Thursday, August 31, 2006

Francis Hope: a CHILD, not a "fetus"

Sometimes I wish the word "fetus" was stricken from the vocabulary.

Please pray for the parents of this child, and thank God for those who know she is a child of God.

Examination of conscience: The second commandment

Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.

This seems like an easy one. Is it? What does it mean?

To tell you the truth, there's at least one casual phrase I hear every day, and to further tell the truth, it's one I've used myself. Why is it (for me, anyway) a sin? What other ways can one break this commandment?

Please feel free to continue exploring the First Commandment, one post below. Thanks!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Examination of conscience: The first commandment

Pamphlets and various other guidelines abound on the subject of examining one's conscience prior to Confession -- or on a daily basis whether or not the Sacrament is received.

I've always found the Ten Commandments to be about as helpful as you can get. (God knows what He's doing.)

The Word of God, as I understand it, is alive. And so, as we ponder the sec, here...

(I'm talking about The Ten Commandments as understood by the Catholic Church. Don't get too bogged down on this, but for some reason, which we needn't go into here, there are slight differences in the wording of the Commandments in many Protestant sects.)

...thanks for your patience. Let's concentrate on the First Commandment:

I am the Lord Thy God. Thou shalt not have strange gods before Me.

Okay. So as I'm contemplating this, I pleased to realize that I haven't worshipped Baal since my last Confession, nor is my home filled with lares and penates (and no, don't you tell me that my statues of the Virgin or Crucifixes fall under that category).

But is that enough? No it isn't. There are ample opportunities to sin against the First Commandment every day. Some are subtle. Some aren't so subtle. Some are downright blatant but sorta "acceptable."

Help me out here. In what ways am I (or you) susceptible in breaking the First Commandment?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Catholic Quiz Time!

You tell me:

How does today's Feast (August 29, 2006) connect with the first Spiritual Work of Mercy, and the Sixth and Ninth Commandments?

Go for it! (And it's perfectly okay to look up today's feast, the works of mercy, etc. That's not "cheating.")

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Ask Sister Mary Martha!

After spending a wonderfully fun afternoon reading her entire blog -- she apparently only just started last June -- I can only conclude that the blogger is either a complete hoax or the completely genuine article. And I'm inclined to believe the latter.

But even if the former is right, who cares? She's a terrific read, and a nun I'd love to have around my parish.

"Life is tough. But Nuns are tougher. If you need helpful advice, just Ask Sister Mary Martha. She'll help you. Just don't expect any sympathy."

I wanted to pick my favorite Sister Mary Martha blog, (I know you hate that word, Sister) but it was a tough one. Finally I decided on her really down-to-earth (so to speak) exposition on sin, titled Mel in Hell.

Is Sister one of the Catholic blogosphere's best kept secrets or am I totally behind the times? If you're already a fan, forgive me. If you haven't met the good Sister who remembers, and fondly so, the days of buying pagan babies (in fact, I believe a reunion of said babies is in the works) then by all means check her out!

P.S. I just used Blogger's "spell check" function for the first time...wouldn't you think it would recognize the words "blog" and "blogger?" Sheesh.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Boston Globe: Defenders of Transparency and Diversity!

In a complete U-turn from their proud heritage of "celebrating diversity," Boston Globe employees are displaying over the airwaves a rather mean-spirited attitude toward...New York companies.

A radio ad placed by the Boston Newspaper Guild, which represents over 1,200 Globe employees, flays its parent company -- The New York Times -- calling the publishing icon "an outsider, pushing an unfair labor contract."

“A lot of (Boston-based) companies know to treat workers with dignity and respect. That’s why it’s disappointing that. . .The Boston Globe and its corporate parent, The New York Times, are pushing an unfair contract with employees,” the ad says. “Here in Boston we don’t stand for greedy New York companies, or the Yankees."

