Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

I know I watch too much TV, but I am going to be very sorry when The Neighbors is cancelled.

I pretend it's the meta fiction that enthralls me, the self-referential fourth-wall breaking,  but it's not. It's the sheer, snarky silliness.

The Bollywood number had me smiling so hard I thought my face would crack, and am often doubled over in pain from laughing et Dick Butkus, my favorite person of color, (pink...), et al.

Can nothing be done, ABC? Reggie Jackson suggested ABC Family?

Kidneys? Be Honest, Ya Got One You're Not Using

I don't care how much Miller you're gettin' your swerve on with, if you're healthy you have an extra kidney.
And there are a lot of people out there who need it.
And some of them have very little time to live and if only cadaver donations are available they will die before someone else's bad fortune makes an organ available.

You can save someone just like this little princess:
: Think about it.

"Impossibly" Difficult?

I don' thin' that word means what you thin' it means...

Since it clearly wasn't an impossibly difficult choice. Painful, perhaps, but not impossible.

Because you made your choice.

Something was more important to you than another human life.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

"You told me not to hit him, you didn't say I couldn't kick him"

I, who have always been a bit of a sneak and given to casuistry even before I knew the word, have always realized that for the most part, laws and regulations and precepts, like parental rules, are not usually articulated until someone realizes that alas! there are among ones citizens, employees, adherents or small children, those for whom NOTHING "goes without saying."

So, yeah, I probably said those exact words to my Mother or Father more than once growing up.
"Well, you didn't say...."

The Winking Catholics over at the register, or rather, the poor, put-upon Catholic school teachers of Cincinnati they are trying to support, kinda remind me of me. "Well, when I said I was a practicing Catholic and signed a contract, the contract didn't actually say I couldn't..."

What? What??!?#?$%???
The most important aspect of a Catholic school is to pass on the faith???!?!??
We have a ministerial and catechetical function?
When I function as a representative of the Church's teachings I'm supposed to act that way, too, as if I actually believe what the Church teaches?

A silly spokesman for the archdiocese said "the contract doesn’t require anything the archdiocese didn’t already expect of teachers."
Oh, the archdiocese assumed people knew.

"Hey, it only says tie and jacket required."

What You Oughta Know, according to the Pope Emeritus

I am probably the last one who would be interested in this to learn of it, but John Allen wrote a gem of a... well, it is hardly a book, more of a pamphlet,  back in 2007, that is well worth any Catholic's time, 10 Things Pope Benedict Wants You To Know

The ten things are, or perhaps should be, obvious to any inquiring Catholic, but they are profound, nonetheless, (Well done, as almost always, Mr Allen!) and a good synthesis, as far as I can tell with my limited knowledge, of the enormous outpouring of works of theological (and pedagogical!)  genius produced by this future Doctor of the Church.

They are that God is Love, that Jesus is Lord, that Truth and Freedom as well as Faith and Reason are complementary, that the Eucharist is the heart of the of our Christian lives, that Christianity is a positive message, (No! You mean that contrary to everything we've heard from the secular media that idea wasn't just  invented in the past year???? next you're going to try to convince me that Benedict has occasionally kissed a baby, or even smiled!!!!)that the Church should stay out of politics but MUST inform consciences, including those of politicians, that so-called "Catholic identity" does matter whatever the Winking Catholics might say,that Christ and His Church cannot be looked at as anything but inseparable, and that we must be patient. As the Father has always been. Anyway, good, good stuff.

One of the most striking aspects of Benedict XVI's papacy has been how determined he is to phrase his message in a positive key. To take one example, when the Holy Father visited Spain in July 2006, many expected a dramatic showdown with the Socialist government of Prime Minister Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, whose left-wing government has done battle with the Church on a variety of fronts: gay marriage, abortion, divorce, euthanasia, and public funding for Catholic schools. Many Catholics expected fire and brimstone from the pope. Instead, he was doggedly positive, concentrating on the Christian fundamentals, never directly engaging any of the issues that have divided Church and state.
Later, some German TV reporters asked Benedict what had happened. It's worth listening to his reply in full:
Christianity, Catholicism, isn't a collection of prohibitions: it's a positive option. It's very important that we look at it again because this idea has almost completely disappeared today. We've heard so much about what is not allowed that now it's time to say: we have a positive idea to offer, [emphasis added] that man and woman are made for each other, that the scale of sexuality, eros, agape, indicates the level of love and it's in this way that marriage develops, first of all, as a joyful and blessing-filled counter between a man and a woman, and then the family, that guarantees continuity among generations and through which generations are reconciled to each other and even cultures can meet. So, firstly it's important to stress what we want. Secondly, we can also see why we don't want something. I believe we need to see and reflect on the fact that it's not a Catholic invention that man and woman are made for each other, so that humanity can go on living: all cultures know this.
I have been trying to explain to my CCD kids that hurdles and sections of guard rail look pretty much the same...

