Sunday, March 28, 2004

A further comment about the Prodigal Son, only a week late

I was on the phone with another priest of my diocese who will be permitted to live if my regime comes to power. He made an interesting observation about the prodigal son parable that I had never noticed.

Notice that each major character is associated with an animal. The prodigal son is associated with the swine. Why this would be is no big surprise. Swine are considered unclean and what better way to suggest the young man's denigration than to associate him with this unclean animal. The father is associated with the fattened calf. In temple worship, the fattened calf was used in communion sacrifices, sacrifices in which part of the sacrifice, the fat and other innards, went back to God, another part went to the priest as his inheritance, and the remaining was shared as the sign of the unity of the offerer to God. The elder son is associated with the goat. The goat, I think, was used only for one sacrifice, the scapegoat.

Now follow me on this one...The prodigal son is mired in sin represented by the swine. The father restores the boy to full sonship as represented by the communion sacrifice of a fattened calf. The elder son wants to pass judgment and misses his own role and place in the father's house. He has only one place, associated with the goat. He will either join the celebration or he will be sent into the darkness. The scapegoat is selected from between two goats one to three years old. The scapegoat bears all the sins of the people and is driven out into the darkness. The other goat is used in sacrifice.

The offer is clear then. The scribes and Pharisees are like this elder son. They can enter into their Father's joy and welcome sinners who are reconciled to God through Christ. Or they can go out into the darkness, back to Azazeal.

I am not proposing this as Gospel truth. It still needs a little research. I'll keep you posted on my efforts.
Where in the world is Father Hamilton?

Like the computer game of yesterday, you too can track Fr. Hamilton's movements. If I am not much mistaken, he is accompanying a trip to Conception Seminary College in Missouri for prospective seminarians. I think we gotten a few new candidates from this little project so that's a good thing.

Then he will return to Oklahoma City and assist at a penance rite, but you will have to ask what Barney has to do with it. I'm not telling.

So he is out and about. Don't worry, faithful readers of the Lenten meditations. He has promised that he has squirreled these away on the computer so they will appear on schedule.

Me? I am at home getting ready to either rent a movie or watch the last five episodes of "Band of Brothers." I haven't made up my mind yet.
No sign of HOPE

A week or so ago, I posted a letter that I wrote to a group called HOPE operating here in Oklahoma. I left open the possibility of conversation on the point of celibate priesthood but alas no takers. Here's a link to Fr. Hamilton's comments and a link to mine.

That's what I love about these types of organizations. They are all talk, no action. Although the letter made it pretty clear what I thought of them. If I hear anything, I will let you know.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Just a Point of Silence

Since Athanasius over at Summa Contra Mundum (link below) mentioned that we were ferocious bloggers at CRM, I gave you a little break. However, tomorrow that will change. So tonight, catch up on our archive.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Book Club On!

Okay, I've thought about it and we are going to experiment. Old Oligarch gave some good ideas, but let's just do a test run. Thanks to everyone who commented and gave me some ideas for the long run.

So the new Book Club Blog is: A Dusty, Sunny Corner. Our first book will be announced there and the first post concerning the selected book will go up on April 1st. No Joke. I will also try to give a reading schedule with each new book. Follow that and you will keep up with everything. Then every Friday, I will make a comment about the section we should have read in last week. Comments area will be for agreement, disagreement, and development. If a particularly good thread develops, additional posts may appear during the week.

For now, I will blog alone. But it will be a success if and only if you read and participate. Go there now and get cracking.
The Inscape should not escape us.



I found this image on-line. We had a copy of it hanging up in the parish center of my first assignment.

For today's homily at Mass, I reflected upon the seeming incongruity between the season of Lent and the Solemnity of the Annunciation. Lent stirs up thoughts of penance and sacrifice and struggle. The Annunciation is a moment of exquisite joy because the long-awaited redemption of Israel is announced, is under way. It looks badly matched if one looks no deeper than the surface of the events. But if we pentrate into the inscape (a word coined by Caryl Houselander, a contemporary English theologian), we see the true threads of what is beginning here.

