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Today Is The Day
Get ready for it.
Okay Then, That Was Unexpected...
Weird.
Church Art Shouldn't Make You Say "Blech!"
Or cringe.
Cardinal Urges Priests To Liven Up Sermons
I got some ideas...
New Translation Objections Are Becoming More Ridiculous
Grasping at straws...
This Comes As No Surprise
Up with the ex-communicated!
Things A Catholic Ought Never Say
Watch your mouth!
Sister Patricia: On Seven Quick-Takes Friday
Catching up with Sr Pat.
Just Thought You'd Like To Know...
A public service announcement.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

O-bow-ma Strikes Again!!

Is there anyone in this world the president won't bow to?? Unbefreakinlievable!!U.S. President Barack Obama bows to Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio at MacDill Air Force Base on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010 in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo)

s/s to Weasel Zippers

Friday, January 29, 2010

Voter's Remorse

Being in sales, I'm on the road every day. It's all local - southeastern Michigan - and I drive on average 700 miles a week, traveling between customers and our two manufacturing facilities.

Southeastern Michigan - it includes Detroit and Ann Arbor - is the bluest part of the state. The Big 3 are headquartered here, and each of them have several car plants in the area. If you recall, during the presidential campaign, McCain wrote off Michigan early (right or wrong, doesn't matter now), and Obama won the state rather handily.

I don't recall exactly, but I remember seeing a very high volume of Obama bumper stickers and car magnets during and following the election and inauguration. The ominous logo, or the "Yes We Can!" slogan, or his image plastered on, what seemed to be, vehicle after vehicle after vehicle. Tons of proud supporters on the roads.

Since his election, Obama's popularity numbers have fallen dramatically, with much of the erosion occurring in the ranks of the Independents. More and more people are increasingly getting upset and angry over the direction our nation is headed, as his approval rating has been below 50% for quite some time now. Rasmussen Reports has a Daily Presidential Tracking Poll (1/29/10's poll is below), and the spread between Strongly Approve and Strongly Disapprove has been in double digits for the past few months.Since the Massachusetts US Senate election, undoubtedly an indictment of the Obama administration, I've been given more thought to the idea of "voter's remorse", the regret some people (or perhaps many many people) feel over having voted Obama into office. To me, that seemed obvious in Massachusetts, as well as Virginia and New Jersey with last fall's election of two Republican governors. So I started to wonder about people in Michigan - were people here starting to feel "voter's remorse", here in a predominantly Democrat/liberal state?

I'm sure many in the automotive industry, primarily the UAW, remain proud of their vote, given that the government bailed out Chrysler and GM, allowing many of their members to remain employed. And those in public education who voted for him were most likely equally proud of their choice. And there are the public sector employees too - staunch Democrat supporters.

But what about the rest who had voted for him? This isn't something that can be asked directly - I know people who voted for Obama, but I wouldn't ask them if they regretted their vote. Chances are they would lie anyway, to save face, that they are comfortable with their choice. Not only that, I don't discuss politics with customers, especially if their opinion is different than mine - prudence dictates that such a topic remain verboten. Business is tough enough as it is, and giving a customer any reason whatsoever to switch suppliers harms my family.

But I was still curious - how to gauge whether or not Michiganders, in the bluest area of the state, were experiencing any regret. And I came up with a very unscientific, anecdotal, quasi-statistical method to measure my assumption.

I counted bumper stickers. I started this past Monday, and completed the count this afternoon. Whether I was driving on the expressway, or surface streets, or in parking lots - I counted the vehicles (passenger vehicles only - cars, vans, SUVs, pick-ups. No commercial vehicles) and kept track of how many had either pro-Obama or anti-Obama bumper stickers or similar paraphernalia on them.

And here are the results: out of 1,569 vehicles, 6 sported pro-Obama stickers, and 13 displayed anti-Obama stickers. By anti-Obama, I mean "McCain/Palin", or pro-Conservatism, or any sticker that displayed an anti-Socialism sentiment. There were 2 or 3 "Nobama" stickers.

Percentage wise, those are really small numbers. Statistically insignificant. And I'm confident that no vehicles were counted twice. My routes and destinations were different each day, as well as the time of day I was driving, and I never counted vehicles in or around my neighborhood. As well as I can recall, though, there were days during the election season when I saw more than 6 pro-Obama bumper stickers. Easily.

I have theories why the number was so low, besides the "voter's remorse" one - along with the desire to keep one's support hidden, out of embarrassment.
  1. Many of the One's supporters are unemployed - thus, they're not driving around.
  2. Many of his supporters took advantage of the "Cash for Clunkers" program, and their old car had the bumper sticker on it.
  3. Many of his supporters are taking public transportation (or what there is of it around here!) because they can't afford the gas.
  4. They moved out of state in order to find a job.
All in all, I'm not putting much stock in my impromptu, terribly unscientific and unmeasurable exercise. I was surprised, however, to see that there were fewer pro-Obama stickers than the anti-Obama ones. Given Obama's falling poll numbers, and the flight of the Independents, I believe "voter's remorse" is real. How real won't be known until the elections this November.

And it's given me a business idea - develop a program to help Obama voters get over their remorse. I'd get an on-line psychiatry degree (how hard could that be?) to get a little bit of legitimacy, develop a web-site where Obama voters can register for counseling sessions (their identity would be protected, of course - they're embarrassed about it, after all), and come up with a fee schedule depending on how many sessions they would require. I'd call it 'Obamabots Anonymous', and it'd go something like this:
  1. Meet with person, one-on-one, and encourage them to admit that they voted for Obama.
  2. Smack them up-side the head, saying "What were you thinking?!?"
  3. Ask them if they intend on voting Democrat in the future.
  4. Repeat Step 2 as many times as necessary until they answer Step 3 "No".
  5. Enroll them in remedial American history and US Constitution comprehension seminars.
I'm willing to franchise, if anyone's interested.

Atheists Want Stamp Stamped Out

The nation's second largest group of cry-babies (after Congressional Democrats) are upset that the U.S. Postal Service will be honoring the memory of Mother Teresa of Calcutta with a postage stamp, due to arrive in August of 2010. Is it just me, or do atheists really hate her? Not just a mild I-hate-anchovies-on-my-pizza kind of hate, but the deep-in-the-gut visceral vein-popping sort. It's crazy how afraid they are of a little old Macedonian nun.

From MyFox9.com: Atheist Group Blasts Postal Service for Mother Teresa Stamp

An atheist organization is blasting the U.S. Postal Service for its plan to honor Mother Teresa with a commemorative stamp, saying it violates postal regulations against honoring "individuals whose principal achievements are associated with religious undertakings," Fox News reported Thursday.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation is urging its supporters to boycott the stamp -- and also to engage in a letter-writing campaign to spread the word about what it calls the "darker side" of Mother Teresa.

The stamp -- set to be released on Aug. 26, which would have been Mother Teresa's 100th birthday -- will recognize the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize winner for her humanitarian work, the Postal Service announced last month.

"Noted for her compassion toward the poor and suffering, Mother Teresa, a diminutive Roman Catholic nun and honorary U.S. citizen, served the sick and destitute of India and the world for nearly 50 years," the Postal Service said in a press release. "Her humility and compassion, as well as her respect for the innate worth and dignity of humankind, inspired people of all ages and backgrounds to work on behalf of the world’s poorest populations."

But Freedom from Religion Foundation spokeswoman Annie Laurie Gaylor says issuing the stamp runs against Postal Service regulations.

"Mother Teresa is principally known as a religious figure who ran a religious institution. You can't really separate her being a nun and being a Roman Catholic from everything she did," Gaylor told FoxNews.com.

I thought atheists were all for separating Mother Teresa's actions from her faith - that she was only a "great social worker" and all. That you don't need God to do good. But here, Gaylor links her work directly with her Catholicism. Trying to have it both ways?

And do these folks complain when the US Postal Service issues Christmas stamps that feature the Madonna and Child? Or will they grouse should a stamp commemorating Billy Graham, "America's preacher", ever be issued? And besides, no one will be forced into buying the stamps.

