Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Santa is dead!
Just a little fun reference to the now decades-old claim that God is dead. And, yes, I know the full original quote referring to God. Armed with that knowledge, I am aware that Santa's place in society and culture is safe indeed. Can't a guy wish, though?

I am so sick and tired of Santa (at least in Advent). I note each year when I first see Santa in a store. This year it was in September! We hadn't even had Halloween yet -- we weren't even in the month of Halloween -- and Santa was occupying a place in the store aisle, like some perverse stalker on whom you are just about to call the police. I am tired of Santa's egocentric control of Fall and, especially of Advent. Beginning the very day after Thanksgiving, my car radio routinely finds stations whose entire programming is "Christmas" music all day, every day. Without prejudice to St. Nicholas, I am not ready to let Christmas happen and I am especially reluctant to let its commercialization eat up my time. But it is everywhere. Though I am by no means a Scrooge, the prevailing culture almost foists that personage upon me by its wholesale dismissal of Advent.

I want to steep in the divine promises of the Messiah found in Scripture. I want to rest in the silent night, awaiting the Light to dawn. I want to feed my excitement and joy in the Church's Sacred Liturgy of this season. I want to prepare for Christ and I want that without Santa. I will sort of share Christmas with Santa, but the older I get and the more I think about the real reason for the season, all I want for Christmas is Advent!

Hmm, I guess that means I need to have a little something either before or after each of my Holy Day Masses. I'll keep you posted.
Ah, Justification for my addictions...
Documentary Evidence

Well, the great wailing and grinding of teeth has begun in earnest. I read the document very quickly and was taken by both its directness and its simplicity. Again, no big surprises to be found anywhere. What I found interesting is how the length of the document broken down. On my printer, the document printed out at 10 pages, five of which were footnotes. I think we can safely say that this document is hardly arbitrary in its judgments. Then when you look at the citations, the vast majority of citations date from the time of the Second Vatican Council forward. In other words, rather than this being a "new" action by the Holy See, it is a simple reinforcing of an instruction that has not necessarily been followed in the past.

I invite everyone to take a read before leaping to conclusions.
Any Ideas, Folks?

I am in need a video presentation on the History of the Church. It would need to be about 1 and 1/2 hour in length at most. Any ideas?
Is it the beginning or the end?

Just another of my little posts to get you, the faithful reader, thinking. If you want to see the difference between our Catholic identity and the general culture you need not look any further than the placement of Christmas. Is Christmas the climax or is the beginning of something new? Given what retailers do by cramming Christmas related crap (and it is merely Christmas related if there is no creche) into their stores as soon as possible, you clearly see that Christmas is the end. Then you go back to winter, once you have used all of the gift cards you have received and bundled away the Christmas tree. For the Catholic, Christmas day is like someone pulling back the curtain you shut against the bleak midwinter haze only to discover the dawn of a sun-filled delight. The Christmas season reaches its climax on the Feast of the Epiphany when the Son who dawns for our salvation is revealed to all the world by the Gentiles.

So here's my question to you. Where have you put Christmas? Is it the beginning or is the end?
Another Case of Having thr Truth Thrust Into One's Face and The Only Response is "We Can't Hear You or See You. Do You Even Exist?"
Yet another subject that I am not entirely qualified to comment on, but will do so nonetheless

C.S. Lewis is something of an engima to me. Generally, I don't recommend Lewis to folks because of a small bias, namely that he himself didn't convert to the Catholic Faith when simultaneously showing such a great comprehension. Yes, yes, I know, conversion is a mystery and so is grace but you can't blame a guy for being just a little suspicious. On the flip side though many well-known Catholic converts have firmly placed the movement of their conversion in Lewis's hands. So it is a puzzle that I have yet to work out.

However, if this movie does its job effectively it becomes another opportunity to evangelize. I remember seeing the cartoon version of TLTWTW as a boy and being so moved by Aslan's sacrifice. It would only be after my conversion and my entrance into the seminary that I would understand who Aslan actually is.

So, I think there will be a go out and see it drive in my parish with a discussion forum perhaps the next day. This also opens the question -- are plans being made to produce the remaining books as well?

P.S. Did you find the statement in the article "Even the Christian subtext of Lewis's book is handled with taste and sensitivity. It's there, but never laboured." a little condescending?
How your personal history comes into play

As Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Benedict expressed some hestitation over the notion of limbo. It is a widely held opinion which never received confirmation either via a conciliar statement or a papal one. Therefore the belief in limbo is neither binding nor irreformable. However, the article I have linked goes too far in saying that the Church would add a belief that all unbaptized babies would go to Heaven. The reality of the situation is that we on this side of the divide don't really know. We have to entrust those children to the mercy of God. This is the comment of the present Catechism although I can't recall what paragraph this is.
It's hard to imagine...

...that I was in the presence of a saint and didn't realize it. The real difficulty will be that his feast day, if you use his death date, falls during Lent. Memorials during Lent are rendered optional so it is going to be interesting to see how this all shakes down.
Man Accused of Deliberate Finger Severing

When I first saw this title, I thought "As opposed to accidental Finger Severing?"

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Cranberry Sauce
Here is the recipe for the new version of cranberry sauce my mom made for Thanksgiving. To be fair, she took the recipe from a recent local newspaper.

1 lb. of fresh cranberries (check your bag size, some bags are only 10 oz.)
2 cups of sugar
1/2 cup of water
Finely grated zest of one orange
1/2 cup of fresh orange juice
2 Tbsp of finely minced, fresh ginger

Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan and cook over medium heat until cranberries begin to pop. Stir occasionally. Skim off any foam from surface and allow to cool.

Given the amount of sugar and the little water, this recipe is supposed to make a thicker sauce. If you prefer one a bit less firm, you could certainly add up to 3/4 cup of water (I would think), remembering that the half cup of orange juice does add some more liquid.
Actually, I am surprised it has taken execs this long

This theme has been a staple of scifi and alternative history writers for several years now. It has the benefit of alerting people to the fact that America is not invulnerable and its way of life (whatever that means to you, gentle reader) can come to an end as many other cultures and civilizations have done before. It will be interesting to see what the contributing factors the authors will use and whether or not those factors are plausible. As they say in the biz, stay tuned...

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving 2005: Old standards and new delights
After offering the Holy Mass this morning at my parish, I puttered around the house doing laundry and getting ready to drive to Mom's house. As I drove into Oklahoma City, I made a brief stop at a local hospital to visit a parishioner who had been transported there last night. My parish is about 45 minutes outside of OKC and I am not often able to visit parishioners who find themselves in OKC hospitals. There just isn't enough time in the day to be driving back and forth to OKC, however, fortunately there are priest chaplains at the OKC hospitals who can attend to these needs.

After a brief stop at the hospital I continued on to Mom's. As I drove along I saw an image that warmed my heart as I was anticipating the feast to come. I noticed many homes with more than the average number of cars parked in the driveways or on the streets nearby. It was neat knowing that many people and families had gathered together for a few hours of relaxation and friendship. We don't stop enough to do this in our busy world.

Mom made the standard fare and it was delicious. She made a variation on a favorite of mine; instead of the Cream of Broccoli soup which I love, she made Cream of Asparagus and it was equally as good. There was turkey, dressing, and vegetables. I brought a couple bottles of wine to go along with the feast. And there were some new delights. As we were preparing a relish tray, Mom pulled from the refrigerator what I first viewed as a horrifyingly large jar of pickled okra. I tried to soften the blow when she asked if I liked pickled okra. Well, actually, there was no softness at all. I quickly told her while I liked okra, I didn't imagine I would care much for the pickled stuff. Well, much to my surprise, I really enjoy them. Basically, it tastes like a pickle and I do like those. Then Mom also had a new cranberry sauce recipe. She used real cranberries to cook a sauce flavored with orange zest and (and here is the new twist) fresh ginger! It was wonderful and complemented the cranberries with a clean, fresh finish. Way to go, Mom! Yes, it was a thanksgiving of old standards and new delights.

