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, August 30, 2008

Palin at the Catholic shop

Not to turn this into a Sarah Palin fan club site (she's Number 22 above, a point guard who would lead her team to the state championship), but I was out at the Catholic shop in Spencerport (a nearby suburb) this afternoon, and Palin was the hot topic of conversation. They were all excited (though disappointed when it was pointed out she's not Catholic - someone then quipped, "She's more Catholic than Biden" to appreciative laughter) A couple of them noted that they would now enthusiastically vote for the McCain ticket. I wonder how many conversations like that are going on among orthodox Catholics out there?

I also went on to a couple of Hillary (and PUMA) sites earlier today. There was a lot of back and forth, but the overwhelming sentiment of the people posting at that point was that they would vote for McCain/Palin just because of Palin being on the ticket - even if she is so pro-life.

Let's see ... there were 18,000,000 Hillary supporters. If only 1 percent of them note vote for McCain, that's 180,000 - enough to tip the balance in several close states.
At the Mike Huckabee sites, a number of former Huckabee supporters are also now saying they will vote McCain (even though disappointed Huckabee did not get the VP nod.) That's a few thousand more votes - and who knows how many Evangelicals in general are hopping on board.


Friday, August 29, 2008

Morning Mass

One of the nice things about the long vacations earned by being a teacher is that I can get to morning daily Mass (8:30).

Sadly, today was the last day I'll be able to do it as summer is over and at 8:30 I'll be standing in front of a bunch of middle schoolers. Over the summer I missed being in class, but beginning next week I will miss Mass. (I have to be at school at 7:30 each day, and there are no morning Masses near enough to make it to school on time.)

Along with the rosary, daily Mass when I can make it is a nice part of my prayer life.

Oh well - Christmas break is only four months off!

Pawlenty - yawn. How about Palin?

The scuttlebutt for the last couple of days is that John McCain has picked Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty as his running mate - a choice I think would be a mistake. (Pro-life, but dull, not popular in his state, the bridge collapse issue that could be thrown in his face.)

But the latest buzz is Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Think of the spark such a choice would provide for the campaign - it would knock Obama out of the headlines.

She's staunchly pro-life and a reformer, young (44), energetic (hunts and fishes, runs marathons), athletic (led her high school basketball team to the state championship), and attractive (even won a beauty contest!). Her husband is a champion snowmobile racer who is part Native American. They have five children,
the latest born just this year with Down Syndrome. Her oldest son is in the Army and will be deployed to Iraq in September. I think this family can match up to the Obamas in the all-important "cute kids/nice-looking family" competition. The son in Iraq would trump Biden's son being deployed.

The only knocks appear to be a couple of ethical probes that actually may be politically motivated by foes trying to hit back at her for some of her actions to out corruption. Even if untrue, the media might focus on that. In addition, she has little experience (a charge the GOP has certainly aimed at Obama), and might be attacked for that. And in choosing a woman, McCain might be accused of pandering or trying to go after the Hillary voters.

We'll know later this morning. Maybe.

[UPDATE: There are news reports that neither Pawlenty nor Romney will be the VP choice, and that a private plane flew from Alaska to Dayton, where McCain is expected to announce his VP choice. Hmmm.]

UPDATE: News sources are confirming it's Palin. Wow. That's knocked Obama out of the spotlight. Even the Obama Fan Club at MSNBC has been forced to talk about her.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Imposing morality

Even if it hasn’t been addressed at us directly, we’ve all heard and read the classic response when discussing moral issues: Don’t impose your morality on me.

That response is actually meaningless and hypocritical.

First, it is an attempt to impose the speaker’s morality on us.

Second, all laws and all judgments are based on morality and thus, under the moral relativism that underlies the response, they can be considered imposing morality on others. Laws against accepting bribes, pedophilia, theft, discrimination, illegal immigration, trespassing, plagiarism, voter fraud, unethical business practices, assault, and so much more are based at some level on moral principles with which some people might disagree. If we accept this response as valid, the pedophile, the thief, the corrupt public official can all legitimately declare: Don’t impose your morality on me.

Third, this response is often motivated by a desire to avoid honestly addressing the moral position that prompted it. In some cases, the responder is in actuality comfortable with imposing morality as long as it his or her morality. In others, the responder is trying to redirect the discussion to get away from the sometimes uncomfortable truth that underlies the moral position.

Finally, it often is not a matter of imposing the moral position on others. It is a matter of reminding others of the moral positions they perhaps did not know or understand or have neglected or which might make them look at themselves. There is often an underlying fear of honestly dealing with the reality that underlies the moral position, for that might call into question their beliefs and actions.

So when people say, “Don’t impose your morality on me,” often what they are really saying is, “Don’t make me be honest with myself, because I might have to admit I support or do something wrong.”

Now if we were dealing with an issue of someone forcefully imposing religion on others – as, for example, some Christian and Muslim conquerors have done in the past – that would be a different issue. But that is not what we are dealing with here.

Ultimately, “Don’t impose your morality on me” is simply an empty rhetorical cop out.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

St. Monica

You've got to admire St. Monica's persistence.

A Christian, she was married to a pagan who had a temper, and was constantly unfaithful. She prayed and prayed for his conversion, and he finally did a year before he died.

She had three children that we know of. Two of the three entered religious live, but the third, St. Augustine, lived a wild life. She never gave up praying for his conversion: It took 17 years. Just after his conversion, she died.

She is the patron of wives and verbal abuse victims.

I think she should also be the patron of people who never give up.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Cardinal Egan thumps Pelosi

A number of members of the hierarchy have taken Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to task for misstating Catholic teachings about abortion on Meet the Press Sunday.

