Monday, May 10, 2004

New Stuff Up at A Dusty, Sunny Corner

I apologize for the lateness of my post for the first part of the discussion of Walker Percy's The Second Coming. As I have been traveling, I haven't had the chance until today. So run over there and get into the mix.
The Glories of Anchovies

If you hate these little fish, then skip this post. Today, we are praising these tasty salty wonders.

Last night, I went to my favorite local pizza place on Rt. 30, Bella Italia Pizza. Apparently, due to the owners devotion to Padre Pio, his picture and holy card are up everywhere, the seminarians have nicknamed the place, Padre Pio Pizza. Anyhow, the crust is marvelous, the sauce is thick and meaty, in the sense that the pulp of the tomato is still in evidence, and the toppings were anchovies, mushrooms, and green peppers. MMMMMm....

Why are anchovies so great? The gentle salty flavor adds zing to the other flavors in the pizza. Also, they add a meatiness to vegetarian pizzas so that you don't feel quite so "jipped." And as a cold water fish, its Omega 3 fatty acid are good for the heart. As a final benefit, anchovy oil more effectively lubricates the internal systems of robots, but that won't be an asset until the year 3000 or so.
The Glorious Ordination

Well, folks the weekend has past and I am here in Philadelphia. I am posting for you all from the seminary library at Saint Charles Seminary.

Joseph Irwin has joined the glorious order of deacon. At the same Mass, 5 men studying for Philadelphia were ordained deacons. The ordination took place at the seminary chapel with the rector, Bishop Burbidge, presiding and ordaining. It is a reminder to those of us who have made these same promises that the new deacons made on Saturday that the promises are still in effect. Even when one is a priest, he remains a deacon. He is called to live the service that embodied the life of Christ. It was also good to see brother priest classmates who attended the ordination and to catch up with them. I am putting together lunch plans as we speak.

Also, it is funny to think that the guys you knew as 4th college and haven't kept in touch with since you left are now on their way to being ordained priests next year. But it is also kind of sad, in that my connection with Saint Charles is diminishing. Without classmates and diocesan brothers there, it lowers the impetus to visit.

Thankfully, the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City will be sending two more men here this fall, Billy Lewis and Andy Wickersham. So, I guess I will still have some cause to get my hands on Rita's Water Ice from time to time.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Why, I'm quite sure I have no idea what you're talking about....

(cue harp music.....light the halo effect....)

No idea whatsoever....
Well, well, well...
I was blinded by my own ambition. You see, normally the cheap shots and power plays are between Fr. Tharp and me as we each struggle for jungle domination. And yes, I am always a few paces behind in my attempts to be crowned the new alpha-male ragemonkey. I was so consumed by my focus on Fr. Tharp's status, that I never even imagined what we were creating with Techmonkey Dave. Now, I see. I'm fresh off the road from Colorado and, no my eyes don't deceive me. No, that blog title isn't an appearance created by bug parts and juice splatted on my screen (unlike the car windshield). We've been had.

And we thought Rumsy was the only high-powered official fighting for his job!
Techmonkey Dave here again.

I felt really bad about messing with the blog title, so, in a spirit of penance and humility, I decided to change it ba.....

UH OH, Did I spell that wrong?!?!

Oh no.... What will I do now???


Saturday, May 08, 2004

I, of course, would NEVER do anything to take advantage of my COMPLETE AND TOTAL CONTROL!!

Techmonkey Dave here.

Fr. Tharp and Fr. Hamilton are both out of town?

That means the blog is mine, mine, ALL MINE!!!


Thursday, May 06, 2004

Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore...

Actually, I am still in Winfield, KS, preparing to snarf some breakfast and then leap into the Batmobile and head NNE so that I can get to Columbus, OH sometime this evening. It is always great to visit with Fr. Gorges, the pastor here at Holy Name Catholic Parish, because his interests like mine are broad and the conversation is always all over the map.

Okay, I am off. Probably nothing again until tommorrow when I am back in the city of Brotherly Love.
Monkeys on the run!
Get out the tranquilizer darts, folks, Fr. Tharp and I have busted out of the jungle! Fr. Tharp is away in Philly and New Jersey for a few ordinations. I am leaving today to attend my brother's graduation from Western State College in Gunnison, Colorado. I won't be able to blog until after Sunday.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Real Mean Girls!

This takes the cake.
I'm Leaving...I'm Leaving on the Midnight Train to Georgia...

Not really. Actually, but this time tomorrow I will be well on my way to the city of Brotherly Love. I am returning to Philly for the ordination of one of the men I encouraged to enter the seminary. His name is Joseph Irwin and he is being ordained a deacon on May 8th, which is also the date of my ordination. Then it's on to Jersey, specifically Trenton, for the ordination of one of my school mates from St. Charles. I will be preaching the first mass and I have only give light, tangental thought to my homily.

For those who are wondering, I will be driving this exotic run. I will stop tonight in Winfield, KS and visit with a great priest there, Fr. Bernard Gorges. Then it's back into the car for the 14 hours trip. I expect to stop in Columbus or thereabouts. On Friday, I should get into Philly in the evening, depending upon when I get on the road in the morning.

So, I will try to blog while abroad and if anyone is in the area, post today and we'll see if we can arrange something.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004


Only 24 hours to go...until the moment. Here's a couple more hints.
Blogger is so hysterical!

It took three days of fighting but I got back my posts for the last section of the first book of our book club. Thanks to everyone who participated and if you missed our first book, take part in our next book. Check it out at "A Dusty, Sunny Corner"
Why Patrology Matters For the Average Catholic

I had this flash of insight during my lunch at the local Chinese restaurant. Not to run down the place, but I bet they couldn't tell a pot sticker from a pot bellied stove.

When I was in the seminary, Msgr. Richard Malone taught patrology. Patrology concerns studying the works of the early bishops and writers of the Church. These writings give us a glimpse into the world of the early Church. And it was fascinating reading. That class was both one of the best and most disorganized classes I ever took.

If you asked the average Catholic who the Church Fathers were, you would get head scratching and ponderous thinking. And yet, they are the most underutilized and most important reading, after the Bible, for any Christian. Why?

Is it because they give insight into the early Church? No, not necessarily. The reason for their import rests on the fact that we are living in those days again. For the early Church Fathers, every aspect of the faith had to be struggled for. Facing persecution, striving to understand the mystery, and trying follow Christ in a world ignorant and often ambivalent, usually hostile, to Him. And we have been sitting in the water, getting wrinkly and par-boiled, while the world decays around us. These writings will break us out I think.
I Swear I Heard This

As I was dressing this morning, I was listening to NPR and a brief story blurb came on concerning a study of how best to stop the spread of HIV. The winner? Abstinence. Hands down. I went to the NPR site but couldn't find nothing.

So to all those who thought the Catholic Church was complicit in the deaths of thousands of African people because we insisted that condoms were not a solution, allow me to say, "Neener, Neener, Neener, Neener."
For the Scripture Scholars Out There

Perhaps this helps us understand the way that St. John is speaking in the Apocalypse. If so, hie thee to a confessional.

Only 34 hours until the moment. Here's a couple of hints.
Racist Coffee Additives

For the few that attended the Marriage and Family Life conference in Hennessey, OK held last Friday, it was an engaging and interesting weekend. As Fr. Mason observed, the Church started out with simply 12, and this work of ours starts the same way. Hopefully, as we go along, more parishes will be inspired to do these sorts of things. In rural Oklahoma, access to formation opportunities are limited in the extreme, but the people are hungry just the same.

Apparently, Fr. Hamilton took umbrage at my referring to his lecture as water skiing through the history of the sacrament of marriage. What would you call it when he covers, oh, approximately 4000 years of history, three levels and sources of the Church's teaching and then applies that teaching to various aspects of the life of the married couple? I also wanted to reconnect the listeners to my impending one hour lecture by connecting them with the topic, namely we were only going to cover the Sacred Scripture. Oh, well, if I offend, I am sorry.

I also found in the parish hall an amusing sign of how the times have changed. In general, most people make coffee too weak and therefore the coffee is bitter. Interestingly, more grounds concentrates the flavors and reduces bitterness, but that is the subject of another post. So, whenever I am at a parish function, my hand strays to CoffeeMate or the nearest quart of milk. In Hennessey, the product being used is called "Coffee Whitener." When I looked closely at the packet, I burst out laughing. I can only imagine the protests that folks like Al Sharpton might raise in front of the SingleServ company who produces said whitener.

As I drove home from the conference, I began to amuse myself with other funny names for non-dairy creamers, such as Coffee White-Out, although that sounds like the coffee should be getting darker. Coffee Blizzard was pretty okay as names go. This shows you what is on my mind when I drive ... nothing!

