Tuesday, March 31, 2009

SO EXACTLY WHAT BELIEF WOULD BE TOO MUCH TO ACCEPT?

President Obama has been invited to speak at the commencement ceremony at the Catholic University of Notre Dame. I will admit having the president speaking at a Catholic institution is pretty cool. But of course there is a huge outcry among Catholics who – well – shall we be blunt? – think you should not have the facade of everything being Okay, not even giving even the appearance that, “See, even Catholics are divided on the life issue.” We are not. There is no wiggle room here. To be anti-life and in particular, pro abortion, pro embryonic stem cell research is not just something that Catholics do not like, it is anti-Catholic. It goes against our core principles. He is not just neutral on the topic, he is actively working to make it a secured right. In a way the invitation is kind of embarrasing - like the lonely girl at the dance who just wants to fit in and so is willing to go against her morals and principles in order to become more popular - but maybe not for the right reasos

An argument could be made that he is just allowing others to be able to make their own decisions concerning matters of life. But if we see abortion and embryo destruction as the taking of a human life (and we do) this is no different than if the law were considering allowing the murder Louisianans. “It does not mean I personally believe that someone from Louisiana should be murdered and I wish that it were not necessary, and I know that people who murder Louisianans make the decision very seriously with much thought and anguish. But it should be an individual’s choice. Be that as it may we must work together to try to make the murder – or rather the free choice of alternative existence - unnecessary.”

But shouldn’t such a man be given a chance to talk on campus? If we never engage we will never move the topic forward. And where better to do it than on our own turf? The University is the place where debates are had so that civil people may debate important topics and come to an equitable conclusion. But should it be the commencement speech? Catholic theologian George Wiegel said of this, “Commencement is not an opportunity to set the foundations for dialogue. Commencement and the award of an honorary degree is a statement on the part of the university [that] this is a life worth emulating.”

Is it hard to understand why the university would want to look the other way in this matter? No. It is a honor to have the president of the United States speak at the school. Monetarily it is boon. Knowing that the president might give your commencement speech might attract a good number of students. But what if they gain the whole world and lose their soul (and more importantly the souls of the students entrusted to them) in the process?

Kudos to Bishop John D’Arcy for boycotting the commencement. I pray (I hope) that not having the local ordinary there will be of some concern for the school and students though I imagine the stars in the eyes toward our president will probably cause many to miss the empty chair. But it is a start.

Move. Counter move. What comes next?

Monday, March 30, 2009

TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK CVIII

FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND – “How interesting that Catholics were asked not what was most important but what was most ‘meaningful.’ Are these the same thing? . . . If meaningfulness has become the new yardstick by which we measure the sacraments, how can we then deny this sacrament – or any other – to someone when it means so much to them?” Dr. Phillippa Martyr

QUOTE II – “Materialists and madmen never have a doubt.” G. K. Chesterton

IN OTHER NEWS:

Never fear, Catholic Carnival 217 is here!

Now, I am not necessarily recommending this but it was in a reputable Catholic magazine and cursory review of the site looks promising. Sexualwisdom.com says of itself, "We are determined to confront the merciless and vulgar sexual revolution that our tragically ignorant Catholic youth are engulfed in. In this spirit, the non-profit corporation Sex Education for Advanced Beginners Inc., the publishers of this book, will provide as many boxes of the book needed, essentially at cost (the schools, parishes or dioceses are responsible for printing and shipping costs), to any Catholic high school or diocese that will give a copy to the parents of every student in the 11th and 12th grade to take home and discuss with his or her parents." PARENTAL DISCRETION IS ADVISED. Check out their site for more information.

Now, in the definite NOT recommended category is this site that is too odd not to share. J sent this in with the note, "Can you believe this?" They promise that if you cannot say your prayers they have a computer program that will say them for you! You have choices of religions and prayers from which to choose. Hmmm, growing closer to God by having your computer talk to Him for you . . . Does anyone see a flaw here? "Information Age Prayer is a subscription service utilizing a computer with text-to-speech capability to incant your prayers each day. It gives you the satisfaction of knowing that your prayers will always be said even if you wake up late, or forget."

Nothing religious here - just an interesting video sent in by F. Animator vs. Animated.

