Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Sneak Peak at A Midsummer Night's Dream

It's production week! We open A Midsummer Night's Dream in five (5) days. In lieu of a lot of directorial bloviating about vision and theme, have some photos as we pull our set and costumes together.  And then, if you're in the Columbus, OH area next weekend, buy tickets and come see us!

Friday, March 17, 2023

Somber News for Josh


UPDATE from my sister-in-law Gail: 

I so wanted to share only good news with all of you tonight… I finally got to hold Joshua yesterday - the first time since his surgery. I was able to lift him out of bed myself and hold him without pillows or blankets propping him up. He even got to lay on my knees as I just gazed upon his chubby cheeks!

Unfortunately, we received a somber update from neurology this afternoon. Josh has not been moving, even after the sedatives have worn off. The doctors have also noticed that the cleft in his skull has grown more pronounced. They did an ultrasound - which showed that cysts have been growing where his brain should be, and that brain tissue is actually disappearing. The doctor explained this is not unexpected to them because the injury was so severe and so much of the brain tissue was damaged. So, the portions of the brain that die essentially get reabsorbed into the body and something needs to fill that space.

It seems that his lack of movement after coming off the surgery sedatives/paralytics is one indicator that he could be considered completely brain dead soon - and have nothing but cystic fluid where brain matter once was. 

They're going to give the meds a little more time to leave his body completely and see if he has any possibly purposeful movements. Similar to when they removed him from the ECMO machine and first discovered how pervasive the bleed was, if they don't see movement, or any signs of neural responses they could conduct a test that would declare him "brain dead" at which point they would remove support. They are not pursuing this avenue yet. They need to be absolutely sure that medications are not causing his lack of response. 

He has started showing some basic reflexes, the question remains is are those movements rooted in the spinal cord or are they directed by the brain.

In January, they were considering pursing this same test. It was after that that John anointed Joshua’s whole body in holy water from Lourdes. The next day, Joshua surprised all the doctors by kicking his legs - showing us that, though minimal, there was some communication between his body and brain. We are asking you to storm heaven with us these next several days. Pray that God’s divine intervention would heal sweet Joshua. Pray for a miraculous healing through the intercession of Fr. Emil Kapaun. 

Tonight, our hearts are a little heavier than they were before. But we are trying to place our trust completely in the Lord. We know that God has the final say on Joshua’s life. This may be God’s way of preparing our hearts to say good bye. Or it may be God’s way of preparing the world to see His miraculous healing. And until one of those things is made known to us - we will cherish our time with Joshua now - loving on those sweet baby cheeks and cute little baby toes!

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Repost: π with Jesus

Originally posted March 14, 2017.

It's the second week of Lent, which means that observance has lost its zest. I don't know about you, but I'm yearning for a bit of chocolate. Not a bright, hopeful yearning; a dry, intellectual, arid yearning, because I know I'm not going to eat chocolate anyway. I just want it because it's better than not-chocolate.

So we search for a reason to celebrate, and not the corny-beef celebration of St. Patrick's Day dispensations (which St. Patrick would have disdained) but something rounder, to bring us full circle. And lo! It is Pi Day, 3.14. But we cannot fudge on Pi Day without bringing it into some greater religious context. And not just the context of "God made it, and it is good," because God made chocolate too, and we're not eating that.

Of course, the key question is: would Jesus have known about Pi? Not known-known as God knows all things, but as a person growing up in a first-century Jewish culture, in the course of his human knowledge would he have been likely to encounter the concept of Pi?

Dr. Google offers us thoughts on "mathematics in ancient Israel pi", presenting The Secret Jewish History of Pi:
The relationship between a circle’s diameter — a line running straight through cutting it into two equal halves — and its circumference — the distance around the circle – was originally mentioned in the Hebrew Book of Kings in reference to a ritual pool in King Solomon’s Temple. The relevant verse (1 Kings 7:23) states that the diameter of the pool was ten cubits and the circumference 30 cubits. In other words, the Bible rounds off Pi to about three, as if to say that’s good enough for horseshoes and swimming pools. 
Later on, the rabbis of the Mishnah and the Talmud, who knew that the one-third ratio wasn’t completely accurate, had a field day with the Bible having played fast and loose with the facts, arguing in their characteristic manner that of course it depended on whether you measured the pool from the inside or the outside of the vessel’s wall. They also had fun with some of the Gematria – the numerical value – of the words in the original passage, which when you play around with them a bit indeed come a lot closer to the value of Pi, spelling it out to several decimal points.
"Secret" here might be a bit sensationalistic, seeing as 1Kings is not exactly an occult piece of literature. The Journal of Mathematics and Culture May 2006, V1(1) offers us a more scholarly explanation via Lawrence Mark Lesser's article "Book of Numbers: Exploring Jewish Mathematics and Culture at a Jewish High School":
A value of π can be obtained from I Kings 7:23: 
“He made the ‘sea’ of cast [metal] ten cubits from its one lip to its [other] lip, circular all around, five cubits its height; a thirty-cubit line could encircle it all around.” 
It appears the value of π implied here is simply 30/10 (an error of 4.5%) until a student asks if we need to consider the tank’s thickness -- given three verses later as one-handbreadth, so the inner diameter is 10 cubits minus 2 handbreadths. (Of course, this is also a chance to discuss issues of measurement!) Using the Talmudic value of 1/6 cubit for one handbreadth, the inner diameter becomes 9 2/3 cubits and dividing 30 by 9 2/3 yields more accuracy (error: 1.2%). Applying a more subtle and technical approach to I Kings 7:23 (see Posamentier & Lehmann 2004 or 20 Tsaban & Garber 1998), the ratio of gematrias for the written and spoken forms of a key Hebrew word (for “line”) in that verse is 111/106, which when multiplied by 3 yields a very refined approximation for π : 333/106 (error: 0.0026%). Very few words in the Torah have different oral and written forms. 
By Jewish Encyclopedia [Public domain or Public domain]

Jesus was well versed in the law and the prophets, and it is not a stretch to assume that the account of the building of Solomon's Temple and the fashioning of the great pillars and vessels of bronze was known to him. Could he have known about pi? Could he? Should we doubt his scriptural knowledge? Listen to this.
After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them. (Luke 2:46-50)
Do you not understand? Jesus, in the Temple itself, astounding the teachers with his knowledge and his answers, and talking of his Father's house -- the very house for which the bronze vessel was created*? Even his parents could not understand Pi, as happens with so many parents dealing with their children's math.

