Liturgical Living

Went confession last night, and sneaked over to Mass this morning.  Happy happy.

Kids were off here, there, and everywhere, so SuperHusband sneaked me over to a very good (not expensive, just good) restaurant after confession, and I lasted 2/3rds of dinner before I was ready to go lay down or something.  The poor waitress was mortified, because, sure, the service was slow.  But it wasn’t that slow.

A little PSA . . .

Dear Jennifer,

Today at Mass, the lady in front of me just wouldn’t kneel.  She sat through the entire Mass! Leaning against the wall!  And she hardly said anything out loud, at all!  It’s like she was really tired or something.  There was a big open space in my pew, so I could have scooted over, I suppose, if I wanted to kneel. But it seemed like a much better idea to insist on kneeling right up against her — personal space is so, so, contrary to the spirit of the Gospel, isn’t it?

Please tell me I did the right thing.


Pious but Clueless


Dear Pious,

Personal space is not contrary to the Spirit of the Gospel.  Consider scooting over one space in the pew if the person in front of you is not kneeling for some inexplicable reason.


Meanwhile, over at the blorg . . .

  1. More meat talk. Because even in America, you can do this abstinence from meat thing all year round.
  2. Giving up the Sunday Work Habit. Which is not as simple for Catholics as it is for everyone else, but still, it’s something you are supposed to do, if you can.
  3. Music for your Lenten listening pleasure.

Now Street Legal: Jennifer Fitz @ Patheos is Fully Furnished.

Inline image 1

For your penance today . . . visit me on the blorg.  Okay, it’s not penitential.  FYI since Patheos is ad-funded, if you see an advertisement that is contrary to the Catholic faith, take a screenshot and let me know.  The Patheos folk are actually quite responsive on that point, but they need to see what the problem is in order to fix it.

And tell all your friends!  Thanks.


PS: Yes, I’ll continue to post updates here as well.  But go ahead and subscribe to, because the machine is faster than me, and more thorough. Do you see how I love you and made your life easier by requesting a simple URL?  You’re welcome.

Mardi Gras, Family Life, Meat Demon

1. is back up, and here’s my post: Homeschooling and the Art of Living Together.  In which you hear about how cool my son is, and also that there’s more to this parenting thing than where you send your kids to school.

Let me just say that writing a post while feeling favorably disposed towards your children is like begging for them to do all kinds of crazy stuff for the next 48 hours.  Or more.

(Nothing serious.  Just normal everyday reminders that they do need parents. Sigh.  Everyone needs parents.)

2.  At the blorg today: Thwarting the Meat Demon. We have polished off the bacon, and the chicken is next.  Because basically, yes, my spiritual disciplinary advice consists of “Eat a Cheeseburger on Thursday.” You have to start somewhere.

3.  A friend of mine gave me a bag of these:

Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzels

Puts the gras in Mardi Gras.  We do it right around here.


Photo courtesy of Trader Joe’s.  Those things are good.

No-motion, slow-motion, and . . .

. . . I dunno. Fill in your own rhyme.

Rebecca Hamilton writes here about the importance, to your health, of not sitting around.  She mentions the research, and also her personal experience with RA that bears it out.  The clincher in the health news: It’s not about just the “exercise” component of your day, where you are doing something all active-like and you count it as physical fitness.  Think of that “30 Minutes 5 Days a Week”, or whatever the source of your choice has been telling you over the past couple decades.

What also matters is how you spend the many hours of the day when you aren’t “exercising”.  (Hint: Writing as a career is hazardous to your health. So is accounting.  Rearing children, in contrast, offers very many health benefits, and not just for keeping vocal chords warm.)

Now I never doubted this.  In fact I was rather depending on Putting Away Laundry as a health-preserving scheme.  But interestingly, the vexing illness has given me some powerful evidence on the biological difference between Sitting Around and Not Sitting around, but from the other side of the coin.

First let’s review Life as Normal People Know It.  Call it Jen’s Life in January 2014:

  1. Sitting around = feels like no effort.  Big surprise.
  2. Pottering about = feels like no effort.  As it should be.
  3. Going for a pleasant walk = um, pleasant.  No big deal.  Good for you.  As it should be.
  4. Going for a brisk walk = exercise.  Not that intense, but it counts, right?
  5. Throw in some big hills,  some running, or switch it out and do some strength training = Exercise exercise.
  6. Sprint, haul really heavy things around the yard fast, etc. = intense effort.  Enjoyable.