Catholic TV is sprucing up their site. Check it out here.
P. sent in: "Today on EWTN ("Rome Reports") I saw a brief segment which introduced a new website geared toward youth: https://mail.neonet.org/owa/redir.aspx?C=821e85cf695b4cf6bfcfeb88fd896cae&URL=http%3a%2f%2fwww.earlychristians.org%2f "Early Christians" was developed by several young people who see a connection between the early Christian era (the need to resist and overcome a pagan culture) and the current era (the need to resist and overcome "neo-paganism"). They hope that the example of the early Christians can help people in the 21st century. A group of professors at the University of Narvarre, Spain, act as theological advisers to the web team. (The site also has a Spanish version.) Topics include biographies of early Christians, a chronology of the first centuries of Christianity, the trials of the martyrs, and the Pope's catechises on the apostles and early Christians. The team also takes questions submitted by those interested in learning more about the faith."

Sunday, March 29, 2009

MONDAY DIARY - WHERE THE DEER AND THE ANTILOPE PLAY

The weekly diary started as a series entitled, “Oh! The Places You’ll Go!” which took you with me to some interesting places from jails to porn sets - places that never quite seemed to make into the brochures advertising the priesthood. The more odd destinations seem to have dried up a little bit as I take on the responsibility of a parish and simply do not have the time. But the occasional excursion still needs to be made though this past week it was perhaps a bit more conventional.

Saturday after the usual parish responsibilities were finished I packed my U.S. Army Mass Kit, some vestments and liturgical books and headed out to Camp Manatoc to have Mass for the scouts. I used to camp there as a young scout but my last connection with the camp was in junior high school when the school went for our “wilderness experience.” It actually was a good time but my strongest memory was gaining school fame during the singing of “Hey Ladi.” (I am guessing on the spelling.) Mrs. McCalla (again I am guessing in the spelling) was leading us in a class sing along – always popular in junior high school – God bless her for trying. Everybody had to take a turn in coming up with a rhyme for the song and when it came to my turn I sang:

I know a lady named Mrs. McCalla
Hey ladi, ladi lo
When she sings the dogs all Holla
Hey ladi, ladi lo . . .

Driving out to the camp the radio predicted dropping temperatures and snow. SNOW! I have never had pleasant weather for an outdoor Mass – which is probably why I am generally opposed to them. As it turned out I was way overdressed for the evening.

A laughable sign along the long trail that led into the woods read, “Slow! Speed bumps!” It would have been more appropriate to inscribe the signs with, “Slow! Speed craters!” But the old Buick made it in well enough and at the administration building I was met by some sturdy young scouts who shouldered my load for me to the outdoor chapel. The chapel is built in the woods on the side of a hill and the 80 or so in attendance sat on rough stadium seating while I celebrated for them under a small shelter in rapidly declining light. I must say that I was impressed with the young men who, by and large, were very well behaved, attentive and best of all quiet as there is no sound system in the woods and any amount of fussing would have obliterated whatever I might have tried to say to them.

Later that night around a bonfire I was able to witness some cub scouts become boy scouts. The last time I was able to be at such an event it took place in a gym and because of fire regulations the bonfire was made of nylon flames with a fan and a red light under them, candles were battery operated, the bridge that the scouts were to cross over was of the kind you might find in a garden variety garden, and the gym lights had to remain on since there was not enough light produced by the “fire.” But late at night, with a true fire, rustic “bridge”, in the woods – and the emphatic charge to “turn off anything electronic” – the “rite” suddenly made so much more sense and was much more meaningful. It left me thinking about our various Catholic rites and how when we mess with them, making them less messy or more convenient or easier or just plain fail to do them well how we can strip the visceral aspects of them. They are supposed to be loud and soft, dark and light, oily, wet, smelly, difficult, and familiar. We should cross the bridge with smoke in our eyes, stumbling a little for poor lighting, bumping into others, being introduced to new thoughts while saying the same old words – to visit the same place every day and never find the same place.

Friday, March 27, 2009

FRIDAY FAIR - SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES

Continuing our atmospheric ponderings today we turn to smoke. There is good smoke (holy smokes) and bad smoke which the Surgeon General has pointed out is not good for us.

