Friday, March 31, 2006

New Link: A Kickin' Outreach for College Students

Just something to consider if you are looking for something in reaching college students for the Catholic Faith. I met these folks a couple of years back and I am gratified to see them grow well.
That's why you use them for emergencies only...
It's on its way

After sending in a covert strike team to eliminate all opposition in Wilmington, OH, my Compendium has been liberated from the clutches of well-meaning folks who wanted to be formed. It is Oklahoma City and out for delivery. Oooooh, I can't wait. I think the RCIA and Confirmation kids next year are going to be surprised!
I know that I am early, but the listeners will not be appeased!

This morning, I read on air the prayer I composed for the canonization of John Paul II. That's right; Relevant Radio still hasn't tired of my usual schtick. So for all RR listeners who wanted the text of the prayer here it is:

Prayer for the Canonization of John Paul the Great.

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.
We praise you for your generous care for our souls.
You have, in every age and in every place, led the people claimed
by your Son through the visible shepherd of our unity.

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.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Where in the World is Fr.'s Copy of the Compendium?

Thanks to the power of the Internet (yeah, Internet!), I can track my bundle of theological fun as it wends its way to me. Today, those of you living in Wilmington, OH, have the privilege of knowing that you are living in radioactive proximity to my copy of the Compendium of the Catholic Church. Do you suddenly feel like St. Augustine after his baptism by St. Ambrose, ready to rise up and teach the Faith to others? It's that groovy power of Faith. Faith, since it is a virtue and is a positive act, allows one to build up the Body, so tonight, I am praying night prayer for the people of Wilmington, that they would take seriously our Lord's call to evangelize all the nations.

Tomorrow, I will update you as to where my Compendium is, but it will be light as I have sick calls, marriage prep, and an elegy on John Paul II to write. Hint: it will have several quotes from the Dream of Gerontius.
A Point of Clarification

In a recent post, I made reference to enemies in the title of my post and the linked article mentioned non-Christians. Does Fr. Tharp think that non-Christians are enemies?

Well, no. It was a momentarily lapse of verbage.

The word I wanted was "opponents." Not that I make a blanket assertion that everyone who is not a Catholic is an opponent of mine. I certainly have Catholic people who get up in my face on a regular basis. However, this may not satisfy some readers: does Fr. Tharp think of non-Catholics as opponents and is that right?

Well, the short answer is a yes with qualifications.

You have to concede that when you read a Jack Chick tract which refers to the Most Blessed Sacrament as "The Death Cookie," this guy is not on your side. And when a religion 'respects' Jesus as a prophet but openly speaks against Him as God, then that person too is not exactly on your side. It doesn't mean that you can't be cordial or friendly or even charitible to the other person. You are simply acknowleding differences between people. And quite frankly, that is a step in the right direction.

Like it or not, we all don't see eye to eye. There is nothing more dangerous to healthy, religious and philosophical dialogue than ignoring that there are real, substantive differences between peoples and groups. However, and this was the point in making this link, when even those who don't agree with you see the value of the life and legacy of someone whose own co-religionist often derided and mocked as "that old man in Rome," claiming that "once he's dead, the new Pope will change things," that says an awful lot for the person in question. In other words, we all loved you, John Paul. Please pray for us.

So, to everyone who was shocked and/or offended, my apologies for a hasty post.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Right On Schedule
What does it mean when your enemies are on your side?
That's to be assumed when you are not interested in bringing things together
Are we sure he isn't crazy?
I guess Nixon isn't the only one.

I'll get it on my Rosary Intentions. Wouldn't be funny if Benedict breaks down the Communists of China as John Paul broke down the Russian edition?
My jaws are slavering with anticipation...

to place the Compendium of the Catechism in my hands to read and assess how to use it for my fiendish plans. What fiendish plans? The fiendish plan to enlighten as many folks about Christ and His Church as I can in one sitting. So, go order one NOW!

Friday, March 24, 2006

With or without a House?
Okay, so help me. I am supposed to feel badly for him or what?

I mean if he went into a movie, not expecting to make money, then if he cut himself out of any money, isn't that his fault?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

A Miracle in My Back Yard?

Well, sorta. Apparently, a consecrated Host at one of the parish's in the Diocese of Dallas has miraculously started bleeding. I can only find sketchy reports from other bloggers with no direct news reports. Anybody else seen this one?

If it is authenticated, this would be a really powerful tool for evangelization in the area. It might even spark a new series of conversions in the area, not to mention on the larger scene too.
What His Behavior Reminds Me Of

Remember in the 80's all the buzz about the shocking new sci-fi miniseries about aliens coming to earth only to discover that they weren't all that benevolent. No, I am not referring to "Diantics"; I am referring to "V".

In this excellent, for the time, miniseries, we encounter valient humans racing to save humanity from evil lizard aliens who want us for dinner. After seeing Tom Cruise's wacked out behavior, I keep expecting to see Tom Cruise having his face pulled off, revealing the handsome face is a plastic mask and the lizardy mouse-eater lurking underneath.

Tom, stop jumping on the furniture. Your baby's momma needs you.
Well, I guess this guy seeks to put the "sin" in syncretism"

I love it when the email filter misses something and lands a lovely website into my hands. Once again, tolerance rears up as the obliterator of truth or at least, one form of tolerance. Certainly, tolerance in the form of loving respect for another human being should be encouraged, but let's just call it "charitable respect" and be done with it. Tolerance unfortunately now is used as a code word for "all hail relativism."

Take for instance the website author's comment that he "embrace[s] the principle of Divine Love for all human beings irrespective of religion, creed or color." Sounds good, right? Love is not a principle; it is not an abstract ideal to be pursued. Love exists in the gift of one person to another who make reciprocate that love. Therefore, it would follow that in this statement, the author conceives of God as a principle or perhaps as non-personal. This of course will not jibe with orthodox Christianity and Judaism or even Islam for that matter.