1. The Self-Emptying has begun. Throughout the history of Israel, prophets and visionaries hid their faces when God would be made manifest. To see the face of God is to die. Further, there was no place where God exclusively was. Certainly, God would make it clear that He was with His people through signs and wonders. But those were fleeting moments. And now, that is not true. God reveals that He has a face -- the face of the Son. And this flesh is not a mask or a put-on. It is the humanity of His immaculate Mother he bears. "A tender rose from tender branch has sprung." And now for the moment of the incipient Incarnation we can see that God has pitched His tent amongst us. The God whom the universe dare not contain welcomes to be enclosed in the womb of a mother.

2. Abandonment to the Will of God is manifested. The stage is set in all cases by this willingness to serve another. For the Son who becomes incarnate, He only does what He has been doing, even doing what He is, from all Eternity, submitting to the Father and returning to the Father the very gift of Himself. Because of this surrender to the will of the Father, the woman, the marvelous immaculate woman, both shows how Adam and Eve should have once submitted and shows how we are to submit even now. The particular irony is the exchange of submission between the Mother and the Son. The Son submits to the Father and so is incarnated in the Woman. The Woman must submit before the Incarnation can happen. As the child is raised, even though He is God, she will teach Him all the things a child must learn. He, in His human nature, can grow and develop without suffering ontological change in his divine person. This means, that the Woman teaches the Son through her own work of submission. The Son in turn shows her the depth such a surrender must touch. How much surrender must be motivated by love! And back and forth between them. Their mutual love for the Eternal Father keeps coming out in the phrase, "Your will be done" or "I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to your word."

3. He still waits to be born. Baptism makes us mothers of the Word, one of the early Church Fathers observed. The seal of Baptism marks as though live the life of God through burial in the death of the Lord. Confirmation marks us with the Holy Spirit to bear all things to fulfill the mission Christ gives us. The Holy Eucharist rests upon our innards, weighty as an embryonic child, but waiting, waiting to spring up to life and to be manifested. Yes, we too are made pregnant bearers of the Word, our bellies swollen with his Heart's Blood. But why have we not given birth? Is it because we are not enough like the woman of the Annunciation? We have not given birth because we have not emptied enough of ourselves. We have not given birth because we love not the will of the Father before all things. We have not given birth because we selfishly clutch at the goodness of Christ poured out to us as though it were only for us. It is for all to be distributed by us.
Make a New Headline

In the tradition, and you can imagine how much we like tradition around here, of Fr. Sibley's Make a Caption photos, I thought you would like the chance to have fun with this story about how the Georgia State House of Representatives has moved a bill forward banning piercing, well, ... , you know, ... , down there.

Here's the link. Is there a wittier/funnier but still tasteful way to say this?
I'm not taking any chances...

The media reports connected to health and wellness worry me. The constant waffling, the shifting "Yes/No" of certain debates, quite frankly I am too tired and too busy to sort this stuff out.

Now, if music and exercise boost brainpower, all the better. But what if it doesn't, fair reader? Then I will have exposed the world to my flapping arm fat nodules for nothing.

Decide for yourself. I am grabbing a twinkie and a nap.
Just stealing forty winks!

Well, since it happened in Oklahoma, I guess I should comment on it. Of course, if I comment on it, you might think I was trying to justify his actions. Let's just say, this is the case where drinking and driving and felony robbery intersect.
First a film, then a musical, now a quiz?

I am reasonably certain that this is meant as a compliment. If it isn't...don't tell me.


Well, u-- um, can we come up and have a look?


What Monty Python Character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

In Tribute to Number 10,000!: Ragemonkey Superstar

Wow. I mean, really, WoW. I started this blog only a month and a half ago on February 15, 2004. That's an average of 112.36 visitors each day. Thanks to repeat traffic as well as the occasional "lurker." Also, thanks go to Techmonkey Dave for encouraging me to start the blog and Fr. H, my co-monkey in crime and in rage.

So what to do with 10,000 visitors? I say we write a musical. I can see it. It would be the tragic and comic story of two priests who try to spread the Gospel anyway they can. They found a blog and this leads to lots of fun songs containing words that rhyme with "blog" and "post." Along the way, one reader at first finds them unreadable but then is slowly changed. This could work.

