Saturday, August 29, 2015

Eaglefeather Chaput is on the job!

Ok, so I've been kind of not really posting much about this stuff here, but this one is just too damn good not to share.

It looks like that ol' World Meeting of Families is turning out to be the most entertaining fiasco of the year (until... well... October). We've got a stellar line-up of fake Catholics, pro-abort politicians and sodomite activists for y'all, and the "pro-life conservative" archbishop of Philly is on the job!

Following concerns from Catholic lay organisations, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, well known in the US and abroad for his strong conservative and pro-life stands on abortion and family issues, has issued a statement saying that he is shocked that the World Meeting of Families organisers could have so drastically misstepped...

... Oh wait... bad. He's issued a statement telling the whistleblowers to shut up and mind their own damn business...

Woot! Bring me more popcorn!

Does anyone know if there are any plans to picket the Philadelphia thing? Now THAT would be hilarious! "Pro-life" Chaput, who everyone in the US thinks is the great hope of the Church, having a bunch of little old ladies show up with cute baby signs and Rosaries... And then get Eaglefeather Chaput to lead the "Catholics" at the meeting to a counter protest, shouting "Get your Rosaries off my ovaries" ... WHILE. THE. POPE'S. THERE.

Oh man! there just isn't enough popcorn in the whole world!

Church Militant and the Lepanto Institute ... two genuinely pro-life and Catholic lay organisations fighting for... well, for the Catholic Faith... have been asking some awkward questions you see...And your modern churchman, he don't like it much when someone points out that the emperor's naked...

This is the response from Christine Niles, spokesman for Church Militant...

Open letter to Archbishop Charles J. Chaput:

Your Excellency,
Instead of attacking the Lepanto Institute and Church Militant for doing nothing more than reporting the facts, you should be explaining why there are four members on the leadership team of the World Meeting of Families who support abortion and/or gay "marriage."

Please also explain why you then issued the demonstrably false statement that "No one on our leadership team supports abortion or Planned Parenthood." [Oh! Oh! I know! Pick me! Pick me!]

Please also address why Tom Wolf, pro-abort, pro-gay governor of Pennsylvania, was graced with the honor of being named Honorary Co-Chair of the World Meeting of Families — a man who just named a former Planned Parenthood executive to be his chief of staff, and who is the nation's first governor to be a former PP clinic escort, and whom Cecile Richards publicly supported in a video during his re-election campaign.

All of these facts were made known to you privately before they were published, in order to give you the chance to address the scandal and possibly make corrections. You chose to ignore everything, and our good friends at the Lepanto Institute have proof.

But ignoring the scandal and slandering the apostolates that are exposing it will not accomplish any purpose but to cause you to lose credibility — as has already happened with many Catholics who once believed you were a staunch defender of orthodoxy, but whose talk has turned out to be just that — talk.

Do not lecture us about "pro-life unity" or "charity" when you are more than willing to work with (and honor!) businessmen and leaders who support the slaughter of pre-born infants by the millions, and who push gay "marriage," all the while giving these businessmen and leaders publicity and good press so they can continue promoting their anti-Catholic, anti-family agenda.
This is the height of hypocrisy, and your attempt to smear faithful apostolates for doing no more than reporting the truth is pathetic. You once had my respect. No longer.

Looking forward to the scorching Vortex when Pope Francis embraces the pro-aborts...

...Oh wait...


Friday, August 28, 2015

How to ignore the outside world

Yep. I remember never having any money because I could never make it to the bank for their stupid "banking hours" which were like, noon to three pm every other day except weekends.(Also, I've always been irrationally afraid of banks. And the post office. I hate that stuff.) I remember when only a tiny fraction of the population, wealthy people, had credit cards, and if you ran out of cash on the weekend, you just had to spend the rest of the time doing free stuff. The park was nice. So was the beach. Free and fun.

These days, every time I wander around the house asking, "Where's my damn phone?!" I bring myself up and say, "What? 'Where's the phone?... 'Where's the phone'? What kind of question even is that?" Not that long ago you would have been thought insane. The answer was always the same: "It's attached to the wall where it always is... Are you demented?"

Lately I've been just leaving my phone off all the time. I like my phone because it can't get the innernet and because it's a flip phone that I bought because it looks just like Captain Kirk's phone, which is still cool to me. I sampled the Basilica's bells one day on a feast day and made that my alarm, so the Norcia bells ring for me when it's time for the Divine Office.

