Postage for Pakistan and other parts of the planet

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Your single, it's Lent ... what to do?

I spoke with a friend yesterday, and she got to telling me about this new book for Catholic singles, and how it's really affecting and powerful. Based solely on her recommendation, I'm going to get a copy, a) because I trust her that much, but b) because it sounds really intriguing, even though I haven't been single for 15 years.

Published by, a Catholic online dating service, The Catholic Playbook: Lenten Reflections for Singles features 40 daily meditations for Lent written by the website’s members. In their stories, these singles reportedly examine the occasionally humorous frustrations and even rewards of unmarried life as refracted through the prism of this penitential season. Evidently, while it's often challenging and even sobering, each unique story ultimately has the same theme, which is hope.

I think the book's worth supporting because there is just this amazing dearth of great books for single Catholics. We want and need this book to be successful. Now, granted, there are some very good reasons that parish and dioceses almost exclusively focus their pastoral resources toward families and their formation.

That said, the United States has 27 million single Catholics. Isn't it about time someone got on the ball and got something for these folks to use? Huzzah,, huzzah, indeed (FYI: Huzzah's like "Hip-hip-hooray").

Another thing, with declining marriage rates, it's not like the number of Catholic singles is going to shrink, you know? So the Church needs fresh, effective resources to minister to this important and growing demographic. Growing demographic. Huh. It's a tragically underserved group.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A look at the Hermit Kingdom and the death of Kim Jong Il

Here is the first in the series of articles Catholic World Report is running on North Korea. CWR is an utterly fab magazine, and it's worth checking out their many great articles. But read the one on North Korea first. It's really interesting.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

O Lord, I worry so!

A lady who I consider dear and have known since we were both in 7th grade asked yesterday, “How do I stop worrying?”

It got me to thinking, and because all the world, of course, is just pining, practically dying  to know the thoughts of lil’ ol’ moi, here’s what I came up with:

The amount of we worry is directly commensurate/proportionate (however you want to put it) to our adherence to God’s will.

That is the more we adhere our minds to the idea that anything that happens to us is either part of His active will—i.e., He means for us to experience this—or His passive will—i.e, He doesn’t necessarily want us to happen to us but will allow it for some greater good—and that “He has us in His loving hands regardless, so take heart,” then the less we will worry.

Another way of putting it is this: The more we think the prayer says, “Thy kingdom come and my will be done,” the more we want control, to be in charge, to not “let go and let God,” the more we will worry.

Getting to a point where we don’t worry doesn’t happen without prayer, but it does happen, and it can make a world of difference.

Monday, February 20, 2012

“Just SHUT UP!!!, won't you?” No.

A lot of people in our culture today (e.g., those running the Obama Administration and those who put them there) want to us (i.e., Christian conservatives in general and Catholics in particular) to just “Shut UP!!!” They love Martin Luther King, Jr. (never mind that he was a Christian minister), so maybe they'll listen to him as to why we can never listen to them: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Thursday, February 16, 2012

That stupid tree!

On Facebook the other day, I posted this picture ...

An old high school chum commented on it, essentially asking:

"Why did God place the tree right there? If He's God, He should have known what they would do, so why not place it on some other continent?"

It's a good question, and one I imagine others asking. Here's my argument in response. If you can add, challenge, or detract from it, please, by all means. I'm eager to learn what people think.

Well, if you know God's reason for creating the earth and all that's in it, especially us, it's pretty simple. What do we give God? When you were married, you gave her certain things she didn't have and vice versa. I know that's the case with Karyn and me, and I'm sure with the Jacobys and the Malamocos, as well. But what do we give to God He didn't already have? Nothing.

So why did He create us? Out of love. To share in His happiness, His joy, peace, and love for ever, especially the love, out of which all the other things are born. Think of any time you were in love, especially at first. Wasn't it just so joyful? I know it was for me. I was walking on clouds.

But by its very definition, love requires sacrifice. For love of her baby, a woman will not only undergo tremendous pain in labor to deliver it, but during the pregnancy, if she's sick, she might even refuse necessary medical treatment if it would either harm or mean losing the child. Your mom, did she love changing your diapers or telling you or one of your siblings the same thing over and over again? No, but she did it because she loved you and wanted what was best for you. Your dad, did he love his job? Maybe, but most dads don't. Why did he do it? So he could provide for your mom and you three kids because that's what was best for you. Someone rushes into a burning building to save another human, whether they're related to them or not. That's love. A priest runs about a live battlefield to comfort and give Viaticum to the dying.

