Saturday, April 30, 2005

I don't know how to feel about this

The Reasons for Feeling Conflicted are (in no particular order):
1.) As I went to a very good seminary for graduate studies, and even the college was generally above average with some serious exceptions, it's hard for me to get excited about "cleaning house." The best you will get from me is Schadenfraude at the collapse of other houses of cards.
2.) Upon what standard are these seminaries going to be evaluated? Generally speaking, when a group of people from very different backgrounds get together to write up a standards sheet, the goals tend to skew low, aiming for the lowest common denominator.
3.) Upon whose evidence are they going to evaluate these seminaries? Granted that asking only seminary administration is not going to garner great information -- certainly nothing probative of any real problems -- neither is going to students with an axe to grind. Further, there has to be a "safe" way to spill the beans for the seminarians. Yes, I know that this is supposed to be a seedbed for vocations but like any situation, some men will not feel free to divulge sensitive information with the cover of anonimity. Yes, I also realize that this is a potential for baseless or even loony accusations to be taken too seriously. Yes, I also recognize that the evaluators should ask those who made it to ordination whether or not the priests trained at these places feel they were well-prepared and well-formed for priesthood and what should have been added. Again, if you were to ask me, there were only a few issues missing which I might discuss here at another time.
4). Then there is the "So What?" factor. Again, this is true of us all but generally if there is no punishment, there is no motivation to change. I can speak to my own experience of the seminary on this one. If I didn't loathe meeting with my formation advisor or the dean of men each and every time I missed morning prayer, and if you missed you had to check in with either of these two men, then would I have been so quick to change my ways? It is a valid question. So the same thing applies here. If they find a den of iniquity at a particular seminary (not mentioning names -- just throwing out a theoretical), then what? If you don't shape up, we close you down? What would happen if a bishop said "Thanks for the input, but nothing's going to change?" Could he lose his see? See my problem. Without some threat of exposure, I can't see how merely wagging a finger and saying "Shape up" is going to change anything? My apologies if that sounds cynical, but that is the downward inertia of the human heart after the fall.
5.) Who is going to do the evaluating? If there is a concern that American faculties are too lax or too whatever (but don't use that word "liberal" otherwise I will have to pull out the pastoral photon torpedo launcher of hope and use it -- like David Banner, I don't think you would like me armed and angry), then who is going to stand there as the judge and arbitor? Further, wouldn't this weaken what ever criticism is leveled as "they don't understand, not being American"?

With all this said, don't misunderstand. I really am pleased that intervention is happening, I am just not convinced it will have any demonstrable results.
Another incentive to healthy living

Although, I must admit an undying affection for those delightful Samoas and the shortbread cookies are rapturous as a crust for cheesecake.
Please, Sir, put down the chalupa...that's right the salsa, too.

Talk about how things have changed. The biggest searched for item when I was in middle school was chewing gum. Now, mexican food and contraband weapons met in an ugly altercation for both. Yeessh, I don't know if this should go into my file on pro-homeschooling or on don't-make-me-the-high-school-chaplain.
Oh, this is just what I needed...

I remember reading Marvel comics and being fascinated with the possibility of mutation -- especially the X-Men. This didn't trouble me, then or now, because these powers and aberrations were hiding in the DNA. They didn't ask for these powers; they just got them. However, when a character called the "High Evolutionary" appears on the scene and has been fiddling with DNA, then I got uncomfortable. I am more so now. Folks in science, go grab a copy of Jurassic Park and read the exchange between Ian, the mathematician and the psycho-freaky old guy. Just because you can do it, doesn't mean you SHOULD do it. Well, I guess this is just envitable -- Sign me up to be mingled with a walrus since our body shapes and dental histories are very similar...

Friday, April 29, 2005

In Case You Were Wondering

I just love Benedict's sense of ... well, what do you call it? ... full sensory assault with all things that are Catholic. Just looking at the papal coat of arms recalls so much of history and his personal heritage serves to remind us how Christ still walks by the roads of our world and seeks those who would follow him.
Suffering from a Neologism

I have no excuse for the scarcity of my posts as of late. The only thing I can attribute it to is a bad case of blog exhaustion. I am just worn out from Lent and Easter, the death and election, finishing up two Bible studies (which were subpar from my own personal analysis), and from wrapping up TBP in two places. In short, my brain is so empty that all I have interest and energy sufficient to do is read, read, read. I have already finished two books that I was reading (Our Lady and the Church by Hugo Rahner, S.J. and Helena by Evelyn Waugh) and will finish two more tomorrow I think. This opens the field to two more books to take their place. I think I will read a little more Waugh if for the only reason that he is expanding my vocabulary some thing fierce. Actually, I owe a tip of the biretta to Amy Wellborn for sending that book by Waugh and several others for my perusal. They are all well timed tonic to my barren brain pan.

Okay, so I don't have much to say right now other than I wish I could make myself read faster with more comprehension -- but welcome to life after the fall.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Sunday's Papal Installment Mass

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

He looks marvelous
Pope Benedict's Coat of Arms

Monday, April 25, 2005

As I was checking the news from around the world on Google, I ran across this paragraph in an article written by Sandi Dolbee, writing for the San Diego Union Tribune:

"Representatives from more than 140 governments and religious groups sat in long rows near the statues of St. Peter and St. Paul. Among them: Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (leader of the U.S. delegation), Prince Albert II of Monaco, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and Martha Sahagun, wife of Mexican President Vicente Fox. All are Catholic."

I realize that for the last few months I have been in something of a fog due to extreme hypothyroidism, but when did the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, end his schism and come into full Communion with the Catholic Church? This is a major coup for the forces of truth. Does this mean that we get Lambeth Castle and all the other property which the Anglicans took from the Catholic Church?

Or is this just another example of how utterly clueless most members of the American MSM (mainstream media, thanks to whomever introduced that abbreviation to me) are when it comes to matters of religion?

Saturday, April 23, 2005

For the Fifth Sunday of Easter, we had to make other arrangements since the Easter Lillies have finally died. This weekend is very special in the parish for two reasons: one local and one universal. The local reason is that it is First Holy Communion weekend. Now the challenge for CRM readers is to see if you can explain the color choices for this weekend's floral arrangements. I think you can see the colors of the flowers easily enough. The bows are gold and silver with a tiny bit of red draping over. First comment to explain it gets CRM fan points! Posted by Hello

Here you can see the Paschal Candle near the ambo. The wreath design for the Paschal Candle is something new which we have never asked the florist to do before. Posted by Hello

And finally, a close-up of the bottom of the Paschal Candle stand. Posted by Hello

Friday, April 22, 2005

Church sign
While in Oklahoma City yesterday for my priest support group meeting I saw a sign outside of a church which read:

The Lord says:
You catch 'em.
I'll clean 'em.
Now, I love fishing (though it has been some time since I have been able to do it) and I understand the analogy the Lord himself used with regard to fishing for fish versus fishing for men, however, I think this is going a bit too far with the analogy. I understand the Lord cleans us by washing our souls and bodies with his mercy, but the image of the Lord gutting me with a knife and taking out my air bladder ... I don't know ... maybe.
A Touching Tribute

Even though the all-wise bear saying that this blog links us, I couldn't find the link. So until then, they stay off the roll. But at the same time, go scroll through the beautiful array of political cartoons in tribute to John Paul on the site.
O, to have been a fly on the wall or to possess telepathy...

This is a largely ceremonial gesture for those who are wondering. What I love about this particular article is the comment about having to reinterpret how people have portrayed him. The only people who don't understand that this is part and parcel of Benedict's style, a style of boundaries that are gradually enforced, are the media, who to all appearances have abandoned the notion of absolute truth (an irony not lost on me) and thus are shocked when someone says that a particular proposition is not true and the Catholic who has received his formation as a Catholic from MSM (I don't mean our local OKC Catholic High School Mount Saint Mary's). Clearly, I must stop rolling my eyes at the breathlessness of the reporting because one of them is going to get stuck up there.

