Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

The Catholic Candidates?

If you’ve been following the Republican Presidential Primary, you will notice that faith has played a prominent role in this campaign. And barring Ron Paul from being elected, it will be the first time in a while (ever?) that the Republican Party hasn’t nominated a Protestant. While Gov. Romney’s Mormon faith has been called into question repeatedly, it has forced the Republican Party to come to terms with Catholicism as maybe-not-that-crazy. While I am excited for the embrace of Catholicism, I worry that Senator Santorum and Speaker Gingrich are misrepresenting the faith of the Church.

I do not wish to call into question their faith lives – I cannot ever know what is in someone’s heart, and I would be wrong to attempt to judge them. But I am concerned over their claims that their faith informs their politics, when in reality, besides the issues of gay marriage and abortion, they often take very different stances than the Church. While it is not a requirement for a Catholic or for a candidate to run solely on their Church’s platform, it should give us pause before choosing a candidate because they are Catholic.

On issues such as climate change, the death penalty, illegal immigration, and even gay rights, Senator Santorum and Newt Gingrich have significantly different opinions than those that the U.S. Church encourages.

Here are the players stances on some significant issues in the 2012 campaign:


Everyone opposes.


Catholic Church: Opposes gay marriage.  Source: American Catholic 

Speaker Newt Gingrich: “I helped author DOMA; if it fails, amend Constitution.” (Jun 2011) Source: Issues 2000

Sen. Santorum: “Voted YES on constitutional ban of same-sex marriage.” (Jun 2006) Source: Issues 2000


Catholic Church: Being homosexual is not a choice or a sin, sex outside of marriage is.

On DADT: There isn’t a specific Catholic Church opinion. Cardinal Wuerl Source: WLTX  

- “Some persons find themselves through no fault of their own to have a homosexual orientation. Homosexuals, like everyone else, should not suffer from prejudice against their basic human rights. They have a right to respect, friendship, and justice. They should have an active role in the Christian community.… The Christian community should provide them a special degree of pastoral understanding and care” – To Live in Christ Jesus, 1976 Source: Dignity USA

Speaker Newt Gingrich: Would reinstate DADT. Source: CNN Debate

- Homosexuality is a choice. Source: Huffington Post

Sen. Santorum: Would Reinstate DADT. Source: CNN Debate Voted NO on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes.” (Jun 2002) Source: Issues 2000

- Homosexuality is a choice. Source: CBS News


Catholic Church: Believes evolution is compatible with Christianity. Source: Telegraph

Speaker Newt Gingrich: “Both [Evolution and Creationism] can be true. I don’t think there is necessarily a conflict between the two.” Source:  New York Magazine 

Sen. Santorum: “Expose kids to legitimate debate of evolution & creationism. (Mar 2005)” Source: Issues 2000


Catholic Church: Global warming, he said, “will impact first and foremost the poorest and weakest who, even if they are among the least responsible for global warming, are the most vulnerable because they have limited resources or live in areas at greater risk.” - Archbishop Migilore Source: Catholic  Online 

- “Care for the earth and for the environment is a moral issue. Protecting the land, water, and air we share is a religious duty of stewardship and reflects our responsibility to born and unborn children, who are most vulnerable to environmental assault.” Source: Forming Consciences for a Faithful Citizenship

Speaker Newt Gingrich: Doubts global warming. Source: Huffington Post 

- “Koto treaty is bad for the environment and bad for America.” (Dec 2006) Source: Issues 2000

Sen. Santorum: “There is no such thing as global warming.” Source: Huffington Post 

- “Voted NO on including oil & gas smokestacks in mercury regulations. (Sep 2005), Rated 0% by the League of Conservationist Voters, indicating anti-environment votes.” (Dec 2003) Source: Issues 2000


Catholic Church: “Comprehensive reform is urgently necessary to fix a broken immigration system and should include a temporary work program with worker protections and a path to permanent residency; family reunification policies; a broad and fair legalization program; access to legal protections, including due process and essential public programs; refuge for those fleeing persecution and exploitation; and policies to address the root causes of migration.” Source: Forming Consciences for a Faithful Citizenship