Now that I have risen from my turkey induced coma, I am headed back for some post-Thanksgiving snacks and another piece of fresh peach pie. We here at Catholic Ragemonkey hope that your Thanksgiving has been full of rich blessings from God and the blessing of family, friends, and good food. No doubt, some readers and plenty of others around the world will have had a less than ideal Thanksgiving (perhaps a loved one is very ill and in a hospital; perhaps it is the first holiday without a loved one recently deceased; perhaps it is a time so associated with home, but work keeps you far from home or perhaps disaster has taken your home away). Whatever the case, we pray that each of you has found something, however small, to be thankful for this day. May we never take for granted the good gifts of our lives -- things which we in no way deserve. And being thus undeserving, we are all the more grateful.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Not that anyone asked me

I found this meme on Happy Catholic and since no one tagged me, it frees me from having to tag others. So feel free to try it for yourself. The idea is to find your birthday verse in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. My birthday verse is 1:23 for January 23. (What year? Every year, silly. And no, Fr. Hamilton this is not an effort to get birthday presents from readers...)

Matthew 1:23:"Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel," which means "God is with us."

Mark 1:23:In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit;
(Okay, that's disturbing.)

Luke 1:23:Then, when his days of ministry were completed, he went home.

John 1:23:"I am 'the voice of one crying out in the desert, "Make straight the way of the Lord,"' as Isaiah the prophet said."

Make of that what you will...

"Excuse me if I'm not surprised"

With all due respect to Jimmy Hendrix, that was the only thing I could think of. I am not entirely surprised that the Church's teaching often draws down hostility from the world which surrounds her. Frankly, as a convert, that is one of the things which gives me great comfort; the Church is pushing the culture and not the reverse.

Simply put, I don't see how this document (and yes, I know this is still speculative given the document remains unpromulgated) imposes major onus or offers any big surprises. Let's just take the Catechism on this point for one moment. Paragraph 2357 reads "Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered." They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved." In reference to the some of the Scriptural evidence for her position, the Church cites here Genesis 19:1-29, Romans 12:4-27, 1 Corinthians 6:10, and 1 Timothy 1:10. I suppose you could add the two creation stories as further evidence of the natural state of complimentarity between the sexes. The important thing to note is a distinction between the origin, which the Church doesn't claim to know other than the general state of affairs as happening from original Sin, and the submission to the act to which the question of moral responsibility attaches. The Church can teach therefore that those who suffer from the condition of homosexuality are suffering from an objectively disordered condition which is not their fault. In short, it's analogous to other conditions of physical evils which are visited upon people. When one acts from the disorder, however, having received and assented to the Church's teaching, accepting as the voice of Christ himself, then that person is guilty of the act, but not the condition (CCC #2358-2359).

This is where the real problem is. This is not a question of orientation; it's a question of obedience. The question devolves to whether or not the candidate for orders is obedient to the Church. This obedience is bedrock for the life of a priest and for every Catholic because it is not in our own name that we progress out into the world. I go in the name of Christ. My opinions are not so important (yes, I note the irony of my having a blog) as whether or not my lines of reasoning are tied into the net of Christ. I am His fisher of men. I am not gathering people so that I may have a cult of popularity. They belong to another.

I have also read how some group of gay Catholic clergy have started some support group and have suggested that they might boycott Sunday Masses so that we all can know how important they are to the Church. Regardless of orientation, the ministry of ordained priests, especially of the Sacraments, is essential to the Church. However, with that said, I find it disturbing that somehow the ministry and the sexual orientation of said ordained minister are so closely defined so to preclude distinction. Are these clergy suffering from homosexual orientation saying that without acknowledgement and acceptance of the orientation they don't have a valid ministry? How are people supposed to know of their orientation, unless it either being openly proclaimed or openly practiced? Certainly, I don't think my parishioners say to themselves, "Father's homilies are so good. And how heterosexual he is." Here is another disturbing crux in the argument it seems. For sexual orientation to play a conscious part in how people receive our priestly ministry and service is for it to be expressed outwardly. After all, how do they know my orientation unless they see it in action, so to speak? This would be a problem and a compromise to any priestly service regardless of orientation.

Lastly, the whole discussion bespeaks a fundamental flaw in the whole idea of a "gay culture." It attempts to define the whole of personhood by only part of the personal identity and essence. I am not denying that human sexuality is a significant, possibly the most significant, aspect in human relationality. I am claiming that I am more than just the sum of my parts. All aspects of the human person, intellect, will, emotions, and yes, sexual orientation, are meant to be guided and employed by me, the acting person. Then and only then do these matters become truly human because human is manifesting his human nature through them. But if any of those aspects fail to enshrine the authentic goods of the human person, then those attributes must be tamed and brought into alignment.

With all this said, I don't intend any of this as a slam. Every Christian struggles to do exactly what I have proposed above. For some like myself, it is a disordered attraction to food and drink. For others, it is a matter of sexual urges and identity. I am not trying to look down my nose at those who suffer due to same sex attraction disorders. I am trying to point them to the true source of their happiness and their ultimate destiny. I would ask and expect any brother Christian to do the same if they saw that I had strayed, was straying or about to stray from the life-giving and saving truths as professed by Christ. I ask that all readers take this post in that spirit.

Was it something I said?

Let's just hope my parishioners don't see this story. I will have to take the course in Judo if they do.
ANother Page in the History of a Jagged Little Pill

This report didn't really surprise me all that much. In the history of oral contraceptives, the death of women has figured largely, and I am not referring to the fact that "the pill" prevents the implantation of the embryo. Because of the powerful hormones in question and the large doses involved, at least in the early formulations, several women died due to excessive bleeding. This becomes doubly cursed an action when you add that when the men's version was created and tested, it's only side effect was a slight decline in testicular size. All testing stopped immediately. The pill is proving to be the greatest and most tragic experimentever performed on women.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

We Know the Score!

Say it with me:

"X V I, Don't you know he's our guy?!"
Let me suggest another point of view

As I cruise around the blogverse, I have noticed a thread appearing concerning the impending new translation of the Roman Missal. Mostly, it is a symphony of "how stupid can these bishops be? Just change the text and let's get with it" mingled with "Why would about a translation when we could just do it in Latin?" It seems to me that both of these responses miss the point. Any and all changes in the translation used will require re-education of an entire parish, and that will take time, not only in actually implementing the changes but then fielding all of the phone calls, comments and other stuff that will accompany the changeover.

Now, don't get me wrong. The current translation is pretty pedestrian, if not downright cheeky in spots because the prayers have been rendered in a command form unfitting for a creature to approach a creator with. And I think that it is shameful that the English speaking world is several editions behind the rest of the Church universal, especially because it seems as though most of these issues are caused by agendas rather than a through attention to fidelity to the typical edition.