Also, I found this quote emblematic of the media's desire to drum up controversy (thus creating news) where none could exist. The quote reads "The Italian daily La Repubblica, meanwhile, reported that Benedict before being named pope had been working on a document to allow divorced couples who remarry to receive Communion. The Vatican had no comment. " Okay, let's think this through. First, Benedict would have had no authority to draft such a document as it pertains to how the Sacraments are celebrated. I could buy something collaborative btwn the two relevant congregations, but otherwise pfiffle. Second, Benedict did not possess the authority to change this as the restriction of Holy Communion and the other sacraments while in the state of a putative marriage derives from not only the Code of Canon Law but from the general universal teaching of the Church. In other words, I am reasonably certain that this cannot be reformed.

Once again, this shows to me how much people don't strive to think with the mind of the Church. I am not the brightest bulb in the marquee of life but even I can figure this stuff out. It's such a pity.
And so it begins...

Granted, some will say that this isn't that important and won't be that effective because it is just an example of the big, bad Church chittering away in its absolute refusal to get with the times. However, before one can lay the groundwork for the attack, you must know whose side you are on and what is it that you stand for. Then, with that said, you are free to act. Therefore, let us hope that this is simply the opening salvo and that a useful encyclical will help us strategize our next move. Love ya, Benedict!
Benedict XVI. . . May He Live a Hundred Years!
I was on my way to a deanery meeting with my pastor when I heard that there was white smoke over the Vatican. When we arrived at the parish hosting the meeting, fortunately, instead I getting to the business of discussing diocesan assessments, we went into the hosting pastor's living room to watch the historical event. Sadly they had ABC on, so I had to endure the insipid comments of Rev. Richard McBrien. When Pope Benedict XVI was announced, I think I was the only one to cheer. At least it shut the yap of McBrien -- I don't think he was able to talk for 5 minutes he was so distaught.

Then the delusional talk of the left began. One of the group I was with actually put forth that this was just an "honorary" thing, and that there was probably an agreement in place that he would resign the papacy when he turned 80. Then it was, "Well, I heard that he really tried to temper the conservatism of Pope John Paul II. Remember he was considered a liberal theologian at the 2nd Vatican Council, so maybe he will show his true colors." Ah, yes, his "true colors" is that he is an orthodox Catholic who believes in teaching and living the authentic teaching of the Church, including the "spirit and letter of the Second Vatican Council" (I think I have Cardinal Schonborn to thank for that phrase to contradict the insipid, "spirit of Vatican II"-ers; maybe "Jack" isn't the only one who cannot read, maybe we should get "hooked on phonics" for all the crazy liberal/heterodox theologians so they could actually read the documents of the 2nd Vatican Council).

The reaction of too many clerics have been SHAMEFUL. On permanent deacon, I am told, in front of a group of Protestant ministers, when he heard the news said "I quit! Do any of you need a deacon?" If I was there I would have said, "Don't let the door hit you on the way out," then I would be on the phone to the chancery to have his faculties revoked. My sister's pastor (in NC) also felt it necessary to publicly gripe about the new Vicar of CHRIST. The whole thing reminds me of Scripture (see, since they can't read, they don't know Scripture either) when Gamaliel, "the teacher of the law," warned the Sanhedrin about possibly opposing God (cf. Acts 5:33-39).

Thus once more I say to His Holiness, Benedict XVI, "May you live a hundred years."
Need a Suggestion

I am in need of new stationery for the parish. Any suggestions of how to get this done. I usually buy pre-printed stuff but now that I am pastor the parish deserves good stuff in my humble opinion.
The New York Times >I do love their idiocy

The Grey Lady did an okay job with the commentary concerning Benedict. For the most part it was balanced and not sniping at all. However, the idiocy of people in some sectors of the Church continues to shock and appaul me. A woman afraid to give her last name because her critical comments might jeopardize her daughter's upcoming marriage?! Since when? How ignorant and ridiculous! If you are that afraid of the Church, you need to talk to a psychiatrist or a canon lawyer, but certainly not the NYT.

As our own pithy aside, one of the priests of the diocese was present for the election and was quoted in the same article. "A few steps away, the Rev. M. Price Oswalt, a priest who serves two parishes in Oklahoma City, was exultant about the cardinals' choice.
'He'll correct the lackadaisical attitudes that have been able to creep into the lives of Catholics,' he said. 'He's going to have a German mentality of leadership: either get on the train or get off the track. He will not put up with rebellious children.' "

How's that for not gloating?

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Consummatum Est!

Well, it is finished. I just finished the last page of the first year of the Borromeo Project. This is my ongoing adult formation program based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The copier is whirring away make copies for the use of my people. Also, happily the parish in Woodward, OK is also running a pair of test groups. So, thanks to everyone who prayed for me while I was writing this and please remember me as I search for a publisher.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Tongue tied
I have not yet "messed up" in the Eucharistic Prayer of the Holy Mass either by saying John Paul's name after his death or by accidently saying John Paul now instead of Benedict. But just to be sure, I put a little post-it note in the Missal that said "Benedict". Even still, as I said the Holy Mass this evening, looking directly at the post-it note, I really had to force my tongue, mouth, and vocal chords to move and form the necessary shapes to make the sound that we recognize as the word "Benedict". It is so weird. I mean, I said Benedict's name, but the feeling as I was saying it was very forced and my mouth really wanted to naturally make the shape for John Paul. It will take some time to adjust, but it will come.
New Pontificate, New Saint?

I had made the decision to do this back when the Holy Father, John Paul, died. Now I am prepared to reveal what I have been working on. I personally think that John Paul should not only be called the Great but also Saint John Paul. Without being sacriligious, personally, he went to Heaven so directly, there were skid marks on the carpet of the papal apartment. I wanted to share this prayer for canonization which I composed with all of you. Use it generously and dedicate your tough petitions to him. John Paul, through the grace of God, took down communism. Anything you and I offer are peanuts in comparison.

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

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

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

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

We ask these things through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Here is the door into St. Peter Church, Guymon, Oklahoma. The black bunting has been removed and the yellow and white (the colors of the Vatican flag) bunting is now up. Posted by Hello

I was really loving the idea that people on the road were reading messages of joy and excitement about a new Pope. Posted by Hello

This message could be seen yesterday for all 265 miles of my journey back to my parish. Posted by Hello
More Shameless Self-Promotion

Are you looking for something fun to do that involves speaking a language you already know. Then come with Mark Shea and myself on a tour of Britian. After the debacle with a previous attempted tour of France, you would think I would take the hint. I guess I will never learn. Below is the relevant information in the form of a press release.

Fr. Shane Tharp and Mr. Mark Shea, prominent Catholic author and speaker, are proud to offer a tour of Britain. This twelve day tour will include stops in London, Stratford-upon-Avon, Oxford, and Cambridge. Tour highlights include Westminister Abbey, Westminister Cathedral, the Tower of London, Anne Hathway’s Cottage, reserve seat at a London theater production, walking tour of Oxford University, and other events to be announced. Special emphasis will be placed upon the history of the Catholic Church in England and prominent literary figures. The tour runs from October 3 to October 14, 2005. The cost of this tour package is $2350.00 and includes round trip air Oklahoma City to London, round trip transfer from airport to hotel, first class hotel accommodations with private bath, service charges, tips and taxes. Escorted from Oklahoma City by Fr. Tharp and from Seattle, WA by Mr. Shea, this tour promises to give you a little taste of the old country today.
Reservations are now being accepted through Sunshine Travel. Contact Bob Reichert at 405-948-8642 or 800-522-5809. Payment Schedule: a deposit of $250.00 is required to book this tour with the balance due on August 3, 2005. Limited number of single supplements and triple reductions available on request.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Celebrating Pope Benedict by myself
As Fr. Tharp already posted, I had my long drive from Oklahoma City to my parish in Guymon today. It was sort of tough being on the road for a bit over 4 hours and not being able to talk with anyone on the phone (cell reception in non-existent for much of the trip). So, I did the only thing any fun-loving, young priest could do to feel more connected to the new Pope from Germany. I stopped at a convenience store and purchased "Black Forest Gummi Bears" to eat as I drove along. It was just my little way of celebrating Pope Benedict XVI by myself, since I had no one else to share the joy with.