Good smoke, as we have mentioned before, can be in the form of incense. That which we use at Mass has two symbolic meanings. The first is that of purification. It covers over other scents and seems to purify the air – at least for those who like the smell (and I do) – and because of the nature of the smoke which rises to the heavens it symbolizes our prayers. “Let my prayers rise up before you like incense O Lord.” So imagine the incensation of the coffin at a funeral: the connections are just wonderful – purifying the body which we respect as sacred as it once had the dignity of a human person and we pray that the soul of the person whose image is still with us to be accepted into heaven.

Then there is good white smoke which comes out of the chimney at the Vatican during the election of a pope that lets the world know “Habemus papam! We have a pope!” The rest of the time the smoke is black letting us know that we still await news of the next visible head of the Church.

Smoke can also have a sinister meaning. It suggests vanity and over attachment of the things of this world which may – well – vanish like smoke. God’s wrath is often accompanied by smoke. Think of how smoke stings the eyes and disturbs the other senses such as when you were a small child feeling the ire of an angry adult. “O God, why have you cast us off forever? Why does your anger smoke against the sheep of Your pasture?”

Thursday, March 26, 2009

IT MAY NOT BE THE REST OF THE STORY - BUT IT IS MORE OF IT

A couple of things you almost never think of or hear about . . .

Here were a couple of thoughts to ponder that have, thus far, not made it into any publications or news services of which I am aware concerning the parish closings in Cleveland. Though these stories are particular to this diocese they happen everywhere and so here is one last post on the topic.

Most of the emphasis has been on those who are members (or sometimes-members) of the congregation, the priests, and people in the neighborhood, Catholic and non-Catholic alike. But there are still others that are feeling some amount of angst over the future of the buildings who are overlooked.

I received last week a number of Emails from an architect who has built a good number of churches and other buildings in the diocese. I found him a great man with whom to work as well as a good Catholic and perfect gentleman. The Emails were short containing the name of a parish that is slated to be closed along with the sentence, “My father designed that building.” Ah, who knows how many others have tacit attachments to the buildings similar to this. Does anybody wonder any longer why, when you change the slightest detail about our church buildings that somebody will be upset? On the one hand we encourage people to take fierce pride and ownership in their parish buildings, but the Church, which holds all things in tension and not dilution, also says, “Don’t get attached. This world and all that it is in it is passing away.”

*sigh*

IN OTHER NEWS:

By and large these men would not tell you what they were going through to help keep their inner city parishes going. They do so quietly as well they should in order to help make their parishes viable. But because they keep quiet they often do not receive the recognition of their efforts and their parishioners do not understand the difficulties that their parish may be facing.

The men about whom I am speaking are the pastors of parishes facing difficulties that forgo taking their full salary or some of their benefits such as their continuing education allotment. They are men who live with very little heat in their rectories or live in rectories that are in such a state of disrepair that many others would not accept for their own living arrangements. They try to cover as well as they can many of the jobs that would normally fall on another parish employee which is why many times requests from inner city parishes take a bit longer to fulfill. They wear their clerical garb until they are worn a bit more, put up with things that are broken, do their best to jerry rig expensive repairs and act as security guards for their own buildings which often entail not only the rectory and church, but school, convent, and other buildings as well. And a good number have stayed on well passed retirement age to try to help to the people in the parish have just that much longer to have their beloved church.

Here’s to you unsung heroes! May God bless you for your quiet efforts!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

WE HAVE MET THE CHURCH AND THE CHURCH IS US

I am ranting today. You may want to skip this post.

I have a new person to add to my list of heroes. Her name is Jennifer Cakir and she is sad about the parish closings in the diocese of Cleveland and is honest about her role in it. She says in part in her letter to the editor, “I am ashamed to admit that I was one of the many West Side Irish Americans who felt connected to St. Coleman due to my ancestry and the St. Patrick’s Day Mass tradition, but I did not support the church the rest of the year . . . remember that, if we are privileged to win this battle (to keep St. Coleman open) we need to support the church financially as well as physically by filling the seats throughout the year.”

A good number of years ago there was a letter to the editor that blamed the Church for the lack of priests. The Church should do more to get more priests, the writer penned, and because they did not we are going to be short on priests and my parish may have to close.