Monday, May 03, 2004

How will we ever survive? Part Deux

Echoing and parodying my partner's thoughts, how will we ever survive without Frasier? Granted he was as smutty as they come, his show had some of the best writing out there. I must admit, I haven't watched in a long time. Life in a parish dictates that every meeting is in the evening, and I don't own a TIVO.

So here's my gripe. Frasier represents the excellence that TV can produce under the right conditions. Friends is useless twaddle. And the second "F" show is going out in a shower; the first "F" show is going out without even a whimper.

I guess NBC is handing the real "F" to the viewing public. Use that line to fill in your own joke.
Overlawyered: Unlawful to test for mad cow

So stupid it's stupidelicious...especially on a sesame seed bun...
Ever wondered which superstars you looked like...well, you can wonder no is the solution. Analogia: The Star Estimator tells all.

For all interested parties, here is how we scored on this:
Fr. Tharp
Fr. Hamilton

Also, in case you are curious, Zidane is a French Midfielder for Real Madrid. That is the closest I will get to being athletic. But does it mean I have to cheer for France during World Cup?
How will we ever survive?
Apparently Jesus Christ isn't the way, the truth, and the life...FRIENDS is! The coverage of the final episodes of Friends has far surpassed absurd. We have daily reminders via commercials on television that only such and such a number of episodes remain. I can't tell you how many times I have heard "news" coverage of the end of this sit-com. And it has reached its summit now. One of those Dateline type shows on NBC is doing a whole show on the cast of Friends, to help us know the characters better. Our local NBC affiliate, in a move I'm sure came from the NBC higher-ups, is having a week-long spot on Friends together with a quiz to test our Friends knowledge. Give me a break!

If you have enjoyed and do enjoy the show, fine; but, please, this angst over the show's conclusion is ridiculous.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Thanks Be to God

This guy needs to be hired by Special Forces.

Why Johnny Cash is turning in his grave along the Z-axis...

It's pretty self-explanatory. Give it a whirl.
In Tribute to Our 25,000th Visitor
Responses have been most favorable when we have parodied a song as a tribute to all of our readers who have helped us surpass various milestones regarding the number of visitors to this blog. Who wouldn't claim that 25,000 visitors is a milestone? So, in tribute to all who have made this moment possible, we here at CRM dedicate the following song.

Sung to the tune of "A Few of My Favorite Things"

Mantillas for ladies, and heads marked with ashes
Cassocks with piping and watered-silk sashes
miters and croziers, episcopal rings
These are a few of my favorite things

Processional candles and thurible smoking
Crosses and Latin for all of the chanting
Bright shiny marble and bells that go "ding!"
These are a few of my favorite things

Silk damask vestments and torch-bearing servers
Incense and candles adorning high altars
"Ecce Sacerdos..." the choir would sing
These are a few of my favorite things

When R.E. bites
Parish budget stings
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad

(Repeat all verses)

Friday, April 30, 2004

Yahoo! News - Hollywood Walk of Fame Honors Olsen Twins

If St. John had known about this, it would have merited mention in the Apocalypse as a sign of the end. Then I saw a beast come out of the sea with ten horns and two heads; on its horns were ten diadems, and on its heads blasphemous names and blonde hair. The beast I saw was like a leopard, but it had feet like a bear's, and its mouth was like the mouth of a lion...I saw that one of its heads seemed to have been mortally wounded, thought to be not as cute as the other, but this mortal wound was healed, after a chemical peel. Fascinated, the whole world followed after the beast, given the ubiquitious presence of a thing called "reruns." They worshiped the dragon because it gave its authority to the beast; they also worshiped the beast and said, "Who can compare with the beast or who can fight against it? 'Full House' is on every channel."

Those who have ears to hear, hear!
New Links!

I have been added places piece meal as I have found them. You'll want to search the roll call for interesting stuff. But a tip of the biretta today to the Mighty Barrister who has a great post on Kerry limericks. I put up one that wasn't very good. But it was fun trying.

Go there NOW!

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Sorry, Karen!

As Karen was the only one to ask, no, I haven't abandoned the good Monsignor and our reading of Meditations Before Mass. I just got a little way laid. Without any further ado, the section three comments and questions are up. I expect that section four will be up tommorrow. And then there will be a final wrap-up section of questions.
Which One Do You Want?

Granted that the Avalon is too dandy a car to be festooned with bumper stickers I might put one in the rear window of the car. I am still torn as to which one to choose. Those kids of Holy Whapping are H-I-Larious.
The fun of titles
I think I am having too much fun. In the time between being officially notified that one is being appointed a pastor and the actual commencement of that assignment, a priest is "Pastor-elect". He is not yet officially pastor by Church law, but has been chosen pastor, thus the term "elect".

I have been enjoying typing that title under my name in the very few official letters I have sent out in the past few days. Any bets on whether being able to simply type "Pastor" (without the "elect" part) will be more or less fun?
Installation of a New Pastor
Perhaps some of you are aware that the Church has an established rite within the Holy Mass by which a diocesan bishop installs a parish's new pastor. If the bishop can't be present in person at the parish, he may establish another priest as delegate to preside over the rite. As my archbishop will be visiting my parish soon after my pastorate begins, I sent a letter to him requesting that he install me on his visit. Here is a blurb from that letter:

The Church’s ritual de Benedictionibus states, “When a new pastor is appointed for a parish it is appropriate that he be publicly installed by a liturgical rite” (Book of Blessings, n.2012). By means of this letter, I request that you install me as pastor at the celebration of the Holy Mass at 5:30 p.m., on Saturday, June 12. The people of the Panhandle parishes don’t have many opportunities to see ceremony involving a bishop, so I think the installation would have added significance for them.

I'm curious, have any readers ever seen this ritual actually done? Are any readers, even if they have not personally witnessed this ritual, aware that their bishop installs pastors in their parishes? By and large, the installation of pastors is not something our bishop has done in his tenure. I'm curious of trends in other dioceses.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Cost of being tall
Well, it almost cost me, but thankfully the State Trooper showed some mercy. Last night I was driving the ten to twelve miles home from the Spring Festival of the Arts at Oklahoma Panhandle State University. It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening and a great opportunity to make more connections for the soon-to-be pastor of this parish. As I rolled back into the city of Guymon, I was careful to observe the change in speeds from 65 mph to 35 mph. So, I was surprised when a State Trooper swung in behind me from the opposite lane and turned on his lights. I looked at my speedometer and it showed 32 mph. "What's this all about?" I thought. Though I have received only two speeding tickets in my life, this was the first time I DID NOT know what I was being stopped for.

What had I done that was so important to stop me on this highway known for drug trafficking? I was driving on a clear night with my fog lamps on! Yes, that's right, the technical infraction was "Failure to extinguish fog lamps". Then I was also chided for not having notified in writing the Department of Public Safety because my driver's license shows my family's permanent home address in Oklahoma City, while I reside in Guymon. I understand the need to update those things and I will. However, since 2002 I have been in three different parishes and the original plan had me moving this year too, so I didn't bother with annual driver's license updates because I thought I would wait until I knew where I would be staying for some time.

So, I received a verbal warning on the driver's license address issue and a written warning on the fog lamp matter. I am thankful that the Trooper was merciful. I honestly had no idea the darn lamps were on. I can only figure, based on the placement of the fog lamp button, that my knee must have hit it as I got into the car at some point. I am sure, had I been fined, I could have filed a lawsuit claiming discrimination based on height or claiming that GM Motor Company was actually responsible for the placement of the lamp button and therefore ought to pay the fine. The price of being tall...(almost).
Bishop Olmstead, You're my hero!

As refreshing as a dip in the pool on a hot summer's day is the thought that Thomas Olmstead is a bishop. I first met His Excellency when I gave a presentation in Wichita. He struck me as an all-together good chap who lived and thought in alignment with the Church's teachings. Of course, I was saddened by his move to Phoenix, but I am chastised in my thinking. Clearly, the Holy Spirit knew what He was doing in sending him there.

Case in point: the shocking action of censuring priests who dissent. Apparently for YEARS now, the Diocese of Phoenix has been the hot house provider of heretical orchids for the entire Southwest U.S. And that is about to change. A group of priests and one religious brother signed some interfaith document saying, I assume, homosexuality is not a big deal. Bishop Olmstead showed charity and restraint while still acting in a reasonable and correct manner. That someone "leaked" this to the news folks just chaps my fur.

So, prepare for presecution kids! It's coming. And I don't mean that the black helicopters are going to swoop in on the parish. I mean that in the streets and at the Dairy Queen, folks are going to be less than friendly when they discover that you don't "go with the flow."

