Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Too Much Giddiness

Blog compliments go straight to my head. Having been complimented only a week ago over at With a Grain of Salt, I was already a bit giddy. However, yesterday I received the best blog compliment ever. Ellen at Full Quiver Publishing has asked me to review her book Emily's Hope and she promised to send me... wait for it... a complimentary copy! I have made it. My blog has launched me into the dizzying echelons of fame and glory.

Best of all, the book is about the Church's teaching on sexuality and takes place partially in the Philly area. It is the zenith of my blog. The perfect apex of all that I aspire to do here.

Now, if only I can work on humility so that glory may be given to God.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

NFP Nutrition

An article in Newsweek which says that life begins at conception, that improving your diet and lifestyle can aid fertility, and that fertility problem increase for women as they get older. This article seems like it contains a lot of good information, I haven't finished it yet because it is so long. However, it does ratify CCL's approach of improving your diet to improve your fertility.

Other NFP Chapter Sites

It appears that an Iowa City chapter has posted a website. Here's a little prayer, and a link, so that many may be drawn to learn more about NFP.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Do Re Meme

I have been tagged at With a Grain of Salt and I couldn't be happier. I've been given a chance to talk about my favorite subject, me, in my favorite manner, quirky and silly. I know, I know, I have to work on the humility but I'm still giddy over the compliment that I have, "...a unique brand of humor." So here they are, eight silly things about me:

1. After five years of deep contemplation, I have just recently decided that my favorite movie is Clueless. With The Princess Bride as a close second. I swear. I'm decided. Entirely. Even though The Incredibles and The Sixth Sense were also close. Clueless, for sure.

2. I memorized all the words to "His Cheeseburger" by Mr. Lunt of VeggieTales fame in order to serenade my girlfriend. She became my wife.

3. I compulsively reset digital clocks after a power outage or daylight savings time. Even when the power has blinked off twice in five minutes. I have to reset those clocks. I also reset the clocks at work. What if someone needs to know the time and looks at the microwave and only sees a zero?

4. It is only with great difficulty that I can fall asleep without brushing my teeth. Even when I'm all snuggled up in bed and starting to doze off, as soon as I realize I haven't brushed my teeth, I feel uncomfortable. Try to guess the profession of my mother.

5. My best Scrabble Bingo (for non-players, that is when you use all seven tiles from your rack and get a 50 point bonus) was the word "NINETEEN" from a rack of EEINNNT on a triple word score. I also accomplished my lifetime dream of getting a fist turn Bingo. I think the word was "WARBLED" but sadly I don't remember.

6. My favorite mental word game is semordnilap. That is, words that spell a different word when reversed. My favorite is "deliver" and "reviled" but my proudest moment was shocking my dad at about age 10 with "wolf" and "flow." This is a great way to rack up extra points in Boggle.

7. One of my remaining lifelong dreams is to do Catholic Stand-Up comedy that is faithful to the Magesterium. I'm slowly building up a repertoire through this blog and in my journal so don't go stealing my ideas. I have a lot of work to do just to catch up to Jeff Miller.

8. In the winter, when I am inside for a while, my ears get really hot and my hands get really cold. I often balance this out by posing like a "Hear No Evil" monkey.

I tag everyone from my "Friend's Pages" sidebar, but I don't really expect any of them to do it. But they are still my friends.

Not Know? Yes!

The title of this post is a reference to a common phrase which Pop has taught his granddaughter. She will say, "No" to something and he will say, "Not no, yes!" In this case, I am applying it to this great story of another Catholic who entered the sacrament of marriage without being fully prepared. He did not know God's teaching on contraception even though he obviously knew about the teaching against abortion. He writes an excellent witness to life.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Old Spice

One of the most bizarre movie experiences of my life, second only to Eyes Wide Shut with my most conservative friend, was catching a 6pm showing of SpiceWorld with a bunch of my college buddies. Yes, I voluntarily attended. Yes, we were all surly, single dudes. Fortunately, we were gentlemanly enough not to respond to the "come hither" looks being sent our way by teenie-boppers, also known as jailbait.

What a long way I've come. The Spice Girls are on a reunion tour and trying desperately to ignore their current stations in life as mothers and re-capture their original careers as living Bratz dolls. I have learned that womanhood has little to do with gyrating hips, in S&M gear, in front of thousands of immature girls and boys. True womanhood is present in sweatsuited cleaning binges and long nights of nocturnal nursing.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

It's Here!

I'm sure you have been waiting with baited breath, like me and my wife, for the release of the new Art of NFP by the Couple to Couple League. Well, it is now available to one and all with a special discount to current member of CCL. Buy it now before it hits the New York Times bestseller lists! It makes a perfect Christmas gift for all those contracepting Catholics that you know!

Nonna and Noel Nokids say, "You want her to observe her what?"

It's going to sell faster than The Golden Compass, so buy it today.

Aggie Nostic says, "I'm waiting for Pullman's next series where kind materialistic children assassinate the Buddha by standing on his respirator tube. But until then, I'm engrossed by The Art of NFP. oh wait did I say engrossed?"

Friday, November 30, 2007

Motherhood vs. The Nanny State

Feminine Genius has a great summary post on why the nanny state is insidiously evil and how motherhood is triumphing.

I am so thankful to have a wife willing to raise our children and the means to provide the best care-giver to my children.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Brown Thanksgiving

I finally succeeded in reading The DaVinci Code over Thanksgiving, putting my family and in-laws through about two dozen sighs of disbelief and tirades against various egregious errors in the text. I actually kinda like his writing, as an intellectual adventure a la Indiana Jones. I just wish Brown had common sense and the ability to reason, although I am aware that these qualities are often lacking in ex-patriate Americans. I read so much about the book that there weren't many surprises but the surprises that did get me were pleasant. I tried not to complain about the obvious research errors and focused on using reason to point out the stupidities.

Here is my hit list:

1. How secret can a secret organization be if a list of all of its members is in a government library and is titled, "The Secret Dossiers?"

2. Do benevolent organizations that claim to care about the truth, continue to hide that truth, even after 'all the experts' have suggested it?

3. Dan Brown always wants to have his cake and eat it. How can the true nature of the Holy Grail be a secret if dozens of books have been written about it?

4. The left side has been associated with evil since the ancient Greeks. This would make them misogynists as well, since according to him femininity has always been associated with the left side.

5. Judaism in the years B.C. also didn't allow women as priests so the non-conspiracy goes back to them as well.

6. The Catholic Church and Islam are the only major world religions that continue to associate intercourse and fertility, every other one has separated them with contraception. That makes the Church and Islam the only true 'fertility cults.'

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Keystone is not the Only Stone

One of my dear wife's favorite bloggers, MommyLife, has apparently decided to swim the Tiber. I love reading her story and vicariously feeling the rush of conversion that I felt for my wife, Jen of Et-tu, and Francis Beckwith.

However, the comments reminded me of a smaller conversion in my own life, the conversion from "business casual" (sneakers, jeans, sweater) to business casual (shoes, slacks, button-down shirt, tie, sometimes sweater). Everyone always asked why I did it, but no one expected more than one reason. I had at least six reasons but everyone would zone out after one or two. I contemplated the conversion for months, piling up the pros and cons. The final tipping point, or keystone, was when my wife said that she always dreamed of having a husband who came home in professional attire, but there was a large edifice already constructed. MommyLife seemed to have been convince of Catholicism by the political arm of pro-life movement which she saw as mostly Catholic. Her commentors hook onto this little issue and miss the edifice which supports it, doing a dishonor to her and the Christian faith.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Omnipotent Bachelorhood

I noticed during my last bout of bachelorhood that being the only person in a house encourages feelings of omnipotence. The only things that entered the house were those which I brought and everything stayed where I put it. I felt sorta God-like in my humble abode. On the contrary, being part of a family teaches humility, since I had little idea of where things came from, or where they were going when there were little ones toddling about.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Eden Regained

by: James F. Volpe

A review of The Thrill of the Chaste
by: Dawn Eden

I must admit that I was salivating over the thought of reading this book for months. I am an avid reader of Ms. Eden's blog, The Dawn Patrol, and her writing style impressed me. The book does not slack from her witty, concise, and current prose. She shares many of her experiences with unchastity in a humorous, frank manner. Most amazingly, she shares these intimate moments without being gossipy and gratuitous in detail. It is rare these days to find any popular books which don't contain gratuitous sexual imagery or innuendo, so for a book which is dealing heavily with this subject to handle it tactfully is very impressive.

