Saturday, December 31, 2005

Tonight's Sing-A-Long

The original words to everybody's favorite song at 12:00 Midnight.

"What are you doing New Year's Eve?"

Happy New Year!

Whereas...Be It Resolved

It was my resolution for 2005; it remains my resolution for 2006.

Go Forward.

Yes, that seems to be a very general and rather vague phrase. What it means to me is not to be in the same place I am right now, in any way, shape, form, or regard. To change. To grow. To be on my way to something, eye on the prize while also enjoying the trip.

If you asked me if I was happy with my life, the answer would be unhesitant and resounding: "No." Life has been calling everything about me into question for some time now; my lack of employment has only amplified the sound. Rumor has it this could be called a "mid-life crisis." It is more akin to a Thoreauvian explanation.

But that is why there are times to review and restart: Advent, the beginning of a new calendar year, Lent. (And with my birthday falling as it does, the mid-year on the calendar as well.) I am also reminded of something I once heard. You can never start over (meaning to go back to the beginning), but you can always start again (meaning to pick up where you were stopped).

There is a part of me deep down that is very scared. I feel like I am running out of chances to get things right in my life, like I can't make any more mistakes. It is that fear which is somewhat paralyzing. I have an overly cautious nature as it is; I succumb to "paralysis by analysis" easily enough.

So I must overcome this inaction due to fear of failing. It is always been my biggest roadblock. Too much thinking; not enough doing. How fortunate this liturgical year focuses on the Gospel of St. Mark. There is a common thread throughout the various readings heard from this writer. It was the theme of John Paul II upon his ascent to the Chair of Peter. It is the words of Jesus Christ seen time and time again in Mark.

"Be not afraid."

Go Forward. To Him. With Him. In Him.

Stay tuned; 2006, I hope, will be much better.

See you next year!

Friday, December 30, 2005

Meet My (Canon) Lawyer

There are rules, and then there are rules.

Yes, we have the Ten Commandments and the Six Precepts of the Church to follow. But the Church also has a code to follow.

The Code of Canon Law.

While these regulations have developed over the history of the Church, they were first codified in 1917 and then amended in 1983.

To see "the tip of the iceberg," let me introduce you to Dr. Edward Peters. He provides us with two great sources of information. One is his 'blog on how Canon Law can (and perhaps sometime should?) be applied, giving his opinion on topics that ocassional arise. (Please check out the archives regarding the Terri Schiavo ordeal and the "communion for pro-choice Catholic" debate.) The other is his own personal webpage, a resource into how to apply this in one's life.

In Light of The Law is the name of his 'blog. CanonLaw.info is his webpage.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Another 'Blog

The Anchoress, in linking to a post of this 'blogger some time ago, said he was (and I paraphrase here) "taking out the baseball bat to use on this subject."

If you look at his photo, he doesn't need a baseball bat. His intellectual heft matches his physical prowess as well. He provides a great perspective on things Catholic.

Welcome Gerald Augustinus and his 'blog The Cafeteria Is Closed.

(Hey, a man who loves cats can't be that tough, can he?)

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

"Twelve Days" Myth

Fact or Fiction: The song "The Twelve Days of Christmas" is meant to be a teaching device for children to learn some articles of the Faith.

Contrary to popular opinion, no.

Snopes.com has a page devoted to what is true and false about this seasonal song. You will find the article here.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Expanding The Roll

I have waited too long to add this gentleman to my 'blog roll.

Rich Leonardi is a husband and father from Cincinnatti, OH. His 'blog is a great mix of happenings in and around his city and thoughts on the Faith. An occasional contributor to Catholic Exchange, he writes in a simple, yet direct way, with plenty of food for thought. His subtitle, "The Observations of a Seditious Catechist," is very apt.

Ten Reasons is the name of his 'blog. Enjoy.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

A Box Full Of Kisses

Another of those e-mail circulated stories:

The story goes that some time ago a man punished his 3-year-old daughter for wasting a roll of gold wrapping paper. Money was tight and he became infuriated when the child tried to decorate a box to put under the Christmas tree.

Nevertheless, the little girl brought the gift to her father the next morning and said, "This is for you, Daddy." He was embarrassed by his earlier overreaction, but his anger flared again when he found the box was empty. He yelled at her, "Don't you know when you give someone a present, there's supposed to be something inside it?"

The little girl looked up at him with tears in her eyes and said, "Oh, Daddy, it's not empty. I blew kisses into the box. All for you, Daddy." The father was crushed. He put his arms around his little girl and begged for her forgiveness.

An accident took the life of the child only a short time later. It is told that the man kept that gold box by his bed for many years; and whenever he was discouraged, he would take out an imaginary kiss and remember the love of the child who had put it there.

In a very real sense each of us as humans have been given a gold container filled with unconditional love and kisses from our children, friends, family, or God.

There is no more precious possession anyone could hold.

The Christmas Rifle

Here is another of those stories that probably gets passed around in e-mails. It is an unknown author:

Pa never had such compassion for the lazy or those who squandered their means and then never had enough for the necessities. But for those who were genuinely in need, his heart was as big as all outdoors. It was from him that I learned the greatest joy in life comes from giving, not from receiving.

It was Christmas Eve 1881. I was fifteen years old and feeling like the world had caved in on me because there just hadn't been enough money to buy me the rifle that I'd wanted for Christmas. We did the chores early that night for some reason. I just figured Pa wanted a little extra time so we could read in the Bible.

After supper was over I took my boots off and stretched out in front of the fireplace and waited for Pa to get down the old Bible. I was still feeling sorry for myself and, to be honest, I wasn't in much of a mood to read Scriptures. But Pa didn't get the Bible, instead he bundled up again and went outside. I couldn't figure it out because we had already done all the chores. I didn't worry about it long though, I was too busy wallowing in self-pity. Soon Pa came back in. It was a cold clear night out and there was ice in his beard. "Come on, Matt," he said. "Bundle up good, it's cold out tonight." I was really upset then. Not only wasn't I getting the rifle for Christmas, now Pa was dragging me out in the cold, and for no earthly reason that I could see. We'd already done all the chores, and I couldn't think of anything else that needed doing, especially not on a night like this. But I knew Pa was not very patient at one dragging one's feet when he'd told them to do something, so I got up and put my boots back on and got my cap, coat, and mittens. Ma gave me a mysterious smile as I opened the door to leave the house. Something was up, but I didn't know what.

Outside, I became even more dismayed. There in front of the house was the work team, already hitched to the big sled. Whatever it was we were going to do wasn't going to be a short, quick, little job. I could tell. We never hitched up this sled unless we were going to haul a big load.

Pa was already up on the seat, reins in hand. I reluctantly climbed up beside him. The cold was already biting at me. I wasn't happy. When I was on, Pa pulled the sled around the house and stopped in front of the woodshed. He got off and I followed. "I think we'll put on the high sideboards," he said. "Here, help me." The high sideboards! It had been a bigger job than I wanted to do with just the low sideboards on, but whatever it was we were going to do would be a lot bigger with the high sideboards on.

After we had exchanged the sideboards, Pa went into the woodshed and came out with an armload of wood---the wood I'd spent all summer hauling down from the mountain, and then all Fall sawing into blocks and splitting.

What was he doing? Finally I said something. "Pa," I asked, "what are you doing?"

You been by the Widow Jensen's lately?" he asked.

The Widow Jensen lived about two miles down the road. Her husband had died a year or so before and left her with three children, the oldest being eight. Sure, I'd been by, but so what? "Yeah," I said, "Why?" "I rode by just today,"

Pa said. "Little Jakey was out digging around in the woodpile trying to find a few chips. They're out of wood, Matt." That was all he said and then he turned and went back into the woodshed for another armload of wood. I followed him. We loaded the sled so high that I began to wonder if the horses would be able to pull it.

Finally, Pa called a halt to our loading, then we went to the smoke house and Pa took down a big ham and a side of bacon. He handed them tome and told me to put them in the sled and wait. When he returned he was carrying a sack of flour over his right shoulder and a smaller sack of something in his left hand. "What's in the little sack?" I asked.

"Shoes. They're out of shoes. Little Jakey just had gunny sacks wrapped around his feet when he was out in the woodpile this morning. I got the children a little candy too. It just wouldn't be Christmas without a little candy."

We rode the two miles to Widow Jensen's pretty much in silence. I tried to think through what Pa was doing. We didn't have much by worldly standards. Of course, we did have a big woodpile, though most of what was left now was still in the form of logs that I would have to saw into blocks and split before we could use it. We also had meat and flour, so we could spare that, but I knew we didn't have any money, so why was Pa buying them shoes and candy?