Most people don't realize how difficult it would be to change over to a new translation. First, you would have to either delay the beginning of Sunday Masses or have people show up at least 15-20 minutes early for Mass for at least 2 months. Given the stampede five minutes before Mass, when 50% - 75 % of any given congregation appears, I can tell you what the response for arriving early would be: fat chance. Compound this with the running around priests like myself have to do and you can see how a fifteen minute delay can create real havoc. Second, you would have to explain all of the linguistic preferences as envitably someone is going to walk up and say, "I like the old way better." This is something of a bonus though, because then you can show how dignified language actually promotes a better comprehension of the Faith. Third, you would have to adapt all liturgical music currently in use to match the actual Mass parts. This is only somewhat irritating for me as I would like to have an excuse to seemlessly introduce plain chant throughout the Holy Mass. Fourth, you, meaning a parish, will have to assume the added expense of providing all of the new texts -- assuming you aren't using a missal service -- for people to use at Mass. Welcome to a whole new stewardship issue. Those are the things that come to mind, just off the cuff; I am sure there are more. And just to cut this off at the pass, going back to a completely Latin liturgy would be ten times more complicated than what I am suggesting here.

I don't intend this litany as an impetus to not correct and update the Missal's translation. What I am suggesting though is that when a bishop, or your pastor for that matter, suggests that something might have some difficult aspects in its implementation, don't assume out of hand that the bishop or parish priest is merely being retrograde and obstructionist.
In the Works

As if I don't have enough to do, I have been trying to find a way to fill my need for a chance to gather with like-minded, like-spirited individuals who are interested in learning and discussing all sorts of matters related to the Catholic Faith.

No, this is not a personals ad.

This is an ad for the beginnings of a Chesterton Society. There really doesn't seem to be a place for civilized folks to sit around and be civilized. I am thinking of starting something in the OKC metro area but meeting frequency and format is still a little elusive. Mainly, whatever I come up with, I don't need any more heavy lifting. It would need to be something where the leadership of the meeting could be handed over to someone else at a moment's notice, sorta like an understudy.

Here's what I have in mind. Once a month, society members would meet to discuss a chapter of a book or an essay or something like that. Then after the discussion we would go out for a relaxed dinner. Of course, what to read, how to lead meetings, what does membership in the society require, and other lovely but maddening details remain.

Would you folks be interested if it were offered in your neighborhood?
What was that about "One Night in Bangkok"?

Once again, you wonder what people are thinking. We already have a cultural frontier which is a playground for every perversion under the sun. The fact that television programs regularly feature and write entire stories around deviancy suggests how tolerant we have become to things which are fodder for greater problems. Granted, a story must have a conflict to set it in motion. What catches my attention is the ramping up of the weirdness and depravity factors in these plot/character motivations. 30 years ago, it was enough to say that the murder happened to cover up an affair. Now, a similar television program, a police procedural e.g., now has to add dimensions of sadomasicism or fetishism. It seems to me that all of that is an effort at normalization of abnormal tendencies. But I digress...

The irony here is that the officials both want to simultaneously curtail and promote a certain set of behaviors. Singapore has something of a reputation when it comes to public sexual matters, including the post-post production editing-out of racier material from movies. Common sense tells us that you can't have it both ways; it's akin, to my mind, of both leading the world in Splenda production, in order to cut obesity risks, and selling it in a chocolate box. If a specific act or set of actions are not conducive to the promotion of the common good, then you can't argue later that somehow that, if we police it very carefully, then it's good.

We can even follow this into a whole different disturbing quarter. Currently, throughout the world, there are not a few girls and women who are sold into sexual slavery. They are forced, at the point of violence, into a world of prostitution and drug use. What would the Singapore government have to say if mysteriously, one of the vendors or participants at their little sortie suddenly was revealed to be involved in one of these sorts of plots, perhaps even getting the idea for the criminal action, because the expo tipped him off to its existence.

Defense of the common good from all that would corrupt and co-opt the rights of the constituency begins at the simplest levels and then follows through to the largest and most comprehensive work. It sounds like Singapore has got it backward.

Biretta tip to Jason Pohlmeier for the link.
I am in LOVE!

Monday, November 21, 2005

My point, precisely
Am I missing something here?
I really am confused and I would appreciate it if any reader could shed some light on the following situation. As I was returning from anointing someone at the hospital this morning, I read the following message on the sign board of a local church:

The acid test of a Christian is forgiveness.

I don't get the "acid test" part. Do you think the person responsible for the sign really intended "litmus test" or is there some other meaning to "acid test" I am missing?
Fast Food Reading

Recently, I have been on the rampage to encourage more people to read more. But one of the issues I haven't addressed is what kind of books do I read? Permit me to use a personal example to draw out my point.

In order to prevent my brain from exploding, I was reading Stephen King's 7th book in the Dark Tower series in conjunction with two or three other books I was trying to wrap up. As time progressed, I was giving more and more time to King's book and less to those books I actually needed to read. Eventually I was reading King exclusively, just so I could get to the end. When I finished I was exhausted but not edified. The ending of that particular book by the way was particularly disturbing for a lot of reasons which I don't want to address here. I mean, it was silly for me to expect a happy ending from King, the master of horror and pain.

These sorts of books are like fast food. Occasionally stopping to have a quarter pounder with cheese is okay. Stapling your diet from that is not. Reading a "light" work is good to break up the flow of what one reads, but one ought not make a strict diet out of fluffy literature. Like fast food, I could read King very quickly because (sorry, Steve) there isn't a lot of depth there. Reading leads us to discover the truly human, and that requires a certain amount of work in our reading.

So, when you read, read only the best.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

You Can Blame Alton Brown...

On Friday's broadcast of Morning Air, I mentioned a few of the things I am putting together for Thanksgiving dinner. Apart from my decretum fartum malum est (Stuffing is Evil), I explained how I brine my turkey before roasting it. Sean immediately said, "That has to go on your blog." Eager to honor that request, I give you the recipes as I got them from Food TV Network, and my cooking guru, Alton Brown.

Fr. Tharp's Thanksgiving Contributions

Roasted Brined Turkey: This turkey is literally the best I have ever made or eaten. It is worth all that prep.

Apple-Cranberry Crisp: Instead of the frozen berries, I am substituting cranberries, 3 Pink Lady apples, and a 1/4 cup of dark brown sugar. I just don't trust that this won't be mouth puckering given cranberry's reputation. Also, I think I will make this as one giant crisp rather than individual servings.
UPDATE: After having taken two runs at this recipe, I think I have the right balance of sweet and tangy. The first one was a bit too sour yet. So if you are making this, substitute frozen berries with one bag (12 oz.) of cranberries (fresh, please), use two apples, and dark brown sugar for plain sugar in the main part of the recipe. Also, add 1/4 cup of honey (again, local or varietal preferred) to up the sweetness ante. The crisp topping remains unchanged. You might let the mixture sit after combining the fruit and such. The juice from the apples may take away some of the bite.

Smashed Sweet Potatoes: I hope I can find chipotle peppers at the Alva Wal-Mart...
UPDATE: Found the peppers and let me tell you, those are the best sweet potatoes ever. The three unsolicited opinions agree.

Sweet Potato Pie: There will be at least four or five of these made as I owe some folks some thank yous. I hope no one has a nut allergy...

While I am on the subject, I have a question for all of the Good Eats fans out there. Does anyone know what ever happened to Rooney? Rooney had some of the great characters on the show like the Mad French Chef and Cousin Ray. It's a pity not to see him anymore. Don't get me wrong: Carl is a great contribution to the show and I will always have a warm spot for W. Rooney just dropped off the radar and didn't know what was up. If anyone can get this note to AB, it would be appreciated.
UPDATE: I found out who Rooney really is and where he's made off to. Rooney, rather Steve Rooney, started out as one of the executive producer and test chefs for Good Eats. Talk about parlaying your successes. I hear now that he is teaching cooking in Atlanta. I'm sorry, but I could concentrate unless he were bereating me as any good french chef should toward the up and coming sous chef.
While I was away on Monday...

