I invite you to sign The Manhattan Declaration

The Manhattan Declaration

Theodore's Memorial Video

Friday, December 31, 2010

Feast of St. Silvester

Happy Feast of St. Silvester! Here is Pope St. Silvester visiting with Emperor Constantine:
When I was child, living in Switzerland, St. Silvester was honored in a strange way shortly before Christmas. A few days before Christmas, all the school children would get up in the middle of the night and disturb the folks trying to sleep in the neighborhood. The children would bang pots and pans, play drums and other musical instruments, and yell and scream to wake people up. After being woken up, the homeowners would welcome the juvenile delinquents in for a snack and a hot drink. This went on until dawn, when the students would assemble at school to sing carols and have a party.

But this wasn't the strange part of this tradition.

The thing which made this tradition really odd was that the children would smoke and drink alcoholic beverages while engaging in this activity. And their parents knew and permitted it! When we told our parents about this planned celebration, we were given permission to attend only if we did not indulge in either smoking or drinking.

It turned out to be very fun, and we did not feel out of place being the only sober and smoke-free children present. This is one of those memories which will stay with me forever, even though I doubt my children will ever believe this in one of the few true stories I have ever told them.


Happy New Year!

Out with the old, in with the new. A new journal stands ready to take over for the worn and distressed 2010 journal:

This year, one of the things we hope for is to welcome more Donahues into the family - particularly those generated by Carolyn and I - we are not ready for any of our babies to be married! We pray that all of your hopes and dreams - God willing - will come true.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Feast of the Holy Innocents

Today is the Feast of the Holy Innocents. We named the first child we miscarried (back in 1999) after the Holy Innocents. Anastasia Innocent would have been ten years old this year.

In this painting, Triumph of the Innocents, by William Holman Hunt, one can see the Blessed Mother carrying Baby Jesus while the Innocents appear walking alongside them. Some are still bearing the scars of their martyrdom; the child in the foreground center is inspecting his torn clothing as he walks along.

Nowadays, innocent lives are snuffed out through abortion rather than through the edict of a savage ruler. Please remember to pray for the end to abortion today.

There are other souls lost in the sin of abortion: the mother and father of these unborn children, the doctors who perform abortions, nurses, and all the other medical support personnel who participate in this great evil. Those people also need our prayers for a change of heart. It brings to my mind another painting by William Holman Hunt: The Awakening Conscience. The painting was mentioned in Evelyn Waugh's book Brideshead Revisited, when Julia Marchmain realizes she cannot enter into an illicit marriage with Charles Ryder. In the book as well as the painting, the characters experience a moment of conversion which hopefully will be permanent. Waugh's character Julia does change for the good; the fate of Hunt's woman in the painting is a matter of speculation.

All pictures courtesy of Wikipedia

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Guys Named Stephen....And the Women Who Love Them

It looks like a scene from the short story 'The Lottery.'

"St. Stephen was STONED, dude!"

- quote from a classmate of mine in high school, who was also named 'Steve'

Today is the Feast of St. Stephen, Deacon and first Martyr of the Church.

Let us consider St. Stephen. Let us consider his words upon being accused of blasphemy and being brought before the council. Let us read the seventh chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, complete with hyperlinks, lifted from the New Advent Website:

1 Then the high priest said: Are these things so?

Who said: You men, brethren and fathers, hear. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charan.

And said to him: Go forth out of your country and from your kindred: and come into the land which I shall show you.

Then he went out of the land of the Chaldeans and dwelt in Charan. And from thence, after his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein you now dwell.

And he gave him no inheritance in it: no, not the pace of a foot. But he promised to give it him in possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child.

And God said to him: That his seed should sojourn in a strange country, and that they should bring them under bondage and treat them evil four hundred years.

And the nation which they shall serve will I judge (said the Lord): and after these things they shall go out and shall serve me in this place.

And he gave him the covenant of circumcision. And so he begot Isaac and circumcised him the eighth day: and Isaac begot Jacob: and Jacob, the twelve patriarchs.

And the patriarchs, through envy, sold Joseph into Egypt. And God was with him,

and delivered him out of all his tribulations: and he gave him favour and wisdom in the sight of Pharao, the king of Egypt. And he appointed him governor over Egypt and over all his house.

Now there came a famine upon all Egypt and Chanaan, and great tribulation: and our fathers found no food.

But when Jacob had heard that there was corn in Egypt, he sent our fathers first.