Really, why was he doing any of this? Widow Jensen had closer neighbors than us; it shouldn't have been our concern. We came in from the blind side of the Jensen house and unloaded the wood as quietly as possible, then we took the meat and flour and shoes to the door.

We knocked. The door opened a crack and a timid voice said, "Who is it?"

"Lucas Miles, Ma'am, and my son, Matt. Could we come in for a bit?"

Widow Jensen opened the door and let us in. She had a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. The children were wrapped in another and were sitting in front of the fireplace by a very small fire that hardly gave off any heat at all. Widow Jensen fumbled with a match and finally lit the lamp. "We brought you a few things, Ma'am," Pa said and set down the sack of flour. I put the meat on the table. Then Pa handed her the sack that had the shoes in it. She opened it hesitantly and took the shoes out one pair at a time. There was a pair for her and one for each of the children--sturdy shoes, the best, shoes that would last. I watched her carefully. She bit her lower lip to keep it from trembling and then tears filled her eyes and started running down her cheeks.

She looked up at Pa like she wanted to say something, but it wouldn't come out. "We brought a load of wood too, Ma'am," Pa said. He turned to me and said, "Matt, go bring in enough to last awhile. Let's get that fire up to size and heat this place up." I wasn't the same person when I went back out to bring in the wood. I had a big lump in my throat and as much as I hate to admit it, there were tears in my eyes too.

In my mind I kept seeing those three kids huddled around the fireplace and their mother standing there with tears running down her cheeks with so much gratitude in her heart that she couldn't speak. My heart swelled within me and a joy that I'd never known before, filled my soul. I had given at Christmas many times before, but never when it had made so much difference. I could see we were literally saving the lives of these people.

I soon had the fire blazing and everyone's spirits soared. The kids started giggling when Pa handed them each a piece of candy and Widow Jensen looked on with a smile that probably hadn't crossed her face for a long time.

She finally turned to us. "God bless you," she said. "I know the Lord has sent you. The children and I have been praying that he would send one of his angels to spare us."

In spite of myself, the lump returned to my throat and the tears welled up in my eyes again. I'd never thought of Pa in those exact terms before, but after Widow Jensen mentioned it I could see that it was probably true. I was sure that a better man than Pa had never walked the earth. I started remembering all the times he had gone out of his way for Ma and me, and many others. The list seemed endless as I thought on it. Pa insisted that everyone try on the shoes before we left. I was amazed when they all fit and I wondered how he had known what sizes to get. Then I guessed that if he was on an errand for the Lord that the Lord would make sure he got the right sizes.

Tears were running down Widow Jensen's face again when we stood up to leave. Pa took each of the kids in his big arms and gave them a hug. They clung to him and didn't want us to go. I could see that they missed their Pa, and I was glad that I still had mine.

At the door Pa turned to Widow Jensen and said, "The Mrs. wanted me to invite you and the children over for Christmas dinner tomorrow. The turkey will be more than the three of us can eat, and a man can get cantankerous if he has to eat turkey for too many meals. We'll be by to get you about eleven. It'll be nice to have some little ones around again. Matt, here, hasn't been little for quite a spell." I was the youngest. My two brothers and two sisters had all married and had moved away. Widow Jensen nodded and said, "Thank you, Brother Miles. I don't have to say, 'May the Lord bless you,' I know for certain that He will."

Out on the sled I felt a warmth that came from deep within and I didn't even notice the cold. When we had gone a ways, Pa turned to me and said, "Matt, I want you to know something. Your ma and me have been tucking a little money away here and there all year so we could buy that rifle for you, but we didn't have quite enough. Then yesterday a man who owed me a little money from years back came by to make things square.

Your ma and me were real excited, thinking that now we could get you that rifle, and I started into town this morning to do just that. But on the way I saw little Jakey out scratching in the woodpile with his feet wrapped in those gunny sacks and I knew what I had to do. Son, I spent the money for shoes and a little candy for those children. I hope you understand."

I understood, and my eyes became wet with tears again. I understood very well, and I was so glad Pa had done it. Now the rifle seemed very low on my list of priorities. Pa had given me a lot more. He had given me the look on Widow Jensen's face and the radiant smiles of her three children. For the rest of my life, Whenever I saw any of the Jensens, or split a block of wood, I remembered, and remembering brought back that same joy I felt riding home beside Pa that night. Pa had given me much more than a rifle that night, he had given me the best Christmas of my life.

Remember the spirit of Christmas and may it be in your hearts all year around.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

A Wish From Santa And Me

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"

"A Visit From St. Nicholas"
Clement Clark Moore

"Behold, I Bring You Good News"

Anno a creatione mundi, quando in principio Deus creavit coelum et terram, quinquies millesimo centesimo nonagesimo nono:
A diluvio vero, anno bis millesimo nongentesimo quinquagesimo septimo:
A nativitate Abrahae, anno bis millesimo quintodecimo:
A Moyse et egressu populi Israel de Aegypto, anno millesimo quingentesimo decimo:
Ab unctione David in regem, anno millesimo trigesimo secundo:
Hebdomoda sexagesima quinta juxta Danielis prophetiam:
Olympiade centesima nongentesima quarta:
Ab urbe Roma condita, anno septingentesimo quinquagesimo secundo:
Anno imperii Octaviani Augusti quadragesimo secundo:
Toto urbe in pace composito:
Sexta mundi aetate:
Jesus Christus aeternus Deus, aeternique Patris Filius, mundum volens adventu suo piisimo consecrare, de Spiritu Sancto conceptus, novemque post conceptionem decursus mensibus, in Bethlehem Judae nascitur ex Maria Virgine factus homo:
NATIVITAS DOMINI NOSTRI JESU CHRISTI SECUNDUM CARNEM!

*******

The year from the creation of the world, when in the beginning God created heaven and earth, five thousand one hundred and ninety-nine:
From the deluge, the year two thousand nine hundred and fifty-seven:
From the birth of Abraham, the year two thousand and fifteen:
From Moses and the going out of the people of Israel from Egypt, the year one thousand five hundred and ten:
From David's being anointed king, the year one thousand and thirty-two:
In the sixty-fifth week according to the prophecy of Daniel:
In the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad:
From the building of the city of Rome, the year seven hundred and fifty-two:
In the forty-second year of the reign of Octavian Augustus:
The whole world being in peace:
In the sixth age of the world:
Jesus Christ, the eternal God, and Son of the eternal Father, wishing to consecrate this world by his most merciful coming, being conceived of the Holy Ghost, and nine months since his conception having passed, In Bethlehem of Juda is born of the Virgin Mary, being made Man:
THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST ACCORDING TO THE FLESH!
For the grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age, as we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of the great God and of our savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to deliver us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for himself a people as his own, eager to do what is good.

But when the kindness and generous love of God our savior appeared, not because of any righteous deeds we had done but because of his mercy, he saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the holy Spirit, whom he richly poured out on us through Jesus Christ our savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.

Titus 2:11-14; 3:4-7

2005 Christmas Eve Reflection

I would guess many of you, depending on which Mass you attend tonight, will take the opportunity to drive around your community and look at the myriad displays of outdoor lights your neighbors have strung. From the ridiculous to the sublime, we will point them out to our passengers in our vehicles. All will gaze and admire, with just a hint of the wonder of a child and a smile of joy.

We enjoy the lights, especially at this time of the year. But, I have also heard a fair share of people complain about how it gets too dark too soon at night and wish they didn't have to arise still without dawn's early light. The draw of that brightness is seemingly a trait inherent in us. We long for it; we wish it would stay longer.

And yet, we linger in darkness way too long. We seek shadows, wondering what lurks amongst them. We seem to oppose the very thing in which we find delight. And how easy it is to turn away from seeing clearly and toward groping in pitch blackness.

Light and Darkness. The eternal struggle. Mankind is indeed a strange, curious creature.

Yet, why do we do this? In a word--sin. Yes, that most popular topic at your local place of worship. The mystery of iniquity.

I wonder if Satan is winning the battle right now because we do not acknowledge that reality, that we do not admit to ourselves that we are sinners (meaning one who sins). When was the last time you recited the Confiteor at Mass? How long has it been since you confessed "to my brothers and sisters that I have sinned through my own fault"? What happen to "naming and claiming," in today's pop psychology vernacular?

Has Satan done a whitewashing? Or can we, like G.K. Chesterton, upon the occasion of a newspaper asking what was wrong with society, reply, "Dear Sir, I am."

Yes, we can return to Light. In fact, it has been here since the world began. Remember, God's first command in Genesis was, "Let there be light!" He did not want darkness. It was the first hint of his Triune nature. It was a clue as to where we were to turn, when at last we were created.

