Fonticulus Fides

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Emergency -- please pray!

My husband got a criptic note from some good friends of ours who recently moved to South Carolina. No details, but "something serious and scary" and a request for prayer.

Please pray for them, the M___ family in South Carolina. I'll update when I know anything.


UPDATE: It is the mother. She is being tested for ovarian cancer and has a pretty devastating family history of such "female" cancers to make this quite frightening. She is young -- 41 or 42 -- and their daughter is only 5 years old. They moved to South Carolina just a few months ago, so they do not have a local support network of friends/family to help them through. Please continue your prayers for these good people. Thanks.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas!

A gift to my readers -- this is a Christmas song I've been working on. Think Bluegrass.

This Child is Coming Soon

Lay my body down
The labor pains are steady now
This Child is coming soon
I just need a quiet place
A steady voice to keep my pace
This Child is coming soon

Now we have no place to stay
No midwife to guide my way
And this Child is coming soon
Take me to the stable yon
Oh, I need to lay me down
This Child is coming soon.

Make me a bed of sweet, soft hay
The manger there will serve today
This Child is coming soon
Tear my dress to swaddlin' bands
Oh, the pain -- give me your hand
This Child is coming soon

Send the sheep out to the hills
Feed the cow to keep her still
This Child is coming soon
How I wish my mother was here
To comfort me in all my fears
This Child is coming soon

Joseph, hold me, I'm afraid
I can't do this -- I'm just a maid
This Child is coming now
Dear God, see me safely through
I lay my life down before You
This Child is coming now


Feel the Glory all around
See the starlight shining down
This Child will save the world!
Little Baby in my arm
Let me keep you safe and warm
I know You'll save the world.


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

A Short Story, Just for Grins...

Santa’s Bad List

In December 1969, while other children wrote long letters to Santa and yearned for a chance to sit on his lap, my brother and I were planning the jolly old elf’s demise.

The concept was a little beyond a five-year-old like me. “We could put glue in the fireplace, so his boots gets stuck when he slides down the chimney,” I suggested.

“We don’t have a fireplace,” Mike reminded me. At seven, he was much more learned about these things, so I waited silently while he worked out a strategy.

“I wish we had a big net,” he said finally. “He’d get all tangled up in it when he lands on our roof, and we could call the police to arrest him.”

It was a good plan, except for the lack of netting. Mike sighed. Ever his shadow, I sighed, too.

A year earlier, it had been a different story. We were so excited about Santa’s pending arrival, it was all we could talk about from the moment the Thanksgiving dishes were washed. Little did we know our attitude toward Kris Kringle was about to change forever.

A few days before Christmas, our dad suddenly came home from work in the middle of the afternoon and announced that Grandma was coming to stay with us while he took Mom on a little vacation.

“Vacation?” Mike sputtered. “Without us?”

Dad’s eyes twinkled. “Sorry, sport. It’s a top secret mission.”

“Where to?”

“The North Pole!”

I was dazzled by the prospects. “Will you see Santa?”

Dad tossed me up into the air. “Only to ask him to get you the very best present in the whole world!” He set me down on the floor next to Mike and squatted down in his Don’t-Mess-With-Daddy posture. “But if you give Grandma a moment’s trouble, I’ll tell Santa to put you on his Bad List and neither one of you will get a thing.”

We solemnly promised to be perfect angels. Grandma arrived and Mom pecked quick kisses on the tops of our heads as Dad hustled her out the door.

It was a little weird not having Mom and Dad there in the final days before Christmas, but Grandma kept us busy decorating the tree, baking cookies, and opening the cards that filled our mailbox. She believed that children needed fresh air even in chilly December. Which meant whenever the phone rang, she’d point to our coats, hats and mittens, and send us outside so she could talk in peace.

On Christmas Eve, Grandma looked a little worried when we went through our toys, tossing every one-armed doll, broken gadget, incomplete game and dingy Matchbox car into the trashcan. I figured she thought we were coming down with something because she’d never seen children clean the way we cleaned. But this demonstration of anti-materialism was meant to ensure a spot on Santa’s list of good girls and boys.

We only endangered ourselves by arguing about what present to expect. Mike predicted it would be a Lionel train set on the big table with all the little trees and buildings to put around it. I envisioned a gigantic dollhouse that I could live in with the new doll I was hoping to find in my stocking.

Grandma told us not to think about it so much. “Any gift you get will be something you didn’t have before,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what it is.”

Yeah, right.

