Tuesday, August 31, 2004

BREAKING NEWS: Council of Priests: Decision 2004
National Catholic Distorter (Oklahoma City) -- She normally simply goes by "Mom." But, the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City has come to know her in the past few weeks as "Mrs. Hamilton." By the power of a child's natural disposition toward his mother, and by the influence of the Catholic disposition for things maternal, she has proven she is no minor figure in the Council of Priests election. She's the mother of candidate Fr. Stephen Hamilton and she has been busy on the campaign trail.

It will strike no mother as odd that Mrs. Hamilton's first concern, upon hearing of her son's nomination, was for mudslinging and character attacks by her son's opponents. Last week she spoke on the sad state of campaigning at a meeting of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Knights of Columbus, at St. Helen Church, in rural Oklahoma. "We need to turn back," she said, "some of the creeping, un-priestly and sometimes un-Catholic traits that are coming into some of our Church politics." Mrs. Hamilton contends that there is no need for the political side of human life, even in the Church, to sink below human dignity. Hers was a call for decency and virtue among candidates whose most obvious traits ought to include virtue.

After the meeting, Distorter reporter Ashley Lame spoke with Mrs. Hamilton.

Distorter: Mrs. Hamilton, you said certain "un-Catholic traits" were creeping into the electoral process. Can you tell us what you meant by that?

Mrs. Hamilton: "Un-Catholic traits"? I don't understand.

D: You spoke of the lack of decency in the campaign and you mentioned "un-Catholic traits."

Mrs. H: I didn't say that. Why are you putting words in my mouth?

D: Will you explain for us what "un-Catholic traits" means?

Mrs. H: You said something I didn't say. Now shove it!

D: Wait. Mrs. Hamilton, please come back. We'd simply like an answer to our...
Campaign Trail: Day 14 Council of Priests: Decision 2004

***************PRESS RELEASE***************
Fr. Hamilton and Convention organizers deeply regret some of the turn of events at last night's opening session. No one was more embarrassed than Fr. Hamilton himself when a Van Halen song was accidentally played over the sound system. We sincerely hope that error was due to a mix up in the sound booth and not sabotage from an opponent's campaign. Fr. Hamilton's team of canon lawyers has called for an inquiry into the matter. It is our understanding that the convention hall will be hosting a meeting of Home Schoolers next week, and so that may offer an explanation for the song that was heard last night.
As to the endorsement debacle: Election rules for the Council of Priests do not provide for a write-in candidate. Though we are disappointed by the abrupt removal of support by the Fraternity of St. Peter, we remind the electors to make their vote count by voting for one of the official four candidates. We believe that Fr. Hamilton is the right candidate for the job. In a year when secular politics was surprised by former New York City Mayor Ed Koch's endorsement of President Bush, we should not be surprised by last night's announcement. Perhaps breathing too much incense at the Latin Mass has clouded the judgment of our Fraternity brothers. We hope they may once again give us their support before voting ends on September 1.
Convention Catastrophe

I was prowling the Internet and found this article. It doesn't bode well...

ZENIT -- (Oklahoma City, OK). With its moving stages and high tech presentations, the opening night of the Convention for Fr. Hamilton's election to the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City's Priests' Council was meant to be exciting, a moment of momentum building. The festivities were quickly hushed during the roll call of parochial delegates. The delegation representing the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter rose and approached the podium. Fr. Hamilton, sitting in the VIP box, glowed at the thought of their throwing support behind his campaign. But as the Book of Revelation says, the sting is in the tail of the locust, and Fr. Hamilton found himself stung mightily. The following is an excerpt from that delegation's speech.
"We, for many months, had hoped that Traditional Catholicism might find a voice on the Council of Priests in this Archdiocese. We had hoped that his Reverence, Fr. Hamilton would be that man. But after his comportment at the recent Clergy Days' celebration, we have had to reconsider our endorsement. A vote for Fr. Stephen Hamilton is a vote for Compromise. Therefore, the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter endorses Fr. Howard Remski for the open seat on the Priests' Council."
Campaign organizers tried gamely to cover over this bad blood by cranking up on the loud speakers what has come to be the campaign's semi-official theme song, the cover of the Fleetwood Mac hit, "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow" sung by the Monks of Solesmes Abbey. This effort also fell through as the sound booth had Van Halen's "Hot for Teacher" cued up instead. Clearly, there is much ill-timed confusion swirling around this campaign at the worst possible moment as voting closes September 1.

We can only hope Fr. Hamilton can recover from this set back.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Campaign Trail: Day 13 Council of Priests: Decision 2004
I would like to state, for the record, that I am fed up with how wide our sidebar area has gotten. The referring web pages list has a link with terribly long coding, thus causing the sidebar to expand. Since Fr. Tharp unilaterally (as usual!) added that feature to OUR blog, I have spoken to him about it, asking that he do something to fix it, or remove the offending link. He has given me nothing but a smug answer to the effect of, "Well, kid, you've gotta take the good with the bad."

I, for one, find this outrageous and I promise to fight to make blogdom's sidebars safe if I am elected to the Council of Priests!
Memo to the Iconoclastic World:
You say you don't understand the Catholic and Orthodox Church's decoration, the Sacraments, the importance of gesture, symbolism and what it communicates? Or worse, some even think these things contrary to Sacred Scripture.

I say, you seemed completely comfortable during the Closing Ceremony of the 28th Olympiad! You even participated in it and found it meaningful. If you were moved by and "spoken to" by the Olympic torch's flame being passed on to a ten year old girl and then on to the rest of the stadium via individual little torches, then don't treat as frivolous the baptismal candle being passed from the Easter candle to the newly baptized. And if you can grasp that much, then you have an insight into the depth and meaning of our world, the world the Son of God chose to enter in another outward sign -- human flesh!

Yes, the "logic" of the Sacraments is sometimes in the seemingly most unlikely of places.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Thank You, I think...

I am not sure how to interpret this article concerning a Islamic terrorist group showing respect for the Vatican. I think this is a good sign...but a sign of what? Oh, well, count my blessings.
More Pending Problems

Well, I don't know if I said it first, but here comes round...what is this? Three?...of the media coverage of the clergy scandal. However, this time I am more anxious to hear this story and see how it plays in the media. Is this because I have a cruel streak and want to bask in other folks' pain and suffering? No. Given the media's fawning, lapdog posture whenever Cardinal Mahoney pokes his head out of the cubby hole, I am intrigued to see how the media commentators are going to be able to say "we love you" and "we want to destroy you" without their respective heads exploding.
Campaign Trail: Day 12 Council of Priests: Decision 2004
Just moments ago, a campaign first was witnessed in these final days before the Council of Priests election: an Internet forum of the four nominees. Each candidate was interviewed with select members of the Press in attendance. In addition, questions were received via e-mail and addressed to the candidates. CRM is now pleased to present a transcript of Fr. Hamilton's interview.

Miss Eeng Link Magazine: Fr. Hamilton, of all the candidates you have the least experience as the pastor of a parish. Your opponents have all weathered the stresses and demands of parish life and as regards pastoral experience they are all well-seasoned. How does your record compare?

Fr. Hamilton: My opponents all have years of experience as pastors. They have certainly weathered storms greater and more numerous than mine to date. To that end, I admit that one could say their records are more heroic than mine. However, I stand ready to serve wherever I am called. But I ask you, what happens when seasoning goes flat? Of what use is it? It is good for nothing, but to be trampled underfoot. Sometimes it is precisely new seasoning that brings out flavors we had long forgotten.

Toledo, Oklahoma (via e-mail): Fr. Hamilton, as you know the number of ministries available in the average parish is a concern. In some parishes, ministries have been lost. Your plan to preach the universal call to holiness has helped increase ministries in some sectors, but in others the rebound has been slow in coming. How would you rate your plan to increase ministries?

Fr. H: That is an extremely pertinent question in this campaign. It is troubling that some remain without ministry, even after the Spirit of Vatican II has swept these plains. But I think the slow rebound, of which you wrote, is not because of my plan, but because my plan has yet to be taken to heart. As it goes with most spiritual matters, the hearts of individuals must change or even the best plans will not come to fruition. In short, I think my plan to increase ministries has been a catastrophic success!

Lamb Blitzer: Fr. Hamilton, where were you during today's men's Olympic marathon?

Fr. H: Wh... Where was I? I'm afraid I don't understand.

Lamb Blitzer: Father, do you own a kilt and a green vest?

Fr. H: Are you trying to say.... that ex-priest today... I mean.... Are you suggesting that I am really the former-Fr. Horan, who interfered with Brazil's Lima as he ran today's marathon?!

LB: Father, can you explain where you were today?

Fr. H: This is ludicrous! I admit, I had no desire to see Brazil win the marathon gold, but I certainly did no such thing. This is the lowest of the lows.... If I get my hands on you, I'll.....


We now return to coverage of the Closing Ceremonies of the 28th Olympiad in Athens.
A Day of New Beginnings

This morning, in Alva, Oklahoma, the air temperature is hovering around 64, a glistening halo of sylvan bliss that hints perhaps summer begins her retreat. After a brutal summer, that would be most welcome of new beginnings.

