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Thursday, June 30, 2011

22nd Anniversary Celebration

Here we are, another year in love with each other, and rather than making a new video I shall just re-publish the 21st Anniversary video. I wish we had another new face to introduce this year, but that was not God's will. We are still praying for more children while we care for the ones we have been given by Him.

Here is the link for the video for all of you reading this on facebook.

Here is the link to the Anniversary photograph collection. Watch as the number of children - and their sizes - grow with every year.

I thank God for the blessing of my wife Carolyn, and I pray every day that I can be a better husband for her. She is the greatest gift on Earth to me.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Riding Shotgun IV

This week I pray for the repose of the soul of Fr. James Downey, O.S.B., who died January 29, 2008.

I met Fr. Downey while living in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I was a resident and fellow at the time, and I met this good priest through one of Carolyn's sisters. He would call me occasionally to ask for some medical advice; after a while he started to refer to me as his doctor.

I recall on Ash Wednesday, 1996, attending a private Mass and distribution of ashes at Fr. Downey's residence at 5 a.m. I was on call that day, and did not expect to get to Mass because of the full schedule we had that day. It was beautiful to be there in the presence of Our Lord as well as such a good and holy priest.

After we moved to Texas we did not see him very much. Carolyn visited him while he was staying at St. John Cantius in Chicago. While she was happy to see him, she was also struck with how much he had aged in just a few years. Shortly afterwards, Fr. Downey returned to the Benedictine Abbey in Atchison, Kansas for the last years of his life.

We found out about his death on a weekday in late January, 2008. I recall going to work the next day, and thinking about how I had never found time to go and see Father one more time. As the day went on, I started thinking that Atchison was not that far from Dallas, and that we could leave after work on Friday to be there for the funeral on Saturday. When I called Carolyn to tell her about my thoughts about taking a road trip, I found that she was already planning it. I hadn't told her about my plans, and yet she knew what was in my heart.

We drove to Kansas on Friday night, and got up to go to the funeral on Saturday afternoon. The monastery - St. Benedict's Abbey - was located on the campus of Benedictine College. It was a beautiful campus, and was experiencing unseasonably mild weather during that weekend, and we were very impressed with the college and area. It appears that Benedictine College is one of several American schools which are striving to become centers of orthodoxy and obedience to the teachings of the Catholic Church. That was refreshing to see.

I dropped off the family at the entrance to the abbey and then went to park the van. I was a few minutes late getting into the church, and so I missed seeing my old friend one more time. They had just closed the casket as I walked in.

After Mass, we went to a luncheon reception held in the refectory, or dining room, of the monastery. We got to meet some of Fr. Downey's fellow monks, and some alumni from the school. All of them, once they realized how many children we had, encouraged us to consider Benedictine College when our children were ready for a higher education.

I wrote about Fr. Downey back then in this post. Little did I know that in two month's time we would be having a funeral for one of our own. Lately, St. Benedict seems to have become more important to our family, especially with the blessings that have come to us from such places as the Abbey in Cullman, Alabama, the Abbey in Atchison, Kansas, and now the Abbey in Clear Creek near Hulbert, Oklahoma. All of these places, and the monks who live there, have been a source of strength and consolation to our whole family.

I am glad that one of our sons is named after such a holy saint, Saint Benedict.

Fr. James Downey, O.S.B., Monk of St. Benedict's Abbey

Eternal rest grant unto him, Oh Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him.

And may his soul and all the souls of the faithful departed, rest in peace.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Most Catholic of Firearms

What is the most Catholic of all firearms?

One would assume an Italian rifle or shotgun would take this prize. Perhaps something which was given to Pope Benedict XVI, or one of his predecessors, is right now gathering dust in the corner of a storage room where gifts are placed until they can be put on display somewhere in the Vatican.

Think about it: every gift received by any head of state must be kept in some sort of place of honor, because they cannot be cast aside without offending the giver. Unless, of course, one is the current president of our fair country, and decided that a bust of Winston Churchill given to President 'W' Bush after 9/11 could be returned to the British. Hopefully, President Obama kept the pen and box made from the hull of a British Navy ship which combated slavery.

