A hand shot up from among the troops sitting on the ground. It was an eager sergeant who raised his hand and asked if he could help. In front of the troops was an enthusiastic young lady who was a volunteer with the YMCA. The sergeant's offer to assist her came as somewhat of a surprise. She was reciting a recently published, but well-known poem, and she had suddenly forgotten the remaining lines.
It was 1918 in France. The young lady, Eloise Robinson, who was a poet, was with the doughboys near the front lines of the Great War. Here the men knew all the ugliness of fighting and this war of attrition with its mustard gas, isolation in the trenches, and rampant diseases. The young woman hoped to bring some good cheer with poetry and chocolates. The troops of the Fighting 69th Regiment from New York were eager for any type of distraction from both the daily grind and the quick terror of war. A recitation of poetry held their interest perhaps because it was so unlike anything like combat.
In response to her quizzical look, the sergeant recited the remaining verses of the poem. Although not a long poem, Eloise Robinson was surprised that he knew the lines. The sergeant answered her unspoken question when he gently explained, "Well ma'am, I guess I wrote it."
The sergeant was Joyce Kilmer, and the verses he completed were the end of his best known poem "Trees".
Joyce Kilmer did not have to be at the front lines; he wanted to be there. Shortly after the United States entered the war, he enlisted in the New York National Guard. Although he had a wife and children and was on the older end of the age range for enlistment, he volunteered because he thought it was his duty. He wrote,
"I have considered this step I am taking from every side and I feel there is no doubt that I have an obligation to join the colors. I would be ashamed later on to look at the children if I don’t volunteer. However other married men feel about going, I consider my enlisting as a duty I owe to God and country.”
After a short stint in the 7th regiment, Kilmer was able to transfer to the Fighting 69th Infantry Regiment. He soon rose from private to the rank of sergeant. Kilmer was fiercely loyal to his comrades and refused several officer commissions in order to remain with his regiment. As the war went on, Kilmer volunteered for more dangerous assignments in military intelligence which involved him leading scouting parties ahead of the regiment’s lines. His comrades were impressed by how calm he remained in the midst of these patrols into no man's land.
Back home, Kilmer had a wife Aline Murray, who was also a poet, and four children. In the year before he enlisted, Kilmer and his wife had lost their four-year-old daughter to polio. Through their daughter's suffering, the Kilmers were on led on a journey of faith which brought them into the Catholic Church. That same faith buoyed them through her illness and their mourning of her death. It also carried the Kilmers though his military service and sacrifice for his country.
When Kilmer had surprised the YMCA volunteer by completing the lines of his poem, he might have given his last presentation of those famous verses. Only weeks after that day, Kilmer was leading a scouting party to find German machine gun positions when he was killed by a sniper. He was just 31 years old. His desire to fulfill his duty to God and his country had resulted in his making the ultimate sacrifice. Although his life was cut short, he has lived on in his family, his example, and his writings, especially "Trees" which has become one of the most familiar poems in American culture.
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breat;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
Posted by David at 10:00 AM
It has been a while--September 2007--since I last posted on this blog. I would like to begin posting again, and there is no time like the present.
Currently, we are in the midst of the last three weeks of the homeschooling year for LG, and we have been packing in many more activities than I could imagine.
Last week, we were in Raleigh, NC for a few days. It was quite a nice trip in which we enjoyed a number of things including a great bed and breakfast, the great weather, the art museum, a really nice children's park, and the natural sciences museum.
Here are a few photos of that trip.
|On the porch of the B&B.|
|Whale at the natural science museum.|
|Paddle boats at the children's park. |
Also, Duc In Altum is now on Facebook
, as well.
Posted by David at 10:35 PM
Friday, September 21, 2007
Both M and I take vitamins. It is an essential part of our daily routine that L has picked up on to the point that she asks us on a given day whether or not we have taken them or not. Except when she asks, what she says sounds like, "Have you taken your diamonds today?" Of course, we joke about the diamonds that are actually vitamins, and we talk about how L's term might indicate the importance of these daily vitamins.