My friends. The Scriptures themselves proclaim Pi. Take and eat.

*Not actually the very house, since it was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC, and not the very basin, since 2 Kings tells us that the Chaldeans destroyed it. But still.

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Help for Baby Josh and the Egan Family

Kind readers, many of you have reached out to me and asked how you can offer practical support for my nephew Josh and my brother's family. I'm hosting a GoFundMe for the family, where they can post updates and photos. The current medical costs my brother and his wife are facing are astronomical, and the ongoing costs for Josh's care will be intensive and lifelong. Your prayers are of course the greatest aid you can give, but if you feel moved to contribute, that help is much needed and deeply appreciated.

Please feel free to share this!

Thursday, March 09, 2023

Josh's Surgery

UPDATE from my SIL: 

Joshua’s surgery was successful! He has remained stable both through the surgery and since coming back to the NICU for recovery. He will remain on paralytics and heavily sedated until Tuesday. On Tuesday, they will change out his trache for the first time and then slowly start to bring him out from sedation. In the meantime, he remains on IV fluids and will have his first taste of momma’s milk through his new g-tube tomorrow afternoon.

The name of the game is: rest all weekend long! And while he rests in bed, I’ll just stare at those sweet chubby cheeks and take in all the cuteness of his heart shaped lips and squidgee little nose!

Surgery for Joshua Today

An update from my sister-in-law on Joshua's surgery today:

We have a big day ahead of us. Joshua will receive a tracheotomy with ventilator and g-tube today. Doctors anticipate he will need the support of a ventilator and trache for the rest of his life. 

They will place a tube directly into his trachea (his throat) that will both protect his airway and help him continue to breath. They will also place a g-tube directly into his stomach for him to receive food. While this surgery is life-altering and will require a great deal of ongoing care, it will also provide more stability for Joshua. It also means we will be able to see Joshua’s sweet face, unobstructed by tubes and wires and tape. I will be able to hold him without nursing support. Currently, when I hold Joshua, it requires 2 nurses to place him in my arms and I need to stay still in the chair with him for at least an hour. Then it takes 2 nurses to put him safely back in bed.

After Joshua’s surgery, he will remain heavily sedated (I won’t be able to hold him) for about a week while the site of the surgery heals and they do the first tube change. His trache tube needs to be replaced once a week. Eventually, John and I will be trained on how to care for and change his tracheotomy.

Today, included lots of snuggles with mommy and some quality sibling time. A Child Life Specialist at the hospital met with Ben, Sam, and Hannah to show them what a tracheotomy looks like and talk about how it works. They each received a doll that has a tracheotomy. All the children (Benjamin especially) are very excited for this next step in Joshua’s journey. They can’t wait to see his sweet baby cheeks. And Benjamin is eager to hold his baby brother in his lap!

Joshua’s surgery is scheduled for 1:00pm today and should last about 4 hours. Please pray for Josh and his whole team of surgeons.

Saturday, March 04, 2023

An Accompaniment of Lies

Cardinal McElroy of San Diego has made his fair share of news lately by penning a pair of pieces for America Magazine. 

In the first, he writes about what he calls a synodality of inclusion. He espouses several controversial views, including suggesting that the Church use the Synod on Synodality as an opportunity to reexamine the question of ordaining women as priests, though he admits that this reexamination will likely still result in deciding not to move forward.

However, he wraps up with a section on what he calls the Christological Paradox in which amidst a great deal of word salad he calls for "a eucharistic theology that effectively invites all of the baptized to the table of the Lord". Although the cardinal apparently later clarified on a podcast interview that despite the plain meaning of his words, he was not in fact endorsing intercommunion with baptized Christians who are not members of the Catholic Church, what he was very much doing was arguing that people not be encouraged to hold back from receiving the Eucharist when they know themselves to be in a state of unrepented mortal sin.

Since America Magazine can be rather finicky in terms of allowing people to read their articles without paying for the privilege (and I managed to use multiple browser profiles to get both articles up without paying for this pair of articles which are clearly not worth money to read) I'll quote that section at length.  Feel free to skim.

The report of the synodal dialogues from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops points to an additional and distinct element of exclusion in the life of the church: “Those who are marginalized because circumstances in their own lives are experienced as impediments to full participation in the life of the church.” These include those who are divorced and remarried without a declaration of nullity from the church, members of the L.G.B.T. community and those who are civilly married but have not been married in the church.

These exclusions touch upon important teachings of the church about the Christian moral life, the commitments of marriage and the meaning of sexuality for the disciple. It is very likely that discussions of all of these doctrinal questions will take place at the synodal meetings this fall and next year in Rome.

But the exclusion of men and women because of their marital status or their sexual orientation/activity is pre-eminently a pastoral question, not a doctrinal one. Given our teachings on sexuality and marriage, how should we treat remarried or L.G.B.T. men and women in the life of the church, especially regarding questions of the Eucharist?

“Enlarge the Space of Your Tent” cites a contribution from the Catholic Church of England and Wales, which provides a guidepost for responding to this pastoral dilemma: “The dream is of a church that more fully lives a Christological paradox: boldly proclaiming its authentic teaching while at the same time offering a witness of radical inclusion and acceptance through its pastoral and discerning accompaniment.” In other words, the church is called to proclaim the fullness of its teaching while offering a witness of sustained inclusion in its pastoral practice.

As the synodal process begins to discern how to address the exclusion of divorced and remarried and L.G.B.T. Catholics, particularly on the issue of participation in the Eucharist, three dimensions of Catholic faith support a movement toward inclusion and shared belonging.

The first is the image that Pope Francis has proposed to us of the church as a field hospital. The primary pastoral imperative is to heal the wounded. And the powerful pastoral corollary is that we are all wounded. It is in this fundamental recognition of our faith that we find the imperative to make our church one of accompaniment and inclusion, of love and mercy. Pastoral practices that have the effect of excluding certain categories of people from full participation in the life of the church are at odds with this pivotal notion that we are all wounded and all equally in need of healing.