New York's Cardinal Egan issues a particularly strong one:


Like many other citizens of this nation, I was shocked to learn that the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States of America would make the kind of statements that were made to Mr. Tom Brokaw of NBC-TV on Sunday, August 24, 2008. What the Speaker had to say about theologians and their positions regarding abortion was not only misinformed; it was also, and especially, utterly incredible in this day and age.

We are blessed in the 21st century with crystal-clear photographs and action films of the living realities within their pregnant mothers. No one with the slightest measure of integrity or honor could fail to know what these marvelous beings manifestly, clearly, and obviously are, as they smile and wave into the world outside the womb. In simplest terms, they are human beings with an inalienable right to live, a right that the Speaker of the House of Representatives is bound to defend at all costs for the most basic of ethical reasons. They are not parts of their mothers, and what they are depends not at all upon the opinions of theologians of any faith. Anyone who dares to defend that they may be legitimately killed because another human being “chooses” to do so or for any other equally ridiculous reason should not be providing leadership in a civilized democracy worthy of the name.

Edward Cardinal Egan
Archbishop of New York
August 26, 2008

I think the last line can also be applied to Barack Obama and Joe Biden. I can't in good conscience vote for this ticket, and I can't imagine any pro-lifer or orthodox Catholic doing so.

Labels: , ,

The suffering Christ

The other morning I was thinking about Christ suffering on the cross, and remembered something I had heard before: He is still suffering.

Christ is beyond time. The past, the present, the future is all one. He is on the cross still, suffering for the sins I have committed and will commit. His sacrifice for us is not limited to three hours of agony 2000 years ago, it is now. So when temptation hits, I have to realize that if I give in I am adding to that ongoing suffering.

Moreover, each time a person is a victim of discrimination or violence or exploitation - workers, loved ones, neighbors, the unborn, the elderly, prisoners, combatants, people of the "wrong" faith or ethnicity or race, and so many others - Christ suffers. Now.

Not an original thought. But a sobering one.

Speaker Pelosi misrepresents Catholic teachings

I sent the following e-mail to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after her terrible performance on Meet the Press this past weekend.

Dear Speaker Pelosi;

I was stunned by your misrepresentations of Catholic teachings about abortion on this past Sunday's "Meet the Press". I was pleased to see the immediate responses from Archbishop Chaput, the USCCB, and even Catholic members of the House pointing our your errors.

Your comments only help to undermine the Democratic Party's pro-choice ticket, a ticket which was already leading orthodox Catholics across the country to consider alternative candidates. I speak here as someone who in the past has been active in Democratic Party politics, and who helped to create a state chapter of Democrats for Life.

You owe Catholics and the Democratic Party an apology.

You can send her your views at

Monday, August 25, 2008

St. Louis - Secular Franciscan

Today is the Feast of St. Louis (King Louis IX of France), the Patron of the Secular Franciscan Order, to which he belonged.

He had a reputation for being a model Christian king (even though from a more contemporary perspective his treatment of Jews was not model by any means). But for his time, he was good.

He reportedly never tolerated cursing or sinful conversation either among his servants or among the courtiers – imagine how he’d deal with common speech today where even the Democratic Party’s vice presidential nominee, Joe Biden, is spoken of “approvingly” in some circles for his salty language. St. Louis reportedly never uttered an unkind or impatient word (a worthy ideal for me to aim for).

He dressed simply and wore the insignia of the Secular Franciscan Order under his outer garments. On special occasions he reportedly even wore a habit.

He was also concerned with the poor, and according to some stories, some of whom he personally fed and served.

In fact, as part of his testament to his son, King Philip III, he said “Be kindhearted to the poor, the unfortunate and the afflicted. Give them as much help and consolation as you can. Thank God for all the benefits he has bestowed upon you, that you may be worthy to receive greater. Always side with the poor rather than with the rich, until you are certain of the truth.”

Siding with the poor is a worthy goal for all of us, and for our political leaders.


Meeting the novel goal

My goal for the summer was to reach 35,000 words with the novel. I passed that today.


Onward and upward.

With the start of school next week - and meetings and classroom prep this week (I was out there today) - I'll have to slow down. Maybe another 6,000 words by Christmas? That would get me up to 41,000 words, about half (?) done.


Reading: "Turning" and "Rendering"

Over the weekend I finished David Hartline's The Tide is Turning Toward Catholicism. Interesting premise. The book certainly was thought provoking.

There does seem to be a movement from some other denominations to Catholicism, especially the mainline Protestant churches that are imploding, like the Episcopalian/Anglicans. Some Catholics - from bishops to lay slugs like me - are indeed being more vocal about trends in our society (I suspect the internet has helped a lot, given the number of Catholic blogs out there, and easy access to information at websites.) However, there also continues a high volume of Catholics going to other churches, and continued growth of the Evangelical churches and Islam. It's not clear to me which way things are going.

I do agree with that the Church must become stricter and more orthodox. I think that's what people need - and that could lead more people to Rome.

But is the Church becoming more orthodox? Maybe. I'm not so sure, (but I could be wrong). A number of the abuses and rule stretchings have become so ingrained in places I have a hard time imagine going completely back. The use of "Extraordinary" Eucharistic Ministers even when they are not needed, for example. I have been to daily Masses attended by 30 people, and there are still EEMs (even though the priest could easily handle the volume). Some of the other abuses (non-priests/deacons preaching, for example) continue, but quietly and "unofficially." They may go in the future perhaps as bishops change and new bishops rein things in.

There may be some sort of middle ground down the road. Stricter, more orthodox on some key items, but less so on others that may ultimately prove less important?

As I said, I could be wrong. The book is definitely a stimulating read. Try to track down a copy. (And no, I don't get a kickback for that plug!)

And I totally agree with one premise of the book: The Catholic Church has survived many storms over its 2,000 years, and it will continue to survive as the true Church until the end of time.

