Up-ish Again. Yay!

Spent about a week feeling way, way worse.  As in: Light-headed verging on headache-y if a sat upright.  At all.  So I watched movies, because writing flat on your back is not so fun.  Interestingly (disturbingly?) the one thing I didn’t do was pray any better.  But SuperHusband & I did do some contingency pre-planning, and discuss funeral music, because, well, we’re picky about music.  Last night I pointed him to the Dies Irae, and he was alarmed no one had ever played it in church before. Makes you feel cheated.  I’ve never heard it myself, I just look at in the hymnal and know that I love it.

So whichever one of us dies first, the other one gets to hear good funeral music live, and the early-departer gets the remote version.  (Or, if we’re bad . . . let’s not think about that.  I know there’s suffering in purgatory, but our Lord wouldn’t stoop so low as to open The Gather and . . . we’re not talking about that now.  I’m going with those lines about pleading for mercy.)

So my kids have this weird notion that the way one faces serious illness is to give your spouse dating advice and watch movies all day.

And then I started feeling better again.  I won’t say I feel *normal* sitting upright, but at least I feel normal enough that I keep doing it, because: More interesting.

And definitely not feeling all funeral-planny this week, so that’s good.

Follow-up appt with cardiologist next week, in which we figure out where I should go next.


I started back writing stuff, and if you don’t subscribe to the blorg, you can periodically check the archives and click on the interesting stuff.  I’m trying to use titles that more or less tell you what the post is about.  Here you go, I think this is all the interesting bits since last I posted here:

  • March 28, 2014 Students Angry at Catholic School for Teaching Catholic Faith – UPDATED  News item out of Charlotte, NC, w/ prayer request for you to pray for Bishop Jugis, and also I rant a little.
  • March 28, 2014 Do the Ends Justify the Means? Blog catechism class, because some of my readers were unclear on how double-effect and don’t-do-evil-that-good-may-come-of-it work.  Also, now my all time favorite intro to theology book can be purchased on Amazon — that is, there were six copies, used, when earlier I wrote.  They might all be sold now.
  • March 27, 2014 How Can the Spirtually Flabby Be Helped? Link to my New Evangelizers column.  I was irritated by the people who say, “Lent is So Easy! Quit Whining!”, so I wrote about how they could quite whining about the whiners (me), and make themselves useful around their parish.
  • March 27, 2014 How’s that Religious Freedom Thing Working Out These Days? The Constitution.  I’m partial to it.  Blame my upbringing.  Interesting weird arguments going on in the combox.  Someone brought Rastafarians into it, as people will.
  • March 26, 2014 What Makes a Catholic Book Catholic?  Link to my column at the CWG.  Because the day before I said I really really liked Funeral Kings (movie), and I do like it, and you should be briefly scandalized by that that assertion, but I have reasons.  But no, it’s not Catholic  — at least, not the kind of Catholic that gets a CWG Seal of Approval.
  • March 25, 2014 St. Dismas Day, and a Movie to go with: Funeral Kings  More f-bombs in that movie than I think I have ever heard anywhere anytime, and that’s saying something.  And yet weirdly, it’s a good movie, in it’s way.
  • March 23, 2014 On Evangelization: Even People Like You are Missionary Material  Reprint from a few years ago, column from Amazing Catechists that coincided with the day’s Gospel, which was the Samaritan woman at the well.  You may remember it’s the one where we see how she evangelized despite herself.
  • March 21, 2014 Radio Silence = Please Pray  See.  I was sick.  Sick-Er.  Proof.


That’s all I know.  Some real life friends and I were thinking we ought to pick a reputable Servant of God (a “venerable”) who’s angling for a promotion to be our next invoked-saint.  Any suggestions?  Favorites?

psst . . . Jen . . . quit mixin’ up your holy-people terms.  “Servant of God” is the step before “Venerable.”  See more here, Thank You, Wikipedia!

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

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 patheos.com/blogs/jenniferfitz, 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.

News & Links: Four Variations on the Parent Problem.

1. Now up at New Evangelizers, my latest contribution to the RE Conflagration:

The answer to the parent-problem is simple: Evangelize them.  Mom or Dad (or Grandma or Grandpa) has darkened the doors of Church, and so what if they’re just there for the poinsettias or the white dress, run with it!  Welcome them, share the Gospel with them, and bend over backward to make it possible for them to take another step forward in their faith.  They might or might not choose to accept that invitation, but we can at least eliminate as many excuses as possible.

Also you learn something about the state of my garden.  Which is no better than the state of my housekeeping, as it happens. Despite the fact that I love the one and could happily dispense with the other. Go figure.

2. Update from yesterday’s round of vexation, condensed and paraphrased version:

Dr. W: I dunno what’s wrong.  How about we do a heart cath?

Us: Really?

Dr. W: Really.

Us: Really?!