Being dogmatic is not a sin, people. It means having a core set of beliefs at heart. And if this webmaster is so concerned about "imposing beliefs", then why is his book targeting Christians? If I didn't know better, I would think that he was suggesting that Christians need his special understanding of how to take the "shortcut to Heaven." But he couldn't be doing that; that would be intolerant.

And that's another thing. The only way you can assume that God has no religion is to dogmatically assume that all religions are the constructs of men. For Jews and Christians, we don't believe that. To suggest that there is a definitive religion which comes from God doesn't contradict the idea that God loves everyone. If anything, a universal religion which corrects the errors of all previous works of men would actually be a big boon to most folks. Ask the kids of central America how they felt about Christianity when it appeared and said, "You don't have to offered up on a stone altar to a flying serpent to appease God." I would bet they would be a mite grateful.

So, once again, the groovy Gnostics are back. I will take my religion of Christ who dies for all, offers salvation to all, and reveals Himself to all equally. That seems more tolerant, if you ask me.
You ask; I blog

The public affairs officer with the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast pinged me and wanted me to let you, our faithful reader base, know what's happening. So, rather than re-type everything, I thought I would reproduce the attachment sent to me.

It reads:
3rd Annual National Catholic
Prayer Breakfast Announced

March 7, 2006 703-739-5920 or 800-536-5920

WASHINGTON— The National Catholic Prayer Breakfast Board of Directors today announced the 3rd annual breakfast will take place in Washington, D.C. on Friday, April 7, guest speakers and the schedule of events.

“We were blessed with tremendous success last year, with more than 1,600 people in attendance,” National Catholic Prayer Breakfast President Joseph Cella stated. “We were especially pleased to host the President of the United States and a number of prominent leaders. Based on the growing interest, we have expanded the activities around the prayer breakfast to maximize opportunities for those who plan to attend, especially many who are traveling from various parts of the country.”

Mass will be held Thursday evening, April 6 at 6:30 p.m. at St. Matthew’s Cathedral with His Eminence Theodore Cardinal McCarrick serving as principal celebrant and homilist. Mass will be followed by an evening reception.

The prayer breakfast will be held the following morning at the Hilton Washington Hotel beginning at 7:00 a.m. on April 7. The keynote speaker at the breakfast will be His Excellency Robert Morlino, Bishop of the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin. EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo and Fr. Paul McDermott, O.P., who is responsible for reconstruction of Catholic schools in the New Orleans area, will also speak. Catholic Theologian Scott Hahn and Fr. Benedict Groeschel, will give a talk following the breakfast


Thursday, April 6 6:30 p.m. Mass at St. Matthew’s Cathedral
1725 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington
Followed by reception
Friday, April 7 7:00 a.m. Breakfast at Hilton Washington
1919 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.
Followed by educational program

The annual event was created in 2004 in response to beloved Pope John Paul II’s appeal for a “New Evangelization,” and is a way to spread the Word of the Gospel. For more information, log onto To schedule an interview, please call Diana Banister at (703)739-5920.

Now, I would love to go, but that is merely days before Holy Week, the maddest time of the year for a priest. To schlep it out to the east coast and then blaze back for the weekend, I would be exhausted. This should not stop those interested in seeing me and Fr. Hamilton (after all, if only one goes, it isn't the real Ragemonkey experience) in plying us with promises and gifts. =ahem= Be that as it may, this is a good thing I think something worth pursuing if you can. And think, if you go, you might bump into Paris while you are there. (To understand reference, look where it will be held. That's hot.)
This sounds about right to me

First, a biretta tip to Tom and his family who henceforth shall be known as the enforcer-monkey and his troop. I had dinner at the strategic outpost and tactical planning center which was enjoyed by all. However, that meal got out of control as Fr. H, beta RM, showed up and then Fr. J. Irwin, Minion-in-Training, also came by. The enforcer-monkey and his troop are a blessing to every priest who knows them. He is the one who browbeat me into posting this link.

I don't find this method all that odd. It would fit the character of the "post-synodal exhortation" to address the concrete practicalities of the liturgy rather than an encyclical which would focus more on the nature of the liturgy itself. Either way, I am pleased to see this come. It adds heft to the argument about how the liturgy should be celebrated according to the mind of the Church. And before someone says it, no, Pope Benedict cannot be dismissed as not knowing what the Council intended as he was a PARTICIPANT in it and you were not. Everyone happy now?
What does it mean if he doesn't answer?

Does it prove the assertion that he and the rest of the deceased Beatles actually were bigger than Jesus? Does the non-answer show that they have a very good call screener wherever they are? No, it just goes to show you that even if you slaughter the prophets of Baal, some member of their cadre slinks off and puts on a new costume.
I know my gut reaction is wrong: however, I would like to unleash the real deadly power at Opus Dei's disposal -- the members who are civil attorneys.

Let's just face it. If these people didn't believe in accepting persecution, the legal eagles would be on the warpath!
Well, I hate to say that I saw this coming...

...this is the problem. The instant you tell the amorphous governmental state that "No, I don't want to drink the Kool-Aid," it roars and prepares to chew you up and spit you out. You laugh, but remember: the Roman persecutions began over not offering a pinch of incense to a man deified by the senate. It isn't a big leap to land on "you don't accept homosexuality is so wonderful-licious" and spew out "maybe you don't deserve equal rights."

So, folks, it's time to pray again. It's time to pray for the strength and the grace to stand even when the persecution is white (the sneer and snide comment combo). The nature of persecution eventually turns it red.
Well, I hate to say that I saw this coming...

