Universalis, your very own breviary in pixels...

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Scelata said to him, “Can anything good come out of Michigan?” Jeffrey said to her, “Come and see.”

Good from Michigan? Well, there is the Tuba Museum, and Frankenmuth, and the antique ring from the Wooden Skate with which our troth was plighted, and those signs that say, "Beware, Entering Waffle Country," and Greek Town in Detroit, and...
Okay, lots that's good comes from Michigan.
That said, I was just making a joke, and I really am grateful to the folks at CCWatershed for this article.
Since I've no control over anything, sometimes it's less painful to pay no attention to what is going on, or should be going on, so, yeah, notice of the goings on in Marquette escaped me, this instuction is from January.
But sing  Te Deum and Non Nobis in thanksgiving for the Lord's Providence in granting his people a shepherd like Bishop John Doerfler!
Image result for bishop john doerfler
1. All parishes and schools will learn to chant the Ordinary parts of the Mass in English that are found in the Roman Missal, and they will be sung by the congregation some of the time throughout the year.
2. All parishes and schools will learn to chant the KYRIE, SANCTUS and AGNUS DEI from the Missa lubilate Deo, and they will be sung by the congregation some of the time throughout the year.
3. All parishes and schools will learn to chant the Communion Antiphon in English to a very simple tone that everyone can sing, and the Communion Antiphon will be sung at every Sunday Mass. A hymn may be sung after the Communion Antiphon while the congregation is receiving the Blessed Sacrament.
4. A Diocesan Hymnal will be used to ensure the musical quality and doctrinal integrity of the Sacred Music. The hymnal will include a broad repertoire of hymns from classical to contemporary. 
5. The Diocesan Director of Sacred Music will provide annual, regional workshops for parish musicians to assist them in the implementation of these directives. He will also assist music teachers in Catholic schools to implement Sacred Music in the school curriculum and at school Masses. Finally, he stands at the service of parishes upon request to help implement Sacred Music in other ways.
The directive about the hymnal is actually longer, so read it there if it interests you.
It seems to me that such a hymnal, assuming the standards are well set, is something that could be of immense value to the Catholics of the nation as a whole - The  Petrus Hymnal, perhaps, after the diocesan patronal saint?
And the amzaing thing, if only the NPM types would understand it, is that, withe the exception of creating a hymnal, (which is something on which someone else is doing the heavy lifting, so it is no burden on them,) these directives are EASY.
Do-able by anyone, in any parish, with any resources.

We have a guest priest just now, so, no authority to implement any long lasting change, no ability to direct employees, and yet in less than two weeks great changes have been wrought, changes for the good, tiny and yet remarkable. It is a reminder, if one were needed, how much depends on the priest -  
God send us priests; God, send us many, holy priests!
By the way, since I do enough complaining, let me say that I know how blest I am - my dear pastor may make me crazy, so wedded to liturgical convenience is he, but I never, never need have any qualms about validity, and I am very grateful to him.

Epic Prayer FAIL

A few weeks ago, when there was Exposition at the parish, after maybe three or four minutes of their extremely loud chatting I walked over to a group of about 6 older adults, and carefully smiling, I tapped the one nearest me on the shoulder, and mouthed the words "benediction... adoration," and gestured silently toward the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance.
They moved it outside, but they were not amused.
It came to me that my smile may have been too practiced and seemed insincere.
Image result for sheldon smiling
Perhaps I even scared them.
I resolved to make an effort to be less quick to be annoyed at the lack of decorum sometimes shown by others in Church.
Henceforth, instead of seeking to change someone else's behavior, I would try to pray for them.

Yes, that was it, I would pray for them!

Today, after Mass, while I sat and read, (not for the first time, THANK  YOU,  MAGNIFICAT!!!!!!) really, a perfect reflection, considering, Dorothy Day considering the Little Flower's Little Way of Love, the opportunity arose.

Three women stood not a yard from where I knelt, not particularly old, the eldest couldn't have been 45, nattering full voice about tennis, restaurants, clothes, someone they hadn't seen lately....

I put my fingers in my ears and continued reading, the booklet balanced on the back of the pew in front of me.
I suddenly thought how ostentatious that must have seemed, but i needn't have worried, they had not noticed, or if they had, it didn't phaze them, for their conversation continued. It was loud enough to hear despite my fingers. Someone turned off the lights in the nave, leaving only the sanctuary illuminated, that served as an indication to them to speak more loudly.
Since I could no longer read, it seemed like the perfect time to stop feeling mean feels and just pray for them, try simply to love them, instead.

Complete failure.
I found I only eschewed peevishness by substituting condescension [poor dears! they don't know any better...]. I settled into a state of exasperation, and left.

Falls again for the umpteenth time...

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

I Am Tired of Being Told I Have No Choice As a Catholic But To Vote For Someone Who Proclaims Himself Pro-Life

A man had two sons. He came to the first and said, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ 
He said in reply, ‘I will not,’ but afterwards he changed his mind and went. 
The man came to the other son and gave the same order. 
He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir,’ but did not go. 
Which of the two did his father’s will?” 
They answered, “The first.” 
Amen, I say to you, liberals and left-leaners may enter the kingdom of God before.... well, some conservative darlings.

So Much For Catholic Teaching...

No, I didn't know Mother Angelica personally, but I somehow doubt she would be pleased with this.
Pope Francis offers a special blessing for the repose of Mother Angelica's soul during his general audience March 30, 2016. Credit: CNA. 

Surely, she would have believed that it is an awful thing, the presumption that so many ill-catechized Catholic have which prevents then from praying for the souls of the dead.
When I am dead, I beg you, friends - and I beg you, my enemies - pray for my soul.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Musing About My Glorified Body and Vanity

Stipulating for the moment that none of this applies if I am damned for all eternity....

Is it shallow that I hope that the crevices that have just begun appearing in my upper lip will have disappeared when I've gained my crown?

