Friday, May 30, 2008

Feast of the Sacred Heart

V. Jesus, meek and humble of Heart.
R. Make our hearts like unto Thine.

(image courtesy of Holy Cards for Your Inspiration -Note how the Rosary-meditations on the Life of Christ with our Blessed Mother is linked to Christ's Sacred Heart. )

After Mass and confession this morning we will come home and enthrone the Sacred Heart of Jesus as the King of our home (and hopefully of our hearts.) We will forgive and ask forgiveness of each other for what wrongs we have done against each other; we will sing and pray; and each child will kneel and ask his parents blessing.

Oremus pro invicem!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

An interview

with Russell Shaw from Inside Catholic:

My book (Nothing To Hide: Secrecy, Communication, and Communion in the Catholic Church-Ignatius Press) ends with some practical recommendations. For instance: adopt policies that guarantee openness in conducting the business of dioceses and parishes and religious institutes; make a fresh start with pastoral councils and finance councils by giving them a real say in decisions and making their proceedings public; give qualified lay Catholics a consultative voice in the choice of their bishops and pastors; put freedom-of-information policies in place in Church institutions; allow diocesan newspapers to be more than house organs and operate as reliable sources of information and vehicles for public opinion. We have to revive the ideal of shared responsibility, too -- not as part of a power struggle, but so that we can all work together for the welfare of the Church.

You all know I am a Russell Shaw fan, but will this work without becoming a power struggle (remember the apple)? (Read the comments below the article too-not a comprehensive discussion, but some good points scored on both sides.)

If I may weigh in briefly...I think dioceses are much too big. The Bishop has a role of shepard more than administrator. What is a good shepard? Perhaps the best definition comes from Christ: I know my sheep and they know me. How many Bishops can say this? I think if Bishops concentrate on their roll as teacher of the Faith and shepard of their flock, then many other things will fall into place.

Oremus pro invicem!


Fame and fortune (or at least sort of the former): Number one son's picture showed up in the Catholic Miscellaney (diocesan newspaper) this week from a story on some folks from Florence, SC who traveled to DC for Pope Benedict's Mass at the National's stadium. (My son is the one with the red arrow pointing at the back of his head.)


I can't recall a cooler spring or a wetter one. Showers yesterday brought a cold front through last night. Here it is the end of May and I think there have only been a handful of days in the 80's. I can recall May's where the temperature was 95 or above for most of the month. And the rain is beautiful (and it keeps the water bill in check.)


I am about half-way through Left to Tell. I don't recall much about the genocide in Rwanda in the early 90's. I paid a lot of attention to the news back then, but my clearest recollection was not of a genocide, but of two peoples fighting. In reality, it was a bit more one-sided than that. (I don't know if it was my lack of attention or that the media and/or government did give it much play.) Reading Immaculee's account, she wonders aloud why no Western countries came to their aid. She believes because the apparent disregard of the situation by the West emboldened the Hutu government to intensify the genocide. They shut down all schools and business and handed out machetes and guns to the citizens to kill Tutsi. Unbelievable!

But through all this, Immaculee prayed. She has been hiding in a 4' X 3' bathroom with 5 other women for over a month. She has come to the conclusion she will survive the ordeal:

I was certain that God had a greater purpose for me, and I prayed every day for Him to reveal it to me. At first I was expecting Him to show me my entire future all at once-maybe with a flash of lightning and a clap of thunder thrown in for good measure. But I came to learn that God never shows us something we aren't ready to understand. Instead, He lets us see what we need to see, when we need to see it. He'll wait until our eyes and hearts are open to Him, and then when we're ready, He will plant our feet on the path that's best for us ... but it's up to us to do the walking.

Interesting that unless we pray we will never be "ready to understand" and our hearts will never be open. Every solution always comes back to prayer!

Oremus pro invicem!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

going back

When I worked in Lexington (SC), I would often visit the Catholic Church which was 5-10 minutes from my job. It wasn't our parish, but I spent some time there. On Wednesdays there was a noon Mass, which I got to more often than not. The rest of the week I would very often stop in during my lunch hour and make a Spiritual Communion or pray the Stations of the Cross, or just pray. Here is the spiritual communion I learned as a boy:

I wish my Lord to receive you with the purity, humility, and devotion with which your most holy Mother received you; with the spirit and the fervor of the saints.

Yesterday I made a visit to this same Church-the first time in over 4 years. It's funny how some things seem like an old forgotten friend. Christ is the same in every tabernacle, yet sometimes a place is like a song-it can bring you back in time. Over an almost 10 year period, I spent much time in prayer in front the tabernacle at Corpus Christi praying for my family, for discernment, for friends and trying to listen.

I remember my first visit there. I had just started my job after relocating from MA with the family. We were living in a hotel (for six weeks) and it was a bit stressful. Corpus Christi has a large vestibule area. I looked at the weekly bulletin, the literature rack, and finally at the bulletin board. Staring back at me was a picture of my very own sister! You see, my sis is a sister in the Daughters of St. Paul and she was gracing a recruitment poster.

Oremus pro invicem!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Heard on the radio ...

Afghanistan has a food crisis, rising grain costs, and has to import food because of lack of rain AND because may farmers illegally grow opium instead of crops (although there are hopes with the price of grain rising more farmers will opt out of the illegal and return to legal farming).

In Israel the farmers are upset because they can't get their crops across the border into Gaza due to border closings, and thus are losing money.

Every week the radio I hear these contrasting stories-why there are food shortages (often political or cultural shifts to industry) and the flip side, farmers having food but can't get it to market.

