Friday, September 30, 2005

Vacation, all I ever wanted, / Vacation, gotta get away.

With Fr. H's return to the blog, I can now safely jump aboard an airplane and head west. Unlike Frodo, from this westerly land, I may return. I am spending 13 days with Dominicans and Vinters and Evangelizers, oh my! I'll be away in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Oh, yes, imagine the pilgrimage to Ignatius Press. Marvel at the tour of St. Joseph's Communications. Tremble at the quantities of wine and seafood I consume.

Remember me in your prayers.

And no, despite all the internet access, no blogging from me while I am away. Have fun.
I'm ba-ack!
You knew it would happen sooner or later. I am still very much trying to get my life organized in a new place, a new house, a new office. It is slow going, but things are going very well in my new parish, even though structural problems with buildings and the money required to repair them plagues me. Oh, well. We'll pull through.

I do have to make a brief post here in response to Fr. Tharp's "In Persona Krusty" post. First of all, he and I spoke on the matter of his post before he posted and we have since discussed it further. Obviously, he and I have a difference of opinion about the issue of a priest getting in a dunk tank and partaking of parish carnival activities. I accept his opinion and he accepts mine. While I understand and accept his point about the care a priest must take not to denigrate the dignity of the priesthood, I do think he makes too much of the matter in regard to my activities at the parish carnival, which he was present to witness. To the degree that his point in the post was that (1) a priest shouldn't feel compelled to get in a dunk tank; and, (2) the priest ought to be "liked" for much more important and ministerial reasons, and not because "he's just like everybody else," then I agree with his post.

However, I am not entirely sure that Fr. Tharp's words necessarily communicated only those points. In particular, I think he made a rather significant assumption when he wrote: "For all of Fr. H's excellent work, for all his training and experience in Rome, for all that Fr. H does to promote and incarnate the Catholic Faith, that his being thrown in a dunk tank and an amazing technocolor hairdo is what makes them "like" Father Hamilton."

I have no reason whatsoever to believe that it was my getting in a dunk tank and having fun at the parish carnival that is what "makes them 'like'" me. In fact, I would have to say that it was quite clear BEFORE the parish carnival that I was being very warmly received in my new parish. I have found nothing but excitement and readiness to welcome a new priest, even among those who regret the absence of my predecessor. If anything, I would say that my participation in the parish carnival was simply an additional factor, among what I hope are many factors, in what helps people come to know me and appreciate me. I would add to support this claim that when I hear comments about how people here appreciate me as their new pastor, not a one of them has offered the dunk tank as evidence. In fact, when people specify what they appreciate it tends to be related to my teaching and involvement in the school and ministerial functions: "He spends time with the school"; "he visited my wife in the nursing home"; "he takes Holy Communion to shut-ins"; "he did such a wonderful job at that funeral and he didn't even know the deceased"; "he showed up at the hospital even though it was a bit of a burden to get there."

These are the things people offer as reasons to appreciate what I have done in my brief time here. I don't think they are at all confused about what they look for in a priest or about the dignity of the priest who incarnates Christ amidst the flock. I agree that a priest must be careful not to pander to hopes that Father be "just like everyone else"; but, I would disagree that parish carnival activities always and everywhere cause such harm. I think it has to be evaluated on a case by case, parish by parish basis. There may be reasons why getting in a dunk tank may not be prudent at Parish X, but I don't find such reasons present in the particular instance of my parish. I had fun and I would do it again, as I have done so at previous parishes. If I sensed something were amiss in another parish, I would have to evaluate that matter more closely.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Laughing at my Mass Kit

When I was ordained to the priesthood, I received a gift that I thought would rarely be dragged out. It was a portable Mass Kit. You can imagine my reasoning. "After all, I don't need it for vacations. And I am not planning on doing too many home Masses (although I could imagine saying Mass in a homebound person's home if needed), so I don't know what this will be good for." Of course, thankfully, God's plans and planning is always better than mine.

I am looking at my Mass Kit as it sits in the hallway. This has been its second excursion from the rectory this week. Each week I say Mass at two prisons: one in Helena and the other here in town. If we were all being honest here, I would tell that I never look forward to loading that case and pulling out some vestments and taking them to a prison to say Mass. The prison officials dig through your things (although I must confess that every guard I have dealt with has been very cordial and professional), then you have to carry everything to the chapel, unload and do all that in reverse when you are done. But whenever I feel crappy and tired on my way there, I rarely feel that way coming back. I never thought I would enjoy working with prisoners as much as I do. I did have to take a little hiatus here and there but I am back to full speed.

