I invite you to sign The Manhattan Declaration

The Manhattan Declaration

Theodore's Memorial Video

Monday, April 30, 2007

Food for Thought About Love

Actually, I got this off of a blog run by a friend of my oldest daughter.


Everyone longs to give themselves completely to someone,
To have a deep soul relationship with another,
To be loved thoroughly and exclusively.

But to a Christian, God says, "No, not until you are satisfied,
Fulfilled and content with being loved by me alone,
With giving yourself totally and unreservedly to me.
With having an intensely personal and unique relationship with me

Discovering that only in me is your satisfaction to be found,
Will you be capable of the perfect human relationship,
That I have planned for you.

You will never be united to another
Until you are united with me.
Exclusive of anyone or anything else. Exclusive of any other desires or
I want you to stop planning, to stop wishing, and allow me to give you
The most thrilling plan existing . . . one you cannot imagine.
I want you to have the best.

Please allow me to bring it to you.
You just keep watching me, expecting the greatest things.
Keep experiencing the satisfaction that I am.
Keep listening and learning the things that I tell you.
Just wait, that's all.

Don't be anxious, don't worry
Don't look around at things others have gotten
Or that I have given them
Don't look around at the things you think you want,
Just keep looking off and away up to me,
Or you'll miss what I want to show you.
And then, when you're ready, I'll surprise you with a love
Far more wonderful than you could dream of.
You see, until you are ready, and until the one I have for you is
I am working even at this moment
To have both of you ready at the same time.
Until you are both satisfied exclusively with me
And the life I've prepared for you,
You won't be able to experience the love that exemplifies your
with me.
And this is perfect love.

And, dear one, I want you to have this most wonderful love.
I want you to see in the flesh a picture of your relationship with me.
And to enjoy materially and concretely the everlasting union
Of beauty, perfection and love that I offer you with Myself.
Know that I love you utterly.
For I am God. Believe it and be satisfied.

~ St. Anthony of Padua


This is a great lesson for our children, especially as they go through adolescence, and as they discern their vocations. Consider that someone who follows St. Anthony de Padua's advice will end up with the greatest, most perfect companion: Our Lord. In that way, if no spouse shows up to be the one to 'be loved thoroughly and exclusively,' he will realize that no man or woman is necessary when he has a close friendship with Christ.

In my own case, God has seen fit to run this backwards. The good God was kind to me, and sent me a wonderful wife while I was(and still am) sorting out my love for God. Wifeofdadwithnoisykids is a good example to me of how loving God enables a woman to love a man like dadwithnoisykids.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Fecundity...and Knives...and Freaky Mass Music

"fecundity - the state of being fertile; capable of producing offspring"

- from the free online dictionary

Fecundity has been on my mind lately, because I suspect we are at the end of our time of being fertile.

My suspicion does not leave me with a sense of relief, or expectancy, or joy in any way, shape or form. Instead, I think that this is a part of life which would have occurred at some point. When our time for having children would stop was never really considered; it alway seemed as if it would be in the DISTANT future. Unfortunately, the future seems to have arrived sooner than we would have expected.

That is what brings this thought:

Fecundity, like any other gift from the hand of God, is to be used rather than pushed aside for use when it suits us. Those who have been given the gift and choose to not use it will have to answer for neglecting one of the greatest privileges we have been given: to participate in the creation of an immortal soul formed in the image and likeness of God.

It really does seem as though you don't know what you got 'til it's gone!


Copied from this blog, by Father Stephanos, OSB:

Back in the sixth century, monks wore knives at the belt like everyone else. The knife was a multi-purpose tool for both eating and working. At some point during the one and a half millennia since the life of St. Benedict, monks discontinued the wearing of a knife.

How cool it would be if the Benedictine habit still included a knife at the belt!

Make mine a Ka-Bar!

