View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Humble obedience

While reading Stephen Mansfield's brief biography of Pope Benedict (Pope Benedict XVI: His Life and Mission), I came across an interesting passage.

When studying at the University of Munich, one of the future pope's professors was Gottlieb Sohngen, who rejected the idea that Mary was taken bodily into heaven when she died - this was before the dogma was defined by the Church and thus was a topic for open discussion.

When asked what he would do if the dogma was defined, Sohngen said, "If the dogma comes, then I will remember that the Church is wiser than I and that I must trust her more than my own erudition."

I was reminded of our own first bishop here in Rochester, Bernard McQuaid. At Vatican I, he opposed the idea of papal infallibility - in fact, he left the Council rather than vote on it because it was clear it would be approved. But once it was defined, he publicly supported the teaching.

Both men provide a lesson for our day.

Blind obedience of something that is clearly wrong? No.

But acceptance of clearly defined doctrine? Yes. If I want to claim to be a Catholic.

This is something with which I struggle. I am a proud person.

Despite my ego, though, I must admit I clearly am limited in my knowledge and understanding.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Living Stations

Okay, I know I just had my church in with its St. Joseph Table.

But I've got a personal connection to this one.

Tomorrow night, the youth of St. Theodore's will be performing a Living Sations of the Cross.

The kids have worked hard.

Oh, and I am co-directing along with fellow parishioner Jim Landers.

If anyone is interested and lives in the Rochester area, it's tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at the church, 168 Spencerport Road.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Penance services

My parish, St. Theodore's in Gates (a suburb of Rochester), held two Penance services this week for Lent. They were on top of the weekly Saturday Sacrament of Reconciliation.

I went to the Tuesday night service. Somewhere between 200 and 300 people were there. It was very moving.

We Catholics are lucky that we have such opportunities for healing and growth.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

March morning haiku

damp March morning -
the fog does not conceal
the skunk

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

mid Lent crocuses

mid Lent
first crocuses break
through the snow

Sunday, March 18, 2007

St. Joseph's Table at St. Theodore's

A fine Italian tradition, with Father Steve Kraus as an honorary Son of Italy doing the blessings at my parish.

A St. Patrick's Day Confession

One of the things I gave up for Lent was snacking. But for St. Patrick’s Day, I granted myself a dispensation – a Guinness and a bowl of popcorn while watching The Quiet Man with the Good Looking One.

Thus fortified, now back to Lent!

Monday, March 12, 2007

A Bell for Padre Pio

Construction on the St. Padre Pio Chapel next to the Italian Americna Community Center in Gates, N.Y. ( a suburb of Rochester) has not yet started, but they already have a bell with Rochester and Italian roots.

As reported in the Italian American Community News, the bell from old St. Lucy's Church has been donated to the founders of the new chapel, Filomena and Olindo di Francesco. The bell is engraved "Santa Lucia, 1913." That's the year St. Lucy's was built.

St. Lucy's Parish served the Italian community here in Rochester, and even held Masses in Italian. It closed in 1975 due to dwindling attendance, and the building sold to Lilly of the Valley, a Christian church.

The old church building burned down in 2000, but the bell was salvaged.

What a neat story. That bell that rang out for Rochester's Italian Americans will eventually be part of a chapel dedicated to a remarkable modern Italian saint.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

My heart skipped a beat (Deacon quest)

The canon lawyer looking into my possible impediment for entering the diaconate program e-mailed me the other day to let me know he had been delayed in the process, but that he was now going to be able to examine the situation.

But then he cited something in the piece I'd written at his request that could be a problem: My first marriage.

He was concerned about any possible irregularities involved in its end and my subsequent marriage.

My heart skipped a beat. Could what happened 18 years ago end my chances, even though what happened then was not of my doing?

Could my ex-wife stop me from seeking the diaconate?


I had first begun considering the diaconate back in the 1980s when we were married. She had opposed it. We were part of the Corpus Christi world, and she argued that the diaconate was just more clericalism, and that what we needed were lay leaders, not more ordained people.

Ironically, she is now part of the Spiritus Christi break-away church working for a Master's in theology, and has talked about seeking ordination herself.

I e-mailed the lawyer back immediately with the information that that marriage had been annuled, and that my current wife and I had married in the church, and only after the annulment had come through.

He later responded that there was no problem with that issue then.


Apparently the only possible impediment I have to deal with now is the one of my own doing.

Music for Morning Prayers

One of the positive things I'm doing for Lent is I've begun to say Morning Pryers again. It's a good way to get the day off to the right start.

As I say them, I put on instrumental music. (Music with vocals would disturb the praying.)

Currently it's Glenn MClure's The Four Hammer Dulcimer. Glenn is a local musician who has produced some fine works.

Do other people play music in the background while praying? If so, what.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Cable is indispensable?

The local cable company announced that it was raising rates yet again.

Then the local newspaper wrote an editorial: "Keep TV affordable."

In the editorial, the editors commented, "More and more, Time Warner's cable/phone/Internet deal is becoming indispensable for families."


Food, water, shelter, clothing - those are indispensable.

I'd also list a good job, quality health care, a spiritual life, and decent schools among things that are important.

But cable?

Cable is a luxury. It's an extra. In fact, it's an extra for an extra (television).
It's an extra we gave up several years ago.

What can people do without cable? Watch regular television. Talk. Play games. Listen to the radio. Play an instrument. Read a newspaper.

Read, period.

Developing our minds instead of passively absorbing.

As for the headline, "Keep TV affordable," my TV is affordable: FREE.

When we come to regard cable as "indispensable," then we are in trouble as a culture and a nation.