Related: in my trip to the city this morning I followed a huge truck housing over 100 hogs. They looked about the size of ours, but I bet they didn't get the daily belly rub and care ours get....

Oremus pro invicem!

I remember ...

when I had time to think about things. Oh I am not so distracted now as I have been in the past; but when I was a young man I spent lots of time planning my life.

I remember wanting to be a saint. (Hah, you laugh-knowing me now as you do.) Some of those thoughts may have had origins in presumption and pride-but at least it was being thought about.

Now I never think about that kind of thing-I am too busy doing.

Oremus pro invicem!

Monday, May 26, 2008

SFR - revisited

One rainy Sunday afternoon two years ago, the family watched the Swiss Family Robinson (Disney version). You can read all about my impressions here.

Yesterday, we watched it again (not because it was raining, but because Mrs. Curley & I had an acute case of tiredness from the game of Risk the night before-see post below.) I popped a couple huge batches of popcorn and we sat down to watch.

Mrs. Curley and I passed some knowing looks as Mr. and Mrs. Robinson discussed their plight and their final decision throughout the movie. It confirmed my writings about the movie mentioned above. But there was one bit of dialog at the end which maybe we missed before, but had a particular meaning for us. They have just made their decision to stay on the island forever. Here it is:

Mrs. Robinson: Its been a good life for us here. Of course, as Rebbecca says, there are some few things you have to do without.

Mr. Robinson: It's surprising how unimportant those few things seem when you don't have people stopping by feeling sorry for you.

The point is, we are very happy here. There are "some few things" we have to do without or have to wait for-but we have chosen this-willingly. I have had several opportunities in the past 4 years to go to work again for companies with great pay and benefits-we would have all the material things we could want .... but we wouldn't have the freedom to be a family that we have here.

Not to say all is bliss. We have our faults, but we have time to work on them together, if we have the courage to face them and not run away.

Oremus pro invicem!

On Easter, we gave each of the children a "ticket" for a free game or movie night alone with Mom & Dad. A couple of weeks ago, number 2 daughter redeemed hers for a game of Scrabble. Saturday night number 3 son redeemed his for a game of Risk.

Mrs. Curley had never played Risk, and I had only played a couple times-25-30 years ago. Neither of us realized that it is a loooooooooong game. Starting at 8:30 PM, you just can't quit at 9:30 ... or 10:30 (past my bedtime) ... or 11:30 ... You get the picture. I am embarrassed to even say how long the game lasted. I will say that number 3 son was patient in building his army all night (and early morning) and then destroyed both Mrs. Curley and myself in one fell swoop.


As we are doing the novena to the Sacred Heart every day-I have been struck by two things. The first is how truly the Divine Mercy devotion is just another view of the Sacred Heart. The prayers of the novena we are doing (which is pretty old) are reflected in the Divine Mercy novena we do every year. (Although our pastor has mentioned this before, I never realized it for myself. I am getting a lot out of this novena.)

Secondly, I note that the first Sunday of Easter is Divine Mercy Sunday, and while the Easter season has ended, the celebration continues with some big feasts: Trinity Sunday, Corpus Christi, but it all ends with the Feast of the Sacred Heart this coming Friday. This season is almost bookended by the Sacred Heart.


From Dorothy Day (hat tip to Stephen Hand):

How far one's vocation will take one, is always a mystery, and where one's vocation will take one. But I believe it to be true always that the foundations are always in poverty, manual labor, and in seeming failure. It is the pattern of the Cross, and in the Cross is joy of spirit.

(the last part of this quote "seeming failure" is scary-especially for a man like myself, a product of the 'results-oriented' culture. How to have joy in failure?)

Oremus pro invicem!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Satrurday-what's up?

I have been fighting the lawn mower for a couple weeks now-ordered one part, but can't get all the other parts apart to replace the broken one. So I need to order some more parts. In the meantime, the front yard is starting to look like a neglected pasture-but it's not fenced in so I can't put the goats on it. (A week ago I put the sons on it with some hand clippers-but while it makes a good punishment, it is impractical for cutting a lawn.)

Have planted 5 more rows of beans this morning and hope to plant a couple more before the rain (please!!!). I planted some more sunflowers too. The goats (and the pigs and chickens for that matter) will love them. However we have many more to plant.

My two oldest sons fenced in another overgrown area this week and built a lean-to (which stayed dry during a horrific downpour a couple nights ago). Hilary, Obama and their mother Nanny are staying there. Their mission is to clear that place.

We need to build a small barn/milking shelter and a cool (1/2 underground) multipurpose building (read: slaughter house). We've always done the chickens outside, but this is painful when it is both very hot or very cold and the wind blows feathers everywhere. Now with the impending pig slaughter and butcher, we need a cool place to slaughter and hang the carcasses overnight. Since this will be happening at the end of June (great timing Rockfish!) I have planning, planning-but it is getting close to the time to act.

We have the site-it is just behind the goat/pig area. We will run a fenced passage between the goat pen and the milking shed. The milking shed will have a cement floor, but will be at ground level. the foundation will be cinder block, but the walls will be logs. At the back end of the milking shed will be a door which leads to the slaughter room, down some steps (or a ramp) as the slaughter room will be dug 4 feet down. This room will have a cement floor with a drain in the middle of the floor. Cinder block walls topped with logs will form the slaughter room. Windows in the slaughter room will face North. Possibly we can put a window AC unit in the slaughter house just for the day it is needed (once the pig is dead, bleed and gutted, you hang it overnight in a cool area before butchering). Of course the milking shed needs electricity. Running water would be nice for both, but we might do with a long hose until we can fit the piping as we are running short of time.