Salvation history repeatedly points out light, reaching its climax in what we celebrate tonight and tomorrow. "The people who walked in darkness has seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone....For a child is born to us, a son is given us; on his shoulder dominion rests." (Isaiah 9:1, 5a)

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, "God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God." "Whatever came to be in him, found life, life for the light of men. The light shines on in darkness, a darkness that did not overcome it." (John 1:4-5) In fact, when one reads the Gospel of St. John, one finds references to Him as Light: His conversation with Nicodemus, the discourse after forgiving the woman caught in adultery, the man cured of blindness, before He raised Lazarus from the dead, after He entered Jerusalem before His passion.

He offers true Light for He is true Light. He will illuminate us like nothing else, if only we will allow ourselves to be illuminated by Him. And so, led by the star (more light) which led the three kings of the East to the King of Kings, we come to adore Him, Christ the Lord. To behold the radiance of the Light of the World. And in so doing, we can see ourselves; not only the sin and sinfulness, but also the echo of the reality in which God created us, as "very good".

As I sit here in my apartment composing these thoughts, I have very little illuminating my computer screen. There is a seven-bulb set of lights, each inside a translucent red bell that when the lights flash on and off give the impression of them ringing. There is a tall candle serving as the "star" for my glass nativity set, consisting of the three Magi and the Holy Family. And my four-candle wrought iron holder has been transformed from an Advent "wreath" to a Christmas "wreath", complete with white candles.

With a classical music station playing music of the season in the background, "all is calm, all is bright." It is enough to dispel the Darkness. Because "hodie Christus natus est." And because of that, the world, and my world, will be bright.

Ero Cras

Tomorrow shall be my dancing day;
I would my true love did so chance
To see the legend of my play,
To call my true love to my dance;

Chorus:
Sing, oh! my love, oh! my love, my love, my love,
This have I done for my true love.

Then was I born of a virgin pure,
Of her I took fleshly substance
Thus was I knit to man's nature
To call my true love to my dance. (Chorus)

In a manger laid, and wrapped I was
So very poor, this was my chance
Betwixt an ox and a silly poor ass
To call my true love to my dance. (Chorus)

"Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day"

Friday, December 23, 2005

O Antiphon: God Is With Us

O Emmanuel, our King and our Law-giver, Longing of the Gentiles, yea, and salvation thereof, come to save us, O Lord our God!

(O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster, exspectatio gentium, et Salvator earum: veni ad salvandum nos Domine Deus noster.)
Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz:
Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God; let it be deep as the nether world, or high as the sky!
But Ahaz answered, "I will not ask! I will not tempt the LORD!"
Then he said: Listen, O house of David! Is it not enough for you to weary men, must you also weary my God?
Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.
Isaiah 7:10-14

Thursday, December 22, 2005

O Antiphon: King Of Kings

O King of the Gentiles, yea, and desire thereof! O Corner-stone, that makest of two one, come to save man, whom Thou hast made out of the dust of the earth!

(O Rex Gentium, et desideratus earum, lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum: veni, et salva hominem, quem de limo formasti.)
Rise up in splendor! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the peoples; But upon you the LORD shines, and over you appears his glory.
Nations shall walk by your light, and kings by your shining radiance.
Raise your eyes and look about; they all gather and come to you: Your sons come from afar, and your daughters in the arms of their nurses.
Then you shall be radiant at what you see, your heart shall throb and overflow, For the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you, the wealth of nations shall be brought to you.
Caravans of camels shall fill you, dromedaries from Midian and Ephah; All from Sheba shall come bearing gold and frankincense, and proclaiming the praises of the LORD.
All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered for you, the rams of Nebaioth shall be your sacrifices; They will be acceptable offerings on my altar, and I will enhance the splendor of my house.

Isaiah 60:1-7

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

O Antiphon: Light From Light

O Dayspring, Brightness of the everlasting light, Son of justice, come to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death!

(O Oriens, splendor lucis aeternae, et sol justitiae: veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.)

Anguish has taken wing, dispelled is darkness; for there is no gloom where but now there was distress.
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone.
You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing, As they rejoice before you as at the harvest, as men make merry when dividing spoils.
For the yoke that burdened them, the pole on their shoulder, And the rod of their taskmaster you have smashed, as on the day of Midian.
For every boot that tramped in battle, every cloak rolled in blood, will be burned as fuel for flames.

Isaiah 8:23b-9:4

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

O Antiphon: The Keys Of The Kingdom

O Key of David, and Sceptre of the house of Israel, that openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth, come to liberate the prisoner from the prison, and them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death.

(O Clavis David, et sceptrum domus Israel; qui aperis, et nemo claudit; claudis, et nemo aperit: veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris, sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.)

Thus says the Lord, the GOD of hosts: Up, go to that official, Shebna, master of the palace,
Who has hewn for himself a sepulcher on a height and carved his tomb in the rock: "What are you doing here, and what people have you here, that here you have hewn for yourself a tomb?"
The LORD shall hurl you down headlong, mortal man! He shall grip you firmly
And roll you up and toss you like a ball into an open land To perish there, you and the chariots you glory in, you disgrace to your master's house!
I will thrust you from your office and pull you down from your station.
On that day I will summon my servant Eliakim, son of Hilkiah;
I will clothe him with your robe, and gird him with your sash, and give over to him your authority. He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah.
I will place the key of the House of David on his shoulder; when he opens, no one shall shut, when he shuts, no one shall open.
I will fix him like a peg in a sure spot, to be a place of honor for his family;
On him shall hang all the glory of his family: descendants and offspring, all the little dishes, from bowls to jugs.
On that day, says the LORD of hosts, the peg fixed in a sure spot shall give way, break off and fall, and the weight that hung on it shall be done away with; for the LORD has spoken.

Isaiah 22:15-25

Monday, December 19, 2005

O Antiphon: From Jesse's Tree

O Root of Jesse, which standest for an ensign of the people, at Whom the kings shall shut their mouths, Whom the Gentiles shall seek, come to deliver us, do not tarry.

(O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum, super quem continebunt reges os suum, quem Gentes deprecabuntur: veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare.)
But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.
The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, A spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD,
and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD. Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide,
But he shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land's afflicted. He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.
Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.
Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; The calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them.
The cow and the bear shall be neighbors, together their young shall rest; the lion shall eat hay like the ox.
The baby shall play by the cobra's den, and the child lay his hand on the adder's lair.
There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD, as water covers the sea.
On that day, The root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the nations, The Gentiles shall seek out, for his dwelling shall be glorious.
Isaiah 11:1-10

Sunday, December 18, 2005

O Antiphon: The Law Giver

O Adonai, and Ruler of the house of Israel, Who didst appear unto Moses in the burning bush, and gavest him the law in Sinai, come to redeem us with an outstretched arm!

(O Adonai, et Dux domus Israel, qui Moysi in igne flammae rubi apparuisti, et ei in Sina legem dedisti: veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento.)
Now will I rise up, says the LORD, now will I be exalted, now be lifted up.
You conceive dry grass, bring forth stubble; my spirit shall consume you like fire.
The peoples shall be as in a limekiln, like brushwood cut down for burning in the fire.
Hear, you who are far off, what I have done; you who are near, acknowledge my might.
On Zion sinners are in dread, trembling grips the impious: "Who of us can live with the consuming fire? who of us can live with the everlasting flames?"
He who practices virtue and speaks honestly, who spurns what is gained by oppression, Brushing his hands free of contact with a bribe, stopping his ears lest he hear of bloodshed, closing his eyes lest he look on evil--
He shall dwell on the heights, his stronghold shall be the rocky fastness, his food and drink in steady supply.
Your eyes will see a king in his splendor, they will look upon a vast land.
Your mind will dwell on the terror: "Where is he who counted, where is he who weighed? Where is he who counted the towers?"
To the people of alien tongue you will look no more, the people of obscure speech, stammering in a language not understood.
Look to Zion, the city of our festivals; let your eyes see Jerusalem as a quiet abode, a tent not to be struck, Whose pegs will never be pulled up, nor any of its ropes severed.
Indeed the LORD will be there with us, majestic; yes, the LORD our judge, the LORD our lawgiver, the LORD our king, he it is who will save us.
Isaiah 33:10-22

Saturday, December 17, 2005

O Antiphon: The Coming Of Wisdom

O Wisdom that comest out of the mouth of the Most High, that reachest from one end to another, and orderest all things mightily and sweetly, come to teach us the way of prudence!

(O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem, fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia: veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae!)
"The LORD begot me, the first-born of his ways, the forerunner of his prodigies of long ago;
From of old I was poured forth, at the first, before the earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no fountains or springs of water;
Before the mountains were settled into place, before the hills, I was brought forth;
While as yet the earth and the fields were not made, nor the first clods of the world.