The common thread connecting these examples is that there's no self-interest there. None of this is about "ME." It's about the other. Because what is love? It's not a feeling (although it can involve feelings, like a cake can involve frosting or filling). It's actively willing the good, the true good, for the object of that love.

But if I put a six-shooter to your head and ask, "Do you love me?" and you out of fear don't answer, because the answer's no. And then I lock the firing hammer and ask you again, and this time you say, "Yes," because you know if you say, "No," you'll die, do you really love me, just because you said it?

When I ask you if you love me, if I'm sincerely wanting your love, then I want your answer to be sincere. Therefore, I'm going to give you the freedom to choose the answer that you know is true.

Now Genesis doesn't state these things explicitly, but Adam and Eve lived in God's love. This is why they had been created: to receive His love and to love Him in return. So if God had given them no conditions, no sacrifices to make, how could they have known whether they did or didn't love God? How could they have made the choice to say, "I'm not going to do XYZ because I love God."

It's like a spouse who says, "This person of the opposite sex in front of me is ready, willing, and able. Part of me is, too, but I love my beloved so much, I won't do that. I won't eat of that forbidden fruit."

The tree being both right there and verboten, John, wasn't about the tree. It was about the people who had access to it. And really, it was less of a tree and more of a floating question: Do you love Me, especially enough to not do this one thing -- this one little, measely thing I ask you not to do? Look at this place, Adam and Eve. It has everything you could possibly ever really need or want. It's yours for the taking. Just don't do that one thing, OK? So do you love Me enough to respect what I'm asking of you? Do you trust Me? Those two questions run throughout the Bible, especially the trust one. And it's why people in Scripture (and we) often fell (fall) into sin: Lack of trust in the promises of God.

That's getting a little off topic. In any event, it's the same question God asks us today. Do you love Me? What does Jesus Christ say are the two greatest commandments? "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.” This sums up all the 10 Commandments. Concerning the second, do you will the good for yourself, or do you purposefully do things that will destroy or even kill you? Most people would say they will the good for themselves. Great, Jesus is saying, do that to others, too. But first love God above anything else, no matter what the cost, because look at what it cost our first parents.

That's why the tree was there: To help them trust in God's promises and to help know what love was all about. And they blew it. And if you look at the punishments each received, they're directly related to teaching us to love, each according to the distinctiveness of the two sexes.

So sorry for the very long reply, but that's the answer to your first two responses. And the reason is that this response is so long is that I respect your intelligence enough -- trust me, I know how formidable it is -- to not give you a sustained and thorough argument.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A post-St. Valentine's Day thought for all my very few readers

As a post-St. Valentine's Day thought, I read this passage this morning from Chesterton's novel, Manalive. I just loved it and wanted to share with you:

"Imprudent marriages! roared Michael. "And pray where in earth or heaven are there any prudent marriages? Might as well talk about prudent suicides.... You never know a husband until you marry him. Unhappy! Of course you'll be unhappy! Who the devil are you that you shouldn't be unhappy like the mother that bore you? Disappointed? Of course we'll be disappointed! I, for one, don't expect till I die to be so good a man as I am at this minute, for just now I'm 50,000' high, a tower with all the trumpets shouting."
   "You see all this," said Rosamund, with a grand sincerity in her solid face, "and do you really want to marry me?"
   "My darling, what else is there to do?" reasoned the Irishman. "What other occupation is there for an active man on this earth, except to marry you? What's the alternative to marriage, barring sleep? It's not liberty, Rosamund. Unless you marry God, as our nuns do in Ireland, you must marry Man; that is Me. The only third thing is to marry yourself--to live with yourself--yourself, yourself, yourself--the only companion that is never satisfied--and never satisfactory."
   "Michael," said Miss Hunt, in a very soft voice, "if you won't talk so much, I'll marry you."