But we won't start on all this today, I have some woodworking projects to finish and a milking stand to make (the one we inherited was for full-sized goats not pygmies and really is impractical for us.)

I have finally put Beyond capitalism and socialism to rest-it has a well-deserved place on my bookshelf. I am now reading "Left to Tell"-more on this later.

Oremus pro invicem!

Friday, May 23, 2008

a Breath of Home-poems from the Heart of the family is available for pre-order starting today (really last night). We expect to start shipping it on 31 May. Here's a sample:

The Wooden Pew

When I feel,
That I don’t fit,
Into the world’s
Broad view,

There is a place,
Where I go sit,
Reflecting on
What’s true.

It isn’t soft.
It isn’t warm.
And in the dirt
It grew,

Just like the cross,
From trees of earth…
It is
theWooden pew.

This is a collection of poems about Catholicism, the family, the home, and motherhood from a Catholic mother of ten. With love and sometimes humor Long-Skirts helps us breathe the air of our home on earth (the way it should be) and the Home we should long for in Heaven.

As a pre-order special, we are offering Witnesses to the Holy Mass for $5.00 (regularly $8.95) when you pre-order a Breath of Home. Check it out.

Oremus pro invicem!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A little more milking today to relieve a nanny and another ummmm, male problem fixed-2nd one same as the first.

All our radishes are harvested and what little spinach we had. I am going to fill their spots with more bush beans. I also have to plant some more sunflowers-goats love them.

Oremus pro invicem!

Red Tape week plus prayer ....

Tuesday (as mentioned briefly below) I spent a good part of the day waiting in government offices trying to correct some paperwork errors. Today I am on the phone (going on 3 hours now) with the IRS (I guess this is live-blogging). You see I received my letter informing me of my pending government stimulus check-but it was the wrong amount. They only counted the dependent children I could list on the front page of my 1040. Since the IRS only has 4 lines, additional children are listed on an attached page. In the effort to get stimulus payments out swiftly, the IRS ignored the addendum.

I wonder if others with more than 4 children (under 17) have had similar problems?


Last night we ended our CCD year with a crowning of Mary, the rosary and Benediction-followed by a pizza party. It was a great time. The occasions of prayer and party are important to a parish community and to our families.


Remember (a day late) that this is the 2nd day of the Novena to the Sacred Heart. We haven't done the novena in the past-but will this year. On the feast day we will do our family forgiveness (origin and details described here) and then have our "re-enthronement ceremony (details here).

I haven't been able to find the form of the novena we doing (from an old prayer book) online so I am making copies today.

Oremus pro invicem!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hilary and Obama

Not what you may think ... By family acclaim, we have named the two (goat) kids (one male-recently castrated, and one female) we bought a week ago for the dual purpose of land clearage and then to the pot: Hilary and Obama. We are not sure why, and who first started calling them that, but the names seem to fit and stick. Neither will be around too long anyway-just in case it causes scandal.


I spent several hours yesterday in a government office trying to beat through some red tape. While waiting I overheard a conversation between the receptionist who has a son just returned from Iraq and a waiting "customer" who himself had just returned from Iraq.

Man: I am starting to think we don't know what we're doing over there in Iraq.

Receptionist: Oil!

Man: But look at gas prices. If it was for oil, how come we haven't got any of it?

That wasn't all of the conversation. The receptionist who was originally from somewhere in Latin America noted that the US government wouldn't send troops to solve her countries problems because there was no oil there. The Man responded, "Or South Africa either."

Two things troubled me about the conversation: First, neither really had any problem with US troops invading people around the world-they just wanted it to be for good reasons and for us to see a return on it (for example, cheap oil). Secondly (without comment), I am betting that both of these people are likely voters in the fall.


I am feeling sick today, but hope I can get over it soon-there is much to do. In fact I heard from Mrs. Curley yesterday that I am "always in a hurry". It is (almost always) true. It is something to pray about.

Oremus pro invicem!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Goats and Notes

I milked my first goat yesterday! (There were some previous feeble attempts, but I won't go into those.) But let's start back a little.

We picked up our pygmy goats yesterday afternoon. We got pygmies because they are supposed to be good milkers (not a prolific as Nubians) but good milkers and easier to handle/keep fenced because they are smaller. It took a couple hours to catch our herd: 3 mama with kids. 2 mamas already had one kid sold, so we came home with 7 goats (kids are 2 girls and 2 boys). We'll keep one boy kid as a buck.

One of the mamas was painfully full of milk. She had lost one kid and apparently gotten so full that it was painful to nurse. So when we got the goats home and settled yesterday, we caught her. Number one son held her horns, number two and three son held her hind legs, and number 4 son kept the other goats away.

It was a struggle (she had never been hand-milked before) but we got about a cup (half of which was spilt) and then it was clear she had enough. We went back a couple hours later and got another 1/2 cup. Mrs. Curley reports that after dark, she was standing on the milking stand and her kid was nursing! Mission accomplished.

Of course the purpose is for us to drink the milk, but we have a little more work to do. For example, I want to build a new milking stand. The one we inherited with the house is impractical for these small goats.


Am on the final chapter of Beyond capitalism and socialism-A New Statement of an Old Ideal. In the last chapter I learned that Lincoln was a believer in subsidiarity:

The legitimate object of government is to do for the community of people whatever they need to have done but cannot do at all, or cannot do so well for themselves in their separate and individual capacities. In all that the people can individually do as well for themselves, government ought not interfere. -A. Lincoln 1854

Oremus pro invicem!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Weighing In

Big One: 183 lbs.