We could base the music on "Jesus Christ Superstar" except the name would have to be "Ragemonkey Superstar." Here's a little taste of Ragemonkey Superstar.

"I Don't Know How to Link Him" (sung to the tune "I Don't Know How to Love Him")

I don't know how to link them / What to do, how to comment
I've been changed, yes really changed / In these past few days
When I've read their stuff / I seem like someone else

I don't know why I come back / I don't see why they move me
He's a priest / They're both just priests
And I see my priest / every week
or even every day / They aren’t the same.

Should I load it up? / Should I tell my friends?
Should I comment here and / Let my feelings out?
I never thought I'd come to this / What's it all about?

Don't you think it's rather funny / I should find their blog so winning?
I'm the one / Who's always been
So calm so cool / No Blogspot fool
Running every show / They amuse me so

I never thought I'd come to this / What's it all about?

Yet / If they said they linked me / I'd be thrilled
I'd be giddy / I couldn't cope / Just couldn't cope
my eyes would clog / I'd back away
I'd want everyone to know / they linked me oh
I read them both / I love their blog!
Book Club Blog

I have had this idea stirring my grey cells for the last couple of months. I think there is great potential for an online book club. I am not sure how it would work exactly. Something like this perhaps. Once a week, post my observations and analysis concerning a chapter of a good book. Then the comments area would give people the chance to say that I am full of beans or that I am alreet, alright, alroot. Also, then side discussions could be carried on if they formed big enough threads. Then when the book is finished a post concerning the whole book.

Do you think that would work? What should be the first book? Would I need to set up another blog?
Priest bloggers submit to testing
I just read breaking news that a team of biologists at the University of Pennsylvania, together with Children's Hospital, have found what may be the genetic mutation that separates us (at least, in part) from apes.

In a related story, Fr. Tharp and I, after pursuit by animal control officers with dart guns, and consultation with our lawyers (both civil and canon), have agreed to submit to genetic testing to see if we possess said gene or not. This blog's title hangs in the balance!
This came today...

I received this news story today from one of my webgroups. Apparently, they are confused. I am a member of PETA, people eating tasty animals. Except on Fridays.
Weather Mascots

I have added WeatherPixies to our blog. I wanted you to get a sense of what the weather conditions were like in different parts of Oklahoma. Of course, what would be really useful is to have an AllergenPixie. The more congested they get the more their head swells until it explodes.

For your info., I have the purple hair. Fr. H's has a frilly shirt. I couldn't find anyone with a clerical collar.
Lenten Reflection #9 is up
Luke 15:25
"Now the older son had been out in the field and, on his way back, as he neared the house, he heard the sound of music..." Sometimes it is fun to take Scripture out of context for comedic value. I am using this quote from the Prodigal Son account to announce the end of a long drought in my life. I am returning to theatre! No, I am not leaving my day, and night, and anytime someone needs me job. The local town theatre is putting on "The Sound of Music" for two weekends in April. I have already been helping the "nuns" learn their Latin lines, as well as giving an English translation so they know what they are saying. Now, for the brief marriage scene (and thankfully a non-speaking role!) I will play the priest solemnizing the vows! My last role was in Spring of 1999 in the seminary's production of Stalag 17, in which I played Eddie Price. I'm excited.
Sucker for punishment
Well, fresh back from the trail of spin doctoring and a series of blog hall meetings to explain myself regarding the blessing of children, I may be raising another touchy subject now. Capital punishment.

First, what I hope will be the uncontroversial part. Last evening, Oklahoma executed Vietnamese national Hung Thanh Le for the brutal 1992 murder of his business partner. For the moment, lay aside whatever your opinion of capital punishment is. I think that is a fair request for the point I want to make in this paragraph. Mr. Le's execution had been twice delayed. The first time, just days before the execution, the Governor issued a stay to review the case after the Pardon & Parole Board recommended clemency (a rare recommendation in Oklahoma). The second time, the Governor, on request from Vietnam, issued a stay of execution WITHIN AN HOUR of the planned execution. The man had already eaten his "last meal" at that point and was in the cell next to the execution chamber. Now, I think that is cruel. And it is on that point that, I hope, readers will agree with me, regardless of one's opinion of capital punishment. I can't imagine what it must be like to know you are days from death and then to have it stopped. And then to be only minutes from death before it is stopped. I think that is a form of mental and emotional cruelty. Certainly, I am sure Mr. Le was thankful it was stopped, at least on two occasions, however, I can't imagine what such anticipation or anxiety must do to a person. I am not denying the terrible, brutal cruelty Mr. Le's victim experienced.

