Saturday, November 29, 2008

Happy New Year

Pope Benedict XVI (C) arrives to lead the Vespri mass in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican November 29, 2008. REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito (VATICAN)

My spiritual director asked me the other day what my new year's resolutions are in context of the liturgical year. What are yours?

Friday, November 28, 2008

How to make me grumpy

  • rustle advertisement circulars next to me at 4:45 AM on Black Friday (today). Do you know how loud newsprint can be that early in the morning?
  • shine a flashlight in my eyes
  • shove the circular in front of me with my half-open eyes
  • say, "HDTV for only $399.99 at Best Buy!"
  • mention that the boys are in on the scheme
  • creeping footsteps down the stairs to beat the rush at the Mall
Realize that TV is a hated piece of appliance in my book. I.Despise.Television. That it's everywhere flashing its images, even at the gym where I work out, and at every restaurant that I go to, makes me crazy. Whenever I visit a friend with television blaring in the livingroom, I quickly go to another room.

There's a widescreen TV in my living room. Okay, now what? There will be no cable or satellite. EVER. If my family decides to get either, you can be assured that an axe or a machete will make mincemeat out of whatever box has to be added to receive wretched moving images. And believe me, it will give me much pleasure to do the honors of chopping those idiot boxes to pieces.

Watching television deadens the mind. Seriously, in an incremental and mind-numbing way. Just as internet surfing can.

Better to pick up a book, to play chess with your children, to walk the dog, to rake the leaves, to make bread. Best yet, to go to daily Mass. And by extension, go to Adoration.

Yes, I am quite displeased. You see, I was looking forward to the obsolescence of the analog TV that is locked away and gets dragged out for an occasional video movie. This new box makes my job even more difficult. It's hard to find moving images that are neutral. They burrow into your memory and in unguarded moments, they are recalled with alarming clarity.

I speak from experience of being addicted to television watching. Most of my childhood, we did not have television until I was around 11 and my parents decided that we were missing out on some cultural things. So they purchased one and my brother and I quickly became absorbed with it. When we came home from school, there was a wide array of re-runs to watch. Then in university, my roommates were addicted to soap operas. I hated them and would avoid our apartment when the shows were on. When our children started arriving, though, I found myself becoming addicted to television watching while nursing the babies. Then when the children were in their toddler years, television became a crutch. Finally, when the middle child was five, did we have the outrage to ban its presence in our lives and cut off cable. So we were able to substitute the time with group readings of Shakespeare, Tolkien, CS Lewis. Our children loved those times. We invested in play figures and our living room became re-enactment sites for Battle of Hastings or the Civil War.

For years, we were free from the pull of shows that came and went. Our daughter grew up reading and creating her own images through her art journal.

Now, our family has succumbed and I am grumpy. NO, make that really grumpy. I have every right to feel that. I have told my family that I reserve the right to unplug the television whenever I feel like it. And.My.Word.Is.Law.

*I don't apologize for this rant*

Foundation for Sacred Arts...and random musings

For you fellow Catholic artists, check out this site: Foundation for Sacred Arts. If you're a visual artist, especially, please consider the artists' registry.

For those of us who try to live out the Via Pulchritudinis in our everyday lives, it's good to have this foundation to help encourage us in what we do. I work in an obscure way where I am and rather enjoy the anonymity. To my fellow parishioners, I am not anonymous, having become a part of their experience of encountering Truth and Beauty and Goodness in the Mass as the organist and music director of my parish. Whether or not my proficiency level meets professional criteria is really immaterial to me. What I offer to God in my playing, out of the time spent in contemplation and prayer, is all that matters to me. That and a good dose of humility and obedience.

With the coming release of the new Mass translations, I have been challenged by my spiritual director to discern if God isn't calling me to compose settings for the new translations that is in continuity with tradition. It was almost a jolt in a way when he mentioned that to me a few of days ago as the germ of an idea had already been planted after the famous, or perhaps more accurately, infamous debates a couple of years ago at the Bishops' Annual Meeting.

Because chant pervades my existence, my formation as a Catholic musician is very much shaped by the language, the idiom, if you will, of chant and by extension, polyphony. And as a convert, my musical experience was not infected by the OCP/GIA/Haugen/Haas monopoly. Tangentially, I remember reading somewhere once that Marty Haugen was inspired for a new setting for either a hymn or Mass part while at a drive-through at a fast-food restaurant. I can't imagine having the boldness to make that claim. It's so prosaic.

I am not a professional in the sense that I've been out there with name recognition. Thank God that I don't have that. In a way, it makes things easier that I can compose in obscurity and present the fruits to my own parish. That is where I thrive. But perhaps I don't need to re-invent the wheel as those more proficient than I have already done the work. At Musica Sacra, the chant Mass settings have been rendered in the new English texts. The settings remain under embargo, unfortunately.

My parish choir is volunteer in every sense of the word. In another life and faith tradition, the parish choir that I belonged to was professional, with a touring and recording schedule. There is an understandable nostalgia for that level of excellence, but I can't give in to those sentiments because my reality now is far from that. What God is teaching me through my choir is a deeper level of charity and patience while maintaining high standards of singing. It's not easy. But, I love the people in my little choir. Two of them surprised me the other day by cleaning up the choir loft...surprised because the floor was shining as morning light filtered in through the stained-glass windows. And surprised, too, because the floor was slippery, and with my suede-soled organ shoes, an extemporaneous lesson in graceful gliding happened.

When Life Begins

~a segment from the movie Come What May. The acting seems a bit stilted, but I applaud the producers for their offering.

"When Life Begins" from COME WHAT MAY movie from George Escobar on Vimeo.

PP Gift Certificate

~from LifeNews. How ordinary sounding yet reveals an insidious evil that stinks to high heaven. "Preventative healthcare"...for whom?