And at the second time, Joseph was known by his brethren: and his kindred was made known to Pharao.

And Joseph sending, called thither Jacob, his father, and all his kindred, seventy-five souls.

So Jacob went down into Egypt. And he died, and our fathers.

And they were translated into Sichem and were laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Hemor, the son of Sichem.

17And when the time of the promise drew near, which God had promised to Abraham, the people increased and were multiplied in Egypt.

Till another king arose in Egypt, who knew not Joseph.

19 This same, dealing craftily with our race, afflicted our fathers, that they should expose their children, to the end they might not be kept alive.

20 At the same time was Moses born: and he was acceptable to God. Who was nourished three months in his father's house.

21 And when he was exposed, Pharao's daughter took him up and nourished him for her own son.

22 And Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians: and he was mighty in his words and in his deeds.

23 And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren, the children of Israel.

24 And when he had seen one of them suffer wrong, he defended him: and striking the Egyptian, he avenged him who suffered the injury.

25 And he thought that his brethren understood that God by his hand would save them. But they understood it not.

26 And the day following, he showed himself to them when they were at strife and would have reconciled them in peace, saying: Men, you are brethren. Why hurt you one another?

But he that did the injury to his neighbour thrust him away, saying: Who has appointed you prince and judge over us:

28 What! Will you kill me, as you yesterday killed the Egyptian?

29 And Moses fled upon this word: and was a stranger in the land of Madian, where he begot two sons.

30 And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him, in the desert of mount Sina, an angel in a flame of fire in a bush.

31 And Moses seeing it wondered at the sight. And as he drew near to view it, the voice of the Lord came unto him, saying:

32 I am the God of your fathers: the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. And Moses being terrified dared not behold.

33 And the Lord said to him: Loose the shoes from your feet: for the place wherein you stand is holy ground.

34 Seeing, I have seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt: and I have heard their groaning and have come down to deliver them. And now come: and I will send you into Egypt.

This Moses, whom they refused, saying: Who has appointed you prince and judge? Him God sent to be prince and redeemer, by the hand of the angel who appeared to him in the burning bush.

36 He brought them out, doing wonders and signs in the land of Egypt and in the Red Sea and in the desert, forty years.

37 This is that Moses who said to the children of Israel: A prophet shall God raise up to you of your own brethren, as myself. Him shall you hear.

38 This is he that was in the church in the wilderness, with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sina and with our fathers. Who received the words of life to give unto us.

Whom our fathers would not obey: but thrust him away and in their hearts turned back into Egypt,

40 saying to Aaron: Make us gods to go before us. For as for this Moses, who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we know not what has become of him.

And they made a calf in those days and offered sacrifices to the idol and rejoiced in the works of their own hands.

And God turned and gave them up to serve the host of heaven, as it is written in the books of the prophets: Did you offer victims and sacrifices to me for forty years, in the desert, O house of Israel?

And you took unto you the tabernacle of Moloch and the star of your god Rempham, figures which you made to adore them. And I will carry you away beyond Babylon.

44 The tabernacle of the testimony was with our fathers in the desert, as God ordained for them, speaking to Moses, that he should make it according to the form which he had seen.

Which also our fathers receiving, brought in with Jesus, into the possession of the Gentiles: whom God drove out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David,

46 who found grace before God and desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob.

But Solomon built him a house,

yet the most High dwells not in houses made by hands, as the prophet says:

49 Heaven is my throne and the earth my footstool. What house will you build me (says the Lord)? Or what is the place of my resting?

Has not my hand made all these things?

51 You stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Ghost. As your fathers did, so do you also.

52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? And they have slain them who foretold of the coming of the Just One: of whom you have been now the betrayers and murderers.

53 Who have received the law by the disposition of angels and have not kept it.

54 Now hearing these things, they were cut to the heart: and they gnashed with their teeth at him.

55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looking up steadfastly to heaven, saw the glory of God and Jesus standing on the right hand of God.

56 And he said: Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.

57 And they, crying out with a loud voice, stopped their ears and with one accord ran violently upon him.

58 And casting him forth without the city, they stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man, whose name was Saul.

59 And they stoned Stephen, invoking and saying: Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.

60 And falling on his knees, he cried with a loud voice, saying: Lord, lay not this sin to their charge: And when he had said this, he fell asleep in the Lord. And Saul was consenting to his death.

