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, September 22, 2007

Latin Mass

I don't know what's happening out in the wide world of Catholic worship, but in my own little parish, the effects of the new John XXIII Mass (the old Latin Mass) rules are not visible so far.

I was at choir practice, chatting with one of our liturgical types.

Even though our parish has an older population - with lots of traditional activities, a 24-hour perpetual adoration chapel, an altar rosary society, special devotions to saints, and so on - no one has requested the old Mass.

Just a week so far, but nothing.

Of course, our pastor, who was ordained in the 70s, doesn't know the rite, so if anyone did request it, one of our retired priests in residence might be able to pull it off with some refreshing.

But no one has shown any interest.

Haven't heard of any other parishes where the traditionists have risen up.

Maybe the one Mass that's been allowed for years in the City of Rochester meets the need.

Any rumblings out there?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Vatican and Nana: Feeding the vegetative

I read about the latest statement from the Vatican about food and water for people in vegetative states.

The statement makes clear that the Church opposes the removal of food and water - as happened in the Terry Schiavo case.

That had always been my understanding of the teaching, but the article brought back a memory from something that happened a year ago.

At that time, my Nana was fading, though she had certainly not reached a vegetative state. Her doctor had suggested she might only have a few weeks or months left.

The staff at her nursing home suggested that we consider hospice services to give her a higher level of care in her final days.

I met with the home social worker and the hospice person. Everything went well until we got to the food part.

Their policies called for ending feeding at a certain point. I objected and said it was against Church teachings. I cited some documents, including ones put out by the U.S. Bishops. They had not read them, but they assured me that they had consulted various religious ethicists - including Catholic one - and that what they were proposing was permitted.

I continued to object, and they said it was my choice (I was Nana's proxy). They said they would check further, but added that if I refused to sign the document, then she could not get the added comfort care the hospice program permitted.

We went back and forth for a couple of weeks. I was planning to meet with one of the ethicists from the Diocese of Rochester.

Then the discussion became moot: Nana died peacefully in her sleep.

They discovered that when they came to her room to get her ready for breakfast.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


According to sitemeter, I've had more than 40,000 page views and 25,000 visits to this blog over the past few years.

The pace has slowed down. I haven't been as regular as I should about adding new posts, or in visiting other's sites.

One of the factors is that I have been blogging for my hometown newspaper. Although I don't know the exact figures, there over the last year on that blog I've gotten tens of thousands of visits there.

That's nice, but I miss being a more active part of the Catholic blogosphere.

Monday, September 10, 2007

That dreaded homily

Well, Father Steve delivered that dreaded homily yesterday.

No, not about hell, damnation or the begats.


As in we don't get enough in the collection.

We are currently averaging about $2,000 per week below the budgeted amount. We''ve already had to let one staff person go. Father hinted that even more dire things may happen.

He should have just come out and said that given the ongoing consolidating/merging of parishes, a financially troubled one is more likely to be closed.

He had stats. He went back three years (to when he arrived) and noted that some 200 registered parishioners had given nothing over that span. 200 more had given less that $100 in that span, and some 300 had given between $100 and $500 over the three years.

Mind you, some of those folks may have given cash, and so there were no official records on how much they gave. (Indeed, because I sometimes forget the envelope, the parish records indicate I've given about a $1,000 less than I actually have.) We also have a parish with a lot of seniors on fixed incomes who can't afford much.

Still, 400 gave less than $100 over three years?

So how do you get people to give without getting them so mad they refuse to give? Better homilies? Charisma?

Any ideas out there?

Monday, September 03, 2007

Back to school

I was out at my school today - it is Labor Day, after all.

The school is a private Chrsitian school created by the parents of a local congregation just four years ago. They put up the money to buy the land, did a lot of the physical labor to convert the house on the property to a school, and volunteer there every day and in fundraising efforts.

Sort of like Catholic parents used to do.

We started out with grades 7-12, added a sixth grade two years ago, and are adding grades 3, 4, and 5 this year.

Two of the trustees were out there today as I prepared my classroom.

They told me we will be K-12 by 2010, and will have an auditorium.

All paid for by the parents and their church community.

The school is part of a network of related schools being created across the country. They are all growing.

Meanwhile, Catholic schools close as people abandon them, have fewer children (in contrast, this Christian community actually follows Humane Vitae even though they are not Catholic), are unwilling to pay the tuition, have no time to volunteer and do the fundraising, and so on.

Interestingly, all the teachers at the school are Catholics, as is the principal/lead teacher (me). Seems we were willing to take lower pay - though not as low as the Catholic schools pay! - to work in a family-supported faith-based environment.

Makes you wonder.


Sunday, September 02, 2007

Our Lady of Fatima Shrine

I don't recall when we first went to Our Lady of Fatima Shrine in Youngstown, N.Y. I know my family went when I was a kid. When I had children of my own, we began going about once a year.

One thing I always enjoyed was the obvious devotion of so many of the people there.
Something else. We went to Mass there yesterday, and I looked around. There were Indians, Filipinos, Asians, and members of other ethnic groups in the pews. There were developmentally disabled people, and people with canes, walkers and in wheel chairs. It was a microcosm of the Universal Church.

I've also always enjoyed strolling the grounds, viewing the basilica (above), and the many statues on the grounds.

Among those statues are a lovely display of Mary and the children (yes, that's my wife in the picture, too).

I also always liked going on top of the basilica (where there is a statue of Mary), and looking out over the complex, including the Rosary pool.

Inside the basilica is a Peace Mural by Joseph Slawinski. Yes, it does include a mushroom cloud helping to show the consequences of lack of peace. It also includes in its middle section a pregnant woman - the promise - and on the right side the results of a world at peace.

In the main building is the original Chapel of Our Lady of Fatima Shrine.

Out on the grounds, you find replica of the first chapel built in Fatima, Portugal.

One thing that saddened me over the years was watching the wearing down of the site. The basilica is in need of repair. Some of the statues and smallers shrines on the ground have been damaged due to weather - it is outside Buffalo, after all - and even, sadly, vandals.
So the Shrine is starting a fundraising effort to begin repairs.

The address is:
Our Lady of Fatima Shrine
1023 Swann Road
PO Box 167
Youngstown, N.Y. 14174-0167