Thursday, December 22, 2011



...reminds me of this.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

“I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least"

A few years ago a friend of mine told me that he had recently started reading the Fathers of the Church, which, he said, made him feel like "the great slacker of the world."

I had a similar feeling as I read The Soul of the Apostolate a few years back.

This is the effect that good spiritual reading ought to have on us. From it, we learn from holy people (that is, people who are fiercely serious about loving God and one another, along with the Church, Scripture, and Tradition, who are indefatigably committed to prayer and the Sacraments, and who know a thing or two about self-mastery thanks to regular and rigorous penance and mortification) what, with God's grace, we are capable of, and what He put us on this earth to do.

Good spiritual reading also reminds of our own pathetic brokenness, and how far we presently are from reaching a point anywhere close to that reached by the spiritual masters whose works we read.

Sure, no one likes to be reminded of his faults and imperfections, but we periodically need to remind ourselves (or have someone else remind us) of how not-so-good we are, lest we get a little too comfortable with ourselves and become -- God forbid -- proud.

With this in mind, consider these words of Servant of God Dorothy Day, whose death 31 years ago was commemorated yesterday:

“I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least.”

These words are as good a reality check as any we're likely to come across today. We would all do well to look deep within ourselves and honestly ask:

How much do I really love God?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Life Imitating Art

Here's a fair approximation of my reaction upon opening Haus Jansen's property tax bill:

We plan to appeal. Wish us luck!

Monday, September 19, 2011

"We Don't Realize How Dangerous Jesus Was"

My friend Rob Kaczmark from Spirit Juice Studios recently produced a trailer for Father Robert Barron's new TV series, Catholicism.

Check thou it out:

The series will be shown on several public television stations throughout the country starting this week. The full broadcast schedule is here.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

WYD 2011

BadCatholic blogger Marc Barnes recently posted this video that includes interviews with some brainwashed sheep impressive young Catholics who were among the 1.5 million pilgrims who attended World Youth Day in Madrid earlier this month:

Friday, June 24, 2011

"If The Eucharist Is Just a Symbol, Then to Hell with It"

Some might be scandalized by these words spoken by the sui generis Flannery O'Connor.

That's too bad, because they're absolutely true.

Two days hence is Corpus Christi Sunday, when we remind ourselves that when we attend Mass and receive Holy Communion, each of us had better make sure our own spiritual house is in order, because despite the fact that it looks like bread, tastes like bread, smells like bread, and is, therefore, by all appearances, bread, it is most certainly not bread.

If it were, in and of itself, it would be exactly worthless.

And yet it isn't. On the contrary, the Eucharist is the very Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and as such, it is literally of infinite value. We can never tire of reminding ourselves of that.

Just yesterday I came across the text of a smashingly good address given by Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput to the Catholic Social Workers Association in which he shared O'Connor's aforementioned quip and offered her as an example of someone who was to be commended for her "confidence in the Church or her impatience with the empty conceit of people who want the comfort of faith but not the cost of actually believing and living it."

As is his wont, Chaput pulled no punches and spoke clearly. Here's how his talk begins:

We’re here today — or anyway, we should be here today — because we believe in Jesus Christ. Everything in Catholic social ministry begins and ends with Jesus Christ. If it doesn’t, it isn’t Catholic. And if our social work isn’t deeply, confidently and explicitly Catholic in its identity, then we should stop using the word “Catholic.” It’s that simple.

Faith in Jesus Christ — not as the world likes to imagine him, but the true Son of God as the Catholic Church knows and preaches him — is the only enduring basis for human hope. Real hope has nothing to do with empty political slogans. It has nothing to do with our American addictions to progress or optimism or positive thinking.

This is what we call Getting Back to Basics: the Catholic Church is about nothing if it is not about Jesus Christ. Boom.

Needless to say, the whole address is well worth a read.

This "Getting Back to Basics" idea struck me a few weeks ago when I came across this story about Francesca Sinicrope, a student at a Catholic high school in Canada. This 17-year old girl found herself in the unlikely position of having to defend Church teaching to one of her teachers who apparently told her class that Jesus never rose from the dead, and that the real moral of the story of Jesus' life is that we should all be nice to each other or something.