Now, the perhaps controversial part. Maybe I should post separately on capital punishment. Fr. Tharp can confirm that it is a sort of personal crusade of mine in this Archdiocese to see that the Church's authentic teaching regarding capital punishment is clearly and appropriately presented. What am I getting at? By and large, the doctrine on capital punishment is equated with the doctrine on abortion. One gets the impression, if not the outright misrepresentation of fact, that to be Catholic and in support of capital punishment is just as unallowable as to be Catholic and in support of abortion. The doctrine on capital punishment, complete with its more recent additions by Pope John Paul II, is presented as if capital punishment is never allowable under any circumstance. The entire tradition of 'legitimate defense' is ignored and, in fact, what the Church really and currently teaches regarding capital punishment is misrepresented.

The Church has always and still does recognize (no, Pope John Paul II's recent forceful and laudable addition to this doctrine has not changed this) that the State does indeed possess the right to execute someone convicted of the most heinous crimes. Pope John Paul II's development of this doctrine declares that out of respect for the dynamic reality that is the moral person, to offer time for penance and reconciliation, and to combat the culture of death, that the State ought to limit itself, to refrain from employing capital punishment. Notice what the Pope did not say. He has not denied that execution remains as a right that the State does possess. He has simply encouraged self-restraint. And notice, such wording is not the case with the far more serious issue of abortion. Catholic doctrine on abortion states that it is never allowable under any circumstance. In fact, the penalty of excommunication is attached to those who commit this grave sin with full knowledge and deliberate consent (the usual conditions applying). Such penalty does not exist regarding capital punishment. It remains that the State does have the right to do what it does.

I applaud Pope John Paul II's recent addition to the history of Catholic doctrine on capital punishment. I am encouraged by signs that society is listening and responding in certain sectors. I myself am not in support of the use of capital punishment. But, I do demand that authentic Catholic doctrine be clearly and honestly presented for what it is. I find it bothersome that many Catholic consciences have been placed in bad faith because of the misrepresentation of the doctrine on capital punishment. And I find that bothersome even as I am careful to tell such souls that if their support for capital punishment is motivated by vengeance, hatred, and blood lust, they had indeed better reform because it will not sit well with them on judgment day. But notice why I would tell such persons that -- it's because of what I judge their motivation to be, the intent of their support, not the fact of their support of capital punishment. The bottom line, questions of motivation aside, one can be a Catholic "in good standing" and be in support of capital punishment; one cannot be a Catholic "in good standing" and be in support of abortion.
Behold, I make all things new!

The first year as pastor of Sacred Heart in Alva, OK is drawing to a close. One of my little projects has been updating vestments and equipment for the sacred liturgy. I recently had several bequests come through and decided to put them to good use. Some of the money will go for new vestments and some for new hymnals. In the hymnal department, don't expect anything radical. It's a small community and I can't teach chant. But the vestments are another story.

I purchased these for the parish this morning from Holy Rood Guild. What do you think?


Now, don't panic. I only bought one set of funeral vestments. The picture of the first set of funeral vestments is only very close to the actual vestment I purchased. The purple accented vestments I have already purchased. I actually purchased 8 vestments today, but I couldn't find pictures of everything. If you are looking for gifts for the newly ordained, I heartily recommend Holy Rood Guild
The Strongest Links

Despite my cohort's mocking of Anne Robinson of "Weakest Link" fame, I like the mean English lady. But I believe in bringing out the strongest links. So to that end, I have included the following folks in our links. Check them out today. Also, if you have linked us to your blog and we haven't linked you, just send me an email. And no hints as to content except for one. The rest you just have to go check out.

New Stuff:
Against the Grain
Anti-Socialist Tendencies
A Catholic Horizon
Confessions of a Recovering Choir Director
Random Notes
Real Catholic
Sedes Sapientiae
Summa Contra Mundum
Tinabell (Amazing Artwork Site)

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

I shouldn't do this during Lent, but...