I know I have to be careful about giving away too many details but I want you to know what I see when I deal with a prisoner. I see someone who because of one decision different from my own resides behind iron bars and razor wire. I see someone who did not bounce back from sadness or mistreatment the way I might have or you might have. In other words, I see someone who is different than me only by the narrowest of margins.

These prisoners tonight at the local prison are also so hungry for the Truth of the Gospel. One gentleman said to me, "I have been in the system many years and you are the first priest I have seen." I don't doubt it. Going to the prison is unpleasant, in that you deal with people after a series of disastrous life choices. Further, when it comes to the Faith, you can count on a generally low level. It reminds me of working with teenagers -- for many of them they haven't heard the Good News since boyhood. Another gentleman apologized for being late and then added, "I haven't been to Mass since I was 8." I told him the only thing that mattered at this point, "I'm glad you are home." We'll work on confessions next week.

And maybe that's why prison ministry is so hard and so essential. You, who visit the prisoner, are reminding them to look for their true home. The decisions that they thought would lead to happiness led to a prison cell. You and I get the privilege and showing them that true happiness, the following of Christ, loving His Mother and the Church, serving God and neighbor in the perfection of charity, this kind of happiness is available now and is waiting for us in the life to come.
BBR: Mother Angelica: The Remarkable Story of a Nun, Her Nerve and a Network of Miracles

When I was in OKC on Monday, I stopped by the ultra evil Barnes and Noble. It is ultra evil because I can never escape without $50.00 worth of books under arm. So along with my DC Comics graphic novel (that's a comic book to you) and Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies (can you say "addiction" boys and girls? I knew you could), I snapped up a copy of Raymond Arroyo's biography of Mother Angelica.

Now, I must confess that I have some back history with the friars connected to EWTN. Several of the men went to school with me at Saint Charles. Fr. Anthony Stelten is one I am proud to consider my classmate even when he changed seminaries, but that is a WHOLE OTHER story. I have generally thought that a work like EWTN was needed in the Church and while I wasn't a fan of everything on the channel, I thought it was a good idea nonetheless. So when I heard about this biography, it lead me to want to find out more about the foundress. After all, the foundation tells you something of the shape of the future.

To be blunt, I could not put the book down. It was a lively and engaging read throughout. Arroyo's familiarity with Mother's life and story allows him to weave together event and meaning into a seamless quilt of a life. It was very edifying to hear of Mother's hardships, and how with God's grace, she was able to overcome. If I had to criticize the book, it would be on the point that it was a bit too in love with the subject. While Mother would not overlook her own faults, and called strong attention to them, Arroyo would on occasion tend not to get past the surface appearance. A good example of this would be the recounting of the conflicts she had had with Bishop Foley of Birmingham, AL. Looking at the events, you could see how the conflict was really two-sided in a way, but Arroyo's presentation came off, I don't know if intentionally, as though everything was the bishop's fault. But again, it's a minor flaw. It doesn't discredit the book; it is the flaw of a friend telling the story of a friend. We naturally tend to take their side.

On recommending this book to the blog readers, I want you to get from it what I got from it. Mother Angelica's life looks at how suffering and lowliness are not obstacles to the holiness God calls us to. Suffering and lowliness are its seedbed. I found myself encouraged and emboldened to "get back to work!" Maybe this explains why I blogged so much today. I would strongly recommend this book also to anyone who struggles with family of origin issues or self-esteem problems. I could easily see how many things in the book spoke to this.
We have the greatest readers!

I know I don't say it enough, so I am going to say it here. You are all the greatest, you referring to our regular readers and commentators. I look back on all the types of things I have written here for my pleasure and hopefully for your edification and enjoyment. Consistently, even when I come up with something hard or challenging or more often, poorly constructed, the readers are there to parse along. In other words, you guys figured out that you are as much part of the blog as the principal authors. You happily challenge us, you make us re-think how we present and not just what we present. In short, if this blog is a success, it is because you guys take part.