Throughout the book, Ms. Eden wove in the Christian understanding of marital relations by juxtaposing it with the Sex and the City philosophy as espoused by Carrie Bradshaw from the popular television show. Not surprisingly, her experience taught her that television deluded its viewers. Television, and pop culture in general, had shown strong women as those who used sex to get love. She actively followed this philosophy for years until realizing that it had not led to any serious, loving relationship and, furthermore, it was turning her into someone who was incapable of finding such a relationship. Once she knew this, she began actively loving everyone, instead of just those who took her to bed. She turned herself into a loving person, so that she can hopefully find the man that the Lord has for her. Resigned that the Lord may have other plans for her, she shared how she is far closer to marriage now than she ever was in the past.

The book defied my expectations by being more than the memoir of a past, sinful life but also an insightful look into how the ways of the world had deceived a young girl while the ways of the Lord brought her hope and fulfillment, while keeping her clothes on.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Drinking alone

Useful co-sleeping tip #6: Don't drink and sleep.

It seems reasonable to take all possible precautions when co-sleeping, since this is a world that, in general, will not support your choice to co-sleep. This severely reduces the amount of alcohol which can safely be imbibed. I find myself drinking the most when I am alone, that is, on nights when Jen is away with the girls.

I suppose this isn't really a co-sleeping tip, so much as a statement of fact.

And, yes, drinking makes me use appositives more frequently, why do you ask?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Go about Your Business, Nothing to See Here

Yet another study indicating severe medical consequences from contraception. I find it interesting that various life changes (stop smoking, exercise more) are suggested except for the culprit (stop contracepting). Where are medical malpractice attorneys when you need them? Can you imagine the same advice being dished out if Lipitor showed the same consequences?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Only Questions

I love to use this blog to share deep and meaningful insights which draw my readers closer to the great mystery of Love, Himself. However, recently I am full only of questions sparked in bizarre corners of my mind by Robert Kiyosaki. I wish to be a true man, knowing that if I live the truth, I follow Him who is Truth.

This book causes me to think it is truer manhood to be a business owner and investor than to be a well-paid employee. It is all difficult to ponder. Being a provider is one of the standard fatherly criteria which I accept, and now I wonder how independent a provider I have to be, even though I know I am entirely depended on the Provider of All Good Things. But He is independent, isn't He?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Baby's Breath Silent Auction

The Silent Auction to raise funds for a local crisis pregnancy center is on November 9 at Columbia Station. Please come, just don't bid against me for the Wii.

Some of the items up for grabs are: a set of braces (val $5,000, min bid - $2,600), signed Eagles (Westbrook and Dawkins) jerseys, signed Dawkins football, signed Chase Utley baseball, tickets to the Eagles, Sixers, Villanova and Wings games, the hot video game Wii, a home catered dinner for six by Satisfying Suppers, tickets to The High School Musical, Rivercrest, artwork, jewelry and more.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Public Service

I became a catechist for my parish as a way to serve, and to study the schooling system as it exists in the modern world. As a teacher in-service evening, we attended a dinner and presentation designed to give catechists from all over the county (technically cluster) a chance to learn and share ideas and helpful pedagogy.

The discussion amongst me and my fellow teachers was truly invaluable and enlightening. It was the best advice and encouragement I could possibly have received, including support in my desire to have my children homeschooled. Unfortunately, the presentation by Dr. Eileen McGrath of RCL publications was, at best, unhelpful and, at worst, a temptation away from the faith. I could only stomach an hour of the presentation since it was a better use of my time to return home and tuck my girls into bed. Her sources and experts consisted primarily of self-help gurus like Robbins, Dyer, and Chopra. Her main thrust seemed to be the power of positive thinking as "self-care." I had no idea how this applied to catechists and the best application I have come up with in the last week is not to harangue your students. As if I needed that warning.

Some of her talking points seemed to directly contradict Church teaching, such as, "We are not born negative." I believe that original sin and its stain are pretty big negatives. The other tired teaching she spouted was, "We are made in the image of God so we are divine." If I was divine, there would have been a small, concentrated spurt of fire and brimstone at that point, therefore, I am not divine. I can only send out this small public service announcement to my readers. If you want to learn the faith, read a the life of a saint or the Catechism or the Bible just not anything written by Dr. Eileen McGrath.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Real Education

David Warren has another brilliant essay. Not an explicit advocation for homeschooling, yet a mighty strong stab at the beast of industrial education.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

What I Need to Know about Feminism, I Learned in Kindergarten

The most basic precept of kindergarten: boys go in the boys' restroom and girls go in the girls' restroom.

I pray that this distinction is never forgotten, although some states are attempting to eradicate it. In this spirit, I have segregated my links appropriately and added two brilliant blogs: Feminine Genius and Et-tu. Check them out if you haven't already.

Class Already!

We will be teaching a class on Friday October 26. It's a feast or famine business, sometimes we have no students for months, other times we have to start one class before we have finished the previous one.

E-mail me if you want to sign up for this class as a refresher or a new student couple.

Too Much, Too Fast

Peter, at With a Grain of Salt, has two excellent posts up. The first pertains to birth control and over-population with an excellent chart showing that while the population has doubled in the last fifty years, the GDP has quintupled. The second deals with some snide comments that Church is not for men.

Thanks Peter, for all the great thoughts to mull over.

Monday, October 22, 2007

In Case You Haven't Considered Homeschooling Yet

This is a great article, I am thankful when anyone on the AP notes that this is happening. The only thing I don't like is the figures used. They naturally encouraged comparison but were not on the same scale. The article says that there were 2,570 teacher who were punished for sexual misconduct in the years 2001-2005. The number given for the Church was 4400 priests accused from 1950-2002. The first problem is comparing punishments to accusations since obviously there are more accusals than punishments. The second problem is comparing a 4 year span to a 52 year span. The yearly rate of abuse is 662 punishments/year for teachers versus 89 accusations/year for priests. That means for every 8 teachers who are found guilty of abuse, one priest is accused.

I know that number is this field are hard to acquire and difficult to trust and I don't fault the AP for reporting what it did, since I'd rather some news about this come out as opposed to the media blackout which is the norm. It would be nice for a follow-up article to go into the governmental protections afforded to public schools (for example, a cap on potential awards in a trial) and the lack of protections afforded to private schools and the Church since this disparity is why so many sharks circled the Church yet none feast on public schools.

CHT: Curt Jester

Stop Me If You've Been Here Before

Well, I've been reading Rich Dad's Prophecy for the past few weeks, and I'm thinking of investigating further. Now, I've read a few books like this and I hate the power of positive thinking but this guy seems different. It could be that I'm frustrated with work. It could be that I've seen a few "signs" and I might be making too much of them. It could be that my daughters are growing faster than daisies on Miracle-Gro and I just want to be home so much. But the author makes a lot of good points based on reason, economics, and law, and I feel obliged to investigate but I don't want this to consume me or my family either through loss of time or loss of money.

I would love to hear from any father who has tread this ground before. I could use some good advisors and prayers. I hope to figure this out quickly.

Friday, October 12, 2007


Every now and then I get the hankering to track down someone I was friends with in college just to see what google can turn up. To that end, I recently made my best discovery ever when I turned up this page. Apparently, the husband of a dear college friend took the time to write a book and get it published by Lulu, a publish-on-demand company. I ordered the paperback yesterday so I am eagerly waiting its arrival. Although my book queue is pretty deep and this book isn't a genre I would usually read, I hope to delve into it soon.

This discovery also allowed me to do one of my favorite hobbies, which is giving free publicity to my friends' various ventures.

You better click all those links! Don't you want to know what my friends are up to? C'mon!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

In Unheard News

Not that I follow any major media outlets anymore, but this story is heartening, not just for the right thing being done, but for judges actually judging instead of arbitrarily striking down laws.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Good News

Though many of us were saddened at the loss of ProLifeSearch, it seems a trustworthy group has taken up the mantle and started ProLifeInternet on the same premises. Hopefully, this time the money will do more good.

It's good to have a home page again.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Smart Women Reveal All

There is a great post on Danielle Bean's site. The best quote from the comments is:

Men, generally, do not understand the concept of the "hint."

Guys, read it all to learn what your wives are thinking. There are many treasures in this refreshingly frank conversation.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Imagine, if you can...

The Kippley's blog has an excellent, speculative post on breastfeeding education in the 50s. It is based on the idea that if ecological breastfeeding had been advocated in the 50s, the ground might not have been fertile for the widespread dissent from Humanae Vitae.