Now, there may be a certain amount of legitimacy to this claim. But the writer the next week hit the rest of the nail on the head when he wrote that he agreed that the Church had failed to cultivate more priests for her altars, but he went further to ask the question, “But who is the Church?” Is it a man in an office in downtown Cleveland? How can he possibly reach all the young men of the diocese? We are all “the Church” and the question must be asked how many of us promoted the priesthood among our children, how many made sure they spoke well of the priesthood, how many suggested to other young men that they saw something in them that would make them a good priest, how many of us volunteered to teach PSR or work with kids so that they may have a more positive experience of Church? There is not us and “the Church,” we are all Church and we all need to work at the problem as one.

Whoohoo!

So now Cleveland is closing parishes in the inner cities. I am rather sad myself about many of the closings. And now the accusations are coming that “the Church is abandoning the city.” Yes, we have. Not completely but to a great extent. And the “we” is not only the institutional Church. In fact, institutional Church is among the last hold outs. If the people who make up “Church” were still in the city we would not close parishes but the “Church” moved to the suburbs and then further out again, the Church abandoned their parent’s homes, the Church decided to have smaller families, the Church did not return regularly to the city to attend Mass and pay for the upkeep of these buildings, and most of the “Church” didn’t give two figs about those buildings and parishes unless there was holiday or a bus trip to show off architecture and then complained that they wanted to get back on the bus because the neighborhood scared them.

So now the accusations are starting: The Church is abandoning the inner city poor – yet the same people say they want the diocese to spend millions of dollars a year to keep buildings open and in good repair along with the staff needed to maintain them for congregations that are by and large no longer there. People want healthy parochial schools and fine parishes in the places to which they have moved, but they also want tons of money sent to the inner city that will somehow appear magically without asking for any more money in the pew. There is a claim that the diocese is not being a good steward of the properties that were entrusted to them in the city but it is rare among those who make that claim to hop on the highway every Sunday to those grand edifices that they see as they dart as quickly as possible through the city.

Now I don’t want to say that some people do not have legitimate concerns. They do and I wish them luck and offer prayers for their endeavors. But concerns need to be spoken not in anger but in well thought out argumentation. Along with what you want the diocese to do about a particular parish MUST be accompanied by what THAT PERSON is willing to do.


For years.

I am a big believer in cities. I wish we would stop urban sprawl. I wish we would reclaim our old neighborhoods and our old buildings. I wish, I wish, I wish. But wishes do not accomplish anything or I would have several million dollars and full head of hair. If I were able and wanted to save the life of a parish or neighborhood I should put my money where my mouth is and move there, worship there, invest there, and encourage others to be there. After 2012 there will still be MANY parishes left in the inner city, if the Church wants them to remain – then the Church must do something now!

Monday, March 23, 2009

TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK CVII

FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: "Weston complained about making portraits but those "groans were directed at the soft focus and the arduous retouches of wrinkles and other 'faults' whose erasure was demanded by vanity," wrote Dudy Weston Thomson. "Doing so seemed to him a travesty, 'A denial of life itself!'" By 1915 the sign posted over his retouching desk read, "Liar." -An outtake from a description of the photographer Edward Weston now showing at the Akron Museum of Art.

IN OTHER NEWS:

And now the one, the only: Catholic Carnival 216!

The Theater of the Word sent this site in for you to visit and see clips. Enjoy!

In lent when you hear CRS you might be thinking Catholic Relief Services and Operation Rice Bowl - but this note came from the Cleveland Restoration Society. One of the things that they do is help our churches retain and maintain their grandeur. You may remember that they gave an award last year to The Conversion of Saint Paul Shrine. Here is there response to the closures of Churches in Cleveland.

P. sent this in: ALERT! "The Cleveland Diocese and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops are urging Catholics to take action against the proposal by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to rescind federal laws that currently protect the right of conscience of health care professionals. The proposal would jeopardize the jobs of those who refuse to participate in immoral acts that violate the natural law and the teachings of the Church, such as surgical abortions, abortifacient drugs, and euthanasia. Even health care professionals at Catholic hospitals would be affected. You may comment online through the easy-to-use ACTION ALERT (which includes information and suggested comments) on the Diocesan prolife website at www.clevelandcatholiccharities.org/prolife. Click on the link that says “Protect Conscience Rights in Health Care: Respond to President Obama’s 30-day Comment Period.” Comments can also be submitted electronically by e-mail to https://mail.neonet.org/owa/redir.aspx?C=dc079291fa2f4383bde21d2ec57a4409&URL=mailto%3aproposedrescission%40hhs.gov. If you prefer, you may register your objections via U.S. mail (send one original and two copies) addressed to: Office of Public Health and Science, Dept. of Health and Human Services, Attn: Rescission Proposal Comments, Hubert H. Humphrey Building, 200 Independence Avenue SW, Room 716G, Washington, DC 20201. IMPORTANT: The deadline for comments is April 9, 2009."

