Saturday, March 20, 2004

I guess we have a fan...

Our raging has drawn many people to enjoy our blog. Apparently, someone who goes by the code name "File Folder" isn't as thrilled. Well, that is to be expected.

But at the same time, the comments he/she has left, suggests to me that he/she has either a.) received a lot of bad information about the Catholic Church and the ministerial priesthood or b.) has been badly treated by either members of the faithful or one of my brother priests. If that is the case, I am truly sorry and offer my apologies.

I would invite all those who read the blog to please pray for this person. I would suggest offering your Holy Communion tomorrow for his/her intentions. I will offer one of my Masses for his/her needs as well.
As I suspected...

When I took medical moral theology, the topic of removal of feeding tubes came up. I came down on the side of not removing until really the person is either truly dead or absolutely cannot keep food down. In the later case, then you switch to IV nutrients.

Turns out that the Holy Father agrees. Nice company to keep, huh? Also, I was edified by his comments, that "no one is ever a vegetable."

If someone finds the text of the whole speech, leave the link in the comments area please.

Also, note the tasteful Rose vestment.
A Reprieve

Because of the death of the comments area, I am extending the latest round of Name That Heresy! Please refer to this link for more hints and info. I will end this round on Monday at noon. Remember that there are prizes and no one has gotten the right answer. So get in the game.
TechMonkey Dave here. We changed the commenting system from Enetation to Haloscan. The issue was ability to manage the comments section more efficiently, and dependability. It seems your previous comments, dear readers, are lost in cyberspace, unfortunately, but keep up the good work in the future.

It was my fault for having chosen Enetation in the first place, and Frs. Tharp and Hamilton have given me an appropriate penance for my frowardness in this regard. They've decreed that I must flagellate myself with a rolled up copy of "Commonweal" and what's worse, I then have to unroll it and read it cover to cover.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Lenten Reflection #8 is up
Redux of the Borromeo Project

A couple of comments and emails have arrived asking what the Borromeo Project is. It is my evil brainchild. Here was my problem.

In my little time as a priest I have encountered this phenomenon. Most Catholics are well meaning but woefully ignorant. Also, when a priest wants to lead adult formation class, he is left with a scatter shot method for bringing the truths of the faith to the table principally because no good standard curriculum exists. Lastly, in larger parishes people don't know each other because of the Mass Bubble that people exist in. So what's a priest to do?

I created a program of adult formation that centers on daily readings and weekly discussions. The year is divided into four ten-week sessions. Participants have short readings for themselves for each day of the week. The daily questions focus upon mastering the content of the material read. Then in the weekly sessions, the small group, ideally lead by a priest, explores the implications of what they have read. The book would come in two forms, the participant’s manual and the leader’s manual. The only difference between them would be that the leader’s manual has an answer key and a full text for the weekly prayer sessions.

I have dubbed this The Borromeo Project. The first year will focus on the Catechism, the second year on the VII documents, and the third year, the encyclicals of John Paul II. It is in my mind to also create an accompanying format for high school youth groups but that will have to wait. If I can get the parents to convert more fully to the demands of Faith in Christ, then the sky's the limit after that.

Please pray for me and for the success of this work. Michael O'Brien said something interesting to me about this. He said, "The work must stand on its own." I recognize that this might not be Ignatius Press's cup of tea. It might be better distributed through OSV or a publisher that specializes in educational formats.
The Fellowship of the Project. Part Two

I just checked with the USPS, and this is the message I got back.

"Your item was processed and left our SAN FRANCISCO, CA facility on March 19, 2004. Information, if available, is updated every evening. Please check again later. "

So, the Borromeo Project is in their hands now. I am not one to go looking for signs, but how providential that my submission to Ignatius Press, whose submission editor is Fr. JOSEPH Fessio, landed on his desk on the Solemnity of St. Joseph. Ooooh, I am all a twitter.

I know that this doesn't guarantee a thing, but a boy can dream can't he?
A new way to encourage fasting during Lent?

I spotted this on Yahoo News. I guess this is one way to get kids to stop eating candy during Lent.
A Blast from the Past!

The internet is a wonderful tool for reconnecting with folks you have lost touch with. Case in point, Summa Contra Mundum. I read with interest the lastest post on the need for a New Eroticism as I was doing one of my blog crawls.

I couldn't get the comments area to open which is becoming a problem for me. I can't ever access HaloScan and Squwak Box systems. If you use these, you might check and make sure the system is working. I sent an email and the name that popped up was familiar. So I emailed and I was right. The author of the blog and I went to seminary for a couple of years. He went on to the vocation of marriage and a doctorate in Philosophy. I would suspect that his speciality is either medieval or modern philosophy, but I forgot to ask. I stuck out the seminary and here we are.

I fondly remember the "discussion" we had over the relative merits of "Briscoe County, Junior" versus "The X-Files." In the long run, he was right about the weaknesses of the X-Files. Oh, well, you can't win them all.

When things get too wishy-washy over here, sample a little of his bracing brew.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

"Because I am a mean man who hates children!"
"Isn't that what everyone is saying?"
That's the "ice breaker" answer I give nowadays when asked why I don't bless children (or anyone for that matter) in the line for Holy Communion. I usually let that answer soak in ever so briefly before I laugh and slap the interrogator on the back for good comic measure. Then I proceed to explain my reasoning. For readers who may be interested in a priest's account of why the practice is not recommended, and, perhaps for priest-readers who may need help responding to similar inquiries, I offer my reasons as I have them to date.

(1) The teleological answer: Quite simply, the line for the distribution of Holy Communion is precisely for that, and that only. It is not the intent of the ritual that it be a line for other things, however worthwhile they may be in their own right.

(2) The theological answer: The Church teaches the Holy Eucharist is "the source and summit of the Christian life" (Const. on the Church, 11). If asked, most of us would easily point to the consecration as the most important part of the Holy Mass. If we thought a bit more, I think we would naturally extend that to also include the reception of Holy Communion (not because the validity of the Holy Eucharist depends upon its reception, but because the Holy Eucharist is ordered toward reception). In any event, worthy reception of the Holy Eucharist is the most perfect form of participation in the Sacred Liturgy. With that in mind, at the precise moment when the climax of the Holy Mass is reached, when we arrive at that to which the whole Mass is directed and from which it flows, the reception of Holy Communion is replaced with a blessing? As if anyone's blessing, even a priest's, could possibly take the place of reception of the Sacrament?

(3) The liturgical answer: The Fathers of Vatican II describe the Sacred Liturgy as "the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; it is also the font from which all her power flows" (Const. on the Sacred Liturgy, 10). Because of this, the Church closely regulates the Sacred Liturgy. It is not the private or local property of anyone, not even a bishop or priest. It is the common patrimony of the Universal Church. It should come as no surprise, then, that the Church establishes rubrics that direct the sacred action proper to each participant in the Sacred Liturgy. The rubrics surrounding the Holy Eucharist and the various rites for its adoration (note especially how Benediction is given by a cleric with veiled hands, and the rubrics governing Exposition and Adoration when immediately following the Holy Mass) make it clear that a cleric is not to give "his" blessing in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed. This does not, I know, automatically exclude the blessing of children. However, and though I would not be in agreement with what follows, it would at least be more liturgically consistent to give a Benediction to non-communicants, since the Blessed Sacrament is exposed at that point of the Holy Mass. (Notice how attention to this would also clarify the awkward practice of extraordinary ministers giving blessings with hands, as does a cleric. Since a cleric is not to do that when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed, certainly neither should a lay person.) In addition, the priest's blessing upon the people is specifically situated at the end of the Mass, not during Holy Communion. Furthermore, the implementation of Vatican II can be said to be marked by a simplification of rites. Numerous signs of the Cross were removed from the Holy Mass. Couldn't it be said, then, that the multiplication of blessings during Holy Communion is contrary to the direction of the liturgical renewal we have been given? Finally, this practice is yet another unintended change of the Sacred Liturgy. Though perhaps minute, it seems to be another manifestation of a foreign attitude that seeks to co-opt the Sacred Liturgy, making it the production of the local community, rather than a font of grace received from beyond ourselves.

(4) The pastoral answer: (a) Dispensing blessings during Holy Communion promotes, I believe, the false idea that "everyone gets something," perhaps even going so far as to promote more frequent unworthy reception of the Sacrament by people who feel compelled to simply come forward in the Holy Communion line, regardless of their state of soul, because everyone else is. This is especially the case when we are blessed to have non-Catholic visitors who are ignorant of the Holy Eucharist and unaware of how to alert that they should receive only a blessing. (b) As a minister I find the practice confusing. I am not a good judge of age, even less so when trying to focus on my duties at the Holy Mass. It happens often that the sign requesting a blessing (hands folded over chest) is not followed, leaving me unsure why the person stands before me. This is especially noted in the case of older children and adults, who by appearance certainly could be old enough to receive, but who have not yet made First Holy Communion. (c) It seems to me there is value in waiting, praying, and preparing for something. This corresponds to the virtue of patience, something we are rapidly loosing all vestige of in society. Being cheated out of the anxious waiting can cheapen the expectation proper to more full participation at Holy Mass.