Speaker Newt Gingrich: “I voted for Reagan’s legal guest worker program.” (Sep 2011), Sue the federal government for every cent spent on illegals. (Nov 2011) Source: Issues 2000

Sen. Santorum: “Voted NO on establishing a Guest Worker program, giving guest workers citizenship.” (May 2006) Source: Issues 2000

- “Catholic bishops working for immigration reform are wrong to do so.” Source: Christian Post


Catholic Church: The Catholic Church opposes the death penalty in nearly all cases, and Pope John Paul II often speaks out against capital punishment” Source: American Catholic 

Speaker Newt Gingrich: “Voted NO on replacing death penalty with life imprisonment. (April 1994)” Source: Issues 2000

Sen. Santorum: “Voted YES on limiting death penalty appeals. (Apr 1996), Voted NO on replacing death penalty with life imprisonment. (Apr 1994)” Source: Issues 2000


Catholic Church: Affordable and accessible health care is an essential safeguard of human life and a fundamental human right. With an estimated 47 million Americans lacking health care coverage, it is also an urgent national priority.  Source: Forming Consciences for Faithful Citzenship

Speaker Newt Gingrich: “Repeal ObamaCare; sign tort reform instead. (Feb 2011)” Source: Issues 2000

Sen. Santorum: “ Liberal states won’t waive ObamaCare; we must repeal it. (Oct 2011)” Sources: Issues 2000

Catholic Church:  The Roman Catholic Church, led by Pope John Paul II, opposed the U.S.-led war in Iraq. Source: American Catholic
Speaker Newt Gingrich: “Gingrich was a powerful advocate both for the idea of invading Iraq and for the botched way in which it was done.” Source:  Washington Post- “Goal was to liberate Iraq from Saddam, not to occupy.” (Dec 2007) Source: Issues 2000Sen. Santorum: “Voted YES on authorizing use of military force against Iraq. (Oct 2002), Voted NO on redeploying troops out of Iraq by July 2007. (Jun 2006)” Source: Issues 2000

While not all of the politicians’ stances are directly opposed to the Church’s, they are nonetheless concerning in many areas. Additionally, these are only issues where the Church has taken a direct opinion on. Others which are more unique to the United States, such as food stamps, there are not specific statements, however we know the Church has a record of favoring the poor, encouraging the rich to contribute to a better society, and protecting the least amongst us. Additionally, the Church believes that all we do must be done in love. Vitriolic lashing out and favoring donors over citizens is not in the spirit of Christianity.
There are many reasons to vote for a candidate and not to vote for them. The Catholic Church does not require it’s faithful to follow these positions, we are free to vote as we see morally fit. But let us let our faith inform our politics, not let our party dictate how we express our faith.

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I’m not going to apologize for being successful. – Mitt Romney

Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” – Matthew 19:21

We’ve been watching a lot of HGTV lately. By “we” I mean I when I get the remote first. We’re moving sometime after we graduate, and I am more than ready for a new place. Two years in JVC, two years of grad school have meant living on our minimum. Not that I regret it – I’ll be 25, debt-free, and with a Master’s degree because of these decisions. But I’m ready for a salary,  for an apartment larger than 512 square feet.  I want a place with a second bathroom and a dishwasher and a washer and dryer. I want a house with an open floor plan, granite countertops, an outdoor fireplace, and a landscaped backyard.

I want to live a life that’s comfortable. I want that for about five minutes, and then I want more. I want a Subaru so we can get around in the winter. I want to buy a house. I want to travel to Europe, to Africa. I want to buy Merino wool and go out to fancy restaurants. It’s not going to happen any time soon, but I still want it.

Now I know all about needs vs wants and living within your means. We have no plans on going into debt getting stuff we don’t need. But my husband is going to be a lawyer, I will have a Master’s degree, and so by virtue of being a) married, b) having relatively little school debt and c) having advanced degrees – I know that we aren’t going to be living this close to the poverty line for much longer. We’ll do well, and while I doubt we’ll ever be fabulously wealthy, barring any unforeseen circumstances – one day we will be well off.