And management says good-bye to "transparency"

...Globe management expressed disappointment that the union had decided to take the negotiations public.
“The Newspaper Guild is attempting to bring public pressure to bear on what have been private, and ongoing, labor negotiations. As always, we prefer to confine our comments to the bargaining table and will continue to do so,” said Globe spokesman Al Larkin, in a [non] statement.

New Yorkers are evil and greedy. Private business is nobody else's business.

Consistency...thou art a jewel.

"Come and see!" Philip to Bartholomew

In today's Gospel (John 1:45-51), Philip tells Bartholomew (aka Nathanael) about finding Jesus, the Christ, the one spoken of by the prophets. Rather than waste time arguing with Bartholomew about Jesus' home town -- "Can anything good come from Nazareth?" -- Philip simply says: "Come and see." And that's all it took.

I've been trying to think of ways to get people to "come and see" Jesus and I have to admit it...I'm stumped. Too bad. It would've made a great post!

Can you help me out with ideas or experiences you've had in bringing people to Jesus?


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Across the Pond: The Rocky Horror Creative Liturgy

Paulinus in the U.K. spoofs "Creative Liturgy." It's a hoot, but unfortunately so much of it sounds eerily familiar!

The non-hierarchical procession will process to the open access sanctuary with reverence. They may greet and hug ‘particular friends’ in the congregation on the way there. A Communion Table will be set with a rainbow cloth, abstract sculpture and multicoloured candles. Joss sticks may, or may not be used, as appropriate.

Leader (for it is she): In the name of the Mother, the Sibling and the Heavenly Dove from above.

People: Amen (or they might say “Yeah”, or “Right” or “Whatever”)

That's just the opening. Go read the whole thing.

Hat tip to Brendan in Eire.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Champagne and a Catholic: a quiz!

Legend has it that a Catholic invented champagne...the bubbly stuff, not the region in France.

1. Who was it?

2. What did this person do for a "day job?"

Have fun!

Bowing to the priest at Mass?

I happened to attend Mass at a chapel across town the other day and noticed something I'd never seen before. When each lay reader approached the ambo, he the seated priest. What's up with that?

Normally I see lay readers reverence the altar by a profound bow...but not the priest. Of course, prior to proclaiming the Gospel a deacon will bow to the priest and ask for his blessing. But a lay reader? Anybody familiar with this practice?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Whispered reminders to pray for others

Several years ago, I rid myself of a nasty habit: dog earing pages of books to hold my place. (Believe me, people who loaned me books were very relieved!)

No, I didn't take up conventional bookmarks.

Actually, a dear friend, who thought she was saying good-bye to me, perhaps forever, wrote me a beautiful note and enclosed it in an envelope. As it turned out, she didn't leave at all but the note was so lovely I kept it.

And used it, and continue to use it -- a bit tattered, I admit -- as a bookmark. And every time I pause in my reading and put the letter between the pages to keep my place, I whisper a little prayer for my friend.

These reminders surround me.

Some are outright gifts. I've an exquisite holy water font near my room. When I bless myself with its blessed waters, I whisper a brief but sincere prayer for the man who gave it to me.

Some are more obvious, I of kin and kith, living and dead, are reminders -- wonderful reminders! -- to ask God to bless those they portray.

Relatives of a man I barely knew donated, upon his death and in his memory, a simple chalice to a small chapel I frequent on occasion. When I see the Precious Blood elevated in this vessel, I can't help but ask Jesus to remember this man, and his relatives, too.

When I'm alert, I remember to pray properly. But I'm not always "alert!"

It's at these times, I believe, that somebody -- my Guardian Angel perhaps -- whispers reminders to me...reminders to remember others in prayer.

Look around your room, your apartment, your house.

What simple -- or not so simple -- objects remind you to pray?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

"Openly gay priest dropped from Catholic Relief Services"

WASHINGTON (CNS) – A top Catholic Relief Services official said CRS dropped a priest from an overseas program in which he was to be a volunteer AIDS worker in Lesotho because of controversy and high media attention surrounding him, not because he openly professes that he is gay.

Uh...what's wrong with this picture?

Well, a few things, in my opinion.