(5) The historical answer: I realize that the giving of a Benediction (notice, I did not say blessing) at the time of Holy Communion does occupy a place in history, in the Traditional Rite. But, also notice that the giving of the Benediction with the Sacred Host was given to the person receiving the Sacrament, not as a replacement of reception. While reciting the formula for distribution, the cleric would give Benediction with the Sacred Host, which was then placed on the communicant's tongue.

(6) The asthetical answer: The often fevered attempts of elders, on the approach for Holy Communion, to force small children to place their hands over their chests (and to pretend that they just might stay that way...this time!) is, to put it lightly, very distracting. I doubt it promotes proper focus for the elder who struggles with a child down the entire aisle of church. I know it distracts me.

(7) The analogical answer: I would venture to guess that most of us would find it inappropriate if someone were to present himself in the line for Holy Communion, not for the Sacrament, but to have a Rosary blessed. The priest, despite the sad appearance of many of our modern church structures, is not some sort of "sacral vendor," dispensing Holy Communion here, blessed medals there, holy cards here, rosaries there. Just as I would refuse to bless a Rosary at that moment of the Holy Mass, so do I refuse to bless a child. Yes, I realize the limitations of this analogy, as all analogies are limited. No, my refusal would have nothing to do with my dislike of the Rosary, just as my refusal has nothing to do with a dislike of children. And, no, my refusal should not be interpreted to mean that blessing rosaries is bad, just as it should not be interpreted that blessing children is bad. That moment of the Holy Mass is, quite simply, not the place for blessing rosaries. Likewise with the blessing of children.

And if all the above fails to appease an offended parent, I am always happy to bless individually any and all children who come to me after Holy Mass, when my hands are not otherwise occupied and when I can even pick them up, and have some time to say a few words to them!
You too can own a piece of Fascist History

I may not be up on my political parties but wasn't the Peronist Government under Juan and Evita a fascists movement? It explains why so many Germans repatriated there at the end of the war.

Well, you too can be part of the action. Christie's Auction House in an outburst of remarkable bad taste will auction off items from the late, great Eva Peron. Included in the items for auction is the hand woven BURIAL SHROUD the late dictator's squeeze was buried in.

Get there early so as not to miss the bargains.
Why, yes Ms. De Vil, we have puppies. Why do you ask?

I knew that the dog industry was a big deal, but this is ridiculous.
This is not a meat market!

With all due respect to Fr. H's brother, I didn't establish this blog to be a dating service. He can find his own dates. Cf. the comments box for more info.
The Fellowship of the Project

I sent the draft chapters of the Borromeo Project Part One to the publishers yesterday. I will be posting regularly to let you know when it arrives in San Fran. Ignatius Press I realize may not jump at the chance, but thankfully there are other publishers out there. I have so much enjoyed their books over the years, I would love to be in the roster.
Gross Misrepresentation!

I don't recall saying that I looked like the devil children from TPOTC. I think I used this image.

I look like someone punched me in the face. Probably someone's fantasy. Anyway, the doctor gave me some pills so by tomorrow the swelling should be down....I hope.
Civil War

Spring is definitely in the air in the great State of Oklahoma...and the allergens are sweepin' down the Plains. Russian Thistle (AKA Tumbleweed) is in bloom in my part of the state and tree pollen across the state is at 97%. It's as if our sinuses are seceding from the personal unity that is our selves. It's Civil War!

Mine are bad enough with the itching and sneezing, but Fr. Tharp assures me that his sinuses are so bad he appears as one of those weird devil children from "The Passion of the Christ". Sounds as if another miracle in Alva is needed.
In Tribute to Our 7500th Visitor

Yes, from humble beginnings can come mighty forces with which to be reckoned! We appreciate your visits and we look forward to your comments and suggestions.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004


Sure, these quizzes are fluffy, but I like this outcome so much...

You are Homer! An epic poet circa 800 B.C., Homer
is the expression of the ancient Greek ideal.
His characters embark upon long and wordy
quests and engage in battles of heroic length.
Monsters are slain and cities are razed. Fun
and glory all around!

Which famous poet are you? (pictures and many outcomes)
brought to you by Quizilla

In an effort to promote better Internet lingo, I refer you to the concept, "blug." To blug is to plug a blog.

I bring this up because of this blog's blug at Thrown Back. Fr. Johansen went to seminary with me for 2.5 years at Saint Charles. He went on to finish his formation at another seminary. So check him out and check his blug for us. Thanks, Fr. J.

What does this have to do with St. Patrick? His blog is green...?
Steps to Authentic Reform: St. Patrick

St. Patrick started out as a slave. Captured by hostile raiders from Ireland, he was dragged to a foreign land. While there he learned their language and eventually returned home. Now, ask yourself what you would do? If it were me, I would settle down in my mud hovel with my wife and have lots of kids. Not for St. Pat. He leaps up and relatively promptly moves back to Ireland. Only the heart of missionary zeal and charity explains that.

Step Five: Missionary Activity Anyone surprised by this one? If you want reform and transformation, you must be willing to go out and bring the Gospel to others. It follows that the missionary must be fully conversant with the tenets and implications of their Faith. And of course, being a missionary means that one must daily grow in Charity to keep your words and deeds from being vapid mouth noises.
Is Lenten food supposed to taste this good?
I am still in the clouds following my extremely easy, quick, and delicious lunch. I made myself a portobello mushroom wrap. I sauteed some onion and garlic in just a bit of butter and olive oil. Once the onion had softened, I added thick slices of the portobello mushroom (I would actually recommend grilling the mushroom, but I don't have a grill. To sautee them brings out too much liquid that makes it sloppy to eat. Fr. Tharp informs me that to substitute for a grill, I can turn the oven on broil and quickly cook the portobello whole.). I cooked the mushroom in the mixture for some minutes, sprinkling kosher salt, fresh cracked pepper, oregano, and ground cumin on each side of the slices. I then prepared a flour tortilla, melted some deli Swiss cheese on it, placed some of the portobello and onion mixture on top, placed a piece of red leaf lettuce on top of that and rolled it up. By the way, the green of the lettuce qualifies for the "Irishness" of this post!
Lenten Reflection #7 is up
A reminder that the link "Lenten Reflections 2004" in the sidebar at right will give access to the entire series of Lenten e-conferences.

[Ooops! I forgot what Fr. Tharp posted earlier about today's posts all treating St. Patrick in some way. In that event, the above should read: "St. Patrick says, 'Lenten Reflection #7 is up'."]
A Miracle in Alva?

Last night, my foot was really bad. I mean, can't walk around the room bad. I guess the trip to Wal-Mart was too much.

This morning, I lay in bed and thought, "I'm not going to be able to get up." I was going to cancel Mass and I wouldn't be able to get anything done today. Remembering that day was the commemoration of Saint Patrick, I prayed that he would obtain a healing of my foot. I put my foot on the floor and it was a little tender, but I could walk on it.

So I guess this is a favor won by Saint Patrick. The pain is not completely gone probably because I offered the pain for the intentions of a few friends of mine.

It may be POD to say but prayer obtains all things.
Hail, Glorious St. Patrick!

This post is somewhat compulsory given Fr. H's and my background. I believe that Fr. H is full blood Irish, while I am myself, at least half Irish, thanks to contributions from both parents. Also, on my father's side, I am fractionally Welsh, which gives me a double claim to the great Saint.

Here's to you, St. Patrick. Without you, the faith would not have been permitted to spread throughout Europe. Without you, the serpents of false religion and paganism would have nested permanently on those Emerald shores. By your intercession, may the people of the British Isles recall the true and historical faith she once possessed.

Learn more about St. Patrick from the following resources:
About the man
About his writngs and prayers
Novena to St. Patrick (oops, wish I would have found this 9 days ago.)
Chaplet of Saint Patrick
Take a pilgrimage
For the Kids

Also, for today, every one of my posts today will have something to do with St. Patrick or Ireland.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

No correct answers so far!

So far this round of Name that Heresy has got folks stumped. Here are two hints. For the A. setup, you are looking for a person pre-1000 A.D. For the B. setup, pay attention the reference to Scooby Doo. It is not a throw away comment.

Also, phase one of the priests' dinner has started. Roasted two large red bell peppers in the oven and it smells great...
Happy Birthday!
A shout out to my little brother, John, whose 23rd birthday is today. He's currently on spring break in San Diego, a place I, too, have enjoyed visiting. No doubt, he's having wonderful weather. Happy Birthday, bro!
Letters to a Young Catholic

George Weigel has another book out. Read an interview about it here and a review of it here. Though I have not yet read his latest work, I am sure this book will be still more supporting evidence that George may just be an auxiliary member of the Trinity! George: Deus es! [The previous acclamation is not to be taken as a formal creedal statement in whole or in part. It does not reflect the faith of Fr. Hamilton or Fr. Tharp. Catholic Ragemonkey blog and any subsidiary it has directly inspired professes Catholic faith in the Trinity.] I am privileged to call George a friend. We came to know one another while he stayed at my seminary during his work on the biography of Pope John Paul II.