P. also sent this interesting article in about churches hurting that borrowed during prosperous times.

About a year and a half ago these videos were presented. I went back hoping that there would be more after all this time but alas and alack, such is not the case. Here they are again if you are so interested from The Church You Know.

If you want to get a better sense of what is going on with closing of parishes in the Diocese of Cleveland, look at this map provided by WKYC.

After that you might want to hop on over to Catholic Pages on the Humour page for something a bit more light.

MONDAY DIARY - IMMITATION ARTING LIFE

A parishioner gave me the DVD of Diary of a City Priest staring David Morse. My sister and cousin came over to watch it one evening. It is not a riveting movie with plot twist or car races or even much of a story line for that matter, but it was an interesting insight into at least one priests life though I thought he was making his life a bit more difficult than need be - but that was just my opinion.

We were watching and talking about how often the priest in this movie was called to do things at the most inconvenient times and my sister and cousin thinking the dramatization a bit excessive when my cell phone went off. I went to room to hear better. Somebody’s father was failing and crying for priest and the hospital asked their kids to call a priest to help calm him down. I put on my blacks and headed back out to the movie.

“Do you want us to leave?” asked my cousin. It was not necessary. “Just close the door when you leave after the movie is over,” I said and was off.

I was going to a place I never heard of before and my directions were sketchy at best. I was angry with myself because I forgot my cell phone and would have to try to figure it out myself. I pulled into one building and a kindly guard took me under his wing and since it was obvious that I was at the wrong place, tried to help me find the right one.

I was back in my car and heading further down the road. The building I thought they said I was looking for and that the guard helped me find did not look like any kind of medical facility. But I got out and started walking around for a while trying to make sense of the directions again. It was in the heart of the city not too far off campus from the University of Akron. It was late and there was nobody around to ask for assistance.

Finally a building was sighted that seemed to fit the bill so I walked back to my car and drove across the street and around a small, specialty hospital. I did not even know such things existed. A guard was waiting for me inside.

“I bet you’re the man I’ve been waiting for!” I apologized for taking so long and explained that I’d been walking around trying to find the place. “You really shouldn’t be doing that Father,” she said with anxious concern, “It isn’t safe around here.”

Eesh.

Well, don’t you know, the person I was to see was doing just fine by the time I got there but we chatted as best we could and we celebrated the anointing of the sick and then I was off back to my side of town.

I don’t know of a priest that relishes the idea of being called out late at night for an emergency. I don’t. But I also do not know a priest that is not glad after he has done so. Striving for holiness for anyone is not in wanting to do it – but in doing it. That is not being hypocritical, that is human nature – and the nature of striving for holiness.

Friday, March 20, 2009

FRIDAY FAIR - SUN LIKE IT HOT

It would not take a rocket scientist to put together that the sun is symbolic of the Son – the Christ. “But onto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness shall arise with healing in his wings.” (Malachi 4:2) Because the sun represents our Risen Lord the Church had the practice of facing east for Mass, not, as is commonly alleged, with the priest having his back to the people. That was not the point. We were all, including the celebrant who is in need of Christ also, facing Him who brings us salvation. It was more like Moses leading the people through the desert than the celebrant ignoring his people. In fact, since the altar at St. Peter’s faces west, there is some evidence that for part of the Mass the people turned to face east with their backs to the celebrant! But by and large we are separating ourselves from incorporating nature and creation in our gestures and symbols. Perhaps it is seen as too pagan now. Too bad because it is all part of creation, is of God, and is therefore good and useful to us.

The sun in some instances can also represent Mary (confusingly enough) for in Revelation she is the woman “clothed with the sun.”

Thursday, March 19, 2009

WHY THAT THERE IS A SAINT JOSEPH DAY MEANS SOMETHING

Sebastian and I went for a long walk along the railroad tracks yesterday and it is with much joy that I announce that the crocuses are out and blooming in northeast Ohio. This is one of those particular moments it is a delight to believe in a beneficent, Creator God.

