Saturday, July 17, 2004

Yahoo! News - Monkey Rescued From Being Put on Menu

All I can say is "Whew!"
Austrians Want Bishop's Resignation

Before you think this is another media slapdown campaign, I think the Austrians might have a SERIOUSLY valid case. In other words, I don't think this is another Cardinal Law with better chocolate and sausage. I think it's much worse!
Sad but True!

Sunday Melts Into Just Part of the Week
Friendly Reminders
 
The next round of comments are available for viewing at A Dusty, Sunny Corner.  Enjoy!

Friday, July 16, 2004

No Investigation Needed

CSI proves to me that the possibility of good television programming that emphasizes good characterization and good writing can exist, be popular, and most important in most programmers' minds, be profitable. But there is a demon in the freezer: greed. Once you smell a good thing, there is a compulsive desire to take all you can from it. When you are thirsty for milk, look for a dairy cow.

Well, folks, CBS's teet is dry. Jorja Fox and George Eads, two principal leads from the cast, got FIRED! Why, pray tell? These two good, although not excellent or peerless, actors wanted more green to make the scene. CBS told them to find a new scene.

Is this another case where sin makes you stupid? Were they being well-compensated? I would think so. Do they need more money? As there are no reports of new children or new adoptions or elder parents moving in with them, I would vote again "no." It would follow then that asking for more money is some sort of power play or ego boost or something in that line. It goes without saying that CBS could be, and in fact, are, equally complict in their departures as CBS is making a probable small fortune off the show. I say probable because I don't have access to financials for the company. It wouldn't kill them to up the pay a bit. In other words, in this little melodrama, you get to hiss freely at every one you see.

It seems to me though that this act of theirs is also profoundly selfish. While these two play prominent roles on the show, there are three other main actors. If Fox and Eads want more money, how about acting as an ensemble, or do they think they are that important? Because the show is built around an ensemble, there is a serious risk that the show might founder and be cancelled. Once you get a good chemistry, it is extraordinarily difficult to do it twice, that whole "catching lightning in a bottle" trick. It doesn't cross the viewing public's mind how many people are actually employed by a television series. If CSI goes off the air, then all those folks lose their jobs also.

So while I wish Fox and Eads the best in the future, this current moment leaves me a little peeved.
Stewart Sentenced to 5 Months in Prison

Most of our long time readers know of my disdain for all the attention this case has received. When you compare Stewart piddly $50,000.00 gain from shady exchange practices to the hundreds of millions taken from pensions and retirement funds by the greedy, money-worshipping jerks (that isn't too judgmental, is it?) at places like Tyco or Enron, it is quite possibly the perfect case of the media manufacturing the news. This is not to say that Ms. Stewart doesn't deserve to be arrested, tried, and thrown in prison, if found guilty, for her wrong doing, but let's keep it in perspective.

The news of her arrest and sentencing led to some funny reflections this morning. I am standing in the kitchen working on some homemade salsa and listening to Regis and Kelly with the occasional broken-in aside from CBS news. (The local CBS affliate carries R&K.) I started thinking about how so many celebrities, after moments such as these, find religion. Recently I heard that Stephen Baldwin had become an Evangelical Christian and anyone who has flipped past TBN on his cable box has spotted a parade of musicians, sports heroes, and other celebrity types, weeping and professing how they've changed, they've really changed. (BTW, why don't we hear about these celebrity types becoming Catholic? Is no one trying to reach these folks?) Well, when I thought of Martha Stewart on that one show with the woman with mile-high hair and terrible make-up, I quite nearly lopped off a finger while chopping cilantro. Seriously. I am sure that Martha could help out TBN in the decorating department in ways scarcely imagined by mortal minds...

Thursday, July 15, 2004

It just keeps growing

Since I am mentally only half here, I decided to update the link list on the sidebar. Some new blogs with great names, so of course they are well worth your time and effort. Check them out and if you link us we will link you back.
When will the Madness end?

People who are terribly creative both entertain and frighten me. I simply can't figure out how their minds work that helps them come up with some of this stuff. Case in point: Alien in 30 seconds with bunnies. There is one naughty word, so let the viewer beware.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

So a guy walks up to an ATM...

I don't get the whole StrongBad thing, but because it has They Might Be Giants as its theme song, it must be linked here.

Props to CAEI or whatever the hell they are currently calling it. Please Shea get the name back to normal....
It's in the works...

Okay, folks, things here at CRM Alva is starting to get a little busy. Between trying to get geared up for a potential Mark Shea visit in November and the rest of the details that must be coordinated for next year, the blogging might be light. I think I have lined up the four places for Mark's visit to Northwest Oklahoma so the next step is to drive every one nuts until the comply with my will.
When You Know That You Are a Serious Catholic

When my sister and I took her daughter and our mother to see the movie "Shrek," I didn't expect an opportunity for catechesis. At the end of the movie, as all you who have seen it know, Princess Fiona ends up married to Faraquad. They say "I do" and everything, as opposed to another marriage scenario in a popular movie. I am sitting there in the dark thinking, "Oh, great, another movie in praise of divorce." Instead, the dragon eats Faraquad and clears the way for Shrek. I sat there thumbing through the mental index to make sure the marriage to Shrek would be valid. But that's not the funny part. As we are walking out of the theater, my sister turns to me and says, "That second marriage was valid, wasn't it?"

These things happen once you start to navigate your life by the true pole of the Catholic Faith. At the same time, it can go a bit overboard.

Recently, after weekday Mass, a well-intentioned, but not well-catechized, woman came up to me and asked me if I knew of a good biography of St. Mary Magdalene. Now, I dropped into the thousand yard stare, not because I was searching my intellect for an appropriate title, but because I was thinking should I mention The DaVinci Code? I told her I would look around, but my suspicion-o-meter was going red line.