Friday, February 10, 2012

Good news, only sorta bad news

Thank you to this Baptist pastor for doing the right thing and pledging to go to jail rather than comply with an illicit law. The contention that law is no law if it is immoral or goes against God's laws is a long standing one, as we see from St. Augustine (“an unjust law is no law at all”) and St. Thomas Aquinas (“Human law is law only by virtue of its accordance with right reason; and thus it is manifest [i.e., evident, obvious, clear to anyone who can see] that it flows from the eternal law. And in so far as it deviates from right reason it is called an unjust law; in such case it is no law at all, but rather a species of violence.").
However, I only wish the first person to have said it would have been one of the bishops, archbishops, or, better yet, a cardinal. Still, it's been said. And in a way, the heartening thing is that it wasn't said by a Catholic. Rather, it was said by someone outside our fold. That shows this argument is getting legs. Maybe that's what helped seal the deal for the Obama Administration.

That said, am on deadline so don't have to read about the putative compromise that was announced this morning. However, CBS news reported it's based on the policy in effect at DePaul University in Chicago. Hearing that, I groaned. Have you ever been there? Have you ever heard or read what some of their philosophy and theology professors say? Judging by what I've read, I can confidently say several are heretics (or at least what they say about a subject is often totally in opposition to what the Magisterium teaches and what the Catechism says). These teach modernism, which Pope St. Pius X says, what's the quote? "The synthesis of all heresies"? "The mother of all heresies"? One of the two. Anyway, you get the picture. This means that people sending their children there are paying big bucks to have their children taught and likely infected with beliefs that are not designed to help them grow in holiness. They're the very modernist teachings that caused the implosion in teh Catholic Church since 1965.

Furthermore, quotes I've read from their administrators and about what they've allowed at a supposedly a Catholic university don't make me confident that they crafted a compromise with the state of Illinois that held the line on authentic, traditional Church teaching. Again, I haven't read the terms, so I don't know. I hope I'm pleasantly proven wrong. Nothing would make me happier.

Please, please, please Lord, do not let the bishops cave on this. Please. I think these secularists/atheists have shown their true colors too many times. Don't let them be like the frog or fox in the story where the snake asks for a ride on his back across a river he couldn't otherwise traverse. No way, says the fox/frog, you'll bite me, and I'll die. Nooooooo, says the snake, I promise. How do I know I can believe you? I don't think I can, he replies. The snake soothingly reassures him he has nothing to fear. Eventually, the fox/frog agrees and just as they've crossed over and are emerging from the water, the snake bites him. As fox/frog lays their dying, he asks the snake, Why did you do that? I thought you promised. I can't help it, says the snake. It's in my nature, and he left his helper there to breath his last.

So it is with these people. Give them an inch, and they will ultimately find a way to take a mile. We can't let them. By God's grace and our work, we won't.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Saints News from January

Possible patron saint of those who are angry with God to be canonized 

At the same time the Vatican announced Bl. Kateri Tekawitha and Bl. Marianne Cope would receive canonization, it also said Bl. Anna Schaeffer would receive the same honor. Now, who is Bl. Anna Schaeffer, you may be asking? She was a young woman in the late 1800s who was trying to earn a dowry to become a religious missionary. That’s when she suffered an industrial accident that made her legs useless. For eight to nine years, she begged, pleaded, cajoled, yelled at, got angry with, and badgered God endlessly to give her a miracle. And there was no miracle. The reason she was angry was that she wanted to go bring souls to Christ as a missionary sister. And, of course, because she wanted something so good, even great, Bl. Anna just assumed that this was what God wanted, as well.
She’s in my book, 39 New Saints You Should Know, and it was only through this very tender priest that she came to accept that her wishes were not God’s will for her life. And when she did, she got exactly what she wanted. Because she became progressively holier, people started writing her and coming to her for advice. Some challenged her to prove various points of the Faith. So, you see? She became a missionary. It’s just that she ministered to souls from her bed rather than in a jungle or out in a desert.
She’s one of my favorites in my book 39 New Saints You Should Know, and I love her because she shows what God will do with us once we get out of the way and stop resisting Him.  