On Monday last, I attended the UCO Catholic Student Center fundraiser. Each year, the center sponsors a speaker of some note and then sells tickets. If you pony up enough cash, there's even dinner. So, ever since Fr. Hamilton managed to get George Weigel to come and speak, I have tried not to miss it. This year was an especially treat.

For this year's fundraiser, the director of the center, Mr. Carl Erikson (and yes, he is one of the good guys and is swiftly rising toward full Ragemonkey Minion status) brought in Mr. Patrick Madrid. For those who are out of the loop, Pat Madrid is a well-known and well-respected Catholic apologist who has worked in many venues over the last several years. In particular he deserves praise for two endeavors: public debates with Protestant ministers and the magazine Envoy. The debates alone are worth their weight in gold. I can't imagine how he does it. If roles were reversed and I were the one in the debate, my staff would have to have Silverback Strength Tranquilzer Darts on hand, just to keep me from screaming. Sadly, I think Envoy is defunct as a magazine, but you can still find the blog and the archives on-line. Just check our sidebar.

Needless to say, I had the privilege of sitting next to Mr. Madrid and sharing a delicious dinner with him. Unfortunately, I did make a slight faux pas when one of the others at the table asked me what I had been reading, specifically the last book I had read, and I think I gave a litany that was a little too, ah, showy and pompous for my own good.

Anyway, it also turns out that Mr. Madrid has visited this end of the internet jungle and is a sometime reader. The topic came up during dinner mainly beause Mr. Madrid recognized my name but couldn't place it and then to clarify something silly and flippant that I said (okay, make that two faux pas). And no, Fr. Hamilton, I did not intentionally bring up the blog; my intention was not to mention it at all. Events simply conspired against me.

If you are reading this, Pat, it was a real treat to meet you, not to mention all those books to burrow through.
You'll Forgive Me if I Disagree

I have been meaning to write something on this, although I confess that anything I write is somewhat provisional. I haven't done nearly the research that I need to, so please be satisfied with a thoughtful sketch and we will go from there.

First, let me say that this is a touchy subject. I expect that many people who profess to have the single state as their vocation will not like what I am about to say. Fine. I can accept that. But any and all comments need to be rational, not emotional. If I hurt your feelings or upset in some way, I am sorry at the outset. However, that doesn't change the fact that some clarity is needed in this discussion.

When the Church, especially in the light of the Second Vatican Council (henceforth VII), speaks of vocation, there is two degrees meant: the universal or common vocation and the particular vocation. The universal vocation of every Christian is holiness of life which is directed to the bliss of heaven. This goes for EVERYONE. Priest, religious, married couple, child, single, everyone must strive for holiness. This is merely another way to speak of the election we have in Christ. When we were created, we were made to know God, to love Him, to serve Him, and to be happy with Him in this life and in the life to come. Even though we can, and too often do stray from the path, the intention in our creation was to spend eternity with the Holy Trinity. The rubber hits the road though when we ask the all-important question of how, specifically, how do I live the call to holiness given my state of life. This brings us to the particular vocation.

Rather than spell out the three commonly accepted particular vocations, priesthood, religious life, and marriage, I want to point out what all three have in common. First, all three require a period of testing and examination before being accepted into that state of life. Second, all three require a public profession that one is undertaking this life, freely and without force. Third, all three create not only a specific mission within, but also a specific set of obligations to the Church. Fourth, all three require recognition and permission by the Church to leave or to take up another of these states. Fifth, all three particular vocations require discernment and the confirmation of the Church, through her proper authorities, before one can take it on. Compare that to the single state qua single state and you will see it has nothing in common with these particular vocations.

What's to be done then? Up front, let me point out that being single is no obstacle to fulfilling your general vocation to holiness. If anything, I think it probably opens the playing field to other things that many of us would not be able to do. But vocation, especially particular vocation, is not a functionalistic job description. It is an identity which Christ places upon each person from the very heart of eternity. That particular vocation serves to build up the Church by being at the service of Communion, or in the case of religious and consecrated life, embodying the Communion we will all share in the kingdom of our Father in Heaven. If one discerns that one is meant to be a celibate, but not entering into a religious order, that is possible. It is a public vow of virginity that the one seeks to take. But means of this vow, the person would be enrolled in the consecrated life in the Church. Here is what the Catechism says on the subject:

914 "The state of life which is constituted by the profession of the evangelical counsels, while not entering into the hierarchical structure of the Church, belongs undeniably to her life and holiness."

Evangelical counsels, consecrated life

915 Christ proposes the evangelical counsels, in their great variety, to every disciple. the perfection of charity, to which all the faithful are called, entails for those who freely follow the call to consecrated life the obligation of practicing chastity in celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom, poverty and obedience. It is the profession of these counsels, within a permanent state of life recognized by the Church, that characterizes the life consecrated to God.

916 The religious state is thus one way of experiencing a "more intimate" consecration, rooted in Baptism and dedicated totally to God. In the consecrated life, Christ's faithful, moved by the Holy Spirit, propose to follow Christ more nearly, to give themselves to God who is loved above all and, pursuing the perfection of charity in the service of the Kingdom, to signify and proclaim in the Church the glory of the world to come.

One great tree, with many branches

917 "From the God-given seed of the counsels a wonderful and wide-spreading tree has grown up in the field of the Lord, branching out into various forms of the religious life lived in solitude or in community. Different religious families have come into existence in which spiritual resources are multiplied for the progress in holiness of their members and for the good of the entire Body of Christ."

918 From the very beginning of the Church there were men and women who set out to follow Christ with greater liberty, and to imitate him more closely, by practicing the evangelical counsels. They led lives dedicated to God, each in his own way. Many of them, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, became hermits or founded religious families. These the Church, by virtue of her authority, gladly accepted and approved.

919 Bishops will always strive to discern new gifts of consecrated life granted to the Church by the Holy Spirit; the approval of new forms of consecrated life is reserved to the Apostolic See.

The eremitic life

920 Without always professing the three evangelical counsels publicly, hermits "devote their life to the praise of God and salvation of the world through a stricter separation from the world, the silence of solitude and assiduous prayer and penance."

921 They manifest to everyone the interior aspect of the mystery of the Church, that is, personal intimacy with Christ. Hidden from the eyes of men, the life of the hermit is a silent preaching of the Lord, to whom he has surrendered his life simply because he is everything to him. Here is a particular call to find in the desert, in the thick of spiritual battle, the glory of the Crucified One.

Consecrated virgins

922 From apostolic times Christian virgins, called by the Lord to cling only to him with greater freedom of heart, body, and spirit, have decided with the Church's approval to live in a state of virginity "for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven."

923 "Virgins who, committed to the holy plan of following Christ more closely, are consecrated to God by the diocesan bishop according to the approved liturgical rite, are betrothed mystically to Christ, the Son of God, and are dedicated to the service of the Church." By this solemn rite (Consecratio virginum), the virgin is "constituted . . . a sacred person, a transcendent sign of the Church's love for Christ, and an eschatological image of this heavenly Bride of Christ and of the life to come."
[N.B. Here is the case I mentioned. You'll notice that no mention is made of a religious order. Instead the person in question makes a public profession, which has duties and obligations, which constitutes a particular public witness. It is also to be noted that generally the word "consecrated virgin" denotes a woman. I wonder if or how the procedure and prayers are different for a man.]

924 "As with other forms of consecrated life," the order of virgins establishes the woman living in the world (or the nun) in prayer, penance, service of her brethren, and apostolic activity, according to the state of life and spiritual gifts given to her. Consecrated virgins can form themselves into associations to observe their commitment more faithfully.