But just in the last couple of weeks, I've just been leaving it at home when I go out. I thought, wait, why would I want to talk on the phone while I'm out and doing things? That's a pain. And people phoning me? Yee! Who needs that? If people send me messages or call, my phone will tell me later... so I can ignore them more effectively. Like, on purpose instead of by accident.

So now basically I just use it as an answering machine. At some point, I think I might get some crazy glue and stick it to the wall in the kitchen, and my regression back to the mid-20th century will be complete.


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Ray Bradbury; pinko fear-monger

" appears that science fiction may be a lucrative field for the introduction of Communist ideologies.

"Communists have found fertile opportunities for development; for spreading distrust and lack of confidence in America [sic] institutions in the area of science fiction writing.

"...the general aim of these science fiction writers is to frighten the people into a state of paralysis or psychological incompetence bordering on hysteria which would make it possible to conduct a Third World War in which the American people would seriously believe could not be won since their moral had been seriously destroyed [sic].”

I love Bradbury, grew up on him, and he was probably the biggest literary stylistic influence in my writing from the earliest age, and there's a whole lot more to his writing than just this. But frankly, yes, this is actually a pretty fair critique of some of the political and philosophical background of his work. In fact, re-reading his short stories, which I still love, his southpaw moral relativism, and often silly pseudo-mysticism is absurdly transparent. This piece presents it as all a ridiculous joke, but really it was true. No, I don't think he was formally a commie himself, but he was part of that more general movement of our society to embrace the lefty proposals.

I remember being utterly terrified by the nuclear threat when I was a kid, and from a very early age. And I was convinced by a lot of the sci fi I read and watched on TV that it was the US that was the biggest threat. They were always portrayed as the bad guys, the ones who would be most likely to "push the button." We were told over and over that the poor dear Soviets were just misunderstood and the victims of a propaganda campaign from evil, greedy, militaristic America.

But really the effect was a lot worse than this. A whole generation of us grew up completely convinced that any given fifteen minute period could be our last (they told us it would take about 15 minutes for the bombs to reach us from the Soviet Union over the Pacific) and that we were all likely to be dead before we were thirty. This preaching started in elementary school and carried on all the way through high school. It was preached in all the movies, tv shows and books. Everywhere, constantly.

The Boomers seemed to take pleasure in terrifying their children with stories of spending our last hours, if we were unfortunate enough to survive the blast, stumbling helpless, dying, burnt and blind through the wreckage, envying the dead. I had regular nightmares about the bomb, sometimes several a week, all through my childhood. It never seemed to occur to anyone that they were damaging us with this stuff.

And it was a mythology very strongly promoted by the lefty sci fi writers of the time, and it did a lot to convince a huge number of us that there was just no point in making plans for life, that there was no hope for the future. It created a generation of nihilists who firmly believed that working to build up anything, a marriage, a business, a society, was completely futile, and that ultimately it was better to be dead than alive. I've talked about this before and I know other people my age who had exactly the same experience. They used to call "Gen-X" the "slacker generation" because we had been so firmly convinced that life itself was futile.

So, yeah. Bradbury helped to create this modern terror that did in fact generate a kind of long-term moral paralysis for a huge number of people influenced by him and his fellow lefty doom-sayers. He wasn't the only one, but he certainly influenced me, a rabid fan, to believe it.


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Losing my religion

Today I went to Mass at the basilica of San Benedetto. The monks chanted the propers beautifully and Fr. Basil was in especially fine voice for the Gospel. All was lovely and there were few of the irritations that are usual during tourist season. There were a few non-townies but they seemed to understand at least the gist of what was going on.

I came in a little late (as usual) and sat next to a woman - about her mid-fifties - who was obviously a Roman. She appeared to be engrossed in prayer and gave all the responses in Latin without hesitation.

Immediately after the gospel, she turned to me and whispered, "Are these Benedictine monks?"

Me: ... < blink >... < blink > ...

Ah, you mean those guys up front in the long black robes, with the shaved heads and the big beards...? The ones doing flawless Gregorian Chant ... as if they do it every day? ... In the Basilica of San Benedetto ... that has statues and paintings of San Benedetto everywhere? In the church that was built over top of the birthplace of San Benedetto... like it says on all the signs around town...

Those guys?