Rather than moan and groan all the time, these people ought to do something more constructive. All this constant whining creates a negative image about their enlightened beliefs. So here's a tip - rather than imagine the spectres of so-called separation of Church and state violations inside every envelope, do something positive for your cause.

Make your own stinkin' stamp!

Go to photo.stamps.com and create a stamp commemorating, oh I don't know, Madalyn Murray O'Hair, perhaps:

Doesn't she just look loverly?

Three simple steps - and you get to show the public who means a lot to you - someone who lived with humility and compassion and showed respect for the innate worth and dignity of humankind...by getting prayer out of schools.

Until then, just Kwitcherbisschen.

For more on this story, check out Curt Jester.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Caption Contest #14


(Click here for previous contest winner)


Leave your captions in the combox!

***Winner, from Sherry Tex: "Whether football, basketball, frisbee or lacross, we specialize in "Hail Mary's.""

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Things Accepted As True

So AGW, which for years we were told was "settled science", has been exposed as a fraud and a hoax.

We were told that there is no connection between breast cancer and abortion. Wrong.

For the longest time, scientists swore that there is no connection between breast cancer and the Pill, too. Again, wrong.

What these things have in common, of course, is money. Abortion and contraception make a lot of money for their peddlers. And climate change schemes like carbon credits and Cap-n-Trade would have made some people a lot richer (just ask AlGore!) if it hadn't been for a hacker.

So it got me thinking? What "settled science" issue will be exposed next? Given the way money has tainted science - at least in these situations - and how politicized science has become, it's not inconceivable that other Things Accepted As True could become the next Piltdown Man. Liberals will use abuse science to advance their causes, regardless of the real harm that will result. Think The Population Bomb. Think spotted owl. Think some endangered fish in California wreaking havoc with farmers' livelihoods. Some of the Things Accepted As True are just feints to control behavior. At least that's how it seems to me.

Here's a few Things Accepted As True I've come up with:

* 50,000+ deaths a year attributable to second-hand smoke.
* The danger of transfats.
* MSG isn't unhealthy.

Add your own to the combox.

The End Of Roe v. Wade?

Last week's Constitution-defending, earth-shattering Supreme Court ruling in the Citizens United v Federal Election Committee suit, where in a 5-4 vote, major provisions of the McCain-Feingold Act were shot down, sent liberals in a tizzy.

Said Sen Chuck Shumer: “We will regret the day this decision has been issued.” He also wants to hold hearings on the court's decision. Where's that in the Constitution? Oh yeah - liberals read things that aren't there, and ignore passages that are. Forgot that for a second.

President Obama said it gave "a green light to a new stampede of special-interest money in our politics," particularly "big oil, Wall Street banks, health-insurance companies and the other powerful interests"....like Big Unions, Big Law, etc. etc. If there's one thing liberals hate, it's a level playing field.

But the bloviating and posturing on the elimination of 'fairness' in elections is just a show. Although the case revolved about the issue of free speech, this ruling was much more than about free speech. The decision may have a direct impact on the so-called right to have an abortion. And that, I believe, is what is causing the liberals' heads to explode. Contributions from corporations and unions don't really bother them, because the liberals are on the receiving end anyway - it's not like they'll be losing anything as a result of the ruling. No - what concerns them is that the way is being paved to strike down the law that permits nearly unfettered access to their most unHoly sacrament - abortion on demand.

From Newsmax.com: Justice Roberts Hints He Could Overturn Roe by Theodore Kettle

Chief Justice John Roberts last week made it clear that the Supreme Court over which he presides will not hesitate to sweep away its own major constitutional rulings when doing so is necessary to defend America’s bedrock governing document.

The announcement of that guiding core principle means two very big things. First, Roberts and his fellow strict constructionists on the court are now armed and ready with a powerful rationale for overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion ruling if Justice Anthony Kennedy or a future justice becomes the fifth vote against Roe.

Secondly, successfully placing Roberts atop the high court is beginning to look like former President George W. Bush’s most important legacy – a gift that will keep on giving for conservatives for decades.

In last Thursday’s 5-to-4 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling dismantling the McCain-Feingold campaign law, Roberts joined with fellow Bush appointee Justice Samuel Alito to issue a separate concurrence “to address the important principles of judicial restraint and stare decisis implicated in this case.”

While Roberts conceded that “departures from precedent are inappropriate in the absence of a ‘special justification,’” he quickly added that “At the same time, stare decisis is neither an ‘inexorable command’… nor ‘a mechanical formula of adherence to the latest decision’ … especially in constitutional cases,” noting that “If it were, segregation would be legal, minimum wage laws would be unconstitutional, and the Government could wiretap ordinary criminal suspects without first obtaining warrants.”

Instead, under the “stare decisis” judicial doctrine of respecting past rulings, “When considering whether to re-examine a prior erroneous holding, we must balance the importance of having constitutional questions decided against the importance of having them decided right.” The chief justice declared: “stare decisis is not an end in itself.”

The ruling on McCain-Feingold was a shot across the bow, and the liberals know that the next round - overturning Roe v. Wade - will be a direct hit. While it's anyone's guess when such a ruling would be made, Chief Justice Roberts is laying the foundation now.

Which only reinforces the fact that the elections really do matter.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sister Patricia: On Christian Unity

(Sister Patricia Owens O'Flannery, OP, a post-modern pre-traditional omni-spiritual Dominican sister, periodically contributes to AoftheA. Today she has something to say concerning the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.)

Hello gentle readers! I'm so dreadfully sorry that my posts are so few and far between! You cannot imagine how busy I have been since New Year's Day - but I promised myself that I would submit a post this week. It's the least I can do for my faithful followers out there. Wow! 113 are now following! If I posted more frequently, I bet that number would double. May Godde and Sophia bless you for your patience and long-suffering - it must be very trying for you, having to endure LarryD's posts while waiting for me to publish something. You are on the way to "sainthood"! (if you believe that kinda stuff)

Last week was the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. You wouldn't know it because LarryD didn't write a single thing about it - he can be so...so...so singular in his thinking! Thankfully I'm going to write about it, so that when it comes around next year, you will be ready for it! And it is such a joyous week!

First a little history: the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity began in 1908 through the cooperation of two Christian ministers, one from America and the other from England. In 1909, the American (Paul Wattson) converted to Catholicism from the Episcopalian denomination, and subsequently developed the erroneous belief that true unity would only be achieved if the other Christian denominations returned to the Catholic Church. I'm guessing that went over like a lead balloon, because in the 1930's, that narrow belief was expanded, by a wonderful, forward-thinking progressive French catholic by the name of Paul Couturier (mmm - French! how delish!). He taught it's better for all to be drawn to Christ and not necessarily convert to the Catholic faith. And ever since then, we have had great success in praying with each other and making each other feel good and special about our different beliefs. If I'm not mistaken, the Second Vatican Council affirmed that view about Christian unity - I'm not really sure, because I've never read all the documents, but that was what I've been told.

You see, dear friends, people like LarryD, who believe in the "Magisterium", and read the "Catechism" and believe in "objective truth" - they're the ones who foment division and strife. Closed-minded attitudes only work to push people away. People aren't interested in hearing someone else's version of the Truth - they want to discover the truth that is within them, and be affirmed in that discovery. That's what the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is all about.

And what a week it is! This year was especially exciting! I am deeply involved with the Interactive Dialogues Incorporating Observant Truths of Inclusive Christians Council - 75 of us gathered to discuss and dialogue and interact and affirm one another. We accomplished so much! For instance, we outlined a rough draft of a proposed statement on the recent invitation of the pope to the TAC to enter the Catholic Church. Once our statement is completed and unanimously approved, it will be sent straight to the Vatican, expressing our disappointment in such a bold, brash, insensitive action, an action which flies in the face of what Christian Unity truly stands for.