As it is now, even in damp, warm weather my lips, and pretty much the rest of my lower face look like a map of waterways, with my lips surrounded by  a zillion little tributaries bearing lib balm or chapstick or, when I'm really desperate, cortisone cream. (I know, I know, you're not supposed to use it on your facial skin....)

Monday, 28 March 2016

The Paper of  Record  Axe-grinding?

(You may notice, I have resumed complaining following my Holy Week fast.)
Mother Mary Angelica, nee Rita Rizzo, in the words of the President of the USCCB, an “extraordinary woman, devout believer and media pioneer,” merited a fairly long obit in the au gust ful New York Times, and rightly so.
She had an influence on both mass media and religion in his county such as has not been seen since Billy Graham, I would opine.
The Times, of course, was desperate for a death to outrank hers on their obituary page. They didn't actually find one, though they pretended otherwise.

What struck me in their "reporting" was that they found two American prelates whose opposition to her and her work they could include in the piece.

Well, no, not really that.
Of course anyone who actually accomplishes anything is going to make, at the very least, frenemies.

I think the Cardinal and the Archbishop the Time cited qualify as actual enemies.

But seriously, (and just to let you know where I'm coming from, I have never been a particular fan of Mother Angelica, though I admire her work immensely, and have grown to admire her more and more over the years,) how could you quote a liberal churchman or two with whom she had run-ins without noting that one of them resigned in disgrace and the other was relieved of ministerial duties in his disgraced retirement because, um, SHE WAS RIGHT?
Their liberal "morality" and ecclesiology was bankrupt.

Would you quote Cardinal Law on Church governance without noting ... a lack of credibility?

Saturday, 26 March 2016

"Catholicism is a Very Hands-on Religion"

From the Chrism Mass homily of Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher, OP, who has undergone quite a personal, physical trial.
Michelangelo's Creation of Adam [has been] recently restored, reproduced endlessly and ...the subject of many cheeky internet memes. Painted in 1511 or 1512 as part of his Genesis cycle for the Sistine Chapel ceiling, it has a bearded God, the Ancient of Days, surrounded by His spiritual creation, and a youthful man, brand new humanity, surrounded by material creation. Adam looks languorous, as if a lover just waking from sleep, as he gazes confidently at his Creator.
Instead of the images of God shaping the man out of clay or giving him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to bring life into him that previous painters had used to represent the moment of humanity's birth, Michelangelo chose to focus on the hands of God and man. As God stretches out his hand the man responds as if in a mirror image, declaring with the Book of Genesis that man and woman are made in God's image. Only a sliver of daylight separates God's hand from Adam's, showing both how close God is to us and yet transcendent.
Hands of course have great significance: friends shake hands, lovers hold hands, parents touch and tickle and wash children with their hands, we write, paint, play sport, make music, do manual labour, operate, nurse, drive, and so much else with our hands.
Catholicism is a very hands-on religion. We express our faith with hands together in prayer and with hands open in service. We put our hands to work in making a more just and compassionate world. And all our sacraments involve hands: pouring water, anointing with oil, absolving and blessing with the sign of the cross, holding hands as we make vows and exchange rings, calling down the Holy Spirit at baptism, confirmation and ordination with hands laid upon head and heart, calling that same Spirit down upon the elements in the epiclesis, holding the Eucharistic species at the consecration and again at their reception. Catholic hands are holy hands because they are for directing all creation to God; priestly hands are anointed with Chrism so they will bless and sacramentalize creation as if the hand of God were once more held out to touch us.
The Incarnation, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection.... it's all God loving our bodies, not just our souls.
This has never been an "airy fairy" faith, it's never been about ideas absent an equal focus on real, living, breathing, bleeding, dying people.

But Catholicism is also not NOT about ideas.
This doctrinal/pastoral, belief/practice, faith/works, dogma/mercy binary some try to set up? this mistaken dichotomy that keeps bubbling over, every decade, century, millenium; setting one good against the other -- so misguided.

Rules? laws? rubrics? commandments? naming of and calling out of sin?

They're not to keep you in line, or keep you down, or keep you from being happy-- they're to KEEP  YOU  FROM  HURTING  YOURSELF.

We should thank God for them.

As if the author heard His voice, "Behold - I make all things new..."?

Oscar Wilde was certainly a case study in Redemption.
Any Catholic parent (or aunt, or unlce, or older sibling, or godparent,) who has not read this to his child? Do.
     One winter morning [the Giant] looked out of his window as he was dressing. He did not hate the Winter now, for he knew that it was merely the Spring asleep, and that the flowers were resting.
     Suddenly he rubbed his eyes in wonder, and looked and looked. It certainly was a marvellous sight. In the farthest corner of the garden was a tree quite covered with lovely white blossoms. Its branches were all golden, and silver fruit hung down from them, and underneath it stood the little boy he had loved.
     Downstairs ran the Giant in great joy, and out into the garden. He hastened across the grass, and came near to the child. And when he came quite close his face grew red with anger, and he said, 'Who hath dared to wound thee?' For on the palms of the child's hands were the prints of two nails, and the prints of two nails were on the little feet.
'Who hath dared to wound thee?' cried the Giant; 'tell me, that I may take my big sword and slay him.'
     'Nay!' answered the child; 'but these are the wounds of Love.'
Image result for wounded  hand of christ

A Pope Who Speaks of Mercy

 Image result for wounds of christ
The Lord took His wounds with Him to eternity. He is a wounded God; He let Himself be injured through his love for us. His wounds are a sign for us that He understands and allows Himself to be wounded out of love for us.
These wounds of His:  how tangible they are to us in the history of our time! Indeed, time and again He allows Himself to be wounded for our sake. What certainty of His mercy, what consolation do His wounds mean for us! And what security they give us regarding His identity:  "My Lord and my God!". And what a duty they are for us, the duty to allow ourselves in turn to be wounded for Him!
God's mercy accompanies us daily.