I received a letter from the local Catholic Charities outpost in Enid, but it wasn't for me. It was for the previous pastor. Now, I have called them, sent the letter back to the place, and sent the letter to the previous pastor. I am still getting his mail.

But this is the funny part. The letter actually says, "As a valued member of the Catholic Charities Advisory Committee for the Enid Regional Office, I would like to invite you to the next quarterly meeting." Aaaaah, WHAT! He is so valuable that they haven't noted his absence. Or is he so valuable that you are wasting a stamp to make sure that he NEVER GETS THE LETTER?

Face it, folks, this kind of incompetence is what my contribution to Catholic Charities goes to. St. Josemaria Escriva used to mention that doing your job well was a step toward introducing the Gospel to others. I guess they didn't get the message.
Impulse buy
The Hallmark store in town recently moved into a larger space, complete with swanky coffee bar. At their old location they are having a 75% off sale. So, after picking up my cappuccino this morning, I stepped in to see what they had. I found a suitable gift for Grandma's birthday. I also found a relatively undamaged plaster Roman column. Previously it sold at $54.50. On sale it became $13.63. So, I bought it to remind myself of days in Rome. Hey, the allergies are kicking up now just like they did in the Eternal City, so I might as well have a column to go along with it, huh?

I think I will place a candle on it. Or perhaps, in true Roman style, I can convince a stray cat to nest on top of it! Not that the column is that big.
Hmmm...what superpower would I want?

Frequent readers here know of my interest in comic books and superheroes, especially the Dark Knight. I found this link on a recent blog crawl.

So, here's the poll question of the day. What superpower would you want? You only get one. I would be torn between flight, super speed, or telepathy.
Thank you, I'll have another

I was feeling badly about having a scotch last night after vespers. Now, it seems I was just looking out for my heart. For more on swiftly tilting world of medicine, where researchers serve up more waffles than an average IHOP on Saturday morning, read about alcohol for your health.

Otto and O.O., this serves as an alert. O.O., be prepared to crack out those crazy martini glasses. Otto, may I recommend a jigger of the Dimple or Glenmorangie. The port variety is exceeeeellent.
The Lord of The Jungle:The Return of the Monkey King!

Holy Moley! I didn't realize we had a following in China. And then the Bangladeshis consider the monkey a source of blessing. Of course, breaking and entering is wrong when I do it but the monkeys are a blessing...

Steph, this is my second post concerning sports. Impressed, yet?
Grace dependent on human reason?
Under current practice of the Roman Rite, the eligibility of baptized children for other Sacraments comes later, at such time when it is hoped that their having reached the age of reason will help them cooperate more fully with God's grace -- in no way understood as if God's free gift of grace is dependent on human reason.

There is room both for the Orthodox Church practice and the current practice of the Catholic Church. Is it really problematic to suggest that a better grasp of what one receives in a Sacrament (which we hope comes with age and preparation) is indeed beneficial as regards one's cooperation with God's free gift? That is the point of the Catholic practice. To claim this practice exhibits that children, after baptism, are "excommunicated" for some years is a misapplication of the term "excommunicate." Likewise, the benefit of preparing for the later reception of a Sacrament should not be understood as if God's grace depends on the recipient's rational faculties. It should not be understood that way, because that is not what the Catholic Church means by the practice.

In addition, when someone not eligible (by reason of age) for further Sacraments is in some serious danger of death (either proximate or remote) they can be given the other Sacraments. Furthermore, a pastor, after careful study, may admit certain "under age" persons to the Sacraments if he judges their readiness. In fact, in this very Archdiocese, I know of two cases this year where a pastor petitioned the archbishop for delegation to confirm two young girls, still several years under the typical confirmation age.
Breaking the silence
I have been rather silent about the "issue" we have had with one commentator. In addition, I have been rather surprised at how much seems to have been read into my post on the blessing of children, evidenced by several comments. I am thankful to other commentators who rebutted some of the mistaken assumptions of some readers.