The thing is, if you’re a healthy person, #1-3 feel about the same.  You’d be bored if you *just* sat, but if your brain is engaged in something, you don’t particularly notice that your body is doing something radically different in #1 than it is in #2 or #3.

Ha!  Let me tell you, is it ever.

Here’s my new scale, call it the February 2014 Vexing Illness Scale:

  1. Sitting or laying reclined, body fully supported, such as in a Lazy Boy: No effort.  Can do that awake all day and half the night –> Insomnia inducing, it takes so little effort, even for the vexingly ill person.
  2. Sitting upright but in a pretty good chair: No problem if rested, palpable effort if tired.
  3. Sitting up, unsupported (bench, stool, etc.): No problem if really really rested, no-go if tired.
  4. Pottering about — walking at Wedding Procession Pace: No problem if rested; if tired, induces desperate desire to go lay down and shut eyes ASAP.
  5. Walking normally: Bad idea.  Feels great at first, but the coughing kicks in after a bit, and you pay for it later.  For hours.
  6. Walking briskly: Just no.  Just. No.

Note that #1-5 *all feel about the same* to a normal person.  You probably aren’t aware that your body is working noticeably more if it’s sitting on one of these instead of one one of these.  I am here to tell you: Yes! There is a big difference!

And pottering about the garden, or dusting the nick-knacks?  Adds another level.  Fetching the mail, feeding the cat, sweeping the kitchen, wandering down to the playground . . . your body is doing something radically, radically different than what it does while sitting on the couch watching TV.



Anyway, in happy news, I figured out that if I’m walking like a normal person, I have to just stop, pretend there’s a wedding director giving me the evil eye, and resume at processional-pace.  So far it works, anyway.


Note: Any inference on your part that I actually dust nick-knacks is your own fault. That was a purely hypothetical example.



The Up-Down Lifestyle

In the past 24 hours I’ve . . .

  1. Learned how to play pick-up sticks.
  2. Lost all my Words with Friends games.  Literally and figuratively literally.  I can’t find the link anymore.  Facebook Fail.
  3. Discovered that I score just as well at Mancala if I randomly pick a handful of stones when it’s my turn, while checking e-mail, as I do if I concentrate and try to win.  Only I enjoy it much more.
  4. Did Mrs. Darwin’s Immediate Book Meme.  Answers posted at the blorg bookshelf.
  5. Figured out that I have no clue how to pace myself.

#5 We’ve always known, haven’t we?  It’s just more dramatic now. I’m thrilled to be off the mandatory complete rest thing, because: Insomnia.  But what seems to me like a very light activity level really isn’t.  Serious intervals-action going on: When I’m up, I’m more up than I’ve been in ten days.  But a couple hours of acting vaguely like a normal person, and I’m completely wiped out. Brain. Body. All of it gone.

I’m sure such a thing as a ‘happy medium’ exists.  I’ve never actually experienced it, but I’ve heard about it.  Okay, strictly speaking I’m not so sure. Maybe it’s mythical.

And some Valentines . . .

Sticking to the Sts. Cyril & Methodius theme:

At the blorg, I get into that “What’s the point of religious ed?” debate again.  On Catechesis: Love and Common Sense.

And at AC, I send a Valentine to a lady who needs your prayers, and also my husband in the process. Marriage Only Has Meaning if It’s a Lifelong Commitment.

Many happy returns of the day!

The Hard-Headed Life

Snippets since I fell off the internet – no, nothing bad going on, not really.  Just my life.  You know the scene.

1. The weekend before Thanksgiving, three kids are outside playing tag after dark.  Seven-year-old daughter comes inside, weeping and telling us she hit her head.  Mandatory concerned-parents questions, but we determine that it wasn’t that bad, she’s just tired, because what she hit her head on was her brother’s shoulder.  She settles down, though she keeps reminding us her head hurts.

A few minutes later, Mr. Boy comes inside.  His shoulder hurts.  You know — where his sister’s head hit it.  Can’t be that bad, right?

Next morning, as someone who shall not be named is trying to persuade the boy to quit favoring the shoulder and move it around a little so the muscles don’t get tight, the Mom-alarm goes off.  Something is not right with this scene.  Further Mom investigation, followed by confirmation at doc-n-box: Broken collarbone.