...this is the problem. The instant you tell the amorphous governmental state that "No, I don't want to drink the Kool-Aid," it roars and prepares to chew you up and spit you out. You laugh, but remember: the Roman persecutions began over not offering a pinch of incense to a man deified by the senate. It isn't a big leap to land on "you don't accept homosexuality is so wonderful-licious" and spew out "maybe you don't deserve equal rights."

So, folks, it's time to pray again. It's time to pray for the strength and the grace to stand even when the persecution is white (the sneer and snide comment combo). The nature of persecution eventually turns it red.
"Star Wars" film legend George Lucas wants more worldly Hollywood

Ah, how could Hollywood get more worldly?
Who's Your Pastor?

As I have been dragging a very stuffy simian cranium around the rectory, trying to work up strength sufficient to continue my God-given duties (as well as my personal desire to rage and to raise a monkey fist in protest), a parishioner dropped a form through my mail slot. As I was without my glasses and was drowsing on the downstairs couch, I heard it fall but didn't respond initially. Eventually, I got up and retrieved the document and did a double take.

The form was for a scholarship that the archdiocese provides and the application requires a recommendation from the pastor. One problem: as the student in question moved to another town to go to university, he isn't my parishioner. I left a message on the parents' answering machine. I am bracing myself for an indignant phone call, suggesting that I somehow just fill it out. Of course, the form asks for information concerning whether or not he is going to Sunday Mass, which I don't know. I would like to believe that, but that won't make it so.

Here's how the Church defines the matter. The Code of Canon Law (1983) reads thus: "Through both domicile and quasi-domicile, each person acquires his or her pastor and ordinary (CIC c. 107, 1)." In other words, your pastor is based upon where you live. The Code stresses this by granting jurisdiction for the needs of transients, those who by definiton live nowhere, to the place where they are for the moment (CIC c. 107, 2). The only exception to this would be those who are members of personal prelatures.

Now, this leads to a subject which the instant I mention it, I will be assaulted in the combox forum. For too many people the parish and my pastor is determined by where I "signed up." Registration might get you the newsletter and a set of contribution envelopes, but it doesn't make you a parishioner. You are a parishioner based upon whose parish boundaries you live within. Now, I know that too many pastors don't enforce this and it has problematic consequences. For instance, if one pastor won't baptize your kiddo, because you are not practicing the Faith or are in an invalid marriage, then the temptation is to run from parish to parish to get the sacrament the way you want it. However, if you aren't practicing the Faith, the goods of Baptism will be diminished or muted completely by the fact that the household they are raised in doesn't encourage the growth in grace.

Okay, so go ahead and say it: "But Father, my pastor is a looney. Can't I go somewhere else?" Well, answer me this. If all the faithful Catholics jump ship, aren't you abandoning your fellow parishioners to the looniness? Further, aren't you surrendering your opportunity to be a positive force for change? Additionally, I would be worried that you are submitting to a "Burger King" mentality. If the pastor doesn't support this or that thing, then I am justified in leaving and "shop around." The only exception I can think of involves heresy or schism. If the pastor were invalidly celebrating the sacraments or anything along that line, then after you contact him and the bishop, then I think you could be legitimately able to go elsewhere.

So, like a family, I have to work with the father I am given, and I have to work with the family I am given. Mutual support and transformation in grace is the outcome of this.
New 'Spider-Man' Plans Scenes in Cleveland... that Drew Carey, guest starring as Mysterio, can exceed the amount of flabby white flesh we were exposed to in SM2.
Another reason to bring Latin back as a universal "lingua franca"?

At minimum, it does make that whole Esperanto thing seem reasonable...
I guess having the red hat doesn't mean giving up a day job.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

See, it isn't just me saying this...
The Power of Benedict

Okay, tonight was pretty cool. I had been feeling poorly all day today because of really awful lack of sleep. However, tonight was a cool re-energizing encounter with Christ's saving power in my parish. Let me explain.

First, at 6:30 p.m. we held evening prayer with a Eucharistic Holy Hour. I preached a brief homily on the role of being immersed in the covenant and how adoration allows us to be washed in the blood of the Lamb. It was also a solid time for reflection on the Acts of the Apostles. In my prayer I was focused upon the personal dimension of the encounter with the Apostles and how that personal exchange leads others to salvation. I was especially taken with the numinous notion that proclamation leads to suffering and persecution which leads back to proclamation and from that proclamation, conversion. So I was well prepared for the next event.

Second, at 7:30 p.m. the college students came over and we wrapped up our common reading of Deus Caritas Est. This was especially fruitful as the college students understood how love must be a work and not just a notion or an idea. Next week, we are going back to Guissani's work. I guess I will have to review how to do a School of Community. However, tonight, one of the kids brought a guest, who has been with us before. After we wrapped up, we broke up but this kid wanted to talk to me.

Now, I have to confess. I thought I was going to get in a theological throwdown over some Protestant/Catholic issue. That's not what happened.

The young man wanted to know how to be saved. Yes, you read that correctly. He wanted to be saved. I gave him a 15 minute overview of the nature of salvation and then set the stage for his conversion. I used that phrase from Acts of the Apostles 2:37-38: "And Peter said to them, 'Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'" In essence, I tried to lead the young man to see that salvation is a both/and sort of experience. In one way, it is a sudden realization -- "what shall we do?" In another way, it is a slow process based on knowing your sins and receiving the sacraments in knowledge and in faith. (By the way, this notion of multiple step conversion to Christ and His Church, in contrast to Fundamentalist ideas, permeates the New Testament. Cf. Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:16; John 3:5, 22, 26; 4:1; Acts 16:15, 33 [infant baptism allusion (iba)]; 22:16 [baptism has an effect proper to itself -- forgiveness of sins]; Titus 3:5; I Peter 3:18-22.)