Mr. Kippley correctly points out a correlation which is often ignored: the increase in bottlefeeding coincided with the decrease in space between children. So it was not the Church which caused children to be born too close together, the blame can more properly be placed on the formula companies who opened a new market by targeting healthy mothers for their product instead of being satisfied with saving the lives of thousands of orphans who had no other choice but formula.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Pushing the Limits

I recently finished reading the book, Everything Conceivable by Liza Mundy. I knew picking it up that it would be one of those books that was a challenge to make it through without throwing it out the window. I was right. There were definitely a lot of "chuckable" moments. But since it was a library book I refrained from chucking it, managed to finish it and decided to share some of my thoughts with you here.

The book is about all the new technologies which are making it possible for almost anyone and everyone to have children, regardless of their age or level of natural fertility.

It starts out recounting an unusual request made to a California pastor. A parishioner who recently had given birth to twins was requesting that the pastor write in some part for the egg donor at the baptism. The pastor says, later in the book, that she thought for a minute then had no problem writing the ceremony.

This is just one of the many subtle, or not so subtle, ways in which the author normalizes the use of these technologies. She repeatedly points to religious and pro-life people who think that these technologies are perfectly acceptable, as a way of implying because there is no consensus on these issues, then there are no moral guidelines at all. Relativism at it's best.

Despite the slant however, it was an interesting, if horrifying, read. The book details all aspects of assisted reproductive technologies, from artificial insemination to IVF, from sperm and egg donors to surrogates, from married couples who want a child, to gays, lesbians and single-by-choice moms. There are several chapters dedicated to discussing the boom in multiple births, twins, triplets or more. And one dedicated to discussing what to do with "left over" embryos.

One of the most horrifying chapters to me was the one on "selective reduction," the process by which a high-order multiple pregnancy is "reduced" down to a "manageable" size, usually twins. Ms. Mundy reports that the doctor who pioneered "selective reduction" had seen one pregnancy of twelve fetuses. She goes on to say that the woman's doctor was not truthful about the number of fetuses, telling her that there were six instead of twelve. Ms. Mundy does not report on the outcome of the pregnancy, but one can assume that all but two were aborted.

The way in which the doctor lied outright to this woman is just one example of how unscrupulous many in this field are. Even Ms. Mundy refers to assisted reproductive technologies as the "wild west" of medicine. Of course, she thinks more regulation is in order.

In this she is mistaken. More regulation will not change the essential problem with these technologies, as that lies in the fundamental immorality of most of the methods. Only when people stop trying to play God and instead repent will there be any end to the horrors that are detailed in this book.

For anyone who wants a better view of what's wrong with the world this book is for you.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Unknown Death

There has been an interesting and sad debate afoot in Connecticut. The Catholic bishops there have decided to comply with a law saying that Plan B must be offered to victims of rape without depending on the results of an ovulation test. Since Plan B may prevent implantation of a newly conceived life, this could result in an early chemically-induced abortion.

It is interesting to read about the moral debate as the Church develops its doctrine on the topic of non-marital contraception. It is tremendously sad that this debate occurs while an unknown number of little ones are flushed down the drain. Join me in praying that the number lost is zero.


This is my one hundred and oneth post at this blog. Thanks to all of you who read it. I hope I may one day share an illuminating thought on it.

Maybe I can come up with invisible text for my eleventy-first post!


I promised myself that there would be some punishments that I never used on my children. I came very close to crossing that line this weekend when my adorable little one woke me up at 7am on a weekend where my eldest chose to sleep in until 7:30am. I could have really used those 30 minutes so punishment was in order. I subjected my little one to Julia Robert's acting (Mystic Pizza). My eldest awoke and spared my little one further punishment. As a demonstration of contrition, I put in a Dora video and let them be purified of foul influences.

Jen and I finished the movie later and I was surprised that I enjoyed most of the movie. Primarily due to a young Vincent D'Onofrio who delivers the best line in the movie, which is unfortunately soiled by a mild vulgarity. To paraphrase, he tells his fiancee how bad he feels because he wants to marry her and she only wants his body and won't commit. It sums up fornication quite nicely and pleasantly contains the role reversal of the man being more committed to love than the woman.

By the way, a free trial month of Netflix to the first person to get the reference in the title of this post.

Friday, September 28, 2007

A Wife Less Ordinary

A site that I don't visit as often as I should has this great article on living the wifely vocation. The best part about blogging is perusing the 'net and founding out that there are more people like you and your wife out there, living the life and trying to figure things out. Best of all, those people are charitable enough to share their thoughts, feelings, and prayers with you.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Bizarre NFP Information

I know, I'm in a slump and haven't really returned to posting yet. We have been busy cleaning the house in preparation for a big party, and completing our summer chore list.

We did take the time to give an introduction to NFP to an interested OB/GYN student from Penn. She was polite, interested, and friendly. Talking about NFP outside of the "class" always makes me happy, especially with an attentive and intelligent listener.

Anyway, my wide-ranging introduction brought me to my favorite bizarre NFP topic, spit under a microscope. My wife discovered this site a few years ago while googling NFP. Spit undergoes similar changes to those experienced by cervical secrections during the fertile time. So if a woman studies her spit daily, she can determine if she is fertile or not. I just love that someone thought of this. It is so cool and weird and completely moral as far as I can tell.

Truly we are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Friday, September 21, 2007

What I did on my summer vacation

Vacation with the family was excellent. Jen already posted a good synopsis so go there for the scoop.

The most interesting thing which I got on vacation was an understanding of the desire to parent other people's children. Many of my dear friends have expressed a desire to parent children whose parents are obviously not doing the job well. I thought my friends were being hard on other people who were merely having a momentary lapse in discipline. I was wrong and I apologize to all my dear friends. Momentary lapses of discipline are obvious and easily forgivable since concerned parents resume discipline shortly thereafter. For example, a toddler who sneaked under a pew at Mass for a minute, only to have mommy pick her up and sit her back on the pew with a sternly whispered reprimand. That was a lapse in discipline, a lack of discipline looked completely different.

On vacation, we took an evening family cruise to go fishing in the bay near Ocean City, NJ. The nearly complete lack of discipline on the family cruise was rather scary. The five year old son of the captain of the boat repeatedly pointed the bilge pump at me and my family in spite of occasional reprimands from the captain. I took it away from him and placed it where he could not get it. The eight year old son of the captain repeatedly disobeyed his dad and eventually started flailing his fishing rod, hook and all, in the general vicinity of my daughter's eyeballs. Pop and I both stepped in and vigorously reprimanded the boy while removing the rod from his grasp.

Quite frankly, a lack of discipline is not just scary, but dangerous and potentially blinding.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Lessons in Humility

I promise to have a post soon about what I learned on my summer vacation. But until then I have to share this story with you, dear reader.

Due to the approaching end of summer, I found our house much cooler in the morning than has recently been the case. On this morning, my eldest daughter joined me for breakfast as she often does. After breakfast, I decided I should get her dressed before I left for work. I thought Maria would get cold playing in the guest room with all her toys so I picked out an outfit and dressed her. Later in the day, after using the potty, Maria went to get her pants. Instead of picking up the pants I had chosen that morning, Maria opened her drawer in the dresser and pulled out the pants that belonged with the shirt she was already wearing.

That is to say, in all humility, my daughter is better at dressing herself than I am.

Friday, September 7, 2007

End of Summer Blues

This is the part of summer that I have an intense love/hate relationship with. I hate to see summer go and spend much of my free time cramming in things which have been on my summer To-Do list for months. I also love the feeling of accomplishing many things around the house which comes from reckless completion of chores. This is my biggest and best chore of the summer. I am very sad that I trusted C.D. Kaller for my gutters two years ago, I will not use them again.

On the flip side, I am very happy that I hired "Superior Driveway Coating" to do the driveway. It looks great and it is done!

Friday, August 31, 2007

Hungry in Spirit

An excellent conjunction of books has happened in my head such that I have a deeper understanding of being "poor in spirit" than I ever had before.