Monday, 28 April 2014

Each According to His Abilities

Sometimes over at the CMAA board there is a little bit of tension regarding skill-level, education-level, wit-level taste-level, commitment-level, talent-level, erudition-level, sanctity-level, snarkiness-level ... you name it.
And I know some people are scared off from attending the Seven Days of Musical Heaven, that it might be over their heads?

Well, le'me tell ya, most of life is over my head, and certainly I am unable to either absorb or utilize everything I have been able to experience at a number of Colloquia, but IT DOESN'T MATTER!!!!!!!!

It is ALL a grace.

I came across this from Sojourner Truth, which seemed apt:
They talk about this thing in the head; what's this they call it? [member of audience whispers, "intellect"] That's it, honey. ... If my cup won't hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn't you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?
p.s. Christian, not Marxist reference

Obedience, Personal Responsibility, and Saintliness

The human tragedy of the Korean ferry disaster and the picture that I cannot get out of my mind, of doomed children huddled obediently awaiting their deaths, reminded me of the Lady of the Angels tragedy.
I happened upon a tv documentary on that fire, about which I knew nothing, but Himself is older and grew up in Chicagoland, and he said that news story haunted him and every child he knew, even in their suburban public schools. Some blame seemed to attach, even if it was not expressly articulated, to the teaching sisters who kept children praying in the burning building waiting for rescue that never came and to a Catholicism-the-way-it-used-to-be culture of obedience to authority.
When I learned about Our Lady of the Angels I wondered what I would have done had I been a pupil in such a situation.  I was an ornery kid, but I don't know that I was confrontational enough to flout authority in the moment - I was more of a sneak who would argue my, er... principled position brazenly afterwards.
No print report or talking head had made this connection, until, (or so I thought,) this Op-ed piece in the NYTimes.
But no, that wasn't where Roger Cohen was going. While he mentioned the attitudes toward authority that may or may not be specific to the Korean culture, what he really wanted to address was the world-wide, the societal or racial, (and that would be the human race,) erosion of duty and personal responsibility as a value.
I think of that often. As an irresponsible slacker myself, I am acutely aware of other peoples' failure to live up to responsibilities.

I always laugh at polemicists insisting that a vocations' shortage can be chalked up to the fact that the Mean Ol' Catholic Church won't let Her priests have sex.

Do away with celibacy! our sex obsessed society clamors, as if that'll take care of the problem. (Not that most really want the problem taken care of -- the fewer priests, the fewer practicing Catholics - the happier that portion of society'll be. I digress.)

The anti-celibacy advocates are silent on why the other major vocation is also becoming rarer, since, uh.... married people are not only forbidden, they are urged to have sex by the Church.
But again, I digress.

This was the postion of the Cohen piece that caught my eye:
When I was based in Berlin, Germany renamed a military base after Anton Schmid, a soldier in Hitler’s army who disobeyed orders, saved hundreds of Jews and was executed by the Nazis in 1942 for his acts. Schmid, a sergeant, was moved by the suffering of Jewish children in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius who had been condemned to mass slaughter. He wrote of the children to his wife: “I could not think and had to help them.”

I've spent a lot of time talking about saints, and the Church's theology and procedures concerning sainthood the past few days, (haven't we all,) explaining what little I do know to children, to non-Catholics, to marginally practicing and essentially un-educated Catholics.

The universal call to sanctity, and the fact that heaven teems with people whose names we will never know until we, (hopefully,) join them, and the Church's prescriptions differentiating public and private veneration -- all of this seems hard for some people to grasp, and no doubt my inadequate exegesis is to blame.
But I believe I have known many saints in my life.

And just as I am happy to pray for the intecession of Himself's mother, I pray,
Anton Schmid, ora pro nobis
Anton Schmid

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

First World Problems

I have a houseguest who keeps a running commentary on, and critique of the spelling of, the close-captioning on TV.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Sunday, 20 April 2014

The night shall be as bright as day,
dazzling is the night for me, and full of gladness.

