Monday, November 29, 2004
Not that I have been saying a whole lot on this blog lately, but I think I am going to be not posting much for awhile now. I know that I mentioned to you CRM readers that I was going in for surgery on November 18. It went fine. My throat was really raw for 4-5 days and the back of my neck, the muscles, really ached. I have a funky swollen section of my neck, so I cannot button collar. I was really wiped out for about 5 days; sleeping 10-12 hours a day. Even now I am more fatigued than normal. I officiated at a wedding on Saturday, and said a Mass and did baptisms yesterday. I am also back in the normal weekly Mass rotation.
However, I did see my doctor today and he had the pathology report back. Both of the tumors he removed were cancer. It is papillary (not sure of the spelling), which is the most common form of thyroid cancer, and most treatable. My doctor said that in nearly 20 years of practice, having treated many cases of this type of cancer, he has never had a patient die from it. He also said that the tumors I had were very small, so we caught it very early. He says that my prognosis is excellent. However, I need to go in for more surgery (to remove the rest of the thyroid), and then they allow 6 weeks of "thyroid starvation" which a doctor friend of mine says is not very pleasant. When my body is very "starved" for the thyroid hormone (which I will not be able to produce since I will have no thyroid), I will go for radioactive iodine treatment and be "radioactive man" for about 7-10 days. The daughter of my DRE has gone through this and makes it sound "fun." But all in all, I will most likely survive all this. Now I just need to figure out the when with my pastor, since Advent/Christmas is a very busy time.
Thank you all for your continued prayers, and please understand why I am "signing off" for a while. God Bless.
I predict that a new bishop will be named for the Wichita Diocese tomorrow, Tuesday, November 30, 2004, the Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle -- OR -- in late January of 2008, when, it just so happens, Fr. Tharp will have turned 35 years of age. And wouldn't it be ironic and spooky if I was correct on both accounts? We won't know for sure until January of 2008 passes...
Sunday, November 28, 2004
Yes, I am using a term that I normally don't like to use, usually because it is a misnomer for the real thing it attempts to describe. In other words, Christian Fellowship is not the same as Christian Worship, but many people mistake it for that. However, Christian Fellowship is such an excellent thing.
I just finished my monthly meeting with my Third Order Dominican Chapter. That's right; I am a Domini-can, not a Domini-can't. Anyway, I love that time I share with those people. We are all hungry to not only know the content of the Faith, but also we hunger to find ways to apply and to enrich the Truths of the Faith, so that we can know God and not just know stuff about Him. Our meeting was a time of prayer, study, and we stood around and laughed. They would be surprised to know this but I think I get more out of it than I put into it. As a pastor, much of my time is spent with people who seem not overly interested in their Faith. They appear to be going through the motions. To spend time with people who are interested (they actually read books of good quality) restores my soul and gives me some hope to continue on. They also help me "keep it real."
Christian Fellowship therefore is of good benefit to us all. I know this is random thoughts moment but I think you know where I am going with this.
Saturday, November 27, 2004
I was saddened when I read about this. I know how time absorbing a blog is going to be if you are dedicated to doing the job right. There is the surfing for news; there is the reading of other blogs; there is the careful thinking through of what you want to say or express -- in an effort to maximize clarity. And then, not to mention the full time job one holds down to pay the bills. Add in family and social needs and the time equation begins to be REALLY out of whack.
So, I recommend to all the readers here to remember Mr. Shea in your prayers. Writing a book is sedentary but not simple. I can attest, based on about five hours of sitting and watching / listening to him work on this latest book, that he is not going half way. This book will be involved and lovely, akin to other works of his, and I am anxious to see it in print. As the famous martinet, Phillip Littleton Gel said of the great lexicographer, James A.H. Murray, of Oxford English Dictionary fame, "You are most welcome to visit any time you wish, but quiet please if the old man sits with furrowed brow." If you read this, Mark, work diligently, and we hope to hear from you soon. And I will see you, possibly during your visit to Ponca City, if it is kosher with the pastor.
Friday, November 26, 2004
I don't know if this has been announced yet at the parish in Ponca City, Oklahoma, but Mark Shea will be coming to give several talks at the Parish Lenten Mission in February. I hope I haven't spoiled a surprise for Ponca Citians, but I know several parishioners there who will be skipping around with delight when they hear of this!
I have had a wonderfully quiet day. It began with Holy Mass. At the end of Mass, I exposed the Blessed Sacrament for Adoration. This evening I will give Benediction. Other than one appointment, I have just quietly done some projects around the rectory. Mostly I have been hanging pictures and cleaning up my office. So, I have largely been minding my own business all day. Just a few minutes ago I looked out the window and saw that the neighbors across the street from my front door are, as I type, turning their front yard into a winter wonderland. I suppose I should give them some points for at least having a large Nativity scene in the yard. However, that darn, obnoxiously large, inflatable snowman makes me want to vomit. Or, hey, I just bought some sewing needles to fix a few buttons on my cassock (No! It is totally unrelated to stuffing myself at Thanksgiving.), maybe I could "fix" Frosty?!
Thursday, November 25, 2004
We here at Catholic Ragemonkey have regained consciousness just long enough from our Thanksgiving Dinner-induced coma to wish each of you and your families a joyous and relaxing holiday. May this day of thanks have at its center God Who is the Creator of every good gift and the Creator of the family of mankind!
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
Yesterday I received in the mail what appeared to be a formal invitation of some sort. My name on the envelope had clearly been printed by a computer with that mass mailing zip code line composed of vertical dashes. That looked odd, considering the tell-tale paper stock that screamed "formal invitation." It had a return address in Atlanta, Georgia. Hhhmm, I thought, I don't know anyone in Georgia who would be getting married.
I opened up the envelope and pulled out the contents, which only confirmed my original suspicion that I had received an invitation. Inside was a tri-folded card with a rough-torn edge on one end of the flap. Yep, I thought, that fancy, shmancy card stock, someone is getting married. This is what I read when I opened the folds of the card:
I'll spare you the rest of the card, except that I will admit that I thought the very bottom line, "Reception to follow immediately," was clever.