"When he established the heavens I was there, when he marked out the vault over the face of the deep;
When he made firm the skies above, when he fixed fast the foundations of the earth;
When he set for the sea its limit, so that the waters should not transgress his command;
Then was I beside him as his craftsman, and I was his delight day by day,
Playing before him all the while, playing on the surface of his earth; and I found delight in the sons of men.

"So now, O children, listen to me; instruction and wisdom do not reject!
Happy the man who obeys me, and happy those who keep my ways,
Happy the man watching daily at my gates, waiting at my doorposts;
For he who finds me finds life, and wins favor from the LORD;
But he who misses me harms himself; all who hate me love death."
Proverbs 8:22-36

Friday, December 16, 2005

Typepad Trouble?

Something's amiss. Literally.

Coming across 'blogs which are hosted by Typepad, I noticed posts from this past week (starting with December 11) are gone.

No matter how large or small, famous or insignificant, there isn't a 'blogger out there who doesn't take pride in their "infinitesimal corner of the universe" and the work they do on it.

I realize that any 'blog hosting site at times has its bugs. I hope it's only a temporary problem for those folks.

(UPDATE 12/17/05: All's well.)

Santa's Little Helper

No, I am not talking about a specific elf. These timeless tips are from the 'blog Miss Cellania. (Fedora Doff to Julie D. at Happy Catholic.)

Wrapping Presents With A Cat
1. Clear large space on table for wrapping present.
2. Go to closet and collect bag in which present is contained, and shut door.
3. Open door and remove cat from closet.
4. Go to cupboard and retrieve rolls of wrapping paper.
5. Go back and remove cat from cupboard.
6. Go to drawer, and collect transparent sticky tape, ribbons, scissors, labels, etc. . .
7. Lay out presents and wrapping materials on table, to enable wrapping strategy to be formed.
8. Go back to drawer to get string, remove cat that has been in the drawer since last visit and collect string.
9. Remove present from bag.
10. Remove cat from bag.
11. Open box to check present, remove cat from box, replace present.
12. Lay out paper to enable cutting to size.
13. Try and smooth out paper, realize cat is underneath and remove cat.
14. Cut the paper to size, keeping the cutting line straight.
15. Throw away first sheet as cat chased the scissors, and tore the paper.
16. Cut second sheet of paper to size - by putting cat in the bag the present came in.
17. Place present on paper.
18. Lift up edges of paper to seal in present. Wonder why edges don't reach. Realize cat is between present and paper. Remove cat.
19. Place object on paper, to hold in place while tearing transparent sticky tape.
20. Spend 20 minutes carefully trying to remove transparent sticky tape from cat with pair of nail scissors.
21. Seal paper with sticky tape, making corners as neat as possible.
22. Look for roll of ribbon. Chase cat down hall in order to retrieve ribbon.
23. Try to wrap present with ribbon in a two-directional turn.
24. Re-roll ribbon and remove paper, which is now torn due to cat's enthusiastic ribbon chase.
25. Repeat steps 13-20 until you reach last sheet of paper.
26. Decide to skip steps 13-17 in order to save time and reduce risk of losing last sheet of paper. Retrieve old cardboard box that is the right size for sheet of paper.
27. Put present in box, and tie down with string.
28. Remove string, open box and remove cat.
29. Put all packing materials in bag with present and head for locked room.
30. Once inside lockable room, lock door and start to relay out paper and materials.
31. Remove cat from box, unlock door, put cat outside door, close and relock.
32. Repeat previous step as often as is necessary (until you can hear cat from outside door).
33. Lay out last sheet of paper. (This will be difficult in the small area of the toilet, but do your best).
34. Discover cat has already torn paper. Unlock door go out and hunt through various cupboards, looking for sheet of last year's paper. Remember that you haven't got any left because cat helped with this last year as well.
35. Return to lockable room, lock door, and sit on toilet and try to make
torn sheet of paper look presentable.
36. Seal box, wrap with paper and repair by very carefully sealing with sticky tape.
Tie up with ribbon and decorate with bows to hide worst areas.
37. Label. Sit back and admire your handiwork, congratulate yourself on completing a difficult job.
38. Unlock door, and go to kitchen to make drink and feed cat.
39. Spend 15 minutes looking for cat until coming to obvious conclusion.
40. Unwrap present, untie box and remove cat.
41. Go to store and buy a gift bag.

And if that isn't enough aid from your favorite feline friend, here's more they can do, courtesy of the 'blog Richardson Zoo.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Still Preparing

With the release of the movie "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe", many people are being introduced or reintroduced to C.S. Lewis. I have only read one of his books, "The Great Divorce", and then have only scratched the surface in terms of understanding it.

The Most Reverend Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., the Archbishop of Denver, CO, uses the occasion to refer to an essay written by Lewis as a point of departure and asks how we are keeping the season of Advent, as we are halfway through it.

The article is here.

By The Numbers

"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

No, I'm afraid Planned Parenthood Federation of America does know what it's doing. (Story courtesy of LifeSiteNews.com.)

Moloch lives.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Light From Shadows


(PHOTO: AFP/Vincenzo Pinto)
"I for my part declare to you, you are 'Rock', and upon this rock I will build my church, and the jaws of death shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18)
(Fedora Doff to Rocco Palma at Whispers In The Loggia.)

Thursday, December 08, 2005

From Mary To Jesus

Mark Shea has an article at Catholic Exchange reflecting on how the teaching of Mary's Immaculate Conception fits into "our understanding of the Incarnation".

No Mary, no Incarnation; no Incarnation, no death on the Cross; no death on the Cross, no Resurrection; no Resurrection, no salvation for the world. Get rid of Mary and you don't get a purified faith: you get nothing. That is the consequence of overlooking this often neglected truth.


(UPDATE): Steve Dillard at Southern Appeal has a short post with links about the subject at hand. Check out the comment box; a great dialogue is taking place, including comments by Jimmy Akin and Mark Shea.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

I Still Believe

The original New York Sun does not exist anymore, as it went out of business in 1949. (There is today, however, a newspaper of the same name.) But it's most famous editorial was written September 21, 1897.
"DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
"Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
"Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.'
"Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?
"VIRGINIA O'HANLON.
"115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET."

Francis P. Church pens the answer.

Brief background on the two people (scroll to the bottom).

"The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see."

The Real "Santa Claus"

He is the stuff of legends. But legends have to start somewhere.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Another Joke

No, I won't be starting a "Joke of the Day" post like some people I know. And my style of humor is more along the lines of dry wit. But, on the rare occasion I do find a "groaner", I will share it. Like this one:

Outside a small Macedonian village, close to the border between Greece and strife-torn Yugoslavia, a lone Catholic nun keeps a quiet watch over a silent convent.

She is the last caretaker of a site of significant historic developments. The convent once served as a base for the army of Attila the Hun. In more ancient times, a Greek temple to Eros, the god of love, occupied the hilltop site. The Huns are believed to have first collected and then destroyed a large gathering of Greek legal writs at the site. It is believed that Attila wanted to study the Greek legal system and had the writs and other documents brought to the temple. When the Greek Church took over the site in the 15th Century and the convent was built, church leaders ordered the pagan statue of Eros destroyed, so another ancient Greek treasure was lost. Today, there is only the lone sister, watching over the old Hun base.

And that's how it ends: No Huns, no writs, no Eros, and nun left on base.

I know, I know--don't quit your day job. (Wait a minute: I don't have a day job.)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Sills Interview

Katelyn and Wynette Sills, the mother/daughter duo in the eye of the storm at Loretto Catholic HS (Sacramento, CA), were interviewed by David Hartline of The Catholic Report on November 22. The furor has settled down and they reflect on their experience and the immediate future.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Done Document

It's now official.

The instruction (PDF format) regarding the prohibition on ordaining homosexual men to the priesthood has been formally released.

If you are at all a diligent scanner of 'blogs, you have seen all the speculation and ranting on both sides of the issue. They speak for themselves. I will make note of two posts that I found interesting, written within the past week since the document was leaked to the media.

Amy Welborn gives us a different focus:

But the other reason is simply that when it comes to guidelines, as reasonable as it might seem to do the "no homosexuals in the seminary thing," it doesn't get at the problem. The problem is not, in simple terms, the homosexual priest. The problem is priests who don't believe what the Catholic Church teaches on sexuality, who don't preach it, who don't witness to it in the confessional, and who don't live it in their private lives.

Do you see the difference?