Saturday, 19 April 2014


I've wondered, ever since I heard this on EWTN one Holy Week, who this Sister Mary Ada is.
Or was.
Whoever... thank you.

The ancient greyness shifted
Suddenly and thinned
Like mist upon the moors
Before a wind.
An old, old prophet lifted
A shining face and said:
“He will be coming soon.
The Son of God is dead;
He died this afternoon.”

A murmurous excitement stirred all souls.
they wondered if they dreamed --
Save one old man who seemed
Not even to have heard.

And Moses standing,
Hushed them all to ask
If any had a welcome song prepared.
If not, would David take the task?
And if they cared
Could not the three young children sing
The Benedicite, the canticle of praise
They made when God kept them from perishing
In the fiery blaze?

A breath of spring surprised them,
Stilling Moses’ words.
No one could speak, remembering
The first fresh flowers,
The little singing birds.
Still others thought of fields new ploughed

Or apple trees
All blossom-boughed.
Or some, the way a dried bed fills
With water
Laughing down green hills.
The fisherfolk dreamed of the foam
On bright blue seas.
The one old man who had not stirred
Remembered home.

And there He was
Splendid as the morning sun and fair
As only God is fair.
And they, confused with joy,
Knelt to adore
Seeing that He wore
Five crimson stars
He never had before.

No canticle at all was sung.
None toned a psalm, or raising a greeting song,
A silent man alone
Of all that throng
Found tongue-
Not any other.
Close to His heart
When embrace was done,
Old Joseph said,
“How is your Mother,
How is your Mother, Son?”
-Sister Mary Ada

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Holy Thursday

Since I am so given to whinging when things at my current parish aren't done the way they should be the way I want them, it is only right that I take the time to praise what is praiseworthy.

We never have an entrance procession, so it is striking and most fitting when it is done, as it was tonight, (though how much better it would have been if they had had a server or two and vested them!) (Ooops, see? I can't help myself.)

Sermon, as usual from the pastor, was excellent, (I wonder if any of my RelEd kids was there, and thus will finally take a stab at guessing what the sign "Source and Summit!" I have put up in our classroom means.

No footwashing, no clacker, (but no bells, either, which we ALWAYS use under normal circumstances, so I'll take it.)

EP I was used, and while that is notable because it is never done otherwise, the striking thing about it was that it was prayed like a great piece of oratory.

The naming of the Roman martyrs! Not rattled off, or stumbled over, but not tarted up with acting, with "helping the text too much, as an acting teacher I knew once criticized and actor whose hammy love of his voice was ruining a moment,) ... no, those names of  martyred saints' were proclaimed, solemnly and proudly, as one would the list of first responders killed in an emergency.

Which I just realized, they of course are, they absolutely ARE - Martyrs as first responders, and the emergent Church in which, or rather, for Whom they gave their lives was certainly in dire straits.

It was moving, and excellently done.

The organist provided a meditative, and rather gloriously harmonized WONDROUS LOVE. (And yeah, I wish she hadn't but if she was going to play an instrumental piece, this was the one to play.)

Christ for our sake became obedient unto death

Sermon delivered by the Prioress of the Rosary Shrine before the mandatum that precedes the Mass of the Lord's Supper.
Christ for our sake became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. We will be repeating this sentence, adapted from St. Paul, over and over again in the next couple of days. In the pre-Vatican II liturgy the repetition began tonight at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper and it is from there that Sr. Maria took the chant responsory which we will sing tomorrow and Saturday at the Office.
The ancient tradition of the Church was not misplaced: Christ’s obedience, which in fact began with his incarnation, begins “unto death” tonight, and not just in the Garden of Gethsemane. It begins here, in the action we are commemorating now, of washing the disciples’ feet. As St. Ephraim the Syrian put it: “Those who serve the Son on high [the angels] saw that he served on earth – washed feet, cleansed souls. Blessed be his submission!” Christ, who, in obedience to his Father, emptied himself of the glory of the godhead and took on the nature of a slave, tonight acts out that servitude. The angels in heaven see it in wonder and awe but the disciples see it as something shockingly misplaced: “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus has to nurse them along patiently; they do not know either the fullness of his glory or the depth of his humility. He finally gets them to understand this as an example for them to imitate. But it is so much more than that!
His next act of self-emptying obedience is the gift of himself in the Eucharist. Under the form of bread and wine he allows himself to be consumed by his disciples, unworthy though they are, and all those who would follow them until the end of time. The very act of the gift, like the very act of washing their feet, makes them worthy. By this gesture he prophetically announces and initiates the final self-emptying that will take place on the cross tomorrow and seal the salvation of the “many” for whom he sheds his blood. With Jesus, all is gift, for which no return is adequate except that of total acceptance, and we, like the disciples, are not even capable of that. “Lord, do you wash my feet?”
In the garden, we see Jesus’ obedience at its most painful. The peacefulness and gentleness crumble and fall away into an almost unbearable agony before the prospect of cruel suffering and death by torture. He reaches out to his closest human companions, but in vain. They are like all of us, once again incapable of understanding as human friends so often are. Jesus must go on alone, doing with naked determination the will of his Father, who at least he feels is listening. By tomorrow even that feeling will have been stripped from him and nothing will be left except obedience unto death. “Son though he was, Christ learned obedience from what he suffered…”
“Therefore God raised him high…” and will raise us with him. Let us pay attention and let us strive for the total acceptance that is our only adequate response.