Today, a new beginning for me starts. This evening, I will be celebrating the initiation of two men into the local Third Order Dominican chapter, and I am one of these two. For the last 2 years or so, I have been discerning some spiritual issues that revolve around the religious life, and this is a first step of sorts. If I am called upon to give a name for religious profession, I am inclined to select either "Ambrose" or "Damien." Why am I so inclined is another story.

Please pray for me that I may become an excellent and worthy son of St. Dominic.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Campaign Trail: Day 11
Fox News: This is Lamb Blitzer reporting from the campaign trail in Oklahoma for Council of Priests: Decision 2004. Casting much doubt on the credibility of claims that Fr. Hamilton suffers from frail health, he made a brief campaign visit today at a nursing home. He bounded from his campaign car, a 2000 Buick with 98,000 miles on it, looking as young and spry as ever. With a quick "thumbs up" and rapid fire pointing at his gathered supporters, he quickly entered the home, focused on the real purpose for his presence: pastoral care. Only afterward did he stop for a brief statement. Fr. Hamilton spoke of the concerns and needs of the elderly and ailing. "Too often," he said, "those who would take advantage of the weak and infirm are like wolves standing at the door. We must work to provide adequate care and attention to our beloved elders." Speaking in Spanish, he continued his message for those who do not speak English, "El lobo esta' a la puerta. Necesitamos cuidar para los desafortunados, los ancianos, y los debiles." Following a quick Angelus and blessing, Fr. Hamilton headed back to the parish to ready for the weekend.

Though Fr. Hamilton has been nominated for the Council of Priests, campaign reporting is entirely fictitious.
Why the Salmon Population Dropped Recently

Friday, August 27, 2004

Campaign Trail: Day 10
Guymon, OK (AP) -- Amid new questions regarding his health, Rev. Stephen V. Hamilton, candidate for the Council of Priests of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, again made no public appearances today on the campaign trail. His Press Secretary fielded questions outside of a Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration Chapel. "Fr. Hamilton is taking a few days of rest following a grueling schedule at last week's Clergy Days. He is meeting with his campaign advisors to plan the final push before the upcoming election," said Sr. Mary Agnes, O.P. When asked what the public should make of Fr. Hamilton's failure to make planned campaign stops, Sr. Mary Agnes stated, "As a priest, Fr. Hamilton's most sacred duty is to preach the gospel. As you know, the weekend is approaching and Fr. Hamilton is simply doing what every good priest should do: rest up and prepare for his weekend homily." She said she had no further explanation for why campaign stops had been originally planned leading up to the weekend. "This type of planning is complicated and mistakes are sometimes made," she said. When pressed on the state of Fr. Hamilton's health, Sr. Mary Agnes promptly ended the press conference, claiming her Holy Hour had begun and that she had "something important" to pray for. It is believed that she was making use of a Novena to Our Lady of Lourdes.
Sorry about the silence...

I have been working on getting ready for the weekend and getting my last catechism class of the summer finished. And then there is the part where I have to rearrange some notes for a friend. And then I have to get some letters ready for submission of the Borromeo Project. So, not much from me until later...oh, and Fr. H has a head cold and won't be blogging today, I suspect.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Campaign Trail: Day 9
Though the campaign wheels are still turning, I have not been doing much campaigning personally. I am under the weather -- another sinus infection. The last few days in Oklahoma City were very windy, kicking up dust and other allergens, and that usually means a nasty reaction from my sinuses. The unique matter of this episode is that I am not sure if my sinus reaction was from Oklahoma wind or the hot air of my opponents!

Now to another matter. Some questions have been raised by a certain "Swift Gondoliers for Truth," who cast doubt upon my presence in Italy for theology studies from 1995-2000. One of their most scurrilous charges is that I learned what I know about cappuccino from long hours in Starbucks. How laughable. Folks, Starbucks is good, but it is not authentic cappuccino. Leave it to Americans to take something good -- a decent, reasonably-sized cup of coffee in Italy -- and develop it into these enormous personal irrigation systems, kept in large paper cups that impede the enjoyment of the frothed milk, which sticks to the sides! My friends, this cuts right to the heart of an issue of this campaign: Bigger is not always better. One of my opponents is proposing that we, Catholics, follow the non-denominational Christian model of the mega-church for our Catholic parishes. To follow this pattern is to jeopardize the entire parochial structure. There is a reason why the Catholic Church has always found its incarnation at the most local of levels. Catholic churches are not designed, by nature, to be enormous, self-sustained cities. Don't be fooled.

But back to these Swift Gondoliers for Truth, and the notion that I may not have spent two summers in Venice in common labor. I wasn't aware that I needed someone else to remember my history for me. Their claims are as murky and fabricated as the very foundations of Venice itself! Folks, this is revisionist history if I have ever seen it. And what disturbs me the most is that some of my campaign workers have discovered that one of these gondoliers is also a catechist in the religious education program at the parish of an opponent. Does that sound like a conflict of interest to anyone else?
Computers' Religious Wars -- A Reprint.
After reading Fr. Tharp's another reason to switch to Mac, I remembered an article a friend sent me when I was recently debating to switch to Mac (and how I still rue the fact that I did not; maybe next year). I found the following from Brent Sleeper's website.

"Umberto Eco’s gently humorous essay comparing Macs as Catholic and PCs as Protestant made the rounds of Usenet newsgroups and mailing lists in late 1994. I posted a copy to my personal web site at that time under the title, “Religious Wars.” It’s an excerpted English translation of Eco’s back-page column, “La bustina di Minerva,” in the September 30, 1994, issue of the Italian newsweekly L’espresso."

Insufficient consideration has been given to the new underground religious war
which is modifying the modern world. It’s an old idea of mine, but I find that
whenever I tell people about it they immediately agree with me.
The fact is that the world is divided between users of the Macintosh computer and users of MS-DOS compatible computers. I am firmly of the opinion that the Macintosh is Catholic and that DOS is Protestant. Indeed, the Macintosh is counter-reformist and has been influenced by the ratio studiorum of the Jesuits. It is cheerful, friendly, conciliatory, it tells the faithful how they must proceed step by step to reach—if not the Kingdom of Heaven—the moment in which their document is printed. It is catechistic: the essence of revelation is dealt with via simple
formulae and sumptuous icons. Everyone has a right to salvation.
DOS is Protestant, or even Calvinistic. It allows free interpretation of scripture,
demands difficult personal decisions, imposes a subtle hermeneutics upon the
user, and takes for granted the idea that not all can reach salvation. To make
the system work you need to interpret the program yourself: a long way from the
baroque community of revellers, the user is closed within the loneliness of his
own inner torment.
You may object that, with the passage to Windows, the DOS universe has come to resemble more closely the counter-reformist tolerance of the Macintosh. It’s true: Windows represents an Anglican-style schism, big ceremonies in the cathedral, but there is always the possibility of a return to DOS to change things in accordance with bizarre decisions….And machine code, which lies beneath both systems (or environments, if you prefer)? Ah, that is to do with the Old Testament, and is talmudic and cabalistic.

Not a Fan of the Classics

Frequenters of the blog know of my love for virology and microbiology. But when I hear about a return run of Yersinia Pestis (sp?) in Colorado makes me queasy. This is the same bacteria that got a very interesting nickname in the Middle Ages. Perhaps you've heard of it: the Black Death. Enjoy your lunch...
Isn't this the cafeteria's fault?!
Wayans Family to Produce 'Munsters' Film

I loved "In Living Color." Actually, if they insist on keeping their own racial identities, there could be an interesting, double meaning to the Munsters being out of step with their neighbors.
Yahoo! News - Judge Stops Partial-Birth Abortion Law

Sadly, I am not surprised by this. I am still amazed at how the law so often is construed in a theoretical sense. For example, the idea of needing a health exception for a partial birth abortion flies in the face of the American Medical Association has stated, that there are no medically necessary reasons to have a partial birth abortion. Furthermore, after about 24 weeks, and that would be the most extreme time I have seen, the child IS VIABLE. If the mother doesn't want the child, then put him up for adoption. Maybe I am too simplistic a thinker...clearly, I was born in the wrong century. Anyone know of a temporal rift going back to the 13th century? I am willing to put up with the frequent smallpox outbreaks.
Support Your Local Cleric

Although I am not an advocate of clerical campaigning for any position given the injunction against this in the Code of Canon Law, I am an advocate of supporting worthy causes through fundraising.

One of our commentors asked about where they can buy those stylish buttons favoring Fr. H's Reign of Terror Campaign. The link provided in the sidebar under "Monkey Like Fundraising" is your one stop source for all things Ragemonkey. And the profits go to support Catholic Answers and Rachel's Vineyard.
A Few New Bells and Whistles

I have added a few new features that Blogger has been so good to provide. Try them out and tell us what you think.
Another Reason to Switch to Macintosh

Just to preempt any comment to this effect, there would be no moral objection to the use of an adult's stem cells in research. An adult can give free and informed consent to the operations and procedures to be undertaken. However, an embryo is another kettle of fish. The embryo cannot give permission and the extraction of stem cells from the embryo will result in its destruction. No matter how potentially helpful stem cell research could be, it cannot be purchased at the price of someone else's life.
Ah, Misogyny!

There is nothing more charming than a beautiful woman. However, when one tries to distill the essence of the beautiful woman, you are left with the unappealing part detached from the true thing that made her beautiful, her personhood.