Domineco Bettinelli "thought it would be worthwhile to revisit one of the most controversial and commented upon articles ever to run in Catholic World Report." The post and what he sees:

Whether we agree or disagree that the chaste and celibate man with same-sex attraction can be a fine and holy priest, let's acknowledge that this isn't necessarily the problem we're dealing with. As Shaughnessy points out, if you look only at the statistics on AIDS among priests, you begin to get a clearer idea of how much unchaste, uncelibate homosexuality there is among them. Focus deeper and the vile picture becomes clearer.
Thus, the necessity of the document.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Preparing The Way

My parish has made available a booklet to help in our spiritual preparation during Advent. "The Little Blue Book" is published by the Diocese of Saginaw, MI. (They also have booklets for Lent and Easter.)

As a practice in lecto divina, the booklet focuses on the infant narrative (Chapters 1 and 2) found in the Gospel of St. Luke, as well as providing "a variety of facts about the Advent and Christmas seasons, the feast of the day, and various traditions and customs."

In meditating on the opening verses (1:1-4) the phrase that grabbed my attention was "from the beginning". It reminded me of the opening of both Genesis and the Gospel of St. John: "In the beginning...." The beginning is God. I must go if to Him if I am to truly "realize the certainty of the teachings you have received." In order to be "Theophilus" ("lover of God"), I must get to know Him, not just know about Him.

That is where I am in my spiritual development. I know about God, but I really don't know Him. It is the difference between head and heart, casual acquaintence and intimate companion, far away deity and "Abba". I can intellectualize all I want, but that doesn't get me any closer to Him. Only being open to Him will accomplish that.

Fr. John Powell, SJ, a former professor at Loyola University (Chicago), poses this thought in one of his books. We should not be asking about our nature, but His. The question is not "Who, O God, am I that You love me so?", but rather "Who, O God, are You that You love me so?"

To know Him is to love Him. To know Him is to know Love.

A Dime A Dozen

That's how much ideas are worth at times. And some people think that's even overpriced. Like a penny for your thoughts.

I had offered to maintain a list started by Gerard Stafin of the known Catholic 'blogs published. As I discovered, and as the Curt Jester commented, somebody has already beaten me to the punch. Twice.

The direct successor of Some Catholic Blogs is Catholic Blog Directory, maintained by the 'blogmaster of Gen X Revert. The other one is St. Blog's Parish Directory of Catholic Blogs (for which I have registered).

Oh, well. Better luck next time.

'Blog Development Help

Julie D. has a post about another tool that 'bloggers can use to help develop their site.

I need all the help I can get.

A Cyber-Proposal

I may have found a calling in the 'blogosphere.

Gerard Serafin was the 'blogmaster of A Catholic Blog For Lovers who passed away in November 2004. That 'blog and a website has been maintained by his twin sister as a cyber-memorial and is available for viewing. Unfortunately, the comment box of his last post was used as a "dumping ground" and some of the earlier posts shortly after his death had to be deleted as well as the toxic ones.

There are some comments still there. And I, as explained below, utilized it today for a purpose.

I was an occasional visitor to "A Catholic Blog For Lovers" and enjoyed the posts here. I was saddened when Gerard died and read the tributes from around the 'blogosphere with great admiration. When I came back to this 'blog after I saw some posts about the anniversary of his passing, I was outraged when the comment box in his final post became a dumping ground for things unrelated and sorry you had to delete some of those earlier tributes in here.

I clicked on the link "Some Catholic Blogs: St. Blog's" to look at the list. Being it has not been updated since Gerard's death and knowing of more Catholic 'blogs which are on-line, I was struck with this inspiration.

I would be honored if I may have permission from you, as the current caretaker of all of Gerard's internet endeavors, to take over "Some Catholic Blogs". While this 'blog will remain a wonderful memorial of his life, I would like to continue the work he started by keeping the list he maintained accurate and up-to-date.

Please contact me via my 'blog so we can work out the details....You may leave your reply in the comment box. Thank you for your time and consideration.

We'll see what happens.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Candle Time

Happy New Liturgical Year!

My Advent wreath, a wrought iron candle holder with four glass containers, is out. The candles are in place. And this short ceremony was used to begin my preparation.

ADVENT WREATH - SHORTER RITE
(While making the sign of cross.)
My help is in the name of the Lord.
Who made heaven and earth.

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
Upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone.
You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing,
As they rejoice before you as at the harvest, as men make merry when dividing spoils.
For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests.
They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.
His dominion is vast and forever peaceful,
From David's throne, and over his kingdom, which he confirms and sustains
By judgment and justice, both now and forever.
(Isaiah 9:1-2, 5-6a)

Lord my God, I praise You for Your Son, Jesus Christ: He is Emmanuel, the hope of the peoples, He is the wisdom that teaches and guides me, He is the Savior of every nation.

Lord God, let your blessing come upon us me as I light the candles of this wreath. May the wreath and its light be a sign of Christ's promise to bring me salvation. May He come quickly and not delay.

I ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Rite found at the website of EWTN.)

Friday, November 25, 2005

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Grateful Praise

Fedora Doff to Steve Dillard at Southern Appeal, who also has this posted:

SOLDIERS PRAYER

I asked God for strength, that I might achieve;
I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey.

I asked for health, that I might do greater things;
I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.

I asked for riches, that I might be happy;
I was given poverty, that I might be wise.

I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men;
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God.

I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life;
I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.

I got nothing I asked for--but everything I had hoped for.

Almost, inspite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.

I am, among all men, most richly blessed.
Anonymous Confederate Soldier

Happy Thankgiving!

Meme: OT Birthday Verses

In my last post, I commented on a meme I saw on another 'blog. It's gotten around; I have seen a few posts, including some which take on other books in the Bible.

I did tag Rick Lugari and his lovely bride, Rhonda; however, someone got to him first and she also replied. One of Rick's commentors did his using the Pentateuch.

I'll take up that idea:
Genesis 7:5--Noah did just as the Lord had commanded him.

Exodus 7:5--"...so that the Egyptians may learn that I am the Lord, as I stretch out my hand against Egypt and lead the Israelites out of their midst."

Leviticus 7:5--All this the priest shall burn on the altar as an oblation to the Lord. This is the guilt offering.

Numbers 7:5--So Moses accepted the wagons and oxen, and assigned them to the Levites.

Deuteronomy 7:5--But this is how you must deal with them: Tear down their altars, smash their sacred pillars, chop down their sacred poles, and destroy their idols by fire.

Of course, the military-style version as well:
Genesis 5:7--Seth lived eight hundred and seven years after the birth of Enosh, and he had other sons and daughters.

Exodus 5:7--You shall no longer supply the people with straw for their brickmaking as you have previously done. Let them go and gather straw themselves!

Leviticus 5:7--If, however, he cannot afford an animal of the flock, he shall bring to the LORD as the sin offering for his sin two turtledoves or two pigeons, one for a sin offering and the other for a holocaust.

Numbers 5:7--...he shall confess the wrong he has done, restore his ill-gotten goods in full, and in addition give one fifth of their value to the one he has wronged.

Deuteronomy 5:7--You shall not have other gods besides me.

Once again, a few verses stand on their own. Once gain, this becomes a good point of departure for reflection and meditation on the entire context.

Yes, this ends the lessons on Scripture. No, I won't tag anybody with this version.

Meme: Birthday Verses

I have not been tagged with this meme. I saw it at Happy Catholic, who got it from another 'blogger, and thought I would beat somebody to the punch.

The original idea is to find the verse in the Gospel of St. John which corresponds to your birth date. It is expanded to include all four evangelists.

So, here are mine. The Bible I use is the NAB--St. Joseph Edition, 1970.

Matthew 7:5--You hypocrite! Remove the plank from your own eye first; then you will see clearly to take the speck from your brother's eye.

Mark 7:5--So the Pharisees and the scribes questioned him: "Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of our ancestors, but instead take food without purifying their hands?"

Luke 7:5--"He deserves this favor from you," they said, "because he loves our people, and even built our synagogue for us."

John 7:5--(As a matter of fact, not even his brothers had much confidence in him.)

Now these are when you list the month first. What if you use military-style dating (the day first)?

Matthew 5:7--Blest are they who show mercy; mercy shall be theirs.

Mark 5:7--...shrieking in a loud voice, "Why meddle with me, Jesus, Son of God Most High? I implore you in God's name, do not torture me!"

Luke 5:7--They signaled to their mates in the other boat to come and help them. These came, and together they filled the two boats until they nearly sank.

John 5:7--"Sir," the sick man answered, "I do not have anyone to plunge me into the pool once the water has been stirred up. By the time I get there, someone else has gone in ahead of me."

While the two verses from Matthew can stand on their own, here is more proof of not taking Bible verses out of context from the whole. Based on the whole section, though, this becomes a good exercise for reflection and meditation.

And now, for something completely different, I will tag Jeff Miller, Rick and Rhonda Lugari (Rhonda, if you can't beat them, join them), Anastasia Crosswell, Krush, and the Holy Fool. All others are welcome to play along in the comment box.