So again, thanks for being here. Thanks for being good enough people that I don't have to patrol the comboxes against nastiness. Thanks for working with Fr. H and myself to promote the Gospel through civilized conversation and controlled outbursts.
In honor of Archangels

For those in the know, today is the Feast of the Holy Archangels, Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. Jewish tradition, I think, says that there are seven, but I don't know names for the others. The big three of today's feasts are major agents in God's plan of salvation. I must admit loving this feast day merely because it demonstrates not only how good creation is (it includes created spirits who are like me) and how much God loves us. The beauty of creation and the wonderous glory of the angels reminds us how much God wants us to be with Him for all eternity. But there is a catch.

The catch is we must say "yes." God will give every help, but we must go along for the ride. To that end, I have linked some thoughts of John da Fiesole at Disputations. I think you find them enlightening. I sure did.
A curious development

I find most interesting the comment from police chief Varon. Does that statement suggest that somehow he knew of a continuing traffic in murdered children. Hmmm... Well, at any rate, it is most sad and distressing. Resquiacat in pace.
Justice Roberts receives Confirmation

No, not that type of confirmation. The senate voted very handily to advance Justice Roberts to the Supreme Court. I do question why he was named as chief justice at the same time, given that he had no experience on the bench, the big bench that is. Any legal scholars out there know if that's happened before where a nominee suddenly moves into the chief chair during the nomination process?

Also, the media now has free rein to begin to speculate who the next nominee will be. The early runners seem to be a set of women about whom I know very little. Keep your ear to the ground, folks. This will be the interesting candidate.
A Point of Clarification

Concerning my last post entitled "In Persona Krusty," I want to make a clarification. That post was not and is not an attack on Fr. H. I have nothing but esteem for him and for his work as a brother priest. I am criticizing whatever it is in our current eccelsiological climate that thinking that putting priests into dunk tanks and other things of the like is appropriate. Furthermore, this is not an attack on the people of Kingfisher. Granted it was there that these thoughts reached the culmination, I have seen this sort of posture presented elsewhere enough that it has been on my mind for years.

On a more practical note, I would like my readers to consider something with me. Let's just say, that for sake of example, I get sent to some parish, St. Wilemina's in Upper Lowerton, OK, where this sort of thing is expected and occurs regularly. The head of the committee comes in and says, "When can I schedule you for the dunk tank, Father?" My response, "I don't participate in things like that." The response back, "Well, Fr. Luetefisk did it. Why don't you?" My reply is "Because I think it is the beneath the dignity of an ordained priest to do such things." Now at this point the argument either ends or it gets heated. But if Fr. Luetefisk hadn't done this, I wouldn't be having this conversation at all. Priests have to be careful with all sorts of novelty in their lives, mainly because when a new pastor shows us, parishioners, rightly or wrongly, assume that they will do the same things. When that happens, it creates tension and confusion unnecessarily.

So there you have it. You can disagree with me, but please stop saying this is some sort of attack on Fr. H. He and I already discussed this in some detail. If he wants, he can tell you about the conversation -- my brain is too low on caffiene to recall.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Open Handed Comes the Gauntlet: In Persona Krusty

Recently, I was privy to Fr. Hamilton's hijinks at his parish's fundraising carnival. Namely, Fr. Hamilton took an extra long turn in the dunk tank to the squeals of delight from child and adult parishioners alike. Then, he permitted himself to have spray-in highlights added to his hair. I believe the colors were electric green, orange, and red. The odor the hair color generated was so foul it made me choke. I am not kidding. It was so bad he had to stand upwind from me.

Initially I was going to post pictures of this event, captured by his school's principal, but I have decided not to. This is not virtuous (if it had been a matter of virtue, it would have gone unmentioned). It is the matter that I erased the inbound email which contained them. Go figure. I was going to post them to force Fr. Hamilton to return to blogging. As he threatened at a recent meeting, "I am not blogging until you post those pictures." Now, I don't have them so I guess his Herod-like demand will return the blog fully to my influence. Ah, the power mongering.

There was another reason I was going to post these pictures. I eavesdropped on the comments made to Fr. H about this little display and needless to say, it left me depressed. For all of Fr. H's excellent work, for all his training and experience in Rome, for all that Fr. H does to promote and incarnate the Catholic Faith, that his being thrown in a dunk tank and an amazing technocolor hairdo is what makes them "like" Father Hamilton.

From what I gathered, people don't want priests who live and hold themselves to the standard of living "in persona Christi." They want guys who model the life "in persona Krusty."