For our anniversary, the Good-Looking-One bought me a copy of Archbishop Charles Chaput's new book, Render Unto Caesar. (She knows me well!).

I have only just begun reading, but I am interested to see what this good Franciscan says about politicians given that the Democratic Party Convention is taking place this week in his see city, and the Party snubbed Archbishop Chaput by not inviting him. Could it be they fear what this staunchly pro-life prelate might say about abortion given their staunchly pro-abortion ticket?

Good thing for the Democrats the convention does not fall on a Sunday. Otherwise, they might have to deal with speculation over whether Biden will be told not to receive Communion given his public statements on abortion.

Anyway, plenty to read. Oh, and then there's all those pesky textbooks I have to dive into this week as we get the school and lessons ready for the return of the students next Tuesday.

Time to ratchet up the prayers!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Happy Anniversary at the Fatima Shrine

For our anniversary Friday, the Good-Looking_one and I made our annual trek to Our Lady of Fatima Shrine in Lewiston N.Y. (near Niagara Falls).

The basilica renovation project there has begun - it's to prepare the basilica and the shrine for the celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima May 13 – October 13, 2017 - so we were not able to go to the top of the basilica where there is a stature of Mary (and a great view of the grounds), and we were not able to get into some side chapels. But we were able to celebrate Mass and wander the grounds.

We visited some familiar places,

like the little Fatima Chapel, and saw some of the newer statues, including

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha,

St. Mary Faustina Kawalska,

and St. Padre Pio.

We picked up a video on St. Padre Pio (which we watched last night and enjoyed). A lovely day, and a wonderful way to mark our anniversary. We are fortunate to live near the Shrine, and the new St. Padre Pio Chapel here in Gates (a suburb of Rochester).

If you are ever in the Niagara Falls area, the Shrine is well worth a stop.


Obama/Biden- That's the ticket

Barack Obama has selected Senator Joe Biden as his VP. Here's a few Biden quotes:
The only guy on the other side who’s qualified is John McCain.

I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.

The next Republican that tells me I'm not religious, I'm going to shove my rosary beads down their throat.

I strongly support Roe v. Wade.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Daughter back to college

We got daughter 3 moved back into the dorms at Wellesley College this past week. She had to get there early because this year she is an RA.

Despite appearances, the move was relatively easy.

Emily and the Good-Looking-One

and I all survived.

Labels: ,

Obama picks pro-choice "Catholic"

From the transcript of the Democratic Candidates' South Carolina Debate:

MODERATOR: Senator, thank you.
Senator Biden, as president would you have a specific litmus test question on Roe v. Wade that you would ask of your nominees for the high court?

BIDEN: I strongly support Roe v. Wade. I wouldn't have a specific question but I would make sure that the people I sent to be nominated for the Supreme Court shared my values; and understood that there is a right to privacy in the United States Constitution.

That's why I lead the fight to defeat Bork. Thank God he is not in the court or Roe v. Wade would be gone by now.

Number two, that's why I was so outspoken and have been criticized for being outspoken and leading the effort to try to defeat Roberts and Alito. That's why I opposed, the other, Thomas on the court.

The truth of the matter is that this decision was intellectually dishonest. I think it is a rare procedure that should only be available when the woman's life and health is at stake.

But, what this court did is it took that decision, and it said -- put a Trojan horse in -- through dishonest reasoning, laid the groundwork for undoing Roe v. Wade.

BIDEN: That's the danger of this decision. Not the specific procedure, but the rationale offered to justify, I think, the next step they're going to try to take.

--- He admits that life begins at conception, opposes public funding for abortion, and supported the ban on partial birth abortions, otherwise his record is solidly pro-choice.

Interestingly, according to Fidelis, Biden's own bishop has spoken out on the issue:

Biden's own bishop, Bishop Michael Saltarelli of Wilmington, Del., has said that the issues pertaining to the sanctity of human life are the "great civil rights issues of this generation.”

Bishop Saltarelli denounced the notion that politicians can 'personally oppose' abortion, but refuse to pass laws protecting the unborn.

"No one today would accept this statement from any public servant: 'I am personally opposed to human slavery and racism but will not impose my personal conviction in the legislative arena.' Likewise, none of us should accept this statement from any public servant: "I am personally opposed to abortion but will not impose my personal conviction in the legislative arena,” said Bishop Saltarelli.

In fact, Bishop Saltarelli made clear that pro-abortion Catholic politicians should refrain from receiving the Eucharist.

"The promotion of abortion by any Catholic is a grave and serious matter. Objectively, according to the constant teaching of the Scriptures and the Church, it would be more spiritually beneficial for such a person to refrain from receiving the Body and Blood of Christ. I ask Catholics in this position to have the integrity to respect the Eucharist, Catholic teaching and the Catholic faithful.”

--- This choice might appease some, but it does not change my mind. I'd love to hear some other bishops' opinions. Archbishop Chaput?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Hot Mass Haiku

Heat wave Mass -
moved by the Spirit
and the fans


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

On the road - and some updates

We are off today to take youngest sprout back to college (Wellesley, near Boston). That means a couple of days away from the computer.

After the dire predictions of doctors last week, dad has been released from the hospital and is back at the nursing home! He is still in rough shape. He's weak, lost a lot of weight, and needs oxygen. Hopefully, being back with his friends will help in his recovery, but I wouldn't be shocked to learn when I get back that he's been hospitalized again. I did kid Fr. Steve that after he anointed dad he seemed to get better, and that maybe this was a way to make money for the parish. Blessings for a buck!

Keep those prayers coming, please!

The novel is up to 33,000 words plus. My goal is 35,000 for the summer. I have a few days left after we get back. Tick. Tick. Tick.

I also reconnected with this blog and started posting regularly again.