There are those, among whom I count some of my friends, who see the crocus and know what a wonder it is that it exists by result of pure chance. All of existence came into being through the passage of enough time (and some inexplicable inertia) so that enough particles came together to form a crocus. Which of course means (please pardon the use of the word) that the crocus means nothing. That I appreciate it means nothing. That I enjoy it, in the end, means nothing. There is no logic to its existence. If one says there is logic, logic presupposes a thinker and even if that logic is the universe itself that means it itself is a god of sorts and had a force capable of making sense and form and existence. That we shall look at in a moment. This inert stuff that became a “stuff” that later animate stuff came to think of as a crocus. But even self awareness and thinking would be largely an illusion. Tomorrow all of the vast stuff that makes up what we call the universe could come together and all of it make a star, or a stone, or ’46 Plymouth Special Deluxe and would have the exact same meaning which really is nothing.

There are those, again among whom I count some friends, who look upon the crocus and see intelligence; an intelligence worth worshipping. Creation itself is a god worthy to call upon and appreciate and adore. Indeed I may become a crocus some day. There is a great force that guides what is into life and beauty. Someday my life force will be absorbed into the greater force but really so what? As a crocus I will hardly remember running through the field. I might as well never have existed before or again if memory plays no role. But even if memory played a role I just assume not be part of this cycle. Going through puberty once was enough. I would even less want to come back as one of Sebastian’s pups going through puberty and have nothing to look forward to than this same cycle for all of eternity. So that leads being absorbed into this great force like a raindrop falling into the ocean and losing its identity. Not a cheery thought.

So what can be the meaning of life? Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow you die! Gads, what an awful existence. Pointlessness rarely if ever brings about joy. After a while the realization that “This is it and it will only go downhill from here” as one nears death is not something to grasp the imagination of a man and propel him to great acts of love, charity, sacrifice – will not induce hope – cannot bring you meaning and therefore ultimate joy. The crocus is a great cosmic joke whose punch line is not funny to the one on whom it is being played.

Then there is the position that today is more and more thought foolish and out of fashion; to look upon a crocus and see God and not God. To see something that participates in God yet is not God itself nor worthy or worship. To see in its petals signposts to God, fingerprints of God, the meaning of God that gives us hope for it points beyond itself. The Christian message is that God is a Person and this life is simply a pilgrimage to Him – we are not to be obliterated or absorbed but to be fulfilled in Him. We have hope, we have some place to go, we have meaning, and this can lead us to self sacrifice, to love, to join in the creating spirit. This is a joy because we will imitate what we see in the crocus.

If one sees the crocus as a fluke he will not put too much stock into existence besides that which serves to make his miserable existence better. The crocus may just as well be stomped on as let alone for it means the same thing. Therefore if it suits me kill life – in the womb, in the jail, when it is too old, when it is too sick, when it occupies my land. Why not? Nature herself will warm and feed us as well as wipe us out without a moment’s notice by giant wave, raging fire, landslide, volcano, tornado, wild beast, pandemic, heat, cold, gas, virus, or banana peel. Why should not man, product of this indifferent universe as a whole end up any different?

Or if it be a god we can do not much more than hold hands and watch our leaves wither, turn brown, and decay, and hope that we are not the last for this spring and have to watch the rest go. I’m god, and you are god. Then again, so are the stars and my slippers. As when marriage amongst any combination of people held together by vows starts to mean nothing, when everything is god, nothing is god. And in the end it is the same as if everything was a fluke and the god we imitate resembles deeply the copying of kind and cruel nature to end in obliteration.

But for the Catholic we are called to live above this. Contrary to popular conception we do not take life all that seriously. It is greatly respected and protected, but it and even death is a passing fancy and nothing compared to the life to come. We are called neither to worship the crocus nor ignore it but simply to enjoy it for what it is – a taste of eternal good things to come.