One woman has taken the idea of a daily vitamins to include the vitamin of devotion that we all need. She provides help in this area by encouraging Marian devotion through mental prayer. Her apostolate is to provide material to encourage mental prayer through an email that she sends five days a seek. The emails often contain quotes from saints referencing the virtues of our Lady. Then there is a vow to action that urges the reader to put in to practice what our Lady shows us through her example.
Mary Vitamin is a daily email support for Marian mental prayer. Each day (Monday through Friday) members will receive a brief Marian quote with a corresponding Marian meditation and resolution. The Mary Vitamin is designed to make mental prayer a little simpler and bring Our Lady into your day in a systematic way.
Real Marian devotion is studying the life and virtues of Our Lady and then putting into practice what we learn from her.
She calls her emails Mary Vitamin, and the emails are quite like taking a daily Marian vitamin. For more information, click here
. To view her blog, click here
Labels: Resource, Saints
Posted by David at 12:00 AM
Thursday, September 20, 2007
More on Christendom College Podcasts
I mentioned that this past July we attended the Christendom College 2007 Summer Institute on Marriage and the Family
. As it has been in past years, it was a wonderful conference. One of the main reasons that the Summer Institute is always so enjoyable is because the organizers always manage to bring in great speakers. This year was no different as the speakers included Fr. Benedict Groeschel, Ms. Mary Stanford, Bishop Thomas Welsh, Bishop Robert Morlino, Dr. Timothy O'Donnell, and Sen. Rick Santorum.
A few weeks after the conference, L asked to see some pictures of the speakers. While looking on the Christendom College Web site, I found that the college posts podcasts of lectures that are given as part of the school's speakers program. However, I was disappointed to not find the Summer Institute talks on the Christendom podcast site.
It turns out, I just needed to be patient. Today, I received an email from Tom McFadden who is the Director of Admissions at Christendom. He had read my blog entry on the Christendom College podcast site, and he sent me an email to let me know that the Summer Institute podcasts have been made available.
I appreciate Tom's heads up on the podcasts being posted, and I am happy to pass on the information. It is certainly worth taking the time to listen to these talks. To listen to them, as well as other lectures given at the college during the academic year, click here
Posted by David at 12:00 AM
Monday, September 17, 2007
Vatican Confirms Requirement to Provide Feeding Tubes
In response to questions posed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the Vatican has confirmed the moral obligation to provide nutrition and hydration to patients who are in a vegetative state.
In light of the tragic case of Ms. Terri Schiavo who was put to death by starvation and dehydration , the USCCB asked the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) for a clarification on the Church's teaching on this issue.
The response which was approved by Pope Benedict XVI, confirmed that "the church position that patients in a 'vegetative state' are living human beings with inherent dignity and deserve the same basic care as other patients. This basic care would include nutrition and hydration, even when provided through artificial assistance."
Furthermore, the CDF indicated that the food and hydration should be given regardless of the prognosis of the patient regarding consciousness. The CDF stated that, "ordinary and proportionate care which includes, in principle, the administration of water and food even by artificial means" should be supplied regardless of the prognosis of recovery of consciousness.
In a separate commentary, the CDF did note that there might be exceptions to this moral obligation, but these would be rare. Such circumstances might be remote places with extreme poverty, a situation in which it is futile to provide food and water because the patient is unable to assimilate the nutrition and hydration, or a case in which the discomfort of the reception of food and water far outweighs the benefits of providing it. In the Q&A document written by the USCCB to help apply this teaching, the example given for this last case is a patient who has stomach cancer. In this case, the patient may not be able to assimilate the food and water without great discomfort. Even given these exceptions, the CDF made clear that the exceptions do not negate the general provision that giving food and water, even by artificial means, represents "a natural means for providing life."