Christ has been calling these people and they have been coming because they, in small and subtle ways, have heard that summons. If I hadn't been reading Acts, would I have been ready to welcome this young man, on the verge of tears, to give him a point in the right direction? How tremendous in Christ is the salvation He has in store for each of us! Of course, I give all credit for this beginning of a new conversion to Pope Benedict's encyclical. It was his conversation about the centrality of love, the absolute need to love and to be loved which reached through to this young man.

Happy Lent, kids, and pray from him.
A Prayer Request You Might Not Have Considered

This time of year seems busy for priests and religious. Trust me, it is. Running around, hearing confessions, striving for holiness, conducting all extra spiritual exercises leads us to a serious case of weary silence. It is the "lying fallow" which Lent gives to the faithful so that we can come into full bloom in the light of the Resurrected Son.

However, for priests, particularly parish priests, we have something which makes us crazy and wears us out although it really shouldn't. Now, before you read on, you might want to move past the next paragraph as it will, or potentially, disillusion you. You have been warned. Don't blame me if your perception of your pastor as the next Cure of Ars is shot to pieces.

This is time of year in which the bishops of many dioceses begin the process of making and renewing the assignments for the priests. I tend to think of the assignment process in two steps: who's staying and who's going. Ever parish benefits from the presence of a priest, but familiarity can lead to indifference to the unique presence a priest gives. Further, a parish may need to move; its parishioners may need to grow up a little bit more and the priest pastoring this flock isn't able to make that happen. So, change is in the air, even if it is not being discussed openly.

Here's where your perception of parish priests may get banged up. Every priest, unless he is just assigned last year or is particularly cool, gets a little heady and anxious at this time of year. We would like to say, "Any assignment will do," and I would speculate that that sentiment is largely true. Notice. I said "largely" not "entirely." We are an ambitious lot and we view some parishes as better than others. I will leave you to decide if that is fair; I have my mind settled.

When it comes down to it, a priest can become tired and worn in a parish as much as the parishioners are tired of him. It requires the virtue of hope to say, "Despite my feelings today, tomorrow, God will be with me and with my parish and with my diocese and with the Church. I will not be ashamed or sad." Therefore, when your priest seems a little down in the mouth, there might be good reason for it.

The third person to consider is the bishop. He has an unattractive task: he must introduce an inordinate amount of change into the lives of a great number of the people of his diocese. After disliking change in itself, we next have nothing kind to say for those who are the ones who bring change to our lives. In other words, the bishop has the ineviable task of trying to make every one happy. You all know how well that works. =ahem!=

So, while you are fasting, praying, and giving alms, please remember your pastor, your parochial vicar, and your bishop. They are all in varying degrees of turmoil. May they all discern God's will and happily submit themselves to it.
No More Spoon Feeding!

The podcasts are beginning to elict interesting insights, at least interesting to me. I have been listening to EWTN's Open Line program, essentially an entire week in one sitting (yes, I spend a long time in the car), and I have noticed a very interesting tendency on the show.

No matter who the presenter is, you get the same questions more or less.

You heard me. I listened to an entire week and there were at least 10 questions which kept coming up. Further, many of these questions are painfully elementary, such as a Cradle Catholic from Ireland asking, "What is a Doctor of the Church?" The questioner sounded like an older chap and this is what made me particularly sad. How is it that a guy goes through practicing the Faith for all these years and never running afoul of such a simple designation? Further, why did he have to call an American radio show to get the answer?

Now, I know there are some of our readers who are thinking, "Hey, Father, while you are on it, what is a Doctor of the Church?" Not surprising, frankly: if one person asks, as I say, then 10 people are thinking it.

But I'm not telling you. That's right. I am not telling you, not in this post at least. Here's why.

Too often, people have lots of questions. You could think of each question and its respective answer represent a point on a grid. If a person asks you a passel of questions, what does the person end the encounter with? A series of dots spread through the map, but without any necessary connections. Without necessary connections, you will not remember or import that data into your heart and mind.

So, I am calling a moritorium on random questions, or rather, I am enacting a basic barter system. You may ask a question but be prepared for me to hand a book to you. That's right; I am not spoon feeding folks for very much longer. Yes, I recognize that not everyone can handle the same things or might not be "far enough along" to do big things. Reading a book or listening a tape or downloading a podcast is not a big thing. But there are lots and lots of Catholics who have never been encouraged to go farther. The downside to this is telling; people stop acting like the Faith has anything to say, because all they have in their mind is a series of unconnected ideas and facts.

Maybe this applies to you. Think about it. When was the last time you did anything to grow in your knowledge and comprehension of the Faith.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Additional Podcasts

I have linked up to Mark Shea's podcast and EWTN's feeds. I am going to try to add Cardinal Arinze's as well, although these looks like are video feeds, so I have no clue what will happen if these end up on my no-name MP3P.

Any suggestions on someone else's podcasts I should link, other than the AnswerB!tch on EOnline (and yes, she is a real person.)
Becoming a Borg-Like Entity

I have finally purchased an MP3 player and have already gotten some of the kinks worked out. I have one question, maybe two.

1.) If I don't have a RSS device, can I use Windows Media Player to make that happen?

2.) If you are using Feedburner, how do you make it upload to MP3 Device?

I am currently listening to Mark Shea and it is so good. He is soooo snotty. I love it! Quite frankly, though, this headache of getting the parts to cooperate with one another has made me as furious as a wolverine strung out on crystal meth. However, if you all know a ferret, who might know a weasel, who knows a mink, who knows an entertainment lawyer, who could explain how to make this thing work, I would appreciate the feedback.
"In America we tend to erase women after 40," so opines Sharon Stone. I would say, "Try 30."

