Undermining the First Amendment in the Name of “Health Care”

Short memories make for bad public policy. I can’t help but reflect on that.

As I write this, Congress is about to take a vote on doing something-or-another with Obamacare: repeal, replace, whatever. I’m not sure they know what they’re doing, despite good intentions all around. In all the tinkering, I am not hearing much from Members of Congress about what made the “Affordable Care Act” utterly unacceptable to so many Catholics, including me: the contraceptive mandate. Continue reading

Good Works, While There’s Time

International Women’s Day is upon us again. I see the hashtag du jour is #ADayWithoutWomen, referring to a gender-based strike to show the world what happens when women bow out of work for a day.

They don’t get paid, for one thing. Those of us who don’t work on salary already knew that. To each her own, though. I’ll leave the day-without-women adherents in peace.

There’s another observance going on today, or rather a feast: the feast of St. John of God – “the Waif,” as he is described in one account of his life. He spent the last few years of his life in unstinting service to the destitute, for the love of God. My Laudate app (I do love certain bits of modern technology) advised me this morning of something the saint said:

“Labour without stopping; do all the good work you can while you still have the time.” Continue reading

Open Book, January 2017

The first week of each month brings #OpenBook, a blog linkup co-hosted by My Scribbler’s Heart and CatholicMom.com with a roundup of what participating bloggers have been reading lately.

Not long ago, I was in Boston for a program on Catholic education. Among the speakers was Paul Elie of Georgetown University, of whom I hadn’t heard until that day. As authors are wont to do, he brought a pile of his books for sale and signing, and I’m glad I took the time to visit his table. I picked up a gem, in the form of his book The Life You Save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage.

The Life You Save is a work of spiritual biography, weaving together the lives and vocations of Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, Walker Percy, and Flannery O’Connor. All were Catholic writers, although “writer” was not necessarily the principal earthly vocation. No two of them became and remained Catholic via the same path. As Elie writes in the Prologue,

It is in their lives and their work together that their influence is found, and that this telling of their story is meant to explore. Today, as when they were alive, they are representative figures, whose struggles with belief and unbelief are vivid and recognizable. At the same time, as they venture forth together, their story suggests a series of different ways of pilgrimage, with the episodes highlighting patterns that the yearning for religious experience can take, in their time and in ours.

I’m taking my time with The Life You Save. I find myself re-reading passages two or three times, and then reflecting for awhile before reading on.

I was surprised to see that the book was published in 2003. How did I not come across it until now?


During the recent holiday break I treated myself to a much more casual read-it-in-two-sittings novel: Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham. Pure fun.

Graham was one of the Gilmore Girls, a series my daughter and I know line-by-line (including last November’s Netflix sequel). Her name caught my eye in a recent book review of her new memoir. The reviewer mentioned Graham’s earlier novel. Novel? What novel? I went straight for the library shelves and found Someday, Someday, Maybe.

It’s the story of an actress-in-training, or rather in-hoping, trying to break into the business in New York City. She sets herself a six-month deadline to Make It, after which she’s resigned to returning to her home town. The journey as mapped by Graham is hilarious and touching and hopeful.

Appreciating Advent

This post originally appeared at Leaven for the Loaf.

I look forward to Advent every year. I actually look forward to rummaging through the candle drawer for the little purple votives (and I know there’s a pink in there somewhere). I like putting a purple-beribboned wreath on the front door, even when it’s a premade bow from the craft store tacked on to artificial greens. I like the app that puts daily Advent readings onto my tablet.  Lest you think I’m burnishing a haloI hasten to assure you that I don’t have one. I’m just a very plain human being who knows a good thing when she sees one. And Advent is decidedly a Good Thing.

Charlie Brown never worked retail

I was a kid when A Charlie Brown Christmas debuted on TV way back when.  In the show, Charlie Brown bemoans what he knows is an over-commercialized season. I still love that show after all these years, even though I know that the kid obviously never had to work retail to support his family.

Have you ever worked in retail? You know, one of those businesses that depend on the last two months of the year for a third of the year’s revenue? The kind that makes you listen to Christmas holiday music on every shift beginning right after ThanksgivingVeteran’s Day Halloween? The kind where you work until close of business on December 24, whereupon you collapse and want to sleep for a week?

I have. It was hardly involuntary servitude. I had great bosses and coworkers and customers. It was a new small business, featuring chocolate and coffee, and we all had the exhilarating and well-founded feeling that each thing we did could mean the difference between staying open and going under. December had to be huge for us. We all pitched in and pitched hard. Thank you, December shoppers. You made sure my bosses could pay me. That job was a blessing…and it absolutely drained me. When I locked the shop door at 3 p.m. on my first Christmas Eve there, I was ready to keel over. I hadn’t had time to shop for my husband and kids. I hadn’t done any advance prep for the extended-family dinner I was supposed to have ready by 6. I wanted to go to Midnight Mass but had no idea how I’d be awake for it. (In fact, I can’t remember if I got there.)

I wasn’t ready for Christmas. I had dropped Advent.

Read the rest of the post at Leaven for the Loaf.

 

To be Catholic in Cuba

Fidel Castro has died. Perhaps now, he’ll get a taste of what he never seemed to know or extend in his lifetime: mercy.

Read this 2003 article from America: “Cuba’s Catholic Dissident: The Saga of Oswaldo Paya.”

Oswaldo Payá, in fact, is the first Cuban dissident ever to be compared with the likes of Lech Walesa. It’s a premature likening, to be sure, especially since Castro essentially put Payá’s top management out of commission last March with one of his most severe crackdowns in decades. But the fact that Castro did not jail Payá [means] even Castro realizes what an international outcry that would provoke is in itself proof that Payá is an unprecedented irritant for the Cuban regime.

Just as important, however, and something that has gone largely and strangely unremarked upon in my profession, is the Catholic faith that fuels Payá’s mission. Even less noticed, I believe, is the way Payá’s mission has in turn helped strengthen a once moribund Cuban Catholic Church. This, the 51-year-old Payá told me in a recent interview, has finally become a duel between power and spirit in Cuba.

Find the full article at this link. 

 

Link: a roundup on mercy

Before the election, I wrote about grace in a graceless season. Now that the election’s over, someone far more gifted than I has fashioned a similar piece, about mercy in what could easily be taken for a merciless season.

Here’s a link to a piece on Crux by Kathryn Jean Lopez, in which she rounds up several Catholics with ideas on practical applications of mercy these days. Enjoy, and be inspired.

​https://cruxnow.com/church-in-the-usa/2016/11/13/mercy-can-help-america-heal-bitter-political-season/

First feast day for St. Elizabeth of the Trinity

Perfect reminder on Twitter, compliments of the Carmelites, that there’s more to November 8 than the American election. It’s the Feast of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, a 20th-century woman newly canonized. I look forward to reading more about her, beyond this brief post by the Catholic News Agency.  Something written about her in there is very compelling to me.

“She said her mission was to lead souls out of themselves and into a great silence, where God could imprint himself in them, on their souls, so that they became more God-like.”