Friday, 25 March 2016

Sweet the Nails, Sweet the Wood....

Wishing the world a prayerful and fruitful Good Friday.
The Lord continues to confound my expectations.
He sweeps me off my feet, and draws me straight with the crooked lines of my own devising.

I love Holy Week.
So much to do, so much to read, so much to pray, so much to delve into.
I did not know the details of the legend explaining how the Wood of the Cross could be from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

If you find reading the apocryphal gospels or pious legends unseemly or dangerous, forgive me, and pass on.
For myself, a find a connection between them and the comic books, and tv and film of our own day with their fascination with holy and transcendent things, (which for the contemporary media is sadly coupled with their profound embarrassment at appearing to buy into such nonsense as the existence of Absolute Good, the great I AM.)
From the Harrowing of Hell inf the Gospel of Nicodemus -
We then were in Hades, with all who had fallen asleep since the beginning of the world. And at the hour of midnight there rose a light as if of the sun, and shone into these dark regions; and we were all lighted up, and saw each other... and said to each other:
This light is from a great source of light....This light is from the Father, and from the Son, and from the Holy Spirit; ... the people that sat in darkness, have seen a great light.
Then there came into the midst another, an ascetic from the desert [who] said: I am John, the last of the prophets, who made the paths of the Son of God straight, and proclaimed to the people repentance for the remission of sins. And the Son of God came to me; and I, seeing Him a long way off, said to the people: Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. And with my hand I baptized Him in the river Jordan, and I saw like a dove also the Holy Spirit coming upon Him; and I heard also the voice of God, even the Father, thus saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
And on this account He sent me also to you, to proclaim how the only begotten Son of God is coming here, that whosoever shall believe in Him shall be saved, and whosoever shall not believe in Him shall be condemned. On this account I say to you all, in order that when you see Him you all may adore Him...
Adam heard, and said to his son Seth: My son, I wish you to tell the forefathers of the race of men and the prophets where I sent you, when it fell to my lot to die.
And Seth said: Prophets and patriarchs, hear. When my father Adam, the first created, was about to fall once upon a time into death, he sent me to make entreaty to God very close by the gate of paradise, that He would guide me by an angel to the tree of compassion and that I might take oil and anoint my father...
An angel of the Lord came, and said to me... This is not to be found now. Go, therefore, and tell your father, that after the accomplishing of five thousand five hundred years from the creation of the world, then shall come into the earth the only begotten Son of God, being made man; and He shall anoint him with this oil, and shall raise him up; and shall wash clean, with water and with the Holy Spirit, both him and those out of him, and then shall he be healed of every disease; but now this is impossible.
Satan the heir of darkness [said] There is of the race of the Jews one named Jesus, calling himself the Son of God; and being a man, by our working [they] have crucified him: and now when he is dead, be ready that we may secure him here. For I know that he is a man, and I heard him also saying, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.
When the patriarchs and the prophets heard these words, they rejoiced greatly.
He has also done me many evils when living with mortals in the upper world. For wherever he found my servants, he persecuted them; and whatever men I made crooked, blind, lame, lepers, or any such thing, by a single word he healed them; and many whom I had got ready to be buried, even these through a single word he brought to life again.
Hades [the Greek god who is personified Hell in this telling] says: And is this man so powerful as to do such things by a single word? Or if he be so, can you withstand him? It seems to me that, if he be so, no one will be able to withstand him. And if you say that you heard him dreading death, he said this mocking you, and laughing, wishing to seize you with the strong hand; and woe, woe to you, to all eternity!
Satan says: O all-devouring and insatiable Hades, are you so afraid at hearing of our common enemy? I was not afraid of him...
Hades answered: Heir of darkness, son of destruction, devil, you have just now told me that many whom you had made ready to be buried, be brought to life again by a single word. And if he has delivered others from the tomb, how and with what power shall he be laid hold of by us? For I not long ago swallowed down one dead, Lazarus by name; and not long after, one of the living by a single word dragged him up by force out of my bowels: and I think that it was he of whom you speak. If, therefore, we receive him here, I am afraid lest perchance we be in danger even about the rest. For, lo, all those that I have swallowed from eternity I perceive to be in commotion, and I am pained in my belly. And the snatching away of Lazarus beforehand seems to me to be no good sign: for not like a dead body, but like an eagle, he flew out of me; for so suddenly did the earth throw him out. Wherefore also I adjure even you, for your benefit and for mine, not to bring him here; for I think that he is coming here to raise all the dead. And this I tell you: by the darkness in which we live, if you bring him here, not one of the dead will be left behind in it to me.
While Satan and Hades were thus speaking to each other, there was a great voice like thunder, saying: Lift up your gates, O you rulers; and be lifted up, you everlasting gates; and the King of glory shall come in. When Hades heard, he said to Satan: Go forth, if you are able, and withstand him. Satan therefore went forth to the outside. Then Hades says to his demons: Secure well and strongly the gates of brass and the bars of iron, and attend to my bolts, and stand in order, and see to everything; for if he come in here, woe will seize us.
The forefathers having heard this, began all to revile him, saying: O all-devouring and insatiable! Open, that the King of glory may come in. David the prophet says: Do you not know, O blind, that I when living in the world prophesied this saying: Lift up your gates, O you rulers? Hesaias said: I, foreseeing this by the Holy Spirit, wrote: The dead shall rise up, and those in their tombs shall be raised, and those in the earth shall rejoice. And where, O death, is your sting? Where, O Hades, is your victory?
There came, then, again a voice saying: Lift up the gates. Hades, hearing the voice the second time, answered as if forsooth he did not know, and says: Who is this King of glory? The angels of the Lord say: The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. And immediately with these words the brazen gates were shattered, and the iron bars broken, and all the dead who had been bound came out of the prisons, and we with them. And the King of glory came in in the form of a man, and all the dark places of Hades were lighted up.
Immediately Hades cried out: We have been conquered: woe to us! But who are you, that hast such power and might? And what are you, who comest here without sin who art seen to be small and yet of great power, lowly and exalted, the slave and the master, the soldier and the king, who hast power over the dead and the living? You were nailed on the cross, and placed in the tomb; and now you are free, and hast destroyed all our power. Are you then the Jesus about whom the chief satrap Satan told us, that through cross and death you are to inherit the whole world? Then the King of glory seized the chief satrap Satan by the head, and delivered him to His angels, and said: With iron chains bind his hands and his feet, and his neck, and his mouth. Then He delivered him to Hades, and said: Take him, and keep him secure till my second appearing.
the King of glory stretched out His right hand, and took hold of our forefather Adam, and raised him. 
Then turning also to the rest, He said: Come all with me, as many as have died through the tree which he touched: for, behold, I again raise you all up through the tree of the cross. Thereupon He brought them all out, and our forefather Adam seemed to be filled with joy,