Mike finally settled the argument by suggesting that we’d each get something that we wouldn’t have to share. Then we set to clearing out spaces in the basement playroom for my dollhouse and his train table.

I’d just made the difficult decision to part with all my Play-doh, and Mike was mulling over the merits of Tinker Toys when Dad called. We had a million questions about the North Pole but Grandma spent so much time on the phone with him, he was in too big of a hurry to talk to us for long.

“Make it quick, kids,” we heard him say as we wrestled for the receiver.

Stiff-arming me, Mike won the phone and cut to the chase. “Did you get our present?”

“You’ll see on Christmas morning!” Dad said he and mom loved us and reminded us to be good – or else.

That night, we set out a glass of milk and at least a dozen of our most artfully decorated sugar cookies for Santa. As Grandma tucked me into bed, I wondered, “When is Mommy coming home?”

“Pretty soon,” Grandma whispered. “Don’t worry. She’ll be here for Christmas.”

I must have dropped off while I was devising a way to stay awake until our parents got home. Before I knew it, my room was filled with sunlight. I leapt out of bed and ran across the hall to get Mike.

“It’s Christmas!” I grabbed the bedclothes, pulling them off him. “Let’s go get our presents!”

Mike came to life in an instant and raced me downstairs to the living room. As soon as I turned the corner at the bottom of the stairs, I felt a coldness in my stomach. We both stopped dead in our tracks.

There wasn’t one single present under the tree. Not one.

Mike swung around, grabbed his stocking from its place on the banister. Empty. So was mine.

I bawled. “We must be on Santa’s Bad List!”

“Shush!” Mike snapped at me. “Let me think!” He paced in front of the tree, which once looked so beautiful with lights and tinsel and ornaments, but now seemed entirely barren. I cried as quietly as I could, stifling an urge to scream for Mommy by chewing on the collar of my nightgown.

Suddenly, Mike pointed an accusing finger at me. “What did you do?”


“You must have done something, because I’ve been very good.”

“Me, too,” I howled.

The ruckus finally reached Grandma’s ears, and she hurried down to tell us to be quiet. Then Dad came stumbling down the stairs in his pajamas. “Now, now, kids,” he yawned. “What’s the fuss?”

Mom followed him in her bathrobe, carrying a tiny pink bundle. “Here, my darlings. Here’s your Christmas present! Meet your new baby sister, Mary Christine.” She sat down on an ottoman, holding back a fold of the blanket so we could see the blotchy little face in the pink knit cap.

We stared at the new creature, and for a long while, nobody spoke. Mom radiated happiness. Grandma smiled at us. Dad yawned again and rubbed his eyes.

It was Mike who broke the silence. “That’s not what I asked for,” he said. “I already have a baby sister. I wanted a train set.”

My tears started anew. “And I wanted a Betsy Wetsy doll!”

“Honey,” Mom soothed. “A real baby is better than a baby doll.”

“Not better than a Betsy Wetsy! Betsy Wetsy eats and cries and wets.”

“So will this baby,” Mike glowered. “Peeee-yoo!”

“Children!” Grandma chided us. “I’m sure Mary isn’t the only present Santa sent you…”

Dad cleared his throat. “Well...” he stammered, “here’s the thing…Mary was the…the limit for what we could get this year.”

Grandma’s spine stiffened. “Why didn’t you ask for my help?” she chided. “I would have made sure the children weren’t disappointed.” I almost stopped crying at the thought of Grandma in Santa’s Workshop, directing the elves to pack up this or that for me. Then I realized she probably would have chosen “practical” things like long underwear and alphabet flash cards, so I kept right on blubbering.

“You’ve done so much already,” protested our mother. “Besides, a new baby is the best gift anyone could ever ask for. I want the children to understand that.”

I cried harder. Mike was angry. “Great! All that being good…all those cookies we left for him, and all we get is that?”

Dad put his foot down. Literally. “That’s enough!” he shouted, stamping his foot in way that always got us to shut up. The noise woke Mary, and she produced an ear-splitting wail unlike anything I’d ever heard before.

Mom gathered Mary close to her heart and started walking and bouncing the baby at the same time. “Hush, baby….Hush now…” she crooned. At her instruction, Dad went to the kitchen to fix a bottle, mumbling something about coffee…Irish coffee. Grandma was dispatched for a clean diaper and a warmer blanket.

Mike knew what to do. “Come on. Let’s get dressed and go outside. We can get our toys out of the trash can.”