This is why I steer clear from things like that, dunk tanks and such. My constant battle for virtue, and let's be frank, my frequent failures in the battle, give me more than ample opportunity to denigrate my priestly identity without behaving unnecessarily silly. Granted, most people know that humor and outrage form a large piece of my teaching style, but I would like to believe that is only the icebreaker to getting people to understand the idea, rather than any reflection upon me. If I am wrong, then that is a matter for my spiritual director. While it is perfectly acceptable to have fun and jest and the like, a priest must always aim a little higher. A priest must always ask himself: "Would I accept this behavior from someone who came to confession?" "What if my behavior leads them astray?" "Am I doing something which might suggest that the priesthood is not a holy and honorable vocation given by God?"

A priest has a mighty task to perform, to re-present Christ and to do that faithfully, often in contradiction to what the world might want or expect. And I realize that some of you are going to say that sounds harsh. Fine. It's harsh, but it's a fact. But isn't this sort of higher standard exactly what many pious Catholics complain about when it's not manifested during Mass? Action arises from identity. When one is clear about one's identity, then it changes how one acts. For example, if a married man, even gives the impression of flirting with some other woman, then he has shamed his wife. Again, yes, some of this might be perception; it isn't his intention neither flirt nor shame, but that's the outcome. A priest is able to act in the person of Christ the head, as teacher, governor, and sanctifier, because it is his identity, an identity rooted in a sacramental reality. So, yes, while many people want a priest they can "relate to" and a priest should strive make sure he erects no barriers against members of the Church, especially in parochial ministry, this means that a priest must take care not to pander to a congregation.

Unlike other posts, where I have jested to get Fr. H to post, I am being very serious. I have thought about this for many years now whenever I would see similar scenes played out. While a parish carnival and the parish's Sunday Mass are two different things, there is the danger of forgetting for a moment that there is no vacation from vocation, and what one does with his time reflects upon that.
Where Living for God Will Lead You

The linked column shows something of the proper response to people who cluck their tongues about things like the "Dark Ages" or the "repressive nature of religion."

There is a quote I have read somewhere from Michaelangelo. It goes (pardon inexactitude) "The greatest danger in life is not setting your goals too high and not achieving them. It is setting your goals too low and achieving them." The spiritual life has something of this in it. When we reflect that a participation in grace is a participation in divinity, why do we think there is anything that God cannot do with and for us? Granted, changing takes time, it requires moving in new directions, changing habits etc. But after we accept that, why grow tired? Why stop? I would suspect that we stop and slow because we try to do it without Grace. We begin to slack in prayer, slack at Mass, carefully examining our motives and means. In short we convince ourselves it is all about us.

So here's the paradox. Insofar as we say "yes" to the Lord and his providence, it gets done by His grace. Insofar as we say "no" the Lord is not free to act through us but must find other ways. This is the mystery of free will.
More Shining Happy Readers

I received this email message about a week ago.

"Hello Fr. Shane and Fr. Steve,
I was just in Germany for a month helping out my daughter who has 3 young children and a husband who is deployed. While there, I found Catholic Ragemonkey. Just wanted to share that I am happy to be a "new regular" and look forward to reading and participating. Blessings, Ruth/"

Of course, I always love to hear about new readers. How about we take a little poll? Who are you (you can use fake names), where are you from, when did you start reading the blog? Just chalk it up to my curiousity.
When Will the Evil One Stop?

I only know of one source who can turn charity and charitible impulses into a fodder for death and destruction. That person is Satan. At the heart of his name is the mission. He is our opponent in the spiritual life. While he doesn't have the power to read our minds or force our wills, without our collaboration that is, he is an angel, which means he's loads smarter than you or I. He knows how to play our greatest weakness like a fiddle of gold.

This is truly sickening and aggrevating. These women who have been throughly traumatized by the loss of everything now will have to content with the loss of their child. My experience with Rachel's Vineyard weekends suggests that this is going to be a truly horrifying time for these women and their children. Today, would every one offer either one Hail Mary or one Memorare for these women: that they will not abort their children. Let's also get some grace headed to this abortion provider as well. Perhaps he will come to see the vileness of what he is proposing to do. Let's include anyone who might be able to favorably influence this moment of turmoil. Thanks, folks.

To think, when I mention hurricane victims, I didn't think of this as part of the victimizing event.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Soooo glad to see she is on the case.

Okay, hey, I guess my respect for Babs went up a notch. Who knew that while she was filming "Yentl" she had the time to get that degree in hydrodynamic climatology. Yep, she sure is something else.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Cattle Call of Truth

Recently, I have been chatting with Fr. H about bringing more Latin back to the celebration of the Holy Mass at my parishes. The reasons why is fodder for another post. But sometimes we all need reminders about working toward the goal.