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Making Plans to Amuse God

Well, I did advise everyone, myself most of all, to at least occasionally worship in a Mass that is prepared and celebrated by those less... punctilious, skilled, fastidious, cultivated, and knowledgeable.
Because will we nil we, come hell[acious music] or high jinx, the Holy Spirit will come down upon our offerings like the dewfall, and they will become for us the Body and Blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
(Valid, if not always licit, at least in the situations where I find myself.)

Can't be helped, my Triduum will begin listening to some inappropriate instrumental music, and end  surrounded by damp-footed teen-agers and middle-aged women, raising their voices to be heard over the Pange Lingua, as they call their freinds, make dinner plans and swap golf stories.

On the other hand, the event will be even more penitential for the celebrant who is making tiny, incremental differences - a lovely man who will too soon be gone.

God bless him.
O Lord, our God send us many holy priests, and may our prayers strengthen them to do God's will.

The Merciful Murderers

What does it say about me, what does it say about the world, when a headline about some atrocity draws my attention
and I am relieved to see that the Islamists responsible for the killing being reported merely shot their victims, instead of employing a more grisly, more barabric method?

Is That Really the Spin Being Put On the Pope's Long Awaited Exhortation?

(For instance:)
The writer(s?) here.
Yes, critique and exegesis has already begun on a document some of the commentariat may not even have seen.
What did the Pope say? Why, of course, being right-minded he said exactly what we wanted him to say, what we would have said were we pope! It may seem otherwise, but this is why what he said means what we say it says rather than what the words might indicate to someone less right-minded!

But the same could go for the commentary on the commentary. (Or do I mean the commentary on the commentary on the commentary? They don't call it "spin" for nothing.)
This agitation might indicate that the post-synodal exhortation will not contain any doctrinal novelties or breaches. Rather, the text will focus on pastoral recommendations for the integration of the divorced-and-remarried.
This agitation was evident in the three articles published during the last week.
One article is by Enzo Bianchi, a layman who in 1965 established the Ecumenical Monastic Community of Bose in Italy. Brother Bianchi wrote a March 14 commentary in L’Osservatore Romano about the gospel account of the woman caught in adultery.
In general the commentary gave an ordinary interpretation of the text. But at its very end, Brother Bianchi stressed that “Jesus did not condemn her, because God does not condemn, but he gave her the possibility to change with his act of mercy.”
Brother Bianchi added that the Gospel “does not say that she changed her life, that she converted or that she became a disciple of Jesus. We just know that God forgave her through Jesus and delivered her to freedom, so that she could return to life.”
Vatican internal observers have interpreted this phrasing as an open door to the reception of Communion by Catholics who have divorced-and-remarried. A source told CNA March 22, “Brother Bianchi emphasizes God’s forgiveness, no matter what she will actually do,” as if “Communion might be given, no matter what you had done.”
Now, I can't read the original Italian, and the tense of the verbs is paramount to understanding this.
But it seems to me that no one could argue with what the good brother is said to have said.
let me repeat:
A source told CNA March 22, “Brother Bianchi emphasizes God’s forgiveness, no matter what she will actually do,” as if “Communion might be given, no matter what you had done.
Who would disagree with that, of COURSE it might be! That is the entire point of God's mercy!
No matter what you had done He would forgive you!
What He won't condone is what you WILL do.
And that is clear in the story of the woman taken in adultery.

Nowhere does Jesus say, "Has no one condemned you? then neither will I. Now get back to bed work, you knucklehead, those tricks aren't going to turn themselves!"

No, as Brother Bianchi is reported and translated to have said, (emphasis supplied,)
 "God forgave her through Jesus and delivered her to freedom, so that she could return to life."
She could, though she might not have.
We don't know if she returned the "The Life," or to Life, the choice was hers, because Free Will. 
Scripture is silent on this point, just as on so much else. We don't know if the Dutiful Son ever joined in the Welcome Home festivities when the Prodigal returned. We don't know if the Rich Young Man thought about his riches for a while, and how much he would miss them, and then chucked them to follow the Lord. We don't know if the Centurion went on to some other assignment, eventuallyw went back to Rome, years later heard about this cult coming out of Palestine, realized its import and gave up all to be a follower of Christ.

And you know what, it's good that we don't.

Because if we don't know the end of the story, it's easier to understand that it's our story, that the ending is still up to us, and that God leaves it that way.

Because, um.... free will.

Contemplating and Confronting Contradiction, the Triduum, and My Own Unrighteousness

It sometimes seems to Himself that every conversation I have with him contains some form of correction or contradiction.
I know this, because he has said so. (I could counter that I'm not getting credit for all the times he says something patently absurd  or factually wrong, but um... fuel on the fire.)

But it is true that I am a contrarian.

A shameful proportion of all of my impulses to write here, or to tweet, or to retweet, or to post in comboxes are in an effort to "fix" some error, or fantasy, or misapprehension.
(Seriously, what's all the fuss about the Oxford comma, what purpose did it serve there? Use it when it's needed, says I. I digress.)
Showing contempt, carping, complaining, critiquing - this is what I do.