Other summer goals did not fare as well. No play finished - I did the research, but did not come up with the right angle for the Hershey one.

The article for the historical society newsletter is still in the works. I might still get that one done. Maybe.

Of course, I just learned yesterday that I'm teaching a course I had not expected to teach - Food and Nutrition. I taught that a few years back, and it was fun. It means cooking with the kids. Gotta get some recipes ready. Any good cooking ideas to use with middle schoolers? (Kitty Litter Cake is always a hit!)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Morning Mass Haiku (Senryu)

New priest pauses Mass
to get the hosts he forgot -
Nervous Ordo?

Labels: ,

An Obama cartoon


Monday, August 18, 2008

I'll let Mark handle this one

Mark Shea was a naughty boy at Inside Catholic and on his blog (August 18), making comments about "Angry Traditionalists."

Time to get out the comfy chair.

Orthodox vs. Traditional (Traditionalist)

On Saturday I went to our local Catholic bookstore. Given my bibliophile ways, that's always a risky thing to do.

My main reason for going was that in an anthology of Catholic poetry I had come across some poems by Jessica Powers (Sister Miriam of the Holy Spirit). I liked them, and I remembered spotting a collection of her poems at the store.

I did indeed find The Selected Poetry of Jessica Powers, which I bought. But as always happens with visits to the store, I left with a few other books as well.

I found a copy of Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light, which I had wanted to read. I also found O Holy Night, a collection of Christmas poetry (and I collect both religious poetry and things Christmas).

But the first book I am reading from that trip is The Tide is Turning Toward Catholicism by David J. Hartline.

Early in the book, Hartline offered in a footnote some "clarification" about the differences between "orthodox" and "Traditional" Catholics.

He says an orthodox Catholic is "someone who holds to and obeys the authentic teachings of the Church." Traditionalists may be orthodox, but they "are characterized by their profound attachment to the pre-Vatican II Mass."

He goes on to point out that some of these Traditionalists are not orthodox because of their beliefs that some portions of Second Vatican Council are not valid, or attach themselves to "schismatic movements that have rejected the authority of reject the authority of their local bishops and the Pope."

Hartline's clarification makes sense to me. Although I have had my wanderings and spiritual missteps I think I would qualify as orthodox, but clearly not a Traditionalist. I follow the teachings of the Church, but I am not one who has a strong desire to attend pre-Vatican II Masses, nor have I rejected Vatican II. I have attended some pre-Vatican II Masses, and thought they were nice and applauded the fact that they clearly meet some people's spiritual needs, but did not feel the need to attend regularly myself.

I have probably improperly used the terms "orthodox" and "Traditionalist" interchangeably before, but will refrain from doing so any more.

As for me, I guess I am an orthodox Catholic. That label is okay with me.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Franciscan Saint - St. Roch

It's Sunday, so feast days get superceded.

Too bad. Today is the Feast of St. Roch, a secular Franciscan who helped take care of people with the plague. According to one story, he got the plague himself and went off into the woods to die, but a dog brought him food and kept him alive long enough to recover. He later died in prison.

Many images of him include a dog, and he is the patron saint of dogs.

Maggie might just wag her tail for him, even if we are not celebrating his feast this year.

Labels: , ,

Barack Obama: "It's people!"

I watched the Saddleback forum last night with interest.

I thought both John McCain and Barack Obama did well - though I think McCain did more for his chances thanks to his showing.

Obama's responses on abortion and embryonic stem cell research reinforced my perception of his stances on these issue - stances with which I strongly disagree. But I've long considered him in bed with Planned Parenthood, the billion dollar abortion business, anyway.

However, his answer on stem cells brought back a movie memory.

My mind works that way.

One of his arguments was that they would be using embryos that were going to be discarded anyway. I suddenly thought of the movie Soylent Green. In the movie, Soylent Green is a food fed to people on an overpopulated future Earth. Charlton Heston plays a cop who in the process of investigating a death finds out how Soylent Green is made.

It seems that when people die, their bodies are processed into Soylent Green and fed to the living.

The bodies were just going to burned or buried anyway, right?

The movie ends with Heston warning others about Soylent Green: "It's people."


What Obama and the others of the pro-choice/pro-stem-cell-research camp seem to forget is that we are not simply dealing with some separate species called "embryos." We're dealing with people.


St. Padre Pio Chapel's new Mary statue

The good-looking-one and I stopped by the St. Padre Pio Chapel for some prayers and quiet time. To our surprise, the Blessed Virgin statue that had recently been donated to the chapel was already out even though it is not scheduled to be officially unveiled until September.

A pleasant surprise.

Labels: ,

Friday, August 15, 2008

40 Days for Life in Rochester

The national "40 Days for Life" campaign will take place in Rochester - with a Catholic (and a Knights of Columbus member) in charge and Planned Parenthood, the billion-dollar abortion business, as the focus.

According to the Catholic Courier, José E. Rivera of St. Leo's Parish in Hilton is the local director of the campaign, which will run from September 24 to November 2. The 24-hour prayer vigils will take place outside the Planned Parenthood clinic and killing center at 114 University Avenue in Rochester.

Everyone can help, even if it's just an hour. I plan to sign up.

If you are a local person and want to get involved, here's the contact information: e-mail or call 585-305-1224.

If you are not from Rochester, check to see if there is an effort near your. According to the Courier, there are vigils planned for at least 175 cities in 45 states.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Mary statue donated to St. Padre Pio Chapel

Paul Saltarello of Auburn has donated a 350-lb stature of the Mary to the St. Padre Pio Chapel (here in sunny Gates, N.Y.).

According to a news story, he visited the chapel several months ago and "was struck by its beauty and reverence for the saint" (I agree). He then donated a restored Virgin Mary statue that was in his basement for more than a decade.