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Distressing and Weird

and yet, plausible...
More Formation-licious Content from Disputations

The college students here at my parish have really gotten a lot out of Benedict's first encyclical. Let's hope there are more perking in the queue...

Tom at Disputations gives an outline of what his presentation on the encyclical looked like. You might find something, quite a few somthings, useful in that link.
From the "Would the Last One Out, Get the Lights" File

Thanks to ex-Ragemonkey Fr. Garret for forwarding this link to me.
I made the callback!

As most of you reader type people know, I have written a book aimed at filling the gap in the adult formation market. Namely, it is a book in which you study a solid source of theological information (the Catechism of the Catholic Church) with other people in the parish over an extended period of time (one year or 40 weeks if you want to be really, really specific) so that you can begin to connect the "dots" of your knowledge and experience of the Faith. It's a little project what I named, "The Borromeo Project."

Also, as most readers know, I have been shopping this book around for about a year or two now, with very little interest. I can summarize every conversation I had with publishers thusly:
Them: "Hey, we really like this."
Me: "Thanks."
Them: "No, clearly you put a lot of thought and original work into this."
Me: "I tried to give it my best."
Them: "We're not interested in publishing it."

As you can imagine, there were lots of times I stood there with the phone in my hand at a complete loss as to what to say. Granted, publishing is always dicey and I can see it their way too. It just didn't make the experience any more pleasant.

Well, recently, I spoke with St. Catherine of Siena Press out of Indianapolis, and they are interested in going forward with the project. I don't think it means that we are go and I definitely will be published. It's more like in high school when I would audition for a show. The audition went well and I got a call back. It was such a good interview that I have been assigned the job of tracking down all the copyrights and asking for permission to re-print things in the book. Either way, it is further along than I have gotten with anyone else, so that's got to be encouraging, right? I know what Mark Shea would say the problem is: not enough foreign language footnotes. (Sorry, a little inside joke to catch his attention.)

I'll keep you up to date as much as possible. And keep praying. The really relevant question is: "Will the Archdiocese want to serve as a pilot program?" Actually, that's an interesting question. If you, average blog reader (although we know all Ragemonkey readers are above average), were to see and to hear about a group like this was forming in your parish, would you want to take part? Is ten weeks too much of a commitment, especially if it were effective?
Jean-Luc Picard. You command your ship with an

iron fist and the children love you. Bah!!!

Humbug!! KIDS!!! >_<

Which Star Trek Character Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

This is a funny coincidence as I try to take the practical dimensions of parish leadership from his play book.
"Seems an awful waste / with the price of meat / what is it / when you get it / if you get it ...

Yep, more Sweeney Todd as the case unfolds. I would love someone to dig out their copy of "DVC" and see how many times Brown footnotes the work in dispute. I also love how he engages in a non-denial denial by saying that the book's structure was in place before he discovered that Mary Magdalene was not a prostitute. "He said he did not read their book until the structure of his theological thriller was in place."

It's time for a cooking metaphor, folks. You can bake the eclair without filling it with pastry creme. Brown can claim that he did nothing with the content until he had the structure in place, but that doesn't change the assertion that when the content went into to place it was stolen from these other authors.

Yep, clearly the Devil is behind this work because even his agents are feasting on one another's entrails giving me lots of opportunities to debunk it over and over again.
Sauce for the Goose, Sauce for the Gander?: Part Deux

I remember the exact moment I first saw George Clooney on T.V. I was still watching "The Facts of Life" although the show was clearly over the shark and swirling the Toilet bowl in a race for survival with the Tid-E-Bowl Man. He appeared as the lovely scamp and unattainable eye candy, George. (Presumably so he wouldn't forget that he was being addressed. This naming thing was as plausible as Natalie going off and getting hitched to Snake, who mysteriously looked like the dirtbag best friend to the squeaky clean good guy from "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" but I digress.) Who would have guessed that ambition and nascent talent would result in the filmaker autuer we have today?

Clooney's criticism touches on something I have been saying myself for years. When you elect someone to public office, you are doing two things: 1.) you are surrendering your voice to someone to speak for you, and 2.) if you can't assure that they agree with how you would vote, make sure they at least has the same moral framework you do. Clooney is right; Democrats have very little right to carp at the administration if they will not carp at the elected officials who made more waffles out of the Iraq situation than IHOP the week before Christmas.

Hence it is sauce for the goose and gander equally. Most folks are savvy enough, I suspect, to catch the two-faced responsibility dodge that Senate and House democrats are engaged in, and it delights me mightily that one of their own is bringing it to bear.

Whether celebs have a right to hector the elected officialdom any more than I do is an article for another time.
Sauce For the Goose, Sauce for the Gander?

In what most folks will find unsurprising once they read the linked article, Issac Hayes (yes, the leather-clad, "Shaft" Theme-immortalizing, bald, kodiac bear of the 1970's) is backing out of his role on "South Park." Now, there is part of me that wants to applaud the movement that Hayes is making.

But I can't.

Ultimately, I have to side with Matt Stone, co-creater of "South Park" on this one. (As I typed that I threw up in my mouth a little bit.) It is really toooo convenient in my mind that suddenly after, what, 7 seasons of the show regularly beating up on any religion, leaving aside the blasphemies hurled at Our Lord and Our Lady, that suddenly he can't stomach it. You're right, Mr. Hayes; I missed the laughable quality of people's devotion to the Mother of God hidden in the sensibility of a joke about a recent apparition of a bleeding statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, being explained away by, shall we say, a more natural source of bleeding. I totally overlooked how funny it is when the faith of a billion Catholics, not to mention the love and respect with which we hold our Holy Father, Benedict, is made mock of by two juvenille filmmakers. Hey, it's not like any body thinks this religion stuff matters, right? Just ask Dan Brown's winning little tome which reminds us all, that every faith is a fabrication...