Middle Lady: 190 lbs.

Little One: 147 lbs. (Not really a weight loss since last time-accuracy is most compromised below 150lbs.) UPDATE: Looks like I was off a bit. Today (5/23 I measured her at 163 lbs.).

The Weekend ...

We spent much of Saturday getting ready for our new arrivals ... we are picking up some milk goats today. More about these later.

Saturday evening we traveled to visit with some friends (maybe our last such excursion for a bit, between the goats and gas prices.) It's great to see Catholic families get together-and the interaction between children and adults during various games. I think everyone had a great time.

Sunday after Mass (and after our Knights of the Altar meeting) we had our first rehearsal in our newly formed band....We tried Red River Valley, When the Saints go Marching In, and My Old Kentucky Home. I think the first and last were the best, but we have lots of work to do.

I have a very large charcoal grill, but yesterday, instead of charcoal (none available), I cooked over wood coals. (It's much cheaper and the fire stayed hot longer. However, my clothes smell like I've been camping.) The pork chops and chicken came out fine.

Oremus pro invicem!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A small proposal

from Stephen Hand

Unplug the cable behind the TV set and have them come and get the box or take down the Dish. Use the television for maybe the news a few times a week, an occasional decent movie with a VCR or DVD player. Begin (really) reading again, walking, listening to sounds, seeing the splendor of natural colors---and then tell the globalist advertisers they're making peoples lives a living Hell. That will be a small beginning.

Amen to that. Oremus pro invicem!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Odds and Ends

Turns out, there was a picture of me from our pilgrimage to DC. Here's yours truly on the subway after the Papal Mass.

And then we have an updated picture of the pigs-I'm guessing about 3 weeks ago.

Finally, the garden report. We have had some good rain...and everything I planted is up. Peanuts, cucumber, cantaloupe, bush beans, zucchini, and sunflowers. And the carrots are growing well. (Mrs. Curley has put in eggplant, tomatoes, and peppers, but not from seed. They look good too.) I am excited. (I need to find a irrigation system for our place for the fall.)

Oremus pro invicem!


I was never too familiar with our Lady's apparitions at La Salette. Growing up there was a shrine to our Lady of La Salette in Attleboro, MA. I remember walking around (and saying) the rosary there-it was on a pathway set on a pond. But I never recalled reading a book about the apparitions as I did with Fatima and Lourdes.

Recently reading (editing) a book, I read that one of the major concerns expressed by our Lady at La Salette was the failure to keep holy the Sabbath. In 1846? Wow! (Of course this was France-devastated by the French Revolution and aftermath, but you get the impression our Lady is talking about all of Christendom.) I decided to check it out. Here's what our Lady said:

"I have given you six days to work. The seventh I have reserved for myself, yet no one will give it to me." This is what causes the weight of my Son's arm to be so crushing.

Only a few rather old women go to Mass in the summer. Everyone else works every Sunday all summer long. And in the winter, when they don't know what else to do, they go to Mass only to scoff at religion.

Sounds to me like we have the same problem today except they don't go to Mass even in the winter. And keeping Sunday holy? It has become just another Saturday for many.

Our diocese celebrated a "year of the family" a year or two ago. Bishop Baker, in his letter announcing it, put his emphasis on keeping Sunday holy. Of course John Paul II wrote an encyclical letter on keeping Sunday holy also. Ye who have ears .....


Yesterday I was in Columbia-as is the case about once a week. I noticed two things. First, the roads seem more crowded (than even last year when I drove this route every day and even more so than 4-5 years ago when I also drove part of this route.) There is a major accident almost every time I commute on Route 20-usually on the other side of the highway (I am usually travelling against the traffic.)

Second thing noticed... On my way home I have the habit (once a week) of listening to Public Radio's Marketplace. (Not that I have financial investments and such-it just sometimes has neat stories-like a few weeks ago when they reported on how people make money hand over fist operating storage units.)

But what I have been noticing is that virtually every time I listen, there is a story about China. China has become that important to our economy that it is part of the daily mix.


I laughed aloud when reading the latest Nigerian Scammer piece from TS to Mrs. Curley last evening.


And finally, California seems to be having its trials. First homeschooling is "outlawed" and now marriage is destroyed. I hope Mr. Culbreath's optimism on the ballot initiative is justified. We have all seen what seemed like strong coalitions fall apart as the voting time approaches-although usually it affects politicians more than the electorate-yet how did we get here? (We were thinking of California, and especially the Culbreath's yesterday on the feast of St. Isadore.)

Oremus pro invicem!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Castrated my first goat yesterday. We tried luring the little billy with food, but he was too skittish. (Animals have a sense when something is up.) So we gave up trickery and finally just cornered him with ma and nannie and grabbed him. We used the elasticator band method.


Was thinking this morning about how often I pray to know God's will for our family. Yet I wonder how often my listening is selective-that is, I am only listening for the answers I want to hear instead of being really open.

Father, in his homily yesterday (or was it Sunday) commented that one of Joan of Arc's questioners (or maybe the Dauphin) asked her how come he didn't have God's messengers talking to him? St. Joan replied, "They do, you just don't bother listening."

Dear Lord, please help me to discern Your will, accept it, and embrace it with joy! Amen.

Oremus pro invicem!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Slight variation and the blurbs ....

Praise for Long-Skirts’ a Breath of Home....