PSA: Do not play rugby with my 7-year-old.

2.  I wrote this article at New Evangelizers.  I knew it was slated to run on Thanksgiving, but I wrote it anyway.  Hint: I rant about the usual things I rant about, instead of telling you to be grateful for stuff.

How did writing this column change my life? I resolved to wear hats more often.  Not at church, necessarily.  Just around.  Because I like them.

3. At, I answered this post from Rebecca Frech. In my column, which you can find here, I assert that my children are not too sheltered, though I give no particular evidence on that point.  Those who worried that by “being selective about the movies they watch” you feared I was depriving them of sappy puppy-themed formula films, or hyper-violent Korean parodies of Clint Eastwood films, fear not.  We’re covering those bases tonight, that’s why I have time to blog.

4. Awkward blogger moments: I’m at the Family Honor in-town class session that finishes out the course Jon & I took last summer.  Great class.  Highly recommended.  We’re sitting at dinner, and the program director turns to me, and says, “Jen, I just found out you blog.  I just started blogging.  Tell me — how often to you post?”

I had to explain to him that I had recently fallen off the internet.  I went home resolving to post here ASAP, so I’d look more respectable when he clicked on my blog.  But the DSL was out.

#5 – #17: About the Internet

5. SuperHusband had to take a child to a violin concert Sunday afternoon, so he put Mr. Boy in charge of contacting AT&T to get the DSL fixed. All part of the child’s education.  (So. About all our sincere efforts to not make other people work on Sundays. Isn’t DSL like an ox in the ditch?  Isn’t it?)

So the boy gives it his best.  Of course, he does not himself work in telecom, so he’s fresh meat.  Customer service convinces him we need a new modem.

SuperHusband comes home and rejects this diagnosis.  A new modem is the two-aspirin of the Telcom customer service world.  He starts to make the boy call back customer service and argue more, but I step in and plead mercy, mostly on me but a little bit for the boy and his father, too.  SuperHusband gets on the phone, talks customer service off their ledge, and after a cordial but intense discussion with Nathan in India (is it Sunday in India?), they get the idea that maybe a change of service is in order.  AT&T will send a guy around in the morning.  No, they won’t charge for installation.

I’d been planning to go to Chik-Fil-A in the morning to check my e-mail, but I agree to stay home so the problem can be solved.

6. 8:10 AM the friendly customer service guy rouses me from a sleep even St. Josemaria couldn’t touch.  He’ll be there at 8:40, will that be okay.  Yes.  I lie and tell him yes.  It is not exactly lying if you are also praying that by 8:40 it will be okay.

7. My excuses for being tired include the fact that we are gradually shifting #2’s sleep schedule later and later, so that she can sing at midnight Mass.  Thus, all children are asleep.  Or faking it because they know it’s Monday, always a risk they might have to do work on a Monday.

8. I have no excuses for the way my house looks.

9. So what I need is a WWMDC bracelet. I go to the kitchen and start asking myself, “What would Mrs. Darwin clean next?” I clean that thing, then repeat repeat repeat.  By 8:40, as long as the blinds remain closed, and all the lights except in select cleaned-places remain turned off, the house looks like a place that would not cause a telecom tech guy to call social services.

10. I failed to think about the phone guy when we put chicken prison in exactly the place where the phone lines enter the house.  I apologized.  He pretended it was no big deal.  Tech guys lie just as much as housewives.

11.  He was incredulous when I explained that we had no crawlspace, and yes, the phone lines go through the attic.  A tech had just fallen through someone’s attic only last week.  AT&T does not want to send people into your attic.

12.  There were complications.  Complicated complications.  We eventually get hold of the SuperHusband, who has an intelligent conversation about telecom things with the tech guy.

13.  Tech guy gets permission from AT&T to install the new service on our ancient phone lines. Since running a new cable would involve the attic. And other things.

[Note: During all this time, I am continuing to clean my house. The children wake-up eventually, and I convince them to clean the house, too.  I am acting as if there is some good reason why I woke up to a trashed house on a Monday morning, and that naturally if no DSL problems had arisen, I would not have spent the morning answering e-mail and blogging, I would have done those dishes! Right away!  By the time the tech guy has his marching orders, the house is looking sort of civilized.  My children transition to acting like they are doing school work. They are pro’s at this, and even I am briefly fooled.]