Friday, July 09, 2004

The Freshest Posts

Fresh as in recent, not as in cheeky. I just got the first post for this month's book up. I have omitted my omnious and threatening discussion questions so that people will feel more free to respond. So all you have to go on is my comments. Good luck.

See it here.
Notes from a Lazy, Fat Priest's Holiday

I meant to post this weeks ago, but life intervened. One of the true joys of my time in Philly were the restaurants. Bookbinders was the place for a great meal and a perfect martini. The meatballs and sauces at Ralph's rated tops, although the vague Sopranos air did trouble me. The Victor Cafe, however, tops them all.

A wonderful Italian restaurant that features some of the great history of Opera in Philadelphia. But you will need to check out the website for more info.
Kerryopoly

A good friend from seminary who did not go on to ordination loves sending me things like this. Find out how quickly the average American can last living la vita Kerry! With his very wealthy trial lawyer buddy on the ticket, this only gets more extreme.

And yes, before someone says it, I know that Bush and Cheney are not exactly broke either. But at least, they aren't trying to push the populist angle.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

On the Erstwhile VP Candidate

There is a historical parallel between this upcoming election and the 1900 election between McKinley and Bryan. McKinley, the encumbant, was respected for his policies but in public was a cold fish. One pundit of the time quipped that every hand that touched McKinley's became a Democrat. On the other side, William Jennings Bryan, a political firebrand best known for his "Cross of Gold" speech which called for radical economic reform to relieve the needs of farmers, was able to light up a room, but he sounded too often like a socialist. That simply wasn't going to fly. But the Republican party bosses were a little, okay, more than a little concerned, about Bryan beating McKinley. So what to do? To get rid of another problem in New York State, Thomas Platt, a New York Republican politico, pushed for a well-known local politician to become running mate to McKinley. Who is that erstwhile VP?

Teddy Roosevelt.

The Rough Rider himself was able to help the flagging campaign and bring about the re-election of McKinley, whom he didn't particularly care for. His running as VP was both a condition of Roosevelt's own ambition and the spirit of "taking one for the team." Of course, this all paid off for Teddy when McKinley is assassinated the next year.

It all sounds vaguely like our election with the roles reversed. The candidate challenger is the cold fish who needs a little boost in the public relations department. The encumbant is both liked and not trusted in the same breath. And whether or not, Edwards will help or hurt Kerry's chances remains to be seen. But I think we can put forward the rule: when you drag out the pretty boy, you know you are in trouble. Unless Edwards actually has something to bring to the table apart from good looks.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Liturgical sanity: Part II
Or: Father has discovered some things.

Wow. I was shocked when I returned from one of my missions today to see the explosion of comments on my original post. In 24 hours the comments almost doubled, I think. I can't possibly remember or respond to the many points of view and opinions offered in the comments box, but I do have some additional remarks.

(1) Certainly, I appreciate comments of differing view points. I will admit surprise at how volatile was the expression of some of those points. One person claiming to be a priest left comments which I think are fairly classified as wild accusations. Oh well.

(2) Another commenter reminded us that it was I who was present at the Mass. With all due respect to the many suggestions offered as explanation for why no one initially moved to serve as lector, I certainly would not have been angry if those explanations were truly in the mix. For example, if I knew that none of the 60 people present were comfortable reading or that none of them could read, I certainly wouldn't have used my time to tell you all I was furious about that. That would have been silly. There were people present who can and could have read. As I have said time and again, I was angry because even after I asked for help, no one moved. That's what got me angry.

(3) I have been surprised at the comments that express shock that a priest gets angry. It seems to me that if you are not surprised at other human emotions/reactions from a priest, then you ought not be surprised with anger. Furthermore, anger was something the Lord experienced. If your image of Jesus is just a warm, nice guy who never got angry and let people walk over him all the time, you don't have the complete picture of the Savior who is God-made-man. Now, might I have dealt with, or expressed my anger differently, even a more appropriate way? I suppose so. I am a man and a work in progress on the holiness meter. Of course I need to grow in charity. No doubt, if I were more charitable, I may not have reacted quite so strongly as I did. While I won't pretend that my anger found the best expression (neither during Mass or afterwards in recounting it to you), I still hold that anger is a justified response when no one moved to help, though there were plenty of qualified people present. And by the way, though I admitted being angry during Mass, many comments seemed to make an ENORMOUS leap in assuming that I became some sort of ferocious, drooling dog, staring out angrily at the people with searing eyes even as I held the Body of the Lord in my hands. Come on now.

(4) I have learned some new information that helps me understand how the original problem happened to begin with. The parish has not been accustomed to organization and planning. I however expect it and the transition to my expectations is going to take time. After ranting on the blog and reading many comments, I started doing some homework and discovered, to my surprise, that in fact the parish does not have a schedule of lay ministers for the Spanish Masses. We do for the English, but not the Spanish. Knowing that we had "a schedule" I had presumed that meant a schedule for every Mass. I was unaware of the deficiency. Remember I am only two months here as pastor. I suppose what normally happens is that missing ministers is not usually a problem because our Mexican Sisters find people to fulfill the various roles before I even arrive for Mass (remember I am on the road returning from a mission parish one hour away). However, now the Sisters are back in Mexico for two months and so, guess what? Things are falling through the cracks. So, to those who leveled bizarre accusations presuming my presence as pastor for TWO MONTHS has already had such negative effects as dwindling numbers and absent lay ministers,... please! Now, with more information about some of the practices I have inherited here, I can move forward and try to make some positive changes.

(5) I take responsibility that my ranting elicited some equally strong reactions. But given the information I had at the time and the brief time I have been here as pastor, I think my reaction was reasonable, if not perfect. With the new discoveries I have now made, were I to rant about the same matter again, I would be out of line and guilty of SOME of the things mentioned in the comments box.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Another Reason to Homeschool...

...can be found here. Since Mark Shea is taking some time off from the blog, I thought I might pinch hit for him.

