Catholic Curiosities

The other day I picked up a pamphlet about a Novena to St. Jude in the back pew of Church.  To those who work for the Church this is a regular occurance.

It’s a sort of chain-letter kind of thing:

      1. Make this Novena to St. Jude
      2. Publish in a newspaper the results OR leave a copy (or LOTS of copies) of this novena in Church

Lots of church vestibules constantly see these sorts of things, sometimes with stern warnings to not remove the novena material and so forth.

Why do some Catholics do such a thing?  Well, in a word, superstition.  There are lots of superstitious things that well-meaning (although mistaken) Catholics do.

For example, even more popular than the St. Jude Novena (NEVER KNOWN TO FAIL, BY THE WAY!) is the goofy practice of burying a statue of St. Joseph in order to sell your home (HE WORKS FASTER IF YOU BURY HIM UPSIDE DOWN!).

And, of course, often enough the home is sold, or the novena request is granted, thus reinforcing through lived experience and the resulting word-of-mouth how effective such activities are.

Thankfully Joseph and Jude are both Jewish; so they can smile when I say, oy vey!

Leave the propaganda at home and just pray the novena, people.  And for God’s sake quit burying St. Joseph in the ground – not only disrespectful, but a violation of the First Commandment for sure, and likely the Fourth Commandment to boot.

Categories: Catechetics, Educational, Saints | Leave a comment


Most of my friends know that I enjoy gourmet cooking, and that my wife and I love to travel. In fact, my wife was a travel agent when we were first married, which facilitated lots of wonderful trips that we would not have been able to take otherwise.

What’s the best way to combine these two hobbies of mine? Through lobster, of course! And where do lobsters come from? Well, besides God, I mean. The finest lobster comes from Maine. As such, we have planned (for a long time now) and finally made good on a trip to the land of lobsters, Maine, USA.

One of the driving forces behind the vacation was to search out, find, and consume as much lobster as possible. I’m proud to say that I averaged at least one lobster per day, and on a good day put away two of these exquisitely delicious crustaceans.

Anyway, I thought I’d share with you for the next several entries some highlights from our trip and interesting tidbits learned while on it.

Lobster Fun Facts:

  • Most lobsters are sold as “chicks” – about 1 ¼ lbs in weight – seven years old.
  • American (Maine) Lobsters have claws of different sizes – the larger of the two is the crusher claw and the smaller is the shredder claw.
  • Lobsters can be green, brown, orange, or even blue – they all turn red when cooked, however.
  • Only one-tenth of one percent of lobsters will live beyond their larval period. This is why is it crucial to return to the sea female lobsters carrying eggs, or any that have recently done so (marked by notching a vee into a section of their tail).
  • Although they typically crawl lobsters can sprint backwards very quickly (15 feet per second) by curling and uncurling their tail.

Praise to you, Lord God, King of the Universe – you create all things, including these delightful and fascinating creatures known as lobsters. Thank you, Lord, for these and all your gifts you pour upon us.

Categories: Cuisine, Educational, Travel | Leave a comment

Labor Day?

Today is a holiday that honors the “working man.” At least that’s what was envisioned when the first Labor Day was celebrated in New York City in 1882.

But maybe today we should call it Consumerism Day or Materialism Day or Best-Day-for-a-Car-Sale Day. Because it’s focus seems to have somehow morphed into a day for commerce.

So, ironically, instead of a day off for working people, everyone in the retail business has to work harder.

One thing that seems to fit nicely with Labor Day is time to spend with your family. Lots of vacation stuff happens around this long weekend, and I really like that.

Enjoy the day, spend it with family or friends. Relax, converse and just enjoy being with others. It’s a lost art these days.

Categories: Educational, Ranting | Leave a comment

Monotreme Extraordinaire!

Monotremes are the most primitive mammals – or so scientists tell us.

The word monotreme means “one-holed,” which describes the cloaca that this odd group exhibits. That just means that they have a single hole that serves the urinary tract, anus and reproductive tract.

