It’s probably closer to reason #2 or #3.

My favorite driver, Carl Edwards, (or, if I knew all my readers were NASCAR fans, I might refer to him just as #99.  Just kidding, I wouldn’t…) recently became a new father.

[side note: we pro-lifers need to fix the lingo here.  He didn’t just become a new father.  He’s been a father for nine months.  So I should say his wife recently gave birth to a daughter.  But that would require restructuring that sentence, which I’m too lazy to do.]

Edwards may have made the news this week for other reasons (namely, intentionally wrecking a fellow driver at 180 mph), but I’m not going to focus on that in this entry. [I’d be happy to share my opinions on what happened this weekend & Carl’s subsequent punishment, but for the sake of most of my readers- who probably aren’t NASCAR fans, I’ll refrain.]

Anyway, I did want to share this snippet from an article on nascar.com about Edwards’ new role as daddy:

“I had a lot of different emotions I didn’t plan on,” Edwards said about his daughter’s birth. “I was watching them cut the cord on the baby, then I thought, ‘Wait, Kate’s over here. Is she OK?’ It was just a rush of things all at once that I wasn’t prepared for. It’s just such a miracle.”

[Jimmie] Johnson also will become a father this summer. Elliott Sadler became a dad for the first time last week, and Jeff Gordon’s wife is expecting their second child later this year.

“It makes me kind of proud,” said Mark Martin, the resident grandpa of the Cup garage at age 51. “We went a long time with not many little ones coming into the sport. It felt strange.

“Now we’ve seen a steady growth of the families. It’s good to see. It’s the best experience anyone can have in life, bar none. And, really, these guys aren’t that young. They’re having kids at a great time, after they’ve had a chance to mature themselves.”

NASCAR is prolife!! 🙂

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Today is the feast of one of my favorite saints, St. Frances of Rome.  We developed a great friendship a few years ago in Rome, when I heard she was the patroness of Roman taxi drivers.  Figuring that someone who helped Roman taxi drivers might also help with buses, I began praying to her when we’d wait for buses.  She came through every time — even five years ago, today, when we desperately needed a bus on the day of a bus strike.  (She helped us out because we were headed to her house and church for her feast day!)

You can read her story here:  http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=49

It’s a fascinating story.  What a woman!  My favorite story about her is not included there, though.

She was praying the Psalms one day, when her husband and her children repeatedly interrupted her with their needs.  She repeatedly put the book aside and tended to their cares.  Each time she’d return to her prayers, she’d read the same line before getting interrupted again.  The last time she returned, the line had turned to gold.  God was reassuring her that she was doing His Will by faithfully answering their needs, as her primary vocation was wife and mother.  She was praying by her selflessness in leaving her prayers to help them.

She is now “buried” in her church (her body is visible behind glass, in a chapel underneath the high altar.  So I guess she’s not really buried!) in the Roman Forum, her hands still clutching that prayer book.

St. Francesca Romana, pray for us!

Three posts in one day.  Whew!

I had to post this… this news has made my day!!!  I wish I could throw a party!  But since I can’t, I’ll just sit here and drink Yuengling while blogging.

This morning, Pope Benedict approved 21 decrees to advance the causes for beatification and canonization of several future (we assume!) saints.  The list is full of great names, including Holy Cross priest Andre Bessette, a distant relative of friends of mine, and the incredible Polish Solidarity priest, Jerzy Popieluzsko, who was killed by the Communists.

It was no surprise that one of the causes he advanced (by declaring his life one of heroic virtue) was John Paul II, who can now properly be called “Venerable,” and who is now just a miracle away from beatification.  This news was pretty well-known.

But the surprise was the other pontiff whose heroic virtue was proclaimed.

Pope Pius XII!!!!

I’m so HAPPY!  One step closer to beatification, one step closer to canonization!!

From H. V. Morton’s A Traveler in Rome, one of the best books I’ve read on Rome, which was written during Pius’ lifetime:

“There probably has never been a Pope who is more certain to be canonized than Pius XII, and the stories I had heard about him made me anxious to see a man who will one day be numbered among the saints.”

Recommended reading to celebrate: Crown of Glory by Alden Hatch.

I’m feeling pretty accomplished.  I made a list this morning so that I could check things off.  And I’m over halfway finished with it.

The things that I checked off have been on the list in my head for quite some time.  Wrapping presents, finishing up Christmas cards, mailing packages — it took almost all day, but now they’re all checked off my list, and I feel ready for Christmas!

This afternoon I went to the post office.  I knew it was closed, but I just needed to use the little mail-it-yourself kiosk in the corridor.  When I got there, I wasn’t surprised to see a line of several people.  I mailed my Christmas letters, then stood in the line.

Perhaps you’ve noticed something about people around this time of the year.  They aren’t happy.  They’re impatient in traffic, tired of waiting in lines, and sick of the weather.  They’re either coming down with a cold, suffering through a cold, or recuperating from a cold.  I’m sure they don’t intend to be Mr. Scrooge or the Grinch, but they are.

Today at the post office, I was expecting nothing different.  I knew there would be a line, and figured it would be full of grouchy people, angry that the post office was closed and impatient that they had to wait.