Musings On Motherhood

I am so glad I have the Happy Catholic on my 'blog roll.

Julie D. reflects (via a friend's e-mail) on the world's most noblist calling--being a mom.

We are sitting at lunch one day when my daughter casually mentions that she and her husband are thinking of "starting a family." "We're taking a survey," she says half-joking. "Do you think I should have a baby?"

"It will change your life," I say, carefully keeping my tone neutral.

"I know," she says, "no more sleeping in on weekends, no more spontaneous vacations."

But that is not what I meant at all. I look at my daughter, trying to decide what to tell her. I want her to know what she will never learn in childbirth classes.

Go read the rest of it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Our Miss Katelyn

Jimmy Akin posts on a note from Katelyn Sills and her mother, Wynette. Amy Welborn and Mark Shea also note the broadcast.

Pete Vere, a canon lawyer from Sault Ste. Marie, ON, has an article (courtesy of Catholic Exchange) about some measures of justice the Sills could use if they so choose. (Fedora Doff to Mr. Shea as well.)

Musical Quotes And Thoughts

"After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music." (Aldous Huxley, Music At Night)

As a musician by nature and education, I agree. And as a song leader/cantor at my local parish, I have recourse to invoke St. Cecilia.

"He who sings prays twice." (Attributed to St. Augustine of Hippo)

I can remember two occasions when this seemed to be true.

The first was when I was the director of the Sanctuary Choir at St. John's Lutheran Church, Sioux City, IA. It was the Sunday after the first Gulf War started. The piece I selected for that day was the round "Dona Nobis Pacem". The choir's performance was satisfactory. The silence afterward summed up nicely what the congregation had in mind and heart.

The other was when I was a member of the Concert Choir at Minnesota State University, Mankato. During a spring tour we had arranged for a rehearsal at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Rapid City, SD. We pulled out Franz Beibl's "Ave Maria" (a setting of the Angelus) and sang through it. I think it was the best we had ever done with it. Nobody wanted to break the silence after we finished. I couldn't help but think, "Folks, we didn't sing; we prayed." Ora pro nobis, indeed.

"Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast,/To soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak." (William Congreve, The Mourning Bride)

John Dryden (who converted to Catholicism later in his life) wrote two odes related to the power of music: A Song For St. Cecilia's Day, 1687 and Alexander's Feast. There's also a little history lesson about festivals on this day.

"If music be the food of love, play on,/Give me excess of it that, surfeiting,/The appetite may sicken and so die." (William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night)

Monday, November 21, 2005

Job Hunting Update

I made this comment on the post "Losing My Religion?":

The second reason relates to my job search. I have a second interview with a Catholic church (withholding the name of the parish for now) on November 14 for the position of Music Director. I could be in that setting being discussed at Open Book.

The interview has come and gone. I was told I would have an answer one way or the other by last Friday. When you are looking for a job, you want phone calls and not letters.

There was no phone call on Friday.

Today, this attachment was in my personal e-mail box:

21 November 2005

Dear Ron:

Greetings! I offer my apologies for this late response. I meant to contact you last week by e-mail to inform you that the committee was still pondering and praying over the applicants, you being one of them and that the decision was delayed.

Be that as it may the decision to hire a new Director of Liturgy and Music for Our Lady of Guadalupe has been made. Though we know you are qualified, we have decided to hire someone else. It took several days of deliberation because we believe that this parish could have used your gifts and talents in many ways. However, we also had other things to consider. Once we put them together it became clear that though you are well qualified, this other person would fit the "personality" of the parish best and help us grow in the direction that we need to go.

I am grateful that you considered Our Lady of Guadalupe and for making the trip to St. Joseph. You are a talented person and I hope you find what you are looking for soon.

Sincerely,
Fr. Tom Ludwig, pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe
(Note: The church is located in Missouri.)

So do I, Father; so do I.

The job search continues.

Clarification

A recent post told the story of how the Massachusettes legislature was considering a bill proposing to reduce penalties associatied with the criminal prohibition on sex with animals.

Domenico Bettinelli has clarification on what is in the bill.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The "Center" Of It All?

An acquaintance of mine recently sent this to me. I do remember seeing this once upon a time. Now, I have heard of how seemingly inaccurate and speculative the organizing of the Bible into chapter and verse is, especially the Psalms. And there are a lot of tricks you can do with numbers. But, you have to wonder, don't you?
Q: What is the shortest chapter in the Bible?
A: Psalm 117.

Q: What is the longest chapter in the Bible?
A: Psalm 119.

Q: Which chapter is in the center of the Bible?
A: Psalm 118.

Fact: There are 594 chapters before Psalm 118.
Fact: There are 594 chapters after Psalm 118.
Add these numbers up and you get 1188.

Q: What is the center verse in the Bible?
A: Psalm 118:8.

Q: Does this verse say something significant about God's perfect will for our lives?
A: The next time someone says they would like to find God's perfect will for their lives and that they want to be in the center of His will, just send them to the center of His Word:

Psalm 118:8--"It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man."

Now isn't that odd how this worked out?

Or was God in the center of it?

God Talk

This one has to make the rounds of the 'blogosphere, and especially those at St. Blogs.

Is this not what prayer should be?

(Fedora Doff to Julie D., the Happy Catholic. Welcome to my 'blog roll.)

Friday, November 18, 2005

Now, What's Next?

Now I understand why Domenico Bettinelli pulls out his hair in his home state of Massachusetts.

The lastest step down the slippery slope. Story courtesy of LifeSiteNews.com.

(Fedora Doff to Anastasia Crosswell at Southern Catholic Convert.)

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Meme: Thanksgiving And Goals In Triplicate

The Holy Fool created this meme; Rick Lugari tagged me with it.

This coming Sunday, the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of Christ the King. The Church will begin a new Liturgical year, beginning with the joyous season of Advent in anticipation of Christmas.

This is a wonderful opportunity for Catholics to reflect on how they've lived their Faith this past year and how they'd like to live it in the coming Liturgical year.

So, here's the meme. In honor of the Blessed Trinity:


1. Write three things that we're grateful to God for in this past liturgical year.
  1. For challenging me to trust Him more than I ever have.
  2. For carrying me through this ordeal of finding a new job.
  3. For providing the money I have needed when I have needed it.
2. Write three ways in which we hope to improve our relationship with God in this coming liturgical year.
  1. To maintain a more consistant daily prayer life.
  2. To reflect and meditate on the daily readings.
  3. To continue to see Him as a Loving Father.
3. Pass this on to three other bloggers.

You know the drill from me. If interested, go ahead. Those without 'blogs are welcome to leave Nos. 1 and 2 in the comment boxes.

A Grip On The Slope

Stephen Dillard, the "'blogtator" at Southern Appeal, introduces the author:
Maria Eftimiades, a journalist for more than a decade, is currently the New York City bureau chief for People magazine. She has also written five books including Sins of the Mother: The Susan Smith Story and Lethal Lolita: The Amy Fisher Story. She has worked as a reporter, columnist and community editor for the New York Times, New York Newsday, Stamford Advocate, Bergen Record and Dallas Morning News.
This article from her comes from the Washington Post.

Discussions about it are at Southern Appeal, Open Book, and Jimmy Akin (Michelle Arnold is a co-'blogger at his site).

Correct me if I am wrong, those who have studied philosophy and logic more than I (my minor in college), but I remember that a "slippery slope" argument is not that good of an apology to make because there is not a rational sequence to it. Yet, real life seems to bear it out, doesn't it?

Katelyn Sills Interview

The Western Alliance is a group of 'bloggers who are "on the Right side of the Left coast." One of their members conducted a text messaging interview with Katelyn Sills, the student expelled from Loretto Catholic HS (Sacramento, CA).

(Fedora Doff to Rick Lugari at De Civitate Dei, who also has a post on this.)

Vocation Attraction

I live with visible reminders of the shortage of priests in the USA. I am part of a cluster of parishes (two, 16 miles apart) which share one priest, a man closer to 60 than 50. The chaplain of the Newman Center at the local state university is also assigned to a church 15 miles away. "The harvest is plenty, but laborers are few." And we do "beg the harvest master" at every Sunday Mass with a prayer for vocations created by our diocese.

But what is going to draw men to the priesthood (and women to a religious life)? John Mallon, a Contributing Editor to Inside the Vatican magazine, provides insight into the answer:

There is no secret to attracting vocations. There are plenty of them out there. A bishop who tolerates dissent and ignores abuses will not attract them. A bishop who boldly stands up for Christ and His Church, and Church teachings, despite all costs and opposition, will attract them. These young people are the future of the Church. Whether or not they are welcomed into their rightful place to which the Lord is calling them lies in the hands of each individual bishop.