Dr. W: Really.

We did that about twenty different ways, then set a date for March 12th.  He said I was probably quite safe checking the mail in the meantime.  And anything else I feel like doing.

(He didn’t mean “anything I feel like doing” as in: Break into the box of Easter chocolate.  He meant like physical exercise and stuff.)

UPDATE TO CLARIFY per a question from a friend: By “twenty different ways”, what I mean is that we talked about all the medical issues and agreed on a plan.  Didn’t mean that to sound like we just shook the 8 Ball or something.

3. If you want do something double-good this Lent, consider reading one of Ann Frailey’s books.

4. Please pray for the repose of the soul of Larry D’s father.  Who popped into my mind for entirely other reasons, which I’ll chat more about a different day.

Effort & Illness: The Confusing Habits of Sick People

Since I surround myself with people who know better, no one’s yet given me the dreaded words You don’t look sick. Even people who do look sick often don’t look as bad as they feel*.  As Jen Fulwiler explained it last year:

I feel self-conscious that I’ve been doing better, and have no visible symptoms of being ill. . . . I worry that the folks dropping off the food are starting to suspect this is some kind of scam. The other day a super sweet lady from the parish came by with a steaming gourmet dinner for our entire family, complete with appetizers and dessert. I had just gotten back from a doctor’s appointment so I was dressed up and wearing makeup; I’d been resting most of the day so I was unusually energetic. She seemed tired from having worked so hard to cook for our entire family in addition to her own, and I used my Neurotic ESP to determine that she was wondering why I wasn’t cooking for her.

I told Joe that I should get some crutches for when I answer the door for people delivering meals, as a symbolic gesture to assure them that their efforts were not wasted. He looked at me like I was insane, and pointed out the obvious fact that my problem is with my lungs and that I would have no use for crutches under any circumstances. I said that I know, but they sell them at the grocery store, and I didn’t know where to get my hands on a ventilator — and, again, it’s all for symbolism anyway. He backed away from me slowly and went to pour himself a large glass of wine.

Yes.  This. I put a short section in my catechist book on invisible disabilities, because it’s something that comes up in religious ed more often than you’d think.  Mostly among catechists, but among students as well.  That one chapter is the one I get the most thank you letters about.

You can be seriously ill without being 100% incapacitated.

It’s pretty rare for someone to be completely felled in a single blow.  This causes confusion, because you see people wandering WalMart who look like they’re going to collapse any second now.  So if your sick person still has good balance and coordination, and manages to answer the phone in a cheerful manner, you think, “Must not be that sick.  There are people at WalMart who look much, much worse.”

The people at WalMart might be worse.  But that doesn’t cause the sick person to be less sick.

Some people are good at putting on.

I knew a lady once who would answer the phone cheerfully even if you woke her up at 4AM.  It wasn’t that she wanted you to call then.  She just had excessively good phone manners.  And thus the Perceived Illness Paradox: Some people complain a lot, other people don’t.  Some people are good at masking their symptoms, other people aren’t.  Some people are good at coming up with clever work-arounds that keep them high-functioning, other people aren’t.  You really can’t judge how someone feels inside by how they’re acting outside.

Rest makes a difference.

Anyone who races knows you manage your training schedule so that you peak when it counts.  There are days when you can ride hard and fast, no problem, and days when you can’t.  Depends on how much sleep you got.  What you did the day before.  What you did the week before.

Illness doesn’t change that, it just changes the scale.

Figuring out an unpredictable body is exhausting.

Normal people spend most of their time operating well within the margins of their abilities.  If you knew you had to ride 100 miles on your bike sometime soon, you’d have to plan ahead to make sure you could do it.  You’d strategize how to make it happen with as little trouble as possible.  But you wouldn’t feel the least bit of guilt if you misjudged: “Wow, that was easier than I thought it would be, why did I make such a big deal out of it?”  Or conversely, “I knew it would be hard, but I didn’t realize how hard!”

Sick people have to figure out the 100-mile ride about everything they do . . . and then get in trouble if they misjudge.  “Why’d you spend half an hour answering e-mails? You should have rested up so you could talk to your mother on the phone!”  Or “Why’d you put off that phone call, look, you talked for twenty minutes, no problem!”

It’ll make you bonkers.  You hear the mail truck go by, and you think to yourself, “Should I walk to the mailbox?  Or get a kid to do it for me?  What’s the best thing here? How will this decision impact my family life?”

What you like is easier than what you don’t like.

Sick people are confusing because their gifts don’t go away.  Okay, if your gift is watching football on TV, everyone will think, “Look he spends all day watching football games, he must be sick.”  But what is hard for you is effortless for someone else. What is easy — even fun — for you is difficult for someone else.  It’s not about the sheer physical energy required.  It’s the mental energy.