Upon returning to the parish I led the novena prayers, spoke with the RCIA class (now doing mystagogia) about our new Pope, and then had a Latin Mass, using the name of the new Pope for the first time! It was wonderful. I am so excited.

Tomorrow I need to order outrageous amounts of yellow and white flower arrangements and speak to the local newspaper. I already have the yellow and white bunting up on the church door. I will have to take a photo of it to post tomorrow. I still can't believe this has happened and on the fourth ballot!
Text of the speech delivered by Joseph Ratzinger, elected pope Tuesday, from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica.

``Dear brothers and sisters, after the great Pope John Paul II, the cardinals have elected me - a simple, humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord.

``The fact that the Lord can work and act even with insufficient means consoles me, and above all I entrust myself to your prayers.

``In the joy of the risen Lord, trusting in his permanent help, we go forward. The Lord will help us and Mary his very holy mother stands by us.''

All I can say is this. If he considers himself insufficient, I tremble to think where that puts me. Ah, yes, there is that zing of powerful teaching and conviction from the Holy Spirit I was waiting for. "Father, it's time to grow in humility!"
Congratulations for the New Pope

Yes, I know that this is a blatant steal from EWTN, but it's really good stuff. BTW, the Cardinal Ratzinger Fan Club is down, probably from everyone on the surface of the planet accessing it.
It must be killing him!

No, not some psycho liberal, but Fr. Hamilton (oh, wait...aren't those the same thing?). He is driving back to his parish in the Oklahoma Panhandle and therefore is incapable of blogging. For several hours, I have unlimited control. Bwahahahahahahaha!

I was reflecting on some thing that I saw elsewhere on the blogosphere concerning the name of Benedict for our new Holy Father. I, of course, linked up with Benedict XV, but someone else mentioned that St. Benedict is very fitting in his own right. After all, St. Benedict helped to spark a cultural transformation of Europe, and as co-patron of Europe, he would be a fitting person to invoke if one were out to set Europe on fire again for the Gospel.

This reminds me. If Americans are essentially heirs to European culture and value assessment, then could we please please please have a cultural transformation as well?
Home Run!

Actually, anyone the conclave would have selected would have been fine with me, but as a fellow Bavarian (in part), I can't help but be pleased. Many people have asked me what, if any, significance the Holy Father's name holds. Generally, it is common wisdom that the name indicates in whose footsteps or general plans and emphases the new Holy Father wishes to go. With that in mind, I offer you a list of Benedict XV resources so that you might gain a hint of what is to come. And there are sixteen of them for obvious reasons.

1. The Holy See - The Holy Father, Benedict XV
2. A Brief Summary of Highpoints
3. A Brief Biographical Sketch with emphasis upon Benedict XV's role in WWI
4. Wikipedia's very complete entry
5. Pope Benedict XV's Peace Proposal (I love that first line)
6. Another Good Article on Benedict XV's stance on WWI
7. Interesting Encyclical on St. Ephrem
8. Pope Benedict XV as Prophet of Peace (note who rejected the Christmas Truce overture)
9. A stirring and lyrical article as well
10. A handy resource for all the encyclicals
11. The Biographical Sketch from the Legion of St. Michael
12. Monument to Benedict XV
13. Another list of highlights with an interesting note about his connection to Fatima
14. The Litany of Peace
15. Benedict XV in context of papal succession
16. Historical Notes relating to Benedict's Papacy

I make no comments about other things one might find on these sites. The one thing I could say easily is that Benedict XV had a large world interest for being the prisoner of the Vatican that he was. Also, it bears noting (although Fr. Hamilton's Rome time trumps my next comment) that one of my seminary professors worked in the office of the CDF. I think I will have to dig up his phone number and see what the chances of getting an audience are. Okay, last thought, was it just me or did Ratzinger's comment about his precedessor, calling him the Great John Paul, sending a tingle down their spine.
Viva il Papa, Benedictus XVI!

It's official. It's so bizarre to see Ratzinger, excuse me, Benedict in the white. I am so filled with joy that my hands are shaking. The future is so bright right now, my biretta is going to need a visor.

It, of course, would be useless speculation about how this pontificate will be different from the predecessor's but one does wonder about the future.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger has been elected the 265th Pope of the Holy Roman Church and has taken the name Benedict XVI. I was already prepared to be delighted with whomever was elected. That Cardinal Ratzinger was elected is just that much better! I have already used my white shoe polish (first employed for some antics on Fr. Tharp's car at the Chrism Mass) to write the message on my car: "Viva il Papa!"
Habemus Papam!
We are still waiting for the announcement of who was elected and what his name as Pope is. Let me just say, I am so excited for this time period in the Church. Even though I do and will continue to miss Pope John Paul II, I am looking forward to continuing to live my share of Christ's Priesthood in obedience to another successor of St. Peter, whoever he may be!
Adventures in Work Avoidance

I know I should be working on my article for the diocesan newspaper which is due in about three hours, and I promise to get right to it, as soon as I tell you this idea I had and make myself an expresso. Here it is.

I have a new story line for Star Trek. Yes, I know, I was the first to dance with glee around the corpse of Enterprise, but I think my idea will work. I call it Star Trek: Civil War. The premise is that the Klingon Empire decides that they want to be part of the Federation and seek entrance. At the same time, Bajor seeks admission to the Federation while simultaneously building relations with Cardassia. As a sign of the momentous union of the Federation and Klingon Empire, an agreement is struck to build a pair of space stations -- Klingon design in orbit around Earth and Federation design above Qu'Nos. And everything is going great, until...the Federation station explodes on the day of its dedication. This sets the stage for an investigation that spans the entire galaxy, giving a great opportunity to revisit places and events that might have more meaning now. Mainly, the hope is to expose how many people are truly dissatisfied with the Federation, thus creating thousands of possible suspects. The investigation leads to the outbreak of civil war when the true instigators are uncovered, probably somewhere in the middle of season two.

I haven't ironed out the crew and the storylines but what I like about this idea is it allows for very complex story telling that isn't necessarily resolved in 44 minutes. Of course, that means it won't sell, but you heard it here first.
The New York Times > International >Strike Two!

I would suspect that the problem is some candidates perceived leniency on the question of whether or not one commits gluttony if one consumes the entire pint of Ben and Jerry's in one sitting. They, at this time, are leaving the moral cooperation of television in binge snacking out of the equation.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Clueless, Party of Everyone at the AP

Okay, folks, get ready for some ill-formed but well-founded rage. Once again, you would think that the Church runs like the world. For all those aspiring Woodward and Bernsteins out there, you might as well bag it. The pope isn't going to resign because secret allegations suddenly surface. The pope needs no vote of confidence from me or from anyone else in the WORLD because it doesn't depend on us. If that sort of posture makes me ultramontanist, then I am ultramontasist and loving it!
Sarcastic humor? Moi?
Today, I helped at an end-of-the-year "closure"/retreat for the Senior class of Bishop McGuinness High School (my alma mater) here in Oklahoma City. My main duty was to offer the Holy Mass in the morning for the start of this day.

One of the activities the kids had to do was a challenge for which they were divided into teams and given different tasks at about nine different stations. I was the moderator for the intellectual challenge. The groups would come and have their choice of one sealed envelope containing a question they were to solve in order to get points. Keep in mind that I had not participated in writing the questions and I had not even seen the questions before the students themselves opened the envelopes and worked on them. I only had the answer key provided to me. I thought I would share one of the questions and some of my sarcasm when the kids would ask me questions about the question-writer's intentions (which, of course, I had no knowledge of since I was only moderating this particular challenge).

The question was something like this. "It is common knowledge that when smoking a cigar a portion of it is necessarily left unsmoked -- the butt. Five cigar butts is roughly equivalent to one cigar. You have 25 cigar butts. Putting the butts together, how many cigars could you then smoke?"