"A Man Who Rocked 1st Century Jerusalem To Its Very Core"

I once played, (this will come as a shock to anyone who knows what I look like, but this was in younger days.... I digress,) Louise in Gypsy, that is, I played Miss Gypsy Rose Lee, who according to her monstrous mother, "reads book reviews like they was books."
That's actually something I have in common with the character, a tendency to be satsified with secondary sources, when I'm in want of information, not in need of evidence.
I digress again, but only a bit, bear with me.
A little Holy Week reading, I was surfing a bit about atheism, actually, because some talking head on TV had been bloviating, and Himself asked, "Why are so many atheists so nasty?"
I quickly came up with Carl Sagan as a contradictory example, but in general, it does seem to be true, doesn't it?
And I know I've mentioned that my interest in the Extraordinary Form was first piqued by the hatefulness of so many post-VC II types who... well, hate it.
And it seems the God-haters have the same effect on people. Richard Dawkins is a prime example, (although I'm sure IRL on other topics, he is kind and charming.)
But you know, I've never read his Big Book, (just articles, and other people's fawning critiques of his work.)

Anyway, h/t to Damian Thompson for this fascinating example of how God can draw straight with crooked lines. (I am also, of course, gratified that it is my favorite Future Doctor of the Church who "closed the loop" of  faith and reason for the writer.)
[My daughter] recommended I read Richard Dawkins’, The God Delusion... I immediately bought it and began reading. Well, I barely made it through a third of the book....
I found the book a waste of my time as it afforded me no cogent arguments concerning the existence or non-existence of God. In fact, not only was Dawkins disrespectful of opinions other than his own, I found his statements about Jesus to be so ill-informed (and, mind you, I was no fount of scholarly information myself) that I resolved to actually learn something about Jesus Christ....
My sense of The God Delusion is that it is written as a testimony to Dawkins’ belief system (which I call fundamentalist atheism) and that the author cherry picks convenient quotes to bolster his opinion that esteemed scientists (such as Einstein) couldn’t possibly be ignorant enough to actually believe in a supernatural God, no matter what they may have said to the contrary. ... Dawkins is no different than the many Christian authors who write in a similar manner. There is a pre-judgment that whoever disagrees with the premise of the book is, essentially, an idiot! ...
Who was this mysterious figure of Jesus? Obviously, he was a man who rocked 1st century Jerusalem to its very core. Something of great significance happened back then....
And that was the beginning of the last leg of my journey to conversion to Catholicism. In reading to refute Dawkins as well as educate myself and find answers to questions, I discovered the God-man Jesus Christ. Not only did the Catholic view resonate with me emotionally, but perhaps more importantly for me, it was intellectually honest. The Protestant view seemed watered down (maybe part of the reason I left the Lutheran Church to pursue exploration of Judaism).
But my question remained … how did the 1st century world view Jesus Christ?
My search ultimately led me to Pope Benedict XVI’s Jesus of Nazareth and that closed the loop. Not an easy read, but it made sense. The essential belief of the Catholic Church – belief in a supernatural God who condescended to come to Earth in the form of Jesus Christ the God-man to atone for our sins in fulfillment of salvation history – cannot be proven by the scientific method (hence Dawkins’ atheism … although one has to wonder how he can justify proof of God’s non-existence).

Oh, in your charity, please say a prayer for Mr. Dawkins.