Seelos Sainthood Cause Has New Legs 

You could say the canonization cause for Bl. Francis Xavier Seelos has new legs now that Fr. John Murray can walk again.
            Murray, who is renowned for his preaching, broke his neck and became completely paralyzed after tripping on his walkway in October 2010. Doctors told him after emergency spinal cord surgery he would never walk again. The thought that he had forever lost the ability to move left Father feeling quite hopeless.
In late November, however, just six weeks after the accident, he moved his leg. It was a very small movement, but it was an actual movement and not the sort of phantom phenomenon one often hears about in those who have lost limbs or become paralyzed.
While he needs a Zimmer frame to get around, Fr. Murray is now completely self-sufficient. His explanation? A first class relic of Bl. Francis Seelos he carries with him wherever he goes and the intercession he asked Bl. Seelos to make. The two have a lot in common. Like Seelos was, Murray is a Redemptorist priest. Both served in Baltimore, and both were once the rector of same parish.
Fr. Murray’s doctor, a born-again Christian, says she believes Father’s recovery is a miracle. However, before it is credited as such, it must pass a rigorous review by the Congregation for the Causes of saints. If it is authenticated by the Congregation’s medical board, the Congregation will then determine if all the combined evidence warrants recommending Bl. Francis’ canonization to the Holy Father. This could take several years. 

Cause of Two British Nuns – One of Whom Saved Jews from Nazis – Moves Forward 

The investigation phase of the beatification cause for two Servants of God – Mother Riccarda Beauchamp Hambrough and Sr. Katherine Flanagan – has been forwarded by the cause’s postulators to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. First introduced in July 2010 by the Diocese of Rome, investigators say they have found nothing that would contradict the finding that the two lived lives of heroic virtue.
If the Congregation agrees, it will forward this information to the Holy Father, and if he concurs, the two will be declared “Venerable.” To become blessed, each would need a miracle. The same for each to receive canonization.
Both of the women religious were members of the Bridgetine Sisters founded by St. Bridget of Sweden back in the 14th century.
Mother Riccarda came from Brighton, England, and she was received into the Church at age 4 when both her parents converted. Not long thereafter, her family moved to Rome, where she spent the rest of her life. After the Germans occupied Rome, she hid over 60 Jews in the Casa Santa Brigida, the Order’s generalate. She took such good care of those people, many took to calling her “Mama.” She died at 79-years-old in 1966.
Sr. Katherine, on the other hand, was from Clerkenwell, England, and was baptized at the parish church in Earlsfield, south London. At first, she made a living as a dressmaker, before discerning at age 19 a call to the religious life and the Bridgetine Order, in particular. So much did her order trust her, they made her the founding prioress of three convents, including one at Vadstena, Sweden, where St. Bridget had died and where Sr. Katherine herself passed in 1941. 

Average Catholics Can Help Nun’s Beatification Cause in an Entertaining Way 

Now there average Catholics have a way to help promote the beatification cause of the Servant of God Sr. Marie de Mandat-Grancey. She is the woman many credit with rediscovering the Blessed Virgin’s house in Ephesus, Turkey. On January 5, Bishop Robert Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph hosted a book signing of a brand new biography that will help people learn more about Sr. Marie in an entertaining way while raising needed funds for the process at the same time. The diocese is promoting her cause since the diocese that encompasses Ephesus is too poor to do so.

According to the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph’s diocesan newspaper, The Catholic Key, “Adele Louise Marie de Mandat-Grancey was born in 1837, the fifth of six children of the Comte and Comtesse de Mandat-Grancey. While still a child, she began to consider the religious life. Marie joined the Daughters of Charity in 1858, and made her first solemn profession of vows in 1862. Her first mission was an orphanage in northwestern France, where she served as a nurse and in the pharmacy; she also taught 55 orphans and 60 day students. While there, she started the Children of Mary association.

“In 1870, Sister Marie was asked to serve as Sister Servant, or superior, for the orphanage at Le Pecq, a suburb of Paris. In 1880, the private revelations of Anne Catherine Emmerich, a German nun and mystic who had visions of the life and death of the mother of Christ, were published. Although the nun had never traveled outside Germany, in the 1850s she dictated her visions of the ruins of Mary’s house in detail to Clemens Brentano, who later wrote the book. Sister Marie obtained a copy to share with her community, and it made a deep impression on her.