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
Sunday, November 21, 2004
Ah, the Solemnity of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe! Today I preached that if we are authentic disciples of Christ, that is, authentic subjects of the King, then his reign must extend into all aspects of our lives. He is King of my public and my private life. He is King of my moral choices. He is King of my free time and what I do with it. He is King of what I do for entertainment. He is King of relationships (between parents, children, siblings, boyfriend and girlfriend, husband and wife). He is King of my work and my work place. He is King of my skills and talents. He is King of my thoughts, words, and actions. We cannot have a divided kingdom; we cannot swear allegiance to several kings.
To demonstrate how all-encompassing is Christ's reign I used the image of an athlete. An athlete, if he is truly dedicated to his sport, knows that he is always in training. He is not just an athlete when he is on the field or just when he is playing the game, but also off the field. The fact that he is an athlete informs how he trains, how he exercises, the choices he makes about how to spend his free time, how much sleep to get, and even what to eat. I suggested that we, too, running the race of faith, must understand that the fact we are subjects of Christ the King must inform every aspect of our lives, not just in the church, but outside as well, "off the field" as it were.
And then I raised an unlikely homily image. I recalled as a young boy watching Saturday Night Live (this was probably the very late 1970's). There was a parody of a Wheaties commercial. A very unathletic-looking John Belushi was shown as an athlete in training and winning his competition (running through the finish line tape, arms raised in victory). "What is your secret?" a reporter asked this victorious athlete. Belushi's breakfast of champions? Little chocolate doughnuts! Do you remember that parody? It was hysterical, even for a young boy at the time.
Little chocolate doughnuts are no more the breakfast of champions, than a compartmentalized, divided faith, lived only in the church walls, is the faith of champions destined for salvation!
On Friday, Fr. Tharp descended upon Oklahoma City from the north to take Mark Shea to the airport. I ascended to the city from the south, passing through on my way from my priest support group meeting back to my parish. Fr. Tharp had called me the evening before and said he felt like a substantial lunch and suggested a couple of options in OKC. One option he suggested was a little French Bistro. Considering that only the evening before, on November 18th, this year's cash of Beaujolais nouveau wines arrived, I told him we needed to go there for some of the wine. He, of course, agreed.
We met up at the bistro and each ordered one of the day's specials, being drawn by the "fish" options since it was a Friday. I chose a sauteed shrimp with mushrooms served over a puff pastry with asparagus and potatoes. Fr. Tharp, for his substantial lunch, chose the red snapper with corn and cheese, served as an open-faced sandwich on toast. My plate arrived. The puff pastry, sauteed shrimp, and mushrooms were built up at the plate's center. A lovely sauce was delicately poured on and around the edges of the shrimp and pastry creation. On one side were a few potatoes (ridiculously small, potato "caps," as only gourmet chefs can do) and on the other, two spears of asparagus with a thin ribbon of carrot wrapped around them. It looked wonderful. Then, Fr. Tharp's plate was set before him.
It was as if the chef was trying to make a point to Fr. Tharp: "Come into my bistro, will you, and order an open-faced sandwich? Then, take this!" Fr. Tharp looked at his plate. I, too, looked on, seeing what I myself had almost ordered. Fr. Tharp's substantial lunch fit literally onto one piece of toast! A quick topographical study of the piece of toast would not have suggested much red snapper, much corn or much cheese. There it was: one piece of toast, barely weighed down by some obnoxious bistro topping, occupying the center of an oversized, white plate, surrounded by sprinkles of something like fresh chopped parsley. And NOTHING ELSE! That was it!
We both looked at his plate and tried to hide the fact that we were stunned. Fr. Tharp finally broke the silence: "Well, this is wholly uninspiring." I couldn't resist. After a few minutes of eating our respective lunches, I asked him, "So, how is your red snapper, corn, and cheese POP TART!?" Thank God for the Beaujolais nouveau!
Okay, I admit that I really don't know what to do when I go into Starbucks. I lived in Italy and became accustomed to the standard coffee drinks. However, here in the States, the basic Italian coffee genius has morphed into something altogether different and typically American (read: out of proportion). It is not good enough to have the standard coffee drinks, but one must also have flavored syrups; ENORMOUS, personal irrigation system-sized cups (with annoying lids that ruin the experience of the frothed milk), and drink ideas that mimic the taste of seasonal favorites (pumpkin, gingerbread, and eggnog, all done like a latte)! I am simply overwhelmed when I go into Starbucks, such that I don't know what to say. Fr. Tharp likes to go and so we can often be found in a Starbucks in Oklahoma City. Last Friday we went to one and I just abstained from ordering coffee -- I didn't have the energy to devote to deciphering the drink menu, which is something like a modern day Da Vinci Code.
But I was overwhelmed doubly that particular day. As Fr. Tharp and I sat there (he: enjoying his coffee; I: enjoying people watching) we both took notice of one particular man as he entered the coffee matrix. Fr. Tharp and I looked at one another and simultaneously mouthed the words: "I know him." It was an amazing and overwhelming blast from the past! There before us was a man we both knew from our early college days at the University of Oklahoma (OU). It was a guy named Marshall. Fr. Tharp (who was at OU for two years) got to know him through a philosophy class and through the residence hall. Fr. Tharp was involved in the residence hall council and disciplinary board and Marshall was a residence director. I got to know Marshall during my one year at OU because of the residence hall and then as fellow Housing Representatives on the University of Oklahoma Student Congress. We were both freshmen Congressmen at the same time. As newcomers to that illustrious body, we would also sit near one another during Congress meetings -- I suppose it was the old "safety in numbers" routine. There was much to adapt to on Congress, not the least of which was Robert's Rules of Order -- the precise parliamentary procedure that guided every action of the Congress. I recall the many times in those early days being confused by the procedures and having to raise my hand with a "point of order" -- when needing an explanation of what we were doing and how to properly accomplish interjecting my own debate or amendments to pending legislation.
Marshall and I last saw each other at the end of freshman year. During that summer I decided to transfer to seminary and so I mailed a letter of resignation to the Congress and didn't return to the campus. After speaking with Marshall for several minutes, we parted company again. As Fr. Tharp and I drove away, I just kept repeating: "I can't believe it. Marshall. Wow!"
Motion to adjourn this post.
Any objections? None.
The motion passes. Post adjourned.