14.  There’s a problem.  The newly-installed service works, but not to the company’s quality standard.  More investigations.  A manager is called.  They visit all the phone jacks in my house.  They are gathering evidence that we have the weirdest wiring in the Southeast.  (There’s a place that’s weirder, I’ve seen the photos, but it’s in Baltimore.)  They need to install new cable.

15.  The manager moves on, the tech guy installs the new cable.  Through the attic, of course.  He sustains no injuries, thanks to my helpful tips.  (Stay on the plywood. Not on the pink stuff.)

16.  It’s not the cable in the attic after all. Maybe it’s the box at the curb . . . the one with the oak roots entangling it, such that the box cannot be opened.

17. More investigations.  Actually, the problem is a few blocks up the road.  Tech guy apologizes for mistakenly upgrading my wiring.

Utterly unrelated. Not really.  #18.  I agreed to be one of’s Gospel-reflection writers for 2014.  Lisa H. immediately signed me up for the 16th of each month, before I had time to change my mind.  This means I have to read a snippet from the Gospel twelve times a year, and think about what the snippet says.

Yes.  I know.  It seemed like a good idea to me, too.

NFP Saves Thanksgiving

Also, I reviewed a good book.

Back to NFP: So yesterday I woke up at six (normal), and thought it might be prudent to see if I could sleep until seven, what with having a long day ahead, and having been so tired all week.  Success.  Seven rolls around, SuperHusband’s alarm goes off, and now there’s no more stalling except that old married-lady trick: Reach for that thermometer.

Here’s the thing you need to know, you innocent ones, about women of a certain age: We pretty much know whether we actually need to get a temp that day or not.  Round my castle, yesterday was not that day.

But if you want five more minutes of laying in bed, a sudden diligence in Following the Method is a dodge that even St. Josemaria WAKE UP Escriva can’t get down your back about.

So I got my minutes.  Thermometer beeps, and if you don’t go turn on a light and check and see what it says, and write that down someplace, Josemaria’s gotcha.  So I do that, because I don’t want to be in deep trouble with select saints.


Benefit of NFP: You know a fever when you see one, the way baseball fans know a bad batting average when they see one.

–> This caused the surreal experience of knowing I was sick, but since I still only felt like a tired person waking up in the morning, I had no idea exactly what sort of sick I might be.  Also, NFP saved Thanksgiving, because:

(a) If I hadn’t known I was sick, I would have gotten up and prepped for co-op.

(b) I would have felt tired and unmotivated, but I would have chalked it up to a moral failure on my part, made extra coffee, and pushed through it.  Probably grabbed some allergy medicine when I felt a little sneezy.

(c) Well, yes, by 10:30 my throat would have been very, very sore.  But I would have assumed it was from talking too much, not enough fluids, something like that.

(d) My friends at the co-op would have observed my pathetic __insert doubtful behavior here__, but they do that every week, so even they might not have realized I was a walking bio hazard.

(e) Germs.  Incubation periods. Major holidays around the corner.  Doesn’t take a public health official to add it up.

So you see?  Moral of the story: The quest for holiness had side benefits for the wider community.


What happened instead is that I called in sick, other people went about their lives happily, and I spent the day mildly ill (not that bad, if you don’t have to talk to anybody and can sleep a lot of the day), read books, and then goofed off on the internet while my children faked doing schoolwork.  Which means two more side benefits for the wider community:

1. NFP related: I discovered Simcha’s new book, print version, is now available for pre-order from OSV.  The book doesn’t include every single NFP Secret, like the one I’ve just shared, but it does cover the most important bits.

2. As linked above, I finishing reading and wrote a review for Fr. Longenecker’s book More Christianity.  It’s a good book.  You should consider reading it, if you are one of the qualifying candidates.

front cover More Christianity, revised edition

A couple notes re: full disclosure on this one, since no one is pestering me at this very minute to get off the computer:

  • I read the first edition (issued by OSV).  The cover pictured above is the revised and expanded edition from Ignatius.  You can still buy the old version direct from Fr. L, but I bet the new one is even better.
  • Fr. Longenecker sent me a review copy because I had been so kind in my comments about Catholicism Pure and Simple, a book I paid for with my own money and think was money very well spent.  I’ve also reviewed The Gargoyle Code (loved it), and astute readers may have noticed I tweet an awful lot of Fr. L’s posts from his blog.
  • This is because he writes good stuff. My usual rule for when he, or anyone, says dumb stuff, is to take it up privately or else just ignore it.*

I would torment you by saying, “I also read a pretty bad book yesterday,” but that would be unkind, unless I meant to tell you which bad book it was.  I do read bad books, though not usually an entire bad book.

