Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Blog on the Run!

In a continuing effort to intimidate Fr. H with my technical expertise, I have moved the blog to a mobile location. Yes, using the power of a new wireless enabled laptop, I am blogging to you live (well, somewhat live) from the Starbucks on Western and 63rd in OKC. I am sipping a latte, looking like the ultimate yuppie priest. (When in Rome...)

At any rate, I am keeping my car from Fr. H so that we will not have a repeat of last year's shoe polish inspired madness. I came into the bustling city for a combination of events. On Sunday, I sped into town for my sister's birthday party, only to arrive too late. That's what they get for holidng something on my busiest work day. Instead, I went to the local pub for a couple of beers and to commiserate with a fellow cleric about the day-to-day efforts of priestly ministry. A funny sidebar to this story: when I walked into the bar, another guy walked up to me and said, "Don't I know you?" He was one of the guys who had been in my regular Tuesday night trivia team that met at the local Buffalo Wild Wings. I hadn't seen any of them for a couple years, essentially from the time I moved to Woodward. He was one of the highlights of that group, being witty and engaging and strangely, bearing a striking resemblance to Paul Giamatti. After we chatted, I sat down at the bar and placed my order. He came back and said, "That collar of yours frightens people. My friends are so freaked out." Apparently, the local parish priest knocking back a few pints is outside of most folks' experience. Go figure. At any rate, it was a good time.

Yesterday, I hung around the city, had lunch with another priest of the diocese and ran errands. Key to yesterday's full excitement, I picked up issue six of DC Comics "Infinite Crisis." I also milled around the Books a Million rather than my usual B&N stop. It's a good little company although probably doomed to be crushed under the corporate jack boot of the above mentioned company. Then I took my sister out to dinner for her birthday.

That brings us to today. Today is the Chrism Mass. For those outside the Catholic sphere, the Chrism Mass is one of the solemn events of Holy Week. Traditionally celebrated on Holy Thursday morning, it is the Mass in which the holy oils are blessed by the bishop. At the same Mass, the priests of the diocese re-commit themselves to their promise to respect and obey the bishop. In all it is a very moving Mass and despite the travel and other things, I look forward to this Mass. For those who are wondering why it is being celebrated today, when a diocese is very spread out and it is too difficult for the priests to attend because of the distance, permission is given for the Chrism Mass to be celebrated at another time. For those in the OKC area, I highly recommend that you come and kick off your Holy Week the right way. And you might even get a little face time with the Ragemonkeys for the effort.

Okay, it is almost time to run off to my lunch appointment. Let us pray for each other and we'll see each other in the light of the Resurrection.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Easter Vigil Fire is a go!
It has been quite some time since I have (a) had anything I felt like posting and/or (b) the time to dedicate to posting. Today's post is simply a report that Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic Church in Kingfisher, Oklahoma, has been given official permission from the Fire Chief to build the Easter Fire so long as it is on a non-combustable surface. So, no need to worry about the parish being cited and fined for its rituals.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Growing Up Musical

In my house, my mother, when home, would gush about the musicals she loved as a girl.  I guess it has something to do with my Welsh blood.  It means that everywhere I go, music is usually burbling at my lips and constantly accompanying my daily life.  It is the refrain from a song that comes to mind at the right moment, thus providing a smart response or an apt observation.  Notably, it can be a conversation starter, although there are those folks who hate musicals, but we will leave them be, for the moment.

Back to the story: my mother would love to recall Gordon McRae, singing “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning.”  And there was the very pleasant evening spent watching Robert Preston burn up the screen, while set on high simmer, in The Music Man, singing to his love, “Marion, Madam Librarian.”  Thus it was that my little brain was exposed to the notion of big, Broadway story telling.  Story telling that would catch you when you least expected, only to discover tears in your eyes because you had started to care about the characters and the plight.  And the music, oh, the music is so key; the right chord not only suggests artistry but also tone in a dramatic or comic moment.  After high school music indoctrination, I learned to recognize things like deliberate dissonance and holding the resolution out as long as humanly possible to create drama and suspense.  (By the way, the term “indoctrination” is not to suggest that I didn’t enjoy it and wasn’t enriched by the experience of singing in high school; I am just suggesting that like Chinese Water Torture, the key to learning a piece of music is plain old consistent repetition.)

I guess you could say that I have grown up “Musical.”  Not musically inclined, mind you; I think I am one of those people who have skill but not talent.  I mean that I have grown up with the phrases, the characters accompanying me as I moved through life, akin to the transparent Greek chorus for yours truly alone.  It has largely been an asset; like all elements of cultural literacy, being able to make a connecting reference moves conversations along and conflicts more swiftly to resolution.  However, there are times when the musical accompaniment is not helpful.  Just think tracks from Sweeney Todd while trying to celebrate the Holy Mass and you’ll see where that could lead.