Read the entire article.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Sacramento Saga Continues

This has been Rick Lugari's "story" since Day One. The latest on Katelyn Sills, her family, and the situation at Loretto Catholic HS (Sacramento, CA).

(UPDATE: Both Jeff Miller and Jimmy Akin have posts on the subject at hand.)

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Faint With Damning Praise?

Obviously, that memo about not honoring people who disagree with Church teachings by giving them a forum or recognition on Catholic grounds didn't get across the border.

Then, again, it seems to get ignored here as well.

(Fedora Doffs to Anastasia Crosswell and Domenico Bettinelli.)

Plugging Away

This is a pleasant surprise.

The only other plugs I have received are from Rick Lugari (when Unam Sanctum was up) and Anastasia Crosswell at Southern Catholic Convert early in my 'blogging career. I appreciate the recognition by all and hope to earn the respect of those who find me worthwhile.

I hope to someday live up to the promise that the Fool sees in me. "But I have promises to keep/And miles to go before I sleep."

Friday, November 11, 2005

Settlement Reached

Jeff Miller has a post on Marie Bain, the teacher fired from Loretto Catholic HS (Sacramento, CA), and her legal wranglings.

Thank You, Vets

I have two brothers who either currently or did serve in the Air Force. I appreciate their service to our country. So, in honor of them as well as all in our military, I want to thank you for protecting our freedom. You do our country proud.

"Husband Hunting"

A local radio station has a morning show which includes a ten minute phone interview with someone from around the country. Most of their guests are not well know personalities, but rather are people who have some kind of "gimmick" to promote. There were two people featured over the past few months searching for a "significant other". Their purposes are as different as night and day.

"HUSBAND" FOR "HIRE"

Angela Manfredi is a columnist for the Palm Beach (FL) Post and an award-winning television and radio broadcaster. Her columns are humorous looks at her dating life. Over the spring and summer she conducted a contest looking for a "success-minded single man to help [a] never-wed singles columnist experience the practical side of marriage for two weeks." It was made very clear "[t]his search does not include or culminate in a legally binding marriage. It's a temporary arrangement (2 weeks) that will be written about for print publications and videotaped/recorded for possible television/radio broadcast."

The contest is over and
a winner was selected from ten finalists.

HOUSE FOR SALE; BRIDE INCLUDED (?)

The idea of "House With Bride" began while I was contemplating selling my house in Denver, Colorado. Although my company is located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a few years ago I bought a house in Denver. My life in Albuquerque had solely revolved around my work, and I felt that I needed to make some changes to improve my social life and hopefully meet my "soul mate".

So goes the opening paragraph of the home page of Deborah Hale's website. The house is for sale. She is also using the opportunity to widen her search for a husband. It is actually an "either/or" situation; she reserves the right to reject any and all offers for her house and herself. In a final remark about her father's two marriages (a widowed retired minister who has re-married), she said, "I am committed to find that same success in a relationship."

COMPARE AND CONTRAST

Both women are professionally successful and physically attractive. Their life experiences would bring a wealth of compatible attributes to a marriage. Either one of them would be a wonderful companion.

But, I just have to wonder about Ms. Manfredi's motive. Obviously, I have no idea of how earnest in her private life she is about finding a mate. And the contest is just fodder for future columns and broadcasts. I hope it's not a case of poking fun at something as a way of expressing frustration of not having it.

Ms. Hale has at least expressed sincerity as stated in her various website pages. I will give her credit for "thinking outside the box" and developing a very creative way to aid her in achieveing her goal. Her desire to succeed is evident in the quote above.

I wish them both the best of luck for what they are seeking.

New Listings

Before I forget, let me introduce the two newest 'blogs to my list.

Ladies first. Amy Welborn. Wife, mother, author of several books on Catholicism, and observer of the happenings in the Church. The 'blog is called Open Book. And she explains the reason for the title quite well.

This man is no fool! (See Psalm 14:1.) With a mixture of commentary and haiku, the Holy Fool continues to be my teacher on Catholic Social Teaching and the follies of those who espouse Reasonableness.

Go. Read. Enjoy.

Loretto Update

There has not been much news in the past two weeks since Katelyn Sills was expelled from Loretto Catholic HS (Sacramento, CA).

But what exactly caused this dismissal?

Rick Lugari at De Civitate Dei has this post.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Plainly Speaking

Pope Benedict XVI, in a meeting with a group of Austrian bishops, exhorted them (and the entire episcopate in effect) to speak "the Truth, the whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth."
The Pope reminded the Bishops present of St. Paul's words in Ephesus: "I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God." The Pope said, "It is true that we must act delicately, but this must not prevent us from presenting the divine message clearly, even on those subjects that do not enjoy widespread approval, or that give rise to protest or even derision, especially in the field of the truth of faith and moral teaching."
We need to hear the Good News and the teachings of the Church in their unadulterated form. It is my opinion that my generation has been poorly catechized. There is a quote, either attributed to Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen or Gilbert K. Chesterton, which states that people don't disagree with what the Catholic Church teaches but with what they think the Catholic Churches teaches.

This is the only way to battle the Dictatorship of Relativism.

Story courtesy of LifeSiteNews.com.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

On The Agenda

I found this short position paper via a link in one of the comment boxes at De Civitate Dei. (Fedora Doff to Ashton Vaz. By the way, when are you going to renew your 'blog? When I click to reach your homepage, it says come back after September 15, 2004.)

The paper seems to be a work in progress, an attempt to develop a strategy. Given the subject matter and the slant, it's more like a screed than anything else. Can you say "fisking material"? (I knew you could.) My comments are in red.

Priestless parishes: Hope for the future
Huh? Must be a working title. But it becomes evident as one continues to read.
By Mary Ellen Donovan, OSF
I have a paternal aunt who has been with this order for over 50 years. I have no idea if they have ever met.

For women religious, the present time is both challenging and inviting. And this calling hasn't been this before now? Ask my aunt. The current upheaval and transformation in our Church (first instance of the corporate "we"; comment to come later) could only be the work of the Holy Spirit. I was thinking about a different celestial form. "Could it be, Satan?" New forms of worship (aka--liturgical abuse?) and new roles (like the proper role of the laity, when it doesn't blur or step over the line between the ordained priesthood and itself) are emerging within the life of the Church, in response to the spirit of Vatican II. How about a response to the letter and the spirit of Vatican II? Those documents must be read in the light of Tradition. And Archbishop Leveda has commented that a better translation of those documents might be in order. Although conservative forces fear the Spirit's work and cling to the status quo (you mean that the Faith is being handed down in an authentic manner, don't you?), the fact remains that male, hierarchical privilege is crumbling (is it?) --a welcome change for those attentive to God's Spirit. Being attentive is one thing; being discerning is something else. Isn't there a Bible verse devoted to testing those discernment?

Women religious today have a prophetic calling: to become God's hands and God's feet, bringing to justice the many structures of sin that have grown up in our Church (second use of corporate "we") over the centuries. And just what are those structures of sin? The Scriptures are full of stories in which God's people, through sin and greed, turned from the voice of the Lord. In every age, the role of the prophet is to bring the people of God to a new way of seeing and living. No, the role of the prophet is to bring the people of God back to His way of seeing and living, to return (turn again) to God.

We truly live in a liminal time--a time both of "not yet" and "already"--which pushes us out of our comfort zones to proclaim the presence of the Lord in our midst. Yes. It's called "living in the world but not of the world". Been around for about a couple millennia now. We must proclaim the new realities being born among us: models of Church that are communitarian (don't you mean collegial? Or are you thinking committee? Remember, it was a committee that created the camel), not hierarchical; feminine (the Blessed Virgin Mary is not a good enough model?), not masculine (or Christ?); inclusive, not exclusive (being included in what? Please read and understand 1 Corinthians 12) ; affirming, not condemning (and what's wrong with loving the sinner but hating the sin?); peace-bringing, not violence-making (what act of violence?).

We cannot expect male leadership in the Church to endorse this work of God (or is it from Satan? "By your fruits shall you be known"), although there are some sympathetic bishops (like those who "ordained" female "priests" and "deacons"). Make no mistake--we will experience persecution as we call to justice male structures of sin and establish new forms of power and leadership in the Church. So, "pink" will become the new "lavender"? And your female structures will not become as sinful? Note there hasn't been one word in this about service. It's all about control. Rather than confronting the present structures head-on, which would doom our work to failure (as it isn't already? See Acts 5:33-39a), we must adopt another approach: From our positions of power, we must work in solidarity to starve out of the Church all that is oppressive. Brilliant! Michael Schiavo will be your consultant? Remember, we are the Church. Of all the phrases taken out of context in the documents of Vatican II, the theme and variation that distorts "the people of God" has to be the most abused. The two instances of using "our Church" go right along with this, as if the Church is owned exclusively by this person and those of her ilk and used for their purpose.