It would have been fairly easy to anticipate these answers. John Paul the Great made it clear that nutrition and hydration were ordinary means of care for a person regardless of the person's level of consciousness. The natural law, which is often understood as common sense, dictates that you cannot starve or dehydrate a person simply because the person is not conscious as is commonly understood. The fact that this was permitted to be done to Ms. Terri Schiavo, not to mention the numerous other people whose stories are lesser known, is a horrific and deeply disturbing tragedy.
Documents: The responses from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) A CDF commentary
, approved by Cardinal William Levada and bishop members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the FaithA Q&A from the USCCB Committee on Doctrine and Committee on Pro-Life Activities
Posted by David at 1:45 AM
Thursday, September 13, 2007
I just recently discovered the Virtual Rosary
. It is a small desktop application which guides you through praying the Rosary. There are attractive images, simple music, and meditations for each bead in the five decades. It comes in various languages, and it is up-to-date as it includes the Luminous Mysteries inaugurated by John Paul the Great. The Web site also offers additional modules with different meditations including ones based on St. Louis de Monfort. And for those who need it, there is a reminder feature.
The Web site states the goals.
Virtual Rosary is a free program with three goals in mind:
- To teach the rosary and make it simple with the program's super-easy operation.
- To help keep the rosary refreshing and deep for anyone with the aid of scripture, illustrations, and music.
- To build a worldwide community of people to pray for each other through the PrayerCast network.
I think it is a terrific idea for encouraging praying the Rosary. I, myself, would rather not look at a computer monitor while praying the Rosary, but I am sure many people find this very useful as an aid in their prayer life. I added a link to the site on the right pane under Web sites of Interest.
Labels: Prayer, Resource
Posted by David at 1:30 AM
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Christendom College Podcasts
This past July, we made our annual journey to the Christendom College Summer Institute
. It was a wonderful day of inspiring speakers and a beautiful mass at the school's Christ the King Chapel. The theme this year was defending the family, and the speakers included Fr. Benedict Groeschel, Ms. Mary Stanford, Bishop Thomas Welsh, Bishop Robert Morlino, Dr. Timothy O'Donnell, and Sen. Rick Santorum. As usual, we had a great time, and we left with much food for thought. (We also left with a few books, but that might need another post.)
L was with us, as well, so we sat together to hear the talks as much as we could, but when she got fidgety, I would take her outside to walk or stroll around the attractive campus. Fortunately, unlike most summers before, the temperature was rather mild for a day in the middle of July. One highlight was that M was able to speak with Fr. Groeschel. She enjoyed her chat with him, and she found him to have that wonderful fully human ability to relate to someone right away.
Yesterday, L wanted to see some pictures of the speakers that she had heard at the conference. (She has a remarkable memory for names and places for an almost three-year-old.) While showing her the picures of the speakers, I came across a podcast site
where the school posts lectures from their speakers program
which occurs during the academic year. I thought this was a site worth noting because the College draws a number of good speakers during the year, in addition to its own faculty including the remarkable Founding President Dr. Warren Carroll. Unfortunately, the Summer Institute talks are not posted here because they must be purchased.
Posted by David at 2:00 AM
Monday, September 03, 2007
Pope calls for more Catholics to help protect the Environment
The Holy Father was in Loreto, Italy during the first two days of September as he presided over a national meeting of young people. Yesterday, in the homily at the concluding Mass, he urged the young people to consider the importance of helping to preserve the environment.
I appreciate the Holy Father highlighting this important area of justice. Ever since I was quite young, I have had a great interest in the environment. I remember at an early age reading magazines like National and International Wildlife and Audubon. In fact, one of my elementary school teachers predicted that I would become an environmental lawyer.
I never wound up in law school, but after receiving my degree in mechanical engineering, I have been able to work for several consulting firms that to a lesser or greater degree allowed me to work in my area of interest. My current job is the most directly related to preserving the environment, in particular, improving air quality.