The kids were doing the math and trying to see if there was any trick to the question and they kept asking me if these were standard-sized cigars etc. I finally said: "Kids, if you are asking me what I think about this, I would say this is an uncultured act of desperation to be piecing together cigar butts in order to make a cigar. If that is what is going on, I would say this is a clear indication that it is time to get a job and buy real cigars like any other sensible person would do!"
Strike One!

Well, what did you expect?
Aren't I a Stinker?

Last night, Fr. Hamilton called me right as I was headed to bed. After a brief conversation, he threw down an ultimatum that I had to contact him immediately, and he would do the same for me, if I heard anything about a new Holy Father. I returned the favor. I just sent a text message which said the following:
Habemus Papam! B. Streisand, Joan II.
The New York Times > International > International Special > Top Cardinal Extols Catholic Doctrine as Conclave Begins

I hate to say that I am campaigning for anyone, but ooooh, it makes me giggle with delight at the thought here in the U.S. of Ratzinger as Pope.
For Lent I gave up watching TV. In addition to reading spiritual works, and finishing a latch hook pillow for my sister, I finally read "Moby Dick". I cannot say I enjoyed the novel all that much, but then I saw the above in the news and I thought God must have been preparing me for something. Wednesday is my day off, and I plan to visit my parents who live in Trenton, so the only question that remains is "Where did I put my harpoon?"
Liturgical Footnote #10
By Fr. J.C. Garrett

As has been already noted, the first reading at Sunday Mass is from the Old Testament; with the exception of during the Easter Season when we read from the Acts of the Apostles. In Catholic Bibles there are 46 books in the Old Testament. Most of these books were first passed down orally before being written down. They were composed over several centuries, and contain various literary styles. While we can look at each book as a separate work, we must also look at the entire Old Testament as a single Revelation. God loves us, and He wants to share (communicate) His life with us. God reveals Himself to us in His Creation, but He has also made Himself known to us through the Holy Spirit inspiring Sacred Scripture. Of course the most complete revelation of God is Jesus Christ. In a very real way, all of Scripture has a common author, the Holy Spirit. The “Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation” (Dei Verbum; DV) issued by the Second Vatican Council teaches that the Holy Spirit is the principle author of Sacred Scripture. There are a few erroneous ways of considering the relationship between the Holy Spirit and the human authors of the works with compose Sacred Scripture. On the one hand, it is not a mere mechanical dictation, with the Holy Spirit telling the human author word for word what to write for DV clearly teaches that the human authors are real authors who employed their skills (given to them, of course by God). On the other hand, the Holy Spirit did not just give the Divine “seal of approval” to works written by the human authors. God had a definite message that He wanted revealed to us, thus DV states, “that the books of Scripture, firmly, faithfully and without error, teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the sacred Scriptures.” It is very important to keep both the Holy Spirit (primary) and human beings as true authors.

St. Augustine noted in one of his famous sayings that the New Testament was hidden in the Old, and the Old Testament is fulfilled in the New. As we have noted, the Old Testament reading at Sunday Mass was selected because it is supposed to reflect in some way the Gospel reading for that Sunday. Sometimes this connection is more obvious than times. The study of typology, of how one thing foreshadows another, is often useful in seeing this connection. For a good introduction to typology and a basic introduction to Biblical theology, I recommend Scripture Matters, by Dr. Scott Hahn. While it is very important to solidly grounded in what the Church calls the ‘literal sense’ of the Scripture (what is really being said based on literary style, historical context, etc), as Fr. Francis Randolph notes in his book, Know Him in the Breaking of the Bread, “We must remember that we are not saved by knowing about the history and archaeology of Palestine; we are saved by knowing Jesus Christ, and the value of the Old Testament is in what it tells us about him” (p. 71).

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Novena for the Conclave & New Pope
We began a new novena tonight in my parish. It consists of a few prayers with the Rosary and a Novena to the Holy Spirit occupying centerstage. The intention of this novena is to pray for the Cardinals as they prepare to enter the Conclave and to already anticipate the new Pope's ministry by praying for him. Should the Pope be elected while we are still praying this novena, we will make the intention more strictly for him. Again, this novena was well-attended, much like the previous novena of mourning for Pope John Paul II had been.

As regards credit: I put together this novena from several different sources and different prayers. Some is from Scripture. Some from JP II's Apostolic Constitution on the Vacancy of the Apostolic See. I wrote the statement of intention myself. There is the Rosary and the traditional Holy Spirit prayer. I should give credit to Dr. Mark Miravalle, whose prayer I used as an "additional prayer" towards the end of the page. Also, the concluding prayer comes from an old Missal, pulled off of a novena on Catholic Exchange. I thought I would share this compilation in case any priest out there might like to use it publicly or any other person might like to use it publicly or privately. It is free for the taking. I think it is rather pious, if I may say so myself. The novena prayers follow below:

Novena to the Holy Spirit

Read: Acts 1:12-14 (The first novena).

Read: Pope John Paul II, Universi Dominici Gregis, n.84
84. During the vacancy of the Apostolic See, and above all during the time of the election of the Successor of Peter, the Church is united in a very special way with her Pastors and particularly with the Cardinal electors of the Supreme Pontiff, and she asks God to grant her a new Pope as a gift of his goodness and providence. Indeed, following the example of the first Christian community spoken of in the Acts of the Apostles (cf. 1:14), the universal Church, spiritually united with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, should persevere with one heart in prayer; thus the election of the new Pope will not be something unconnected with the People of God and concerning the College of electors alone, but will be in a certain sense an act of the whole Church. I therefore lay down that in all cities and other places, at least the more important ones, as soon as news is received of the vacancy of the Apostolic See and, in particular, of the death of the Pope, and following the celebration of his solemn funeral rites, humble and persevering prayers are to be offered to the Lord (cf. Mt 21:22; Mk 11:24), that he may enlighten the electors and make them so likeminded in their task that a speedy, harmonious and fruitful election may take place, as the salvation of souls and the good of the whole People of God demand.

Statement of Intention (All recite together):
(Before the election): O Holy Spirit, Almighty God, we offer these novena prayers for the intention of the Cardinal Electors of the Holy Roman Church that, according to Your promptings and Your Will, they may faithfully select for Your Church a new Pope who will guide us to eternal salvation and to life with You.

(After the election): O Holy Spirit, Almighty God, we offer these novena prayers for the intention of the new Supreme Pontiff of the Holy Roman Church, Pope (Name). We pray that he may be filled with Your grace, Your blessing, and Your wisdom, so to be faithful in proclaiming the Gospel, teaching us Your Truth, and guiding us into the flock of the blessed in the eternity of Heaven.

Rosary: In particular, the Glorious Mysteries would be appropriate.

Novena Prayer:
All: Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of Your love.

Leader: Send forth Your Spirit and they shall be created.
People: And You shall renew the face of the earth.

Leader: Let us pray. O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant us in the same Spirit to be truly wise and ever to rejoice in His consolation. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

Additional Prayer (Before the election) All recite together:
Heavenly Father,
We, the People of God, gathered in solidarity as did the disciples in the Upper Room, pray for the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Cardinals who will be in Conclave for the election of the next Vicar of our Lord Jesus Christ. May the hearts of our Cardinals be open to the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, beyond any human judgment, to elect the candidate most pleasing to you, Heavenly Father, and who will guide the Church at this momentous time in history at the beginning of the Third Millennium.
We invoke our Mother Mary, united in prayer with the disciples in the Upper Room, to intercede for our Cardinals to select the next Pope in docility to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, her divine Spouse. Holy Mary, Mother of God and of the Church, we entrust this Conclave to your maternal and Immaculate Heart, and we offer these prayers for your guidance and protection over the choosing of the next Vicar of your Son.

Closing Prayer (Leader):
O Lord, with suppliant humility, we entreat Thee, that in Thy boundless mercy Thou wouldst grant the most holy Roman Church a pontiff, who by his zeal for us, may be pleasing to Thee, and by his good government may ever be honored by Thy people for the glory of Thy name. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who with Thee livest and reignest world without end. Amen.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Ecumenical lunch
I had an interesting experience today about which I am most happy. In the course of getting my frequent fix of cappuccino, I have become friends with two retired gentlemen who attend the Methodist ecclesial community in town. They invited me to a local gathering of men for lunch today.