The principal problem with this article on Catholic Exchange is that it lacks proper distinctions both in terms of purpose and in terminology. The question of vocation is not a question of what I want or what work I am supposed to be doing. The question is what does Christ want me to do and where in the Church can I be set to task? That requires more than a can-do spirit. It requires the input and the discernment of the Church's hierarchy, just as every other particular vocation demands.
Ah, another round of workers set to the plow

I had the pleasure of meeting Archbishop Chaput while I was a deacon. The parish youth group was attending Steubenville in the Rockies and I was one of two deacons assisting the Archbishop at the Mass on Sunday. He struck me as someone well rooted, a placid exterior which held deep wells of virtue. Needless to say, it is good to hear good news from Denver. I had the pleasure, I won't assume it was mutual as I can be something of a beast, of studying with several guys from Denver when I was at Conception in MO.

To these new deacons, ad multos annos!
The short answer is "Yes."

Is that judgmental? Probably.

From my own work in post-abortion healing, I can tell you that the decision to abort is never done simply or without some degree of coercion by some party or another. I can only imagine what kind of pressure could be exerted if the doctor would come at you and say, "Your baby won't be normal." Granted, I find it worrisome that the article didn't mention how accurate the test actually is, not that accuracy does away with the eugenic overtone of the whole matter. I can only imagine the horror and dread compounding in my soul if I can a.) chosen to abort and b.) then to have my primary motive taken away from me.

The reason for the title of this post comes from a very pessimistic part of my personality. I have a hard time believing that there is any medically supportive posture here. I don't really think that this fetal test is being offered so that parents can prepare to take on a special needs child. Sorry, it's just what my gut is telling me. The culture praises perfect body, perfect eyes, perfect makeover. The least burden is to be shunted aside without reference to the person who suffers it or finding ways to alleviate the problem.

With all this said, I could be completely wrong. Actually, I hope I am.
Hey, all you are doing is flooding your body with hormones which are sending wonky signals all over the place. Why would that cause a problem?
Clearly, the superior headline is "Mass Exodus"

Once again, I must point out the obvious flaw. Just because opinion polls say that this or that thing is okay, without any moral onus, doesn't make it so. It just reflects the fact that people have lost touch with that which makes them actually human. To act as though one can be faithful to Christ without actually worshipping Him, in the way He commands, at the direction of the Body commissioned to hand on that saving truth is absolute balderdash. You might as well claim that you can both be an active recruiter for Al-Queda and a faithful U.S. Citizen.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Huh, who us? We aren't persecuting anybody...
Welcome Relevant Radio Listeners

For all those who got up at the crack of dawn to listen to the Ragemonkey Week in Review on Relevant Radio, what follows is a recap. I offered a list of ten ideas, drawn from the Holy Mass, for making your Thanksgiving Holiday more, well, thankful. The word "eucharist" derives from the Greek word "to give thanks." It seemed like a logical connection.

1.) Prepare Yourself to Give Rather Than To Get.
Like the Holy Mass, the purpose of Thanksgiving is actually to give back to the family which spawned you. Bringing something to eat or merely a pleasant attitude is certainly in order.

2.) Remember That They Are Your Family and Friends By Design.
The Sign of the Cross carries two theological truths: the Holy Trinity and the Redemption wrought by the Cross. Because of these two realities, we are bound together, yes, even your worst enemy is bound to you, assuming they are baptized, etc. Family and friends work the same way. They are given to assist us on the way, even when it seems like they get underfoot too often. It's by design to help us grow in active charity.

3.) Decide Forgiveness Is Both Going To Be Given and Requested.
The Penitential Rite heads up the introductory rites of the Holy Mass because even the best among us come as beggars before the Lord. Therefore before we give thanks we must seek to acknowledge our fault. In the same way, we need to decide to forgive other family members and be ready to ask for forgiveness ourselves. I hate to admit this, but we all fall short on the "I love my family" scale from time to time.

4.) Tell Family Stories In Order To Build Up and Be More Perfectly a Family.
The Sacred Scriptures give us the roadmap spelling out the byways into which the Redemption has flowed, leading up to our own day. This is recounted to strength us, to trust our Lord better. Family stories are wonderful, but really, do we need to hear about how Billy got his head stuck in the bars of the banister for the 10th time? The poor guy has grown up finally and hopefully has put this ackward period behind him. Tell the stories that are triumphant tales and signs proving God's goodness.

5.) Blessings Are Blessings Despite the Appearances.
I took this from the blessing prayers before the Eucharistic Prayer. When you look at the host, it's pretty modest. The same thing with the wine at the Holy Mass. Before the consecration, they aren't much. After the consecration, the appearance hasn't changed but everything significant has. Look around at the table on Thanksgiving and it will be pretty modest. But it contains greater blessings than you can imagine.

6.) Give Thanks for All of the Things, Everything It Took to Get Them There, Regardless of Who Brings Them.
Salvation comes to us through the medium of the Cross. It isn't a pretty picture. Our time together, yes, even Myrna's deadly jello surprise (Surprise -- It's made from boiled horse hooves) comes from one who wishes to give something and hopes that we will do the same. Even if they make you crazy, be thankful anyhow.

7.) The Family is a Mystery of Faith.
That one's pretty self-explanatory.

8.) Peace is A Work of Forgiveness Meant to Restore True Community.
The Sign of Peace is literally a bridge building moment in the Mass. By the Sign of Peace we intend to communicate that old injuries are forgiven. So this observation is really just a derivation of #3 above. Peace at the dinner table during Thanksgiving starts when I decide to give it to the other person. Yes, that means no harboring resentment that the third scotch may bring forth. It instead requires me to aim higher: it requires me to see that I am just a guilty of breaking peace as the peace breaker because I won't forgive as the Gospel demands.

9.) Communion, Holy or Otherwise, Requires a Gift of Self
Man, is this hard for people to see. Christ pours out His life so that sins may be forgiven and that we may be brought into oneness with Him. Thanksgiving is a micro-communion moment. It is the chance to build with those whom we see not so often and wish to deal with even less so. But for that to happen I will have to give of myself. I will have to extend something to the other person, perhaps something that will cost me quite a lot.

10.) When It's Done, It Really Isn't Over.
Here is the kicker. Once the dishes are soaking and everyone is in a turkey induced coma, the effect of Thanksgiving isn't over yet. In the days to come, perhaps you will sense a need to talk more with your mom. Perhaps, you will finally go over to your sister's house after many months of avoiding her because she made you mad. Whatever. If Thanksgiving, as a secular holiday, is to transcend the merely secular, it must oblige us to build more things to be thankful for and to be more aware of all that we have been given.

Happy Thanksgiving -- just a skosh early.
Translation Makes All the Difference
Better than Ebert's Thumbs Up!
Book Recommendation: Living the Mysteries: A Guide for Unfinished Christians by Scott Hahn and Mike Aquilina

For the inaugural book recommendation, I thought I would recommend a book I have used for adult formation in my parish. This book has enriched (their words, not mine) their comprehension of both Church history and their own participation of the life of the Church. Here's what you get.

Synopsis: The book is arranged as a experience of the post-Easter instruction which was common in the early Church. Even after an extended time of formation, the novice Christians would spend the weeks after Easter further unpacking the theological mysteries they had been instructed in. The book contains the writings of 7 Church Fathers on seven specific subjects which are meant to "round out" one's knowledge and experience of the Faith. The writings are short selections so that one can both read a little and think a little and pray a little.