I am grateful for the opportunity to work in this area because I know that it does make a difference in improving the lives of others. I have come to understand that preserving the environment is indeed an issue of justice because we are responsible for how we treat God's creation, particularly humans, and we are called to consider what legacy we will leave for future generations.
I can only echo the Holy Father's call to young people to be involved in this work. Faithful Christians can make an important impact by maintaining that any work to preserve the environment must keep human beings, created in the image and likeness of God, as the focus of all efforts.
The world is in urgent need of Catholics working to protect the environment, says Benedict XVI.
Following Christ, the Holy Father affirmed, brings with it "the continual effort to make one's own contribution to building a more just and solidary society, where all can enjoy the goods of the earth."
"I know that many of you dedicate yourselves with generosity to bear witness to your own faith in various social ambits, volunteering, working to promote the common good, peace and justice in every community," he said. "One of the areas in which work appears to be urgent is without a doubt that of protecting creation.
"To the new generations the future of the planet is entrusted, in which there are evident signs of a development that has not always known how to safeguard the delicate equilibriums of nature.
"Before it is too late, it is necessary to make courageous decisions that reflect knowing how to re-create a strong alliance between man and the earth.
"A decisive 'yes' to the protection of creation is necessary and a firm commitment to reverse those tendencies that run the risk of bringing about situations of unstoppable degradation."
Benedict XVI applauded an initiative from the Church in Italy to promote sensitivity to the issue of protecting creation. Sept. 1 has been established as a national day for promoting awareness of these matters.
"This year," the Holy Father observed, "attention is focused above all on water, a most precious good that, if it is not shared in a fair and peaceful way, will unfortunately become a cause for significant tensions and bitter conflicts."
Labels: Holy Father
Posted by David at 8:15 PM
Sunday, September 02, 2007
Another Look at the Pharisees
In his commentary on this Sunday's liturgical readings, the Pontifical Household preacher, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa offers a different view of the Pharisees. One of the major religious groups of Jesus' day, the Pharisees have become synonymous with hypocrites. Fr. Cantalamessa points out the problems and the harm in making this judgement of the Pharisees.
The beginning of this Sunday's Gospel helps us to correct a widely diffused prejudice: "One Sabbath when he went to dine at the house of a ruler who belonged to the Pharisees, they were watching him." Reading the Gospel from a certain angle we have ended up making the Pharisees the prototype for all vices: hypocrisy, duplicity, falsity; Jesus' enemies par excellence. The terms "Pharisee" and "Pharisaical" have entered into the vocabulary of many languages with negative connotations.
Such an idea of the Pharisees is not correct. There were certainly many among them who corresponded to this negative image and it is with these that Jesus has serious problems. But not all of them were like this. Nicodemus, who comes to see Jesus one night and who later defended him before the Sanhedrin, was a Pharisee (cf. John 3:1; 7:50ff.). Saul was a Pharisee before his conversion and was certainly a sincere and zealous person then, if misguided. Gamaliel, who defended the apostles before the Sanhedrin, was a Pharisee (cf. Acts 5:34ff.).
Jesus' relationships with the Pharisees were not only conflictual. They often shared the same convictions, such as faith in the resurrection of the dead and the love of God and neighbor as the first and most important commandment of the law. Some, as we see in Sunday's Gospel, even invited Jesus to dinner at their house. Today there is agreement that the Pharisees did not want Jesus to be condemned as much as their rival sect, the Sadducees, who belonged to Jerusalem's priestly caste.
For all these reasons, it would be a very good thing to stop using the terms "Pharisee" and "Pharisaical" in a disparaging way. This would also help dialogue with the Jews who recall with great respect the role played by the Pharisees in their history, especially after the destruction of Jerusalem.
From Zenit (Also for the full commentary)
To view the liturgical readings for today, click on the link, Today's Mass Readings in the top right of this post.
Posted by David at 8:30 AM
Saturday, September 01, 2007
September Prayer Intentions
- That the ecumenical assembly in Romania this month may contribute to the growth of unity among all Christians.