BTW, in his last post, the Shea-meister sounded stressed and tired. Say a short prayer for this great Catholic apologist.
Kerry Says He Believes Life Starts at Conception.

Okay, it's logic time, friends and neighbors. If Kerry holds the proposition that Life Starts at Conception, and if Kerry also supports a pro-abortion stance (and it would be helpful to know if we are talking about a stance that merely condones abortion while not seeking to advance it versus a stance that advocates abortion services available next to the Slurpee machines at the 7-11), then does this make him stupid or crazy. I know. I am being terribly uncatholic by insisting that you chose one or the other.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Man's and Nature's Fireworks
A Happy Independence Day to all of our readers! I stepped outside tonight to watch the fireworks presided over by our local firefighters and got more of a show than I expected. That's because Nature was also lighting up the sky as a storm moved in. West of my location were the colorful flashes of fireworks and to the east some truly brilliant cloud and cloud to ground lightning. Finally, to those interested in American Flag etiquette, tomorrow (July 5) is the final full day of flying the flag at half mast in honor of President Reagan.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Liturgical sanity and ad orientem
I got a huge laugh from Fr. Tharp's personal words of anniversary congratulations to me in our earlier phone conversation today. He said: "Congratulations for making it five years without killing anybody." However, I am not sure I will make it five years and a day. Allow me to explain.

I had one of the most disappointing celebrations of the Holy Mass this evening in recent memory. This weekend finds me with the Spanish Mass rotation. Crowds both at the Saturday evening English and the Saturday evening Spanish Masses have been getting smaller (perhaps a summer phenomenon). Tonight there were about 60 people present. The Spanish Mass is almost always a circus (in my cultural estimation) and quite disappointing for me. Tonight it was even more so. Almost no one sang. I had three little girls serving Mass (I am no fan of altar girls) while at least two young men who never serve sat in the pews . I sat down after the opening prayer and no one moved to come forward to read. From my chair I announced that we needed a reader. And this is where disappointment turned to fury: NO ONE MOVED! People sat there and looked at each other, a few made slight "no" motions of the head, and I sat there looking out at the people. I was just about to stand up and announce that the Mass was canceled, when a nice lady finally stood up way in the back of the church and came forward to read. I am glad she finally jumped in, but I was furious for the remainder of the Mass, as I am even now.

I'm sorry if you disagree with me, but if this nonsense keeps up, I am not going to feel in ANY WAY obliged to offer Mass in these people's tongue so they can sit there and not sing, refuse to enlist their sons for service as altar boys, and refuse to serve as lector EVEN AFTER THE PRIEST ASKS FOR HELP. Am I the only one who finds it ridiculous that I am expected to provide such service to people who show almost no tangible interest in what is being offered (but who would certainly act offended and raise a stink were such service to end)? I mean, I think the mere fact that I, a gringo, am at least trying to sing these Spanish songs ought to shame everyone else in the congregation to at least give it some effort.

Though not a total solution, could I at least enjoy a bit more liturgical sanity by adopting an "ad orientem" liturgical posture? At least by facing liturgical east I wouldn't have to look out at the bored faces, motionless mouths, and the many who say "I will not serve." No, this isn't a recent opinion of mine; just another manifestation or confirmation of the folly of what passes as liturgy these days. I have long held in esteem much of what would be considered "traditional" liturgics. And I am not primarily intending to enter into a "New Mass" vs. "Old Mass" argument here. I refer simply to some of the postures and the order that is normally associated with the Tridentine Rite, but which may also be used in the "New Mass." Don't be surprised if you enter my church and hear English or Spanish but see my back. Heck, don't be surprised if you hear Latin!
The One Aspect of British Humor That I Wish They Had Kept

Face it. Men in drag aren't funny: they are just creepy.
Was This Why He Was Chasing Bueller?

Sad story for a character actor whose work I have enjoyed in the past. Of course, if actors could marry, this wouldn't happen... (Okay, I promise I won't use that line again.)
Priceless!

An opening montage of scenes from The Passion of Christ played over the following voice over...


Lashes at the Pillar 29
Thorns on the Crown 60
Gaining Eternal Redemption for all of humanity (pause) Priceless.


Okay, maybe not. I receive a mountain of junk mail of all types, especially credit card orders. This one is a classic. I received a credit card for small business from Mastercard, hence the labored attempt at humor above. (N.B. Please don't crowd my comments boxes with the observation that the Redemption did have a price. I understand that. It is their silly ad campaign I have to work with.)

The humor comes from the fact that it is computer generated to say "Owner" on the first line and the business's name on the next line. So what does the address label read? I quote, "Owner, St. Cornelius Catholic Church, 627 12th St., Alva, OK 73717-2003."

So, do I forward this to the Archbishop? To the Apostolic See? Perhaps if I leave it at the Tomb of the Holy Sepulcher, our Lord will send an angel to pick it up. It does beg the question of whether or not the Lord needs a MasterCard, no matter how fitting the name.

I have heard of taking "canonical possession" of an assignment, but this is ridiculous.
Patriarch Invites Pope to Visit Istanbul

Ah...even more Ecumenical goodness...
a Day Late, A Dollar Short

In my unfortunate funk of yesterday, a momenteous event occurred that I forgot to note for the electronic ages, le epoques electroniques. Yesterday was the fifth anniversary of Fr. Stephen Hamilton's ordination to the Holy Priesthood of Christ. Fr. H has served as an example of good priestly service to his younger brother, although in temporal years I am older, as well as the proper way to host a dinner. I don't think that I can forget the shock and horror of my preparation of a pair of pot roast turning absolute joy as Fr. H swiped the pan with chunks of bread in the hopes of getting the last of the "chunkies."

I wonder now if that was what Fr. H was waiting for when I called last night, a warm congratulations. Well, buddy, if it is any consolation, I arrived at your Mass of Thanksgiving late, so this is just par for the course.