First, why wasn't Father Daley dropped because he "openly professes that he is `gay'?" Last I heard, active homosexuality -- which is what the term "gay" implies -- isn't exactly a quality to recommend one's self to any Catholic work...never mind the priesthood.

(Yes I know that he's said he's a "celibate gay"...confusing at best, an oxymoron at worst.)

Second, if you read the story carefully, Father Daley wasn't exactly told he was to work in Lesotho. He was still in a period of discernment. This isn't at all unusual before making such a commitment.

Two words: Shut. Up.

Had Father Daley kept his anti-Magisterium opinions, along with his sexual preferences, to himself, things may -- may -- have worked out a bit differently. Instead:

Since March 2004 Father Daley has publicly discussed his sexual orientation in interviews on National Public Radio, CNN and ABC's "Nightline," in The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, National Catholic Reporter and with other media.

And, according to CRS:

Father Daley also "was an activist and that he had been outspoken on issues surrounding (the Vatican statement about) homosexual men and the seminary."

As a publicly gay priest speaking on that issue, "he really caught the attention of the press and became sort of a sole spokesperson for this controversy" on many major news outlets, Wiest said. "He was very well-known" and had also become a subject of discussion in gay-oriented media and Catholic media.

Father Daley:

He said he understands the need for missionaries to be sensitive to the local church and culture. "I had no intention of going to Lesotho and bringing my issues and waving the gay flag," he said.

Well, yeah...but you already waved it here, Father. Please.

Please pray for this guy, along with the folks in Lesotho. Thanks!

Source: CNS, Catholic Online

Marian hymns

I was delighted to hear -- and sing -- two favorite hymns at Mass for today's Holy Day:

"Sing of Mary" (pure and lowly) and "Hail, Holy Queen."

What Marian hymns did you hear? Which ones do you especially like?

Update: Yes, I understand that in many cases, no hymns, Marian or otherwise, were heard at today's Masses. What I meant to ask in the second question was "What Marian hymns do you especially like (regardless of whether you heard them on August 15 or not), and while you're at it, why? (Or, okay, why don't you like them?")

Munificentissimus Deus

...after we have poured forth prayers of supplication again and again to God, and have invoked the light of the Spirit of Truth, for the glory of Almighty God who has lavished his special affection upon the Virgin Mary, for the honor of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages and the Victor over sin and death, for the increase of the glory of that same august Mother, and for the joy and exultation of the entire Church; by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma:

that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.

From Munificentissimus Deus, November 1, 1950

Monday, August 14, 2006

The exposed Sacrament and vocations

In the comment box directly below this post, commenter Dani writes, in part:

This is also one of only two churches in our area that has Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. The Catholic church would be so blest with vocations if only we would once again delight in this form of adoration.

Do you have access to the Exposed Blessed Sacrament, along with the Exposition rite, prolonged time (at least 3 hours) for Adoration, and Benediction?

Whether you do or not, do you think that an increase in this practice would foster more vocations?

Wait a sec...parenthetical comment coming up!!!

(By "vocations," I mean "true vocations to the Roman Catholic priesthood." I do not mean, at this time, what I often hear what my fellow worshippers and I hear during the Sunday Prayers of the Faithful, to wit: "For an increase of vocations to the priesthood, diaconate, religious and lay ministries of the Church"...not that there's anything wrong with that.)

Sorry for the interupption. Anyway, if you do or don't think it would make any difference in priestly vocations, will you try and explain why, or why not?


Confession, Adoration, and Vocations

A reader writes:

One thing I wonder about when it comes to our Roman Catholic heritage is why Confessions (oops am I dating myself with that word vs. reconciliation) have gone the way of the dinosaur and how we can bring them back into a fruitful existence.

Most people I know are of the belief that it is because of a shortage of priests and yet I cannot help but believe that reinstating the two elements of Confession and Perpetual Adoration in parishes we would see the impetus that would bring about more vocations. Can you talk about this on your blog?

