Saturday we worked. Dug a new compost heap. Mrs. Curley read a book which recommended digging a hole 2-3 feet deep and then forming the compost heap in layers: compost, grass, manure (if available), dirt, repeat. Hopefully this will work better than it has in the past. Further, with our "new" (using the term very loosely) pickup truck I have the means to retrieve an almost unlimited supply of free horse manure (if I can find that phone number). So next year's garden should be well fertilized and maybe our yield will be better.


We also picked figs on Saturday. We have a neigbor who has a huge fig tree. He can't climb the ladder to pick them anymore, so he asked us over to get as many as we could. He gives some to his sister who makes up some fig preserves for him and her. We came home with a basket full-and are they gooood!. Now we just need some recipes as Mrs. Curley has never done anything with figs before and can't find any recipes in her cookbook.


Sunday, the plan was to be out of the house before dawn, go to Mass in Charleston and then hit the beach. But with overcast skies in the morning and the forecast predicting 40% chance of rain on the coast, we decided to stay home. Since we were all up and ready to go so early though, we went to Mass at another parish (not our own) as they had an early Mass. Coming home, we all got to work on our projects (see this entry). After lunch we had a rehearsal for our play (The Play of St. George, a traditional folk play. See the post linked above also.)-which is coming along nicely. We will probably perform it in a few weeks. Lines are being memorized, sword fights (practically) choreographed, and songs being learned. It is really coming together-and fun for all of us.


Finally, to round off the afternoon, we watched the 1920 version of the Mark of Zorro. Starring Douglas Fairbanks, this silent film (in my opinion) has the most character development, best acting, and best action (Mr. Fairbanks does his own stunts) of any Zorro movie/television series I have seen.

Character development? Don Diego/Zorro woes a young lady, but Don Diego is shy in his own persona. He only can express his love (in poetry no less) when speaking from behind the mask.

Except for a comment at the beginning of the movie, calling Oliver Cromwell an enemy of oppression, the movie has some definite 'Catholic' moments. Don't take my word for it-a real movie critic has this to say:

In one striking sequence, a dignified old Franciscan friar, falsely accused of fraud, contemptuously tells the corrupt magistrate, "If I were a supporter of the licentious governor, I would be innocent. I am a robed Franciscan — therefore I am guilty!" The magistrate has the priest flogged for these "treasonous" remarks — an outrage that immediately causes a bystander, well-born but impoverished caballero Don Carlos Pulido (Charles Hill Mailes), to intervene despite the consequences he will surely incur. In a touching scene, we see the priest being carted off to safety, blessing his rescuers with the sign of the cross.

When Zorro hears of the flogging, he is furious. First, he has the magistrate himself flogged in the same manner. Later, turning on a posse of blue-blooded caballeros pursuing him "for sport," he denounces them: "You sit idly sipping wine while the naked back of an unprotesting soldier of Christ is beaten!" This outrage, more than any other, finally turns the tide in Zorro’s favor.

Read the rest of the excellent review of an excellent movie here.

You would think that in this day and age a black and white silent movie (90 minutes no less) would hold no interest for kids (or adults for that matter). I beg to differ. My sister gave us a copy of this movie a year and a half ago. The kids absolutely love it (we've watched it at least 3 times), and Zorro becomes a member of the family for a few days after watching it.

Friday, August 04, 2006

It's first Friday...

go to Mass (if you can!)

Blogging, Arguing, and Prayer?

(Hat tip to The Curt Jester you can also read it at here) Russell Shaw comments on Catholic blogging this morning.

... blogging is a potent tool for expressing the responsible public opinion in the Church that's been endorsed at the highest levels from Pope Pius XII to Pope John Paul II.

If anyone thinks public opinion doesn't belong in the Catholic Church, he or she will find the papal Magisterium on the other side of the argument. As a matter of fact, in the last major document of his pontificate, Pope John Paul echoed Pope Pius in declaring that if public opinion were absent from Catholic life, "something would be missing from the life of the Church."

On the other hand, no one even slightly familiar with the blogosphere can help being aware that it's the kingdom of the gossips, the ideologues, the cranks, and the no-holds-barred venters of spleen — a place in cyberspace where opinion, rumor, ad hominem nastiness, and unfettered ego-tripping are par for the course.