The comment activity has interested me, even worried me. I'm not sure I even want to address the series of comments that seem to me to be both rude and illogical. At least in the case of one person's comments, I don't feel that whatever else I might post by way of rebuttal will be respected and received fairly. I can only assume that what is being revealed in those comments is a sign that something else is "the issue". That's not a game I can play. But, I can and I have taken up Fr. Tharp's excellent exhortation to pray. A bit to my surprise, I even found myself thinking of that intention during my Sunday Masses when we pray "Lord, may this sacrifice, which has made our peace with you, advance the peace and salvation of all the world" (Eucharistic Prayer III). Amen. May it be so.
We've Evolved!

Thanks to our ticker on the sidebar, we can figure out where we are on the relative food chain of blogging. We are now a flappy bird. It's so exciting...

Hey, what about Pokemon based on Fr. H and myself? Like Priestachu or Blessasaur. Then they could evolve. Priestachu becomes Episcochu and more "powers." Blessasaur could become Praisaur and finally end up as a Worshipsaur.

Just imagine him in a collar and you have the right idea.

Just be thankful I don't have Photo Shop and be tempted to produce these cards.
A change of policy

I have to thank "filefolder" for bringing many interesting questions to light. However, when I started this blog and invited Fr. H to come along for the ride, I hadn't intended for this to be a running commentary on other folks' comments. So that the blog doesn't become a place to answer one person, I am proposing a change.

I would like to continue the conversation about some of the points he brings up via email. You can find it above. That way other readers don't have to slog though our back and forth. File, rest assured that many of the things you have mentioned have crossed my mind and deserve treatment.

Okay, everyone, back to what you were doing. Nothing to see here...
Alternate Blessing?

In the further controversy concerning if and when to bless folks at Mass, DWB makes this astute comment, He says, "So I guess my question is, would a blessing at another point in the mass for those feeling unworthy to receive communion a valid option to wean people off the assumption that they can go up in the communion procession and receive a blessing from the priest?" Great question but I am not sure it would help. Here's why.

First, blessing people who feel unworthy to go to Holy Communion at any point obscures the real deal: what is causing the "unworthiness?" The problem for me would be the potential for thinking that my blessings is an adequate substitute for Holy Communion. Instead, the source of the unworthiness will have to be addressed. Is it mortal sin? Go to confession and combat that sin. Are you in an invalid marriage? Then get to work on straightening out the matter. Are you a Non-Catholic who is deeply interested in becoming Catholic but are afraid to try? BE NOT AFRAID! Go talk to the priest and begin afresh

Second, no one would take part in it because it would be like advertising the separation.

Third, it would mean introducing yet another innovation where one is not permitted. This reminds me though. Most formal blessings do have a form for use during Mass. I didn't want someone to think I was saying no to the blessing of throats on St. Blase's day.

Thanks for the question, DWB.
But what about...
...other developments of the Roman Rite? A person whose comments are signed DWB has raised some interesting observations. They appear under Fr. Tharp's "I concur" post. I thank that person for commenting and I offer some observations.

DWB raised the issue of kneeling during the Agnus Dei in the United States, which, though not established in Universal Church law, has become a part of law in the Bishops' Conference of the United States. If that practice is acceptable, DWB went on to comment (and I'm assuming meant to type), "then why WOULD blessings...be extinguished from the Roman Rite?" It seems to me the kneeling at the Agnus Dei that has become customary in the US is at least consistent with the liturgical action at that point of the Holy Mass -- adoration, reverence, a posture of humility before the Most Blessed Sacrament. I contend that the blessing of non-communicants introduces a new ritual into the action at hand.

DWB also comments on something witnessed in Hong Kong, where a group was invited up for a blessing. The Church does have rites within the Holy Mass (though usually immediately after the homily) for those who are preparing to enter the Catholic Church at Easter. This group (commonly referred to in the US as the "RCIA") really constitutes two subsets: those who are not yet baptized, and those baptized non-Catholic Christians who desire to enter the Catholic Church. The comment correctly notes that at times this group is invited up, they are prayed for, given a minor exorcism, and blessed, and even sent out of the Mass after the Liturgy of the Word since they are not yet able to fully participate in the Liturgy of the Eucharist. But this ritual (actually intended it seems only for that part of the group not yet baptized) is to prepare them to turn from sin, and to grow in faith SO THAT they may be baptized.

