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.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

St. Peter of Verona

Gotta love those iconographers.
St. Peter of Verona was attacked by by heretics who stabbed him and cracked his skull with a cleaver. So, in pictures of him, we often see the cleaver still embedded.
Oh, and he's sometimes invoked against headaches.
Good thing God has a sense of humor.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Giving up that Thin Mint addiction?

My daughters were involved in the Girl Scouts, and thus, so was I.

I used to take them to meetings, join them for Christmas caroling, and, of course, buy those cookies.

They are grown up now.

Alas, so it appears are the Girl Scouts.

As Jane Chastain points out, the Girl Scouts are to some degree supporting positions Catholics cannot.

The ties are inconsistent. Some troops invite Planned Parenthood to give workshops. Most do not.

Then again, there are those national positions.


So I guess we all have to be careful about our support for local troops. We need to find out what they promote and support.

Or we need to find alternatives.

But those Thin Mints ...

Monday, April 23, 2007

Virginia Tech and gun control

I am a community blogger for our local newspaper. Last Friday I was contacted by one of the editors to write a piece for a "face off" (people on opposite sides of an issue) on gun control for the print edition.

She said to limit it to about 300 words.

Phew. Being a verbose sort, that was tough.

I managed to get it down to 327 words.

Here's the piece I submitted. It was changed a bit after the newspaper edited it. -- --

The terrible Virginia Tech tragedy has inspired an outpouring of support, concern, and tributes.

One fitting tribute would be to revisit the issue of gun control.

Consider what happened: A mentally ill-young man legally purchased handguns at a gun shop, ammunition at a store, and ammunition clips on-line.

There are federal laws, a limited federal instant check system, and a hodgepodge of state laws.

The Virginia Tech shooter got through cracks in that flawed system.

Ideally, we would ban all non-work related handguns and certain kinds of rifles, and would put stricter controls on all other firearms.

Realistically, outright banning is not likely. Instead, we should focus on implementing stricter national controls with which states must comply.

The instant check system should expand to include mental health categories and more crimes. We should consider greater limits on the kinds of weapons one can buy, longer waiting periods, required safety courses and licensing, banning of internet and mail purchases of weapons and related items, and annual registration of all firearms.

The gun lobby will oppose such measures. They will cite the myth of the “Second Amendment right to bear arms.”

As courts have declared, however, there is no such right for individuals. The Amendment actually says: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

The point of the Amendment was ensuring that we had a “well-regulated Militia” for national defense, not that individuals have an unlimited right to own guns. Individuals needed weapons because the states at that time did not regularly supply them. State militias have been supplanted by National Guard units – and the government supplies their weapons.

Against the Second Amendment myth we have the reality of the Virginia Tech deaths – and the thousands of other deaths each year because of gun violence.

A more rational gun policy would be a fitting memorial for those many victims.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


The canon lawyer called yesterday to say that a second canon lawyer was looking at my case. He said if the second one saw the case the same way that he did, then things should be fine. He thought there was going to be no need to get Rome involved.


We will be going to the May 26 retreat. If there are no further twists, then I can start the actual application process - which in itself is involved.

Sometimes I just make my life too complicated.

In part in preparation for all this, I left my weekend job. My last day at the radio station as the regular Saturday newscaster/host was yesterday. I'm staying on as a spot reporter and for relief shifts during school breaks, so it's not a complete separation.

My leaving after 22 years was for more than the diaconate, though. After 22 years, I'm tired of getting up at 4:30 and being locked in every Saturday. Now my wife and I can do more (when I'm not in class or workshops if I get into the deacon program), and I'll have more time to visit my dad at the home, and to take him out to lunch and shopping.

Thanks for all your prayers. Please keep them coming!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Sharing in Sin

While researching something in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, I stumbled across the following:

1868 Sin is a personal act. Moreover, we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate in them:

- by participating directly and voluntarily in them;
- by ordering, advising, praising, or approving them;
- by not disclosing or not hindering them when we have an obligation to do so;
- by protecting evil-doers.

1869 Thus sin makes men accomplices of one another and causes concupiscense, violence, and injustice to reign among them. Sin gives rise to social situations and institutions that are contrary to the divine goodness. ...

We all have to look at how this applies to us and how we are complicit in the sins of our society. I know I need to do so.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

No decision, but I'll go

I spoke with the head of the deacon program today.

The canon law issue is still unresolved. His advice was to still attend the day of reflection, as there may be a decision in the near future.

If it’s no, well, no harm done.

If it’s yes, then I’ve begun the process.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A first step

The Supreme Court today upeld the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act.

According to an AOL article, "The 5-4 decision written by Justice Anthony Kennedy said the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act that Congress passed and President Bush signed into law in 2003 does not violate a woman's constitutional right to an abortion."

I wonder if such a law would get passed by the current Congress?

See more at -


I received a letter inviting my wife and me to a day of reflection on the diaconate.

It gave me a spark of hope, even though I know such letters were sent to anyone who had expressed interest in the diaconate.

But this day of reflection is the first step in the process. It's the start of what could be a five-year road of prayer, study and discernment.