While PPIN president and CEO Betty Cockrum says they can be redeemed for contraception, birth control and legitimate medical services like breast exams and Pap tests, they can also be used to pay for abortions.

"Why not buy a loved one a gift this holiday season that they really need," Cockrum says in a press release obtained. "The gift certificates are also a wonderful idea for that person in your life who puts everyone else first."

"Please join Planned Parenthood of Indiana and give the gift of health this holiday season," she adds.

According to Chrystal Struben-Hall, PPIN's vice president, buyers of gift certificates can give the gift of death, too.

She confirmed to WISH-TV that they can be used for abortions, even though that's not the intended purpose.

"They really are intended for preventative healthcare. We decided not to put restrictions on the gift certificates so it's for whatever people feel they need the services for most," she said.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Not my children, you're not!


Why you should never have an outdoor wedding

Christmas Shopping

...for your Schola? Drop by Cantemus Domino for awesome Catholic Choir apparel.

There are Cantor Usualis t-shirts and composer t-shirts. You know how John 3:16 is everywhere? How about Colossians 3:16? Look it up.

Getting in on the act daughter decided to do one, too. Who cares about productivity?

Quote: Leave well - even 'pretty well' - alone: that is what I learn as I get old. (Edward Fitzgerald)
Shetland's Literature, it's more than just ponies.

Because when work has piled high.....'s sometimes good to procrastinate and do something that has no purpose but fun. So here's that quote with another picture via Flickr.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Band Meme

~Greg and Jennifer did it, and Dom did it. So Emily tried it, and so did Zadok (he actually created that's what you do on your days off, Z!). So, I had to try it, too.

Here’s what you do:

1. Band Name: Random Wikipeda Link
2. Album Title: Random quote generator (take the last four words from the first quote on the page)
3. Album Art: Flickr Interesting Photo (pick one)

Random generators produced: John Kelly and the quote: "The noun of self becomes a verb. This flashpoint of creation in the present moment is where work and play merge." (Stephen Nachmanovitch)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Welcome to Zero Nation

...Garbage in, garbage out. God have mercy on our nation.

NPR, BBC, MSNBC....New York Times.

Senior Hip Hop

~For all my loft dweller friends, something to lighten your day.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Music for Funeral Mass

~From today's Funeral Mass. Father wore black vestments and part of the family schola sang and played. The Mass was in the Ordinary Form and as usual, there was the "On Eagle's Wings" request. It's not an easy thing to tell people, "No" to that piece, especially since they're grieving. Many times, the person requesting it has a strong emotional attachment to it that overrides any memory of other hymns.

Prelude: Litany for All Souls, Schubert
Processional Hymn: The King of Love My Shepherd is (St. Columba)
Psalm Responsory: Chabanel Psalm, Psalm 103, St. John of the Cross Melody
Alleluia Verse and Gospel Acclamation: Chabanel Alleluia Melody #2
Offertory Music: Ave Maria, Bach-Gounod played by one of my sons on the 'cello
Communion Hymns: Ave Verum Corpus, chant and Shepherd of Souls (St. Agnes)
Final Commendation: In Paradisum, chant
Recessional Hymn: O God Our Help in Ages Past (St. Anne)

Ordinary setting: Proulx "A Community Mass"

We're working toward having the Dies Iræ as part of the Mass. The funeral before this one had it which was also in the Ordinary Form of the Mass. I keenly miss the Libera me, Domine from the Extraordinary Form. The words: in die illa tremenda: quando cœli movendi sunt et terra: Dum veneris judicare sæculum per ignem.... have a potency that is missing in the Ordinary Form. Call it a proper fear and awe, a memento mori for those of us still living.

Father doesn't allow any kind of eulogizing after the Mass for which I am grateful. He also instructs people that only those who are Catholics in the state of grace may receive Mass, though he allows for people to come up to receive a blessing. For our parish, Father has been working hard in teaching us about the corporal works of mercy and that burying the dead is one of them. The ladies of the bereavement committee once again gave a luncheon following the graveside rites. We don't have a large parish and so the ladies do a heroic job in tending to the needs of the family.

I just received word that there will be another Funeral Mass on Thursday. Sigh! Planning them doesn't get easier. I always pray for the grace to say the right thing when the families contact me about planning the music. Imagine my dread whenever I hear the words: On.Eagle's.Wings.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Cold pews

~Are you in need of some pews? An Episcopalian church has some for sale. The largesse is due to an interior, erm, redecorating in order to make the nave more "inviting".

They failed to sell on Craigslist for $300 apiece. Maybe you can bargain them down.
"When people visited before, it seemed like a museum," said the Rev. Gawain de Leeuw, rector of St. Bart's for five years. "The church seemed empty. Each person could have had their own pew. Changing our sanctuary space immediately changed the way people feel in the church. It's an important start."

...De Leeuw said he believes that a welcoming and energetic church could draw a few thousand people looking for an open-minded, tolerant form of Christian worship. His goal, however, is 600 families
So, if you're an "open-minded" kinda person and looking for a more "tolerant form of Christian worship" (read: sin? what's that? redemption? how quaint!), there's a church for you!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Catholic Priest Tells Obama Backers Not to Receive Communion Over Abortion

~from LifeNews

Greenville, SC ( -- A Catholic priest in South Carolina has told members of his church who supported Barack Obama that they should voluntarily refrain from receiving communion. The Rev. Jay Scott Newman says they should not take part in the sacrament because they backed a strong abortion advocate for president.

Newman said Thursday that Catholic Church policies don't allow him to refuse to administer communion so he hopes the parishioners at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Greenville will decline on their own.

He said his members should refrain from participating until they do penance for backing “the most radical pro-abortion politician ever to serve in the United States Senate or to run for president.”

Newman told the Greenville News on Wednesday that he will continue preaching on the "intrinsic and grave evil of abortion" and called Obama and Joe Biden's abortion support a "divisive issue" with a "moral dimension."