Ah, yeah, those are Benedictine monks.

What the... ?

The other day, I met a lovely young nun who is forming a new community in the US, to pray for and support priests and teach the faith to younger people. She was making a little pilgrimage around some of Italy's holy sites and stopped in town for a day or so. We had a lovely chat and I showed her around some of the neat stuff we have. We went in to look at St. Lawrence parish, a tiny little 4th century church around the corner from the main piazza. It's still a church but the Sacrament has been removed and it is no longer used for Masses, and is falling slowly into decrepitude. That day it was full of a grand piano and a few rows of chairs, since it was being used as part of the Norcia music festival. The person in charge of this saw us come and and asked if either of us played. Sister said she did, and she was kindly invited to sit down. She played and sang quite a lovely song she had written about the graces of the priesthood, as was appropriate. She sang in English.

At the end of it, as we were being ushered to the door, the nice gentleman asked sister, "Are you Catholic?" This was a nun dressed in a full habit, floor length white tunic, blue cincture, white linen guimpe and very long blue veil. She didn't just look like a nun, she looked like every painting you've ever seen of Our Lady of Lourdes. She stammered, "Yes, yes, I'm Catholic. I'm a nun." Having had his question answered, our new friend nodded with satisfaction at having guessed correctly the meaning of her peculiar attire.

As we were proceeding back to the piazza, she turned to me with a look of complete incredulity.

I said, "Yes, the Italians remember that there used to be this thing called 'Catholicism,' but they can recall very little about the details."

We are coming to the point in Italy where it will shortly no longer be accurate to refer to them even as "cultural Catholics".

Apparently, this is true in Germany too:

Emergency Call: The following call to 110 (the German version of 911/999) was made in Aachen, Germany:

Police: "Police Hotline."

Caller: "Hello, my name is [...] I'd like to report a large group of people who are walking down the street with a bullhorn. One of them recited some biblical saying, and the people were repeating the same saying. It's pretty creepy."

Police: "Which saying?"

Caller: "Something biblical, like ... that they are leaving this world ... something about a shepherd and stuff."

Police: "How many people are there?"

Caller: "Unfortunately, I couldn't tell. My husband was watching them ... wait a second ..."

Caller's Husband (shouting in the background): "20 people!"

Caller: "He says 20 people."

Police: "They are just walking through the area?"

Caller: "At the moment they haven't done anything, but it seems strange. Just in case something were to happen."

Police: "What, exactly, were they saying?

Caller's Husband (background): "... 'holy Mary, Mother of God' ..."

Caller: "You know, that saying ... 'and the fruit of thy womb' ... that saying people are always repeating ... I'm not a church person."

Police: "That's probably a procession which is passing through the area."

Caller: "A what?"

Police: "A procession. It's nothing to be afraid of."

Caller: "That they are wandering around here saying these things?"

Police: "Yes, it's a solemn church parade. That's called a 'procession' around here."

Caller: "Oh, I see. I'm not familiar with that. I just thought, because they were saying these things..."

Police: "Right. It's a procession."


Monday, August 24, 2015

Dulce Domum

Greatest crazy-cat-lady pic evah!

That's sweet little Pippin on the back of the chair. He's a bit shy and not as quick to sit on my lap as the others. He still occasionally tries to suckle on the embroidered flowers on my cardie. He still misses his real mum. Poor little tyke.

Bertie loves to sit in my lap while I'm working - which he's doing right now - and loves his grub with special enthusiasm.

That's Big Henry under my left arm, where he loves to just barge in when he wants cuddles. Henry really does everything in a big way. When he wants to play, there's no deterring him. When he feels cuddly, you better feel like cuddling too because there's no choice. And when he purrs, which is nearly all the time, he sounds like a choir of Tibetan Lamas. For a thug with an unequalled devotion to a life of total violence, he's remarkably sweet and friendly. But he does this unutterably cute thing when he's really extra specially happy. He purrs, but intersperses his purring with little squeeks every few seconds, when he closes his eyes and turns his face up to you, as if he's saying 'Oh man, I am SO happy!'


Friday, August 21, 2015

Beautiful flat for rent in Norcia

The view from my front garden, looking down on the town, which you can see to the left, and towards the eastern end of the valley.