I believe, as do many of my Catholic friends, that Christian Unity will only be achieved by following a tried and true method of exhaustive dialogue and discussion. By doing so, the creative powers of Sophia will be unleashed in a spontaneous display of visionary wonderment. And that spontaneous unleashment will only be realized by faithfully following a carefully detailed 31-step process:

1) Call a meeting.
2) Determine who else needs to be included in "the Group" and invite them to the next meeting.
3) Call the next meeting.
4) Determine at the meeting what the purpose of Big Meeting will be about (this usually involves coming up with a catchy phrase, like "Calling Upon The Spirit Within"; or "We Are A New Reality Trapped In An Olde Construct")
5) A meeting is called to select a "Steering Committee"
6) "Steering Committee" meets to establish goals.
7) Goals are presented to "the Group", and then subcommittees are formed.
8) Subcommittees call their meetings.
9) Call a meeting so that subcommittees can report on their meetings to "the Steering Committee".
10) "Steering Committee" meets to compile all the great ideas from the subcommittees.
11) Form a new subcommittee to incorporate all the ideas for the Big Meeting.
12) Schedule a meeting to create felt banner ideas for the Big Meeting.
13) Outline press releases for the National Catholic Reporter, America and Commonweal.
14) Subcommittees meet again to create Action Teams.
15) Action Teams meet to give themselves cool-sounding names, like "Crimes Against Hu-woman-ity"; or "Shake Your Buddha" and come up with great ideas.
16) Action Teams present their cool-sounding names and great ideas to the subcommittees.
17) Subcommittees present the Action Team cool-sounding names and their great ideas to the "Steering Committee".
18) "Steering Committee" gives "the Group" an update on all the Action Team cool-sounding names and great ideas.
19) "The Group" meets to discuss and approve the Action Team cool-sounding names.
20) A meeting is called to repurpose the Big Meeting based on the Action Teams' great ideas.

21) Call a meeting to discuss where and when the Big Meeting will be held. A new subcommittee is formed.

22) Subcommittees meet to review their Action Teams' great ideas and incorporate them into the repurposed Big Meeting.
23) "Steering Committee" meets to plan a weekend retreat for the subcommittee leaders and Action Team members.
24) Weekend retreat.
25) "Steering Committee" calls a meeting to update "the Group" on their weekend retreat.
26) Felt banner ideas are presented to "the Group" and a "Felt Banner Approval Subcommittee" is formed.
27) "Felt Banner Approval Subcommittee" polls "the Group" and all the entries are approved.
28) Call a meeting for all subcommittees to give final reports to the "Steering Committee".
29) "Steering Committee" gives final report to "the Group".
30) Call a meeting for "the Group" to refocus on the purpose of the Big Meeting.
31) Hold the Big Meeting. Everyone is happy, no one's feelings are hurt, and Sophia arrives for the Big Kumbaya moment at the end.

That's how Christian Unity gets done: dialogue, discussions and catchy phrases on felt banners.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Does Obama Like America?

The Anchoress published a great post over the weekend: "What Does Obama Like About America?" I'm re-posting the entire thing here (emphases and links original).

We know all the things the Obama administration dislikes about America: Banks, business, journalists who ask actual questions, investors, entrepreneurs, unintimidated voters, traditional alliances, military tribunals, Gitmo, the private sector, the middle class, cities that are still thriving, or trying not to turn into Detroit, people who make more than federal workers while working within the private sector, George W. Bush, transparency, capitalism and possibly the rights to free speech, the rights to dissent and tea partiers.

Also, in general, he doesn’t seem to like being president, much, and having to do more than look pretty, read the teleprompter spend money and blame Bush.

What does he like about America? As one sycophant in the WH press corp has asked, What “enchants” him? The question is worth asking as Obama seems to be declaring a war against suburbia. 77% of investors think our president is against business. Jobs? I guess we’ll all have to work for the government. It’s the only thing Obama seems to like.

It seems to me that Obama stopped enjoying being president
when the Ft. Hood massacre occurred, and Obama had to focus on something besides domestic legislation. His speech at Ft. Hood was alright, but his initial responses to it were less-than inspiring, and recent reports about the incident are less-than-reassuring. That the Obama government can put out a report on Fr. Hood that does not mention Islam or terrorism communicates that Obama is still very uncomfortable with Ft. Hood

Since that event, Obama has seemed prickly and generally in a bad mood. He looks, increasingly, like a man who wishes it would all just go away. His exposed disconnect is disconcerting, his spending habits are deplorable and his instincts about the war on terror seem, um, undeveloped. Whether it comes to who is and his not prosecuted in a court of law, Obama’s Justice Department is remarkably troubling, as is Obama’s odd suggestion that the Justice Department seems to work independently of him, and he has no control over Eric Holder’s decisions.

I mean, he only hired the guy.

Byron York writes:

It seems like a pretty simple question. Who made the decision to charge Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the accused terrorist arrested for trying to blow up a Northwest Airlines jet on Christmas Day, as an everyday criminal, as opposed to an enemy combatant?

After all, Abdulmutallab was trained by al Qaeda, equipped with an al Qaeda-made bomb, and dispatched by al Qaeda to bring down the airliner and its 278 passengers. Even though the Obama administration has mostly abandoned the term “war on terror,” the president himself has said clearly that the United States is at war with al Qaeda. So who decided to treat Abdulmutallab as a civilian, read him the Miranda warning, and provide him with a government-paid lawyer — giving him the right to remain silent and denying the United States potentially valuable intelligence that might have been gained by a military-style interrogation?

Writes the WaPo:

The Obama administration had three options: It could charge [Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab] in federal court. It could detain him as an enemy belligerent. Or it could hold him for prolonged questioning and later indict him, ensuring that nothing Mr. Abdulmutallab said during questioning was used against him in court.

It is now clear that the administration did not give serious thought to anything but Door No. 1. This was myopic, irresponsible and potentially dangerous.


Ah, that Eric Holder,
the rogue AG who apparently does not communicate with his president!

Obama seems very content to keep his distance from his appointments, his legislators, his allies, and the nation he wants to govern, or at least that is the impression one gets. I am not the only one who thinks that Obama is not much liking being president

Maybe it’s me; maybe I can’t see any Obama speech as a good one these days. But today in Ohio, it seemed like the president was way off his game. But I thought he was defensive, prickly, almost indignant that he’s found himself in the tough spot that he’s in.

He began by talking about how much he didn’t like being in Washington, and apparently said something about the job being stifling. Sir, you spent two years trying to get this job.

One of his rallying cries as, “This is not about me!” Yes, Mr. President, but it’s about the decisions you make and the policies you’re trying to enact.

Now that the glory and adulation have passed, now that the pageant has ended, and the presidency has become a real job, requiring real maturity and a bit of real (not faux) open-mindedness, Obama seems unhappy with most Americans (except the unions) and the feeling of unhappiness and distrust is quite mutual.

Obama is not an optimist; in his incoherence, he cannot passably communicate his love of country (or countrymen) with reliability. He reminds me of Jimmy Carter, with less bitterness but more malaise.

We need better than this, and we deserve better than this. We need a president who seems to understand who Americans are. We need a president who wants to be the president, and not the prince. We need a president who seem to actually like his country.

We need a president who…well…actually…we need a president.

What? Too much? Too over the top? Come on, some people make a very good living by opining in just that way!

Her commentary got me thinking that question - what does Obama like about America? Along with her rather extensive list of things he dislikes, we can add that Obama holds gun owners and "Bible-clingers" in disdain. He's opposed to 52% of the Massachusetts electorate. He more than likely doesn't like the CRU Climategate hacker (whether that person is American or not). Pro-lifers aren't on his Christmas card list, and Big Oil (Big Anything, actually, except for the unions) doesn't make him all that happy. And the Supreme Court doesn't give him a warm fuzzy, either, in light of their recent decision on McCain-Feingold.

So does that leave anything? I have to think he likes living in a nation where enough people were duped in order to get him elected, so that he can effect the transformation he so strongly desires. Perhaps what he likes is that he has the opportunity to turn America into a bigger Venezuela.