Pope Benedict is concerned about the Church in Europe, a continent that has seen a long decline in all traditional Christian churches. Europe seems to have forgotten its first love, the Crucified and the Risen Jesus Christ, and the darkness of relativism has invaded all the institutions of Europe. Missionary
Opposing this darkness, the 3rd European Ecumenical Assembly has chosen this theme: "The light of Christ shines upon all. Hope for renewal and unity in Europe." Ironically, the diminished churches bring an opportunity for greater unity as 3,000 delegates gather in Sibiu, Romania, September 4-8.
This meeting culminates a “pilgrimage” of the major Christian traditions of Europe as they listen together to the Word of Christ and seek the essence of what makes us Christian. At the Last Supper, Jesus prayed that all his followers might be one in him. He knew how easily divisions set in, even among sincere followers.
With Jesus, we pray that the assembly delegates may grow in understanding, love, and unity through the power of the Holy Spirit. We pray for the light of Christ on them as they discuss many topics, including the visible unity of the Church, the reconciliation between peoples and cultures, the safeguarding of creation, and the dialogue with other religions and philosophical viewpoints, starting with Judaism and Islam.
We pray that they may set in motion a powerful unification of all Christians in Europe and throughout the world.
- That following Christ joyfully, all missionaries may know how to overcome the difficulties they meet in everyday life.
While celebrating Eucharist with fellow bishops in Brazil this past May, Pope Benedict spoke of the missionary nature of the Church. As Jesus was the missionary of the Father, so the Church extends Christ’s love throughout the world.
What difficulties face today’s missionaries? According to the Holy Father, "secularized culture, the crisis of the family, the drop in vocations, the aging of the clergy, churches closing in on themselves, and lowered hopes" are difficulties more formidable than perilous travel, primitive life, and savage rejection such as have afflicted past missionary efforts.
Some of today’s greatest missionary difficulties arise from the need to re-evangelize formerly Christian nations and peoples.
We pray in obedience to the Holy Father that missionaries may be full of Christ’s joy. We pray that their joy will give them strength and understanding needed to overcome the serious difficulties they face in their work.
Rather than lose hope ourselves, we ask God to make us passionate about evangelization in all its forms. Let us see new opportunities in new technologies. Let us welcome missionaries into our own midst. And, most of all, let us give ourselves to the missions in our prayers. We Apostles of Prayer seek everyday to “be apostles now.” We venture by our prayers into all the difficulties faced by the men and women missionaries we support.
With joy, with hope, we offer ourselves in prayer for missionaries today. We will offer ourselves again tomorrow—and again and again—until God’s Kingdom comes.
That God may bless and strengthen the pro-life efforts of college students.
Labels: Prayer Intentions
Posted by David at 9:30 AM
No Words Can Express their Grief
In very sad news, Jude Gilliam, the two-year-old boy who was in the ICU, has passed away. This little boy had captured the hearts of so many who were supporting his family and praying for his full recovery. We entrust him to our Heavenly Father, and we grieve with his family at their terrible loss. I do not think that words can capture what they must be feeling at this time. How can parents ever bury their child, especially a child so young?
A memorial service will be held on Tuesday. For more information and to read the notes signed in the guest book, click here
Please join your prayers with many others who are praying for the family that is mourning the loss of such a young child.
Labels: Prayer Request
Posted by David at 8:45 AM
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Prayer Request for a 2-year-old boy in ICU
Obviously, it has been quite some time since I last posted. I am compelled to add an entry asking for prayer for Jude Gilliam, who is a 2-year-old boy in an intensive care unit. He is in the hospital because several days ago, he was pulled from his grandparents' pool after having nearly drowned.
Now in the ICU, he is being assisted with life support machines, and the medical staff continue to monitor his brain activity. There was significant swelling in his brain, and the doctors believe that his upper brain which controls movement, speech, and sight has not been working since he was pulled out of the pool.