“In 1886, she answered a call by Pope Leo XIII for volunteers to Asia Minor and was assigned to the French Naval Hospital in Smyrna, now Izmir, Turkey. It was not lost on her that Smyrna was a mere 75 kilometers or 46.6 miles from Ephesus, where Emmerich had said Mary lived out her final years in the company of St. John and visiting Apostles.

“Sister Marie was appointed Sister Servant of the hospital in 1890 and dedicated herself to the care of the sick and children. Father Schulte said she met Christ in each student, patient and the poor, whether Christian or Muslim. She “brought all the beauty of God’s world in prayer to all she met,” he said.

“In 1891, she encouraged Lazarist (as Vincentian priests are known in France) Fathers Henri Jung and Eugene Poulin to travel to Ephesus, following the roadmap given by Emmerich’s revelations, and see if there was compelling evidence that Mary truly had lived there.

“Closely following Emmerich’s revelations, the priests found the house said to have been built for Mary by St. John and local Christians on the mountain top named Bulbul Hill (Nightingale Hill). Greek Orthodox and Muslim oral traditions have held for centuries that that is where St. John took Mary, the mother of Jesus, after the Crucifixion, fleeing persecution of Christians in Judea. On the Aegean Sea, Ephesus, some 700 miles from Jerusalem, became a haven for early Christians. St. Paul is said to have lived there for three years around 45 A.D.

“Sister Marie used her personal fortune to acquire and restore the ruins, and five years before her death in 1915, signed the deed to Meryem Ana Evi, Mary’s House, over to Father Poulin. The American Society of Ephesus, founded in 1955 by telecommunications pioneer George Quatman, has since then organized and helped fund large-scale reconstruction and restoration efforts of Mary’s House, the nearby tomb and basilica of St. John the Apostle and Evangelist, and other shrines around the world.”

To get your own copy of the book, go to your local Catholic bookstore (find it here) or if you don’t have one in your area, go here. To learn more about Sr. Marie’s beatification cause, go to 

Important Date for Snowshoe Priest Cause Next Week 

Diocese of Marquette Bishop Alexander Sample is asking all faithful Catholics to pray between now and next Tuesday, February 7. That is the day that the cardinals on the Congregation for the Causes of Saints will meet to determine whether the Servant of God Bishop Frederic Baraga deserves the title of “Venerable.”
Bishop Sample is particularly asking for prayers and penance on Monday, February 6. There is already a miracle attributed to Bishop Baraga, and there are plans to move his tomb to a prominent place in Marquette’s cathedral if he receives the Venerable designation.
Bishop Baraga was arguably one of the most impressive bishops in US history. Born to Slovenian nobility, he could speak six languages by age 16. After his ordination in 1823, he answered a call from Cincinnati’s Bishop Edward Fenwick for priests to minister to the increasing number of Catholics in the diocese. Because of his facility with languages, he was sent to a mission in northern Michigan to better learn the Ottawa Indians’ tongue. He became so proficient at this that he wrote the first book in that language, which was a combined prayer book/catechism. Additionally, he wrote an Ojibwa language dictionary, and worked very hard to ensure that the Indians were not forced to relocate.
Since there were no roads to reach the different remote settlements, he trudged to each on snowshoes. That’s how he came to be called the “Snowshoe Priest,” and he traversed hundreds of miles on those things, often in the worst weather imaginable. A lot of times, he would have to walk across frozen portions of Lake Michigan. He did this until he was in his 60s when he became too infirm to do so anymore.
His work won many admirers and so in 1853, he was consecrated first bishop of what became the Diocese of Marquette. His letters to the Society for the Propagation of the Faith struck their readers as so exotic and thrilling that they were eventually published. A young John Neumann read these and they helped him decide to come to the US. He is, of course, St. John Neumann, the US’s first male saint. After 45 years as a priest and over 35 years amongst the Indians and settlers in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, he became deaf, had a number of strokes, and went to his reward on January 19, 1868.
To learn more about this wonderful, holy man, go to Also, I encourage you to join the Bishop Baraga Association, of which I’m a proud member. You’ll support a good cause and their newsletter is always very interesting. 

