Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Divine Praises

Happy Advent

I am now well along in my recovery from bilateral hip replacement. It's only been seven weeks and I"m already beginning to walk without a cane.

Immediately after surgery, I experienced almost no pain. I was in awe. For the first two days, I couldn't get to my feet without starting to cry. After two years of what felt like labour pain, the relief was truly blessed.

My post op week was spent in a crowded three bed ward. The other women in the room were lovely, but the hospital was old and not designed for modern equipment. I think anyone with serious cluastrophobia would have had real trouble there!

The care was excellent, however, so I had few complaints...except for the food. Not much there to pique a flagging apetite!

One week after my surgery, I was transferred to the rehab facility of our local hospital. This was really welcome. It was much closer to home, so my family could visit more easily. It is also a lovely, new facility. As a bonus, I even had a private room for the first week.

Almost the first thing I discovered at the rehab unit was that the food was excellent. Such a relief. As I ended up spending three weeks in this unit, that quality became very important.

My first week was glorious. After one day of feeling a bit lonely, I realized that now that I was feeling a bit better (I had been very tired due, in part, to a very low post-op hemoglobin level) I could pursue my reading and have a bit of a private retreat. I plunged into reading some of the classics of Catherine Doherty, foundress of Madonna House. Bogoroditza, Urodivoi, and Molchany were the books I chose. I would recommend any of them.

At one point during this week, I so wanted to recite the Divine Praises. Among all the books I had brought with me, I did not have a copy anywhere. And I sure don't have them memorized.

At the beginning of my second week, my left leg, which had had more work done on it and which had been in far worse shape leading into surgery, started to hurt. This pain grew until it was considered a good idea to take x-rays to ensure there was no problem with my new hip. All appeared fine, so we just had to treat it symptomatically. Now, nearly two months post-op, the leg still hurts frequently, although I can work through it most times. It is going to take a lot more work to bring it up to where the right leg seems to be!

I have had so many praying for me. I am so thankful! Many people referred to my surgery and seemingly quick recovery as a miracle. I can only agree.

In Canada, it seems bilateral hip replacement is unusual. I felt a bit like a minor celebrity. I had people sticking their heads in my room saying "There's the lady who had both hips done!"
I am told this procedure is more common in the US.

I would not have done it any differently. I cannot imagine recovering from having one hip done, and needing to rely on the "not done" hip to support the new one. I am sure that in the case of having had my right leg done first, it would have immediately been in better shape than the non-operated left hip! As it was, with two new hips, I was on my feet within 24 hours. Had I not been so anemic, with the resultant nausea and dizzyness, I would have been doing a fair bit of walking...with a walker of course!

I am still receiving outpatient physiotherapy twice a week, plus exercises I do at home. This will have me, I am told, walking without a limp within another month or so.

Blessed be God!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Let Him be Anathema!

Well, it's happened.

I suppose it had to, given my propensity for speaking out against abuse in the Catholic Church. What is interesting is that this reaction was not due to something I said, but something my husband said.

Or rather, something he requested. This is something I have requested in the past myself.

My husband has been "suggested" to leave the church. The word 'church' was written with a small 'c', so I suppose this may have meant parish. For it to be otherwise is absolutely ludicrous!

I can say that we certainly have no plans to leave the church or the Church. Our quirky little chapel in our quirky diocese has been our spiritual home for nearly a dozen years. Our work in the diocese itself goes back much farther.

We have outlasted one bishop, several chancellors, and almost innumerable priests and PAs. The number of volunteer hours we have clocked is also innumerable. This is nothing in which to boast, but shows our commitment to doing our best to make the chapels work as well as we can.

We do not try to extend our own agenda. We both try hard to to make 'our' agenda that which the Church itself seeks. As we have learned things over the years, we have become more confident in expressing the Church's teaching, especially where we believe we see it being misstated.

So, what got us 'suggested' to leave? My husband merely pressed the point, with the appropriate official, that no documentation supporting a particular liturgical anomaly perpetrated by our diocese was forthcoming when we asked to see it. We have been told that permission has been given, but nothing in writing has followed. According to the document "Redemptionis Sacramentum" we have a right to ask for and receive such information.

Why we question the statement is that Rome has stated and restated that this practice is not licit. While it does not invalidate the Mass, it is a practice which is not to be done. By our estimation, Rome has covered all the loopholes.

We aren't sure right now if this latest brush fire will be taken to a higher 'court'. It could be interesting!