Remember him in your prayers, faithful readers.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Well, I was thinking about voting for him if his name came up...

but I think I changed my mind. Actually, it sounds like a good case of doing what's expected even when you feel like a twit for doing so.
At The Movies: Spider-Man 2

After seeing SP2 at the local theater, I was literally walking on air. I wanted to race right home and blog out a review. But then, I thought, let's sit on this overnight and see what effect it has on my review. There was a lot of adrenaline flowing after the movie and as I came out of the theater, the skies were filled with reds and purples of storm clouds forming over us but headed out of town. It was like coming out of movie into a comic book. That's how weird and vibrant the sky's colors were. So, I went to Wal-Mart for some groceries instead.

Frankly, the sleeping on hasn't changed my impression of the movie. It is quite literally both a great film (in the sense of being well-plotted with excellent character development) and a great translation of comic-to-screen. I have taken to thinking of it as translation when any one art form is carried into another. Comics are literary-visual and film is visual-auditory. What reads correctly can come off stiff on screen, especially if it is necessary exposition.

A caveat before proceeding. I am a huge Spider-Man fan. I read the comic books for years and loved the Television versions, yes, even the cheesy live-action one from the 70's. As a rather large, somewhat clumsy, person, the sheer acrobatic athleticism of Spidey's moves were attractive wish fulfillment as well as the whole subtext of geeky kid gets powers and can stand up for himself. I would be curious to find out what the reaction of someone who was unfamiliar with Spidey would take to the movie.

Why is it so good? [Beware! Spoilers Ahead!] Let's start with the characters. While the action sequences punctuates the movement of the plot, the heart of the film and its plot are the characters. We often are lead down asides and sub plots that allow us to see the humanity of the characters. So, we have a brief scene where Dr. Connors chastises Peter Parker because Peter is obviously a very gifted science student but keeps missing class which the good doctor interprets as laziness but we know better. Also, we see the compassion Peter feels for Dr. Octopus, given that before the accident, which some could argue was in part Spidey's fault, Dr. Otto Octavius was Peter's scientific hero and, given different circumstances, a mentor for Peter. Later in the movie, after Peter decides to give up being Spider-Man, we see the contrast of a young man free from all his burdens and able to be "himself" and excelling in his studies. But when a group of squad cars fly by on the street or in a particularly strongly composed scene, Peter is forced to turn his back on someone in need. You can see, in the eyes of Tobey McGuire, Peter's anguish because he is not true to himself, the hero. Also, every character is well developed and well employed. Aunt May, Harry Osbourne, Mary Jane Watson, all the people of this world, even the minor characters are more fully drawn than the same type of character might be in other movies. There are some excellent scenes which involve the people of New York City that pack a remarkable amount of emotional heft.

As to the action sequences, these seem more integrated into the whole than the first movie. My criticism of Van Helsing that I felt as though I were watching a video game did not apply here. The scenes were well-executed over all. In this same vein, the introduction of several characters have set the stage for further 3 Spider-Man movies without having to hang out a sign that screams in foot-high neon letters "THIS GUY WILL BE BACK." Watch for Spider-Man 3 to feature the return of the Green Goblin, and/or the first appearances of The Moonwolf and The Lizard. Let's all hope that Sam Raimi, the director, doesn't fall prey to the mistake the Batman franchise did and start double teaming Spidey. The only team of super villains I want to see in the movie series is the Sinister Six and two of them are dead anyway.

Atmospheric elements were also well-blended. Danny Elfman gave us a great score that piqued the emotional weight of scenes without overpowering the whole. The city shots were realistic and expansive, as well as sparkling cinematography.

Now, this next part, well, I think that some would say that I am making too much of the movie. So, for what it is worth, there is something muscularly Christian about a hero like Spider-Man, and the movie made a concerted effort to point this out. First, much of the imagery is sacramental imagery. So a major subplot revolves around MJ's wedding to John Jameson. Peter forsakes his love for MJ because ultimately he knows it isn't safe for MJ to be Spidey's squeeze. Villains love exploiting family relationships. But what brings MJ back to Peter's arms, is not so silly emotional kiss that produces a feeling, but her realization of the quality of Peter's love. Another image appears when Dr. Octopus finally is brought back to his senses and tries to stop the havoc he is about to unleash, he arises from water, in a left-handed reference to Baptism. Second, many of the visual images recalled Christian types. One cannot help but notice that when the smart arms that are fused to Dr. Octopus started "talking" to him, they look like serpents, perhaps a throw away comment to the Garden of Eden. In another place, Peter says to MJ, "I always imagined you getting married on a mountain top," to which she replies, "I'm getting married in a church." (I think the scene is shot at St. John's Episcopal Cathedral in NYC.) Third, at the heart of Spider-Man's conflict with himself, is a vocation. Like it or not, Peter has these powers. Now, if he stands up and uses these powers, he becomes a hero. If he ignores these powers, then the world is far worse for it, and he has wasted this precious gift. Yes, to live up to the power's responsibility is poopy at times, but what is lost by neglect of these powers is worse. Now, substitute the word "vocation" where "powers" is used and I think you see my point. Living the Christian life well is HEROIC. It requires heroes to live this kind of life, and the movie makes a point of showing how Spider-Man's overt heroism inspires others to be heroic in proper degree. (And here is where people will start to snark at me...) Spider-Man's struggles are, to me, an excellent metaphor for the struggle to discern a call to priesthood/religious life. Being a hero means taking reality for what it is, working to better what one can with the capacity one possesses, and accepting the sacrifices that comes with it. Being a priest and using well one's time in discernment requires the same analysis. Once someone is a priest, he still has to be a hero because he has received great power to which is attached great responsibility.

In my second year at my first assignment in OKC, I received the greatest compliment of my priesthood thus far. A parishioner, who is a homeschooler and NFP practioner so no slouch himself, came up to me and said, "If I had met you before I married, you would have made me want to be a priest." I have been trying to get back to that ever since. Spider-Man is a great movie for all ages and temperaments as well as carrying a great message as well.