I am currently reading "The Thrill of the Chaste" (book review forthcoming) and Dawn Eden quotes a Psalm about the Lord making a dwelling for those who are hungry. As a daily prayer, I am reading from a Padre Pio devotional. In today's letter, one of St. Pio's spiritual children receives advice that to constantly feel a lack of love for God is a wonderful blessing. The Lord is not only how showing her much she needs Him, but providing motivation to continually find ways to love Him more deeply. The third book in this conjunction is "Transformation in Christ" which is the best book on how to follow Christ I have ever read (I hope to finish it soon). In it, Dietrich von Hildebrand points out many of the character flaws which stand in the way of following Jesus and what their roots are. One of the flaws is a feeling of sufficiency or completeness. To follow Christ is to always search for how you can more deeply invite Him into your life, therefore you must constantly be lacking a "full" conversion to Him on this side of Heaven so that you are prepared for a complete union with Him in Heaven.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

In "Local" News

I have been trying to get this blog to relate more to the local Phily beat, so of course I have this great article about Virginia (with a Philly connection). I feel much less animus towards the local news as they strain credulity to find a local connection in a big story. I now do it too.

It seems that a priest who served in Philly during the 80s has now become Bishop of Richmond and he has a committee re-evaluating their marriage prep programs. The article seems a bit inconclusive as to what the final product will be, but the committee is going in all the right directions. I would be ecstatic to see Christopher West's program used throughout the U.S. We have an early edition of his pre-Cana materials from when he spoke at the PNFPN's conference in 2006 and it is great stuff. He understands and presents the Theology of the Body better than anyone I know.

All that being said, I'm still torn over requiring NFP classes. It is hard enough to find volunteers to teach, and to teach classes well to interested and motivated students. I can't imagine the strain on the teachers, trying to handle a room full of dozens of hostile couples. However, requiring the class does let people know that the Church is serious and contraception is wrong so it will be important work for all teachers willing to do it.

The Diocese of Richmond and all teachers of NFP are in my prayers.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Time to Talk Harry

I haven't commented on the eternal debate over Harry Potter. I have read all the books and agree with the parents' decision for any child. Kind and attentive parents can allow the child to read the book and explain that it is fiction. Other kind and attentive parents may ban the reading of the book as a means of preventing all possible negative influences which it contains.

However, I have never seen an article which discusses the meaning of the Biblical word "sorcery" as well as this article does. It is simply the most concise explanation of the Biblical condemnation of contraception (Greek: pharmakeia, often translated as "sorcery") that I know to be in existence. It covers the Catholic Church, the Church Fathers, Protestant Reformers, and secular historians in a few paragraphs, tying them together with Harry Potter (Spoiler alert!).

Please read it.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Greatest eBay item ever

Everyone should read this. I hope to have my 15 minutes of blog fame one day. Until then, I am enjoying sharing in her fame.

I love the fact that she is asked if all six children belong to her at three different times during one shopping trip. People ask the most amazingly stupid questions.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Mmmmmm...movie review

Well, being a gigantic fan of The Simpsons, I was thrilled when the movie finally hit the screen. I passed into near apoplexy when my non-wife best friend (henceforth, NWBF) volunteered to treat me to the tickets and dinner. While she didn't directly get me hooked on The Simpsons, her and I have shared many hours quoting, discussing, and alluding to it.

Since this outing was occurring a few short weeks before my NWBF's upcoming wedding, we spent dinner time and cocktail hour waxing reminiscent over our long years of friendship and looking forward to the future. In many ways, our friendship has followed the same pattern of The Simpsons TV series. Tentative at first, we were still discovering ourselves during the Season 1 and 2 of our friendship, fifth and sixth grade. The next two years of our friendship were as spectacular as Seasons 3-5. Then came the dark period of Seasons 6-7 as we started high school. Emerging from this trial of friendship during junior and senior year of high school, Seasons 8 and 9 demonstrated the glory of things to come. College and life now conspire to make our friendship hit and miss due to the difficulties of distance and family, much like Season 10 and onward are hit and miss on quality and I must patiently await for DVD so that I can see them.

By this chronology The Simpsons Movie is an exact metaphor for my NWBF's recent wedding, aside from the numerous allusions to The Simpsons which they both contained. Joyous and happy, with a brand new shine over years of history, many of the older classic moments are celebrated again. Many of the characters act in predictable ways, providing comfort over the void of years since their introduction. Dramatic trials were experienced by the lead characters and the newly added characters ran around and made everyone love life just a bit more. L'chaim!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

An E5 Man

Via Play the Dad, no Be the Dad, comes this post on Ephesians 5. I like how he grapples with the always difficult "Wives submit to your husbands." verse. I have often struggled with this verse since I know it doesn't mean that I can dominate my wife, but I have been so indoctrinated by the media and social pressure that I have difficulty understanding any interpretation. I particularly like the etymology of submission and how that affected his understanding.

I would paraphrase my understanding of this verse as, "A wife should obey her husband as long as he is working on his God-given mission. Otherwise, she should fulfill her God-given mission of working for her husband's salvation by correcting him." Not all of that is in this post, I am just trying to get a handle on my understanding.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Expensive Milestones

There have been a variety of milestones around the house. I just reached the point where college kids look young, not younger, but young as in a completely different age classification than me. I have chosen not to contemplate my own age classification.

I began preparations for the party to celebrate my lovely wife's age-related milestone. This will probably be the second most expensive of all the milestones, if I can get my way.

Maria realized last week that money can be used to purchase items that Daddy and Mommy won't get for you. I forget what the item in question was, but I told her she couldn't have it. She didn't fuss or complain; she merely said that she could go ask the neighbor for money. (Our neighbor once gave Maria a few coins to put in our Lenten rice bowl.) This will probably be the most expensive of all the milestones, since Maria now enjoys shopping for shoes at the Mall.

And Amelia's milestones come so rapidly, that it is hard to distinguish them all. According to my perceptions, she grew about three inches last week. She also tripled her vocal sounds and learned how to do a high-five. These milestones cost nothing and yield a huge return in smiles.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

In case you are wondering...

whatever happened to ProlifeSearch.com, you can read the exploits of my lovely wife at Lap of Luxury. I think my wife does an excellent job of being unbiased and reporting only the facts of her experience.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Founders

An interesting article on founders of non-profits.

A good sign, or not

I was just perusing my Sitemeter stats and found an interesting referral. Someone found me through a Google Search on the words, "i hate natural family planning." I hope this blog was a positive experience for whoever that poor soul was. Since I passed quickly from ignorance to amazement of NFP, in the first hour of my first class, I have never had the experience of hating it.

The beautiful design of human sexuality amazes me so much, that I feel sorrow for those who pass through hatred of any part of it. Searcher, you are in my prayers.

Monday, August 6, 2007

He who shall not be named?

Via Creative Minority Report comes this sad Philly story. Now, I'm not an advertising expert but I am attentive. It seems to me that the most likely market segment to attend a Catholic School, that isn't already in attendance, is local Christians who are fed up with irreligious public school. An ad for this market would be easy to spin off if you were familiar with the jargon.

"Here are Our Lady of Perpetual Responsibility, our students talk to Jesus every day."

"If you want your children to learn the beauty of God's creation, have them join us at St. John's school."

Friday, August 3, 2007

Natural Family Scandal

Via Play the Dad, Be the Dad comes this post on living the Christian life and avoiding scandal. I had never thought about our practice of breatfeeding/NFP actually leading people away from these practices. I guess it just seems natural to me, just like it seems natural to my wife to find a quiet corner and cover up to breastfeed. I can't really imagine choosing something else when such a beautiful option exists.

Salt in the Wound

Via The Dawn Patrol comes this story, telling of parents' pain so deep that I can not begin to imagine. As a father, I can vaguely come to grips with the pain involved in out-living your children. I never really understood it before fatherhood but as Maria gets older, I can grasp at a sense of the sadness I would experience if she were taken from me by the Big Guy Upstairs. I can not grasp the horror that would be involved if she were violently taken from me, by a terrorist, while she was eating pizza. I know God would care for me and I think only an infinite being could comfort such a wound.

I can only stare in wide-eyed disbelief at the grief that would be involved in seeing the face of my daughter's killer splashed about the TV screen as an ad for a documentary on terrorist life. I would not be able to handle such a "salt in the wound" with the grace that these parents do.

May God's grace fall on them. And may he teach me how to forgive such heinous sins.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Catechesis versus Method

The following question has arisen indirectly in a couple of forums recently:

"How great is the responsibility of a NFP teacher to catechize?"

My initial feeling is that the primary goal of anything we do is to lead people to God. Unfortunately, this is not easily accomplished in a direct manner. I wish it were, then I could just say, "Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel" and the converts would roll in. Ash Wednesday experience clearly teaches otherwise.