I'm not sure I buy the "shortage of priests" rationale. What I think is, quite simply, there's a shortage of confessions!

If the Sacrament is available, people take advantage of it.

At least, that's been my experience. There are, for example, no confessionals in the upper church of my parish. Confessions generally are heard "by appointment." At one time, we had a priest who would, about 45 minutes before Sunday Mass began, plunk down two chairs just outside the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, don his stole, sit, and wait. He didn't have to wait long. Once people realized he was waiting to hear their confessions, he was kept busy until Mass time. He left, and the practice stopped.

During the week, I attend Mass at a nearby chapel. Exposition begins daily after the 12:45 PM Mass and extends until Benediction at 4:30 PM. During this time confessions are heard. The priests are kept busy.

Maybe the shortage is the emphasis on Confession.

I'm asking you. Do you hear anything in your parishes about the need to confess on a regular basis? I don't. Yesterday's readings leant themselves beautifully to sermons on the gift of the Blessed Sacrament, and I heard a great one...but I didn't hear much about the state of my soul required to receive this most sublime gift.

That's my two cents. What do you folks think?

Friday, August 11, 2006

Massachusetts DSS and kids

You may or may not remember Haileigh Poutre Here's a reminder. Early this year, the Department of Social Services sought legal rights to murder her. (With dignity, of starving her to death.)

Six months later, the little girl (who outfoxed her executioners) is still alive. The Department of Social Services won't let her see her birth mom.

You know, it might be a tad easier to believe that the DSS gives a bleep for Haleigh and other kids...if it weren't for the agency's "Parents of the Year Award."

Thank a soldier. Free. Courtesy of Xerox Corporation

When I first saw this offer in my inbox, I immediate checked it out with Snopes...and it's true!

Recently the Xerox Corporation lauched "Let's Say Thanks," a FREE web service that lets you send personal messages to U.S. military personnel serving overseas. The messages are sent on postcards designed by U.S. kids.

Choose a card design and either use one of the messages offered, or write your own! Once a month the cards are printed at Xerox's facilities in Webster, New York, and distributed to men and women depolyed on active duty in all branches of the armed services in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.

Go for it!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

People are trying to kill us. Some libs think it's a FAIRY story.

Responding to today's Red Alert, the fantastically named "AMERICAblog" (ironically subtitled: "Because a great nation deserves the truth") thinks it all has to do with Lieberman's loss in Connecticut yesterday.)

Do I sound as if I don't believe this alert? Why, yes, that would be correct. I just don't believe it. Read the article. They say the plot had an "Al Qaeda footprint." Ooh, are you scared yet? What that really means is that they found NO evidence whatsoever that the plot had anything to do at all with Al Qaeda, but the plot simply made them think "gosh, this is something Al Qaeda would do." That's what a footprint means. Nice, but no cigar...

The guy goes on:

And isn't it queer that the emergency is declared within a day of Republican party leader Ken Mehlman launching an all-out offensive against Democrats following Joe Lieberman's loss in Connecticut, an offensive in which Mehlman, the White House and Republican operatives are claiming that Democrats no longer care about national security or the war on terror.

Professor Bainbridge calls this idiotic thinking "Bush hatred run amok."

It's a short step from that sort of thing to the fever swamp. Does anybody seriously doubt that this was a real terror plot? Does anybody really think the timing of the arrests by the UK police had anything to do with the Connecticut primary? Does anybody really think that a plot of this magnitude doesn't deserve an immediate (albeit hopefully temporary) increase in airplane security both at home and abroad until we make sure that all the plotters have been captured and that there were no plotters (or copycats) in the US? If so, such folks seriously need to get their meds checked.

The problem is, these folks aren't on meds...they're serious! Unbelievable.

Terrorists caught targeting U.S.

LONDON (AP) - British authorities said Thursday they thwarted a terrorist plot to simultaneously blow up several aircraft heading to the United States using explosives smuggled in hand luggage, averting what police described as "mass murder on an unimaginable scale."