The Weight of the Cross, and Some Times I Have Good Ideas

I doubt this is original, but in CCD, two consecutive weeks, (since attendance is so spotty that it might as well have been two different classes,) I had the biggest, (and in one case, baddest,) fifth-grader hold up a stack of chairs.
I piled on chairs until we achieved the point where he could still hold it up, but it required some effort.
Then I asked him and everyone else to imagine that he was made to carry it quite a distance.
Then I asked him and everyone else to imagine that first he had been beaten within an inch of his life. (Throughout, as the bearer's arms began to tire, I had to turn around and admonish him, keep it up.)

Well, I said, that that was pretty much what Jesus did, not because he had to but because He chose to, out of love for us.

And then I said that each one of us has a thousand choices every day, everything we do or say -- we can either do this (I pushed down on the top of the pile,) or we can do this, (I pushed up a little from the bottom, taking some of the weight off.)


It's our choice.

Free will.

We can each help Jesus carry His cross or we can each make it heavier for Him.


There was quite a bit of wide-eyed, open-mouthed nodding, as if they had never thought of it that way before and maybe would from now on. (I had been regretting that I couldn't find a suitable cross, or at least cruciform object, but the surprise of where I was going with it, and it was a surprise to many of them, may have been better, actually)

Then we read a Passion narrative with many assigned characters and talked about which choice each one of their characters had made.
The discussion about Peter and Judas were especially fruitful.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Is Cliven Bundy...

.... an illegal user of public lands for grazing animals for his private gain?

Or is he merely an undocumented one? Maybe his trespass is an act of love.

Wisdom and compassion from....

.... that's right.

Happy Birthday!

Monday, 14 April 2014


(Which loosely translates, appropriately enough, "For God's sake, SAVE us!")
I believe this photo is actually from 2013, but the parish involved had a jolly Palm Sunday again this year. And besides, I like wolves. (Almost as much as I like NETTLETON)
1. Take some flour, and some water, Mix them well in to a paste,
Then recycle some old news print, Tear it! let there be no waste.
Dip longs strips into the mixture, Place them where they need to be
Bring a puppet into being, Show your creativity.
2.How to use these gentle giants? What their purpose? What their use?
Are they toys? a science project? For the stage? Don't be obtuse!
We'll parade them to the altar, Where they'll stand in proud array!
What priest shortage? we'll just build one Out of more papier mache!

"Wherever the Catholic Sun doth shine...."

I finished and filed my taxes.
Then I made a silly comment on a blog about white wines.
Then I thoguht about celebrating finishing my taxes.
Then I considered the fact that it was Holy Week.
Then I came across this:

Funny stuff.
But actually, of the six mentioned that I would drink, only three tell truths, (f'rinstance, don't care much for chianti, and never met a breadstick I didn't like)

Cheers! And benedicamus Domino!

"Conservative or Liberal?" "I can't answer that..."

"..., on what issue?"
"Well, humanist or Christian?
"It is a great thing to be a member of the Church of Both/And.""
Today, having a clear faith based on the Creed of the Church is often labeled as fundamentalism. Whereas relativism, that is, letting oneself be "tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine", seems the only attitude that can cope with modern times. We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one's own ego and desires. 
We, however, have a different goal: the Son of God, the true man. He is the measure of true humanism...."
            - The Future Pope Benedict
An interesting, if not exactly new essay linked by a Facebook friend.
In private life and public policy alike, there exists a particular category of truths that grown-ups and grown-up governments will respectfully acknowledge. For conservatives this amounts to mere common sense. Actions have consequences. Privileges entail responsibility. There is no free lunch. At day’s end, accounts must balance. Sooner or later, the piper will be paid. Only the foolhardy or the willfully reckless will attempt to evade these fundamental axioms.
Conservatives take human relationships seriously and know that they require nurturing. In community lies our best hope of enjoying a meaningful earthly existence. But community does not emerge spontaneously. Conservatives understand that the most basic community, the little platoon of family, is under unrelenting assault, from both left and right. Emphasizing autonomy, the forces of modernity are intent on supplanting the family with the hyper-empowered—if also alienated—individual, who exists to gratify appetite and ambition. With its insatiable hunger for profit, the market is intent on transforming the family into a cluster of consumers who just happen to live under the same roof. One more thing: conservatives don’t confuse intimacy with sex.....And they need to recognize that the political left includes people of goodwill.
                       --Andrew Bacevich
Although, I haste to add, I'm not with him on many of his specifics, and more importantly, on issues with which I believe I do concur with his positions, that I do not agree with some of his assessments of which ships have sailed, (eg, the government sanctioned private murder of the unborn.)  The reach of that thread upon which God has only to twitch is so much greater than the mind can imagine.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

MUST READ: A Pastoral Letter from Joseph Caiaphas

Holy Week reading from Mrs. Donnelly, I believe?
Anyway, brava!
His Eminence Joseph ben Caiaphas the High Priest writes:

I apologise for having to trouble you in this way, as we approach the sacred festivities. Regrettably, we are experiencing considerable difficulty with some of the more recent members of the Sacred Sanhedrin, who seem determined to take an undesirably stringent approach as regards some of the complex moral issues in the Torah. I am not sure how they became members of the Sacred Council of the Seventy. One suspects one may have been impeded from attending the meeting considering their candidature.