George was interviewed on the Today Show this morning by Campbell Brown. Poor Miss Brown couldn't even pronounce George's last name, saying "Wee-gul". She demonstrated almost a total lack of vocabulary for the realm of faith, along with the requisite admission that she "had been raised Catholic". In addition, what left me rolling on the floor laughing, was that the topic of faith and the rising generation of young Catholics was immediately followed by an overpowering version of "Who Let the Dogs Out?" as the next segment was about dogs! I think I suffered media whiplash once again. But, I suppose given the trait of loyalty often associated with dogs, George may not have minded sharing a stage with canines. The impoverished media...they just don't get it.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Ragemonkey Award
Fr. Sistare at the "Not So Quiet" Catholic Corner has an absolutely hysterical idea for how to ignite an appropriately raging Easter fire! Sadly, it doesn't seem that he will run out of kindling any time soon. Should he be Ragemonkey of the week?
Steps to Authentic Reform: St. Therese

This is embarrassing to admit but St. Therese was very hard reading for me. Not for the sublimity of what she wrote or experienced. I envied her. I envied her because of her family. I think that I have mentioned here that my parents are divorced. They divorced when I was very young, say, 6 months old. So when St. Therese describes her family I wanted to retch and to sit around the table with them.

On the other hand, St. Therese made me look like a wimp. If you haven't given it any thought, try this on for size. When you die of tuberculosis, you suffocate on your own blood. The lining of your lungs rips and you bleed into your lungs. And she cheerfully suffered this physical torment and a spiritual torment as well AT THE SAME TIME! Her family rooted her soundly in the love of God and love of neighbor necessary to endure all things.

And that is the great irony of St. Therese. For a little girl who joined a Carmelite convent at a young age, she is more famous than many world leaders. When the relics came to Philadelphia while I was in the seminary, the Archdiocese estimated 30,000+ people came by to see the relics. More came out to the seminary where the relics remained overnight. And from her example, she has scattered roses of conversion from her place in heaven.

Step Four: Vicarious Redemptive Suffering If we want to see reform, we must win graces for the weak and with real compassion, we must suffer with those whose faith or resolve seems to falter. That's the root of the word "compassion," to suffer with. And I am not suggesting that you start scourging yourself. Look around you. Is there a household chore you hate? Offer it up and do it cheerfully. Okay, work on the cheerfully part. Is there someone with whom you work that you would like to fire out of a cannon? Offer it up and have lunch with them.

This sort of suffering does us some good as well it should be noted. Through suffering we find ourselves detached from the world and attached to the person of Christ, by whose stripes we were healed.
Is this a good idea?

I am not the censor of the universe. But even I know when something is not a good idea. This is one of those well-intentioned but really dumb ideas.

The place is called XXXChurch and it is an effort between two Protestant Youth Ministers. Not bad, right? Porn is bad for everyone. It distorts our identity as sexual being. It manipulates the person who purchased it and the person who produced it.

But the capper is the Operation: Save the Kittens Website. Apparently, to discourage masturbation in folks, they promote the notion (tongue in cheek) that God kills a kitten every time you pleasure yourself. You know what I mean, wink wink nudge nudge.

Why is this dumb, you ask? Well...let's think this through for a minute. Has it ever occurred in the past that by making light of a serious matter that the matter is resolved? Maybe Rosa Parks should have worn a shirt that said,"Every time I am forced to sit in the back of the bus, God stomps on a puppy." The answer is NO. Why? It wasn't because you couldn't buy a T-shirt. It's because it denigrates the issue that you are bringing out. Essentially, you are saying, "This is serious enough for me to mention to you, but not serious enough for me to really engage you about." So while they wildly suggest that pastors get in the gutter and confront these matters, they throw up this little website.

And that's another thing that cheeses me off. I am in the gutter with these people. It's called Confession. Every time I hear a confession, we assume the person wants to change and move out of the gutter and come to street level. How does this happen? Through the office of priesthood the priest counsels and exhorts and finally dispenses the GRACE OF THE CROSS to the person. He encounters humanity in its worst state when he encounters it in the confessional. Furthermore, in the last year alone, I have brought up in three different homilies and multiple times in RCIA the destructive power of Porn. So where does he get off telling pastors and ministers to deal more agressively with it.

You need to check this out today. And if anyone wants to buy me a gift while you are there, I would suggest either this

or this

But remember I am a large and in charge and in control Catholic Priest. Largest size on the site is suggested.

More on this to come...
A sad upside to being a Priest

I just received word today that a classmate of mine from high school died last week after a prolonged bout with cancer. I could kick myself for not seeing him before he died. Well, if you have a moment remember Mike Kelly in your prayers.

Funny story. When Mike and I were in high school, we took Calculus AB together. He was having trouble with the subject and so we met for a tutoring session before the AP test. We met at the local Dairy Queen and worked in a booth for about 3 hours. He got a horrified look on his face when I mentioned that my mother used to work at the very Dairy Queen we were sitting in. But he was a good fellow. And I think a lapsed Catholic.

Requiescat in Pace.
Now here's a worthy cause for Stem Cell Research!

You see, dear readers, I have always been a cynic. Derive it from my hard scrabble childhood, but when people say to me, "Hey, we can do good with this," I immediately sit down and put my back against the wall. Someone's getting ready to stab me in the back.

So now, in an effort to bring stem cell research full circle, check this out. Now hairless mice, I would hope naked mole rats who have been oppressed far too long, can now be hairy like their brethren. Yeah, that's a good reason to wipe out a generation of humans.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Thank God It's Sunday!

Or at least it will be. Next week, 6 priests will be here to hear confessions for my parishioners. Would everyone who reads this blog pray for all those who will come and those who are hesitant to come to confession?

For the loverly dinner before the penance rite, this is what I am planning to serve:
Cream of Red Pepper Soup
Roasted Beet Salad on a Bed of Beet Greens
Some sort of Beef (Roast or Steaks), Pasta with lovely red sauce made by Fr. H (Shush! Ancient Italian Secret), and a vegetable medley

and for dessert...Homemade Blueberry Ice Cream with a cookie

Sounds good doesn't it...
Tanti auguri Santo Padre!
Today, Pope John Paul II becomes the third longest reigning pontiff in Church history. I can still remember his election because my kindergarten teacher, Sr. Mary Samuel, O.P., gathered us before a television to watch the news of the election. Though I can recall the death of Pope John Paul I, for all intents and purposes, Pope John Paul II is the only pope I have ever known. Viva il Papa!
Steps to Authentic Reform: St. Padre Pio

For a Sunday, this hardly seems a cheery thought but it applies to reform. I am amazed at all the crap Padre Pio had to put up with. Not just cluelessness from superiors which often thinly disguised malice, but physical and spiritual ailments. But through it all, that is how he functioned. Because He believed that God would deliver him, any problem and strife was tolerable. It simply had to be offered up.

Step Three: Perservere in the Face of Opposition. Because we believe or know the righteousness of our actions, we find opposition hard to cotton. After all, if I am correct, why don't more folks want to come along for the ride? The problem comes when you figure out what you are trying to change. Change a behavior is one thing, and plenty hard by the way. Change the heart requires repentance and conversion, as the cycle C gospel reminds us, and can't provide that for anyone. That is up to them to come up with. So work like it matters and pray like it's in God's Hands.

Only one caveat. There is a distinction between perserverence and pigheadness. Prudence sides with perserverence but not with pigheadedness.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Like an oasis in the desert
I just discovered some interesting news that a new English translation of the ordinary parts of the Holy Mass may be out as soon as early 2005. It apparently -- and finally! -- translates the response to "The Lord be with you" as "And with your spirit." The Confiteor may once again see "through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault." And I am sure there is more. Finally! Yes! I hope it is true and that the oasis my eyes are focusing on (at least in English) is not another liturgical mirage!
Yikes! Now, this is a different take on The Passion!
Look at what I stumbled upon today while trying to find the Hebrew for the inscription on Jesus' Cross. (By the way, if anyone can help with what the Hebrew would have been, please e-mail or comment.) Here are some excerpts:

"It is a Catholic movie. It is based on the traditions of Rome, rather than the Bible. It was produced, directed, acted, and endorsed by Catholics. It is a catechism and commercial for Catholicism. Rome’s history of opposition to the Bible and present practices contrary to the Bible make this a grave concern. The movie is based on the Rosary’s five sorrowful mysteries, follows the Stations of the Cross, emphasizes Jesus on a crucifix, includes many Catholic superstitions, and gives Mary a preeminent role....

"Mel used the Mass for inspiration. What is the Mass? It is a staged act where a priest turns a cracker into God and sacrifices Him again, and again, and again. It is called transubstantiation – transforming the substance of a cracker into God. Catholics assassinate their senses to believe the cracker has become God, because it still looks, tastes, smells, feels, and sounds like a cracker! It is the most abominable religious act in the world. Mel and J.C. went to Mass every day during filming to be “squeaky clean”....

"Mel requires the Tridentine Mass. Mr. Gibson is a serious Catholic. He wants Mass in Latin. Think movie! He imported priests to do it the original way. For 1500 years until 1965, Catholics only watched the stage act and admired the pictures at church, for Mass was in Latin. Mel began each day crucifying a cracker Jesus in Latin! What Baptists and Protestants once despised as blasphemy, they now think are Mel’s godly devotions. They now buy popcorn and watch a Catholic movie together … in Latin!