Of course none of this is new to anyone reading this. In recent months, I really try to stay away from comment boxes arguments, at least on certain hot topics, as a general rule, because this is where the real nastiness can take hold and disrupt your day. And, you never, in my experience, really gain any headway. (That is not to say I stay away from all disagreements in comment-boxes, but there are certain topics, certain people, and certain blogs thatwhen entered into, arguments disintegrate pretty quickly.)

I guess there is two takes on this. The first is that if you believe something to be true, you should argue it for it to the end. And to a certain extent, I am sympathetic to this view. But, moderation in all things. There is a time to remain silent...

St. Thomas More gave up arguing with son-in-law Will Roper over the follies of Luther's theses and committed his cause to prayer, (which, by the way, succeeded in conversion).

Sir Thomas More privately talked in his garden with his daughter Margaret, and amongst his other sayings, said: "Meg, I have borne a long time with thy husband; I have reasoned and argued with him in those points of religion, and still given to him my poor fatherly counsel; but I perceive none of all this able to call him home; and therefore, Meg, I will no longer argue nor dispute with him, but will clean give him over, and get me another while to God and pray for him." --(Harpsfield, "The Life and Death of Sir Thomas More")

I think this is most often the better way.

I believe in "Search and Rescue" by Patrick Madrid there is a line that goes something like this: You have to get used to the fact that it may not be YOU or YOUR WORDS and arguments that convert or bring back that loved one to the Faith.

It seems to always to come down to prayer. And yet we want to do it ourselves, with our own words and writings. Sure God will use these-but often not for our intended purposes or audience.

Sort of got off topic here, but ...

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

Truth in Advertising...

You've all read about the dog problems we've had over the years-especially the chicken and dog problems. Well, we have 4 dogs right now (not counting the puppy who will soon be given away.) How we happend to acquire four is a long story, but suffice to say that four is at least 2 too many in my mind. So we came up with a plan to find homes for a couple of the dogs.

Number two son was tasked with making a sign to put around town advertising one of our dogs. Here is the rough draft he showed me last night:

So I said to him: "Son, do you think this is good advertising? I mean you didn't list many good habits."

He replies with a shrug, "What good habits does he have? He doesn't come when you call; he doesn't obey."

He's right about it all. Truth in advertising. So, is there anyone out there who wants a really good looking dog who kills chickens, chases cars, limps due to birdshot in one leg, doesn't obey, doesn't come when you call, but is good with kids? Free to a good home. (Here's the picture)

Thursday, August 03, 2006


Usually this week we are at the Catholic Marketing Network (CMN) tradeshow in the Philidelphia area. We've met some great folks there in the past and real miss it. But with 4 books in preparation for the fall, and a million things to do, we have forgone the CMN show to put our marketing resources in other areas. We'll probably be back there next year.

Musings from a Catholic Bookstore who is at the show comments on his blog (for some reason I can't cut and paste the quote or link to his exact post):

"At least its Dry heat" really takes on a new meaning going from 90 degrees with 10% humidity in Colorado to 100 degrees and 89% humidity in Philidelphia.

Mr. Culbreath mentioned last week how the heat may have contributed to his chickens' reduced production.

It looks like if you want to beat the heat you should come to Bethune, SC. While we are having our typical heat for this time of the season, compared to other places, it may be considered quite comfortable, even balmy-especially under our ceiling fans. Try mid-90's with 60% humidity. Sounds inviting? Y'all come on over!


Over at Amy Welborn's this morning is a comment from Gashwin Gomes which is highlighted. The subject is Scriptural Studies and catechesis. Here is the part of the comment I want to focus on:
When the General Directory for Catechesis came out (the one from the Vatican, in, 1997 I think it was), I read through it eagerly, and one of the things that struck me was this: the goal of all catechesis is union with Jesus Christ.
"union with Jesus Christ"-that is basicallyhow our pastor has expressed to us the purpose of the CCD classes we teach.

We try to accomplish this by teaching 1. What Jesus Christ's Church teaches and believes (the catechism), 2. What God has revealed to us in Scripture (we read from the Bible in every class), and 3. How to pray-to come to know Jesus Christ (at early ages, this is simply knowing your prayers and the rosary etc.. By the time jr. high and high school has come around, a deeper prayer life is necessary; how to pray/meditate with Scripture, etc. is on the adgenda.)

All levels of our CCD classes have these three coponents-appropriate for age. We are lucky to have this at our parish-but every parish should have such a program. We are only going into the third year with it, but I think we already see some fruits.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

More Reform of the Reform....