But are we ever supposed to be? I compare those two quotes above and wonder. This country has taught us that we are supposed to do well, supposed to be successful, supposed to be more than comfortable. We can justify it all we want – we want a great job to provide for our kids and send them to college. We make lots of money, but we give some to charity. We make a lot, but we earned it.

But that’s not what the statement below says. sell your possessions. give the money to poor.

I feel as if we are trying to create a middle ground that does not exist. Wealthy by this country’s standards or not, most of us are living in the top 5% of the world (don’t believe me?). I don’t know how much more comfortable I can expect life to get.

So what do I do? Justify our (not yet existent) wealth by saying we will one day have a family? Try to live without anything we don’t need? Volunteer our time and talents? Be sure to say how we have worked for what we have, or talk about how fortunate and blessed we are? Sell all we have?

Please tell me; I honestly don’t know.

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Today I was going to write a post on how Sen. Santorum and Speaker Gingrich’s insistence that their Catholic faith informs their politics upsets me as I believe it is inaccurate, but I got a little side-tracked.  One of the lies I here perpetuated over and over again by Catholics is that it is immoral and a sin to vote for a pro-choice candidate. It’s not. And that’s not just my personal opinion, but that of the Church’s US authority, the United States Council of Catholic Bishops.

So you know where I’m coming from on this: Am I pro-life? Yes Iam. But I don’t believe in most legal measures to address the issue. The Supreme Court has ruled it constitutional, and so voting for a candidate who happens to be pro-life isn’t going to change that. Even if everyone in in the House and Senate were pro-life, they would be unable to pass a law that outlaws abortion because the Supreme Court has decided that would be unconstitutional.

So instead, I think non-legislative avenues are the best for avoiding abortions. Promoting adoption. Providing childcare to single mothers. Not mocking teen moms. Empowering women. Better yet, these are things both sides of the aisle can generally agree on.

Doing some research for my Santorum-Gingrich article (which I will post at some point – stay tuned), I came upon this article on the Catholic TV station, EWTN website: http://www.ewtn.com/vote/brief_catechism.htm that suggested that under no circumstances Catholics may vote for a “pro-abortion” candidate.

In the USCCB’s “Forming Consciences for a Faithful Citizenship” it details the considerations US Catholics should make. While the article suggests that abortion is a trump-all issue, the USCCB says, ” Racism and other unjust discrimination, the use of the death penalty, resorting to unjust war, the use of torture,4 war crimes, the failure to respond to those who are suffering from hunger or a lack of health care, or an unjust immigration policy are all serious moral issues that challenge our consciences and require us to act. These are not optional concerns which can be dismissed.” 

Furthermore, the USCCB says:

There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate’s unacceptable position may decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons. Voting in this way would be permissible only for truly grave moral reasons, not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences or to ignore a fundamental moral evil.While the article suggests that an candidates positions on other issues cannot outweigh their position on abortion, the USCCB says the opposite: 

It goes on to say:“When all candidates hold a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, the conscientious voter faces a dilemma. The voter may decide to take the extraordinary step of not voting for any candidate or, after careful deliberation, may decide to vote for the candidate deemed less likely to advance such a morally flawed position and more likely yo pursue other authentic human goods.”

You may wonder what is considered a “grave reason.”

According to the USCCB it includes:“It is important for our society to continue to combat discrimination based on race, religion, sex, ethnicity, disabling condition, or age, as these are grave injustices and affronts to human dignity.”

The author of the article states that “For this reason, moral evils such as abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide are examples of a “disqualifying issue.” A disqualifying issue is one which is of such gravity and importance that it allows for no political maneuvering.” This is a misinterpretation of the USCCB’s teaching, which states that “a candidate’s position on a single issue that involves an intrinsic evil, such as support for legal abortion or the promotion of racism, may legitimately lead a voter to disqualify a candidate from receiving support.” I emphasize “may” because it is not an absolute as the author suggests.

