27 October 2011


Sorry the photo is a little blurry. I took it with my brand-new iPod Touch 4G, an early anniversary present from my husband. He thoughtfully had the back inscribed, "MVSICA LAETITIAE COMES MEDICINA DOLORVM." The previous iPod had my name and phone number on the back, but statistically it's unlikely to be returned even with that information. So we have a fun inscription this time, of the sort that's usually written on painted harpsichords and lutes. It will serve just as well to identify it if I accidentally leave it behind at airport security or something.

Anyway...breakfast! Yes, that's what I meant to talk about. This is a picture of my breakfast this morning: pumpkin oatmeal and tea. Isn't the Eeyore mug cute? It contains "O'Sullivan's Favorite" tea from a beautiful little tea shop in Raleigh. Loose-leaf tea, that I make in a proper teapot. The blue and white teapot has a built-in filter, which is quite cool. I've had the teapot for five or six years now, certainly since before I married, but I never used it much. Now I use it almost every day.

Maybe you're curious about the pumpkin oatmeal. Did you know that pumpkin is very good for you? It's high in fiber and Vitamin A, it has a little bit of protein, and it's not very high in calories if you're not putting a bunch of sugar in it to make a pie. Pumpkin oatmeal is very easy. Make your oatmeal as usual--you could probably even do this with the instant kind that you just add boiling water to--and add two tablespoons of mashed pumpkin (I use canned) per serving. Don't use canned pumpkin pie mix (nasty stuff), just plain canned pumpkin. I add raisins and dried cranberries while it is cooking, so the dried fruit plumps up in the hot water. A little brown sugar or maple syrup on top, a little milk, some walnuts or almonds if you need more protein, and it's ready. It takes about ten minutes, maybe less, if you do it on the stovetop with regular oats. I'm sure this would also be good with other kinds of grainy cereal, like that Bob's Red Mill 7 grain hot cereal, but it might be a little weird with Cream of Wheat.

A good, healthy breakfast for a beautiful fall morning.

21 October 2011


We have a parochial vicar from South America. This has been a problem for some people in the parish ever since he arrived.

"Why did they send us a hispanic priest?!" (Maybe because we have a huge hispanic community?)

"I can't understand him!" (Our sound system is lousy. Try sitting at the front of the church instead of at the very back! Also, some people can't understand your accent. Deal with it.)

"Father, are you coming to the Sodality dinner?"
"Um, I don't know. What is a Sodality?"
"And you call yourself a Catholic priest?!" (Yes, he's just not a native English speaker.)

"Why don't you go back to Mexico." (1. He's not from Mexico. 2. He'd like to go home, but he knows we need him here, because you didn't encourage your sons and nephews to think about becoming priests.)

And no, not all of these people are old. Clearly racism is still an issue here.

17 October 2011

Prayers for a Suffering Priest

If you are reading this, please stop and say a prayer for a priest who is suffering. He recently began a very difficult assignment, one that few priests in his diocese would take on willingly. I suspect that even he doesn't do it very willingly, but only because his bishop gave him no choice. He is desperate to leave this situation, already counting down the days until his one year in this assignment will be ended. In the meantime, he does the best he can, but he is depressed and discouraged.

He needs your prayers. All priests need your prayers. Remember especially those who suffer from loneliness and depression, and who are persecuted for doing good work and preaching the faith.

08 October 2011

On Glossolalia

I have several friends who have or have had involvement in the Catholic Charismatic movement. I don't care for it myself, but there is one particular feature that I don't have much patience for: the phenomenon referred to as "speaking in tongues."

Many Charismatics, both Catholic and Protestant, use the term "speaking in tongues" to refer to various noises people make that do not correspond to any human language. They may sound like yodeling, muttering, or like ordinary speech in nonsense syllables. Hardly anyone--either the speakers or others--will claim to be able to interpret these "tongues."

These tongues are presumed to correspond to the phenomenon described in 1 Corinthians 14. But is this really what St. Paul was talking about?

Let's look at what some Church Fathers have to say on the issue. St. John Chrysostom clearly equatesthe gift in 1 Corinthians 14:6 the gift to the Apostles at Pentecost; that is, the gift of speaking in human languages never before studied or spoken by the gifted person. Pope St. Leo the Great also equates the gifts described in 1 Cor. 14 with Pentecost. St. Gregory Nazianzen includes Isaiah 28:11 ("With other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people") in the same category.

Angelic tongues are sometimes mentioned, but when these are spoken, they are still expected to result in rational messages that can be interpreted.

Unintelligible messages (that is, unintelligible in content) are mentioned, and there is some discussion of utterances that cannot be interpreted. These types of utterances are to be kept private, because they are of no value to the community. Standing up in front of a crowd and talking gibberish is not encouraged.

So, if you think you are speaking in an angelic tongue, hook up with someone who has the gift of interpretation. Don't head up to the front of the church, or grab a microphone. If the interpreter can't interpret what you're saying, one of you doesn't have an authentic gift.

If, on the other hand, you suddenly start speaking Mandarin Chinese, or Xhosa, or German, without ever having studied or spoken it before, please seriously consider the possibility that the Holy Spirit is working in you, and may be equipping you for missionary work.