The placed is called "The Dunes". It is located a bit out of town, out in a rancher's field. There is a little shack with a wood burning stove and a few places to sit inside. Outside there is a pavilion like shelter under which is located a large firepit with a big grill resting over it. Around this pavilion area are a few long picnic tables and many large wooden spools (the kind used to coil huge cable), which are set on end to create round tables at which you stand. You do have to watch for cow patties! Each Friday (weather permitting) local men come by for lunch. Only men are allowed and you have to call in by 10:30 a.m. in order to ensure enough food. The men who come (probably some 35-40 each time) have things working like clockwork. Several guys get together and make the hamburger patties. Another guy makes "salad," which is a mixture of diced onions, diced jalapeƱos, and diced red bell pepper, sauteed on the grill and used as topping for the hamburgers. Occasionally there is a dessert (today was peach cobbler) cooked in a iron pot, buried in the ground with hot coals placed on it. Someone else opens up the back of a pick-up truck revealing coolers offering cold beverages.

For only five dollars you get two hamburgers, two drinks (soda and/or beer), and dessert. And it is delicious and greasy, like only an isolated shack free of Health Department meddling can give you! All in all a very enjoyable and interesting experience. And maybe even ecumenical!
Novena madness
Today we are starting up another novena in my parish. We have been full of novenas lately (and I love it!). We started in Holy Week with the Divine Mercy Novena, being completed on Sunday, April 3rd in the afternoon. That very evening we began a novena for the repose of the soul of Pope John Paul II, being completed this past Monday, April 11th. We have had a few days pause now and tonight begins our novena to the Holy Spirit for the Conclave. Each day's Mass during this novena is for the "Cardinal Electors in Conclave". In addition, each evening we will pray the Rosary with some special prayers to the Holy Spirit and a prayer for the election of the new Pope. This is an exciting time.
I haven't watched Letterman much at all lately. However, last night I turned it on and watched a bit. He aired a new segment last night called: "It's not that bad with funny music." Since yesterday was the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, it was the subject of the segment. The segment featured a clip from an old black and white movie of the Titanic piercing the sea and sinking downward. In the background was some very wacky, totally silly music. I was pretty shocked and thought the whole thing in bad taste. I will admit that the image of the Titanic presented with the truly ridiculous music did make me laugh, but I was uncomfortable about the whole thing. I was really surprised that Dave didn't acknowledge how "over the line" and inappropriate the "joke" was (afterall, he is in the habit of doing that when a joke is in bad taste). Instead, he just moved on to the next item on the show without comment. The audience did laugh, but it was muted and it seemed that everyone was generally uncomfortable with the segment. Did anyone else see this segment? What say you?

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Why the world will always need the Dominicans

No, this is not a blatent plug for joining the Third Order (Jointodayjointodayjointodayjointodayjointoday). This is just case in point of the genius of St. Dominic and his followers and how God gives the Church exactly what she needs for her benefit. This excerpt is taken from the Dilbert Ruling Class E-Newsletter. (This doesn't mean that the CRM hegemony is their pawn; it's more like internal inflitration to take them over.)

"A few months back, the people in my office were talking about Mel Gibson's new movie, The Passion of the Christ.

One of my coworkers, a young 20 year old secretary, mentioned that she wasn't sure if she was going to go see it because it would be too sad. That's when I jokingly told her that 'It's okay; he comes back in the end. I read the Book.' At which point she says, 'There's a book?'"
Travel on a Budget?

I guess it's less expensive...kind of....
Willing myself to be unsurprised and failing miserably

I always thought that the Church's use of the word "exposure" to describe placing the Consecrated Host in the monstrance had a double meaning. In the first sense, it is obvious what is meant -- to show or to make visible. In the second sense, it is not so clear -- to place in harm's way. But that is what happens with Eucharistic Exposure. He is certainly seen, but at the same time, he is placed in harm's way. The harm can come from our hardness of heart or even from direct profanation. This should not surprise us either. Maybe it's the clearest proof for the reality of the Holy Eucharist. That what happens to the Eucharistic Christ mirrors exactly what happened in Christ's earthly ministry.

Of course, my shock is waning and now I sit and charge up my lightsaber and phaser rifle. What to do about this seems obvious. Since Ebay claimed that they wouldn't host these kinds of auctions, then all that remains is some enterprising lawyer to start a class-action lawsuit. If you are using Ebay, send them an email telling them that you and everyone you know will not be using their service any more. Also, we need to make an act of reparation for this sacrilege. I will go looking for some appropriate material for the use of all interested parties.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Tomb of Pope John Paul II
An Italian newspaper has shown photos of the Pope's tomb in the crypt of the Basilica of St. Peter. Here it is:

And this close up shot:

I'm surprised that modern numeric script was used for the dates of his pontificate shown on the lid of the tomb. I had expected that Roman numerals would have been used. I can't remember how the dates of pontificate were listed on other papal tombs, with Roman numerals or not. Can anyone add information to this?
Attention People of God
I daily read the Vatican web site for news and press releases. Here are some notes from today's Press Release following the conclusion of today's Seventh General Congregation of Cardinals.

The 134 Cardinals present recommend to the Bishops and to the Priests of the Church to use the Formula of the Holy Mass "For the Election of the Supreme Pontiff". They also renew with insistence the exhortation to the whole People of God to accompany with intense prayer these days of preparation for the Conclave so that the Holy Spirit may assist the Cardinal Electors.

Apparently, journalists will have a sneak peak at John Paul II's tomb tomorrow and it will be open for public viewing beginning on Wednesday, April 13th.

So, Bishops, Priests, and all of God's People: Get to it! Let us join in fervent prayer for the Holy Spirit's guidance of the Church in this critical, exciting, and hope-filled time of history. And some people claim we average folk don't have a voice in the Conclave! I think the Holy Spirit knows how to speak for us.
CRM Readers: Unleash your power!
I received a kind e-mail today from Scott over at the Troglodyte informing me about prayer needs for a former parishioner from my first parish (we have both since moved). It seems Don Cook has stage 4 melanoma and his treatments are not meeting clear success. There are some new worries of late. So, it is time to unleash spiritual power. I ask you to please pray for Don, his wife Denise, and their girls, Sammy Jo and Carlye. May they know the presence of Christ in the midst of this trial!

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Answered a Question That I Hadn't Thought About

Tip o' the Biretta to Fr. Tucker at Dappled Things for this one. It is a pleasant coincedence of information as I am re-listening to the history of the Oxford English Dictionary.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Taking the Bull Distributor by the Horns

What I am about to suggest is going to be noisome, even nauseating for some, but it struck me as a really interesting response to a current problem presenting itself. The problem is the media folks are generally hovering somewhere between clueless and useless on matters concerning the Catholic Faith. The worst offender, at least based on comments here, is Chris Matthews. Apparently, during the Papal Funeral, he commented that the sign of peace was the time people say hello to their neighbors. If you don't see the problem with his statement, please stand over there with Mr. Matthews so I don't have to say it twice. The Sign of Peace is a greeting of forgiveness. Peace is not hello; it's "I'm sorry and I forgive you." That's why you don't have to troop all over the parish church to extend it. The people you are sitting near are the ones to whom you must extend forgiveness and from whom you must receive forgiveness -- mainly because they are either your family or your circle of intimates. This matter was so serious that in the early Church at least, if peace was not exchanged, both parties were ejected from the Sacred Liturgy until the matter could be resolved. So, this weekend when you exchange the sign of peace, think forgiveness and apologizing to your neighbor. Tirade complete.