The statue was originally inside a shrine at the St. Francis of Assisi Church in Auburn. The church was going to replace the 53-year-old statue with a "more modern" one and were going to demolish the old one, so Saltarello saved it.

The statue arrived at the St. Padre Pio Chapel last week., It's apparently going to be unveiled September 21.

I look forward to seeing the statue.

Here's the full story:

Franciscan Saint: Maximilian Kolbe

Today is the feast of St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe, a Polish Franciscan priest who was arrested in 1941 for speaking out against the Nazis and for hiding thousands of Jews in his friary. He was sent to Auschwitz where he took the place of a married man with children selected for a group to be executed. That man not only survived the war, he was able to attend St. Kolbe's canonization ceremony in 1982.

Lord, I pray that if ever faced by such evil I would be able to show such courage.

YHWH is a no no

Rome has spoken. "Yahweh" is no longer to be part of Catholic liturgies - and that includes hymns.

Catholic News Service ( and other news sources say that the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments issued a letter dated June 29 that said there is a tradition in the Church of not pronounce the Tetragrammaton (YHWH) and thus "Yahweh" is to be avoided.

"Apart from a motive of a purely philological order, there is also that of remaining faithful to the church's tradition, from the beginning, that the sacred Tetragrammaton was never pronounced in the Christian context nor translated into any of the languages into which the Bible was translated," the letter reads.

That means a few hymn have to be rewritten. Of the top of my head, I could think of only two that I remember singing, Schutte's "You are Near" ("Yahweh, I know you are near ...") and the Weston Priory's "Yahweh." ("Yahweh is the God of my salvation ..."). I don't recall using either in recent years. The CNS Story also mention the hymns "I Will Bless Yahweh" and "Rise, O Yahweh" - neither of which I can recall ever singing - and says there are a few others that contain the name. Another one that someone reminded me of is Schutte's "Sing a New Song" ("Yahweh's people dance for joy...").

I guess this means that we won't be using U2's "Yahweh" ( in church either. Dang. Bono's gonna be bummed.

Dad: Roller Coaster

Things looked much better with dad yesterday.

He was sitting in a chair, and he recognized us and talked to us rationally. He did drift back to sleep very quickly, and still talked about things or people not there, but he was able to carry on conversations. That was a major improvement since earlier in the day when I was there when dad opened his eyes a few times and squeezed my hand, but then quickly went back to sleep.

The question is, is this a temporary reprieve thanks to the added oxygen and he will decline again, or is he on the way back?

I don't know. I feel a bit on an emotional roller coaster. But at least yesterday I could smile. And even if it does turn again, the girls got to see him and talk to him in a better state than the last time they were there.

Thanks for all the prayers. And thanks to Father Steve for anointing dad yesterday. Treatment is great, but so is prayer.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Dad: The Next 24 Hours

Dad has taken a turn for the worse. Carbon dioxide buildup. Low oxygen intake. Pneumonia. No longer fully conscious.

The doctor's say the next 24 hours will tell. If the oxygen assistance helps by tomorrow, he has a chance. If it does not help, they cannot continue this method. Once they stop, and with his not wanting extraordinary means, the end will then likely come within a couple of days.

I called the girls. They will be there tomorrow night. We will know by then which way it is going.

It's in your hands, Lord.

Newman: Beatified Catholic Convert Poet?

At Chesterton and Friends I recently wrote a piece about Catholic Convert Poets.

That post was in response to another blog's lisiting of five Catholic Convert Poets: Denise Levertov, Gerard Many Hopkins, Thomas Merton, Oscar Wilde, and Paul Claudel. I mentioned that G. K. Chesterton had been left off the list. I also named some others, including Cardinal John Newman.

Cardinal Newman is in the news for another reason: He is apparently one step closer to beatification.

According to a news account in the Daily Mail, a miracle has been credited to him. Deacon Jack Sullivan from Boston, Massachussetts, prayed to Cardinal Newman and recovered from crippling back pain.

The article says Cardinal Newman could potentially be beatified as early as December. If a second miracle is attributed to him, then he would be one step closer to being declared a saint.

Of course, even if he is not recognized officially, he would still be a saint. And a poet.

The Sign Of The Cross

WHENE’ER across this sinful flesh of mine
I draw the Holy Sign,
All good thoughts stir within me,
and renew Their slumbering strength divine;
Till there springs up a courage high and true
To suffer and to do.

And who shall say,
but hateful spirits around,
For their brief hour unbound,
Shudder to see, and wail their overthrow?
While on far heathen ground
Some lonely Saint hails the fresh odor,
though Its source he cannot know.

The latest on Dad

Last night, more hallucinating by dad. He saw mom, who died in 2005, plus some other people I could not quite identify (including one man who was allegedly going to hit me on the back of the head). Dad also said mom was accusing him of killing someone, he accused me of speaking against him and basically betraying him, and he told the doctor I was running off with a woman.

Just after the surgery, even as he hallucinated, he would have long lucid stretches in which he could talk with me and others. It's gotten worse, and there are few if any lucid moments any more. They are fiddling with medication to see if that's causing this, or if it's just part of the postoperative "dementia" some patients get.

Yesterday, he was also running a slight fever. That's something new.

They have him in restraints because of his agitation and to prevent him from tearing out his IVs.
He had problems last year after his initial surgery, but this is worse, and longer lasting.

I'm not sure how aware he is, but if he is, this must be so frightening and frustrating. I know it is difficult for me to see. We both need prayers.

After the funeral yesterday for Steve (choir member), I asked Father Steve to stop by the hospital to see Dad if he gets a chance.

Monday, August 11, 2008

St. Clare

Today is the Feast of St. Clare. My oldest daughter was named for her - Catherine Clare, but everyone calls her Clare. If she had been a boy, she would have been Kenneth Francis.