Now, applying this to the blessing of children, in most cases the children in question are already baptized. They have already received the grace of Christ in that first Sacrament. They are already real members of the Church. They receive grace in prayer, from the witness of the community, from (we hope) their parents whose duty it is to evangelize them, from the Sacred Liturgy (though they too are not yet able to fully participate). Their relationship to Christ is truly different (on the level of Sacrament) than that of the non-baptized, and their communion with the Church is truly different than those baptized Christians not yet received into the Catholic fold.

So, could we develop some other rite of blessing for those not receiving Holy Communion, perhaps modeled on the RCIA? I suppose the Church could. If she did, I would gladly follow the directives and employ whatever options exist. However, I do not believe it is anyone's place -- not even a priest's -- to take upon himself the authority to add to, or subtract things from, the Sacred Liturgy. It comes down, once again, to a matter of obedience in my mind. The Church establishes what the Sacred Liturgy is; I do not. I am merely its servant and guardian. I contend that the blessing of non-communicants DURING the distribution of Holy Communion is nowhere envisioned in the Roman Rite and is an unwarranted practice. Furthermore, I think it may even cheapen the anticipation a child should develop because it introduces a distraction into the very purpose of that line -- the reception of the Sacrament of Sacraments! In that sense, I think it can be said that I have even thought of this issue from the child's perspective. Please do not assume I am condemning your local experiences and opinions. I do, however, think that what I have suggested would find agreement in the directives for the Sacred Liturgy. Though I have no animosity toward those who practice or think differently on this matter, I think the burden of proof to demonstrate a positive support of said practice lies with those who have introduced it into the Sacred Liturgy.

Personally, I would not be in favor of further adapting the Sacred Liturgy to make everyone feel catered to. I think too many mistakes, perhaps well-meaning, have been made in the last decades that radically reorient the focus of the Sacred Liturgy to a man centered, rather than God centered, activity. Though we, God's people, certainly occupy an important role in the Sacred Liturgy, it seems to me that the Sacred Liturgy is first and foremost about God, it is His work in sanctifying us. Please read my words very carefully and do not go off on a tangent. I am not denying the importance of man's role in the Sacred Liturgy. But I contend the Sacred Liturgy is first and foremost the work of God, and secondarily our participation in that work. We do not save ourselves. Therefore, it seems to me, the primary work of the Sacred Liturgy must come from the One Who can save us -- God. And so, man's participation in that work (Yes, both are intimately connected, I know) is to direct the focus of worship to God, that His grace may descend to us. But these days, it seems one often encounters a sentimentality that drives liturgical considerations based on feelings. Adaptations are offered and even forced upon the Sacred Liturgy based largely on what is "meaningful to us". I think that is a dangerous practice. How far does one carry the movement to cater liturgy to this and that group? Is the Holy Mass the Mass? Does it unite the whole community in the oneness of Catholic worship of God (a mark of the Church)? Or is it rapidly becoming (is it already?) the stuff of personal whim, priest-ego, and special interest groups?

Monday, March 22, 2004

An old error back for a retread

Our friend "filefolder" is back with an appropros question given the news today. In the comments he says, "Let's talk about gay marriage vs. the gay haven of the catholic 'semen'ary." Let's see if I can shed a little light on this matter.

Now, I admit that I am reading between the lines of the comment, but I think the question being asked is this:"How does the Church seriously expect to stand against gay marriage when homosexuality has proven a serious matter of public scandals in Catholic seminaries? Isn't that hypocritical?"

Excellent question. First, we have to knock down my theoretical straw man. That there have been seminaries where students for the priesthood have indulged and promoted their same sex attraction disorder is beyond dispute. In my days in the seminary, we had nicknames for places like these which I won't go into here. But that hardly represents the majority of seminary administrations whose task of forming excellent men into top flight priests stands uppermost in their minds. The seminary I went to was not a haven or a breeding ground for an underground culture to promote the same sex attraction lifestyle. Quite the opposite. Several men were dismissed from the seminary for just such issues. Do some men still make it through the net? Probably so. But that is the limitation of the human person. You do your best.