Leave it to the modern technocrat to create just such a reality for the average cell phone user. The vision of women depicted by this project is clear: all women are ephemeral, shallow, golddiggers in waiting, who only are interested in men for the words they say and the gifts they bring. Heaven forfend that a popular vision of a woman would include, oh, I don't know, respect and affection for her man based upon mutual self-giving. But what do I know? I am one of those Catholics, and we all know how much the Church hates women.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

More Clerical Blogging

I want to welcome Fr. Ethan McCarthy of Diary of a Suburban Priest to our blog links. He is just getting started but looks to be on the right track. It is pretty easy to get on my good side if you feature El Greco's works on your blog. Give him some of your love, folks, and visit today.
Campaign Trail: Day 8
Clergy Days was a success. It was fairly well-attended and the presenter was quite good. It was the first clergy gathering in some time that did not leave me with some significant theological objection or problem with at least one of the talks. In this case, all of the talks were good. The presenter even told me, in a side conversation, that I needed to maximize my time by not expending too much time in places where my support is virtually assured. He suggested I spend time with the "swing votes". But there was a surprise result to one poll taken near the coffee bar area of the conference room. I approached a brother priest, whose vote I was sure I could count on. I said hello, we shook hands, I asked if he was doing okay, and he responded: "Yes, I'm doing well, but I am not voting for you." The immediacy and bluntness took me by surprise. I am going to have to re-evaluate the votes I thought I had locked up. However, if there is anything good about that exchange, it tells me that my candidacy is well-known and that my campaigners are getting the word out!

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Some reporting
Originally, CRM had not planned on receiving Lamb Blitzer's reports from the campaign trail until after Clergy Days. However, a computer has been located near the conference site. We may have daily reports yet.
Campaign Trail: Day 7
I had a dinner meeting yesterday with Fr. Tharp and a third priest. We accomplished much campaign planning. However, our meeting went longer than expected, and by the time my campaign convoy got through traffic we had missed the first session of Clergy Days. Luckily, most of the priests had adjourned to an upstairs reception area, so when the three of us entered the conference center lobby, it wasn't as if all eyes were on us, coating us with disdain. I hope that the priests understand what campaign time is like. You try to have a schedule, but things inevitably get off track at times. I just hope missing that first session will not be interpreted as aloofness or lack of intellectual curiosity on my part.
Unlikely Evangelization
Yesterday, Fr. Tharp and I met up in the thriving metropolis that is the Oklahoma City area. My campaign director had suggested a hair cut for me before the presbyteral assembly gathered. So, with that suggestion, suddenly both Fr. Tharp and I were off to get our hair cut. [For those interested, we are both sporting the wildly popular buzz cut. This style manages to capture a retro look while also adding to the impression that one is detached from the world. Bottom line is we are both freshly shorn.]

We stepped in the local Supercuts and there was a parishioner from my first assignment getting his hair cut. Then that young man's mother and brothers returned to the store and it was a nice reunion. Both Fr. Tharp and I had the same barber (I guess she would probably prefer that I say "stylist"), a Catholic, and so there was much discussion on the Church. The stylist finished with me and I sat in the waiting area, reading Cigar Aficionado, as Fr. Tharp had his turn in the chair. Suddenly, another man in the waiting area came over to me, and introduced himself into my atmosphere by saying, "I have a question for you." He had been reading a Discover magazine's report on Einstein and the theory that the universe is expanding. He wanted to know what the Church said about that theory.

So, that started some evangelization in what you might think was an unlikely place -- I certainly didn't expect to get into that at Supercuts! Any readers with input as to an answer to the man's question should feel free to comment, however, I told the man I wasn't aware if the Church had specifically or officially addressed the matter of the universe's expansion. Unless, I totally missed that memo, I don't think the Church as pronounced on that theory. But, I said, whatever is happening, I think the Church's response would be a subset of our teaching regarding creation. For us, I said, these theories of natural process don't present a problem because we see them as having been begun and being sustained by God. We do not accept an atheistic evolution. In that sense, I said, believing that God is the one who ordered things in the universe and gave them their start, He is also the one that sustains the activity of life, and therefore, He would also be the sustainer of the universe.

So, there you go, the New Evangelization at Supercuts! Who'd a thunk?

Monday, August 23, 2004

Some of you may have heard about the new controversy concerning the Eucharist that has erupted in New Jersey. I am amazed that so many people that I know from out of state have contacted me about it. Apparently it has been on the national news, and since it all started here in my diocese.

A recap; a little girl with celiac disease (a severe allergic reaction to gluten) was scheduled to receive her First Holy Communion in May 2004. Her mother spoke with the parish priest about her daughter's condition. The priest offered to use the extremely low gluten hosts that have been approved for use by the Vatican, and many doctors have said that they should be fine for people with celiac disease, but the mother refused to allow her daughter to receive any gluten. Then the priest offered to allow her to receive the Precious Blood, but the mother again refused to allow it, saying that she did not believe it right to EVER give a child alcohol. Apparently the mother then found a priest who agreed to use a rice wafer for Holy Communion. When my bishop came to sign the canonical books, her refused to sign for the girl in question (instructed the priest to removed the record that she had received her 1st Holy Communion) because invalid matter was used, thus the sacrament was invalid. The mother is "outraged," the girl is "very sad," and the mother has decided to appeal the decision of my bishop to Cardinal Ratzinger.

Of course this has been front page news in the papers, and now it is becoming a national news item. Of course the press has been doing their typically incompetent coverage of the Catholic Church; not showing the slightest understanding of the theological issues involved. It is just another example of emotivist journalism, and the long documented history of "Know-Nothingism" and anti-Catholicism in the USA. The Asbury Park Press even compared the Catholic Church to the Methodists and Lutherans, who the Park Press said are also Communion based churches and who both allow the use of non-gluten hosts.

OK, first a brief theological analysis of the issue (I warmly invite Frs. Tharp and Hamilton to add their insights, and correct me if I miss something). As I am sure all CRM readers know, Catholics believe that the Eucharist IS the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. That the bread and wine that is offered, after the words of Consecration, become actually the Body and Blood of Jesus; that the substance of bread and wine is completely changed into the substance of Christ Jesus. Nothing of the substance of bread and wine remain (although the accidents of bread and wine; e.g., color, taste, smell, etc. typically remains). Catholics believe Jesus' words as being true; when He said that He was giving us His Body and Blood as Real food and Real drink (cf. John's Gospel, Chapter 6) that he really was giving us His Body and Blood. Also, we follow what Jesus commanded us when He said "Do this in memory of me." Thus since He used bread, made with wheat, and wine (fermented juice of the grape) at the Last Supper, we too must use the same materials.

The Church's theology calls this miraculous transformation, Transubstantiation (the changing of substances). I am sure that someone with a more extensive philosophical background can give a better explanation of "substance" and "accidents", but here is how I explain it to kids I am preparing for their 1st Holy Communion. There is a difference between "what a thing is" and "what it looks like" (OK, I know this is only addressing one of the classes of accidents); for example look at pictures of you taken as a baby, a 7 year-old, a teenager, from college, and now. You probably look very different, but you are the same person (in the essence of who you are, or the esse). Thus what a person looks like does not change who they are. Now in the miracle of consecration, the "what it is" is changed, while the "what it looks like" stays the same. Since we are dealing with the "substances" and not just the "accidents" it does matter what we use.

With all due respect to our Methodist and Lutheran brothers and sisters, they do not have the same sense of Communion as Catholics. Methodists believe that Communion is just a sign of our fellowship with Christ and each other. They do not believe that the Eucharist is really Jesus' Body and Blood. Since it is just a sign, the matter of the sign does not make a difference, so they can use what ever they want. Now the Lutherans do believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, however they do not believe that the substance of the bread and wine are changed, rather the substance of Jesus' Body and Blood adheres to the substance of the bread and the substance of the wine (the theological term is consubstantiation). Since the bread and wine are merely the vehicle for the substance of Christ, again, the matter of the vehicle becomes less important.

Now my RageMonkey speaks; I find it hypocritical of the press, who are the first to wave the "separation of Church and State" when they feel that the Church is butting its nose into what they don't like and says is a public matter, but they have no problem butting their nose into what is clearly an internal Church matter, the discipline of its sacraments. My bishop is just doing what he is required to do to protect the validity of the sacraments. While I can empathize with the little girl's desire to receive the Eucharist, and the frustration that she and her mother must feel, they were given viable options. I just don't buy the resistance to allow her daughter to receive the Precious Blood because it would have alcohol. There is more alcohol in cough medicines. And when the mother says that she is not trying to change the Church or cause trouble, then why go to the press with it? Submit your appeal through the proper of channels. Scripture even sets the standard for handling these types of issues.

It is another example of a "Burger King" mentality -- that we can get things "my way." Also, the Eucharist is first and foremost the GIFT of our Lord's Body and Blood. We do not have the right to demand a gift.

Let us keep all the involved parties in our prayers.
Reporting from the Road

I've got me a Camry,/
It's as big as a whale,/
and it's about to set sail...