While on the phone, I was running down the parts of the Eucharistic prayer with him when I stopped and asked, "How does that sound?" He responded, "Yeah, you see, when you speak Latin, it's supposed to sound like this," and repeated the phrase back to me, with quite frankly flawless execution. He continued, "When you say it, it sounds like this, moooooooo." Not exactly helpful correction.

(To all readers: this post is humorous effort to get Fr. H to post again. The above conversation is complete fabrication. Apparently, after becoming a city pastor, he has determined that he has no time for the blog. Perhaps, if we all mention how much he is missed, he will find the time for his virtual parishioners as well.)

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Dreaming of 42nd Street

I have had, for most of my life, a love affair with New York City. You know the place. Manhattan. The Big Apple. The City That Never Sleeps. Last night, as I was driving to one of my mission parishes for weekday Mass and class, Joe Jackson's Steppin' Out came on the satellite radio. I listened with a double nostalgia: one for the early days of MTV before it became a cesspool and two for my time in Manhattan.

You see, when I was in seminary in Philly, I got to indulge my love for NYC with occasional visits. Walking the wild streets, visiting St. Patrick's (even assisting with the Holy Mass there), seeing all those things which seemed like a dream for a little boy in the Midwest. In a certain sense, Manhattan is my Oz (think Frank Baum and not a prison series). It is a place where the unexpected and the magical converge as taxicabs wink eyes at you as they pass by.
Supporting the New Evangelization

Last week, Relevant Radio held their annual Reach Out and Respond pledge drive. They had a great response given the outpouring of help for Katrina victims. Sadly, they fell short of their goal. So as one of the very very adjunct staff, I would like to encourage all of your to consider making a pledge this week. All this week generous benefactors will be matching dollar for dollar any pledges made this week. You may make your pledge here. I would ask that you mention that you saw this pledge request via the blog in the additional information section. Tell 'em that Ragemonkey sent you.

Now, I know what you might be thinking. Why should I care since I don't get Relevant Radio where I live? Ah, hello. It's called the Internet. I listen daily while I am working at the computer.

Monday, September 19, 2005


Sorry, folks for taking the sudden blogging break, but my brain is empty. Actually, it's not that my brain is empty as much as it's my coffee pot that's empty. Really, it's not so much that no one has made a nicotine patch that laced with caffiene instead. After all, the spice is the life.

However, this is not a cheap pandering effort to get you to send large bags of high quality coffee to my rectory in Alva nor is it an infantile attempt to have you ship coffee ice cream in dry ice cryovac bags. It is a pathetic cry for help from someone who cannot get off his big behind and go to the grocery and buy every bag of coffee in the place.

And before someone suggests it, I don't drink decaf unless it is absolutely necessary for social decorum. Decaf is evil. I am not exaggerating. Coffee by its nature has caffiene. To decaffienate is to remove an essential good, albeit an accidental good, from the coffee. Therefore, decaf is evil because of the lack of good that ought to be present. Now where is my grinder?

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Conveniently, there are flights departing daily

I am often exhausted by the ridiculous statements made by celebrities. This statement, "I don't want to live the country because of X," tops the list of most aggrevating. After all, this country is what allowed the celeb's talents to be recognized. It is the people of this country who put massive amounts of their money, money I might add which was earned by ACTUALLY WORKING, in the celeb's pockets. Therefore, when celebs say things like "I want to leave America because of X", whatever X might be, I always get the image of a tapeworm or some other parasite slithering away after taking what it wanted from the host.

So, with all due respect, Ms. Paltrow, if you don't like what's going on, either leave or help do something about it. Get up off that couch, go volunteer, get informed, but just do something other than sitting there and kevetching about it.

(To all readers: yes, I recognize the irony that I am writing about somebody else getting up and doing something to make things better when I could easily get up and do something to make things better. I would happily go recycle garbage in Alva and do odd jobs to get Paltrow to move somewhere else, but I don't think that will work. After all, would you accept a plane ticket that arrived anonymously?)

Friday, September 09, 2005

A New Sensation

This morning marked a new debut for Relevant Radio and for myself. As of this morning, I am now a regular commentator on Friday mornings with a spot they call "The Ragemonkey Week In Review." Essentially, I cover, in about 10 minutes, the things that I think are funny and disturbing in the news that week. Today, I chatted up three large issues and did that in about 10 minutes.