The priest posted a letter on the church web site saying that "voting for a pro-abortion politician when a plausible pro-life alternative exists constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil."

Catholics who do not ask for forgiveness before receiving communion "eat and drink their own condemnation," Newman writes and cites a passage from I Corinthians in the Bible which talks about recognizing Christ before participating.

Newman told the newspaper that members of his church have been very supportive and claims the reaction has been favorable by a nine to one margin.

Stephen Gajdosik, spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Charleston, told the newspaper that Newman's actions are within Catholic Church guidelines. he said local priests can best determine how to encourage their member's relationship with God.

Newman told the News that abortion is a more important issue than other political subjects such as health care, education or Iraq because it involves life and death issues and undermines a cultural respect for life.

The priest's admonition comes at a time when the nation's Catholic bishops concluded an abortion discussion at their annual meeting and urged Barack Obama not to promote abortion further.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Quotes from USCCB: Statements on FOCA

~I know that my focus is pretty one-track these days on the Tiber 'blog. However, sounding the alarm on FOCA is a priority since the elections. I know that many Catholics either did not know about FOCA or did not realize the full implications of the passage of this bill. I have been tracking this bill since it was first introduced when Congress was under the custody of the Republicans. It was easily defeated in committee. But in the mid-term elections of 2006, Congress was taken over by pro-aborts and suddenly FOCA came alive. Our previous pastor sounded the alarm and told us to be ready to take action.

The USCCB has some notable quotes from the meeting going on now in Baltimore. Hat tip to Whispers in the Loggia
Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Chicago:
"[FOCA] could mean discontinuing obstetrics in our hospitals, and we may need to consider taking the drastic step of closing our catholic hospitals entirely," the bishop said. "It would not be sufficient to withdraw our sponsorship or to sell them to someone who would perform abortions. That would be a morally unacceptable cooperation in evil.

"I do not think I'm being alarmist in suggesting the need to take such drastic steps," Paprocki added, noting that the bishops "need to be prepared to respond in the face of increasingly militant threats to unborn life."
Cardinal George:
FOCA would have an equally destructive effect on the freedom of conscience of doctors, nurses and health care workers whose personal convictions do not permit them to cooperate in the private killing of unborn children. It would threaten Catholic health care institutions and Catholic Charities. It would be an evil law that would further divide our country, and the Church should be intent on opposing evil.
On this issue, the legal protection of the unborn, the bishops are of one mind with Catholics and others of good will. They are also pastors who have listened to women whose lives have been diminished because they believed they had no choice but to abort a baby. Abortion is a medical procedure that kills, and the psychological and spiritual consequences are written in the sorrow and depression of many women and men. The bishops are single-minded because they are, first of all, single-hearted.
The recent election was principally decided out of concern for the economy, for the loss of jobs and homes and financial security for families, here and around the world. If the election is misinterpreted ideologically as a referendum on abortion, the unity desired by President-elect Obama and all Americans at this moment of crisis will be impossible to achieve. Abortion kills not only unborn children; it destroys constitutional order and the common good, which is assured only when the life of every human being is legally protected. Aggressively pro-abortion policies, legislation and executive orders will permanently alienate tens of millions of Americans, and would be seen by many as an attack on the free exercise of their religion.
Take a moment to sign the petition protesting FOCA. I know that it seems like an exercise in futility against something that seems like a done deal. But be on the record defending life. Speak up for the little ones who have no voice. Someday, we all have to face Our Lord and Judge. We will have to make an account of how we let this bloodshed continue and what did we do to fight it. Our task is to be faithful. God will bring the victory. Do not lose heart. Fight hard. Get your parish pro-life committee to go and pray at an abortuary. Even if it's just you. I have prayed in front of our nearest abortuary alone before. Not the smartest thing, but God and his angels and saints were there praying with me.

Prayer brings about miraculous things. From experience, be sure that you've gone to confession beforehand. Satan will attack you. But if you are open and transparent to the Lord, he will use you in ways that you cannot imagine. Prayer is the ultimate weapon against this Goliath. And even if you can see little changes where you are, prayers are never wasted. God listens to them.

Be faithful where you are. Don't give in to hand-wringing. Spend time in Adoration praying through the wonderful mysteries of the Life of Christ. Get involved with local programs that assist women who turn away from abortion. They will need your care and love. In your parish, get involved with teaching about the sanctity of marriage, about the holiness of our bodies. Don't let another generation of young people grow up thinking that they have the ultimate control over their bodies.

Take heart, Christ makes all things new. We are victorious through the Cross and Resurrection. Our Lord is the Lord of Life.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Episcopal Spine Alert (FOCA)

~from AP reporting on Bishops with Spines
The nation's Roman Catholic bishops vowed Tuesday to forcefully confront the Obama administration over its support for abortion rights, saying the church and religious freedom could be under attack in the new presidential administration.

In an impassioned discussion on Catholics in public life, several bishops said they would accept no compromise on abortion policy. Many condemned Catholics who had argued it was morally acceptable to back President-elect Obama because he pledged to reduce abortion rates.

And several prelates promised to call out Catholic policy makers on their failures to follow church teaching. Bishop Joseph Martino of Scranton, Pa., singled out Vice President-elect Biden, a Catholic, Scranton native who supports abortion rights.

"I cannot have a vice president-elect coming to Scranton to say he's learned his values there when those values are utterly against the teachings of the Catholic Church," Martino said. The Obama-Biden press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Archbishop Joseph Naumann of the Diocese of Kansas City in Kansas said politicians "can't check your principles at the door of the legislature."

Naumann has said repeatedly that Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Catholic Democrat who supports abortion rights, should stop taking Holy Communion until she changes her stance.

"They cannot call themselves Catholic when they violate such a core belief as the dignity of the unborn," Naumann said Tuesday.