God Bless and Happy Advent.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Light at the End of the Tunnel


Well I am in the midst of final preparations for surgery. It is a venture into the great unknown for me.

Ultimately I hope to have relief from the pain I have been living with for more than two years, as well as a substantial increase in mobility.

But of course, this end is not an absolute certainty.

I am not really feeling anxious at this point. I slept well last night, for me.

I have received the Anointing of the Sick, one of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church, and one I had not received before.

I have some good spiritual reading packed, as well as my Liturgy of the Hours, which I have to admit has been neglected this year. Between bouts of physical therapy, I'll have lots to keep me busy.

My friends have been asked to pray for my surgery and recovery. It will be a long haul. Bi-lateral hip replacements are rarely done, but will be attempted in my case. Let's just get this over with!

I will be praying for my family who will be on their own for a while. In truth, I haven't exactly been a lot of help the past while. They'll do well, I'm sure.

If there is one thing I've learned through this, it is that there is very little that cannot be done by someone other than myself!

Stepping down from things I enjoy doing because I have had to admit that either my condition stole my enjoyment, or that I could no longer do a particular thing, has been humbling, and a reality check!

Being on the sidelines has given me a different perspective on nearly everything.

What do I look forward to? Well, assuming no complications, I look forward to: being able to clip my own toenails, taking walks with my family, taking a shower without dreading the climb out of the tub. Funny the things you miss! Raking leaves, hanging clothes on the clothesline...

I want some of my life back! Yes, some. I have slowed down, and with my personality I will have to be wary of diving back in and forgetting the lessons I've learned.

God has been good. I have managed, I think, to avoid self-pity. I suppose someone other than me might be a better judge of that. As St. Paul tells us, we can join our sufferings to those of Jesus on the Cross.

If you have to hurt, I think it is a blessing to be able to make the hurt work for someone!

Well, I should go and finish packing.

God Bless

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Greetings in Christ

Last weekend, I was at a local vendor's show with my Catholic books. It was a washout and I barely covered my costs.

One of my first visitors, however, was a fellow from another booth. He seemed to know what he was looking at and we began to chat.

It turns out, he is the Anglican husband of a Lutheran minister. He was pleasant, but began to talk about the Catholic parish near his wife's church. He made some mildly disparaging remarks about the priest, recently retired, from the village.

What really got me irritated though, was his cavalier mention that the church did not collapse when he and his wife received (took?) Communion at the Mass celebrating the Catholic priest's retirement. He said that the sister who gave him Communion was not struck by lightening for doing so.

I decided I didn't like this fellow much, even if he was a bibliophile.

I do not tend to be quick with a reply to commentary such as this fellow provided. Later, it occurred to me that telling him that the gates of Hell would not prevail against the Church, so it is entirely reasonable that their illicit reception of Communion would not cause thunderbolts or earthquakes. It does not mean that their illicit reception was of no consequence.

As for the Sister who was a minister of Holy is not her place to say who is or is not eligible to receive.

To me, this man's attitude, and I suppose that of his wife, is simply bad manners. Imposing his beliefs, which apparently are that intercommunion is right and good, on the Catholic Church which clearly teaches otherwise while he is present at Mass, is just not nice!

Maybe next time something like this happens, I will be faster off the mark to respond.

God Bless

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Flow of consciousness

Hi Folks

Today I opened a fresh bottle of a new spice blend. I was transported back...about 17 years as I remember. Daughter #3 was a small baby.

One of the civilians my husband worked with was having a party and invited us. He was a pleasant fellow, and going out was a big treat for us, as a Private's salary was meager...and we had three children!

We arrived at the party to find that we knew no one. Well, I knew no one. My husband did know another guest, a young officer, who was there. Everyone else seemed to be college instructors or students.

To say that I felt like a fish out of water was putting it mildly. Because I had brought the baby, I was treated a bit like a leper. She was quiet, and even when she was awake, she was relatively immobile, so it was not going to pose a problem. Besides, I did not leave my babies at home! This was a group of people who did not have babies...or never did. I often felt like ALL I did was babies. Not exactly one of the 'beautiful people'.

After a while, one of the young students commented to me on how 'innocuous' the baby was. To this day I'm sure he meant "inconspicuous". I hope he did!

We found ourselves sitting more or less in a circle and people were telling their travel stories as magazines were being circulated. Now, we had absolutely nothing to say. We had been nowhere further than Portland, Oregon, and for a religious event at that!