Cause of Maryknoll co-founder, Tar Heel state denizen to open soon 

The Diocese of Raleigh in North Carolina has announced it will formally open the beatification cause of Fr. Thomas Frederick Price, a Wilmington native, on March 9.
In 1886, at age 26, Price became the first man native to the Tar Heel state to receive Holy Orders. For the first 25 years of his ministry, he served as an itinerant preacher, riding hundreds of miles on horseback, often through [hostile] fundamentalist territory to serve the state’s Catholic community, which numbered just 1,000 at the time.
Then in 1911, he partnered with Fr. James Walsh to found what we would eventually call the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers. He died in Hong Kong just eight years later of a ruptured appendix.
The Raleigh diocese is the third to attempt to start his cause after Hong Kong and New York. The effort to move his cause happened because so much of the documentation concerning him exists in local archives. 

Stunning new DVD out to promote Sheen beatification cause 

A new documentary has been released by those leading the beatification cause of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. Titled Servant of All, all proceeds go to help fund the often costly canonization process. In December, the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois, sent to the Vatican its review of an allegedly miraculous saving of a baby boy. If the Congregation for the Causes of Saints approves the case and the Pope accepts it, this would qualify Archbishop Sheen for beatification.
The documentary features such both obscure and well-known known personalities such as Regis Philbin, Fr. Andrew Apostoli, CFR, Fr. Jonathan Williams, and Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, whom many compare to Sheen.
The film costs $24.95 and is available through your local Catholic bookstore and was produced by Ignatius Press. For more information, go to or call 877-71-Sheen.

Austrian Woman Becomes First Female Politician Ever Beatified by Church 

On Sunday, January 29, an Austrian politician named Hildegard Burjan was beatified in Vienna’s Cathedral of St. Stephen.
Her family was Jewish that valued education, and as this precocious girl grew up, she developed an abiding interest in politics. After high school, she studied philosophy at the University of Zurich, where she earned her PhD magna cum laude in 1908. She had married the wealthy industrialist Alexander Burjan in 1907, and in 1909, following a serious illness, came into the Church.
Moving with her husband to Vienna that same year, she saw the poverty and unjust social conditions that permeated the city. Instead of ignoring these problems, she instead she founded the Association of Christian Women Home Workers, which not only provided poor housewives with both material and emotional support, but also struggled to put a stop to child labor. She also created the Congregation of Sisters of “Caritas Socialis.”
When she became pregnant with her daughter, her doctor advised her to abort because they feared she would die. Valuing her child’s life more than her own, however, she flat out refused, and both ended up perfectly fine.
It is said that everything she did was marked by an effort to see Our Lord’s face in everything we do. “We cannot help people with money and small offerings,” she would say, “rather we must give them the confidence that they are capable of doing something for themselves.”
In 1919, she ran for and was elected to the Austrian parliament, becoming the first woman to do so. Her platform was Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum, and while in office, she promoted equal wages for men and women, minimum wage, and social security. She also worked across party lines, and her colleagues recognized her as the “conscience of the Parliament.” Despite a promising career, however, she served only for one term and dedicated the rest of her life to social work. She died June 11, 1933, at the age of 50. She is the first female politician to achieve beatification in the Church’s history, and her feast is June 12.
In his homily during a Mass of Thanksgiving this past Tuesday, January 31, Archbishop of Vienna Christoph “Cardinal Schönborn noted that Hildegard Burjan is proof that sanctity is also possible in political life. She ‘announced the Gospel through action,’ he said. ‘Her beatification comes at a good time to highlight that action is a core issue. . . . Hildegard was a convincing Christian because, without too many words, she acted. In our own time we must again learn to understand what it means to be disciples, and to this end what we need are not theories, but examples of people who speak through their actions.’

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Santorum ... please help him

If for no other reason than that you'd like to slow Mitt Romney's juggernaut to the GOP nomination (please, Lord, spare us), please strongly consider the following. Thanks.