The discussion occurred on the same day the bishops approved a new "Blessing of a Child in the Womb." The prayer seeks a healthy pregnancy for the mother and makes a plea that "our civic rulers" perform their duties "while respecting the gift of human life."

Chicago Cardinal Francis George, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is preparing a statement during the bishops' fall meeting that will press Obama on abortion.

The bishops suggested that the final document include the message that "aggressively pro-abortion policies" would be viewed "as an attack on the church."

Along with their theological opposition to the procedure, church leaders say they worry that any expansion in abortion rights could require Catholic hospitals to perform abortions or lose federal funding. Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Chicago said the hospitals would close rather than comply.
Meanwhile, here's a reaction from a Catholic doctor:
Dr. Patrick Whelan, a pediatrician and president of Catholic Democrats, said angry statements from church leaders were counterproductive and would only alienate Catholics.

"We're calling on the bishops to move away from the more vicious language," Whelan said. He said the church needs to act "in a more creative, constructive way," to end abortion.

Catholics United was among the groups that argued in direct mail and TV ads during the campaign that taking the "pro-life" position means more than opposing abortion rights.

Chris Korzen, the group's executive director, said, "we honestly want to move past the deadlock" on abortion. He said church leaders were making that task harder.

"What are the bishops going to do now?" Korzen said. "`They have burned a lot of bridges with the Democrats and the new administration."
Unfreakingbelievable. While you are so worried about tone and constructive language, babies are dying....So moving beyond the deadlock means what exactly? And I want to know what Mr Korzen and his group have done that is more than opposing abortion rights. You see, co-opting the language "abortion rights" is already a red flag. We've capitulated in way too many things. We are sliding down the slippery slope. What are we supposed to do with FOCA, roll over and play dead?

FOCA Consequences

~by John Zmirak of InsideCatholic
"The FOCA raises abortion to (in its own words) a "fundamental right." According to legal analysts at the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops, the act's language is so sweeping that it will snuff out any state's "conscience" clause -- the laws allowing hospitals, doctors, and nurses not to take part in abortions. To do so would amount to illegal discrimination, denying a citizen her fundamental right. Christian hospitals could no more decline to perform abortions than they can currently refuse to operate on black people.

"So President Obama and his congressional supermajority would force every Christian hospital, doctor, and nurse either to abandon their faith or go out of business. By federal law, believing Christians would be banned from a major industry (and apostolate). This is literally equivalent to a law banning faithful Jews from owning newspapers.

"History tells us that steps such as this aren't where religious persecutions end; it's where they begin. Things are already scary enough in neighboring Canada, where Christians are now routinely hauled up before human rights tribunals for repeating what the Bible teaches concerning sex. Who knows what some Obama-appointed judge, 20 years from now, will make of a pastor whose sermons attacked the "fundamental right" of women to kill their children? How many churches and seminaries will face crippling civil judgments and have to close?"
Realize that even without overturning Roe v Wade, the measures that have been passed over the years have helped to reduce abortions. FOCA will sweep all of them away.

USCCB: Church must fight FOCA

~from National Catholic Reporter by John Allen, Jr.
Facing President-elect Barak Obama’s pledge to sign the Freedom of Choice Act, which would bar legal restrictions on abortion at the state and federal level, Archbishop George Niederauer of San Francisco today said that the Catholic church needs to make the case against the measure “early and often, both with members of congress and with the new administration.”

Speaking with reporters during the Nov. 10-13 meeting of the U.S. bishops in Baltimore, Niederauer suggested that it would be a mistake to interpret Obama’s victory as an expression of popular support for the Freedom of Choice Act, known as FOCA.

Niederauer heads the communications committee for the U.S. bishops’ conference.
So, what will they do?
Asked what the church should do about Catholic legislators who support FOCA, Niederauer said that the bishops agree on the diagnosis – that such a vote amounts to cooperation in evil – but may not be able to reach a common policy on the hot-button question of whether to deny communion to pro-choice politicians.

“We have a very strong statement made in 2004,” he said. “It’s still in place. It says we should not give a platform [to pro-choice politicians], we shouldn’t give them awards or feature them. But with regard to Holy Communion, it is left up to the pastoral sensitivity and responsibility of individual bishops to interact with those office-holders in their own diocese.”

“As person differs from person,” Niederauer said, “perhaps the best approach may be one thing for one person, another for another.”
*grinds teeth* The primacy of conscience reigns. Hail! Meanwhile, the body count rises. And Jesus is received unworthily. Immortal souls are at risk. At what point will it finally become intolerable that the bishops will rise to the occasion and be worthy successors to the Martyr Apostles and defend the honor of Christ? It's this kind of wiggling that abets the continuing picking and choosing of doctrines to believe. It's why we got the number of Catholics who voted the way they voted. Why didn't they hear about FOCA? Is it not the office of the bishop that compels them to warn against an impeding doom?

St. Michael, defend us in battle!

Fight FOCA

Sign the letter here. Be on the record as someone who opposes this evil.