This is typical Stephen behavior. When given the opportunity, we like to give a long explanation to our listeners. Sometimes we are lecturing to a group who are already familiar with our material, but that doesn't matter. If only one person benefits from our speaking, then the effort was not in vain. If we annoy our listeners, we are not afraid to aggravate the situation further, as seen in verse 56 above. It is good to make one's position clear in a debate or discussion.

As for the women who love guys named Stephen, there is very little I can say here. It takes a special woman to love a guy named Stephen. Any woman who takes on this cross should do so after much prayer and thought.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Last Minute Christmas Gift Idea

For those of you who are still looking for that special gift which appears thoughtful but is really just an act of desperation, I offer this suggestion: the fountain pen.

I have been fond of fountain pens ever since I had to use them as a child in Switzerland. At that time, we used pens which had some sort of sponge in them. When we ran out of ink, we would have to ask permission from the teacher to refill the pen at the inkwell set into the top of his desk. I can't recall the words we would use to make this request, but in Swiss-German it sounded as if we were clearing our throats noisily. We would then remove the nib and dunk the sponge-like thing into the ink for a few seconds.

I recall one day I was chewing thoughtfully on my pen (I was in third grade at the time), when I had a funny taste in my mouth. It turns out the pen was cracked, and I had been sucking ink into my mouth. My entire mouth was black for a while after that. It tasted disgusting, and I was the source of great amusement for the class that day.

Fountain pens also tend to splatter ink and smudge ink on the paper, and get ink on places one couldn't imagine, but I still like them. In the book The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster, there is a character called 'The Senses Taker' who records the details of peoples' lives before taking their senses. He uses a fountain pen, and he looks like this:

That is what I look like after refilling my fountain pen. Illustration by Jules Feiffer.

During my intern year, at hospital in Detroit, I received a $25 gift card from the administration. It was for an upscale department store in Detroit. Rather than buying something for my wife, I searched for something which was less than $25 for a long time, and finally found the one thing in the whole store which I could get for free: a Cross fountain pen.

That was when I started using fountain pens again. Since then, I have expanded my collection, but I still have a Cross pen. I don't have the original pen I bought in 1991 because Cross Pen Company had(maybe still has) a lifetime guarantee for their pens. They will either fix or replace the pen if you send it to them. I have sent the pen in twice, and each time it was replaced by a new pen. On one occasion, they informed me that the pen I had was no longer in stock, so they sent along a suitable replacement.

Here are a few pictures of the pen I have now:

This pen has a medium nib which looks as if it were plated with gold and takes either cartridges or converter( a device which draws ink in from a bottle ). The cap does not screw on, but fits nicely. On occasion, I have had to encourage the ink to start flowing, especially if the pen has not been used for a day or two. I think that is why God gave me a tongue.

This pen looks great, feels great in my hand, and writes very well. The down side for me is that it sometimes needs to be kick started to get the ink to flow, and that I worry about losing the lid. It is not my favorite fountain pen, but it is my first. I shall write about my favorite some other time.

Here is where I buy pens online.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas Camel's Church Belly Flop Caught on Tape | NBC Miami

NBC Miami  
Powered by  
 * Please note, the sender's email address has not been verified.
Dangers of liturgical dance are more pronounced around the Advent/Christmas time.

  Click the following to access the sent link:
Christmas Camel's Church Belly Flop Caught on Tape | NBC Miami*
Get your EMAIL THIS Browser Button and use it to email content from any Web site. Click here for more information.
  *This article can also be accessed if you copy and paste the entire address below into your web browser.

Obama honors Nobel winner with statement about himself | Washington Examiner

Obama honors Nobel winner with statement about himself | Washington Examiner

Saturday, December 04, 2010

A Taste of Heaven

Feast of St. Nicholas Party

Today we had a party in honor of St. Nicholas at Mater Dei Catholic Church in Irving, TX. In addition to fun and games, there were crafts to do and football for the older boys. There was an opportunity to sell homemade crafts, and so the children worked to put together some items to sell. Here is the table set up:

One of Carolyn's sisters stopped by and rearranged the table so it looked more appealing; I forgot to take a picture of it. It really did look better after she moved all the stuff about.

Once again, we sold a few of our Christmas tree ornaments shaped like Texas. We used genuine barbed wire taken from our land, and then bent it around a form so it looks like the Lone Star State. We then added some felt and little doodads one can buy at a craft store.

One of the boys made cinnamon buns smothered in creamy icing. They were a big hit. I told the children to not worry if they did not sell, because I knew they would be great for Sunday breakfast.