Preliminary video analysis reports are just now coming in regarding the earlier posted video of someone dressed as a priest imitating a monkey. Most everyone seems to agree that the video is funny and entertaining. However, there seems to be some confusion about just who is who in the video. Some think I am the monkey imitator; others think Fr. Tharp. So we sent the video off to be studied. Folks, it appears that it is actually Tom Hanks who is dressed like a priest and acting like a monkey. I guess the big screen just wasn't good enough for him!
Saturday, November 20, 2004
My friend Fr. Jim Tucker, of Dappled Things, has an interesting post on rectory living. Check out his hysterical and accurate (!) description of what living in a rectory is like. I would add to his description some characteristics of rectories that perhaps are more common in my diocese than in Fr. Tucker's: (1) they are often not the large mansions seen in areas where Catholicism is well-established with a long history but rather old, poorly kept, and often poorly and cheaply designed houses whose only goal in building seems to have been to spend as little money as possible; and (2) they are museums, if you will, to decorating trends at least four decades in the past.
Friday, November 19, 2004
Well, I just got home from the hospital, and I guess I am doing as well as can be expected considering that I had half of my thyroid removed yesterday. I am very sore in the throat and the back of the neck and head. I am also running a small fever. I have been told that all of this is normal for this kind of operation. My doctor said that all went well, and while he does not have the official pathology report, he thinks it was all contained, meaning benign. I'll keep you all posted. Now I am looking forward to making my room cold, sleeping in my chair, and reading my Ultimate Spiderman comics. Thanks for the continued prayers.
Thursday, November 18, 2004
A fascinating spin through a favorite movie of mine, which having not seen it in many moons, demands a re-visit. Go to the article to fill in the blanks. Thanks to Mark Shea for the link.
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
I got home this evening after carrying the great man all over the western peninsula that is the Oklahoma panhandle. I am going to strap on my heating pad, (ahhh!), and fire up the kettle for some chamomile tea (mmmmm!), and think about what to serve for dinner tomorrow. It's not that I am competing with Fr. H in the food world because he would easily win. After all, living for five years in Rome versus my five years in Philly means he knows how to set it up and I know where, how, and when to eat it up. Maybe some ribeyes since the trip here has been mysteriously beef-free...
And then, tomorrow, the hilarity continues as Mr. Shea arrives to wow my people with why believing in the Real Presence is a really good idea. I can't wait to dance around my office.
P.S. to Dave: My sincere apologies for not calling sooner. I left you hanging and I am sorry. Shelly and you hopefully got up to Enid tonight for some action-packed catechesis.
Monday, November 15, 2004
Well, kids, I can't begin to express my pleasure and joy at how the Mark Shea World Tour (through Northwest Oklahoma) is going. I was a little concerned at the turnout in Enid; it was a mite skimpy at 50. But fellow Ragemonkey, Fr. H, came through handily with a whomping 175 folks coming out. The event was a draw across both county and state borders, i.e. Kansas, New Mexico, Texas (well, I think Texas showed up). Clearly, the media blitz in advance worked well. Hehehehehehehe. I can hope that numbers will continue to rise at Enid, will be respectable at my home base, and will be strong at Woodward. What pleases me most is the constant comment I get from folks at these presentations which is "I really need to get to know my faith better." For that alone, given how much grief my back gives me after hours in car, I am willing to sacrifice my back.
As I was at the hospital doing the pre-admission blood test, before surgery on Thursday, I noticed something that at first made me stop and say to myself, "Say What?" and then I just started laughing. As I was looking at the back of my NJ Driver's License (which I need to have changed to my new address) I noticed the codes for the various types of "Endorsements" which you can have on your basic Driver's License. There was the expected, "Moped," "Hazardous Material Carrier," "Motorcycle," "Passenger Vehicle" (old chauffer one), and of course "Double/Triple Trailor" endorsement. The one that gave me pause was the fourth one down (not in alphabetical order, and before Passenger Vechile and Double/Triple Trailor) was Tank. Yep, you heard me right -- TANK!
Now, besides the military, where would I go to get my qualification to drive a tank? I think when I go to have my address changed I am going to ask the folks at the DMV where I can take my tank driving lesson. I have never seen a tank on the Garden State Parkway or the New Jersey Turnpike (though just a week ago a tractor-trailor jack-knifed killing most of its load of sheep. Of course the cook served us lamb chops the next night; I guess she got a good deal). At first I wondered, again outside the military, what use there might be for having your Tank Driver's License? One of the secretaries in the office suggested that it might be useful for "picking up women," you know, instead of "So, what's your sign?" Of course as a priest I am not interested in "picking up women" and I give no credence to astrology.
But then it came to me. A tank would be great to have when someone parks in the space clearly marked "Clergy Parking Only". It would be bad enough if they were parishioners on their way to Mass, but often it is a person who does not want to pay the parking meters, and since St. James is on the main street in downtown Red Bank, they help themselves to our limited parking while they go shopping and dining. Notes on windshields seems to have little to no effect, but parking my TANK on their Porsche would probably get their attention. It would also be great in the snow for getting to the hospital in the dead of night to "anoint" a person who has been in the hospital all day and has now died (we keep trying to teach the hospital staff to call us BEFORE the person dies, but. . . patience is a virtue).
Ummm, a tank. . . maybe I'll take my name off the Prius waiting list, and get myself my Tank Endorsement. As long as I can find a place to learn to drive it responsibly.
Keep Smiling! :-)
Saturday, November 13, 2004
I am worried. Mark Shea is on his way to Oklahoma. But there is a major heavy snow warning in effect for tonight, Sunday, and Monday here in Guymon. I really don't need Mother Nature to mess up this plan that I have so heavily promoted. As of this post there is no snow yet, but there is moisture in the air and the weathermen are unanimous in their predictions of snow. May it pass us by!
Yesterday afternoon I had the unique pleasure of re-marrying (civilly speaking) one of my parishioners and her non-Catholic spouse. They had divorced a few years ago, but neither pursued an annulment or other relationships. They eventually began speaking about their break-up and how they just "drifted apart," and realized that they really didn't have good cause to just give up on marriage. Another part of the equation was the woman's visit to the Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament and the impact that had on her faith. Her husband is currently taking RCIA, though he may not enter the Church, because one difficulty in their previous relationship was the failure to understand one another's religion (he is Pentecostal).