How do you grow up “Musical”?  It starts by cutting your teeth on good music, good lyrics and good structure in all music to which you listen.  My sister did that by giving me a good healthy dose of Bread and Alan Parson Project, not to mention, the Beatles.  Those artists paved the way to They Might Be Giants and 10,000 Maniacs.  (That’s for another post.)  But as a youngster, you start with the classics, mainly Rogers and Hammerstein.  Just as you are ready to transition to more mature stuff, the attentive parent whips out a copy of “Carousel” just to seal the deal.  However, if you ever want the child to appreciate a musical, never, never, never show Bye, Bye Birdie or South Pacific.  Trust me.  Those two almost did me in.

Okay, now on to Musical adolescence.  You want to feel grown-up but without all that blasted work which goes with it.  So, whose works am I thinking of?  Give up?  Andrew Lloyd Webber.  Excuse me, that’s Sir Andrew to the groundlings.  Not to say that everything from the piano of Webber lacks merit; it’s just that most of it does.  And that goes double and same for Schwartz, recently of “Wicked” and infamously of “Godspell.”  To Webber’s credit, both “Evita” and “Sunset Boulevard” have and continue to hold up, respectably.  A good revival of “Evita” is just what Broadway could use right now.  When the adolescent is ready to move up, there is only one man to visit: Cole Potter.  Now you are breaking into some lyrical challenges not to mention some musical texture which still surprises me when listened to.  Don’t believe me?  Drag out your copy of “Kiss Me, Kate,” and spin up “Wunderbar” and follow it with “So in Love.”  The fact that the same vocalists are expected to handle the varying material should tell you something.

Now, we move to adult musicals.  How to describe it?  The adult Musical lover discovers complexity not only in music but also in theme and characterization.  I remember the first time I saw Hair on A&E.  I remember thinking how interesting but average the piece was until I saw the tombstone at the end and the company sings “Let the Sun Shine In.”  Right or wrong, for a second, I think I understood the Sixties, beyond the stereotypes.  I could see how they, the young people of that time, might have experienced their world and sensed a fundamental shift happening around them, a ground swell and tectonic adjustment which they could barely manage to stay atop off.  Further, sometimes, the sense of humor plays a part.  Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd currently has my attention.  The story of revenge and fine dining and misguided love brought together with real empathy and pathos, a pathos which transcends the actors because it is present in the composer’s work.  Also, an adult musical is willing to challenge with spareness of structure.  To bring Sondheim back for further praise, the 1978 recording of Company illustrates how to drive an audience nuts and leave them clamoring for more.  In Company, a man tries to decide his future: married or single?  The key is the looseness of time, for the main character is standing outside his apartment door, but for how long.  Is it a moment or is it an actual party?  Is he playing this out in his mind in a moment?  The show doesn’t tell you.  Further, you don’t know if you should really like these characters all that much.  (The ‘70s era pessimism toward institutions like marriage is radioactively present; “The Little Things You Do Together” makes that abundantly clear.)

So, now you know why I break into song parodies whenever I am amused or angry or any old time I feel it coming on.  The musical is simply put a great piece of art; not as high brow as opera but not as pedestrian as other forms of art.

Things Are Looking Up!

If you have been following this blog for any length of time, you have heard about the Borromeo Project, my adult formation series. The first year focuses on reading the Catechism and learning the prayers of the Church as well as the Liturgy of the Hours. It is a group study: in the introduction, I wrote, “If you are tempted to take this home and use it by yourself, take my advice. Don’t.” I intend to use quotes from the folks who have gone through the program to back up my points.

Well, I got a new email from the publisher. I think we are a go. There are some negotiations ahead, but I think all things being equal, we have it. I would suspect some revision is coming and I have had some ideas on the side as well. So, if you could remember the Borromeo Project during your prayers today, I would appreciate.

Hey, I had a cool idea: The Borromeo Project Podcast in which I treat questions and clarifications needed for groups as well as forums.

UPDATE: Confirmed! I got off the phone a couple of hours ago with the publisher and it is a GO! I cannot wait to receive my first professional writing contract! The rollout, for those interested parties, is slated for April 2007. I think we could get it done earlier, perhaps in time for Lent 2007, but that remains to be seen. Anyway, thanks to all readers and supporters who have tracked the madness. It is over; someone pop open the champagne!
Oh, piffle, why I am still following this story?
The Show's Open

That's the first segment. We talked about Paris Hilton's future role as Mother Teresa in an upcoming movie (no, that's not a joke.)
Then we spent our time reflecting on Holy Week and the PDA's way of explaining that.
Now we are on break.
Live Simul=Blogcasting

Okay, so it's 6:03 a.m. on a Friday and I am getting ready to talk on Relevant Radio. With congestion and a full cup of coffee, I am going to tackle some, hopefully interesting ideas. Literally, I am listening live to RR via my home phone. And now I am reaching for a Kleenex so that I can be reasonably clear sinus-wise.

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 www.catholicprayerbreakfast.com. 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...

...so 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!