Now, given the sorry history of catechesis over the last 40 or so years, a trend gladly but slowly changing, it really shouldn't surprise anyone that the average joe or jane is going to be clueless about what the Church teaches. When CCD is reduced to cut, color, and draw, that's what happens. But what if we, the reasonably well-informed Catholics, took the bull by the horns and started answering the errors? Don't be nasty or hostile. Don't even assume ill-will. Just presume a certain degree of cluetard-hood and gently kindly explain it. For this to work, we would all have to send emails. Don't just wait for the CRM staff to get whipped up -- grab a book and do the research. Then send a nice, brief email written as though the person receiving it wants to know the facts but simply doesn't have them. The only irritating part of this is we would have to watch their shows. This could be good too though. We could offer it up for all those times we are unwittingly abrasive or rude.

Anyone with me on this?
Let's all tip our hats to the gift of Prudence

A good sign in this priest's opinion. Although, I did find Navarro-Valls's comment a bit...oh, what's the word...unctious. It is a bit too picked, too affected. Why shouldn't the fourth estate get snubbed? They don't show much interest in giving the Church a fair shake so don't let them have any access. When they are ready to treat the Church with the respect and devotion she deserves, then we can talk about restoring access.
Very, very interesting...
I continue to marvel at the workings of Providence regarding the timing of Pope John Paul II's death: During the Easter Octave (having seen the Church through her memorial of the suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ, the Pope then experienced his own Triduum and Easter), on a First Saturday of a month (typically dedicated to Holy Mary), and on the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday (which had already begun liturgically-speaking since sundown of Saturday begins the Church's vigil observance of Sunday). And now I just recognized something else that is quite interesting regarding the timing. For those of us who began our novena, the nine day period of official mourning, on Sunday, April 3, guess what falls on Monday, April 11th, the final day of the novena? The memorial of St. Stanislaus, the saintly Bishop of -- you guessed it! -- Krakow, who himself had to stand up to evil government, and who is the Patron of Poland! Amazing, huh?!

Friday, April 08, 2005

Not exactly what was advertised.

When I hit this link initially, (tip o' the biretta to Drudge Report), it was supposed to be to a story about how the Vatican is considering a TOTAL media blackout surrounding the papal conclave. I couldn't find that in the article it took me to, but it was interesting reading nonetheless. Okay, let me gently rub my temples so that I don't use the Force to crush anyone's larynx undeservingly. 1.) Only Americans could be upset about this. Like so much of the media reporting on this, only Americans can feel threatened and not a wee bit slighted when people and celebrities don't run panting to pour their guts out to the first chatter-monkey from CNN. 2.) Like creches at Christmastide, media blackouts should be expected for conclaves. After all, again, like Christmas, it's in the NAME. "Conclave" comes from the Latin "with a key" meaning BEHIND LOCKED DOORS. That's to keep bribery out and the cardinals about their work sans the mealy-mouthed interference from ... well, you get the picture. While I am on it, let me add two other things that hacked me off and belong on this list because they devolve from the general poor education, preparation and motives unscrupulous. 3.) While using the bathroom, and thus was trapped, one of the tabloid news programs came on with the report promising to give the real inside scoop on Opus Dei. Yes, every bullcracker about secret this and manipulated that came out to play. Still think The DaVinci Code is just a piece of fiction and therefore we can ignore it? That's all the bleached blonde news-bimbo, and if you had actually seen the dress, bimbo is the nicest word that comes to mind. The choicer ones stayed in the rectory lounge. 4.) The local Fox News Afflilate carries some pompous commentator who gives "the Point" as an op-ed for the channel. Well, today he will examine whether or not Catholics were "too late" in addressing The DaVinci Code. Too late? Let's see how many books came out? How many bulletins did Catholic Answers circulate? And then one does this newsman want the Church to do? Round up and burn copies of the book so that we can preserve orthodoxy? Right...that would be so good. This is a classic example of "damned if you, damned if you don't." However, I will say that Catholics (yes, you reading this) do need to be better versed on the lies and how to answer them. After all, if someone wrote a book that said your mother was a liar, a whore, and a bank robber, you would not be satisfied with "it's just fiction; what are you so upset about?," would you?

Okay, thanks. I feel a lot better although I do sense what seems like millions of souls crying out at once before ceasing to exist. Oh, ooops...It turns out my tirade accidentally wiped out Alderaan. My bad.
Talk a Walk on the Papal Side

For those who simply must know more about the Holy Father's life and ministry, check out this monstrously cool tribute on the Vatican Website.
The Pope's Funeral in Guymon
For today's morning Mass (there were a few extra folks in attendance) I used the same readings that were used at the Vatican for Pope John Paul's funeral. I also used the same Mass texts from the Roman Missal (Sacramentary). In addition, at the end of Mass, kneeling before the exposed Blessed Sacrament (we have Adoration every Friday), I also used some of the commendation prayers and the chanted Litany of the Saints which were used at the Pope's funeral (I translated them from the Vatican web site which was kind enough to have the full program for the funeral posted in Latin and Italian). It was very moving and gave us some sense of participation in the Church's liturgical farewell to her Pope.

Currently in the church, Adoration continues until Benediction tonight at 10 p.m. I also have the CD "Abba Pater" over in the church, playing softly over the sound system -- it is at once both comforting and bittersweet to hear Papa's voice in the church playing from that CD.
I have been looking into a web-based program for teaching/learning more about the Catholic Faith. The site is called, and it is a Lectionary based program of catechesis for children starting in kintergarden through high school, and it even has an Adult Education program. For the children there are four levels (Prostulant, Novice, Professed, Proficient), each lasting for 3 years. What I like is that it is a Monday through Friday program, each lesson taking 20-40 minutes, this makes the point that living our Faith is not just reserved for an hour on Sunday. Each lesson begins and ends with a prayer, and the lessons mostly makes us of resources on the Internet. There is also a structure where each day focuses on a particular aspect of the Sunday reading (e.g., Fridays' lessons focuses on moral issues). And the lessons seem very contemporary; I checked out today's lessson in the Adult Education program and the moral issue being discussed was euthanasia and in addition to taking me to the Catechism of the Catholic Church's sections on this topic, the other articles were very Catholic discussions of the Terri Schiavo case. Parishes can sign up for a free "code" which then families can then use to get a discount for signing up, and then the parish DRE/CRE can then check the dates and times each child signs on and off the site, and their quizz grades. While with 700 students in my Religious Education program, it might become unmanageable for us, for a smaller parish it might be very workable. The parish could then have a group gather for each level once a month to share their portfolios and what they have learned (promoting whole family catechesis). They also have a sacramental preparation program (each consisting of 12-15 lessons) which I am evaluating for use with students who move into the parish after missing a lot of our standard sacramental preparation program so that they can "catch-up".

I have been very impressed by the program so far, and may actually sign up for the Adult Education program myself. Another recommended web-based Adult Faith formation program is the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, which is run by Dr. Scott Hahn. They have Bible study programs, at the beginner, intermediate, and advance levels, each lasting about 6 weeks. It is free, they just ask that you register.
My Silence...
I know that I have been very quiet on CRM for sometime. Please be assured that it has not been due to a lack of interest, but more because of a lack of time and energy. The parish to which I am assigned is rather big, and I am the liturgist for the parish. I was not sure if I was going to make it through Holy Week with all the liturgies I had to plan. While I do have a wonderful group of parishioners who are ever willing to pitch in, they still expect me to be there to supervise. So in addition to planning the liturgies, I had to supervise the decoration of the church and auditorium (where we have the "overflow" Masses), coordinate with our RCIA team, and train the Altar Servers. All went very well, but I gained an appreciation of the old clergy joke, "Christ arises on Easter, but it kills the priest."

I was hoping to have some "slow" time now, but the Holy Father's death naturally called for more liturgies. We had a Memorial Mass on Tuesday for the parish, and then yesterday we had a Memorial Mass for the two schools (so about 2000 people). I was the celebrant for both of those Masses. While of course there is much sadness about the loss of such a Holy man, this has also provided such teachable moments about the Catholic Faith, and the hope we have rooted in the Resurrection of Christ Jesus.

In surfing the Net for different comments about the Holy Father's death, I have been moved to see just how much he inspired and moved so many from other faiths. I have seen articles by Evangelicals and Jews and Moslems who call him "their Pope." I believe that Pope John Paul II's heroic preaching of the Truth of Jesus Christ, in charity, has planted the good seed, and it will bear the fruit (or I should say, continue to bear the fruit) of many conversions.