Rating: 5 of out 5 bananas.
A Lovely Prescient Comment

I am reading Joseph Pearce's Literary Converts and found this quote from G.K.C. concerning the two-party system. He writes in The Party System:

The real danger of the two parties is that they unduly limit the outlook of the ordinary citizen. They make him barren instead of creative, because he is never allowed to do anything except prefer one existing policy to another. We have not got real Democracy when the decision depends upon the people. We shall have real Democracy when the problem depends upon the people. The ordinary man will decide not only how he will vote, but what he is going to vote about.


I am finding more and more of myself in this large living convert. Go over to Ignatius Insight if you want some more information. The link is on the list somewhere.
Note to a Friend

Recently, a friend of mine and I were chatting about some business that needed to be tended to. Eventually, the conversation drifted over to what was happening in our respective ends of the universe, and I began to regal him with the account of the difficulties I was having with a pair of students in my catechism classes. Not that they are problem students; it's just that these two women don't quite have the acumen needed sometimes to really understand what we are reading and this leads to circular conversations of varying degrees of frustration. Without missing a beat, my friend asked if I had something of a teacher in me to which I, obviously, agreed. He said, "That sounds right. The teacher type always focuses upon the one or two who don't get while the rest of the class is basking in knowledge and wisdom." He, of course, had pegged me to the wall.

This is all I am going to say to this friend. If you insist on being so wise and helpful and insightful in the future, I might have to let you call me any time that you want to.
Whoa!

This was not just a contender; he was the gold standard for a time. Rest in Peace.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

I found this in my re-reading of the few days I had missed in my copy of "In Conversation With God." This following bit is from Monday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time. Why I am sharing this with you I will explain after.

Scripture often speaks of solidarity in evil, in the sense that the sins of some can cause harm to the whole community. But Abraham turns the terms the other way round; he asks God who esteems the justice of the saints so highly, that it may be the saints who cause blessings to come down upon everyone, even though many are sinners. And God accepts this approach of the Patriarch's.

We can meditate today on God's joy and delight when He sees us struggling to be faithful to Him. We can meditate on the value our actions may have when we do them for God. This is true of even our most inconspicuous actions, deeds that we may think nobody sees and that apparently have little in them of transcendence. God sets great store by those who struggle for sanctity. God's delight is in the saints; it is for their sake that He pours out His mercy and His forgiveness on others who may have done nothing themselves to merit it. It is a wonderful but at the same time a real mystery, that God so delights in those who journey toward sanctity....

Jesus Christ has given full satisfaction to the eternal love of the Father. The Church has always taught this. The love of Christ dying for us on the Cross was more pleasing to God than all the sins of all men together can ever displease Him. Insofar as we identify our will with God's Will, we take upon ourselves the merits of Christ. We offer reparation to God by making our own the love and the merits of His Son! The matchless value that a single holy man or woman has in the sight of God is based on this. Although many sins are committed each day, there are at the same time many souls who in spite of their wretchedness desire only to please God with all their strength....

For the sake of ten I will not destroy it! Ten just men would have been enough! People who are really holy more than make up for all the crimes, the abuse, the envy, lack of loyalty, betrayal, injustice, selfishness...of all the inhabitants of a great city. If we are united with the redeeming sacrifice of Jesus Christ, God will look with special compassion on our relatives, friends, acquaintances...who have perhaps strayed from the path out of ignorance, or error, or weakness...or because they did not receive the graces that we have received. We should try often to carry on the same kind of friendly and pleasant bargaining with Jesus that Abraham carried on with Yahweh! 'Look, Lord' -- we will say to Him -- 'this person is better than he seems. He has good intentions. Help him!' And Jesus, who nevertheless knows the real situation, will move that person with his grace out of regard for our friendship with Him.


If I ever entered religious life, and the thought has crossed my mind, I think I might take the name "Abraham" as my name in religion because that is all I ever wanted to be, a friend of God. Perhaps, that is what the reform of the Church in our own time needs, more men and women to be the friends of God, those who would bargain for those and strive to be closer themselves to the one they love.
MMM...tasty
It was only a matter of time before someone dared to call a "spade" a spade. I won't finish the quotation the way my German grandmama used to...
In Case You've Forgotten...

The new book for the book club is Mark Shea's Making Senses Out of Scripture. You can buy it from the man himself, although he includes no shrubbery with it, but he does sign anything you buy there. Isn't that fun. You'll have to surf over to ADSC so that you can see the changes I have made.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

When Someone Tells You That Evil is Stronger Than Good...

...point them to this.

It is coincidental that I came across this on CAEI because this was the exact thing we were talking about in my Catechism class. God is all powerful and at the same time, God permits evil to win a round so that mercy and forgiveness may prove their greater might. Don't believe me? Hear it from the Catechism:


272 Faith in God the Father Almighty can be put to the test by the experience of evil and suffering. God can sometimes seem to be absent and incapable of stopping evil. But in the most mysterious way God the Father has revealed his almighty power in the voluntary humiliation and Resurrection of his Son, by which he conquered evil. Christ crucified is thus "the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men." It is in Christ's Resurrection and exaltation that the Father has shown forth "the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe".

273 Only faith can embrace the mysterious ways of God's almighty power. This faith glories in its weaknesses in order to draw to itself Christ's power.113 The Virgin Mary is the supreme model of this faith, for she believed that "nothing will be impossible with God", and was able to magnify the Lord: "For he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name."

274 "Nothing is more apt to confirm our faith and hope than holding it fixed in our minds that nothing is impossible with God. Once our reason has grasped the idea of God's almighty power, it will easily and without any hesitation admit everything that [the Creed] will afterwards propose for us to believe - even if they be great and marvellous things, far above the ordinary laws of nature."
Too Cool To Pass Up

Found this link to a blog about Flannery O'Connor on Against the Grain. She is one of my favorite authors in the modern Catholic writers' sphere. Her story, The Displaced Person graphically demonstrates both the work of grace and man's inhumanity to his fellow man.