I literally only opened this window because I have some culinary obligation for the coming feast, was about to look for a recipe and was confronted with some absurd assertions regarding substitution of ingredients.

In what universe is cinnamon a suitable replacement for cardamom?????

I see myself, (and it is a fearful prospect,)  turning into my great aunt, who could launch a twenty minute rant on virtually anything.
I was once trapped in a car with her for a half hour ride home while she riffed on the temerity of whoever ran the concessions at the airport at which she had just been met, to stock his chewing gum rack with the variety of wares with which he had chosen to do so,
Another digression.

I have decided to fast from contradiction, in print, pixel or parley from sundown today, until dawn Sunday.
Please pray for me.
(But until then, Katie bar the door.)

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Holy Week Film Festival

Himself is an old movie junkie, so I have no doubt that this evening or tomorrow he will begin his annual Viewing of the Passions.
I used to avoid tv this week, but now that I no longer have musical/liturgical duties I do have plenty of time, and I don't think watching certain films is an at all inappropriate way to turn ones thoughts on what our Lord has done for us, so when the DVDs come out, (yes, we're that old,) I'll probably join him for some.

There was an excellent television movie that's always in the rotation.  The crucifixion is harrowing, there are first-rate, A-lister performances, and I require about 3/4 of a large box of Puffs to be able to see anything by the end.

I can only watch parts of the Mel Gibson film, but the very end, where Christ stands, alive and naked and strides forth from the tomb into the world Made New Again? and the sunlight streams through the hole in his hand?

Epic. (And That is what that word means. It doesn't describe a kegger. Or a golf tournament. Or a new nail color.)
(That reminds me, last week EWTN showed a fascinating and very moving film about St Edith Stein, starring the thrilling actress who portrays the Blessed Mother in the PotC. Look for it.)

But a film popped into my head after Mass this morning, which, if you haven't, you should see, and Holy Week is a pretty fine time to do so.
We have a lovely mosaic of the infant Jesus behind the altar, and I suddenly remembered a scene in Robert Duvall's masterful The Apostle.

He plays a pentecostal preacher on the lam, and the story of sin, redemption, and amendment is eloquently told.
What is so good affecting about it is that while it is a satisfying plot, with a premise, action, narrative and conclusion, yes, an actual ending - it also is is about those processes of sin, redemption, and amendment in a post-lapsarian world, and the atonement is on-going.
It doesn't seem to say, once saved, always saved, at least to me.
Salvation, once found, can be lost.
Our conversion, our turning toward the Lord must be continuing - which is a very un-Protestant notion, no?

There is a magnificent scene where Duvall is preaching, and he picks up a baby from the congregation, and marvels with his congregation how beautiful the infant is, how perfect, look at his perfect little hands! How his parents must love him!
Can you imagine hurting such a lovely thing? Who would allow that?

How can we wrap our minds around a father, THE Father, Who loves us so much He would allow a nail to be driven into the palm of his Beloved, His Only-Begotten, His One-In-Being-With-Him Son?

We hardly can.

The Little Sisters of the Poor and Some Sincere Questions

Unsurprisingly, the New York Times thinks the Little Sisters are being unreasonably stubborn, that they've been "given" everything they want and still "won't take 'yes' for an answer."

After all,  religiously affiliated groups,
"like universities, hospitals and social-service groups, [were] offered ...an easy way to opt out: Notify their insurer or the government, in writing, of their refusal to provide coverage."
Seems simple enough.
"This accommodation struck a reasonable balance between the government’s respect for religious freedom and its strong interest in carrying out the law’s mandate."
This is a little hinky, implying that the "government" was bound by the same law as the Little Sisters, with it's see? there's nothing we can do phrasing - as if it isn't this government itself that created the law and all it's nooks and crannies, as if Obamacare was some outside force.

But no matter.

What I want to know is, this idea that if the insurer is notified, like Pilate, the purchaser of the insurance has washed it hands of the mess.

The insurer provides the contraceptive coverage?
Out of the goodness of its heart?
Or out of the payments made to it by the purchaser, with a wink-wink, nudge-nudge pretense that it is coming from some other source?

Where does the money ultimately come from, and if it's from the Little Sisters, how are they no longer complicit in what they consider an absolute evil?

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

My Holy Week Wonderings About Wanderings, and an Insight Into Elderly Priests

While perusing the Rosary Shrine site, I'm kicking myself a bit that when I was in Summit I didn't take as much advantage as I could have of the monastery's liturgical largess.
Mass, yes, and the odd procession, and droppin' in and droppin' to my knees, (I am so grateful to have learned the Very Catholic habit of "making a quick visit" almost by osmosis from my parents as a child, it stuck with me even in the years of Thoughtless Automatic Catholicism of the  Know-It-All Young,*) but the Divine Office wasn't even on my radar.
What I wouldn't give to have such a liturgical refuge now....
It's hours to the convent we may visit for the Paschal Vigil, and a bit of a trek to the Byzantine parish whose doors I may darken on Thursday, and the nearest EF will only have Sunday, I think....

Don't get me wrong - I think it is important, especially for those of us in Beauty's thrall, to at least occasionally have no choice but to worship in a Mass that is prepared and celebrated by those less... punctilious? skilled? fastidious? cultivated? knowledgeable?

In any case, doing the best they can, even where their best isn't all that.

It's good to remember, that even if He is greeted clumsily or with bad singing or with minimal splendor, (always remembering that splendor and noble simplicity are not combatants in some binary, zero-sum conflict,) we have not been left orphans, HE IS WITH US.
Some of us need to be reminded, celebratus atque non celebratus, Deus aderit.
I know I do.
But that's a reminder to pew-sitters only - you have some control? you have some say?
In that case, DO IT RIGHT.

And reverence requires no skill. Silence, attentiveness, being present? that should be in almost everyone's wheelhouse, (I'm not talking to you with the autistic sister.)