Actually a short medieval dagger would be more in keeping with the habit.Here’s what St. Benedict had to say about monks and knives:

Chapter 55: On the Clothes and Shoes of the Brethren.... And in order that this vice of private ownership may be cut out by the roots, the Abbot should provide all the necessary articles— hooded garment, tunic, stockings, shoes, belt, knife, stylus, needle, handkerchief, writing tablets— that all pretext of need may be taken away.

Chapter 22: How the Monks Should Sleep.... Let them sleep clothed and girded with belts or cords, but not with their knives at their sides, lest they cut themselves in their sleep.

Whenever St. Benedict expressly prohibits or discourages something, I’m sure he does so because he finds it necessary. From experience.


Make mine an Air Force Survival Knife, complete with sharpening stone.


Then today there was the Offertory Hymn(or was it the second Communion Hymn) which sounded like this:

My wife took some of the other children to Novus Ordo Latin Mass, while I went elsewhere because there was sickness in the house.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Dangerous Trend at Magnum Opus

We have been monitoring the activities of a blog, one 'Magnum Opus' based in Michigan, for some time now. We are alarmed at the projected growth of a collection of chicks that were acquired by the author of this blog. The purpose for chickens was to to raise them to lay eggs, but we suspect something else is going on here.

By the way, magnum opus is Latin for 'big penguin,' in reference to the penguin 'Opus' in the old comic 'Bloom County.'

Note the first picture, when the chicks were very young - and cute.

Notice how they have grown over the past few weeks. The photograph below has not been doctored as far as our lab can tell.

Using the statistical tool of EXTRAPOLATION, where one makes accurate predictions based on the trend of information, or data points, leading up to where you have no idea what happens next(people do this all the time when they double all the ingredients in a recipe), we are terrified of what we project will be the end result of these chickens when they reach maturity.

The photograph below suggests that the end-stage of the growth curve of these chickens will put them in the 'greater than 99%' range for height and weight.

Chickens in this size classification are not very good for eating, lay fewer eggs, and tend to eat women in mini skirts.

I have personally attempted to contact the blogger at Magnum Opus, but they have been strangely quiet over the past few days.

I am surprised that this blog has not reported this as another incident of genetic engineering gone terribly wrong.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Saturday Thoughts from a Busy Week

Wedding Thoughts

While I am running around town with the children, my wife will be attending the wedding shower for a young woman who has served as a babysitter for the Noisykids. We are happy for her, and her fiance is a good man, but her marriage means that she will be moving on to other more challenging events in her life.

I haven't spoken to her father yet, but I would share this thought with him, one that will put it all in perspective: he is not losing a daughter, I am losing a babsitter!

11th Birthday Celebration

Wednesday and Thursday were two days to celebrate the birthday of my 11 year old son. He is the youngest of the Michigan Children; he moved to Texas when he was less than 4 months old.

We went to a Mexican restaurant on Wednesday and had dessert on Thursday at home. The dining room was decorated with dogs suspended from the ceiling - Histor the Wise has pictures here. My son really likes dogs, which leads to the next part of this blog:

Getting a Dog

An Australian Sheepdog, no less.

It has no tail, and it is rather furry, so it looks as if we have a bear living with us.

Day #33, Final Day of Total Consecration according to Saint Louis De Montfort

Today I will pray the prayer of Total Consecration to Jesus. This marks the 4th time over the past 20 years that I have given all that I have, all that I have merited(not much) to Jesus through His Immaculate Mother. My biggest motivation for doing this has been my recent health problems, which I mention here and here, to point out a few blog entries.

As one of my partners in the Air Force put it, I am hearing the 'footsteps' coming up behind me; the past few months have made me start to realize that my time on earth is limited, and that all I do from this day onward must be pleasing to God. Therefore, I believe that repeating this consecration is in order. I am working on being better prepared for death by being better prepared for life.

Here is the prayer I will be praying:

Consecration to Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Wisdom, through the Blessed Virgin Mary

O Eternal and incarnate Wisdom! 0 sweetest and most adorable Jesus! True God and true man, only Son of the Eternal Father, and of Mary, always virgin! I adore Thee profoundly in the bosom and splendors of Thy Father during eternity; and I adore Thee also in the virginal bosom of Mary, Thy most worthy Mother, in the time of Thine incarnation.