The second element of Catholic teaching that points to a pastoral practice of comprehensive inclusion is the reverence for conscience in Catholic faith. Men and women seeking to be disciples of Jesus Christ struggle with enormous challenges in living out their faith, often under excruciating pressures and circumstances. While Catholic teaching must play a critical role in the decision making of believers, it is conscience that has the privileged place. Categorical exclusions undermine that privilege precisely because they cannot encompass the inner conversation between women and men and their God.

The third element of Catholic teaching that supports a pastoral stance of inclusion and shared belonging in the church is the counterpoised realities of human brokenness and divine grace that form the backdrop for any discussion of worthiness to receive the Eucharist. As Pope Francis stated in “Gaudete et Exultate,” “grace, precisely because it builds on nature, does not make us superhuman all at once.... Grace acts in history; ordinarily it takes hold of us and transforms us progressively” (No. 50).

Here lies the foundation for Pope Francis’ exhortation “to see the Eucharist not as a prize for the perfect, but as a source of healing for us all.” The Eucharist is a central element of God’s grace- filled transformation of all the baptized. For this reason, the church must embrace a eucharistic theology that effectively invites all of the baptized to the table of the Lord, rather than a theology of eucharistic coherence that multiplies barriers to the grace and gift of the eucharist. Unworthiness cannot be the prism of accompaniment for disciples of the God of grace and mercy.

It will be objected that the church cannot accept such a notion of radical inclusion because the exclusion of divorced and remarried and L.G.B.T. persons from the Eucharist flows from the moral tradition in the church that all sexual sins are grave matter. This means that all sexual actions outside of marriage are so gravely evil that they constitute objectively an action that can sever a believer’s relationship with God. This objection should be faced head on.

The effect of the tradition that all sexual acts outside of marriage constitute objectively grave sin has been to focus the Christian moral life disproportionately upon sexual activity. The heart of Christian discipleship is a relationship with God the Father, Son and Spirit rooted in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The church has a hierarchy of truths that flow from this fundamental kerygma. Sexual activity, while profound, does not lie at the heart of this hierarchy. Yet in pastoral practice we have placed it at the very center of our structures of exclusion from the Eucharist. This should change.

In his follow-up post (just published on March 2nd), Cardinal McElroy seeks to respond to his critics and expand on his thinking.  While there is some incredibly wrong-headed material in there in which McElroy attempts to argue that the Church has for the last three hundred years treated sexual sins as being uniquely sinful among all sins, including this gem of a section:

It is automatically an objective mortal sin for a husband and wife to engage in a single act of sexual intercourse utilizing artificial contraception. This means the level of evil present in such an act is objectively sufficient to sever one’s relationship with God.

It is not automatically an objective mortal sin to physically or psychologically abuse your spouse.

It is not automatically an objective mortal sin to exploit your employees.

It is not automatically an objective mortal sin to discriminate against a person because of her gender or ethnicity or religion.

It is not automatically an objective mortal sin to abandon your children.

This is one of those frustrating examples where Catholic critics of the Church's teaching end up sounding a lot like anti-Catholics, asserting that the Church teaches things which the Church does not and never has taught.  Not only is "objective mortal sin" not a category (he seems to be conflating "objectively sinful" as in some act which is always by its nature wrong, such as lying, and "gravely sinful", as in some sin serious enough that if done with full intent and knowledge it constitutes a mortal sin, and imagining that there is some set of sins, apparently including only sexual sins, which are automatically damning regardless of knowledge or intent) but all the other things he mentions would very clearly be considered very grave matter.

But eventually McElroy gets around to laying out his argument for why the Church should get rid of any idea of mortal sin (or at least, sexual sin) being a barrier to receiving the Eucharist:

I proposed that the Eucharist is given to us as a profound grace in our conversion to discipleship. As Pope Francis reminds us, the Eucharist is “not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.” To bar disciples from that grace blocks one of the principal pathways Christ has given to them to reform their lives and accept the Gospel ever more fully. For all of these reasons, I proposed that divorced and remarried or L.G.B.T. Catholics who are ardently seeking the grace of God in their lives should not be categorically barred from the Eucharist.
The pastoral theology of Pope Francis requires that the liturgical and sacramental life of the church be formed in compassionate embrace with the often overwhelming life challenges that prevent men and women at some periods in their life from conforming fully with important Gospel challenges. And the pastoral theology of Pope Francis rejects a notion of law that can be blind to the uniqueness of concrete human situations, human suffering and human limitation.

There are three fundamental foundations for this pastoral theology.

The first foundation for the pastoral theology that Pope Francis is pointing to lies in the recognition that the church should mirror the pastoral action of the Lord himself. It is the pattern of Jesus Christ who walked the earth that we are to incorporate into every element of ecclesial life. First, the Lord embraces the person, then he heals them. Then he calls the person to reform. Each of these elements of the saving encounter with the Lord is essential. But their order is also essential. Christ first reveals the overpowering merciful and limitless love of God. Then he moves to heal the particular form of suffering that the person is experiencing. And only then does he call the person specifically to a change in that person’s life.

This pattern must become ever more deeply the model for the church’s proclamation of the faith and healing action in the world. This must be the imitatio Christi for a pastoral church in an age that rejects abstraction, authority and tradition. The clear recognition of sin and the call to change one’s life to conform more fully with the Gospel is essential to Christian conversion and the achievement of true happiness in this world and the next. But that call must be expressed in the tender, compassionate welcome of a church that patiently ministers over time, as Christ did.

The second principle of Pope Francis’ pastoral theology is that the church must be committed to true accompaniment. In “The Gospel of Joy” (“Evangelii Gaudium”), Pope Francis expresses both the depth of commitment and the openness that must suffuse pastoral life and action in the church. “The Church will have to initiate everyone—priests, religious and laity—into this ‘art of accompaniment’ which teaches us to remove our sandals before the sacred ground of the other.” The challenge of this is to come to see others as God sees them, incredibly precious souls, individual in nature and identity, yet equally treasured by the Lord.

The final foundation for the pastoral theology that Pope Francis is delineating for the life of the church is the assertion that the church’s identity, teaching and action must be rooted in the life situations that men and women actually experience in the world today. Every disciple encounters certain enormously complex circumstances that consistently prevent him or her from living out the teaching of the church in its fullness. Those who are divorced and remarried or sexually active members of the L.G.B.T. communities are among them. Pastoral theology and accompaniment seek to recapitulate and replicate the saving encounter of Jesus Christ with the saint and the sinner who resides in every human soul, touching every dimension of human existence in the real world, inviting all striving disciples to the eucharistic banquet in this world and the next.