As Chesterton once remarked, a dead thing can only go with the flow of the river. Only a living thing can go against it.
Ragemonkey Red Alert: More like 20/200

via email from Penney and double checked against The Mighty Barrister

In an effort to prove that the initials of the American Broadcasting Company actually stand for "Anything But Catholic," 20/20 is featuring the first ever reality show segment. The prize? Your own baby. Yes, you read that right. 20/20 is inviting 5, presumably infertile, couples to compete to win the right to adopt a 16 year old's child. This is so freaking foul I can scarcely comment on it. It is apparent that this is a blatant rating push. It is timed for the beginning of May Sweeps, and May Sweeps are very important in the media industry as it determines how much the network can charge to advertise in that space.

The creepy factor shoots up when one reflects that Barbara herself is an adoptive mother. The creepy factor rises even higher when one recalls that the parent company of ABC is ... DISNEY! This is how they say, "We love kids." We love kids when their parents buy our junk. We love kids when they boost our ratings. We love kids...

What this boils down to is this. Children, and no person really, can ever be treated merely as a means to an end. When I listen to certain people talk about having children, I swear it sounds like a conversation at a local self-help shop or they are picking up an accessory for the car. The reason for having children is because existence is a good thing. We are very pro-existence here at CRM. Taking it into the religious sphere, the parents become co-creators with God and assist in continuing the act of creation. But not at ABC. At ABC, kids are the key to upping your overall revenues.

This also demonstrates to me why abortion must be stopped. Once you de-humanize the embryonic person, it is a short step to de-humanizing a little person. And like the Breck commercial used to say, you de-humanize two people, and they de-humanize two people, and so on and so on. Be prepared for competitive genetic information swapping (nice euphemism, huh?) and Death Sentence Live! To think, I thought things like "Logan's Run" and "The Running Man" were the fevered imaginings of Luddite sci-fi writers.

On a lighter note, we should be glad this idea didn't crop up over at CBS, otherwise it might have been Bob Barker telling the couples to "come on down." And you can guaranteed that Bob would have praised the couples for being spayed and neutered themselves.

We need to start a boycott of all the advertisers featured during the broadcast of 20/20 just to the producers and others know how awful this stunt really is. Here is what I would suggest. I hate to suggest that we actually watch this tripe, but this is only way to get the list of advertisers. Then when you have the list, you call or write the LOCAL affiliate with the comments. Also, make sure to write any local companies who advertise during that time as well. Why the local affiliate? Because they have a more direct line to the higher ups. If enough affiliates call in, I suspect that the message will ring more loudly. Think of it as a gentle form of correction but speaking the language of Mammon that they know so well.

If you don't find this practice at ABC reprehensible, then you need to get your vision checked. It sounds like you are working from the "20/200" set of glasses.

P.S. Before anyone says it, I am glad that the young lady didn't have an abortion, choosing to place the child up for adoption. I am dismayed that she let her child be exploited by Barbara Walters

Yahoo! News - Japanese Hold 'Funeral' for Chickens

Dear Friends, before we go onto the blackberry cobbler, let us take leave of our dinner, Henny Penny. Though this congregation will disperse bloated on biscuits and mashed potatoes, we hold out the firm hope that other chickens will be as tasty..."

From the proposed new translation of the Funeral Rites after input from PETA.
New Places to Explore

You have ten seconds to check out these two new locations before I destroy you all. Oh, sorry, that was my interior monologue. What I meant to say was these are two up and coming groups who deserve our support and encouragement.

Kepha is an organization promoting the Gospel for dads and sons. Here is their self description: "KEPHA is a growing brotherhood of Catholic fathers and sons in seven states. Faithful to the Holy Father, we promote the Culture of Life through monthly retreats and shared daily prayers and provoke each other to Heaven according to our motto, "Dynamic Orthodoxy, Infectious Joy." Ours is a high-octane Catholicism rejecting spiritual laziness and moral compromise. We are under the patronage of our "BIG 3": St. John Bosco, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati. KEPHA's anchors are our 5 commitments: apologetics, brotherhood, charity, mortification, and prayer."

Check out KEPHA and see if there is a group near you or found a chapter yourself.

OU Catholics are my favorite ragemonkey minion of the month. They are the group that brought Mark Shea to Oklahoma and therefore they rock! It does my heart good to see young college students being authentically countercultural by standing up for Christ and doing it with Charity. Also they have a blog which might be of interest to all involved.
John Kerry Must Go

This article comes from my "The blind squirrel occasionally finds the acorn" file. Glad to see that human reason hasn't been completely gutted by the Fall.
Elton John Says 'American Idol' Vote Is 'Racist'

MLK battled injustice and misunderstanding, ultimately having his life taken by a cowardly sniper's bullet, so that black artists can receive their proper votes on American Idol. Or at least that's Sir Elton's analysis.

Sing it with me, children. "We will not, we will not be moved...
A Picture Says A Thousand Words

And this one says it all. "People who live in glass houses ought not throw stones."

Tuesday, April 27, 2004


For all those in Oklahoma who read this blog, I want to tell you about a great opportunity. Fr. Mark Mason of St. Joseph's in Hennessey is hosting a two-day conference on Marriage and Family Life. It will start this Friday evening and run all day Saturday. If that is not incentive enough, would it help make up your mind to come if I told you that both Ragemonkeys will be there to speak? I am presenting a lecture on marriage in the Sacred Scripture and I can't recall what Fr. Hamilton is presenting on, but of course, it will be rage-licious.

Call the parish for more information: 405-853-4425.
I want to know...
how people find us. I can assume a lot of it is word of mouth. But occasionally I will see posts on other blogs that refer to the search parameters that brought people to that site. Now I will find out how many simian maniacs are stumbling across our blog oasis. Stay tuned.
It's Done. Check it Out!
Thanks for everyone's prayers. The article isn't up to my usual standards but it is adequate I think. I decided to write it in two parts. The first part dealt with the Church's teaching office and the second will deal with Contraception. See it here.
If you have a thought to spare...

would you mind praying for me? If you stop by in the next three hours or so (10:00 a.m. -- 1:00 p.m. CDT), fire a little dart prayer for me. In my column for the newspaper, I am treating the subject of the bishop's teaching office and how the office is not lost simply because bishops do something bad . Essentially, the question is "Because the bishops did something bad, they can change the teaching on contraception." Mainly, I don't want to be condescending but it is a talent of mine. So a little extra grace is needed to override my fallen human nature.
Examples of Courage as a Virtue

Courage is neither foolhardiness nor recklessness. It is the virture that permits one to enter a conflict with charity and resolve. It is the melding, IMHO, of the virtues of Faith, Love, Prudence and Fortitude.

I was meaning to blog on last weekend's March for Abortion. I refuse to use the euphemistic title for it. But these people who are with Silent No More said everything I wanted to say and better. I will add links as I find them. Please support these men and women in their healing and leading others to healing.

Against The Grain
Martin Sheen Backs Out [This is well timed as I was getting to the point where I couldn't even look at Martin without my BP shooting up. Via Mark Shea]
"Not So Quiet" Catholic Corner [Note: The permalink acted strangely when I pulled it, so you may have to scroll to find it.]
I'm Not a Good Person, But I Play One on TV
Times Against Humanity

Monday, April 26, 2004

Friday Five on a Priest's Friday, that is, on Monday

1. if you could be a color, which one would you be? --> Indigo
2. if you could be a scent, which one would you be? --> Vanilla with a hint of cinnamon goodness
3. if you could be a flavor, which one would you be? --> Ethiopian Coffee
4. if you could be a sound, which one would you be? --> The Cascade of a grand piano
5. if you could be a texture, which one would you be? --> T-Shirt Cotton

Liturgical Idol

Here is the top five pieces of liturgical music our readers have deemed worthy of destruction.

5. (tie) "Anthem," "Seeds, Scattered and Sown," and "Sing a New Church"
4. "Gift of Finest Wheat"
3. "Gather Us In"
2. "Let There Be Peace On Earth"

and the number one most hated song was

1. "Ashes"

Not to dispute the accuracy of my own polling techniques, but could the recent use in the season of Lent of the song "Ashes" led to its high number of mentions. Are there Advent/Christmas diddies that raise folks' hackles?

Thanks to everyone who contributed comments and votes.
Even More on Mark Shea: Separated at Birth?

After the encounter with Mark, not a few people commented on the striking resemblance of myself to himself. Terms like Father/Son and Twin/Evil Twin were thrown around by those in the know. As to Father/Son, anyone who read my post on my conversion should easily guess my feelings about having Mark as my dad. As to Twin/Evil Twin, when I figure out who is whose evil twin, I will comment further.