I will forever ask blessings for the woman who sat beside me. I do not recall her name. She obviously picked up on my discomfort. She leaned into me and asked "If you could go anywhere, where would you go?" Can I tell you how much I learned from that question?

Making people at ease is a gift worth cultivating. That I still remember this incident after all that has happened in the intervening years shows what an impact it had! I pray that I may be so accomodating to 'fish' that I come across!

So, where does the spice fit in? It's really not a big deal. Later that evening, for reasons I do not recall, our host passed around a spice blend he particularly liked and asked opinions as to what was in it. This was an area where I had some competance, but ultimately, no one, including myself remembers what I thought about the spice.

But I will never forget the woman who sat beside me.

God bless

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Day to day Catholicism

Good Morning

I have recently had cause to think about some of the "little" things Catholics do because they are Catholic.

Some of these appear to be regional beliefs. I would welcome additions or explanations anyone cares to send my way.

I was recently at a wedding. It was out of town and a group of us were driving there together. The weather was "iffy" and we knew the wedding was to take place outdoors. One of our friends, who grew up in the area, said that she should have put her beads on the clothesline.

My husband looked at me quizzically. I told him that this was a local (as far as I know, anyway) custom. To ensure good weather for a wedding, women hung their rosary beads on the clothesline. Uh-huh said dh.

Not too long ago, a friend was talking about selling her house. She said she'd buried a statue of St. Joseph in her garden and the house sold quickly. Uh-huh...said the priest. Actually, I've heard that the statue must be buried upside down, according to the protocol for this practice. I told the priest that there are actually house-selling kits which include a statue of poor St. Joe.

Last week, my daughter was talking to an adult friend. I am not sure where the friend grew up, but when my daughter spoke about swimming, her friend expressed surprise. When she was growing up, they did not go swimming outside until St. Jean Baptiste Day (St. John the Baptist) after the priest had blessed the lake.

I'm sure everyone has seen the "ads" run in newspapers thanking various saints for "favours receieved". These notes are usually run for several days.

Some of these practices may cross the line between devotion and superstition. I have no problem with someone publically announcing favours received through the intercession of a particular saint, but does it have to happen nine times? My personal preference, if I were selling a house, would be to ask St. Joseph to pray for us as we did this. If I had a statue of him, I would NOT bury it, but display it somewhere. In my book business, which is entirely Catholic, I do not sell the St. Joseph's house selling kits.

Some of these practices are charming, although I do fear for those who do not look deeper into their faith. As long as these practices do not comprise the bulk of ones faith, I do not think they can cause harm. Kinda like wearing a scapular...

God Bless

Sunday, June 01, 2008


Hi Folks

Not long ago, we were out of town. Our hotel thoughtfully supplied us with a copy of the "National Post" which I do not often get the chance to read.

There was, I thought, an interesting convergence of articles.

One article, by Lawrence Solomon, was about Wikipedia, and a particular editor who is, it would seem, engaging in a form of thought-policing.

Another article, by Charles Lewis, was about Evangelical Christians and what they see as their role in converting Jews.

Yet another article was concerning history. Whom do we believe?

There was even an article on medical imaging and its believability.

Solomon wrote of his experience in trying to edit an incorrect Wikipedia article. The article, according to Solomon, misrepresents a scientist's work concerning global warming. The editor kept undoing Solomon's correction.

The article in question is about climate change and the purported concensus among scientists with the position on climate change taken by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change.

As Solomon was correcting the article, he was drawing from a personal knowledge of the work of one of the scientists named. His correction was repeatedly undone by the editor. There was no room for discussion. Wikipedia, through the work of this editor, refuses to acknowledge alternate views on climate change.

In Lewis's article on a New York Times ad placed by World Evangelical Alliance. The ad encourages Evangelicals to work for the conversion of Jews to Christianity.

A professor at York University, who is himself a convert from Christianity to Judaism, reads into this that the Evangelicals do not think that Judaism has a right to exist. Is this what is really said?

It is difficult, in this time of duelling ideologies and the accompanying barrage of "information", (I put that it quotations because I am sure information is really only that when it is accurate. Given the constant contradictions, it cannot all be correct!) to know just who tells the truth.

(As I finish this entry, I have just finished reading yet another article bringing serious question to the global warming assumption).