I give Thee thanks for that Thou hast annihilated Thyself, taking the form of a slave in order to rescue me from the cruel slavery of the devil. I praise and glorify Thee for that Thou hast been pleased to submit Thyself to Mary, Thy holy Mother, in all things, in order to make me Thy faithful slave through her. But, alas! Ungrateful and faithless as I have been, I have not kept the promises which I made so solemnly to Thee in my Baptism; I have not fulfilled my obligations; I do not deserve to be called Thy child, nor yet Thy slave; and as there is nothing in me which does not merit Thine anger and Thy repulse, I dare not come by myself before Thy most holy and august Majesty. It is on this account that I have recourse to the intercession of Thy most holy Mother, whom Thou hast given me for a mediatrix with Thee. It is through her that I hope to obtain of Thee contrition, the pardon of my sins, and the acquisition and preservation of wisdom.

Hail, then, 0 immaculate Mary, living tabernacle of the Divinity, where the Eternal Wisdom willed to be hidden and to be adored by angels and by men! Hail, 0 Queen of Heaven and earth, to whose empire everything is subject which is under God. Hail, 0 sure refuge of sinners, whose mercy fails no one. Hear the desires which I have of the Divine Wisdom; and for that end receive the vows and offerings which in my lowliness I present to thee.

I, dadwithnoisykids, a faithless sinner, renew and ratify today in thy hands the vows of my Baptism; I renounce forever Satan, his pomps and works; and I give myself entirely to Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Wisdom, to carry my cross after Him all the days of my life, and to be more faithful to Him than I have ever been before.

In the presence of all the heavenly court I choose thee this day for my Mother and Mistress. I deliver and consecrate to thee, as thy slave, my body and soul, my goods, both interior and exterior, and even the value of all my good actions, past, present and future; leaving to thee the entire and full right of disposing of me, and all that belongs to me, without exception, according to thy good pleasure, for the greater glory of God in time and in eternity.

Receive, 0 benignant Virgin, this little offering of my slavery, in honor of, and in union with, that subjection which the Eternal Wisdom deigned to have to thy maternity; in homage to the power which both of you have over this poor sinner, and in thanksgiving for the privileges with which the Holy Trinity has favored thee. I declare that I wish henceforth, as thy true slave, to seek thy honor and to obey thee in all things.

O admirable Mother, present me to thy dear Son as His eternal slave, so that as He has redeemed me by thee, by thee He may receive me! 0 Mother of mercy, grant me the grace to obtain the true Wisdom of God; and for that end receive me among those whom thou lovest and teachest, whom thou leadest, nourishest and protectest as thy children and thy slaves.

0 faithful Virgin, make me in all things so perfect a disciple, imitator and slave of the Incarnate Wisdom, Jesus Christ thy Son, that I may attain, by thine intercession and by thine example, to the fullness of His age on earth and of His glory in Heaven. Amen.

[Electronic Signature] dadwithnoisykids
April 28, 2007

Interesting Articles

I found this article on the Catholic Dads Blog. It shows how men are meant to serve our families, our spouses, and society in general. Our salvation comes through us working for the good of man and for the greater glory of God.
Here is a note about a cardiothoracic surgeon who apparently did just that. I never knew this about him. One of the first cardiothoracic procedures I did as a fellow was a re-do Rastelli procedure.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Four Saints, One Blessed, and One Should-be Saint Meme

Here is my Meme, courtesy of Histor the Wise, Newhousenewjob, and someone at

My favorite saints are as follows:

Saint Joseph – model for fathers and for those who work to support a family.
He is the ideal example for fathers: chaste, hardworking, quiet, ready to
do what is necessary for the good of his family.

The Death of St. Joseph:

The Celestial Physicians – Saints Luke, Cosmas and Damian, Panteleon, and
Joseph Moscati. They are ancient colleagues of mine, and I pray to them for
assistance in my work.