But is this comparison true? You be the judge.

Here's what I look like:
Here's what Mark looks like:
Creepy isn't it. However, once the beard is gone, the resemblance vanishes as well.

By the way, as a piece of friendly advice, I would suggest that Mark get on that show "Extreme Makeover" (or is that "Extreme Markover") and have a complete job done. By persisting in this resemblance to yours truly, you run the risk of being accosted by the legions of folks I drive nuts.
More on Mark Shea

I was thinking yesterday of how hard it is for someone like me to appreciate the difficulty that someone like Mark or Scott Hahn had in entering the Catholic Church. For me, the only baggage I brought and had to sort through was the baggage of being a unconscious neo-pagan moron. As a Christian, I was a tabula rasa. It was relatively easy to learn how to be a Catholic because the programming didn't have to be overwritten. But for the evangelical, the questions must run far more deeply. It must run them through with hot swords to discover that much if not all that they knew about the Church proves to be erroronous. And then to become Catholic must seem a profound betrayal of everyone who loves them and whom they love.

This is why God's grace is astounding to me. While it is resistable, it is a powerful dynamic force which recreates as it destroys, like a Genesis Wave for the soul.

Like Hecubus on a movie-ending revealing jag, Yahoo! has taken over as the current representation of pure evil. Yes, John Kerry has competition.

I opened my mail account with them yesterday only to find that for some reason, Yahoo! had purged my inbox. I was well below my limit of emails and was working through about 40 mails trying to get responses to folks when this little set back occurred. So if you are waiting for a reply, you will have to resend the message.

Also, thanks to all the fanmail that has come in over the last weeks. We appreciate the well wishes and the words of encouragement. Especially grateful are we to know that Rep. Cole's office in the U.S. Congress is keeping tabs on the activity of two Catholic Priests from the home state, even if we aren't in his district. Is anyone from Rep. Frank Lucas's office doing the same for his constituents?

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Sensing dollar signs
This post is probably NOT headed where you might think. I received the official letter Friday that, effective May 3, I am appointed pastor of the parish where I currently serve as associate pastor. This new office comes four years and ten months after my priestly ordination. And with the impending reality of the responsibilities of being pastor, a new and strange phenomenon is happening in my brain. As people come forward with little suggestions, ideas, and observations, suddenly all the input is being interpreted as dollar signs! As in, this is all going to cost money and the buck will soon stop here! Yikes!

The new contacts in the local community I made participating in The Sound of Music will bode me well and I hope they will continue to increase. I don't have a formal pastoral plan decided yet -- I do have lots of ideas which I need to prioritize -- however, I know that increasing the visibility of the parish in the local community is a goal. And it can be easily accomplished at first with simple matters like having our sacramental schedule published in the paper where all the other ecclesial communities have theirs printed. I am also going to call or visit the local hotels because a parishioner told me last night that the Catholic schedule isn't provided at those places. I suppose I should also begin attending the Ministerial Alliance meetings, a monthly meeting of the local denominational clergy.

This pastorate will be a significant challenge. This parish is certainly larger than the typical parish given a first time pastor in this diocese. We have 823 registered families, I am told. In addition, we have countless Hispanic families not registered. I will be responsible for an associate pastor who is a priest from India ordained longer than I have been. We have two mission parishes, one an hour away and one twenty minutes away. And the biggest challenge of all -- the one that really worries me in the midst of my excitement -- is the need of the Hispanic peoples who make up the majority of the parish. I am by no means fluent in Spanish and a good number of the majority speak no English at all. I need to verify, but I fear that the Indian priest speaks even less Spanish than I do. The moral weight of this challenge is brought to my attention considering that as a pastor I must now sign once again the Oath of Fidelity and the Profession of Faith. I first signed these, as all clerics do, before my ordination as a transitional deacon. Now, in assuming an office to be exercised in the name of the Church, Canon Law requires that I sign them again. I do so willingly and with joy, but with an awareness of a certain gravity. It will come as no surprise that future posts will turn to my early experiences as an inexperienced pastor!
Mark Shea gave me his pineapple!

Perhaps I should explain. On Friday last, I received the rare treat of meeting and listening to Mr. Mark Shea. It was a presentation so full of wit and Catholicity that to hear one better would involve the harvest some white dwarf matter, the application of a graviton generator, and a Evac Suit from the Space Shuttle, so that I could go back in time and visit with G.K. Chesterton. Yes, it was that good.

At the dinner following the first lecture, Mark sat next to me and we had a marvelous conversation. We both did our level best to include others in the conversation, but probably failed more than succeeded. Anyway, when the main course was brought out, a thoroughly leathery piece of chicken with adequate rice and vegetables, I deduced correctly that Mark must have children at home. How, you ask?

The chicken in question was adorned with a ring of pineapple that would have made the Dole packing company proud. It was a perfect circle like only a jigsaw can make. Without missing a beat, Mark turned to me and asked, "Father, do you like pineapple?" Being the occasionally cultured and sophisticated Ragemonkey, I proffered my plate and let him deposit the iridescent fruit object. Only the parent of small children knows that it is better to pass the grub than let it go to waste. And I am certain, given my experience with my niece, he has salvaged many meals which might have descended into a wail of incoherent fury due to an offending food substance by offering up his plate as a dietary landfill. It was only right to return the favor.

So that's how I got Mark Shea's pineapple. Of course, if I had been prepared and had known I would be the recipient of this heirloom, I would have dried it and had him sign it. I had to settle for a signed copy of By What Authority?.
Catholic culture
There is a theatre tradition of keeping old posters from past shows and painting memories of past shows on the unseen side walls of the backstage area. That is a tradition kept here at Guymon's community theatre. As I milled around backstage, befriending the cast and crew, I noticed that this theatre's 25 year tradition is peppered with many "nun" shows. The theatre has performed every Nunsense produced, and this Christmas they will do yet another. (Apparently, word on the stage is I may find myself type-cast whenever the theatre needs a priest.) I found myself asking, What's the fascination with nuns in this largely Protestant state?

And then an observation came to me. Please, I do not mean this as a slap at non-Catholics. It occurred to me that if you want to have a depiction of a Christian religion that truly pervades an art medium (theatre, song, painting, etc.) then it will probably be Catholic. Why is that? I guess it is because Catholicism is also about a culture of lived faith. What would it look like to perform a play, for instance, whose setting was Protestant? Other than a few scenes of a Sunday sermon, perhaps a Bible, and maybe even a scene of someone at prayer, you wouldn't have much more that could inform the movement of the characters and the plot. Again, I mean this as no disrespect, however, considering this observation, what culture do our Protestant brothers and sisters have? But with Catholicism, you have a whole tradition to draw from and which to characterize. There are rich ceremonies, family traditions, history, classes of people, and religious communities to depict. And that adds substance to the plot. It gives something stable on which to hang a scene. Just an observation about Catholicism that came to me in an unexpected way. Just another reason I love being a Catholic.

Along this line, I am also trying to think of some famous work of art that is heavily pervaded by a Protestant Christianity. I am drawing a blank right now. I am sure I am missing some obvious example. If truth be told, I am so worn out right now that I'm not really trying to find the counter example to this post. Can you come up with any examples?
Break a leg!
Well, Guymon Community Theatre's production of The Sound of Music successfully ended moments ago. It ran for two weekends. This Friday, Saturday, and today were played to sold out crowds (mind you, that's only a bit over 160 for our small town's theatre). All ended on an upswing.

I have to say it was thoroughly enjoyable to have the small supporting role I had. And there was an added benefit -- one I had not anticipated -- to appearing as the priest in the show: I met so many people in the local community and, it seems, a positive impression of the Catholic Church will be a lasting memory for the many non-Catholic cast, crew, and audience members.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Late Nite Catechism
My mom, stepdad, and I went to see this one woman show a few days ago. For those readers unfamiliar with it, the stage is adorned as a typical Catholic grade school classroom, with one woman playing a sister, and the audience as the class. As you may guess, there is plenty of audience interaction, including both rewards and reprimands from "Sister" when questions are answered correctly or when one misbehaves, respectively. It is very funny and entertaining.