I bet there's plenty more where these came from!
Why not save us all some time?
As I ate a late dinner tonight after Holy Mass, I had the television on (something I largely try to avoid) and something came to me. First, I noticed a commercial for Average Joe: Adam returns. So, let me get this straight, this guy, Adam, loses out on Average Joe and now he gets his own show where the nonsense can start all over again. What a joke these shows are! Immediately following that commercial, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit began.

So, I thought, hey, why not save us all some time and maybe some Hollywood money by combining the always-ridiculous Average Joe-type shows with the ever-subdividing Law & Order shows. It is still in its seminal phases but it could go something like this:

The losers from Average Joe, rather than being voted off, are "disposed" of in various ways. Perhaps they mysteriously disappear. Perhaps they are charged with a crime, arrested, and taken away. Perhaps their bodies are found face down in a vat of pudding. Here the Law & Order folks come in to investigate the crime scene and we follow the legal developments. The method by which an Average Joe loser is disposed, would dictate which Law & Order actors would be present (Criminal Intent, Special Victims Unit, etc.).

What do you think? Have any ideas?
Hey, I have an idea!
Could this lady's community service be completed here?
Steps to Authentic Reform: St. Paul

Frequently in the New Testament, St. Paul and others commend us to imitate their faith and their behavior. For example, in 2nd Thessalonians, you find this: "For you know how one must imitate us. For we did not act in a disorderly way among you, nor did we eat food received free from anyone. On the contrary, in toil and drudgery, night and day we worked, so as not to burden any of you. Not that we do not have the right. Rather, we wanted to present ourselves as a model for you, so that you might imitate us. [2 Th 3:7-9]" Or see this from the Letter to the Hebrews: "Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith [Heb 13:7]." One last citation. Look at this from the 3rd Letter of John: "Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does what is good is of God; whoever does what is evil has never seen God[3 John 1:11]."

Living the faith well is not something we have to invent on our own. We can take from a great cloud of witnesses the example of their lives and make application to ours.

Step Two: Befriend a Saint. How does one befriend a saint? Here's how. First, get know some saints. Read their biographies and read and pray some of the prayers they composed. Second, once you find a couple of particular saints, regularly ask for their intercession on certain matters. Third, practice the virtues in the way that they did. Take a direct cue but adapt it for today.

Cancer runs rampant because it convinces other cells to malfunction, or at least, that is the theory. The Church is a Body and each of us a living stone, or said another way, cells within the body. Are you a cell that will be easily swayed to become cancerous? Let the saints fortify you against all destructive forces.

And to get you started, here are two who still influence me greatly: and
And your point is...?
I recently overheard a priest from another diocese responding to a layman's comment about his not being in clerical attire. He raised some apparently historical account of the future Pope John XXIII (Angelo Roncalli) who, at the time he was Apostolic Delegate in Turkey, faced government persecution of the Church. Clergy there at that time, so the account goes, were not permitted to wear religious garb. I guess a priest decked out in mufti apologized to the Apostolic Delegate Roncalli for his not being in clerical attire. Roncalli is said to have responded to the effect: certainly you know, Father, the clothing doesn't make the priest. The priest whose comment I heard then went on to report to the layman that Roncalli even ordered priests in Turkey at the time to offer the Holy Mass in the vernacular. Apparently, there were significant numbers of French priests in Turkey at that time and they had been proclaiming the readings and the homily in French.

First, let me comment on the vernacular before going on. You know, Roncalli's command that priests in TURKEY cease using FRENCH at Holy Mass really doesn't strike me as all that amazing. Of course, the invoking of the name of the future pope and blessed, I guess is supposed to convince us that the use of the vernacular is an 11th Commandment! Is Roncalli's order all that surprising? He was giving a pastoral direction for Turkish people who, I guess, didn't know a lick of French. Duh! And, though I haven't checked (because I really don't care), I'm not sure that Roncalli's directive meant that Latin for the ordinary parts of the Holy Mass was totally abandoned. Rather, his directive could have simply put an end to the proclaiming of the readings and homily in a language that was not that of the local people.

So, I guess this priest thought these historical stories demonstrated something for his local situation and the explanation for his own lack of clerical attire. I almost released a ragemonkey on him! I wanted to approach him and say, "And your point is? Certainly, the clothing doesn't make the person, but, uh, the last time I checked, Father, we live in a land of freedom, it is 2004, and we aren't under any overt government persecution! So, please, walk us back through 1930's Turkey, grab our hands, and help us jump with you across the enormous irrational canyon you just crossed, because I fail to see how your example provides ANY compelling explanation for your frequent inability to wear clerical attire!"

I'm not saying a priest must always and everywhere be in clerical attire. But for the most part, I believe his donning of mufti should not be a regular practice. And, don't even get me started on this priest's wacky liturgics and poor theology.
The Answer is...

No flourishes. Let's get to it.

The Answers for Last Round

A. Marcion: Many people guess Martin Luther but as I had just used him I would hope that most folks would have eliminated him. Also, the move to exclude certain books from the Bible was more about avoiding Catholic doctrine than treating them as though they were unnecessary. Now, Marcion was a different story. Marcion was a first century heretic who rejected the Old Testament wholesale and large swathes of the New Testament with it.

B. Utraquism: I think that is how you spell it. This heresy was and is becoming more popular. This heresy rejects the notion of natural concommitance in reference of the Holy Eucharist. In answering the question of how is the Lord present in the Blessed Sacrament, the Church teaches, in line with St. Thomas Aquinas, that the whole Christ is present under each of the eucharistic species. How is this possible? Because, if the Holy Eucharist is the real body of Christ, and it is a living sacrifice, then where the Body is, the Blood, Soul, and Divinity must also be present. The same applies to the Precious Blood. An utraquist would say that you imperfectly received communion if you only received under one species. Go back and re-read the original set-up.

Next Round

The rules are the same. I give the set up; you give me the error. Example A. is a particular person / Protestant Reformer / Religious Loony. Example B. is a defined heresy. And now a new feature: PRIZES! This is not a joke. The first person to answer correctly with their choice of one of two books. This week's selection are: A First Glance at Saint Thomas Aquinas: A Handbook for Peeping Thomists by Ralph McInerny or The Men and the Message of the Old Testament by Peter Ellis. Second Place will get the leftovers. The game runs until next Saturday when I will post the winner's name and contact you by email. Then you can send me the address to deliver your most excellent prize.

A. One of the co-owners of the bar comes in and stays to one of the bartenders, "You aren't pouring that beer correctly." To one of the waitresses, he says, "Lower that skirt." She responds, "It's already to my ankles." He says, "Lower it!" When the other owner of the bar comes in, he says, "Why are you doing this?" The first man says, "The Franchise Owner told me too." "Well, he's not here. How do you know?" "I have a very special relationship with the Franchise Owner, and He tells me." "If that is the case", the other owner says, "you can get out!"

B. A man walks into a bar and sits down. The bartender comes over and says, "Hey your father was just in here." The man pulls off a mask and says, "I am my father and I would have gotten away with it if it weren't for you meddling bartenders."

Friday, March 12, 2004

One Day More...
Another day, another destiny / this never ending road to Calvary...

The latest round of Name that Heresy will come to a close tomorrow. Scan through the archives and get into the game.

And next round...Prizes!
In response to Frustration
In the comments area, Jim commented on his frustration. I am glad he felt he could voice his sense of distress at the situation. It sounds like for lots of our readers there are a couple of lights in the clerical sky where they live. But I suspect Jim is not alone in this. So I offer this observation. It might not comfort. It might even be a little incendiary. So proceed with fair warning.

In the seminary and in my previous assignments, I would often get down or feel lonely or desperate. I especially felt this way when it seems like no one was on my side or I was in a particular constant screw up mode. Then while I was in seminary, in my personal prayer time before morning prayer, and I don't know what made me say this to myself, but I said, "Shane, you have one friend in the seminary. His name is Jesus Christ. In the final analysis, His is the only friendship that matters, so don't blow it. If Jesus turns some of his friends to you, that's a bonus. But you have one friend in the seminary. He is Jesus Christ."

For those who are frustrated you must fast and pray. By coming to know the only friend you have in that parish or diocese, his name is Jesus Christ, He will direct you to others who are His friends. Or His Priests. Pray that He would send someone who is His friend to be your pastor or your bishop. I know of a place that was mismanaged and mangled by a pastor for more than a decade. One of the parishioners said to me, "We have prayed for all this time for a real priest. Now we have one."
I am putting the letter to HOPE in the post today. Someone email me in two weeks and remind me to check for a response...
Can I borrow your cell phone?

I need it for George Carlin. Now he can call someone who cares?! Oh, for the days of Lenny Bruce, who worked blue, granted, but was oh, original and witty and, well, you get the picture...

George Carlin is foul and frankly, quite anti-Catholic. I don't know about Lenny Bruce. Although to Carlin's credit, his early stuff is very funny and original. Now, he sounds like an old hippie winding down...
Lenten Reflection #6 is up
Steps to Authentic Reform: St. Barnabas
For the next couple of weeks, I will be putting up some ideas I have been having about Reform in the Church. The idea is to give an idea and a way to implement it. The most important part is that they are relatively simple and can be done by anyone. Reform doesn't require a big pointy hat to make happen.

