The Grip of Ritual

Wednesday, September 05, 2012 7:00 AM Comments (108)

Whether or not the recently deceased Cardinal Martini was mistranslated in his instantly infamous final interview, these words of his, especially, struck me as sad and thin:

Our culture has aged, our churches are big and empty and ... our rituals and our cassocks are pompous.

How can someone who has worn holy vestments say this?  How can someone whose hands have held the living body of Our Lord say this?

I suppose I'm lucky that this sort of thing still shocks me. I am immensely grateful that the priests in my parish and surrounding area are faithful.  We never have to give those damage control sermons on the way home from church:  "Now, kids, I know Father Spazz said...READ MORE

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Ten Things I Learned While Camping With Nine Kids

Friday, August 31, 2012 10:57 AM Comments (45)

Because we haven't suffered enough this summer, my husband and I took our nine kids camping this week.  Last time I went camping, I was single, fit, and owned sneakers.  Last time my husband went camping, he meant that he had to use his second favorite blanket until his favorite blanket came out of the wash. 

So, we are not really the outdoorsy type.  But this was our summer for just going ahead and doing things, whether they made sense or not.  So there we were, camping.  This is what we learned:

1.  Somebody is going to get horribly sick.  May I recommend that it be an adult who gets sick?  Because even an adult who is in serious pain and is delirious with fever is going to do her...READ MORE

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Homeschool To Classroom:  A Quiz For Anxious Parents

Tuesday, August 28, 2012 7:00 AM Comments (160)

You know what I'm seeing everywhere these days?  Parents who've home schooled their kids for several years, and then suddenly, for no good reason, up and send their kids off to a regular classroom school.  They do this without giving it much thought, because they either (a) are lazy and don't love their children,  or (b) are disastrously naive about what the modern world is like, and assume that their kids will be taught Dick and Jane and how to open doors for their elders.

Or, wait.  I'm seeing that nowhere.  Nowhere at all.

What I am seeing is people who, for one reason or another, realized that homeschooling is no longer the best choice for their particular family.  It is generally...READ MORE

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Gung Ho

Friday, August 24, 2012 7:00 AM Comments (68)

Most serious Catholics have had this experience:  all on fire for some bracing, difficult truth that seems central to our lives, we march forward in a fine, fervent frenzy, and rip a new donut hole for everyone in the room -- in service of the truth.  Because, as it says in scripture, "The Lord thy God wants you to rip everyone a new donut hole."

The problem with this approach is twofold:

(1)  People are generally not much swayed by the "Listen up, jerkwad, and maybe you'll learn something" approach.

(2) The truth takes a while to sink in.  Not into them, but into you!  Just because you think you know something, that doesn't mean you really know it.  Or, it doesn't mean you know...READ MORE

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Cake Pans and Wedding Vows

Thursday, August 23, 2012 7:00 AM Comments (34)

My poor kids are always thrilled to see packages delivered to the house.  For some reason, they always think that this, at last, must be the day when some kindly stranger has finally gotten around to sending them a lifetime supply of gumballs, roller skates and fireworks. 

And then we open up the box, and guess what?  It’s not that day.

Generally, it’s books inside.  Stupid, boring, grown-up books, or sometimes something even worse:  a replacement flange for the kitchen sink faucet, or a pack of screen protectors; yay.  They don’t even make bubble wrap the way they used to, for crying out loud.

A few days ago, we got a huge box in the mail.  Oh boy, oh boy!  We opened it up, and...READ MORE

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Behold, the Dreamer Cometh

Tuesday, August 21, 2012 7:00 AM Comments (130)

Is there anything more fascinating than dreams?  Anything more liberating than letting the unconscious mind go on a romp in utter freedom?  Anyone unluckier than a husband whose wife wakes up already mad at him because she knows he didn't actually do that -- that thing in real life, but still, oh my gosh, what a jerk?

Not that I would do such a thing.  But if the morning isn't too rushed, I do try to ask my family what they dreamt, because it gives me a hint about what's going on with them.  My son, for instance, spent a few solid weeks having classic disappointment dreams:  it was Christmas, but there was nothing in his stocking but tuna and garbage; it was his birthday, and nobody...READ MORE

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The WWJD Stick

Thursday, August 16, 2012 9:43 AM Comments (434)

If I were Cardinal Dolan, I'll tell you what I'd do.  I'd hold an emergency synod and urge all the bishops and pastors and RCIA leaders to go out to their flocks and tell them, "Stop asking, 'What would Jesus do?'"

I'm not kidding, and I'm not making light out of serious matters.  I genuinely wish that someone with some moral authority would tell all the laptop theologians in the world to knock it off.  "What would Jesus do?" is not a question that ever sheds light, ever.  It's a question that's used as a stick to beat someone into the proper kind of behavior.  People never ask that question unless they think they already know the answer -- and the answer is generally, "He'd do the...READ MORE

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It Gets Me Every Time

Tuesday, August 14, 2012 7:05 AM Comments (73)

In my last post, "Children's Books About Love," several readers mentioned books that make them choke up when they're reading them aloud.  Isn't that the worst?  I don't know who suffers more, the teary parent, or the kids writhing in embarrassment:  "Ma-ma, it's just a rabbit!"

I've been thinking lately about the things that get to us, and why.  Like many people, I get indignant when I come across a book or piece of art that's specifically designed to elicit tears.  I resent being manipulated -- all the more so when it works too well.  They press the button; I cry.  Argh.

There is a difference, though, between manipulating emotions and evoking them -- between demanding tears and...READ MORE

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About Simcha Fisher

Simcha Fisher
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Simcha Fisher, author of The Sinner's Guide to Natural Family Planning writes for several publications and blogs at I Have to Sit Down. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and nine children. Without supernatural aid, she would hardly be a human being.