Methinks Chef protests too much.

It comes down to the fact that Mr. Hayes didn't like the fact that SP writers et al. took Scientology severely to task and finally when it was his sacred cow they attacked, it was time to go. I'm sorry, but I am not buying Mr. Hayes' statement: "Religious beliefs are sacred to people, and at all times should be respected and honored," and "As a civil rights activist of the past 40 years, I cannot support a show that disrespects those beliefs and practices." Oh, really, Mr. Hayes. Tell me, why didn't you quit the show after Jesus and Satan had a boxing match in which Jesus gets the living stuffing beaten out of him? After all, wouldn't that be insulting to suggest that the Son of God could be beaten by the devil? And before you drag the crucifixion out as proof that the show wasn't that bad, remember, the Devil is conquered by that act because it is an act of obedience to the Father and the Resurrection is the last word in that fight. In the episode in question, God the Father never start acting as an erstwhile celestial Don King, so I can't figure out how this tracks. In your concern for religious sensibilities, did you feel a need to bring this oversight to the creators' attention?

All I can say is, "Was the money worth losing any and all credibility, not to mention dishonoring your work in the civil rights movement? Your compunction is too little and too late."

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Change of plans; prayers needed
Well, I finished up Masses today and was getting things in order to hit the great American highway for a long drive to southeast Oklahoma for a few days of fishing. However, I have had to change plans. As I was packing (and thankfully before I hit the road for the long drive) I got a call that my Uncle Bill Hamilton, my Godfather, had died this morning of a massive heart attack. He was close to 75 and was my dad's oldest brother. He was the patriarch of the family long before his time. His own father, my dad's dad, died when they were just teenagers. Uncle Bill has kept the family together through some difficult times and is that member of the family to whom everyone turned, to whom everyone looked as that unstated but certainly rightful icon of the Hamilton Family. His death, the first of my dad's siblings, is a milemarker of sorts. He was a good man and a good father. The family gatherings, the home base out of St. Louis, will seem rather empty now. So, my travel plans will be taking me in a different direction now as I head to St. Louis for the funeral. No fishing for now. Back to being a fisher of men. Please pray for the repose of the soul of William Patrick Hamilton, Jr. Thanks so much!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Gone fishin'
It is spring break and school is out. I have decided to get a few days away myself and I am very excited. After the last Mass tomorrow, I am driving down to southeast Oklahoma to go fishing for two days. It will be quick as I return on Wednesday, but it is always a beautiful and relaxing time at the particular area my dad and I fish down there. Wish me luck!
Political Endorsement
I usually try to stay out of the fray of blatant, political plugs. However this instance is different. Now, just bear with me. Don't get your Elephant noses and Donkey tails out of joint. I have just learned that a parishioner of mine from my last parish (St. Peter, Guymon, Oklahoma) is returning to his native Philippines to -- get this! -- run for President of the Philippines!!! The election is not until 2007, so he and his wife and four daughters have to return to the Philippines in order to meet residency requirements. He will move back in June and will set up some campaign initiatives and even a web site (which I am sure we will link on CRM). I think this is exciting even if his bid is a long shot. He is a successful physician, at the top of his career, but he is fed up with the corruption so frequently evident in Filipino politics. He tells me his many years of Jesuit education taught him to be a man for others. He said it is time for him to step up to the plate to try to give back to his country. His own blog, detailing his plans and thoughts on returning home to the Philippines, can be found here. You have heard it here first, folks: CRM has the early endorsement for the 2007 bid of Dr. Martin Bautista for Filipino President!
How much is that doggy in the window?
Well, not quite the doggy in the window, but the doggy's ashes on the mantle. Folks, I just have to share this with you. I had the occasion to visit the studio/warehouse of a local sculptor who also does all sorts of ceramics work to make the ends meet. As we spoke and I asked about what he does, I noticed his studio covered in ceramic dogs of different breeds in various stages of completion. Some were still in their molds, some were out of the mold but unpainted, some were painted, etc. I motioned to one particular table of these items and the sculptor told me they are for a California company which has just started marketing these items in the last few weeks. Guess what these items are? They are urns shaped like your dog's breed into which you can actually place your pet's ashes!!! I am not kidding. The sculptor lifted one up and showed me it is hollow inside for the ashes and then the bottom can be sealed to the rest of the statue. Now, I don't fault the sculptor. He needs to make ends meet too and I would bet that sculpting jobs don't exactly come knocking down the studio door. However, that such things are actually being marketed I find to be totally ridiculous. When I told Fr. Tharp of this he stated that he was disturbed by the notion, until he heard that the company was from California. With that bit of knowledge, he said, it doesn't surprise him. I suppose it is something in my framework that just can't understand why a person would want to keep his pet's ashes in some crazed ceramic version of Fido. Aaaaaggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, March 10, 2006

Emergency Prayer Request

I received notice through a friend of mine who does crisis pregnancy work, that she will be counseling a couple who are considering aborting their unborn child. Please let's all pray for this couple and of course for our friends working in the pro-life mission of the Church.
I would buy this hypothesis if more Oscar voters lived in Florida...

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Honk if you ... want beer?!
Okay, I just got back from driving over to the mission parish where I have a daily Mass on Thursdays. I was behind a Budweiser beer truck for a while and I read on the back of the truck a message that left me scratching my head for a few moments. The back of the truck had several messages like "Responsibility Matters" and "This truck makes wide right turns". But then there was this message: "Sound horn and I'll pull over."