Yet it also has me anxious. It's a deadline.

I have not heard from the canon lawyer with a decision about whether my possible impediment is indeed an impediment.

I will register for the day, but a part of me wonders - what if they say I can't go on at this time?

Monday, April 16, 2007

Happy Birthday to a maligned pope

Happy Birthday Pope Benedict!

I had a chance conversation with a self-described “cafeteria Catholic” the other day at work. She was bemoaning the papacy of Pope Benedict. But when I asked her what he had done that upset her, she hemmed and hawed, and gave me generalities, but could not name one thing that he had written, done or said, other than a vague comment about how he opposed women priests.

After a few minutes of this, and my trying to describe what he has done, she said maybe she should read what he has written. (!)

I highly doubt that she will. She seemed very comfortable in her distaste for Pope Benedict based on some general and inaccurate notions about him that go over well at her parish, until she was challenged to defend them. That required knowledge.

Our conversation ended with her running off to do some work, but giving me a parting shot that a particular woman religious we both know would be ordained if only the pope would relent.


Amy Wellborn has a good piece looking at ignorance about Benedict in the mainstream media.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Catholic League on Imus

The Don Imus flap caught the attention of the Catholic League, and I've got to admit they have a point in the following release -


Catholic League president Bill Donohue commented today on the way Catholic bashers are treated as compared to Don Imus:

“Two years ago, Penn Jillette (of the comedy team Penn and Teller) went on Showtime calling Mother Teresa ‘Mother F—king Teresa’ and called the nuns who worked with her ‘f—king c—ts.’ Showtime is owned by Viacom and that is why I wrote to its chief, Sumner Redstone, to register a complaint. He wrote back extolling the merits of ‘artistic freedom’ and ‘tolerance.’ Last year, on Viacom-owned CBS radio, Jillette said Mother Teresa ‘had this weird kink that I think was sexual,’ compared the saintly nun to Charles Manson and said she ‘got her [sexual] kicks watching people suffer and die.’ Again, nothing was done about this.

“In 2005, Bill Maher went on HBO at the time of the death of Pope John Paul II and said, ‘For those who could not make the funeral, the Vatican has asked that in lieu of flowers, just stop touching your d—k.’ He also said that the whole story of Jesus, the Virgin Mary and the Resurrection was ‘grafted from paganism’; he ended by mocking the death of the pope and the upcoming conclave. The letter I received from HBO said that ‘it’s a free country, and people are free to say silly things—even on HBO.’

“Right before Easter, the Catholic League protested the chocolate Jesus with his genitals exposed that was to be shown in the art gallery of the Roger Smith Hotel in midtown Manhattan (located on street level, the public was invited to eat him). Air America radio co-host Cenk Uygur, writing on ‘The Huffington Post,’ said, ‘So is the argument that Jesus didn’t have a d—k? Or were people offended because it was too big? Too Small? Too immaculate? Not immaculate enough?’ Regarding Imus’s remark, Uygur called it ‘derogatory and insulting.’

“Similarly, Joan Walsh on said the chocolate Jesus was not ‘a big deal,’ and advised people not to go see it if they didn’t like it. She has now called on Imus to be fired. Even New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg said ‘don’t pay any attention’ to the chocolate Jesus, but he now finds it necessary to brand Imus’ comments ‘repugnant.’

“In other words, Catholic bashing is humorous and an exercise in liberty. Racism is awful. Bigotry, then, is neither good nor bad—it just depends who the target is.”

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Stations for life

We have a thriving pro-life community in Rochester. The Diocese of Rochester has been supportive. We even have one of the few - it may be the only - Project Rachel in New York state to help those who have had abortions.

Every Good Friday, local pro-lifers (mostly Catholic) hold a Stations of the Cross in Reparation for Abortion.

Folks gather at McQuaid Jesuit High School for a service, then recite the stations while processing to the nearby office of a doctor who performs abortions.

This year, very cold weather kept the numbers low, but the procession still included more than 100 people led by priests and deacons.

At the service, the speaker was Sr. Betsy MacKinnon, who runs the Rachel's Vinyard Retreats for those who have had abortions. She says that on the six retreats they've had so far they have memorialized more than 250 children who died through abortion, and that a number of women have found healing.

Outside the doctor's office, we were greeted by a loudspeaker blaring a rock radio station to try to drown out our prayers and hymns.
That didn't stop Father Tony Mugavero from leading us in prayer for everyone in that office.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The publication celebration

The latest issue of Gilbert Magazine arrived, and … I’m in it.

More specifically, one of my clerihews is in it.

Now I know that other Chestertonians are regular contributors to that fine periodical, penning erudite, insightful and lengthy pieces, but now I can say I have contributed my own little bit of fluff:

When talking with Socrates
Just give simple answers please,
Or we’ll all have to slog
Through another dialogue.

I feel as light as a feather. I am as happy as an angel. I am as merry as a schoolboy. I am as giddy as a drunken man.

Why, I feel like dancing.

Monday, April 02, 2007

John Paul II

Rest in peace, Pope John Paul II.

Pray for us.