Attention freelance journalists and other self-employed people in Italy who are sick to death of the abusive world of Rome's rentals, as well as the horrors of its transport, crowds, pollution, rates of petty crime, noise and general aggravatingness:

I've just had a conversation with the owners of my house here in beautiful bucolic Norcia, (Nursia) the ancient birthplace of St. Benedict. They've just finished refurbishing and furnishing the upstairs flat and put in a new kitchen, but said they still haven't rented it yet. Having done it up, they want E450/m for it. The furnishings are second hand but quite nice and in perfect condition and the beds are new. The kitchen is beautiful. My friend who translated says she thinks they might be willing to go down to 430/m for the right renter.

It's three bedrooms, two terraces, a full sitting room with a big Umbrian-style fireplace, garden, bathtub, and magnificent view of the Valnerina. It's outside the walls so away from the press of tourists here and the noise of the many festas, but still only a two minute drive down the hill to the town gates for shopping and whatnot.

They seem very interested in having someone up there whom I know and can recommend and are willing to wait to hear back til the end of August. I said I knew a few people who might be interested and would get in touch with them right away, which I have done. This notice is just to let the word get out more generally. Right now it's first come first served.

That being said, they've got other people who are interested, so the fact that they're willing to put them off to wait to hear back from my friends shows they're serious. They seem like nice people.

The best part is that he says that since I already have a contract, no one has to go through the agency, so no agency fees. They would just modify my existing contract to include both flats.

Norcia has about 4000 people in it and is still mainly an agricultural local economy and quite independent of the nearest big towns, so it's pretty quiet and serene. Even the tourists are a lot less annoying than Rome or Florence. And we've got at least one of everything you need here, as well as a very full and vibrant cultural life.

That being said, if you need to go to Rome (or Florence) they're still pretty close. By car it's about 3.5 hours, or you can take it easier and just go to Spoleto (an hour drive) and take a train to Termini, which is about an hour and a half. Costs about 15 Euros.

Norcia is a kind of dream place, particularly for Catholic families and individuals who want to get out of the sweats and horrors of Roman life. There is a daily Traditional Mass as well as the full Divine Office at the monastery, for those who like that sort of thing. The locals are almost miraculously friendly and kind. The rents and living expenses are ridiculously low. (I cut my monthly expenses by nearly two thirds by moving here.)

Frankly, moving here has been one of the best decisions I've made in my life. If sheer natural beauty, an intimate small town atmosphere aren't enough, then consider that this is a place where people are deeply committed to preserving and celebrating their ancient traditions. Older people are respected, children are well behaved and people look out for each other.

The air is clean, the valley is so beautiful you would think you're in another world. A much, much better one.

Anyone who is seriously interested, let me know by email hjmwhite66 at yahoo dot ca

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Is this what you want?

When asked if they’ve been arranging dates on the apps they’ve been swiping at, all say not one date, but two or three: “You can’t be stuck in one lane … There’s always something better.” “If you had a reservation somewhere and then a table at Per Se opened up, you’d want to go there,” Alex offers.

“Guys view everything as a competition,” he elaborates with his deep, reassuring voice. “Who’s slept with the best, hottest girls?” With these dating apps, he says, “you’re always sort of prowling. You could talk to two or three girls at a bar and pick the best one, or you can swipe a couple hundred people a day—the sample size is so much larger. It’s setting up two or three Tinder dates a week and, chances are, sleeping with all of them, so you could rack up 100 girls you’ve slept with in a year.

I was a teenager in the 80s. This was before "apps" or even the internet. It was before one carried a phone around in one's pocket. But it was certainly after it was considered normal to "have sex" with anyone for any reason or no reason. And in my neck of the woods, it was already a decade after everyone stopped even considering marriage to be a real thing anymore. It was already history... ancient and long dead and forgotten history.

But I can't imagine, really, how all this must seem to young women and girls today. I remember feminists in the 70s talking about how men look at women as pieces of meat. But I think those ladies of the early days would not be able to comprehend what their "free sex" revolution hath wrought.

Seriously, is this all you want in life? Really?

Dan and Marty, also Alex’s roommates in a shiny high-rise apartment building near Wall Street, can vouch for that. In fact, they can remember whom Alex has slept with in the past week more readily than he can.

“Brittany, Morgan, Amber,” Marty says, counting on his fingers. “Oh, and the Russian—Ukrainian?”

