Fonticulus Fides

Monday, February 27, 2006

Start Lent Right!

Read our Holy Father's encouraging words today.


Laziness can cost you

I parked on the street on Friday afternoon because cousin M was babysitting and parked in the drive. After she left, I was just too lazy to pull the minivan into the drive. I thought about it before I went to bed, but again just felt too darn lazy.

Well, some joyriders smashed our driver's side mirror with a baseball bat -- ours and several other up and down the block. And ours is one of those fancy electric mirrors that you control from the dash. The part alone is $210!

Very costly, that laziness! Worse, I had that voice in my head nagging me to do it. I gotta listen to that voice more often. It's going to cost me seven stories for the Catholic paper just to buy the part...fume, fume, fume...


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Nebraska sent a Catholic bobsledder to the Olympics

His name is Curt Tomasevicz, and you can read a little about him in this Catholic News Service article. Or you can read the bit I did for our diocesan paper below. Curt really is a great guy. I hope he does well this weekend.

Sacred Heart–Shelby parishioner pushes for Olympic victory

At the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Torino, Italy, Shelby native and Sacred Heart parishioner Curtis Tomasevicz will be pushing the USA-II four-man bobsled down a twisting, turning track and — hopefully — winning a chance to stand on the podium and accept a medal.

The four-man bobsled competition is next Friday and Saturday, February 24 and 25. Curt may also compete in the two-man event this weekend, as the drivers are free to pick the teammate they feel will give them the best speed on the day of the run.

A former linebacker for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) football team, Curt has been athletic all his life according to his mother, Amy Tomasevicz. “He was constantly in motion,” remembered Mrs. Tomasevicz, who also attends Sacred Heart, along with her husband Dennis, and teaches art at David City Aquinas.

After his career as a Husker walk-on was over, Curt entered the Master’s program in electrical engineering and continued to train in the UNL sports center. Two years ago, another former Husker athlete who was on the USA women’s bobsled team told Curt he’d make a great pusher – one of the guys who help the sled quickly get up to speed for the fastest possible score.

Curt was not only great, he was just about perfect. At 6’ 1” and 220 pounds, he said, “I'm right at the average size of a bobsledder.” His athleticism was a huge advantage, and he took to the sport rapidly, ousting several more experienced bobsled athletes for a spot on the national team.

“I believe that God gives everyone different gifts or potentials,” Curt offered. “It is what we do with those gifts that define how successful we are.”

One of the “gifts” in Curt’s life has been his hometown of Shelby, where locals staged several fundraisers, earning roughly $26,000 for his training and travels. “They’ve been terrific,” he said. “I couldn't have had the opportunity to be here without it.”

It’s an expensive sport, especially since there are only 16 bobsled tracks in the world, and the closest ones to Nebraska are in Lake Placid, New York, and Calgary, Canada. Curt divided his training time between those two sites and strength conditioning in San Diego, California.

“So far, the money Shelby earned has been able to cover everything,” a grateful Mrs. Tomasevicz said.

Training to push a bobsled is surprisingly similar to training for football. “Both require a lot of lifting and hard work,” Curt revealed.

The only trick was altering his running style. “As a football player, your muscles are tight because you could be hit at any time,” he explained. Running while pushing a bobsled requires a more relaxed gate.

Bobsledding might look like a fun, fast roller-coaster ride, but it is far more intense. And violent. As Curt described it, “Sometimes during the heavy curves, the G-forces will cause you to lose your breath.”

Plus, any time a person is hurtling at down an icy track at an average speed of 80 mph with minimal protection, there is a certain amount of danger. “I’ve been in two crashes in my brief career,” Curt said. Each time, the athletes could do nothing but continue sliding down the track upside down, helmets against the ice, waiting for the sled to stop.

That’s when Curt relied heavily on his Catholic upbringing. “It’s enough time to say three-and-half Hail Mary’s!” he reported.

Mrs. Tomasevicz thought she might let Curt give her a ride in a bobsled when she went to Calgary last year to watch him compete in the World Championships. “After seeing them do it once,” she confided, “I think I’ll just watch.”

Though Curt’s dad, Dennis, is unable to make the trip to Italy, his mom, brother and two aunts are all there to witness his Olympic debut. Although when it comes to bobsledding, spectators really don’t get to see much.

“You can kind of hear them coming and then, whoosh!” Mrs. Tomasevicz said.