One or two of these new members of the Holy Sanhedrin seem not to appreciate adequately that we are obliged to maintain good relations with the powers that be, with the Procurator’s court. If we annoy Governor Pontius Pilate with undiplomatic comments about the exposure of infants, porcine stock-raising, the mercy killing of the chronically sick, or the sexual variations common in Greek culture, we will simply alienate him and his administration.....

The Romans run a vast multi-cultural and multi-ethnic empire, and have to allow for all tastes and practices in both sexual and medical matters. For many years the Sanhedrin has unanimously agreed that we should cooperate with their attempts to build a broad-based and tolerant society, helping to promote the common good.
That fine blog lives on.

Father Rocky Hurts Feelings...

Sure he does, that must be the problem...

Seriously now, what can it mean when a Catholic priest is described as belonging to "an orthodox division" of the Church? It reminds me of a moronic complaint in my old diocesan newspaper that some spoil-sport prelate had tried to insist that Mass had to be "sober" and "dignified."
Ya see what the opposites of those are, doncha? Anyway, Catholic News Agency provides proof that the man how got the Prout students' parents' knickers in a twist is a Big Ol' Meany:
I am writing in response to the “Marriage outside the Church.”
I am appalled and disgusted that you would recommend that “all of his Catholic relatives protest and refuse to attend his wedding, unless he gets married in the Catholic Church.”
ARE YOU KIDDING ME . . . who do you think you are?
 You apparently don’t have any idea how stressful weddings are (I’m in the middle of planning a big one right now) and then you want to heap all of this stress on the poor guy. My biggest problem with this scenario is that your family is supposed to be your support and your soft place to fall and then you go and tell his family to turn against him in what is supposed to be a joyous time in his life. The question doesn’t mention if they are getting married in a church or by a JP or what but nevertheless you should attend the wedding no matter what. Instead of using intimation and ultimatums, why not use mentoring and support, even if it’s after the wedding. He is not going to come asking for advice or guidance from people that decided it wasn’t important to even come to his wedding.
This kind of thinking is what sends Catholics running, screaming away from the Catholic Church. My husband and I are Catholic. I was not Catholic when we got married and we got married in my protestant church. We are coming up on our 30th wedding anniversary and if his family refused to attend our wedding that would have been devastating to him and it probably would have created a failed marriage. We have attended wedding ceremonies in different religions to support our friends.
Catholics need to get a grip . . . it’s not your way or the highway. There are other fabulous churches out there and I think we all need to work together to spread the word of God. If all Catholics were more accepting and open minded, and worked to get along with other protestant religions and other religions in general, the world would be a better place to live.

I think you and I agree on the basics and want strong marriages that will last. Having joined the Catholic Church, I’ll bet you’re also eager for everyone to become a Catholic.  But some of your big-hearted statements raise concerns
You should “attend the marriage no matter what?”  What if one of them is already married?  What if both are men?  No matter what?
The vehemence of your emotion regarding my answer to the marriage question is something I have learned to weather after 20 years in the priesthood.  People don’t like to be told no.  I know from personal experience that it can be dangerous business defending the clear teachings of Christ and the Church about marriage.  St. John the Baptist learned that too.

I regret that you did not read my answer carefully.  What I advised all depends on the word “if.”  Such a small word, I know, but it has great meaning.  For the record, I wrote: “If all of his Catholic relatives protest and refuse to attend his wedding, unless he gets married in the Catholic Church after having received adequate preparation, I’ll bet THAT will get his attention.  More likely, his Catholic relatives are split on the issue, and so the confusion just continues.”