And should the opposition to his policies and programs and proposals continue to grow, I fear that his commitment to those things will harden and he and his administration will dig in their heels. I doubt he will moderate to more centrist positions a la Clinton after the 1994 midterm elections. It doesn't seem to suit his personality. But time will tell - this will be an interesting election season.

So how about you? Can you think of anything that Obama likes about America?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Marks Of False Prophets


"Let us recall the marks of these false prophets. He is a false prophet who denies original sin and mankind's need of redemption and thereby undermines the meaning of Christ's death on the Cross. He is not a true Christian who no longer sees that redemption of the world through Christ is the source of true happiness and that nothing can be compared to this one glorious fact.

"He is a false prophet who no longer accepts the absolute primacy of the first commandment of Christ - to love God above all things - and who claims that our love of God can manifest itself exclusively in our love of neighbor. He is a false prophet who no longer understands that to long for the I-Thou union with Christ and for transformation in Christ is the very meaning of our life. He is a false prophet who claims that morality reveals itself not primarily in man's relationship with God, but in those things that concern human welfare. And he has fallen prey to the teaching of false prophets who only sees in the wrong done our neighbor our injury to him and remains blind to the offense against God that this wrong implies.

"He who no longer sees the radical difference that exists between charity and humanitarian benevolence has become deaf to the message of Christ.

"He who is more impressed and thrilled by 'cosmic processes', 'evolution', and the speculations of science than by the reflection of Christ's Sacred Humanity in a saint and by the victory over the world that the very existence of a saint embodies, is no longer filled with the Christian spirit. He who cares more for the earthly welfare of humanity than for its sanctification has lost the Christian view of the universe.

"Beware of false prophets who ignore the repeated warnings of our Holy Father, Pope Paul VI, as well as the Holy See's clear formulation of the various heresies and misconceptions pervading the world today. Beware of those who try to drown the voice of the Vicar of Christ in noisy propaganda."

- from the epilogue of Dietrich von Hildebrand's "Trojan Horse in the City of God" (1967), written as a warning against the "spirit of Vatican II". It was widely ignored.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Tough Last Day On The Job

One day, at Headquarters....

"Hey."
"Hi, how ya doing?"
"Eh." He poured himself a cup of coffee and stared into the swirling steaming brew.
"One of those days, huh?"
A brief sip. "The roughest."
"This day usually is. I take it yours didn't fare so well."
"You could say that again. You know, you work hard every day of your life, faithfully obeying every command, and then when it's all over, it's like....wham! And for what?"
"I can imagine. Remember, though, it's not your fault. You want a doughnut with that? They're fresh."
A half-smirk. "They're always fresh, wise guy. But sure, I'll have one. Any powdered sugar ones left?"
A quick glance in the box resting on the table. "No - Michael was here earlier and took the last one....oops, wait a sec. One just appeared."
They sat down at the polished chrome and glass table, silently pulling their chairs in across the gilded floor. The newcomer carefully picked out his preference and placed it on a china plate.
"Wanna talk about it?"
He nodded while taking a bite of doughnut and a swallow of coffee. "I have a few minutes before my briefing with the head office." He heaved a sigh. "But it is what it is, and I can't change it."
"Exactly."
"Were you ever in The Force?"
The other one shook his head. "No. I'm in Public Relations."
"Really? That's Gabriel's department, isn't it?"
"Yep. Just biding my time until needed." He jerked a thumb towards his chest. "Third trumpet."
"Oooh, nice."
"Well, depends on your point of view. It won't be for a lot of people. But hey," he said, gently putting his hand on the other's arm, "tell me what happened."
"Okay. Today was "the day" - and I'm doing my best, pleading my case, defending my client, making a case for all the good he did. But it was all for nought. My client was cowering and trying to escape the light - like he's allergic to it or something. It was over even before it began."
"What about his accuser. Was he there?"
"Oh yeah - couldn't see him, as he kept to the shadows. But he was there. For every defense I offered, he replied with seven offenses. And all the time, my client was being drawn to him. Trying to become shadow. And then...he was gone." He finished his coffee, and drained the remainder of his coffee. "For seventy-three years I stood by that man's side, tried to give him good counsel, kept him as safe as I was allowed to. Not once did he ever talk to me, ask me for help or acknowledge my existence."
"And yet?"
"And yet, I mourn his loss. Oh, not for any sentimental reason - I mourn because of what he surrendered, on what he squandered. He had every opportunity to embrace the generous offer, and yet he constantly turned his back. On me - but most importantly, on Him."
"You feel rejected."
"A little. Nothing like the rejection He felt - not even close! So maybe I'm disappointed a bit. A little self-pity perhaps. The idea was to remain together forever, you know? A big mansion, with lots of rooms and all, but my client had to go and throw it all away. I know a lot of my friends will enjoy that - many enjoy that experience right now -the companionship, I mean. And many more will experience it later. But not me."
"You're not the only one, you know."
"I know, I know. Still, it kinda stings. I feel like I'm in limbo."
"There is no Limbo."
He made a face at his companion's comment, who returned with a broad smile.
"Just kidding - a little binding and loosing humor there."
"So now I have to go to the head office for my review. What happens next? Do you know?"
A slight shrug of the shoulders. "You just have to hang loose until the end. Word is, is that on R Day, you get sent back to escort him to the valley of Jehosophat. After that, only He knows. Eye has not seen and ear has not heard and all that."
"Yeah, I know. Still - I'm just wondering what I'm going to do in the meantime. I'm not going to get reassigned. My days in The Force are all but over."
"Listen, this might not make you feel any better, but think about this. Thousands upon thousands come through here every day - some come back without even having had the chance to do what they were ordained to do because their client never got the chance to live their life. Imagine how they must feel. I guess what I'm trying to say is that you're not alone."
"So what are you saying? There's an ex-Guardian club and I'm the newest member?"
"No, nothing like that. Have faith. He knows what's He's doing - He's got a plan. He knew from before Time itself that this was going to happen to you, and I'm sure He still has work for you to do. What it is, I don't know. Believe me, you won't be bored."
His companion stood up, flexed his wings, and extended his hand. The other took it and shook it warmly. "I got to get to the head office. Thanks for talking."
"No problem. Oh, and rinse out your mug, will ya? Your mother doesn't live here." Pause, with a half-smile. "You know what I mean."

Christ said all the angels of heaven rejoice at the conversion of one sinner. So it got me wondering - how would a guardian angel feel if the soul he's been assigned to guide has been condemned to Hell? And what happens afterward - what role would they have in heaven ? As far as I know, the Church hasn't taught anything on this. Just curious thoughts about the hereafter...

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Church Needs Its Own Mandela

Whenever I need a laugh, I'm turning more and more to the National Catholic Distorter, and in particular, Richard McBrien's columns. This week he really delivers.

What Effective Leadership Looks Like

Clint Eastwood's latest film, "Invictus" (Latin, "Unconquered"), stars Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela, the former president of South Africa who served 27 years as a political prisoner in that country, and Matt Damon as Francois Pienaar, the captain of the national rugby team that Mandela used -- successfully -- as a means to bring the racially divided nation together.

During his long years of incarceration, Mandela studied his Afrikaner enemies, not only learning their language but understanding the role that sports, especially rugby, played in their psyche.

My site was nominated for Best Religion Blog!

Their national team, known as Springbok, was beloved by the whites and despised by the black population, to whom it had become a symbol of their oppression by the Afrikaner government. When Mandela's supporters (modern political terminology would call them his "base") demanded that the team be dismantled, renamed, and their colors and logo banned, Mandela balked, against the advice of some of his closest black advisers.

The bulk of the piece covers the film, not a review as such, but describing the historical events following Mandela's election and how he worked to unite his country. I'm not going to post those bits here - just the last few paragraphs.

The Catholic church (and other churches and ecclesial communities within the body of Christ) is in the midst of a period of internal tensions and divisions. What the Catholic church needs now, more than ever, is the kind of enlightened, unifying leadership that was exhibited so powerfully by Mandela, and to a lesser extent by Pienaar.