As far as Curt’s medal potential, Mrs. Tomasevicz noted that his team has consistently placed in the top ten with every competition, often earning the fastest overall time on their second runs. “The first run is usually crummy,” she admitted, “but if they could get two good runs together, they could medal.”

Not that seeing her son win an Olympic medal of any color is crucial. “He’s having such a wonderful experience,” she said.

Curt and his teammates have every intention of putting themselves in medal contention, of course, even if it means upsetting the favored USA-I crew. Whatever happens, though he feels that he will come out on top. “I've met so many people, seen so many things and experienced so much,” he said. “Above all, I've learned a lot about myself.”

His free time is limited now that the Games have begun, but he managed to do a little sight-seeing after he got to Italy. He saw the Shroud of Turin with the team last week and said, “That was a very special moment for me.”

As he sat in the Olympic Athlete’s Village, he remembered what it was like to run into Memorial Stadium on game days. “I loved coming out of the tunnel…here was a huge sense of pride and honor wearing the N on my helmet.”

Now the uniform is blue instead of red (with a lot less padding) and his helmet reads USA. The feeling of honor and pride is even more pronounced. “Before we start at the line,” Curt said, “it gives me chills to hear the crowd chanting U-S-A, U-S-A…”


Crunchy Cons

My husband brought home a copy of Rod Dreher's new book, Crunchy Cons last night. What a great surprise! I read the intro and the first chapter last night and quickly skimmed through the rest. I'm kinda shocked at how much he writes about is exactly the way I think...and quite pleased to find there are sooooo many other people in the country who think the way I do. But it's a little scary that some of the things I thought were eccentric -- like the way my husband and I consider architecture part of our philosophy -- Mr. Dreher is promoting as well! Maybe I'm not as eccentric as I thought I was?

Well, so far, I'm enjoying the book and feeling so darn supported, I'm planning on expanding my organic garden this year.


Monday, February 20, 2006

In case you were wondering...

I don't play the lottery. So I didn't win anything, certainly not the scads of money that somebody won with a Lotto ticket here in Lincoln.

I don't play because I don't think winning the lottery is a very good idea. Usually, it just messes people up.


Monday, February 06, 2006

Nebraska March for Life Draws Thousands

This is the article I submitted for the local Catholic paper, which was published 2/3/06. I had some great photos, too, but I've forgotten how to post them.

Despite a chilly breeze and steady drizzle, thousands of Nebraskans met on Saturday, January 28, to participate in the annual Walk for Life, sponsored by Nebraska Right to Life.

The peaceful pro-life demonstration began on the west side of the State Capitol with a prayer from Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life. State politicians, including Gov. Dave Heineman, Congressmen Jeff Fortenberry and Tom Osborne, and state senator Mike Foley, offered encouraging words before hundreds of pink and blue helium balloons were released in memory of unborn children whose lives have been lost to abortion.

Then the eight-block walk began, heading north to the University of Nebraska student union, where keynote speaker Bobby Schindler of the Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation was welcomed with a standing ovation.

Several pro-life organizations had information booths set up at the union. Nebraska Right to Life distributed “Will to Live” packets (a pro-life alternative to advanced directives) and information on bills going before the state legislature regarding ethical stem cell research.

Julie Schmidt-Albin, director of Nebraska Right to Life, estimated the crowd to number 3,000, roughly one-third of which crammed into a student union meeting room for the keynote address.

“I thought it was a great turn-out,” she said. “A lot bigger than last year.”

The participants varied in age from a tiny month-old baby to people well into their golden years. Some came with their entire families, Others came with groups of friends. Several local religious orders were represented, and a number of participants were priests. Each one had a reason for walking.

Daryl Vagts of Saint Mary parish in Denton came for multiple reasons. “For one,” he said, “I should have a 26- or 27-year old son or daughter I don’t have and didn’t find out about until weeks afterward.” Mr. Vagts has also experienced the joy that adoption brings to families through his brother, who adopted three children.

When he became disabled and in need of a wheelchair about six years ago, Mr. Vagts suddenly found himself with time to put action to his pro-life convictions. He began accompanying a friend to pray outside Lincoln’s abortion clinic and also attends the annual Walk for Life.

Wanda Hall, who attends Emmanuel Lutheran church in York, got up early to drive into Lincoln, arriving hours before the event. She took a seat close to the podium so she could get a good view of Bobby Schindler.