I know of cases where a Catholic was going to get married outside of the Church and almost all of his relatives protested.  Because of the unanimous reaction of the family members, that young man came to his senses and chose to be sacramentally and validly married in the Church.   However, that rarely happens.  Usually most of the relatives acquiesce, and we go from confusion to confusion. Nearly 70 percent of Catholics do not attend weekly Mass, rarely if ever go to confession, and remain quite uneducated about the faith and Church requirements about marriage.  If they knew that spouses who get married in the Church, and make their best effort to practice as Catholics – attending Sunday Mass, confessing at least once a year, avoiding artificial birth control – were 10 times more likely to have a successful marriage, they would do their best to encourage their relatives to get married in the Church.
I am happy that you and your husband are happily married after 30 years.  It’s possible he received a proper dispensation at the time to get married to you in a protestant Church ceremony.  That can be allowed.  It’s wonderful that you became a Catholic, but you can not be a Catholic on your own terms.
Back to the original question: should you attend the wedding when the Catholic gets married outside of the Catholic church?  That all depends on the circumstances.  In no way can you foster a Catholic’s defection from the Church.  If your attendance will serve to keep open the lines of communication with the hope of bringing him/her back to the Catholic Church, then the answer could be yes.  But if everyone refuses to acquiesce, I’ll bet he’ll change his mind.
Finally, as to your remark that “Catholics need to get a grip,” while not altogether theological, it certainly manifests a common attitude today.  We do have a grip, and what we grip is the cross of Christ, sometimes known as Truth. 
If Catholics were interested in a popularity contest, then we would mimic the mega-Church approach with Starbucks and big screens, and never, ever, say a word about divorce, abortion, homosexuality, or gay marriage.  But Jesus challenges us to be more courageous than that.  If he were interested in being popular, he would have changed his teaching on the Holy Eucharist.  As it was, he issued an ultimatum to his followers:  “Do you also wish to go away?”  He did not need them.  He does not need us.  We need him.  We need his Church.  We need his truth.  It’s the only thing that will set us free our selfishness and fear.
(I should add that I disagree strenuously with anyone who says that is the right approach in every case... even those of us who are imprudent need to make prudential judgments sometimes. And Fr Hoffman makes that clear.)
Anyway, Relevant Radio could use a donation.

It is not just in America that we have "Winking Catholics"

Great Britain, in fact, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales seems to be loaded with'em.
Although Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth stated in an interview that denying Communion to someone engaged publicly in grave sin is an “act of mercy” and a “medicinal” remedy for Catholics, and that "when people are not in communion with the Catholic Church on such a central thing as the value of life of the unborn child and also in terms of the teachings of the church on marriage and family life – they are voting in favor of same-sex marriage – then they shouldn’t be receiving Holy Communion,” those bishops without chests hastened to reassure British pols that no, no, they had no intention of acting on the beliefs of the Church.... you know, as if they actually held them.

'Cause you see, receiving communion isn't an act of ultimate intimacy with our Lord Jesus Christ Who gives His Body and Blood for us for Catholics..... nah, it's more like sharing rubber chicken with the other Rotarians, and even some guests who aren't Rotarians, and in fact, think organizations like the Rotarians are kinda silly, and maybe even wrong about some things.

So it really doesn't matter what you do, or what you believe.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Weddings and "Show-offs"

My family, why I don't know, seems to have weddings in Lent, and so we've just had one. A priest friend was vetoed from presiding because he is, in the words of one of the familial PTB a "show-off."
And we've also all just seen the Youtube video of a priest at a wedding doing his Rufus Wainwright, (why RW's is not the archived performance of the lovely Leonard Cohen song " Hallelujah", I do not understand...)

And Catholic bloggers, musicians, and liturgists are all, well, many, yammering about it.
Now, it is unclear to me when or if this song happens in the liturgy, so I am not even certain it is inappropriate: is it before? after?

But could someone please explain how in the name of all that's holy or otherwise, how a celebrant bursting into "special material" during or in the temporal vicinity of a wedding is ""an example of pre-conciliar liturgy" modified or not?

Pre-conciliar is this dude's all-purpose criticism, I'm starting to think, like some kids I know who call things for which they don't care "communist" or "queer" and mean the same thing by either word.

"God Bless America"

An odd thing, I noticed on my stats page that a long-ago post about singing "God Bless America" received a little spike in interest -- but that post was not in reference to the parish, nor the diocese, nor the state, nor the time zone where I engaged in my most recent pique at "liturgical" music!

Is it me?

Do I somehow traipse around the country and just FIND these places?

"Mmmm.... ham!"

Any Catholics out there might want to read 31 Things You Thought About During Mass I haven't thought of quite all of them, but yeah, way too many.
No, of course not "GUI", but...