In my homily I made reference to the fact that the marriage never ended in God's eyes and that we were merely gathered to re-contract marriage in the eyes of the state. It was the most religious civil service ever! God bless them!
In other words, as my fingers dance across the smooth plastic ballroom floor of my keyboard, Mr. Mark Shea is headed to Oklahoma for the whirlwind tour of the Northwest. He was last here in Norman and thought he could see so much of the sky there. Wait until he sees the Northwest, filled with majestic barren hills and varient terrain of all stripes. If you are in the area, stop in and visit one or more of his talks. You can find more information on his website located here. I wonder where to take him for dinner?
Friday, November 12, 2004
Thursday, November 11, 2004
As Fr. Tharp already reported (via blogging while on retreat -- don't even get me started on the notion of THAT!) our retreat was good and we were pleased with the retreat director, Bishop Blase Cupich of Rapid City, South Dakota. It could have been more prayerful and quiet, but it was good all in all.
For the second year in a row I became sick while on retreat in Wichita. This happened last year around this time of year and at the same retreat house. It is another allergy related sinus infection that is quickly becoming bronchitis. Allergies are hell!
To get to the retreat I drove (the 2 1/2 hours) to Fr. Tharp's parish last Sunday night. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner that night, cooked by Fr. Tharp, which was highlighted by a wonderful rib eye steak topped with freshly made bearnaise sauce. I spent the night at the rectory and then Fr. Tharp drove the remaining 2 1/2 hours to Wichita. Fr. Tharp's suggestion that I come to his parish to enjoy some visiting, letting him, then, drive the remainder of the journey was a brilliant idea, a sign of his fraternal charity, and much, much fun. It took a significant burden off of me and, let's face it, we don't often get much time to simply visit and spend time together. However, in this age of heightened security, we realized that such trips may not be wise in the future. We have to take a lesson from Secret Service 101: Extreme caution must be had when BOTH the President and Vice President are in one place together. You could stand to have a significant disaster where both are "taken out." So, with both of us in the same car there was a higher chance that we might both be incapacitated. We won't let it happen in the future.
So, today, at the retreat's end we repeated the journey back to Fr. Tharp's parish (this time minus the night stay over and the bearnaise sauce!). Once in Alva, I stayed around for a few minutes and then got into my car to finish the journey. As I was a few minutes outside of Alva, a saw a Bald Eagle take off from some low valley. It was awesome! I had such a great view of this beautiful bird and I couldn't believe what my eyes were seeing -- I had no idea Bald Eagles existed in that part of the state.
So, now I am home. Tomorrow is the first installment of Eucharistic Adoration on all Fridays (previously we did it only on First Fridays) for this Year of the Holy Eucharist. I am excited about that. I will have to tie up some loose ends tomorrow from having been away this week. I have the joy of remarrying a divorced couple (who never had their marriage annulled and never pursued other marriages) -- certainly a rather rare event. Yes, by the way, this act is only necessary to re-establish marriage between them in the eyes of the state -- in the eyes of the Church they never ceased being married. Also, I need to get ready for the weekend and the impending visit of Mark Shea! It will be a busy and wonderful next few days.
Not that I am trying to be morbid, nor is this a cheap attempt to getting greetings, but as I celebrate my 40th birthday today I am struck by the fact that, statistically, I have most likely lived half of my life. It has given me a chance to look back over my life to see what I have accomplished. I first noticed that most of my first 40 years has been spent as a student -- first of psychology, and then theology. I certainly do not see this as a bad thing, for it has hopefully given me the tools to minister more effectively to God's people. I have also looked back at my career as a psychologist, wondering if I made a difference in my clients' lives. There are a few that I am confident have made significant life changes, for the better (mostly substance abusers), which I have had the priviledge to assist. Others however, I question if I really was able to help them.
Now I am a priest (6 months on November 15) and I pray that God will use me so that people will draw closer to Him. I hope that I will assist them in weeding out the vice in their life so that they can nurture virtue. I think I will be more aware of how I touch people's lives as a priest because I will be more stable in their lives. One advantage to being in a geographically compact diocese is that even if I am moved to the other side of the diocese I will only be about an hour from my first parish, St. James. In fact I still hear from people from the parishes where I ministered as a deacon. One of the things that I do here at St. James is once a month I go read a story to the pre-schoolers. I will probably still be at St. James when some of them make their First Holy Communion. I think it will be neat to officiate, years from now, at some of these children's weddings.
But being 40 also makes me look at the time ahead. While it will certainly be exciting, filled with new challenges as a priest, it will also be a time of feeling like I am getting older. That more of life (earthly that is) is behind me than infront of me. Already I am feeling the physical effects of aging; I am already starting to count the number of pills I have to take each day. Some of this is also a reaction to some news I received recently. I mentioned in a previous post that I have been having some problems with my thyroid, well my doctor told me last week that I have two tumors which they need to remove. He cannot tell if it is cancer or not until they are removed, and while he said the odds are that they are not cancerous, and that even if it is, thyroid cancer is one of the most treatable forms of cancer there is, it is still a bit scary to hear, "you might have cancer." I go in for the surgery on November 18, so I will probably not be posting on CRM for a while as I recover. Of course I am leaving it all in God's hands, but prayers are appreciated. Peace.
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
In an effort to preemptively intercept Fr. Hamilton's efforts at mocking me, I am posting from our diocesan priests' retreat being conducted at the Spiritual Life Center in Wichita, KS. The retreat master is His Excellency, Bishop Blaise Cupich (say it like "soup" and "itch") and is quite good. We are taking emblematic moments from the Gospel of Luke to help strengthen our resolve to live the priestly vocation we have received from Christ.
Of course, the good bishop mentioned that there is always the danger of going backward in the spiritual life. For me, this weekend is meant to be an advance in the spiritual life. I won't comment exactly on Fr. H's movements other than suggest that he has taken the word "retreat" a little too literally. Perhaps a few prayers could be spared?
Also, did I mention how excited I am about the impending appearance of Mark Shea in Oklahoma? Catholics who enjoy their Catholicism encounter Priests who impersonate monkeys and apes and rage. The results will be HIJINKS galore. Where did I leave my digital camera...?