Even if this were not true (and it is) I would rather be a fool and happy, the right, doomed, and incapable of sustaining this deep and abiding joy when death walks down my front walk.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

SAY ONLY THE GOOD THINGS MEN NEED TO HEAR; THINGS THAT WILL REALLY HELP THEM. Ephesians 4:29

Right now I am sitting on my porch typing. Sebastian my faithful Lab is sitting at my feet. I’m thinking about this latest of fads called tripping – or twerping – or twitting or whatever it may be though the word containing “twit” seems to be the most apropos. On the one hand, never before in history has so much information been available and shared between any two people outside of Siamese twins and on the other never has there ever been so much useless dribble, shared ignorance, and inane babbling going on. At least a room full of infants are trying to develop language skills with their babbling.

No longer need one pause to think before he apply pen to paper for fear of loss of precious materials. Our ability to produce, publish, and push prodigious piles of poopery without real content is a curse of modern technical wonders. Bring back the paper society and charge highly for the precious commodities! Make us think before we commit to ink!

Of course, I am part of the problem. Here I blog – Sebastian now barking at the school kids released from the bonds of learning to attach themselves to portable phones, twitters and other devises. Oh! For the day when our only real enemy was trashy television. You can still send the kid outside to play, but now all his electronic devices go with him! So, in protest against the peddling of empty caloried information I steadfastly refuse to post today. (I’m back – I had to get a piece of wood out of Sebastian’s mouth.) No, not one word, not one story or opinion! Mother may have said, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say it at all.” More modern mothers should instead say, “If you don’t have anything to say, don’t post anything!”

To modern Mom wherever she may be – this lack of a post is dedicated to you!

Monday, March 16, 2009

TUESDAY QUOTE OF THE WEEK CVI

FINDING TRUTH WHEREVER IT MAY BE FOUND: "Mere intolerance, in itself, is not wrong. It is when a truly terrible event occurs or an untruth comes to light, and we are told we must accept it in the name of tolerance, that something has gone wrong." Maria McDonald "In Defence of Intolerance

QUOTE II: "In the wild recesses of our imaginations could we conceive of not working forty hours a week? I think that is within the imaginative power of most Americans, but what about this: can we imagine what we would do with our free time?" Andrew Hornde "Foreigners"

IN OTHER NEWS:

Thank you to all of you bloggers who helped make "Old Thunder" a success at Saint Sebastian. Polling a few people who were from outside the parish they largely said that they found a reference to the show from blogs rather than any other advertising. God bless you.
Of course Ellen was there with members of the Warren Chesterton Society. They were responsible for starting the ball rolling. We even had a literary society from Saint Mary, a local Anglo-Catholic Church (I hope I put that correctly). M. A. from that group reports that they who found out about it from The Distributist Review. (Distributism being a pet idea of Chesterton who was good friends with Belloc.) Kevin O'Brien and his crew did an excellent job and I highly recommend them. If you would like to read a post about their experience in Akron (although we are not a suburb but a happy city all on our own) read here in the Saint Austin Review blog which is dedicated to reclaiming culture. Once again, here is the Theater of the Word site.

A.W. sent a wire concerning a new movie coming out called, "Come What May: When Does Life Really Begin. If you go here you can see a trailer. This is all that I know about it but if the trailer holds true it looks promising in content. Has anybody any further information?

The Diocese of Cleveland Enewsletter is providing a link so that you can read the individual letters sent out to parishes this past weekend concerning directives given to them concerning the results of the Vibrant Parish Life initiative. For those who are unfamiliar this past weekend this diocese announce that over 50 parishes and schools would be closed or merged. Other parishes received direction on how to strengthen their presence and ministry. These are the letters sent to each parish.

From the same source, "Did you know, at the time, the field of St. Patrick's labors was the most remote part of the then known world?" Read more here.

Or you could just watch this:




Here's some Saint Patrick's Day games for you! WARNING: Addiction level LOW.

J. pointed out this gem of news from the Little Black Book. You may have heard the song, "In heaven there is no beer . . ." That would be changed if Saint Brigid of Ireland had her way. "I would like a great lake of beer for the King if Kings: I would like the people of heaven to be drinking it through time eternal." What a saint. Beer was the safest, most nutritious drink for northern Europeans during the Middle Ages. Many monasteries brewed their own beer which they called liquid bread. Priests are called on to bless the hops on Saint Joseph Day (March 19th) to make sure that the beer turns out well. Catholics know how to fast, but we also know how to enjoy creation. Here is the Catholic Beer Review that I found on accident. Even better, here is a history of the Church and beer.