So my son might say to my daughter, “I see you have plenty of time for scrapbooking.  Why don’t you research computer components?  What’s wrong with you?  Just lazy, I see.”  And she’d point out to him that he received a photo album for Christmas, and he’s supposed to put his photos in it.  He had time to build a computer, and even more time for playing computer games . . . why so lazy with the photo album?

Everything costs.

There’s service to your fellow man, and then there’s letting your fellow man turn you into his servant. We live in a hyper-critical age.  What you wear, what you eat, what your hobbies are, how you spend your money — all of it is subject to the approval of seven billion self-appointed guardians.  That doesn’t change when you’re sick, it just becomes harder to please the seven billion, because you’ve got less to please them with.

Normal people might say, for example, “Is it worth it for me to give up an hour of my time to visit my crotchety uncle who invited me for dinner tonight?”  When you’re sick the question becomes, “Is it worth it for me to set aside an entire afternoon to rest, and give up getting any chores done, at all, the entire day, so that I can physically pull off the feat of visiting my uncle for an hour?”

In normal life, a dysfunctional friend is the one who makes inordinate demands on your time and energy.  In sick life, everything is an inordinate demand.  But some of those demands are very gratifying, so you organize your life to make them possible. The chief sin of sick people, I suspect, is in gratifying too many whims.

Order in all things.

Sick people are confusing because of the scale change.  With so little room for covering-over, it becomes obvious what the sick person values most.  It becomes obvious where the conflicts lie, because there’s no margin where you can quick slip in a nod towards other people’s priorities.  As in academia, the rivalries can be so bitter because the stakes are so small.  “Just a few minutes of your time” is now also, “all your time”.  How are you going to spend all that time? The way you want?  The way I want? Something in between?

The Darwins have a novena started on just this question.

*Sometimes things look so bad that you assume the other way, “It’s not as bad as it looks, I hope?”  To which I’ll observe: A badly scraped knee looks horrible.  But it feels even worse.

Rant-o-Rama – Catechesis Edition + Proof I Can’t Proofread But You Should Write Your Story Anyway

1. If you haven’t seen Dorian Speed’s posts on Catechesis, look now. #2 is up.  Don’t neglect the combox.  But here’s what: If your parish has to wring hands over whether to give the 2nd Graders a pre-sacramental quiz, the question isn’t, “Should we give a quiz?” The question is, “How have we gotten into this bind, and what do we need to do radically differently from now on?”

The answer is not in the quiz.  It’s not about the quiz.  Soul at a time.  Soul. at. a. time.

2.  You should never, ever, write something like this:

There’s a fine line between humility and stupidity, and I try my best to stay on the better-edited side of that line.

Yes, I used the word “try”. I was trying.  I was. trying.  I proofread that post.  I did.  Proofread. Solemn assurances of truth-telling.  And yet we’ve found three egregious typos in it so far today.  Read it yourself and see what else you find.

[Hint: I tell you that if you like to write, you should write the stuff you like to write.  Not complicated, and yet weirdly people get all confused about this.  Also I plug the CWG, because trust me your favorite best-selling mega-busy author is not your critique service.  But the CWG?  We do this.  Amateurs welcome.]

3. Back to catechesis: Allow me to tell you a terrible story. I once had a DRE tell me how much she loved her current job, because it was so different from her previous parish.  “Here, all the catechists go to Mass on Sundays!”

I was happy for her. I was.

But seriously.   Problems in catechesis run deep.  It’s not about the quiz.  The quiz conundrum is the nasty festering ulcer everyone’s tempted to chop off, and maybe it does need to be chopped off, or filled with leeches or maggots or I dunno what.  But until you figure out what’s causing that festering wound, new ones are going to keep popping up.  There are bigger problems.  Deeper problems.  Fix those.

4.  Prayer and fasting.  That’s how.

A Feast Day Gift for You & Your Friends

If you are looking for some Petrine thoughts out of me today, take a look at the workbook I put together for today’s CCW retreat.  It’s conveniently stored on this page here on the blog, and this is the direct link to the PDF. It is not for sale, but you may use it and reuse it and pass it around.

Please keep the retreat folks in prayer.  Might I observe that the Joyful Mysteries are perfect for this sort of occasion?  Those of you who won’t see this request until after the retreat is over, consider yourself part of the post-retreat-letdown-prevention wing of the prayer group. Thanks!

Plague Journal, Conference Edition

Got home last week, made it through Co-op Friday with the help of Starbucks Via (I know, I know, let’s not talk about that), and got halfway through writing a post about singing the Divine Office when I came down with Plague #348, Do Not Try Singing Version. So that article’s sitting half-written. It’s hard to write about singing when you can’t.

Three girls are down with the evil thing today, so they’re doing the Steve Ray homeschool curriculum while I catch up on e-mail and other things that can done while sitting very, very still.  The Healthy One has been promised my piece of coffee cake from yesterday if he does all his homework and cleans the house.