It will most likely be signed into law. But it's too important for us to not fight and fight with our greatest effort. If you want to read how horrible this legislation is, click here for the legislation text. Here's Section 4 called "Interference with Reproductive Health Prohibited":
(a) Statement of Policy- It is the policy of the United States that every woman has the fundamental right to choose to bear a child, to terminate a pregnancy prior to fetal viability, or to terminate a pregnancy after fetal viability when necessary to protect the life or health of the woman.
(b) Prohibition of Interference- A government may not--
(1) deny or interfere with a woman's right to choose--
(A) to bear a child;
(B) to terminate a pregnancy prior to viability; or
(C) to terminate a pregnancy after viability where termination is necessary to protect the life or health of the woman; or
(2) discriminate against the exercise of the rights set forth in paragraph (1) in the regulation or provision of benefits, facilities, services, or information.
(c) Civil Action- An individual aggrieved by a violation of this section may obtain appropriate relief (including relief against a government) in a civil action.
And here is the section named "Retroactive Effect"
This Act applies to every Federal, State, and local statute, ordinance, regulation, administrative order, decision, policy, practice, or other action enacted, adopted, or implemented before, on, or after the date of enactment of this Act.
Read the justification for this evil bill.
(1) The United States was founded on core principles, such as liberty, personal privacy, and equality, which ensure that individuals are free to make their most intimate decisions without governmental interference and discrimination.
(2) One of the most private and difficult decisions an individual makes is whether to begin, prevent, continue, or terminate a pregnancy. Those reproductive health decisions are best made by women, in consultation with their loved ones and health care providers.
Read more

Pass the word along to your fellow parishioners. Mobilize, organize. It will affect all of us.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Business of Bishops

~an excerpt from Fr. Richard John Neuhaus' article in First Things, Obama and the Bishops. One of the things I have heard from frustrated people since the election has been about the bishops and the ineffectual and oftentimes weak-kneed response concerning the evils of abortion. Some point to the wordy and nuanced Faithful Citizenship which they say opened the door to friends and family finding enough wiggle room to justify voting for a pro-abort candidate. Not all bishops were timorous, and in fact, for the first time since I've been able to vote, the past election season saw the amazing group of bishops who were strong in their statements (and equally amazing, though not surprising in retrospect, was the vitriol and dissent that their forceful teaching caused). Fr. Neuhaus offers the following insights:
It is the business of bishops to help equip the faithful to let the splendor of moral truth shine through their life and witness as lights in the world. If, on occasion, that coincides with political success, it is to be viewed as an unexpected, albeit welcome, bonus. It is a grievous degradation of their pastoral office, as well as a political delusion, for bishops to see themselves as managers of the Catholic voting bloc.

...That unintended invitation to distort, eagerly seized upon by those with a mind to do so, was especially evident in the statement’s treatment of a “proportionate” reason to support pro-abortion candidates. The bishops must do better next time. To be sure, any statement must be carefully reasoned, as Catholic moral theology is carefully reasoned. Yet an episcopal statement is not an invitation to an academic seminar but, above all, a call to faithfulness. The task is to offer a firm, unambiguous, and, as much as possible, a persuasive case on the basis of revelation and clear reason.

The events of these months have once again exposed deeper problems in the leadership of the bishops, although certainly not of the bishops alone. To cite an obvious instance, only 25 to 35 percent (depending on whose data you believe) of the 68 million Catholics in this country regularly attend Mass. That means that, except for a few bishops who have larger media access, bishops are being heard by only a minority of their people. Moreover, many parish pastors and priests are embarrassingly eager to avoid controversy, and others are openly disdainful of the Church’s teaching and/or its implications for public justice. Some bishops are tremulously intimidated by their presbyterates. Such bishops and priests need to read again, and with soul-searching prayer, Paul’s counsel to Timothy.

There are deeper problems. In the last four decades, following the pattern of American Protestantism, many, perhaps most, Catholics view the Church in terms of consumption rather than obligation. The Church is there to supply their spiritual needs as they define those needs, not to tell them what to believe or do.[my emphasis] This runs very deep both sociologically and psychologically. It is part of the “success” of American Catholics in becoming just like everybody else. Bishops and all of us need to catch the vision of John Paul II that the Church imposes nothing, she only proposes. But what she proposes she believes is the truth, and because human beings are hard-wired for the truth, the truth imposes. And truth obliges.

A Salute to Our Veterans

To all Veterans, thank you for your honorable and dedicated service to our country. We often take our liberty for granted, barely stopping to think what it costs for us to live free. Thank you for your sacrifices. Happy Veterans' Day!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Fight FOCA

For those of you Catholics who voted for Obama believing that either 1) his economic policies would improve the lot of women therefore would eventually curb abortions; or 2) there are larger issues out there than abortion (as in Life is trumped by, I dunno, economics? health care? geopolitics?)

I speak to the Doug Kmiecs of this world. I dare you to start fighting FOCA (Freedom of Choice Act). I want to see you publicly fight FOCA, which President-elect Obama has promised to sign with celerity as his first great act in the office. Now, today, would be a good day to do that. Never too early, I say.

Because, for all your posturing about "change", the possibility of a pro-abort Catholic-in-name-only Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary for Health and Human Services doesn't inspire confidence. And Rahm Emmanuel's signaling that embryonic stem cell research ban will be overturned, as well as the Mexico City Policy....well, how is that leading to less abortions, exactly?

I don't know what kind of mental gymnastics you did by creating this fairytale scenario in your minds that there would be less abortions under the most pro-abort (that's baby-killing) candidate ever to run for President. But it's time for you to show how this candidate for change will accomplish reduction in abortions. The rumblings are not encouraging.

Please sign the Fight FOCA letter here.

Hat tip to Danny

And for those invincibly unconvinced of ending abortion...think that the worldwide daily statistic of 120,000 aborted babies is the entire population of my county. Everyday, an entire county wiped out. Yearly, that would add up to the populations of nine Southern states. Gone, wiped out.

Carrying the Cross

Please, dear readers, add my friend, Philip Gerard Johnson, to your prayer list. Read about his journey here at his new 'blog In Caritate Non Ficta

It is especially poignant to be praying for him on this month of the devotion to Holy Souls in Purgatory. We are not comfortable with suffering. In my Protestant past, suffering was akin to punishment for an unconfessed sin. But since becoming Catholic, I have come to appreciate the Church's teaching on redemptive suffering, uniting one's sufferings with the Cross of Christ for the salvation of the world.

One of the comments left at Philip's 'blog talked about the crosses we bear in this life, our appointed Gethsemanes when we are faced with abandoning ourselves to God's will, offering the suffering to God. A reminder that a servant cannot be more than his master.