Furthermore, it says that the issue may lead a voter to decide to not vote for them. It does not say that the Church requires it or considers that person ultimately unacceptable.It is damaging that the author suggests that it is necessary to vote only on a single issue when the USCCB urges the opposite: “As Catholics we are not single-issue voters. A candidate’s position on a single issue is not sufficient to guarantee a voter’s support.” 

Most conclusively, the USCCB says that Catholics may only not vote for a pro-choice candidate if their attention is to advance that specific cause. They very clearly state that their opposition to abortion cannot outweigh or be used to justify other immoral actions (such as supporting wars, racism, injustices against the poor, sexism, death penalty, etc.):

“A Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who takes a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, such as abortion or racism, if the voter’s intent is to support that position. In such cases a Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in grave evil. At the same time, a voter should not use a candidate’s opposition to an intrinsic evil to justify indifference or inattentiveness to other important moral issues involving human life and dignity.”

This article as it is factually inaccurate, sites no sources other than the author’s personal opinion, goes against Catholic teaching, and is extremely misleading. It makes me sad that we still try to manipulate people to do something out of the fear that they are sinning rather than by following the Church’s teachings.

If you are not a Catholic and reading this, please know that despite what you might here in the media and the things people tell you, our Church at its core does not stand for bigotry, hate, manipulation, discrimination, racism, sexism, favoring the rich over the poor, or the destruction of our environment. Be skeptical when someone (inside or outside) of the Church tells you it does. We believe in a God who loves and forgives, who lifts up and protects. When you hear otherwise, please know that is not what we stand for.

*Sorry for all the wonky font changes on this post. WordPress baffles me.

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Day in the life: Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone! Or should I say Mele Kalikimaka, but more on that later.

Jenna who writes at That Wife had the idea of having her readers document their Christmas Eves and Christmas days and share them. I liked the idea and thus decided to play along. Plus I’m laid up in bed with cramps that leave me with nothing to do but complain.

This was my first Christmas with my in laws so I will be sharing hat that was like as well as what Christmas is like for Catholics. I realize being Catholic isn’t incredibly unique but we do a few things differently that I thought would be fun to share.

In typical Jackie-fashion my camera broke and so we have instagram photos for you to enjoy of one megapixel or less. Welcome to 1999!

Christmas Eve

Most of the day we just took it easy. Shopping had been wrapped up weeks (okay days) before and the wrapping was well, also wrapped up.

We did crosswords, a weekend ritual at my in-laws.


“In-law” sounds so cold and formal, doesn’t it? I usually just say “John’s folks” but that’s longer to write out.

I got the hankering to bake, a Christmas eve ritual with my family (that is, family-of-origin family). We usually make spritz cookies but John, his sister and I made blondie bars.


The first caramel batch was a disaster which I think came from my suggestion to cook it on low heat. So I made butterscotch which was a bit on the rich side.


After our baking adventure, we went to Mass. Catholics always go to church on Christmas since it is one of the holiest days of the year. Catholic “days” work similarly to the Jewish calendar – they begin at sundown. So you have the option of going on the feast day itself or the night before, which is called the “vigil” mass. Traditionally, many people go to what is called the “Midnight Mass” which used to begin at midnight but now more commonly ends then. John’s family’s tradition is to go to the children’s mass at 4:30. Although churches may have five or six masses in the weekend, you still have to get there pretty early to find a seat. This is how full it was about 45 minutes before:


By the time mass started it was jam packed with tons of people in overflow seating.

In case you are wondering what midnight mass is like, it’s pretty similar to other Sunday masses with an extra element of festivity. We have spent the last month recognizing Advent, a season where we focus on waiting in hope, something we can all relate to no matter our religious beliefs. Christmas (which is actually a season which lasts 12 days) is the first time we sing carols or really celebrate since Advent is a bit more somber. The mass features readings on the arrival of God’s love and justice as well as, of course, the Christmas story. The children of the parish acted out the story dressed as angels and sheep and a couple of innkeepers who looked like Star Trek extras in their costumes.


At Christmas we are basically celebrating three things: the birth of Christ, his future return, and light in the darkness. The reason we celebrate in such a dark and desolate time of the year is to remember that even the tiniest bit of light, of hope can help get us through to the spring.