You think maybe we were slightly Franciscan in orientation?

One of the traditions we had when the girls were young was giving them feast day gifts. Usually the gift was some some religious item or special book. As they got older, we stopped the gift part, but we continued with remembering them on that day (I called Clare).

There's also St. Bridget of Sweden and St. Emily de Rodat for my other two daughters.

Happy Feast Day Clare!

"You outta be in pictures"

With all that's going on with dad, a lighter note.

The disreputable fellow below is me.

It's a still from the short movie Enter the Dagon.

Yes, I was in a movie. It was a locally produced horror/comedy/parody. Think H. P. Lovecraft martial arts film!

I play Zadok (a drunken sailor), Sir Andrew Stryzik (a British actor), and an audience member in a pizza scene. The Zadok scene was scripted. The Sir Andrew scene was all ad-libbed.

In the trailer, I appear about 37 seconds in - the drunken sailor with the whiskey bottle being waved in his face. (Caution, after me, a "writer" comes on who says some things some people might find offensive. And despite what he says, there is no nudity in the actual film.)

It's silly (this comes from a guy who played a regular character on a local television show called Clown Town), but it actually won a couple of offbeat awards!

First Place - Short Film Competition, HorrorFind Weekend 2004.

Best Fan Film - NecroComicon 2004.

I own a print of the DVD. I occasionally show it to relatives and friends.

They smile politely.

ETD did not make the Vatican list of quality films.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Dad - steady as he goes

No overnight phone calls from the hospital - that in and of itself is a good sign.

I was over there last night, and all three of the girls showed up. That was a surprise - two of them were off camping, but came back just to see dad (just in case). They are good girls.

Dad is still hallucinating and somewhat disoriented. He mentioned the bugs he's been seeing, but other things were even stranger. He asked when he was going back to the hospital, and mentioned cleaning the back porch, and declared he'd had a bowel movement in the bed pan (nothing there). And he keeps talking about physical therapy and getting back to walking and the assisted living residence he used to be in, and not the nursing home. A lot of this can be attributed to the painkillers and the disorientation that results from serious surgery and his condition. I hope that's all that it is.

On a positive note, his spirits are up - though who knows how he'll take the Bills' loss! (I keep telling myself, it's only preseason.)

(LATER - I went over for a brief visit. Stable. They are changing his meds because of the hallucinating/disorientation. He was asking me about why the ambulance was waiting, and why strange people were in the house and could I delay them until the police arrived!)

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Nagasaki haiku

a break in the clouds
gave way to sunrise –

Dad in ICU

I got a call after midnight last night. They were moving dad to the Intensive Care Unit.

His heart was showing signs of damage and continued stress after the heart attack he'd had the night before. He continues to experience chest pain. His kidney function is off. He's building up fluids in his lungs.

The doctor wanted to let me know what was going on, and to make sure that dad's DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) directive was still in effect (he had indicated to her it was). I told her he'd made it plain he did not want extraordinary methods used.

She said I did not need to rush in, but the move and the fact that she called me after midnight indicates things are getting much more serious.

I could not get back to sleep for several hours. And the cat and dog were not about to let me sleep in this morning!

I'll shower shortly, make some calls to family, and head in to the hospital.

UPDATE: I was getting in the shower this morning when the doctor called (does that woman never sleep?). She said he had stabilized and was better than he was last night. She said he's still not out of the woods, but his spirits were good and his heart seems less stressed.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Dad and the bees

I wrote about St. Padre Pio and Brother Bee, now it's time for dad and the bees.

My dad had major surgery on Tuesday, and they've got him nicely doped up with pain killers.

He's seeing bees.

On Wednesday, he was convinced they were building a nest in the television in his room. Yesterday, they, and some other bugs, were crawling on the walls and on visitors. Oh, there was also a picnic involving dogs, and a window on an inside wall.

Hmm. Must be good stuff.

I'm going back to see him today. If he's still buzzing, maybe today is the day to play cards and put money on the games.

Really dad, I have five aces. Really.

UPDATE: Turns out dad had a mild heart attack overnight. He's okay, as far as one can be okay after a mild heart attack. In between doctors and tests today we traded jokes. I'm back home to restock my supply of jokes.

Prayers are also welcome.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Missing Mass, Missing the Point

The other morning I went to a local church for morning Mass. The priest, noted for his off-the-cuff homilies, caught my attention with one comment.

Missing Sunday Mass is not a mortal sin.

That one stopped me short.

I knew that for a sin to be mortal certain criteria have to be met - full knowledge of the seriousness of the offense, willful intention, etc. - so that in many circumstances missing Mass without good reason may still not be mortal. The missing person may simply not realize how serious it is.

I also knew that there can be a variety of mitigating circumstances under which it is not a sin at all - being sick, caring for a sick person or a small child, being in a place where it is physically impossible to get to Mass, etc.

But I was certain that under the right circumstances it is indeed a mortal sin.

I could not talk to him at the time, but later when I went home I checked on line and in some of my books (including the Catechism of the Catholic Church).

As far as I could tell, my understanding was correct

This morning I went back to the same church. He was the celebrant again. After Mass, and after people had left, I asked if I could talk to him.

I mentioned that I had been troubled by what he had said. I explained that I understood that for a sin to be mortal certain conditions had to be met, and that there can be legitimate and non-sinful reasons for not making Mass. But I said that under certain circumstances, the Church teaching is that it is a mortal sin.

He started explaining that it wasn't a mortal sin, and then what mortal sin is, and I pointed out that I was aware of the conditions. I also pointed out that I had consulted some sources. He told me that I'd obviously misunderstood them and that unless there was continued, willful, knowing missing of Mass there was no mortal sin.