St. Luke:

Saints Cosmas and Damian:

St. Panteleon:

St. Joseph Moscati:

Saint Augustine – He is an inspiration because he describes my own spiritual
struggle – knowing what the right thing to do is, but just not able to do it
– and his victory over it. His request for prayers for his deceased mother
is a touching inspiration.

My Celestial Lawyers – St Francis de Sales and St. Thomas More – Every
doctor needs a good lawyer, and these two have helped me with legal issues –
nothing serious or scandalous, folks. What is interesting is that all of
their responses have included the statement 'Neither St. Francis nor St.
Thomas is certified by the Texas Board of Attorneys.'

One Blessed:

Blessed Miguel Pro – Mexican Priest, died extending his arms, facing the
firing squad without a blindfold, shouting 'Viva Christo Rey!' I hope to be
as united with Our Lord at the moment of my death. We know this is how
Miguel pro died because his executioners photographed his execution. They
also photographed him praying before his execution.

One Should-be Saint

Thomas a Kempis – Author of The Imitation of Christ, one of my favorite
spiritual reading books. Also rumored to have been buried alive, but this
is not verified. The cause for his beatification fizzled out with the death
of the Cardinal who was leading it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

I rejoiced when I heard him say...

...special delivery for dadwithnoisykids!

Monday Night Mass Food for Thought

Besides nourishing us with the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, our pastor will also give good sermons that really give one food for thought.

Listen to them here.

Being someone who considers himself 'in the know' about everything, I was taken aback by Father's homily on Monday night, when he started discussing the events that took place in the Garden of Eden. The thought I will present to you has never occurred to me.

Where was Adam when Eve was confronted by the serpent?

Rather than being there to protect his beloved, bone of his bone, flesh of his flesh, he was out of the picture while this snake was working on Eve.

One could say that Adam was the one who really dropped the ball, especially after God called them to explain themselves. Adam turned and put the blame on Eve.

This time he was there to take the heat for his and Eve's actions, and he attempted to slide it all onto Eve.

See our pictures on July 1 2007.

Father wrapped up his homily by reminding all of us that Adam never received the Body of Christ to strengthen his actions. His point was that with Our Lord in the Sacraments, we men should be there to protect our spouses, children even to the point of death.

And yet so often we behave just like Adam did on the day they disobeyed God.

Curious about the family? Visit on 07012007 and you will see.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Behold the Kittens

This is a series of pictures of our latest litter of kittens. Five kittens in all, about 4 weeks old, with 3 males and 2 females. Of note, all have little white paws, almost like socks. It reminds me of the nursery rhyme about the three little kittens who lost their mittens. This first picture is a special photographic process, which captures the excitement of the new kittens. It is a veeery expensive addition to my camera.

Below, note how the sideways angle of the photograph impels the viewer to move themselves into an odd angle in order to observe the kitten. I did this on purpose, so that the viewer can experience the same feeling of discomfort which kittens feel as they interact with the human.

The obvious symbolism of the railing, along with the star, makes this one of my most compelling masterpieces. Note the contrast between the golden fur and the green grass.

Once again, we are drawn into the pathos of the plight of the subservient kitten, trying to find its way in a world being ruined by humans. Every time we waste, don't recycle, or use more bathroom tissue than necessary, we contribute to the acceleration of the end of the world - or at least that is what Al Gore says.

I am selling prints of these, unframed, for $2,000,000.00 apiece.

Seriously, the mother cat nurses the kittens in a box where they can't get mauled by roaming dogs or coyotes. We lost a whole litter to a dog before putting together a safe refuge for these cats.

The mother cat will bring little dead mice or pieces of rabbit fur for the kittens to play with - neat!

Sometimes I am the bird...

...sometimes I am the statue.

This past week has that kind of feeling, as I came back to work after some vacation time.