Purpose: Most Christians have never experienced this immediate sense of conversion, of change from one way of life to another. They grow up being Christian and therefore it is as exciting as air. They know no other way of being than this one, of being a Christian. What I have noted in the folks who have read this book with me in our classes is an awakening, as though something was incomplete, waiting to be tapped and activated. In some sense, they come to know that needfulness of conversion in order to live an authentic Christian life. Therefore, I heartily recommend this book to all our readers.

BONUS: Because I have been working with people reading this book, I have composed a series of discussion/reflection questions for each of the weeks. Don't expect these every time, but because we have them, I am passing the savings on to you. The questions will be posted on Apologize and Don't Be Sorry so that it will remain at the top of the page longer. Also, here is the link to Our Sunday Visitor so that you can purchase it easily.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

What is the value of books?

I was glancing through my recent copy of Entertainment Weekly and found an inset about movie adaptions of various books. The piece's title was "Reel Lit: See the Movies or Hit the Books?" and featured four books/movies: Jarhead, Bee Season, Shopgirl, and Derailed. In each case, and for disparate reasons, the reviewer gave the nod to the book over the movie.

Now, I recognize that this is a debate perennial since the advent of film. The relative merits of film versions over book originals has filled the gullets of unnumbered, unnamed, unfettered film students to the point that you wonder if the message is getting across -- the book is almost always better. As a matter of point, I can think of only one book which fell short of the movie. That book was Stephen King's The Shining. Stanley Kubrick's film literally creeped me out, where King's book literarily didn't. Kubrick's film still creeps me out every time I see it. King's book failed to have the same effect, although I must confess to having read it after being exposed to Kubrick's vision. I have many times gone back to source material after seeing movie versions and have always found the book superior, so take that for what it's worth.

In our own time, we have many people forecasting the death of the book. Even in a time when a certain British boy-wizard can post amazing sales, it becomes more evident that as a culture we are becoming generally less literate. When I speak of literacy, I am not referring merely to the power of translated squiggly cuneform symbols. Literacy is knowledge and appreciation of the canon of one's own cultural product. It is the power to smile at the mere mention of a book for you understand why that book, that tale, mattered in the larger story of man. It was telling that as I browsed the yearbook of a Oklahoma middle school (and forget asking which one, because "I'll never tell") the students were asked who was their favorite actor/actress, movie, and tv show. No one was asked what ranked as their favorite book, magazine, or literary figure. If this oversight comes from the students, that has one set of meanings. If this oversight comes from the teacher-supervisor of the yearbook, that is truly problematic, at least in appearance.

Which brings me back to the question I started from: What is the value of books? Books are the necessary memory and transmission of that which is truly human. Only within the covers of a book can one experience the nearness intimacy of true interpersonal exchanges. As you read non-fiction, you must listen and consider what the argument the author is presenting. As you do this, you become engaged in the debate. It cannot merely wash past you as a series of immaterial, insubstantial images; rather, the author and the reader engage in a dialogue. You may walk away changed for the better. You may fling the book across the room in a fit of pique. Either way, you got something that was completely unexpected in the process.

Again, look to a classic work of fiction or even the best seller. There is a moment of sharing across the ebony lines of print. You are the director, the actor, the viewer, the appreciative mind who must cast every character in flesh and blood. And standing in the background of the mental stage is the author, the author who first met these people in his psychic playground. You have continued to breathe life into those who didn't first belong to you. And those new people teach, they direct, they give us the things we need.

Lastly, only a book can really make you think. A movie unfortunately is too easily dismissed as phantom, as a dream one wakes from. The book's solidity allows the reader to set it down. The movie runs on and on to its conclusion. Yes, I can pause a DVD but it still isn't the same. The book invites me to go back, to re-tread the same pages over, to savor. From the silence of salient savoring, the illuminintive moment is born. The movie wants you to get to the end. It fairly screams "Have I got more to show you!" and grasping at your wrist like an impetuous child, drags you away from the thing you wanted to think about.

If you want to know where all this comes from, you can blame Ray Bradbury. In eighth grade, Ms. Devoe made us read Fahreinheit 451, a story about a totalitarian future in which books are burned by firemen. In the book, one fireman recognizes the wrong being perpetrated and eventually escapes this world and joins the ranks of refugees from this bookless sphere. Each of the refugees takes it upon themselves to memorize one book; they literally become the book in the hopes that one day the book can be restored to life and to reality on page. As an impressionable eighth grader, that truly hit me. Each of us could become the book we read for if the book leads us deeper into reality, through the processes of reason, then we find that the book has become integrated into our world. It becomes a new colored piece in the lead glass collage of stained glass through which all of us see the world.

So here's the deal. Each Friday, I will try to have a new book to recommend to our readers. Each review will have a brief synopsis and a brief commentary on why I think it is important to read. However, unlike the recently defunct book club, there will be no questions, no discussion, no obligation. It will be your job to figure out what to do with that book.

UPDATE: Not to say I told you so, but permit this glowing review of the latest Harry Potter movie further demonstrate my point.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

When you are looking for something more substantial...

you can go over to my other blog, Apologize and Don't Be Sorry! It carries my articles that I write for the Sooner Catholic, our local diocesan newspaper. This week, I help someone know what to do with their mom's ashes. You'll have to go over there to see what I mean.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

One step forward; two steps back
Well, I found an e-mail today informing me that our diocesan library had finally gone online. This will allow persons to check the library catalog from home and even have materials mailed to them for temporary use. I must say this is a noteworthy step in our diocese which is terribly behind the curve in the use of modern technology and communication media. Also, I want to be clear that I am sure it was very hard and long work to get everything catalogued for an online service. Those who so labored are to be congratulated. So, I visited the online catalog to check some of the offerings of the library.

Though there are many good books housed there, I was disturbed that my (admittedly litmus test-like) search turned up plenty of offerings from dubiously orthodox theologians (that's being unnecessarily generous) such as Hans Kung, and Charles Curran. Sad to say, but it was no surprise to see that the search turned up these volumes. I guess I'll have to request my copy of Curran's "Absolutes in Moral Theology?" and keep it past its due date in the hopes that it won't infect someone else!

Just when it seemed the library had made an advance worth celebrating... Now this will likely mean that more people will have access to bad theology. It's another example of one step forward, two steps back!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Vote for Kingfisher ONCE PER DAY
I want to thank the many of you who have voted and are voting for Kingfisher (and those outside of the United States who have attempted to do so) in the American Dream Town competition. Kingfisher is still lagging behind. The town that is currently in first place took an enormous jump last week in the polls. I don't know what they did and are doing, but Kingfisher continues to be far behind.

So, once again, with much thanks for what has already been done on behalf of Kingfisher, I am hoping to unleash the power of the blog to help Kingfisher in the polls. Here is the link to my earlier post with a more detailed explanation of the competition. From that post you can link to the competition web site to vote. For those who would simply like to go directly the web site in order to vote, click here for the American Dream Town web site.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

(Magic) Eight ball, side pocket
After my move to Guymon a few years ago, visits to my spiritual director in Wichita became less frequent -- a sad consequence of the distance from Wichita to the Oklahoma Panhandle. I would see my director every few months and I always hoped that some day, I could return to a more frequent pattern of attendance at spiritual direction. Then Pope John Paul II threw a further wrench into that plan when he decided to name my former spiritual director a bishop. Ever since then I have been without a director.

Fr. Tharp, in his sollicitude for the spiritual life, became so concerned at one point that I have a director that he bought me a Magic Eight Ball (you know, the thing you ask questions and then turn over to see the answer), telling me something like this: "Hey, I don't support magic or wizardry, but you need a director other than yourself so badly that even asking a Magic Eight Ball would be better than your current arrangement [of being without a director]!" So that has been an ongoing joke between us ever since.