Dear [Me]:
I started the week giving a speech to a crowd of nearly 1,000 in St. Louis and then continued on a tour across America to the next contest states.
   That’s why we are launching a Rick Across America Money Bomb today -- to fuel our campaign as we continue to crisscross Nevada, Missouri, Colorado, Minnesota and more over the next week.
  Just yesterday a poll was released showing that I am leading Mitt Romney by double digits in Missouri. [Editor's note: YES!] This is very encouraging news and very accurately reflects the groundswell of support I felt when I was there earlier this week.
  Your contribution right now of $25, $50, $100 or even more will keep our TV and radio ads on the airwaves and mail in the mailboxes.
  Rush Limbaugh stated yesterday “everybody is guilty of some transgression somewhere against conservatism… except Santorum.” And in addition to leading in the polls in Missouri, voters also have the highest favorable opinion of me in Missouri and Ohio.
  Voters across America are joining the fight and know that I am the only one with a positive message and track record as a true conservative. We can and will defeat Obama in November.
  We are on the right track, have the right message, and the right plan for America. Join with us in our Rick Across America Money Bomb right now.

For America,

Rick Santorum

P.S. You can be an active part of our Rick Across America Money Bomb team by creating your own donation webpage, and inviting friends and family to contribute through your personalized page. We can really use your help to spread the word, and encourage you to create your own page today.

For you United States readers, please, if you can

This will (should) be very easy: Just like I asked with some of the blog's foreign readers, please, can you tell me what is your nearest major city, something generally about you (male/female, age range, general occupation or field/religion/politics/etc.), you how you came to find this blog, and why you keep coming back? Not that I mind, of course. It's just that I'm curious. Thanks!

Russia, Germany, and Ireland, please

After the US, it seems my most frequent readers come from Russia, Germany, and Ireland. Please, can you tell me what is your nearest major city, something generally about you, and you how you came to find this blog, and why you keep coming back? Not that I mind, of course. It's just that I'm curious. Thanks!

If William Shatner can get it, why not President Obama?

Saw this wonderful ad featuring William Shatner on YouTube today, and in light of the recent HHS ruling denying freedom of conscience to Catholics, thought it appropos to share. Enjoy!

Waiting patiently for the Lord ...

This post is going to be very confessional and spiritual, even religious. That's actually why I started the blog, to be an outlet for such thoughts. However, it's morphed into just the regular blah-blah-blah blog, frankly. Anyway, if you're not comfortable with such confessional posting, then move on. Forewarned is forearmed, as my mom has told me.

Lately, I have been discerning, or trying to discern God's will. Life lately has been at turns wild, bewildering, exciting, terrifying, depressing, filled with hope, filled with despair. Sometimes, it's all these things all at once.

That's to be expected when life throws disappointment at you. I would think that is a universal experience. Maybe not. In any event, it's what I typically experience in such times, and I've experienced in my life a lot of terrible disappointments -- many of my own doing -- that have left me with so many unanswerable whys. (To be sure, I have had, have, and will have many untold blessings; sadly, however, it's easy, so unbelievably easy to lose sight of those. I need to work on that on counting those and giving thanks for them.)

The cure to the disappointment is to give up asking "Why?" to give up the pride that forms the soil in which that question grows. However, the injustice that planted the Why's seed burns and propels, compels me to pursue, relentlessly pursue, relentlessly pursue an answer, like a mongoose chasing down a rat.

It is an answer that will most likely never come or that is here and simply cannot face, and its continued presence is a recipe for insanity. And the question, really, is not, "Why?" After 35 years, I have realized that just this moment. The question is not, "Why did this happen to me?" At least not so much.

The question really is "Why did no one love me? Why was I bullied? Why was I rejected and ignored? Why was I so often left to my own devices?" And at the heart of those questions are others too terrible to imagine, that are even more horrifying to contemplate, like the visage of a demon that manifests itself and is more chilling and frightening than any description had prepared you for: "What about me was unlovable? Am I unlovable?"

And the answer is yes. Or, rather, no. I am lovable. Maybe not by people (my wife tells me--frequently, in fact--that people find me tiresome, intimidating, imposing, and that I often lack certain social skills, and, no doubt, there is some truth in that), but by God.

Thus, my worth does not come from what kids did to me in Third Grade (or Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Twelth, and at university). What I feel is my parents' abandonment of me (they and my good sister, who I love and idolize, might disagree) does not determine whether I am worthy or lovable . My worth is not relected in my depressingly spotty employment history (putting the best spin on it).

No, my worth comes from one place and one place alone: I am a child of God, His adopted son. Had I been the only person to have ever sinned, and if I was the last person who ever would have sinned, there still would have been a Christmas morning. There still would have been an Easter Sunday.