Sugar coated pecans are another of our favorites. Our pecan trees are not producing yet, so we have to buy them at the store and then glaze them.

These are blueberry muffins made with blueberries picked at a farm in East Texas. They are delicious, but I think they may have had too much wrapping around them to see how good they look.

All the children pitched in to make little sleighs out of candy cane, chocolate bars, tape, and ribbon. I taped one on top of the toy cash register which worked just fine as a real place to hold our cash.

In the afternoon, there were train rides for the little children. Here is Bernard, getting ready to take a trip:

...and here he is, returning from a trip:

Random Christmas Thought:

I wonder if one day the song 'Christmas Wrapping' by the Waitresses will one day be thought of in the same light as Bing Crosby's 'White Christmas.'

A Christmas-Type Story

I had to detain the little children in my bedroom/office while things were going on in another part of the house. While they were all sitting around, complaining to me, I put on the 'Christmas' songs on my computer's iTunes. To mix things up a bit, I had the settings on 'Random.' A long and beautiful Gregorian chant segued into Alvin and the Chipmunks singing 'Christmas Don't Be Late.'

I took this opportunity to relate to the children the amazing story behind the man who 'discovered' the Chipmunks. It is a tribute to the patience and endurance of one man, and the triumph which comes from sticking with what you know is right. In case you do not know his story, I shall tell it to you. Perhaps it will one day become a Christmas Classic.

A long time ago, a man decided to train some chipmunks. He started by locating a large population of chipmunks in a park in a large metropolitan area. He rented an office nearby, and invested in a huge supply of circus peanuts. The next day, he surveyed the park, looking for the best locations for observing these rambunctious little creatures.

He wanted to become the Jane Goodall of chipmunks.

The first day, he set out with a bag of peanuts and a half liter bottle of Diet Coke. He spent the day pitching circus peanuts at any chipmunk which trotted in front of him. He even ate some of the peanuts himself. None of the chipmunks touched the nuts. The rest of the first week was the same, except that occasionally he would drink Diet Dr. Pepper instead of Diet Coke. None of the chipmunks would touch the peanuts. He was beginning to wonder if he should have invested in some other types of nut when it occurred to him that all of the nuts from the previous day had been cleared away. It gave him hope, and courage to persevere in the face of overwhelming odds. He would succeed!

After a few months consisting of small successes, devestating setbacks, and a nasty letter from his credit card company, he had a breakthrough. On that day, a solitary chipmunk came out from behind a tree and fled with one of the macadamia nuts he was trying out that day. The next day, the chipmunk loitered a few moments before running up the nearest tree. After two months, the chipmunk had progressed to the point where it stood still, watching him, before running away. "I've got him," the man said.

After about six months, he got the chipmunks to the point where they would follow him anywhere. At this point, he switched gears and started to teach the chipmunks to talk. The patience he demonstrated while tutoring these little woodland creatures was truly inspirational, but it was nothing compared to the accomplishment of teaching the chipmunks to sing. Here he outdid himself, as he discovered that chipmunks have a natural ear for rhythm and melody.

After several years, and lots of generations of chipmunks, he had a chorus of animals which could rival any human choir. More importantly, he had a trio of chipmunks who could harmonize better than any other singing group other than ABBA. This trio consisted of the brother chipmunks Alvin, Simon, and Theodore.

I would have told my children more about the discovery of the Chipmunks, but they were allowed to roam the house at will again, and most of them left. Perhaps some other day.....

About that taste of Heaven:

Imagine talking to your wife while shopping at Costco on a Friday afternoon. You have some of the children with you, and y'all are doing the biweekly Costco run to restock the pantry and freezer. The list is almost done, and the toddler has just started to spin in place in his strapped-in seat in the cart. You hang up with the Missus and let the toddler down to stretch his legs. He immediately takes off, and you order one of his brothers to tail him but not bring him down. He needs to burn off some energy.

As you straighten up, you are aware that your back is sore.

Just then, you see her. About one hundred feet away, making her way through the tables covered with discount winter fashion deals, is the most beautiful woman in the world. For you, she has the face and smile which brightens your day whenever you see her. Her big brown eyes connect with yours even at that distance, and even with your poor vision you can see that her smile has broadened upon seeing you. You are smiling as well, and all you want is to be next to her. This is the woman who has made Heaven on earth for you for the last twenty-one-plus years.

And to think that you just hung up the phone with her....

Here Bernard gets his teeth brushed:

St. Nicholas Feast Day Crafts

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