Typically, the first week after vacation seems like a punishment, with long hours and a pile of paperwork to deal with. Sometimes my group's policies have changed while I have been away, so I have to figure out the 'new' way of doing things.

I had a call night which was rather benign, with no cases after 10 o'clock. Friday night was another story, with cases keeping me busy until 2 a.m. I tried to go home three times; once I got as far as a gas station(I had a feeling I would need a full tank), the second time I got home and just started eating when the pager went off. If I had waited ten more minutes, I could have added some meat to the pasta my wife had prepared for me. The third attempt got me home for good. I put more than 100 miles on my car that night.

Even my clothes suffered last week, with a patient's blood sprayed over one of my white coats.

I have seen some interesting things while driving home late at night. Some of the things are comical, such as a compact car(complete with trailer) stalled out in the center lane of I-35 - facing the wrong way. Or the time I was stopped for speeding - 77 mph past a sheriff's deputy who was on the side of the road with his lights off. When he heard that I was responding to an emergency call(THIS IS TRUE!), and I showed him identification tht proved I am a doctor, he started berating me for not driving a 'doctor's car.' He thought this was funny and let me off with a warning.

I will never have a 'doctor' car - not as long as there are Noisykids alive.

One night, I saw a radio tower hit by lightning. It started with a bolt of lightning dropping out of the clouds, only to stop in what appeared to be midair. I didn't realize a tower was there until after the lightning faded away and the beacon lights on the tower flashed on again.

All I could think was how beautiful the lightning was, and how manmade fireworks can't compare to the wonder of God's creation.

Some things I see on the way home are tragic, such as this account of a furry brown creature strike. Sometimes I drive home, fighting back tears, remembering a bad day at work. The greatest consolation on days such as that are when I come home, I find that my wife and children have spent the day praying for me and my patients. I don't tell enough families that my work is fortified by the prayers of my wife and the Noisykids.

Let us consider some more candidates for the new and improved Scorpion Stalking Duck official photographs:

How about this scorpion?

Why limit oneself to scorpions? How 'bout a Louisiana Crawdaddy?

The Duck wants to stay as model for Scorpion Stalking Duck!!

The Scorpion - yes, THE SCORPION, is not taking this sitting down!!!!!!!!!!!

The Scorpion and the Duck are Intellectual as well as photogenic!

Why not change the blog name to Scorpion Stalking GOOSE?

This is a fine young duck. He would take the job for less pay....I am sure the 'suits' in the front office would like that.

These three believe that something old, tried and true would be a better blog for the world.

All of these folks would jump at the chance for celebrity!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Easter Season Thoughts

One of my favorite readings during the Easter Season:

After the meal Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more
than these others do?"? He answered, "Yes Lord, you know I love you." Jesus said
to him, "Feed my lambs."

A second time he said to him, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He replied,
"Yes, Lord, you know I love you." Jesus said to him, "Look after my sheep."

Then he said to him a third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was
upset that he asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" and said, "Lord, you
know everything; you know I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep."

"I tell you most solemnly, when you were young you put on your own belt and
walked where you liked; but when you grow old you will stretch out your hands,
and somebody else will put a belt round you and take you where you would rather
not go."

In these words he indicated the kind of death by which Peter would give glory to
God. After this he said, "Follow me."

I think that God is asking me this question constantly - do you love me? This has
to be on His mind as He watches me fall and fall again, offending Him by my sins and
my lukewarm heart.
Christ's order for me is similar to the one Peter received: feed my lambs. In my
case it is to care for my wife and the Noisykids.
Most importantly, it involves doing what I am supposed to rather than what I want to do - giving up what I want to do for the good of the family. My family is that 'somebody else' who is taking me where I would rather not go. What is so wonderful about going where I would rather not go is that it ends up being better than where I would have ended up on my own.
By working on death to self, fighting to break my selfishness, and relying on God's grace, I hope to gain Heaven.

On another note....

...I noticed I was recognized on the blog American Papist. I am honored to be picked out of a lot of good blogs by a blog that I use to find out what's going on in the Catholic world.

