29 August 2010


Praises have been absent for a few weeks due to vacations and computer problems, but Praise is back today!

"Gladness of heart is the life of a man, and the rejoicing of a man is length of days.  Delight your soul and comfort your heart..."  Sirach 30:22-23

I want to Praise God today for what He is teaching me and His methods.  When the Lord corrects, He is gentle and loving and there is not shaming guilt or discouragement.  Instead, He actually draws me to come nearer to Him, not run away.  Even as He shows me my own smallness of heart and lack of charity, He reminds me that He is mercy and He loves me.

Praise God for the new school year and the start of our family's homeschool adventure!  I'm excited, a little nervous, a little overwhelmed, but I have no doubt it is the right thing for my children.  I am depending on the Lord to make up for all I lack (which is a lot!).  God bless the Hartline Academy!

For my best friend in this world, my husband.  Thank you, Jesus, for the gift of him.

For the giggly, rambunctious, pig-tailed girls who are the greatest thing I could ever do with my life.  Lord, may I be a worthy example to them.

For pajama days!

For chocolate chip cookies baked on pajama days!

For quiet moments on the deck at night, watching the stars come out, listening to the crickets, and growing ever more impatient for autumn.

Thank God above that summer is almost over!!!!  At least according to the calendar.  Now, if only the weather would figure it out and cool it down several notches...

If you've stopped by today, I hope you'll join me in giving Praise to God for all He has done and for Who He Is!
God bless you!

27 August 2010

Harvard Grad Heads to the Convent: Mary Anne Marks and the New Life of the Church

Catholic Online

I’ve heard the phrase many times from those who homeschool that the primary goal is not to get your kids into Harvard but Heaven.  The point being that faith formation and solid anchoring in the life of Christ is of far greater importance than calculus or chemistry.

Mary Anne Marks has surely made Heaven her final goal, plus she got into Harvard to boot!  This inspiring woman, who graduated summa cum laude from Harvard University this past spring (and delivered her commencement address in Latin, no less) is now looking toward her future as a Catholic nun, discerning her vocation among the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist in Ann Arbor, MI.

These wonderful Sisters enchanted millions of people when they appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show back in February.  Seeing their lively, joyful, youthful faces seemed to shatter the notion that Catholic nuns are all old, boring, dour and cranky.  These Sisters were radiant with life, lit from within by a fierce love of Christ and His Church, and just to see them on the TV screen was to want that tangible joy and freedom they had.

This relatively young order that began with just four nuns in 1997 has now grown to nearly 100 in only thirteen years, and the average age of the Sisters is 26.  Mary Anne Marks hopes to join their community soon, beginning her year of aspirancy and postulancy this fall.

She was recently interviewed by Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review Online, and it was impossible not to be energized with hope after I read their revealing exchange.  She is young yet extremely mature, intelligent and grounded.  She is rooted in the faith and life of the Church.  She’s devout, happy, eager to teach and serve, ready to be challenged.  She has an unabashed affection for the Lord and a craving for His Presence in the Eucharist.  In a very real way, she is the future of the Church, and that is very exciting. 

As for that tired old secular rant that the Church is a misogynistic empire that oppresses women – forget it.  She’ll have none of it:

“From its earliest years, the Church’s doctrine of the equality of all humans as beloved children of God and its reverence for Mary as the spouse and mother of God elevated women to a status previously unheard of.  In our own times, the Church’s unequivocal opposition to practices such as abortion and contraception, which harm women physically and psychologically, and threaten to render them victims of their own and others’ unchecked desires, makes the Church a lone voice above the chaos, promoting women’s dignity and happiness.”

When Lopez asked her about changing her plans to go to graduate school and giving up her freedom because she felt God wanted her to enter the convent, she replied,
“Part of the answer is that when Love asks you to be His spouse, you don’t quibble about the when and where.  The other part is that anything worthwhile in life requires an ongoing, freely willed surrender of one’s freedom.”

It hardly needs saying what a refreshing contrast this is to the obsession with self that dominates our culture.  Mary Anne clearly understands the significance of the countercultural nature of the call to religious life:

“Religious are called to witness by their life and garb to supernatural realities: God’s existence, His immeasurable love for each person, and the fact that our duty and happiness lie in returning His love.  That witness becomes increasingly important as a culture’s materialism and corresponding distaste for the supernatural increase.”

Speaking of happiness, she has some wise-beyond-her-years thoughts on that, as well.

“Happiness is the sense of peace and joy that stems from knowledge of and union with the One Who created us and Who loves us infinitely.  We will attain it fully in heaven, but we can achieve it to a significant extent beforehand by battling our desire to remain independent of God, ignoring the voices that label religion boring and unnecessary, and better acquainting ourselves with Truth through study and prayer.”

She offers some road-tested advice for young girls today who may be considering the religious life but don’t know where to go or who to talk to about their questions.

“Spend a bit of time each day talking to Jesus, before the Blessed Sacrament if you can, or in a quiet place free of distractions.  Start with 15 minutes and work up to half an hour.  You can’t know what He desires for you if the two of you aren’t good friends.  Ask Him and His mother for guidance.  And check out some community websites, maybe starting with those listed on the website of the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious.  If a group piques your interest, send the vocations director an email and see what happens!  Vocations directors are not recruiters; they are seasoned religious with long experience helping young women to discern God’s will for their lives.”