I have always found this comment from the Acts of the Apostles interesting. Acts 4:36 reads, "Thus Joseph, also named by the apostles Barnabas (which is translated "son of encouragement"), a Levite, a Cypriot by birth." Barnabas is not the man's given name, it's a nickname that describes the character of his apostolate. Therefore, it seems that encouragement is a necessary assistance to those who have apostolic ministry.

So, Step One: Encourage a good priest. As pastor, I have come across this strange paradox. Your enemies are the most outspoken. The people who support you never or rarely open their mouths. In situations where a new pastor is trying to clean up old messes, he needs all the support he can get. Today, or at least on Sunday, encourage the orthodox, excellent priests of your parish universe.

How? Compliment them on the things that they are doing that promote the Gospel and especially the Gospel of Life. If they are good homilists, compliment that. Or good counselors. Or what ever. It could be a note or a dozen cookies, although I would deliver cookies after Lent. Give the compliment now. But whatever it is, be specific. Generic comments are not as helpful.

Why? Priests are like the front line soldiers and nothing is more disheartening than run out into the battlefield of the world only to find yourself alone. Make your presence seen in the army of the Lord. I can guarantee that knowing that the people support him, this will embolden him to go for more.
Faithful in Small Matters = Faithful in Large Matters?

For those who wonder about reform in the Church and who long for it, I have got a counter culture claim to make. If you are looking at big changes and saying, "Wow, that's a good sign," forget it. Big Changes are usually cosmetic. If you are looking for reform, look for small changes. More on this when I respond to Fr. H's earlier and excellent post.

I have finally found the source of the Red Sox Curse. They eat meat on Good Friday, or at least, they encourage it. Here's the relevant link My reason for bringing this to your attention though is different. I say, "Way to Go, Boston Archdiocese." After all, Good Friday should be a day of particularly acute penance. What are people thinking? "We'll go to the 3 o'clock service and then catch the game. A beer will really help wash down that piece of bread. Too bad they didn't serve wine today. [I know that it is no longer bread or wine. Don't send me comments.] Oh, and by the way, thanks Jesus for saving me FROM NOTHING!"

But this is why I think real reform might be on the way. If people pay attention to the details of the faith, there is a reasonable assumption that the major issues of the faith will be taken seriously. Just call me a starry eyed optimist.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

I'm at a total loss
I really don't think I am terribly naive or ridiculously optimistic, but certain things simply are not conceivable on the radar of my world vision. Fr. Tharp can tell you how very often we have a conversation in which I express surprise, outrage, disbelief at something (not necessarily always church related). Usually, after I spit out whatever I find shocking, once I get the issue out on the table, he usually says something like, "And you find that surprising?" And then I know it is another one of those conversations where I must appear really naive.

Before I reveal the latest thing to bring out my surprise, allow me to direct words to any reader who may be a current parishioner: understand my words are motivated from a shepherd's heart who really fears for his people, especially for the younger generation. I do not intend this post to be a blanket condemnation of any parent or religious education teacher here. Sadly, I guess I am realizing, this is probably not a unique situation. Okay, on to the meat...[Dope! It's Lent].

Last evening I led our 7th and 8th grade youth group through the Stations of the Cross. They have two very dedicated teachers. It always impresses me when RE teachers ask a priest to spend time with their classes and suggest pious prayers and devotions. So I happily gathered in the church with the kids. I had prepared a brief statement about the devotion of the Stations, explaining a bit of its history and the notion of a spiritual pilgrimage. I gave a general run down of what we do at each station and practiced with them singing the Stabat Mater (in English). Now, I recognized a good portion of these kids (sadly, I can't say that of them all) as ones who attend Mass. Of the group, only three had ever been exposed to the Stations before. That is sad enough. It got worse.

As we began with the first station, I discovered many of these kids didn't know what the direction "genuflect" meant in the Station booklet. They had no idea what the word meant! It is something we learn from a very early age, something we do each and every time we enter and leave church, and yet they had no idea what the word meant? How is this possible? If these were small tikes, I could understand. These were 7th and 8th graders. It is simply unthinkable to me that one could grow up Catholic, be raised Catholic, and not know the word "genuflect" and the accompanying action it calls for. I was utterly astounded.

It made me re-think not just everything I had said to them that evening, but almost the entirety of my share in Christ's teaching office. I mean I had just spoken briefly about spiritual pilgrimage and Franciscans developing traditions and these kids don't even know what a genuflection is. What incomprehensible niceties the people must be hearing when I homilize (no jokes, please!) because I assumed we at least had genuflection down. How much lower can I set the bar? Can it even be truthfully said, in any sense, that these kids are being raised "Catholic"? And please don't think I am pointing fingers at parents who do all they can, only to have children leave the faith, but if I were a Catholic parent and my teenage child didn't know what a genuflection was...I would be worried for my salvation. I certainly knew we had lost generations to extremely poor catechesis, but I thought we at least had the genuflection down.
What a thought!
Just when I thought that God would simply permit California to fall off into the sea, there appears to be some semblance of rationality and order in that part of the country. Here's the headline.

I recognize it is a small win. But a necessary change of direction needed to stem the flow of those who assumed it was a done deal.

But here's a question for the con lawyers out there. By adapting the definition of marriage and placing the civil expression of marriage in direct contravention of religious definition of marriage, doesn't this violate both the establishment and free exercise clauses of the First Amendment? I mean, I am not a lawyer, but I could play one on T.V. You can see, the big beard, the Armani suit. Have your people call my people.
Miss Me?
Sorry to be away for the last couple o' days. Had my priest support group and then preached a penance rite in Duncan, OK. Best part of Duncan was reconciling a person to the Church who had been away for 60 YEARS! Man, Grace is Awesome!

Back on the letter to HOPE, thanks for all the positive feedback. Yes, these people are sneaky and really need a good solid shake. Some of you wondered what "perichoretic" meant. Perichoresis is the technical theological term in Greek for the interpentration and circumincession of the persons of the Holy Trinity. It is meant to describe the complete gift of self and return of that gift within the Godhead. Someone told me once that it derives from a type of Greek circle dance where the dancers move in and out of the ring, hence the connection to the Trinity. However, my systematics prof at St. Charles in Philly dismissed this.
Link update
I just noticed that Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S., has moved his blog, The New Gasparian, over to St. Blog's. Our link has been updated; yours should be too. His old address on blogspot will remain as an archive of material up to this date.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

And while I'm at it [Part III]

Shouldn't the animals at least go to Confession before receiving Holy Communion? Look at the sin we find in the animal kingdom. The drug abuse alone among roving bands of adolescent animals is truly disturbing. What else could they be getting into that might separate them from the Sacraments?
And for the record [Part II]
I am anticipating the response to my post directly below and taking a preemptive strike. For the record, I am an animal lover. I have no problem with pet blessings (outside, not in church) on the Feast of St. Francis. I took Francis of Assisi as my Confirmation name. I have a picture of my late dog with Santa -- one framed and one in my wallet. I cried when my beloved dog died (which I don't expect to see in heaven). So, please don't paint me a cold-hearted animal hater. But a clear line needs to be drawn between valuing a pet according to its place in the hierarchy of being and craziness that extends to pets rational capacities and even excessive medical care that we don't manage to give to certain impoverished persons in society!
At what age should pets receive Holy Communion? [Part I]
Thanks to Fr. Sibley's blog for alerting me to this. This is so crazy! Talk about the wrong focus for worship. Uh, hello, worship is, first and foremost, directed toward GOD!!! GOD!!! NOT DOG!!! Nor any other creature, whether angelic, human, animal, vegetable, mineral, etc. AAAAAGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!

The article seems to suggest both that pets are given "Holy Communion" and that they are blessed in the distribution line. Lord, I hope it is, at most, the latter! Of course, since the places that do these pet services probably don't have a Holy Communion that is Christ's true Body and Blood, I suppose I should tone down the raging. NOT!!!

I knew the article would be chuck full of poor theology and utter stupidity. And I found it in some unexpected places. Here are some examples:

"For devout pet lover Kathleen Eickwort, of Ocala, Fla., these developments are welcome. When her dog, Sarge, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in June, she made religion a part of his treatment. In addition to chemotherapy, Sarge received a 20-minute visit from the rector of Ms. Eickwort's Episcopal church, who touched him and prayed for his recovery. Sarge also went to church twice. Now, his cancer is in remission." The dog underwent chemotherapy?! OH, please! Make Sarge comfortable for as long as you reasonably can, and then give him some sleepy juice! I mean, come on!

"Mary Wilkinson was happy that she had brought Purr Box Jr. in to be blessed for his digestive problems. Now, she says she plans to come back each month, rotating her 11 other cats." Uh, yeah, can anyone say nut case? TWELVE freakin' cats?! Could twelve cats in one domicile possibly be the origin of Purr Box, Jr.'s problems? I don't know, I'm just thinking the putrid stench of the litter boxes for 12 cats can't possibly aid one's digestion!