Taking his hand, I said, “I sure hope we don’t get put on Santa’s Bad List next year.”

“I don’t care,” Mike declared, glaring at the little baby with the incredibly loud voice. “Santa is the one that better watch out. He’s on our Bad List now.”

© 2004 SLHansen

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Why God Called Her to Become a Nun...

This story was just what I needed to wake up to this morning. It's about a nun in Milwaukee who was car-jacked and has now immersed herself in the rehabilitation process of the young perpetrator's life.


Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Prayer Requests

If you don't mind, would you be so kind as to take a few seconds to pray for these intentions of ours?

For the repose of the soul of Jessie I. Tibbetts, grandmother to cousin M., who has been our family helper this past year. Jessie was 95 years old and sounds like she was a lovely woman, though I never got the chance to meet her.

For a possible new source of income for my husband. Money has been awfully tight for us all year, and it doesn't look like it's getting better, only worse. It's a long story and too painful to relate right now, but it all comes down to his boss making bad business decisions and not accepting wise counsel from anyone. My husband is interviewing with another company today, a national Catholic organization, with the hopes of starting something that he can do part-time now to keep us afloat and eventually full-time if/when the time comes for him to leave the store.


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

A Question of Justice

When the topic of capital punishment comes up, I will be honest if asked, but in all truth, I would rather go hide in a hole somewhere than discuss it. Today, though, I feel like I might as well publish my thoughts here.

I am opposed to Capital punishment, but it’s hard for me to say so. I live in the bluest city in one of the reddest states in the Union, so once you take a stand on any dicey issue, people tend to jump to a whole bunch of conclusions about what you believe on other issues. For the record, I’m also opposed to abortion and euthanasia and so-called ‘selective reduction’ of multiple pregnancies. It’s actually rather rare to find a person who is pro-life in ALL areas around here – either you’re for the death penalty and against abortion or you’re against the death penalty and for abortion.

Frankly, I have a great deal of trouble fathoming how a person can be opposed to capital punishment but okay with abortion. That just doesn’t make sense to me – protect the lives of proven criminals but kill the innocent? The reverse is a little easier to understand, because they’re trying to protect the lives of the innocent while they are okay with killing off those who were proven guilty.

But me – I just can’t stomach capital punishment. I have heard all the arguments, and to be honest, I do wonder sometimes if it wouldn’t just be easier on society if proven murderers were put to death. Still, when I sit down and analyze the process of capital punishment, I simply can’t accept it as okay.

Suppose a guy named Cal named despised a guy named Bill because of information about Bill that showed he was a lousy human being. So he caught Bill and took him to the basement. He sat him down and read off a list of grievances against him. Maybe Bill pleaded his innocence. Maybe he admitted his guilt and apologized. Regardless, Cal had made up his mind that Bill deserved not life but death. So he straps Bill down and slowly, methodically kills him, recording every minute detail of the process for his records.

Ordinarily, we would look at this account and say that Cal is a heinous murderer. His actions were absolutely premeditated, cold-hearted and lacking in mercy. And this thing actually happened last night, except Cal wasn’t an individual person, but the State of California.

Was Tookie Williams guilty or innocent? God knows, but I sure don’t. Yes, the evidence was pretty clear that he was guilty, I know that. But I have also sat on the jury of a criminal trial. The jury is only presented with the facts that the lawyers want you to know. You have to make a decision based on a Swiss-cheese sample of evidence.

When it was my turn to vote at the trial I participated in, I was confident that the evidence presented determined that I should vote guilty (and indeed, the jury was unanimous). But the fact that the evidence presented showed he was guilty did not mean he was actually guilty. We didn’t have all the facts. I remember thinking it was fortunate that the man’s life wasn’t on the line, just five years of his future. If we had made a mistake – through no fault of our own, because we couldn’t control what amount of facts we were given – the fellow could still get his life on track after his jail term was served. But think if it would have been a capital offence and we had been the last possible appeal!

No, I just can’t abide capital punishment. There is always the possibility that the evidence is wrong, and I am quite certain that among the people executed by state governments in the U.S., some have been innocent of the crimes of which they were accused. How many? God knows, I don’t. I believe our modern prison system -- while woefully overcrowded and not at all ideal in many ways -- is enough to protect society from those who would kill or otherwise harm others. That's enough. We don't have to become murderers to save ourselves.


Monday, December 12, 2005

Led to Holiness

Jeff Miller pointed me to this powerful and fascinating conversion story. It's at Speculative Catholic. You really must go read it if you haven't already!