Jesus Christ has told us that HE is the Way, the Truth, and the Light. I am certain that He was not referring to global warming, although Pope Benedict XVI has. Jesus calls us to look beyond our earthly concerns, at least part of the time, and get a view of eternity. THAT is the Truth to which He speaks. Our view of eternity can be potentially rosy, if we look to God for guidance. We can find very real, earthly guidance in Jesus' presence on earth in the Catholic Church.

We are blessed indeed to know, absolutely, where the truth of all that is important, lies.

God Bless

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Rubber Hits the Road

Hi Folks

My mum sent me an email which contained a link that ended up side-tracking me for quite a while.

I own a small Catholic book business. It's really small. I am owner, employee, CEO, cook and bottle-washer.

A couple of years ago, I started carrying some giftware along with the Catholic books. More recently, I began carrying hand-crafted rosaries, made by my mum.

Somewhere, I remember her commenting that people were often taken aback by the prices of hand-crafted goods. She said that she was in competition with cheap goods coming from China.

I didn't think much of it at the time, as I only carried rosaries made by her. But a few months back, I got a call from a local rosary and crucifix maker. He, too commented about cheap goods from China.

Well, the email my mother sent the other day had a link to some articles detailing just how some of the cheap (and not so cheap) Chinese goods are made. Now, it has my attention.

It seems to me to be ironic that devout people are getting their religious items from places where workers are being paid almost nothing. One factory is even in violation of China's own regulations, which are not what most people would call "employee friendly". What does it do to evangelization to have a worker, who is working his 19th hour that day, looking at the image of Jesus which he has just attached to a cross? I'm not sure I'd want to know any more about His Church when it would seem the members are exploiting me. Here is the link:

The Catholic Church has teachings on these matters, and has had for a long time! Leo XIII got the ball started with Rerum Novarum over 100 years ago. If you read Scripture, you can see that it does not support exploitive practices. It condemns them!

As a very small Catholic business, it should not be too hard to avoid Chinese made goods. I will certainly make that effort. I already have noticed that one of my suppliers labels where his goods least when those countries are European or American! Am I to assume that if items are not so labelled that they are Chinese? I guess I'll need to ask him.

Another of my suppliers acknowledges that some of their goods come from China. I'll be watching!

Of course this leads to a dilemma. By boycotting Chinese goods, one is actually attempting to remove what little sustenance sweatshop employees get. Is there a way to influence their conditions without totally removing the support of our retailers? I do not know.

The Chinese do not seem to listen to the West all that well. I guess we just do what we can and pray for insight!

God Bless

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Let me join them!


An article for which I just read the intro said that bloggers are getting down to the task of commenting on the Pope's visit to the United States.

I am not an American, but as a close neighbour, I've been observing.

This is an exciting time to be a Catholic. We have a Pope who is willing to brave possible hostility in order to proclaim un-varnished Catholic teaching. People are noticing.

I have noticed an increase of cross-traffic. Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) personalities such as Mother Angelica and Raymond Arroyo are showing up in Columbia Magazine (the monthly magazine of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic men's organization), while Carl Anderson (the chief Knight...cannot recall his exact title) has been interviewed on EWTN. Dinesh D'Souza is showing up all over.

It's getting stranger. The mainstream press has been seen to be getting information about the Catholic Church correct! That so rarely happens.

Recently, on Catholic Answers Live, it was said that Protestant ministers are becoming Catholic in rather large numbers.

So what is going on?

I wonder if in these times of constant change, and constant confusion about what is or is not truth, the Church is being seen as one who does not change with the whims of public opinion. She is constant. Those honestly seeking truth will realize that truth cannot contradict itself. Is there a God, or isn't there? Did He become incarnate, or didn't He? Is life intrinsically valuable, or is it not?

When talking to dh about this, he also noted that at the same time that the Truth in Catholicism is increasingly recognized, we can be sure there will be a backlash.

Funny, just the day after we were talking about this, I read in New Advent that a Muslim leader has said that Islam will conquer Rome

Whether or not the forementioned will be the backlash, it will come. It could come in the form of legislation which slowly chokes the ability of the Church to continue to proclaim Truth. I could come in the form of legislation limiting the power of parents to teach Truth to their children. It could be a combination of things.

When the scandal of misbehaving priests broke, many thought that the Church would suffer. I think the Church has gotten stronger. The evil that had been hidden so long was being brought to the light. It is now being dealt with.

People are making a conscious decision to enter the Church.

The gates of Hell will not prevail.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Yesterday I started reading something that captures a couple of my interests at the same time.