Police arrested 21 people, saying they were confident they captured the main suspects in what U.S. officials said was a plot in its final phases that had all the earmarks of an al-Qaida operation. U.S. President George W. Bush called it a "stark reminder" of the continued threat to the United States from extremist Muslims.

More here.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Smells and bells

Another famous, soon-to-be-patented, lady in the pew Completely Unscientific Poll!


Does your parish, or church where you usually worship, utilize bells and/or incense at Mass and/or other liturgical services?

If not, do you know why not?

If so, will you describe the circumstances in which they're used?


Sunday, August 06, 2006

Vacation Bible Refreshment: The Transfiguration of Our Lord

It only happens every five or six years...and this is one of them! Today, August 6 -- the Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord -- falls on a Sunday. While the feast isn't a Holy Day of Obligation, when it falls on a Sunday it supercedes the ordinary liturgical calendar day (in this case, the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time.)

Which is a blessing for us, because this means we hear the event of Jesus' Transfiguration on two Sundays this year.

My questions to you are:

1.) On what Sunday, every year, do we hear of Our Lord transfigured into glory?

2.) Why do you suppose this is so?

Saturday, August 05, 2006

The One Book Meme

Dom tagged me with this one and the only reason I've forgiven him for it is that he got zapped by his wife, Melanie. The deal is, you can only choose one book per category.

1. One book that changed your life: Theology and Sanity, Frank Sheed.

2. One book that you've read more than once: Gone with the Wind. I've read it more times than I care to admit (although frankly, my dear, you probably don't give a bleep).

3.) One book you'd care to have on a desert island: The Bible. Not that I'm all that holy, but gee, it's got everything in it...sacred stuff, natch, but also excitement, mystery, suspense...I tell ya, this one's going to be around for a long time!

4.) One book that made you laugh: I read it a long time ago, and don't even own a copy of it, but everytime I think of it I fall on the floor laughing. The Boss is Crazy Too: The story of a boy and his dog of a boss. Written by comic strip genious Mell Lazarus.

5.) One book that made you cry: Gone with the Wind, the first two times I read it. ("After all, tomorrow is another day!")

6.) One book you wish had been written: My Novel. I'm an advertising copywriter. It's an occupational disease.

7.) One book you wish had never been written: Aha! Oh sure, I could name The Da Vinci Code, or Mein Kampf, or a hundred others but none is so bad as my Vacuum Cleaner Manual. My vaccum cleaner itself -- Harmony (tm) by Electrolux is terrific -- but whoever wrote the manual outta, outta...outta clean my house for a year!!!

8.) One book you've been meaning to read: Lamentations. I mean, the whole thing. Maybe if I find myself on that desert island...

9.) Tag five others: I'm tagging anybody who wishes to get involved! Post away!

Friday, August 04, 2006

San Francisco cooperates with evil

From Catholic Charities, San Francisco, gushes this press release:

Catholic Charities CYO, in a collaborative effort in conjunction with California Kids Connection, the state-wide adoption exchange provided by non-profit Oakland-based Family Builders By Adoption - and the State Department of Social Services, will expand the State-wide information and referral link for families to support the public county agencies that have responsibility for the welfare of over 82,000 children in out-of-home care.

They're "partnering" with folks who think pervision is cool in rearing children.

We welcome traditional families, single parent families, gay and lesbian families, transracial and multiracial families, and all other families in the nine Bay Area counties in which we are licensed to provide services to prospective adoptive parents.

You know what really fries me?

(Other than the notion that the Archbishop George H. Niederauer is basically saying that Catholic teaching on homosexual parenting isn't worth a bleep, I mean.)

The way the Archdiocese's new, ahem, "partner" creepily separates "traditional families" from those who are made up of different races. This is unquestionably racism at its lowest, and for what? To try and set up some sort of comparison between families headed by a male and female, and perverted "couples" trying to the expense of kids.

Here's a newsflash, "Family Builders:" it isn't working. Your pathetic attempt to toss different race, opposite sex couples with active homosexuals is horrendous.