I told him that I agreed with his last point, but that the statement that he had made was a broad one that did not point out the nuances of the teaching. I said that people need to hear full and clear teaching in the homily. He told me that he knew the people at the Mass, and that they understood what he meant.

Later - why is it always later? - I realized I could have mentioned that he could not be sure that all those people did fully understand, that some of those people may not have been properly catechized, or that there might have been a visitor present who did not know what the official teaching is.

At the moment, though, I simply sensed the discussion was getting nowhere, especially when he started in about people putting God in a box and so on. I respectfully said that it would still be a good idea when dealing with complex issues in a homily to point out the nuances. Then I wished him well and left.

It is not my role to judge when people miss Mass. That's between them and God. I am a sinful man and I need to take care of my own soul.

Nor is it my role to judge this priest or his intentions. Only God can read what lies in a man's heart.

While I do not criticize him personally, I felt I had to address his words. They are potentially misleading. Part of his job is to teach the faith completely and accurately. Perhaps because I spoke to him respectfully, maybe this good priest will consider my concern and be more aware and cautious. I place that in God's hands.

I pray for this priest, even as I try to keep watch on my own words and the harm they can cause.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Dad surgery news

Dad came through the surgery to reverse his colostomy okay.

But it turned out to be more complicated than the doctors had thought, and what had been predicted as a 2-2 1/2 hour procedure took nearly 6 hours. The doctor finally came out at 8:30 to the empty (and already locked!) surgery waiting room last night to say it had been successful, and to suggest that we go home and get some rest. We did.

Now we have to wait to see how he heals. At his age and health, that's always a concern.

Still, it's amazing they can reverse colostomies now. I always thought that once you got one long term, that was it. But apparently it's becoming more common to reverse them.

God sure made a lot of skilled people!

This morning, it's off to the Good-Looking-One's doctor to find out more about the sudden appearance of osteoporosis and the deterioration of the bones in her hips. She'll then head off to work, and I'll be off to the hospital to see dad.

Please, keep us in your prayers.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Dad - and the novel

Dad goes in for surgery this afternoon. It's to reverse the colostomy he got last year. He hates it, feels embarrassed by it.

There is danger. Any surgery of that nature and at his age and condition is dangerous, but he has been adamant. He's aware of the risks, but he almost seems to welcome them. His attitude is that if he can get the colostomy reversed, great, his quality of life will be better. And if he dies, that's better than the way he is living now. He knows that there is a chance he might live and be worse off, but that does not seem to matter to him.

I don't agree, but it's his choice. Even though I have power of attorney and I'm his health care proxy, I did not feel this situation justified me overruling him.


As for the novel, I wrote more this morning. Up over 31,000 words now.

Public Catholic Art

A couple of people commenting on my post about the closing of Holy Redeemer Parish asked about pictures of the interior of the church building. I have none -and the building is now used by another denomination, so I don't know what they still have in there, or where the Catholic art - statues, paintings, and so on - might be.

But the comments got me to thinking again about religious - and especially, Catholic - art in churches and public places.

Those earlier thought had been prompted by a Rochester website listing public art - I had wondered then if it might be possible to have a site devoted to local Catholic/religious art.

Yes, I know, that opens the door to endless debates about what qualifies as art and the quality of that art. What some people consider profound and moving other people might consider trite or old-fashioned, and what other people people regard as powerful and inspiring other people might consider cold or too modern. Some people are moved by one style of architecture that other people might find too ornate, others might be happy with another style of architecture that other people find plain. Some people find such things important to their worship and spirituality, others just don't care about such things at all. And if one group was selected to chose what qualified as "good art and architecture," another group would likely oppose that group and its choices.


As for me, I have neither the equipment nor the technical know how to do justice to such a project. Just this morning I took my camera to my parish, St. Theodore's, for morning Mass, and discovered that I did not know how to overcome the glare from the glass over one painting (a more traditional one). Other pieces demanded a steadier hand to get a straight picture!

Here's three pieces that I did photograph.

Outside the main entrance there is a statue of Mary. Art?

Inside the church there is another statue of Mary, "Blessed Mother with Children of the World". Art?

There is also a painting called "Christ the Healer". Art?

My own taste runs to icons and wood carvings. Of the three pieces of art I've posted here, I like the outside statue of Mary best (maybe because it is in nature surrounded by flowers?). But that does not mean that the other pieces might not be appreciated by others. Or that the other small statues in the church, the more traditional painting that defied my photographic skills, the angels flanking the altar, etc., might not prove inspiring for others.

One of the beauties of the Catholic faith is that it is "catholic."

Sunday, August 03, 2008

The falls of my youth

(While I did fall for her, she's not the falls I'm referring to.) Yesterday, the Good-Looking-One and I went to the Fox Run Winery Garlic Festival. The winery is located on the western shore of Seneca Lake south of Geneva, where I grew up.

Mmm. All sorts of garlic treats. Oh, and wine, too. (I'm a beer person, anyway, and as the designated driver, did not sample.)

On the way home, I took her on a tour of Geneva, showing her the two homes I lived in there, my church and grade school (St. Stephen's), and the homes of a number of my friends, including two with whom I am still in contact, Dick Grabman and Dave Nittler. She liked Grabman's home: next to the cemetery!

I also took her to one of the spots I used to love as a youth - a small waterfall on Wilson Creek out near Slate Rock Road. It was about 2 miles from my second home in Geneva, and I used to jump on my bike regularly and ride out there. Then I'd climb down the ravine to the base of the falls.

When I was younger, it provided a peaceful place to sit and reflect, to watch the minnows, to just get away from the world for a while. The pool was not deep enough to swim in, but it was fine for wading. Sometimes I'd just walk along the shore, exploring, taking in nature. I felt close to God. I still find myself feeling closest to God when I'm out in nature.