–> If you reach the point where you have read all the very good books, and need a list of books that are pretty good but have a few glaring weaknesses and possibly even some objectionable content, e-mail me.  I know a few.  But I bet you haven’t read all the very good books yet.

*I know this is difficult for you to believe, longtime readers of a blog with a whole category called Rant-o-Rama.  But I assure you, my curmudgeonly powers far exceed anything you witness on the internet.

Cover art courtesy of Ignatius Press.  Ordering information here.

Small Success Thursday

Small Success Thursday

Before I fall off the internet again, a list:

1. That homeschool co-op thing is going pretty well. Over at, I wrote about why I think we’re doing as well as we are, and what you should be doing now so that you can be as cool as us, this time next year.

2.  I read a good book.  That made me think about hats.  Hint: PG Wodehouse + Free Book = Happy Jennifer.  Also, as always, I ended up with bacon.

3. Without giving the game away, since I’m not actually a mantilla-blogger, the hat thing comes back to this.  (Yes, that link is not to my success, it’s to a good post by Dan Burke.  You should read it.)

4. I have a post in the queue for tomorrow.  It has seven parts.  See how organized I am?

5. I dropped the boy off in Bethune today for Boy’s Weekend.  On the way home, I had a BLT in Camden.  I am thinking that if someone wanted me to undertake a special project in which I drive US 1 testing all the BLT’s . . . that would be okay with me.  I would totally get Marian on that one.  Fiat, all that.

6.  Last night Christina Knauss (say: Kuh-Now-ss) from the Catholic Miscellany and I talked on the phone about bullying, special needs students, and classroom management.  I did not sound completely lost and confused, because we talked for a couple minutes 45 minutes *before* the interview, and she gave me a head’s up on the topic.  And then I got to think about it while I cleaned my house and she made dinner.  And then we talked.  All intereviews should be conducted this way.

7.  It was very helpful preparation for my author panel coming up on Saturday.  I don’t really know what people are going to ask me, but maybe something about those topics.

8.  You’re wondering what I suggest.  See page 91, highlighted in boldface:

There should be no tolerance of mockery, teasing, bullying, or rudeness from any quarter.

I’m looking at you, grown-ups.

9.  Why yes, I will be saying that on Saturday.  Grown-ups, prepare to squirm.

Updated: 10: Writing posts without typos is not one of my successes this week.

7 Takes: Sinner’s Guide to NFP Giveaway Day

1.  If you didn’t come here from there already, go visit our hostess.  She’s got an especially entertaining set of takes up, including a bit of other interesting bookishness, Tom Clancy edition.

2.  Of course you want this book:

The Sinner's Guide to Natural Famiily Planning by Simcha Fisher

That is why you’re here today, right?  Excellent.

3.  I read this book.  This is how I know you want it. Or, if you answered #2 incorrectly, you would want it if only you were in your right mind this morning.

3.5: What if you already have a copy?!  And now it’s too late to win one!  You’re allowed to enter and win for a friend instead.  See?  Thanksgiving present.  Perfect.

3.75: As I told you last week, it’s AOK to enter this contest, win the book, and never come back to this blog again.  I so don’t care and am not keeping track.

4.  Here’s the scoop on the book, and why you need to reform your ways if you didn’t answer #2, 3, 3.5, or 3.75 correctly:

(A) You know how you hate NFP?  You use it and all, or you would, but it’s maybe not the rapturous experience that you always dreamt of, when you first read the words “cervical mucus”?  This book is about that.  NFP Frustration.

(B) The book doesn’t talk about cervical mucus.  It doesn’t have 10 Ways to Get a Better Temp Rise, Faster! Now! A Full 4/10ths of a Degree or Your Money Back!!

Most books are better if they don’t include that.  –> Except if you’re trying to learn NFP.  In which case the amusing way in which this contest is being run will help you with that.