It is a shame that most of the "dissent" has come from so-called US Catholics, with their agenda for sexual liberalism. I was deeply hurt and angered by the comments of MSNBC's Chris Matthews ("Hardball") who basically blamed John Paul II for the AIDS epidemic in Africa, the shortage of priests, and the priest sexual abuse scandal. His logic escapes me, and I have challenged him on it. One of my favorite writes is Maggie Gallagher, who writes for the NY Post. She seems to really get it. First she correctly understood the witness of hope the Holy Father gave in his final illness when so many were calling on him to resign. In today's NY Post, she has a wonder piece on "Catholicism's Future: Sexual Liberals, out of step."

Let us learn from the example of Pope John Paul the Great, who lived what he taught; even in his last written address he exclaimed, "Love converts hearts and gives peace."

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Reading, listening ... and crying
I think it has finally hit me that Pope John Paul II has died. I am listening to my copy of the CD "Abba Pater" (which the Pope's Secretary, Archbishop Dziwisz, actually gave me), reading the Pope's Testament, and crying. The sadness is certainly from the passing of a man I revered and who has had such an important place in my life for almost my entire life. But, if I am totally honest, the sadness is also partly because I am not much like him.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Now wait a minute(man)!
What is this business with the group calling itself the "Minutemen" patrolling the desert in parts of the Arizona-Mexico border? Folks, I think the notion of these self-appointed border agents is offensive and dangerous. I can't believe they haven't been shut down for interfering with a law enforcement agency's work. Maybe I am out in left field here, but I do not support this at all. I think it has the potential of becoming a major problem (aren't these guys carrying guns?). But that is not even the real point. I guess, when it comes down to it, I am not in favor of having an hermetically sealed border.
It's not St. Peter's Square, but I am pleased
We don't have millions flocking to our parish church to honor Pope John Paul II, but I was very pleased by tonight's Mass attendance. We had about 230 people come for Mass. And, I believe most all of them stayed as I led the Rosary immediately after Mass. In my homily, I told about a couple of the times I had met Pope John Paul II and had Mass with him in his private chapel. Then, after Mass and the Rosary, I rushed over to the Parish Hall to talk to the combined Junior High and High School youth groups about the interregnum. It was a very busy evening.

Now that we know the start date of the Conclave, I have scheduled a few Masses with the intention "Cardinal Electors in Conclave". I think I will make that the daily intention for as long as the Conclave meets. We will probably also have daily Rosary at that time too.
Conclave to begin April 18th
I have been reading the daily news bulletins from the Vatican Press Office. One of today's bulletins reports that the Conclave is set to begin on April 18th. On the morning of the 18th the Cardinal electors will celebrate a Mass in St. Peter's for the Election of a Pope. Then, first thing in the afternoon, they will enter the first session of the Conclave. Accordingly, I have begun scheduling Mass intentions in my parish "For the Cardinal Electors in Conclave" beginning the weekend of April 17th. We will continue offering that intention throughout the week of April 18th and we will see how long it takes, I guess!
Thank you, Fr. Rutler

To the usual clamorous noisy nonsense of the world concerning JPII, I am so pleased to have Fr. George Rutler on our side. Is it just me but every time you turn on the news, and some polished bobblehead of a reporter opens their mouth, you want to curl up in the fetal position and say, "Stop talking. You can't talk about him; you didn't love him like the rest of us did. Go celebrate your rapidly cannabalistic society of death."

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Giggling with delight
The President of the United States and the Governor of the State of Oklahoma have ordered that flags be flown at half-staff. Therefore, I am giggling with delight that the death of the Bishop of Rome has such a visible effect around this remote part of Oklahoma, smack in the center of the "Bible-belt". The Post Office, the County Courthouse, and public schools have flags at half-staff. In fact -- readers, you'll love this -- as I drove around today I noticed one school had its flag at full staff. So... I called them up to let them know the Governor had declared they should be at half-staff! Call me helplessly Catholic, but these public displays certainly show what is the truth: that the Pope is the Universal Pastor. Whether people of no faith, of other faiths, or of other Christian ecclesial communities recognize it or not, or whether they are willing to admit it or not, the Pope, the Vicar of Christ on earth, is their Supreme Pastor!

Monday, April 04, 2005

What Happens in Patterson, NJ stays in Patterson, NJ

I posted this for the sake of the gamma-ragemonkey, Fr. Garrett, who is currently dispensing comfort to fake victims as well as doing other things that would occur in such a situation. During my jag of reading everything about bioterrorism, a bunch of issues crossed my mind -- especially, how could you hope to dispense the sacraments in the midst of a smallpox outbreak. This sort of thing would be worse than a natural outbreak given that the bugs are engineered to go hot and wild. But we will all be spared the video series Variola Gone Wild! All those topless viral packets, so exploitative, so wrong...
A little uneasy
I just can't believe that John Paul II is dead. I knew it would happen some day and, lately, I knew it would happen soon. But still, it just seems strange. I am glued to the television and I look at the cardinals shown and I just can't imagine any of them in white. There is no doubt that I can feel a major absence, a hole with the passing of our beloved Holy Father. I guess none of these feelings is unique -- in the sense that I am willing to bet this is what Catholics go through each time a pope dies (recall the last time this happened I was in Kindergarten and though I remember the death of John Paul I, I had no sense of who he was, what he did, and what a pope was). Today, I realized that I am really nervous about the conclave. It has nothing to do with any fear that the man elected will be a "liberal" or any other such secular political nonsense. It's just that I am nervous about the absence of a pope and how it will be to see another man dressed in white, what it will be like to adjust to saying a new name in the Eucharistic Prayer (assuming the new pope doesn't take the name John Paul), and what it will be like to adjust to a new voice and a new personality.
Novena activities in my parish
Here in this parish we are trying to observe the novena of prayer for the repose of the soul of Pope John Paul II with various activities. Normally we have the main church open only in the morning for Holy Mass (we have a small chapel that is accessible 24/7). During the novena the main church will be open from the morning Mass until 10 p.m. Each day's Holy Mass will have the repose of the Pope's soul as the intention. Once the Conclave begins the Cardinals will become the intention of each Mass during the days of the Conclave. Each evening of the novena at 7 p.m. a priest is leading the Rosary combined with a nice daily prayer organized by the US Bishops (availabe on their web site: On Wednesday evening we will have a special Mass at 7 p.m. followed by the Rosary. On that evening our normally scheduled Youth Group meeting will focus on the death of Pope John Paul II and what happens in an interregnum. I will speak to the youth on that evening about this topic, also speaking to them about my time of studies in Rome and showing pictures of my meetings with Pope John Paul II. On Friday, our normal Adoration (which usually ends at 7 p.m.) will extend until 10 p.m. with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. I have also placed copies, in English and Spanish, of the US Bishops' novena of prayer in the church for people to use should they come during the day. And lastly, I have placed another text from the US Bishops regarding questions of what happens when a Pope dies, who is in charge, what the cardinals do, and how a conclave works.
It's Just a Pity it didn't make more folks mad...

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Mourning the death of Pope John Paul II. St. Peter Catholic Church, Guymon, Oklahoma. I have also put a bank of candles (out of view) on the left of this scene -- it is getting quite a bit of traffic as people light candles with their prayers for the repose of John Paul's soul. Posted by Hello

Here is a close up of the special candle. I ordered it a few weeks ago from Marklin Candle Design in New Hampshire. It was originally made for the Pope's Silver Jubilee of Papal Election. However, I think it finds a fitting use for this time of mourning as well. Posted by Hello
Leave it to Mark

Just when I got my composure back after taking to my Catechism class, Mark goes and makes me bawl all over again.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

The entry to St. Peter Catholic Church, Guymon, Oklahoma, during the interregnum. Black bunting signifies the death of Pope John Paul II and the absence of a reigning pontiff. Posted by Hello
Liturgical oddity
After shedding a few tears as I watched the television this afternoon and the official reports that Pope John Paul II had died, it suddenly occurred to me: Oh, wow, I guess when I say the Holy Mass this evening, I don't say "John Paul" at the remembrance for the pope, because he is not alive and, therefore, there is no pope to pray for at that part of the Eucharistic Prayer. (Of course he may be, and should be, remembered at the commemoration of the faithful departed.)