First, I had to praise the positive action of Gov. Schwarzennger in promising to veto any gay marriage legislation. It is always good to see someone think of not only the will of the constituents that he governs (who about five years ago put the kibosh on gay marriage in their state) but also, dare we hope, what constitutes the common good of all parties. I really couldn't get into the whole common good and natural law thing so we have something for another time.

Second, I brought up how ridiculous news is getting when Dan Brown's new book called The Solomon Key which is unpublished, unfinished, most likely unreadable, gets a full page in U.S. News and World Report. The article was basically "Dan Brown's writing a new book and it's about the Masons." That was the first paragraph. Then the columnist went on to fill the page about what the book might be about. I think the book will be about 300 pages too long. And the best part is that it's a sequel to DaVinci Code. Lovely. However, this could lead to a new definition of irony as Brown who often gets facts out of whack might state some true things. (Take that, Alanis!) It does make me sad to think that there aren't any snappy titles for the Pro-Mason authors to use. The best I could come up with is "Grinding Down the Solomon Key" and "Unlocking the Real Key of Solomon." For purposes of copywrite, those are freebies.

Last, I touched on my hesitancy concerning the new movie, "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" mainly because Hollywood is so clueless about the reality of authentic supernatural phenomenon. However, from the little bit I have gleaned here and there, it looks well researched, although critics have been dogging it because it is less exorcism and more courtroom drama.

Yes, that tingle in the air means there is a new sensation. I suspect that the sensation created is fear and loathing. And no amount of calamine lotion takes that away. (To get hip to the new sensation, check out Relevant Radio at about 6:15 p.m. today.)

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Something on My Mind!

Can anyone give me the scoop on Coca-Cola Zero? Is it more low cal than regular Diet Coke? If it really is a zero why is there anything in the bottle?

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Cyber Altar Call!
By the time a thank you note would arrive in the postal mail, its recipients will no longer be at their home address, so we are offering this post as a thank you to two readers who describe themselves as fans. Alyssa and Ann-Marie are two sisters who are both preparing to leave home to join two different religious orders. They recently sent a surprise gift to your two ragemonkeys which included a nice note and two stuffed monkeys. After some coercion, I finally gave one of the stuffed monkeys to Fr. Tharp. Thank you soon-to-be Sisters for your gift and thank you for your gift of self to seek discernment of the will of Christ. May God bless you both as you seek to follow the vocation that is yours. I am particularly delighted that one of these young ladies is about to join a religious order which my Kindergarten teacher helped found around 1997. I don't want to reveal these ladies' last names nor the religious orders to which they are headed (out of concern for privacy), but suffice it to say that the one of you joining the order founded in 1997 should tell Sr. Mary Samuel that you have read the blog of one of her former Kindergarten students. And, we pray, dear soon-to-be Sisters, that part of your formation will be the permission to again read Catholic Ragemonkey. We understand that you will, for a time, have to leave an e-connection to our blog, but surely a perpetual ban on reading CRM would be most detrimental to the religious charism!

Allow me to also take this opportunity for what may be a first: A Cyber Altar Call! As we thank Alyssa and Ann-Marie, let's hear in the comment box from all readers who think they may be called to, or who are currently pursuing, a religious vocation. While there are many vocations, this is a cyber altar call, so I ask that comments be from those men who are pursuing priesthood and/or religious life and from those women who are pursuing consecrated religious life. If you are able at this time to be specific, tell readers what diocese or order you are planning to join or are considering at this time. And may all CRM readers, in whatever vocation, take the time to pray for those who leave comments. I would also love to see comments from former or current parishioners of mine or Fr. Tharp's. If you fit that category, let us know that too!

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Props to Father Ethan

Characteristic of good formation, Fr. Ethan at "Diary of a Suburban Priest" gives a beautiful devotion an apt connection to the present crisis in the Gulf States. Check it out and pray for your brothers and sisters in need.
Following in Fine Footsteps

Most people know some of the story of St. Francis, how he kissed lepers and preached to birds. But few know how he went to Muslim occupied territories to preach the gospel, hoping to end conflict through reconciliation and conversion. Sadly, to say that message of conversion went unheard.