If I lived in Geneva, I think I'd still wander out there periodically. God did a good job.

Labels: ,

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Novel update

I crossed the 30,000 word mark earlier today - then went off to a garlic festival at the Fox Run Winery south of Geneva with the good-looking-one. (She must really love me - after I sampled all those garlic delights, she was still willing to kiss me.)

As I am writing, I am discovering more things about my characters, things I will have to go back and allude to when I rewrite.

35,000 is getting closer.

As for coming up with another title besides the working title of "Swedenborg," how about "Incomplete"?


Goodbye Holy Redeemer

The parish council at Our Lady of the Americas Parish has voted to close two of the cluster's churches and to consolidate at the third church.

Holy Redeemer/St. Francis Xavier and Mt. Carmel churches will close this fall, and Corpus Christi Church will remain open, but be known simply as The Church of Our Lady of the Americas Parish.

The pastor, Father Vincent Panepinto, said that at Corpus Christi there will side shrines devoted to St. Francis Xavier and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, and that the Holy Redeemer also will be represented in the sanctuary.

He said the parish is also trying to determine if it will be financially feasible to move the 110-year-old marble altar from St. Francis Xavier Church to Corpus Christi . That altar formerly resided at St. Patrick’s and Sacred Heart cathedrals, and was first used by Bishop Bernard J. McQuaid, who founded the diocese. There's a bit of history I hope won't be lost.

The Corpus Christi facilities are in the best shape. Financially, it was logical to centralize operations there.

As I've noted previously, I have strong ties to Corpus Christi, even though I stopped attending there in the early 1990s when it strayed away from the Roman Catholic Church.

But I also have ties to Holy Redeemer.

In 1976 when I was a seminarian, I stayed at the parish for the summer. The pastor, Father Ted Metzger, was away most days - if I remember correctly, he was taking classes - so our contact was not as frequent as I would have liked, for I enjoyed the times we did talk. A good and gentle man.

The rectory has a coupula where I used to like to sit and read and pray. Even then I liked my solitude.

The coupula helped to inspire my first published poem, "The Widow's Walk."

It was at the parish that I also first tried my hand at being a liturgical musician.

It was also at that parish that I realized that I was called to a married vocation, not the priesthood. Father Metzger was the first person I told.

The old rectory was long ago torn down. The church was sold and the parish moved to St. Francis Xavier, which was later joined with Mt. Carmel and Corpus Christi.

Now even Holy Redeemer's name will be gone.

I understand what's happened to city parishes. It's happening not only here in Rochester, but in cities across the U.S. Populations shift to the suburbs and it becomes financially impossible to keep the old city churches open. But that does not lessen the sadness old-time parishioners will feel. And even though I was not an official parishioner, the news brings back memories and a certain wistfulness.

I wonder if there will be a fund to help move the marble altar? I'll have to check on that.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Secular Franciscan Order

I made some contacts to get information about the Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) locally. I knew there were two fraternities, but I did not know exactly where they met or when.

I got word yesterday and today. One group meets on Friday evenings about 10 minutes from my house at a hospice I have supported for years! The other meets on Monday evenings in a nearby town, about 20-25 minutes away. Monday evenings are when the liturgical band I'm in, Rock of Faith, practices.

Hmm. Could Someone be directing me a certain way?

I will go to the nearer group when next they meet (in September) to see what the meetings are like, to meet the members, to try to discern if this is a possible path.

On a related note, I recently stopped by the local Catholic book shop and noticed they had a copy of Rossellini's The Flowers of St. Francis, a movie that's on the Vatican list of great films

The USCCB describes it as: "The Flowers of St. Francis (1950) Remarkable Italian production about the beginnings of the Franciscan Order as its founder sets the example of humility, simplicity and obedience for his first followers at Portiuncula, a little chapel near Assisi, from which they depart into the world to preach peace. Directed by Roberto Rossellini from a script co-written with Federico Fellini, the movie's form is as simple and sincere as the subject of the narrative which relates a series of little incidents realistically, yet with an infectious sense of joy marvellously conveyed by an anonymous cast of monks from a Roman monastery."

The Good-Looking-One and I watched it over the last two nights. I enjoyed it. Because it consists of vignettes, it's one of those movies you can watch in installments. There are sections I will view again. It also made me wonder about the play potential of the little stories told about St. Francis.

A spike that saddens me

I went to my site meter this morning, and noticed there was a sudden spike in page views in July - more than 1,400. That's my second highest total in the last year (1,800 plus last December).

It's due, I suspect, to the recent interest generated by a piece critical of some of the "Super Vatican Unofficials."

I'm sure that traffic will die soon. Good. It saddens me. The piece was written in a pique, and, as I've always acknowledged, my mouth (or my typing fingers) are my own worst enemies.

On rereading the piece, I can see how it might be taken as critical of traditionalists - especially the comment about the wearers of medals, scapulars and hair shirts. The hair shirts was the real point of that line - building from two normal things to something that's absurd. After all, I wear a scapular, and in the past have worn medals and crosses. But still, some folks might see that line and feel slighted or offended. Sorry.

I have nothing against traditionalists. Given my beliefs and actions, I could easily be taken for one. How many people do you know who go to shrines on their anniversaries?! Or hang out in chapels? Or read theology and spiritual books on their summer vacations? Or blog about G. K. Chesterton?

The target of the post was the nit pickers and the people who seem so full of anger and hurt.

Ahh, but there's that word "target." Am I any better?

Rather than trying to argue, or trying to tweak them, I should be praying for them, asking their prayers for me, and seeking reconciliation.

And asking their forgiveness.

Sarcasm is not the way to promote dialogue, or to foster Christian community.

I need to keep in mind the model set by St. Francis.

(I have replaced the original post with a slightly altered version of this one. Pax et bonum.)