Instead, too many of our bishops -- although certainly not the majority -- function in ways that are directly opposed to Mandela's example.

The names of these high-profile bishops are known to anyone who is more than casually aware of Catholic developments.

These bishops trade in recrimination and self-righteous moralizing, looking upon Catholics, especially those in public office, who don't agree 100 percent with their particular approach to pastoral issues as "bad Catholics," who should not receive Communion and who should even think seriously of leaving the church. As if the third of Catholics who have already left the church isn't enough.

Unfortunately, the Vatican itself has also exercised a form of leadership that is directly opposed to Mandela's. The current "visitation" (read: "investigation") of communities of religious women in the United States, and the "doctrinal assessment" (read: "harassment") of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which represents 95 percent of these communities, are the most dramatic cases in point.

If Mandela had followed the example of the Vatican or that of many of our bishops, South Africa would still be a divided nation today, with blacks and whites at each others' throats.

Okay, first of all ......hahahahahahahaha......haha....*sigh*.....hahahahaha.....now that that's out of the way...

Here's really what McBrien's saying: when it's time to elect a new pope, what the Church needs most is someone who will compromise on Truth, ignore teachings on faith and morals, and treat the Church as a purely political, man-made, secular organization. Because, after all, that is what Christ intended to found.

So in order to do that, the next pope, using McBrien's logic, would have to be someone who has been cast out, imprisoned in the Excommunication Penitentiary and subsequently freed.

Be careful what you wish you, Dick - that describes Bishop Fellay of the SSPX!

Here's the thing. The Church has always been divided - why? Because we are all sinners! Sin will always divide - even the definitions of what constitutes a sin has become divisive. In his mind, there would be much greater unity if contraception was no longer declared a sin. Homosexual acts? Think of the unity if they were blessed rather than condemned. Divorce and remarriage? Why, people would be so much happier if the proscriptions were removed. Women priests? Holy moley, there would be jubilation in St Peter's Square from now until eternity! Think of the unity!!

Uh, no. Fortunately, there is such a thing as Objective Truth, which people like McBrien, well, object to.

There have been schisms and battles over heresies. The Church has survived the Arian heresy, the Great Schism in the 11th century, the Protestant Reformation. She has survived world wars, epidemics, earthquakes and invasions. She has outlived good popes and bad popes, faithful bishops and conniving bishops. And She will outlast renegade priest essayists and snarky steadfast bloggers, too.

And long after all of us are gone, the Church will continue to survive, until Christ returns. To use Mandela as an example of effective leadership is to seek inspiration from a fallen creature. Sure, his story is compelling, and his tactics are interesting - from a purely political perspective. But this is the Church being discussed, not a nation. Christ is the Effective Leader par excellence - and the captain of His 'rugby' team is the Holy Father.

The Church is not purely political. It is first and foremost spiritual, created to save souls. People like McBrien make the Church political because they have an ideological axe to grind, not due to grand ideals of fairness and equity. It's simply because they want things their way.

And there's a simple solution to his problem: join a different rugby team.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Little Prayer

Blessed Pope John Paul II, you exhorted us to meditate on the Face of Christ. Through your intercession, please help me to meditate on an image, any image, other than this one:



In Christ's name, I beg you!!

Amen

p.s. It's all the Crescat's fault. Amen

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Peace In The Midst Of Battle

Man has a twofold nature, the one superior, the other inferior. The first is generally termed reason, the second is called appetite, sensuality or passion. Reason is the distinguishing property of man, and he is not considered responsible for the primary impulses of his appetite unless his superior faculty confirms the choice.

The entire spiritual warfare, consequently, consists in this: the rational faculty is placed between the divine will above it and the sensitive appetite below it, and is attacked from both sides - God moving it by His grace, and the flesh by its appetites strive for victory.

It is apparent, then, that inconceivable difficulties arise when persons who during their youth have contracted vicious habits resolve to change their life, mortify their passions, and break with the world in order to devote themselves to the service of God.

The will is violently attacked by divine grace and by its own sensual appetites, and wherever it turns, it absorbs these withering attacks with the greatest difficulty.

This onslaught is not experienced by those who are settled in their way of life, whether in virtue by conforming to the will of God, or in vice by indulging their sensual desires.

(The opening to Chapter 12, "The Opposition Within Man's Twofold Nature", from
The Spiritual Combat by Dom Lorenzo Scupoli)

So many people - they sit next to us in the pews, or work in the next cubicle, or live in our neighborhoods - even members of our families -they're unaware of the spiritual combat that exists. They're operating on auto-pilot, directed about by their feelings, never quite sure of the Reality but somewhat cognizant of it nonetheless. Unsettled and agitated, they presume their feelings are the full measure of their happiness - "if I feel good, then I am good". But it's not about feeling good, it's about being good - and that comes from the will.

I guess I'm one of these disaffected, lapsed Catholics.

I wish I could tell you the one good reason that I don't come back, but I can't. Only that I feel as if I don't fit anymore with whatever is going on in the Church.

I am still spiritual. I still pray. Sometimes I still call myself "Catholic", because in some strange way, I still feel Catholic.

But whenever I consider becoming again a practicing Catholic, it feels too much like I'm joining a club, or political party, or an argument. Or that I am faking piety.

(from the comments section of the NCR, in response to Rev McBrien's article Disaffected Catholics And 'Bad' Catholics)

It's none of those things - neither a club, nor an ideology, nor an argument. Being Catholic means to be in battle - with oneself. Yet so many people don't know. They don't fight the battle because they don't know. Or they avoid it because it is difficult. Or maybe some have given up, who can really tell. Many don't know because it isn't preached about. Maybe they think it's an old-fashioned Catholic sentiment. One thing I do know - it is the only battle worth fighting. It is a battle for holiness.

Charity requires we don't judge, but to show mercy. Compassion. We can't read the recesses of their souls - reserved for God alone - so we ought to err on the side of charity and presume their ignorance. For many years, I was ignorant of the battle. But no more. As difficult as it can be at times, when it seems that all the forces of Hell are conspiring to overwhelm me - I mustn't give up the fight. Because that is the time that God reveals Himself in His greatest glory and strength. God does not allow me to be tempted beyond my ability to resist - with His grace. So - I stand in the breach and, by His grace, I do not desert.

So many don't know that. They're mired in their unhappiness and lack of fulfillment because they are ignorant. Perhaps they don't consider the supernatural as a reality. Or they've given up. Or they've listened to the world, and the world has lied to them. There are those in the world who, for whatever reason or feeling, are compelled to advise others to lay down and cease battling.

Humanity is a creature of sense perception and the most defining sense is not vision, but touch. Why else material reality if not for the expression of the sense of touch. This truth is precisely why feeling transcends thinking. It is why we must get our thinking in line with what we feel. When we feel something is right and whole, this is not just an emotional response, it is an integrated sense perceptual response felt through out the body. Though this feeling may be described by the dominant sense of how we learn when we say things like "I see what you're getting at" or "I hear what you're saying". It is still a total body sensation. Our whole body will react.

(from the blog "Enlightened Catholicism". Add "http://" to "enlightenedcatholicism-colkoch.blogspot.com" if you want to go there.)

The great paradox is that their happiness and fulfillment - the true peace that only Christ can provide - would be restored if they took up arms, stood their ground, and fought. And one by one, together, as we fight our battles side by side, through mutual support and fervent prayer, we will carve out a little place on God's green earth that will be a sign of contradiction, and perhaps others will be inspired to seek the peace we have - peace in the midst of battle.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Another Piece Of Americana Gets Trashed

*Sigh*

The gay activists are at it again - taking a wholesome thing and perverting it into something twisted and gross. Late last year, a homosexual playwright produced a one-man show on a gay Santa Claus (blogged about here).

Now it's been done to Charlie Brown.

From WND: Good Grief! You're "Gay", Charlie Brown!"