She felt a great deal of compassion for the Schindler family as their daughter and sister, Terri Schindler-Schiavo, was ordered to death via starvation and dehydration last year, thanks to the right-to-die movement. Mrs. Hall understands the pressure of euthanasia, because her son Josh died of a brain tumor in 2004 at the age of 13.

“What people though was an unproductive life, wasn’t,” she recalled. “He had a great day with God every day.”

In his keynote address, Mr. Schindler urged the Walk participants to support all pro-life causes, including protecting the rights of the disabled and opposition to euthanasia.

He spoke a great deal about his sister, Terri Schindler-Schiavo, and how he believed that the diagnosis of “persistent vegetative state” (PVS) exists for a sole purpose: “To make it easy to kill the disabled. Anyone who is not able to speak can be diagnosed with PVS.” He noted that there are many different definitions of PVS and that it is misapplied approximately half the time.

Mr. Schindler believes that pro-life people should not accept or use the term PVS. “We have to stop recognizing or describing people as PVS. We need to remove it from our vocabularies, because it does nothing but dehumanize people.”

He continued, “What upset me so much was that Terri had to prove she was worthy of life.” Quoting Father Pavone, he added, “We do not have to pass a test to qualify for human life.”

The audience answered with vigorous applause.

It’s not too late for anyone to take a stand for the Right to Life. Mrs. Schmidt-Albin said that the information packets on bioethical research and state legislature bills 437 and 750 are still available from the Nebraska Right to Life office, as are the “Will to Live” documents. Videos and DVDs of Bobby Schindler’s speech are also available to borrow or purchase. For more information, visit the organization’s web site at or call 438-4802.

Words from the Pope on Pro-Life Day

Italy's Pro-Life Day was Sunday, I gather. Here is the Pope's statement in case you missed it.


Thursday, February 02, 2006

Important prayer request from Pansy!

Her brother Alex was recently diagnosed with lymphoma. Please head over there and let Pansy know you're praying...


A blessed Candlemas to all!

Fr. Jim Tucker at Dappled Things pointed me to The Lion and the Cardinal regarding today's feast, the Presentation of the Lord, and some of the traditional Catholic origins of the whole Groundhog's Day legend. Do, please, go take a look, if only to gaze upon the beautiful icon for today's feast.

For those of you who may not know it (converts like me, who are still learning the many facets of this rich faith), it's called Candlemas because beeswax candles are blessed for the year during the Mass. On the Fisheaters site (also recommended by Fr. Tucker), they indicate that folks can bring some of the candles home to use on altars at home, or maybe they mean that you can bring your own beeswax candles to Mass and have them blessed? They have to be beeswax, a symbol of the Holy Mother's virginity. Regardless, I'm out of luck this year as I have a full schedule and no time to pick up beeswax candles for Mass...and I'm not even sure if our priest is expecting folks to bring them. I'll have to put it on my electronic calendar to ask him about it next January 20 or something like that, so I can be prepared.

Regarding the feast itself. In Mexico, one eats tamales and drinks hot chocolate (cocoa). In Europe, one eats crepes. I guess we shall have pancakes and hot chocolate for supper -- the kids will love that!

And this is the day when most people in most of the world put away their creche. Americans, of course, are notorious for putting it away on December 26, save for the few who hold out to Epiphany. My sister does keep hers up until today. She started observing the Candlemas tradition because she has three December birthdays among her crew, and she doesn't put any Christmas stuff up until December 24, and I do know of several traditionalists who also wait until Christmas Eve.

Someday, maybe I'll try doing it that way. My husband is always very eager to have the Christmas season start the Saturday after Thanksgiving, which is his family's custom. Maybe we could mesh the two customs together. Although personally, I can't imagine having all the Christmas stuff up from (say) November 27 all the way through February 2, but maybe it would be fun.

My "creche" is still up today, but that's because I don't really have an actual creche. Our front door has an oval window, and a few years ago, I used stained glass paints and fake leading to make Nativity scene on a piece of glass. I take down the curtain we have over the window (it's very large, so it needs covering up to give us privacy at night) and put the Nativity window up. I'm rather proud of it -- it's not perfect, but from the sidewalk or street, it produces a lovely effect. But I confess -- the only reason it's still up today is because I haven't yet had a chance to wash the curtain that's usually up there!