"A delightful weave of faith and words that will tug at your heart strings! Long-Skirts looks at the world through the eyes of faith, carrying your heart to the heights of tears and laughter. At times playful, a Breath of Home is a collection of poetry that is sure to warm your soul." Colleen Hammond, author of Dressing with Dignity

"Hilary McRee Flanery’s poetry celebrates the ordinary rhythms of daily life, and at the same time helps us glimpse the things that are above. She shows that matter "matters" - God works through His creation to give us grace." -Kenneth C. Jones, Author of Index of Leading Catholic Indicators

Pre-Orders start next week....

You can read some of Long-Skirts' work at her blog.

Oremus pro invicem!

The Man with the Black Hat had this to say recently:

Faithful Catholics were outraged when men and women in public office who profess to be Catholic, but who openly support legalized abortion, were able to receive communion at the Papal Mass celebrations in Washington and New York...

While you and I watched the events on television, or took our chances with parish lotteries in the DC and NYC areas for the few tickets available, these political luminaries were all treated to special VIP seating. What other message could possibly have been sent, other than that their public conduct was being given a pass? What compromises with Mammon are made to lead to moments like this? Were they worth it?

I didn't notice it so much in DC last month-but I was too far away to tell who was on the field with the best seats. But that wasn't the case in 1979 in Boston. I was standing at the rope separating the faithful from the VIP's. I saw all the politicians and wondered why they were getting better seats at Mass than those of us who had been standing there for 12 hours in the rain.

The Man with the Black Hat continues:

It was not so with Saint Ambrose in the fourth century. Back in his day, the Emperor Theodosius quelled an insurrection by ordering the deaths of everyone in the rebellious town, sparing no one, including women and children. Not only did Ambrose deny him Communion, but as the Emperor and his entourage were arriving for Mass, they were met at the door by the saintly bishop himself, who refused entry to the lot of them. Under penalty of excommunication issued on the spot, the Emperor withdrew. After doing penance, Theodosius was returned to the Sacraments.

Oh that we had this kind of courage today in our bishops!

Oremus pro invicem!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

It's almost complete!

-that is, our band of sorts. Sons on guitar, slide whistle, and washboard (and maybe spoons); yours truly on harmonica. We picked up the washboard today at a used goods store on the way home from Mass. (and I think son #2 needs a new slide whistle-he's had it for many years and it looks just a little bent....)

Now we just need to pick out some songs and do some practicing...

Oremus pro invicem!

What do you think?

coming in May (June?)

the question of technology

So where does technology fit into Distributism? Fr. McNabb's position, Dr. Peter Chojnowski explains:

For him the question wasn't an abstract one of pro- or anti-machine, but of whether additional mechanization and mass-production would help to keep individual families on the largely self-sufficient homestead, or whether it would facilitate their flight to the cities.

Thomas Storck argues also that Distributism isn't anti-technology:

It is often assumed that Distributism necessarily entails a lower level of technology than we have today, or even a revision to the technology of the Middle Ages.

...Distributism is incompatible with no particular kind or level of technology. It is true that the direction of technical research might change towards inventing devices that are more useful to smaller enterprises ... (emphasis in original)

Thomas Storck basically defines capitalism as a system in which (in general) ownership is separated from labor-resulting in a quest for wealth "beyond measure"-that is the measure we need for general well-being. Distributism, (economically speaking) is an "arrangement in which the ownership of productive private property, as much as possible, is widespread in a nation or society."

In a Distributist society, most would grow much of their own food and either farm or work in their own small enterprises. Some would necessarily work in larger enterprises, but these would be worker owned. [Small is (still )Beautiful has several examples.] Certainly, their would still be those who worked for others-but the balance would be significantly shifted from what we see today.

Oremus pro invicem!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Fr. Vincent McNabb O.P.

My latest foray into Beyond capitalism and socialism-A New Statement of an Old Ideal covers the thought of Fr. McNabb, a Dominican who lived and preached in England in the late 19th century-early 20th century.

A couple points of note on his thought:

... priorities must be in order; that spiritual happiness must precede material and economic happiness ....

From this follows his 12 Point "Exodus" for fleeing from the city to the land. Here are two which struck me particularly:

4. Farmers should farm primarily for self-support. They should sell as little and buy as little as possible. (my emphasis - JC)

8. The natural defense of Freedom is the Home; and the natural defense of the Home is the Homestead.

This last was discussed a bit with a friend last week except we concluded that Freedom and Security are almost mutually exclusive. Fr. McNabb has a different answer in point 8. I suppose the Homestead can be the security if it is owned outright and well-worked.

Finally, from the chapter, the thought that is closest to our (Mrs. Curley and myself) hearts:

McNabb emphasizes that it is, ultimately, only for a religious motive that anyone would desert the cities for the difficult life of the country or remain on the land in spite of the financial enticements of the the suburbs or the city. (Dr. Peter Chojnowski in Beyond capitalism and socialism-A New Statement of an Old Ideal )

At this point, one might wonder why read a book which obviously is just confirming what I already believe? Here are my answers:

1. These 12 Catholics give me better words to describe what I believe;
2. Their words re-enforce and encourage our efforts at this point when other options may be facing us-tempting us; and
3. These essays give me more understanding of the urge we felt to get here and a better understanding (in a philosophical way) on how to stay here.

Our first two years here I worked my tail off in my little office trying to get a business going-and we made some good progress. In the meantime, the rest of the family tried to start and run a homestead with only Saturday work from me. I would pine as I watched them work the land from my little window. I was wrong. Yes, I needed to get the business going-but the homestead was our security and future not the publishing company.

I think my priorities are straighter now-I hope its not too late. (And the publishing company is doing okay-but not a source of family security-yet.)