For the millions of fans who daily followed the "Peanuts" cartoon by the late Charles Schulz, the "Charlie Brown Christmas" television special and the musical "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown," a New York playhouse organization is working

on a stunner that portrays the characters as homosexuals.

Members of the Actor's Workshop in Ithaca, N.Y., are scheduled to be on stage at the Risley Theater this weekend with "Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenaged Blockhead," which is described as a "parody" in hope of avoiding legal entanglements with the owners of the rights to the images of Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy and the rest of the crew.

The workshop describes the play as "powerful" and says it "explores the real pressures teenagers in this country face when they refuse to follow the pack, and the consequences for those who do follow the pack."

"This play is ultimately about being different and specifically what it is to be a gay high-schooler in America," the workshop said. "We're proud that our first production of this kind will address issues that effect (sic) so many young teenagers across this country."

The play is described as being a "hit" at the New York International Fringe Festival with honors from homosexual activist groups.

A resurrection of the dead would be great right about now so that Charles Schultz can come back and kick this workshop in the collective butt. Read how the iconic characters are "updated":

The production, staged with actors as young as 17, also includes "CB's sister," Sally, who has gone "goth;" "Van" in the role of Linus, now a pothead; "Beethoven," as Schroeder, an outcast because of sexual abuse by his father; the partying pair of Peppermint Patty and Marcy; "Matt," as Pig-Pen who now is a neat-freak; and "Van's Sister," who as Lucy has been institutionalized.

Wow - what a cynical depressing outlook these folks have on teenagers! Linus as a pothead? The one who enlightened Charlie Brown about the true meaning of Christmas? How stupid that no one turns out normal - I bet Pig-Pen is portrayed as OCD or something. Peppermint Patty and Marcy end up as partying lesbians? (don't doubt that for a second!) And what about Franklin? What, are these folks closet racists? They couldn't find a role for a black actor?

All this play is, is pure projection. The creators see nothing hopeful, good, beautiful or true in their own lives, and they want the whole world to know it. And when the play gets rave reviews from people sympathetic to their point of view, voila! Instant validation! It's quite pitiful, actually.

In the way-back-long-timey-ago, my high school's Drama Club put on "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown", and as a writer for the school newspaper, I drew the assignment to review the performance. From what I remember, it was pretty good. One line I wrote was: "Charlie is an ordinary kid surrounded by extra-ordinary characters and circumstances." I doubt I would say the same if I were to witness this version. In fact, I wouldn't waste time or money on seeing it anyway.

I shudder to think what will happen to The Family Circus characters once Bil Keane dies. Sheesh.

s/s to Pewsitter

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Weekend Wisecrack

If Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank and Harry Reid were on a sinking boat in the middle of the ocean, who would be saved?
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America!!

Age Of Dissent

Came across this opinion piece at the Wall Street Journal, written back on January 14.

Mary Daly and the Flickering Flame of Catholic Dissent by Charlotte Allen

Mary Daly, a retired professor at Boston College who was probably the most outré of all the dissident theologians who came to the fore of Catholic intellectual life in the years right after the Second Vatican Council, died on Jan. 3 at age 81. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, which might be called the golden age of Catholic dissidence, theologians who took positions challenging traditional church teachings—ranging from the authority of the pope to bans on birth control, premarital sex, and women's ordination—dominated Catholic intellectual life in America and Europe. They seemed to represent a tide that would overwhelm the old restrictions and their hidebound adherents.

Now, 45 years after Vatican II concluded in 1965, most of those bright lights of dissident Catholicism—from the theologian Hans Küng of the University of Tübingen to Charles Curran, the priest dismissed from the Catholic University of America's theology faculty in 1987 for his advocacy of contraception and acceptance of homosexual relationships—seem dimmed with advanced age, if not extinguished. They have left no coherent second generation of dissident Catholic intellectuals to follow them.

And thanks be to God for that! The more notable 2nd generation groupies - such as the Sour Patch Kids at the Call-to-Action blog 'Young Adult Catholics' and the 'Young Voices' column at the National Catholic Distorter - make about as much sense as Inspector Clouseau with a mouthful of peanut butter in a wind tunnel. And that's on a good day. Not only that, because they are such faithful dissenters, cheerfully following their consciences and using artificial contraception and advocating homosexual lifestyles, they aren't reproducing either.

Here's how Allen puts it: So where is the second generation of brilliant progressive Catholic theologians? There are plenty of liberal lay Catholics. The church's ban on artificial birth control is nearly a dead letter, a majority of Catholics say they believe their church should ordain women, and 40% have no moral objections to abortion, according to a 2009 Gallup poll. But dissident Catholicism seems to have lost steam as an intellectual movement, and not only because the issues relating to sex and papal authority that originally sparked Catholic dissidents have not changed in nearly 50 years.

I contend that her dissenting heroes are neither brilliant nor Catholic. And I challenge her assertion that dissident Catholicism is an intellectual movement - it has nothing to do with intellect and all to do with selfishness and unbridled passion. Sure, they sound smart, and they can probably talk circles around me in theological issues, but that doesn't mean they're smart. It just means they can make lies sound plausible - and besides, is dissenting from the truth really all that intelligent, when one's salvation is at stake?

Allen seems quite saddened regarding the state of Catholic dissent. She mentions that Küng and Curran are...well, let's put it this way: in life were a liturgy, they'd be singing the final verse of the recessional hymn. And they're not alone, either. Here's a quick list of some other leading dissenters:

  • Rev Richard McBrien - born in 1936
  • Sr Joan Chittister - 1936
  • Bishop Gumbleton - 1930
  • Roy Bourgeois - 1938
  • Leonard Swidler (founder of ARCC) - 1929
  • Robert Blair Kaiser (proponent of American Catholic Council) - 1930
As these folks pass away, their legacy will live on in the memories of their devotees, but they will be forgotten by the faithful. Kind of like Arius. They'll be studied in theology classes along with all the other heretics. But long-lasting influence? Perhaps in some eternal sort of way, but a generation from now, they'll be beyond memory.

Does anyone remember the dissenters from the early 20th century?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Park It Right There, Mister!

It happens at nearly every Mass I've ever attended - people leaving immediately after Communion. I admit that occasions and situations exist where it's unavoidable or necessary - so I do my best to not judge those who leave early. I heard one priest say "Boy, I didn't realize my parish had so many brain surgeons!"

Still - it's an observable fact - people do skip out before the final blessing for a host of excusesreasons. And it's frustrating to the priests because of the fact they do miss the final blessing. And for what? To avoid a traffic jam? A pressing tee time? Run some errands? Oops - I said I do my best to not judge. I know!

So when I saw the following article in The Michigan Catholic, the paper of the Archdiocese of Detroit, I smiled. Seems that at least one priest is trying to stem the premature exodus. And is succeeding.

A Church's Parting Shot

MOUNT CLEMENS – Some people still take off right after Communion at St. Peter Church, but not as many now that they have to walk under signs that read "Judas left early too."

Fr. Cooney says putting the signs up at each of the three exits was "a bit of Irish diplomacy" aimed at addressing a long-standing source of frustration for many Catholic priests: people who leave Mass early, rather than staying for the dismissal.

Perhaps one of the reasons the signs had a positive effect is that he introduced them with humor, rather than scolding the congregation, he believes.

"Like all Catholic churches, immediately after Communion we experienced a great leaving, of people heading right out the door. So, about a year ago, I was preaching about what I called the phenomenon of Catholic CEOs – those who come to Mass at Christmas and Easter only, and that got people laughing," Fr. Cooney recalls.

"Then, I told them I also wanted to talk about another problem, and showed them one of the signs," he says.

While regular Mass-goers knew they weren't among the CEO Catholics, many no doubt realized the "Judas left early too" sign applied to them.

"It did have an effect. And I think seeing it makes people stop and think," Fr. Cooney says.