Check her out today!
Region VI Deanery Meeting
Fr. Tharp and I are just back to our respective parishes following the first of what will be a regular meeting of the priests of our deanery, called "regions" in our archdiocese. It was a good opportunity for some priestly fraternity and some -- hold on to your seats, kids! -- actual planning and coordinating of ministry in our little area. Meeting more regularly was an idea I had to help develop our region into a little local gem. I suppose since I am the priest in the region with the most priestly ministerial experience, it comes as no surprise that I came up with the idea to communicate and work together. (I can't wait until Fr. Tharp gets a hold of that last sentence!) Fr. Tharp had the wonderful idea of bringing in speakers to the parishes of the region and sharing the costs, thus cutting down on substantial drain from any one parish and actually providing our sheep with some presentations that foster faith and adult education. I am also excited about a new development that our deanery will be the first to try: quarterly penance rites. The parish-wide penance rites typically held in Advent and Lent are usually well-attended and seem rather popular. Since we can't seem to get regular numbers to weekly confession opportunities we are going to test out the idea of offering parish-wide penance rites on two other occasions throughout the year. We hope it works and that people will come even though these additional rites won't be during the penitential seasons of Advent and Lent. If it works it may mean that people who come to the Advent Penance Rite may have actually gone to confession another time since the previous Lent! Imagine!

And now, one of the best lines from our Deanery Meeting overheard this morning at breakfast:
We were speaking of differences in the local Church of our Archdiocese and local Churches back east in heavily Catholic areas:

Fr. Tharp: Some of my classmates from Philly are scandalized that I am already a pastor [being only four years ordained].

Fr. Hamilton: [Well-timed pause and relaxed sip of coffee] Uh, well, some people here are scandalized too, but for different reasons!

Yes, cheap shots abound even at the Deanery Meeting.
WOW!
For the first time since new blogger has taken hold, it remembered my username and password at login. I hope that is a trend that continues.
If Only Teachers Could Marry...

then this sort of thing might not happen. Oh, wait...

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

AWOL?

I hate to suggest this, but has Envoy Magazine folded? I don't think my subscription lapsed but that is entirely possible. I checked out the webpage and there is no mention there. Does anyone have the scoop?

Also, the busy bees have been beavering away at Ignatius Press. They have added two new features available on line. The first is a blog called the Insight Scoop and the second is called Ignatius Insight. Both are featured in our links area.

In addition, a new link to Couple to Couple League graces our webpage.

If you have a group or diocese that deserves inclusion in the links area, email me at the address above. Fr. H and I will review and decide.
More for the Solemnity





Got the image from a group called "Women for Faith and Family." Simply a cursory glance at the web page demanded that I link them to us. Visit them today! Got the quote from St. Augustine, the Doctor of Grace, thanks to Magnificat. If you don't have a subscription, you simply don't know what you are missing. Subscribe today! Morebo insists!


With what joy then, and with what glory to God do we behold the wealth of emperors being set at nought by the soul of a fisherman, the prayers of emperors being poured out at the tomb of a fisherman, with the result that the latter is not spurned on account of what he did not possess, and the former do not grow haughty on account of what they do!
As regards Christ's making Paul into a preacher of his out of a persecutor, I would rather the apostle himself explained how important it was for our salvation that even those with great crimes and wickedness on their consciences ought never to despair of God's mercy. "It is a human world," he says, "and worthy of complete acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners, of whom I am the first. But it was for this reason that I obtained mercy, so that Christ Jesus might demonstrate all forbearance in me first of all, for the sake of those who were going to trust him to bring them to eternal life (I TImothy 1:15-16)."
The Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul



I particularly liked this image when I saw it. So often Christians of differing stripes want to put these two men at odds, as though you had to choose between St. Peter or St. Paul. The Catholic way is take them both. St. Peter, and the office given to him and to his successors, reminds us that definitive revelation needs a definitive arbiter. Through the power of binding and loosing that the keys give, St. Peter gives us a confidence in knowing that the Gospel will be able to speak to every age, if written and first spoken many ages ago. St. Paul points out the effect of such a confidence. With confidence in the faith that St. Peter and his successors and those in communion with him hands on to us, we rise again to call not just those we think should hear the message, but also all the "Gentiles," those we had written off as being beyond God's approach.
Finally!

I have been waiting for someone else to realize the deadly implications of an outbreak of smallpox. "But wait, Father," you say, "I thought smallpox had been eradicated." Guess again, kids. Several high level defectors from the Russian Bio-Defense Agency, Bio-Preperat, report that the Russians for years were working on weaponizing smallpox. They used a particularly nasty strain called the India-1. It was thought that India-1 could kill as many as 3 of out 4 of those exposed and many with the bloody form of smallpox. The Russian scientists created a warhead that made it possible to transport the smallpox on an ICBM. But that isn't the scary part.

The scary part is nobody knows where the warheads went or what happened to them.
What's the frequency, Kenneth?

When I saw the title of this article, I thought that there might be some worried forecasts of the invasion of the Saturnians. Rather, it has to do with mass differential ratios and electromagnetic pulse discharge.
Steps Toward Reunion

It has been my personal assertion (therefore, take it for what it's worth) that we will not probably reconcile Protestant denominations as a whole with the Church. In other words, don't go looking for a Lutheran-Catholic Rite to be promulgated anytime soon.

The Orthodox are a different story. The chances are good that they would come back as a group, but it would be nation by nation, rather than all the Orthodox at once.

The significance of this reaches two levels for me, at least. On the first level, at least, we aren't trying to spit on one another. On the second level, as the Orthodox give us more access to the East it allows us to work together as a force to counter militant Islam.
Maybe the squirrel has connections with Al-Queda...