I admit that what surprised me most about the interview was learning that Harvard has given rise to many religious vocations in recent years.  Mary Anne explained,
“A couple of years ago, a young man who finished Harvard in three years entered the seminary in St. Louis.  A little further back, a young woman who attended Harvard and lived in the same women’s residence that I did joined the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal.  One of my friends, whom I met while she was pursuing a degree at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, joined the Religious Sisters of Mercy two years ago.  This July 25, two young men from Harvard joined the Eastern Province of the Dominicans.”

Who would’ve thunk it?  And even more surprising was the response she received from some faculty members when they learned of her decision to enter the convent.

“A kind but thoroughly unsentimental professor who had been very encouraging of my intention to apply to graduate school, ended our discussion of my change of plans by opening her arms and declaring quietly, ‘I am going to give you a hug, because this is a big decision, and I admire you for it.’  When I remarked to yet another professor on the many positive responses from faculty, he replied that he wasn’t surprised that academics could appreciate the appeal of a life of contemplation and of single-minded pursuit of a spiritual goal.”

(Maybe there’s hope for Harvard after all!)  The entire interview is terrific and well worth the read.  I think my favorite part, though, was this:

Kathryn Lopez:  “You are a Harvard graduate.  Aren’t you surrendering all the possibilities that entails by entering a convent?”

Mary Anne Marks:  “Yes, if one doesn’t see becoming a well-educated, intellectually alive nun as one of the possibilities.”

God bless you, Mary Anne! 


17 August 2010

A Killer Named Ella: FDA Approves New Embryocidal Drug

from Catholic Online

Every NFP couple out there knows that they can potentially get pregnant on Friday from sex they had on Monday.  They understand that sperm can survive for as long as five days in a fertile environment.  They may have enjoyed their romantic encounter at home by candlelight, but the miracle of new life happened in the produce aisle while Mom was choosing potatoes.

Obviously, those in the medical and pro-abort community understand this as well, and last Friday they celebrated the news that the FDA has approved their new darling drug, “ella.”  Ella is marketed as a contraceptive that can be used to prevent pregnancy as many as five days after sex.

It is a selective progesterone receptor modulator (SPRM), meaning it works as a contraceptive by blocking the progesterone needed for the ovary to release an egg.  The drug’s purported life span is the same as a sperm, so according to the drug’s makers and marketers, ella is a safe, effective way to prevent unwanted pregnancy even after having sex.  Nothing more.

Not so fast.  Ella is chemically very similar to the abortion drug, RU-486 (mifepristone).  Everyone familiar with how human life gets its start also understands that progesterone is needed to sustain a newly implanted, developing embryo.  Cut off the progesterone and the new life will die.  This is how RU-486 works, and since ella operates the same way, it could act as an abortifacient.  In fact, the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians & Gynecologists calls ella an embryocidal drug.

Suppose that 5-day window happened a little differently?  Suppose sex and ovulation both happened on Monday and a child is conceived.  If the woman decides to take ella on Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday, ella “works” not by preventing ovulation and conception, but by denying the new life the progesterone needed for survival.  Whether the woman realizes it or not; whether she intended to or not, she may have aborted her child.

The misleading labeling of ella as an emergency contraceptive will likely have some very disturbing ripple effects.  The pro-aborts and their allies in Congress will certainly demand that ella be included in federally-subsidized health care plans.  RU-486 is banned from receiving federal tax subsidies, but by not being classified as an abortifacient, ella would not be.  It also raises concerns that doctors and pharmacists will be forced to prescribe and provide ella despite their moral objections.

There is also the very real danger of ella being used off-label; the potential birth defects to babies whose mothers take ella attempting to induce abortion; the criminal use of ella by men to unsuspecting women; the potential danger to breastfed babies whose mothers take ella while nursing.

But perhaps ella’s most dangerous side-effect is the psychological one.  It’s what ella – and Plan B and RU-486 – does to our perception of abortion and human life that is the most deadly.

It’s murder at the micro-level, hidden from view and carried out in private.  No evidence of the crime; no evidence the child was ever here.  Before long abortion at home becomes commonplace.  Just pop a pill and eliminate your baby, not unlike getting rid of a headache.

Soon it becomes acceptable, even rationalized as “better” than an abortion at 6 weeks or 12 weeks because the baby is so small, so unformed as to be considered barely human yet.  Yes, surely if a woman wants an abortion, it’s better she does it this way when there’s “not really a baby” yet.  And with little resistance, society as a whole soon decides this type of abortion is a good thing.  It’s simple, accessible, cost-effective (since it’s covered by insurance), and best of all, done in secret.  Where public opinion is concerned, out of sight is out of mind.

The writing on the wall is impossible to miss.