Now, one of the ways I have made peace with some of the (to me,) outlandish things I have heard from catechists, and homilists and confessors and pastors and prelates and yeah, even popes, is the insight that NOT   EVERY  ADMONISHMENT  IS  FOR  EVERY  EAR. (One might wish that the Universal Pastor would tailor his words to more, well...  universal needs, but there it is.)
You don't make excessive use of air conditioning? Bully for you, maybe someone else does.
Vague criticism aimed in your general direction simply may not be intended to apply to you specifically, don't be so egocentric.

Well, it has been noted more than once that the most aggressively and pointedly progressive in the presbyterate tend to be those closest to their final reward.
I have just applied said new-found insight in formulating my reaction to a sermon this morning in the run-up to the Triduum.
I did not become annoyed  or even hurt - just tolerant and indulgent and mildly amused.
We were told not to get too worked up about solemnity, and being pious and long-faced, we should hope that Holy Week brings us some relief from our anxieties, a little peace of mind.


But I realized, the dear man wasn't preaching to me - he was preaching to my (long dead) grandparents!

Too much solemnity? no enough complacency? Seriously?
But wait, I thought - that Catholic Guilt, those hard sayings, and over-emphasis on rules and regulations, onerous penances?
Maybe he's right, maybe that IS a big problem!
In 1960.
Not here, not now, I thought, as three people stood in the sanctuary trading jokes and pleasantries a foot or two from the exposed Blessed Sacrament.
But maybe there. Maybe then. Maybe the last time he was out amongst his parishioners.
That sweet old monsignor was preaching to my grandparents.

Because be honest,  I'm not sure there is any place within driving distance -- make that driving distance with three two nights in a motel factored in  -- where there is a surfeit of solemnity.
I think it only exists in his memory.
But if there is such a parish, such a Catholic community, if it's not mythical?
I want to go to there.
*Why yes, that is "tacky."

Feeling Fertile?

Their newsletter having arrived, I've been reading various past on the website of the Rosary Shrine, including about their most recent profession.
The new nun is challenged  -
Do you wish to be totally consecrated to God and dedicated to the universal Church in a new way, in order to announce prophetically the blessings of Christ and to enlarge the people of God with your hidden fecundity, and do you wish to be set aside for our Order by solemn profession so that, while persevering in prayer with Mary the Mother of Jesus, you may ardently desire the fullness of the Spirit?
Perhaps it is because I am childless, and though not by choice, quite contentedly, that one phrase struck me so ringingly, she is bid,
Enlarge the people of God with your hidden fecundity.
"Hidden fecundity."
It's a wonderful description of the duty we all have to spiritually nourish the Mystical Body of Christ, (which paradoxically, in so many ways but especially in Christ's Real Presence in the Sacrament nourishes us.)
We are, each of us, regardless of station in life called to spiritual motherhood and spiritual fatherhood.
Though I have neither given birth nor adopted a child of my own, I have never felt disconnected from the ongoing commission to be fruitful and multiply.
I've tried not to "fall down on the job." I have brought in to communion and kept in communion, I have loved and taught children, I have if not given at least saved life.
One is not just his brother's keeper, at times one is his parent, no?

Get out there and bear fruit!

Sunday, 20 March 2016

"Great St. Joseph, Son of David, Spouse of Mary Undefiled"

I had a day yesterday that promised to be very long, and very tiring, (or perhaps, its prospect only seemed frightening to my Indolence, which is like an actual companion creature to me.)

St Joseph's day, a great solemnity, (yes, gloria AND credo, Father) and a special feastday for me, but my parish has no Saturday morning Mass, and others in town had them at the same hour that I was required at an activity, would be engaged in an obligatory service.
There's a church in a town a county over that actually has TWO Masses on Saturday mornings, (perhaps only for Lent?), but only the earliest would get me back in time to fulfil my commitment, but I didn't see how I could get up two hours early and still have the energy and clear head I really needed for whatever.
I decided in fairness to the people depending on me later in the day I would set my alarm for the usual time, but if I awoke earlier I would get my sorry carcass to the liturgy.

As I prepared for bed, I remembered that when I was a child, my Mother, (about whom I can finally think and speak with some degree of serenity and composure,) told me when she was little her very good Aunt had taught he that if there was something you really needed to get up for and were afraid you would oversleep, you should say a few Hail, Marys and ask the Blessed Virgin to wake you.

So quaint, right?

I added 3 Aves to my night prayers, asked the Blessed Mother's intercession, and naturally to St Joseph. And then, for good measure I appealed to my parents, as well.
Now, I should caution, I am not of the mind that all those we love are thereby canonized at death, but I am as sure that both my Mother and Father enjoy the beatific vision as I am of anything, for certain and very specific reasons.

Oh, and my Father was Joseph.

And so, to bad.
Then, I couldn't sleep. My mind was full of... well, just so many things, none of them disturbing, wonderful, and interesting and encouraging, in fact, but I needed sleep and it took hours for it to come, and I resigned myself to saying a few prayers on my own for Good and Just Saint Joseph sometime during the day.

I don't suppose I need to tell you after going on so long about it, I awoke not just in time, but refreshed and happy to arise as I seldom never am, (not a lark, I'm afraid....more of a bat.)
Terror of demons, indeed...

Saint Joseph, you whom the Father knew to be the Essential Man, pray for us.
Image result for lily staff joseph

Saturday, 19 March 2016

I know it's Lent and all, but ALLELUIA! ALLELUIA!

I needed this.
YOU probably need this.

An I'm absitively, posolutely certain that our nation and everyone in it constemplating the coming elections from whatever vantage point, REALLLLLLLLY needs it. H/T to Catholic Stand. (Read the piece so you know for whom you are praying, and why. Hint: you're not all that powerful. In fact, you're not all that.)
The Brief of St. Anthony of Padua-
Behold, the Cross of the Lord! 
Begone, all evil powers! 
The Lion of the tribe of Judah,
The Root of David, has conquered! 