Sorry, folks, I couldn't resist.
This makes Atkins the Ultimate Diet.

So, does this mean that Planned Parenthood will be including a copy of the book with each of their "referrals"?

Monday, June 28, 2004

I already have a Priesthood Sunday!

One of the biggest bureaucratic wastes of time in the U.S. is the National Federation of Priests' Councils.

Case in point: I received a flyer from this body that announced the upcoming Priesthood Sunday. Inside it explains how priests are so disheartened right now and how the laity need a chance to express their thanks for the priests' presence. So they have created this arbitrary day for the "celebration of Priesthood." I was advised in bold, italic letters, "Please give this to the Parish Council." I gave it to the waste bin.

Okay, first, I already have a day to celebrate the priesthood. It's called Holy Thursday. Furthermore, since Sunday is the primary celebration of the Paschal Mystery, isn't every Sunday Priesthood Sunday? Second, if I were a lay person on a parish council and was handed this, I would be ticked. If my priest needs encouragement or praise, I think I can handle dishing it up. I don't need a special Sunday Mass celebration to do this. Third, handing this off to the Parish Council strikes me as though I were inviting them to a surprise party for myself. The whole thing seems incredibly self-serving.

So here's my suggestion. If you love your pastor, whatever the reason, stop tomorrow, write a note, phone him up, or get in touch somehow and tell him. Give him the reasons and tell him you are praying for him. If you hate your pastor, spend a half an hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament, and pray for both of your conversions.

What's the opposite of Episcopal Spine?

Saw this question on somebody's blog. And I think I have the term.

The opposite of "Episcopal Spine" is "Episcopal Exoskeleton."

Think about it. Only a true invertebrate needs an exoskeleton. In addition, once you take away the skeleton, which is on the surface level only, the creature collapses into a quivering state of boneless-chicken-hood.

So, there's your answer, faithful readers. When a bishop misses the opportunity to demonstrate some spine, just chalk it up to Episcopal Exoskeleton.
(Ad-)Where have you been my blue-eyed son?
Well, I am back from my mysterious adventures with Adware and Spyware. My computer is, for the most part, functional as it should be. However, I am still getting pop-ups. Some time ago, I downloaded a "NoAdware" program, which my computer technician did not like. He tried to uninstall it and it would not. So, he did his magic in the computer's registry and deleted it. He said that program keeps certain things out, but it allows other things. He said I should just use my e-mail servers free online scan once a week to check for and delete harmful programs. Anyway, I may call him to ask for a good pop-up blocker. So, I am back and I will try to do some blogging.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

They needed a study to find this out?

I don't know about the rest of the clubhouse, but I think I picked this one awhile back. I love the fact that TV PSAs (Public Service Announcements) claim that if you talk to your kids you can keep them in school, away from tobacco, off drugs, eating a better diet, and exercising regularly. But the instant puberty starts hanging out in the bedroom, then parents are practically shamed into buying a subscription to Playboy/Playgirl, a year's supply of oral contraception/condoms, and free pass to a strip club for the kid. (Okay, that last one might be an exaggeration...might be.) The message is a child can control everything but their sex drive.

Given some of the things mentioned in this post, I can't wait to see who accidentally ends up here through Google Searches.
The Church of the Masses

With all due tip of the biretta to Barbara Nicolosi, I received an email concerning voting for the best "pro-Catholic films out there." Here's a snippet:

That's why we're conducting a poll of the favorite 'pro-Catholic' films for the National Catholic Register and Faith and Family magazine. We've received over 100 nominations--now it's time to vote for the finalists. Results will be published in August in the National Catholic Register and Faith and Family magazine--and be certain to include your comments, too, at the end of the poll.

Visit this site. There, you can choose your personal TOP FIVE movies that make you proud to be Catholic from the final list of nominees.

Hurry: only THREE DAYS left to vote--voting ends on June 28, 2004.


As today is June 26, that means you only have TWO days. Go there and vote and then come back for more fun.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

We are the Borg. You will be assimilated. Your technological and biological distinctiveness will be added to our own. You will come to service...US!

What?! That didn't convince you that the nanoprobes are on the way? Okay, smart guy! How about this?

Huh?! A wise guy?! Check this out...here's how the hive will begin to communicate. You hear that, Shea! You're next, Bucky!

Hmmm...Still not convinced? Okay, read this and tell me that this isn't an insidious plot to incorporate extra genes into our genome...

I've Got a Prayer Request

Dear Readers:
A person I know via Instant Messenger recently pinged me with a prayer request. This young lady, who we'll call Amarada, has had two miscarriages in the last year alone, and now finds herself pregnant again. She would appreciate any and all spare prayers you guys and gals can offer for the benefit of this woman. She has wanted to have a child but thus far has not had a pregnancy come to a successful conclusion. The doctors have no clue what is causing the miscarriages which adds another layer of grief to the equation. I would recommend the following novena prayer to St. Gerard Majella:


Most Blessed Trinity, I, Your child, thank You for all the gifts and privileges which You granted to Saint Gerard, especially for those virtues with which You adorned him on earth and the glory which You now impart to him in heaven. Accomplish Your work, Oh Lord, so that Your kingdom may come about on earth. Through his merits in union with those of Jesus and Mary, grant me the grace for which I ask {mention your petition}.

And you, my powerful intercessor, Saint Gerard, always so ready to help those who have recourse to you, pray for me. Come before the throne of Divine Mercy and do not leave without being heard. To you I confide this important and urgent affair {mention your petition}. Graciously take my cause in hand and do not let me end this prayer without experiencing the effects of your intercession. Amen.


P.S. Also, to all my fellow bloggers, if you can spare the space, would you mind terribly linking this article as well? With prayer, the more the merrier I always say.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Rooney in Running for Sexiest Newscaster

In what universe? This must some messed-up transmission from the Mirror Universe.
The Heart of the Matter

I think I've got it. Something has been nagging at me, like an appointment I haven't quite forgotten about, for about two weeks. Tonight, I figured it out.