All right, having given the cardinal his say, let's try to look at what's wrong with all this.

McElroy proposes that the Church change both how he alleges the Church defines the gravity of sexual sin (though since his representation of Church teaching here is so wrong, it's hard to tell how seriously to take this) and whether people who are living in situations of grave sin should receive communion, because he says that if all the baptized are welcomed "to the table of the Lord" the medicine of the Church's sacraments will work on those people and they will grow in their love of Christ.

He says that this is how Christ worked in the Gospels: He says that first Christ embraced the person, then He healed him, and finally He called him to repent.

As a factual matter, this is not Christ's order of operations in all Gospel encounters.

For instance, the first incident that occurs to me from the Gospels when people are arguing about the requirements of the moral life would be the story of the rich young man (Mk 10:17-31 or Lk 18:18-30).  In that example, a young man approaches Jesus and asks Him how he may get to heaven. Jesus first lists off the commandments. When the young man says that he does indeed obey all these commandments, Jesus tells him that the one additional thing he must do is sell all that he has, give it to the poor, and then come follow Him. When the young man is discouraged by this difficult demand and "went away sad", Jesus does not embrace him or accompany him, he turns to others nearby and observes, “How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!”  When His own disciples are discouraged by this, Jesus says, “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come. But many that are first will be last, and [the] last will be first.”

Or to consider another oft cited passage, about the woman caught in adultery. There, Christ first rescues the woman from stoning. Next He tells her that He does not condemn her -- perhaps we might take it from that that He forgives her, or perhaps McElroy would describe this as Christ embracing her. And last of all He tells her to go and sin no more.

There is probably some example in the Gospels in which Jesus acts in the manner and order that McElroy describes, though off the top of my head I can't think of one.

But whatever we take this three step order of encounter (embrace, heal, call to repentance) to mean, McElroy insists that it must be the first foundation of how the Church ministers to people in modern times.

He then says the second foundation is accompaniment.  And the third foundation is recognizing that in this world everything is so hideously complicated that: "Every disciple encounters certain enormously complex circumstances that consistently prevent him or her from living out the teaching of the church in its fullness."

McElroy is oddly hesitant to state clearly what his program is, but if we may take these three foundations to sum it up, it would seem it is roughly speaking: 

1) embrace first, heal second, call to repentance last

2) accompany people

3) recognize that the world is just so complex that some people just can't live morally in it

McElroy seems to be saying that if we embrace people (by which he means not simply knowing and caring for them as people, but encouraging them to receive the Eucharist) and if we accompany them (while realizing that their lives may simply be too complex for them to live according to Christ's moral laws) that eventually there will come a time when they will want to repent of their sins because they have come to love Jesus.

Now first off, I think this is a huge distortion of what Jesus's interactions with people were actually like. While it's true that one thing that stands out in the Gospels is that Jesus is willing to devote personal time to people who are considered outcasts by the rest of society, the other thing that really stands out is that He is constantly making huge and sudden demands of people. He demands that the apostles abandon their occupations and follow Him -- not after some lengthy period of accompaniment where He spends time with their families and joins them in fishing, but the moment He meets them. This is indeed one of the really shocking things about Jesus in the Gospels.  He'll approach someone He's never interacted with before and immediately ask that they follow Him. And He's willing to leave people behind who won't follow that call.  In Matthew 8:21-22, right after Jesus heals the leper and the Centurian's servant, Jesus calls someone who says that he wants to follow Him but just needs to take time to bury his dead father first. Does Jesus accompany him through the mourning process and get him ready to leave the community he's been living in all this time?  No, Jesus just says, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead.”

I'm not suggesting that the correct course for Christians today is to abruptly demand that people they barely know drop everything and come follow them. One of the things to recall when modeling oneself on the scriptures is that Jesus is God, and we are not God. There are modes of behavior which God can perform credibly and virtuously that we cannot. (Which is why people who want to cite Jesus flogging the money changers out of the temple are almost always trying to get away with something they shouldn't.) But it's worth noting that the actual Jesus of the Gospels constantly asks people He barely knows to do really difficult things. 

So McElroy's first foundation for this approach to pastoral morality is based on a pattern of behavior which Jesus does not in fact follow. The second and third foundations, I think, consist of a huge and dangerous misreading of the times we live in.

McElroy notes that people who are in a sexual relationship which is not a marriage recognized by the Church (whether they are cohabiting, civilly but not sacramentally married, divorced and remarried, or in some sort of same sex relationship) feel estranged from the Church due to Church teaching on sexuality and the application of that teaching to reception of the Eucharist. His proposed solution is that we "accompany" people by changing teaching on reception of the Eucharist and also that we recognize that the huge complexity of modern life may mean that some people simply aren't able to live in conformity to Church teaching -- at least not yet. 

It's important to ask, would this proposal (setting aside whether it is in keeping with Catholic doctrine) even solve the problem which he is setting out to fix? I don't think it does.

The issue that we face in modern society is not that there are lots of people who say, "I know that the sexual relationship I'm living in is wrong.  I want to resolve that at some point, but I find myself unable to resolve it now, because of the kids it has produced or because I can't afford my own place or because my partner is too controlling, and so what I really wish is that the Church would nourish me with the graces of the Eucharist until I can gain the resources and strength to make a change."

No. The issue we face is that there are lot sof people who say, "I am in a sexual relationship which is good and beautiful and God and the Church need to recognize that it is good and beautiful."

Ah, but McElroy might rejoin, of course there are elements of the relationship which are good and beautiful. Even in a relationship which is sinful because it's a sexual relationship outside of marriage, people often find ways to express love for one another, and the Church should recognize and celebrate that.

Okay, fine. It's true that even in a relationship which is sinful in its sexual dimension, people will also be loving in other areas. Our lives are indeed complex, and just as often in a good marriage people still at times sin against one another, so too in a bad relationship people find ways to express love towards one another.

But still, the demand which we see from modern society is not that the Church recognize that while sexual relationships outside of marriage are wrong, that within their context people sometimes perform some virtuous actions. Rather, the demand is that the Church recognize those relationships as right.