But as I have mentioned on this blog before, it was and is a great tragedy when someone takes the great gift of priesthood and uses it for selfish gain. If you, reader, have ever been hurt or abused by a parent or a priest or a coach or anybody, I am truly sorry. I pray that you will have the courage and support of family and friends and that you can find a professional counselor to assist you in your healing.

Second, filefolder, based upon the words I have placed in his mouth, also makes the point that the Church makes concerning same sex attraction, marriage, and the priesthood. Based upon the disordered nature of this activity, same sex attractions distort the realities that it is imposed upon. If one uses the priesthood as a means for furthering his disordered lifestyle, don't be surprised when disorders and new sins emerge. When marriage's essential reality as a unitive and procreative bond between a man and a woman is distorted by a putative redefinition, then don't be surprised when new problems emerge. In short, it isn't good for either reality.

What filefolder has had the good graces to point out to us is the persistent and tempting error of Donatism. In its original form, Donatism was applied to the validity of sacraments. Here, we are applying it to the teaching office. Because mistakes were made by some, therefore it vitiates the reliability of the teaching. This of course is absurd. A proposition is true because of its nature. When the Church teaches definitely on matters of faith and morals, she is able to declare this because she discerns the truth based on both reason and Revelation. When people don't practice what they preach, it can kill the credibility of the messanger but it doesn't change the truthfulness of what was proposed.

Man as a creature before God is endowed with the twin beauties of a mind to reason and a will to believe. Therefore, both are employed in the service of God and neighbor for the building up of God's kingdom.

Hope that helped.
I concur!

I will endeavor to be brief. I find it interesting that people are reacting so strongly to Fr. H's post on this matter of giving blessings in the communion procession. What Fr. H is doing is no different than what St. Peter in the Acts of the Apostles did when he led the Apostles in one of the first "councils" of the Church. What Fr. H is doing is no different when St. Paul directs the congregations under his responsibility to follow certain admonitions he imposes. Fr. H is exercising the power of the Keys. In Matthew's Gospel, first to Peter and to the rest of the Apostles, Christ hands over authority to bind and loose. Each priest in virtue of his ordination and befitting his office in the Church shares in the exercise of this power.

In the first sense, this is meant in the realm of conscience, i.e. sin. But it also applies to governance and power use of those things that are placed in the purview of a priest. This is not one of those instances.

The communion line is not a place for blessings. It is to facilitate receiving Holy Communion. Period. Nowhere in the rubrics is the priest directed to bless anyone or anything. It is simply not envisioned. If one were to argue that because the rubrics don't say that you can't bless people in the communion line, you could. This opens you to an immediate reduction to absurdity. Based on what is not said, I think next Sunday I will slaughter a lamb and sprinkle the people with it, so they will understand the roots of the sacred Liturgy. It doesn't say I can't do it. And it might help people "experience" what it means to be washed in the blood of the Lamb.

The nature of a rubric is simultaneously descriptive and proscriptive. By the description of the standard or proper form of celebration, one understands what the Liturgy looks like, sounds like, even smells and tastes like. Based on this description, certain matters and practices become proscribed and eliminated from the table. Through the Church, the reality of the sacraments is both distributed and preserved for harmful admixtures.

Fr. Hamilton is in the final analysis exercising obedience and not imposing a personal decision upon a matter that someone else has already decided what its purpose is. A priest is not an independent contractor of the Liturgy nor a private entity. He is the servant of the Mysteries of God and the representative of the Church. While there is variance in the manner of administration of the sacraments and sacramentals in various ritual churches, that doesn't mean that I or any other priest is free to simply skip around as they see fit.

Sorry if that rambled or didn't make sense. By the way, just for everyone's information, I also don't bless people in the communion line due to a couple of incidents in the past. If you want to hear about them, just mention it in the comments.
I am bringing back the maniple!

With allergy season in full and unpredictable swing, I am making a unilateral decision. For some reason, I will get into the Eucharistic prayer and my nose will start to run...like a faucet.

So we need a solution. And I say its bringing back the maniple. No fishing in my pockets for my hankie. Just dab and go!

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

D'Oh!

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

HASH(0x8b70bd4)
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
Blugged!

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."
Giggle!
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.