The book is the new "Island of the World" by Michael D. O'brien, possibly my favourite Catholic author. The book is set in the Balkans, starting around the time of WWII.

I admit to reading with a little scepticism. O'brien is known for his attention to detail. Several years ago, I loaned another O'brien book, "Father Elijah" to a priest friend who admired the book's description of the Vatican. The priest said that O'brien must have actually been there.

The setting of the book is the Balkans, which is about as complicated as I imagine a setting to be!

Dh worked in the Balkans for a year. So did ds. I was over there for three months. It is a beautiful, fascinating area, with an amazingly complex history and culture.

When I told dh I was reading "Island" he commented that the book would have to mention slivovic (a homemade alcoholic substance which is ubiquitous in the Balkans). Less than 100 pages into the book, there is was!

Michael O'brien is an unapologetic Catholic. His books are full of Catholicism, both subtle and overt. One cannot read them without sensing how integral his faith is to his work.

I am curious to see how the history of the Balkans is managed in this novel. Before we went over, I was told that "there were no good guys". I had trouble believing that, but after my time there, I was beginning to think it was correct.

Lately, we have been looking at history from a Catholic perspective and seeing just how it can be manipulated without anyone actually lying! I have no reason to believe that what little I know of the Balkans has not been manipulated.

I will be some time reading this large book. I will report when I am done.

God Bless

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Last things

Happy Tuesday.

Last night I had the pleasure of listening to, rather than leading, a class for soon-to-be Catholics.

The topic was "Last Things" which would be death, judgement, Purgatory, Heaven and Hell.

We are in a Military environment. It struck me, not long into the meeting, that our community has an intimacy with death that is probably a bit unusual.

I was surprised at how comfortable everyone seemed with the idea of death. I was surprised at how nonchalant the soldiers were about close calls they'd had. One fellow mentioned that he drove through a crater caused by an explosion that had only recently killed several soldiers.

Others talked of serious 'accidents' they'd been involved in where no one was killed, although it would appear that they should have been. It was not their time.

Most of us have had a close brush with the family of someone who has died.

A story was told about how some people (other soldiers) can just fall apart at the thought of death. One described the anti climax of being prepared to die, and then not having it happen.

Someone mentioned the knowledge that a kiss good-bye could be their last.

Purgatory is a doctrine that some find hard to accept. If one looks carefully, Scripture is actually quite liberal in texts that imply a place between earth and heaven. Maccabees tells us to pray for the dead. Why would we do that if they were in either heaven or hell? We are told that our works will be tested as if by fire.

Purgatory is not, as is sometimes said, a second chance, or a place where ones fate is decided. Those who find themselves in purgatory will, eventually, go to heaven.

Everyone in heaven is a saint. They may not be a canonized saint (one whose presence in heaven has been declared by the Church and whose name may be mentioned during the Mass) but if you are in heaven, you are a saint.

Heaven is a place of perfect happiness. Some people get the idea that heaven will be dull. We cannot imagine the glories and pleasures of heaven.

Hell? I've been told it will be a big party, as in the sense of unlimited sinning. Wrong again! Hell is a place of unending torment. It is eternally outside the view of God. We can't see Him, He can't see us. There will be no pleasure.

We can never judge that someone has gone to Hell. Only God knows that for sure, as much as we may speculate. We do not know if, perhaps, someone on his/her deathbed cried out to God for mercy. The Church does from time to time declare someone to be in heaven. "What you bind on earth will be bound in heaven".

Lent, the time preceding Easter, is a time where we look upon our lives and see if there are ways we may walk more closely with God. Take the time to take a look!

Monday, March 03, 2008

Comings and Goings

This is a response of sort to an American article.

One can tell from my name that I am Canadian, however I think much that is said in the article applies.

Evangelical churches are scooping up Catholics at an alarming rate. Just how alarming?

As one who once dabbled in evangelicism, and then discovered the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, I know what the attraction is (or was at the time). Warning...the peanut butter I ate for breakfast has stuck my tongue firmly to my cheek.

It is entertaining. There's some pretty girl standing up front wiggling and singing into a mic while a band of sorts plays behind her. She's singing choruses; short songs that are catchy and easy to remember. Emotions begin to run high. Oh yes, one can just FEEL the Holy Spirit moving in this place.

Once the music slows down, you know that it's time for Pastor X to come out and start expounding on his favourite bit of scripture. Or perhaps today it's expounding on his favourite shortcoming. Maybe (and many denominations seem to be founded on this one) he will give his views on the Catholic Church. He is anointed (if not always accurate).