In practical experience, a roundabout approach seems more effective. For example, when a woman comes to a crisis pregnancy center, it seems unkind to baldly assert the truth directly, "If you have an abortion you will kill your unborn baby." It seems much more charitable to help her in any moral way possible, in order to encourage her to keep the child. Obviously, one can never deny the truth and must honestly answer that abortion kills a baby if directly asked.

Now, it is the duty of the bishop and his fellow priests to catechize his flock. This should be a constant and expected duty, concerning all areas of life, and occurring primarily during the homily at Mass. I would think that the second catechesis comes from the parents, especially the father. It is the parents' duty to raise their children in the Faith since they best know their children and have the time and relationship to delve into deeper questions. The third catechist would be the individual, especially in the first world where tremendous resources are available with a few mouse clicks. We each have a responsibility to form our own conscience. Experts like NFP teachers or professional apologists seem to come in last in my opinion since they serve primarily as consultants for someone who has already made a moral decision. These experts can offer direction and guidance on particulars, thereby more deeply catechizing someone who has already chosen the high road.

Personal experience teaches me that experts don't have much effect on unwilling students. For example, the only students ever to be required to take our class spent the majority of the time with tremendously negative body language and avoided all conversation after the first class. Our charitable words seemed to have some effect up until the charitable assertion that the future bride would have to stop taking the pill, then it was a freeze out.

Especially considering the growing trend of using NFP for health reasons, instead of religious ones, our charitable example is far more important than being able to expound on Humanae Vitae (as glorious as that document is). Our charitable example is a better witness than any number of words, but then again I have a Franciscan bent. I see all this as falling under Christ's injunction that without love, we are a gong clashing uselessly.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

A woman who knows men

My wife is a wonderful woman and has a blog which I frequent since she is busy figuring out how to be a woman while I try to figure out manhood. Our blogs complement each other.

Via her blogroll comes this post, an excellent synopsis of much of my thought on manhood. I guess this means I am somewhere on the right track. Women are amazing at revealing the truth about men. Even Adam didn't understand himself, he was alone, until God created Eve.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Transforming Choice

So the greatest brother in the world took me to see Transformers for my birthday. It was a spectacular movie, in the sense of a special effects spectacle. It was indeed a "summer blockbuster" but I think it avoided campiness (by a micrometer or two) and told a good story by itself, all while pleasing long-standing fans like myself.

Inside jokes and reference abounded if you were familiar with the cartoon show and the original movie and some divergence was taken from those sources, but none which was unsettling. One particular divergence which I enjoyed was the relation of Autobots to Decepticons. In the cartoon, the difference was one of substance. Autobots were good and useful machines like cars and trucks and Decepticon were evil and destructive machines like fighter planes and handguns. The movie diverged from this point and made all Transformers have a common creator, the "All Spark," and they were good or bad depending on their choices.

Autobots protected humanity while Decepticons wished to destroy it. The description of the word Autobot could have easily applied to all of the Transformers since it only described their substance, not their allegiance to Optimus Prime. Whereas, the word Decepticon wasn't directly used but it was explained that Megatron deceived the Autobots and seized power. Much like fallen human nature, the choice to protect the weak or to dominate them is the choice that determines which side we are on.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Salt Lake Tribune, not sure how I feel

Here is an interesting article in the Salt Lake Tribune. I know its some Planned Parenthood flunky releasing articles with my federal tax money but at least natural family planning made a mention. I tire of the debate that NFP is not contraception.

The statement that I feel reveals the author's snobbery is towards the end, where she expresses surprise that some people don't use contraception. The pro-choice label is revealed for the lie that it is. She is not pro-choice. She does not support the choices other people make. She assumes they are ignorant of the variety of family planning "options" available to them. Or else, why would they choose to not use them?

Makes you wonder why its called "Planned Parenthood." Maybe it should be "Planned Childlessness."

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Go NYTimes

Here is a good op-ed piece from the NYTimes. Not sure if she is anti-contraception or not but at least she is shoring up the defense of menstruation. That is to say, menstruation is not a disease.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I'm cool!

I tend to hate memes with the specific, mild hatred I reserve for chain letters. However, now that I was tagged by Creative Minority Report, a blog which I respect and admire, memes are like, totally cool!
The Rules:Those tagged will share 5 things they "love" about Jesus. Those tagged will tag 5 other bloggers. Those tagged will provide a link in the comments section here with their name so that others can read them.
1. I love that Jesus wept only once, enough to teach me that it is acceptable for men to occasionally weep. Also, giving me my first chosen memory verse.

2. I love that Jesus overturned the tables of the moneychangers only once, enough to teach me that anger has its place. Also, reminding me not to live in that place permanently.

3. I love that Jesus chose Peter to be the rocky rock of His Church. By this, he shows me that impetuousness and rash action can be tamed to follow the Lord.

4. I love that Jesus allowed Simon of Cyrene to help carry the cross. How gracious of Him to set an example of asking for help.

5. I love that Jesus died for us. I mean, nothing is really greater than that sacrifice.

I hearby tag: Lap of Luxury, Blah blah blah blog (who hasn't posted in too long), Mommy Log, Paul's Web Log, and Roman Catholic by Choice. Leave a comment if you actually do the meme, all the cool kids are doing it!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Yet Another Article

A good friend reminded me of this old EWTN article on fatherhood which happened to be written in Philadelphia so it got bonus points for being local interest.

Pro-choice Resolution Aborted

This article is a good reminder that phone calls and letters work. I know it happened a while ago, but I am so proud of all my fellow Philadelphians who stuck up for the unborn innocents.

Monday, July 16, 2007

A New Dawn

Blog Review by James Volpe

Blogging is a new form of mass communication which I have been involved in for the past few years. Since blogs are often equivalent to a public publishing of a private diary, it is easy to feel that I really know a blogger even if I have never met them. One of the bloggers who generates this feeling of friendship is Dawn Eden of The Dawn Patrol (http://www.dawneden.com/blogger.html).

Miss Eden has used her blog to discuss her rather sordid past, her conversion story, politics, journalism, and her newly published book. All of these subplots combine to provide an amazing portrait of a woman trying to live her life for Christ, especially through the virtue of chastity. Her years spent as a rock-and-roll journalist in New York City make her an unlikely, and very interesting person to preach on chastity and she freely imparts the lessons learned on her blog, although she would love to have you buy the book as well.

Her recent conversion to Catholicism and her appreciation of many great Catholic authors, such as G. K. Chesterton, let her serve as a translator. She experienced many of the pitfalls of modern society and she can explain these pitfalls in terms that those in the Church can understand. She daily gives a captivating portrait of Generation X: one that is as dark as the deepest pits of depression, yet hungers to be washed whiter than snow.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Babies aren't Green

Via Roman Catholic by Choice, comes this post concerning British environmentalists who hate babies.

I find it interesting that this organization would even write an article expecting to convince anyone. The British people who are having more than two children are most likely deeply devoted Muslim immigrants who are not going to be swayed by any non-religious argument. I will leave all other commentary to the blogger who does a good job critiquing the Optimum Population hoopla.

Fornication is irrational, even to an atheist

Via Curt Jester, comes this post. John C. Wright is a sci-fi author, Christian and former atheist. He recorded many of his atheistic thought processes and repeats them for commentary on his journal, aside from writing new pieces. His most recent piece is the rational, logical, non-theistic argument against fornication. It is great philosophizing, though it includes many literary references which are beyond my experience.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Chemical Warfare against Men

Via Curt Jester comes this story about synthetic estrogen in Colorado streams. The hypocrisy of the environmentalist movement in the area is exposed. Genetically modified food to help feed people is heinous despite no evidence but synthetic estrogen causing male fish to vanish is not a pressing issue. Maybe the environmentalist movement considers it chemical warfare against their biggest threat, humanity.

That being said, I much prefer organic food to genetically altered food. Ironically for the greenies, my dedication to natural family planning lead me to my current "chrunchiness" (or natural family life) and seems to lead may people towards a greener worldview.

Since I've only fathered girls so far, maybe I should buy a reverse-osmosis filter for the house if I want a son.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Big Family, Big Bed

From Danielle Bean comes this post about cosleeping with multiple children. I am thankful that she used this topic as one of her discussions as I am trying to examine all the different ideas about cosleeping. I will probably post again after I read the comments.

As for my answer to the question, we have a toddler bed next to our bed for our oldest and a cosleeper on the other side for the baby. Since the baby is rapidly becoming a toddler and nursing frequently through the night, we are currently exploring new options until we are ready to give them their own room together.