During the discussion of the Catechism, the topic came up about whether or not other religions are going to go to Heaven. Of course, I reiterated the Church's teaching concerning there being no salvation outside the Church, adding the notes about invincible and inculpable ignorance. This really bothered several people in the class. One woman in particular was just horrified that the Church could teach this. That all of these well-meaning people could be excluded from Heaven just because they don't hold the full picture of faith. And the rest of the class trotted out the same tired arguments, like a God of Love wouldn't send someone to Hell, e.g. That was when what was bothering me finally had a face.

For most folks, faith equals someone's opinion. If the revelation of God amongst Christians of every stripe can be confused into a galamafrey of different creeds, then that's okay as long as you are sincere. But that's the problem. Just because you sincerely believe something doesn't make it true. If I sincerely believe that arsenic is not poisonous, that doesn't mean I will be spared a trip to the emergency room, depending on how much I ingest.

While faith and reason are not the same thing, they are closely akin. Faith has foundations in reasonable data (reasonable = according to reason, non contradictory). Reason is always darkest without Faith to raise it to its heights. So many people want to be able to hold two totally contradictory beliefs at the same time. They want that Christ comes to reveal the fullness of God, but it doesn't matter if you believe in what He reveals.

I suspect the reason people like to conceive of faith as merely someone's opinion is it frees one from having to evangelize others and to stand distinct from the rest of the world. Go back to the arsenic analogy. If you spotted your child about to down the whole bottle of arsenic, although why you would have a bottle of arsenic lying about is beyond me, what would your reaction be? I suspect, hopefully correctly, that you would leap across the room and knock the bottle out of his hand, even before the word "STOP!" would be on your lips. And if this is a teenager we are talking about, you know that the little charmer would have an argument about how old-fashioned it is to think that arsenic is poisonous and anyway, everyone is doing it.

If Faith is about salvation, that the Church is the sacrament of salvation, then when you profess that you assent to the Faith, it obliges one to a way of life, a life that is always ready to provide a reason (a good explanation) for one's hope. If you aren't, it isn't much of hope you have in Christ, is it? I mean, I can explain all the internal logic of most of the Star Trek:The Next Generation episodes, and I know lots of folks like this. But ask them to explain why Christ is their savior, or how they came to know Christ, and you get a puzzled look. They never thought about the "why" of the "yes" they had made.

FWIW, this obligation, to provide witness, also bothers people. I challenged this woman to consider that she might be risking hell because she didn't profess the Faith in all the occasions where she could have. She had been in my bible study, and this same problem came up. She couldn't accept that God held us responsible for our choices is what it came down to. She wanted it both ways: you could be free to love but not free to receive punishment for not loving.

So here is the heart of the matter. Either salvation is dependant on possessing Faith with fullness or it isn't. Either one believes in God and the fullness of Revelation or they accept something else, essentially rejecting the other position. But let's stop kidding ourselves into believing that I can hold both propositions at the same time and not sound like a raving lunatic.
I guess explains why she kept demanding that people "COMPLY"
In case you don't follow Star Trek: Voyager and politics, the senate candidate in question is the ex-husband of Jeri Ryan, known to geeks everywhere as Seven of Nine. You can read how Senate Hopeful Ryan's Honesty Questioned after weirdo things from the divorce is revealed. Why he needed outside assistance, if you catch my meaning, when his wife is HOT, HOT, HOT, is beyond me.
Are you all Happy now?

If you look me in the eye, you can see that the weatherpixies are gone. Are you prudish people happy now? Now the only way I will have ripped abs is after 6,000,000 sit-ups. I hope you feel good about yourselves.
Speaking of Making Amends for Past Errors

Dresden Celebrates Crowning of Church I believe that this is a Catholic parish church although the article is a touch vague. If you want a sense of the horror the British bombing campaign caused I would recommend the short section in Ambrose's Citizen Soldiers. It is concise and terrifying.
Auschwitz to Undergo Preservation Work

Why? Because we need to be reminded that progress, or any other human ideology's idol, is not the source of salvation.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Taking "Getting a Leg Up" to New Heights

There are literally hundreds of classic jokes to be made here. Knock yourselves out.
A Kingdom Divided...

Say what you will about Chris Hitchens, he does strive for some form of journalistic honesty.
Another Ringing Endorsement of my Latent Vegetarianism

I don't know about you, but having stable neural connections beats a tasty hamburger any day of the week.

Monday, June 21, 2004

If you can find someone snarkier and wittier...
they might have to be featured here more often. Dale Price of Dyspetic Mutterings crystalizes my feelings about those bishops who lack the gonads to correct the faithful in orthopraxic behavior.
Score Another One for the Seven Deadly Sins

I really thought that the Fox Network would score the hat trick and feature shows that promote all Seven Deadly Sins. Thus far, we have had Lust (Temptation Island, The O.C.), Anger (Cops), Greed (Greed, Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire), Pride (American Idol), Gluttony (The Glutton Bowl), and Sloth (American Idol, again, on the principle that being famous should stem from hard work and not a populist vote). We are only lacking Envy to have the ultimate Trifecta. In this same spirit, I thought that the International Federation of Competitive Eating deserved a nod. I wonder if I could put together an international federation of competitive napping?
Not Funny but Beautiful

Remember my motto: If you must choose between suffering and non-existence, suffering is always a better bet. The resident merry prankster of the blogiverse, Jeff Miller, gives us an example of how Life is precious

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Interesting...

Read this post and then answer this question. Is this a good development or a bad development? No screeds allowed, only well reasoned opinions. via Zorak.
When It's Hers and Hers and His, Three's Company, too...

Although I doubt Jack Tripper would recognize this arrangement.School Gives Transvestites Own Restroom. Let's all thank our collective lucky stars that this hasn't happened in the U.S....yet.