Reading this, I was reminded me of what Rudolf Bultmann once said: "If the bones of the dead Jesus were discovered tomorrow in a Palestinian tomb, all the essentials of Christianity would remain unchanged" -- words that convey an idea so stupid that they could have only been uttered by a theologian.

Here's the deal: at its heart, the Catholic faith (and Christianity in general) isn't about being nice to people. It's not about helping the poor, or taking of the widow and orphan, or fighting abortion.

It isn't about believing things like masturbation, pornography, contraception, non-marital sex, usury, defrauding laborers of their wages, etc., are sinful.

True, these things are part of the whole Christian scene, but they're not The Thing. At its heart, what the Catholic faith (and Christianity in general) is about is the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

Either Jesus rose from the dead, or he didn't.

If he did, then Christianity is true. If he didn't...well, then, boy, aren't we a bunch of idiots.

How much more clearly could St. Paul have made it?

If there is no resurrection of the dead, then neither has Christ been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then empty (too) is our preaching; empty, too, your faith. Then we are also false witnesses to God, because we testified against God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if in fact the dead are not raised.

For if the dead are not raised, neither has Christ been raised, and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins.

Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all. But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. (1 Cor. 15: 13-20)

That's why, as for me, if Jesus didn't rise from the dead, I'd renounce my faith yesterday, and I'd tell every other Christian to do the same.

If the Resurrection is just a myth, then to hell with it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My Two-Year Old Is Smarter Than Your Two-Year Old

Last night I caught him reading Prince Caspian:

Quite the precocious lad, he.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Why Do I Get the Feeling

...that the type of people who style themselves "conservatives" who fail to see that stuff like this is self-evidently boorish and obnoxious would also fail to see that stuff like this: sick and wrong?

Monday, May 23, 2011

You've Gotta Wonder If This Sign Is Really Necessary

Aren't senior citizens pretty much everywhere?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

"Priests Were Not Welcomed by the Nazis"

In yesterday's Chicago Tribune, accompanying a story about Derrick Rose being named the NBA's MVP at age 22 is a feature titled, "Where were you at 22?" that looks at what Some Famous People were doing at that age.

Notice in particular the caption next to Pope John Paul II:

I guess you could say that "priests were not welcomed by the Nazis," but that's a bit of an understatement, don't you think?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I Have a Newfound Respect for Evanston

...for telling the Tilted Kilt to get lost:

"The final straw was at the end of the liquor commission hearing," she said. "I was given a business card from the owner that shows a picture of one of the entertainers — that is what the waitresses are called. She had no head — it was just breasts, a shrug shirt, a bare midriff and the kilt, that little skirt."

Because, you know, it's not like they're objectifying women or anything.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Truer Words Have Never Been Spoken

This morning I came across a piece by Father George Rutler in this month's Magnificat about the much anticipated new translation of the Roman Missal.

In the course of discussing the extreme difficulty of providing an accurate translation of the Bible (or anything, really), he notes:

Times also change meanings: as architect of Saint Paul's Cathedral, Sir Christopher Wren was honored when Queen Anne said the finished building was awful and terrible; today she would have said awesome and overwhelming. And attempts to make words "culturally relevant" can be fraught with problems: I grew up with the King James Bible, one of the greatest works of art accomplished by a committee, but even my young ears thought it strange to hear that Pharaoh had a butler.

His "one of the greatest works of art accomplished by a committee" line prompted me to recall this plaque that hangs in my boss's office:

Monday, April 25, 2011

Surrexit Dominus Vere, Alleluia!

I think it's interesting that at Mass on Easter Sunday, in lieu of professing the Nicene Creed, each of us is cross-examined (pardon the pun) about its contents, and asked to affirm whether we believe what the Church believes.

We might ask ourselves, when we say the Creed on any other given Sunday, how much thought do we give it when we say, "On the third day He rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures?"

Do we really believe this? Do our thoughts, words, and actions convey that we really believe this?

The Resurrection of Jesus is the central belief of our faith. It isn't just a nice story that only credulous bumpkins believe in. It is a story, yes, but it also happens to be a true story.

Because, you know, it really happened.

I had thought about writing today about how hopelessly and laughably implausible all of the alternative explanations to The Empty Tomb are, but I don't have time. That, and there are already many wiser than I who have written articles debunking the would-be debunkers, so I'll just link to one of those instead.

And I'll say this:

Christ is risen! Indeed He is Risen!