And finally,
"Last summer, a member of St. Francis Episcopal Church in Stamford began bringing her King Charles Spaniel on Sunday mornings; soon, several other attendees were regularly bringing their dogs." Couldn't anyone have told this person to STOP?! I mean, I suppose what we have here is the canine equivalent to Call to Action or Voice of the Faithful -- changing things by simply taking authority that is not theirs. OH, gosh, excuse me, that should have been "Bark of the Faithful!"
Lenten Reflection #5 is up
In Tribute To Our 5,000th Visitor

We here at Catholic Ragemonkey never anticipated the many and varied reactions our blog would receive. Only weeks ago, the notion of thousands of people putting up with Fr. Tharp's hostile foaming at the mouth, in order to read my humor, commentary, and inspired reflections seemed far fetched at best. But here we are: 5,000 visitors. We thank you, dear readers. I suppose we erroneously presumed our blog's hostile take over would be more along this pace. As proof that there has not been any Floridian-like tampering with the visitor count, we offer the above photo of a protest now taking place outside of Catholic Ragemonkey Headquarters. While we are flattered by the desire of some visitors to vote more than once, we refuse to lower our ethical standards.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

It's mine, mine, mine...
I just mailed my LAST car payment! It's mine, mine, mine...the P-R-E-C-I-O-U-S!!! Okay, calling a 2000 Buick Regal with 85,000 miles on it "the precious", is probably a bit much. But it is mine! Now if it can only remain road-worthy for several more thousand miles...
From the "More Rage, Less Monkey" file...

In a previous post, Fr. Hamilton shared with you, our faithful readers, a letter he was sending to a group called HOPE, that is active in the Archdiocese. This group is VOTF and Call to Action lite. Same agenda, same nonsense. The bishop has gone so far as to prevent them from meeting on diocesan property, but I am still waiting for the throat crushing.

Anyway, so that you would not think that I am a big wuss, I decided to post my letter. Mine is of a different tenor than Fr. H's. Mine is more Rage, less Monkey. As someone invested with the teaching office of Christ due to my ordination to the Priesthood, I feel it is my obligation to shake people ever now and again.

Comments are welcome, but I am taking this draft to the bishop to look over. So it will probably will go out on Friday.

March 9, 2004

Dear HOPE:

I read with interest your recent letter to the priests of the Archdiocese. I apologize for not responding sooner. That is how the life of a busy pastor goes.

Frankly, I was a little nervous about responding to your letter. I was not, as your letter implied, nervous that the ordinary would find out about this communication. I was nervous that my acknowledgment would lend credence to both your proposal and your methods. Permit the opportunity to comment on both.

As to the methods of this survey, I cannot express how offended I am. Your suggestion that I need the cloak of anonymity to approach my archbishop concerning controversial matters is simply astounding. If you are not aware of this, but on the day of my ordination to the diaconate, I made a promise of respect and obedience to my archbishop. I renewed that promise the night I was ordained a priest of Jesus Christ. For the last three years, and again this year, I intend to renew that same promise of obedience and respect to my archbishop. People who respect one another say things to each other directly, face to face. I don’t need an anonymous survey to discuss things with him. I can bring any concern, problem, or difficulty to him at any time.

As to the purpose of this survey, again I am offended by your action. If a group of my brother priests in Milwaukee want to open a discussion concerning mandatory celibacy, I can respect that. I might not agree but I can respect that. They must live by this regulation and therefore, they are the ones to open that discussion. But sir, I don’t know you from Adam. You don’t share the hardships and joys of the office of priesthood with me or my brothers in this diocese. I am shocked that you would make this proposal for me. It would be equivalent in my mind if I opened a discussion on your behalf to permit polygamy. This is why, I suspect, that you and the group you represent do not have the best of motives or intentions when it comes to this topic.
As my sainted mother used to say, “Only thieves and thugs hang out in the shadows.”

As to the question of a discussion of mandatory celibacy, I found this most amusing. What do you think I did with those seven years of formation in the seminary? Do you think that the question of living chaste celibacy a.) never crossed my mind and b.) never was discussed? Every year when I was in the seminary, we discussed, prayed about, and practiced this discipline and I have come to love the gift and charism of celibacy. We don’t need the discussion because it has already taken place in the intimate depths of the soul.

A discussion of mandatory celibacy is not needed; a renewal of its meaning is. Divesting the Western Church of this charism would destroy the iconic character of ministerial priesthood. The ministerial priest is a three fold icon. He is first the icon of Christ the Bridegroom. His celibacy chastity signs in his flesh the covenantal love of Christ for His Church, for whom he gave up his life. He is also the icon of Christ the High Priest. By his celibacy, he signs in his flesh a dedication of his life, above and before all else, in service to God. Through his configuration to Christ both through the sacramental character and an outward conformity, the ministerial priest is the perfection of the priesthood of Aaron and the Levites. He is the icon of Christ, our eschatological future. In heaven there will be no marriage or giving in marriage. When one looks at a celibate ministerial priest, or a consecrated religious, he should see that glory of our future where all will be directed to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, in a perichoretic gift of self.

In closing, if any of my comments need further elaboration I would be more than happy to meet with you or your group and spell out these matters in greater detail.

In Christ, Our True Savior,

Rev. Shane Tharp
Pastor, Sacred Heart, Alva.

cc: Most Reverend Eusebius J. Beltran
Pass Out the Cigars! New Bishops Are Born!

Or at least being reassigned. Yes, I have been checking the Vatican website for information about the appointment of bishops to open sees. And no, I haven't sent the order form for my miter just yet. But it is filled out and sitting on my desk should the call come.

Anyway congratulations to the following (arch)dioceses: Ad multos annos!

WORCESTER, MA : S.E. Mons. Robert Joseph McManus
OGDENSBURG, NY : Mons. Robert Joseph Cunningham
SPRINGFIELD, MA : S.E. Mons. Timothy Anthony McDonnell
KANSAS CITY-SAINT JOSEPH, MO (Co-adjutor) :Mons. Robert W. Finn

Monday, March 08, 2004

That mischievous spirit
As Fr. Tharp and I explored the wild, wacky world of sedevacantist schismatics, that mischievous spirit came over me. I viewed the photo gallery for the "true Catholic Church" and I just couldn't resist. On the home page for "His Holiness, Pope Pius XIII," I noticed an option to e-mail the "Papal Secretary." So, I devised the following e-mail (it may only make sense if you visit their site and look at the photos, especially here, and here):
8 March 2004

To Whom It May Concern:

I have just visited your web site and I have viewed your many wonderful photos.

What an exciting time this must be for the true Catholic Church! And I can see from your photo gallery that the Holy Spirit must surely be with you. I give you that compliment because I can tell that you have responded to the promptings of the Second Vatican Council. It is abundantly evident from your photos that you have been moved toward the "noble simplicity" in liturgical rites, called for in the Council's magnificent document on the Sacred Liturgy. You are to be congratulated on simplifying rites, using less grandiose sanctuaries, and bringing the liturgy so close to the people, it is actually in their living rooms! This is truly a fruit of the Council. May you continue to serve as credible witnesses to the Second Vatican Council. May the rest of the Church follow!

And I was graced with this response:

I must say that yours is a very odd email. If you read the website, even cursory reading, you would know that V2 invented a new non-Catholic religion. The Catholic Church under Pope Pius XIII has condemned V2 and its leaders and its fruits. Your email implies that the Catholic Church is WRONG that is.

In subsequent reading of your email, it appears that you have written this as a parody, perhaps as an attempt to mock God's one true Church. If so, may God have mercy on you.

Fr. Lyons

A parody? Moi? You think so?
Genius and a Happy Life Oft Meet Not

I was saddened to read of the untimely death of Spalding Gray. Mr. Gray was a very talented author, actor, and monologist. I became acquainted with his work in the movie, "Swimming to Cambodia," where Gray tells the story of his part in the movie, "The Killing Fields." He had a passionate, almost neurotic, obsession with observation and language.

Of course with genius came some self destructive tendencies, and these apparently got the better of him. May he rest in peace.
New Ecumenical Efforts

As a convert to the Catholic Faith, ecumenism is, almost, by nature, a subject of interest to me. "After all, I was able to scale the fence why can't they", I say. But I am dubious that excepting the Orthodox and certain sedevadicanist groups we will see the traditional arm of Protestantism return to the Church en masse. So here at CRM, I would like to introduce you to one of my favorite anti-Popes, Pope Pius XIII. Here's a picture of him at his election.

Looks good, right? Of course running the new papal states can be expensive, so I would like to suggest to "His Holiness" that he think of creating a "brand". All of the products could include the word "Papal" as part of the franchise.

Take a look at this picture from the burning of the ballots of his election.

What does that remind you of? It reminds me of pancake syrup. So the ad line might be, It's so wonderful / to start your day / the Papal Maple Syrup way. Then a shot of thick wonderful maple syrup pouring over pancakes or waffles. The announcer could explain how early each morning the "Holy Father" goes out with the only priest he has ordained, Fr. Robert Lyons, to gather each golden drop of maple sap for their syrup. They would wear a feriola and a gremial because face it, the feriola is so darned pratical and the gremial would be wonderfully functional in this case. Of course, you would have to run a separate ad for Lent so that no bacon or sausage would be featured. After the syrup spreads over the plate, the announcer voice comes back on, saying Papal Maple Syrup. It's infallibly delicious and indefectably good!"