Philip has a devotion to Fr. Thomas Price, the Tar Heel Apostle, and Fr. Price's Cause for Canonization. One of our diocesan priests, Fr. Tighe, wrote this prayer for both Philip and Fr. Price.
Father Thomas Price...... INTERCEDE for our brother, Philip Gerard Johnson.

Heavenly Father, who desires that the faithful be drawn to the heroic virtue of your Priest Fr. Thomas Price, grant your healing gifts to your son, our brother, Philip Gerard Johnson. We ask this in the Holy Name of your Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen!

Locus Iste

Yesterday, I had no time to post anything. It was the Feast of the Dedication of the Archbasilica of Our Savior, in the new calendar, Dedication of the Basilica of St. John Lateran.

The Gradual from the usus antiquior was this:
Locus iste a Deo factus est, inæstimabile sacramentum, irreprehensibilis est. Deus, cui adstat Angelorum chorus, exaudi preces servorum tuorum. Alleluia, alleluia. Adorabo ad templum sanctum tuum: et confitebor nomini tuo. Alleluia.

(I'm prejudiced, but I've not found an English translation that matches the Latin) This place was made by God, a pricelss mystery, it is without reproof. O God, before whom stands the choir of angels, give ear to the prayers of Thy servants. Alleluia, alleluia. I will worship towards Thy holy temple: and I will give glory to Thy name. Alleluia.
Here is the sublime setting by Anton Bruckner. I have fond memories of singing this for a church consecration.

Battles on the Horizon

Our pastor asked all pro-lifers in our parish to a meeting last night. He wanted to encourage us in the looming battles ahead. For those of us who prayed earnestly for the elections, the results were like a kick in the gut....Disheartened, depressed, and fighting disillusionment... He wanted to rally us and to help us look ahead in preparation to the coming hardships for the movement.

One thing he said last night was, "It is not an inevitability that FOCA will pass or that the Mexico City policy will be repealed."

All my instincts lead me to believe that they are a done deal. Nothing in what I have read and apprehended about our newly-elected leaders leads me to believe otherwise, which oftentimes leads me to the most glorious rants you can imagine.

So Father's words last night caused me to think through another sleepless night. "It is not an inevitability...." What does he mean?

For those of us who are already active in the pro-life cause, it means an even greater commitment to the cause of Life. That eventually leads to some self-righteous ticking off of things that I already do. And then I realize that there is room for more, not necessarily doing more, but a giving of self completely to the Lord of Life.

A few weeks before the election, a friend and I were talking about what more we could do to promote the culture of life. She brought up the point that we each need to pursue holiness in a more fervent way, to be completely surrendered to God's will.

So I'm struck once more by how much I withhold from God....little areas here and there where I block God's grace from being poured into my life. I really do assert my autonomy in a thousand ways.

I don't have the answers as to how my becoming more holy can lead to the crumbling of the evils of abortion. Then I remember Blessed Mother Teresa's words: I do not pray for success, only faithfulness....

Ah, faith, one of the theological virtues....a permanent habit, a freely-given gift. Faithfulness in my own little path to heaven. Lots to wrestle with this week.

A Pledge of Future Glory

We have begun the fourth week of our Adoration Chapel. The big and small details that make for a smoothly-run chapel are being worked out in the background by the team leaders. I am grateful for the people who have made the commitment to be divisional leaders, hourly leaders....captains and lieutenants in this wondrous army of adorers. I had chosen not to be part of the team, partly because of my work load, and partly out of obedience to humility. It's too easy for me to be involved in everything. I notice way far too much and feel pulled to make changes.

And so with Adoration, I wanted to do just one adore. I wanted to be able to commit my time in Christ's Presence undistracted by details. Since my conversion, outside of the Mass, Adoration has been the one thing that draws me powerfully to Being.

I exist out of the goodness of God. And before the Blessed Sacrament, I bring my whole existence, with all its unfulfilled potential, its glaring flaws, its unmerited triumphs, before the source of all.

Wonder and awe are the ever-present emotions that I feel there. Perhaps, they stem from previous experiences in another place of the prejudice against Adoration, sadly of a priest, and the remembrance of the browbeating I received for asking for more Adoration hours. The horror of listening to him rant against the burden of filling the hours makes me shudder to this day. I wonder if my persistent requests led him close to the sin of irreverence. I am filled with great sadness for those times past.

Then, there are other times of Eucharistic Adoration, that make me grateful for Christ's humility in offering himself in Host and Chalice....Corpus Christi procession in Rome following the Vicar of Christ....kneeling on the hard marble floor of the cathedral of Sorrento with the Bishop only a couple of feet from me, holding Christ aloft in the monstrance, the gold threads of his vestments and the canopy gleaming through the haze of clouds of incense, the Pueri Cantore chanting "Adoro te devote".

In our Adoration Chapel, those past wounds and glorious memories help me give thanks for the simplicity of entering the door, getting down on my face, then rising to gaze on the Blessed Sacrament. There, I contemplate on the Sacred Banquet, uniting my battle scars from the week's wrestling with life to that of the Greatest Passion, and for a brief moment, I am pierced with a sense of future glory when we finally behold God face to face. All words flee, there is only the moment when time's limitation is broken and eternity intrudes.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Beckwith's Return to Rome

~via Insight Scoop. Remember the uproar that Dr. Francis Beckwith's return to the Catholic Church caused among evangelicals? His book has been published. Here's the book blur:
What does it mean to be evangelical? What does it mean to be Catholic? Can one consider oneself both simultaneously? Francis Beckwith has wrestled with these questions personally and professionally. He was baptized a Catholic, but his faith journey led him to Protestant evangelicalism. He became a philosophy professor at Baylor University and president of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS). In 2007, after much prayer, counsel, and consideration, Beckwith decided to return to the Roman Catholic church and step down as ETS president.