The show also depends significantly on the audience and how they interact with "Sister". So, I would imagine, not every show is the same. Unfortunately, the night I attended, "Sister" used part of Act II for an open Q & A session that went awry. A non-Catholic woman stood up and asked "Sister" about leadership roles for women in the Church. Buzzword. "Sister" proceeded to make off-the-wall comments about John Paul II's Apostolic Letter "Ordinatio Sacerdotalis," calling it a "Papal Bull" and strongly implying that another four letter word ought to be added to bull.... She said when we get a new pope, women's ordination and married priests could change. She claimed there was no leadership for women in the Church. I guess the obvious example of the superior of a women's religious community must have escaped "Sister". She even said we don't have any leadership in the Church at all (I can almost agree with that remark, at least observing one national episcopal conference). I thought it was sad that Act II took that turn and it made me wonder about the motivation for the whole show. Was it written precisely to further discussion on dissident and controversial issues (women's ordination being dissident, married priests being controversial. Please don't confuse the issues.)? And, how unfortunate that an audience composed largely of Protestants many of whom, I am convinced, thought "Sister" was a real nun and spoke for the Church, was misinformed and misled about Catholicism.

I am thankful that this sad tangent was only a small portion of Act II and I hope that the show doesn't always go in that direction. Perhaps readers who have seen this show can share whether such discussion came up in their viewings of it. After the show I read "Sister's" biography and it was very revealing in light of the skewed interpretation of Catholicism I had just heard:

"Kathy Cogan [w]as most recently seen in the 'Vagina Monologue's' [sic]. When not performing in this 'sister act', Kathy can be heard hosting her own live radio show, The 'NitWit Hour' at, Thursdays at 7:00pm EST. Kathy also produced and performed Cooking for Idiots."

Hhhmm, maybe she could write a spinoff of Late Nite Catechism called Nitwit Catholicism for Idiots.

Friday, April 23, 2004

The Road Warrior

No, I am not remaking the classic post-apocalyptic movie with myself in the Mel Gibson role. I am going to be on the road for the next 4 days. Today, down to Norman for the conference. Saturday, return from Conference for weekend celebrations of the Holy Mass. Sunday, more of the same. Monday, in the city for the teeth cleaning and then back to Alva. Wheee...sigh!

That's the biggest cross of this assignment here in Alva, all the flipping driving. I swear OPEC should send me a thank you card based on my fuel consumption alone.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Seeing Fr. Tharp's post reminds me that I planted some seeds last week for basil and sage. I didn't realize that you can buy the herbs already in plant form and growing. So, today, I purchased two tomato plants (one Roma, one regular), a dill plant, basil plant, sage plant, and rosemary plant. I will be planting them outside tomorrow to see how they survive a Guymon summer. I'm not sure if I should just assume that the outside would be too harsh, thus planting them in a pot and keeping them inside. It will be a learning experience. If I manage to get to use some fresh herbs in the process I will be satisfied until I can perfect the procedure.

There's nothing like fresh herbs.
Why Does My Rectory Smell WONDERFUL?

Because I made pasta with fresh herbs that I am growing in the backyard. The house is scented with garlic, rosemary, and sweet, sweet basil. Man, if they would only make a deodorant in this scent...
Yahoo! News - Spice Substance May Fight Cystic Fibrosis

Well, don't let the Baron Harkonnen find out! He will set out to conquer every Indian restaurant in the quadrant.

Two tasks down, three to go...keep your fingers crossed.
Even More Ratzinger-liciousness

Sorry couldn't resist including this as well. It gives me so much reassurance that I won't be alone when I need to hire orthodox young people for my parish.
Too busy to Blog!

On Friday, I am going down to Norman, OK to see Mark Shea, live and in person. For this to happen the following things have to happen first: 1. finish notes for this week's and next week's Borromeo Project Class, 2. Xerox said notes for the participants, 3. Read the remainder of the section of Meditations Before Mass for the book club, 4. Post the next book with links for the book club, 5. Type up general intercessions and announcements for the weekend, and 6. any other bleeping thing that might turn up.

So, until I get this done, you all are on your own. Stay out of the far end of the pool.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

You Lucky Dogs!

It should go without saying that the degree of jealousy which courses through my body when I see this picture is positively disgusting. Hey, Fr. H, you went to school over there. How do I get hooked up with meeting Smokin' Joe without having to recant anything?
Yahoo! News - Survey Unveils What Happens in Bedroom

I'm sorry...maybe I missed this...but hasn't it been a looooong time since anything happening in people's bedroom was thought as being not fit for public consumption?
Yahoo! News - Mice Created With 2 Genetic Moms, No Dad

Yes, you guessed it. Minnie has two mommies.

Anyone involved in genetic engineering or biomechanics should be forced to sit through Jurassic Park about a thousand times. Then when the genetic monstrosities start running amok, they can say, "Oh, I get it. We shouldn't do these things even if we can do them."
What's on in my ...

CD Player:
Mr. Terfel hails from Wales and this album is a collaboration between himself and Renee Fleming, soprano, also a native of Wales. The Welsh National Orchestra provides the accompaniment. For those who are wondering, there is a certain resemblance between myself and Bryn but it's only in the face. He is a bass/baritone and I am a second tenor. The album is lush and beautiful with only one misstep, namely Terfel's rendition of "Seventy-Six Trombones." It's either that he has got too much voice to sound the part of a con man or that every time I hear this piece my brain channels Robert Preston. Based on this album, I think I am going to get my hands on some Sondheim and Ragtime: The Musical. The last track on the album is a sweeping rendition of "Wheels of A Dream" from "Ragtime." So if this song is any indication, the rest of the musical is interesting indeed.

Tape Deck:
I have taken to listening to a book as I go to sleep at night. As some one who lives on the road, I go through an inordinate number of books on tape/CD. The A&E series turned me on to the stories of Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin. The voice actor reading this edition is particularly effective, evoking shades of noir and Dashell Hammett.

Car's Multideck:
When I mention that I am listening to a book about the making of Oxford English Dictionary, I can see people's eyes glaze over. Then they start to fear for my sanity. But this book is really excellent. Simon Winchester has written several other books about various aspects of nineteenth and twentieth century history. A bonus feature is the author reads his work. The author knows what he wanted to emphasize when he wrote the book and now he has the opportunity to do that with his voice.

DVD Player:
This series is simply a magnum opus. Rent it, watch it, and watch it again. It is simply that good.

These aren't on all at once mind you...
Worst Songs Ever!

Blender magazine, a branch of Maxim I believe, has compiled the list of the 50 worse songs. Sadly, some of these are still favorites of mine. The link above lets you see the criteria employed when making the list.

I know that I am crossing into dangerous territory, but what about liturgical music? I have noticed the "Society for the Moratorium from Haugen and Haas" mentioned on other blogs. I have a great story concerning someone's disdain for Marty Haugen, but that's for another time. There does seem to be a need to scan through hymnals and metaphorically remove useless music. Before Todd posts it, I am not advocating going back to Gregorian Chant alone. I am dismayed to see the wholesale removal of chant (and the Latin language) from the average parish repertoire given that chant for the most part is not terribly difficult. There are many songs written in the last 40 years that are very good. They are many songs that are very bad, both musically and theologically.

So, here's the idea. Name the songs that belong on the list and why. Then when a week or so is up, essentially right before this archives, I will list the most frequent mentioned winners, maybe a first, second, third place thing. Please limit submissions to three per comment.

P.S. When I ran the spell checker, the computer offered the word "hemlock" as a substitution for the word "hymnal." Does Blogger know something we don't?
I hated to do, but...

I really hate banning folks and erasing their comments. I would like this blog to be a place where folks can ask questions and seek the teaching of the Church. But when folks use profane language or demonstrate a hostility to open dialogue, there is no reason why others should have to endure their nonsense. Sorry if that seems harsh, but that is the way things go. Also, if a series of comments is too far off topic of a serious post, then it might become necessary to remove posts, but this seems less likely to me.

So, if you have been banned, I would love to continue the conversation but let's use email. My address is available above.
Sacrament of Matrimony
Today is the 59th Wedding Anniversary of my maternal grandparents. Unfortunately, Grandpa died five years ago. But all the same, here's a tribute to the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony and a prayer for God's blessings of grace and perseverance on all married couples. May the social support for marriage be strengthened in our day so that Christian couples may be encouraged to model the faithful, life-giving love of God!

Tuesday, April 20, 2004 a chainsaw

via Disputations. John at Disputations gives us fruitful meditation in preparation for the feast of St. Catherine of Siena. They are retreat materials. I think that you will get a great kick out of them.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Portrait of a Ragemonkey as a Young Man

Due to a personal disaster as a child, most of the record of my childhood is lost. I found a good picture and am going to host it here.

My Apologies

I got wrapped up in many other things and forgot to post the next block of our book discussion at the book club blog. It's up now! Also, I think I have the next book for the club...
Holy Crow!