Oremus pro invicem!

The weekend

A couple friends stopped in on Sunday to celebrate Pentecost and Mother's Day with song, (square) dancing, and the rosary, (and of course food.)

Pigs are getting fatter (measured them this morning: 170, 178, and 151 lbs). The goats are getting more accustomed to their new home. We have to keep an eye on them. The momma nanny seemed to be under stress the first couple days (this is a reasoning based on poop quality/consistency.)

It looks like the spinach is done-prematurely. We will take the few leaves we can and then plant some more beans in their place. And the radishes are ready for harvest (we added a bunch to the salad this weekend). The carrots (planted on Good Friday) are looking strong. The planting we did on Monday and Tuesday last week is starting to show above the earth.

God is good!

Oremus pro invicem!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

two ... maybe three

goats that is!

Yesterday (as planned) we stopped by to pick up a six-week old billy and nanny after Mass. While there, the owner said he'd throw in their momma (who has been bred-back, we were told) for a little more. We took it.

This put an added dimension on our preparations. We had prepared the pen for two little goats, but not for a full-grown goat. So the boys and I spent yesterday reinforcing fences and building a new fence section and gate.

The momma nanny has never been milked (and she's not bred for milk), but I may try to milk her just for kicks (get it?). Hopefully they will clear the area for us and the two young ones provide a little meat. And if we get two more little ones in the fall-so much the better. (Good thing I read "All Creatures Great and Small"-I feel like I can deal with any calving situation.)

Oremus pro invicem!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Inside Catholic has two articles on clericalism this week. The first by Russell Shaw. The second by ToddM. Aglialoro (Sophia Press).

A lot of good points are made. Russell Shaw, of course has written about this subject a whole lot, including a bit about clericalism in the context of the mission of the laity in our book.

Oremus pro invicem!

home, prayer, goats, and poverty

The Distributist ideal is that the home is the most important place in the world. Every man should have his own piece of property, a place to build his own home, to raise his family, to all the important things from birth to death: eating, singing, celebrating, reading , writing, arguing, story-telling, laughing, crying, praying. The home is above all a sanctuary of creativity. Creativity is our most Godlike quality. We not only make things, we make things in our own image. the family is one of those things. But so is the picture on the wall and the rug on the floor. The home is the place of complete freedom ... (Dale Ahlquist in Beyond Capitalism & Socialism-A New Statement of an Old Ideal)

That's my vision...I was talking to a friend the other night; we were discussing the differences between freedom and (financial) security. We have both gone through some difficult financial times in our businesses. Both of us would take (if we have the choice) the freedom we have now over the security we both could have working outside the home in corporate America. In our culture and economy, freedom and security are almost mutually exclusive (with the exception of a few).


Several years ago Mrs. Curley began the practice of having the kids pair up randomly every day with one of their siblings to be their "prayer partner" for the day. The prayer partners would meet a couple times during the day for just a few minutes and pray together. Along with many other good practices-they slowly die out unless you are vigilant.

We decided to reinstate this practice this week. However, Mrs. Curley and I will now also participate (before I worked outside the home and couldn't participate). Additionally, when the prayer partners meet, they will not just rattle off a Hail Mary and go on with their day. They will decide together who (another family member) they will pray for that day. Let's pray it works (and sticks) this time.


It looks like we will be proud owners of a couple goats come this weekend. We really want a family cow-but we haven't found it yet. In the meantime our old goat pen is overgrown and has an empty goat house. After talking to Mr. Culbreath the other night about how many goat owners want to get rid of their kids cheaply (they want the goat's milk and don't want to feed the kids), we kept on the lookout. We wanted a couple really young goats to clear the pen and then to raise for meat. They eat off the land most of the summer and hit the freezer in the fall. So we wanted to young billies (young enough to wether if they haven't already been).

On the way home from Mass on Sunday we saw a "Goats for Sale" sign. It was still there last night when we drove to CCD. So we stopped in a picked out a couple of 6 week-olds: one nannie and one billy. Billy is intact-but I can take care of that. I pick them up this weekend.


Yesterday, Stephen Hand posts about a new book about Dorothy Day and links to this old post about Peter Maurin at The ChesterBelloc Mandate. Here's a piece to think about:

There is a photo of Peter Maurin from the 1920’s, and he’s quite dapper, very well dressed. It is probably from the years that he lived in Chicago. However, by the late twenties he began looking more like a bum. He had thought to himself, “How many jackets do I really need?” and “How many trousers do I need? I can only really wear one.” More fully he embraced poverty, a profound and a radical poverty in order to answer the materialism and the selfishness of the modern world. He never said that everyone should do this, but for him it was an answer to the modern world. When an encyclical was produced on St. Francis of Assisi, which most of us have probably never read, he was thrilled.

Oremus pro invicem!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


Was reading Dale Ahlquist's essay in Beyond capitalism and socialism last night and came across this:

Our separation of economy from the home is part of a long fragmentation process. ... We have separated everything from everything else. We have accomplished this by separating everything from the home. Feminism has separated women from the home. Capitalism has separated men from the home. Socialism has separated education from the home. Manufacturing has separated craftsmanship from the home. The news and entertainment industry has separated originality and creativity from the home, rendering us into passive and malleable consumers rather than active citizens.

We have been trying to restore the 'natural order' in our little corner as best we can. I still have my hand in big business in some of my consulting work-but I never want to leave our homestead again for a daily work elsewhere. It may be impossible to maintain our current scheme as the societal forces work against us, but it worth trying to preserve. This is why (along with honoring God) I continue Requiem Press and begin endeavors like The Rosary Box Maker .