Alleluia, Alleluia! 
I'm almost always wearing a cross, but I believe one could simply make the Sign.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Batman Slapping Robin Meme | THE POPE SAYS FROM NOW ON, IN THE MANDATUM, GIRLS HAVE TO - DON'T BE STUPID, READ THE GIRM. THE PRIEST DOESN'T NEED TO WASH ANY FEET | image tagged in memes,batman slapping robin | made w/ Imgflip meme maker

The Lectionary and the American Elections

I'm doing my level best to annoy the nitty-gritty petty viciousness of political news, but I'm the lay reader at Mass today, and this just, well.... see for yourself. I cannot be the only one to laugh ruefully, (I'll get it out of my system before Mass.)
I hear the whisperings of many:
“Terror on every side!
Denounce! let us denounce him!”
All those who were my friends
are on the watch for any misstep of mine.
“Perhaps he will be trapped; then we can prevail,
and take our vengeance on him.”

Thursday, 17 March 2016


Okay, I'm just gonna come out and say it:
My people hail from Bandon, and I like mayonnaise on corned beef.

Image result for st patrick condemning

Deconstructing Christianity, Deconstructing Christ

A bit of shock, sadness and sniping at a Catholic Mass intended for those who have virtually no choice in the time or place of their corporate Catholic worship, or of the sensibility of ars celbrandi embodied in that Mass (which makes it all the more troubling, and cruel, when you consider the purpose of such broadcasts,) that makes use of a shocking, sad, and yes, worthy-of-snipe song. (By the way, this sacrilege took place several years ago, there is not reason to believe that those responsible for it, the problematic nature of such programming having been called to their attention, have not been admonished, been instructed, and amended their ways.)

Gaia? really? REALLY? is Gaia our creator, is she our redeemer, is she our advocate? is she the Word, is she homooúsios with the Trinity, which is then, what? ....a "quadrity"?

Patently not - nor is she a saint, not the mother of Jesus, not a member of the hosts of heaven; in brief, not someone who enjoys the beatific vision.


Really, if Catholics are going to sing, or listen to encomiums to her, why not address Tartarus at funeral Masses?
Oh, sure, in the bad ol' days it was mentioned as a place, but why not as a sentient being, a primordial being?
And why sing about Tartarus instead of to him? O Tartarus, please don't swallow the souls of the departed?
Or maybe, please don't "absorb" them - we might think of Tartarus as a collective like the Borg!

In the great timesuck that is Those Interwebs, I had to look into the source of the Bad Song that kicked off the discussion.
Unitarian Universalist.
Well, not exactly, she's part of "a loose community of women", (word order is everything,) but she is the composer of "most beloved song" of that sect.
And she is also one the creators of the Water Communion, a ritual with a long tradition - going back all the way to the 1980s!
Due to the nature of Unitarian Universalism, traditions vary from one congregation to another; however, most Water Communions follow the same general idea. Throughout the year, members of the congregation collect small amounts of water that have meaning for them, either from a special location (e.g., the family home, an ocean or river, memento of a trip) or a special occasion (first rain after a dry spell). At the service, the samples of water are placed in a single bowl so they can merge. Some of the water is often saved, sterilized, and then used for ceremonial purposes at other times of the year; the rest is returned to the world.
The symbolism, like that of the comparable Flower Communion, can be interpreted in various ways. The classic life-related symbolism of water is apparent. The rejoining of many waters can also symbolize the rejoining of the congregation after summer travels. McDade and Longview chose this way to honor the "journeys" of women, and to represent the way women both contribute to and draw from each other's strength, working both individually and together, to bring change. 
Mayhaps I am looking at this the wrong way, but the emphasis on women doesn't seem very, well.... inclusive.
But that's just me.
The "flower communion"?
A Unitarian minister, (do they call them "ministers"?)
saw the need to unite the diverse congregants of his church, from varying Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish backgrounds, without alienating those who had left these traditions. For this reason he honored the universal beauty of nature by having a communion of flowers instead of the Eucharist. 
In a religion that believes nothing in particular, don't the rituals mean nothing in particular?
Reading this, I wondered - was the danger of "alienation" from referencing something a congregant formerly had rejected? or formerly believed in?
Flowers are pretty, that something we can all get behind!
How would a former Catholic who had reject the tenets of the Faith react to echos of baptism, with PTSD or warm fuzzies?
But Unitarian practice has many echos of Christianity.
In looking at the "most beloved song," I watched a very well sung and arranged version on the Tube of Youse,  the visuals of which were pretty nature photography and the lyrics.
And then, mirabile dictu, the Corporal Acts of Mercy, (though not so named,) or bits of Matthew 25.
Who do most UUs think Jesus was, do you suppose?
Who spoke those words?
Someone Who spoke profound truth there, but was crazy or lying when He forgave sin, or claimed that "I AM" before Abraham was, or declared that the Father and He were One, or when He promised to send His Spirit?

Why, when they are so ready to humbly accept the transcendence of nature are they not ready to humbly accept the transcendence of God, why so unwilling to embrace their inability to understand the One-in-Three?

That is a common feature of modern man, no? Profound ambivalence about the supernatural.
Oh, we moderns couldn't believe in that, we're too knowledgeable for THAT, as he rejects the hard sayings of religion, (as if an Aquinas, or a Ratzinger, or a Lemaître is a silly, superstitious, uneducated, gullible, slightly dim hick,) and then fill the hole he has created in his his soul with vampires, or the earth, or aliens -- or the idol he has made of his Self.
Jesus - is He the Christ, the Son of God, the Logos? or is he, (note lower case,) just some nice Jewish teacher who died tragically young?
If the latter, why does He have such a hold on those who reject the former, why their continuing fascination, their inability to go their merry way and ignore Him, even, very often, their insistence on defining themselves in relation to Him in that very rejection?