Well, I am happy to report the end of my solo pool game and I declare: Magic Eight Ball, side pocket! Yes, I have made arrangements to return to Wichita to begin direction with a different priest this time. It is the same priest Fr. Tharp visits for spiritual direction. The director has kindly offered to make room in his schedule for me and so Fr. Tharp and I will probably plan on tearing up I-35 together on a monthly basis or so as we arrange back-to-back direction appointments in Wichita. Of course, since the director and I don't know each other well, we will begin on a probationary period of sorts ... but here's hoping it all works out and I can again have spiritual direction! So, dear readers, should you ever be near I-35 north of Oklahoma City and south of Wichita, Kansas, you just may see Fr. Tharp's Batmobile (the tinted window, black Avalon) speeding along, carrying not only one ragemonkey, but both!

Of course, this may mean we have to develop a security detail or at least a decoy car so that some malefactor doesn't take out the whole ragemonkey team in one fell swoop!
Bringing the Pandemic Straight To You!

Well, it's official. I have the bird flu. No, I really mean it. Look at the facts: 1.)While visiting San Francisco I was in Chinatown, 2.) Last Sunday, before the onset of bird flu, I visited a Japanese restaurant, and 3.) I like fried chicken. Clearly, the asiatic influences have gotten the better of my immune system.

All jesting aside, although I actually do have the flu, this bird flu situation is both scary and irritating. Scary because pandemics are generally bad; irritating because the news people don't understand anything about molecular biology. Now, I can't count a degree in advanced immunology among my personal achievements, but one thing I do know is that viruses tend to stay in a species until it adapts to the defenses of a new creature and then moves in. Once it has moved in, then it begins to become a new subspecies of the original. This is relevant given the fact that people are trying to make vaccines for a virus that currently hasn't made the full jump to humans, and when that virus does jump, will be different from the virus the vaccine was derived from. Hence, it will probably be worthless.

Why did I post this chipper piece of info.? Because if I have to lay around nauseated and feverish and miserable, then the rest of you are going to get a little taste of it too.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Hilarity, as you would expect!
As I was typing that last post, Fr. Tharp called and we were speaking via speaker phone as I typed. I think readers will get a kick out of envisioning what happened next. I kept repeatedly signing on and off of Instant Message, so as to annoy Fr. Tharp with the accompanying sign on and sign off noise on his end of the computer. So, he simply signed off himself and then began pontificating to me about my nonsense. So, in mid sentence as Fr. Tharp was speaking, I simply hung up the phone! Yes, folks, the monkeys are ripping up the forest again!
Doctrine of devils?
Well, I had a grand time this evening speaking to juniors and seniors in our youth group about priestly celibacy. It went very well. They were interested and engaged and they seemed to get the message. I was impressed how they responded and nodded in agreement as I spoke. All in all, it inspired some hope in the future among this group of young Catholics.
Good for you, Mr. President

Can't you just hear the Chinese representative saying, in perfect Mandarin, "Hey, don't talk to him. Can't you see we aren't through oppressing him and his country?"
Reporting Some Sad News

I wanted to report to all of our readers some sad news. Fr. J.C. Garrett, former East Coast coorespondant for CRM, emailed me with the news that his father has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. He requested your prayers for his father and for his family. As the family is asking the intercession of John Paul the Great to cure Mr. Garrett, I thought the following prayer would be helpful.

God of Mercy and of Justice,
you graciously deigned to give to your Church a firm foundation stone as she travels
her pilgrim way in the world.
Your Son called Simon the Apostle, Peter, making him the rock upon which the Church would be founded.
In the successors of St. Peter, we hear you speaking, strengthening the faith of your children, demonstrating that you have not left us orphans.
You have, in every age and in every place, led the people claimed by your Son
through the visible shepherd of our unity.
We praise you for your generous care for our souls.

In our own time, you have blessed the Church with an outstanding example of truth and virtue in the person of John Paul II.
He made of himself a gift, freely and totally given, to your Son through His Blessed Mother.
Despite sorrow in his life, he has called us, in your name, to be not afraid,
to set out into deep water, to not settle for mediocrity.
We praise you and thank you for your generosity.

If it be in accordance with your will, raise this holy man to the glories of the altar.
Manifest in our times signs and wonders which demonstrate that he rests now in the glory of Heaven.
By his intercession, I bring my petition to you. (Mention your petition here.)

Glory and honor to you, through your Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit,
now and until the ages of man run dry.

We ask these things through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Attention well deserved

My spiritual director just returned a few days back from visiting Clear Creek and spoke very highly of the foundation. I guess this means I have a trip to Hulbert, OK coming up in my future.
Applications for the Starfleet Academy being taken NOW!

And you don't think TV influences the course of culture and society?

Monday, November 07, 2005

Give Kingfisher a helping hand
Kingfisher, Oklahoma, where I reside in my new parish, is one of three Oklahoma towns nominated to receive a make-over of sorts. The organization offering this gift is American Dream Town. After the nomination phase, people who log on and register (by submitting an e-mail address) can vote up to once a day during the voting phase. Here is where you, faithful reader, come in.

Kingfisher has been lagging behind in the voting (currently in second place). I wonder if you could help us along by logging on and voting for Kingfisher. It is very simple to do. And, don't forget, you can vote once per day (which I really hope you will do).

Follow this link to American Dream Town. From this page, click on the State of Oklahoma (for those who are Midwest Plains-challenged, that is the state above Texas which looks like a square with a long, thin handle on the left side). After clicking on Oklahoma, a page with the three Oklahoma towns nominated should appear. To vote for Kingfisher, look to the right of the screen where there is a little box beside each town's name. Click on the word "vote" above that box (Note: Clicking on the box itself will take you to an obnoxious ad). You will have to register by giving your e-mail address, and making up a password. After that, you are asked to re-type a confirmation code which is given on your screen. It's as simple as that and it will register a vote one time per day.

Please help us out. Polls are open until December 1st. As of this post Kingfisher is about 1,000 votes behind another Oklahoma town. Different towns are nominated in each state. And, as far as I know, you don't have to reside in Oklahoma in order to vote for a town. So, bloggers and blog readers, make your presence and force known by rocketing Kingfisher to the top of Oklahoma's American Dream Town list!

Friday, November 04, 2005

Talk about a real Habitat for Humanity

Former President Carter has stepped forward and taken a decisive step in leading his political brethren. I say, "Hail and well-met." It is poorly timed in that the Alito nomination is on hold for now, but maybe that will give people time to reflect.

This is really good to see though and it bodes well for the Democratic party, if they will make anything of it. However, it doesn't dissuade me from my opinion that the U.S. needs a Christian-principled political party.
The First Step in the Rise of the Hegemony: Registration of Elect Members

Okay, not to be bossy, but I am going to insist that everyone please take a moment and register with our new tracking map. This way, I can coordinate my paramilitary efforts into areas where resistance to the Hegemony is highest.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Take us down to DEFCON 2 and get the Pope on the horn!
Yes, allow me to borrow our national defense condition terminology and apply it to an ecclesial usage.

Much to my chagrin I caught a commercial this evening alerting viewers that tomorrow (November 4th) on the TODAY show on NBC there will a segment "Inside Opus Dei". The add promised an explanation of this secret society within the Church.