This whole set of proposals around accompaniment presumes that people would be fine with the Church saying that their relationships are sinful, so long as the Church did so in a more consequence-free fashion.

Picture a world in which the Church effectively says, "Welcome! Welcome! We are so glad that you are here! God loves you. We celebrate you. We welcome you to receive communion. BTW, your key life relationship is sinful, we can't bless it in church, and perhaps through the grace you receive from the Eucharist which you are welcome to, you will abandon that relationship and move closer to Christ by following His commandments more perfectly. But don't worry, in the meantime you are welcome and we celebrate you!"

Would people respond by saying, "Wow, that makes me as a person who is [cohabiting/divorced and remarried/in a same sex relationship] feel so valued and welcome. Now I no longer feel estranged from the Church."

I don't think we even have to stretch our imaginations on this one. We can look to the German Synodal Way, where the demand for the Church to actually change church sexual teachings and bless same sex relationships is open and clear. 

So there are two possibilities: The first is that Cardinal McElroy is proposing that we change Church teaching which dates back to the Bible itself, where St. Paul writes about the worthy reception of the Eucharist, in order to offer a compromise accompaniment-based approach which would not in fact satisfy anyone. The second is that this talk of accompaniment is really just a step along the way, and that McElroy and those like him already fully intend that if they could change teaching on reception of the Eucharist the next step would be demanding blessings on unmarried relationships and the next step would be saying it was unfair to have blessings for some people and marriage for others, with the end state always being that the actual teachings on divorce and remarriage, sex outside of marriage, homosexuality, etc. be changed.

This latter possibility frankly strikes me as far more likely. I can't imagine that someone as well educated and familiar with the world as Cardinal McElroy really imagines that telling people, "We believe your relationship is sinful, and it should eventually end or become non-sexual, but in the meantime we welcome you to communion" would be satisfactory to those who feel estranged from the Church because of moral teachings. 

And I've also seen this play out before. Growing up, most of my friends were Episcopalians, and so I got the chance to watch as people first argued that they weren't really saying that moral teaching should be changed, they weren't really saying that the Episcopal Church should have same sex weddings, they were just saying that everyone was equally a sinner and everyone equally needed God's mercy, and then without missing a beat turned around and said supported changing their teachings and celebrating same sex weddings.

Progressives within Catholicism have often taken plays directly out of the mainstream Protestant book, and the similarities between what the Cardinal McElroys and Fr James Martins of the present moment are saying and what was said by progressive Episcopalians back in the 1990s and early 2000s (who knew very well they were steering their communion towards fully changing its teachings on sexual morality) seem like they could not be accidental.

If Cardinal McElroy wants to see Church teaching on sexual morality reversed, he should at least have the decency to say so openly. Lying is, after all, another thing which is objectively sinful. And if he does not want that, he needs to wrestle with the question of whether changing Church teaching on the nature of worthy reception of the Eucharist (something which would in itself be a rejection of the Church's very nature dating back to the apostles) would even achieve the objectives he claims to have.

Thursday, March 02, 2023

"She fought herself with vigor and conviction from the first sentence to the last"


Writing, for her, was an agonizing ordeal. Writing is hard work for almost everyone: for Katharine it was particularly hard, because she was by temperament and by profession an editor, not a writer. (The exception was when she wrote letters. Her letters -- to friends, relatives, contributors -- flowed naturally from her in a clear and steady stream, a warm current of affection, concern, and eagerness to get through to the mind of the recipient. Letters were easy. How I envied her!) But when she sat down to compose a magazine piece on gardening, faced with all the strictures and disciplines of formal composition and suffering the uneasiness that goes with critical expression in the public print -- this was something else again. Gone was the clear and steady stream. Katharine's act of composition often achieved the turbulence of a shoot-out. The editor in her fought the writer every inch of the way; the struggle was felt all through the house. She would write eight or ten words, then draw her gun and shoot them down. This made for slow and torturous going. It was simple warfare -- the editor ready to nip the writer before she committed all the sins and errors the editor clearly foresaw. Occasionally, I ribbed her about the pain she inflicted on herself. "Just go ahead and write," I said. "Edit it afterwards -- there's plenty of time." My advice never had any effect on her; she fought herself with vigor and conviction from the first sentence to the last, drawing blood the whole way. 

--E.B. White, on the writing process of his wife, The New Yorker editor Katharine S. White, in an introduction to her collected reviews of gardening catalogues, Onward and Upward in the Garden

I am thoroughly enjoying reading Katharine White's book, which is so clearly and bracingly written that she makes me wish I had the temperament and interests to be a gardener. E.B. White's introduction, however, is what resonates most with me; I believe I must be an editor at heart. Katharine's agony of composition is all too familiar to me. Almost everything I write is born in painful labor, whether brief and intense, or prolonged and draining. I'm often happy to have done it, but oh, the process!

After Katharine's death, E.B White granted a rare interview, in which he recalled their marriage:

Mr. White described his love affair with Katharine Sergeant Angell as "stormy." He added, "She was a divorced woman, but a conscientious mother with two children. I was six years younger than she. We finally went off and got married one day." That was in 1929. Years thereafter, he was to write: "I soon realized I had made no mistake in my choice of a wife. I was helping her pack an overnight bag one afternoon when she said, 'Put in some tooth twine.' I knew then that a girl who called dental floss tooth twine was the girl for me."

Tuesday, February 28, 2023


 Since I resolved to wake up earlier for Lent ("earlier" for me means 6:30, and I can feel all you school parents sighing at my ability to sleep in), we have been swept by waves of sickness washing through the children of the house. Most nights, I have slept in about two hour stretches, punctuated by coughs or someone coming in to tell me that they have chills or a sore throat, or by wakeful listening for the sounds of retching, or (last night) by the child standing by my bedside telling me that he missed the potty in the dark, and his pants and the floor were all wet. 

I have persevered, mostly. I have gotten up and said my morning prayer at 6:30, as soon as the alarm went off, except the morning I snoozed while Darwin took a shower, or this morning when a child had come in at 6:00, so I snoozed until 7:00. That's two out of the seven mornings of Lent -- not a great record, so far, but all earlier than I had been getting up. 