(C) Every stupid thing about NFP ever. said. by some idiot who clearly has a Josephite marriage and prefers it that way (did Joseph?  I’m skeptical.), REFUTED!  Blammo!  In YOUR PLACE crazy people.  Done.

(D) Except charitably.

(E) Downright Theology of the Body, if you must know.  Only, it’s not, “I drank the TOTB water, and now I drool unicorns and rainbows.”  It’s more like: “Hey!  TOTB Water!  You can brew beer with that!”

(F) It’s a short book.

(G) There were points where I did not laugh out loud.  I laughed so hard sound would not come out of my body.  I would have rolled on the floor laughing, except that I was laughing too hard to fall out of my chair.  I’m sure it was weird looking.  There are certain chapters you might not want to read in public.

(H) We aren’t doing the whole alphabet.

(I) But I thought up another thing: This book is the perfect marriage book.  So if you know somebody who’s married, or who is thinking of getting married, this would be a great gift.  I’ve been married 47.5% of my life.  I know what it takes.  Simcha’s nailed it.  On the head.

(J) It’s pronounced “Sim-ka”.  Like the “ch” sound in “School”.  Because Simka’s so chool.

(K) Yeah, I was saying it wrong too.

(L) I didn’t ask how to pronounce “Fisher”.  We’re all just winging it on that one.

5.  How to Enter the Contest

[UPDATE: I made an easier entry method over at  Go there for the simple name-and-a-comment version.  You can also make it your 4th entry, if you’ve done all three here.  Now back to how it works here . . .]

The giveaway takes place 100% 98% in my combox.  I just cleaned out my spambox, but you’ll be more likely not to end up permanently moderated if you don’t choose a name like, “Free Nike’s Cheap” or “Real Louis Vuitton.”  If your name is also the name of a famous piece of merchandise, or includes a grocer’s apostrophe, you might wish to use an alias for this one.

To enter the contest, leave a comment here in this post.  Not a different post.  This post.  Give yourself a username (it can be anything, but if you win, Simcha’s going to call you that name), and leave an e-mail address in the field that asks for it, which only I the moderator can see, a nobody else. If you like, go get yourself a free e-mail account solely for this contest, if that’s the way you roll.  You don’t need to fill out the “website” field, though if your entry is especially amusing, people might want to know about you.

You get up to three entries within your comment.

Entry #1: Say something nice to Simcha!  Examples of winning entries:

“Hi, Simcha!”

“Thanks for writing this book!”

“Your kids are cute!”

“I’m not stalking you, Simcha, I just want a free book, that’s all!”

Entry #2: There’s nothing in Simcha’s book about how to actually use NFP.  So tell us where you learned NFP, or give us a link to a useful website you like, or something else that will help the puzzled people who have no idea why 4/10ths of a degree is so, so, important.

#2: Alternative: If you have no clue about those 4/10ths, you can say that.  You could also say something like, “I don’t know why cervical mucus is such a big deal,” or “I wish I could be as cool as you NFP-using ladies, but instead I answered the call to holy orders, but I need this book for my couple that does marriage prep, and the finance council won’t give me $4.99.”  Or whatever.

Entry #3: NFP.  Discuss.

#3 Alternative: Tell us a good joke.  Something clean, or I’ll have to edit it.

6.  You don’t have to do all three entries.  But you increase your odds of winning if you do.

7.  The drawing will be done using accounting methods, not literary ones.  You don’t have to be clever to win, you just have to vaguely sort of follow instructions.

The contest closes at Midnight on Monday, November 4th.  By “Midnight”, what we mean is sometime after midnight in NYC, and probably no sooner than about 4 – 5 AM Tuesday, later if we’re lucky.  By “Tuesday”, what we mean is, “A day that comes after Monday, and it might even really be Tuesday.”

If you are the winner, I will announce your username from the combox on this blog so that everyone knows, sort of, who won.  I will also e-mail you using the address you gave me.  If it becomes apparent that you expired from the shock and pleasure of it all, we’ll pick a new winner.

–> Simcha will then send you your copy of the book in the digital format of your choice, from her collection of possible digital formats.  She’s really nice about helping technically-challenged people figure out how to open their book.  I tested her on this to make sure.

Enter now!

Sinner’s Guide cover art courtesy of