I don't believe it! Apparantly, a site in the U.K. ranks the top news sites and blogs. Guess what? CRM ranks third! I only have to take out Amy Wellborn and Catholic Tradition to get to the top. =wink!=

On top of that, apparently CRM was the subject of the conversation at the 2nd Annual BloggerCon. Man, I knew the world was watching but this is a bit much.
This Bodes Well

Get Fuzzy is one of my favorite cartoon strips. The art style is reminiscent of R. Crumb and the writing is funny and inspired on a consistent basis. Having been a Siamese owner and an owner of a dim bulb dog, Satchel and Bucky are the avatars of what cat and dog persons would be like.

So, when today's email cartoon arrived, this is what I received.

As you can see, the strip is about to take a very serious arc for the next several days or weeks. I applaud Darby Conley's bravery and artistic vision in bringing serious subject matter into the comics world view. I am anxious to see how he treats this subject of war in Iraq.
To Stir the Pot Further

I have very mixed feelings about the use of graphic pictures of abortions. When I say "graphic pictures," I mean those pictures of the after effects of abortion where all that remains of the child is pieces of debris. Pictures that show the child in the womb or in the development stages are not meant here. Now back to my point. For example, I think that they can be very effective in settings like lectures, conferences and hearings where the goal is to educate and to enlighten. I don't think that they are very effective in sidewalk counseling because they promote fear and disgust. It seems to me, that at that moment, the goal is leading the woman to embrace the child she is carrying and see the pregnancy through. Many women are already whipped into a frenzy and these pictures, IMHO, serve only to traumatize the woman further. Even if someone walks away from the clinic this doesn't justify tormenting or berating someone in this fashion. Please see "The Error of Ends Justifying the Means."

Many women end up at abortion clinics for reasons other than inconvenience of a failed contraceptive. In my work with Rachel's Vineyard, I have heard stories that would curl your hair. There was the account of one woman whose parents were very pro-life until she ended up pregnant outside of wedlock. Then her father drove her to the clinic. One woman told the story of how a boyfriend threatened to have her beaten if she didn't get the abortion. Also, there is the reality of women who are repeating and reliving the grief of the first abortion by going back and submitting to another one. None of these stories justify the taking of another life, but I think explains the complexity of what is happening in that moment.

But this story has got me intrigued. The BBC is going to broadcast footage of an abortion taking place. This is very unlike Moloch to tip his hand this way. Normally, he likes to play from the shadows and let others take the fall. By taking us into the inner sanctuary of abortion, we will see hopefully some of the horror that is involved. But I suspect that there will be very good sedatives handed out and that we will get a very specific patient on the table. TV being such as it is, the situation will be heavily sanitized.

If your cable provider has BBC America, see if they are going to show this and then fill the rest of us in.
I was just coming down from...

a major biotech/bioweapons jag. Now I have to get back on.

I read several, okay 7 or 8, books on bioterrorism in the last several months. It was fascinating and scary and informative all at once. I wanted to take a course at the university in virology, but that's not offered here. All of the priests cringe when I come near for fear that the conversation will turn to wily viruses. I also love weird insects with odd attacks and defenses e.g. the Tarantula Hawk wasp or the Human Botfly. Now, we have one more to consider.

Apparently, a very nasty sand fly lives in the Iraqi sands. It lives symbiotically with another critter in its gut. When the sand fly stings it leaves this other critter behind. Then this other critter flourishes in the skin cells and leaves boils and blisters behind. Here's an example of its handiwork.

If people weren't being inconvenienced and injured by it, I would comment on how cool its defense systems work.
Signs it is time to move
Perhaps readers will want to share any wacky stories they have to add to a list of signs that it is time to pack up and move to a new neighborhood.

If you read my earlier post today, you have probably gathered that I am at Mom's house. I have encouraged my mom and stepdad to consider moving to a new home for some time now. Today I saw another sign in this simple and rather quiet neighborhood that renews my opinion it is time to move. As I turned the corner from Mom's house, my peripheral vision caught something on the porch of an elderly neighbor's house. This neighbor has always been a rather colorful character.

I can still recall my first encounter with him when my family moved into our home. I was eight years old and I was introducing my dachshund puppy to his new and rather large backyard. Unbeknownst to any of us, a calico cat had given birth to a litter of kittens in the center of a large iris patch in the yard. As my puppy amused himself by hunting around in the iris patch, I suddenly heard this nasty hissing sound and my pup began barking wildly. After some time, I put the cat and her kittens in a box and let them stay in the garage. My dog was not happy and kept barking and barking. I am sure it was very obnoxious. That's when I met the old man. He came walking across the street and without so much as a word of introduction or a welcome to the new neighbor, he lodged a rather stern complaint and told me to shut the dog up. I can't recall for certain, but I think he may have even made the suggestion that if I didn't find a way to shut the dog up, he would.

After a little while, the man became a bit more friendly. It could even be said that for a few years he sort of looked out for us and was perhaps slightly protective of us.

Sadly, recent events are confirming that he is probably experiencing some senility. After a female neighbor moved, the old man showed up on our porch and said some very unflattering things to my mom about the former neighbor. As my mom recounts that event, you would think from the obscenities that peppered his words, that our porch is a dock where sailors come to and fro. We were all stunned.

And today, another confirmation. What did my peripheral vision capture on that man's porch? I saw a figure. So, I turned to see who it was. There was the old neighbor, standing just outside of his door, trying to collect the mail from his box. He stood there in night shirt from the waist up and from the waist down -- NOTHING! Yep, except for the shirt, buck naked on his front porch, facing a street that is a significant thoroughfare. So, that's my sign that it may be time to consider changing neighborhoods. It also will help us understand any future bizarre encounters we may have with this man. His mental faculties must be seriously diminished.
Hard to believe
Today marks the ninth anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing. Nine years ago the calendar must have been lined up much as it is this year: I had just spent Easter week at home with my family and returned to seminary college. And it was that week after Easter (a Wednesday that year) that the terrible deed was done.

Previous to the bombing I had not known one thing about Oklahoma City's Federal Building. But watching the news coverage of the event from the seminary TV lounge, I realized that just days before the bombing, I had been on the opposite street corner from the Federal Building, returning a passport application to the downtown Post Office.

May healing continue to happen in the lives of the many people traumatized in any way by that horrific event nine years ago. Perhaps the healing needed most now is an emotional and spiritual one: to forgive and to move on. The vengeance desired by many victim families is as palpable as the almost daily local media coverage of the State of Oklahoma's capital murder trial of bombing conspirator Terry Nichols.
Making too much of a "good thing"
I was absolutely exhausted from a whirlwind weekend. Every night last week was consumed with full rehearsals for "The Sound of Music". The show opened on Friday, with another show on Saturday evening, following confessions and Mass. I think I must have been wired because I could not get to sleep Saturday night. I got up and cleaned up my office (it really needed it!) and finally fell asleep around 2:30 a.m. I was up again at 5:30 a.m. for the drive to one of our missions and then back for another Mass. I had a quick lunch and a brief nap before Sunday afternoon's matinee show. After that, I threw several things in a bag and hit the road for the four hour drive to Oklahoma City and my free days for the month. I was exhausted by the time I made it to Mom's house.

So, I slept in until about 10:00 a.m. this morning. As I was eating my late morning cereal, I turned on the TV and found Martha Stewart Living in progress. She gave a demonstration of the various types of work gloves for gardening and household chores. Certain gloves work better for use with tools; gloves made of different material are great for working in the rose garden and dulling the thorns before giving the rose to someone. And in true Martha style, she had an organized box where she keeps all her gloves. The kicker for me was that before showing her audience how to store the gloves in the box, she clipped each pair together with a clothes pin. Now, I am sort of with her (sort of!) when it comes to having different gloves for different chores, though I have only one pair that I keep in my trunk for changing tires and car work. But, come on!, clipping them together? As if when I open the fabled glove container, it is really going to strain me to pick out an UN-clipped pair of gloves? I mean, glove matching, folks! That's a rudimentary Sesame Street exercise! If, by some obsessive-compulsive nightmare, I should accidentally pull out two mismatched gloves, why, I'll just quickly get the match to the pair I desire and throw the other glove back in the box! Though Martha always has some fine observations and household insights, I think her neurosis got the better of her in that segment, such that she made too much of a "good thing".

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Clamoring for Pix!

Since someone has asked for a photo of me, I found one featured on the internet already. See it here.