A pro-abort commenter on Jill Stanek’s blog said it painfully well:

“Chalk up another win for the Pro-choice movement… you guys have been at this for what 40 years?  Don’t worry I’m sure your day will come, lol.
You know with these types of pills becoming more effective and accepted you guys should be happy; those awful pictures you hold up will be a thing of the past.  As time goes on it will be easier and easier to abort a pregnancy long before any type of real growth can happen.  There will be no more aborting fetuses that in any way resemble a human shape.  Heck they won’t even be fetuses since they will not be allowed to implant into the uterus.  Just a small clump of cells in the beginnings of division…”

Real growth… resembling a human shape… small clumps of cells…easier and easier to abort.  Easier and easier to justify, dismiss, ignore, and even defend.  As this commenter said, a human being who doesn’t resemble a human shape is not alive, not a person and utterly extinguishable.

If we embrace drugs like ella, Plan B and RU-486 into our culture en masse, the only possible fruits will be the extermination of countless numbers of children and the further perversion of our view of human life.  How easy it will be to live for physical pleasure and simply swallow a pill to get rid of an “unwanted.”  How sick and evil our thinking will become when we come to accept the “rightness” of chemically executing our children with hardly a second thought.

This will be an insidiously deadly strike at the heart of motherhood and femininity.  Now the next step is taken – mother not only makes the choice to kill her child, she carries out the murder by her own hand.  Or else, she unwittingly ends the new life within her, believing she is only preventing ovulation.  Either way, the prince of darkness and lies has further cemented enmity between mother and child and planted a crop of death for humanity to harvest.

And what a bitter harvest of violence and hatred it will be.

It may be tempting to believe an abortion that occurs 5 days after conception is better than one that occurs at 15 weeks of gestation.  It may seem more palatable, even more humane, since there is no bloody body to see and grieve for.  Without a heartbeat, or tiny fingers or a little face to behold, are we still convinced that the miracle of a new person brought into being is a miracle?  Are we still convicted that this new life is distinct and unique, an unrepeatable person made in the image and likeness of God, whom we are obligated to protect?  If the answer is yes, -- and it better be -- then there can be only one response to ella and all drugs like it:  it is the chemical execution of a child.

16 August 2010

The End of Christian Civilization

Plain-spoken article by Fr. Thomas Euteneur at Catholic Online on why and how gay "marriage" will be the end of Christian civilization as we know it.  Read and share.

Also check out "Examining the California Opinion"  Even more plain-spoken article detailing the myths put forth by Judge Walker in defense of his terrible decision to strike down Prop 8 in California.  Very worth reading and sharing.

07 August 2010


"My beloved is mine and I am his."

This was written on our program and inscribed in gold wedding bands...

I want to give Praise to God today for my husband and family.  Eleven years ago today a handsome soldier changed my name.  And my life.  Forever.

I just couldn't have imagined, standing in my white gown on the altar, that we'd soon have three beautiful daughters and how they would become our new reason for living.  Life really did begin all over again that day we said, "I Do."  It's a wonderful life.

06 August 2010

Home From Egypt

The kiddos and I have been going to Egypt each night this week.  175+ children running, screaming, singing, dancing, clapping, shouting, playing, shrieking, laughing, crying, eating, getting soaked, making jewelry out of spray painted pasta, and hopefully somewhere in all of that, getting the message that we serve the One True God.  

The One True God gives us hope and wisdom and forgiveness and a family and special abilities... all of which were played out in the story of Joseph in Egypt.

I'm pooped, but a great time was had.  The music will be stuck in my head for weeks.  
Like this one:  
"Blessed be your name, when the sun is shining down on me
when the world is all as it should be, blessed be your name.  
Blessed be your name, when the road is marked with suffering
When there's pain in the offering, blessed be your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord."

04 August 2010

Favorite Catholic Devotions

I've been tagged.  It's a good tag, so I'll play along.

5 Favorite Catholic Devotions

1. Adoration
2. Divine Mercy Chaplet in song (the newer version)
3. Rosary
4. The Angelus (this is a new prayer in my life recently, but I am loving it already)
5. Quiet prayer with a St. Francis de Sales book, and Night Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours.

So, who shall I tag?

And what are your favorites?  Do tell.

03 August 2010


You've just got to see this.

Trust me.

Go now.  It's incredible, awesome, beautiful, inspiring, joyful, and will make you shout Hallelujah!

01 August 2010


"Let your thoughts be on things above, not on the things that are on earth, because you have died, and now the life you have is hidden with Christ in God."

Praise and thanks be to God for the recovery of Melanie Pritchard!  (See yesterday's post.)  Please remember her in your prayers as she continues to heal.  Praise the Lord as well for a healthy baby girl, who I know is very happy to finally be in her mother's arms.

I'm Praising God today for all the gifts of my life, the greatest of which is my family and my life with them.  May I be grateful for every day and every hour; for every little joy and every little trial; for every toy on the floor and every dish in the sink; for every little squabble and all the laughter; for every kiss and every hug; for every crumb on the floor and every sock under the bed; for every sticky hand and messy face; for every embrace from my beloved and every "I love you."  For all of it, may I live in it with joy and take it as a gift from my Father.

Have a blessed week ahead everyone.  If you have Praises to share, please do link up below and share.  His peace be with you!


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