Is a puzzlement.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Is the Old Testament the Story of God's People's Adolescence?

Doing some reading on theodicy, (eeeeew! who's she think she is, Doctor Bloody Bronowski?) and came across some snotty mockery of Christianity, saying something along the lines of, Apparently church types think God was real, real, real mad at us so He killed Jesus and then He got nicer to us, 'cause that calmed Him down.

But what suddenly jumped out at me was a memory of a documentary I saw on tv, don't recall if the overall subject was human facial expressions, or the adolescent brain, but whichever it was, I think work by Deborah A. Yurgelun-Todd and William D.S. Killgore or something like this was the source of a tidbit about teenagers, that really stuck me at the time, and has stuck with me.

The adolescent brain, it seems, reads facial expressions in a way that allows for their frequent misinterpretation.
For instance, "fear", such as one might see registered on Mom and Dad's faces when junior has done something REALLY stupid and REALLY dangerous is misperceived as "anger."
(I certainly knew many kids who complained that "my mom is always mad at me, she hates me..." when that was clearly not the case. I, of course, was never so mistaken ;oP)

The Old Testament is full of Angry Father God, right?
But maybe it just seems that way because of the inadequacy of humanity's language to fully express God's inspired word, maybe what it's really full of is this and we're just too dumb in our teenage angst to see it...

Dad whose sorrow and fear for me only looked like anger....
When all the while he was searching the horizon for my return, ready, even when I am still a long way off to catch sight of me, and filled with compassion to run to me, embrace me  and kiss me. He'll stop me when I have hardly begun, Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be-- and order that I be adorned in the finest robe and jewels and sandals on my feet, and a groaning board prepared . He will celebrate with a feast because his dumb kid was dead, and has come to life again;was lost, and has been found.
He wasn't angry at all.
Have you noticed how seldom new strains of theology, new attempts to "understand God" profess upfront that God is beyond my understanding, therefore the understanding of Him that I here express must perforce be inadequate and incomplete?
And how often breaks with "the old," with traditional lines of thought about God, contradiction of scripture even, basically boil down to, Well, that's not the way I would have done it if I were God, so that can't be right?

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Distractions At Mass, and When Before the Blessed Sacrament

I have set myself a little Lenten practice, and "in the final week of the regular season" I can now state categorically, IT HAS BEEN A DISMAL FAILURE.

 I had decided that instead of being annoyed, and instead of "praying for them", (which can be an exercise in smug superiority, at least for me,) I would simply try to love people who conduct kaffee klatsches, and in the process, annoy me at Church.
After all, I thought initially, this should be easy, I should be able to recognize kindred spirits, I am easily distracted, and the topic of my thoughts tends to the profane, too.

"....For through your goodness we have received the bread we offer --"
Bread. I wonder, is the gluten-free bandwagon ever some kind of sub-conscious dig at the Eucharist?  I like bread. I like carbs. Oh, heck, I like FOOD. There was some recipe I was looking for.... Do I need to shop? Trying not to spend anything until I get my insurance tangle unknotted. But I'll need another ingredient. Better head to the Sav-a-Lot. Oh, on the way I'll check for the shirt Himself needs at... Ya know, this top really looks pretty good with this outfit, I should check through any shirts he's getting rid of -- well, wait, did he already get one? I know on his way to golf he could have -- shoot. What did the priest just say? Where are we? Oh, I seem to be standing up, ah, preface dialogue?

Because to be honest, those aren't that different from the topics of the very loud convos that begin before the celebrant has even hits the sacristy.
But doctors appointments, prescription drugs and jokes are a bit part of the post-liturgical gabfest, too.
Lots of laughing.
Lots of greetings yelled halfway across the nave.
Lots of social engagements... engaged.

But the incredible volume, the din, is just a function of the age of your average weekday communicant.
So, yeah, the chats are loud, but I know, they are, in their way, mostly signs of love.
Are they appropriate in the presence Sanctissimi?
Probably not.
But are they irreverent?
Who am I to judge....

So, sometimes with my fingers in my ears, I just try to love Him and them--

Hey, there's that guy who always says "...Full of grace, the Lord is with YOU..." in his decades, I hate that--

And so it continues.

Serial Rapist Awarded Laetare Prize? Dont Make Me Laugh, That's About As Likely As the Capa di Tutti Capi of Some Murder For Hire Outfit Being Invited To Speak at a Catholic University!

.... oh.
Randall Smith has a beautifully reasoned, utterly nonbelligerent piece in the Catholic World Report about the way Catholish institutions hold oh, kinda, but not really.... truths.
Image result for idi amin Image result for assad  Image result for pol pot 
"And please, this argumentum ad Hitleram?* you've already lost with such an absurd comparison! What are 58 million babies compared to over 50 women?"

Is drugging and raping women kinda sinful? No, it's genuinely, unarguably sinful.
Might there be extenuating circumstances that would mitigate the sinfulness?
What about other sins?
Is being personally opposed but doing everything in your power to allow others to dismember poison or burn a baby in the womb kinda sinful?
Is helping ensure payments to allow others to dismember poison or burn a baby in the womb kinda sinful?
Is working to pass laws establishing the "right" of others to dismember poison or burn a baby in the womb kinda sinful?
Is requesting or insisting someone dismember or burn or poison your baby in the womb kinda sinful?
Is actively compassing the dismemberment or scalding or poisoning of a baby in the womb kinda sinful?

One receives the impression the answer from a Georgetown or a Notre Dame would be Oh, yeah, dismembering or burning or poisoning a baby in the womb is kinda sinful, but not.... not really.

Remarkably similar to the way so many "Catholics" might ponder the phenomenon of the Real Presence, if you think about it.
Christ's Most Precious Body and Blood.
Oh, yeah, kinda, but not... not REALLY.
*The principle being, as far as I can ascertain, that if someone or something is "not as bad as Hitler", well.... it's pretty good. Or at least, good enough to be above criticism.