I thought "What!". Are beer trucks now authorized to sell beer directly to customers? What sort of person is so desperate for beer that they honk to get the truck to pull over? What is going on here? I read the message over a couple of times in the confusion. In the end, I suppose (and I hope!) what the message means is that if the truck is moving a bit slowly and preventing you from passing or driving at an appropriate speed, honk and the driver will move over a bit to get out of your way.

Any thoughts?
Bonus Formation For You and Your IPod

A classmate of mine from Saint Charles (Philadelphia) is providing some excellent presentations on the Seven Deadly Sins. I will assume they are not "how-to-commit" them sessions. Right now, it looks like they have covered my personal favorite (gluttony) and going to continue in that vein. Now, if I could just figure out how to use an IPod.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Ministry to the Dying
I was called out a bit after 11 p.m. last night to attend the death of a parishioner in a local nursing home. I have certainly been at many deathbeds over my almost seven years as a priest. However, usually I am there some hours or days before the actual death or, perhaps, just moments after death has taken place. Last night was different. A Catholic nurse called me to come and told me the lady was slipping quickly.

I arrived and some of the family were present. I had seen this lady only about two weeks prior and she had been fine. I was surprised by how clearly close to death she was. I had no indications before last evening that she would die any time soon. She was not very conscious and was breathing rather inefficiently. I have the practice of leaning near the person and telling her I am present and that I will be administering the Sacraments. I believe that people can often hear what is going on around them on death's door, even if they can't respond in a fashion that gives us undeniable evidence. So, I quickly began the ritual of granting absolution, the Apostolic pardon, and Anointing of the Sick (what we commonly refer to as Last Rites). She was not conscious enough to receive Holy Communion. As I began the rite, I decided mid-stream that I would truncate the ritual, because she really seemed to have shallow breaths. It was interesting that she seemed to calm down as I got part way through the ritual. Whereas she had been sort of gasping for breath before we began, her shoulders arcing as she opened and closed her mouth, she calmed down and moved less as I was administering the Sacraments. By physical activity she seemed much calmer when I had concluded. She remained that way, taking increasingly more shallow breaths. I waited a few moments and told the gathered family members to take a moment to come to her bedside to let her know they were present, to kiss her, and to tell her they love her. After that I began some prayers for the commendation of the dying. I led a Litany of the Saints asking the prayers and aid of other members of the Communion of Saints as this lady passed. Following the litany there is a commendation prayer which reads: "Go forth Christian soul," return to God who made you and who calls you to Himself. What was interesting in this pastoral experience was that the lady died precisely as I was saying that prayer. I have never experienced that sort of timing before. I could tell as I concluded the prayer that she had not taken a breath in a while, so upon the completion of the prayer, I motioned for the nurse to come over and take vitals. The lady had passed away. It was a really beautiful moment in the midst of a sad event for the family. The timing of everything was most remarkable and full of grace.
Rite of Election 2006
While the world was busy with Oscar selections on Sunday night, other selections were being made at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cathedral in Oklahoma City, and in other Catholic cathedrals. It was the Rite of Election, typically done on the First Sunday of Lent, for those who have been preparing to enter the Catholic Church this Easter. The Rite of Election is a ritual by which those who have been undertaking formation in the Catholic Faith are chosen (or "elected," from the more formal root meaning of the word) and blessed by the bishop for their eventual entrance into the Catholic Church. After the ceremony they are referred to as the "Elect," the ones chosen. The proper meaning of the elect refers to those who are not yet baptized, but who will be baptized, confirmed, and receive Holy Eucharist at the Easter Vigil. In common practice, that group is also combined with the group of those already baptized (in other ecclesial communions) who are preparing to enter the Catholic Church by making a Profession of Faith in what the Catholic Church teaches, believes and professes to be revealed by God. So, there are really two subgroups within the group of the elect.

There are enough people entering the Catholic Church in our part of the world, that we have to have three back-to-back services in order to fit everyone in our Cathedral. It is a good ceremony and, I think, it gives each participant perhaps their first taste or recognition that the Catholic Church, which they are preparing to join, is a much larger communion than simply one's own parish. The Church is truly universal and the elect (I imagine) can't help but think of that as they are gathered with hundreds of others going through the same process, and with the knowledge that our Cathedral is filled two other times with even more of the same. The Rite of Election is an opportunity as well for the elect to see and meet our Archbishop, who cannot possibly personally preside over the entrance into the Church of each of the elect at each and every parish. I think, too, the elect feel especially attended to by this ceremony, acknowledged and blessed in the journey that have undertaken.

Fr. Tharp's parish and mine both attended the second service of the day of the Rite of Election. You might think the diocesan authorities would make sure to separate us so that there would not be a CRM take over of the Cathedral, but apparently our threats have not been taken seriously. Will they never learn?
In case you were curious about all the Oscar-worthy buzz, but don't want to waste two hours...

...we give you bunnies on Brokeback.
I think I will go with "a person is more complex than the appearance might suggest"

This kind of story has begun recently to really be the bane of my existence. Of course, the Holy Father fits into neither tidy description because he is an actual flesh and blood person and not a tidy description. Further, the man has been in office, what, all of 9 months. Pope John Paul II was in office for more than 20 years and we are just now starting to get an accurate read on what his pontificate means. Or what about your friend and mine, Pius XII. We are still hashing out elements of his papacy some 60 years later. In other words, everyone just needs to CALM DOWN!