And yea, our faith is true:

If there is no resurrection of the dead, then neither has Christ been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then empty (too) is our preaching; empty, too, your faith. Then we are also false witnesses to God, because we testified against God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if in fact the dead are not raised.

For if the dead are not raised, neither has Christ been raised, and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins.

Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all. But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. (1 Cor. 15: 13-20)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

"I Cannot Worship a Guy I Can Beat Up"

A while back, Mark Shea drew attention to some remarks by Pastor Mark "High Octane Calvinism" Driscoll of Seattle's Mars Hills Church:

In Revelation (the last book of the New Testament), Jesus is a prize-fighter with a tattoo down His leg, a sword in His hand and the commitment to make someone bleed. That is the guy I can worship. I cannot worship the hippie, diaper, halo Christ because I cannot worship a guy I can beat up.

Shea remarked: "I’m sure the guards in charge of the scourging at the pillar felt the same way. Surely, the measure of our worship is 'Can I beat up Jesus?'"

His comment prompted me to recall this ancient Eastern icon:

Its name? Christ the Bridegroom.

Think about that for a minute, especially in light of the Events we are preparing to commemorate tomorrow on Good Friday.

I, like most men on their wedding day, went to great lengths to look my best.

And yet, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ — the Bridegroom of bridegrooms — is here shown with His hands bound, stripped half naked, having just been mercilessly scourged and crowned with thorns, and as a result so weak that He can't even hold His head up straight.

Yes, Christ the Bridegroom, for He was preparing to perform the ultimate act of self-sacrificial love for His Bride the Church — read: us — just a few hours later, the completion of which He would signal by crying out from the gibbet of the Cross words we rightly associate with marriage:

"It is consummated."

Monday, April 18, 2011

It's a Boy!

John Paul Jansen was born at our house at 7:47pm last night, weighing in at 7 pounds even.

He is named for — well, duh — Pope John Paul the Great. And, in fact, we're hoping to have him baptized on May 1, the same day his namesake will be beatified in Rome by Pope Benedict XVI. (This will also be the day that our firstborn daughter Teresa will receive her First Holy Communion.)

The biggest question that remains at this point is what we will call most often him: "John Paul", "J.P.", "Johnny", and "Jack" are all in the running at this point.

Time will tell.

Friday, April 15, 2011

"How Ayn Rand Ruined My Childhood"

An interesting column ran in Salon last week entitled "How Ayn Rand Ruined My Childhood".

Reading it, I was reminded of something Mark Shea has often said: namely, that libertarianism is a philosophy for people with no children.

It also reminded me that choosing how to live one's life is not a matter of choosing whether or not one will subscribe to a dogma (or set of dogmas), but, rather, choosing which particular dogma (or set of dogmas) one will subscribe to.

And, it also reminded me of this.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Friday, April 8, 2011

Beef: It's What's for Dinner

A few friends of ours in recent years have bought beef in large quantities from local farmers — which seemed to me like a pretty neat idea for several reasons, not the least of which is my affinity for distributism.

Then last summer, after watching the fascinating documentary Food, Inc. — one of the most pro-distributism movies I've ever seen — I became convinced that our pamilya should do the same.

So last fall, on a recommendation from a friend, we went in with another family and ordered a quarter of natural pasture raised beef from Windsweep Farm in Dixon, IL, and we picked it up last weekend.

Each of our families ended up with about 60 pounds of cow — a mixture of steaks, roasts, and ground beef:

The average cost — including delivery and processing — ended up being only about $3.80/pound. And, we get the satisfaction of knowing we're supporting a regional farmer instead of some big agribusiness company.

As for taste, we had some for the first time last night: Jocelyn made beef asado out of one of the chuck roasts, and it was powerful tasty.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Behold the New Jansen Family Truckster

It was inevitable that we'd have to upgrade sooner or later, and what with (a) our 6th child due in a mere 23 days, and (b) our minivan only seating 7, now was the time.

Friday, March 25, 2011

It's No Coincidence That the Ring Is Destroyed on March 25

What with today's being the feast of the Annunciation, I figured it would be as good a day as any to post an excerpt from this article by the ever interesting Joseph Pearce, who explains why, despite the persistent protestations of some skeptics, The Lord of the Rings is a fundamentally religious and Catholic work — which, I suppose, is a bit like shooting fish in a barrel, since Tolkien himself said LotR is, you know, "a fundamentally religious and Catholic work."