Boy, was I wrong.  There were two ladies in front of me, and while they waited they asked me a few questions.  I could mail my package like that? (I was reusing an old Amazon box.)  Were they just going to print their postage and then put it in the big bin?  What about if they were using one of the flat-rate boxes?

I answered their questions, until the lady using the machine started to leave.  Her card wasn’t working, and she had decided to abandon her quest to mail her package.  One of the ladies encouraged her to try again.  She did, reluctantly, apologizing for holding us up.

The card worked.  The woman thanked us profusely for encouraging her to persevere.  She left, wishing us all a Merry Christmas.

Now it was the questioner’s turn.  She began the process, asking questions the whole way.  The woman behind me chimed in, helping her through the process.  Then that lady began asking me questions about the flat-rate boxes.

Everyone was SO NICE.  Everyone in line was talking, sharing stories.  Two women behind me began talking about the snowstorm on the east coast.  As it turns out, they both have cousins that live in D.C., and they swapped stories.

The questioner was getting frazzled because she felt like she was taking too long.  One woman reassured her that she was fine — “We’re all human, honey.”  I’m not sure what she meant by that, but it was nice.

Everyone wished each other a Merry Christmas as we all went on our way.

As I left the post office with the cold rain chilling me to the bone, entering the crazy traffic …  the world was a little merrier.

The Butterfly Circus

I’m not sure where my Mom found this or heard about it, but I’m glad she did and I’m glad she passed it along to me.

I can’t believe I haven’t watched it before now; she sent it to me way back in September and told me it would be the most inspiring 20 minutes of my day.  I was about to go to sleep when I opened the email, and twenty minutes seemed like a long time, so I just saved the email as new.

I didn’t go back to it for a few days, always thinking that 20 minutes was a big chunk of time.  How ridiculous!  It’s like the daily Rosary — we don’t take the time to stop and pray because “we don’t have time,” but then how often do we spend 20 minutes (or more!) wandering aimless through the internet, not realizing the time we’ve wasted until we glance down at the computer clock to see we traveled through a time-warp?

Then the email got lost in my inbox, and I just saw it again. This time, I realized 20 minutes was nothing.

Sorry… all of this is unnecessary rambling to come to my main point:

Watch this movie. I’m not going to say anything about it.  Just watch it.

It’s twenty minutes.  But it’ll be the most inspiring 20 minutes of your day.

The Butterfly Circus

I have a confession.

I have a weakness for Nutella crepes.  Could you all promise me something?  If you ever go to Rome, get a Nutella crepe.  Your life will never be the same.  Once you walk through old Roman streets, attempting to gracefully eat a melted glob of wonderfulness without getting Nutella all over the front of your shirt, your life will be different forever.

IMG_8594

You’ll be able to bite into a homemade Nutella crepe on your couch, 5,000 miles away from that Roman street, close your eyes, and be instantly transported back.  You’ll be able to feel the crisp spring evening air, hear the laughter of your friends, feel the weightlessness of heading home after a long day of class.  You’ll hear the buses struggle by, loaded down by their human cargo, swaying as they rumble over the cobblestones.

Or maybe it’s just me.

There’s something about Nutella– especially warm Nutella– that takes me back every time.  I suppose because it’s the one thing that can be closely duplicated in the States.  Gelato isn’t the same.  Ditto for pasta, pizza, and coffee.  But nutella– it’s there.  The taste.  The warm wonderfulness.

So, please, have a crepe when you’re over there.  It would make me really happy.

Thank you.

note: the picture above was taken by my dear friend Katy, who is entering a religious order called the Familia Spiritualis Opus, “the Work,” in Austria tomorrow morning– Austrian time, just a few hours from now.  Please keep her and her family in your prayers!

I didn’t watch much of the President last night– I was too busy watching Father Leo Patalinghug battle Bobby Flay in a fajita throwdown on the Food Network.

For those not familiar with the show, the premise is that Bobby Flay (a renowned chef and FoodNetwork personality) shows up unexpectedly and challenges regular chefs (small restaraunt owners, caterers, etc) to “throwdowns” over their speciality dishes.  The local chefs, who believe they are being featured on the FoodNetwork for their specialties, are often in the middle of presentations to large groups (families, friends, locals) as part of the FoodNetwork taping– and then Bobby Flay arrives.   Since the show has been on for a few seasons, the local chefs now know why Bobby Flay is standing before them– to challenge them to a throwdown.  Sometimes the local chef wins, sometimes Bobby Flay wins.  But everyone always has fun.

Last night was an episode I had been waiting for all summer– ever since Father Leo told his email list that he was doing a special for the Food Network.  My mom emailed my sister and I and predicted a throwdown.  Sure enough, the next week Father Leo emailed everyone and revealed that there had been a surprise appearance by Bobby Flay and it was a throwdown!

But we didn’t know who had won until last night.  It was a great show– Father Leo is great on camera (a natural!) and it was refreshing to have the Catholic faith portrayed so well!

I’d highly recommend a viewing of the show when it re-airs, Sep 20 at 11 p.m. and Sep 21 at 2 a.m.

Read an article from the Baltimore Sun here.