And here's the money quote from the article: "...it hasn't just been the banner that has reduced the problem ... but constant education from the pulpit – not just about not leaving early, but about respect for the Blessed Sacrament in general." (emphases mine)

I would have said "reverence" rather than "respect", but the point remains: we're in the presence of Jesus Christ. This isn't like heading out of a movie theatre during the final credits, or exiting a stadium during the fourth quarter and the game outcome resolved. The Mass is not entertainment (although there are many church-goers who treat it as such). Christ is not even reposed in the tabernacle yet, and people are heading out the door. As the above quote demonstrates, tte behavior shows more of a lack of proper catechesis than of a profound disrespect for Christ, imho. I applaud the efforts this priest and others are making to teach their congregations.

The article is significant for another reason - I doubt it would have been published prior to Archbishop Vigneron's appointment.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Bring 'Em On!!

How Many 90 Year Olds Could You Take in a Fight?

If Obamacare passes, this is going to be necessary. It will be every man for himself! Mark my words!

Prayer Fail

God answers prayers in three ways: Yes; Not now; No, this is not good for you.

I wonder how the following will be answered (From the website of Futile Church...I mean FutureChurch) - - -

Novena to the Holy Spirit for an Inclusive Priesthood
to be prayed on the first Friday of every month

during the Church’s Year for Priests

Holy Spirit, I believe in your work among us and within us.

I come to you committed to the full expression of the Gospel through the work of the Church. I am saddened by the lack of priests to provide the Eucharist, the Bread of Life, especially in the developing world. I am one of many who hunger for an inclusive priesthood that allows all who are so called to discern ministry to the People of God as a deacon or a priest.

I ask your grace and intercession:

O Holy Spirit, may the fire of your love renew priests all over the world in love and service to the People of God.

O Holy Spirit, let our Church celebrate the gift of celibacy as a powerful grace and yet recognize that it is not given to all called to the ministerial priesthood. We pray for the day that both celibate and married priests serve you through the sacrament of Holy Orders.

O Holy Spirit, let our Church celebrate the powerful expression of love and commitment that is the gift of marriage, a gift that can only enhance the ministerial priesthood for those so called.

O Holy Spirit, continue gifting Catholic women with love, service, and trust that their faithful perseverance will one day lead to structures that mirror their full baptismal equality in the Catholic Church.

O Holy Spirit, open the hearts and ears of our bishops and our Pope to support and encourage the diaconal and presbyteral calls of both married and celibate Catholics.

O Holy Spirit, I bring to you my love and concern for the worldwide Church and ask for your guidance as we move ever closer to the reign of God where all have a place at the table of God.

Amen.

Some of the petitions could be answered - such as the first one (fire of the Holy Spirit's love to renew the priests) - actually, that would probably be the only one. I think they might have better success milking a ram than having the other parts answered. But that's just me.

My site was nominated for Best Religion Blog!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Convergence

There are no coincidences. God allows - as well as ordains - events to occur in an order and fashion that manifests His presence, and while making sense of it all may forever remain beyond our competence, it is our faith and hope in Him that sustains us. Within the micro and macro circumstances that transpire, God's hand can be seen moving amongst them in ways our comprehension barely perceives. It is when the greater context is contemplated, some semblance of purpose can be observed.

Tuesday, on the day of the Haiti earthquake, I got a call from my mother.

"Your father's kidney's are failing," she said. "They're at 80% efficiency now, and he's decided to forgo dialysis. The doctor says he has 9-18 months."

Whoa.

So we talked. Prepping for dialysis, she said, would be a long complicated process, with the end result being a 24-month prognosis. Three times a week of going to the hospital. So my dad had said 'forget it' - he's not a quitter, but I think once you reach 83-1/2 years, and you've been living with diabetes for umpteen years, had a quadruple bypass five or six years ago, and numerous trips to the emergency room the past eighteen months - I think he's plum wore out. The way he figures, if dialysis is only going to give an extra year at best, and it won't make him feel better, then how is that an improvement?

And I don't blame him. Mom and I talked some more, about this, that and the other. I wasn't planning on going back to Rochester this year, but now we will, once school is out.

Years ago, when my dad was in the hospital recovering from his bypass, I went to Rochester on my own to spend time with him and my mom. Dad was never much of a small-talker, but we chatted on and off, about Mrs LarryD and the Sons, about work, about golf, about stuff. And sitting there, watching him nap, it struck me with utmost clarity, that someday Dad was not going to be around. It's a given that no one lives forever, but at the same time, it isn't something pleasant to think about. Death always seems to be an abstract thing, a subject politely not discussed in company. As Catholics, though, we believe that it is not the end, but the transition to a greater reality. It's the stamp on our passport to our true home. It's our "Get Out Of Jail" card - and by God's grace, we then enjoy perfect freedom eternally. So talking about death ought to be as natural as talking about the weather, or school, or what's on sale at Kohl's. In fact, it ought to be more natural - because it's the natural thing that will eventually happen to all of us.

Looking back, the time spent with him in the hospital prepared me for yesterday's phone call. The news was sobering, but not shattering. I think, in a way, he's been preparing himself for the inevitability of these final months.

But at the time, there in the ICU, my dad and I didn't talk about death. I mean, there is a time and a place for all things, after all. But I did take the time to say one thing to him. He had just eaten his dinner, and it was still just the two of us.

"Dad," I said, "if I was twice the husband and father that I am now, I'd still be half the husband and father that you were. And still are."

He looked at me, processed what I said, gave a little smile, the kind that says 'I have to say something funny or else I'll tear up' and said weakly, "That's a compliment, right?"

And I squeezed his hand. "Damn straight."

And that's all that needed to be said. I'm glad I said that then, because I didn't know if the opportunity would present itself again. It's given me peace down through the years - that I won't have lifelong regrets of not telling my dad what he means to me, and how I still look up to him.

That's the micro circumstance. Compared to the complete and utter devastation experienced in Haiti as a result of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake, my family's situation is minor. My dad, after all, is still alive. The same can not be said for countless fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters. So many are dead, it's nearly inconceivable. And I'm sure my dad is praying harder for the perished and the wounded and the homeless than he is for himself. As any committed Catholic ought to be.

The abject suffering and misery is incalculable. Those who have so little, have now lost the little that they had. The losses are staggering, and puts into perspective how deeply blessed we are as a nation. Now is the time for those of us who profess a love of Christ to exhibit it, however we are able. In a way, Christ is asking us to put up or shut up. "Whatsoever you do to the least of my brethren, so you do unto me."

But my point is not to make fatuous comparisons. In fact, it's more of an observation than a point. It hearkens to the concept of convergence. It's as if God is saying to me - "I am your sustenance. I am your Rock. I am." In due time, my father will be gone, but I will still have a Father. And in the throes and rattling of the very earth, it is God who remains steadfast and unshakable. Regardless of the circumstances - whether they are micro or macro - God remains. God is and ever shall be. God revealed to me something of His being, quite definitively.

And I would have missed it had it not been for another experience over the weekend.

This past Saturday I attended a men's conference at our parish. A local priest - one whom I've written on in this blog before, Fr John Riccardo - spoke to us about courage and fear. Much of the talk was an exegesis on Matthew 8:23-27:

23And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him.
24And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the
boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep.
25And they went and woke him, saying, "Save, Lord, we are perishing."
26And he said to them, "Why are you afraid, O men of little faith?"
Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.
27And the men marveled, saying, "What sort of man is this, that even winds
and sea obey him?"

One of the points that Fr John made was this: Being a disciple of Christ does not mean that we will be exempt from experiencing storms and tempests and trials and tribulations. In fact, it will most certainly mean that we will experience more than if we had never followed Him in the first place - and he went on to describe several martyrs, St Maximillian Kolbe in particular.

Christ got in the boat first, and the disciples followed him. If they had stayed on the shore, they wouldn't have gone through the storm. And if they had gotten in a different boat, then they wouldn't have had Christ there to save them.

There are a lot of boats in the marina. You got the Dawkins Dinghy, the Pagan Paddleboat, the Hedonist Hydrofoil, the Lukewarm Liner, the Foolhardy Ferry and countless others. We have to choose wisely - such as the Barque of St Peter! - and follow Christ into the boat. To be Catholic in this day and age -authentically Catholic - will mean without a doubt storms and trials.