So, this morning at Holy Mass, the 2,364th time I had offered the Mass, was the last time I did and will ever mention John Paul (in reference to John Paul II) in the Eucharistic Prayer. This evening, the 2,365th time I have offered the Holy Mass, I simply skipped over the mention of the pope's name and continued directly with the bishop's name.

It is rather odd. We are so used to hearing his name ... and now he is gone.
Sede vacante
The links we provide on the right side of the screen allow you to link to the Vatican. Now that the Apostolic See is vacant (with the death of Pope John Paul II, mind you (none of this, it's been vacant since the death of Pope Pius XII nonsense!)) the Vatican has changed the web site to reflect the current vacancy. It is rather interesting to see it this way. Go to the link and take a looksy. There is great information and stats on Pope John Paul II.

Also, the web site for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has some great texts for prayers for the repose of the Pope's soul and it, too, has information about the Pope's life and stats, etc. I think we will have to provide the USCCB link on the right side of the screen in the future. I just noticed we don't have it and that is a pretty big lacuna.
John Paul II by the Numbers

A tip of the biretta to Carl Olson for this information. Dare we say, "John Paul the Great"? For trivia buffs, there are only two other popes with the honorific "the Great." Name them.
Waiting to Be Revealed

I am going to wait until the Novendiales has passed, but that means on Monday, April 11, everyone -- I mean every one of our regular and irregular readers (I will leave classification to you all) -- needs to check in here. I am sure I am going to throw some sort of protocol out of whack, but what the hey! You'll just have to wait and see...
I am only trying this because I love our Holy Father...
Cardinals Differ on Who Will Succeed Pope

Why I am not surprised at the tackiness of these sorts of reports? Come on...the body is not even cold yet.

Actually, Mark Brumley went up in my estimation when I saw him interviewed on Fox News recently. He was being grilled by one of the anchors, don't recall which, and was asked about who the successor would be. He, obligingly, went through the theories concerning succession, either third world because of burgeoning numbers or Europe in an effort to kick start their Faith. But what impressed me was his personal answer. He said, "Whoever gets elected, I want the man the Holy Spirit wants." Exactly. This is not democracy in action in the Church. The man who goes in papabile usually comes out a Cardinal. So, thankfully, given what is in the Spring/Summer catalog for Ignatius Press, and given that Mr. Brumley is the president (or is it editor in chief) of Ignatius Press, the astuteness of his answer has forestalled a very ugly boycott. This, in spite of not publishing the Borromeo Project... =wink=
On the Verge of Tears

I caught this speech this afternoon. I was really touched by the geniuneness of the Bushes' affection for the Holy Father. At one point, I thought Laura was going to start bawling. As you can imagine, that got me going, and well, it wasn't pretty...
For those with inquiring minds...

Check this out so that you can answer all those hard questions your non-Catholic (and putative Catholic) friends will ask you now the Holy See is vacant.
Pope John Paul II, R.I.P.
As you surely know, His Holiness Pope John Paul II died today, April 2, 2005, at 9:37 p.m. (Rome time). He was 84 years old and had faithfully served the Lord for 26 years as the Supreme Pontiff, not to mention the many previous years as a Christian, a priest, bishop, and cardinal. This is truly a sad day due to the Church's and the world's loss. However, it is also a day of joy for the passing into eternity of such a faithful, holy man. Having studied in Rome, and having met him personally on at least five occasions, I feel this loss in a personal way. But the beauty of Pope John Paul II's life is reflected in that I am betting you feel this loss personally too! May the angels lead him into Paradise! May he rest in peace!

Friday, April 01, 2005

This round goes to you, old chum...

I have to suspect that this is one of the most clever April Fool's Joke played in a long time. It's so evil...I love the joke as much as I loathed Enterprise. Stay Tuned.
Before I run off to the gym...

I was watching Fox News, preparing to run off to the gym, listening to Linda Vester do a nice job interviewing various Vaticani and those knowledgeable of the Pope. As I was reading the ticker, I saw this: "Muslims throughout the Middle East...are joining with Christians as they pray for the ailing Pope..." or something like that. This suggests to me the reality and supernatural dimension of the Papacy. Even now, his peaceful time of translation unites and perhaps challenges all of us to ask who is it that I worship. Wouldn't it be a remarkable last patrimony of this Holy Father to bring many hearts to conversion, that this passing would conquer the last obstacles, and thereby serve as a "gangplack into the Barque of Peter"?
I hope they didn't mean what the title says

I hate to say this because of the overall snark value, but doesn't one get the feeling that the headline wants exactly this, the end of the papacy. Therefore, the logic goes without the Pope we could have whatever we want, female priests, contraceptives, you name it. But that's not the case. The Papacy is the rock upon which the Church on earth stands, granting security in knowing what the Lord hands over for our salvation. So until history ends, you are stuck with the Papacy. Given that the hierarchy is constitutive of the Church's nature, then it follows that even in Heaven, there will be a papacy and hierarchy: they just won't have much to do. They will be too busy, like the rest of us, praising the God of glory, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
In Tribute to the Man Who Changed My Life

As of this writing, the Italian press is reporting that the Holy Father has died. Godspeed to him and may he see the fruits of his labor. Say a "Hail, Mary" for the repose of his soul, he who dedicated himself "Totally Yours" to our Blessed Mother. Relevant Radio is carrying live news -- go there for updates.

I met the Holy Father in 1995. While in the seminary, the students on the Spiritual Year were invited by our New York classmates to join them in welcoming and praying with the Holy Father. So, with 300 of my closest friends, we prayed Evening Prayer with the Holy Father leading us, not only as Shepherd of the Universal Church, but as liturgical father. The seating tickets were provided randomly, but as it turned out, I was seated on the aisle. At the conclusion of Vespers, the Holy Father shook hands with each of the seminarians that could reach him. I expected his hands to be thin, the hands of a scholar, the hands of a man who had never done any physical labor. The hand that met mine was the hand of every farmer I had ever met, thick, calloused, strong. He looked into my eyes and smiled a half-smile. I would like to believe he saw something of the future of the Church in the sparkling eyes of the young men who were working to give away their lives for Christ. One of the other guys in my class said, "It was amazing to see you with the Holy Father. You were transfigured." And it was true. I touched Peter's hands when I touched the Holy Father. I still have the rosary that I received from him. But the transfiguration didn't stop there.

While I was in seminary at Saint Charles, Fr. Joseph Koterski, S.J. made a presentation to the seminarians on the work and influence of the Holy Father. This was right before the release of Fides et Ratio. Because of this, I ended up reading all of the Holy Father's encyclicals, one a month for a year. It was this comprehensive vision that allowed me to see that it is the human person who is the actor in the theological drama.

You see, when I heard the story of his life, how John Paul was an actor, and someone who lost his family early, one who was subjected to poverty, I heard the outlines of my own life. The unhappiness I saw in my life was paralleled but because John Paul, through the theological virtues, rose above it, I knew I could rise above it too. As George Weigel titled his biography, John Paul was for me a witness to hope, a witness to never submitting to the terror of the Fall.

I am sorry. This is very emotional for me. I will try to clean up so that it is more complete.

On this First Friday, our Holy Father walks the way of his own personal cross -- the cross of illness. May he, through the compassionate Sacred Heart, see the fruits of his labors and of his sacrifices.
Oremus pro Pontifice nostro Ioanne Paulo
It is being reported that the Pope's condition is very grave. Let us all make a renewed effort at accompanying Pope John Paul II in his sufferings by our prayers. May he continue to faithfully walk the path of suffering and so enjoy the glory of the resurrection! I certainly don't look forward to his death, but it must come, and so, we should also pray through the intercession of St. Joseph that our beloved Holy Father be granted the grace of a happy death.