That's prayer, I guess. Fasting was going well, until I found myself inexplicably eating all the things. "What's wrong with me?" I asked myself in the evening, as I stuffed Saltines and chugged milk. "Why can't I stop eating?" The next morning, I started my period. I have been cycling, girl and woman, for more than three decades, and I ought to know the signs, but as St. Paul advised, I do not judge myself.

Almsgiving. My two oldest daughters are going to be traveling in two separate weeks to New Jersey to help my brother and his wife as they continue to adjust to life with baby Josh in the hospital in Philadelphia. I don't know of anything more precious to give than children, especially since this means we won't see my oldest daughter during her spring break. And, of secondary (but only just) importance, as a director, I'm giving up my Helena (my second daughter) for a week of Midsummer Night's Dream rehearsals.

Some baby Josh for your delectation

Speaking of baby Josh, an update from my sister-in-law:

Joshua has been able to maintain his own body temperature for over 48 hours now! As long as he is above 35 degrees (Celsius), the doctors remain happy to keep him off the lamp. The ideal temp is between 36.5 and 37.5. (37  C = 98.6 F). They continue to use the heat lamp for care (diaper changes and baths) so as not to make his body work harder than he needs to. But that is just precautionary.

I’m learning that with a medically complex child, there is always going to be something new to worry about though.  Nothing too concerning, but right now we are once again trying to find the right balance between diuretics and electrolytes. Joshua still likes to hold onto extra fluid which finds its way into his lungs. When they up his diuretics, his sodium and potassium levels seem to drop too low. When they take him off any diuretics, he seems to retain fluid and look a bit puffy and give us some hazy looking lung x-rays.

So we celebrate temperature and we pray for electrolytes tonight! And of course we enjoy his cuteness!

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

The (Tinny) Rings of Power

 If you want to know what homeschooling looks like, chez Darwin: for the last week my two oldest school children, ages (almost) 17 and 14, have been assigned to read through Bret Devereaux's series at A Collection of Unmigitated Pedantry on why Rings of Power was the monumental, stupendously, pompously, ahistorically awful flop that it was. (H/T to Brandon.) Along the way, there's enough military and economic history to satisfy the discriminating viewer, who sat agog and aghast at the compounding missteps and outright idiocies of the show. 

From the introduction to the series, the first of four posts: 

This week we’re going to take a look at the worldbuilding of Amazon Studio’s Rings of Power from a historical realism perspective. I think it is no great secret that Rings of Power broadly failed to live up to expectations and left a lot of audiences disappointed. In the aftermath of that disappointment, once one looks beyond the depressingly predictable efforts to make culture war hay out of it, I found that many people understood that they were disappointed but not always why. Here I am going to suggest one reason: the failure of Rings to maintain a believable sense of realism grounded in historical societies and technologies (something the Lord of the Rings, books and films, did very well) makes it impossible to invest in the stakes and consequences of a world that appears not to obey any perceptible rules.

...When making a speculative fiction world, the author(s), can either plan out the system’s unique function or they can adopt a real world system, but they generally must do one or the other or risk sacrificing audience investment from a world that lacks consistency.

And as noted above, Middle Earth and the broader Tolkien legendarium draws its sense of consistency when it comes to the world and its societies mostly from a firm sense of rootedness in the realia of historical societies and historical literature. Tolkien has not reinvented new systems of farming, new laws of physics or new systems of social organization. In The Lord of the Rings the world’s consistency depends on its feeling of historical rootedness.

In good speculative fiction then, the creator has a choice: import recognizable, real-world systems that will feel real to an audience or build new systems and then explain their fantastical workings to the audience in a way that renders them understandable. Rings of Power does neither and in the process manages to construct a Middle Earth that is not only ‘flat’ in the sense that the the cataclysms of the Changing of the World have not yet happened and thus the Straight Road to Valinor can still be traversed, but unfortunately this Middle Earth is also flat in the sense that it is rendered dull and uninteresting by the lack of perceptible rules and consequence.

The introduction deals with problems of Scale, Sail, and Social Detail; the three follow-up posts are more specific critiques of metalworking in the world of Rings of Powerthe failures of physics and tactics in the climactic battle in the Southlands, and The Problem of Numenor.

Devereaux makes the point that the writers of the show consistently prefer concept art, clever tricks, and "gotcha!" reveals over solid and time-tested techniques like character or plot development and the accumulated wisdom of the well-documented practices and development of our own pre-industrial societies. Things like ships' sails or the transport and use of horses in battle or the social and economic structures of nomadic peoples have analogies in our world; the customs and practices they developed were not arbitrary, but based in the realities of the technologies of their age, and were often studied and improved upon by the best minds of the age. Any creative artist worth his or her salt would draw on this accumulated wisdom. The creative minds behind Rings of Power seem to want to surprise the viewer at every turn with startling twists, and they mostly succeed in that ambition because their twists are so entirely unmoored in any historical or practical consideration.

This pattern of disregarding precedent when it doesn't suit also applies the to the show's much-vaunted race-blind casting, which is notable only for the specifically modern and piecemeal way it is applied. There is no reason why there can't be racial diversity in Middle-Earth, and indeed every reason why there should be. Tolkien has developed an extensive history of the Elves, which involve three different lines of divergence and settlement, with numerous sub-branches. Why not construct whole societies based on these groups, which differ linguistically and culturally? But in the world of the writers' room, each character is an island, unconnected to parentage or any larger culture except where it suits. Subgroups -- Elves, Dwarfs, Men, Proto-hobbits -- share an arbitrary accent picked from the U.K., but no character is expected to look like he or she descended from his or her screen parents. What, indeed, has reproduction to do with sex?

This leads me to a larger weakness of the show. I think Devereaux's emphasis on not reinventing entire fields that have been the extensive study of countless generations underlines a failing of Rings of Power, and of many other modern endeavors: because the creative minds believe that certain patterns of historical human behavior in the realms of racial and sexual mores have been wrongheaded and made up out of whole cloth, they want to also throw out any other historical norm as being arbitrary. Women didn't sail? Sexist! Sails themselves? Just as reinventable!