Thank you!

Book Review: Salvifici Doloris

Really it is an Apostolic Letter from Pope John Paul II, which was posted to my old blog Duck Stalking Scorpion. It is here on the DSS Project.

Salvifici Doloris(click on the title to go to the document)

Sometimes it is a good idea to take a step away from our work, to call a time out, and to take some stock of what we are doing in our lives. This is true for whatever our vocation is, or whatever our profession. In my case, I recommend this letter from Pope John Paul II as a good aide for doctors to use. Reading it has reminded me of the reasons why I chose medicine as a career so many years ago. It also will, hopefully, make me treat my patients as if I were caring for Our Lord instead of Yet Another Patient with An Abscess Somewhere That Needs To Be Drained. Pope John Paul II makes the point that those who care for the sick are like the Good Samaritan, and the the good we do for others in our work is as if we were doing it for Him(whatsoever you do….etc.).
It is also a good idea to remember that our livelihood, for all specialties, is made possible by the sorrow and pain of others: fallout from the Fall of Adam.
Pope John Paul II published this letter in February 1984, approximately two and a half years after he was shot. My guess is that this letter was inspired by his experience as a patient. George Weigel’s book, Witness to Hope covers this part of his pontificate very well. Pope John Paul II seemed to be very active in the decision making process of his medical care.
I could go on for a while, trying to review this Apostolic Letter, but your time would be better spent reading the document.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Oh Look! COWS!

My first Youtube Video:

Scenes from the Fort Worth, Texas Stockyards. My wife's cousin, who is very tall, is the cameraman.

July 1, 2007 see the Dadwithnoisykids family picture.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Let's take a trip through Switzerland...

...at one time the stomping grounds of dadwithnoisykids when HE was one of the Noisykids(1972). I recall seeing a jet blast low overhead. It was gone in a few seconds. This reminded me of life in Switzerland:

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Deep thought from a shallow mind

There are several discussions going on at other blogs about NFP.

As I sit here at work, I can't help but think that in 1,000 years, when
people look back at these times, there will be no mention of those who
used NFP, or that the world was a better place because they used their
knowledge of physiology to regulate, space, or eliminate the number of
children that they brought into the world.

I would guess that those who brought children into the world and worked
their tails off to raise them, in the process becoming an example of
service and sacrifice to their children, will be the anonymous 'parents'
of those who one day will be elevated to the status of Saint.

But what do I know?

All I know is that if my in-laws had stopped after 9 children, I would
have been denied the presence of my closest friend, my companion in
marriage, and a woman who wants no more than to serve God, her husband,
and her children.

But then again, what do I know?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

BIG CHANGE at the Little Blog:

For those of you wonderful readers who took off Holy Week to spend time in prayer, you missed the change that took place at Scorpion Stalking Duck on April 1, 2007. At first it was just a change in the front office, where the 'suits' hang out and make all the big decisions. I was still in charge of creative blog entries.

All of that changed yesterday, when I received a memo from the CEO of Noisykid Kitchen("Where to Find the Best of Everything") stating that the name of the blog is too controversial. First of all, the memo said, Scorpions don't stalk ducks. Secondly, stalking is considered a 'controversial' and 'divisive' terminology to describe a blog. Most importantly, the characters used in the blog to show a scorpion stalking a duck are not photogenic enough. They cited this one fact as the main reason why so few people read this blog.

I wish to respond to this memo, but the CEO said I have to start a search for the new models for the new pictures and avatar that will reflect a 'kinder, gentler' blog. By the way, the picture below is that of the CEO.

The first batch of candidates are below his picture.

The CEO totally ignored the fact that I took pictures of the scorpion stalking the duck when we lived in San Antonio. I did not 'stage' that picture as some people say. The infamous 'Scorpion Stalking Duck' picture is at the bottom of the blog page. That really happened.

"Stalking?" Why not "Stalking?" It's catchy!