Sunday, November 07, 2004
Here are more tasteful, brilliant members of the blogosphere who link CRM to their end of the internet or at least should:
Who does? Frankinasense and Mirth for one. If you say it out loud, you will get the joke. They are recent married and cute as a button. Hurray for one more Catholic family out there!
Who should? moniales OP are a good start. These are a group of cloistered Dominican nuns from Summit, NJ. As I am a third order Dominican I think it goes without saying that they should link us, like, yesterday. Actually, the fine sisters have better things to do, like, I don't know, pray for my conversion?
As for good ideas, I am still missing links all over the place. So I propose a little game. You search, you see someone who links CRM but we DON'T have linked, you leave a comment here. Then the person with the most points gets a prize and my undying thanks.
Saturday, November 06, 2004
I received this e-mail response from a member of the Ministerial Alliance. He seems to agree with my suggestion of the use of the Apostles' Creed for the "Faith Statement" of the alliance. He also attached his draft of a "Purpose Statement." First below is his e-mail to me and the the whole group and secondly is his "Purpose Statement."
And now the draft of the "Purpose Statement." I would especially like to read your comments on this proposal. So fill up that comment box!
Brothers and sisters in Christ,
Thank you, Stephen [sic], for your contribution toward a Faith Statement. I would agree that The Apostles' Creed is an essential expression of who we are as Christians. I think we are needing some statement that expresses the unique character of what God is doing in our midst here and now. I'm not sure how to include both those important elements. It may be that the Apostles' Creed can serve as a"Faith Statement" or at least as a foundation for a"Faith Statement" with a "Purpose Statement" expressing the unique call we are living out through the Ministerial Alliance. With that possibility in mind, I have attached a draft of a "Purpose Statement" for everyone to consider. Please understand it is a draft and I welcome any modifications that you think would help complete the statement. Please share your thoughts on all that has been discussed so far - Stephen's [sic] contributions and mine - and make contributions of your own - so we can move toward statements that clarify for clergy, church members and the general public about who we are as CCMA [Cimarron County Ministerial Alliance].
Your brother in Christ,
Cimarron County Ministerial Alliance
The purpose of the Cimarron County Ministerial Alliance is to Glorify God by seeking the face of God (desire), keeping our eyes upon Jesus Christ (vigilance), and listening to the sound of His voice (obedience).
We Glorify God in this way because apart from Jesus Christ we can do nothing - for Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church and we together are the Body of Christ, with each of our local churches being a member of that body.
By the power of the Holy Spirit we are joined and fitted to Jesus Christ and one another to bear witness, to demonstrate and to serve the reign of God’s Kingdom in every aspect of life in Cimarron County…
…to the end that every person living in or traveling through Cimarron County shall experience the reign of God’s Love, come to a personal, saving relationship with Jesus Christ, and live life as a new creature in a new creation, reconciled to God and to others.
Friday, November 05, 2004
The Mars Rovers are still going and outlasting their expected lifespan. It all comes as a delight to NASA. I, too, am delighted for the exploration and knowledge we may gain from these experiments. As if outlasting expected usefulness were not enough, the news is reporting that the Rovers have also received an unexplained boost in power. NASA surmises that dust, which may have settled on the Rover solar panels, thus inhibiting optimum absorption of solar energy, has somehow been "wiped" off the panels. Hmmmmm. How could this be?
Here is my explanation for NASA: This + this = Clean rover panels!
Dear Friends in Christ,
I appreciate being included in the Ministerial Alliance e-mailings. I do read the minutes and other mailings and I will try to offer my thoughts on subjects that arise, even though from afar. I trust everyone understands that my attendance at the meetings is not normally possible since my residence is Guymon. My inability to attend, however, should not be confused with lack of interest.
"It was suggested that we draft a “Faith Statement” that would include those things of the Christian faith that are not to be compromised. ... It was agreed to e-mail to one another our thoughts of what could be included in these statements and then we would work to draft statements at our next meeting in December."
I seem to recall, that when Specter was running for re-election, there was some hue and cry to get this guy out. This new report suggests to me something of the why. Courtesy of LifeNews:
Senator Tells President Bush Not to Appoint Pro-Life Judges to
Supreme Court Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) -- Less than 24 hours
after President Bush thanked the American people for supporting his re-election
bid, a leading pro-abortion Senate Republican told the president not to send up
nominations of judges who are pro-life on abortion. Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen
Specter (R), fresh from his own re-election success Tuesday, is slated to be the
chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee when Congress begins its next session
in January. Late Tuesday, Specter warned Bush against nominating strong pro-life
advocates to succeed any retiring justices on the U.S. Supreme Court. "When you
talk about judges who would change the right of a woman to choose, overturn Roe
v. Wade, I think that is unlikely," they would be approved, Specter told
reporters. "The president is well aware of what happened, when a bunch of his
nominees were sent up, with the filibuster," Specter said. However pro-life
groups and leading pro-life lawmakers in the Senate are encouraged by Tuesday's
results -- which produced two new pro-life senators and additional votes for
Bush's judicial nominees. That gives the president a better chance of stopping
such filibusters. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist noted those changes when he
said, "I'm very confident that now we've gone from 51 seats to 55 seats, we will
be able to overturn this what has become customary filibuster of judicial
nominees." Read the complete story.
Thursday, November 04, 2004
I have finally gotten to do some much needed blog maintence in reference to our linking partners. Check out these new links:
The Butterfly Blog
The Blog in the Fog
Gen X Revert
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam
Nosce Te Ipsum
Now, if the other bloggers here would cover removing the links that don't work...
The Ministerial Alliance is a group of local pastors from various churches that meet on a monthly basis to coordinate efforts among the churches in the local community. As you know, I have a mission church one hour away from where I reside. Therefore, I don't ever make it to the Ministerial Alliance meetings at that city. However, the alliance does include me in their e-mails so that I can observe, from afar, what is going on at their meetings. I got a kick out of the minutes from the last meeting. Check out this excerpt:
The group discussed the need for involving more clergy in the county in the Ministerial Alliance. It was suggested that we draft a “Faith Statement” that would include those things of the Christian faith that are not to be compromised. This would help clarify what unites us in the Alliance. Developing a "Purpose Statement" would help communicate the direction we are seeking to live out through our association.