This provocative book details Beckwith's journey, focusing on his internal dialogue between the Protestant theology he embraced for most of his adult life and Catholicism. He seeks to explain what prompted his decision and offers theological reflection on whether one can be evangelical and Roman Catholic, affirming his belief that one can be both.
Read an excerpt.

What's in a name?


A dear friend who teaches in public school one day wrote this name on a piece of paper. She looked at me with a gleam in her eye and dared me, "How do you say this name?"

Before I answered I asked her if this was a real story, and she said, "Yes, a mom and her daughter came to enroll at my school today."

Okay, how about "Leah", pronounced LEE-ah. Nope, she said.

Then how about LAY-ah. Nope, she said as the gleam in her eye grew brighter.

Fine, then the accent must be on the second syllable, said I. Odd, but oh, people and their children's names can be an adventure.

How about lay-AH? She burst out laughing and said, "Ready?"

At this point, I realized it was going to be something quite odd. A friend attended her son's graduation ceremony last spring and brought the program to coffee the next day and dared me to pronounce some of the names. It was an eye-opening experience in realizing how clueless some parents were in naming their children. Weird is an understatement. Bizarre is more like it.

So, are you ready?

Le-a is Leh-DASH-ah.

Huh? Excuse me? What was this parent thinking?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Poncho lady expecting redux

It's been three days since I first read this story and it still has the power to nauseate me.

"I'm feeling very ripe," says Rowley. [how lady-like, how gentile...NOT!]

One thing I want to know, besides the dissident view toward Holy Orders (aren't we tired of the 60s and 70s yet?), is why these priestesses uniformly pick UGLY vestments.

I mean, if I were to suddenly lose my mind and decide that God is indeed calling me to the priesthood, keeping in mind my love for Church patrimony (indeed, sexist of me), I would choose stunning vestments. Fiddleback chasubles with gold threads trimmed with jewels. Or Gothic chasuble with silk brocade and orphreys rich with baroque designs. Surplices with fine Belgian lace with gorgeous medallions representing sacred symbols. Maniple!!! Hey, I love handbags, what woman priest wouldn't love maniples? And baby, who would be able to resist birettas? That's a hat.

And if God were so obliging as to see that I certainly deserve to be a Bishopess, I would choose a mitre with freshwater pearls and diamonds all over and a crozier with a provenance...I'll take that one that's on display now at the Dominican House of Studies. This is a sorry excuse for a mitre and a total disgrace to the grace of womanhood:

Give me this instead:

And hey, I would gladly wear a cappa magna, think, a looooong purple cappa with train! I happen to look good in purple, if I say so myself.

The sobriquet of "poncho lady" grew out of this aesthetically disturbing tendency among priestesses. Let me demonstrate. Here is Ms. Rowley (gotta make sure I'm using the PC title...Mzzzzzzzzz, okay, I'll play, irReverenda Rowley) in her glorious ripeness (Deo volente, she will have a safe childbirth and the baby will be healthy and live a long life, I mean that.):

I was a child in the 70s and had to endure a set of bed linens similar to above fabric. It was ugly then, it's ugly now. And it's surprising how expensive these things can be.

In contrast (it's good to see the full range of things, very enlightening), from Dappled Things, we have:

Don't give me that lame line about how these ugly vestments represent humility and solidarity with the poor of the world. Ugly does not equate humility. Why? Because the fact that one is passing oneself off as a priest, contrary to Church teaching, shows the hubris inherent in said priestess. She, of her own magisterial power (cheered on by a merry band of dissenters) declares that she is indeed a priest because she says so.

Furthermore, how come they don't spend years and years in seminary? I mean, wouldn't they want to have some kind of priestly formation house "Women Priest House of Studies" to rival, say, St. John Vianney or the Greg or PNAC? Seriously, I would want to immerse myself in philosophy and the whole spectrum of theology, ecclesiology (erm, somewhat emended to fit my worldview of women's ordination). Gosh, imagine taking liturgy classes to learn the Tridentine Rite, or Gregorian Rite. Who wouldn't want to go study at a place that looks like this?

Hey, it doesn't have to be in Rome (but can you imagine a more in-your-face thing to have it in Roma?). If I truly believed in my emended ecclesiology, a house of studies near Stonehenge would suffice.

Instead, women's ordination proponents rent some sleazy boat and perform the minimalist rite and bingo! Priestess.

~pillbox hat tip (because I think they're stylish) to Mac (who is so much more avant-garde and with-it than I)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Things to cheer me up

~via Chiesa on the compilation of Pope Benedict's homilies
Omelie: L'anno liturgico narrato Joseph Ratzinger, papa
Benedict XVI said it clearly in the homily that he delivered on June 29, 2008, on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul: his vocation is to "to serve as liturgist of Jesus Christ for the nations." The striking expression is from Paul, in chapter 15 of the Letter to the Romans. And the pope has made it his own. He has identified his mission as successor of the Apostles precisely in being the celebrant of a "cosmic liturgy." Because "when the world in all its parts has become a liturgy of God, when, in its reality, it has become adoration, then it will have reached its goal and will be safe and sound."

It is a dizzying vision. But Pope Ratzinger has this unshakable certainty: when he celebrates the Mass, he knows that the entire action of God is contained in it, woven together with the ultimate destiny of man and of the world. For him, the Mass is not a mere rite officiated by the Church. It is the Church itself, with the triune God dwelling within it. It is the image and reality of the entirety of the Christian adventure. The educated pagans of the early centuries were not mistaken when they identified Christianity by describing its act of worship. Because this was also the faith of those first believers. "Sine dominico non possumus," without the Sunday Eucharist we cannot live, the martyrs of Abitina replied to Emperor Diocletian when he banned them from celebrating it. And they sacrificed their lives for this. Benedict XVI recalled this episode in the homily of the first Mass he celebrated outside of Rome as pope, in Bari on May 29, 2005.
Yay, another must have!