The pastor's anointed status lasts until he hits a sore point with someone, who promptly leaves this gathering which he now feels has lost the Spirit, and finds another where he finds the Holy Spirit has taken up residence. Interestingly, the Holy Spirit will here condone whatever weakness or belief that causes M. Pewsitter to find himself at odds with his previous congregation. Perhaps M. Pewsitter decides HE has the spirit...and starts his own church.

The pattern is so predictable.

This year I have the privilege once again of helping people who wish to become Roman Catholic. Last week, someone made the comment that he thought he knew quite a bit about the Church when he started coming to meetings. He'd learned it from the other churches he'd attended. Now he knows that most of what he thought he knew was wrong.

Does that not sound like what Archbishop Fulton Sheen said?

There are not over a hundred people in the United States who hate the Catholic Church. There are millions, however, who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church—
which is, of course, quite a different thing.
Radio Replies (1938)

Earlier in the evening, the same fellow made a comment that maybe the Church needed to do more work to get its actual teachings made public. I truly hope that someday this fellow will join the ranks of catechists, apologists, evangelists who do their best to teach the Catholic faith!

I think Pope Benedict XVI, who does not seem to be one to back away from genuine Church teaching...even that which does not sit well with society or certain members thereof, will inspire many to confidently proclaim the Church.

I hope that B XVI may actually inspire some dissenters within the Church to leave it in peace. They can go and start a denomination built upon their pet belief, weakness, desire, or sin, as so many have before them.

I suspect that if one really analyzed the demographics of ex-Catholics in evangelical ranks, one would find that many are there because of a sin that the Catholic Church does not accept: Divorce and re-marriage, the use of artificial birth control. Or perhaps this new church lays out in black and white a teaching that the RC church leaves to the informed consciences of its followers. M. Pewsitter may desire the support that a clearly defined teaching can give.

I wonder if we have statistics concerning the backgrounds of people entering the Church, or perhaps re-entering the Church. How many come back and bring friends and family with them?

We have been promised that the gates of Hell will not prevail against the church. Neither will public opinion.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Father knows best

So, how 'bout that Pope?

Pope Benedict XVI never ceases to amaze me. His selection from among the other Cardinals started it. He was so OLD!

He was already known, too, as something of a hard-liner as far as adherence to Catholic teaching went. I counted that as a good thing.

He has not disappointed. He may have a short pontificate, but his influence will resound for a long time. Of this I have little doubt. He predicted that his pontificate would see the reduction of the Catholic Church to a smaller institution, but one less swayed by the winds of public opinion. One can only hope that is prophetic.

As it is now, there are so many who call themselves Catholic, but who hold few of the tenets of the Church and seem hell-bent on changing the Church to suit their notions. Protestants may goad us about Sacred Tradition, in which they say they do not believe. It would seem a good many Catholics do not believe in it either.

Having a Church in which fewer of these dissenters are present could only be a good thing.

Pope Benedict, it seems to me, is making it more and more difficult to be a dissenting Catholic. His clarifications on our beliefs only reiterate Church teaching. His refusal to pander to public opinion will, I think, give confidence to loyal Catholics.

He has been accused of public relations mis-steps. I do not think these were mis-steps at all. I think he knew exactly what he was saying, why he was saying it, and what the reaction to it would be. He is proclaiming Truth. He is saying what the Church believes on his own terms and not the terms of those who do not agree with the Church anyway. Imagine that.

I remember the day I accidently walked in on a pow-wow (sorry. I guess the proper term might be an O-group) of chaplains, both RC and others. I could feel tremendous tension in the room, although I did not actually hear anything that was being said. This was after the Pope told the denominations that they were not churches, but "ecclesial communities". As I spoke to one of the RC chaplains later he said to me "The truth hurts". The truth is this: Jesus formed only one Church, and that one is the Catholic Church. To believe anything else is to revise or ignore history.

He upset the Muslims with his Regensberg address, in which he quoted an earlier scholar who said something to the effect that Mohammed's additions to the faith of Abraham (which is shared by Jews, Christians and Muslims) were evil and violent.

In his writing, Benedict has very clearly taken issue with trends in liturgy, which he sees as novelties, and trends in theology which seem to try to remove Christ's divinity.

What he says is very clear. It's hard to read anything into his writings...nothing is hidden.

This Catholic feels very comfortable with Benedict as Pope. Long may he live!