Yes, it's me, reporting in from the Daveshack. It's really more of a bungalow, but you get the idea. Before I head over to the priests' inservice, I thought I would stop and visit our techmonkey as today was the first day of school for him. No, he's not a student; he's the teacher. =shudder=

But God love him, this is his purgatory, assuming he is offering it up. And more to the point, he teaches 6th grade. If that isn't cause for canonization records to be kept, I don't know what is.

And because I am such a good, nice alpha male ragemonkey, I didn't post this commentary about Dave's occupation as "Another Good Reason to Homeschool." Only a cruel jerk would do that.


(I told you, Dave. This ragemonkey remembers every coup attempt and punishes all those involved.)
Which Parish Are You?

With all of Fr. H's posturing in an effort to get elected, I have been wondering about his election calculations. Is he wasting too much time "preaching to the choir?" That's why I propose a tablulation of red parishes and blue parishes. This way Fr. H can use the limited resources of his office to great postive effect.
Programming Note
CRM's coverage of Council of Priests: Decision 2004 with Lamb Blitzer will be suspended for a few days while the presbyterate of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City meet in plenary session. Coverage will return soon, and with insider stories from Clergy Days!

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Any advice?
Well, folks, tomorrow evening begins the annual "Clergy Days" of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. It is designed to be an adventure in continuing education beginning one evening, continuing for a full day, and ending at noon on the third day. With that set-up, let me switch gears a bit. This will be the largest gathering of priest electors before the September 1 election to the Council of Priests. As a candidate, should I do anything different? Should I be more cautious? What advice might you have for my candidacy as I prepare to leave for this gathering tomorrow morning? I mean, I'm not sure if I should have some swanky civilian clothing on hand, to court the mufti vote (which is a substantial block) or not. Unfortunately, I don't think walking about the gathering in cassock will win me any votes. I would be lucky if I only pulled off wearing a collar each day. I hate to sound shallow -- the political process seems to draw that out -- but should I bring a few prop books to carry around with my notepad? Certainly the Bible and my breviary are a given. I'm wondering if I should carry an Andrew Greeley book or maybe some wily Jesuit's writings on liberation theology? I think I might also need to plant a holy card of Blessed Pope John XXIII and arrange for it to "fall out" of one of my books, hitting the floor before a group of electors from another age group.

I'm just not sure. I'm starting to feel so dirty. Do I play the game just to get elected?
An Ugly Turn of Events

While Sundays might be light days on the campaign trail, they are not light days for one's opposition. Today, I was travelling in Kansas, visiting a parishioner in the hospital in Pratt. I stopped for a bathroom break, a fuel stop, and some beef jerky...mmm...beef hearts. Anyway I was half-watching a television, perched above my head when I finally saw it. An ugly attack ad is being run against Fr. Hamilton's bid for the priests' council seat.

The group calls itself "Swift Gondoliers For Truth," and they are disputing elements of Fr.'s record. For example, Fr. has tried to present himself as one with the working man, banking on his two summers working as a Vatican tour guide and gondolier in Venice. Beastly commute, but the money's good from what I am told. Anyway, these gondoliers dispute that Fr. was ever there, that he didn't actually go to school in Rome, but instead learned everything he knows about Italy from hanging out in the public library and frequenting Starbucks so as to master the cappuccino. As you can imagine, his ultra-orthodox credentials are in jeopardy.

Let's hope this doesn't impede his bid for the council seat.
Campaign Trail: Day 5
I suppose Sundays on the campaign trail for the Council of Priests are normally rather calm, since priests are busy with Holy Mass. I am certainly finding this Sunday to be so. It is a welcome relief from the intense few days of campaigning so far. The only thing I want to report today is that some people are really getting into this campaign -- perhaps even more than I am! I was informed today that a group totally unaffiliated with me has printed up their own campaign posters and flyers in support of my bid for the Council of Priests of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. I knew something was up in the last few days, because I saw a few large "V"s being waved about at the debate a couple of days ago. My middle initial is "V". Apparently, it was indicative of more than I ever could have imagined. I have yet to personally see these posters, but I am told they read like this:

Rev. Stephen V. Hamilton
Council of Priests
Virtue -- Vision -- Vatican

Finance talk preview
A few posts ago I mentioned my concern about finances in my parish and my plan to eventually devote a weekend to discussing finances. This weekend I gave the people a very brief preview of the finance talk to come. I have noticed, especially among the two Spanish Masses, some confusion about how second collections work -- whether one's parish contribution, placed in the second basket, goes to the parish or not -- so I decided to use this weekend to explain the process. In explaining what second collections are for and that parish contributions can't be mixed with them, I also made a plea for each family to have envelopes and to use them. I mentioned my recent addition of the finance corner in our bulletin and our current year-to-date deficit. I also encouraged the people to have pride in their parish and reminded them that we are not a small parish (800 registered families) and we can do more. I was, oh, so pleased afterwards when a kind lady came up to me and said something like, "You know, you're not even asking for that much. If every family gave only five dollars we'd make our weekly budget easily." She had done the math and the message is getting out there.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Campaign Trail: Day 4
I am accustomed to parishioners waiting for me near the sacristy after Holy Mass. Today, a reporter from the diocesan paper was there. I recognized him during Mass as a visitor, but I didn't know his association. He asked for an interview. I agreed with some hesitation.

At one point, he referred to today's Feast of Pope St. Pius X, known for his contribution to liturgical reform, especially sacred hymnody and chant. The reporter quoted my homily and the clear call I made for the need to pray through the intercession of the saintly pope for authentic reform of a liturgy that is supposed to be sacred by its very nature. But his question was a blatant attempt to pidgeon-hole me into an alternate form of Sacred Liturgy from days past. It was a lead he took from one of my competitors, who tried to so closely associate me with Pope Pius X, that electors might wonder if I fully support the validity of the Novus Ordo Mass. But I think I dodged the reporter's bullet rather nicely. I took the bait and I switched the matter of his question to raise doubts about my competitor. Here's what I said:

"The Church owes much to the legacy of Pope St. Pius x, it is true. Fr. Candidate C. knows I have always said so. But as to any perceived concern about my support of the saintly pope's liturgical legacy, I refuse to make his call for frequent reception of Holy Communion, and reception by children, an issue of this campaign. The Church has spoken on the matter. Perhaps Fr. Candidate C. needs to tell us where he stands on the reception of Holy Communion, especially by children."
Well, almost. A few posts ago, Fr. Tharp provided a link to the John Francis blog. The link showed the young John Francis and his father in matching ragemonkey merchandise. The father was in a t-shirt and little John Francis had his ragemonkey bib on.

It is hysterical, an honor, and leaves me speechless all at the same time. First of all, I didn't even realize we had a bib as part of our merchandise. Secondly, and this is what strikes me most of all, here is a precious little boy, only a month and a half old and he is already using ragemonkey attire. I mean so at some level, this young boy's early catholic upbringing is being contributed to, in some small way, by this blog. It makes me wonder what the future will hold for this kiddo. I mean, by the time he gets to RE and is preparing for First Holy Communion, will he be raging on, proudly professing Catholic Faith in the Real Presence in a manner far above his tender age, to the stunned silence of his teachers and classmates, and the proud smiles of his parents (the primary educators)? In explaining this RE prodigy, will the parish DRE whisper under her breath: "Well, you know, he's the monkey-boy"? The possibilities are endless.

Fr. Tharp and I just keep laughing and expressing disbelief in the photo of John Francis and Dad in their merchandise. John Francis' little body has barely become accustomed to the normal use of the lungs for oxygen, and already ragemonkey is in his life. His eyes have so much of the world around him to take in, and one of his early images is of a cartoon monkey in collar on his bib from this blog... it is stunning.

I think I have only now found what about this episode strikes me so: It makes me realize that there is a certain level of responsibility we owe to our readers. The blog isn't just about us bloggers, but largely about the readers too. I think the image of little John Francis has made me realize that in a wholly new way. Special thanks to his parents for purchasing the merchandise (supporting the charitable causes) and for providing the picture.

Friday, August 20, 2004

You're catching on
The answer is, yes, I have been trying to come up with as many posts as I can to totally overwhelm the blog. Someone has been complaining that I have been negligent of the blog. Are you happy now, Fr. Tharp?
I seriously think this is of the devil
If you have been reading the blog lately you know that I have been watching the Olympics each day. Today I saw the commercial again, the commercial about which I had previously planned to blog. It is a JC Penney back to school commercial. It features young kids (younger than middle school) sporting the newest and most hip of clothing. What bothers me is the music that says something like "Rock your body" as these same young children gyrate and perform various pelvic moves. Now, the other moves these kids somehow pull off are quite impressive. But I think the whole thing is disgusting and shameful. And that the parents of these children allowed them to be exploited as booty-shakers for JC Penney, all for a mighty buck, is perverse. I think it is of the devil.
They do WHAT?!
[Poster's note: Okay, before you read this post, read the one immediately below, then come back and read this one. Finally, after reading this one, go back and read once again the post immediately below and remember that I really am a nice guy.]

I have lots of roots in St. Louis and so I always enjoy getting my copy of the St. Louis Archdiocesan newspaper. In particular, this week's edition had a front page article on the now retired Monsignor who baptized me at my family's home parish. However, I was disturbed by another article in the paper. And, if I may be so bold, I would be a bit worried if I were Archbishop Burke of St. Louis. For anyone with access to the St. Louis Review, it is the August 13, 2004 edition, on page 15.