For more pseudo-pontifical hijinks, surf over to True Catholic. But if it starts making sense, lay down, take a shot of bourbon and place the Catechism on your head.
It's Either This or That!

Please check out this picture from the Kerry Campaign. I picked it up at the Drudge Report. Here's a link to the associated article.

Now, where do you think he is speaking? It looks like a church. So here is today's this or that. Either this is a case of someone exploiting the DUMBEST Catholic priest in town or that John Kerry loves his Catholic Faith so much that he will spend Sunday in a Protestant Church. Either way, the U.S. loses.
What's a priest to do?
I was really flabbergasted. Back in December a young Hispanic boy came to the rectory door, a running truck with tinted windows was waiting for him in the parking lot. I assume the truck contained a parent, probably his father. The boy was looking for some youth meeting of dancers in preparation for the celebration of the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Since I was not aware of where the meeting was taking place, I led him over to the parish hall. And then I saw it.

On the gate of the truck bed was an ENORMOUS white Playboy Bunny. I couldn't believe it. I mean, folks, you can't miss this thing -- it takes up the entire center portion of the truck gate. The driver, presumably a male parishioner, drives around town advertising pornography and, most likely, his addiction to it. And, I guess he sees nothing wrong with it. After all, anyone who sees the truck can't miss this ad. Furthermore, I can only assume as much since he must feel comfortable parking this truck in the church parking lot. He even brings his son to parish events in it. I can't imagine driving around town with such a thing on my car, much less actually coming to church and parking my car in the lot.

And, the next concern I have as a priest, is that young boy. What is he learning? How likely is he to grow in holiness, to be serious about discipleship and conversion, when he realizes (if he hasn't already) what that bunny means?!

I don't know what to do. It seems like something should be said. The next time I see that car parked somewhere in town, I think I am going to find the driver, ask him if he is a parishioner, and then question him on the bunny.
Wait a minute! Is that...
...Andrea Bocelli and Celine Dion or maybe Josh Groban and Charlotte Church at the parish penance service? One would think so, considering that the popular song "The Prayer" was used after the first reading at one parish I visited to assist with Confessions. No, it was not my parish, or Fr. Tharp's. By the way, I really like the song -- I sing along with it when I hear it -- but in NON-LITURGICAL settings, please!

When will the madness end? How long, O Lord...?
A welcome surprise

Well, kids, I didn't think I would have anything to blog about. Silly Rabbit. Thanks to Jeff, the Curt Jester and Victor at Et Cetera for this. This is going to push up my pitching of the series based on my fantasy life as a secret agent, "Fr. Tharp, Priest of Rome." I thought Dave was working on the PITCH but SOMEONE dropped the ball...(Just a jest, we have been kicking that around the office for a couple of years now.)

And speaking of rabbits...this is both strange and wonderful.
No Soliciting
What does that mean? It is clearly posted at the entrance to this town's movie theatre complex. Would you think it ought to apply to a local Baptist pastor handing out his ecclesial community's fliers WITHIN the theatre complex, directly in front of the entrance to the particular screen showing "The Passion?" But apparently that is what happened. A seminarian from this parish informed me the pastor was handing out fliers as people were exiting the screening of "The Passion."

I have a good mind to call the theatre, not to lodge a formal complaint, but simply to ask when I may come and invite movie patrons to Stations of the Cross -- assuming the manager would want to offer equal time to all of the clergy in town. If nothing else, I am sure my assumption of equal opportunity would alert the manager to enforce his own policy before things get out of hand with every minister requesting an opportunity. If it weren't for the fact that the manager gave that special free screening to local clergy, I would probably call him.

Of course, but the real issue is what I see as taking advantage of people who have just had an intensely emotional (and spiritual?) experience. Perhaps my cradle Catholicism a priori sets me against such street corner, doorbell ringing, typically Protestant methods of "evangelization." But isn't there something objectively wrong with this too?
Graces in the Panhandle
Last night was my parish's Lent Penance Rite, where we invite many priests to come and assist with Confessions. The priests represented five states: Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado! Yes, ministry out here in the far western reaches of Oklahoma requires cooperation with priests from other states who are nearer to us than the rest of our own archdiocese. Fr. Tharp was also here to assist; I will return the favor at his parish in a few weeks.

Considering penitents, the service was well-attended. I know I heard about 19 confessions. Assuming that was about average (I know some priests heard more, some less), then we had at least 200, maybe upwards of 225, people in attendance.

I had not one native English speaker come to me. I wasn't expecting that. Certainly a large part of my work in this parish is Hispanic ministry -- Hispanics are the majority of our parishioners. A significant portion of that majority speak no English whatsoever. If truth be told, Hispanics are also the reason this town has not dried up. They come here for jobs, largely at the local hog farms and the pork processing plant, and they prop up the population since, by and large, Anglos aren't reproducing.

Though I say the Holy Mass in Spanish and do Baptisms too, I try to avoid confession because I don't have much conversational ability. I can read the language perfectly, without an American accent, but that's because I am reading from a book or text. When it comes to speaking and understanding what someone is saying to me, it is much harder. But I guess that so many of these people have seen me offer the Holy Mass in their language, they naturally assume I must be able to handle it. I didn't do half bad, but it isn't a very comfortable experience for me. Most of the people who came to me last night were Hispanic children making their first Confession. In retrospect, it doesn't surprise me they came to me. I had spoken personally to each class in preparation for this Sacrament to explain what to do, to show them the Confessional, and to answer their questions. I am sure since they saw me in an other-than-Mass setting, I was a bit more of a familiar, friendly face. I don't write any of this to say I regret last night, it's just another one of those experiences I never thought I would have. I suppose their is one regret: I wish more of our Anglos would come to Confession.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Teach me how to pray!
Following the prompting of at least two gospels from this past week and today's account of Jesus ascending the Mount of the Transfiguration, my homily this week was about prayer. Specifically, I think a lesson we can learn from Peter's being too quick to speak and to plan and to do, is precisely what the voice from the cloud said: "This is my chosen Son; listen to him." And then Peter, John, and James, "fell silent." We too need to go away to a quiet place, to listen and to be silent. Lord knows we provide ourselves enough distractions in prayer (a problem the Catechism calls a habitual difficulty, cf. CCC 2729).

Anyway, thinking about prayer and the constant work to grow in its exercise, tenderly calls to mind what I think is my first memory of prayer. It comes from a prayer card given to my Holy Child Academy Kindergarten class in Memphis, TN, by our teacher, Sr. Mary Samuel, O.P., of the Nashville Dominicans, now one of the four foundresses of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. She can be seen on the far right of this picture. Here is the prayer:
Lovely Lady dressed in blue-----
Teach me how to pray!
God was just your little boy,
Tell me what to say!

Did you lift Him up, sometimes,
Gently on your knee?
Did you sing to Him the way
Mother does to me?

Did you hold His hand at night?
Did you ever try
Telling stories of the world?
O! And did He cry?

Do you really think He cares
If I tell Him things-----
Little things that happen? And
Do the Angels' wings

Make a noise? And can He hear
Me if I speak low?
Does He understand me now?
Tell me----for you know.

Lovely Lady dressed in blue
Teach me how to pray!
God was just your little boy,
And you know the way.

Care to share your first memory of prayer?
Killing me softly with his song
And who is he? Tom Conry. It is the start of the second week of Lent and it finally happened. Ashes -- the song! If truth be told, it should really be "killing me swiftly." Aaaaagggghhhhh!

See Fr. Keyes' treatment of this at the New Gasparian. Also, an article by George Weigel on sacred music is quite good, as are most things George does.

The other thing that kills me is the replacement of the responsorial psalm chosen by the Church with songs adapted from or loosely based upon a psalm. What happens when I, as the homilist, want to make hefty reference to the psalm, only to have it pulled out from underneath my homily like some worn rug? It reminds me how much the priest needs to be involved in clearly training those who assist in any fashion, as well as training the whole parish, about the very essence of the Holy Mass.

And this is not the fault of the laity. I believe priests have been for many decades now largely laissez-faire regarding the Sacred Liturgy. The laity who are paid or who volunteer to plan and play music are often just thrown into the project with no theological or pastoral training. They do the best they can and they presume, and rightly so, that hymns found in approved books are fair game. Sadly, I'm not impressed with many of the contemporary choices in approved hymnals. I think priests need to be far more involved in all aspects of the planning of the Sacred Liturgy. We need to be far more discriminating regarding musical selections. And please, please, do not withhold Latin from parishes until Lent, promoting the idea that using the Church's sacred treasury of Latin is some sort of "penance."

Psalm 74 has become my cry when considering the ruins of what has been the rape and pillage of the Sacred Liturgy, lo these many decades.