All men were pigs before vulcanized rubber

Via Dawn Eden, come this story which I had the misfortune to experience first hand while on vacation. A commercial synopsis: beautiful woman sits in bar surrounded by pigs, one pig goes to the restroom and purchases a condom, pig returns as handsome man, woman (with sultry look) leaves with man.

As a man this commercial offends me in a dozen ways, as a father about a dozen more. Listing only complaints which I thought of during the commercial:
1. Were all men pigs before condoms were mass produced?
2. I don't have a condom in my pocket now, so I am a pig.
3. Shouldn't the couple at least learn each others' names before leaving together? Perhaps say "Hi?"
4. Isn't a condom just a display of distrust? It seems to say, "I'll protect you by not letting you know how many other tramps I slept with."
5. Can beautiful women be easily seduced by purchasing a condom? I had a pack of college buddies who disproved this theory; but then again, they never showed the woman the condoms in their wallets.

I'm amazed that some channels didn't carry it simply because it is in poor taste. The MSM doesn't usually show that much common sense.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Babies not allowed to be babies

All in all, Boston was a very friendly place with helpful and polite citizenry, even the crazy ones were nice. This was our only experience of discrimination for an entire week of travel with the little ones.

We were at the Old North Church, where the signal lanterns were hung for Paul Revere to see, and a young lady was giving a presentation on the church from the pulpit. We walked in and milled about the aisles looking at the various art and architecture. When Jen paused to search for her camera, Amelia cried for a minute. At the end of the presentation, the young lady said, "Sorry for the crying baby, that's always nice." I wanted to clean her clock. She made the comment despite the fact that I heard the entire presentation clearly over the PA and Jen left the room with Amelia immediately after locating the camera. I suppose the huge fan which was cooling the room was not generating sufficient noise to drown out Amelia.

I know my children can be whiny now, but at least they will have stopped before becoming young ladies.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Not Dead Yet

Dear Readers,

I was away on a glorious, revolutionary vacation to Boston for the past week. I will get posts up soon. We had much fun and saw many friends but we took no pictures of them so they may rest safe knowing that they won't be associated with my blog.

God bless,


Thursday, June 14, 2007

I'm Tingling

I know these are silly, but I had to do it. I'm not that suprised. I always sympathized with this guy.
Your results:
You are Spider-Man
Iron Man
Green Lantern
The Flash
Wonder Woman
You are intelligent, witty,
a bit geeky and have great
power and responsibility.

Two's a Pattern

Useful co-sleeping tip #5 - Expect to have small 7-month-old feet knead your kidneys.

Now that it has happened with both children, I call it a pattern. Around the seven month mark, the girls both get extra squirmy for Mom but stay mostly still for me. During this phase, I focus on learning how to calm them down and get them to sleep (walking, singing, the Rosary, etc...). I usually have to do this during the night at least once. When I get back in bed, I often keep holding them so Mom can get some more sleep and the girls don't get disturbed in the transition from warm arms to cold co-sleeper. Usually the girls stay asleep until the next feeding time when they crawl to Mom. I keep them between us so they have easy access to Mom, for there are some things a Dad simply can't do.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

What was He thinking?

"Each person incarnates a divine thought." - Dietrich von Hildebrand

God is indeed interesting, since he thought of me.

Monday, June 11, 2007

If only this guy could get the nomination...

I hope someday to attend the National Catholic Men's Conference and this only further whets my appetite. I pray it provides help to the many attendees who also wish to be true men.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Unimportant news, Unimportant news

Apparently, a bill authorizing cloning of human beings was very nearly passed by the House. I am thankful that our shepherd, Cardinal Rigali, spoke the truth on this issue. The Brave New World is stopped again. Hallelujah!

CHT to the Curt Jester

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Intentional Happiness

In a message board with some dear friends, I just wrote this:

"Fertility must not be intentionally denied, ever, in marital relations. The couple who uses contraception intentionally takes an action to deny their fertility. The couple who takes recourse to the less-fertile times has not intentionally denied fertility. The "act" which denied fertility was God's when he created a woman's menstrual cycle or menopause. Secondarily, this covers the unintentionally caused infertility which can come about as a double effect of a hysterectomy. It would be wrong to choose a hysterectomy for the primary purpose of infertility."

I have never understood intention as it relates to contraception and NFP so clearly. I praise the Lord for allowing me to have this bit of wisdom. And I can't help telling the world.

More Greatness from David Warren

David Warren wrote an excellent column which indirectly concerns manhood. He covers some of the first explorers of the Antarctic and I can't help but notice that they are all men. The article makes me want to discover something.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Dressing Blind

Useful co-sleeping tip #4: Get dressed in the dark.

Although I have been accused of dressing myself while color blind for many years, I realize now that dressing while in the dark is a valuable cosleeping skill. I now dress almost entirely in the dark, except for turning on my closet light to pick a matching shirt, tie, and pants. When I do turn on the closet light, I position the door to cut off direct light towards my sleeping wife and daughters. Amelia is particularly vulnerable to this morning light and a few times she awoke and fussed when I left the door open and the light on too long.

I also carry my tie and shoes out of the room to put on while eating breakfast. I may have to stop this since I think Maria believes it is okay to touch your food and your feet intermittently. I guess that could lead to 'toest and jam.'

Cosleeping is Fatherhood

I just visited the dilbert site per my usual morning routine and was greeted with an Ad Council advertisement for the National Fatherhood Initiative. The remarkable part to me was that the ad showed a man sleeping on the couch with his daughter asleep on his chest. While I consider this a special dad ability, I'm surprised that a large non-profit agrees with me.

Since I have always been the one to get up with the girls on the weekends, even if they wake up too early, I have had the chance to pull this routine with both girls. I personally consider it a bit dangerous to actually fall asleep on the couch when they are sleeping on me, so I stay awake by putting in a DVD and then lying down. I just recently had Amelia take her first nap like this while I watched The Sixth Sense and I still remember Maria sleeping while I watched The Incredibles. They are moments that I cherish.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Columbo vs. Lansbury

Alright, there was a truly random conjunction of thoughts in my head. A reference was made to Columbo, in the movie Snake Eyes, this caused me to watch re-runs in my head of the one episode I remembered watching. Detective work spawned another recall loop where I remembered the one episode of Murder She Wrote which I remember watching. All of this then collided with my ever-present questions about manhood.

I don't remember either show that well, but I think its safe to say that Columbo solved his case by badgering the witness and other direct methods. On the other hand, Angela Lansbury (sp?) solved her case by coordinating many tiny pieces of information from various interviews and other, more indirect, methods. I believe this is a distinction between men and women. Men are more direct and aggressive. As a holy example, I think of St. Peter always charging to the front and opening his mouth even if he looks immensely silly. Women are more indirect and receptive. As another holy example, I think of St. Therese of Lisieux always listening and serving even those who she did not love.

Monday, May 21, 2007

A Grand Mother's Day Gift

Mother's Day prompted some sad reflections on my grandmother's passing. I remembered the greatest gift I ever gave her. I gave her a $50 Home Depot gift card and the promise of a day to do odd jobs around the house for her. My wife and I then visited her and found all the little things she wanted done but which she couldn't do for herself. We went to Home Depot to buy the various supplies, and spent the remainder of the day doing the chores. It was a great gift, even though I received far more than I gave just by seeing the joy in her face as she saw these small things done for her.

Her small pension and Depression Era upbringing always kept her living simply. She went without a doorknob on the basement door for years! However, she gave generously of the great gift of joy. I am thankful to remember her and I pray the Lord keep her joyful in His house.

The Heavy Weight of Sin

I was having some random meandering sparked by the NFP Debate. There was much discussion of avoiding temptation and I realized that sin is like gravity. The closer you get, the stronger the pull. Importantly, the struggle against sin builds our faith, much as a seed struggles against the pull of gravity (geotropism, thanks Dad!) to reach the Sun. Although we pray to not be lead into temptation in the Lord's prayer, we accept that God allows temptation to happen so our faith may grow.

End of meandering spiritual thought. All unorthodoxy is unintentional.

Calling all budding writers

I have recently become an editor for LifeCycles, the PNFPN newsletter. We publish four times a year and we are always looking for articles. We discuss all aspects and methods of NFP with a preference for the Philadelphia area. We also cover NFP events and do occasional book reviews. Let me know if you write anything (or find anything) you'd like us to consider for publication.