I would argue that the award for the most Catholic firearm would not go to any Italian firearm; nor would I give that distinction to the M1 Garand, the World War II rifle designed by John Cantius Garand. That is a statue of St. John Cantius above, and the M1 Garand rifle below:

No, I think the award for the most Catholic of Firearms belongs to a Soviet rifle which has many names but is generally referred to as the Mosin Nagant rifle. Back in February, I wrote a little essay about something I picked up at a local gun store. It was a Mosin Nagant 91/30, built in 1942, and was only about $120. Over the past few months, I have been slowly reading up on this weapon, taking it apart, cleaning it, and putting it back together again. I found the experience fascinating, as the history behind this rifle is almost as interesting as its function as a weapon.

Here is the Mosin Nagant when I first took a picture of it:

Now look what has happened. Where once there was one, now there are three! They are almost as prodigious as Tribbles, and that is why they are considered by me to be the Most Catholic of Firearms:

The original Mosin Nagant is at the top of the picture. Another 91/30 is at the bottom; in between is an M44, which is a carbine version of the Mosin Nagant rifle and comes with an attached bayonet. I am still in the process of cleaning up those other two rifles, and thought that I would let them sit out in the sun to loosen up some of the lubricant encasing them. Today is another day with strong winds out of the South, and temperatures above 100, and it did not take long before I had my hands full wiping off the 'cosmoline' lubricant.

I think cosmoline is the Russian version of Vaseline, only darker. Perhaps Vaseline gets dark after a couple of decades.

Along with the rifles, I pulled out the cartridge holders, oil and solvent cans, and the cleaning and tool kit which came with the 91/30's. They were also encased in cosmoline, and I thought I would remove the cosmoline using the North Texas heat rather than the household oven like this man did:

Ew. Instead I put the tool and cleaning instruments as well as the oil/solvent cans out in the back yard. I love my wife and children too much to do this kind of stuff inside. All that brown stuff is the cosmoline:

Note that the two cans are shaped differently. There are collectors who know all about anything that is associated with the Mosin Nagant, and they could tell me where the can originated and how it was designed. I am not that interested in that, though.

The only tool needed to service the Mosin Nagant is this little piece of metal. It has a screwdriver blade on one end, and the oval shaped hole is to help placement or removal of the bayonet. The most important thing on this tool are the series of cuts made into the side of it. Those cuts are used to verify the distance which the firing pin extends out of the bolt. If it does not come out enough, the pin won't contact the primer. If it extends too far, hot gases may spray back at the user when the firing pin penetrates the primer cover. So this is a vital tool to keep the rifle functioning.

I hope that my next blog entry on firearms will be me shooting one - or all - of these rifles.

Psychologist Dr. Ray Guarendi, who along with his wife adopted 10 children, likes to talk about the 'unplanned adoption' they had, when they ended up with one more child than they expected. Well, since we are doing the Dave Ramsey Total Money Makeover, there is no room for impulsive buying at gun shows - at least not without consulting with Carolyn. So while I would consider the Mosin Nagant to be gifted with the ability to reproduce quickly, I don't expect to see any more new additions to the family gun collection.

We would rather see other, more human, additions to our family:

Saturday, June 18, 2011

My Brother's Father's House

The Finding of the Saviour in the Temple, by William Holman Hunt

Happy Father's Day!

This post is not about Father's Day.

It is about a church.

It is about the church where my older brother is Pastor.

By the way, the opinions expressed in this blog are mine alone, and do not reflect those of anyone known to me.

I cannot read minds, either.

I would have to say that in the process of being reassigned from one parish to another, my brother has left one of the most beautiful churches in the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia for one of the less attractive ones. Fortunately, both churches are full of good people, good parishioners who are devoted to Our Lord and His Church. The physical plant, thankfully does not always reflect the piety of the occupants.