"Faith Statement" explaining which elements of the Christian faith are not to be compromised? I love it! I have this to say to the members of the alliance: Folks, talk til you are blue in the face and cast stones our way -- but you have now discovered the value of a creed. It's not such an evil man-made tradition afterall, huh? Congratulations on your discovery! Nothing is new under the sun....
I was really disappointed today when I opened a packet mailed to the parish from the regional Christian Radio broadcaster. They were advertising upcoming programming: continuous Christmas Music from December 5-26. Included in the packet were bulletin inserts to advertise this venture. I offer two critiques: (1) I understand that this is hopelessly Catholic, but I am going to say it anyway: Christmas is NOT over on December 26th! If you want to have continuous Christmas music and you are starting so INCREDIBLY EARLY, can you not just let it hang on a few extra days to get us through the octave of Christmas or even Epiphany? But I won't hold that one against them since they aren't Catholic. However, the second critique is an entirely different matter. (2) The bulletin inserts the radio station was kind enough to include do NOT have EVEN ONE sacred image on them. There are snowflakes, an elf, and Mr. & Mrs. Snowman, but not one image of the Nativity, not one reference to Christ .... aaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Not even the Christian radio station gets it! They have sold out. I suppose I should calm down long enough to assume that they avoided religious images in order to try to bring in other listeners, who might hear some other faith message on the radio and eventually be converted. But then I think, wait a minute, these inserts are for use in churches where we can assume -- I hope -- a belief in Christ and that he is the true focus of the season. So, I am right back to screaming again, knocking over cereal boxes in the grocery store aisle and throwing cartons of eggs in a desperate attempt to get people to WAKE UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
In Alva, the local newspaper, on Fridays, runs a Christian devotional article. Each of the local ministers are invited to write a brief piece. I have written a couple of others and trying to be Catholic and wiley, I use Catholic images to start from and hopefully borrow into folks' ignorance in the process. This is the one that will run this week.
A bone of contention between Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox Christians
is the matter of the canon of the Sacred Scripture. Two books that appears in
Catholic and Orthodox canons but not in Protestant canons are First and Second
Maccabees. Without getting into the issue of canonicity, something occurred to
me as I was preparing my homily for this weekend which in part will come from
First and Second Maccabees treats the time period after the Exile in
Babylon but before the time of Jesus. The people of Israel have returned to the
Promised Land but after so many different foreign powers have trooped through,
the place is a real fixer-upper. Furthermore, the people don’t have a king; they
have a governor or administrator appointed by whichever foreign nation is in
power this month. Things are bleak, to say the very least. Second Maccabees
deals with the time when Greeks begin their eastward conquest.
The Old Testament is full of repeated themes. The people repeat the
same error over and over again, thinking, perhaps, that this time it will
actually work. It’s a form of spiritual madness. In this case, the people want
to be like all the other peoples the Greeks have conquered. Anyone familiar with
Old Testament history recognizes this posture. In the Exodus, it was expressed
as a desire to "go back" to Egypt, the place of slavery. In the time of the
Judges it was expressed as a desire to have a king to rule them. So, this latest
unfaithfulness comes as no surprise.
The people abandon God’s covenant yet again. They cover over the sign
of the covenant and begin to practice the ways of Gentiles, worshiping idols and
not observing the customary Jewish laws. At the same time, there is another
refrain that begins to sound in this scene, that of a faithful remnant who
strive to remain faithful. As you can imagine, conflict soon ensues and those
who will not give up the Jewish ways are persecuted, in the hopes of getting
them to "be like everyone else."
In chapter 7 of Second Maccabees, we read the story of the seven
virtuous brothers. Each is compelled to abandon the covenant, and one by one,
they remain steadfast to God’s commands and are killed. Finally their mother is
killed after watching each of her sons being put to death. In the end these
brave people are able to withstand everything thrown against them in the hopes
that God will reward those who persevere with the Resurrection.
Do you believe in anything so firmly that given a choice between
abandoning that belief and death, you would choose death? If we are people who
profess that Jesus Christ is raised from the dead, and those who die in Christ
will rise with Him, then why do we so often set aside our beliefs because of
fear or some other lesser thing?
Charles de Foucault, a Catholic hermit, once made the statement, "Live
each day as though you would die a martyr tomorrow." If we know for what we are
living, each day will not be wasted.
What do you think? Too much?
I have not had a brilliant thought all day long. I have been too giddy with the election, for reasons that should be obvious to anyone who has read this blog more than once. But there are some unspoken things that make me giddy, but I can't promise brilliance. I can't even promise cogency, so you have been warned. Buckle up, it's going to be a bumpy ride through my frontal cortex.
First, while I think John Kerry and John Edwards prove the theory of evolution, given that they are the first two weasels who have learned how to walk up right, I must applaud Mr. Kerry for his ability to read the writing on the wall. His electoral vote was counted and found wanting. So, good for him for not acting like a certain wooden weenie whom shall remain nameless.
Second, any time we have a "transfer" of power I am amazed at the foresight of the Constitutional Framers. In other parts of the world, regime change and political stability come at the point of a rifle. And yet, election after election, despite irregularities and weird practices, the thing more or less works. Kudos to my fellow Americans.
Third, I am fascinated by the news reporters who are, apparently, a little surprised that disaffected teens didn't vote in droves. Ah...duh! It requires information to form an opinion or position. These kids, in my personal estimation, don't spend a lot of time thinking because the T.V. is blanking out their higher cognitive functions, and therefore don't get much in the way of information. When someone stands for or against something, this is what gets people out to vote. Ergo, no thought leads to no opinions leads to no voter turnout. And for those who have heard this diatribe before, to all those celebrities who thought that their celebrity mattered one iota, I told them so!
Fourth, speaking of fascination, the central issues of this election were moral issues and the war in Iraq/war on terrorism. I agree with Mark Shea that this means only one thing. The door of people's minds and hearts are beginning to open to the Gospel. I mean, in 11 out of 11 states, the ban on homosexual marriages went through, usually in a two-to-one margin. Even the very liberal Oregon passed the ban in spite of all the bucks that went into trying to defeat the ban. But I have to present one caveat. It goes back to my comments upon natural law. We need to learn how to do two things when confronting the culture around us: 1.) learn to take it one step at a time and 2.) learn to craft the argument so that it makes sense to the speaker. At the same time, Mr. Bush does need to make more clear when and how he intends to "wage war" against a terrorist collaborating country.