"Turn your steps toward the utter ruins, toward the sanctuary devastated by the enemy. Your foes roared triumphantly in your shrine; they set up their own tokens of victory. They hacked away like foresters gathering boughs, swinging their axes in a thicket of trees. They smashed all your engraved work, pounded it with hammer and pick. They set your sanctuary on fire; the abode of your name they razed and profaned. They said in their hearts, "Destroy them all! Burn all the shrines of God in the land!" (Ps. 74:3-8).

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Dentist Office, Bank, or Church?

There is a reasonable possibility that sometime in my priestly ministry here in the Archdiocese that I will be asked to found a parish and build its church. When I think of this, I get a twisting pain in my gut because I would want a little Chartes on the prairie and the parish would probably want a little dentist office. And then as I prepared my notes for my Catechism class, I found this paragraph in the Catechism.

"(#1186) Finally, the church has an eschatological significance. To enter into the house of God, we must cross a threshold, which symbolizes passing from the world wounded by sin to the world of the new Life to which all men are called. The visible church is a symbol of the Father's house toward which the People of God is journeying and where the Father "will wipe every tear from their eyes." Also for this reason, the Church is the house of all God's children, open and welcoming."

I think that if anyone was going to be on the building committee they would have to understand that to build a church is to make a statement of faith. And the parish would have to be willing to carry debt for a long time.

I don't think I have a point other than did this mentality expressed in #1186 find expression in your church?
Overheard while in seminary....

(During an ecclesiology lecture)

Msgr. Richard Malone: "Gentlemen, every heresy lasts only about 500 years. So you will have to be ready to pick up the pieces when the Lutherans and Episcopalians self-destruct."

(That's my kind of ecumenism!)
What is that flushing sound?

Well, just when you thought the Episocopalians couldn't make any more strange decisions, here's a new one. Apparently, they have erected the first Internet Parish.

The best part is the quote from the mastermind of this strategy. "I-church is different from a local congregation. Although i-church is a sacramental community, there is no obligation on members to meet together," said the church's website. Uhhhh...what? A sacrament is predictated on a visible sign. If people are not getting together where is the necessary visible sign?

That cinches it. I am sending a letter to the bishop tommorrow requesting that he permit a couple of city parishes to celebrate the Anglo-Catholic Rite. It is obvious that well-meaning Episcopalians are going to be headed for the door sooner or later. It would behoove us to make the transition easier.
Chimp Change? Rumors of Coup May Be True After All...

Since the ouster of ex-priest Jean Bertrand Aristide from Haiti, I have come to realize that position as Gorilla Presidente might be in danger. I should never have taken advice from a Howard Dean staffer on how to post comments about comments. But that isn't the only problem. After all, there are enemies everywhere...

Then I spotted this Article at Yahoo! News which I thought spelled my demise. Apparently, there is CHIMP CHANGE on the horizons. But thankfully, for once, it was not all about me.

If I am ousted, I can still find comfort in some lovely jungle elsewhere. "Don't Cry For Me, O Blogsphere. The truth is I'll never leave you. Although it may get harder, for me to log on, I am a Ragemonkey, and always will be..."

If I could just get my hair into that blasted chignon.
Answers to Last Round / Welcome to the Next Round

Answers to the Last Round

A.Joseph Smith: I really struggled with how to give enough information without just telling you what the answer was. The Decaf was a dead giveaway.

B.Donatism: The issue in donatism is that the effectiveness of the sacrament is contingent upon the worthiness of the minister. This lead to the great distinction between ex opere operato, by the work worked, and ex opere operantis, by the work working. The easy way to understand this distinction is think in terms of objective and subjective sacrament life. The objective nature is operato and the sacrament is the sacrament. The subjective nature is operantis and this is how the person experiences the celebration of the sacrament or their personal reception of the graces of the sacrament.

On to the Next Round: Get ready...Name That Heresy!

In each example, the set up describes, to the best of its ability, a particular heresy or heretic. The A. example is a heretic, protestant reformer, or religious loony. The B. example is a defined heresy. You have a week. Please leave your answers in the comments area and this one's a little harder.

A. A man walks into a bar and begins to rip pages out of the menu. Then he goes behind the bar and throws out specific brands of beer. The bartender, enraged, comes up behind, grabs him, and loudly demands, "What the #&@$%$%^ are you doing?" The Man says, "It's all right. They aren't necessary any more."

B. A man returns from the bar and kisses his wife on the cheek. She asks him, "Did you drink a beer?" "Yep," the man says. "And did you eat some peanuts?" "No," the man replies. "Well, then you didn't go to the bar at all."
Our Operant Philosophy

We here at CRM want people to understand why we do what we do. I think this sums it up nicely.

Friday, March 05, 2004

That Orange Jumpsuit Will Clash With Everything!

I actually like Martha Stewart. Is she a nice person? That is left open to some interpretation. But sadly, the case of the new Queen of Mean (move aside Leona Helmsley) has been resolved. Guilty on four counts. This means jail time and perhaps the collapse of her empire. After all, like a plastic surgeon who operates on himself, her face and image were and are the brand. Once the stink is on, it is impossible to wash off.

But I find Martha a curious target. Ken Lay and others like him walked away from the wreckage of other peoples' finances with literal golden parachutes. But the oppobrium that is saved up for Martha surprises me. Actually, it doesn't.

Martha Stewart knew that if she was going to make it in the business world she was going to have to have two things to make a success of it: 1. a vision and 2. unswerving will. When men have those qualities, they are called innovators and leaders. When women demonstrate it, the name used for them commonly doesn't occur outside of a kennel.

So long, Martha. We'll keep the stew warm until you get back. At least now everything in the prison will finally match those tacky jumpsuits. Orange, really!
You have 12 Hours Remaining

You have 12 hours remaining for this round of "Name That Heresy." Round Three was well responded to. But it is obvious to me that we have a very literate readership. Exxxxxcellent.

Here's the link. Leave your answer here or there, it doesn't matter.

P.S. The hoof is better but still dragging it around.
Techmonkey Dave here. Did you know Father Tharp got a new license plate this week?

I had nothing to do with this
Okay, let me set the stage. I live in a small town in the spacious Oklahoma Panhandle, also known as "No Man's Land." Folks, we are way out here! Take a look at a map of Oklahoma and you'll see the town of Guymon in that long narrow part of the state on the left side. Much to my delight, our locale recently took a step toward more swanky living. In the new and expansive Hallmark store is a coffeshop, set off in the corner, painted with warm colors, together with a fireplace and nice brick hearth. I'm thinking of beginning my fireside catechetical chats there!

Today, I had to buy several sympathy cards and so I decided to take my first test of the coffee shop. As I walked into the coffee area, I noticed their sign advertising the drink of the day: The Spicy Monkey Latte! I had nothing to do with this; but I did try it. I am not much of a fan of the artificial flavor syrups in coffee. I pretty much just go for unadulterated java drinks. The silly syrups can stay on the shelf as far as I am concerned. But, of course, given this blog, I felt compelled to try the Spicy Monkey. It wasn't bad, a nice Lavazza Italian coffee with a dose of gingerbread and coconut flavoring.

So, what will be next? Will I be compelled to buy Samsonite?
I guess you could say 'He had a hand in making her salad...'

From the gross but true files comes another reason to watch carefully what you are eating.

The important thing is would that break the abstinence for Lent?
Lenten Reflection #4 is up
Ancillary Blogging Benefits

I hobbled about the rectory long enough to check my email (none - a mixed blessing), check out Michael O'Brien's artwork on line (more on that later), and make some lunch.

In tribute to our co-blogger, I dug through the archives until I found the recipe he posted pre-Lent for Cream of Mushroom Soup. My review: Blogging is mmmmmm Good. He says that the soup will actually improve over time, and I believe it. As flavors unite and marry the silky creamy texture can only get better. Right now as I sip it at the computer, the flavor reminds me of good white sauces from Italian restaurants where the flavor lays on the tongue to be savored for several minutes after the bite is swallowed. It is a little on the "high-fat" side of the equation. Fr. provides some useful modifications, but I may take a whirl at changing the recipe myself. I only made one minor modification. When I doubled the recipe I managed to triple the amount of mushrooms. So mine is very chunky. Also, I think when I made it I had the heat too low. Aim more for the medium side of low if you are using an electric stove top.

Here's the link for soup if you want more info. Here's the Recipe:

Fr. Stephen Hamilton's Lent-tacular Cream of Mushroom Soup
1/4 Cup Butter
3/4 Cup Green Onion, chopped and including tops
2 Cups Fresh Mushrooms, chopped
2 Tablespoons Flour
1 Cup Half & Half (No fat type could be substituted)
1 Cup Chicken Broth (Low sodium type could be sub'd)
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/8 teaspoon Pepper

I usually double the above recipe. I also tend to cut back slightly on the amount of onions. In a large skillet or soup pot cook chopped green onions in butter over low heat until tender. Add the chopped mushrooms and cook the mixture, stirring for several minutes (2-5 min). Add flour to the mixture and cook, stirring several minutes (3-5 min). Remove the pan from the heat. Add chicken broth and half & half in a steady stream, whisking. Put back on heat and bring to a boil over moderate heat. Simmer, stirring for several minutes (at least 5). Add salt and pepper. The flavor seems to come out much better if it is not eaten immediately, but made ahead of time and reheated later.