This one is for Fr. Hamiliton and Otto (of da Fe fame). I initially didn't enjoy scotch. That ended with a taste of Glenmorangie. Its basic permutation is a single malt scotch, 15 years resting in a barrel. Yummy with a little soda water over ice. There are varients flavored with port, madiera, and a 12 year aged variety. In several conversations with other scotch lovers concerning their favorites, I have received many suggestions. So as a public service, I sat down with one ounce of two lovely scotches poured over several very chilly ice cubes. Consider it a special taste test for those returning to the joys of alcohol in the Easter season. Tonight's selections are Pinch Dimple and Laphroiag. I understand that this is a litte unfair in that one is a blended scotch and a single malt scotch.

Here's the Score Card:

1.) Laphroiag
a.) Nose: Spicy and smoky. Reminds me of oak logs burning in a hearth of a chilly room.
b.) First Sip: Bitter with a burst of peat. Smooth with a sense of citrus and nuttiness of the roasted barley.
c.) On the Tongue: Satisfying tingle on the tongue with no lingering flavor. A sense of sweetness as it evaporated. The sweetness suggested vanilla or butter, something rich and silky.
d.) Finish: Clean without residual flavor.

2.) Pinch Dimple
a.) Nose: Mellow and light. A hint of peat.
b.) First Sip: Sharp snap with no peat. A whiff of smoke or oak as it lingered in the mouth.
c.) On the Tongue: Bright, tangy, lingering while maintaining a mild taste. Not overpowering though.
d.) Finish: Clean, no overwhelming contrast.

I would say the Laphroiag is best for the after dinner drink and the Pinch is best as the before dinner cocktail.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Subservient Chicken

This is so creepy. There are not enough letters in the word "creepy" to describe the creepiness of this area. But it is fascinating. Who is this guy?
via DaveTown:
1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.

"Even when behavior remains outwardly controlled, an inner restlessness is clearly evident in the way people sing, listen, respond -- in the their whole bearing."
Fr. Bob Vila?
In the comments section of my "Mirror, mirror, on the wall" post, Cornelius notices that two of the three photos have me placed in an open doorway. He very astutely notes that there may be some spiritual significance to this. Yes, indeed, the spiritual message can certainly be "Knock and the door shall be opened to you". As well, I continue to try to connect my ministry to the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 and the Holy Father's call to "Open Wide the Doors to Christ!"

However, there is a much simpler explanation for the settings of those two photos. On the local cable access station, I host a clerical "This Old House" show. You might call me "Fr. Bob Vila"! You will note that the first photo from the "Mirror" post is clearly soon after my arrival on the scene. I am in ordinary, non-liturgical, attire to survey the scene. Behind me you can see the disastrous state of the house we tackled on that episode. The doorway is unfinished. There is sheet rock missing and insulation is still exposed. One can still see the air ducts and electrical wiring. Oh, Saints, preserve us! Thankfully they called Fr. Vila and his crew of "other suitable ministers" to do the job. After much labor, the third photo shows me in the same doorway after renovation. The doorway is complete, the walls are up and painted and the ugliness of the prior scene is gone. Therefore, with task completed, I have donned festive liturgical garb to both celebrate a job well done and to preside at the formal house blessing.

I hope that explains a few things.

Friday, April 16, 2004


I came downstairs this afternoon to answer the door bell. I was expecting someone so this was no surprise. What was a surprise was finding the appointment rifling through my car. That's right, readers. I parked in front of the rectory and apparently didn't hit the door lock button on my key ring. This fellow was in my car picking up the pennies and checking my odometer so that I would rotate my tires. At least, that's what he said. I questioned why he thought he could go rooting about in my car and he started screaming and saying that my attitude was bad, etc., yakkity schmakity. The capper was as he drove away in a rage, he called the rectory on the cell phone and tried to continue to blame me. Thank God for answering machines.

It is crazy people like this that make my life as a priest beastly. Because you are this public person and because of your office in the Church, parishioners act like they can literally barge in anywhere in my private life. I had someone come in a public restroom once and try to carry on a conversation with me while I was otherwise engaged, if you follow my meaning.

And before someone says it, yes, I know he was trying to do something nice for me, but he did it in an offensive way. Would he be thrilled if I just walked into his house to see if the lint needed to be cleared from the dryer? I don't want his house to burn down. But that doesn't justify or rationalize my actions.

Needless to say, my car stays in the garage from now on. The nerve of some people....
Mirror, mirror, on the wall...
...who's the most biretta-ed one of all? Well, it is another blog first. Concerning some of the "Sound of Music" posts, there has been a request for some photos so that readers of the blog can more fully and actively participate in this adventure. So, here they are! There are three photos.
(1) Backstage with my cassock and biretta on, before donning the full attire.

(2) A profile shot of me at the wedding scene in the play, marrying Captain Von Trapp and Maria.

(3) Since the biretta isn't visible in the photo from the show (due to black back drop), a photo of me in my office as I dress for my scene in the show.

It sort of makes you wonder what year it is, no? Well, for all of our Fr. Andrew Greeley and Fr. Richard McBrien-type readers, it is 2004, Baby! In your face! Eat your heart out, false spirit of Vatican II! OH, and did I mention how delighted I am that I beat Fr. Tharp to the punch by posting real photos of myself on the blog first? A huge debt of gratitude goes to Techmonkey Dave who has graciously hosted these photos on his web site!

Thursday, April 15, 2004

New Developments for TV

Since others have suggested revising literature, what about TV? Are there new series or angles to play out?

For example, Star Trek. After four series, one might think the idea is drained but I don't agree. Granted the new series is explosively awful, there are three ideas I have had. First, Star Trek: Border Patrol. In this series, several starships form part of crack unit that protects the boundaries of the Federation from incursion and investigate crimes that deal with other races and species outside the Federation. Second, Star Trek Academy. The only danger I can see with this one is it becomes Dawson's Creek with a phaser. Third, Section 39: Starfleet Intelligence. This series has the asset of being darker and the more unattractive sides of the Federation.

Also, which series deserves a new spin-off, CSI or Law and Order? Right now, L&O leads 2 to 1. And if you spin it off, to where or to what aspect of crime?
Uh, DUH!

I don't want to seem like I am making fun of a serious illness. I am making fun of the news coverage of this story. I couldn't find a link that didn't lead to very adult material so you will have to research this one yourself.

Apparently, there is a major scare flying around the porn industry. A prominent star has tested positive for HIV. I know, I know, some in the media find it surprising that high risk behavior, such as premarital sex, leads to catching and spreading major STD's. =SHOCKING=

More to the point the actors featured in the articles are also surprised. I guess sin does make you dumb. Once you separate the procreation of children from sexual intercourse, then you can separate the bonding needed and promoted. But you can't escape wily viruses no matter how much you delude yourself.

Pray for those involved in the porn industry. It's a very bad gig.
Blame Canada!

When I first read the writing of Michael O'Brien, I found it hard to believe that his words reflected the state of affairs in our placid neighbor to the north. I guess I was due for an education.

First, there is the question of hate speech. While the United States has slowly slid into the morass of materialism and relativistic thinking, Canada has lubed up the slide and gone down face first. Now, I am not one to say that all speech is necessarily protected especially when it is meant to terrorize others. But when the Bible and the Catechism are explicitly mentioned as HATE LITERATURE, you know you have no friends there. Check out Pete Vere at Envoy Encore.

Second, Canada resumes its cottage industry for war deserters. The article is here.

Third, hockey is an evil and unnatural sport. But more on that later...

I don't know how, but someone found my picture and posted it on the Web. Go here for more.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

A clear voice for the future!

Many people have been worried about their votes this November, but I am not. I choose to stand above the mudslinging and name calling to back the candidate who can bring a hopeful, prosperous future. His official website is here.

Granted he is a little hard on rebellious elements in the society, but if blowing up a free world is what it takes to get the job done, then so be it. I will be moving back to Coruscant in the near future.
oooo, fun!

Grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 18, find line 4. Write down what it says
(Fifth Sunday of Lent)

Stretch your left arm out as far as you can. What do you touch first?
My incredibly cluttered desk

What is the last thing you watched on TV?
Murder She Wrote

What is on the walls of the room you are in?
Guatamalan Crucifix, Clock ticking loudly, an icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and a picture of Saint Therese

What is the last movie you saw?
The Passion of the Christ.

If you became a multi-millionaire overnight, what would you buy first?
An end to my debts

Tell me something about you that I don't know.
I find slapstick comedy amusing on a level that is almost inappropriate. At one time, I was considering working for the Disney Corporation.

Via Mixolydian Mode.

Let There Be Music!

This post has nothing to do with Fr. Hamilton's upcoming performance. It has to do with the blogosphere's resident mad genius. Victor Lams was kind enough to honor my request for a blog tone. For those unfamiliar with the concept, think of it as the blog's door bell. You can ring it whenever you show up.