I say, yada, yada, yada . . . Who cares about all that business – I think monotremes are just plain cool.

And no monotreme is cooler than the Ornithorhynchus anatinus, better known as the Duck-Billed Platypus.

And today I salute these beautiful creatures that serve as a testament to the hand of God, and especially to his sense of humor.

These half-beaver, half-duck, half-bird, half-mammal critters are just incredibly fascinating. They remind me of a Mr. Potato Head – slap a beak on the front, beaver tail on the back, etc.

But in fact, they glorify Almighty God in the simplest and most profound way – just by being who they are!

Learn more about these fascinating animals here.

And thank God in your prayers today for such wonders.

Categories: Commentary, Educational | Leave a comment

Dark meat, white meat?

I am roasting a turkey breast for dinner this evening, which got me thinking, “what is it that makes the dark meat dark?”

Or, for that matter, the white meat white?

Turns out that the more active muscles in a bird need more oxygen. The highly active muscles are filled with blood vessels that contain myoglobin (muscle hemoglobin). Consequently, the more myoglobin the muscle has, the darker it appears.

So, in a turkey, the legs and thighs (which are the most active) are dark. The wings (which aren’t used for sustained flying) are less active, and thus have less myoglobin, and are lighter.

The taste difference is simply attributed to the type of muscle present.

Chickens are similar to turkeys, whereas ducks and pheasants (who do use their breast muscles for sustained flying) have all dark meat.

I’ve been trying to use turkey more often in cooking. It seems like every Thanksgiving I say to myself, “why don’t we eat this more often during the year?”

Ben Franklin advocated making the turkey the national bird and symbol of our nation. While I do think turkeys are pretty cool, they are also too tasty to set aside.

Sorry, Ben, but if you would have gotten your way I’d have to order a pizza tonight!

Categories: Cooking, Educational | 1 Comment

Why I won’t make Principal anytime soon . . .

One of the main projects I’ve been working on at St. Gerald has been an expansion of our school to accommodate 7th & 8th grade students. Because of the construction occurring, we pushed back the beginning of school until after Labor Day.

The local public schools began classes this Monday, August 15th. As in the middle of the month of August!

As best as I can remember, when I was in school we went back around Labor Day and were finished in May. Yet today, it seems the kids go back earlier all the time, and some of them don’t begin their summer vacation until June.

Something fishy is going on here, methinks.

Now I’m not advocating any sort of “kid-strike,” but doesn’t that seem incredibly early to be going back to school? It’s craziness, in my view. Students need fully three months of vacation to enjoy the summer, go to various camps and activities, and hopefully, go on vacation with their families. Moreover, high school students need that summer time for work — college isn’t getting any more affordable as time goes by.We drive students very hard these days, treating them like miniature adults with hectic schedules, numerous extra-curricular activities, and unnecessary stress in their young lives. Might be a good idea to re-think some of the wisdom behind all of that.

Let the kids be kids, I say — and give them their FULL summer vacation to enjoy this wonderful time in their lives!

Categories: Educational, Ranting | Leave a comment


A good number of those reading this post have at some time been the target of a bully. Many readers have likely bullied others themselves. And I would venture a guess, that everyone has been a bystander when someone near you has been bullied. It’s a prevalent problem in our country, and has been for some time.

St. Gerald School wants to eliminate this problem, so today our school hosted a wonderful program on bullying. Dr. Barbara Coloroso traveled to Omaha to be with us.

She’s an internationally known speaker, educational consultant and author. She has taught at secondary and college levels, and infuses her presentations with humor and practical advise.

In the morning, she met with over 300 teachers, principals and administrators from the Archdiocese of Omaha. She spent the afternoon with St. Gerald School’s staff, and in the evening hosted another presentation for the general public, especially for parents.

More info on this delightful person and fabulous resource can be found here.

Thanks for your help, Barb! May God continuously bless your work.

Categories: Educational | Leave a comment

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