I am not one to say that everyone has to do things my way-God calls every man and every family to their own vocation-but I am certain that our society has fractured the family. As a result we see the consequences in our daily headlines. But we don't see everything: the countless souls who are suffering here and in the world beyond.

Oremus pro invicem!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Most of the planting is done. We have a small back garden which I manured and tilled this morning. I'll plant there in a couple days. We also have some areas which I will start laying manure for the fall garden.

Mrs. Curley got a sample issue of Hobby Farm Magazine. I haven't looked through it much-Mrs. Curley has liked it so far. But the name rubs me wrong-perhaps due to this essay I read some time back from New Agrarian.

We don't think of our efforts as a hobby-although (as discussed in this post a few years ago, sometimes the reality didn't have our priorities correct.

We are learning and making progress, but our curve is pretty long. And Our holding here is on sand-beach sand-I kid you not-even though we are 100 miles from the coast. It takes the term "well-drained" to new heights. Every year is almost like starting from scratch because nutrients get washed away. In our harsh environment (drought and sand and little money to purchase fertilizers etc.), the garden needs priority attention-not hobby attention. I am sure some people's hobby farms have better results than our efforts...

Oremus pro invicem!

The 4th anniversary of Requiem Press passed quietly last month. No birthday bash-but no fire-sale either. You can see our offerings on the sidebar. We should have a few more added this spring and summer-some good stuff too.


Another quote from "Beyond capitalism and socialism"-this one from Gary Potter:

The question raises the one of what to do: how to proceed, against the day when more Americans and others elsewhere will be more interested than now in talking about what life would be like in a Christian society instead of in the one they have. The simple, and simplistic, answer is to forget the question. Just gather some tools, find a piece of land, and go work it. At least that is the answer of some of the purely agrarian-minded among the Distributists. The trouble with this solution is that we are not Amish. the Catholic religion ... is not meant to be lived privately, but in society, a society larger than that of the family.

Oremus pro invicem!

Monday, May 05, 2008


I haven't mentioned this in a while, but it you are interested in reading the preface and Part One of John Meehan's Two Towers (for free), they can be found here, here, and here .

Oremus pro invicem!

Fundamental Law of Distributism

More from Beyond Capitalism and Socialism-a new statement of an old ideal:

The economic primaries are but two: Production and Consumption. Other activities such as exchange, distribution, transport, market, price-fixing, money-value, are never primary even when practically necessary. The area of production should be as far as possible coterminous with the area of consumption. The utilitarians were wrong in saying things should be produced where they can be most economically produced. The true principle is: things should be produced where they can be most economically consumed. (my emphasis added- JC)

Makes some sense-but I can imagine even now that there will arguments against this. However, just to answer some, there are hidden costs to cheap goods produced by cheap labor. Just today, the The Distributist Review discusses how some costs of goods are just passed on to the taxpayer. Cheap production and distribution isn't always so cheap. However, production of goods in the community (even better in the household) of consumption holds both the producer and the consumer more accountable.

Another thought about this whole monetary system (which is designed so that someone can be constantly dipping into your pockets) goes back to barter and credit. Here's the scenario: I have eight people living in my household right now. Just say we all need a solid, long-lasting pair of shoes. In today's market, that shoe would cost, say $50-$100. If we all need them at once, that comes to a pretty piece of change that I need upfront. Why can't I pay in installments-with pork? I'll supply the cobbler's family with pork at a certain level-as long as the shoes last! Because-the better the shoe, the better the value.

I'm sure we all know some people who barter, yet as a wide-spread economic system, only 3rd-world countries practice it in any meaningful form. Certainly I understand that my scenario has its limits, but think about it. One reason people don't barter today is that most people have nothing to barter with-because they work for someone else.

Just some thoughts...

Oremus pro invicem!

Updates & Notes

"Weighed" the pigs this weekend: Farrow-164 lbs; Gilt-167 lbs; Little One-129 lbs. (+/- 3% and weights under 150 lbs have larger error.)

Garden is going in late this year-but we did have a couple late frosts and our season is long, so I don't think too much harm will come. I am already picking radishes from an earlier planting. The spinach is up-but not as big as we hoped-I'll do some mulching to keep the moisture in.

We have a fig tree and 5 blueberry bushes. All are small, but it is a start.

We are doing better this year capturing the chicken manure. That, along with the pig manure, we are hoping never to buy manure again.

Our garden is looking to shape up like this: zucchini, tomatoes, lettuce, green peppers, cantaloupe, peanuts (first time!), and egg plant. I am sure a few other veggies will get in there. We always plant a few experimental things to see how they do.

Mrs. Curley and I had a discussion (ongoing) this weekend on saving money-not so much to improve cash-flow but to get in better habits of using the resources available. Sunrise and sunset shift during the seasons (especially with Daylight Savings Time), but we don't adjust our sleeping schedules to save on electricity and make the most of the cool morning hours in the summer (sunrise this morning is 6:27 AM and sunset at 8:09 PM). So we are going to try to keep farmer's hours better.

Oremus pro invicem!

Friday, May 02, 2008

The biggest objection made to the idea of the family being the central economic unit and practical community and regional self-sufficiency goes something like: "Well how about vaccines? We will have new epidemics because everyone is farming and not every region will be able to afford to have vaccine research and manufacture facilities."

But this isn't a real argument-it is simply a lack of understanding . The principle is Subsidiarity-that everything should be done by the smallest unit possible-or better put, that no organization should take on a task which can be done by a smaller unit. This is a traditional Catholic social doctrine and is the basis for a natural economy. This doesn't eliminate technology-but recognizes that technology should be in the service of man and not vice versa-including man's moral well-being.