Friday, May 18, 2007

NFP freeware, I think

I haven't followed all of the links, but this is the best page by a CCL chapter ever. Period. Never gonna beat it.

Oh, I think they have charting freeware available somewhere. It's just so darn funny, that I don't care.

The Founders

I feel I should comment on it, though I don't quite know what to say. For those new to the CCL world, John & Sheila Kippley are only names. As I have learned about them, I am stunned at what they accomplished: a multi-national non-profit organization teaching Natural Family Planning against tremendous and astounding hostility doled out by loud, established, and wealthy enemies.

They are like an anti-Margaret Sanger. The Kippleys have been happily married for many decades and quietly and constantly spoke the truth about sex and marriage. Whereas Margaret Sanger was a divorcee who slept around and loudly spoke the lies that everyone wanted to hear about sex, abortion, and contraception.

The Kippleys have parted ways with CCL and started their own blog. I believe the disagreement was between two good choices in how CCL should move ahead but I firmly back the choices of the Executive Board. It seems that all non-profits have trouble with the "retirement" of the founders and I think this article explains it well.

May God have mercy on all our failings: mine, the Kippleys, and Margaret Sanger's.

A Baby's Ice Cream

A Baby's Breath-St. Davids is having a very "fun" fundraiser on THIS SUNDAY, May 20th: Simply come out and enjoy some yummy ice cream at Handel's Ice Cream on Rt. 30 in Berwyn, PA (Open 11am - 9pm). Handel's will donate a portion of the proceeds to ABB for each purchase made with the flyer.
The flyer is posted at www.ababysbreath.org

Please feel free to print out extra copies to give to neighbors, fellowclassmates, parishoners.
The more the merrier! Need Directions? Try www.mapquest.com, Handel's is at 576 Lancaster Ave.,Berwyn, PA 19312

Monday, May 14, 2007

Anniversary of the Year

And last in my series of lightheartedness, I just discovered that the seventh anniversary of my engagement with Jen was also the twenty-first anniversary of my first Holy Communion.

It seems that the Lord was preparing me for my bride for many years.

Oh, and since I haven't said it on the blog yet, "Happy Mother's Day!" to the darling mother of my darling daughters.

Coincidence of the week

Within a span of eight days, I watched Osmosis Jones, Brother from Another Series (an episode from Simpsons Season 8), and Hellboy. I was pleasantly surprised to find that David Hyde Pierce voices animated characters in all three of them!

As an interesting aside, Hellboy seems concerned with the same question I've been posing myself for a while. What is a man? It is neat to see pop culture asking these important questions. I was also surprised to see that Catholicism had a prominent place in the movie. It was portrayed as protection from nefarious evil. Not bad, now if only the protagonist was not half demon...

Joke of the Day

Now that Jen and I have finished our NFP Debate posts, I'd like to lighten the tone of the blog a bit.

So Maria got up with me per our usual routine and sat on her potty. After a few minutes, long enough for me to put on my shirt and tie, I asked her to get up and wash her hands. Diaperless, she climbed up her stepstool to wash her hands. After washing her hands, she relieved herself where she stood. So I set her back on her potty and cleaned her stool off of her stool!

Ha, I kill me.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

NFP Debate

I recently engaged in a debate over this post on a traditionalist group's blog. I was very sure going in that "of course, everyone needs to know NFP". After considering the issue further, I began to wonder if that was indeed the case. So, I hit the books to see if I could find evidence for the widespread teaching of NFP.

First I will try to give the highlights of the debate for those of you who don't wish to slog through it all on your own.

Their side:
1) learning NFP may tempt people to sin, either in the frank discussions involved in learning it or in the possession of knowledge about a woman's fertile times (i.e. a couple may use it without serious reason)

2) in the West, the experience of serious enough reasons for the use of NFP are so rare as to make widespread teaching of the method not just unnecessary and a waste of time, but potentially immoral, as learning it may be a temptation to sin

My basic arguments:
1) most couples will have serious enough reasons to use NFP at some point in their marriage, so it should be offered to couples at the start of their marriage

2) learning NFP in the pre-marriage period is less stressful than trying to learn it once a need arises - it's also easier as the signs confused by breastfeeding infertility, poor sleep due to newborn/infant/child sleep habits, etc.

The first thing that I took the time to read was Casti Connubii, something that's been on my "to be read" list for several years now. I then went through Familiaris Consortio. The contrast between the two is interesting, but I don't see any glaring contradictions. In 1930, when Casti Connubii was written NFP didn't exist as it does today, but still Pope Pius XI mentions and allows recourse to natural infertile periods for spacing births. Pope John Paul II had the benefit of seeing the effects of several decades of use of modern NFP, and makes quite a case for it's widespread dissemination.

I'll try to briefly reflect on what I see as some of the more relevant points in FC. In section 28, he writes, "Thus, the fundamental task of the family is to serve life, to actualize in history the original blessing of the Creator - that of transmitting by procreation the divine image from person to person. Fecundity is the fruit and the sign of conjugal love.... However, the fruitfulness of conjugal love is not restricted to the procreation of children...it is enlarged and enriched by all those fruits of moral spiritual and supernatural life which the father and mother are called to hand on to their children and through the children to the Church and to the world." (para 2-4)

In this section we see, that while procreation is "fundamental" to marriage, the live-giving and life-serving responsibly does not end with procreation. Parents have the task of educating their children, especially in faith and morals, with an eye towards not only their redemption, but also that of the world by way of the example shown by the family. Thus, responsible parenthood should include discernment by the husband and wife of whether or not at any given time the family's life-giving service is best shown by seeking to add a new life or refraining from doing so. Parent's have a right to be able to take into consideration their ability to care for their children in such a way as to give them a solid foundation in the faith, when deciding about family size.

Section 32, para. 5-6: When, instead, by means of recourse to periods of infertility, the couple respect the inseparable connection between the unitive and procreative meanings of human sexuality, they are acting as "ministers" of God's plan and they "benefit from" their sexuality according to the original dynamism of "total" selfgiving, without manipulation or alteration.
The choice of the natural rhythms involves accepting the cycle of the person, that is the woman, and thereby accepting dialogue, reciprocal respect, shared responsibility and self- control. To accept the cycle and to enter into dialogue means to recognize both the spiritual and corporal character of conjugal communion and to live personal love with its requirement of fidelity. In this context the couple comes to experience how conjugal communion is enriched with those values of tenderness and affection which constitute the inner soul of human sexuality, in its physical dimension also. In this way sexuality is respected and promoted in its truly and fully human dimension, and is never "used" as an "object" that, by breaking the personal unity of soul and body, strikes at God's creation itself at the level of the deepest interaction of nature and person."

Here JPII, talks about how couple's benefit from the practice of NFP, in communication, responsibility and self-control. He talks about how NFP involves an acceptance of the truth about sexuality, and respect for the wife, as her fertility is not rejected as it is with contraception.

Section 33:
(para. 3)
As Mother, the Church is close to the many married couples who find themselves in difficulty over this important point of the moral life: she knows well their situation, which is often very arduous and at times truly tormented by difficulties of every kind, not only individual difficulties but social ones as well; she knows that many couples encounter difficulties not only in the concrete fulfillment of the moral norm but even in understanding its inherent values. But it is one and the same Church that is both Teacher and Mother. And so the Church never ceases to exhort and encourage all to resolve whatever conjugal difficulties may arise without ever falsifying or compromising the truth: she is convinced that there can be no true contradiction between the divine law on transmitting life and that on fostering authentic married love.
(para. 5)
On the other hand, authentic ecclesial pedagogy displays its realism and wisdom only by making a tenacious and courageous effort to create and uphold all the human conditions-psychological, moral and spiritual-indispensable for understanding and living the moral value and norm.
(para 6) There is no doubt that these conditions must include persistence and patience, humility and strength of mind, filial trust in God and in His grace, and frequent recourse to prayer and to the sacraments of the Eucharist and of Reconciliation.
(para 7)
But the necessary conditions also include the knowledge of the bodily aspect and the body's rhythms of fertility. Accordingly, every effort must be made to render such knowledge accessible to all married people and also to young adults before marriage, through clear, timely and serious instruction and education given by married couples, doctors and experts. Knowledge must then lead to education in selfcontrol...(emphasis mine)

Here, we read that the Church knows that virtuously living out the marriage vows is difficult. Then JPII goes on to list some of the areas in which instruction and formation are necessary to enable couples to fully live out their marriage vows responsibly and without contradiction to moral norms. Psychological, moral and physical health are to be looked after, as teaching in and the practice of virtues. Seeing that these conditions are meet will help couples to have healthy marriages. JPII then goes on to say that knowledge of the fertility cycle should be made "accessible to all married people," and "to young adults before marriage." This sounds like a call for the widespread teaching of NFP to me. If JPII saw any threat of harm in teaching about fertility, he would not have called to it to be taught before marriage. Later, in section 35, he goes on to call for a "broader, more decisive and more systematic effort to make natural methods of regulating fertility known, respected and applied." (emphasis mine) Again we see the Pope calling for knowledge of NFP to be made more widespread, and put into use! If he was concerned about mis-use, then he would have been less forceful in his call for dissemination of the knowledge of NFP. And clearly, he believed that there are many couples for whom the use of NFP would be licit.