For He loved me so much, that He sent His only begotten Son into the world to redeem my sins (cf., John 3:15). He created me in His likeness (cf. Gen 1:20-29) and destined me for eternal relationship with His triune majesty, the only analogy for which that is adequate here on earth is the spousal relationship. He wants to relate with me, love me, enfold me to that degree. He is, as the title of that fantastic book puts it, This Tremendous Lover.

He knew me before I was formed in the womb (cf. Jer 1:5). He chose me in Him before the foundation of the world that I should be holy and blameless before Him (i.e., consecrated/set apart and unblemished). He knows the plans He has for me, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give me a future and a hope (cf., Jer 29:11).

The point of all this reflection, which has taken a huge turn down the road I intended to go, is several fold.

First, I know but had not remembered, God's will is not to be discerned amongst the moment as if one is finding one's way through a dense, dense fog. God's will is the moment. As painful as that moment may be, He has "plans for welfare and not evil, to give you a future and a hope." He works everything -- not some things, not most things, not many things, but everything -- to the good (cf., Rom 8:28). So I need to pray to be faithful in this moment. When I'm so frenzied in wanting to accomplish all I believe I need to, prayer period ... it's tempting to make it an afterthought (sorta like, "Oops! I could've had a V-8!".).

Second, my prayer should have been less, "Lord, what is Your will?" (in fact, given the above, it should not have been that at all) and more, "Lord, where do You want me to go?"

Here's a quote from a wonderful book by Fr. Timothy Gallagher, OMV, titled Discerning the Will of God:
"To do Your will is my delight." These words of Psalm 40 [click it: It's not what you think] express the deep desire of Jesus' heart: to do the will of the Father by Whom He knows Himself loved (cf., John 5:20; Heb 10:5-10). They also express the deepest desire of every human heart rooted in the foundational truths described [i.e., the discovery of faith, joy-filled encounter with God, continuing relationship with God, and desire to respond to God, and through this experiencing the joy of freely responding to God --- the joy of doing God's will.].
With this in mind, I came home from Mass today (I only mention that I went to Mass because I don't believe these reflections would have come to my heart if I hadn't; maybe by this point, you're cursing the fact that I did). I put my elbows on my desk, folded my hands, closed my eyes, and asked God, "Do you want me to do X?" Before I got to "to," the answer spread through my consciousness like food coloring in water: "Yes."

I've resited doing X for almost 20 years because it could never make me a lot of money. I grew up financially comfortable. I want to be comfortable myself. Hell, let's be honest: I want to be rich. I want to be independently wealthy. I have my persecuted, enslaved children in Pakistant. There's the pirate radio station I want to put in Korea. I want to create. I want that so I can travel and study and fill my boundless curiousity. I want to have the endless freedom wealth brings to write and research and think and create.

And maybe God wants that, too. Someday. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe a few years from now. Maybe never. But I have to trust He knows me better than me, that He knows better than me period, and right now, He seems to be asking me to do X. When I think of doing X, I have peace.

As Fr. Gallagher writes, "... the human will thirsts for that communion with the divine will, which is mutual love --- the love for which we are made, and which, as Augustine says, alone gives rest to our restless hearts.

Mind you: It's not what I want to do. I don't. I like X, love it even, but I don't want to do it. There are too many obstacles standing in the way. Mostly, I don't want to endure the privations that will inevitably come from having to do what's necessary to make X happen. If I could forego the hoops and get paid based on my experience in the workforce, I'd do it tomorrow. That's not going to happen, so I think, "Ehhhh, why bother? Got a family to support. Wanna take a trip with the kids this Spring or summer. Yada yada yada."

God, however, has been around forever. He's a lot smarter than me. And there's that whole "plan for welfare and not for evil" thing I need to keep remembering.

I'll close with an awesome, soul-lifting quote by Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman:
I am created to do something or to be something for which no one else is created; I have a place in God's counsels, in God's world, which no one else has.... God knows me and calls me by name.
Be well, my friends, and may you really come to feel how immersed you are in God's love, care, and compassion. "We love because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19). And let us, as this piece does, praise God for His boundless mercy and sacrificial, saving Love poured out for us on the cross.