Jay said to tell you that Catholic Carnival 215 is now open to the public!

Why did Saint Patrick drive the snakes out of Ireland? Because it was too expensive to fly!

MONDAY DIARY - FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX

This weekend was historic in the diocese of Cleveland. I am sure it will be discussed and debated for a few generations and will always be a major point whenever the history of the diocese is taught. This is the weekend when over 50 parishes and schools found out whether they would be closed, consolidated, or given a second chance.

The diocese, in its wisdom, had decided to disseminate the plan piecemeal, giving each parish its particular results by letter delivered to the pastor or administrator on Saturday morning between the hours of 9:00AM and 2:00PM. The cleverness of this process means that parishioners will hear the fate of their parish from their pastor before it can be declared in the paper dropped at their door in the morning or on the car radio on the way to Mass as has happened in the past with the result of much heartache and shock. At 10:00AM on Sunday there was a press release for the media after parishes have had a chance share their fate with their people.

So, as I said, there was to be an official representative in the rectory awaiting this important letter delivered by a brown shoed courier who would knock on the door three times and say, “the chair is near the door,” to which we were to respond, “The Pope wears red shoes.” (This last part is entirely made up but would have made the whole to-do much more interesting.) I had confessions and baptisms that morning and so had my business manager come in to receive the letter. We sat in my office with a cup of coffee before I was off to my duties talking with a positive attitude about the future of the parish. Then the thought occurred that there are probably more than a few priests sitting alone in their offices today who know that they are expecting troubling news that will bring sadness to many. They are staring at things and knowing that time was limited to enjoy the place that they have called home.

Coming back from baptisms it was discovered that the letter had still not yet arrived. No other work was really going to get done for the anticipation so there was a hunkering down to wait. But the wait was short lived. The secretary brought the letter in. Apparently UPS delivered the letter to the church and gave it to someone who just happened to be at the baptism and was not even a member of the parish! (The same happened at the friend’s parish. UPS stuck the letter in a door at the school and they would not have discovered it except that someone who forgot something needed to get into the school thank heavens.)

It seemed wrong to open it too quickly. I took the letter to the rectory chapel and first prayed for those pastors and parishes for whom this would be traumatic. Then before the Blessed Sacrament placed the tip of the envelope opener under the flap of the letter marked, “From the Office of the Bishop” and opened it.

Our news was good. There will be more work fine tuning in our cooperation with our cluster parish. But the reality of what happened is beginning to hit more directly. Last night I went out to hear confessions at a local parish for their youth retreat. One of the pastors from a closing parish was there. He put on a good face but you could tell beneath the brave fa├žade was a breaking heart. He had to announce to his people that their parish was closing, will have to stay at the parish through its last duties, and then face another assignment. That is what we sign on for – sure. And I hope I would be as gracious and brave as this man. I’ve probably learned more from him in the few minutes that I spent with him last night than some people can teach in a year’s worth of homilies.

In the end it is the Eucharist, it is Christ, it is His Church, it is His teaching, it is eternal life, it our inheritance in heaven that matters. The rest will all pass. It is just a challenge for some things to pass before we expected.

Here you may find more information from the Plain Dealer.

Here you may find more informaiton from the Diocese of Cleveland.

Friday, March 13, 2009

FRIDAY FAIR - VERY SOON WE'LL HAVE OUR JUNE UNDERNEATH A COLORADO MOON . . .

There’s a moon out tonight wah wah wahooooo.

As we keep our eyes toward the heavens I think that it is a shame that we have abandoned much of our astronomical symbolism for fear that it may be construed as something New Age-ish. When my class was looking to put a coat of arms together one of the suggestions contained a moon and stars. This was rejected not so much because it was disliked but because it “sent the wrong message and looked too much like something that Shirley McClain might be interested in.” Oh, perhaps they were right.

The crescent moon has been a traditional symbol of Mary, the woman, “clothed with the sun and the moon under her feet” (Revelation 12:1). The full moon also often represents Mary for it explains her glory. It is not from her own merit but that she se well reflects her glorious Son the same way that the moon creates no light of its own bur reflects the radiance of the sun.

Often at night I look up at the moon and say a prayer asking for Mary’s intercession for acquaintances all around the globe that she can offer as her symbols roles around the night sky.