When we got back from Mass we decorated the tree:



Ate dinner.

And played games.


And went to bed.
Christmas Day

Our Christmas was also pretty laid back. Since we had gone to church the day before, we just woke up and unwrapped presents that morning.

Here’s the aftermath:


John gave me a beautiful tea pot from our favorite restaurant , Caffe Dolce and a necklace. I got him a Notre Dame hat and something that hasn’t arrived yet and I’m kinda p. o.’d about it.

After gifts we had breakfast, Eggs Benedict and a German apple pancake John and I made.

Again, the aftermath:


Then we left to drive to Helena to visit the rest of John’s family.


After dinner and more present opening, we came home. While I missed the traditions in my family, it was nice to see some new ones. And ultimately it’s not how we wrap the present, but what is at the heart of it.


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Merry Christmas

We wish you a bright and merry Christmas.

I love that we wish each other “merry” Christmas. More than just happy, but full of joy, peace, and goodwill as well. Wherever this Christmas finds you – with family, working, alone, with friends, or at the movie theater enjoying the short lines, we pray that you are full of comfort and joy.

Dona nobis pacem.

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Most of you are probably pretty familiar with the concept of Advent, particularly in the form of calendars and little chocolate candies:

Advent Calendar

The Catholic Church recognizes “seasons,” or different times of the year where we focus on different spiritual elements. It gives a rhythm and flow to worship and mirrors the natural cadence of the world. A time to celebrate, a time to mourn, a time to reflect, a time to rest, a time to work, a time to enjoy.

The four weeks prior to Christmas are the season of Advent. While most of society recognizes this time as “Christmastime,” in the Church, Christmas and Advent are two separate things. The Christmas season extends from after Christmas to January 6th, or the feast of the Epiphany, thus the “Twelve Days of Christmas.” According to the USCCB, Advent has two main purposes:

The Advent season is a time of preparation that directs our hearts and minds to Christ’s second coming at the end of time and also to the anniversary of the Lord’s birth on Christmas.

So while in one respect it is the time for preparing for Christmas, it is mostly the time where we reflect on how Christ will come again. To be perfectly honest, that concept is too overwhelming/incomprehensible/frightening/foreign for me to spend too much time reflecting on. But the idea of waiting, preparing, hoping for something more, something better is one I can fully understand.

So how do Catholics recognize Advent? It will vary from family to family, but there are a few traditions.

Advent Wreath

Parishes and many families will light an advent wreath. One candle is lit every week (the pink candle is for the third week) until Christmas, at mass for parishes and during dinner for families. I searched high and low for purple and pink candles, and came up with none so we do not have an advent wreath this year.


The Empty Manger

Another Advent tradition you might see is a nativity scene displayed sans baby Jesus. Probably because Catholics are such heathen Mary-worshipers that they totally forgot about “the reason for the season,” right? Actually, it is done to emphasize the idea of waiting for the Christ child to come. On Christmas Eve, Jesus is place in the nativity. Many households or churches do the same with the Three Kings, starting them far away from the nativity and slowly advancing the troupe until the twelfth day of Christmas.

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

If you happen to find yourself in a Catholic parish during Advent, you might notice that they only sing one Christmas carol – O Come, O Come Emmanuel. The theme of Advent is anticipation, which is at the heart of this song.

Here’s something I just learned this year. There are actually seven verses to this song, each singing of a prophesy and title for the Messiah: O come, o come Emmanuel, O Wisdom, O Lord and Ruler, O Root of Jesse, O Key of David, O Dawn of the East, O King of the Gentiles. These are known as the “O Antiphons” and are prayed through on Dec. 17th-Dec 23rd.

Of course there are the more common Christmas activities – decorating, baking, buying gifts, sending cards. But these are some of the things that make Advent its own unique season.

Does your faith tradition recognize Advent? How do you prepare for the Holidays?

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Disclaimer: I am not trying to minimize the pain of the families who have to go through a funeral service with WBC right outside. Their actions are despicable, and I am trying to find a way to view them in a postive light.