As is, in my opinion, Archbishop George H. Niederauer's attempt to skirt Church teaching.

Miserere nobis.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Father Keil, Our Lady, Help of Christians, Newton, co-pastor, leaves priesthood

A Message from Father Joe:
To the good and faith filled people of Our Lady's Parish:

I write to all of you today to let you know that after several months of intense discernment, prayer and consultation with family and friends, I have decided to take a leave of absence from the priesthood. As you can imagine, this was not an easy decision to make. I would like all of you to know that this decision wasn't affected by anything that happened here at Our Lady's. This parish has been nothing but kind, supporting, loving and welcoming to me since the moment I arrived. I will always look fondly upon the three months I spent here. You are all in good hands with Father John and the rest of the great staff here at Our Lady's. Please know that you are in my prayers. I ask that I continue to be in yours. God Bless, Father Joe Keil.

I hope everyone reading this will keep Father Keil in his prayers. But I also ask for prayers for the parishioners. I mean, if you aren't familiar with this parish, a quick Google search will tell you why I ask this.

But here's another reason:

The parish tends to post the minutes of their "Parish Pastoral Council" meetings online. From the June meeting:

A parishioner recently posed a good question at a meeting: Is it possible to belong to the church without believing in every teaching of the church? His [co-pastor Father John Sassani's] answer is YES. God’s hospitality is embodied in tangible ways among us and beyond parish boundaries. Hospitality embodies desire for growth.

I have no idea what this means, entirely. I do know that if the question has to do with belonging to Holy Mother Church, the answer is WRONG. Or, at least, really confusing.

If you are a part of the Roman Catholic Church, the acceptance of Her teachings isn't an option. Father Sassani surely knows this.

What is the point of this question and its answer? I ask, not so much for myself since I sorta take what I hear from this parish -- and others! -- with a boxful of Morton's.

But what of the parishioners? Surely many of them rely on the online postings of their pastor(s) and of the reports of their lay "leaders." What are they to think of this rather ambiguous (I hope it's ambiguous, frankly) statement? Remember, this has been there since June. Two months later, it's still there. Couldn't somebody in leadership at this parish have done something to clarify matters? Like, for example, the vague reference to "hospitality?"

Again...please pray for this parish. Like so many, its members are to be sheep without a shepherd.


Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Receiving the Blessed Sacrament...not taking it

The Indult for the faithful to receive the Blessed Sacrament in the hand is well over 30 years old. It's certainly common in the United a way.

Too often I've seen people "receive Communion" not in the hand...but via their fingers. Instead of "making a throne" out of their palms, as Saint Cyril of Jerusalem counseled 'way back in the fourth century, they literally grab the Sacred Host from the priest's hands, turn around, and pop the Lord into their mouths. There's no "reception" involved at all.

I understand that rather than observing the actions of my fellow communicants, I should be reflecting on the amazing fact that I'm about to receive Jesus, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.

I also, unfortnately, understand that -- at least once a month by reckoning -- it's a good thing I don't always do that!

Why? Because at least once a month, I've seen people walk away with the Sacred Host unconsumed. 'Way too often I've found myself -- and I know I'm not alone in this experience -- intercepting such folks and advising them to consume the Sacrament immediately. (The fact that I'm quite good at this doesn't reflect well on, unfortunately I've had too much practice!)

One rather awful experience recently involved a lady who placed the Eucharist in her pocket. I didn't see her do this but a fellow worshipper did and casually mentioned it to me after Mass. I was horrified! I walked over to the lady in question and asked her if she'd placed the Host in her pocket. This she readily admitted, telling me she wanted to "take it home for herself." Thank the Lord, I was able to persuade her to join me in greeting the celebrant, and after a few words, the priest persuaded the lady to give him the Host...which she finally did with great reluctance.

Here's what I'm wondering (and I admit I've tipped my hand on the issue):

How can this be stopped? Should communicants be encouraged to receive on the tongue? Any other suggestions or experiences?