“Ukrainian,” Alex confirms. “She works at—” He says the name of a high-end art auction house. Asked what these women are like, he shrugs. “I could offer a résumé, but that’s about it … Works at J. Crew; senior at Parsons; junior at Pace; works in finance … ”

“We don’t know what the girls are like,” Marty says.

“And they don’t know us,” says Alex


“I sort of play that I could be a boyfriend kind of guy,” in order to win them over, “but then they start wanting me to care more … and I just don’t.”


Monday, August 10, 2015

Work work work...

I have to do a painting, complete and ready for sale, in five days.

Anyone who catches me poking around on the innernet between right now and Sunday is encouraged to yell "Get a job, hippie!" at me.


Sunday, August 09, 2015


"Oh, don't eat that! Gimme that! That's not food. Give it... open up!"

"Ow! Hey, stop chewing my feet!"


"Git out of the laundry basket! Gowahn, get out!"

"Hey! No kitties in the kitchen!"

"Nooo... don't climb out the window!"

"Gimme that! That's not a hockey puck!"

"Ouch! Why do you have to play under my skirt?!"

"Oh gross... Don't lick my nose!"

"OK, no chewing my elbow, you little weirdo!"

"Hey, what's with you guys? Why do you all want to sit on my lap at once?"

"Oooo you're so cute! I'm gonna cuddle you... I know you don't like it. I don't care."


Friday, August 07, 2015

Nun campaign

Dear Miss White,

Thank you for posting the link to my begging page. I'm a regular reader of yours, and was just tickled to death to see it up there. It's doubly helpful in that it gives me an excuse to tell you how much I enjoy your writing, in terms of both style and content. I doubt you've read anything of mine, but I've had a few pieces on OnePeterFive, and I must give you credit for helping me continue to develop my style. And on top of all that, your insights into Benedictine spirituality have been such a help to me in my discernment. Words can hardly repay my debt of gratitude, but thank you, thank you!


J. Kidwell

... sigh...

Well now I have to do something for her... dammit! And while I'm all jealous and envious and stuff about her being young enough to apply to this place that didn't even freaking exist when I was the right age. How come she gets good nuns and all I could find was poxy old lesbian peace activists in polyester mumus?!

I'll help, but danged if I'm gonna be gracious about it! I suppose I could take it as a kind of penance for having frittered away my stupid youth going to punker gigs and watching John Hughes movies.

Ugh. I hate being good.

We're going to re-post every few days about Jessica's campaign. I notice that though it's been going for three months, nearly all of the $3000 worth of donations have been in the last five days. So, if you can, do help a girl out. I've replied to her email above and said that if we manage to make this work and she gets in under the deadline, she can be my nunny proxy.


My name is Jessica Kidwell. I’m 22 years old, a recent graduate of the College of William & Mary and hail from Fairfax, Virginia. I have heard God’s call, and I would like to serve Him by joining the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles in Gower, Missouri. I have been admitted to enter there this fall, but that offer is contingent upon me paying all my educational debt first. All told, my debt totaled about $60,000 when I left school. I’m writing you to ask for your prayers and your financial assistance. Even though I have a full time job, a part time job, and take on odd jobs whenever I can get them, it could be years before I have paid off these loans by myself. My goal with this campaign is to raise $30,000.


Hey, did I ever tell y'all the story about the time I met the prioress, Mother Cecilia?

I and some friends were going to the evening Mass at our parish in Rome, Santissima Trinita, and when we got there, the doors were locked (they're terrible slackers at that parish and often just don't care at all about opening up on time.) There were these two Benedictine nuns, both Americans, standing on the steps waiting to get in. They had come a little early so they could sing vespers in the Church before the 6:30 Mass. It turned out it was Mother Cecilia and her subprioress (whose name I forget.)

I introduced myself and my friends and we tried to raise Fr. Kramer (parocco) on the phone to get someone to come down and open the doors, but as usual no one was answering either the cell or the parish landline. So, we gave up and chatted instead. I mentioned that I had wanted desperately to be a Benedictine nun when I was younger, but that there simply were none left in the 80s that weren't completely ruined. She was very sympathetic, and seemed quite sorry that now that I was 48 it was far too late. But as a consolation prize, she pulled out her Antiphonale and I got out my Monastic Diurnal, and we sang the Office hymn for Vespers for the day on the church steps in the little piazza with the people in the coffee bar across watching rather bemused. It was great.