 Like Chesterton's fence, however, one needs to be able to explain why these standards were the way they were before one jettisons them into the rather shallow abyss of the Balrog. Else, as Devereaux emphasizes:
And that is the recurring problem with the worldbuilding in Rings of Power, that the audience rapidly finds that cannot have much faith at all that the creators involved have given much thought to these questions. And each crack in the worldbuilding in turn damages the stakes of the peril and the significance of character choices because if the story itself doesn’t have to obey any real rules of cause and consequence and thus the creators can merely opt to have anything happen for any reason then there is no reason to invest in any of it at all. If there are no consistent rules to this world then nothing matters and if nothing matters…why should I care?

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Letters for Lent

 Happy Valentine's Day, you filthy animals! Please accept this sign of my regard.

Of far more significance, liturgically speaking, is the upcoming season of Lent, for which we are all no doubt prepared. For the past several years, I've started pre-gaming my Lent, so to speak, by practicing some penances in advance -- fasting, adding in some prayer, turning down spot pleasures. I thought this was some odd inclination of my own, only to find out that there used to be an entire liturgical period, Septuagesima, devoted to this very practice of winding down for Lent. (I had seen the word Septuagesima before, being knocked around in the circles of people who complain a lot about things liturgical, so perhaps I'm at fault for not paying enough attention before now to what it referred.) 

This is the story of my spiritual life: an inclination, a conviction that seems unusual or against the grain, only to discover that scholars and sages through the centuries have pondered this very thing, only it never was covered in my religious education or in the circles I moved in. I nearly wept reading Hans Urs Von Balthazar's Dare We Hope That All Men Be Saved? This idea, which I had been tracking through my reading of the Bible, carefully noting down all verses that seemed to point to the idea that once all evil had been consumed as by fire, what was good, being of God himself, could not be lost and must indeed come back to Him and be joined to Him, was not a strange borderline heretical notion of my own, but one that had been openly debated through the ages. Our faith was far bigger, far more expansive and strange and wonderful than the dry, open-and-shut Baltimore Catechism Q&A would have one believe.

Indeed, it was about this time that I finally acted on an inclination that had been gaining force for years, and rid my house of the Baltimore Catechism, the Tan Children's Bible, that awful book of saint stories with the garish paintings of sickly virgins and purple Africans gratefully accepting baptism from a handsome priest, so popular as a First Communion gift (you know the one I mean), and indeed any children's book that accepted as a description of holiness that "he practiced the strictest chastity and had a devotion to our Blessed Mother". What does that even mean? What does that look like in practice? How can this pat pious depiction of dead-eyed saints have any truck with the immensity of joy and suffering to be found in Jesus, the growing understanding of Christian maturity that so much of what we know we do and can not know?

What have they to do with Love?


All this is to say that it's time for Lenten Letters. Should you like to receive a letter from me during Lent, please send your name and address to darwincatholic @, and I will do my best to write to everyone during Lent itself (though some years it's stretched out to Pentecost). I just write about whatever is on my mind at the moment, rather like the blog itself, so I suppose it's less of a correspondence and more of a "Have the fun of opening an envelope and getting what you get". I can't promise this year to use the nice paper and the fancy pen, but there will be a stamp and a flap to slit and an enclosure to withdraw that is not a bill or appeal or a summons. And many days, that itself is enough to make one smile.

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Sonnet: Octave and Sestet

I said I would read the last chapter of Gaudy Night, and so I did; then I went back and began at chapter one, and so until I wrapped the final chapter again in its proper position. Lord Peter may be a damn sight too sensitive, and Harriet Vane too stubbornly, willfully blind, but then, without conflict, whence plot?

One element, not of plot but of theme, is that in Oxford Harriet finds her creative voice again, welling up in the severe scholarly beauty of the stone city. She writes the octave of a sonnet about the university as a fixed point in a whirling world, and puts it aside, unable to find a turn for the sestet. (The sestet, in the Petrarchan sonnet, turns the octave, or challenges it, or answers a question posed.) Later, while flipping through her notebook after she's lent it to Peter to study her case-notes, she finds he's finished the sonnet, using the sestet to turn the peaceful fixed center of the octave into the love-driven whirl of a top. This infuriates Harriet (not least because Peter's lines are better than her own), but it also intrigues her into giving Peter a long-overdue reassessment.

I myself had some quiet hours today, our broken washing machine causing me to spend several hours running loads of laundry at my mother-in-law's new house around the block, empty until she moves out in the spring. And I, like Harriet Vane, had a first line pushing up a small green shoot. And so, after I'd finished my blocking for the next rehearsal, as the last load tumbled about the dryer, I took up my pad (mostly used, like Harriet's, for the business at hand), and turned some lines, of which these are the final form.

God saw that it was good, and so you are,
And so your eyes have taught my eyes to see,
Your tongue my tongue to taste, heart's library 
As richened by close reading, your memoir;
As longing for your light, my double-star,
My soul entwined with yours, nor wanting free,
Now two, now one, now like the One-in-Three,
Love's unity begets love's avatar.
But still the veil this veiléd flesh and mind 
Conceals, nor ever fully rent in twain
Until at last we know as we are known;
Until within that blessed Thought we find
The Father of our friendship; so attain
Our dim loves' one true dawn, all space o'erthrown.

Friday, February 10, 2023


 Sometimes I wonder, "Why don't I write, when I have so many ideas I want to chew on and hash through and meditate on? Why is it so difficult to dedicate the time to distill some of these musings into coherent lines so that you, my friends, can also think about these things with me?" -- which is, for me, the purpose of writing.

And then I consider my afternoon yesterday, in which, confidently prepped for my evening blocking rehearsal of A Midsummer Night's Dream at 7:00, I went to church at 4:00 to drop off my boys at Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, then dropped my 12yo daughter off at Confirmation class and started teaching the 7th grade Bible Study, at 4:30, and how five minutes into class I received a call from my 5yo's teacher, saying he'd thrown up, and how I had to call Darwin with all my students agog, and how, in a first in my experience, when I stabbed at his number from my contacts, Siri (which I never use) had slipped in a suggested number from some message that was one digit off from his phone number, and so I had an awkward conversation with a wrong number -- that I dialed from contacts! With my students agog! And then I had a full hour and a half between the end of classes (because the boys got out of their class half an hour early, although it was just the one boy now), so I made dinner while Darwin ran to the store (after bathing the cheerful, vomit-crusted boy), and we arranged which older child would babysit the boy because everyone else was called in some capacity to rehearsal, or had to be at the theater for production meetings. And how, when I got home from rehearsal at 9:15 (because I ended rehearsal right on time at 9:00! but had to talk to various people and then shut up the theater), the boys were up late on the computer because everyone was too dragged out to put them right to bed, and there was a bit of fuss, and then I came into the kitchen to talk to Darwin and was followed by three older children, who all spoke to me at the same time, each chattering cheerfully about whatever was on his or her mind (and wholly unconnected to anything their siblings were saying), to which I needed to attend and make individual reply. And how, at 11:00, I sat in bed with my laptop, thinking about writing, and determined not to scroll down social media or pick up Gaudy Night which I suddenly had the strong urge to re-read, so instead I fell asleep reading a scholarly article I dearly wanted to finish and talk about. 