Fifth, the electoral college must go. This cock-and-bull story that gets thrown about that this helps small states weight their votes better is well, bull. We almost had a major electoral problem because two or three very large states could easily swing the election.
Sixth, tommorrow the work begins anew. Come on, people. Did you think that just because GWB et alia won that you could give up the fight for our culture? Yes, we have even a better chance soon and very soon to overturn Roe v. Wade and lead others to respect human life, from natural conception to natural birth. But the day that RvW is overturned means thousands of hearts and minds will ask, "What am I to do with my sexuality so that it will lead to authentic happiness?" And that is where we must step in.
Seventh, this is for Oklahomans only. I didn't vote for the lottery. I don't have a problem with gambling but giving more money, for even a vaunted goal like improving education, to a bunch of chuckle heads who don't prioritize education is GPS. So when it doesn't pan out, just remember who gloated that he was right not to vote for it.
UPDATE: I just received an angry email from a group of weasels who didn't appreciate my reference to Senator Kerry above. Fine. I didn't mean "weasels": I meant "minks." Happy now?
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
I was over at Fr. Johansen's blog where I read a post about how some commentor had insinuated that Father's activities might lead to the diocese of Kalamazoo losing their tax-free status.
The following message goes out to all those who would threaten the Church with the loss of her tax free status for having the temerity to correct a member of her own flock. The Church has faced a lot of enemies in her history: plague, famine, persecution without (The Romans, The Huns, the Communists, the Nazis, to name a few), and persecution within (laxity, heresy, schism, self-righteousness). She will face a lot more. But even after these assualts, the Church remains and all those other things have fertilzed the dust heap of history. When compared with Attila the Hun, the IRS is a bunch of weenies.
If compromising the essential work of the Church is the price of not having to pay property and sales taxes, I say, you can have the exempt status back. The price is too high if I can't call the society's obcession with abortion and euthanasia evil, regardless of the candidate. It isn't worth the exchange if I can't call dehumanizing work conditions and policies of taxation that are hostile to families wrong.
In the end though, I don't worry about losing the tax exemption. After all, if there was any sort of worry about overt campaigning leading to the loss of exemption, then, in theory, none of the Protestant churches where Kerry spoke and campaigned should have had Kerry come and speak. I don't agree with who showed up or what he said, but if that doesn't qualify as overt campaigning for a particular figure, what does?!
The exemption status, like all good things, has become a tool of the Deceiver. It's his subtle way of saying, "You Christians aren't welcome in the public square. This is my domain." Well, sorry to break this to you, Bucky, but government is created to serve the public good. The ultimate source and end of all goods is God himself, and therefore, it leads me to conclude that it is you, Deceiver, Murderer, and Father of Lies, who have no place in the public square.
and no tengo una particula de verguenza! I received this very hot link to the Inside the Vatican article which features Fr. Hamilton's brilliant defense of voting with Catholic principles. It is a skosh irritating that he got published before I did, but what can I say? It was an idea whose time had come.
Last night, Fr. Hamilton and I had a marathon bull session about the issues and for whom we are going to vote. Well, mission accomplished. I voted today and feel great because this was the first time I felt really ready to vote and knew why I was voting for and against. We had a small litany of state questions that needed some thinking through, although some of my responses would surprise folks.
One of the great features of Oklahoma politics is accessibility to my representatives and those running for office. Last night, after I got off the phone with Fr. H, I was looking over a letter from the gentleman running against the incumbent in my district. At the bottom of the letter, the gentleman running gave his phone number. So, I decided to call. Initially, I got his answering machine, but like the uber-dork that I am, I forgot to leave my phone number. I call back and this time, I get the guy on the phone. We had a very good conversation for about 20 minutes, before I released him back into the wilds to put up more signs and harass more voters.
As I was driving to my polling place this a.m., I was thinking about funny it would be if this guy won and I could strike up the conversation about several issues that he really hadn't formulated a position on. At the same time, I was reflecting upon Sts. John Fisher and Thomas More. And then the idea hits me. I am going to send a small icon/picture of St. Thomas More to this guy if he wins. I don't think that he is Catholic, but the note will read something like, "Even if you can't appreciate his religious convictions, at least he should inspire you to stand up for what is right, even when other people say you are wrong."
Even if you are sick of the hype and the ads, even if you aren't thrilled with every person running, GET OUT AND VOTE! Take your Catholic Faith firmly in hand and walk into that voting booth. Let the Holy Spirit shape and guide you to do what is best in this situation. All that evil men need to succeed is the silence of the good. As St. Thomas More once wrote, "It is the first crime, and greatest treason, to do the right deed for the wrong reason."
This election day, may all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, Sts. John Fisher and Thomas More, intercede for our country and for us all on this election day. May we and all who find their way to public office do God's Holy Will.
I thought my link to the comic book character, John Garrett the human-cyborg, was amusing and would get some mileage from my co-bloggers (well, more from Fr. Tharp who actually has met me). Oh, well...here is more of the real story of me, as requested by one of our readers.
My parents recently celebrated their 41st wedding anniversary, and have always been pretty active in the church or church groups. Dad has been a Knight of Columbus for over 40 years, and will be Grand Knight for the third time in a year or so, and was one of the first Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion in our parish, still taking Communion to the folks in the hospital. Mom stayed home when we kids were young, but then went to work as a secretary. For a long time she was the office manager for Congressman Christopher Smith (whom we have know since he was a college student), but I think her favorite job was working at the local Catholic cementery (where she met Fr. Hamilton; I don't know why he was at a cementery in NJ). Both of my parents have been very active in the Respect Life movement since Roe v. Wade, and I always knew that my parents prayed together. Mom does more reading about the Faith, and has always prayed for vocations.
I have three sisters, all younger than me, but all close in age. Ann, second after me, is a pediatrician in St. Louis and is married with 4 children. Next is Jennifer who is now a stay at home mom for her two kids, but has a MBA, though now is looking into teaching when the kids are older; she is also married, and they live a mile from my parents. Mary is the youngest, but has my oldest niece (who turns 13 this week). Mary is a kindergarten teacher in NC. All three of my sisters are devout Catholics.