The essential key for the new evangelization-for practicing Catholics, as well as for slack and lapsed Catholics, and for non-Catholics-is the restoration of sacred music, especially Gregorian Chant, to sunday Mass, said Francis Cardinal Arinze at the 21st annual Church Teaches Forum held here (Lousiville, KY) July 14th and 15th. (from The Wanderer 27 July 2006)

Some readers think I may harp on music because I am some sort of musician. That can't be farther from the truth. I can play "Little Brown Jug" and "My Dog Has Fleas" on the Ukelele and part of "Heart and Soul" on the piano. That's the extent of my musicianship. Singing? I have one note that I can hit well-and I hit it for every note, in every song. When I have a cold, that one note shifts to a deeper one. I am tone deaf. Yet my talent and ability (or rather lack thereof) doesn't make me indifferent to music. On the contrary, as can be seen by periodic posts on it, I am concerned about music, both liturgical and non-liturgical.

Some may say that one type of liturgical music is as good as another-that it is a matter of taste. But the Church does not say this. It gives preference to Gregorian Chant. Liturgical music is not about taste-it is about worship.


Since we are writing of things liturgical, Kelly Clark posts about "receiving" Holy Communion in the hand here. She does ponder instances of abuse not likely to occur if received on the tongue. But another point jumped out at me. That is, those people who don't "receive" but "take" the host from the priest (if you are lucky enough to have a priest distributing Holy Communion). The Holy Eucharist should be received in humilty as a bride receives the bridegroom-not "taken" or grabbed as a right.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

"Why not become a Baptist?"

That is what my daughter said to me as she watched me construct a blog entry- after I commented that I could not stand to be un-justified (as in print alignment.)

And the winner is ...

Actually-response was so good and comments so heartfelt, that we decided to give 2 books away. This afternoon my youngest son and daughter picked the winners' names out of a hat: (drum roll please....)

Mike the Geek and TS

Congratulations to both of you! Both winners can email me at: info(AT)requiempress(DOT)com to provide us with their shipping address for their prize copy of Dr. William May's memoirs: Standing with Peter. (I expect books will ship around the end of September.)

Regarding the results of the voting: Cover C edged out A for victory with B coming in a very distant 3rd. There were several suggestions on coloring, moving the photo to the back cover, scrapping the newspaper headlines, fixing the photo, etc. We have already begun sorting through these and mocking up some of the better ideas.

Following are a couple comments (from me) which may give you some insight to the design process here. Different cover ideas are brainstormed and then the best of the lot are put to paper (screen). Sometimes a detail here or there are somewhat arbitrary-at least at first-until we get some critical reviews.

In the case of this particular book, I do feel the blog pictures were not as good as they should have been. For instance I am not sure all the voters noticed that the gray (B) background was embossed print.

Some commenters were distracted by the newsprint background. While others liked the newsprint and found it interesting. Much of Dr. May's career was shaped by the events of 1968, and in opposition to others who defend their dissent from "Peter" over these events to this day. Certainly, if we use it, it should be in the background-how much is the question....

There were some color comments which we have already tried and think may be effective. And there were some details on the picture which we are also considering.

Our thanks go out to all of you. Whether your particular preference or idea is acted upon or not, the book cover will be better because of your votes and constructive criticism. God bless you!

Kings Mountain

Growing up in the North, when we studied the American Revolution, the focus was on Lexington and Concord, the battle of Bunker Hill, etc. I don't recall South Carolina being taught as a key battle area in the war. Yet more battles were fought in South Carolina than any other colony. And, if you believe what you hear at the battlefields down here, Kings Mountain was the turning point of the war and set up Washington's victory at Yorktown.

So in the spirit of learning, I retrieved from the library this past weekend, "Kings Mountain and Its Heroes" by Lyman C. Draper (1881). It should be interesting reading-even if heavily biased. (It will be interesting to see what Mr. Draper's take is on the horrible massacre which ensued after the battle was won and the British had surrendered.) I think I have a more recent (and shorter, this old book is almost 600 pages) account of Kings Mountain in my library here somewhere. Reading both will give me two perspectives in time.

Of course we have been to Kings Mountain a few times as it is less than 2 hours from here. (See this post for our some details of that trip and other expeditions.) One more tidpit on the battle of Kings Mountain (which really is only a hill), most think that Davy Crockett's father participated in the battle.

Oh yes, look for the results from the "Cover poll" later today.