Well, my good friend Fr. Groeschel and the brothers who serve with him in the Franciscans of the Renewal are following in their spiritual master's footsteps. I was looking for some information about the Oratory of Divine Love, a program that Fr. Benedict had begun as a response to the general need for reform in the Church, especially in light of the clergy sex abuse scandal. I was looking for the information because I am starting one of these oratories at my parish (and yes, I told the missions about it; we'll see what the response is). As I looked at the bottom of the page, I noticed all the languages the site can be translated into. Imagine my surprise when I spotted a link for ARABIC.

How marvelously evangelical of them! What a clever way for Muslims to find out more about the Catholic Faith, especially in places where even showing interest in the Christian Faith in general gets you a lot of attention you didn't want. I recall an interview in some magazine with some Chaldean Catholics who were commenting on the presence of very zealous Protestant missionaries who were coming to Iraq to convert the people. (Apparently, the memo didn't get to them that Christianity had been present in Iraq from at least the second century if not earlier.) Anyway, the Chaldean Catholic said something to the effect, why are they coming to us?; we are already Christian. Send them to the Muslim areas and see what happens. They (meaning the Muslims) will kill them. I hope that the last bit was hyperbole, but you draw my point I think.

At any rate, I wanted to commend the site builders for thinking of that little step which will hopefully pre-sage many people running to Christ.
In spite of darkness, there is light

I was reflecting on how the disaster in the Gulf States resulted in a refreshed sense of how fragile our lives here and now are. It is easy to become obcessed with the negative, inhuman dimensions of this moment. In this post, I wanted to bring you some of the virtuous moments that people have engaged in during this hour of sorrow.

For example, the service of many dedicated military and guardsmen demonstrates how broad service can be. Here's Oklahoma's contribution. As a matter of fact, even corporations are playing a part. Here we hear about Oklahoma Gas and Electric's help. Another bonus is where work can build up the hopes of those who are dispossessed. In Texas, for instance, Fort Worth is beginning to benefit from the New Orleans transit. For further signs, let's consider all that volunteer medical expertise being used at various triage center. This is a story about the Astrodome center. Then there is the champion Lance Armstrong who is willing to pony up $500,000 to help with various needs. Now if he could just get his private life straightened out.

And an upbeat change of behavior from celebs, Macy Grey is literally putting herself at the service of others. Maybe I will be buying one of her records. While I don't appreciate John Grisham's writing, I can appreciate putting his money where is mouth is, to the tune of $5 million dollars. Nice, huh?

What about the spiritual frontiers? The Vatican has fired up the Cor Unum folks to get them to assist. Check it out here.

This is just a taste. The most beautiful gestures are the most hidden and there are literally thousands of those stories that the news centers don't cover.
I will back my brothers and sisters; just drop me a note.

I can't imagine that Evangelical Christianity will get a fair shake. Granted, I want my evangelical brothers and sisters to become Catholic, and thus possess the fullness of Christian Faith. Therefore, I might miss silly misrepresentations because I don't live in that milieu. However, if there are silly misrepresentations, be sure that I will be as irritated as the faithful Anabaptist.
Just when I thought Washington Politics couldn't get more turbulent

With the passing of Justice Rehnquist, things surrounding the Roberts Confirmation just got a little more heated. Opponents of the president will see this as their worst nightmare: A "W" packed court, a Wacked Court so to speak. Therefore, except fireworks and firearms when the confirmation hearings begin.

Maybe. Maybe not.

It could also be the case that Bush's opponents will wait and save the ammo. It could even be a ploy to get Bush to lower his defenses and put forward someone very radical, at least, radical in the eyes of his opponents.

Either way, may Justice Rehnquist rest in peace and may his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Not that I find it all that surprising: disgusting, certainly, but not surprising...

It might be a helpful exercise to figure out what the mean gas prices are around the country. So, if you would, in the comments box, just mention where you post from (the sate) and the price charged for basic regular unleaded gas. I will predict that gas prices will be higher in any state that borders the center of destruction, but that's just a guess.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Your Chance to Help

This morning, I was featured on Relevant Radio to talk about the nature of physical evil and our Christian response to it. As part of that presentation, I mentioned that I would link with some charitible organizations you could support. So here it is.

First, Catholic Charities is taking contributions here.

Second, there are the Mercy Corps who are doing good on-site work as well.

Third, for the more civic-minded among you, you could give your bucks to FEMA.

Fourth, Red Cross is always a good bet. Don't forget to give blood as well since without electricity the entire city is without blood and plasma supplies.