Apparently, he wanted to get us to guinea pig his new double compliant format. So, both Internet Exploder and Flash should operate the link up correctly.

The tone itself is great. It's got overtones of They Might Be Giants with a chipper Imperial March although I doubt these are the only influences present. I love music but don't possess the skills to make my own. Check it out and leave a review below. Thanks Victor for beautifying our little blog.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

My Kind of People!

I am becoming more and more troubled by the oncoming conflict with and because of John Kerry's dubious Catholicism. These people agree. Continue checking the site for more stuff. I will have more to say on this matter in the weeks to come.
Atmospheric Formation Environment

Call to Action got an earful from the priests of Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The story is here. It does my heart good to hear such things. It suggests that one's formation as a seminarian can be positively reinforced by the presence of priests who actually =shocking= practice the Catholic Faith themselves. People of Philadelphia, hope this makes you feel better.

I would be curious to find out what the results were for my diocese...
Stories from the Easter Vigil, Part One

The family of the four Mexican children threw a big party in advance of the Vigil to celebrate the sacraments the kids were going to receive. Apparently, one of the traditional party foods served in Mexican households is chicerones, better known as pork rinds. These were different in that bigger and fresher and had pieces of meat still attached. How did I know that they were fresh? The bristles of the hog were still in evidence.

After staring at these hairs for so long, I had to slip out. They just turned my stomach.
New Post in the Apologetics Frontier

Check out the new post on Apologize and Don't Be Sorry! A little reflection upon the Creed seemed in order in this season of conversion and renewal of Baptismal Promises.
A priestly first
Holy Week was oh, so, busy! The week before Holy Week I had spent some days off in Oklahoma City and also attending the seminary visitation trip as well as assisting at a Senior Class day of reflection for one of our Catholic high schools. I returned to my parish for Passion Sunday and then was back on the road for the Chrism Mass on Tuesday of Holy Week. I came back to my parish on Wednesday. Then, the very next day, I packed up some things and drove to our mission an hour away. I stayed there Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, celebrating the whole Sacred Triduum. Since this particular mission parish is so isolated, the associate pastor (that's me) typically goes there and does the whole Triduum.

It was so beautiful! And it was a priestly first for me to be responsible for all three sacred liturgies on those holy days. Up until now, the Good Friday Service of the Lord's Passion was the only one at which I was principal celebrant. As associate pastor, you typically concelebrate with the pastor on Holy Thursday and at the Easter Vigil. All the ceremonies went very well. The servers responded well to my training sessions. I also managed to make some parochial visits to a few homes while I was in that town. And, most importantly, the ceremonies were solemn and grace filled. I pulled out all sorts of old candelabra and candle holders, putting them in the oven to melt the wax off and cleaning them up a bit. Our Holy Thursday procession at the transfer of the Holy Eucharist went outside and around one side of the church. And we had candles everywhere for the Easter Vigil. And it was my pleasure to receive three people into the Catholic Church. We have two more awaiting some marriage cases before they can fully enter and we have another who actually completed his initiation before the Easter Vigil due to a hospital visit in which it was feared he might die. A great group for a small mission church! May it continue.
"Pleased to meet you...hope you guess my name"
This corny reference to Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil" is my way of saying I feel as if I should reintroduce myself to the blog after my long silence. I have been away from any serious blogging for some time. Part of it is that I have been away from my computer for days at a time and part of it is that I have been rather preoccupied with many things of late. I have also been struggling to learn how to use my new Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) more effectively. So, that is where my technological energies have been focused. Also, nightly rehearsals for the "Sound of Music" have begun and I am at our local theatre trying to lend support and waiting for my brief appearance. Tonight was the first night in costume: I wore cassock, surplice, stole, cope, and biretta. People were in awe. I had non-Catholics just stunned at the liturgical elegance and even some of the high school guys wanted to try the biretta and cope on. I told them all they needed to do was become Catholic and then become priests.

Much like Kindergarten finger paint wars, I see someone has commandeered all the colors on the blog in a unilateral show of force. Oh, well, no matter what the color, with my return readers can again enjoy the balance, insight, and pastoral sensitivity you have come to expect from my posts!

Monday, April 12, 2004

A Rare Privilege

I had the most interesting experience that went past me because I was distracted. There is a marvelous irony when a convert (edited by me, thanks Karl for the note) priest places his hand on a candidate's shoulder and says, "The Lord receives you into the Catholic Church." You can sense their fear melting, the joy coming into their eyes, and the realization that everything they hoped for is now happening. My head was swimming when I was initiated into the Catholic Faith, and it moved me to tears that night. God so loved the world that He did not forget one sad little fellow in Oklahoma. I hope that is what they came to know. My parish in Alva is stronger by 6. And I hope those in attendance got the message too. It is time to change and take all this very seriously.

It is the logical conclusion of my own conversion that I would be bringing people to the font and making new Christians or perfecting the conversion of other Christians, through my sacramental ministry. Even if I had not been called to the priesthood, I know that I would be working to help people become Catholic. How I am not sure? I also know though that my soul would be in jeopardy if God had not called me to the priesthood. While the sacrament of Holy Order is to build up communion in the Church, it can result in salvation for the one ordained if he gives himself freely in loving service.

I think I know what St. Paul experienced. He too went from darkness to light and then spent the rest of his life doing the same. I did that for the first time at the Easter Vigil 2004. In the past, I have been closely involved with RCIA but this was the first year I administered all of the aspects of initiation. From start to finish, these people were guided by the Holy Spirit and enlightened by Christ. It is an awesome responsibility to assist in this. And terrifying. And I am already working on improving next year's programming.

And to think, I missed the event because I was fighting to remember what came next!
Renewal of Literature

Via Musing on Muses. There has been some discussion about how certain genres need some reworking because they have become cliche. So far we have folks working to fix fantasy, horror, spiritual thrillers, and romance. I'll throw my hat in for science fiction.

Science fiction uses a speculative future to examine the things that make us truly human. It is analysis by comparison. By contrasting the things that changed we see the things that have remained the same within ourselves. When the average person thinks of sci-fi, two things come to mind: Star Trek and Star Wars. Nothing wrong with that if a little limited. This sort of sci-fi thinking leaves out people like Heinlein, Asimov, Bradbury, Turtledove, Dick, and many others.

Religion is a rarely treated subject. For me, the question of what religion will look like in the future opens my thinking about what is happening around me now. What if we discover aliens? Are they persons? Are they fallen? If so, how would you evangelize? If the speed of light is the maximum matter can move, then would you assign a bishop and a few priests to care for the needs of a generation ship (a ship that can sustain a society aboard it)? Would that ship be its own diocese? Would you limit how often people can go to communion because you might run out hosts or wine? And don't get me started on what the seminary would be like?
New Posts in the New Season

With the theme of newness in play, I searched for some new links. Here's what I found:

Domenico Bettinelli, Jr.
Ecclesia et Mundus
Empire Builder Fan
From the Anchor Hold (where are you posting from anyway?)
Open Book (I have been enjoying this blog several weeks. Thanks Ms. Wellborn for the link)
Recta Ratio
Res et Rationes
Summa Mamas (I think I linked these lovely ladies earlier, but now I am letting you know it's here.)

Thanks for all the continued linkage. If I have missed anyone, let me know.

The Easter Homily

This year marks the fourth time I have preached on the mystery of the Resurrection of Christ. The last three years have been nice homilies, in that they were meant to stress the comforting aspect of the feast day. But this year I changed my homily. I started with the "standard" nice homily but then I threw in the punchline. The punchline is if you really believe that Christ is risen from the dead, then you must change. If you believe He is a corpse, then don't change a thing. I wonder what kind of impact it will have.

So many people visit a church on Easter Sunday and somehow they think that this is enough to maintain the relationship with Christ. Or perhaps it is because they are simply doing what they think the common expectation is, namely, you are supposed to go to church on Easter. I am not trying to make a judgment. I am trying to see things the way these visitors might see things.

In years past, I have thought that to bring these people back you must coax them. I am starting to change my mind. For someone to return to Faith, I think you have "sour the milk." Just as in animals, the pastor must encourage gently the movement toward maturity of Faith. Screaming at them is not going to be effective and I understand that. At the same turn, coddling and acting like this is an ideal situation does no good either.

The Resurrection opens a new horizon, a vertical horizon. It causes us to lift our eyes and hope that the death of now is only a coda in the symphony of life. In the Resurrection, that's all death would be. A pause before the music swells and fully comes to its revelation.
Change the Surroundings

I made a few small changes to the site. What do you think?
Resurrexit Sicut Dixit

Awake, my friends! The Glory of the Lord radiates around us! With greatest joy may the Lord bless and strengthen you.