In this vein, I particularly like this clip from Beyond Capitalism and Socialism - a new statement of an old ideal:

the most insidious example of this destructive type of technology is the television set. It is not only a means of social control by both the state and corporation; it is a direct path to sloth and stupidity. It has also become the principle cultural organ of industrial society. As such, it has replaced the role of the Church in defining and disseminating cultural values. The struggle to rid oneself of the influence of television is essential to restoring sanity in the household and rekindling human relationships, conversation, hobbies, prayer, and many other forgotten human activities. (Tobias Lanz)

Wow! strong stuff-but real.

I need to get back to the main point, but it will have to wait for the next posting opportunity.

Oremus pro invicem!

Catholic Worker Anniversary

On the 75th anniversary (yesterday) of the founding of the Catholic Worker movement, from Catholic News Service:

Today, Catholic Worker houses are as diverse as the people running them. Each house is autonomous with no formal rules except to carry out the works of mercy: feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, caring for the sick, burying the dead.The depth of prayer and spirituality varies as well. Some community members walk in lock step with the Catholic Church while, as Forest said, "others would cross the street to not be blessed by the pope." The vast majority are somewhere in the middle.

From Stephan Hand (some time ago) :

Dorothy Day's blessed work was over time compromised in part by a well-intentioned weakness of her own, i.e., a dedication to a distinct form of 'anarchism' which was reluctant to see any need but Christ and His peace; and this anarchism soon was extended by not a few of her disciples to the point of defacing Day's Catholic distinctiveness. Unlike, say, Charles de Foucauld, Day was not seeking conversions as such, only mostly to serve (if this led to conversions that would be an extra blessing I think she would have thought). Hence her religion became more personal over time, and the work, with some wonderful exceptions which exist even now, was soon infiltrated by every kind of heretical "Catholic" notion---from birth control and abortion advocates to Marcionism and many heretical Christologies---to say nothing of many other alien philosophies, contrary no doubt to what Dorothy Day intended; these people often consider the very notion of heresy repugnant, so that if one were visit many (not all) Catholic Worker houses today one will often find on close examination more political Leftism than Catholicism.

What is needed---and perhaps this is what the Zwick's are calling for---is a new CW movement going back to her and Peter Maurin's distinctly Catholic roots for the movement; but in my opinion a new movement should leave aside all those extremely elastic and mischievous notions like 'anarchism' which have been too easily applied to the movement and the Faith, the faith which must together with the works of mercy be proclaimed "from the roof tops," as Our Lord said. We need to open houses of hospitality like never before, but ensure it all remains Catholic.

Much to think about here.... But what is clearly needed is a radical love of Christ in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. I particularly liked Thomas Storck's piece in the January 2008 New Oxford Review :

As for the charge that Dorothy Day was a communist, this is easily disposed of. Her economic thought, like that of Peter Maurin, was rooted in the papal social encyclicals, in the English distributists G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc, and in the critique of modern economics made by so many Catholic thinkers in the first half of the 20th century. Simply put, it is in the mainstream of Catholic thinking, and if it seems radical and dangerous to many American Catholics, this only shows how little authentic Catholic social thought is known and embraced among us. Peter Maurin liked to talk about "blowing the dynamite of the Church." By this he meant making known the Church's social doctrine, a revolutionary and radical doctrine in the truest sense of the words. I challenge anyone to read carefully Pius XI's encyclical Quadragesimo Anno and see if that document does not call for profound changes in the social order and in our way of life. Indeed, the encyclical's formal title, "On Reconstructing the Social Order and Perfecting It Conformably to the Precepts of the Gospel," is surely a lifetime task for any Catholic.

Now is the time. Pope Benedict called for a rejection of secularism and a return to personal holiness. If you read his first encyclical, it clearly calls for the charity which was present in apostolic times-which is radical! The world needs radical witnesses today.

On this feast of St. Athanssius .... Oremus pro invicem!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

The Rosary Box Maker

And now, O Lord God, thou art God, and thy words shall be true: for thou hast spoken to thy servant these good things. And now begin, and bless the house of thy servant, that it may endure for ever before thee: because thou, O Lord God, hast spoken it, and with thy blessing let the house of thy servant be blessed for ever. -2 Kings (Samuel) 7:28-29

In our diocese the feast of the Ascension is transferred to Sunday, thus today reverts to the feast of St. Joseph the worker.

It is therefore appropriate to launch or make public my new website: The Rosary Box Maker.

Please keep us in mind when looking for a gift-and feel free to make mention of our hand crafted rosary boxes elsewhere (and everywhere, as search engines will be slow to pick up our rosary box endeavor). (Of course, being the marketing guru that I am, I have launched this too late to take advantage of either the First Communion season and Mother's Day.)

Don't worry, I won't let you forget about it. I have added links on the sidebar to The Rosary Box Maker and will add pictures as I complete each rosary box.

Inspired by Mr. Stephen Hand (read the whole thing), The Rosary Box Maker is working within a new economic system.

St. Joseph the worker, protector of the family, and patron of a happy death-ora pro nobis!

Oremus pro invicem!

Update: It appears we are back online!!!!

By the way, my Requiem Press website has been down since sometime on April 29th. Yesterday there was a substitute that said "welcome to" and had some ads and stuff-that wasn't us. Today it is just down. Hopefully the problem will be resolved shortly. If not, I have a backup in the wings...

Oremus pro invicem!