And if you've not seen this, here's Papa reading "In the beginning..." Don't you just love Italian?

Panem et Circenses

...thanks to my friend, Edmund C who reminded me this morning.

[I]am pridem, ex quo suffragia nulli uendimus, effudit curas; nam qui dabat olim imperium, fasces, legiones, omnia, nunc se continet atque duas tantum res anxius optat, panem et circenses. ~Juvenal
Ah, let me see if I can dig up my pictures of Circus Maximus. *pssst, there's not much there...a dusty track and grassy areas*

Catholic Heritage in Ireland

Please add St. Conleth's Catholic Heritage Association to your bookmarks.

CHA features news on the progress of the Traditional Latin Liturgy/Extraordinary Form/Gregorian Rite in the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin, Ireland, as well as posts on Catholic Heritage.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Poncho lady expecting

...and guess what the headline says: First pregnant RC priest (thanks, Z, I just lost my lunch)
Congratulations to Jessica Rowley, who has achieved distinction by becoming the world's first pregnant Catholic priest. [!!!! NOPE !!!! She is no more a priest than I am and thinking and believing that she is doesn't make her so.]

'A little over a year ago, 26-year-old Jessica Rowley shattered the stained-glass ceiling, so to speak, by being ordained a Catholic priest. Now the St. Louisan is on the verge of giving birth to her first child, and a Washington, D.C.-based group that advocates for women’s ordination says that makes Rowley the world’s first pregnant Catholic priest.

"I'm due November 19, but the doctor believes it could be any day," says Rowley. "I'm feeling very ripe."
Oh, and there's a picture included of the happy an ugly chasuble.

There are no women priests in the Catholic Church. Zip, nada.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Episcopal Spine: Eternal Salvation

~from The Catholic Key here's an excerpt of an interview with Bishop Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph:
Chris Stigall: There are Catholics listening right now who are thinking strongly or are convinced that they will vote for Barack Obama. What would you say to them?

Bishop Finn: I would say, give consideration to your eternal salvation.
again, hat tip to Fr. Z.

Speaking of School Masses about the Children's Mass in Latin?

From Coo-es in the Cloister (pillbox hat tip to Fr. Z)
Father (vested in fiddleback and red plastic nose) Dóminus vobíscum.
Kiddies (sitting on the carpet in front of the altar) Et cum spíritu tuo.
Father (big smile and dramatic sweep of the hands) Sursum corda.
Kiddies (chorus-like, and with a similar sweeping movement prompted by the teacher over on the side) Habémus ad Dóminum.
Father (has to check the text for this sentence, so loses eye-contact) Grátias agámus Dómino Deo nostro.
Kiddies (loudly because they can remember this bit) Dignum et iustum est.
Father then launches into the prayer, pronouncing his Latin very slowly:
Vere, amantíssime Pater, hoc gáudium nobis praebétur, ut tibi grátias agámus et una cum Iesu Christo in Ecclésia tua exsultémus. Sic nos dilexísti, ut pro nobis cónderes hunc mundum imménsum et pulchrum.
Kiddies ( firmly convinced of the immensity and pulchritudinicity of the world) Glória tibi, Dómine, qui nos hómines amas.
Father: Sic nos díligis, ut nobis des Iesum Fílium tuum, qui ad te nos addúcat.
Kiddies (a little uncertain as to who Des is) Glória tibi, Dómine, qui nos hómines amas.
Read more

I am on the floor laughing.

How to cause a stir

Last Friday, our school celebrated All Saints (a day early, we know). Each student came dressed as a saint. There were lots of St. Elizabeths of Hungary, St. Georges (one with a dragon emblazoned on his armor), St Roses of Lima, St. Ignatiuses of Loyola, a St. Paul, and a couple of St. Peters, one with a giant key.

Three of the teachers dressed as St. Gianna Molla, our fifth-grade teacher even came with her five-month-old baby as a prop. One came as Fr. Thomas Price, the Tar Heel Apostle.

What did I do? Came as Blessed Zelie Martin, St. Therese's recently-beatified mother. The hoop skirt with yards and yards of crinoline poofing up the skirt caused quite a sensation. The acolytes had their jaws on the floor and there were loud squeals of delight from the girls, "Miss Argent! Look at you!" The boys, "You look all puffed up." or "You've blowed up"

My pastor came up to the organ loft and saw me. His comment? "Who are you? St. Scarlett?"


Who says with age comes wisdom? Not in this case. For heaven's sake, a Cardinal even. A new twist on W.W.J.D.

After the wreckage in the wake of not following the Church's teachings on contraception, don't you think that he would've been a bit more circumspect? Humanae Vitae was prophetic. Instead we get this piece of judgment (I'm sure the media will trumpet it soon enough):
Being able to admit one's mistakes and the limitations of one's previous viewpoints is a sign of greatness of soul and of confidence. The Church would regain credibility and competence.

Silent Holocaust

I've added a new item on my sidebar, a counter of how many babies will be aborted worldwide since opening this web page. In the United States, it's around 3,600 babies a day. Where are all the other babies being torn apart from limb to limb? Mostly in developing countries. Read for yourself here.

It's a staggering number...yet, I grieve whenever I hear a person say that there are "other issues" in this election. As if stacking all the other issues on one side of the scale would outweigh this one issue. What kind of people are we that would work ourselves into thinking that our economic well-being is more important? How cynical is that?

There is no openness for dialogue as the conversation quickly turns emotion-driven. And then the old tactic comes to play early on: Don't judge.

Ah, but you see, each time an abortion is performed, a judgment is made. And those who support that decision or the system that supports such a decision have also made a judgment: a whole class of humans are expendable. Not just a little expendable, but a violent, gruesome "procedure" that had it been performed on a born child would produce an outcry.