And when those storms come - micro or macro - I know I want to be in Jesus' boat. Even if he's sleeping (and there are times when it seems that He's abandoned ship during some of life's storms, right?), because when He's there, the power of God is at hand. He may not calm the seas every time - in fact, he may never calm them - but we can possess the peace only He can offer so that we can weather the storms of life.

These events over the past several days have converged for me in a way that only God could have planned. I am not saying that God permitted the earthquake to happen to send me a personal message! I don't want to give that impression whatsoever! What I am saying, is that for me, within the context of the micro circumstances applicable to my life, I gleaned something of God's providence and power. He is in control, even when it seems that events are out of control. I am filled with a peace and consolation that, despite everything, remains bright and resolute.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

No Contest

10 Reasons To Be Discouraged (in no particular order):

1. The economy.
2. The incremental increase of Socialism in America.
3. Terrorism.
4. The advance of the homosexual agenda.
5. The continued de-Christianization of Europe.
6. The anti-Catholic bias of the Obama administration.
7. Abortion.
8. Embryonic stem-cell research.
9. The creeping progress of euthanasia.
10. The dismantling of traditional marriage.

1+ Reason to Remain Encouraged:

Jesus Christ and the Holy Catholic Church.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Head-scratchin' Headline

At first I thought it was a joke. Then when I remembered it was posted at USCatholic.org, I realized it was serious.

Great Achievements of Vatican II: Liturgical Music by Brian Cones

It still sounds funny when I say it!

Here's part of the article:

One of the favorite punching bags of those who don't like post-conciliar liturgy is the music. Most recent is this throwaway from Michael Sean Winters on America's blog:

"Much of the music written for the post-conciliar liturgy is unbeautiful and pedestrian in the extreme."

Seriously? Can we dismiss the efforts of our sisters and brothers so flippanty? (sic) I am quite frankly shocked any Catholic would so poorly judge the faith-inspired efforts of so many dedicated Catholics with such an extreme overstatement. Sure, there has been bad music written since Vatican II, and I'm sure everyone has their favorite straw man song. But there was a lot of garbage written well before that, too, it just got consigned to the big a long time ago, and even lyrics that have survived have dubious theological value. (Try the Dies irae.(sic))

What everyone, Winters included, forgets is that music for the "new" liturgy, following the directives of the liturgy constitution, made the "full, conscious, and active participation of the faithful" the first priority. The admittedly beautful (sic) music of the baroque period was never meant to be sung by the assembly; it was music for professionals, written for a liturgy done by "professionals." It's apples and oranges.

I actually agree with Winters on this one, which is saying something. For example - this year during Advent, at the Masses I had attended at one particular parish, the music director had adapted the Memorial Acclamation, the Great Amen and the Lamb of God to the melody of a Christmas carol (I can't for the life of me remember which one - I obviously wanted to forget, and I did!). Even though it was a religious carol and not a secular one, it still sounded...kitschy. Inappropriate and grating.

Which to me describes much of the post-Vat II music. Insipid and uninspiring.

Cones' feigned outrage ("I am quite frankly shocked any Catholic would so poorly judge the faith-inspired efforts of so many dedicated Catholics with such an extreme overstatement.") is a bit overboard. Today's liturgical music production industry is a money-making scheme that will never ever need a government bailout. The fact that some churchgoers get spiritually uplifted from some of the songs is more the exception than the rule. The intention of today's music is to get people involved in a horizontal direction - doing stuff with other people during Mass - and not vertical - lifting one's soul to God and seeking the higher and the better.

To me, a prime example of this are the one or two hymns inflicted during Communion. Quiet, introspective reflection prior to receiving the Eucharist rather than belting out "One Bread, One Body" would seem to lead to greater communion with our Lord. Same thing for after reception - singing a second hymn lends more to joining in with others than deeply uniting oneself with Jesus. Who is within us at that very moment! I'm not saying that music during Communion is wrong or bad - but it ought to be more of the accompaniment variety than the exterior participation type. It ought to help us focus on Jesus Christ and His presence within us at that moment during the liturgy. Singing "I Am The Bread Of Life" (which pretty such sums up the vapidity of most post-Vat II music - Jesus is the Bread of Life, not me or you or anybody else!) pretty much obliterates that focus.

One person left a comment at Cones' post that sums it up rather nicely:

What everyone also forgets is that active participation in the music of the new liturgy doesn't have to mean the congregation singing everything either. One who meditates while listening to a well-prepared, difficult choral piece during Mass participates just as actively as one who attentively listens during the readings. It just takes more work to actively participate this way, and I think that's why many people dislike it: it's easier to sing a setting of the Gloria out of rote and say you've participated than it is to hear the choir sing it by themselves and join your own hearts with theirs.

That's the kind of active participation the Council fathers advocated and intended. I doubt many of them would qualify today's music as a great achievement of Vatican II. Quite the opposite, in my humble opinion.

The 2010 Winter Games

In one month's time, the world will turn its attention to Vancouver, British Columbia as athletes from across the globe will gather to participate in competition, promoting goodwill and celebrating our common humanity. The days will be filled with drama and excitement. Years of sacrifice and hard work culminate at this time....

....yes, it's the 2010 Winter Games: The Progressive Catholympics. Where everyone's a winner!!The United States is expected to give a good showing at the Winter Games, fielding a strong and well-balanced team. AoftheA had the opportunity to interview the president of the US Progressive Catholympic Selection Committee, Dr. Harry C. Blackmun.

AoftheA: Talk to me about the U.S. team's strengths.

Dr. Harry C.: We expect to do very well in Liturgical Ice Dancing. We've assembled the most creative, expressive group of liturgists on skates for this year's games. Many have years of experience directing Call-to-Action liturgies.


AoftheA: Where else?

Dr. Harry C: I would be very surprised if our Verbal Gymnastics team didn't perform well this year. The qualifier rounds were tough, but in the end, the editorial staff of the National Catholic Reporter beat out America and Commonweal. I don't expect much competition here, except for perhaps the team from Great Britain - they've got The Tablet, so they might push our team.


AoftheA: Excuse me, Doctor, but Gymnastics is a Summer Games event, isn't it?

Dr. Harry C: Hey, we're progressives! We do what we want when we want - we are our own authority!

AoftheA: OK then. Let's move on to other events. Reports are that the US faces tough competition in the Biathlon.

Dr. Harry C: Well, first of all, a correction is needed. The International Progressive Catholympic Committee (IPCC) has changed the event to make it more inclusive.

AoftheA: More inclusive? How so?

Dr. Harry C: It's now the Gay-Lesbian-Transgendered-Biathlon. And let me say that the mens' outfits are simply smashing, and the women are fired up and angry, eager to shoot anything that moves. I think we'll do just fine in that event.


AoftheA: How about the Schi-ism Jump? Who's your top jumper?

Dr. Harry C: Ray Bourgeios has been consistently landing impressive jumps. He's also headlining the Freestyle Schi-ism-ing team. We're very excited.

AoftheA: What has been the biggest challenge for you in assembling the U.S. team?

Dr. Harry C: Getting the LCWR on board. They were adamant in their refusal to wear the uniform - kept saying that Vatican II no longer required to wear them. In the end, though, I was
able to persuade them to join the team.

AoftheA: How were you able to do that?

Dr. Harry C: Compromise, of course. They agreed to wear the uniform if the IPCC allowed them to design the Catholympic torch.


AoftheA: There have been unconfirmed reports regarding irregularities in judging, perhaps some nations may distort their scoring matrices against other nations they don't particularly like. Are you afraid that that might happen this year?

Dr. Harry C: Not at all. In fact, the IPCC has eliminated all judging this year. We're firm believers that it's wrong to judge others.

AoftheA: So how will it be determined who gets the Gold, Silver and Bronze Felt Banners?

Dr. Harry C: We only have Gold Banners, and everyone gets one. It seemed fairer that way.