The article recounted the strategies of a second-grade religious education teacher, a lady who has devoted more than two decades to that level of RE. We all know what the focus of second-grade RE is: The Sacraments of Confession and, most especially, the Holy Eucharist. Now, let me state that I am sure this lady knows what she is doing. I am confident that more than two decades of RE teaching has provided her with insights still years to come for me personally, indeed, if they come at all. I even appreciated several of the other tactics reported in the article. However, one tactic has me rather worried: She has the children dress up in miniature versions of the priest's vestments and re-enact the Mass.

Now it is not the re-enacting the Mass that bothers me. But it is the institutionalization (keep in mind this takes place at a parish RE program) of girls dressing up in priest's vestments. I just don't think that is good. It is misleading, and obscures the nature of another Sacrament (Holy Orders) so intimately related to the very Sacrament about which the teacher is trying to impart solid knowledge and formation. Could this also not set the girls up for misunderstandings, even expectations, that cannot and will not be realized? I am sure little girls in second-grade RE can't verbalize the concerns I raise, but the image of Holy Orders placed in their minds is, I have no doubt, quite strong and mistaken. I think the idea is a good one, however, at the risk of being misunderstood as mean and cruel, I think only the boys should be allowed to play the part of the priest. That is my serious concern and objection. I really wish the article had not included a picture of little Marissa in vestments and holding a clay chalice [sic].

Now, the inability to control my cynicism means I will highlight a few lines from the article and provide some humorous (I hope) commentary. Quotes from the article appear in italics and my commentary in bold. Speaking of the origins of this teacher's creative way to teach kids about the Mass, the article states:

"It started when two mothers made...child-sized priest's vestments more than 25 years ago..."
25 years ago!? Oh, great, so the "kids' vestments" must be at least as trashy as what I find in most sacristies. I mean, those moms didn't have to go through the trouble, I would have gladly donated some of the garbage I have found for downsizing. Now the poor tikes won't think Mass is Mass unless Father is wearing a denim or tie-dye chasuble!

"I have one of each [vestment] color: red, white, purple, and green," the teacher said.
If you have one of each color, then you also have black and rose. Minus two points, M'am. However, since you did not erroneously consider grey and blue as optional colors, you get two points and it all evens out.

"Students get to experience wearing a priest's vestments, including the alb..., the cincture..., a chasuble..., and the stole, a long, narrow piece of fabric worn around the neck and over the chasuble."
Okay, unfortunately, based on what most priests wear or don't wear, I would bet the kids have never seen a cincture before! You know, that part of priestly vesture associated with that prudish, unnecessary virtue of CHASTITY! Secondly, and can we all please get this through our thick skulls (yes, I know dumb priests are responsible for this), the stole DOES NOT, NOT, NOT, go over the chasuble. It is NOT the outermost vestment. The stole goes under the chasuble. Somewhere in the more recent history of liturgical vesture some bozo priest or some bozo vestment company (which came first, the chicken or the egg?) began wearing the stole on the outside, or began manufacturing stoles that could only fit on the outside, respectively. That is not traditional vesture and it is poor symbolism. The stole represents authority, the chasuble charity. Father is actually supposed to cover his authority with charity (stole covered by chasuble), not the other way around! And yes, you will be lucky, Father readers, if I see you with an "outside" stole and I do not do you physical harm.

The students and teacher reflect on each week's gospel in their play Masses and "ask such questions as ... 'What does Jesus want you and me to work on for Sunday or for next week'?"
Let me guess, this activity is followed up by the childrens' color-by-number posters for the Women's Ordination Conference, because we all know that Jesus wants us to listen to His Spirit and become activists for the day when little Susie can wear "big-girl vestments"!

Okay, I had better stop. Remember, you are supposed to now re-read the post immediately below.
A glimpse into their perceptions
I feel compelled to report a funny little event at the parish this evening. I hope I can describe it well.

Every other Friday evening a group of Hispanic parishioners gathers in our parish hall for singing, praying, and faith sharing. They are Cursillistas, if you know of that spiritual movement. I think it is great they gather so frequently and in such numbers. However, we have had problems in the past because the people usually bring their small children (that's not the problem) and leave them totally unattended and running in packs (we know what happens in a crowd mentality). Well, inevitably, we would find on Saturday terrible scuffing on the wax floors of the hall (from persons dragging furniture around the floor as a footstool to the water fountain) and the frequent toilet jammed full of paper. I have informed the parents in the group that their children are most welcome, however they cannot be allowed to simply roam the property unattended, they must have someone older watching over them. So, I have walked over to the hall the last few Fridays just to check on things, you know. I did the same tonight and here is where the story picks up...

As I was walking on the sidewalk outside of our parish hall, still some distance off, I could see a group of four young boys playing. One of them was moving in my direction and when he looked up and saw me coming, he promptly turned around and rejoined the group. The look in my direction from the rest of the boys told me he had said to them, "Father is coming." And as I continued my march toward them, I heard one of the other boys in the group say, "Don't worry, he's nice." So, as I drew near them, I laughingly said, "So, I'm nice am I?" The boy who had made the observation had this surprised look on his face with a little smile. So, I followed it up by saying, "You didn't think I heard that, did you?" He knew from the smile on my face and the joking tone, that I found the whole thing amusing. So, he smiled and said he didn't realize I could hear him. Added to the humor of his comment, is that he is the same boy I had to very gently reprimand one Sunday for goofing off and being distracting in the area near the sanctuary for the choir (I know, don't get me started on that), where his father plays music and sings.

It just got me laughing and thinking back to when I was a boy and what my perceptions of the priest were. I am sure my boyhood perceptions were much the same as that revealed by the little event this evening. Secondly, I was glad to have some confirmation that even when I have to reprimand someone (that boy in particular), I can manage to pull it off in a way that is not threatening, but even-tempered, serious, and fair.

So, it was with much ease and joy that I returned to that group of kids a few minutes later with a box of leftover donuts from the meeting this morning of my clergy support group!
THAT'S in the Olympics?!
I was rather surprised and amused to see Olympic coverage of the trampoline this evening. I had no idea it was an Olympic event. I do not doubt that it takes great athletic skill to twist, flip, and turn as those competitors did, but I couldn't help but wonder... Is the trampoline a way to give former Olympic gymnasts another chance to compete when they can no longer keep up with the kids in gymnastics?
He admitted it!
Fr. Tharp and I were speaking on the telephone just moments ago and he admitted it! He said, "I am a nerd, basically. I am a major dork." And later in the conversation he said, "I am dork-zilla."
Campaign Trail: Day 3
Folks, the rigors of the campaign trail are rather time consuming, especially in a rural diocese like mine; however, I am going to try to provide a daily report through the September 1 election.

Last night was the first debate between the candidates. It was a typical catholic gathering. We met in a 1950's era construction parish hall (read: largely cinderblock walls painted sea green) and began with a pot luck supper. Following dessert, the candidates were introduced. The debate was largely fair and kept to the issues. There was one awkward moment between two of the other candidates (I wasn't involved) when one claimed the other had been ordained in blue jeans. Shock and horror came over the crowd. The implication was clear: that particular candidate was ordained, and thus is the child of, a liturgically untrustworthy generation. But now to the real show stopper....

If you have read this blog for some time, you know that my Irish heritage (my ancestry is soaked in Ryans, Keatings, Mahers, and Wheelahans) is more than a mere label. Yes, I have a fairly standard Irish temper. Well, I was tired toward the end of the debate and wasn't on my best game. It got a bit ugly. One candidate, in an attempt to court the JP II generation vote, falsely compared himself to Cardinal Ratzinger, and, well, I lost it. During my days in Rome I had the pleasure of meeting Cardinal Ratzinger, and even serving as his MC at an ordination Mass. I couldn't let the remark go unanswered. The exchange went something like this...

Fr. Candidate A: "We need to recreate the John Paul II curial model at the Vatican in this archdiocese. For too long we have had no consistent oversight, no watchdog, to ensure that the archbishop's vision is implemented throughout our great land. Much like Cardinal Ratzinger's service to the Pope, indeed the universal Church, I have the experience and the shared vision to be of service to our Archbishop."

Me: "Fr. Candidate A, I have met Cardinal Ratzinger. Cardinal Ratzinger is a man I have worked with. Father, you're no Cardinal Ratzinger!"

It just sort of came out of my mouth before I really thought about it. I think the comment was justified, however, it may have solidified the notion in some electors minds that I am a rash, young priest who doesn't show enough respect to his older brothers in the priesthood. We'll see what the diocesan media make of this.

A reminder to readers: Though I have indeed been nominated to the Council of Priests, campaign reporting is entirely fictictious.
Wheels Within Wheels

Like Uriah Heap, wringing in his hands in obsequious joy, I am barely able to contain my excitement. I just got my third location for the November "Bring in the Noise, Bring on the Grace" tour of Mark Shea to Northwest Oklahoma. Thanks to everyone who was praying for this evil plan of mine to come to fruition. Thus far, we have Guymon on Monday, November 15th, Enid on Tuesday, November 16th, and Alva on Wednesday, November 17th. And there are two slots open: Sunday, November 14th and Thursday, November 18th.