My parents never pushed me or my sisters to consider a vocation in the Church, but they also never discouraged it. They always made it clear that they thought a religious vocation was truly a blessing, and when I first expressed an interest in the priesthood they helped me explore that while also saying that they would be proud of me even if I did not become a priest. That support was a big help. We were always friends with the parish priests, so I had them as role models too.
After completing my Ph.D. and working a year I entered a Religious Order as a novice, but it did not work out. If it was not for the support of my parents, sisters and my brother-in-laws, I might have become very discouraged with the Church. But they prayed me through it, as they did when I decided to give the seminary another shot. This time was challenging too, but I made it by the grace of God. While in the seminary my mother, who has always prayed for vocations decided to join the Serra Club. Actually her club is one of the only all-women Serra Clubs in the world. After a year or so they asked her to be president of that club and she has been for two years now. Last June I had the pleasure of celebrating the Mass in which my mother and her officers were installed for a new term. She just helped plan and run the regional Serra Convention (clubs from NJ, PA, NY, MD, DE). Now they are asking her to be the governor of the local region of Serra Clubs (not the bigger region, just the 5 clubs in the Diocese of Trenton). As she recovers from having her knee scoped she is considering it.
One of the projects that the Vocation Office, in conjunction with the Serra Clubs, is working on is reaching out to parents to get them to support the idea of a Church vocation with their children. Today, parents are the biggest obstacles to vocations because they often discourage it for their children. A priest friend of mine once had a Serran (not from my mother's club) tell him to "stay away" from her grandson when he mentioned that the grandson might have a priestly vocation. Sad.
Please pray for vocations to the priesthood, religious life, and for good Catholic marriages.
Monday, November 01, 2004
Just a little '80s, A-Team, flashback for you there, folks! Normally, Fr. Tharp is the one who reveals his evil scheming to bring about great evangelization -- scheming which causes him to shriek with joy, while rolling around on the floor, kicking his hooves. Well, now it's my turn! If your home seismograph is registering any awkward activity, it is because I have thrown myself on the floor, am rolling around, screaming, and pounding my fists on the ground! Why, you may ask? Because the final stages are rapidly coming into place for another new activity in my parish: a Bible Study of all things!
Yes, that's right, folks, Catholics studying the Bible -- Catholics studying a Catholic book! I have been working with a parishioner who is a university professor, and a former protestant who studied his own way into the Church. He wants to lead a Bible study. We have settled on St. John's Gospel by Stephen Ray, published by Ignatius Press. It looks to be a great program. And the part that really has me convulsing in glee is that this all came together in the Year of the Holy Eucharist. Parishioners will be studying St. John's Gospel, which contains of all things the Bread of Life Discourse! Bwahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Growth in faith!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!! It's all mine, mine, MINE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Oh, sorry. I really got carried away there. Now the only trick left to pull off is to get people to come in herds for this offering!
Please take this post tongue-in-cheek. Many of you may not know what the "Loose-leaf Lectionary" is. It is published by Liturgical Press and it is a lectionary on loose leaf paper, made to fit in a binder. It is mailed to subscribers in installments of a few months at a time. I don't care for the thing myself, but I have inherited it in my parish and the one convenient aspect I will concede is that each day's readings also has the day's date printed at the top of the page. That feature sure can cut down on confusion by the lectors.
Well, today before morning Mass the lector came up to me and told me we needed the next section of the lectionary -- the last entry in our binder was for yesterday, not today's readings. So, I went to the sacristy and found the next installment, took off the plastic wrap it arrived in and tried to fit it into the binder. It wouldn't fit. It seems that previously Liturgical Press printed the loose-leaf lectionary with 19 binder holes down the side; now they print it with only 5 holes. The bottom line is now it won't fit properly in the binder, which we also purchased from Liturgical Press.
So, after Mass I called Liturgical Press to inquire about this oddity. The kind representative I spoke with was well aware of the issue and even pulled the words out of my mouth as I began to describe the situation. She told me that Liturgical Press has been trying to implement this change in format for seven years at -- GET THIS -- the request of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops! I said, "You mean to tell me the bishops requested that you change from a 19 hole format to a 5 hole format?" "Yes, they sure did," the rep responded. I added, "That seems rather odd." Thus ended our conversation.
Folks, of all the things our bishops must worry about in their own dioceses and across this nation of ours, they requested that the Loose-leaf Lectionary move from 19 hole format to 5 hole format?! I mean is this because these guys are only interested in 19 holes if it is on a golf course?! What nonsense! Let me see... [now, dear readers, please switch to whiny, mocking tone as I mimic an imaginary session of the conference of bishops]
Bishop President: I now acknowledge my venerable brother, Bishop John Doe.
Bishop Doe: Uhm, yes, we have spent much time working on the current translation of the lectionary and we have had a few years of experience of using it in real dioceses and parishes. More and more, we hear how awkward the translation is and how unclear it is when proclaimed publicly.
Bishop President: Yes, Bishop Doe, I think I see where you are going. Are you suggesting that we should have arranged a translation that was actually INTENDED to be publicly proclaimed?
Bishop Doe: Uhm, well, uh, actually no. I am suggesting that we insist that Liturgical Press print the Loose-leaf Lectionary on a 5 hole format instead of the current 19 hole format. Well, you know, in honor of the five wounds of Christ.
Bishop President: Brilliant! I can tell by the response on the general assembly floor that the bishops of this country are in unanimous approval of your suggestion.
[Back to post] If what I was told is actually true, me thinks it is time to disband the conference of bishops so that more important work can be done.
While my Halloween hijinks don't even begin to measure up to what Fr. H is up to, I did have to let you know about a little evil plan of my own. I concocted this in response to a post on Fr. Sibley's blog.
Last night as each trick-or-treater came to the door, I included a little bonus for them. Behind each Snickers fun size bar (by the way, I thought fun would be a lot bigger quite frankly), I held a brown scapular. This way when the munchkins get home, they will have to turn to mommy and daddy and say, "What's this?" Hopefully it will serve as a little reminder to parents who might be half-heartedly practicing the Faith.