There are sections of FC that do remind couple's to use discernment in regard to family size. Specifically, section 34, calls couples to look to the teaching of Humanae Vitae as "the norm for the exercise of their sexuality." And later in the same section, "...
the function of transmitting life must be integrated into the overall mission of Christian life as a whole, which without the Cross cannot reach the Resurrection. In such a context it is understandable that sacrifice cannot be removed from family life, but must in fact be wholeheartedly accepted if the love between husband and wife is to be deepened and become a source of intimate joy." (para 6). So he doesn't do away with or forget about what was taught in HV. The conditions for use of NFP...just, serious or grave still apply. So we see that JPII's call for widespread teaching of NFP came even after consideration of the guidelines put forth in HV.

A summation:
There are many factors that come into play in a decision about whether or not to have another child. People must be adequately taught in order to live out their marriage vows and make responsible choices about parenthood. Part of that teaching should include knowledge of the woman's fertility. Having knowledge about a woman's fertility, and respecting her natural rythyms leads to the growth of virtue. The sense of responsibility fostered by knowledge of fertility, and the discernment called for in HV are integral to using NFP in a virtuous way. Knowledge of the Church's teachings on sexuality and responsible parenthood should be taught, including knowledge about NFP so that couple can make good decisions regarding family size and continue to live in service to life.

So, in the end, I am more convinced than ever that NFP is good, and that it should be widely promoted and taught, but only within the context of Church teaching on the family.

The Great NFP Debate

Response to Sarah's response from the RCPStudy. My words in italic paragraphs.

Sarah said...

Jimmy V.,
It's admirable to see a man coming to the defense of his wife, although I do think Jen was doing a fine job expressing herself. She is intelligent and sincere - I'm always hoping that more women will engage in the discussions on the blog.

I appreciate the compliment about my wife as well as me. I have found her to be intelligent and sincere every time that I stop the chattering in my head and listen. I was not intending to come to my wife's defense, so much as to stand with her in defending our beliefs.

You make a very valid point. There is a tendency among Catholics to believe that you are somehow more Catholic, or a holier Catholic, if you have a large family. But that is not what I believe, nor what I intended to express. One is a good and saintly Catholic by doing God's will and accepting His graces. You are absolutely right: saints have come from small families, including the Blessed Mother and Jesus Himself. Small families are good IF (and this is a big if) that is God's will for you.

Always good to have points of agreement.

I want to clarify that in my last comment I did NOT say that we should all have large families. Rather, I said that we should be "open" to having a large family. Only God determines what is best for each particular family. But that is precisely my point. IF God only gives us one or two, then we should count them as the blessings that they are and raise them to be saints. If God deigns to give us 12, then we should count them all as the blessings that they are and raise them to be saints. It seems to me that NFP introduces the idea that we can licitly control (albeit through self-control) the size of our family. My point is precisely that we should leave that up to God.

Here we start to address the misunderstanding. As my wife and I struggled with infertility for years, we learned the hard way that NFP is not control. NFP allows us to ask God for the blessing of children, explicitly, through marital relations in the fertile time. Relations during the non-fertile time implicitly accept children as a possiblity, exactly like marital relations of spouses who are unaware of their fertility. "Leave that up to God" can be said about every aspect of our lives but God still requires most of us to eat a healthy diet to stay healthy. We have to work like everything depends on us and pray like everything depends on God.

As for the firearm analogy, you're right in one sense. It isn't the direct responsibility of the instructors to teach gun-owners the morality of gun use. However, wouldn't our world be a better and safer place if the instructors did teach not only how to use a gun, but also when to use it - as a way of supporting the pastors who are responsible for teaching the ethical use of guns?

The analogy here was that NFP Instructors should not be required to pass on the teaching of the Church since catechesis is the job of the bishops and priests, much as the job of firearms instructors is to teach how to use a gun correctly, not how to use a gun morally. In both situations, the students should have been instructed in morals well before they ever approached the gun or the thermometer. However, given the current level of catechesis of the average Pre-Cana attendee, NFP instructors should pass on Church teaching as well as they can. A more ideal situation would be a Pre-Cana which passes on the morality component followed by NFP instruction which reinforces that morality and provides the physiological knowledge.

I must admit, I'm failing to understand a few of your statements.

"Procreation can be done for selfish reasons as well as holy ones." This can be true, I suppose. Although it doesn't have much strength as an argument for the widespread use of NFP. Typically I think it's unlikely that a man in our day and age is selfishly having many children. There are, I'm sure, a few out there, but not enough to warrant the requirement of all couples to learn NFP.

I disagree with her assertion that it is unlikely that a man in our day and age is selfishly having children. It seem to me that most men have children for selfish reasons, that is, having children to appease the wife or the future grandmother or having children as some kind of status symbol to show that he has finally grown up. Also, a commentor from the original post stated that he hoped God would send twins to "teach him a lesson" if he ever is tempted to think that a better car might be more desirable than another child. Learning a lesson, even a spiritual one, is still a selfish reason.

Then you said, "When you see large families, especially in the older days, they could have been a result of: repeated rapes by the husband since 50 years ago the law let a husband rule the roost..." I really don't understand what you're getting at here...

I apologize entirely for my words here, they were inappropriate hyperbole. I meant to suggest that although God loves and blesses every child conceived, he does not always bless the manner in which they are conceived (rape, fornication, ...). I further suggest that he wants us to practice holy prudence in regard to our family size and He may not be pleased with imprudent conceptions even as he is overjoyed at the birth of another soul.

I suppose large families "could have been the result of repeated rapes". Anything is possible and even the most heinous sins have been committed by someone. But do you have anything substantial to justify this claim? What "law" are you referring to? And what exactly do you mean by "rule the roost"?

As I said previously, more inappropriate hyperbole. I apologize again.

Secondly, I have to ask, what are you implying? That we should always be suspicious of large families because they could be the result of rape? Do you honestly think that a man who is so selfish as to rape his wife would want several children to have to provide for? And is this still a recurring problem today, and that's why we need NFP - to teach these men some level of self-control? Are you implying that couples who do not learn NFP will have so little self-control as to be likely to fall into a relationship of repeated rape? If you could clarify your point in making this comment, I'd appreciate it.

I hope I sufficient elaborated my point earlier. I will try to clarify that NFP use requires much self-control and develops continence every month when avoiding pregnancy. On the opposite side, practicing "temporary abstinence" can be an excuse to avoid abstaining every month by a couple with little self-control. I'm not saying that these are common occurences but merely that there can be temptation on either side.

You said "heroic virtue is not required of anyone"...What do you mean by this? We are not required to be heroically virtuous? Didn't Jesus say that we must be perfect as the Heavenly Father is perfect? Isn't it our duty, and shouldn't it be our desire to excel in virtues - out of love for Our Savior and in an effort to encourage others to do His will? Isn't that what the saints have done: been heroically virtuous? And aren't we supposed to imitate their example and become saints ourselves? Perhaps I'm misreading your comment.

The article in Homiletic and Pastoral Review, which I linked in a previous post, covers this point well but I will try to explain. Sadly, in our modern times, nearly all external forces are aligned against the family. Especially in the Western World, there are very few refuges which can be found. Many people, including myself, feel that it can take heroic virtue to raise a large family up to the Lord. I believe, and the Church teaches, that it is not right to expect every family to directly fight this gruelling battle. By analogy, if religious orders in the Dark Ages had not retreated to their monastaries to preserve our patrimony, where would we be today? If those orders had not practiced humility in knowing they couldn't fight the battles of their time, the battle of our time would be even more difficult.

May God bless you and your family.

And may he bless you and yours abundantly.