All of my plans are wheels within wheels. I am using this as a step to seeing if the Archbishop will accept my idea of making me Archdiocesan Director of Evangelization. Buh--wah--wah...
Matching Merchandising?

For those who care or for those who forgot, you too can share the rage of this blog with the world through our impressive internet shop. Set up by Techmonkey Buddy Steph, we offer a wide array of merchandise for the choosing, and the profits go to support Catholic Answers and Rachel's Vineyard. You should check out the sites today.

Thanks to Brynne at John Francis for the pictures and modelling. Too bad we aren't as big as Baby Gap.

So, if you want to buy some monkey gear, go here.
I Have Not Been Silenced
I just wanted to reassure all the CRM readers that I have not been silenced by my bishop, nor by myself. I hope that the situation with the unhappy reader has been settled. I have been thinking about the situation, and I think that the title of this blog may be magnet for people who might not agree with the general opinions of the authors. Being called "Catholic Rage Monkey" some may think that it is a blog for people who are angry at the Catholic Church for some reason, and that they will find kindred spirits here to share their "rage" with. That has its pros and cons, but at the very least it means that we need to be ready for some flaming from time to time.

If I am more quiet for the next 10 days or so it is because my pastor pretty much insisted that I take some time off. Oh, its not because of anything I did or said. Actually he has told me that he is very happy with my work at the parish, and relieved that I get along so well with the other priests in the parish (not that anyone before me didn't get along, but a new person is always an unknown, and when the priests don't get along in a rectory it makes rectory life very difficult, and it causes tension in the parish). Rather, since I am at a rather big parish (about 4000 families; the folks from the Archdiocese of OKC can close their mouths now, yes, we have lots of people and we are not even close to being the biggest parish in the diocese, which has 7000 families), and because we have both our own high school (about 1100 students) and grammar school (600 students), things really get hopping once September gets here so he wants me well rested. Thus I am visiting my sister in NC, and next week will be spending some alone time (well just me, God, and Homer, the Greek not Simpson) at the Outer Bank. When I can get to a computer I will try to think of something to contribute.

Yours in Christ with the Immaculata!

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Fiddling Whilst Rome Burns

Well, I can say that I have had another totally new experience as a priest as of Tuesday just past. As I mentioned here, RCIA began for my little trio of parishes on Tuesday and do you know how many people showed up? C'mon...take a guess. One. Yes, that right. One person showed up. I was dismayed to say the very least.

First, given that I had several people mention that they knew of interested parties who would be coming, husbands and siblings e.g., I was expecting about ten. Also, NONE of my parishioners showed up. I guess I need to remind everyone that people who are inquiring about becoming Catholic need the presence of the parish to help them along and to help them integrate into the parish. This didn't factor into my conversion; I would have become a Catholic if it had been just me and the pastor.

Second, this is a shocking change of pace for me. In my first assignment, I taught about half of the classes and the class size was about 40 -50 if you count the supporting players. In my second assignment, in rural Oklahoma, the class was about 15, again counting supporting players. Last year, in this parish, my RCIA attendance was about the same as my second assignment. So what the deuce changed this year? Suffice it to say, I am discouraged by this. I have never really done a systematic one-on-one presentation and am at a loss as how to proceed.

Third, it makes me wonder if I am having any real impact on the parish's life. Call me naive but I think that a good priest encourages the laity of the parish to be solid evangelizers, or at least, shameless promoters of the Faith. But when no one is able to encourage others to consider becoming Catholic, it makes you wonder what all that work and preaching is for. I guess I really haven't been pulling my weight in this parish. This, of course, is good for me to think about. After all, it's Christ's parish. He will bring them back, by hook or by crook, shepherd's crook that is.

Thanks to everyone who prayed and are praying for the one young woman in the class.
Campaign Trail: Day 2
I will try to update our readers about the events surrounding my nomination to the Council of Priests and the election September 1. Yesterday I wrote that the mudslinging had already begun. Pictures of a priest dressed in very traditional priestly garb don't fair too well these days outside of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. So the pics of me in cassock and biretta were an easy target for the mudslingers. I never dreamed that simply being a priest and looking like one could do such electoral harm.

However, I am happy to announce that today, my campaign spin doctors have pulled out a brilliant response. A picture of me washing feet from Holy Thursday of 2002 has surfaced and has provided so much damage control, to the point that I have now been endorsed by the "Worker Priest Movement"! And the best part of the photo, in my estimation, is that you can see in it, precisely in the act of getting on the ground and washing feet, that I am wearing the cassock and an amice (under the alb, of course).

Yesterday was looking down so early out of the starting gate on the campaign trail; today couldn't be more different!

A reminder to readers: Though I have indeed been nominated to the Council of Priests, campaign reporting is entirely fictictious. However, the photos of which I have written, do indeed exist.
In the truest sense of that word, it can't be believed that US gymnast Paul Hamm managed to pull off a gold medal in the men's all around competition yesterday. If you watched it or saw the replays, you know what I am talking about. Paul was doing very well until the vault. And he totally fell apart on that event, at least as regards the landing. I mean the guy hit the ground, his feet went out from underneath him, he flew off the side of the mat, and practically knocked score tabulation equipment off the judges' table as he paid them a little olympic visit. Had it not been for the mistakes made by other gymnasts, his would have been a lost cause. But the mistakes of others, opened up a small window of opportunity and Paul came back. Amazing story!

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Please tell me if...
I am making too much of this. If you were watching the beginning of NBC's Olympic coverage this evening at 8 Eastern/7 Central time, and you saw the ending credits and transition to the first commercial break following the first round of shot put throws, then you saw what I saw. The camera showed us an image of some hill, the sun setting behind it and visible just below the hill's summit. At the hill's summit was a cross. Guess what the TV people covered up with sponsor ads? If you guessed the cross, you got it right. Over the cross was superimposed the various symbols of AT&T, Chevy, etc. Meanwhile the setting sun was kept in view. Am I making too much of this? The sun was kept in full view on the screen while the cross was covered up and only seen between the switch from one sponsor's logo to another. Paganism is alive and well. Nevermind Greece's Orthodox Christianity, let's just remember the good ole' days of the pagan gods and goddesses.
Show me the money!
Why are Catholics such routinely poor monetary contributors to their parish? Studies show that Catholics always rank on the bottom among studies of all Christian ecclesial communities. The past several weeks I have been crunching numbers and watching the deficit grow. Just last week I initiated a new "finance box" in the bulletin, showing what we must collect each week to make budget and what we actually collected from the previous weekend. Of the eight weekends so far in the new fiscal year (since July 1) all but two have been deficit weekends. Therefore, in big, bold letters in the finance box is the word DEFICIT, and the cumulative total to date. That is my first move to make people aware of the concern and of the reality that running a parish costs money. I am also making plans for a finance talk in the upcoming weeks. We'll see how the sheep respond.
Total sympathy
First, allow me to welcome Fr. Garrett to our blog. It is rather ironic that I have made a few posts now, immediately after one of Fr. Garrett's inaugural posts garnered such negative reaction, after my extended pouting following some negative reaction -- albeit not as vile -- to my own post weeks ago. I too was rather burned on blogging after that event and I totally sympathize with Fr. Garrett's feeling gun-shy.

The truth is things are also rather busy. It provided a nice cover for my pouting. I am just swimming in so many details of trying to be pastor. So, we'll see if blogging can continue or not. It has been quite clear that I have not been pulling my weight on the blog. But now we have one raging blogger and two gun-shy ones. Oh the irony!
All at once now...
Okay, if any other company out there has a new toilet brush with disposable head, please declare your product at this time so we can get all of this over with at once. Every time I turn on the TV to watch Olympics it seems like another company has a new brush so that the yucky kind that stays at the toilet's side is needed no more. How many variations on the theme can there possibly be? Oh, sorry, I forgot we worship the god of consumerism. Silly me!
Thank Goodness It's Not Lent!

I generally don't care for watermelon. It's a long story involving too many seeds and such. So, when one of my parishioners gave me a watermelon straight from the garden, I was touched at the gesture but dismayed at its presence in my refrigerator. That, however, has changed.

I dug out my favorite cook book and made WATERMELON SORBET. Oh, party people, you only wished you lived in Alva. This delightful mixture froze up beautifully in my ice cream maker. It is smooth and creamy and is pungently watermelon-y. Now, I am searching out more delicious fruit sorbets to make and store. Yet another lovely way to hold over fruit that fades so quickly.

Anybody want the recipe?
Convention bound
Well, folks, the word came in just last night to my rectory that I am one of the top four nominees among the priests of this archdiocese for election to the Council of Priests. This happened last year, too, but I lost the election. So, my rectory has once again become a campaign headquarters. I must get my speech ready for the big presbyteral convention. I need to define myself and clearly set forth my views and positions, while trying to downplay my youthfulness. But I am afraid the mudslinging has already begun. Remember the picture of me from the Sound of Music in cassock and biretta? Well, it is being used against me. The image of a candidate in cassock and biretta I guess harkens back to pre-Vatican II days and it elicits a knee-jerk reaction from many clergy. The labels "Roman Catholic" and "orthodox" will definitely hurt my image as a candidate. And I may not be able to overcome the misunderstandings surrounding the Spanish Mass debacle before election time. Oh, spin doctors, get to work! I will keep you posted of the latest exit polls as priests of the archdiocese leave their sacristies, and, of course, of the final outcome after the September 1 voting deadline.