If we want the bishops to face seriously the injustice of an all-male priesthood (you don't have an injustice if you don't have a valid calling), our best strategy is to participate vigorously in the life of vocation offices (sow weeds among the wheat) and to establish a rapport with the rectors of our seminaries (and, again, the corporate "we"; see above). We must network with each other, sharing our stories of success and learning from our failures. Refer to Acts again. Whatever we can do to further the crisis in priestly vocations will force the hand of the bishops to consider alternative forms of leadership--particularly an ordained priesthood that welcomes women. You don't want a direct confrontation; yet, that is what you will get. You eventually have to go through the very thing you are avoiding. And just what part of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis don't you understand?

Same screed, different day.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Complaints Filed

Marie Bains, the teacher fired at Loretto Catholic HS (Sacramento, CA), has filed complaints with the appropriate state government departments as a first step to a possible lawsuit.

Rick Lugari at De Civitate Dei has the details.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Spotlight On Sacramento

The saga of Katelyn Sills and Loretto Catholic HS continues.

A link to some information on Marie Bains, the teacher who was fired. (Fedora Doff to Rick Lugari.)

Rick himself has a new post. By the way, he is doing an excellent job of being the point man on the story. Check out all the related articles.

And then there is this fisking of a comment left by someone in one of Katelyn's posts on the subject.

Just another little battle in the Culture War.

(UPDATE) LifeSiteNews.com offers this synopsis.

Losing My Religion?

Amy Welborn has a discussion going regarding those who have/are working for the Church, whether for pay or not, on how they are keeping their Faith.

This interests me for two reasons. First, I am a song leader/cantor and lector in my own parish. While my duties in proclaiming part of the Liturgy the Word allow me to prepare on my own, such is not the case with the music ministry. It is a struggle for me to relate well to the others involved with it at times. As my post-secondary education is in music, it may be a case where my frustration is based on my "expertise" and standards. A good dose of humility is in order.

The second reason relates to my job search. I have a second interview with a Catholic church (withholding the name of the parish for now) on November 14 for the position of Music Director. I could be in that setting being discussed at Open Book. Let's call it a primer on what I may expect--good, bad, or indifferent.

I am learning much. And, no, I am not dissuaded.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

On All Souls' Day

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.

And let Your perpetual Light shine upon them.

May their souls, and the souls of all the faithfully departed, through Your mercy, rest in peace.

Amen.

More From Loretto

Katelyn Sills, the student who was expelled from Loretto Catholic High School (Sacramento, CA) last Friday, released this statement to the Sacramento Bee.

Rick Lugari at De Civitate Dei is all over this story.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Mayo Jar And Two Cups Of Coffee

I receive from people some stories which are inspirational and/or thought-provoking. I have a collection of them and will post them from time to time. This particular story was in was in my parish bulletin today. With some minor editing, here it is:

A philosophy professor stood before his class and had some items in front of him. When class began, he wordlessly picked up a large, empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it right to the top with rocks about two inches in diameter. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

Next, the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles, of course, rolled into the open areas between the rocks. The students laughed. He asked his students again if the jar was full. They agreed that yes, it was.

The professor then picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded unanimously with a yes.

Finally, the professor produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

"Now," said the professor, as the laughter subsided, "I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The rocks are the important things - God, your family, your partner, your health, your children, your friends - things so important to you that if it were lost, you would be nearly destroyed.

"The pebbles are the other things in life that matter, but on a smaller scale. The pebbles represent things like your job, your house, your car.

"The sand is everything else. The small stuff.

"If you put the sand or the pebbles into the jar first, there is no room for the rocks. The same goes for your life. If you spend all your energy and time on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are truly most important.

"Pay attention to the things that are critical in your life. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your partner out dancing. There will always be time to go to work, clean the house, give a dinner party, and fix the disposal.

"Take care of the rocks first - the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just pebbles and sand."

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled. "I'm glad you asked. It just goes to show you no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend."

Saturday, October 29, 2005

The Great Divide?

Peggy Noonan writes a very interesting op-ed piece in the on-line Wall Street Journal.

The Anchoress adds her thoughts.

"Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth."

Loretto Fallout

Mrs. Wynette Sills, the mother of Loretto Catholic HS (Sacramento, CA) student Katelyn Sills, has been banned from the campus by the school's administration.

Katelyn breaks the news.

(Fedora Doff to Rick Lugari, who has a post on the same subject.)

Continuing East/West Dialogue

It was John Paul II's hope. It is one of Benedict XVI's missions. It is the prayer of Jesus.

"...that all may be one, as you, Father, are in me, and I am in you;..." (John 17:21a)

An update on the relationship between Rome and Moscow.

Hail, Mary

From Catholic Exchange, a great web portal, comes this reflection about the Mother of God as a model of how we are to live our lives in Faith.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Reach Out And Touch

I have a confession to make.

My name is Ron and I am a hug-a-holic.

(Chorus of people: Hi, Ron.)

And in a society and culture that places way too much emphasis on both ends of the sexuality spectrum (out-and-out hedonism on the left, sterile puritanical attitudes on the right), where John Paul II's "Theology of the Body" provides a spiritual anchor (virtue is in the middle), we really aren't very comfortable with expressions of physical affection (when appropriate).

"Skin hunger" is what the phenomena is labeled. Some people will claim it's as needed as air, food, and water. We've seen the studies related to neo-natals who do better when nurses touch them. I remember reading a story about a child who wanted an embrace from his mother just because "I need a God with skin on." And who doesn't know what Elmo's favorite thing to do is?

I have had to learn how to be affectionate, mindful of what my limits are within the 6th and 9th Commandments and the boundaries of others. It is an ongoing process. But I have become more comfortable in giving and receiving hugs. (And, if you haven't noticed, most of the time you can't give one without getting one.)

And how powerful can touch be? Anybody remember the Gospel story of a woman with a hemorrhage? It could be, literally, life-changing.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

"A Child Shall Lead Them"

Her name is Katelyn Sills. She is a student at Loretto Catholic High School, Sacramento, CA, an all-girls' school.

At the moment, I don't think she has to worry about being in Purgatory. Right now, she is going through Hell.

This is what caused the firestorm. I'll let her tell her side of the story. And then, do what I did--offer her your support.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Meme: Post 23, Verse 5

The Curt Jester has tagged me with this meme.

The rules are as follows:
1. Go into your archives.
2. Find your 23rd post.
3. Post the fifth sentence (or closest to it).
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
5. Tag five other people to do the same thing.
And how ironic that my 23rd post is a link back to Jeff:
Check out this post.
(I only had two sentences, so that was the closest to the fifth.)

To any 'bloggers who visit me, feel free to be tagged.

Meme: 7x7

Krush is a 'blogger from the Pittsburgh, PA area. Head over heels in love and recently married, she is an inspiration to me in how to "make lemonade out of lemons." I met her the same way I met Anastasia. (And, yes, that story will be told.)

Krush has tagged me with a meme for the first time (sorry it took so long to reply)--

7 things I plan to do before I die:
1. Earn a doctoral degree.
2. Find and marry my "soulmate".
3. Learn to play the piano.
4. Direct choirs/teach at the collegiate/university level.
5. Become a published composer.
6. Learn to ballroom dance.
7. Improve my computer skills.

7 things I can do:
1. Sing.
2. Drive a car with manual transmission.
3. Run.
4. Think.
5. Pray.
6. Care.
7. Continue to learn.

7 things I cannot do:
1. Paint/draw/sketch (I never had any talent in that direction).
2. Say "no" when needed.
3. Work with my hands.
4. Quit on me.
5. Get things done quickly.
6. Tolerate my stupidity.
7. Ask for help when needed.

7 things that attract me to the opposite sex:
I am going to stay away from the physical aspects which appeal to me and, instead, focus on the interior traits to which I am drawn.
1. A spiritual/religious orientation.
2. A beautiful mind (intelligence).
3. A playful, child-like attitude.
4. A more extroverted approach to life.
5. A romantic mind-set.
6. An affectionate nature.
7. An optimistic outlook.

7 things that I say most often:
1. The Morning Offering.
2. Grace Before Meals ("Bless me, O Lord,....).
3. Indeed.
4. Really.
5. Hi.
6. Please.
7. Thank you.

7 celebrity crushes (in no particular order):

1. Nicole Kidman
2. Maria Carey
3. Tyra Banks
4. Halle Berry
5. Jennifer Garner
6. Jessica Alba
7. Demi Moore

7 people I want to do this:
Unfortunately, this meme stops with me. Being a new 'blogger, I don't have a lot of contacts who I think would be interested in this exercise. If there are readers who are interested, please do so in the combox.