Regarding photogenics, I live by the rule that 'Beauty is Truth, and Truth is Beauty.' Also, I am myself someone who is known to have a 'nice personality,' and 'beautiful eyes' rather than a stunning physique, so I like to show the world as it really is. If that means ordinary scorpions and ducks doing extraordinary things, so be it.

As for the faithful readers of this blog, I am in for a 'quality' rather than 'quantity' blog. I would still write this nonsense even if I were the only one reading it.

I know someone in Oklahoma will always read this. Thank you.

For all my devout readers, thank you. I expect to get fired for writing this entry, but I don't care. I want to keep the old characters. I want to keep the blog the way it is. I never want to grow up. I am never going to leave Kansas!

Now, the models:

This duck said if he became the model he would be able to pay for the eye surgery. Maybe he could check his thyroid function, too.

Look at this handsome, manly duck!

Every pose of this duck brings to mind a duck in command of his faculties and all that he surveys.
Compare him with this poor excuse of a duck!

Check out the exoskeleton on this scorpion! Ladies, control yourselves!

Here's a happy fellow! He works as a clown when he is not studying engineering.

All the ladies love the adorable Mr. Waddles.

Never mind the scorpions, why not start fresh with a BEE!

Why not have this whole family for the new blog mascots?

I will show more pictures(under duress) and will make a survey later this week.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Movie Review: Die Grosse Stille

My 8th, 11th, and 12th children in prayer:

Into Great Silence

Die Grosse Stille

“When the noise stops – the conversations, the music, the news, talk radio, the thought about what to say next in a discussion – then can one hear God speak.”

I thought these words years ago after attending a silent retreat at Featherock, a center run by Opus Dei, about an hour’s drive East of Houston. It has been our habit for my wife and me to attend separate, silent retreats at Featherock for the last 10 years. For us, it is an opportunity to spend time in silent prayer and meditation, away from the noise and activity that comes with a large homeschooling family. It is time for us to listen to God without interference from the outside world, to look at where we are and where we think God wants us to be. This process is done with spiritual direction from the priest in residence, spiritual reading, meditations, and most important of all with time spent before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

The yearly retreat is something we look forward to eagerly, and yet after three days, I find myself yearning for the company of my wife and children, and all the other things of the world that clamor for my attention.

I mention this before reviewing Into Great Silence because I know in my heart that I could never be a Carthusian monk. The three-day retreat has proved that many times. Despite this, I felt a bit of envy or desire to be a Carthusian. I can’t explain it any better than to recall one of my favorite quotes from St. John-Marie Baptiste Vianney:

“You see, the good God at times inspires us with desires of which he will never ask the fulfillment in this world.”

Abbe Francis Trochu go on to explain that “aspirations towards the monastic life were of this kind; and that, if they were carefully cherished in his heart, they would prove both a preservative against worldliness and a stimulus to the practice of every priestly virtue.”

(From The Cure D’Ars, by Abbe Francis Trochu, TAN Books, p. 309)

Before discussing the movie, some practical points to consider. The movie is almost 3 hours long, so consider a visit to the little boy’s room beforehand, and ration any drink that one consumes during the movie. Ignoring this advice may make you experience “Die Grosse Blase” instead of “Die Grosse Stille.”

Consider guarding one’s eyes before the movie starts. In the theater in Dallas, the movie trailers that preceded “Die Grosse Stille” were not appropriate for our children to view. Consider waiting until the movie is about to start before taking a seat.

The movie consists of short pieces of film depicting activities that take place in the Charterhouse located in the French Alps. Some of the scenes show the change of seasons, from winter to spring and then back to winter again. My wife pointed out that this showed how the seasons (or time) proceed, while the way of the monastic life remains changeless. Even the short vignettes have a kind of symmetry, where the movie begins and ends with scenes of the monks praying alone and together.

The movie is punctuated by the ringing of bells. Bells calling the monks to pray in unison in the chapel or alone in their cells. Wherever the monks are, they heed the call of the bell and pause for a few moments prayer. This is most touching in one scene where a monk is in the forest bowing in prayer before continuing his work in a small creek. The message I got was that prayer must be incorporated into all my daily work.