24.  I can’t believe those people who leave right after Communion…they should stay for the end of Mass and the recessional hymn.

25.  And the recessional hymn is…no!…”Lord of the Dance”?…Can I leave now before my ears throw up?
lord of the dance

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

"I believe in.... no, no, not REALLY, it's just something we say!"

Some time ago I observed a group of catechumens, all of whom had been attending sessions for a minimum of four months, under the guidance of a Winking Catholic.
(You know the type, a transcript would reveal unimpeachable explication of magisterial teaching, so there would be no hints of the eye-rolling, smirking and finger quotes sketched in the air that accompanied the words to assure the newbies that, nah, we Catholics don't really believe that.)
Anyway, the degree to which said WC had communicated the splendour of truth to the catechumens can be gauged by one of them suddenly waking up and saying, "Wait a minute.... you're talking about Jesus as if he was God or somethin'."

There was an incident about which I was not going to write, had I not read about all the Winking Catholics with whom the poor teachers and clergy of the Diocese of Charlotte must deal.
I prepared a little more carefully for the CCD class on Matrimony than I had on any of the other sacraments, because I knew what a minefield it could be.
I actually wrote out talking points to make certain that I phrased things in positive rather than negative ways, (e.g., relationship of man and woman a permanent symbol of relationship of Christ and Church, rather than condemnation of homosexual relationships, which some in this age group would have no understanding of anyway, or discussion of decrees of nullity, ditto); that I used examples and pronouns in such a way that no one could feel personally attacked, judged, described;  that my statements were utterly in keeping with what the Church teaches -- but most of all, I planned several different iterations of the principles that unless the Blessed Mother pops in, everyone in the room is a sinner and that while sinful actions may be observed and even at times judged, ONLY God knows the heart and passes judgement on persons.
I had it better phrased than that, honest...
Anyway, the minefield was intensified by several children who asked, repeatedly over the course of the hour and a half, about divorce. There are enough students for whom I have multiple home phone numbers that I guessed there were probably irregular situations, but I was actually more worried because there are students with close relatives in open same-sex relationships.

None of this seemed to be an issue, however.


Then every teacher in the program was sent a letter, thanks, we know it's a difficult and important job, but you need to teach your classes what the Church teaches, and we have resources to help you do exactly that, and if you can't, we thank you again but good-bye.

And because of that class I decide I must actually go to the priest who wrote the letter and ask, is it I? and was it on this subject?
Because it would not have completely surprised me completely if we had to revisit part of that lesson.

But no, everyone's quite pleased with how that week went, and there have been no letters from home.

Weeks pass.

Then a father arrives, can I speak to you in the hall, my kid says you said, I'll show you my marriage license, why did you ask him if....

Anyway, I was glad to be able to use the NYTimes blogging teacher line about, I promise not to believe every thing your kid tells me happens at home if you promise not to believe every word he tells you about what happened in class.

Anyway, all straightened out, and actually, in  conversation the two of us were able to discern what was really going on -- all of his closest friends parent's are divorced, ALL of them, and several very recently and every time anyone raises a voice the child becomes terrified that that are going to divorce, and maybe they aren't "really" married.

This guy seems to be doing a really good job not just of of living the Faith, but of trying to pass it on to his children.

Which is a WHOLE lot better than the You-Can't-Teach-My-Kid-That-Catholic-Stuff that seems to be going on elsewhere, particularly at Charlotte Catholic High School.

And to those parents, I would like to say what I said to some children in a parochial school choir I directed, when they all came in one week complaining that their parents had been upset by telling them that they were obligated to get their kids to Mass every Sunday, "I'm footing the bill for you to go to that school, they don't tell me what to do, I tell them."

Your parents are wrong. They pay less than 40 percent of what it costs for you to go to school here, and I and the little old ladies on fixed incomes and the young couples who don't have any children yet, who put money in the collection basket every week foot the bill for you to go to this school, and we are only doing that because we care that you are being brought up to be a good, faithful, practicing Catholic. If your parents just want an inexpensive alternative to a private school, I'm not going to subsidize it, and apparently the pastor and principal agree with me. Please tell your parents that.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Apparently some things ARE intolerable...

Brendan Eich was forced out as chief executive of Mozilla, because he donated once donated $1,000 to support a bill retaining the traditional definition of marriage Andrew Sullivan, of all people, had this to say:
“If this is the gay rights movement today — hounding our opponents with a fanaticism more like the religious right than anyone else — then count me out”
Guess what, Mr Sullivan? It is.