Dear Westboro Batpist Church,

If you aren’t busy on the day that I die, I was wondering if you would please picket my funeral. I have no plans to die any time soon, and I hope to God that you are disbanded by the time I do, but on the off-chance I meet an untimely death or you are still active on this earth in 60+ years, I hope you will stop by.

Not because I want you there. I don’t. Well, really, I don’t care because I’ll be dead. But I hate the idea of you bothering my family and friends as they mourn their loss. Your colorful and hate-filled signs are more at place on internet-joke sites than at somber, faith-filled events such as funerals.

So while I’m sure my family would prefer to go without seeing  you at my funeral, I’d be honored if you attend. Not because of any choice you make (I couldn’t really care less about that), but hopefully about choices I make in my life.

You see, I hope I live a life that makes you angry. In my faith, we are called to be saints – people who follow Christ’s will, love the poor, help the disadvantaged, accept outcasts, fight for justice, spread the gift of God’s love.  And it seems to me that the people whose funerals you protest are ones that have done just that.

You have protested soldiers and others who have fought for freedom. Those who have died from injustices due to the hateful prejudices in this country. You have protested artists and religious leaders. You have protested victims of all sorts, from the Holocaust to tornadoes to senseless acts of violence.

I want to fight for these victims, and to do it so well that it makes you furious. I want to speak out for those you speak against, to love those you hate. I want to be a peacemaker, one who hungers and thirsts for justice, merciful, clean of heart, persecuted for justice’s sake.

I hope to honor God. And while this might take a long time, I want to learn to love you. To forgive you. But most of all, I want to forget you. I want to forget that we live in a world that practices so much hate in the name of a God that preached only love. I don’t want my children to forget, I want my children to never even have to know that world. I want them to read about you in history books and to not be able to comprehend a world with that type of hate and discrimination.

But if that doesn’t happen, and you decide to attend my funeral, I hope they welcome you with open arms as a sign of a life well lived.



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This is the third week of Advent, the one marked by the pretty pink candle on the wreath. That means this Sunday is known as Gaudete Sunday, which means “rejoice.”

As in, “Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel….”

Advent is about not only waiting, but enjoying the wait. And so we decorate. But since we’re in grad school and try to live simply so we try to do it as cheap as possible.

And my goal (as is the goal of any good blogger) is to make me look awesome so you can secretly hate me.  Don’t worry though…my photography skills will always leave you feeling superior.

This is a dried apple wreath, which looks/sounds way harder than it was. I got a twig wreath from a thrift store for $2 (don’t you hate when people give directions for how to do/make something thrifty and the only reason it’s cheap is because they got something awesome at a thrift store that you’ll never find at a thrift store? Yup.), chopped up some apples and dried them in an oven and glued them to the wreath. Here’s way better directions. Though skip the cinnamon part because that makes them look dirty.

So my first venture into wreath making left me thirsting for more. So after a few hours of studying looking at Martha Stewart online, I found all sorts of fancy wreaths. Like one made out of glass ball ornaments. That we got from Goodwill. For about four bucks for all of them. Hate me yet?

So super easy, right? You read the directions – glue tops of ornaments to balls, shape wire hanger, string balls on hanger. Ta da? So  easy, right? Here’s what they don’t tell you.

1. Actually glue the tops of ornaments to the ball. Really. Because you’ll test the tops and they’ll feel fine so you’ll do the whole wreath and then half of the ornaments will snap off because when those little buggers hit up against each other they’ll twist right out of the their little wire hooks.

2. How to hang one of these. I used fishing wire and I’m sure it’ll come crashing down sometime in the middle of the night when I’ve forgotten I’d hung it on the other side of our bedroom wall. Your guess is as good as mine. I stuck a ball on top of the hook to make it look classy. Cause nothing says classy like goodwill ornaments on wood panelling.

I feel like these are too pinterest-y for me (the pics don’t do them justice). I had some organza ribbon left over from wreath 1, so I googled some things to do with organza. Basically to make these all you have to do is cut out some flower shapes from the organza and then wait for it…

wait for it…

hold it over a flame.

Yup. Crafts that involve fire are the best kind of crafts.