It is true I have been nominated. Please read the rest tongue in cheek.
Bringin' Home the Gold
Yes, I have Olympic fever. I have been watching, among other events, the swimming competitions. And I have decided to adopt and adapt the nickname for one Australian swimming legend (Ian Thorpe or "Thorpedo"). So, I would like to dedicate this post in homage to the Rev. Shane Ian Tharp because he goes after the fullness of the feast of Catholic Faith full throttle. And if you get in his way, you're likely to be destroyed. And, so, here's to you Fr. Tharpedo!

Tuesday, August 17, 2004


I love the essence of a film distilled down to 30 seconds. It's a go-go life style I lead, and I can't sit around waiting for plot and character development.

The people (the insanely funny and sick people) at Angry Alien Animation. The above link will take you directly to Jaws in 30 Seconds. Enjoy.
Back to School Time!

I love Back to School time. I always did. Oh, sure, there was the twinge of fear creeping around my head. Will I like my teacher(s)? Will he/she/they like me? I wonder what we are going to learn? Is it going to be hard stuff to learn? But I loved the trip to the TG&Y and later the WalMart for school supplies. Those were my weapons and tools for waging an academic battle. I thought of all the great organizing and sorting my Trapper Keeper would help me accomplish. I loved the heft of a good pen in my hand; that's an addiction I still fight hard against whenever I have to go to the office supply store for the parish.

I think I loved most the sense of possibility. Nothing had been determined yet. I could get a 4.0 this year, or lead in the school play, or be the most popular guy. So, when I had to run to the Wal-Mart today for a couple of poster frames, I smiled nostolgically down the back to school aisles, wanting nothing more than to grab a big box of crayons and a fresh pencil box and some new notebooks.

Too bad for all the gloomy kids. It's a great time of year.
For those who gather at the starting line...

With Easter arriving very much earlier this year than in years past, and a flurry of things taking me away from the parish from time to time, I had to get started on R.C.I.A. a bit earlier than I wanted to. Thankfully, I have all the notes from last year's classes, so it is a matter of expanding and fine-tuning, rather than re-writing. I'm also really excited that this year the program includes daily readings from the Holy Bible in an effort to give people the big picture of Salvation History. I'll keep you posted on that front.

The principal reason I mention this is to ask your prayers and penances for my class of candidates and catechumen. I have NO idea how many will show and so the first night is a bit anxious for me as well. Thanks in advance.
Fruits of the Pilgrimage

I thought everyone would be edified by the prayer our Holy Father composed to Our Lady of Lourdes in honor of the recent pilgrimage. I am still amazing and moved whenever I see him struggle against the rising burden of his cross of ailments. The early popes who suffered a swift martyrdom before the crowds, in the colosseum, in the courts, must be praying for this heroic warrior. He struggles with every step to hand on the Gospel truth, that suffering can be redemptive. Okay enough of my prattling; here's the text. Say it once today for someone you love. Say it again for some one in need. Say it a third time for some one struggling with a terminal illness.


Hail Mary, poor and humble Woman, Blessed by the Most High! Virgin of hope, dawn of a new era, We join in your song of praise, to celebrate the Lord’s mercy, to proclaim the coming of the Kingdom and the full liberation of humanity.

Hail Mary, lowly handmaid of the Lord, Glorious Mother of Christ! Faithful Virgin, holy dwelling-place of the Word, Teach us to persevere in listening to the Word, and to be docile to the voice of the Spirit, attentive to his promptings in the depths of our conscience and to his manifestations in the events of history.

Hail Mary, Woman of sorrows, Mother of the living! Virgin spouse beneath the Cross, the new Eve, Be our guide along the paths of the world. Teach us to experience and to spread the love of Christ, to stand with you before the innumerable crosses on which your Son is still crucified.

Hail Mary, woman of faith, First of the disciples! Virgin Mother of the Church, help us always to account for the hope that is in us, with trust in human goodness and the Father’s love. Teach us to build up the world beginning from within: in the depths of silence and prayer, in the joy of fraternal love, in the unique fruitfulness of the Cross.

Holy Mary, Mother of believers, Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.

Why Tolerance is Not A Virtue

You see, folks, when I or others of a Christian persuasion, any Christian persuasion, attempt to analyze the trends in our society, then we are being terribly judgmental, not giving the other side a fair shake. In short, we Christians are intolerant.

The instant our society wants to lampoon what we believe, even if I would be hard pressed to describe what the Rev. Roberts teaches in his play "Hell House" as mainstream Christian belief concerning eschatology, although that is an assumption as I have never seen the material in question, then we are taking this stuff "too seriously" or acting like a "fundamentalist." We should just lighten up is the advice offered.

Look closely to see the contradiction. If I step on non-Christian toes, then I am intolerant. If they step on my Christian toes, then they are just being funny and I can't get the joke. In short, the problem is always the other person. I can't recall the philosopher/theologian who said, "Hell is other people," but it applies here. Imagine the picketing outside the theater if I put on a show lampooning abortion rights or animal activism.

Where is the tolerance of Christian beliefs and mores in our society? It doesn't exist. The same people who wail and strike their breasts, rending their garments, that Christianity proposes that actions have definitive consequences and those consequences have eternal repercussions, claiming that sort of thinking is terribly intolerant, are just as intolerant themselves. Rather than trying to understand and critique the idea, an immediate act of pigeonholing takes place. By marginalizing the speaker, we get the added bonus of marginalizing the idea. Christians have to be cautious of this as well. Since we are the recipients of the fullness of Christian teaching, we often treat an argument for or against something as already decided. For the person of faith, that might be the case; if the goal is persuasion of the truth, then we must assume nothing and try to walk through the steps anew each time the matter comes up.
Do You Have to Buy Them in Bulk?
Israel Cave Linked to John the Baptist

What makes this story interesting, of course, lies with our common depiction of John wading halfway out into a river to baptize. Rather, if the archaeologists have it right, baptism had a formal, "liturgical" structure even before the institution of the sacrament of Baptism. Also, the presence of the stone jars suggests to me that baptism by John was not necessarily a full immersion job. It looks as though he might have simply poured water on them as the sign of their repentance.
The Reason My Back Problems Go Largely Untreated

I have to admit to feeling a bit gun-shy about posting considering that my one comment in the post on the movie Collateral has turned into such a big deal for one reader. They have threatened to contact my bishop about it. It was a person who objected to my comment on homosexuality; but I was really just trying to say what the Church teaches. Wow, only ordained 3 months and I might be in hot water. If people are interested in a discussion on this topic, I refer you to a series of articles that appeared in the Catholic Standard & Times, the paper of the Archdiocese of Philiadelphia (I know there is a link to the Archdiocese's webpage on CRM), by Susan Brinkmann. In it she not only explores the Church's teaching, but also scientific research and what is really being discovered.

Time for a break.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Sad And True! Volume One

New Mexico Children's Event Criticized for Backing Planned Parenthood
Santa Fe, NM (LifeNews.com)
-- The Buckaroo Ball Committee, organizers of a three-day public celebration to benefit children in the community, has given over $36,000 to the nation's largest abortion business. As part of its $500,000 in grant money distributed to area organizations, the Committee granted Planned Parenthood $36,316 for their Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program, “which focuses on health-centered problems, issues and parent/teacher training.” Pro-life organizations have pointed out that health and sex-education programs run by the largest abortion business and its affiliates do not solve the teen pregnancy or abortion issues. Margo Taylor and Roxanne Shaw Apple, Grant Committee Chairs of the Buckaroo Ball, told LifeNews.com that Planned Parenthood successfully met all the requirements for their rigorous grant application process.

Yes, Ms. Apple, PP met all the criterion, except for the common sense requirement. Clearly, you benefit children who were able to run the gauntlet and escape the womb. For the rest, all bets are off.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Geez! Take a nap and see what happens!

I see that our novice blogger fell into the trap that everyone else does. Just a reminder. Anonymous posts will most likely be banned and erased. Vulgar posts that don't address the issues, use profanity, or make fun of a previous post-er will be erased and banned.

And Fr. J.C., next time, follow your instincts!

(turns away from computer grumbling)You take one evening off...and this is what happens...

Saturday, August 14, 2004

'Cheer Naked' T-Shirts Get Coach Fired

I sat for the longest time just staring at the screen and rubbing my eyes and thinking, "What?!" and "Duh?!" and "I should hope so!" Are those interjections?
St. Maximilian Kolbe

As I am sure most of you know, today is the memorial of St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe, the OFM-Conv. who gave up his life for a strange in Auswitz, 1941. What you may not know, is that I have a special devotion to St. Maximilian, and, following an old custom, took Maximilian as my ordination name. I used the following quote from a letter of St. Maximilian (see the Office of Readings for this day) in my homily this morning:

"Let us love our loving Father with all our hearts. Let our obedience
increase that love, above all when it requires us to surrender our own
will. Jesus Christ crucified is our sublime guide toward growth in God's

St. Maximilian Kolbe, pray for us.