After Mass, my friends and I took them out to the local Chinese place to get some dinner. We had a great time, and I learned that they're totally and completely onside.

I must say, this is about the only time I've ever wished to be 25 again (a thought that normally fills me with horror).


Archdiocese of Toronto wins

You know how I'm always saying that Novusordoism isn't Catholicism? How it's actually a completely different religion with some Catholic-looking stuff tacked on for legitimacy?

Well, the Archdiocese of Toronto gets the O's P Making-My-Point-For-Me prize of the month by coming right out and openly joining the new paganism.

Singing to "Gaia, calling us home," (at 27:33) the Earth Goddess, whom Pope Francis (if we can still call him that) referred to several times in his encyclical as "mother earth". (H/T to Mike Matt at Remnant TV)

Is Nature the focus of your deepest spiritual feelings? Are you looking for a spirituality or religion that focuses on Nature, on saving the Earth, on preserving its habitats and species?

World Pantheism is probably the most clearly earth-focussed of spiritual/religious organizations. Nature is the very heart of our spirituality, which is close to Deep Ecology, Gaia theory, Nature religion, or basic and direct Nature Worship. The simplest way to sum it up is in Michael Gorbachev's phrase "Nature is my god."

Yes, they mean that Mikhail Gorbachev: "I believe in the cosmos. All of us are linked to the cosmos. Look at the sun. If there is no sun, then we cannot exist. So nature is my god. To me, nature is sacred. Trees are my temples and forests are my cathedrals."

Nature worship: you spell it "A.P.O.S.T.A.S.Y."

Want to know why I kind of gave up writing Catholic news? It's because I was finally forced to admit that "activism" - stomping about the world doing things, writing things, organising things, protesting things, saying things - isn't what we need to be doing right now. It's gone way beyond that. Way.

There are some kinds that can only be cast out by prayer and fasting, right Jessica?


Thursday, August 06, 2015

Hilary the Mountaineer!

Well, wasn't *that* an adventure! I duly climbed up Monte Vettore late Monday/early Tuesday. We left the parking area, already high in the Sibillini range above the Piano Grande of Castellucio, at about 11:30 pm and reached the summit at about 4:40 (well, my friend got there about 4:30). The climb up was hard, but coming back down was when I really understood that my knees are much older than my brain.

This is the first time since getting home about lunchtime on Tuesday that I feel able to open my eyes completely. The kitties are very annoyed with me because I ran out of their beloved tinned food yesterday and haven't had the wherewithal to go to the shops, so they've only had dry food since Monday, poor chaps.

My friend dropped me off at home and I forgot in my fog of exhaustion to thank him properly for giving me such an extraordinary experience. I unceremoniously dumped all my stuff in the front hall, had the most perfunctory splash in the bath before falling into bed. And there I more or less stayed until... well, pretty much until this morning.

I'll be working on a Thing about it today.

It looks like this: (my friend's photos will be coming, and will provide proof that I actually did it.)

...At the top it was surreal, like having climbed right out of this world and into another one. What impressed me most, apart from the surreal, dream-like quality of the entire affair, was the silence.
Being August, there was very little wind, and up on the upper slopes there were none of the usual beasties who make up the night time chorus down here. No cicadas, no birds, no insect or any other lively life. So each time we stopped (and yes, it was frequent, thank goodness my friend was very patient) what struck me most was the utter, utter silence, a sound one simply never hears down here in the swamps of dischord we call civilization.

We reached the top under an impossibly brilliant white moon, and by that time we were high enough that it was quite cold, and having done a mountain's worth of exercise, we were damp and there was a bit of wind, enough to create quite a chill. By the time we got to the very, very top, the sky all along the Adriatic horizon was all lighted with a pale, streaky glow. We looked down on the Cities of the Plain, all those towns and villages around Ascoli that are the destination of native Italians for their local holidays. Still, apart from the sounds we made ourselves, talking, setting up camera equipment, taking out snacks, there was no sound at all apart from the wind.

Waiting for the sun as we shivered and made jokes. The Adriatic was all shrouded with fog and the sun took an hour to appear, first as a little streak of brilliant ruby red in the midst of the fog, and then growing to a glowing red disk suspended an inch above the water, but even at that stage becoming hard to look at directly...


Sunday, August 02, 2015

Vocation shortage?