(P.S. I really hate “crafting” but my elbow still hurts too much for knitting. And also family – none of you are getting knitted present for Christmas).

Anyway, when you hold these little flowers over a flame they get all scrunch and crunchy and awesome. (And the organza ribbon was only $2.50.)

And this brings us lastly to our Christmas tree.

Last year we bought a little potted tree that didn’t fair to well when we visited my parents over break. We liked the idea of always having the tree from our first Christmas together, and so we thought we’d try again year two and just tell the story as if it was our first Christmas. This is a Norfolk Pine and apparently is less likely to die.

And dead Christmas decorations are definitely a kill-gaudete.

(See what  I did there?)

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Every day (okay, almost every day) I go to work. And typically, I do my work and then come home. Occasionally I check Twitter too.

But I don’t sing Christmas carols at work.

I come home, hang a wreath on my door, put up our 2-3 Christmas decorations, light our advent wreath (okay if we had an advent wreath. Apparently no where in Missoula sells pink or purple candles), read my advent devotion, and call it good. In the next few weeks we will shop for the food bank, buy angel tree gifts, visit family, go to mass, pray, reflect, build snowmen, bake cookies and probably watch Love Actually.

This more or less goes on at home. Because that’s where my faith comes from. That’s where I was taught it, and where I will teach it. And while I may live it out in the world, I don’t need to get my nourishment there.

By the same logic, I don’t know how necessary it is to celebrate Christmas in schools. Although some people think so:

When we have our own little children (who might be going to Catholic school but for sake of the argument, let’s pretend  like we are subjecting them to public school like I was. Horror), we plan on teaching them in the same way. Really, Catholic school or not, my husband I expect to be the ones who will teach our children about their faith. We’re not going to rely on Christmas tree coloring pages or classroom sing alongs to teach them about the mysteries of Christmas. So if the school decides to forego those to respect those who aren’t in the majority, it’ll be fine.

Because we will teach them at home.

And really, even if you do strip away all celebrations of Christmas or any other holiday in schools, will it matter? Will Christmas still come?

If a Grinch can’t stop it, I don’t think heathen-liberals probably can either.

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The War on Xmas

I love the phrase “The War on Christmas.” It’s so absurdly inflammatory, contradictory to the very idea of Christmas (peace on earth, goodwill to men, even those men who disagree with you), and most of all implies some sort of need to play defense, which unless you do all your shopping on Black Friday also seems fairly un-Christmasy.

But what bugs me most of all about the “War on Christmas” is when people declare that any use of the term “Xmas” is an attempt to take Christ out of Christmas.

Cross him right out! We don’t need him! Bring on Santa (who is a Christian saint but that’s inconvenient to mention so we’ll ignore it)! And elves! Presents! General hedonism!

Off topic, but do you realize we are also trying to take the CROSS out of traffic! Hello! More war on Christianity! 

Anyway, if you’ve known me for 8+ years, you will know that my freshman year of college I thought taking intro to Ancient Greek was a really, really good idea. I was a religion major after all and needed a language credit.  I didn’t happen to realize that the Greek class offered was actually classical (Attic) Greek and not what is known as New Testament (Koine) Greek. Basically, Attic Greek is so absurdly hard that people had given up speaking it 2,000 years ago. Because it’s HORRIBLE. And I almost failed it. I didn’t – I got a proud C (my only C ever thankyouverymuch) but still. Take any Greek lessons I give you from here on out with a grain of salt.

Back to this war on Christmas and heathens’ desire to take the Christ out of Christmas.  Guess what? It ain’t so. “X” is not the crossing out of Christ, rather it is the Greek letter “Chi,” the first letter of Christ (Christos) in Greek. In the ancient church, Chi Rho (the first two letters) were often used as an abbreviation for Christ. Perhaps you’ve seen this around:

“Xmas” basically just means “Christ-mas,” perhaps an even better reminder that what we are celebrating is Christ. So rest easy, my friends, we can put down our battle axes for another day and fear not that we are losing in the war on Christmas.

Plus we will need to keep them extra sharp so we can chop down all those “holiday” trees in public buildings. Who do they think they are…



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