It is ironic that I should visit his church so soon after reviewing a book about churches in the Diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania. In my review of Framing Faith: A Pictorial History of Communities of Faith, I discussed how most of the churches were modified during the late 1960's or early 1970's, and how those changes seemed to relegate God - in particular, the Tabernacle - to the sideline of attention and honor in each church. I speculated that - perhaps - there may be some association between replacing Man for God as the center of the altar and the subsequent decline and closing of the parishes featured in that book. I know there are a lot of other factors which could explain the closing of churches, but I can't help thinking that there may be something to this little pet peeve of mine.

My review of Framing Faith can be read here. My favorite bizarre picture from the book is featured below. It shows the center of the altar of one of the churches. I added the comments to my copy of the picture:

Can you say wreckovation?

Where to start....in Framing Faith, the architecture of a church is compared with the journey of the faithful from birth to Heaven, starting with the baptismal font in the back of church, leading up the center aisle to the altar, then to the Tabernacle, which represents Heaven on Earth. Rather than following their lead, I shall begin at the altar.

As always, I am using that 21st century version of the box camera: my iPhone. Perhaps next time I shall break out my beloved Pentax K-1000. Here is a shot from the back of the church:

Did I mention that the church used to be a gymnasium? It does not matter much, because one has to work with what one has. I would not want to convert a gym into a church, but if that is what it would take to provide for the parish, that is what I would do. Anyways, the pews are actually individual chairs which are bolted together, and each one has its own little kneeler. In the distance, one can see the altar. The Tabernacle is off to the side, behind the lectern on the right hand side of the altar. Here is a closer shot of the altar.

Note the candle by the Tabernacle on the side of the altar. Also note the centralized seating for the priest and altar servers, including a microphone for the celebrant. The marble edifice behind the priest's seat actually has a gap in it where a crucifix could be placed. In addition, there is a shelf of sorts where the Tabernacle could be positioned in the center of the altar. All one would have to do is remove the seats and voila! - Our Lord is back to the place of greatest honor in church.

Of course, one is distracted from looking at the altar when confronted with this construction upon entering the sanctuary:

Yes. It is a baptismal pool. I showed this picture to a friend, who initially thought it was a stairway to a crypt chapel. Perhaps it is - one which can only be accessed with scuba gear.

My brother dryly observed that what looks like a good idea in the theoretical sense often proves to be difficult to achieve in practical terms. I thought about this baptismal pool after he said that; but my first thought was of something from my youthful days in college.

At that time, I was dating a Baptist girl(I think), and she mentioned the exhilaration of being baptized by immersion at some point in the past. Since she did not mention how old she was at the time of her baptism, I thought I would go ahead and ask her. Of course, I did not couch my words in a way which would encourage ecumenism - or mixed marriages, for that matter:

"So, how old were you when you got dunked?"

End of date. It was all for the good, as I am blessed with Carolyn beyond any measure.

Outside, on the parish grounds, there was a beautiful statue of Our Lady:

Now, compare and contrast the church of Mater Dei in Irving, Texas. This was originally a Korean church of some sorts, even including what looked like a dunk tank of all things off the side of the altar. After renovating it, this is what it looks like. Perhaps one day all of our churches will be brought back to putting Our Lord front and center.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Riding Shotgun III

Once again, my intention to pray for the repose of the soul of a deceased priest were diverted to praying for a priest who was ordained in 2003.

Fr. Thomas Longua, FSSP, stationed at Mater Dei Catholic Church in Irving, TX recently celebrated his 8th anniversary of his ordination. He announced this at Mass yesterday, and also mentioned that there were some holy cards from the ordination in the back of church. He asked us to take one, and to pray for him.

Since I spent a bit of time in the back of church, I figured I would grab one of what I expected would be a small pile of cards. Nope. There were several huge stacks of them, so I took two.

Please pray and make sacrifices this week for Fr. Longua and all priests as they work to serve God in the trenches.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Te Deum for Pentecost

Please join us in praying the Te Deum today on Pentecost. It is fitting that such praise should be given on the day that the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles and the Blessed Mother.