One of the biggest problems in the Church right now is not lack of vocations, it's lack of support for them. And student loan debt is near the top of that list. Add to that the time pressure; nearly all religious orders for women of any reputation at all have an upper age limit. If you don't pay off your student loans before you hit the ceiling, you can forget it.

The Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles is perhaps one of the most painful examples; they're possibly the only viable Benedictine monastery for women in the English speaking world that has retained the traditional Divine Office in Latin and the traditional Mass, but their age limit is one of the lowest: 28. If you have loans in the tens or hundreds of thousands for your (unemployable) arts degree in academic navel-gazing, you're pretty much out of luck.

A very large number of people are not in orders right now because of this.

Go help this lady, if you can find a few extra bucks. But do remember, if you can't pay your kids' way through university, send them to a community college to learn an employable trade. Teach them to love learning, get them addicted to books by all means, turn them into civilized and educated people, but for heaven sake, unless they're natural engineering or math prodigies, help them find a way through life that doesn't start with a crippling lifelong insoluble debt.

My name is Jessica Kidwell. I’m 22 years old, a recent graduate of the College of William & Mary and hail from Fairfax, Virginia. I have heard God’s call, and I would like to serve Him by joining the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles in Gower, Missouri. I have been admitted to enter there this fall, but that offer is contingent upon me paying all my educational debt first. All told, my debt totaled about $60,000 when I left school. I’m writing you to ask for your prayers and your financial assistance. Even though I have a full time job, a part time job, and take on odd jobs whenever I can get them, it could be years before I have paid off these loans by myself. My goal with this campaign is to raise $30,000.

I’m asking for your assistance to pay off my student loan debt. Please consider my situation, and decide if this something you feel you can support. It’s difficult for me to ask others for help, but I realize that I have gotten to this point in my life with the love, support, and kindness of many people.

I’ve wanted to be a nun since I was in the second grade. In school, we were assigned a book report on Saints, and were then to dress up as the Saint and give a presentation about their life. My Saint was St. Clare of Assisi. The more I learned about this holy woman and religious foundress, the more I grew to admire not only her as a person and great Saint, but the concept of contemplative religious life itself. This wasn’t a detached admiration, either; I was utterly taken with the idea and wanted to live it myself. Throughout the rest of my childhood, this desire grew, taking something of a dip in high school, with the realization that not many people become religious nowadays. I earned my bachelor’s degree from the College of William & Mary, a state school, and was on track to graduate with a minimal debt load, but for various reasons, I had to cover a far higher percentage of tuition in loans my last two years. I took a semester of graduate classes, with God pulling at my heart with greater and greater intensity as time went on, before I finally surrendered. I left my Master’s program, threw myself into work, and I am dead set on entering the monastery this fall.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Save all the nature-things!

I like lions. I like whales, cephalopods, glow worms, wildebeests, butterflies and all types of cnidaria. I think the natural world is terribly terribly important, and not just because it's pretty, but mainly because I have to live in it for the rest of my life. I've never thought that being pro-life and being... well... pro-other kinds of life are incompatible. I object pretty strongly to the implication that because I don't like what Planned Parenthood does, I must be someone who doesn't care about other things too.

The whole weird (and dumb) thing with Cecil the Lion, that no one had ever heard of before last week, reminds me of the story of the guy I met in downtown Toronto one day while he was handing out pamphlets for Greenpeace or the World Wildlife Federation or something. I was on my way to the bank, and at the corner of Queen and Bay streets he nabbed me with, "Do you have a moment to talk about the environment?" Being a West Coast environutter at heart, I was happy to chat, so I grinned mischievously and said, "Sure, if you've got a minute for the unborn." (I don't know where this came from, seriously; this is not my style at all, but...)

He looked a little taken aback, but to do him endless credit he didn't start screeching, but only said he didn't understand. I explained what I did (at that time research director for Campaign Life Coalition). He looked rather sad when he said, "Oh, then we are in conflict." I asked him why. He said, "Well, reduction of human population is necessary to save the planet." I asked him how he knew that, and said, "I disagree. I think that setting mankind against the environment - as though he is not part of nature - is what has caused this problem to begin with. I don't see why we can't save the humans and the whales."

We parted on very friendly terms, and after that we saw each other on the downtown Toronto streets fairly regularly and never failed to stop and say hello or wave.

Things don't have to be screechy. They can be explainy instead.