I mentioned in my first post, that I went to see the movie Collateral this week on my day off, and that one line from the movie has caused me to do a bit of reflection. Roger Ebert certainly has a better review than I could write, and I refer you to his review (I guess I need to consult with tech-monkey Dave or Fr. Tharp as to how to put a link in a blog; I am new to blogging) which I agree with completely. A brief summary, without giving away any surprises, is that Max is a cabbie who picks up Vincent, a guy who has 5 business stops to make. Sadly Vincent's business is killing people (read on and you will see that Vincent might disagree with that description of what he does). The movie is very strong in character development, and Jamie Foxx, who plays Max the Cabbie, gets bonus points in my book for I never knew he could really act. Tom Cruise, who plays Vincent, does a good job too (it was more difficult to type that than you know), except he has cheesy make-up to make him look like he could grow "5 o'clock shadow" and to give him grey hair. I am not sure why the director wanted Vincent to look older, it actually does not fit in with other aspects of Vincent's history (sorry, you got to see the movie to see why I think that), but the more I ponder it, I think it was make Vincent look like a fake person (fake hair and beard will do that), which would be a further sign of the director's depth of vision and commentary.

OK, I am getting to the point of this blog. At the first stop, Max finds out what Vincent's business is (his hint was a bloody body falling out of a 4th story window onto his cab; not subtle). When Max says to Vincent, "you killed him," Vincent answers, and here is the line, "No, I didn't kill him. I shot him. The bullet and the fall killed him."

WOW! What a statement of most of post-modern/modern/Generation-X thinking that is. I am only responsible for my most immediate actions, but none of the consequences. Yes, I had sex with that person, but I am not responsible for the life that results from that. Yes, I voted for that bill that made it legal to grow "embryos" for their parts (e.g., stem cells), but I am not responsible for killing babies. Yes, I have been promoting the killing of babies through abortion, the cheapening of human sexuality by promoting contraception & homosexuality, but I am not responsible for the degradation of the family, and the turning of people into objects to be used. Sick, sick, sick thinking people.

However, this type of thinking is very common in modern society. I guess we can trace much of it back to DesCartes with his famous "I think therefore I am". Of course the problem with such a philosophy is that it traps a person within their own mind; ultimately it gets pushed to not being able to know if anything exists outside of my mind, my perception. Berkeley, the English philosopher, tried to keep God in the equation but saying that while a chair ceases to exist when it is no longer in mind, he believed that since God keeps everything in mind, everything can stay in existence. However, Berkeley (or at least in my limited background in philosophy I never discovered it) by starting from the human mind, seems to unwittingly say that God exists BECAUSE people believe. So what would happen if no one is keeping God in existence by keeping Him in their mind? Does not cease to exists? If God, who b/c He has a bigger mind can keep more things in existence, ceases to exist because no human mind is keeping Him in it, then it seems like an aweful lot of things will just wink out of existence. Of course philosophers after Berkeley just dispensed with the whole idea of God, and ultimately concluded that we can know nothing accept one's own perceptions, so we don't know if anything outside ourselves exists.

In psychology this idea was basically taken up by Carl Rogers. Everybody seems to like Rogers; he is soft and cuddly. Roger's basic idea was that mental illness, in whatever form it takes, results from a discrepency between how I see myself and how others see me. However, if you read him more closely you will find that he does not believe that we can actually know what other people think, or even know that other people are, we can only know our own perceptions. So the real problem, according to Rogers, is the incongruence between my "real self" and my "ideal self." While Rogers ended up calling his school of thought Person-Centered Theory, it can also be described as Self-Centered theory. With all that navel gazing it does not take long for one's world of "reality" to collapse inward, getting smaller and smaller. So only one's most immediate actions is one responsible for. Since I can't really know that other people exist, I cannot really care for or love them. In fact, this "others" really are just defined by me, my perceptions, thus are not really subjects or persons, but just objects, extensions of myself.

Of course Christ calls us to view the world very differently. First, reality and existence does not begin within myself. Rather existence comes from Other-ness. Not that we are made from the substance of God (panetheism, or is it pantheism, I get those two things confused, but both are WRONG), rather God is so utterly Other than creation. He is Creator. Creation is an act of love, which by its essence is a gift being given outward; not the inward navel gazing of modern philosophy and psychology. So no Vincent, you are responsible for more than just shooting the fat guy. You, Vincent, not the bullet, is the principle cause of the fat guy's death.

Sorry for another long post. I guess I have been holding the inner rage monkey in too long.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Howdy from CRM East
I would just like to introduce myself to all the readers of CRM. I am Fr. J.C. Maximilian Garrett, a friend of Fr. Tharp's from the seminary, and he invited me to be something of the East Coast Correspondent for CRM. I am a priest of the Diocese of Trenton, NJ; having just been ordained a priest this past May. In fact, since the "powers-that-be" at the seminary conspired so that then Deacon Shane Tharp never preached to the Theology Division therefore I never heard him preach, I invited Fr. Tharp to preach at my First Mass of Thanksgiving (on May 16), and he did a most spendid job. I still get requests for copies.
In any case, prior to entering the seminary I was a college professor and director of a graduate program. I have a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois in Counseling Psychology. Now, please do not hold that against me, among my colleagues I was known for being quite the critic of modern psychology which has completely diovorced its from any philosophical basis in reality. You will certainly hear more on my thoughts of what is wrong with modern psychology as I post to CRM, but I will share one my sayings that Fr. Tharp seemed fond of, "Kill your inner child and grow up." Dr. Paul Vitz is so correct in his analysis that modern psychology has become largely a pseudo-religion which worships the Self. If any body among the readers of CRM needs a therapist, I recommend that they look for a referral from www.catholictherapist.com, for they screen their members to make sure that they are faithful to the teaching of the Church.
One of the reasons I think Fr. Tharp invited me to be the East Coast Correspondent is because we frequently "raged" about the conditions of society. I was originally going to make my first posting about a line in the movie Collateral which I thought captured a major problem in American society. However, since I am from the State of New Jersey, how can I not comment on the resignation of our governor, James McGreevey. I will save the comments on Collateral for another post.
While I am sure that there were many in the State that did not know that Gov. McGreevey was gay, his announcement really did not come as much of a shock to people who pay attention to State government. So what really prompted the Gov. to resign and "come out"? I strongly believe that it was to become a martyr of a sort. While believing completely, not just because I am a faithful Catholic but also because of my clinical experience as a psychologist, that the homosexual orientation is gravely disordered, that in and of itself is not a reason to resign from office (especially in the liberal bastion that is NJ; which has the most liberal laws permitting fetal stem cell research in the nation, thanks to McGreevey, who also signed into law our domestic partners act; color me shocked). Even his adultery, as shameful and painful for his family (he has two daughters, one from each of his wives) it is for his family, would not really be a huge issue for New Jerseyans. The immediate reason for his resignation is that he is likely facing a law suit from his "lover" for sexual harassment. However, that was just the straw that broke the camel's back. Gov. McGreevey was seen as a really upcoming star of the Democratic Party; not only in NJ but possibly even nationally, but once he became governor he was connected to one problem after another. The first and biggest was appointing his "lover" to a $110,000/yr job as the State Director of Homeland Security. While questionably ethical, what made it a real problem was that Golan Cipel (the "lover") is a foreign national, with no real security background, who could not even get the basic security clearance. For the State that lost the most number of its citizens in the attacks of 9/11/01 this was a huge slap in the face. Apparently it was more important to give his "lover" a high paying job, than for the Governor to be a) sensitive to the families and friends who lost loved ones in the terrorist attacks, and b) be truly concerned about the State's security. Then the Governor appointed an ex-con to head the State Police, and this man so demoralized the troopers that eventually even the Democrats were looking for an "honorable" way of removing him (unfortunately that was making him the police director for the city of Trenton, so now that department's officers are demoralized). Most recently Governor McGreevey's two closest fundraisers have been charged in Federal courts for criminal behavior, including hiring a prostitute to try to get a businessman in a compromising position (it failed). While the Gov. has not been implicated, as of yet, the fire is getting very close. Apparently at the Democratic National Convention, McGreevey was avoided like the plague. His poll numbers are very low.
By resigning now he is getting a lot of sympathy, and being called courageous. Of course by not making his resignation effective until Nov. 15 (alledgely to make a smooth transition; but did he really keep the State Senate President, a Democrat, so out of the loop that it will take 3 months to get him up to speed?) the Governor avoids a special election which could have been bad for the Democrats (they expected him to not only finish his term but run for re-election, so they did not really have an heir apparent ready). I really do not want to be partisan, I am a Catholic first and foremost (personally I wish we had a true Christian Democratic Party, like those that sprung up in Europe shortly after Pope Leo XIII's social encyclicals that tried to promote the Church's social teachings), but nothing of the Governor's actions seem honorable, and I have to question if this is really going to be helpful for the Democratic Party. NJ was going to be in the "D" column come Nov. (not that I am happy with that; Senator Kerry is a gutless, spineless weasel who could not make an important decision if his life depended on it -- oops, a bit a bitterness leaked out). Supposedly McGreevey staying in office until after the election will "help keep it that way" but I don't see how. I mean he will now be a constant reminder and target for criticism. I mean I think that you would want him to get off the stage as quickly as possible; the Governor-to-be, Senator Cody, has not been a big name so not too controversial. I just don't get it; but that is politics in the garden state -- covered in fertilizer.
Well, enough of Jersey politics. Until next time, this is CRM-East.