The last time I urged you to pray this was when we were finishing a novena asking for our unborn child to live to receive the waters of baptism. We were praising God for the answer to our prayers, even though the answer was not what we desired.

But today is a day to REJOICE and be thankful. So crank up the volume on your computer, play the YouTube video, and chant along with the monks at Solesmes!

Te Deum laudamus: te Dominum confitemur.
Te aeternum Patrem omnis terra veneratur.
Tibi omnes Angeli; tibi caeli et universae Potestates;
Tibi Cherubim et Seraphim incessabili voce proclamant:
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth.
Pleni sunt caeli et terra maiestatis gloriae tuae.
Te gloriosus Apostolorum chorus,
Te Prophetarum laudabilis numerus,
Te Martyrum candidatus laudat exercitus.
Te per orbem terrarum sancta confitetur Ecclesia,
Patrem immensae maiestatis:
Venerandum tuum verum et unicum Filium;
Sanctum quoque Paraclitum Spiritum.
Tu Rex gloriae, Christe.
Tu Patris sempiternus es Filius.
Tu ad liberandum suscepturus hominem, non horruisti Virginis uterum.
Tu, devicto mortis aculeo, aperuisti credentibus regna caelorum.
Tu ad dexteram Dei sedes, in gloria Patris.
Iudex crederis esse venturus.
Te ergo quaesumus, tuis famulis subveni:
quos pretioso sanguine redemisti.

Aeterna fac cum sanctis tuis in gloria numerari.

V. Salvum fac populum tuum, Domine, et benedic hereditati tuae.
R. Et rege eos, et extolle illos usque in aeternum.

V. Per singulos dies benedicimus te.
R. Et laudamus nomen tuum in saeculum, et in saeculum saeculi.

V. Dignare, Domine, die isto sine peccato nos custodire.
R. Miserere nostri, Domine, miserere nostri.

V. Fiat misericordia tua, Domine, super nos, quemadmodum speravimus in te.
R. In te, Domine, speravi: non confundar in aeternum.

Here is the translation for those of us who do not speak the Latin:

O God, we praise Thee, and acknowledge Thee to be the supreme Lord. Everlasting Father, all the earth worships Thee.
All the Angels, the heavens and all angelic powers,
All the Cherubim and Seraphim, continuously cry to Thee:
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts!
Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty of Thy glory.
The glorious choir of the Apostles,

The wonderful company of Prophets,
The white-robed army of Martyrs, praise Thee.
Holy Church throughout the world acknowledges Thee:
The Father of infinite Majesty;
Thy adorable, true and only Son;
Also the Holy Spirit, the Comforter.
O Christ, Thou art the King of glory!
Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.
When Thou tookest it upon Thyself to deliver man,

Thou didst not disdain the Virgin's womb.
Having overcome the sting of death,
Thou opened the Kingdom of Heaven to all
Thou sitest at the right hand of God in the glory of the Father.
We believe that Thou willst come to be our Judge.
We, therefore, beg Thee to help Thy servants
whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy
Precious Blood.
Let them be numbered with Thy Saints in everlasting glory.

V. Save Thy people, O Lord, and bless Thy inheritance!

R. Govern them, and raise them up forever.

V. Every day we thank Thee.

R. And we praise Thy Name forever, yes, forever and ever.

V. O Lord, deign to keep us from sin this day.

R. Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us.

V. Let Thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, for we have hoped in Thee.

R. O Lord, in Thee I have put my trust; let me never be put to shame.

Hat tip to EWTN

Monday, June 06, 2011

Riding Shotgun II

For this week's intention on my commute, I had planned to continue praying for the Faithful Departed, but God had other plans.

I was looking for a book on Saturday evening, and in the process of searching our bookshelves in the living room, I came across two holy cards from the same priest. As I looked for one book, I started rearranging some of the other books, and first one card fell out from between two encyclicals. When put that book back in its correct place, there was another holy card from the same priest. Both holy cards were commemorating the ordination of Fr. John Phillip Rickert, FSSP. He was ordained in May, 2010.