Oh, Lord, help us! I can only imagine the stupidity with which this subject will be approached. Therefore, I declare: Take us down to DEFCON 2 and get the Pope on the horn!
Fear and Loathing in Kingfisher
For a few years now I have rested secure in my spot as an associate pastor or as the Pastor of a parish which did NOT have a school. But now I am Pastor where there is a school. I love it and I love what a school adds to the life of the parish. However, a day appears to be on the horizon which I have long dreaded. It is a day I loved mocking other Pastors about. But the light of this day appears to now be breaking into my foggy, still dawn. You guessed it! It is the day when Father gets to talk to an older class about what we sheepishly call the "facts of life".

The drama of young teenage lives, of crushes, of so-called dating, and of spurned teen love seems to be making its ripple effect in our little pond, much like a gigantic boulder thrown into an otherwise still pool.

Don't get me wrong. It is not that I am totally uncomfortable speaking to kids about sexual love. I can do that (if I have to!). However, I want to do this well and I don't in any way want to impart a version of "sex education" that could best be called the "Parts is Parts Approach". In other words, I want to provide something for the kids that helps them understand what is going on in their lives now, but which also helps them see the beauty and meaning of sexuality. The problem is I am not sure how to approach this; how to avoid the caveat of the presentation being simply what you might get at a generic health fair.

I guess I express these feelings in the hopes that some reader may know of a good, sound, and faith-based program or booklet which might help me come up with some good ideas about how to go about presenting this important topic to the kids (7th and 8th graders).

I don't envy Fr. Tharp's presentation on the Spanish Inquisition. I hope to avoid a practicum on the Inquisition in mine!
Thank You, Ladies

It is just me or is this a good sign for the culture? Discuss.
Did Video Kill the Radio Star?

Music purists often claim that with the advent of the music video the pure notion of song has been eliminated from the common experience. In a certain sense, the video imposes an "interpretation" of the song over the lyrics and remaining music craft. It's akin to the effect a movie treatment of a book has on the reader. From now on, anyone who reads the LOTR will invoke the image of Sean Astin when they read the name "Sam Gamgee."

Now, I can't claim that music purists don't have a point. Performance is an elusive reality and therefore the power of music sometimes can't be reclaimed after the instances of the needle dropping to vinyl. Sorry, I meant the excited light particle effusion strikes the magnetically changed ditigal broadcast medium. The first time you hear a song and it excites your imagination only comes, you guessed it, once. But this doesn't mean we have to demonize the video as part of the performance reality.

Case in point is Fiona Apple's new album Extraordinary Machine. I have been a fan of Fiona from the first track I heard from her debut, Tidal. (Did you catch the pun?) In this new album, I have purchased my first DualDisc in which one side of the disc is a CD and the reverse is a DVD. When I listened to "Not About Love" the first time, I had the sense this was a clever way to describe the conflict about break-up of a relationship. The lyrical logic jumps from "Glad that jerk is gone" to "I miss that stupid ape." Then I flipped the disc to watch the video of the same song and was treated to a whole new sense of the song. In this version, the very talented Zach Galifinakis lipsyncs the song. The scenery shifts between Apple and Galifinakis laying in bed, fully clothed and Zach cavorting around what I presume is the Venice Beach area. The video imagery introduced a new and complimentary notion of the song as a duet. Essentially the chorus "This is not about love..." could be seen as the man saying "enough" while the verses are the woman who both loves the stupid ape and wants him out. But at the same time as Zach read and lipsynced you could easily interpret that action as mocking his erstwhile love. She leaves the letter (the lyrics) in a hope of making him feel really, really bad and his response is "So what? this is not about love." Isn't that cool?

However, with all that said, I am not reactivating MTV on the rectory TV...
The Beginning of the Re-Education of Fr. Tharp: Chapter I

They arrived today. On a whim and thanks to, they arrived today. I had had been feeling the need to re-connect with the vital roots of the Church's teaching. Today, the key tool arrived. Yes, I have my five volume Summa Theologica sitting on my kitchen table. It was a repulsive scene, watching me rub the first volume against my jawline and smelling the faux leather bindings. My contented purring rose from my need to open Thomas immediately and bask in his doubly reflected glory.

So begins the re-education. There are so many key works by so many key figures that I still need to read. How will I ever make room for science fiction, murder mysteries, and FINALLY the end of the Wheel of Time series.
The Fulfillment of a Vietnamese Proverb in My Time

Last night during the Newman Society meeting, one of the local Spanish professors asked me to come and do a presentation on the Spanish Inquistion for his upper level Spanish seminar next Friday. Of course, I readily agreed. I love taking on debunkable myths.

However, then I started thinking through the research I was going to have to do. Then I realized how poorly most of these kids, I was willing to bet, had on European history. So now I am in a virtual panic, and all over a 20-25 minute presentation. What I love (or loathe, ask which tomorrow) most is the fact one of local Protestant minister will be coming to another class to provide an "alternative interpretation." Gaaaah! It just leaves me foaming at the mouth which brings me to the title of the post.

Twee was a friend of my sister's. She would with my sister in the pharmacy of a major OKC Catholic hospital for many years before Twee moved away. I suspect, that Twee was in part responsible for my sister's return to the Faith and my subsequent conversion. After meeting me on one occasion, Twee told my sister this rather ominous piece of information. Apparently, among the Vietnamese, to be born with a freckle on your lip, like myself, meant that your mouth was going to get you into trouble. Considering the considerable head ache this presentation on the Inquisition will create for me, I would say my mouth got me into a world of hurt.

I'll keep you posted on the outcome.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Just when you thought my Starfleet Uniform for Catholic Chaplains was an fever dream of a dork like me...

...IBM sets the stage for the isolinear chip of Next Gen fame. What would 1/300th of the speed of light clock in at, assuming you haven't changed the outcome by observing it.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Speaking of the Holy Rosary as Powerful Lasso

Eddy at To Jesus Through Mary has asked all of us to join him in a Rosary Novena for his mother who has lapsed from the practice of the Faith. No details are offered and none are being requested. Since you have to pray your Rosary anyway, you might as well aim your intercession at this issue. If it is no offence to Eddy and his needs right now, please remember all lapsed Catholics, especially those living in your parish.
Disturbing revelation
Grand juries, indictments, Supreme Court nominees and more have been all the talk in D.C. and the nation of late. But something else sort of slipped under the media radar and I think it deserves some attention and a prompt response. Just yesterday, the Diocesan News Network (DNN) announced a most disturbing revelation: The Chairman of the Pastoral Council at Fr. Tharp's parish is Scooter Libby!
>This still doesn't justify that costume of the killer from Scream hanging in your closet...

but it totally justifies my new standard costume of myself as GKC and my working costume of myself as John the Baptist with real oozing neck stump.
Oooh, Snap, Matt Lauer!

After Holy Mass for the Solemnity of All Saints', I sat down to a lovely breakfast of toast, eggs, and sausage. Yes, yes, how very Devonshire of me. Anyway, I was flipping through television channels (or should that be telly?) and who appeared on the Today Show but newest Ragemonkey reader, Anne Rice. Matt Lauer was interviewing her and Anne was giving her very best to the moment. The classic line from Mrs. Rice, for all those who hate, hate, hate, etc., The DaVinci Code, came when Matt Lauer, standing in a puddle of his own drool, asked if she was going to say anything about the married relationship (then he quickly recovered, amending his statement, with "alleged") of Christ and Mary Magdalene. She replied, "I am going to say only that which appears in the four Gospels, and THERE IS NO RELATIONSHIP there." You'll forgive the paraphrase but you get the gist. Rice's works are not going to go the way of D.B.'s lunacy. Huzzah!

What this means is I will be further bankrupting myself by swinging over to Amazon later this morning.