The recent conversation started with the NeoCatechumenal Way is a good example of both his operational style and his concern for the proper celebration of the Sacred Liturgy. Benedict, based on his writings before ascending to the Chair of St. Peter (which still is my favorite chair), respects all proper expressions of the Church's liturgy but also doesn't stand for inaccurate or shoddy reasoning on your way there. So, Benedict will engage them in dialogue until either they reach an understanding or Benedict is forced to censure them. This was the way he handled the cases of Jacques Dupris (on his book concerning religious pluralism) and Hans Kung (on everything the man ever wrote), both cases which had very different outcomes (Dupris is in good standing and Kung is the head officer of looneyland).

If you want to get a feel for this Pope, spend this Lent reading what the man actually said. Start with the encyclical. Then when you finish with that I'll have some recommendations.
Almost nothing escapes his attention
"The Worst Pies in London"

I couldn't resist a quote or reference from "Sweeney Todd" and truth to tell, I can't figure what this whole thing is after. Are the authors of "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" after publicity, money, or actual intellectual property protection? Not that these are mutually exclusive.

The best part is that until the case is settled, the film can't be released, in Britian at least.
Why does this worry me?

Is it because it suggests a loss of reflection and insight into historical realities or because it suggests that Mel Brooks is actually psychic?
Hey, here's a crazy idea. Let's let movies and such be about ideas and not about who can bed whom the fastest?

I love Anthony Hopkins so much as an actor. Skillful performance, thy name is Tony. However, to hear this little bubble of insight into what makes a great movie (just for review it begins with two things: writing and logical characterization) makes me hopeful that maybe the rest of the filmmaking universe isn't far behind.
Ah, look at all that free speech coming forth from Mao's little corner of bliss

Of course, this begs the question, does the little red book demand that all acceptance speeches be only thirty seconds in length?
I think we have a hoax in the making

Well, hoax or no, I will say one thing. That can't be good for your back. It's making my lumbar region twist in sympathetic agony.
Excuse me, but your agenda is showing

or so opines (in total agreement with me) Roger Ebert. Oh, lay down some of that funky truth...

Monday, March 06, 2006

An Article in the Works

I had a funny thought for an article which might be interesting for This Rock to pick up. Now, I know that Jimmy Akin et al. read Ragemonkey for all their best info but don't poach me on this one.

Amongst Protestants and Catholics, there are many words which hang up dialogue, one of which is "worship." This word, "worship," is particularly hairy when it comes to the role of the Saints. I think I might put together a brief study, relying heavily upon the OED, on what the worship has and does mean. Granted, a study of the various usages in Greek and Latin would be illuminating, it doesn't really matter since the average Christian on the street is reading in translation. Are there times when the word "worship" has appropriately been applied to the Saints?

Just a funny thought.
If it doesn't fly with my bank, I don't know why it should with others.
From my ever thickening "The Pot Calls the Kettle Black To It's Own Degradation" File, example of why spell check might be evil but is essential for discourse...

... it keeps you from looking like a total nit.
Mmmm, that is full of rich, creamy "Concern for the Authentic Common Good" and "Solidarity with the Weakest" that I have seen in weeks.

Of course this means more work for crisis pregnancy centers in SD, but if we all pitch in, we can do it!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Okay, so how did I miss this one?

Check out Nick Alexander's hilarious (!) take on Lent. It is well worth the $0.99!
Blessed John Paul II, John Paul the Great, Confessor of the Faith

For those wondering about the distinction, here it is in a nutshell. A martyr is someone who dies for the Faith; a confessor is one who is persecuted but otherwise survives. It makes me giggle with glee how the world fails to understand that, for the follower of Christ, persecution is par for the course. It is like Obi Wan Kenobi "Strike me down, and I will arise a thousand times more powerful than before." The difference here is the power is not the impersonal, godless Force; it is Christ who raises up the fallen.

All praise to Christ for his servant John Paul. By his intercession, may we receive God's constant protection.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

What's In Your Wallet?

I have loved those barbarians-at-the-gate ads for Capital One ever since the conquering hordes lost their jobs. Of course, after all the silly jobs the barbarians try to take, we see how poorly they assimilate into the society. The tagline for the ad is always the same: "What's In Your Wallet?" This is supposed to build incentive to get a Capital One card and thus forestall, you guessed it, barbarians at the gate. However, I think there might be a proper meditation for the first day of Lent as well.

After all, what is the call of Lent but to assess where your treasures lie? In the Gospel for Ash Wednesday, we are not told to avoid prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Instead, the Lord renews these acts of religion by leading his disciples to the heart of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, recasting it as a service of the Father who sees in secret. It's like an actor or a musician who slaves away to get a piece of music or a particular scene pitch perfect. The audience sees and applauds the final result; God and the actor and the coaches and all the others who work on the show see the hours and hours of saying, "That's not it; try again!" The Father is the one applauding at the end of each day's effort, seeing not only the finished product but each of the steps in between.

So, where do your priorities lie? This is a little exercise that might help. Get a piece of paper and make three columns. In the far left column, list your top ten priorities in your life as you see it right now. List them in order of importance, number one being most important and going down from there. In the middle column, take an account of how you use your time in a week, then divide by 168 hours to figure out what percentage of your week is used in that activity. In the third column, relist your stated priorities in the order of the amount of time spent on each activity, starting from greatest and going down from there. It should prove illuminating.

For example, the average person sleeps 8 hours a day. That would run down to 56 hours a week or 33% of your week. Think about that. A third of your life is spent sleeping. If you work at an average job, then you put in about 40 hours a week or 24% of your week. However, if you are the type of Catholic whose total service to God is rendered in your mind by simply attending Sunday Mass, then you have only spent 0.1% of your week on God. I find it hard to say that God is a priority in my life when I only spend 0.1% of my week to his service. How am I going to make a change that makes things fit more appropriately?

Today is the day acceptable. Today is the day to start anew. May you have a blessed Lent.