This is the design on the front of one of the cards:
The other card had a picture of St. Padre Pio on it. Please remember Fr. Rickert in your prayers this week.

For those who cannot recognize them, those are .410 shotgun shells.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

2011: A Year of Anniversaries

22 years ago, on June 5th, 1989, this man in China stepped in front of a column of tanks which were rolling through Tiananmen Square the day after the Chinese government cracked down on protesters. This took a lot of guts to do. Chances are we shall never have to face down a tank in public, but every day we have to fight against the temptation to live our Faith in what is becoming increasingly a pagan world.

Pagan is too nice a word for it; savage might be better. That is the word I used to describe the person or persons who keyed my car last night as it sat on a dark street in one of the more affluent suburbs of North Dallas.

I wasn't thinking of any of these things when I got an e-mail from Wikipedia which reminded me of this incident. Instead, two thoughts came to mind: one is that in the movie Until the End of the World, there is a collection of statues in Tiananmen Square commemorating this incident - even though in real life few Chinese know about the picture, thanks to censorship. The other thought was that there are a plethora of anniversaries which occur during 2011.

I just thought you would want to know, that:

1911: John M. Browning developed the handgun which was the main sidearm for the U.S. military forces until about 1985. It is commonly called the '1911,' and fires the .45 ACP cartridge. At the time, the U.S. Army was looking for a 'self-loading' pistol which used a caliber bullet that had adequate 'stopping power' against the enemy. At the time, our soldiers were fighting guerrillas in the Phillippines who were highly motivated and often hopped on drugs to tolerate a lot of pain in battle, and the .38 caliber, or 9 mm bullets were not as effective as the Long Colt .45 bullets.

Speaking of guerrillas, I recall that as a child, listening to reports of the Vietnam war on the radio, I sincerely believed that we were fighting against an army of gorillas, not people, over there. Of course, I also worried about Fred Flintstone staying on the front porch all night, and George Jetson being crushed by that treadmill, too.

I am hoping, that if I am a good boy, say my prayers, and be a good husband and father to my children, that I might find an M1911 under the Christmas tree this December. I think it would be fitting to get an '11 during '11, don't you?

1964: I was born. I am now 47. People say Carolyn and I look a lot younger than our stated ages. I say it is because Carolyn is beautiful and I am just plain immature.

1976: 35 years ago, on July 4, 1976, we celebrated the Bicentennial of our Country. For those who are confused, that was the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. I was at Wright's Lake Camp, a Boy Scout camp somewhere in Michigan on that day, and we had a very solemn celebration of that momentous occasion.

1986: I completed my undergraduate education with a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry from Eastern Michigan University. My degree was 'of Arts' because I tried to do as much literature, history and other applied pseudosciences as possible in order to have something interesting to say at parties. I was astonished when I saw the B.A. on my diploma. I got it in the mail, because I chose not to attend my graduation. I spent that morning volunteering at the hospital, because that-is-what-one-has-to-do-in-order-to-get-into-medical-school.

I still am rather dull at parties despite the B.A.

1987: I am commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force Medical Service Corps, and receive a Health Professions Scholarship for medical school. No one issues me an M1911.

1989: One adventurous young woman named Carolyn says 'I do,' and thus begin the happiest years of my life. We become itinerant student/doctor types, leaving behind a series of dead lawns as we made our way from Ann Arbor, to Detroit, back to Ann Arbor, then San Antonio, then Dallas, and finally, Fort Worth, Texas. Along the way, we increased the population of Irish in the world, and continue to strive to bring forth more of what Rudyard Kipling called that

"profoundly lovable race that fight like fiends, argue like children, reason like women, obey like men, and jest like their own goblins of the wrath through rebellion, loyalty, want, woe, or war."