The little boy is one of four children in the Gilliam family. My wife and I are acquainted with Robert, the father of the little boy, and we also know a number of the other family members and friends who have been affected by this terrible accident.
As parents ourselves, we cannot image what this family has endured and continues to face. It is simply a parent's worst nightmare to see your child hooked up to machines in an ICU. We, too, have known this horrible experience, and our hearts and prayers go out to the Gilliam family.
Many people throughout the world have expressed their support and empathy for the family. In addition, a number of friends and family members are keeping a prayer watch at the hospital. The family has expressed tremendous faith that God will heal their little boy Jude.
I would ask you to join your prayers with all of those who are praying. Pray that little Jude has a full recovery. I thank you for your prayers, and I know the family would, as well.
For more information, click here
. On this site you can read the journal entries from family and friends, and you can view the hundreds of kind notes that have been added to the site.
I thought, given his name, that it is quite appropriate to ask for the intercession of the patron of desperate situations. St. Jude, pray for us ...
Labels: Prayer Request
Posted by David at 2:00 AM
Positive Discipline: No spanking
If you are a parent, you owe it to yourself to look into the whole concept of positive discipline. The ideas put forth by Dr. Jane Nelsen and others are fairly simple, but, depending on how you were raised, may require you to think about things completely differently than you have.
The basic premise is that it is unnecessary to use strictly punitive methods to discipline children. As it is often stated in the Positive Discipline books, why is it a given that you have to make children feel badly in order to teach them how to behave. Translated into practical terms, parents are discouraged from ever using spanking or any type of hitting to punish children.
Now this flies in the face of many people's assumptions that spanking is quite alright. After all, spanking was the discipline method of many people's parents and they turned out okay. Dr. Nelsen replies:
He: There are times when it is necessary to spank my children to teach them important lessons. For example, I spank my two-year-old to teach her not to run into the street.
She: After you have spanked your two-year-old to teach her not to run in the street, will you let her play unsupervised by a busy street?
He: Well, no.
She: Why not? If the spanking teaches her not to run into the street, why can't she play unsupervised by the street? How many times would you need to spank her before you would feel she has learned the lesson well enough?
He: Well, I wouldn't let her play unsupervised near a busy street until she was six or seven years old.
She: I rest my case. Parents have the responsibility to supervise young children in dangerous situations until children are old enough to handle that situation. All the spanking in the world won't teach a child until he or she is developmentally ready. Meanwhile you can gently teach. When you take your children to the park, invite them to look up the street and down the street to see if cars are coming and tell you when it is safe to cross the street. Still, still you won't let them go to the park alone until they are six or seven.
Studies show that approximately 85 percent of all parents of children under twelve years old resort to spanking when frustrated, yet only 8 to 10 percent believe that it is dignified or effective. Sixty-five percent say that they would prefer to teach through positive methods to improve behavior, but they don't know how. This book shows you how.
A response to the argument that adults who were spanked by their parents turned out okay can be found here
. The basic idea is that although a lesson may have been taught and even caught when punitive means were used, it might not have been the best lesson for the child.
For our part, we have never spanked our daughter, and we have no intention of ever doing so. The key for us is to remain firm but kind while keeping in mind that the goal of discipline is to teach our daughter to become the respectful, responsible adult we want her to become. We want her to want to be virtuous. We do not want her to want to be good because she fears the wrath of her parents (or God) if she does not behave. This goes beyond getting her to mind us. That can be accomplished via shaming types of punishment, but in the long run, it will only cause problems. Finally, there are alternative methods for teaching her to behave even in the midst of her misbehavior. For me, it requires looking at things from a different perspective than how I was raised. Shaming and strictly punitive methods were constantly used. Although I turned out okay, there are many problems I have carried with me into adulthood that I have no desire to pass on to my daughter.
I have only touched briefly on this philosophy of raising children. There is much more I could mention. For more information, check out Jane Nelsen's blog
and the Positive Discipline Web site
Posted by David at 12:58 AM