If, however, Christ is never mentioned by name in The Lord of the Rings, how can we discern his invisible presence?

The most obvious parallel between Tolkien's myth and the Christian truth it reflects so faithfully is in the nature of the quest which constitutes the principal animus of Tolkien's story. The journey of Frodo and Sam into the very heart of Mordor in order to destroy, or unmake, the Ring in the fires of Mt. Doom is emblematic of the Christian's imitation of Christ in carrying the cross of sin.

At its most profound level, The Lord of the Rings is a sublimely mystical passion play. The carrying of the ring — the emblem of sin — is the carrying of the cross. This is the ultimate applicability of The Lord of the Rings — that we have to lose our life in order to gain it; that unless we die we cannot live; that we must all take up our cross and follow him.

All of this would be deducible from the story itself but Tolkien makes the parallel even more explicit. "I should say," he wrote, explaining the final climactic moments on Mt. Doom, "that within the mode of the story [it] exemplifies (an aspect of) the familiar words: 'Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them that trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.'"

As if this were not enough to silence those skeptics who obstinately refuse to acknowledge the overriding Christian dimension in The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien makes it even more unmistakable, and unavoidable, in the fact that the climactic attempt to destroy the ring, and in consequence the Dark Lord who had forged it, occurred on "the twenty-fifth of March."

The significance of this date will not escape the attention of Catholic scholars, though it is certainly overlooked all too often by Tolkien's non-Christian admirers. Tom Shippey, an Anglo-Saxon scholar and Tolkien expert, states in his book, The Road to Middle Earth, that in "Anglo-Saxon belief, and in European popular tradition both before and after that, March 25 is the date of the Crucifixion." It is also, of course, the Feast of the Annunciation, the celebration of the absolute center of all history as the moment when God himself became incarnate as man.

A Catholic and an Oxford don, Tolkien was well aware of the significance of "the twenty-fifth of March." It signified the way in which God had "unmade" the Fall, which, like the Ring, had brought humanity under the sway of "the Shadow." If the ring that the hero wants "unmade" at the culmination of Tolkien's quest is the "one ring to rule them all, and in the darkness bind them," the Fall was the "one sin to rule them all, and in the darkness bind them." On March 25, the one sin, like the one ring, had been "unmade," destroying the power of the Dark Lord.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Sun Is Out, and the Uber-Blizzard Is Apparently Over

And there is rather a lot of snow on the ground.

What with wind gusts as high as 60mph while it was snowing last night and early this morning, there was a whole lot of drifting that resulted in peaks and valleys.

On our front sidewalk this morning, there was at most 10-12 inches — and some spots that were nearly untouched by snow — but on the public sidewalk paralleling Haus Jansen, it's a lot higher:

I'm glad to be working from home today.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Misused Quotation Marks

A while back I came across these examples of signage with unnecessary quotation marks, and I've since discovered there's a blog dedicated exclusively to chronicling same.

Last month I found three examples of my own on Chicago's Northwest Side.


Who cares how bad your credit it? No need to worry about getting financing here! Absolutely none!


Because everybody knows there's no such thing as a free lunch comparative market analysis.

And, speaking of lunch, this one is my favorite:

I'll eat Just About Anything, but even I am leery of what I'd be served at a place that serves not breakfast, but "breakfast," not lunch, but "lunch," and not dinner, but "dinner."

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Good Night for a Christmas Party

Our staff Christmas Party is tonight.

You might be thinking: Isn't January 5 a little late for a Christmas party?

To which I would reply:


On the contrary, it's a great day to have a Christmas party, because today is the Twelfth Day of Christmas, which means tonight is Twelfth Night, and therefore worthy of a celebration.

We started the tradition of having our staff Christmas party during the first week of January a few years ago at the suggestion of one of my co-workers, who made the point that it's a bit unsuitable to have a Christmas party before, you know, Christmas. Especially when the "before" time is that of Advent, which is supposed to be a penitential season.

Having our staff Christmas party when we do is also nice for another reason. Inevitably, the month of December — especially the week before Christmas, when many office Christmas parties are held — is crazily hectic, and it's nice to not have to worry about One More Thing during that time, and instead to be able to put it off until the relatively less hectic first week of January.

So tonight, we celebrate.