Rather than describing the movie (and giving away the surprise ending) I will discuss some of the notes I made of thoughts I had during the movie.

I was reminded of Switzerland, 1972, when I was just a Noisykid myself, and we were living in Switzerland at the time. I had forgotten how the mountains looked, and how thick snow could pile up on a roof. I had forgotten the sound of cowbells ringing on mist-covered slopes.

Seeing postulants, or novices being welcomed into the community, where the monks would embrace the new member and then purposely raise them up from the kneeling position. Such a sign of welcome and support was reminiscent of my brother’s ordination to the priesthood.

Seeing the meals delivered to the monk’s cells made me wish to be in a place where I could be taken care of completely. This thought was followed immediately by the realization that God does take care of me. I have never watched a movie which created such a feeling of being loved by God. I almost started crying – crying over lunch being delivered!

Touching on the subject of food, we all were impressed by the amount of food the monks seemed to get. Granted, if we were seeing the whole day’s ration it wasn’t that much. But if they get what appeared to be a large coffee can full of soup for every meal, they must be eating really well. We thought this until Fr. X noted that they probably need the calories for generating heat.

The only dialogue (not chanting or prayers) is in French, with subtitles. I remembered the saying that France is the ‘oldest daughter’ of the Church. Close-ups of the monk’s faces showed men filled with joy – especially the older monks. The close-ups also revealed these men to be fallible humans like me – some had glasses, bushy eyebrows; one even had a pacemaker or an AICD (Automated Implanted Cardioverter-Defibrillator) under the skin of his chest. A scene of the monks on their weekly exercise together, where they were sliding down a snowy hill, had to be the funniest scene in the movie. It also showed that even those who have forsaken the world for Our Lord still have a sense of humor.

The whole movie is a window into a world which I was always aware of but had never taken the time to examine. Granted, there are nuns and monks throughout the world who are remembering the intentions of the dadwithnoisykids family, but I realize now just how much I have taken their prayers for granted. Into Great Silence made me realize just what this other part of the Mystical Body of Christ looks like – what a tremendous gift we have by having men and women living the consecrated life, spending all their days in prayer and penance for those of us who live in the world. So when I look outside and see the Noisykids playing in the back yard, when I find myself falling asleep every time we pray, when the gloriously mundane life I lead seems to be summarized by nothing but failure, I can remember that somewhere there are monks and nuns who are awake, praying for the likes of me and my family. This thought gives me great consolation.

I recommend this movie without reservation. I took my children down to 9 years old to see it. This is also the first movie I have seen in a theater since 1999.

The '4K' is ready to cultivate some land!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Review is Coming

After I get this disturbing video out of my head, and put the kids to bed, I shall publish some thoughts on Into Great Silence. But first, this:

What more proof do you need of the need for silence in the world?

UPDATE: After posting this, I discovered the person who sent it to me saw it at Amy Welborn's site.

This is the parmesan cheese we buy at Costco.

Friday, April 13, 2007

From my CPA

A couple of years ago my accountant sent me this. I prefer to write my own material, and not just make blog entries that are links to somewhere else, but there are exceptions to every rule. This is one of them.

I must add that besides sending me articles like this, my accountant has saved me on my tax returns.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Possible Movie Review: Into Great Silence

We shall attempt to go see this movie tonight. If we go, I shall add my two cents to other comments about the movie.
Here is a trailer(Julie Andrews-free):

Our Lady of the Mysterious Decapitation

Our Lady of the Mysterious Decapitation
Now restored with the help of some cement!

Prayer to Our Lady of the Mysterious Decapitation

Mary my mother, take my hand today, and all days.
Lead me away from all occasions of sin.
Guide me in fulfilling your last words in the Gospel,
"Do whatever He tells you."

I am An Amateur Catholic Blogger!

Amateur Catholic B-Team Member