So the main reason I have time to write at this moment is because I called a sick day, ignoring the constant murmur of episode after episode of Lost Cities of the Andes or Mysteries of the Dead Sea or whatever documentary series my 9yo is binging.

And these are all good things, important things because they are so small and so make up the very foundation that everything else is built upon. We are in no crisis right now (except for the slight underlying dread that the other shoe is going to drop with the one child out of the three younger ones who hasn't thrown up this week), and all the many projects that we have in hand are moving forward, if glacially at times. 

The most immediate of these projects is A Midsummer Night's Dream, which I'm directing and Darwin is tech directing. We are in blocking rehearsals (which I love), which require me to do a lot of time-consuming preparation (which I love). We perform March 30-April 2. That's eight weeks away -- not so far away.

Darwin and I spent a weekend away from the family at the preserved Victorian house of a 19th century industrialist that he found listed on Vrbo. It was a revelatory, refreshing weekend of delight, which functioned as a writers' retreat once we decompressed enough to get used to people not talking to us all the time. And on the second day, I started revising Stillwater. I wrote and wrote, surrounded by beautiful woodwork, with no one but Darwin in my immediate vicinity. And now I've sent the first half of the manuscript to a copy editor, and am plugging away resolutely at my own edits for second half, and have spoken to my cover designer, with an eye to having the thing published in time for Christmas this year.

I do want to tell you all about this marvelous house, and show you the pictures I took so that everyone can understand how the rooms flowed together and where the back corridors were, because I know that your eyes will not glaze over like my children's did as I explained each of the 60 photos. But here, a photo of tilework to whet your appetite. Ignore the wallpaper and that one modern patch, and contemplate the original toilet that flushes when you pull up on that that lever under the tank. 

Friends, I could have looked at the vintage towel bar and toilet paper holder all day long. Bliss.

(But MrsDarwin, you say, you have umpteen boxes of subway tile stacked in your daughters' bedroom, waiting to for the gutted upstairs bathroom to be put into a state to receive them. Hush, I say. Hush.)

I shall go, and contemplate what I will feed a houseful of delicate appetites on a Friday in Ordinary Time when we've only done the Aldi's run and not the Kroger shopping, and find my cleaning cloth so that I can degrease my kitchen, and vacuum the dining room table (best cleaning hack ever -- try it yourself), and then I might sit down with a cup of tea and sigh over the last chapter of Gaudy Night. And then I'll start in on next's week blocking. Those young lovers in the forest aren't going to choreograph their own thematic slapstick.

Thursday, February 02, 2023

Update on Joshua

Many of you have been praying for Joshua, and for that, many many thanks. Here's the latest update from my sister-in-law. She has been at CHOP with Joshua this week, while my brother is at home with the three older ones, with an assist from my mom. Joshua will likely be in the hospital for quite some time, so the family is learning how to manage this very complex care situation.
Joshua is 1 month old today!!! (Yesterday was his official due date). He has lost most of the fluid and inflammation from being on the ECMO and the doctor’s think we can now observe and measure his “true” size! Joshua is 19.5 inches and 8.2 pounds. He has long legs, big feet and the longest fingers!
Joshua has had his IV and PIC line removed. This makes it much easier to change his diaper, do PT exercises, and give him snuggles! He is receiving breast milk through a feeding tube and no longer needs any supplemental nutrition. This is a big step because it means he is finally regulating his blood sugar better. He continues to rely completely on the ventilator to take breaths but has been able to maintain his oxygen saturation with minimal support. His oxygen levels frequently drop when he is agitated (he doesn’t like diaper changes or being repositioned), but we are learning what his body needs to keep his oxygen steady.
They did an ultrasound of his brain a few days ago and the impact of the brain bleed remains stable. This means that little has changed either good or bad. It could take months for his little body to reabsorb all the blood. In the meantime, the bleed has caused significant compression on the ventricles of the brain. They are watching for cerebro spinal fluid that may build up. Though, there is significantly less swelling on the brain this week.
The doctors keep saying ”we are waiting for Joshua to show us what he can do.” The doctors need to follow Joshua’s lead. But it is still believed that the damage to the brain is significant and permanent. The brain stem was most affected by the bleed (the amount of fluid caused the whole brain to shift out of place). He has yet to open his eyes and his pupils are not dilating. The doctors say it is unlikely that he will ever be able to breathe on his own because the part of the brain that communicates with the lungs is not functioning. He also has not shown any gag reflex which means he cannot protect his airway. He will likely be a candidate for a tracheostomy, but the earliest he would be stable enough for that is probably at 3 months old. We will meet with the airway response team in the coming weeks to learn more about this option.
The doctors cannot give us any clear picture of what the future will hold. He may start to develop new pathways in his brain and we may see more potential for what Joshua will be capable of doing. However, it is likely that he will not regain any additional brain function and will continue to need all the supports he is currently on.
Whether Joshua shows small signs of improvement or none at all, we are grateful that he is here with us now and responding to some stimuli (mostly in his feet and legs). We will continue to care for him and meet his needs as they are currently presented. We are learning what it looks like to care for a medically complex child with severe brain damage. But we also know that the doctors do not have the final word on Joshua’s life. We continue to entrust sweet Joshua to the Lord and pray for his healing. We will enjoy all the snuggles we can get and we will love and care for Joshua just as he is - all the while hoping (but not expecting) that we will see “happy surprises” as we move forward!

Joshua currently has a relic of Servant of God Emil Kapaun near his cradle, and a friend is sending a relic of Bl. Julia Greeley. So pick your favorite contender for canonization, and please join us in praying for this sweet boy.