1991: Wearing a rented gown, and sweating profusely, I received my medical degree in a sweltering, non air-conditioned auditorium in Michigan. In the balcony above, where it is hotter, Carolyn cheers for me and pats her six month pregnant belly. I can't tell you what day I graduated from medical school, because it took me a month to determine that in order to get a medical license in Texas. I figure it was kept such a secret that even I didn't know, and so you should be kept ignorant as well.

On July 1, 1991, our second anniversary, the first day of my internship, I discover at 5 p.m. that I am on call. So much for a dinner date with Carolyn. I am informed of my call when I am handed a pager which starts beeping - and doesn't stop for the next 12 hours.

1996: I complete my post-graduate training in Anesthesiology, with a Fellowship in Pediatric Anesthesiology. At this point, the gypsies steal me away to the Air Force to serve my time commitment. I spend time in Alabama being re-educated about how to act like an Air Force Officer, and Carolyn gets ready to move herself and 6 children - including a 2 month old baby - down to San Antonio.

1996: Fifteen years living in Texas. I recall those early days, when I started something we called the 'Donahue Death March,' where I would come home from work and get everybody to go out for a walk in the late afternoon heat of San Antonio. I don't know what possessed me to do such a crazy thing. I guess it was one way to get us acclimated to the Texas heat.

1996: I pass my boards on the first try. Since I was certified before the year 2000, I did not need to recertify after ten years, but I did so anyways in 2009. With the way things are going, I figured it would be better to get it done now and deal with regulations in 2019 when I get to that point in time.

2000: On a hot July morning, I walked away from the Air Force. It was an amicable separation, with me getting out without any commitment, they got their airplanes back, and I could go and see them anytime I wanted. It doesn't seem like eleven years. Seriously, serving my country was an honor and truly a privilege, and I shall always look upon my time with the Air Force as a blessing to me and my family.

2006: This blog started as a way for me to comment on the Roman Sacristan's blog. I sort of backed into having a blog, and now it is five years old. I am blessed to have an opportunity to fill the blogosphere with my opinions, self-aggrandizing posts, and milestones in our life in Texas.

As for the Roman Sacristan, he is in a monastery in Italy, which is what he prayed for for so long. Please remember him in your prayers. God bless.

Bernard Antics

Take a good look at our iTouch. The picture is one of Bernard taken in San Antonio back in 2009 when he was just about 6 months old.

Note that the iPod is disabled.

Note that it is disabled for the next 21,768,474 minutes. That is what happens when Bernard just sits there trying to unlock the iTouch for a long, long time.

All in a day's work for my two year old son.

He also likes to take apart the children's kitchen set and climb into the space designated for the sink.

Not one to ignore the creature comforts, he likes to make sure he has a beverage to go along with it.

I recall some workers at McDonald's got fired for bathing in sinks in the kitchen - or maybe it was because they went the extra mile and videotaped said bathings and posted them on YouTube.

Heavenly Father, Lord of Life, send us more little ones to raise up to live with You forever in Heaven!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Riding Shotgun I

'Riding Shotgun' is the term we used to call for the front passenger seat of whatever car we were in. It was the best seat in any car - after the driver's seat, because it was usually a bucket seat, had the best view, was closest to the air conditioner vents, and allowed one to have control of the radio. It is the spot usually occupied by my wife.

On workdays, I ride alone, with just a stuffed hammerhead shark (Sphyrnia beaniebabius) as company. I thought I would change that by bringing along a holy card which I could change out every week or so.

This week, while driving to and from work, I offer my prayers for the repose of the soul of the father of a friend of mine. Here is the holy card which we got at his funeral, and which has been sitting in my car for about a month now. Every day, when I touch it to pick up my Rosary, or to put my cell phone down on the console, I say a little prayer for him:

I might as well add his soul to the other intentions I have while commuting.

Frank M. Pinedo served in WWII, became a lawyer, was a past president of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), and father of three sons. I am blessed to be a good friend of one of his sons.

May his soul, and the souls of all the Faithful Departed, rest in peace.

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