Meanwhile, if you like to write, there’s this conference you need to quick go register for. It’s free, it’s online, it’s Catholic, and it’s open to anyone who wants to come.  You can take one class, all the classes, whatever you like, but registration closes Feb 7th.  Why do I think you should go? Because of this.  In which I answer the question: How did a housewife who surfs the internet too much end up getting published? With a real publisher? Because of the Catholic Writers Guild Online Conference.  That’s how. 


Other interesting things around the Castle:

Kitten Watch 2014 We got home from the March for Life, and our cat was still pregnant.  SuperHusband had given up on her, and decided she must just be really fat.  #2 theorized it was a nasty case of parasites.  But the resident I’ve-been-pregnant person (me) was able to persuade them that those wiggly minature-spinal column things you can feel if you palpate Cat’s abdomen very gently?  Yeah.  Kittens. 

And I keep catching that &(*^%&* cat in my closet.  Just no.  NO!

Music.  SuperHusband’s been recording some.  If you go in for high-high-Church, here’s his site.  I could get used to this.  And yes, you can download the MP3′s for free.  That’s the whole point. 



Sheengazing Awards 2014 – thank you, and you could vote

A hearty thank you to whomever nominated me for a Sheengazing award. When I got the e-mail I was puzzled, because my first thought was “Martin Sheen? I can’t even remember what movie it was . . .”   Oops.  That would be: Bishop Fulton.  If you happen to think that of all the under-appreciated blogs on the roster, mine is the best, feel free to vote for me.

The nice thing about being nominated to the UAB category, is that no matter where you end up in the final tally, you’re affirmed in your status as an under-appreciated person.  Am I the most under-appreciated?  The least appreciated of the under-appreciated?  Something in between?  We’ll know 9pm Monday.

Quick Notes – Homeschooling at our house, kitten-watch, and Pray for the McNichols

Up at CatholicMom.com: Things I’m changing at our homeschool for the new year.

We did Day 1 of this today.  It was successful.  That means nothing.  But it’s always fun enjoying the first day.


In Kitten Watch 2014: The cat is waddling around looking very pregnant.  It was quiet for a while this afternoon — cat now has a shiny collar with a bell on it, so if she’s nosing around, you know — and I walk back to the bedroom and our closet door is open.  And I’m thinking to myself: You’d better not be giving birth in my closet.

Just so you know, that goes for everybody, not just cats.  No giving birth in my closet.  Just no.


BTW if you missed it, please pray for the McNichol family.

12 Days of Plague – Cats, Acts, Magic Books

Since last I wrote:

1. Yes, we’re having a lovely Christmas.  Some of the neighbors kept the lights up until 2014, but it appears we’re the only ones going in for the full 12 days.

2. On the 1st Day of Christmas, we upgraded from Plague Lite to Plague Medium.

3. Using the ever-reliable “ask at the office method”, we had a successful Cat Day of Christmas.  SuperHusband’s colleague seemed very, very eager to deliver her son’s gently-used cat to us.

4. So I had about 30 minutes from “Just calling to see if you guys wanted to meet the cat today” to “Here she is!”.  That, because said colleague lives on a farm outside of town.  I told the children that if they wanted a new cat, they had 30 minutes to clean the house.  I said, “It’s okay if it looks like we’re busy, but not if it looks like we’re slobs.”

They wanted a cat, so they did what was necessary to perpetuate that particular lie.

5.  She is mostly a petite, very friendly, tortoiseshell-colored cat who’s had her kitten shots, and is due for a follow-up with the vet now that she is all grown-up.

6. But she’s partly a walking 12th-day-of-Christmas present.  We’re taking bets on when the kittens are due.

7. Colleague swears she had no idea.

8. I know! I said the same thing.

In other news, not-about-a-cat edition:

9. I’ve been writing a ton, but all of it offline.  I’m hoping it will see light of day in a year or two.  More later.  Much later.

10. I’m getting wildly excited about the retreat coming up in February.  Discovered that certain hymns you’d swear would be easy-peasy to find online out-of-copyright just aren’t.  Luckily, there are other hymns.

I solved my previously-mentioned problem by using iBreviary’s web page to download the LOTH for the 22nd (Feast of the Chair of St. Peter – man is that cool or what?), but not before I had stumbled upon the magic green book. Read more about it here.

For the maximum of magic, you want the one for your archdiocese.

So, btw, do I.  I lost mine already.  It’s so small.

11.  You probably already saw what I came up with for New Evangelizers for December.  It’s here.  Short version: When you tell me, “It’s the thought that counts,” I certainly do agree with you.  But if there’s an action involved, the action counts, too.  Don’t be all goofy and go around thinking that what you do with your body doesn’t matter.  It matters.

12. I know.  Easier thought than done.